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Archive for October, 2017

Tonight is the night for spooky costumes, trick or treaters and more candy received than dentists would ever desire people to eat.

atticusI have endearing memories of being at my grandmother’s house on Halloween night, helping her to hand out candy (and hoping she didn’t hand it all out, because I was more than willing to take it all off of her hands).

I remember her holding the candy hostage until the spooky visitor told her their name, and whether or not they lived on her her road (and, sometimes, who their parents were). She loved this opportunity to get to know her little neighbours.

I remember those dressed up like cute butterflies, pirates, firefighters and princesses. Then there were the ones that were taller, older, and had masks that completely hid their identity from us. Those were the ones that I felt more fearful and hesitant about letting into my grandmother’s home.

But, after my grandmother would ask her questions, once we knew it was the teen from the farm next door, or so-and-so’s grandson, or a stranger who slipped off their mask to smile and introduce themselves, all was well.

You see, the mask they were wearing was not who they really were, and once that mask was off, or the wearer identified, relationship entered the picture.

But, that was not the sole responsibility of the wearer of the mask.

You see, in my ignorance, I had pre-judged the individuals before my grandmother got to them. I saw them as scary, a threat, and I was wrong.

Last week I was wrong about someone, and I love it when I am wrong!

At the beginning of the school year I met dozens of students for the first time, and without intending to, I pre-judged them, according to their words and body language.

One student, in particular, I pre-judged as one who would not accept help, who felt they did not need help, who felt they did not need a learning support block.

In the past few weeks, I have seen a change akin to the metamorphic changes leading to the emergence of a butterfly from it’s cocoon. This student has accepted assistance, worked collaboratively with another student, and has even asked for help in understanding the next unit in a subject.

I was so wrong! And I am so glad.

So, was I just wrong? I don’t think so.

You see, what changed was that, in the beginning, I judged only from what I saw and heard. Much like the trick-or-treaters, when they first walked into my grandmothers house. It was not until I asked questions, in order to get to know this student, that I began to understand who this student really was … on the inside … under the mask that we all wear.

Relationship is what makes the difference in knowing and understanding people.

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Maybe it’s at a buffet of food, all placed on tables and trays and in food warmers.

Or maybe it is at a shopping mall, in your favourite store, when the doors have opened on a new fashion season.

Or maybe it is a drive in the country, and the colors of autumn (an East Coast autumn) are everywhere.

Or maybe at an athletic stadium, where your favourite team is playing the season ending game.

In a variety of places and circumstances we can struggle with knowing where to look, or perhaps, where to place our attention, where to give our time.

In the daily living of tyranny of the urgent we are torn between what is urgent and what is important. Far too often what is urgent interrupts, clouds and pushes aside what is truly important, and of lasting value.

According to Forbes Media it is not our job demands, getting to swim practise on time, or missing that ever-invading tweet or FB post that people regret. It is people, and what we have missed out on with real life humans who have, at one time, captivated something so deep within us that on our deathbeds it is they who we long for most.

These memorable people are not just the ones we should long for in our final earthly hours, but we ought to keep the value of them in our daily life every day of our life.

As hubby’s vocation is that of a pastor, I hear often about death bed regrets, and of what it is that people want to talk about in their final hours.

They desire family, forgiveness and a real faith in a Saviour.

They want those who they love to be nearest to them. They want to right what has been wrong in their relationships. They want to have their eyes open for those gone before them, and for Jesus … to see him, face to face.

What if we lived every day, as our last day?

What if we loved and valued our greatest earthly human loves as though this were our last day with them, free of technology, dusting and the demands of daily life? What if we lived today with reconciliation in our hearts, and flowing freely from our lips, as we asked and offered forgiveness?

What if you (and I) were to actually Turn your Eyes to the Jesus, to see him in every aspect of our day?

Lets stop wasting our time indulging in everything at the buffet of life, and just choose to taste and see what satisfies most.

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Some people have skeletons in their closets, we have a man in our basement.

For almost a year this man has lived in the dark recesses of our home, silent as a mouse, happy as a clam.

To be most sincere, his living in our home has been a dream come true.

To maintain his privacy (though many locals know) I’ll just call him JB (not to be mistaken for J Biebs).

JB went to school, since kindergarten, and graduated with our daughter. I got to work in classes he was in for numerous years. It was he who, sometime in early high school years, gave me the nickname that stuck for years at school (Mrs. Wheatie, as opposed to Mrs. Wheaton).

