Monday, May 30, 2005

My front porch view! Posted by Hello

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View from my living room window! Posted by Hello

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From my front porch

"Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there." Annie Dillard

Mosquitoes are on their annual manhunt here in Alberta and eventho the outdoors is so beautiful and inviting, I've been avoiding it to escape the wrath of these insects that I abhor. I have been an ardent whiner and complainer about mosquitoes for years. Last year, under the tutelage of St Francis of Assisi, I vowed to "embrace" mosquitoes. How does one embrace mosquitoes? For me it means that I stop whining and complaining about their existence. To accomplish this, I wear pants, socks, and long sleeves lots more than I have in the past. Less exposed skin = fewer mosquito bites. It works! I'm bummed by my new dress code, but I'm enjoying the victory of accepting this tiny creature created by God that serves as a delicious meal to the frogs, fish, birds and bats.

I'm sitting on my front porch hoping to be inspired by a nature lesson. I can't boast an idyllic lake view or majestic mountain view, but I can attest to my quiet street's beauty. I enjoy the elms, poplars, spruces, weeping birch, mayday, and mountain ash trees. Each tree seems to be the choir loft for a chorus of song birds. I'm listening to birds and wishing my morning countenance and attitude was more like theirs and less like the crow I hear in the distance. But admittedly, I'm ugly and nagging - quite crow-like in the morning.

A gorgeous magpie just lighted on my sidewalk. She's black, white and royal blue. A beautiful bird she is. But nasty. A cousin to the crow, the magpie is a scavenger, a "rudy" as my girls say. She steals and eats the eggs and babies of the good birds. She is not unlike many of the people in our culture. Pretty on the outside, nasty on the inside; nasty lifestyle, nasty habits, nasty nature. She reminds me of what I don't want to be.

My dear son Christopher arrived last Thursday. I feel more whole with him here. He is 6 feet tall and a fine young man. He entertains me with stories from Arkansas. Last night I laughed so hard it felt like no oxygen was getting to my head and I was about to pass out. Since I only see Christopher one, maybe 2 times a year, I'm amazed at how much he's grown up. He knows things I don't, he's smart in some areas I know nothing about. He continues to grow spiritually and that is what I'm most thankful for. May God always be glorified in Christopher's life.

Lucy has just joined me out here. That crow that was "in the distance" a while back is now in the spruce tree right beside us. She seems to be trying to torment Lucy with her incessant cawing and she's successful in her endeavors. Lucy is agitated.

Yesterday before church, Lucy was agitated and going person to person whining. Gordon said Lucy and was saying, "Oh I just hate Sundays. This is the day you all go to church to worship someone other than me."

The sun is beating down on me and the wind is against my face. The clear blue sky is the backdrop for the trees I love so much.

Beauty and grace have performed all around me. I'm glad to have been here for the performance. It's a divine way to begin the day.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Granola Bar Recipe

This blog is not about recipes, but I am about to share one. I pride myself on never putting a raisin where a chocolate chip should be, but having tried it both ways, I like it best with the raisins. This recipe is easily modified with different nuts and fruits.

Granola Bars
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 3/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything together. Put in a greased cake pan (9x13) and pat down. It will look like it's not enough dough, but pat it down until it reaches to the corners and fills the pan. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. (Not nearly as good crispy as it is chewy, so try not to overcook). As soon as you take it out of the oven, take a knife or pizza cutter and make your bars. I make one cut down the middle and 6 rows. Let it set until cooled.

Try it! I want to know if your family likes it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


I'm feeling old these days. I'm not complaining of aches, pains and memory loss, but I'm observing things about myself and my environment and what I notice clearly indicates that I'm aging. First I'm recognizing that I'm not as strong, I'm not as sharp, and I'm not as "on the ball" as I once was. There was a time when I was, quite possibly, the smartest person I knew. :-) Those days are long gone. Now life is characterized more by what I don't know than what I do know. My idealism has be shattered over and over, and I see that nearly every dilemma has two sides and both sides can present a good argument. I have strong feelings on lots of things, but the opposing argument may make perfect sense to me. I remember the days when I knew every solution to every problem -- even if my mentality was skewed, there was a great deal of security in knowing exactly where I stood.

