They’re worth it

It’s a cold but sunny Saturday morning and the house is quiet.

Bryant is currently in Greece with his uncle and cousin, sending us (too few) pictures and making us all wish we were there too. Tillie is off on a shopping day with her cousin. Dan and Andre went to pick up some baby pigs and since they were going through town, decided to splurge and get breakfast–I’m imagining at A&W. And Liesl is still sleeping. I saw the light on in her room after midnight last night. She probably read late.

It’s a weird and different phase of life these days. Our baby is a teenager tomorrow. I just spent time finding pictures to do a social media post for her tomorrow. This year I’m trying to do a short post with just 5 pictures and 5 words that describe each child. Often I don’t bother with birthday posts. With six children, it would be overwhelming if I mentioned every one of them every year.

But I found 22 pictures that I sentimentally saved, so I’ll have to pare them down.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the tiny yellow crocs?

These are good days. There are lots of quiet moments to think and there are people to hang out with if I’m craving conversation. Our kids are intuitive and witty and opinionated. They’re great company. We also spend lots of time staring at our respective screens, in case you think all is family and fellowship around here.

Natalia and Liesl are deep cleaning the kitchen for me. Natalia is a slave driver.

“Have you used this since I cleaned last?!”

“Can I please throw away these rags?”

“Let’s put the glasses in a more efficient spot.”

“Mom, it’s chipped. Do you really think we’ll want to use it in the cabin someday?”

And so on.

She is very good for me and I marvel that I gave birth to a daughter who is so organized.

If yours isn’t/aren’t like this, that’s ok! Liesl has a totally different personality and will likely never do things like Natalia does. And I’m sure your daughters shine in other ways. I could list Tillie’s faults too. But this isn’t the time or place.

It should be a fun day. We cleaned the house yesterday, so today we can bake, make tortillas for a birthday dinner, dig in the dirt, repot some plants, paint cards, etc. And I MUST wash the kitchen windows.

To all of you moms with small ones, I want to say all the cliche things like take time for your babies and enjoy them while they’re little and these days go by so fast.

But what I really want to say is: choose to embrace every stage with your families. They are worth everything you pour into them.

Happy Saturday!

~Luci

rainy day

It’s a rainy morning and in just a bit I will start cleaning house and watering plants. But I got on the computer to order seeds (yeah, we’re really late) and it’s such a cozy day that I felt like writing a few lines.

Yesterday I wrote Feb. 7/22 for the date on about 20 of the client slips we use for the thrift store before I realized my mistake. What in the world?!

Yesterday Dan also read to me, “Canadians wait all spring for spring.” The accuracy of this saying moves me deeply.

This meme is so, so accurate for my life.

I started to listen to The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom and it’s really good. But the reader isn’t the best. The last book I listened to had a reader who MADE the story. I’d love to be a great read-alouder, but I’m not.

Here is an excerpt from my current listen that caught me this morning: “Mama was always stirring up nourishing broths and porridges for forgotten old men and pale young mothers. On days, that is, when she herself was strong enough to stand before the stove.”

This family was very poor themselves, yet they gave and gave.

I thought seriously about this while I ate butter-slathered toast with peanut butter and raspberry jam and enjoyed zesty lime-lemon yogurt and took expensive pills for my mental health.

All I can figure out is that some people’s rewards in heaven will need to be greater than others’. (Ok, that others’ with the apostrophe doesn’t look right. Someone help me out here.)

Random fact: Our suburban is getting very rusty, but I think I will drive it to the ground. It has been such a good family vehicle for us.

There’s a ladies’ retreat in Montana this weekend that I am so sad to be missing out on. Please, if you are there, enjoy it for me!!

I painted cards last night.

You win some, you lose some.

The one below is…ugh.

But the picture I was trying to copy is so cute. Sometimes I get so frustrated with painting.

I have little zinnias and marigolds poking up in the sunroom. Happiness in a wee bit of dirt.

I thought I had a lot to write about, but that pretty much covers it. I wanted to rake straw off the lawn this morning from the straw house Dan built for the dogs and cats, but it is much too wet, so I’m afraid we’ll go through another weekend with the eyesore that is our front lawn.

