Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The kids & I drove to Lethbridge on Saturday to go to my sister Jodi’s grad recital. After getting stuck on Deerfoot in Calgary for over ½ an hour because of a fender bender, I was relieved to be on the way. Just before we got to Nanton we came to a bad accident. There weren’t very many other vehicles there & I figured it was fairly new. We only waited about 10 minutes before we were able to get by. (It turns out we passed about 3 hours after it happened.) What I saw when we went by really shook me up. A smashed car with a tarp over it…and people around another area holding up tarps. My heart sank. I knew what that most likely meant. Right away I felt burdened to pray for the people in the accident & their families. I talked about it a little with the kids (Benjamin especially has a vivid imagination & it’s important to talk about it.).

I looked it up online when we got home on Sunday night…4 women killed…only survivor was a 6 month old baby girl. I found out this evening that one of the girls was a family friend of one of my sisters’ friends. Another reminder of how close to home it is. I can’t imagine the pain these families are going through. Jesus thank you for the hope that at least one of the families has in You. Use this to bring people to You Lord. Give them peace…peace that only You can give Lord Jesus. Comfort them, wrap Your arms around them & give them peace.


A Monday (or Tuesday) with Heidi

I'm thankful for…the time I got to spend with my family this weekend. It was the first time in a long time that we’ve all been together. The only one missing was BenL. I’m also super thankful that James, Cheri & Max will be here for Christmas!!! It wasn’t the same without them last year & it will be so nice to be altogether this year!!! Cheri & Max got here on Saturday & James will come closer to Christmas. I can’t wait to catch up!

What’s happening with the kids? The homeschool teacher comes tomorrow. I’m half dreading it (because I know I should have done more with Manda), half relaxed…so glad I didn’t go blended & that I don’t need to feel like Manda has to be in a certain place. She’s been doing more & more writing…and picking up more & more words in her reading. It’s so fun to see her be excited about reading. Last week was Manda’s last gymnastics before Christmas…and we were allowed to watch. Ben’s parents were there, as well as my mom & Kirby…and Benjamin got to come for a bit during his recess. It was so fun to watch her. She was just glowing & having so much fun!! Benjamin is still up & down about school. He’s come to a place where he realizes the pros of each…but he still really wishes he was at home. He sure has grown up a lot in the last few months. Benjamin is still loving hockey. Lately he’s been learning to stop…and he’s doing great! Kirby is still Kirby…he loves to pester & bug whenever possible…yet he can play nicely for hours on any given dayJ. He is still loving hockey. He is mastering his skating & figuring out how to hit the puck without fallingJ.

What’s new with Ben & I? Ben still has work for which we’re very thankful. We’re praying we can keep on cribbing till Christmas. After that we should be able to do a couple of insurance jobs from the hail storm in August. With all our resources spent getting through last winter…we are thankful for anything & everything right now! I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster the last couple of weeks. Not sure I can even pinpoint exactly why…just a lot going on…in life & in my head. I’m really looking forward to this weekend…Ben & I are going on our annual date weekend for our anniversary. We haven’t gotten away enough this year & it will be wonderful to have the time with no kids or work taking our attention.

What’s happening around the house? Not nearly enough. I’ve revamped the kid’s chores to include bathrooms, which has helped a lot, but there are still a few things getting left. For the most part I live with it…I am very much of the opinion that a clean house isn’t important enough to stress about. But at the same time…I feel better & get more done when it is at least generally clean. I’ve been doing a lot of sorting & moving things to & from the shed so I feel like my piles around the house are never ending. Ah well…it’s definitely gotten easier as the kids are able to do more. I’m really looking forward to starting some baking SOON!

What's happening in my kitchen? I’ve been gone so much that the cooking in our house has been pretty sad. Lots of last minute meals thrown together. I’ve noticed it…and that means Ben has really noticed itJ. So tonight I made sure to cook a real meal. We had mini meatloaves & baked potatoes. We all really enjoy this meal & it’s so, so simple.

I am missing…Sheri. Sheri is one of the few people who can help me even out these emotional rollercoasters I get in. It’s been 11 months since I saw her…as thankful as I am for email & Skype…it’s just not the same. I love you my friend!! I’m thankful for the memories we have from last Christmas…turkey dinner & our own mini ChristmasJ.

I am praying for…peace. There’s been a lot going on in my head & heart lately…Lord please help me to see clearly what You are trying to teach me. Give me Your peace that passes all understanding.

