SEASONS OF OUR LIFE

The leaves on the trees which line our lane are starting to fall.  The wind has whipped them off and they lay like a golden shroud on the frost-tipped grass.

Winter waits…its time is near.

There are some pluses though;  with the trees eventually bare I will be able to see the mountains on a clear day.  Like the Promised Land, I know they are there and will just have to wait for God’s time to reveal them.

The tress look half dressed with bits of their autumn finery still clinging to them.  They seem reluctant to accept their coming nakedness.

I sit with my Max Lucado book in my lap. I’m supposed to be preparing my Friday Bible Study but I am pondering  the changes in nature and the changes in my life.

I saw my best friend Mary the other day.  She had moved into a Seniors Residence a year or so ago and I miss her.  She is a “listener” and I am a “talker”; we make a good team.  When she first left our condo, I was heartbroken and arrived at her new home teary-eyed.  But now things are easier. Her life has changed somewhat and so has mine.  The new lady in her condo and I have become friends.  But Mary will always have a special place in my heart.

The ongoing ‘march’ of the seasons changes a lot of things…nature moves along and so must we.  Change can be bitter sweet with winter setting to sleep the garden and grasses, but spring will soon return and satisfy our hope for the planted seeds and sunshine …all reminding us of God’s continuing plan for all of us.

Life mimics the seasons of nature and like the planted seed, we grow, flourish and then go to our winter place of rest.  But the road traveled is exciting and God shines on every aspect of our journey.

I see His hand in all these changes.  Both the seasons of nature and the seasons of life are so full of promise.  So, I accept those things like deeper wrinkles, turning up the sound on the TV remote and driving during less busy hours.  I pray for the wisdom to keep trusting Him in whatever lies ahead. He has always been a faithful friend and who knows what special plans he has for me tomorrow.

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LOVE LETTERS

I lifted the heavy, black binder from the box and set it on the table nearby.  I hadn’t looked in it for years.  It holds love letters…no, not from my husband, they are in another place.  These are love letters from my granddaughter.

We started this exchange in 2004 when she first went into University.  I was anxious for her to know that I was truly interested in what changes were going on in her life and that she was constantly in my prayers.

Initially, I did most of the writing, but gradually as life became fuller for her she shared a great deal with me.  Like a weekly movie there was an installment almost every weekend and she would tell me about her activities.  How I loved those emails and still love them although they are few and far between now a days.

She now has her Doctorate in Health Sciences so I have shared with her this achievement.  It has taken many years of commitment.

I recall one of Rich Warren’s CD’s when he said how he loved it when his little daughter would come and talk to him and ask him to tie her shoes…and I just loved it when my granddaughter (who stayed every summer with us) would share with me what was going on in her world.  Then, I could help her physically with things like tying her shoes.  Through the years I have mostly listened but we have discussed all kinds of things.  Some day all this correspondence will sit on her shelves and she will recall with fondness (I hope) all those years and all that sharing.

I am sure I am quoting all grandparents out there if I say, “If you thought your children were a delight…just wait for your grandchildren.” Somehow the memories they light up in your mind enrich your Senior years more than any others.  There is a remarkable bond between these two generations.

Writing is such a part of my life…and those little emails of the past were a journal  of  a lot of living.

Obviously God felt that writing a journal  was a good idea too or we wouldn’t have those wonderful Scriptures telling us all about those Biblical characters and their journeys of faith.   I thank God for my Bible and for those who traveled the same road hundreds of years ago and were passionate about sharing their beliefs.  They have laid the foundations of Christianity for all of us to build upon.

 

SIGNS IN THE SKY

My friend Paula is an expert on “end times” information and yes, with all that is going on in the world today, you can read a lot into the question “are these the end times?”  I am not an “end times” expert…and have not delved deeply into all the scriptural information on the subject as she has, so I listen and don’t let it worry me too much.  As scripture says “even the angels in heaven” don’t know.

But certainly in northern Alberta there are obvious signs around of change.  Someone once said to me “you can smell the money in Grande Prairie, when you drive in.”  And she wasn’t talking about the smell of oil, although it does impact on the economy, but the little town of 8,000 in 1963 has grown to over 60,000.  That shows!  There are new subdivisions that I have never seen and would probably get lost in anyway.  The view from the top of the hill on the west highway is not of a road and a few buildings…it is now smothered in buildings and the quiet pastures that once were there are now plastered with stores like Cosco and Walmart and all the Shopping areas that surround them.

