Narnia…

This morning it is snowing outside..light, fluffy flakes that just seem to drift down so effortlessly. It is incredibly beautiful, and something so foreign to home that it never ceases to enchant me.

Every time we drive into Lachlan Lane (the main road into the house – yes, named after our Lachie), the snow takes my breath away. In fact, I am in awe of God’s creation – the way the snow sets on the trees, the trees hanging over the road with the weight of the snow, the white and soft looking surroundings. My inner child comes out, and I just want to lay down in it, to roll around in what looks like a smooth, soft blanket! I am reminded again and again of C.S Lewis’ description of Narnia when Lucy first enters through the wardrobe, and declares it is a ‘magical’ place. Exactly.

On the road into the house..

Snow covered trees

And yet, when the sun breaks through, and shines into the snow  – making it sparkle and glisten, the idea of the winter breaking in Narnia, and the spring coming – celebrating new life, and beauty, is created. These days of snow and sun are beautiful. Almost like God’s hand breaking through the grey sky, showing us yet again that He is here, marvelling in His own creation.

Sun through the trees

The blue sky on the way in...

Another one!

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A quick update!

I thought I’d give a quick update on what we have been up to, since my last post!

We spent the weekend in Brockville – for those of you who don’t know, this is where Caleb lived for 7 years. He worked at the church there, and his friends here are people who he regularly keeps in contact with. We spent two nights with our Cosgrove family – such a special time. They have 5 kids, the eldest McCaila turned 16, and we were delighted to be able to celebrate with them on Friday night. On Saturday night we went to the church for Christmas Lane – this is a production they do where you drive through a series of reenactments, and listen to a C.D playing the Christmas story on your way. Caleb has been invovled in this every year when on staff, but had never actually been through it as a member of the public, and I had never seen anything like it! It was actually pretty special! We then went and got a hay ride which took us through again – very cool on horses in the snow! Hot chocolate was the go for the way home! Kimberley and I, then left the men watching the UFC (and all the kids in bed), and went to the movies. We saw ‘Burlesque’ with Cher and Christina Ajuilera. I had no idea what it was about, and was pleasantly surprised. In fact, it was really good! If you love musicals, it is fabulous! We then spent a night with some other friends, Rick and Anita, and saw Sarah and Stu for dinner. Again, another great night. Caleb and I were both chatting on the way home about how good it is to be here, and picking up with people as if we hadn’t been away! Treasured friendships indeed for Caleb, and people who have embraced me with love and generosity since I came!

The Angels in the lane...

The Inn...

We got back to Westmeath on Monday and were suprised by how much snow they had had here! The rounds and trees were covered – incredibly beautiful! On Tuesday Cathie and I went into Cobden, a town about 30mins away, to attend her Quilters Guild’s, Christmas lunch. Although, I was the youngest there by far, it was nice to have lunch wth Cathie and her friends, as well as see some great projects from the ladies. I gathered many ideas thats for sure!

The house covered with snow...

On Wednesday, we took the kids up to Pembroke (the nearest major town  – bout 45mins too), to do some shopping and to get their picture with Santa. Unfortunately Santa was having a sleep in so didn’t arrive till later! Cathie and Doug met us and took the boys out to lunch and then home, while Caleb, Jer and I took Jean (Caleb’s Grandma) out for lunch. We took her to a little place in her town, owned by a lovely lady called Lilly. She is so friendly, knew we had arrived and was super excited to see us (I think more the boys, than us – we assured her we would go in again with them!). It is always lovely to come back here and have people remember you, and Lilly is one of these people. She knew our names, the kids, their ages – obviously talked about a lot in our absence!

My big boy...

The boys have been great. Lachie just loves the snow and is constantly wanting to play outside. He loves to get rugged up and go out! Hamish is going well – getting bigger! His top teeth are down and he is loving the attention at all places! He is not sleeping brilliantly (Lachie plays so hard in the day that he is out all night!), but better then last week! He is busy moving around, pulling himself up and cruising around furniture! They are being loved and spoilt by everyone!

We have been playing a lot of Settlers – the board game, and so after dinner, with the boys in bed, we usually play a game or two! Caleb has been on a bit of a winning streak (much to my dismay!) and continually seems to be the reigning ‘Lord of Catan’! It is a great game – and a fun thing to do together!

Thursday morning we went out for breakfast with Doug’s family – his two sisters, brother, their partners, as well as a few of their grandkids. We hadn’t seen them yet, and was great to catch up with them. The little girls (most are around Lachie’s age) had all grown up and it was fun to see them all interacting together. We will see them all again on boxing day, and hopefully again before we leave. They are all great people – and it is always nice to be with them. We then went and visited Art and Amy Maeves – (Caleb’s good friend Andrew’s parents!). We saw them last trip and really wanted to make sure we spent some time with them this time as well. They loved meeting Hamish, and seeing how big Lachie was! Caleb is going to take the boys up to them again on Saturday which will be good  – it was a blessing to see them.

