Thursday, December 31, 2015

book #5

There have been and are times I struggle with dented and scraped walls, coloured-on walls by a two year artist, wood with chunks carved out, carpets soaked with mud, couches with stuffing oozing out and sharpie marker strategically placed on the couches so everyone can see it. There are times when I am cleaning and get frustrated and lament our distressed look. Other times I feel relaxed about the worn look of our home. It always helps when you know other families are relaxed in your home because it is kid-friendly. One of my friends told me she feels no stress visiting in our distressed home!

This book was a good book to read. The author realistically writes about living in homes with a family and not just pinterest worthy homes, the meaning of our homes and hospitality, being comfortable in your own style; and the author gives tips on decorating, organizing, and cleaning.

"When we clean and tidy our homes we swing back and forth between two perspectives:
We live here- therefore our house is a mess.
We live here- therefore we don't want it to be a mess."

"The trick is to find simple ways to reduce the mess so our homes can be pleasant places to live."

This book can be helpful in finding the right balance for your home.

Monday, December 28, 2015

book #4

"Frances Whitehead was working for the BBC when Stott asked her to become his secretary. For 55 years she was his right hand: gatekeeper, administrator, typist, encourager and enabler. In his Will, Stott named her as his "friend and Executor."

Frances devoted her life to John Stott, world renowned preacher and author. With Frances' efficiency, energy and enthusiasm, Stott was able to accomplish an extraordinary amount of work. Both devoted their lives to a life singleness ready to work hard for God's Kingdom.

This book not only gives glimpses into Stott's life, but it shows God's care in providing a helper for Stott. This story also shows God at work in all of the littlest details such as Frances' upbringing that would play a factor in her work relationships. I was inspired by their productivity and diligent use of time. Stott was legendary with his discipline of time and this book gave examples of Frances' role in this. I recommend this book and am always on the look out for more books like this - untold stories of historical figures.

*Tim Challies writes a review on this book.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas greetings

To our family and friends afar and to those who take time to read the blog:

Merry Christmas 
 Blessed New Year!

"Glory to God in the Highest!"

book #3

Every day for the past 3 years I have written in this "One Line A Day" memory book.
Each page has five slots for five different years so that you can compare what you did the years before. Most of the time my sentences are boring, like "stayed home and cleaned" but other times there were unusual entries: "We were able to go out tonight without getting a babysitter. Hooray! A new stage has arrived and we have some freedom!"
I ordered this book from amazon and am really glad to own it. I love dates, traditions, memories, and this book helps me keep track.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book #2

The book "Side By Side: Walking With others in Wisdom and Love" should be in the hands of every believer. Author Ed Welch clearly writes of what a Christian community should look like. In part one of the book he writes of our neediness. Life is too hard to manage single-handedly. There are hard circumstances in life and our sin weighs a lot on our hearts. We need to learn to say help to the Lord and to other people. In part 2 of the book Ed Welch expounds on the idea we are needed. He shows this through his chapters of moving toward and greeting one another, having thoughtful conversations, seeing the good and enjoying one another, showing compassion during trouble, talking about Satan, sin, and helping fellow sinners. Through out the chapters the Gospel is kept central. This book is helpful, practical, not hard to read. I recommend it whole heartily.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book #1

My goal for this Christmas break was to blog about one book a day. I'm already a day behind....caused by a trip to the ER. Again. The youngest two boys were slithering like snakes under a thick blanket on the kitchen floor and somehow the youngest smacked his forehead on the corner of the kitchen island. This new scar will be a few centimeters over from the old scar also caused by crashing into the island.
The dr. gave me instructions which I could recite by memory...assess for concussions, wake child up in middle of night, no more than one episode of vomiting, do not get stitch area wet, keep band- aid on for 48 hrs, and the hardest one of all; make sure the child is inactive for the next two days to let the cut heal. wowzers.

