feeling prosperous - an exercise

I'm reading Julia Cameron's The Prosperous Heart. The assignment it to fill in the blank: I felt prosperous when _______.

I felt prosperous when I was newly divorced living on Smith Street. Of course, I've never articulated that thought before. Upon moving in, I quickly began the old house's makeover. For wall paint, I chose pink and blue and it was a lovely, tasteful combination. The blue was called Mirage Blue and it was on the window and door trim. The wall paint was a mauvish pink called Ashes of Roses. Such a fitting name since I was recently divorced from a Rose.

It was a character-filled home and I believed with all my heart God provided it. When I knew divorce was imminent, I started praying for specific things. I thought an "upstairs house," as Stephanie called them, would help her adjust to our new life as a family of three. And it did. She was ecstatic with her new house with an upstairs bedroom.

When I made my specific prayer list for a house, it also included a hardwood floor and French doors. The Smith Street house had French doors in the living room and the bathroom had a hardwood floor. I loved that house. I had looked at several houses and this was the one that screamed, "This is it!," when I walked in that first time.

It needed lots of work and I set to painting and beautifying it. I get a bit exhausted thinking about it but at the time it was just what I needed for distraction.

One day I came home from work and found all my friends in my house having a painting bee. Unbeknownst to me, they got the key from my sister and proceded to help out with my huge paint job. It was a beautiful expression of love and support. I was very touched. (Looking back, I hope I adequately expressed my gratitude. I certainly hope I did because I was enormously grateful.)

Eventually the house got all beautified and I was so proud of it. It always smelled good (potpourri) and was clean. It expressed who I was and I think that is why I felt prosperous. It was my haven; a clean, tasteful haven that smelled nice.

While living in that house, I was walking close to God and hadn't yet been overtaken by pride. I was still fairly humble and innocent and living in peace.

The key points of this journey of exploring when I felt prosperous leads me to these highlights:

-- I felt close to God. He answered specific prayers and it demonstrated His loving concern about the details of my life.

-- I had caring friends.

-- The house expressed me. Paint colors and decor that accurately reflected my taste.

-- It was my haven. Clean, fragrant, peaceful. It was a delightful home.

2012 in review

In a nutshell, 2012 was one of the hardest years of my life. Gone are the days of children who adore me. Gone are the days of being on the same wavelength with Gordon regarding parenting. Gone are the days of loving to be home enjoying my haven, my castle.

I write this in a brand new year and I feel great. I think 2013 is going to be an amazing year. But it's far from traditional, and that's an understatement. More of that later . . .

My first response when thinking of the past year is one of heaviness and darkness. But as I really thought about it, as I forced myself to on December 31, I recognized some bright moments and times of growth. That is my focus at this moment. 

Thinking spot
This is my "Time with God" spot.

Started consistently getting up at 5:30 for extended time with God. It's the most glorious part of my day! When I'm tired and tempted to sleep in, I realize how badly I'd miss that sweet communion if I didn't have it and pull myself to the family room to bask in His love. I'm convinced that early morning time with God got me through the year without a clinical depression. It's consistently the best couple hours of my day.

 ~ Got mostly grain free. In July I went to a workshop on eating habits. My eating habits have been a trouble spot, to say the least, for years. Since 2007 I've got better, but still there are many hungry demons in my soul's pantry. At the workshop I heard the grain-free school of thought for the first time. And it made sense. I read a couple books on the subject and decided it was worthy of pursuit. It's been a battle, but I'm getting stronger all the time. When I fall off the wagon and experience the drug-like symptoms that grain products induce, I'm amazed that I'm still tempted by them. Cheers to the new knowledge of grain being practically a poison to my body.

~ Started a Happiness Project Group. I'm a real sucker for personal development. In May during a boring layover I explored a bookstore and found Gretchen Rubin's book, The Happiness Project. I've read her blog for years and quickly got excited as I pored over my new purchase. Within a few chapters I was chomping to share the project with others. I put a poster at the library inviting anyone interested in a group to contact me. A local newspaper editor phoned for an interview and wrote an article about my desire to start a project. Over 20 women came to the first meeting (which was way too many for a successful Happiness Project group). Many recognized it wasn't for them. 10 or 12 have stayed and we are a fabulous support group as we are all working on changing different areas of my life. Once a month we get together and we are connecting well.

Updated the family room. Spiffied it up a bit and now we love hanging out there. 

Fam room
The updated family hang-out spot

~ Started attending BILY (Because I Love You), a support group, to help me parent my rebellious disrespectful teenagers. It helped. I'm no longer going, but while I attended, it was a good support.

~Read many books, 45, I think. Some of them were of genres I've never read and they stretched me intellectually. I learned a lot.

Joined a home Bible study. Sunday nights will find Gordon and me with four other couples. We appreciate their friendships and their collective wisdom.

Joined a Classical Literature Book Club. One of the things I learned from The Happiness Project is to pursue what makes me happy. I've long said that when I turn 50 I want to start courses in literature. Gretchen made me question why I needed to wait till I turned 50. I found a group and, with a work colleague who shares my love for literature, began attending. It's a fascinating group and I enjoy it immensely. 

Learned the benefits of Melatonin. Being able to easily get up at 5:30 is a by-product of Melatonin. Melatonin is a natural ingredient that balances sleep patterns. It aids my falling to sleep and it aids my waking.

I got a significant raise at work. It makes a huge difference. 

Flossing. Someone said that growing makes one happy. They said it more eloquently, but you get the idea. Flossing is an area I chose to grow. I floss everyday now.

Enrolled in university, Bachelor of Arts, History Major. I'm super excited and start my first course in February: Western Thought and Culture.

Thora mosaic
Thora, Rosalie and me

~ Held a snake. Sounds innocuous enough, if you don't have a GREAT BIG FEAR OF SNAKES. Rosalie, a young girl I work with, has a Boa, Thora the Explora. Thora had occasion to spend several days at my office (in a very big cage). I decided to "grow" and work up to holding her. I watched her through the cage, paying particular attention to her breathing. She seemed to lose some of her "badness" as I watched her breathe. The next day I asked Rosalie if she'd take Thora out and put her on the table. There a watched her creep around without my running, screaming, or fainting. The next day Rosalie took Thora out of her cage and I touched her. The day after that, with Rosalie's help, I held Thora. You cannot imagine how my heart pounded and how hard I shook. But I did it! I wrestled my hugest fear! I'll probably never own a snake {huge understatement}, but I don't think the talons of fear are nearly as deep.

