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Photo Credit: Linder

Photo Credit: Linder

I had a request for a third chapter in this bizarre little series, and it just so happens that we had another crisis.

I was just drifting into sleep on Friday night when my phone rang. It was the camp where my daughters were at. This was not a good sign at 12:30 at night. I was informed that Melanie was having a asthma attack and was being taken into the hospital.

The weird thing about this was that Melanie doesn’t have asthma. I threw on my clothes and rushed to the hospital.

My stomach tightened when I saw a van—with the sliding door still opened—sitting in front of the hospital entrance. They must have been frightened for her to leave the door wide opened. Stay calm, I told myself.

The hospital had been recently renovated and it felt like I was dreaming as I rushed down unfamiliar corridors looking for my daughter.

I was led into emergency where I found Melanie grabbing her chest and gasping for air. Her wide eyes were filled with panic.

A mask was placed over Melanie’s face, and as she sucked in the steam and medication I felt her body begin to relax.

After the mask was removed Melanie’s eyes filled with tears, “I really missed you, Mom.”

“I missed you too, Sweety.” I held her close to me, and felt the tears spill onto my own cheeks.

Melanie was soon released from the hospital and decided that she wanted to come home instead of going back to camp that night. The asthma attack remains a bit of a mystery but seems to have been triggered from extreme excitement and exertion as well as smoke in the air from forest fires. The panic made things worse.

I’m so thankful for the camp director who drove Melanie to the hospital and to the camp nurse (my dear friend Miriam) who stayed with Melanie and offered her comfort and love. Most of all, I’m thankful that Melanie is fine now.

The truth is, things can always get worse. My lesson in all of these trials is to count my blessings—to realize that in spite of the difficulties, embarrassments, disappointments, and fears . . . my cup overflows.

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In my last post, I shared about our restaurant incident where Joel threw up—over and over again. (How long will it be before I feel safe in a restaurant again?) But that . . . was just the beginning of the story.

We drove across the road to our hotel and I went into the lobby to check-in. The receptionist handed me the key cards and told me where our room was. Just as I was headed out the door, I turned back. “Oh, can you tell me where the pool is?”

“I’m sorry, but the pool is closed for maintenance.”

Only 10 minutes earlier, our lovey dinner had turned into a nightmare and now the pool was closed too. “But we came here to go swimming,” I said. I was trying not to whine.

“I’m sorry, but the Four Seasons Pool is open until 9:00.”

I went back to the van and broke the news to the family. We contemplated going to the public pool, but there was only an hour before closing and it just wasn’t possible to get ourselves and six kids dressed and in and out of the pool in that time.

“What about going to another hotel?” Kevin asked.

“None of the other hotels will let us stay with six kids. Remember they told us not to come back to Esther’s Inn unless we get two rooms. That would cost a fortune and I don’t really want some of the kids in a separate room—do you?”

Kevin shook his head, “Let’s just go to the park.”

This whole scenario felt very familiar to me as we dove out of the parking lot. One year ago we’d taken our kids on a trip through the Rocky Mountains. I had told the kids, “We’re going to go to Fort Steele, and they have a real steam engine train that you can ride in!” But the train wasn’t running at the time so we skipped Fort Steele. Everyone was disappointed. “I’m so sorry you guys, but when we get to Jasper we’re going to ride in an air tram to the top of the mountain!”

But when we got to Jasper, we learned that there were no vacancies in any of the hotels. We went to the information centre and got a list of Bed and Breakfast accommodations and started calling. Nothing.

I rarely cry, but that did it. We’d missed the last air tram. There was nothing to do but keep on driving and arrive home in the middle of the night. I must have cried for two hours! It just hurt me so much that I’d broken my word to my kids.

Here I was again. I’d told the kids that we were going to Prince George to go swimming. During the whole 100 kilometre drive, the kids chattered excitedly about showing Daddy how they could swim and then I’d let them down—broken my word. It’s not your fault, I told myself. You can sit here and cry, or you can choose joy and go have fun with your kids. I chose joy.

The kids ran around, climbed on the monkey bars, pretended to drive the fire truck, flew down the slides, and played tag. “You’re it!” shouted Owen as he tapped me on the shoulder and gave me an impish grin.

I laughed and started chasing kids. We sprinted around the playground, tagging each other back and forth. I stopped when an elderly woman shot me a dirty look for nearly colliding with her.

We walked around the beautiful park and had a lovely evening. I snuck up to Kevin and whispered in his ear. “Can we go swimming at the public pool in the morning?”

“But we don’t have any towels.”

“Maybe I could borrow some from the hotel, or we could use Joel’s blankets.”

“Blankets?” Kevin raised his eyebrows at me and then smiled. “If it’s open in the morning we can go.”