Yesterday afternoon we all went for a walk to the cottage – it was cold, but so nice to get out! When rugged up, you really don’t feel the cold, and it is nice to breathe in the crisp air! Caleb got out the four wheeler and took Lachie for some rides, and we dragged Hamish around in the ‘baby’ sled! He fell off twice, face planting in the snow – he didn’t love this! Today I think he may have a touch of frost bite on his cheeks, as a couple of little red patches have shown themselves!

Hamish and I in the cottage

Everyone and Lola

Hamish all rugged up!

The Four-Wheeler!

Lachie and his ear muffs!

Today we are off into Ottawa to visit another friend of Caleb’s from bible college, and tomorrow Cathie and I are having a craft day with her friend Judy, and her daughter Sarah! Fun…fun…!

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#2 Lesson from Canada

In Winter, never assume you can go anywhere!

The weather channel in Canada, is probably the most watched station around. Why? you Aussie’s ask – well, because everything depends on it! On Saturday, Caleb was going to drive to Toronto for the night to watch the UFC, but due to the freezing rain, and snow storms forecast, he decided not too! On Sunday, we were meant to meet friends in Ottawa, and travel back with them to Caleb’s home…due to the weather, they didn’t go to Ottawa, which meant we stayed another night in Brockville (a great night!). Today it snowed and snowed, which is much nicer to drive in than freezing rain, so Cathie’s and my trip into a nearby town for a Quilters lunch still went ahead! I guess flexibility is the key!

My second thing I learnt about the weather, which would be so foreign at home, is the effects of freezing weather on your car! Not only have I brushed snow off the front window, I have scrapped a sheet of ice off, and plucked ice out of the windscreen wipers! On Monday, just before we left to return home, Caleb was loading our car and realised that the back passenger door locks had actually frozen! This meant once opened, he couldn’t shut the door again! With two little ones, all bundle up ready to be put in the car, it was mildly annoying, but with the help of a trusty hair dryer, taken out to the car, the problem was quickly fixed and we were on the way!

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Snow, a museum and a birthday…

Caleb and I!

As I write this I am sitting in front of a fire, watching Caleb and Grandpa pull Lachie around outside on his little sled. He has come off a few times, but is still going – so I assume loving it!

Grandpa and Lachie playing...

Not sure what he is doing here!

This week we have been staying at Calabogie  – a ski resort near Ottawa. Unfortunately, while we have had snow each day, it has not been enough for the mountains to be open for skiing. This has not really bothered us – we have pottered around, swimming in the pool, and going on day trips to Ottawa (visiting the Museum of Nature), and into Renfrew for some shopping and lunch. It is a beautiful place, surrounded by huge snow covered mountains  – our lodge is right at the bottom of the ski slopes, so I can imagine, when in its busy peaks, seeing huge amounts of skiers outside! When we arrived, there were skido races happening on the mountain – great entertainment for a 3 year old!

Our lodge, with ski fields in the background...

Lachie and I in the Dinosaur exhibition at the Natural Museum

One very happy Hamish at the Museum

Lachie and Caleb in the 'Bird' gallery...

Jer and I, somewhere in the Museum

Cathie and Hamish - riding in the kiddie transport!

Today we had a birthday celebration for Caleb’s grandma and Lachie (another one!) and tomorrow we are off to Brockville (Caleb’s town where he worked and lived after leaving bible college). We are both (Caleb overly!) looking forward to seeing good friends there and sharing some special times with them.

Lachie and Grandma Jean

'Happy Birthday'...

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# 1 Lesson from Canada

So today I learnt a simple lesson…never leave wipes in the car whilst in Canada!

Why you ask? Today, it was -12, and that was at midday! I went to change Hamish’s nappy, whilst out at lunch. I took the nappies and wipes in from the car (they were in over night), and to my delight (!), they were frozen solid! Oh dear! Lucky (although not as nice for the little one) there was paper towel on hand!

So, lesson learnt – take everything in from the car!

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Oh Canada…

Well, we have arrived! It is wonderful to finally be here…a long flight and 4 very tired people later, we made it!

Things always seem worse in your head – and this journey was no exception (or maybe, subconciously we build them up to be worse in our head, so that when they are good, it is like a bonus!). The dreaded 14 hour plane flight to Vancouver, with two little gorgeous, but active boys was relatively painless. There were so many kids on this flight – many sympathetic smiles! Both boys slept for a good part of this leg of the journey (although with a child asleep on each of us, it is safe to say Caleb and I didn’t!), and were easily entertained for the other! The lay-over in Vancouver, was simply enough time for us to walk through customs, grab our luggage, re-load it, and walk to the gate and hop on the plane. On this flight, Lachie charmed the pants off everyone, by being terribly excited about having a window seat, and exclaiming loudly things like…”look daddy, a wing”, or “woah!” on take off, to “look a car” (even though we were way too high for that!). Hamish, was simply Hamish and smiled and cooed at every flight attendant at just the right time! All, in all, the flights went well (thank you for your prayers!). It was a long time, and I was desperately tired by the end, but having done this journey twice now with kids, I know that the flights always end, and that if I simply realise I will get no sleep, nor watch a whole movie through easily, then it is a lot easier!

