Saturday, December 08, 2007

A few things I found while researching "The Golden Compass" (while waiting 17th in line for the book to be free at our local library). All of the quotes below are from secular sources. (I intentionally avoided Christian Reviews.)

First - the story line:

"In Pullman's trilogy, Lyra is the new-age Eve, and Will is the modern-day Adam. God is a wizened spent force of an "Authority". And "The Fall" is to be celebrated as the defining moment of mankind, rather than the source of all worldly evil. Little wonder that His Dark Materials has been denounced by some religious zealots."

What did Pullman have to say about his book?

"Pullman, though, expected more. 'I've been surprised by how little criticism I've got. Harry Potter's been taking all the flak. I'm a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people - mainly from America's Bible Belt - who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven't got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I've been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.'"

His inspiration?

"As a teenager, he fell in love with Paradise Lost. 'Books I and II, when the angels have just been thrown into Hell after the war in Heaven. They plot a terrible revenge, to destroy, subvert and ruin the new world God has made.'"

His message?

"Essentially, the trilogy is about the transition of innocence to experience, the triumph of knowledge over ignorance. When we're introduced to Lyra, we're told the inflexible church authorities in her world are anxious to stem the spread of 'Dust'. Only later do we find that Dust is good - 'the totality of human wisdom and experience' is Pullman's description. It's the religious zealots trying to prevent the spread of wisdom who are the bad guys, even if they wear clerics' robes."

Fantasy or reality to Pullman?

"Pullman has been compared so many times with Tolkien and Lewis, it galls him. 'Despite the armoured bears and the angels, I don't think I'm writing fantasy," he says. 'I think I'm writing realism. My books are psychologically real. So I would be most flattered if I was compared to George Eliot, Jane Austen or Henry James.'There's a pause, and the tinkle of a wine glass. "But I don't expect anybody will."'

His motivation for writing the books?

"Pullman has not been shy in the past about verbalizing his beliefs — or, some might say, nonbeliefs — and his intentions in writing the 'Dark Materials' novels.
The novelist has said they are in response to C.S. Lewis' 'The Chronicles of Narnia,' the popular children's fantasy series of which 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' is the first book — written by Lewis to teach Christian ideals to kids.
'I loathe the 'Narnia' books,' Pullman has said in previous press interviews. 'I hate them with a deep and bitter passion, with their view of childhood as a golden age from which sexuality and adulthood are a falling away.' He has called the series 'one of the most ugly and poisonous things' he's ever read."

What do atheists think about the book/movie?

"In spite of complaints about the forthcoming film, Pullman fans and atheists are still excited about the exposure it will give his novels. They say the American literary market is sorely lacking material for those who don't believe in God, and they scoff at the idea that the series is hazardous to children.
'Philip Pullman and I would say it is religion that poisons everything,' said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the atheist advocacy group the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and a co-host of Freethought Radio, a talk show that recently went national on Air America Radio.
Gaylor said her now-18-year-old daughter read the 'Dark Materials' books 'over and over' when she was a middle-school student about the same age as the heroine.
'What this book is about is casting off Church authority,' Gaylor said. 'I think it's very, very positive. There should be something for freethinking children. It's a very good yarn.'"
"We knew from the beginning that the producers of this film intended to leave out the anti-religious references. We think this is a great shame " (Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society)

What Pullman says about himself:

"Blake said Milton was a true poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it. I am of the Devil's party and know it."

What's his take on the daemons?

"T]he story I was trying to write was about real people, not beings that don't exist like elves or hobbits. Lyra and Will and the other characters are meant to be human beings like us, and the story is about a universal human experience, namely growing up. The 'fantasy' parts of the story were there as a picture of aspects of human nature, not as something alien and strange. For example, readers have told me that the dæmons, which at first seem so utterly fantastic, soon become so familiar and essential a part of each character that they, the readers, feel as if they've got a dæmon themselves. And my point is that they have, that we all have. It's an aspect of our personality that we often overlook, but it's there. that's what I mean by realism: I was using the fantastical elements to say something that I thought was true about us and about our lives.""I think [my dæmon]'s probably a magpie or a jackdaw, one of these birds that pick up bright shining things and doesn't distinguish in terms of shininess between the diamond ring and the KitKat wrapper - just as I don't distinguish in terms of 'storyness' between Shakespeare and Neighbours.""[Y]ou don't have a choice in what your dæmon will become. There are many who would like to have a lion as a dæmon, and end up with a poodle! But if I did have a choice, I'd choose a raven. In North American mythology a raven is a trickster. And a storyteller is really just someone who tricks you into believing in their story. So I'd be happy if my dæmon were a raven."

Does he think he's teaching anything?:

(His Carnegie acceptance speech)"All stories teach, whether the storyteller intends them to or not. They teach the world we create. They teach the morality we live by. They teach it much more effectively than moral precepts and instructions."And furthermore:"[T]he act of true reading is in its very essence democratic. Consider the nature of what happens when we read a book - and I mean, of course, a work of literature, not an instruction manual or a textbook - in private, unsupervised, un-spied-on, alone. It isn't like a lecture: it's like a conversation. There's a back-and-forthness about it. The book proposes, the reader questions, the book responds, the reader considers. We bring our own preconceptions and expectations, our own intellectual qualities, and our limitations, too, our own previous experiences of reading, our own temperament, our own hopes and fears, our own personality to the encounter."

An off-subject quote about Creation Science:

"As for disgraceful betrayals of wisdom such as the pretense that there is something called "creation science" and we ought to give it equal time in schools with proper science --- I'm ashamed to belong to a human race that is so sunk in abject ignorance and willful stupidity."

What he thinks about religion:

"The religious impulse – which includes the sense of awe and mystery we feel when we look at the universe, the urge to find a meaning and a purpose in our lives, our sense of moral kinship with other human beings – is part of being human, and I value it. I'd be a damn fool not to.
But organised religion is quite another thing. The trouble is that all too often in human history, churches and priesthoods have set themselves up to rule people's lives in the name of some invisible god (and they're all invisible, because they don't exist) – and done terrible damage. In the name of their god, they have burned, hanged, tortured, maimed, robbed, violated, and enslaved millions of their fellow-creatures, and done so with the happy conviction that they were doing the will of God, and they would go to Heaven for it.
That is the religion I hate, and I'm happy to be known as its enemy."

About his belief or disbelief in God:

"I can see no evidence in that circle of things I do know, in history, or in science or anywhere else, no evidence of the existence of God.
So I'm caught between the words 'atheistic' and 'agnostic'. I've got no evidence whatever for believing in a God. But I know that all the things I do know are very small compared with the things that I don't know. So maybe there is a God out there. All I know is that if there is, he hasn't shown himself on earth.
But going further than that, I would say that those people who claim that they do know that there is a God have found this claim of theirs the most wonderful excuse for behaving extremely badly. So belief in a God does not seem to me to result automatically in behaving very well."

His thoughts on truth:

"I'm for open-mindedness and tolerance. I'm against any form of fanaticism, fundamentalism or zealotry, and this certainty of 'We have the truth.' The truth is far too large and complex. Nobody has the truth."

On Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden:

"The general theme, the general gist of the whole book is that the famous story of the Temptation in the Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man so-called, when Eve gave way to the temptation to eat the fruit of knowledge and tempted Adam to eat it as well, that this traditionally [has] been presented as being a very bad thing and Eve was very wicked and we all got covered in sorrow and sin and misery from then on as a result of this .. well, I just reversed that. I thought wasn't it a good thing that Eve did, isn't curiosity a valuable quality? Shouldn't she be praised for risking this? It wasn't, after all, that she was after money or gold or anything, she was after knowledge. What could possibly be wrong with that?"

What does he think we should reference for our guidance?

"We don't need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do's and don'ts: we need books, time, and silence. 'Thou shalt not' is soon forgotten, but 'Once upon a time' lasts forever."

His take on "The Kingdom of Heaven" and "The Republic of Heaven":

"[The republic of heaven] stands for a sense of community. It stands for joy. It stands for a sense that the universe and we together, have a common meaning and a common destiny, and a purpose. It stands for connectedness between these things. All these things are so important, so fundamental to what keeps me alive that I don't want to be without them. I don't want to do without heaven, but I can no longer believe in a kingdom of heaven, so there must be a republic of heaven of which we are free and equal citizens - and it's our duty to promote and preserve this."

What are the key values in the Republic, rather than the Kingdom, of Heaven?

