Franklin Five

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holes in the Heart

Tonight our house seems very quiet.  No little feet are scampering around bringing me hugs and little toys.  No women are sitting by the fire crocheting their blankets.  My daughter is back in her own room sleeping comfortably in her bed. My heart feels very full and yet a little like there is an empty space in it.

After we got home from the airport, my family and I sat around the table eating bowls of ice cream and talking about what we will miss about our Ugandan friends.  No one will yell, "Welcome Home," every time we walk in the door.  I will miss seeing the excitement on Jean and Kellen's faces when they experience something new like seeing the falling snow.  Graham will miss playing with his little buddy, Isabella.  We will all miss their presence in our home.

Yes, there will be no little girls fighting over toys, no more extra dishes to wash (although they always washed the dishes for me), no extra people to tote to and from the store, but we will miss them so much.

Thinking of how we may never see them again makes my heart so heavy and sad, but then I recall what a privilege it was to be a part of their experience here in Canada.  A little girl is going back home with a heart restored to full health.  A mama can now send her daughter to school knowing her heart is strong enough to withstand the long walk to and from school.  A daddy can sleep a little easier every night with the sense that his little girl is not fighting another infection or struggling to get oxygen to all parts of her body.

Tonight, I said goodbye to Isabella with the assurance that the hole in her heart has been repaired.  Yet, at the same time, a hole is forming in my own heart because of the void left in her absence.  I will allow that empty space to remind me of three precious ladies that I love so much returning to Uganda.  I will pray for them and think of them often.  I hope Isabella will grow up sharing with her brothers and sister of how God worked a miracle in her heart.  She'll get out the photo book we gave her and she'll recall her adventure in Canada.  She will know that God most certainly has good plans for her life as she remembers when He filled the hole in her heart.

With the emptiness that I feel comes a longing for more and a gratefulness of what God allowed my family to be a part of.  I know the peace and joy that comes from being the hands and feet of Christ.  I've experienced being a part of something so much bigger than myself, and I do not want to be content to settle back into a life centered around me.

Tonight I will rest.  Tomorrow I will enjoy a quiet day with my family.  Next week, we will decorate our home for Christmas and go about the routine of school, work, and chores.  I will allow God to renew my spirit because I am tired, but I will long for another day when our home will be filled yet again with more mouths to be filled, more voices to be heard, and more hearts to be loved.

Sweet dreams, Isabella, as you soar above the clouds tonight.  Sweet hugs in the coming days as you greet your family.  May your spirit remain sweet as you recall the goodness of your Father and His love for you.  I'm so thankful I could be a part of your life.  I welcome the hole in my heart because of you.

Monday, November 11, 2013


The last few weeks at our house have been intense.  Isabella had her surgery and spent 6 days in the hospital. I will never forget the look on Kellen's face the night she returned to my home after her daughter's surgery.  Pure relief and joy.  Her daughter had been given another chance at life.  With tears in her eyes, she told me thank you.  I felt so humbled.  I had done nothing but offer a place for her to stay, and I was amazed once again that God had caused our lives to intersect at this very moment.  

"Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere."

To say being a host family has been all fun and no struggle is to be withholding the truth.  There have been moments when I have asked myself, "What was I thinking to sign up for this?"  Yet, God has given me many glimpses into why this is worth it.

One of those glimpses happened today at Isabella's follow-up appointment.  Kellen, Jean, Isabella, and I were waiting in one of the examining rooms after hearing some good news that Isabella's progress was where it should be.  Kellen looked at me and said, "I have nothing to give you but I want to thank you."  Again, I felt completely humbled and unworthy of her gratitude.  I told her what she has given me was in my heart.  I told her I would never forget her or Isabella and I started to cry.  She hugged me, and I wondered if she really understood all that she has given me.

She has given me the gift of being used, the gift of being clay in the Potter's hand, the gift of being an ordinary, broken piece of pottery.  Yet, when the clay pot is broken, the treasure that is inside can spill out and bless others.  She has given me the gift of perspective, the reminder of God's greatness and my plainness.  She has given me the chance to be the hands and feet of Christ, and for that gift, I am the one that is grateful.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Little Isabella...God has used this girl from a small village in Uganda to touch many lives. 

