Monday, 28 December 2015

2015: What perspective taught me

At the tail end of 2014, I gave myself the gift of the word "perspective" for 2015. I needed to live in the knowledge that my reality at the time was a small part of a big picture, my personal world of uncertainty and unemployment was not forever.

I kept that word close to me for 12 months and looking back, I see that I did learn something:

I learned something important about isolating myself.

I am your classic "Type A" personality. Extroverted and drawn to large groups and big experiences. I like to be in charge of those big experiences. I have been called bossy in the past, but I prefer "well-organized leadership".

In 2015 my world became very small. Instead of rubbing shoulders with a few hundred people each week, I interacted with a few dozen. I do see value in pulling back and regrouping for a season, although for me it's not something I could do long-term. There was good that came out of the isolation, but I noticed a trend in my behavior which I didn't like.

The smaller my world became, the more easily offended I was.

I remember growing up as a pastor's kid and going with my dad to visit the elderly and shut-in. The steady stream of complaints coming from some of their mouths surprised me. It was like nothing could be good enough. The world was against them. I didn't understand.

I understand now.

The smaller my world became, the more time I had to focus on the perceived "injustices" the world had thrown at me. I liked people less. I became paranoid. My spirit looked uglier. 

If for no other reason, that is why I need to re-enter the land of the living. I don't like the person I become when my time is primarily spent navel-gazing.

Perspective shows me that this season of my life is part of a bigger picture, but my activities and energy are part of a BIGGER bigger picture.

I want to learn to constructively respond when I need to. 

Sometimes a nose is just a nose and there is nothing you can do about it. There is nothing you need to do about it.  Other times, I need to open my mouth and not just stew with offense.

I have no desire to be a woman who rhymes with ditch, nor do I want to spend hours of negative energy replaying scenarios in my mind.

What I want is not to be taken advantage of.

A large organization appointed me to a position in April. The interview process was long and I poured a lot of time and heart and soul into it. A week after my public introduction, I was told the organization had changed their mind, no other explanation.

Good bye Beckie.

I felt that my reputation and credibility was damaged. What did I do about it? Nothing.

Perspective tells me to love myself well, I need to speak up. Constructively. Not with malice. But with respect for myself and my journey.   

                                             *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

One more thing - this is something my oldest daughter mentioned at her baptism in June:

Just because it's different, that doesn't mean it can't be good.

I fear change at the best of times, I like my safety and security. It's totally a losing battle. My life is chock full of new. New marriage. New step-son. New career. New house. New financial challenges. New choices. The list goes on and on.

Hope and perspective tell me to look for the good in the different. Look for the good in the change. 

My gift to myself for 2016? Balance.

I want to balance my personal needs with my families needs with my career needs with my villages needs.....something I've never been good at. Yikes.

It's going to be a bumpy ride.


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Ragout de la Vie (for those who have lost)

A man I went through high school with passed away on Monday. He was my age: mid-forties. He was the first from my grad class to go. We didn’t really know each other any more.  In fact, I hadn’t seen him in almost 20 years.

Still, I am affected. I’m surprised at the level of emotion I feel.

I asked God about it yesterday, I asked Him to show me a picture of what my heart was feeling.

He showed me a picture of my crock-pot.

Hmm, that was unexpected.

As I peered into the slow cooker in my mind’s eye, I saw what appeared to be my mom’s fruit stew. My friends and I called it her “ragout de fruit”. Things always sound fancier in French. We loved the stuff. She made it one month out of the year, in August, when fruit was plentiful. As I held my heart’s gaze into that concoction, something dawned on me.

I saw that life isn’t just one ingredient. It’s not even two ingredients. Life is so much. It’s family and friends and relationships and school and work and fun and horrible stuff and things we can control and things we can’t control. It’s God and nature and beauty and reality and ugliness and simplicity and surprise and the expected. It’s mountain top experiences and the valley of the shadow of death. It’s the overture of birth and the finale of our last breath.

It takes time. A good stew of life (“ragout de la vie” for those of us that like to pretend we live in Europe) doesn’t happen in three to four minutes in the microwave. 

It needs to simmer.

It’s taking all the good and all the not so good and then let it bubble. Bitter fruit. Sweet fruit. Tough fruit. Ripe fruit. They need to sit with each other for a while.