Back to books. I finished "The Friendships of Women" yesterday and have pondered the book ever since. How do I treasure my friendships? What makes a good friend? Am I a good friend?
Author Dee Brestin, a pastor's wife, never felt settled in a new church until she had a friend. In this book she elaborates on three friendships told to us in God's word. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Elizabeth and Mary. The book is thick, full of friendship advice. We read about speaking the truth in love to our friends, relational idolatry, the women's biological need for friends, how to help your friend when she is hurting, and asking your friend for help when you are hurting. All in all I thought this was a fantastic book, complete with discussion questions at the end of each chapter. I appreciated how it made me evaluate my own friendships. I realized my deepest friendships are because of godly woman coming along side of me when our unborn son died. They followed God's leading and He used them as His instruments. I was comforted by them and challenged by their Godly example and I held on to them. Years later they are my "perennial friends" loving one another well year after year. The author also encouraged friendships with all ages learning from one another.
At times I found the author on the intense side but probably because of where she lives. In the states, moving around is more common than where I live. Friendships become long distance, and new friends are sought out. The author is passionate about friendships and this draws her intensity out. The book is still worth reading. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

time capsule part #2

***Before and Afters***

                                Snap shots of work being done through out the years.

Our Home
We have lived in our home for ten whole years now; making it the only home our five boys remember.

This home has seen much rejoicing and excitement. I think of the times when we brought our sweet newborns home from the hospital for the first time; slowly we walked up the back steps carefully carrying our little treasures. When Tyler came home for the first time there was relief and much joy. He had been in the NICU for a week and it was a scary time for us. It was precious bringing home our little miracle.

There have been celebrations of birthdays, anniversaries, fun spontaneous get- togethers, ringing in of the New Year, hymn sings, family picnics and themed dinners
There have been times of deep sadness. We grieved for our unborn son, Matthew (2006). We mourned the loss of great-grandparents; Nana (2010) and Great-grandpa (2015). We have felt the sadness of loved ones’ grief because of death or broken relationships. We have felt the heaviness of our own sin but also the mercy and grace of God’s forgiveness.

Besides our family, we have had many friends come over, and besides our friends we have had many people we didn’t know that well come over, and we have gotten to know and care for them.
The back door has been an “open door” having on average 3 people stop by per day. Seeing faces and conversing with people has made it easy living out in the country, and the feeling of being home-bound during the winter with little ones doesn’t quickly happen with the “open door.”

We have loved living besides grandpa and grandma. They have rushed over in times of emergencies (which this home has seen a lot of). The quick chats we have in passing and the hand waves as we drive by, have all been foundational in our boys growing up years. We have also appreciated their pool! It has also been great that mom stocks her cupboards well and usually has something that I have forgotten to the buy at the store. We have only had one kuffle and that is when mom cut one of our boy’s hair, and I was trying to grow it a little longer. Besides that, the relationships have been great.

Our home has seen the coming and goings of many animals. To date we have had 2 dogs, 3 cats, many laying hens, pigs, cows, outside show birds, a goat, 2 kid goats, a canary, a budgie, and an elusive rodent currently living under the chicken coop eating the bird feed.

The pond has been a source of much fun with swimming and skating, making the seasons enjoyable. It also has caused Adam headaches with the leakage problem (which is now officially fixed). It has also given me nightmares. I have had horrible dreams because of the pond and am thankful each time a boy masters swimming.

This home has seen much wildness, chaos, disasters, whooping, yelling, blood, daring stunts, wars, frustrations, AND, laughing, pranks on innocent family members, giggling, and happy, content smiles.

This past summer we memorized Psalm 103 and saw how God provides, loves, forgives, heals, and nourishes.  God has kept us under His Care. We are grateful.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Time Capsule - part #1

November marked the ten year anniversary of living in our home so we decided to make a time capsule to commemorate this special occasion. 

We filled the box up with pictures, our favourite magazine (WORLD), a newspaper from that day, our school update, coins from 2015, and coins from the different years we were born. We included a speech I had written about living beside my parents, a story of our attempt at growing grapes, and we recorded our heights and the prices of groceries and gas. 

I wrote a short paragraph of each of our boys and included a sheet where all of our extended family members live.

I spent some time writing a speech to include in the time capsule and had a great picture in my head of me reading the speech to attentive boys and then Adam closing in prayer. In my mind, this was going to be a real "treasure of a memory" for these kids in their formative years; something they would look back on and tell their kids about. 
And then reality. As I was reading the speech, I could sense movement and anything but focused attention.
When I looked at the pictures, my thoughts were confirmed...

