Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday - {Wonder}

It's that day again and I almost missed it...I missed last week and there won't be anymore until next I decided I better take my five minutes to write today, because I love these mad writing parties where I just let 'er rip!!

You are welcome to join, too.  Just write for 5 minutes on the topic of the day and then link up at Lisa Jo's house which you can get to by clicking on that 5 minute Friday button in the sidebar....then go and encourage a couple of great writers by reading their posts!

I'm a little late to the party but I'm pretty sure I have something to say about this one:



Not hard to think about this because my brain is whirling, wondering how I will get that mountain of laundry finished and what I will feed our guests this weekend and I wonder if I'll ever get used to these new progressive lenses that I promised myself I'd wear faithfully but seem to have slipped off my face in the last few minutes.

I wonder how I'll ever figure out budgeting and time management and keeping home and family all on track at the same time.

I wonder.

This morning I made a horrendous mess pulling out all the decorations looking for one thing...and pulling out all the pantry items so that the installer guy could put the new drawers in...and there they were.

The ugliest and sweetest nativity little Tupperware figurines, the only thing that I thought would survive children...and they have for over sixteen years now...and I wonder how we will invite the Christ child in the season.  I want to observe Advent with more wonder than I have before, letting it sink in, this season of keening for the dawn, observing the oracles, repenting and welcoming in the One.

We've been practicing Christmas songs all of November and so the wonder has been building in my spirit and I don't want it to get squelched with all the mess I've prayer this season is to be like my little girl who is singing at the top of her lungs as she cleans her room, "O Come Let Us Adore Him!"



Your turn.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On Real Life, a Coupon offer and Steve Bell...again

It's been a little quiet in the internet world this week as a lot of real life living has been taking place...

- real life birthday parties
- real fun crafty weekend
- real cleaning and cooking to get ready for the above
- real lessons (read driving, driving, driving)
- real appointments (read more driving)
- real vomit
- real (the other stuff)
- real fevers
- real aches and pains
- real road trips to celebrate my mama's birthday

Our house has been hit hard with the flu this week.  There is only one that still hasn't been affected in any way so we're just waiting!  Some great quotes for this sick week:

     * If you feel like you might burp, just go to the bathroom right're probably gonna barf (8 year old giving 16 year old advice on being sick)
     * Could you just give me some grace!? (hollered by 6 year old to 10 year old after she 'cut' the bread badly - the only one not sick, trying to be helpful)

So, I haven't gotten any Christmas decorations up this week, which was my plan.  Nor have I written anything profound or even had a particularly profound thought, except late at night in a fevered state which I can't remember in the morning.

The beginning of advent is coming and I so want to do something more meaningful this year with my family.  I would like our hearts to be centered on Jesus this year...not endless lists of what we want.  I haven't done much in the way of shopping, planning or even thinking about all that yet.

This year we will be using Walking to Bethlehem by Katharine Barrett (get your copy HERE) as an advent reader and walk our Mary around our advent wreath that Caleb Voskamp made (so beautiful).  Maybe we'll get our tree up next week...maybe. Or perhaps you're Jesse Tree users, we'll probably do that again next year.  I made a really beautiful wall hanging for a friend for their advent and think I will make us one, too...and perhaps write a devotional to go with it...but in the meantime if you go over to you can download a reader for free.

I have felt immersed in the Christmas spirit as I've played duets with my kids as they practice.  It's been a sweet slice of life.

Some really excellent reading that I enjoyed this interview with Steve Bell.  I am more impressed with this fellow the more I get to 'know' him.  He is a deep thinker, a critical thinker and a man of great conviction, not to mention an excellent musician, singer, songwriter, entertainer and speaker.  May I encourage you over to his site, pick up a copy of his newest CD and get a few of the others...I even have a coupon code you can use to get a discount!  Then read the interview with Lancia E. Smith, it's in four parts but so worth the read.

Go get his new CD Keening for the Dawn here!
product code:  BELLCDOFFER5

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

God's Love Never Fails...a paraphrase!

I have to admit to being just a little bit pathetic today.  I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed with things at the moment...

- one of our vans needs new tires (they are being put on today) - no wonder I couldn't drive on the ice!!
- the other van sounds horrible probably because the brakes are most likely shot
- the washing machine began to leak yesterday
- instead of moving ahead on a project I ended up taking an extra trip to the city to get my daughter checked was all fine, just worrisome, tiring and such
- I am only 8 months behind in doing our farm books
- I have no planning done for the next month our two
- we have a house full of company coming this weekend and my kitchen is still not put back in the cupboards nor is my sewing room ready for the crafty day we have planned with said company (the shelves did get put back in the cupboards this morning so I can at least organize those again!)

...and my eye has been twitching for the last three days

That's my pathetic little story and you don't have to feel sorry for me...I'm not asking you to.  The above is why Psalm 136 was of particular loveliness to me this I wrote it my own way...

