Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Samuel turns 1!



Exactly 1 year ago, our greatest little treasure and joy came into this world! I have to take a moment to share that day bc it was an amazing experience for me. I love birth. It can change our lives if we let it. Samuel's was the hardest physical feat I have ever been through. Intense. And divine. I am forever grateful to Philip, our midwives Jeanne and Joanna, and my sister, Candace for their love and support that day...and my Mom on FaceTime 😉. That day changed my life and has taken me pretty much a whole year to process. Recovery was hard, those early days were hard. But man, I barely remember the struggle when my boy smiles at me.

It's been the coolest, most challenging, beautiful, experience of my life becoming a Mother. 
Samuel Jonathan Day, you are indeed our greatest adventure and joy. Your smile and your joy are contagious. We can't go out without someone stopping us to say how handsome you are, how gorgeous your eyes are, or how smiley you are. You have taught us how to be free and unashamed. Thank you my sweet boy. We love you more than you'll ever know, but here's to a whole life-time of showing you 💛


#theadventuresofsamueljonathan #the3littledays #birthwithoutfear #homebirth 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Continuing on the journey...

Today I changed a profile picture.  Seems harmless and I probably wouldn't normally give it a second thought.  However this particular picture was posted at the start of this blog...with my Dad's memory in mind.  I started Hannah's Day blog to share my thoughts on grief, cooking, hobbies and really anything in which I could gain my voice back after his death...so it was fitting to have a picture of me and my Dad.

The last few weeks I've had the thought of changing my picture on here.  I wanted it to serve as a marker.  Then that lovely voice would poke its head and say "Gosh, then you are forgetting. You don't want to forget, Hannah, do you?!"  For any of you that has lost someone, whether to death, ended friendships or moves, you've heard that voice too...the one that makes it hard and sometimes impossible to pick up your feet to walk forward because for some reason moving forward is congruent with forgetting.  It's a pretty loud voice sometimes...even when it comes to changing a little picture.

I didn't particularly want to change my picture.  It wasn't like I needed to put a new one up.  There was another voice I heard, however, the One that belongs to my biggest fan, the One cheering me on and understanding (better than I) that moving forward is the only way to go.  This One's voice reminds me that I cannot stand still although at times I need to pause; I cannot go back although it is good to remember.  It reminds me that I must continue to on the journey.

Heaviness fills my heart most times when I think of continuing on the journey because it feels like the further forward I go the further back my Dad's memory is.  I know this isn't the truth, but it is a very strong feeling that I can't shake sometimes. Continuing the journey, differently than you imagined when you started, it very hard.  It takes courage from the depth of your soul.  Courage to face the next joy.  I say joy because when you've lost someone, at least what I'm finding, is it takes more courage to face joy because that means you have to push through that voice that says, "You can't really find joy if you're Dad's not here to enjoy it with you." 

I'm finding in this season (especially) that my Mom's words ring true, "It isn't an either/or thing, it needs to be both/and."

She's right.  Continuing on doesn't mean choosing between moving forward or keeping my Dad's memory close.  Doing one does not negate the other although that voice would like us to think so!  No.  Continuing on the journey means I get to choose moving forward and holding my Dad close. Maybe the first step of continuing on the journey is changing a profile picture.  Further still, maybe continuing on the journey will one day be growing our family or moving to a new home that Dad was never in.  Each step being a feat to face and victory to overcome with more and more freedom on the other side of both.  I can have both/and - choosing to move forward and having joy can be my option.

So...I'd like to choose that one please...continuing and joy.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Persimmon Cookies


Persimmon Cookies

Today is the second time in three weeks that I've made these bad boys! They will delight your taste buds so I thought I'd share the recipe. These delicious treats made their way into my family when I was in high school when my Dad decided to start baking -- One day I got home from school during the holiday season it look like the kitchen had exploded with cookies and treats! It was awesome!

Two weeks ago was my first go at making these myself and they will now become a regular Fall/Winter treat!  Enjoy the recipe as I got it from my Dad and he probably got it from who knows where...but it's in my family cookbook now so try it for yourself and enjoy them during the holidays :-D


Persimmon Cookies

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup persimmon pulp (I scooped the insides out of the skin and stuck it in a blender - easy peasy)
2 cups flour (white or wheat work; I've done 1 cup white and 1 cup wheat...if you have wheat you're trying to get rid of, use it! Works great!)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg.  Dissolve soda in persimmon pulp (it'll harden a bit, that's fine) and add to butter mixture.  Mix well.  Add dry ingredients, raisins and nuts -- pic below.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a greases cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 mins or until lightly brown.  Smaller cookies work great for this!

consistency of dough

Monday, November 3, 2014

You Are Here

I came across this song today...incredible reminder of being present in the now...you are here.

Enjoy!


You Are Here - The Wailin' Jennys

You Are Here

You wonder why you wonder when
You wonder how now and then
How you became who you’ve become

You are here
And yet you dream of being there
Of being where you think the good life has begun

Every darkened hallway
Every fallen dream
Every battle lost and
Every shadow in between
Will bring you to your knees and
Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases
For getting out or trading places
And there’s no turning back
No you are here

Who can say who made the choice
In the matter of your birth
Who brought about that fateful day
Well you are here and born with fire and desire
You’re the only one can stand in your own way

And every broken arrow
Every hardened smile
Every foolish gamble and
Every lonely mile
Will bring you to your knees and
Closer to the reason

And there’s no making cases
For getting out or trading places
And there’s no turning back
No you are here

And every sign of love
Every seed that’s growing
Every sweet surrender
To that silent knowing
Will bring you to your knees and
Closer to the reason


And there’s no making cases
For getting out or trading places
And there’s no turning back
No you are here

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another Anniversary



Today marks another anniversary.  Year 3.

