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Welcome to my blog! Of course if we were visiting in person, I'd have the teapot out and we could sit and chat.
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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Acknowledging the Broken

  So I woke up pondering this morning how my longing for perfection, for the idyllic robs me of joy...

  The morning read of the newspaper wasn't helpful...

  Controversy over the foods we eat... genetically modified seeds and all the ramifications...  another seething letter to the editor about the huge debt all levels of government are amassing... and I think of my darling grandchildren who will inherit this mess.

  And I thought about my own frustration of my own little kingdom... the beans have done poorly, and I wonder about the quality of the soil.  I really need some advice here.  And the tomatoes I thought would do so well in pots look rather sad, and I was shocked to spy some root rot, the bane of tomatoes... the roses have been beautiful but the battle with aphids rages on...

  It takes energy... to take care of my world, to constantly fix and repair and tend to.

  Last night, when the wasps visited our picnic with savage energy, determined to swarm on every morsel, I felt deflated.  The lovely picnic I had imagined, quietly taking in the lake, resting, enjoying the good food I had prepared, was rather spoiled by a battle with the wasps.

  Life can be weary.

  And all of the above seems petty, although it is very real, in the face of those in our family and friends circle who have received difficult news lately, and sometimes this breaks my heart.

  How does one live with brokenness if it is not acknowledged?

  And as a new day begins, I realize so much of it is a choice.  I think of those with incredible odds against them who get up, day after day after day, and face life with courage and determination.

  I also ponder this need for perfection... and the sense that I have held on the ideal that as a person with faith in God, I should be joyful always... and I realize I have had the gospel all wrong.  If Jesus is truly the Redeemer, He came to redeem the broken, the flawed.

  I've done some interesting reading as of late on theories why children of my generation have left the church in droves.  Part of the thinking is that we presented a gospel based on being good...and none of us can live up to that.  That the Christian life should be one without worry, and victorious, and without question.  The message being that if we fail to live up to that standard, there is failure.

 And perhaps because (and I'm speaking very generally here), our kids saw that we couldn't live up to the good, to the rules, to the perfection, it was a discouraging faith.  Not authentic.

  The wisdom of St. Ignatius comes to mind, where he encourages us to take it all to God... each day bring to Him the happenings, the feelings...the good and the bad.  Both are acknowledged. We offer it all to God, as a prayer if you will.  We come as imperfects, looking to be redeemed.  And it is a daily thing.

 We don't live in a world of happy. We are flawed, as is our world.  We live in a world that is fused with joy and sorrow, and the two interconnect at every level.

  And so, perhaps it is good to have an acceptance of both sides of the coin if you will... to acknowledge the frustration, but also see the beauty.  To know I have need of a Redeemer.  To accept the flaws, and yes, experience the joy.  It is all there.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Deadly Sins (Now, will anyone read this?) :-)

   An article posted on Face Book caught my eye the other day about ten foods you should never eat... the implication being they would lead to a certain demise.

  Aha, I thought, I've eaten so well lately, I'm sure I'll fare well.  Minutes later, with a sinking feeling as I read the article, I realized that I had sinned badly... and had digested most on the list... within the last week!!

  To top off my bad behaviour, I can no longer recall where I read the article, or what the ten foods were.  They say ignorance is bliss, but I'm feeling rather bad about it.  However I remember two of them... the top culprit was microwave popcorn.

  Now I can hear some of you saying, "What gives?", and the others "You should have known that, my dear... we have been eating popcorn sensibly for years!"  

  But the truth of the matter is that my husband loves microwave popcorn, loves making it for our spur of the moment movie nights, and out he will appear with two bowls of steamy, scented popcorn and in we will settle for a lovely hour or two...

  So I have gently suggested that we might try other alternatives, but I hate to ruin a good thing!

  The other sin, the one I remember anyway, was canned foods.  Who knew what might be lurking in the vast array of canned foods... the ones we are encouraged to give to the poor, to stock the Food Bank Shelves, to keep on hand for emergencies.  I do like to make food from scratch, and try to eat as healthy as possible.  So it really bothers me to imagine what might be leaching from the tin can I just purchased... tomatoes being the worst, apparently.  And I just bought four cans on a very good sale, just last week!

