parenting & the determined

everyone tried to warn me. tried to articulate the extreme tensions & intense emotional spasms that were on my horizon when i first got pregnant. 'don't worry' they said. 'don't worry. you may never wear anything but pajamma pants for the rest of your life but you'll survive'. but i wouldn't listen. i thought they were all neigh-sayers & negative nellies trying to rob the most glorious fairy tale that the experience would be for me.

they weren't wrong. but they weren't right either.

parenting is not for the faint of heart nor the weak of will. it is the most difficult thing i will ever cultivate in my life. it is so intrinsically apart of me now that i cannot separate when it ends & i begin.

initially, with my flippantly, overconfident first-timer attitude, parenting was something i wore on the outside. a mostly exterior experience that fit into a neat & tidy compartment. something i did & was, just by rights of having a child. something i could still idealize with, flaunt & control. and then i had the twins & parenting tried to creep into the deepest of depths of my soul. it found things in there that i didn't even know existed. it started messing with all my emotions & leaking all over my leg in seepy, soiled diapers, darkened the bags under my eyes. it came skulking for me in the night.  taunting me sometimes all day & all night with the need for change. and then the utter chaos of parenting overtook me entirely with the birth of my last cherished babe.

they weren't wrong to warn me. but they weren't right either. i will not be merely a survivor of parenting like the rest of the lot. the long days & dark night aren't just there to survive... they are there as a gift of growth. like a spur in my tender side, they are there to train & test me into thriving, not just as a parent, but as a great many things. for what is parenting but pursuing transformation & change in the heart of every untouched, hidden emotion & motivation. it has been the greatest audit & inventory i have ever know.

never has there been such a universal experience that so adamently demands the brand of patience made out of wrought iron and holiness produced from so much flesh purging. but i am resolute that the gut wrenching contraction upon contraction of excruciatingly monotony of everyday pandemonium in familial life will give birth to something in me. i am nothing that i thought i was at the start. i fall short everyday of the woman i want to be. the woman i can & will be one day. but that is what why the determined will see the fruit of their labours.

it's like panning for gold. scatter amount the debri of everyday chaos is sprinkled gold dust. hidden in the burnt boiled egg dinner disaster is a little treasure of who i am & who they are becoming.

and i wouldn't miss that adventure for the world. :)

a table called faithful.

on my way to the feed store, i delightfully stumbled upon a garage sale. a real one! not one of those antique stores mascaraing as a garage sale, chuck full of overpriced sentimentality. but a real nickel and dime garage sale. with beautiful, old smelly books and boxes of aged wonders.

she said it was all her dad's old stuff, from a time long before hers. most of it from his old barn. it didn't suit her house anymore, she was going for more of a nautical theme.

i bought a dresser, an apple box, seven baskets, a whole box of salt and pepper shakers, a trunk, three pictures, an old window, a framed barn shingle, an antique hand warmer and an ink well for, wait for it... $80! i had overestimated the amount of car space my unexpected visit had demanded but squeezed every last trinket in with barely enough room to shift. and then i saw something i couldn't forget. not even after i pulled out of the driveway, not while i shopped at walmart and picked up the feed.

and so, i was forced to go back, with my fingers crossed that it hadn't been sold. and there it was, sitting at the back of their garage with a piece of green painters tape with $100 written on it. way out of our imaginary garage sale budget and against my garage sale code of ethics of never spending more than $50 on any piece for sale in someone's driveway. but it was absolutely extraordinary. it was nicked and dented, coffee cup stained and paint splattered, burn marks and a HUGE hole right in the middle. it was a table. a table that hadn't been manufactured or artificially distressed. it was purely a product of a long, unlavished life. i couldn't make a table like that any other way.

i bought it. i had to make an extra trip to pick it up, with seriously lacking space from my first visit. and on my way home from picking up my prized treasure, i was trying to justify the cost in my head to steve. and i was going over how you can't buy this kind of aged perfection in a store. think of all the things this table has seen and lived through. it's not a fake. it's just so real. and then it came to me. i'll name it faithful. a table called faithful.

because even through all the bumps and banging of life, it stayed together. it just reminded me so much of God's faithfulness. just an ever present unyielding. it never disintegrated. it's legs stood solid. it has a huge hole in them middle but never mind that. more than that... it's absolutely, exquisitely beautiful and completely unreproducible. that table holds a story that only that table lived. a product of time tested over and over again.