"Firstly, a sense that this world where we live is our home. Our home is not somewhere else. There is no elsewhere. This is a physical universe and we are physical beings made of material stuff. This is where we live.
Secondly, a sense of belonging, a sense of being part of a real and important story, a sense of being connected to other people, to people who are not here any more, to those who have gone before us. And a sense of being connected to the universe itself.
All those things were promised and summed up in the phrase, 'The Kingdom of Heaven'. But if the Kingdom is dead, we still need those things. We can't live without those things because it's too bleak, it's too bare and we don't need to. We can find a way of creating them for ourselves if we think in terms of a Republic of Heaven.
This is not a Kingdom but a Republic, in which we are all free and equal citizens, with – and this is the important thing – responsibilities. With the responsibility to make this place into a Republic of Heaven for everyone. Not to live in it in a state of perpetual self-indulgence, but to work hard to make this place as good as we possibly can."
"I find it impossible to believe (in God). However, the corollary of that is that if there is no kingdom of heaven, we must have a republic of heaven. We can't have another king. We mustn't have another king. Worshiping the wrong thing is going to lead to trouble, so we have to have a republic, by which I mean that we ourselves in this world here in the physical universe where we know we live have got to make it as much like the traditional idea of heaven as we can.
By which I mean it's a place where we're connected to other people by love and joy and delight in the universe and the physical world. And we have to use all the qualities we have -- our imagination, our intelligence, our scientific understanding, our appreciation of art, our love for each other and so on -- we have to work to use those things, to make the world a better place, which it sorely needs making."

It appears as though Mr. Pullman is singlehandedly trying to disassemble the heirarchy of God's design for man. God's design to have man under Christ, who is seated at His own righteous right hand. Mr. Pullman's message is clear: Organized religion is poison. Seek your own wisdom and follow it.
Many people have said that his book is just a story of Good versus Evil. My question is: Who is good in his books? And, who is evil?
Mr. Pullman hopes to "undermine the church" - a direct quote. How does he intend to do that? By sitting home watching re-runs of Neighbourhood? No. He's written a book, and at the most opportune time, he has released one of them in the form of a mesmerizing movie - aimed at children and their weak or unsuspecting parents.
I have more to say on the issue. Scriptures that come to mind. But, I'll let it rest for now. Marinade in it.

Sounds like I'm 17th in line at the library for a real winner.



Friday, November 09, 2007

It's two o'clock in the afternoon and something is nagging me. I've stopped everything and thought I should work it out here.

Why is it that when I choose to protect my kids from what I have deemed "dangerous" or "contrary" ideas, I am seen as an overprotective coward?

I found my experience public school to be difficult and unsatisfactory in the realm of education and personal development. So, I homeschool my children. And, as a result, I'm prejudged to be a christian alarmist who indoctrinates her children with all sorts of radical christian ideas... and likely to grow bunnies in the back yard.


Whereas the truth is: My kids learn their abc's just like in school... and their school days are filled with science (secular and faithbased for comparison), history, math, language arts and so on. There's no hidden extremist agenda classes in the basement. Nothing other than an open bible every morning... and a lot of discussion about what is right and what is wrong according to that bible. Not spooky, extremist or alarmist. Just what my husband and I thought would be best for our kids.

There's a few fiction stories that have come out in recent years. I'd heard from both sides of the aisle about what we "should or shouldn't do". I took them as suggestions not commands. And, I approached the books/movies cautiously... Eventually I found out that the kids did see the movie when they weren't under my supervision... and it provoked some discussion. Good discussion. My children haven't read all of the books, and as the movies progressed they became less and less interested in their dark nature. (It was already lost on me, so I was fine with the hoopla being over.) They won't likely see the last one... but it will be because their interested has waned.

There's a new movie based on a 12 year old book of fiction coming out. The kids and I were only vaguely aware of it. I came across a dear friend's blog where she writes about the controversy of it all. I did my research and responded. My response? I feel obligated - based on what I learned in my own research - to be cautious. I was also concerned that in an effort to be "openminded" christians may find themselves marching alongside a professed atheist who says he hopes to undermine the church.

Here's a portion of a response that was written right after mine:

"Was witchcraft around before J.K. Rowling brought up the idea of a school of witches and wizards? Uh, yeah. Were there anti-christian people before this author….and many others? Uh, yeah. I think that I agree with Niki on some things that there are ‘alarmists’ and that people often react like frightened sheep……a quick bleat and then turn as a group and run. Nevermind the thing that triggered it was a blowing pile of leaves, or a playful pair of kittens practicing their hunting skills.
I have taught my girls (7 and 14) that before you are afraid of something, try to understand it. Before you freak out and run, do take a good look at things and learn from it. This of course, does not apply to playing in traffic or running with scissors or other maternal must-haves. The point being that being educated and thinking for yourself is not just a good thing anymore, it’s MANDATORY to function in this world we live in now."


The idea of my kids becoming fascinated with witchcraft and atheism is a little more than a pair of playful kittens or leaves blowing in the wind. I am a Christian. Avoiding the very appearance of evil is what I'm learning to do... and I have unashamedly taught that principle to my children too. Though... discerning what appears to be evil and what is really harmless is where the heart of the discussion lies... and it will be a discussion that will never end. There are as many opinions as there are people.

I obviously have a different vantage point than this reader. I do not think that children our children's ages can or should learn from everything that's available to them. I as a parent have been given both the authority and the wisdom to guide their learning. It's as though we are building a home and I am deciding - depending on our surroundings - just how much insulation our home requires. And, in the secular viewpoints of witchcraft and atheism I have chosen to insulate our home just a little bit more than most. For now.

I think a lot of times parents can pride themselves in just how "informed" and "cutting edge" they've allowed their kids to become. As though it were some kind of strenuous feat. I find that my it takes great strength, attention and guts to stand up and say "here and no more".

There is a lot of learning that has to be done before I introduce my children to the very real world of witchcraft and atheism. And, they're not at the age of understanding yet. This doesn't make me an alarmist, extremist or even a stick in the mud.

I'm just a parent.

It's what I do.

That's my rant.

Now, back to the 200 word fiction papers my kids are writing... ironically.


Monday, November 05, 2007

My creative mind has been a barren wasteland for a few months. And, today... creative juices sprinkled on the cracked surface just a little bit.

I've just started a new painting... I'm trying something I've never done before. Impressionist art. I saw something tonight that fixed an image in my mind. Something I just had to put on a canvas. So far so good. It's not exactly what I imagined, so I think I'll be revisiting the canvas again tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll wash the cerulean and prussian blue off the ends of my fingers, wash the paintbrushes and call it a night.

We've moved from our first rental into a new home. Built in 1945 but new to us.

We moved because we found the first home to be full of mold. And at first I thought it wouldn't affect me much. But soon I started finding myself sleeping a whole lot more than usual. Sleeping in and having to take several catnaps throughout the day. Eventually we moved out of our bedroom (the worst of the mold was there), and things started to get a little better. But, symptoms like unclear thinking, rashes, postnasal drip, nausea started to overwhelm me. And, apparently I was the most susceptable. The kids were upstairs away from the bulk of it. And, I'm glad. Derek started becoming symptomatic here in these last few weeks as well. It was a good decision leave. I just hope the effects aren't permanent.

But... on to the new house.

I'm sitting in my new studio. I have my art desk, easel and computer in an angular room in the attic. A small window faces west with a great view of the mountians behind our very large weeping willow. Fabulous! I keep the fridge downstairs so I'll leave this nook every once in a while.

The house is colourful, clean, bright, and well maintained. A real jewel.

I have a garden outside that both delights and challenges me. I've never gardened. Okay. I actually have a reputation as a plant killer. But let's keep that between you and me. I heard that plants listen. (A kooky, dirty fingernailed plant lover told me that once...) I hope to be up to the challenge. I spent an hour raking the garden under the weeping willow and have the sore hamstrings to prove it.

So once again life has taken a turn... and I'm enjoying the ride.


Friday, November 02, 2007

I turned 35 today.

I don't feel 35. Not that I know what 35 is supposed to feel like.

I suppose I don't feel mature enough to be 35? Maybe that's it. Maybe that's a good thing! Maybe not.

What I learned this year:

I'm stronger than I thought I could be.

I hurt deeply... and then recover.

I'm quite organized when I want to be.

I've been sick a lot. Might want to get that checked out.

I really REALLY love my family.

I finally feel like I have a grip on homeschooling.

I'm a good teacher.

I can do more at church, but just because I can, doesn't mean I should.

My husband is madly in love with me. He puts up with too much from me.

You can come out of your shell now. The world didn't end.

God is good. All the time.

You never know what God is up to. Enjoy the ride.

I haven't wasted my time. I'm glad I stayed home all these years with the kids.

They are too.

I need to express myself creatively more often. This is where your voice is best heard.

You need to get a grip on your health. Enough is enough already!

You are more capable of love than you even know. Keep it up.

You actually enjoy early mornings and early bedtimes. Might wanna keep it up too.

You and your daughter really bonded this year. This is good.

Enjoy your new home. Invite everyone in! This is why God blessed you with it.

Learn more about others this year. Seek wisdom. You'll need it.


Friday, October 05, 2007

I am angry. My heart is on fire... finally.

The title of the article reads "'The Kite Runner Is Delayed To Protect Child Stars'".

The article is in the New York Times.

