Redefining Seasons

Almost exactly nine years ago, I held our sweet new baby in my arms, and I rocked her to sleep while I listened to the geese honking outside.

Inside, it was so warm and cozy, snuggling with our baby girl, and outside, the world was alive with all those geese, flying through the crisp fall air.

I had anticipated Anika’s birth so much that fall, and the beginning of her new little life held such excitement, that fall held a completely different meaning and feeling for me.

I wrote last week about how fall is a difficult time for me, and when I think of fall, I think of a drab, ugly brown landscape, of darkness, and depressing, cloudy days.

I think of fall, and I feel as though all joy and life is getting sucked out of me.

And yet, nine years ago in fall, I held all joy and life in my arms. We even called her “Joy” – Anika Elisabeth Joy.

As her birthday approaches, and the geese fill the air once more, I am reminded of how attitude and outlook can make all the difference.

Depending on my outlook, fall can be depressing, or it can be a time of beautiful excitement.

Last week, I was feeling the darkness of fall creeping into me, pulling me down, and yet, when we spent Sunday afternoon exploring, my heart was full of joy and life once more.

Instead of drab browns, I saw golden sun, and warm grasses.

On Monday, when it was cloudy and rainy, we wandered through shops at the Forks, and chatted inside with friends. I was reminded all over again that”light” comes from other sources than just the sun. It can come in the form of connecting with wonderful, warm people.

On Tuesday, Ben hung up Christmas lights, and finished our deck.

We’re caught up in a bunch of projects to quickly finish before winter comes. And suddenly, everywhere I look, I see fall as a Season of Preparation, rather than of a Season of Nothing. The world around me is getting ready, just as we are, and strangely enough, this is giving me…life. My anticipation is growing.

I am anticipating winter. Not just Christmas, but winter.

How odd. I don’t think this has ever happened to me before.

I’ve always thought of winter as far too long, and far too cold.

But now, as I look around me, and see how everything is preparing and anticipating winter, I am seeing winter as a Season of Rest. I think of winter, and I see soft white fields, and snowflakes falling in complete silence.

I have never been as aware of Rest as I am right now.

We left camp because we felt God was calling us to rest. There are so many opportunities and activities with which to fill our calendar, and we are starting to join in with some of these things, but most of the time, I feel something holding me back inside. I still feel the need to keep things simple, stay close to home, and enjoy many quiet evenings on the couch.

I feel myself….I don’t know how to describe it, exactly. Being replenished, maybe. I feel like my insides are drinking up the quiet. I’m a sponge, soaking up rest.

It’s quite wonderful.

A Season of Rest sounds perfect.

We’ll still probably jam in a whole bunch of wonderful things to do in winter, but I also hope to follow nature’s lead, and settle in close for a time of stillness.

I just reread that sentence, and thought it sounded like pure foolishness. Stillness? Heading into the Christmas season in a few months?

But yes. Stillness.

I am learning that feelings in my heart do not have to match the craziness around me. It is possible to take moments to enjoy nature or quiet and calm, in the midst of everything.

My outlook and my attitude can affect the way in which I approach this fall or coming winter.

I can replace Ugly” and Cold” with Anticipation” and Rest”. And maybe it won’t instantly and completely change the ways in which I struggle with seasons, but I believe it is the start of making a difference.

In other words, beauty can be found in everything, if you look hard enough!

Please share! I am so curious to hear what words you use to define fall and winter.

The Season of Nothing

Anika was looking out the window yesterday at the rather dreary view, and said, “There’s nothing on the trees, and nothing falling from the sky, and nothing pretty. It’s the Season of Nothing.”

I agree with her. I love every season, except late fall.

Early fall is fantastic. I feel light and joyous in early fall. But late fall does me in each year.

Especially last year. Last fall, I crashed – physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally, I ran into a brick wall, and there I stuck.

Time-change happened, and it was as though someone flicked the switch off in my life, and everything went dark. It sucked, and then I wrote this post about it.

There were a number of reasons for it – the isolation of being at camp in winter, the lack of sunshine in the dark little house we were living in at that time, Ben being gone on a 10-day missions trip right during my weakest stretch, the stress of trying to decide if we were going to leave camp.

Oh, what a dark, horrible time. I look at that list, and I still almost want to just curl up in the fetal position.

It was not a good fall for me.

But someone in their sheer brilliance once decided that Christmas should be in December, right after the Season of Nothing, and thus I was saved.

My parents showed further wisdom when they said, “Come stay with us in sunny Florida for three weeks while Ben is gone on another missions trip in January.”