Many times, in his high school years, he and I (and my hubby) joked that one day he would rent and live in the suite of our home.

In January of this year, the joke became reality, as JB and his family gradually migrated his earthly belongings to the suite in our basement.

JB is like family to us.

We appreciate how he respects us in his polite quietness (even if we really think he could make more noise than he does). We enjoy seeing each other in passing, or when he joins us for a meal, or sitting on the deck in the sunshine.

Easter and Thanksgiving would not have been the same without JB joining us for a family meal, and an exceptionally competitive game of Dutch Blitz.

JB is gentle-hearted, generous, positive and considerate. We are blessed to have this young man in our lives, in our family … in our basement.

Happy Birthday JB! We all love you.

“Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say,
“Oh, thank you, God!”
Philemon 1:4

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IMG_2755A picture can speak of a thousand memories.

As I looked at the photo, above, from a few days ago, the first thought that came to my mind was,

these … these are the humans I so love.

There are times when this truth can hit a person, full and uninterrupted.

That man, who I took the great leap with over twenty-eight years ago, when we were so very young and fully unaware of what we were signing on for when we made that covenant to each other, for life.

In the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan asks Mr. Beaver, “is he safe?” (regarding Aslan the lion), “”Safe?” said Mr. Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” I often think the same could be said of marriage, of course it isn’t safe. But it’s good.

That oldest daughter, the one who taught me how to be her mother. Oh, I have failed her a million times … just in her first year of life. She challenges me to think and to know the reasons for what I believe. She is determined, and will achieve what she desires. She is brave, and strong … fearful and delicate. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, she is real.

That youngest daughter, the one who cried for two years straight, and has never been shy to make a statement … in words, in fashion, in art, in friendships (most childhood friends were sixty plus, years her senior). She taught me that relationship is active, daily work and that asking questions is the only way to know what someone else is thinking. She lives the meaning of the words of Anne Shirley, “the iron has entered my soul.”

That son, the one who can read my unspoken thoughts, unspoken emotions. He is confident and comfortable in his own skin. He has taught me about good and evil, and he has no idea of how very well he has learned that redemption truly is the best theme of any story. “He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector, a Dark Knight.”

These are my favourite five, the ones who make my heart soar, the ones who fill my cup, and make my stand tall.

It is these who I love with a deep and never-ending love.

“Above all, keep loving one another deeply”
1 Peter 4:8

 

 

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Lift-Up-Your-Eyes-Blog-sm

It was Monday … morning.

My wonder dog had had me up in the middle of the night in gastric distress (sigh … I wonder what he ate now).

I was bone tired and just didn’t feel I was bringing my best to work.

As I drove East I reached the first point in my drive to work when I could see Mt. Baker and the mountains of the North Cascades.

My jaw dropped, and my eyes popped.

I wish I could have pulled over to take a picture of the sunrise, the light peeking through the clouds and the shadows on the mountains had a spectacular visual effect.

Wide-eyed, for the fist time that Monday morning, I smiled broadly … and felt a lightness  begin to grow within me.

I lift my eyes up to the mountains
Where does my help come from?

I smiled all the way to work.

Devotions in first block were done by a student, a student who exceeds in joy, in love, in tenderness and care to all who cross her path.

She nourished us, treated us with foods to nibble and a message of hope.

The message that I received, visually, while driving to work, after a night of poor sleep.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.”

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ho

Happy Birthday tomorrow …

To my Jane Austen loving, swim coaching, stationary-loving, legging-wearing, justice-seeking, change-resisting, verbal-processing, feminism-spouting, recovery house working, Naloxone-carrying, self-advocating, gluten and dairy and soy avoiding, blog writing, sibling nurturing, “dark and twistie” tackling, ever-evolving oldest daughter …

There is so much I could say to you, but I am choosing to speak to you through the lips of some of the women who speak to you.

Change; we don’t like it, we fear it, but we can’t stop it from coming. We either adapt to change, or we get left behind. It hurts to grow, anybody who tells you it doesn’t is lying. But here’s the truth: Sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. And sometimes, oh, sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is… everything.

