Friday, January 1, 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Packing-Up and Saying Good-Bye to 2015

My theme verses for 2015 were found in Isaiah 43:18-19

"(God says:)  Forget about what's happened:
don't keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present.  I'm about to do something brand-new.
It's bursting out?  Don't you see it? . . . .
There it is!  I'm making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands." (MSG)

As I look back on the past year, I can honestly say that I did not always hold to the promise of hope depicted in the above passage.  I didn't always "forget" what's happened.  I did continue to "go over old history".  I wasn't always alert.  I wasn't always present.  I didn't always look for the "brand-new" that God was "bursting out" to me.  And sadly, I didn't always "see it".  I didn't see the "road through the desert", or  the "rivers in the badlands".

I actually spent much of the year in despair, especially the second-half of it.  I didn't always feel hopeful, and I definitely didn't always feel like I was trusting that God's plan was better than what I ultimately had in mind for myself, my family, my friends, my co-workers, the world, etc.  This year has left me with many unanswered questions, but lately I've been reminded to continue to trust, despite my sinful nature to become suspicious of God, unable to trust that He really knows what He's doing in the lives of those closest to me, as well as His plan and purposes for every human being on earth.

People in my world and outside the borders of my own existence have suffered huge losses this year.  There have been unexplained deaths and unexpected diagnosis . . . failed marriages and failed churches . . . struggling friendships and bad choices leading to serious consequences . . . an estranged child and a mother who is somehow trying to be everything but somehow feels like she is nothing in the process . . . the underlying heaviness that is being carried around due to unresolved issues from the past . . . a world divided due to core belief systems . . . and a world so desperately in need of a saviour . . .  . . . the list could go on and on, and some of what is noted above is about me personally--some of it is not, but I am somehow connected to it all in one way or another.

I arrived at December 18th, my last actual work day of 2015, and after getting home from work and opening my gifts from my students and co-workers with my boys, I crashed on the couch and stayed there for two hours until Wayne came home from work.  I was literally to the point of being unable to move when he saw me lying there.  The supper hour had come and gone and I had no ability to get off the couch.  With the hope of celebrating the end of another school session, Wayne suggested that we abandon my plans for supper at home and try out a restaurant in the town next to ours.  Somehow I was able to drag myself off the couch and get somewhat refreshed.  We all piled into my husband's truck.  The supper was delicious and I was hugely relieved to not have the responsibility of cooking a meal that evening.

Fast-forward to the last day of 2015 and I will say that the past 13 days have allowed me to revitalize myself so that I am ready to embark on the next adventure in school for myself in terms of my job, as well as for the next segment of school that my boys attend.  God has been reminding me for the past several weeks, in various ways (to get my attention, I'm sure), that I need to rest.  Tomorrow I will reveal my theme verse for 2016 and I'll give you a clue . . . it has to do with the very concept of resting and being still.

For the sake of keeping track of my own little world, the following is a season-by-season synopsis of what happened in my life in 2015 . . . at least of what I can remember.  I know I've missed something, but this is the best I can conjure up.   I'll try to focus on the positive, with a little does of reality as it may be necessary from time-to-time.

January - March 2015

The end of Mitchell's first semester for grade ten occurred at the end of January, and he finished it off with stellar marks!  He began his next semester and had to do extra assignments for the first two weeks of February so that he could attend a missions trip.   Mitchell attended SOAR for ten days in February, a missions trip that took place right in our very own city!  He and a group of seven other youth and youth leaders from our church embarked on a mission to serve and minister in the city closest to where we live.  It was a very eye-opening experience for Mitchell and this really encouraged spiritual growth in him.

At the end of March we celebrated the first birthday of our puppies, Vimy and Juno!  Following their birthday, they both had the unpleasant gift of being transformed into "altered females", as the vet now notes their gender in their files.



April - June 2015

April consisted of some tricky end-of-winter weather to contend with, but my highlight for the month was attending and speaking at my future niece-in-law's bridal shower.  She married my nephew at the end of May, and it was a joy to celebrate this occasion with my nephew, new niece-in-law, sister and extended family.  Speaking some words of encouragement at the bridal shower was an honour and delight.  Helping with the wedding preparations was one of the highlights of 2015 for me.

Being silly at the Wedding Photo Booth

All dressed up for the wedding!

In May I was also given the amazing opportunity to speak to a group of women at a friend's church.  My topic was "Grace in the Home" and it was a unique opportunity to share about my trials and triumphs with step-parenting and parenting and overcoming the challenges of transforming my legalistic mindset into the mindset of grace-based living.  That's my talk in a nutshell, but in all reality I spoke for almost 30 minutes to these women--another highlight for me in 2015.