I find repeatedly that I don't fit. I don't fit any political party, I don't fit any denomination. I just kind of vacilate from issue to issue. I'm as fickle as anyone I know. Last year I started taking the city bus more places (embracing ecological conservation). On my way to work today (1/2 way by bus, 1/2 way walking) I experienced feelings and thoughts that were on each end of the spectrum. While on the bus, we passed a homeless man with his grocery cart picking up bottles. I've seen him a number of times, but this time was different. He only had on one shoe. My heart was filled with sympathy. "Oh God, help me be content with less so we can help others more," I prayed.

Less than 15 minutes later I walked past a 5th wheel trailer and I lusted. "I wish Gordon would buy us a trailer," I wished. Moments later I realized the dichotomy in my own thinking. Day in and day out I find myself wanting opposites. One day I may look at show homes because we "need" a fourth bedroom. Another day I may be suggesting we sell our house to get something smaller so we can help others more. Back and forth I go -- always thinking and consistently fickle. (This is where Gordon comes in. He's as steady as they come.)

I wish I knew more. I wish I had answers to all my questions. I wish I knew how to be Christian in 21st century North America. But, I don't. I stumble from one issue to the next.

Sunday my pastor said a few things about aging gracefully. To grow old gracefully, I need to recognize life isn't about me and not be ruled by my ego. Wrinkles, sagging, gray hair, extra weight all testify that life has banged us up a bit.

That banged up effect has an element of splendor to it. "The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old." Proverbs 20:20


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

His Mom Speaks Little English

This morning on the bus an old Chinese man rang the bell to get off. The driver told him he couldn't let him off where he wanted off because of the road construction. The Chinese man didn't understand English, so the bus driver spoke louder. (Why is it when we are speaking to people who don't understand us, we speak louder?)

The man kept motioning and speaking Chinese. To appease the man, the driver stopped. In clear English, the Chinese man said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Obviously "Thank you" was an English expression he was comfortable with.

By their exchange, I was reminded of an experience a friend of mine had. His non-English speaking mother from Quebec came to visit him here in Alberta. She relied totally on Alain to speak for her when they were in public.

One day they went shopping. As they stood in the check-out line, Alain realized he'd forgotten something. Nervously, his mom told him to hurry so she didn't get stuck having to communicate with the cashier. A few minutes later Alain returned to find the line had progressed and the cashier and his mom were in a confused exchange. The cashier was defending the amount of change she gave his mother. His mother was smiling -- you know the big smile you give when trying to express kindness to someone whom you can't communicate with words.

By the cashier's expression, Alain could tell something was wrong. As she started defending herself to Alain, Alain suddenly figured out the problem. His mother stood beside him saying with a hearty smile, "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you."

Alain quickly took over. apologized with embarrassment, and explained to the cashier that his mom didn't speak English and she thought she was saying "Thank you."

Alain took his mom by the arm to gently lead her out of the store. Still smiling, she turned around, held up her bags and said, "Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you." one final time.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Unrighteous Ramblings from Bluesville

David Berry, the syndicated columnist from Miami, says that the difference between a successful writer and and unsuccessful writer is that when a successful writer has nothing to write, he sits down at his computer and he writes anyway. The unsuccessful writer, when he has nothing to write, doesn't write.

Well, I've got nothing to say. I'm sitting at my desk, still feeling blue, -- I've felt that way for about a week. Two neighbor children are over, my kids have the run of the house. Everyone is happy because I just created some delicious homemade granola bars. They really are pretty darn tasty. If you request the recipe, I'll be happy to give it to you, but since I'm not about exchanging recipes, you will have to ask.

