Saying Goodbye!

Goodbyes are never easy.
Goodbyes are never easy.

Saying good-bye is not easy. Practice does not make it easier. Two weeks ago, I woke up at four a.m. to help with the last minute stuff and say goodbye to our Bonnie, two- year- old Alex and three-month-old Lise. We’d been blessed with a two-week visit, half at home, half in Cuba. We’d laughed heaps, taken a host of pictures, played, talked and walked the floor with baby Lise. We’d enjoyed a wonderful time together. Their flight home left Toronto at eight a.m. Alex gave me a wonderful hug and said, “See ya.” In his short life, Alex has already said good-bye many times.

 

As I sat down to do my morning journaling, after they left, both the toys and I were already lonely. Tears lurked in my eyes. These three are not our only family members living far away. Several of our grandchildren have grown up and gone away to college. One lives in Vancouver permanently. Teenaged Jenna and her parents live in Johannesburg, South Africa. Saying goodbye is common today as families disperse around the world.

 

I’m grateful for modern technology. In a couple of weeks, through Skype on my computer, I will take Alex to the garden to see the tiny sprouts growing from the seeds we planted while he was here. When I lose patience with computer glitches and ever-present cell phones, I give thanks that they bring our far-off children and grandchildren into our living room regularly. We are truly blessed.

 

Yes, good-byes are difficult, but visits from our loved ones are well worth the pain.

 

“God, whom I so love to worship… knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask God to clear the way for me to come and see you.”  (Romans 1: 9-10)

Thought for the Day – An Unexpected Cruise

Our Cruise Ship
Our Cruise Ship

Yesterday we drove to Adams Massachusetts and returned as far as Kingston today. We went on line for a place to stay. St. Lawrence College offered us cheap student accommodation. It’s clean, sufficient, and reasonably spacious. The only draw back is the two single beds separated by the bathroom and the fridge – just not great for cuddling. Tom and I have shared a single bed before. It’s not great for sleeping. Best part of this of course – the price is definitely right.

 

It was already 7:30 by the time we had moved in. The sweet and handsome young man at the front desk recommended the Wolf Island Grill for a late supper. “The food is great,” he said, “and…the ride on the Wolfe Island ferry is free.”

Golden Oldies  Life Is An Adventure
Golden Oldies
Life Is An Adventure

 We managed the 8:00 p.m. ferry, just in time to enjoy the sun setting over the water. Our unexpected and very first river cruising adventure felt a bit chilly but we had brought our coats. We made a connection with a young couple, two friendly university students. The evening breeze didn’t penetrate the handsome young man’s jeans and long-sleeved sweater. The beautiful young woman was freezing in her jean short shorts and very light sweater. We talked a bit.

young couple

Tom, who always says he doesn’t do cold and is my sweet chivalrous gentlemen, gave her his jacket. Gratefully she cuddled into it. We exchanged names and heard about their university programs and hopes for the future. Together we enjoyed laughter and shared experiences. She took our picture. Tom gave her my card, and of course a sales pitch for my books. Our cruise across the St. Lawrence to Wolf Island was fun and romantic.

sunset 

We sat on the outside patio of the Island Grill and watched the end of the sunset. The waitress was sweet, helpful, efficient and fun. Turned out she had just graduated from Teacher’s College in Kingston, and would be teaching at an International School in Vietnam. Of course we shared our story of son David meeting our lovely daughter-in-law Joanne at the International School in Vietnam.

ferry returns
ferry returns

We enjoyed a gourmet meal. The food looked superb and tasted even better. We would certainly recommend the Wolfe Island Grill. We returned on the ten o’clock ferry, our tummies and our souls definitely well-fed. This delightful evening was a totally unplanned and unexpected treat. Tonight as I sit in my students chair, I am giving thanks to God for a safe journey and for this unexpected blessing. I believe God offers us this kind of joy every day. All we need do is open our eyes, hearts and minds and accept it. Blessings to you all.

Thought for the Day – Goodness Exists in Abundance

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This past week our news media has focused on the horrendous wildfire in Fort McMurray, “the Beast”. The stories of the evacuation and the calm and caring that happened in the midst of what could have been absolute panic and terror, speak volumes about the basic goodness in human beings in general and Canadians specifically. People can rise to the occasion. People are full of goodness. God has created us with that ability.

