The bag that was not functional.

I’ve been working hard at perfecting my sewing technique.  As my son’s therapy begins and our time attached to the house increases I find myself looking for things to do during nap time and sewing was one thing I’ve always wanted to get better at.  Yesterday during nap time I made this bag.

Bag

Looks good, right? The stitches are straight. The elastic is firmly connected at the seem. The interfacing is flat and functional.  Everything looks good in the picture. It looks like a clutch you could take out on a nice summer evening. It would be great on a nice summer evening if it wasn’t so large. I was going for a larger style but somehow managed to create the worlds largest clutch and it’s really not functional. I now have a lovely bag which is absolutely useless.

This got me to thinking. How often in our lives do we work away and toil at things which are going nowhere? How long do we continue to push ahead on projects that really should be left behind? I can see that there was a benefit to me in finishing this project. I worked on seams and linings. I was able to line up the button and make sure everything was the way I wanted it to be. There were things I learned and I’ll be able to take that into the next project. It wasn’t a total failure on that front but the outcome was not what I would have hoped.

This effort was a good reminder of was the importance to constantly check what it is I am working on and make sure it is going well and is headed in the right direction. This is true for sewing projects, parenting and my relationship with God. From time to time it’s good to evaluate and really see if I’m where I want to be.

How do you do make sure you’re headed where you want to go?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

What a week this has been {and a recipe for Chocolate Chip Banana Loaves}

It’s Thursday and I’m already wondering how we’ve crammed so much into this week in this house. On Monday I had an appointment with my OB who informed me that we should be ready anytime for the impending arrival of our child. I have to think this was a bit of an overreaction on his part as it’s now Thursday and he’s still cozy and settled with no moves to enter this world. Tuesday was filled with an assessment and analysis of our son where we had our suspicions confirmed that he has autism. This assessment was followed by lunch with my Sister and her husband and shopping and Costco. It was a busy day, a full, busy crazy day! Yesterday my son and I spent the day at home baking, playing with his monkey and pretend food, enjoying a visit from Grandma and reading some Harry Potter. It was lovely and full. We both went to bed tired and happy. Today is a quieter day yet I’m sitting on the couch after the delivery of our new stove contemplating contacting the insurance company yet again to ask if they’re ever going to come and fix our tiles and cupboards so we can put our dishwasher in. A lot is happening around here and there is much to think about.

There are many things to look forward to in the coming weeks and months.  With a new baby, watching our older son continue to learn and explore this wonderful world in which we live, a house that is complete once more and sunshine returning to our neighbourhood to look forward to I’m sure it will be wonderful. I know that as we live it there will be moments of exhaustion and pain. I know that some days will be better than others. But none of that matters, really. Life is filled with good things and bad. Life is busy days, quiet ones and all kinds of middle ground mixed in. It really is what you make of it and I am currently enjoying my last moments of relative ease with our number two son locked inside trying to make moments matter out here. One moment that mattered recently was baking banana bread yesterday afternoon. My son found the mashing of bananas fascinating and he eagerly awaited the first piece of luscious goodness. He was mildly confused when I referred to it as banana bread (as he sees bread as ‘bread’) but upon tasting it his confusion was cleared as he informed me it was actually a muffin and his world was ok again. This was a beautifully sweet, silly moment that helped me to realize that I may in fact need to haul out the loaf pans more often so he has more exposure to sweet breads!

I share this recipe with you today as it is one of the most versatile, delicious banana loaf recipes we’ve ever used. It’s healthier than most but not too healthy. The sweet crumbly texture is perfect if you’re looking for an afternoon treat. I made four mini loaves so we could freeze some for later and they were the perfect size for us as they prevent us from  over indulging at any one time.

I am hopeful that over the coming weeks and months my voice will return once more and I can speak on things beyond food. Now that the assessments are over and everything ready for the little one to arrive I anticipate my focus will return at some point. Until then I will bake and nap and enjoy some time in the sun.

