Wednesday, December 19, 2012

nerdsauce

i made a batch of fudge yesterday, with coconut milk and honey, and the light smooth creaminess had a certain texture that i couldn't describe with any precision.

it's - it's - well, i want to say mellifluous, i told patrick, but of course that's not the word.  but it's the closest thing i can think of.

and then today i was geeking out over at fritinancy, and discovered that the root of mellifluous is mel - latin for honey - and my tongue was right after all.

don't you just love words?



the recipe is available here.  i also tossed in a half cup of mini marshmallows at the vanilla extract stage.  xo

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Kindness (posted by patrick)

Ephesians 4.32
Be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

1 Thessalonians 5:15
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men.

I've been convicted by these verses lately. And not because I've been unkind, necessarily. I don't tend to be unkind intentionally, generally. Though I am often ignorantly unkind.

Rather, when others, my brothers and sisters, are unkind or when I perceive that they are being unkind I am quick to foster resentment within myself and these verses have exposed this tendency to me as sin.

If I repay unkindness with unkindness, I am multiplying sin.

If I foster bitterness within myself over the unkindness of my brothers and sisters I am multiplying sin.

If I have been wronged I have no license to be bitter, I have no license to be unkind in return. Rather, I am commanded to forgive, to be kind, to be tender hearted.

I need to get hold of how poisonous bitterness is and that when God commands that there be no bitterness among us, it's because bitterness is deadly. Deadly to me, and deadly to our fellowship.

Even if I am right in my bitterness, even if I have been wronged, I am wrong to be bitter and I am multiplying sin.

It makes me joyful that God commands such extreme purity of heart that there be no grudges among us, no disunity, no fear, no resentment, no dislike, no discomfort but that we be joined together, sharing everything, our fellowship fueled by a love that comes from the very heart of God: the love of Jesus.

God commands it.

There is no expectation that there will be no unkindness, no wrong, no misunderstanding, no disunity among us but there is this command that when there is unkindness, when there is wrong, when there is misunderstanding, when there is disunity we respond with tender hearts, with kindness, with forgiveness.

This is how the unity of our fellowship will be preserved.

veiled in flesh

one of the blogs i follow is written by a brave and beautiful mom who can't bear children - well, not for the first 9 months.  she has two beautiful boys, and she & her husband bore them through the intense labour of adoption and the heaviness of a pain-filled past, into the gorgeous warm love of their family.  i read it in the middle of the night while feeding vava, sleepy and sweet in the quiet.

before i went to bed, i was cleaning the kitchen and listening to kenny & dolly christmas carols.  'once upon a christmas' starts out with a description of mary and joseph's arrival in bethlehem:

joseph found a stable in which mary had her child / once upon a christmas was the birth of Jesus Christ.

i was struck with the incongruity.  the Son of God - born in a stable.

but God does that a lot.  hides his beauty in plain wrapping -

the stable, perhaps, his version of brown paper packaging?

the tabernacle, all glorious and golden, carved and set with gems, was covered entirely with animal skins.  veiled in flesh, the glory of holy God.

eternal life came cradled in a dark tomb, birthed on a bloody cross.

and God makes mothers, brings children, out of the bruise of infertility.

i know.
sam and vava, both miracles, wrapped up in their own brown paper packaging.

what is it for you, the veiling?  what veils His glory right now?

unwrap it for christmas, dear friend.  find his beauty, hidden.  let it be born in you this christmas, painful and glorious in your own dark stable, under a skyful of stars and bursting with angel-song.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

the kiddlies

a peek at my december darlings:

pretty in polka-dots

heart-burst over how much they love each other.

getting his fluids haha

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

and God saw that it was good.

dear friend.

you're walking a hard road.

a good road.

a God road.

and while it's possible

that the night's sorrow will last long,

and your heart won't throb with the deep joy it was made for until that great morning,

i pray that the assurance of His presence

and the comfort of His hand in yours

and the hope - the sure hope -

of hearing His glad 'well done!'

will be enough, and more than enough

to light you through the dark 'til then.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

twenty-one months

sam at 21 months: he is a busy, energetic, sporty little monkey, and rarely snuggles for more than 5 seconds at a time, but every day i am astonished to see the ways in which he is learning to be deliciously sweet.

last night, he & patrick & i were playing tag and having a tickle fight.  patrick pinned me and i was squawking, trying not to get tickled.  sam looked so concerned, and pushed his way past papa to wrap his arms around my neck and make sure everything was okay.

yesterday, vava was crying.  sam gently patted her head and whispered 'shhhh' and gave her a kiss (then he said 'all done' and pushed her away, but the dearness was definitely there!).

this morning we ran out for some groceries.  at the store, he took anything i passed him and placed it in the cart.  i gave him a fist bump, and he came at my fist with his teeth to bite me.  "be gentle," i reminded him, and he turned his bite into a kiss and a pat.

when we came home, i did what i usually do and popped vava (in her carseat) inside the house, and left sam in the porch so he could watch me bring in the groceries.  every time i came up the steps, he tried with all his might to open the door for me.

yes.  in spite of the many days i feel like we're just surviving from breakfast to bedtime, and don't know if i've taken the time to teach sam, he really is learning.  important things, like how to show kindness and love and to think about others.

seeing my son develop qualities like thoughtfulness and care absolutely blows my mind.

and the best part?  i know exactly how he's learning these.  patrick is so kind and takes such good care of us all.  sam tries to copy him whenever he can.  i'm so grateful that he has such an incredible papa to imitate. <3 p="p">

Sunday, December 2, 2012

a little gift

i found a little gift today.
actually not a little gift at all.
a wonderful gift, right on the page where i've read it and missed it dozens of times before.

a few posts ago, i talked about the time Jesus asked me to forgive someone as if i was forgiving Him.  this idea showed up again in my reading today: 'rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man' (ephesians 6:7).

but the next verse was a surprise.  a gift.

'knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord ...' (ephesians 6:8).

we get it back?

the service ... all the good we do to Him, He gives back to us.

think of the good things you've done lately.  maybe you gave til it hurt?  maybe you bit your tongue instead of lashing out?  maybe you poured your busy hour out in prayer for a friend?

guess what?

you get it back!

and not just in kind - but from the Lord Himself.

yes, my greedy, thankful heart!  
whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

crumbs

on sunday, a strong and heart-soft old man stood up to read psalm 23.  he told us what it meant to declare the Lord is my shepherd, i shall not want.

it's been a hard year for him.  for his wife.  his daughters.  we've been wrapping them in prayer week by week, and they've kept on, kept on.

and when he read those words, he broke down, broke open, spilled over tears and his heart was bare.

and it wasn't any longer a room full of individuals, but a unit, a unity, one body.  gathered around those tears, that love, that Shepherd.
one heart, broken, like the bread on the table.
one cup, sorrow, on every lip.

nourished by the broken body.
strengthened by the poured-out cup.

brokenness
is hard.
being bare before the body, heart bowed and tears flowing.

we want to cover, protect, hide.
pain and shame and loss and grief or any of the wounds that knife us deep.

but bandaids don't heal these kinds of hurts and Jesus told us and showed us to bear one another's burdens with the clothes torn off and the skin flayed.  this is my body. broken for you.

the burden baring.
the burden bearing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

quantum theory

driving through  a  starlit night, listening to a lecture on the radio, i found myself shot through with shivers.

the speaker was describing quantum theory, and describing it in a way that wasn't entirely (although still somewhat) over my head.  describing it in simple enough terms that i could follow, and with a mastery of english that made listening a pleasure.  yes, even to that convoluted and dusty thing, theory.

i hesitate to retell what i understood, because his lecture was brilliant, and my recollection is sure to be faulty and vague.

however, i'm going to try to share a bit of what struck me so deliciously.  forgive me for my clunky understanding.

when scientists were just beginning to understand the structure of atoms, electrons gave them pause.  because whenever they were detected they behaved like particles - measurable entities, single units.  but they way they behaved as they interacted with the world?  not a single unit at all, but a multiplicity - a wave that seeks out multiple possible actions and paths.

both a single unit, and a multiplicity.  that's what gripped my heart in bliss.

this articulate scientist wasn't just breaking down quantum theory - he was describing God.

the way we detect Him?  as a single unit, one person (Father, Son, Spirit) at a time.
the way He behaves as He interacts with the universe?  as a multiplicity, unbound.

the character of God trembles in electrons and physicists explore His fingerprint and we don't even know the aching billions of ways He has hidden Himself right before our eyes.


check out these mind-blowing excerpts from an interview with the speaker - neil turok - in a recent article about his lecture and book.

'Einstein and his colleagues were struggling to come to terms with evidence that nature is surreal, he writes.

Deep down, its basic constituents “don’t behave like particles or billiard balls or masses sliding down planes, or weights on springs or clouds or rivers or waves or anything anyone has ever seen in everyday life.”
...
“The world is not made up of particles and waves and beams of light with a definite existence. Instead, the world works in a much more exploratory way. It is aware of all the possibilities at once and trying them out all the time. That is a hard thing to picture.”'
doesn't it just echo deep, that word aware?

All things received being through him, and without him not one thing received being which has received being.  -John 1:3 (DBT)

the whole universe flares with the fullness of Him.

