Saturday, December 31, 2011

from the home front

This lady came to our home to train her pet falcon, Solo. We have a ginormous amount of starlings here that eat the left over grapes and this falcon takes off and goes in for the kill. The trainer spent time teaching the boys about her pet and it was really neat to see the falcon up close and learn about its different behaviours.
She had all of the equipment of tracking and recording the flight of the bird. She even breeds quail to feed her falcon!

The boys had their first piano recital at an old age home. They were so small behind the grand piano and they had a room full of seniors cheering them on. The bad thing was that this was the only picture that turned out. I had my camera on the wrong setting:(  I asked Nate before hand if he was nervous. Yep, he was. He wanted his bus to blow up on the way home from school so that he wouldn't have to go to the recital!

Caroling at an old age home with some other families. Actually between two of our families there are nine boys and one girl. Lets just say that there is a lot of running between rooms and up and down the hallways, but these kids were good and gave the singing their very best.

Tyler wanted out the whole time, but thankfully our loud singing drowned out some of his wails.

For our little Christmas we made a gingerbread house and then each boy got a book and a small present. When I was a little girl I remember with fondness the book "The Princess Who Never Laughed." For years I have looked for it at garage sales and at second hand stores. I finally gave up and bought it off of amazon and we gave it to Tyler for Christmas. After reading it I put it in a safe place away from little boys who like the excitement of tearing pages out of books.

On Christmas Eve we always get together with my side of the family but this year my mom was in the hospital. So after lots of phone calls we came up with another date and tried not to worry about my poor mom who would be stuck in the hospital. Thankfully she got discharged and suddenly the get-together was on. We scrounged up some food for supper and everyone came over to our home. We were all happy to see mom feeling a lot better and our time together was even more special.

With the weather being so warm, it was easy to spend time decorating the outside and making it all cosy.

We made lots of these bird seed ornaments to give away to teachers and friends. Our tree was full of thankful little chickadees.

When you get sick of making urns, get a big evergreen branch, drape it across and put a birdhouse on top.

My camera lens was foggy from being outside so when I took this picture I was pleased with its effect and then I noticed Andrew's grinning smile on the side. The boys love to decorate their rooms for Christmas and
it is always interesting to see what they will come up with. Going to bed isn't as bad when you have Christmas lights strung up across your room.

Notice that we don't have too many ornaments. As the days went on the ornaments got thrown, smashed, and tossed by a certain little toddler. In the end I moved the remaining ornaments up higher on the tree so that it looked like we started something,and then just gave up with a half decorated Christmas tree!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

from our home to yours!

       We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas remembering the birth of our Saviour.

"Now is the time of rejoicing
And praise forever more
To God who gave a precious gift
In the birth of our Lord."

Blessings to all of you in the new year of our Lord!

