Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

What a holiday! To say I was stressed in the weeks prior to takeoff would be a true understatement. I didn't like me much as I finished off the term and packed my suitcase. But I was given just what I needed on the two week break.

After spending six days at the "White House B & B", and being spoiled silly, I'd like a dumpster to haul out my stuff and start over. My friend Marjorie is a true decorator; every piece in her living room reflects the colours embodied in a number of collected paintings purchased in Israel. Rich brocades and leather, her home is an earthy reflection of comfort and stability. For me it was an oasis of much needed peace and quiet. I am just so grateful for James and Marjorie's hospitality. I even had use of a "silver bullet" car to chase photographic dreams up and down the coast. Thank you dearest friends!

And then there was a blessed reunion with my son and daughter-in-law. I hadn't seen my son in a year - just long enough for his hair to reach well below the shoulder line. After a day's conversation and dinner out, I was tricked into reading a letter that I thought was from the bank to find out that my son passed his RN exam! I was beyond thrilled...relieved to see him begin a career, a destiny, I believe, in helping others in the health field. What a week of answered prayer!  God is good.

There's nothing like one's own bed after a two week journey. I love visiting, but I love coming home. Home to a beloved husband, a treasured abode and the firm knowledge that no matter what, I am planted where I belong.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The God Who Sees

Galatians 6:9-10 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)
         A few years ago, I was having one of those days when I was feeling very sorry for myself. Working full-time as an elementary teacher was taking a lot out of me. After a long day, I'd start my second job caring for my husband, son, father-in-law, and our home. On the twenty-five-minute drive home from work, the daily "What's for dinner?" question plagued me as I tried to dream up a meal to meet their whims and needs, when all I really wanted to do was to sit as still as a stone in a soundproof room for an hour.
          I came home to all three, sitting in the living room talking. They looked up and said "Hi" as I dropped my book bag and started in. That day, I was not exactly serving "as unto the Lord". I probably banged those pots around and slammed kitchen cupboard doors a little loudly. And when we all sat down to eat, my father-in-law, who was very worried about his blood pressure, remarked that the food was too salty. Now if he had said it to my face, that would have been one thing, but he said it in his native language to my husband. It was all I could do to sit there and not blow a gasket. They ate the "salty food" and returned to the living room, leaving me there to clean up the mess.
          Doing the dishes, I started to sniff and cry out to God. Why Lord? I love them, but why can't they see I'm working hard for them? I'm tired. Why doesn't anyone ever say "thank you" around here?
             At that moment, I reached up to the top shelf of the cupboard to put away a bowl, and out fell a card. On it, it said, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thanks, thanks, thanks!" It was pink and red with hearts on it, a typical Hallmark card. Nothing was written inside, and there was no envelope. I had never seen it before and had no idea where it had come from. I started to laugh and cry at the same time. The Lord heard me! He gave me exactly what I needed. I changed my attitude to gratitude and thanked God for all that these lovely men brought to me daily. Serving in the Lord's strength and for Him, it could be done well. God is so good!

This devotional was published today, with minor variations on the PCCWeb Daily webpage: http://daily.presbycan.ca/ .

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Most Perfect Day

      Yesterday was a perfect day! A rare day of connecting with a best friend and a favourite setting.

      I spent the day at Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver. A waterfront market, the place was abuzz with tourists and regulars and good friend Nan and I took it all in. Outside, the rain held off and a row of cyclists in neon jerseys savoured pastries and sausages while listening to buskers on guitar and pan flute. Pigeons pecked underfoot, unconcerned about getting stepped on and gulls were watchful for stray food opportunities.

       We walked the waterfront there. Aquabus and False Creek Ferries were busy taking walkers back and forth across the water. High priced houseboats are moored there. A romantic notion, a houseboat, but having to contend with people like me looking into your windows squashes the idea quickly. And I knew someone once who lived on a boat and a mild mildewy odour seemed to follow her everywhere.

Walking the Boardwalk at the Market
        We strolled throught the best art store ever...OPUS! Oh, the money we spent there in the nineties! Every form of creative tool can be found. If I didn't have a luggage weight restriction coming up on Sunday morning, I could have filled a spare suitcase with journal books, watercolour paper and brushes to cart home.

       Inside the market, ethnic delights, rows of fresh blooms and creative displays of common and exotic fruits and vegetables joined tempting pie places, sausage vendors and bakeries. Precarious piles of strawberries and rare fruits abound.  And the flowers....so artistically arranged, they were hard to resist. I purchased a nosegay of daffodils. It was like spring tied up with raffia in a celophane bag.
       The very best part of this most perfect day, was having hours and hours to catch up with a most treasured friend, Nan. We've known each other over 20 years and many miles separate us. But when we sit down together, we remember the past, catch up on the present and anticipate our futures. We tell our stories and cry and laugh. And I am just so grateful that the Lord brought us together to enjoy the market in the heart of this beautiful west coast city.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ink on the Sheets

In the pre-dawn hours
In that place that is no place
Thoughts streak through and intersect with dreams.