Friday, November 16, 2012

much more

loving the logic in romans 5 this morning :).

argument: death came to all humankind through one man, adam, because of one transgression.

in contrast, life is provided for all humankind, through Jesus, because of the effectiveness of his righteousness - in spite of our many, many transgressions.

what Jesus gives is stronger, bigger, and more effective ... so, if death ruled in humankind because of adam, life will rule SO MUCH MORE in all those who receive the gift of Jesus' righteousness.

and it really does.

eternal life doesn't just begin once death takes away temporal life.  it begins now, and it's beautiful.  i'm thinking of christians i know ... christians who love the unlovely - tirelessly, without thanks.  christians who trust God enough to make huge life changes when he nudges them.  christians who persist in daily doing good.  christians who pour out their hearts and paycheques for people in need.  christians who walk in the sort of love and joy and peace that makes you cry.  because they've been given the gift of righteousness, and they walk gladly in it - reigning in life.

'much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.'

Thursday, November 8, 2012

zosted

^ that's how my lulu-niece said exhausted when she was little.  and it's fitting, because i'm too tired to breathe out that extra syllable.

i couldn't understand how it's after 2pm and i got nothing done, but was busy all day.   then i looked at the numbers and realized that on any given day, i spend at least 7 full hours putting food into someone else's mouth.  that's not even counting the food-related activities: prep, cooking, clean up, grocery shopping, washing the food (and spit up) off clothes, or dealing with the output a few hours later.  7 full hours, just feeding other bellies.  (i'd expect my own to be smaller than it is, at this rate ;))

i'm so tired right now that i'm actually going to rediaper, dress, and bundle the kids up.  i'm going to haul the double stroller out of the basement (while avoiding the dog poop i discovered on the wheels when i brought it in yesterday), and push the kids around town for an hour, and undo it all when we get back.  because doing all that is less tiring than playing tag or dodgeball or anything with sam in the livingroom :S

zzzzzzz . . .

Monday, November 5, 2012

the long pain and forgiveness

i'm still hurting from the trauma of giving birth.

i thought it would be done by now, the suffering.  it's been more than three weeks, and does the body even still bear the agony of twenty tearing minutes?

apparently time and healing all wounds are not as closely linked as i'd like to believe.

i've learned this before.  but somehow it's easy to forget, and the way pain can linger comes each time as a stabbing surprise.

i fell for a guy when i was eighteen - fell right into his cavernous ego and hungered after him like a puppy.  and when his harshness sent me reeling, i felt that hurt for years.  four years.

it wasn't four years of constant sad love songs and tears, but whenever something would remind me, waves of owww-that-hurts would all but drown me.

i changed, in that long pain.  i used to be the kind of person who would rather be hurt than hurt someone else.  i could absorb it - just take it, when it was dished out, and not hit back.  but eighteen came and there wasn't any room left to absorb hurt, and i couldn't bear an ounce and it came spilling back out, and i would do almost anything to repel fresh pain.  i didn't care who i hurt on the way.  i was a big wound oozing bitterness, and i couldn't shake this long pain.

it was autumn - the nights were dark early, the highway lined with half-dressed trees and whipped with wind.  i was driving home from the airport, and had turned off the radio to just pray.  and i begged God to help me forgive, help me change, lift me out of the self-centred ugliness i was trapped in.  i needed freedom from this pain.

i didn't expect His response.

'truly, i say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'  (matthew 25:40).

here was a challenge.  if Jesus had hurt me - if he had broken my heart - would i forgive him?  (the cross was proof that he had forgiven me - everything.  forever.  how could i do less?)

yes.  i would.

then do it, he prompted, as unto me.

and i suddenly found that i could.  i could forgive - when forgiving as if i was forgiving Jesus.  i could take the pain, when taking it meant not hurting Jesus.

and bearing this pain for vava is the same - worth it, worth it, every second of three weeks and counting.  when she snuggles up on me and breathes her squeaky little snores against my neck, i am blissful with the worth-it-ness of it all.  pain?  what pain?  for the one i love?  bring it on.

tomorrow i have an appointment with my midwife.  ugh.  i've got all sorts of ugly feelings about it - after the birth being what it was, and her not remembering my name -

but Jesus reminded me of my old pain-lesson today.  can't i forgive her - as unto him?  because he'll take it, my forgiving her, as an offering to him.

of course i can.  forgive him, who has forgiven me everything?
in a glad heartbeat.

mean ol' midwife?  bring it on.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Jesus and sleep training and the bigger lesson

patrick and i are big fans of sleep training.  (not mean or harsh sleep training, but wise and kind sleep training - giving our kids the confidence and security to sleep well alone.)  sam is an amazing sleeper, and usually wakes up happy and ready to greet the day with a big smile.  vava is already in a pretty amazing routine, and sleeps longer at night than sam did at her age.

the premise of sleep training is to build into your kids a sense of security when you're not present. so when sam was a tiny baby, we would sing and snuggle and pray, then put him into his crib and kiss him goodnight and leave him alone, awake, to fall asleep.  if and when he cried, we didn't respond to his first cry - which sounds horrible, right?  what kind of parents were we?

but we had a bigger and more joyful lesson in mind.

and i found that exact same lesson today in the book of john.  turns out, Jesus was a sleep trainer too.  weird, i know, but let me explain.

two of Jesus' friends sent him a message, because their brother was sick.  they knew Jesus could heal him - he'd been healing people all over the place!  but then he didn't come ... and the scripture says:

'Jesus loved martha and her sister [mary] and lazarus.  so, when he heard that lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.' (john 11:5-6)

that little word so caught my attention.  i had expected it to be but.

he stayed where he was because he loved them.

even when it meant lazarus would die? how come?

the answer was in verse 4.  '... Jesus said, 'this illness does not lead to death.  it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.'

because he loved them, he was going to reveal his glory through and to them.  so he didn't come running at their call, because he had more in mind.

(what, exactly? raising lazarus from the tomb.  death torn apart by life.  revealing his glory in the most spectacular way ever.  bringing joy rushing into their hearts, showing just how powerful he was - even over death.  worth it?  so worth it.)

it's the same with sleep training - we want sam and vava to be completely secure in our love, to trust that we are taking care of them even when we're not physically in their sight.  so we give them a little practice - they cry out for us, and don't see us right away.  but everything is okay, and after a little bit, we come in and kiss them and snuggle them and put them back down.  and they learn - we are there, we are watching out for them, and even when they don't see us, we're close and everything is okay.  we don't just want them to fall asleep (although of course we want that too) - we want them to learn the bigger rest-of-their-life lesson that we're here for them and are acting in their best interest whether they can see us or not.

i went to elementary school with a kid who hadn't yet learned that lesson.  every single morning, his mom would bring him right to his desk in our primary classroom, and he would kick and sob and wail.  he clung to her as long as he could, and some days she even stayed for a while, kneeling beside his desk, strangling under the tight arms of his insecurity while the teacher went through the lesson.  but no matter how long she stayed, he lost control when she left.  it was awful.

sometimes, i think i'm that kid.

as soon as i don't see exactly what God is doing in my life, i start to freak out.  'what's going on?' i cry.  'where are you?  augh!'  like mary and martha, who didn't understand Jesus' delay.  'if you had been here,' they told him, 'Lazarus wouldn't have died.'  the implication?  their security depended on his physical presence.  he needed to be there.

he gently reminds them that his care and presence transcend the physical by pointing them to his Father.  he lifts his face to heaven and prays to God.  'Father, i thank you that you have heard me.  i knew that you always hear me, but i said this on account of the people standing around ...'  (verses 41-42).

he hears.  he hears!  he always hears.

same with sam.  we've got the monitor on in his room, and when he cries, we hear.  and we're bent on providing for him everything that he needs.  it's just that sometimes, the thing that he needs is the unanswered cry, so we can bless him more.

because he loves me, sometimes Jesus stays out of sight.  he doesn't give me what i ask for.  he waits.

he's teaching me a bigger lesson.

he hears.  he's got this.  and i can rest in his love, even when i don't see him.

Friday, November 2, 2012

tricky treats!

we had a little bit of hallowe'en fun with samjam the other night.  

nothing creepy - my parents raised me to have a healthy disrespect of the occult - but we enjoyed the costumes and neighbourhood friendliness :).

squalling pumpkin ;)

vava stayed home with me to pass out treats and meet the kids.  sam dressed up as a blue bear, and patrick & chrissy took him to our 2 favourite neighbours who spoiled him royally.  it was fun :).  


wouldn't you love to give this little bear a treat?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

dear patrick

good morning, darling.
i'm sitting here on the couch.  sam is napping, and so is vava.  i should be doing the dishes, or putting away the toys that have hurricaned our living room, or tossing laundry into the washer.
but you see, our snuggly little girl is curled up on my chest, and the sweet warm weight of her is irresistible.  i can not find the strength to leave this spot for something as prosaic as chores.
i know you're coming home early today.
when you get here, i'll let you be her couch, and i'll get something done.
until then, know that i'm sitting here loving our family with all the fireworky joy you can imagine.  and i'm so glad that God has chosen me to belong with all of you.



xo.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

pray?

friends who pray: will you say a little prayer for sheldon today?  there's nothing wrong, exactly - but there's just still so much distance and stiffness in our relationship.  and while i won't give up on trying to build a friendship and fill his stay with warmth, i feel at a loss as to how.  i'm not sure what else to do to show him we care.

thanks for praying.
xo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

should / be

my sister and i were talking about this the other day.

how should is a hard place.

not a grace-place.

there is no tenderness in should, no expansive arms of joy, no welcome.  should is a cold shoulder, a great gap of expectations and a yardstick to measure the falling short.

all too often i find myself living in that house.  and putting others in it too.
and the walls don't meet, and the rooms aren't comfortable, and the light glares magazine-glossy on all of our imperfections.  it is filled with the stench of disappointment and shame.

this is not the house God built.
this is not the house God built.

his name is not "you should" (or she should or we should or i should) but "I AM".