   Perhaps it is the matters of the heart that should concern me more than the matters of the stomach... and speaking of sins, I was reminded again of one I struggle with the most... that of worry.

  It is exceedingly difficult not to worry at times... and if you are anything like me you will relate to the fact that we want to protect, take care of, make everything right, stay very healthy, and hope everybody will be happy.  Which is impossible of course...And I find myself, often going down the path of worried thinking, instead of just breathing deeply and enjoying the moment I have.

  And when bad things have happened (and they do) it is easy for the mind to go down the path of waiting for the other shoe to drop... a tension filled way of living.  It reminds me of the old joke where the person finally saw the light at the end of a very dark tunnel... only to discover it was a train bearing down.

  So the challenge is... how does one shed the worry and live a life of joy? I find it helpful to read about others who have found this balance in their lives.  To focus on what is good and beautiful.  To laugh more.
And perhaps to even enjoy that popcorn with my hubby... although I admit I will look for a healthier version in the near future.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Scissors and Summer

I acquired my new pink scissors this spring, at a silent auction fund-raiser.  I always find garden tools inspiring... and today these scissors were put to work.

Scissors are not always friendly... they are sharp. and they cut away... today tackling dozens of heat-scorched roses past their prime, withering in the sun.

A garden is never stagnant.

It seems it would be nice if the pruning work I had done weeks ago would last... that the roses could have lingered in all their beauty.  But they wither and fade, and call me to cut away.  And the more I cut, it invites others to grow in their place.

And so I cut... and thought about life.

How it isn't stagnant, it doesn't sit still.  I linger with the memories, wanting to hang on to the beauty I experienced yesterday.  And yet today calls.

We celebrated a birthday yesterday... the birth of our eldest grandchild, young, full of promise, tender... but also growing... moving past his baby and toddler years and entering a new world of thought and wonder... the gift of the young fill us with hope.

  Today is a gift... a gift that won't last... but one I choose to enjoy.  So I cherish the birthday party memories, and take time to smell the roses.  I cut the few that have not been spoiled by the sun.  They are the gift of today, and with the gift of photography, can be preserved for tomorrow.

  And I also think about my own choices... what I cut from my own life... to create more beauty.  Sometimes it is to carve more time to think and to reflect.  What I carefully prune today also makes a difference in my tomorrows.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Abundance of Books

   I went downstairs the other day; the object was to clean out a number of closets and areas.  I'm trying to reorganize my house.  I did fairly well until I came to the books...

  We've been taking turns going through my dad's library.  Over half a century of collecting, a pastor's library filled with treasures.  He's picked out the ones he wants to keep, he too is downsizing drastically.  And I am making room for more... because when it comes to books, they are always welcome here.

  But in making room, I ran into a little trouble.  An empty box beside me, I started in on the first book case.  Now I have to admit, that when it comes to books, I am abundantly blessed.  There are bookshelves in the hallway, in the guest room, in my office.  There are books in our rec room, and scattered in our bedroom.  Books in the living room... they are welcome anywhere.

  I looked at the books on this particular book shelf... this one was written by my Uncle Abe... this one a special gift... the Heidi books I would surely read to my grandchildren... other books that reminded me of long satisfying reads... and on it went.  And when I was done with that bookshelf, I had only two offerings in my box.  Oh dear...

  I love a good novel.  One that challenges me, that touches my heart, and stretches me to think about good living.  I love Jan Karon's tales of Father Tim and all the wonderful characters at Mitford.  (Really, you should meet them, if you haven't read this series!) Angela Hunt weaves a good story, and I've read most of those John Grisham books.

  And then to be challenged in my spiritual life... authors in the last years that have especially blessed me are Phillip Yancey, Sheila Walsh, Henri Nouwen... and I have been stretched in my thinking by so many others... St. Teresa of Avila, Richard Rohr, Kathleen Norris, David Benner...

  On that shelf alone, in my basement, there were books by Michael Phillips, Francine Rivers, Catherine Marshall... and some of my childhood favourites... Anne of Green Gables, with an "e" of course... these books are like friends to me.