Adam, Kerri, Nate, Liam, Andrew, & Tyler

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

my crazy kijiji experience

My life has never been the same since kijiji came along. I was already an advid garage saler but kijiji put things on a whole new level. Most of our house is kijiji. We have bought chickens, furniture, bushes, birthday and Christmas gifts - if we are looking for something, most often we can find it.
A few days ago I saw the most beautiful antique lanterns on kijiji. They were the real stuff made out of cast iron and they were nice and big. They came off of a historic hotel in Niagara -on-the Lake and these lanterns were a bargin at $30.00 a piece. They would add really neat character to our shop. I was the 26th person to view the add so I thought that I had a good chance of buying them. I emailed right away and we made arrangements for me to see them at 3:30.  At 2:45 I called the owner just to make sure that it was all good to go but the owner had the nerve to tell me that I had better hurry because there was someone who lived 20 minutes away, on her way to see them. I felt my blood pressure shoot towards the sky and said "whaaat!"
The competitiveness in me that never seems to make an appearance during things like sports all of a sudden engulfed me. I slammed the phone down, grabbed the two younger boys and their coats (forget about shoes) and buckled them up in the van in record time. I sped out of the driveway with my coat half on and the race was on. I drove a little on the fast side in the pouring rain. I tried to tell myself to relax, breathe, take big gulps of air and slow down but the greed/competiveness in me was too powerful. I had memories and bad feelings of going to garage sales and spying the perfect item but unfortunately more ladies have also spotted it.  We all pick up our pace and try to look relaxed as we race toward the item. There is nothing worse than seeing someone beating you to it and grabbing it with a triumphant smile. All of these thoughts were whirling in my mind as I gritted my teeth while sitting at stoplights and following very slow trucks on to the highway. The rain poured down and Andrew was busy talking away to me but I could only think about getting to that house before the other lady did. When I finally got to her house (it seemed to take forever) I jumped out of the van and tried to casually walk toward the door as if I had all of the time in the world. Meanwhile I was out of breath. She opened the door and said that the lanterns were in the barn. I almost whooped out loud. I had beat the other lady. The lanterns were just right for us and I was really pleased with them. I had been there for less than two minutes when the other lady showed up. I quickly shoved the money to the owner and grabbed the lanterns. I was out of there. This was not one of my finer moments in life:) There should be rules posted on kijiji saying that if you want to sell something that there is a proper order to do things or else there are going to be crazy drivers all over. I am sure that there are interesting stories out there. If you want to see the lanterns you will have to come by and hopefully they will be hanging soon.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

learning through difficult times

"The Lord is faithful and holy and steadfast and sweet and my emptiness and sorrow I lay down at His feet. Though I may not ever understand I know His plan for me is right and our baby sleeps tenderly in heaven tonight."
One thing that I am afraid of is regrets because you cannot go back and change how things have been done. Through our difficult journey God provided people to lead and guide us along the way so that I do not have any regrets. According to the laws of Ontario when a baby dies at 20 weeks gestation it is law that the baby is buried and it is considered a stillborn death. (The terrible tragedy is that there are no laws to protect the living unborn baby). So the question is what do you do when your baby dies at 19 weeks?
We have a very dear former Pastor that sent us an email and I will always be thankful for his wise advice. He took the time to encourage us to name our baby, and to have a private funeral.
Our current Pastor, in the midst of a busy Christmas season, showed much tenderness and concern for us. Two days after Matthew was born we met our Pastor at the grave yard. He had thoughtfully printed out a funeral handout that had Matthew's name, his date of birth, and the date of the funeral. He wrote out fitting Scripture verses, the apostle's creed, and Psalter 278:1. "The tender love the Father has...." Whenever we sing that in church my mind goes back to that cold, snowy day in the graveyard holding onto Adam's hand and drinking in the comforting words of our Pastor.