Isabella, you have stretched me, you have brought me before the throne of God over and over again, you have kept me on my knees pleading with God to bring you to Canada and to heal your heart.  You have taught me life is not all about me.  You have encouraged me to share about the goodness of God to others in a way I've never done before.  You've given me the courage to tell people about the amazing God we serve.  You have shown me the faith of a small child and how pleasing that is to the Father's heart.  You have shown me gratitude and how to be thankful in all things.  You have reminded me of how much I have and how much I could give.  You have caused me to be uncomfortable, to be flexible, to share my home, my time, my space.  You have shown me my weakness and complete dependance on my Father.  You have touched my heart with your sweet hugs and the way your little hands pat my back when I we embrace.  You have taught my children how to give, how to share, how to pray, and you have caused them to see their parents broken before God and calling on His strength.  It is because of your little life that I am changed.  My home, my children, my marriage, and my relationship with my God will never be the same.  God is using your little life in mighty ways all around the world.  Through the holes in your heart, He is bringing healing to mine.  I pray your holes will be healed today, Isabella.  I pray your life will forever be changed and you will grow into a woman who can't wait to tell others of the amazing work God has done in your life.  I am completely and utterly grateful and humble that God brought you into my life and allowed me to be a part of yours.  Our hearts are being knitted together.

Sunday, October 06, 2013


We picked up Isabella, Kellen, and Jean at Anita's house this morning and took them to church.  What a special experience to worship beside them, to hear Jean's beautiful voice as she sang, and to be reminded that God is the God of Uganda and Canada and the US.  Isabella sat on my lap for the entire sermon coloring in her little Minnie Mouse coloring book maybe even using crayons for the first time.

They came over to our house after church for lunch.  Over roast beef and rice, we shared about our lives, and I heard about how Kellen walks one mile every day to retrieve water and then carry it on her head the mile home.  She has no running water, no flush toilets, no electric stove.  I will think about this now every time I turn on the water at my sink or cook something on my stove.  How different our lives are, and yet we both our love our children with a fierce love.  We both would go to great lengths to protect our babies, and we both work hard, in our own ways, to put a good meal on the table for our families.

After lunch, I got out a few items of clothing that I thought they might like, some for Isabella and some for Kellen.  Oh, I had no clue how much this would bless them.  I was simply cleaning out my closet and Lidiyanna's dresser getting rid of some things we no longer wore, but to them, it was a huge gift.  Their eyes light up and they immediately started trying on the clothes.  Isabella had been wearing some thing of her brother's, and to see her little smile when they slipped a light green dress with pink roses on over her head made my heart melt.  She looked adorable and she knew it.  It was a moment I do not want to forget.

When they left to go back to Anita's house this afternoon, my heart was full.  We have so much here in North America.  I am thankful for the perspective Isabella and her mommy gave me today.  I want to live with less and give more.  I want to choose a life of purpose over a life of comfort. I want to be stretched so I can love more.  God is using Isabella's heart condition to work on the condition of my own heart.  May it be so.

Friday, October 04, 2013

She's here!!

After several months of waiting and praying, Isabella received her visa and made her way to Canada arriving today.  The kids and I met her, her mom, Kellen, and the interpreter, Jean at the airport.  We brought them back to our house and fed them bowls of chicken tortilla soup.  I think it may have been too spicy for their taste but they ate all of it.  Before I could even get up, Kellen and Jean were at the kitchen sink washing the dishes.  Graham said, "Wow, Mom, you are going to like this!"  I was really touched by their willingness to help.  They both seem so grateful, appreciative, and hard working.  Yes, I think we are going to get along just fine!

Later after we had some time to unwind and get familiar with each other, I asked Kellen when she got to know God.  It was through her daughter's heart condition that she sensed her need for God.  She surrendered to Him and His plan for her life, and she placed her daughter in His hands.  I am praying her faith is strengthened as she watches the Lord work.  She has left behind two sons and a baby girl to accompany Isabella to Canada.  This journey has not been easy for her and as she will have to watch her daughter undergo open heart surgery, there are more difficult days to come.  Yet in her eyes, I see a warmth and strength.  As I told her today that I had been praying for Isabella, our eyes met and I felt the connection between two mothers.  Yes, I think we are going to get along just fine!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Children's Heart Project

Our family has gotten involved with a ministry called Children's Heart Project sponsored by Samaritan's Purse.  Children with heart defects born in countries where health care cannot provide the surgery they need are brought to North America so that they may receive the life-saving surgery.  Anu, pictured below, is a precious and outgoing 16 month girl from Mongolia.  She, her mom, and the translator are staying with a friend from my small group.  Her surgery will be tomorrow.

