Monday, July 22, 2013


Today the world welcomed a new little prince. Moments before the long-awaited announcement, I was in the kitchen cooking and I’d tuned the radio dial to a local news station. When I first heard the announcement, I was surprised that my eyes immediately filled with tears. There’s something sweetly sentimental, and even hopeful,  about hearing a dignified British voice declare the birth of a young prince.

Dignitaries around the world are sending their congratulations to the Royal Family, and our own Prime Minister has sent warm words of salutation. Tonight, the CN Tower in Toronto is lit up all blue, because, ‘It’s a Boy!’

When Justin arrived home before dinner I caught him on his way inside and asked, “Have you listened to the news? Kate had her baby!” He stared at me blankly for a moment before saying, “Huh? What are you talking about?” And then our conversation went something like this:

Me: Kate Middleton! She had a baby boy! A little prince! Third in line to the throne!

Justin: (expressionless, and completely monotone) Well isn’t that exciting news.

So with the exception of my husband along with a few others who are clearly lacking in loyalty to the British monarchy, there is, overall, much fanfare and the world is excited to welcome and meet this young prince. It’s being reported that outside of Buckingham Palace, where the Royals have placed an official birth announcement, crowds are gathering around to celebrate the newborn future King of England. Reportedly, there are continual flashes of light as those in the crowd are trying to snap a picture of the announcement.

This young prince--this future king--is a celebrity before he’s even a single day old.

Tonight during dinner, the kids recited the words of a psalm they’ve been learning. “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” (Psalm 46:10)

The words of this psalm are about another King, and they are particularly striking when considering the difference in birth story.

Two thousand years ago, the Prince of Peace, the King of all nations was born. In many ways, there was little celebration, and only a small handful of people received the announcement about His birth. There was no official palace proclamation. There was no regal welcome. There was no Royal Family receiving congratulations from around the known world.

Certainly, there were some glorious, transcendent moments where light filled the sky and celestial beings declared His glory. But the initial birth announcement, the visible glory of God dwelling with His people, was revealed not to kings and dignitaries. The announcement was first made to lowly shepherds, out in their fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.

The prince of England is being welcomed by the world. This is lovely and good! It truly is sweet, light-hearted news and there is every reason to delight in his birth. But there’s something marvellously powerful in considering that the Prince of Peace was welcomed not by the world, not by the famous, not by the wealthy, not by the elite, not by the politicians of the day, but by a bunch of shepherds.

He could have come any way He wanted. In His coming, we see His character. The Prince of Peace, the Creator God, the Ancient of Days, the King of all Kings who will be honoured by every nation throughout the world--He wrapped Himself in flesh and came to us quietly, with all humility. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


The drive to Ontario's "west coast" and the Pinery Campground is a little longer than what it would take to get to some other, more local campground. Particularly when we're only going to be camping for a single night, three hours seems like a long drive.


Every single time, when Justin and I walk up over the dunes and catch first glimpse of the sparkling waves, one of us says to the other, "This. This is why we come."

Lake Huron is stunning. And the water is warm as bathwater.



Our first beach evening of the season was spent with dear friends.

Swimming and beaches and good friends--some of the simple but most wonderful blessings.

Ice cream! The only truly appropriate way for kids to conclude a summer evening.

Truly thankful for the love and friendship of the Freeman Family.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


As a parent, we’re given a front row seat for the various childhood phases that our children so quickly pass through. Particularly in their early years of toddlerhood, it seems that little people try out a new word, or a new way of interacting, and then just as quickly as this new word or mannerism becomes delightfully expected, the toddler discards it for something new.

Sweet moments and joyful memories that linger for a while, but then all too quickly fade as life continues on and new funny habits replace the old.

Ordinary moments that bring such joy.

At just over 1.5 years, our baby girl, Ella, is a tiny thing with big blue eyes, chubby cheeks, and soft, golden ringlets framing a beautiful little face. She’s an awesome person.

