LOOKING BACK

I know when you look at me you see a short, wrinkled, white haired lady, but I am far more than flesh and bones.  I am a composite of hundreds of stories and so are you.  Life is an accumulation of stories, some sad but many of them with contented moments.

One advantage of being “long in the tooth”…where did that expression come from?…is that the list of stories goes way, way back.  Take a moment and think of your first memory, then move up through the years.  It is a fascinating adventure, seeing what has truly impacted on your life…and it usually isn’t the big events.  Oh yes, a wedding, the birth of your babies and your new house…the list goes on, are all wonderful but the little things often light up your life.

It still astounds me that at the age of seven I realized that words make stories.  I can still see the desk I was sitting in…my feet not nearly touching the floor, the book in front of me and the room with Aa Bb Cc Dd etc. printed in block letters at the top of the blackboard.  That moment is still so precious to me…words, words, like the pallet in a artist’ box, words that could be painted across the page, telling a story.  WOW! who was to know that it would be almost 80 years later that I would be sitting in front of a computer screen reading my e-mails and writing this to you.

To those who are waiting for their dreams to come true, take heart!

An example is that nasty kid in Grade 9, who teased me and told me my new dress looked like curtain material.  Who would have known we would marry seven years later and have fifty-four wonderful years together.  Doesn’t God’s plans just blow your mind?

And who could have known when I sang that first solo in church,”Can a little child like me” that it would mark the beginning of decades of singing in churches.

Because of our Travel agency I was able to see so much of the world and yet it is not those fascinating sights that invade my memory now, rather it is the smaller things…bending over my tiny daughter, whispering good night and her little hand reaching up to touch the glittering sparkles I had put in my hair.(We were going to a fancy-dress event).

Or, watching my youngest do the broad-jump at a high school tract meet, reminding me of all the cheer-leading I had done years before.  There was so much joy in flying through the air. It was a moment I could relate to very well.

Yes, so many moments, but one stands out very strong…it was the moment I sat Bible in hand and felt God’s presence in my bedroom.  We had always been in touch in a less personal way but that moment I will never forget…it has guided every step I have taken since…and I was only twelve years old.

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BEING SCRUBBED CLEAN

When we were posted  in Germany from 1955-58, with the Air Force, life was not easy, especially the first eighteen months.  The town had been bombed to bits by the Canadians during the war and here we were ten years later trying to ‘keep the peace’ and living in as wretched conditions as many of the German civilians were.

For those eighteen months, we slept in a single bed..it was a cozy arrangement but my husband was prone to leg cramps and I got some nasty kicks sometimes.  No hot water, no central heating, a coal fire in the kitchen to keep us warm and a scrubbing board hanging on the wall.  Those were the days of cloth diapers and our baby was just four months old…get the picture?

I often think of that scrubbing board…up and down and up and down.  The baby caught whooping cough at ten months…scary!  I became dreadfully ill with asthma and then we finally got into married quarters…it was like heaven on earth.  Yes, life was up and down and up and down like the scrubbing board.

Since then, like many of you, I have weathered various storms, moved many times, been broke, comfortable (but never affluent) and in all this took “my scrubbing”. In retrospect I can find reasons for all of what happened and certainly I have ‘grown’ through the process but at the time I wasn’t looking to be cleaned up.  I just wanted to get out of the wash tub (trouble) and get on with my life.

God really scrubbed me down with Harry’s death.  I wondered at times if there would be anything left of me, but the warm water of His love carried me and I can see a learning curve in the whole process.

So, if you are being “scrubbed” right now, do not despair.  Hopefully soon, the scrub-board can go back on the wall and you will better see what God’s plans are for your life.

ABOUT BIRTHDAYS

This week we are celebrating my daughter’s birthday’s.  No they are not twins, they were just born the same day two years apart.  I am not sure if the eldest felt the youngest WAS a birthday present…actually they get along quite well.

This time  the party will be held in The Party Room, here at my new residence.  No more cakes made by Mom…those days are gone forever, so a cake has been bought and I have cards made by a resident (she is so gifted) and have gifts for each girl…strange gifts but they are part of their heritage.  One is a photo of some dairy cows in a field.  They are part of the past, for they are the dairy farm my grandfather owned in England.  The photo must be over 100 years old.  It will go to my eldest as she has five grandchildren…maybe it will be cherished by one of them.   The other is a painting.  A very old painting and the frame with attest to that…it is very heavy.  My youngest daughter is a bit of an artist herself and will love it I am sure.

