Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Taking the Travel Plunge In Advance

My husband and I had a long talk this afternoon.  We talked about our very quick trip to the city next week for my upcoming doctor's appointment and to see our son, have a very fast visit with our families and head back home to work.  We will be spending every minute with family, running errands for elderly parents, squeezing in a half day with my husband's sister and her husband...in other words, my husband's mandatory week off after the Christmas season is going to be no holiday.  

So, this afternoon as my husband sat in his office working and occasionally glancing up at his gigantic wall calendar, he realized that he has another mandatory week off after Easter as well.  He was disappointed not to be able to take it, even though it is for the good reason of our deacon being ordained in the Diocesan Cathedral at the end of that week, but he continued looking into the following week and realized that at this time he has not one single committment booked in.  He made a split second decision that he would take that week and that we would go away, just the 2 of us, for the whole week.

Within a couple of hours he had the plane and hotel reservations booked and now we have a wonderful, marvellous, fun break to look forward to!!  AT LAST!  Our summer holiday was such a complete disaster and our summer holiday this year is all ready messed up by medical appointments for myself once again. Now we have a little plan set up that will get us mentally and emotionally through the rest of the dreary winter months.

Where we are going is our little secret for now.  It isn't too far away.  I will be able to save some money between now and then so we can enjoy it to the fullest.  We are both grinning like The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland.  Not being a spur of the moment kind of guy, my husband is particularly proud of himself for coming up with this idea...just us guys....the two of us....a trip in the spring.  

I am so excited that I am not going to be able to sleep for the next 4 months!!!

Up up and away......................YAY!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Japanese To English Translation...Giri par excellence!!

Today we received a huge box of gifts from a dear friend in Tokyo.  I can't believe how many awesome items our friend can fit into one box...I also can't believe it cost her even more to send her box than it did for me to send my Christmas box to her!!  All this obligatory gift giving ("giri" in this case) is becoming expensive, but there is no way out unless it comes first from our Japanese friends. Considering their advanced ages that is unlikely as they are steeped in gift giving. Since I don't wish to be perceived as a complete social boor, I will continue the tradition we have established between us.  To receive a handwritten Christmas letter from her, in English, is worth every penny I spend to keep in touch with her and her dear husband.

One of the items had some delightful English translation on the labels.  It is a giant sized, rubberized non-skid mat, to be cut to size for use and in the most gaudy shade of pink I have ever seen, but I will find a use for it somewhere.  Here is some of the label translation into English.  I hope you find it as delightful as I do:

"If it attached the dust and trash please wash it and make it dry."

"Please cuts according to the different use."

"It will appears color shift and so on phenomenon for long time use in the identical place.  Please move it regular. The skid prevention effect will be weaken if it attached the dust or trash.  The smooth place is the most suitable place to use.  The uneven surface can cause the effect to be weaken.  It has the possibility of discoloration for long time use.  Don't put this goods near the fire and the heat. Please do not use the product for other purpose."

Well, I don't know about you, but even with a few glitches in the words and phrasing, the instructions are completely clear.  I am proud of the Japanese manufacturers for their excellent attempts to communicate in the ever encroaching English language.  If not all of the words or sentence structures are correct, that is okay. The meaning is well conveyed.  Before I cut my non-skid mat to fit for size in the places I plan to use it, I will read the instructions again and enjoy them very much! 

More Interesting Folk I Have Known

Not long ago the mother of a former boyfriend of mine passed away at a ripe old age.  I haven't been in touch with anyone in the family for years, including the former boyfriend, but I am always sorry when a parent passes on.  

I read through the online tributes and was struck by how differently various people viewed the deceased, based on their experiences with her no doubt.  None of us sees another person in her or his entirety, do we?

My own experiences with the woman were not quite as pleasant as apparently the writers of the tributes were.  To me she was a harsh social task master to her children.  Girlfriends and boyfriends had to belong to a certain social set with a particular financial background and have high educational goals and career standards.  There isn't anything wrong with having such goals for a person's children, but her own children lived in absolute terror of becoming involved with people achieving less than the standard she demanded.  There were the occasional "secret" boyfriends and girlfriends (of which I am certain I was one, old hippie that I was), but those relationships never lasted long in case Mother found out and there was hell to pay. When my friend and I decided we didn't have enough in common to continue dating, one of the reliefs to me was that I wouldn't have to deal with Mother. 

None of her children married at particularly young ages as they and Mother sifted through the possible suitable candidates.  When divorce struck one of her married children it was a tragedy out of all proportion to reality as the former spouse was never mentioned again and the divorced child was relegated to a lower position in the family.  Decades later there was mention of the divorced child only in the most hushed of tones and the divorce was mentioned not at all to anyone who had not known the family at the time.  Her youngest didn't marry until well into his 30's after being one of the most popular people on the dating scene when we were all aquaintances in our younger days.

I did see the gracious and loving side of Mother when she was in public, "dressed to the nine's" and giving off that aura of upper middle class contentment that comes with the magical combination of secure finances and elite social status.  However at home there was an iron fist ruling in that velvet gloved hand as she attempted to ensure a similar future for her children.

I understand it actually.  Many of the people I grew up with were in the same predicament as they attempted to find their own way in life, possibly departing greatly from the scenarios their parents had assumed would be their way of life as adults.  I was one of the ones who succeeded in getting away from the emotional trap of those expectations, much to my father's disappointment.  However, unlike Mother, he soon got over his upsets and accepted my husband into the family once he had proved himself to be a man of integrity....and carpentry skills!!  

When I die I wonder how people will remember me...in some cases I would probably prefer to not know, but I hope there will be those who saw the best side of me, not only the worst.

Almost Another New Year...a Year of Peacefulness?

Soon it will be 2014....hard to believe how quickly this year has gone by.  I am looking forward to a happier and healthier year upcoming as this past year contained too much illness and more than occasional bad news.

Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  I don't.  In some ways I am so disciplined, but that has never been the case with annual resolutions.  For me they have usually been a way to set myself up to fail.  Either I have made them to try to make someone else happy, or to attempt to force myself to change my ways.  Trying to shame myself into better behaviour doesn't work, is what I have discovered.

I do have a few prayer requests though for the new year and the most fervent one is that it would be a year of emotional peace, regardless of whatever circumstances come my way.  Like most emotional responses, peace is an emotion or feeling I can, to some extent, choose to have.  If my initial response to a crisis is panic or fear, I can still choose to change that response to one of peaceful trust that somehow God will get me through whatever it is that is wrong. I know this because when I have chosen peace in the past, God has graciously granted it to me.

It is interesting to me how few times we realize we have at least some degree of control over our own emotions.   Choosing peace and trust is like choosing to refuse to be offended even when offense is deliberately tossed our way.  Another person cannot offend me if I choose to not be offended.  People and circumstances cannot disturb my peace of mind if I don't let them.  Yes, I depend on my relationship with God to give me grounds for choosing peace of mind in the midst of upset, but it is still my decision much of the time.  

Sometimes in the middle of a peaceful response to a difficult situation I have to stop and ask myself if I should perhaps be more upset or troubled than I am, but usually the answer is "no".  Sometimes panic or fear responses are good for motivating us to do something immediate to relieve problems, but once the plan for a solution, or at least a way of coping with the problem is underway, I find that choosing to then be peaceful about outcomes is far more enabling than continuing in my initial responses that can eventually become debilitating. 