Sometimes I sit and wonder if this is real life.  Did Dad actually die?  Has it really been 3 years?

Questions regularly fill my mind, especially this time of year, but my grief is different these days.  My heart less heavy, my mind less distracted by the realization that he is indeed gone.  Never feeling "better now," but feeling more "okay" with each passing day.

Today I don't really want to be on my phone or on social media as I want to be in this day myself.  Please don't confuse that with thinking that I want to be alone!  No, I just want to be with my own thoughts and self today.  The last 3 years I've felt this, a little bit...but this year it's really all I want to do - to find a spot and sit with my Dad and myself.  To be.

Today is different for me too because in this journey of moving forward, I find myself being okay with not posting a picture of my Dad out of remembrance.  Strangely it's partly to do with not having any new photos of him.  I know this is part of moving forward.  It's always a struggle for me not to feel guilty in moving forward.  Thankfully, to combat the guilt I can always go back to my Dad's very words, "Keep living life!  Do not stop!"  I am blessed to even have a video message of him saying it to me...to us.

I am grateful of all the friends and family that join me in celebrating my Dad's life, especially today, but really most days.

Today I hold grief and hope in both hands.

Today, and every other day, I remember my sweet Papa, his legacy, and the brave choices and love he lived.

Today I choose to keep moving forward and being okay, knowing I'm actually honouring my Dad.

Today I am blessed that I get to feel the great loss his absence is in my life.  Yes, I get to feel it.

Today I see all the hard work I've sewn in coming to this place of "okay-ness."  Not "better," but "okay."

Today I continue to choose to be thankful no matter the circumstances.

And today, when I think of my blessings, I count my family twice.

October 21st will always be my special day, just me and my Daddy.



Enjoy this video we had at Dad's memorial service.  And as always, if you have a memory of my Dad, please be free to share it in the comment section below.  I love hearing how he's touched other peoples' lives.




Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 Family Pictures

St Paul Photo Co.

I am so excited about pictures! A few months back Phil and I decided we wanted to take new family pictures since the last time he and I did them was our engagement pictures, 4 1/2 years ago! I am excited to share these and the beautiful work of Ashley Rick at St Paul Photo Co. She was amazing during the shoot and I recommend her for any setting :-)

Here you go!



Sunday, October 12, 2014

People of Promise

Photo by the lovely Becca Pleuler


I had the honour of speaking at church a few weeks ago.  Here is the sermon if you'd like to have a listen. You can listen online or download for later.

Be encouraged! :)

People of Promise - Hannah Day

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

God Is Not A Sleep Number Bed


photo by Elizabeth Dipprey

Last Sunday, August 10th, Philip had the privilege of preaching at our church, Zimmerman Community Church.  This time when he spoke, he preached on something God has been putting in his heart...and if you read my previous post about Growing, there is a similar theme in the season God has been bringing Phil and I both through.

I want to share his sermon entitled, "Got Is Not A Sleep Number Bed," with you.  Be encouraged. Be challenged.  Keep pursing Jesus even when it gets uncomfortable!  Enjoy :-)

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Passing Through



Tomorrow marks 3 years. 

The day after Mom and Dad’s 31st Anniversary.

3 years since my family received news that would change our lives and our dreams.  Maybe it’s because I have time to think today, on a day off, but I feel this day the last 2 years has come and gone.  But this year, I have time, or maybe space, to remember.

I want to remember that Skype call we received June 8th, 2011.  It was Philip, John-Michael, Candace and myself with my Mom and dear friend Rob on the other side.  She shared the heart stopping news with us and if there were ever a moment in my life of shock and time ceasing to move, it was that moment.  
Wait, my Dad has been given 6-12 months to live? My Dad. No. He has to meet my kids! He can’t die! Is this really happening?
Those were the majority of my thoughts in that moment. In the next, the Holy Spirit spoke to me, “Peace, Hannah girl. Peace.” And my mind slowed and I allowed the tears to come. Our dear friend Rob sang over us before we left and then, the four of us, alone in a small office, cried and held each other.
I tell people often that never in my life would I choose to have this in common with anyone. I would never even wish this on my fiercest enemy.
Grief is a lonely road. Very few choose to journey it with you. Since that day, 3 years ago, I have experienced the greatest loneliness, deep in my soul. I have had nights of sobs and days of pain. Although I will never say, “Okay, I’m better now,” I will say the intense pain and sorrow does get lighter…but never leaves. I would never choose for it to leave if it means I would stop having capacity to relate to the brokenhearted.  Jesus knew this pain and sorrow the best, and I desire with my whole soul to be like Him.
I wish I never had to say bye to my Dad. I wish I never had to experience this degree of pain and heartbreak. I wish a lot of things these last 3 years, but I am always, always reminded of what a friend spoke to me shortly after my Dad died. She reminded me of Psalm 23, one of my favourite Psalms.  She pointed out something I had never recognized before in the valley of the shadow of death…we must pass through.
Not long ago I found a video of my Dad shortly after he was diagnosed with stage 4,  inoperable, metastasized cancer.  He said, “Keep living!  Don’t stop because of the news we have received. Keep living life to the fullest!”  What a brave man.  Since then, I have faced other challenges in which I have felt pressured to stop or dwell on the hardship…but, I remember what my Dad said, and choose to keep living and moving forward.
I’m not sure if my Dad knew it when he said it, but when he told us to keep living and keep running the race, I think he also meant what Psalm 23 says, for us to pass through.  Do not get stuck or stop. Do not go around. But pass through.  I believe it is in the “passing through” that we have the opportunity to see Jesus in more of His glory. In our deepest pain, he never wants us to go around or ignore it, but to pass through.  
As I say over and over again, never would I have chosen this journey. However, it has been in this journey that I have seen Jesus blessing the poor in spirit and the brokenhearted…only this time it is me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Growing