And then flavors start to emerge.

Where there was a single taste, now there is bounty. Where one texture was once on the surface, there is now a greater consistency. The quality of one has become the class of many.

Where there was singularity there is now something that no one has ever created before.

There is life.

God assured me that although my former classmate’s stew had not had his threescore and ten to cook away, his life was full of first-rate ingredients. He had had just enough time so his own ragout de la vie tasted exactly how it was supposed to taste.

And I could smile, put the lid back on the slow cooker in my mind’s eye and exhale.

Bonne manger mon ami. (Good eating, my friend)

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I am a mom. I’ve been one for 18 years. I have five kids and they are the sun, moon and stars to me. I love them with every fiber of my being.

But I’m tired.

For 18 years I’ve woken up prematurely - I call it a “stirring” - and seldom receive eight full hours of sleep.

This is a (partial) list of blessed reasons why. Most nights I experience at least one stirring. You may have a similar list, read on…

1.     The 10:00 “just as I’ve climbed into bed” request. You know it as well as I do, “Mom, can I go over to Hannah’s house after school? And can I have $10.00 for pizza? And then could you drive us to the mall once you get off work?”
2.     The 11:25 “I’m in a deep sleep now” mind-numbing concern. “Mom, we were watching this documentary about rodents at school and apparently they can climb up into washrooms through sewer pipes. I really have to go to the bathroom but I’m afraid a rat is going to be in the toilet, can you come check?”
3.      The 12:15 worry. “Jennifer and I want to stand beside each other for our class pictures because we’re going to wear these cute matching tops but what if the teacher doesn’t let us? And what if we don’t look good beside another person? We’ve been planning this all year. Can you phone the school?”
4.      The 01:00 wonder text. The buzzing of my iPhone reveals the questioning of one of my teenagers: “Mom, I can’t sleep. I’m thinking about the rocks in our neighbors yard. I need to make an Inukshuk for my Humanities class. Do you think I could use their rocks? Would they mind?”
5.      The 05:20 appeal for a dream interpretation. “Mom, I had a nightmare where I went to church with no pants on. This is not good. I can’t play piano on Sunday, it’s some sort of sign…..”
6.     The 05:58 call for cleanup. “Mom, I just woke up and there was macaroni in my bed. I think I threw up. Can you clean it?”
7.      The 06:10 Bathroom Break. Okay, nowadays those are more for me than for my kids.

By 7:00am I usually find myself vertical and in the kitchen. I clutch a large cup of coffee and pour in just enough cream to remind me of the sand on a beach somewhere pleasant. I grab hold of my spoon, start stirring, and thank the Lord for the gift of my children. They have taught me more than I’ve taught them.

Someday the house will be quiet and I’ll sleep.
There will be no stirring. Not even from a mouse.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

High School Reunion: Post Mortem

Five days ago I flew back home to Manitoba. I go back every year or so, but this time was different. I brought my new husband of one-and-a-half years (his first time in any of the prairie provinces) and we were going to my high school reunion.

I was excited leading up to it. I could hardly wait to see my friends again. The last reunion we had was 18 years ago. I was pregnant with my oldest son......

....and I was married to someone else.

My spouse chauffeured me to the gathering (my Mom in the passenger seat and me in the back) and I became overwhelmed with emotion. "Am I going to have have to explain to everyone what happened? Are people going to look at me with judgement in their eyes? Am I going to have to answer a thousand questions?"

I surprised myself. I thought I had long since grieved all I needed to around my first marriage. I have been given the gift of a new life with a wonderful man. He was here beside me, holding my hand. Why do I feel like bursting into tears?

I didn't have much time to process what was going on for me. And it didn't take long before someone mentioned to me "all I had gone through" and my eyes started welling up with tears.

I was furious with myself. I did not come all this way to cry.

Learning #1 - processing my divorce with my British Columbia friends when it happened was great. They helped me do a thorough job. But I still needed to process further with my childhood friends, who knew both of us. For some reason, it was significant.

Once I got my emotions under control I had a great time. There were about 100 of us. It felt like no time had passed. Those I was nervous about seeing again were wonderful and life giving and gave me no weird vibes. Yay for no weird vibes.