Chocolate Chip Banana Mini Loaves
makes 4 mini loaves

chocolate chip banana loaves

Ingredients: 

  • 2 c mashed ripe bananas (5-6 large bananas)
  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 1/2 c soy milk
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 c chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Mix the soy milk and apple cider vinegar together and wait until it’s curdled before continuing.
  • In a large bowl combine the bananas, white sugar, brown sugar, oil, soy milk mixture, and vanilla.
  • Add in the flour, baking soda and salt.
  • Mix until combined.
  • Add in the chocolate chips.
  • Pour into prepared pans.
  • Bake in the oven for 50-55 minutes or until done.

Extra Information: 

  • You could make these into muffins or two giant loaves. It’s really up to you how you do it. If you make them into muffins they will take much less time to cook so I’d begin with 20 minutes and then see how much longer you think they’ll need.
  • If you don’t like chocolate chips you can throw in some walnuts, flaked coconut or just leave them plain.
  • In my oven these loaves take 55 minutes exactly. It may take slightly less or more time in yours. They are very moist and remain moist over a few days but this is dependent on not overcooking them. Don’t forget about them!
  • The riper the bananas the better the flavour. Use up those very dark spotted bananas no one will eat in this recipe. They are perfect for banana bread!

Absolute garbage…

Fan

I spent the last two days writing 1000 words on Lent, grace and Jesus. It doesn’t usually take me two days to write that many words and the awful truth is they were absolute garbage. I kept trying to edit and adjust but I knew there was no hope when my husband got lost reading it after he got home from work today. He very kindly tried to find something constructive to say but I knew it was bad and I told him so. He would not admit it but did not discourage my moving it to the trash.

Why was it garbage? Well I suspect it has something to do with the fact that industrial strength fans have been blowing in my house since Friday. The noise is deafening. I cannot think with the fans on. The carpet men told me today they could hear the noise as they were coming up the drive. I would leave and go write at Starbucks if not for the fact that I must be in attendance all day for the various insurance people who come in and out to check, fix and make arrangements.

Noise really prevents one from finding their centre. As I sit here in the basement with a little peace (as I negotiated some quiet time with the kind insurance man today) I can say I have found out why quiet time is so important. When we don’t set time aside to be still we can never truly find peace. Stillness is not just about being still physically, it is also about finding stillness in spirit. Finding a moment in the day when you can truly disconnect from the world and exist as you are. In those moments we find God. In those moments we connect with something greater than ourselves.

My noise right now comes from industrial fans but each one of us has noise, don’t we? There are obligations for work, family and friends. We have bills to pay, chores to accomplish and other things to do. The stress piles on, overwhelming us and we collapse into bed at the end of the day never having truly taken a moment to ourselves to connect with God and find peace. Quiet time is important. It’s essential. It’s life giving.

This time is absolutely essential to one’s spiritual and emotional wellness. Take it from me, you need it! Grab a moment today and spend time in prayer, meditate on a quote if you’d rather or crack open your Bible. Do one thing, anything that helps you find calm and peace. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it makes to take a moment to yourself and connect with something beyond your present worries. It’s very nice to find space in your day for God.

Take it from me as one who has had peace ripped from them, you want to do this for yourself. Lent is a season of preparation and transformation. Help this process along by making moments of peace and connection part of your day.  You won’t regret it!

When dishwashers attack.

Dishwasher

This morning started out like any other day. I got up and brewed myself a decaf Keurig coffee. I drank it pretending it was fully caffeinated and then set about making breakfast. The boys then went their way while I went mine and as I was making the bed before my shower I walked into a large puddle of water. I wondered if I had walked through the room with water and spilled it. Then realizing that I had not in fact done this I started searching for the source. It was water from the dishwasher seeping into the bedroom.

We live in a bungalow which is great except in cases of emergency. This will be the second time in 8 years that my bedroom has been completely ripped apart due to water damage. This time I’m quite pregnant and not at all looking forward to sleeping on the couch. At least I won’t have to move out. They can contain the dust and mess by shutting the door and opening windows. There won’t be cutting and stripping and fumes which would run me out of the house. I’m pleased with that but I am not really looking forward to putting everything back together.

Just when you start to feel sorry for yourself, life has a way of putting everything into perspective as it did this afternoon. The insurance adjuster showed up and told me his next call after ours was a fatality due to fire. I realized in that moment that our problem isn’t that big a deal.  So our life is a little messy for a little while, who cares? We are lucky to have one another. We have not lost a loved one. We are blessed to have a God who cares and is invested in us. We are fortunate to be covered by insurance. We are able to replace the appliance that caused us trouble in the first place. Things could be a lot worse.

