08 August 2016

[cakes: Skylanders Cake ]

This morning the kids asked if we could see all of the birthday cakes I've made over the years.  With Mattias and Katia both having birthdays this month - they're busy plotting and planning for what they'd like me to make them this time.


So, I came here to look - and see that I haven't blogged since LAST YEAR??  Probably has something to do with the fact that we all catch up with each other daily with pics and posts on FB, IG + Snapchat ... who needs to blog??

Well -- the kids noticed that some of their cakes were missing, so apparently I do LOL.

It was really fun, though, looking through the pics.  The kids giggled and made fun of how messy their hair was, or how excited they were in the "reveal" pics.  Birthday cakes were never a big thing for me when I was growing up -- and I never actually intended for them to be so important to our own kids.  But some how they are.  

Mattias is turning 12 this week - and I said, "do you still want me to make you a cake?", thinking I wouldn't want to embarrass him.  His eyes got big, "MOM.  Your cakes are my favourite part!"

*warm fuzzy feelings*

Ok - so I'm backtracking right now.  Siah's birthday was in January, but here's the Skylanders Cake I built for him.   All of the cakes I do, I promise - they stress me out.  And when I searched on Pinterest for Skylanders cakes --- I just about fell over.  Special thanks too all of those professional bakers who inspire perfection ... but holy moly.  Not possible for me!!

Here's what I came up with ... pics of the cake, along with he "reveal".

Enjoy.


So, I didn't take any pics of the actual "building" of the cake - for some strange reason.  I took parts of other cakes I saw, simplified them - and created something that I could do without too much hair-pulling-out-of-my-head.


The cookies used as posts, or wood, or whatever they're supposed to be LOL - really helped me a lot. I mean, how hard it is to cut a cookie in half ... ?? 


I made the sheep -- I thought they were pretty cute.  I had no idea Skylanders had sheep lol.  Thanks again, Pinterest, for the ideas! 




 I used one of Siah's Skylander characters ... zero chance I was making one of those.


 The morning reveal ... a special time in our house ...




 Nothing makes it more worth it, like a big ol' happy kid.




I love how Siah inspects his cake ... he pays attention to all the details.  I love that.








He inspected it from all sides LOL ...




SO yeah. that was January's cake.  And in the next 2 weeks I'm going to be finding myself creating two more.

Tias wants a hockey cake ... um.  I failed to post his Canucks cake from last year ... 

Katia wants me to REMAKE her 3 year old Hello Kitty cake - the easiest, quickest cake I ever made. If I do that ... life will be easy!!  


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17 December 2015

[ The God of Grey // Shalom Hope. ]


I can feel it coming.  

It's a strange thing.  Somehow I must subconsciously know it's coming - or else i wouldn't feel as I do.  And when I feel it -- it's a totally sinking, dropping, nervous, anxious feeling.  Then, I look at the calendar and say ... 

"Oh right.  December 17th is almost here."

Loss has a way a rearing it's ugly head, even when you're not thinking a thing about it ... 

Every year I write about the passing of our daughter, Shalom Hope  ... in fact for this year? This would be the third draft.  It just never feels right.  The first draft I wrote was focussed on how unfair I still feel it is - having to undergo a pregnancy termination for a 21-week-gestation-baby who was desperately wanted.  Anencephaly ... there are no words in the english language to describe such a diagnosis ...  ( be warned // if you click that link, disturbing images may be seen ).   (Or -- if you don't know our story you can read that here ... )  But as I wrote my words down today, I felt the anger and frustration all coming back - and honestly - I really don't like that feeling that way all.  So I deleted it.

The second draft ... was kinda what my life's theme has been, as of late.    If you know me, I talk a lot about the God of Grey.  Perhaps this is my own way of dealing with some of my own life's circumstance.  Or maybe it's how I deal with a cruel world with my far-too-sensitive-heart.  Maybe my theologically is messed-up on that.  But I was taught that the roots of my Faith are black and white ... right or wrong.  No in-betweens.  Yet in my life, I have experienced that my God, my Father,  is a God of grey ... the things that maybe we don't know exactly what the right thing actually is.  For me, He is Just.  He is love.  He is compassion and broken hearted for how we fail to include Him.  He is grace and mercy and kindness.  After Shalom, I have found myself tending to go with extending my own grace to others, because I'm more inclined to believe now that, perhaps, His grace fills in that gap of the unknown.  Life experiences do that to you.

I know.

That gets me into heaps of trouble just by saying that.  But - don't be fooled.  I am a black and white kinda girl.  There are things that I know to be right, and things I know to be wrong.  But this life is full of things that may not be so simple.  I won't even list all the things that come to mind - there's no need to debate it *smile*.  Because at the end of it all, I am thankful for a God who is love and who loves me.

Who loves you.

It's strange.  When I sit and type about Shalom ... it's like ... it's like it's all happening all over again.  Without the overwhelming panic, of course.  Time has dulled that  ... and you know what's so strange?  Is that I remember, honestly, trying to figure out how I would survive the next five minutes of my life - the grief was so drowning ... and now?  I can actually smile when I say her name.  Sometimes I cry, but mostly - I don't.  I survived - and more than just survived - I learned and I am so grateful, now that I look back.

Does that seem strange?  That I'm grateful?

Well.  I am.

Without Shalom's story, my life would be nothing like it is now.  Without Shalom, I would never have the empathy for others that I have now.  The compassion for the broken, the marginalized.  Because of my own loss, I have found my way to being a fixture at Recovery Church.  It's a HUGE part of who I am ... not only because I see myself in every one of the faces in the crowd, but because of the solid friendships that have come from being a part of RC.  Yes, I see myself in every man + woman who comes to RC because the only difference between me and them, is that they chose substances to bandage their pain.  And tho I contemplated those very thoughts, I was saved by having a relationship with the Lord and by my village of family and friends around me.

I don't see people who use substances as poor-choice-makers, as low-lifes.  I see them with lives so broken, that using was their best given option.  I am thankful for those kind of eyes to see them with ... I think that's a gift worth being thankful for.

So yeah -- another year gone, but I will be totally honest.  I'm looking forward to Dec18 ... so these seemingly-never-ending-butterflies and restless nights will be gone.  I'm pretty sure I don't dwell on it ... but it's still unintentionally there, and time has a way of making the loss less ugly each year.  Isn't that an amazing thing?  I mean - when we go through something horrible, if we can hang on --- eventually it dulls.  Maybe not entirely, but time does have healing properties to it.  I'm grateful for that.

I guess where this is all leading to - is to remind us all that when we think the pain of life is literally going to shatter you ... it actually won't.  Not if we reach out.  Not if we accept help.  Not if we push aside our pride and be vulnerable with those we love.

I'm still smiling, after thinking that I would never smile again.  I literally believed that.  And thinking I would never be able to do anything again - without reliving our story in every painful detail.  That is so far from the truth.  You live, you learn - you grow.

Hmm.

I realize that this is a bit all-over-the-place.

Probably because that's how I'm feeling.  

01 October 2015

[talk: I've Got Something To Say.]

It's been a while since I've blogged ... most times, it's about a recent event or pics of something important to our little family.  But today - I'm going to be vulnerable and talk, er - write, about something that I'm currently going through.

To catch up you to speed - if you don't know me all that well - here's a crash coarse on who Tawn is:

1.  I began music lessons at the age of 3 on the violin.
2.  My first solo at church was at the age of 3.
3.  I began piano lessons at the age of 4.
4.  I quit violin after finishing my grade 8, to concentrate on piano.
5.  I began worship leading at my church's youth group at age 14.
6.  I began teaching piano at age 14.
6.  I began leading worship in the main service at age 17.
7.  I finished my ARCT in piano performance at age 17 before finishing high school.
8.  I completed my ARCT Teachers and AVCM Teachers and ran a music studio for a decade.
9.  I am currently responsible for the worship at Recovery Church, and am active in all parts of worship at CLA church (retreats, main service(s), events ...)
10.  I have been offered Music Pastor positions at various churches, but have always felt called to my home church - as a volunteer.  I have never been on staff.

So.  There you have it.   My musical identity in a nutshell.  

My identity.