I laughed until I thought tears would run down my legs. The stories we told were sweet. We remembered those whose journeys ended prematurely. Our hugs were warm and genuine.

And they loved my husband, Jarrett, quickly conscripting him to BBQ duty.

Once the reunion ended the "after party" began which was almost greater than the event itself. Not  because there were more stories and laughs and memories, but because the level of honesty and vulnerability could almost be described as sacred.

Learning #2 - sitting with dear friends you have known 40 years and hearing hard, disappointing, disillusioning stories is profound and can only be described as a gift: a "treasure in dark places". Not one of us is living the life we thought we would. We hold each other not with judgement but rather with grace and acceptance. This is as close to koinonia as I think we're going to see this side of eternity.

The next day there were more get-togethers. More honesty. More tears (from me, of course.)

Learning #3 - you can ask shockingly honest questions to people with whom you have a long history. And it's ok. Even if you haven't seen them for a really long time. They will more than likely tell you the truth. And you will understand.

Jarrett and I stayed at my mom's house. I looked around her apartment, literally stuffed full of memories, I noticed pictures on the walls, on the fridge, on the mirrors, on the side tables. Some of those pictures were me as a young bride, my Dad, my first husband, and others who aren't in our life anymore.

Learning #4 - it is really smart to keep those memories active. Keep those pictures up. Don't forget the good times. Just because people aren't in our lives, (for whatever reason) it doesn't mean they never were. And that is what makes our time on this earth so rich.

It would be great if it wasn't 18 years until our next reunion. Just saying.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

High School Reunion Edition

I’m going to my high school reunion this weekend.

It’s been 28 years since I graduated. Considering I was 17 when that happened, when you include my undergrad and graduate studies I’ve still easily spent more time out of school then in it.

But I can’t wait to go back. I have such a pull back to my hometown. Many of these people I haven’t seen for over 20 years. Even now, why do I feel like I know them so well? Why will the stories we tell continue to be so funny? Why will be tease the same people about the same things?

These school age roots must go down pretty deep.

I think one of the reasons was that I went to a really small private school for those years. We knew each other inside and out. We noticed when people got a haircut or a black eye or broke up with someone. It was big news. Because it was all the news we had.

A couple of times a year we would travel to a competitive “convention” in a different province or state. I still remember how the bathroom smelled at a church we stayed at in Saskatoon. I remember Shirley getting mad at me for talking about some encouragement notes from her mom in her suitcase that were meant for her sisters.  I remember some of the questions our “Reach for the Top” team had. I remember each inconvenient time I got my period.

How can this be? I don’t even remember what I had for supper last night.

Not everyone loved our school. It was very conservative and full of rules. For me half of the fun was seeing how many rules I could break without getting caught. We weren’t allowed any “non-Christian” music at school, and one day I had an Abba tape in my gym bag. One of the older girls took it to our principal who in turn called my dad. My dad told our principal (who I do love) that Abba was a great group and I was more than welcome to listen to them.  Go Dad.

Some people won’t come out this weekend because they are still hurt from the effects of that sometime harsh environment. I understand that. We will miss them.

There are those who we went to school with that won’t be coming this weekend because they aren’t with us anymore. Cancer takes its toll on the just and the unjust. We grieve and remember them.

There are those that I am scared to death might show up. They hurt and humiliated me. But I don’t think I was the only one they hurt and humiliated. I’m hoping they didn’t get an invitation.

As for now, I wonder what I’m going to wear. I’m thankful that my mom is making potato salad so I don’t have to cart an appetizer three provinces over. I wonder what people are going to look like. I don’t think I’ve aged that well, hopefully the same holds true for everyone else. J

I’m counting the hours until I hear the same stories retold. People holding hands under blankets on the bus, Kim always being late for school even though she only lived 10 feet away, Mr. Weslake’s eye exercises.

The stories make us who we are.

And we are great.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Beckie Evans: Parts Unknown

I’ve recently become a business owner.

This scares me.

All my working life I’ve chosen to work for others. Frankly, that seemed a lot easier than doing something on my own. But time goes on and circumstances happen and opportunities emerge and here I am, the owner of my own music studio.