I’ve never been one who believes that ‘everything happens for a reason’. I find that poor theology. It takes away from the choices that we make in life and doesn’t account for the truly horrible things that happen seemingly just because. What I have always believed is that things happen and we can deal with them through strength we find in God, in one another and in ourselves. God goes with us in our lives and supports us as we live them but things happen and not always for a reason. How we deal with those things makes us who we are.

While the cleanup is happening and we are moderately inconvenienced I shall endeavour to remain positive.  I will remind myself it could be worse and I will not waste time wallowing in self pity or despair. After all Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians,“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NLT)

If everything we do is to be done for the glory of God than people should see the light and glory in everything we do. Our actions and reactions should reflect the grace and peace that we are offered. Over the coming week I will try to shine light in this world and with as messy as our house is going to be I anticipate being in the world a lot more than usual for the next little while.

Poke the bear

Panda

For some unknown reason my son has started getting up between the hours of 2 and 3 every morning. He sneaks into our room quietly and then stares at me until I wake up. It’s kind of freaky. He doesn’t want to wake me as he knows he’s supposed to be asleep but he wants me to wake up so I can give him a hug and get him settled again. Waking up to someone staring at you is unsettling and I suspect my mother would say it’s payback as I remember doing this to her.

In some ways I think he’s afraid to ‘poke the bear’. He wants to engage but doesn’t want to wake me because he knows that when I’m awake actions will follow. He will have to go to bed but he wants that hug, that assurance in the dark night. He’s not sure what to do. It’s a difficult dilemma for a little boy so he does what we’ve all done at one time or another and just waits for me to make the decision for him.

As I lay in bed last night waiting to be certain he was asleep and not sneaking back down the hall to get my attention again, I realized that this is often how we engage God. We stand at the sidelines, watching and waiting to see if he will engage. We’re uncertain of whether we should move in and poke. Do we really want a response? If we get one we know there will be consequences and do we want to live with them? We know that engagement with God means being present and when we are present we need to notice, listen and respond. We cannot just stand still once we’ve engaged.

Do you find yourself on the sidelines of faith? Do you find yourself unsure of engagement and what it means?

Jesus reminds us in Matthew 7 that there are no easy roads in faith and connection with God. That connecting means commitment and commitment means action and attention.  Are you ready to poke the bear or will you just stand and stare?

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.  
- Matthew 7:13-14 The Message

We rise again

sign
Ash Wednesday brought with it a lot of statements on my Facebook and Twitter feed reminding me that I was going to die. I know this. I also know that meditating on the fact that from dust we came and to dust we shall return can be a good exercise. None of us should believe we are immortal. Being aware that life is finite forces us to live. Regardless I found some of the comments to be a bit lacking. The grace that is offered, the fresh starts that are given, the resurrection that we hear of and experience time and again are important images in our faith. We cannot forget these things in the midst of contemplation.

As I’ve lived lately I’ve witnessed signs of new life all around. It’s not yet spring, but there is about an inch of grass peeking through at the front of my lawn underneath all the snow. Our doves have returned to their roost and are planning a nest I’m sure. The time has changed and everyday I see the light linger in the sky a little longer. I feel my son within me twisting and turning, yearning to burst forth when the time comes. The dormant period has come to an end. The season of quiet hibernation will soon give way to growth and opportunity. Life happens when we push forth. Life happens when we embrace this beginning.

I was surprised this week when I saw the message on our neighbourhood Roman Catholic Parish’s sign,We rise again from the ashes to create ourselves anew“. Usually it just lets us know when Mass is but it would seem the Priest wanted to remind us that from death comes new life. When things burn it looks terrible but soil can be rejuvenated and life can burst forth in a fresh, unique way. Destruction and devastation can bring forth great things. Life’s challenges are not pleasant but sometimes when we look back we can see when we felt most burnt out and hollow how our life changed, how we sought renewal and rebirth in that moment. I’m not suggesting these trials are part of a greater plan, more reflecting on how we react to the things that happen to us and around us.   