I saw the picture, and made some quick assumptions. My mind says "The movie was about brave boys flying contraband kites in Afghanistan." "Fantastic movie!", I thought. I read on. Racial tension... mhm... childhood betrayal... mhm.... sexual predation..."What?!" My mind raced as I scanned the article once before reading it all the way through... and then I saw it. "At its heart is a friendship between Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy played by Zekiria Ebrahimi, and Hassan, the Hazara son of Amir’s father’s servant. In a pivotal scene Hassan is raped in an alley by a Pashtun bully. Later, Sohrab, a Hazara boy played by Ali Danish Bakhty Ari, is preyed on by a corrupt Taliban official." A rape scene. Two boys. I was mortified.

The article went on to explain the details of how the movie makers are going to great lengths to protect the young actors from persecution in their own country for appearing in a racially inflammitory movie. It tells of their "heroic" efforts that include CIA involvment, delayed release, their concern over often-pirated DVD's. The producers are going out of their way to move the premiere date until after school ends to protect the boys from shame. And, how if neccessary they will move the boys and their families out of the country. “If we’re being overly cautious, that’s O.K.,” Karen Magid, a lawyer for Paramount, said. “We’re in uncharted territory.”

What I wanted to know was... what on earth is an American movie maker doing making any kind of movie that involves the depiction of a rape of a young Afghan boy? What for?! In great detail the story is told of how the young actor was picked in Afghanistan because the casting director couldn't find an actor in the states, Toronto and the Hague - that he "just wasn't connecting with anybody." The boy and his father complains that the boy was never given a script. Wasn't told until the day of the shooting of the rape scene. Of how his father was there for rehearsal once, but the second time, the boy didn't want his pants pulled down, his buttocks showing... he didn't want to be shown nude. The young boy cried!

"In the final version of the film, the rape is conveyed impressionistically, with the unstrapping of a belt, the victim’s cries and a drop of blood."

Why? What artistic, storytelling necessity is there to have an innocent "play act" a rape scene? A child? Is this not abuse in and of itself? Is it not abuse because they have producers and expensive cameras present? Because Viacom writes their paycheck and some freaks in a writing room call it art... they move forward with the twisted project? And who are these producers patting themselves on the back for their "protective protocol"? They're predators! What kind of man in his right mind will seek out an innocent and say "Today, for a lot of money, you're going to pull down your pants in front of everyone while you and another boy enact a forced sexual scene while grown men and women watch... and record."? THAT'S NOT ART! THAT'S ABUSE!

Our perverted movie monguls marched into Afghanistan snatched up two boys... innocents... and defiled them... and called it art. Then, had the nerve to be self-congratulatory about their efforts to protect them from the certain abuse they would bear at the hands of their own countrymen for participating in such a racially explosive movie.

I'm sickened to my core.

This isn't the first mainstream movie with a rape scene involving a child. Apparently this has become old hat. Dakota Fanning, a darling girl was too in a graphic rape scene in a movie that will not likely be released here in the mainstream movies, but it was applauded by offshoots of the film industry... Cannes, and the Toronto Film Festival. Not without controversy, but not enough to block the movie either. (What was her mother thinking??!!)

It's no wonder then that everytime I scan my morning news there are endless stories about women and children being murdered, kidnapped, raped, burned, strangled, assaulted, drowned, abused, starved. I read it and I hurt.

I hurt for my generation that we have passively allowed violence against women and children to pass off as entertainment.

But more importantly, I hurt for the next generation who will never know innocence. If their parents were entertained by the raping of Afghan boys, what kind of world will they live in? What horrors lie behind their doors?

Who is protecting our children? It's not enough for me to protect "me and mine". Sure, I keep my kids close, I preview their movies, I talk with them about stranger safety. But some day my kids are going to walk out into this Sodom and Gomorrah World... what awaits them there? And, what did I do to shape it? Or worse, what did I not do?

The director of "The Kite Runner" also directed "Neverland". His name is Marc Forster.

The movie is distributed by Paramount Vantage, the art-house and specialty label of Paramount Pictures .

It's not enough to stay up late and blog about it. It's not enough to read a blog about it. What will you do? What won't you do?


Saturday, September 15, 2007

I should be sleeping. (Many of my posts ought to start out that way.)
Tomorrow I am hosting a baby shower here at our home. It will be the first time many of our church friends have visited our home, so I want everything clean and comfortable. I think it will be.
Early tomorrow I'm getting up and starting the baking for the day. I'll be making butter tarts, shortbread cookies and whatever else comes to mind. Maybe even banana bread or small dinner rolls. We'll see if I have time. I also signed up to make the punch and coffee and tea. So... my tasks are set before me.
I'll have only a few decorations. Really low key. Polka-dot themed baby shower. Light aqua blue and a light kiwi green with white are my colours. Gonna be gorgeous! I have a cozy chair for the mom to be. And... a hand made corsage - complete with flowers, washcloths, a sock and a baby spoon.
I've nearly finished the baby gift. I only lack a needle and thread to put the bows on. An early trip to the dollar store will take care of that for me. Derek's picking up 25 chairs and two tables. I pray it doesn't rain tomorrow (which will be the first time in weeks!), as I hope to have a decorated table outside on the uncovered porch. If need be, I can pull it all under the covered area... a little squishy, but we're friendly folks.
All the ladies are bringing food and a picture of them from when they were smallish. In black and white... which reminds me... I gotta find mine. (Done!)
A million things run through my mind the night before any event that I'm a part of. "Did I forget anything?", "In what order should I start things tomorrow?", I wonder if the roses will make it overnight?", "Did the toilet get cleaned well around the floor?", "I hope no-one looks in the fridge crisper!", and on and on it goes.
My back is starting to hurt again. It's my queue to stop and go to bed.
I love event planning. It's one of my favourite things. But why the voices in my head right before bed? What's that about?
Going to go count polka-dots.
hehe... I did a spell check. I spelled "queue "correctly! Who'd have thunk?!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

September 11th is our anniversary. Yep. I know.
Yesterday Derek surprised me with a gift. We usually don't exchange gifts, so I was really surprised to see a large box wrapped in white paper with gold hearts on our bed. (So neatly wrapped too, I might add. With a big white bow on top.) Inside was an artist/easel set that I have been coveting for about three years. I couldn't believe it! He not only thought of me... the thought of ME! And, where he hid it and how he kept it a secret, I'll never know.
He asked me to eat light as I was making dinner for the kids... he had made plans for us later in the evening.
We made arrangements for the kids and Derek took me out to see a couple of movies. Two in a row. At two different theaters. With a short snack break in-between.
At the second movie we had the whole theater to ourselves... so we were making commentary and laughing hysterically at the lines in the movie. We were full on popcorn and rootbeer.
Derek wanted to take me out to dinner, but it was really late - and Nanaimo rolls up it's sidewalks around 7pm I think. The only places open were the pubs and Tim Horton's. I wasn't really hungry... had a hankerin' for some donut holes, though.
We talked ministry. Not our current one... but what we've learned about or past ministries. And, I shared with him some of my difficulties with percieved expectations... He was so sweet and thoughtful. Really listened. Then, he assured me that it will all be alright. He gave me tips on keeping my fears in check...
My contacts were drying out, and my old age was kicking in. I had to go to bed. But, before I did I thanked him. He truly is a minister. He ministered to my spirit last night. Bolstered my confidence in God's plan for me.
This... above all else he had given me yesterday, was the greatest gift of all. One that will last long after the movie lines fade, long after the paint tubes are dried up. His heart. His time. His undivided attention. His honesty.
I love this man.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A friend who must really know what I've gone through posted this on her blog recently. I pasted it here:

Scribbling a Masterpiece: Doodle to your DestinyAllowing God to make a masterpiece on the canvas of your life.

By Sue Anne Allen

When I was young, I quickly learned:"Praise, for coloring-in-the-lines, is earned.

"Daddy or Ma-Ma or Nana would say:"What a beautiful picture!" when I did not stray.

When I expanded beyond the bounds set forth,their eyes said my artwork had lost its worth.

"What is this scribbling that you've done?"

"It would look better if you hadn't runover the black line, closing in the 'right' shape."

I'd feel less good when my crayons escaped.
As I got older, I learned more to stayin the lines defined someone else's way.

I would smile a fake smile, whiting out my pain.

I worked hard to "squeeze in" to the acceptable frame.

But, try as I might, I often slipped beyond.

New life danced out of my crayon wands.

My crayons would skip.

My crayons would swirl.

I felt, when I drew, like God's treasured girl.

But up came the old voices:

"Mistake!" I would rage.

"What's this imperfection spewed all over the page?"
As I got even older, I lost control more.

God rapped quite loudly on my identity's door.

Pressure to "keep together" fought my need to "fall apart."

A life-and-death battle ripped my growing-up heart.

"I surrender to You, Lord."

"I'm torn to shreds at my seams."

I vomited, at His feet, the black-and-white of old dreams.

I was tear-drenched and hurting when God lifted my chin.

