Tag Archives: blessings

This Mysterious Blessing!

Our Mysterious Blessing

Thanksgiving for many of us means a table laden with steaming hot, delicious food, encircled by a beaming family, content to be together. We give thanks for needs met, and the abundance of blessings that fill our lives. Even as we celebrate, we are aware that we, the middle class, are the privileged. Giving thanks is easy, particularly in this land of milk and honey that we call Canada.

This year, I want to remind you of another reason to be thankful. This blessing is available to everyone, rich and poor, young and old, regardless of ethnicity, skin color, health and economic status. What is this mysterious blessing.

We can give, and not just money and material wealth. We can try a little kindness. We can give thanks to God for the privilege of volunteering. There is so much need in this world. Lonely people who need a phone call or visit, homeless seeking help and the gift of respect, teens desperate for a kind word, store clerks stretched to the end of their patience who need the blessing of your smile and your thank you. The list is endless. Those of us who are ill, shut-in, in hospital, are also blessed to give. We have the opportunity to offer the gift of compassion, love, a kind word. Even when we feel totally isolated we can still offer the gift of prayer.

This Thanksgiving, I challenge you to let go of the belief that gratitude only comes from what we receive. This Thanksgiving take time to give thanks to God for all the moments of giving you have enjoyed, all the prayers offered, money given, time volunteered over the past year. Loving and caring for others is an honour and a privilege. Jesus taught there is nothing better than to lay down your life for others.

An Amazing Opportunity!!!!

Hi Friends,

As you know, we are in Johannesburg, South Africa with my son Dave and his family. Dave and Jo teach at the international school of Johannesburg. Granddaughter Jenna graduates grade 12 this year and will be returning to Canada to study at Queens in Kingston.

This letter is about one of Jenna’s classmates and sports teammates, Noni   Dube .

Noni is an amazing young woman. At the end of grade 7, in her township school, Noni earned a scholarship to the International School of Johannesburg. Her courage, intelligence, enthusiasm and hard work, have now earned her a 4 yr. tuition scholarship to Trent University in Peterborough. For a foreign student to study in Canada, they must have the money up front to cover accommodation, food, return flight, books etc.  Noni lives in one of the “townships” of South Africa.  Although her single parent Mom, is hardworking, she could never amass that kind of money.

Noni wants to study overseas because she understands that an international education will empower her to help her people. Already she is part of a program to help young girls from her township stay in school. Obviously a top student, excellent athlete and team player, Noni is loved by everyone around her.

I believe that education is the first step to world peace.  As Mother Theresa so wisely said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.  This is our opportunity to share our abundant blessings through supporting Noni.

Noni’s teammates have opened a “Go Fund Me” site for Noni.

Please click Noni’s page  .  Read about Noni and her accomplishments. Please contribute to this beautiful young woman’s future. She needs your help, to help others.

 

 

Arrival in Joburg – Days 3,4,5

It’s Tuesday morning. I have three days to catch up. Our flight Friday night was excellent. I know that because neither Tom nor I slept at all. This time Tom had an aisle seat, praise God, and I was right next to him. We read, watched movies. I wrote up Day 2.

We chose to be the last off the plane. It meant we had lots of time to gather our stuff and hobble down the skinny aisle. Waiting for us as we stepped off was not one wheelchair, but two. I gladly appropriated the second one and collapsed into it for a long ride. Our wheelchair angels kindly stopped for a bathroom break along the way.

Luggage came through quickly. With our baggage in hand, they wheeled us to Dave and Joanne. After big hugs all around and a Canadian money tip for our angels, (all we had at the moment. They gave us huge smiles.  Probably was more than usual when exchanged for African Rand), we loaded into the car and drove to Dave’s. The weather of course was lovely – warm and sunny. We sat and talked on their patio for about an hour, then sank into bed. I slept two hours, Tom a little more.

Once awake, Dave made us a delicious supper. This is a vegetarian household. One of the blessings in that is both Dave and Joanne are excellent cooks. We managed to stay awake until ten.

