Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A New Endeavor


There have been some new and exciting things happening around here. We've opened an online store where we sell luxury wool products using wool from Jason's sister and brother in law's sheep farm. I've been busy blogging over on store's website. Check out Luxury Wool Products, by clicking the link in red. Enjoy browsing in the store and find your way to the 'blog' and 'about us' to learn more. The links are on the top right of the screen.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Butterflies: My Rainbow


The summer after Mikail passed away, I found that any moment alone was difficult. Too much time to think. Thinking meant trying to make sense of the senseless death of our son. Thinking meant dealing with guilt. Thinking meant painful flashbacks. Driving to places was difficult. Sitting on the deck with a cup of coffee was difficult. Going for a walk was difficult. But something almost always happened when I was met with those solitary moments and dispair started to settle in: more often than not, a butterfly would fly by, or come near to me. I found such comfort in these moments. It was as though God opened a window in heaven and allowed Mikail to release a beautiful bit of heaven to be sent down to his Mama. As though to tell me that he's okay; that he loves me, and that this butterfly is his kiss to me from glory. 

Butterflies have become a comfort to me. They symbolize resurrection, re-birth, and hope which I have deep belief in. The hope of resurrection from the dead, because of the grace and sacrifice made on the cross:

"So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." ~ 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

"For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." ~ 1 Corinthians 15:52b

When I feel like things are hopeless, the appearance of a butterfly reminds me that there is hope. The rebirth from caterpillar to beautiful butterfly reminds me that beauty can come from ashes. Life will be beautiful again. 

While spending time in the garden, this week, a beautiful Giant Swallowtail Butterfly hovered around us while we picked tomatoes. It seemed to enjoy the Zinnias I had planted in memory of my Oma. For me the past week has been one of the most difficult since we said goodbye to Mikail, so to have this beautiful giant butterfly spend time with us, was heaven sent for me. 

God sent Noah a rainbow--a symbol--a promise. Butterflies have become my rainbow--a symbol--a promise. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

When Heaven is too Long Away

 
July 23rd. It marks 18 months since Mikail passed away. A year and a half without him. It seems like forever ago one moment and a minute ago the next.

Sometimes, at night, when Olivia misses him so deeply, she says "Heaven is too long away. Why does God still need us here, again?" Such truth in her innocent 4 year old thinking. Heaven IS too long away.



Yesterday I was sitting on a bench at the store, waiting for Olivia and Jason to pick me, going through old photos on my phone. Tears were brimming and I was missing Mikail so very much. How I wished he was sitting on that bench beside me watching people go by, maybe playing I Spy With my Little eye, or just chatting about things that 6 year olds chat about. Wow, he'd be six by now. Going into grade one...my favourite grade to teach. Such an amazing age. The thoughts just kept coming, but then, just as quickly they changed into thoughts of the coming week. A week we've been waiting for a very long time. Jason is on holidays. We get a whole week as a family. Just us. No guests. No previous engagements. No obligations. No big trip. Just time for our little family. I don't think this has happened since September of 2014.


What I love about the thought pattern I had at the store, while I was waiting, is that I could have my tear-filled moment, missing Mikail and just as quickly jump to dreaming about future fun. 18 months ago I would have thought that would be impossible. It felt as though the shock and depth of grief would be that intense forever. My thought pattern at the store showed me that we are okay. Yes, it's hard. Really hard sometimes, but the getting stuck in grief is becoming less and less.

Heaven is too long away, but we are okay.
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Monday, July 18, 2016

Gardening and those Pesky Weeds


 
I've always been fascinated with 'front yard vegetable gardening'. I've seen front yard vegetable gardens in urban areas and have always thought it is such a good use of space.

When we moved into our home just over a year ago, there was a large perennial garden in the front yard. I tried my best to keep the weeds at bay, but it was hard to do, since everything was so overgrown and I didn't really know what plants were what, or what should be where. It seemed to have been neglected for a while and nothing I did, seemed to make it look like anything but an old overgrown perennial bed. I didn't have the same vision for it that the previous owners did.