During  conversations with Fort McMurray residents and reporters, I heard affirmations of the city’s emergency response team as giving strong leadership with a wise plan.  There was also endless praise for the bravery and skill of firefighters as well. In my mind, it’s these two aspects of leadership in an emergency that enable people to be the best they can be. It’s hard to believe that 90,000 residents could be evacuated in the midst of a fire storm, and have no casualties. Some people would say, “Only in Canada.”

Now, the rest of our nation are following this leadership example by responding with help. Beginning with our Canadian government, and our nation of strong caring individuals, resources are being gathered. The residents of Fort McMurray are not alone in this disaster. Our nation is behind them.

We don’t always respond as readily. I could complain about those times but not today. Today it’s important to affirm the goodness we see. Maybe it was our universal fear of fire, maybe it was the kind of media coverage given, whatever the reason, this horrific event is showing us Canadians at our very best. I am grateful.

Thank you God for your goodness that has risen from the ashes of this disaster.

Thought for the Day – “May I Enjoy It?”

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I woke early this morning, sat in the brilliant beautiful sunshine and prayed. When I picked up my journal to write, the following words flowed from my pen. Maybe they will speak to some of you.

Tom and I have committed to taking a river cruise in Europe. We’ve read the brochures, discussed it with friends and are excited about our trip of a lifetime. This week we paid the last and largest installment. Wow!

I am struggling with the extravagance of this holiday. Over my lifetime, I have had only three other holidays that were not connected with visiting family or friends. Each of those were as inexpensive as possible.

This river cruise is totally different. It will be fifteen days of living in “the lap of luxury.” A trip designed for total enjoyment. As always, Tom and I will see and learn new things – but this time do it “first class”.

I feel like I am living the scripture story about the woman pouring expensive perfumed oil on Jesus’ head and feet. I can hear some complain, “What a waste – extravagance. That oil could have been sold and the money used to buy food for the poor.”

Today, those words are marching across my mind. I’m aware that the complainers’ words in this scripture passage have guided a great deal of my thinking over the years. Caring for and sharing with others has always been more important than caring for me. In fact, I believe that is Jesus’ “Way”. Yet, in this particular story, Jesus says, “Leave her alone. She has done something good. I have received a blessing. The poor will always be with you but I will not.” In essence, he says, “Let me receive this luxury, this blessing. (Mark 14:1-6; John 12:1-8)

Today, I’m focusing on Jesus words. The money for this trip has come as a family gift through inheritance. It has not been earned by either of us. We make this journey not because we’ve worked hard and deserve it. We make this journey because it is a blessing of love. Our task is to enjoy, to learn and to know we are valued. We don’t know what the future holds, but for sure we know we are called to be God’s committed servants striving to be the hands and heart of Christ loving the world.

Even Jesus had times apart, times for renewal and times of luxury. I give thanks to God for the love of family that has enabled this wonderful opportunity. May this extravagance equip us to serve God more faithfully every day.

Why Do We Think the Worst of God?

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In ancient times, people believed the gods to be in total control of everything that happened. If the weather didn’t co-operate for farming, the god of the fields was meting out punishment for some wrongdoing. If the harvest was abundant the same god or a different one was rewarding hard work with prosperity. Problem – it didn’t work. The good still had difficulties.

In Jesus time, the Jewish people transferred this same understanding to their one God. The goal was to please God and everything would go well. Problem: It didn’t work. The good still got sick and their crops failed during a famine.

Today, that simple belief that we can blame God for every problem is still with us. If we break a bone, we ask, “Why did this happen?” We search our hearts and our past, for the mistakes we’ve made that would cause God to punish us. We lament, “There must be a reason God would do this to me or let this happen to me.”  Problem: It doesn’t work. Just as in ancient times, good people get sick, greedy people sometimes do well. Why then do we blame God?

The 23rd Psalm tells us God is with us “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” Jesus said, “I will be with you always.” (Matthew 28:20) Never does he say: “Believe in me and your life will be totally smooth.”

In my book “Fireweed”, the main character Renee learns that this fundamental belief in a “Mr. Fix It, God”, totally failed her. Her Mom was a good person who cared for others yet she was killed in a car accident. Throughout the book Renee comes to understand God, as her companion, her teacher, her guide, her support, her comforter.

As parents, we can’t fix our children’s life. As our parent, God doesn’t “fix” our lives either.

I invite you to let go of those old beliefs in a cold punishing God. Celebrate our wonderful loving God who travels with us, helping us to become the best we can be.