when we were young…

writing with passion, living with vision and acting with intention


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The gift of transient friendships

As a little child, I understood that friendship should be a permanent thing. We are friends now and forever shall be.

Into my teens, best friends came in and out of my life. That process of redefining the place of friends in my life has shaped how I view friendship now as an adult.

I know many people who have their life-long friends whom they have been close with since the beginning. I always longed for that but the continuous eb and flow of who was/were my best friends has predominated. It’s not to say that I don’t still stay in touch with some long-time friends but the season of close comradery has since passed.

I once considered this a shortcoming; I now see it as a gift.

I am a very open person – it doesn’t take years for friends to see me for who I am at the core of my being: faults, ticks and quirks. I embrace diversity in the people whom I draw close. For that reason, ‘best friends’ is a relative term. My best friend two years ago is not the same one from five years ago. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to invest time into building a bond with many different people, even though there eventually comes a day, a chapter of life where paths diverge and even goodbyes are said.

Living where I do, in a small coastal community, I have already said goodbye (not always in a permanent sense) to several dear friends who have moved away.

Very soon, I will again say goodbye again to two very beautiful women in my life as they move also.  I honestly don’t know when I will see them next as they are moving a good distance away. I wish they could stay near – that our children could grow up together, that our friendships would deepen and we would build a history and the ease that long-time friendship provides.

At the same time, I feel so richly blessed to have had these woman in my life these past three years. They have encouraged and inspired me as a parent, as a partner to my husband and as a woman in a world of people needing love at every turn. I can honestly say that their friendship has left a permanent imprint on the woman I am continuing to grow and be.

It brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat to think about the day that I won’t be able to text or call to invite them over or make plans. But I know that if I had my go-to, long-time established “besties,” I might not have had the time or need to open my heart and benefit from the time spent sharing the daily routines, challenges, philosophies, joys, and ironies of our days.

The world is brimming with so many beautiful souls – I am a happier person for every one who has imparted to me their best. As the door opens wide for new friendships, I carry along the long lasting impressions of women who have touched my life.

brothers, friendship, always, love, together

 

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When life got real

I have been grappling with some major writer’s block for basically a year now. I have so many thoughts and ideas for things I want to express through writing but when I actually have a moment (this moment is currently accompanied by my kids digging their feet into me on the couch and begging for a show), it’s like I can’t gather the pieces of my brain that are scattered all over my house.

Writers, you understand the frustration of writer’s block. I need to somehow get my words back. So I think I will just ramble, talk a bit about my past year. Not because there are wondrous tales to tell. Rather, it is an ongoing story of how life got real for us.

I feel like I became an adult this past year. We’ve had it pretty good – we still do. But if I could sum up this past year in one word it would be adversity. We have moved three times since last December. Throughout this time, I was pregnant, dealing with two separate flu bugs, an ongoing cold virus that had me bed ridden at times and bronchitis coupled with asthma that landed me in the emergency room struggling to breathe properly. At one point, we were even homeless for two weeks as we searched for a place to move into back up on the coast. After having Bronwyn, I struggled with Postpartum Depression which pulled me down to a darkness I have never known. It didn’t help that Bronwyn was “colicky” for the first six weeks of her life.

It’s no wonder, I suppose, that I feel like my brain is a smashed egg much like this picture that my friend Elyse shared with me.

brain fried, being adult, parent, small children

I do not care to repeat this past year. But I will take away some hard earned lessons from it.

Humility: We have been helped, cared for and given to again and again by dear friends. Accepting meals that you know your friends took time and love to prepare for their own families as they now offer to you – Humbling. Accepting help caring for your kids because you are so tired and sick and have never felt closer to death – Humbling. Accepting the shoulder to cry on and the ear to listen over and over as you struggle to make sense of the chaos in your life – Humbling.

Grace: Because you never truly know what others are dealing with – so be kind. Refrain from judgement and negative comments. I have wondered how many times have people become annoyed with my tardiness in getting back to them, thanking them, being that driver they honk their horn at on the road.

Relying on God: It’s just so not in my control. I can tell myself that I just need to think positively and find my inner peace, but I know that I do not have myself to thank for getting through this past year. Yes, I marched limped on but when I was loathing myself in the midst of my depression, I was reminded that the Creator still smiles and loves over me. When I was sick, I was provided for. I call that the Spirit impressing on people’s hearts to give as He gives. In acknowledging this higher power, my heart overflows with gratitude and assurance that myself and my family will not be left alone. If I all I have is myself to rely on, I am subject to my many shortcomings.