Then, about three years ago, I got a bout of laryngitis during our Christmas Production.  I lost my voice completely and still attempted to sing a solo.  It was so frustrating.  Since then, my voice is the first thing to be attacked when I get sick.  Generally, I have a pretty strong alto-voice, but it vanishes into choppy, non-reliable notes when this happens.  

Fast forward to four weeks ago, when I felt it coming on again.  I got the sniffles, and felt my throat tightening up.  I was leading on the Sunday morning for both services, and knew that I was going to be pushing it.  It felt hot, it felt tight - but I gave it my all  - like it was the last time ever.  Which in hindsight, is possible.

These past four weeks,  I've been protecting my voice.  Not talking as much, not raising my voice and absolutely no singing.  I finally got in to see my doctor this past Monday and he immediately put me on "vocal rest" until I get in to see the ENT (ears/nose/throat) Specialist.

When will I get in to see the ENT?  I have no clue but until then, it's silence for me.  That's frustrating because my voice may be totally fine;  these last 4 weeks may have rested it enough.  But maybe not.  It's better to be safe than sorry. 

I am capable of talking - I've just been instructed to not to.  Singing?  I don't know if I can.  I haven't tried.  It's completely off the table for now.

It does FEEL a lot better, for sure - whatever that means.

In this season, life is tricker.  Parenting is more work -- trying to get a child's attention over the volume, without a voice?  Hard.   I do a lot of whistling LOL and I have a cool app on my phone that gets their attention.

It's lonely.  The phone rings - I can't answer it.  I can't meet people for coffee, I can't read bedtime stories, I can't have a conversation at the dinner table, I can't sing at the piano (although I've been playing a lot more).  Drive thrus are a no-go for after school snacks on the way to piano lessons.  Things you don't even think about, feel a lot different.  I noticed that people tend to get frustrated when they can't hear me as I mouth words - or - they try and make light of it.  I will try and mouth words, and they tease me.  It's totally all done in fun - but I sometimes just want to cry out of my own frustration.   I'm ok with this journey,  but I don't really  find it super "funny" *wink*, you know?

If you tried to not talk for an entire day -- you'd realize that it's not easy.  And you'd probably just give up.  But I have the doctor's words in my mind - where he said, "if there is something wrong - you MUST let it heal or you may never sing again."

SIGH.

But in the silence, there have been SUCH bright moments too.  It's amazing how much you observe when you're listening or watching others talk.  Most times, people aren't actually listening to each other - they're thinking about how THEY want to reply.  For me - not having the ability to answer has reminded me to really listen.  And more importantly, I now realize how I HAVEN'T been listening for so long as I watch others do the same.

My house is much quieter.  No yelling up and down the stairs ... and I move my butt if I need to communicate with someone instead or shrieking it across the room.  The kids are catching on too -- the volume has gone down a lot.  That's a good thing LOL.

God's timing is always perfect.  Now - I don't know if this was His plan to start with, or if I just simply overused my voice - yadayadayada.  Although I'm a very spiritual person, I tend to not "over spiritualize" things.  BUT.  I do know that the timing of this is very ... interesting.

At the end of the month, I am heading overseas with a team from our Recovery Church.  I can't talk, I can't sing.  I will have to be creative ... and find my purpose somewhere else.  That kinda excites me and terrifies me all at the same time.

In addition to that,  I am an active participant of our Worship Dept Core Team, and am super excited about changes there.   We've been meeting these past couple of months, with so much thought and prayer going into new vision.  SO exciting.  Tonight we are having our first Creative Night and I have never felt more valuable and more of a team player as I do right now - even without a voice.   My "person" in valued, not my ability.  If I never sing again ... I can train.  I can raise-up.  I can support.  I can teach.  I can encourage.  I can listen.  I can love.  I am valuable without being on stage.

Duh  :).  

I already knew that.  

See we all know that our identity cannot be in WHAT we do, because we realize that those things can be changed in a moment.  But having an opportunity to be reminded that my value is in WHO I am, and even more importantly - who I am because of what Christ did for me -  has been timely.

Those words make us sound smart and humble when we say them - but it's much harder to live them.  Trust me.  Having refreshers on these life-lessons, is so important.

