There are a lot of great new Christmas songs out there, but I’m always drawn to the oldies. It’s probably partially because I grew up on them, and the older I get the more I’m drawn to “good” stuff vs. new stuff. As a teenager I was always annoyed by the music chosen by major supermarket chains. These days every song I hear at Superstore is my jam.
I think it also has a lot to do with content. Old hymns and Christmas carols carry such foundational truths. I find when I listen to or sing them that they deepen my faith and speak to my soul. Like this one:
“God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay,
Remember Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day!
To rescue us from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy!”
Most of my favourite songs have to do with the joy of Jesus’ birth. Songs like O Holy Night, O Come all Ye Faithful, and Joy to the World.
These songs speak about the long awaited birth of Christ. The prophets of old had predicted his coming. For centuries, while the world around them fell further and further into darkness, God’s people waited for the Saviour they had been promised. For the One who would free them from oppression, and bring them Hope. And when he finally came, they almost missed Him. Because He didn’t come as they expected. He came as a tiny, helpless newborn baby. Many didn’t recognize him at all. But for those shepherds who heard the angels proclaiming in the fields, for the magi who followed the star to see where it would lead, for Anna and Simon, the prophets who were told they would see the Saviour before their death, for Mary and Joseph, caught up in the middle of this strange, remarkable, unbelievable story – can you imagine the pure joy? The absolute awe? The wonder of knowing that all the prophecies, all the promises were finally being fulfilled? That all the years of waiting were done?
This is what I love about those carols.
“Long lay the world, in sin and error pining,
til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”
This year these familiar songs have taken on a new meaning for me. Because the world feels dark, doesn’t it? Wars, disasters, shootings, train derailments, crazy politicians, bombings, sickness, death. There is so much calamity in our world, so much hurt, so much sadness. And I can’t help but think this is what it must have felt like for all those people waiting, waiting, waiting for the promised Messiah.
Except for one major difference: He’s already come. He came. He lived. He died for our sins. And He rose again.
And so this year, as I sing these hymns of joy and expectation – I sing them not only in celebration of the birth of Christ the Savior, but also in honour of Immanuel, God with us, and in hopeful expectation of His coming again – of the time when He will rule the nations with truth and justice, and make all things new.
I certainly never imagined that I would be a hunter. In fact, I’m fairly certain there was a time in my life where I condemned all hunting as cruel and senseless. I was probably 15. And yes, I ate meat.
I’ve always loved animals. Real animals, of course, but even stuffed animals. I remember vividly an incident as a young girl when a stuffed lamb got accidentally thrown into the fireplace. You guys, I cried tears of regret for a week. I even bandaged the thing up and put it in a little basket beside my bed at night because I felt so bad for it. (I’m not going to tell you how old I was at the time of that incident).
I guess you could say things began to change drastically for me in Afghanistan. The process from butchering to the table is not so hidden or sanitized there as it is here. I was exposed to the sight of dead lambs draped across the back of bicycles on a regular basis. And there was also that time one of my students decided he wanted to gift me a turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving, and much to my surprise brought me an actual live turkey. Which we then had to butcher in order to eat.
My sisters were shocked at the change in me, when on a visit home one Christmas, we were passed by a truck with a flatbed full of dead deer. Don’t look, they shrieked, knowing this would have sent me into a tailspin of wailing in the past. Instead, I found the sight rather funny, and surprised them by bursting into laughter instead of tears.
Getting married to an avid hunter and spending time in Saskatchewan furthered my interest in hunting. I even pushed bush for the Hubs a few years back. Unfortunately, that ended with the Hubs having to hunt for his lost wife, instead of a nice big buck.
At some point this year (and watching a few seasons of Meat Eater on Netflix might have had something to do with this), I decided I was going to hunt. I thoroughly enjoy eating deer, and the idea of extra free meat in the freezer for the winter was very enticing. I took my hunter safety course, spent some time practice shooting, bought myself some serious outdoor gear and was ready to go on the first day of hunting.
I soon learned what most hunters already know. That hunting is partially about being prepared, but a lot about being in the right place at the right time. I had one fairly good opportunity early on in the season, but that was it. I spent time in a blind, I hiked through wildlife lands, I walked through fields of snow (and nearly died in a ditch that ended up being chest deep with snow rather than knee deep as I had thought). I had a small taste of success on the day the Hubs, his dad and I managed to push a nice buck in the direction of the Hubs rifle. But I was so itching to get a real chance to shoot myself.
