Friday Fave Five #112

Four Seasons – Monday I ventured out to Costco to pick up my phone which had been repaired. Though officially we had no snow, there were a few flurries gently floating down. Clouds scuttered past on that chilly morning while the sun fought to break through. As I came over a slight rise the sun emerged and illuminated a stand of poplars bright with autumn yellow leaves. Immediately the scent of freshly cut grass surprised me as I drove past a country worker busy shaving down the rural roadside weeds, grass, and late blooming wildflowers.It was a delicious serendipitous moment, a rare juxtaposition of all four seasons, and a delightful sensory gift and blessing!

Strengthening While at Costco I did some shopping. I was thanking God that I could walk around that massive store for an hour and half without pain. I stopped briefly at 2 other stores on the way home and carried in my 8 bags of groceries. You may yawn and ask, “How is that mundane stuff a blessing?” well, for me it was the first time in over 2 years that I have had the strength and stamina to do something this normal without help! On the advise of my massage therapist I have resumed some of my physiotherapy. I am so thrilled that the muscle spasms which plagued me after any exercise since my surgery did not occur and I am again slowly building up and working through the soreness to strengthen my weakened body.

College football A friend of my daughters smiled when she heard I love to watch US college football. She told my daughters I was surprising. (I’ll need to investigate that remark!) Surprising or not, I am happy to be able to watch most of the games for my team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. You can take the girl out of Ohio…..

Last of the green beans We harvested the very last of the green beans, something we thought we had already done. But those hearty bushes kept pumping out my favorite veggies until this week when frost silenced their productivity.

Ladies meeting God gave me enough ability to host and teach a ladies’ study on Saturday. Though I am solidly planted on the introvert side of the spectrum, God has called on me to teach at times. I am so grateful for His grace and help to do this after these past two years of minimal ministerial activity. The fellowship was wonderful and I needed the remainder of the day to recharge and rest, but it was a great blessing to me in so many ways.

A few more of my Alberta early fall photos:

A Poem that Encouraged Me

I have not posted in a long time. My health struggles are ongoing and the Lord is teaching me much through these times. A friend has been gently urging me to write during my trials and after much prayer and consideration I plan to start writing again. I won’t promise to post on any specific schedule, but as I am able to. Thanks for sticking with me.

We are learning this hymn at church and felt the author echoed my own sentiments in this ancient but timeless text. I hope this blesses you as you read it.

Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone can heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust

Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner’s prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there

Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet

Lyrics: Anne Steele (1716 – 1778) public domain

Friday Fave Five #88

On Fridays I post FFF to intentionally recall blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

1.Beautiful fields Yesterday my husband drove me to my post-surgical check up. We drove out of our small town, through the countryside, and into Edmonton. The fields outside our town are beautiful! Canola, wheat, and other crops undulated in the summer breeze. So lovely!

2.Improvement and doing ok At my appointment yesterday I had four dozen staples removed from my incision. During the hip replacement surgery, the surgeon followed the previous incision as closely as possible to prevent my hip and leg looking any more Frankenstein-ish than it already does. He was pleased with the healing of the incision and with my x-rays but reminded me that since this was a correction of a previous surgery, healing would take longer. He also wants me to continue featherweight weight bearing for at least another month when I next see him. I have been hopping around using my walker but decided today that I would also work on using my crutches. For a couple of weeks after surgery, I was so weak, dizzy, shaky, uncoordinated, and nauseous that using crutches was not advisable. I think working on using them a little each day will give me more choices in getting around.

3.Sweet kisses from grandchildren How wonderful to have my grandchildren here for these few weeks and to enjoy their sweet little kisses and enthusiastic take on life!

4.Helpful supportive family My family continues to be amazingly helpful and supportive as I recover and am still very limited in what I am able to do. Each one of them has helped, blessed, and encouraged me on this unexpected journey. My church family and the broader Christian community has also blessed me in amazing ways. I am so very grateful for every one of these blessings.

5.God’s promises At these times of illness and emergency I sometimes struggle with fear. I am deeply grateful for God’s words which are truth and for those who speak them to me in my times of doubt and struggle. I have been frequently quoting Psalm 94:19, a verse I recently learned. “When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” Amen!

I have not been out to take pictures since my emergency surgery so here are a few more photos from our June vacation in Holden Beach, North Carolina.

Askew

Marsh friend

Lovely lilies

Sunset reflections

Beauty all around

Sea oats on the waterway

 

Friday Fave Five #86 and Titus 2 Thoughts #2

Suzanne hosts Friday Fave Five at Living to Tell the Story to encourage us to count our blessings each week. This week I am coupling my Titus 2 Thoughts with FFF.

To be honest, I did not expect to be writing a FFF today. When my doctor called on Tuesday and told me my x-ray shows my most recent hip replacement has is broken and I will be scheduled for emergency surgery in the next day or two, I literally believed a day or two. The latest word is ‘sometime this weekend.’ My son asked if that means they have downgraded me from emergency to urgent. Maybe, but for now, I am supposed to ‘just use crutches’ and keep weight off that leg.

