Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Phew! Anyone else wrung out a bit? 2014 was a crazy year that had really great challenges and really great blessings. I can hardly believe how much has happened this year and yet, I know that we have so much to look forward to in 2015. Here's a bit of a breakdown of 2014:

  • We said a sad goodbye to David's father, Richard in January. God showed us His generous provision as we traveled to Alberta for the unexpected funeral. Hannah was only weeks old. Abby celebrated her fifth birthday among our extended family - a first. I mourned the loss of something in my David that I feared I'd never see again - his jovial nature. We came home to a really long and extremely cold winter.
Richard Gingras

  • February was a month of adjusting and healing, both physically and emotionally. We were blessed to attend a family retreat on Valentine's Day weekend. It was a great weekend that I enjoyed more than I thought I could. 
Family Retreat

  • David returned to work after being on paternity leave just after spring break in the beginning of April. That adjustment went better than I expected, but I do recall thinking that I'd be glad to get out of this season of just surviving. I wanted to thrive. April was still cold and we were all longing for spring.

  • May brought Mother's Day and for the second time, we got to dedicate our baby on that special day. We were so blessed by the support of friends and our Winnipeg "family" at her dedication and in awe of Hannah's big sister, Abigail, whose prayer for her dedication was incredibly special.
Hannah's baby dedication

  • We had a little backyard BBQ in June to celebrate Micah's 2nd birthday and waited for the heat of summer. Micah, our only summer baby, got a swimming pool with birthday money that we enjoyed throughout the summer. 
Micah's 2nd birthday

  • In July we celebrated our one year van-iversary. We are still in awe and wonder as we think of what a blessing our "Cinderella" has been to us!
Cinderella's van-iversary

  • 10 years of marriage brought us to August's party of the year. What a great celebration we had with David's mom and step dad as well as brother and sister, plus my parents were able to come and join the fun. We renewed our vows along with many others (we invited the married couples to join us in the vow renewal). Fresh cotton candy was a party favourite - if you ever get a chance to rent a cotton candy machine, do it!

  • September brought our little Abby to Kindergarten and family adjustments as David returned to work once again. We had our family pictures taken by our favourite photographer and life rolled on.
Abby's first day of kindergarten 
twila mae photography

  • October rocked my world as I received a text from my mom saying that I needed to come if I could - My dad almost died. It seems so unreal as to how he got there and how he's doing now, but it was a scary time. I clung to the promises of Psalm 34 and did, in fact, go visit my dad. Hannah and I travelled over a weekend and Dad was barely aware that we even came. Thankfully, that wasn't the end of the story.

  • In November we celebrated with my Dad as he finally accepted Jesus as Lord, but continued to pray fervently for his healing. Things got dicey for awhile. We hosted 37 people in our home for a superhero party of epic proportions. I've heard stories that the children who attended are already planning for next year's party. Sorry, littles... not sure I'll repeat that one, but I'm so glad you had fun. The party was to celebrate both David and Malachi's birthdays. Malachi still asks about Mrs. G (my heroic alter ego).
some of our 37 party heroes

"Mrs. G - Truth Serum"

  • December had us make the long drive to Alberta again. We weren't originally planning on going for Christmas, but with my dad still in the hospital, I couldn't imagine him there on Christmas without company, so we went. We stayed for a week and a half, travelling back and forth between our families about every day and a half. I got to visit with my dad 3 different days, including on Christmas, and I'm so glad to say that he's doing really well. The long road to recovery is only beginning, but I'm still praying for miraculous healing and an incredible end to that story. Our church family experienced a tragic loss and though I wasn't personally close to their story, I couldn't help but be even more grateful that we were celebrating Christmas with my dad and not attending his funeral.
we celebrated yellow day on our drive to Alberta

Christmas at the hospital

We are home now and it's New Year's Eve. I've been thinking a lot about the past year and looking forward with hope for the next one. I've chosen a word to focus my prayer life around and how I want to live in 2015. I'll share that with you soon. I don't make new year's resolutions, but I do try to make reasonable goals. I hope to find myself thriving in 2015 and not just surviving, but it's something I plan to FIGHT for. Through our trials my character is being refined and strengthened. I hope to put that to good use next year.

