Finding the Friends You Need

The Heart | December 7, 2017 | By

Lead Team

I hesitate to even post this…  because I hate anything that resembles exclusivity. But I know I will look back over this season of my life and regret not documenting these beautiful women and the incredible impact they have had on me.  They are not #bestfriendsforever, #mytribe or my #friendswhoarefamily.  They are actually better.  And I was shocked at how I found them…

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Dear Tobias

The Heart | November 20, 2017 | By

171104_Marconi_32Today you upgrade to your 3 year old model, but you and I both know that you are actually much bigger than that.  You strut around with your chest puffed-out and talk with a deep know-everything man-voice.  Every day you tell me that you are getting bigger – just in case I haven’t noticed. 

But you aren’t too big yet to ask if I will cuddle you.  Yesterday you probably asked me a dozen times.  And, I’m sorry… I wish I would have cuddled you more.  The past few weeks have been pretty hard for you.  I know this, because I was a middle child too.  I see it in your eyes, the same fear I used to feel… that there might not be enough love left.  Telis and I have been homeschooling and your baby sister always seems to need me.   But you are my one and only Tobinator.  No one could ever take the place you hold in my heart. 

I have always found it hard to just sit still.  But I am trying to for you baby boy.  I know I will regret not choosing more of that stillness when these days are behind me.  I pray I am not inadvertently sending you the message that busy is better, because it isn’t.  I just need to remind myself sometimes.  I love your cuddles SO MUCH.

These days…

You do 7 or 8 puzzles a day. 

Whenever you get a special treat your first inclination is to share it. 

Every time I open the dishwasher or pull out the vacuum cleaner you are right there to help. 

 You are always super-friendly and your pyjamas are always super-cute because they never match.   

Speaking of super-things…

Like most boys your age, you are all about Superheroes. Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Rescue Bots, Avengers – you and your brother are enthralled with them all.  If you could have any super-power it would be jumping. (You tell me these things.)  And you are pretty confident that you can out-jump all the bad guys.

We’ve talked about this before, but I’ll tell you again… I know why little boys love superheroes so much.  It is because deep down inside you want to help save the world.  And you know what?  YOU do have a super-power!  See, God is like the Optimus Prime (or Optimus Cryne – as you say) of this life.  He’s a really great leader.  He always does the hardest and scariest jobs first.   And He needs your help.   He gave you special ways of fixing this world.  And no one else can do it quite like you can. I think you most likely have a few different super-powers… and your dad and I will do our best to help recognize them all.  But I already know one. 

You are already a heart-healer.    

See, I think you have something like night-vision when it comes to people that are hurting.  You see through the masks they wear.  You always pick up on when I am mad or sad.  You always know when I need a hug.  A few weeks ago, you came to my mom’s group with me and when another mom told a joke that you didn’t understand you laughed your big belly laugh because you sensed that emotion in the room. And later, when one of the other moms started to cry, you found my hand, looked deep into my eyes and asked if she was going to be okay.  You should know that not everyone has this special power.  And there might come a day when you will be teased for it.  But it is one of the most powerful ways to fix this world.  There are so many hurting people that need Jesus.  You can help them feel better.  You can help them take their masks off.  And I know you will baby boy.  I am so proud of you.  You are my 3-going-on-30, sweetest, cuddliest, puzzle-loving, always-helping, heart-healing little Toby.  And I love you more than words can say.  Happy birthday.

Lemon Chicken Orzo

21 days of Soup | September 3, 2017 | By

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We went to Niagara’s Greekfest this weekend – we never miss it!  

After leveling three family size orders of Loukoumades, we all did a shot of ouzo in memory of my dad.

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Evia Anna Marconi

The Heart | May 24, 2017 | By

20170524_183945Living One.”  You are finally here! We have all been getting ready for you over the past several months… your dad making space for you in the house and your older brothers making space for you in their hearts.  Your presence is already changing the tone of this family… it’s a little bit softer and I am feeling a little less outnumbered.  (Thank you!) 

I want to tell you about a place your dad and I visited once… It was a breathtakingly beautiful Greek island with towering mountainous ranges, fertile forests and tranquil turquoise beaches. We visited a remote mountain village there, with no plumbing and limited electricity.  Many of the townsfolk were dressed in heavy orthodox attire, and trying to keep cool under vineyard covered trellises.  We passed through the center of town where all the women used to sit at a stone mill and grind wheat to make bread. We went inside a house that had been frozen in time for nearly a decade; beds unmade, dishes in the sink, a few dozen pictures on the mantle… pictures of our family. 

My dad, whom you will unfortunately not meet in this lifetime, had grown up in that house.  Actually he helped build it. There was an iron stove out the back door, where your great-grandma would cook long, thin loaves of bread each day, one for her husband and each of her boys to keep in their back pockets as they worked the fields.  We saw where they would have kept the donkey, goats and chickens.  We walked through the pomegranate and olive orchards they once tended to.  The sheer lack of what my dad had grown up with was staggering… and yet he lived such a rich life.  He loved his family fiercely.  He shared all he had.  He never compromised his integrity.  And he cultivated a full, safe and happy life for our family. The legacy he left on our hearts will extend far beyond his 57 years on this earth. 

On that day, when I saw where it all began, I knew a little piece of my heart would not be coming home with me.  It was the only place I have ever been that broke my heart and filled it to overflowing at the exact same time.  And I am learning that the most beautiful aspects of life are just like this… watching your kids grow up, embracing new seasons and allowing necessary changes to take place in your heart.  It’s like… an intersection, where joy and sorrow meet. A holy threshold. I am sure Jesus knew this cross-road well, as He died on one.  I pray you would learn to live your life this way, able to experience all God has for you in every moment and know that all of it is good.

