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In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (700 – 734)

Counting my gifts, all the way to a thousand, probably beyond, because who could stop once you start to see them all?

700. Picture day, once a month, every month.
701. 9 months of Evelynn Joan.
702. Baby headbands. I’m late to the party but sweetness.
703. Sisters.
704. The way Anne watches her baby sister, proud and protective.
705. School afternoons.
706. The piles of laundry to be folded.
707. Miss Rumphius
708.  Still falling…25 cms so far.
709. Snow is the best baby sitter yet. 2 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the evening, every day.
710. Hockey snowman.
711. Proud boys.
712. Rosy red cheeks.
713. Vanilla steamers.
714. Seeing your breath.
715. Sunlight on snow.
716. Morning sunlight.
717. A window above my kitchen sink.
718. Handknit leg warmers (pattern here).
719. Actually looking forward to going to church. That’s been a long time coming.
720. A pastor that tells us all to join a hockey league and stop hanging out with Christians all the time.
721. Feeling challenged.
722. More ideas than time.
723. Family art night.
724. How Joseph will work on one single painting for the entire hour while Anne burns through 17 pictures. His focus is impeccable.
725. A cluttered fridge, smudgy with fingerprints.
726. Heavy laden pine boughs and the smell of snow.
727. As my friend, Nish, reminded me, having a forest in my backyard does not suck.
728. Life verse decisions, paging through well worn Bible, for Evelynn’s words.
729. Shortlisted as Best Religion and Spirituality Blog at the Canadian Weblog Awards. (Cue me: Say WHAT?!?)
730. Morning rituals.
731. Many, many days of solo parenting and somehow finding a new rhythm.
732. Mamamamamamamamamamama
733. Saucy grin of new teeth in a kissable mouth.
734. Friends that get it.

Linked up with the Multitude Mondays gratitude community at Holy Experience.




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a thousand gifts, gratitude, photos

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (686-699)

Here’s the truth: I know I’ll forget. I’ll forget some of the happenings and moments of my life that right now I swear that I will never forget, the ones that make me the happiest I’ve ever been, the most tired I’ve ever been, I will forget. I’ll forget the specific thing that Joe said that made me laugh until I nearly cried and I’ll forget the name of the song that Annie danced to at her recital but I’m pretty sure I won’t forget that Evelynn said her first word this week: Dada.

Brian is still in a puddle on the floor. He hasn’t recovered.

But it happens, doesn’t it? To the best of us, the most observant of us, we remember how we felt or we remember blazing moments but sometimes the dull walkings through of a life, the working of it all, can fade in our memories.

So here I am again, stacking those stones in an altar to the truth that love wins in the end, piling up the noticing of my own heart and knowing even now that I’ve probably missed a few. I’ve learned to trust though that even the ones that I don’t share here, the ones that I don’t tell anyone because they are either too precious or too much, even those are being held.

658. Two little sister-cousins, 11 weeks apart, just hanging out.
659. The downy carrot-red hair of my littlest niece.
660. My sister, in my kitchen, pouring out her beautiful heart.
661. Running. (Yes. Running. I’m up to 3 minutes! Someone call the newspaper!)
662. The love between Anne and Joe, their fun together.
663. Sibling battles resolved.
664. The look on Joseph’s face in that picture up there when he’s hugging his big sister. Hero worship.
665. Cool afternoons.
666. Short days and dusk falling at 3 in the afternoon.
667. Dark mornings, no sun until well after 8.
668. Tinies staying in bed until 7 AM at long last, thanks to this little miracle worker.
669. Exploring.
670. Frosted spider webs.
671. Mellow winter sunshine, rare and cherished.
672. Singing outside in the cold.
673. Joseph’s potty training marathon. This is what Ann Voskamp calls “hard eucharisteo” because it’s not easy to be thankful for it, but I am embarrassed to be thankful for what I am learning here, for the anger and impatience its exposed in my own self, the opportunity to relearn gentle discipline for both of us. And every accident free day is also good – rare, but good.
674. His blue eyes, so free of guile.
675. “I love ya, Mumma” and SMACK! kisses right on the mouth.
676. A crew of little cousins, five in 4 years. It’s chaos but I couldn’t do it alone.
677. My sweet nieces calling me “Auntie Mama.”
678. Little Arzabars holding up her arms for a snuggle.
679. Sister-cousins in snowsuits, warm and immobile.
680. Walking through the trees.
681. Spotting beaver chewed trees and seeing wonder dawn in the eyes of tinies.
682. Throwing sticks and rocks onto iced over ponds just for the fun of watching them bounce.
683. Realising that Anne has grown into a fine little leader, a force for fun and goodness.
684. Ballerinas in white tulle in the spotlight.
685. Recital mamas at dress rehearsals, looking after each other’s kids, laughing, taking pictures. It’s a beautiful thing to see women, mothers, all together.
686. Six months of work for two minutes of dancing and it’s all worth it.
687. Family that shows up for my tinies.
688. Having Coke Zero for my Dad when he visits.
689. Conversations that won’t quit so we sit on the stairs and stand at the door for another 35 minutes because there’s always more to say.
690. The way Evelynn sticks out her tongue when she said “Dada!”
691. And the look on Brian’s face when she does, how he clutches his heart and groans like it hurts because it’s so beautiful.
692. Slowly developing chapter outlines and themes and ideas on paper.
693. A pen and Hilroy notebook paper, cursive writing covering pages on the kitchen table
694. Feeling behind on everything all the time.
695. A two hour shopping trip with just Evelynn and Brian. Quote of the night: “One baby is so easy, man! She’s like an accessory.”
696. Homemade ornaments.
697. Multi-coloured Christmas lights.
698. Charlie Brown Christmas: My own dog has gone commercial.
699. And instead of madly wrapping gifts (which I need to do) reading this and starting the work of making dreams come true:

Linked up with the Multitude Mondays gratitude community at Holy Experience.

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a thousand gifts, Anne, Evelynn, family, gratitude, Joseph, parenting

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (658 – 685)

On Saturday morning, Brian took the tinies to my parents’ house. And me?  I woke up slow. I drank my coffee hot. (I didn’t reheat a single cup – it was a Christmas miracle.) I had a long, hot shower and put on make-up without interruption. I lingered over my Bible and my books. Then I took my camera and I went for a walk wearing the first sweater I ever knit for myself. (I never wear it in public because it’s all out-of-shape and one button side is longer than the other but when it’s just me and it’s cold out, I like a bit of Peace Fleece for my skin.) I took a few photos but really, I just walked in the cold November sunshine and thought this is good good good. That morning, my Psalm reading was “Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!”

