Friday, August 31, 2012

Ten Things I'm Thankful For - 08/31

Happy Summer! 

Yes, it's still summer folks, so get out and enjoy every last moment before it's gone. 

My ten thankful things are always varied, and often so random, they don't seem to be making any sense at all. All kidding aside, I choose what hits me in a personal way, at the time I'm preparing a blog post, those things or events with or without people, those sometimes everyday, ordinary items which linger long in my mind and heart, long after they're gone. 

Guess where this photo was taken? 
Can you guess?

It's a good thing for the digital age of cameras. One can snap away, and snap away further to capture just that perfect, or ultimate photo that resonates with that particular cherished memory, to live on. and never become lost in time. 

Here's another ten selected things that I would like to present to you today. 

And, P.S. - Don't forget to hug the ones you love.  

 - 1 - I'm thankful for these assorted NHL Baby board reading books

How fun to find them at Costco in a package of four books, after I had sent two west to grandbabies over there some time ago.

I just love these! And our son/son in law thought they were pretty terrific too, reading them to their babies since. 

- 2 - I'm thankful for celebrations, where we tink our glasses together, be it whatever is before us. Water works, or anything other beverage. 

It's not just a tinging thing like in commercials of old. Remember the "Tang" orange juice commercials? The ones where the jingle sounded with "Tang every morning"? 

Well, how about tinking our glasses every single time we sit to eat, no matter who is with us, making everyone in our midst matter even more in our everyday lives, at every single turn of a meal serving. Oh yes, we tink our glasses over here. How about you? 


- 3 - I'm thankful for living in a rural setting, where "country" isn't just a setting on the radio dial. We have excited kiddos in our home because the local 152nd country fair booklet arrived in the mail. 

A yellow highlighter has doodled and worked its way through the pages of the book already, notations aplenty for entry ideas lay across each page. 

 Last year our daughter showed her bunny "Floppy" (shown here in the agricultural show's own cage), and after the fair weekend came home with both a red and blue ribbon, to represent a first and second placing in the various categories our daughter entered him in. 

Now this daughter has highlights for all of these entries; 
  • Male bunny over 4 years
  • Male bunny over 3 years
  • Bunny with the longest ears (ours is a lop, so you can imagine the long ear advantage already)
  • Bunny costume event
  • Best bunny fur coloring
There might be one missing here. Sorry, I just can't think of it right now, but you get the picture. This bunny of ours will be quite the show piece.

And then, let us not forget the many other additional selected categories they are also choosing to enter items in to, busy bees are brain storming already.

- 4 - I'm thankful for more health check ups passed, and all the fall ones to come. We're a little anxious at this point in time with my husband's surgeon. At his last appointment, the doctor casually mentioned he is retiring and will be passing my hubby's case to another, unknown surgeon.

It hit so unexpectedly from left field, mostly because this particular one he's had the past two years is a pioneer and the best of the best for the type of surgery my husband will be requiring down the line.

We'll just have to step up the prayers that another famed and well revered surgeon is awarded my hubby's famous and rare case.

- 5 - I'm thankful for collector buttons that blend into our modern culture to mimic each of the logo items, creating big smiles.

These have been quite popular with our gang, and they keep on making more of them. They're so fun to slip onto a backpack, or share with friends. Good going to whoever invented these goodies.

- 6 - I'm thankful for good old fashioned card games when friends reunite. 

Take note of two of the mothers in the forefront with their feet up, polished toe nails (grin), sipping our summer water and enjoying conversation and the game play before us. 

Actually, included in the play is a spectator who was thankfully playing tutor, so everyone learned to get the game going faster. Ever heard of UNO? How about "Dutch Blitz" ? Both are great games and I highly recommend them. 

- 7 - I'm thankful for a son who has friends that enjoy what he does. I'm pleased he's been part of a Marksmanship Team this year in his cadets, having learned all about safety for using these airsoft guns.

These photos were snapped before he donned his safety glasses, though the game these boys played entailed no shooting above the waist with those itty bitty plastic pellets. 

It's great to have a piece of property with forest trails that the boys can play hide and seek on, capturing the flag hanging from a small tree in the middle of the yard when able. 

Can you guess what he's saving up his money for now? No clues offered, just one guess.

 - 8 - I'm thankful for my recent trip with my sister. I know I've said it before now, yes I know I have. It was just what I direly required at the time, and I can't thank my hubby enough for quite literally pushing me out the door to take this time out and be with her, while he looked after the fort the entire time I was away. 