What’s God been doing in my heart? Learning to seek Him continuously…just keep giving it all back to Him!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Self centered vs self care

You may have noticed that I’ve caught up on a bunch of blogs this weekend...well, it’s because I’ve been at a ladies retreat...all by myselfJ. This isn’t the kind of retreat with speakers & worship times & whatnot, although I enjoy those too. Most ladies bring scrapbooking & sewing, but the whole point is that you can do whatever you want. I came last year for the first time & it was soooooo good for me. I became a hermit & sat in my room nearly the whole weekend...but that was exactly what I needed. I’m back this year & have spent a bit more time with the other ladies, but still plenty of time alone. I have some thoughts about that if you’re interested...

A little while back I asked a question in one of my posts...about selfishness vs self care. http://bhwerdalfamily.blogspot.com/2009/10/wednesday-with-heidi.html I appreciated all your comments...thanks!! When I asked the question I was thinking about a marriage retreat we were at 4 years ago...but I couldn’t remember the details. Well, last night I pulled out my notes from the retreat. I’m still struggling with how to apply this to my life, but here are my thoughts.

To me, self care means valuing who I am to the point of taking care of myself. It’s not natural to care for ourselves. We are taught to always think of others first...it’s selfish to think of ourselves. I’m not saying we shouldn’t think of others, but we do need to take care of ourselves. Another reason it’s not natural is that when we get married we often “give” our hearts to our spouse...thinking that they are meant to take care of our hearts. This is not the case. My heart is my deal. I need to stop thinking that I married the person who would take care of my heart. It’s my job to take care of my heart. The last reason that it’s not natural...and right now this is where I’m struggling...is that we don’t know how to take care of ourselves. It’s very natural for me to give, give, give without thinking about where I’m at...and then all of a sudden I start to feel resentful because no one is giving back in the same way.

Mark 12:30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” God said that we are to love Him with all of our being: our heart (emotional), soul (spiritual), mind (mental) & strength (physical). Jesus modelled this in Luke 2:52, “And Jesus grew in wisdom & stature, and in favour with God & men.” He grew in wisdom (mental), stature (physical), favour with God (spiritual) & favour with men (emotional).

God said it.
Jesus modelled it.
The Holy Spirit empowered it.
So I am going to do it.

OK, so I need to take care of my whole being...physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual. How do I do that in the midst of a very busy life? Well, I’m coming to realize that this ladies retreat is one way I can achieve that. Now, once a year is not enough to take care of myself, but it’s a start. Here’s what I mean. Some of the things that renew me mentally are reading & hobbies...I’ve done both of those this weekend. It really helps me emotionally if I have time alone or or am able to listen to music...I’ve done both of those too. Getting enough sleep is one way to take care of myself physically...and I’ve been able to get some extra sleep this weekend. Lastly...spiritually...well, right now I’m sitting here pondering these things & what it means to me...I’ve also been listening to music as I do this. So you see, with one weekend away, I’m taking care of every aspect of me. Knowing that helps me not to feel guilty for asking Ben to stay home with the kids so I could come.

I know that by doing this, I will go home a better wife & mom. You see, the reason we need to “fill” ourselves is so that we can distribute it to the people around us. Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy & peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” When I take care of myself I am much more able to be the wife that Ben needs & the mom that the kids need. If I neglect myself, I get frustrated more easily & it ends up getting taken out on them.

My challenge (to myself as much as anyone) is to find things...little things...that renew me. Yes, this weekend away is great, but what about the rest of the year? I need to look at each area of my life...mental, spiritual, emotional, & physical...and find little things I can do on a daily or weekly basis to take care of myself...and not feel guilty about it!!! I have a bit of a list going, now I just need to figure out how to apply it. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Benjamin's birthday party

