my 2008 favorite books


I belong to and I really like it. Put simply, it's a place to record what I read and see what a few friends are reading too. I used write notes about good books in a notebook. Now I don't have to do the notebook thing. I just record my thoughts or notes from the book on my goodreads site. Much easier to refer back to.

You'll see that my reviews usually aren't real reviews. They are simply my notes about the book.

From the books I read in 2008, these are my favorite. Drumroll please...

The Shack by William P. Young Read my notes from this amazing book here.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert Read my gleanings here.

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible by A.J. Jacobs I really enjoyed his falling in love with the sacred. Read my notes here.

Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back by Frank Schaeffer I laughed a number of times during this book. It's not for everyone and might offend some terribly but I really liked it. Read my review here.

Fit From Within: 101 Simple Secrets to Change Your Body and Your Life - Starting Today and Lasting Forever by Victoria Moran A nice easy read on a subject I love. Read my notes here.

Blackbird: A Childhood Lost and Found by Jennifer Lauck A touching memoir about a little girl who lost everything. Read my review here.

Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure A fun insightful read. Read my thoughts here.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith I didn't write a review but I loved the book and gave it 4 stars.

Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs by Ergun Mehmet Caner Not exactly an easy read, but hugely insightful. I learned a ton. Read my review here.


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2008 reflections


"Every day that you do the right thing is one day closer to the results you want." Jeff on My Super Charged Life

I love this time of year. I love reflecting on the past year and the new year. I love assessing personal progress and ascertaining weaknesses, (as if those aren't easy to see). In 2007 I discovered that growth is made by taking baby steps -- that every step in the right direction is indeed a step in the right direction. This was a revelation to me. I thought to be successful I had to be totally successful. I never saw moving in the right direction as valuable if I didn't fully reach the goal. That's all changed. If I've made progress I'm happy. The more progress the happier. But even a little progress is enough to be thankful.

Here were my goals for 2008 and my progress:

- De-clutter more. I've recently realized that I have more seasonal decorations than I need. I can part with some fall and Christmas decorations and with other things in closets in the basement. ** I seriously rocked in this department. I have to say I'm well on my way to being a minimalist. And I love it!

- Get a job. I really don't want to work retail, but retail has always worked with my scheduling needs. I'm going to try to find a job that isn't retail. Something new and improved. ** This turned out even better than I ever could have dreamed. I got a great job with great hours and it's close to home too. I'm so so thankful. Bonus! I got a Tuesday evening job too and it's my spending money. It too is a great job.

- Spend an hour a week with my friend Colleen. ** This became impossible with my new jobs. I didn't have that kind of time any more.

- Take the dogs to the off leash park on Thursday mornings with my friend Elaine. ** This too became impractical once I got the job.

- Take the dogs to the off leash park on Saturdays with Hannah and Deborah. (These off leash dates serve several purposes; strengthening relationships with the girls, getting the dogs out where they can run like the wind, getting me into nature, getting me physical.) ** I did this pretty often until the price of gasoline sky-rocketed. When gas prices came down we had moved even farther from the park by then.

- Use Rosary Beads regularly for focusing me in prayer. (I'm not Catholic but I've found Rosary Beads beneficial in keeping me focused in prayer.) ** Yes, I do this. Many a morning I find my beads in bed with me. That means I fell asleep while praying. That's a good way to fall asleep.

- Join a dragon boat racing team. ** Woohoo. I didn't just join a team, I joined a competitive team that rocks.

- Get Rachael into drawing or cartooning lessons. ** Accomplished. She really enjoyed it.

- Go for a walk in the river valley with Rachael once a week. ** Didn't do.

- Give up sugar for Lent. ** Accomplished.

- Mall walk once a week. Once the snow melts, move this walk outside. ** I didn't mall walk once, unless I was shopping, which happened very infrequently. But I did walk frequently outside after the melt.

- Reduce portion sizes at meal time. ** I didn't do great, but I didn't do horribly either.

- Finish New Testament reading. ** Accomplished. :-)

- Lay with each girl at bedtime once a week. ** I do this fairly regularly, but not once a week. It's more like I lay with a child once a week but not every child once a week. I improved, but I didn't accomplish my goal.

