Monday, July 30, 2012


We are walking near the water's edge, Justin and I, hearts joined in silent worship. The waves form gentle peaks, each one coming and breaking in perfect rhythm; the sun dazzles, reflecting uopn glistening water; and us, we pause, we look, we see His brilliance.


The beauty of what surrounds us points to Him in such vivid detail. We can’t deny His existence. All people have experienced these moments: a beauty that the most gifted writer could never describe; a beauty that the most talented artist could never capture; a beauty that can only be experienced when His hand of providence brings you to an actual moment in time.

To believe that He created all this to glorify Himself is easy to understand. To believe that He created all this for us to enjoy? That seems too much, too good.

We stand looking out, overwhelmed at His goodness, feeling as though, for this one moment, the beauty we’re enjoying could only be described as… perfect.

As Justin and I stood there, a white seagull walked across the sand in front of us. This seagull had a broken wing, and as it walked, it dragged this broken wing beside it in the sand. The peace was totally shattered as we watched this poor, broken creature. It almost hurt to watch.

The beauty we know in this life will always be a broken one; the creation we enjoy always groaning under the weight of sin.

That bird should have been soaring, adding one more fine detail to the perfect scene.

But perfect this world is not; it is groaning, and we a part of it. We need redemption. We need a Redeemer.

God has given us eyes to see that which is beautiful. But God has also given us eyes to see that our world is terribly broken, that we need Someone to fix it, that we need Christ to redeem us.

In this life, He gives us overwhelming beauty and joy. But in His grace, it’s a beauty and joy that is never perfect, but instead always shadowed, somehow, by the affects of sin. 

Near the end of the bible, we read an amazing description of the time when Jesus will return, take what is broken, and make all things new.

"Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!
 ~ Revelation 21

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Earlier this afternoon Justin and I sat on our front steps waving goodbye to our dear friend, Francine Chiasson, who tomorrow begins a new chapter of life in Nova Scotia, caring for her aging Mother.

I was so thankful for some time today to share a meal, to pray together, to affirm, once again, all the ways that God has profoundly used her in our lives.

Justin and I are going to miss her deeply, but I have a feeling that the three little people in the picture below might just miss her the most.


Two weeks ago, the West Toronto crew threw her a big party. Among much that was written and spoken that night, I wrote these words on behalf of our church family.

Dear Francine,

You have touched and blessed so many lives. As you look around this room tonight, you see the faces of people who love you deeply, whose lives are better because you’ve been a part of them. In you, Francine, we have seen such grace and kindness, such compassion and joy. In you, we have seen a Christ-like love that has prompted us to desire to know better the One whom you love and serve.

Tonight, we give thanks for your life: for the two decades that you have served The Junction community, for the eighteen years that you have served the Family of Faith at West Toronto Baptist Church.

For so many here, your life and love for us has been a wonderful part of our own story. Tonight we join our voices together in affirmation and thanksgiving: thank you, Francine, for loving us; thank you for praying for us; thank you for serving us. Most of all, though, thank you for pointing us to Christ Himself as you joyfully and faithfully have served your Saviour.


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
His mercies never come to an end.
~ Lamentations 3:22-23

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Earlier this week we drove down to Ontario's beautiful 'West Coast' where we met up with our good friends, The Clarys, spending a day and two nights camping at The Pinery Provincial Park.

We left our beloved but super smoggy Toronto in the afternoon, and while the kids mostly slept during the drive, Justin and I found ourselves delighting in the countryside.

The farmland of Southwestern Ontario is uniquely lovely: gently rolling hills, fields of waving corn, golden wheat, perfectly rolled bales of hay. In some ways, the journey to a place is almost as important as the destination. That's an overstatement. Maybe it's more accurate to say that the beauty of the journey affects the ability to enjoy the destination.

This three-hour journey certainly had much to enjoy; more than once, I asked Justin to pull over so that I could take a picture. 

Grand Bend: a cute little beach town. 

Once you pass through the town, you arrive at The Pinery. Both times that we've camped here, we've arrived in the late afternoon, and have headed straight to the beach for a quick swim before we set up camp.

It's a beautiful time of day to be at a 'west coast' beach; the sun has begun it's descent and shines brilliantly on the water.


Over the course of this 36-hour camping excursion, we spent most of our time on the beach. The three boys (Jake, Josh and their buddy Jack) swam and played and had a blast.


Sand and sun and sunscreen is not without it's possible perils, though. Over the course of the day, I heard both of the following statements forcefully uttered to the (old-enough-to-know-better) child in question:

"Do NOT eat sand. That is disgusting."

or, as one child was bringing a handful of white, foamy children's sunscreen to his mouth:

"That is NOT whipped cream. Do not eat that!"

Back at the camp sight, we did all the campy stuff: bonfires, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, breakfast and dinner cooked over an open flame, heated late-night bonfire discussions about politics... lots of fun.

A week before this trip, I had warned Vicky that I hated camping. Her face lit up with relief as she said "Me too!"

But somehow, I think for both of us, this little trip managed to shift our hatred into something rather close to enjoyment. 