At the end of May, Mitchell was able to be part of a performance to a group of young men fighting addictions.  Mitch played his djembe (hand-held drum) while his youth pastor and the youth pastor's father sang and played their guitar and fiddle.  Because the facility was male-only, I was not able to be there for the performance, but Mitchell was very blessed by this opportunity.  While Mitchell was embarking on that adventure, Wayne and Ty got to spend the weekend together with other men and teenage boys from our church on a fishing trip.  Ty and Wayne had a great time together and I was so thankful for this opportunity they were given.

June brought about one of my favourite events of the year--Mitchell's and Ty's annual drum recital!  I love hearing them perform.  They both did an excellent job.  June is also Ty's birthday month, and it is always fun celebrating the day this amazing teenager was born.  In 2015 Tyrone turned 14, and in true Star Wars fan fashion, the cake I made for him was a storm trooper head.

Happy 14th Birthday, Ty!

June wrapped-up another school year for us all, and my boys did very well with their online school courses.

July - September 2015

July began with very hot and dry weather.  The crops in our prairie world were looking very bleak.  Finally, rain arrived and I think all-in-all, considering the lack of precipitation in early spring and early summer, the fields in our area produced better than expected.  Summer brought the anticipation of Mitchell's longest stint at camp for a summer yet.  His original plan was to attend staff training, work for 2 weeks as a junior counselor and work 4 weeks in a Work Crew program that the camp offers for teenagers.  In total he completed half of those assignments, due to illness and another major life change that happened for our extended family as a whole.  The description of that event follows.

The second week of July my parents announced that they were planning to sell their house in the small town where I grew up and move into the city.   To make a long story short, the summer in which I was anticipating a leisurely two-months of relaxation, turned into the summer of preparing for, selling and moving my parents into their new home.  The sale of the house took place very quickly, and with the much-needed and appreciated help of my five siblings, we managed to get our parents moved out and settled into their new place by the end of September.  They now live only 35 minutes from me and I travel mostly on pavement to visit them, whereas before it was a 50 minute trip on mostly gravel roads.  They seem to have made the transition into city-living with success, and I'm very grateful that the changes mostly took place during the months of July and August when I was off work.  I cannot imagine what it would have been like to go through the process of selling their house, finding an alternate place for them to live, plus moving them during a season in which I was working.  That would have been brutal.

Because Mitchell was away at camp a lot of the summer, Tyrone and I got to have a lot of one-on-one time.  That was wonderful.  Wayne had two weeks off at the beginning of August and we got some renovation projects completed, since the "moving my parents" mode during those two weeks was pretty laid-back right then.  Ty and I took a trip to another province with my sister and my niece to visit another sister and her family.  It was great to get away and literally do what felt like "nothing" for a few days-- nothing but eat, relax and play games.  Those were probably the most relaxing days of my entire summer.

Our renovated kitchen

I came off of my summer not feeling as rested and recuperated as I should have.  This brought me into the crazy month of September with limited physical and emotional resources, and I literally felt like I was drowning in my own life.  My workload at school came with the awesome responsibility of teaching five grade two students, whom I love dearly.  However, working with students who claim English as their second language is not always easy.  I ended the month of September feeling like I hadn't really made any progress with them at all, but I am happy to report that as the fall continued and turned into winter, my students have made major progress and it's hard to believe they are the same kids who entered my "learning space" only a few months ago . . . 

September brought challenge for my boys as well, since they had to get into their own rhythm of balancing schedules in correlation to their online school work, and we all struggled to get back into the groove.  Mixed into this was my parents' official "moving day", church issues, friendship challenges, family birthdays, integration of a new dog into our home (we inherited my parents' dog, Billy, whom we love and adore), financial strain, vehicle problems, my leadership of a women's prayer support group, and a plethora of other run-of-the-mill day-to-day activities.  I was so glad when the end of September arrived.

The newest addition to our family . . . a Bichon Frise named Billy!

Billy's mom, our dog, Alaska

However, there were some highlights from the month and the two main ones were Mitchell's 16th birthday as well as another performance by him and his youth pastor (repeat performance of what he did in May).  This performance was held at our church and we were all able to attend.  It was a wonderful concert and I was so proud of Mitchell's participation in this event.  Sadly, the same day, he took his driver's test, and failed by three points.  That was hard for him---to come off of a disappointment that huge and then having to perform with a servant heart only a few hours later.  However, he did it and came out feeling less defeated by the end of the day than he might have had he not been performing.

Happy 16th Birthday, Mitchell!

