Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Axe

For the past few months I have been getting that little nudge from the Lord that eventually has broken through my consciousness long enough to listen to what he has to say.

What I have been "hearing' is: "why do you continue to simply settle for less?"  

This question has taken me to the root of my ongoing discontent, a discontent that has been plaguing me for the past 7 years or so.  After seeing some amazing and shocking answers to prayer recently about a few involvements in my life, I started taking an axe to the foundation I have built my life upon over the past decade. 

So much of my unhappiness has stemmed from feeling a sense of obligation to continue in a kind of holding pattern in my spiritual and social life.  It is the usual problem of doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results. 

Duh!


The Lord has always known I am the kind of person that would rather have nothing than to continue to settle for places, events and people that leave me feeling unfulfilled, irritable in myself and that I am accomplishing nothing for anyone else by continuing on. 

As I have been axing out all manner of things that are just fine in themselves, but are toxic to me, I feel a wonderful sense of lightness and an easing of stress. It is almost diffcult to believe how obvious and direct the answers to my prayers about continued involvement have been.......the answers couldn't be any more clear actually.  WOW!!

It will be interesting to see what new directions are on the way, but first I am taking some time out to refocus. I don't want to make the same mistakes that I have been making so consistently for so many years now.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Basement Sealants Are Working....More or Less.....

We were relieved to discover this morning that there are only 3 places where there is a bit of dampness and leakage in the basement.  All 3 places were expected and there was only the teensiest bit of dampness spreading across the floor from where the water is trying to come in.  The towels I put down around those 3 areas were not even wet.  Yay!  

My husband has just enough product left to put one more thin coating on each of the 3 spaces and then I think we have done all we can about it for the time being.  The majority of things we have stored down there are either up on palettes and shelves, or hanging high on the walls just under the upstairs floor joists, or in the centre of the room away from anywhere the water has ever reached previously.  

We are expecting more rain on Monday/Tuesday.  Once those 2 days have passed my husband will see just how badly things are going to tend to leak and put on the last of the product once all 3 spaces are dry.  The leak in the middle of the wall is draining into a huge crack that is heaving up along the cement basement floor there, so there is little danger of there being enough water to jump the lip of the crack as it is fairly heaved up at that point.  I suspect that once we move out of here the whole floor will have to jackhammered out and repoured, as was the case in another unit in a building close to ours.  

Building housing units on swampland without using weeping tile is dumb, dumb, dumb, but it is possible there was no such thing when these buildings were erected and since they are "just" rental units, no one cares enough to fix things properly until emergencies occur.

We have certainly made this crazy townhouse our home and moving is going to take more effort and time and money than it has ever taken before.  There is no way we are going to move out prior to my husband's retirement, unless we are forced out sooner either by the condition of the building or a most unexpected job transfer or loss. 

For now, it is time to simply grin and bear the problems while rejoicing in and enjoying the good aspects of living here!

EMERGENCY PRAYER REQUEST

Okay, all you wonderful prayer warriors, we need to pray together for help from our heavenly Father for Lee!

Long story short: College aged Lee has been backpacking in Thailand for some months but very recently fell off the grid for a few days, terrifying his parents here in Saskatchewan. A few hours ago they received a phone call from a Thai gentleman they don't know, telling them their son is in a psych hospital in one of the cities there.  Fortunately they were able to locate the hospital and SKYPE with Lee.  He looks damaged, was pretty much incoherent other than to beg them to come and get him.  Apparently he spent some time in jail for some reason and has no belongings and no passport.  No one seems to know what happened to him or why he is in a psych ward.  So, his parents are right now on a plane on their way to Thailand.

Lee's aunt has managed to contact a Christian mission who has mediators in the area that may be able to assist them in getting their son identified and help get him whatever paperwork he is going to need from the Canadian Embassy to leave the country and return home.

Please pray for Lee's safety, for the safety of his parents and for the Canadian Embassy folk in Thailand, who have all ready been contacted and have not provided much help as yet, to help him restore his passport.

What a mess!  We pray that God will move mountains to help this family deal with this situation.  Lee is a good kid so how he came to be in jail and possessionless is a mystery for now.  Please pray for his health and for a quick release to his parents.

Thank you so much.  It may be a few days before I get an update but I promise I will post as soon as I get some news from his family.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly On the Plain....

The rain in Regina stays mainly in our basement!!

At least that is what we suspect we will discover in the morning.  It is nearly midnight and the rain drops have been teeming down for the past 40 minutes.  Sigh....things have been going SO well, but we are trying to prepare ourselves to awaken to a flooded basement.  Although my husband has spent a great deal of money and time parging and filling cracks with all manner of special sealants, you never know with this old place, where a new leak is going to appear.  The direction of the wind will have an effect as well.  

So, I am thinking it is time to go down there and toss a few old towels around in the areas where we are still uncertain of the sealants' success so that I don't lay awake half the night wondering what is going on down there and how much mopping and bailing we will have to do tomorrow.  

Perhaps we continue to renew our lease year by year because it comes due every March 1, after we have forgotten the torment of the previous year's rain induced flooding, long before the ground has thawed, long before the spring rains arrive to drive us crazy and to threaten everything we have stored down below.  The new leaks in the walls seem to follow our belongings as we hurriedly move them from one sector of the basement to another...once in the spring and once in the late fall.  

Aiiii yiiii...what kind of place is this anyway and why do we love the location so much that we just stay here year after year battling flooding and goose poop and spiders and mice?? Why? Why? Why?

Honestly, it is because we are too exhausted and broke to be hiring moving vans and movers, paying double rent and damage deposit for the month it seems to take to get out of a place once a new place is found. Besides, where else are we going to have a huge green park right across the street, off street parking, a bus stop right outside the front door, on foot accessibility to shopping of all kinds and a 10 minute walk to work for my husband? 

So we will soldier on for another year, grinning like the mad pair we are and coping, barely, with whatever new craziness this complex presents to us. 

It is all good....kinda.....

Helping a Friend.... I Hope.....

One day next week I am meeting with a friend in an attempt to help him understand what he needs to do to get his blood sugar heading back down to normal as he has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. His diagnosis happened several months ago, but it appears he isn't comprehending the seriousness of his situation and the extent of the lifestyle change required. My friend has rather limited English comprehension, so although his doctor has gone over the basics with him, it has become clear my friend didn't understand what he was told. I could use some prayer that something I say breaks through the language barrier and gets him more interested in taking care of himself.

This morning I drove to the local Diabetes Canada office and found a copy of the first "diabetes for dummies" book I received when I was diagnosed. It is written in simple English in bullet point format and is brightly illustrated with cartoon graphics. I photocopied a chart of portion sizes for most foods and instructions on how to read daily food value information on packaged foods. We can discuss those, as well as why daily exercise is so important. I have the links for the local and national Diabetes Canada websites and the phone number for the local diabetes clinic, which happens to be located only a couple of blocks from his place of residence. I will be urging him to contact them immediately for an appointment.

After my attempts to help it will be up to him to decide to follow through, BUT he did ask for my help so I am somewhat hopeful. Please pray for my friend Dee. Please pray I can be of service as he struggles with what is going on with his health. Thank you.

Brief Musings on Fundamentalism

I have been thinking about what it is that bothers me most about the sort of unnecessary exclusion that can occur in more fundamentalist circles.