 ~ Went to North Carolina to see Stacie. We had a wonderful time. I was struggling as a wife and mother and needed the respite from it all. Nearly every morning I sat in a rocking chair on Stacie's front porch admiring the beautiful Appalachian Mountains and pouring my heart out to God. It was refreshing to my soul and gave me the will to keep on keeping on.

 ~ Moved out of the family home into an apartment. On December 4th I took this huge step and I didn't take it lightly. I feel like God said, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." And I have peace. I feel like I'm seeing in color and not various shades of gray; that I'm in the driver's seat of my life; that I'm truly alive again. My family still means the world to me. We are still a family. Gordon is still the love of my life. He and I spend lots of wonderful time together and I'm madly in love with him. 2012 was a hard year on our marriage and this space is the best thing that's happened for our relationship in at least a year. It's divine and, strangely, I think we are in the middle of God's will. On the way to church this morning, Gordon said, "Surprisingly, this set up is working great."

2012, one of the worst years of my life. Thankfully, it ended well, but in a way that is awkward to explain. God continues to be in control and we continue to be submitted to Him.

Now on to 2013. I think it's going to be my best year yet. 

a thanksgiving prayer

It's another Thanksgiving Day and a perfect time to express my thanks to you. You have given me an amazingly full life of goodness and grace. Thank you for relationship with you and letting me experience life knowing you. Thank you for the work you've done in my life, for forgiveness, for healing, for the tremendous changes you've made in me. I'm grateful from the core of my being. You've changed me from the inside out and I'll never be able to express my thanks adequately. For the changes you've made in the deepest places of my heart, I'm thankful beyond words.

Gordon and hazeThank you for Gordon; he is a man of integrity, honesty, kindness and faithfulness. I'm thankful we share similar values and convictions and that he is the daddy to our daughters. I'm thankful for sweet memories I have of him pushing them on the merry-go-rounds, taking them on dates to watch the "marching guys," reading to them, tucking them in at night and the numerous sacrifices he's made for them. He's never been a passive dad and I'm thankful.

Steph's family 2012Thank you for Stephanie and John Mark and the stable life they have. Thank you for giving John Mark to Stephanie. He is a good man and and excellent father to those precious babies. Thank you for the choice they've made for Stephanie to be a stay-at-home mom during these years. Thank you for how easy she is to talk to, her humor, her easy-going nature. She is so refreshing.

Thank you that Stephanie and John Mark have taken Deborah into their home and hearts for this time. I was sinking into a dark abyss dealing with her issues. I'm grateful for the reprieve of the past several weeks.

Debs in ar. 2012 1Thank you for Deborah's improvements in their care. She is stronger and less fragile. Thank you for the opportunity she has to have a clean slate. She is a polite, kind, caring child and I'm thankful for her sweet disposition. I know her life is ultimately in your hands and I'm thankful you love her more than I ever can. Thank you for that peace. Thank you for letting me be her mom.

Chris 2010 in front of airplaneThank you for my man cub, Christopher. He is a hard-working young man and I thank you for his strong work ethic. Thank you for the strength and perserverance you've given him over the past couple years of working and going to school full time. Thank you for his tenacity. He's a kind young man and I love that he's never shyed away from showing this mama bear affection. Thank you for choosing me to be his mom.

Thank you for my headstrong Rachael. Thank you for her common sense, her ease with conversation, her openness, her passion. Even as she embraces so many things that are contrary to what we taught her, I'm confident she will do life well. She's got what it takes. I'm thankful her life is in your hands.

Rach and hannah 2010Thank you for Hannah. She is a caring and loving person who likes to help others. I'm thankful those traits are there and I believe I'll see them flourishing again. She's an artist and I'm thankful her beautiful work fills my house. Those paintings remind me of who she really is. 

I don't think I could bear these years of having three teenaged daughters without the confidence that everything is in your loving hands. "All things are working for my good" is the mantra that infuses me with peace.That promise is carrying me these days. You are good, even in the darkness.

I'm awed by your goodness, your grace and your gifts. Peewee napping on my lap as I write this, Casanova purring at my side, blue sky, golden trees, beautiful music, a warm charming house, good jobs, loving families, peace and freedom, . . . Your gifts are innumerable, your goodness amazing. Thank you.

august's photo diary

August 2012 photo diary

August's photo diary is undramatic, largely because my cell phone is currently my only camera and it takes undramatic pictures, at best. Secondly, August has consisted of lots of cleaning and organizing.

1. Deborah's clean bedroom; she went to Arkansas on August 13 and I cleaned her room that day. I go in there everyday to pray for her.

2. View of the stairs from my recliner.

3. View of my downstairs "thinking spot." The three paintings behind my recliner are Hannah's creations. The one on the left was painted by Gordon's Aunt Lipjke in Holland.

4. Hannah at her McDonald's job. I'm so proud of her. She's been at McDonalds over a month now. Yay Hannah.

5. On August 27, St. Albert Happiness Project launched. There were 15 ladies there and it went very well.

6. My mother-in-law gave Gordon this painting of his father. She had a painting made from a photo of him and then made each of the kids a copy. It hangs in our family room and I LOVE it.

7. The family room. Gordon and I rearranged and organized the family room this month. Our home almost feels like an empty nest. It's lots cleaner now that it's just us. Hannah still lives here, but she's not here very often.

8. A catapiller. I saw two of these this month and think they are so pretty.

9. Casanova on Deborah's bed. He has such a hard life.

I only took 9 photos this month, under-achieving photographer that I am.

The biggest, most dramatic thing in our month was Deborah going to Arkansas for school. What was I thinking not capturing pictures of that? I wasn't "thinking," I was too busy feeling.

walk into the questions

"Thank you God for this new day and for the time to work and play. Please be with me all day long in every story game or song. May all the happy things I do, make You, my Father, happy too." That's a prayer poem by Dale Evans Rogers that was in a book of poems I used to read to Rachael and Hannah back when they were toddlers in Mill Woods. Those were the days. I was so busy and tired with two active babies. I smile thinking of their laughter, fun, expressions, mischief and innocence. Precious indeed! So long ago.

I never would have dreamed that those innocent toddlers would become these teenagers. Where did the innocence go and why?

I'm reading Spiritual Direction, by Henri Nouwen. He speaks of "walking into the questions of life." Some questions have no answers in this life. I need to embrace the life that raises these questions, (why are my kids like this? what did I do wrong?) and walk into this life as I'd walk into a strong wind. There's nothing my questions will do about the "wind." Seek God in the questions of life, not seek God's answers to those questions. Just seek God. That is profound and beautiful.