I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. I had learned my lesson on not giving into disappointment and we would still get to go swimming!

I checked the pool’s schedule on my phone and it said they would be open at 9:00, so we told the kids we would get to go swimming after all and headed to the pool after breakfast.

The parking lot looked suspiciously empty as we pulled up to the pool. I ran to the door and gave it a pull, but it didn’t budge. I looked up at the schedule on the door. Closed.

“Sorry kids, but the pool is closed.” I can’t believe this! God, please help me to hold it together, I prayed. Joel started bawling as we drove out of the parking lot. I think everyone else felt like crying too.

We had some tension as we discussed going to the other pool in town. Kevin was just ready to go home. He’d had it. Besides we really didn’t like the other pool. I wanted to go, but not if he was going to be miserable.

We ended up driving across town to the other pool. We sat in the parking lot and waited for it to open. The tension was thick.

It turns out we did go swimming and we did have fun. The kids got to show their dad how they could swim, we floated in the “river,” and the kids scared me by jumping off of the diving board without a life jacket. (They actually can swim!)

At home later that day, Kevin gave me a hug. “Wow, that was a terrible trip,” he said while hanging his head on my shoulder. Sometimes all you can do is laugh. We did. :)

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Photo credit: spider

“Let’s get all our Saturday chores done today because we won’t be here tomorrow, kids.” I laughed as the children stormed me with questions.

“Are we going to stay in a hotel?” asked one.

“Are we going to go swimming?” shouted another.

“Yes. We didn’t tell you before because we didn’t want to disappoint you if it didn’t work out, but we’re going to stay in a hotel that has a pool and you guys can show Daddy how you can swim.”

The five oldest children had been taking swimming lessons and four had just learned to swim. They were bouncing with excitement and it was impossible to keep everyone calm, but we finally were able to get all our chores done and the van packed up.

We left soon after Kevin got home from work. It was a beautiful day. We were going to have a wonderful time. What could go wrong?

The children could probably count on one hand the times we’ve been away from home over night. Money has always been tight and travelling with six kids is never cheap. I’d found a hotel with a 2 bedroom family suite that was really quite affordable, though, and what was even better was that it had a pool and free breakfast. I was as excited as they were.

Our first stop was the White Spot for dinner. The kids all got pirate packs and we all laughed at Joel as he downed a huge cup of apple juice and even managed to get his brother to give him some of his pop. My kids drink water, so juice and pop are pretty exciting to this two-year-old.

Joel ate a pile of grapes and several chicken nuggets in the shapes of anchors and fish. He ate a couple of bites of his ice cream too.

“Look at his belly,” I said while giving it a little poke. It was looking pretty round. “Can Mama have your ice cream?” I rarely order dessert—watching those calories—but I’m not above eating what my kids don’t finish.

“No, my ice cream,” Joel said while pulling the dish towards himself.

“Okay, well eat it up.” I spooned some of the strawberry goo into his mouth.

He made a face and then a sound came from deep inside his throat. I watched in horror as he threw up into his pirate pack. The mess was contained so I wiped up his mouth and prayed that nobody saw that. I moved away the boat—too soon. He threw up again, this time all over his clothes. I snatched up all the napkins and mopped him up as quickly as I could.

My only thought at this point was to get this kid out of the restaurant. I unbuckled the seat and helped him stand. It happened again. And it was even worse because he was standing. Time stood still and it became dream like. No, nightmare like.

I turned to Kevin, “Get him out of here—now!”

I kid you not, the little guy puked at least five times! I trembled as I wandered around snatching unused napkins off of empty tables. A waitress brought me a cloth and I washed everything down, paid, and escaped.

Shame. Horror. Embarrassment. Guilt. Queasy. Yes, I was experiencing all of those feelings. Did I say embarrassment?

This story doesn’t really have a point except that sometimes parenting can be very, very humbling.

By the way, Joel wasn’t fazed. He was perfectly happy and energetic. It was his mother that took about an hour to stop shaking.

 

To be continued . . .

 

P.S. – This picture was taken about 30 minutes after “the incident.” I can’t even guess how many times he ran up the stairs and careened down that side. Definitely not suffering. :)IMG_2472[1]

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Photo credit: Grafiker

Yesterday, I went to the store to get milk and walked out with a 40 pound box of bananas. My husband tells me that I can’t just run into a store to get something. He’s right—I’m always scanning for a good deal.

I gave each of my boys a bowl and a utensil for mashing bananas and started peeling. (The girls were away for the day.) The perfect bananas went onto a pan to be frozen for later. The not-so-perfect ones got their bruises cut out and got mashed by the exuberant boys.