Benjamin’s birthday was the opposite of Manda’s...it was a lot of work! It was so worth it though!!! Two things brought us to the party we had for Benjamin. For 2 years now I’ve thought about doing a science party for him because he loves doing science experiments so much. Last year he really wanted something else though so I waited. I knew this was the year. He’s old enough now to really enjoy it, plus, with him able to invite a few friends from school now, it would be fun to do with them. There’s a family who lives around here that we’ve been friends with since Benjamin was a baby. We met them shortly after he was born & have always had a neat connection. We were married exactly a week apart (but didn’t know each other yet then) & Benjamin & their oldest were born exactly a week apart. We met them when Austin (their oldest) & Benjamin were about 6 months old or so. Ever since their first birthday parties we have talked about the possibility of doing a party together, but it’s never happened. Well, they just had their 4th boy, so Jodi (my friend) has her hands full. We decided this was the year to combine! Although I’m very glad we did it, it was a lot of work planning for so many people! Jodi took care of the food end of things & came up with some really neat ideas to make it “scientific”. There was a lime green chocolate fountain, a bowl of fish crackers in water (blue jello) among other things. She asked if I would do the cake & activities. Well, I’ve always enjoyed making a fun cake for the kids’ birthdays so I started searching online. I decided a volcano cake was the best idea to make it scientific so started looking at all kinds of volcano cakes. Most of them were decorated to look like volcanoes with red icing for lava, etc...with a few using dry ice to make it “smoke”. I was disappointed though...none looked very realistic. I loved the dry ice idea, but I wanted the actual cake to look good too. Finally I came across a site that had the answer. It was soooo easy (easiest cake I’ve ever made!) & sooooooo cool!!! I don’t know how to upload from our video camera onto here, but if you go here: http://balloonguyentertainment.com/blog/?p=637 ...that’s where I got the idea & they have a video of it & instructions of how to make it. Ours was virtually identical. The only other thing I did was sprinkle some oreo crumbs in the “crevices” to make it look more real. To clarify one thing...when you mix the jello...mix according to package instructions, but only add the boiling water, not the cold water. The video is worth watching!!

When I started looking for science experiments I was overwhelmed. There were so many fun ones, how would I ever choose? I finally decided on 6 experiments that were all with different materials...to give some variety. The one downside to this party was that I was so busy directing that I couldn’t take very many pictures. Ben & my brother Andrew took some for me though which I’m thankful for. We made slime (white glue, water, borax), quicksand goo (cornstarch, water), rockets (film canister, water, alka-seltzer), balloon blast (pop bottle, vinegar, baking soda, balloon), geyser (diet coke, mentos) & lava lamps (pop bottle, water, oil, salt). There were a couple of them that could have been done with different materials, but then I would have had multiple experiments with the same materials (ie/ vinegar & baking soda) so I opted to use variations. If you’re interested in how to do any of these, let me know...I typed up all the instructions to put in the kids’ party bags so I could easily email it to you.

Anyways...to me the best part wasn’t the actual experiments (although that was a lot of funJ), it was making it really seem like a science lab. I printed a bunch of signs from a site online such as “Caution: Testing in Progress”. As the kids entered the church they came to a sign that said “Authorized Personnel Only”. I asked if they could show me their badges. Obviously they didn’t have one...so I gave them each a badge that said Professor (their name) Benjamin Werdal. They had barcodes on the bottom to make them more realistic. Next they came to 2 signs... “Notice: Goggles & gloves must be warn beyond this point”, “Warning: Do not Enter when Red Light Flashing”. I had found a flashing red light at Dollarama and of course it was turned onJ. Everyone was then given a party bag that had a disposable apron, latex gloves, & safety glasses. They then kept these bags & after each experiment they put their supplies in it to take home. They had to put on their apron & safety glasses & then I turned the red light off so they could go in. They thought this was all a blast!

As we rotated through the experiments there were a couple of things I realized...for if I ever do it again. Andrew & Trina had agreed to help me with the experiments & I couldn’t have done it without them, but with 20 kids, it wasn’t enough. I would definitely enlist more people to help next time. With Ben & some of the parents helping we made it through, but it was a bit chaotic at times. The other thing is cleanup. I didn’t think about the fact that I would need time between each experiment to clear off the tables & set up for the next one. Luckily we had lots of balloons blown up so the kids played with those. I had also found some really cool “scientific” bubbles that don’t pop when you catch them. Andrew blew those between a few experiments & the kids thought they were really cool. Other than that, it was a blast.

At the very end we did the cake. It was a HUGE hit!! The kids oohed & ahhed. It was so fun to see their reactions. The one thing I didn’t think about...candles. I had put a ring of candles around the cup at the top of the cake. I had put 16 candles in...8 for Benjamin & 8 for Austin...we lit them all. Then as I got ready to carry the cake out, I dropped the first piece of dry ice in...instantly all the candles went out. Oops...forgot that dry ice is carbon dioxide...no oxygen to burn the candlesJ. Ah well...I thought we’d light them after we finished with the dry ice. Well, that would have worked except that the candles (& wicks) were covered in gelatine so they wouldn’t light! Oh well...the cake was well worth it & Austin & Benjamin didn’t care that they didn’t have candles to blow out.

The boys opened presents.

