2010 goals

Runner

"Create the kind of life you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement."  Foster C. McClellan


If you've been reading this blog long, you probably already know that I'm passionate about self-improvement. Part of that is liking a challenge, but the bigger part is I get high on accomplishment. Accomplishments are to me what endorphins are to an athlete. I love to set a goal and work toward it.

 "All lasting inner change requires time "*

I know how discouraging it is to set a goal and fall flat. I've done it plenty of times. But somewhere along the way I figured out and internalized that moving in the right direction is good, really good. Now I can be happy making improvement even if I don't reach the goal.

"Daily incremental improvements produce lasting results which, in turn, lead to positive change."*

Back of roman
It's all in the baby steps. "Baby steps," remains my mantra.

"There is nothing noble about being superior to another person. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self."*

I'm competitive within myself. I like to break my own records. I love knowing that I'm getting better.

"We think about 60,000 thoughts a day. By writing your desires and goals on paper you send a red flag to your subconscious mind that these thoughts are far more important than the remaining 59,999 other ones."*

I think the key ingredients of the small measure of success I've enjoyed in reaching my goals is simply writing them down. This blog is a great resource for me in that way. There's always a record and that creates an element of accountability for me.

"The best time to plant a tree was 40 years ago. The second best time is today." Chinese proverb

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This quote is my favorite with respect to the physical body. It's hard to change a life-time of bad habits. It's hard to be encouraged by the loss of five pounds when you're 100 pounds overweight. It's hard to be pleased with walking around the block when you'd really like to be running a marathon.

Most of us didn't get a perfect start in this area but the only way we can change the pattern is to start fresh everyday and not focus on the past. Start fresh with small steps. Instead of saying today I'll only eat 1000 calories, saying today I will eat an apple for a snack.

Kaizen is a Japanese word that means improving every aspect of yourself ceaselessly and continuously.*

Evidently we don't have a similar word in English. So I've adopted this word, kaizen, as the state in which I want to live. I want to be headed in the right direction and improving all the time. That's the idea.

"Every arrow that hits the bull's eye is a result of 100 misses. Don't fear failure. Failure is your friend."*

In the spirit of that last quote, I'll now share my 2010 goals.

  • Begin every day with quiet time with God. 
  • Buy a new Bible.
  • Do my treadmill routine four times a week.
  • Have a regular date night with Gordon, every other week.
  • Have lunch with one of the girls once a week.
  • Keep a 5 pound weight at the computer and lift repeatedly as I surf.
  • Walk on my lunch break.
  • Make two dinners (one for later in the week, of course) on my Monday's off.
  • Have a Christmas party for Deborah and her friends making Christmas cookies and a craft.
  • For snacks at work, keep only apples or carrots on hand.
  • Run in a 5k.
  • Have a regular coffee date with my friend Lydia.
  • Take a yoga class.
  • Start buying 1% milk.
  • Mail a special gift to my siblings.
  • Get a new clothesline.
  • Ride bike to Morinville.
  • Get my hearing checked.
  • Get an eye exam.
  • Get an estimate for a gas insert for the fireplace.
  • Be a better friend.
  • Read all the BBC top 50.

My list isn't grandiose at all, is it? But it's keeps me headed in the right direction. It's the beginning of February, and I'm on track, and lovin' it.

* Taken from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, by Robin Sharma, one of my favorite books.


baby steps quote

I want to acknowledge that making changes in your life is never an easy task. The key, however, is not to get caught up in the distance you have to go to get to where you want to be. Nor should you despair over the amount of control you have over your circumstances. Progress is made in the small, intentional steps, and chances are, you have more power than you think. By focusing on little steps you can take every day, the progress you make will motivate you to continue your journey, and eventually, you can go wherever you want to go. The important thing is simply to begin.  ~~ Stephen Cherniske, M.S


thursday thirteen

 

As you know, I'm diligently striving to get fit. There are a number of resources that I've called on to help me in my numerous times of need. Among those are quotes of encouragement. I have these stuck on various places of my desk. I just counted them, and guess what, there are thirteen. Perfect for a Thursday Thirteen. I hope these encourage you like they do me.