Thank you all for sticking with me through this year and I hope to share many triumphs and joys with you in the next. May you be blessed! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Checking In

Halfway through Bethlehem LIVE! 2014 and we are all still alive and well. We miss David who is busy serving, but he isn't in tonight's performance, so we will get to see him soon. They've had record breaking numbers on this the mildest BL weekend that I've experienced. In year's past it's always been the coldest days of December that we've tracked to BL. It's a nice change for the workers, but especially for the parking crews. I have a few random things to share, so I'll get right to it.

  • When I especially miss my David I steal borrow his shirts out of the closet. My littles give me a bit of trouble or they laugh about it depending on the day. I usually send David a picture in way of confession with some cheeky caption like "Shh! Don't tell, I borrowed something". Silly, but it makes me feel better.

  • I have recently come to the conclusion that I think I am an artist. Let me explain. I never doubted that I was creative - my mom was great at making sure that I knew that (her mom always said that she wasn't and my mom really is, but didn't know until she was an adult). I learned many kinds of crafts as I wanted to try new things, but I wasn't what I thought you could call an artist. I took art when it wasn't an option (it's a core subject in elementary) in school, but didn't pursue it after that. I wasn't into painting, drawing, sketching etc. all of which I considered to be artists' domain. Something's happened. I don't when it started or when I realized, exactly, I was doing it, but I started doodling and dabbling in watercolours then acrylics and WHAM! It hits me! I think I'm an artist. What?! Well, maybe. Still pondering.
my living room floor on any given evening

  1. a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.

  • I whipped up a couple of notebooks for a Christmas gift exchange. I tried my hand at fabric "doodling" and I had so much fun making these happy little houses. Love how they turned out.

  • I found this ribbon at the dollar store... how cute is that?!

  • My David has given me my Christmas presents early. He knew that I could be using them already and boy oh boy, have I ever!!! Spoiled rotten!
Art 101 Art set ~ two layers of art delights! (acrylics, watercolours - pallets, pencils and tubes, oil pastels & oil tubes )

I forgot to flip the picture, but this is a cool easel I'll take better pics to show you, soon!

  • I've been prepping my Documented Faith planner. I will probably do a post about that later, but for now. Washi tape wonder!

  • This girl! After my own heart. Abby can't contain the art inside of her. It's so difficult for her to wait until quiet time to create. (Micah gets into everything and I usually ask her to wait till he's napping - we need to assess a better way, maybe, but that's how it is right now). I've had her start an art journal where she can keep some of her pieces (Abby makes 5-10/day, so we just keep her "best" or pieces done with her latest techniques). 

  • In case I don't get the chance later, Merry Christmas to you and yours. Hold them close and tell them how much they mean to you, you never know how long you have! 
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make his face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bethlehem LIVE! 2014 Begins!

our Malachi as Jesus (photo credit)

Tonight Bethlehem LIVE! returns to Winnipeg. I'm not directly involved this year, but my David will be guiding tours through Bethlehem and praying with those who would like someone to pray with. I will tour Bethlehem with my older two littles (the babies are sick) tonight and with a new scene added, I'm particularly excited. I didn't get to attend last year (I had severe mis-alignment issues in the last month of my pregnancy) and I missed it! Bethlehem LIVE! is an interactive live nativity that our church hosts every year. There are hundreds of volunteers who gift the city of Winnipeg with a Christmas tradition that won't easily be forgotten.

Abigail's favourite scene: King Herrod's palace 

I've had the privilege of participating in BL four times. The first year I sang as an angel, heralding the good news from up high. The second year, I brought baby Abigail with me and we were in the town well scene and also sat in as Mary and baby Jesus for a few tours. Abby was 11 months old, so a little difficult to pass off as a newborn, but people especially love to see live babies play the special role.

David as a tour guide with Micah waiting to begin
The third year, our Malachi was weeks old and David played Joseph while I was Mary and Malachi was baby Jesus. What an especially memorable time that was! There was a tour that came through that I remember with extra fondness. The group had been ushered from our stable scene and on to see the shepherds and hear the angels, when a lady came walking back to the manger side. She had tears in her eyes and a smile on her face as she softly said two words... "Thank you". You could tell that she was so impacted at the reminder of why we celebrate Christmas. It snapped me into an attitude of awe and gratitude at this incredible gift that we've been given.