After writing my last post, I've started thinking of growth and what growing means and looks like.  I'm realizing that we choose whether we will grow or not.  I am very grateful that I have chosen growth over stagnation in my life.  That doesn't mean I haven't had (plenty) moments of stagnation, but I am beyond grateful that the Holy Spirit has got my attention before stagnation becomes too comfortable.  Phil and I are finding ourselves in a season of this together.  Facing the choice of whether to grow, or stay.

I had a friend in high school who used to say, "Hannah, your comfort zone is being uncomfortable!"  My, how I wish that were still true!  As an Missionary Kid I think it's easy to find myself thriving in uncomfortable situations...it becomes normal (and all MKs reply, "Here here!").  I am learning however, with age, it is easy to become comfortable with, well, comfort.  I've been living in America for 9 years now.  I can't believe it.  That's 9 years of consistent American addresses and driver's licenses.  I have found myself getting comfortable with comfort.  I have my life; it's stable, with a great husband, a wonderful church family, family living close by, buying a business (more later), and my Mom is thriving.  I'm comfortable!

I'm not saying that those things are wrong or bad, having a stable and wonderful life is great! But I find the older I get that it's easier to stay than to go, it's easier to continue routine than to be somewhat spontaneous, and it's easier to remain the same rather than growing.  Growing takes outside pressure, good or bad, to cause a reaction within us.  We choose whether we want that reaction to be good or bad.  When my Dad died, I had a choice...and continue to have a choice.  I can choose to remain angry (yes, Joyful Hannah was angry for quite some time!), or I can choose to grow.  Said differently, I can choose to pick up my cross and die daily, or not.

It always takes time to grow but the best place to start is by consciously choosing to grow.  It takes a choice...and a lot of hard work and humility.  I don't want to get too comfortable that I stop growing, no matter how old I get.  I want to pursue excellence and God's call for my life no matter how uncomfortable it may get.  I want to die daily...after all, isn't that being like Jesus?  I want to be like Jesus so badly...more than I want to be comfortable!  So I choose to change, or stay the same, whichever allows space in my heart to grow and become more like Jesus.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Grief


Seeing that I have been grieving one thing or another for most of my life, this is a beautiful quote that brings comfort to my heart.  I had to share. 


"Grief is neither a disorder nor a healing process; it is a sign of health itself, a whole and natural gesture of love. Nor must we see grief as a step toward something better. No matter how much it hurts—and it may be the greatest pain in life—grief can be an end in itself, a pure expression of love." 
Gerald May





Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Living on Purpose


For a while now I've wanted to write something about being intentional and living on purpose.  I've read and re-read, edited and re-edited this post several times.  Last week even, I got another nice encouraging kick in the pants after reading a friend's blog about a similar topic...so, finally, here are some thoughts...hopefully some clear thoughts :)



Sometimes, being the one in a different season as those around you can be really hard.  Loneliness is not uncommon nor feeling the need to compare oneself, regularly.  Sometimes you have days of feeling confident and fulfilled, but then someone makes a comment to you in passing or as a joke and it makes you reevaluate the course you have chosen.  At least that has been my experience.

Phil and I, even before we got married, decided to live our lives intentionally instead of allowing life to simply happen to us.  We are finding ourselves in another intense season of this choice.  This choosing to wait, on purpose, season.  Waiting.  I think we take for granted all these "normal" life things because in society, it's just "what you do," right?  Go to college.  Get married.  Buy a house.  Have kids.  I think one of the biggest misconceptions we can have is that we are out of control in regards to the timing of our lives.  Clearly said, many of us feel we don't have control of timing.  In Christian circles it is many times stated that "God is in control," and as much as I absolutely agree with that statement I would suggest that indeed God is in control AND has given us free-will to choose what direction to go.  Maybe not with every single event that happens in life, but I have found that people can choose when to say yes and when to say no.  That goes for life choices...and if you will, timing. Phil and I have learned that timing is incredibly important. 

Phil and I realized this principle early on.  We are in control of our response to life and the timing in which we choose to do things.  Seeking God on the timing for when things should occur in our life and seeking wise counsel (super important) are huge tips for success, no matter what stage of life you are in.  I've never been one for doing something just because everyone else is doing it, or because it's "normal"...and I guess that is a core belief that has permeated all of my life.  I want to do things on purpose.  To be intentional.  I want to intentionally get out of debt and not just hope for it to happen.  I want to intentionally do the best I can to create a safe environment for my kids for whenever they come and join us.  I want to be intentional about running our business effectively and wisely (more about this later).  I want to intentionally invest in friendships and not just hope they grow and flourish. I want to live on purpose.  Does this mean everything goes "according to plan"?  Of course not!  But it does mean that when surprises come, it's not because of irresponsibility but because, life happens.