Meredith Grey
You and your addiction to Grey’s Anatomy (sorry, but without Derek …). You and your struggle with change. But you are not alone, for we all struggle with the realities of the shifting sands in our life. And change can be difficult, but change is not always a bad thing, and often it is the catalyst to the greatest growth.
brene
Giving you quotes just wouldn’t be complete without Ms. Brown! It is hard to be one who struggles to be perfect and vulnerable at the same time. You have a light within that begs to be released … be vulnerable and turn those lights on full!
quote
As if on cue … (you’d think I had planned to insert Emily Ley now). It’s all grace!
Peace-begins-with-a-smile-Mother-Teresa-vinyl-wall-design
Sometimes it’s the simplest actions that can make the biggest difference to others … and you. Sometimes the authenticity of a smile comes after, not before it appears on ones face.
19145762_1664158723633102_8543712483768464598_n
Hey, it’s true! And it makes you smile!
cslewis1
Believe in the miraculous … life itself is miraculous! Seek the wonderful, the wonder-filled. Believe in the unbelievable. 
e
The moments of your life are for which you have been created … good and bad, simple and struggle, blessing and curse. The example of Esther is the wisdom of knowing when to speak, when to be silent, the wisdom of being brave, the wisdom of knowing you have nothing of value that you can truly lose when you trust in the God of your people.
 dedesmith_bebrave
Ok, so maybe Ann Voskamp speaks more to me than to you … If I can use her words to share a truth that life has taught me, then the words above speak truth. Life is hard … and then it gets harder. We humans are not guaranteed anything different (“in this world you will have troubles, struggles, difficulties, heartbreaks …” John 16:33). But we are guaranteed that we will never be left alone in it …
“Be strong and courageous (aka brave). Do not be afraid or terrified … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

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hope

My eyes popped open with that distantly familiar feeling in my body and mind. My heart was racing. My body filling with an adrenaline rush of energy.

I looked at the clock … 4:09am.

Perhaps it was a forgotten dream, my mind dealing with stress of the day or an unwise bedtime snack … perhaps, but I will probably never know for certain what sent my body and mind into the flight or fight reaction.

I tried getting up to use the bathroom, hoping that would readjust my inner responses. I tried focusing my attention on deep and slow breathing (a trick I had learned years ago, when frustrated by insomnia), but nothing seemed to steady my heart.

Fear,

known or unknown, valid or absent, self-induced or left in our hands

can become our only focus,

robbing us of peace, of confidence, of joy … of hope.

The Bible offers us hope in times of fear:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 
Joshua 1:9

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 

For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14

Though a Bible verse is more of a bandaid than a cure (especially if the fear is connected to anxiety or depression), it is the bandaid of hope … than you and I are not alone.

As Corrie ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

And that love of God is the hope that is stronger than fear.

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It started as a gift, IMG_1770

No …

it started as a surprise,

No …

it started as a wish,

No …

it started as a dream that I failed to have the imagination to dream.

As I boarded the Europe-bound airliner, I was steeping off of North American soil for the first time. My final destination, Florence, Italy, for La Dolce Vita Creative (Women’s) Retreat.

IMG_1157

Hubby had surprised me, at Christmas, with this amazing trip, but he was not alone, for the brilliant mind behind La Dolce Vita Creative Lifestyle Retreats also happens to be my sweet friend, Carolyn Peeler.

Carolyn is a most humble, capable and creative woman, with a confident gentleness that warms the cockles of ones heart, when in her presence.

So, in May of this year, I landed in Florence, checked into my accommodation, and entered into the most delightful adventure of my life.

What followed was beauty, the freshest of food flavours, welcoming people, history to see and touch and walk upon, unique items to purchase, classes to attend, and the most beautiful group of creative, welcoming, helpful and unforgettable women.

We were taught, nourished, entertained and our cups were ever-full (in every way).

We shopped at the market in Lucca, walked the streets of Siena, were given a cooking class and meal prepared by a Michelin chef, in the castle of a Count, we slept in the estate of a Renaissance-era home, with family ties to a Catholic Cardinal of the past. We toured churches, aged streets, arched alleyways, and met gifted artisans.

But, it was the individuals who attended the retreat which made it truly memorable.

It is just our unique and beautiful group who shared life in Tuscany for that week. We awoke each morning and complimented each other’s outfit for the day. Were enjoyed entertainment by our California-duo, who made us laugh ’til tears flowed down our cheeks. We shared in affection for the animals that lived on the estate. We worried for our friend who lost her purse, with many offering practical helps. We struggled to find the grid on our camera phones, create floral arrangements, and pick glass that broke in the swimming pool. We slowed our pace when walking with some, or availed our shoulder when a bus ride was long. We took pictures of each other, with each other. We shared bottles of local wine, and rushed excitedly to our rooms to see what treasures were left on our beds while we dined on local foods over a leisurely dinner. We supported each other when our back hurt, our head hurt or our heart ached. We hung our undies on the same clotheslines and saw that, in Italy, if you want to take a donkey home, there is no delay in it’s creation.