Words flow like fallen leaves
Racing toward the sea.
A pen and pad are there to record ideas
to store for future telling.

Without benefit of lamp or candle
I grip the pen and let words fall.
No time for form, the scrawl will be decipherable at least.

I see the stars fall
in pieces like a jigsaw.
Behind the holes in the sky, more sky, but starless now.

The stars are captured on paper
And the ink runs onto the sheets till it runs over the edge and hits the floor.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ramblings of a Reluctant Traveler

      There's something floating in my BLENZ coffee. Dust, I think. Doesn't dust settle in the oddest places? Me, I'm getting a little more "dusty" with age. It never occurred to me when I was young, that a day would come when I didn't want to just leap into change and challenge. That reluctance is starting to creep up on me.

      I'm sitting in the BLENZ coffee shop at the corner of Burrard and Robson, one of the busiest intersections in the heart of downtown Vancouver. By day's end, I will have traveled over 13 hours to get to my destination in Sechelt, on the Sunshine Coast. My journey includes planes, trains, automobiles and a ferry ride. Lots of sitting. Lots of waiting.

       I am not a great traveler. I can't even watch the Amazing Race. Too much stress. I imagine myself in the position of having to run to make a train or deadline and my heart races. Even making this simple trip, in my own country, my fret-meter was off the charts. Ridiculous things captured my thoughts in the middle of the nights leading up to take off. How much will my suitcase weigh? What if my nose runs and I don't have my Dristan? Certifiable behaviour. And long plane rides. Forget it. I'm a fidgeter. Reading glasses on and off; sun glasses on and off to look out the window down below the clouds. I compulsively flick channels on the tiny screen in the seat ahead of me. Should I read? I dig out my book, only to deposit it in the seat flap. Should I sleep? Shoes on, shoes off? A restless fidgeter.

       But right now I have a quiet half hour to take deep breaths for the first time in weeks. I watch from the coffee shop window. Vancouver hasn't changed much since my husband and I courted in the early nineties here. We loved to walk Robson and Denman on Friday nights after work. Over the years, high end merchandisers remain, sharing the streets with souvenir shops, trendy restaurants, hotels and office towers. Same locations, firmly planted, it seems. One missing treasure is "Pepitas," a Mexican restaurant we frequented enough all those years ago, that it became "our place." It was an intimate, colourful locale known to us for its authentic food and excellent sangria. Sadly, not there anymore. It has been replaced by a "chain" restaurant with loud music and voguish, fatty appetizers.

The one I saw was completely red.

       Oh my goodness.  I just saw a mobilized "egg" drive down the street. That cannot have been a car, but it was driving down the middle of the road. It held one person and now I think that it was like a large tricycle enclosed in red enamel. Only in Vancouver.

Another thing I've only seen in Vancouver over the years is the diversity in approach to weather. Today, (mercifully and momentarily), it is NOT raining. The streets are still wet and people are trying to balance their coffees, and umbrellas while texting, as they navigate the crowds. It is not uncommon to see people wearing parkas standing three deep sharing crosswalks with those in shorts. Just now I saw a very old raggy-haired man in construction boots and above-the-knee, cut-off jeans standing beside a young Oriental woman with a fur trimmed hood and two middle aged men carrying skis. It's all movement and purpose out there on the streets.

And me....I'll sit here appreciative, that for the next two weeks, all the stresses of daily life can be set aside. I'll "dust off", do lots of visiting and observing and just enjoying best friends and precious family on this west coast. This reluctant home-body is grateful for the opportunity!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Phone Call

I think she’s mad at me. Again.
Says I’ve asked too many times.
I don’t understand. I don’t understand.
I was sharper before. I’m getting stupid.
She said I called her twice this morning before 7:00am.
I don’t believe it. I don’t remember it.
Then when I told her about the bill, she said not to worry about it.
That she had taken care of it.
But I couldn’t remember what “it” was.
There’s an edge in her voice.
I know she loves me. She’s a good girl.
She says I have nothing to worry about.
My world is so small.
I wish she would be patient with me.
I miss my wife. She was the most beautiful lady in the world.
I’ll look at her picture today while I do my crosswords.

Oh my goodness!
He’s so sweet. He’s only been good to me my whole life.
He taught me to read. He taught me to drive. He's given and given.
How could I be so impatient? That repetition is driving me insane.
But he deserves only honour.
Lord help me to show him my love and more importantly
Your Love. Patience Lord, have patience with ME!