holding it together

This is how it came to be that I really and truly began to believe, in a deeper way, that He’s there.  You probably have a similar story of sorts, but this is mine:

In the spring of 2013 I was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma.  (read: “melody’s a complete weirdo to have this kind of illness”)  At one of the first appointments where I was told of the possible diagnosis, the Nurse Practitioner told me that the pathologist, who had caught the strange cell formations in my first biopsy and insisted that another be done and sent away to be reviewed by a specialist, claimed to know me.  Her name was Emmi.

I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out who this Emmi was, asking people if they knew who she was, or for help guessing how she knew me.  The only connection that she had mentioned  to my N.P. was the piano.  I finally gave up, and thought, “Someday I’ll know who it was that saved my life…”  I guess I figured I’d know in Heaven.

Not long ago, (more than a year later) I was at a group piano lesson with my daughter Emily.  When she finished playing and the other boy was to take a turn, he asked that we wait for his mom, she was running late, but she’d be here in a few minutes.  And Emily’s teacher said, “Oh of course, we can wait for Emmi…”

And at that moment, I realized this was the connection I’d been looking for.

Breathless, I sat there.  Two and two were coming together, and I could not believe what I was hearing.  I was completely startled by what I heard and I could barely think.  My heart and mind swirled together with emotions which eventually spilled down my cheeks on the drive home.

It was Emmi, a fellow “piano mom” who insisted to my physician that she knew who I was (even though I hadn’t remembered her name) and pushed them to have a second biopsy completed and evaluated by a leading pathologist in the field.   I have often wondered what would have happened if they hadn’t determined my diagnosis.

But, God didn’t wonder, He designed every nuance of my story, all of it, in advance.

I came to realize that, indeed, He isn’t just present, aloof, sitting by idly.  Through His providence and power, He is perfectly holding all of the pieces of His Great story in place.  His hands hold my world together.

When I read these words later, they seemed so new and real:

Colossians 1:17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.

What comfort to know that every detail, no matter how far beyond my control, was planned and prepared by Him before the world began, even this small little thing of a woman who would help to save my life.

Thank you, Heavenly Father.

 

Laughter, my son

It wasn’t funny when we arrived at the hospital on July 6, 2006.  There was a bit of anxiety hanging in the little room where we waited.  The baby boy needed to come today, the doctor had decided.

And when the nurse came to tell us, I’d have to stay in that same room to be induced, a room which was fully equipped, but felt more like a closet, no one chuckled.

From start to finish,  four hours and forty minutes which were a roller coaster of feelings and emotions; I did not giggle.

When it was time, and the nurse called for the doctor because we knew IT WAS TIME, he came in and said, “There’s no way its time.  That baby hasn’t even dropped yet.”

But, with two quick pushes, Isaac surprised us all.  There was my healthy baby boy.  Peace and joy, with fresh-baby-sweetness were all rolled up in that bundle.  I remember in those moments how we all laughed.

And he hasn’t stopped making us laugh since.

With a tender heart and a contagious smile, you’ve brought so much joy to us.  I’m glad God gave you to our family!

We love you, Isaac!  happy eighth birthday!

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The Beatitudes, on guitar

It is 6 years ago this July, that I did something crazy.

Okay, let’s rewind a bit, because you’ll need more background than that.

In March of 2008, the children’s director at our church came to me and asked if I’d consider leading the kids’ praise time at VBS.  Fun songs about Jesus, with lots of kids, high energy, major commotion:  I said “Sure, sounds right up my ally!”

As I got the plans rolling, picked out some cool tunes, made a list of kids who might help me, I ran into a problem.  I didn’t just want, I NEEDED a guitar player.  The way our sanctuary was set up, I could not lead the worship time from the keys.  And guess what?  I couldn’t find a strong, confidently rhythmic player.  This piano player’s heart began to feel a bit of panic… okay a lot of panic.

Enter : Wade Williams.

Our worship pastor at the time, Wade, who was an amazing guitar player couldn’t help me out that week.  But he did offer this:  “Sounds like a good time to learn guitar!”

Keep in mind: it’s March.  VBS is in three months.    I’m pretty sure I looked at Wade like he was crazy.  But he insisted that he was confident that I could do it.  Of course, Wade was known for getting people into things they didn’t know they wanted to do.  He probably also knew that I could learn a few things from the guitar player I live with, but still…

Who does this?  Who picks up an instrument, intending to learn it well enough to lead worship (which means singing and playing at the same time) in three months time?

Well.  I did.  And I guess more importantly, the Holy Spirit did it in me.  I’m not foolish enough to think I did it all on my own.  In the end, my friend, Rebecca, did come along side to help with the playing and singing – but, I managed – and quite enthusiastically too!

Here I am again – a few years later, getting ready for VBS, choosing my songs, practicing with my kids’ praise team, planning motions and all that good stuff.