Though the vans collapse and leave us stranded
God's love never fails.
Though the dishwasher doesn't wash dishes and the washing machine leaks
God's love never fails.
Though the company is coming whether I'm ready of not
God's love never fails.
Though the debts are piled high and so are the dishes
God's love never fails.
Though the projects aren't done and no money is going in my pocket
God's love never fails.
Though the bank account is red and I'm a little blue
God's love never fails.
He sends us lentil cheques in due season
God's love never fails.
He puts new tires on our van and will help us get the brakes fixed
God's love never fails.
One day my kids will graduate even though they're behind right now
God's love never fails.
I can smile and rejoice that they've learned something today
God's love never fails.
The smell of fresh bread is heavy in the air
God's love never fails.
The company coming is family and they don't care if my house is clean
God's love never fails.
I have excellent sewing skills and a creative brain
God's love never fails.

God's love never fails, doesn't leak, doesn't squeak and will not demand more of me than what I have.  God's love never loses sleep, not does it get angry, impatient or overwhelmed.

Today I give thanks for God's love that never fails!

Linked up:


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Testing and James Bond

My brilliant daughter downloaded this app to my ipad because I was extremely frustrated with my inability to post from here without a lot of issues! It would appear that she has given me a least until my WordPress site is operational...but even then, I might just keep this one, who knows, I'm a little sentimental!

Now that her brain is functioning almost normally again I can get her to work on the WordPress site, too!

Hope you have a great day, I'm a little tired after our trip to the city. Just so you know she is fine. The chest pain was caused by inflamation in her chest wall due to the bronchitis, her heart is just fine! Yay!

We went to see the new James Bond movie...I was so disappointed with the actor they chose to play Bond...he was so NOT tall, dark, handsome and debonair. What were they thinking?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Heart-Washer and an Announcement!!

I'm a little excited this morning!  Guess what popped up?  A FLOWER!!!  Yes indeed, one came gently into my spirit the other day and I've been waiting for the right moment to share it with you.  If you're new here, I'll fill ya in and yes,  way at the bottom of this post will be the winners to the Riverstone give-away!

A 'flower' in my world is a little pulling away of the veil as God hands me a bit of understanding through something ordinary that I am in the midst of.  A little gift of insight, a revelation...a fresh flower!

The Heart-Washer
a fresh flower original 
by lani renee wiens

We have a dishwasher issue.  We're not sure if it's us, our plumbing, our a bad run of dishwashers.  We've had a couple of second-hand dishwashers for which we are really thankful.  They all start out working well and then within a month or two they are throwing yucky stuff all over our dishes and often there are things that come out dirtier than they went in.

They other day I was unloading and noticed that there was a cup that had some bits on it and rather than putting it by the sink to re-wash I just stuck it in the back of the cupboard, knowing that whenever that cup would get set on the table it would get to the sink to be re-washed.  I just didn't feel like dealing with it just then. (cue the comes the flower)

I do this quite often and you probably do, too.  Something is stirred up in your heart, something not pretty that really should be cleaned up.  But rather than dealing with that unsightly bit, we slide it to the back of the cupboard thinking we'll take care of that particular sin....later.

And 'later' will come, won't it?  That cup/sin will most likely get set down in front of a guest, embarrassing me and leaving me to explain how a cup that dirty could have possibly been in my cupboard.  It will leave me back-pedaling and red-faced, possibly even lying to cover my tracks.  How much easier would it have been if I had simply washed the cup immediately and set it in the cupboard clean and ready for the next use?

We humans like to turn away from the reality of our situation.  We like to defend our dirt.  This is NOT what our Father has in mind for us.  His desire is that we approach him with clean hands and a clean heart, and he knows that we don't scrub behind our ears every in his mercy and grace, he cleans us up.  His heart-washer is much better than the machine I use to try and clean my dishes.

We can be company ready as we humble ourselves under His mighty hand and submit ourselves to a little heart-washing!  Because we don't want to be like the Pharisees in Luke 11 that were clean on the outside because of their rituals and laws and were filthy and wicked on the inside.

"Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up." (1 Peter 5:6)
"Create in me a clean heart."  (Psalm 51)

Announcement of Winners

Naked Lotion Bar - Stephanie
Silk Moisturizer - Marie

Riverstone Studios will be sending those directly to you, so I will need your mailing addresses to pass on to them!!  Stephanie that e-mail that you left didn't work!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Have Compassion, with a Focus on Angels!! (pun intended)

Good Morning! This is the last in my series of making your dollars count this Christmas.  Next week we are going to talk about preparing for Advent, getting your house ready (Lord willing) and decorating with a difference.

Make sure you enter the GIVE AWAY.  Since that Rafflecopter thing doesn't seem to be about you enter a comment here today and I'll use my regular scientific methods. For those who did put your name in there, don't worry, I'll get you in, too! (all 2 of you! :)

There are 2 wonderful products from Riverstone Studios available.  Click HERE to see more of their products.  All their products are made with great care and contain no fillers, just pure, natural ingredients!  I use the Silk moisturizer and I love it, my skin likes it, too!!

Today my focus is to remind you of some different kinds of giving that will expand your heart!