If ever there were a business for me to open, this would be it. I’ve made somewhat of a living teaching piano since I was 17, so I know what I’m doing. I’ve just never had to worry about generating students, possibly disappointing teachers who come on board, and potentially falling on my face.

I regularly give myself the big “risk” pep talk. But when standing face to face with risk, it would be nice to have a cushy guaranteed check in your bank account every two weeks. That’s a luxury I no longer have.

What I do have is opportunity. And I’m scared.

What if I’m not great at generating students? What if I can’t retain them? What if I my new business doesn’t give me enough money to feed my family or pay the bills?

I remember a sermon I heard 10 or so years ago. The pastor said we don’t need to worry about finances because God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and it’s up to him to supply what we need. I suppose. But it is quite uncomfortable.

Maybe that’s it. I am uncomfortable. I want security and stability. Instead, I have opportunity and risk. I want to be able to go to the store and buy what I want for supper. Instead, I’ll probably need to keep looking through the sale flyers. I want to know how I’m going to pay my bills weeks in advance. Instead, I get to plan how I’m going to pay my bills weeks in advance.

I still flirt with different employment websites, imagining myself behind a desk, sipping on Starbucks, wearing my latest fashions I purchased full price from The Bay.

Doesn’t God know I have more than enough character? I’ve been through more in this lifetime than most people go through in 70+ years. I like who I’ve become. But I really don’t need more challenges.

I feel like I’m at the checkout stand in the store of life and God is behind the till, asking me if I’d like to make a donation to yet another worthy cause.

No thanks, not today. The cost is too high.

But actually I don’t have much of a choice. Because here I am. This is happening. I’m in labor, but instead of birthing a baby I’m birthing a new career.

I’d much prefer one that’s safe, secure, and carries no financial risk.  It seems so nice, so comfortable. I don’t understand why God doesn’t see things my way.

God just whispered something in my ear. And I laugh because it’s true. He said, “If you had that life, you wouldn’t need me.”

True. I wouldn’t.

So instead of comfort and stability, I again walk hand in hand to parts unknown with the creator of the universe. I don’t know what’s around each bend and I don’t really know how to plan, but from what I recall, he can probably plan for me. And when I phrase it like that it doesn’t seem so bad.

I just wish I could use his credit card if I need to.

Monday, 27 July 2015

That terrifying first shred of acceptance

I’ve been traumatized three times in my life. Really traumatized.

The first: my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died 3 ½ weeks later.

The second: my first marriage ended.

The third: I got laid off from a lovely, wonderful position I was not “done” with.

The first two were, of course, not immediate. Even though the time from my dad’s diagnosis to his death was less than a month, I had sensed he would die when I was in my early thirties since I was a young girl. I can’t explain it. I just knew.  It didn’t make the news that “he’s dying now” any easier. I scoured my Bible for every verse about healing. There were many, but one hit me like a ton of bricks. It was Psalm 139:16. “Your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live. You wrote down the number of them in your book before I had lived through even one of them.”

That was it. Instead of praying my dad would be healed, I prayed he would LIVE EVERY DAY God wrote for him to live. My journey through the Kubler-Ross grief cycle came to an abrupt stop at acceptance.

A parent’s death is never easy, but I found such peace with that verse. I couldn’t argue with God over that one.

I fought with every fiber of my being against the ending of my first marriage. I was fighting for my kids. I was fighting for “the dream”. I was fighting for the institution itself. I claimed: the power of prayer, the blood of Jesus, every promise in the scriptures whether they applied or not. I had people come to my house and pray over our bed. Nothing changed. Finally one day I got an email from my counselor who just laid it out. “He has chosen to live a life which does not include you.” There it was in black and white. I could not argue. It was the end. The idea of acceptance was no longer an option. It was just the way it was.

I fought so long for my marriage, it was terrifying to think of stopping. It had consumed my energy for 15 years. I had no idea what I could replace the fighting with.

The last one was as immediate as it was shocking. I left for work one sunny September morning with a long list of “to-do’s”, and returned home less than 15 minutes later, spending the rest of the day throwing up. Acceptance around this one has been hard to come across. I’m not sure why but maybe it’s because I had no warning and couldn’t prepare myself. Maybe it’s because God has been very, very quiet since then. 

I couldn’t see life in that situation. Only rejection.