 

Since our house is on the river, the traditional 'back yard' is actually treated more like a front yard in our neighbourhood. Most homes have their sheds in the front yard and put little effort into the landscaping of the front yard. You live on the river and put your efforts there. So, we decided that changing this perennial bed to a vegetable garden would be our best bet. There is too much shade to have a true vegetable garden behind the house. With the help of my dad, we started transforming the perennial garden into a vegetable garden. We did it in stages, so there are portions of the garden that were only planted two weeks ago.


Because I have the vision of what I want our front yard vegetable garden to look like, I know where there should be no weeds. This means I spend a lot of time trying to keep those weeds at bay. It has been so theraputic to spend time weeding. Who knew, that this dreaded chore would bring such peace to me.  Last night I was pulling those stubborn weeds out, thinking about the 'weeds' that are in my life. What are the things that keep creeping up, threatening to take over the beauty and potential bounty in my life? What do I need to 'weed out'?

This brought be to thinking about the parable in Mark 4, where Jesus taught His disciples about how the growth of seeds sown, depends on the soil that the seeds were sown in as well as the amount of thorns allowed to choke out the potential fruit. Spiritual fruitfulness or barrenness depends on the type of soil the spiritual seeds are sown in. There are pesky weeds that hinder the growth of fruit-producing seedlings and suck the life right out of the good that could be harvested in time:


13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.” Mark 4:13-20


Jesus warns us that there are thorns that choke out the fruitfulness that He has ready for us. When I read what these thorns are, I quickly realized that these are very easily the weeds and thorns that choke out abundant joy and peace in my life:

  • the worries of this life
  • the deceitfulness of wealth
  • the desire for other things
Hmmm...seems like the garden of my heart has some thorns that need weeding out. Are there weeds in this passage that stand out to you? Thorns that need weeding out so that abundant joy, peace, hope, and love can be a crop produced through you?

Hope your 'gardening' brings about much fruitfulness.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

When you don't know what to say anymore...


In some seasons in life I find prayer difficult. 

What do I even say to God? 

What do I ask, when for two years most questions have been met with silence or the answer "no"?

This week my nightly prayer has been the same, "I don't know what to say anymore, God. Where are you? In it all, I know I still love you. Show us, Lord."

This morning I woke up with the lyrics "Glory to God. Glory to God. Glory to God...forever" on repeat in my mind. 

Maybe that's the answer: thankfulness and glory to God, no matter what...

Forever!

Join me? Find glory to God in the everyday things...as little as they may seem. For me, the easiest is in finding it in the beauty of His creation...right around our yard:


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Everything is perfect...until it isn't

This was our last chance, our miracle waiting to happen.

Everything was perfect...until it wasn’t.

Until that dreaded ultrasound where these words are spoken:  
A miscarriage is imminent. We are so very sorry.

Sorry? Imminent? How imminent. Like today? Tomorrow?  

It will happen when your body is ready. 

So, there’s time for God to do a miracle? Please God, a miracle. We need a miracle.

Yet the quiet whisper of Thy will be done fills my heart. I want to question it. How could a beautiful baby not be His will for us? Yet, I hear the whisper again, Thy will be done...

It will happen when your body is ready. Ready? How can you ever be ready for a miscarriage? Apparently my body is ready seven days later. But my heart will never be ready to let go of this beautiful baby; this glimpse of hope in a span of two years where we’ve had little hope to hang on to.

The physical pain is numb compared to the pain of heartbreak shattering my soul. Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancies are often a silent loss. No one knows except the people you choose to share the loss with. But why do we keep these losses silent? Perhaps it's those looks of 'pity' or the painful platitudes that people often feel the need to use to fill the awkward silence. That's almost enough for us to keep the silence, yet this baby was. It existed. The loss of an unborn baby is a deep loss. It changes you forever.

We’ve lost three children and the loss of each was very painful in its own very different ways. The first loss (2008) we mourned quietly with very few people and I mourned for months, fear gripping me that we would never have another baby. Our second loss was the loss of Mikail and that was a very public loss because of the sudden tragic nature of it. It was okay to mourn that loss in this way. Expected even.