So… one day, my darling “living one,”  your dad and I will take you to this place so you can experience it for yourself – the unforgettable village of St. Anna’s, on the breathtakingly and heart-achingly beautiful island of Evia, Greece. 

 

Dear Christians attacking “The Shack”

The Heart | March 8, 2017 | By

shack2I have seen countless posts about the controversy over this movie, and in trying to keep an open mind I have read them all.  Many of these articles have been posted by people I respect and consider dear friends and I would honestly like to keep it that way.  I have no desire whatsoever to start another vicious online Christian debate that accomplishes absolutely nothing.  I have come to the conclusion that the interwebs have no interest in which of us is theologically superior.  Everyone on this earth already knows an overly-opinionated Christian who has exhausted his or her soap box privileges. No one is reading our posts except those who already agree with us.  No one else is listening.  No one else cares.  Probably because, apart from our unsolicited advice, we have only ever shown by our actions, that we don’t truly care either.

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Why Every Mom Needs a Mom’s Group

The Heart | September 13, 2016 | By

frustration                                                 

Disclosure: As much as I hate exclusivity, this message is not for non-moms who might think this sounds an awful lot like AA.  God bless you in your blissful naivety.  Real life moms – this is for you.

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The EASIEST way to Delight Your Guests

The Kitchen | August 21, 2016 | By

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This is how I have hosted all summer long and it has been the EASIEST and most fulfilling method.  If you, like me, have littles underfoot and a more-than-discriminate aversion to hotdogs, this is a perfect “after bedtime” way to make your tribes-people feel especially loved without causing yourself all the undue stress and preparation of a regular summer get-together.  Let this serve as appetizer, dinner AND dessert.  

Less prep-time equals more face-time!

All you need is a bistro set, a cool night breeze and some creativity.  If you don’t feel like you have the latter, let me show you a few tricks.  It’s cheaper and easier than you think.  YOU are a culinary artist and your trusty old cutting board can be your canvas. 

You will need:

  • 1 hard cheese (like the smoked gouda pictured above)
  • 1 soft cheese (like Boursin pictured above, brie or goats cheese)
  • At least 1 bite-sized cheese (like the bocconcini balls or cubed feta pictured above)
  • 1 sliced meat (like the proscuitto and/or smoked salmon pictured above)
  • 1 hard meat (like the Italian sausage pictured above)
  • Pickles, olives, capers or peppers.
  • 2 or 3 types a fruit.  (Melon and grapes are ideal.)
  • Crackers, bread or nachos
  • Nuts
  • Wine.  
  • More wine.

Step 1: I used my solid cheeses as my focal points.  I spaced them out across my platter.

Step 2: I lined one side of each cheese with meat. 

Step 3: I had my guests fill in all the gaps with whatever contribution they brought. (Not joking.)

Step 4: I did the finishing touches.  (… I corked the wine)

Optional: You can line your platter with colourful lettuce leaves like swiss chard or raddichio.  I topped it off with a sprig of fresh Rosemary.  Or you could tuck fresh leaves of basil in any remaining crevices. Give your guests a pile of tooth picks for easiest self-service. Encourage them to try different concoctions.

YOU can do this! And quite likely on very short notice since most of these are pantry items. Try it out – tonight! And leave me a message in the comments below with some of the different selections you tried!

*Special thanks to my  food good friends over at thecuriousconnoisseur.com for the photography.

This platter (and it’s affiliates) served 8… for about 5 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you don’t get to say goodbye

The Heart | June 9, 2016 | By

 

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Three of my grandparents died before I got the chance to meet them.
The one that remained was good and fair… mostly present in my life, but we never really connected.
So I could never empathize when a friend lost a grandparent and grieved as though they had lost a limb.
I didn’t realize how great a loss it was for another member of that admirable generation to pass away.

Then we got word… “this might be the end.”
And my heart sank to the pit of my stomache.

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How to stop racing (and still win)

The Heart | April 26, 2016 | By

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I remember my very first race at my very first track and field day in the third grade at Victor Lauriston Public school.  My gangly and accident-prone stick legs finally did something right.  I crossed that finish line before all of my peers.  I crossed that line… but looking back, I see that I never stopped running.  I never stopped racing from that moment until now. 

By the time I was 23 years old I was a business owner and employer, a service provider to hundreds, an editor-in-chief of a woman’s magazine, a worship leader and involved in almost every musical or production that my older sister directed at our old church.  My husband and I hosted dinners all the time… sometimes reaching a guest list of 150 people.  We travelled.  We were both constantly on the go and insanely busy.  But I just kept “running the race that was set before me” because I was headed somewhere important… and everyone knows that you don’t stop in the middle of a race.   

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The Shady Corner of My Heart

The Heart | April 19, 2016 | By

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If “home is where the heart is” then my heart must be about an acre wide.  

We bought a century old home out in the country about eight years ago and I have to admit, my heart doesn’t stop at the front door.  I love this whole place.  But it wasn’t always that way.  On the far corner of our property we had our own little junkyard that faced the road and ran off into a ditch. Since the day we moved in, it had been the bane of my existence.  It wouldn’t matter if my house was spotless and the lawn meticulously manicured – if I looked out the window to that corner, malicious utterances escaped my breath.  It was completely overgrown with 7-foot tall weeds.  AND, I’m pretty sure there had been tenants there for the first few years.  I’m glad we never actually made acquaintance, it sounded like they had a pretty raucous lifestyle.  And I’m pretty sure they had too many legs. It didn’t help either, that our 80-year old next door neighbour believed the entire corner to be his own personal dumping ground for all his dead, destroyed and disgusting things.  I suppose we could have asked him to stop but that would require admitting that we had watched him struggling to carry debris bigger than he was.  (We’re nice Christian folks.  We don’t have time to help elderly neighbours.)

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