shakerboard kid

 2011 rachael little caesars 1
My sweet Rachael has her first public job. She's been working for years at paper routes and babysitting, but now she is gainfully employed at Little Caesar's. When she applied for the job the boss asked if she'd work the shakerboard. Rachael had no idea what "shakerboard" meant, but since it had the word board in it she associated it with cardboard and figured shakerboard had something to do with folding pizza boxes. Hence, she enthusiastically responded that yes, she'd work shakerboard. When she got in the car after the interview she asked what shakerboarding was. When she learned that the person who stands next to the street shaking the Little Caesar sign is shakerboarding, she turned red, shrunk down in the seat and groaned, "oh no."

Today is her third day of shakerboarding. Gordon and I have been out spying three times. I know I'm her mom and all, but it's a fact, the girl really rocks at shakerboarding. She puts in her earphones and jumps around like she was made to advertise $5 pizzas. I am so so proud. {Insert a great big grin here.}

Yesterday, determined to get a picture, I went stalking again. My picture (and a video) are pretty poor - I was driving - but I got this picture of the sweetie. Turns out we aren't the only stalkers. The boss told her yesterday that he'd driven by twice and she does a really good job. I'm so proud of her.


resolves kept

I get irked by the pessimists who say there isn't any use in New Year's resolutions because no one keeps them anyway. It's true, truer than I like to admit, that many of my beginning-of-the-year goals don't get kept. I've never lost those last pesky 100 pounds, nor do I work out everyday. So yes, I don't keep them all, but I do keep some.

1986 -  Before legislation dictated it, I began wearing a seat-belt. Stephanie was nine months old and I wanted to set a good example. For 20 years I have kept that resolution.

2001 - I don't usually wear my contacts or glasses in the house. Therefore I use to not notice how dirty my floors got. I would often be shocked when I donned my glasses to see the dirty floors. Five years ago I committed to putting on my glasses at least three times a week to vacuum. I still vacuum more frequently than I use to.

2004 - I gave up cream and sugar in my coffee on January 1, 2004. A lady at church was my inspiration. She said that she lost 25 pounds when she gave up cream and sugar. Well, I never lost any weight, but must admit I love my coffee black and have never looked back.

2004 - I began to live "greener." Reducing, reusing, and recycling. I buy fewer things, recycle and compost everything that can be recycled or composted. (Did you know that 70-80% of North American waste could be recycled or composted?) I mulch cut grass instead of bagging it, walk more when I use to drive, use my clothesline in the spring and summer, don't water my grass anymore, take transit some, and generally try to live more considerately of the planet.

2004 - I learned to take the bus. I'm a small-town girl in the city, so this was a big one for me. Now I'm relatively comfortable taking transit when I need to or want to.

2005 - Memorized the Apostles' Creed and two Bible passages.

It's encouraging to see some of these successes. They encourage me to keep aiming for something.

2005's blessings

January!, the time of year where we look back and think, "Wow, where did all the time go?" It's a reflective time and, hopefully, a time where we can see the hand of God in some of the circumstances and events of the previous year. Yesterday during community prayer at church, a lady prayed something like "Our God in heaven who dances and laughs over the good things in our lives." I don't remember her exact words, but it was a beautiful picture in my mind.

I like to imagine that God laughed and danced many times in 2005 because of good things in my family. My 2005 highlights are these:

- Stephanie's wedding. Stephanie married a kind man who, along with her, is striving to be a follower of Jesus. John Mark comes from a good family and has watched his mom and dad interact lovingly all his life. I believe God prepared them for each other their whole lives and I know God has good things in mind for them. Their wedding and reception were beautiful and I think they'll have great memories for years to come.

- Trip to Arkansas. Gordon and I got away without children for the first time ever. I would have loved to take the girls to Arkansas for the wedding, but as some observant person once said, "Money doesn't grow on trees." Anyway, Gordon and I had a wonderful time, just the two of us. I buy a new Christmas ornament every year that captures something special regarding our year. 2005's special ornament is two moose in bed together. It's symbolic of our trip away together without any little moose tagging along.

- I don't actually recall if it happened in 2004 or 2005, but I've reconnected with my dear aunt (Jill) via Instant Messenger. She gives me lots to think about, is a wonderful sounding board, and makes me laugh hysterically.

0005 (Frodo and me working a Sudoku, 2005)
- Frodo. Frodo, Hannah's new puppy, brings a new element of joy to us. I have shown the girls several times Revelation 3:11, "For His pleasure all things were created." Our dogs make me smile often and it's special for me to think that God smiles (laughs and dances?) with us at the dogs' antics. After all, He created them for His pleasure.

