I am from…

I am from a worn yard sale coffee table strewn with books,
art course items, and a wrought iron candelabra;
from a burgeoning Christmas cactus
that has been passed from generation to generation
and a crystalline bay window which frames the fall’s paintbrush
sweeping color in the trees outside.

I come from copius bookshelves piled high with miscellaneous treasure,
picture frames recollecting past friendships, Starbucks coffee cups and Piglet mementos
from an antique dresser covered in jewelry, artistic remnants and strewn vestement
and an adult trundle bed, Ikea formed and yet not fully assembled

I am from a single-wide in a trailer park
rough-hewn roads in muskeg, part of the mission property
moose out the backdoor and 50 below school days
from listening to my father’s voice on the radio
and ‘digging to China’ in the red mud, while crafting clay ‘pots’

I’m from a rental house with tiny gardens
the landlord wasn’t willing to compromise
but the neighborhood grew up around us, literally
from setting up a childhood lemonade stand on the driveway
large and friendly construction workers holding daity cups carefully

I am from a fifty year old suburban back-split
with bright blue doors etched with prismatic stained-glass
cozy blankets covering sofa and armchairs,
cuddled in during fall nights with a hot cup of cocoa and a good book

I am from the land of maple leaf
changing from green to brilliant red
The sugar maple, whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
whose life blood runs sap strength into glorious amber syrup
falls feast celebrating with sausage and pancakes

I’m from Christmas stories read at the breakfast table, candle lit
as we sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the Christ child
from talking politics and culture in the living room after dinner, coffee in hand
from long trips up to cottage country 10 years running, refreshment in nature

I am from the families Andrews and Shauf
one settled centuries ago, New England freedom tasted
the other hard working German immigrants leaving Dakota
for promise of Canada’s farmland, land ownership.

I am from Mac and Doris, Herb and Isabel,
from listening to my Grandpa praise God with piano anthems,
from serving alongside Grandma at her Lenton lunches
From cuddling with Grandma despite her arthritic pain
from tasting warm, sun-ripened raspberry’s in Grandpa’s garden

I am from losing the car keys at least once a year
I am from bbq chicken every night for dinner,
except when salmon makes a delightful appearance
I am from shopping for groceries at midday on Saturday
I am from driving around town with barely a drop of gas in the tank

I am from birthday songs sang boisterously on birthday mornings,
I am from ‘Janel needs to socialize less,
she would get a lot more schoolwork done’
and ‘Janel you are like Barnabus…such an encourager!’
I am from ‘Trust in the Lord with all you strength’
and ‘This little light of mine’

I am from the nativity scene making an appearance every Christmas morning
dawn breaking and the Christ child appears to remind of the glory of the day
I am from discussions over who won the War of 1812, and how to spell ‘honour’ 
I am from the land of the midnight sun, the state barely bought from Russia,
I am from the Stripes and Stars, but claim the Red and White

I am from creamy beef stroganoff served with steaming egg noodles;
spiced chicken curry piled high with sweet raisins and tangy coconut,
I am from fish sticks with ceasar dressing for dipping, 
from sweet potato fries with dip, and Hawaiian pizza with extra pineapple.
I am from chocolate cherry pie piled high with cool whip, 
I am from warm rice pudding, a little bit of sweetness and cinnamon spice.

I am from a grandfather whose father helped wire the Waldorf Astoria; who encouraged my love of the written word  and challenged me to love the Lord in all things.
I am from a grandmother whose younger sister died in a freak accident; whose rice casseroles were my comfort food of Saturday afternoons.
I am from a grandfather who was the oldest of 9 children; who had a soft way about him and a green thumb.
I am from a grandmother whose body betrayed her early in life; a grandmother who let me sneak cheese slices all day long

Memories, moments; both preserved in my mind and in picture form
scrapbooks yet to be started, file folders full of remembrance
and pictures flit across the screen
Running out of room for frames, feel like I’m building a shrine
every horizontal space covered with memories framed

I am from the Golden Horseshoe, I am from the frozen Tundra,
 from the land of button blanket dancing, the land of canned music from stereos
I am from bad drivers and taking your life in your hands,  from dogsled racing at the speed of light

I am..from and I am…going to.



#FMF – She

Joining with the lovely Lisa-Jo and her fellow writers over at Five Minute Friday. We gather each friday to write on a specific word, without editing or censoring. Just letting the word prompt us and see what comes on the page. You can learn all kinds of things from beautiful writers with just one word prompts each week. Make sure you click on over to read what the other FMF writers have posted for today’s link and make sure to comment!

