Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Three Years Ago, We Got Married

     Three short years of marriage. In some ways, it feels as if it was just yesterday my Daddy walked me down the aisle, and I was wearing the dress of my dreams, to give me away to the man I love. In other ways, it feels as if it has always been Jon and me, and we haven't known anything different, and life always happened in our cozy little home on the prairies together. We were just two kids in love, and now we're having our own kids, and life--it happens so fast!
    Like anything in life, our love had a beginning, and someday, when we're in Heaven, our marriage won't exist like it does right now. Sometimes, that pierces my heart, because what could be better than marriage, forever and ever, to this man I love? But Heaven; it's going to be so much more wonderful than we could even imagine, and it will be just Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and He will fill our everything, and our forever, and I won't even miss being married to Jon. As long as we continue to serve Christ, we'll share Heaven for all eternity. How beautiful is that?
     I thought I knew Jon when we got married. I thought we were best friends, and I knew that he made me laugh every day, that he was sweet and thoughtful, and that we loved adventuring together. Our love has grown deeper and matured into something much deeper than our wedding day love, for which I am grateful. Our first year of marriage was wonderful and awful all at the same time, but I believe the adjustments and unpleasant circumstances we went through forced us to stay true to the commitment we made to each other, and the good times kept us putting one foot in front of the other. I didn't know anyone in Manitoba when I moved here, so Jon got it all--he saw all my tears, my struggles, and we walked through some painful situations together, and faced pressure from unexpected places. I never felt like he chose anyone or anything else over me, and I truly felt cherished when he kept choosing me, every day.
   My heart learned to trust him as our love continued to grow, and I'll never forget that moment not that long ago, when I realized that where Jon was, that was home to me. I think that's when I realized how very much I loved him. Of course, I fell in love with him a long time ago, but this kind of knowing, of choosing, of no-matter-what love, is the kind of love that doesn't have anything to do with feelings--it has everything to do with God's grace, with forgiveness, with commitment.
     Wouldn't it be wonderful to always be a nice person and never say anything I didn't regret, and always conduct myself with proper decorum, and never hurt anybody? Hello, reality! To be loved by someone who has chosen to love me in spite of my imperfections, and forgive me when I inflict pain, shows me the heart of Jesus daily. My husband inspires me to be more like Jesus, and I love the way he takes the time to lead us in devotions and pray daily, and gently nudges me to keep going when I feel like giving up. What a priceless blessing to be married to a man like that.
   Here are a few shots from our anniversary outing/mini babymoon in Winnipeg.



      In celebration of our three years of marriage, stay tuned for the saga about how a New Yorker and a Canadian fell in love. The story is unique, it is romantic, and you won't want to miss it!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Days of Thankfulness

     As I type this post, the sun is turning the eastern sky into ombre shades of gold, the snow is sparkling in the -14* C chill, and my coffee is steaming little curls of mist. Small person in my womb is having a party, by all appearance and feeling, and I stop right now, and treasure this moment. I am eagerly awaiting the birth of our precious baby, but I love feeling the energy and movement of my son or daughter. This space of time will never be relived, and I find myself humbled, grateful, that I am alive and healthy right now.
     We celebrated Thanksgiving last evening with friends of ours, who are also a Canadian/American couple. There was turkey and mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce (no more canned Ocean Spray for me!), dinner rolls, raspberry jello salad, peas and carrots, with rhubarb pie and ice cream for dessert. Around the table, we all voiced two things that we were grateful for, and mine were 1), my husband, and 2), that I get to celebrate two Thanksgivings.
    Since moving to Canada almost three years ago, my husband and I are learning how to appreciate each other's cultures and traditions, as well as begin our own traditions for our little family. It is an enriching experience to not just mingle with other cultures, but to learn to appreciate them for what they are. Some things are more difficult to appreciate than others, but I'm a work in progress, and I haven't reached perfection--that won't happen on this side of Heaven. A few of the traditions we've begun are decorating the Christmas tree in our cozy pajamas and having a hot chocolate party afterward, making pizza on Saturday nights, skating on the river in Winnipeg on Valentine's Day with some of our dear friends (which won't be happening next year--because baby!), and celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving in October, as well as US Thanksgiving in November.
     I know some Canadians think it's dumb that we as a family celebrate both Thanksgivings, and it's weird that the US celebrates their Thanksgiving the month after Canada does, but it is so easy to judge when we've never walked in the other person's shoes, isn't it? It is a privilege for me to be able to celebrate both. It means that my husband and I get to be together (not every cross-cultural/across borders marriages have that privilege!), and isn't there always something to be thankful for? A personal project I have taken upon myself, is to be more intentional about being thankful in the days between the first Thanksgiving and the second one. I challenge myself to journal what I'm grateful for, every day, and to look for the positive instead of the negative. Do you know how difficult that is sometimes? 
     How does one choose gratefulness in the hard and the pain? I have no answers for that question, because it is one that I have wrestled with many times. However, I am finding, that as a child of God, I always have something to be thankful for, even if my situation in life is less than what I would call ideal. Why? Because I can always rejoice in the goodness of God, because my present circumstances do not define who God is, or change who I am in Him. For that, I am grateful. 
     Gratefulness is a choice, not a feeling. So today, choose gratefulness!