- Pier 1. In October, I celebrated ("celebrated" is WAY too strong) my first year anniversary at Pier 1. I haven't worked in years, but when Deborah started school, I took this part-time job. My job doesn't pay much, but the hours are amazingly tailored to me. I'm thankful for that.

- Christopher's visit in the summer. Christopher gave me loads of laughter in the summer. I enjoyed him immensely. He was wonderful company and an awesome addition to the family while he was here.- My Hysterectomy. Suffice it to say, I am happy to have it all behind me. I'm thankful for modern medicine.

2005 was a good year and I say thank you to God for that.

all things work together

Salty tears,
Bitter remorse.
All things work together.

Deepest valleys,
Darkest nights.
All things work together.

Mournful memories,
Unrelenting guilt.
All things work together.

Tangled thoughts,
Disjointed emotions.
All things work together.

For my good,
Yes, my good.
All things work together.

Last night I read this latest poem of mine to Gordon. He let me finish and then said, "One of your lighter little ditties, eh?" He is so funny.

new rodents

Girls with new hamsters (Hannah and Dusty
Deborah and Harry
Rachael and Smudge)
Deborah got a hamster for Christmas. She named him Harry. When Gordon took the girls to the pet store to pick up supplies for Harry, they came home with a surprise for me; two new mice. I was less than enthusiastic. I love animals, but mice? The girls begged and pleaded and I reluctantly agreed to the new house mates. Two hours after they arrived, the house stank. I went to Hannah's room and the stench about knocked me over. "This is not a good sign," I said. Hannah sheepishly agreed.

By evening I could smell them in my bedroom. I shouted, "I can smell those rats from here and they've gotta go." No one argued. The smell was pretty convincing.

The next morning Gordon took the girls and their mice back to Petsmart. He told the clerks that the mice stank and the clerk matter-of-factly said, "Oh yeah, mice stink, especially males." (Ours, of course, were males).

An hour later my family arrived home with two new hamsters. Dusty and Smudge bring our rodent population up to a bustling three. I'm fine with hamsters, I even like them. We've had several and they've all been loved.


i must tell jesus

In so many of our churches, the battle rages: hymns or choruses. I personally love both. Does that make me a well-balanced person? I grew up with hymns and personally appreciate the good theology many of them proclaim, although I went through years of hating them. I have come full circle and now commonly experience the need to sing hymns, or even think hymns, as a form of prayer and intercession.

I play the piano sort of like I sew, minimally. If it can be played in the key of C, I can make a stab at it. When my heart is heavy, I often play this song over and over. God knows my heart and it seems playing this hymn over and over is a type of prayer. Sometimes I can't pray. At times like those, I often find myself at the piano playing "I Must Tell Jesus."

I must tell Jesus all of my trials,
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me,
He ever loves and cares for His own.

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior,
One who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus,
He all my cares and sorrows will share.

O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the victory to win.

It's been a piano playing kind of day.

merry christmas

(Smore time. Deborah, Hannah, Rachael, 2005)  We are on chocolate overload. At this point (I know this emotion is fleeting)Smore time I never want to see another chocolate. I have a reputation for loving chocolate and I've definitely had my share over the past couple days.

We were awakened by the girls around five this morning. I was pretty grumpy and told everyone to go back to bed. At seven we got up and found them all sitting on the sofas waiting for us. Holy cow, how do they go on so little sleep?

After reading the Christmas story from the Bible and praying, we began opening presents. As usual it was a long drawn out affair with lots of excitement. I am pleased with how the kids show kindness and gratitude.

A subtle shift has taken place in the gift giving. Rachael and Hannah are getting fewer toys and more young girl type gifts. Rachael got her first loop earrings and they both got body spray, a watch, and incense for their rooms. Oh my. What happened to the doll and lego days? Deborah still loves toys; Polly Pockets, Barbies, My Little Pony.... She also got a hamster cage and tomorrow will be going to the pet store to pick out her little rodent. 
 
After gift giving we went to church. None of us really wanted to, but it seemed like the right thing to do. We got dressed in a hurry and away we went, looking like we just rolled out of bed. We were so glad we went because it was such a warm, intimate service. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The girls were called up to light the advent candles. I had totally forgotten that I had agreed to that. Thank God Rachael dressed appropriately. She looked like a perfect lady. Hannah looked like a farmer in her overalls and Deborah had on the same dress she's had on for 2 1/2 days. Yep, we sure made an impression, I feel sure. I had on my favorite sweat suit. Anyway, it's not about how we looked, is it? It really was a good service. I was thankful we went.

Gordon had to go to work this afternoon. We found out on Friday that he got a promotion. I'm proud of him. He has a "good name." He's a hard working man of integrity. I'm thankful for him.

