Sunday, January 21, 2018

Family and Snow

{As is often the case, I've worked at assembling this post over the course of a few days.}

We are wrapping up the first two weeks since returning from our trip to Canada, and it's a good feeling. Wow. I was expecting these couple of weeks to be heavy-duty, and they certainly were. Through it all, though, God was greater still. 

I stand amazed at how the Lord went before me and paved our way, answering prayer in ways that were beyond "best case scenario." I'm so thankful, yet I have to remind myself daily to depend upon the Lord as I tackle one issue after the next. Tomorrow will have its troubles too-- there is no question there-- but God will be faithful to provide grace for this day. Then he'll provide again for tomorrow, then the day after that.

So that is how I've faced the last two weeks: one day at a time, or one issue at a time, even just focusing moment by moment. Diligent and bold work pays off, yes, but not always. In every case, I have to learned (and continue to learn) to work hard, pray harder, and then be at peace with the results God intends for us.

But TGIF! Truly.

The prayers that were answered these last few weeks are "small" in comparison to the big things of life, but they were a gift to me. Not only are some immediate needs met, but I have all the more reason to believe that the Lord hears my prayers and supplications... in the big things and the small.


Scenes from the Quebec side of our trip~

The indoor lighting at my sister's house lends itself to more indoor pictures than at my mother-in-law's. I still would have liked more documentation and preservation of memories and moments. The weather outside was harsh on most days, and biting cold temps from a weather system dubbed the Bomb Cyclone kept the outdoor photography to a minimum.

Boy cousins. There are seven boys in all, and just my one Olivia-girl. She is used to the boy-ish atmosphere, including the non-stop wrestling and physicality, comedy, and, well, their frequent farting. 

Fact of life: Boys think farting is funny. 
You can expect manners, but you can't change the way they feel about it.

Games of all kinds are a must to survive Canadian winters. The kids played enough Uno and Battleship to last the whole of 2018.

"Being with family" and "the snow" were voted the best parts of our trip...

My SIL, sister and mom...
Melanie, Melissa, Marielle (aka Maman)
All names beginning with M, also all nurses...
Ha! I am the odd one out in more ways than these! 😉

A little egg from the coop, and the littlest member of the crew...

Endless wrestling, especially with the "big guy" Michael.

Me, 'cause I was there too. 
La cabane à sucre at my sister's, where bottles of maple syrup will emerge this spring.

For boys who don't play hours of video games normally, my brother's phone was evidently an attraction.

All the cousins January 1, 2018

For the sake of comparison, I added the picture we took four years ago. 
Caleb was still being waited for... ❤

The entire family January 1, 2018

On the "mildest" day (relatively speaking), my dad treated us to skiing/snowboarding. Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures with my dslr like I did last winter visit because of the temps. Occasionally, I did force myself to endure frozen solid fingers to use my iPhone for pictures and video. It was so cold my phone kept shutting down! I have a few pictures and video I'll probably post to Facebook, but they are limited.

My kids loved the slopes! It was their second time ever, but they did amazing. Olivia tried skiing for the first time, and the boys seemed to have retained all the snowboarding instruction my brother gave several years back. Jon even enjoyed himself, and he is definitely not one who typically enjoys anything with cold and snow! Me? I love skiing. I was a team player and stayed on the same slopes as everyone else, but I was sure tempted to take off in another direction and feel the thrill of speed. (I can closing my eyes right now and imagining the feel of speed as my body leans side to side, descending powdery slopes, with the wind pressing against my chest!)

The spa was a fun experience for my kids, too. It's a different experience when you have to wear a hat and when you get to do a Polar bear run!

I was fumbling in the dark with my camera settings. I hardly ever shoot with flash. I wanted to reduce the intensity of the flash, but in all the action I accidentally left my aperture wide open. The result was unintentional, but I like the effect it produced...

They would run past the hockey net, up the hill and back.
There's no shame in being a little nutty, or encouraging behavior that could be considered questionable. To me, this is part of embracing life!

More games... All the kids know that if you win when playing against Dad/Uncle Jon, then you win fair and square. He doesn't let anyone win on purpose.

Crokinole Tournament

I think this is a Canadian game? I've never known an American to be familiar with the game.
I'd like to get one for our family eventually. They are less affordable in the US, and too big to fit in my suitcase to cross the border!

Morning snow shot through the window the morning we departed...