I read a blog today that made me chuckle hard. The blogster was an Episcopalian priest. He wrote that his wife's mother was staying with them and as he told the story of her annoying ways, I could sense his rising blood pressure. Before the blog was finished he was swearing and saying some less than loving things about said mother-in-law. It was hilarious. I know that as Christians we should "rise above" the temptations to slander and ridicule. I know we should strive to be loving and kind in all situations. Why is it that I feel encouraged to hear Christians be really honest about their struggles? When people who are serious about their faith admit with passion their weaknesses, I almost love that person immediately. I've not been attracted to the "got it all together" kind of person in a number of years. There was a time when I strove to have it all together, but I've found that the admission of my insanity is really quite refreshing. Besides, have you ever noticed that the "have it all together" people are boring and come off plastic? Well, I don't want to be boring or plastic. Those got it all together types really bug me. They just don't warm the coddles of my heart at all.


A Divine Nature Watch

This year has found me training myself in a new discipline, something I’ve never done before. I am trying to hear the voice of God through nature. Psalm 19 speaks of nature being a teacher, how nature alone can teach us about God. Recently I read a quote from William Wordsworth. He said, “Let nature be your teacher.” That quote resonated with me and I knew that I had neglected the lessons of nature. I knew I had neglected to see God in his creation. I had no problem marveling over the “grander” things in nature; the Rocky Mountains, oceans, a gigantic waterfall. But I hadn’t quieted myself to hear God and see God in the nature I’m around everyday.

Murray Pura wrote a story called “The Divine Game of Pinzatski”. In the story, the Pinzatskis, an urban couple, played a game of naming characteristics of God that things in nature reminded them of. If they saw an eagle, one of them might say that eagle reminded them of God’s power or his majesty. The ash in campfire reminded one of them of the purity of God. Ants staggering along with a bit or corn reminded one of them of God’s desire to use what is apparently weak and puny to do those tasks which are most difficult.

“My Divine Game” isn’t quite like that, although sometimes it’s very close. God is teaching me to see a message from Him in his creation. It has been enlightening and encouraging. Many mornings before I leave my house, just looking out my living room window I will see not just nature, but the nature of God as well.

One evening I went to bed right after reading the newspaper and TIME magazine. I was struck by the wickedness and pain in our world. My heart was heavy. The next morning as I was having a cup of coffee and waiting for God to show me something new in nature, the trees began to teach me. Actually it was a single spruce. The spruce was standing among deciduous trees and she was a stark contrast, (although I’d never noticed before). Her green was deeper and she was pointing heavenward. As all the trees surrounding her were blowing in the gentle breeze, she looked stoic and unwavering as she delivered her message; “Look heavenward, aim heavenward, think heavenward.” The spruce reminded me that all my help and all this world’s help will ultimately be from God, and that is where I need to focus my attention and affections.

Several mornings later the trees were still. It had been days since there had not been a significant breeze. That morning the stillness of the trees seemed to say, “Be still and know that He is God.” I was reminded to slow down and soak in the fact that He is God. My eyes were drawn back to the spruce, which had reminded me to look heavenward a few days earlier. This day I was reminded to look heavenward in the stillness, the calmness, the quiet—not just when my heart was heavy or burdened.

The peaceful gurgling noise of a fountain has repeatedly reminded me of God’s gentleness. The songbirds remind me to sing a song of thanksgiving and praise to God. The trees that didn’t produce well this year because we failed to prune them, remind me that God has a purpose in my hardships, my pruning. The robin couple working together on their nest, had a powerful message on unity.

This new form of viewing nature has transformed my outlook. Things that I never noticed before have become beautiful and nurturing. They have pointed me to God, they have quieted my soul. Psalm 19:1 “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” For so long I’ve neglected to listen to God’s messages in nature. I’m glad we serve a God that is not limited in how he speaks to us. God reveals Himself in nature. I am thankful to be learning that.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Quips by Gordon

Yesterday I was complaining to Gordon about feeling dull and blah. He said the token "pick me up" lines and then added, "Look on the bright side, they have Special Olympics for people like you."

