Sunday, 29 October 2017

TILTED HALOS

We were a few songs into our worship service this morning when I spotted it: the tilted halo on the light fixture just above me. I began at first to fixate on it, as a person with OCD does, but I was interrupted by what could only be described as a God-moment. It was a memory of a moment from earlier in my work week.

I had made an untimely joke in the lunchroom that morning. You know the kind: it's a harmless joke unless current events give it new meaning. Like saying "You're dead to me" and immediately realizing you have just lost a co-worker, and death is no joke. I felt like such a tool the moment the words had left my mouth!

Real tears blurred my vision as I confessed my major faux-pas to a coworker. Her words were so comforting! She assured me that those who have known me for any length of time know my heart and wouldn't be offended. Reflecting on thoughts from earlier in the morning while standing in front of the mirror, I asked, "Are you sure? Because I often wonder if anyone here knows that I actually love Jesus. I mean, you all see me wearing skirts and hear me singing Christian songs ... but you also hear me losing my mind and swearing. I feel like the message may get lost in translation."

OK, so this is my confession: I carry more guilt to bed each night over my struggle with swearing than possibly anything else in life. To me, it is the most visible flaw that occurs on a regular basis. Have I done worse things? Yes ... but not on a continuous basis. This one battle makes me feel like I should order several t-shirts for daily wear that say "I love Jesus, but I cuss a little."  Just so it's clear that I'm double-minded and clearly unstable.

As this memory interrupted my thoughts this morning, a voice inside me began to speak about tilted halos. Does that tilted halo diminish the effect of the light bulb? No. Does the tilted halo need replaced? No - just repaired. Does the tilted halo decrease the value of the light fixture? No - because it's not damaged, just misaligned.

This is a truth regarding my life, as well. I can become misaligned with the Body of Christ - but Sundays are a time of realignment! Christ has no intention of removing or replacing me - just perfecting me! And my flaws do not diminish His light! They simply serve to highlight the choice we all must make: do we focus on imperfect people with tilted halos, or do we look past them to the Source of Light?

In that moment, I was able to move from becoming fixated on the flaw into smiling. In fact, I may have laughed out loud. It's strange what God will use to get our attention from time to time. Today, it was the oversight of someone who was likely cleaning or replacing light bulbs. I am forever grateful that it gave me a picture of how all things are redeemed by the One Who loves us best.


Saturday, 21 October 2017

I'll Tell You What


"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." It's a line that has been overused  by marketing companies and health enthiusiasts everywhere. But is there any truth in it? Well, I think that depends on which side of skinny one finds him/herself.

As most of you are aware, I am on the waiting list for weight loss surgery. I am simultaneously beside myself with excitement and frustrated with the length of the wait. Having already taken beginner steps toward what will be my new lifestyle, I have lost 12 lbs. It's not overwhelming, but it is certainly better than my previous situation of gaining 3 to 5 lbs/month! Given the difficulty and the side effects of achieving this has assured me that it will indeed be a successful surgery! I am not prepared to waste all of the time and energy invested by myself or the (extensive) medical team. I am fully comfident at that time, nothing will taste as good as skinny feels.

Meanwhile, I'm stuck in the waiting zone. It does not matter how little I eat or how much I exercise. My blood sugars and cholesterol have surprised the doctors. Still, hormones will do what hormones do, and I will gain as much from a plate of kale as I will from a small portion of cheesecake. Which would you choose? As long as my weight continues to feel like a losing battle, I'll tell you what tastes as good as skinny feels:

French fries. Crinkle-cut, deep fried and smothered in gravy. Home-cut, pan fried, and mixed with onions. Yes, please.

Ice cream. Drizzled with maple syrup or chocolate sauce. Just a little bit.

Cookies'n'Cream chocolate. In the middle of the worst office day ever, it just makes everything better.

Popcorn. Covered in butter and salt, of course.

Potato chips. With dip. Enough said.

Pepsi. Oh wait - not any more! I have actually beat this one - hooray for small successes!

I think what I'm trying to say is that, for many of us, skinny/healthy is a journey. Unless you know what took someone to their island of struggle, please don't judge them. There is a reason a weight loss team includes a surgeon, several nurses, a nutritionist and a psychiatrist. We are all doing the best we can, and sometimes we need help. I will get to the point where that leopard-print dress feels better than cake tastes; but until I get there, I'll tell you what tastes better than guilt: cheese. Cheeseburgers, cheesecake, broccoli and cheese....


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A LIFE HIDDEN

I glanced briefly out the large, west window of our living room as I sank into my recliner. For at least the third time in recent days, I noted the flash of blue in the tree at the edge of our lawn. I love that tree, though how it came to grow there is still a mystery.

I grabbed a book, but couldn't seem to concentrate. Reaching for my phone, I scanned social media for updates from friends. Still unable to concentrate, and frustrated by the seemingly ridiculous obsession with the mysterious blue in the tree outside, I rose to investigate.




 Stepping down from our front deck, our walkway is hemmed in by large day lilies. A gift from a dear coworker several years ago, these lilies have really been a miraculous display this summer, given the drought we have experienced. Making a special effort to step over the lilies carefully, I note another unusual splash of color in one of the plants. I pause, bend over and snap a photo.


There, nestled in the life-giving shade of the lily, is a delicate stem of bellflower. I am baffled as to its origin, as my husband and I took great care to uproot our flowerbeds last year, replanting only bulbous varieties. This little beauty, though, has taken root - and refuge - in a place so protected, it has become fully mature before being noticed. Smiling at the absurdity of being outsmarted by a plant, I continue to the tree that is my reason for venturing into the scorching temperatures.

Peering into the heart of the young tree while parting some close-knit branches, I am in awe of the beautiful shock of color in front of me! There, clinging to the trunk of this tree nobody planted, is another mysterious flower in fuΔΊl bloom. Hidden in plain sight, protected from the burn of the sun, roots shaded in the dry soil held together mostly by the secure frame of a cinder block. 





As is often the case, I find myself singing the lyrics of an old song:
       Hide me behind the cross
       Where my gains become as loss
       And only Your glory is in view
       Your power will be revealed
       The more that I am concealed
       Hide me behind the cross
       So the world sees only You.

I wonder if I could be this: a life hidden. Could I take shelter under His wings, unnoticed until I, too, have matured? Could I grow in grace and beauty, clinging to Him for shelter and support?