Phil and I experienced the pressure of "normal" life early on in our relationship.  Since we first started dating we knew we were going to get married...we just weren't clear on the "when" part.  Most people would ask, "Well if you know, why don't you just get married then?"  We would say over and over again that we're waiting for God's timing.  God's timing is perfect and although we like to hurry it up sometimes, Phil and I are very sensitive to what His thoughts are with the timing in which we do things in our lives.  Going to college, getting married, having kids, buying a house, owning a business.  Although these are indeed "normal" life things, we always want God to have a say by intentionally asking Him what He thinks and how to proceed.

I am continually reminded of my parents whenever I feel frustrated about living on purpose.  They got married and 5 years later had my brother, their first child.  They were following the vision and Call God put on their lives to be Missionaries.  Do you know how many times people told my Dad, "Um Larry, are you sure about being a Missionary?  I think being a Youth Pastor or something would be better suited to you."  He was told that A LOT.  Seriously, he was told crap like very often.  And yet, he and my Mom held to their guns and waited for God's timing and direction.  All their friends were buying houses and having kids while they were raising money to go to AFRICA....HELLO?!  Who does that?  I do not say this lightly when I yell, PRAISE GOD my parents do that!  It took perseverance, tons of patience, and continually surrendering to The Lord.  That's the kind of couple I want Phil and I to be like.  A couple that lives life on purpose and intentionally, always asking God for His thoughts about our lives.

I love where Phil and I are at in life right now.  Believe me, I am more content now than I have been since my Dad died.  I think part of the reason for this is because Phil and I have chosen to live on purpose, and not simply allow life to happen to us.  Is it hard? Absolutely! But, when the hard times comes, it's a little easier to get through when we know we have chosen to be where we are at and following God in that direction.

God wants to take you on this wild ride of life.  Choose today to live on purpose.  Be thoughtful.  Be intentional about living. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tortillas

Home Made Tortillas

That's right folks, I am now into making my very own tortillas!  And can I say they are DELICIOUS!  Like, super delicious!

Philip and I get loads of recipes from our "buddy" Chef John over at FoodWishes.com  He is the man!  All his recipes are video blogs so you can actually watch him make the foods you are attempting.  I highly recommend his blog.  I'll post my pictures here and you can jump over to his site to get the recipe.  Enjoy!

Chef John's Flour Tortillas


Some optional topping if you make tortillas just to eat!

Makes 8 tortillas

Makes 8 tortillas
Cook them on an ungreased skillet

And you're done!  Yummy!

Homemade Pudding



I just tried a simple little pudding recipe from my Real Simple magazine and wanted to share. Very easy and you probably have everything on hand (except agave nectar, but I don't think it's even necessary).

1 cup milk
3 Tbs agave syrup
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (for flavour)
A pinch of salt

Chia seeds expand when wet. Cover your jar and shake. My magazine suggests to chill for 20 mins and serve with fruit, but I suggest to even leave it over night to give the seeds plenty of time to expand.  And that's it!  All done!  I'm going to use raspberries and they were delicious!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

New Bread Recipe


I have discovered another bread recipe that I like better than my previous recipe. The website I get this from has too many words so I will give you all the info you need, right from my memory!  The website is really helpful for pictures and the videos at the bottom of the post, so be sure to look at them! Try it and tell me what you think!

4 cups flour
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 Tb sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups of lukewarm water (1 1/2 cups cold & 1/2 cup of boiling is your best option!)

I use organic ingredients, but you can use whatever you'd like.

Step 1- Boil water.  In a measuring jug fill with 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of boiled water.  Add sugar and yeast.  Let sit until the yeast gets foamy...about 15 mins.  You can stir if you want, but I usually try and wait until after it foams.


Step 2- While yeast water is doing its thing, measure out salt and flour into a big bowl and mix together.


Step 3- a. Pour yeast water into flour after it's become foamy and b. mix.

Step 3a
Step 3b

Step 4- Once you have it all mixed together as shown in "Step 3b" cover with a towel.  Preheat oven on lowest temp (usually 170 degrees) for 1 minute and then TURN OFF and simply put your covered bowl into the oven to rise for 1-1/2 hours.


Step 5- When your bread has risen, you can grease 2 pyrex bowls.  Play with the sizes to see what you like.  I like using a bigger size than the original recipe calls for because I like my bread cut with longer slices.  In the pic below you see I used 2 different sizes and it worked fine.

Step 5


Step 6- a. This is the ONLY tricky part...and it's not that tricky but you'll want to watch the video because my picture doesn't explain it very well.  You will use 2 forks and pull the dough off the sides and fold into the middle.  Go around the bowl a few times.  You can also use one fork and one hand to hold the bowl (my problem!).  b. Once you're done folding the dough over itself, divide the bread into half.

Step 6b


Step 7- put the bread into your pyrex containers and let rise for another 20 mins.  I usually cover them again and put them on the oven while it's preheating to the cook temperature - 425 degrees.

Step 7

Step 8- put bread into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes and then 375 degrees for 17 minutes.  And...you're DONE!  Yip, all done! :)


Enjoy!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Homemade Kombucha



My first go and it looks great! In 5-10 days we'll see how it tastes :)

My friend Beth at church brought me some starter tea and a scobe (aka - baby). She sent me this website for a really easy way to make it! Kombucha is like bread...the basics are easy and then you can add variations the more familiar with the craft you get. It's fun!

