saturday is a state of mind

Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Ah, Saturday. We’ve waited for you all week.

Nineteen years of school and post-secondary education have deeply engrained into my soul the concept that Saturday is a break from the regular duties of life. It is a day of limitless options when one is free to do anything; be it nothing or everything.

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Saturdays used to be a day to catch up: catch up on sleep, catch up on work, catch up on yard work, catch up on socialising. But as a parent of preschoolers, I have found that Saturday is more or less the same as all the other days. The morning hits as hard as it does during the week. The kids wake up at their usual time and they still want breakfast immediately. There are still noses to wipe, diapers to change, toast to make, peanut butter to spread. This has been a shock to my system to which I am slowly adjusting.

Sometimes it is necessary to take a break, to rest AWAY from the kids, but I’m also beginning to see that if I want to make rest a regular rhythm, I have to learn how to rest WITH my kids. I don’t know what that looks like. Maybe throwing away the to-do list and taking the time to play; just being present. But to be totally present is difficult for me when my mind is moving in 10 different directions most of the time, often feeling the pull of something else I need or want to be doing.

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Child’s play can be tiring for a couch potato like me. It’s challenging for me to level up to the children’s pace for an extended length of time. They seem to operate in perpetual motion and slow motion all at once and it leaves me dizzy. But I think somewhere in my children’s carefree existence and lack of agenda lies the secret of the Saturday State of Mind. They don’t know what time it is and they have no choice but to trust that their needs will be met. The fact that they are well-cared for leaves them free to enjoy life because someone Bigger is taking care of things.

So how can I rest when I am that someone bigger for my kids?

Because there’s someone even Bigger than me caring for us all; Christ is the presence of peace. The yoke of Jesus is easy and His burden is light. It’s the Sunday School answer and I know it’s true but I can’t say that I’ve fully understood it yet.

But I’m OK with being in progress, which is a pretty good place to start.

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Happy Saturday. Take it easy today, ok?

oaty almond cookies

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I’m in a bit of baking spree right now. I recently flipped through “Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break” at the public library which describes the Swedish custom of taking the time to enjoy your coffee along with a snack or baked treat (basically the best tradition ever). Since then I have felt quite justified, nay compelled in my desire to have a cookie with my coffee because, you know, its part of my culture.

I wanted to make cookies yesterday but I found that I was out of white flour so I was inspired to concoct the following recipe using ground oats and almonds instead. The result was surprisingly delicious (although I’m not sure how far wrong you can go when butter and sugar are involved). Here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups slivered almonds  (3/4 cup to be ground into flour, 3/4 cup to be added into the dough later)

2 3/4 cup oats (3/4 cup to be ground into “flour”, 2 cups to be added to the dough later)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2/3 cup butter (room temperature)

3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

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Preheat oven to 350 and move a rack to the top spot.

Start by grinding 3/4 cups slivered almonds and 3/4 cup of oats together in a food processor (I used a magic bullet but I imagine any blender will do) until you reach a flour-like consistency. Mix in the baking powder and salt with the almond-oat mixture.

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In a mid-sized bowl, mix together the butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla. Add your dry ingredients, the final two cups of oats, and the slivered almonds. Use a small ice-cream scooper to scoop round balls of dough (about an inch and a half in diameter) on a baking sheet. I recommend using parchment paper as the cookies are quite thin and it will be easier to remove them from the pan later.

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Place the baking sheet on the very top rack as the bottoms of the cookies can burn quite easily. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Take them out when the bottom is brown but the top still looks a bit soft and then let them sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing them.

The result should be crispy, chewy, almondy, yummy cookies. Enjoy!

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thoughts from the cave

Many fall down, 

  few return to the sunlit lands.

C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

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Greetings, friendly readers! Are you guys into the introvert/extrovert conversation? I’m pretty into it but I don’t like to admit it. On the one hand, it seems silly to try and categorize all people so diametrically but, on the other hand, it’s quite fun to talk about.

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For me, it’s a sliding scale. As a mom of three needy humans, I crave alone time more than anything. Sometimes I fantasize about going to an office job; I dream of dressing up in pleated slacks and a button down shirt and sitting at a computer doing data entry in a quiet cubicle with the occasional water-cooler conversation. I also find that the more time alone I have, the more time alone I think I need. My me-time void is bottomless.

In our house, we call it “the cave”. The cave is a metaphorical place that I go when I am alone (or sometimes when I am with other people :p); a cavern of treasures and tunnels. The more time I spend alone, the deeper I descend. I write lists, I plan various projects, I write, I make, I pretend to ignore the outside world. My cave is safe and cozy, the world outside is a troublesome inconvenience. I spelunk further in, further down, until one day I happen to look up. I look up, I look around, and I realize that I am in a dark cave all alone.

What was once a den of delight is suddenly a cage of gloom and I panic. I’m all alone! I have no friends! To which someone usually gently but firmly reminds me, “Actually you do have friends. You just need to call them every once in a while.” And following the light of this undeniable logic, I brush away the cobwebs from around me and slowly claw my way once more to the sunlit lands. There to remain until my next spelunk.