I struggle so much with questions of why my kids are so spiritually, emotionally, mentally unwell. The questions don't help me. But embracing this phase of my life and embracing God in this time will make all the difference. I must remind myself often that it's all working for my good.

This weekend I was thinking about our kids and some of the problems they've caused and was so thankful that I had years of sweet, innocent history of them recorded. I may have forgotten 90% of those stories had I not been recording them in written form. I'm thankful for the memories. They are so special to me.

I know God can change my kids' hearts because of all the heart changes He's made in me. I pray He does the same for my kids. Hannah and Rachael are full of stupid choices. Hannah was arrested for vandalism Saturday. Rachael was with her but she got away from the police. With more kids, they were on top of Gish School painting the roof.

On the same day Hannah refused to obey me when I asked her to do a five-minute job and she told me to do it myself. I'm just about at wits end and don't know how I will carry on.

She turned 16 this week and her birthday was devoid of joy. We had an appointment with social works and she was absolutely full of disrespect and rudeness. It was so discouraging. What are we to do, God? She is always taking risks, being rude, behaving with no regard for others. I feel totally powerless as a mom. She sows nothing but negativity, anger and disrespect here.

God, please bring all three of my girls to an end of themselves. Please convict them of their need for you. Change their desires and draw them into personal, powerful relationship with you. Please give me wisdom as a mom.

july's 12 in '12


2012 july 12in12
July's 12 in '12

This is my July 12 in '12 collage. As I wrote here, for the remainder of the year I am journaling each month in picture. This picture is loaded with signficant and meaningful stuff irrespective of how insignificant it looks. 

1. St. Francis of Assisi is one of the great mentors in my life. I read something in late June that sparked a desire to re-read some of the things I've read on this great man. I wanted to rekindle some of the truths that I learned from him. In July I re-read these books.

2 and 11. These pictures are from Deborah's 13th birthday. I officially have 3 teenage daughters.

3. Hannah found this kitten near 7-11. It was meowing and she looked down at her feet to discover him there. She brought him home and nursed him back to health. This picture was taken after we had him over a week. He was tiny and had already filled out by the time this picture was taken. It is pitiful that something so small was all alone in the world. Hannah named him Haze and was diligent caring for him. He temporarily softened her heart and since we were desperate for Hannah's heart to be softened, it was a no-brainer that we keep him. He was much work though -- I think he was blind and he meowed nearly constantly. Hannah soon tired of the job and I took him to the Humane Society where I figure he found a good home. But for the short time he was with us, he touched us with his helplessness and his ability to soften a young girl's heart.

4. In June I went to a seminar and heard the benefits of giving up grain products. I checked some Paleo lifestyle books out at the library and on July 1 started eating the way a Paleo enthusiast would. It has now been 36 days of having no junk food, no fake food and no wheat products. Bonus, I lost several pounds in July.

5. This picture of Hannah was taken a few days before going into PChAD. In this picture, although it's a fine picture, the subtleties of her expression reveal her hardness of heart.

6. I love summer and I love my little container vegetable garden.

7. While in PChAD, Hannah resumed her former love for painting. She painted four pieces while there. It blessed my socks off to see her embracing a former love. It's probably been a year since we've seen this side of her.

8. Deborah has had nearly two good months of not cutting. However in July she had a huge upset and she cut again. I'll be sharing some big news on that front very soon.

9. Casanova!, what a cool cat. One day I came home for lunch and found him on top of the cabinet. I couldn't be mad, it was too cute. However, when I came home in the late afternoon, the cow, which was a gift from Stephanie, was shattered on the floor. Casanova was still on top of the cabinet.

10. This is the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (AADAC) sign that hung outside of Hannah's safe house for the PChAD program.

11. Here's Deborah with her 13th birthday cake.

12. This isn't just a silly vain picture of my hand. There's some significance here. When Hannah's behaviour started getting erratic and volatile, I read her diaries to try to determine the extent of her drug problem. One thing I read in her diary was how she hates her fingernails and wished they were prettier. I realized that was something I could help her with. I have never tended to my nails with affection, but when I read that I decided I'd begin to stock our home with nail supplies and offer to keep her nails manicured. And I have. As a byproduct of this commitment, my own nails have gotten lots of babying too. This is the first time I've ever worn red fingernail polish. I feel eccentric.

temporary empty nest

Hannah's art hand
Hannah's first painting in a long time.
Home is so calm, uneventful and quiet this week. Hannah is in detox, Deborah is at Gull Lake Camp and, of course, Rachael hasn't lived here for weeks. It's just Gordon and me. The break is welcome. I don't know if Gordon shares that viewpoint. PChAD, I think, seems radical to him. I think he thinks I'm half crazed in pursuing it.

Weeks ago when I told Hannah I was pursuing detox for her, she laughed. It was a big joke, maybe even a badge of honor to need detox. She joked about it with friends. I asked if she'd go voluntarily, she said no. On Monday she was shocked to find out that in PChAD she checked her "rights" at the door. She had to surrender every item she brought. She must wear the clothes they issued her and they confiscated every single item she took with her, right down to her underwear. She isn't allowed outside. Once she experienced this lack of freedom she was furious and it wasn't a big joke anymore. That's when she pursued an appeal. There was an element of pride in hearing this; her independence is incredible. She was granted a hearing with a judge via video satellite. I was proud of her initiative. But, thankfully, her appeal was denied.

Hannah's art lorax
A lorax. I love this playful side of Hannah.


I went to see her the day after she was admitted. She was angry and acted like she couldn't stand the sight of me. She is allowed to call us at 7:00 every evening and she does. I think she is so bored and lonely that she is willing to talk even to me. We visit her every other day during visitation. She started out so ill tempered and short, but several days into the process she was proudly showing us paintings she had done. Slowly, she is becoming her old self. She isn't having fun and resents being there, but after a few days, she is laughing. One can't imaging how sweet that sound is to me. I haven't heard her laugh without a hard edge in a long time. She talks about what she is reading. She hasn't read in a long time. I know she hasn't painted in a long time. It's like she is getting in touch with herself again. Remove the pot and the friends and our Hannah surfaces again. 

Today she said, "I think I want to be a librarian." I wanted to jump for joy. My heart swelled with pride. She was talking about the future and it was positive talk. I cannot remember the last time I heard positive words come from Hannah's lips.

Today I am very encouraged.

seventeen years old

Rachael at Little Bow in 2010, 15 years old

This weekend Rachael and Nick are camping at Little Bow to celebrate her birthday. That's bittersweet; bitter because it's her first birthday away from home, sweet because she acts like a good little wife as she's preparing to camp. She is looking forward to showing Nick Little Bow.