I finished my batch this morning but ha loads of left over starter tea so I went ahead and bottled some mixing it with fruit and juice (both ideas friends suggested). I'm learning that the main batch of kombucha you don't want to flavour or mess with; let it grow by itself. But once it's done and you bottle it in smaller, ready to consume batches, that's when you can get creative :)

Here's the link I used from my friend Beth: http://www.getkombucha.com/kombucha-recipe/

Explanation of the picture above - Top left: The bottles and juices for the left over starter tea I had; the red coloured juices and fruit I used were 100% Cranberry juice with pineapple, and 100% Organic Pomegranate Juice with strawberries (I cut up the fruit quite small).  I only filled about 1/3 of the bottle and then the rest with tea; far right: that's my kombucha batch! I'll let it grow for 5-10 days and then start getting the tea out to bottle with fruit and juice.

All my supplies
Here are some more pictures:
My "mother" and some scobies

Cooling my tea


 

Monday, October 21, 2013

October Memories; Remembering my Dad

One of our last pictures together. August 2011. I loved making him laugh :-)



Wow...it has been a while!  I'm glad to report that my lack of writing (outside of recipes) is not because of anything bad, simply because it was a great last few months of fun summer activities!  It is nice to have bright days again :)


 In this post I want to share about my Dad.  On October 21st, today, it is 2 years since he passed away.  I haven't really been able to talk about it, except to close friends.  I want to share what it was like the few weeks leading up to his death.  Don't worry...this post won't be morbid.  Any of you that know me know I'll have some comic relief!  It is quite long, so just a heads up.  There may be parts that aren't too clear...I don't have a lot of emotional energy to do my own editing, just enough to get it written down.  Sorry if it is confusing; at least I got it out on paper, hehe.


*****

This time of year is always more difficult than the rest of the year.  Weather changing.  Less sunlight.  Some normal seasonal changes, but those seasonal changes always trigger memories of what my family went through during this time 2 years ago.  (Side note- I will only be sharing from my perspective.)

I am very grateful that the months my Dad was sick and near me, I did everything I could to be near him.  I remember thinking multiple times during those 4 months that if he did die (still was an "if" in my mind), I never wanted to regret not being near him as much as I was able.  So that was a priority to me. Most days, it was really uncomfortable.  What daughter wants to see her strong Dad not be strong?  But I never will regret being near him.

I think it was during this month that I felt the Lord teach me something new about His love.  On October 16th, it was Phil's birthday (still is...every year! He likes BIG presents ;)).  It was the first day when we actually thought Dad was going to die.  I went to Mom and Dad's condo and we called the family because he was really fading...we also canceled a party we had planned for Phil's birthday.  Some of you may remember that.  It was about 2pm, and I remember we all calmed down after calling the Hospice nurse and worrying that this was "the day," and then Dad started perking up a bit and asked, "So what time is Phil's party again?"

"Dad...you almost just DIED!  HELLO!  We canceled his party because we didn't want it to get you too tired and be loud."

"No.  Call people back.  We are celebrating Philip!  We are celebrating Life.  Philip is alive, so that means we will celebrate!"

Dang.  I'm sure one thing Dad loved about dying was people hardly EVER argued with him! Ha.  Who wants to argue with a dying man...especially when he's coherent and making TONS of sense! (it's okay to laugh here!)

So...we called people.  However, we were purposeful in who we called back.  By this point Dad had lost a lot of weight and didn't look good.  For me, it was hard to see him, so I knew it would be harder for people that barely knew him.  Phil chose some specific people to call back and re-invite to his Birthday.  And we celebrated.  The friends we had come were such a blessing.  No one acted weird or uncomfortable.  Dad sat in his chair and watched us all.  And I know, without a doubt, he enjoyed seeing Phil be celebrated so much!

It was this day that I learned something new about love.  It can be very uncomfortable.  I remember thinking, "I don't really care if people are uncomfortable being around my Dad.  I love him so much I just want to be in the same room as him...even if he looks sickly!"  And I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart...."Hannah, this is how I am with my kids...I just want to be in their presence."

Wow.  I'll never forget that.  I think I even shared that at my Dad's funeral in Ireland.  God simply wants to be in our presence because He loves us.  My Dad literally sat and did nothing for the party...but I could care less.  I sat at his feet, or by his chair, because I just couldn't get enough of him.  It was so incredibly hard...but my love for him completely overtook my feels of discomfort and I didn't care.

I miss that.  I know, it's a strange thing to say.  I do.  I miss just being in my Dad's presence.

It was after Phil's birthday that Dad started to decline pretty steadily.  I still don't remember if I thought he was actually going to die.  Silly me?  Maybe.  But I had never experienced death before.  The process of death I mean.  Phil's birthday was on a Saturday, and on Wednesday, a hospice nurse (sent by God himself I am sure!) came to check on my Dad.  Just routine stuff.  It was something she said though that changed me forever.  She was talking to my Dad about how he felt...he wasn't eating anything really and us "living" people were freaking out because hey, people are supposed to eat!  So we were concerned.  She explained to us that when our bodies are preparing to die, it's actually not good to eat.  People lose their appetite on purpose.  The body knows how to die.  Food and drink actually could have the effect of suffocation or drowning.  I think this was what started the conversation about dying...which none of us still really accepted.