(Future reference for good adjoining sites: 1130, 1138, 1131, 1139)

Growing up, no matter where our vacation took us, my Mom always insisted that we find the sunset. All these years later, I have so many wonderful family memories that involve sunrises and sunsets. (I wonder if my little sister, Natanyah, remembers the time when, much to the dismay of my parents, instead of watching the sunrise, she tiptoed back into the car, dug out her Hardy Boys novel, and sat in the  backseat reading.)

The Galotti Family is continuing this sunset tradition. (At present, the sunrise one is just a tad...early.)

Both nights of camping, we all headed down to the beach around sunset to enjoy the mystery and wonder of the close of the day.

If I had to pick a favorite part of this short trip, it would be these few twilight minutes spent sitting on the sand.

"From the rising of the sun, To the going down of the same. The LORD's name is to be praised."


The first night, even after the sun dipped, it was delightfully warm and the three boys and the two men went for a nighttime swim.

The second night, it was a little colder so we sat together on the sand, singing words of praise to our Creator.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


The kids and I love Costco, and I’m always secretly happy when I notice our stack of Kirkland-wet-wipes dwindling because this means it’s time for a Costco run. (Um, I’m aware of how incredibly lame the previous sentence makes me sound, but for the sake of authenticity, I’ll resist the urge to delete.) I guess it’s just that Costco is always such a bustling, cheerful place.

Invariably, the kids and I have a fun time when we’re there. Except for this one time…

As we’re pulling into the parking lot, I jokingly (JOKINGLY!) said to the boys that if we found enough yummy free samples, I wouldn’t have to make them lunch when we got home. Much to my horror, Jake felt the need to repeat this statement to the Ravioli Sample Lady in front of a whole bunch of people.

There we are, at the front of the always-eager sampling crowd, and Jake, after taking one sample, reaches for an additional one for Josh, explaining to the woman with a casual shrug of his shoulders that he needs to get one for his brother too, because “my Mom says this is our lunch.”

I cringe. Then I laugh awkwardly as I realize that my explanation to Ravioli Sample Lady (along with the rest of the listening crowd) of “it was only a joke” merely confirms that this poor, deprived child was indeed repeating something he had heard his mother say.

For me, this would have been enough Costco drama for one visit, but our departure brought more.

We’re in the exit line, the place where the Exit Employee verifies that the items on the receipt correspond to the items in the shopping cart. One time, months ago now, a receipt-verifying employee drew a happy face on the back of the receipt for the boys. Ever since, Jake and Joshua argue over who gets to hold the receipt on the way out and they always politely asks the employee to draw them a happy face. (The system we’ve developed is this: one of the boys gets to enjoy the thrill of holding and ‘showing’ the membership card on the way into the store, and the other one gets to hold and show the receipt on the way out. Equal fun for everyone.)

So here we are, in a long line at the exit, and Jake pleasantly asks the lady if she would draw him a happy face. She says that she’d be delighted to do so, flips over the receipt, and starts drawing. We’re accustomed to a quick circle, two dots for eyes with a line underneath, and, voila, a happy face. Unfortunately, this sweet lady decided to attempt something much fancier.

I watch Jake’s apprehensive expression as the marker flies back and forth over the receipt and she draws more and more squiqqles and dots and lines. She finishes her artwork and hands it back to Jake with a proud smile. He looks at it, and I can tell he is utterly disappointed. This is, of course, all happening in mere moments. I watch as Jake's eyes lift back up from this crazy/fancy happy face to the ‘artist’, and he simply says “this does NOT look like a happy face.” I’m quick to intervene (though clearly should have been quicker): “Jake, that is really unkind. She drew you a lovely face and you should be thankful.” He shows me the receipt. “But Mom, look at it. It’s NOT a happy face. It doesn’t look like anything at all!!” And he is right. It is a crazy drawing of something… indecipherable. But that isn't the point. My voice lowers. “Jacob. Say thank you. Right. Now.” Jake, practically on the verge of tears at this point, musters up an extremely subdued ‘thank you.’ I offer an apology and my own subdued words of thanks, and we hurriedly move out.

Costco: a place to learn life lessons on gratitude amid disappointment, and on never repeating your mother’s jokes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Joined by our dear friend Rebecca, the kids and I spent a morning at one of the many incredible Toronto parks.

Dufferin Grove Park has a fantastic wading pool, a large play structure, and the highlight for little boys, a field with running water where they can dig, build, and just generally get dirty.


 The three Tinies and I have just arrived home, and as we’re making our way into the house, Josh and Jake pause to pluck a couple gooseberries from our neighbour’s front garden. (They’ve been given permission to help themselves as often as they wish.) “C’mon, you two! In we go right away! Time for naps.” I hear my words, and they’ve been spoken more from habit than from need. It will not affect them, me, or the schedule of our day for them to linger at the neighbour’s garden gate in search of another ripe gooseberry or two. My instruction to "hurry up" has visibly altered this moment, my words making their choice clear: obey Mom and keep walking, or pause a moment longer and enjoy another delicious gooseberry. I watch as two little boys momentarily struggle with the decision, ultimately listen to my directive, and continue into the house. I’m thankful for their decision to obey (in large part because it certainly isn’t always the response), but I’m disappointed with my own decision, the one to hurry them along. What’s the rush? Was I rushing to start naptime two minutes earlier? Was I rushing to get started on my various tasks two minutes earlier?

