Every Age is Enchanting

When Anika was five years old, I met a lovely lady who asked me how old my little girl was. I told her Anika was five, and then she sighed dramatically, closed her eyes, and said very expressively, “Five is enchanting!”

I’ve thought of it many times since.

Whenever Anika has a smile of pure and utter joy, brought on by a simple pleasure in life which only a child would notice, I hear those words again – “Five is enchanting.”

Except I replace it with whatever age she happens to be. Because they’re all enchanting.

Photos by Morgan Braun

I want to delight in each year of her life, in every stage she goes through.

I want to think she’s an enchanting teenager.:)

I hope when she’s an adult, I’ll still be thinking, “Thirty is enchanting!”

There are a couple of reasons for this:

Enchanting is a wonderful word, and is not used enough. How different would your life be with a little more enchantment in it?

I want Anika to embrace change and aging. I wish she would see each new year as an exciting possibility for endless opportunities and adventures.

When she was a baby, I remember being tempted to get really sad when she would leave a fun stage behind. I’d pack away all those little sleepers she outgrew, and I cried when she started drinking from a bottle. I was so sad that she didn’t need me quite as much, and Ben joked she’d be moving out the next week, full of her own independence.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that if I was going to be sad about each stage she left behind, I would be sad all the time.

So I decided to stop. As much as I possibly could, I didn’t let my mind go there. I  tried to look ahead to the future, and all of the good things we would enjoy in the stages to come.

Somehow, that decision has carried on. Yes, I definitely have moments of wishing those chubby arms would hug me forever, but I have two choices: I can feel sad because the moment won’t last, or I can enjoy the moment for all it’s worth, soaking in every single last drop of delight, so that in the years to come, I will remember, because I was fully present in the joy of it.

When she is an adult, I want her to know that I still delight in her. To wish her young again would be to wish she was less than she is – to take away what she has gained, just for the sake of my own pleasure.

But it’s not about my pleasure. I want her to learn and grow and change.

So I will choose to be enchanted right now.

She turned nine this week, and nine is just wonderful. We will be fully present in the moments of today, so that we can look back on them in years to come and remember, with joy and not regret.

I hope you have an enchanting day, no matter what age you are!

Anika’s Birthday Favorites 2012

We have a birthday around here today, and we also have a tradition of making a list of favorites on everybody’s birthdays.
Here is Anika’s List:

Breakfast: pancakes, sausage, oatmeal

Lunch: Shepherd’s Pie

Supper: Mashed Potatoes, Beef, Peas

Dessert: Chocolate Bean Cake

Things to Do: Polly Pockets

Toys: Barbies, Lego,  Play Mobil

Books: Mandie Books

Thing to Wear: Blue Dress

Color: Blue and Purple

What do you want to do for a job when you grow up? Be an author and an artist

My Favorite Things About Anika:

I love how she takes care of Kaylia. They definitely have their fights, but I love seeing how they also want to be together so much. Every morning, Kaylia wakes up and says, “Anika, can I come up and ‘nuggle you?” And then she climbs into Anika’s top bunk, and they cuddle for awhile.

I love the talks we have at night. She saves all her big, serious questions for those cozy times in bed. We talk it all out, and then she’s ready to let go of the day.

I love her love for books. Because Ben and I both love to read, and both dream of publishing books someday, it gives us great joy to see Anika enjoying books so much.
I love her imagination and creativity. I am constantly amazed by the way her mind works. Oh, for the wisdom to guide and channel that passion in the right way!

I love her strength and determination.It’s been a bit of a tough year for Anika. In our efforts to get her digestive system working properly, she’s had to stop eating certain foods for specific amounts of time as we tried to pinpoint what exactly was bothering her. We finally narrowed it down to gluten, and she hasn’t eaten it since last Christmas. I know this has been very difficult for her at times, but I also know that she feels so much better, she usually doesn’t want to eat it.

But I’m sure it must be tough to be a kid, watching everyone else eating chocolate cupcakes, and not eating any herself. Her nightly stomachaches are gone, and although she misses her old favorite treats, her willpower, self-control, and attitude have made me proud.