She said to Dad, "Why are you fighting so hard?"  I can't remember quite what he said, but I'm sure it was around the lines of, "I'm fighting to stay alive"...probably for us and he still felt he was called to do stuff here on earth.  What the hospice nurse said next changed our lives.  "I know you are waiting for a miracle from God.  He is big enough to do the miracle of healing you but you do not have to fight to stay alive."  (Some of you are probably saying, "WAIT A SECOND! Yes you have to fight to stay alive!"  Hold on a sec and maybe you'll change your mind like we did.)  She continued..."We are always told to fight to live, but no one ever shows us how to die.  It is okay to die.  It does not mean giving up.  You are not giving up on God, you are allowing Him to really come through with your miracle."

Wow.   Pause and re-read that.  No one ever teaches us how to die.  It's okay to die.

You know what, she was right on.  I think, especially in the Church, we think it a failure to die...especially if from a disease because we should believe for healing.  Let me tell you, this moment in time set my Dad free to die.  It was...beautiful.  He stopped fighting...in a good way.  He allowed God to be God in a way that he was never shown before but inadvertently showed me how to do.  Death is hugely scary...even for Christians who know where they are going!  That day, my Dad taught me how to die.  I will never be the same.  And let me tell you this too, I think of healing and death in a whole new way now too.  I completely believe that God heals today, in the present.  But I also know that death is not to bad and nothing to be feared.  Sure, easier said than done...as you see from my experience.  I don't get mad any more when God doesn't heal.  I think I learned more from my Dad in his dying than I did when he was praying for a miracle.  I know not many of us can say that, and I don't say it lightly.  I cannot wait to talk to my Dad one day (in heaven, face to face) and ask him what went on in those last days when he was halfway with us and halfway Home.

The next few days kind of blurred together...emotionally anyway.  I didn't leave my Dad's side for the most part.  It was that Wednesday night, when he let go and allowed God to show him how to die, that he asked to "gather the gang."  This meant, John-Michael and Candace and Haddie, Phil, and call Uncle Bill and Aunt Joy and Tori.  Earlier that week he had also asked for his friend Uncle Mike to come and see him too.  And my Dad's brother, Uncle Randy was able to be with us.

These next few days were especially tender to me...because, whether it's really how things were or not, it felt like it was just me and my Mom and Dad.  The hospice nurses flooded the condo in a very non-intrusive way to take some burden off of my Mom and me for administering meds and giving baths, etc.  Dad's body started to shut down, but no one really knew how fast that would happen.  On Thursday the nurse had said probably another week at earliest because Dad was so strong.  It was this Thursday that he still winked at Mom as she walked out the door with "that look" ;) and it was still this Thursday that he grabbed her butt to flirt with her.  What an incredible man.

Let me back up a bit.  Wednesday night we put him in his bed (he needed support to walk) and he wanted to talk to my brother alone.  I think this is when they said their good-byes.  Me and Dad never had a formal goodbye...sometimes I wish we had.  You know, to have a single moment that I can know we said goodbye (I like closure).  But the next few days I felt we became so close...I became his confidant.  We were so similar that I think this comforted him because he knew that I knew how much he loved me.  It was almost like we didn't need to say anything because in our relationship we were very intentional about always saying what we needed to.  I do remember that Tuesday night (I think) was when I sang for him for the last time.  This was really special for me.  My Dad always loved hearing me sing...it was almost like he heard something no one else ever heard, so I always loved singing for my Dad.

I sang my favourite Genny Owens song...quite fitting for what we were facing.  And I sang with all my heart...completely fearless.  (And I remembered all the words! Ha.  For those of you that know me, I am awful at remembering words of songs!  Not the best quality for a worship leader, lol.)  I sang as though he were the only one who needed me to sing.  That is quite empowering.  I remember this whenever I am afraid to lead worship...because I know God is the same, He delights in my singing.  Not because I'm fabulous, but because He knows where it is coming from.

I sang,

"The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear.  I don't know the reasons why you brought me here. But just because You love me the way that you do, I'm gonna walk through the valley if You want me to.

"Cause I'm not who I was, when I took my first steps.  I'm clinging to the promise that You're not through with me yet.  So if all of these trials bring me closer to You, then I will walk through the fire if you want me to.

"And it may not be the way I would have chosen, when You lead me through a world that's not my home.  But You never said it would be easy, You only said I'd never go alone."

"So when the whole world turns again me and I'm all by myself, and I can't hear You answer my cries for help, I'll remember the suffering Your love put you through...and I will go through that valley if you want me to."



That night was the first of many nights we all slept at Mom's condo.  I stayed up most of Wednesday night with Dad.

When our bodies are dying, they become very antsy.  Dad would be sitting, resting, and in a second be jumping on his feet needing to go somewhere!  It was a bit scary because he was hooked up to all his medicine and morphine drip so one of us would always run over for fear he'd accidentally rip something off!  I would walk him around the condo.  I remember on Thursday morning, it was just me and him, (hospice nurse was just quietly reading at the kitchen table) and we went for a walk around the condo and sat on the futon which was in their office...for a change of scenery.  We didn't say anything to each other.  Just sat there holding hands.  I'll never forget that.  We would walk outside for a few moments, then would have to come back in because it would get too cold.

Now thinking back, it was as though Dad were just waiting.