I’m reminded of the time when Joshua and I had returned home from the grocery store and were walking up the stairs, he in front, and me following behind with a couple light bags. For some reason (that only a toddler would likely understand) he decided he wanted to lie down on each step before standing back up and moving on to the next step. There are fifteen steps. And when I say he wanted to lie down, I literally mean that he was fully prostrating his body on every single step before continuing to the next. Though I instinctively found myself wanting to hurry him along, I restrainted the impulse and briefly reflected on why I felt this need to rush. The grocery bags were light. There was plenty of time before dinner. Jake and Ella were both content and safe. The only reason we were about to rush through this idiotic, but strangely fun, stair-climbing exercise was because I was in the habit of rushing.

So instead hurrying him along or telling to him get up and walk normally and “for goodness sake stop acting like a two-year-old!!!”, I delighted in the simple silliness that was unfolding before me. We started laughing together, Josh and I. He asked me if I wanted to do it with him. I told him no thanks. We had such fun together in that minute of ridiculousness.

Most of life is lived on a schedule, either our own or someone else’s. For the most part, this is a good thing. A daily rhythm is helpful and healthy; patterns and the expectation of ‘what comes next’ contribute to the peacefulness of a home. But if my aversion to intentionally slowing down is that I’m concerned about my kids learning about punctuality, or acquiring the art of how to rush and move quickly, maybe I just need to remember that most of life requires this. In the moments that do not, the gooseberry moments or the stair-prostrating moments, I want to remember to slow down, to enjoy my little people, to make memories, and to ask myself ‘what’s the rush?’ The answer just might be… nothing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012


It's the early hours of the morning and I lie in bed awake, unable to find peace or sleep, listening to the soft sounds of my sleeping family. Bedroom doors are open and my little ones are but a few feet away, audible, peaceful, sleeping. I get up to look at my three, and they are as I knew they would be: safe, protected, beautiful; little chests rising and falling in gentle rhythm.

Coming back into our room, I walk to the window and look up and down the street. Who am I watching out for? Why is my heart afraid? As I’m looking, something unusual happens and the street lights all go out in the same instant. There is darkness. I can no longer see the familiar and safe front porches of our friends and neighbours. I’m surrounded by people and yet in the blackness of this city night, I feel alone and afraid.

My mind returns to a moment earlier today as the kids and I were leaving the house. Ella was in my arms and Jake was walking ahead as we made our way down the porch steps and around the side walkway to the parking spot behind our home. Joshua, who had paused to look at the coiled water hose on the side of the house, found himself a few steps behind us. As two-year-olds often do, he called out: “Wait for me, Mom. Don’t leave me!” I was right there. In his sight. Only steps away. More than this, I’ve never once left him behind. I said to him what I often say to my tiny people in their moments of childlike alarm: “Has Mommy ever forgotten you, Joshua? I will never leave you behind.”

I’m still standing at my window, fearful, looking out at the dark night and I realize that I am Joshua: afraid, but with no reason to fear.

I pray.

Father, You have done such good for me every day of my life. Your love for me has been perfect and unfailing in every way. Your care has known no bounds; your goodness and grace no end. Even in these past days, I have felt you gather my family, my church, in the shadow of Your wings, caring for us, preserving us, loving us. And still I doubt you. Still I call out in fear again and again: “God, don’t leave me.”

His answer, in love, again and again:

Neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:39

His answer to me so very much like my words to Joshua:

Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. ~ Hebrews 13:5

I flip through the pages of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening until I find the words I read just yesterday:

"Seeing that we have such a God to trust, let us rest upon Him with all our weight; let us resolutely drive out all unbelief and endeavor to get rid of doubts and fears, which spoil our comfort, since there is no excuse for fear when God is the foundation of our trust. A loving parent would be sorely grieved if his child could not trust him; and how ungenerous, how unkind is our conduct when we put so little confidence in our heavenly Father, who has never failed us and who never will."

Thursday, July 5, 2012


What better way to spend a hot and humid day than with good friends, keeping cool in some water. We hit up the Toronto Zoo's Splash Pad which is, for kids, a dream-come-true. For kids.

For two mothers of three kids each... the enjoyment was in watching their enthused faces. I think Stacey and I both spent much of this splash pad experience suppressing feelings of unease (panic!) that surfaced each time a kid (usually Josh) went off in a different direction.

The kids had a blast. There were various huge slides.

Animals spraying water. 

Bridges to carefully cross.

Baby sisters to hug.

Slides to get stuck in.

After the zoo, we hit up the beach.

Before my little ones and I left, we were told by two wonderful little Freeman girls that we really should move to Pickering so that we could play with them all the time.

Thanks for an awesome day, guys!