Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unexpected Milestones

  I love birthdays.
60th birthday

While some may dread them as a sign of getting older, I have always found them a wonderful opportunity to celebrate life. To celebrate the person who is being honoured on that day. To celebrate friendship. To celebrate experiences that have formed the individual and brought them to where they are today. To celebrate how loved they are and how they have loved others.

On either side of the Equator (Quito, Ecuador)

Dress up night in Egypt


When you start to examine a life, there is much to celebrate. 

Freezing our butts off in Antarctica

Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Rockin' the head scarf in Africa

Perhaps the best shopper ever
I also love to celebrate birthday weeks… because why not extend a celebration over a longer period of time? 

Mother-daughter Disneyland trip!

Taking the grandkids for rides in the wheelbarrow

We're pretty funny....

This week is my mom’s birthday week. On Saturday, she will be turning 61. 

Surprise 60th birthday dinner and musical
 60 is a pretty big milestone, which might overshadow the next few birthdays. However, we will celebrate 61 like never before, because it is a milestone we didn't think she'd reach. 

Chillin' with the little ones...

Orchid gardens in Singapore

Mimicking tigers in Thailand
 A year ago we sat in the doctor’s office, where the doctor told my mom she had terminal cancer, had less than a year to live with no other alternative and sent her home to die. After a rapid decline, she had a turnaround and a year later, she’s still here. When my mom was 17, she had stage 4 Hodgkin’s and was given six months to leave. After being healed, she is still here 44 years later. So although we may not get another 44 years with her, I’m thankful that we have already had more time together than predicted either time. I'm thankful we can trust God whose timing and ways are perfect even though they may baffle us at times.

Catching a ride in Japan

Pre-dinner selfie on a cruise
 So, this is a birthday week to remember as 61 was a milestone we didn’t anticipate. It hasn’t been the most amazing year, but it has been one intermingled with great joy and sorrow. One of facing the reality of death and having it reveal the significance and value of life. One of laughter and tears. I am thankful for every moment, the good, the bad and the ugly. I am thankful for hearing my mom snore at night as it is a sign of life. I am thankful that although we have no idea what the future holds, we are still making the most of every day.

Cheering on the Canucks

Jumping in Turks and Caicos

Birthday celebrations!
So, this is a few days early, but I wanted to post a birthday week tribute to my mom to wish her a happy birthday. 

Fun on Splash Mountain

My mom still hadn't caught on to what facial expressions we are supposed to have for selfies

I am thankful for a mother who has loved her children with every ounce of herself.
For a mom who has also been a dear friend.
For a mom who is always up for anything.
For a mom who instilled in me a love and desire for the Lord.
For a mom who introduced me to musicals, concerts and roadtrips.
For a mom who taught me how to appreciate other cultures.
For a mom who has traveled around the world with me (7 continents, 45 countries).
For a mom who taught me that you need to be gentle with yourself and laugh at yourself.
For a mom who showed me that life is better when you pee your pants from laughing too hard.
For a mom who modeled hospitality and love for others.
For a mom who never let me be bored as a child (lest I become boring as a person).
For a mom who is a fighter.
For a mom who is generous, fun, loving, and adventuresome.

Now we got it...
Dinner with the princesses (because that was designed for adults, right?)

Still pretty funny

The list could go on, but I will stop there. As the pictures in this post demonstrate, the last 61 years (okay I have only been around for 29 of them), have been filled with love, laughter and life. I am thankful to celebrate all this with my mom this week and into her 61st year. I am beyond blessed to be her daughter. 

Crescent Beach

My mom and I!
Happy birthday Mom! 

Friday, June 13, 2014


Father's Day is typically one that I dread. As mid-June approaches, people start posting about Father's Day and it is easy to focus on my own absence of a father. However, as I journey with my mom during this season, I have been reflecting upon the preciousness of life and the need for it to be engaged and celebrated.

It is crazy to think that my dad has been gone for 11 years now, but I am thankful for the ways in which his legacy lives on and for the love that he poured into and invested in me. I found these two photos recently while looking through old photographs and absolutely love them, because I have such fond memories of playing with my dad in water when I was a child. To this day, swimming is one of my favourite things, and I can remember hours spent in the pool or ocean with my dad. From jumping off his shoulders to jumping on him, they are really special memories that I cling to. As I have now started to go swimming my nieces and nephews, I see the neat connections that are built in spending long periods of time together doing something really fun.

Although as a child and teenager I didn't always understand how much my dad loved me, I see and understand this love reflected in watching the relationship between other fathers and their children. Even watching my own brothers as dads has been a picture of that special relationship.

So although I do not have my dad around to celebrate with this weekend, I celebrate the memory of our relationship and am filled with gratitude for all the things my dad taught me and for all the ways in which he cared for and loved me. I'm thankful for not only some of the physical characteristics I received from him (like my blue eyes and curly hair), but also for some of the great values he instilled in me and for the way in which he loved and cared for others.

Furthermore, I celebrate all the men in my life who have stepped into my life for different times and seasons and poured into and mentored me in a fatherly manner. And I anticipate and am grateful for those who will do so in the future.

Ultimately, as I reflect on all these things, it becomes a beautiful picture of who God as our Heavenly Father is. No earthly father is perfect, but it is so neat to see glimpses of God's image as Father imprinted on men as father and mentors for others.

So, Happy Father's Day! May you celebrate together and also remember this weekend!