One of the songs we are learning for VBS is called, “The Beatitudes Song”  from an album put out by The Church At Brook Hills, which is called “The Great God and His Big Story.”  It is a new favorite at our house.  The lyrics are taken from Matthew chapter 5.

Blessed are the poor in Spirit, those who see the sin in their hearts.
Blessed are the ones who are weeping, cause sin has torn the whole world apart.

Blessed are the meek and humble, God will freely give them all things
Blessed are the ones who are hunger and thirst for justice and wait on their king.

Blessed are the merciful whose sins are forgiven so they can forgive.
Blessed are the pure in heart, God will show His face to them.

Blessed are the ones who make peace, loving others with the Savior’s love.
Blessed are those bullied for their faith. Great in God’s kingdom will be their reward.

Chorus:
We are the salt of the earth so we’re gonna shake, shake, shake, like a salt shaker.
We are the light of the world so we’re gonna shine, shine, shine til the night’s no more.

These words sing out the truth from God’s word:  We are blessed when we give ourselves out of love, for His sake.  Being salt and light can mean a lot of things; it might even mean learning to play the guitar for VBS. In my heart I say, “Here’s to many more outlandish opportunities for following Jesus!”   I’m pretty sure Wade would heartily agree!

a list: things I loved about my trip to Canada

I’ve been away from home for a few days, visiting my grandparents in Strathroy, Ontario.  Because I lived there as a child and I don’t always remember things as they actually were, I’m always surprised when I visit: These old stomping grounds still hold a piece of my heart.  Anyway – I really enjoyed my time up north and thought I’d share a list about my trip…

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10.   I like crossing the border, especially when the wait with customs isn’t too long.  It’s sort of magical – it feels different the minute you step over.  Yes, Canada and the U.S. are two very different places.

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9.  The biscuits.  I LOVE Peek Freans.  There are lots of different types of cookies to have with your tea – but there is nothing better than these.

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8.  My Grandparents:  I rarely see them.  This time I was alone, without my hubby and kiddos, so I was able to spend a little time with them undistracted.  And that was special.

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7.  Mark and Amy.  My cousin and his wife are way above par when it comes to hospitality – and I got to stay two nights with them.  Vitamix smoothies in the morning and mojitos with fresh mint in the evenings, and lots of good conversation and laughter in between!  (this is a photo of me and Amy… sorry, Mark!  forgot to snap your photo!)

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6. The cream buns.  This is extra special and will probably get its own separate blog post, but – Amy, who has taken the time to learn how to make Grandma’s Cream buns, taught me how to make them this week.  And I can’t wait to make them on my own at home for a special occasion.

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5. These guys.  I got to be with my parents.  I haven’t had this much time, just me and my folks, in a really long time – and it was amazing to get to be together.  My heart needed that.

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4.  My extended Brubacher family.  I love who I am and where I come from ; these Brubachers are a part of me.  We are big and loud – and being together is so much fun.  I was able to connect with so many people that I love and it was wonderful! (This photo is all of the cousins with their spouses – some of my favorite people on the planet are in this photo. Only my sister, my cousins Ang, Dave and their spouses are missing, oh, and Michael.)

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3. Grandma, Celebrating 90.  Living far away I rarely get to be there for the little things, let alone the big deals.  I’m so grateful I was able to be there for my Grandma’s birthday celebration.    It was a very special day.

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2.  And there’s this.  I presented the completed, printed and published family cookbook to Grandma, which is dedicated to her.  What a broad spectrum of emotions!  I was beyond elated to share it with everyone, completely relieved that we had delivered such a beautiful book, but, a tiny bit sad because my partner in crime, Ang, couldn’t be there to celebrate.

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1.  Most of all: these people.  Because being apart reminds me just how much I love them!  And I get to go home to them today!  :)  Yay!

the countdown

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(Lily the puppy, waiting to come home in a few weeks.)

It has become a daily routine that Mackenzie checks in with us, “How many days to Lily?”  This is the all important question, that must be asked regularly.  I think she asks in hopes that maybe the timeline has changed. like BAM – our answer will be, “She comes today!” or something like that…

We are actually about 3 weeks and a few days out from Lily’s arrival.  And we have been diligently preparing for her.  We’ve fenced in the backyard.  We have purged a lot of tiny toys from our house.  The deck now has wire to protect her from falling off .  So on and so forth the list goes.  And the work continues.

She has no idea how good its gonna be.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

In the car my children and I have been listening to “The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis.  His portrayal of the end of the world, followed by the beginning of the New Narnia is so filled with all of the satisfaction, wholeness, perfection and wonderful-ness a human heart and mind could possibly hold.

As we finished the last chapter, on our way downtown last week, I nearly pulled over due to the fact that I found myself  in tears.  Ugly crying, in fact.  I was so taken by the fact that the characters in the story had found the new Narnia to be such an amazing, technicolor, 3-D version of the former shadow.