Gratitude: Because life is beautiful and that much more when health abounds and home exists.

coastal living, simple pleasures, childhood

Because pregnancy got better in the third trimester

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Because this dad and this son light up my life every day

sunshine, warmth, swimming, lake

Along with this little one

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Hey there’s a helmet riding a tricycle!

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And of course for this beauty!

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little girl, beauty, sweetness, God has answered

And just to keep things exciting…outside our front door!

fig tree muncher, pre hibernation, neighbourhood bear

 

 

photoshoot with our boys


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I’m not new to this anymore

I went to a group a few weeks back called Bellies and Babies. I used to go in my old town when I had only Shae and was pregnant with Oliver. I found a place there – other moms who were speaking my language! Birth stories, swollen feet, how often our babies fed, worries about how to figure out that one tried and true way of getting the little grubs to sleep…

It was strange being back in that environment now with a two year-old and a three year-old and a little one in utero. The conversations were the same, but I had nothing to add to them. I realized that the discovery season of being a first time mom is a closed chapter in my life.

I tend to feel things pretty deeply. For another, this kind of benchmark is noted and not given a whole lot of thought. But I go through a little bit of a ceremonial release of what days used to be and how they will never be just like that again.

Being a first-time mom was a world shifting event. Every day, my world became less about me and more about my baby. Books about fictional characters and their entertaining lives were replaced with ones that assured me of the best way to get my baby to sleep, eat, play and parent. Online articles related to anything parenting seemed to jump out of the screen (and still do). “Free” time was spent making veggie purées and sleeping if baby was sleeping. Most of all, the plans I had for how my life/career would go looked increasingly ominous and distant.

But it was a journey that I embraced head on as we mothers do. Whether you get back into your kicks a few weeks post-partum, go back to your full time job before a year’s time, becoming a mom changes you – for the better in my experience. One example is I have become way more conscious of my diet and make healthy choices way more than I ever did before. Funny enough, I like food better now too.

The language of motherhood has evolved a bit for me as I contemplate with other moms with how to best prepare my kids for life in a dynamic world. Together with my husband, we are figuring out how to show these guys how to communicate, how to share, how to play with others, good manners, respect, obedience. Talk about brain power!

But I will never underestimate the journey of being a first-time mom and figuring out that you were doing “it” right. Adjusting to processing your world with a sleep deprived brain, insane feat. Realizing your partner did not have the same radical overnight transformation you did and explaining why your world is different now, a sometimes lengthy process. Finding fulfillment in days that bare no resemblance to what brought you that sense of a job well done in days past, tears will be shed.

Being a mom now (going for three!), every day I am so grateful that I get to be this person in my boys’ lives. There are few words that can express how my heart both breaks and swells when one of my little boys brings me a flower or says “I wuv you, Mom.” I share in their joy when they victoriously proclaim that they made it to the top of a rock. I swell with pride when I see them caring for each other with a gentle pat or stroke on the head.

It has taken me some time to embrace where ever I am at in this parenting journey. I think I am finally settling into a groove. Watch these guys shake things up for me because I know they will!

when it was just two


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Not so religious

It would seem I am not one of those “religious” people according to a friend of mine.

I didn’t know if it was a good thing or not that I am not seen as religious.

On the one hand, I don’t feel inhibited or shy about sharing what I believe, but apparently I don’t do so enough for others to realize it’s a big part of my life.

I have been trying to figure this out. There was a time that I had all the “Christianese” words, blessings and scripture verses to offer up. But honestly, back then, it was more for the sake of keeping with the Christian community and looking, talking, acting the part despite really having a naive understanding and relationship with Jesus Christ. Somewhere along the line, I realized that all my religion had really limited my view that faith belonged to “wholesome” individuals. Those who didn’t swear, didn’t struggle with addictions, spoke graciously (at least in public), wore modest clothing, etc. Albeit, these are all honourable and characteristics that can display what is in a person’s heart. But how many people have I known, have you known, who have said and done all the right things and lacked the most important thing of all? Genuine love.

This realization shifted my focus from trying to appear devout to simply accepting that nothing I do changes anything about what Christ has done for me.  I wanted to associate myself with being free in Christ, not bound by religion’s expectations. Religion was something that had earned some black stripes in the ugly history of the church. In the past, religious people have legitimized holy wars, slavery, witch burnings and so on. There are religious people who say they love Jesus and Jesus loves you and then ignore the hungry panhandler on the street. For all the good that has been done in the name of religion, there has been a substantial amount to devalue the true definition of the word.

