This part of my world [writing] has been kept more to the pages of my journal lately. I haven’t wanted to openly/publicly express anything mainly because by talking about it … it solidifies even more the reality that we are living, and that is hard for me right now.
As some of you may or may not have known, I was pregnant with our fourth baby due to join us in July of this year. Even though it was a rough start, I was just starting to feel well as we entered into the new year. Spring, summer, fall … quite literally, life plans were made around this wee one arriving. I was passed the ‘early’ stages of pregnancy and was feeling pretty excited that I was already one-third of the way through pregnancy and in 6 months, would be meeting him/her. Mini conversations around Christmas were had with this baby growing inside me about how he/she would be with me next year, already 5 months old! To say we were overjoyed was an understatement.
Then, a few weeks ago happened.
January 22, 2017, my sweet baby boy, Elkan Matthew entered this world. I was around 15+ weeks pregnant but the doctors figured he had passed away around 13+ weeks. The crushing moments of finding out our baby had no heartbeat and then having to endure labor were only the first hits of pain. As we held our teeny tiny, perfect little boy in our hands, pangs of sadness/awestruck/disappointment/hurt/love/bewilderment and so much more brewed inside me. So many questions, so many feelings, so much hurt. The plans we had for him (though we didn’t know “he” was another boy!), the dreams we dreamed of him and the life we wanted for him were and are … gone. And yet, only because of God’s forever grace, we feel a hope and a reassurance – the reassurance that God is holding our baby. And even though my arms ache for him, we have a hope in our faith, knowing that one day we will be with Elkan in heaven.
We chose the name Elkan Matthew, like our other boys, not only for the sounds of the names but for the meanings and significances the names carry. In the past, we haven’t decided on a girl/boy name up until a month before the due date, but early in this pregnancy, we knew the name ‘Elkan’ would be part of this baby’s life – girl or boy. We knew God was doing a miracle creating this baby and we really felt that He would use this little life to bring creativity to others and would highlight His creation through our child’s life.
ELKAN: [pronounced: El-Kan] God creates; created by God/belonging to God
MATTHEW: gift from God
Our wonderful gift from God, though his life here with us what not nearly as long as we wanted it to be, was truly just that – a gift. And I believe that, though in some ways he will become like our family’s special secret, his life will always be present to us with his purpose and revelation … right down to the meaning of his name.
Previous to knowing Elkan would be born, we had planned a mini getaway to Palm Desert, CA for a week which ended up being days after he was born. During that week of renewal and rest, we were ignited again with some passions and ways that we want to be more creative in our lives. Our hearts have again become stirred to really live for what we feel our purposes are and we also have a sparked striving to live out our dreams and to not just think them. Amidst that time away, it’s become more apparent that Elkan’s gift of life to us, was and is a reminder for us to live our lives more creatively, enjoying all that God has created for our moments and breaths of life to hold … all with the understanding and the believing of His awesome promise that we belong to Him.
There are things in this life that I will never understand, especially why Elkan is not here with us today. But again and again I will hold onto hope. Hope for today. Hope for our eternal future. Hope for the redeeming of things that are incomprehensible in this life. Hope that the purposes I have been created for will be accomplished, be an inspiration, and seen through. Hope that God is carrying me through every happy/hard moment I live. The hope that you, the reader, would see and be reminded from Elkan’s life that there is a creative process in your life that God wants to be part of.
And for the hope … that day I get to see my baby boy again in heaven ❤️
“But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So he gave us new life because of what Christ has done. He gave us life even when we were dead in sin. God’s grace has saved you. God raised us up with Christ. He has seated us with him in his heavenly kingdom. That’s because we belong to Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-6
Memories squeezed in small pictures. Moments captured on film. Time captured in our head space to reminisce. There’s something so wonderful about embarking on a new year with fresh vision and eager anticipation for the journey ahead. But for the nostalgic girl over here, there’s also a string attaching me to what will one day be distant memories that is hard for me to cut off. Thankfully, 1. seasons go and come again and 2. we have some many vices of recording special/favorite moments in our lives.
Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods or circumstance. – C.S. Lewis
Instead of trying to change everything as I roll into the fresh new year, I want to take steady movements to improving and furthering the bounds I took in 2016. Like C.S. Lewis mentioned, as faith as my foundation, “holding on to things” regardless of the constant change around me, this next year can be more of an embellishment of that which is already rooted in me. Of course, there will always be things to weed out, but of the good things rooted this past year (and previously) … I want to nurture and grow.
For the past few years, we’ve come up with a word/theme to come back to during the year. Call it a vision cast or an ideal we’d like to get better at. This year, when I asked Matt what he thought our “word” should be, he came up with STEWARDSHIP.
stewardship [noun]: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care
Initially, I wanted to ask him the next word that came to mind as it didn’t sound quite as exciting as I wanted(!), but I bit my tongue and said, “Let me mull on it.” And the more I chewed on it, the fullness of stewardship and all the areas of our life it applies to, the more it seemed to be the best word for our upcoming year. From the way we manage our time (with our family, business, friends), to the way we take care of our resources (acreage, home, vehicles, etc.), to those very things I mentioned earlier (taking the previous years’ lessons with me) that have been ‘entrusted in our care’ … we can always do better and grow, grow, grow! So, here’s to stewarding more AND better this year <clinks glass>!!
Hope you had a wonderful time of rest over the holidays, the happiest of new years to you and yours and I hope to be connecting with you more over here in 2017! Now … for the (condensed version) highlights of my 2016:
I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. Israel went down for a nap, and the older two got (extremely) bundled up to go out in the frigid temperatures. The house got quiet. It was that I’m-so-excited-I-could scream (but not) kind of quiet.
Coffee. The first thing to come to mind this Monday morning. The first Monday in a while that we are 1. not sick and 2. have nothing, absolutely nothing on the agenda today. After I thought of my novel “enjoy a cup of coffee in peace plan”, I got thinking maybe I should tackle the list of to-dos instead. Nah, those can wait. Since moving, my continual to-do list is just that … continual. I’ve only painted the living and kitchen, and there a ton more rooms to tackle. Boxes are still in every room. Hidden maybe, but not from my memory. It doesn’t help that I keep dreaming of new projects on top of the things that need to be done, but that’s just the way it goes, right?!
But regardless of the lists, I sit still and sip my coffee.
Being quiet … how often do I really do this? I should clarify that question, how often am I quiet and doing nothing with my hands? When does this happen? In this season of life, almost never. It’s probably why it feels so foreign as I stare out the window and see the boys play and the world is moving slowly around them. Gentle wind. Flying birds. Sparkles glimmering in the snow. Even though they are bustling around, the elements around them are peaceful. Despite the fact that they are boys and always moving and exuding energy, they are surrounded by pockets of peace.
It’s easy to use the excuse of this ‘busy season of life’ to sometimes not sit and drink in the actual quiet. The actual blessings we are encompassed in. I can tend to look at what they are doing, at the moment, and not consider the complete surroundings – like focusing on what is frustrating as opposed to acknowledging the good that envelops our everyday. I’ve always seen myself as positive and viewing life from a glass half full, but if I don’t let even the smallest of frustrations or (quite literally) noises be drown out with JOY of the peace around us … I will miss out.
Like this season of bustle, busyness, and merry-making, if we don’t stop to see the peaceful snowflakes of life falling around us, we may just miss out on the joy engulfing us. The JOY of the Saviour coming to this world, so many years ago, to give us hope. Take a minute, step back and pinpoint the peace around you. I can almost guarantee you it’s there.
“…then justice will dwell in the wilderness,
and righteousness remain in the fruitful field.
The work of righteousness will be peace,
And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation,
In secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places…” – Isaiah 32:16-18
pic pix: a family shoot done by one of our favorites, Sherah, Dec.2016, at home
Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October [November] eves. – Humbert Wolfe
Seasons. Oh, how I love the change in them. Spring brings a freshness, a revitalizing to the earth we walk on, a clarity to the soul, and a promise that warmer days are coming. Winter shows off crystallizing beauty, regals itself by forcing you to slow down to notice it, and brings out the warmth of layers and people’s hearts – especially around Christmas. Summer is defined by some of the best food cook outs, the infinite sunlight that allows for the sweetest of gatherings and memories, and a big loud shout of FUN! And Autumn, my beloved Autumn, you always outdo yourself with the way the sun almost gets to it’s brother winter’s lateral state (up here in Alberta, at least) and it is hot by 2 in the afternoon, yet the milder evening temperatures make for perfect fire gatherings. The quizzical reality of it being ‘the start of the year’ (even though I haven’t been in school for years!) and the way that reality inspires a full throttled jump into projects and new/old things to get back into the groove of … Sigh, it’s probably just the perfect season.