Last week I got a Facebook message. It was from someone I had not expected to hear from. They were letting me know about an opportunity and wondered if I might like to be involved. My first thought was, “Shit” because the position is messy and controversial and there are no easy answers.

It is perfect for me.

What terrifies me the most about accepting horrible things that happen is the idea (maybe self-imposed) that if I’m not grieving or fighting it must mean I don’t care about them.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

Today I’m choosing to think it means there is life for me beyond death, beyond disappointment, beyond failure.

I did learn something.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

46 trips around the sun and one trip to Vegas

I had my 46th birthday this week and just like many of you do, I used the event to celebrate with family and friends amid much hilarity. Being now firmly entrenched in middle age there have been lots of good times, almost too many to count. I think I’ve been remiss in much of my internal and external processing, thinking that I only learn stuff in hard times. But learning and loving as I do – I’ve learned an awful lot through pleasure (and my blog IS I did learn something…).

Sticking with the theme of 46 I was going to make a list of 46 things good times taught me--but that would be exhausting--so I think I’ll stick to 10 (and 4+6=10 so it’s still cute).

#10 – This is life right now. Life doesn’t start when you’re financially stable. It doesn’t start when you buy “the house” or get “the job” or marry “the one”. It’s right now. Today.

#9 – Trust your gut. God gave you the gift of instinct and I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to use it There have been many times I did not listen to my gut instinct and lived to regret it but I don’t think there has been a time I’ve regretted following this part of me.

#8 – The left lane is always faster. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Disneyland or waiting at the border. Left lane. All the time.

#7 – These are not my words, but they are truth. I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it. Sometimes life is easy, but not often. But even in the uneasiest of times, there can be much joy and passion and life. So don’t look for easy, look for life.

#6 – God really does like it when we’re happy. When I was on my honeymoon with Jarrett in Las Vegas (yes, my Mom was horrified that we went there) I was struck with just how happy I was, that all this happiness and fun and good times was for me, and that God was ok with that. Growing up in quite a conservative environment it was never directly communicated that it was unholy to be happy, but certainly insinuated. Today I tell you: (especially you who grew up in my world) relax, celebrate, enjoy what you’ve been given.

That brings my to my next point, and maybe this is the most important one of all…

#5 – Take care of what you’ve been given. I cannot say that loudly enough. TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN. You may only be given one. If you don’t take care of it, no one else will. It’s yours. Take good care.

#4 – Red and pink are not a good color combination. Few of us can pull it off. This is fashion advice I got from my Mom and it sticks with me to this day. Oh--and “always wear underwear in public”.

#3 – If you think it’s cool to hate things, it’s not. It’s boring. Talk about what you love and keep quiet about what you don’t. Not all battles are for you to fight. Choose them wisely.

#2 – When you feel like you are losing your mind, ask yourself these two questions—Am I hungry? Am I tired? Hell hath no fury like a family in need of a good snack and some alone time.

#1 – I feel like this one needs to be really good because it’s the last one---it’s attributed to Albert F. Schlieder—“We tend to judge others by their behavior and ourselves by our intentions. “ Love, love, love.

This next trip around the sun I will continue to live boldly. I will continue to make mistakes. At times I may feel humiliated, other times I will rise in triumph. There are those around me who I will keep close. They love me and make me laugh and are amused by me in spite of it all.

Happy birthday to me.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Being a newlywed again

There are lots of "how to" articles about remarriage.  Three easy steps to wedded bliss the second time around.
There are lists upon lists of mistakes not to make.
I've seen a search engine full of helpful suggestions and expectations designed to prepare us for reality.

I don't read any of it.
They don't know my life. Those authors haven't walked in my shoes. The last thing I need is for someone to tell me how my life should look.

And I'm not going to tell you how to live yours.

But I did learn something:
If you are remarrying or entering into a serious committed relationship, if you both have kids, and are blending families, I have two phrases for you: no expectations/self care.

Almost a year and a half into this adventure, things are still very green for me. Most days I feel like I'm standing on the ocean's shore, trying to make sure the waves have a safe landing, don't do any damage and don't get out of hand.