I wrote last week and shared some of Gordon's sentiments about my beloved Lucy (dog) and how Gordon detest my dog and her excessive fur. Well, yesterday I turned on the ceiling fan in our bedroon for the first time in the season. Suddenly dislodged from its safe haven on the fan blades, fur began to whirl around the room. Gordon and I observed this phenomenom and then Gordon broke the silence with, "Oh look, a flying dog."

Yesterday I was semi offered a much better job (which I don't know yet if I will get). We were discussing the pros and cons of my taking it. It came up that I would need new clothes because "I won't be wearing an apron to cover my clothes." Without missing a beat Gordon said, "That's fine I'll just buy you a new apron for work."

This man that I'm married to makes me laugh and I love that about him.

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Yesterday I skipped church. I didn't want to go - just that simple. I stayed home and read my Bible, prayed and took a nap. It was a nice break.

As I laid in bed on Saturday night, at midnight, I heard the bells begin to ring at the Catholic church not too far from our house. I wondered what the occasion was and then remembered that it was the dawning of Pentecost Sunday. It was a nice way to be reminded. So yesterday while my family was at church I meditated on the Holy Spirit and His benefits. I also read the account in Acts of the coming of the Holy Spirit. In Melody Green's worship song she wrote "Thank you o My Father for giving us your Son, and leaving your Spirit till the work on earth is done." I absolutely love that song and can in no way add to that expression - it says so much, so succinctly.

What a good day to thank Him for his gift to us - the Holy Spirit.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005


This morning I read Psalm 71:17 in the New Living Translation. “Oh God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood…” I was reminded of my first answered prayer. I was about 8 years old, the loving, proud mother of a new kitten. She was a bundle of gray and white fur and I loved her the moment I saw her. As I studied her trying to come up with a name, my mom suggested Fabian. I’d never heard that name and I thought it sounded quite fancy, so Fabian she became.

I took Fabian everywhere with me. We lived on a farm so I explored with Fabian either in my arms or beside me. When Fabian was still very small, a young kitten, I put her down while I played in a stream. I lost track of time and couldn’t find Fabian when I got ready to proceed to the next adventure. I looked for her the remainder of the day.

Because she was so tiny and lost so far from the house, my mom and dad said I probably wouldn't be able to find her. They warned me that a wild animal might have gotten her. I went to bed crying. As I cried, I asked God to help me find Fabian.

I spent a good part of the next day looking for her, but to no avail. On the third day, as I walked across a pasture I stumbled onto Fabian, lying lifeless in the tall grass. I picked her limp body up and she cracked her eyes. She was alive, but barely.

As gently as I could I carried her home. Mama and Daddy said she was dead, but when I told them she’d opened her eyes when I picked her up, they examined her more closely. Her body was ravaged. She was terribly skinny and she was missing some of her fur. Daddy imagined that the dogs had had a game of tug of war with her. We could feel torn and broken things inside her. I don’t know whet we were feeling, but it wasn’t normal.

Mama and Daddy told me she was going to die. I took a saucer of milk and cat food to my room and began my vigil on my bed. She was non-responsive. I dipped my finger in the milk and rubbed it on her nose and lips. I stayed by her side and prayed. “God please help Fabian get better. Please her get well.”

Mama and Daddy came to my bedroom throughout the day. They tried to prepare me for her impending death. At night I drifted off to sleep stroking her mangled body and praying for her.

The next morning there was no noticeable improvement, but by the afternoon, she licked her nose and lips when I put milk on them. She didn’t raise her head or even open her eyes. I held her like a baby and kept praying, “God please help Fabian get better.”

Finally Fabian tried to stand. She fell down several times, but eventually was able to drink a saucer of milk. Later she ate several kernels of cat food.

Within a few days she was playing “chase the ball” and doing regular kitten things like climbing the living room curtains, much to my mom’s chagrin.

I was young but I knew a miracle when I saw one. God had answered my prayer and I experienced personally the love of God for the first time in my life. I was the only one who prayed for Fabian so I felt exhilarated knowing it was MY prayer that God had answered.

