An Anniversary Trivia Game

Ben and I celebrated our 18th anniversary this weekend, so I was trying to come up with a creative idea for my annual anniversary blog post, but was feeling very dry. I asked Ben for help, which led to him coming up with many ideas that weren’t helpful at all.

While we were talking, Kaylia suddenly piped up with a suggestion: “Why don’t you use the trivia game from your scrapbook?”

She’s been into all of my scrapbooks recently, and found a trivia game my sister came up with for a bridal shower. She was delighted when I decided to use her suggestion. 🙂

So here it is, for anyone actually interested in such things:

1. Kendra and Ben will be getting married on:

a) August 19, 2000

b) September 9, 2000

c) October 8, 2000

d) June 20, 2000

2. Ben’s full name is

a) Ben Dueck

b) Benjamin Paul Dueck

c) Benjamin Scott Henry Dueck

d) Benjamin Patrick Ryan Dueck

3. Kendra and Ben first met at

a) Walmart

b) Red Rock Bible Camp

c) Abundant Springs Youth Retreat

d) Providence College

4. Besides her sisters, one of Kendra’s bridesmaids is

a) Marlene Dueck

b) Heather Domke

c) Alicia Friesen

d) Monica Lewinsky

5. Ben is currently employed with

a) College Pro Painters

b) Ben Moss Jewelers

c) Suzy Shier

d) The Brick

6. Kendra and Ben’s relationship started with

a) love at first sight

b) a casual friendship

c) Kendra relentlessly chasing Ben

d) Ben’s ad in the paper for bride

7. Ben is a graduate of

a) Briercrest Bible College

b) Province College

c) Dallas Theological Seminary

d) Steinbach Bible College

8. While at camp, which of the following skills did Kendra and Ben teach to campers?

a) archery

b) dating

c) bungee jumping

d) canoeing

9. After the wedding, Kendra and Ben will be residing in

a) Stonewall

b) St. Adolphe

c) Sewell

d) Selkirk

10. Kendra and Ben have been “officially going out” since

a) June, 1991

b) December, 1997

c) April, 1999

d) July, 2000

11. Kendra and Ben became engaged in

a) the chapel at Red Rock Bible Camp

b) Ben’s car

c) the Legislative Buildings

d) the waiting room at Victoria Hospital

12. Ben comes from a family of

a) six boys

b) three girls

c) two boys and two girls

d) he is an only child

13. The wedding colour is

a) navy

b) sage green

c) fushia

d) still undecided

Answers: b, d, b, c, a, b, d, d, b, c, b, c, a

*Kaylia has announced that she’s very disappointed with our engagement story, because it happened in Ben’s car, and she thought he would do something much more romantic. She seemed slightly appeased to hear that we were parked on a bridge, overlooking a river with a full moon reflecting on the water. Also, Ben was sure to point out that I ruined his actual plans by getting sick, and he had to carry the ring around for weeks until another opportunity arose.

Fortunately, it all worked out in the end, and here we are, 18 years later.

As we were driving out of town for a date on Saturday evening, Ben announced, “18 years of bliss! Who would have thought?!”

He tried to say afterwards that it was all a joke, but it seemed like a risky way to start our date. Fortunately for him, I’ve always enjoyed his sense of humour, and we enjoyed the rest of our evening, which included getting kicked out of the St. Norbert Arts grounds. Apparently we missed a sign that a private function was happening, and we were escorted off the property, which we still can’t understand, because we would have just left if we’d been asked, without the private escort. But whatever.

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9 Things I Learned This Summer

We’re starting school today, which basically means my girls roll out of bed and grab their new math books. So in the spirit of learning, I thought I’d make a list of what I learned this summer.

It was a really good summer, with just enough hard stuff thrown in to make me have to work at figuring some things out, which isn’t enjoyable in the moment, but satisfying to look back on later!

Here’s my list:

1) Story Pirates is the best entertainment ever.

Have you heard of this podcast? It is so much fun, and my youngest two love it. 🙂 Plus, it’s not annoying for me to have to listen too, if I’m in the same room, because it’s really actually funny. Another plus: it’s gotten Kaylia and Everett excited about writing stories themselves, which is great!