Side note: I know not everyone will agree with me, but I actually love when we no longer are on daylight savings time. The sun sets earlier, but the mornings are that much more glorious – and enjoyable. It’s really the “springing” ahead that throws me off. For me, “falling” back is definitely another plus to this autumn season.
At one point in my life, I was convinced that I wouldn’t live here in Canada. But rather, I would live somewhere where it was hot year round and maybe I’d take up surfing and open or work a coffee shop and paint and write in my spare time. It was during this time when I would loftily dream of these things that I DID travel and see many different cultures. And as much as I loved going to different places (and would still like to continue to make my way through different countries and some repeats) it became very evident to me that I knew so little of my own backyard. These other countries inspired me to learn more of my own, like in Australia, almost everyone I’d come in contact with knew their flora and fauna like it was their ABCs … in Ecuador, the locals wouldn’t just let you eat anywhere, you had to
go to the place where that food was originated/served the best … in Switzerland, not only was everyone bilingual (if not trilingual) but they also knew their town/cities’ in and out and could get you to places impossible for foreigners following a map … etc, etc. If anything, I realized how much I wanted to know Canada, especially my province of Alberta. I also realized (after travelling and missing almost an entire winter) how much I loved the change that each season brought – the highlights that come with each part of the year.
He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time … Ecclesiates 3:11
I am just thankful that Autumn was on God’s list of things to keep. It seriously comes at the perfect time every year.
pic pix: the other morning (all photos unedited), 09.Nov.2016, at home
So long, one of my favorite months. October, you were splendid this year … showing off with your beautiful colors and wonderful weather. Not a month goes by that I don’t learn something, and here are few of the ways I ‘gained’ this month.
1. It’s something I’ve read for years but just started to actually implement it this months. Coconut oil in my coffee – read the benefits (hoping they are legit) – the newest thing. Along with the coconut oil + coffee, I’ve learnt another coffee lovers trick, the dirty chai lattes *eyes roll back* so so good.
2. Got my glasses this month. Totally realizing how little of details I have been taking in from afar. Hello, world, in it’s clarified glory!
3. We could eat around 6 apples a day if they were here to eat. That adds up to an approximate 42 apples a week. Have you ever picked 42 apples at the grocery store?! If you’re an apple eater, how many apples do you get for your household per person?
4. Something I never knew … mushrooms grow all throughout the year but are most plentiful in fall. I’m not at all comfortable picking and eating them wild, my knowledge is just not there, but we have had fun looking for them wherever we’ve ventured out this month.
5. I need to make my massages happen on a monthly basis. Have to. It had been too long since I had a massage. Like a whole year too long.
6. Hosting/partially preparing (Canadian) Thanksgiving Dinner for a guest list of 60 looks more and more interesting as the years go by/the children are getting older. Instead of a 2 day affair, like 10 years ago, it now takes the whole week to prep.
7. Should be a given, but I can’t always think the icing on a cake will look exactly like the pinterest picture. Oh, and you should make it prior to having your guests over so you don’t run into having to make cups upon cups of icing for it to be thick enough. Aka 1/2 way pinterest fail. Pinterest | Mine (with my sister’s help!)
8. Magical Misty Mornings are up there in my top favorite things. This month brought so much fog and it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
9. I quite look forward to the tid-bits of current news my husband shares with me each day. I’ve never thought of myself as a ‘facts’ person, but those small quips spark conversation and thinking – good to keep me alert!
10. I’m seeing it more and more, that time truly is a thief. It’s just starting to settle in … my baby is actually 1 year old.
pic pix: on a foggy drive, Oct.2016, 22x