Photos by Morgan Braun

And now, it is time for me to go celebrate with my girlies, which I’m sure will include some Barbies and Polly Pockets. May your day be as enjoyable!

34 Days of Favorites: Books

If you read this blog somewhat regularly, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I love books.

I really, really love books.

I used to love fiction books, but have given up that obsession, because obsessions are exhausting.

I can’t stop reading fiction. I get really into a good book, and before you know it, it’s 3:00 am, my book is done, and I’m in for a grumpy day as a result of a very short night.

Since I find non-fiction much easier on the self-control, and am capable of reading it in small chunks, I’ve decided to stick to that, except when on vacation.

This last January, I had a very small, secret desire to make a New Year’s Resolution. Except that I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions at all. They seem as though they’re usually made to be broken.

But deep down, I wanted to quietly and secretly commit to reading one non-fiction book a month. I had no idea how I would do this, despite my great love for books. Since Kaylia was born, I have read books verrrrrry slowly. I just haven’t taken the time to do something I love a lot, and I decided it was time to change that.

So each evening, I would read one chapter. Before I knew it, I had finished my first book. And it wasn’t even the end of January! So I started my next book. By the end of February, I had read three books, and was feeling a lovely sense of accomplishment.

By now, I’ve stopped keeping track, because reading has become a habit, and I feel like my life is much broader and richer because of it. I like having other people’s thoughts in my head, besides just my own.

To pick only one favorite book would be extremely difficult, because I’ve read some really good ones, including:

One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Enemies of the Heart, by Andy Stanley

Loving God With All Your Mind, by Elizabeth George

Finding Freedom From Your Fears, by H. Norman Wright

365 Thank Yous, by John Kralik

Oh, how to pick a favorite?

I really loved Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, but my current favorites would have to be A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller, and Expecting Adam, by Martha Beck. I wrote all about my thoughts on the Donald Miller’s book in these posts, but that second one…Oh, my goodness, what to say about the second one?!

It’s amazing. I laugh out loud, and then I cry, and I list it as my favorite when I’m not even finished reading it. It’s just SO GOOD.

It’s a true story about a woman at Harvard who finds out the baby she’s expecting has Down’s Syndrome, and everyone around her thinks abortion is obviously her only choice.

But she doesn’t, and she writes about how her son teaches her the magic of life in the everyday. She writes,

In his strange, not-quite-human way, he is constantly reminding me that real magic doesn’t come from achieving the perfect appearance, from being Cinderella at the ball with both glass slippers and a killer hairstyle. The real magic is in the pumpkin, in the mice, in the moonlight; not beyond ordinary life, but within it. (p.74)

I love that.

It is absolutely beautiful, and I’m sure you’ll hear more from me about that one yet. It is not a Christian book, and she describes things so strange, there’s no way I could begin to explain or understand them, but it’s reminding me of how God can work in people’s lives is such a variety of ways, whether they call it that or not.

Don’t you love a good book?! There are so many more on my list that I hope to enjoy before the year is over!

Can you think of any I should add to my list?

(If you’re just joining in, and want find out what this “34 Days of Favorites” is all about, click here. And remember, there’s a prize involved!)

Weekend Favorites

It was the best kind of weekend – cleaning the house and getting projects done on Saturday, and lots of fun family time on Sunday.

To celebrate Father’s Day, we met up with Ben’s family at the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum in Steinbach. I hadn’t been there since I was a little girl, and the only thing I remembered from last time was running into a very old house, and desperately wanting to eat the buns that were on the table as part of the display. It made me extremely upset to have my parents tell me repeatedly that the buns were not for eating.

Well, the buns are still there on the table, but this time around, they didn’t look nearly as appealing to me.

The rest of the museum did, though! The girls loved it, and it was such a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

And now I will go get myself a pot of geraniums to put in my kitchen window, because they are just plain cheerful. Every house in the village had them. I will join the crowd.

Here’s hoping that your weekend was just as bright and wonderful!

Thanks to You

First of all, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who come around here and give my blog some love. I really appreciate each and every person who visits. Thank you for your interest and encouragement.

You have no idea how much it has made my day when I’ve received comments, emails, and facebook messages from someone to share their thoughts on what I’ve written. I love to connect with you all. I love it when this becomes a conversation between people, not just all Kendra, all the time.