So, my own hope for 2014 is that I will more quickly choose peacefulness over worry.  I will be tested on this.  Of course I will.  I am all ready aware of a few situations that are arising later in the new year that will test my peace of mind and tempt me to be upset, as well as however many circumstances that come up unexpectedly.  

Instead of trying to bully myself into choosing a peaceful emotional response to life's little glitches in the new year by creating a formal resolution, I will instead set a general direction toward peace, trusting in God to help me reach the goal.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Bit of a Blizzard

This afternoon's chore is to shovel the front sidewalks out from under rather deep drifts that accumulated overnight as the wind howled and the few centimeters of snow that came down combined with that wind to create horrendous drifts with whiteout conditions.  I put on my coat and boots to step outside at about 11:30pm yesterday and it was eerie watching the big blow of snow funneling down the street in front of our house.  I could hardly see the houses in the next block, it was so thick. Going out in the dark to watch the storms is a favourite pastime of mine.  Fortunately the temperature plunged before the snow began so there is no new layer of ice underneath the drifts.  Hopefully there are sufficient road crews on this weekend to clear the highway to our other town for church services tomorrow morning.

Friends in Alberta who received the brunt of the storm in their area had a horrendous time making what should have been a half hour drive from the nearest town to their farm.  They went into town to see a movie and the storm blew in while they were there.  The drive home turned into a ninety minute torture test, with one of the cars in their party of 3 cars ending up in the opposite ditch part way home due to the zero visibility and the disorientation that occurs in those kinds of conditions.  They came across twelve other drivers in the ditch during the course of their drive home, all of whom had called for tow trucks only to be told there was a towing ban in effect...that means no police or tow trucks on the road until the storm eases up enough to be able to see to drive.  I wonder how many hours some of those people were stranded out there.

It is easy to say that people who are stupid enough to be out driving in that kind of weather, particularly when it is predicted several hours in advance, deserve what they get.  However, since moving out to the prairies, we have discovered there are a great many good reasons why most drivers are out in storm conditions.  Either they didn't know in advance for one reason or another, the prediction wasn't as bad as the reality when it arrived, the storm arrives much earlier than predicted, or there are extenuating circumstances requiring the taking of a risk.  We were caught a few times last winter ourselves for reasons that prevented us from not traveling into blizzard conditions.  Sometimes you think you have left plenty of time to get where you need to go...usually back to your own home from somewhere else....but the storm tracks into your area earlier than expected. That happens a lot.

Another friend called last night to say he has pneumonia.  His was diagnosed within 3 days of him becoming ill and he is on strong antibiotics.  I am so grateful he is not having our son's experience of high fevers inducing hallucinations for 2 weeks before the lung congestion began.  My husband and I have been well blessed thus far this winter and have not had any serious colds or 'flu's.  Long may it last......

So, time for lunch and then an afternoon of shoveling.  It is snowing lightly again so better get the worst of it off and then go back out tonight to take off the rest. Some winters we are tempted to consider the major financial outlay for obtaining a snow blower, but the exercise of shoveling is still good for us if we don't go at it too hard.

I have an important specialist's appointment in Alberta in January and I am all ready praying for sufficiently good roads to prevent the trip from becoming a nightmare.  I have to be at this appointment so better start asking for divine assistance right away.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Family "Fun"

My parents are providing a certain amount of amusement this morning, but it is the kind of amusement that makes me wonder if Dad isn't more correct about their need to look for seniors' housing this spring than Mom and I have been thinking.

I called them earlier to see how they enjoyed their Christmas dinner with a long time friend last evening.  As we began talking someone rapped on their outside window.  It was a friend with a parcel delivery for them.  My parents live on the ground floor of a condo complex, right beside the driveway into the parking lot, making it easy for friends to stop at their place, tap on the window and drop off items without having to stop and come into the building. Mom opened up the balcony door and stepped outside to take the parcel from their friend while I continued talking with Dad.  A couple of seconds later I could hear something beeping in the background of our conversation.  I asked Dad if he could hear something beeping on his end of the line but he said he couldn't.  Apparently my mother didn't hear anything either as she stood on the balcony talking to their friend.

After another little while the sirens and hoots of their unit's alarm system blared into the phone.  Dad hollered he would call me back and we hung up.  A few minutes later he returned the call. As I suspected, they had put their safety alarm on last evening at bed time, then forgot to turn it off this morning.  When Mom opened the balcony door she set off the alarm.  It performed its usual 45 seconds of beeping, during which time it can be shut off with no problem, then went into high gear and alerted the security company and the police.  My mother is rather deaf and I can appreciate she was unable to hear the initial beeping as she stood out on the balcony. My father claims he has no hearing loss at all, but he didn't hear the beeping either, or at least did not make the connection that it had any relevance to him.  Aiiiiii yiiiiii......

As soon as they shut off the alarm they called me back.  It seemed the call came in rather quickly after we hung up the phone for them to tend to the alarm.  When I answered they started in again on the description of their lovely Christmas dinner, but I interrupted them to ask what had happened with the alarm.  Had they gotten through to the security company to explain it had been an accident?  "Oh no.", they said.  "We didn't call anyone.  We just shut it off."  

"Oh!", said Mom.  "Maybe we should just call and let them know."

"Oh no.", said Dad.  "If they need to contact us they will call us."

"Oh!", said I.  "How will they do that if you are on the phone talking to me?"

"Oooooh.....", said Dad.  "I never thought of that."  No guff Dad.....

So they hung up to make their phone calls in hopes that the police wouldn't be arriving at their door seeking intruders and subsequently having it cost  my parents a bundle of money to pay for a false alarm....at least I hope that is what is happening.  It has been nearly a half hour and they have not yet called me back.

Aaaaah, the elderly parent syndrome.....what next??

Wait a second...I am not sure I want to know.....

To be continued.........

Update:  all is well.  They were able to reach the security company just before police dispatch so they will not be charged, the police will not have to waste their time lecturing 2 seniors about being more careful with their security system.  HOHOHO!!  Meeeeeeerry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Best Christmas Eve In Years

Last night was a true blessing for us.  My exhausted husband was well rewarded for his efforts at the services last night.  Everything went smoothly, people seemed to enjoy their time worshipping and fellowshipping together.  We managed to pulley the Advent wreath down from the ceiling just before one of the bows of the holly caught fire from a sputtering candle....adding just enough, but not too much, unexpected excitement to the festivities. As my husband told them, it wouldn't have been the first time he was in charge of a service where something accidentally caught fire.  (This would have been his third time had the worst happened, teehee) I was delighted to be able to accompany the singing at both services as our usual musicians were all out of town and I have decided I do love doing that so I can be at the front and hear all the voices and see all the fun things that happen when the kids come to the front of the church to participate.