After my speech, which really wasn't long, Adam double bagged the box and we "buried" it under our front porch.

We were thankful our brother and sister-in-law Bret and Alicia were over -they managed to capture this memory on camera. 
It is hard to imagine what it will be like opening this time capsule in 20 years from now. We will have kids in their thirties...possibly grandchildren...its just crazy....I love the age the kids are now and would gladly freeze this stage; but the years keep on marching on and for now we will just keep on making memories!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Books on Grieving

During the past while our church family has felt grief and sadness with the loss of loved ones. There are also numerous special cares that families are experiencing.

This announcement was in our church bulletin yesterday:

"As our church family is experiencing grief in a particular way at this time, we would like to inform our members that we have pulled books on this topic from the shelves and located them together on the first shelf as you enter the library.  Our hope is that these books may be a comfort, showing the HOPE that others have been given from God!"    

Here are some of the books:

From Grief to Glory   - James W. Bruce
Be Still My Soul   - Elisabeth Elliot
Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow   - Nancy Guthrie
Holding Onto Hope   - Nancy Guthrie
When God Weeps   - Joni Eareckson Tada
Treasures in Darkness   - Sharon W. Betters
The Undistracted Widow: Living for God after loosing your husband  - Carol Cornish
My friend is struggling with the death of a loved one   - Josh McDowell & Ed Stewart
It's Not Fair!   - Wayne A. Mack
Comfort those who grieve: Ministering God's grace in times of loss   - Paul Tautges

Thursday, October 29, 2015

90 years ago

It was October 29, 1925. Thirty-eight year old Albert Brouwer (Opa) finished the chores around his family farm in Lathum, the Netherlands, and made the last minute preparations for later in the day when his wedding guests would arrive for the celebration.
He had surprised most people,when he announced his engagement to Wilhelmina Overeem (Oma). He had met 26 year old Wilhelmina, also known to many as Mina, only six weeks earlier!
 Fritz, Albert's younger brother had been working at a farm where Wilhelmina also worked several days a week. Fritz convinced Albert to meet this young woman and proceeded to arrange a meeting between them. 
Wilhelmina lived with her family close to a town called Arnhem that would take Albert 1.5 hours to reach by bike. He made this trip three times before they were married making it a grand total of three visits together before they said their marriage vows!
 Wilhelmina's family farm was very isolated; "out in the sticks" as the villagers liked to say. It was located a long ways off of the main road, with a rough driveway about 1.5 kms long. This driveway was almost impassable in the winter and since it was later in the summer that Albert and Wilhelmina finally met, Albert suggested they should get married before the winter hit. He convinced his bride-to-be it didn't matter if her trousseau wasn't ready. She would have the rest of the winter to sew her sheets and pillow cases.
Their marriage took place in the church in Lathum and the celebrations were held at Albert's farm where he lived with his older brother, also a bachelor. 
The family farm was the exact opposite of how Wilhelmina grew up. They had neighbours on either side of them, even sharing driveways. The neighbours heard, saw, and knew everything that was going on. The village people were traditional and followed strict customs whereas she grew up with traditional, but with an emphasize on Biblical teachings.
On their wedding day, Wilhelmina's mother and sisters thought the wedding was too far away, so only her father, a few of her brothers and a handful of cousins were there to celebrate with her.
Wilhelmina moved into the furnished family farm with her new husband Albert and his older brother.
What a change that must of been for all of them, but both Albert and Whilhelmina had much respect for one another and their marriage worked.

Albert told Whilhelmina he that since he was older, they probably wouldn't have a large family, but they were blessed with eight children, the last child born when he was sixty!
They had a busy household; surviving the war years,  taking in guests, (one year they had 95 guests including children) and farming the land. Everyone needed to work hard.
When Albert was sixty-eight years old, the decision was made to immigrate to Canada. Their oldest, married daughter, Jenny and her husband would follow them soon after.
After a new farm had been bought in Ontario, Albert hung up a huge sign for everyone to see: "Ebeneezer"  - hitherto, the Lord has helped.