They’ve listened to it for hours this summer. We bought this cute little mp3 player for Everett’s room, and now everybody wants one!

2) Zucchini soup tastes best when I grew all the ingredients myself.

This was my first summer growing zucchini. I always thought I didn’t have enough room to grow it in my garden, but then a wise friend encouraged me to do it, and I’m so glad I did, because we got so much zucchini! I’ve made a few batches of soup, which is my favourite, although roasted zucchini is also fantastic. It’s very exciting to discover a huge one hidden under the leaves in the garden – it makes my kids shriek with delight. 🙂

It gave me this strange, new pride/living off the land/homesteader kind of feeling when I would use my own onions + parsley + zucchini to make soup!

3) Buy the parchment paper. Seriously.

Same wise friend asked if I ever used parchment paper from Costco, and I had to admit I was too cheap to buy it. She said it changed everything, so I put it on the shopping list, and she was right. WHAT HAVE I BEEN WAITING FOR??!! Vigorously scrubbing pans is a thing of the past, and now my life is easy.

4) It doesn’t have to be perfect in order to get started.

Our family spent a week at Red Rock Bible Camp a few weeks ago, and Ben and I led seven chapel sessions. I had no idea how much work it would be to prepare that many sessions! It took a big chunk of my summer to prepare for it, and I became very aware of something: I wanted to be perfectly prepared before we left for camp. I didn’t want prep hanging over me while we were out there, I wanted everything to be finished and ready to go.

But at one point during the summer, I listened to a Personality Hacker podcast about starting and finishing projects, and what holds different personality types back from accomplishing things. Guess what my hold up is?! Not wanting to get going on something until everything is perfectly planned and ready!!! Big surprise. But the problem with this is that once you get rolling with something, a different kind of energy takes over, and projects can take different directions that can actually be exciting and unexpectedly good. Needing to have everything perfectly in place before starting means missing out on all that great energy and unforseen awesomeness.

So I kept this in mind. I chose to purposely leave things unfinished until we were actually doing our sessions, so that I could respond to the emotions of the experience. And it worked, and it was great, and now I can look back on that experience and know that sometimes you just have to get moving before things can fall into place.

5) Biographies are amazing, gentle teachers.

I’ve been reading Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place this summer, and it’s so, so good. If you haven’t read that book, you really need to. I had a huge lump in my throat as I read sometimes, because it’s the most beautiful story about faith and forgiveness and courage.

As Anika gets older, I’m trying to become more aware of avoiding lecturing, but I want her to continue to grow in character. A friend told me about how they read biographies to their girls every night, and I love this idea. Ben and I read to our kids every night, taking turns with who reads to who, and we’ve read a ton of great fiction to them, but this idea of reading biographies is a winner.

It’s such a beautiful way to take in amazing stories together, and hear from someone else about God’s faithfulness and provision. I’ve been a fan of sharing our stories for a long time, because the power of testimony is real, so biographies make sense. The teaching happens in the most natural, gentle way, and it’s so enjoyable.

Next up is The Heavenly Man (the story of Brother Yun and persecution in China), or maybe No Compromise (the story of singer/song writer Keith Green who was killed in a plane crash). It’s hard to choose when there are so many inspiring stories to read!

6) Life is easier if I can be okay with sitting in the discomfort.

I hit my head really, really hard at the beginning of August and got a concussion. I’ve been dizzy ever since, although it is slowly improving, and it’s been crazy annoying. I am not good at dealing with stuff like this. I want it to go away NOW, and I get pretty obsessive about finding a way to avoid the discomfort.

But doing a little research made two things clear: 1) It could take a couple of months for this to go away, and 2) It could be much, much worse. My symptoms were pretty minor, compared to what some people experience, and I realized that my consuming need for comfort was actually adding to my discomfort. I felt a total inability to just accept what had happened, and slow down to accommodate the inconvenience of it all.

