Category Archives: Giving Thanks

I Love My Body!

I woke Sunday morning at 5:55. My alarm was set for six. My first thought, I love my body. God has gifted me with an inner alarm. I usually don’t trust it so I set my clock alarm, but I don’t have to. I automatically wake up just before the alarm rings. Tom appreciates my gift, too, especially on days when he doesn’t have to be up early.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember ever before thinking, I love my body. Usually, I look at my body and groan. Twenty pounds lighter would make my knees much happier and my clothes look better. I’ve got love handles, and a tummy that is rounder than it should be. My ankles are slightly swollen. My skin is dry. I’ve got lots of wrinkles. Those miserable brown age spots keep popping up here and there. Yes, normally I’m not at all happy with my body. And I don’t think I’m alone in this world.

Our society has taught us to be dissatisfied with our bodies. Watch your weight. Don’t eat too much. Exercise, Exercise, Exercise. Try this diet. No, try that one. If you want to be beautiful, you have to be thin. And so, the messages come at us, fast and furious.

My daughter is a child psychologist. She speaks a different message. “Learn to love your body as it is,” she says. So today, I suggest, appreciate the wonder of your body. Across from me is a vase filled with majestic, brightly coloured gladioli. On the windowsill, are delicate sweet peas. I can see their beauty and smell their sweet fragrance. At night as I go to sleep, I hear Tom whisper, “I love you.” I wake up, and I can still walk. My arms can reach out to hug my fabulous granddaughter.  And those are only a few of the wonders of my body. There is a children’s song titled “Oh, What a Miracle Am I.” It’s time we all tried chanting that line.

Yes, I can love my body even though it’s aging. I have decided to repeat those beautiful words, I love my body, every day as I get up. And give God thanks. What better way to start my day.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).

How Does God Deal with Our Choices for Evil

When a child dies. A well-intentioned friend sometimes offers comfort to the grieving parents with, “God needed your child in heaven.” A natural disaster, or strange misfortune is greeted with, “God must have had a reason.”

The Bible story of Joseph, the favored child, is often cited as the basis of this kind of thinking. Joseph’s older brothers, in their anger and jealousy, sold him to merchants travelling to Egypt. They told their father that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. Years later, his brothers, come to Egypt as refugees from famine. They meet Joseph as the prime minister, who now has the power to save his family from starvation. Joseph explains, “It was not you who sent me here (to Egypt), but God.” (Genesis 45:8).

THIS MAY COMFORT SOME PEOPLE, BUT NOT ME. The loving God I have encountered in my life and in the Bible stories of Jesus, tells me a different story. Our God given gift of free will means we can make good choices to love and care for each other and we can use our free will in anger and jealousy, as Joseph’s brothers did. Our loving God is never defeated by our choices. God has the power to bring goodness out of the worst we can do, BUT God does NOT need us to do bad things or to experience misery to accomplish goodness.

I believe Joseph had the position and therefore the power to rescue his brothers, because our loving God worked with Joseph to use his intelligence, his location and his faith to prepare him to forgive and help his family. God brought new life, amazing new life out of Joseph’s brother’s evil choices, just as God brought the resurrection out of our choice to crucify Jesus.

Some people would say this is just a matter of semantics, playing with words. I don’t agree. I believe that God’s love can take the worst that we can do, and the worst that can happen, and create goodness. But God doesn’t need us to make evil choices or experience painful things in order to create that goodness.

With this mind-set, we are not puppets in the hands of a capricious, often vengeful God, who requires war and death, evil and violence to accomplish goodness. No! No! No! With this mindset, we have freedom to make choices, good choices of love and care, poor choices, and sometimes even choices for evil. God can draw from within the results of our choices, even at our worst, the means to create goodness.

For me this applies to our resurrection story. My theology of Jesus tells me that he loved us so much that he wouldn’t stop loving us even when we were at our worst. God used that endless, generous love to bring the lesson of forgiveness and resurrection, NEW LIFE, not just for Jesus but for all of us.

When we trust in a loving God, when we open our hearts to that love, we will eventually see and experience that goodness. In fact, God invites us to participate in the creation of that goodness.