That childhood experience was one of those pivotal moments in my life. I recognize that experience as the beginning place of what would become a life of prayer.

“Oh God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood.” Psalm 71:17

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My Aunt's Story

What you are about to read I didn't write, but I thought my aunt's descriptions were so funny that I wanted to post them. My cousin Cindy has a very aggressive cancer. Last week, the relatives started a little email game of sending her funny family stories in hopes of giving her some laughs. Maybe over the next few days, I can post a couple of them. There were some classics.

This story was written by my aunt, Jill.

"It was just past daybreak on a late September morning in 1971. In 1971 broiler chicken houses were not automated in any way. Because times were so difficult my young children were privileged to develop strong, character building work ethics. Each child was allotted a specific area of the chicken house to care for.

On this particular September morning, I remember that the day was slightly overcast and quite cool. I was 10 months pregnant, and I kid you not. I was also grotesquely huge. If you will imagine the largest pregnancy that you have ever seen and then double it you will have some idea of how large and clumsy I was. In fact, I was so huge that when I washed dishes I had to turn sideways to reach the sink. And I do not exaggerate by one inch. I was monstrously large. But my girth did not preclude my having to milk our Guernsey cow. ou may not can imagine We did not buy milk from grocery stores back then. I'm quite sure that the grocer SOLD milk, but not to us. We couldn't afford it. Our milk came straight from the source.

So, on this date I was perched precariously on my overturned bucket and I had an almost full pail of warm, foaming milk. I was almost finished with my milking when I heard wild, terrified shrieks from the chicken house. I saw my 2 younger children running for their lives. Lisa was well ahead of Peggy and her long black hair was streaming straight behind her in the wind that she was generating. She was looking over her right shoulder as she ran, screaming every breath. Peggy was about 25 feet behind her. She was looking straight ahead and running at top speed, also screaming every breath. Now, I've never laid claim to being the best mother in the world, but I can assure you, when I saw terror and horror mingled on my children's faces I recognized it for what it was and I knew my 2 little girls were in trouble.

Flinging my milk pail aside I clambered to my feet and lumbered after them as fast as it was possible to lumber. The 2 girls, still shrieking with each breath, ran pell mell up the hill toward the house. I had to increase my speed. In fact, I wound up sprinting. Now both children were looking over their right shoulders as they ran. I was doing my lumbering sprint from their left and they couldn't see mom rushing to their rescue. They also couldn't hear my frantic shrieks for them to stop. Their screams were louder than my own. Peggy was 6 years old and Lisa was 9. They could run quite fast, uphill and all, and I found to my surprise that I could also. They say adrenaline can do that for you. Anyway, I finally caught Peggy. "Tell me what is wrong!" I shrieked at her. She apparently couldn't stop screaming. It was while I was shaking her that I noticed for the first time in her life that my youngest child had a sprinkle of freckles across her nose. Her face was bleached of all color and the freckles stood out in stark contrast to her pale little face.

"What is it?" I yelled right into her face. Given over to total hysteria now, she began to shriek that a snake had jumped out of the feed bin over her shoulder while she was pulling down the feed. In the meantime, Lisa, seeing that safety was at hand, had turned and come back to where Peg and I were shrieking at one another. She heard Peg's explanation that a snake had jumped out of the feedbin over her shoulder. What was notable about my middle child was how large her eyes were and how white her lips were. There was a white ring around her mouth.

We have all experienced what my middle daughter went through in the next moment. We all know what it is like to have terror give way to relief and then a nanosecond later turn into rage. Lisa drew back her hand to strike Peggy as she screamed at her, "YOU CRAZY THING! I THOUGHT YOU SAW A WILD MAN!"

I spent the rest of that day in bed. The terror took its toll but as I lay in bed I laughed. I laughed until I hurt. "


Saturday, May 07, 2005

Gordon and Lucy

My dear husband just had a lapse of sanity. He prides himself on his level-headedness in moments of crisis, big and little. But thanks to Gordon, we were briefly the subject of neighborhood laughter.