Returning home we were happy to reunite with those we love, but, like the finish of a dear novel, when it was over a part of us longed for the characters who we had so grown to care for, to love.

It was a divine appointment that we would all be there, together, for a week of wonder.

 

As the plane began to rise toward the sky, leaving Florence behind me, my eyes began to overflow, with longing for more, with longing to return to this place, and the magic that was created by Carolyn Peeler:

“I was dreaming about organizing and hosting my own international retreat. Each week has been different from the one before because of how attendees interact with each other, the special guests, and the experiences I have organized. It has been a blessing to meet women from around the world who show up with their hearts wide open to accept new friends, opportunities and challenges in the most wonderful way. This is what makes La Dolce Vita special… the women who set out on an adventure ready to embrace all that it is. For this, I am thankful – together we have made some lifelong memories!”

Today, at 9am PST, registration for La Dolce Vita Creative Lifestyle Retreat opens. May I recommend this retreat to you, from one creative soul to another. May I let you know that you will be so well cared for, so well loved.

But, may I warn you, it will change you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Morning Florence

In anticipation of a post coming tomorrow morning, I am reposting this one.

I have to admit that re-reading this, and other, posts from my trip to Italy, last May, is creating a longing, a wanderlust unlike anything I have known before.

I am remembering the golden sunrises, the freshness of the food and air, the warmth of the people, the history that can be seen, touched and walked upon. I am remembering the laughter, the joy, the beautiful people who I met in that beautiful land.

I really must start saving for the next trip, for I am realizing that one trip does not satisfy the travel-bug, it simply feeds it.

Enjoy … and don’t forget to read tomorrow’s post! It might just change your life!

Carole
I awoke this morning eager to see what only illuminated my imagination last evening, when I arrived at my accommodation in the dark.

The image, above, of the Meseo Nazionale del Bargello (in Florence, Italy) did not disappoint.

Pigeons cooing outside my windows, as thy sunned themselves on the warm tile rooftops only added to my feeling that I was not awake, but still dreaming. Of course a nine hour time change, and about eighteen hours of airplanes and airports also contributed to the feeling that I was not awake.

This pinch me, am I really in Italy? trip was the brainchild of my good friend (who also happens to host the retreat) and the hubby (who really just wanted to get rid of me so he could have a week of burgers and pizza).

As one who had never been outside of North America this destination was not even one that I could realistically have said that I even dreamed of taking. As a matter of fact, just last week my son asked if this was a dream come true trip, to which I replied,

I just don’t dream this big.

And yet, though a trip to Italy has never graced my still-to-start-filling bucket list, I am inhaling each and every view, every delicious morsel and find myself continually sighing at everything in view, with delight (and there is so much to be delighted with).

I anticipate the themes of this week to be food, visual delights and sighing.

When one is in a beautiful place, a desired place, an anticipated place, light or dark, beauty can and will be seen.

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The image (below) grabbed my attention.

Two hands, one reaching down, the other reaching up.

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 9.21.33 PM

In the image I could see the multitude of times that I reached up for the security of the hand of the Father, Creator and Redeemer of my soul.

I remembered the tears falling down my cheeks, the throbbing of my head with worry, and the rapid heartbeat in a desperate state of fear. These were not one memory, one experience, but numerous ones, over the years of my life. Moments that could have been defined as desperate, hopeless, fretful or in despair.

These are normative experiences of any life. They are what we share in our human existence of life. Some days and seasons leave you breathless, lifeless and hopeless. The light at the end of the tunnel seems extinguished, or, at the very least, hidden from sight.

When we reach the point of total desperation, it is often then that we have the strength and wisdom to lift our eyes, our hand to the one who can save us … even if, when we raise our hand, it is in the form of a fist.

Acts 17:27 tells us:

“they might look for God,
somehow reach for him,
and find him.
Of course,
he is never far from any one of us.”

His hand is always waiting for us to raise ours. He already knows our heartache, our hardship … yet we need to raise our hand to receive the love, the support and, perhaps, even the resolution or redemption, that he holds out to us.

May we life our hand, accepting his in ours, for “he is never far from any one of us.”

 

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