Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Family Dinner. And Happy Birthday Clint.

Family Dinner.

8 over 30.
8 under 30.

2 Turkeys.
1 Ham
10 lbs of potatoes

Plus the extras.

After supper - two games:
Apples to Apples in the Living Room
Trivia Pursuit in the Dining Room

Thanks, Jim, Julie and Daryl for doing the dishes.

I kinda just love my family.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Evenings like this.
2. My boys.
3. And the rest of my clan.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend - Part Two


Easter Sunday.

I started the day by figuring out how to turn on my new phone app: Pacer.

then I texted Mandi and asked her if she wanted to go for a walk. To someplace pretty, perhaps?

She replied, "How do you feel about getting muddy?"

We met in the driveway and hopped in her truck. She drove us to Bothwell Park, where, when I was 11 years old, and a student at Tynehead Elementary, we had our Sport's Day.

(And where, when dad's cows needed greener pastures, they would come to graze. Usually in the baseball diamond. Behind 2nd base. Oh those cows.)

I am standing where the big swing set used to be.
Not much of a park these days. Just wet grass.

Mandi led me into the back corner of The Farm (the 25 acres I grew up on) via a trail through the park:

Through a forest grove:

Past some really big trees that were only saplings when I was a kid:

And then we ended up at my creek.
Me, Jim and Jule spent alot of time down here. There was a deep part, and we had a rope swing.
And oh. The memories.

FLOODING MY MIND being there.

We continued our  walk through what WAS an empty field when I was a pre-teen. We rode our motor bikes through here. Now? There's just the cow path and a whole bunch of trees.

I guess trees are good.

But I miss those wide open fields.

This is all that's left of a tree fort that my dad built for his grandkids:

And this was the 'way back' field. (Below) We had an oval motorcycle track back here. It was quite a ride from the house to get here... It felt like no-man's land.
And now?


You have no idea how weird this looks.

We wandered all over the property. All twenty five acres.

I was surprised how many spots on that farm held different memories for me, during different decades of my life. My preteen years. My teen years, before boyfriend. Teen years with a boyfriend. The years I lived there as a newly married twenty-something year old. Then the years I worked there, at Billies, as a new mom.

The years I came back as a newly divorced mom of three.

And the final visits when we packed dad and mom up and moved them off the farm for good.

SO much of my life.
All good.

We were on our way back to the parking lot, when Mandi warned my to watch the barbed wire. The fence that my dad had put up, almost 40 years ago, had been trampled down. So I carefully stepped over it, looking down, and remembering the day/week/month he fenced the property by himself with a hand auger for all the posts.

While I was looking down, a branch with thorns on it attacked my head...

And kinda dug in. As I moved forward it opened my scalp along my part:

And while it's definitely NOT the same, I have an idea of the pain Jesus felt when they put a crown of thorns on his head.

By the time we were done, I had walked my 10,000 steps for the day.
I also had muddy feet, soaking wet clothes, (because it started to pour half way through out walk) and a bloody scalp.

Making this a most memorable Easter.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. A niece who doesn't mind walking with me.
2. A thick head.
3. Memories of the best childhood ever.


Easter Weekend - Pt One

As mentioned, Thursday night was fraught with angst.
Haha. Is fraught even a word? How come I used it? Where did that phrase come from? WHO AM I even?

To recap: Thursday night, I was at the lake, by myself in a buzzing, then not-buzzing (because I was brave) cabin. The rain was ridiculous but lovely. My cabin-bedroom is the best spot on earth for listening to night sounds like rain and frogs and crickets and creeks and wind in the trees. So there was that.

On Friday, Mark and Heather drove up to see about my electrical wish list. Mark's an electrician and he was going to install a WIFI operated thermostat for me so that I could adjust the heat FROM MY PHONE, whenever I felt like it. (I predicted I'd feel like adjusting the cabin's temperature about one hour before arriving on every future visit.) After a few hours of fiddling and diddling, it became apparent that we could cross that off my list. It wasn't going to happen. (Unless we bore a hole in the ceiling, walls and floor.)

For the past 15 years I've arrived to a freezing cold cabin and waited an hour for it to unthaw. I guess I can do this for the next 15 as well.

Then he had a look at the fireplace. Which hasn't worked in 15 years unless you're my brother-in-law and you lie on your stomach and you cross two live wires and deal with the sparks and flick a switch. Which I haven't been comfortable doing.