Baby Malachi plays baby Jesus

The fourth year, I brought baby Micah to the well scene. Once again we sat in at the stable scene for a few tours and I got to see the delight on everyone's faces as they witnessed the miracle of Christmas. That does not get old!

We try to tour BL every year as guests, too

Hannah hasn't been to BL, yet. Since my Christmas baby was born on Jesus' birthday, she has a different honour. Our hope is to someday journey to BL as a family and serve together. This year, we release David to serve and pray that this gift will be a blessing to many.

Every tour group gets to hear a mini sermon message from one of our great pastors

If you're in Winnipeg come to Gateway Church at 851 Panet Road
tours run every 8 minutes and last approximately 40 minutes
Thursday 6-9
Friday 6-9
Saturday 12-3, 6-9
Sunday 12-3
Come early and expect to wait, but know that it's worth the wait! Visit the BL website for details and more pictures.

Malachi as Jesus

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lingering Giveaway! ~ Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!!

Congratulations, Will Strickland! Comment with your address to claim your prize.

Sometimes there are some great perks to having this little blog. I never planned on using this little space for much other than an extension of my creative expression and for keeping in touch with loved ones afar. I don't mind; however, when other benefits come my way. Today, I get to share with you a new Christmas album that I've just been introduced to.

Lingering by Karla Adolphe is a haunting and melancholy album that has me snuggling in a blanket with a cup of hot tea and enjoying the warmth of the indoors on a cold winter day. You might wonder why you'd want to listen to a melancholy album at Christmas, but as Karla wrote on her blog

"Christmas is often the most wonderful time of the year, but as I learnt with Honeycomb Tombs, grief can cause even the treasury of Christmas to become challenging.  I really wanted to create an album that would extend grace and warmth to those of you who may be grieving this season and honour your kindness to me as a listener.
I hope you enjoy the songs I selected, some of these are my absolute favourite!  The songs express themes of pilgrimage, longing, hope, revelation, visitation and prophecy.  I hope in them you find rest; linger with me and thank you for joining me on this journey." 

Every year David and I look for new original Christmas songs to add to our extensive collection. We love Christmas music and could listen 64 hours straight and not hear the same tracks twice. We do have our favourites and on any given day (any time of year) you might hear specific Christmas albums playing in our home. I began listening exclusively to Christmas music mid October of this year. That's even a little late for me. I've had Lingering on repeat all morning. It's how I roll.

My first introduction to Karla's rich melodies and thoughtful lyrics was on her Honeycomb Tombs album. As my husband can attest, I listened to her album for days on end. It is still one of my favourites. I am looking forward to the same familiarity with Lingering.

Lingering was released to today and can be purchased for the low price of $6. That's only $1.20 per song - cheaper than most songs on iTunes, by the way.

I invite you to add to your favourites, Lingering by Karla Adolphe.

I'm happy to offer a FREE copy of Lingering! To enter, leave a comment sharing your favourite Christmas song/album/artist. If you'd like an extra entry, "like" Karla's Facebook page and leave a comment here saying you've done that. I will use a random number generator to choose a winner. Winner will be announced December 7th. 

*I received this album to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while listening to this album.*

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Checking In

It's been awhile since my last check in post and in some ways it feels like nothing has happened and at the same time, so much. Let's see how this goes.

  • The biggest and most notable thing going on is that my dad is sick. I haven't said anything directly about it online as my dad has serious opinions about social media, but my mom has released my sister and I to share. In part so that we can ask for prayer and support. My dad doesn't realize the extent that social media is a part of our lives and just how much prayer and support we receive through our loving friends and family. I probably still won't bare it all here, but I would appreciate your prayers mostly for my Dad's spiritual health, but of course, also his physical health. If you're reading this and you know my dad, send him a note, please. He could use the encouragement. Thank you. UPDATE: We were able to talk to daddy on the phone and he told David that he accepted Jesus and made peach with God. He's ready to be in His presence!!!! This is a huge answer to over 40 collective years of praying. Weeks ago Abby told my dad in a video that he needs to know Jesus so that he could go to heaven when he dies. Dad told mom to tell Abby and to say thank you. We are so happy!
  • In happy news, I have a beautiful new niece. Lucy Ellen Woodward was born on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. I've seen a couple of pictures and she is so adorable with a very full head of hair. I can't wait to hold her and smother her with kisses!! Congratulations, Crystal and Matt and welcome, Lucy!
  • Bethlehem LIVE! 2014 begins soon. David and I are scheduled to be tour guides together, I just need to work out childcare. All our babysitters participate in BL. I'm a little nervous this year. It's kinda funny, but sometimes I feel more introverted than ever. If you're in the Winnipeg area you need to check it out because it's amazing!
BL 2010 (baby Malachi played the role of Jesus)

