Friday, December 28, 2012

A Tree Full of Memories

One of our Christmas traditions is to buy an ornament each year to mark something memorable that occurred during the year. It makes putting up the tree something of a walk down memory lane. Here's just a few that I photographed...one of my goals this year is to get better at taking photos and actually using them, rather than leaving them on the card in the camera.
I hope you had a lovely Christmas! 
Happy New Year to each of you from all of us.
Jason, Shelly, Aidan and Easton Van Binsbergen




Canadiana Christmas ~ a hockey playing Santa, a Tim Horton's pot of coffee and my favourite hockey team logo.

A Delft pottery ornament from our '95 trip to Holland

A felted mitten from our first Christmas in the prairies '93 and a little church to commemorate
our first pastoring job in Kelowna, BC in '94

Spiderman~ he's been around since '94 or so. Jason's favourite ornament.

A cardinal and a snowman ~ one of our first white Christmases

A terracotta ball from Ensenada, Mexico where we spent a fun week with Lisa and Misty and the
Moss family at the YWAM base there.

A favourite little owl ornament that came home from work at Pier 1.

A felted stocking and Delft "Sinter Klaas" from Holland

A French Noel for the boys' enrolment in French Immersion 

...and lastly, just a little evidence that Santa really was here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Our Home to Yours


Merry Christmas to each of you...thank you for reading along and particularly for your messages and comments. This has been a really full year for us. The joy and the heartbreak, the longing for Africa and the coming home, the time with loved ones here and away.  For all this we are really, really thankful for it has made us feel truly alive.

Be good to one another and include yourselves in that. It's not easy living in a world so broken and so scattered...yet, we do, so we just continue on...doing our best to make it a better place.

Much love, Shelly, Jason, Aidan and Easton Van Binsbergen

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Note to Self

Check the news this morning, then turn it off.  Go play with the kids. Go watch a TimBits hockey game or a tykes soccer game. Bake some cookies and take them to Ronald McDonald House. Take the dog to the dog park. No one is ever sad at the dog park.  Nothing is new this morning. Our world is still  broken. Don't fixate on it. Fix what you can.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Life's Like That

It shouldn't be ... but it is. Today's heartbreaking news out of Connecticut of an entire class of kindergartners being shot along with teachers and school principal has me, again, scraping the recesses of my mind for some sort of sense.

I can't imagine the call to the parents telling them the school was on lockdown, the adrenaline charged race to the school to pick up your child...and to have to leave empty handed...knowing your little one is no longer there in spirit but that his or her broken little body lies where it fell. And will lie there. Until there are enough answers to release the empty vessel that was once the chatter in the backseat, the footsteps on the stairs each night asking for another glass of water or another tuck in and the warm vibrancy that echoed around the dinner table with stories and fantasies, complaints and questions.

And I force myself to think that at one time, a man, not much more than a boy himself, was likely all those things in his home as well.

I got goosebumps early in the day hearing that an entire kindergarten class was unaccounted for as parents raced to a nearby firehouse to be reunited with their children.

I cried when I heard stories of teachers ushering children out of the building, hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them, eyes closed to protect innocent minds from having to process more details of horror.

I can hardly breathe hearing political rhetoric and posturing on a day where no one can dispute, the right to bear arms cost America a good chunk of its future today.  At one point, I remembered my kindergarten class photo and thought of the people we are today. We are geologists and hockey coaches, bakers and mothers, philanthropists and landscape architects. We're mothers, fathers, sisters and son-in-laws. What would the world have missed if we had been erased in one violent action? It's unimaginable because we can't begin to foresee the ripple effect such a gaping hole will leave, not only in one small town but across the world.

My writing has been a roller coaster lately, big dreams and heart aches. The inspiration of amazing women in my life and the despair over children running in the Congo from rebels. I can't help thinking of the kids in the Congo today. I imagined that at worst, it was maybe 45 of the worst minutes of these kids' lives in Conneticut. It is gut wrenching and it makes us all want to hold our kids closer. And yet...how does that compare to children in areas like Syria or Goma that have to be constantly vigilant because of the ever present threat of the same type of violence. Unwarranted. Unimaginable. What is it in our minds that allows us to grieve so openly for children shot in their schoolroom, as well we should, but not for those that are fleeing barefoot and hungry into dark night ahead of hordes of rebel murderers. Or the audacity to think they are different circumstances.

I don't understand myself. I don't. I know that this week, I have been dreaming of big and beautiful things only to be caught once again by a wave of grief and disbelief at the violence of our world. How can such beauty and disturbance coexist. I don't know. I just know they do. And we are at the mercy of the wave of emotions that accompany each. When it's beautiful, it's our job to pass it on. When it's not, it's our obligation to bring it back around.

So, tonight. All I can think of is fighting despair with gratitude. For my own family and the monotony of a regular Friday at school for the boys. For dinner tonight and hockey this weekend. For the beautiful stories of teachers speaking words of love and reading books behind locked doors to frightened children. I'm thankful for the beauty of each reunited family even in the midst of grieving for those who won't have that chance tonight.