 John 15:5 reads,  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (NIV) 
This is perhaps the most visual demonstration I have witnessed of a life hidden, clinging...and thriving. I am instantly stricken by the similarities between these plants and the life of Jesus. You see, we cut that tree down. Twice. We hadn't planted it, so we assumed it was an alder bush. On its third year of persistence to grow, I encouraged my husband to let it be for the summer. 

Jesus also arrived in this world unrecognized. We read in John 1:11, "He came to that which was His own, but His own people did not receive Him." Because He wasn't conceived (or planted) by earthly design, Jesus wasn't immediately recognized for who He really was. They tried cutting Him down, even to the point of death.

On its third season, this tree was granted life. On the third day, Jesus rose to live again. In two seasons of life, this tree that nobody planted has sprung to such vibrant life that it has become a shelter for other living things, like birds and wildflowers. Two centuries after His resurrection, Jesus - unrecognized, cut down and then risen - has ascended to the heavens and become a place of refuge for wild hearts such as mine! I am the life hidden. In Him.

I realize now that despite all my best intentions, I may have been praying the wrong prayer. It is not for me to ask that the world see Christ in me; rather, I pray that they must look twice to see me, hidden in Him.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

I SURVIVED


I survived domestic abuse. I am alive and well. I have a beautiful family, a job I love, and wonderful friends. You could say I am thriving - and most of the time, that's true.

There are some days, though, when I suffer setbacks. Those days are no fun, because they make me wonder if I'll ever get past my past. Maybe the point of it all is that we are never meant to "get over it." Maybe we are meant to use our experience to drive change.

It was a simple joke in the lunchroom that triggered my current state of mind. A comment about speaking to a waitress slowly because "she already had one black eye, so I kinda figured she wasn't a very good listener." I immediately clenched my jaw, grabbed my things and left.

Almost immediately, I regretted my response. Mostly, I regretted not letting myself react. How would that look different, and why would I react, you ask?

Reacting would have meant instead of closing my lips, I would speak. Should I ever face a similar situation again, here's what I hope to say:

A woman with a black eye may be a poor listener, a poor housekeeper or a poor sex partner. I have been accused of all of the above. But the man - or person - who gives her a black eye for any of those reasons is a poor excuse for a human being.

Have you ever been called such vile names in a voice so loud that you tried to drown it all out by singing? Have you ever had a hand wrapped around your throat to silence the singing? Have you ever been choked until you passed out and urinated all over your clothing? Have you ever been beaten black and blue for staining the brand new mattress on which you urinated while being choked? No? Then maybe you shouldn't comment on her black eye.

Have you ever found yourself bent backward over a kitchen stove with a knife to your throat? Have you ever found your only defense against a chokehold to be biting into the arm across your face until you could taste flesh and blood? Have you ever been kicked in the ribs while vomiting as a result of defending yourself? No? Then maybe bite your own tongue before commenting on a woman's black eye.

I am a survivor. I am thriving. I am still angry. I think I always will be to some degree - and maybe that's a good thing. Maybe the only way the world changes is when enough people react. Strong reactions are sometimes called for. Will you join me in being a voice?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

WORM WOUNDS

Each morning as we leave our home, I admire the beauty of our property. The huge, decades-old, leafy poplars that flank the east and south sides of our home are host to many songbirds who begin and end our days with joyful sounds.

On the western edge of our property, which is the street-facing side, are about 9 young saplings nobody planted. Really - nobody. When the first one sprung up out of the cinder block, we assumed it was an alder bush...so we weed-whacked it. Two years in a row. And then it began to grow for spite; the tree is now taller than I am, in the center of 8 mini-mysteries just like it.



As I behold our property, shrouded in shade, I am deeply grateful for divine favor. You see, we live in a prairie region which is currently enduring its second year of infestation with tent caterpillars. These worms are offensive to both the eyes and ears, and they devour trees. Well, not the trees exactly ... but all their leaves. Much of our neighborhood has been stripped bare by these pests.


Next door to us is an elementary school, where my kindergartener enjoys spending time on the playground equipment. Sitting there with him this weekend, I noticed the unusual condition of the schoolyard trees. 

My husband has taken great care to band our trees with carboard, duct tape and chainsaw oil. This has prevented the dreaded tent caterpillars from climbing and feasting on our trees; however, no such care has been given to the schoolyard poplars. Defenseless, they have become patchy with what I like to call "worm wounds."

"Worm wounds" are bald spots in a tree which testify to the evidence of pests being present. Sure, some branches are still leafy enough to house a home for a pair of hummingbirds or a family of robins. Other branches, though, are like a window to the heart of the tree - its trunk, which is clearly visible, exposed for temporary lack of the standard leafy veil.

That's the key. These worm wounds are, in fact, temporary. I witnessed these trees last July, stripped as naked as though it were mid-December. I also witnessed them blossom in spring, and I see their branches - even in their current state of duress - attempting to bud after each fresh rainfall.

I am humbled as I observe nature reflect my life. There are "worm wounds" in my story which seem to strip parts of me naked and raw with each season of newness and growth. They leave my core exposed: afraid that my past will thunder into my present, that the scorching rejection of yesteryear will char my very soul, and that I will never be complete in my purpose. What if I'm never more than blotched?

As clear as the call of the pigeon from the school rooftop, I hear it. The whisper to my soul from its Creator: "To every thing, there is a season." There is a time for feeling a little naked and on display; there is also a time the soul-sucking worms move on. The key is to keep bending with the breeze, soaking up the sun, and welcoming the rain.



The trees do not refuse the birds a nesting place simply because they are momentarily less bountiful. Rather, they allow the birds to build and turn those exposed areas into arenas for amplified, unfiltered music. Robins, hummingbirds, sparrows and finches - all project their voices to fill the world with song.

Oh, that my heart would do the same! Focus on the thriving branches of life! Become a shelter for others -  a strong, safe place from which to sing their songs. Unafraid of those who may injure hearts but cannot destroy the soul. Realizing that no season lasts forever, and those who sing with joy, are capable of eliminating any worms who attack. 


Friday, 16 June 2017

SPRING RAINS

I have always had a love/hate relationship with spring. On the one hand, I enjoy watching Mother Nature come alive in all her glory: green grass, budding trees, violets, lilacs, and a chorus of birds. Sweet soul food!