I AM is filled with grace.  it holds no expectations, no measuring-sticks that turn quickly into rods for beating the failed backs.  the rooms are large, and all are welcome.  come, they beckon.  be.

in my childhood church, there was a man who often prayed from psalm 31.  "thou hast set my feet in a large room," he would praise.  the heart-grabbing graciousness of that phrase gripped my heart.  a large room.  room for all.  room to grow.  expand.  room to be.  not a small room.  not a room of squirming, mincing steps, but a large room for whirling, dancing, joy in the sheer gladness of living.  a room with big spaces for big faith and big hopes.

not a critical room.  not a room with measuring sticks on walls and windows.  no.

a large room.  plenty of space to rest.  to just be.

God's name is I AM.  in him, there is enough.  there is more than enough.  all fullness.

this morning, three hours after her last nursing, vava woke me again.  i stumbled across the room, confused to find her in her crib - hadn't i just picked her up?  wasn't she still in my arms?  a glance at the clock and the room spun, exhaustion and nausea swimming up my veins.  again?  it was time to feed her again?

i snuggled her, crying, into patrick's arms while i set up my pillows.
and as i nursed, wakefulness flooded into me.  wakefulness for this moment.  eyes that had hung bleary over her opened, devouring words.  arms that had trembled, sleepy, grew strong.  i read psalm 31 and traveled from the small, cramped room of should to is, place of grace and love.

i don't feed my dear lovely girl because i should - but because i am.  i am her mama.  my heart flows with love for her, my bones ache with love for her.

like His grace.  for us.  through us.  to us.  from us.

God sets our feet in a large room.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

our birth story (a cautionary tale)

*disclaimer*

i talk about giving birth in this post.  not trying to be creepy or graphic, just processing the grand event the way i prefer most: through writing.  if the idea of reading this feels too personal, weird, or just not appealing, please feel free to skip this post.  i promise i won't mind.

also, if you're pregnant for the first time, maybe consider not reading this til after the baby comes.  
or let it be a cautionary tale.

a few weeks ago, i had contractions - well, what i thought were contractions.  they fooled me for a while, getting steadily stronger and closer together, but then they went away.  aha, i thought, braxton-hicks.

my hopes were up that the braxton-hicks were signs of vava's imminent arrival.  but they weren't.

at least, though, i knew what braxton-hicks were like, so chalked up one more pregnancy experience.

on thursday last week, i woke up in the wee hours of the morning with contractions.  painful ones.  ouch-a-rama.  not terribly painful, or terribly long, but painful enough that i couldn't talk through them.  and they increased fairly quickly.  patrick stayed home from work because i was definitely in labour.

the day passed slo-o-o-wly.  we packed our bags, got everything ready, and waited.

and waited.

went for a walk, and waited some more.  i really didn't want to be one of those first-time-moms who show up at the hospital and get sent home.  after nine months of waiting, i'd rather wait a few hours at home than suffer the frustration of being told Not Yet.

finally, at 730, they were getting close together.  4 minutes apart - ish.  sometimes i would go a few minutes longer.  it was confusing.  but definitely painful.  so we decided to go in.  we called the midwife, who said they sounded like braxton-hicks, but i should come in if i wanted an assessment.

i knew they weren't braxton-hicks, so in we went.

and while we were there, i only had three contractions - none of which my midwife saw, because she wasn't in the room.  apparently, vava was being shy.  i was SO frustrated.  and after my assessment she shook her head condescendingly and said i was experiencing braxton-hicks.  "and if you think these are painful, my dear, you should consider pain management options during labour instead of attempting a natural delivery," she added.

i was so mad.  SO MAD!

so we went home.  out through the waiting room and into the cold.

all night long, those same contractions continued.  they got more painful.  i started vomiting from the sheer pain of them.  then shivering.  i tried so hard to be quiet in the house full of sleeping people, but sometimes cried out.  patrick woke up and rubbed my back, hard.  it felt like my spine was going to explode.

i remembered advice from a friend about how to get through labour: pray.  and count.  and pray.

i did.

i remember at one point just asking God if i could curl up in his lap and die.

and at last, as it has the habit of doing, the sun rose and brought the dawn.  i threw up the last bit of fluid left in my body and told patrick we had to go to the hospital.  so he called the midwife.

she told us we should stay home for a few more hours.

two hours later, i wasn't really conscious of much.  just the pain, and breaths in between.  and then the pain again.  and then i realized i really really really had to push and i absolutely could not get in the car.

my mom told me she was going to call an ambulance if i didn't.  and she had scared eyes.

so i lurched into my boots and into the car and yelled half the way to the hospital.  patrick drove like a champ.

i leaned on him in the lobby while he phoned to have the doors unlocked.  we left our car in the drop-off zone.  mercifully, there was a wheelchair inside and in my tunnel of pain i managed to sit in it.

a smiling nurse met us.  "what number baby is this?" she asked.  "first."  "ah," she responded, "do you need to go to the bathroom?"  "always," i moaned.

i could hear patrick and a (different - darling!) midwife waiting outside the door.  and i was pushing.  i couldn't help it.

they wheeled me quickly back to an exam room, where my midwife assured me i woudn't pee on the bed, and coaxed me to get up.  her eyes popped, and she told me i was having a baby.

"i know," i said.  (things weren't really making sense.)

"i mean, very soon," she said. "like, right now."  and she hustled me out of my clothes and into a gown and wheeled me into the very same delivery room where sam was born.

i heard words like "fully dilated" and "in labour for more than 24 hours" and then there was a monitor and i could hear vava's heartbeat and it did not sound good.  it was choppy and slow and definitely not the zippy, happy heartbeat of prenatal visits.  more and more people began coming into the room.  i didn't really notice enough to care.  not much.  patrick's hand was on my shoulder and it was a strong anchor in the middle of the maelstrom.  then i was pushing again and they said "meconium in the canal" and "doctor" and "resp team" and more people were there and i couldn't stop shaking.

then there were three people trying to talk to me at once.  the nurse was telling me she was starting an iv line, and i would feel a little pinch.  (i wanted to assure her i didn't really care about that - all things considered.)  the (mean) midwife was telling me not to moan, just tuck my chin down and use all my energy to push.  and the (where did he come from so fast?) doctor was introducing himself and asking me my name.

(btw, the mean midwife kept calling me different names - even after being my primary midwife the whole pregnancy - i remember hearing her call me janine, jenille, and labelle - YES even labelle! - while i was at the hospital.  snicker.)

and then they told me there wasn't time for the usual stretching and slow pushing.  vava's heartrate was dropping too fast and she had to come out.  the nice midwife told me she would count to ten three times, and during each count i had to push with all my energy.  i could take one breath in between counts, and do it again.  a contraction hit, and she began to count.

and so i pushed.  really fast.  and really hard.

and suddenly vava was on my belly and there wasn't time for patrick to cut the cord (oh darling, i'm sorry!) and she stared at me big eyed and beautiful and was whisked off to the resp team who vacuumed her and made sure she lived (our lively stranger!  so full of life, yes, even with such a beginning).

the next half hour was a blur of stitching and shaking and hot blankets and breathing in gas.  and patrick's hand was always on my shoulder, so warm and strong.  for a few moments he left, to snuggle vava before she went to the nicu, and i missed him so.

and then the doctor was gone and the nurses were gone and the nice midwife was puttering around, and bringing me more blankets and assuring me vava was fine.

and patrick brought me apple juice with ice and a bendy straw, and it felt like the most nourishing and delicious drink in the world.

and just when i was starting to doubt the midwife, and starting to wonder if patrick should go to the nicu to check, a nurse came in.

carrying vava.

and oh, she was fine!  more than fine.  perfect, adorable, irresistible.

we cuddled her for blissful hours, and then had the magic of introducing her to sam and my mom.  and we've been snuggling ever since.

vivian varvara - still lively, less a stranger ;).


{if you read this as a cautionary tale, let the moral be noted: when in labour, listen to your body, not your midwife.  amen and amen.}

Vava's Birth

editor's note: birth details included.  read at your own risk.

This is the story of our daughter Vava's birth from my (the father's) perspective. Just in case you were wondering what it was like for me.


I was awakened at five o'clock on Thursday morning by Janelle having her first contractions. "I'm in labour," she said. "You have to call work and tell them you can't go."

"It's too early," I told her, and went back to sleep.

My alarm rang almost an hour later and I woke, checked to see that Janelle was still having contractions, turned off the alarm, and went back to sleep.

At seven forty five I called work, told them Janelle was in labour and that I wouldn't be going to work today, and again, went back to sleep.