I'm disappointed and grieved by a number of Rachael's present choices. She uses pot and alcohol, lives with her boyfriend, dropped out of anything Christian-y, and done various other things I wish she hadn't. But she is so sweet. I see her several times a week and it's always pleasant. When she lived with us, it was frequently unpleasant. In that way, I'm really glad she has moved out because our relationship is nearly 100% pleasant.

I remember when Rachael was nine or ten my sister was asking about the girls likes, dislikes, passions, etc. When I got to Rachael, I paused because her likes, dislikes and passions didn't stand out to me. I replied, "You know, Rachael just does life well." It was profound. I had never articulated it like that but it is true, very true: Rachael does life well. She's responsible, respectful, a great conversationalist, a good worker, resourceful. She's in a phase of teenage-induced stupid choices, but my heart is fairly light regarding her. Generally speaking, I don't lay awake at night praying for her. I pray for her but it's not driven by heaviness of heart.

My greatest concern for her (I believe she'll turn back to God so that's not paramount in my mind) is that she is going to get a broken heart. For Rachael, I think living together is mock homemaking. She's serious about it. Although I don't think she wants to get married, she views the arrangement seriously. She's tired of the party scene, the pot, the drunks, the late nights. She wants to be like a young responsible married couple. I don't think Nick is ready to leave all those things behind. This dynamic is hard to watch as I see a vulnerable little girl who is likely going to experience a heartbreak. That hurts this mama's heart.

God, thank you for Rachael and for the joy she brings us. Please draw her to You. Fill her heart with wonder and awe of You. Soften her heart to see her need for You. Please protect her and continue maturing her and helping her grow into the young lady You want her to be. Be glorified in her life. Please give me wisdom and grace to be a good mom to her. May she always be able to see Your open arms that she can run to and fall into.

court-ordered intervention

Hannah on the beach

2004, Hannah's first experience with the ocean, Florida

Monday I went to court to get Hannah's PChAD (Protection of Children Abusing Drugs) order. I had to prove why I thought Hannah needed the protection of a court-ordered detox program. It was hard revealing these gross things to strangers who didn't know Hannah prior to drug use tainting her. 

The reasons I gave for the application:

  • She was caught using pot at school.
  • Her diary indicates frequent pot use, MDMA and cocaine use on occasion.
  • RCMP confiscated paraphernalia once.
  • She attended 4/20 at the Alberta Legislature and took her 12-year-old sister with her.
  • She frequently smells like pot.
  • She’s had violent outbursts where she has destroyed property.
  • She got in a truck with two strange men for free smokes. (This was the scariest one, the one which convinced me to pursue PChAD.)
  • She drinks alcohol as often as she can get it; has been drunk on a number of occasions.
  • She exposed herself to others while high. As a passenger on the Anthony Henday, she showed her breasts as they passed cars. (According to diary and confirmed by Rachael)
  • According to her diary, she had multiple "playing around" partners once when high at a party.
  • She “lives from one high to the next,” according to her 17-year-old sister.
  • She gives pot to her 12-year-old sister.

It was humiliating divulging these things about Hannah. Making these things public is equivalent to saying, "I've been a neglectful, bad parent," or at least it seems so. Others don't know my heartbreak and how I wonder and ask myself all the time, "God, what went wrong? I certainly thought I was being a good mom."

Hannah and casanova
Hannah and Casanova, a few days before going to PChAD

Once the judge gave me the court order I had to wait at the court house for the clerk to get the paperwork in order. While there I texted Hannah to tell her it had been granted and tell her I loved her. I'm thankful I had that opportunity to touch base with her about it because the next phase of the process totally caught me (and Hannah) off guard.

Once I had the court-ordered apprehension notice, I was told to take it to the RCMP for enforcement. I knew this was coming, but I had been told that it would take a few days as someone would have to be discharged from the "safe house" before they could admit Hannah. As it turned out, a constable read the court order then said, "I'll follow you to your house to get her." I was nearly speechless with shock. I hadn't prepared her, wasn't certain she was home, etc. It felt too quick and so wrong.

Thankfully, the officer was kind and personable. She spoke respectfully to Hannah and Hannah went willingly. I hugged Hannah, told her I loved her and watched her get into the backseat of the car. Then I sat down and cried. But, I was convinced the PChAD was the right thing to do.

Several months ago we had a huge episode in our house and I told the girls that it looked like I was losing all of them. "If I'm losing you, I'm not losing you without a fight," I told them. I hope they remember that and view these crazy things I'm always doing as me fighting FOR them.

God, please soften Hannah's heart. She so hard, uncaring, worldly, angry and filled with bitterness. Please use this experience in detox to soften her. Please give her clarity and direction this week. Teach her some things that will make her want to live differently. God, please work in Hannah's heart this week. Help her know how much I love her. Sometimes I don't think she knows. Show me how to show love to Hannah in a way that truly speaks love to her. Please be glorified in Hannah's life and help her turn to You. Please change her this week.


god, why?

Hanah and frodo in her room
Hannah (9 years old) and Frodo 2005

Hannah came home today. Since we’ve not known where she has been for a week, this is wonderful news.

Eight days ago, Hannah left the house around 2 a.m. Things similar in nature have happened before, enough so that they don’t terrify us like they use to. But they exasperate, exhaust, and burden us. Gordon and I sat in our old Adirondack chairs sipping our tea in silence as the morning sun warmed our faces. I know Gordon was thinking the same thing as me:  God, why?

Hannah grade 6
Hannah, grade 6

Hannah is into drugs (mostly marijuana) and alcohol. We anguish over the lessons she’ll learn on this path. I’ve begun the process of getting a court-ordered intervention called PChAD, (Protection of Children Abusing Drugs). Once a judge orders a PChAD, Hannah will be subjected to 10-days of assessment, education, counseling, and detox. It’s only 10 days, but hopefully something in those few days will strike a chord with Hannah and make her want to alter her course.

All her life she’s been strong, comfortable walking her own path. I remember my pride when her grade 1 teacher told me of Hannah’s strength to stand for what she believed. That strongwill was usually directed toward something I could affirm so I loved it. Now that strength is channeled in a direction that’s harmful at the very least.

We have prayed for Hannah her entire life. We trained her in Scriptures; she was loved, nurtured, adored, disciplined; her parents loved each other and were committed to family. I was a stay-at-home mom. Surely the good in Hannah's life outweighed the bad. Repeatedly I think about these things and always come back to, "God, why?"