Today’s loss comes with tragedy too. It was such a long, painful journey, and a miracle I even got pregnant, that there was so much hope in that tiny little baby growing in my womb. Hope to grow our family. Hope for Olivia’s nightly prayers to be answered. Hope for our hearts to grow bigger with more love. Hope in having a tiny slice of heaven on earth with us once more.

Yet, He knows what His good and perfect plan for our lives is, so I whisper through the pain:

Thy will be done... 


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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Our plan for more than surviving summer holidays


Summer Holidays have started for us and already the "What can I do?", "I'm bored!", and complaining about doing daily responsibilities has started. Kids love the routine of school and although I like a bit of a lax feeling in summer, some routine is necessary.  So, I went into teacher mode and put a few things into place:

#1 Chore Chart
I've revised our old chart to add a few more age appropriate responsibilities, as well as a sticker chart to go with it. Olivia's always been pretty motivated by her chore chart and is loving the addition of a sticker chart:



#2 The 'I'm Bored' Cheat Sheets

I've made up three pictorial sheets of ideas of things Olivia can do when she's bored:

Ideas for inside (independent)


Ideas for outside (independent)


Ideas of things we can do together (special outings):


3. Behaviour Chart
Olivia's a good kid, a normal kid, so that means with the cute, fun, spunkiness that's her, also comes some whining and complaining and defiance. It can get exhausting, so we've spent some time talking about appropriate behaviour, voice tone, and obedience.  Then we sat down, made some consequences, rewards and special prizes:


The day (clothespin) starts on the white paper and can move down (consequences) or up (reward) throughout the day. She receives the consequence immediately, but the "prize" the next day since the clothespin can move up and down until after bedtime. We made a list of "prizes" and she chose her six favourites that we put across the top of the chart. Each morning we move that clothespin to the "prize" she'd like to work towards. Some ideas on our list to choose from were:
-boating
-fishing
-wrestle with daddy
-ice cream or mozza sticks
-dollar store toy
-splash park
-swim at Aunt Ren and Uncle Kenny's
-beach
-animal farm
-craft
(I'm no artist. Excuse the poor illustrationsđŸ˜‚)

The consequences we chose together are:
Warning
Time out (4min--her age)
No iPad or tv
Go to bed early

The rewards we chose together are:
Sticker
Treat
Read 3 books at bedtime (instead of 1)
Prize

So far it's worked amazingly. We are only on day three. We made sure she got to "prize" on day one and made a huge deal of it. Day two she ended the day on "warning" which motivated her to do better today and she ended on "prize" again. She's excited to wrestle with Daddy tomorrow. What I live about this is that there's no power struggle. The power is in the "clothespin"--ha. The only trick is being consistent. It wouldn't work without consistency. 

What are you planning to help keep your summer going smoothly?








Thursday, June 16, 2016

Grief Changes Over Time

Over time grief changes. It doesn't go away. Lexi Behrndt of Scribbles and Crumbs says it so well:

That's exactly where my heart is at these days. The grief isn't as fierce, but it doesn't mean that I don't miss Mikail any less. He is truly 'the undercurrent of my days'. It's as though I am getting used to this new person that I have been forced to become.

With Olivia, we have entered a new stage, it seems. It hit me the other day that I have absolutely no idea what she is going through. I think I've always lump summed her into our grief of losing Mikail, but recently it hit me that her loss is completely different and I can't understand it. How could I? I have never lost a sibling. I have never grieved the loss of my closest childhood companion. As a child I didn't go through the traumatic experience of my parents finding my sibling not breathing. When this realization came, I felt like I had been hit by a ton of bricks. How do we support her in a loss that we can't even begin to understand?

Then she turned four and as with many things between the age of three and four, she entered a new developmental stage, so that means we are starting the grief process over in this new developmental stage. The grief process for children is much longer than it is for adults, because they have to process through each new developmental stage. As they enter a new developmental stage, they have to reprocess the loss or the trauma they have gone through at their new stage of development.

When Mikail passed away, Olivia was 2 1/2 years old. A 2 1/2 year old has a very limited understanding of death, but we quickly found out that, although she voluntarily shared incredible details about the morning Mikail passed away, two or three months following his death, those memories didn't stick. Or snippets of them did, and some got warped and distorted.

