Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Back to Normal

First I was sick for a week.
Then I had no extra energy for a week.
Then we had another blizzard and our office was closed for a couple days (and THIS TIME I WAS GOING TO MAINTAIN THE DRIVEWAY AND SIDEWALK if it killed me.)
And then there was the long LOVE weekend which (sort of) included Family Day and Valentine's Day.

Despite numerous attempts to gather my kin, I couldn't make it happen. They all have friends. And plans. And I understand.

So I went to the lake bt myself and watched the ice melt.

Which, admittedly, was pretty spectacular.

Yes, I was feeling a little sorry for myself.
Everywhere I  looked people were holding hands.
And Facebook was just one happy family after another posting their adventures.
Haha. Nothing like feeling like a loser on Family Day especially if you work for an organization during the week that's All About Families.

And it didn't help that I read this. Because it made me question/doubt what I was doing two decades ago.

Right on the heels of Family Day was Valentine's Day... another day that emphasizes how not married I am.

Whoa. What a whiney mess.
Totes embarrassing. Get a grip woman. THIS IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU.

Bring on Feb 15.

Nothing but lengthening days and rising temperatures ahead.
Thank you, God, that Spring is just around the corner.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. The new series on Netflix: Abstract - The Art of Design. I'm finding it fascinating.
2. The book, Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight. My boys have all read it and recommended it to me. Also fascinating. (Story of Nike, by it's founder.)
3.Lovely email from a colleague at work that undid me. A card in the kitchen from my mom. Then a beautiful surprise in my bedroom that had me bawling. Daughters are the best invention ever.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Family Day + Valentine's Day = Love Days

Show them you love 'em by having dinner together.

Two videos that got me in the feels tonight:

Best conversations always take place around a table, yes?
Wishing you a couple of good Love days; hoping you can share a meal with those you care about most.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Companies and organizations that inspire and motivate.
2. A stat holiday in February.
3. Meal time memories.


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Family Day Weekend

After three solid weeks of feeling less energetic than usual and two weeks of extreme winter weather - things took a turn for the better at 5 on Friday.

The view from my office looked promising.
The storm clouds were moving on, and clear skies were being uncovered.
Plus, my cough was becoming less annoying.

I picked up groceries for my mom, took out the garbage, emptied the dishwasher, and checked on the basement (Drew and Dani are moving back in this weekend). With the driveway and sidewalks cleared, and the porch was tidied, and I felt OK about going away for a night or two. No one had been out to check on the cabin and Chilliwack had received 30" of snow last week... It was the responsible thing to do.

So at 8:30 I packed up two back packs, my laptop, some notebooks, a crate of food, some books, my camera and I headed east toward the full moon. The skies were clear and sparkly. The roads were dry and empty. And I felt so free. 2017 has been a bit rough so far. Nothing big, just a Cold From Hell, Blizzards, Storms and Snow, and Uncertainties re: housing.

But on Friday night, I felt peace.

I stopped in at Nestor's to get some milk and eggs. I stood in the 12 Items Or Less line, behind a 20-something year old guy who was buying a bunch of vegies and a steak.
Him: I'm so excited to get home. I'm having steak tonight.
Her (clerk): Uh huh.
Him: And I'm making my own salsa. With lots of cilantro. I love it.
Her: Apparently, some people hate it.
Him: I heard that. Like, it's a genetic thing or something.
Her: Yeah.
Him: Well, I love it. And I make it with .... (and he starts listing all the groceries he's buying.) This is what I love about being an adult. I can eat whatever I want. It. Is. So. Awesome.
Her: Adulting. It's just the best.
Him: It really is.

Haha. I took a pic of him with my phone, because I thought, while this conversation was happening, that I'd blog about it and having a photo to go along with it would be nice. Better than a wall of text. But then.
That's just creepy.
And chances are someone might know him.
Too awkward.

Anyway, I was invited to move over to the CheckStand 4 because Flirty Clerk was taking forever to get that order rung up. I paid and left and they were still discussing the advantages of being an adult. ("Wine! I'm going to have a glass of wine with my steak...")

I got on the freeway with half a tank of gas, and decided I'd stop to fill up at Whatcom Road because a) gas is cheap there and b) there's always a lot of Pokemon there.
(Yes, I still catch them. And there's a Valentine's special on right now. DOUBLE CANDY and all the pink Pokemon would be out in force.)