All weekend, I have felt quiet. It might have something to do with my lack of a voice (this family cold of ours just keeps getting passed back and forth, it’s my turn). I cleaned the house a bit but really it was just picking up and putting things back where they go. Holy work, isn’t it? To put things back where they belong. Someone, preach me a sermon, please?

But sometimes I feel like listening and that is what I did this weekend. I watched, I caught a few memories because I sat at my sister’s table and drank wine with one of my little nieces in my arms, my fingers in her soft ringlets, I could feel my crow’s feet when I laughed because nobody can make me laugh like my sister. I sat on the floor chatting on the phone with my mother for two hours and oh, my heart, the look on Evelynn’s face, how she follows me everywhere with her eyes. Isn’t it amazing to be the centre of the universe for someone, even if it’s just for a while? I felt sorry for my sick self, drank a lot of tea and watched Anne of Green Gables the Sequel while knitting. I made an apple pie because Emily told me that the smell reminds her of Jesus and I thought it would be nice if my house smelled like Jesus. I did “back paint” with Joe in his bed – it’s a game where Brian and I lightly trace pictures on the tinies’ backs and they try to guess what we drew for them. Airplane! Hockey stick! Heart! Hockey stick! 

I stayed home from church with my infectious self all weekend and I knit a blue hat out of real wool. The sun is shining and it’s cold, daylight savings makes life miserable, the stars are out at night instead of hiding behind clouds.

When we got home from my sister’s house on the other side of the mountain, we could see our breath. Brian called me to the other side of the car to see and there, right above our house, the moon was silver bright behind the pine trees. We stood for a while, looking at it, bright. That night, my Psalm reading for prayers was “my raised hands are my evening prayers.”

658. Quiet Saturday mornings.
659. Picking up our messes, putting things where they belong.
660. Wooden teething rings.
661. One little white baby tooth.
662. Morning sunshine.
663. Seeing my breath.
664. Standing under a tree and watching leaves fall, twirling slow, to the ground.
665. Leaves as big as a tire.
666. Grass fields damp with dew.
667. Wellies with polka dots.
668. Wooden fence lines.
669. Rusted barbed wire.
670. Gillian Welch’s voice.
671. Wool, real wool.
672. Peeling apples.
673. Phone conversations.
674. The crunch of fall apples, the squeak of the tart ones.
675. Pushed back chairs after a meal, everyone full and talkative.
676. Depression-inspired coloured wine glasses.
677. Peppermint mocha season.
678. Quiet.
679. Knitting, fingers moving, brain resting in meditation.
680. Pyrex bowls.
681. Little pockets of love.
682. Late night nursing, quiet in the rocking chair.
683. Justice and mercy kissing.
684. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is speaking something good to my soul.
685. Candles lit, flames flickering, Sunday nights of gratitude.

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a thousand gifts, abundant life, enough, faith, gratitude, moments, parenting

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (610 – 634)

I’m still writing the words of gratitude, a noticing-sort of eucharisteo. Give me eyes to see, Father, give me eyes to see the gifts already written in the every day living.

610. Apple pie aromas. There is something about cinnamon.
611. Pressing pansies into books.
612. Thanksgiving intentions.
613. Snarky and tender and wondering DMs on Twitter with friends.
614. Cranford
615. My new, crazy, fire-engine red hair. Definitely a conversation starter.
616. New friends.
617. Shelves of poetry.
618. Salted caramel mocha from Starbucks
619. Singing loud in the car in the sunshine
620. Stacks of library books scattered.
621. The smell of wet wool, taking me back to my school years of wool mittens drying on radiators.
622. Red leaves.
623. Browsing handmade shops on Etsy.
624. Yet another beautiful life redeemed from despair.
625. Sleepy eyed babies born to friends.
626. Early mornings, just me and my littlest girl and prayer.
627. Memorising scripture with my girl.
628. Handprint turkeys taped to the kitchen.
629. Bathtime.
630. Psalm 119 yet again.
631. Crushing lavender between my fingers.
632. Actually wanting to go to church.
633. Steam curling out of the coffee cup.
634. Tinies playing for hours and hours together, imaginations galloping.




Let your love, God, shape my life.

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a thousand gifts, abundant life, enough, faith, gratitude

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (588-609)

This morning, like most mornings lately, I got up before dawn. For some reason, my entire life, I’ve been one of those very irritating morning people, the kind that wakes up at six singing songs even before the coffee is on. (I know, I know. Brian accepts your sympathies.) No grouchy-bear mornings allowed in our house because it’s my best time, the time when I’m most creative, most alive, most happy every day so I can’t really complain that the tinies are morning people, too, up and singing every morning despite Brian’s half-hearted pleas from the bed that “in some cultures, there are people that like to sleep in, you know.”

Every other morning, I quietly pull on my clothes and sneak out. Sometimes I go for a walk at Mill Lake. Sometimes I go to Starbucks to read. Other mornings, like today, I get my coffee and head to the high hills to watch the sun rise on the mountains across the Sumas prairie. I don’t stay long – maybe 20 or 30 minutes but long enough for the sun to rise slow against the hills, for the mist to begin to lift off the valley, for the wind to take my breath to prayer and rest for a while.

This? Makes me feel like a real person again, a human being instead of a human-doing.

Most of what I pray nowadays is just thank you. And that’s enough.

588. Best friends in your own family.

589. Joe’s constant tending of his “vegable gar-den” in the pool.

590. This summer, they have grown into being real friends, playing for hours and hours together.

591. Water rats, both of them. They would never get out and swim like little trout.

592. And then this little one, sitting poolside with her mama. All smiles and eyes and eyelashes.

593. The smell at the base of her neck, right above her birthmark, is simply a taste of heaven.

594. Her absolute delight in life, her content curiosity.

595. Blackberries that grow like weeds. We walk up the hill and fill another pail.

596. Teasing Anne that I’m going to call her Sal because it’s plink-plank-plunk and then she eats all three.

597. Dimples in her elbows and hands and creases in her wrists. Fat, happy baby girl.

598. Dandelion gifts, just for me.

599. Monkey bars.

600. Wooden playgrounds that are always empty for some reason, everyone else at the fashionable busy ones, I guess.

601. The walk back home, back down our hill, to our white house, past the blueberry farm in the valley.

602. Discovering that I must have missed my true calling as a carnival face painter.

603. Blue-eyed lizard pirates playing bare chested all afternoon.

604. Butterfly girl, decorating herself with leaves in her hair.

That’s a lizard pirate, in case you were wondering. 

605. The girls at SheLoves Magazine. (Seriously, if you have subscribed to that site or friended them on Facebook, get on that. The variety of female voice and experience is wonderful. Never mind that I write there, too… *cough cough*)

606. My sister is back on maternity leave and I’ve never been so happy to be making pancakes for a houseful of tinies in my life.