Having just experienced two trips within a short period of time between the two, I've not yet been able to begin capturing those memories on my blog more fully, though I intend to do so very shortly when things settle down here. 

The photo above was snapped on our ferry ride back to Hyannis, from Nantucket. My sister lives on Cape Cod, so it was a super convenient getaway for us to participate in. Just a few minutes from her home was the parking lot for the ferry. We walked aboard knowing we had transportation at the other end with our bike rentals awaiting us. 

A little reading in the setting sun streaming in through the windows by days' end was the perfect end to a great day! 

- 9 - I'm thankful for shady spots when a property summer maintenance project requires a cool break out of the hot sun. 

This project was simple, and yet a bit complex to power wash the stones at the front door area, allow them to fully dry, and then apply the proper sand on top, sweeping all into the cracks to fill them up for the finish. 

 Show, teach, and then hand over the task to son in training. 

 What a mess! He had to change his clothes twice! 

How dirty this area was with dirt, weeds and even some moss growing up between the cracks. It wasn't applied properly before we took ownership of our home, so this has been something on our list for a long time. 

Check! It's done now. 

- 10 - I'm thankful for another year of soccer now behind us. Yes, folks here in the arctic snow belt of Ontario, there is no such thing as outdoor soccer in winter. Indoor soccer in bubble buildings are the norm all over the Province of Ontario during the fall/winter seasons, but all the kids come alive again during spring/summer soccer season when they can get outdoors in the fresh air again. Our younger ones only play at this time of year, just for sport and because they love the game. 

Good job ladies!


And once more, I've uploaded ten more things that I'm thankful for, without rhyme nor reason, just scattered gratitude for every little bitty thing in these photos. 

Have you written down your ten things this week yet? 
Only ten? How about 100?
Yes, grab a pen and start getting ink to paper. You'll be happy you took the time to do so, for the memories will rush over your head and envelope you in a warm fuzzy mode of utter thanksgiving, when least expected. 

Blessings to all;

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Home Sweet Home!

What do 2 Weddings, a First Holy Communion, a 60th Wedding Anniversary, a Birthday celebration, and one more Wedding Anniversary have in common? 

How about three weeks worth of travel for myself and our younger two, with my hubby joining in the activities for the last ten days. 

Let's just go ahead and toss in a road trip as an aside, plenty of family reunions, and lots of baby loving.

Well now...2 of our road trip photos are included both above and below. 

Can you guess where they were snapped? 

Let's just say, it's not in the Mediterranean...grinning... but I'll sure be back to share more with you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Little baby cousin's picnic

Do you remember that sweet cartoon called; "Sugar and Spice", the one with two babies blabbering away to each other, in a language they both understood? 

No one else though knew what they were conversing about, not even their parents. I myself used to love reading those in our local weekend newspaper.

Well here's a modern day version of the same, with two Sugars and only one Spice. (grin)

 One little Sugar in the center, and our handsome Spice to the right, are our younger two grandchildren. The other sweet little Sugar is our Great Niece (ugh, that sounds old!). 

All these sweetie pies were born within a six week timer period, so close in age. 

They gathered with their mommies to get acquainted together. What a sweet little sight to see them sitting together. 

Slowly, our little Spice fellow wormed his way towards the Sugars, the toys enticing him to move forward. 

But wait! The Sugars noticed him there, and when he had his little hat affixed to his head, one little Sugar began to pull at it until she had it in her hands. The other little Sugar seemed to be shooing him away from the toys. 

I wonder what their conversation was. I wonder what was going down right then and there. No one will know for sure, though I highly believe, they were having a wonderful time together that afternoon. 

So sweet! 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

To everything there is a season, part two

My "word of the year" has been "courage" for many reasons. 

Little did I ever suspect how courageous I would be called upon to live, to step up to the plate and walk many times, solely and shockingly by trust and faith. These are the times when the ripple effect makes us feel like nothing makes any sense. Over time though, we hope all will be gently revealed to us.

 It has been my most fervent prayer this past year, secretly aiming to hold near and try to mend hearts, (even literally, if just my very own), in all stages of nurturing, love, shock, disappointment, support, grief, confusion, brokenness, counsel, and amidst the dreaded moments of misunderstanding.

There have been so many terrible illnesses, and many precious events, even some tragic, and untimely deaths are unyielding, and continue to surround us in 2012.
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak
It seems so much grief has come to call, and some days just finding the strength to offer support to others has lifted us up each and every time when we find ourselves reaching out, and becoming more useful whenever possible.