In those last days, he would often say, "I need to go home.  Take me home."  Maybe this was his conscience leaving his body already, but I really know that he meant Heaven.  He was getting ready.  Wednesday I think God met with him and let him know he was heading Home very soon.  So Dad waited.  I'm not sure what he was waiting for...probably just his body to catch up with his mind because he was ready to meet His Beloved.  (Again, can't wait till I can ask him all these questions).

Thursday was mostly a blur for me I think.  Uncle Mike flew in, and so did Uncle Randy.  I had some more tender moments with Dad...again, when it just felt like him and me.  I think this is what I most remember of those last weeks.  On Friday I went to pick up Uncle Mike from where he was staying and when I got back, Uncle Bill and Aunt Joy and Tori had already arrived.  This was the last time Dad made any physical responses; he was mostly unresponsive starting early Friday morning.  But when Uncle Bill leaned close and told him he was there, Dad squeezed his hand.  This blessed me so much.  Uncle Bill and Aunt Joy have been in my life...well, for my whole life.  Uncle Bill was Dad's best friend and to see the depth of their friendship, in this last moment, was incredible.

Uncle Mike helped us rearrange the condo so we could put Dad on the hospice bed in his own room.  John-Michael (my brother), Philip and me all carried my Dad from the living room into his bedroom.  This may sound weird and maybe even hard for some of you to read, but it was so natural.  Who better to carry Dad but his kids?  He was so light...the boys took one arm each and I took his feet.  I know there is something symbolic in it...John-Michael was under his right side, Phil on his left.  Again, even in his dying, he taught us so much.

For the rest of the day, we waited...for what, we weren't sure.  Since the hospice nurse told us he was so strong we didn't think he would be gone just a few more hours...but I really believe it was God's timing.  Everyone was there that needed to be, and the Lord in His great mercy allowed the waiting to be just as long as it needed to be.

Someone was always with Dad.  Mom didn't want him to be alone.  It was this day that it really hit me that my Dad was going to die.  I was exhausted.  I tried to sleep, but maybe just dosed.  It was hard to see my Dad unconscious.  I did make sure that Dad, Mom, John-Michael and me all had time together though.  There was some unspoken anxiety that I carried for years that I needed to talk about before Dad left.  We did that on Friday.

At 9:45pm, my Dad walked into Eternity.  I think he had probably left a few hours before, but his body was just catching up.  The state a person is in while dying is unlike anything else you've ever observed. There is a song I play now because I think it describes the state my Dad was in for these last hours.  It's a upbeat song...but I think Dad was excited to see Jesus.  Think of it, in the moment of my greatest pain, my Dad got to see Jesus with his very own eyes for the first time.  Talk about perspective change!  Wow.

When Dad had passed away, there was a tangible presence of God in the room.  It was...beautiful.  I sobbed on his right arm...I just wanted him to hug me one more time...to hold my hand.  I couldn't let go of his hand.  And you know what I miss the most about his physical presence, to this day?  His hands and his hugs.  I know a part of me died that day when my Dad died.  I've never experience so much anguish in my whole life.  So much pain.  So much loneliness.  And the only person who I want to talk to most days when I feel that way is my Daddy.  It's hard to describe...but when you are so connected to someone, and they die, you know they are gone...but it doesn't feel like it.  Maybe that's what people mean when they say they are in our hearts?  Because it really does feel that way.

We sang after he died.  Sounds weird.  But Mom really felt we needed to sing and praise God.  That is something that God spoke to both her and my Dad through all this...healing comes in worship.  Healing didn't happen how I was wanting it to...but we worshiped and sang anyway.  It was powerful.  I have no idea how we did it.  None.  But we did.  With my Uncle Randy there with us.

After our singing...the hospice nurse suggested to call the undertaker to take his body.  This made me panic a bit.  If his body was taken, that meant I had to say goodbye...permanently.  I think this was when the little girl inside me started to scream and cry.  I just wanted my Daddy.  Thankfully we were able to wait for a few hours before anyone had to come get his body.  I needed closure.  I needed to say goodbye to his body.  Even though Dad was no longer there, it brought a great deal of comfort having his body there still.

I watched the undertakers take his wrapped up body up the stairs and put into the van.  They were so respectful.  I appreciate that even now.  That night before I went to bed, I cried because I had forgotten to have my Dad write in my Bible.  I had meant to ask him for months, actually over a year, but kept forgetting every time I saw him.  I cried myself to sleep because I realized he would never write in it.  It was the little things that struck me...the small things that confirmed he was gone...like I would never have new pictures with my Dad...never see new handwritten notes.  Those little things were hard to process.  For month actually I had a really hard time going up the stairs at my Mom's condo because all I could see what my Dad's covered body being taken up those stairs.  It was always hard to walk into the condo, go into his room, see his chair.  The memories would often times overcome me.

*****

I know this all may sound so heart wrenching and miserable...but it actually gives me some strange solace in telling all these details.  It reminds me that it really happened.  I am very grateful and blessed that I had my Counselor walk through this all with me.  I don't think I would have gone through it without her patience and listening.

I feel blessed.

I know who I am.  Dad taught me.  I know my Dad loved me SO flipping much!  I know that he loved being around me.  I know he loved hearing me sing.  I know he loved hearing all the cool things God would show me.  I know I am so similar to my Dad it's scary, hehehe.  I know that I will never have anyone like him in my life again.  I know that I am blessed.  I know it is good to grieve...outloud.  I know it is good to grieve by yourself at times, and with others at times.