Another provision and something that I will always be thankful for is at the hospital the nursing staff have disposable cameras to take pictures of your baby. They let us hold Matthew for as long as we wanted and then they took pictures of him. When we left the hospital they gave us the disposable camera for us to  develop whenever we were ready for it.
They also gave us a beautiful handpainted box for us to store our keepsakes in. That box is full of comforting cards from the lovely people in our church community. These cards meant a lot to me then and even now they provide much encouragement. The cards taught me how important the written note is. Even if you feel that you do not have the "gift of words" -send the card. It shows that you care and that you are thinking and praying for whoever is hurting. The gesture alone goes beyond the words. There were so many people that reached out with loving arms. Flowers, cards, meals, visits, and  phone calls were bright moments in our day. I will never forget my cousin who sat with me while Adam was finishing off things at work, my mom who came with arm loads of clothes and brought me to the doctors office, babysat, and encouraged us each step of the way. Friends of ours who have had two stillborn births offered much help.  One day the father called Adam just to see how he was doing and offered a listening ear. What he did was so important and beautiful. Adam was doing everything that he could to help me with my grieving mother's heart. People were reaching out to us but it took that special phone call from our friend. It was a father to father conversation that allowed Adam to tell of his hurts and sorrow to another man who has been in the same place. These were all helpful things and although I do not want to be negative I am going to write about what didn't help. One in every four pregnancies ends in a miscarriage so even if this has not happened to you it most likely has happened to a close friend or family member. No matter how far you have been in a pregnancy it is hard. It is not simply a miscarriage; it is your child. I have had the comment that  because of our miscarriage we now have Andrew. Very true but it sits wrong. We have had much joy and contentment in our Andrew but there will always be a hole there. Hearing that comment made me feel guilty because even though we love our Andrew I still have that hole and that comment underestimates the grief that we have experienced. Secondly, do not ignore or avoid the people who have experienced a miscarriage just because you feel awkward and do not know what to say. It is more awkward not saying anything and ignoring the fact that they are grieving. A small hug, or a slight touch on the arm mean a whole lot, even if some time has already passed. Look into their eyes and ask them how they are doing. It is then up to them to share what they would like. One writer has written, "I now see compassion isn't telling a mourning parent that 'At least you know you can have kids' or it was 'God's will' and 'you'll get over it.' Compassion involves acknowledging the right for a griever to grieve. It requires looking in on mourning parents, months or even years later. Compassion involves relaying your disappointment and sadness about the child and acknowledging how hard the loss must be for the parents."
I heard of the story of a ninety year old man who upon learning that one of his great-grandchildren was born stillborn, broke down and cried. He sorrowed with the parents but he also mourned the loss of his own still-born child decades earlier. In those days not a thing was said and you were very hush-hush about your struggles. There is something to be said about moving on and not dwelling on it, but we also should have time to grieve. It is also important that when you have gone or are going through a trial to reach out to others. If we didn't have people reaching out to us it would of been very lonely. We are instruments in God's hands and through us He provides for His children.
Isaiah 40:11 - "He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young." What a gentle, loving Shepherd we have who carries our little ones close to His bosom."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Matthew - Gift of God