and so this table has become a remembrance alter to the Lord's faithfulness. He is and has and ever will be faithful, ever true. ol' faithful now sits in our entry way and everyone notices it. a living piece testifying, reminding, proving.

may the story of the Father's faithfulness to me be written on every door posts we have.  

the power of a smile.

i grew up in a small, countryside high school. only 84 students. most of whom had evolved together since the kinder years.

somewhere between the kinder years and my high school years, i lost my smile. i can't remember the exact moment i misplaced it. i don't even remember knowing it was missing for so many of those years until our little, intimate high school got a new principal. mr. tim taylor was his name.

he was different. he noticed me.  he saw me and he peeled me out of the wallpaper.

he won me with a smile was all. i remember the day. i had to hand in a form in the office. i shuffled it across the secretary's desk, avoiding all eye contact and turning quickly to disappear. but he looked right at me and said, 'where's your smile? the world's not all that bad, is it?" i awkwardly forced a half-hearted smirk and left. he had no idea the weight of world i was carrying but somehow he made it just a little bit lighter, even if it was awkward.

the next time i passed him in the hall, he stopped me and asked me where that smile had gone again. i smiled a little bigger this time. and a very strange feeling began on the inside. like warm camomile tea welling up from deep down. i can't really describe it, even all these years later. maybe it was relief. maybe it was hope, that the world wasn't all that bad after all? hope invincible. hope undeterred. i let it rise up from some indestructible force inside and my countenance changes. i let it radiate out my eyes and i am saved all over again.

i still get that feeling. whenever things get really bad, and my soul dips low. when i'm feeling blackened and bruised inside from ugly confrontations or perceived rejection, i'll find myself in some public place, at the gas station or grocery store, i swallow my need to wallow and instead put on the biggest smile i can find. i smile so big that it's almost inappropriate, not at all paying homage to whatever carnage i've just come from. i joke with the cashier about something or am eager to help someone with kindness. and they look me in the eye and smile back big. it's then i find my smile muscles haven't atrophied and as long as i can still find that light hearted, humour-filled smile, then i'm going to be ok. and my face assures my soul, i'm going to make it after all. :)

that mr. taylor, who i will never get the chance to properly thank, made me a cope-er. a heels dug in, roots down deep hope-er. he helped me find my smile and that smile, has saved me over and over again. he helped me turn my insular world outward. helped me focus on something other than myself. and for that, i am ever grateful. ever cheerful.

"a cheerful look brings joy to the heart." 
{proverbs 15:30}

"be joyful in hope, patient in affliction." 
{romans 12:12}


just let it go. {a song diary}

songs can come and find us sometimes. they hunt us down late at night because they know we need them. this is one of those.

it's a song about leaving. about memories. letting heavy things fall and tossing broken pieces to the breeze. about walking away and not turning back.

a song about repentance too. about letting God be God, and me be me.

i just ever so suddenly looked down to find my clenched fist holding on so tight to something i don't need.

this song is my cleaver, separating my now from not so long ago. helping me say a sombre goodbye to the years of the past.

it's time.

time to just let it go.



it's been a year. a long, complicated year. how do i paint all the twisty, ugly turns or all the overwhelming, life-changing victories, all the kinks collected in a suddenly aged body or the indestructible smile pasted on my face. how could i ever accurately represent all that this past year has become?

well, a writer has her ways. hidden in the back of my kid's colouring books, scribbled on scraps of paper and junk mail envelopes... i did my best to capture at least a glimpse so that i would one day, maybe once the quiet of winter sets in, i could sew it all together in a quilt of remembrance. the story of how i dug down deep to the grittiest grit, how i got my stripes. how i grew and how i became.

it may take me awhile yet to unravel all the glory and grit, but oh how i have missed writing. when writer's can't write, they read. and i love reading the story of the velveteen rabbit, so much so that it was one of our first christmas gifts to our kids, well before they could ever understand. it is a beautiful picture of restoration. the quote below is mounted on our living room wall so i'll never forget why i sometimes feel shabby or loose in the joints,

'it doesn't happen all at once,' said the skin horse. 'you become. it takes a long time. that's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. but these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” 
~ the velveteen rabbit

cheers to catching up!


building a dream.

 this farm has been more work, more frustration, more blood, sweat and tears than a human would think they could take on. but it has been the most divinest & beautifulest of dreams realized at the exact same time.

as farmers in a small community, we learn from each other. we learn how to farm smart so we can enjoy more. this is why we love permaculture. it's less work. less money & a whole lot more fun... at least in theory.