November is Angel Tree Month

Imagine what Christmas morning might be like if your mom or dad was in jail.  You may have very little access to that parent and as a child may think that it's your fault or that you parent doesn't love you.  While at Allume we listened to a young woman's testimony who told us what it was like to have an incarcerated parent, and how getting a gift that came from that parent (through the Angel Tree) program made a huge difference in her life.  That young lady is now sharing that testimony with others to encourage them to participate in the program.  It all started with a simple gift.  You purchase a gift for a child on behalf of their incarcerated parent, it's that simple.  ANGEL TREE is a division of Prison Fellowship that id the heart ministry of the late Chuck Colson.

In Canada, go to Prison Fellowship Canada (click to go). You can contact them to find out if there is a program in your area.

In the States, click HERE to participate.  If you don't have a program in your area you can click on the Donate button.

Let's go overseas and think about what Christmas might look like in a developing country.  Giving gifts to our children is important no matter what our location or economic status is.  However, feeding our kids ranks much higher.  The team at Compassion works to do both.  If you haven't done so yet, would you consider giving a gift to your sponsored child this year.  For those you have on your list that already have all they need, consider giving on their behalf to help a family get started in a business, supply much needed medicines, books and other supplies that are hard to come by.  One of our favorite things is supplying the needs of a school classroom instead of giving gifts to individual teachers.

In Canada, you can go to Compassion HERE.

In the States, you can click HERE, to do some giving with a difference.

One more ministry that is close to our hearts is Focus on the Family.  We love the ministry that they have to support families in so many different situations.  You have probably heard their broadcasts or been supported by them in some way whether you are aware of it or not!  Kids of Integrity, Adventures in Odyssey, Parenting Forums, Retreats, Classes, Books and other resources are available through their ministry.  Please consider buying gifts through their catalogue or donate to their ministry so that they can keep doing the amazing work that they do.

In Canada, Focus is HERE.

In the States, click through HERE.

Sidebar:  We visited the Focus on the Family and Compassion International headquarters on a family holiday several years ago!  Such a treat for all of us.  Both are located in Colorado Springs, of our best family vacations ever! Focus on the Family is where I learned about Angel Tree when watching an Adventures in Odyssey's all connected.

Friday, November 16, 2012

5 Minute Friday - {STAY}

We suspend all things on Fridays for five minutes of unedited writing in the community of writers at Lisa Jo's house.  Want to join in?  Hit that 5 minute Friday button and join the party.

Today's prompt:

If I want my dog to 'stay' I tell him, too.  But how do I get my heart to stay?  I want to stay focused on things above, not things down here like the scripture in Colossians 3 tells me to.  I know that if my affections are stayed on Him, then there is joy in the journey....but how to get it to stay put?

- when barbed venom is coming out of that boys' mouth spewing all over
- when the finances look red, red and more red
- when the girl is sick and the medication she was given makes her more sick
- when I don't have answers to his questions
- when the dishes are piled up and two cupboards worth of stuff are in containers on my kitchen floor because the cupboard project is STILL not done

I need to hear His gentle voice telling me to stay, just be, don't work so hard to make things happen because you'll just wear yourself out with worry.

Just stay, here by my heart, resting in me, focused on my eyes.

Just. Stay. Still.

Just know that I AM GOD, and I've got this.

You can stay at peace, don't let that tail wag that dog.  Just stay.




PLEASE, PLEASE, go HERE and enter the give-away...I would so like you to meet my friends Kelly and Audrey who are making these fabulous organic, eco-friendly, everything-free products!  You will like it, I promise!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Directory for Some Great Gift Ideas!!

Today I'd like to direct you to some other small business ventures that do more than just sell a product, they change lives.

If you are in the Saskatoon area this weekend there is a Work for Widows sale at Hope Fellowship Church, (corner of Ave I and 32nd Street) from 10 - 3.  This ministry is helping widowed women in Sri Lanka countries break out of that poverty cycle.  In some cultures being a widow means you become less than human with no means of support.  If you're not in the area you can view their website at, purchase beautiful gift items or become and advocate yourself!

Ten Thousand Villages is a beautiful store run by MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) that takes handmade products from countries in which they're working and sells them in a retail setting.  They have seasonal stores set up in various areas will help you find a store near you OR you can shop online!!

Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) is a U.S.-based, non-profit organization. We currently work in over 31 countries creating havens of safety and healing for at-risk women and children. Our purpose and passion is to give voice to the silenced cries of the oppressed, wrap arms of love around them, and whisper messages of purpose and dignity into their brokenness. Through culturally sensitive, value-added intervention projects and programs, WAR, Int’l offers these women and children an opportunity to live life with dignity. Although specifically known for our fight against human trafficking and rehabilitating work with trafficking victims, WAR, Int’l addresses 14 different risk issues facing women and children today.Their website is

Tomorrow we will talk about some other ministries that are doing amazing things to support families in various situations, so check back then for more ideas!!

Then there are online friends and neighbors who have taken their creativity and turned it into a business, sometimes just to support their families and sometimes to fund projects such as international adoption.  Why don't you go check some of these out!

My sweet friend Julie makes stunning handmade cards..check them out at

Hearts Undaunted Etsy Store -, these are handmade multi-media art pieces made by Mandy!

Be Small Studios -  Annie is an amazing artist and gave everyone at
Allume a beautiful print!