The other service, the one that attracts the most visitors and that we were worried would repeat its gong show qualities from last year, went along perfectly.  We learned after last year, that there is no point in having a visitor population of over 70% and expect them to be able to settle down enough to actually follow the service in the prayer book, no matter how well my husband remembers to tell them every page number.  Juggling kids who need to be home in bed all ready, prayer books, hymnals and extra service add on sheets is too daunting for the uninitiated.  So, my husband put the entire service onto Powerpoint.  It worked like a charm.  He only messed up on one slide, so since most of the people there didn't know any better, we ended up reading the Holy Holy 2 and half times in a row, but that was okay. Good words you can't really say too often.  At least that is how we hope the people from our own congregation felt about it......hohoho!

The children provided no end of entertainment.  When my husband called up the children at one of the services to come and help him set up the manger scene, only one little girl came forward.  She was completely in awe of the entire event and was quite speechless with load of responsibility to place the figure of the baby Jesus in the manger.  Her newborn brother was not so speechless, particularly during the singing of the songs.  We couldn't tell if he was singing along or screeching in frustration because he didn't like the noise. At the other service all the children came forward to help arrange the manger scene.  As it happened they were all little girls, decked out in lace and satin and silk.  Ankle length dresses ruled the evening for these little fashion plates.  At one point the entire congregation got mooned by 10 tiny, lacy bottoms and my husband's rather larger one in his bright white alb, as they all kneeled down or bent over to see the baby Jesus wrapped in an altar cloth in the manger.  I was wishing I had my camera for that unwittingly hilarious scene. As they returned to their seats afterward, one small gal about 3 years old and sporting bright purple frames on her little pair of glasses, decided she wanted to play the piano.  She crawled up on the piano bench beside me and began playing notes very gently and quietly.  I was unable to convince her that perhaps we could do this later one so I looked over at my husband and we decided to go with the flow.  Everyone was beaming at this little cherub as she caressed the keys so lovingly, completely awestruck that she could make sounds come out of that piano all by herself.  After a minute her older sister came and led her back to their parents, but my husband promised the crowd we would try to retain her for another gig one day.

At the end of the first service, we were called to the front of the church and presented with many goodies collected for us by our parishioners.  Each year they prepare salsas and pickles and cookies, they include small boxes of things like organic oranges, there are hams and roasts and steelhead salmon. There are gift cards for groceries and gasoline.  This year there were several pads of Post-It notes because my husband's huge wall calendar in his office is nearly invisible by this time of year, each day hidden under a conglomeration of Post-Its with time and place of his daily meetings and obligations. There are assorted candies and this year someone placed an assortment of diabetic chocolates in the box with a card that said they are just for myself.  How thoughtful is that??  There were boxes of cookies for my husband that contain no corn products in honour of his corn allergies.  The gifts themselves, lovely as they are to receive, are over shadowed by the thoughtfulness that went into providing them for us.  At the close of the other service we found all manner of cards and notes and gifts from the parishioners there stacked up on my husband's desk for us to find.  This year the lovely expressions of concern and care from our parishioners reached new heights.  We wonder if it is partly because they are starting to trust us that we are not going to just up and leave them during a time of concern about what direction our parish may have to go in order to remain viable.  The longer we stay here the less we want to go elsewhere as we begin getting closer to these people and the trust builds stronger on between us.

Our Christmas Eve ended with a huge personal blessing.  Attending our local service was a visiting young couple we originally met about 7 years ago when my husband was doing his pastoral internship at a small Free Methodist church plant whose congregation had an average age of 22.  We were unsure at the time how the group felt about having such old codgers come to join them, but it seemed to go well.  This dear young couple confirmed last night that indeed our assistance had been well respected.  How nice to find that out.  We invited this couple to come for tea and snacks after the service last night and we had the best visit.  He is on the road to Anglican postulancy, attending seminary in Toronto. She is a wedding photographer, a most interesting young woman who grew up in  Montreal, but has fallen in love with living in small prairie towns.  We sat up until after midnight....well after midnight....talking about our lives and ministries.  They are visiting his relatives here in town and will be visiting a number of times over the coming year, so we have exchanged contact info and we look forward to more good times with this amazing young couple....mind you, I think any young couple who wants to spend so much time visiting with us to be quite amazing!!

I was concerned about my blood sugar, having slept in and eaten my breakfast 2 hours late this morning, but all was well.  I can adjust the rest of my day's meals accordingly; a little icing on the cake after an entire evening of blessings.

My computer appears to be on the edge of a crash so I guess a new computer may have to be my Christmas present to myself....not quite what I was hoping for just now, but at least we have a couple of great computer stores in town and there will be some choices for me.  My husband will make the choice as I am not at all a techie of any sort and it will be wonderful.

So off to wake up my husband.  We have parishioners calling us today to say how much they enjoyed the services last night so he won't want to miss talking to them.  We feel honoured to be so blessed this Christmas.  


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How I Miss the City on Christmas Eve Day

I made the mistake of going downtown this afternoon.  After several winters here I should know by now that trying to look around on the afternoon of Christmas Eve day, in an attempt to find some fun and excitement and other Christmas cheer, is going to be disappointing at best and rather depressing when I stop to think about it. I should have figured it out as soon as I arrived downtown and saw very little more traffic there than is usual on a Sunday afternoon when all the stores are closed.

I started my search at the post office...last pre-Christmas day to collect those final deliveries of cards and letters.  Unfortunately there was no first class mail delivery to our town today, so all that was in there was a flyer for a store that doesn't have a franchise here.

On to the bank to make a deposit before they closed for the holidays.  I made it there on time and took out a few dollars for myself, thinking it would be really edifying for my lackadaisical attitude toward Christmas if I bought myself a little present to celebrate the gift giving of the holiday season.  Just thinking about it made me cheery.

The pottery store was all ready closed and won't be open again until the new year.  My favourite ladies' wear store was closed and won't be open again until the new year. The other ladies' wear store had nothing in my size that interested me and it is an uber expensive place so no point in spending money there just for the sake of a treat I wouldn't be that excited about  The music store has just recently gone out of all their piano music other than the course books for Royal Conservatory and Suzuki methods.  They had no jazz CD's.  The fabric store and pharmacy had nothing interesting that I needed for a pick-me-up in their giftware departments and the other gift store that was still open featured all manner of useless knick-knacks I don't need or want. That left the 2 hardware stores and a WallyWorld.  Doubtful I would find anything in a hardware store I would want. I all ready know every inch of WallyWorld and their stock...crap, crap and more cheap crap; okay for every day needs but not really the sort of present there I would want to give myself for a special treat.

I did find two fantastic cotton sweaters for my husband at the mens' wear store and was thrilled to be able to get them in his size. We don't exchange gifts at Christmas but I know he would never pay the price for either of them no matter how much he would like to have them. I am breaking the no gifts rule this year because the man deserves a treat for Christmas, a nice surprise to thank him for being the great man that he is, for working full time so that I don't have to work at all and can manage my health full time, for never criticizing me, for encouraging me in all that I do, for being a great dad to our son, for being patient with the rest of my family, for having integrity at all times, for being a peace maker, for working so hard for terrible wages and very little encouragement and with no real chance of promotion at his age. I want him to know I see and I care. I was able to keep my purchases within his only 2 boundaries for gifts for himself: nothing from WallyWorld and nothing made in China.