tricks you'd only find in the backyard of another passionate farmer like putting goldfish in your troughs to prevent algae from taking over or putting big rocks in the bottom of the water dish that the ducklings drink from so we have no more unfortunate drownings or free choice baking soda in the goat barn to prevent urinary tract infections (my vet doesn't believe me...thinks it's bogus, but i swear by it!).

one kindred spirited farmer once passed on the most cherished piece of advice we've gotten so far, which he said he inherited from his mentor before him. "pick the breed you like the look of best, it makes it easier to feed in the dead of winter." pretty things are easier to take care of. beautiful things are what you take pride in. from our speckled easter eggs, to the smattering of our chicken flock to the sheen of our ducks, to our turkey fanfare & guinea fowl pin feather, to the eclectic coats of goats, to the colouring of our spotted pigs, the unfurled, wild manes of our mares & geldings. we like beautiful things. we love quality things. we know this often means heritage breeds that are difficult to find and grow much slower products than commercial breeds (even if they do overall create a much superior product). but it takes much time, commitment & vision to cultivate beautiful things.

we love what we're building for our family & for our lives. it is an absolutely unique story made of the colourful tapestry weaved out of colossal rookie mistakes & divine luck (and a lick & a promise)... and the horizon only amplifying the weight & measure of our original vision.

it's hard work. but beautiful work. the work of building a dream.

before the curse.

i was folding just one of the small baskets of laundry that had avalanched down the stairs from the mighty mountaintop of camping laundry that awaited me at the top of the stairs, when i had a thought.

there was absolutely no laundry before the curse. adam & eve were butt-naked. there wasn't a single matchless sock in the garden of eden. not a loincloth. no coconut bra in sight. nothing. which logically one would deduce that laundry then is absolutely either a result of the curse or the very curse itself. i believe the latter. ;)

my children love to be naked. it's a nice perk of not living in the city anymore that they can run free & wild & naked. i actually mandated their partial nudity after i found them soaked up to their necks in pond muck while wearing their very expensive school uniforms. i said, no more clothes! only undies shall be sacrificed to the pond yuck. and a small nudist colony has emerged as a result.

after a subsequent conversation with kai, while explaining the societal expectation to remain fully clothed while in public,  he asked me if we would have to wear clothes in heaven. and i thought, i have no idea but i will find out!

and then, in my wanderings to answer such an awesome question, i found this gem...

" eve's curse: in relation to her husband, her "desire will be to" him, an unusual hebrewism that means an ambition to control, manipulate and possess someone (in it's occurrence in genesis 4:7). this is having led her husband into sin, she must now live with a continuing urge to subordinate him to her wish and will. his reaction will be not only to resist this takeover but to use his greater strength to rule her. male domination is the inevitable result of this struggle for supremacy of wills. in genesis 3:16 lies the real explanation for the centuries of exploitation and suppression of women, against which feminism is validly protesting. 
incidentally, it also means that a husband that is hen-pecked has chosen to capitulate, usually for the sake of domestic peace. the advent of rule to describe marriage was not the introduction of subordination but the exaggeration of it (in much the same way as pain in childbearing was increased). responsibility for direction in the male became reaction into domination. the male-directed garden is now a male-dominated jungle. each sex sees the other as an object (rather than a subject) to serve its own purposes. 
this situation can be remedied only by Divine grace, by redemption rather than by legislation or revolution. God's strategy is to plant on earth a community of men and women who live as adam and eve did, in his creational order (except for nudity, which will never reoccur, even in heaven)." 
~ david pawson

wow. both kai & i were a little disappointed about the last line of that one. but the beginning & middle, magnificent. i feel like my whole life, society & culture has been illuminated, dissected & explained to me. how incredible is God's plan for redeeming marriage... not sure what His plan is for redeeming laundry but i'm sure He has one. He redeems all things. ;)

p.s. i eased kai's disappointment by reassuring him that although he may not be naked in heaven, he could likely ride a shark while eating chocolate chips well past bedtime instead ;) we conclusively decided that a bathing suit might be a good idea anyways whence riding a shark on the riptides of heaven with a handful of chocolate chips. a little less squeaky, squeaky. ;)

p.s.s. this must be the most random blog post you've ever read. they are but the desperate ramblings of a procrastinating woman about to take the plunge into a neck high laundry swamp for an 18 hour shift of folding. and they were naked no more...