Sunday morning was great. We started with Dave’s hearty breakfast.

Back home we had searched out on Google, the closest church. Dave and Joanne were busy that morning so Dave summoned an Uber driver to ferry us to All Saints Anglican Church. As you can see from the pictures, the architecture is a little different from home and quite beautiful. Inside everything was familiar except for the rows of clear glass picture windows that looked out on their parklike grounds. Being at Sunday worship grounded us. Anastasia, their new priest is a gracious and an excellent speaker. The highlight came at the end of the service. Anastasia invited one of the more senior members of the congregation to lead us in an African praise and blessing. The people’s voices came alive as they sang.

After church, we were welcomed, loved and fed, coffee, tea  and sandwiches. At one point, I looked out the window of the spacious reception area and spied a special visitor. A spectacular peacock had come to worship.

We didn’t have to call Uber to get home, because one of the congregation offered us a ride.  We were invited back  for our second Sunday. As always happens back home,Tom was told he was needed to help with the singing.  We will see what is on the agenda. A lot will happen between now and then.

We slept Sunday afternoon and enjoyed one of my favorite meals. Jo laid out a huge wooden tray filled with cheeses and sauces and crackers and bread and fruit and …..  We watched a little tennis with her while we ate.

Jenna stopped studying long enough to join us for supper. She is in the midst of her final exams. She’s in the International Baccalaureat program and a top student. Already she’s been awarded a scholarship to come to Queen’s in Kingston next year and study Kinesiology. We are delighted to have her back in Canada.

Monday was a quiet day. Jet lag had set in,V in earnest. We slept til ten, had a slow yoghurt breakfast. In the afternoon, Tom and I walked to a strip mall to the bank machine to fill our pockets with South African Rand. Problem: Back home in Canada I had been given the names of two banks that would accept our debit card. Neither bank was represented in the four machines available. We walked back to Dave’s. A Google search revealed the friendly Scotia Bank representative had given us the names of one bank in Senegal and one in Australia. Google told us to use Absa bank in Johannesburg. By this time, Dave was home from school and drove me back to the mall. My hip has been doing a lot of complaining.

The driver, Victor, for the next day’s excursion, arrived to check out Dave’s car and get his instructions. Victor is the father of a colleague of Dave and Joanne, a Phys. Ed instructor at the International School. He is also a retired driver for government celebrities coming to South Africa.crazy tourists. We will be in good, experienced hands.

That finished, Jenna, Jo and I slipped away to shop for a grad dress for Jenna. Of course, I had a grand time with that. It’s always a pleasure to take one of my granddaughters shopping. Once the dress was chosen and purchased, we relaxed at a restaurant for supper. I had crushed sweet potato and pine nuts on a delicious tangy white sauce and vegetarian falafels with avocado dip. Totally yummy.

We returned home to pack and get to bed early. Departure this morning was 5:30 a.m.

Angels, I didn’t mention our angels. Well, Dave, Jo and Jenna are certainly filling that role. It felt as if we attended a church full of angels on Sunday, especially the generous woman who drove us home. In some ways, Tom and I were visiting angels there as well. I did bring a couple of my books as gifts.

This morning we’re driving into the sunrise. The grasses covering the land alongside the highway are dipped in gold. This 3 day adventure to Lesotho and into the Drakensberg mountains to hear the Drakensberg boys choir has begun. The air is misty. The moon is nearly full. We are truly blessed.

That’s it for this morning.

Just Three More Days!!!

Three More Days to Christmas!!!

Today I am counting my blessings. To begin with, I’ve enjoyed the last hour in prayer. This is my favorite way to begin my day. Tom is sleeping – letting his body heal. The last few days have been filled with blessings. First and foremost, Tom is doing well with his new hip. Of course, he’s using a two-wheeled walker, but he is walking and putting some weight on that leg. At this point he’s doing well enough to wish he could do more. For me that is a great sign that he’s on his way to dancing this summer.