I pulled into an empty Petrocan station at 9:30. While I filled up, I had my phone out and was in the midst of catching a couple Lickatungs when I heard two cars pull in. Their mufflers had been tampered with, and they were revving the heck outa their engines. One million decibels of sound broke the silence I had been experiencing. Before filling their tanks, they revved their engines a few more times, for good measure.

I didn't look up; I had some pink Pokemon to catch.
"Our cars are pretty annoying, eh?"
I looked over my shoulder to see if he was talking to me.
He was.
I shrugged and went back to my phone.
"Like, they're really loud, right?"
He was probably in his early 20's.
"Uh, no. Not annoying. I've got three sons. I'm used to noise."
"But do your sons have cars like these?" he wondered.
"No, not really. But my one son did have a couple drifting cars."
"What? Drifting?"
He turned to his buddy. "That's way cooler than us."

After that, he went back to filling up his car. And I caught a Jigglypuff.

The temperature was 5 degrees, so the roads were not frozen.
The stars were super bright and other than the snow on the fields and in the median, it could have been a summer night. I mean, if you're driving at night, with the heated seat keeping you warm, seasons don't really make a difference.

Until you try to enter a yard that hasn't been cleared and there's 12 - 20 inches of snow....

My truck has been completely reliable this winter. I have not slipped, nor gotten stuck on any road or lane I've driven on. I've got good tires and a 4WD, and it's a truck, so it sits a lil higher than a car. I had it serviced in December so I have been confident that it can handle whatever I encounter.

Except 12 - 20" of packed snow.

I entered our neighbourhood at lil after 10 and it was dead quiet. Whoever was up for the weekend, was all tucked into bed for the night. I drove slowly down the lane, checking driveways to see who was around, then drove into our yard and got stuck. The snow was so deep it came up over my bumper. My truck pushed snow forward for a second, then my backwheels just started to spin. There was nothing to get traction on. Just snow and snow and more snow. So I put it in reverse and backed it out. And took a running stab at it again. But I just sunk into more deep snow.

Totally new experience for me.

So I broke The Number One Rule of Cultus Lake and parked on the road.
I slung my backpacks over my shoulders and pulled the crate of food out of the back seat. I took a couple steps towards the house and sank. It was so deep it came up over the top of my boots. I trudged toward the house, where the snow had drifted up the stairs and made my way to the porch. I repeated this three times because I pack like an idiot and had brought a million things to do.

I'm really quite done with snow.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. I just started and finished this book today. I suppose you watch Fixer Upper?  So you totally know who Chip and Joanna are. Well I haven't had cable in, like 4 years, so I am not acquainted with their awesomeness. But they sure have inspiring lives, eh?

After reading it, I sent them both a thank you message for sharing their story. Then I made a detailed To Do list that has 1,559 items on it. They accomplish SO MUCH, and have fun doing it. With 4 kids.

2. I'm thankful for winter and cozy places and bathtubs with no sliding glass doors and complete silence and fresh cold water and solitude and books and lists and stories and peace. 

3. I am thankful for long weekends and Family Day and families in general and my family specifically. I am thankful for boys, sons, young men, dads. I am grateful for conversations and online chats and text messages and kids. I am so glad I have friends and a sister and a brother and some cousins and a mom. God knew what He was doing when He made us to be community-minded. We need each other to be better people. 


Friday, February 10, 2017

Not Today

So, every single day, since late June I've been checking the new listings that come onto the market. 
Every. Single. Day. 
Plus, I've been praying, Every. Single. Day about the market. our financing, our future neighbourhood, and the direction of the backyard (south-facing, please). Along with praying about my housing needs, I've been praying for my mom and what's best for her. 

The plan was, I was going to buy a house (finally! It's been a few years) with Drew and Danica; they'd live in the basement suite, I'd live upstairs. 
Separate laundry, kitchen, entrance, etc. 
The plan was to buy in the summer/early fall and move in just before/after the wedding. 
We've all been praying, that, if this is God's will for us, we will trust in His timing and look forward to seeing where He wants us to live. And if this wasn't His will, He'd make that very clear. 

What we didn't plan on was the craziest, most chaotic, most unrealistic Real Estate Market of the Century to take place exactly when we started looking. By the end of the summer, it looked hopeless. (Was this a sign from God? Was this His way of saying, "Sorry, no. You have a good plan, but it's not MY plan. So, no. Jane, you are to stay at your mom's and I have something totally different in mind for Drew and Dani." OR was He saying, "Trust me. I know it looks hopeless, but I can do this. Just wait... I have something perfect in mind for you.") 