His eyes said: "You weren't made to keep your true colors in."

He dumped out my crayons.

He empowered my hand.

Together we scribbled toward the blessings he planned.
As my colors emerge, I'm happy to say:

"I'm glad I've chosen not to put my crayons away."

"Living between the lines" is only one choice.

That's not the place where I've noticed God's voice.

I've dabbled, expressed, doodled past the norm.

I've learned more to create and less to perform.

An original has emerged in my "off limits" space.

My inner colors, now, shade my outer face.

"What a beautiful picture!" is drawn out from within.

"For THIS I designed you," my Master grins.
And, I thought I was the only one...

Monday, September 03, 2007

I spent the drizzly afternoon yesterday picking soggy blackberries from our bushes. Chante' was in tow, and was happy to help me fill the bucket. The boys were happy to tag along and pretend some kind of battle scene at every turn. DeVon with his thick blue nylon rope, and Zion with his newly aquired wooden dagger and plastic shield.
It's been years since I've been in the "bush" picking berries. (Though, this hardly qualified as "bush"... we were on the corner of our block... an empty lot.) But, it wasn't long before the rythym came back to me:
Find a cluster.
Make your way into the brush.
Pick as many berries as one hand can hold.
Drop into the bucket.
Avoid thorns.
Find a cluster....

And, I remembered the quiet that comes over you. No need to chat. Just the smell of rain and the wet leaves making prints on your jeans. And when my mind was quiet I found myself wondering what could be learned from the berry-bush?
Here are a few things:

What the berry bush reminded me about relationships:

Look for the well rounded ones. The ones that are ripe and ready. Knowing which ones are ripe, ready and flavourful takes experience. Have a go at it. Taste and see.
It will take some work to get prepared to glean from them. Don't avoid the trip just because it may require some planning and delicate work.
Once you've made your way in, take an assesment of what you really want. You can't have them all. You can't reach them all.
As your fingers reach out to harvest one, beware of the thorns. But, don't be afraid of them. Otherwise you'll never get anywhere.
As you begin to pull, notice... does it come easily? Or, does it hesitate? The ones that hesitate aren't ready. And, if you pull it, you will find that despite it's ripe colour, it's really rather sour. A few more days and that one will be ready too.
If you pull one that keeps it's thorns attatched to itsself you have a choice... you can grip the thorny part and hope it comes off easily... but more than likely, you will have just pricked yourself and have regretted thinking you could save it. It's time to just let that one go.
Not all are worth the effort. Some require more growth. Some refuse to be harvested.
But, others are hidden under large leaves. Out of the way. And these, I find, are the biggest, readiest, most flavourful of all. But, you have to change your point of view to find them. You must crouch. You must lift the barriers gently. They will reveal themselves to you. And, those will be the sweetest of all.

I learned a lot that afternoon. It was almost as if God was speaking to me through a soggy bush. I'll be fine here. I have my part, and they have theirs. And, I must remember whose is whose.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The fear in me.

I spoke with a dear friend tonight. A real warrior. Fearless. Just out there with it. I had to ask her. "How do you do it?" She told me in essence... she IS afraid sometimes, but her dedication to God brings her past her fear, past her doubt and into the realm of living it out.

Time to quit being cryptic.

I have been a coward. That's why I haven't been here. My fear has muzzled me. And, as a result, the fire that burns in my bones has become almost unbearable.

I used to be so opinionated, so passionate, and sometimes... so wrong. And the day I caved into the doubt and fear is the day I rendered myself unavailable for God's use. The clay that began to argue with the potter.

What was I passionate about that I no longer speak of? Marriage, kids, homes, church of Christ happenings, issues, spiritual battles, attacks, politics...

And, then... I was told I was ignorant. Unusable. Unwanted. Unneeded... and I believed them and not my God.

So, I'm breaking this deal with the devil. I take back the promises I made to stay quiet. I know now it's a lie. I am not ignorant. God leads me through my experiences with my eyes wide open. I should share it. I am not unusable, I am a vessel with a purpose... designed by the Master for divine purpose. I am not unwanted, I am paid for, sought after and delighted in. And, I am not unneeded. God is calling me, it's loud and clear. I'm tired of being between the rock and the hard place. God's calling and fear. I cave into God... into his loving arms. And though doubt will still haunt me, there is nothing that man can do to me. I am His. And I am glad.

I'll see you here soon.

Watch out now... she's back.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

I have finally made it back to the motherland. Canada, eh?

It's been a long, 17 year road. One that included Mission work in Arizona, a stint in Tennessee, a term in Nebraska for college, a wedding in Arizona, mission work and the introduction of a family there. We ventured off into Arkansas territory only to be turned away to California where we really felt like we found home. Six years later, we were booted out of the sunny left coast and stationed again in Arkansas to re-learn a lesson in God's timing and guidence.

And so... it's been seventeen years for me. And, it's soooo good to be back.

The kids and the hubby look to me from time to time to explain things to them. "Is this just how Canadians do it?" "Is that normal here?" "Was it like that when you were here?" These questions are asked regularly.

What's funny is this: when I left I was just entering young adulthood. I didn't know the rules of driving. I didn't know what heated the homes... or how to pay for that. I paid rent on an upstairs suite. I had a job. I walked to and from it. I went to church. And, that was it. That's all I knew.

Okay, that's not all I knew... it's just all I knew about "settling in".

What has delighted me the most is the pleasant nature of the people here. Ready to laugh. Joking with eachother. A ready-made family. The way I remember. Shoes off at the door. The down-to-earth nature of the people. No class-systems. No castes. No "down your nose" looks about your education or lack-thereof. Just real people being real.

A new adjustment for me is realizing I am the preacher's wife again. I had forgotten that it comes with expectations. I came ready to just be me. And, I'm not entirely sure that our congregation has formalized their expectation of their preacher's wife... but from time to time I am subtly reminded of the role... and the need to fill it. But how?

I really thought I would never again struggle with expectation vs. reality. I thought that I would find a place and a time where I could just be me. And, I thought that those two roads crossed here. And, maybe they do. But... I suppose I'm still haunted some by old expectations that weren't met. Failures of my own that linger in the memory.

And, maybe I'm too hard on myself. Maybe I don't give others enough credit. Maybe they're ready for real. But are they ready for me? Am I?

Ah too deep.

I have changed in so many ways since I left Canada. And, God has been gracious to me. I am not perfect, but forgiven. And, I love imperfect people. Which covers most of us.

I just hope that my opinionated self, my flighty artistic natured self, my "not your typical preacher's wife" self will be welcomed here. And, I hope I grow here... I hope it is God who uses me just the way I am... and that his Holy Spirit directs me to change in the ways that aren't godly.

Okay, I'm all over the place here.
To sum up: Made it back. It's good. Finding my personal bearings again. God is good and he will guide... the end.


Monday, June 18, 2007

So, the biggest thing to happen to me in a few years has happened, and I haven't written about it? Have I gone mad? Am I completely nuts?

Yes.... I mean... NOoooo.

What an adventure!

So, the passports arrived after much, MUCH, much effort on my part. I e-mailed the passport agency. I called the passport agency. I e-mailed the kind lady at the Little Rock Library where we applied for passports. She sent me names of 2 Arkanasas State Representatives to harass. I called them. I called two CA state representatives...

On a side-note here - as much as I dislike Nancy Pelosi... the folks in her office are awfully nice!

After the two CA state representatives were on the case, I got up at 3am to start the phone lines in where ever they are in the Eastern Time Zone. I called at least 3 times a minute for 45 minutes (do the math) before actually reaching... no... not a person... a different message. But, after 15 minutes on that message, I spoke with a REAL, LIVE, ACTUAL passport agent. They DO exist!

A few numbers and details were exchanged and then Dick (that was his name) says this: "I have a note here that says that you have congressional help on these passports." To which I reply "Yessss....?" To which he blandly states "But, there isn't any note that says to expedite them, so we didn't." To which I reached my hand through the phone and grabbed his scrawny neck and raised my right hand and...

No wait... I didn't do that. I just sighed.

He continued... "Would you like them to be expedited?"

Can you just hear me screaming inside my own head?

I responded so softly you could barely hear me... "Yes, please."

And it was done!

13 weeks. 5 days on the road. 20 some e-mails, over 200 phone calls. Hundreds of dollars... and it was done.

Thanks, Dick.

The following morning, we met with some old friends for lunch. I wasn't holding my breath for those passports. So many promises. So few kept.

One of our friends works for the Fed Gov't. I remembered that because I was always afraid he'd deport me, but I never thought to ask him for help (because I was always afraid he'd deport me... did I mention that?). So... at lunch... he hadn't arrived yet, but our mutual friend, Nate had. Nate listened briefly to our passport troubles and then said "Ask Rog." "He's great with this stuff. He calls in a few favours on his cell and "boom", it's done!" Nate then tells us a few stories second hand about how Rog can find anyone, ANYWHERE in the U.S. Something to do with cellphone tracking and detective work. Creepy stuff.