One other exciting thing that stemmed from the summer and found its way into my fall and early winter is a prayer support group I started for myself and 6 other women in my life.  This group initially began as a study and prayer group, but our need for prayer has forced it into becoming a sharing and praying group instead.  We meet bi-monthly, but we have access to each other on a minute-by-minute basis thanks to modern technology.  I've created a system through Facebook by which we can ask for prayer, encourage with words, and give updates on our lives between the times we meet in each others homes.  This summer I felt a strong prompting by the Holy Spirit to begin this group.  There are times I wish I would have said no to this prompting, because it has taken a lot out of me emotionally and spiritually.  However, I think that it is because of my responsibility to these women and praying for them and the many needs they have, I have been able to focus more on others and less on myself and my own problems.  These women have blessed my socks off and I don't know what I'd do without them.

October - December 2015

While I thought October would be somewhat less busy, I was wrong.  It wasn't.  However, we seemed to have adjusted to our regular routines by the time October arrived, which made me have less days where I felt like I was drowning.  I previously mentioned that we had vehicle issues, and thankfully, Wayne and I were both able to trade-in our older vehicles for newer and better ones.  I am now the owner of a red Toyota Yaris sedan, and Wayne has a Toyota Tacoma truck.  Both of these vehicles are using less fuel that our previous ones did, so we're already ahead financially just by that sheer fact.  I'm enjoying my car much more than my SUV, and Wayne's smaller truck is serving him well in comparison to the larger truck he had previously.  And speaking of driving, Mitchell was able to obtain his driver's license in October, with a score of zero.  You can imagine how validated he felt after failing one month prior.  He's driven several times on his own, and I'm slowly but surely learning to "let go and trust God" for Mitchell's safety.  It's hard to be the mom of a 16-year old boy.  

November brought the opportunity for the boys to attend a youth retreat for a weekend with their youth group, and during this time I was blessed with having a five-day break from my job at school.  It think after having that many days off in a row and allowing myself to take a break while the boys were gone, gave me the resurgence of energy and restoration I needed in order to see myself through until the Christmas holidays.  While the boys were at their retreat I read an entire book and watched four movies.  Wayne and I actually went on a date.  I honestly felt more rejuvenated after that five-day break in November than I did after the entire summer holidays.

This brings us to December and the close of another year.  In December we've been able to participate in a lovely evening of comedic Christmas entertainment at our church with Phil Callaway; participate in a youth Christmas dinner; attend a fundraising event for the Bible camp we support; engage in family gatherings and school activities with my students; plus spend part of our Christmas Eve at our church with fellow believers, reflecting on the amazing story of Jesus' birth.  I spent most of that service in tears--some tears were of gratitude, some were of sadness, and a few were of joy.  But being there gave me the opportunity to release much of the emotion I had been allowing to "pile up" over the past few months prior to the Christmas season.  It felt good to release it.

Overall, I will say that the highlight of the year for us as a family was taking on our church's challenge to read through the Bible in a year.  We chose to do this as a joint effort, so every night after supper in the year 2015 (as much as possible), we grouped together in our living room to read passages from the Bible--many that I had forgotten about--many that were once somewhat insignificant to me have now gained more significance--many that brought certain perspective at just the right time for us in 2015.  Sometimes our reading felt chore-like and mundane, but I think that is normal when you take on such a challenge.  Reading Leviticus aloud is painstaking.  Reading Song of Solomon aloud to your teenage boys is a unique experience.  The prophetic books can also become tedious to read aloud.  However, we did it.  We made it through and I think we were all encouraged and blessed by this challenge.  My new favourite book of the Bible is Esther.  I love how God used her precisely, at just the right time, to fulfill His purposes for His people. 

I can look back at this year and say that I've grown.  Sometimes the growing has been painful.  There are many individual experiences that I so badly wanted to write about here on this blog in 2015, but the issues of time and privacy would not permit me to do so.  My heart has ached and has been torn this year.  My heart has also been made fuller by the many blessings and joys I've been able to experience.

Christmas 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

For Unto Us

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


For the first time in 18 years of married life, I am not sending out an actual physical Christmas card.  So instead you get to see the picture I intended to use for the cards . . . Merry Christmas from my family to you and yours!!!!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Today's Facebook Status Update

      4 months later and I'm still standing . . . it's been a different sort of a fall/early winter for me, both work-wise and life-wise. I'm exhausted. However, I'm happy and relieved to say that for the moment, the formal education component of 2015 is over. We ended 2015 at the Col*ony by having the students present a concert of songs for the moms, indulging in a buffet of snacks supplied by the moms, receiving gifts from the moms (I now own a Hutt*erite rug:)), having great conversations with the moms (they were literally beckoning for me to join them at their "tables", which were actually desks), and receiving a declaration of love from one of my students . . . I always had a suspicion he loved me. Now I know it's true because I've got it in writing. Upon arriving home and unwrapping all of my gifts with the help of my boys, Wayne informed me that we'd be going out for supper. That was the highlight of my day--spending time with my own family. My tired heart is full and I feel so blessed to do what I do.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

two out of four

It's been a challenging four months, but 2 out of 4 people living in our household are officially "on holidays"!!!!  Today my boys completed all of their required assignments for 2015 . . . I have two more days of work left and Wayne has five . . . then we will all get some well-deserved R & R!

