Sunday, May 31, 2009

Couple & Family Time

We have had such a lovely weekend!
Last week was so busy with work for us both, (the more fun activities the high school plans for the kids....the tougher my job gets), Jonathan had surgery to get all 4 wisdom teeth removed on wednesday, (he was all swollen up and looking like my once little Chippy  again). Then there was all the prep for donations and bake sales for Jianna and Michael's School Fun Fair.
Thursday night we were off to the beloved/hated fun fair...the kids love it, we hate it.
In the end it worked out well for Mark and I, we bid on a number of items at the Fun Fair and won 6 of them!

One of which was $95.00 worth of tickets to an Emmerson Drive Concert that we got for an absolute steal! The only catch was, it was the following night. So, while the kids ate pizza, (also courtesy of the silent Auction), Mark and I got ready for our first of 2 date nights for the weekend.

The concert was terrific and they sang some of my favorite songs like "Moments"...a song about  better days and making positive change in both your own life and others'.
We'd had a date night planned for Sat. night before winning the tickets, and decided not to feel the least bit guilty about indulging in more couple time.
So, last night we headed off to "Linguini's" for fine dining and a very yummy meal, then to Maranatha Church, where My school was putting on a production of "My Town". 
I'd never read this classic, but it really makes you stop and think and it was very enlightening to read the write up from the drama teacher as to why they chose this play.
The story is very much about the everyday goings on of any person in any town, and how we all think we have forever so we tend to forget to slow down and really experience life.

Friday night is generally our family movie night, so we decided to make an investment in to the kids, (since we stole their time as our own), and took them to see "UP"on Sat afternoon, a really great movie in 3D with beautiful colors and a terrific message as well. One of loving life and others deeply, but knowing when it is time to let go and move forward and create new adventures as well.

Today as we were preparing for church, I realized that my youngest son has been very overlooked in the clothing department. The problem is, he hates shopping and has a closet full of clothes from his brother...but has yet to achieve the height necessary to wear them.
As I looked at his only pair of shoes literally falling off his feet,(the fourth pair I have bought him since school started this year), I decided it was time to drag Michael to the Mall.
Our first stop was his beloved A&W for a quick energy boost, then to all his favorite stores.
It cost me 1/2 my paycheck, but I think Mike kind of got into it.  
He proudly helped me pick out 2 pair of jeans, 2 American Eagle T's + an AE Polo.
and a pair of "must have" plaid shorts.
I had to swallow hard as I handed over the money for size 9 1/2 leather Nike Airs, (I had bought decent brands for him in the past, but not all leather and my growing boy is very hard on shoes.  I was determined to find shoes that would last past the summer).
Then Michael spent his allowance on a great necklace from AE. A knotted leather chord with a stone cross on it.

All in all, it was a rejuvenating and restful weekend with Hubby and kiddos...and I am happy to say my beloved Chippy is almost his old self again.
Actually, it is a very good thing that I had such an enjoyable weekend as tomorrow is so-called "National Beach/Skip Day". 
This favorite day of high school students, is dreaded by High School Administrators, and enough to drive Student Monitors to either drink or quit!
I might need some more date nights sooner than later!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Being VERY Real...and a little raw

My first remembrance of "being part of the group" goes back to grade 2. I think it actually started with a reader. In the classroom, we were divided up according to the reader we were working on and "our group" had all skipped a reader. 
I can recall a few of the names: Andrea, Kelly,(best friends that were just plain sweet), Allison,  Dianna, (the pretty girls, that I loved so dearly...those 2 names remained at the top of my baby name list until I married Mark and it was discovered we had very different images of who those names represented), there were one or two other girls, a boy who 's name also escapes me and our beloved David V. We all had crushes on David and would try to sit next to him if we were watching a movie...being in grade 2, the boys were as quick to terrorize us girls as they were to play Star Wars with us at recess, (we all wanted to be Princess Lea as well). My school friends of that time, knew me as Janice the "life of the party girl" the parents told my mom.

Then there was Lisa...I am not really sure what it was about Lisa, she was a little more gangly, a little bit loud and "rough", but pleasant. 
For whatever reason, we would not let Lisa be part of our group outside the classroom...she was always the outsider looking in.
One day as we ran through the many paths in the woods surrounding our little school, hiding and playing tricks on Lisa, I "saw" her for the first time. All I remember is a sad looking face, desperately chasing us, hoping she could finally join in.
It literally stopped me in my tracks. I finally saw what we were doing and how our actions were affecting Lisa. Then I spoke with the others, I really don't remember the conversation, just that we were in a little clearing in the woods that was our "club house". Whatever was said, it caused all of us to rethink how we had been playing and having fun at another's expense.
We all remained tight, but we also became more intentionally inclusive. We apologized to Lisa and allowed her to play with us finally. 
After that day, my memories of Lisa are of this huge smile she always wore. She had a terrific smile, was fun to be with and smiled easily.
The childhood fun of those next couple of years still included "my group" but I also remember play-dates and parties that included many others and to be honest, I think we were all  happier for it.

So much has changed and many years have passed since those care free days of grade 2. Tucked in the bottom of My Raggedy Ann and Andy trunk, remains a little card box stuffed to overflowing with letters, cards and notes from these first childhood friends; but many moves and transitions since that time have caused me to lose track of the friends themselves.