Renewal comes at unexpected times. It is something we all need, crave even. After a long winter we pine for spring. After the time change we long for sleep. Today as we step into the unofficial first day of the week we find ourselves contemplating the hours and longing for the weekend. As we live this, let us not forget the possibilities that lie within this period. In the burned out, broken down moments of our lives we can find hope for tomorrow and a promise for the future. After all winter will not last forever. Sleep will return once more. Our struggles may continue but we will persevere and if we look there will be others to help us carry the load and push us past this moment in time.

Today we possess the power within to create, to rebuild, to renew. Today we can choose how we will live this moment. Will we remain as we are or burst forth into something new? With God’s help this is possible. Will we allow ourselves this opportunity? Will we break free from the past, burst forth into newness and find hope in what is to come?

Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
    scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
    set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
    give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
    shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
    or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
    put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
    so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
    and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
    I’ll let loose with your praise.

                                                       Psalm 51:7-15 the Message

The disconnect.

My husband has been dropping my son off at his school on his way to work so he’s been taking the family car. We only invested in one car seat as lets face it, they’re expensive. As a result I’ve been spending more time in our other car. It’s a basic, no frills added CR-V that gets you from point a-b very well. The thing I miss when I’m driving it is my iPhone connector. I have to listen to the radio. There is no pre-made playlist by me.

It has in a strange way been a good thing. While I like to have control of my musical destiny, listening to the radio has forced me to discover new music that I might have overlooked or never experienced as I rely heavily on John Mayer, Mumford and Sons and Jack Johnson to get me through the day. As a result of this forced radio companionship I’ve discovered new music that gives me a chance to see what’s going on in the world.

I love the melancholy sounds of Lorde as she sings Royals. The lyrics are so different from usual pop music. The sound is sparse compared to a lot of what is out there and there isn’t a lot of distraction within the track. It stands out in a set of music because it is so different from everything else. I also find myself enjoying the change in Eminem as he’s grown as an artist. It’s a rather interesting evolution. Eminem is on the radio regularly here (hazards of listening to Detroit radio I suppose). Headlights in particular displays a completely different side to him as an artist and while I’m not going to recommend him to you as he’s slightly profane, it’s what’s out there right now. This is the music that is on the radio. This is what society hears, engages in and is connected to. I haven’t been connected to it. I’ve been connected to my own music, to the things that appeal to me. Being forced to expand my musical repertoire has made me realize how disconnected I am to that which I don’t like.

This disconnect is normal in the human experience. We all tend to gravitate towards the things we like. We watch shows we like. We listen to music we like. We find people we like. We find churches we like. It extends to everything, doesn’t it? Even faith. Think about the way you express yourself. You probably engage with one aspect of God that is more comfortable to you. I lean into the spiritual side of life and embrace God in the every day moments. Friends of mine find God deep in theological tomes while others embrace the big highs that come from mountain top experiences. There is nothing wrong with any of those things. They are all authentic, real ways of engaging the one who created us. The trouble comes when we forget that the other ways of engaging God which we may not be comfortable with are real and in fact may be good for us to experience. Broadening our horizons and expanding our understanding of God can only help us as we seek to live a life in relationship with him.  

I think I need to make an effort to expand how I view my faith and relationship with God. I want to begin reading the Bible in new ways, not just the ways that are comfortable to me. I need to discover new forms of prayer and expression. I could stand to discover new music, new translations and new interpretations. When we become too comfortable, we become complacent. I never wish for my relationship with God to be complacent and disconnected.

What about you? Do you find yourself compartmentalizing your faith and approaching it from the same angle each time? Do you think you need to expand your horizons and meet God in other venues and other ways?

 

The common cold

Did Jesus get colds? Probably. They happen to everyone, don’t they. For the past week and a half we’ve been battling colds in this house. My husband and son were both quite sick and I started to feel pretty good about myself. That’s when things go sour, isn’t it? Never feel good about how healthy you are. I woke up this morning with a sore throat and congestion. Just as the boys are getting better I am getting sick.  It’s the circle of life in a way.

Colds are excellent reminders of our weakness as humans. The remind us that we are not impenetrable and it’s awfully discouraging to realize a tiny virus that we can’t even see can enter our body and destroy it’s equilibrium. I’m not pushing through this cold today. I’m no hero nor am I stupid. I saw what pushing through did for my son and husband and it is my hope that by surrendering I will be able to overcome it much faster.

Surrendering is often seen as a weak thing to do. We talk of winners vs. losers but in life sometimes you have to surrender to pull ahead. I thought it appropriate that this morning the Bible verse in my study was one which spoke about surrender.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: 
“Whoever wants to be my disciples must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  - Mark 8:34

Now I’m not saying this cold is my cross. I’m not even saying it’s a spiritual struggle but I will say that it’s a good reminder of the need to surrender. We need to let go of control. We need to let go of ourselves and our own agendas and move with God in his path. Surrender in faith is ok, in fact it’s kind of required.

Wise words from Mr. The King.

lightening

My son has been home sick the last couple of days. It’s nothing serious, don’t fret. He had a fever and some aches but is now in recovery mode. He’s been resting on the couch with his cars, trains and books.  We’ve been watching videos when it’s too much effort to play and then there are the naps.  He’s napping again.  I can’t remember the last time he napped willingly.

One of his favourite videos right now is the movie Cars.  We only watch the race scene.  He’s too busy to do much more but he loves watching the cars go round and round and fight it out at the end. We always end it shortly after one of my favourite interactions. I love the message that comes in the conversation between the rookie Lightning McQueen and the experienced Mr. the King when they meet following that first race.

The King: “Hey buddy.  You’re one gutsy racer.”
Lightning McQueen: “Oh hey, Mr. the King.”
The King: “You got more talent in one lug nut than a lot of cars has got on their whole body.”
Lightning McQueen: “Really? Oh, that -…”
The King: “but you’re stupid. This ‘aint a one man deal kid. You need to wise-up and get you self a good crew chief and a good team. And you ain’t gonna win unless you got good folks behind you, and you let them do their job, like they should. Like I tell the boys at the shop…”

I think what The King says here is pretty smart. Life isn’t a one man deal. We don’t live it entirely in isolation, free from impact or need. Relationships are important. People are important. In order for us to be who we are created to be we need to invest in the people around us. We need to realize just how important the supporting players are in our life to our story. It goes beyond that too, doesn’t it? In life we aren’t always the star. Sometimes we play a key supporting role to someone else on their journey.

Our strength and success in life doesn’t just come from within. No one stands alone. Our success comes from the strength we receive in the support we get from others. As we walk through today, let’s remember to play our supporting parts well and appreciate those who support us daily, including God. Today let’s throw up many prayers of Thanksgiving for the strength and care he provides in our lives.

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

I’m lucky enough to have a fridge…

Red cup

I woke up in the best of moods this morning. Our morning was wonderful. After a lovely breakfast and enjoyable lounge about, I dropped my son off at school, headed to Superstore to grab a few essentials and on my way home stopped at my local Starbucks for a hot chocolate. It was rather indulgent but I felt like it was time for my first red cup of the season. I arrived home, cup in hand to the rather shocking revelation that my fridge had died.  It seems the freezer went first. Everything on the bottom was completely thawed but the fridge sometime in the not so distant past had joined in and stopped working as well. It is trying. I’ll give it that. There are some strange sounds coming out of it but nothing was particularly cold and I was starting to understand why my morning cereal wasn’t appetizing. Lukewarm milk is never a good thing with ancient grain O’s.

After spending the morning cleaning out my freezer, moving things downstairs to the pantry fridge and cleaning up the water that was everywhere I have realized a few things about life.

1: I am incredibly blessed. I had a full fridge that I needed to save. There was food and fuel for my family that many others do not have access to.
2: I have a fridge in the basement and the ability to save the upstairs contents. Very little waste and a fairly easy solution.
3: I was able to get that food where it needed to go.  I am mobile and healthy and perfectly capable of handling a crisis. It’s a nice thing to be able to manage and a blessing to have a body which allows me to do so.
4: I will get another fridge. It’s not something we had planned for but we will do it.

A dead fridge isn’t fun. There’s all the running about and cleaning up but it’s done now and that’s a good thing. While the day may not have been what I expected it was filled with truth and realizations. We are blessed and for that I am truly grateful.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: