Thursday, April 30, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: seek the Lord

When I was 23 I had graduated from college and was in my first full time year of work and preparing for my wedding. My advice to me/you would be:

Seek the Lord as you dream about your future. As long as your dreams are in line with God's, have the courage to pursue them and the patience to wait for what you truly desire -- NO COMPROMISES. If you are truly living for Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. Bypass what is good for what is GREAT!

Follow your gut, your inner promptings - this is the Lord guiding you. Don't ignore this, it can often be that still small voice that guides you in your best decisions for the future. Don't let anyone but the Lord influence your decisions. Listen closely only to those who know you best and have godly advice, even if it is not what you want to hear.

And on a lighter note - DON'T COLLECT CLUTTER! Get by with only what you NEED and/or LOVE. Don't let your house fill up with meaningless clutter. Instead of having lots of stuff, only choose meaningful high quality things. It will make your environment special and easier to manage.


Lori is Executive Director at Fresh Start Maternity Supports. For over two years I called her "boss-lady" but we became easy friends and still keep in touch on a regular basis.

Thanks, Lori, for your advice - I always appreciate your perspective!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: know who YOU are before settling down

When I was 23 it was a good year since I was happily married and had a 1 year old and had just returned from a trip to England with my husband and son. What was I thinking flying with a baby!! 

If I had to give my younger self advice I would have said WAIT before you get married and experience living on your own for awhile first. I left home and got married right away, was expecting within the first year and never really lived on my own. 

I'm happy now and very glad that I had both of my children when I was young and can now enjoy my 4 great grandsons: age 5, 10, 16 and 18. Praise the Lord!


Anne, also known as Ghetto Gramma, was my crazy, wacky, loveable, caring co-worker and friend during my time at Fresh Start. She worked as the Manager of the Crisis Pregnancy Centre and touched so many lives while doing so! 

Most importantly she has been a blessing to me - I've taken away life lessons and really cherish all those Timmies walks on warm sunny days...and taking the "long" way back to the office! ;)

Thanks, Anne, for your advice, here and in the past!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: a practical list

Sarah's asked me to tell her what I would tell myself at 23.  I had so many ideas but they boil down to this contradictory list. Here goes...

1. Buy property as soon as you have a stable income. Looking back I likely spent nearly 80,000 in rent in my twenties and early thirties. If I had the chance to do this over, I would have started with a really small house and fixed up and sold and bought another continuing until you build equity with each one.

2. Stay fit. Those 10 pounds will creep up on you over a decade of sitting at a desk all day. I've been doing karate since I was 26. It has helped me feel healthier that's for sure. Looking back finding time for exercise daily would have been better.

3. See the world and move around lots. Yes having a house is contradictory to this, but I had room mates for years. Owning a house and renting it can still allow you to travel and see the world. The thing I've learned is that you don't have much money in your twenties so traveling seems too expensive then. When you have kids, traveling is harder, you have more expenses and it's a gong show traveling with babies and all their equipment. I've never regretted any trip I took to the Caribbean or South America. But I've always regretted not going to Europe or Japan.

Also, I've lived in Charlottetown, Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Calgary in my 20s and 30s. This was wonderful to experience so many lifestyles and expose myself to different regions. You can start to appreciate a simple life style, in my case, PEI country living once you've seen how others live. It made me realize I'm not really a city mouse although that's what I was drawn to in my 20's. Country mice can have simple life styles that sure as hell beat the stress of rush hour traffic, high prices and keeping up with the Joneses.

4. Never regret not sowing your oats. Sometimes you marry your high school sweetheart sometimes you don't. Dating a lot makes you realize when you found a compatible mate, but sometimes you have one right now and the grass isn't always greener.

5. Have kids! My daughter has taught me to aspire to a much simpler life. One that involves family at the heart of it. Staying fit, active and healthy is top priority now, over owning a big house. Getting back to basics and aspiring to travel together and live frugally is what I want to share with my daughter. She may not inherit a mansion, but she will have quality time with her mother.


By day, Lorrie kills it as Creative Director for ScreenScape. We share a love of jasmine green tea and have both been thinking a lot these days about simplifying our lives. 

Lorrie's kick butt at karate, and manages to juggle a busy work schedule and being mom to a beautiful Vaeda Zo.
You can find Lorrie over at shizamo where she has been blogging for over ten years. Wowza.

Thanks, Lor, for contributing to my advice series!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

22 weeks: a pregnancy update

We hit 22 weeks gestation last Friday!

