THE CHURCH TALENT NIGHT

First some piano renditions, then poetry and then the next presentation is the mixed choir.  The list goes on as the congregation smiles, applauds and waits anxiously for their particular participant to bravely face the amassed faces before them.  It takes real courage to hold that mike and attempt to remember all you had practiced.  That night we were especially impressed by one young lad who sang ‘The Elements song’, which is a verbal rendition of the names of all the Elements on that chart that used to hang in the Science room…remember?

Of course some performances had a bit more polish than others but after all we were a non-critical audience.  A small skit ended with one young man reading scripture off his telephone; which just blows the minds of seniors who have not quite managed to absorb all the new communication technology…but they are learning.  An added pleasure was a joke or two, and even if you had heard it before, you laughed heartily.  What a great evening we had together…young and old.  Such fellowship is a gift from God.

And of course the evening ended with ‘food’.  I believe gluttony is considered a sin…we came pretty close to sinning at some of our ‘after the event’ coffee times.  But how can you resist all those delicious home-made temptations made by the best cooks in town?

A recent article given me, to include in our church newsletter, explains what various denominations do in case of a fire…they should have said that Presbyterians grab the food on the dessert table and then head out of the building.

I love church events..they are so human..everyone sharing, no one criticizing and the promise of food at the end of the evening.  Perhaps that is a good way to live our lives…everyone sharing, no one complaining, and food for body and soul when the work is done.

No wonder I enjoy those church events so much.

 

 

 

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MAKING CHOICES IN A NEW WORLD

I have been writing a new story the last twelve months.  It is hard to believe that just over a year ago I owned my own house, bought my own groceries and owned my own car.  Then in November I had a birthday.  Nothing has been the same since.  It was a few days later that I made the decision to move and that fateful phone call set me on a brand new path…”I’d like my name moved to the active list for residence please.” I had asked.  Two weeks later I had moved a few precious belongings into a tiny bit of a unit, so much smaller than my 3-bedroom, full basement house.

Yes, it can be done! And I even brought my husband’s love letters with me, along with some photos and an old license plate (from the front of the car) that said “Short is Beautiful”.  ‘Short’ was his nick-name for me.

We spend our whole lives making choices…it gets us ready for that day we make the ‘big’ move into a Senior’s residence.  Next stop is Heaven!

This is an amazing place, full of people with a few physical or mental limitations but mostly with folks with fascinating stories about lives lived under sometime difficult circumstances.  These senior years here are the culmination of all their choices and of mine too.

I thank God that he placed me in a family that had a Christian background because that gave me the framework for the choices I made down the road.  I find that background still helps me as I try to adjust to a new world with rules and regulations that don’t always fit “me”, but when you have over ninety people in the dining room, you have to regulate things somewhat or it would be a nightmare.

One of the best choices I ever made was to become part of the Presbyterian church.  My earlier choices had been fulfilling. (I’d even worked as a Church Secretary for 5 years), but somehow God led me to the door of this special church that filled me with love, caring and the Spirit of God.

The ‘little old lady’ who greeted me at the door that first Sunday, is long gone but others have taken her place and the welcome is still the same.

The quarterly church newsletter, the prayer chain and my bible study are things I still handle but choir and making pies for dinners is well behind me.  God’s plans are often a mystery but for now I am open to any options he has in mind, for I have chosen Him and he is mine.

GOOD OLD CHURCHILL

I’ve been playing solitaire on the Computer. I do it very seldom but once in a while I sneak into that little icon on my desktop.  I think I do it, because it reminds me of Harry. He loved games and was good at them.  In the years since we got the computer (way back) we have played 691 games, all told and together we have won 26…that is 3%.  Nothing to write home about.  But good old Churchill once said, with his British accent…”neva, neva give up!.”

Just behind me on the wall is a picture of Churchill…he was in Ottawa in 1954 and my husband was on his honor guard.  I got the snapshot, a friend had taken, enlarged, framed and a small commemoration plate set into it.  It was my 50th anniversary present to him.

I guess we were both on the same wave length for he gave me a large, framed photo of bits and pieces of our life together, including some wedding shots.  He had it entitled “50 Years of Romance.”  How could you not love a man like that!

I have been doing some ‘looking back’ recently.   Seniors can look way back and I would recognize Churchill’s voice in a minute.  When the news came on the radio during those World War 2 days, it was his voice that filled us with hope.  How could we lose with Churchill at the helm?

They say there are no atheists in fox holes and I can believe it.  We were a praying nation during those years.  In a recent bible study at my home, we were reminded by Max Lucado not to take the Lord for granted.  It is something we all have done, but no one did during the war…we needed God desperately.  My sister and two brothers are now gone, but all three were in the war effort.  I prayed for them every day.