It’s crazy how obsessive I can be. I literally lost sleep just thinking about situations in which I might be able to shoot a deer. I replayed that one chance I had over and over and over again in my mind. I was getting anxious about the days passing by; my window of opportunity quickly closing. I seriously considered calling in sick to work to get extra hunting time.
And then, the answer came in the form of help from a friend. There was this spot where the deer just came in droves at the right time of day. I set myself up the first evening and I. Was. Focused. My eyes never strayed from the treeline. I watched and waited. I noticed every movement from a chickadee taking flight at 150 yards away, to a blade of dried grass blowing in the wind. But not a single deer came my way. Nothing, nada, zilch.
At this point, I began to take it a little personally. Why would the deer not come for me? Why had I spent so much time away from my kids for this? My poor Hubs had given so much of his time and energy to help me out, and I hadn’t even delivered. You know how these things go. By the time I was walking back to the truck, empty handed once again, I was having a full on inner crisis on my various failings, all my shortcoming as a woman, wife, mother, and human being.
On my second evening in the perch, the atmosphere was immediately different. It was a cloudy day, but the sun was dipping below the clouds, and shinning for the first time in a few days. As soon as I sat down, a deep quiet came over me. I felt my mind slowing, my heart opening. I felt at rest and at peace. The quieter I became, the more I could see, and hear and feel. As I scanned the view in front of me, I began to see things differently. The treeline in front of me was a mass of branches and trunks, stripped bare of the leaves that give them substance and life in summertime. I stared and stared at them. And as I did, something inside of me broke.
My heart recognized a Truth in those trees. They were seemingly dead, hollow, devoid of colour and life on their own. But in the radiant glow of the setting sun, they were stunning, vibrant and full of beauty. The Truth came in a wave. I am like those dead winter trees. I have nothing to give or offer, no inherent beauty of my own. But even stripped bare, in the radiance of the Son, I become alive, set on fire, and filled to the brim. For I was made to house the fullness of God.
I sat in the trees, watched the sun illuminate them, and wept tears of gratitude for a God who knows exactly what I need to hear, and just how to speak to my heart. Who patiently draws me to Him, and who loves me enough to remind me that He is enraptured by me. The trees burned bright for over an hour, until the sun dipped below the horizon, but the moon was already rising, also brilliant as it reflected the sun.
I never did see any deer out there in that “perfect” hunting spot, and I never had another chance to shoot one. So you might say that my first ever hunting season was a failure, but I happen to think it was a success.
We, the beloved cats, having tried our best to ignore your existence as much as possible, now find it imperative to bring a few important items to your attention. We were sincerely hoping that you would be gone by now, but it seems we must live with disappointment.
It’s true, we had reason to hope your stay would be temporary. Your arrival here a few weeks ago was not a welcome one. We were both shocked and dismayed to see you jump out of our family’s car. Thinking it must be some sort of mistake, we felt the most appropriate response would be to absent ourselves. Why get all in a tizzy over a dog, after all. Imagine, if you will, our deep dismay when you were promptly let inside the house. We have been attempting various methods of entry for over a year – from sneaking stealthily when the door is slightly ajar, to making a mad dash. We have tried just waltzing in and acting as though we belong, and running upstairs to hide under the bed. All of our attempts have ended the same way. We are unceremoniously ushered outside. Every. Single. Time. To say that we were mystified and disappointed, that you – a dog no less – would be freely allowed to enter that most coveted place, would be a gross understatement.
The situation worsened considerably during the family’s next outing. Typically, we accompany the woman and our boys on their daily walks. We follow behind, and receive copious amounts of love and pets from our boys. They usually find some sticks or tall grass which they wave in front of us to entice us to chase them, much to our delight. But on that particular day, you were there. Your mere presence was disturbing enough, but you made it an absolute nightmare by insisting on chasing us up trees and into the bushes every time you spotted us, even in spite of the woman’s repeated cries of No! You don’t listen very well, Dog.
That first night we huddled in our house and told each other comforted each other. It’s ok, we said, this will soon pass. It is but a momentary lapse of judgement. But the next day you were still there, and then there was another day, and another day. We began to realize running from you was not solving the issue, and so we stood our ground, giving you a good swat on the nose once or twice. We are not ashamed to say that we enjoyed that rather immensely. There, we thought, now the dog will know its place. It’s true you no longer chased, but your repeated attempts to smell us and your incessant barking at us was really becoming irritating. We didn’t care that you were just trying to get to know us, or wanting to play. We really truly didn’t want you anywhere near us. (Please note: this has not changed).