Over the past couple of years, my family and I have been faced with many changes, transitions, life altering and often heart wrenching decisions. We have taken risks, walked by Faith, tried to count the costs and taken leaps into the great unknown. These changes have come about in almost every area of our lives...those that come with having 4 children at very different stages of life; we have both faced opportunities, risks and ultimately wonderful changes in our working environments and we have faced transition and change in our personal/church lives, titles and rolls as well.

In all of the life lessons, stretching, growth, joys and yes, heartaches that we are still forging through; there are some that remain highlighted to me at this moment.
One that I just can't seem to get away from is the joy, loss and heartache that surround friendships.

I have made an eye opening discovery that particularly as women, we are still very much like that little school yard group of friends.
I think we can get so busy that it is just easier and simpler to make and keep relationships with the ones who are running their path within our circles. Those we see and rub shoulders with daily or weekly.
I also think there is a part of us that receives value and validation from those who are running on the same or a similar path.
Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with having close circles of friends, even based on being part of the same office, neighborhood church or non church group.
There is a problem though, when we can't slow down long enough or look deep enough to see the "outsiders". The ones who are standing there watching, or have chosen to run a different path...the ones who might even have run in our circle at one time.

It would be unrealistic to think we could all befriend everyone and life's changes will cause acquaintances to come in and out of our lives...but what about the ones we call friends?
"Friend" is a term I hold very dearly and no longer use broadly.
In all of my transitions and life changes, I have discovered that true friends are very rare indeed. There have been times that I thought I had many friends, but when the path has changed or become steep and filled with rocks and potholes I have come to realize that I have had many acquaintances. People, who when our paths do happen to cross naturally, will tell me how much they miss me....but who have not missed me enough to pick up the phone or purposed to have our paths cross.

I will admit there is a deep wound in my heart from these discoveries. There is a part of me that is still that little girl on the playground where life was simple and everybody learned to play together even when we worked in different groups.
I am trying to allow God to heal that wound and to keep my heart from closing itself off from the people and friendships that have been part of the pain because I know if I do close my heart off, it will be sealed  from the joys of true friendship as well. That is a risk I am not willing to take...maybe I am a little cautious right now, but ultimately, I still believe in happy endings...I can't help it, that is who I am.

In all of it though, I am also learning some very valuable lessons. I am learning  how to be purposeful in my friendships. I am no longer in the same circles with any of my friends, so our paths rarely cross naturally.  I have learned that there are friends who are worth the effort of purposefully causing our paths to cross.
I have learned that the true value in any of my friends has nothing to do with the circles they are in or the path they have chosen.

I am learning to give grace to those who aren't able to stop and see the value in me or maybe others, or are not able to put the effort and even risk into those relationships...because I too have been too busy or focused at times.

I have learned to value the friendships I have had, for whatever period of time I have had them and to be very thankful for those who at one time or another have held my hand through a storm...and to let those go who just can't do that right now.

I have learned to find my validation in Him, because when you lay down the titles and positions of your life or choose to walk a different path all together,  He may be the only one left...and He truly is enough.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wisdom of a Child

To All you wonderful Mom's...and you all truly are, 
Happy Mother's Day!

As He so often does for me, God used my child tonight to help me see reality.
Not what I have necessarily thought to be reality, but true reality.

Jianna and Maria were telling me about all the people they saw buying flowers today for Mother's Day. "Even big people were buying them", Jianna piped up.
I explained that they were buying them for their mothers and that if I still had a mother, I would be doing that as well.

Jianna thought for only a second, before she opened my heart and mind with the following statement:
"Well, you know mom, you DO still have a mom, she just lives far away in Heaven. "

Pretty simple once she stated it that way...but I'd never really seen it  before.

How did I get to be so blessed to have this wise little person as my child?
Thanks Jianna, for making this Mother's day, all that much more special, you are truly one of my gifts.

Mom, I'm sending Love and Hugs to you as well, 
It's only time and space that separate us.
Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Few of my Favorite Stars..Live at the Empire Part 2

I am so proud of this young man, Michael learned his first note 6 months before this performance! Do any of you remember the toddler who practically cried if someone out side family said "Hi" to him? He could not stand having attention on him, yet here he is performing in front of at least 500 people! (I'd have preferred to have had it be straight instrumental, myself...hee hee)

The next one is for Holly and all our girls...they put so much in to their performance, who knew Miss Tirzah had such a voice, of course she does come by it very naturally.

Live at the Empire!

Recently, we had the privilege of watching some AWESOME kids perform Live at the Empire Theatre. 

They were energetic, talented and truly an example of what God is able to accomplish through our kids. These are kids from the community from all walks of life, (many with no church background at all), coming together through "The School of the Arts", to glorify God in our community.

Already God has opened the doors for these kids to sing and dance the gospel in our local Christmas parade, during intermission at a Bulls Hockey game,  at The Empire Theatre...and because so many kids were from one particular public school, they were invited to perform at the Spring concert, (a song declaring scripture and Jesus as the answer)...IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL....woo hoo! 
All things are possible!
Oh did I mention Michael, Maria and Jianna were some of the performers?!??!
Also Miss Tirzah, my friend Holly's daughter, ( sang a solo part for one of the songs....beautifully, I might add)!

I am still struggling to make the videos "shareable", but here is the song that tears me up the most every single time I hear it....mind you I blubbered like a baby through most of the concert....just seeing the potential in and through these kids.

(You'll have to excuse the very novice filming...My first born was trying his hand at the video....ummmm, I am thinking he needs more practice!)