Then, when the parents were already there, we headed outside for the last experiment...the geysers. Everyone enjoyed that & it was a great wrap up to the party. Andrew had the camera this time as I dropped the mentos into the coke. Unfortunately for me (fortunately for youJ), he caught me jumping back to avoid being sprayed by the coke.

It was a lot of fun to do a party with Benjamin & Austin together. Although we haven’t always been able to get together a lot, they’ve always been buddies. When we first decided to do it (at Amanda’s birthday party 2 weeks before), I went home & was looking through some old pictures & got this idea. I wanted to see how many pictures I could find with the 2 of them together. I found all the pictures & then Jodi & her mom put it all together for me at the last minute. It brings back memoriesJ.

Happy 8th birthday Benjamin!!!

Amanda's 6th birthday

Well, it’s taken a few weeks, but I’m finally going to write about Manda’s birthday party! With Manda & Benjamin’s birthdays only a few weeks apart, life can be kind of hectic in between.
We started a new tradition this year for the kids’ birthdays. Ben bought Manda a single carnation on her birthday. She was sooooo excitedJ.

In September when Amanda had her re-evaluation with her ND the 2 of us drove down to Okotoks together. It was so fun to have just her. She opened up & talked like crazy! One of the things I asked her was what she’d like to do for her birthday. Her immediate response was “a shopping birthday”. I thought that could be kind of fun...what kid doesn’t like to play store? Then as we talked some more I realized she was talking about what gift she wanted for her birthday (she’d been eyeing a cash register at the homeschool store). Oh well...I thought I could do that for her gift & base the party around it.

Fast forward to middle of October...I still haven’t planned her party & it’s only a few weeks away. I start brainstorming for ideas. The “playing store” was a good idea, but how was I going to turn it into a party? Well, to spare you the thought process & details, here’s how it turned outJ.

Since the church was already booked (we usually do our parties there because our house is too small), my parents graciously let us use their house. As guests arrived, they were greeted at the front door with balloons & a sign welcoming them to “Amanda’s Razzle-dazzle Wondermart”. Yes it sounds like a goofy name...but I thought it would be fun to have it match her initials (Amanda Ruth Werdal)...besides, goofy is fun for a 6 year oldJ.

As they entered guests could take a mall brochure which included a list of stores & what they contained along with a map. It also listed the mall hours (party time) & location, as well as mall history:

About this mall: Amanda’s Razzle-dazzle Wondermart has been operating for 6 years. Owner Amanda Ruth Werdal loves to shop & works hard to provide you with a pleasant shopping experience. Come & check out our selection of stores. We look forward to serving you!

First the kids came to “Build-A-Bag” where I had plain brown gift bags that they decorated. Amanda had written her initials on all the butterflies & I wrote in the name. Each of the kids got a butterfly & stickers to decorate with.

Once their gift bags were decorated we started shopping. First I took the little kids (2 & 3 year olds) to “Little Tykes”, a store especially for toddlers. They each got to pick a notebook, crayons & a book. They headed downstairs to play while I took the rest of the kids shopping (age 4-9). At “The Write Shop” they picked out a pen, stickers, a notebook & an activity book. “My Favorite Things” was a toy store where they got a ball & another toy (don’t know what it’s calledJ). “Trinket Town” was the jewlery store where they picked a bracelet (glow ones for the boys). Finally we headed to “Cheese Please”, the photography studio where they received a free gift (blistex) when they had their picture taken.

After they were done shopping the kids headed downstairs to play while I got ready for cake. I had made the cake look as much as I could like the cash register that we bought Manda (other than colorJ).

She was thrilled. We did cake & presents & that was it.

Numerous people have said how much work I went to, but it was really a very simple party. The hardest part was just going to the dollar store & deciding what to buy for each store & what to name the stores. Other than that it was the easiest party I’ve done! I’m just thrilled that Manda had so much funJ.

Since most of our family is boys, they usually dominate our birthday parties...Manda was very happy to have a few girls to share her special day!

Goofy girl saying goodbye to her guests wearing Andrews soccer shoes. (She wears kid's size 13, he wears a men's 13!)

Happy 6th birthday Manda!!!

Dear Benjamin,

If you’ve just started reading my blog...this entry explains why I post letters to my kids: http://bhwerdalfamily.blogspot.com/2009/10/my-dearest-manda.html

Benjamin Caleb,

Wow, are you really 8 years old? Somehow that seems like a big jump from being 7. Seven was still just a little boy...eight seems like you’re on your way to being a young man & I can hardly believe it. You have grown up so much in the last year. We’ve had a lot of ups & downs & I’m so proud of how well you’ve handled it all.