I know that it will go away, so in the meantime, I’ve been praying that God will grow my ability to remain in the tension, and just trust that He will provide for me. I’m learning to have peace in the midst of the discomfort, instead of frantically searching for a way out.

7) Make a standard packing list.

This is one of those things that I knew I should do, but just didn’t get around to doing for the longest time. We go to the lake a few times during the spring and summer, and every single time, I was making a new packing list, or just going off the top of my head. It made packing SO HARD!! If Ben or the kids were trying to help me, I’d have to tell everyone what to do, as well as keep track of what I was doing myself. It was the worst.

And I didn’t even have a good reason for not making a master list – just something lame like our printer ran out of ink. But one day I’d had enough and I just wrote it out by hand, which is totally good enough, and suddenly packing was about 10 times easier.

So now I’m on the lookout for anything in my life that I can do the work once and reap the benefits forever after. I’m very open to suggestions!!

8) Let them display all the strong emotions.

Janet Lansbury has my heart when it comes to parenting advice. I love, love, love her podcast, and desperately want to read one of her books. Myviews on parenting are changing because of her stuff. It’s just so good. Very gentle and respectful, and I’ve seen such great responses from our kids when I use her approach to things.

My recent favourite is to become more accepting of all the big tantrums/freakouts/explosive bad attitudes. Obviously, I don’t enjoy it when my children are like that, but there seems to be this idea that well behaved children shouldn’t react that way. But Janet Lansbury comes at it with the approach that it’s better out than in, and as a parent, we have the opportunity to provide a safe place for all the big emotions to come out. Often, all my kids need is a listening ear, and some understanding that life can be hard, and then they’re on their way again.

I do try to promote the idea of “right time and place” – we go to their room to get away from everyone else, and get it all out in there, but I don’t send them off by themselves anymore for a time out. It never really helped anything, but this new strategy seems much more effective. It gives me a chance to help them work through stuff, lets them know they’re not alone and that big emotions are normal and okay. We all have things we need to get out of our system, and there’s no shame in that.

There is still part of me that wants perfectly behaved children, 100% of the time, but I am not actually perfectly behaved myself 100% of the time, so I’d rather leave room for the big emotions that are there anyway, and focus on what we do with them, rather than trying to teach my kids to bottle them up and hide them.

9) Ditch the shoes as often as possible.

With decks and patios and shoes, I realized this summer that it’s completely possible to avoid actually touching the ground, ever. But it’s so healthy to go barefoot and touch the ground as much as possible (look up the benefits of earthing or grounding, if you haven’t heard of it before!!), so this summer, I went barefoot as often as I could.

It was amazing how much I grew to love the feeling of grass on my feet, and every time I’d go outside to check my garden, or to do yoga in the evening, it felt so relaxing to be barefoot.

I’d love to hear what you learned this summer!

Coming Home

Moving is super hard, and I would happily stay exactly where we are for the rest of my life, but I have to admit, there are wonderful advantages to having two homes. When you go to visit, you feel like you’re going “home”. And then after the visit is over, you go back home, and it’s like going home all over again.

We spent one beautiful week of the summer pretending to live at camp again, and it was quite wonderful. It took a bit to get into our groove – our kids weren’t quite sure what to do with themselves, and Ben and I needed to spend a fair amount of time preparing to speak in chapel each night. But we settled into a routine, and had such a great time.

We were asked a number of times of it was hard to be back, and in some ways it was, a little bit. It’s been six years, and things have changed, and of course we miss the way it used to be. 🙂 But for the most part, we were just super thankful for the opportunity to be there, and to be able to experience camp together as a family.

And now that we’re it feels like time is moving full steam ahead towards fall, and I’m trying to wrap my head around this! Kaylia made a list this morning of 40 things she wanted to get done TODAY, but I suggested making it a weeklong list. She seemed good with this, so we will dig in!

How are you getting ready for fall?!

Weekend Favourites

The forecast was for the hottest weekend of the summer, and we had visions of dehydration and heat stroke, but we headed out to the lake anyway. Mostly because I told Ben I just needed to get away. I rarely feel that way – most of the time, I could stay home every day of the week and be perfectly happy, but for some reason, I was itching for a change this time.