607. The way my little niece Addison calls me “Auntie-Mama.” And how we’re raising our tinies to call each other “sister-cousin” and “brother-cousin” because, clearly, there is a difference in this type of cousin.

608. The hard, unglamorous work between the great grand idea and the finished project. Know what I mean, Megan and Nish? Grateful for that and a steep learning curve, too.

609. My new little Thankful Tree sitting in my kitchen window sill.

Linked up, as always, with the Thousand Gifts community.

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In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (558 -570)

Do you ever have those moments when you’re reading a book or a blog or a poem and you just need to say it out loud to someone? You need your husband or your wife or your friend or your kids to just stop, please, just stop and listen to this.

I mean, really listen.

I did that on Sunday morning, huddled in the corner of our couch while the two big tinies watched a DVD of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer downstairs (don’t ask because I truly do not know why they picked that one at the library) and Evelynn slept in. I was reading my beloved poet Luci Shaw‘s well worn copy of Polishing the Petoskey Stone and nursing my one cup of coffee for the day while Brian scraped bacon grease off of a pan in the kitchen.

And so now I’m doing it to you, friend:

Listen. Now, listen.

A song for simplicity
by Luci Shaw

There are some things that should be as they are:
plain, unadorned, common and all-complete;
things not in a clutter, not in a clump,
unmuddled and unmeddled with;
the straight, the smooth, the salt, the sour, the sweet.
For all that’s timeless, untutored, untailored and untooled;
for innocence unschooled;
for unploughed prairies, primal snow and sod,
water unmuddied, wind unruled,
for these, thank God.

Singly and strongly, from each separate star,
a brightness pricks the retina from far
to near.  And for clear eyes to see
deep space and dark infinity
with an untroubled gaze,
give praise.

With both hands unjewelled and with unbound hair
beauty herself stands unselfconscious where
she is enough to have, and worth the always holding.

The mind perceiving her, the heart enfolding
echoes the unchanged pattern from above
that praises God for loveliness, and love.

Glory again to God for word and phrase
whose magic, matching the mind’s computed leap,
lands on the lip of truth,
(plain as a stone well’s mouth, and as deep)
and for the drum, the bell, the flute, the harp, the bird,
for music, Praise! that speaks without a word.

As for the rightness to be found
in the unembellished square and the plain round,
in geometric statement of a curve
respond! without reserve
but with astonishment that there’s for every man
one point in time, one plainly drafted plan,
and in your unique place,

give glory for God’s grace.

All this from him whose three-in-one
so simply brought to birth
from the red earth
a son.
All our complexity, diversity, decor,
facet the gem, encrust the clarity.
So pierce you now the opalescent glaze
till all your praise
rises to him in whom you find no flaw.

So here are the things that are as they are and I give glory for God’s grace in them:

558. My littlest girl’s eyes, a deep cold water blue.

559. Joe’s learning-to-speak butchering of grammar. In particular, how he uses the word “my” instead of “I.” As in, “My am not.”

560. A conversation for two hours – uninterrupted. Be still my heart, beloved, the time flies when we’re saving the world while hurtling down the highway together.

561. Weekends.

562. Learning to ask questions.

563. Eating humble pie.

564. Berry Festivals that are surprisingly devoid of berries.

565. Getting my nose ring back in successfully. (You know you were wondering.)

566. Sleepless nights because of Idea Fits and the best kind of dreams and “what-ifs.”

567. Dog-ears in poetry books.

568. Skipping church and skipping guilt.

569. Seeing Brian and Joe napping together in our bed, arms flung around each other in a lazy-puppy-dog-and-big-dog wrestle love-hold.

570. You. Truly you. Being here and reading. (Thank you.)

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a thousand gifts, gratitude, poetry

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (527-557)

I’m looking for the moments of abundant life, the ones that show that He is enough and this season of life is enough.

Did I just miss them before? Was I so busy trying to change the world, watching for a big, big God with big,big plans or trying to make my own progress as a pilgrim that I simply didn’t see them? Or is it that I didn’t value them, these small beads of light, these small snowflake-moments that have become avalanche of purpose?

Because now every day, heart stops and I feel something in me, deep in my joints say “This.”

I’m not sure if it’s God or a growing discipline but I hear it just the same. It’s like a shutter clicks in my soul (sometimes my camera is there too) and I look for someone to mark that moment with me, seeking my husband’s eyes and seeing that same look in his, mirrored back over the babies between us in the warm bed, meeting across the supper table when we all shout “ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY!” like a prayer, when we sprawl in the living room, exhausted from the day, when I’m surrounded by good and then it happens.

“This.” Right here, this is enough. See it. And it’s everything.

527. Little sister and big sister play time.

528. The tickle of paint brushes for face painting.

529. Clean, soft, oft-washed baby blankets.

530. Big baby blues with tangled dark lashes.

531. First sweet smiles.

532. The creak of a baby swing.

533. Waking up to babies between us in our bed.

534. The sound of birds and creek water – from my own house.

535. Triangle mouths.

 536.  Reading time outside now.

537. Quiet for just a little while.

538. Finding books under their pillows in the mornings because they love them so much that they want to sleep with books the way other kids want to sleep with stuffies.

539. The smell of sunscreen.

540. Finally catching a glimpse of Joseph’s arms after nearly a year of wearing a Bruins jersey. (We told him that these t-shirts are what hockey players wear in the summer. He bought it.)

541. My mother’s hands.

542. How she can always get a baby to sleep. Haven’t seen her fail yet.

543. Hand knit dish cloths.

544. Bamboo needles and real cotton yarn.

545. An morning of reading and coffee and knitting, watching hummingbirds swoop in our trees.

546. Christ Church Cathedral, one of my favourite spiritual respites in Vancouver.

547. A sneaky one-night get away to Vancouver for us old married folks. (Well, 10 years isn’t quite old married but still. One night getaway! With just one tiny!)

548. Laughing at each other over how easy it is to have just one baby. “She’s like an accessory!”

549. Baby smiles in the mornings on crisp white sheets.

550. Morning walks in quiet city streets.

551. Cafe Artigiano – enough said.

552. A day at Granville Island.

553. How Brian loves to keep our babes close to him.

554. Piles of fruit and veggies.

556. A bit of lazy lounging with tea and bread and cheese on the wharf.



557. Two little cousins, just 11 weeks apart, blurring the lines between cousin and sister.





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a thousand gifts, gratitude, photos

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (509 – 526)

I’m looking for the moments of abundant life, the ones that show that He is enough and my season of life is enough.

Did I just miss them before? Was I so busy trying to change the world, trying to make my own progress as a pilgrim, that I simply didn’t see them? Or is it that I didn’t value them, these small beads of light, these small snowflake-moments that have become avalanche of purpose?