Just use crutches. Hmmm. Part of what I have been experiencing the last few weeks involves balance issues and motion sickness. Partner that with my natural lack of coordination and that little phrase ‘just use crutches’ is fraught with potential disaster galore. “Here, poor sick, sometimes-dizzy, out-of-shape lady with a wonky hip, just hobble around on these two little sticks. Keep your leg off the ground, oh, and press those crutches into your ribs. No, no! do NOT jam the pad into your armpits! Stand up straight! Grasp those hand grips and use your arms to hold your lumpy self up! No slumping! Simply follow these 25 easy illustrated steps to master the art of using crutches for any occasion.” It may sound crazy, but having to use crutches post-surgically is probably the thing I dread most about this surgery.

After my last hip replacement, I told myself I never wanted to go through hip replacement surgery again. A congenital condition, both hips replaced now, we’re done. Guess what? I’m not in charge. I can do ‘everything right’ and still not be in the position to control whether or not I have to endure something once or a dozen times. God is in control, and He orchestrates every part of my life for my good and His glory.

I’m an introvert and do a lot of self-talk. This can get me in trouble when I do not filter my thoughts through the truth of God’s Word. Lugubrious, self-focused Eyore thinking does not glorify God and is not helpful to me or to those around me.

My self-talk: anxiety and fear. God’s truth: Be anxious for nothing. God has not given us a spirit of fear. I will never leave you or forsake you.

My self-talk: What about the unknowns? How am I going to get through this arduous surgery and recovery again? God’s truth: My grace is sufficient for you.

Remember the children of Israel in the desert? God provided manna daily for them. If they tried to save up for the next day (with the exception of the Sabbath) the manna would spoil and not be fit to eat. In a similar way, God provides grace to help in our time of need. It’s not saved up like money in a bank but is instantly provided for each situation. That is a promise we can rest on.

So here are five blessings among many from the past week.

1. Protection from a potentially life-threatening situation because of my broken prosthesis. I’m not sure how long it has been broken, but I have had symptoms (that I thought was a flare up of my fibromyalgia) for at least 6 weeks

2. Loving family, church, family, and friends. I have blessed with flowers, cards, and the promise of prayer from many friends from around the world. My husband and daughters have helped in so many ways. My son and his family arrive in 2 weeks ready to help, too.

3. Getting my desk work caught up while waiting for the call about surgery. I finished some reports, organized some photos, filed some papers, and set up some automatic payments in preparation for my time in hospital.

4. Living at a time and in a place where I can be helped medically. Such a blessing!

5. All the wonderful ministry friends I met and fellowshipped with at the conference we recently attended in North Carolina. It was a joy to spend time with many who serve God faithfully across the globe, hear their stories, and learn of their hearts for the places where God has called them to minister.

Update! I just got the phone call. I will be admitted through emergency today and surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Here are a few more pictures from our recent vacation to Holden Beach in North Carolina.

Beautiful hydrangeas

Reflection

Marsh visitor

Sunset on marsh

Friday’s Fave Five #63

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

1.Family night I always enjoy having my family here. These days when four of my five children live nearby, we try and have family night at least twice a month. Several of our children have lived abroad and are back here for now, and one still lives in China with his family. I cherish these face-to-face times we have to laugh, eat, debate, and share God’s grace in our lives.

2.Rest I have had a low-key restful week, which I pretty much always need after we travel. When we are traveling it’s hard to know for sure that I am eating gluten-free and avoiding the foods that make me sick. I did fairly well – only sick twice – but am grateful to be home again and to rest.

3.Crazy, amazing weather One of the things we missed when we moved to Alberta from the States many years ago was thunderstorms. While we would enjoy an occasional storm in Calgary, it was nothing like the humidity-infused, light and noise shows that defined South Carolina storms. This summer we have had many breathtaking thunderstorms in the Edmonton area. But not only did we have severe thunderstorm warnings here, we had a tornado warning while we were in Saskatchewan. In a moment of craziness, Bud and I drove around and took pictures of the menacing sky and the beautiful sunset colours as the storm weakened.

"What tornado warning?"

“What tornado warning?”

tornado warning

tornado warning

beginning to clear

beginning to clear

sun behind clouds

sun behind clouds

sunset coming

sunset coming

after the warning

after the warning

 

4.Joy in truth I have been deeply impressed as I have been studying the Scriptures that God is for us. He is for His children. This does not mean that we do not have trials or difficulties, but as we go through troubling times, God is there, encouraging us as we learn needed lessons, comforting us as we encounter our own failings, healing us as we acknowledge our sin-soaked brokenness and turn to Him for help. I find this deeply encouraging and the source of exceptional peace in dark moments.

5.Truffles The Lindt Lindor white chocolate truffles are gluten free…..and oh, so yummy!