If you know me at all, you know how passionately I love my kids. They are the sun, moon and stars to me. I eat, sleep and breathe my role as a mom. They are my greatest accomplishment and gift. But most of my life is consumed with making sure everyone's needs are being met, I break up disagreements and negotiate peace treaties within our four walls. I drive for hours every day. School. Babysitting. Youth. Friend's houses. Part time jobs. Errands. I work full time. I own my own business. I go to school. I make supper.

Sometimes it gets a bit much and I want to cry. 
I end up feeling like I'm not very effective.

That's the "no expectations" part of my story. That is a great gift you can give yourself and your family. Trust that what happens will happen and it will be good. You belong to God. So does your family.

And there are four days every month that keep me sane. Four days when I can take off my tattered and stained superhero mom cape. Four days that are about me and my husband. Four days when I'm a woman. I'm nothing else but loved and a lover.

I feel small, because the weight of the world is not on me.  I feel like I can enjoy myself without needing to be responsible. I feel like I can be young and in love.

Self care. Couple care. I don't know how other blended family couples could ever manage without it.

Through a process I can only call "a fluke" (aka God) every other weekend my kids are with their dad and my husband's son is with his mom. My husband and I go out for supper, cuddle, watch Netflix, go on adventures and are free to love each other.

I have time to curl my hair.

It's just about us.

I don't think I could do this chapter of my life without those four days. It recharges me and gives me what I need to keep wading though the tumultuous teenage years with five beautiful wee ones. It gives me a chance to feel beautiful and important and free to enjoy the pleasures of life.

And by the end of those weekends I cannot wait to see my kids again.

My emotional tank is full enough to take on the challenges that this life offers.

I feel so fortunate. I feel so grateful. I feel so cared for.

I feel.

Monday, 1 June 2015

My boy

My boy graduates from High School this week. For as long as I can remember I've called him "my boy". I called him Buddy too, but I seem to use that name for other people, so it's not exclusive. "My boy" is only for one. His name is Ben.
(God has given me another boy along the way and his name is Jaremie, I don't want you to think that I've forgotten him, and I will write about him another day,  my relationship with him is still young.
This week, it's all about Ben.)
I remember his conception, it was a Friday afternoon, I had an hour between students.......ok that is a story you likely don't want to hear, so let's skip it. Suffice to say, he came into the world surrounded by all the joy and expectancy a new family could muster.
His birth was not fun, I'm going to say that. 11 pounds. Natural birth. People stopped me in the halls of the hospital days later asking for my autograph.
He was born with pneumonia because I had something called Group B Strep. He could have died. But he didn't. My Mom said to me afterwards, "Oh Beckie, he'll always be a sickly boy." Ya right. He's a tank.
He was named after one of my students who embodied all the kindness and optimism I could ask for. I was so happy to name him Ben because his name means "Beloved Son". And that is what he is.
He was a bit of a celebrity in our small Manitoban town because I had so many students who had all built their musical lives around this one event - "the birth". I had babysitters coming out my ears.
He was the first grandchild on both sides. My Mom said to me, "We never loved you as much as we love Ben." To which my Dad said, "YES WE DID!" Haha, I know what she meant. Grandparenting without needing to discipline or be the responsible ones was a wonderful thing for them. He drove his grandparents crazy, too. My Dad was very particular about his house and his books and making sure everything was properly displayed. After Ben learned how to walk he would go around to my Dad's bookshelves and push the books in one by one, so they were no longer perfectly aligned with the others. And my Dad would come along behind and fix them, one by one.
There are other stories of course. Painting the cabinets with BBQ sauce, carrying cases of tomato soup that were as big as he was across the room, getting a hold of a very large knife and proudly presenting it to us, taking a spoon with him wherever he'd go, his favorite book was about "Wiring and Household Maintenance".
Good times. 
And bittersweet times.
When Ben graduated from Grade 7 at Upper Sumas I remember sitting in the crowd so grateful that I could give him the gift of an intact family for as long as I could, because I knew by then our family was functioning on borrowed time.
I remember knowing that Ben was making the transition from a boy to a man when one of our cats brought in a half dead rabbit one night during his sisters birthday party. Ben quietly took the bunny out and treated him to a humane ending, without any fanfare. He knew what the right thing to do was.
There was the night Ben learned that his family would be changing. He was very brave. He was not surprised as he had noticed the silence which often filled the house. He said to me, "So I guess I'll be in charge of fixing things now?"
His teenage years have been remarkably without drama. He plays video games too much. But he also gets straight A's so I can't nag him about that. Many of his friends have not changed since Kindergarten. I remember when he was in Elementary school, another student came up to me and said, "Nobody hates Ben."
That's pretty much it.
He's steady, smart and serious.
He is one of my greatest accomplishments.