Amyma - - sweet art prints and mixed media

Amy Reasoner - My Redesign -, pretty jewelry and vintage goods

My friend Jesse is raising funds for an international adoption by selling her book through her blog... go check it out at

For your fabric junkie friends, go visit my friend Randi at

Here's another one...something a little different:

Please feel free to leave more links in the comment box and go to THIS POST to enter the awesome give-away!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Introducing Riverstone Studios' Give-Aways!!

An excellent point was raised in yesterday's comments.  Real people work at the big stores and those big stores need to make money in order for those real people to keep their real jobs and feed their real families! However, you can still make your dollars do more by shopping through portals like PureCharity which has partnered with some of those big stores to put cash into a personal giving fund that goes towards great projects.  I encourage you to check them out!!


Today, I want to highlight some dear personal friends who have been on quite a journey of health and healing.  In the process of building their straw bale home, going off grid and figuring out how to get healthy and whole they have started a business called Riverstone Studios.  You can learn a lot more about them by going to their website.  Click on their name up there and it will take you to their site.

All of their products are made with pure ingredients and are plastics or fillers here!  They are seeking to promote health on all fronts and have generously donated two products for give-aways today!

Give-Away #1 - Naked Lotion Bar
CLICK to learn more about this amazing product.

Give-Away #2 - Silk
CLICK to learn more about this amazing product.

*I use Silk and it is fabulous!

To help you with your gift giving Riverstone Studios has a whole section in their store with gift packs that will be shipped already wrapped and beautiful!!  CLICK here to go directly to that section of their on-line store - perfect idea for those who have sensitivities or are eco-minded!!
You can use the coupon code below!!

Discount Code Offer

Not only are they giving these two products away they have a coupon code (promo code "noel") for you , too, that will get you 10% off your purchase.  Shipping in Canada is $5 (international rates apply).  If you go pick it up, there is no shipping and they'll probably even give you a cup of tea to sip while you get to know them! Because they are pretty cool like that!

Kelly and Audrey, the owners of Riverstone Studios have an amazing journey and are one example of local business.  Take a look around you where you live, there are probably people who are doing some amazing things that you might not even be aware of.  You don't have to be living in a big city to be an amazing business.  Riverstone Studios are an excellent example of that!

Keep looking back for more giving ideas that give back throughout this are welcome to continue putting links up in the comments to direct us to your faves!!

ENTER THE GIVE AWAY!!  Gonna try this Raffle-Copter thingy...

Question to Answer:  What's your favorite place to use your giving dollars?

Linked up at:  


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Join the Quiet Revolution!

Today I am back to helping you have a more meaningful Advent and Christmas season.  For the rest of this week I am going to be featuring some different ways you can make your dollars do more than just go flushing down the big box toilet.  Trust me, they don't need your money!!

My husband and I committed ourselves to not spending a single Christmas dollar that wasn't going to do more than just buy stuff.  No plastic goodies or meaningless drivel this year.  We want to take the few dollars we have and support local businesses, ministries and individuals rather than the big guys.

In our very 'connected' world, local has taken on a whole new meaning.  Some of my best buddies are people that I have met virtually and I have to admit I haven't met all of them in real life, but they are still very 'local' to me!  In keeping with that so are some of my favorite places to shop, while they may not be within walking distance, they are real people doing real services and have real products that they believe in!

This week I want to feature 'local' businesses and ministries that take your dollars and do more with them than just line their pockets!  Enough of that already!  I am also not so impressed with companies who are using child labour, maintain poor work conditions or don't pay fairly.  Obviously I am not going to be able to feature every amazing business that is doing something good, so if you know of people who are, please share the love and the links!!

We want to hear about Etsy shops that are using their proceeds to fund international adoptions.  Local businesses that are ambassadors for ministries by selling handmade goods that help break the poverty cycle. And how about you, do you have a small business that is helping your family make ends meet because you believe in what you do?  Let's hear about it!!

It's a quiet revolution that makes a huge difference in the lives of so many.  Make sure you are checking back over the next few days for featured shops and ministries and we're going to give away a thing or two!!


Blow the trumpet, toot your horn!!  The comment box should work better now!  The robot thingy is gone so if you have had issues posting comments in the past, fear not...the comment box is with you!  So, please, give me your links and recommendations and join the quiet revolution!!  You can email, too, if you're too shy to say it out loud!

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Confession to Ann Voskamp (and the rest of the world)

First let me say that I love Ann.  You are a shining light in this dark world and I love how you wield words and speak right into the spirit of a person.  I'm thankful that I got to meet you as a real live person with skin on and tears on your cheeks.  You pour out your whole self into a person and it was beautiful to watch you do it with such grace.

I have followed you since the beginning, when the comment box was open and Shalom was still tucked inside you.  I remember because my Elizabeth was still tucked inside me.  And there's a pretty good chance you'll never read this but that's okay, because someone else needs to hear this.

I think I found you and 'sparrow' because of A Child's Geography, you gave me a copy but we didn't do so well at it, I think my kids were too young at the time to attempt it, or maybe it was me, but that's beside the point.  I identified with you because you were on a farm, had six kids, homeschooled, loved Jesus and loved words AND you were Canadian. And 'sparrow' and I, well we had some pain in common and we have formed an alliance that I treasure.