On the other hand, however, spring typically means a season of rain. I have never handled this season well. For me, the gray skies bear down with a heavy depression and an urge to sleep until forever. My bones ache, my heart weeps for reasons completely unknown, and my whole being is so disgusted with all. that. mud!

Becoming a mother emphasized the emotional conflict of this annual season for me. As soon as it is warm enough, children want to be outside. As soon as it was warm enough, I wanted to be inside: windows open, kettle simmering, coffee mug handy, up to my elbows in cleaning supplies! A house through which spring breezes blow is a house in which no dust bunnies grow, right? Wrong.

The mother in me was compelled to trade dancing with the mop for ring-around-the-rosy every. single. time. And how is cleaning cobwebs ever more fun than blowing dandelion seeds in the wind? Until the fair-skined became the sunburned, the insect-bitten became the allergy-stricken, and the puddle jumping became mountains of laundry. UGH! Where is this work/life balance you speak of?

I am entirely uncertain what is making the difference these days: the prairie lifestyle or my middle age. For whatever reason, I am finding myself drawn to rainy days. I love to open the window at my desk and breathe in the smell of fresh rainfall. I love the sound of the wind, skies the color of a warm, wool blanket ... and the coffee that warms from the inside out.

I find myself doing a different sort of cleaning this spring. It's a soul cleansing of sorts. A long look at the people in my life and the purpose of my life. I am discovering how to shed unnecessary layers, such as  guilt and shame and unforgiving gossips: I am growing into a more comfortable coat of self-acceptance. I am soaking up times of refreshing, and then - similar to a sponge - able to pour out love on those around me.

For the first time, I look forward to the rainy days. They smell of change and hope. Finally. ♡

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

MY RED DRESS

It was a getaway weekend of epic proportions in our world! We had purchased concert tickets a little more than 7 months in advance. We had arranged babysitting for the mini monster and booked a hotel 5 hours away from home. This would be an anniversary to remember!

It was the day before we were to leave town when I realized: I had never been to a secular concert before, and had no idea what to wear! A co-worker advised that I would see every dress code imaginable there, so anything I would wear to work would be appropriate. My oldest daughter recommended something casual, in keeping with country music. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I thought for the amount of time and money and planning invested, it might just be worthy of my best red dress and my fake pearl necklace.

I did, in fact, see every dress code upon arrival. There were short shorts paired with crop tops and flip-flops, jeans with tank tops and cowboy boots, leggings with flowy tank tops and ballet flats ... and a ton of maxi dresses. Worn by tall, slender girls with long, thick hair. And there I sat: a middle-aged fat lady in my long, red dress.

The concert was amazing. My husband was great company! Stepping outside, the breeze was refreshing as we lined up for the shuttle bus to return us to our hotel. True to my people-watcher self, I listened and observed the people around us in conversation. The one lady in particular who caught my eye was a middle-aged mother who was clearly older than she appeared, based on the age of her husband and her adult son. I noticed her perfect makeup, her frilly shirt, her wavy hair, her tanned skin and the twinkle in her eyes. And there I stood: a frumpy middle-aged mom in a plain red dress.

We boarded the bus, chatted about the show, and exchanged Snapchats with the kids back home. Arriving at our dropoff point, we walked across a parking lot and hit the walk light that would allow us to cross the street to our hotel. It seemed to take forever for the light to change! I cracked a joke about standing on the corner for a little too long while wearing a red dress.

That's when he rocked my world. My husband laughed, slipped his arm around my waist and drew me close. He told me how great I looked and how much he had enjoyed our evening together. He wished me a Happy Anniversary. And I soaked it all in, standing there in my best. red. dress.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

A MAN, HIS MOM AND MARRIAGE

Although I listen to a wide variety of music, my favorite types are Christian, Country and '80's music. Because my battle with depression mandates that I am careful what I feed my mind, I don't often listen to country music. For that reason, I had not heard Tim & Faith's new song "Speak To A Girl" until this week. Powerful!

SPEAK TO A GIRL
 
She don't give a damn 'bout your Benjamin Franklins, she wants Aretha
She don't really care how you're spending your money, it's all how you treat her
She just want a friend to be there when she opens her eyes in the morning
She wants you to say what you mean and mean everything that you're saying
 
'Cause that's how you talk to a woman, that's how you speak to a girl
That's how you get with the lady who's worth more than anything in your whole world
You better respect your Mama, respect the hell out of her
'Cause that's how you talk to a woman and that's how you speak to a girl
 
She don't give a damn 'bout your pride or the lies that you're hiding behind
She just wanna feel that you're real, that she's near to the man that's inside
She don't need to hear she's a queen on a throne, that she's more than amazing
She just wants you to say what you mean and to mean everything that you're saying
 
'Cause that's how you talk to a woman, that's how you speak to a girl
That's how you get with a lady who's worth more than anything in your whole world
You better respect your Mama, respect the hell out of her
 'Cause that's how you talk to a woman, that's how you speak to a girl
 
 
This song hit a nerve with me, because I have seen this for myself. How a man treats his mother is absolutely indicative of how he treats (or will treat) his lady. Although I knew this to be true, I did not understand the logic or the science behind it. From my personal experience as a mom of boys, I think it's linked to a mother's unconditional love. Especially during the rebellious teen years, a boy can get used to being able to say whatever he feels in the moment and knowing his mom will still love him the next morning.
 
What has surprised me in recent years is the shift. I hadn't actually realized what was happening until I heard the lyrics to this song, but I have observed it to be true: when a man's relationship with his mother changes, his relationship with his wife will also change. It does not matter if it is for better or for worse; whether he draws closer or more distant with his mom, he will do the same with his lady. If he does not feel free to speak his mind to his mother, he will not feel free to be truthful with his wife. They are directly linked.

Ladies, this means it is in your best interests to choose carefully. Be intentional about watching how your love interacts with his mother. Look for someone who remembers his mother's birthday, who honors her on Mother's Day, and who phones home regularly. Observe if he is able to have a respectful difference of opinion with her without disrupting the relationship. You are observing your own future.

Men, this is a call for integrity. Please don't show us one thing and become another. Don't impress us with flowers for your mom if you're going to follow that act with forgetting our birthdays and anniversaries. Don't tell your mother she's beautiful and then reject us for pornography. If the woman who has disciplined you can still be beautiful, the woman who cleans your underwear and sleeps with your night farts should be beautiful to you as well. Remember - beauty is more than physical attraction: it's who she is on the inside. If you have ceased to see her beauty, give her the same courtesy you gave your mom and move on.