My wonderful Lucy, oh how I love that precious dog, tests and tempts Gordon on a regular basis. Before anything goes wrong, he's already irritated because she sheds and there is always Lucy hair all over the house. Last week he reached down and scooped up a handful of hair under the curio cabinet and said, "Oh look, why don't we build another dog."

You probably know that dogs are pack animals. They are constantly sizing up their environment to see who the leader of the pack is. Well Lucy has concluded that I, her loving mother, am the leader of the pack and I admit, I've let that honor go to my head.

Now if you know Gordon, you know that he is a pack animal too. The difference between Lucy and Gordon is that Lucy is smart enough to evaluate who is in charge and if said person is doing his or her rightful duty before making a rash decision. Gordon on the other hand assumes that he is the leader of the pack before surveying the situation. Let me assure you, I have been embarrassed many times by Gordon "peeing on the wrong tree". Gordon has often claimed territory that isn't his to claim.

Gordon and I have what many believe to be a hierarchical relationship. He's the boss and I kind of do what he says. Before you get irritated with this arrangement I must say that there really is an upside to this; I don't worry about finances, I don't pay the bills, I know he will deal with the kids if they aren't respectful of me, and generally speaking, he's very willing to take the heat when I'm not. On the other hand, Gordon likes 3 meals a day (and no, Kraft dinner won't cut it), I am on a meager allowance, Gordon sees many jobs as the woman's job (and of course I'm the woman in this relationship), and every dime I make from my humble jobs go into the family account which he manages. I've probably told you just enough that now your lips are curled in disgust, but please understand that I've chosen this life.

As I said, Lucy views the hierarchy in this family as follows: Valerie, Lucy, Gordon. I have reason to believe that this is a burr in Gordon's proverbial saddle. "How dare that dog think that she is above me!" I've nearly heard him think it. I think it annoys him that Lucy doesn't listen to him as well as she listens to me.

Now about Gordon's lapse of sanity, or at the very least, his lack of scruples. A few hours ago Gordon opened the living room door and before he could do anything, Lucy tore out the open door and down the street. Gordon put on his strongest deepest voice, "LUCY GET BACK HERE!" He thinks the deeper he talks the more he'll scare her into returning. "LUCY GET BACK HERE!"

Lucy kept trotting down the street, oblivious to Gordon's intense emotions at the moment. I went to the door to call Lucy, which, might I add, probably would have been sufficient since I was carrying a doggy treat. I got there just in time to see Gordon tear off after her in hot pursuit. Lucy seemed to sense the gravity of the situation, because she high tailed it through the neighbors' yards, yelping like she was being tortured, yet having been untouched. Gordon was running like a crazed man right behind her yelling at the top of his lungs, "LUCY COME" over and over. He looked very ridiculous and angry scrambling and darting with her each time she scrambled and darted. Trying to help the situation, and of course save face in the neighborhood, I said, "Lucy. Come." She ran toward me with all her strength and Gordon was right behind her.

I opened the door for Lucy and rewarded her return with a doggy treat. Gordon arrived out of breath and yelled, "get out of my way." He cornered Lucy and then shook her like the pastor's wife in my childhood church shook her kids when they talked in church.

He stood up and turned around looking satisfied. I said, "what did you do that for?" and he answered "to teach her to come when she's called."

He walked outside just as the kids and I started giggling. "I bet that did the trick," Rachael said.

We all stared at Lucy wondering if she was ok. Clearly she was. She appeared to have enjoyed the bonding time with Dad.

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Cell Phone

Yesterday I was squatted down in my local grocers pasta department debating the pros and cons of spiral and wagon wheel noodles. Just as I was about to seal the deal for spiral noodles, I was startled by a gentleman standing behind me, practically hovering over me. “What are you doing?” he asked. As I rose to my feet wondering how to reply to this nosey stranger, he spoke again, “You need to go home now.” My expression must have been one of alarm mingled with bewilderment, because he smiled and pointed to his nearly concealed cell phone mike.