As if on que, Rog walks in to the restaurant.

Rog is a big, black man. He wears shades ALWAYS. Day, night, inside, outside, rain or shine, he wears shades. I've never EVER seen his eyes. And we were close friends for years. When he sits, he folds his arms across his chest. When he stands, he folds his arms across his chest. He rarely chats in public. He looks like a bouncer, but he's actually the greeter at his church. Gotta love Rog.

After hearty hugs and a "how are ya?", Nate tells Rog about our passport problems.

Rog interrupts Nate and says "hold on." Rog pulls out his phone.

Nate looks at us, smiles and nods. "See?"

Rog calls someone... says "call my phone back and search it for this number", a few minutes later the phone rings. It's the passport agency. It's the Passport Agency CALLING HIM! I was stunned.

Rog asks for a few names and numbers and then flips his phone off.

"Your passport will be over-nighted via Fed-Ex. You can expect them by 10am tomorrow."

So, there you have it. Old friends, high places.

Then he turns to me and says - "So, you're Canadian? I didn't know that."

To which I reply "Yeah... that's why you can't find me on your little lists..."

We had a great lunch. Rog bought desserts all the way around. Kids made us proud and licked the plates.

I have more to tell you about returning to the motherland. Immigration. Old, new friends. But I'll save it for tomorrow. I think I'll take a minute and flip through some passports for old times' sake.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

How was the move?

So glad you asked...

We had a fantastic yard sale... we only sold 4 days out of six, but still met (and surpassed) our goal of having everything gone, and making at least $1800 to replace it all.

We cleaned house like crazy. That home has never looked so good... made us almost want to move back in again. Almost. Okay... not really.

After packing up the trailer we realized we still had 1/3 of the space still left. So, we took the seats out of the middle of the minivan and put a futon mattress in. Ahhhh.... that was brilliant! The best thing ever! We drove cross-country and whenever one of the drivers needed a break... voila! Sleep. Underrated.

I think we labeled this trip our "ADD America" trip. We literally stopped to see everything along the way. Rest-stops were the best. Historical. Refreshing. Curious. And, always in the nick of time.

I took pictures, but sadly the cord that connects my camera to the computer is either in a box or got sold to some lucky fellow who will probably use it to tie up his fishing gear.

Anyway, I am proud to tell you that my husband has seen the Grand Canyon! (Or as my kids call it... "The Grand CANYON..canyon...canyon...") We stopped in after dark and set up our tent. It fit our kids. Derek and I slept on the futon. I would have loved to sleep under the stars, but I was afraid my city-slicker husband would find issue with that... so we slept in the van. We met an old friend there - she joined us after a six hour drive at about 2am. We ate breakfast together and then trotted out to see the Canyon...canyon...canyon... It's always amazing... no matter what time of year or day... it's just almost too much to take in at once! What was coolest on this trip to the G.C. was seeing the herd? flock? BUNCH of condors nesting nearby. Every once in a while one or two would buzz us or they'd swoop in and impress us all with their aerobatics. I kept telling Zion they were looking for a small child. He wasn't impressed. We met a retired couple from York, England there. They're traveling the world. It's what they do. *Jealous!*

After seeing the canyon...canyon...canyon, we stopped in at a steakhouse and gorged ourselves on cowboy food. We waddled out and saw the G.C. Imax nearby... to go or not to go? $60 for a 34 minute movie... uh... NO. I might regret that. It was a National Geographic Movie... but $60?!!

So... my souvenier from the Grand CANYON...canyon...canyon was a sunburn. This Indian skin hasn't seen the light of day in years! And, the light of day at 7000 feet is particularly bright. No need to fear.. I found the medicine I needed in Kingman, AZ. The burn is now a fantastic, evenly bronzed... farmer tan.

We cheered as we drove across the CA state line. We had decided to take on Death Valley at night. Sooo much better that way.

We've been here since Friday of last week and we have caught up with a lot of our old friends. Nearly every day since Sunday we have made the drive up to Folsom, Orangevale to see old friends... BBQ... yap. We have more visiting to do today. I'm hoping we'll find our strong, German massage therapist and old friend, Sonya. That would be the icing on the cake. (Or "cek" as she'd call it.)

So... while we wait for our Passports... we shop and look and visit. It's great. When folks asked me the Sunday we were leaving what Derek got me for Mother's Day... I told them... "A trip to CA and a move to Canada!" Doesn't get better than that. Jealous?



Thursday, May 10, 2007

So it's true. Selling it all and moving to Canada... it's liberating!

Today I have seen my "most precious treasures" go up on the selling block and not even flinch... I guess I don't treasure them after all! It's a matter of making up your mind, I think. When we decided just how big our trailer was going to be, it was so much easier to make decisions on what to keep and what to chuck and what to sell. It's like all the items in my world fell away and only what we would need to minister to our new church remained. That and a few cute things to make our house a home.

What's most ironic about it all is this: We have measured a 4"x4"x8" space (the size of the inside of the trailer) in our dining room. And, for good practice, when we pack a box, we set it inside those boundaries. It lets us know exactly how "full" we're getting. And, after packing several of our most important books and documents... and even my crafting items... and decor... we haven't even filled HALF of that space! It's amazing! I guess we went a little nuts on the "sacrifice it all" bandwagon. But what a blessing. I honestly don't regret selling anything.

Apparently at the border we are going to have to have an accounting of everything that's in the boxes. What's in them. How much it's all worth. So... I'm making a list. And, I'm labeling the boxes as we go. We decided early on to use uniform size boxes. Letter size office boxes. We have had them since CA... we fold them and their lids up and "voila!" a box... unfold it and "voila!" space! It's great! Best moving investment EVER.

We've had the honour of a few friends coming by and going through some of our things first. What a great thing that is. They don't flinch at the prices of things, and I know they really love them. And, I'm helping them out too. It's just good all the way around. Cue the music... sigh.

I have more to sort and pricetag. The yardsale moved indoors today. We ended up cancelling today's sale as it was SUPPOSED to storm like the dickens this afternoon. We frantically moved eight LOADED 8 foot tables inside and under the carport. (And all on a heelspur...waaaaaaah!!!) But the sale should move along smoothly tomorrow and Saturday. If we sell all our big-ticket items, we will meet our yard-sale goal. All the trinkets are icing on the cake. Woo Hoo!

So, I'll get back to it.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Overheard while Pookie was sick on Sunday:

Me: Expectantly - "Well Zion, we're gonna miss church... what do you want to do?"
Zion: Flops on the couch. "I dunno."
Me: "Well... do you want to watch cartoons?"
Zion: Picks up the remote (makes it look like it weighs a tonne), and slowly makes his way to me... "I dunno, mom. I don't feel very much like laughing."

And... a little later...

Me: "Zion, are you feeling better?"
Zion: "Yeah... I started to sweat." (And then in a very knowing tone - ) "That means my fever broke."
Me: "What do you know about fevers breaking?"
Zion: "C'mon mom... I'm seven. I listen."

I just love my Zion. He likes to try on big words. He's got that natural humour... that timing. He downplays just how funny he is. I love it! The boy is even funny when he's SICK!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Okay... admittedly I was in a funk yesterday.

Today was different. I got things done.

Sweet husband stayed home and foraged through boxes with me. I suppose what's harder than moving is deciding what to keep. But... I just know I'm going to be liberated when I separate myself from all my posessions. Think like monk, Jen... think like a monk.

Kids spent the day at the coolest retro-style waterpark EVER! It's owned by friends of ours, and they get a free season pass. Too bad they'll only be able to go for four days. Sigh. It's a great park though... been around for over 70 years. I just love the owners. They've become fantastic friends of mine over this past year. I don't know if I've ever told them just how much they mean to me. Note to self...

I have plans to make little postcard works of art during my trip. I have my paper, ink, gadgets and inspiration all lined up. I plan to send them to the friends that are on my mind as I travel. If you want one, send your request to me. You know my address, right? Do I have your snail-mail addy? Send it to me. I'm so looking forward to this part of the trip.

Zion is sick tonight. Fever. Sore throat. Says he "hopes he doesn't throw up". Poor, sweet thing. This germophobe is a little timid about cuddling with her pookie... but she'll do it. And, I'll read him his new favourite book. He hasn't heard it yet. But I just know it'll be his new favourite. It's called "I Love You Stinky-Face!". It's great!

I'll have more to post tomorrow. I'm gonna check for snail-mail addys.