After those three weeks of Florida sunshine, and a happy reunion with Ben, I was ready to handle life again. Spring was on the way.

And it certainly didn’t hurt to be planning our new home – I was dreaming a light, bright, open, airy dream, and before I knew it, spring arrived.

In spring and summer, it’s hard to believe a lack of sunshine could make me so crazy. And it’s a breeze for me to get through early fall, in all its brightness of orange and yellow leaves.

But when that nasty wind blew all the leaves off the trees a week ago, and ushered in “Ugly Fall”, I could feel myself slipping. November is coming!

I felt fear coming right along with November’s approach. I also felt dread – I was scared to go back to that place!

So the other day, I decided I just wouldn’t go back there. I will not let this fall be dark.

This is not last year. New year, new approach.

I am telling you now that November will not get me down without a very big fight this year.

Fortunately, there are a whole bunch of things which can be done to help with the winter blues. Last winter, I discovered a few things which were very helpful for me:

1. Using a happy light. We bought a blue light from Costco last fall, but I’ll have to do more research on it, as I’ve since heard that blue lights can do damage to the eyes, and it’s best to use a fluorescent happy light.

2. Getting outside. Every single day, no matter what the weather.

3. Being with people. Fortunately, living in Niverville will make this winter a lot more social for me. It’s hard to get used to the busy schedule we have in comparison to the pace we lived at camp, but I think it will really help me to get over my November slump.

4. Lots of lights and color.The Christmas decorations are going up early this year! Ben doesn’t like early Christmas decorations, but he actually brought up the topic of outdoor Christmas lights on his own the other day. I think he’s desperate to do anything that will help me cheer up for the month of November, and avoid a repeat of last year!

I need something to anticipate. I need something bright, warm, and exciting.

I think I’ll go candle shopping….

Much to my delight, one of my favorite health blogs posted a wonderful list of ways to deal with winter blues, so I will be trying a number of new ideas this winter, as well. I’ll let you know which ones work well! Except for #6 on the list. If #6 works well, you won’t be hearing about it from me. We don’t talk about stuff like that on this blog.

And now I’ll go paint some leaves with my girls, or buy more pumpkins, or find some way of getting some color and excitement into this gray, rainy day.

Any good ideas out there for getting through the Season of Nothing?

Soaking Up Fall

Yesterday was golden. Really, was there ever a more beautiful fall day?

Who knew it would be the best day ever for family pictures?

I certainly did not know it two weeks ago when I arranged with our friend Morgan to meet with us yesterday, but we managed to pick a beauty! We spent a sunshiny hour with Morgan, wandering around in the glowing leaves.

Then Morgan left, and Ben hung out with our girls at his parents’ house while I went back and took a bunch of my own pictures. I love it that he gets how much I need to do that.

I really do need to go lie in a field and take pictures of weeds against the sky. It does something good to my insides.

What are your insides begging you for today? That sun is shining, and it’s just so beautiful, but sometimes we’re far too busy to notice.

When I finally slow down enough to go lie in a field of weeds, I realize how much I’ve been needing it. And when winter comes, I’ll be so glad I soaked up all this goodness now. Winter will be good, too, but I’m sure that when I go lie in a snow drift, I’ll still be remembering the smell of dry grass in the hot sun.:)



Fall is My Favorite

Fall is just beautiful.

When it’s fall, I think it’s my favorite season.

But then, I feel the same in spring and summer, too. (Not winter. There is no confusion for me about winter. It is beautiful, and I love some parts of it very much, but it’s not my favorite.)

So we’ll say for right now that fall is my favorite.

And my favorite place to be in fall is the Whiteshell. There is nothing like it.

That’s where we were this weekend.

We stayed at Ben’s parents’ cabin with friends, and on the drive home, Ben and I decided to make this particular weekend of September in the Whiteshell a fall tradition – kind of like people who spend Labor Day weekend at the lake. Always, each and every year.

The first weekend of fall will be our Whiteshell weekend.

We made this decision, and then sat back feeling brilliant – the way you do when you make a solid decision you’re totally proud of.

Another fall tradition for our family is a hike to Look-Out. We’ve done it every fall for the last five years, and it’s just one of those things that needs to be done.

It’s also mandatory to take a family picture with that view in the background. I love seeing how our family has changed from year to year, but that view stays the same – always amazing. (Last year’s family picture never worked out, though – click here to read about last year’s trip to Look-Out. And here’s the post from the year before, when everything went “right”!)

And even though we had enough coughing and runny noses to fill us up for the whole winter, we still had a wonderful time with our friends who joined us.