Today I will declare the following to be thankful for:
1.  The minds of my children.
2.  The mind of my husband.
3.  The fact that I have not lost my own mind this fall/winter.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hope in the Darkness

"Jesus whispers there is always hope. It doesn't matter how dark the dark is, a light can still dawn." ~Ann Voskamp

Friday, December 11, 2015

Peter's Perspective

The picture and post below appeared in my Facebook news feed yesterday.  When I saw the picture and read the caption I was immediately overwhelmed by the truth depicted.  Lately I've been feeling like I'm "drowning", which probably explains the profound impact on my soul. I hope you are encouraged by this as well. 

"Save Me - The Hand of God" by Yongsung Kim

I love this picture of the Savior from Peter's perspective. Often times we lose our faith in Christ and begin to sink in desperation. We must never ever forget that we have never sunken too far from our Savior's grasp of redeeming love. He is always reaching for us even when we aren't reaching for Him.    (Ernie Haase and Signature Sound)

Hopefully I'll be able to write some more posts this weekend . . . until then, God Bless You!

P.S.  Thanks to my sister, Connie, who got me information on the name of the artist and picture.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Spotlight on Mitchell - Part 2

Mitchell recently won a contest at the online school he attends.  The challenge was for the high school students to attempt to write the best limerick.  He submitted four entries . . . we're not sure which one got him the win, but he was granted a $20 i-tunes gift card for one of the limericks that follow.  You can decide which one is worthy of a prize.

I know a man who likes cheese,
He very rarely says please,
His wife was annoyed,
With all of his ploys,
So now all she feeds him is peas.

I have a brother named Ty,
He is a pretty swell guy,
He loves to fish,
It's always his wish,
To catch the biggest walleye.

There once was a curious goat,
he decided to jump in a moat,
he journeyed along,
current so strong,
Luckily he knew how to float.

I once met a pilot named Han,
He rarely created a plan,
He never flew solo,
Smuggling his cargo,
With only his right hand man.

Another ELA 20 poetry assignment was to write a Haiku.  Here is Mitchell's creation:

Autumn colors shine,
Leaves are falling from the trees.
Leafless they will stand.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Spotlight on Mitchell - Part 1

Since I've showcased one of Tyrone's ELA poetry assignments here, I thought I'd share some of Mitchell's work as well.  The following is a poem he had to write for his poetry unit back in September 2015.  He was to write about his childhood or a particular memory, including a specific rhyme scheme.  Here is his poem:

Brothers Till the Very End
~Mitchell Arendt~
My childhood was filled with many blessings
The biggest was my family.
I'd like to talk about my brother--
I couldn't ask for any other.

We share many great memories, he and I--
Some good and some bad,
But most of them are good
And I would write all about them if I could.
There aren't enough words
to tell how much he means to me--
He's funny, caring and nice
And I often ask him for advice.

I love my brother
Very, very much.
He's my best friend--

We're bothers till the very end.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


I am feeling a bit lost these days . . . lost in the never-ending schedule that I have created for myself.  I take complete ownership for the craziness I subject myself to each and every day, and I blame only myself for the nights where I do not get enough sleep.

I am really looking forward to my two-week break from work during the Christmas holidays.  I spent a large part of this past weekend either shopping for Christmas, planning for the next three weeks of school, running errands or cooking/baking and doing laundry for my family.  All of these activities in-and-of-themselves I do not mind.  However, when they are jumbled into a busy weekend and where "Black Friday" has somehow made its way into Canada, it's just been a bit too much for me to handle.  I had two appointments in the city on Friday and as much as I can help it, I will never again go to the city on a Black Friday.

This morning I witnessed my best friend's daughter take a step of faith in baptism.  It was a beautiful reminder to me of God's goodness in the life of a believer despite crappy circumstances. This 13-year-old girl, her three sisters and her mom (my best friend) have been through a lot in the past year.  However, the testimony of this young teenager really encouraged me to sojourn on, even when life is tough.

After the service, a friend of mine came to share some words of encouragement with me.  She said I've been on her heart and mind this week and that she's been praying for me.  She also shared a verse with me about "being still".  Stillness.  Yes.  That is what I hope for.  It takes every ounce of my effort to remain still . . . especially when it seems like life is so chaotic.  I know I contribute to that chaos by some of my own choices, but much of my chaos has been created by the simple fact that I live in a fallen world.