Have you counted your blessings this week?

Here are more pictures from our Saskatchewan trip.

hawk

hawk

taking off

taking off

circling

circling

hawk and hay

hawk and hay

thistle

thistle

moon in the mist

moon in the mist

over the rise

over the rise

fix building (16)

twins

fix building (7) - Copy

total abandon

fix building (4)

beyond the fence

fix building (3)

still standing

Friday’s Fave Five #48

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

1. This week we were able to enjoy the fellowship of a family temporarily here until their immigration papers come through to serve in ministry elsewhere. It was a blessing to get to know them a little this week. We’ve also had a fellow minister and occasional teacher at the college staying with us this week. He is a blessing to our family in every way and we always enjoy having him in our home.

2.Freshly returned from their honeymoon to Rome, our daughter and son-in-law regaled us with stories of their travels and explorations of the City of the Seven Hills at our weekly family night dinner. It was so much fun to discuss special places we discovered on our visit there a few years ago and learn what’s the same and what has changed.

3.This week I began rereading some of my missionary biography collection. I was looking to source a quotation which I thought was from Amy Carmichael’s God’s Missionary and ended up reading the whole thing. It’s a booklet, so not hard or long to read, but Amy Carmichael’s writing tends to be introspective and somewhat mystical so it requires some contemplation, evaluation, and simplification when reading her works. I did not find the quote I was looking for so began perusing Elisabeth Elliot’s work on Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die. Still haven’t found my quote, but I shall persevere! (Ahem * Grumpy Grammar Lady reminds you that this word is pronounced “per-se-vere.” Do not be bamboozled, hornswoggled, or flimflammed into saying “per-ser-vere.” There is no ‘r’ in the second syllable of persevere. But I digress…)

4.Someday some smart researcher will be able to definitively explain why cloudy days and stormy weather make some of us ache physically (my arthritis and fibromyalgia yell at me when it’s cloudy outside!) or feel down mentally. We’ve had a few of those days this week. I am grateful for every clear and sunny day and the positive influence they have on my outlook. More sunny days coming! Sunday is the first day of Spring.

5.I am grateful for brothers and sisters in Christ who willingly discuss thorny theological issues and controversial topics without judgement, but with an understanding that our mutual goal in any such discussion is to be made more conformed to the image of Christ.

I didn’t get much photography practice this week, but did get a few gloomy day pics of rural Alberta on Saturday.

Near Beaumont 2 Near Beaumont 5 Near Beaumont 7

What were some of your blessings this week?

But God…

???????????????????????????????For those in our church:  you really missed a great blessing if you missed last night’s service.  We had a special evening of testimonies and singing, and it seemed as if God drew back the curtain to give us a glimpse of what He has been doing behind the scenes.

Hard things

It can be easy to look at and even focus on the hard things, or the things we view as bad that are going on in our lives. I certainly have been guilty of this.  When we do this we forget that God is still there, still working out things for His glory and our good.

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery

Remember Joseph?  Hated by his own brothers – this is bad.  Sold into slavery – how could those brothers be so mean? Falsely accused and thrown into prison – that Mrs. Potiphar was really wicked.  Languished in prison when the butler forgot his promise – how could he?

The story, as we know does not end there.  Joseph was not only brought out of prison, he was appointed second highest official in the land.  In Genesis 50:20 Joseph reassures his bothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  When we look at part “A” and react to all the bad stuff, we are forgetting part “B,” “But God…”

Saul wanted to kill David

David, anointed to be the next king of Israel, had to be constantly on the move to avoid the murderous plans of jealous king Saul.  Day after day Saul pursued David and day after day David moved out of the way.  To onlookers this chase must have appeared to have an uncertain outcome, until we read in 1 Samuel 23:14, “And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.”  God was protecting David all along in spite of appearances.

Jesus was crucified

When Jesus conducted His preaching and teaching ministry many followed Him with gratitude and joy.  Yet one terrible day He was falsely accused, beaten, and killed.  His followers were shocked and grieved.  Some did not realize these events fulfilled biblical prophecies of the coming Messiah. Paul recounts the crucifixion story in Acts 13:29-30, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.”  What initially seemed to be a terrible injustice was, in fact, planned by the hand of God for the salvation of mankind.

But God…

When we arrive at the end of our rope, the end of our hope, the end of our courage, or the end of our strength, we need to be encouraged by the “but God” verses of Scripture.  Psalm 73:26 reminds us, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Forever means today, tomorrow and every day of our future.

God is still there

Are you burdened about something in your life, your family, your church, your wider circle?  As I listened to the testimonies last night I was encouraged that in every case when people got to the end of themselves God was still there, still involved, still leading, and still loving.  God is faithful to His word and is still using those who are willing to let go and give Him glory in their lives.

God’s choices

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 reminds us, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Take heart!

Something difficult may be happening in your life today.  Take heart! The same ‘but God’ verses which encouraged saints in the past are still true for us today.