It has been noted by mental health professionals that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. I wonder what the world would look like if those words were applied to every romantic relationship between a man and a lady. I wonder if more couples would identify an issue and care enough to break the cycle by seeking counselling. I wonder how many kids would be raised differently ... and how many boys of the next generation would know how to appropriately "Speak To A Girl." Because that's on us.
 
 
 



Saturday, 13 May 2017

AN OPEN LETTER FROM EVERY WOMAN


Dear Friend,

If you are reading this, I already love you. You have chosen to read an article solely for the purpose of hearing what a woman would want you to know. I hope I do this opportunity justice: that you read, understand and consider these thoughts.

This weekend marks an occasion on which ladies everywhere are celebrated. Not all ladies, though - just the mothers. More accurately, it's really only the easily identifiable mothers who are typically honoured.

For example, today I walked into our cafeteria at work. The chef had thoughtfully hung a few large paper flowers from the ceiling. As I paid for my lunch, he exchanged my coin for a rose he had hidden under the counter. I looked around the room to find each mother had been given a rose. At least, the ones who were visibly identified as mothers. You know us by our fluffy exteriors, our kangaroo-pouch tummies, our sagging breasts and the bags under our eyes.

Though grateful of his kind gesture, I wondered just how the rose became symbolic of Mother's Day in the first place. Doesn't the rose already have Valentine's Day? And weddings? And a host of other romantic affairs? I wonder if it's more appropriate to consider this day a little more deserving of bleeding hearts flowers.




I wondered how many bleeding hearts, metaphorically speaking, walked through our cafeteria today. Not just women, but also men who love women with a fierce and passionate love. I wonder how many quietly left today who may have been more deserving than I of the rose I was holding.

The heart bleeding for babies they never got to meet.

The heart whose hands place a single rose on a grave too tiny to hold all the love they had to offer.

The heart who has never lost their temper with a child because they can only dream of having a child with whom to be frustrated.

The mom who only has access to visits with her child.




I also paused to consider the ladies who received roses today, and the relevance of bleeding hearts in their world. The gruesome and labour-intensive process of giving birth: the first omen of the blood, sweat and tears to follow.

Tears shed over broken bones and hearts, lost games and friendships, and terrible teenage moments.

Tears that come with growing pains as moms grieve their child's growth - outgrowing our breast, our laps, and - all too quickly - our homes.

A mother's heart expands and stretches so thin it all but bursts, somehow seeping out of our eyes in salty droplets.

Perhaps the forget-me-not would serve well for Mother's Day, instead.



For the mom who tried so desperately, but lost her child to adoption.

For the mom who chose to place her child for adoption, but remembers with so much love.

For the elderly, who find themselves alone more frequently these days.

For the orphan, who can never go home again.

For the homeless, who wonder if anyone remembers them from better days.

If you are still reading this, please know that I am not suggesting we abolish the time-honoured tradition of Mother's Day. Indeed, please continue to honor the mothers in your life! Could I recommend a few adjustments, though, that would change the whole game?



In church services, sporting events, and other public meetings - consider asking all the ladies to rise. In honor of the mothers they are, the mothers they will be, or the mothers they desire to be. In honor of the mother who gave them life.

Don't wait for the calendar. Honor moms throughout the year! Offer lunch bag ideas at the start of each school year. Have an emergency fund for moms who can't finance the Tooth Fairy. Supply pocket packs of Band-Aids and Kleenex at the start of baseball/hockey season. A tiny aloe plant, symbolic of healing, can be discreetly given to a mom who has experienced loss. Keep a stash of angel items for those who have been brushed by angel wings. Carpool a working mom's child who wouldn't otherwise get to swimming lessons.

Stop viewing motherhood as mandatory. There are many reasons women may choose not to have children: health issues, genetic disorders, finances or plain old personal preference. The ladies who make this choice are brave and confident; please help them celebrate the fullness of life in their chosen path.


This weekend, some women want to feel special. This weekend, some women just want to be a face in the crowd. This weekend, every woman just wants to feel included in some way. On Mother's Day, please publicly celebrate every woman, who has made another woman, a mother. Because we all matter. No one is forgotten.

Much Love,
Vicki

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Way of Words

Have you ever read a book that completely and utterly undid you? I mean the kind of book that rips you open, and you wonder how the author wrote your heart on paper. Ann Voskamp's books do that to me.

It was January 27th of this year (I checked!) when I received an e-mail at work that stopped me cold. The subject line read simply, "If You Are What You Love, What Are You?" Grateful that my manager understood my daily devotional as my wellness, I knew I would need to really absorb what Lisa-Jo Baker had written. It is early May now, and that e-mail remains in my inbox at work, because I have been wrestling with the answer.

In February, I found myself reading Ann Voskamp's latest book, The Broken Way. Not at all unusual in my world, her writings both struck a chord in my heart and coincided well with almost every Scripture and inspirational writing I picked up at the time. I struggled between reading the book slowly enough to soak it in or reading it all at once! One of the pieces that grabbed my attention was this fresh perspective on love:
 
      "But isn't this the way of love? Love bears all things? 'To bear', stego in the Greek. It
      literally means a thatch roof. Love is a roof... Real love is a roof. Real love makes
      you into a shelter... makes you into a safe place. Real love makes you safe. Stego."
 
Whenever I imagine a thatched roof, I picture a home built into a hillside, with the natural grass surface as a roof. (In all likelihood, this stems from the days my younger bookworm self read the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, in a dirt-floor home with a thatched roof.) But something new came to mind this time: that kind of roof would have creatures living in it! Not just creatures you chose for pets, but rodents and spiders and worms. Undesirables.
 
 
 
What do you do when you build a safe place and messy, undesirable things happen? When conflict happens. When you're always chosen last. When a spouse leaves. When you lose a child. When friendships fall apart. When family dissolves. When you find yourself miles from home, busy but empty. What then?
 
      "Your one broken heart always splits God's heart in two. You never cry alone."
 
I've had this conversation with my best friend. We are, each of us, very alone in our current geographic locations. Despite being 10 hours away, Sara has been my closest option for a coffee date. It goes without saying there have been more pity trips than road trips, each of us calling the other in moments of overwhelming loneliness.
 