Later on, the girls and I will watch It's a Wonderful Life and make s'mores as we do. Several years ago, Stephanie got us this nifty s'more maker and boy do we make memories with it.


no presents under the tree - yet

(Frodo 2005)
People often ask why we don't have presents under the tree. Well it so happens that I have a very good reason. For one, where would Frodo sleep if there were presents under the tree? He has claimed this spot as his own. Doesn't he look cute?

But the real reason I don't put the presents out is because I am trying to teach the children that presents aren't what Christmas is about. Since we've done it this way all their lives, they don't think it's strange.

There is great excitement in the house on Christmas Eve and their expressions are priceless when they walk into the living room on Christmas morning and see a huge stash of presents. It's a fine tradition. I'm glad we have it and I'm glad my kids are starting to "own" our traditions.

This year, because of Frodo, we don't have ornaments on the bottom of the tree. He found everyone of them that were within reach the first day. I promptly moved them out of his little snout's reach.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

christmas eve at the dykstra home

(Deborah, 2005) It's been another delightful day. We had our big Christmas meal today. After plenty of time allowing it to digest, Gordon took Rachael and Hannah to see Narnia. Deborah and I stayed behind for some quality time together. I wanted to see Narnia too, but Deborah didn't. We've heard from several people that Deborah looks like Lucy on Narnia. Since Deborah doesn't like the way Lucy sounds like she looks in the book, she isn't fond of the idea of looking like Lucy. She has a tiny bee in her bonnet regarding this. Having a dog named Lucy doesn't help.

The highlight of the day was opening our stockings -- our Christmas Eve tradition. Everyone was excited and slightly goofy through the whole thing. My girls are so sweet. After pulling out each item, they would hug the giver and say thank you.

It's been a great day.

christmas eve 2005

We started our Christmas festivities tonight. First we had a "finger-food" dinner with wine (non- alcoholic) then we watched Ernest Saves Christmas. When that was over we took hot chocolate and went to view Christmas lights.

It's been a fun-filled family evening.

(Hannah and Deborah, 2005)

the light

I sit in silence
The ticking of the clock is the only distraction
The fir tree in the corner lights the darkness with delicate intrusion

"He is your light," they say
"He lights the way"
"His light drives the darkness away."

His light is His gift to me.
My gift to Him? Receive His light.
Let Him light my dark path.

He is in my darkness.
Only in darkness can I experience
the the dawning of a new day.

Only by dying can I be resurrected.

closure

i do not know.
the in-between is painful, unclear.
questions. what it truth?

emotions are raw,
hurt is palpable.
afraid of the truth,
afraid to know.

alas, i know.
i cry.
i hurt.
i surrender.
i accept.

now it is clear.
truth is in the open.
no more nagging unsettledness.

closure.
painful? very.
searing? yes.

truth! it will set me free.

fingernails

In keeping with my latest theme of church and of writing thoughts down so as to figure out what I think, I will share another unclear thought.

I have paper thin nails and usually cut them once a week to keep from tearing them and living with pain from a too short nail. For Stephanie's wedding, I pampered my nails with strengthener and grew them longer. For me, they were long. I got somewhat obsessed with them because the strengthener peels off so cool-like. I love to tear it off trying to get it all off in one peel. Very entertaining. During this time of digit pampering, I've become quite acquainted with my nails.

I noted an interesting thing. Every single nail has an indention in it straight across, right in the middle. Because I'm easily amused with the simple things in life, I showed it to Gordon and we discussed when I might have had a change in my diet or something like that to create this indention.

I decided it was the hysterectomy and see a wonderful parable in this. My hands and fingernails were not directly involved in my hysterectomy, yet because they are part of my body, they were affected. They suffered trauma through my surgery and now that trauma is visible.

I thought of the passages in Romans and 1 Corinthians; if one part of the body of Christ suffers, every part suffers. Through my fingernail, I understood this teaching better.

Whether I notice or not I am bearing the markings of pain of my brothers and sisters. And likewise, they are bearing the marks of my sufferings.

There is a lesson for me in my fingernails.

church according to little house on the prairie

William Faulkner said something to the effect that he couldn't know his own thoughts clearly until he had written them. I can identify with that thought. Therefore I shall try to work through some of my thoughts, in writing.

My church is going through a difficult time. Our pastor (and good friend) resigned under less-than-ideal circumstances. Over the past couple years a number of wonderful people have left. What I use to consider a vibrant, alive church now seems dry, and even lonely.The spirit of love and concern for each other is very strong. I love these people. We are like a family. However, my own excitement for going to church is gone.

When I was in Arkansas, I saw little churches dotting the countryside. They were simple, white, old church buildings. They reminded me of my grandmother's church when I was growing up. I was impressed by their simplicity and wondered what their services were like.

I thought of the church services on Little House on the Prairie. By our standards today, church on Little House on the Prairie was dry and stale. But the essentials were there; praise, prayer, teaching/exhortation, and love and care for one another. There were no programs.

