Good Days

It feels like I have been doing a lot of moaning and groaning on here lately so I decided that it was time to share something cheerful.

We had lovely Spring weather this past weekend. I invited my Mom up for a quick visit on Saturday. When she got here, we went for a drive along our lovely waterfront park. The water of Lake Huron was a deep, translucent jade colour. There were quite a number of people participating in the annual shoreline clean-up event. It was nice to see families working together to clean up our waterfront. Being on the prevailing wind side of a Great Lake, we get quite a lot of flotsam and jetsam accumulating after all the Winter storms that blow our way.

Then we drove to the top of the sand bluffs which may be 80 – 100 feet high above the lake. The town of Goderich was built upon these bluffs, which are the remnants of a glacial lake. From one vantage point we could see the mouth of the Maitland River flowing into the lake looking like a river of black oil against the jade green of the lake.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant that sits on the crest of a hill above the lake. It was nothing fancy but we enjoyed one another’s company.

My Mom had not been feeling well but I think that the sunshine, the scenery and my scintillating company helped to elevate her spirits a bit. I know that I enjoyed her company and she  gave me deliverance from cabin fever.

The weather was beautiful again on Sunday. Plans to meet up with my son and his family fell through so I asked my hubby if he felt like going for a drive to Sarnia to visit my Mom. I suggested that we have a picnic and walk around the park down there.

Instead of a picnic, we all went to Archie’s Albert’s, a well known local hot-dog stand situated almost underneath the large international Bluewater Bridge that joins Canada and the States. I pigged out on a spicy and very sloppy cheese dog. I had as much cheese sauce running down my fingers and hand as I had on the hotdog!

After the junk food delectables, we drove on winding roads through lovely Canatara Park. We stopped near the beach to look at the crumbling remains of the ice walls along the shoreline. A “Laker” ship was heading towards the entrance of the St. Clair River, which is a very busy shipping channel in the Great Lakes system.

We strolled along trails beneath an old oak forest. Small children were enjoying crunching through the dried leaves. In a small garden in an open area, white snowdrops, yellow and purples crocuses, and a bunch of beautiful purple mini irises were poking out. A young girl was learning how to skateboard while watchful grandparents strolled behind her. There were people of all ages out and about enjoying the beautiful Spring weather. Many of them were walking dogs. There were dogs of every size and description – I have never seen so many dogs in one place!

After our stroll, we parked ourselves on park benches overlooking the St. Clair River and proceeded to people watch. I got a chuckle watching three young kids rolling down a small hill, over and over again. Such innocent pastimes! We chatted with passing dog walkers and patted some pooches. There are always quite a few people fishing and we got a laugh when two anglers got their lines hooked together, unbeknownst to one of them. The angler who knew, jokingly gave his line a big tug making the other angler think that she had caught a fish. LOL

Afterwards, we went back to my Mom’s where we sat in the sun on the back deck drinking tea and eating chocolate chip cookies while feeding friendly black squirrels peanuts in the shell. Simple pleasures. 🙂

On our drive back home, my hubby and I stopped at a restaurant for a light supper. I happened to see a sign advertising no sugar added (magic words for someone, me, trying to lose weight) Moose Tracks ice cream so of course we just HAD to have some! YUM!

When we arrived home, the sun was just starting to set and it was still mild so we decided to go for a stroll around the neighbourhood. The air was scented with the fresh aroma of cedar and spicy camp fire smoke. The tree tops were filled with a variety of birds singing Evensong. So tranquil. What a lovely way to end a lovely day.

I thank God for the many blessings of this past weekend – the company of loved ones, sunshine, mild temperatures, and lovely scenery. God Is Good – All The Time!

Psa 31:19 How great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You; 

Psa 107:8 Oh that men would praise Jehovah for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the sons of man!