My prayers have changed over time. I’m wearing down and not praying lengthy prayers anymore. It seems my words are used up. But “terror prayers” go up often. Terror prayers are what I call prayers that follow a terrible thought or new knowledge.

H smiling
Hannah, Summer 2012

A few days ago I saw a young girl about Hannah’s age stumbling. As I saw it happen, a horrible thought of Hannah stumbling, drunk or high, into traffic entered my mind. The terror prayer began, “Oh God, please protect my baby girl. Show her her need for you. Show her the futility of this life. Please draw her to you. Show her yourself in a personal powerful way. Please God, save her."

When Hannah was 8 or 9 I gave her a little pink devotional and she did regular devotions. Nearly every night when she and I prayed, she would say, “But Mama, I don’t feel anything. How come I  don’t feel God’s presence?” She longed to “feel” something. She never did.

Several weeks ago when her erratic behavior was escalating, I read her diary. I was so saddened to read that she still hangs on to that period of life. She told about her and me praying regularly that she would know God’s presence in her life. She told about that little devotional book and how she sought God almost daily. Her conclusion: either God doesn’t exist or he doesn’t care for her.

I cried out to God, “God, why didn’t you answer the prayers of my innocent daughter? She sincerely wanted to know you. Why, why, why?”

I am not angry with God. I’ve been through enough in my life to know there is a bigger picture that I’m not privy to. However, I have a constant refrain in my heart: God, why? I know, there is a reason we are on this journey; I know He’s fulfilling a bigger purpose. I believe Romans 8:28 with all my heart; He is working everything for my good. Without that belief I don’t think I could bear the pain of Hannah’s present path.

Yet still, even with that strong conviction, I wonder “God, why?”

god's purpose on the job

(I will now break all cardinal rules for the internet by talking about work. I have never done this before.)

I'Gorgeous flowersm having a hard time at work. It's a damned if you do, damned if you don't environment. I strive to rise above the annoyances, abuse and negativity. Last week I failed utterly. Failure is tough when you take being an example seriously. I don't know how my work struggles will end. Sometimes I think I should get out while I still have sanity or while I can still get a good reference. On the other hand, when things are going well - which they are more than they aren't - I love my job, really love it. But it's a volatile environment governed by values I abhor.

Last week was horrible. I felt antagonized and abused and a co-worker is driving me absolutely bonkers. I snapped. I said nothing "bad," but I totally abandoned my convictions about letting stuff slide.

Years ago I had an epiphany that almost every struggle I gohad boiled down to pride, my pride. Since that revelation, I have made "let it go" a personal commandment. Last week I let nothing go. I behaved no better than my colleague and am quite ashamed of myself for being as small as she. (Work aside, I had some significant issues going on at home and that made my tolerance level pretty low. That's not an excuse, that's simply a fact. I was running on emotional fumes.)

At work, people are not appreciated or esteemed. I'm in a position of influence and think my purpose in being there is to improve the lives of those I work with. This is counter to the whole environment. It's a mission I take seriously; a mission I think God placed in my heart. I want desperately to make a difference in the lives of those I work with. When the going gets really tough, I try to remember God gave me a mission to improve the lives of my co-workers and that seems to make my resolve stronger.

Yesterday Pastor Serge spoke on God's purpose in our lives. ("David served God's purpose in his own generation." Acts 13:36) I was reminded that I have a purpose and an assigned job. Improving the lives of those I work with is a significant purpose in my life. It's far behind my relationship with God or my family, but nonetheless a God-given purpose.

Points from Pastor Serge's sermon that I will remind myself of regularly:

- When God gives a purpose, He equips us.

- God works in our desires. (My desire to better the lives of those I work with is a God-given desire.)

- He empowers me with certain skills.

- He is always with me, even when I mess up like I did last week.

- He provides development. Part of the development I see working in my life is last week's screw ups. He used that to remind me how badly I want to be better than that; how badly I want to be an example of joy, peace, patience and humility.

- It's not in vain and it will be rewarded. I may never know if I made a difference, but God knows my heart and my desires and He will reward my efforts.

- The reward will be based on my faithfulness. This is more encouragement to carry through with the mission and not succumb to the pride that wants to destroy me and that God-given purpose.

- My work will be tested. And it was. Last week.

- Works are an expression of my faith. My whole life is an expression of my faith. I want the work I do, the way I act, my smile, my concern for others, my casual greetings to my co-workers, I want it all to express my faith; to express that I am different.

- God is with me to fulfill His purpose. I was renewed by this reminder. I can go back to work tomorrow with a clean slate (in my heart) ready to continue the commitment to make a difference.

- David wasn't rejected by God when he sinned. Even having sinned big time, David served God's purpose in his generation. I can too.

(Disclaimer: This post by no means indicates I will be at this job forever. There will come a time when I leave. I don't want to leave prematurely and I want to leave knowing I have served God's purpose in my being there.)

i love not camping

Not campingThis week will be a quiet week. A quiet week sounds really good. Gordon and Deborah have gone camping. Rachael isn't here and Hannah is laying low. Camping. Oh the bliss of not being there! I have camped myself into a hope-to-never-camp-again mode. 

We are old fashioned campers. We don't have a camper or recreational vehicle of any kind. We use good old fashioned tents and sleeping bags. For years, we camped every summer simply because it was all we could afford. Those were good times and I've lots of great memories.

When Deborah was a newborn, 6 days old having arrived by c-section, we went camping. Yes, that is admirable. Perhaps slightly stupid, it illustrates my devotion to family camping trips.

My family camping
                                  2004, Pembina River

Before my hysterectomy, we went camping in Saskatchewan for what was supposed to be 12 days. My medical needs dictated we come home on day eight. In the emergency room, I told the doctor of the last eight days in Saskatchewan. He said, "Well, thankfully you weren't camping." Oh, but I was. It was slightly on the hellish side of life.

Three years ago we started camping with our friends, the Loszchuks. Wonderful people. (Gordon and Tom are best friends and can talk for hours about the boringest stuff ever.) Although they are old fashioned campers too, (tents and sleeping bags), they take camping more seriously than I. Christine is a great cook and loves cooking. I am a mediocre cook and derive little satisfaction in the exercise. Camping is about relaxing and relaxing to me means little cooking. Breakfast is cereal, muffins, or fruit. Your

Grilled chicken potatoes and carrots and canteloupe

Greig Lake Saskatchewan, 2005

choice. Lunch is sandwiches, chips, and fruit. Supper may be hot dogs, hamburgers or chili that I made at home. Considered a splurge of exertion, I make one "good" meal and it's simple too; chicken, potatoes, corn-on-the-cob and cantaloupe. Simple, simple, simple. It's all about being simple. If it's not simple, it's too much work.