Our daughter, Connie and family have a new puppy for Christmas. They’ve added to the sacredness of this season by welcoming home a rescue pup. Oliver has brought joy into the household.

Image may contain: dog

I’ve been specially blessed over the last two days. Two grandchildren, Jenna, age 17 and Tim age 22, have spent a day baking Christmas cookies with me. They’ve filled my heart with joy and memories of baking with my kids.  In the midst of the crazy busyness of living, when there are so many demands on their time, they want to be with us. What a true blessing!

And yet, as is always true in living, there is sadness and worry as well. My brother-in-law, sister Gayle’s husband, is nearing the end of his journey with cancer. Today I give thanks that Gayle’s daughter Tracey, is being their anchor. Although we’re not together, Dina, Sharon and I are sending our love and our prayers to Gayle. The love of family is a precious gift. I am grateful for my faith and theirs. I can trust in God’s comfort and strength for all of them. I can trust that God will welcome Bruce home when the time comes.

And those are just the tip of the iceberg. Always I give thanks that I was born in Canada. I give thanks that my mother who raised me lived the Christian faith, and so I too had the opportunity to become a person of faith. All my life I’ve known that God is with me, guiding, comforting, strengthening and challenging me. I truly believe that God is there within all of us, all we need do is open our hearts to let that knowledge grow. Not everyone, lives in a family where the opportunity to learn about God is present. Yes, with three more days before celebrating the birth of Jesus, God with us, I am overwhelmed by the blessing of faith.

This morning I suggest that you take time out, for prayer and gratitude. I promise it will bring smiles and sunshine into your heart.

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

 

I Can Share! Hallelujah!

Aung Soe Myint (11yrs) I really happy for the Christmas time because we got presents and also we have school holiday. In this time we can play together we can eat together and we share our presents to each other. ( left to right Khin Myat Thu  (13yrs), wai Zin Phyoe (12yrs),Ei  Myat Maw (12yrs), Si Thu Aung (12yrs), Khant Paing Oo ( 12yrs), Aung Soe Myint (11yrs).
World Vision – Opportunities for a community’s children 

Today we received the annual report from World Vision for our beautiful foster child Layslla. In her picture we see a sweet young girl with a long ponytail. She looks much like any young girl here in Canada. Our Layslla is growing up. The letter tells us about the things she has learned because of our support. We are truly blessed to be able to be part of this program.

The best part of the World Vision Foster Child program is that the money we send benefits the entire community rather than just one child. When we write letters to Layslla, we are allowed to include little things like small note books, pens, pencils etc. We always send enough for Layslla to share. Sharing is important.

Many of us find it easy to give. We want to share our abundant blessings. We are not as good at receiving. Our culture teaches us that it is not good to be indebted by someone else’s gifts. “I’ll make it on my own, without help,” is a code we often live by. When I received Layslla’s letter today, I was reminded of the gifts we give when we receive help from someone. Our Layslla, gives Tom and I the blessing of being able to share. I am grateful.

We’re Home! Hallelujah! #travel #thanksgiving

Oct 12

We’re home! Hallelujah! Traffic on the drive home was pretty reasonable. We ran into bumper to bumper, stop and go traffic on hwy 12 just south of Orillia. Tom took my suggestion of trying a concession road. Because we know the area well, we were able to follow the smaller side roads all the way to Lindsay. By then the traffic had cleared and we came home.

We’ve had a wonderful trip and we’re glad to be home. I know snowbirds spend months away every year. I’m not sure I could do that. I love my home. This Thanksgiving day, I’m giving thanks for my home and our family. Tom and I are abundantly blessed.

When we arrived late this afternoon, the dining room table was beautifully set with my good china and silver, table cloth, cloth napkins and tiny roses from my garden. My daughter Connie, and grandchildren Ellie and Tim were coming with Thanksgiving dinner all prepared. We were so grateful. We’d stopped at the 24 hour grocery store and found it closed. Our fridge and cupboards were empty. Connie’s green thumb has kept our flowers beautiful as well. It was fabulous to see and hug the three of them. I talked with my son Brad (in Ajax) on the phone. We will see them later this week. We’ve missed him and his family too.