      "What if instead of waiting for good things to happen to us, we could be the
      good thing to happen to someone else who's waiting? Every soul wants to
      experience a powerful connection... to be fully seen and experienced by Someone."
 
I read this last quote just before lying the book aside to participate in a book launch for Lisa-Jo Baker's Never Unfriended. Around the same time, Lysa Terkeurt's Uninvited arrived in the mail: a thoughtful birthday gift from Sara. As I read through these two books on friendship, I learned that I was far from alone in my fear of being the new girl, in my failed efforts to maintain long-distance friendships, and in my tears over the next steps. Confirmation of Ann's words above encouraged me to become the friend I had been waiting for. Where to start?
 
The dear long-distance friend who mourns the loss of her mom today as though it happened yesterday. The fellow high school graduate who lives in a remote territory with no extended family and very little sunlight. The woman I was led to through the strangest of coincidence, and whom knew I was called to encourage. The Life Groups starting up with church families. The mom of littles up the road who loses sleep while her children gain teeth. These are people I can reach with handmade cards, with gift cards, with cups of coffee and potluck suppers and random text messages.
 
Even as my reach begins to extend, I begin to see and hear repetitions of 1 Corinthians 13 everywhere. The emphasis is specifically on love and kindness. I realize that, while I am making strides personally, I have work to do professionally. My reaction is not always kind when I hang up the phone or delete the email. And in the middle of our industry's busiest season, I pick up The Broken Way after a 3-month hiatus, and begin to read Chapter 8.
 
With the flip of a page, it leaps out at me:
 
      "You are whatever you love ... We give our lives to things we never would if we got
      honest and thought about them for one single moment. Our ideals never compel like
      our loves."
 
And I get it. I have spent hours scrolling social media, with the strongest connection made being my WiFi connection. I have invested time chasing PokΓ©mon for my 5 year old when we could have been cuddling over a book instead. I have extended open invitations to stop in for a beverage rather than delivering a coffee or cookies to someone who's struggling. I have lamented my lack of effective influence while often being impatient and less than kind in my circle of influence. Ideals versus love.
 
I am humbled that God would spend 3 months making sure I understood the message. I am thankful that His mercies are new every morning. I am determined to love, because He has loved me so faithfully and so unconditionally. May I learn, and be known for, that kind of love.
 
 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

To My "Practice Husband"

Hi. It's been a long time. Twelve or 16 years, depending on whether you're counting from the last time we saw each other in the courtroom, or the last conversation we had. So you're probably wondering what's prompted this letter: it was a song.

I was listening to country music radio (yes, still a country fan) when I heard the singer's words: "I just miss you, and I just wish you were a better man." My heart stopped, and my breath caught in my throat. I couldn't believe your face had flashed before my eyes. But it's true.

I held onto bitterness for a very long time. The bad outweighed the good, but there were good times. I had to dig pretty deep to find them, but it helps to remember them now. It helps to speak them out loud to our children, who were too young to remember much of those days. They don't remember us dancing or playing Ping-Pong or serving at the soup kitchen together. But I tell them, because I want them to know those days happened. I'm OK with saying I miss those days, when your laughter was contagious. And I'm OK, too, with saying I wish you were a better man. Because just when I had begun to find a place of forgiveness in my heart, you stabbed it with a new knife.

Back in the day, I chose you. I chose you to be my first husband. I chose you to be the father of my children. I chose you as my eternal partner. I chose you to grow old with me. And now, I'm sorry.

I found out later you married me on a $5 bet. I'm sorry that $5 bet cost so many people so much.

I chose to marry you when the options before me were to marry you or never see you again.  I'm sorry I wasn't level-headed enough to see the value of taking more time to truly know each other.

I chose to stay through flaring tempers and swinging fists, because I believed our children deserved to know their father.  I'm sorry I made you a father, and kept you in that role too long; it is abundantly clear to me now that you either did not want, or were not ready for, children.

May I pause for a moment to brag here? Our children are beautiful. They are my treasures. In a world of hurt and anger and things we got wrong, I got it mostly right with them. Sure, there were teen moments ... but we got through them. And those kids are two of the world's most amazing adults to date. They are hard workers with kind souls, freckles and deep blue eyes. They are astonishingly protective of each other, and of their friends and chosen family.

I asked them if they wanted you at their high school graduations. I have kept tabs on you through the years via a "creeper account" on social media. I always knew the day would come that I would have to answer questions, and I wanted to be ready. Confession: I had years to prepare, and still wasn't ready. There is no way to prepare for the emotions associated with a moment like this.

Although they were not ready to have you attend their high school graduations, they are ready now. A daughter has questions. A son seeks a conversation with a man he doesn't remember. And your response? Classy as ever. You refused to acknowledge him on social media. You accepted her friend request, but refuse to send a single message. Not even "hello." Clearly, you were done with them the day you pulled their photos from your wallet, threw them on the windowsill and walked out. You're a special kind of demon.

Am I angry again? Yes. Will I let it weigh me down again? No. You were my practice husband. You taught me how to identify a real man. You taught me how to choose a real father. You taught me how to raise strong, intelligent human beings. You taught me more than you took from me. I will not let you win now.

I am grateful for all I have learned. I am sorry for all you have thrown away, without knowing the beauty it held. I am saddened for the tears in my children's eyes. I am blessed to see those tears absorbed by the shoulders of a man who carries a weight that was never his by rights ... but it's his by choice. For all the choices I have made, the greatest choice of all is the choice made by a man to step into a broken home and love it whole again. Thank you for being my practice husband; you allowed me to get it right with the man who matters most. My second-and-forever husband. The real father of my children.

I wish you no harm. I wish you no luck. I simply wish you were a better man.

Farewell,
Vicki

Monday, 10 April 2017

All My X's

It's funny what middle age can do for a woman. She learns to let the little things go, to care less about public opinion, and to keep a small-but-tight circle of friends.
 
Most profound for me has been the recent urge to make friends with my X's. No, not men with whom I've had relationships, silly. I mean those X's on the care labels of my clothing. Those ones that scream, "Look how big you are! We're the reason you can't shop in 95% of clothing stores!" Those X's that have, for too long, defined too many women. 
 
 
 
I have eaten salads for lunch. I have worked out, and I have skipped meals. I have refused to look in the mirror. I have squeezed myself into ill-fitting clothing to avoid purchasing another X. I have reached a decision to stop doing all of the above.
 