I wish I could say the last two weeks have been fairly uneventful, but that's just not so. Shortly after my last update, our doctor's office called to let me know the results of our ultrasound. The ultrasound showed an echogenic focus on the heart and an echogenic bowel. "Echogenic" refers to brightness on an ultrasound; white is bone, and black is fluid. When there is too much white in a place that should be fairly dark, it is noted in the ultrasound report. Echogenic spots are soft markers for genetic disorders. On PEI, if your ultrasound shows two or more spots, you are automatically sent over to Halifax to the IWK Children's Hospital for a second look by a specialist. 

Let me just say this: it's scary to get a call from your OBGYN nurse saying that there may or may not be something wrong with your child's health, but she can't say for certain, and you have to travel 3.5 hours to a specialist to get things checked out, but not for another 10 days!! After my phone call, I had myself a good cry (thanks, pregnancy hormones.)

Thankfully, we are surrounded by family and friends who love and support us, and have been praying for peace over us in the last week, as well as health (and/or healing!) for our child. We knew that this appointment in Halifax wasn't a diagnosis, but rather, a checkup on the baby, so we did our best to leave our worries with God, since He already has a plan for us and this child anyway!

Our appointment was Monday. We are SO happy to report that the specialists at the IWK couldn't find anything wrong with our baby - nothing at all! Everything is measuring according to normal standards, the baby weighs 1.3 lbs, and at one point during our ultrasound, had one foot all the way up over its head! Baby was being very modest, crossing its legs at the ankles and hiding its gender from us (thankfully!) If there had been any issues resulting from Monday's ultrasound, we would have had to stay for some more testing, but as it stands the entire appointment only took twenty minutes!

I felt like jumping up and down, dancing and telling everyone I saw that our baby is fine! I restrained myself, though. Besides, after the appointment we had to drive home so there were several hours in a car still to be spent.

We got back to the Island around dinner time, so we went out to celebrate our good news - and to commemorate our "three years of dating" anniversary! It was a great day to spend with my husband, reflecting on the last three years and thinking about what is yet to come. 

As for other pregnancy related updates...

  • Baby's kicks are getting a lot stronger and are starting to be outwardly visible. He/she moves around for most of the day and I've started to notice a reaction to food shortly after I eat. For example, about an hour after my spicy burger on Monday night, Baby rolled and kicked really hard!
  • I've been craving homemade milkshakes. We've gone through more ice cream in the last month than we did in all our married months before that! I tell myself it's okay because they're homemade, so I know exactly what goes into my shakes. And of course, "I'm supposed to be gaining weight, right?"
  • At my OB appointment last Thursday, I weighed in at 10 lbs heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight. Yippee! I've started to gain, at last! Now, to keep it under control and in a healthy range.
Since I can, I'll leave you with one more picture of Baby DeHaan. He/she is sporting that adorable, kissable nose, and after seeing him/her move around again yesterday, I have been overcome with an intense ache in my arms to hold this precious child. :) (Someone please remind me of this when I am at my wit's end in a few months, okay? Haha!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: pray. pray often. pray about everything.

At the age of 23, I had been married to my best friend Ken, for 2 years and 4 months. Joshua was just over a year. We were just moving back to our hometown after being away for a year and a half. My husband was hired to teach at the school he had been longing to. We were living in town in a great apartment, just down the street from where I lived the first 8 years of my life. I spent my days caring for Josh, reading and going for walks downtown. I have such a small memory of that apartment. We were only there for a few months before we moved to the country! (O:

We were happy and content. But I think if I could sum up my life around my 23rd birthday, I would say I was so very young and immature in the things that mattered. Sure I was a loving mom and wife, but my priorities were all wrong.

I was a Christian. There is no doubt that I believed. But I was one with a small faith and a pretty much non-existent prayer life. I also rarely opened my Bible. I didn't know what it was to be dependent on the Lord and I didn't appreciate the sacrifice He made for me in giving His Son.

On September 25, 2012, thirteen years will have passed since I was 23. I feel like I have lived thirty years of life in those thirteen. The most important thing I have learned is that first of all, you need to make God the centre of your life. Every single breath you take should be lived in thankfulness to the Creator who graciously gave you life and who sent His Son.

Secondly, God is faithful and never changes. No matter what road He puts you on, He will never leave you. He will always be there to give you the strength you need for that moment. God is merciful and gracious and has a wonderful plan for each of us, even if we can't see it in the moment.

I would also encourage you to be hospitable. Make it part of your routine. Invite people over for coffee or for supper, even if you are nervous about how good your coffee making skills are. (o: For some people hospitality is something that takes practice, so start early.

Be financially responsible. Making mistakes early on can really put you in a mess. It's not just the mess that is the problem, it's that we are called to be faithful with what the Lord has given. Remember that everything you own belongs to Him.

Pray. Pray often. Pray about everything. He knows. He hears. He answers.