He predicts we can probably cross, 'get fireplace to work' off my list, as, after one quick glance, he could see three things wrong. And he's not even a gas fitter. So. Sigh. He'll replace a something and check another something the next time he comes. But I'm being realistic with my expectations.

My other wish list items had to do with yard lights, deck lights, motion-detector lights... He'll come back someday in the future and see what he can do.

I called the emergency number on the sewage treatment/septic pump thingy in the basement that was having issues, and left a message. But my call was not returned. So at 5:30 I packed up my things, locked up the cabin and called it a day.

I went to church.

To the 7 pm Good Friday service at Northview:

I was hoping to catch a different Good Friday service, as I had my doubts about my ability to fully appreciate this one. The Calvin Dyck quartet was going to perform Joseph Haydn's composition based on the last words of Jesus before His death. There would also be responsive and dramatic readings. Truthfully, this is my least favorite type of church service. I'm just too dumb. But all my other options for less artistic services took place in the morning, and well, yeah, I was still in bed.

I'd been to the symphony earlier this week, so maybe I was growing up? Maybe I'd be moved? Maybe the beauty of the music would penetrate my stone cold hard soul? :)

Not so much.
It was fine, but I wasn't moved to tears. I couldn't sing, or tap, along.
But the folks around me, who were likely more educated in musical appreciation, were very enthused. So it was just me. And that's OK. I kinda expected my reaction going in. So, YAY, again, for realistic expectations.

I got back to my mom's house and wished I had a working TV with BluRay player in the basement. But after spending close to a thousand dollars in cables and adapters and equipment and whatnot last summer, I realized I have to make peace with that too. So, once again, I put my ear buds in, and watched a movie on my laptop.

I am sure everyone on earth had a better, family-filled, love-filled, joy-filled day. It was just me who had a black cloud overhead. The positive side of having a not-fabulous day is that I muttered/prayed alot. And was in an appropriate mindset to appreciate Jesus's not so good Friday all those years ago.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for dying for me. And for everyone I love.


The rain?
Continued to fall on Saturday.
So I got soaked on my grocery shopping trip.
A person cannot hold an umbrella and unload 34 bags of groceries from the buggy to the truck, and then again from the truck to the house. I miss my house and the ability to park in the garage.

Since when did shopping/preparing for a family dinner for 16 take all day?
It always has?
No wonder we I do it so rarely.

After I got everything put away, I went to church... for the Easter Sunday (He has risen. He has risen, indeed) Service. (Seeing I prefer the Saturday evening service, I was celebrating his resurrection less than 24 hours after I contemplated His crucifixion.) Whacked, I know.

Can I say something?
Everyone in the world should go to church on Easter Sunday. I am serious.

Easter Sunday is the Academy Awards Show for Christian churches. You are going to get the best we can offer on Easter Sunday. The first line plays on Easter Sunday.

If you're not sure what Christianity is, or what church is about, or who Jesus is and what God's plan has been - then Easter Sunday is when  you should pop in to church. All your questions will be answered. In the most joyful, non-threatening environment ever. And the music? Regardless of what your preferred style is, the music will bypass your brain and sink deep into your soul. It's just that good.

So church was amazing on Saturday night, is what I'm saying. As I sat there, soaking it all in, I was praying that everyone I love/have been praying for, would be invited (and brave enough/out of excuses) to attend an Easter service somewhere in the world. (When Jeff's sermon is available online, you should totally listen. It's about unmet expectations.)

Yup. It totally was.
And how people have a hard time surrendering to God, because they have unmet expectations about Him. They think He should make their lives easier. Better. Happier. Richer. Whatever-er.

And then Jeff ended by reading this article. It was written by Kristen Powers who is an American political pundit and columnist who writes for USA Today. I needed to hear her story because I've become pretty sceptical about people becoming Christians as adults. I needed to hear that God is still in the business of woo-ing/calling people into a relationship with him. And that people who are set in their ways are still capable of responding. Her statement: "The Hound of Heaven had pursued me and caught me—whether I liked it or not" was exactly, EXACTLY what I needed to hear. 


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Messages from God to me, via Jeff.
2. Easter means something.
3. Answered prayer.

Happy Easter, friends.

Friday, April 18, 2014

I like the icing best. Also, no rodents or monsters.

Lookit me being all brave.

Actually don't. Look at me, I mean. I don't have any make up on.

But still. Know that I was brave tonight. And I mostly hated every single second of it.

After work, and after dinner with a friend, and after picking up some groceries, all I had on my mind on this miserable, horribly wet, stormy evening was a soak in a bathtub. So I pointed my truck east and headed up to the lake.