Like a deeply grieving dear friend recently publicly declared; "there wasn't meant to be a pause button in life", so we must continue to trust God's plan for our lives, even when painful hearts may overcome our human natures, just one baby step at a time. 

We as mere mortal humans tend to often pray during tough times for the gift of even more fortitude, followed by hope for all future things to come, when we're finally ready to begin trusting again in God's plan for our lives, remembering too that the "Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away".

In the blink of an eye, our lives as we know it can drastically change, and yet, they can be completely transformed with newness and unexpected beauty; the joy of a smile, and kind hearts shared.

A time to be born, and a time to die

  • Remembering those tiny three month old wee baby fingers and the coo of her voice.
  • Seeking a fresh visual memory of that sweet teenage girl's big smile, before the pain in her heart left her unable to remain on this earth any longer.  I'm very much feeling her mommy's heart ache day to day with her baby girl passed from her. 
  • Wondering how tough it must be for our friends, to have a gaping hole when a grandson/son is no longer present within his own family, dying in a tragic accident along with his best friend. 
  • Picking up the telephone to make a phone call, then remembering the loved one is no longer there to answer it. 
  • Several phone calls come in the middle of the night, they say doctors suspect a stroke.
  • An Uncle continues with radiation and deals with his diagnosis of brain cancer.
  • A cousin has been suffering again, and though the bone marrow transplant helped, he's sliding once more. 
  • The hospital situation leaves us wondering if a parent will ever be able to return home again, nursing there now since May. Pneumonia and sepsis had been the recent diagnosis, after he had already climbed from Cdifficile twice. He's so very weak and can't possibly return home this way.
  • Of course, right here at home, the continued threatening presence of a lingering xenopi bacteria, a non contagious form of Tuberculosis, somewhat dormant for now in the scar tissue of my husband's threatening deteriorating lungs from a rare disease.    


Oh yes, and above all things, we will definitely be judged for our hearts, and for how we have feathered or bristled our relationships. 

The fall out can wreak havoc, or it can offer immense blessings. We can choose which we prefer simply by our actions.     

It's; "a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance."

Sometimes we can create such a longing to be fruitful in some sort of way, and yet other times I find myself a baby pupil in this game of life, still learning that there are times when there is simply nothing I can offer, and nothing I can do. How frustrating is that?

I have been wringing my hands together now for over a year, so shockingly and often suddenly called to prayer, wondering if this will be the one, or the next will somehow break the camel's back.

The soft yelp that occurs while falling to my knees, sends me deep and beyond when begging for a sweet surrender, or ultimate heavenly word of comfort, either personally for me to grab on to, or to be able to somehow offer to another.

Trust and Pray

At times, I've sat wondering what will fall into my lap path next, darting about looking for a white flag to hoist in the air, futile attempts for a time out, for a hoped surrender, yet at the same time, I'm trying to remain cautiously optimistic.

I always find myself hoping God will reveal His plan for the monstrous, even bigger picture as each increased amount of anxiety and body jolting shock creates a further heavy heart which tends to become a momentarily bizarre way of life.

"Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful". 
~ John 14:27

Or, like I've been told by so many, keep my eyes on the promised words, because we can choose not to allow it to consume us.

Please join me in prayerfully gazing at Ecclesiastes 3:1, for there lay a whole host of possible blog posts during our many difficult or memorable seasons of life.

Celebrate with me how we are expected to live, to cope, and to be ever mindful of the presence of God's will in our lives.

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Lastly, I want to pass along the best piece of advice ever.

My suffering friend's 96 year old Aunt offered this advice;

"Don't Ask Why"

Yes, bad things really do happen to good people.

That is how life really displays itself in our midst. We wonder about it all, try to navigate our own ways through stormy seas, but at the end of the day, life is what we make of it, how we accept what comes our way, and truly, what is imprinted and contained in our hearts.

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away

Please join me my friends, that we may have faith like the mustard seed, and to have courage that our lives be "well lived".

May we truly believe that each of our days has already been ordained for us, all when HE already knew the number of hairs on our head, while still deeply comfortable within our mother's womb.

Ecclesiastes 3:1
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

To everything, there is a season...part one.


Reflections in the seasons of life...

It can become a forgotten priority to allow ourselves the luxury of a deeply reflective and pensive time period within our busy personal worlds, when quiet time alone is often, and indeed, a rare thing.

Reflect though we must, allowing ourselves a serenity moment, to recall, and to reel in a precious or prayerful moment from a time passed, to either allow ourselves an inclusion into our present thanksgiving, or to simply move forward with our day to day everyday normal type of living.