More recaps of the 2008: The single best thing from my year was my visit from Stephanie and Christopher. I don't see my American kids nearly enough so I cherish every moment.

Boot Camp! Good gravy, what was I thinking? But I did it and I'm so proud of myself. I didn't die and I'm seriously grateful for that. There were plenty of times when I was thinking, I wonder if this is what it feels like right before the killer stroke. Boot Camp was a huge accomplishment for me.

Using just a few words to describe 2008, I'd say challenging, invigorating, satisfying. Not a bad set of words, eh? A few days ago I was reading from Deuteronomy 1 when God said to Moses, "You've stayed on this mountain long enough. It's time to break camp and move on." As I read that I thought how it was sort of like when God convicted me of inactivity. I knew I'd been on the lethargic mountain long enough and that God was saying it was time to break out and carve a new way. I'm so glad he did. But the most beautiful thing is that he didn't just convict me, he gave me the desire and the strength to carry through. I'm so so thankful for that. He's been strong in my weakness.

Shortly after reading the verse about the mountain I was thinking about Moses on that mountain and wondered the time frame. I went back to Deuteronomy 1 and read, "But forty years after the Israelites left Mount Sinai, on a day in midwinter..." Guess how old I was and what time of year it was when I was convicted of my inactivity? It was a cold winter morning when I was 40 years old. How cool is that? Me and Moses, we're buds.

Through the encouragement of one of the blogs I read, Simple Mom, I created a phrase to describe my 2008. "Much ventured, much gained." Hallelujah.



2008 most memorable moments

A few weeks ago someone posed the question what my three most memorable moments in 2008. This was my answer.

1) Becoming a Canadian citizen

2) Crossing the finish line for my first gold medal in dragon boating.

3) My grandson’s face when he got off the plane when he and my daughter came to visit.

I would have felt very blessed by any one of these things. Experiencing all three helped create an exceptionally good year.

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mug shots


Our house is presently overrun by dogs. We are dog-sitting and it's been kinda wild. Here are some cute profile shots of the poochies.

Shelby, the pastor's dog.
Lucy, our beloved dog who isn't really ours anymore. I am so blessed to get to babysit her though.

And this is my little Bearsie Boy. He's the only one that is actually ours.

Aren't they all so cute?


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christmas eve


The evening began with a service at church where Deborah sang.

Then home to supper in the family room. Christmas Eve is the only time of year we eat here.
A lovely little clan enjoying sausage, cheese and crackers.
Bear loves the sausage especially.
Next is stocking time. Panties are a stocking staple, especially if the panties have turtles on them. Hannah is 12.
Everyone loves the cracker crowns. Rachael is 13.
Daddy and 9-year-old Deborah.
Nice undies, eh?

After stockings, we watched The Nativity Story, a lovely movie.

Next, bed time calls.
This is Frank, Myrrh, and Merry.
Since the girls were wee, on Christmas Eve they've slept with these bears. This year was no different. They are growing up, but they still took their bears to bed.
Before the girls went to bed they each took their gifts to the tree. The evening began with no gifts under the tree.

Night night little ones. In the morning you'll see that Santa came.


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picture roulette


I got an interesting challenge from today: Go to your pictures, open the 5th folder and post the 5th picture in the folder. It's cool how for me that was a Christmas folder. This is 2005 when each girl got a hamster for Christmas. 

Have I mentioned Hannah bought two guinea pigs a few months ago? When we moved to this house she decided to take them to the SPCA to give them to someone else. Turns out the SPCA wanted $60 to take Daisy and Flossy off Hannah's hands. Ugh, I don't think so. However we left the SPCA with a new hamster. We went to drop off two guinea pigs and left with two guinea pigs PLUS a hamster. We are suckers.

I'm about to randomly go to my picture files and continue the picture roulette game. The last photo in the 12th folder.

And I didn't plan that the 12th folder was a Christmas folder. This is from last year's Christmas.