Musing on the effects of fundamentalism within the Christian church, I am thinking what most puts me off about having a firm belief and practise in doctrines that leave us feeling we are offending God by merely associating socially with those who do not share our depth of doctrinal belief and practise, is that it removes the focus from allowing God to be the overarching God of the universe. It denies his inscrutable being in so many ways. It says we do not believe our own Scriptures that tell us that we do not know our own hearts the way God does.  Exclusionary fundamentalism that uses fear of those who are "not us" to keep us socially and culturally isolated from possibility being tainted by their "other" influence removes God from the throne of not only judgement but of mercy and compassion.  We take God off his own throne and replace his judgements with our own, effectively putting us in God's place.  In our attempts to achieve moral and spiritual purity we can become overly judgemental, lacking in compassion, arrogant, self-righteous, sarcastic and downright nasty toward those who do not share our doctrines and practises in their entirety.

On the other hand the Christian God is demanding.  He demands that we make every attempt to learn to know him, to obey his commands to us, to avoid personal sin as much as we are able to hear and obey and repent and atone.   While there are some pretty thin lines between obedience to what we either accurately or inaccurately believe to be the truth through biblical revelation and overstepping into self-righteousness, we can also be in danger of geting caught up in a lot of wishy-washy syncretism and inclusion of the wrong practises that are just as harmful to our spirits and our spiritual communities as  being overly  judgemental of others. 

Striking the balance takes a lot of thought, prayer, humility, open mindedness on all sides of this issue, fostering an ever growing personal relationship with God and dependence on the Holy Spirit to continually assist us in sorting through our doctrines and practises. 

I absolutely believe we can learn good things from other religions, their philosophies and their disciples. I believe we can have more dialogue together about where we are in agreement.  However, we have to understand that there are some areas where we cannot combine our beliefs into one. Some ideologies are simply incompatible with each other. eg If a Muslim person, a believer in one god was to join in worship with a Hindu person, who believes in many gods, is that person still a Muslim? Well, not according to the definition of that religion.   

Aaaah...this walking by faith business is quite a deal isn't it?  Being a Christian is never boring, that is for certain!! There is SO MUCH to think about and enjoy learning about...constantly!

Back to my musings...I guess if I am going to spend a lot of time thinking about something connected to God and church life, I might as well pick some huge issue like this that takes years of thought and study, right? haha

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Overwhelmed By the Blessings These Days

I don't know why it continues to happen, but my husband keeps coming up with restaurant coupons, so tonight we were out for dinner AGAIN!!  For me, that is 3 meals out in 2 days...okay, mostly proteins and salads, but wow...even a plain tossed salad tastes better in a restaurant.  I LOVE eating out, even for simple salad meals.  Aaaaahhhhh...........

Tonight we went for the first time to Da' Pizza and Curry House, located in a small strip mall on the south side of Victoria near the intersection with Arcola.  When we walked in I wasn't that excited as the place didn't look particularly prosperous, BUT the server was very sweet and the menu had a lot of options on it.  Unfortunately, what caught my eye were listings of dishes on every page that included the descriptive words, "cheese", "potato", "bread" and "deep fried".  For awhile I felt somewhat discouraged as my eyes didn't seem to alight on anything other than salads that I can safely eat.  Fortunately my husband knows how I manage to make myself crabby in such circumstancesa, before I even view the full menu, so he quickly located some other options for me that were healthier and with less cholesterol.

The prices are amazing there....SO inexpensive for what you get to eat!  My husband went completely crazy ordering all manner of things I knew we would never be able to finish.  I dreaded the final bill, but my goodness....that bill came to a total of $50.17, taxes included!  For our $50 we had enough food to bring home at least one hearty lunch for tomorrow!  Our costs included: 1 ten inch tandoori paneer pizza on a thin crust and topped up as well with tomato and sauteed onions (thin layer of cheese so even I could have a slice) with an herbed yogurt dipping sauce that also made a wonderful salad dressing, a large bowl of sambar topped with a mound of freshly chopped cilantro, 2 full sized whole wheat roti, a large chick pea salad with feta cheese and cucumber and tomato and red onion, as well as an appetizer plate that featured a small tossed salad, a bowl of chick peas in gravy, 4 deep fried paneer rounds, 6 veggie pakora, 1 veggie samosa, and a large mashed potato patty with sliced green onions with a bit of tamarind dip, (and of course there was a Kokanee for my husband).  Right now my refrigerator is stuffed with the leftovers! We will be eating chick pea salad long after the other leftovers are gone...there was that much of it for less than $5!  Next time I am able to have some extra carbs and we want an inexpensive but very tasty meal, we are returning to this little restaurant!

And now, off to lift weights and exercise for AT LEAST an hour to wear off this amazing feast! 

Thank you Lord for all the blessings of the past week...amazing!  Feeling very undeserving, but ever so grateful that no one has to be particularly deserving to receive your amazing blessings. That's what your love for your creation is all about....giving us the good things none of us deserve.  All we have to do is agree to receive them. Thank you.......

A Great Night At The Globe

Last evening was the final Globe Theatre play some friends and I have tickets for this season.  The 5 of us are hoping to become a group of 6 in the autumn when we begin attending the next season of plays.  Soon we will have a dinner meeting to choose which ones we all want to see in the coming months.

Part of the treat of the play evenings is going out for dinner.  Last night we went to the newest Spices of Punjab location on Scarth Street.  I wasn't sure how it would go for me. Their original location over on Victoria Street is a day long buffet and I have not fared well after eating there the last 3 times I tried their food.  Whether the food had been sitting overly long under the heat lamps, or my system is just super sensitive to one of the herbs/spices in their dishes, I don't know, but I was kind of worried about my last night's meal.

Well, glory be!  This new location only has buffet occasionally.  The rest of the time, such as last evening, the dishes are ordered off the menu, so they are fresh and hot and delicious.  My bowl of chicken zal frazi was absolutely delicious!  I had some fresh naan to scoop up the onion and pepper sauce.  By drinking only water I still kept the price of my meal to exactly $20, including taxes and a healthy tip.  I will definitely try this second location again.  I had no bad tummy reactions afterward, just nice warm glowing feelings of well being.  This location also features pasta dishes and pizza, which made one member of our group extremely happy. She is not one for ethnic foods and was delighted by her non-spicy, but extremely delicious freshly made tomato sauce over penne.

After dinner we walked over to the theatre and enjoyed a wonderful performance of old jazz and blues.  The performance is titled "Key Change" and features 80 minutes of popular old songs by 7 black female performers, tracing the history of the genres as changed by their various styles: Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, Lena Horne and Etta James.

The lead vocalist from Toronto, Nicky Lawrence, came up with the idea and has performed it all over Canada along with her very able back up singers, Eric Da Costa and Aisha Jarvis.  Along with the songs, a brief history of each singer's contributions to the blues and jazz of their era was explained.  The young Ms. Lawrence has a terrific voice and carried the weight of those blue blues songs well. I will be interested to hear her sing in another ten years when her voice matures even more and there is a depth brought about by not only that extra maturity, but by more of life's unavoidable pain. My only complaint, as usual, was that the wonderfully skilled live jazz band that accompanied the performance overpowered the singer's voices just a bit.

What a great evening was had by us all.  

Icing on the cake: a friend from church was there to visit with in the foyer afterward, along with 2 members of the choir I am in. At last I am starting to run into people at public events that I actually know!  Guess I am finally an official resident of this city, haha.

A New Work Of Art!

Along with this afternoon's sunshine on a chilly day, another blessing arrived after lunch from FedEx!!  

My son has been promising to send us a painting, been promising for months actually, but he is definitely an absent minded creative soul who doesn't remember details very well.  This week he finally got his act together, wrapped up the painting within an inch of its life in bubble wrap, cardboard and tape and sent it along to us.