It is so easy to get trapped into negative thinking these days. Immediately following the crisis in Paris, I posted verses of hope and proclamations of God's power on my Facebook account, with the intention of speaking words of God's truth into the lives of my friends.  I'm not sure if anyone actually noticed that I had a theme going on, and honestly, it doesn't matter if they did or didn't.  I wanted to combat all the fear I was sensing with the promise of God's ultimate power and control over this world that HE created and over the very people that HE loves.

So here I sit a week later, and I am feeling very depleted and worn. I have fears.  My fears are not about whether or not I'm going to be bombed or threatened by terrorists.  That doesn't scare me as much as the future of the people whom I love.   I remind myself to be still and to trust in the most powerful and all-knowing ONE.  I lift up my fears to God . . . ask Him to take them from me . . . turn my hands over . . . and drop my hands with a sense of relief.  And I will do it all over again tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mother of Boys

Mitchell (L) and Ty (R) . . . from another decade!
(I think this is from September 2007)

Ty (L) and Mitchell (R) . . . Summer 2015

I recently linked to an article on Facebook called, "10 Things Only Boy Moms Understand".  It is hilarious . . . probably because it is SO TRUE!

I read the article aloud to my family last night and we were all laughing our heads off.

I love being the mom of boys, and whether you have boys or not, you will probably find the article very entertaining.

Follow this link to read it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

He's a Poet and He Didn't Know It

My son Ty loathes ELA (English-Language Arts).  This year in particular, ELA is not fun for him at all.  Part of his class assignments have included writing short stories and poems, which he would likely rank in the top 5 things he would rather not do in a day.

This week his assignment was to "write a poem, 6 - 12 lines long about a particular emotion or experience of his choice."  He chose to write about his dog, Vimy, and I love what he wrote.  He gave me permission to share it on my blog.  I wanted to post it to Facebook but he denied me that request.  I assured him that my blog readership is basically a handful of people, so it will have little exposure.  With his assignment he also included a picture of himself with Vimy the day he got her, and I've included that here as well.  The last component of his assignment was to recite his poem and submit the voice recording to his teacher for evaluation.  I'm sure that was his least favourite part, and there's no way he'd give permission for me to include that on my blog, so you'll have to just read it for yourself . . .


When I got my puppy I wasn’t really sure
Which one to pick, with what colour of fur;
The puppy I chose really picked me.
She was soft and black and I named her Vimy.
On the ride home she sat on my lap;
I hugged her and loved her until we got back.
She seemed really happy to come to my home,
And I felt the same—that she was my own.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Reason to Sing

I love the discovery of new music to add to my repertoire. Admittedly, most of my music preferences consist of Christian contemporary or worship genres.  But that's what inspires me. That's what encourages me.  It's music from this genre that brings more of God's character into full view for me.  Personally, I would feel dead without music in my life.  There is music constantly playing in my home and car.  One of the least favourite things about my workplace is that I cannot have "my music" playing in the background while I teach.  So instead, I play the music in my head.

Over the last several months I've been enjoying the music of a group called All Sons and Daughters. Their songs are heartfelt and meaningful.  And the cool thing is that I've actually seen them live in concert.  They were the pre-concert artists performing with Chris Tomlin back in 2012.  
In the past year our church has begun to sing some of their songs during our Sunday morning worship.  However, I initially did not recognize their music as All Sons and Daughters.  One Sunday I took note of the songwriter credited with the words displayed on our church walls, Googled the name and realized it was one of the performers from All Sons and Daughters who had written the song. And so began my exploration of their music--so began my deep appreciation for them.

Today I leave you with lyrics and a You-Tube link to one of their songs, entitled "Reason to Sing".  These lyrics resonate so much with me and are a true reflection of my own heart the last while.

Reason to Sing - All Sons and Daughters

When the pieces seem too shattered
To gather off the floor
And all that seems to matter
Is that I don't feel you anymore
No I don't feel you anymore
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You're still holding
The whole world in Your hands
I need a reason to sing
When I'm overcome by fear
And I hate everything I know
If this waiting lasts forever
I'm afraid I might let go
I'm afraid I might let go
Oh Oh Oh
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You're still holding
The whole world in Your hands
I need a reason to sing
Will there be a victory
Will You sing it over me now
Your peace is the melody
You sing it over me now
Oh Lord
Your peace is the melody
You sing it over me now
I need a reason to sing
I need a reason to sing
I need to know that You're still holding
The whole world in your hands
That is a reason to sing

Friday, October 30, 2015

Such is Life

I believe this blog needs to be resurrected.  I wish I had more time to write, but alas, I haven't made writing much of a priority, and to be perfectly honest, I miss writing here.  I have never been one to write for the purpose of an "audience" and believe me, I appreciate the fact that there are still possibly people who would actually return to reading my posts if I were to ever start writing consistently again; however, my purpose for writing is to help me process life and if that processing encourages someone else, then I am doubly thankful for the ability to write.