Don't get me wrong: I know I'm overweight. I actually know that I fall into the morbidly obese category. I understand it's unhealthy, and I have shed tears and prayed about the numbers on the scale and the X's on my clothing tags. I am not giving up: I am deciding not let this define me; I will no longer spend every waking thought on this one aspect of who I am.
 
I am a wife and a mother. I am a musician and a loyal friend. I am an estranged sibling, the black sheep of my family, and the life of the party. I am a sinful saint, a reliable employee, and a quiet neighbor. I am a survivor of domestic abuse, a recipient of grace, and the favorite "daycare mom." I suspect each of these roles has contributed to the number of X's that have surpassed my number of chins in some way.
 
Worry solves nothing. Striving hasn't worked either. So, just for now, I'm going to become my own best friend. I'm going to buy clothes that fit, and look in the mirror before I leave the house. I'm going to buy scarves to cover the tags that pop up and tell people how many X's I wear. I'm going to strive to be a better me, one orthopaedic appointment at a time.
 
I have taken a second look at my family heritage scrapbook. I notice that I come from a long line of large ladies. I also notice that their weight decreases as they progress into the post-menopausal years. So here I am, telling myself this condition is both genetic and temporary. I will survive this like I've survived all the other hard chapters: through Christ, who strengthens me.
 
Skip the cookie, but not the cream - the coffee must still taste great! Eat more soup, make more poop. Play PokΓ©mon Go with the 5-year-old - who cares why I'm walking?! Spend time at the park: swinging is great for the abs! The excess of X's shall pass; meanwhile ... I've got enough meat on my bones to ground me through the upcoming tornado season! Positive thoughts yield positive results, right?
 
 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

"Never Unfriended" - It's As Great As It Sounds!

It was a simple comment on a devotional, typed from my desk at the office. I truly didn't think I even had a chance of being selected for the Book Launch Team... but I felt impressed to share my heart on the subject of community. That's the funny thing about women: we often get used to rejection, but are somehow determined to conquer it.

The Book Launch invitation came with a digital sample of Lisa-Jo Baker's book, Never Unfriended. I had read no further than the first paragraph of the introduction before I was hooked! When I read the following quote, I knew this book would be one of those rare, life-changing reads:

"We want to matter to the people we think matter."
 
I had spent my entire life trying to matter:
  • To my father, who always chose my sister when each parent took one sibling
  • To the one schoolteacher who understood the depths of my sorrow after my grandfather passed, but excluded me from attending her wedding
  • To the cousin who took my only sibling for a one-on-one drive when he got his driver's license
  • To the boy who called me "Darling", but didn't respect my moral boundaries
  • To the man I first chose as my husband and father to my children, who beat me mercilessly while pursuing other women
  • To my step-daughter, whose attachment issues magnified my own inadequacies
  • To anyone. Anyone at all.
 
Never Unfriended unfolded like the pages of an old journal. It spoke of friendship PTSD, of the fear of being and/or welcoming the new girl, and of unresolved conflict. My life was nothing if not a series of all of the above! The sting of rejection and fear of conflict had led me to abandon a number of relationships to avoid more of either. This book is a manual for people who, like me, have grown tired of trying.
 

If you think you are alone in your friendship frustrations, please read Never Unfriended. Rays of hope shine from every page as Lisa-Jo Baker shares both her wounds and steps to healing. Tears will fall and spirits will rise as you read a book that ministers so deeply to the heart that it is impossible to put down. Never Unfriended has traveled with me to the lunchroom, to the bathroom, and to a hotel room. It will continue to travel in my heart.

I am so grateful to have been chosen as part of the Book Launch Team for Never Unfriended! I have been blessed by the fellow Team members, who shared stories, graphics and prayers. Authors like Lisa-Jo Baker, who come alive on the page and seem to sip your coffee with you as you read, are rare treasures. I see every woman through new eyes: I understand now that the challenge is the same for all of us - it is merely our reactions that differ.
 

Near the beginning, the author writes, "No one can make us quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman." The remaining pages are a road map to this eloquent statement near the end of the book: "Our business is to believe the best about people. We are not their judge, their jury, and we are certainly not their god. We are intended to be their blessing. On purpose."
 
My heart's desire is still to matter - but not to the people I think matter. I want to matter because I have made the world a warmer place with friendship offered freely.
 
 



Monday, 13 March 2017

"I Have Nobody!"

Our youngest child has been described by his siblings as "spoiled", due largely in part to the age difference of 12 years between himself and the next youngest. I suppose the loss of his sister to adoption has played a tremendous role as well; we have learned the value of every moment together. So it is that I often find myself in my "baby" boy's room at night.

Bedtime is for reading, tickling, talking about his day and sometimes singing. It's for shadow puppets and knock-knock jokes and lots and lots of cuddles. It's for building pillow-and-blanket forts and for strip-dancing and for wrestling with the puppy. Bedtime is for anything except sleep ... until it's time for sleep. When my skin is soaked with sweat from the little person seemingly Velcro'd to me, I sneak out for one last cup of coffee and some reading before sneaking quietly to my own bed.

"Momma!" came the cry, in the middle of the night.

"What?!" I responded, haggard from a particularly challenging day.

Silence. Then muffled cries.

Haphazardly falling out of bed, I grabbed my favorite body pillow for the trip. I shuffled through the hallway to his bedroom, and was shocked to hear how distressed my boy actually was. "What do you need?" I asked him.

"Momma," he sobbed, "I have no one!"

Ouch. I could physically feel my heart breaking. "Yes, you do, buddy - you have me! I'm here."

And for the first time in all my life I understood how Scripture could compare God to a mother. How many times have we tearfully screamed "I have nobody!" even as He came to comfort us? There is never a time I will abandon my boy - though he is truly no longer a baby. How much more, then, does God long to shelter us in His heart, protected under His loving arms?

You are never alone. You are seen, known, and beloved of God. And if you need a "Jesus with skin on", you've got me. Let's sip a coffee together ... even if only virtually. Prayers that are whispered on Earth still echo in Heaven. Leave your name in the comments if you need me to send up a whisper for you today. <3

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

THE PERFECT STORM

We're experiencing the perfect storm on the prairies today. A travel-advisory, slippery, white-out conditions, old-fashioned blizzard. And if I were honest, I would tell you this has been the most soul-soothing day I have experienced in some time.