When I turn on the news today I realize that History keeps repeating itself…with wars and the threat of wars everywhere.  Sometime I just want to say “Stop the world I want to get off.”  But we are advised to trust the Lord and acknowledge him to direct our paths.  My picture of Churchill and Harry reminds me that life goes on and although we can capture memories of events, it is God who directs the scenario and He has never forsaken us in the past and won’t forsake us in the future.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU CONSUME

“Five young people stabbed to death in Calgary.”  Terrible news to wake up to on a Tuesday morning.  My heart twists as I think of the parents and loved ones of those kids.  How can they carry on their lives in the wake of such a tragedy?

But, when I recall what has been fed to all of us through the media in the previous decades I should not be surprised.

Ben Stein in a quote said “people say, ‘How could God let this happen’, but we have been telling Him to get out of our government and our schools so how can we expect Him to bless us if we demand Him to leave us alone.”

This is not to say that things were better in the past…believe me it wasn’t, I was there !  However, the world should be becoming a better place and I am sad when I think of the problems that are left for my grandchildren and great grandchildren.  We send men out in space but cannot keep the space we occupy a safe place.

This morning a young person was condemning the boomer generation because they were not moving fast enough in this new age technology.  It is easy to be critical when you have so many advantages they never had.  Until you have walked in their shoes, watch your tongue.  It is a trap we all fall into.

Many years ago I found a letter sent to my mother in the 1940’s.  In it the lady said that there was lots of fruit for preserving this year, but alas, she only had four canning jars. Tragic!  I recall the cold winters when the canning jars in the storage room, carried us through those long winters.  That letter changed a lot of my attitudes and made me recognize what it must have been like for those raising families then.

Yes, times change and often we don’t.  That isn’t all bad news.  I waste little, recycling everything that comes into the house, remembering my mother’s “rag rugs” but it did take me a long time to buy a microwave as I was not sure if it was quite safe.  It is now the most valuable asset in my kitchen.

But one thing that has never changed, is my trust in God.  In looking back over so many years I can see His handwriting on every page of my book.  I am still consuming His word and there is no worries that I will run out before the winter of my life is over. I am still overwhelmed that He cares and cherishes me regardless of my many flaws. It has been a feast of faith and in consuming it I believe it has enriched my whole life.

OF PETS AND POOP

I hope no one finds today’s blog offensive.  As a great-grandma I sometimes take liberties and call a spade a spade.  In this case I am calling ‘poop’, ‘poop’.

We all have fond memories of those cats that had kittens, and the puppies we brought home for the kids.  they were a part of the family and consequently a part of the memories that we hold dear.

But the other side of the coin is the ‘training’ that accompanies these new responsibilities.  Paper training a small puppy takes patience and a lot of newspaper.  Cats are a lot easier…maybe that’s why I like cats best.

It had been a long winter up north and no one was happier than I to see the snow finally begin to disappear.   But when I went out to check if the tulips were out of the ground, there  it was…some dog had pooped on my lawn…not once but four times.  The snow had covered up these multitude droppings and I was not aware that under the pristine whiteness of the winter lay a lot of mistakes.  People are supposed to pick up their pets poop.

I didn’t want to upset my neighbours so I went about the task myself.  Yuk!

This morning we had another dust of snow overnight and there were little prints all over the lawn…the sun is shining and I hope when the dust of snow melts I won’t find more “left-overs.”

Sometimes we tend to ‘poop’ on others feelings.  I got hurt the other day…not physically.  It was a sin of omission that cut to the quick.  It made me wonder how many times I had neglected to thank someone for a kindness or forgotten to comment on an achievement.

Sometimes people leave messes behind when they do this to you…resentment and hurt are hard to forgive.  You can let these messes spoil your day or I guess you can get out the shovel, grab a plastic bag and get rid of them.   Otherwise you will be stepping on them for the next few weeks.

Often those omissions are intentional, sometimes not.  I guess only God knows, but I think we all have experienced them…our job is to forgive, clean up our hurt and carry on and maybe, just maybe look hard at our own conduct.  Are we reflecting God’s love and are we being a conduit of his love by letting his light shine on the individual attributes each person has…a heart is warmed each time we in some way say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  God loves a cheerful giver and maybe he meant more than money.  Our giving to others can be a smile, a hug or a kind compliment…it might just make their day.

WAITING FOR GOD

I know, I have stolen the title of a TV mini-series, but it seemed to fit my thoughts this morning.  I was gazing out the front window and waiting and wondering if I would see Spring in the new year.