My last story -  I was teaching a singing lesson to a student when Ben was just a baby and my student was singing "Valentine" by Martina McBride. I could not get through listening to the song without weeping.

all of my life
i have been waiting for
all you give to me
you've opened my eyes
and shown me how to love unselfishly

i've dreamed of this a thousand times before
in my dreams i couldn't love you more
i will give you my heart
until the end of time
you're all i need, my love, my Valentine

Happy graduation my boy, my valentine. 
I am so proud of you and I love you so much.

"About Benjamin he said, 'Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.' " Deuteronomy 33:12


Sunday, 3 May 2015

Or did I?

Oh wow.
It's been so long since I've written.
Actually I've been writing all the time, it just hasn't been for this audience. I went back to school in January and I loved it. I did feel overwhelmed by all the reading and driving back and forth and all the assignments. At the same time, I LOVED being challenged and stretched and I learned so much my head hurt. My Professor for Engendered History was fantastic, she had a huge influence on me. I just wish I would have had the time to do a "smash-bang" job on all my assignments, instead of a "good" job on them. You know what I mean.
I've been teaching and working at Communitas,  swimming through the murky "what's next" waters. Each time I think I know what a nice tidy answer is--it is all of a sudden not nice and tidy and I'm making decisions where I need to accept or decline offers based on necessity rather than want. I wish things were straight forward. They are not. Still.
I feel overwhelmed by where I am in my parenting journey. One minute I am so sick of driving my kids everywhere I want to scream, the next minute I want to keep them little and with me and the thought of Ben going away to University next year KILLS me. Like I can't even comprehend or cope. Even though I know that's what's next. And best.
There are financial pressures as well. My income has changed by about half in the last couple months and it's hard to keep up. We've had to make adjustments to how we live and I don't like that.
I cannot imagine where I would be if I didn't have Jarrett in my life. I wondered why I met him so quickly after I became a single mom, I thought I'd be alone for longer. I guess God knew I needed him NOW because frankly I'd be in the psych ward without his support. But that part of my marriage makes me uncomfortable too. I wanted our marriage to be a partnership, one where we contribute and need equally. I need him far more than I am comfortable with right now.
When I left New Life I spent some time praying with a couple friends. We prayed about all the churchy stuff and that was fine, and as we processed other parts of my life we hit a BLOCK. Like a huge weight. They wondered what it was. I knew what it was. But I did NOT want to tackle it.
I did not want to need my husband.  I saw remarrying as a lovely choice built on mutual admiration, compatibility and respect. But I did not want to be seen as the weak link in any way. Especially bringing my four kids with me.
I am now in a place where I am weak and I need him. I need God too, (for those of you who think I'm not clinging to God--oh I am!) but Jarrett has skin on and he can take out the garbage. And he's a good kisser.
I guess you could say I feel stuck, vulnerable, and uncomfortable. I feel like there may be brightness to my future, but it won't likely come without a lot of hard work. And I look at others (which I know I shouldn't do) and wonder why their lives are so much easier than mine.
OK now I'm just whining.  
I have no tidy anecdote to wrap this post up with. I now need to go do the dishes and in a few hours take my kids over to see their dad. The sun will continue to rise and set. I will do my best. I will work hard. I will follow the paths I need to go down.
And believe that down those paths I will find life.  

Monday, 12 January 2015

I can't wait to see what God has for you!

When I was laid off, I had a long talk with myself. It was a talk that took months to have. What’s next? What do I want? What do I need? What does my family need? In those months I compiled a mental list of answers to those questions and combined it with what other people were saying, and what I discerned God saying to me.
It went something like this: Write, speak, teach, benefits, pension, groups, people, Masters. Folks often followed this up with a heartfelt, “I can’t wait to see what God has for you!!!”
Writing, speaking and teaching made sense.  Groups of people/communication are what I’m passionate about. Benefits and a pension are a bonus. I’m 45 and can’t work forever. There was financial confirmation of the Masters. And then there was that most encouraging of statements. “I can’t wait to see what God has for you!”