I grew up in the back woods of Canada's east coast. Driving winding country roads, hiking forest trails, swimming at the base of waterfalls and drinking from babbling brooks were integral parts of my childhood and teen years.

Early in my marriage and motherhood years, I moved to another province. Although time in the forest was less available, I spent more time on the shores of the ocean. The sound of the waves, the smell of the salt, the feel of warm sand, and the sight of sunrise/sunset over the endless motion of the waves? Well, this became my "thing" - my rescue when my soul craved peace and healing.

Moving to the prairies was a huge adventure, and at first was the change we needed. Over the past year, though, I have begun to struggle. There is neither forest nor ocean, and my line of work means summer is my busy season. There is no time for the soul food offered by being in nature. I'm drowning in thin air.

Until yesterday. In the middle of winter. In the middle of a closed-door, boardroom training session. There was a knock, news of being sent home early -  a blizzard making roada a safety risk. A nerve-wracking drive to a neighboring town to pick up our youngest from school. And then?

Wind. Glorious, rushing wind! The kind of wind that doesn't gust in quick bursts - rather, it howls up the length of the street. From any seat or bed on the north side of our home, an incoming wind "gust" sounds exactly like an incomimg tidal wave. I can close my eyes in our ocean-themed, northside bedroom and imagine I'm riding a wave. So soothing!

It has been a haunting 10 days of memories from the past. Our family has been contacted by people whose very names add an element of stress to any conversation. Some of it may be an answer to prayer: there are always hard roads to walk between hurt and healing. Knowing the wind and water have always been a salve to my soul, the Maker has sent me a perfect storm.

I have spent today reading, sipping coffee and snuggling my littlest person. Outside the window, the town is basically a sea of white. A windswept sea. A storm designed for me. I am so blessed!


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Forty Is Fabulous!

Y'all, I have got to try to put my excitement into words right now!

Today, I am 40 years old - a landmark which I have been so excited to reach! (I know, I'm weird ... and I'm OK with it.) But so much is happening so quickly that I can already tell this will be a wonderful decade for me, even if it is cut short by the end of the world. :)

My best friend randomly called a couple of days ago and asked if I've read Lysa Terkeurst's new book, "Uninvited." Although I've read plenty of excerpts online and fought the urge to order it on my credit card, I have not yet read the book. This was great news to Sara, who simply responded, "Good! I'm sending it to you; happy birthday. We're going to read it together." I was so excited! This goes well with the call I have been feeling to deepen relationships.

To add to that, I opened my e-mail yesterday to find I had been invited to participate in a book launch. Somehow, God thought it would be funny to launch me from 4.5 years of no close relationships into a season of opportunity that blows me completely away. The name of the book is "Never Unfriended" - so you just know it's going to be full of nuggets to bless my life! :)

Today, during a rare zero-work-on-my-desk moment, I pulled out the copy of Ann Voskamp's "The Broken Way" from my purse. An excerpt from today's chapter reads, "Every soul ... wants to experience a powerful connection. We want to be fully seen and experienced by Someone ... we want to know the wonder of being intimately known." Have more accurate words ever been written? And has anything ever been more timely?





Ten years ago, I was in isolation in a Children's Hospital room with my son. We were both fighting influenza A; my boy nearly lost that battle. I have joked a number of times that it was a pretty clear indicator of how the next decade would go: a struggle to be sure! How blessed I am today, then, to begin a new decade in a state of being seen, known, and understood. Each person in the book launch group has a heart wish exactly like mine: deeper connections.

If there's anything I know, it's that life is about seasons. I feel like I am entering a season of realizing hopes and dreams. I welcome new experiences, new friendships, and restoration in wounded places. I am grateful to have a few close friends along for the journey, and look forward to blessing others as I grow.

Yaaaayyyy! :-)

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I AM SEEN


I am busy and tired. I pray every day; I ask God to lead me in His favor. I don't have time to read my Bible and journal ... maybe later.

I am interrupted and startled. I am stopped in my tracks. I can't breathe. I need wisdom. Anxiety creeps in, and so does shame. I am on a roller coaster of emotions; I want off.

I am busy. I am trying to stay busy so I don't have time to think. I am hurt. A coworker hugs me and I begin to sob. I am a mess. I am hurting and afraid and ashamed and excited and ... I feel alone.

I deactivate my main social media account. I log into an old account. There it is: a rference to El Roi - the God who sees me. I must make time to hear His voice. 

I reach for my journal. I search today's Bible reading online.  

 "Then Balaam gave this message:
“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
    the message of a man who sees clearly;
16 this is the message of a man who hears the words of God.
    I know well the Most High God.
I see a vision from the Almighty,
    and my eyes are open as I fall before him." (Numbers 24:15 NCV)

Switch to 1 Corinthians 13; wait ... isn't this "the love chapter"? Yes, but look - right at the end. Verse 12 says, "...Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me."

There it is. Balaam hears God, and sees Him clearly. God sees ME ... but am I seeing Him? Oh that my heart would learn to run to Him instead of running from life! That I may know Him!

No God, no peace; know God, know peace. 

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the reminder. Anxieties melt and shame is covered and peace descends like a serene fog. You see me. You are with me. El Roi.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

What's Challenging Me


 
I am currently reading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. I ordered it after seeing a post on social media regarding the use of politics to distract people from the truly important things in life. I am a bit blown away by the fact that something written so long ago is so relevant to today's society.
 
The photos above are taken from the third letter in the book. It struck me that if the patient and his mother were replaced by a husband and wife, it could easily resemble my home on many occasions. It seems that we know how to push each other's buttons, and too often we resemble the remark, "Some people create their own storm, then complain when it rains."
 
I am taking this as a wake-up call. I will be more careful with words and hearts. I will be conscious of the fact that there are spirits at work that would destroy us all by creating conflict where there really isn't any. There are tired bodies and exhausted voices more often than there are mean-spirited, anger-inducing bullies. Choosing to respond, rather than react, can make all the difference.
 
Let's change our domestic worlds. One conversation at a time.
 
Cheers,
Vicki

99 Things No One Needs To Know (About Me)

new
1:Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? Either/or
2:Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotel? Yes - they're perfect when camping!
3:Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out? Out, so they can wrap my frozen feet
4:Have you ever stolen a street sign before? No ... but I know people who have. 😐
5:Do you like to use post-it notes? Like water!