It is so beautiful.  There are little geometrically perfect squares and rectangles of various, mostly darker colours all over the canvas.  I can't wait to hang it up, but I have to wait until my husband is free this evening to assist.  At the moment I have only gotten as far as taking all the other paintings and photographs off the living room and dining room walls and plotting a better way to arrange them in order to incorporate the new work into the mix.  

What fun~I am delighted and so is his dad.


Thank you son!  We are really enjoying being able to track your artistic growth through the years through the series of art works we have received from you.  It is so amazing to us to see the difference between your earlier works and the present....just think how impressed we would be if we actually understood this kind of art! hahahahaha 

Today "happiness" is spelled: A-R-T!!

Prayers for Family

I am going to blog several short posts today about a few different things, but this one is the most important one.

Our family member who is undergoing cancer treatment had a long meeting with the oncologist this week and found out that although the scheduled 4 chemo treatments followed by a week of radiation should be sufficient, this form of cancer is aggressive enough that the oncologist wants to try 6 treatments instead, followed by the radiation.

It is kind of a good news/bad news situation in that while the side effects of the chemo thus far have been manageable, and 2 more treatments would only mean an extra couple of more months until the treatments end, very few people being given this particular cocktail of drugs are physically able to handle doing more than the initial 4 treatments.  Sigh....although our family member has done incredibly well through the first 2 treatments, psychologically it is very discouraging to hear such a thing.  

So many questions: although the appetite has remained strong through treatment #2, what is going to happen by the time 6 treatments have taken place?  What happens if the side effects become too much to cope with after treatment 4?  How does the patient cope with the psychological limbo of never knowing when or if worse side effects will happen after treatment #4?   

This type of cancer cannot be detected through blood work.  It can not be seen on a CT scan until larger tumours appear, or, as in the case of our family member, a biopsy is done "just in case".  So, what is that going to do to our family member over the coming years? How often are  there going to have to be CT scans?  How often will hours and days be spent worrying about that phone call from the doctor's office about the test results?  

You don't realize if you haven't had exposure to cancer either personally or through others who have experienced the disease how the concern of a recurrence never goes away.  Our family member was only diagnosed so early this time around because of the diligence of seizing on the teensiest of symptoms that could have meant absolutely nothing, normally never would mean anything, but our family member had "this feeling" and didn't quit seeking the reason for the symptoms until the answer was found.  

My husband and I are at the age where we also cannot afford to ignore any changes in our bodies that we don't understand or don't recognize as normal or usual.  However, in this day and age, with the onset of so many diseases in more youthful folk than ever before, no one of any age can afford to ignore unexpected bodily changes.  

I am learning a good lesson from family and friends who are having treatments for a wide range of life threatening diseases at the moment.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Okay Auntie...ONE Goose Story, Just For You.

Yesterday I went out into our big snowfall and shovelled a narrow pathway across the lawn from the bottom of the back deck to the car.  It is so narrow it is barely the width of  my small shovel, but by stepping carefully my husband and I are able to access the vehicle without stepping in the snow.

About ten minutes after I came back inside I heard geese honking from that direction.  I looked out the window and there was our blessed pair from last season, stepping carefully along that narrow pathway, one behind the other, ripping out the munchable, newly green grass I had exposed and leaving a trail of goose poop along the entire length of the shovelled strip. hahahaha  I inadvertently shovelled out a goosey cafeteria!  hahaha

O well.......

Me Too!!

"He didn't really like travel, of course. He liked the idea of travel, and the memory of travel, but not travel itself,"
--Julian Barnes, "Flaubert's Parrot"

Monday, April 24, 2017

Google....Y're Killin' Me Here Guys!!

Yes dear Google techs, I AM dying.....from laughter over your weeks' long buildup about the new and improved, faster sign in to my accounts with you.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!  

The new sign in screen appeared on my computer this morning and guess what: the only things new about it are the graphics and the fonts!  It is still a 2 step, 2 screen event.  Not one single thing has changed about the actual sign in process; NOT ONE SINGLE THING!

Again I say:  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! 

Y're crackin' me up here guys....seriously!  Have any of you ever considered stand up comedy as a way to make a living??  If not, you should because ya'll are HILARIOUS!!!

A Treacherous Spring Day!!

It is 7am and I just woke up to have a look out the window at whatever weather conditions transpired overnight.  Yeah....might as well crawl back into bed!  We have at least 10 cm of snow and the streets are thick with frozen slush.  Traffic is crawling past our place at the pace of snails, so the ice must be wicked to drive on.  Perhaps my husband can do some more of his project research from home today and head to the library tomorrow instead.  He DEFINITELY cannot ride his bike to the university today, parking for our vehicle at that library is incredibly difficult and he will have to park so far away from the building he would be just as well off to don his YakTrax, take along his ice climbing axe and make the whole trip on foot from home.  I wonder if Regina has an alpine search and rescue team? hahahaha  Yup, it is that bad out there for ice.

I have two aching shoulders today.  It is from directing the choir yesterday.  It has been SO long since I have used those muscles consistently for nearly 2 hours that I am actually feeling sore today.  O yay, another joy....the joy of aging! hahahahaha  

Hearing the choir from the vantage point of our director I am very encouraged by how we sound.  Although we have complained a bit this year about a couple of the songs we were given to learn, it was encouraging to hear how we are really doing with those particular ones and I am guessing they will actually be the audience favourites.  Although I am ready for our break over the summer,  I wonder all ready what songs we will get when we reconvene in September!!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Back Out Of Storage....Brrrrrr!!

I am currently wrapped up in my Mark's Comfy Robe once again.  I decided it was easier to lug the standing stool down to the basement and reach up onto the top storage shelves to haul down the bin my MCR was in, pull it out, clean it up and start wearing it again for a few evenings this week, than to continue to freeze in the chilly evening hours.  We have made a temporary return to winter!  Edmonton and south central Alberta have borne the brunt of the snow and ice the past couple of weeks, but now we are getting our turn here in southern Saskatchewan.

At the moment everything outside is covered with 5cm of snow and underneath that is the frozen rain and slush that will make tomorrow an extremely treacherous day to be out and about.  My husband and I couldn't be much more grateful that we ourselves do not have to leave the suite at all tomorrow barring some kind of emergency currently unforeseen!  YAY!  
 
How do you spell "gratitude"? 

It is spelled S-T-A-Y-I-N-G-W-A-R-M-A-N-D-S-A-F-E-I-N-D-O-O-R-S!!

Had a wonderful conversation this evening with my son on the phone.  We are giving each other some mutually encouraging spiritual and life pointers to get us both through some tiring and confusing days.  We have so few opportunities to talk about things like that together.  We each found the other's thoughts and ideas helpful.  It was a very special chat.

My husband is disappointed he will not be able to ride his bike to the university tomorrow, but I think he will survive it. hahaha  By the time he wakes up (not necessarily in the early morning hours) the snow and ice may be melting away! teehee 
Sweet dreams, exhausted man!

Joy!

That was the sermon topic this morning at First Free Methodist Church in Moose Jaw.  My friend was both presiding and preaching today and I am so glad I braved the cold windy gales and drove out there for the service.  Both the joyous singing and the sermon all about why we as Christians have joy were exactly what I needed today.  Thank you Lord for impressing upon me so forcefully this morning that I should drive to Moose Jaw for church.  The congregation members were so very welcoming this morning I am actually thinking of writing a note to send to the church to thank them and encourage them in their ministry of hospitality to newcomers.  By the time I was back out in the narthex after the service I had met and exchanged names and life stories with at least a dozen people and secured two invitations out for lunch.  Unfortunately time constraints left me unable to accept anything other than a brief lunch visit with my pastor friend before I had to race back home for choir practise.  I needed that friendliness today as much as I needed the service based on the concept of Christian joy to help heal my broken heart about having to make the decision I blogged about last post.  I was able to shed a few tears without anyone noticing, pull myself back together and thoroughly enjoy the rest of the morning.

