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Archive for July, 2012

It all started with a picture …

That is how my interest in this story began, with a simple picture, and a short story.

The story is a love story. It is one that makes you say “awwww …” when it is over. It is one that makes you have hope in love, and in the institution of marriage. It is one that could become a Nicholas Sparks novel. It is one that makes women wonder, “would I ever be  loved and missed that much.”

This is the story of a couple married over thirty years, that quickly ended by death of the wife, Janet. Her heart-broken husband, Winston … well, how about you just go ahead and read the attached article.

Heart Shaped Legacy

It is a worthwhile read!

Carole

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Week number four has been one of … cravings! It all started with hubby bringing home … ice cream (it’s a good thing it wasn’t cookies, or I might have given in).

I tried a recipe for cookies that had no added sugar, butter or eggs.

The ingredient list included:
oats (I love oats),
cocoa (who could say no to cocoa?),
bananas (yum!),
peanut butter (so much for no butter … and peanut butter is divine),
and vanilla.

I was so eager for these little 47 calorie treats!

Unfortunately they were not so tasty. I don’t even think that the Cookie Monster would have enjoyed them! Plus, three days after I made them they started to grow that familiar hairy material known as mold (and I discovered the ‘hair’ AFTER eating one … blech)!

I considered adding an egg and sugar, but figured that would defeat the purpose … back to the drawing board.

Even with the cravings, I still lost THREE more POUNDS!

I have to say I am so very excited by my progress … and a little scared, because vacation is coming, and this vacation location provides breakfasts (with bacon) and dinners created by a creative and talented chef …

I   a m   s o   w e a k !

It is interesting to me that the people who have joined me in going from Old to New, have been so much more successful in their physical activities, and less so on the scales … maybe that is what is hindering me 😉 , I am afraid that if I exercise I will not lose anymore weight? Sounds like another excuse to me.

Oh, hubby did suggest a walk on my favorite trail the other day. It was sunny, it was warm, it was perfect. I am not sure who was grinning more, the beast or me. Unfortunately, the river is high, and the mosquitoes swarmed us as soon as we entered the wooded part of the trail. I thought they were going to literally carry us off. I had not experienced mosquitoes like that since I was a child and our family was on vacation on the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia. So, our intended hour-long trek lasted only thirty minutes.

After four weeks of trying to change my habits, it has now become work … hard work! That said, I have still not become faithful with exercise. Oh, I have hopped in the pool, and spent hours walking the aisles of thrift shops, but not so much the daily walks and abdominal exercises.

And that is my goal this next week.

Week 5

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Today marks the beginning of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, in London, England.

There will be the lighting of the flame, the entrance of the athletes into the stadium, the speeches, the music, the spectacle that is the opening event.

Of course the Olympic Games are about the games themselves, about the competition among athletes and countries, about about winning medals, but, what are the values of the Olympic Games?

According to the International Olympic Committee, it takes more than being an exceptional sportsman or woman to become part of the Olympics or Paralympics. “This is why both games come with a set of core values which encompass what these competitions are all about proving that sport even at this level, is not just about your ability.”

The seven official values, which aim to embody the spirit of the events are :
Respect
Excellence
Friendship
Courage
Determination
Inspiration
Equality

There is a story that is behind the picture to the right. It is a story of a father son relationship that exemplifies all of the values of the Olympics. Beyond that, their relationship is one of love … unconditional, sacrificial love.

To me, they, father and son, epitomize the Olympic spirit, not just in regard to athletics, but also in regards to life … lived full and complete, not because of their circumstances, but in spite of them.

“You can!”

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I remember so clearly the first Barbie that our eldest daughter had, and the first lesson she taught us in the process of purchasing it.

The television was constantly advertising ‘Butterfly Princess Barbie’ at every opportunity, and with each commercial break our daughter would say, “Mom, can I get that Barbie?”

Finally, it was her birthday, and we thought we would let her go with us to the store to pick it out. Unfortunately, we had gone shopping in the U.S., and, unfortunately, there was not one Butterfly Princess Barbie, like the one we had all seen on television … or so we thought.