I started counting when you did, right along with you and it was a lovely thing back then.  But something changed in me and that's why I'm writing this because I'm guessing someone else out there may be in the same struggle and I want that person to know what the struggle is.  That there is a reason that there isn't any joy in the counting, even if they've filled up pages and pages trying.  It's taken me awhile to figure it out.

My heart has been in turmoil since Allume, trying to make sense of all that I heard and took in and understand it all.  When you said, "Who wants to be standing before the throne with the applause of men ringing in their ears and all of heaven silent."  My flesh stood right up and said, "I do!"  I was appalled at my flesh and that realization sent me spinning.  And I've been spinning until a day or two ago when the revelation came.

I've been reading Grace for the Good Girl and it is like reading my life on the pages.  I have so long struggled with affirmation, perfectionism and trying so hard to get this life right.  I have been a mess.  Then I read a post about how a lovely woman was changed so radically by counting the gifts and I was MAD.  I was angry as I stood at my sink washing the endless parade of dishes and I didn't quite get why I was so mad.  Why wasn't I changed?  Why couldn't I see any difference, I've been doing it so long?

I vented to my farmer/pastor giving him all my frustration and demanding answers to my questions.  Why had all my counting not resulted in any lasting change?  I've counted for years, there are well over 2000 gifts on my lists, I did it right, so why wasn't it making a difference?  I have given away so many of those books with a counting journal and pen to encourage others on the road.  I've spoken on the importance of giving thanks, I had done it all right, hadn't I? Why does my flesh work so hard to be noticed?

and he said, "because maybe you're just counting."

And I wept more and I wrestled with God because I needed to know what that meant.  And I kept reading and working through the book on grace and pleading with God for revelation for my broken heart and finally light broke through.

I was counting like I might count silverware or books or signs along the highway.  I was counting to fill in lines on a page not the spaces in my heart.  There was no joy because there was no eucharisteo (yes I have the word hanging in my hallway and I love it), grace, thanksgiving, joy.  Three in one, just as the trinity is three in one, you can't have one without the others.  I tried to memorize Colossians and I only did one chapter.  I kept trying and kept failing.

I had become a Pharisee somewhere along the line, my heart hardened to grace, living a form of faith but lacking any power or life.  I had become legalistic and my counting of things was doing nothing...there was no grace....therefore no thanksgiving...therefore no joy.  I had begun living a 'try hard' life somewhere between the first thousand and the second.  There was no joy, only conviction and condemnation for not doing it right ringing in my ears.  I stopped picking or even looking for the 'flowers' that had got me started writing this blog in the first place.  There was no fresh revelation and I wasn't looking for it.

Somewhere I decided to just do things 'for' God instead of 'with' God.  I would be the perfect pastor's wife, I would be the perfect mother, I would gain the applause my flesh longed for by doing it all right.  And I was empty.  In a desert with no oasis in sight.

Then I went to Allume and my spirit realized the dryness that it was in and I soaked up every piece of heaven that I could and my eyes kept flowing and wouldn't stop after I got home, because there was so much water needed to make that dry place fertile again.

I pounded on the gates of heaven for answers.  Then I read this post from a beautiful young woman that reminded me that my mind needed to be renewed continually.  That I needed to set my affections on Him alone.  I read that my flesh will always be at war with my Spirit no matter how good that flesh looked because that's what flesh does, it sets itself up against the Spirit.

and I had to repent

Then the song of redemption started singing in my ears, softly at first, and then louder and louder.  I didn't have to try so hard to get it right, grace was mine and had been all along, I didn't HAVE to fill in lines on a page to get it right. I don't have to try to be strong, because I'm not.  He isn't going to GIVE me strength, He IS my strength.  He isn't going to give me love, He IS the love and He loves me whether or not I get it right.

All is grace and grace is all I need.

So I get to give thanks in the congregation and in my home and in my heart, because I can.  I can give thanks, not to gain anything but a joyful heart.  My legalism did not bring any joy to me or anyone else.  It drained the very life from me and sapped my energy right out and strained relationships.

So that's it, I refuse to walk in a kingdom of legalism any longer, my heart can dance in the fields of forgiveness, free in His grace  and I can count on!

So dear one, if you're the one this is speaking to, know that His grace is yours, too.  You don't have to try so hard to get it right, because you can't and the harder you try the more miserable you'll become because all you'll see is failure.  There is a wide open place in His kingdom that allows you just to be...I'm kinda new here and would love some company...wanna join me?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Remembering...{and the winners}

Winners will be announced for the two give-aways at the end of this post!! Yes, you should read all the way to the end!!

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending our school's Remembrance Day service.  Two of my kids were involved so I made the effort to go, which, to my shame, I have not done before.  I was surprised by the emotion that it stirred up in me.

My family heritage is Mennonite, therefore, we did not participate in combat, therefore we have no veterans in our family and the whole thing didn't have a heap of significance to me.  The men in our family were conscientious objectors/pacifists.  It's only in recent years that I have begun to learn the contributions our family made and the problems they endured. Many pacifists assisted in the medical core or farmed land for those who had gone off to fight.