So we went, and the weather was much more comfortable than forecasted, thank goodness!! It reminded me all over again that we really never know how something will go until we actually try it and see.

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Quiet Ones Can Change the World

Today I’m loving this quote:

God’s goal is that we come alive in his presence, and then we bring life to every environment we enter. (John Mark Comer)

At first I felt all inspired by those words, but then it quickly faded – I suddenly felt very unsure about how well I am able to “bring life”. The doubts and insecurities started whispering to me, telling me the same lies about how I’m too introverted to bring much energy, life, or change to a space. Maybe God needs to use somebody else – someone more outgoing and full of energy. That kind of person would be much better at bringing life to every environment….

But here’s the truth I’ve been hanging onto recently: I have a hidden superpower.

The power I’m focusing on a lot right now is the introverted me, the Kendra in my head. I’ve spent most of my life feeling a little bit invisible, but the more I dig into personality stuff, the more freedom I find.

Because here’s the deal: All of us have a way of connecting with the outside world, and a way of connecting with ourselves, inside our heads. Extroverts are in the world first, and in their head second. Because I’m an introvert, I spend more time in my head, but I still have a way to connect with what’s going on around me. We all have both inside and outside abilities, but we prefer one over the other.

So when an extrovert shows up, they are all there. They are ready to engage with people or situations, ready for action, ready with their awesomeness. Their gifts and abilities show immediately, loud and strong, and I love it all. I spent years wanting to be that way, instead of feeling too quiet and timid.

But lately, I’ve been remembering that I have a superpower – I feel awkward on the outside sometimes because my best part is the part that’s hidden in my head. In social situations, I’m not functioning with my strongest abilities. I do still have a way of connecting with people, and there are some pretty great things that can come out of that, but introverts can be a bit like Cadbury eggs – we may look like a plain chocolate egg on the outside, but we’ve got surprising, delicious things happening on the inside.

Every time I show up in public, I can’t be in my head – if I want to connect in a healthy way with people, I have to go to my secondary strength, which is Extroverted. I cannot show up in public with my #1 strength, like an extrovert can. This means that the Kendra most people see is only a part of who I really am. Those who know me really well get to see more of the me inside my head, but it takes some effort, so a lot of people have no idea what they’re missing and what kind of amazing world is hiding inside.

This used to frustrate and discourage me, but now, I carry it around like a mischievous secret. I watch all the beautiful extroverts, doing their thing and looking awesome, and I silence the insecurity by thinking, “If only they knew….” Not in a prideful way, just in fun, private, secret kind of way.

I have a lovely neighbour whose social life is vibrant and a bit dizzying to someone like me. She has shown me what a celebration of people and friendship can look like. I’ve heard someone describe her as “a gatherer of people”, and this is true. She pulls them in with her warmth, and loves the variety of many friends. Her schedule used to completely overwhelm me, and make me wonder why on earth I didn’t have more energy or desire to socialize. I didn’t understand different personalities then, and instead of celebrating strengths, I felt insecure about weaknesses. I spent time comparing, and wondering what I was missing out on.

But one day, as I was heading down my driveway for a quiet evening walk, I saw her driving away with yet another friend for yet another exciting adventure, and the old lies started playing in my mind – all the junk about missing out, and not being social enough, and needing more energy and life and blah, blah, blah, when suddenly…there was a deep new realization, except I think I’d known it all along: there was no place I’d rather be in that very moment than where I was, heading out on my sunset walk.

I stood at the end of my driveway, looking to the left as my friend drove off, and then I looked to the right, where the street stretched off into the distance, my usual route for walking/dreaming/sunset exploration, and I realized that I had everything I needed right there. I could explore my inner world while I walked the outer world forever and never get bored. It’s what I was made to do best. And for whatever reason, I’d bought into the lie that it was less than, and not good enough, and invisible.

I have no idea what it’s like inside the mind of an extrovert, and I am in no way trying to downplay what goes on between their ears. All I know is that I’ve learned to celebrate what goes on in my own head. I’ve become a huge fan of the rich inner world, and the power that lies in embracing my own strengths, when I stop comparing myself to others.

