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Archive for the ‘Looking Back’ Category

A Beautiful Legacy

Abby reading to Melanie and Myra

A few months ago we learned that a dear friend’s cancer had returned full force and that unless there was a miracle, she only had a short time to live. Abby had just come to see us—she’d lost little of her vibrancy. She was still pushing a heavy mower around the yard and canning food. It was hard to believe that she was dying. So hard to accept.

A month later we went to visit her. I brought some soup and sandwiches and we planned on a short visit so we didn’t tire her. It stunned us to see how weak she’d become in such a short amount of time. Abby had reclined in her chair while we visited. Her nausea made it impossible to keep food down.

She walked to the door when we left, leaning against the wall for support. I hugged her tightly and we cried together. This might be the last time I see her, I thought—and it was. I talked to her once more by phone. Her voice was raspy and weak, but she was still thankful—thankful for medication that took most of the pain away, thankful for the care of her daughters and the love of family and friends, thankful for a full life and good Saviour.

I knew Abby when I was a child. She played the organ at the little white church that my grandparents went to. She had a bright smile—especially for children. Her family moved away, but we reconnected when I became a mother.

In the spring of 2005 we moved to a cabin on the Day property in Vanderhoof while Kevin built us a house nearby. Before that time the Days were our friends, but in the seven months we lived with them they became family.

It was probably the most difficult season of my life. We had four children under 5 in a 16’x16’ cabin. My youngest two children were six-month old twins with undiagnosed allergies. I often only got three hours of sleep a night. But it was also a season with some of my best memories. I got to be on the receiving end of Abby’s servant heart.

Our family of six had supper in their home three times a week. We bathed in their home. Abby’s son, Josh, helped to build our house, and Abby did our laundry.

She didn’t have a dryer, so she hung all of our laundry by hand on a wooden rack that she hoisted with ropes and pulleys where it could dry out of the way.  Every week Abby washed our clothes, folded them, and returned them to me with a beautiful smile on her face.

Many afternoons, my children and I would join the Days for their afternoon tea time. We’d sit in their bright kitchen and enjoy Bengal Spice tea and hot-out-of the oven molasses bread smeared with butter. It was a time of great conversation and lots of laughter.

Abby loved my children like they were grandchildren. She enjoyed them and spoke with love to them. She would take them into her lap and read to them. I found myself emulating her in tone. Being around her made me kinder and more patient as a mother.

Soon after we moved into our own house, the Days moved to Prince George. But Abby and I continued our friendship. We didn’t talk on the phone often, but when we did it was always for well over an hour. And she never stopped encouraging me. Every time we talked she shared relevant Bible verses and gave me some deeper insight into relating to my growing family.

It’s impossible to know just how much Abby’s gentle spirit, encouragement, and example has impacted my life as a mother, daughter, sister, wife, and friend, but I know that her influence has permeated my life in every area.

Today I came across a picture that spoke to my soul. It’s called ‘Life Within Death.’ It’s a Chinese lantern—the flower must die for the fruit to grow. Even after the fruit is ripe, the dried flower still encases it.

Even though Abby has left this life to be with her Father in heaven, her legacy lives on in her children, her friends, and the countless people that she ministered to.

We love you always, Abby.

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“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls

into the ground and dies it remains alone; but if it dies it produces much grain.”

~Matthew 12:24

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Drawing credit: Cieleke

Do you break dishes weekly? Burn yourself every time you use the oven? Find large bruises and not know where they come from? I feel your pain, friend. I’ve been there.

I remember one year that was especially full of injuries. I was six or seven at the time. It started with jumping on my parent’s bed with my little brother. I always get carried away. I tripped over Dan and smacked my forehead on the headboard.

I reached up and touched the sticky wound. It didn’t hurt until I crawled up onto the bathroom counter and saw the blood all over my face. I was screaming so loud when we got to the hospital, that the doctor decided to apply a butterfly bandage instead of stitches. Yes, that is the scar that you see in the middle of my forehead.

My folly is that I don’t learn from pain. It’s so quickly forgotten.

We went to the circus a couple of months later, and I was entranced by the woman on the trapeze. Effortlessly she swung from a bar high above the sandy floor. I held my breath when she gracefully hung by one hand, her legs splayed, toes pointed out. She tipped her head back and held on by her teeth as she gently twirled.

I never was one to play princess. I would be a circus girl. I would soar on a trapeze.

I shimmied up the rope that held our tire swing, grabbed a hold of the other end of the rope with my teeth and hung there spinning. I imagined I was soaring through the air on a swing high above a crowd. I fell.