As hubby and I were preparing for deep and mortal depression from our daughter, when she realized that the desired doll was not there, we heard her happy shout, “there she is!” Our eyes moved to the doll that she was struggling mightily to reach on a higher shelf, and then to each other. The doll most certainly was Butterfly Princess Barbie, but she did not have the blue eyes, the golden blond hair, or the alabaster skin. This doll was most clearly the African American doll.

When we lifted it down to her opened arms, and hugged it tightly, we asked if she was sure this was the one she wanted. And she answered, “yes” with her arms still tightly embracing it. We then said, “you do realize that she is not exactly like the one on TV?”

With this questions, she opened her eyes, and looked carefully at the doll in the box. She held it out, she frowned, she stared at it intently, and then she said, “you are right, she has brown eyes instead of blue,” and continued hugging it.

And her father and I looked at each other, and marveled at how quickly and completely we had seen the differences, and how much effort it took for her to see even one.

That is the story that most of us have been taught by our children, or by others children. For children do not see differences, but similarities. We grow up to see, to point out, and to fear differences.

I like that lesson, that was taught to me so innocently by a three-year old. It kind of reminds me of one of the most influential songs of my childhood …

“Jesus Loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow black and white
They’re all precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world”

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We women (remember, I cannot speak for ANY male, being female and all), hear voices.

Not only do we hear them, but we actually have conversations going on in our heads every waking hour! That is why when we respond with any of the following, there is more going on in our heads than the one or two word response we give to the men in our lives.

For example:
Fine
This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
Nothing
This is the calm before the storm. This means “something” and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with “nothing” usually end in “fine”.
Go Ahead
This is a dare, not permission, DON’T DO IT!
Loud Sigh
Although not actually a word, the loud sigh is often misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over “Nothing”.

Men, if you could only ‘hear’ what is going on in our minds when we use any of those words, in response to what you might have said to us … (for more understanding check out “What Women Want” starring Mel Gibson … I say this very guardedly, as some of it’s content is beyond the ‘PG’ rating of my blog posts 😉 ).

It is said that it takes anywhere from five positive things to cancel one negative to two positive things to cancel that same negative. No matter what the stat is, it takes more positive messages than negative to break even.

For a woman there are so many voices that are heard that can cause self-doubt, frustration, discouragement and embarrassment.

The voices stay there, in our heads, forever.

Most women can remember something that someone said to them when they were still a preschooler, that still speaks to them.

Most women will struggle to truly believe “I love you” from anyone who spoke hurtful words to them … and when “I love you” is said, they immediately hear the hurtful words in their heads.

Most women who have heard someone say something about a part of their body, will immediately look to that body part in a mirror, and hear it said again.

Most women who struggle with issues related to weight (either too much or too little) are still struggling with a message that was conveyed to them as a child.

Most women who hate men, feel that way because a male in their life (usually a father, sadly) has spoken words that have torn her down in the past, instead of built her up.

Most women who have been hurt by words, have been hurt by the words of other women.

With all of this in mind, whenever you are in the presence of a woman who you care for (whether you are male or female), speak words of affirmation, encouragement, appreciation … help tip the balance in the direction of building a woman up, and giving her new voices to hear.

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Abbott and Costello made that one question an entire comedy sketch, that has lasted, and been retold, for about sixty-seven years. It is one which can make just about anyone laugh. It is a comedy sketch told to give people a giggle, about how easy it is to misunderstand what others are trying to communicate.

The main question that is being asked, throughout the sketch, is “who’s on first?”

That question is a good one to also ask ourselves in relations to life, and priorities.

Who’s on first in our life?

As a Christian, I would say that God is on first, but, in reality, I do not always live as though that is my reality.

There are those who say, look to where you spend your money, and you will see what you put first in your life. Or where you spend your time, is the indicator of greatest priority. Or what you think most often about.

Exodus 20:3 says that God comes first. In different translations and versions, it is communicated with different words, but the meaning is the same … God’s on first.

I have said before that one of my biggest struggles, in marriage, has been in confusing the expectations I have of my God and my hubby. Now, don’t get me wrong, there has never been a time when I have bowed down, sacrificed burnt offerings and worshiped hubby (although I did put his socks on for him, once, when he was sick). Nonetheless, I have still struggled with not expecting God-like results from his very human person.

