Winter Getaway

IMG_0211 My favourite things are always spontaneous.  I love it when friends call up in the middle of the night to go out for food/drinks, or stay the night to wake up to an impromptu breakfast the next morning.  I love it when Sean and I dine out for no reason or when we go for drives just because, and when weekends away are planned on a whim.  I also love it when our pantry is stocked and ready for urgent food cravings for fresh brownies or cookies, and when we have a bottle of chilled white wine and a red on our counter to accompany a nice dinner in.  Most people think that I don’t like surprises, but really, it’s the waiting that I don’t like.  When I’ve bought something special for someone, I want to give it to them right away and not have to wait a week.  I want to invite someone for dinner the moment that they’ve shared their special news, and between Sean and I, we always exchange gifts at 12:01 am on the day of the occasion because I can’t wait for gifts either!  It’s become a normal thing for us.  Needless to say, Sean has had to accomodate my crazy ways.

A couple of weekends ago, we were treated to a ski-in, ski-out resort and we couldn’t have been more grateful.  We found out last minute, and we were packed and ready to leave before you could say “Go!”  Sean and I went skiing again, and this time I even managed to go down a non-beginner hill!  We spent each morning having breakfast by our window, praying together, reading and taking in the beautiful winter scenery.  Coincidentally the internet connection was horrible, so it forced us not to be on our phone/ipad first thing in the morning.

My Dad came up to join us on Sunday and we spent the day eating, watching episodes of The King of Queens, chatting and snacking.  I couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant weekend.  Weekends like these make me wish that it didn’t take us time away from the busyness back home to enjoy some lazy and restful days.

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Santa Cupcakes

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Every year, we get together with my husband’s extended family to celebrate Christmas, and we usually have between 15 to 20 kids there.  For the last couple of years, I’ve been asked to make cupcakes for the kids.  This year, I decided on Santa ones.  They take me a good three hours to make from start to finish, but getting big hugs and smiles from little ones makes it all worthwhile.

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Christmas Brunch

Since getting married, Sean and I have been starting some of our own holiday traditions.  This year, we had my Dad over for brunch Christmas morning, and I made eggs Benedict for the first time, Sean’s favourite breakfast meal.  My family loved it, so for the years when we have breakfast/brunch at our home, this will be our Christmas menu with loads of fruit, good coffee and mimosas.

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Simple, slightly indulgent, and a little bit more special.

Live Generously

Wednesday marked two years since my Mom passed away.  It seems like forever ago since I had the chance to hug her, talk to her, drop by to see her, or eat her delicious food.  Sean says that her yukaechang (spicy Korean soup) is better than any other.  The sharp pain in my chest when I think of missing her has not faded, and a flood of tears will still come at any moment.  Every stressful or hard day is made worse because my Mom isn’t here to tell me that like all things, this too will pass.  She was always my greatest source of comfort.

My Mom was the most generous person I know.  She would always put others before herself, and her heart was always drawn to those in need.  During this Christmas season, my eyes have been opened to the needs around me: Families who can’t afford Christmas presents or a tree, a son caring for his father who has the onset of Alzheimer’s, people who have to work Christmas Eve/Day, children and people without families or are away from their families and people who don’t have warm homes and good food to eat.

Our pastor recently said that generosity is something she feels is learned.  I’ve been privileged enough to see my Mom giving to others my whole life.  Her greatest life lesson to me has been to live generously, and like her, I hope to love on others and give to others just as she had always done.  Whenever I do things for those less fortunate, I think of her.  I think of how if she were here today, she would be doing the same thing, and in some way, it makes me feel closer to her.  One day, when Sean and I have little ones of our own, I will tell them of my Mom’s generous heart, and how God has given us much so that we may give to others.  I will tell them of the woman with two copper coins who gave to God all that she had (a story from the Bible my Mom would tell me often), and teach them of storing their treasures in Heaven, and not here on Earth.

When I look back on my Mom’s short life, I think of how many lives she’s touched, and how many people she has helped.  Her life is a testament to me of what it means to walk the Christian life.  Jesus loved the broken, poor and unloved, and with all that God has given me, and in my Mom’s memory, I want to remember to live each day generously.

“A Grief Observed” – C.S. Lewis

SCAN0000Recently, I was engrossed in a small and unassuming book entitled A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.  It is a heartbreaking, and honest account of the great loss of a man who proclaimed his faith to the world and who wrote about his journey through grief.  Everyone’s grief is different (so I’m told), and I believe it to be true, but all pain is pain.  All sorrow is sorrow, and we grieve those that we’ve lost, because we loved them.

C.S. Lewis lost his wife.  My Dad lost his love of more than thirty-three years.  This is something I couldn’t possibly understand, but just as my heart breaks for losing my Mom, my heart breaks just as deeply for my Dad.  My Dad’s fridge is still always filled with apples, because my Mom loved apples.  My Dad has photos of my Mom all throughout their house and lovingly remembers her in our conversations.  If my Mom was here today, she would tell my Dad that she is so proud of him for all that he’s done on his own.  She’d tell him that he’s been so strong for our family and that he is a great example for his daughter.