1. It’s never too late to be what you might have been. – George Ernst

2. Every day that you do the right thing is one day closer to the results to want. – Jeff on My Super Charged Life.

3. And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln

4. Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently. – Henry Ford

5. Your outer world reflects your inner world.

6. The grace of God is with you no matter what happens. – 2 Peter 5:12

7. It’s better to wear out than to rust out. – Richard Cumberland

8. A boat is off course most of the time it’s enroute to its destination. But it still gets there. How? The navigator makes tiny adjustments constantly to get it where it’s meant to go. It’s not about making one big leap, rather tiny ones every day.

9. You are the creator of the life you want to live.

10. You are what you do.

11. The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs… one step at a time. – Joe Girand

12. May the God of peace who brought Jesus my LORD from the dead equip me with all I need for doing his will. May he produce in me, through the power of Jesus Christ all that is pleasing to him. – Hebrews 13:20, 21

13. We first make our habits and then our habits make us. – John Dryden

 

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self-esteem

 

"The subject of self-esteem is a topic that has generated a fair amount of controversy over the last few decades, but one thing seems clear: you don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling yourself how great you are, or even from other people telling you how great you are. You get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that you find estimable. In other words, the best way to feel better about yourself is to do something worthy of your own respect: keep a difficult resolution, meet a challenge, solve a problem, learn a skill, cross something unpleasant off your to-do list." - Gretchen Rubin

I read this little gem this morning on the happiness project. Great food for thought.

 

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what says love

These are some answers from 4-8 year old kids asked to define love. There's some good insight here.

When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.

Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.

Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.

Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him to make sure the taste is OK.

Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.

During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.

My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.

Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.

Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.

Love is when Mommy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross.

And a few from closer to home:

- When Gordon was in grade 5 or 6 he had a pair of purple plaid pants that he loved. A drop of bleach hit them turning them white in that little dot. With a marker, Gordon's mother colored that spot purple every time she washed those pants.

- When I was little and sick, I had to sit in a vaporizer mist. I sat in Daddy's lap and he sat in the mist with me because it scared me.

- Once I got really sick at the hospital at night. Mama came to the hospital and as she was running in she dropped her keys. She couldn't find them immediately so she just kept running. I was more important than her keys. I found out about it when a man who witnessed it brought the keys to my room.

- Once when Gordon's family was on a camping trip things went from bad to worse to worser. After a couple days of rain, Gordon's dad told everyone to get in the car. He packed them up by himself in the rain while everyone else got to sit in the dry car.

- Gordon feels loved when I touch him during an argument.

- Hannah feels loved when I sew for her.

- Rachael feels loved when she know she deserves a bigger discipline than she gets.

- Deborah feels loved when she gets taken on dates.


winston churchill quotes

1. The more knowledge we possess of the opposite point of view the less puzzling it is to know what to do.

2. You cannot deal with the most serious things in the world unless you also understand the most amusing.

3. When the cliche' "familiarity breeds contempt" was used in an argument against him, he thundered, "I would like to remind you that without a degree of familiarity we could not breed anything."

4. Never good with math, he called it, "the dismal bog of sums." (I love that.) As the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he nearly brought financial disaster on England, making one bad decision after another. Out of that position he said, "Everyone said I was the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer that ever was and now I am inclined to agree with them."

5. We are worms but I intend to be a glowworm.

6. When corrected for using a preposition at the end of a sentence he said, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put."

7. His nanny, whom he loved much, was very religious and trained him in Bible. In a math lesson he grew so frustrated that his recourse was to threaten to "bow down and worship graven images." (I think that is so clever and cute. Clearly his spunk and creativity was evident very early in life.)

8. Regarding a colleague, he quipped, "He is not in complete harmony with the normal."

9. Regarding a fellow Parliament member he said, "He has many good qualities, some of which lie hidden, and he has many bad qualities, all of which are in the shop window."

10. Following his humiliating defeat after the war, when asked to tour the country and let the people honor him he replied, "I refuse to be exhibited like a prize bull whose chief attraction is his past prowess."

11. After defeat, his wife consoled saying it was perhaps a blessing. He replied, "If it's a blessing, it is certainly very well disguised."

12. Nancy Astor and he had an ongoing strained relationship. Once she said, "If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee." Churchill responded, "Nancy, if I were your husband, I would drink it."