Oftentimes, it tends to make us smile when a memory bursts wide open our hearts, carrying with it a sudden burning love for someone, or some single momentary thing that hits a deep chord, filling our hearts with a burning gratitude for having had experienced it. And at other times, it's more difficult because it just plain old hurts like heck to even bother going "there". 

Bother we must to tweak up an even better future outlook, to press on, to make a wrong a right, to offer our assistance to help heal the brokenhearted, or to allow daily moments of grace by offering a tenderly spoken salve healing word, so a few unintentional wounds may heal, rather than fester and grow to create gaping future scars. 

Bother we must to prevent growing emotional snowballs, preventing a situation from slowly creeping up, fueling additional anxiety over time.

We must have courage in dealing with the depth of presented emergent issues, so we are able to weakly stumble along with a good measure, for continued walking paths remaining ahead.

The unexpected, or the sudden forks in our daily walkways tend to keep showing up in our dirty personal roadways, when the joy of laughter is usually the much more preferred method of encouraging our weary souls forward, instead of weeping buckets of unabashed tears seen openly falling from a moment filled with more upsetting or tragic news.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, He increaseth strength.
~ Isaiah 40:29
Just a word is often all it takes, or an announcement in an email or text, that perhaps offers a strong and mighty blow so difficult, we careen completely out of emotional control with the changing of stormy blowing winds. Or, we can trust the root system grown by protected seeds of great faith, surviving the tides of strong and windy storms which come to call.

I'm sure most will agree then, that reflections can either offer happy heart melodies, or tremendous stress filled moments. It is in those times, we must lean on Him for understanding.

On our family's calendar, each of those little squares looks like just another upcoming ordinary day, where a few noted things are already jotted down. Sometimes they are celebrations to bring forth, geographical places to be, or as usual, perhaps there are noted multiple things to do with deadlines appearing in bright bold print. 

There are times when we have a spare second, and are finally able to tumble out of our dreamy stupor, suddenly staring at memories revisited from former months peeled backwards, notations scribbled upon the same calendar, pivotal anniversary milestone moments, when we can at last become brave enough to sit back and take a deep, deep breath, realizing (in the midst of our busyness of life) just what in the world has freshly, or historically occurred in our lives during this same rewind timing. Emotions over these past months, have often felt raw.

I save my calendars to use as reference points for scrapbooking, memory building, and family queries. Don't you? Yes, of course you do too. Or, I tend to jot down important highlights from past years down into other journals at the very least. You too right?

It's all there isn't it, all the good, the memorable, the challenges overcome, and the tough, from our days passed.

We called these "Memories" of days gone by.

...Reflections of times past can either became a cautioned fear filled emotional memory roadblock, a futile experience when our heart swelling measuring cup finds itself dry, feeling absolutely empty, or these can be comparatively loaded with thoughts of ridiculously, most wonderful, warm and furry fuzzy, or maybe even silly, dreamy thoughts. 

In an instant, those very same mind-drifting reflections can become catapults, realizations clearly springing forward for our thought patterns to process, when we know for sure how we can become action filled for offering further assistance to others, choose better tactics for important relationship building, or even in making hospitality and people more important than some of the much more shallow silly things of life.

Life is short! 

If we don't make people our priorities, someday, it just might be too late...

Thoughtful reflections of time or space in our lives can equally catapult our minds into negative thoughts, perhaps piercing our hearts for the millionth time when we thought we were over ''that", a time when we begin momentarily stooping over, rushes of anxiety visiting completely involuntarily, and suddenly our bodies telltale what our hearts and minds have either buried deeply, or silently continue to suffer from.

Sometimes, we must reflect on the fact that even Our Lady was inflicted with Seven Sorrows, so why should we not have dozens, or even hundreds and hundreds more than her? I know I do. Have dozens that is...

Sometimes, in order to heal life's wounds, we must train our minds to become incredibly brave, and then to begin softly speaking up, if only to share the depth of our wounded hearts, to keep them from bursting open wide at the seams, yet at the same time, not wishing to create any sort of additional anxieties when performing such an act.

Sometimes, it's the only thing we can do to begin healing...

Back to our family calendar for a bit again...

On our family calendar, everything is boldly offered there for all to see the daily, weekly and monthly views at a glance, a place where continued doctor appointments fill our months' squares with scribbles and scrawls so we don't forget about them.