As I drove past these country churches, I knew they each one had their problems, but wondered if they were closer to the target than our more polished churches. (Certainly they are closer to the Little House on the Prairie model.) Perhaps we've complicated things with our programs and our technology.

This morning before others arrived, I sat in my church sanctuary praying. I felt discouraged and lonely. So many friends no longer attend church with us. Our music can be pretty rugged, whereas it used to be full and alive. There are few programs left that my family can participate in. As I thought about these things, I recalled again how they did church on Little House on the Prairie. I remembered the commitment of the people to be there; I remembered their participation in un-glamorous song; I remembered the sermons by the un-dynamic pastor.

Two times now, the Little House on the Prairie model has come to mind. Could it be that God was speaking to me? Henry Blackaby said that any encounter with truth is an encounter with God. Could God be leading me in these Little House on the Prairie memories?

This morning after my thoughts on Little House on the Prairie, I lowered my standard and tried to emulate the congregants on Little House on the Prairie. It helped. I prayed, I sang.

2005 christmas letter

December 14, 2005

Merry Christmas from the Dykstra Family! This is a time of year that I love. I love the traditions, the activities and the peace and joy that come with the season. People often express frazzled feelings during this season, but generally speaking, I’m not one of those.

Handsome ChristopherI write this letter two days after arriving home from Arkansas where we watched my sweet Stephanie wed John Mark. It was a beautiful wedding and reception. Stephanie and John Mark will make their home in Fayetteville where Stephanie is studying nursing and John Mark is studying business. Stephanie will complete her studies in May 2006. I am very proud of Stephanie and the choices she has made. She demonstrates wisdom and grace in so many areas. I wish I had been more like her when I was her age.

Christopher will soon be 17. I reveled in my time with him this summer, and again briefly at Stephanie’s wedding. He is quickly becoming a man; a kind, gentle, patient man. He brings me great joy. He works in the wood shop of his dad’s aircraft interior business and is learning lots.

Two years ago we stopped Home Schooling and enrolled the children in an Adventist school about two blocks from our house. Not only is it super convenient, it’s a wonderful school; we couldn’t ask for better. There are solid Christian teachers, regular worship and Bible memory, a warm and caring atmosphere and small classes. Tuition sets us back a bit financially, but it’s worth every dime.
3 lovely daughters Rachael is now ten and in grade five. She is energetic, responsible, and a voracious reader, and also quite tall. She is a delight to have helping around the house, which she does frequently. She is great with little children and looking forward to being old enough to babysit.

Hannah is nine and in grade four. She is the family clown, always ready with a funny voice or saying. She loves to mimic cartoons and the kids have their own “inside” jokes. This year she too has become an avid reader. For her birthday, she got a cute little Chihuahua that she quickly named Frodo. She is a good “mom” to Frodo.

Deborah is six and in grade one. She is a very good student. This time last year, her work habits left me thinking we were raising a pig. Every child is motivated by something, and allowance was the key for Deborah. Now she does her chores without complaining and her room is a fair bit tidier. We are all happy about that.

This past summer all the girls went to camp at Gull Lake. It was their first time away from home for more than an overnight with Grandma. They had a blast and are anxious to return next summer.

Back in 2004 we had a big year for holidays. In February, I took all three girls to visit my family in the U.S. for a month. In addition to visiting aunts and uncles in North Carolina, Florida and Arkansas, it was the girls’ first time to see the ocean, and they loved it. They were just old enough for the trip to be truly memorable, and the girls now have a big place in their heart for all our Southern relatives.

Later in 2004 we spent our summer vacation at Pembina River, just outside of Edmonton. It wasn’t far away, but “getting away from it all” was good. After the first two days of solid rain, and turning our little campsite into “tarp kingdom,” we had seven wonderful days.

This year, summer holidays found us camping at Greig Lake, Saskatchewan. Greig Lake is a beautiful, clean, clear lake and the weather cooperated. It was very hot, but since we were at a lake, it didn’t much matter. Although it was a shorter trip than last year, we had a great time.

Gordon is still a supervisor with Edmonton Transit. He works ten-hour days four days a week and the three-day weekend every week is a wonderful thing. Presently, he is on “holidays” and busy renovating our upstairs bathroom. Goodbye robin-egg blue and welcome white. This is a job we’ve wanted to do for eight years. Finally it’s happening.

I am still working part-time at Pier 1 Imports. I work 9-2 several days a week. I’m home when the kids leave for school and I’m home when they return. I could easily find a better paying job, but I couldn’t easily find a job with hours so ideal. I’m thankful.

I had a hysterectomy in August and happy to have that ordeal behind me. The initial complications cut into our vacation just a bit, but everything turned out well – Praise God!