This past May 12th would have been my parents 34th wedding anniversary.  I’m sure that they would be the first to tell you that their marriage wasn’t perfect, but their love for each other was real.  The day that Sean asked my parents for my hand in marriage, my Dad told him, “Marriage is not about compromise, it’s about sacrifice.”  And that sacrifice that my Dad was talking about is what I was so privileged to see my whole life.

This past Father’s Day I meant to publish this post, but it just sat in my draft folder, until now.  It’s difficult to put into words how much of an inspiration my Dad has been to me.  He has taken on the role of Dad and “Mom” and I know he tries very hard to help fill the void of not having my Mom here.  My Dad packs food for Sean and I just as my Mom had always done, he always insists on putting money in our hands to buy nice meals while we’re away, and he thinks of what to buy Sean for his birthday three months in advance.  My Dad’s courage to do things on his own, challenges me to be less afraid.  I know that my Dad purposefully does things to help me worry less about him, and for this, I’m grateful.

When I see what my Dad has endured, and the courage that he has shown, it gives me strength to live a fulfilling life, one that both my Dad and Mom would be proud of.  When in the midst of pain, it is difficult to focus on our blessings, but my relationship with my Dad is a true gift from God.  I think it’s safe to say that I have the best relationship a daughter could possibly have with her Dad.  When I was little, he was my favourite play-mate, and now as an adult, he is the one I turn to for advice.  For me, there could be no better example of courage, sacrifice and kindness than my Dad.

On a side note, my Dad’s jokes are some of the funniest, and my Mom was his number one fan.  She would laugh so hard that she could barely make out the joke when telling it to me.  I never got the joke because she would never make it to the punch-line, but I’ll never forget the sound of her laugh, thanks to my Dad.

Thankful for My Mom

Mom and Me

Mother’s Day was a week ago today.  For weeks leading up to the day, I would purposely avoid card stores, I would quickly walk through the mall so as not to see the multitude of signs saying “The Perfect Gift for Mom” or flip through commercials that talked about celebrating mothers.  I was scared that if I let myself, I would become overwhelmed.  The truth is, I miss my Mom. Everyday.  Sometimes I drive alone in my car thinking of her and tears will stream down my face.  Everyday, I look at her photo by my bedside and I wish that she could hear me.  She used to always say to me, “Everything will be okay, because Mom’s here,” and I often lay in bed wishing that I could hear her say those words again.

My Mom loved me more than life itself, and if anything will fill the void in my heart from not having her here, it’s remembering how loved I truly was.  I consider myself incredibly blessed to have had a Mom who’s love was so unconditional and so powerful, and I thank God that He gave me the greatest Mom that there ever was.

My Mom always said that she had two kids: Sean (her son) and me (her daughter).  She loved Sean as she would her own son, and if she had to pick sides, it would be his.  She would always tell me to be kind to him and to treat him well.  She would always make sure that she prepared dinners keeping his tastes in mind and pack us food for days when we didn’t feel like cooking.  If Sean wasn’t feeling well, she would ask me three times a day if he was okay.  If Sean ever needed anything, she wanted to get it for him.  I’m grateful that Sean saw the love that my Mom had for him, and that my Mom got to know and trust the man that I’d be spending the rest of my life with.

 

God also gave me the most loving mother-in-law.  Sean’s Mum has always treated me like a daughter, and if there’s any woman who I could trust next to my own Mom, it would be his.  I know that she prays for us and thinks of us, and when the world forgets that pain is ongoing, she remembers.  She bought me the most beautiful pink roses on Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate her, so that maybe it would brighten my day.  I know that if my Mom was here, she would be so thankful that she is a part of my life.  I never take for granted the love that I have gained through Sean’s family.

 

There are days when my heart aches because my Mom wasn’t here to see me graduate, or she won’t be here when Sean and I begin to start a family, but my Mom never missed a moment in twenty-four years of my life.  She always took jobs that made it possible for her to pick me up from school, she never missed any of my performances at school or at church, and every birthday was special because of her.  On my wedding day, the first time she saw me all made up, she held me and said I looked so beautiful.  In every special moment to come, I’ll be thinking of my Mom and how thankful I am that she wouldn’t have missed that moment for the world.

 

Runaway Bay

This past week, Sean and I were in Jamaica with family.  What a blessing to spend days reading on a white, sandy beach with clear blue skies and a warm ocean breeze.  Sean’s parents gifted this trip to all the kids and grandkids for Christmas.  We couldn’t be more thankful.

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We stayed at the Jewel Beach and Golf Resort and loved it.

IMG_6492IMG_6518More on Jamaica and family to come.