-a special thank you to Cor DeJong and Wendy de Jong for putting together the Brouwer  family history book many years ago. All of us who call Albert and Wilhelmina, Opa and Oma, have learned much!-

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


In the early hours of the morning the Lord called our grandfather home.
He was a man that made every effort to be in church on Sundays and spoke of the Lord in conversations.
He would rub his hand up and down our cheeks and show great affection with his eyes when he spoke; always interested in our lives. Every card given by our grandparents was written by grandpa. With a perfect slant, and long narrow strokes, he would write the sweetest thoughts at our birthdays and Christmas. These cards were cherished by all of the grandchildren. He wrote how special we were to him,and he gave encouragement that the Lord would be with us in all things.
During the past few months, grandpa's speech was slowly taken away from him due to a series of small strokes. This became a great trial to both of my grandparents. His words often relayed wisdom; he asked questions, and not to have these smooth running conversations made things very difficult and trying for him. Eventually the conversations took place over the white board he carried around. When we would visit, he would write down the names of all of the kids and we would talk about each one. His interest and care for his family and friends never left him, even without the use of his speech.

                         This picture is just priceless with their four great-grandchildren.

Many years ago with his little boys.

Laughing and enjoying his family during last year's thanksgiving-get together.

On his 91st birthday in September.

Psalter 187:4..."and they that love His Name with Him shall live."
Thanks be to God for this hope!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Mothers of all BOYS

There's a small group of us, the MOABs, that will get everything I have to write.
For those who have daughters gracing their lives, our stories may seem unbelievable, but when there is a bunch of brothers put together, anything can happen.

This summer I had a grand thought. I planned to take all five boys to Costco during lunch hour and hopefully with enough food samplers, I wouldn't need to feed them lunch.
After piling out of the van we headed toward the entrance. A lady walking behind me, called out to me. Thinking I dropped something or mistakenly left someone behind, I turned around.
She came running up to us and took a long look at me. "Are allll of these boys yours?!" she motioned with sweeping hand movements and eyes opened big and wide. When she determined that these were all brothers, and there were no twins in the crowd, her dramatics continued. "You are amazzzing" she beamed at me. "You are a rock star. You are so courageous. Look at these handsome boys. This is unbelievable." After I thanked her for the compliments we moved toward the store with my head ballooned up and my chin slightly elevated.
We made it through the grocery store in an okay manner. The boys had their food samples and didn't even proclaim loud enough for everyone to hear, "Don't buy these..they are gross." Or, "Buy these mom, they are on sale." Instead they whispered their comments to one another.
By this time pride had creeped into my heart. The boys were good, we were getting a lot of stares, but they handled themselves well; that is until we hit isle 13, the Baking Isle.
I was half way down the isle when I heard one boy whisper-yell to the other, "Sugar Spill!!!" 
I turned around and there they were climbing on top of the sugar stack, with their mouths wide open. One boy was licking the white sugar off of the cardboard, another had his hands scooped open with the sugar spilling through his fingers as he tried to stick both of his hands in his mouth at the same time. It was a sight to be seen. Sugar was spilling every where and the boys were lapping it up as fast as they could. One lady walked past me, laughing hysterically. "Check out those boys!"
  I was glad we gave someone a good laugh that day.

Mothers of all Boys understand the need for war, danger, energy, guns, cannons, hunting, jack knives, raccoon skin hats, and sports. We point out dead animals on the roadside. We save different looking insects for our sons to see when they come home from school. We act interested and take part in the conversations about who is playing who during hockey, soccer, and baseball seasons.

This a picture I emailed to my friends. 
Mothers of all boys understand what food means to boys. They can hurt themselves pretty badly and not shed a tear or offer a trembling lip, but if  you tell them they cannot have a snack and have to wait until the next meal, thats when they become teary eyed and only then the tears threaten to fall. MOABs need to plan after- school snacks as carefully as they plan dinner. Food, food, and more food. I know for my family the feedings will only increase. I cannot imagine!

Mothers of all boys know that hands are never clean; funny, interesting things fall out of pockets; and a very important note, never stick your nose in a underwear to see if its clean. You can only handle so many unflushed toilets and other horrible bathroom manners before you go on a complete rampage. During this rampage, before you know it potty talk comes shooting out of your mouth, but your message has been clear. Smarten up and start flushing!

Mothers of all boys know that boys aren't always keen on having their picture taken and would rather play with a blade of grass.