By this time, Janelle was having contractions every five to ten minutes. And I was in favour of them continuing because it meant a day off work for me.

A little later on we got out of bed, we got Sam up, and Janelle's mom, and we spent the day doing regular stuff, timing Janelle's contractions and trying to contact our friends to tell them that at any minute, we might have to rush to the hospital, and could they please watch Sam for us?

So, I'm no sure this exists or not, but the midwives to us to come to the hospital when the contractions get to be about four minutes apart and last for one minute over an hour, approximately. So that's what I was looking for. Every time Janelle had a contraction, I timed it with the stopwatch and recorded the duration and time on a piece of paper I kept with me.

The contractions lasted from thirty seconds to three minutes, they came three, four, eight, eleven, twenty minutes apart. Never becoming regular or predictable. By lunch time I was beginning to think I should just go to work.

The afternoon progressed, we went for a walk, pushing Sam in the stroller. We walked around the block, came back home. We had supper. By this time, Janelle was becoming quite sore.

After supper we decided to call the midwife. I told her how the contractions were going and that Janelle was in some pain and she said something like, "It's probably nothing, but if it'll make you feel better, come to the hospital and I'll do an assessment."

So Janelle's mom dropped us off at the hospital, we went into labour and delivery with all the prepacked bags and sat down in the waiting room and waited. There was nobody at the reception desk, just a phone. But I was expecting the midwife to come in and meet us in the waiting room. Eventually I got the bright idea to look around, and sure enough there was a sign on the phone that said to call a number to get inside. So I called and told the nurse who answered that we were supposed to meet our midwife here and the nurse said, "Oh, yeah, she's here, come on in." And the doors swung open.

So we went inside, hauling all our bags, and were shown to an assessment room. I tucked the bags under a table and sat down and Janelle lay down on the bed.

The midwife came shortly after and connected Janelle and the baby to a heartrate monitor. And then she examined Janelle.

And then she pretty much said, "Yeah, just like I thought, it's nothing, you're only two centimeters dilated. It's probably just false labour. Don't worry, it happens often to first time mothers. Go home, have a hot bath, drink some tea and have a good sleep."

So we got our bags together and left the hospital.

Janelle was furious. I was confused.

Janelle was too furious to call her mom to come pick us up right away, so we started walking.

Anyways, we eventually got home. We watched a TV show, and then went to bed. Oh yeah, and the contractions stopped.

It was around midnight when the contractions came back... with a vengeance. They'd been painful before, now they were excruciating. Every five to ten minutes, Janelle would wake me up and I'd rub her back or press on her back.

She vomited a few times during the night.

I started timing the contractions sometime in the early morning. Again, looking for what the midwife said would indicate "real" labour: strong contractions lasting about one minute, four minutes apart. These contractions were lasting between fifty seconds and three minutes and coming irregularly at three, eight, five, ten, four, six minutes apart. Just, you know, whatever.

Between contractions I dreamed that my Aunt Doris had a complete mental breakdown and ran away and the police were looking for her. And then I dreamed that I got attacked by a moose while holding Sam and the last thing I thought before the moose charged was: "How am I going to explain to everyone how Sam got killed by a moose?"

So, at seven o'clock, when Janelle said I should call the midwife, I was a bit hesitant. What do I tell her? She's just going to think we're over anxious. I procrastinated for about half an hour.

So about seven thirty I called the midwife and told her what was going on and she asked to talk to Janelle. Janelle came down the stairs to the phone and the midwife told her to wait and see if the contractions became regular. Oh yeah, and she said to take some tylenol or gravol.

Janelle asked for tylenol, but I brought her some extra strength ibuprofen. She protested, "What if it's bad for the baby?" I made her take it anyway.

The contractions continued the same as they had been. Janelle vomited a few more times. And she had to pee all the time.

At around nine o'clock Janelle told me to call the midwife again. I was still hesitant but this time I didn't procrastinate. This time I got a different midwife. I told Midwife #2 what was happening with Janelle's contractions and she said that irregular contractions lasting a long time sounds like false labour. So I said, "Janelle's in an awful lot of pain." So she asked to talk to Janelle.

I brought the phone up to Janelle in the washroom and then after talking to the midwife, Janelle told me that we'd go to the hospital as soon as she finished on the toilet.

And then she had another contraction and suddenly, she couldn't get up off the toilet anymore and she had the urge to push!

I tried to bully Janelle into getting into the car, but it didn't work until her mom joined me and we both bullied her into the car.

I got the bags and everything into the car and we drove to the hospital as fast as I could. At the door, Janelle got into a wheel chair and I pushed her up to labour and delivery.

We went straight to the phone and I called in, Janelle was moaning behind me and I said, "Hi my wife is in labour, can we come in?"

I guess the nurse heard Janelle's moaning because the doors swung right open and she came running up and asked, "What's going on here?"

And then Midwife #2 came and got us into an assessment room and then Janelle had to go to the washroom again, so I wheeled her up the hall and she went into the washroom and locked the door and I let the nurse take the wheelchair back to the entrance. And I stood outside the washroom door and waited.

Midwife #2 came from getting the assessment room ready (I guess) and stood across from me and asked for some details and I filled her in as much as I could and then we both heard Janelle say, "I feel like I need to push!"

Midwife #2 went right for the door but it was locked, "Can you get it open?" she asked.

"Just wait, I'll try."

So while Janelle tried to unlock the door, the midwife took off and came back a second later, pulling on a pair of gloves. And then she stood outside the door, her shoulders squared, her feet apart, ready to spring into action.

I think that's when I fell in love :)  (Just a platonic crush. C'mon.)

Janelle managed to get the door unlocked after what felt like forever, and Midwife #2 sprang in. I tried to help, but she just told me to get out of the way and go wait in the room. So I did.

And then Midwife #2 helped Janelle into the room and down on the bed and checked her out. And Janelle kept saying that she had to pee and couldn't hold it in and that she was going to pee on the bed.

"You're not going to pee," Midwife #2 said. "The baby's head is like, right here, and that's why you feel like you're going to pee. You're going to have this baby, like, right now."

I can't remember how, but the nurse and the Midwife and I got Janelle into a labour room and Midwife #2 started coaching her about pushing and breathing. And then Midwife #1 showed up and the two of them worked on Janelle.

And then I heard Midwife #2 whisper to the nurse, "There's mec in the birth canal."

And all of a sudden people started falling out of the cracks in the walls and the ceiling. A doctor showed up, another nurse, four respiratory technicians. There was like, twelve people in that room all at once. And the baby's heart rate dropped.

The doctor took over from the midwives, and started pulling on the baby's head with a thing he called a vacuum.

I was really worried. I thought the baby was going to die and that they weren't telling us. I almost couldn't keep from crying from worry. So I just patted Janelle's shoulder and told her she was doing awesome. And I sniveled a little bit. And then I was in the way of the nurse, who was connecting an IV, so I had to back off.

And Janelle pushed and pushed and waited and pushed...

It felt like hours. But then the baby popped out and slid into the Doctor's hands, all red and yellow and slimy and mewling. They clamped and cut the umbilical cord in half a second and passed the baby to the respiratory technicians who immediately started poking and pinching her and rubbing her with a hot towel. I stayed by Janelle's shoulder for a bit and then they told me I could go see my baby so I went over to where they were pinching and poking and rubbing her and I put my hands on her face and rubbed her and they told me that they were trying to keep her crying to clear the shiznit she had inhaled out of her lungs. And then they wrapped her up and took her to the ICU.

Apparently, at this time it was only half an hour after we'd arrived at the hospital but it felt like much, much later.

And then they didn't bring the baby back from ICU until that afternoon! And I was just aching to hold her all that time.

Anyways... that's about it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


“Every experience God gives us, every person he brings into our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.”
-Corrie ten Boom

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

happy unbirthday

turns out, i didn't get a baby for my thirtieth birthday.  and while i'm going crazy with waiting, i'm kind of glad.

i've been so focused on meeting her, on holding her, on getting her, that i forgot something.

it's not about me getting a daughter. (and oh, she will be so much more than my daughter.  and i can't wait to see who she is and what she does.  all the silly and funny and wonderful and hard decisions she will make. and all those seeds of glory are planted in her already.)

it's about her.  it's about her new and bursting life.  it's about God bringing a new person into the world.   it's her beginning.

it's not my event at all.

and if she needs a few more days of snuggling in blissful contractiony warmth before she's ready to take on the world - i'm on it.


birthday present

i got a really nice birthday present this morning :)

the past 2 nights i've been up with contractions, which never seem to make it past the morning.  they just come at night to keep me company in bed, i guess.  and last night they were so close together - 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in duration - i almost called my midwife, but they stopped.

gah.

so when patrick woke up for work this morning, i was cranky, exhausted, and had a killer headache ... and a big sad contractionless heart.  i did NOT want to get up with sam and be cheerful-morning mom.  i wanted to stay in bed and pretend everything would work well without me.  (haha he's 18 months.  who was i kidding?)

instead of getting up and preparing his breakfast, i just laid in bed and cried a little, and fell asleep.  i knew i'd wake up when he squawked ... 

and i did!  two hours later!  that's right - my amazing little gem slept an extra two hours, just when i needed it.

thank you, God.
i love you too.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Currently ...

Copying: Katie's post :D


Reading: gobs of pregnancy blogs.  This one has a neat perspective.