Thanks so much to all of you for coming along with us on our trip. Your comments and emails kept me writing. I’ve enjoyed sharing my trip and my pictures. Tomorrow morning we begin again our regular life. I’m leading a workshop on storytelling with children at the Canadian Biblical Storytellers Festival in Richmond Hill on Friday. Sunday I have the honour of preaching at the anniversary service of Norwood United Church. Over the next two weeks I have several more events. My life is busy and I like it that way. Blessings to you all. Janet

A Different Kind of Day

Sept. 16 Day 18

Fall is here in Salmon Arm. This is the first bit of red I've seen.
Fall is here in Salmon Arm. This is the first bit of red I’ve seen.

Today was a very different day. I awoke with the bites on my arm enflamed again and several new ones. I had waited for healing and it hadn’t happened. We went to the pharmacist who recommended an antihistamine but didn’t know what had bitten me. She suggested I go to the clinic next door and ask the doctor. My wait at the clinic was short but the results the same. He didn’t know for sure. Take some antihistamine and use some hydrocortisone cream to relieve the itch. Wash all your clothes you had in that hotel in very hot water and dry them in the dryer to kill whatever is in them. The bites will go away in a few days.

I drove Tom to the laundromat so he could begin the washing while I talked with Rev. Jenny Carter the new minister at the United Church in Salmon Arm. Jenny and I had a good conversation. She bought both Fireweed and Dipping Your Toes. When I returned to the laundromat Tom and I decided to buy a new suitcase rather than search for chemicals to kill whatever might be in there. He wanted to continue the washing so I shopped for the suitcase. By the time I returned the second time the laundry was washed, folded and waiting. The old suitcase had disappeared. Tom said, “I put the old suitcase on top of the garbage can for disposal. While I was tending to the washing machine, the suitcase disappeared.” We packed up and left.

The drive to Salmon Arm was uneventful. We snacked on crackers, cheese and grapes in the car. Once again the mountain scenery was gorgeous. The road wound around the mountains. With the speed limit at 100 km per hour, and the drop off considerable, I had trouble focusing on the beauty. My heart raced as I encouraged Tom to cut back to 80 km per hour. Even that felt fast. Of course the cars and trucks gathered behind us in a long parade. Every so often a passing lane appeared and our following roared by. I couldn’t take my eyes off the road, even though Tom was actually driving. So there aren’t many pictures tonight

We arrived at Carol and Ross’ home about 6 (I think). They greeted us with hugs and welcomed us, bugs and all into their home. Now that is friendship. Actually I think we’ve won the battle of the bugs. At least I’ve no new bites and the itching and redness is beginning to recede. Carol and Ross served up a delicious meal. Barbecued pork chops (a favourite of mine), potato and lettuce salads, carrots, and applesauce made a colourful plateful. Dessert was ice cream cake. The food was good and the conversation delightful. We’ve had a good evening together.

Was God with us today? Oh yes! I’ve never had such fast service at the clinic. I’m sure God smiled when our old suitcase was claimed so quickly. The new one came from Canadian Tire. I asked a young man in a white shirt for directions to the luggage. “Just this way,” he replied and started leading me to the back of the store. In transit, I told him our sad story about the bugs and bites. He showed me a Swiss made suitcase. “This is an excellent brand,” he said. The full retail price was over $200. It was on sale for $150. When I shook my head, the young man who happened to be the store manager said, “Let me see what I can do.” He went off to his computer and returned. That’s an excellent brand of suitcase,” he said. Back in July we had a huge special on these that’s why there’s only the one here. I can give you the July price of $67. “That was a bargain I couldn’t resist. We now have a brand new four wheel suitcase. I’m sure God had a part somewhere in that transaction.

Now it’s time for sleep. The antihistamines are supposed to be non-drowsy but I’m falling asleep as I type.