Being a mother of all boys is an interesting thing. The laundry piles are pretty high, you are on the constant look out for grocery specials, but most of all you try to prepare them for man hood and that can be a scary thing!
I talked to a MOABs this summer and asked her if she had any advice. Her answer -  "Good luck!"
 But, after watching her family for a few days, I saw four wonderful teenaged sons who had fun together. They enjoyed spending time together and they had great manners. She was doing something right. Watching them got me excited for the teenage years, and the way our little boys are growing, it will be here before we know it. But right now I am going enjoy these young men of mine.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


"The Waiting" by Cathy LaGrow made my ICPID list without a second thought. This true story was simply amazing...a mother meeting her daughter decades later after giving her up for adoption. The author skillfully weaves the mother and daughter's lives throughout the book. Well written, true, inspiring... this book couldn't get any better.

And here is the back of "The Waiting."

"Fearless" is another ICPID book. (ICPID - I couldn't put it down)
This book grabbed my attention from the start. Another true story that was well written. Guys will especially like it as it tells the back ground of the Navy Seals and gives insight to their vigorous training. This is the story of Adam Brown, Navy Seal, his addiction to drugs, and his tragic death while serving in Afghanistan. When I started to read about his death, I trembled when I realized I was reading this on March 17 exactly five years to the day that Adam died. It made it even more real and I thought and prayed for his dear widow on that night as she would no doubt remember that horrible knock on the door. 

Kara tells of her days of mothering her four beautiful children and then the dreaded discovery of cancer. She writes of her struggles, worry, fear, and about God clothing her with grace. This is a beautiful, tear-filled book. Kara wrote this book not ever knowing if she would see the pages of her writing bound. She lovingly puts quotes through out the book and there are thought provoking questions at the end of each chapter.

"John Know - Fearless Faith" by Steven J. Lawson is a shorter biography on the life of John Knox. It is not hard to read and will inspire you to know the God whom you serve better. Knox was no boring man, he was full of courage fighting against the false doctrines even if it meant his death.

"A Man Called Norman" by Mike Adkins. I picked up this treasure of a book at a second hand store. Mike moves besides a strange man named Norman and slowly builds up a relationship discovering who this man really is hiding behind all of his quirks. God uses Norman to teach Mike what loving your neighbour as yourself looks like.

And this summer I happily read the whole "Mitford" series by Jan Karon once again. This September her latest book, "Come Rain or Come Shine" put double exclamation points behind the series. The characters come alive in her books and you soon start to believe; there must be a cozy little town called Mitford where the people "take care of their own."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Election day.

This home is along a main road in our town. After several years of watching we see the same routine happening over and over again with these home owners. In the spring, the owners are outside planting and watering their raised garden beds. Within a few weeks the weeds have grown higher than their knees. The couple stands outside scratching their heads, wondering where to start the clean up because the weeds have become overwhelming. A few weeks after that it is obvious they have given up. The weeds have choked whatever lawn is left and the front door is hardly visible. The home owners had good intentions in the beginning of the year but thats not enough to get the weeds rooted out. By fall they will be outside with a weed eater gobbling up all green left in sight.
I feel sad for them and wonder why they do this year after year - work, become disappointed and overwhelmed, and then wack out everything that could of looked beautiful.
This year I came to the realization they probably don't care and have given up on their intentions. They actually drew attention to their weed infested home.
 When election promises and ads started to control the media, the home owners planted their Green party signs in the middle of the yard. They must of realized no one could see these bright green and yellow signs so the signs moved to the edge of the yard, almost on the road way.
 If the home owners had carried through on their intentions, the Green signs could of been placed in the middle of a beautiful garden. (That would of been a better advertisement!)

On this election day, we, along with all Canadians, will be watching who will govern this country. It is comforting to know God didn't just have good "intentions" for our country. He didn't create and then stand by, watching the weeds choke and overwhelm His creation. He creates, cares, and provides and He will continue to do this with whomever wins this election.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thanksgiving Day

It's truly is a blessing to see a whole, extended family gather together, enjoy talking and catching up with one another. Its even more of a blessing when you can read the Bible, pray, and sing altogether.

Dressing up is always fun!

A long, simple rope can provide a lot of entertainment!