          Enjoy this homemade cranberry sauce recipe:
     *1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
     *1 cup water
     *1 cup sugar
     *2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
     * a pinch of salt

     Put water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add orange juice concentrate and cranberries to sugar water, and return to a boil. Boil lightly for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in the pinch of salt, and cool. Allow your tastebuds to party as you savor this sweet, fresh cranberry sauce with hints of citrus on your turkey.

     I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Hello again, world!

 Here I am, writing after a long hiatus. I feel out of practice with blogging (not that I was ever well-versed in the blogosphere in the first place!), so as I tentatively type these sentences, they will most likely be written, backspaced, and re-written, and re-written again.
     Summer always flies by at an alarming speed, and looking back, I believe if I had blinked, I would have missed it. All appearances of autumn are now past as well, judging by the gray skies, the monochromatic landscape, and the fresh layer of powdered sugar snow that decorates the prairies this morning. Christmas music is also playing, because it is November after all, and I do love the Christmas season. I have restrained myself from digging out the lights, the Christmas decorations, and the wreath I hang on the front door. I did not know I possessed such self-control! (Just kidding!)
    The majority of my summer was spent sleeping, lying on the couch, or exercising will-power I didn't know I had, to perform simple tasks such as laundry, cooking for my husband, and trying to keep up with the laundry. Who knew morning sickness could last all day (and night!), and who knew growing a tiny person could take such an incredible amount of energy? 
     The expected arrival of our son or daughter is now less than 3 months away, and with every kick, and squirm, my anticipation grows. We are so grateful to the Lord for this incredible blessing He has gifted us, and there's nothing like new life to make you realize what a miracle it is that people are even conceived, yet live to be 100!
     Some mornings, I must admit, I just sit on our couch and watch the antics of my little sweetie, and I see a poke here, and feel a flutter there, and Baby, what was that?! Words just can't describe how wonderful it is to be carrying life inside me. I am a mother, and I feel small and inadequate when I ponder how this small person has a tender heart, a little soul, and Oh Lord, I need Your grace and an infilling of Your Holy Spirit to be the mother my son or daughter needs!
   I'll wrap up this post with a few pictures from our camping trips (before morning sickness!), various travels, and random interesting pictures you may enjoy.

Because we all know half the fun of camping is that steaming cup of French-pressed coffee in the morning, isn't it?

Look at all that beautiful sunshine! 

All this is missing is a hot, gooey, puffy, marshmallow! Meet the smoreo!

We usually take a game along on our camping excursions, and Ticket to Ride is one of our favorites.
Camp food is just.so.good.

I just love adventures with this man!
This was the day we heard our wee Jellybean's heartbeat for the first time at 9 weeks. That was one of the best days of our life!

Hello, little garden in town!

We didn't get to enjoy our backyard quite as much this summer, but when I was feeling well, we made the best of it!

We had a bumper crop of enormous green peppers this year--and yes, that is inches!

We went on a road trip to various places, and this day, we got to spend at Grandpa & Grandma Youngman's cottage by Lake Ontario.

And always, boating on Queen Molly!
 This was quality sibling time--the 5 hour drive to Pittsburgh, PA, to hear the Piano Guys.

This was a dream come true for me, and it was one of the most fantastic concerts I have ever attended!

 We were so privileged to be able to attend my older brother's wedding, and to witness the beauty of God uniting two people in marriage for life. It was a beautiful celebration, and I certainly didn't lose a brother--I simply gained a sweet and dear sister-in-law!

The handsome men...

Love these two!
I  know, I know...my parents are the cutest! :)
A stop in Ohio is always mandatory, to see these two sister friends.

We also always stop here, because I crave it way up here in Manitoba for months until we go to the US and satisfy that craving for sweet tea, chicken fingers, and all those yummy sauces!

We also spent some time with Jon's brother and his family in Michigan. My husband has the funniest nieces and nephews. :)
They love their Uncle Jon!

If you've never been to the sand bluffs along Lake Michigan, or you've never been to Lake Michigan at all, well...you should go.That's all.

Lots of canning happened this summer and fall. This was a batch of salsa I made. It was supposed to be hot, but I can't seem to make my salsa spicy. I put hot peppers in, and this year, I dumped all the jalapeno seeds in as well, and still, my salsa mocks me with its mildness. Any remedies for this problem?

Excuse the guardrail...this picture was taken as we were driving. These Canadian Rockies are so breathtaking, and I fell in love with their majestic beauty.

Here we are in Sparwood, B.C. by the world's largest truck.

Autumn in Manitoba is so different than what I'm accustomed to in New York, but it is very true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

*happy sigh* Our steaming Saturday morning waffles...

This was on Thanksgiving day, on our way to a lovely dinner with dear friends.

Hubby and I went to the rodeo with friends. It was his first time at a rodeo, and I think it won't be his last, although we felt rather conspicuous with no cowboy boots or hats, checkered shirts, those huge gaudy belt buckles, and "the swagger". :) Actually, we are perfectly content to live without all the above.

Don't you just love that lady photobombing us back there? It makes me laugh--it's so inherently awkward. Oh, and have you noticed how my man's beard has been getting progressively longer? It's not just your imagination. It's simple: he's growing a beard, and I'm growing a baby. And yes, I like his beard very much, although it is rather tickle-y for kissing and such. And no, we don't care if you like it or not. It's not your face! :)

  I hope you enjoyed that glimpse of our summer and fall. (I feel like this post got longer than what I intended, so my apologies about the photo overload.)

And this? This is now.

                                                                                        Enjoy your day!