We have had the joy of having her family over for dinner and spending some time together.  What a sweet little girl she is!!  Ziya, her translator, is a gift from God as she shares the love of Christ with Anu and her mom.

Last night, Ziya attended a concert at our church so Anu and her mom came over for dinner without her.  I wondered how it would go not being able to talk with each other.  No words are needed though when the children play together and love is shared through a meal and a walk to the park.  What a beautiful picture of how God's love knows no boundaries.  

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:17-19

 Anu enjoying some chocolate ice cream.

Anu playing with the Franklin crew

Another precious girl will be coming from Uganda to have heart surgery.  Isabella is four and will be arriving with her mom and translator on Friday.  Our family will pick her up from the airport and have the privilege of hosting her in our home for part of her time in Canada.  Her is an excerpt from an article written about her by the medical transporter that will be traveling with her.  She wrote it before we knew Isabella has obtained her visa.  She is coming now!!

A girl in Uganda who desperately needs heart surgery is waiting to receive a visa so she can travel to the U.S. While the transporter is waiting, she reflects on God's timing.
by Cindy Uttley, RN, MSN, who is on staff with Children’s Heart Project at Samaritan’s Purse. She has made many trips to Uganda, but this is her first trip with Children’s Heart Project. She and her husband David, a photographer for Samaritan’s Purse, met more than 25 years ago while working in Haiti.
Children’s Heart Project—until the last several days, this was only a project to me, a much needed program. I thought of it as a worthy recipient of the approval of prospective donor hospitals, a valuable investment in the life of a deserving child who would otherwise die.
But now, Children’s Heart Project is a little girl. I am in Uganda, waiting for a visa for this little girl, Isabella. We have not yet met. But I know she is 4 years old and that although her heart defect is relatively simple to repair, such repair is not available here. I also know that the window of opportunity for its repair is about to close.
Children's Heart Project Isabella
Once 4-year-old Isabella receives her visa, Cindy will bring her to Canada to receive life-saving heart surgery.
In Uganda, the Samaritan’s Purse staff of Children’s Heart Project is doing everything humanly possible to expedite Isabella’s visa. Yet a series of unexpected hurdles have thrown up obstacles to obtaining the visa. Now that I am here to transport her to the waiting North American hospital and cardiac surgeon who will perform her surgery, I have been surprised by some of the delays. I would not expect that the only way to talk to the visa agency is to go in person. There is no phone number or website for tracking.  I would not expect the visa application of a little girl urgently awaiting open heart surgery to be randomly selected for audit by a United Nations agency and sent to Canada. And I would certainly not expect a hostage situation in Nairobi to delay its delivery by courier to our office in Kampala, Uganda. And what do I make of Isabella’s mom? Certainly her wait has been more laden with fear and pain than anyone else invested in this process.
Yet, none of this is a surprise to God. He wants to be glorified in the wait. We have done everything we can. He does not want us to fret or struggle. He wants us to trust Him. We pray. We wait. We pray some more. We trust. I trust that He loves this little girl more than we who work so diligently on her behalf. He loves her so much more than her momma and papa do.
And I trust Him not to be late.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Wesley's birthday

Happy 6th Birthday, Wesley!!!

This has been a big year for you, Wesley.  You completed Kindergarten in Canada, learned to swim and ride your bike without training wheels, and you bring us so much joy.  We are happy to have you in our family.  We love you!

Wesley has two really good buddies here in Canada, Harrison and Nolan.  We invited these friends along with their families over for dinner Saturday night to celebrate Wesley's birthday.  These boys have been really special to Wesley, and I'm so thankful for their friendships to our sweet boy.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

O Canada

O Canada
You caught me off guard.
When I wasn't expecting it, you showed me your beauty.
When I was missing my home, you displayed your kindness.
When I thought I was just enduring you, I've found myself loving you.

