Building My Own Thanksgiving Altar

Last night while I worked on dinner, my daughter played a song on the piano that I hadn’t heard in a long time. Steve Bell’s Here by the Water (lyrics below). The lyrics flooded back to me and I remembered again why this song is one of my favourites.

Not long ago I read an article about how good feelings are fleeting, but for some reason we hold onto bad feelings. You know how it is—you’re elated over something good that happened and the high only lasts a short time. It’s human nature that we quickly forget the good and hold onto the bad.

To me, this song speaks to thanksgiving, to remembering all the good in our lives. When the Israelites passed through the Jordan River, God told them to pull twelve stones from the riverbed. They built an altar. When I hear the word altar, I always think of a place of worship or sacrifice. While that may be true, I think it’s more about a visual reminder of what God did for them.

We need these stones, these memorials in our lives. Something we can look at, touch, and say remember when… when we came through suffering, when we saw a miracle, when our prayers were answered.

I have so much to be thankful for—a family, friends, a home, good health, warmth when it’s cold outside, good schools for my kids, the written word, healthy food, and the list goes on.

Each of these blessings are a rough stone and from those stones I can build an altar of praise.

Here by the Water

(Music and Lyric by Jim Croegaert © 1986 Rough Stones Music)

Soft field of clover

Moon shining over the valley

Joining the song of the river

To the great giver of the great good

As it enfolds me Somehow it holds me together

I realize I’ve been singing

Still it comes ringing

Clearer than clear

Chorus:  And here by the water I’ll build an altar to praise Him

Out of the stones that I’ve found here

I’ll set them down here Rough as they are

Knowing You can make them holy

Knowing You can make them holy

Knowing You can make them holy

I think how a yearning

Has kept on returning to move me

Down roads I’d never have chosen

Half the time frozen Too numb to feel

I know it was stormy

I hope it was for me learning

Blood on the road wasn’t mine though

Someone that I know

Has walked here before


A Milestone in a Mother’s Life

Today was one of those milestones in the life of a mother—grad dress shopping with my only daughter. I kept thinking, how did I get here? She spent roughly 80 years as a toddler, but the high school years have only lasted a few months.

I was twenty years old when I had my baby girl. She was the tiniest little thing, weighing in at only six pounds, two ounces. Her pinky toenail was a marvel. How could toenails come so small?babyA

She was a difficult toddler. Busy, busy, busy. She gave up naps when she was 18 months old. She ran me off my feet. She was a temper tantrum thrower and a mischief maker. But, she got me through some hard times. We had to say goodbye to three babies after her and holding her in my arms was a salve for my soul.


She’s been a great big sister. She’s kept her brother is line. She even changed diapers.BabyA3

We made it through some tough teenage moments. I’ve been so angry at her that I couldn’t look her in the eye for days and I’ve been so proud of her that I’ve wanted to cry. Joyful and anxious. Elated and heartbreaking. Laughing and weeping. Raising a daughter is always both.

The Novel that Changed Me

Last week, after six months of labour, I finished my eighth novel. I took a couple days to glory in a finished product, I took my family out to dinner, I took a deep breath. This novel was a difficult journey–blistering emotionally.

There were times I thought I couldn’t finish, that I just couldn’t be in this woman’s head anymore. Every scene was a hand over hand battle to pull myself up a cliff, not because I didn’t have a passion for it, but because of what it took out of me.

They say you have to bleed for your writing. I bled for this one. This novel changed me.

After the rejoicing over finishing ends, I always go through a low time. I miss the characters, I no longer get to spend my days with. I begin to consider the amount of editing I have ahead of me to get my manuscript in good enough shape to even show my mother.

But, before I had even finished that manuscript my mind was drifting and asking the question, “What next?”

I have a dozen ideas in my futures folder, but really, the choice was easy–or hard, however you want to look at it. It’s the story I had in my head before I started novel number eight back in May. It’s the story I don’t want to write.

So I’m sketching out my characters. Getting to know these new friends I’ll spend the next few months with. And I realize–as hard as this is–so many rejections, so many set-backs, so much to learn–I love to write. I will write even if I’m the only one who ever reads it. Words are my dance steps, my paint, my piano.


Great Family Friendly Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen

The weather has turned cold. Movie season has begun!

Finding family friendly movies that cater to multiple age groups can be tough. My kids range in age from eight to seventeen, so I’m always searching for movies that are entertaining and appropriate. Here are some of my favourite family friendly movies that appeal to kids, teens, and parents.

Click on the title for a plot summary.

City of Embercity of ember

Meet the Robinsonsmeet the robinsons

Fantastic Mr. FoxFantastic mr fox

Mr. Bean’s Holidaymr. bean