I've been going through a very strange season in life.  It is a season that I wasn't really expecting, but by God's grace I am making it through. Just when I feel like I'm able to breathe again, life takes another unexpected turn, or maybe it isn't life that does the turning, but rather, me--my mind, my emotions and my method of processing what is happening in my world.

I'd love to share more on here and I hope that the month of November will provide me with some opportunities to just let my fingers type the words that are etched on my heart and in my mind.  Perhaps if I'd set a small goal for November to just write one post a week, I wouldn't feel so defeated when what I'd rather be doing is having the ability to write daily.

I will say this, though.  The inability to write here is primarily due to lack of time, and that's not a bad thing.  My days are spent teaching my students, teaching my children, and tending to my family.  Those aren't bad time-consumers, but little time is left at the end of a busy day, and with that, even less energy seems to exist in my physical state.  Over the last several months I really feel like my age is showing itself.  I hate that.  My body just can't seem to keep up with what my mind wants to do and that creates a vicious cycle of an unproductive human being.

Don't hold your breath, but I plan to do some writing next weekend while my boys are both away at a youth retreat.  Hopefully some of that writing will actually makes it onto the pages of this blog. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

To Bake a Cake or Not Bake a Cake? That is the Question . . .

Yes . . . this could have been a picture of me this week, but I would have been 
wearing a tank-top, not a bikini top . . . 
there's even a Diet Coke depicted--wow, this artist knows me so well.  :)
(photo courtesy of

It's been VERY hot here this past week.  We have no air-conditioning in our house, so I use a strategy that I learned from my parents when I was growing up:  Open windows at night.  Close windows (and blinds and curtains) during the day.  Opening the windows at night lets the cool air in and circulates it through the house, since temperatures at night are typically lower than they are during the day; Closing windows (as soon as the sun hits them is my method) traps in the cool air.  With the addition of oscillating fans and ceiling fans, we've managed to keep our house at a similar temperature to that of people having A/C in their homes.  The other thing we do is turn on our summer fan on the furnace, which draws cool air up from the basement and circulates it through our registers.  So, for the most part we've had relief from the outdoor temperatures because we've managed to keep our house fairly cool. 

One morning last week I woke up to find my thermostat reading 13 degrees Celsius!  That's pretty cold; however, I knew that later in the week and into the weekend, the forecast said we'd be having temperatures in the mid 30's.  So, for the sake of keeping the house cool to prepare for heat later in the week, we opted to dress warmer on Monday and Tuesday.  I even did a little bit of baking on the mornings when I was feeling like an ice-cube.  The baking only increased the temperature by about 2 to 3 degrees during the day, so it was still much cooler in the house than it was outside.

Fast-forward to yesterday.  It was Saturday night, and after two days +36 degrees Celsius, the house was beginning to feel the effects of the external temperature creeping its way into our house.  Not to mention, we've had zero precipitation for well over 4 weeks, and if you saw my lawn right now you'd understand why it looks so incredibly brown.  I've been focusing on keeping my outdoor flowerbeds and plants happy, but since we live on 17 acres of property, it's impossible to water the grass as well, just for the sake of keeping it green.

Last night, as per our usual routine, we opened all the windows in hopes of drawing in some cooler air overnight.  Then three of us woke-up to banging and clanging and thunder and lightning and a very fast downpour of rain.  Unbelievable to me, Ty actually slept through the storm.  Three of us got out of bed to assess the damage--two screens blown out of their windows . . . water in places it shouldn't be, and the realization that our downspouts on the eavestroughs were not in place.  Wayne had to run out in the middle of the night to pull the downspouts into position to prevent flooding in our basement; Mitchell and I scattered throughout the house to replace screens and close windows.  This was around 1:00 a.m., so the windows were closed the rest of the night in order to prevent further damage and wetness creeping into the house.

When I got up this morning around 7:00 a.m., the house was HOT and HUMID (some of my least favourite words).  It was already 21 degrees Celsius outside, and due to the fact that our windows had not been open for most of the night, our house felt much warmer than it usually does first thing in the morning.  We are now only a few degrees away from our internal house temperature matching the temperature of the outdoors.  Thankfully we are no longer sitting in the mid 30's outside . . . just the high 20's, but for me, that's hot enough.  Actually, that's too hot.  I am hoping and praying that tonight we will have some reprieve and our "open windows" technique works so that we can get the temperature down in the house again.

