From My Sister, With Love:)

For my birthday this summer, my sister gave me some devotional books – one by Beth Moore (can’t ever go wrong with her!), and one called The Resolution for Women, which is from the creators of the movie Courageous.

The Resolution for Women

At that point, I hadn’t heard of the author before, and I tend to be a tad wary of books written after a movie. (Usually, it seems to work best to base movies on great books, instead of books on great movies, in my opinion!)

But I was gladly prepared to be wrong, and my sister assured me that The Resolution was a great read. So good, in fact, that she gave me two copies, proving how well she knows and loves me – she wanted me to be able to give away a free copy on my blog!

I wanted to read it before I gave it away, just to know what kind of book we’rere talking about here.

So first of all, I must say, if you haven’t seen the movie Courageous, you should. I’ve seen it once, and I don’t know if I could watch it again. I had a giant lump in my throat for most of the movie, from trying to keep the tears in and not to bawl my head off in public.

Oh, my word. The scene where the father dances without his daughter? I completely lost it.

Start with the movie. I think they did a pretty good job with it.

And then you should definitely read this book, even if you don’t end up winning it on my blog. It’s really, really good. Priscilla Shirer is the author, and she does a fantastic job of going through a list of thirteen different resolutions (similar to the resolutions made by the men in the movie), which cover a wide range of topics, such as  forgiveness, integrity, family, grace, faith, and contentment.

What I appreciate most about this book is Shirer’s willingness to go after what we hold deep down. She writes some hard truths, and it’s been a bit painful to unearth some deep roots in my life, but I like it that she’s not after easy and comfortable.

She’s going after an extreme dedication, because, as she writes…

…I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman of godly, admirable character – one who in my moments of clearest, most serious thinking I longed to pattern my life after – who was not a person of extreme action and resolutions. Those who enjoy the extra measure of God’s blessing and favor, who truly navigate their lives well, are those who discipline themselves in ways that many of us would consider borderline ridiculous. But like David (referring to Psalm 101:2-3), they’ve found it necessary to be as extreme in one direction as the culture has chosen to be in the other.(p.151)

If you are ready to read a book that will take away your excuses for “good enough”, this one is likely to do it!

So, how can you win it?

Well, to get your name entered in the draw, leave a comment about a woman of “godly, admirable character” whom you look up to, and tell me what you most admire about her. How does she inspire you? In what ways is she extreme?

I’ll do the draw on Friday, so you have a few days to think about it! Can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Best Part of the Trip

My sister Kim just moved to Ottawa, and invited me to visit her for a weekend. What a busy, full trip! We did some sightseeing, but most of our time was spent shopping and setting up her new townhouse.

We worked and shopped, and worked and worked…and now I can present our Before and After pictures! (I love those!)


And After!

After working like crazy for two days straight, we finished up with decorating/setting up house, and went sightseeing.

Our family went to Ottawa when I was 10 years old, so it was really neat to see some of those sights again, and appreciate them more as an adult.

Ottawa is such a beautiful city. It is green and lush, with majestic views all over the place. I could totally see why my sister is loving it!

It was so much fun to see Kim’s new home, and spend a ton of time together. It was fun to shop like mad with money that wasn’t mine, and it was fun to get creative and share all of my ideas with her. It reminded me of all the things I enjoy doing, but don’t always have the time or opportunity to do.

But on my last night in Ottawa, a card from Anika fell out of my Bible, and I opened it up to read it again. Inside it said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, you are my Mommy, and I love you.” And I thought to myself, “It is time to go home and hear my girlies calling me ‘Mommy’ again!”

It was the best kind of trip – I loved my time away, and I loved coming home to my family.

I kept smiling out at the clouds through the airplane window because I was so happy to get back!

All By Myself

I am in Ottawa.

This is the very first time I’ve ever travelled by myself. I’ve only been gone a day, and I already miss late-night talks with Ben, and hugging our girls, but I’m still quite excited about this mini vacation.

My sister recently moved to Ottawa, and bought this fantastic townhouse which needs some decorating, so she asked me to come invade Ikea with her, shopping and decorating to our hearts’ content.

We will also get some sightseeing in, which makes this an absolutely amazing little holiday for me. Can’t wait to get started!

While travelling, I was reminded of an item to add to my 34 Days of Favorites: Overcoming Fears.

A few years ago, I went through a stretch of time when I was absolutely freaked out about flying. I used to love flying when I was younger, but then the whole World Trade Center thing happened, and we were reminded that all kinds of people ride on airplanes, sometimes with very bad intentions. We were reminded that sometimes people leave, and don’t come home.

Obviously, I knew these things didn’t happen very often, but I allowed my thoughts to linger in dangerous territories, and before I knew it, I had developed a fear of flying.

I didn’t have to fly much during those years, which probably caused my fear to grow.

But Ben and I were dreaming of a vacation, and so, when Anika turned four, we flew to Mexico. It was quite terrible for me.

I remember looking out the window, and seeing land verrrry far away, and suddenly feeling so full of panic, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

We flew as a family a few more times after that, and I knew I had to keep my act together, in order to put up a good front for the girls. But inside, I was still in a panic, and did not enjoy the experience.

This last January, I flew to Florida with the girls while Ben went on a missions trip to Belize, and I knew it was time to deal with this whole issue, once and for all. I was the only adult responsible for those sweet girls, and things would be a lot easier if I wasn’t freaking out about getting into an airplane.

