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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking back......looking forward

Years ago, my pastor spoke in a sermon about the necessity of looking forward. He said "If you're driving down Mayor Magrath, and all you do is look in your rearview mirror, you're going to get in an accident.  Instead, you need to look ahead, with quick glances behind you to see what's there.  That's how we need to live our lives.

Seems so appropriate today.  The New Year always bring with it a time of reflection, and I think that's good.  It is healthy to look at the year gone by, celebrate the victories, mourn the losses, and learn from the lessons.  But we can't stay there.  We need to keep looking ahead, keep moving forward.

Reading over my post from January 1, 2013, it's interesting to actually compare how the year turned out.  The kids have had a busy year - I love having all three of them at the high school, and it's been a good transition for Nathan.  

The Centre has opened!  We've been open now for two months, and while it's been slow, there are clients coming in, and we're getting to help them.  It's been an adjustment for me and the kids, being gone all day, every day.  We're still figuring that one out - instant meals from M & M Meats have definitely become my friend.  Hoping to get better at the balance of working and being a mom this year.  

The Wind family grew again this year, with the arrival of little Emberly in February, and is continuing to grow, with 3 new additions expected in 2014.  God is so good!  We were all able to be together in Fairmont, and almost all of us went camping this summer.  I'm so thankful to be part of a family that values each other so much, and that as adults we are as close as we are.
University:  first two university courses are done (with A's!), and halfway through the next 3 - and it's going well.  :)

The divorce is final, has been for a few months, and that marked the end of that chapter.  It's been good to have closure there, for me and the kids.  

Last year this time, my Beppe really wasn't doing all that well.  There's plans for her birthday party in the next couple weeks - she's doing so much better.  I even got to see her this spring, for the first time in over 3 years.
There's been loss too - I went to more funerals in 2013 than I have in a long time.  So many families that will never be the same.

So, 2014.  What do we have to look forward to?  Honestly, I'm hoping for a calm, "boring" year.  To get settled into the Centre, and really watch it grow.  To figure out this whole work/mom thing.  To keep going on the university courses.  Really?  Just more of the same.

The kids and I are going to Edmonton for a couple of days in March, and I'm excited for that.  The CAPSS conference is in Hamilton this year, so I'll get to spend some time there.  Katie gets to go to Mexico in February, and I'm so thrilled for her!  She's taking part in a mission trip with the Taber EFree group, and gets to go see Auntie Karen. There will be another summer of camp - Katie is hoping to spend all summer there.  :)

Watching the kids grow and mature - such an experience.  Katie is discovering a real interest and enjoyment in mechanics, and is exploring the option of the RAP program. John has picked up a couple of routes for the Shopper, and is showing real responsibility and maturity there.  Nathan, my little Nathan, is in Junior High!  He's becoming so helpful around the house, and is really starting to grow in that area.

I've got some stuff I need to work on this year.  Money - need to nail down a budget and stick to it.  Need to lose some weight, get in shape.  I need to really intentionally work on my relationship with God, and time in His Word.

The biggest change for us is the fact that God has brought a wonderful man into my life to share all these things with, so it will be a year of change and adjustment as we walk this new journey in life.

So, here we stand at the beginning of a brand new year.  A clean slate.  A whole year ahead, full of possibilities.  I can't wait to see what God fills it with.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Choosing Thankfulness

Thanksgiving.  All over this great country of ours, people are getting together with family, sharing the things they are thankful for.  Facebook is full of statuses of gratefulness. And so it should be.  We do have so much to be thankful for, me especially.