13. When asked if Niagara Falls looked the same as the last time he'd seen it, he was perturbed with the question and answered, "Well the principle seems the same. The water still keeps falling over."
 


a christmas story, by hannah

Scan20122 To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult every year. -- E. B. White

Is it everywhere or just the pagan city I live in? Christmas is so not a religious thing anymore. I have seen no front yard nativity scenes anywhere. None. Zero. Zilch. It was this way last year too and I told Gordon I wanted to have one made for our yard, but I never did. I wish I had carried through with that. Perhaps that should become one of my New Year's Resolutions. Yes, I think I'll include that. Surely I can pull that off if I try hard enough.

Last night I found a report that Hannah had to write for school about a true Christmas story at her house. It amused me. I didn't know this story had happened. It sounds just like my girls, but it surprised me still. I will write it out just like it reads in her story.

(Hannah and Rachael on our backyard rink, 2005)

010_10 (2) "I was 5 years old and it was 3:00 am Christmas morning and I was awake. I was very exited about Christmas and was eager to open preasents. I had been awake since 2:00 am. The rest of the family was in bed. I snuck out of bed and went to wake up Rachael. When I got to her room, she was already awake. "Rachael", I wispered so nobody would hear. Rachael answered, "Yes." "Are you exited about the preasence" I asked. "Yes" she said "lets go see." "ok" I said. We tiptoed to the living room and looked under the tree. There were so many presents. I took one of the presents under the tree that had my name on it and said, "I am going to open it if you won't tell. I won't tell if you open one of yours!" Ok I won't tell" she answered "and I'll take one too." She grabbed a present for herself and tor the rapping off, so did I. I had a book called The haunch Back of Notor Dam. "Cool" i said. Rachael had a pair of socks. They were green with red dots on them, "there so cute" rachael squeeled. The sock were cute. "Lets hid our things under the sofa so mom and dad won't see them" I said. "OK" Rachael said. "I wonder when everybody is going to wake up," Rachael asked. "I do not know" I replied. We went to look at the clock. It was 3:30. "They're not goin to be awake for a long time" Rachael said grimely. She looked at me and said, "Well see you later, I'm going to bed. are you?" "Yup, good night." Rachael went to her bed and I went to mine. I got all snuggled and warmed up and had a good night's sleep."

Big Smiles.

Christmas. A time for love, goodwill, peace on earth, lies, deception, and mendacity.


happy canadian thanksgiving

Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy. - Jacques Maritain

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving. People ask me often if my countries celebrate Thanksgiving the same way. Yes, they do, but it's a bigger deal in the US.

In my ideal world, our family celebrates both. Admittedly though, it's unusual for Gordon to have both days off, making it near impossible to celebrate both. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and because of that, I do make a bit of effort to pull off two celebrations.

One of our traditions, and one that I look forward to from year to year, is our prayer of thanks before we eat. We go around the table thanking God for the things that mean the most to us. It's simple, but very meaningful.

Every Thanksgiving, I set aside some time to write out things I'm most thankful for. I could write for hours about those things, but I only want to write about one, and it will cover a lot of ground.

I am thankful I'm a child of God. Because I'm a child of God, I cannot lose. Everything that has happened, is happening, will happen, is for my good. With each passing day this mantra becomes more solidified in my heart: All things are working for my good. (Romans 8:28) If I really believe this, which I do, how could I be anything less than grateful? It's a spiritual principle that never ceases to awe me.

I'm thankful for all the redemption I've experienced in my life. Again and again I've seen God use the horrible messes in my life to bring me into greater truth and deeper faith. And in many of my personal tragedies I can see clearly that God was protecting me from me. Just to name a few:

- Pregnant before marriage at 18. It was to that point the most devastating thing in my life. Now I look back and think "Thank You God," because I realize many things I was probably spared. I was on a dangerous path. Through pregnancy, God barricaded that path and I'm so thankful He did. (Bonus, I got Stephanie). But it was one of the darkest, hardest times of my life.

- Bipolar Disorder. Oh how I hate depression, but it's been another unlikely tool God has used in my life to transform me. My weakness and fragility keeps me from taking on too much, which in turn keeps me totally engaged in being a wife, mother, and homemaker. This combination has made for a rich home life. (To those for whom that was news, medication keeps me on the level).

- Financial problems. From them spawned my immense gratitude for what we have and the recognition that I could have much less and still have way more than needed. Through financial problems I came to see my own materialistic way of thinking and how that mindset is so opposed to gratitude.