“Surely God is in this place.”

August 31   Day Two

We have had a wonderful day. August’s last day has been fabulously hot, a day to relax. We slept in till 8 a.m. My morning prayer time talked about the United Methodist tradition of “Holy Conferencing”, listening to words of faith from the perspective of others so we can grow in our own faith. That’s what we do when we go to church, discussion groups or just in everyday conversations. God has provided those everyday opportunities for me today.

God began with a morning of conversation with Sharon and Tom. Our words ranged from family events to politics and back. I was reminded once again of the blessing of my birth family. We keep contact by email but enjoying one another’s actual presence is amazing. I felt my love and gratitude deepen as we talked. Sharon is sweet and sincere and wonderful.

We walked to the mall for a little shopping after lunch. On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store for a bottle of wine. We had a good conversation with the clerk so I gave her my business card. She read it and said, “You’re a Rev. You must give hugs. I need one.” She walked into my arms for a long hug. As we left the store my sister said, “Guess that’s why we went in there.” I agreed. I pray to be God’s blessing for others and that was a totally concrete example of answered prayer.

Back at the apartment we went for a swim. I swam across and back our end of the lake. Superb!!! As I climbed out I said a prayer. Thank you God for the lake, for family, for my life. Thank you that once again I can walk to the store and swim a little distance. Thank you for the blessing of renewed health.

We sat on the shore and talked with Sharon’s friends. Our conversation was fun as they welcomed Tom and I into their group. It was obvious to me that this group loves and cares for one another. I was reminded of the value of close friends. That message was emphasized as we sat down to a supper of yummy meat loaf, homemade spaghetti sauce, provided by yet another of Sharon’s friends.

Tonight I am thinking like Jacob in Genesis 28:16, “Surely the Lord is in this place…” It feels like God has been speaking with me all day long. I am grateful.

August 30th Day One

God’s love travels with us. I am grateful.

We're on our way!
We’re on our way!

My fabulous driver.
My fabulous driver.

It’s 1:45 and we’re on our way. We’ve started with a wonderful morning. Rev. Nancy spoke on the story of Esther with the theme line, “For such a time as this.” For the last five years I’ve talked about writing an inspirational travel blog. I guess I’ve been waiting “for such a time as this”. The hymns, the prayers, the entire service seemed to affirm my intention to use this trip as an opportunity to seek God through the whole trip. This morning, surely God was speaking in our church, to me and I’m sure to many others.

Loading up was very smooth. Besides the car packed solid, we’ve a ski box on the roof. That’s carrying grandson Chris’ skiis and x-box and sundry other things. I think our car will be needing God’s help on this cross country journey. For sure it won’t be giving it’s customary low mileage, although the gauge in the car shows it hovering between 5 and 6 litres per 100 km. That’s still better than many cars. We must be driving on the wings of God’s Spirit.

The wonders of modern technology have brought us good news from home. Granddaughter Ellie and her under 15 rugby team won the provincial championships this morning. Grandson Zachary and his under 18 rugby team won the provincial championships this afternoon. All in all, quite a day for our family. It was fun to text back and forth and feel included. Oh, how I hate to miss anything.

By 7:00 p.m. we are settling onto my sister Sharon’s couch, glass of wine in hand wrapped in her love and hospitality. We breathe deeply of the delicious aroma of homemade lentil soup simmering on the stove, a gift made by Sharon’s friend, as a special welcome for her weary family.

Once again, God has reminded me that we are truly blessed. Yes, we have left family behind and we will miss them. And yes, we are travelling to family, our loved ones we see once a year or less. We will renew connections with precious friends as well. We are not alone on this adventure. God’s gifts of people, events, and scenery are waiting for us all along the way. I am truly grateful.

View from Sharon's study.
View from Sharon’s study.

Sharon’s apartment is on the fourth floor. This picture was taken from the parking lot below so I wouldn’t have glare from her window. The huge window with this view is a writer’s dream. She says I can use it this afternoon. Blessings continue to pour down.