Today’s Topic: SHE


I first heard about the Jumping Tandem retreat when reading a blog entry at Emily‘s. She was going to be a speaker there and since I loved reading what she had written, I thought I might check it out. After reading through the point of the retreat and seeing who would be speaking my heart filled with joy and I went and spoke to my parents about the retreat. I needed them to help me out and asked if they would make both my birthday present and Christmas present helping me get to this retreat. They were in agreement and I saved up my money and was able to pay what was necessary to get myself there and spend money while I was there and they paid the cost of the retreat for me. I will every be thankful. That retreat was definitely life changing for me.

Previous to going, I made an effort to connect with some of the ladies whose blogs I had merely been reading and not commenting on. It wasn’t so much that they would know who I was but that I would have a better idea of who they were. I couldn’t wait to meet some of these amazing women in real life. I have to admit that some of these women were like blogging celebrities to me. They had so many followers and were known in different circles. Some of them even had books published. It was a long struggle for me to even come to a place of knowing that God has called ME there for a purpose, that he wanted me to be there and learn there.

On the first evening of the retreat we had a wonderful service with Holley leading our group. It was definitely challenging and each of us were searching our hearts for what He had put on our hearts. We had mingled a bit at dinner and during our time in the gathering, but really didn’t know each other all that much. When we excited the gathering there was a fantastic photobooth set up which we could make use of to gather together and make some memories.

I stood on the sidelines. I laughed when the guys gathered with Deidra to pose with sunglasses and boas (they were pretty good sports at a mostly female event). Some of the ladies who were known to each other had their picture together, hoping to frame it and remember their real life connection forever. I had just met Sherri and had a picture taken with her…and I also had a picture with my room-mate Joanne.

People would laughingly drag each other into the photos and since I am not one to stay in the middle of a huge group I was kind of on the sidelines again. I longingly watched as time and time again women grabbed other women and had their picture taken together. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to belong. I wanted someone to pick me out of the crowd and smile at and with me.

Jennifer was talking to someone else. I have to admit that she was definitely one of those people who I looked up to as someone with a big following, who belonged there, who was a speaker. She knew my name but I didn’t expect her to acknowledge me. And the lady with the camera grabbed her nicely by the arm and said you haven’t had your picture yet, is there someone you would like it with…and I quietly squeaked, ‘I’ll go’ and she turned around, graced me with a HUGE smile and then tugged me with great enthusiasm into the photoshoot together. We hadn’t even spoken really until that moment at the retreat. She had perhaps seen me comment on a couple blogs, but I was pretty much an unknown. And with her sweet spirit, and her desire to love people deeply…SHE invited me into community with her in that one crazy photo taking moment. This is one of the results:

janel and jennifer

I am so thankful for this beautiful woman being part of my life. I am so thankful that God was able to connect our hearts in that manner. I believe that later in the weekend she once went by and gave me a little hug as she passed by, and also gave me a hug when I encouraged her after her speaking Saturday night. It was so good to be able to feel connected with a sister in Christ, and to know that it didn’t matter where we came from, the following we had, that we were all sisters there, united in purpose of pursuing His dream for each of us.

I am so thankful that SHE chose to spend this special moment making a memory with me. Thank you Jennifer Dukes Lee 😉 you are loved.

Five Minute Friday

on that bench

chairsI still remember it so clearly
we sat together yet removed
on that bench

hard words were spoken
hearts were bared
on that bench

gasping for air, tears streaming down
I wished it wasn’t so
on that bench

You fought to understand
to know this wasn’t rejection of you
on that bench

and as my words fell unheard
and your pain fell silent down your cheeks
on that bench

walking by today
it looks so normal
that bench

but it holds our dashed dreams
its absorbed the tears that bled from hurt hearts
that bench

it knows, it remembers
it holds our secrets close and hidden
that bench


Janel Andrews // Sept 7/2013

whose it for anyway

when you write to have your voice heard
and all that echoes in your songs on the wind
you realize that the words poured out
were meant for your own healing and thought
and whether you write them for others to see or just
for your future memory
you wrote to speak truth, to remember
that each spark of something leads to lightening
a bright burst of recognition
and you begin to see the moments lighting up
see them connecting together
drawing your eyes away from self
looking upward to the dawn, to the sunset
knowing that in the change of days
more moments will alight upon your shoulder
in your mind, filling your eyes
and you will know that the words you spread
deep in morter fast and let the light shine on
are being forever embedded in memories
hidden chambers
to be tasted like morsels
when despair and fear come to call
and you see the truth written out
etched in skin deep moments
and writing that once graced a page
and your heart was turned 
from it being a message to share with the world
to being a quiet whisper from HIs heart
to yours


by Janel Andrews   Sept 3, 2013

Right Here, in THIS moment

x marks space

I have always written things down that speak to my heart or inspire my imagination. Sometimes I do it because I’m afraid of losing the moment, other times I know that I’ll need to ruminate on the idea for a bit before responding. I have books full of quotes, I have notes strewn throughout my laptop and saved in various forms on my cell phone. I have lists of books to read, sites to revisit, moments to record…and yet, I wonder if I’ll get to it.