Funny and smart. Adorable and cuddly. Assertive and outspoken.

Yes, as the baby girl of two older brothers she is definitely assertive and makes her requests loudly known. When Ella is squawking in protest about some thing or another, I will say to her, “Ella, gentle and meek. Gentle and meek.” Invariably she’ll stop yelling or screeching, walk over to me with outstretched arm and, gazing up into my face, she'll gently and lovingly cradle my face with the palm of her hand.

My heart melts.

I love how self-assured and vocal she is, and hope that never changes! But I love, too, her sweet little demonstration of being “gentle and meek.”

For a tiny tot, Ella has a surprisingly low, alto voice. Recently, in response to questions that would typically produce an answer of either yes or no, Ella has started responding by saying, “Sure.” But it’s not just a childlike, babyish sounding “sure.” It’s this deep, measured, unbearably adorable “sure.”

“Ella, would you like a drink?”


“Ella Bella, should Mommy get you a snack?”


“Ella, shall we go get your brothers?”


I love it! And I know it will pass so quickly. Before I know it, she’ll discard this wonderful habit of saying “sure” and something new will come along. So for now, I suppose all I can do is enjoy my little toddler, and occasionally jot things down so I don’t forget all the delicious details.

Saturday, July 13, 2013



Costco tends to be a store where there is often drama of one kind or another. “Costco Drama” we call it. Yep, that’s right. It’s got its very own category. Thankfully Costco Drama is usually of the cheerful, funny sort.

After much lengthy and rigorous contemplation, I’ve come to realize that there are two specific Costco store policies that contribute to Costco Drama. 
1. Free Samples It’s inevitable that when three children insist upon tasting the spicy Squid Salad sample, at least one of the three children is going to follow their first bite with some wildly dramatic dry-heaving and tongue-scraping. One in three. Simple math. 
2. Happy Faces on Receipts I don’t know if it’s just our local west-end Costco that does this, but after you go through the line at the cashier, another employee stands at the door and verifies that the items in your cart match the items on your receipt. At the store we go to, these receipt verification employees always draw smiley-faces on the back for the kids. It’s such a simple thing, but our kids love it. For us, there have been highs and lows with this smiley-face policy, but in general, it’s one of the reasons that Costco is a fun store to visit.

On our most recent visit (which, incidentally, was the visit with the sample-tasting, dry-heaving-tongue-scraping-three-year-old), our Costco Drama reached new heights of ridiculousness.

All was relatively peaceful until we were standing in a long, slow-moving checkout line. In addition to the employee that scans your items, there’s also an employee who gets your stuff ‘ready’ for check out. It’s quite an elaborate system, really.

The girl who was helping people in the line was super sweet, really friendly, and kept talking to the kids. At one point she came to them and said, “Do you guys want me to draw you smiley faces while you’re waiting?” This was a brand new smiley-face offer, as we were only in the first line, the one before the register. Typically the smiley faces only come in the second line up, before the exit. (Are you following this? It’s quite complicated, I know.)

In response to the sweet employee girl’s offer, the boys smiled and expressed that they’d “totally love that!” She scooted behind the register, grabbed some paper and a marker, paused to let the young guy behind the cash (also super sweet and cute!) flirt with her for a second, and then came back to my boys.

After drawing and giving a happy-face to Ella and Jake, the girl went over to Josh. Unfortunately, she didn’t quite hear as Josh said to her, “Instead of a happy face, I’d like you to draw me a tiger with a lightning bolt through it.” (I wonder what was happening in his brain at that moment, that prompted him to ask for that specific thing.) I’m guessing that the sweet employee girl simply didn’t quite understand what he had said, or something, because she smiled at him and said, “Sure!” Then she proceeded to draw him a happy face and pass it over to him. He looked at it and was all like, “What? You just said you’d draw a tiger with a lightning bolt through it! You lied!” Jake, who had previously been down a similar road himself (I wrote about that one here), was the voice of wisdom and experience. “Josh, you get what you get. It is what it is. Just say thank you.”