Those are beautiful words. I held onto them in my darkest days. But they were words that I interpreted to mean my next position was going to be so fantastic, the disappointment of my job loss will make complete sense, in fact, I will REJOICE that I no longer have that profession.
If any of you are ever in my situation please don’t interpret those words like I did. It could set you up for more pain.

Last week was the crucial week for me. I knew that by Friday, the next part of my journey would be decided. I had two interviews for jobs that I was qualified for. I had a work offer that was ok, but not what I was really looking for. I was optimistic and confident.
The interviews were great. I felt positive. They liked me, they really liked me. Cue Celebration by Kool and the Gang.

Then Thursday happened. In the matter of a few short hours: our hamster died, I was not chosen for job #1, I took my class 4 drivers knowledge test and failed, (I needed it for a potential position) and then was promptly passed over for job #2  – the one I really wanted – it would have been that rejoice – look what God had for you kind of job.

I cried.

And accepted the prior job offer that I had.

The next three days I was an emotional mess. I couldn’t reason with myself. I felt like I had let everyone down who said to me, “I can’t wait to see what God has for you!” I was a failure, plain and simple.

I didn’t see any light until Sunday. Then I saw something. I saw that my new position gives me opportunity to write, speak and teach. Had I gotten one of those two other posts I would have become comfortable in myself again, and not pursued these three things. I have benefits. I may even have a pension. It is a large organization and there is room for me to grow. I’m working with groups of people. I feel direction regarding my Masters degree.  
I experienced the gift of perspective.

In less than 48 hours my new job starts. It was not what I expected. I was not what I thought God would give me. I don’t even know that it’s a step “up” in my career. But I will learn things I did not know I needed to know. Any maybe, just maybe, what God has in store for me won’t be so bad after all.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Chapters are not forever (total epiphany)

I read many year end reflections this week. Lots of resolutions. Lots of promises. I posted one on FB too. Folks from all over were claiming that 2015 is going to be the best year yet.
It might be.
This is more than the beginning of a new year for me. This is the beginning of a whole new chapter in my life. I've had four months to grieve the loss of my job and make some sort of sense of that. I've dusted myself off. It's time to start over again.
I've had more doors close. I've sung with a group of Ladies for four years and that is done. I've applied for close to 150 jobs and most of them were "no". I've had a handful of interviews and been offered a new job to start probably this week. I'm not going to tell you what the job is, because I have two more interviews in the next 48 hours and another two after that, so even if I start this one, it may be a short tenure.
I look back at my life and wonder why it is so hard for me to move from chapter to chapter.
 - When I graduated from High School I went back over and over again for most every event.
 - I remember waking up the morning that my Parents took me to College. My first thought was, "This is the end of life as I know it.".
 - Then, when I graduated from College I sobbed during the entire ceremony. I could not bear for my College years to be done.
 - When I moved from Manitoba to BC I couldn't tell any of my students. Someone else had to. I could not share the news that I was leaving. Too hard.
 - I held on to a marriage for years that the other partner did not want to be part of. I could not fathom the end. It killed me.

These last four months its been mourning a job that I loved. And wondering what is next.
And being kind to myself in that process.
I sort of know what is next. There will be more school, there will be more teaching. there will be new adventures. Hopefully there will be a job that I love but even if there's not, I have learned an important lesson these 16 weeks. IT'S NOT FOREVER.
It doesn't sound like an epiphany but it is. I have travelled through each part of my life with this idea that THIS IS IT. And I have given 150% of myself to each section of my life because THIS IS IT.
But it's not.
Some things are. God and my family and some friends I know are along for the ride forever, but most things and people are seasonal.
That seems harsh and mean of me to say. I want everyone to be everything forever.
But it can't be. I can't let it be. It's too hard.

So in 2015 I am giving myself permission to move on. To make new memories. Some with the same people, some with new people. If I don't like my new job, it's not forever. I will keep God and my family as my focus, because they ARE forever (some of you will argue that family is not forever because they will pass away, as I will, but you know what I mean).

I give myself - and all of you - the gift of perspective. May it serve us well.