So, what about you? Where were you this weekend? And what are your mandatory requirements for fall activities? I hope you’re enjoying everything that’s bright and beautiful out there!



If I Could Have Seen the Future

We went to Tinkertown this last weekend with some friends, and had a wonderful time.

There were so many moments of the day that were just plain wonderful, and made me mentally stop still for a second, in an effort to take it all in.

The weather was absolutely beautiful. Hello, September-dressed-up-like-July.

The first thing I saw when I came in the gate was a tree covered in bright orange leaves, surrounded by all the other crazy colors of Tinkertown. It was the most festive fall scene I’ve seen in a long time.

I loved seeing Anika with her friends, bravely taking on every ride in the park. She’s a little daredevil. It makes me kinda happy.

And Kaylia followed in her footsteps, like usual. Awesome. Motion-sick Me will take pictures while everybody else whirls and twirls like crazy.

But deep down, there was something else really amazing and meaningful for me about being at Tinkertown. I kept thinking about it all day long, and if it wasn’t such a bright, crazy, colorful, fun place, I might have gotten emotional.

Five years ago, we took Anika to Tinkertown for the first time, and she loved it. We loved being there with her.

But it was right smack in the middle of those years we spent dealing with infertility. Our family was so small. It often felt like we almost didn’t qualify as being a “proper” family, just because we were so small.

So our tiny, little family went to Tinkertown five years ago, and I tried very hard to have a light heart that day. I tried to enjoy Anika as fully as possible, and not long for more. I wanted to feel like we were enough, just us three.

But I found it difficult to be surrounded by so many other families with tons of children. I wanted to have tons of children. I wanted to be one of those frazzled parents, being pulled in 10 different directions.

But we calmly walked through Tinkertown with our one child, perfectly calm and under control.

This last weekend, we walked through Tinkertown with another vibrant, chubby-cheeked little girl, full of life and enthusiasm, lisping mature words she’s heard from her big sister.

Now I can feel like we’re enough. Not a ton, but enough. If I didn’t have health issues to deal with, maybe there would be more. I don’t know. But this is the life we’ve been given, and it’s so good.

I wish that in those dark, heavy times, I would have done a better job of waiting. I wish I would have chosen to rest instead of panic. I wish I could have given myself fully to those days when we were a family of three.

I often felt back then that if only I could see the future, if only I could know God was going to answer our prayers for another child, then I would be able to wait for a miracle with peace and joy in my heart.

But in wishing that, I actually missed a miracle. I missed the miracle of waiting in faith, with the peace and joy only God can give, instead of joy in receiving what I asked for.

I once heard a preacher say we need to long for the Giver more than the gift.

I missed my chance to learn how to long for the Giver in that situation.

I’m sure there will be many more chances in the future, but the chance to learn it in that situation is over. I received the miracle I was longing for before I learned the miracle of how to wait in patience and faith.

If I could go back five years ago to tell myself something, it would be this:

There is no need to see the future.

God was good back then, He is good now and He will always be good.

He had miracles for me back then in those dark moments, whether I could see them or not, and He has miracles for me today.

The miracle of today erases those hard, hard years.

We all know that in this world, there many sorrows and hardships. Sometimes the future looks very uncertain.

But I see Kaylia, and I am reminded that the future also holds many blessings beyond anything I can imagine. I want to be surprised with all that joy. These days, I don’t long so much to see the future. I’m learning to live in the moment.

And not just because I got what I was longing for.

As soon as I got what I wanted, you can be sure I came up with new desires pretty quick. It was then that I started to realize joy and contentment would not come from getting what I wanted.

It comes when we just live today. When we see the miracle we already have in this moment.

It comes when we trust God with the future, and thank Him for all that we have right now.

Picking Apples

Yesterday was a beautiful afternoon. It reminded me how much I really like fall. It’s been awhile since we’ve spent time together, but I’ve always been good friends with fall.

We drove out to my parents’ house, and spent the afternoon picking apples. It was one of those times when I had all of the pictures in my head long before my camera ever actually took them.

That can be disappointing sometimes, if things don’t live up to the expectations in the head.

Fortunately for me, much of the afternoon went exactly as I had pictured it.

But pictures can make everything look so perfect, hey?!

Pictures don’t tell you that Anika only picked for about 15 minutes before she wanted to go play.

Pictures also don’t tell you that Kaylia got extremely tired of me picking apples, and whined for me to go inside and play dollhouse with her. (Maybe I should have taken a picture of her crying in the apples. It would have rounded things out a bit!)