It is an odd thing to think about; but at my age, you take nothing for granted and tend to live one day at a time.

Spring can arrive anytime in Northern Alberta…from early March until late May.  If it arrives in late May its life span is about two weeks, and summer lands on our doorstep without hardly a hello.

So spring can be an ongoing discovery…”My tulips are out of the ground”, “I saw a flock of geese yesterday”, ” Look the buds are coming out on my tree out front.” How impatiently we wait for every sign of Spring.

It is something like the birth of a child.  “I’m pregnant”, you announce to your grinning husband, and then watch as the little bump out front of you grows and grows. “It kicked me today” you declare and then at the end of those long nine months of waiting, you say, “I think you better take me to the hospital..”

Yes, there is so much “waiting” in life.  And we are an impatient bunch.  I am well aware that “patience” is not on my short list of attributes.

Yesterday, I lost my keys twice.  Actually the first time they were deep in my pocket, covered with tissues and the second time the car key had fallen right off the ring.  I get rattled and impatient when I lose things.  When I traced my steps back to the Store I had just left, I found it lying on the street.

Like the woman who found the lost coin, I was jubilant.  “Thank you Lord,” I whispered.  He is always getting me out of trouble.  An hour later I was at the tire shop getting my winter tires off…after paying the bill I jumped into the car and headed for a shopping plaza nearby.  While parking I checked behind me and behold, my removed winter tires were not in the back of my station-wagon where they were supposed to be.  I could have broken into tears but instead, I laughed.  Life is littered with strange and wonderful happenings. Needless to say I went back and got my tires, then decided I had had enough and headed home for a sit-down and a cup of tea…for hadn’t God looked after me all day…of course I just had to be patient enough and not get upset and just wait for the answers.

When I look back at all the years God has given me and the patience shown by my Heavenly Father, I recognize I have a great example to follow.  I am slowly learning but must confess I am not good at waiting.

I pray constantly for my extended family, especially for those who are reticent about claiming to know Him.  I wait for God to give me answers but admit that I want those answers ” NOW”.  So I am often ‘waiting for God’, but I realize more often than not He is ‘waiting for me.”

How can one explain this God who continues to be patient with someone like me.  My answer is always…”Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  And that explains His long lasting patience, with this child of His.

WHAT I REMEMBER

I will watch the Remembrance Day celebrations this Sunday morning from Ottawa.  I no longer attend the service held here in town.  The crowds, the parking, are just too much for me.  I watch the TV, remembering the two years we lived there.   We were married in Ottawa and our first daughter was born there.  I see the Parliament Buildings and remember being there myself.  Once I actually saw three tiny girls, triplets, walking hand in hand carefully across its green lawn.

I search for buildings I might recognize but too many years have passed.  I find it interesting that my grandson Mike also once lived there.  He once sent me a video of him with his wife and baby standing in front of the Parliament Building.  Sometimes I feel like life has come full circle.

From 1955 to 1958 the RCAF stationed us in Germany.  It was a country in recovery with many buildings still bombed out.   For a year we lived in German accommodation.  It was cold, inconvenient and not that pleasant.  But we met a few German families and Harry got to practice a little of the German he had learned from his grandmother.

Our landlady had two preteen boys and was enchanted by out little daughter.  Mrs. Lauer was a sweetheart and my youngest daughter carries a derivative of her name as her second name.

We did as much travelling as we possibly could, knowing our chances to see Europe probably would never happen again.  One thing I will never forget was the Canadian cemeteries . Rows and rows of cement markers bearing the maple leaf…boys of 16, 17 and 18.  It nearly broke your heart.

Not far from Munich was the Dachau Concentration Camp.  After just ten years you could still smell the ashes from the ovens nearby.  The gas chambers told their own story as did the firing wall, filled with bullet holes.  Even now my stomach turns as I remember what we saw that day.  So much evil.

My landlady is sad when she tells me that they knew little, only that something awful was happening to the Jews.  But they kept their mouth shut as she had two little boys…they would be taken from her if she questioned anything.  I had two little girls…what would I have done under similar circumstances…only God knows.

Decades later my husband went back to Germany with our oldest daughter.  They visited my now much older landlady.  The photo shows them standing on the same street as we once lived and all are wearing big smiles.  Life has gone on and much has changed.

I still hear of war and death and wonder what the answers are.  We fail so often to make this a world of peace. but obviously God still has faith in us for here we are again “remembering”.

I pray my children, grand-children and great-grandchildren will be spared any global conquest.  I pray for peace, the peace that was promised by Jesus who said “my peace I leave with you.”  I will not give up that promise to those who say it will never be.  It is still God’s world and that I do believe.