To sum up this last year of blogging, here are some little lists:

Five Most-Viewed Posts:

1. Please Think I’m Special! Lots of people ended up viewing this because I wrote about Charlie Sheen. Apparently I need to write about him more often… or not.

2. Organizing Inspiration – I joined an organization challenge on another blog, and apparently there are lots of people out there who love seeing a messy drawer transformed…

3. What I Think About While I’m Cleaning My House – Seriously, guys, you would think this was a housekeeping blog.

4. When God Asks Us to Do Hard Things – The story of giving birth to Kaylia, without Ben. Hardest moment of my life, but also one of the best.

5. I Love My Esophagus – You would not believe how many people end up at my blog because they have injured their esophagus and are looking for advice on what to do! Really. Almost every day. That is a lot of injured esophagi.

My Favorite Posts

Just because those other five posts happened to be viewed the most does not make them my favorite! Here are my “top” posts, based on the topics that are nearest and dearest to my heart, and led to healing because of being able to communicate something important:

1. Reaching Out To Touch His Robe

2. When We Share Our Stories

3. How to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Ride

4. The Hard Thanksgivings

5. If I Were the Paralyzed Man

6. When Church Hurts

Hmm…looking at that list, I realize that my favorite posts to write are about Bible stories, about the new things that jump out while I’m doing my devotions.

Well, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself in 2011. Thanks for joining me. I’m super excited about 2012. There are all kinds of ideas just waiting to get out of my head and onto my blog, so we’ll see what happens!

Just a reminder, if you want to be notified whenever there’s a new post, scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click “Sign Me Up”.

Weekend Favorites

Every Monday I am faced with the same dilemma – I have a collection of wonderful, random moments that stick out in my mind as being my favorite moments of the weekend, but how do I decide which ones to share? How do I connect these random bits of wonderfulness into one cohesive blog post?

This weekend, I decided to make my life easier. I’ll share all the favorite moments, and I won’t worry about connecting them, because part of the wonder is in the unexpected, in the surprises of delight that come to us when we slow down enough for them to catch us. So here they are: My favorite moments of the weekend…

1. Racing Canoes in the Sunshine

Every fall, Steinbach Bible College comes to camp for a retreat, and they have a giant canoe race. It is highly anticipated by students and staff, and Ben still gets excited about it, too – his glory days at SBC are still fresh in the memory, and he did his own fair share of canoe racing.

So every year, our family joins in the festivities by riding along in the “rescue boat”. When we are out there, on the water, in the sunshine, feeling the excitement and energy of all those students, there is no other place I would rather be.

2. Discovering a New Treat!

For all of you who liked the Banana Ice Cream post, I’ve got a new delicious discovery to share with you! It’s called Coconut Cream (recipe found here), and it is amazing. Oh my goodness. If you like macaroons, and you like healthy treats that can be eaten guilt-free and with much-pleasure, then you have got to try this one out. So easy.

You throw some coconut into the food processor (which was still in the dishwasher getting cleaned from being used for Banana Ice Cream, obviously), blend it until it starts to get smooth, add a few tablespoons of coconut oil (which is crazy healthy for you), and blend it until its all creamy. You can add nuts or raisins or whatever you feel like, but for our first time making it, Anika wanted chocolate chips. Since I wanted this to be the most positive experience possible (so that the girls will actually want to eat it again in the future!), we went with chocolate chips.

And I cannot describe to you how yummy it was. But I will say this: I’m not supposed to have chocolate chips, and I had NO intentions of eating any of it, but Kaylia didn’t finish hers, so I decided to take a tiny little taste, purely out of curiosity. I really was only going to take one bite, but the next second, I had inhaled all of it. My stomach didn’t feel too great after, but my tongue and my brain were in food heaven.

So delicious. Thick, rich, creamy. We ate it too fast to take pictures.

3. Enjoying the warm weather. I love fall. Especially this fall. Especially on slow, peaceful Sunday afternoons when Ben and I can sit outside and watch the girls play:

The girls were swinging and singing “Ring Around the Rosy” at the top of their lungs.

The sun was shining through the trees.


It was quite wonderful.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend, too!