We who follow Jesus call ourselves Christians. We come from all walks of life, not just the kind that grew-up in the church with a virtuous family life. There are those who have lived a harsh life on the streets, fighting, stealing, numbing their pain with a needle and those from broken, not so very virtuous families. Old habits die hard – it might be hard to tell that these people having a living faith because their faces show the harshness that the years have inflicted. Or on a tamer note, maybe they just aren’t virtuous people by nature and that is a constant battle with which they grapple. What does religion mean to these people? The societal view of religion seems to only stand as a barrier between the real Jesus and those who don’t know him.

Could I stand to be more of a evangelist? Sure. What I don’t want to do is put a wall up between me and those who don’t fit into my virtuous Christian bubble because I’m “religious.”

Those are some thoughts I have, but it’s a huge topic with a range of perspectives and determining life experiences. In any case, I am thankful to my friend for unintentionally challenging me to think about what how I might not be religious enough. 😉

contemplative, religion, faith, Jesus, society, bad rep


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Why we all need Easter

Two Years Without Ariel and How I Go On.
By Cindy Olsen


There are over seven billion people in this world, and yet so often I feel lonely. When Ariel was travelling in Mexico, or Ecuador, or England, I missed her. But I felt her presence on this earth. If I spent the rest of my life searching the four corners of the world, I would not find her. She is gone and I am lonely for her.

Please don’t tell me I have my memories of her because memories don’t suffice. Neither do pictures, nor her sweatshirts, nor her boots that I wear. I am lonely for her physical presence; her scowling during year end finals, her laughing when I did or said something silly, her hugs, her standing in our living room with her weight on one leg so she could use the other foot to maneuver a soccer ball in such a way that it looked like she was creating a dance. I am lonely for her – the mind, body and soul that was Ariel.

And yet, I go on.

There are three reasons I go on – a trinity of sorts. This trinity is made up of myself, my neighbours, and God.

I will start with myself because I knew pretty quickly that I needed to make a choice. Every morning I woke up with a groan. Every morning Ariel was still gone and I had to live another day without her and with the incredible emotional, spiritual and physical pain that caused. But every day I woke up. This pain that was so unbearable, was not going to actually kill me. Whether I liked it or not, whether or not I liked the circumstances of my life, life was going to continue. I needed to choose how I was going to live in this world without Ariel.

I could have chosen to fade away. Not to die, but to become (or stay) broken, less then myself, uninvolved, bitter, depressed, angry, sick. I could have become a worry and a burden to my husband, daughter, my son-in-law and grandsons, daughter-like nieces, sister, family and friends.
But they were already reeling from the loss of Ariel. I couldn’t do that to them. Because you see, I love them so much too; especially Ariel’s sister. I never want my Alysse to think that I love Ariel more then her. I love them equally.

So I chose to participate in life again.

Another reason I chose to participate is because even in my darkest depths I was aware that I am not the only person in this world suffering a traumatic loss. I thought of my grandmother who had three of her four children die before her. At Ariel’s service there were at least four sets of parents who had lost children. And one couple did not know that in two weeks time two of their sons would also be gone. Life is not fair for many people, not just me. I felt that choosing to participate in life again, was a way to acknowledge the suffering of others.

So I made this choice. But choosing to participate in life and actually doing it are two different things. I couldn’t do it by myself.

That is where you come in – “my neighbours” – the second member of this trinity. I define my neighbour as anyone other then me. It is you who did the hard work to help me live out my choice.

It is Randi and Mary who cooked and cleaned, got me dressed, did our laundry, did paperwork, made phone calls, and never left me alone. And they did this for weeks. It is my husband who has been patient and caring. It is Alysse sending pictures of the boys and coming down to visit more then normal. It is Menno and Arie just being their sweet selves. It is Taylor, Rudi and Bailey constantly phoning and visiting and keeping me company. The Ens family, Sammarco’s, Samuels, my parents and too many more to mention.

It is the cards, and meals, roses, orchids, hydrangeas, soups and pies that you all dropped off. It is the cherry blossom trees you planted. It is the ornaments, “likes” on facebook, words of encouragement, Pandora charms, necklaces and gifts for my grandsons. It is the photo album, books and poems. The box of notes and treasures from Nottingham.

It is Ariel’s friends, near and far – who showed compassion and maturity beyond their years. Coming to Ariel’s Amazing Race.

It is Ariel’s bench.

It is my faith community – family actually. Hundreds of people showing me love, crying with me, giving me space when I needed it, helping out.
Today and every day, I am thankful for my neighbours. I go on because of the overwhelming outpouring of love from all of you, my dear neighbours whom I love back.