Something God told me after Dad died...and promised me was this, "It's a New Day To Live In Hope."  That is where my blog was birthed from...a way for me to live in a new day of hope; by giving myself a voice again.
Although it sure didn't feel hopeful for most days, I held tight to this...It's a new day to live in hope.  I pray you get to experience your new day of hope.  You may have to chose it in the midst of pain.  It's always a choice.

Love,
-Hannah-


P.S. I would love to hear how my Dad impacted your life, so if you would like to share, please comment and share your thoughts.  If it's a specific story you have, or just a thought...I would love to hear it.  I love talking about my Dad and hearing how he touched others :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Easy Homemade Bread!


I did it! I made my very own bread!!!! If only I had tried this sooner because it was surprisingly easy. I'm really enjoying making things from scratch because then I actually know what is in it!  I'm glad my first try was today, because I've been celebrating my Dad in the kitchen today because tomorrow is the 2 year anniversary for when he died.  He would be very proud that I just made my first loaf of bread :)

I got this very easy recipe from my friend Lori who's been telling me for a couple years how easy bread making really is...but I secretly thought she was lying because if she wanted to, she could be a professional chef! Ha! But this recipe is SUPER easy...I'll do it from memory (just popped my loaves in the oven so it hasn't been long).

Comment below and let me know how your bread turns out because you HAVE TO TRY IT! :). 

I love organic ingredients but I haven't had it in our budget yet so I'm hoping to get some organic flour next month. Just in time for Thanksgiving!!!!!!



8 cups of flour (I used 4 of whole wheat and 4 of white whole wheat. You can use any kind you want, my only tip is to stay away from bleached and enriched.)
1/4 cup sugar
1 package of yeast (I used Red Star. I have been told you can get yeast in bulk and simply stick it in your freezer for like a year!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 oil (olive or vegetable...or butter as I just learned tonight!)
2 2/3 cups of warm water; very warm water.

In this batch of bread, because I used whole wheat flour, I had to add some extra water to get the right consistency. So you'll have to play with it if you use something other than white flour. My next batch will be white.

Oven: 350•

1. Put water, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix together. Then add flour and oil.
Step 1



2. Mix dough with a spoon (or dough hook if you have a kitchen aid mixer) until it is clumping together and coming away from the sides of the bowl.
Step 2



3. Put ball of dough onto an oiled counter top and knead it well.
Step 3



4. Place into an oiled bowl, put a towl over it and let rise. (My friend Lori warms her oven, then turns it off and places covered bowl in to have it rise faster...only 30 mins!)
Step 4

My risen bread


5. After it has risen, put dough onto oiled countertop and knead again.

6. Cut into half and place either in two loaf dishes or on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes!
Step 6



7. Put loaves onto a cooling rack and you are done!




My Signature Oatmeal Raisin Cookies



Tomorrow is the 2 year Anniversary for when my Dad died (Oct 21). I wanted to do something that reminded me of him and that would also be something celebratory. A few weeks ago the thought of making his favourite cookies came to mind...thus, I made my killer Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

Growing up he would always LOVED when I made these cookies so I thought it would be fun to share the recipe :)

Enjoy!

3/4 stick of butter (Kerry Gold is in my opinion the only butter anyone should use, lol! We get ours at Trader Joe's)
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla (I'm making my own extract an will post on that soon!)
3 cups quick oats, uncooked
1 cup all-purpose flour (try to stay away from bleached and enriched)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Optional: 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat oven at 375°F. 

Grease baking sheet.

Place sheets of foil on countertop for cooling cookies. 

Combine butter, brown sugar, egg, milk and vanilla in large bowl. 

In another bowl, Combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix into creamed mixture at low speed just until blended. Stir in raisins (and nuts). 




Drop rounded tablespoon fulls of dough 2" apart onto baking sheet. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool two minutes on baking sheet  and then remove cookies to foil to cool completely.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fruit Crisp



I had loads of apples given to us by our neighbour's friend's apple tree. I didn't want them to go to waste therefore I had to bake something!!! ;-)

Tonight I made a really yummy fruit crisp! This is another really easy recipe...so easy I made it at night :) I even have some pictures!

I got this recipe from the best cool book ever...every house should have one, "Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book"
Let's get started:

Oven- 375•


The guts/fruit:
5 cups sliced, peeled cooking apples, (or pears, peaches, apricots, frozen unsweetened peach slices, cherries, rhubarb or berries) 2 to 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Note: The picture shows my chunky apples (done with an apple slicer). But I sliced them smaller after using the slicer.




The glory, aka- Topping:
1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon (I have an apple pie blend I use) 
1/4 cup butter or margarine Optional: 1/4 cup chopped nuts or coconut. 




The nitty gritty:
1. For fruit filling the fruit it frozen. Do not drain. Place fruit and a 2 quart square baking dish. (Or as I did, you can use a pie dish or 11 x 7 dish).

2. For topping, in a separate bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg combination; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and then stir in nuts. Sprinkle topping over the fruit that's in your baking dish.



3. Bake in a 375° oven for 30 to 35 minutes (40 minutes for thawed fruit) until fruit is tender and topping is golden. 

Serve warm with ice cream! Done and done!

This recipe makes enough for one dish, but I had so many apples I simply doubled it and made two! No complaints here :-)

All baked and ready to eat!