Our menagerie of pets continues to grow. Deborah is getting a hamster for Christmas. She has wanted one for a couple years and we think she’s ready. She asked for one for her 5th birthday and promised that she wouldn’t "pull his legs off.” Little hamster will join two dogs, Frodo and Lucy, our cat Lacy, and three charming betta fish.

Our home is filled with love, joy and usually peace. I’ve always prayed that we’d be a family of love, joy, peace, and laughter. Laughter is a wonderful gift and we do lots of it. I’m blessed with a husband and kids that make me laugh. So many gifts we take for granted, but laughter is one that I’m acutely aware of and thankful for.

2005 has been a good year. We are ending the year on a good note; we are healthy, happy and hopefully growing wiser by the year. God has crowned our year with bounty and we give him thanks and glory for his goodness to us.
Merry Christmas!

With Love,

The Gordon Dykstra Family

back from arkansas

Gordon and Valerie(Gordon and me at the reception)
Gordon and I returned home Monday after five days in Arkansas where we watched my sweet Stephanie wed John Mark. It was a glorious occasion and Stephanie and John Mark make a handsome couple.

Stephanie's dad and his wife did up a gorgeous reception. I trust Stephanie and John Mark reveled in the evening and have pleasant memories for years to come.

I had a delightful evening reconnecting with people I've not spoken with in years.

Every time I travel back to Arkansas, I lay more ghosts to rest. This trip was significant in that way too. More ghosts buried, more victories won. I read a billboard today that said, "Only the humble improve." I can't take home any awards for being the most humble, but I can say that I continue to see God's grace revealed to me and it's clearest when I'm walking in humility. I have so far to go, but praise be to God, I'm not where I was 15 years ago, 10, 5, or 1 year ago. I'm thankful to God for that.

(My mom and step-dad)
Meme and Pabob
Highlights of my trip:

- Gordon was with me and we had a great time together.

- Seeing Stephanie's dream come to fruition.

- Laughing hysterically with my family over and over and over.

- The food down there is great.

- Christopher, I learned a lot about him and grew to love him more.

- My mom and Pabob, my brother Michael and his I'm so proud of this boywife Lawana, my sister Diane, my dad, Misty, Mindi, Amy, and Jeff. I loved my time with all of these. I loved the connecting and I loved the laughter.
(Christopher and me)

back after a break

On August 28 I had a hysterectomy. Seems the ole uterus had just played out. I've recuperated well and quite like life without a uterus. It served me well and gave my five babies nine months of cozy abode, but alas, the poor thing tuckered right out.

Gordon and I make our way to Arkansas in a few short days to see my delightful Stephanie marry the love of her life, John Mark. I can hardly wait to see Steph and Christopher and my other family members. Unfortunately, we can't take the kids with us. But I am looking forward to the time away with Gordon. We are going to have a blast.

Gordon's mother kindly agreed to tend the children and pets. We've added a Chihuahua to our menagerie. I sure love our little Frodo. Chihuahuas remind me of Stephanie. I think it's the shaking they do when they're nervous or excited, she used to do that. It's a curious thing, I admit.

My Canine Babies Last week Frodo entered adolescence. I know because he mounted Lucy twice. Frodo weighs about 3 pounds and Lucy is about 70 pounds. Frodo is about 1/2 the size of Lucy's head. We about split our guts laughing at the sight. Frodo was putting everything he had into the experience and Lucy continued gnawing on a bone, seemingly unaware of Frodo. 

I quit my subscription to the Edmonton Journal last week and I'm going through withdrawals. I LOVE the paper and am like a retired old man with his paper. As soon as I get up in the morning, I retrieve my paper and get my coffee and read every detail, (except the sports and business section), enjoying my coffee at the same time. I have to do a fast several times a year from the paper just to prove I can live without it. Not only am I fasting from the paper, but now I don't get my daily fix of Sudoku either because my daily Sudoku puzzle came in the paper. I admit my addictions.


home from the holidays

A peaceful - yet windy morningWe are home from our camping trip to Greig Lake Saskatchewan. We enjoyed safety, good weather, and a gorgeous location. When it's all said and done though, there's no place like home. It's good to be back and enjoying the luxuries I'm so fond of; water from the tap, a toilet down the hall, walls that keep the mosquitoes out, just to name a few.  
(A Trembling Aspen Forest)
A Trembling Aspen Forrest

deborah is 6

Scan20004(Deborah, freshly squeezed, 1999)

Six years ago today, little Deborah Elizabeth entered our lives (in the flesh). It was an incredible day. Gordon was with me, and Stephanie too. It was special that my oldest child, then 15, got to see my youngest child born. That was wonderful.