“Ma Ee”

When I was a young nurse working in a nursing home, I had an elderly Scottish gentleman for a patient. One shift he became somewhat agitated and when I asked him what was wrong he said, “It’s ‘ma ee’; there is something wrong with ‘ma ee'”. I was not used to a thick Scottish accent and so I thought that he was telling me that there was something wrong with his ear. He got frustrated with me and finally pointed to his eye while loudly explaining “ma ee – ma ee!” Bing – my light bulb went on and I realized that he was saying, “there is something wrong with my eye”! LOL

Well, there has been something wrong with “ma ees” too, ever since I was young.

When I was a toddler, my father, who suffered from frequent bouts of cold sores, ended up passing the virus, herpes simplex, on to me while he was cuddling me. The virus took up residence in my eyes and I ended up with ulcerated corneas.

I remember being very young and going in for surgery to cauterize (burn off) the ulcers. I can still remember the smell of the rubber mask they put on me for the gas to put me to sleep. I had a patch on my eye and I wasn’t supposed to let any light in. I ended up with a nasty, itchy reaction on my face due to the surgical tape.

Another time, I woke up from a nap with pools of blood in my eyes from blood vessels that had burst for some reason. I remember a horrible episode in the emergency room while nurses held down my arms and legs while they cauterized the blood vessels – without anesthetic!

I continued to have bouts of herpes simplex infections in my eyes requiring lots of eye drops – ooh sting! And there were a few visits to the opthalmologist where my eye would be “frozen” and then a liquid would be used to remove the ulcers.

The subsequent result was that I developed scar tissue on my cornea, over the lens, which caused some vision loss.

I remember the opthalmologist commenting that if I had continued to have frequent infections, I may have become blind in that eye by the time I turned 18. That was NOT good news.

When I was 16, I suddenly developed a different type of infection called iritis, which is an inflammation in iris muscles of the eye. My vision in that eye turned milky white and my pupil took on a figure 8 shape. A subsequent bout of iritis has caused permanent damage to the iris so it does not allow the pupil to respond to light properly.

I tell you all this so that you will understand why I value my eyesight so much!

I love being outdoors. I love the beauty of God’s creation. I love to paint and do handicrafts. I love photography. I love to read. I love to go for country drives. And I love to look at the faces of my loved ones. All of these things depend on vision and that is why I am so glad that I can still see.

I often thank God for my eyesight. I feel closest to God when I am looking at His creation. I have been mightily blessed by the beauty I have seen. Sometimes, it has taken my breath away in amazement; other times, it has made me weep with joy.

This morning, as I was driving my hubby to work, the sun was rising and glowing through the low-lying mist. Shafts of golden light burst through. The trees were in silhouette against a misty golden backdrop. The green winter wheat was covered with a carpet of glistening diamonds. It was both awe inspiring and peaceful at the same time.

And I once again thanked my Heavenly Father for my eyesight.

Take some time to look at the beauty around you and then remember to thank God that you can see it.

Blessings

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The Walk

I have just returned from my morning walk. Usually I enjoy going for a walk. I live in a lovely area on a bluff over-looking Lake Huron. The roads are narrow and made of gravel which give a pleasing crunching sound under my feet. There are many large, lush, green trees and thick green undergrowth. A former cottage community under-going change, the houses are quaint and individual in size, shape and personality. In the right seasons, the air is filled with a wide variety of bird song. Big-eyed cotton-tailed rabbits warily munch on the abundant selection of greenery. Once in a while, a flock of wild turkeys, a small herd of deer or a lone coyote can be seen quickly slipping across the roadway from one woodland to the other.

My walks are usually the time I spend in communion with my Heavenly Father. I thank Him for all the beauty that surrounds me and for all the blessings He has given me and then I petition Him for the needs of my loved ones.

Usually I look forward to my walk. But not today.

Today, I had to force myself to go for a walk.

Today, my body aches, my fatigue is high and my soul is low.

Today I feel like the weather – heavy, damp and grey.

When I started out on my walk today, my steps were slower and less sure. It took more will power to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I struggled to get out the minimum amount of prayer requests and thanksgiving.

