Wednesday, February 28, 2007


My friend would have turned 51 this year. As I read this again I am reminded of the legacy she has left in her children and the empty place at every family dinner. Heavenly reunions will be all the sweeter for them someday.

I was standing outside the house, gardening the day she drove up and told me she had been to the doctor. The cancer had come back she said. It was so matter-of-fact that I wasn’t sure I heard her correctly but in the days to come she, her family and friends began to process the news.

Her story has been nothing short of a miracle really. Before we had even met she had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and given two years to live. I remember her telling me how she began at that time to pull away from her friends, from her family...preparing to say goodbye. And then, with only the intervention of God, she was healed. She went on to have twins and when they were about a year old we met. Our boys were nursery buddies.

It wasn’t long until we were welcomed into the fold. You didn’t stay a stranger long in her circles. Hers was a house you walked right into - the door was always open. No need to knock - just pull up a chair, pour a coffee and join the conversation. She share her home, her life and her faith. Often she would tell me about someone here or there she had met, shared her story with and led to the Lord. Oh, yes, and they would be coming over shortly if I wanted to meet them.

The year the cancer came back the two of us were home schooling our children and spent time almost every day together. It was that year she went through her first round of chemo. She was determined to stay strong, not let it affect her but even in the early days it was a struggle. Despite her weakness, with God she was strong. Bad news, cancer or otherwise was to be taken to God in prayer and WE were to keep on being obedient. During that time I watched her continue to touch those she encountered every day.

I remember one ladyspecifically from our small town who also had cancer. The two of them had their appointments on the same day in the city hospital. She recognized her in the waiting room and went over to talk. She shared her story and gave hope to one who sitting quietly in a hospital needed something greater to live for. Cancer was not as strong as faith on that day. It wasn’t just because she was a people person either - it was because she knew the power of a life saved. Saved from sin and saved from death.

She loved. Her friends and her family. If you were over in the afternoon she would always get the coffee ready so that when her husband came home it would be waiting for him. She was always looking for ways to honour him. She was a typical mama and fiercely proud and protective of her children. She prayed over them, worried over them, bragged about them - loved them. They each bear a part of her and will carry a legacy of faith throughout their lives.

She loved life. She fought and prayed to live as long as God would allow. She reminded me often we have not been promised a life without struggles and heartache but we are called for a greater purpose. It is not that grand purpose for which many ascribe; fame, or knowledge, or significance, but rather a life of obedience and service. In the seemingly mundane "daily-ness" of life you could catch glimpses of Heaven as bodies were healed and even more miraculous lives were restored. In was in those everyday events, with everyday people that she became the hands and feet of her Savior.

On her family, her friends, and even strangers, she left indelible fingerprints that have touched our hearts and made us so much the better to have known her.

She is finally in the place her heart has resided for so long. Today, she sees it all, not as a mere reflection in the mirror, but clearly revealed in the face of her Saviour. For her there is no more suffering but only joy as she saw Jesus, waiting at an open door to take her in His arms and welcome her home.

...If You Want Me to...

Ginny Owens is a young Christian singer. She is blind and I have often wondered how hard it would be knowing you would never see your husband as you walk down the aisle, your child take his first step, or many of the other precious things in life. I'm still learning seeing clearly does not always come through human eyes. Sometimes, it comes from insight and understanding that can only be seen through the Holy Spirit's vision. This is one of my favorite songsby Ginny and one that always reminded me of my friend and has been playing around in my head today... I thought I'd share...

The pathway is broken
And The signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley If You want me to

Cause I'm not who I was When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone
So When the whole world turns against me And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the valleyIf You want me to

When I cross over Jordan,
I'm gonna sing, gonna shout
I'm gonna look into Your eyes and see
You never let me down

So take me on the pathway that will lead me home to You
And I will walk through the valley If You want me to

Thursday, February 22, 2007

...the Path to Hollywood...

Has anyone else marvelled over all the talent that makes its way out from the church pews and onto the stage of American Idol? This year is no exception. I went through the bios quickly and over half of them say they will thank "God" if they win. ...ya ya... most actors in Hollywood will say the same thing on Oscar night - and while I'm not implying that any of them have a greater or lesser relationship to God I am impressed by the ones that talk about him like He's a friend.