Deborah is named after my sister that died as a child. My sister Debbie was the oldest of the children in my family and I am the youngest. I never met my sister Debbie, so really my naming my daughter Deborah was to honor my mom who lost her Deborah to a brain tumor when she was nearly two.

That we had chosen the name Deborah was a surprise for my mom. We didn't tell anyone that we had picked out Deborah because we didn't want the surprise ruined. We told that we had chosen the name Elizabeth, which was true - Elizabeth was to be her middle name. After I learned that she was a girl, I called her LizzyBeth. I would lay in the tub, rub my tummy, and tell her "LizzyBeth, I can't wait to see you." It was a special pregnancy. My best pregnancy.

Several weeks before she was born, I had an ultrasound. EarlyScan20003 in the ultrasound, I asked if they would tell me the sex. I had never known the gender of my babies prior to their being born. The lady said, "it's a girl." I let out a scream for joy. Silly thing is, I would have let out a scream for a boy too. Just knowing for sure evoked a scream of joy. Because of my scream, a sour doctor poked his head in and said, "Everything all right in here?"

Ultrasounds have come a long ways since my first one 20 years ago. With each pregnancy, I saw an improvement. With Deborah's ultrasound I was totally blown away. I could actually see her face clearly. I saw her chubby cheeks, her closed eyes, her broad nose, and her thick lips. I thought, perhaps foolishly, "She even looks like that picture of Debbie." I literally could not wipe the silly grin off my face on the drive home. I know, because I tried.

In the operating room when they lifted Deborah out, they immediately took her several feet away. She was screaming. I said, "Take a picture, take a picture" and Gordon replied, "I will. They are just about to clean her up." "I want a pictuDeborah turns 6, 2005re of her just like that," I said back. Well he took the picture, and it is a picture worth a thousand words, to be sure. Meanwhile, the seconds passed and she was still screaming. IAfter several requests, they gave me my screaming baby. I spoke to her and she hushed instantly. It was one of the most precious moments of my life.

I am happy that I got to have a c-section. That c-section allowed me to be more alert and "with it" than any of my natural births. I am much more aware of the moments following Deborah's birth than any of the other kids. I wouldn't take money for those memories. Although I still addressed her as LizzyBeth several times, I quickly decided she was a Deborah, not a LizzyBeth.
So today, Deborah is 6. She didn't get a party yet. Her party is after we get home from our camping trip. She got breakfast in bed though and until the party, that will do.

(Deborah gets breakfast in bed, 2006)


changes

Scan20103 (1999, Hannah, Deborah and Rachael)
Rachael and Hannah are thirteen months apart and thick as thieves. Best friends they are. Deborah, four years younger, is the bothersome sister. She wants to be in their exclusive club and they are, at least today, adamantly opposed to her inclusion.

Last summer taught me in no uncertain terms that the girls have outgrown our backyard. It served as THE backyard in the neighborhood for seven years. Our tree house is a "tree house par excel-lance." It's pretty amazing; three stories it has, all made by Gordon.

I miss the summer days of yesteryear. The girls were out on the swing set before breakfast and we'd have to call them in for evening baths.
 
Rachael has outgrown many of her eccentric ways, but from 3-6 years old, she was nothing less than eccentric. She always wanted a ball cap on, a particular ball cap, and she always wore a t-shirt under her shirt. In 90 degree weather, I'd plead with her, "You'd be much cooler if you'd take off one of those shirts." She'd counter with, "I don't like the feel of that."

She'd hit the back door every morning and run across the yard screaming "AAAAWWWW" all the way to the swings. It was like she hadn't seen a swing for years, a brand new treat every morning.

The neighbor children that frequented our yard brought an element of worldliness to my children's sheltered lives. Amera from next door, danced like an exotic dancer at five years old. Her heroes were Brittany Spears and the Spice Girls. I watched as she lined the girls up to play like they were the Spice Girls. Amera was Posh Spice and Rachael was assigned the role of Scary Spice. Amera gave the orders like a drill sergeant and Rachael and Hannah listened like obedient subordinates. Exasperated, Amera barked, "Rachael, you're supposed to be Scary!" Suddenly Rachael understood. She crouched slightly, put on the most intimidating face she could conjure, extended her arms and fingers like talons, and let out a vicious growl. She knew how to be scary, just not Scary Spice. Amera threw down her feathered mane and yelled, "You're no fun, I'm going home."

Amera has outgrown my girls and I'm not crying the blues over that. She's into music, make-up, and looking at teen magazines. My girls are keen on activity. They crave constant movement and activity. They have outgrown the backyard fun (at least they don't play in the backyard all day, everyday). Now they want to go places. Summers are not as easy as they use to be and that has me thinking thoughts of yesteryear.


improve the world, be a crank

(Gordon and me, 2005)

Gordon and val 2005 Several years ago there was an article in the Readers Digest called This World Needs More Cranks. It advocated shaming those who do wrong.