(Stephanie, Christopher, me and Booper 1992)
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- Losing custody of Stephanie and Christopher takes the prize for the most horrific time in my life. I still cannot understand, much less articulate, what all happened in the spirit world through that whole process, nor what continues to happen. But again, I see I was protected from myself and Stephanie and Christopher were too. Through that wilderness journey, I lost all control of my life and learned a new dependence on God.

Years ago at a Billy Graham Crusade, pointing to her wheelchair, quadriplegic Joni Erickson Tada, told the crowd, "This is the prison that set me free." That so resonates with me. Losing Stephanie and Christopher, by far the hardest thing ever in my life, was the prison that set me free. God totally broke me and remade me a new person.

- Through all of the above trials, my ugly propensity of pride and arrogance have been weakened. I've learned a humble life is much easier than a proud one.

So today, I again recognize how thankful I am for everything I've listed above. They were all used to teach me another element of who God is and how much He loves me. He will stop at nothing to bring me closer to Him. Rich Mullins said, "It's the reckless raging fury, that they call the love of God." His love can indeed look like a reckless raging fury. But it's love nonetheless.

smile

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" (I have no idea who originally penned that).

When I was pregnant with Deborah, I developed allergies. My sinus area would sting for days. Instead of taking medication, I implemented my own home remedy. I stuffed my nose with toilet paper wads that stuck out my nose like walrus tusks. It was an effective remedy, albeit one that made me very thirsty (breathing through one's mouth all the time does that) and less than attractive.

Self-conscious when I look like a walrus, I only wore my toilet paper when I was home alone with my children. They thought it was really funny. One day Gordon arrived home from work and I met him at the door, totally forgetting about my walrus tusks. He looked at me and said, "Wooooe, Sexxxxy."

success

Success, according to Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better,
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

happy birthday stephanie

(Me and Stephie Pooh, 1985. A glorious day.)
046_46 When you were born, everybody was smiling and you were crying. Live your life so that when you die, you're smiling and everyone around you is crying.- Old Indian saying

21 years ago today our world became richer. Stephanie Elise gushed painfully into our world at 7:05 in the morning. She weighed 8 pounds 12 ounces and had dark black hair. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I loved her with all my heart from the first moment I laid eyes on her. Soon after her birth I cross-stitched a poem entitled, Daughter. It read: "God never loved me in so sweet a way as when he brought you to me and said, Behold your Daughter." All the emotions that swelled in me were profoundly powerful. God's love for me suddenly became more real. My mother's love for me became more tangible. My love for Stephanie, I had no words for. It was the most full, satisfying, self-sacrificing, sweet thing I ever knew.

When she was five nights old, a crack of thunder woke her. Her lips quivered as she cried. It was my first bittersweet moment of motherhood. I was sad that she was startled so rudely by nature, but glad to know for sure she wasn't deaf. A 19-year-old mom isn't the brightest star in the sky and I had wondered if she could hear me when I talked and sang to her. After that evening, I had one less burden to bear. I knew she could hear.
 
076_76(1986)
When she was just starting to walk, she fell on the sidewalk in front of Union Mission Church. It was her first injury. Her lip bled and swelled up and once her crying subsided, she kept sticking her tongue out to feel her swollen lip. I cradled her for a long time as she recuperated from her trauma and I cried longer than she did. Once she regained her equilibrium - she had just discovered that life wasn't always perfect - her swollen lip was her badge of honor. She cranked her neck outward to make her swollen lip obvious as she showed everyone her battle scar.
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She started singing hymns as soon as she could talk, as I always sang hymns to her when I rocked her. Once while visiting her Papaw Jack, she picked up a cloth and started rubbing his coffee table singing, "Dust and Obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to dust and obey."

There was a very old lady in our lives named Grace. Once as I rocked her she asked me to sing "Amazing Stoobie." Stoobie was what she called Steve Tannehill. I was puzzled but she cleared up my confusion by saying, "That song you sing about Miss Grace, sing it about Stoobie." She had a gift for making others smile. She still does.

When Stephanie had her first nightmare, she came running down the hall, looking over her shoulder as she ran, screaming that a bumble-bee was chasing her. I went into charismatic rant rebuking Satan and telling him he couldn't do that to my baby. My theology was cloudy, but my mothering instinct was clear as a bell.
(Grade 2)
Stephanie had her own quirky words and to this day I still use some of them. She called gloves, glubs. She combined slick and slippery to form the word slickery. When she saw something cute she said, "Isn't that adorablish?"
063_63 (Grade 9)

Once after her six-year-old cousin CJ slept over I found a pair of his Superman underwear. I put them in her drawer for the next time CJ over-nighted. When she discovered them in her drawer, she sped determinedly to our room. She went straight to Kent's underwear drawer and as she stuffed CJ's undies into it, she dramatically said, "That Daddy, he is such a silly boy putting his panties in my drawer."