Listening to that story, I began to think, “What will this New heaven and New Earth be like?  As a believer I’ve heard of it my entire life, and yet – I still don’t know what to really expect.  What does He have planned for us?  Is this joy and peace and love and wonder, so well conveyed by Lewis, a tiny taste? Is that even possible?”

*    *     *     *     *     *     *

Lily, our puppy coming to us soon,  is going to experience so much love and joy when she arrives.  We’ve done everything we know to do to prepare a home for her, and to prepare ourselves as her family.

If we’ve done all of this lovingly for her, we being so human and flawed and sinful,  I keep thinking…  How much more is He doing for us?  What has He planned?  What’s He got up His sleeve?  The God of the Universe, who created and formed so much majesty and goodness in the world around us – what has He orchestrated?

Even if I knew the answers to all of these questions, I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to comprehend it.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

We’re counting down the days to Lily – excitedly awaiting her arrival – because that’s what you do when you love an adorable little puppy you’ve only met once…

I can’t help but wonder if He’s preparing for us, or if He’s on some kind of official countdown to eternity?  I guess we’ll know.  someday.

 

Double Berry Crisp…

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What happens when you find blueberries in your freezer, on a rainy week in June, when you’ve done most of your chores and you want to procrastinate doing any laundry?

You make blueberry crisp, of course!

Except in my case, out of necessity, I changed up a recipe I found on the blog savorysweetlife.com and made it my own.  I kinda had to, because I didn’t have quite enough blueberries.  oops.

This recipe I’m going to share with you is how it turned out – and yes, it was really, really yummy!  I thought I should share it  now because blueberries are about to be in season…

Seriously, you may need this recipe on hand…

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Double Berry Crisp

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups blueberries and 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 tbsp of lemon
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed in ½-inch squares
  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • In a large bowl, mix the sugar and flour.
  • Add the blueberries, strawberries and lemon juice and gently toss with the sugar. Transfer the blueberries to the prepared baking dish.
  • In a food processor, add the flour, brown sugar, and butter and pulse the ingredients until it resembles coarse meal. If you don’t have a food processor, work the mixture with your fingers by rubbing the ingredients between your thumb, fingers.
  • Add the oats, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Evenly sprinkle the mixture over the berries.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until the topping is slightly brown. Serve the crisp hot or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.

 

It is definitely worth the 10 minutes this takes to throw together!  Give it a try and satisfy your summertime blueberry cravings.

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answers to things I didn’t pray for…

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(My sweet baby girl, at the park…)

I’m a worrier.  There I said it.

And I’m not a worrier about big important things.  My heart strives over little stuff around the house, with my kids, about my husband.  Trivial, that’s how I roll.    But, I also worry about wild crazy things – that will never, ever happen, most likely.  Outlandish nightmares sometimes creep in, as though they’ll be my reality.  It is nuts.

Now before you come to believe I’m an absolute loon, I can tell you that the Holy Spirit has been my victory in this way.  I can tell you that at this time in my life, He overcomes my strange and obnoxious worries with a whisper and I don’t live a life of fear at all.  Scripture memory is a big part of that victory, of course – and I know where my heart rests.

Over time I’ve learned to set aside the worries, along with my lack of control and simply abide in the hope I have in Christ.  What this means for a worrier like me is I don’t pray like I used to.  My prayers used to be exhausting:  “Please don’t let this happen, and please keep this at bay, and please make this stop before such and such happens…”

Every human knows, there’s no praying for all the “what-ifs”.  right?

I cannot pray away enough “maybes” for my loved ones.  It just isn’t possible. And so I have to rely on a simple prayer of protection on them all and believe that my Heavenly Father is in control and knows all possible outcomes.

With all of this in mind, I want to tell you about a miracle that happened just last night here at our house.

I was at the bottom of the stairs, when I heard loud thumping – as I looked to my left, I saw my sweet baby girl falling helplessly head first down the stairs, with great force and inertia, her chin coming to a rest at the landing.  Very loud wailing ensued.  I rushed to her, and picked her up to hold and comfort her.

As I looked her over, I could hardly believe my eyes.  Though her face had basically taken the brunt of her fall there was no blood, no cuts.  All teeth were still firmly rooted.  No stitches needed.  A small bruise on her chin received an ice pack treatment.

I’m about to say something weird.

I can’t tell you how thrilled I was this happened.  You see the truth is, I’ve never prayed – “Please keep Mackenzie from falling head-first down the stairs.  And if she does, please keep her from being hurt.”  Nope.  I’ve never prayed anything of the sort.  And yet, it is an answer to the prayer I didn’t pray.  I believe He allowed it to happen, but also protected her from being hurt…  confirming His truth.  There is no need to worry.

(Of course, I also believe that, if she was hurt, there would be something good to come from that too, ordained as a part of His will…  If I were posting photos of Mackenzie with stitches across her chin, that would not upset my belief that He is good.)

In the moments following her fall, I was so relieved to find that all of the Scripture I’ve been relying on about not worrying is true.   His loving care and provision is full and complete.

from Matthew 6:

31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.