Friday, May 04, 2007

I guess the hardest thing about leaving is knowing that I really haven't established myself. I haven't really TRULY kindled friendships... any long-lasting ones, anyway. It's hard to even admit it. I'd like to think that someone will miss me. That I've made my mark. That I've had some kind of effect. Made some kind of imprint.
But you know, honestly... I was a blip on their radar. And eventually the bright green blip fades to black again, and their interest is directed to the new blip. And so it goes.
Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being in the ministry is the moving. But, harder than the logistics of that is the implications, the complications of it. Moving means that while I were just setting up... getting comfortable... about to relax, knowing that the real me is acceptable (or at times not acceptable) here... I uproot and start all over again. And, this time... it's a new culture... new environment... new climate. So... I do.
And, I don't say this to complain. Though I realize it sounds an awful lot like complaining.
So, as I purge my home of all it's things... scoot together my sentimental items... I wonder why the phone isn't ringing. They know I'm leaving in a few days, right? Then again... I remember... this place was full of drama... and me leaving hardly qualifies as drama. It's a day in the life.
But not for me. I can honestly say that I cracked open the pages to my heart here. Some folks liked me okay... several did not. I can say that I know now that I wasn't created for the South. God, I guess intended for me to be a westerner or a northerner... or a somewhere-else-terner. But not the south. I just don't fit it. At least not here. So... back to Canada I go. Wonder who I'll find there. Or will I experience culture-shock returning to my homeland 17 years later?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

So the rain is coming down and it's still 72 degrees outside. How is that possible? Ergh.

Our plans for the trip are coming along nicely. The US gov't got their money for our passports. Yay! I might be naive but I think that might mean they've actually done something with the applications...

We've sold half of our things at our yard sale last weekend. What a trip that was. People come out of the woodwork for a yard sale!

There was the elderly neighbor who made frequent trips. She'd bring her chequebook, put in the amount in her register, and forget to write the cheque. (No worries, she wasn't hard to flag down.)

Then there was the exited toothless lady who came back three times in two days to make sure we hadn't sold the TV yet. She started telling other visitors it was "her TV". The last time she showed, I wasn't convinced she was in her "right" state of mind. Hmmm.

Late on Friday a minivan with 5 beefy-bandanna-wearing-non-English-speaking fellas pulled up. They wanted to see what was in the house too. My hubby wasn't home, and I only had my kids outside keeping the store. We fumbled through our English/Spanish and I made a few sales on the spot. They're coming back for the second yard sale. The one where I sell everything. They were great customers. Didn't even flinch at the price.

Then there was the neighbor from up the street who had his eye on my camping skillets and pots. I didn't budge on the price. He had a few choice words. After some complaining, he bought them... and I got him to admit he got a great deal. Man, I shoulda been in sales!

So... now it's raining. And, it's still warm outside. I'll never get used to warm rain. Rain is supposed to be refreshing. A cool drink of water on a hot day. Not a damp, lukewarm steam bath on a hot day. Ugh.

We made a good fistful of dollars on our yard sale. I was pleased with it. I have a goal of $1800 minimum on our yard sale, and so far we have made $770... but we haven't sold much of the big stuff yet. And, there are plenty of trinkets out there. Folks love them some trinkets!

There were a few things I really REALLY hesitated to put out there. I knew though, that I would be the one who'd have to make the most sacrifice. All my dearest, most treasured possessions are now up on the sales block. And, strangely... some of them just won't sell! Is it a sign from God? Or should I lower those price tags? Hehe.

I sorted through old pictures today. I was supposed to go through them and sacrifice the bad ones - out of focus, bad colours, "dunno who that is" pictures... yeah... I think I'm the wrong one for the job. I got rid of about 7 pictures and all the sleeves from our photos. That's it. I'm far too sentimental. My husband on the other hand... he'd throw out the Declaration of Independence if it was in his way... sigh. I'll take another jab at it tomorrow.

The rain is letting up... I'm gonna check on the tarp in our carport. It's covering our Game Cube gaming stand... the one they have at those gaming conventions... they hold the TV and the console... and the games... I got it at an auction and my husband banned me from the auction for all eternity. And that was BEFORE he saw the PlayStation props! Kids loved it. But, we don't have the space for it. I hope to get a bundle of cash for it. I paid $10 a piece for them. Heavy as all get out, though. But, not as bulky as the 9X9 Phillip's 66 sign I have in my backyard.

Gotta scram.

I have to sort clothes. Mine. (Guess now would be the right time to decide if I'll do that diet, eh?)


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Big announcement!

I know you're holding your breath, right?

We're moving! Derek accepted the ministry position in Nanaimo, BC, Canada and we're moving back to the MOTHERLAND! I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself.

That fantastic church we met in February has offered the ministry, Derek has accepted it... and he has put in his letter of resignation with the church here in Little Rock.

I'd go into all the details, but that would bore you and then you'd hit the "next blog" button and that would be a shame... so... I'll keep you here with talk of our crazy plans.

You know Derek and I were missionaries once, right? It was a great start for us... stuck on God and eachother - never attatched to our things. (This is a prelude to something... hang in there.)

We plan to sell all of our belongings in a series of yard sales. We hope to make enough money to repurchase the absolute essentials through IKEA (or it's cousin on Vancouver Island - JYSK) and pull a trailer behind our "fly ride" that holds all our irreplaceables. Our photos, Game Cube, computer, much of Derek's library, our homeschool books, suitcases, and paperwork, and Jennifer's thinned-down art supply store will all fill our trailer rental. (Gosh I hope our transmission makes it!) The first yard sale will be next weekend - Thursday through Saturday. We'll sell everything we don't absolutely need for the coming month. Then, the weekend before Mother's Day, we'll sell it ALL. Yep. Bikes, TV, Washer/Dryer, curtains, towels, freezer, even it's contents... it must all go. Except for the stove. It's the homeowner's. We rent.

So... as you can imagine, my life is taking an interesting turn. Just how committed am I to my things? Will it be a showdown of the wills when it comes to filling the small trailer? A serious issue of supply and demand for space!

Also... I find that during times like these I become the most organized person EVER. It's like Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde... You wouldn't know it looking at me.

On a more serious note. I'll desperately miss some folks from around here. We've loved this church for years. It won't be easy leaving some of them... Though my heart knows it's not for a lifetime... I'll see them again if God wills it...

My kids are so excited. They're moving to a "foreign country"... as far as they see it. Though... It's not as foreign as they think. (Of course they do make fun of me... I still say "supper" and "cupboard" and "tea-towel"... though I've learned NOT to say "chesterfield" or "buns".)

We will be living on Vancouver Island just off the coast of British Columbia. The weather there is mild. The island is huge. It's gorgeous, expensive and filled to the brim with colourful people - and wildlife! (And, sometimes the people are the wildife!)

So... I've spent 17 years in Canada, 17 years in the States... guess it's time to move back, eh?


Friday, March 30, 2007

I think I might have some sort of sleep disorder. I can't quiet the voices in my head until around 2:30am (right around the end of my nightly prayer) the neighbor's dogs start barking around 3am, I get up to close the window around then. I usually find myself sleepwalking around 4:30am and the birds start chirping around 5:30am. Derek's alarm goes off around 6am. And, I'm just nestling into a good sleep around then. But, before you know it, it's time to get up, get the kids up, make breakfast and get homeschool started.

I used to hit the pillow and was out within minutes. I heard that's not good, but I'd still take that over what I've got now.

I toss and turn all night. Come morning, the bottom sheet on my side of the bed is completely removed from the matress and wrinkled up against Derek.

So what goes on in my head that keeps me up until 2ish? Oh, I think about the church, the last class I taught, what I shoulda said when my skinny sister told me she's on another diet, wonder why homeschool isn't progressing like it should, wondering if it would be worth it to bring out all my art supplies and make that thing that's been in my head for a few weeks, wonder if the freezer door is stuck open, wondering how cold it is outside, random things. Usually I don't settle in and think on just one thing. It's like a merry-go-round of ideas and worries.

This is a typical night. Though, other nights, the routine is disturbed by my arthritis in my wrist and knee. I happen to fall asleep but only to wake up to pain that immobilizes me... I try not to take meds at all, but especially not on an empty stomach... so I use heat therapy. Derek gets up and heats my heating pad in the microwave for me, and brings me a bottle of water and ibuprofen if I want it. About a half hour later I'm ready for slumber again. Or... if it doesn't work, then it'll take another hour to an hour and a half.

But... believe it or not... I'm not here to complain. I think I might have found a solution to the problem. Yay! And, I'll post it here if it works.

It's been literally a year since I worked out last. Mhm. And, I've gained the weight to prove it.

I think what I'll do is a calming, but trying workout after dinner... maybe even after the kids are in bed. I'll hit a hot shower and try to go to sleep from there. I think that maybe my body just isn't tired enough to force my mind to go to sleep.

I bought a ball and a band. I've watched some of the Australian-made video, I've looked over the book and it looks good. Haven't done it yet. Derek inflated the ball for me yesterday.

I've noticed that since I've not been sleeping well, I've been moody. Snappy. Weepy. Unmotivated. My poor, sweet family. This doesn't describe who I am all day... just what I've noticed that's different lately.

So, the poor sleep quality combined with enormous stress levels has made me just a little nuts. And, I'm ready for sanity again. A good night's sleep. Relatively unruffled sheets. And, as a by-product a little slimmer waist and thighs.