Also, I'm Canadian and so none of those guys are from my small town...instead I'll vote for my other hometown - Heaven - cause that's where I am apparently gonna meet a few of them someday. Ironically, the one's our family are really impressed with seem to be mostly from the same "hometown" further babblings here are my picks...

Melinda Doolittle - I loved Randy's comment that others have much bravado and little talent and she was the complete opposite with much talent and little bravado... but she can belt it out - she was brought here for "such a time as this" Shine girl-Shine!

Jordin Sparks - is a real spitfire - and 17!! But she is young and that depth that comes from well, living, is just not developed yet. I love her but the momma in me wants to see her wait a few years...

Lakisha Jones - Musta been the best first night performance evaah! She can sing, she can move - wow. And when she was done I loved watching her soak up the praise like a sponge - slowly the words are permeating her heart - like a chrysalis coming out of her cocoon, - fly butterfly!

...and the boys...

Well they have yet to really show enough...

I still have my fav's -

Chris Sligh - He has a following apparently - The "Fro-patrol" makes me smile and one day he may make David Hasselhof cry - just hope he stays humble.

Blake Lewis - His voice is kinda like a smooth lindor truffle. Loved it.

Phil Stacey - American Idol's young dad. With those piercing blue eyes, terrific voice and three girls cheering him on at home he is already a winner.

It's still snowing outside, I can hear the wind blowing it all around but American Idol gives me 5 [five!] bright hours in the week...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

...Tonight it Starts...

The top 24...yes - all fellow American Idol fans know this is where it gets good - - and I think I've found my IOC (Idols of Choice). While I like talent I think the music sounds better when it comes from a place of depth and character. Kinda like the depth of flavour that comes from marinating a steak.

Check these two out... and
Check out his Blog here - who-da thought a MK on American Idol!

...Bubblegum and Other Things to Chew On...

We have a 5 bedroom house and each room is full of kiddy things. One day, when my kids are all grown up, I will hope to have a guest bedroom and it will be a room of words - I love words. I can picture it. Some written on the wall, some in frames, maybe even a few on pillows...I want it to be a room that inspires me more from the shared thoughts of others than the decorating prowess of one.

These are a few of contenders that may one day be emroidered on a pillow:

  • Better to spend our time on people than our money on things.
  • That which costs us too little we esteem too lightly.
  • Moments of Silence are part of the Music.
  • Teach me to number our days that I may gain a heart of Wisdom Ps 9o:12
  • If we lose this battle it will not be because our God was not strong enough, nor that Satan was more powerful, but that the saints did not show up to fight...
  • It's better to raise a child than repair and adult.
  • Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashionable.

Friday, February 16, 2007

...Eyes Wide Open...

So Saturday morning I woke up, had my coffee in bed with my darling husband and realized what the strange feeling I was having was - it was Target withdrawals. You would have to be a Canadian or something like it to experience this phenomena however. You see Walmart made its way north many years ago but despite the rumours Target has yet to peek its toe into our country. When we go on vacation it is my favorite store to visit. The kids always joke around when we see one - "Mom - it's your store!"

I'm not sure what brought on the feelings this time - it may have been the laundry that still waited in the hamper and the bathroom floor...and the cold, wet stuff that had already been through a cycle Friday afternoon... it might have been that the cat is in heat and sounding loveeely... or just the knowing that the snow outside my door was gonna keep us all inside these walls for yet another weekend.

Then we got a brilliant idea.

It was time for a mini vacation - to Target!!
(Actually just south of the border to stay in a hotel that happens to be near a Target store.)

We went online and got the name of a few hotels and then my darling Hubby called "Tom" from the Fairfield Inn and got us a great deal on 2 rooms. Wow - two rooms. That was a first for us. But we have 4 children now and trying to pack us all in to 2 double beds just isn't working for anyone anymore. So now the older three Cookie(10), Pickle(9) & Coco(12) got their own "Executive King" to themselves - complete with their own card to open the door and microwave and mini fridge. Let me tell you it doesn't take much to please them yet. We threw in an indoor pool and mom and dad were heroes! The girls, Cookie & Pickle got the king size bed and big brother Coco got the pull out couch. The verdict was out on who actually got the remote control.