  1. My kids.  Honestly, there are days that I just stand back, look at them, and think "Wow, God, I don't think I've wrecked them too badly!"  :)  Seriously though, they are amazing.  To see them moving into young adulthood, to watch them grow and mature is such a gift to me.  
  2. My parents.  I'm not exaggerating at all when I tell you I really do have the best parents in the world.  Now, they're not perfect (sorry, Mom!), but when I need them, they are there.  When things go south, when something exciting happens, when I'm lonely, when I'm happy, when I'm sad, I can call home (and I do!), and Mom will listen.  I think it's pretty safe to say that I would not have made it through the past couple of years without them.
  3. My family. If you know anything about the Wind clan, you realize this is not a small statement.  There will be 28 people sitting around tomorrow's Thanksgiving table, and that doesn't include Alex who had to stay in Mexico, or the little one who will be joining the family in February.  Anyhow, they are amazing.  I just said to one of my sisters the other day that I'm pretty sure the reason God gave me this many sisters is He knew how many cheerleaders I would need.  And they are that.  Add to that their willingness to let me stay at their house, let my kids stay at their house, fix my van, you name it, they're there for me.  And I love them for it.
  4. My friends.  While I often talk about knowing the entire world (and I really do know a lot of people), I don't have a ton of close friends.  But the ones I have a pure gold, and I love them dearly.
  5. My church.  I honestly cannot say enough about our church family at EFree Lethbridge.  I'm so thankful that I'm able to serve in Worship Arts again this year, as I so missed that.  The leadership staff, my kids' small groups, my WOW group - all of it.  Such a major part of our lives.
  6. My school.  Even though I don't work there anymore, and I definitely don't attend there, Immanuel Christian High School will always be "my school".  The community there is also our family, and I'm so thankful for the love and support that the kids and I have gotten.  It is such a blessing to be able to drop the kids off and know that they will be receiving a quality education drenched in the Gospel, and be loved on all day by staff who truly care.
  7. My house.  We've lived here now for almost 8 months, and I just love it.  Every weekend when I clean house, I still think, "wow, I get to live here!"  It's amazing.
  8. My job.  Actually, it's so much more than a job, it's a career.  And more than that, it's a calling.  To be able to work in ministry is amazing.  I am getting so excited to see the doors to the Centre open and to start serving our city - I can't wait!
  9. My university opportunity.  While there are days that I think signing up for my degree was singlehandedly the stupidest thing I could have done, I'm glad I did.  It's a challenge, but it's a good one, and the feeling of accomplishment when a paper comes back with a good mark is fantastic.
  10. My divorce.  I know, doesn't seem appropriate, but I am thankful.  In the next few weeks, I should be receiving a piece of paper from the courthouse saying that I am divorced.  I'm thankful that this journey is over - it's been long and hard, and I'm ready to move on with my life.
Just like that.  10 things that I'm thankful for.  And I could go on.....and on.....and on.

So then why am I still so sad?  How is it that when I have so many good things around me that I still feel so empty?  There are so many people suffering, so many people who would give anything to have a life as good as mine.  But I don't look at them - I'm too busy looking at all those who seem to have it so much better.

God, help me out of this pity party!  I have been so, so richly blessed - help me to see that and to remember it.  To live in the gratitude that can only come from the knowledge of the saving grace of Christ.  

So that's what we're going to do - choose thankfulness.  Because honestly?  I'm so blessed, I have no right to complain about anything.  




Monday, October 7, 2013

Cornerstone

What a day.....there's so many things I would like to say, but I don't even know what to say.  To see so many hearts breaking today, it was devastating.  All I could think was "Father, help them....".

So, for today, this song sums it up - "through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all"



Friday, October 4, 2013

Hold on tight.....with open hands

Today is one of those days that I am just weary with this world and all of its brokenness, and just long to go home.  It's one of those days that you just can't help but think, "Why, God?  Why so much?"

Today, one of my favorite families, the Lights, laid their mother and grandmother to rest, celebrating her life here on earth and her "promotion" to glory, while mourning their loss.  This is the same family who just stood beside a gravesite a few weeks ago, saying goodbye to a brother and uncle.

Today, the Bydevaate family is making plans for the funeral of their 28 year old son. What?  How is this right?  Joel, a young man in the prime of his life, killed in a farming accident.  This is a family I've known my entire life, a family that has already gone through so much.  Really, God?  Why?  We know You're in control, and trust Your sovereignty, but why?