Stephanie, dear dear Stephanie, of all my children, definitely takes the cake on having embarrassed me the most times. Stephanie used to think it and say it at the same moment. If it entered her mind, it came out her mouth. With her nose wrinkled in disgust, she asked a young man with a serious acne condition, "Why do you have all those bumps on your face?" Another time she asked a friend with crooked teeth, "How come your teeth are so bended?" At a restaurant in Hot Springs, as our black waiter poured our tea she very seriously asked, "Mama is that a black man?"
At a ladies' meeting one evening, she went up to a legless lady in a wheelchair, propped her hands on her hips and demanded, "Where are your shoes?" The room hushed. Finally someone spoke, "Valerie, isn't that your daughter?" At that moment everyone wanted it to be clear Stephanie that was not their daughter.
That night no one was trying to claim her, but if they could see her and know her now, they'd be so impressed. She is a young lady of upstanding character and goodness. She is beautiful, truly beautiful from the inside out. Everyone who knows her surely must love her. She has sown much love and joy into her family.

May God keep my sweet Stephanie in His great big loving hands. Happy Birthday Stephanie. I love you.

lifelong learner, i am

"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything." Laurence Sterne

I have a number of interests. More than I can name.
 
(Hannah making her 4th birthday cake, 2000)
 
Scan20178 Since Rachael's first birthday, it's been a family tradition that the birthday girl decorates her own cake with only a little guidance from Mom. Well it so happens that the girls have bumped up against my own cake decorating knowledge so I can no longer help them develop new skills. This has been bugging me for a couple years.

A few nights ago I went to Safeway and saw a help wanted sign in the bakery. I thought the following selfish, self-centered thought: "If I work here, they'll teach me to decorate cakes AND they'll pay me to learn." I came home and ran it past Gordon. He reluctantly agreed to my applying.

This morning I went in to pick up an application. Scan20179Surprisingly, the lady wanted to interview me right there. I told her I wanted to learn cake decorating. She hired me on the spot and I start next Wednesday. Gordon and I are both nervous about what kind of hours I'll get as it can't cut into the "family life." I still have my other job, and hopefully will not have to work more than 10 hours a week in the bakery. I'm so excited to learn cake decorating -- and to think I'll get paid to learn something I've been wanting to learn for a couple years.

Yippee.

mother teresa and tom fox

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature -- trees, flowers, grass -- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~~ Mother Teresa

Mother Theresa is my modern-day hero. I love a number of things Mother Teresa said. This particular quote I read today for the first time. It reminds me of how wonderful she was.
 
The body of a peace-loving American activist was found in Iraq. Tom Fox died for what he believed was right. I admire that and want to be that committed. He wrote a paper before he went to Iraq saying: "But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked to risk my life, and if I lose it, to be as forgiving as they were when murdered by the forces of Satan."

Fox's friend, John Surr, said Fox felt his calling in Iraq was worth the potential risk. "He was willing to go in there at all costs."

"At all cost." I want to be that committed. May God help me.

growing older under mrs lindberg's tutelage

I just finished reading Anne Morrow Lindberg's book called Gift From the Sea. From her book, one would never know of her accomplishments. Married to Charles Lindberg, the famous aviator, I was surprised to learn through an internet search that she accompanied him on his historic flights. She too had a well-established career in science and technology. If I had these accomplishments to my benefit, you can be sure I would find a way to bring them into my book. I was impressed by her humility and her femininity.

Her book, Gift From the Sea, (she wrote a number of books, but this one was her most well-known work) is a contemplative, slow-moving, thoughtful look at life and the cycles life brings. She explores different sea shells and draws lessons from those shells. It is definitely not a book for the easily bored or fast-paced reader. I read it twice. The first time I slogged through a few pages at a time and it took me months to finish. After the first read, which wasn't exactly pleasurable, I had a good idea of the book's purpose and overview and was able to then re-read it and appreciate the slowness of pace.