I should tell you about getting over the border. We picked the line that didn't move. While all four other lines kept creeping along we sat still...and waited. I noticed that even in the other lines the border guards were being ultra diligent - checking through trunks etc. I wasn't sure whether someone was being difficult ahead of us or whether we got the border guard who was in a bad mood and ultra picky. Finally the line began to inch along and we eventually made it to the front. "Kids," we warned, "remember no on talks unless they are spoken to - now quiet!' We went through the ritual, handed over all the birth certificates etc. and waited while she inspected them.
"Where are you going?"
"Just away for a bit"
"How long will you be in the US?"
"Until tomorrow" (Gasps from the backseat - the kids think we are there for the day.)
"Where are you staying?"
"The Fairfield Inn"(more gasps and whispering)
"How's T?" (T is our 3 year old foster - soon to be adopted son who has a travel letter from the agency). My son shouts out "He's sleeping!" from the back of the van. I cringe but she smiles. She goes on to ask us about fostering, how long we have done it etc. Then she smiles and hands us back our ID and says,"What a nice thing to do to foster - that's great - have a nice day." And we were off - no inspection at all.

"We are staying overnight??!!"
We had been trying to keep this a secret so mom and dad could see the the excitement on their faces when we drove up to the hotel not the Target.
"No," I say "Dad just said that so that we could bring back more stuff from the US."
"So, my parents lied to the border guys to get more stuff...we learned about that in Sunday School last week."
I cringe - now in a dilemma over whether I should tell them or not - I decide to keep it going because this could be a great lesson.
"No", it's technically not because we can always change our minds and come home early."
Well my brilliant son wasn't gonna take that for an answer. "He continues to mutter in the back along with his sisters, "How'd ya like that - My mom and dad lied....they lied and said we were staying in a hotel."
I was feeling a bit guilty and the hotel was minutes away so I turned around and announced that we were staying at a hotel. They cheered a bit but the whole moment was lost- darn border

Well we swam, we watched TV, we went shopping even to Target...we made mini memories on our mini-vacation. And then it was time to head for home. It was a beautiful sunny day, the roads were clear and the sky was blue, blue, blue...until we got closer to the lake. What a difference 15 minutes makes. The sky went grey, the snow was falling lightly but there was snow and drifts all over the roads. I didn't think much of it. We are Canadians and this is winter. My husband is a good driver...

And then we hit the icy patch. Our van began to slide all over the road into the other lane and back...and then into the ditch. A big deep ditch actually. The kids were screaming in the back.and when we stopped the snow made a big whoosh over our car.

There we were...stuck, just a few feet from a tree...on the side without hydro poles...with no cars around to have collided with...everyone was seat belted and sitting properly... Angels guiding us straight into the safest thing around - a big pile of snow. A driver stopped, we got a tow truck to pull us out - my little T's real live "Tow Mater" (think "Cars" movie)- he was thrilled.

My older son said it best..."Wow, what a weekend, We went away - my parents lied - then they didn't lie, then we went into the ditch..." What a weekend indeed! Although it ended up not being such a big deal all the couldas I mentioned earlier kept going around in my head. It showed me how much we are not in control of anything in this life really. We can be careful, we can teach our children, we can do everything within our power to control outcomes but in the end we still need our God to take the wheel. The one who sees the future and will guide us every step - good or bad. The one who loves our kids even more than we do. The one who can take a spinning car and land his children safely in a snowbank - reminding us how fleeting this life can be and how eternal He really is.

...blankets of grace...

I don’t believe in re-incarnation ... but...if I did I can tell you I musta been a Southern Gal. Probably would have been Miss Melanie’s friend but secretly wanted to hang with Scarlett. The fact that I wouldn’t have been a handsome rum-running hoodlum likely meant she would not have given me the time of day... but I digress.

In reality I live in Canada!! Can you believe the contrast from peach trees to snow tires! If I look out my window there are huge fields of white as far as my eyes can see. Interspersed are a few houses, barns and silos. The snow is fresh and white which is a good thing because come February there are often times that everything has become grey and mucky and rather dreary here.

There are a few (and by a few I mean not very many!) Good things about the snow. ..
Firstly, it looks awfully pretty at Christmastime when the twinkly lights reflect against it and put everyone in a good mood.
Secondly, I love snow days. Not the ones when the school buses are cancelled but when all the roads are closed and even hubby can’t go to work. We sit by the fire, cosy up and enjoy a day in.