Happy weekend to you all!

People

All my life I’ve looked AT people…white people, black peoples, short people, overweight people, people with bad skin, people with dreadlocks, girls with short skirts, homeless people, people with cooler clothes than mine, people with pet hair on their jackets, pop stars, homeless people, people with missing limbs.

I used to pray that I would quit looking at people and categorizing and judging them.

And you know what? God changed my heart.

Shane Claiborne writes, “Over time we can develop new eyes that look INTO people. Rather than objectify or demonize others, we can see them as sacred.”

I love that so much. Thanks to the people in my life who’ve looked past my noticeable Mennonite clothes and personal hang ups and seen ME. I want to extend that kind of grace to others.

(Photos from https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/large-group-of-people)

a dud of a mom

I try really hard not to. But this morning I heard the words coming out of my mouth when I couldn’t tell Victoria what was wrong with her viny plants that weren’t putting out new leaves and I couldn’t give her expert advice on paint colours because I’m so unsure of myself and just not really a decorator. “Sorry!” I said. “I’m kind of a dud of a mom.”

Of course she said that wasn’t true.

One of my kids sent me a message this morning on Instagram telling me that I sounded put upon for posting flower pictures from Washington and talking about “my spring starved self.”

I thanked them for their input. 🤪😂

My mom is a very self deprecating person. And though I didn’t inherit her organization and cleaning skills, I seemed to have gotten a big piece of her tendency for disparaging herself.

But I never know what to say when she’s down on herself, except to insist that she’s not telling the truth. And people don’t know what to say to me either. I feel like a petulant child. (“Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna go eat worms.”)

But sometimes I really DON’T feel like a good mom. I’ve struggled with mental health issues a lot of our child rearing years. I’m not the fun mom or the crafty mom or the musical mom or the orderly mom or the sewing mom or the sports mom or the farm mom. I thought I’d be the relationships mom, but I know my adolescents don’t feel very close to me sometimes. And with the older children it’s a work in progress. I always admired those girls who said their mom was their best friend. I wanted to be THAT mom.

Instead, my children have to remind me to be cheerful and not take myself so seriously and let go of my failures. Sometimes they have to take organizing a drawer in hand themselves because I’m not getting around to it. They help me throw away things that need to go.

And also they spend too much time on screens.

It’s tough to wake up and realize that you’re not the parent you dreamed you’d be.

But it’s okay.

We’re in this together, trying to do our best.

Maybe you’re not the good things I mentioned above either. But you cuddled your children close and read to them. Or you practiced hospitality and acceptance of people. Or you let them learn to cook and make a mess doing it. Maybe you raised children that help you more now than you feel like you ever helped them.

Or maybe (I pray not) some of your children have turned against you.

You are not a dud of a mom.

God matched perfectly when He matched your children with you. You are the perfect person to love and lead the children He gave you.

I pray that someday yours and mine will rise up and bless us.

(Mine already do in lots of ways. But I’ll always take more.)

Oh, March

It was grey and foggy all morning, making the road to school feel dangerous.

At noon the fog lifted and the sun shone, albeit it a bit weakly.

Now it’s snowing softly through the sunshine. I wonder if there will be a snow bow.

Our Sunday school lesson was from Song of Solomon yesterday. I’d put a discussion question on Facebook about whether likening it to the relationship between Christ and the church is accurate and I got some interesting responses. One friend said,

“Song of Solemn is clearly a love letter between a man and a woman. Think about it:

Solomon is lying in his bed thinking about the amazing love of his life. He cannot sleep, so he arises from his bed, grabs some cheese and wine from the Palace kitchen and goes outside to sit in the courtyard. The moon is bathing the palace and grounds in a soft light. He can see the trees of Lebanon in the distance. How he misses his lover!

“I know what I’ll do”, he thinks excitedly. “I will write a letter describing the love that Christ has for the church.”

He takes up his quill and writes.
“Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from the hills of Gilead. Your teeth are like a flock of sheep just shorn, coming up from the washing. Each has its twin; not one of them is alone. Your lips are like a scarlet ribbon; your mouth is lovely. Your temples behind your veil are like the halves of a pomegranate.”