Love. It is love that brings us to God. He completes this special trinity.
In the first few months, I showed no love towards God. I swore at Him, shook my fists at him, and stamped my feet. In anger I turned my back on him and even questioned His existence; which made me question the meaning of life. I asked hard questions. And I have processed those questions. I have talked with people and read a lot and reflected. I have worked hard. I’ve prayed. And in time, I turned back to Him. My anger turned to an even deeper understanding and stronger faith.

I go on because of my faith in Jesus. I believe that there is a beautiful, mysterious, magical, spiritual truth to our lives that is bigger then our physical death. I believe that Ariel is gone from this world and a part of me will always be sad. But I also believe that she now lives in Gods presence, where she is meant to be – where we are all meant to be and in that I have peace.

I am thankful for being able to make the choice that I did. I am thankful for you, the people whom I love and hold dear; who loved and cared for me so greatly that my only response was to get out of bed, get dressed and put one foot in front of the other. And I am thankful and praise God for creating us; for creating Ariel. I am thankful that he loves us so much that he wants us to live with him for all eternity. I am thankful that He made that happen. Because of Jesus, light wins, life wins, love wins.

I go on because I believe with all my heart and soul and mind that Ariel goes on….and that more than suffices.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter this April 20th,2014.


Dedicated to my husband who journeys with me.

 

These words were re-blogged with permission from the woman who wrote them – a lady with whom I used to attend church.


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The unbreakable bond

Sibling love. Shae and Oliver’s interaction hasn’t yet evolved to playing together but already, I see glimpses of Shae in his big brother role – like when a friend is holding Oliver and he gets quite concerned and tries to pull him away and back to my arms. Oliver watches his brother with wide eyes (often ready to wince as he anticipates being sat on no doubt). I think back to my own childhood and my siblings, especially my older sister. I was in awe of her as a child. She had beautiful soft, silky hair, eyes as bright and blue as the sky and full lips that curved up at the corners, ready to smile. She was quite creative and skilled and I strove to make my rag doll as beautiful as hers (it didn’t matter that she had six years on me, I was determined to produce something similar).

She knew me better than anyone. She was the shoulder I cried on when my first boyfriend broke up with me, she was the one with whom I could be silly, mad and however many other crazy emotions us girls feel. And I knew her better than anyone. I knew when she was pretending to be serious before I even saw a smile tugging on the corners of her lips. I knew when she was acting happy but was actually feeling anything but. We used to laugh when I would call her on her bluffs because she fooled others but not me.

It has been six years since I last saw her. There is so much I want to say to her that it is hard to determine where to start. I could tell her that everything that happened, that drew a wedge between us, it does not change anything for me because the bond we have is too strong. Some siblings don’t relate much to each other and once adults, they go their separate ways and reunite for holidays. But I was blessed to have a best friend in my sister. We used to compare ourselves to the Haine’s sisters’ in the movie White Christmas (“Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters…”) How I wish things had been different and that we could have been there for each other during our times of joy and sadness. I wish I could have been everything she needed me to be before the chasm.

What I would say to my sister if she were reading this…I love you so so much. I miss you in my life and I don’t have any grievances whatsoever and I am sorry for the ones I caused you.

I would tell her that I am proud of her because I know that she is a devoted mother, a beautiful and gentle soul (she would likely argue this point but that is because she doesn’t see what I see) and a strong and intelligent woman. If there is something to be said for age, it makes you smarten up a little and loose some of your childish arrogance (and yes, I am talking about myself).

Oh my boys, I pray with all my heart that you will share a close bond and will take care of each other whether it be in the playground or after school at the pizza place. I pray that you build each other up and encourage those around you to act in love and kindness. I pray you have the best of times and that you will come through the worst of times closer than ever before.

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sisters2

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr


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A sacred place

This is Medicine Beach.

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I brought my boys here this past weekend while we were visiting our old home on Pender Island. I watched as Shae played in a wonderland of driftwood, marsh grasses and other beach treasures. It was a sight sweeter than any other beach I have seen him play on. I always imagined my children playing on this beach, taking delight in the beautiful surroundings to explore.

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Almost three years ago, on a cold, misty and gray day in March, Jesse and I came to this beach to have a service for our Shaely Rose whom I held in my arms for only a day. We were overwhelmed with the love and support of our community who showed up in the rain that day to hold us – nearly 80 people.

Medicine Beach is more than a beautiful location to me – it is a place where dreams were dreamt, where they died and were laid to rest and now where they are revived.

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I believe places like this are sacred in the hearts of those who leave a piece of themselves there. The stillness; the gentle lapping of the water against the rocky shore; the wind rustling the grass and the call of birds in the marsh are indeed medicine for the soul. It both hurts my heart and fills it with gratitude to have such a place. Medicine Beach is a reminder of the beauty of life – its precious and fleeting presence and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

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