Because now every day, heart stops and I feel something in me, deep in my joints say “This.”

I’m not sure if it’s God or discipline but I hear it just the same. It’s like a shutter clicks in my brain and I look for someone to mark that moment with me, seeking my husband’s eyes and seeing that same look in his, mirrored back over the babies between us in the warm bed, meeting across the supper table when we all shout “ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY!” like a prayer, when we sprawl in the living room, exhausted from the day.

“This.” Right here, this is enough. And everything.

509. Tinies playing together without squabbles.

510. Entering my daughter’s room to tuck her in one last time and seeing that she has created an entire wonderland of clothes and books after bedtime. One part, why isn’t she sleeping? and one part wonder at how her brain works and creates all the time.

511. Writing her first book with her. (More on that soon.)

512. Pictures drawn of me and my sister with “our babies” inside.

513. Experiencing pregnancy through the eyes of the tinies. Just how normal and fun and exciting it is to wait and anticipate and dream of babies coming soon.

514. A heel in my ribs that makes it difficult to concentrate. Busy, busy growing baby.

515. Joe’s way of smiling, until you can see his molars.

516. Bedtime rituals emerging.

517. The rare appearance of lazy mornings together.

518. Not hearing from Joe for 15 minutes and finding him, sitting in his bedroom, surrounded by books just quietly “reading” to himself.  Even at two, he loves his stories.

519. Train tracks snaking through my house and a husband that gets on the floor to play and play and play.

520. Bathwater on the floor, evidence of a successful “swimming lesson” for Mr. Potato-Head.

521. Not to be outdone by Anne and Joe, Brian coming home with his first pair of skates. Nearly-32 isn’t too old to start skating, he avers. And sure enough, he’s balancing on enormous hockey skates, acutely aware that when you are that tall, it’s a long way down to the hard ice but his four-year-old is determined to “teach” him how to get up, how to march like a penguin and how to glide. And after an hour, he is steadily skating around the kiddie rink. And I’m amazed at the things he will do to be with his children and fall in love with him – again and again and again.

522. Afternoon coffee on cold sunny days with Mum, just us girls.

523. Joseph skated for the first time, too. He is a natural with no fear, just charged onto the ice and kept his balance and only cried when it was time to go. “I skate, mumma! No home!” He would have skated for hours. His favourite moments of being held under the arms by his Papa and Uncle as they whisked him, too-fast for his poor Granny’s liking, around and around and around the ice. His laughter and joy at cold and ice and going fast.

524. An ice-snow day at home for me. Working steadily and quietly (quiet!) on my own.

525. Waking up to two very, very, very excited tinies whispering with a thrill in their voice, MUMMY! IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT!

526. Mittens and snow boots and snow pants and two minutes outside to hear “Mum! I gotta potty!”

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a thousand gifts, abundant life, brian, enough, family, moments

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (499 – 508)

499. The first snowfall of the winter.

500. Playing it cool by suggesting that the tinies look out the front window, just to hear their delighted screams of “SNOW SNOW SNOW SNOW!”

501. Warm clothes.

502. Tossing snow in the air.

503. Toddler boys that can’t quite figure out how to stay on their feet.

503. Snow angels.

504. Heavy laden branches.

505. A likely dull day transformed.

506. Joy in creation.

507. Coming in from the cold.

508. This gorgeous and free guide for a meaningful Advent season with your family, every night pointing towards true Christmas. Thank you, Ann Voskamp!

P.S. And yes, that is a gigantic scab on Joseph’s nose. He tumbled off a toy and cut the bridge of his nose. But then he started picking at it and it turned into a gigantic scab and now, every time you look at him, he soberly says, “I don’t touch my nose.”

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a thousand gifts, photos, tinies

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (439 – 453)

I find I’m noticing more because wonder is so deeply connected to gratitude.

How can you marvel at the world without becoming wildly thankful for every seemingly small and mundane beauty?

439. The smell of dying fir.

440. The crunch of dead leaves under my feet.

441. The blue of late fall skies and water.

442. The reflection of trees on still water.

443. Warm days of early autumn, cool enough for a sweater in the mornings but warm enough by afternoon for just a long-sleeved t-shirt.

444. Lazy mornings with my tinies. Especially with the thought of kindergarten next September looming before us, I am trying to appreciate the mornings, the unhurried abundance of time I have with them now. These hours before I have to share them with the world.

445. Tinies that would rather gather dandelion bouquets than watch TV.

446. Gap-toothed smiles.

447. Slowly turning gold forests.

448. New sentences from newly-two-year-olds. One of the first? “Stop it, An-nie!”

449. Rocky-bottomed lakes in the centre of town.

450. Packs of teenagers hanging out.

451. Old people that stop to chat, never too busy for a visit.

452. A new hair cut…finally grateful for this one. After an overzealous hair stylist took an extra 4″ off my hair than was requested, I was rather upset, regretting the hair cut almost immediately, chalking it up to a hormonal pregnancy decision. But now, a few days later (and an incredible amount of ego-stroking by friends), I like it. Most of the time. I think.

453. My honest sister that, when I tell her I’m “devastated” by the hair cut, shakes me by the shoulders and shrieks, “Devastated? You should have been devastated by that hay stack you called hair! Did you SEE what your hair used to look like!? Give me a break!” And that’s why I love her and need her.

I’m counting my gifts, the simple and small ways I’m blessed, all the way to 1000 as part of a community of gratitude.

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a thousand gifts, abundant life, family, moments, parenting, photos

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (402 – 418)

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful.

And other times? Gratitude spills over and races for the edges of the table, running over and waterfalling onto the floor. It’s been one of those weeks.

401.  Sunshine so bright, my camera’s white balance is completely off.

402. Smell of the ocean

403. Lazy Friday picnic suppers of bread and cheese and fruit on the grass.

404. Having enough time to waste time throwing rocks in the ocean.

405. The sound of waves breaking.

406. Tinies hugging.

407. How Joseph walks on the pier, carefully stepping from one plank to the next, like he’s walking down stairs.

408. Strong-backed Dads that can carry squirmy girls.

409. Iced capps from Tim Hortons.

410. Long drives on back roads.

411. Harvest season.

412. Green-thumbed husbands at community gardens

413. Real food.

414. Boys that can be entertained by washing veggies – for an hour.

415. Honest conversations.

416. Discovering that Lisa Samson has a new book out. And it’s gooooooood.

417. Going to bed at 9:45

And best of all, 418. Now being free to announce that I’m going to be an Auntie again! Congratulations to my beautiful sister and her husband.

This also means that our beloved little Addy will be a big sister in late January!

I’m counting my way to 1,000 gifts as part of a community of gratitude.