For this understanding of God, I give God thanks.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

GOOD NEWS #2

I did it. I did it. I’ve really finished round one. This afternoon, I finished the first serious edit of the sequel to Fireweed. Wow. This was a definite huge rewrite and I’m pleased as punch. Now before I send it to my editor I get to read it through all at once. I’m hoping that will happen tomorrow.  I may learn that I have to do serious edit number 2 before I send it off. After all, in her words, the more I refine my manuscript before she gets it, the less work she has to do. Those of us who self-publish know how important that is. Editors are amazing and they need to be paid for their skill.

Now I have hope that maybe, just maybe this book will be ready to publish by November. Wouldn’t that be wonderful. Now, I need a title. A friend suggested I should carry on the plant theme. The working titles so far have been – “One More Step”  and “Safe Haven”. Once I googled them, I learned that many many books carry those titles. I need something unique that fits the book. I will pray about it as I reread the manuscript. Maybe you will pray as well. Blessings to you all. Janet

Good News Twice!!!!!!!!!!!

My first piece of great news today arrived on my phone this morning. My wonderful nurse practitioner Melissa Campbell called me herself to give me the news.  The report from the ugly weird looking growth the surgeon removed from my chest two weeks ago IS NOT CANCER – NOT ANY KIND OF CANCER – NOT SKIN CANCER, NOT BASEL CELL, NOT ANYTHING HORRIBLE.  It can’t grow any bigger because it’s gone. It won’t return. I am so totally blessed. Today, I keep saying, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you God.” Hallelujah!

I have learned some very important things with this cancer scare. There’s more but here are a few.

  • There’s nothing better than a doctor who cares. Melissa is a doctor even though society calls her a nurse practitioner and she cares deeply.
  • I don’t like watching something alien growing on my body.
  • I am truly committed to having the sequel to Fireweed published. My writing is my ministry.
  • I still want to live. I’m not done yet.

“Will All Be Well?”

Yesterday Tom and I had a delightful day, celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary. We spent the day surrounded with family. We are truly blessed. Our blended family is an endless source of pleasure and love. We ended the day with granddaughter Ellie’s rugby game and dinner at the Red Lobster. As always, it was delicious, but Shelley, our waitress particularly went the second mile to make sure we were pleased with our anniversary dinner.

This morning we left home early. I needed surgery. The last two months, I have lived with a spot on my chest, growing and changing, while I waited for my turn with a surgeon. Of course, Google showed me pictures of what was actually growing on my body. The doctor did a biopsy. We waited for the report. She called me herself to re-assure me the report said, “not basal cell.” I believed her, but my spot kept growing and changing

My friends and family have prayed and worried with me. Their prayers and their concern have helped tremendously. From this ordeal, and that’s what it has been for Tom and me, I have learned a great deal. First of all, patience and fear require a great deal of energy. I have kept myself even busier than usual in to keep the anxiety at bay. Second, prayer helps. It’s wonderful knowing that others care. Their loving prayer released a strength I needed. Third, I already knew that Tom is wonderful. Over the last two months he has shown me that growing old with him will be the best possible experience. Fourth,my faith keeps me solid. I had no expectation that God was going to just wipe this growth away. I did know in the depths of my heart that God was with me and I would be okay. In the words of the ancient mystic, Julian of Norwich, “All will be well. All will be well. And all manner of things will be well.” No matter what happens.

Today, I celebrated all the way to Lindsay. It was coming off. I could hardly wait. Of course, there was a wait, of over an hour once we got there. I worried the surgeon might be called away to an emergency. But no, like most worries it didn’t happen. Now it’s done. Surgeon thought it was cancer. Has sent it away to be checked. He assured me he got it all and it would not reoccur. Well, I might get a similar type of growth at some point but it would not be related. So now I’m celebrating all the way home.

I am truly grateful. First, to our wonderful country and its medical system. Yes, I had to wait a bit, but I walked into the hospital this morning, had the surgery, walked out and paid nothing. I’m grateful. I willingly pay my taxes for everyone to have this wonderful medical care. Second I’m grateful to Dr. McNab and for his skills. He was kind, gentle and caring and he got it all. Thirdly and most important, I’m grateful to God for all the help over the last two months and for the gift of life. All IS WELL.  I am truly blessed. God’s Spirit is “the wind beneath my wings.”

Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even unto the ends of the earth.”

On the Road Again. This Time Vancouver and Calgary

Last fall when we were booking these flights, it seemed reasonable to find the cheapest. Travel is expensive and we’ve done a lot of it in the last seven months. We set up a flight to Vancouver that stopped in Edmonton. For the difference in dollars it sounded like a great idea. In actuality it hasn’t worked out quite as well as we had hoped.

We left Toronto last night one hour late, due to mechanical difficulties. In my desire to follow the words of St. Paul and think on whatever is good, whatever is lovely, etc. I have decided that it was much better to miss our connecting flight in Edmonton than to have our plane fall out of the sky over the prairies, especially in winter. I don’t like the cold. When we finally arrived in Edmonton we learned that the later flights for Vancouver were fully booked. Westjet set us up in a beautiful room in the airport Comfort Inn and Suites. We phoned Bonnie. She was supposed to pick us up at the airport in Vancouver. It was already midnight there. She was grateful that she could go to bed.  We had time for 4 solid hours of sleep in a king-size bed. Much better than stretching out on the airport floor.

This morning we’re aboard a Turbo Prop Dash Eight or Q400 .The tiny wings are loaded with a huge engine and propeller, so they have their own set of wheels. Flying in a small plane, feels much like being aboard a bird. On the big passenger jets it feel as if you are just boarding a bus, even though it’s hard to believe those monstrous contraptions ever get off the ground. With the Dash 8 we didn’t even have a boarding ramp. We walked out into the snow, across the tarmac and climbed the stairs into the plane. I let myself imagine I was one of those famous people, or politicians who wave at the world as they board their private jets.

It’s very cold here in Edmonton, so our plane was totally de-iced before we could leave. That is certainly an interesting thing to watch. This trip has been an education. Once again something good on which to focus. There are only thirty passengers. The plane can carry 50. Loading was quick and efficient. Deplaning will be the same.

My last good thought for you this morning. We are flying over the snow-covered Rockies. The clouds have parted and we can see them. Spectacular! Just Spectacular! What a bonus. We’re flying high but not quite as high as in an airbus. Thank you God for parting those clouds. Thank you for five minutes of soaking in your magnificent creation.

Yup St. Paul has the right idea. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things and…the God of peace will be with you…

I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want… (Philippians 4: 8 and following)

There shall be showers of blessings.

When I sat down to write this article, my eyes were drawn to the front window. I looked through a sprightly bouquet of tulips and iris, flowers brought by friends. “A touch of spring,” she said when she handed them to me last week. Past the tulips, I saw the leaden winter sky setting free snow that filtered down to thicken the blanket that already covers our yard. More snow, I thought, yuk. My eyes slipped back to the tulips lifting their blooms toward the window. I smiled. Thank you God for this touch of new life, a bright spot in my day. Thank you God for friends.

A little earlier that morning, I had driven our granddaughter to high school. Her happy smile greeted me as she ran down the steps and opened the car door. On the way to school, I told her that I had kissed Grandpa’s sleepy forehead and reminded him that it was his turn tomorrow. We laughed. Her eyes alight with fun she teased, “Guess I was up before you two. I was making porridge at six o’clock this morning.”  My thought was, Oh, how I love you. Thank you God for our Ellie. She is always a bright spot in our day.

Two gifts from God rest in my heart, blessings for this day.  In winter, I can easily overlook  blessings. So often I throw on my coat, leave it unzipped and ignore my hat and mitts left behind waiting on the cedar chest at the door. Once outside, I shudder and repeat my mantra to God, “I hate winter.”

Today, as I run my errands, I will snuggle into my long-johns and down-filled parka, pull my wild striped hat down over my ears and my warm cuddly mitts over my arthritic fingers. I don’t want to be distracted by the cold and discomfort. I want my soul open to more of those blessings that God has prepared for me.

I recommend we all endeavor to bring this attitude to our lives all year long. Whether it’s the weather that is uncomfortable, or our lives that have been tainted with misery, let’s do what we can to alleviate its effects. We can set our hearts and souls free to receive the love God offers us each day. Let’s notice, accept, smile and give thanks.