My paternal grandparents came here from Russia in 1925, German Mennonite immigrants with no family, a tiny baby and hope for something better.  During the war my grandfather had to head north to logging camps for his own safety, his German accent and pacifist position did not go over well with the Allies.  My grandmother never learned to speak English and took the weight of raising her eight children and tending the farm mostly on her own.

As I listened to the names on the Honour Roll I recognized the surnames of families in our community, young men who had gone off to help in the battle for freedom.  The names of my family members won't be on those rolls.  Am I ashamed of that?  No, I am not! My ancestors stood for what they believed in, that fighting does not bring peace, that the way of Jesus did not involve bearing arms.  I am proud to be of their line.

What caused me more discomfort was the many references to having 'won our freedom'.  That we walk in freedom because of these soldiers that gave their lives.  While this is true on the physical plain and I am thankful for that sacrifice, I was overcome with the realization that there was a much bigger battle for freedom that was won on our behalf and only one person died.  As a society we barely give that sacrifice a nod.

I am thankful that we haven't commercialized Remembrance Day, that there aren't all kinds of comics and decorations and what-have-you associated with it, it keeps us focused on the reality of what was given.  Not so with the sacrifice of our God.  We've mocked it and cheapened it and sold it for profit.

The battle that was won for us that day was a far greater freedom than the one we are enjoying now.  I do not for a moment make light of the veterans and their service to our country, however, I am much more grateful for the One who sacrificed EVERYTHING to gain my freedom, not just for now, but for eternity.

Eden is where the war began and Christmas is where the gauntlet was tossed down and the Resurrection is where the victory was firmly established forever and ever.  My kids will get a few days off school for that but do they really understand that victory any better than the one that we are remembering this weekend?  I guess that's my job, to make sure they do.

Jesus broke the bread and said, "Do this in REMEMBRANCE  of me."  Perhaps, tomorrow, on November 11, we will break bread together as a family and remember both wars that were fought and won on our behalf.

What's your story?  Are your family veterans or COs?

and the winners are {drum roll please}

Steve Bell CD (Keening for the Dawn) - Donna O, congratulations I hope it blesses you as it has me!  Going to need your address so I can send that to you when they get here!

Walking to Bethlehem by Katharine Barrett - Amy T. congratulations, Enjoy!!  I will need your e-mail address, which I will give to Katharine and she will send you the e-book version!

You can purchase these amazing resources here:

Steve Bell CD - Keening for the Dawn

Walking to Bethlehem by Katharine Barrett

Click here to get your print copy or Kindle version at Amazon.

This is the Smashwords link for Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc.

Psst:  If you have an Etsy shop that you would like featured here, I will be doing a link directory in the next couple of weeks!! Leave a comment to let me know!

Friday, November 09, 2012

5 Minute Friday {QUIET}

5 Minute Friday is a mad writing party that is just so much never know what might come out!!

Join in with us by clicking that button on the side bar with the same name.

Rules are simple.

1. Write for 5 minutes on the topic (no over thinking or editing)
2.  Link up over at Lisa Jo's site (click on that button)
3.  Go encourage the person who linked up before you.

It's that easy...

Today's prompt:



Quiet doesn't happen very often in my house.  Not with 8 mouths going and 16 feet and 16 hands and often more if someone has someone over.  It's busy here...

The inside of me is where I need quiet and right now there seems to be no such thing.  At the moment the house is quiet with 4 at school, 2 working on home school assignments, 1 in North Dakota and me here...not too much noise other than the hum of the fridge. But my insides are screaming and yelling and stomping around.

I'm trying to make sense of all that I've taken in in my 44 years on this planet and sort it out.  Because I'm being taken apart by this book I'm reading that is pulling away my defenses and masks and getting me to really see the noise inside.

Because my outside is strong and capable and not needy.

My insides are quaking and jelly-like and screaming for attention and as my flesh is getting seared and that old self is dying and it is writhing in agony and yelling at me to not let it die because it is so very comfortable up here on my skin.

but i want to be real and quiet in my spirit.
the real me that no one sees
because of the loud walls that i've erected to keep you out there

i need the quiet of dead flesh and a spirit that is ready to hear and walk 'with' instead of 'for'
my affections need to be His not yours...

shhh, there's something dying over here
and it's a good thing


BEFORE you run away make sure to enter the 2 give-aways, you won't be sorry you did!!

1. Steve Bell CD - Keening For the Dawn (super amazing right to your heart music) Click HERE and comment!

2.  Katharine Barrett's advent reader - Walking to Bethlehem (you'll love it, I promise) Click HERE and comment!

Both give-aways close Friday night (November 9).

And just for fun, go over here and to get great savings on What's In the Bible DVDs for Christmas gifts!  (I LOVE online shopping - especially way out here in the boonies!)

Linked here:

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Introducing - Walking To Bethlehem

It is my privilege to introduce a brand new book that is coming on the market TODAY!!  My IRL friend and fellow writer Katharine Barrett has put together a beautiful family advent devotional that will add richness and blessing to your advent season.