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a note from deborah


This was in my email inbox this morning:

Hi, mom you are the best mom in the world! Thank you for making sure I was o.k. when I had that nightmare! I hope Jesus comes before you die! I just wanted to say thank you for being sooooooooooooooooooooooo good to me LOVE DEBORAH I LOVE YOU!

She's a sweet Dear.



bob's butterflies


Do you remember the song "Butterfly Kisses?" It's a snappy little ditty (NOT) about a dad and his little girl that's growing up. It was an instant success in the 90's and went straight to the top of the charts on several billboards.

I cannot hear that song without smiling.

After Bob's rise to fame I heard a most funny testimony from him. He tried valiantly to be humble. He failed. I can't quote him exactly, but it went something like this: "When people tell me they have nothing to give, I say 'Hey man, if God can use me he can use anybody. Who am I? I'm just a guy. (Insert humble pause here). I'm just a songwriter, producer, recorder of a number 1 hit, 1998's hit recording artist with more than ???? record sales.'"

Is that as funny to you as it is to me? 



fushia thong

A few days ago at the gym I had the pleasure of standing behind a fit little thing in the dressing room. As she disrobed she took great interest in her toes. Seemingly she had lots of lint between them and needed to tidy things up. The whole time I changed clothes she was bent over cleaning between her toes.

Her thong was fushia and I'd be remiss to not admit she wore it quite nicely and proudly. But the toe thing,... I got a little suspicious. I think she wanted me to see her cute butt and how fit she was. Truly, it was a bit odd how long she stayed bent over with her butt as the main attraction.

Once that suspicion kicked in, I could barely control my giggles. Everything in me wanted to tap her shoulder and say, "Excuse me, you've got something in your butt crack."

When I left her she was still toying with her toes. 



memory tree


Christmas trees are a beautiful thing. I like to think of them as lights pointing heavenward. So many trees are majestically big and dynamic. Mine isn't huge, it's actually on the small side. Yet still I wouldn't trade my Christmas tree for any beautiful tree in the world. My tree is 100% memories, precious memories. That's why I call it my memory tree.

One of our family traditions is getting a family ornament every year that symbolizes something special about that year. For instance, this year I'll get a "New House 2008" ornament. Also, if something special happens in the lives of one the kiddos (or Gordon, or me) I commemorate it with an ornament. For example, if I can find something symbolizing Deborah's baptism this year, I'll get it. Or my Canadian citizenship...

Here's a little history from our family.

The Memory Tree. 2008
Our angel topping the tree, handmade by our dear friends and pastors (the Wests) at Crossroads in 1996.
2002, the year of getting a new church. Zion.
The "first grandchild, 2007". The back of it tells the pertinent info on Romie Boy.
Mt Rushmore, 1991.
Deborah made this candle in Kindergarten, 2004.
That's my man Christopher, 4 years old, 1992.
The oldest ornament on the tree, from 1981. I bought it at my first job, Village Florist.
Deborah's first ornament, 1999.
2005, Gordon and I went away without kids for the first time ever. That's two moose in a bed if you can't tell.

"became a woman". 2007
The girls and I spent a month in the States in 2004. This is a smore holding a US flag, if you can't tell. I got it in North Carolina.
Stephanie and John Mark, 2006.

I bought this little angel in China when I smuggled Bibles in. 1991.
2006, Family holiday at Capernwray Habour, Thetis Island. (The guy at the Christmas store misspelled Capernwray.)
The year of the girls' first airplane ride. 2001
Frodo, our perfect little dog who got run over. 2005
The Memory Tree. 2008 Doesn't it seem more special having heard some of its history? Of all my possessions, our pictures, my prayer journals and these ornaments are the most valuable.

Some of my favorites are plain ornaments that have pictures of the kids glued to the back. These are from years when finances were too lean to buy a special ornament.

(And you only heard the history of but a few of my ornaments.)


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happy u.s. thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving family and friends south of the border. Today may be the last of my Thanksgiving posts. Remember I was posting thanks from Canadian Thanksgiving to US Thanksgiving. So technically that ends today however it is a good practice any time of year.