Ok, enough said. 😂 This is not a depiction of Christ and the church! Solomon wrote a letter to his lover! Period! 🤣 Annnnd…she answers him! I agree with the person you quoted. What a bunch of prudes we are to think we need to liken this to the church!”

(End of quote)

Someone who commented on the Facebook post said they wanted to hear how our class went.

I think it went well. I feel like we came to the conclusion that Song of Solomon was not written as a depiction of Christ and the church, but we can take some lessons from it that would apply to our relationship with Jesus. We talked about marriage and “little foxes that spoil the vines” and that intimacy is a beautiful thing. We talked about jealousy. And how helpful it is to read Song of Solomon in a version that separates the speakers so it’s less confusing.

Then we went home and had white chili and cauliflower/broccoli salad and fresh rolls and pumpkin torte with friends around our dinner table.

And now it’s Monday and I’m trying to be productive. I struggle so with fatigue because of the meds I take and I’m so weary of being tired. Naps help. But I miss feeling fresh and energetic. And yeah… I should probably try plexus again. Maybe I didn’t give it a fair shot.

Spring, mountains, and fabric

Spring is coming. I get so anxious that I can hardly bear the wait.

We just came home from a week-long trip to a pastor’s retreat we attend in Hungry Horse, Montana, lunch with our niece and family in Kallispell, a weekend with friends in Thompson Falls, and visit to my mom’s in southern Alberta.

When we visited Prince Edward Island, I was sure that I would be deliriously happy if I could just live by the sea.

But in southern Alberta, I think it would be awesome to live with white capped mountains in the distance.

We leave pieces of our hearts wherever we go, don’t we?

It’s good to be home again. It was so weird to get groceries and be at work today with unmasked people. It’s been seven long months and I love seeing people’s faces again.

My baby is reading Jane Eyre and made supper tonight: mock ham loaf, baked potatoes, and Caesar salad.

That’s all from our house tonight. I don’t want to forget you blog readers. 😊

Church, potlucks, and bundled up roasters

There is something about Sunday afternoon that always makes me feel like writing.

It’s a windy and warm day. We had a potluck at church for the first time in a long while. It was so nice to eat together again, even though fellowship meals are not my favourite thing. I’m probably weird, but the mixture of foods on my plate at a random potluck isn’t very appealing to me. But I feel like I should try a variety. And then I always eat too much. Am I strange or normal?

Then there’s all the small talk and I don’t do the greatest with that either. Yes! I’m an extrovert. And yes! Small talk is uncomfortable for me.

This is not to say, dear BayTree trustees, that we shouldn’t have fellowship dinners. I love not having to cook as much variety on a Sunday and the closeness of friendship and the cute babies and the abundance of delicious salads.

Here’s a tip I learned from my mom. If the oven at church is full and the plug ins are all filled with crockpot cords, you can bake your lunch before you leave and wrap it in an old blanket or towels and it will stay nice and hot for several hours.

All bundled up for church

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about church and what makes us what we are (especially as Mennonites) and ways we could improve and make the ordinary passerby feel at home with us.

I’m reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and he talks about his friend Penny who wanted nothing to do with religion because she felt like Christians were “narrow minded people, politically conservative and hypocritical.” She disliked Christians because on humanitarian issues, she felt herself directly opposing the opinions held by many evangelicals. She also felt “that if Christianity were a person-that is, all Christians lumped into one human being-that human being probably wouldn’t like her.”

When Penny learned about Jesus from a friend, she felt like if she would meet Him, He would like her.

What do the people in our hometowns and communities say about us?

My blogger friend Yolanda, who writes at https://travelight94.com/, (my linker thing doesn’t seem to be working) did a Q & A a while ago about church and what we feel ours is doing right and areas where we could improve. I think she compiled the answers into a blog post then. But I can’t seem to find it. 😩

All this to say, I am going to copy Yolanda. I’d love if you’d either comment here or on Facebook or message me privately on messenger or Instagram with what you appreciate about your church. Or email dugoutwillow@gmail.com.

And also talk about areas where you could improve.

I’d love to compile your answers into a blog post someday. Anonymously, of course.