A few days after your arrival we felt salvation had come at last! You were taken away and we breathed a sigh of relief. Now surely everything would go back to the way it was before. And for a few blissful days, it was. We were rather hoping that we would now be let inside the house, but our repeated attempts continued to be denied, but we found solace in the knowledge that at least we no longer had to deal with you.
But then – you had the incredible audacity to return. We really cannot over emphasize how upsetting this was, Dog. And once again, you were let inside. We let the woman know our feelings on this issue as often as possible. We took shifts sitting on the landing outside the front door so that every time she looked outside, or opened the door, there we were. Our expressions made our feelings abundantly clear. Unhappy. Unimpressed. We meowed pitifully and incessantly at her. All to no avail.
We had high hopes that this stay was also merely temporary. But one night, sitting on our perch, we overheard the woman tell the boys…OUR boys…that you are here to stay. Unbelievable.
Nevertheless, denial will get us nowhere. And so Dog, we feel it necessary to establish some rules.
Rule 1 – Under no circumstances are you ever to come within a two foot radius of us. We refuse to be tainted by your overpowering dog stink.
Rule 2 – You will be swatted mercilessly should you ever break rule 1. We will do our best to draw blood.
Rule 3 – In order to enable you to experience to some small degree how you have made us feel, we will sit in a tree exactly one inch out of your reach and pretend to sleep or lick our paws while you bark and work yourself into a frenzy. We are aware this drives the man and the woman crazy, and we confess that this is in fact our purpose. It is our sincerest hope that they will become so annoyed by this behavior that they will send you away again. It hasn’t worked yet.
Rule 4 – You shall not touch our food or water bowls. Should you happen to drink out of our water bowl, it will be considered tainted, and we will refuse to drink from it until it has been properly sanitized and refilled. We reserve the right to try to eat your food even though we already know it’s too big and too hard for our feline teeth.
Rule 5 – We reserve the right to change our minds about any of the above rules, but especially Rule 1 in the winter months for the purposes of using you as a living heat pad.
We feel it of utmost importance to make it clear that even though of late we have been in fact, slightly more tolerant of your presence, we still ultimately dislike you. That one time we brushed up against you and didn’t immediately recoil shouldn’t be taken as a sign of acceptance…even if you are soft and fuzzy and oh so warm. Ahem. In any case, we think we have made ourselves quite clear.
That’s right. You heard me. The leaves are starting to turn, the combines are out in full force, Starbucks is announcing pumpkin spice everything, and I am starting my spring cleaning.
I could easily make the argument that this is exactly when spring cleaning should take place. I mean, I get the whole idea behind freshening up your home after a long, long, loooooong winter of being trapped indoors. There is something about spring that makes you want to beat out your rugs on the washing line, and get rid of all that cooped up winter dirt. Nonetheless…it has always felt a little silly to me to clean out your whole house right at the time of the year when you will be spending the majority of your time outside…and traipsing all that outside, inside, multiple times a day. Especially when you have small children who can’t yet, or won’t yet, take off their dang shoes when they come inside.
But if I’m being totally honest, this logical argument is not the real reason I’m checking the tick boxes off my spring cleaning list (which I found biodegrading on top of the fridge) on this, the second last day of August. The true reason is that I just haven’t had time. May was the busy month of fundraising for our Cambodia missions trip, and June was the busy month of being on, and returning from, the Cambodia mission trip, and then July and August were the busy months of working full time, and boom. It’s fall.
I’ve had the entire last week off of work, which has been glorious. And now that I’ve started to recoup and feel a little like my normal self again (two months of full time nights make you feel like a crazy person wrapped in a cocoon of grumpiness), I’ve begun to notice all the little things I’ve let go all summer long. For example, the orange juice Little Babe spilled in the fridge a few months ago when I gave in to his stubborn insistence that he could put his unfinished cup on the shelf all by his ‘helf’. (Sure, I wiped the most of it clean with a cloth, but it was all down in the cracks of the drawer, and caked into the seams of the shelves, and don’t get me started on the puddle of congealed OJ I found when I pulled out the veggie drawer). Or the fish crackers and raisins that occasionally pop up from the couch cushions when you sit down a little too hard; disgusting fuzz covered reminders of my inadequate housekeeping skills.