Christine is my polar opposite. She loves to cook, remember? They bring so many food items they require two vehicles, one hauling mostly food. She makes spaghetti over a campfire. And veal cutlets. She makes bacon, eggs and hash browns for breakfast. She makes a full meal for lunch. Do you think my family wants cereal when there's bacon and eggs next door? Or sandwiches when Christine is frying up a fish? They don't. They end up eating over there and I look like the mom who doesn't feed her family. So I go help Christine cook to keep from looking like a louse. I hate every second of it.

Campsite 2
                                          Aspen Beach, 2006

Remember, I don't enjoy cooking and it is work for me. Camping is about relaxation. Again I say it, Christine loves to cook. She cooks all day and my family loves to eat her cooking. To save face, I end up at their fire cooking with Christine. It's exhausting. Not just the cooking but the mental anguish of keeping up with her and pretending to enjoy it. Terrifically exhausting. I'd rather sleep, read, explore, almost anything, rather than cook.

That's when camping became too laborious for me. This is my second year of not going camping. Quite frankly, I'm loving it.


letting go

I love this girl so much. Rachael
Rachael, 2010, 10 years old

Today is Rachael's first training shift at Superstore. I'm so proud of her for getting this job. Last week she had a day of orientation and was so cute as she relayed some of the things she learned. The owner/boss told stories and anecdotes that interested Rachael and she took notes - the only new hire doing so. That's her mom and dad coming out in her.

The following day she excitedly told us of Nick and her plans regarding finances and living together. They've got it all worked out, at least in their minds. It was mildly heartbreaking to hear her innocence; they're going to save money all summer, get an apartment for $865 a month, split groceries and she'll contribute gas money. It made my heart hurt. So young and still fairly un-jaded, yet so experienced for only (almost) 17.

She moved out of the house on April 20, nearly three months ago. There had been several nights when she didn't come home and I told her there would be no more chances. "Honey, if you don't come home again, you are choosing to live elsewhere." She understood. We talked at length about it.

Rachael at the beach 3
                       Rachael, Vancouver, 2006, grade 6

She, Hannah and Deborah skipped school and went to "4-20" at the Alberta Legislature. "4-20" (April 20th) is "National Smoke Pot Day" and they joined the pot-smoking masses for the celebration. I was upset, mostly because she took her 12-year-old sister. (I spent a good amount of the day scared out of my mind trying to find Deborah, even involving the RCMP). When they came home I asked her what she was thinking taking Deborah with her. I reminded her of our discussions about house rules and told her she had to leave. She was ready. She phoned her boyfriend Nick and he asked before she said anything if she was kicked out. (That phrase, "kicked out", grates on my nerves. She was not kicked out, she chose to live elsewhere when she blatantly made the choice to disobey house rules. That is how I translate the conflict and how I believe Rachael understood the consequences.) He came and got her and they've been living together since. (They were intimate long before then.) First they lived in a house Nick was helping renovate. The understanding was they'd help renovate it then they'd get to rent the downstairs when it was done. They worked hard, especially Nick. (I love his work ethic.)

That arrangement didn't work out because the owners changed their minds about the reno plans. Rachael and Nick went to his mom's house and stayed for a while. His mom told them it wasn't a permanent arrangement and they'd have to leave in a couple weeks. Once they left there, we didn't know where they were for a few days. Then I discovered they were living in our garden shed. After Gordon and I went to work, they'd shower, eat, etc. Once I discovered them and it was no longer a secret, the shed became a teenager hangout as kids were always there, frequently smoking dope. Gordon gave them a deadline for when they'd have to leave and they left that day. (It was again heartbreaking as they offered to "pay rent" for the shed.) Several times Gordon reminded Rachael that she could always come home but she'd have to obey house rules and house rules didn't include her boyfriend living here.

2010 rachael beauty
2010, 15 years old

Since leaving the shed, they've been living with Nick's father. When Nick comes into town for work, he drops Rachael off at our house, therefore we see a lot of her. It's great to see her; she's extraordinarily pleasant to be around - truly a pleasure. But with Deborah as vulnerable and easily influenced as she is, we can't have a legal adult daughter living with us who is setting a bad example.

In Alberta, one is a legal adult at 16. As an adult, she can do what she wants. The only control we still have is having some "not in my house" rules. Rachael has never been unwelcomed here but she understands she has to abide by our rules or live elsewhere. She's chosen to live elsewhere.

Strangely, I've adapted pretty well. We get along well. While she lived here, there was ongoing conflict; curfew, marijuana, how she spoke disrespectfully and disregarded boundaries, not coming home, etc. Now we communicate pleasantly, affectionately, respectfully and with obvious appreciation for each other. I thoroughly enjoy having her around. I see good qualities that I got blind to while she was living here. I see her strengths and inner beauty. It's not been easy, but I'm starting to understand this process of "letting go" a little better.

mindi makes me laugh

Mindi Rae

It has been almost a year since Deborah and I went to Arkansas in hopes that the family would be able to move there. (It didn't work out but that's a different story.)

On our long drive down, we stopped in Iowa to visit my special niece, Mindi. I commented on her cute decor and style. She said Dustin called her style "kindergarten granny." Dustin has more traditional taste than Mindi. Whereas Mindi likes turquoise walls, Dustin wanted neutral tones. As Mindi looked at his paint choices, she said with finality, "Dustin, these are just different shades of dirt."

I had just recently finished a book on my dad's ancestry. I told Mindi a few of my favorite discoveries as well as a few less-than-brag-worthy anecdotes. I have always been proud of my Cherokee blood, but this time I shared some less than pride-inducing stories. I ended by telling her I enjoy researching family history and there are always new discoveries to be made. She countered my lofty sentiment with mock disapproval, "Whores and Indians! Keep digging, Valerie!"

My dad's ancestry has some close ties with Daniel Boone. His wife and I are related (although we've never been close or anything). A distant grandfather pioneered alongside Daniel Boone right up to the moment he was beheaded by Indians. When I told my dad our connections with Daniel Boone, he smiled with pride and said, "I always had a feeling I was kin to Daniel Boone."

Tickled by Daddy's amusing remark, I shared it with Mindi. Playfully she impersonated him by shivering and saying, "I feel him all over me; it's Daniel Boone."