Any other non-medicine sleep suggestions?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

So, I'm sipping on my overpriced Caramel Frappaccino... getting to the good part - the whipped cream with caramel. Though usually it's here that my kids swarm in and try to finish it off for me. They're not allowed to have coffee, but whipped cream isn't off limits. Maybe if I keep the straw slurping quiet they won't hear me trying to finish of my drink for the first time in forever.

I've procrastinated writing in my blog. Even now, I start with my drink and wonder as I write if I'll ever get to the point.

In these last weeks we have had some major life difficulties and potential changes. Career and schooling choices (for Derek and me), homeschool testing (for the kids... but for some reason, I think I'll be the one getting the grade)... and extended family trouble (my little sister).

My sister came out of the closet a few weeks ago. And, it seems as though the only thing I've been working on since the beginning of February is nudging her to restoration with God. But, now... it's over... I'm exhausted, and she's living with her lover and her lover's daughter. My heart is broken and weary - but when I'm not weary... I'm angry. I suppose it will be another grieving process for me - and all those who love her. I've lost two sisters to death... and now I've lost one by choice. Her choice.

There aren't a lot of personal issues I can discuss publicly. Being a preacher's wife... there is some good sense I must exercise. Some of it is probably fine to talk about, but I would rather err on the side of caution.

However... it brings me to say this: if you have a "pastor", a "preacher" an "evangelist", or a missionary or church worker as a friend... take them out for coffee. Take time to listen with out trying to figure out which side of the political issue you will be on. Listen to the humanity spoken in their words... Yes... they are workers in the kingdom... yes... they walk by faith - but they are not superhuman - not without the need for good counsel themselves. They need friends who don't gossip, friends who will bring good advice after bringing a listening ear and an attentive spirit. Friends who will be forgiving when their faith fall short. Friends who will pray in the quietness of the morning or late night for them, for their families, for their ministry. Do you ever wonder who ministers to the ministers? Maybe it's you...

So... my frappaccino is done. Nothing left at the bottom but chunks of ice that were too big for the straw.

I'll get up from the computer and wander back into my life... tending to the kitchen, preparing for the week. And, when you get up from your computer, I hope you'll remember your minister... and ask him if he ever needed ministering to. And, listen as things get quiet.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Toast with Nutella. Breakfast of champions. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the delicacy - Chocolate-Hazelnut spread. Like chocolate peanutbutter, but with hazelnut.) Mmmm... and a tall glass of cold milk. Why start the day any other way?

So, this past week or so we've been in: Little Rock, AR, Memphis, TN, Coldwater, MS, Chicago, IL, Seattle, WA, Nanaimo, BC and Houston, TX. (And, back to Little Rock, AR) We didn't spend any time in Chicago or Houston, but the airports gave us a pretty good sampling of the populace there.

I really should blog every day so I don't feel like I have to catch up on life's events. Sigh. But, I'll do my best here.

Derek had an interview with a small, fantastic, loving church in Nanaimo, BC, Canada. Sweet hubby had no idea what to expect from Canada, but was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful country with absolutely dedicated christians who seek truth in God. Ah, what a wonderful trip, what wonderful people! We'll know later this week what God's will is as far as an employment opportunity there...

Our whirlwind trip went like this: ice, plane, snow in Chicago, colourful houses in Seattle, little black rental car, ferry ride to Nanaimo, late check-in, really good people, visit, questions, visit, meeting, eating, visit, really good people, Wii boxing, class, bible study, questions, funny people, old friends' parents, waterfront, islands, walking, clams, laughing, kitchen on fire, great chinese food, bible class, shopping, questions and answers, potlucks, Canasta, bible class, packing, praying, ferry, sleep, Seattle, Pike Place, fish market, sleep, Houston, Home, sleep, Mississippi, kids!, Youth Rally, church, talk, sleeeeeeep (finally!), blogging. Sigh.

See why I haven't blogged?

We have so much coming in the next few weeks. Homeschool testing, Tulsa Soul Winning Workshop, more interviews, resume's, telephone calls, etc.

God is good, and though we have seen some really rough times these last few months, God has shown his goodness, his faithfulness to us - though we are so undeserving.

Though there is one thing now that I pray for: I want life to slow down. This past month we have had illness, a Mexico trip, hectic church work, a job interview and a youth rally, conflict resolution and though it doesn't look like much on the screen - it really has consumed our time. And, I'm afraid that it was our children who made the sacrifice. So, I have scaled back my involvement with things, and I am staying true to my first ministry: my home.

Having said that: I gotta go. Kids are nearly done with their morning work, and homeschool is on deck.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Arkansas' a trip.

You know how your church will hold an outreach event... something that will reach out to the community - meeting people at the point of their need? A VBS in the summer (helps with wandering school kids), a bible camp, Parent's night out, the usual.

Our church, this last Sunday afternoon, held a Big Game Night. No... not games as in Monopoly, RISK or Clue. Big game as in Deer, Hog, and smaller game as in wild turkey, duck, fish and squirrel. We had a potluck.

Each of the hunters in the church brought in their finest game dishes and the ladies brought side dishes and dessert. The place was decked out in camoflouge, mounted deer heads, a hog head, deer hide, beaver, fox, bobcat... No, I'm not joking! The centerpiece was a boat tied to a tree, with a Bambi standing on "water's" edge.

The food included: battered and fried Crappie (no, it's pronounced "Croppie"), Deer Stew, Wild Turkey Casserole, Duck with Dressing, Smoked Deer with BBQ sauce, and Squirrel Dumpling Stew. I brought a fresh salad. When asked what I killed - I told them "Lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. I was brutal. Took no prisoners."

We ate dinner with our hunters and their "unchurched" friends. What a mix of people! First of all, I've never seen so much camo in my life! Each carefully planned outfit was topped with a farmer's cap. As we finished eating, they started a duck calling contest. People used all kinds of sticks and mouthpieces and flute-looking things.

There was a fella there who topped the experience for us. He was a red-head, about 6'2", and looked like a white Mike Tyson. He got up and started making his duck call, but needed no such instrument. He used his mouth to make a slurping duck sound. He was having some trouble, as he was missing a tooth right in the front and center of his mouth. (His "spittin' hole" as he called it.) After a few nervous chuckles, and a downright belly laugh, he got it. And the crowd was amazed. (I had to take his word for it - I had falsely believed since preschool that ducks said "quack".)

I came as an observer. I was kicking myself for not bringing my video camera. This stuff is real, folks! When they were all done with dinner, the fellas all went out back to smoke. And truly - every once in a while someone would loudly exclaim "Git 'er dooonnnne!"

After the cleanup was done, we all went in for evening church services. Many still dressed in camo. Our preacher (my brother in law) apparently owned no such camo, and wore a flannel shirt and torn jeans. He preached his heart out about being the "hunter" and not the "hunted". Fantastic lesson. He used fishing analogies, old hunting stories, called the devil's tricks "hooks". Really connected with our hunter's friends.

All in all, it was a good thing. Not a Martha Stewart "good thing", mind you. However, it really did reach out to the community. A different, often ignored part of our Little Rock community. As strange as it was to me, I can see that the folks in the room were on cloud nine. And, I was truly happy for them.

And as for me? I got to write about it.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mmmm... just when you think it's hard. It gets harder.

What a walk of faith we've had this week.

I haven't - believe it or not - had time to address the sorrow that came to us last week. Posting scripture seemed to be all that I could do at the time. Even now... I wait.

This week, however, brings a new challenge. New difficulty. New sorrow.

Oh, I wish I could share it. But I do not delight in making show of other people's sin, shame or sorrow. But.. I hurt.

Yet my faith in God is stronger. How is that? Who would understand that?

Am I blind? Am I completely brain-washed? Have I lost all sense?


There is something truly wonderful that happens when a Christian ditches "Churchianity" for Christianity. When you bow to God at the altar, and not at the altar itself, there is a new awakening. My physical life is full of strife now, but my relationship with HIM - the Creator - soars. A Peace that passes all understanding. It's real. And, I have experienced it this week. Oh for that Peace for eternity!

Not that I have it all figured out, mind you. This has been my journey. I have so far to go, and so many have made it here so long ago.

I had an old friend call yesterday. We chatted for a while, wrestling with a few pretty heavy issues. Heavy to us anyway. After we said our good-byes, I rested for a moment. And, was amazed at the family system God put in place for our benefit. The church. The family. The Word from the Father. To edify, to be edified. To encourage, to be encouraged. And, all under the umbrella of the family. God is so good.

Without sounding preachy I want to say this: Where would I be without God? How would I live? Where would I go for wisdom, consolation, hope? There is none outside of the Father. I know this is true.


Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"Listen to my prayer, O God.
Do not ignore my cry for help!
Please listen and answer me,
My enemies shout at me,
making loud and wicked threats.
They bring trouble on me,
hunting me down in their anger.