Watching: The Berenstain Bears: The Bears Get a Babysitter  (Well, actually, I'm watching Sam, and he's watching TBB.  My life is awesome.)

Listening: to the soothing sounds of an airplane droning overhead.  (We live in a flight path.  I almost don't hear them anymore.)

Drinking: an amazing combination!  Cranberry gingerale and apple juice over ice, with three sugared cranberries on top just for some sparkly fun.  With a matching straw, to keep things girly.

Dreaming: about Vava's arrival!  Soon, I hope!  Maybe she'll come on Grampie's birthday - Sunday?  Fingers crossed it won't be longer.

Thinking: that I should tie up the loose cardboard in the basement for recycling day next week.  But blogging is more fun, not gonna lie.

Planning: a date night tonight with Patrick!  Thanks Chrissy :).

Feeling: Vava's fierce little toes digging themselves a spot between my ribs.  Dear Darling, you already live in my heart - let's keep it metaphorical, yes?  

Wishing: my sisters were close by, especially as my due date draws closer!  Is there anything more magical than introducing your baby to the people you love most in all the world?

Creating: a gigantic grocery list.  Our romantic date night will probably involve some Samless shopping haha.

Hoping: to see my baby's face in the next few days!  She hid her face ever since week 12 - in spite of all the ridiculous ultrasounds I had, I have no clue what she looks like - and oh, I'm longing to see her!

Smelling: popcorn ... yes, I think a pregnant woman lives in my house.  And she may or may not have had popcorn for lunch.  

Missing: being out & about - Sam has been quarantined for 12 days!  Just 2 more and we're free.

Going: outside to play on the deck with the Jam.  Perhaps it's time for some chalk and basketball.

Discussing: this cool experiment.  What do you think of it?  Should I be scared?

How about you? What are you currently up to?  Paste your blog in the comments so I can read your 'Currently' too!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

sheldon part 2

the first week with sheldon was a little rough - he ignored his curfew (set by the boarding program, not us), and we had a few unpleasant moments.  after the first week, i found myself knocking at God's door, asking Him what was up.

He kindly reminded me that His plan was still His plan, and my job was still to obey Him.

and that really made all the difference, you know?  it took away any thought of giving up.  it took away any worries that i can't do this (i know i can't!  but God can.).  it took away the temptation to do a half-hearted job.  because we're not providing a boarding home for Sheldon.  we're obeying God.  and we will persist in that - keep on and be faithful, regardless, like the sons of zadok.

since that first rough week, things have gotten a lot better.  patrick sat down and had a little talk with him - a nice talk, a gentle one, but he made it clear that we care for sheldon and are responsible for his safety, and need his cooperation in obeying curfew and communicating with us.  after that, sheldon never missed curfew.

and then there was a little incident that i just know God engineered.
sheldon has hockey practice wednesday nights.  at suppertime, he came in the door to eat and then remembered he had left his stick at school.  so patrick hopped up from the table and drove him to school.  his hockey stick was gone.  stolen.

so patrick took him to the store and bought him a new stick.  and after that, he started to open up.  he thanked patrick, and talked with him in the car.  he chatted with me on the way to hockey practice, telling me about his favorite sports and what he'd like to do in the future.  he asked about sam's heritage.

then, last weekend, he brought his girlfriend over and they hung out in our living room.  (she's sweet!)  it's not huge steps, but little by little i know he's getting more comfortable with us.  and that makes me so glad!

his mom was in town for the past few days, and he spent them with her.  he's back with us this evening, and i'm so glad to see him.  honestly, i enjoyed the just-us-ness (and it was nice to laze around in my pjs half the morning instead of getting dressed), but i was surprised to find myself missing him and wondering how he was doing.

welcome home, sheldon :).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

hugged

you know how some mornings you wake up and it's like God is determined to give you a hug?

last night i was feeling sickish.  cold and fevery at the same time - you know, just that yucky feeling that often accompanies the onset of the flu.  i spent most of the evening curled up under a comforter on the couch in my brother's old hoodie, snuggling my feet into the warmest socks i own and surfing pregnancy blogs.

i finally felt warm at bedtime, and crawled into bed for a blissful sleep.  it's getting increasingly difficult to find a comfy position, thanks to this watermelon huge baby who is displacing all my organs and shoving herself simultaneously into my lungs and bladder.

i digress.

patrick's shoulder is a pretty great pillow, and he shares it freely.  so i was able to fall asleep and had a good night.  yay!

i woke up early with patrick and made his lunch, then snuggled back into bed to catch some more zzzs until sam should wake ... and sam slept in til 930!  it felt like the biggest gift in the world - so much sleep, and so much comfortable sleep at this stage in the game is a miracle.

coming downstairs, i found the mail in the hall - and there was a beautiful note from a dear friend.  it made my heart glow.

so, happy and rested, i fed sam his breakfast and then received a text from a friend who was wondering if she could watch sam on friday so patrick & i could have a date!  2 date nights in as many weeks?  yes please!

and then, just when my belly was full and happy with my own breakfast, the doorbell rang.  more good things?  or someone creepy?  i should have known ...

it was the postman, with a box of tea and love from patrick's cousin danielle (who, may i mention, has a hilarious 3 year old and a new baby and still took the time to write a tear-jerker of a letter and send me some incredible tea).

i think God is trying to give me a hug today.  i'll take it :D.

Monday, September 24, 2012

stop and smell the flowers

sam loves to smell flowers.  he always takes a biiiig sniff and then grins and says AAAHHHH with gusto.

today i took him for a walk, and he wasn't interested in smelling flowers at all.  got really cranky every time i stopped to point them out.  i guess it's because he was tired, since he fell asleep before we made it home, and then slept for almost 3 hours.

this afternoon we made playdough.  he pointed to the bowl and asked, 'is it?'

'flour,' i told him, distracted while measuring salt.

he grabbed a huge handful and sniffed joyously.

hehe.

he did not say ahhh.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vava: Pourquoi?

Because it's a new-to-your-ears sort of name, a lot of people ask us why we plan to name our daughter Vava.

I'll take you back to our teensy first apartment, where we lived in joyful empty-walletness, completely surrounded by love.  We hadn't been married very long, and already started thinking tentatively about kids.  We were in our 3rd year of university, working part time, and only occasionally making ends meet ... well, mostly just letting them wave at each other now and then.

We knew it wouldn't be a wise time to bring children into our world, and I think that was harder on Patrick's heart than mine.  I was okay with the wait.  The thought of bringing a baby home to our furniture-less place wasn't terribly appealing.  School first, then a baby, we decided.

Then one day I was reading a book, and the main character described what it was like to be a Mom.  I was filled with longing, and I knew I wanted kids - I wanted them as soon as we could have them.  I pounced on a napping Patrick and told him I wanted to start growing our family.  Not just sometime, not just later, but now, even if it meant we lived off pasta and peanut butter the rest of our lives.

Giddy with excitement, we headed downtown to walk and talk and sort out just what we might do.  We held hands and smiled at each other in the brilliant sunshine, and even the homeless people seemed beautiful and right.

We wandered into a bookstore near the neighbourhood where Patrick proposed, and found ourselves in the kids book section.  A gorgeously illustrated book caught our eye.  It was titled 'Je Suis Fou de Vava' (I Am Crazy for Vava).  It was the story of a little boy who was madly in love with a little girl, who wore a yellow dress and yellow ribbons in her hair.  It was so sweet, and we could hardly bear to leave it behind.  We both fell in love with the name, and decided if we ever were blessed with a daughter, we would name her Vava.

So, that's how Vava came to have her name.
And it's quite true ... we're crazy for Vava.

(Her birth certificate will call her Vivian Varvara - Vivian because it's my Grammy's name, and Varvara because together they shorten so deliciously into Vava.  And the 'var's in Varvara rhyme with car, not care.  And yes - after we found out this was a girl - we bought the book.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

loved.

feeling so loved this weekend!  in a million little ways, and in some big ways, friends and family have been showing me they love me.  want to take a minute to be grateful.

-last friday, some friends joined me for lunch and a sunday-school-planning-session.  it was happy and productive and when they left, my kitchen was clean and three gorgeous gerbera daisies graced my countertop.  loved.

-friday night, patrick's mom pulled up, walking in with gift bags and homemade pie.  she had driven more than 600kms to watch sam for us on saturday so that we could paint the kids' room in one day without him being underfoot.  so, after a huge drive on friday, she took the entire saturday and ran around after the busiest little monkey known to man.  brought home presents for our kitchen, our bathroom.  then she cleaned the house while patrick and i went out.  loved.

-saturday.  painted the nursery with the nicest man on the planet who did all the cutting so i could just roll.  listened to the radio, to sermons online, to music.  even stole a few kisses now and then.  loved.

-saturday, afternoon.  community unity picnic - free hotdogs & fruit, and balloons and sippy cup for samjam.  loved.

-saturday, supper.  dinner club with happy, kind, laughing, dear friends - and the meal?  oh drool.  chicken cordon bleu, garlic potatoes, creamy caesar salad, steamed veggies, and ice cream coffee cake.  none of which i had to make.  served up with warmth and hospitality.  loved?  so loved.