Lachie was amazing throughout the whole process. He wheeled his little bag through every check point, and every airport. He never wanted us to help him, but felt so grown up wheeling it himself. His only real melt down happened in Vancouver, after the 14 hour flight, when he had to put his bag through the scanner. He didn’t want it to be taken from him and was so tired, he could just not logically understand that it would come back to us!

Me and the boys, before the plane rides! (at the amazing Macca's inside the International Airport!)

 

Lachie, loving his window seat!

It was so lovely to see Doug, Cathy, and Jer, and after stopping for dinner on the way home, we arrived! We all had a great sleep and woke this morning about 9am to a waffle breakfast! Yum!

Lachie, who developed a ‘hero’ like love of Doug when they were here in July, stepped straight back into this at the airport, wanting him to be in the car with him, and sitting next to him all dinner! Today, he has not left his side. So far, they have walked in the woods, jumped on the tractor and bulldozer, looked at the ride on mower, ‘fished’ using a reel (down the stairs into the basement), visited Great-Grandma Jean’s new place and watched the many squirrels in the snow (well, the little bit of snow that they have!).

Lachie and Grandpa...(love the drill press!)

The weather is cold – very chilly wind, with snow storms meant to hit overnight..hopefully we will wake up to some! Lachie has loved getting dressed up in his ‘snow’ boots, jacket, scarf, beanie and mittens! While the boys went to town this afternoon, Cathy, Jean and I walked round to the cottage with Hamish. We rugged him up, looking very cute in his snow suit, and in a pram with a special baby snuggle section! He was so good too, never complaining about the cold, he simply laughed the whole way at Lola (their Golden Retriever). Hamish has already discovered the joy of feeding Lola over the side of the high chair and having her lick his fingers in delight!

So, so far…it has been like returning to another home! It is nice this time to remember the people, and places and different ways to things! Feels more and more comfortable each time I come!

Tomorrow we are off to Calabogie (a ski resort) – hopefully with some snow! We are there for a week and then off to Brockville for the weekend, so will post some more when we are home next week!

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The sanctity of marriage…

Lately, Caleb has been hearing of some of his bible college friends who were married then, and have since divorced or separated. Not just one or two, but a good number. I know of a few here too, that have married and separated within a couple of years of being married. Caleb, who has already been through this himself and realises the pain that is caused, and the long process of healing needed, was deeply saddened to hear of these couples. I too, was saddened…but for me – as I listened to him chat about these people; when they were married, and how he knew them – I silently thanked God for our marriage and prayed for strength and wisdom, so that, God willing, may never happen to us.

Caleb and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary a couple of months ago. I constantly marvel at the fact that it has been 5 years since that day, and really only 6 since we met. But it has been a great 5 years, and really I feel like I have know Caleb forever and can’t remember what it was like wihtout him!

I still remember meeting Caleb at church…we were introduced, maybe somewhat ‘set up’ by a mutual friend of ours (I’m looking at you Chris!), who was very well behaved (and I think under close watch by his lovely wife!) and left us alone without too much
hassling or matchmaking! Caleb and I went for coffee one day, the Hunter Valley after Christmas, and the Blue Mountains the next week before we knew that it was all on! In fact, I think I can pretty much say that by this time, almost a month after meeting, I knew that I would marry him. There was something different about him – a passion and zeal for life, a love of Jesus and his people, different ideas and ways of thinking, and a desire to serve Jesus with his whole life (often not conventionally at all!). The Canadian accent and spunky exterior, was a bonus!

5 years on, I love being married to him. I love waking up next to him, laughing with him (and usually at me!), I love seeing him interact with our children, and discussing our future together. For sure, some days he can drive me nuts…but then so can I to him!
What makes us work, is that these moments and subsequent chats, make us stronger and keep the desire to serve each other strong.

I have realised lately that marriage is something to be honoured, to be worked on and cared for. Like all good things, it needs to be looked after and the sanctity of it remembered constantly. I look at the marriage and model of my parents and can see over and over again how they do this, and how their love for one another, 35 years on continues to strengthen!

Caleb is my best friend. He is my love. And as his wife, each day I pray that our marriage will be strong enough to face whatever comes our way. That we can rely, not only on ourselves, but on the strength and grace of Jesus. I pray that our marriage will be long, influential  to those around us and vibrant for our children – a testament and witness to God’s love.

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