She thoughtfully explores the stages and cycles of life -- particularly a woman's life, and concludes that each stage is worthwhile. "Each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid. And my shells?... They are only there to remind me that the sea recedes and returns eternally."

Toward the end of her book, she explores middle age, the empty nest, and growing older. She writes, "All the inner and outer explorations a woman has done earlier in life pays off when she reaches the abandoned shell (the empty nest). One has to come to term with oneself not only in a new stage but new role... woman must come of age by herself - she must find her true center alone. The lesson seems to need re-learning about every 20 years of a woman's life... Middle age," she writes, "like adolescence can be looked upon as a second flowering."

The book encouraged me to glean as much as possible from each stage of my life. Doing so will help prepare me for my future. One who accepts and embraces her circumstances and stage becomes better prepared for the next stage of her journey.

Intrigued by Anne Morrow Lindberg, I looked into her life a little. Her wisdom and depth didn't come easily to her. Her and Charles's first born child was kidnapped from their home as he slept. He was 20 months old. After weeks of searching, his badly decomposed body was found.

Her pain, like the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, forged its way through her. It left a magnificent scar, but produced something beautiful. She was the kind of woman I would like to be; wise, gracious, deep, thoughtful, and creative.

i'm in love

(Gordon and me, 1993)
086_86Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. -- C. S. Lewis

Love doesn't just sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new. -- Ursula K. LeGuin

The love we have in our youth is superficial compared to the love that an old man has for his old wife. -- Will Durant

I woke this morning to my husband's valentines to all his ladies. Rachael, Deborah, Hannah, and I had our little gifts of chocolates and cards waiting for us on the kitchen counter. It's a delightful way to wake up. I'll take Hershey's Hugs and Kisses for breakfast any day. 

Gordon is a good husband, father and friend. I am very thankful for him. I appreciate his intelligence, his commitment to God and his family, his consistency, his perseverance, his integrity, and his wisdom.

Isn't there a song called, "I'd Choose You Again"? Well my timing would be different a second time around, but I'd definitely choose Gordon again.

quotes of the day

God does not waste an ounce of our pain or a drop of our tears; suffering doesn't come our way for no reason, and He seems especially efficient at using what we endure to mold our character. -- Frank Peretti

I have had prayers answered--most strangely so sometimes--but I think our heavenly Father's loving-kindness has been even more evident in what He has refused me. -- Lewis Carroll

There's nothing like a good crisis to increase my energy and remind me how much I need God. -- Anne Christian Buchanan

the sea

"Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choice-less as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I read that a few days ago and I've been thinking about it. Just as I can't tell the sea what sea shell to bring me, I can't tell the day what to give me. I can't dictate sunshine and a warm breeze. I can't demand only good things come in the mail. I can't legislate that only pleasant things come my way today. But I can be receptive and open to whatever washes up on my beach of life. I can even view whatever washes up as a gift. I can greet each day with the attitude of expectation.

I want to become more open to the gifts from the sea of life.

nature and the present

(My humble little garden, 2005. When I accepted that I'd probably never get a little farm, I adopted Bessie, my cow. As far as cows go, she's pretty low maintenance.)
Garden 
In 1875 John Muir asked "what is the human's part in the mountain's destiny?" I read that question last night and took a little bit of time to think about it. I remembered what Wordsworth said, "Let nature be your teacher," and Psalm 19, "The heavens tell of the glory of God." I suppose everyone could have a different answer for John Muir's question, but for me, the answer is simple. Nature can teach me about and point me to the glory of God. I very much desire to be a good student in God's classroom of nature.

Annie Dillard wrote, "I have experienced the present purely through my senses." The "present" has much to offer. Right now, I'm at my picnic table enjoying the birds, the sunshine, the trees. This is my favorite way to begin a day. My trusty coffee mug, Bible, notebook, and most of all, an attitude of quiet and stillness to capture the present. My greatest enemy during my morning quiet time is getting caught up thinking about the work that needs to be done out here; the garage needs paint, the garden has weeds, the grass needs mowing, the feeders need bird seed. It is a constant mind battle to train myself to refocus when I start thinking about those things instead of what God wants to show me in His creation.

I'm nearly 40. I so regret that I didn't learn to appreciate nature with all my senses 20-30 years ago. But unfortunately this lesson is a relatively new one to me.

Everything I love about nature, I realize now, is grace. Anything "grace" is undeserved, unearned, and unmerited. Grace is "bonus." All the birds have a different song. That's grace. God could have easily given them no song or made them all have the same song. I'm thankful for the gift of grace in the songs of the birds.

