Spring! (as seen by Maddie’s mom)

I have a huge fondness for wild crocuses. They are such bold little flowers, poking their heads out of the newly thawed ground and blooming before other plants even dare to sprout. But they’re not just bold, they’re smart – they guard against the early Spring cold by wearing furry coats and staying close to the ground where they’re out of the wind.

Almost everyone who grew up in my small town feels an attachment to prairie crocuses. The crocus is our provincial flower, and my hometown prides itself in being the crocus capital of Manitoba. On Sunday mornings in early Spring, we’d race across the road after church to the big field in the centre of town to see who could spot the first crocus of the season.

I’ve been longing to go crocus hunting, and yesterday, on my day off, I actually considered driving the two hours just to see if my hometown was a-bloom with crocuses. But I’d travelled on the weekend and was leaving again today, so it seemed a little frivolous and irresponsible. Instead, I did the responsible thing and made sure the family has groceries and clean clothes while I’m away.

It wasn’t ALL work, though. With such lovely weather, I couldn’t resist a visit to the labyrinth before tackling the grocery shopping.

The designers of the labyrinth filled the in-between spaces with indigenous grasses and flowers, and… guess what? There were wild crocuses in bloom! I hadn’t even thought of that when I decided to spend some time there.¬†What a pleasant surprise!

If you want to see more of the lovely labyrinth that’s just across the river from my house and is one of my favourite places for contemplation, here’s a video I made last summer.


p.s. I’m in Chicago this week, and will be sharing photos from here soon. I’ve livin’ in the lap o’ luxury this week, having been upgraded to first class accommodations. Remember the suite in Pretty Woman? It’s not quite that, but close! More on that another day.

In memory of my dad

Even though it snowed on me as I rode my bike to work this morning (arrgh!), the frogs still believe it is Spring! It was a most glorious ride home (making up for the miserable ride this morning), especially the part where I rode past the frog pond. I had to stop for a moment to listen to their chorus. It was the least I could do, in memory of my dad who taught me lessons in mindfulness by honouring the frogs every year on his calendar.

Carrying water

I didn’t go to Good Friday service today. I’m not sure why – I guess I just didn’t feel motivated to sit in a church “pew” for an hour. Instead I stayed home, had a hot bath, went for a couple of walks, made butternut squash soup… and painted.

I’ve been longing to paint ever since I finished my watercolour class, but it’s hard to find uninterrupted time in this busy life. Marcel took Maddy to his Mom and Dad’s for awhile, so it was a great opportunity to zone out and get lost in the watercolours.

I’ve wanted to paint this photo from my trip to Bangladesh since I finished my last painting. It actually fits in nicely with my last post, because the photo was taken within minutes of the two photos on the last post. As we were standing there on the bank watching the fish jump, I turned and spotted this woman walking home carrying her water jugs. It was a magical moment… silver fish jumping, a luscious green landscape, and a woman wrapped in her sari carrying one of those beautiful water jugs I kept wanting to take home with me.
As I painted, I went to that meditative place my mind always takes me when I pick up a paint brush. Gradually, the woman became for me the woman at the well to whom Jesus spoke. That’s one of my favourite Jesus stories. In two simple actions – speaking to her (despite the fact that she was a woman who was a lower social status than him and conversation with her was taboo), and asking her for water (despite the fact that she was unclean and he should not have touched her let alone drink water from her jug) – Jesus did an amazing thing. He declared her to be worthy, beautiful, and of value to him. She was a sinful, shameful, disgraced woman who believed what she had always been told by the culture around her – that she was unworthy. Yet here was a man who swept all that aside, and asked her to follow her calling – to be of service and to believe in her own value.

Stories like this remind me why I am still a Christ-follower, despite my many questions and doubts. When I don’t have all of the answers, I am reminded that I can live without them as long as I seek to live a little more like Christ. I want to be the kind of person who inspires and challenges people to believe in themself, be of service, and trust that they have value and beauty. I want to see the gem beneath the rough exterior and trust that the truth of that person is in the gem, not in the garbage that hides it.

On a somewhat unrelated note (though deeply connected), this makes me really sad. If Christ values the woman at the well, why would people who call themselves Christ-followers react in fear of people who are different from them? Why does it threaten their lives if other people simply want to live in peace with the ones they love? Christ didn’t tell the woman she had to begin following some restrictive list of rules and codes of morality, he simply invited her to see her value. I wish that we could all do the same.

When I was almost finished painting, Maddy returned and wanted to join me. Because I’d had the blessing of some quiet time without her, I was agreeable. I was rather pleased with her lovely rendition of Spring…*******
And the category of “Spring is busting out all over” here are some fun Spring pictures I took today. Today’s weather felt so hopeful. I hope it’s not just an illusion.

Friday bits and bites

At about 5:00 this morning, Maddie came into our room rather tearful and said “I figured out that I was sleeping under the bed, and now I can’t find Joe Banana.” I went to her room to help find her monkey and sure enough – her blanket was under the bed where she must have been curled up for some unknown reason. Joe Banana, however, had decided he prefered the top of the bed. Right next to his friend Lily the Bear.

I missed portfolio night at school on Tuesday because I had work commitments. Last night, Nikki went through her portfolio with me. Under “Books I’ve read on my own recently”, she had “Hanna’s suitcase, Hitler’s Childhood, Biography of Ghandi, Biography of Princess Diana, and Biography of Albert Einstein”. Do you get the sense that this girl takes after her dad in the “history buff” department? Yup, it’s true. Smile. “Mom,” she said incredulously, “most of my friends don’t even know who Ghandi is!”

The weather has been absolutely incredible here this week. Happy sigh.

Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. I’d like to get her something – sort of a peace offering to say “I really DO like you even though I don’t always act like it”, but I have no idea what to get. My sister wrote a lovely post about her.

Maybe it has something to do with Spring arriving, but I have this sudden urge to rearrange furniture. I think I’ll start with my office today. It’s a little crowded now that my bike is parked next to my desk.

I hate it when I hear that someone’s been belittling my children. Julie’s a strong girl, but some of the things that have been said to her by a respected grownup lately would make even an adult want to cry. I’m struggling with what to do about it.

I went to a friend’s art show opening yesterday. She paints wonderful colourful landscapes and florals, but my favourite pieces of hers are the art quilts (hers is the third one). There’s something about textile art that draws me in. I went home and wanted to make something with fabric. But by the time I responded to all of the needs and wants of my children, I was way too tired.

This one’s mostly for my siblings…


Ladybugs on the lawn
Pale green iris shoots poking through the dirt
Breezes lifting kites in the air
Soccer balls bouncing off the fence
Children drinking Slurpees on the front lawn
Shrimp skewers on the barbecue
The old familiar feeling of bike pedals under my feet
Spring has finally arrived!

Julie & Maddie
Nicole & Julie
Nicole & Julie

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