There are things that I think we often look for in others that, when they don’t (can’t) follow through and provide for us, we feel greatly let down.

I can only speak for myself, but I have often looked to my hubby as the provider of my security, of my future. That is a terribly big expectation to heap upon a mere mortal. And, of course, the disappointment that happens when hubby is not able to live up to that expectation I have had on him, is immense. He is no more able to control my future than I am.

It is only God who should hold on to that expectation.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God, and only God, can provide the security of the future. And, it is only when we make the decision to put Him first, that the security of our future, both now and for all eternity, is truly secure.

 

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“Another ONE bites the dusk
And another ONE gone, and another ONE gone
Another ONE bites the dust”
(Queen)

After three weeks I am now down six pound.

I have to say I so did not deserve to lose even that one pound this week. My little get-a-way with hubby/wedding celebration of a friend was not so good for the good eating habits I was getting into.

But I did discover a product that I love to have for lunch, that is super nutritious, and delicious. It is called “Texas Caviar” by a company called Pita Pal (who also makes amazing hummus).  The following are the nutritional facts for one serving … that is a whopping 3/4 cup! Heck, there are so few calories and fat, go ahead and have a larger serving!

Calories 70 Sodium 330 mg
Total Fat 3 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 0 g Total Carbs 12 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 3 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 2 g
Trans 0 g Protein 3 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin A 6% Calcium 2%
Vitamin C 30% Iron 6%

Ingredients listed on the container are: blackeye peas, bell pepper, jicama, corn, onion, parsley, red pepper, cilantro, orange juice, canola oil, spices, citric acid, sea salt, potassium sorbate and a lot of love!

Now, you might be asking, what is a jicama? Well, it’s picture is to the left, and I would say it looks like a combination between an onion, a potato and a turnip. It’s delightful ‘crunch’ when you bite into it will make you love what little flavor it has.

Back to our progress …

One of you is biking up a storm, but a little disappointed to not be showing much evidence on the scales of doom.
I did a little checking, and biking builds strength and muscle tone, it builds stamina, it improves cardi-vascular fitness, it boosts your metabolic rate, improves coordination (hum, I should take up biking, I am the most clumsy person in the world), it reduces stress, and it provides opportunity to breath fresh air! It does burn calories, so keep it up!

Another of you is a faithful user of http://www.myfitnesspal.com.
YOU are my hero!

Another of you has re-defined fast food.
She uses a divided container like the one on the right, to hold prepared salad fixings, so that when you need fast food, a salad is almost completely ready when you, or one of your kids, opens the refrigerator door! Love it!

Another of you is struggling with eating and all right, and swimming for exercise, but not seeing the evidence on those scales of doom.
Well, do not thing that you are getting nowhere my friend. You are getting healthier, and those benefits are not necessarily seen on the scales! According to Health Canada, your increasingly “healthy habits may help you reduce your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer and osteoporosis while providing many benefits such as:

  • Better overall health
  • Lower risk of disease
  • A healthy body weight (it will happen, your metabolism is just hanging on for dear life)
  • Feeling and looking better
  • More energy
  • Stronger muscles and bones”

It looks to me as though living healthier is like an iceberg, much of the benefits are unseen (underwater), we only see the small, slow, numerical effects  (above the water). So, do not despair. Besides the fact that your kids can see you living healthier only increases that underwater part … as they have healthier living modeled to them!

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Okay, I read this post this morning, and thought I would share it. It made me stop and ponder. Not exactly thoughts that would be shared on “the Bachelor”, but definitely good ones, for those of us married for like, forever!

In Praise of Boring Men

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Swimming has always been a big part of my life. I remember biking every day of the summer to the local swimming pool, to meet with friends and cool off from the summer heat. The public pool was a place of memories and fun.

It was also, for a short time, a place of total and utter humiliation.

I was about thirteen when my parents signed me up for swimming lessons the first time. Imagine a five foot giant surrounded by half a dozen preschoolers and you will get the full image of my experience.