I'm praying. I don't feel like it can really make a difference tonight. But feeling or not, I'm choosing to believe it will.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dreaming Big for 2012

I was one of those mothers this morning...pushed the snooze alarm 10 or 15 times too many and dragging myself out of bed far too late to accomplish any kind of decent morning routine. My exhaustion this week is not entirely to blame on lack of sleep.  The temperatures dipping down to the -20's and the foot and a half of snow and morning darkness have all conspired to make me want to stay in bed, covers over my head and ignore the nagging, nagging, constant nagging of responsibility that says I need to get my kids to school and myself to work. I roused the boys who are as resistant as I to the morning cheerfulness that I'm sure other families enjoy in their lovely households. Easton's first response in the morning is usually something akin to "I hate my life" or "Go awaaaaaaay, this is mean" or the traditional "school is sucking my life away". Regardless, lights on and into Aidan's room where I send Charlie in ahead of me every morning. She sniffs his exposed feet that poke out the end of his blankets while his head is completely covered by the blankets. I turn on his light and tell him it's time to get up and then get out before the growling begins.

In the time between breakfast eaten and lunches packed, I run out to warm up the car and scrape windows in boots and pyjamas and I realize I will have to take the boys to school so they're not late (ahem...again) and then come home and get myself ready. So, pale faced and dishevelled, bed head and pyjama pants with boots, I am a cover girl for style and fashion ... half jokingly praying that this is not the morning that I get in an accident because explaining how I put this outfit together may be the least of my worries on my way to the hospital or psychiatric ward.

Driving back home, car now somewhat warm, I think back to last night's festivities. It was a book club turned dance party in which we test drove our hostess' new sound system with the Black Eyed Peas and the three over 70's in our book club, proceeded to school the 40's of us how to party. They danced and danced, jumped and gyrated and hardly skipped a beat. If I grow into my 40's with as much energy as these ladies have at 60+10 or so...I'm going to be pretty proud of myself. While I'm running kids to school in my pyjamas and boots, these ladies are up and playing seniors tennis competitively. They are amazing! They bring such vibrancy to our discussions and as the wine flows and ladies talk, I find myself so honoured to be part of such a group. More than just a book club, these ladies have become the marker for many of the characteristics I want to develop in myself. I realize that once again, I am so very fortunate to be surrounded by women that really exemplify beauty and life. Over the years, in the loneliest days of moving to and from places, there have been really hollow times where most of my energies were spent on looking back with longing and grieving what I'd lost.

This morning, the thoughts I've had looking back still included longing for continued friendships and depth of relationships despite distance but grief has been replaced by gratitude and looking ahead.
These thoughts and gratitude have brought me to a place where I realize I have some astounding connections with such a huge variety of women (and men...but I'm talking Girl Power here to some extent) that I was wondering if we could leverage some of those relationships into something that once again is vibrant and active. And if those relationships leveraged other relationships...well, the idea is that once we engage, and start rolling...what could stand in our way?

So. Friends. Facebook contacts and front porch dwellers. Book club members past and present. Youth group girls grown into women and raising their own kids and making their own way. Women that walked a few years ahead of me but took the time to walk slowly and clear a path and leave good directions along the way for me to follow. High school friends. Bridesmaids. Fellow backpackers and cousins twice removed by marriage. Pastors wives. Hockey moms. Artists and writers. And anyone else that may at one time found themselves with me sharing coffee, water or farther back, Rockaberry Coolers. On buses, on planes, on chairlifts and trains...in school rooms, hospital rooms, college or high school class rooms, in my living room or on Skype...however we've found ourselves in some way connected and kept it together, however loosely....this is for you.

An invitation is coming.

To dream big. While we're awake and alive. And to take that invitation into this coming year and make a difference in the lives of others.  Most of all, it will enhance your own. In ways you probably never dreamed yet. But you will.

Your invitation will arrive in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. Crank the tunes. Dance while you wait.
Anticipate and then participate.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On Behalf of the DRC

 I am tired of my own inner voice right now. The one that is constantly pushing me to check the news and catch up on what is happening in and around Goma, DRC right now. The voice that tells me to keep my eyes open and let my heart ache when all I want to do is turn and run for the pantry. I'm tired of living with half my heart here and the other half spread out over the African continent, with pieces in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia. There's seemingly not enough to stretch to the DRC and maybe that's what the pain is...that stretching of my heart to encompass as much of the DRC as I can fill it with.

I'm not going to lie, yesterday, I read the news and thought about the kids and care workers in the areas where the rebels are retreating to...and I could not even muster prayer. I crawled into my unmade bed at 5 pm and slept fitfully for an hour and a half. I wanted to pray. I just didn't have words or even sounds anymore for the things I'm asking of God. Why is it so difficult when I am in the comfort of my own home, to find the words to speak on behalf of those who don't have the luxury of resting. Hungry. Cold. Thirsty. Tired...so very tired. And terrified. That those around them that claim in the media to have their best interests at heart, in reality are raping, traumatizing and destroying those they claim to be there to protect.

What is my role in this if I can't even muster the words to pray? I'm relying on the idea that tears can be translated.

Conflicted

My heart wants roots.
My mind wants wings.
I can not bear
Their bickering.

E.Y.Harding