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

1. Family time – Since our family from China is with us for such a short time each year we need to pack in a lot of togetherness in just a few weeks. Family brunch, kiddy pool, and games day made for a lovely gathering this week.

2. More family time – Our daughter and son-in-law hosted a family BBQ last week for his family and ours. It was so nice to touch base with Tim’s side of the family again and to spend a few hours together.

3. Garden joys – Because I came to gardening quite recently I am still learning much about making my garden flourish. This year besides my herbs, I planted kale for my smoothies, and a small amount of zucchini, onions, green beans, and peas. We have a couple of deck rail planters for flowers and a small ground level triangular bed near the confluence of two sidewalks. Sadly, I cannot get down to weed that bed at this point, so I rely on others to help with that bed. However, the raised beds and rail planters are easy for me to access and I have learned more about pruning and deadheading this year which has resulted in a more verdant garden. I have not yet cooked any of my delicious peas. By the time I pick them and shell them with my grandchildren we have managed to enjoy every single sweet pea that we have picked!

My beloved built me raised bed planters which allows me to tend to my garden even with my limited mobility and this week he and my son and daughter-in-law finished a third planter for me. It’s a bit late for planting up here in central Alberta but my husband went out to nurseries and home centers on a quest to rescue some end of season vegetable plants. After much searching he found some dilapidated tomato plants and our plant rescue project has ensued! We’ll see if together we can nurse them back to health and encourage them to produce some tomatoes.

4. Kids and grandkids – I am exceptionally blessed to not only have wonderful children, but also an amazing daughter-in-law and son-in-law. They are as dear to me as my own children and I thank God for joining them with our family. Our grandchildren are pretty special, too, and I love spending time with them and hearing their thoughts and dreams and observing the uniqueness of each one.

5. Health networking – It has been somewhat frustrating to try and figure out what I’m doing or not doing that has recently stalled my recovery. One element I never accounted for in the past was the gluten free aspect which has been part of my life now for over five years. Identifying and addressing food sensitivities five years ago made a huge difference in managing my fibromyalgia. Though I am diagnosed as gluten intolerant and not celiac, I have connected with the celiac community and share observations and discoveries with my fellow GF friends.

Recently a celiac friend asked me if I have trouble with raw veggies. I was surprised and relieved that I was not the only one with the GF / raw veggie digestion issue. I do pretty well when my raw greens are whirred to oblivion in my Ninja, but not so great when eating them whole or in a salad. They just do not seem to digest properly if I ingest quantities of raw veggies. Part of the problem is that I am exceptionally sensitive to the preservative that is used on most packaged and store-bought lettuce and several times have grown violently ill after eating salads made from packaged lettuce, so I avoid lettuce completely. In the summer I grow and use my own kale and in the winter I buy organic kale or organic spinach and manage that just fine. My physiotherapist mentioned using a grow lamp / hydroponics system to grow veggies inside during the winter. I’ll have to investigate that option for the future.

 

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

I’ve missed several weeks due to a busy schedule and ongoing fatigue and issues with my fibromyalgia. Thanks for sticking with me.

1. Family – Our family from China surprised us by arriving a week early for their annual time with us. We had no inkling this was the plan thanks to some sneaky familial assistants on this side of the world. It is an incredible blessing to be able to spend time each year with family who lives and works so far from us.

2. Health update – Last year at this time I had just gotten home from hospital after emergency hip replacement revision surgery. Though I have had quite a few setbacks over this past year, I am doing far better than I was a year ago. I am still dealing with some fatigue and low stamina and have been surprised to realize that social interaction absolutely wears me out. My doctor is working with me to try and eliminate any obvious reasons for this tiredness. I’m not quite three months past my iron transfusion treatments so perhaps I just need a little more time for that to fully take effect.

My one-year post-surgical checkup went well. The bone grafts and range of motion look good. I still need to do physio and was warned that a revision surgery means the joint will never be as stable as the original so lifelong strengthening and caution are both necessary to help avoid another revision.

There are several other health issues that cropped up during this past year and one may require surgery. After this long year of many health issues I am willing to try almost anything to avoid surgery again. We’ll see how the surgical consult goes first. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which health issues are simply age related. A friend recently mentioned she was having age-related health problems. She told me that aging isn’t for sissies. Yep. We’re a brave lot, and not always because we want to be.

3. Infused water – While attending a conference last month I was introduced to infused water served in those lovely glass dispensers. The fruit and herbs look so pretty in the dispenser and the water is flavorful and refreshing. For my birthday my husband got me a double dispenser with a nice wrought iron looking stand. My herb garden provides the perfect source for delicious and interesting ingredients for a variety of fruit and herb infused water combos. I’m having fun with both the experimenting and the delicious water.

4. Rural living – Though we live in a small town just outside a major city, we have to drive past fields of crops regardless of what direction we go when we head out of town. I love observing the various stages involved in planting and harvesting each year. Currently the canola fields are that trademark cheerful sunny yellow. Pretty soon the flowers will disappear, and the stinky sock stage will be upon us. Don’t you love my technical terms? Canola has a stage in the growing cycle when the plants indeed smell like dirty gym socks. Don’t you wonder who ever had the idea of using the seeds from this stinky plant to produce an oil you cook with?