Today, the Hodges family said goodbye to their mother as she passed into glory.  I think of Roy, who stood at my doorway, tearing up just talking about his sweet Doreen in the hospital, and wonder, why?

3 lives.  3 families.  3 people who are spending this Sabbath in glory.

And yet life goes on.  In all this grief and tragedy, we need to keep going.  So what do we do with this?  In times like this, it's easy to spout off Scripture like Romans 8:28, that God will work things for good, or Jeremiah 29:11, that God has a good plan for our future.  It's all true.  We can share all sorts of wonderful "Christianese" platitudes, about how these people are in a better place, that we can celebrate their lives and be thankful they're in glory.  That's also very true.

So what we do?

We hold on.  We hold on to the promises of Scripture like a lifeline, because that is what they are.

And we hold on to those around us, not taking for granted the gifts that God has given us, since we don't know when He will take them back.  Holding on to our children and our families with open hands.  Holding on to the little moments, and appreciating them.

As I'm sitting here writing, this picture flipped up on my digital frame...
This was taken a few weeks ago.  We got to spend a Sunday afternoon in Waterton with my folks.  We were sitting down having an ice cream (because, honestly, you can't go to Waterton and not have ice cream), and Katie was just taking pictures of different things. She sits down beside Dad, who says "Hey, let's take one of those....you know what they're called.....like Cheryl always does."  A selfie, Grandpa?  Yup.  :)

So, the picture is not super quality, but I love it.  Just a random little moment, a selfie with Grandpa.  But so precious.

So tonight when you tuck your kids in, and say good night to your loved ones, hold them a little longer.  Thank God once again for all that He's given you, because even in all this grief and sadness, there is still joy.







Sunday, September 29, 2013

My poor, neglected blog....

Somehow, in the midst of life, I seem to have forgotten that I have a blog.  So, in a quiet moment this afternoon I remembered, and when I opened it up, the newest post was from March.  Not good.

Basically, things have just been really busy.  Since my last post.....

  • John turned 13
  • I got a tattoo 
  • I spent a week in Victoria at the CAPSS conference, along with a little stop in Surrey to visit my Beppe
  • the kids finished a school year, including Nathan graduating from grade 6!
  • the kids and I got to get away a bit this summer, including a night away in Fernie & Three Hills
  • got to take part in the first ever Wind family camping trip
  • Nathan turned 12
  • Katie got to spend an entire month at SABC - 3 weeks working, and 1 week as a camper
  • I finished my first two university courses, and got an A in both of them!
  • the renovation at the Centre got underway, and now is just weeks from completion
  • got to spend a great Sunday afternoon in Waterton with Grandma & Grandpa, reminiscing about their honeymoon there 38 years ago
  • all three kids are now at the high school campus, and I have one in Senior High!
  • Katie turned 15
....and so much more.  I'm sure there's more, but those seem to be the things that are coming back to me right now.  

So, to sum it up?  Things are good....busy, but so good.  :)


Sunday, March 3, 2013

New House!

It was 16 above yesterday, and this is what it looks like outside.  Oh, Southern Alberta.....well, I'm definitely glad to be inside.

Speaking of inside, we've now been in our new house for a week, and feeling pretty settled.

 Welcome to our home....come on in, and take a look:


The kitchen - definitely the selling feature of the house!

Living room, just off the kitchen...
Nathan's room - he's never had his own room, so this is pretty epic.

My room, complete with amazing ensuite.  I love it more than I can even tell you.
Family room downstairs - it's a great space, and I forsee a lot of movie nights here.  :)

Katie and John also have bedrooms, but both need some paint, so we'll post those later. And meanwhile, in the backyard....
Yup.  That's a hot tub.  In my backyard - woohoo!  
Moving day went so well....it's always a lot of work, moving, but I had some amazing help, so it went really smoothly.



