Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Shane & Alli

Well, I have been meaning to write about our really nice Thanksgivings we had this year. It all started early in October when by chance I checked my blog on myspace only to discover that a person I had met on myspace a year ago had contacted me to say they were coming thru my neck of the woods and would I be available for coffee.

I was using MySpace mainly to contact people living in Northern Ireland to find out how things are over there to live and work. We were considering moving back over as I was born there and have dual citizenship. We were itching for a change both for ourselves and our kids but as things worked out it was not to be...right now.

Anyways, I found the individual websites of Shane & Alli MaGee and learned that they were planning this big trek through North America which included Canada...but I assumed that meant the east coast would be included. I said hello, told them to drop in if they ever came this way. But, I learned that they had no plans to come this far east.

I truly believe it was God's hand that made me check myspace that day. I hadn't checked my blog in so long and had lost interst as things here were so busy. To see that message on that very day was exciting and timely.

Shane and Alli are travelling across North America on a couch surfing/ drive across North America. They wanted to meet up with me for a coffee. So, instead of a coffee I invited them to dinner. I figured they would be ready for a good home cooked meal as they are travelling in their mini-van and eating on the road...not so appetizing on a good day!

When they arrived we were waiting for them and when I saw them walking down my driveway it was like seeing a family member coming home after a long trip away...I believe it was my spirit responding to two people it was already friends with and connected brain just had to catch up.

Our dinner was fun and easy and filled with laughter. There was no small talk, we moved from the normal question and answer phase to pretty deep discussions. I felt safe to share my views and fears and struggles with my faith. My husband who doesn't know what he believes felt totally free to be himself....though that isn't actually all that hard for him but the nice thing was...Shane and Alli were fine with that!

We ended up inviting them to our Thanksgiving dinner which was truly wonderful! My friends and my brother also came and it was a fun, lively discussion over a nice big turkey dinner. They then stayed with us till they moved on to the USA on the next leg of their trip.

In marriage, you can often have one spouse begging the other to suck it up and be nice to the company that is coming...instead, both Andy and I were in total agreement to keep them here as long as they needed!! We both felt comfortable with them here...which is odd for us as we are pretty private people.

Shane also had an opportunity to preach/teach at our church (for a sample of what our pastor is like click on this link). This was his opportunity to make contact with our church & Pastor.
We had another great dinner which included my pastor and his wife plus two of my closest friends. Shane and I got into some heated discussions on feminism and homeschooling which we never did finish....but I will write about that at another time.

When they left we all felt such a huge sense of loss! We even felt kinda silly for feeling that way because the time flew by so quickly and in all likelihood unless we take a trip over to Ireland, we might never see them again.

My three year old ella still asks when they are coming to dinner and that she misses them. She adored, adored Alli! Ben my oldest enjoyed the conversations with Shane and makes a point to read the book of poetry that Shane left him.

After the rough year we have had, when they came it was like a page turning in a book...I felt we were moving on towards better days. I just wish I could shake this sense of loss from them leaving.

Things would be lovely if they were actually close by as we all feel like a piece of our family is missing now...However, Shane is going back to University to get his Ph.D and Alli has been accepted into school to become a lawyer focusing on human rights....
We miss them much!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Year in Review...

Something about the Christmas season always makes me stop and look back over the year that is quickly coming to an end. Christmas is also a time that old memories flood back, triggered by such simple things as a Christmas song, a smell or an ornament you hang on the tree. The memories can suddenly leave you in a puddle of tears or with waves of anger and resentment but mainly melancholy for those beautiful moments that have gone by in a blink of an eye.

I tend to over compensate at Christmas for my own kids. I try so hard to provide memories for them that will leave them with happy memories to look back on when they are grown. Today we all made gingerbread houses. We have been doing this for years now....even Ben who is 14 was excited to start the Christmas season doing this favourite tradition which we all love and enjoy!

Today as we worked on our houses, I told them how one year when money was especially tight and we couldn't afford to buy the kits, I figured I could make everything from scratch and just buy the candy. By the time the kids finally got to prepare their houses, I was a basket case! I discovered how lousy I am at making is laughable now but at the time I wanted to cry and scream....thankfully the kids only remember how much fun it was even when I ended up gluing some of the gingerbreads together since my icing was to thin.

Thankfully, this year my husband worked some overtime so we splurged and bought these wonderful kits at Cosco. Ella was in candy heaven and we had lots of fun and it was fairly easy and stress free! Though, do note the jenga building blocks we use to keep our roofs on till they harden...

We also bought our tree today from a nice old man whom we met last year and bought our tree from. His trees are freshly cut and he had lots of fun stories about his time in woods. Hopefully in the spring we will buy our wood from him for the year.

So, as I gear up for another holiday season and commit myself to pleasing others...and I do enjoy it...though I wish I wasn't so tired....I pray for peace within. This year has been one of the hardest years I have gone through since my teen years. I felt like I was kicked in the stomach over and over and I keep trying to get up and catch my breath but it can all be so over whelming. But I do get up. Everything happens for a reason and our purpose in all things is to find God in the midst of it.

Spiritually, I am bone dry. I am deep into the desert. However, even in my weakest moments I never doubt Gods existence... but I have questioned why I feel so cut off from him. Why is he so this a time of discipline for me, an attempt to finally make me suck it up and learn my lessons...maybe...Tough love I understand.

I watch and see how easy others seem to have it in their walk with Jesus. Their lives seem easier or at best I wish I could trade my troubles for theirs...but I know that is silly. People only share what they want you to see...I know that...but at times I feel like I will never fit into the mainstream of life.

Lately our pastor has been preaching on grace, and trusting in God even when you are dry or in a desert. I took comfort in what he said today. He said not to allow the doubts of God to rob you of your peace. You can be in a desert, you can be depressed, you can even feel God's silence but even in that, to keep praising him...or to simply lift your hands in prayer even when your arms are heavy and tired.

1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.