Making Joy Palpable

Yesterday was a great day! We met up with some friends for a nice restaurant meal and then came back to our place for a game of cards. We had an absolutely fun evening! Laughter, good conversation and a carefree outlook was the order of the day.

It got me thinking back to a time many years ago when I was homeschooling my young family. One day I woke up happy, and my husband was astounded.

The source of my joy was that there were two books waiting for me at the post office and all I had to do was to go pick them up. I actually awakened with a smile on my face that day. Usually it was quite different–I’d wake up with a sense of dread and incompetence– at my abilities as a wife and as a homeschooling mom. I remembered later on that day, after getting a flat tire and my books being delivered to the wrong post office, we went to Tim Horton’s for a coffee.

My husband said to me, “I have a question for you. This morning you woke up happy. You never wake up happy. What’s going on?”

The answer was so simple, but the reason for the depression and bad mood on all the other days was not. I remember telling him that I hated my life and felt pressured all the time to be someone I was not capable of being. I felt that I could never measure up. Never.

The truth was that I could not experience joy as long as I was living a life that was contrary to everything I believed. I was not able to be true to myself because the cult we were in at the time obliged me to dress a certain way, act a certain way, live a certain way and even to speak in a specified manner. My children had to be perfect and neither I nor anyone else was ever able to make that happen. Children are not perfect, miniature adults. They are learning machines, messy, loud, fun, defiant, dirty, snotty, cuddly, transparent bundles of energy that are ready for anything.

My joy had been long ago been squashed. My light had gone out with the oppression and demands made on my life by the homeschooling cult we were in. I was not able to be spontaneous, not able to be myself. It has actually been thirteen years since I lived that life and it has only been in the last two that I have finally started to rediscover who I really am and to find my old self.

I kind of like my old self.

I know that ‘finding myself’ is a used out cliché of our times, but during those years I had really become lost as to who I was, where I came from, my roots, but most of all I had lost my Joie de vivre. My parents and siblings couldn’t understand who I had become.

Joy of living, huh? Joy of the Lord, saywhatt? It was kind of hard to have the Joy of the Lord when I was dying inside. I wondered why God would have me live a life that made me question how I was raised and my core values.

Back then I don’t think I had any idea what real joy was because I didn’t really know who God was. But I’m starting to figure it out now.

The saying, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”, is helpful here. Perhaps remembering the tough times in my past will make joy more palpable in my present.

sunlight-on-trees-wallpaper-1

My Personal D-Day

August 21, 2004…
On this date ten years ago, my world split in two.
It was the summer I was sick with mononucleosis that I wondered where on earth I had gotten. I had been suffering from fever and terrible headaches for a couple of weeks and had convinced myself that the doctor was going to tell me I had brain cancer. When she told me I had mononucleosis I was dumbfounded. How do you get mono when you’re in a monogamous relationship? At 51 years old?
It was also the summer I took my youngest son to Newfoundland for two weeks in an attempt to reconnect with family and to have some peace. I had always prayed for peace in my life, but homeschooling our three boys, and my husband’s chiropractic clinic in the house made sure I never had it.
But that was all before August 21.
You know how sometimes things happen in your life that, had you known the dark days that were to follow, you would never have permitted them to happen? Not that I really had any control over what happened in August 2004, but I often wondered that if I could go back in time and change things, would I do it? Today I think not.
I remember that day as if it were yesterday. My husband and older sons were to go with some friends for a day of paintball, leaving my youngest son and I home alone. My husband was acting strangely that morning, like he had something on his mind that he was afraid of. He finally said he didn’t feel well and that maybe the boys should go on to paintball without him. He said he had to talk to me about something.
Something big.
Something that could change our lives forever.
So when the boys left the house my husband said he wanted to talk in his office. I thought that sounded official, so I decided that whatever it was that he had on his mind, I would be dressed, complete with makeup to hear it.
And then came the bomb.
Nothing could have prepared me for it. He told me that he had been seeing an old girlfriend from high school, and that he wanted to spend time with her to see whether or not he would stay with me or go with her. He told me all his thoughts and finished by crying in my arms. I thought of my mononucleosis…
Hello? We had been married for 21 years. We were a right wing, fundamentalist, homeschooling Christian family. I was a submitted and fearful woman who was afraid to express an opinion, who thought that everything outside her kitchen window was evil.
How did that ever happen to us?
How ever would I manage on my own? With three bewildered children.
And so began a very dark night of my life. Those of you who have gone through a divorce know very well that there is a lifetime in those ‘dark night ‘ years. I was so ashamed that this had happened to me at the age of 51.
I had to relearn how to be in this world, how to stand up for myself and fight for my children and myself.
I did it!
Looking back now, 10 years later, it’s difficult to imagine that from the ashes of my broken marriage could rise anything beautiful and of value. I remember during those dry years, thinking that I would figuratively bury my old self and never think of ‘that person’ again. But a wise person pointed out to me that who I am today is a result of all my experiences, including what I lived during the past ten years. The fire that I went through made me a much more compassionate, tolerant and loving woman.
I accomplished much.
I bought a house and sold it.
I married a man who loves me just the way I am and does not try to change me.
I wrote a book and had it published.
I got a job for the first time in 24 years. I learned to speak French fluently.
And I became somewhat of an expert on growing and using lavender.