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a thousand gifts, family, garden, gratitude, parenting

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (368 – 390)

I am counting my way to a thousand gifts as part of a community of gratitude.

368.  a little gathering of carrots near the fence that took root
369.  tinies that call them “the carrot family”
370.  the smell of a tomato on the vine
371.  happy husband with farmer blood and dirt under his nails
372. lettuce from our own garden for supper
373. corn on the cob
374. fingers that smell like dirt and basil
375. steady weeding leading to steady heart
376. steady playing
377. being pleasantly dirty
378. hammock swinging
379. tractors for button-pushing-boys
380. community gardening as a family spiritual practice

381. Sunday morning rest
382. a day of rest – all alone
383. reading novels
384. coffeehouse lingering
385. solitude restoration

386. small rituals
387. Minnie Mouse tucked into the bed
388. babies dancing
389. neighbour chats
390. sidewalk chalk hopscotch

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a thousand gifts, community, garden, photos
  • UKZoe

    Community garden, how fun. We have a community orchard near here, but I have yet to make a visit!

  • Sara

    What a luscious garden!

    Delighted to meet you. Hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit. This looks like a refreshing place to slip off my shoes and soak in thankfulness alongside you.

    Splashing,
    Sara

  • Misty

    mmmmmm, dirty grassy smells of summer. i want a garden. sigh….
    i just read on someone else's blog that dirty feet (and i'm saying hands, here) = really living. yes?

    :)

  • Stephanie

    I totally love Anne's rainboots.

    And my 3-year-old has those same pants! She calls them her "jumping pants" because they help her "jump really high on the bed." :)

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (344 – 367)

I am counting my way to a thousand gifts as part of a community of gratitude.

344. A family day to hike up the mountain.

345. Rare day of sunshine in this very wet and rainy and cold spring.

346. Trees that are carpeted in thick spongy moss.

347. The smell of damp earth.

348. Teapot Hill, so named because when the cartographers arrived to map out the new world, they discovered a brass teapot on top of this hill. And no one knows how it got there.

349. Northern rain forests.

350. Floors of dense fern.

351. The weight of the boy on my back.


352. Tinies that adore the outdoors.

353. Pretending to be from another country and seeing all of this with new eyes.

354. Lanky girl with skinny legs, a better hiker than me.

355. Kooky kids that are in on the jokes already.


356. Green – fresh and alive, vibrant and life giving.


357. Joseph’s fascination with light because he makes sure that I see things I would have normally just walked right past.



358. Every gift they find, they want to share.


359. My boys or as Anne now calls them “The Boys.”


360. Curious Joe, his fascination with the world around him. He treats every step like an archaeological expedition.

361. The view of Cultus Lake from the top.

362. The bright blue of an early summer lake.

363. Job interviews.

364. The sight of my husband in a crisply ironed shirt and sharp tie, looking like a million bucks.

365. Three job offers in one weekend for Brian. THREE!

366. All of them with a company car and a career path.

367. Seeing him hope happy again, full of expectation and excitement.

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a thousand gifts, brian, Joseph, local, photos, work

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (328 – 343)

Numbering the small moments of gratitude, as part of a community of thanks.
328. Throwing rocks in the lake.

329. Little hats.
330. When little boys get too busy to remember to throw their hats on the ground.
331. Orange socks.
332. Mallards.
333. Joseph quacking.
334. A small retention pond just behind our neighbourhood.

335. Tall grasses in the wind.
336. Daffodils and irises nearly 3 feet tall.

337. Dimples in elbows.
338. Lazy time without any agenda on an afternoon.

339. Weeping willows falling over water.
340. Sunlight filtered through leaves.

341. Warm spring air and warm spring memories being made.
342. Prickly grass under my feet.
343. Bare feet already.
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a thousand gifts, gratitude, photos, spring

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts – Good Stories Edition (291 – 308)


It may not be Monday when I finally hit Publish on this post, but I can’t frame it any other way than gratefulness. So here are the Good Stories, the balm for my soul and the follow up to this post.

291. Feeling truly lead by God. I don’t feel like I am “under attack” or having a crisis of faith at all. I feel like I am asking honest questions. And I feel blessed in this season, full of the Holy Spirit, part of a shift and called to be even here.

292. When I asked for some good stories, I was overwhelmed by the emails and public comments.

293. Have you heard of this amazing woman, Nancy Alcorn? After 8 years in state sponsored work, she founded Mercy Ministries. It’s a free of charge, non-profit residential home for young women that face life-controlling issues. These young women come from diverse socio-economic circumstances. They are seeking freedom from issues such as drug and alcohol addiction, depression, eating disorders, unplanned pregnancy, physical and sexual abuse and self-abuse. And it’s a place for lives to be transformed and hope restored for the broken women of Canada.

And me? Imperfect, weird me? I get to be a small part of it. It’s been a place of ministry that I have loved and supported for more than 10 years. And now, here we all are together.

294. Ray’s best friend and his wife lost a baby eight days after birth. Comforted by Jesus and his church, they turned their grief toward the needs of others. Now, ten years later, they live in Kenya and provide meals for 20,000 children. Those meals are served in schools, which means an entire generation will receive an education. Having lost one child, they bear the burden of 20,000 daily. And they do in in the name of Jesus.

295. Gina went through the messy, hugely dramatic saga in ministry, her husband lost confidence in nearly all the essentials, and she pretty much walked away feeling like the biggest loser ever. But for the next 9 months – whilst she was incubating Surprise Baby #4, and he could find work NOWHERE – they lived on cheques and cash that arrived in the mail from former students from all over the country, and even former coworkers. It was unbelievable. Some days they were just staggered and speechless. Their trust in the Church – and His purpose for the “church” – was restored, and even strengthened exponentially.

296. Kristen and her husband work with an organization overseas. They spent their last year in SE Asia, mostly sick, depressed, wondering why on earth God thought it smart and good and right to take them there. Their Christian community of fellow expat workers remained distant. It was their dear friends of the Muslim faith that rallied, prayed for them, loved them, asked how they were doing. Their community in the States left them feeling forgotten, alone, scared, unloved… except for one church. They prayed, they wrote, they called prayer meeting specifically for her husband’s health… and God answered them in many 11th hour miracles. And when they returned, that same church loved them, wanted to hear their stories, cried with them, mourned with them over a horrendous year, and carried them through a lot of transition. They were united under the blood of Jesus and offered THEMSELVES in so many ways. It has been one of the biggest blessings in her life.