(Side note: I found a crocheting needle under my couch cushions a few days ago, after one of the afore-mentioned fuzz covered treats nearly hit me in the eye and I decided it was high time to get the vacuum out. I only know of two people that have been in my house that could possibly own such a contraption, and both of those people have denied ownership. This is highly suspicious. Could it be the Hubs has taken up crocheting on his lonely nights without me, and is too embarrassed to fess up? I’ll keep you posted with more on this story as it develops).
And then there is my garden. Oh my heart. Oh my poor, sad , pathetic, little garden. I had such high hopes. I planted early, indoors, and nurtured little seedlings on my kitchen counters for weeks. I hauled them all outside as it got nicer out, to get them used to the air, and then brought them all back in at night to keep them warm and safe from frost. We staked out rows, planned what should go where, and dug trenches to place both plants and seeds. We lovingly covered them up again with soil, not too deep for these, a little more for those.
To be fair, there were a few setbacks out of my control. The two weeks we were away were in the 30’s, and there wasn’t much rain. Then some sheep escaped a pen, and enjoyed a hearty snack at the garden’s expense. Also, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that we finally set up a double hose from the house system, to save us from having to literally fill up buckets by hand and water the garden one painful pailful at a time. Ain’t no one got time for that, am I right?
But really and truly, the main reason that our garden didn’t flourish as it should, the reason for sticky shelves in the fridge, and projectile snacks from the couch, is that I just didn’t make the time. You know what else I didn’t make time for? Me.
My heart is dry. It’s fruit is withered and slow growing. My soul feels dusty and clogged. I haven’t taken time to rest, to be, to remind myself of who I am, and Whose I am. Today I read these words:
“Oh God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
Oh yes. That’s me. But you know what? A little consistent watering goes a long way towards making a garden flourish. Today my lettuce stands a little straighter, looks a little greener. Tomatoes are ripening, and the corn is starting to round out. The fridge is gleaming, and I’m no longer being assaulted by smiling fish when I sit down.
“I have seen you in the sanctuary, I have beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. ”
Spring cleaning is under way, not just in my home, but also in my heart.
This year, I got THE BEST present for Mother’s Day.
Are you a present person? I wouldn’t go so far as to say that presents are the way to my heart, but I definitely like them…a lot.
As a kid, I remember spending a whole lot of time imagining all the amazing stuff I wanted for Christmases and birthdays. Occasionally, those wishes came true. When I was about five I came downstairs on Christmas morning to find a beautiful porcelain doll sitting on the settee. She was the fulfillment of all my five year old hearts desires.
And then there were years when I was disappointed. My ten year old self just couldn’t understand why my parents would be so cruel as to not get me a horse for my birthday. We lived in Mexico City (population 30 million) at the time.
Over time, of course, the things I dream and fantasize about have changed. At age 16, all I wanted was a disc man. These days, my hopes and dreams are a little simpler…
‘Cause I’m a mom now. So instead of a fancy necklace or diamond earrings, what I tend to fantasize about is sleeping in until 9 am.
If you had asked me a week ago what I wanted for Mother’s Day, and if I was being totally honest, I might have said a day with no kids would be great.
An acquaintance of mine was once sent away by her hubs for a weekend at a fancy spa, complete with booked brunches and pedicures, for Mother’s Day. Yeah. Pretty stellar.
That’s the thing about being a mom. It’s so all encompassing, so overwhelming, so everything all the time, that sometimes, it feels like the best way to celebrate it would be to get away from it.
Well, I didn’t get a weekend away this year, and don’t get me wrong, I would happily accept a couple days of full on pampering (or even just 8 hours of books and movies and tea in bed) but the gift I got this year… it was WAY better than that.
Ok, so it wasn’t a real gift, but I got those too. From the Hubs I got two beautiful hanging baskets for my front porch – purchases I had been wanting to make for weeks.
Exactly what I would have picked myself.
From my boys, and my incredible mother in law, these vases:
I will treasure these for years to come. When my boys hands no longer fit in mine, these will be a tangible reminder of exactly where they are at right now. These are priceless gifts.
But even these precious gifts were not the best gift I received this year. In fact, I didn’t even get it on Mother’s Day.
Instead, my perfect gift came Saturday evening, after a crazy busy day, as my little family spent some much needed quality time together unwinding from a week of stress and hurry.