One year for their birthday I bought them two enormous chocolate bars and decorated them with faces and hats.  I think I had more fun making them than they did eating them.

Birthdays were a big thing when I was a child and I tried to make it a ‘big thing’ for my girls but things change and these small gifts and cards will have to suffice this time.  Our times together now are short and sweet and after coffee and store bought cake they will go their way.

Things change through the years and I no longer make all the decisions about birthdays as I did when they were small.  I am reminded of John 21:18 where it says when you grow old someone will take you by the hand and lead you where you don’t want to go.  There was a time when I would take my children by the hand and often tug them along behind me.  The roles get reversed down the road and now they go where they wish without a mother.

So far I have not had to be led by the hand although I don’t mind taking their arm when the sidewalks are slippery and they get riled up if they find I have been moving furniture in my room. (Moving the furniture around in my home was something I used to love to do…years back.)

My years show on my face, but inside my mind I am still skipping up the walk, climbing trees and singing at the top of my lungs…I forget that last year’s birthday was the 85th.

So today I thank God for his goodness in giving me my two little girls and that we can celebrate with cake and coffee and that He has chosen to give me the gift of time…time to count blessings and be grateful for every precious moment and every precious event…like birthdays.

 

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

I am sure many of you can boast about your handling the challenges of Canadian winters, but today it is -30C and I have just come in from a short walk outside.

This is my 58th year in the Peace River Country in Alberta.  I am used to the cold and the snow.  At that matter I find it rather invigorating and the sight of the trees laden with freshly fallen snow and the big blue Alberta sky are almost enough to get me outside again for a bit, but I am elderly now, comfortable, and warm…I will stay indoors.

As a child I lived in the Fraser Valley in B.C.  In the Fraser Valley it rains almost every month of the year, but it is green, green, green.  Life goes on during those rainy days.  We didn’t have a car so I walked to school every day…and school was a good distance away, and in those days you came home for lunch too.

Canada is my home.   My father was born in Victoria, B.C. in the late 1800’s so I can claim an ancestry that goes a fair ways back in Canadian history.   And, in my world travels as the wife as of a Travel Agent, I was always received with a welcome anywhere when I claimed my Canadian citizenship.

But, on one special trip I recall the customs official, on my entry back to Canada from an overseas flight, saying “Welcome Home”…and it was one of the best welcomes I ever got.

I often wonder how my husband felt, after a hard day out there at the office in the winter, as he drove up the driveway and saw the kitchen light on, knowing that here was warmth, food, and a hug and a kiss.  Here was “Home.”

Right now the warmth from my room has replaced the frosty feeling I had earlier and I am getting sleepy.  I wonder if that is what heaven is like.  God says, “Your adventure in life is done.  Sure it was fun, but now you need a rest.  Come home my child,” and He will open his arms and hug and kiss me as I have done with my own children, and I will be with Him in my heavenly “Home.”

GOD’S GLORY STAYS CONSTANT

How do you start your day?  For most of us it is a run to the bathroom and a warm face wash and then the series of rituals begin.

Especially for widows, the rituals have changed.  No longer do I hear the hum of an electric razor each morning, nor feel the steam laden air in a bathroom vacated by a very clean husband, nor is the kitchen table set for two.   Many things have changed since he’s been gone.

But one thing I have not given up is the opening of the living room drapes and the view from the window.

Recently it has been acknowledged that nature plays a very important role in our mental and physical health.  I know it plays a role in my spiritual health too.  That view out my window is different each morning.  Today a slice of moon rested in the sky and a bright star sat at 2 o’clock high, keeping it company.  The sky was skin-pink and the sun had not quite risen.  I am easily touched and a tear slid down my face as I thanked God for sharing all this with me.  It was my moment of meditation and worship.  Ten minutes later the star had vanished, the moon had faded but in its place an airplane, bathed in bright pink, was leaving a pathway of colour painted across the sky.  I gaze in awe wondering how anyone with a mind could deny the existence of God when His wonder is there before your very eyes.

Things are probably different for you.  God speaks to us so individually.  Maybe pulling a silver/pink rainbow trout of a stream fills you with awe, or the silence of a stand of Douglas Fir trees.  Last Fall I spent two hours driving around the canola fields of the Peace River country.  A blanket of gold reflected the sun and the world was warm and filled with future food.   God is good!