In bloom in my garden right now are yellow day lilies, purple cornflower, white irises, deep pink peonies. God chose to give us multiple colors to enjoy. That's grace.

Psalms 66:4 "Everything on earth will worship you: they will sing your praises, shouting your name in glorious songs." What is my part in the mountain's destiny? or the birds', trees', flowers' destiny? My part is to follow their lead and worship the Creator with them.

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 even though 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 equals fewer mosquito bites. It works! I'm bummed by my new dress code, but I'm enjoying the victory of accepting this tiny creature.

(This is my lovely front porch view)
Front porch view I'm sitting on my front porch hoping to be inspired by a nature lesson. I can't boast an idyllic lake 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. 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's 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 two 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" 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 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.

Interesting News Quips

On CBC.Edmonton this week, I read about the tragic death of a young prostitute. The cause of her death hasn't yet been released, but her body was burned as was the patch of earth around her dead body. The last line of the news article was, "The police are calling her death suspicious." I was tempted to write a letter to the editor to say, "You reckon?"

I also read an ironic piece of news. The largest abortion clinic in the city is closing its doors. It will reopen under the same staff as a different medical practice. Guess what it will be! A fertility clinic specializing in in-vitro fertilization. Isn't that an irony of ironies?

"...only by journeying all the way to the river, where it swirls and rumbles and still carves its way through some of the oldest rocks on earth, can you fully appreciate the work of the two great architects of the Grand Canyon, time and the flowing river."

That's a beautiful quote by Francois Leydet. I would argue that it is seriously flawed though. How about this: "only by journeying all the way to the river, where it swirls and rumbles and still carves its way through some of the oldest rocks on earth, can you fully appreciate the work of the two servants of the Great Architect of the Grand Canyon, time and the flowing river."

"What one finds...will be what one takes the trouble to look for." Joseph Wood Krutch

quotes

"May the outward and inward man be at one." Socrates

"The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask." Anne Morrow Lindberg

"More of us in America [and I add Canada] than anywhere else in the world have the luxury of choice between simplicity and complication of life. And for the most part, we, who could choose simplicity, choose complication..... But if one accidentally finds it (simplicity), one finds also the serenity it brings." Anne Morrow Lindberg

"Ask how little, not how much, can I get along with. To say --is it necessary?--when I am tempted to add one more accumulation to my life." Anne Morrow Lindberg

I love each of these quotes. I desire to be a person who chooses simplicity, to think how little can I get away with, rather than how much can I accumulate. God help me counter my culture and my flesh.

family and movies

016_16 (2)(Diane, me, Stacie, Mama, Michael, Daddy. 1980)

I just got off the phone with my sister Stacie. She's been way too busy and I've missed our regular talks. We have a delightfully fun relationship. There's much to be said for sharing a family of origin. Families share a common style of communication, body language, insecurities, and even humor. My siblings and I do and say stuff regularly that would require an explanation to an outsider. I know other families are the same.

Stacie and I share an idiosyncratic bond in that we often quote movies, and occasionally a book, to drive a point home.
 
When we don't really get along with a person, "There's a wall." (The Emperor's New Groove).

When someone gets what they deserve, "There's a price you pay for the life you choose." (The Godfather).

When we are in circumstances that put us way out of our comfort zone, "I just came here to worship, but this is the wrooong denomination." (The Out of Towners).

When things are going poorly, "We have no food, we have no money, our birds' heads keep falling off." (Dumb and Dumber).

When we've had the opportunity to express our heartfelt opinion, we may end it with, "And that's all I've got to say about the Vietnam War." (Forest Gump).

When one of us has a secret, "I am the soul of discretion." (Sense and Sensibility).

When things leave us at the end of our rope, "Damn that octopus." (Portofino).

My kids are picking up on this silly way of communicating. We picked up some "I Love Lucy" videos at the library recently. A few days later Rachael wasn't feeling too great. She said, "I feel dowdy. You know, kind of blah." I knew exactly where her expression came from.

The quirky tradition continues to another generation.
 

walden

I'm still reading Walden and finding it challenging and thought provoking. Henry David Thoreau says: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach...I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so steadily and Spartan-like as to rout all that was not life... to drive life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms.... Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be 2 or 3, and not 100 or 1000." I like that.