I don't remember a lot of details of the article, so I will give you the gist as I remember it. The article gave an example of a little old woman who was a "crank." When she rode the bus she reprimanded the people who didn't pay their fare. "I paid to ride this bus, you should pay too. If no one paid, we wouldn't be able to take a bus at all because they couldn't afford to run them," she'd chastise. Well, of course this little lady got sworn at by some of her "victims", but interestingly, when she was on board, people started paying their fare whether she said something or not. When she wasn't on board, they were back to wanting a free ride.

A few weeks ago I was reminded of this article. I was sitting in a bus shelter when two junior-high boys got off a bus. I have no idea what set them off, but they went from appearing fine to incensed with anger in about two seconds. One boy picked up his skateboard and with all his force hit the bus shelter glass. Since I was in the shelter, I was particularly glad it didn't shatter. They walked off swearing loudly. After a few minutes they returned, bad attitude in tow. Me, I was still in the shelter.

The boy again bashed his skateboard against the glass. Then he walked to where I was sitting and bashed the glass right beside my head and screamed "Did that scare you?" Immediately I thought, "This world needs more cranks." I jumped up and walked out of the shelter. He didn't expect that, I could tell because he immediately sped his gait.

I didn't have a clue what I was about to say, I figured I'd find out as soon as he did. "Excuse me," I yelled after him. He walked on, cool - but still picking up his pace. "Excuse me, excuse me, I'm talking to you," I yelled politely. He ignored me and kept walking. I yelled again, "Excuse me, are you a coward?"

I yelled, "You are a coward! You are a coward! You won't even stop to hear what I say." Evidently he was tired of my following him, because he turned around and swore at me. "What do you want?" he demanded.

I replied with conviction, "You are going to be a horrible person when you grow up if you don't change your ways now." He swore, rolled his eyes and walked off.

I don't pretend to think that I helped this boy get closer to being a respectful person. (Ok, so maybe I do, just a little bit.) However, what if we all put a little shame on the people who are disrespectful of people and property. If we all used a little crankiness at the right moments, we could curb some undesirable traits that are so prevalent in our culture.

As for that young man, we meet regularly on Tuesdays at the bus shelter for a few minutes. His head drops when he sees me and he peeps out from underneath his hair. I can nearly read his mind: "The crazy woman is here--please crazy woman leave me alone." He acts respectful and I never pass up the opportunity to smile politely at the poor child.

After my initial communication with this kid, I came home and asked Gordon the law of a citizen's arrest. I got pretty excited to learn my "rights," but I ended my lesson from Gordon by saying, "Tell your friends at work if it comes over the (work) radio that a middle-aged chubby woman is sitting on top of a teenager, come quickly, it's me."

So with this, I encourage you: Stand up! Be counted as a crank.

deborah graduates

(Deborah and her daddy, 2006)

Debs and daddyToday Deborah graduated from kindergarten. It was a beautiful ceremony. The theme was Graduating Bear Style. There were lots of bears; bears dressed as students, bears holding balloons, bears having a tea party. I had never been to a kindergarten graduation before, so I was pleasantly surprised with the cuteness of it all. The children marched in slowly. Deborah was very sensitive to protocol. It appeared she wasn't sure if it was acceptable to smile. All the children were somber, none were smiling, or at least they weren't a good part of the time.


Ms. Long told stories about each child. She said Deborah was the girly-girl of the class. She loves to dress up and be very lady like. Then she said, "Just to prove my point, right before we left our classroom to come out here, Deborah put on lipstick." Deborah had sneaked some blue lip gloss to school for the occasion.

I was reminded today of Deborah's first day of school. I knew her teacher's name, as I had met her when we enrolled Deborah. But to give Deborah opportunity to talk about kindergarten, I asked her her teacher's name. She pondered a second or two and then burst out, "Oh I remember now. Her name is Miss Tall." I thought it was terribly cute that she called Ms. Long, "Miss Tall."

flooding in edmonton's river valley

  Debs in the river valley, bystanders looking at the flooding river  
(That's Deborah in pink. The river is high already in this photo.)
 
 Day 2 of flooding; Hannah
(This picture is Day 2 of the flooding. The trail that Deborah was on in the first picture is now under water. That's Hannah in the middle of this picture.)

Our North Saskatchewan River has broke free and jumped its banks. (I lifted that quote from a Rich Mullins' song --"the Cimmeron broke free and jumped its banks.") Yes, it's flooding. It's cool, because it's not even raining. Our river is fed from the mountains, and the mountain streams are causing overflow down the river.