God has chosen quite a journey for Belinda, and for her family. I've followed her blog as long as she's been writing, and enjoy reading each post - whether it's a quick family update or a thought-processing post. We grew up in the same home church but have both since moved away. 

I'm grateful to Belinda for sharing her advice. She has a way with words! :-)

Monday, April 20, 2015

our honeymoon on cape breton island

What an appropriate post to write on the 3rd anniversary of our first date - our honeymoon! :)

Following our wedding, we drove off to Cape Breton for a week of relaxation in a cabin on the top of a mountain. For those of you who live in actual mountains, I should clarify - it's really like a large hill, but compared to what we have on Prince Edward Island, this was a mountain! 

These pictures are in a strange order and I'm not sure how to change them around, so bear with me. Instead of captions I'll summarize for you. We visited the Alexander Graham Bell museum, Baadeck Yarns (of course I dragged my new hubby into a yarn store!! He was a good sport about it, too), ate such good food at so many great restaurants, failed miserably at trying to take pictures of ourselves together, drove the Cabot Trail, went to the Sydney Miner's Museum (think short thoughts if you ever do this - you will be bending over for most of the time!), built campfires, relaxed at the cabin, watched several movies, and talked about everything under the sun.

It was a beautiful week. I have treasured memories from our honeymoon - our first trip away together as a couple, solidifying our love of road trips!

Enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: God knows the plans he has for you

My 23rd birthday was quite memorable for one main reason: I was 38 weeks pregnant with my first child, and had no idea how much of a change becoming a mother would make on my life! 16 days later, we had our beautiful baby boy and life as I knew it changed forever. In that way, 23 was a big year for me.

A little background: I got married at 19, moved 3000 km from 'home' (the US) to Canada, and started a whole new life. I was still riding the wave of confidence and security that had carried me through high school, when life was 'easy' (if only I had known and appreciated it then!) through the first years of marriage and life in a new place...but at the age of 23, that 'confidence' was challenged as I experienced something that nothing in my life could have prepared me for: motherhood.

Before that 23rd birthday, and the soon following birth of my son, I could meet almost any challenge head on. I think the birth of my son was the first big event in my life that had really 'rattled my cage' and shown me that I did NOT know it all. Not that he was a difficult baby, actually he was pretty good...but when another life is fully dependant on you for their survival, you can't help feeling the weight and importance of responsibility.

I think that I needed that...that situation that shook up my sweet little life, and showed me that I didn't know it all...couldn't do it all without help...needed to rely on others & God for help.

Now, facing motherhood is not something I expect you'll face this year, but it's just one example of a situation that can SO shake you to the core that you don't know how to deal with it....moving, being away from loved ones, jobs, finances, and so much more...any of these things can make you question the security and the confidence that you have as a child of the Saviour. My 'advice' (and I really feel inadequate to give ANY) is that when one of the world-rocking challenges comes, cling fast to the knowledge that God has led you here. He has led you down the path He indended for you to go, and has prepared you for the work that He has for you to do...He 'Knows the plans I have for you, declares the Lord' and it is no mistake that you are where you are.

Now, I am 28, and ironically enough, pregnant with my 3rd child. I don't have it all figured out...I don't think I ever will, at least I hope not. Because when you face life feeling like you know it all, there is no room for God. He needs to break us down so that there is room for Him in there. It's terrifying and frustrating, expecially for a 'control freak' like me...but it is God's work in us to do.


Many thanks to Heather for sharing some valuable advice today! And she's right, I'm not expecting to face motherhood this year (or any time soon!) but the advice to trust God's plan carries through all aspects of life.

Heather is mom to Willem and Adlih, wife to Randall, and a creative sewing genius. Randall and Heather are expecting Baby #3 this winter. The kids are excited to be getting a "boy baby."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Advice to my 23 year old self: with joy and gladness

Do you remember a few years ago when I turned 23? A group of lovely ladies contributed advice over the weeks leading up to my birthday. These posts were so full of gems that I would like to recycle them and share once again with you, even though there is no particular birthday coming up. I've turned back to them time and time again to re-read, so I hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane!


Dear Sarah,

So youʼre going to be 23. It seems like a long time ago since I was that fact it is a long time ago, 35 years to be exact. Well I remember the day. January 21, a cold and snowy day. The family was over for the usual celebrations. We were crowded into a small apartment...a two bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor of an old apartment building. Itʼs still there, that apartment building, near the top of St. George Street hill, tucked in beside what used to be Valleyview Homes. 

view from the apartment building, winter's almost over!
Crowded with the usual celebrants, parents, siblings and three little ones of my own. Corey, my oldest had yet to turn 3. Jonathan, not yet walking at 14 months, and a 2 month old. Arie was home though I donʼt remember if he had the full day off. He worked many hours during the time that we lived in the apartment, oftentimes as many as 24 hrs in a row. It was during his stint in the CID department. It was during my birthday party that I was devastated by the news that Piet Koomans, a good friend, was fighting for his life at Victoria Hospital. He had broken both his legs in a work related accident. Bone marrow had seeped into his bloodstream and clogged up his lungs. He lived, but in a vegetative state for many years.