That was my first broken arm of the summer. You’d think that one would be enough.

There are rumours that I broke my other arm when I jumped out of the fort with an umbrella. I don’t deny the Mary Poppins impersonation—but that’s not when I broke my arm. I was just climbing the ladder when I was distracted by a squirrel. I missed the rung and ended up making another run to the hospital with my harried parents.

Apparently three trips to emergency in half a year warranted my parents being sent out of the room while I was questioned about abuse. I don’t remember the conversation, but I must have passed the interrogation.

 

Fast forward two decades, and I was still injuring myself daily. I would burn myself while cooking or jump down onto ice and fall and hit my head. I have a cracked tooth where I smacked my cup against it every single day.

My husband had enough when we moved into our new house and I fell down the stairs three times. I had bruises from my ribs almost down to my knees. “You start paying attention and stop hurting yourself!” Kevin’s voice was tight with worry.

My twins were 25 pounds each at the time. I packed those babies up and down the stairs several times a day—and I never once fell when I was carrying them. I realized that I was careful with my babies, but not careful when it was just me.

I decided to try caution—more to put Kevin at ease than anything, but it worked. I’d tell myself, “Pay attention. Don’t fall,” while I walked down the stairs. I learned to move my cup slowly towards my mouth instead of whamming it into my teeth.

I know this sounds ridiculous to most of you, but some of us are born with our heads in the clouds, and it takes conscious effort to learn a little caution and care.

I’m proud to say that I can’t remember when I last broke a dish, and when I have a bruise—I usually know where it came from. Small successes, but successes none the less. If I can do it, so can you.

Have a fantastic—and safe—weekend!

❤ Rachel

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Is this Normal?

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Ten years ago, I brought two babies into the world. I prayed for twins and got them. The sense of fullness and completeness I felt as I held a baby in each arm is indescribable.

From the very start Ethan and Owen were completely different in their personalities and yet they’ve always got along beautifully. Even as babies they would look out for one another.

You can believe it when people say that twins are double the trouble, though. Together, those little munchkins could do anything. If they couldn’t reach something, then one would lay down so the other could climb on top. I’m serious! But they’ve been double the blessing too. I don’t regret praying for twins.

We had all the usual birthday stuff today: balloons, fruit faces (see Birthday Crazies ), presents. The kids even convinced me that they should have a day off of school and watched a movie instead.

When Kevin got home from work, he called me outside to see the helium balloons in the back of his work truck. He sheepishly told me that the balloons were cheaper if you bought the theme pack. There were two round spider-man balloons, two red stars, and one awesomely cool—and massive—spider-man shaped balloon.

Somehow the biggest balloon got away from the others, and Kevin and I stared stupidly at each other for a moment as the ribbon slipped out of reach. We watched the balloon spiral in awkward loops as it rose over the house.

Suddenly, Kevin sprinted towards the house. “I’m going to shoot it down!” he yelled back at me.

I followed him and called to the kids. “Come outside quick and see the spider-man balloon that’s floating away!” Everyone stormed outside, and we watched the balloon soaring higher and higher into the sky as their Dad tried to shoot it down.

I don’t even make this stuff up. My life really is this hilarious.

After dinner, my sugar high kids turned out the lights and ran around in the dark with glow sticks. Then the boys found out that the sticky hands and hex bugs that they got for their birthday were glow-in-the-dark too. The wild mayhem lasted and hour, and I laughed the whole time.

Yeah. My job rocks. 🙂

 

Is it any wonder people thought I had two sets of twins?

Is it any wonder people thought I had two sets of twins?

 

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I sat down with a photo album this morning to look for a picture for this week’s “glimpse.” It is the very first album I made and shows my marriage and pregnancy and my new little baby. Looking at the pictures vividly brought back the emotions of that time—my wonder, joy, fear.

What an intense time of discovery! It made me remember how hard those first years can be. I wanted to be a good mom more than anything, so I read every book on parenting that I could get my hands on. The “experts” disagreed on almost all points, and the more I read the more I doubted my ability to be the mother I longed to be.

Many people say that things get a lot easier with the third baby, but my third baby came with a twin brother! So my first six years as a mom were difficult, but as I look through the pictures I realize how sweet they were too.

Here is a picture taken during the first year of being a new mom. Has it really been thirteen years?

Blessings!

❤ Rachel

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Petting Lions

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This was me at four with my mom, little brother, and a lion cub.  🙂

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