But most of all I learned that I am a loveable person in my own right; that I don’t have to be anything more than myself for people to like me.
And I learned to love and accept myself.
After some time I was able to say “Thank you” for my divorce. I could not have imagined being grateful that I am divorced, but I am very grateful. If going through that kind of ‘refiner’s fire’ was able to change me into who I am today, then I am happy.
And so, being that today is the anniversary of my personal D-Day, I will celebrate my ten years of freedom. I will also celebrate that God’s grace has been with me all the time, and even more so now that I have understood and experienced what Grace actually is. I have this frame hanging in my office as a reminder.

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Eat Where You Are: A Memoir in Recipes

                       Introducing:

                                           Eat Where You Are: A Memoir in Recipes

Interesting title, don’t you think? That’s the name of the book that I have been working on for the past two years. After many hours in front of the computer editing, formatting and inserting; and on the phone to my mom discussing stories and recipes, all that was left were the finishing touches like, the title, introduction, dedication, and what to put on the back cover. On a momentous day in June, I pushed the ‘send’ button and away went my manuscript across cyberspace all the way to Winnipeg to be printed up. There was no going back after that!

So…now my book is finished, printed and is officially for sale!! It arrived on a hot day in late July while my parents were visiting; I couldn’t imagine a better time! My parents, my husband and I spent the rest of that day looking through my masterpiece…excitement reigned!

This picture says it all…

Here is what is written on the back cover!

           Have you ever visited Newfoundland and returned home wanting to try some of their delicious foods? Did you wonder what a touton was?

Ever eat hommous, tabouli  or baklava and wanted to make those and other Lebanese dishes?  How about Quebec cuisine?  While you are eating turkey dinner at Christmas, what are Les Quebecois eating? What is the secret to good Poutine?

These questions and more are answered in this very different cookbook / memoir.

 Born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland into a Lebanese family, Christine Faour has developed an eclectic cooking repertoire. From her Newfoundland and Lebanese roots, she raised her own family in Deux Montagnes, Quebec where she prepared some popular French Canadian “plats de resistance”.  She homeschooled her three sons and cooked wholesome, make-ahead recipes that suited a busy lifestyle.

 Here you will find a compilation of recipes and stories from those years as well as some of her families’ favorites, both past and present.

 This book also reveals the incredible story behind Christine’s famous Divorce Fudge.

The front cover depicts a dresser that has been in my family for four generations and it’s story is on page 79. Placed on the dresser are framed photos of my husband and I, my three sons, and my parents.

Get your copy of Eat Where You Are by clicking on the Buy Now button at the right.