The kids and I went down yesterday to check it out. Many logs were floating swiftly down stream. We just returned from our second gawking excursion and the river is still rising. These pictures are of the same location, one taken yesterday, the other today.

thanks

(Our family in 2001. The little guy Stephanie is holding was our foster child, Markie Boy.)
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Psalm 50:23 "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me."

--Gordon, I'm thankful for Gordon, my husband. We don't always see eye to eye, and sometimes we fight, and sometimes I wish he'd not treat me like a child, ...... But I'm still thankful for him. He is a "family man" and since it's my family, I find that very attractive. He is intelligent, honest, hard-working, an excellent daddy, a good provider, committed and faithful.

--My Children, I'm thankful for my children. I have 5. Stephanie and Christopher are my first litter and Rachael, Hannah, and Deborah are my second.

Stephanie is 20. Her life turned me to God and I will never get over the impact she had on me. I didn't know it was possible to love so much and so deeply. In 1 Corinthians there is a man mentioned whose name was Stephanus. Stephanus "refreshes my spirit" Paul wrote. Well, my Stephanie refreshes my spirit. She is sensitive, funny, Godly, idealistic, good and pure. She is quick to see the good in others. Now that she is a woman, I find her an absolute blast to hang out with. She is a lot like me, but a ton wiser than I was at her age. I'm thankful for her and for her wisdom.

Christopher is 16. Over the past two years, I've watched him become more and more manly. Subsiding are the fantasies of being a super-hero, and surfacing is a man. For a number of years I thought Christopher was "off." I worried that he was a few fries short of a happy meal. He was the sweetest and gentlest child I ever knew. I called him my "Little Gentle Man." But I worried that he just "didn't get it." He went a number of years thinking he was invincible. He thought he could fly, beat up anyone, fight any bear in the woods and win, and that everyone trembled when they saw his brute strength. One summer we forbade him to play his superhero roll. He wept and wailed, "but I'm not playing, I really AM a superhero." Yep, I imagined sitting in the psychiatrist's office with him as we learned more about delusional behavior. But fortunately Christopher now has a grip on reality. He is a good worker, he is thoughtful and kind, sensitive and good. He too is committed to God, and I'm thankful for all he is and all he is becoming.

Girls in canola Rachael is my Dykstra child. She is the most like my husband's side of the family. She knows more than a typical 9 year old. (Read between the lines, she's a know it all.) She is full of life. I love how her eyes sparkle, they smile every bit as much as her mouth does. She loves to read and loves physical activity. She is well rounded. She laughs easily at my corny jokes. She is a very good worker; she's the one I count on to help me most. Rachael is beginning to read the Bible regularly and I'm thankful for her and her love for knowledge. I am thankful for Rachael.

Hannah is 8. She reminds me of me when I was little. She is thoughtful and sensitive. When she was three we were in the van when we encountered in the lane coming toward us a motorcycle parade. A policeman on a motorcycle was on the side of the road, stopping traffic for this parade. I was so touched by Hannah's 3-year-old sensitivity when she said, "Oh that is so sad. They won't let him in." That is Hannah! She is artsy, tender and loves lady type things. (Presently she claims to be a tom-boy, but believe me, she may be active and tough, but a tomboy she's not.) I am thankful for Hannah.

Deborah is the baby of the family (in more ways than one). She is 5. She's stout and tall. I think she may end up the biggest of the girls. She looks like me, I think. She is very social, loves people, has lots of friends. She is polite. She still sucks her thumb and makes little effort to give it up. "It tastes so good," she says. She has just learned to read and we are all excited about that. She still loves to be held and cuddled lots. I am thankful for Deborah.

--I am thankful for my church, my pastor and his wife, and all our friends there. Our church is going through a hard time. A lot of people have left and maybe more will be going. But I know my church is Christ centered and that comforts me.

--I'm thankful for God's gifts to me in the form of the Bible and prayer. These are our road maps in these troubled and confusing times. I'm thankful for the guidance.

--I'm thankful for the freedom and beauty of my country.

--I'm thankful that our needs are met and that my children's needs are met. Not long ago I read about a man visiting Brazil. At a red light a little girl about 4 years old came out to wash his headlights. This was a modification on the windshield washer's job. She wasn't big enough to reach the windshield, so she washed the headlights instead. He gave her some money and drove on. He cried out to God, "God why don't you do something about that?" He sensed God respond with, "I am. I created you." The story was a heart-wrenching story and I have yet to get it out of my mind. It could have been my children in the streets washing headlights for a quarter. I'm thankful for our met needs. (I wish I could reconcile in my mind why we have so much and others so little. Nonetheless, I'm thankful for my children's needs being met.)

--I'm thankful for the experiences and revelations I've had over the years that have shaped me and brought me closer to God.

--I'm thankful that God continues to take me deeper in my relationship with him.

Psalm 50:23 "But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me."