A lovely, lively extroverted friend of mine says she brings the circle ever wider, pushing us out further, while I pull her down ever deeper, into the depths of thoughts and good conversation. So we go further out, deeper down, further out, deeper down, and cover so much more ground together.

All of this is to say, if you are an extrovert, bring it all – we need you to shine, to bring the life, and be the party and the energy, in all your crazy goodness and exuberance.

But if you are an introvert, we need you, too – to bring balance, to add more layers, to explore new inner territory, to change the atmosphere.

And that quote at the beginning? As the Holy Spirit grows in you, you will bring life, in the best way possible. New life can come quietly. I’ve spent too many years thinking new life needed to be about the loudest bursts of energy. But new life can look like seeds planted, hidden deep down in the soil, gently awakening, and stretching to the surface, fresh and vibrant green leaves slowly uncurling.

Do it loudly, or do it quietly. Stir up the enthusiasm and motivate, or coax it out with your hidden gifts. Either way, we’ve each been given strengths and abilities, and God wants to use it all.

And never underestimate. That shy, quiet person in the corner has deep wells of ability, whether they themselves are fully aware of it or not. Don’t overlook them – their very presence could be affecting the whole atmosphere, and sometimes, it’s the quiet ones in the corner who can change the world.

5 Questions to Ask When You’re Struggling With Comparison

I tend to see comparison as a doorway to all kinds of nasty feelings like jealously, insecurity, and discouragement. When I head down that path, and finally catch myself, I feel even worse, because I know it’s such a poor use of my time to get caught in the comparison trap.

But what if comparison could became an opportunity, instead of just something to feel guilty about? What if catching ourselves in comparison was a warning bell to stop and consider more deeply where the need for comparison was coming from?

There are actually some helpful clues we can discover in comparison, if we ask ourselves a few questions:

1) How am I outsourcing my value and worth?

Often comparison happens because we feel the need for a measuring stick. Am I doing enough? Am I doing well enough? Am I enough?

When we look around at what others are doing as a way of answering those questions, we’re outsourcing our measure of success or happiness. It means that somewhere along the way, we’ve disconnected from asking ourselves what we really want or value or hope to gain, and we’ve stopped going to God to find out what He desires for us.

Comparison is like an alarm that tells us we need to get back to quiet time with Jesus, asking Him and searching inside ourselves to evaluate how we’re doing and if we’re staying true to our deepest values, instead of looking to others as a measuring stick.

2) What does comparison reveal about my deep longings?

Wanting the rewards others are enjoying without putting in the same effort myself is just “longing for my neighbour’s things”, and can lead to jealousy, but it’s also possible for it to stir up a positive desire to try harder, accomplish more, and push ourselves because we see others doing it, so we know it’s possible. Sometimes we don’t recognize our longing for something until we see someone else enjoying it.

This happened to me a couple of years ago when I was meeting with a couple of friends for a Bible study night. I still saw myself as being in “baby recovery mode” after having Everett, and although I was doing devotions regularly, they felt pretty lackluster, and I felt like I didn’t really have the time or energy to put more effort in. But my friends were excited, passionate, and on fire, and I actually started feeling a little envious of where they were at in their relationship with God.

I knew it was wrong to feel envy, but it was stirring up a longing for something good in me. I prayed about the way I was feeling, and asked God, “Why do they have all that excitement and passion? I want it too.” And the words that clearly came into my mind were “Come and get it.”

Suddenly I realized that God wasn’t withholding anything from me, it was me who wasn’t putting in the time and making it a priority.

I started setting my alarm earlier, and getting up regularly before the rest of my family, and I started seeing God doing some cool things in me, too.

Sometimes we need other people to spur us on, and motivate us with their actions and example. Instead of comparing myself to others and feeling bad about myself, I can see what is possible for others, and know there is enough to go around for all of us. It can become an inspiring call to action, and a reminder of what is available to me if I also choose to put in the effort.

3) Am I looking at the full picture?