Even though it has been five years ago, it seems like just yesterday that we learned that the little baby we were so eagerly expecting had died. In this post I will tell you our story and then do a follow up about what we learned during this time in our lives.

"Each life is infinitely precious...and we are richer for having been touched by each, no matter how briefly."
We were thrilled to be expecting our third child. Many of our close friends were also due with a baby at the same time and that just made this pregnancy even more exciting -although from the start the pregnancy was rough. I had been sick with the other two pregnancies but this one was more intense. Adam was gone on business trips most of that fall, and we were worried about my mom who had her own   health concerns. Nathan, just three, woke up most nights with night terrors (that deserves a post on its own). Between lack of sleep and the nausea, I felt like I was in a dark tunnel with no ending. Deep down inside I had a gnawing feeling that something was wrong with this pregnancy. I felt very unsettled. During the previous months, the Lord softened my heart and showed me what grace was. My soul sang to my Redeemer and although I knew in my head that He would sustain me in difficult moments, I had yet to experience it. Somehow I felt that He was leading me on a path that would show me His sustaining strength.
At 19 weeks gestation it was time for an ultrasound. I booked it on my birthday because then Adam could come along and we could go out for dinner afterwards. Right before the ultrasound I became very nervous to the point of trembling. I was scared, but I kept this to myself. The ultrasound technician would first do the examination and then she would allow Adam into the room to see the baby for himself. As I laid there with a very full bladder I convinced myself that everything was all right. The tech looked at the computer screen for a moment and then pressed the cold gelled prop onto my swollen belly. With a blank look on her face she turned off the computer and told me that she would be back in a moment. The minutes stretched on and as I laid there in the dark room, I had never felt so lonely. I fought panic rising within me. Twenty minutes later she returned and told me that a doctor would be by to meet me. I asked her if the baby was okay and she just nodded a sympathetic no. I asked her to get Adam. Poor Adam came in expecting to see glimpses of our unborn baby but instead he was lead to a sobbing wife.
God provided us with a Christian doctor who understood our grief and offered much comfort.
Later on at my parents home, my dad read to us a devotion that was sent to him that morning. "Be strong and of good courage, and do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord God will be with you."
(1Chronicles 28:20) Corrie ten Boom wrote "Jesus, thank You that because of Your constant presence, I am never alone. Hold my hand tightly, Lord. Although afflictions may torment me, they can never defeat me." That devotion was another provision from the Lord.
Later on that evening our dear Pastor came over and read to us from Isaiah 40. He prayed for us and listened to our sorrow. I will never forget his quiet strength and presence. Tante Riek also came and sat with us that evening. This godly woman has meant so much to me and has had numerous trials in her own life. Just by sitting beside us, she brought much comfort.
I felt like I was thrown into a spin cycle. Who do we call? How do you call with terrible news? Do I have to go through a normal labour? Do we have a private funeral?
We had so many questions but God led us through each minute. In our church there is a group of women that unofficially come along side those who have had a miscarriage. Their reaching arms meant so much to us as they told me what to expect with the labour, postpartum, and helped take care of our family.
Two days later I was induced at home. At supper time when the contractions became close together I went to the hospital and there I was put in a private room for the delivery. Instead of eager excitement, I was full of dread about what would lie ahead. Physical pain is one thing but the thought of holding our unborn baby for the first and last time was anguish. We were blessed with an amazing nurse that anticipated our every need. Soon our little son, Matthew, was born. We held our perfectly formed baby and wept over what was not to be.
Two days after that we had a private funeral with just Adam, myself, and our Pastor. It was a snowy, wet day and as we stood there by the little white box it was so hard to think that the cold weather would not harm our little baby and that we would be leaving him there all alone. We felt so raw and tired, that we didn't even know how to pray.  The prayers of our friends, family, and complete strangers sustained us and gave us strength.We knew that the same God who was holding us in His tender arms, was also holding our little Matthew. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

pictures from times past

Whenever my parents see/hear Tyler, they say to me, "Kerri -this is you when you were young. Kerri, this brings us back 30 years ago.  You were this small and this busy too. You could fit into anything and the way you talked - it is just like how Tyler talks now."

When Tyler "talks" he gets huge smiles from his listening audience. His talking isn't quite Chinese but it isn't German either. It is a deep-throated garble. He points to something and then "talks" about it.
So here are some pictures of me when I was young.

I can tell you one thing. I know where Tyler gets his rather large teeth from.
When I saw this picture of me I remembered a story that my mom loved to tell.
One Halloween my mom dressed me up as a rabbit. A rabbit. To top it off she gave me a carrot to hold on to. When little kids rang the doorbell, my mom would answer the door with me and they would break out in hysterical laughter when they saw me. I had no idea that my mom (who is supposed to be kind:) would do such a traumatizing thing. It is a good thing that I was too young to know what was going on and it is a good thing that they paid big bucks to get me braces.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I hope that we are not the only family that has this problem but around here the terrible twos hit at 18 months. Tyler has kept our life far from boring, in fact I get many heart stopping, sharp-intake- of- breath moments.  Raising Tyler has become a family affair. This is what I hear thoughout the hectic days: "Moooom, Tyler is on the piano!" "Moooom, Tyler is in the toilet and someone didn't flush it. It wasn't me!" "Moooom, Tyler is standing on the kitchen table and it looks like he wants to jump!" "You bad boy Tyler. You just wrecked my lego house."

Tyler likes to wear things and most often it is underwear. The other day my brother-in-law stopped by and Tyler came running out of the laundry room wearing a pink underwear. I felt myself blush because I couldn't pass this one off as someone elses:)

                                                               Tyler and cousin Josh.

                                                      Why is the toilet such a magnet?!