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Lyrics by Daniel W. Whittle 1883

 

A Sick Day

When we are sick, we feel old and hard done by.

Last night the left-overs tasted scrumptious. Very early this morning, they had lost their dazzle. The misery attacked Tom first and hardest. He eats more. I awoke to a thud. On his return to bed he had felt woozy and had fallen. I helped him up. He was soaking wet with sweat. “Have you any pain around your heart,” I asked, terrified of a heart attack.

“No,” he replied, “just weak and nauseous.” I mopped him down. Within half an hour I was in the same state with a much milder dose. We decided it was the curry. We ate it the first night. But, our body refused a second dose. Tom slept till noon today. I offered him water and plain rice with salt. He ate and drank gratefully and slept some more. By supper time tonight he seemed fine. He ate as usual.

Sleep and Supper – Good Medicine

The Lesedi Cultural Village is on hold. Maybe even until 2019 when we return for Jenna’s graduation. We do have two more full days here. We’ll see what comes.

As for adding to the world’s light today, there was joy for me in being able to care for my beloved Tom. I was grateful my mild dose slipped by quickly. I am grateful we are with family who care deeply about us. I am grateful Tom is feeling better. Thank you God. I offer that thanksgiving to the world.

A Day with Family

This morning Jenna, Joanne and I brought their three three canine family members to a dog park. This was not your normal Canadian dog park. We drove out of the city about half an hour to arrive at a multi-acre park set aside just for dogs and their caregivers. Within the fences there was luscious lawn, a small sparkling lake, heaps of long grass, all for the express purpose of exercising our doggy friends.

After a walk round, and Roger’s many swims, we settled down at a picnic table beside a pub/restaurant to have breakfast. The sun shone. The dogs romped. What could be better.  After about two hours, good food and lots of conversation we brought our exhausted dogs home. Like the dogs, I laid down for a nap.

This afternoon, Tom and I went for a walk, a long walk, to replenish our wallets with South African Rand at a bank machine, and to buy a stamp. We wanted to send a thank you note to Leonie, the owner of the Air B&B in Cape Town. The nearby shopping centre supplied the stamp but not the correct, ABM. We asked directions for the needed ABM.

“Just up the street,” was the reply.  The helpful security guide pointed. “You can see it from here.”

Tom and I plodded onward. The cars whizzed by. Slowly the lovely warm day became hot. This second shopping centre was under construction. I’m sure we walked a full kilometer around it, looking for an opening in the construction fence. We could see the bank we needed but we just couldn’t get to it. Finally, we found a fence break and walked through. Success – Well maybe. All we could see was barriers.

A workman in a truck told us to follow the gravel road which pointed back the way we had come, except it ran inside the fence. Up a hill, down a hill, around a corner we trudged in the heat. There was not point in giving up. Retracing our steps just wasn’t feasible. Eventually, we dragged our sweaty, thirsty bodies up a set of stairs (the escalator wasn’t working) and inside.

The security guard at the end of the dingy hallway pointed up more stairs. “Next floor and to the left. There is an elevator over there.”

I hate elevators in well-kept buildings. I wasn’t ready to step into a little box in this place. We climbed more stairs and found our coveted machine right where the man had promised. Our precious Rand securely stowed in Tom’s wallet, we considered shopping. Nope. Not here. Not now. We asked again about another way out. This time we were sent out through the parking building to a side street. “Do you know which way to turn,” I asked Tom. Not being directionally challenged like me, he nodded. And he was right. The wind had come up, which alleviated some of the heat. Still it felt like a long walk into forever before we got home.

NO nap. We had been away too long. We helped Jo prepare for the four families that were visiting soon.

Tom and I took time to Skype with Connie and Ellie. It sure was good to talk with them and see them on the screen. Although this is an amazing trip, we are missing home.

At supper time, Dave and Jo ordered in delicious Indian cuisine from a restaurant down the street. The food was delicious, the conversation stimulating. It was a good evening.

Once again, we were surrounded by helpful people. My biggest joy of the day, was talking with Connie and Ellie. I wanted to give them a big hug. Second in line was the walk in the dog park. Mind you the relief I felt when we finally stepped inside that shopping centre felt pretty good too.

As usual, our day was filled with God’s light. We had only to open our eyes.