297. Sandy told me about a time when her family worked at an international church and a woman went into pre-term labor. She was from a South American country and her husband from Central America. She was hospitalized for 10 weeks and, for ten weeks, the international members of the congregation cared for her and her family. Believer and non-believer, they brought meals to the hospital and took care of her school aged son. They sat with her husband in the hospital, prayed for them and simply were the church. It was beautiful. She told me, I love the church, the stumbling and dirty bride of Christ. He waits at the end of the aisle for us, as eagerly as if we were beautiful and lovely. We are the church and we are all unlovable and corrupt, except through Christ’s love.”

298. Elizabeth’s husband, who is a pastor, had a rough year last year. They moved to a new church, their good friend of 39 years old died, her husband took on the Directorship of a Charity and the weight of everything just brought him down. He couldn’t function much as a person really. But God blessed him with a group of friends who he can call on at anytime of the day or night. They have carried him through, they have loved him, spent hours ‘listening’ (mostly over Googlemail and Skype) and just generally been there for him. They didn’t tell him that he didn’t have enough faith or any of the usual glib Christian responses. They were Christians living out Christ to help there friend who was weeping.

299. Kathy shared about her crazy, beautiful community, too. In just a week, she experienced “sobriety birthdays from cutting & drugs and alcohol and celebrating it each week at church…those with nothing sharing with others (generosity everywhere)…beautiful confessions out loud, in community, in the safe presence of men AND women, brothers & sisters on the journey….women learning how to use their voice, wrestling with it, but having a place to try it….single mommies getting their kids out of drug-infested houses & starting anew and needing help with basic stuff like beds & pots and pans and people freely giving….food passed on so that other bills can be paid…conversations at our house of refuge about “the church calendar” where people say out loud “i hate it” and others say “i love it” and others say “i have absolutely no idea what any of these words mean, except for christmas and easter, am i supposed to?”…the least likely & least qualified to lead in a typical church asking if they can share a song or a skit or ? and knowing that i can say “yes, of course, that would be lovely” even though it will be far from “excellent”. i, too, have pretty much lost hope in so much of the system. i think i would be right with you if i didn’t have this little pocket of love. but i do know this one little pocket of love is indeed 1 pocket of many.

300. Amy identifies herself as “one of ‘those’ – a crazy apostolic/pentecostal complete with the skirts and long hair.” But, oh, what a fellowship she is a part of! “I am surrounded by so many friends that are closer than family. I know that at any time of the day I could reach out to them and they’d be there with arms open wide. All over the world are people that would be here so quickly if I needed them.”

301. Jill, a dear, long-time friend of mine told me about watching God provide financially for bible college students. It is one of the best parts of her job because she is privy to anonymous donations. When she realises where they come from, it can be quite moving.

302. And Jill also had a student tell her about how her home church has been like family to her. She hasn’t seen her dad since she was about 4, her mother has some very severe mental illnesses and addictions. This student came to know Jesus through the loss of a pregnancy she had while a teen. She has been through many many things. She said “my church isn’t perfect, but they have really stepped in and been my family. they have taken me in, cared for me, and provided me with financial support to come to bible college”.

303. I heard from students that used to be in the youth group and college group my husband pastored for a few years. Now grown up, married and with babies of their own sometimes, they wrote me emails or sent Facebook messages, telling me their stories that involved us directly. It reminded me afresh how I loved them and how I still love them. Beautiful church, beautiful people.

304. Then there was a casual friend from university, now a new-found friend again, who discovered community during her moments of loneliness in a new city, new job, new marriage. The church itself has gone through its own identity crisis, but it’s remained grounded in the biblical principals of community. They continually recognize God’s grace and His mercy. It’s hard to talk about how simple, patient, and loving their leadership is without talking about how fierce they are about the gospel and His kingdom.

305. Emails and phone calls from friends and family, even the ones without a story to tell, but just to be part of my good story. Because they prayed for me, loved me and just let me feel the brokenness and grieve for a while.

306. This email from a new friend, found through this weird little blog of mine, now a “real life” friend complete with playdates. “The path you find yourself on can be lonely (locally) at times. And yet, as you know, there are so many, many people that are on a similar journey to the one you are walking and experiencing. And I think *that* journey, though painful – and confusing – and frustrating, is actually positive. Overall. This isn’t just “an attack of the devil” or “only seeing the negative” or any number of things that might be said to explain what’s happening. I think it is actually a deep work of the Spirit. And parts of that process might not be attractive. The emotions might not be pretty. It’s messy and tough. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t God.Yes, there are good things that happen in churches. Yes, God moves and loves all believers – regardless of what’s going on in our churches or systems or whatever (and yes, He is grieved, and I think you are feeling His heart about that of that). Ultimately, job one is just to follow Him. If He’s calling you, and leading you in a direction that is ‘away’ from all of that, then follow! If He leads you to stay in (despite the frustrations), then follow! That makes it sound easy, I know. Following isn’t always easy. But His is the one voice above every other voice (even those close to us) – His is the one we are following.I trust He will lead you and Brian. He is doing something, and He will be faithful to work out the details of what “living in the Way” looks like for your family.” And really, isn’t that true for ALL of us?

307. I spent my weekend with family and my husband’s lifelong friends talking, just reading emails, praying, taking cold medicine (still sick, I’m afraid) and wrapped up in Scripture.

And you know what?

I don’t know much.

That’s it. I don’t have a neat wrapped up package on this.

I’ll probably keep writing about it now and again as I try to figure it all out. All I know is this, the Church I have encountered through all of this questioning has given me great hope and filled me full of love again. Your response in this has given me another “good story” to tell.

I don’t know what this means for me or for my family, I don’t know what I will feel next week or even next hour about this. I know my husband is a pastor in his heart of hearts and I know I love Jesus with my whole self. I will trust Abba to work it out in the details. Right now, I’m going to take a bit of a rest from it and wait at His feet.

This is just a smattering. It doesn’t even touch the big famous stories like Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King Jr. or Tommy Douglas and so on. It doesn’t get into the stories from Scripture.

You could make a life out of telling these beautiful stories and still run out of time.

308. I said it before, but I’ll say it again, thank you.

I’ve made every effort to keep identifying details, last names, specifics away from this list. If you recognise your story and feel exposed, please just email me and I’ll remove it. But since I received so many “You, too? Me, too!” emails, it seemed that many more needed to hear these stories than just me.

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a thousand gifts, church, community, faith, family, friends, gratitude, jesus, journey, Mercy Ministries, missional

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (238-257)

Hello again – I am returning to this familiar corner of the Internets after a self-imposed weeklong Sabbath, feeling like I am still enjoying this, realising a bit more my place here. In fact, I even wrote some posts that I am excited about sharing, updated my Favourite Bloggers page and my Amazon Affiliate store (including the long-awaited Brian’s Picks) if you’d like to spend some time there.