When I was expecting Tyler I was very sure that it was another boy. That was fine by me but I hoped that it would be a calm boy. I had just come though some very trying times with Andrew (someday I may be able to write about them but it is still too fresh)  and I thought that I deserved a rest. Well, Tyler isn't as bad as Andrew was but we are almost there. Bruises, bangs, and bumps I can handle but what I constantly worry about is Tyler's teeth. He has a small, fine face so his teeth seem to be a tad on the large side. I worry that during one of his tumbles, his teeth will get knocked. I have to say that I admire this little guy. He is small but he has a lot of spunk. He has a special grin for when he gets caught doing something that he knows he shouldn't be doing. Despite the extra messes to clean up, scary moments, and wrecked lego, we are all crazy about him!

Friday, November 25, 2011

migrant worker picnic

Ven a Nuestro Convivio!

Every Spring thousands of migrants from Mexico & Guatemala flood the Niagara region seeking to provide for their families.  Leaving their loved ones they come to work on fruit farms and in greenhouses for 8 months to two year durations. Struggling through language barriers, cultural differences, and homesickness, these men and women welcome times where they can socialize.

Through out the past ten years the Vineland Free Reformed Church, Heritage Reformed Congregation, and Immaunuel Orthodox Church have joined together in order to minister to the migrants. In 2009 Wilf and Sharon Bout moved into the heart of the fruit belt in order to minister to the hearts of these men and women. Their home has become a hub of activity as these workers come with problems, questions, and ask for advice.
Wilf disciples, mentors, organizes Bible studies, advocates, translates, and gives messages on Sunday evenings. Developing these relationships with the workers has created accountability as many of them struggle with alcoholism, pornography, and experience the tragic breakdowns in their family relationships.
During the Sunday evening services the three supporting churches take turns picking up the workers and providing rides to and from the service. A tremendous amount of work has gone into and continues with organizing drivers and routes. During these services, the workers love to sing! Hearing them sing with their passionate gusto is a wonderful encouragement to us.
Wilf then reads from the Bible and gives a message teaching, exhorting, and challenging the workers. On Tuesday evenings drivers from the churches come by again to take the workers to a English class/Bible study.
The migrants work long hard days often enduring the heat.
On the 1st Saturday of each month a huge picnic is organized. Usually 175-350 men and women come out enjoying sports, and the hot, spicy supper. While they organize their soccer (which they play with fierce competion) and volley ball games, the drivers gather together in prayer, praying that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts to the gospel message that they will hear.
As the sun sets and the tired players feel the rumbling in their stomachs they head towards the delicious smells of supper that has been prepared for them.
It is fun watching them pile the food on their plates. They have mastered getting a whole lot of food on a plate and they manage to carry it to their tables without spilling.
At a picnic in September, Wilf set up a friendly competition among the different countries represented. They were welcomed to come up to the front and to sing their national anthem while a picture of their home country's flag showed in the background. Again these men not only sang with gusto but with sincere loyalty to their homeland.
When Wilf gives the message from God's Word, we praise the Lord for providing a field of souls where the gospel can be planted.  As Wilf has reported, "I am always so thankful for this opportunity to lay the hope, promises, and warning of Christ before so many people. We pray for the Holy Spirit's continued regeneration and sanctification as the Word of God is opened."

While food is being chopped, sliced, and barbequed, the workers love to socialize and play their favourite sports.

These men got a kick out of Andrew's almost white hair. Totally opposite to what they are used to.

Every opportunity is taken to develop relationships and encourage these men and workers to commit their whole lives to the Lord.

Singing their national anthems.

By God's grace these men and women are hearing the Gospel message. They are thankful to the volunteers who spend many hours teaching, driving, playing piano, baking, and praying for this work. In the past they have shown their appreciation by preparing Spanish meals for the volunteers. One lady asked, "Where do you people get this love, this desire to help other people? I don't possess that type of love for others!"
As Wilf writes, "So be encouraged-and continue to pray that Christ would use all of us-through our words, and through our actions." Praise God for this ministry and may He be glorified!