Of course Josh didn’t listen to his older brother’s council, and instead of saying thank you to the sweet employee girl, he proceeded to stare her straight in the face, and, quite slowly and dramatically, tear the paper in half.

Sweet employee girl burst out laughing.

I was a tad horrified, but, as our items were now being rung through, I was distracted and figured I’d deal with Josh later. The girl, though, found it funny, and, still laughing, told the guy-cashier that she’d previously been flirting with about what had just happened. He paused from ringing our stuff through, and, clearly in what was an attempt to continue flirting with his cute co-worker, said to Josh, “That’s awesome, buddy! You really just tore up her picture? That’s hilarious!” Then he proceeded to high-five Josh. Twice, actually. Once on each hand. Smiling, I light-heartedly intercepted before there were more high fives or other celebrations of Josh’s rudeness. “Don’t encourage him! He totally shouldn’t have done that.”

Sweet employee girl said, “Well, the other two kids liked what I drew for them, so it’s all OK.” And right then, just as we all glanced towards Ella, looking all meek and gentle sitting in the cart holding her own smiley-face paper, Ella crumpled the paper in her two tiny little hands and proceeded to shove it into her mouth. It was surreal. She never eats paper. Never! Never before, never since. Why would… At this precise moment… Needless to say, the two employees were killing themselves laughing, and I was a combination of amused, and just kind of like, “What the heck is wrong with these children?”

This is becoming a rather long blog post, so I’ll cut it short and leave out the part where Josh “accidentally” took the cashier’s wireless scanning gun with us when we left, or where Josh lamented to the receipt-verification employee on the way out how, “The last girl said she would draw a tiger with a lightning bolt through it, but she lied to me. Can you draw one?”

Costco Drama. 

I wonder at what age it will end. But for now, I think I’ll just enjoy it as it comes.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Like many Canadian girls, the Anne of Green Gables books were a special part of my growing up years and my Mom spent many an evening reading the words of L.M Montgomery aloud to her four young daughters. When slightly older, I read the story of Anne Shirley—an orphan who finds a loving family and cozy home on Prince Edward Island— again and again.

Red roads, pastoral farm fields and white sand beaches are the setting for this sentimental story about friendship, adoption, and love. Anne’s story is a cherished part of Canadian literary history and, for myself along with countless others, a sweet part of our own personal history too.

Several years ago, new manuscripts written by L.M. Montgomery about Anne Shirley and other connected characters were found. In these new stories there was a much darker subtext, with themes of infidelity, depression, and death. Back in 2009 these new manuscripts were compiled into a book called The Blythes Are Quoted and, shortly after it came into print, my older sister (herself a writer, literature professor and lover of Canadian literature) bought and gave me a copy.

Because I knew what to expect, for several weeks that book sat on my nightstand and I refused to crack it open, indignant and even a bit angry that the author had the power to ruin a beloved story.

One might say, “It’s just fiction. Who cares?” But it was for precisely that reason—because it was fiction!—that it seemed senseless to destroy something pure. 

Eventually my initial arrogance ebbed, and I read the final book, realizing that the author had the right to conclude her story any way she wanted. L.M. Montgomery created the characters, the town, the green-gabled home, the whole story. Certainly, then, it was she, the creator and the writer, who was deserving of the final say.

The creator has the right to finish their creation any way they see fit. The Author can write whatever final chapter they want. After all, it’s their story to begin with.

In the story of life, of redemptive history, and even in the smaller story of each individual Christian, The Author has written every detail from before there was yet a day lived. Written, though with many chapters yet to be lived out by us, the characters. The main theme has always been redemption, but there have also been parallel and ongoing themes of darkness, sin and death. The pages continue to be turned, and we can know with certainty that as our own story unfolds, amid much grace, there will be more sorrow, more darkness.