I came to this realization the day we went on a field trip to the fire station with her Nursery School. She was fine (a little whiney) when we took the tour of the fire hall, but she got very agitated when we met the EMS team and took a tour of the ambulance. Inside the ambulance she panicked and wanted to get out. Then when the EMS team did their presentation she began to cry quietly, repeating over and over again, I miss Mikail. The soft crying turned into desperate crying, which escalated to soul shattering scream-crying. She could not be comforted. I was in tears by this time too. I took her to the car and we headed home. She screamed the whole way. Tears pouring down her cheeks, I wanted to join her in the screaming. It sounded like it was healing. At home we crumpled to the floor holding each other and crying. She finally stopped. Exhausted. This wasn't the time to talk about what was going on beyond the I miss Mikail. This was the time to hold her and acknowledge her pain and her loss. We would have the conversation about the EMS team and the ambulance being a trigger another day.

A while later we talked about the ambulance and what it was that made her feel so sad. She said it was because when Mikail died the ambulance ladies couldn't save him and then they took him in the ambulance to heaven. Wow! So ever since his death, when she sees an ambulance, she thinks someone is being taken to heaven. We talked about EMS' true role and that an ambulance brings people to hospitals and Mikail's body wasn't brought to a hospital and what happened instead. We talked about EMS and the police being nice people who try their hardest to help people, but sometimes, very rarely, they aren't able to. We talked about how they help people and what they do and that they are nice people, not 'bad guys', as she put it.

A few weeks later we were in the back yard and she was playing in her pool when she asked what happened to Mikail that day. I asked her what she remembered and she said she wanted me to tell her. So, we went up to the deck and we talked through that entire day as well as the following week. Then she asked me to tell it to her again. When I'd gone through the events twice, she asked for the story one more time. Over the course of the next week she asked me to tell her again, at least twice a day.

So here we are. We enter a new developmental stage and begin the process of grief over again. I am so thankful for my sister-in-law who gives me wonderful tools to help us navigate this journey of trauma and grief with our spirited girl. Olivia is now to the point where she doesn't need to be told 'the story' over and over again and is able to express her feelings about that day, but I am wondering if it is perhaps time to dig a little deeper into this (explore sensory perceptions) so that when she experiences a trigger, she can learn how to react to it and that these triggers don't have to be scary. Another thing we have talked about is visiting the EMS team as well as the OPP that came to our house. We want to make sure that she truly knows that they are good people and they are safe people in our community to talk to.

What a journey this is. What an honour to be able to walk it with her, even though, when it comes down to it, we have no idea what it is like to have lost a sibling.


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Monday, May 30, 2016

Tea for Two

Wow! I can't believe the end of May is already here. Once we got passed the beginning of the month, time has flown by.

Olivia turned four this month and she requested a tea party with her little friend from Nursery School. Yay for me! What's easier than a party for two?

When I look back at previous birthdays I am mind blown at this little girl who came screaming into the world and changed our lives for the better, forever. Her spunky, spirited ways keep us on our toes, yet they are balanced with the most compassionate, caring, imaginative, little girl. We are blessed by her:

One!

Two!

Three!
Four!   

 My how she's grown!

And here are a few photos from the Tea for Two Birthday Party:













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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Someone Spilled the Beans



Ever since Jason and I met and I learned about his career (he's a Civil Engineering Technologist having to do with maintenance/construction of roads), I've always been blown away with things he or his guys find on the side of the road and are left to clean up. Everything from appliances and BBQs to animal road kill. 

It wasn't until we moved to southern Ontario that vegetables have started being added to this list. What do you call that? Vegetable road kill? There was the time they got the call about the rutabaga spill and had to clean up the spill.  Yesterday a produce truck lost crates of green beans and obviously they couldn't deliver them to the stores, but there was nothing wrong with them...except that they will show bruising soon. 

So, guess what? I've been blanching and freezing green beans all day. In the month of May! I guess I don't need to plant as many bush beans this year. 

What a strange turn of events, turning into a blessing as I fill the freezer. Wonder what's going to be next?
 
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