My dad was involved in a car accident on Tuesday. It was a huge deal for him and could have been very serious. He has a lot of soreness but no serious injuries. (Don't tell him I said his injuries weren't serious). 40) I'm thankful he wasn't hurt any worse.

This morning before I left to take Deborah to school, a friend dropped by to see the new house. That was cool. She oohed and awed nicely and I was blessed. She offered to take Deborah to school so I had an 41) unexpected hour to sit and be thankful. (Thanks Lydia). I sat there thinking of my family down south who no doubt have a grand day of festivities planned. I thought of the laughter, good conversation and great food I'm missing. But I smiled the whole time I thought about it just because they're 42) my family and I'm thankful for them.

After a bit of meditating on thanks I put on a load of clothes, dusted, and washed down the bathroom. I was so blessed by that extra hour to sit alone in my new house for the first time and listen to the washer hum and the clock tick. I revel in peace and quiet and it was nothing short of a reveling time for me. I sat and smiled.

43) Did I mention my new Maytag washer? Actually it's not brand new, it's 7 years old. She's not one of those modern pieces of art, she's just a regular white top-loading washer. But since my old washer is 37 years old, this one seems like quite the washer. The old Maytag is still at the other house, still going strong, left there for the renters. I'm still curious about how long she'll live.

44) I've biked 120 kilometers so far this month. My goal is 200 and I'm obviously woefully behind. But I'm thankful for the 110. I'm thankful that God put this get physical notion in my head. I've been sedentary for years and 2008 has been a great year for turning that around. I don't think anyone could accuse me of being sedentary any more. I've mentioned it before but it's worth mentioning again. I've prayed for so long that God would change my heart, that He'd help me learn to love physical activity. He's done just that and it's a huge answer to prayer. It's not my work or tenacity, it's been His work. I honestly don't have words to express how grateful I am for that.

Life is good. It's been a good morning to sit and think just how good it is and how blessed I am. Often I measure my good life by how much more I have than others. I think about the hungry children in the world and feel guilty for being thankful that it's them and not my kids. What a horrible confession, but it's true. I grieve for them but that grief drives me to be more thankful for my own kids' good life.

I think of the 5-year-olds who have to work to help feed their family and I'm overcome with sadness for them and thanks for me. It makes no sense to me how hard they have it and how good I have it. And it sure makes no sense how little they have and how much our culture consumes and is still driven by want for more. Surely in the next world there will be a reckoning. Maybe God will even things out, maybe they have something special on the other side that those of us who've never known true hunger won't get. I hope so.

My Christopher announced to Stephanie last week that blogs are over-rated. "They're so melodramatic," he said. :-) This post is certainly that and I apologize for the dramatic expressions of thanks. It's not exciting stuff but it's such a good day to express thanks for some little things.



deborah's baptism (thanksgiving 38)


Our little Deborah was baptised Sunday. She was so excited to take this step. Her daddy baptized her, which I think made it even more special. She gave this "testimony" before her baptism: "I remember when I invited God into my heart and asked for forgiveness. It felt like he was in the room with me, it was a very good feeling. I remember before I invited God into my heart, I was afraid that he would come down to earth and see all my sins and rebuke me and yell at me for them. Now I am not afraid anymore."

Gordon asked, "And what do you want to do for the rest of your life?" and she answered, "I want to praise and worship God."

Thank You God for Deborah's faith and salvation. Thank you for drawing Deborah into your family.


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thanksgiving 26-35

Thank you friends and family for your kind regards and patience during my move. Yes, we are in our new house and I absolutely LOVE it. 

Thanksgiving 26) I am really thankful for the new house. The kitchen is smaller and the pantry is smaller but in other areas it either feels bigger or is bigger. It looks tiny from the outside, but the house is deep.

27) Our movers didn't show up. There was a bit of a mix up and on Saturday morning, moving day, we woke up to NO movers. Gordon rented a truck and he and I moved us entirely by ourselves. Good times. Good times.

I'm very thankful that I had the strength needed to do this very big job. "Sometimes my own strength scares me." Click here to find out why I say such a thing. I had visions of Gordon sitting on the porch with his head in his hands crying like a baby. I was so glad I got to keep him from breaking down. :-) I'm not joking or bragging, I'm just saying I'm thankful I had the strength to help him and that we were kept safe.