Choir for me was a total hoot this afternoon. I was asked to direct today in the absence of our wonderful director.  I lucked out in that the choir had a concert all ready this past week so all the nuances of their music were secured fairly firmly in their minds and we glided through the songs without having to repeat or fix much.  Whew!!  haha  It is incredibly difficult to step in and direct someone else's choir for a week at the best of times, but with it being SO many years since I led any choirs of my own I felt pretty inadequate. Fortunately this group was forgiving and the attitudes were so helpful to me.  Bless you choir members.  My goodness...I knew I was going to be rusty, but I was even worse than I thought. So happy these dear ones were patient and worked so hard to do things properly no matter what I was doing up there while flailing my arms about. hahaha

My husband has been working over in the office since early this morning, putting in a 9 hour day so that he feels at least somewhat caught up on things needing to be done before his study leave starts in the morning.  I don't mind him doing that because it will give him the peace of mind he needs to concentrate on his studies and on the serious resting that will go on in between study sessions.

It is terribly cold again today.  We are to get rain this evening, turning to snow overnight and landing at least 5cm by morning.  Since the morning temperature will be below zero it is going to be an ice festival all over the streets and sidewalks.  I am SO grateful neither of us here will have to be out skating about the city before it melts in the afternoon...at least I hope it melts in the afternoon!! 

Another good day is drawing to a close.  My son emailed to tell me he is going to call me tonight to discuss some spiritual matters.  I do hope he is able to call.  He discusses most of his theological ideas with his father, but right now he and I are on the same wavelength about a few things and are prepared to exchange some ideas.  Should be fun.  He also told me that the painting he promised to send me is in the mail and should be here this coming week. I am so excited I am ready to split the seams in my jacket as I am bursting with pride in his artistic abilities.  If I can figure out again how to post the photos in my computer files I will post one of his art after it arrives.  If you don't see one by the end of this week you will know that the Tech Dummy here was unable to figure it out and her husband had no time to assist her. teehee

Blessings everyone on your upcoming week!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Time To Cut the Ties That Bind

Do you ever find yourself involved in some kind of group or activity or social scene that you know you have to let go of because it isn't fulfilling, or isn't good for you, or that you are hanging onto in desperation because you can't see anything else to do with your time?  

Have you reached the point where it is clear you have to let go of that particular activity, group or scene even though you don't know what you will replace it with?

While it can be scary to let go of things or people you have spent a fair amount of time with and invested time and effort into, I have learned over the years that once you have cut yourself free, it isn't usually long before a more fulfilling, safer, more exciting activity or group appears.  Sometimes there is a bit of lag time, but because you are free of something you have been hanging onto for the wrong reasons, you are then more open and able to see the newer, better opportunities as they come along.

I have learned over the years that clinging onto something or someone because you can't imagine a replacement that is any better is a good way to hamper yourself from growing, from being fulfilled, from being less stressed all the time, from being where God wants you to be for his own reasons.

Tonight I had an answer to a prayer of my own about what to do about a  situation I have been involved in for the past couple of years.  I knew the answer would definitely arrive this evening and it did, but it certainly was not the answer I was expecting.  Once I got over the shock and started to think about it, I realized I have been set free.  When you have committed the answer to a prayer to the Lord, knowing how trustworthy his answers are, then even if the answer is not what you were hoping for or expecting, there will be a good reason for it and you can get over the surprise fairly quickly and get on the path toward finding a better direction for your energies.  The answer for me was not manufactured by myself to achieve a certain outcome....the situation that provided the answer was completely out of my hands, a decision that was made by other people and I believe that God in his wisdom gave them the discernment they needed to give me the answer I received.

It was interesting to me how, after clinging on and clinging on in desperation and hoping for a good outcome I likely would never get, the Lord gave such immediate grace to allow me to let go so thoroughly and quickly...to the point where I have all ready figured out a new pursuit to try. It may not turn out to be the right thing either, but I am excited to see what happens in the coming weeks. 

Instead of feeling anxious and stressed over the old situation like I have been for quite some time, I feel as light as a feather.  Moving on can be a good thing...a right thing...even if there is nothing obviously wrong or bad about a current situation, but you know in your heart it is not really the place for you to be.

So Lord, what next?  Some excellent and uplifting possibilities exist.

Now THIS Is What I Call A Perfect Spring Day!

It is 1:30pm.  I left the house at 10:50am and am just home.  I walked uptown to Cornwall Centre to pay some bills, stopped at Zam Zam Wraps for my tasty chicken shawarma salad, (nope, it is not my hopeful imagination that made me think that meal is just as tasty or more so sans the feta cheese and tzatziki sauce, it really is great "naked"), did some window shopping and wandered back home.  In all the time I have been gone I only sat down for the 20 minutes required to enjoy my lunch.  YAY!!!!  I feel like I have my life back after a long winter of being forced by ice and freezing winds to either drive everywhere or just stay home.

The temperature is perfect at about +13C at the moment, there is barely a breeze, the sun is shining but not overly warm and the streets are bare of snow, ice and even some of the dust and mud has been cleared away from in front of the retail stores and apartment buildings.  

While I was in the Bay at Cornwall Centre I noticed the most beautiful mint green mens' knit summer shirt.  Oooh, my dad loves that colour and it suits him.  I could hardly believe there was one in a size small slim fit!!  PERFECT FOR MY DAD!  That size is a rare find and the price was so good I just couldn't pass it up....did I write "window shopping" a paragraph or two above?  Well, this one shirt I purchased was not for me so that still counts as window shopping, right?  haha  I decided dad deserves a reward for kicking the morphine addiction, so I stopped at the post office on the way home and got it envelope'd and sent to him.  He is going to love it and it is actually going to fit him properly! Happy return to Planet Earth Dad!  Congratulations!!

My husband's plan for today was to spend an hour or two in the office, then come home and do some paperwork at the dining room table for the afternoon and evening.  So far, it is afternoon and there is no sign of him. I suspect I will not see him back here until dinner tonight.  No surprise, haha.  There are always people lurking around waiting to see him about all manner of unexpected issues if the Bishop himself is unavailable.  I know HE is working from home today to get some peace and quiet and uninterrupted time so my husband will be fielding a lot of extras today.  Next week on his study leave I am going to insist he leave his work phone at the office so he isn't pestered.  I can't get over the way some people though feel quite free to call him at home if they can't reach him at work...any time of the week, day, night.....it doesn't seem to occur to some folk that if he isn't available on his work phone and doesn't return work related text messages and emails right away that he is not actually working at that time.  Interesting...I can't even imagine how often the Bishop has to deal with that sort of thing and I know that, like my husband, he is a softy toffee who answers too many requests on his few days off.  These guys....you can't take the pastor's heart out of either of them no matter how exhausted they may be.


Teehee, I just talked to my husband on the phone and I am so right that it will be at least dinner time before he makes it home tonight. hahaha  Ooooh, do I know how things go in that office or what?  Teehee.....