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Have you noticed that introverts love talking about being introverted? Which is funny because I would think of extroverts as being external processors. In the last few years, it has become quite popular to extol the virtues of the quiet and introspective among us which is great because they tend to need a bit of drawing out. But let’s not forget about the invaluable extrovert. I come from a social family and I think it’s safe to say that I am married to one of the most extroverted people in the world and I am daily thankful for them. They pull me out of my cave and help me to see the world through a more outward perspective.

Because I love being alone but I am not immune to loneliness. I like making new friends, I find people pleasant, I love small talk (but hate phone calls). What does that make me? An outgoing introvert? An ambivert? An introspective extrovert? An in-N-outrovert?  A french fry?

What do you think? Should introverts be left to their own resources or is it good to come out of the cave every once in a while?

life inspired: the sea in between

“When you have kids there’s this natural concern…this is going to change everything. How are we going to do what we’ve been doing? But you can do just about anything you did with kids that you did without. It’s just a lot more work.” 

Josh Garrels

I know I’m not the only person out there looking to integrate a bit more creativity into the ordinary; in light of that, I’d like to start sharing things that I’ve read or seen that have inspired me lately.

The Sea Between is a documentary about how musician Josh Garrels and his family, along with arts collective/ production house Mason Jar were all invited by the Johnson family to spend a week at their house on Mayne Island where they could enjoy the beautiful surroundings and “let art get made” despite none of them having met before.

I love this sort of “art just because” project. It’s not about making heaps of money or achieving a certain level of fame, it’s just because. I first saw this film when they screened it at Josh Garrels’ concert a couple years ago and I was quite excited to be able to watch it again when they recently posted it on youtube.

There is much to stretch out those creative mind muscles in this film: sentiments about the creative process, ambition, classical vs. personal expression, the shifting music industry, integrating creativity in family life (see above one of my favorite quotes on parenting found at the beginning of this film), and expressing faith in art. And if all that doesn’t inspire you, then I’m sure the music and beautiful scenery will. Enjoy!

the days are long but the years are short

“Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

Miss Prism (The Importance of Being Earnest)

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I love digital photography. I can take endless snapshots of pretty things and sweet moments without worrying about the cost or clutter of film and prints. Of course, the downside is that it takes me forever to get anything printed.

We have one giant family album that I’ve been working on for a while starting with our engagement photos up to the present day: The Lacasse Family Storybook. I’m at least a year behind. There are gaps where I haven’t finished putting in our wedding photos and Mabel hasn’t even made it into the album yet but the good intentions are there on the shelf. I’ll get to it eventually because I know one day my kids will pore over it the way I spent countless hours poring over the “1986” album from our family collection. It wasn’t even a baby album or mostly pictures of me but it was my year and I knew that album back to front.

The task of sifting through the thousands of photos on our various computers and devices is daunting because how can I know which are going to be the key identify-forming, story-telling images? Is it the photo of my coffee in the morning light or one of the 16 photos I just took of Addison holding Mabel because they just looked so cute? And which one of those 16 photos is it?

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Recently someone mentioned to me that they don’t really remember their kids as toddlers because they’re too busy knowing them at their current age. It makes sense. Why spend time dwelling on the way someone was in the past when you are building a relationship with them in the present? But it also totally freaks me out- the next day I took twice as many photos and videos as usual. I got Addison to take a video of me kissing Mabel and a video of me conversing with Joy about the best part of her day; the thought that I won’t remember the feeling of those soft chubby cheeks and the sound of that funny little two-year-old voice makes me feel panicky.

I take photos to hold on the ephemeral but it also acts as a way to draw my attention to all of the gifts in my life. I love scrolling through my Instagram photos, and as I relive all the moments I felt compelled to capture I am tracking our story and God’s faithfulness.

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Because the years fly by but the days are long. Long and messy and frustrating at times and, as a stay-at-home mom, I am often painfully aware of the passage of time. It races by like an unbearably long cargo train, while I sit at the crossing (probably texting my husband, asking what time he’ll be home), an observer of progress. Sometimes it feels like change is happening all around me but I’m stuck in sameness.

But God is present in the sameness. And I’m learning to trace His faithfulness in the midst of it. I must.

The days are long but the years are short. When I look back through pictures from a year, a month, even a week ago I can see how fast my children are changing. This revelation brings a twinge of sadness but also excitement for what lies ahead. With the magic of ordinary days, babyhood vanishes and is replaced with wonders anew. New words and skills are learned, new ideas formed, new stories told as the world is understood through new eyes. And as my children change from glory to glory, I hope that I am changing as well -in spite of the sameness. Not in ways that can be measured and marked on a doorframe, but in the more essential ways, those which are invisible to the eye.

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i hope i remember these days
these days of quiet busyness
these days of noisy innocence
when i was your captive audience

i hope i remember this time
this time of frantic stillness
these moments of static movements
when you were my precious vocation

 

Psalm 139:1-12

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.