My perfect gift was a simple moment – a moment in time where I was unhurried, where I wasn’t busy planning something in my head or figuring out a next step, or completing a task that needs doing. I looked at my boys running around on the grass, watched them laughing, breathless from running, noticed the setting sunlight casting a rosy glow on their skin, and I felt – really felt – the fullness of the joy of being their mom.
That was it. That perfect moment, was my perfect gift.
Those moments are all too rare. In the swift march of life, I get so caught up in doing, I forget how blessed I am to have two happy, healthy boys. That being their mama is the best and most incredible gift I will ever receive.
This Mother’s Day I got the best present ever – the gift of perspective. And I’m going to hold on to it as long as I can.
So, it’s March. Seriously? When did this happen? Wasn’t it New Year’s Eve two days ago?
I knew going into this year it was going to begin with a busy stretch. I started a new job just before Christmas and have spent the last two months working full time while I’ve been getting orientated to my new unit.
I really struggle with life during these kinds of busy seasons. I want to do it well – to find a way to balance everything – but most of the time I end up exhausted and stressed out – just pushing through in survival mode.
And the thing about survival mode is that I end up so focused on my own needs, I feel like I can’t be fully engaged in anything else. I struggle to be present with my kids, to be loving and focused on my husband, to be thinking of and journeying with my friends.
And that’s when Guilt starts talking.
You should be doing more with the kids, it whispers. You don’t play with them the way you should. You should be challenging their minds more, pouring into them.
Tsk, tsk, it sneers, that laundry is still not folded. And look at those crumbs under the table. When was the last time you vacuumed upstairs?
You still haven’t sent that email to that friend. She’s been going through such a tough time, and you haven’t reached out once. What kind of Christian are you?
And speaking of Jesus, how much time have you spent with Him lately? Look at you sitting on the couch watching a show when you should be reading your Bible.
The accusations are endless. And if I’m not careful, that voice can lead me to dark places. I can begin to believe the lies it wants to feed me: Your kids deserve better. Your husband could have done better. You are not enough. You are a disappointment.
Thank God for grace.
For kids that squeal in delight when I finally find the time to run around the house with them.
For a husband who doesn’t judge the state of the house when he gets home, but quietly puts the wet clothes he threw in the washer that morning into the dryer, because I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
For friends that listen when I’m struggling, pray for my heart, and speak words of life and encouragement.
For a God who, this very morning, covered every branch in sight with a thick layer of hoarfrost, and reminded me through the beauty of His creation of the one truth I needed to hear: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.
I’d been living in Afghanistan for a year and a half. When I signed up to go, I thought to myself, it’s only a year – even if I hate it there, it is only a year. But I hadn’t hated it – instead, I had been surprised at how quickly I had fallen in love with it. The beautiful country, the culture and way of life, and most of all the welcoming, open-hearted people. A few months into my contract, it had been easy to make the decision to stay another year, but now, I had another decision to make, and this time it wasn’t so easy.
There were a lot of reasons to stay – I loved the people, I loved the work, I loved my team mates. I had grown in my relationship with God, and felt for the first time in my life like I was developing a faith all my own. My heart was truly in it.
There were also reasons to go – as much as I loved my work in education, I couldn’t ignore the overwhelming medical needs of the community we lived in, and that little voice that had whispered into my heart the idea of nursing years before was making itself heard again. I wondered what else was in store for me – what other adventures and plans God had for me.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” Psalm 37:4
This familiar verse had developed a new meaning for me, as I came to understand that in giving your heart to God, you allow Him the opportunity to shape and mould your heart to desire the things He wants for you -things far better than you could ever have imagined.
In the middle of all these pros and cons was one very important factor. A boy. A boy I had grown to respect and admire in my 18 months in Afghanistan. Truthfully, I was smitten within the first two weeks of my being there, and as we came to know each other better, as we developed a working relationship, and a friendship, the school-girl crush developed into something much stronger. For the first time in my life, I was really and truly in love with a boy. And it was heartbreaking. Because he didn’t feel the same way. I had prayed fervently for a year and a half- begging God to take these feelings from me if it wasn’t to be. But despite all that praying, I was still smitten. And as much as I wanted to stay to see if there would ever be a chance for us, I knew I couldn’t base my decision to stay or to go on him.
After days of praying through it all, I had a phone date with a sweet and trusted friend, who told me that as she was praying about my decision to stay or go, she’d had a vision of me packing my bags to leave. As I packed up my stuff, Jesus walked in with a big smile on his face, and a wonderful present for me. I honestly didn’t know what to think of this, and as I processed it all, I found myself talking it through with my resident big brother on the team. On a whim, I confessed my crush to him, and immediately wondered how much endless teasing I would have to endure in the coming weeks. But instead of teasing, he kindly talked it through, and encouraged me to make a change, to see what else God had for me in this big wide world. In other words, to leave.