So, no gift for myself, but I am so cheery now because I found something for my husband and he will be very surprised...hopefully delightfully so!  

It turned into a good shopping expedition after all, going downtown was not actually a mistake, but I still find it difficult to be away from the pulse of the city the day before Christmas.  I miss the lights and the noise and the music pumping through the sound systems, coming out all garbled. I miss the traffic and the rushing about and the pushing and shoving for the last few popular items on the store shelves and the stores being open 24 hours.  I miss feeling part of something bigger and more exciting than a small prairie town sitting abandoned in the snow and ice while the rest of the whirlwind flies madly about in all its excitement.

We are going to the city in January and I will get myself a little something special then.  It won't be as exciting or loud or crazy fun as Christmas Eve day, but still it will be the city and I will enjoy every minute of it.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Healing Power of Laughter

This afternoon, shortly after my husband returned from doing a church service in the other town, we received an invitation to return there tonight and join 2 couples from the church for dinner.

It was tempting to say no.  My husband is heartily sick of that drive this week due to the extra trips he has all ready had to make for the extras of the season. He is tired, I am tired and fighting a bad allergy in my eyes, so I expected he would say no.

However, he decided it was more important for us to go and have a good time with these dear friends than to worry about having to drive another 120km round trip today.  We are both so glad we did.

These people are hilarious. They love to laugh. They laugh at everything. If there is nothing in a conversation to laugh about they will make up some reason to laugh.  We laughed until we cried, giggled and guffawed, hiccuped and snorted and slapped our knees with joy.

The food was fabulous but the fellowship was even better.  Our hosts are terrible examples of how to treat diabetes (they are both diabetics) and I was afraid I was going to be ill by the time we finally ate dinner (all the wrong things), but I survived and they survived.  After supper we sat around and laughed some more.  I felt more like myself than I have in a very long time.

Sometimes there are more important considerations than staying out of the -36C weather and resting because you are kind of tired and bored with the mechanics required to get together with people between prairie towns in winter.

I am grateful my husband was able to put his own tiredness aside and take me somewhere fun with people who love to laugh.  I read somewhere that laughter is the best medicine.......and "A merry heart does good like a medicine" is a line right out of the Bible.  

Yup, it is great to be able to laugh. Even God agrees with me on that one.

An Odd Little Song

The link below is to a Christian pop (worship?) song.  It is an oddly charming little ditty that is easy to sing along to, but I find it quite strange in that it tells the first part of the human life of Jesus, then skips to the final event of his human life, but leaves out everything in between.

Click on the link below to have a listen and see what I mean: 

I have found the same sort of gap in the discussion at many churches I have attended previously.  If I only listened to some of the sermons and seminars with little biblical knowledge of my own, I would be thinking that Jesus was born only to die at about age 33 on a wooden cross to provide a sacrifice to God the Father for my sins in order that I would be able to believe, receive forgiveness and go to heaven when I die.  The preaching of the cross was so central to every aspect of talk and thought that it seemed as if Jesus' example of how to live an earthly Christian life was only a side issue, a part of the preaching and teaching to be gotten through at the public services in order to get to "the good stuff" of the cross.

Well, yes, the cross, Jesus' death on it and his subsequent resurrection are central to the claims of Christianity for restoration between God and humankind, but in some cases there has been so much focus on it that we have lost our edge in the seeking of God's fruits of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the concept of our own sacrificial daily living and giving to improve the situation in other peoples' lives.  The old expression of "being so heavenly minded we are no earthly good" seems to be making a comeback in some Christian circles.

I spent years listening to the same Jesus on the Cross information as the finale to every sermon, funeral message, wedding homily and what have you.  To be honest it got a bit stale.  It lost its punch, its impact was dulled because that was the main thrust of every message I heard. I actually got to the point where I was feeling like, "Yeah, yeah, Jesus died on the cross....tell me something I DON'T know!"

What I am enjoying most about the Anglican church's celebration of the seasons each year is that each of those seasons concentrates on a different aspect of  God's creation, the prophets and other teachings of the Old Testament, Jesus' life and teachings, biblical theology and practice old and new. Each of those receives its due annually.  Advent is truly a time of repentance individually and as a church.  During this present season, time is spent on Scriptures and practice to really understand the significance of Advent and how it leads us to prepare for the birth of Christ.  Christmas and Epiphany, the life and teachings of Christ, Pentecost, and the Cross all have their time of focus.  Each year it is a full spiritual and biblical journey.  Each year we learn why every part of the biblical account is significant to our present day lives.   

I am glad there are so many church denominations. Believers of all ilks can find a good place to worship and fellowship with like minded folk.  We can gather around common beliefs about the divinity/humanity of Jesus, the need for the Cross and support each other despite some differences in practice and some details about the specifics of what we believe about biblical teaching. God has given us lots of room for interpretation in a lot of the Scriptures and we can celebrate that.  For me personally I enjoy my denomination, particularly with the rounded picture of spiritual life and teaching.

My husband and I have tried out so many other denominations before settling here.  It feels good and right for us. Other Christians fit better in other denominations. It is all good.

Now I am going to click on the link above and have a little song fest of my own before I head over to church.

Christmas is Coming


Click here for your card.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

So How Bored Was I Tonight? I Was SOOO Bored.......

....I spent 40 minutes cleaning my computer key board. Sigh...now THAT is bored!  

18 cotton swabs, 2 paper towels and a quarter cup of cleanser later, the key board is sparkly and clean as it can be at its age.  It is so ancient I don't even remember when or where I purchased it, but it still works so I am happy enough with it.  

The letter E has been rubbed so clean of colour that it looks like a small case letter L, the letter A looks like a lean-to and the letter N has completely disappeared.  

But this old keyboard is my friend.  Its excellent quality has saved me a lot of money and time as I haven't had to get a new one for so many years.  It creaked a bit when I turned it over to shake out the lint and bits of stuff from inside it, but it is up and working just fine again.  

Thank you ancient keyboard for so many good years of service.  

Now if someone would invent a self-cleaning keyboard I might be persuaded to purchase one.  After all, they achieved it with ovens so.......why not? This is the Age of Technology isn't it? Yeah, a self-cleaning keyboard...now don't ruin my fun by telling me there all ready is such a thing okay? Don't spoil my fun imagining how it could work.  Thank you....

Dealing With Life's Disappointments

The older I get, the more adept I am becoming in dealing with the disappointments of life.  Mellowing with age is part of it I suspect, but there is also sufficient life experience now to be able to look back at how insignificant most of the "losses" that used to upset me so badly actually were.

Some disappointments are extremely significant and can leave scars that effect the rest of a person's life:  being abused, being left at the altar, losing a spouse, child or other family member to death or diseases that rob them of their ability to function, divorce, personal health crises, the unexpected loss of a lifetime career, terrible accidents....yes, there are many life changing disappointments that most of us have to deal with at one time or another and they are a challenge no matter who you are, or what you believe about life and the universe.

I have to admit though that the majority of disappointments that stung me most in my younger years, the ones most difficult to let go of, the ones that made me the most tempted to be bitter, were small things: my parents refusing me permission to attend a party that all my friends were going to, finding out my best friend wasn't my best friend after all, missing a bus and making myself late for school or an appointment when I have always prided myself on being on time for everything, having to let my son use the car when I thought I needed it myself, temporary career disappointments that caused only small hassles for myself and my husband, living in towns and cities I didn't like, missing out on things I wanted to do because of my husband's or my own work and ministry.....essentially disappointments over events and circumstances that only mattered at the time and have had no life changing consequences to any great extent; usually missing out on the fun times.  We all go through such things no matter our jobs or lifestyles or expectations.

I had a temptation to disappointment just today when we received a notice from the diocese office that a meeting there my husband absolutely cannot miss will be taking place the same day as a special 120th anniversary celebration of our former church 9 hours in the opposite direction, the church responsible for my husband becoming an Anglican priest in the first place.  Just for a few seconds I wanted to blow up, let my emotions spill over all over the place, cuss out the bishop and all the diocese and even God, because we will now have to miss a special event we have been planning on attending for most of the past year.  I settled for an emotional fist slam on top of the desk in my husband's office, the shedding of a few small tears and then I was over it.  End of emotional outburst.  

The first thought through my head as the tears began was that no one was going to die, including my husband and I, if we didn't get to attend the celebration.  The second thought was that within a few days of it being over we would be thinking of other things anyway and so would everyone else at the celebration.  The third thought was that the significance of the diocesan meeting in the life of a fellow my husband is mentoring through the information at this meeting has more far reaching consequences in the life and ministry of this fellow in our diocese than our attendance at an anniversary elsewhere, no matter how much fun it would be and no matter how badly we want to be there. 

The fourth thought was the most significant one:  it was the remembrance that when we committed to be in full time ministry we were letting God and everyone else know that serving in God's kingdom always comes first.  It comes ahead of everything else in our lives.  It requires sacrifices large and small.  Sometimes it is difficult sledding, but there are always rewards of greater significance than losing out on some fun.  Sometimes it is just downright difficult to deal with, but that is the committment we made...to God and to the diocese.  

I am going to sit down and pray a couple of prayers about this one. The first one will be a request that the date of the meeting be changed and the second one will be that we will have grace to be cheery about sending my husband off to this meeting if the date isn't changed.  My idea is that if you aren't happy about something God is quite willing to hear you ask for changes.  If he answers the request in the negative, then he gives grace to cope with the reality of a disappointment. That is the sort of trade off I enjoy most about God.  Answers to prayers can be yes or no and sometimes it isn't easy to see why we get the answers we get, but there is always grace available to offset the answers we don't like that much.  We don't have to go through our disappointments alone. 

Life is a learning experience and sometimes it isn't pleasant, but learning to deal with disappointments is a way to learn maturity and peace, especially when I let God help me with my emotional responses.

The Kind of Christmas Day We Have Always Wanted...At Last

My husband and I are REALLY excited about Christmas this year.  Why?  It is because we get to spend it on our own, resting, not travelling, not having to visit anyone in particular in dressy clothes with a rich meal we have to force ourselves to eat when we are too tired to enjoy it.

This year my husband does not have to drag his weary self on a 5 hour drive to visit our families on Christmas Day after conducting many extra church services etc., in honour of the season.  We are taking his mandatory days off post-Christmas in January, after he has had a chance to recover somewhat and our church related activities have at last slowed down somewhat.

Usually Christmas Eve afternoon has us both in a frenzy of packing up to leave town the next day.  We have dragged ourselves city-side year after year, not being able to give our best to our families.  Watching us pale faced and sleepy for a few days is as little fun for them as it is for us.

We have the Lutheran pastor and our own Bishop to thank for being able to do our own thing this Christmas.  On the Sunday between Christmas and New Year, we will have a pulpit exchange at our local church with the Lutheran pastor.  My husband is looking forward to learning more about their liturgy and being able to meet and speak to a new group of people, listen to their music and enjoy a change of pace.  The following weekend, the first weekend of Epiphany, our Bishop is coming here as he begins his visits in 2014 to every parish in the Diocese.  My husband will have an entire week or more to plan the last minute details of the visit without having just returned from travelling to the city, arriving back even more exhausted than before he left.

One of our parishioners presents us with a wonderfully plump and delicious fresh farm chicken each year.  She arrived yesterday with this year's offering and we are going to have that for our Christmas Day meal.  We are going to take all day to wander about the house, prepare the meal, have an afternoon nap and enjoy being alone, blessedly alone for the entire day. It may just be a "jammies" day all day.  After dinner we will turn on the lights of our borrowed mini-tree and gaze off into the distance with full tummies and empty minds.  

All our parishioners are otherwise looked after this year, so we are not being selfish in being on our own.  I must say we have genuinely enjoyed the times we have shared over Christmas dinner with our church people other years, but also admit this year we are happy for everyone to have their own families and friends to share the season with as right now we are too tired to be able to give them the best of ourselves. 

My diagnosis has been even more exhausting for my husband than it has been for me.  He deals with his stress using "action": looking up all manner of diabetic charts and graphs and food groups and carb counts and glycemic indexes and and and and and....constructive action is his best stress reliever.  All sorts of things I started researching on my own were found and downloaded, printed, scanned and otherwise prepared for my immediate use by Himself.  He beat me to the punch every time.  Once a week he has used his time off to measure and count, add and subtract, bake, boil and broil, in order to make some casseroles and Indian food combos that fit my diet so that I can have a break from my usual plain style of cooking.  While I am easing into this new lifestyle in a way that I can handle, he is at it full speed ahead.  As he watches my sugars stabilizing he is starting to calm down about it all finally....well except for yesterday when he nearly sent himself crazy preparing an Indian chicken cholay for me with just the right combination of carbs and proteins and fats.  Aiiii yiiii....I am the most spoiled diabetic on the face of the planet.

So with all the extra work at church, our steep learning curve about my disease and the wretched winter weather, we have reached the end of our energy for 2013.  

Counting down the days to our Christmas Day of rest and marvellous chicken dinner.........yippee!!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Sugary Revelation

A friend with a husband who also suffers from diabetes told me that once your palate and body are more or less cleansed of sugar, you become very sensitive to the sweetness.  Wow, she is SO right.

We were out for dinner the other night and the hostess had made a wonderful curry that I could eat quite happily. She knew I couldn't eat dessert but I told her to make it for everyone else as I have no cravings for such things.

She made my most favourite dessert of all time..well, formerly my favourite.  She made perfect creme caramels.  They looked spectacular and my husband said she did a fantastic job.  So, I decided I would try a quarter of a teaspoon just for a treat.  Aiiiii yiiiii....never again.  I have had almost no refined sugars in the past 6 weeks and the sweetness of that wee bitty bit of creme caramel hit me like the broad side of a barn.  SMACK!!  It was all I could do to swallow it, it tasted that sweet.  

So my knowledgeable friend was correct when she told me I wouldn't be able to abide the taste of refined sugar within a few weeks of eliminating it from my diet.  It was quite a revelation to me how burnt out my taste buds had become over the years of eating the wrong foods.  

So much to learn.......the one thing I have been feeling deprived of is hot chocolate on a cold winter night. Not any more.  If that is how sweet things are going to taste to me from now on, I am cured of any temptation to desire even my formerly favourite winter drink!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

You'll Never Convince Me......