Then I decided to deliberately concentrate on shifting my focus from how I felt inside to what was going on around me. I noticed that even though we had had a bad month in July for heat and drought and the grass had turned brown, now, all the grass was once again lush and green. As I listened, I could hear chickadees chirping, crickets buzzing and the pleasant sound of crunching gravel under foot. I looked and saw the last of the summer flowers blooming in neighbours’ gardens. I felt the warm, moist wind blowing in from the South.

By the time I was approaching home, my steps, and my soul, had become quicker, lighter and easier. While I still feel tired and aching, my soul and my spirit are feeling less burdened.

I think our Christian “walk” (yes, pun intended) is much like my walk this morning. We often feel aching, tired, burdened, and low in spirit. That is the time when we must decide that we are going to keep on walking in our faith, regardless of how we are feeling. That is when we must choose to keep on putting one footstep of faith in front of the other. That is when we must take our focus off of ourselves and our present circumstances and look instead to the blessings that God has given us.

When we focus on God’s love for us and on what Jesus did for us and when we express gratitude and thankfulness for those blessings, our “walk” in this challenging life can become lighter and easier.

I pray that God will guide your walk today and make your path easier and lighter.

Blessings

Mat 11:29 Take My yoke on you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest to your souls.
Mat 11:30 For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

Burnt Cookies

I am having one of those days – burning, aching body, mind-numbing fatigue, frustration. And then I burn the cookies!!

I have to say that it wasn’t really my fault. We have an older stove with a very temperamental oven thermostat. I even used a separate thermometer and reduced the baking time – but still ended up with “rubbed bronze finish” cookies or “hardtack” as my hubby will call them. Not only is this frustrating from the time and effort perspective but we really can’t afford to waste any food.

On top of my already feeling rough today, the burnt cookies were almost the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. But while I was indulging in a momentary pity party, I remembered the recent conversation I had with a pastor and his wife who were visiting from Zambia and I quickly realized that it is silly of me to “cry over spilled milk” or burnt cookies, as it were.

Pastor Daniel was filled with passion and joy as he shared the work that has been going on in his area of Zambia. As he told his story, I learned what life is like for most of the villagers that he works with. They do not have electricity and any cooking that is done, is done outside over a fire.  A lot of the food they have must be grown, cultivated and processed all by hand using crude hand tools. He shared a video of women threshing maize for the kernels and then pounding the kernels into flour, both back-breaking, mind-numbing chores.

These village women have good reason to complain about pain, fatigue and frustration, yet they rarely complain, rather, they are grateful for the ability to be able to feed their family anything at all. And I bet that they would even be grateful for burnt cookies!

I admire these women who make the best of what their life has to offer. I admire how thankful they are for any little blessing that comes along.

So, when I am having a “burnt cookie” day, I will remember these women and think about how blessed I am to have shelter, protection, warmth, an income, electricity, indoor plumbing with hot and cold running water, a loving husband, freedom, peace, food including ingredients to make cookies and yes – even an electric oven that burns cookies!

When you are having a “burnt cookie day” look for and focus on the blessings you have instead.

Selah

Two Small Words

When I was a child, my mother taught me the “magic words” – “Please” and “Thank you”. When I became a mother, I taught those words to my own children. To this day, even though both my sons are grown men, I still receive positive comments from people regarding how polite my sons are. (I guess I did one thing right anyways – phew!)

As a parent, I did not want my children coming up to me and demanding things as if everything was their right to have. And if I did fulfill their requests, I certainly didn’t want them to walk away without them having given me some sort of acknowledgement and expression of gratitude, again, as if everything was their right to have and/or do.

To me, expressing gratitude shows that you acknowledge the effort and sometimes sacrifice that someone has put into helping you. As a parent, you may often feel that all your effort goes unnoticed and unappreciated. It took several years, in fact, both my sons were young men, before I received a wonderful, unexpected affirmation from one of my sons.

My youngest son is not overly communicative. And our relationship became very strained after the break up of my marriage. So it was a HUGE blessing to me when on two separate occasions, my son called me out of the blue to thank me for some of the things I had done for him when he was growing up.

