The image we portray…

It’s so easy on social media to make life look perfect……….picture perfect.
I posted a picture of Glenn and I at a marriage retreat we are attending this weekend. Don’t get me wrong, all the positive comments mean a lot and are very appreciated. However…one picture doesn’t tell the whole story and I don’t want to leave anyone with a false impression.

Glenn and I struggle……..a lot! In fact, there was a season where I thought I might leave. This is in no way trying to lay blame, I’m sure the thought may have crossed his mind as well!!!! I just want to make you aware that we don’t have it all together, no matter how cute the picture is.
We have huge personality differences, conflicting work schedules, and after 33 years and nine kids, we have experienced a significant drift.

Don’t get me wrong, we love each other deeply, but maintaining the emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of our relationship began to take a back seat to years of stress, fatigue, and emotional distance.
Truth be told, probably the only reason we are still together is because Glenn is such an amazing man and puts up with a lot.

But he’s not perfect, neither am I.

I’m thankful for the material we’ve been given this weekend but on its own, it won’t do much. It’s going to require something from both of us and it will be a life-long pursuit of oneness and true intimacy.

The Christmas I will never forget…

The post I share below was written exactly eight years ago today.  At the time, our Christmas was looking very, very bleak.   Our income was barely existent, we had most of our nine children and our two grandsons and their mom living with us, and we had experienced some very real and emotional trauma as a family unit.   Yet in spite of all that, or maybe because of all that, we had our most memorable Christmas ever!!

What I remember most is Christmas Eve….  I had made a family DVD that showed pictures all through the years and had worked hard to chose the right songs and line specific pictures with specific parts of songs etc.  I knew it had turned out well when everyone was sobbing.  

Then for hours, we nibbled from our appetizer buffet (a yearly tradition Christmas Eve), and reminisced.  I learned a lot that night as the kids began to share their memories!!! :).  We shared a lot of laughs, and a few tears.  It’s what we do….

Take time to enjoy the people you will celebrate this season with.  As I say below, there are people here this year that may not be next year.  Life is more fragile than we know…..make it count.

I give you permission….

November 25, 2010

If you have read some of my Facebook posts, you will know that we are attempting to do Christmas different this year.

As you may well imagine, with such a large family, the usual gift giving and the stress of trying to find the dollars to fund it all, is always a struggle; so much so, that as people began talking about Christmas being just around the corner, I felt this huge weight settle on me, a heaviness that I’m pretty sure could be accurately defined as a form of depression. Not only do we have a large family to buy Christmas gifts for, but 3 of our children were born in December before Christmas!!! Who planned that, I’m not sure!! 😉

I know I’m not alone. I know that I’m not the only one that feels a tremendous pressure to buy stuff we don’t really need with money we definitely don’t have to celebrate a holiday that moves steadily away from the true intent of the occasion in the first place! As the kids would say, “It’s messed”!!

So, I decided that I will not go through another holiday with the stress, pressure, and depression that, until now, have become annual guests. Instead, we are on a journey to discover how to truly celebrate this holiday, and make it incredibly meaningful, independent of the latest “must-haves.”

At a totally impromptu family meeting, I laid the situation out before the kids. I presented the reality, but then challenged them to come up with ideas as to how we CAN celebrate this holiday and make it both memorable and significant. As we discussed ideas and shared our hearts, the excitement began to grow. Katie came up with the idea of putting together a family scrap book with contributions from all of us, and we grew excited about the time we will spend just being together as we gather for our traditional Christmas Eve “family party.” As the days have unfolded since then, more and more ideas are surfacing. Stephanie called and said that she was going to write each member of the family a letter for Christmas, and challenged us all to do the same. Josiah wants to put together a family video and then give DVD copies to everyone, and I’m sure there will be more ideas to come.

We could have very easily become depressed or discouraged if our focus had remained on what we “can’t” do this year, but there was animation and excitement as we began to explore the possibilities for things we CAN do instead!!! We even have a very special gift that we believe God wants to send us, one we are praying and believing for, as it will only happen by His incredible grace, might, and mercy. We are dreaming big!

Obviously, all of our ideas so far have centered mostly on family. This is incredibly fitting since, as a family, we are all pretty darn tight. But the reality is, that we wouldn’t be this family without Jesus. He took a lost, empty, lonely young woman and gave her a new life, REAL life, filled with promise, hope, freedom, and purpose. He called me, revealed His love to me, cleansed me, and then took me on a journey. There have been mountains, and there have been valleys. He put people in my life that have shaped me, challenged me, and supported me, and some have even hurt me. He took a lost, lonely girl and gave her a wonderful husband and nine amazing children!!! I wouldn’t be who, or where, I am today, and neither would the rest of this family, if it were not for Him!!!!

So we are going to use the tradition of Advent to prepare our hearts, align our focus, and reintroduce wonder and awe to our celebrations this year. I want this life of Christ within me to take center stage this holiday, in whatever way He chooses to manifest Himself. I know that the possibilities are endless, and we are remaining sensitive and attuned to the opportunities and ideas that He will whisper in His still, small, voice.Just in case you need it,

I give you permission to do Christmas different this year; to step off the conveyor belt carrying the masses into stress, pressure, debt, and depression, and continually farther from the real reason we should celebrate. Just step off, step to the side, let it go on without you. Take back this season, and feast on the “small” pleasures that money can’t buy. Life is short, and some of the people that are here this year may not be here next year, another fact that I was painfully reminded of recently, so make it count!!!

I’m not saying no gifts….we will probably do one gift to the whole family and then there will be others from grandparents etc., but gifts will NOT be our focus, at least not the gifts that take money to buy. There are much more valuable gifts waiting to be unwrapped and experienced this year, but they don’t present themselves in flashing neon lights or on the glossy pages of the Sears Wish Book. They are priceless and irreplaceable, spiritual and emotional, and you can’t buy them…you have to discover or create them.”

Thirty-two years….gone but never forgotten <3

The memoriam I wrote on the first anniversary of Andrew’s birth/death…

We didn’t get to see you smile

Or watch you run and play

We couldn’t tuck you in each night

Or see you growing day by day

You never knew how much we loved you

Before you went away

And though we never really knew you

We miss you more than we can say

Our arms still ache to hold you

Our eyes still shed the tears

Our thoughts so often turn to you

Even though it’s been a year

But we know you’re safe and happy

In your heavenly home above

Surrounded by the tender care

Of our Heavenly Father’s love

And when our work is over

And we reach that final place

We’ll finally get to hold you

And watch you run and play

We’ll tell you how much we love you

We’ll say it again and again

For we’ll be together for eternity

Our time will never end

So although we must wait now

For that time to be

We hang a little Teddy

From our Christmas tree

It reminds us that there is a life

Which we shall share some day

And that our little Andrew

Waits just across the way.

Those for whom my heart beats…

Untitled design-3My husband Glenn and I have nine children. We were a homeschooling family for about fourteen years, have lived in the bush in a log home/cabin. We have five boys and four girls and though there were years I wondered if it was even possible, they have grown to be each other’s best friends. Presently, we/they are scattered throughout eastern and northern Ontario and it gets harder and harder to get us all in one place at the same time; making it all the more special when it happens.