On February 14th, mid morning, my boss asked me to his office to chat about what I was thinking about leaving or staying. I looked into the eyes of the man I loved and told him I was leaving. He said everyone would miss me, gave me a brotherly hug, and let me go.
I returned to my office and wept. Instead of the peace I thought would come when I finally made my choice I felt turmoil, and heart break. I tried to get some work done, but kept breaking down as thoughts of leaving occupied my mind. A few minutes later, my big brother came flying into the room.
“You are not going anywhere,” he said. What?!? I thought. You just told me I should leave!!
“I just told Paul I’m leaving,” I replied. He stared at me for a couple seconds, then threw his hands up in the air and left the room.
I didn’t get much work done that day. I felt so confused and overwhelmed. I began to second guess my decision, so much so that I went back to my boss, and asked him to hold off on letting our headquarters know about my decision just for a day or so until I could process it a little more. He smiled, looking a little confused, and agreed to wait. When the work day was done, and we started making our way back to the living quarters, I was relieved to just relax and not have to pretend like I was getting anything done.
Since it was Valentines Day, the men in our group had made us a special surprise dinner, which they served to us in our common room – they even gifted each of us girls some little trinkets. We were so impressed by how they had gone out of their way to show us single girls a little love on Valentines. We even got to pick a girly movie to watch after.
As we watched Bridget Jones fall for the wrong guy, then the right one, I kept sneaking a peek at my secret love through the corner of my eye. He didn’t laugh once. He kept checking his phone. He barely seemed to be watching the show.
Either he really doesn’t like Bridget Jones, or he has something else on his mind, I thought.
After the movie, as we cleaned and tidied up from our evening activities, he approached me, asking if we could go to his office for a couple of minutes and chat. It was a short walk across two courtyards, and we walked it in silence. When we got there, he said he had forgotten his phone, and ran back to the main house to get it. I sat on the step outside the office, stared up at hundreds of millions of gleaming stars, and with the glow of Bridget and Mark’s final kiss still in my head, began to day dream about the possibility of him sitting me down in his office to tell me he liked me.
No! Snap out of it. That’s never going to happen. Just let it go.
No sooner had I broken myself from this reverie, than he was back. We went into his office, sat down, and chatted about nothing for a few minutes before he finally started to tell me what he had asked me there for.
“Raquel, as you have been making the decision about whether to stay or go, I just feel like I need to tell you I haven’t been completely honest with you…”
Crap! I’m getting fired! I can’t change my mind because they don’t want me here. Or maybe they want to send me home before I finish my contract? I thought I’d have more time.
“I’ve been praying and thinking about this a lot, and I feel like I have a peace from God to share this with you, and to share my heart with you, and I just wanted you to know that I think you are a beautiful girl with a beautiful heart and I would be interested in pursuing a relationship with you.”
………….What? ………..I don’t….What?….Did I go to sleep?….Am I dreaming?…What did he just say? …
Very lame thoughts, I confess, but I have never in my life experienced a more surreal moment. I truly and honestly thought I was dreaming this up – that I was sleeping and would wake any second, or perhaps that I was hallucinating.
Mercifully, he kept talking, somewhat nervously, I think, and that gave me some time to confirm that no, I wasn’t sleeping, no, I wasn’t hallucinating. Yes, I was sitting across from Paul Weinmaster, the man of my dreams, the one my heart loved, and he was telling me he liked me.
That was ten years ago today. Now I know that mere minutes after I confessed my crush to our friend and brother Clyde, Paul shared his feelings toward me with him too. Because we both swore him to secrecy, and because he is too good a friend and brother to betray that trust, he nearly died of internal injuries, trying to suppress his desire to get it all out in the open. Instead, he encouraged Paul to share his feelings on the most appropriate day of the year – a day dedicated to love.
Ten years goes by so fast. It feels like yesterday that I sat across that blue eyed man in his office, and pinched myself a hundred times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. At that moment, as we talked it through – as we realized the timeline of events, and shared our hearts with each other, prayed for the start of our relationship, and whatever the future would hold for us – it felt so much bigger than just us. We could sense that God was in it – that it was for His purpose that He was bringing us together.