Written with rich word pictures, Katharine walks you down the road to Bethlehem.  Weaving in personal stories, recipes, traditions and scripture this delightful journey will bring you to the side of the manger.  You will also enjoy familiar Christmas carols, highlighting the lesson for the day.

Hope ~ Peace ~ Joy ~ Love

These are the four pillars of advent.  Each week you will light a candle, read scripture and enjoy some fresh insight into the mystery of the season.  In between you will continue on the journey, leaving footprints of those four pillars.  Our family has read many advent readers and this Christmas we will be using this one.  In the appendix is an alternative oral reading that allows children to fully engage as part of the reading together.

Katharine has a warm and inviting style and I know you will enjoy Walking to Bethlehem!

Click on this link to go to Grace and Fresh Ink to read more about it.

Click here to get your print copy or Kindle version at Amazon.

This is the Smashwords link for Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc.

And you can continue to follow Katharine at her blog, Just A Thought where she's always got a great thought for you!


I would like to give away 1 copy of the ebook to one of my readers because I know you will thoroughly enjoy it!  I started reading and I didn't stop until three cups of tea later.

In order to enter the give-away please leave a comment and we will pick a winner. (open until midnight on Friday) I would like to hear about your advent traditions.  I will be sharing some of ours later on this month.

Feel free to tweet or re-post this on Facebook.  Walking to Bethlehem deserves all the exposure it can get!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Why Do They Call it Christmas? - savings!!

My older kids grew up on Veggie Tales and I loved them just about as much.  We still sing the songs!!  Phil Vischer has come up with a brand new series called, "What's In the Bible."  Jellyfish Labs gave us a couple of videos to take home and my younger kids have been loving them!!

Clive and Ian's Wonderblimp of knowledge is a fun place to learn about things like, "Is God like a super hero?"  "Will God let us down like our parents do?"  There are fun characters and lots of music.

My personal favorite at the moment is "Why Do They Call it Christmas?"  This video is a little longer than the short clips on What's in the Bible but it involves the majority of the characters that you see there.  They explore the questions of origin of the names 'Christmas' and 'Santa', too.

May I encourage you to check these out!!  Also, Jellyfish Labs has a great site for kids to hang out on called JellyTelly.

So today's good news: Use this link to go check it out 20% off your purchase!!!

Monday, November 05, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a little Like Christmas...

Christmas stuff is beginning to take over store aisles and advertising.  It seems to come earlier every year and I can't say that I like it.

I have to admit that over the last few years Christmas hasn't been one of my favourite holidays.  It used to be, but the more commercialized it has become the less I like it.  My kids would make lists and lists and lists and  the 'gimmes' were getting to me.  But I think this about to change...

Earlier this year I felt impressed to make this Christmas different, to teach my kids and myself what it is that is so important about Christmas.  And to go beyond that right through to the celebration of Christ's resurrection.  I wanted to make it very memorable and hopefully meaningful.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a clue where to start.  Then we went to the annual pastor's retreat.

Steve Bell had struggled with the same things I did, dreading Christmas, not sure why.  He dug deep and found his sources and started to deal with the issues that were in his heart.  In so doing, he unwrapped for himself the gift of the advent season.  He shared some of his findings with us at the retreat all wrapped up in beautiful songs that make up his newest album that will be releasing in just a few weeks.  Trust me, you will want to go and purchase Keening for the Dawn as soon as you can.  We received a pre-release copy and it is so beautiful.  Definitely not your regular Christmas album.

My plan over the next few weeks is to share some things that I hope will help you get into the real spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of God!  In two days, I will be helping to launch a beautiful new book that is written by a friend of mine, Katharine Barrett, it is a fabulous family advent reader that I'm sure you will enjoy.  (psst...probably another give-away going to happen there, too!!!)

I will share some of our Christmas traditions.  Probably a give-away or two and some ideas about how you can make your dollars count for more than just stuff under the tree.

I hope you will come along with me as we start to prepare our hearts for the Saviour.

Read the story behind Keening for the Dawn by clicking here.  You can also listen to the title track and order your own copy now!! disclaimer:  he doesn't share the personal bits that he shared with us at the retreat, but really, it's so beautiful...

And to kick off the season of giving...I am going to give away one copy of Keening for the Dawn to one lucky reader!  So of course you will have to leave a comment and I will use my usual highly scientific methods for determining the lucky winner.  Give-away closes on Friday, November 9.

Tell me your favourite holiday smell!  Mine has to do with cinnamon!

Saturday, November 03, 2012


I would like someone to order me around and tell what to do today.  Because I do not know.  I can see it all staring at me but today doubts assail and fear is trying to prevail and I am just barely keeping my nose above the water.

My farmer and I haven't been nose to nose in a few days and I wish he would come back sooner rather than later..

I knew this morning that at some point I'd be picking up pieces again and I was right.  I wish I had been wrong.  She stands confused wondering what she's done.  He's already moved on and it's her fault because she 'hates' him and he says, "I don't care!" in that hot gritty voice that says he does.