28) I'm very thankful that the move is behind us. We still have to get the deep freeze from one basement to the next, but I'm still recuperating. It will come in due time.

29) Gordon and I didn't move the piano. Our piano is over 100 years old and is an upright grand. It weighs 3000 pounds. Two moving guys spent 5 hours getting it from one house to the other and I was major stressed. First I was stressed for the safety of the piano, then I got totally scared for the movers' lives. They were in positions that could get them killed. Thankfully the piano and the movers finished safely, although the window by the front door didn't fare so well. Broken. But the young movers are fine and I'm thankful.

30) I love to hear Deborah play the piano. She has talent and I feel such joy listening to her music. I'm thankful for her love for music.

31) I've been remembering some Christopher stories and enjoying the memories. Once we were travelling from Edmonton to Cranbrook and through one section there was some strong livestock smells. As we drove, 4-year-old Christopher rolled down his window and hung his head out and yelled at the horses: "Horses stop stinkin'!"

32) During a long spell in Christopher's boyhood, he couldn't say the l sound. L's were pronounced as w's. Yellow was yewwow. Lizard was wizard.

Christopher was fond of his cousin Ben, who he called Bean. Once when he was three he was playing in the living room when my sister Diane and her four kids pulled in the driveway. Beside himself with excitement, Christopher ran in circles saying, "Howey Mowie, there's Bean." This weekend when things would surprise or excite me, I let out a "Howey Mowie, there's Bean."

33) My little lawn manger scene is complete. My friend Trudy finished painting it last week. I'll be decorating in a couple weeks and am so glad to finally have a manger scene for the outside. They are extremely rare here, so I'm very happy to have one.

34) In the office building next to mine is a new little puppy. The bookkeeper brings the puppy to work with her. I get daily doses of smiles as the puppy gets taken outside throughout the day to do her business. She is so adorable.

35) I got a new toothbrush. Actually we all got new toothbrushes. In the old house I told Gordon that I couldn't wait to get a new toothbrush. It seems that we were having boundary issues regarding toothbrushes. I didn't even know which toothbrush was mine. Toothbrushes were a free-for-all. We all used whichever one we grabbed first. I was looking so forward to correcting this in the new house. As if she'd been a fly on the wall and overheard that conversation, I received a package of 5 toothbrushes from my sister-in-law Lawana. I was so excited. We all were. Now we guard our toothbrushes and no one shares. Life is good.

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dvd and debs


Last night we stopped at Walmart and Gordon and Hannah ran in while Rachael, Deborah and I sat in the van. A family came out and got in the car beside us. As they drove away we saw they had a dvd player and the kids were watching Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Deborah got excited and asked, "Mom, would you like it if we had a dvd player in our van?"

"Well, actually I think it's pretty sad to need a dvd player for the trip between Walmart and home," I righteously declared.

Deborah thought for a moment then said, "Yeah, I guess. That's not nearly enough time to see the ending."



are you washed

When Stacie and I were between 2 and 5 years old, an electrician was doing some work in our house. I sang "Are You Washed in the Blood?" After my solo, Stacie looked up at the man and said, "Mister, are you washed in the blood?"

He replied, "Yes Ma'am I sure am."

I was reminded of this story this morning when we sang that hymn in church. I smiled.


thanksgiving 23 - a speaking engagement


Sometimes the changes in me make me stop and wonder, "Who are you, Girl?" I used to be terrified to speak in public. I had to do it on occasion and I covered those times with prayer, fasting, and a good amount of nervous sickness. 

A few nights ago I had the honor of speaking to a ladies group (Women's Ministry). Amazingly, I wasn't nervous. I often hear what a great sense of humor I've got and how well I tell a story. I've accepted that perhaps these things are gifts that I'm supposed to use. Out on a limb, I started my little talk to a bunch of church ladies with funny stories I've shared on this blog. It worked. My audience laughed lots. One old lady had tears running down her face.