Good things are happening also…a new Hospital (we hope opening next year) new schools and we are already enjoying so much our new Library.  Prosperity has its own perks.  Churches are bigger (well the “Praise Parishes” are).  The faithful at Forbes (where I attend) fill their own place in the community, serving the Seniors who sit in the pews; welcoming with open arms those younger families, whom they cherish and watch grown through the years.  The little baby my husband once played peek-a-boo with during the service, (I could see him from my place in the choir, and kept scowling at him,) is now a grown up young lady.  Time marches on and as I count up my years I realize what a blessing to have experienced all the changes in the church, in my home town and in my own family.
A recent email sent me, showed how many American Presidents the Queen has gone through in her years on the throne.  I was amazed and then laughed.  I too have gone through all those Presidents.

I took my morning walk and was just about back to the front door when I heard the call of wild geese, and yes, there they were, a small flock heading to the lake.  They will soon be going south.

I have had a bad week…water in the garage (the roofers had messed up) couldn’t locate the water turn off valve in the basement, (hidden behind some pipes) and I had burned a dozen banana muffins (so what is new?) Yet, the anxiety was washed away as I watched those geese fly over.  I smiled.  God is always send me messages and certainly this sign in the sky was telling me that he had ordered my life in a special way for a special reason and as he watches over the birds of the air he would watch over me…he is the author of life and I too was part of his plan.

 

BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

Now there is a line that strikes terror into the hearts of seniors…we are constantly being advised to get our affairs in order “before it is too late”…get rid of all those antique clothes in the closet (the kids are only going to throw them out anyway)…same thing about all those knick-knacks that hold so many precious memories for you but mean nothing to them.  Just try getting a family member to take your good china…they don’t want it…and the list goes on.

Trying to get out of this world in a tidy manner, takes a lot of fussing.  I found that out after my husband died; never had there been so much paper on the dining room table.  It seemed every department of the federal and provincial government needed proof of this and proof of that.

All that fuss sent me to the local Funeral Parlor with a cheque in hand. “Please, cremate me and let me set out a few practical suggestions and let me go gently. ” I said to them.  I believe my will is in order so no one will have to spend hours talking to people all over Canada about my finances.  Hopefully I have looked after most of my affairs…”Before it is too late.”

I have now outlived my mother by nearly 15 years and my father by 26.  I bumped (gently) into a 95 year old lady at a nursing home, the other day, who was sharp as a tack.  It takes all the fear out of living to a really old age, when you see someone like that…she was waiting to go shopping with her niece.  We were serving pies at her lodge and she decided she could put off the shopping for a bit and have a piece of pie.  She has lived long enough to get her priorities in the right order…pie first, shopping later!

I find that if there is no wind and the sun is shining, the laundry can wait a bit while I take a stroll around the condo complex and that nothing is as important as time spent with family or friends.  This has taken me a few years to accept.  At that matter I always was a multi-task person, but baking cookies and vacuuming rugs more often resulted in burned cookies.

I find my faith journey has had a few bumps but I hope I am on the right track and my relationship with God is good.  This mornings meditation at the front window was a bit glum…such a gorgeous sunset last night and grey skies this morning.  Then a flock of geese flew over; signs of my heavenly Father’s presence.  If he can see to it that the geese fly south each Fall, he will look after me.   Suddenly there was sunlight in my soul and the grey skies no longer depressed me.

Yesterday, I had to throw out some bread…I hate throwing out food but it had sat on the counter too long and showed some mold.  I should have frozen part of the loaf, but it was “Too late.”  My car needs “winterizing”.  The good weather has deceived me into thinking all is fine but there is a ‘freezing’ warning out for tonite.  I hope I haven’t waited “Too late.”

One thing I do know is that regardless of the many errors I am loved by the Lord and I am so thankful for all those people who have influenced me and helped me claim him as my Savior…”Before it was too late.”

 

WINDOWS OF THE SOUL

When our new church was built in 1978 we put in the very special glass-stained window that had been originally installed in the old church in 1940.  It is of Jesus knocking at the door and it is beautiful!

There was much concern whether it should be installed on the street wall.  Would it be safe? Wouldn’t it be better to keep it inside where we could watch over it and keep it from harm?

Like anxious parents we asked all these questions.  We had in our hands something precious.  Did we have the courage to share it with others or would we hide our light under a bushel?  It sure seemed a lot safer on an inside wall.

Finally the decision was made to put it on the street wall for everyone to enjoy, not just the congregation.  But, we would put over it a clear, non penetrable cover that would ensure its safely.

So for years we have entered the church, and viewed this beautiful work of art and perhaps have taken it for granted.  Then, one Sunday we noticed that it had darkened.  No light shone through and the form of Jesus had blurred into the whole of the picture.

Our Minister explained that yes, someone had attempted to throw part of the nearby fire hydrant through the window.  (Don’t you wonder why?  Such anger, such fear, such an unhappy soul…no answers to questions like that.)