So, what does this have to do with the title of my post about baking cake?  Well, I love baking, and I really, really wish I could bake a cake right now.  But I can't.  It would heat the kitchen up way too much, and since my kitchen faces south, I'm already fighting a battle for keeping it cool without the addition of turning on my oven.  So, I made Chocolate Macaroons instead, which don't require baking.  I only needed to use the top of the stove for about 3 minutes, and now I can at least eat something chocolaty to satisfy my craving.  What I really want is a chocolate cake or brownies, but that will have to wait for a day that's cooler.

Chocolate Macaroons
photo courtesy of

Here's something fun and interesting to help you decide whether or not to bake a cake today, or any day for that matter . . . Enjoy!

And, finally, for deciding whether to start:

Friday, July 10, 2015

Facebook Status Update for Friday, July 10, 2015

So, sometimes I write a whole bunch of random stuff on Facebook to sum-up my week . . . This was today's status update, and I thought I'd share it here too, since some of my blog readers are not Facebook users:

"Random thoughts from the week--I would rather have -36 degrees C than +36 degrees C . . . especially when precipitation is lacking; spending time one-on-one-with my youngest son, Tyrone has been awesome--thanks to him for making what could have been a very mundane week so much fun; speaking of mundane weeks, I did not leave our property for four days in a row, and that was extremely refreshing . . . not mundane at all, and I'm not sure when the last time was that even happened; when it comes to television shows, Project Runway rocks my world; Mitchell has been missed greatly, but it helps me to know that he is doing ministry for God at camp, and that's ultimately what really matters; my husband is working so hard for us in this heat, and when he comes home from work he still makes time for his family, even though I'm sure he'd rather hibernate in the cool basement; my dogs all make me SO happy; I'm enjoying my flowers and yard this year . . . probably more than ever before, even though my thumb is still black and not green; and the most important part of the week is the unending reminder of God's constant faithfulness to us, even in the midst of struggles, and even in the midst of my bad attitude at times. I hope you all have a great weekend!"

Thursday, January 1, 2015

HAPPY 2015!

So, I'm working on a blog post that's quite long . . . re-capping my 2014 year . . . but that post may not be ready for a while . . . 

Therefore, I will wish you all a Happy New Year and leave you with my theme verses for 2015, plus a quote from the MOPS blog . . .

    "(God says:) Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
    Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?...

    There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands." 
     ~Isaiah 43:18-19 (MSG)~

"Sometimes, good people wait patiently for God to intervene when what he is wanting is for us to act bravely and do something. Being a follower of Jesus calls for courage. The journey feels unexpected and unconventional. It requires bravely playing hide and seek in the dark, confronting the fears that scare us and holding the hand of a redeemer-guide who calls us to courageous acts of risk and trust. It means coloring outside of the lines. Dreaming bigger than we ever have before and getting swept up into the plans of a God who leaves us breathless with wonder."

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review of 2014 - June to December


June was a huge month for us, in many ways.  First of all, we were able to make an attempt to mend many broken hearts by finding dogs that needed a home--two 8-week-old females we named Vimy and Juno--border collie/shepherd/lab cross pups that quickly helped in the healing process after losing our dog Pepper.  They made their way into our hearts and family very quickly, and I'm also happy to report that they get along marvelously with our other Bichon Frise dog, Alaska.  Alaska and Pepper were always at odds with each other, so it's been a huge blessing to have 3 dogs that can all tolerate each other and not be constantly fighting.

Here are some pictures of our pups . . .

(Oh, to clarify something--when we went to pick up the puppies, there were cats present, and for reasons unknown to us, one of the cats attacked Ty and clawed his face.  He was taken to see a doctor and given medication to prevent negative effects of a potential infection, and fortunately, the wound has healed quite remarkably.  However, Ty hates cats even more now than ever before, and we are baffled as to why this cat acted the way it did towards our son . . . some of these pictures were taken the day after the cat attack, so his eye looks quite nasty--be warned).

Ty with Vimy Ember

 Mitchell with Juno Benelli

Puppy Playtime!

Me with Juno and Vimy

Here are the boys with the puppies mid-summer.

June was also the end of the boys' first year with their new online school.  They both did very well in their grades (gr. 9 for Mitchell; gr. 7 for Ty) so we decided to continue on with this school for their next school year.

June was also the month we got to celebrate Tyrone turning 13 years old!  He loves skateboarding, so we gave him a Penny skateboard for his birthday.  Here he is posing with it for the camera:

13 years old!

One of the biggest highlights from the year was Mitchell's baptism.  I've already written about it extensively in a previous post, but here are some photo highlights of this very special day:

Mitchell sharing his testimony.

One of our pastors praying for Mitchell.

Newly baptized!