His first call was inspired by the fact that he was eating left-over shepherd’s pie for lunch. He told me that as he was eating, he suddenly remembered all the times that I had prepared a tasty, hot lunch for him when he was in school. He had disliked being at school and he didn’t like eating sandwiches. So for him, being able to come home for lunch and knowing that I had something nice for him to eat, was a real blessing.

The second surprise call came after he had had to take a young fellow worker to the hospital after the young fellow had been injured in a workplace accident. As he sat there trying to comfort his bloody co-worker as they waited for a doctor, my son remembered all the times that I had held his hand in emergency rooms as he was being stitched up after one of his many (many!) accidents. He realized how stressful that must have been for me. So he called me up to thank me for having been there for him. (I hope you’re all saying “Awww – how sweet” right about now)

But seriously, who wants to do nice things for people who are never grateful? If we, as humans, feel that way, why would we think that our Heavenly Father feels any differently? As much as we may have given/give and have done/do for our loved ones and for others, we can NEVER outgive what God has done for us.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Even though mankind has rejected (and continues to reject) God, He still loved us so much that he was willing to give His son over to death for our sakes. I mean, think about it, would you give up the life of one of your beloved children in order to save the life of someone else? Especially if that person wasn’t very nice?

And think about Jesus, who never sinned, yet paid the price of the death penalty for our sins. Would you die for people you didn’t know or who didn’t care about you?

Surely, the very least thing we can do is to say those two small words “Thank You” to God and Jesus for what they have done for us.

In Canada, this weekend is Thanksgiving. So take a moment out of your busy holiday schedule to say “Thank You” to your Heavenly Father and to your SAviour, Jesus. It will really bless them and I know that you will be blessed in return.

Rev 7:12 saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Blessings

A Confession

It is said that confession is good for the soul. Well, I have a confession to make – I am happy! It may not be politically correct, trendy or cool to say such a thing,especially as it often seems like we live in a society of whiners and complainers, but it is the truth – I am happy.

Now, my happiness does not stem from the fact that everything is just “tickety-boo” or “perfecto” in my life. I still live with some level of pain and/or fatigue every day. But I am happy that most of the time I can work, volunteer and  and go on the nature walks that I love so much.

I still have the specter of fear raise it’s ugly little head every once in a while that my bladder cancer will return. But I am happy that I have been almost 3 years cancer-free and that most of the time, I don’t even think about it.

Working at my job causes my legs and feet to be VERY sore at the end of my shift. But I am happy that I have a job that I really enjoy, I work with a great bunch of gals, my employers are great, I get to wear nice clothes and I earn a bit of spending money.

Certain family situations are very hurtful and stressful but I am happy that I know that my mom and my two sons love me very much and that I now have a beautiful granddaughter to cuddle and love.

I don’t have my own home or a garden to putter in but I am happy that I have a nice apartment that we have made into a cosy retreat and two planters on my balcony filled with pretty flowers.

I was deeply wounded and went through hell when my former husband left me, not only alone but poor, but I am EXTREMELY happy that I now have a WONDERFUL husband.

I used to be somewhat fearful of God, but now I am happy that He is at the center of my life and that I feel comfortable sharing all my fears and my joys with Him.

As I am writing this, I notice that every place that I have written the word “happy”, I could also have used the word “grateful” or “thankful”. I believe that the more thankful and/or grateful you are, the happier you are. I have much for which to be grateful and thankful and thus I am very happy.

I pray that your life is filled with happiness too.

Blessings

 

Appreciation

I volunteer at an Adult Day Centre which operates day programs for Seniors with a variety of needs. One of the clients is a sweet little lady with advanced dementia. She has reverted to only speaking the language of her birth so we are unable to understand her and communication is a challenge. However, today she communicated something to me in a way that spoke louder than words.

After I placed her lunch plate in front of her, she smiled at me, grabbed my arm, bent down and kissed my arm. What a wonderful, eloquent expression of simple gratitude!

I believe that simple expressions of gratitude is what God wants from us –  not fancy words, not candles, not incense, not acts of sacrifice – just simple, heartfelt “Thank you Father”.

Psa 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Amen