I talked to Mom and Dad last night. They are doing so much better at the moment. Both of them sound cheerier. They have been getting out together to grocery shop, they went to the nearby Casino on the bus with other people from their facility the other day to enjoy the huge buffet there...Dad had 4 desserts and Mom said she lost count of how many she ate. hahahahaha  They even went for a walk outside the other day. Dad made it a full block and back!  That would have been unheard of since over a year ago now.  His goal is to make it the 2 or 3 blocks over to the neighbourhood college cafeteria sometime in the next few weeks so he and Mom can enjoy a sit-down lunch over there, then mosey on home again.  It is a great goal to have. The first foray over there will completely exhaust him so he promised me that whenever he tries it, he will take his taxi pass along in case he can't make it home again.  Apparently there is a new parttime chef working in their own facility's kitchen and the meals are starting to improve considerably.  They had a fantastic meatloaf last Saturday...not normally a favourite of Dad's...they had a delicious rolled pork chop another day and on Easter Sunday they ate properly prepared fresh baked ham.  I am delighted for them.

Well, I have had a good rest now, so it is time to think about how I want to prepare the chicken breasts I purchased at Shoppers DrugMart on the way home from uptown. What a bargain!  Yesterday I refused to buy 2 chicken breasts at the grocery store because the price was about $30 a kilo I refused to pay over $15 for 2 small chicken breasts. Shoppers was selling their chicken off at a huge discount. So, I came home today with 4 chicken breasts for a total cost of $9.99!  I get a lot of good meat deals at Shoppers.  It is worth the trip to get the meat and provides a short round trip walk of only 10 blocks.

It is a good day today...productive and healthy...and mostly out of doors!!
 

Thanks Again PC Points

With seven more days until pay day rolls around again I was not impressed yesterday to find out how many grocery items we would need over the coming week. PC points to the rescue! I was able to get my nearly sixty dollars worth of groceries and pay only eight dollars in cash! My accumulated points covered the rest and I still have enough points left to get another thirty dollars worth of groceries next  shopping trip!
Yay!

Only Child Syndrome

I have been chatting lately with a number of people who, like myself, are "only children".  It is interesting what sorts of things we share in our life experience.

The feeling of total responsibility for aging parents is something that weighs heavily on us all.  When there are issues with the parental unit there is no one else to share the burden.  Some of the people I have been talking to have similar "distance between them and me" hassles to solve and some of them live very close to their parents and find their lives are being overrun with demands they feel they are never quite successful in meeting.  For some there is no problem between them and their parents, but they still feel a large burden just because they are on their own to deal with the inevitable needs of older folk.

Another thing we all seem to share is a feeling of always being on the outside of a group of friends or colleagues or social group.  The similarities we share there are kind of eerie because every one of us is fighting with those feelings so much of the time.  I feel it at choir rehearsal and for really no reason, I just do.  People are nice to me there. They don't ignore me. They are kind to me.  I have a couple of people there I feel a bond with and that I see away from rehearsals.  And yet.....there is always that feeling of not quite connecting the way others in the group seem to connect with each other.  It is the same at church.  It was always that way in my various jobs with co-workers.  Not fitting in, not making friends, not relating in conversation with others in a group have not been problems at all, BUT it always FEELS like they are to one degree or another.  

Another common theme has been the fear of loneliness as we age.  Most of us have spouses, but not all of us do.  If those spouses die before we do, then what happens?  If we have not had a partner in our lives and we are facing old age without even the "security" of having senior parents to care for, then what?  There is no one with a shared family history to turn to when the day comes we ourselves are aging and facing the loss of various abilities.

On the one hand it is kind of a relief to know these feelings are common among the other "only children" I have been talking to; on the other hand I am sorry there are so many other people who feel that way! No doubt there are people with siblings who also feel this way for other reasons, but they seem like universal experiences for "onlys".

I wonder if there are any support groups for "onlys".  Perhaps that will be something to explore after the summer.  Maybe I need to start something like that if there isn't one all ready here in the city.......hmmmmm.....a thought to consider......

The positive feelings all of us share have to do with our relationships with Jesus.  Knowing him takes the sting out of the times of feeling alone, because we realize we truly are not alone....not really.  No matter how old or how alone we are in terms of earthly family, we are still part of God's family.  He is there for us to talk to, to lean on and to trust to take care of the big picture of our lives.  Sometimes the relief of his presence sneaks up on us because we haven't been spending sufficient time considering his constancy in our lives.  How quickly we forget...sometimes when I am in a group and feeling I am not really a part of it, the reality of Jesus' presence..... when it hits me...... as it usually does...... eventually..... duh......the feeling of relief I have is so intense I nearly break out in giggles.  Remembering such a small and real fact of my life saves me from feeling abandoned, or not cared for, or that I have been left alone in a big world.  Father God....it feels good to know he is there always!

I know I blogged about this topic awhile ago all ready, but it was interesting to me to discover how many other "onlys" struggle with similar feelings...there are a lot of us out there apparently.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Oh There's Sunshine, Blessed Sunshine.......

O happy day!  The day started off as a foggy, soggy mess, but morphed into a lovely, late afternoon and early evening.  This afternoon I had to wear a somewhat heavy jacket to walk over to the grocery store, but at the moment it is sunny and warm.  Aaaaah....a taste of spring at least!  

I had a bit of a rest this morning, catchup time at last, but then this afternoon I was happy to take my short walk and then spend a half hour lifting weights and jogging on the spot.  I find now that if I miss an exercise time I am starting to crave the activity again...at last!  It seems I have finally gotten over the physical inactivity and mental sluggishness after the broken hip all those months ago.  It feels good.  Sunday night I was up lifting weights and jogging at 10pm after spending almost the entire day sitting...sitting in the car to travel, sitting through church, sitting through lunch, sitting through dinner and an evening's visiting....I felt like a lump until I got on my feet and got moving at last.

I am so very proud of another diabetic friend here in town.  She was further along the diabetic scale than I ever was, but has taken up marathon running along with monitoring her diet more closely.  Like me, she has dropped her blood sugar down and out of the Type 2 diabetes zone.  Yay her!!!  SO PROUD OF HER! I still find it nearly unbelievable how much effect exercise or lack thereof has on blood sugar levels.  I am still so grateful mine was discovered at a point where I was able to regain at least some measure of control for awhile on what is going on with my blood sugar.  

NOW to lower the cholesterol...since I quit eating oats a few months ago, but didn't change my fats intake accordingly I am sure paying the price, but hopefully I am being successful at lowering it again.  There are so many wonderful foods to eat that are low in fat.  At this point I vastly prefer eating cooked veggies with no butter or margarine on them and a hamburger with extra mustard on the bun instead of butter is just as tasty.  I can hardly tolerate salad dressings at this point and prefer just a sploosh of lavender vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon on them.  Butter and dressings mask the true flavours of the food and I hadn't realized just how much!

Well, speaking of exercise etc., it is time for my evening session. My husband has to go back to work in a few minutes to help out some renovation volunteers, so I will be able to work out even more than usual.  I don't like to spend as much time after dinner most evenings, exercising as I would like to because when he is home it is our short chance to visit about the day. 

Okay....off and running!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Just That Kind O' Day! Bleeeech!!

This is the perfect sort of day for those of you given a bent toward doom and gloom: raining, grey skies, heavy atmosphere, black clouds, brown lawns, bare tree branches swaying gently in a light and bitter breeze and a rather chilly air temperature.

Today reminds me of what my son has been experiencing all winter in Vancouver...wet, blah, overcast, blah, cold, blah......blah, blah and more blah!

It is the perfect sort of day for working on the most dreaded of household chores or going in for medical tests at the hospital that end up taking longer and being more painful and energy draining than expected. It is the perfect day for spotting that last wrinkle in a pair of pants as you are hanging them in the closet that you were certain you had managed to completely press out before putting the iron and board away again.  It is the perfect day to feel lonely and abandoned and frightened about those hospital test results that won't arrive for at least a month or more.  