I got busy baking, and Joel (2 years old) “helped” by pouring baking soda into my muffin cups and all over the floor. What would I do without toddler help? ;)

My all-time favourite banana recipe is the “Banana Chocolate Chip Cake.” Actually this is my all-time favourite recipe—period. I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve baked this easy, moist, yummy cake.

So here it is. Enjoy!

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake

 

½ cup butter

1½ cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

1 cup mashed bananas

1/3 cup sour milk

1 cup chocolate chips (my recipe says these are optional, but, no—they’re not.)

 

Cream together butter and sugar, and stir in eggs and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Add bananas, sour milk and chocolate chips, and stir until mixed. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.

 

Many thanks to my good friend Abby for sharing this recipe with me many years ago.  :)

Photo credit: Eastop

Photo credit: Eastop

I know that you don’t often see the words obedience and exciting in the same sentence. Many would assume that a life devoted to serving God would be terribly dull. But I’m convinced that there is no greater adventure.

Like a faithful knight in times of old, when we surrender our will to the King of kings, we enter a life of purpose. Thoughts, words, deeds—all become significant. Suddenly, every challenge is a stepping stone to greater faith and usefulness.

Learning to see challenges—even pain—as God’s way of stretching me and making me grow, has changed my life. I used to run from discomfort until fear consumed me, but now I see a world of opportunity in my trials. If I’m not facing opposition or experiencing discomfort then I’m not growing or meeting my God-given potential.

It’s purpose that turns difficulties into adventures. Think of any great adventure story. If you took out the purpose—conquering a mountain, discovering new lands, saving the world—all you would have left is the pain. But when the purpose is great enough, then no trial is too difficult.

What is our purpose? To shine like lights in the dark universe. We are to show God to the world around us, to our children, spouses, parents, bosses, colleagues, even enemies. We are to use our gifts to bless others. We are to make the most of our time here.

What we do in this lifetime counts for all eternity…the ultimate adventure.

 

 

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

 

~Philippians 2:12-15

Photo credit: Marie

Photo credit: Marie

Eclipse

Photo credit: Havard

Photo credit: Havard

Seventeen years ago–half my life away–I wrote poetry in an effort to cope with the anguish in my soul. Today, my life is very, very different and I no longer write to survive. There have been times since then, though, that I desired to delve into poetry again. But I was afraid to go back there. The poems that I wrote were raw and full of angst. What would it be like to bare my soul again?

I have only written three or four poems since I was a hurting teenager, but it is something that I am ready to explore. I am eager to paint with vivid word pictures once again.

Here is one of my first attempts at free verse after a very long hiatus.

 


Eclipse

 

I was raised to be strong

Never give up

Never give in

Or cry

Strength was independence

Fierce, unyielding

A mask for the soul

 

We—the unbending—

Despised weakness

Where tears reveal pain

The open heart ready to surrender

It is easy to mock the uninitiated

 

Eclipse

Night and day momentarily combined

Strength made beautiful in frailty

Man of sorrows; King of kings

Damascus Light

Brings blindness—for a time—

 

In cocoon of darkness

The metamorphosis

Scales fall away to reveal

I am weak

But also strong—in Another—

 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made
perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

~1 Corinthians 12:9-10

iStock

Getty images

I’m a birth nut. I love everything about birth, and it’s not because I don’t know any better. I caught my first baby in my own hands, I delivered my second baby in a hotel room after a one hour labour, I birthed twins by Caesarean,  had a VBAC, and had a water birth with my last baby. I caught him too. When I shared my birth stories at a doula course, the instructor jokingly said that maybe I should be teaching the course.

Sometimes I find myself daydreaming  about triplets. After all, I’ve never had triplets before. What’s really funny is a friend’s mom—who hadn’t even met me—dreamt that I had triplets on her bed! People who don’t even know me know that I’m a birth nut.

And watch out—this birth addiction spreads. This same friend, who used to think that I was crazy and laughed at me when I talked about how beautiful birth is, just organized a meeting to discuss birth and shared about natural pain relief. Yep, she’s a birth nut now too.

There was a time (not too long ago) when I wanted 20 children. Seriously. There is nothing on this earth that I find as miraculous and world shaking as the birth of a child. I get the “birth high” so intensely, with all those endorphins coursing through my body, that I can barely sleep for three days after a birth.

My husband—because he loves me—agreed to having 6 children, but he’s really not up to 20. I decided to be thankful for the abundance I have and stop asking for babies. So what does a birth nut do when she stops having children? Becomes a doula of course!

A doula is a woman who supports a mother before, during, and after childbirth. Now that’s a job I can be passionate about! I had the awesome privilege of attending a friend’s labour as a doula almost two years ago. That beautiful experience will stay with me forever.

I’m so excited to be pursuing my doula certification once again! Anyone feel like getting pregnant so you can have me as a doula? ;)

 

 

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