6:Do you cut out coupons but then never use them? Rarely. I enjoy being thrifty. πŸ˜‰
7:Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of a bees? Neither? But bees are better than bears when forced to choose.
8:Do you have freckles? Yes. More as I age.
9:Do you always smile for pictures? No. I focus on getting only one chin in the picture. πŸ˜‚
10:What is your biggest pet peeve? Rudeness
11:Do you ever count your steps when you walk? No. But I know people who do ... πŸ˜‰
12:Have you ever peed in the woods? Yes - only city slickers haven't. 
13:What about pooped in the woods? More than once. Don't judge me. 
14:Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing? Yes - but only when nobody's watching. 😁
15:Do you chew your pens and pencils? Yes. 
17:What size is your bed? Not big enough for two parents, a kid and a dog! 😁 Queen size. 
18:What is your Song of the week? Over the mountains and the seas, Your river runs with love for me...
19:Is it okay for guys to wear pink? Always.
20:Do you still watch cartoons? As often as possible 
21:What's your least favorite movie? Bridge over the River Kwai
22:Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some? In my bra - nobody ever looks there! πŸ˜‚ Or in the compost heap with worms and spiders.
23:What do you drink with dinner? Water
24:What do you dip a chicken nugget in? Sweet & sour sauce or mayo
25:What is your favorite food? French fries and/or ice cream
26:What movies could you watch over and over and still love? Stepmom, Fiddler On The Roof, Steel Magnolias, The Titanic
27:Last person you kissed/kissed you? My 5 yr old 😍
28:Were you ever a boy/girl scout? No.
29:Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine? Not enough money in the world!
30:When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper? A week or two ago - part of my efforts to be more connected.
31:Can you change the oil on a car? You bet I can! Courtesy of my college boyfriend, who was a (very patient) mechanic. πŸ˜€
32:Ever gotten a speeding ticket? Several. NOTE: Never try to outrun the police, and NEVER respond to "Do you know how fast youbwere going?" with "Obviously too fast if you're here." 
33:Ever ran out of gas? I am anal about not letting the needle dip below half, so ... no.
34:Favorite kind of sandwich? Bologna, cucumber and bacon bits. Stop judging!
35:Best thing to eat for breakfast? Eggs (over easy) with hashbrowns, cheese and apple juice
36:What is your usual bedtime? Any time after 8 p.m.
37:Are you lazy? Yes, but I'm working on it. 
38:When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween? We didn't participate in Halloween.
39:What is your Chinese astrological sign? 
40:How many languages can you speak? I speak English and sarcasm. 
41:Do you have any magazine subscriptions? Yes. I'm a sucker for magazine fundraisers.
42:Which are better legos or lincoln logs? Equally delightful! But Legos are slightly more encouraging of imagination.
43:Are you stubborn? Yes. Otherwise I might have stopped with 20 questions. πŸ˜‰
44:Who is better…Leno or Letterman? No idea
45:Ever watch soap operas? No - I couldn't watch hem and be a good mom.
46:Are you afraid of heights? On a bridge or balcony, yes. In a glass elevator, no. 
47:Do you sing in the car? Yes. I prefer this over conversation 95% of the time.
48:Do you sing in the shower? Yes. It helps me stay positive.
49:Do you dance in the car? Yes. Which may be what hppened to our suspension. πŸ˜‚
50:Ever used a gun? I have zero trust in myself with a gun, so ... no.
51:Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer? 8 months ago
52:Do you think musicals are cheesy? I love musicals!
53:Is Christmas stressful? Yes
54:Ever eat a pierogi? Too many!
55:Favorite type of fruit pie? Coconut cream
56:Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid? Nurse, preacher's wife, concert pianist
57:Do you believe in ghosts? Yes
58:Ever have a Deja-vu feeling? Yes
59:Take a vitamin daily? No
60:Wear slippers? Yes - with orthotics inside πŸ˜•
61:Wear a bath robe? Nope
62:What do you wear to bed? Depends on the night 
64:Wal-Mart, Target or Kmart? Giant Tiger 
65:Nike or Adidas? Neither
66:Cheetos Or Fritos? Cheetos
67:Peanuts or Sunflower seeds? Peanuts.
68:Ever hear of the group Tres Bien? Non C'est bien?
69:Ever take dance lessons? No. It's why I dance alone.
70:Is there a profession you picture your future spouse doing? I have no future spouses, haha
71:Can you curl your tongue? No. 
72:Ever won a spelling bee? Never had the opportunity - but I would definitely win.
73:Have you ever cried because you were so happy? Yes. Right now, because we are nearing the end of these questions.
74:Own any record albums? Several - none of which my friends are familiar with. πŸ˜‚
75:Own a record player? Yes - and it works!
76:Regularly burn incense? No - allergies and asthma limit the usage of these
77:Ever been in love? A few times. One was forbidden, one married me on a bet, one wasn't ready, and one has managed to love me for 16 years now. :-)
80:Hot tea or cold tea? Either/or
81:Tea or coffee? Coffee, green tea, mocha or London Fog - all winners :-)
82:Sugar or snickerdoodles? What is a snickerdoodle?
83:Can you swim well? Yes, and I float even better! πŸ˜‚
84:Can you hold your breath without holding your nose? Yes.
85:Are you patient? NO! Which is why it's amazing I'm still answering these questions.
87:Ever won a contest? Yes. Also, currently winning the popular parent contest at daycare. #WhatRealWinningLooksLike
88:Ever have plastic surgery? No, but I'd make a great candidate. πŸ˜‰
89:Which are better black or green olives? Black
90:Can you knit or crochet? I can do both. #BecauseImCoolLikeThat
91:Best room for a fireplace? Tossup between living room and bedroom
92:Do you want to get married? Never again. Unless it's Russ Taff.
93:If married, how long have you been married? Almost 12 years on paper; 16 at heart.
94:Who was your HS crush? David Leblanc
95:Do you cry and throw a fit until you get your own way? No - I find the silent treatment more effective. 😁
96:Do you have kids? Yes. 
97:Do you want kids? I would love to foster, but my husband disagrees. So we're waiting on grandkids. 😍
98:Whats your favorite color? Yellow or peach for decorating, blue or black for wearing
99:Do you miss anyone right now? So many people! Especially my adopted mom. πŸ˜‡