Is that asking a lot?

Thanks in advance for contributing.

Thursday evening

My life is full of
flannel shirts and sawdust,
house plants and coffee mugs,
beef and chicken,
salad greens and granola.

I fail often.
But there are usually cookies after school
and lazy Saturday mornings
and good after dinner conversations.

I indulge in chocolate sometimes
and don’t exercise as often as I should.
But there are usually clean clothes to wear
and clean plates to eat from in my house.

My hair is grey and my teeth aren’t white like in the ads.
But I care about my skin and I like pretty shoes and scarves.

A beautiful sunset still blows me away,
as does Dan hugging me from behind,
and realizing that my kids are really nice people.

I’m slowly learning about boundaries and being honest but kind.
But it doesn’t take much at all for me to cry and pray and worry about people.

I buy a huge bag of dog food once a week,
go to ladies’ Bible study,
and work with precious people at Networks Ministries on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

This week I am studying to teach Ecclesiastes 1 on Sunday and I feel deeply with Solomon that life is monotonous and vain and wearisome.
But I still believe that compassion changes the world and that God’s in His heaven and also in our hearts.

And there’s not really a reason for this post, other than that it’s a quiet evening and I was eating a marzipan chocolate and drinking decaf coffee and I felt like writing something.

I could ask you to tell me in the comments what your life is full of and what you do once a week and what you believe in–and I’d love if you would. But it’s annoying to be asked to answer questions you don’t feel like answering. So I’ll just leave Dan’s flannel shirts right here and go to bed soon and feel silly for feeling like I have to somehow put my life out here for you to read.

Shalom.

Friends, pretty shoes, and favourite ages

Natalia is making Mucho Burrito style burritos tonight for supper, so I have the evening off. I should attack something that needs doing, but I never feel like starting a project after a day at work.

My sea salt and caramel candle from my friend Sunny is burning and I just had tea with Lori while her daughter had a piano lesson with Tillie.

I love my friends!

Yesterday I had a wonderfully cozy visit with my friend Suzi.

Today at work I saw an ad on Instagram for these shoes. They probably wouldn’t look good on me, but I think they’re sooo pretty. Natalia says no one nowadays wears shoes like that. “But they’re on a nowadays ad!” I exclaimed.

Life has been slightly humdrum lately. I’m glad I encounter so many interesting people at work. They help make the February days brighter.

Here’s a picture I posted on Facebook the other night, along with this caption:

Carol, Julia, Alta, Twila, Luci, Linda

“This was the era of singing while we did dishes, gathered yokes and shirt-style collars and below-the-elbow sleeves, shoes that clicked, and black, black stockings. We wrote our dreams in our diaries, had crushes on some of the same boys, and adored Julia’s babies.

Our house was a constant flow of people coming in and out. The church people would gather there before singing at the nursing home and again afterwards for food. Mom would worry about if the guys using Dad’s shop had lunch along and we’d invite them in. We babysat and worked at meat packing plants and taught school. There were loud discussions late at night. Brian Mulroney was prime minister. Someone was always on a diet. We worried over pimples.

Our house was cream coloured with dark brown trim and it had one small bathroom with a bold blue tub. Mom grew calendula and nasturtiums. Dad read Time magazine.

It was a good time in my life.
Circa 1988.”

That means I was probably 14 on this picture.

I don’t know what stage of life has been my favourite. I know that 17 was a wonderful age.

But I loved our Belize years too.

And having teenagers is a pile of fun.

Do you have an age you look back on as your favourite?

Wedding

I’m taking a week off from Facebook and Instagram, learning to play Wordle, and trying to stay on top emotionally in the doldrums of February in the north.

Tori posted a wedding album on Facebook the other day and I stole some pictures from it for my blog.

It was a beautiful day. Happy sigh. I had a hard time picking my favourites. Hence the many.

These days they do these “first look” photos.
With Dan’s parents.
Alex’s family, Laverne and Mary Coblentz
The Martin clan
With Grandma Peachey
All photo credits to Elisa Rose Photography.

This morning I’m baking pumpkin whoopie pies. I hope February is treating you well.