Pictures don’t tell you that by tonight, I’ll have cooked so much applesauce,I’ll be wishing I had never seen an apple in my life.

Aw, who wants to know all that stuff, anyway?! I’d rather look at the pictures, and remember the good parts!

Do you have any pictures in your head for this fall? Any memories you’re hoping to make?

So Long, Summer!

Oh, how do you say good-bye to summer?!

I’m having a difficult time getting ready to move on! But as I was driving through town today, I caught sight of a beautiful tree full of yellow leaves, and they were starting to fall on the grass in the sunshine. I experienced my first official longing for fall.

Hopefully, those longings start to come a little more frequently, and soon, because fall is coming whether I’m ready for it or not!

But it’s hard to move on from a summer so good! I had no idea what to expect, back in spring. For the last five summers, we’ve known pretty much exactly what to expect. Camp life is quite scheduled and predictable, in lots of ways.

Moving to Niverville threw our family for a loop. When I thought of the summer stretching before us, I thought of pavement, no trees, and heat without a lake to escape to each and every day.

But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised.

Our summer has been filled with a wide variety of wonderful things. We all missed camp until it hurt, but we were still able to enjoy summer in a new and different way. I am so grateful for the opportunities we had to do many things we never did while living at camp.

For example. Both sets of parents have cabins in the Whiteshell, but we never had time or energy to spend much time there while living at camp. Packing up to go to the cabin seemed like too much effort when we were already living in the Whiteshell.

But this summer, we have enjoyed every single chance we had to take off to the lake.

A few days ago, we were at the cabin once again, relaxing together as a family, when Kaylia suddenly said, “Mama, is this ours now?”

Yes, it’s ours! It always has been, but now we have the time to enjoy it.

Another adventure we got to enjoy this summer was harvest! I grew up on a farm, and my childhood memories are filled with combine rides and the smell of hot fields in the sun.

It warmed my insides to see these girlies loving combine rides!

(I’m teaching them to recognize crops, and quizzing them when we go for drives. Sometimes we stop for pictures too, of course!)

There have been some big adventures this summer…

…and lots of little adventures.

Living at the lake is nice, but I have also enjoyed adventures on the prairies. I’m a “wide open skies” girl at heart, and it’s been good to be home this summer.

And now, what might fall have in store?


Fall Traditions

Loved this post I read about fall traditions. It’s got me thinking this morning…

The story my kids will tell someday depends on me. I am writing their book, and I want their childhood chapters full of traditions and stories and memories of the comforts of home.

What do I want our kids to remember about home and family? What warm memories am I filling them with these days?

In all honesty, the last few days have been days that I kinda wish they wouldn’t remember! Kaylia’s had a nasty cold, none of us have gotten enough sleep, I’ve been grumpy, and life has been hectic.

I was making a casserole yesterday to bring to a potluck, turned away for a second, and when I looked back, Kaylia was pouring a cup of water all over my half-finished casserole.

It was kind of funny. Kind of not. Some moments are just chaotic. I don’t like having to do five things at once. But some days leave other choice.

So today, with fall traditions on my mind, we went outside, where I can only do one thing: enjoy the moment. But I can enjoy many things all at the same time – my girls, the sunshine, the smell of fall, the colors, the wind, the day.

We’ll just forget the crazy moments. Or better yet, we’ll learn from them and move on to bigger and better things.

I’m making a list of fall traditions we’ve got around here:

-rake a huge piles of leaves and run wild

-eat turkey at Thanksgiving!

-carve a pumpkin

-go to Look-Out (which is THE most beautiful place to go in the fall – pictures coming soon!)

-take family pictures for our Christmas cards

Hmm, what else? I’m definitely open to suggestions!

Here’s my list of traditions I wish we could add:

-actually getting around to decorating our house for fall

-visiting a pumpkin patch

-going to a corn maze

-making some kind of fun treats that only get made once a year, for Halloween

So, help me out! I need some traditions…


August is that crazy in between month that possesses both the lingering charms of summertime and the enticing pull of autumn.

Kaylia and Anika waiting for me to take them to the beach.

Yup, we’re still loving summer, but I’m starting to feel that pull towards fall. How can that be, when the sun shines, and the beach is perfect, and the days are so beautiful one after another for so long that we start to take them for granted?

Part of me wants summer to go on forever, and part of me is starting to long for the routine of fall, and just a little bit of rain so that I would have a good excuse to stay inside and clean my house. In the meantime, we will go outside as much as possible, and swipe the sand under the couch to keep until another day!