Mindi shared a bit about a "friend" of hers. The "facts" here are terrifically jumbled but I think the idea is intact. Said Friend has no qualms asking for favors, big favors, and never reciprocating.

Mindi and Dustin had just moved into their house; just moved in, as in boxes were still in the living room. Mindi was smitten with food poisoning and heaving uncontrollably. Friend visited yet offered no assistance with the kids (who were being very rambunctious), unpacking, or a meal. Nothing. As Mindi's head was buried in the toilet, Friend explained how difficult life was with her wild teen. She wondered if Mindi would mind coming to stay at her house to "babysit" the teen while Friend and her latest boyfriend Bob went on a cruise.

Mindi pulled away from the porcelain and stumbled to the bedroom. Friend followed, "She'll probably not be a problem for you. And Bob and I really need to get away from it all." Exasperated, frustrated, angry and very sick, Mindi responded, "Hell no. No! Hell the f------ hell no." Friend got the idea.

That is the Mindi I love and who can keep me gasping for breath from laughing so hard.

thursday thirteen

Sibs and daddy1
2009, Valerie, Michael, Diane, Daddy, Stacie

1. I did a very foolish thing by not refilling a prescription. I've been out of it for about a week and a half. Bad, bad idea. Evidently it helps keep me sane.

2. I'm extraordinarily cranky and edgy.

3. I would kind of like to stab a few people with a fork.

4. Some people simply need a high five. In the face. With a chair.

5. Need those pills. I will get myself fired without them.

6. Went to the pharmacy. Took three pills right there at the counter.

7. Should be able to control the spastic tongue soon.

8. Wish I got paid for the hours it felt I worked today.

9. Did I mention it was a hard day at work?

10. I'm known for my smile, kindness, patience, positivity and good cheer. Literally. I hear it all the time.

11. I bet they're wondering what got hold of me this week.

12. Can't decide if I was surrounded by a--holes or if I was one. I think a bit of both. I seriously regret being such a crank.

13. This evening I talked to Stacie for a long time. We laughed and I felt much much better. Nothing like good sister time. I sure love her. And Diane. And Michael and Lawana. I have great siblings.


just for fun

Morning backyard
my backyard in the morning, I adore it out here
A few weeks ago I referenced Gretchen Rubin's, The Happiness Project, in which she challenged me to think about what is fun for me. And I did; I thought long and hard about the things I like to do, the things I look forward to, the things I make time for. In the process, I had an epiphany: it's okay to call the things I thoroughly enjoy "fun."

In the spring and summer I look forward to Saturday and Sunday mornings when I'll sit in the backyard, have breakfast and drink as much tea as I want. All week long I look forward to that. And when the weekend finally arrive, I bask in the experience.

After work, I like putzing in the yard, watering plants, dead heading flowers and generally admiring my "container gardens."

The very best hour of my day is my walk in the ravine. It's a lovely semi-secluded area where I pray, work on Scripture memory and worship the Creator of the beauty surrounding me. And my little side kick Peewee is by my side enjoying every second of it with me. 

along my ravine walk

I love to read and usually have three or four books on the go. Right now I'm reading The Happiness Project,  Parenting Your Out-of-Control Teenager, and Wild Child, Waiting Mom. By the last two titles, it's easy to ascertain my season in life. The first book is indicative of my effort to take care of myself and squeeze as much joy out of life as I can. I love personal development and am always challenging myself to improve. As time allows, there are a number of blogs I read on the subject.

I love to write, capture stories, blog, be the family historian. That's where this blog comes in. I've been blogging since 2005 and have tomes of family stories. The kids love them and it's not a bit unusual to see Deborah curled up with one of my books.

I love beautiful pictures of kids (any kids), nature and animals. I get regular doses of that beauty through Tumblr. I look at my Tumblr pictures probably every two weeks. My Tumblr motto is "Because It Makes Me Smile." My Tumblr photos do just that. I'm smiling as I think about them.

I like to look at pictures that spark my creativity; do-it-yourself projects, lawn and garden, organization, home decor, etc. I get this "fix" from Pinterest. I peruse Pinterest nearly every weekday for 20-30 minutes. I find lots of clever ideas that inspire me and spark creative thoughts.

It's almost kind of sick how much I love to laugh. Most days when I'm on Pinterest I will journey through the humor section to garner a few chuckles.

As I read about fun, I was glad to figure out that I've already built it into my life. There are some things I love that I cannot do regularly like hike, travel and visit my southern family, but I think I've got a balanced, enjoyable life. Reading The Happiness Project got me thinking about it and I was pleasantly surprised to see I had this area of life in order. There's always room for improvement, but I'm confident I'm on the right path.

self harm


Debs and daddy
Gordon and Deborah, 2007, 7 years old, no training wheels

Deborah fell asleep early tonight, and on the sofa too. Both of those - asleep early and falling asleep in the living room - are not usual occurrences for Deborah. She is on new medications to help her deal with several issues, poor sleep being one of them. 

Deborah has had a hard year. She hasn't had an easy time making friends and she's been bullied. The bullying hasn't been terrible, but for someone as sensitive as Deborah, it's been life altering. Deborah started self harming this year.

[Self harming has been around for years and years but back in the old days, they put those who hurt themselves in institutions. In Canada, it's not terrifically uncommon. A workshop Gordon and I attended indicated over 50% of teenagers try it. Most of those move on, but 25% adopt it as a coping strategy. A study in Louisiana reported that nearly half of high school students surveyed had self harmed within the year.

Debs and petunia
                       Deborah, 2012, almost 13

Self harm is not the same as attempting suicide. Most self harmers don't want to "end it all," they just want some relief from the strong emotions they're experiencing. Self harm releases endorphins which provide that relief. Unfortunately some of the coping strategies self harmers use can be fatal even when suicide wasn't the intention. And it can be addictive, similar to eating disorders.] 

Deborah is in therapy for depression, anxiety and self harm. She's had two good weeks and we are grateful. But it's been a hard year. She's been to the emergency room five times in the past six months. We are on a rollercoaster of emotions; sadness, anger, confusion and fatigue to name a few.

She is getting help and we've tapped into lots of resources. She hasn't cut herself since May 29. These two weeks have been the best in probably six months. But seeing her big almost-13-year-old body asleep on the sofa, totally submitted to medication, made my heart hurt yet again.

God, please protect and heal our little girl.