It's not easy for us to travel over the Christmas break for a number of reasons, and it took a lot of preparation from our extended family to gather head-to-toe winter gear for us to use. They sacrificed in arranging their holidays plans to coincide with ours, and planned family gatherings that would enable us to see the people that are precious to us. We are thankful. I hope we don't wait another four years to play in the snow, nor do I wish for the crazy harsh weather patterns that seem to make travel plans in conjunction with ours!


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Morning Plea

This song has been on replay. It echoes something of my heart and morning prayers, my simple, honest plea.

Jon was up and out earlier than usual this morning, but I have no idea if it was the 5- or 6 o'clock hour. I snuggled down deeper after he kissed me good-bye and I watched as the foggy westward sky reflected the sunrise.

Morning prayers.

Mine are not very coherent if they were to be spoken out loud, but I'm thankful the Lord hears the words of my heart and delights in honesty more than he desires proper form and function. Maybe my prayers are not very reverent; probably they are not. I would never address royalty in a curled position, under bedsheets and with disheveled hair, with words that are often times interrupted by moments of sleep. And God is so much more than mere royalty.

These are the moments I think of God as my Abba Father, tender and compassionate to my frail human state, and setting his love and affection on me despite my condition. And despite a lack of reverence.

I want to know Him. Yes, I want to know his word, too; knowing him will come by way of knowing the Bible, for in it he reveals himself to mankind. I don't want to settle for my own creation of who God is, only the very truth he proclaims about himself. But knowing the Bible is different from knowing God, and many know the Bible without knowing God. I want to know Him.

More than that, even, is that I simply want Him. Just knowing him and wanting him. Because the knowing of a person is a far cry from relationship with that person.

I want you, God.
Cover me,
Hedge me,
Lead me,
Carry me,
Dwell with me, in me.

I love you, God; help me to love you more. Walk with me today... go before me and direct me.

I can't do it alone...

Before the fog lifts and my Bible opens, it is there I know the presence of God.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Travel Update

Welp, we made it home. We pulled in somewhere around 1:00 am PST, but it felt much later since we were coming from EST. Once on the drive home, we had to stop at a self storage place to sleep for a few minutes before continuing on. The kids were all sleeping, Jon was driving, and I was forcing my eyes to stay open lest Jon accidentally dozed off. Eventually, we switched places and I drove us home. I stayed awake by holding my abs in as hard as I could, or by squeezing my shoulder blades inward and pressing my shoulders down and holding. That may be a weird tactic, but it worked. Sometimes I'd just keep my eyes open by maintaining a shocked look on my face.

They couldn't locate our luggage, though. This is a big problem if you are a woman. Not only are some of my favorite things packed in there, but so are my hair dryer and iron, my makeup and brushes, and toiletries! I don't have backup "essentials" so my hair was huge and gnarly today and my tired, broken-out face couldn't be concealed. I was, um, glad Andrew is still feeling under the weather because that was my "excuse" for not making it to church this morning! Plus, we needed food purchased. {We recently received word our bags have been located and are en route.}

Jon preached and Olivia made it to the service as well. In my option, Jon is a rockstar. He's a committed worker and doesn't ever take an excuse. He has filled the pulpit when very sick (such as fever and nausea), or with bandaged hands following surgery and broken feet bones, and many times on the heels of international trips and little sleep.

We are glad to be back. It is always so fun to see what the kids are most eager to do following a time away, and the chatter around the kitchen proves we've been refreshed.


Scenes from the Ontario side of our visit~

The temperatures were exceptionally cold. Somehow the kids still enjoyed much outdoor play, but I couldn't tolerate my bare fingers manipulating the dials and buttons on my camera for very long. Here, Olivia experimented with bubbles. They would freeze and tear open, resembling pieces of plastic wrap.

Cousins on the Rourke side of the family, plus Captain.

A few shots around Ottawa~

I had hoped for more winter pictures overall, but I think I've become more of a Southern California girl than a hardy winter girl. Plus, they called this weather episode a Bomb Cyclone, so tromping around outside wasn't as charming in reality as it was in my expectations.

Because I have a love affair with all things white...

Winter is just beginning, so it won't be long and these bikes will be buried.

The sun sets so early. I won't lie... we all missed the sun.

Our families are precious to us, and it was a pleasure to see everyone, but I have discovered I no longer ache to live here anymore. This has been a freedom I am so thankful for.