(I was having an emotional day. Some things weren't going as I had hoped, so I had a little pity party during my lunch break and willed myself not to cry. I did OK. Mostly I just ranted to God.

Disappointed with myself, I headed back to my office, determined not to dwell on things I have no control over. Half an hour later I got a message from reception, "Margret is here with a snack for you. If you don't come quick, it'll be gone."

As I turned the corner, coming down the centre, glass-encased stair-well, I saw Marg sitting on the bench, and in her lap was this:

So colourful. 
So festive. 
So Easter.
So perfect.
(It's paska, by the way.)

"I don't know what I'm doing here," she apologized. "Here, in this high security building, 'n all ..."
Then she continued, "But the Lord laid you on my heart, so I baked for you."

I gave her a hug, and invited her up to my office.
"Is something going on with you? Why would God nudge me, about you, today?"
I closed my office door and we talked. And teared up. And maybe cried a little bit. 
And then we both felt better. )

So, as I was saying, I had an emotional day and the lake was calling me.

I arrived well after dark, and the rainfall was torrential. I grabbed my backpack, purse, laptop and cooler and by the time I got to the bottom step, I was soaked.

Plus, it was at the bottom step that I realized the house was buzzing. 


So I climbed up the rest of the stairs and the buzzing got louder. I unlocked the front door, went inside, and the noise was louder still. I did a quick check of the main floor, then went upstairs. The noise was definitely coming from the basement.

Of course it was.

I hate the basement. 

I opened up the back sliding door and walked around the deck.
It was pitch black out there. And windy. And raining. And I didn't want to go down to that basement by myself.

I wanted to call someone. 
Someone who loves me. 
Someone who'd come and look after this for me. 

Second time in one day I was feeling sorry for myself.

I am such a loser. 

I made a phone call. I was told to just deal with it. So I pressed 'end' to hang up, then clicked on my flashlight app (best app ever) and said out loud, over and over again, as walked around the back yard, then ducked under this, and climbed over that, and pushed this and pulled that, entering the dark, unlit basement, "Me again, God. Let there be no rodents or monsters in here. No rodents or monsters. God. No rodents and monsters...."

The light switch is on the far end, so I manoeuvred around piles of lumber, stacks of chairs, yard tools and broken toys to find the hidden light switch under the ceiling beam. "God, please no rodents or monsters. Or spiders. No rodents or monsters..."

I walked towards the thingy on the wall that was screaming at me. It was the septic pump. And the deafening noise was the alarm, indicating that something was seriously wrong. I found the switch that turned off the annoying racket, and continued my mantra, "God, no rodents. No monsters. No rodents. No monsters... and please no sewage waste seeping up through the drain..."

I took note of the phone number on the device, then back tracked out of the basement - first to turn off the lights, then around all the crap stored on the floor, then out through a hidden door, and over this and under that, all the while talking to God about monsters and rodents. 

And then I was back in the house. 

All safe. 

And empowered.


All I wanted was a bath. 

However, with the septic pump not working, that's out of the question. 

Three things I'm thankful for:

1.While I'm not a fan of actually being in it, I love the sound of rain falling when I'm all cuddled up in bed. 

2. Also, the sound of crickets and frogs through my open window is pretty awesome too.

3. As is the sound of the creek.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mr. Allison

After work this evening, I went straight over to Kinsmen Lodge to visit my dad.

I opened his door and walked in. He was laying on his lowered bed, fully dressed (black leather jacket, red shirt, turquoise bolo, blue jeans, belt, socks, shoes).

Me: Hi Dad!

Him: Oh hi! Did you get a good price?

Me: From when I sold my house? Yeah. Pretty good.

Him: Is Drew going to take over Langley Concrete and Tile?

Me: He sure thinks so.

Him: Who died?

Me: No one this week.

Him: Alot of my friends are dead.

Me: Not dead. They're still alive. They're in heaven right now. Waiting for you to join them so they can get the party started.

Him: I'm not going to die. I'm not sick. I feel fine. No pain at all.

Me: I know.

Him: You used to have a plum tree.

Me: Yup. You loved those plums. But I sold that house. I live in your basement now.

Him: You dooooo?

Me: Uh, huh. In that bedroom across from your pool table.

Him: Ohhhhh right. I have a pool table.

The music that is playing on his CD player is skipping so I get up.

Me: Dad, this CD is scratched. Should I put a different one on?

Him: OK.