...that secular humanism is not a religious belief, despite its adherents' claims of neutrality.  The recent kerfuffle in Quebec over changing its charter of human rights to prevent government employees from wearing what will be defined by that government as ostentatiously or blatantly religious jewellery or clothing, gives evidence of this.  Who gives the government that right to decide seems somewhat nebulous in my opinion. It seems ludicrous to me that those who claim no religion have become self-appointed experts on what constitutes religious expression in the lives of others.

If secular humanists were actually neutral they would not care if someone else wore a hijab on her head or a large cross around his neck.  It would not matter because it makes no difference to how a person does his or her job.  Such things would pose no threat to people who are strong in their own beliefs and are actually as neutral as they claim to be.

This kind of fundamentalism among secular humanists is not only unattractive, it is frightening when one considers some of the initial edicts that came down during the formation of Nazi Germany, not that many decades ago.  There are too many similarities for my peace of mind.  Equally terrifying is the lack of substantial response from residents of the rest of Canada.  Apathy is what breeds dictatorships and it seems we have become apathetic with a capital "A".  In Quebec, many people who have religious beliefs other than secular humanism are starting to band together to protest this infringement on the basic human rights Canada's troops fought for in several wars around the world in past centuries.  Even now we have troops in Afghanistan, for example, fighting for what the western world considers basic human rights for its people, while their own people are losing their right to freedom of religious expression...or even freedom to express their taste in simple jewellery.

The attitude I run into here in the west is that this whole issue is "Quebec's problem".  Do people not see that once the door is open for arbitrary government policies on what is defined as "religious dress and ornamentation" and people are told by that definition what they can and cannot wear to their job sites, that door will swing ever wider and encompass more areas of the country? It won't stop with job sites either.

We are in a bad way in this country when secular humanist fundamentalists are so deluded as to believe they are actually neutral while they utilize their own freedom of religion to force people of other beliefs to submit to this kind of bullying.  

Keep writing letters of protest to the governments of Quebec and Canada.  March peacefully.  Make phone calls. Write blogs and newspaper articles.  Send letters to the editor.  Let it be known that we in the rest of Canada will not stand for this loss of freedom to happen.  Do it because if this happens in Quebec it is only a matter of time before the rest of us will fall victim to the same bullying tactics and will lose our freedom to express ourselves in the way we dress.

In other countries it is known as persecution and no, that is not too strong a word.  The Muslims, Christians, Jews and other protesters in Quebec are working together to attempt to stop this travesty and the rest of us had better get on the bandwagon to help them and ourselves.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

They Brought Us To Their Banqueting Tables!!!

'Tis the season for Advent and Christmas rural church potluck meals. In fact we have THREE of them this very weekend! Slurp! Burp!!  Urp!!!  My goodness, this is prairie fare at its very best.

So far my blood sugar is only mildly annoyed by the changes in diet but I will try to be very careful at tonight's feast to keep things under tighter control.

Yesterday morning a good friend took us out for breakfast.  We had a great visit, catching up on lots of news after several months of not seeing each other.  One thing we talked about was how Jesus seems somewhat like a friend to us all, but one of his other thirds, God the Father, is to us very much our respected and esteemed spiritual Father, rather than a buddy/pal.

In the evening our local church congregation was invited to the Christmas potluck and programme at the Lutheran church and it was a huge feast.  Unfortunately in all that conglomeration of food dishes there was very little that was safe for me to eat, so I did my best but my blood sugar let me know I messed up somewhere along the line.  Got it back into line this morning with a proper breakfast.  My husband and I got the giggles during the programme after the dinner when one of the performers did a line dance number to a country song.  One of the lines in the song is, "me 'n' God, two peas in a pod...".  We were giggling because we were trying to imagine the look on our breakfast friend's face if he had been there to hear that after our most solemn morning discussion about the place of Father God in our lives. hahaha  From deep theological discussion to country theological world view....kind of like from the sublime to the ridiculous, but God got the glory either way, so it's all good.

Today after our local service there was another potluck and a friend of ours scored big in our books. She made a giant Shepherd's pie...a real no no for me if it isn't made for diabetics...but she also made a second smaller version from a diabetic recipe for me, plus she didn't add any corn to it for the sake of my husband's allergies.  What an amazing woman to do that for us. I was able to add in a tiny slice of elk sausage made by some of our congregation members so that I could get my bit of fat content. Then I ate a quarter of a ham sandwich. My blood sugar was thrilled to pieces with that meal.  Looks like I am going to cut one carb unit out of my lunch and my dinner meals now as a matter of course.  

In a few minutes we are heading back to our other church for the annual Christmas potluck....again with the potluck and this crowd of cooks produces more gourmet and ethnic types of dishes.  Perhaps my blood sugar will have to be just a tad unhappy this evening?  I will try my very hardest to stay on track and am even taking some food from home I know I can eat, just in case there isn't much for me there, but ooooh, how I hope I can find some chances to taste the foods there tonight.  

And that should be the end of our pre-Christmas, Advent, holiday time potluck dinners......oh, except for the one mid week this week with some friends.....and then there is the one.......aiiii yiiiii...


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Yesterday Was a Productive Day

Ongoing good news yesterday from our son as he continues to heal slowly but surely from his bout with near pneumonia. What a relief!!

Scoured out the bathrooms yesterday.  To have energy again to keep up with all the housework and not just the bathrooms is the best feeling.  Leaping up from a meal to tackle all the dishes without that sluggish, "Oooh, really...do I HAVE to wash them right now??" attitude, is quite a relief.    Being able to exercise at various times of day is so energizing.  I hadn't realized how bad my health was becoming.

A wonderful afternoon for us of pastoral visiting.  What a great  bunch of seniors we have here.  Got home just after a message came in that my husband needed to do an emergency hospital visit and communion so off he raced to do that for a most blessed couple from our parish.

Took a long walk after dinner all around the house and over to the church and hall.  I am sleeping better most nights and feeling so much better.  Life is becoming sweet again in so many little ways.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Now My Husband Knows What MY Days Are Like! HOHOHO!!

My poor dear husband had quite a time this morning.  He had 3 specific projects to complete in his administrative tasks. All 3 involved problems he couldn't have foreseen. With the complications that arose and some phone calls about other unrelated things to be dealt with, his 1 hour of work took over 3 hours.  However, mission accomplished.

Just before noon he realized he had not eaten breakfast and was feeling a tad peckish.  He decided he would make himself some pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup.  I make even worse pancakes than I do tea, so he always elects to make his own.  He got the batter mixed and the first pancake into the pan.  He stood and watched it browning nicely underneath. All was well until he flipped it over to cook the other side.  My husband is a champion pancake flipper.  He can flip those things high in the air, make them turn over 3 feet above the pan and catch them again perfectly in the centre of the pan...but not today.  He flipped it up, it turned over, it missed the pan and landed on the top of the stove, raw side down, splaaaat!