It is just the sort of day when looking at the longer term forecast and seeing snow predicted for the beginning of next week is no surprise, just brings on a feeling of weary resignation that of course the REAL spring weather is going to be delayed yet again.

Yup, a typical early spring day on the prairies....just a super duper joy fest!


HAHAHAHA....GOTCHA!  


I COULD feel super duper gloomy and doomy, but I don't.  I hope you don't either.  Spring really is on the way and whatever boring or scary activities YOU have had to face today, I hope and pray you can get a handle on the joy of living, no matter how remote it seems at this moment for you, in the midst of the early spring grey, in the midst of medical procedures, in the midst of the worst household tasks you can't let wait any longer.

As my dear mother used to quote when I was a kid:
"Spring is sprung, the grass is riz.
I wonder where the birdies is!"

I know where our birdies is: totally frightened off by the family of crows building a nest in the eaves outside my bedroom window!  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Is 2016 FINALLY Over?? Here's Hoping......

Yup...we finally completed our income tax returns today!  What a great feeling to get it all done at last.

The best part is that just as my husband was doing final calculations for his clergy housing allowance, I checked the mail box for today's delivery and here in the box was a letter from the federal government letting him know there was a change (for the worse OF COURSE, haha) in the allowable amount.  He had to change some figures and retotal some columns, but how cool that the letter arrived the very day he was doing his tax forms and cussing himself for having waited this long to get started!  Great timing Lord, great timing as always!


My tax forms are mostly one column of big fat zeros after another, but I did have a few dollars earned for musical accompanyment at a funeral, so it felt kinda' good to have something at all to declare, haha.  

Next year is going to be a whole new nightmare of tax changes for us since we both started collecting government pensions this month.  Aiii yiii....first you get old, then you find out the money you paid into pension plans all your life is not going to be sufficient to keep a roof over your head after retirement and then you have to learn a whole lot of new government tax form calculations despite your advancing old age. What is wrong with this picture, right??


So, I need to prepare myself better for next tax year's new mental gymnastics.  Perhaps a math course for seniors would be in order!  Not sure I am up to it....just counting socks after yesterday's laundry was taxing enough to be quite honest!!  Grocery shopping this morning was plenty taxing trying to add prices in my head before going to the cashier!!  Updating my bank book without a calculator after that shopping trip took far longer and involved more brain power than it ever has before!

New tax forms next year....sheesh.......  Well, to stay on the positive side of things, it would appear we are now done with 2016 and starting to catch up on this new year...and only 4 months late!

Relatives update:  
- No news from the son in regard to his plans for the move south...how much does a new lady in his life have to do with that I wonder???

- Our relative with cancer got very brave this week and shaved all the hair off rather than have it coming out in dribs and drabs all over the place.  We can't wait to see the new wig and other beautiful headwear we have been told about.  Some good days and some bad days, how a person feels seems to change every couple of hours when having chemotherapy, but one treatment down and 3 to go before the radiation. 

- Mom and Dad are doing much better than they have in the past year or more. Dad's energy levels have surged ahead and his muscle strength is returning slowly but surely.  He is walking the halls every day and is hoping the weather warms up enough to get outside soon.  

- My husband is still quite tired, probably due to having to spend a great deal of the day doing the taxes, but has decided to go to work tomorrow after all, since he is taking his first study leave this year next week....yeah, kind of short notice, but that is what you have to do around here as long term plans rarely work out and this small window of opportunity arose, so.........at least he can do his work locally and use the U of R library rather than travelling to Ambrose University library in Calgary like he usually does.

- As for me, I am rejoicing that it is more than 18 months since I have fallen, or otherwise broken any bones...long may that last!  I am rejoicing that I have been so energized by our busy weekend of Easter socializing and have been racing madly about doing housework, shopping etc. each day.  Hopefully the energy will carry me through all the ironing I have to do tomorrow, haha.

 

Monday, April 17, 2017

No Wonder I Don't Get Things Done Around Here When I Say I Am Going To!

After my husband's friend left earlier today, I thought I better get a big move on and get the laundry finished up in decent time.  Yeah.....not so much!

I only had the next load started when the phone rang and it was a friend who was on her way into the city to do some shopping. Would I like to come along with her?  Well...shucks...YES!!!  OF COURSE I WOULD!!!  30 minutes later I abandoned my laundry project and also my husband to his do nothing day and my friend and I took a wonderfully fun tour of the city, singing our heads off in her brand new car, stopping at all manner of wierd and wonderful establishments in her quest for all things DINOSAUR for a party she is throwing later this week.  See why I love going shopping with this particular friend?  We are never searching for anything plebian such as clothes or groceries or other "normal" stuff.  O no, not ever.  We are looking for dinosaurs in this case and on previous trips we have been searching for rubber duckies, plastic sheep, pirate treasure, lady bugs....just think of some kind of theme party, any theme at all, and my friend and I have likely also looked for the appropriate party items and can tell you exactly where to find them!

At one point we were in a mall, passing a Dairy Queen outlet.  My friend jerked to a stop and enquired if I had eaten lunch yet.  I had of course, but a lady behind us stopped as well and said, "Do I hear Blizzard?? I am sure I hear Blizzard!"  hahaha  We both felt kind of badly that we weren't actually stopping at DQ because we could have asked her to join us, but at that point we were on our way out of the mall so my friend could head for home.  Shoot....a possible missed opportunity for a new contact, a new friend....or at least a chance to have a fun conversation with a complete stranger for half an hour, hahaha.

So now it is nearly time to eat dinner and I am not going to have to be too creative as we still have some leftover okra mixture and pasta in bechamel sauce, as well as a spicy chicken breast to finish up from our Friday evening leftovers.  We completely finished the rest of the lentil soup at lunch time.  Wow....everyone should have Egyptian friends with a nana who can cook such amazing meals to share!!  hahaha

Then I probably SHOULD go to choir sectional rehearsal....SHOULD go....hmmmmm.......the jury is still out on that and I have 2 more hours to make a decision about what to do.  Lord.....do I need to ask for more clarity or should I just stop flipping back and forth and just go to the darned rehearsal?  Maybe my husband would enjoy some more time to himself at home to watch his CD university courses on various religions, or some time to fiddle around on his computer project.  When I got home a little while ago I asked him what he had done while I was out and his response was a happy, relieved, "Nothing!" hahaha He could use another day of this uselessness but unfortunately we have to run some errands early tomorrow morning and then come home and spend the rest of the day completing our income tax.  We are SO slow and so late getting to them this year....bad, bad us!!

Well, at least I got the next load of laundry in the washer as soon as I got home...only 2 more loads to wash and 3 to dry!

A Nice Sunny Day Buuuuuttt.....

...for me the happiness of a more spring-like day is being somewhat marred by news of another friend battling cancer.  Sigh.......that wretched disease.......Lord, please help my friend.  Thank you.......