I open up his drawer and see this:

(Haha. Someone is color coding his DVD cases. Just like my bookshelves. I love this...)

I grab a stack of music CD's and push aside his tower of recently viewed DVD's when he interrupts me...

Him: That movie that you touched, I was single when I saw it....

He keeps talking but I've sort of tuned him out because I'm taking the above photo.

Him: ... and she was single and wanted to see a movie ...

Me: Uh huh.

I'm now looking through his CD's, deciding which one I should put on.

Him: ... and it was a date ...

Me: Uh, huh. A date...  Hey dad, do you want to listen to this?

Him: No, that movie that you touched, that was the first one I took Hil to. It had Robert Mitchell in it.

Now I'm confused. I have my phone in my hand, so I google Robert Mitchell. There are many. None are actors.

Me: Do you mean Robert MITCHUM?

Him: (excited) YES! Robert Mitchum. It was a Robert Mitchum movie.

Me: (scrolling through movies that RM made in 1958 (when my mom was 18 and dating) and later. I list them off.) Thunder Road? The Hunters? The Angry Hills? The Wonderful Country? Home from the Hill?

Him: No. No. No.

Me: (Wondering how I'm going to get out of this whole train of thought we've found ourselves on, I got back to 1957. But doubt my mom would've been allowed to go to a movie with her 21 year old boyfriend at that age.) The Enemy Below?

Him: No.

Me: Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison?

Him: YES! THAT'S IT! I was single. And she was single. And she wanted to see a movie. She's never been to a theatre before. So that was the first movie we saw together! We were on a date!

Me: I never knew that. Wow.

I put all the CD's back in his drawer when I notice, there on the cabinet, on the stack of previously watched movies, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. Ohhhh. That's why this is on his mind. I've never seen this movie before, so I ask, "Dad, do you want to watch?"

Him: Sure!

So I turn on the TV and DVD player and it resumes where it was left off.

Me: Whoa, THAT'S Robert Mitchum? Man. He's good looking, eh?

Him: Yes, he is. And he falls in love with Deborah Kerr. She's the nun. And he wants to take care of her. He tells her she is special. And she almost got an award for that role.

Me: No kidding.

Him: Do you have this movie?

Me: Nope. I've never seen it before. Looks like a great movie.

Him. It is! I took Hil to see it on our first movie date. She liked it. She'd never seen a movie before.

Me: Well, that Robert Mitchum sure ...

Him: (interrupting me) Yes, and he has a son that looks just like him.

Me: Interesting.

A few minutes later, the movie ends.
I feel somewhat ripped off.

Me: Oh, we just watched the ending. Is it OK if I put it back on? I'd like to see the rest of it.

Him: Sure! It's a good movie. I was single and Hil was single and she'd never seen a movie before. So she asked me to take her to one on a date...

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. My dad's memories.
2. Gentle visits like this one.
3. I am loved.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I can't even.

Last night I went to the Amy Grant concert. Accompanying her musicians? The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

It was amazingly awesome and tear inducing and over-the-top fabulous and I love watching people do their thing with excellence and joy. And there was much excellence and much joy on the stage last night. Oh yessiree bob.

And the sound. SO rich and full and perfect. Especially during Sing Your Praise and My Word. Oy.

But it wasn't just the incredible life-giving sound that seeped into my soul, it was the lyrics of Amy's songs:

"Better Than A Hallelujah"

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

God loves the drunkard's cry
The soldier's plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

The tears of shame for what's been done
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

So good. 
We? Pour out our miseries. God? Just hears a melody. Beautiful - this mess we are. The honest cries of breaking hearts? To Him? Are better than a Hallelujah. 


But it was more than that even.
It was Amy herself.

She and I are the same(ish) age. We got married, had babies and got divorced at the same(ish) time. Her songs were written during the various seasons of her life, and were born from moments of pain and joy and growth and longing and shame and fear... 

She speaks/sings for me. 
And probably for most women, to some degree, that were born in the 60's. She represents us. And she does it so well.

So, watching her on stage, totally at peace and in her element with that great big sound behind her, and her step-daughter and future grandson beside her ... I just teared up with joy for her.

It is a beautiful thing to watch someone do what they were called/equipped to do. Truly it is. 


What's your thing?
Do it.
Do it well.

With a smile.
And enthusiasm.

And if you can manage, dance at the same time.

We are watching.
And we need to see people being exactly who God created them to be. 


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Youtube
2. Walk along the Fort to Fort Trail this evening:

3. Easter egg hunt at work today: