Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Lesson in Redemption

To begin, I have to say that I was inspired by this theme, 'redemption', by a fellow writer/friend of mine. So, D, I thank you :)

With the change of plans I encountered this past week, I really had started feeling sorry for myself. I felt like a bad friend for missing Magda's shower, I felt like a bad daughter for not getting down to see my mom, I felt like a bad mom for having to break the news to Charlotte "no, honey, we're actually NOT going to go see Mimi this week...", and I felt like a bad wife for having to say to Jonathan "well, babe, all 3 of us are going to stay here this week (sick, mind you), instead of leaving you to have a few glorious days with the house to yourself and your buddies." It was getting a bit ridiculous, this level of self-pity to which I had dragged myself.

And then, God stepped in and did what He loves to do: He showed up and showed off.

Jonathan's longtime mentor/friend, Marc, had a trip planned to Vancouver this week. He arrived on Thursday evening and will leave tomorrow morning. My trip to California was supposed to overlap a bit, so that the guys could have good 'guy time' and then then kids and I would still be able to spend time with Marc for a few days. When we cancelled the California trip, all of us ended up being here for the entire duration of Marc's visit. And what a blessing it has been. Marc is one of those people who oozes Jesus. He proclaims His truth and love wherever he goes, to whoever he encounters. And, surprisingly, it's not obnoxious. Even with this overwhelming joy, he's still 'real'. He's had a crazy life, full of all sorts of things that most people just read about in grocery store checkout line magazines. But God grabbed hold of him many years ago, brought him into His presence, and has been using Marc to spread His kingdom from that moment on. Every time he opens his mouth, it's encouraging words that flow out. When he speaks, you feel loved, cared for, understood, and affirmed. And boy, I needed that. With Jonathan's crazy study/class schedule, I've had a lot of time over the past week to spend with Marc and the kids, and God has been so present in all of our conversations. I would have missed out on some pretty glorious moments had I not been here.

With Marc's trip being several days, I didn't feel bad for heading out on Saturday night with 2 girlfriends for margaritas. God was with us from the moment we hopped on the 99 bus towards the Cactus Club, and didn't leave for a moment. We sat at a tall bar table and sipped our drinks, sharing hilarious stories, sobering stories, those deep parts of our hearts to which few are allowed access. I heard stories of love, hope, redemption, and grace. To find people with whom one can truly be herself is a gift only possible from our God, and I am grateful to have received it.

So, while last week began with self-pity and tears, it was quickly redeemed in so many ways. I am trying my hardest not to skip over these blessings or discount them as 'coincidences', for I know God works with far more purpose than that. The redemption of what was lost when I couldn't go to California was made up in brilliant conversations and time spent with some pretty amazing people. Although I'm still quietly mourning the missed celebration of one friend, I'm grateful for what God put in its place.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Acceptance of Sacrifice

Right now, God is gently leading me through what I am calling an 'acceptance of sacrifice.' It's not easy. It's not fun. But He is providing me with just enough hope and encouragement to allow me to see the light at the end of this small tunnel. Perhaps it was with this same kind of hope (just on a larger - MUCH larger scale) that God was able to sacrifice His Son...how painful it was in the moment, but knowing that the outcome would be better than anyone could have imagined I'm sure made His 'Rescue Plan' worthwhile in His eyes.

I am supposed to be in California right now. With Charlotte, Thaddaeus, family members, and a dear friend, Magda, whose bridal shower we are to celebrate this Saturday. However, I am stuck in Vancouver with a sick child. She is very sick. Although I don't know what she is sick with or how long it will last, I can see ahead just enough to know that we need to stay home - that travelling would be awful for her and that a shortened trip would be too stressful for her little body. Oh how I hate this! I have been looking forward to this trip for several weeks, planning the shower with the other bridesmaids, planning all sorts of outings with friends and family...I hate to admit that I felt just a twinge of annoyance with Charlotte for 'messing things up.' "Charlotte, if only you hadn't gotten sick...Mommy could be having a great time right now, instead of mixing Tylenol into popsicles, cleaning up throw-up, and checking your temperature every 2 hours!" Now now, of course I didn't say that to her. But I assure you, plenty of that kind of one-sided dialogue has been running through my head for the past 36 hours!

Having to accept this change of plans is not easy, but it's made just a tad bit better by knowing that this sacrifice of mine is for my daughter's greater good. Would I sacrifice her health just so that I can have fun and keep my plans? I hope I would never do such a thing. I am daily seeing how God truly uses parenting as a way to bring us closer to Christ-likeness, that He truly wants us to see the reflection of Him + us in us + our children. And if it takes a sick little girl and a cancelled trip to bring me one tiny step closer to being 'in His likeness', then let it be so.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Friday Family Day

During the past year and a half we have attempted to have a weekly Sabbath day as a family. We realized we needed this after Jonathan spent his first semester here working daily and hardly ever taking a break - there was no rest! Taking this 'time off' has been so good - we never regret it and Jonathan always seems to find enough time for his studies during the rest of the week. Last week we took Friday as our family day and spent our time down at Granville Island. We lunched at GoFish, our favorite fish tacones hideaway at the harbour, and then took Charlotte to the playground for some much-needed outdoor playtime. I'm sure Charlotte's favorite part of the whole day was taking the bus - she loves public transit!
See our fancy-shmancy double Bob stroller behind us? Rides like a dream...

The glorious, er, indoors

Well, we actually managed an indoors, spring-break week, rainy day activity...without heinous crowds! The 8 of us took off on foot from our parking lot, hopped on the bus for the 1/2 hour ride to the SkyTrain and got everyone safely to the train platform. Unfortunately, there was a police incident the next stop down and the train was shut down temporarily (sigh). So out we trudged to find another bus headed downtown. After another 15 minute bus ride and a 20 minute walk in pouring rain, we made it to BC Place (home of the 2010 Opening Ceremonies). Some construction workers snuck us in the back employee entrance - who wouldn't feel sorry for this soaking wet motley crew? - and we were helped to a ticket counter by a very kind employee who wove us in and out of piles and piles of stacked astroturf. After this behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium we emerged into the onslaught of flashing lights, blaring music and screaming kids. It was fun! Charlotte loved every ride and just kept wanting to play! I was proud of her - I had no idea how she'd find these rides that were much faster than those I remember from my childhood amusement park. When next year rolls around, I'm sure you'll be able to find us at the PlayDome again - and maybe on the bigger rides!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Change of Plans

Every once in awhile you just have to go with the flow. As our entourage of 8 (3 adults, 3 toddlers & 2 infants - yes, that's 5 carseats) packed into our 7-seater minivan, we should have just known that our day would turn out differently than we had planned. From the 11:15 departure when we'd planned on 10:00 to the closest aquarium parking spot being a 30 minute walk from the aquarium entrance, things just went UNaccording to plan. We realized quickly that our day would be miserable if we succumbed to the spring break mob descending upon the aquarium and had to turn to Plan B. Only we didn't have a Plan B. As Dana, Megan and I discussed our options, Clay, Cora and Charlotte were in the back yelling, "aquarium! aquarium!" I'm sure if TJ and Hannah could talk, they'd have joined the chorus. After flying through the possibilities for our day we left that nasty parking lot and headed to one of the playgrounds in Stanley Park. Due to our previous plan to spend the day inside at the aquarium, we were ill-equipped for spending a long time outdoors in the cold, so this playtime ended after around 5 minutes. We then drove downtown where we invaded a gelato shop, ate our packed lunches and then (to the relief of the gelato worker) actually got some gelato. The sun finally came out and so we headed back to the bunny place and 'hollow log beach' (see post below). Watching the kids tromp around and explore (with Charlotte wearing my sweater) was so much fun and we enjoyed laughing and talking with each other, as girls do. I am so grateful for these friends whose kiddos love spending time with Charlotte! We'll be heading off on another adventure this Friday, so stay posted...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Teeny Tiny Dancers

Oh, Miss Michelle...where are we going today? On Thursday afternoons Miss Michelle takes a class of 6 giggly girls and 1 unfortunate boy on musical dance adventures on an airplane or boat, through jungles or deserts, as butterflies or bubbles. They tiptoe, jump, run, hop, leap, twirl, and spin across the floor, (mostly) following their imaginative goddess of a teacher. The perfect activity for 2 best friends, 'dance class' is a highlight of the week for Charlotte and Cora who share, along with their love for each other, the same kind of 'ballerina shoes'. I am secretly hoping Charlotte loves it and wants to do more. I'm re-living my childhood, and it feels good :)