I've come to appreciate your people: a tapestry of colors and culture.
It is your people that I will miss the most.
You are a country made up of many other countries, many languages, many skin tones, many stories to be heard.
In you, people have found a new beginning, a hope of a better life, a fresh start.

I find myself gazing out over your big, blue waters.
From the starfish and clams that dot the red sands of Prince Edward Island
to the loons coming up for air in the quiet lakes of Quebec,
I've been surprised by your tranquility and what makes you unique.

O Canada
You found a way into my heart
and I know I will never be the same.
When I return home, I will remember you with fondness.
I will remember the people that offered me friendship, those that loved my children well everyday.
I will remember the church that nurtured and carried me through some difficult days.
I will remember the trails near my house, the path to the school that I know so well.

I cannot say I do not long for home, but I must acknowledge how much you have stretched and taught me.
You have taken me on an adventure for which I am grateful.

God keep your land, glorious and free!
O Canada

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The End of a Great School Year

 Wesley's class (with one little addition-can you find her?)

Graham and his teacher

Another school year is wrapping up for us here in Canada.  Wesley had a wonderful time in Senior Kindergarten with Miss Fraser and Miss VanMeijel.  He has really matured a lot and become a leader in the classroom.  He loves drawing and playing with the cars and blocks with his little buddies.  Graham has just completed Grade Two with Mrs. Guliomi.  I'm so proud of him, too.  I'm very thankful for the kind and loving teachers both my boys had this year.  They make a big difference.  Now, may the Summer begin!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A cake of bread baked over hot coals...

Have you ever sat in church listening to the pastor's message and thought, "He is speaking directly to me?"  It's one of those times when your heart is moved because you know God sees you, He knows what you need, and He has a message he wants to you hear.  I felt like that today.

Ever since March and the realization that we would be here the third year, my emotions have been on a roller coaster ride with most of the ride heading downhill.  I've felt such an internal struggle between contentment and longing for home, peace and anxiety, acceptance and frustration.  After a bit of struggle, I truly felt that I had surrendered to God's plan and had a deep peace about staying here.  I felt encouraged in our marriage and like I could really see how God was using and teaching me here.  After another trip to Nashville for a quick house-hunt which ended as an unfruitful and frustrating experience in which Tim and I got into an intense "discussion" in the middle of my brother's living room, I've been looking for that sense of peace and questioning what God is up to.  Tim's been working long hours and dealing with the pressures at work, and I've been trying to work through my emotions of feeling unsettled and anxious about the future.

So, when I saw the sermon title, "When Faith Meets Depression", I wondered what God would say to me as I sat in the pew and so desperately wanted to hear a word of hope from Him.

And as my God has always been and always will be so faithful to provide, He did not disappoint me.

The pastor first started with the statement, "We are all messes, but God chooses to use messes in His sovereign grace."  Man, have I felt like a mess lately!  I've told Tim thank you for being patient with me as I am a mess.  I've said to my friends that I just feel like a mess, and I apologized to my brother and sister-in-law for laying our mess in the middle of their living room floor.  I've used those exact words, and something stirred deep within me when I heard my pastor say with tears in his eyes that he's a mess.  Sometimes, I just need to know that I'm not the only one who is struggling.  Even more encouraging is the fact that God loves me in the messy state I am in and that He can still use me, mess and all.

I also heard this morning that often times great trials will follow great victories.  I had felt that I had a "victory" when I had let go of my desires in March and submitted to God's plan.  I knew God was teaching and molding me, and for a few weeks, I was feeling really good.  Often times hard times follow great stress as well.  We've been stressed looking for a job and stressed with Tim's workload and travel schedule.  I've been stressed trying to hold it all together.  Just taking a look back at our last few months gives me grace to know it's okay to feel down right now.  It's okay and understandable that I am struggling.  It's okay that I have doubt and fear.

But, I want to choose faith.  I want to choose trust.  I want to listen to God's truth and not the lies the enemy has been telling me.