- saturday, night.  last bible study in an 11-week session with a dozen of the nicest ladies on earth.  they brought treats, hugs, and honesty.  and again, left my kitchen gleaming.  loved.

-sunday.  came home from church with our backseat filled with gifts from friends - things we just thought you might need ... just thought you could use.  loved.

-sunday, afternoon.  patrick did laundry and grabbed groceries i'd forgotten to get.  loved.

-sunday, night.  patrick's cousin joined us for supper and made our home happier with her presence.  loved.

-monday, early.  mama c stayed an extra hour to watch sam so i could go to my midwife appointment. tucked him in for a nap and folded laundry.  loved!

turned out, i had the time wrong and needed a sitter for the afternoon.  (usually i take sam, but he had a fever and i didn't want to infect other new mamas and teeny babies.)  so:

-monday, afternoon.  chrissy's day off.  she came over and watched sam for me so i could make it to my appointment. loved.

-monday, afternoon.  nana called, just to tell me how things are, that she loved me, is praying for me, and to ask about the baby.  loved.

loved, loved, loved. 
i feel like a brand-new baby, wrapped up and swaddled in it.  

love.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

the sons of zadok

the sons of zadok.

before today, if you'd asked me who the sons of zadok were, i'd probably have made a guess that they were an angry german band.

but ... they're not!  and they're awesome.  they showed me something so cool today.

in ezekiel 44, God gives ezekiel a vision of the temple - how it should be.  the israelites had turned away from God and were worshiping idols and false gods.  even the priest-family, the levites, had taken up this practice, and made offerings to the gods of child sacrifice and prostitution and others.

all except the sons of zadok.

so in God's revelation of the temple-to-be, he honoured the sons of zadok with the best priestly role ... they were the only ones allowed close to him. 

and he told ezekiel what their payment would be.  'this shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance; and you shall give them no possession in israel: I am their possession.' (44:28).

which could seem like a lacklustre reward to someone who doesn't know Him.  (really?  no house?  no gold?  no lands?  no prestige? don't they deserve more?  they were the only faithful ones!)

but ...

they got to be in God's presence.  what's that like?

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
(psalm 16:11)

life.  joy.  pleasure.  none of the ugliness and stress that comes from maintaining land, hoarding gold, living up to a certain level of prestige.  no struggling with the temptation to worship oneself or put me first ...

dwelling in God's presence is as close as we get to eden - where his presence walked with adam and eve.  his presence makes his enemies fall, but graces his followers with strength and joy.  his presence is our delight, our daily hope and most ardent longing.

oh sons of zadok, you blessed servants.  you knew the value of remaining faithful, and the reward that waits!

Friday, September 14, 2012

you never let go

one of my fave bloggers (rebekah, at heart cries) posted on fb tonight about her little guy singing 'you never let go' by david crowder.

popped on for a listen, and it was just what i needed.

because i know it's trite, but it's no less comforting:

God never said it would be easy, but He did say He'd be with me.

and if one of His beauties is that He never lets me go, that's one of the characteristics He wants to develop in me too.  the strength to hold on when the easy way out is letting go?  that's only developed by holding on.  holding tight.  repeatedly.  

and the strength, the peace, i need for tonight?  here.  right on time. 

thanks for praying, friend.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

36 weeks

there are officially four weeks left!  can't wait to snuggle my lively stranger.  
 mmhmmm.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

one month!

today is exactly one month until vava's due date!

the first part of my third trimester was so tiring.  maybe it was a little bit of the post-july letdown - saying goodbye to my nieces, sister, & dad was really hard.  i just wanted to sit on the couch and keep this big belly out of my way.  whatever it was, i was sucked into a vacuum of boredom and choredom that left me feeling lazy and tired at the same time.

the past 2 weeks, though, have been full and good.  i'm feeling energetic and excited and while i still find myself needing a nap and a second coffee to get to the end of the day, i'm enjoying my days a lot more.  and, i'm sure, so is sam!

today we had a dancing breakfast and walked to the mall and had friends over in the afternoon and even cleaned up and prepared supper.  i feel like playing outside, and the idea of going to the park doesn't feel like the world's biggest sludge-fest - instead, it's a nice way to enjoy the happy autumn weather :).

maybe i'm just getting ridiculously excited to meet miss vava.  she's been entertaining us all with her huge belly-shifting kicks - i love to lie on the couch and balance a cup or bowl on my belly, and watch her make it dance.  and every day takes us one day closer to her arrival.

my sweet neighbour thinks that vava won't make it to october.  she thinks she could come as early as next monday, but might hang on for another week after that.  i've got to say, i wouldn't complain if she came early!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

fat sheep and the laws of abundance

i couldn't help but see my culture in ezekiel 34 this morning.   especially verses 11-24.  when he sees that the shepherds aren't taking good care of the sheep, God blesses his sheep and brings them to prosperous places. but then ...

'is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?  and must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet? ... I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep ... you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns ...'

i felt really ashamed when i read this.  that's what we're like in the west, isn't it - it's not enough that we are prosperous and blessed ourselves - we also prevent others from enjoying the resources we've been given, we hold back and shut others out.  it's like we think the blessings are our own (as if sheep can own fields and rivers) and once we've taken our fill, we'd rather muddy the water and trample the grass than let others come and be filled. 

but they're not ours to own or hoard.  they're ours for eating and drinking.  for everyone's eating and drinking.

and then God (he's gentle, isn't he?) opened my eyes more, and helped me to see that it's not just my society that does this, and it doesn't just happen on a global scale.

i do this, on a personal scale.

all the blessings he gives me are for me to enjoy.  rivers to drink, more than enough to eat, pastures to run and grow and live in, and safety at the hands of the very Best Shepherd.  but sometimes i worry that there won't be enough.  especially when the Shepherd brings more sheep and says "share!"

but i might not have enough if i share, i think fearfully, these provisions might run out.

i can hear the Shepherd laughing. 

he does not operate on a capitalist system, and value is not driven by scarcity.  no, his is the law of abundance, gorgeously worded in luke 6:38 - 'give, and it will be given to you. good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.'

God's rivers flow wider when more mouths come to drink, and the food springs up to fill the mouths opened for it.  instead of heaving others away with my well-filled belly, i need to enjoy what he gives me and rejoice that there is always more than enough to share.

more than enough in God's beautiful jumbled upside down economics.

give, and it will be given to you. good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. for with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

Monday, September 10, 2012

sheldon.

i want to blog about our student, but not infringe on his privacy.  so i'm going to call him sheldon.  he's a shy guy, and when i googled names of shy people, sheldon came up in the top 25.  (another contender? norbert!  almost picked that one haha.)

so.

things are still new and awkward and we're getting to know each other slowly.  if you know me, i'm sure you can imagine me standing like an eager puppy with my tongue hanging out, wagging my whole self and wanting to jump all over him with a million questions.  um, metaphorically.

but he's shy.  and i don't want to freak him out - just befriend him.  patrick's better at that kind of friendliness than i am, and i'm trying to learn from him - i'm so glad to be married to a chill kind of guy!

sheldon is super quiet.  he doesn't say anything unless it's in response to a question, and he likes to be independent.  he's tall and skinny, sporty, and polite.  he always thanks me for every meal, and twice has even said "it was good" - which i take as a big step, because he's not one to volunteer conversation.  :)

and the cutest thing happened on saturday.  we sat down for lunch, our first meal together, and before we ate we paused to thank God for the food.  i took sam's hand, and he reached out his other hand to sheldon.  sheldon looked at me, and i said 'he wants to hold your hand while we pray.  go ahead if you want to.'  and he did!  and sam was so pleased.

and at lunchtime on sunday, sheldon reached out and held sam's hand - and then put out his hand to hold patrick's! 

my heart glowed.  that little action just meant so much. 

:) 

small steps, sheldon.  we'll get there.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

we have a teenager!

a few weeks ago, the radio interviewed a member of the nnec (northern native education council), who was asking for families to host high school students for the school year. they were short on housing for 30 kids.

i was at home listening to the radio, and felt God tapping me on the shoulder. my first response was 'no way! we have a new baby on the way, and only 3 bedrooms! that's crazy.'  i didn't really entertain the idea seriously because - well, seriously!  we've got a baby on the way! but when they played an excerpt later, again i felt like God wanted us to volunteer to host. 

but because i'm stubborn and it's kind of scary, i decided to give God an opportunity to reallllly make it clear (haha aren't i nice?). so i told Him that if He wanted us to do it, patrick would have to bring it up, and i wouldn't worry about it until then.

of course, patrick came home from work for lunch that day (this happens maybe 2x a month?) and so it was probably an hour after i had made my request to (or deal with?) God that patrick goes, 'so, the nnec is looking for host families for students. i wish we were able to host one.'

and i knew we could do it, because God wanted us to. so i told patrick about my conversation with God, and he just grinned at me.  so we applied.  we moved sam to the bigger room so he and vava could share, then cleaned out his old room, and painted, and bought a desk and lamp and bedding ... and now we've got a student living with us for the school year!

whew :).

it's not how we imagined our year to go - but we're pretty confident that it's how God wants it to go.  so we'll get a little experience in substitute parenting a teenager, and hopefully share a little love with a lonely kid who's far from home.