He was not impressed to say the least.  He managed to get it more or less scraped up in a soggy wad and back into the pan to finish cooking while he washed the rest of the liquid batter off the stove top.  The resulting pancake probably tasted okay, but it looked like a river valley with little brown craggy peaks sticking out of it.  Well, a few blueberries from the freezer would fix that.  My husband pulled a small bag of berries from the freezer, dumped them into a 2 cup measure and put it into the microwave.  He thawed them beautifully.....and then some. Somehow he managed to put the timer on for too long.  When the buzzer went off to say they were ready, they were steaming and the handle on the measuring cup was so hot when he grabbed it that he yelped and dropped the whole works upside down on the counter top.  There were hot blueberries and steaming, staining juice everywhere.  By now he was downright angry. That is a rare occurrence for him, my calm husband who lets very little bother him.

He only had to waste a few of the berries, he mopped up the juice and set the rest of the salvageable berries aside for his brunch.  Then he cleaned the interior of the microwave and pulled it out from the wall to clean the berry juice out from underneath and behind it.  As he worked he went back and forth to the burner to continue cooking the pancakes.

When things were back under control and he was ready to eat, he pulled the bottle of maple syrup from the fridge....and only knocked over a few jars of other condiments in the process. Fortunately none of them spilled.

Just as he was about to take the last pancake out of the pan and sit down and eat, another phone call came in for him and he left his pancake cooking. By the time he was done on the phone it was burnt.

I didn't mean to giggle at him in the midst of his misfortune.  Really I didn't.  But I couldn't help myself.  My husband never looks as helpless and confused in a kitchen as he did today.  His frustration level was more funny than upsetting and I couldn't help laughing at him until my sides hurt.  Seeing him so angry and bewildered by a kitchen mishap is so unusual and as he stood there wondering if he was going to be able to eat his brunch or if he was in danger of ruining the entire meal, the whole thing struck me as hilarious. Maybe one day he will forgive me.

Welcome to my world sweetie.....The Universe of Klutz! Enjoy your stay!

The End of an Era in My Country

The country I grew up in has changed drastically in the last ten years or so.  When I was a child Canada was in its prime as far as combining socialism and democracy.  We "had it good" when I was younger, but it seems we are now being forced to go backward.

Medical care in Canada, while still being far better and more accessible than in many parts of the world, is falling apart.  We have priced ourselves out of business through improper use of the system.  In rural areas such as the one in which I presently reside, we have not had proper medical care for a number of years.  Our current new crop of doctors may or may not stay very long, but we are glad to have them and hope their presence signals at least a partial return to good local health care.  However, for many standard lab tests and other regular treatments for chronic illnesses, we are still forced to drive over 2 hours to the nearest city and not guaranteed much in the way of good hospital care there either with staff cuts and budget constraints.  Being ill in this country is becoming a far more daunting prospect than it was even forty years ago.

After enjoying the privilege for decades of door to door mail delivery in towns and cities large enough to support mail carriers, Canada Post is phasing out home delivery over the next 5 years and will be installing community mail boxes instead.  For people in towns as small as the one where I live there will not be a significant disruption as we have to go to the post office for our mail anyway, but for people in the cities, particularly those with mobility issues, things are going to change drastically.  The cost of a stamp is rising to one dollar from the present sixty-three cents...unless you purchase a roll or book of stamps all at one time, in which case each stamp will end up costing eighty-five cents.  So, that change signals the end of my Christmas card mailings.   I feel for Canada Post as they attempt to keep themselves afloat in this age of instant communications through technology.  Since I don't have any social media accounts, some of these changes will directly affect me in a negative way.  Computers and social media have been big contributors to the downfall of our postal system.  Times change, lifestyles change and that is just the way it is.  

The change that will bother me most is the new year's banning of light bulbs that actually emit sufficient light for me to see.  I have blogged about this before.  There isn't anything I can do about being stuck as of next year with bulbs filled with toxic mercury and no local disposal system in place to get rid of them.  You would think legislation to force us to purchase toxic chemicals to get light into our homes and offices would have with it, hand in hand, a specific plan for waste disposal, but no, no such thing, at least not yet.  I am thinking of saving our parish a LOT of money on power bills next year and reverting all the way back to the use of candles in the rectory.  My husband grew up using candles and oil lamps for light in the evenings in his little cabin in the woods, so why not give it a try?  A bit more caution is required to prevent fires of course, but I think I would rather risk a fire than risk breaking a mercury filled bulb and having to immediately evacuate my home, leaving all I own behind.  The amount of mercury in one home thermometer is sufficient to "toxify" 5 Olympic sized swimming pools, so why I should want to fill my home with lightbulbs containing the stuff is beyond me!

One of the bans I understand least is Vancouver's ban on the old fashioned style round door knobs.  I love round door knobs. They are functional for me.  I don't like the new long handled door openers for a few reasons, although I understand they are more easy to use for some folk with problems like arthritis in their fingers.  I can understand having options to the old round knobs, but to ban them outright?  I am tired of having more and more innocuous options taken away from me by people who are self-appointed experts in some cases, and who seem to think I am incapable of making good choices for myself and for the environment.  I know, I know, some things  have to be legislated because of the bozos who can't make good choices, but when it is coming down to what kind of door knob I am allowed to install, there are days when I feel rather put upon.

Canada is changing along with the rest of the world.  Our irresponsibility toward the privileges we have known for the past 70 years is forcing some of these changes on us and it will be interesting to see what happens next.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Location Location Location!!

Yesterday was our church's turn to man the Salvation Army kettle at the local WallyWorld.   It is usually a day of fun and freezing cold.  The location of the kettle is just inside the main entrance/exit doors of the store and the cold air that blasts over the kettle area as customers enter and leave the store is nearly unbearable for the fundraising volunteers.

However, yesterday our first set of volunteers, a lively senior couple, noticed that the water fountain immediately across from the line of cashiers was out of order.  That fountain area is the one place every paying customer has to pass by as they finish at the tills and before they leave the store. The area is around the corner from the main doors and safe from icy blasts of cold air, so our seniors arranged to have the kettle moved over there.

It was probably our most lucrative day in the past 4 years of taking collections for the Salvation Army. Not only was it warmer for us, but as my husband and his friend rang the little Christmas bell to get peoples' attention, it was easier for customers to donate.  They noticed the kettle before they finished paying for their purchases and before putting their wallets away.  How easy to just take the change from their transaction at the till and drop it into the kettle....plus a bit more so as not to look too chintzy.  It was fabulous.

In previous years we have not been as noticeable at the right time.  After going through the cashier stations, getting change and wallets put away and packages balanced, customers would then come around the corner to the exit door and there we would be.  Quite a few folk were, understandably, not anxious to put all their parcels down again, dig out their wallets again and search for donation money.

We are going to contact the organizer of the kettle fundraiser and ask if she could try to arrange such a spot for the kettles again next year.  Despite a downturn in local economy over the past year, we took in at least twice as much donation money as we did last year.  Many people truly want to be generous so why not make it easier for them to give to those in need?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Son is Slowly Recovering

With the assistance of very strong antibiotics our son is starting to shake off his near pneumonia.  Today he had a clear mind for the first time in over 10 days.  The weather where he lives is starting to warm up a bit after an unusual cold snap over the past week.  We are grateful but know he has a long way to go to be completely healed of this illness.