One of the things I’ve been pondering in the past little while is what I am specifically made for. I attended a wonderful retreat last April about Discovering the dream you were made for. I feared not knowing my dream or having a dream before I got there, but felt that God really wanted me to attend so figured that He would take care of it. I kind of got a bit of a vision of some of the areas He had given me a passion for, but not to much specific. I’m a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl anyway, so while I was a little concerned that I didn’t have a ‘specific’ dream, I figured it would come to me.

Some of the articles I’ve been reading lately, and even some of the books that have crossed my path have challenged my thinking about being called to one specific thing. If you spend your life waiting for ‘that moment’ when you know that you’ve been used of God for one BIG thing, then what is the rest of your life leading up to? I know we are to glorify Him with our lives and that is our purpose, but is there more? These articles suggested that there was tremendous blessing and aha moments waiting in the every day, the possibly considered mundane that surround us at every moment. That taking to ‘smell the roses’, take in the sounds around you, really see the person in front of you..that in those moments would be pieces of who you were meant to be, pieces of who you are coming together in tandem. This really struck me as being something I could much better understand than the concept of God giving me a HUGE dream to be a part of.

“But this is what I’m finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I’m waiting for, for that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets – this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience…“Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting…This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull off the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.” ― Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

And I wonder in all the planning and figuring out of what God has called me to, if perhaps I’m missing the little moments along the way. ‘The scene happening/unfolding right outside your window…’, am I missing the little ways he speaks to me in the quiet, in the beauty, in the moments. Am I somehow passing so much by just waiting for that moment when I think that I’ve finally arrived (truthfully I know that will never happen, but still I strive).

What we have is time. And what we do is waste it, waiting for those big spectacular moments. We think that something’s about to happen—something enormous and newsworthy—but for most of us, it isn’t. This is what I know: the big moments are the tiny moments. The breakthroughs are often silent, and they happen in the most unassuming of spaces… You comfort yourself with the mindlessness of it, protecting yourself from the reality that your life is actually happening and you might not be there. It’s scary to be there present, invested, right there on the front line of your life. It’s easier to numb yourself with details and daily doings, waiting around for things to feel spectacular. – Goins, Jeff. The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing

I once read a quote about someone looking for the X that marked the spot, their destination. And how they were so busy looking to the horizon for where they could end the journey, where they could say they had arrived and completed the journey…that they didn’t realize that they were standing on top of the X…their destination. It looked so different from what they had imagined, they didn’t know they were in the midst of it.  And I wonder if something I`m so busy staring off into the distance that I miss the moments that God speaks to me here, motions to me there, shows me through His eyes the people he loves and wants them to know…and I miss the opportunity.

It is my prayer that this moments are seen in the right way, with the right eyes…that I won`t be so preoccupied with self and the BIG thing or big dream in my life, that I`ll miss those moments that are happening all around me, in which He is calling me to be used of Him and bring glory to His name.

I am always fascinated to see the different ways throughout the Old Testament that God makes himself known to those He loves and seeks after. Usually nothing like those who are interacting with Him expect but always in a way that they know that He is a loving and powerful God. And often He calls them to things that they had never imagined for themselves…and yet he empowers them to go forth in His strength with His words. What a beautiful reflection is seen in all of this that God works in the small moments, and sometimes they end up being Big moments (those moments that others know about or are clearly obvious to those around you), but usually its in those little things, those things that you might register as being specific to the call of your life, that He is changing you, using you, and bringing you to a place of greatness of being used by Him, and not in yourself.


I was reading a fabulous post by Shelly Miller this morning and the following comments really reiterated what I was thinking through here:

That is such a God-thing. I love it when He does stuff like that. I can see you there, unwrapping His goodness for you, by way of a friend,and you knowing that it was really from Him, an invitation, a gentle coaxing of His hands to let yourself dabble again. These things are never coincidence, and it’s such a beautiful sight to see His mark on all the little pieces of our lives where we wonder and sometimes struggle–it reminds me that He HEARS me. He hears our heart longings and when we are still too befuddled to move, He takes the first step, and says, Yes–DO this, here’s something to get you started…“ – Kris

There are so many beautiful things I could comment on in this story. The one that grabs me most, though, is the thread that connects with John 4:10 MSG, “If you knew the generosity of God … ” Yes. What a story of the rich and lavish gifts He gives...“ – Kelli