But unlike the Green Gables series where the concluding chapters emerged many years later, the final chapter of the Christian life has already been written and recorded. We can literally turn the pages and read what happens at the very end.

The Author could have written any conclusion that He saw fit. For after all, He created the story and it is the author’s right to conclude their story any way they please.

So though we don’t know all the future details, we do know that the Author has written the last chapter. A new concluding manuscript will never be unearthed, for in the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh, and the Word gave His people life!

The Author of life, He could have concluded the story any way He wanted. The final chapter could have been sin and death. But for the Christian, the Author is our Father, and He gathers His children close, speaking to us the concluding words of the story He wrote:
“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!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.

Friday, July 5, 2013



We stepped inside and beauty stirred my heart. Worship seemed the only appropriate response. It was clear that an artist had spent months, even years, with tools that chiselled, adorned, and beautified. Each detail, lovingly and carefully carved. In that room, the light glimmered and shone, reflecting the beauty of His handiwork.

The room I'm speaking of was a school gymnasium.

This past Sunday my husband was guest preaching at a church in Toronto that meets in a school, and their corporate worship service is held in the gym. This gym is a large, light room that is clean and pleasant with large windows lining both sides. It is a simple room that would easily go unnoticed.

But inside that unadorned room was the most exquisite church: people of worship and prayer, people honest about sin, people pleading for God’s mercy, people proclaiming God’s glory, people fellowshipping in His grace. Breathtaking! Yes, I stepped into that church and my heart quickened from the beauty around me—the beauty of God’s holy people.

Later that same day, by pure (sovereign) coincidence, Justin and the kids and I took the subway downtown and found ourselves wandering into one of Toronto’s historic cathedrals. Though different, beauty was in that place too. The “sanctuary” was empty, and our footsteps, light as they were, seemed to disrupt a quiet awe. Magnificent was the handiwork of the artists: ornate woodwork, detailed stained glass, majestic vaulted ceilings. There was a sense of God’s glory in that place too, but not because it was a steepled building and not because we were in a “sanctuary” and not because of anything intrinsically holy in the space. Rather, the Creator’s glory was reflected by the creative work of artists and architects.

As we left, Justin and I reflected upon the clarity of the contrast. That morning we had gathered in a school gymnasium with other Christians and it had truly been a hallowed place, for we had been with God’s people, in God’s presence, hearing God’s word proclaimed. By contrast, that evening we’d been in a majestic cathedral that was nothing more than a building. A stunningly beautiful building, sure. It was even a building with a design and beauty that reflected the Creator. But it was just a building.

It is true, then, that a beautiful church makes a holy church but only in as much as the men and women of the church are clothed in the beautiful garments of Christ’s righteousness.

The church is not a gathering of holy stones but a gathering of holy people.

Vivid contrast has a way of sharpening the picture of even the clearest biblical truths. In the morning, a school gymnasium overflowing with the church. In the evening, a majestic cathedral, empty, long departed from the truth.

Justin and I continued walking and, as we looked at old buildings and considered the contrast of the day, we were reminded of a simple but precious truth: God is growing His kingdom through people, not through structures. Though a physical building is a blessing to any local church and it would be reason to rejoice if all the grand old steepled buildings of Toronto were filled with God’s people, it still wouldn’t make the building themselves any more sacred, nor would it make God’s kingdom any more powerful.

The cathedrals of the past are beautiful and, for the sake of art and history, ought to be preserved for generations to come. Inside their walls we feel a quiet reverence because the creative beauty of such places reflects the glory of the Creator God. But what grace that as new covenant Christians, the only sanctuary needed in order to worship is the sanctuary that God Himself creates in the hearts of His people.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Our Canada Day was spent at a kid's festival at High Park. Dressed in red and white, we met up with the Clarys for some afternoon patriotism and fun.



Happy Canada Day!