My heart is in anguish.
The terror of death overpowers me.
Fear and trembling overwhelm me.
I can't stop shaking.
Oh how I wish I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away to the quite of the wilderness.
How quickly I would escape -
Far away from this wild storm of hatred.

Destroy them, Lord, and confuse their speech,
for I see violence and strife in the city.
It's walls are patrolled day and night against invaders,
but the real danger is wickedness within the city.
Murder and robbery are everywhere there;
threats and cheating are rampant in the streets.

It's not an enemy who taunts me -
I could bear that.
It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me -
I could have hidden from them.
Instead, it is you - my equal,
my companion and close friend.
What good fellowship we enjoyed
as we walked together to the house of God.

Let death sieze my enemies by surprise;
let the grave swallow them alive,
for evil makes it's home within them.

But I will call on God,
and the Lord will rescue me.
Morning , noon, and night.
I plead aloud in my distress,
and the Lord hears my voice.
He rescues me and keeps me safe
from the battle waged against me,
even though many still oppose me.
God who is king forever will hear me and will humble them.

For my enemies refuse to change their ways;
they do not fear God.

As for this friend of mine, he betrayed me;
he broke his promises.
His words are as smooth as cream,
but in his heart is war.
His words are as soothing as lotion,
but underneath are daggers!

Give your burdens to the Lord'
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

But you, O God, will send the wicked
down to the pit of destruction.
Murderers and liars will die young,
but I am trusting you to save me."


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mm, so it's been a while since I posted. I've recovered only to see two more kids go through it and to see Derek through a gastro-intestinal crisis. We all missed church today... a first EVER. Derek and I spent the day in the word... read and discussed the book of Jeremiah. Yeah... the whole book. (It gets really good at the end!)

Derek and I frequently find ourselves in doubt. Doubt. About where we are supposed to go, what we are supposed to do. But lately, I wonder if the doubt is really resistance. God shows us, and when we respond, we go. But, when we resist, we call it doubt. Might be something to that.

Today I read this: Security is not the absence of danger, but the presence of Jesus.

We aren't afraid of what the church's review of Derek's job will be. We aren't even afraid that they'll look at their budget and find no room for us. Really, what has been consuming us is finding out what God's will is. And, we know that in his time he will reveal it to us. For the first time in my life, my own security isn't my primary concern. Very strange for a creature like me.

I told Derek today that I was ready to go anywhere. I'd sell it all and go in a heart beat. Even Texas. (I admitted a little reservation about Texas, and immediately repented.) I imagined out loud having an in-house yard sale and hitting the road to wherever God had in mind we should go next. OR... staying put, and truly being okay with that too. God has a plan. He fashioned me to be a tool, a vessel. And, I will not argue with the potter.

So, the review is next week and January 30th is quickly approaching...

Will keep you posted.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Well it's the crack of noon and I'm just getting up.
But I'm up. And, I can swallow my spit. It's a good day.
I've had strep throat for the last few days. Decided it's the nastiest of diseases I've ever had. (You can leave your gastro-intestinal diseases in the bathroom, light a candle, turn on the fan and close the door - strep throat stays with you... ya know?!)
It starts out with "Darn, I think I have a sore throat." But in the back of your mind you're thinking "Shoot, what's a sore throat for everyone else is strep throat for me! Remember days of laying on the bottom bunk on the far end of the house... hallucinating with fever and spitting into a tupperware cup?"
Chante' had sore throat first. She was feeling a little low at the video scavenger hunt. But, she's so hard to read, I wasn't sure HOW sick she was. I checked her throat, which was red to be sure. And, assigned her to only cold drinks and cuddling for the night. (I figured the chili and cornchips would be torture.)
Later that night, Zion cuddled with me in church and asked me if he could wear my leather coat. I took it off and covered him with it. Shortly thereafter, he was slumped and his hot head rested on my shoulder. He had a fever. (Chante' was feeling better by now. Coulda been her friends at church was all the pick me up she needed.)
I tried to hurry my one-car ministry family out of the building, but it always takes an hour from the word "let's go". I just pray we didn't infect all the little old ladies with it in the meantime. But, while waiting, I found myself exhausted and instead of making my usual "How you doin'?"-preacher's wife rounds, I sat in the foyer. And, they came to me. (Now why didn't I think of that sooner?!) I didn't think I was sick. I thought that I was just exhausted from a 5 hour game of video scavenger hunt in high-heels.
We all hit Wal-Mart on the way home and picked up some sicky medicines. The kids all took their showers and doses and had their hugs and kisses and trotted off to bed.
I played Mortal Kombat with my hubby until 9:30 and then I had to hit the sack. (This should have been my second clue - I'm a night owl, and killing my husband in combat video games is what I love to do!)
I woke up the next morning feeling "ew". Creepy, crawly... I asked Derek to find the thermometer... and I had a fever of 101.4. Not a high fever... but the stoopid thing never beeped, so I wasn't sure it was done, but I knew I was done having it jab the underside of my tongue.
He went off to run a few errands, and get some work done, and Chante' threw a blanket in the dryer for me (tell you what, this kid knows me!) and covered me with it. I doubt it's good for the fever, but it did wonders for the mommy.
By the time Derek got home my thermometer read 103.5. It still didn't beep, and I still didn't care. I knew I was sick.
My sore throat had taken a back burner to the fever, but it would soon get my undivided attention.
Over the next two days I learned a few things:
You won't eat. You won't want to. You won't even be hungry. You can look a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie in the eye and not even care to take a whiff.
You'll drink only because you know you'll be really sick if you don't.
Gatoraide is yummy, but it leaves a film on the back of your throat. DOH!
With strep throat, you can develop epiglotitis, which can cause excessive drooling... which is fun when you CAN'T SWALLOW!
Since you'll probably drown in your sleep, a visit to in the middle of the night helps you feel more informed, but not necessarily better.
Your brother-in-law's trips to Mexico last year paid off for you in the form of Amoxycillin! Yay brother-in-law! (Of course, the only way the rancher-turned preacher could relate the medical information to you was to tell of cows and milk-fever. Fascinating, to be sure...)
After the first dose of medicine, you hope you'll start feeling better. But, you won't. You may feel worse. Have a bucket handy for the nausea.
After two days of sitting up, laying down and spitting, you may finally gave in to one night of fever-breaking. Three soaked night shirts and three soaked pillow-cases later, the fever will be done. Mostly.
Your kids are sweeter than you ever knew... they'll wake up and come to you and ask you how you're feeling... and when they hear your response, they'll be relieved and tell you they prayed for you in bed last night. (Then one will fart and the other will yell "doorknob" and the stinky chase begins. But you're too sore to tell them you don't like that game... you're still smiling knowing they were praying for you.)
And, you find out just at the worst of it, when you think you can't handle anymore discomfort or pain just how good your husband's hand feels when it's rested on your head.
You'll learn your a trooper. The family needs you to be healthy and up and and at it soon. You'll drink and drink and take your medicines on the hour and get better as soon as you can... cuz Ramen Noodles is better than nothing, and Taco Bueno is better than Ramen Noodles, but nothing is better than mom's pot roast with fresh baked biscuits.
I'm so ready to be back in the game...
Have a bit of a sore throat today, but the fever's gone. Lost five pounds on this, the worst diet ever.
Gotta go, I think I'm hungry...
Is that Frosted Flakes? Do I dare?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

You know how it is... after a great party. You take a hot shower, and while still wrapped in a steaming towel, you fall back first onto a clean, fluffy bed... exhausted.

Ahhhh... Christmas is over.

And... I did fall, back first into bed. But, not in a hot steamy towel... instead I was clutching Zicam in one hand and a fistful of kleenexes in the other. Christmas day, I kept finding quiet places in my sister's house to lay down. I didn't know it then, but my "chills" and "creepy, crawlies" were actually a low-grade fever that would move in for a few days. Sigh.

But, put your violin away... pity party is over...

Christmas was delightful! I did make all the cookies and handmade, sentimental gifts for everyone that I had planned to make. And, I think most folks liked them... a lot. (Made my mom cry... sorry mom!)

And, the kids opened their gifts with their cousins. The gifts were all colour co-ordinated (soooo Jennifer), and wrapped in retro paper. Sooo kewl. Derek wrapped the best gifts in the gold paper and the kids opened them last. The kids got the Game Cube they were sooo hoping for! And, six of their favourite games. Aw, you shoulda seen it! The disbelief, the screaming, and even a few tears shed by the little one. He was simply amazed. It was a great feeling to give the kids something really special this year. My heart nearly burst!

I was so ill for the two days after Christmas that my Christmas tree and decorations stayed up. And, come Thursday, we were off on a youth adventure... a missions training retreat for our youth.

I've been home since Monday, and still the Christmas decorations are up. Ah, work and church and homeschool and simple tiredness of the Christmas and the flu and the weekend... simply won't let me at 'em. I'd rather sit BESIDE my tree and wish it would put itself away... or blog. Hehe.

Gotta hit the sack.