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. This is my "Time with God" spot. ~ Started consistently getting up at 5:30 for extended... Read more →

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. Thank 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... Read more →

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.... Read more →

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... Read more →

july's 12 in '12

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... Read more →

temporary empty nest

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... Read more →

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,... Read more →

court-ordered intervention

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... Read more →

god, why?

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 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... Read more →

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' m 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... Read more →

i love not camping

This 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. 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... Read more →

letting go

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... Read more →

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... Read more →

thursday thirteen

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.... Read more →

just for fun

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... Read more →

self harm

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... Read more →

12 in '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... Read more →

north carolina, with love

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... Read more →

no more weed bouquets

A few weeks ago I went to North Carolina to see my sister Stacie. Gordon and I were/are in the middle of stressful parenting days. I needed a retreat from it all. (Gordon needs a retreat too; his is coming in July.) While in the Calgary airport, I sat near a store called "Who's Who in the Zoo." Above the entry was a mechanical crocodile that ever so often opened its huge mouth to reveal a happy monkey inside. I watched a family with two little girls walk by. The younger girl stumbled over her feet as she tried to walk and stare backward at the crocodile at the same time. Well beyond the store, she was still walking sideways to watch the crocodile. Nostalgia welled up inside me and I missed my little girls. I was 3 1/2 hours away - and quite honestly very excited to be getting... Read more →

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?... Read more →

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, 1971 or '72 I am so disillusioned with motherhood. I want my kids to know my deep love for them.... Read more →

christmas letter 2011

December 2011 Merry Christmas from the Gordon Dykstra Family! It’s a beautiful season and I’m grateful that this Christmas letter tradition affords us the opportunity to touch base with you. If you’re reading this letter, you’re thought of and loved. We had a glorious family holiday in March. We went to Orlando and thoroughly enjoyed the heat, the amusement parks and especially our day at Discovery Cove where Hannah and I swam with dolphins. Hannah, at the time, was undecided whether she wanted to be a marine biologist or a tattoo artist. You can appreciate, I am sure, that we felt it very important to nurture the marine interest. (She’s not mentioned tattoo artistry in a while and, I must confess, that’s a tremendous relief.) After Florida, we drove to North Carolina and had a blast with my sister Stacie and her family. From there we went to Tennessee and... Read more →


People ask why I'm not blogging much. I use to have so many things to say. My kids were angelic and oh, so very cute. Writing was easy because I had great subjects to write about. My kids ceaselessly delighted me. Now, I'm not so easily delighted by them. To blog about their lives these days would make me very vulnerable, like opening myself up to judgement. I don't want everyone knowing the jungle I'm living in. Daily I'm confronted with self condemnation. I haven't yet figured out just what I did that produced these kids who are so unlike my visions. Confessing our home life would be like hanging a sign around my neck saying something like, "Ask me what kind of stupid my kids did today?" They still give me many times of joy but they give me moments (hours, days) of despair as well. That's why I'm... Read more →