And me, I want to shake some caring in somewhere but I stand there helpless wondering if I should continue to rebuke him or go and comfort her and I do neither.  I pick up the pieces instead wishing it was as easy to suck back hurtful words as it is to suck up these broken bits of glass.

So I end up sitting and staring at the screen reading other's words instead of writing my own.  Thankful for the older brother who is following through on plans made.  Thankful for his protective presence.  Thankful for the girls, comforting each other and that the little boys are having fun at a birthday party today.

I wander through the chaos and wish again, could someone please just tell me what to do next?  My heart is full from Allume, my head is bursting and my house is screaming for attention.  Little one stands wanting someone to play with her...

Someone please tell me what to do, before I go to pieces.

Friday, November 02, 2012

In Which the Kids are Thankful Mama is a Farm-girl

Disclaimer:  I am not very qualified as a true farm girl.  I don't work with the animals.  I don't drive tractors, trucks or combines, in fact I don't know how to start the garden tractor!  But, I do know a little and my thimbleful of knowledge came in really handy last night.

I noticed someone scraping ice off their windshield as we loaded groceries into the van.  The rain had been barely there since we hit the city for our weekly lesson-run and I hadn't paid much attention until that moment.  Freezing rain makes driving rather difficult.  I started out on the pick-up part of the evening, praying we'd get out of the city before it got too bad.

By the time I had finished the pick-ups and was heading to Tim Horton's for my large steeped-tea double-double to keep me awake the roads were skating rink slick.  This wasn't going to be fun.  SPK said, "Mom, I think we should stay in the city."  I should have listened to him.

We crawled along at about 40KM/h, sometimes making it up to 50, then finally 60...woohoo!  It took us 2 hours to traverse a stretch that usually takes 45 minutes.  I thought we were home-free when we hit highway 15 and things seemed to be getting better.  OH NO...the fun was about to begin!!

I knew we were in trouble the moment we crossed that main highway onto the secondary.  I could only go about 20 km/h without sliding.  I warned the kids that we would be taking 'a while' to get home...and maybe they might want to pray!  Any touch to the gas pedal sent me sliding.

We got about one and half miles down the road and then we simply slid across.  My son and I decided that perhaps if we could gain purchase on the grass in the ditch we might have a chance of moving forward.  I was a little nervous, I could see another vehicle in the rear-view and here I was on the wrong side of the road!  Oh well, I didn't seem to have much choice.  Meanwhile we listened to the accounts of the 10 car pile-up on a major road we had just vacated in the city and other accidents.  No wonder there were so many emergency vehicles out and about!

That plan worked for a little ways and then...nothing.  We just stopped moving.  The tires spun on the ice and we stayed put.  I noticed that other vehicle wasn't getting closer, then they turned and disappeared.  "Must be nice, I thought, at least they got some traction."

The littlest was sleeping through this and the older ones got out to 'do their business' and have some fun skating on the road!  I called Kelly and we tried to come up with a plan.  Meanwhile, the disappearing truck showed up in the field next to the road!  The young man came over to us to see how we were doing.  I attempted to carry on simultaneous conversations but that wasn't working very well.  He hopped back in his truck and took off toward home on the gravel road.

I was 15 feet from that same gravel road...and this is where my thimbleful saved the day, earned me "Awesome Mom" points and got us to a warm, safe, dry motel!

Thought #1
It's way easier to drive on icy gravel than super slick roads where you have no traction.

Thought #2
Driving in the field would provide even better traction and perhaps get me closer to the highway and, therefore, a motel in a nearby town.

Yes!  A Plan...way better than sitting contemplating whether my chicken would make it home okay!

The kids got out and pushed us to the gravel road! Perfect.
We drove through a very weedy field and could hardly see where we were going.  Fortunately God was in the field with us and we stopped just before a rather rude drop-off into a very nice straight-cut field.  JDJ got out and took a look around to find us a good entry point to said nice field.

He found one but I thought a little further down would be better.  Then I noticed re-bar sticking up out of the field at regular intervals.  Not so good, gotta get between them.  I turned to go to nice field and my son yells, "Stop!"  I was about to plow into one of those pieces of re-bar.  Now we were stuck, out in the field, in the middle of nowhere.

Yay for awesome kids who all got out and pushed the mama over the berm and into the nice field where we kept driving until we got to the irrigation ditch!!  Now what?  Let's try to get back on the road.  Hmmmm, not such a good idea.  How about we slide right over the road and maybe to what looks like the possibility of something on the other side.  Okey-doke, away we go.

Here we are, about 15 feet closer to warmth and a bed!  Looky there, that looks like a road all be it a field road, but it's running along the irrigation ditch and looks fairly well travelled.

Thought #3
Irrigation ditch road must lead to a real road!!

And it did!

NOTE:  Gravel roads can be icy, too, but epic James Bond style driving will get you to the other side and win you more, "Awesome Mom" points!

Made it to the highway which must have been salted and we drove our weary bodies to Outlook to the Irrigation Centre Motel where the kindly manager only charged me for one room instead of two.  The bed was comfy, the room was warm and clean and we managed to make it home this morning.  Praise be The Lord!!!