Thankfully, within a week of lessons, I had progressed to a group where I was not the tallest in the pool (other than the instructor). I had never become an exceptional swimmer, but I loved the water.

When our children were born, swimming was a skill that they learned about the same time that they could walk. I never wanted them to be in water and not be able to stay afloat.

When we bought our current home, complete with a swimming pool, I went out and bought a life jacket for our youngest, who was not yet a swimmer. The nightmares that I experienced over purchasing a house with a pool, kept me sleep-deprived for weeks.

Within a week of being in our pool, our son with swimming like a fish.

My eldest daughter teaches swim lessons, at our pool, as well as at the swimming pools of her clients. She also coaches for a swim club. Swimming has been a huge part of her life.

She often speaks of how young children (toddlers and younger) are eager to enter the water, but it is the non-swimming adults who experience and express fear of water the most.

I was recently speaking with someone who is fearful of the water, and showing them how to float (ah the starfish float, my first swimming lesson). The person (adult) responded, “I have tried, but it is impossible for me to float.”

It is true that this person cannot float, but it is not her physical body that cannot float, it is the fear within her mind, because she has not committed to learning to swim that makes her sink. And there is no reason for this fear to continue, as adult-based swim lessons can be very appropriate and beneficial.

Recently, near our home community, two people died due to non-swimming. One was a young child (under the age of two), who jumped or fell into a swimming pool. The child’s grandmother jumped in to save her grandchild, but, as a non-swimmer, she herself also drowned.

Now a family mourns not one, but two people.

Do yourself, and those around you, who you love, a favor, learn to swim.

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What makes a husband brave?

Is it his imposing stature? His choosing to step into a situation that could get ugly to protect his love, or others? His willingness to be the head spider killer of the house?

In my house, and in my marriage, what makes my hubby brave is his willingness to let me ‘experiment’ with our house and garden. And when I say experiment, there are no guarantees that my attempts will turn out as I expect them to.

I love the acronym D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself), and I truly believe that I can. I love home decorating magazines, and buy many (now I buy them at thrift shops), home maintenance books, home renovation TV shows, and Pinterest (oh, how I love Pinterest). I love hardware stores that do not ask me what I am picking up for my husband (and yes, I have had that … three times in one store in one day, by the same guy, who I corrected the first two times … and no, I have not returned there).

Working, extra kids, and extracurricular activities of the kids, have put the kibosh to much of my experimental processes in recent years. I find I do not even have time to ‘dream’ about what I could do, let alone do it! But, this summer was to be different.

I started dreaming the last day before summer break, and have enough ideas to keep me busy until the New Year. The picture at the right was my fist inspiration. I loved how it could provide a place for me to hide to sit and read, or write, or for any of us to tie our shoes.

So, a week and a half into the summer break, I went where no wife should go so without their husband’s agreement … I took our hallway closet totally and completely apart. I’m talking all of the built-in shelves and rod, and the carpet too. By the time poor hubby came home from work, the closet that once housed our coats, shoes, school snacks, water bottles, insulated coffee cups, dog food, boxes of tissues, and poo bags, was as naked as a jay bird (what a weird simile … is a jay bird naked?).

My hubby did not faint, he did not frown, he did not even walk away trying to pretend that what he saw, he didn’t. My hubby said, “I am guessing you have decided on your first project.” To which I smiled, and he smiled, both of us knowing that I was a happy as a pig in … (another simile, but this one I get, because I have seen a pig in mud).

I then shared with him the picture, and reminded him of my five dollar fund that would be paying for this newest of experiments (I always feel self-conscious about the costs of my little experiments, not that hubby has ever made me feel that way, it’s just me). He smiled and said, “looks good.”

Once the project is completed (completed is NOT my specialty, but I am trying to overcome that weak point in my life) I will write a post about it, complete with pictures. So far I am amazed by how wonderfully it is going.

I really do think my hubby is brave. In a world where men still seem to feel the need to control much of life around them, my hubby is confident in who he is … confident enough that he lets me also be who I am, and for that I am immensely thankful.

Note: To see the ‘continuing story’ check out The Closet Reno Part 1

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