In ten years we have had lots of ups and downs, lots of challenges and triumphs. At times we have walked purposefully in the path set out for us, and at times we have been distracted, but always we have been brought back by that night, and by the overwhelming certainty that when God created us, it was in His plan for us to love one another.
I love you, besyar ziat, my Hubs, and the wonderful life God has given us.
I would like to interrupt this 3 month blogging hiatus (brought to you by Christmas, a new job, full time hours, and two toddlers) to bring you an important announcement.
Have you ever had a moment when you just felt like everything came together? Like suddenly the world was a better place than it was a few moments before? A moment of sheer perfection, when all was right with the world?
I’ve had a few of those moments in my life. Some of them were truly big moments. The moment when Paul asked me to marry him; the moment we were pronounced husband and wife. The first time I heard the cries of my sweet baby boys. Some of them were just simple moments of bliss. A quiet summer afternoon sipping iced tea and watching the breeze blow gently through the trees. That instant right before you fall into a deep peaceful sleep.
Yesterday I had one of those moments. On my way home from my 12 hour night shift, I had the radio blasting as I made my way down the highway in an attempt to keep my tired eyes open. My mind was busy going over the events of the night, so I almost missed it –
“Churro timbits. Now at Tim Hortons.”
Wait, what? I thought. What? Churro timbits? Suddenly I was wide awake. I sat up straighter as I cranked the radio higher. Churro timbits?!? Do my exhausted ears deceive me? Can this be true?
You guys, it’s true.
To say I am excited is a bit of an understatement. I’m beyond excited. It’s actually a little embarrassing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why exactly I was so elated, but as I lay in bed a half an hour later, still thinking about those churro timbits, I had a dream.
In my dream, I was at a birthday party. Standing in a circle, clapping and singing, were a bunch of my friends. As I smiled around the circle at them, I noticed that I was clapping and singing too, and as I continued to sing, the song became familiar.
“Dale, dale, dale, no pierdes sentido…”
Hey, I thought, it’s the pinata song. And sure enough, there in front of me, was a pinata. The moment I made this realization, the pinata burst open, and out rained a bunch of timbits. My heart leaped. My inner Mexican five year old burst out of me and I gave it my all to get to those timbits first. I literally dove for them.
Literally. I woke up halfway to the floor, but managed (mercifully) to catch myself before hitting it.
As I pulled myself back into bed, the thought came to me again, churro timbits. And suddenly, it all made sense. My dream, my elation.
Churro timbits are my spirit animal. They represent a perfect blending of my two cultures. I. Am. A churro timbit.
And with this realization – a moment of bliss. For what could be wrong in a world where such a magical thing as a churro timbit exists? I embraced this wonderful knowledge and drifted off into a sweet sleep.
Sadly, I have yet to actually try a churro timbit. Both times I have been to Tim Hortons in the last few days, they have been all out, which probably means they are as amazing as I think they will be. I certainly hope so. And I’m fairly certain that another moment of perfection awaits me the moment that sweet treat meets my taste buds.
Until then, churro timbit, I’ll be dreaming of you.
7:04am: I wake to the sound of Luka crying. It’s not a hurt cry, just an I’m unhappy cry. His brother has stolen his toy, or he can’t quite get his whole self up onto the couch. I come downstairs and say good morning to everyone. The Hubs is making breakfast and has gotten a cup of coffee started for me in the Keurig. (He’s amazing, FYI). It’s a sunny day, and I’m feeling pretty good about how it’s going to go.
8:30 am: The Hubs has left for work. I’m cleaning up breakfast, and Luka is crying again. I run around the corner quick to make sure he’s not hurt. He’s not. He’s just grumpy. He spends the seven minutes it takes me to rinse the dishes and put them in the dishwasher clinging to my leg. I speak to him soothingly, and ask him what’s going on. He just looks up at me with his face all scrunchy. I quickly dry my hands, and pick him up for a little cuddle. Lets play in the playroom, Mateo says. Great idea.
9:15 am: I’ve printed out some colouring pages – Remembrance Day poppies, a giraffe for Mateo, an elephant for Luka. There are markers and crayons all over the floor. Luka is crying again, because I won’t let him eat the crayons, or the markers, or the paper. He walks over to the desk, and starts pulling on the cords for the computer and the modem and the router. Another No, Luka sends him into another meltdown. This is getting annoying. Time for a change of scenery.