The best part of the message today was reading about Elijah, seeing his struggle, and being moved by the way God met his needs.  God sent him an angel who woke him from his sleep with  cake of bread baked over hot coals, with a jar of water to refresh his parched throat, and with more rest.  Sometimes all we need is rest.  Sometimes, all we need is a friend to listen.  Sometimes all we need is something very simple: to know God sees us, He cares, and He provides.

My pastor ended today by encouraging us to preach the gospel to ourselves everyday.  My pastor in Nashville used to tell us the same thing.  We must remind ourselves of God's faithfulness, of our neediness for Him, and that He loves us, mess and all.

There are many things that I miss about the States, many things I long to return to in Nashville, many people I miss.  Yet, there are lots of things I love about Canada and one of those things is our church.  It took a few months for God to lead us there and it took lots more months for it to feel like home.  Harvest Bible Chapel has become a home away from home for us, and I've grown to love its people and its pastor.  After we have gone home, I will forever be grateful for the way God encouraged me through Harvest and the people there.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

 2003 cruise with the Jarchows

Happy Anniversary to my sweet husband of 14 years!!

"Life with you is half as hard and twice as good."
Sara Groves

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Victoria Day

We just celebrated Victoria Day here in Canada with a long, sunny weekend.  Graham also had his eighth birthday.  His party will be next weekend but he wanted to go kayaking this weekend and try out his birthday presents. One thing we really enjoy about living in the Greater Toronto Area is being so close to Lake Ontario.  The park we went to on Sunday was just 5 minutes from our church.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

We fixed our camera and got a new computer so now I can post pictures with greater ease.  Spring has finally arrived in Canada, and after the long Winter, we are enjoying it so much.  Graham got a kids' sized kayak for his birthday, and he got to try it out this past weekend.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Happy Birthday, Tim!

Happy Birthday to my man!  
Tim, you are an amazing daddy, a loving husband, and a noble and godly man. 
I am so blessed to be your wife.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thinking of Good Friday

Where would we be without Your love?
We'd still be lost in darkness.
Where would we be without Your cross?
It made a way to save us.
O, Your love! O, your love!

We couldn't escape the sin and shame that kept us bound.
We couldn't break through, we couldn't reach You.
So You reached down.

Safe in the arms of Your embrace
breathing in Your freedom.
Lifting a song of highest praise,
breathing out your anthem, O, Your love!

Where would we be without Your love?
We'd still be lost in darkness.
Where would we be without your cross?
It made a way to save us.
O, Your love! O, Your love!

words by Matt Redman

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ice Crystals

Sometimes an ordinary occurrence passes without recognition of what it truly is intended to be: a message of love from the Spirit of God.  But at those special times when our hearts are longing for the Spirit's whisper, we catch it like a delicate snowflake landing on our tongue.  It's brief, but it can leave a lasting impression, one that you don't want to forget.

Today is the first day of Spring.  It is 20 degrees (Fahrenheit, I should add). As I struggled to help my youngest child into her snowsuit, mittens, boots, and hat for our walk to school this morning, my heart felt as cold as the frozen ground outside my front door. We recently returned from the land flowing with milk and honey, Nashville (I exaggerate for effect), and I have been working through some disappointment of realizing our move back home is not happening as soon as I would like.

On the way to school, I noticed a girl ahead of us holding a chunk of ice.  She lifted it up above her head and peered through the ice noticing the way the sun's rays were captured in the crystals.  I watched and smiled at her discovery, at her delight in the way something so ordinary and dull could be transformed into something magical.  It was then that I heard Him ask, "How are you viewing your life, Jo?" I've been discouraged and discontent.  I've been fighting resentment and frustration, yet when I hold my life up to His radiance, His glory shines through.  He makes the ordinary and mundane shine and shimmer in His light. He even can take something cold, hard, and void of warmth and make it beautiful.

Today I'm holding onto this truth, this idea of "uncomfortable grace". A guest speaker at our church spoke on this a few weeks ago, and his message has been resonating in my mind ever since.  He said sometimes God takes us to places we don't want to go to accomplish something in our lives that we could not accomplish on our own.

Uncomfortable grace...God's way of bringing blessings through suffering, of teaching, molding, and shaping us through difficult circumstances.  His way of taking our ordinary lives, shining His light in us, and creating something beautiful.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lidiyanna is three!