 some questions i had, and some answers from God:

me: we're a family of 4, and only have 3 bedrooms, and you want us to give one up for the year?
God: whose bedrooms are these anyway?  and whose house? 
me: oh.  right.  Yours.  always.  (because anything we have - it's all from His hand, isn't it?  plus, earlier that week i had been reading about the wise men who offered their treasures to the baby King, and i thought about my treasures - my family, my house, my happy life - and offered them to Him.  so they are doubly His.)

me: could we be putting sam & vava in danger, by having a stranger in our house?
God: I am your safety.  they are safer in My Hands than behind locked doors.  and if you say no to Me, you're putting them in danger - the danger of having parents who are afraid of man instead of fearing Me.  trust Me.  and consider this - i want this student in your home for his safety.

me: patrick and i aren't exactly wise or experienced enough to substitute-parent a teenager.
God (laughing): no, but I am.  and this is all on Me.

so.
God has brought us a student, and we are excited for the awkward newness to wear off and the fun to begin.
pray for us?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

eighteen

a list of sam at 18 months

darling sam, i have front row seats in the you-show, and have been cheering gleefully for you since the beautiful, wide-eyed, heart-popping day of your birth.  you have grown and changed and become so much in that short time.  on that first day, that blissful evening when you came silent into the world with your curious eyes open and looking at everything, you were already planted deep in my heart.  in the past 18 months, your roots have burrowed deeper inside of me, and your limbs and curls have grown and grow daily - hourly.  sometimes i forget, in the up-close-ness of our days together, how astonishing you are and what incredible things you have learned.

you:
  • sleep like a champ.  12+ hours every night, and usually 3 hours of napping during the day (and oh, how you earn every single minute of it!).
  • love to eat oatmeal pureed with strawberries and peanut butter for breakfast.
  • are best friends with a stuffed monkey from your auntie sophie.  you can't sleep without him in your arms.
  • love to pretend that any toy is a truck, and every truck is crashing.  brrrm crash!
  • run ridiculously fast, usually looking back at me over your shoulder and laughing.
  • are utterly terrified of fighter planes.  one flew over you one day when i wasn't close, and you dissolved into a puddle of terror.  it took 20 minutes of cuddles and singing for you to stop shaking.
  • say sorry when you know you have done something wrong.  (usually you say sorry by giving a hug, but sometimes you use words)
  • have the most beautiful autumn-coloured eyes that are always full of light and laughter.
  • love kids.  i adore watching you meet new friends - you run towards them with your arms open, generous with hugs and giggles and drool.
  • are an amazing little athlete!  you can throw and catch, climb and run, and you rarely lose your balance.  you have more skills than i thought possible.
  • rock out whenever you hear music.
  • take off your socks in the crib.  you'll leave them on the rest of the time, but once you're in your crib, off they come.  :)
  • have the world's biggest collection of facial expressions, and you adore playing peekaboo, especially when we make faces.
  • love to stop and smell flowers.  you take a big sniff and say ahhhh!
  • are a big fan of the backyardigans and phineas&ferb.  i think it's all the music ;).
  • say 'let go!' a lot - but i think you mean 'i want to hold this,' because you often say it when you're pointing at something that nobody is holding.
  • are such a little helper!  you love to help me vacuum, put things in the garbage can, and sweep.  
  • adore your papa, and have started calling him pa lately!  watching you two together melts my heart into a big gooey puddle.
that's a little bit of you at 18 months, samjam.   you are precious, hilarious, and wonderful.  i am so grateful that God brought you into this world and into our family. xo

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

safety and fear and God

recently, a friend and i were talking about safety.  she told me how, on her first night in her new house, she was so nervous about robbers.  she checked and rechecked her doors and windows - all locked.  she prayed, thinking of the verse 'i will both lay me down and sleep in peace, for thou alone, o Lord, makest me to dwell in safety.' (psalm 4:8, probably slightly misquoted, it's been a while ;) and she slept like a baby.

going out in the morning, she found her set of keys in the lock of the door.  all her locking and double-checking had been for nothing ... if anyone had wanted to come in, they wouldn't have had the slightest difficulty, for her keys were right there for the taking! 

such a great picture of how God alone keeps us safe.  we tend to trust in keys and locks (maybe because we can see them?), but the psalmist was right.  our safety doesn't rest in anything or anyone but God.

when i went to zambia, some people were terrified for me.  i was 21, traveling alone, to a place where i didn't know a soul, and i had committed to being there for a year.  there were all sorts of unknowns, creepy crawlies, and of course, my biggest fear: snakes. 

i don't blame them for being scared.  i had been, too - until God reminded me that He wanted me to go, so if i went, i could leave the worrying up to Him.  did i really mean it when i sang 'i surrender all'?  if so, i had to surrender all - that meant my fears too.

i was reminded of His care last week.  a friend of mine shared an article on fb that was written by a man traveling in syria (i'm sorry for my bad memory - i don't recall if he was a journalist, a soldier, an aid worker, or what).  he laughed at the idea of choosing a safe life over an adventurous life.  essentially, he was saying that choosing safety in order to preserve your life isn't really living - it's just hiding.

i couldn't agree more.

and i read a story yesterday that really brought this idea back to mind - i guess God is trying to make sure i really believe Him!  - in jeremiah 42.  the people asked jeremiah the prophet to find out from God if they should run to egypt or sit tight where they were.  egypt seemed really safe - strong and able to defend itself against the babylonians who had just decimated israel.  but God said if they stayed, He would protect them, be with them, and have mercy on them; and they should not fear the king of the babylonians.  if they left, though, they would meet exactly what they were fleeing from - the sword, famine, and pestilence. 

fear won, though, and they scorned God's protective presence and fled to egypt.

agh.  i think this story really frustrates me because i see myself in them.  i see myself being afraid to trust God, afraid that He really means what He says. 

no.  i refuse to live a life of hiding.  i don't want to spend my life running scared, trying to create safety by manipulating my circumstances. 

i trust in God, and He alone keeps me safe.  in zambia, in canada, then, and now, and always ... He is with me, to save me and deliver me. 

bring on the adventurous life; hiding is for sissies!

Monday, August 27, 2012

spinach & sausage soup

tonight was leftover night ... and mmmm it was a good one.

i tossed the following into the soup pot:

sliced sausages
brown rice pasta with homemade creamy havarti sauce
diced celery
garlic
a few extra pieces of havarti
chicken broth
pureed spinach
and a few twists of herbs provencal.

it simmered all together for about half an hour while we puttered around upstairs.  the aroma brought us down, and it did not disappoint.  this soup was ridiculously delicious.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

a grocery store story

tonight i was grabbing a few groceries in superstore, and i totally stopped in front of the ice cream cooler, unable to look away.  no, it wasn't the double churned breyers that snagged my eye, or the $3 markdown.

there was a little drama unfolding that broke my heart.

there was a mom, a grown-up daughter, and (i think) the daughter's husband.

the mom was huge-eyed at the ice cream.  'look at the price!' she pointed.

the son-in-law rolled his eyes and walked away.  the daughter stepped away from her mom, but didn't quite leave.  the mom looked up at her, excitement fading.

'why don't you pick out the one you want,' the daughter said, a slight chill in her voice.  'i'm going to get the margarine.'

and i just felt like i'd read a short story, where the whole awkward relationship was distilled in a few revealing seconds.

i could just see the backstory - the mom, coming from out of town for a visit with her big-city daughter, not sure of her place and a little insecure.  (at my last glance, she was tugging uncomfortably at her shirt - something didn't fit right.) the new husband enduring a visit from that most-dreaded species.  the awkward silences.  the uncomfortable meals.  the daughter, seeing her mom through the critical new eyes she married. 

ow.  it made my heart hurt.

i'm probably imagining it all, i know i'm chock-full of pregnancy hormones and have an overdeveloped scenario complex as it is.

but it made me really glad for the awesome relationship between patrick and my mom.  i saw the scene unfold with three new players - patrick, me, and my awesome mom.  and it went so differently.

'ooh look at the price!' mom would say.  and patrick would find out what kind she liked, and grab it.  and then at the cash, mom would try to grab it back and pay for it.  patrick would stubbornly refuse.   and eventually one of them would win.

and me? i would really win, because i am the luckiest girl in the world.  i have the best husband, and the best mom, and they love each other.  (Thank you, God!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

whew

i went for my ultrasound today.  with a different (SO different!) tech, in a different clinic.  and after half an hour of patient flipping, gentle prodding, and trying hard to relax, we finally got a picture of the vava girl's heart! 

in spite of her bum-up waggliness, he also managed to get a fuzzy picture of her profile.  i might be wrong, but i think she has a mccracken nose :).

oh vava, i can't wait to meet you in person!  and i will give you so many sweet soft hugs, you won't even remember the violent ultrasound poundings.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

goodbye bad tech!

i asked my midwife if i could be sent to another ultrasound clinic, and told her about the bruising.  she was furious with the tech, and knew who he was before i described him.  turns out, she's filed complaints about him before.  we're filing another one.

i love her.

so i don't have to see him again.  i'm so relieved!  and i'll have a nice calm appointment on friday at a different clinic altogether. 

here's hoping vava isn't afraid of this one, and turns over to say hello :).