12 in '12

June 2012 12
1. Deborah 2. Peewee 3. Emily and Rebekah 4. backyard lilac 5. love to Deborah 6. tomato plant 7. lettuce 8. from Stacie's porch 9. Casanova 10. my feet 11. petunias 12. Hannah

Recently my niece Mindi posted a series of collages on Facebook. Each collage had 12 photos for every month from 2012. She called them 12's 2012. I was impressed with the idea but sad I didn't know about it in January so I could play along. 

Several years ago I did the Photo Challenge with Mindi. That year I learned to look for, and find, beauty in the mundane. Since that exercise, I've had a special spot in my heart for photography. I make no claims at being good at it; I don't even own a decent camera. It's not the technical stuff that excites me, just the searching for beauty in my ordinary everyday life.

I looked through Mindi's collages and wished I'd been capturing the year in photo too. I commented that my OCD tendencies wouldn't allow me to start in June. Yesterday I read the famous Voltaire quote, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” and immediately thought of 12 in 2012. 

Today I made my first collage of 12 things from June 2012. (Technically two of these pictures are from May, but let's not get legalistic.) I'm looking forward to continuing the project the remaining months of 2012. It will help me "be present" more and to see noteworthy stuff all around me that I tend to overlook on a regular basis. 

Feel free to join the challenge.

north carolina, with love


Front porch
I took this while sitting on a rocker on Stacie's front porch.

In early May I was in North Carolina visiting my sister Stacie. It was a glorious time. Almost every morning I enjoyed a pot of coffee on her front porch. And every moment of it, I felt I was experiencing a slice of heaven.

The view from her porch is magnificent. The spring scents were sweet and subtle. The breeze was tender and the birds' singing was like salve to my heart. Every sense I possess smiled.

There were a few rainy days and even they were heavenly. I sat on the porch wrapped in one of my mom's afghans, sipped coffee and listened to the rain. On occassion I called Gordon so he could hear the thunder and rain. I just sat and smiled. It was refreshing to every cell of my being. I'm sure my liver was smiling.

It was delightful to spend time with my beautiful neices and nephew. Melody was home from South Sudan. I watched Emily and Rebekah graduate from college. Jordan finished his first year of college while I was there, so he came home too.

I got to connect with all of them and that was huge. Their lives are all going in different directions, so it's not easy getting them all home at the same time. I was blessed.

Em and bek's grad
Emily and Rebekah, 2012 graduates of UNCA

At Emily and Rebekah's outdoor graduation, there was a tremendous deluge of rain. Hundreds of people ran for cover, me one of them. The show went on. As I stood there I knew I would regret it. I left the safe overhang and ventured out into the downpour to see Emily and Rebekah graduate. I felt so "present." Under the overhang, I was missing out; out in the downpour, I was truly there. I was glad I left the shelter and truly engaged in their graduation.

My sister Diane came to North Carolina and the three of us had the usual sisterly-bonding that is so special. We talked and laughed and spent one evening dancing in Stacie's living room.

I came back home to Canada refreshed and eager to see the family. It was a delightful, much needed break from ordinary life.




fun with blogging


(This picture is of Galilee.)

I'm reading Gretchen Rubin's, The Happiness Project. Several days ago I read her chapter, "Be Serious about Play." She raised several questions that got me thinking about the fun in my life, challenging me to think about what I consider "fun."

Early in the book she talked about, "Be Gretchen," admonishing her readers to be themselves. Relating to the chapter on fun, that translates to being myself and not claiming things as fun just because they're supposed to be fun. Likewise, we shouldn't not claim the things we enjoy simply because they aren't "supposed" to be fun. Just because something is fun for others doesn't mean it is fun for me - and vice versa. 

What do I do in my free time just because I enjoy it? What do I enjoy doing when nothing else is pulling on my time or needs my attention? I have quite a large list of things I love to do. Prior to reading the book I would have said I enjoyed them. Since reading the book I realize they are "fun" for me.

Among the things I love to do is journal and capture family and personal stories. I'm not in my grandest season of life with teenagers' eye-rolling, snarling, unseemly behaviour and the like. I've not blogged recently because my life is so far from fetchingly pretty. It's actually kind of ugly. But The Happiness Project challenged me to embrace blogging again. 

With fun in mind, I'm back to blogging. Good, bad, pretty or ugly.

mothers' day blues

I sit on Stacie's porch and enjoy the quiet and beautiful North Carolina nature show. I will sorely miss this quiet-time spot when I go home in a few days. This is a foretaste of heaven. I'm so thankful for the reprieve from real life.

It's Mothers' Day. I'm thankful for all the mothers who have positively influenced the way I mother. Mama! I'm thankful for the hurdles she overcame and/or at least wrestled, to bring us up with values, conviction, humor, work ethic, warmth and smiles. She taught us manners which I didn't really appreciate until more recently. She modeled prayer and Bible reading and it was a powerful model and I'm grateful. Now I'm ear deep in raising teenagers and appreciate Mama's efforts more.

Mama reading to us
Mama reading to us, 1971 or '72

I am so disillusioned with motherhood. I want my kids to know my deep love for them. Gordon has told me a number of times that they don't feel I love/like them. It's a preposterous notion. I hope it's his idea and not theirs. My kids have all taught me special things and I adore each one in a different way. They're all so different and bless me in different ways. I'm thankful for the variety.

Stephanie's birth shocked my "old man" to death and brought forth the bones of this "new man," new creation. I'll ever marvel and be grateful for the profound spiritual awakening God brought to me through her warm, pink little body.

Full bodied and quite upset after the birth ordeal, Christopher was precious and sweet. I was shocked yet again by the intensity of this love called motherhood! I was a great mom to Christopher those first four years and when I saw him over the years after that. But as I only realized in the past six or seven years, he felt abandoned by me when I lost custody of him. Will this pain, his or mine, ever subside? Probably not in this life. Something about fallen man, sin nature, imperfect world . . . I get it. I just wish it were different. I wish he could know the intensity of my love. It's still there.

I'm thankful God let me be a mom. I tried so hard, put my heart and soul into it and it seems I've failed on every front. Deborah is an absolute mess. Rachael and Hannah have thrown all our values away. I feel like an incredible failure as a mom and I'm so puzzled why it went so wrong. I sought hard after God. I read parenting books, took parenting courses; prayed, taught them Scripture and applied the principles therein, homeschooled. Why is it all so f----- up? I don't understand and it hurts so, so badly. I expected to be so proud of my girls' choices at this time in life. I expected them to be pure, making good choices, etc. 

Mothers' Day. I know this will pass. But today all I'm thinking is how all my mothering seems to have gone awry and I'm confused and disillusioned. Maybe someday it will all make better sense. Today is not that day.