Pure bliss.

Thirdly, snow covers a multitude of things. I have four children...who all have many friends...who all like to play in our yard. It’s awesome all year but come autumn I find my yard filled with pretty much everything you could think of as well as many you might shake your head at: Toys, gardening implements, weeds I have not pulled, enough clothing items to start a thrift store long since discarded while in or waiting for a turn at the trampoline, chewed up doggy stuff, leftover bricks from the girls pyramid project and, well, I could go on, but you get the picture. I look out at the mess daily and think - I gotta get at that stuff and clean up before winter. But in those grey days when all the leaves have fallen and there is no colour anywhere I find myself agreeing with Scarlett's anthem that "tomorrow is another day!"

Then it happens.

The kids come screaming into our bedroom at 6:00 in the morning, "Mom, come look out the window!" By then I already know what has happened because the reflection from the snow already has made the house brighter than it has been in weeks. I look out and smile as the blanket of white covers up all the unfinished business in my yard. It grants me a reprieve until spring.

King David must have know the same feeling. Psalms 51:7 says, "Wash me and I will be whiter than snow." I’m sure it wasn’t just the color he was referring to but also the covering of grace that blankets a multitude of sins leaving everything pure and clean. It lifts the grey off our shoulders and allows us to curl up and just spend a peaceful day with our God.

Wishing you a white day cosied up with the King of Kings.


She sat at the table, body failing, mind more alive than ever. I felt as if I should glean every ounce of knowledge from her time in the valley. Looking into her gaunt eyes and watching her flinch in pain made me wonder if this was what nearing the end of life looked like.“Did you have the transfusion at the hospital here, or after they transferred you?”“Oh,” she exclaimed as her face suddenly lit up, “let me tell you about that.”My friend, has the unique ability to find a God moment in every situation. Sometimes you just shake your head, but seeing the strength of spirit as she straddles death’s door, I am reminded that her faith is real and this is what happens when you spend a lifetime hanging out with the King of Kings. So, I sit back, smile and listen, as she speaks.“I had the transfusion in the hospital here,” she began. “The nurse came in and explained all the risks and side-effects of having the blood. There were a lot. At the very least, however, I would have irritation at the site. This is someone else’s blood going into you and it is unfamiliar to your body.”
I had no idea.
She continues with a smile. “I looked up at the nurse and asked her if she was a Christian.” Like anyone who knows my friend, I grinned, this was a usual question for her. “The nurse looked at me and paused...Uh, yes, she guessed she was. So I asked her if she would hold my hand and agree in prayer that there would be no ill-effects from the transfusion, and well, yes, she figured she could do that. So in the hospital room we held hands and I prayed over that blood. Then she started the drip. I watched that blood enter my hand and immediately became overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for the person: who I felt was a man. He had donated his blood to give me life. I would have died without it.”
She was right, after the first Chemotherapy treatment for late stage Lymphoma her blood counts had dropped so low she was forced to lie in a hospital bed fevered and isolated from her young family. Without the transfusion she would have died.
“I began to pray for this person, because even though I didn’t know who it was, God did. I prayed for his family: for his salvation. I prayed that he would be blessed because of his gift. He gave his blood for me. I was able to come home once again to my family because of it.”
In a day and age where even church’s want to remove all mention of something as grotesque as blood I was reminded once again of it’s importance. A precious, life-giving substance that poured out can give hope to another. I was reminded of my Saviour. Nailed to a wooden cross He too gave His blood. The day I decided to accept His gift I received my own transfusion of sorts, one that gave me another chance – for without it I would surely have died.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

...on cave dwellers...

Sometimes, in the midst of planning for greatness God calls us to hunker down in a cave. The best of the best have been there.

Observe David.

A young man at the cusp of the kingdom goes into hiding. To his credit, he knew to wait for God’s perfect timing. Others, like me, get swallowed up by that infamous whale. Determined to chart our own course we sail off in the direction of disobedience. It’s funny how we often find ourselves sitting in a slimy, fishy cave. That’s love. You see in the dark, when God seems most quiet, he is most assuredly working a transformation of character to bolster us for the next leg of the race. In a day of instant gratification we might ask why he chooses such a long process rather than handing our character over to us right away. It’s simple really: the load would be too heavy to carry.