I sighed... and determined to reread some of them again... but to part with them seemed a travesty.  My favourite reading chair beckons, (I was inspired to paint it once!);  the one I spent so many hours as a child reading, tuning out my mother's calls for help in the kitchen, or reminders to practice that piano.  No, I was in another world, and it was hard to disturb me.

  Books have shaped me and formed me and inspired me and disturbed me... they are invitations into the mind of another... and I have been privileged to tarry there.

  Oh yes, I have a kindle... but there is still nothing like opening the pages of a well-loved book and losing myself in the story... so if you don't hear from me in a while... you might hear the turning of the pages.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The robin came to visit.

   Do you ever wonder?

   What the birds think?  Bird-brain... that seems so rude.

  How do we know, anyway?

   Birds have always fascinated me.  My first husband, Andrew, was an avid bird watcher.
   His bird book, the North American Volume, dog-eared and well studied.

  He learned to tell a bird by their voice, by their song.
  He took great thrill in identifying them by their stripes and colors and size.

  It was no wonder, then, that he loved the eagle...as we all have come to love the eagle.
   That verse from Isaiah 40... "They that wait upon the Lord... they shall mount up on wings like eagles.."  it was his favorite.  And should I have been surprised when I saw an eagle, flying low, the day he died?

  Does God use birds, creation, to communicate with us?  I believe He does... although some might question it.  God, the Creator... how do we hear His voice?

  And so I've learned to pay attention.

  Thinking lots about "the other side" these days... how close are we really, to eternity... our earth-bound minds bumping up against the supernatural?

  I asked the question yesterday... If we knew what "they" knew... how would it change our lives?

 And so the robin came to visit.  He has been hanging around lately.  He seems to have a lot to say, but I can't understand a word.  But I'm trying to listen.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Embracing the season.

   Summer; July is upon us.  As I write, we sit on our patio watching the night descend. The warm air is inviting, we see the first star of the evening. Smells of herbs and fresh mowed grass fill the air.

  Underneath the deck is a robins nest. Yesterday he perched, or was it she?... on our grape vines, so still, watching us. And then I saw the nest and the little birds, jaws hanging open, waiting. Quite amazing.

  Work calls.  Weeds to be pulled, raspberries to be picked. Today I made jam; a combinatin of my berries and dad's.   It is in our blood, to preserve the food. What isn't used can be shared. I've learned it well.   Yesterday a neighbour brought by cherries from her tree. I am surrounded by a sense of community, of caring.

  Life goes on, its rhythm calling to work and sleep and eat.  I usually love this season. I take great delight in bringing in produce from the garden. Yesterday, lettuce and a big fat cucumber. Fresh dill for the summer stew. Juicy cherry tomatoes for the salad.

  The roses, still blooming, remind me of mom. I will bring the fragrant petals to her grave. For it is also a season of grief, and reminders are everywhere.

  On the weekend, we went for a walk, a beautiful path in the Kootenays. The path was lined with a riot of wild flowers. Mom loved wild flowers this time of year and would love to hike the hills in search of them. Surrounded by flowers, a butterfly flits by... It is beautiful.

  It is the season. A season of plenty, of beauty, and yes of sadness. Joy mixed with sorrow, our lives hang in the balance of these. And I embrace the season.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Turning the Page

 My calendar says June.  It is time to turn the page.
 I really don't want to...

Mom didn't want to see June, but we were blessed by June.

Two more weeks to love and talk and smell the roses.
 I really don't want to turn the page...

the last of the flowers, those last flowers I bought
for her the Thursday before she died,
 bright happy gerbers, yellows and pinks...
 I hung on to the yellow ones, and they have crumpled
 Yellow petals and pollen fallen on my mantle
 And I can't bear to clean it up.

  Leftover food...
  Gifts of love
  fill my fridge... we eat, not hungry
  but grateful..

  Reminders everywhere of family love
  Of being together
  Of sharing these moments together
   The house now empty
   but full of reminders.

  I don't want to change the page.
  I don't want to clean it up...
  I want to hang on and sit and remember

  And as I water the fading flowers
   And wipe the tears
 I really don't want to celebrate this Canada Day
  My flag flies at half mast
   The world more empty
    Heaven richer.

And I know that I know
  that I am grieving..
   and that others grieve with me,

And that she would encourage me
   to turn the page.

Canada Day, July 1, 2013
for my mom