I was relieved, yet again, reminded how cell phones annoy me.

Earlier in the week I’d been on the city bus enjoying a date with my 5-year-old Deborah. Two phones rang simultaneously, - one to Beethoven, the other sounded like my back door bell.

“Hello,” said the woman.

“Chris here,” said the man.

“Oh my God. I can’t believe he did that. Tell me you’re joking,” the woman said. Chris’s conversation was less interesting than the lady’s, so I gave my attention to hers. Although I could empathize with this woman’s angst over her young son’s new tattoo, I replayed the thought I have so very often: “Why couldn’t this conversation wait? Why do your family issues have to be discussed right now, right here, in front of me?”

Yes I know, most of you have a cell and probably “couldn’t live without it.” But I pride myself on countering my culture in this department. When I leave the house, I do not want the demands of home following me out the door. I find the telephone to be an annoying gadget and have no compulsion to have one with me everywhere I go.

People say, “You don’t have a cell? How can you live without a cell?” It’s as though people think their cells are right up there with food, clothing and shelter.

Sure there have been times when I thought, “a cell would be convenient now,” but there are many more times when I think a cell user’s behavior is rude. Knowing I sound stodgy and old fashioned, I maintain that my freedom is much greater than the cell users’. My phone is my servant. I am not a servant to my phone.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Spring, Robins, and Line Dried Clothes

Spring has arrived fully in Edmonton Alberta. I can sit at my desk in the living room and hear the evening lullabies of the chickadees and sparrows through the windows. My favorite bird in the robin. They are family oriented. It's nothing short of inspirational watching the mommy and daddy robin build their nest together. Their teamwork is great. While momma robin goes to fetch material for the nest, daddy robin will sit on the garage and keep watch for her. If a blue jay, the bully bird of my back yard, comes around, daddy quickly warns momma and together they wait till the blue jay goes away to resume their work.

I love to watch them. Of all the songbirds, the robin's song is the sweetest to me. Robins are beautiful, yet they seem so meek and kind. I've never seen a robin be aggressive. Many robins congregate in the morning on the Mountain Ash by my bedroom window. Their sweet song is a delightful way to begin a day.

Another thing I love about spring is hanging my clothes on the line. I don't really know why this exercise is so special to me. Perhaps it's just that line dried clothes awaken my senses and help me feel close to nature. I watch the clothes blowing in the breeze and I smile. When I bring them inside, I sniff their freshness and I smile. When I dry myself with a stiff line dried towel, I smile.

I'm proud to do this little bit of extra work for the beauty it puts in my life. Furthermore, I get a bit of a charge from doing something to conserve the world's resources.

(Please note that I hang no underwear on the line. That would be nothing short of rude, vulgar and lewd.)



Yesterday 9 year old Rachael came home from school and immediately expressed seriousness over a situation. "Mom I need to tell you something. Today, Jeremy took me aside and told me he loved me." Her eyes were filled with seriousness and a desire for guidance from a wiser person.

I said, "Oh my. What did you say?"

She said, "I said, 'Can I have your granola bar?'"

How is that for diverting an uncomfortable conversation?

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Monday, May 02, 2005


I received a couple emails and a few comments about my poem for Gordon and have since worried that I mislead my few faithful readers. That poem was written while I was in a delusional state of love. Everything I said in that poem was true. However, there are plenty of poems that could be written that aren't quite as flattering to my marriage, and they would be true too. I am thankful to God for the marriage I have. I wouldn't trade my mess for anyone else's. But that is what it is, it's a mess. I don't know of any marriage that isn't a mess.

My marriage has a number of strengths. Gordon and I love each other passionately, share the same values, and want nothing more than to honor God and know Him more. That in itself gives us a huge advantage over those who don't share that common ground. But that being said, please believe me when I say there's lots and lots of room to grow.

Mike Mason in his book about marriage, (which I can't remember the name of) said that love is a trick to get us married so God can work on our character. Of course he said it in jest, but I think he got a bull's eye in that snippet.