Now onward with Multitude Mondays, numbering the small joys and moments of gratitude all the way to a thousand.
238. The beautiful feeling (and smell) of a sparkling clean house. And since everyone is napping, the opportunity to keep it this way for longer than 2.3 seconds.
239. Learning to eliminate mental clutter along with the physical clutter.
240. My beautiful sister’s food convictions, her passion for health and her tireless evangelism of everything she believes in (from veganism to what kind of pickles one should buy). She challenges me and has me thinking long and hard about our choices.
241. Libraries.
242. The “Request” function at the library. It’s like my Amazon wish list but it’s free.
243. Finally receiving the yarn for my first sweater. I started this sweater a year ago, ran out of yarn and have been waiting for the new shipment. And it is now blocked and drying on my bedroom floor. My FIRST SWEATER FOR ME!
244. 7 o’clock bedtimes for the tinies.
245. The hum of a sewing machine.
246. Pine trees that are stark against a wildly colourful sunset.
247. Silence.
248. Seeing the moon during the day.
249. Two whole days a week to work at something I’m so passionate about like Mercy. Brian has rearranged his schedule and we’ve worked to find a baby sitter so I can come into the office two days a week now.

250. Speaking of Mercy, I am thankful for the tremendous favour that we seem to have everywehre that we go. Doors are opening for the oddest things. I am humbled by it because it’s clear that it is all God and not at all my doings.

251. A Saturday with my daughter, “just us girls”, as she says. We went to the bookstore for story time and then did a bit of shopping before going for a drive and visiting my sister’s little family. She is so interesting and funny as evidenced by….
252. “I don’t think I like my white teeth. I’d rather have pink teeth, Mum.”
253. “Oh, Mum! I love this dolly! I think she’s pretty and smart.”
254. Hockey Day in Canada.
255. Good talks with my husband about our life.
256. A new BIG GIRL BED for Annie.
257. A new family adventure that alternately thrills me and ticks me off. (More on that tomorrow.)
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a thousand gifts, Anne, gratitude, Mercy Ministries

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (224 -237

224. Little 15 month old boys that love to snuggle so much, they’ll pause in the middle of the afternoon to lay their heads on their granny’s chest and just stay there for a while.
225. Even though he weighs 30 lbs, Granny won’t put him down until her arms are ready to fall out.
226. His mop of baby curls that I simply can’t bring myself to cut, no matter how many times my sister tells me to cut that kid’s hair and her husband refers to it as Hockey Hair.
227. The smell of him – that milky, sweet, sweaty, warm little boy smell right at the corner of his neck.
228. How he lifts his shirt to show you his belly because he knows it’ll make you laugh.
229. His voice in the mornings, calling “Mumma mumma mumma” and then the lifting him up and how he burrows his face into me and sighs – really sighs – with contentment.
230. Hand knit sweaters (by yours truly) that actually fit and look good for once.
231. His independent nature, his self-possessed personality.
232. His love language is the same as his Dad’s – affection and touch. He craves physical contact, snuggles and being held.
233. Every time I sit on the floor, even just to help Anne put on her shoes, he runs over and immediately gets between us, clamouring into my lap, wrapping his pudgy arms around my neck.

234. His favourite place is still the ring sling. If he is tired or cranky or sick, he only wants to be in the sling. He goes to get it and pulls it out, dragging behind him and holds it up to us.
235. A husband that loves babywearing as much as I do, sees it as a normal part of our life, and carts the boy around in a ring sling while he works on our bills or makes phone calls or just hangs out watching football.
236. My baby, my boy, how completely I’m undone by him.
237. His 5 month baby pictures. I still go back and look at this picture below. He’s a smiley boy, full of grins and laughter. But every once in a while, he still does this pouty, matinee idol stare and I think “Oh, we’re in trouble.”

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a thousand gifts, babywearing, Joseph

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (127-165)

127. Small boys with cheesy smiles.

128. Pudgy hands with elastic band wrists.

129. An hour or two, just the two of us, to play.

130. The gap between his front teeth.
131. Watching him learn the word “light!”
132. Hearing him ask where his sister is by saying “Nan-nie?”
133. Playing peek-a-boo.
134. His laughter. Part hysteria-part chuckle-and all joy.

135. Family in town so that I can nip to get a new haircut on a Saturday morning.

136. Sleep-overs at Granny’s house.
137. Hearing Anne call her Granny “My best fwiend.”
138. A little girl and a Granny with a equally full “love tanks.”

139. New baseboards in the family room
140. Having a family room.

141. Christmas tree lights in a dark room.
142. New fallen snow.
143. Small nose prints on the windows, breath fogging the glass, exclamations of “SNOW, MUMMA!”
144. Very obese Santas and pictures of small boys sliding right off Santa’s non-existent lap.

145. Hanging pictures in a house that is becoming a home.
146. Books left open on the floor.

147. Sugar cookie candles.
148. Homemade gingersnap cookies.

149. The sparkle of sugar on a warm cookie.
150. Time to make homemade soup.

151. Two fathers that give up their Saturday to roll paint on the walls.

152. A clean floor.

153. Time in the sling, quieting a fussy boy simply by holding him close to my heart.
154. A very long girl in a princess dress, asking for her turn in the sling, after a tumble.
155. Wrestling her in and then carrying my long girl for a while, her head on my shoulder, her words “I love being close, Mum” in my ear.

156. A venti peppermint mocha brought home in the snow and cold by a hardworking husband.
157. The hardest working man I know, eager to give of himself by giving us a home.
158. Tense words on the stairs because I know he needs to rest but he wants to finish “just one more thing.”
159. Making up.

160. A warm house.
161. A garage to pull my Earth Destroyer into, out of the cold.

162. The view out of my kitchen window, straight into a forest, now heavy with snow.
163. The quiet of snow, the dense sound of silence.
164. Feeling pleasantly homebound.

165. Music that feeds the soul.


I’m working my way to a Thousand Gifts….on days like today, I feel the thankfulness, the gratitude, welling up.

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a thousand gifts

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (105 – 126)

105. Anne of Abbotsford
106. The smile on her face, getting to run through leaves,
no playground equipment in sight.
107. Her deep and abiding love of dressing herself.
108. The learning to be okay with pink tights with hearts on them, paired with runners, a brown skirt and a navy blue shirt/dress splattered with hearts. She loves it. So I love it.
109. The sound of her laughter.
110. She never tires of her games of chase with her dad, in the lengthening shadows of fall.

111. The pumpkin hat, knit by me.
112. His big meaty paws. Nothing dainty about this boy.
113. His screams of delight.
114. His funny Learning to Walk steps, straight-legged and unsteady.
115. His blue eyes, stop me in my tracks, so like my mother’s eyes.
116. He still yearns to be held, yearns to hold.
117. He, obligingly, isn’t growing up too quickly.