In the first couple of weeks - I shed a lot of tears.  I panicked about being "pink slipped" from the team, about being replaced, about not being valuable.  I required affirmation - encouragement.  Now -  I am living my value, I am listening more, I am holding on to the silence more.  I am confident in this journey.  

I don't know what the future holds for me,  but I can honestly say that I'm not worried.  I will keep praying and believing for complete healing and will keep asking for increased opportunities.  But I know my role, I know where God has called me to be -- and I will wait patiently as best as I can.

Besides,  I'm actually getting used to being quiet ... 

Ask my brother.  That - in itself - is a miracle.

Have a great one! xx

19 August 2015

[talk: Tias' Baptism.]

I haven't blogged in a long time ... honestly - summer has been SO much more full than I had expected + blogging just hasn't been a priority.  I blog to let my out-of-town family know what's going on in our little lives ... but - you're reading this - so it connects me with YOU too!

This, I definitely wanted to blog:  Mattias' Baptism.

This evening exceeded all and every expectation I had.  When our friends Jason + Kevin,  who happen to pastor our Recovery Church, asked my hubby and I about Tias' baptism -- we kinda looked at them with blank faces.  Tias is a "young" eleven (just turned last week) - and the girls his age had already been looking into getting baptized ... while he hadn't even spoken of it with us.  

Many of our close friends have a child the same age as Mattias, and they will all be attending our pre-teen church camp (Rev Camp) together in a few weeks.  It's a known thing that many campers choose to get baptized there - which is so great.  But we, as parents, decided that we wanted this to be a "family" thing - something we didn't want to miss.

That sparked a lot of conversation in our home - and over the next month or so we talked to Mattias about the purpose behind choosing to be baptized.  That ultimately, it was publicly stating his intentions to follow Christ.  Baptism is a symbol - not salvation.  He wouldn't be proclaiming that he would be perfect, that he'd never fail, never doubt.  It wasn't some unobtainable goal or oath ... it was simply the recognizing of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit and his desire to follow his faith.

He was totally in.

So - we began to plan ... 

Both Jason and Kevin have homes on the lake, which is where they thought would be the perfect location.  They invited a number of families of children the same age - some who couldn't make it, unfortunately - but four families could.  We came for a BBQ potluck dinner before hand and were encouraged to invite the grandparents for 7pm -- dessert and baptisms.







After dinner, Kevin and Jason took the four kids to do a "class" --- to explain more about the decision they were making, making sure this was their choice --- and let them know what questions they would be asked, in front of their families.


That's when my parents arrived.  Now - I took a LOT of photos; photos of all the families.  But I'm going to just share Mattias' story - not all of the other kid's - here.  Their stories are their own, told by their families ... 



This is my friend Charlene ... we've been dear friends since I was 14 and she was 12 ... a lot of history, a lot of laughs, a lot of tears.  How amazing that our kids were getting baptized together ... 



Everyone gathered on the deck - and it began.



Both Kevin and Jason shared.  Both come from a life of addiction - both have completely restored lives with solid marriages and families.  When they speak of the grace and love of the Lord, they KNOW what they're talking about.


And Mattias was chosen to go first ... 



They asked him about his love for God, his belief in His son, Jesus - the Saviour of our sins.  And if it was his desire to serve Him all the days of his life ... 




The grandparents were beaming ... I was so grateful they could all be there -- it was incredibly special.




So upon his declaration of faith - he was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  





And we all cheered!!



The three other children followed suit ... and were baptized as well.



Then, they all stood together while the grandparents prayed out loud for them from where they sat.


And Jason and Kevin had arranged to have certificates printed out for each child ... wow.  So thoughtful!




It sits in Mattias' room, as I type this ... 





After that, it was pretty much over -- the grandparents all left, and we were all just on a bit of a buzz from the whole thing.  It had been so exciting, so incredibly special ... 





So - yeah.  I mean - I'm hoping that Josiah and Katia will have the same opportunity to have an evening set aside for such a momentous  occasion ... 

Good thing Jason has a son and daughter the same age as them *wink* ... 

 Have a great one!

** If you happened to notice my RHP watermarks on the the images - you can head to my RedHanded Photography site HERE for further information on pricing and packaging xx **