  • Bible Journaling... who knew?! I am loving this so much and I am excited to possibly fill several Bibles to give to each of my children or maybe grandchildren, someday. I am connecting with God's Word in a new way and I love it. For more details check out Shanna's blog. If you're interested in seeing what's going on in my Bible you can follow me on Instagram.

  • I've signed up to join a Documented Faith 2015. Bible Journaling has inspired me to try my hand at incorporating art into more of my daily life. I've never considered myself and artist just thought I was creative. After trying new forms of art in my Bible and for my pen pals, I might be changing my mind. I feel like a whole new creative world has just opened up to me and it's exciting. I've even begun crafting along side my littles and letting them explore more mediums and surprisingly, I'm enjoying it. That's definitely new.
  • In October I signed up for a snail mail project swap and the dear lady who got my name sent me the most amazing letter/package and we've agreed to continue to write. The details she puts into my mail  are stunning and I'm so blessed by her creativity and willingness to take the time. I'm also writing a friend who moved up north. It's fun seeing her creative side, I knew it was there but didn't get to see a lot of it outside of her amazing cakes. Donna is a great cook and makes stunning cakes. It's been great fun writing and receiving letters again. 
My first package from Anne Marie (from Netherlands)

Pretty mail from Donna (from the Pas

  • I've recently been commissioned for a little sewing job. The results are pretty satisfying.
Disclaimer: there are legal issues with  re-covering a car seat - please do your research.

  • I have a long list of sewing projects to do, not to mention some crochet. I am never at a loss as to what to do!
  • I know, I've shared this everywhere, but it's sweet. Someone had a birthday (he now shares it with cousin Lucy). Malachi has an announcement.
  • I posted this on Facebook, but it's too funny not to share here... it's so true of me.

  • Lastly, I picked up a cheap set of 6 watercolour pencils from the dollar store and I'm having so much fun experimenting. I don't know any rules and so I'm just playing around, but eeps! I love it.
watercolour pencil with marker doodles

We are entering a busy season full of great tradition, I'll try to check in again, soon. For more frequent updates, check out my Instagram. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Owl Carry It

Recently I was faced with the dilemma of transporting my journaling Bible while keeping the pages from getting crunched inside a backpack. I ended up using paper for a makeshift cover with an elastic. It did the job, but it got me thinking about a carry case. I wanted to make something that I could carry my Bible in but not necessarily keep in all the time like a slip cover. I researched on Pinterest and decided that I'd prefer a messenger style bag. I thought the flap cover would work well to protect the tabs on the page tops, but I didn't want a plain one. I toyed with the idea of different shapes and then I found a cute owl purse and a few Pinterest pictures to inspire me and I went for it.

I used this tutorial to calculate the fabric I would need for boxed corners. It worked great. I kind of made up the rest as I went, re~creating features from the pictures I found on Pinterest. It's really fun creating free~style. I'm especially happy with the fact that it came out like I pictured it.

The Bible fits perfectly and my journal fits, too. I didn't plan for that, but it's a happy surprise. 

I put a zipper pocket on the back to hold pens etc. and tail feathers...I had to do it.

I had this strap that I salvaged from a thrift store wallet. It is the perfect length!

Now my Bible is snug as a bug, protected enough that I can "toss" it into the diaper  bag and go. It's a bit juvenile, Abby has already asked me to make her one and Malachi had to bring me his Winston to match, but I'm okay with that. I'll grow up... someday.

P.S. I have owls on the brain and I think I have another little project that I may have to try.