It's confusing when you don't have a sense of how God is answering your prayers. 

But then, in mid-Sept, The Perfect House came onto the market. And I knew, I just knew, within minutes of walking through the front door, that This Was Home. I told Nancy, my realtor, that I wanted to write up an offer right away. EVERYTHING on my dream-house list was checked off, including the southern back yard and a breezeway that connected the garage to the house. Drew was mentally moving their things into the basement and it was going to work just fine for them. PLUS it had a coach house. 

It. Was. God's. Gift. To. Me. 
And I was so grateful. 
SO thankful.
SO in awe of how generous He is to me. 

The kids were super excited.
My friends were super happy for me. 
But my mom was sad; this was hard for her. 

I changed my prayer from "God, please, please, please let this deal go through..." to "God, please make this deal go through, only if it's what's best for me, Drew + Dani and mom. If the timing isn't right for her, then I don't want the house." 

The deal fell through and I had my answer. 
This was not God's plan. 

I was all kinds of disappointed, ("That house was PERFECT. A gem. A shiny jewel. We'd NEVVVVER find another house as wonderfullllll") but trusted that He had a plan in mind. 

Drew and Dani got married and were offered a brand new townhouse to live in, rent free for 3 months. The townhouse was just minutes from Dani's salon, and the owner was one of her clients. This had the hand of God all over it. 

Not knowing what else to do, I've continued looking at listings Every Single Day. 
And spending lunch hours driving by houses. 
And walking through open houses on weekends. 

There hasn't been a single house in our price range, with a basement suite and coach house in months. And months. 

Until yesterday. 
I opened the email, like I do every morning, and say, "God? Is this the one?" anticipating that one of these days, I'll see a listing and Just Know. 

Yesterday was that day. 
I checked the price first. 
It was in our sweet spot. 
I look at the first few photos next, and the house looked promising. 
I could live there. 

Then I read the write up. 
A suite.
A coach house.

I sent the link to Drew/Danica and within seconds they respond with, "WE NEED TO SEE THIS HOUSE."

So I made arrangements to see it that afternoon. 

"God? Is this Your gift to us? It seems perfect. We are SO excited. So very excited. The timing is perfect, Drew n Dani need to move out of the townhouse and the location is ideal, and the price is right, and is this OK with You? Is this good for all of us?"

Danica had to work, so Drew and I walked through it at 5 pm during the 2nd Great Blizzard of 2017. Snow and freezing rain was pelting us, the streets and sidewalks were buried under a foot of snow and the world was grey. 

We walked through the house and saw all the imperfections. Carpet was dirty. Walls would need repainting. Finishing wasn't the quality that I'm used to. There was very limited street parking. And the backyard faced north. 

We were about 85% thrilled with it. 
But if we could get it for the price it was listed, it would be good investment. 

I got in touch with our realtor about an offer and she said she'd call the listing agent first thing in the morning. 

At noon, at work, today, I joined a few colleagues in the boardroom where we watched a taped chapel service from our office in the States. Liz Curtis Higgs was the speaker. Her message? That God loves to do the impossible. When it looks hopeless and not-do-able, He will surprise and astound you. He will do things that will cause You to say, "Only God could have made this happen. I had nothing to do with it..."

I checked my phone after watching Liz's talk, and saw the text messages from my realtor. The house was sold. It sold a few hours after I'd viewed it the night before. An offer came in that was so amazing, the owners had no choice but to accept it. 

I got into my truck, drove over to Shopper's, bought a bag of Cadbury Creme Eggs to binge on while I cried and prayed. I texted Drew and Danica to let them know.

Drew: Wow. LOL.

Danica: God always has a plan, and He will always take care of us. There's nothing to worry about. We will always have a roof over our heads and when the right house comes along we will absolutely know and everything will happen the right way!


I pulled myself together, bought 8 litres of mouthwash (to clean the blackboard wall in the creative department at work), a fruit platter, and some popcorn then drove back to work to celebrate a birthday and oversee the cleaning of our wall. 

I'm pretty sure God has something in mind. Something better than I could ask for or imagine. Something that is good and right for me, for my kids, for my mom. Something that will have us saying, "Only God could have made that happen."

In the meantime, I'll keep praying and looking at listings. 
In the meantime, I'll keep trusting and hoping. 
In the meantime, He is still good. 


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Timely message from God through Liz Curtis Higgs recorded in December, viewed today, exactly when I needed to hear it. 
2. Amazing response by my kids.
3. Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Shalom, xo