9:45 am: We are upstairs now. I decided it was time to get dressed for the day. The boys are changed, and busy with books in Mateo’s room, so I decide to take advantage and put away the mountain of clothes I folded yesterday. I’m about three socks in when Luka starts crying. Again. What is going on with you today?
10:03 am: We are outside. I was certain the kittens and the outdoors would put Luka in a better mood, but instead it’s made things worse. It’s not as warm as it looks, and it’s windy. Luka wants to be exactly 3 inches away from the kitties. Any further and it’s too far. Any closer and it’s too close. I just want to go back inside, but Mateo is having a blast on his bike, and it’s not really fair to him to pull the plug on the outing so quickly. I grab some water and teething gel from the house, and give both to Luka, just in case. He’s not interested in either. He grabs the bat, and is content to carry it around…for 45 seconds. Then he drops it on his toe, and starts crying. Oh brother. I’m still feeling pretty optimistic about the day. I text the Hubs to suggest a post-kids-in-bed date night. I’ll plan it! I tell him. Looking forward to it! he responds. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Pumpkin break the 3 inch rule. Luka starts crying. It’s beginning to grate on my nerves.
11:00 am: Back inside. Luka is crying. Mateo wants to bake. In a moment of weakness (read: guilt over how much attention Luka has been getting all morning), I agree. I set Luka up with a few chocolate chips to keep him busy. Bad idea. For the next 15 minutes, he cries incessantly for more. I waver between telling him no, and then caving and giving him a few anyway. This is terrible parenting, I think, but I’m really done with the crying at this point. I quickly check him over to make sure there are no injuries I’ve missed, put a little more teething gel on his gums just in case, and grab a few toys to keep him busy while Mateo and I finish the muffins. Quickly. Deep breaths, I tell myself, Count to ten, and deep breaths.
11:35 am: Epic meltdowns are in full force. For any and every reason. Luka’s ball rolls under the couch. The world ends. He gets up but trips on his own feet and falls on his bum. Armageddon. He runs at me with such force that when he makes contact with my leg, he ends up bouncing backwards and lands on his bum again. There is much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I realize, as I roll my shoulders again to try and ease the tension, that my head is starting to hurt. I need to start getting lunch ready. I start calculating the numbers of minutes left before nap time. Maybe we should reschedule date night. Deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths.
11:50 am: Deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths. I’ve counted to 300 already. Twice. I’m losing it. In a last ditch attempt, I start singing fun songs, dancing around the kitchen, as I flip hotdogs and chop cucumbers. It doesn’t help. Luka is still crying.
12:04 pm: Any shred of patience or grace left in my heart gets tossed out the window as Luka walks into my leg for the twelfth time and falls onto his bum. His crying intensifies. I’ve only been awake for 5 hours. I. Am . Exhausted.
LUKA, JUST STOP CRYING FOR ONE SECOND!!!!! I yell. And he does. For one second. There is quiet. For one second. Both boys stare at me in shock. And then they both start crying.
12:05 pm: I’m crying too now. I’m looking at my beautiful boys. Tears stain their faces. Luka’s nose is dripping with snot. Their eyes are sorrowful. I hurl accusations at myself that only I can hear. I sink down to the floor, and open my arms, and, mercifully, they both come running. Because they love me, because I am their comforter, because I am their safety, even when I lose it. We sit on the kitchen floor for a long time. Their tears have ended, but mine have only begun. I’m sorry, I say, again, and again. I’m sorry.
The moment is healing. There’s something about that close physical contact. About just sitting and being for a little while. No one says anything. We just sit, and breathe each other in. And when we begin to pull away, the tension begins to ease. Why didn’t I just do this sooner? Maybe we all just needed a little time out. I get too busy with stuff. They just need me sometimes, I think. I berate myself for a while. Jesus, help me to remember this next time, to just stop and do this before it gets to that point, I pray.
12:30 pm: We are eating lunch. The hot dogs are a little burned but nobody seems to care. Luka is crying. He wants to clink glasses for the millionth time. My head throbs in sync with the banging of his cup on his tray. One hour left until nap time. Five hours left until the Hubs is home. I seriously consider locking myself in the bathroom. Just for five minutes.
This is real life. It’s not all pinterest crafts, and fun outings, and new kittens. It’s hard. It’s raw. Sometimes it’s beaming smiles on sunlit porches, and sometimes it’s sitting on the floor, hair in a bun, un-showered, no make up, crying your eyes out with your kids on your lap. This is motherhood. In all its glory. And it is so worth it.