Bunnies and Logs

When I met Dana, I never imagined I'd be invited into the world of someone who knows absolutely every single 'cool spot' in Vancouver, the ones that you find by just making yourself get up and explore. Today I found myself (along with Dana, Clay, Charlotte, and TJ) somewhere near Jericho Beach, about 100 yards east of the kayak rental place, behind 5 empty tennis courts, and approximately 250 steps through blackberry bushes. Of course, a typical stop on the Vancouver tourist 'Big Red Bus.' Since TJ had fallen asleep on the 4 minute drive there from our home, I (not wanting to awaken the babe) was ridiculously carrying him in his carseat as we weaved in and out of the brambles until we came to a wide opening of grass...and several fuzzy bunnies! Big ones, small ones...there were quite a few who were very eager to make our acquaintance. Clay, that boy he is, couldn't get enough and I really think he was making his best effort at trying to snatch one up and take it home. Charlotte, on the other hand, wanted to be close - just close enough for a photo op - and would then scream and run away the moment that bunny got one paw too close. Silly girl. Maybe hanging out with Clay will make her less timid around these living creatures with whom we share this place.

After bunny time we headed to the sand where there was, to our delight, a hollow log much like the one Roo hides in during a game of hide-and-seek with Tigger in one of Charlotte's favorite Winnie-the-Pooh stories. What kid can pass up that kind of make-believe-made-real?
Vancouver really is fantastic. I'll miss it when we're gone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What am I doing?

On days like today, I glance at the time, "2:54 PM", and I wonder "what am I doing?" I'm still in my bathrobe (which I've been wearing since I got out of the shower at 6:30 this morning), we haven't set foot outside (which is fine since it's around 0 degrees), there are dry sheets to put on the bed, wet sheets to put in the dryer, and loads of dishes to be washed by hand. And yet I can't do anything but gaze at TJ, play 'tea party' with Charlotte and just be grateful that I get to stay home and ask myself "What am I doing?" I'll be sure to put on 'real' clothes before Jonathan gets home and the bed will be made. I'm just glad that I realize ' 'tis a sweet life I have.'

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Reading Material

I've decided that it's time to start reading again. Not just books that I feel like I should read so that I'll learn something deeply spiritual or books that would push my level of religious intellect towards that of Jonathan's. No, I'm reading books that bring joy to my heart, laughter to my lips and tears to my eyes. My Regent spouse's group (going strong since Sept. '07) has ditched 'Celebrating the Disciplines' because, sadly, we're just not disciplined enough to get through it. In its place is 'Cold Tangerines', which offers a refreshing look at the discipline of celebration (so there IS a discipline that we 'get'!), seeking out ways to celebrate God's touches of His light that he He pours out into the everyday...if only we look. I've also started 'Operating Instructions' by Anne Lamott, a gift from a friend now that my life involves a little guy of my own. Delving into these books has renewed the passion for reading that I must have lost after an overdose of Francine Rivers on spring break in college one year. Hopefully this new relationship will last.

Potty Time

It has become apparent this week that Charlotte is ready to use the potty. If you'd have asked me a week ago, I'd have said, "I'm hoping she'll be potty trained by the time she goes to grade school." Thankfully, we're not having to wait that long. She quite suddenly decided that now is the time, that now she is a 'Big Kid' (as her 'Potty Power' DVD calls children who use a potty and have said bye-bye to diapers). In 5 days of using her red, plastic, sticker-covered, $4.99 Ikea potty seat, there have only been 3 accidents. All on the carpet/rug. I think we should invest in 'Resolve' (if any of you have pets, you know what that is). We're still using diapers when we venture out of the house, but from here on out she's all dolled up in her big girl underwear when we're home. What fun lies ahead...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Here we go again...

Hi everybody. Most of you don't know that I started a blog a few years back. It lasted only a few posts and got the axe promptly following Charlotte's birth. I thought I didn't have time - haha. Now I see that it actually is possible to blog with children - I have a friend who does it a few times a week! - and that sharing our daily life stories (especially with pictures) is a way to keep our family and friends connected with our lives. So this is my feeble attempt at starting anew and telling the story that God is writing in our family's life. So, welcome to 'These Dodd Days.' I hope we don't disappoint!