The cover saved the window.  Praise God!

But until a new cover is made, those on the street outside will not view the window, nor will those inside.  It is in darkness covered by outside boards.

So often we are in darkness.  Death of a loved one, destruction of one’s dreams and financial disaster often place us in darkness.   These events can destroy us…but not if we are leaning “on the everlasting arms.”  God has promised to never leave or forsake us and if we will just trust Him and his time line we will find that hiding under the boards in our lives in the face of Jesus.  For a while we have needed a cover to protect and help us through tough times.  But there will come a time, when He will remove that cover and again the light of the Lord will shine on our faces.

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…..If you would like to read previously published blogs of Pat’s. You can find them on the web site of The Presbyterian Record. The magazine has ceased publication but you can just click on my name and access all of my earlier blogs.

 

 

RUNNING A MOTEL

Actually the Motel ran me, for it was a 24/7 operation, but the experience taught me a lot and I was able to work out of my home which was a blessing as my youngest hadn’t started school yet.

When asked to take on the job, I could hardly stop from say, “Yes, please.”  My husband was without work and our savings account was pretty low.  Little did I realize that the job would take over my whole life.

We occupied the one two-bedroom unit and the rest were up for grabs.  A few families lived there but mostly it was over-nighters and most of them were remarkably clean and kind.  The truckers especially were a good bunch, in late and out early.  It was easy and fast to strip the beds, clean the bathrooms and wash the floor.  No mess, no bother.

But there were other instances like what you read about in stories…folks evading the law (and the police on my doorstep with photos) and angry husbands looking for unfaithful  wives.  The latter involved the police, a trip to the hospital, broken glass and a very subdued man when I marched him to the office like I was an Amazon (I weight about 104 pounds).  I guess he knew better than to mess with me.

But each Sunday morning the “No Vacancy” sign went up and our family slipped down to the little church a few blocks away.  Those were truly special moments…moments that were cherished, that were normal, and that brought us closer together as a family.  They were our best moments of the week.  Our two girls sat beside us and listened as we sang the hymns.  For that hour no one else could claim our attention.   It was just us and the Lord.

The rest of the week was a nightmare as I cleaned units, did all the laundry, fed my family and even taught a CGIT class once a week.  The CGIT girls thought it was a novelty having their meetings in the Motel.

I learned about the varieties of people that occupy this world.  There was a different group living beside me every night and 99%of them were really decent…at least in the ’60’s’ in the far north, they were.

A year later my husband got work south of town and we moved and started a new life but I never forgot my years as a Motel manager.  But my best memory is of the four of us, sitting on a hard pew, in a tiny church, praising God and so thankful for this one hour of special time together.

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS

We lived in Germany from 1955 to 1958.  Those were years I will never forget…It was a horrendous trip over by ship with me constantly throwing up and the fog horn blowing continuously.  Worse was the fact that I knew the trip was going to have to be repeated three years later on our return to Canada.

A train ride from Le Havre, where we had landed, took us to Germany and God truly blessed us as my husband’s relatives were also stationed at the Air Base that was our destination.  With their tender care, I finally recovered.

But we didn’t want to wear out our welcome and finally found one room is a house built entirely from bombed out bricks.  The city had been leveled by the Canadian Air Force ten years earlier…how ironic that it should be the Peace Time Canadian Air Force that too would live in these bombed-out remains.

Later, we decided to get in touch with some of Harry’s German relatives.  What a delight to meet his elderly Aunt and to hear Harry speak to her in his very child-like German he had learned at his grandmother’s knee.  The air was filled with love and a special kind of bonding took place.  It was remarkable to see this happening right before my eyes.

We met her granddaughter who was engaged and we innocently asked when  the wedding was to take place. “When she gets pregnant,” was the reply.

Now that was not the answer I had expected, after all this was 1955 and certainly not Canadian values.  But it was said with such sincerity by this deeply Christian lady that I just batted my eyes a couple of times and that was that.

It seems an engagement in Germany was a very legal arrangement in those days and their responsibilities and ‘freedoms’ were a little different than ours.

I have the same problem sorting out things in the Bible…what is moral law, what is traditional law, how do they agree or disagree with Canadian law?  It is a puzzlement.  And nowadays the standards that were once set are changing so rapidly that it scares the daylights out of most Seniors.  I see some good things happening but I don’t see more happy people and I wonder what the results of all this will be.  I wonder what kind of world my great-grandchildren are inheriting.  I think grandparents have experienced the same dilemma since the beginning of time.

I thank God that He is present in all of this and will not forsake these little ones that we hold so dear…but occasionally my heart aches and I pray again…God bless and keep them and help them to make our Canada better in all respects.

 

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