Some time back my friends and I shared each Tuesday, a Doc Martin marathon; about four hours of togetherness, watching the green, green of England while the white, white of Alberta is hidden behind the blinds.  For a while in our imaginations we were lost in time and space and winter vacationing with the sea, the high hills of the village surrounding us.  A friend of mine has actually visited the area and watched the filming of the series.  She says it is just as it appears on the screen.  And it is beautiful!

So today I thank God for eyes that see, a mind that can still appreciate the sight before me and the beauty of God’s creation…my little bit of heaven is right here, on my doorstep.

 

WAITING AND WATCHING

One of the advantages of Senior years is the accumulation of memories.  You think your computer is compelling in its knowledge, but your  bran is stuffed full of extraordinary information.

I have done a lot of travelling in the past.  What a gift to see so much of the world and God’s people.  I don’t know why we were given that particular gift, but one day someone asked my husband if he wanted to buy a Travel Agency.  Wow! did he ever.  A kind friend co-signed the note and although we never made a fortune…we did see the world.

Sometimes we had to travel alone.  Harry was much better at this than I was, but once he did get stuck in Fiji with an ill passenger that had to be sent back home, and I was given the responsibility of taking the rest of the group to Australia.  I got them there safe and sound and a few days later he arrived at the hotel lobby where we were staying.  I was so glad to see him that I just ran into his arms.  A shared responsibility is such a relief.

Another time he met me on the airplane at one of our stops in the States.  I watched each face as they appeared at the cabin door…finally saw his and knew I was on the right plane and he was going on this trip with me.  Such bliss.

I was thinking about those times this morning and how it related to my faith and my faith journey.  There has been several times when I have had to trust God completely…when I was desperately ill with asthma in Germany…unknown to me, Harry had contacted his Commanding Officer and he had made arrangements for me to see a specialist…Harry’s massive heart attack at 56 and the gift of unexplained peace that filled my whole being and then finally Harry’s death from cancer and the Lord’s presence in the comfort of family and friends…and His continual compassion when I reached out for help and understanding.

I wonder if those earlier experiences of waiting and watching were a precursor to the events that took place later, reminding me that there are times when you have nothing to go on but trust…trust in God in the little moments of life and trust in the big ones.

I am so glad Harry was there on my travels and I am so glad that God is ever present in my travels alone since.  And someday, when my earthly travels are done, the Lord’s face I will see smiling at me, much like Harry did, and I will be exactly where I am supposed to be…with the Lord at my final destination.

OF PATIENCE AND PAUSES

I love to hear from my friends via emails…letters take a while to get to their destination but emails are there “right now.”  We are an impatient bunch…these fellow travelers of the 21st century.

Each morning, it is my computer that get’s turned on almost before the thermostat get turned up.  They are within 5 feet of each other.  It’s a bit of a downer, when I pull up the computer screen and no one has checked in for the day.

This morning a friend had sent a message narrated by Morgan Freeman about his mother teaching him to play the piano..instructing him to play the scale up, then the scale down.  In it, she explained was Good News.  So up he went, then down.  She said it needed “pauses” at certain places.  Disgusted he walked away.  Years later, after the death of his mother, he attempted the same scale, putting in the pauses she had instructed.  And there it was!  “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”

I think we all wonder about the ‘pauses’ God puts in our lives.  Harry and I spent a year apart when he joined the air force, before we were married…we both grew up a lot through that year and when it was over we knew we didn’t want to be apart any longer.  But that year was not easy and there was a lot of heart-ache in the ‘pauses’before we were finally together.

Life seems to run in fits and starts and there is seldom an “all good” day.  I thought I had one this week…sat quietly in my chair, my day’s word done, ready for bed, waiting for the TV News to be over.  I paused and set my glasses down …and missed the counter and they hit the floor.  Of course the lens popped out…it had been clear sailing all day until the…a pause changed all that.

After ten years of Air Force life we left and went west.  Then everything went wrong…no job, no money, no hope.  Yet two years later we landed in a small town where we had opportunities we could never have imagined.  Life seems to be a series of stops and goes…like the instructions for playing the scale, it took us time and understanding to realize what the melody was saying to us.  We had to learn to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.”

So many ‘pauses’, so many questions, so many ‘why’s’ but God had a plan…a plan for good, we just had to learn to wait through the ‘pauses’ and to trust Him.