Happy Birthday to our sweet girl!

lovable, friendly, beautiful, energetic, charming, loud, adventuresome

You bring so much sunshine to our lives.  We love you, Lidiyanna!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A weekend with our small group

I got to admit, I am tired of Winter. Ever since last weekend when I returned home from Texas, the dreary clouds have been hanging over my head.  We've had more snow this year which has been fun, but I'm ready for sun and for warmth.  The winter blues have hit and I'm fighting hard to resist the melancholy mood that has seemed to take residence inside me.

It has been good to look at these pictures and remember that Winter can be fun and God has given us some really wonderful friends here in Canada.  At the beginning of February, we were invited to join our small group for a weekend in Muskoka, beautiful "cottage country" about two hours north of the big city.  While there, we got lots more snow, and the scenery was breathtaking.  As we took a hike to a frozen waterfall, I remember thinking, "This is why people enjoy living in Canada."  The Winter is so long and dreary, yet it can also bring with it a lovely and inviting playground.

Over the weekend, we enjoyed God's amazing creation and we refreshed our souls through prayer, worship, and just enjoying being together.  I am thankful for these memories, for these friends, and for the beauty in the midst of the Winter.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Table

We buried the body of my grandfather last Saturday.  As I mourned the loss of my Granddad, I felt the heaviness of my grandmother's death all over again.  I was closer to my grandmother.  Maybe it was all that we had in common: our love of cooking, crafting, teaching and our name, Jo.  And as I said goodbye to my grandfather, I said farewell to their home which housed so many of my childhood memories.  My grandparents lived just a few blocks from me, so I saw them quite often.  We went to the same church, and not many Sundays passed by that I did not get my hand squeezed from my grandmother as I said hello to her and my granddad in their familiar seats in the sanctuary.  The way her fingers felt in mine as she tightly grasped my hand in her own is a memory that lies in the forefront of my mind.  It is a fond memory that stirs up the love I know she and my granddad had for me.  All of my cousins gathered around my grandparents' table this past weekend along with my dad, aunts and uncle.  We reminisced, remembered, and recounted many happy times we were in that house and under the umbrella of Cecil and Jo's love.  I miss them both.  I appreciate the love and legacy of godliness they leave behind.  And as I sat at that table surrounded by such warmth, I saw a glimpse, just a taste of the glory and joy, the saftety and comfort we will one day know when we are all finally at Home feasting at our Father's table.

my sweet grandfather, his brother, Dewey, my cousin, Andrew, and Wesley in 2008

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body...
Philippians 3:20-21

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Our little Beta fish

We thought we had lost our beloved beta fish, Sammy (short for Samar i) .  We had just returned from a trip to a friend's cottage (more on that in the next post) and were quickly trying to get the kids in bed when I noticed the lifeless body laying limp on the leaf in the fish tank. When I gently gave the tank a nudge, the fish fell to the bottom of the tank and remained there showing no signs of life.  Both of the boys burst into tears when I told them our fish had died.  I knew Sammy could make it a few days without food as Betas are very hardy fish, but I had forgotten that the house would get quite chilly as we had turned down the heat while we were away.  It was just too cold in the house for the fish, and I felt horrible that my actions had caused the death of this poor creature.  Graham cried himself to sleep that night, and after he finally fell asleep, Tim and I contemplated removing Sammy from the tank and flushing him down the toilet.  We decided to wait until the next day to perform the funeral.

On Monday, after I got the boys off to school, Lidiyanna and I were in the boys' room cleaning up a bit.  Lidiyanna asked me, "What's Sammy doing?"  I looked in the tank expecting to see the body laying motionless on the tank's floor, but instead I saw Sammy's bright blue body swimming around with his little fins flickering in the water. I started laughing and quickly gave Sammy some food which he gobbled right up. Our little fish had not died but was in some type of lethargic state while the water was cold.  Once the water warmed, his energy and vitality returned.  I couldn't wait to tell the boys that Sammy was still alive and kicking (or should I say swimming?).

I was telling the story to Kimberly later that night and she was reminded of a song she had heard in which the lyrics were "everything sad will come untrue".  One day, Jesus will return and make all the sad things untrue.  What a beautiful picture little Sammy gave us of how God will one day turn our tears into laughter and our sorrow will be replaced with joy.

It made me think of another song by Matt Redman that says,

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles but until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the Earth
Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to the troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, Still I will praise You

Oh, no You never let go
In every high and every low
O, no, You never let go 
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh, no You never let go Lord, you never let go of me

Monday, January 28, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

O Canada

One thing I will really miss when we return to Tennessee is the beautiful snow in the Great White North.

Just look at that face.  She was thinking, "No, Graham.  You cannot just throw a snowball at me and get away with it."  This girl can take care of herself.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

We have been having lots of fun around our house this week as my cousin, Andrew, was in town.  Somehow he always seems to make me laugh.  By the end of the week, Graham kept looking at us and telling us to stop laughing.

Unfortunately, Tim had to be out of town most of the time at two different auto shows, and Andrew had purposely picked this week to come so he could help me while Tim was gone.  Just shows you what a great guy he is!

We have gotten some snow which has been fun.  I was glad Andrew got to see some of the white stuff.  We also had a fun adventure going into Toronto last night and ice skating at an outdoor rink that overlooks Lake Ontario.  It is such a great place with a live DJ on Saturday nights and the CN tower glowing in the background.  We were having some mild temps so the place was very crowded, and we got a few giggles from watching a lady who was very serious about practicing her figure skating among the rest of us who were just trying to keep from falling.  Andrew, Graham and I skated although Lidiyanna would have been out there too if they had skates in her size.  Graham is finally getting the hang of it and but still spends lots of time laying on the ice mainly because he thinks that's fun.

We are continuing with our motto: If you gotta live in Canada, you might as well embrace the Winter and enjoy it.
 Love those rosy cheeks!

 Put this picture in so you could see Tim's "authentic" Canadian hat.  We are prepared here!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bringing in the New Year

After Tim's family went home and we came back from Blue Mountain, we quickly did laundry and repacked our bags to head to Tyler to visit my family.  What a challenging day we had trying to get there.  We got up at 5am to make our 8:30am flight that did not leave the ground until 1pm.  We sat on the run way for five hours because of some problems involving the deicing fluid.  Thankfully the airplane had TVs and movies to help keep the kids entertained, but I got especially annoyed by the long delay.  We finally arrived in Houston late in the afternoon only to have more delays.  We had missed our connecting flight and there were no more flights to Tyler that day.  So, we rented a car and arrived at my mom's house exhausted and a bit grouchy around midnight.  To top it all off, our bag was lost and remains lost to this day.

Oh, well.  We were finally there and I was very glad to see my family as I had not been back in a year.  Earlier that week, my dad had passed out from the flu and damaged his eye so badly that it required two surgeries and several more procedures.  I am thankful he is doing much better now and his eye is healing.  He's had to be very patient as he's been on strict bed rest for over two weeks.

I was glad to visit with my granddad and spend some time with him but I was saddened to see how much his body and mind have gone downhill.  His short term memory has really declined so that it is no longer safe for him to live independently.  After I left Texas, he has been moved into an assisted living home.

Unfortunately, I took no pictures while in Tyler.  We did have a great time with my family, and I loved being pampered by my mom.  She cooked delicious food and helped so much with my kids.  She also watched the kids overnight so Tim and I could enjoy a night out on New Year's Eve.

It's always hard to say good-bye to my family and I felt a bit disappointed that our trip ended up being a bit stressful.  Canada is a long way from Texas and it is very challenging trying to travel there with three kids.  I think I have a greater appreciation for living in a place where I can drive to see my family in one day.

And, if you are wondering about when we will move back to Tennessee, we still don't know.  We could be moving back this coming summer or the move might not take place for another year.  We are still waiting.

Christmas in Blue Mountain

It's hard to believe my last post was at the beginning of November. I guess December was so busy that it just flew right by.

Tim's family came up to Canada for Christmas and we spent our time together in a condo in Blue Mountain, a ski village a few hours north of where we live.  They had a little snow when we arrived and a lot of snow when we left, so the kids enjoyed lots of sledding and playing in the snow.  Graham, Hayley, and Davis took ski lessons one afternoon while I took Wesley and Lidiyanna swimming.  It was a different way to spend Christmas and I think we all enjoyed our white holiday together.