I knew it all went back to my thoughts. I had to get control of them, and be extremely disciplined about what I filled my mind with.

Years ago, I saw a counselor in an effort to learn how to deal with anxiety. The most important technique I came away with was learning to identify the fear, and replace it with a calm, logical thought.

For example, whenever my brain started to think about plane crashes, I replaced this thought with statistics about how safe flying actually is.

It’s very easy to let our thoughts unravel quickly, and before we know it, we’re in a state of panic, and our thoughts are out of control. At that point, it’s hard to get things back under control, and our bodies have already begun to physically respond to the stress.

A few years ago, Ben’s family planned to go skydiving together, but his sister was quite nervous about the whole idea. She wanted to go, but she was also afraid to, which is understandable when you think about jumping out of an airplane.

In an effort to help his sister, Ben looked up safety statistics on skydiving, and found that more people die in a year from falling off donkeys than they do from jumping out of airplanes.

His sister chose to focus on the donkeys, and went skydiving.

Sometimes I have a deep, secret wish that I’d also chosen to think about donkeys, and joined them. Only sometimes.

Anyway. The point is that we get to choose. I’ve written a lot about how choosing our thoughts and attitudes can make us happier. It can also make us braver.

I had fun yesterday. Flying was good. There was a turbulent patch which had me clenching the arm rests, and left me feeling a bit shaky, but otherwise, I enjoyed travelling. It’s become fun once more.

Do you have any fears you’ve faced? How do you get control over your thoughts in difficult situations?

Best Sisters Forever

Anika started praying for a sister when she was two years old. She kept praying for three and a half years, and she never stopped believing that God would answer her prayers.

And then He did. I will never forget what it was like to call Anika from the hospital with the news that her baby sister had been born (and of course my mom captured the moment on camera!).

Anika just giggled. And kept giggling.

And now they giggle together.

They also fight a lot, the most popular reason being Kaylia’s large area of personal space, and Anika is forever getting in it, trying to hug and kiss her….while still refusing to share her toys. Things can get ugly at times.

But things can also be so beautiful, too.

One of the greatest joys of my life is watching our girls being sisters.

So, in honor of Kaylia’s birthday, I put together a little slideshow of Anika and Kaylia…

Our Vacation That is Not Exactly a Vacation…

The sun is shining and the location is very beautiful. We merrily zoom past all the Disney billboards, and on this trip, we will not get sucked into the pressures of spending our money on Mickey Mouse-related activities.

This trip is more about living normal life…in a tropical location.

And so we spend our time enjoying the view while eating breakfast.

And going for walks.

We color with chalk…

And we have tropical tea parties beside waving palm trees:

Anika was happily reunited with her little Florida friend, whose grandparents live just down the street, so she ran off to play. Kaylia ran after her, crying hysterically, “I need my sister!”

Which sounds really sweet and loving, but it took me by surprise, since they spent the day fighting. (See, pictures can be deceiving….It may look like we’re having the perfect time, but it is not always happiness and unicorns in this land of sunshine.)

But anyway. We will carry on, and enjoy our sidewalk chalk and tea parties, and let that fuel us with the strength to get through the moments of life that are not quite so picture-worthy!

More Weekend Pictures

My sister sent me some pictures that she had taken over the weekend.

Here’s my niece Amber and her friend with our new camp puppy.

(I’m posting this picture here instead of on the camp blog, because Copper is NOT supposed to jump up on people like that. When Ben saw this picture, he said, “What?! Where’s our staff member who’s supposed to be stopping him from doing that??” But we’re working on it. In the meantime, it’s a cute picture.)

My sister Karla with our girls:

And a picture of our family, in which we are all looking either very tired, or sick. Since that’s fairly accurate, I’m posting it, even though I usually try to only post pictures in which we look as fantastic as possible.

The good news is that we’re looking (and feeling) much better today. I finally had time to nap, Ben had time to shave, and Anika is not sick anymore. Now it’s Kaylia’s turn. But we are still happy, because it was a successful weekend, and now we have more time for nursing a sick little girl to health.

Pictures From Our Weekend

We had such a fun time with family this weekend. We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving last weekend, so we headed out to my parents’ on Friday.  My family tends to just meet at my parents’ cabin here in the Whiteshell all summer, so it was nice to go back “home” for a change. We also haven’t been to my sister and brother-in-law’s in forever, so we spent the day with them on Saturday, which was so much fun.

All the girls went out for lunch (but we left Kaylia at the house, because I was worried about all of her energy in a dainty tea house.) Anika was so excited about the experience that she barely ate.

Amber is a regular customer, so she calmly took in the whole experience, and ate everything on her plate:

Then Wally gave us a tour of his workplace. Just recently, I was explaining to Anika how Uncle Wally makes books, which pretty much amazed her. She asked if she could see for herself how it was done, because that would be, in her words, “a wonder!!” It was a wonder…

I loved spending time with my sister, and the guys went golfing, and it was just a really nice, very full day!

On Sunday, we were at my parents’, and had our Thanksgiving meal with some birthday cake for desert! Anika turns seven this week:

So it was fun and relaxing, and just great to be with family. I love bringing our little girls to the place where I was a little girl.