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

a father's day sermon, by patrick

patrick wrote - and shared - the following thoughts on father's day this year.  as vava's arrival draws closer, his thoughts on fatherhood are especially dear to me. 

enjoy! :)

I want to talk about God's Fatherly tenderness. I first noticed it in this section of Matthew 7 and once I saw it here I started seeing it everywhere.

Growing up with the assembly, my conception of God was that he was, at best, distant and unapproachable. I believed that God ought to be approached with reverence and fear and that he was much too serious to be approached in any kind of familiar way. I didn't really believe that God was knowable. I believed that I needed to please God to earn his favour but that ultimately, as far as I was concerned, God was indifferent.

I had a hard time reconciling what I believed about God with passages like Romans 8.15-17:

For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

and 1 John 3.1, 2:

Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see Him as He is.

So, if we’re born again, we have a new life and we have a new parentage. God is now not my Enemy but my Father. The relationship that a Christian has with God is indeed a warm and familiar one and God wants a family relationship with his people. That's why we're called His Children. We're not His subjects or His employees, we're his Children.

So I'm going to read at Matthew 7.7:

Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will give him a serpent? If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

I used to read this and think it just meant that God answers prayer. And that's true: this does teach that God answers prayer. But Jesus here is teaching a principle, he says, “Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” And he makes this promise: “For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” If he just left it there, we wouldn't really get it, so Jesus gives us an example of what God really is like, and it's the example of a father caring for his children. And he says: “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

God answers prayer like a Father caring for his children. It's not a chore for a father to give his children the things they ask for and the things they need. It's not burdensome; it's something a father delights to do. A father—a good father—doesn't delight in harming his children; doesn't delight in withholding from his children. God is not an abusive father. And he's not cold and distant and unapproachable either. God engages with His children, He wants to be known by them, He cares for them. God is really tender towards us, like a father is toward his child.

In Luke 11, Jesus' disciples ask him: “Teach us how to pray,” and Jesus says, “This is how you pray,” and he begins with, “Our Father.” God doesn't think of this as just a metaphor. He actually is our Father and He wants us to approach Him like He’s our Father. His heart is tender toward us. I never realized the tenderness of God's love for me until I became a father myself and I can't help thinking: If I love my son this much, how much must God love me?

If being a father teaches me about God, it also teaches me about me. There's this kind of annoying quality about babies: Everything is a major emergency. One minute everything is fine and the baby is happy and then suddenly the baby realizes he's hungry! And now we're in a major crisis situation, like, we've got to get on the phone to FEMA and get the army here and some helicopters and get some food into this baby, NOW!

So, I start to get the bottle ready, and this whole process only takes about a minute, but it's a minute too long for the baby who's behaving like the food's never going to come, that I'm never going to give it to him—even though, here I am, getting his food ready in plain sight—he's behaving like he really believes that I'm just going to let him starve to death, the poor thing.

So, I've learned that I'm a lot like the baby. My faith in God goes about as far as the baby's faith in me. I know I'm not going to let the baby starve to death—I'm not going to let anything bad happen to the baby if I can help it. And what we just read is Jesus telling us that if we can take good care of our babies, how much more can God take care of us?

But I still act like it's all up to me and I get bitter and upset when things don’t go the way I’ve planned them or I don’t get the things I want. So it kind of helps me to think of myself as the baby throwing a tantrum. God's ready for me, he's got everything under control. And most of the time I just don't see it; I don't trust that God cares and that what God has to give me is better than the things I want.

Sometimes, I've got to keep Sam's food from him for a minute because it's too hot, I don't want him to burn his mouth when he eats it, so it goes in the freezer for a minute. When he sees that it's disappeared in the freezer, he thinks it's never going to come out and he's never going to get fed and he really wants that food so he starts screaming and thrashing around.

Sam hates getting dressed. Getting him into a pair of pants can be a real struggle. He'll scream until his face turns red and he's got these veins that pop out on the side of his head and he'll fight and fight so that I've got to pin him to the floor with my legs. And he's a pretty strong kid, and he's only getting stronger. I've got to wrestle him into his pants, and into his shirt and his sweater, because it gets cold and he acts like he doesn't notice when it's cold, he'll go out naked in the snow if I let him. But I know that's not good for him, so I'm not going to let him do that, I'm going to put his clothes on him. And that makes him so mad so he'll scream and thrash and fight. And it never ends well for him, you know, he never gets his way. I never say, “Ok, Sam. Just this once, I'll let you go play in the snow naked.” No, I'm stronger than he is, I outweigh him by about a hundred and sixty pounds, he's got no chance of winning against me, but he still fights me. You've got to admire his courage, but he's a little stupid.

Sam wrestling reminds me of myself. I can't win, fighting against God, but I try anyway. I hardly ever just surrender and say, “Okay, I trust you. You know best. I'll go with you on this.” Instead I've got to try and do things my way, I've got to fight and fight to have things go just as I’ve planned them, just as I want them to go and all the while I'm praying to God to let things go my way because I've got big plans, you know, and I'm going to do everything I can to make them work out. My plans are that I'm going to get out of my clothes and go play naked in the snow, or run in traffic, play chicken with the cars, torment the neighbourhood dogs until I find one that'll bite my face off, or else just wander off and get lost. One of the reasons God gives us babies is so we'll see how
foolish we really are.

Jesus teaches us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” Thy will, not my will. I want God to help me with my plans? That's foolish. The Bible says that we can't even imagine what God has planned, and he wants us to be a part of it. When we pray, “Thy will be done,” we're submitting to God's will, we're saying “Not my plans, your plans.” We're letting God use us in His plans.

We don't pray because we have to remind God to take care of us. When we pray, “Give us day by day our daily bread,” we're not reminding God that we need to be fed. God already knows. I think Jesus gave us this prayer to remind us where our daily bread comes from. It comes from our Father. I don’t think prayer is so much about getting things from God as it is about getting to know God.

One chapter back, at Matthew 6.25, Jesus says this:

Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal
shall we be clothed? ... For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Here Jesus is teaching about God's tenderness. God is tender towards his Creation: He feeds the birds, He makes the flowers beautiful. And Jesus says, “Your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” He's saying, 'See how well your Father cares for the birds and the flowers? How much more does He care for you?'

I was just thinking about the lilies and the birds. Jesus tell us here that they don't do any work, they don't do anything to provide for their future, they don't store up food, or plant gardens, the lilies don't make themselves clothes, they don't manufacture textiles. And yet both birds and lilies are remarkably beautiful because God made them this way. It's the way they are. We don't value birds and flowers because of any work they do, we value them because of what they are. They show off God's great glory by being what they are.

Same with us: God does not value us because of anything that we can do. Is there anything we can do that will impress God or make Him value us more? Is there anything we can do or fail to do that will make God value us less? No. We're like babies; we can't even do anything for ourselves. Why do we behave like we can impress God with what we can do? God values us because we're His Children, not because of anything we do for Him.

I love being able to do things for Sam. It’s so satisfying to meet his needs. And when he just trusts me, like when he’s too tired to fight and he lets me carry him and he just puts his head on my shoulder and holds me, nothing can make me a happier father. And sometimes, Sam just wants to be with me, he’ll walk up unexpectedly and give me a hug and a kiss. Nothing makes me happier than that, and I’m just so ridiculously pleased to be Sam’s father.

God gives us opportunity to show His glory by being His Children. Jesus teaches us that we should not worry about material things because we have a Father in heaven who cares for us. And when we trust Him and rely on Him and when we say, “Thy will be done, not mine,” we're showing the world that God is real, that God is dependable, and that God is tender and kind. If we just let ourselves be God's little children, God gets glory. And that's really what we're all about, glory to God.

The relationship we have with God is a familiar one. God is present, He cares for us, and He loves us. I never understood how much God loves us until I saw God's Fatherly care for us in the verses we read. I used to think that it was right and good to approach God thinking poorly of myself and telling Him how undeserving and worthless I am. But God, our Father, does not delight in pious self-abasement. He values us. If my son, Sam, came to me hanging his head and started telling me about how bad of a boy he is and how he doesn't deserve my love and how he's completely worthless to me and he doesn’t understand why I ever adopted him, I wouldn’t get any pleasure from that. That approach is no basis for a relationship. I love and value my son, and I want him to know me. I want him to know who I am and how much I love him. If he thinks he's too
undeserving to be in my presence, he's never going to know me and he's not going to enjoy my presence.

I'm convinced that God wants me to know Him, wants me to be familiar with Him and to enjoy His presence. I should approach God with humility, yes, and confess my sins with the confidence that God forgave my sins and that my sins are put away. I won’t earn favour by reminding God about my sins. We approach God like children entering a father's presence. Hebrews 4.16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We can come boldly to the throne of grace because it is our Father’s throne and he delights in giving us grace.

My Christian experience was a miserable one. I felt that God disapproved of me—how could he approve of me, seeing as I am such a miserable sinner who can’t stop sinning? I didn’t enjoy God’s presence because I thought of God as a stern, distant, disapproving, and unapproachable parent. Before we’re saved, it is right to see God as unapproachable and stern because we are His enemies. But, once saved, once born again, we’re born into God’s family and He is our Father. And the Bible teaches that He is a good Father, a tender Father, a kind Father, a Father who loves his children tremendously. I never enjoyed God until I saw Him as my Heavenly Father. His presence isn’t fearful but enjoyable because I know that He loves me, He cares for me. I know that I can trust Him.