My husband is on stand by in case our son has a relapse and will be prepared to fly out there to take care of him if that happens.  Despite the busyness of this time of year for ministry, the family still comes first for my husband, God bless 'im!  Also our parish is very understanding about family illnesses and the need to go and care for those who are suffering.  

We are blessed here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Perfect Window For Travelling

Our visiting friend was able to leave for home yesterday afternoon.  It seems she had the perfect window for her travels.  In the morning, after she was forced by a whiteout to return to our home after only an hour on the highway, my husband ventured across town for some groceries.  He had to cross the highway to get to the store.  The wind was blowing the snow so badly that he couldn't see the next set of traffic lights only a few blocks down the road.  No wonder our friend had not been able to get far on her travels home.

About 3pm the wind began to die down, so our friend drove out to the highway to take a look around.  The sky was blue and sunny, the roads were being cleared of snow, there was very little wind.  She returned to our house to repack her suitcases into her car, we checked all the highway and weather reports between here and her home town and off she went.  Although she drove into another storm very close to her home, she made it in her usual 5 hours of driving time.  She is a good friend. She called us as soon as she drove into her town and we rejoiced together for that window of opportunity for her to get back.

About the time she got home, a heavy snowfall warning was posted for her area and overnight we received several cm of snow as well.  Going home today would have been as impossible for her as it was yesterday morning.  Snow is predicted to continue here for several days so she could have been stuck here for a long time.

Sometimes that golden opportunity to travel in winter opens up and we have to be alert to grasp it and get a move on before it closes again.

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Son is So Ill I am Tempted to be Frightened

Is there anything scarier, even when our children are adults, than knowing they are very ill and you as the parent are too far away to nurse them back to health?

Our son has been ill and sporting a fever for the past 10 days. He has been unable to work, to do his growing pile of laundry, to feed himself properly, to even leave the apt. more than twice to go to the clinic close to his home and once to rent a city smart car to get some food and drink and meds.

Today his doctor put him on some super drugs and announced he has bronchitis with pre-pneumonia.  I can only hope and pray he can get free of this illness with that drug and without having some kind of allergic reaction to it.  When I think back to how well he took care of me this past summer when I myself was so ill, it makes me feel like there is a giant rock in the pit of my stomach because I can't get out there and take care of him the way only mothers can.

He is very capable adult, has a good network of friends to assist him as needed and will likely call on one of them to help him get his clothes to the laundromat in the next day or two, but his dad and I wish we were there to help him.

We still remember when he skateboarded headfirst into the steel girders of a large bridge his second year of college, when he was 21.  He had a terrible concussion and we couldn't get to where he was to check things out and help him recover.  It was horrible.  Of course he survived and all was well in the end and no doubt that will be the case this time too, but it still bothers us to be so far away.

Our family is very small as families go.  Our immediate and closest extended family basically consists of my elderly parents and my husband's sister and her husband...and our son.  Thaaaaat's all folks.  So, when one of us is ill it is a very big deal to the others. Right now it is our son's turn to be ill and alone.  

I am glad we believe in the power of prayer.  It helps him, it helps the rest of us.  God is very present and when I am so sorely tempted to be overly worried, I can reassure myself that our son is not really alone. He has his faith to carry him and he is certainly drawing on that faith right now.

So, this too shall pass. In the meantime we pray lots, we talk on the phone each day and we trust he will recover without further complications. 

From my blog to God's ear........

God's Words and Toddler's Response

A friend of mine works in a classroom filled with teeny toddler types and they come out with the most hilarious things.  Today their teacher was telling them the creation story.  She talked about how God spoke the entire spectrum of light into existence and one little girl's response was, "God has a really big mouth!!"  hahahaha

Winter is Up To Its Old Tricks

Our weekend company left for home about an hour ago. She just called from a town that is usually only a 25 minute drive from here to say that the snow is blowing so thickly and so high across the road she cannot see anything.  She is turning around to return to our house for the rest of the day and leaving tomorrow, Lord willing and the snow stops blowing.  I pray she gets back here safely and that all is well.  Blasted winter....winter blast....it's December in the prairies and there will be many people storm stayed today.  So glad we have space for her and that she doesn't have too far to go to return here.  We tried to convince  her to leave yesterday afternoon or even in the early evening for her 5 hour trip home but now she is stuck here.  I am so grateful she doesn't have small children at home and that her husband has sufficient help at their ranch in her absence.  I am so grateful she has had sufficient previous experience with prairie blizzards to have the good sense to know she should not try to continue today's journey.  I am going to get the kettle going so she can have a hot cup of tea when she gets back.  Lord, keep her safe.  Amen!

Good news for me is that the cold I have been fighting for the past week seems to have taken itself away and I am feeling a lot better.  Yippee!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Weight of the World Descends

Last evening we enjoyed a most delicious turkey dinner.  Each Advent one of our churches hires a caterer and our church family come together to just enjoy each other over plates overflowing with goodies.  It was lovely for me because there was very little there I am not able to eat.  What a treat to have a meal out now that I can better eyeball amounts of proteins and carbs.

There was one downside though and that was hearing from so many parishioners about recently diagnosed health problems, all far more serious than my mere diabetes.  The things these loved ones are facing are so overwhelming, so life threatening for them, so horrendous, that by the time I got home I felt like I was physically staggering under the load of their burdens.  My heart aches for them all.  Then after the service in our other town this morning one of the parishioners there also shared a dire possibility that is going to be diagnosed one way or the other tomorrow at a medical facility in the city. Right now I feel like I have been punched in the stomach by a professional boxer, someone like Rigondeaux, or Kirkland, or Gennady Golovkin!  Some of these folk are much younger than I am and it is nearly impossible to believe what they are facing  medically.

After being in generally good health for most of my life, at least in terms of not having too many chronic or life threatening medical issues to deal with, I feel completely overwhelmed just hearing of their trials.  How must they themselves be feeling as they face their mortality in terrifying ways?  Will they be able to hang onto Jesus sufficiently to stand courageously in the midst of these dire possibilities? Will they be able to let go and sob out their fears to Him and to receive peace in their hearts even a little bit?  Will their faith in God stand them in good stead when the fears and pain are too much to bear? Will they be able to accept reality without ongoing inner terror?

I need great wisdom and discernment to know how to pray for these people.  I need to know what to say to them when I speak and I need to know when to just shut the heck up and leave them be instead of swarming them with my useless statements of sympathy that only make me feel better but are of little to no value to them.  I need to know when to ask them how they are doing and when to just talk about other things that help keep their minds off their medical disasters.  I pray I can be wise.

On a very much happier note, I was just given a present. A gal in one of our churches has been very nice to me and we have shared some social times together.  Our husbands are becoming friends and we get along well.  She gave me a lovely ornament that had inscribed on it words that told me how much she appreciates our fledgling friendship.  I was touched beyond words.  We gave each other a big hug, had a little cry together and it was lovely.  We are both people who struggle to make friends and who are easily wounded when other people don't understand us.  So, while we don't spend a lot of time together, the times we do are very sweet.  She and her husband have been a source of great blessing to us in the past few years.  Our interests and life experiences are very different from each other, but wounded birds find each other and support each other, like she and I have done.  

So, a mix of good times and bad........AKA life.