Such a blessing - we're so thankful for this beautiful home.  For now, everyone stay home, and stay warm. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

He Meant it for Good

The beginning of a new year brought with it a new sermon series at Lethbridge EFree - "Eat This Book".  It is a challenge to the church to read through the Bible in one year, with the goal to be spending time with God in His Word.  Sunday sermons have been following the reading plan, and thus far we've spent 5 weeks in the Torah.

Having grown up in the church, I have a pretty solid knowledge of the stories of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, so I've made a point of following the reading plan in a different version than I grew up with, so I can stay focused a bit, instead of just skimming over - Creation, Noah, Abraham, Isaac.....I know how this goes.

Two weeks ago the sermon was on Joseph, another story I know well.  One thing I didn't realize though was the lack of credit that God gets in the story of Joseph.  If you read through the passages of Joseph in Egypt, God doesn't really come up - not until the end, anyways.  And that's the part that got me.  My kids have all memorized this passage for school, and I always kind of thought it was a bit of a random verse to learn, but it's quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Genesis 50:20 reads "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."  Now, obviously, Joseph was speaking to his brothers about their having sold him into slavery, and it being God's plan that through that many would be saved from the famine in Egypt.  But, as the New Testament church, we can take that into our own lives as well.  I think this goes along well with one of my long-time favorite passages, Romans 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  And again, in Jeremiah 29:11 - "For I know the plans I have for you', declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

There is so much pain and suffering in our world - not only out in the world, but right here.  Just this morning we heard of the passing of a member of our church, leaving his wife here on her own.  She's journeyed through so much in her life, and now she finds herself in tragedy again.  A young man from our church underwent two surgeries this week to remove a tumor, and now his parents are waiting with him for the pathology report, praying for a report of a benign tumor.

We can all look at our lives, and see the bad, the hard, the heartache.  But it's not always that we also get to look back and see how God has been working.  I was talking with one of the pastors this morning, and he said "Monica, look at all of the change in your life in the last 2 years!"  And it's true.  It's been a big couple of years around here, and it has not been easy.  And again I'm amazed at where God has taken me.

2 years ago, I felt so alone, and so stuck, trying to search out God's will for my life, wanting desperately to serve Him, and not knowing how.  Fast forward to today, and I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving.

  • My kids are doing well - things are not without their struggles, and I'm not blind to the things that we're still working through, but I'm so thankful for these three blessings that God has given me.  
  • I have an amazing new career, working in such an important ministry.  It's a job that has all the elements that I love, is challenging, and I'm making a difference.  
  • Financially, things are getting settled down - bankruptcy is in the past, bills are getting paid on time, and we're moving forward. 
  • I started university this week - who would have thought?  Big thanks to Pastor Ian for the push.  :)
  • This week's big news?  We're moving!  Come the end of the month, we're going to be settled into our own house in Uplands - it's beautiful, and it will be ours. The kids will each have their own room, there's a dishwasher, there's even a hot tub.  So blessed!
2 years later, I can see how I'm not alone.  God has surrounded me with so many people - don't get me wrong, there's many lonely times, but I know that there are so many who love me and my kids.  
  • My family - couldn't ask for better.  As I like to tell people, we're like a traveling party, there's just that many of us.  And we're growing - just this week, little Emberly Hope joined the Wind family.  :) 
  • My church family has become so near and dear - after talking with Pastor Ken this morning, I walked away feeling as though through this whole journey, the church has been standing behind us, cheering us on.  What amazing gift God has given us in community.  
  • Good friends who are always there - whether that's for Friday night dessert, house shopping, talking me down off the ceiling when I'm freaking out...you name it, they're there.
2 years ago, I would have never dreamed this is where I'd be - that this was God's plan for my life.  I'm still stunned.  But it just all ties back to Joseph - God meant it for good. And again in Romans - God is working for my good.  And again in Jeremiah - God has a plan.

Going back to my Reformed roots, I think the Heidelberg Catechism Lord's Day 1 sums it all up pretty good.....

Q.  What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A.  That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.  He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.  He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven:  in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.  Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

Wow, God......what a plan You have.  Thank You for letting me see a little glimpse of it.