My husband is counselling a colleague downstairs in our living room while I am attempting to do 8 loads of laundry in the basement, while hiding out in my own space upstairs with my computer and ironing board, between loads.  It is only partially successful.  At a couple of points I have had to go from up to down and back carting loads of laundry and the fellows have had to stop their chatter long enough for me to pass through without hearing the confidential things they are sharing.  hahahaha  This is not how this day was planned out for either of us, that is for sure, hahaha.  Ministry....it never ends, does it?  Not even on so-called days off. hahaha  Also along that line, since my husband has a study week set up now for next week and will not be in the office at all, he is giving up his Wednesday off this week to go in and spend as much time with the office manager getting everything up to date before she leaves on her month of holidays in May.  hahaha  Stop the world....I want to get off!!!! hahaha  

Tonight I am supposed to be going to a womens' sectional practise for choir.  Hoping my night vision is up for the drive home in the dark.  I was going to skip it as my husband will be home with me tonight, but apparently the suggestion that I take over leading an originally unscheduled rehearsal this coming Sunday afternoon has become more than a suggestion and I don't feel I can miss tonight's rehearsal and have any clue what I should do next Sunday with these songs.  I don't really have to DO anything next Sunday except stand in front of the choir waving my arms so everyone has a focal point, since our real director has to be absent, but I do want to be able to lead in the sections who have trouble still with their entries in some of the more syncopated arrangements.  Guess I will be studying all the songs a bit more closely this week.  I am so rusty with directing as it is and the idea of taking over someone else's choir for a rehearsal is a bit daunting, despite low expectations of what I should do.  haha

The murmur of voices is dying out downstairs in the dining room.  Perhaps my husband's friend is leaving now?  Perhaps it is safe to venture back to the basement and rescue my non-dryer items from the washing machine so I can get them hung up on hangers before they are too wrinkled....perhaps.....  Think I will risk it.......

Sunday, April 16, 2017

What a Wonderful Time of Easter For Us!

The past 2 days have flown past in a happy blur of fun, fellowship, food and friends!  Starting on Good Friday evening, every day has morphed into some kind of party and we are exhausted but o so happy!

Saturday my husband worked hard on his sermon prep for this morning's service.  I did a few errands in the morning, then ended up with an unexpected lunch invite from my dear friend who was in town for the day.  We ate and laughed and visited.  I so enjoyed it...why does an all ready tasty salad taste ever so much better when there is a close friend sitting right across the table sharing in the fun of a restaurant meal?

I came home for a bit of a rest before prepping a large salad to take to other friends' for dinner. They live near Craven and it was a nice afternoon for a drive...windy, but sunny and not too chilly.  They have a new baby, child number three.  She is adorable.  Welcome to the world little Esmae of the perfect skin and perfectly shaped head covered in white blonde hair!  Her older brother and sister adore her.  We enjoyed good food in the form of freshly butchered spring lamb with lemon roasted potatoes, plus we had good fellowship together.  Before we left we met their new cat, had a gawk at their chickens and watched the pregnant ewes in their pen waiting impatiently for the birth of their lambs.  It was most relaxing.  We were home early and got to bed early as well to be ready for today's drive.

We woke up this morning at 6am to freezing temperatures and a skiff of snow on the ground.  There was a bit of ice on the highway on the east side of Regina but it didn't last more than a kilometre or two.  In our 180 minute drive to Esterhazy we drove through every imaginable type of spring weather: sunny with dry roads, sleet with wet roads, snow showers, high winds, ice, fog, full scale blizzarding....the constant changes in the weather kept us awake and engaged in what would otherwise have been the most monotonous trip in some time.  Other than the bit of scenic interest provided through the rolling hills of the little Qu'Appelle Valley, we had over 2 hours of brown mud, brown fields, brown everything under a grey, cloudy sky.  Blaaaaah!!!

Things livened up in Esterhazy.  The congregation there is vibrant, a lot of fun, completely engaged in the worship and the providers of some of the best after church snacks and lunches in the diocese!  We were completely delighted by the organist.  She is one of those rare people in whom there truly is no guile.  She is not in the least self-conscious and she is honest and she truly loves Jesus.  When she plays the organ she has only one tempo: break neck speed. BUT we have to say that our most unfavourite Easter morning hymn, "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord", was for once in our experience not sung like a funeral dirge!  She sang along with the congregation, not always at the same pitch, but with all her heart.  During the pre-service music she raced through more songs than I realized our hymn book contained, vocally accompanying herself for some of them and singing the lyrics in a mix of English, Spanish and Czech!!  I can't say I have ever listened to anything quite like it at any point in any church service, ever in my life....and I loved every second of it.  Her heart is so sold out to the Lord and she is so real and so lacking in ego and arrogance that we just loved every crazy thing she did sitting at the keyboard.  After church we had a lot of fun visiting with everyone over poppyseed loaf, candied fruit buns, cheese and assorted fresh fruit.

The weather had improved significantly for the drive home, other than the temperature. The closer we got to Regina, the colder it got!  When we stopped for gasoline at the station near our home, we felt like the wind was blowing ice right through us as we stood at the pump wishing the gasoline tank had been less empty so we could have gotten back into the vehicle sooner! BRRRRRR!!!!  

Back at home we both changed into warmer clothes before grabbing two plates of dessert from our kitchen counter and heading out once again to yet another Easter dinner and party.  Tonight we really, really, really enjoyed a ham dinner with scalloped potatoes, peas, carrots and a green salad.   The mixture of squares and cookies and baklava I took for dessert went over well.  This was a most hilarious bunch of people so the time passed awfully quickly and then it was time to come home and stay home! hahaha

We arrived home to a lovely phone message from our son.  We called him back for a short chat.  He was just on his way to visit some Jewish friends and they were having a Seder celebration....a few days late, but at least everyone they wanted to be with them could come this evening.  They are not actually observant Jews, but they do enjoy the Seder and whatever it means to them now in their own lives.  My son loves going to their remembrance celebration each year.

My husband's sermon was good this morning.  He really drove home the idea that the whole point of the resurrection of Jesus has a place and purpose in our lives right now, rather than just pointing to the hope of future resurrection for his disciples.  He asked how the resurrection should be transforming us into people who have the ability to draw on the vast power and resources of God to change the lives of our friends and families and to improve our communities as  a whole.  He titled it, "Holy Week Coffee Shop Chatter: So...how 'bout that Resurrection, eh?"  hahaha  He also asked what life would be like in a community where there was no one living who had access to that kind of power for transformation.  That certainly got a few folks' attention, haha.

My diet has been off for the past 3 days. My exercise has been nearly non-existent.  Now the holiday fun is over and it is time to get back on the programme and get/keep myself healthy!  This morning sitting in church I was feeling kind of hungry and realized my blood sugar had dropped to the point where my lips were getting numb.  I whipped 2 stoned wheat thin crackers out of my purse and chowed down in the middle of my husband's sermon, haha.  That fixed everything up just fine.  

So, back to real life tomorrow.  What a great weekend: the recognition of Jesus' death and the celebration of his resurrection, the resurrection of our social life in this city..........two things to celebrate this weekend, that is for sure.

Thank you Lord for Jesus and the suffering you endured because of your love for us, for friends, for food, for family, for fun....for life on this planet, the good times and the bad.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

"But God Doesn't Want Us To Suffer!" REALLY??? I Beg To Differ.

 I really appreciated the Anglican Community webpost by Martha Tatarnic on this ever growing issue within the Christian church.  She shines a good light on the subject and it is worth a read.  Click on or cut and paste the link below and look for her post entitled "Does God Require Suffering?"

http://thecommunity.anglican.ca/

(For whatever reason, my blog is not automatically converting links, so cutting and pasting into your browser has become standard operating procedure. Sorry about that.  I don't know why it changed all of a sudden a few months ago. I am too ignorant and my husband is too busy to figure out how to "fix"  it. Again I apologize for the extra step required now to view links on my postings.)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Slurp, Burp, Urp...the Next Installment

It is after 10pm and I am still feeling sated after our amazing feast at our friends' house.

We ate Egyptian style okra, chicken legs, potatoes stuffed with beef, lamb filled lasagna in white cream sauce, baked chicken slices, cilantro rice with tomatoes and green beans and the best lentil soup on the planet. We topped it all off with huge green olives and tiny pickled eggplants stuffed with garlic cloves. There was sage tea, hibiscus tea, Turkish coffee, diet grapefruit soda....we spent the better part of three hours eating and drinking.....wow.....laughing, talking, watching hilarious videos from Egypt and Saudi on Mohammed's phone, relaxing in the new gazebo as the wind billowed out the gazebo curtains and the heater kept us all toasty warm in there.