July and August are two of my favourite months of the year . . . and they are also two of my least favourite months of the year.  I love these months because I get to spend more time with my family rather than being at work; however, due to the fact that I'm not working, our finances suffer.  That being said, God has always taken care of us for the three months of financial drought that we face due to my occupation.  I wouldn't change my job for this reason--I enjoy my summer with the boys too much to entertain that thought!

So, in light of us not having my income to help us along during the summer, we tend to do as many activities close to home as we can so that we don't break-the-bank.  Some of our summertime activities included helping with Vacation Bible School at our church; summer camp for the boys (which meant a week for Wayne and to have couple-time, even though he had to still work during the day, it was fun to have our evenings together for that week); watching stock car races; visiting Fort Battleford, a National Historic Site; fishing at a place called The Spillway, which is close to where we live; and visiting friends and family.  We also enjoyed spending time outdoors on our acreage, and I've included some pictures of my flowers from the summer of 2014.  And finally, I turned 42 years old in August and of course that was celebrated with family and a cheesecake.

Having fun in the water at The Spillway

The boys at Fort Battleford.

Ty at the Stock Car Races.

Mitchell at the Stock Car Races

Bumblebee enjoying the flowers.

Petunias and Lobelia.

Celebrating 42 years of life!


September was a busy month for us all as I transitioned back into my work as an Educational Associate at a Hutterite Colony, and the boys returned to their online school.  School was different for Mitchell this year, since Grade 10 requires credit courses in order to graduate, and he worked on a semester system rather than a 10-month school year.  We were unsure of how this was going to work out, but he did exceptionally well and ended his first semester with an average of 98%.  In addition to his high school credit courses, he was also enrolled in Driver's Education.  He was officially allowed to drive in mid-October and caught on to the process quite quickly.  He now drives whenever we allow him to, and I'm sure he's already devising a plan in order to obtain his driver's license the moment he turns 16.

Mitchell turned 15 in September, and we were able to celebrate with our family on two occasions--once just the four of us, and the second time with extended family.  Both times he enjoyed pie as an alternative to a cake.  He really likes pie!

    Pie (Chocolate) , , ,                                 Pie (Lemon Meringue) . . .

and More Pie (Pumpkin)!  
(celebrating Wayne's birthday jointly with Mitchell's)

In October we got to attend the wedding of one of the boys' youth leaders, and the family picture below was taken the day of that wedding.  Other highlights included Wayne's birthday (see above), my Sisters Weekend (with my wonderful sisters) and my ability to attend a 2-day conference for educators of Hutterite students. 

I must say, September and October were crazy months because of two things:  1.  They were just super-busy with the return to "Regular Programming" in our home and we had a lot of extra stuff going on; and 2.  High School online was intense at the beginning, and with the inclusion of driver's education in the mix of our schedule, I wasn't sure if we were going to make it to Christmas.  But we did!  Hallelujah!!!!

Crazy sisters!  I love these women!

My husband, kids and I - Thanksgiving Weekend 2014


So, as far as I can tell or remember, November didn't offer much by way of excitement in our household . . . I'm sure we were juggling schedules, trying to make it through to Christmas, battling snow, ice and cold . . . like any other November.  I've included some updated pictures of our puppies, which we took in November, shortly after a huge snowfall.

Of course when December arrives my heart is always set on Christmas, my favourite season of the year!  I love Christmas decorations, the Christmas tree, Christmas baking, Christmas gatherings, Christmas celebrations . . . and Christmas break.  School for me was on hold for a whole two weeks; Ty also had two weeks off and Wayne had about 10 days, but unfortunately for Mitchell, he had to return to his schoolwork on December 30th in order to finish his semester well.  He didn't seem to mind, though.

We ended off the year with abnormally warm temperatures and celebrated on our outdoor rink with friends who came to join us to say good-bye to 2014 and helped us welcome the year 2015!

Reflecting on 2014, I can say that it was a year of ups and downs, just like any other year.  Yet I am reminded once again of God's faithfulness and provision for us in so many ways.  Not only does He continue to provide for our needs, He has blessed us with many wants as well.  We have been provided with material goods, but the most beautiful blessings come by way of time spent with family and friends, strength to carry on when we felt like giving up, and continued spiritual growth and the longing for our eternal home.  These things combined have made 2014 a memorable year and I thank God for every moment He provides, and for every breath He grants us.

Following some photos from this part of the year, I will leave you with a you-tube video of one of my favourite songs . . . I love the lyrics of the song, Great Are You Lord, by All Sons and Daughters. Enjoy!

What I saw out of my kitchen window . . . 
after a November snowstorm.

Tyrone with Vimy.

Mitchell with Juno.

Mitchell and Juno playing in the snow.

Ty and Vimy playing in the snow.

Merry Christmas with Mitchell!

Merry Christmas with Tyrone!