I spoke on how I have a lot of joy in my life but how misleading it would be to not tell the other side of my life. I shared my submission to the book called Six Word Memoir

It went well. (Of course, I laid awake that night tormenting myself: You are such an idiot. Never before has one so stupid had a mic in front of them. When word spreads, even more people will know what an ass you are. Sweet thoughts, oh such nice things played through my brain).

After the event was over and people were mingling, several ladies told me some snippets of their story. I'm always touched by what the person across the room has been through. Everyone, every single person, has a story to tell. Some people haven't plunged the depths of their souls and therefore can't articulate their story, but I am convinced that everyone doesn't just have a story, but that everyone has an interesting story. I'm glad to have regurgitated my story enough to be able to articulate some of it. I hope and pray that no matter what may happen in my life I'll always be able to cling to the Romans 8:28 factor, that I'll always be able to comfort myself by saying, "Every thing that's happened so far in my life, God has brought good out of. He will do the same in this situation too."



thanksgiving 22 - simple decor


I'm thankful for simple beauty. I love things that are simple and beautiful in one little package. Rachael made a cloth pumpkin in home ec class. Now mind you, she hates it and generally hates home ec in general. But I think her little pumpkin is adorable.

Everyday this little website sends a pretty picture to my inbox. Usually it's something relatively simple and the pictures nearly always make me smile.

Typically I don't look at a lot of home decorating type magazines because I know they could make me feel discontent. (This has often happened. I enjoy home decorating mags but often they wake up a wanting mindset in me that I really don't need to be awakened).

However this website, the inspired room, doesn't do that. It just makes me smile and I enjoy the beauty.





I've not mentioned that I've become a vegetarian. It all started as an environmental decision. A few years ago I read how the cattle industry contributes 1/5 of all greenhouse emissions. That was when I cut back on our family's meat consumption. I didn't cut it out all together, I cut our meaty meals to 3 or 4 times a week.

Then a few months ago I read this and it pretty well did me in. I've not had meat since and I have hardly missed it.

The other day coming home from school Deborah asked if we could have pizza for supper. She'd no more asked when she said, "Oh yeah, you're a vegetarian. Never mind."

A few minutes later she asked if I could make a ham and pineapple pizza with just the pineapple. It reminded me of when my young nephew Randy got a job at a pizza joint when he was around 16. He had never experienced Hawaiian pizza and was mildly repulsed by the idea of pineapple on pizza.

His employers weren't the gentlest of souls. One day Randy goofed on something. The boss went kind of ballistic and started hollering. "What's wrong with these pizzas?" he barked at Randy. Randy pondered the question, unsure of what he'd done wrong, and then hesitantly answered, "They have pineapple on them?"


thursday 13 - funny t-shirts


I got a catalog in the mail yesterday and had a few chuckles as I read these t-shirts and wall plaques.

1) I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.
2) Many people have eaten my cooking and gone on the lead normal lives.
3) Three wise women would have… Asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made the casserole, brought practical gifts, and there would be Peace on Earth.
4) This IS my Sexy Lingerie. (on a oversized sleep t-shirt)
5) My Attitude is contagious but they’re looking for a cure.
6) If I’m talking you should be taking notes.
7) Don’t make me use my Opera voice.
8) Traveling 33 RPM in an iPod world.
9) I’m sick of being my wife’s arm candy.
10) English Major – You do the math.
11) Your participle is dangling.
12) Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel. (This one is my fave.)
13) Of course I live in the past, it’s cheaper there.



thanksgiving 20 - poetry by deborah


This is a little poem to me from my little Deborah. I'm thankful that my kids love toying with writing and poetry and such.

by Deborah

Babies babies
Little ladies
Cute as can be!

Soon they’ll turn to kids so happy
And sometimes you’ll have to be kind of snappy.

You’ll be so sad when they leave
I know that you will have to grieve.

When they come to your house
They’ll be wearing a size large blouse.

Seems like yesterday they were so small
And they’d have to stick with you in the mall.

Soon she’ll be gone with some kind of guy
As the days go by and by.

Soon she’ll have her own little babies
Just like little ladies.

Now didn't that make you smile??


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