And to think we are going out again tomorrow evening and the evening after that....ooooh, my aching, overstuffed tummy!

Bonus: the Easter baskets were a huge hit, so that made me feel happy. Thank you Lord for helping me to decide what to put in the baskets.

Who Would Have Thought I Would Ever Appreciate Crows??

It would appear that, for now at least, the influx of crows into our neighbourhood has driven the geese all over to the lake without spending much time feeding on our greening grass, or setting up hidden nests on the property where we are living.  The crows are laying eggs and chasing away the squirrels who could upset their nests.  There are A LOT of crows...more than I have seen here before. As much as the constant cawing and squawking early in the morning is annoying, it is no more so than the geese honking at that same time of day, PLUS the crows do not cover our lawns with piles of poop.  Yay crows...keep up the great work!!

Perfectly Appropriate Good Friday Weather!

The soggy, grey, chilliness outside this morning is certainly appropriate for a grieving day like Good Friday...the day we remember Jesus' crucifixion.  There is not one thing about the weather outside that hints at the Sunday resurrection celebration to come.  Although we have not yet had the snow our neighbours to the west have had, it is still one miserable day out there.  It certainly focused my thoughts on Christ's sufferings the second I arose from my warm, comfy bed and looked out the window....brrrrr, blaaaah.....

I started this Holy Week up to my ears in Anglican symbolism...something I have never related to that well, but as I get older and more reflective it is starting to resonate more with my soul.  (Eeeep, did I just use the word "resonate"????  How very AD 2000 - 2015 of me!!!)

Anyway, last night the Maundy Thursday service was so well done at our church and I ended up participating more than planned.  Our priest gave a short and very meaningful homily that concentrated on the fact that the Jesus whose memory of that horrendous betrayal by his own disciple we recall each Easter, is the same Jesus who loves us no matter who we are or what we have done and wants to save us from our own human flaws and restore us to harmony with our creator.  It was a combined service with the other congregation who share this same priest and one person was chosen from each congregation to do participate in a symbolic foot washing.  I was chosen as the person from our church. not because I am particularly spiritual or deserving, but because I was wearing sandals that are super easy to slip off and back onto slightly damp feet. (Well, I gotta be honest, right?)  I haven't participated in a foot washing for several years and before we left for church last night, me not knowing I would be participating, I was grousing at my husband that I felt ripped off that the foot washing would not be offered to every person there, grouse, grouse grouse, complain, complain, complain, whine fuss, whine fuss, whine fuss.....

As usual the Lord quashed my disappointment and grousing! The second we walked into the church the priest approached me to be the one to do it.  Oooooh, I HATE when God calls me out on my own self-righteous complaints....HATE!  IT!  Sigh.....  Okay Lord, I got the hint. Stop complaining about things unless I am prepared to do something about them, OR to have YOU do something about them to shut me up with the ungodly grousing. Sigh...I never learn do I?  

The Eucharist was so simple and meaningful and it was particuarly poignant with our two congregations being together.  To see us acting in unison as the church of God in Christ instead of each being isolated to our own Sunday morning groups brought back wonderful memories to me of other combined church services I have enjoyed in years past.  To celebrate the central event of our Christian faith as one group made me think of what it was like when Jesus first began gathering followers who were not yet split into sects and denominations, but were such a small band that they simply followed the Master himself.

At the end of the service our little impromptu trio chanted the psalm. (Ps 22:1-17) I had only the mournful refrain to sing at the end of each of 8 verses: "My God....my God...why have you forsaken me?"  As we began the third verse, those seated in the congregation began to voluntarily strip the altar of all its elements to leave it bare in remembrance of Jesus having nothing left on this earth as he was given up to the Romans for trumped up charges and subsequent death.  His very disciples fled in fear of Roman persecution and deserted him.  As the people got the altar stripped down they slowly wended their way out of the sanctuary and out of the building. By the time we got to the last verse there were only two people left in the sanctuary to hear it. Standing there in almost darkness chanting and seeing the people walking out on us...well....it was a perfect way to enact the abandonment of Christ at the end of his earthly life.  It struck my heart in a new way.  Usually at Maundy Thursday services I am one of the ones wandering off in the dark after helping strip the altar.  This time it was me being left behind and that gave me a whole new way of thinking about Jesus being so alone for his death walk after having the apparently loyalty of his followers for those few years.

So, today there is a Walk of the Cross leaving from the church building where our sister congregation meets.  They will do a walk between 2 other churches and eventually end up at the Roman Catholic Cathedral.  In the pouring rain the long, long walk will be even more torturous for the participants.  The walk starts in 20 minutes and we should be there but my husband is so exhausted from work that he is still sleeping.  I am risking his upset for not waking him up to attend, but he won't be in any trouble with his job for missing it and I see how close to the edge of a CFS episode he is teetering.  This is the time of year, spring is the annual episode return, that I need to step in and shut down every little extra he is involved in with not only his job, but even some of his more mentally and physically strenuous hobbies, even some of our strictly social gatherings.  It makes me look like a mean, interfering b*%#h to people unaware of his little health issue, but it has to be done or he will be over the edge and missing far more than a Walk of the Cross very soon. That's life.........

We have to decide tomorrow morning if we are going to be here for the Easter Vigil tomorrow evening at the Cathedral.  It is a 3 hour service that starts at 9pm.  Since we have to be in Esterhazy Sunday morning and may be facing snow and icy highways as the aftermath of a lot of precipitation, dropping temperatures and below freezing in the overnight hours, we may have to get closer to that town by Saturday evening and take a room in the nearest motel to ensure we are there to do the Easter morning resurrection service.  No doubt the answer to the question will become clear over the next 24 hours.

So, another Holy Week is underway...how the time flies around here. I still remember last year's services, maybe because it was my husband officiating at all of them.  It is impossible to believe it was a full church year ago!  

Onward and upward to a hopefully relaxed day for both of us.  I am excited to be going to the BBQ tonight with our friends and taking them their Easter baskets.  Welcome to Canadian secular Easter traditions, hahaha.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What Some Families Have To Suffer......

I received a bit of a shock just now....long story short, I saw an obituary a few minutes ago in The Calgary Herald for the son of friends we used to be close to years ago but have fallen out of touch with. The fellow was only 35. Doing some other online searching I also discovered his only slightly older sister died unexpectedly less than three years ago. Their father also passed away in the interim between the deaths of his two children and so did all four of their grandparents. That leaves their mother, younger than ourselves by several years, all alone. Her siblings passed away years ago, also at relatively young ages. Sigh......I feel so very sad for her. I can't even imagine how she must be feeling today as she plans the funeral of her remaining child. Wow, I am going to be praying a lot over the coming days for her.

We received an invitation in the mail today to a 50th anniversary event for other old friends we haven't seen in awhile. It is happening during our summer holiday time so we may attend....or not. Their family is highly dysfunctional and we received the invite from one of their kids who has not communicated with us quite deliberately for nearly a decade. If we go will we end up refereeing their family members once again, or will we have to witness the various family members pretending they don't even know each other? It wouldn't be the first time. Sigh..... I am sure we will go to support these old friends, but it is so sad that such a joyous occasion could result in a ton of stress for everyone there. Sigh......

I almost feel guilty for the degree of functionality in my own family.  Yes, we have our issues, but we are managing them fairly well. Other families experience so much pain. Time to go pray for my hurting friends......