Often, when we compare ourselves to others, we’re only looking at bits and pieces – usually their best snippets, in comparison to our worst parts.

We see the perfect house, vacation, or perfectly behaved children, or the ability to juggle a job plus all the other stuff and make it look easy.

But there are many parts to other people’s lives that we can’t possibly see or know, and it helps to take a moment to ask ourselves if we are really, truly thinking about the whole picture, or just picking our favourite parts to envy and compare with our own life, from the surface we can see.

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I’ve had to do this a lot over the years with the different health challenges I’ve dealt with while having kids. I see other moms “doing it all”, and I feel tired just watching them. I can slip into thinking that I can’t do enough, and I’m failing my family by not accomplishing all that other women are able to.

But when I pull back and start to think about the bigger picture, things begin to look different – I have to do two and a half hours a day of physio exercises and stretches, which takes a big chunk of my time. I would probably be accomplishing a lot more if I had that extra time to do other things, too.

I have different priorities and make different choices, and I really love my life the way it is – our family has made the best choices we could with the situation we’re in. I don’t know how other moms spend their time, money, health, resources, etc, but I know that I feel good about my choices, so I can’t compare my situation to someone else’s. There’s a very different background to each of our big pictures.

4) How am I doing compared to where I used to be?

If you think back to where you were yesterday, or a year ago, or ten years ago, you’re probably doing awesome. The only life you can do anything about is your own, so think about how you can keep getting better at doing your own thing, instead of getting caught up in what others are doing.

5) Do I need to ignore this distraction?

If there’s nothing good or helpful to be gained from comparison, if the previous questions don’t bring up any beneficial thoughts or ideas, then it’s time to sharpen your focus, and get past the distraction of comparison.

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These questions can help us to determine if our thoughts of comparison come from a place that needs healing, or a deep longing for growth, and we can intentionally deal with whatever is the root cause.

In all of this, the biggest thing is to examine what is going on when comparison happens, and bring that emptiness to God. Ask Him if the longing is good, and something He wants for you, or if it’s something that needs to be laid aside to make room for a different way in which He wants to provide.

Jealousy and discontentment are always a sign that our thoughts have gone in the wrong direction, and it’s an opportunity to get back to the helpful feedback we can gain from comparison.

The most beautiful part in all of this is that God knows what you need, and what you long for. He knows the person you were created to be. Take your longings to Him, and He will show you the right path to take. He will make clear how much is enough, and that you are enough.

Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in guilt about comparison, but rather use it as a reminder to go back to the One who made you, and wants to help you discern the best ways to pursue the life He means for you to have.

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These are the questions I’ve been asking myself, but I’d love to hear if you have any others to add, or experiences to share about how you’ve dealt with comparison. Please share!

A Winner and a Staycation!

Hello, Friends!

I have a winner to announce today!! Carissa Rempel is the recipient of an Amazon gift card! I’ll send that out to you today! 🙂

THANK YOU to everyone who left a comment this last week! All of the comments and interaction is what makes this week so much fun, and I have absolutely loved reading all the responses! Like always, I come away from this with all kinds of things I want to try!

One thing I was disappointed about was not having the time to respond to all the lovely comments. This last week was our family’s annual “staycation”, which was super fun and relaxing, especially over my birthday, but it did make things a bit tricky on the blog front!! But know that I enjoyed hearing from each and every one of you! I’ll just have to rethink scheduling for next year! 🙂

In staycation news, it was a most enjoyable week, and if you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it! It feels a bit like a weeklong weekend, except better! We make a list together as a family of all the things that would be fun to do, plan some special outings and special food, and do things we wouldn’t normally do. And we can splurge on stuff a bit, because it’s still much cheaper than going anywhere. Our kids love it! And there’s no work of packing and unpacking, and everyone sleeps great in their own beds!! It’s been great.

We’ve had a wonderful time, but it’s almost come to an end. I think Monday morning will be a bit rough for Everett when he realizes that Daddy has to go back to work! But fortunately, there are many beautiful weeks of summer left to be enjoyed.

What are summer family traditions you’d recommend?