Perhaps, the appointment card is also taped there too, a secondary reminder, easily grabbed in a pinch when bolting out the door, offering further referencing on the day they are happening. 

I've made it a habit over the years to peruse the calendar every Sunday evening for the upcoming week, checking not once, but twice all those printed commitments, just so "my calendar brain" makes sense. 

I do my usual criss-cross referencing so everyone knows where, or when they are obliged to be somewhere, or do something, daily chores included and noted on it too. This summer, I've chosen to once again, color code everyone. Today, I see there is far too much 'blue' on there during July. That person may require a chat to review the month's worth of commitments to ensure they are all necessary or achievable. :)

There are so many additional "life moments" which spring up and we are suddenly emotionally unable to comprehend the landslide of more, which ever so slowly proves to clearly take their toll, our bodies seemingly showing signs of wear, tidal pools of erosion from deep emotion, sometimes feeling helpless at every turn, torrents of unwelcome anxiety visiting when least expected. These definitely aren't the easy times in life.

So how then are we able to feather our way through the thick and thin? 

How then are we to handle these rough patches, or plain old seriously rotten times?

Like the translucent layers of a yellow cooking onion, we need to peel the superficial stuff back to allow for a sun drenched and raw exposure. It is there where we are recommended to begin knitting any outstanding wounds closed again, to trust that God is our captain and knows exactly why all things happen for the greater good.
My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
~ Psalm 73:26
We reach meekly to find evidence and ensure ourselves that the human heart not stand frozen in time, rather begin to beat once more for our true passions in life, those things definitely worthy of our concentration; for our faith, family and friends who love and rejuvenate us, for those fleeting times when we find everything from the simple to complex to celebrate, to witness the colorful canvas which we have been blessed with, and so much more.

And celebrate we must!

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...

Celebrate anything relevant, or even the simple and mundane. 

Celebrate everything with gusto.

Be exuberant for the very gift of life itself. Shake it all up, and blend the darkness with the glorious, always remembering bad things really do happen to good people.

 I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. 

~ Psalm 61:2-3

Dig deep to pour forth a sincere heart, always attempt to remember the importance of remaining in the state of grace, to wipe away the dark spots on our souls, and to cleanse our attitudes so our fruits shine forth - that others to may follow by our good example. And oh yes, for sure, let us always remember to offer humble gratitude when necessary! 

Do this daily!

There is always, always, always, something to be thankful for.... 

And, there isn't any strong guarantee we will be blessed with a "tomorrow" to keep celebrating here on this earth.

 Birthdays, Baptisms, Personal achievements, and yes, even sunshine;

As the world turns, the sands of time never stop falling. They continue to spill despite moments of wishing they wouldn't, for the very physics of the situation makes it impossible for that to occur.

 I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
~ Psalm 61:2-3
These microscopic represented moments of life are supposed to offer historical checks and balances for realizing a life well lived, to ensure the choices we've made will suffice all moral and integral values. They focus our eyes on the importance of keeping relationships intact;
  • to possess both a loving and serving heart
  • to practice the art of contentment right where we're at 
  • to ensure we cherish our full bounties of warm family and friendship memories
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing...

and most of all...

  • not to allow any expansion for possible gaping holes yet unforgiven, which have already somehow inflicted pain in a loved one's days. Never go to bed angry is a wise motto. Never wake up without something thankful as the very first thing on our lips. Checks and balances apply here too, not just merely on the family calendar.
Oh yes, there can be unexpected pain and suffering, a true guaranteed happening in life. It can and will make us grow in character and become a stronger person, make us more appreciative by day's end, if only we but always remember to lean on HIM for a peaceful understanding amidst the continuation of the circle of life for all the fresh, new tomorrows to come.

Our aim (among many things) should be to uphold the faithful, to unite our hearts with loved ones, in good times and even in the bad times, to rejoice in the blessings and comfort the sorrows, always offering love and understanding, and purposely creating prayer filled days aplenty.

So we do exactly that - 
  • aim to bless 
  • aim to offer grace
  • aim to comfort 
  • aim to help heal the brokenhearted 
  • aim to keep loved ones near in our family/friend life bubble folds
  • aim to ease suffering
  • aim to serve
  • aim to forgive
  • aim to think of others first before ourselves
  • aim to create a measure of joy
  • aim to continue to offer our love
  • aim to make a new memory
  • aim to live our lives right where we are at 
  • aim to have a grateful heart, and aim to offer thanksgiving at every turn 

NOTE: This post was quite lengthy, so I've broken it down into two parts. Part two coming right up...