118. The crunch of leaves under my feet.
119. The smell of dying leaves, the decay of nature,
the feeling that it is all starting to go to sleep.

120. The moment, afterwards, when you realise that you captured
something with your camera
that you hadn’t intended.
She looks alight, like Joan of Arc, hearing a Voice
only she can hear.

121. The smell of water, our own lake of shining waters,
surrounded by colours we can’t even bear.
In the distance, smoky and still, snow-covered
mysterious, the mountains rise around us.
122. The coolness off the water.
123. Early twilight, winter on its way.

124. Gathering sticks and leaves,
floating them on the water.
Watching their eyes light up with the new discovery
“Wood floats!”
and feeling like I just witnessed a miracle.

125. Beauty, beauty, beauty.
Everywhere, in each corner of the house,
each view of the eyes,
surrounded on all sides, with
beauty.
126. And a day off,
our Sabbath,
just to rest in it.



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a thousand gifts, family, photos, seasons

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts (104)

This morning

I am thankful for

this,

read in the first light of morning:

So, chosen by God for this new life of love,

dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you:

compassion,

kindness,

humility,

quiet strength,

discipline.

Be even-tempered,

content with second place,

quick to forgive an offense.

Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.

And regardless of what else you put on,

wear love.

It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.

Never be without it.

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other,

in step with each other.

None of this going off and doing your own thing.

And cultivate thankfulness.

Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house.

Give it plenty of room in your lives.

Instruct and direct one another using good common sense.

And sing, sing your hearts out to God!

Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—

be done in the name of the Master,

Jesus,

thanking God the Father

every step of the way.

(From the Book of Colossians, chapter 3, verses 12 through 17 in The Message.)

Truth is wrapped around me,

worn like clothing.

I am learning to give Love and Truth

the run of my house.

Every detail in my life,

singing a song of gratitude.

And today, Thanksgiving Day,

I am learning to give thanks

every step

of my way.

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a thousand gifts

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts

(84 – 91)
A 10-year dream coming true….
…in the form of a job offer from Mercy Ministries.
10 hours a week to work on transformation.
My job description is to help restore hope.
But I masquerade as the Director of Marketing and Development.
Being pretty sure that this will transform me.
Can you ever be the same when you spend your days with those
fighting for life?
What an honour.

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a thousand gifts, Mercy Ministries
  • Sarah

    That's so wonderful, Sarah! :D

  • Mary

    Great news!

  • sharon

    That's awesome Sarah…it is a treasure to have a job that is so inspiring!!

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts

(59 – 83)
She wears her new Princess dress
but carries a tool box.
She’s her Daddy’s girl and
mine too.
See? She takes a moment every day
to curl up alone and look at pages
making up stories for the pictures she sees.
She dances her Papa and her Dad
around the living room and kitchen
asking them if they
“wanna marry me?”
And they both say, Of course.
And her Papa says “I”ll decorate up the truck!”
Just like my Grandpa used to say to me.
A sister and a mother
that are kindred spirits
with me
and each other.
Laughter on a cool August afternoon for
a little girls’ birthday party
and a pile of friends
that make her day.
She’d rather play with them at the playground
than open the gifts they brought.
A beautiful niece
with a dimple in her left cheek
just one little mark of my sister
because, really, she’s her Daddy’s girl.
She even has his ears.
But she’s got Amanda’s lop-sided grin.
And it makes my heart so happy.
Home made chocolate cakes.
Another rite of passage
for both of us.
Running at full tilt
headed for the water.
I’m not far behind.
We are Water Babies, us two.
We stay in the water until the pads of our fingers and feet
are wrinkled.
And then we swim up and down the beach,
she is perched on my back, clinging
like a monkey, laughing
in my ear.
Burying your legs with your Dad
And yanking them up out of the grip
of the wet sand.
Feeling the pull of being dirty
in the summer time.
Sitting up to your thighs in wet sand
again
and again and
again, Daddy!
A man that will bury your legs
over and again and then
again.
And have more fun doing it
than anyone else.
He is filing memories into his heart
today
of his day with you
burying your skinny bird-legs
in the sand.
A day in the sun without make-up
and suddenly, I’m seven again
and covered with freckles.
She runs like Phoebe Bouffay from that show, Friends.
Arms windmilling
legs churning
laughter bubbling.
Shouldn’t we all still run
like this?
Despite repeated attempts to make him sleep in his stroller,
he decides its a game of peek-a-boo.
And it never gets old when he flings up the draped towel
and yells “Hi!”
Beach food like I used to have as a kid
when we boated over to the rich Regina Beach for
fish n’chips at Butlers on the hill.
Hot dogs, chips and cod
and iced tea.
Letting little boys with
delightful bellies
dabble in the water
the seaweed and
wet sand.
A big sister that always chooses the baby swings
because she just wants to be closer
to her baby brother.
A tribe of their own
already.
When she swings, she screams
HIGHER and never is touched
with fear.
She closes her eyes as she soars
her head tipped back
smile wide.
a thousand gifts, family, love, photos
  • Catherine Chiarino

    I think these thoughts and pictures would make a beautiful book for you your little ones. Love it.

  • deb

    Wow, this was beautifully written, and the pictures are natural and happy.
    LInked here from SortaCrunchy, and noticed you are doing the gratitude lists like many of us.

In which I am experiencing a thousand gifts

21. The day that a little boy discovered cold water coming out of a hose.

22. Two babies that are already the best of friends.

23. Whenever I lose Anne for a moment, I can usually find her, tucked in her bedroom, looking at her books, “reading” to herself. I love that she can sit and do this for almost an hour by herself, discovering my favourite world.

24. Boys that ROAR ROAR ROAR their pleasure in life.

25. When told that she could pick out any t-shirt in a store, Anne walked over to the boys section, bypassing the princesses and pink, the unicorns and rainbows, to select a bright red boys tshirt. Because she loves baseball and spotted the #3 on it ….TWO TIMES, Mummy.

26. A man that never stops coming up with ideas. Most of them crazy, some of them “You’re kidding, right?” inducing and others that are nothing short of brilliant.

27. Three showings in two days.

28. A peace that passes all understanding, guarding my heart and my mind.

29. The dog days of summer spent with family.

30. My mother’s strength and endurance.

31. Naked babies in the pool. And no, no pictures on an unprotected site. ;-) I do have some limits. But trust me – those dimples on his bum are DELICIOUS.

holy experience

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a thousand gifts, family, photos
  • jill rosalie

    Oh, I love the picture of Anne reading! Priceless … I think I'd frame that one! And I LOVE that she went by the pink and for the red …. I love her for that!!!!

  • Mary

    Adorable! Good news about the condo showing! Looking forward to hearing about that story. :)