That winter was long and hard, weather wise - most days I could not even look outside for the thick layer of frost covering the windows. I suppose some would say it was long and hard for me too; 3 little ones, Arie hardly home from work, building a house out in the country (doing as much work as we could ourselves to save money we didnʼt have.)

We had no washer and dryer in the apartment. Disposable diapers were mostly unheard of, cloth diapers it was - for a newborn, a toddler, and a little one that was not dry at night yet. Needless to say that meant loads of wash! It was quite a routine - have the diapers rinsed out and rest of laundry ready by the apartment door, make sure the kids were either asleep, or well fed and safely occupied, a mad dash down 3 flights of stairs (no elevator!), run into the laundry room, insert quarter, add laundry and soap, mad dash up three flights of stairs, rush into apartment and make sure everything was still okay. 20 minutes later...a repeat performance to transfer the clean wash into the dryers. 45 minutes later another repeat performance to collect the fresh smelling dry laundry. Without going in to all the details of diaper changes, bottle feeding, cooking and cleaning suffice it to say it was a busy time.

Busy - yes, hard - sometimes, bad - no! I have fond memories of that time. Of all the days spent there one evening neither Arie nor I will ever forget. Arie was working late again but was finally on his way home. I had managed to get the kids all asleep and had the toys picked up- a feat in itself! When Arie came in, a dinner of pepper steak and stir fried veggies was just ready. We both sat on the living room floor at an old coffee table and enjoyed each otherʼs company, good food and some quiet time.

It does not take much to be happy. Itʼs the little things in life that give us joy and happiness. Do not discount the little things! Never forget in the busy-ness of life, wherever and however that may be, to take delight in the moment of time that God has granted you.

So often, we girls, and I am guilty of it too, though less than before, tend to idealize life. When our life does not match up to our dreams we can feel unfulfilled, cheated perhaps, unsatisfied and grumpy. Our ultimate fulfillment comes in and from God alone. He alone can make us truly satisfied, and will give us that peace that passes understanding. Do not dream your life away, it is idolatry and harmful for your soul. God graciously hit me between the eyes so to speak some years ago with Deuteronomy 28:46... "all these curses will come upon you because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything." He delights in blessing us, and will as He promised, in Christ Jesus.

May you be blessed, Sarah, on this your 23rd birthday as you delight in serving Him for all that he had given you - with joy and gladness.

With lots of love,
“Aunt” Helen


I can't remember a day where I didn't have an "Aunt" Helen and an "Uncle" Arie. Aunt Helen was my first Sunday School teacher. I have fond memories of sitting around her in class, listening to the Bible story unfold before us. Aunt Helen has been blessed with a wonderful gift of story-telling and I'm very thankful she shared a bit of her story here today!

(As an aside, I use the same book she used all those years ago, to teach "my" kids.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

living by the sea: down the hall & the music room

Today I'm continuing my tour of our home - at least, what it looked like when we bought it a year ago! Things are so much different today, I can hardly believe it used to look like this.

(Yes, I know I said yesterday was the last post...apparently I missed a big section of the main floor so there is one more post in this house tour series!)

See what I mean by all the carpet? Ugh. So gross. And that yellow on the walls...don't get me started. 

Our bathroom with it's picture perfect (ha) tub! What a pity that the blue tub and toilet are in great shape. They will be sticking around for a few years yet.

However, the blue floral wall paper and the oddly placed hanging light fixture had to go! it's the only change we've made to the bathroom so far, but it's been a great improvement already.

Next to the bathroom is a small, square bedroom. Baby D will call this his/her room come August. Don't you just love that beeeeautiful wallpaper?

Across the hall is what used to be the master bedroom. I am converting it to a workspace for myself. Again, more ugly carpet and faded wallpaper. So lovely?!

But the window! Oh my, how I love the natural light.

Our music room also has beautiful, large windows. X marked the spot only for a few days, but Shayne finished the room around Christmas time. It's dropped down about a foot so the ceilings are higher in this room than in the others. It's a great place for our piano, organ, violin, ukelele, bass guitar, and trombone...and any other musical instruments we can manage to collect over the years!

What do you think? Can you see all the potential that I did? It's been a lot of work and sometimes I can't see to the end of it, but one project at a time, we are bringing the house into this century!

Next up? The dining room and kitchen!
Blogger Template By Designer Blogs