So I tell you that just to say that yes it's a beautiful poem that reflects a side of my marriage. But there is another side of my marriage that that poem in no way reflects.

If you are married, I think you know exactly what I'm saying. If you aren't married, well, you'll understand someday when God decides it's time to work on your character.

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Wedding Stress

You've probably read or heard this weekend about the poor woman who ran away on her wedding day. I understand the disdain of all those who looked for her and worried about her. She was really irresponsible in her behavior. However, even understanding their irritations, I can so totally identify with the poor woman that I have nothing but pity. It's really unfortunate that she created such a lousy story, but that too is something I could be reduced to doing over a wedding.

I read the story, chuckled and nearly cried at the same time. I crawled into bed and told Gordon what I'd just read. He chuckled too and said, "Did you email it to Steph?" Well, I didn't email it to her, but I thought about it.

Why are weddings so stressful? Sure there are those brides that pull it off with the most beautiful grace and then there are those like the run-away bride and myself. You won't hear me judging the poor woman. That would be nothing short of the pot calling the kettle black.

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Sunday, May 01, 2005


I've had a bit of a hard week. No great upsets, just life, -- it was mundane and slightly painful all at the same time. My energy level seemed to be drowning in a perpetual state of overworked and under appreciated. Self pity has been my mode this week.

On Friday, when I was about as energetic as a rock, a couple whom we had invited for dinner earlier in the week, phoned to say yes they would be coming for dinner on Friday night. "Huh," I thought, "how am I gonna pull this off?" Well I made the usual Friday evening pizzas and sort of apologized for the simple meal and our casual way of doing Friday night at our place.

They are a very spiritual couple, but with different emphasis from my own spirituality. They shared their stories of a personal God, not just a God out there somewhere. Clearly they had real relationship with their God. Their visit was uplifting in that way.

The man's mother died a couple weeks ago. She was a dear woman whom I really appreciated. She sat on the same pew as my family at church. I really admired her. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died 2 months later. The couple, her son and daughter-in-law, said it wasn't God's will for her to die. I'm very aware of how that theology works - I use to be one of those who believed just that. But I am so far from believing that now that it was near painful hearing them talk. Louise, the mother who died, was 79 years old. As they spoke they told how her own grief over not letting a situation in her life "go" had led to her cancer. She didn't give it to God, therefore got cancer and died.

I asked how the scriptures about our days being numbered played out with them and they maintained that it wasn't in God's "perfect will" that she die when she did. In an earlier conversation, I'd told him that God's "perfect will" was forfeited in the Garden of Eden and now we live with sin and ugly, evil things (ie. cancer). He couldn't have disagreed more.

One of the things I find so disconcerting about this belief is that people who believe this, (that healing is ALWAYS God's will) seem to treat heaven as though it's a demotion. Heaven is supposed to be the Christian's end goal - the ultimate promotion. I don't see that in this theology. This theology seems to me to think THIS LIFE is "where it is."

I've had enormously blessed times in the presence of God. His power and presence have been nothing short of electric. I am so thankful for those times. I join with Fanny Crosby in saying, "oh what a foretaste of glory divine." Those times have been and are the absolute best times of my life. But that powerful experience is so very miniscule compared to His powerful presence I'll experience in heaven. Quite possibly, the dearly departed look down, chuckle and say, "wow, I wish I'd got out of that cesspool a lot sooner than I did."

I believe in praying for healing. I do pray for the healing of others. I do so because the Bible says to and because I want to participate in whatever God is doing - whether that is a work of healing or a process of dying. I join God in whatever He is doing by being a pray-er. My prayers do not make or break the situation, my prayers allow me to be a participant in God's work. My days and everyone else's days are numbered from before the foundation of the world.

If I should die, please don't say "her faith was weak," "she didn't forgive," " she didn't let go and let God." To honor my memory please say, "she looked forward to heaven and that's where she's gone."

"I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven." Philippians 3:14

"Since you've been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven..." Colossians 3:1