On your last birthday we were homeschooling. You were at home with me all the time & although you drove me crazy sometimes with your chatterJ...I loved having you there. When Daddy & I decided that you were going to go to the public school this year we weren’t sure how you would react. I was worried that you’d be totally against it (you were when I had mentioned it casually months before). We knew that’s where God was leading us though, so we prayed about it & then took you on a “date” to tell you. Well, God had worked in your heart because you actually got excited about it. I think that was April. All summer you kept saying you couldn’t wait for the summer to be done so you could go. I told you to enjoy the free time while you had itJ!

The first 2 weeks of school you loved it. It was all new & special & you had so much fun. At that point you made a comment to me that you wished you were still homeschooling because you missed being at home. That just about broke my heart. I was struggling as it was, but it helped to know that you were enjoying it. We had a long talk about persevering (something we’ve talked a lot about since we learned about Gladys Alyward last year) and you seemed to do ok. In the last month though you’ve brought it up numerous times, how you miss being at home. I’ve been so proud of you though for the way you’ve talked about it. You recognize the things you miss about homeschooling, but you see the positives of school too. I’m not sure what we’ll do for school next year...I’m waiting for God to make that clear...but I pray that you will be able to learn something from this year.

I’ve also really enjoyed watching you interact with Manda & Kirby. So often I find you teaching Manda & Kirby...not always big things...just little tidbits about life. It means so much more to them coming from you than if I was to tell them & it’s so much fun for me to see!

One of my favourite moments with you this year was when we went for a bike ride for your special night this summer. We rode to JOKO’s & then found a spot down by the creek to sit. You asked such amazing questions about God & we just had such a good talk! I look forward to many more talks like that!

We love you so much Benjamin. Our prayer is that as you go through this next year that you would grow closer to Jesus & learn more about how to follow Him in everything you do.

Love from,

Mommy & Daddy

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lessons in love

I wanted to share something that God taught me a couple of weeks ago. This was just over 2 weeks ago after a grade nine girl in town committed suicide. It hit the town hard. There was a lot of talk going around. A friend of mine made a comment on facebook about the idea of suicide being a selfish act. I knew right away that she didn’t mean it badly…she is known for making deep, thought provoking comments. Not everyone took it that way however & there was one in particular who replied very harshly…berating her for saying such a thing & accusing that a true Christian doesn’t judge. I felt very strongly that I needed to reply to this but I really didn’t know how. I knew what my friend meant about suicide being selfish, but I also understood how it could be misunderstood & make people upset. It made me angry that someone would reply so hypocritically…telling her not to judge, yet judging by saying so.

I put my fingers on the keyboard…searching for words…asking the Lord for wisdom about what to write. It took 15 or 20 minutes to write a few short sentences. I typed…then erased half of it…tried again & erased again. I felt very strongly that I needed to defend my friend, but that I had to be very careful not to judge in the same way, by doing so. A couple of times while I was writing I had the “urge” (ie: Satan whispering in my ear) to plug in a line about being careful not to accuse someone of something you’re doing too. Each time that came to mind though, God reminded me that I needed to respond in love. “But God…she needs to understand how hypocritical her response was.” “That’s my job, not yours.” When I finally felt good about what I wrote I prayed one more time…asking God to use my words. It wasn’t very many minutes later that I received a message from the girl who had responded to my friends comment. (If you don’t know about facebook…people can comment back & forth on each other’s status’, but messages are only between the sender & receiver.) I do not know this girl. I only know that she responded harshly to my friend’s status.

This was the message I received: “Just wanted to say that your words concerning the death of **** were eloquent and had the absolute essence of the situation. I removed myself from the comments because I think your words explained it all. I mean no disrespect to any parties. Only hoping all understand how comments can be misjudged.“

Wow Lord! I sure didn’t do that…it was all you!! It felt so good to receive that message. I had listened to what God was telling me…respond in love, not anger…and He allowed me to see the benefits of that. I feel like I’m not doing the story justice here. It was very surreal to me. That message brought tears to my eyes & a feeling in my heart that this was something pretty special that I was experiencing. I wasn’t at all expecting that kind of response. I was fully expecting her to lash back, but instead my words (God’s words!) got through. Thank you Lord for allowing me to see first hand that it is worth it to listen to your prompting & to respond in love! Even though I knew that in theory before…it became so much more real to have it happen. I pray that I won’t soon forget that lesson!!!