5. New restaurant – This week we tried a delicious meal at a Brazilian steak restaurant. The salad bar had little placards above each item listing all the ingredients and indicating whether the food was nut, dairy, or gluten free. At lunchtime there are six meats offered and special servers move from table to table providing portions of meat cut from a long skewer. Each place setting includes a small set of tongs which diners use to hold the serving of meat while the server cuts it off the skewer. The meat servers brought by three kinds of beef, one of chicken and two of pork. Our server urged us to try the Brazilian cheese buns, a Yorkshire pudding style popover made with cheese instead of pan drippings. I told her I could not have any since I had to eat gluten free. She broke into a big grin and told me the cheese buns were gluten free and eating them would “change your life!” While they did not change my life in any significant way, they certainly were absolutely delicious!

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

  1. Quietness – I am an introvert and really appreciate and need quiet breaks after social interaction. These past few weeks have been intense and exceptionally busy for my husband and me. We left on Monday to spend the week at a cabin in a tiny lake community west of our large city. It’s very peaceful here, wind rustling through the leaves, a variety of birds singing and calling, and a general sereneness and lack of bustle that causes one to take a deep breath and sigh contentedly.
  2. Visit – On our way to the cabin we stopped and visited our daughter and son-in-law who live about 45 minutes from us. They moved shortly before my emergency surgery last year and my ensuing mobility issues prevented me from getting over to their new place for months. We rejoiced with them at their home and saw for ourselves the careful and beautiful way my daughter has lent her artistic touch to their home.
  3. Hot tub – Our cabin is a private residence with its own hot tub right outside the back door. How delightful it has been to soak whenever we want to, surrounded by swaying green birches and pines set against clear deep blue skies. My fibromyalgia responds well to the warm waters and I am grateful.
  4. Photo ops – Our schedules have not been conducive lately to enjoyable drives in the countryside to take photos. I love taking pictures of abandoned rural buildings and wonder what brought people to these remote areas and what eventually caused them to leave. This week we have captured some intriguing buildings and some pretty nature shots. It’s a blissful way to spend time with my beloved.
  5. Reading – My husband and I are reading (listening to an audiobook of) Eight Women of Faith by Michael Haykin during our time away. I appreciate and love reading about women in missions and those who have influenced church history. Some of the subjects in the book I have read about extensively while others I have never heard of before. The chapters are short enough to read one a day during our getaway and I’ve learned about some very inspirational women this week.

I’m also reading (yes, actually reading) Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. This book was recommended to me several years ago, but I am just getting around to reading it now. I’m a couple of chapters in and am finding much food for thought thus far.

Here are five pics from this week.

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

1. Mother’s Day – My daughters brought Mother’s Day brunch over before church. The weather was warm and sunny, so we enjoyed an el fresco meal while chatting and spending family time together .

2. Herb Garden – My herb garden is planted! I used my gift card from a favorite nursery to select about a dozen different herbs for my raised bed planter. My husband planted flowers in the railing boxes, and we need to get our vegetables in soon. The growing season is short but intense here with the long days of summer sunshine and I am grateful for the blessing of warm weather after a very long, cold winter.

3. Ministry friends – It ended up that the college guest speaker and his wife did not stay in our home this past week after all. My husband had a stomach bug right before they were due to arrive, so the college board did not want to take chances that I might get it and pass it on to our guests. We were able to host them for several meals during the week and were blessed by fellowship with these new friends.

4. Rest – God prescribed rest as part of His creative process. It has been a long and intense couple of months for us and we look forward to an upcoming restful week.

5. Loving husband – This has been a doozy of a year health wise for me. While the recent iron infusions seem to be nudging my stamina and energy forward, I still am fairly frail and unable to handle much social interaction or physical activity in a day. It has not helped that in my weakened condition I still am dealing with secondary conditions and even sometimes negative effects from the meds and treatments for these conditions. I am researching and deciding the best way to heal my immune system in light of my body’s particular reactions and requirements. Throughout this whole process my husband has been a kind and helpful support. I am so very blessed by his loving assistance as well as the help of my family and friends.

And a bonus blessing: Less than two months now before we see the these special kiddos!

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

1. Seeing improvement – The iron infusions appear to be producing results. My stamina is slowly increasing, the underlying muscle pain is subsiding, and I am thoroughly enjoying the renewed healthy-looking countenance. I still feel quite tired in the mornings but perhaps a recently diagnosed tooth infection has been contributing to that. I am so very grateful for each answer, each treatment, and each bit of improvement.

2. Book club – My daughters and their friends host a book club I’m participating in. We had to set aside getting together for a while due to complexities in all our lives but are scheduled to resume meeting next month. This time around we are reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook and am listening through a second time for clarity and detail.

A film has been made of this book. I’m not sure if it has been released yet but I will probably end up seeing it unless reviews indicate it portrays objectionable elements. (The producers would have to twist things around to do that, but isn’t that what happens sometimes with films?)

There are not many movies based on books that I have enjoyed once reading the book. My husband and I recently watched Unbroken and found it disappointing. Laura Hillenbrand’s book is full of rich detail and carefully crafted phrases which, woven and layered together, create a deeply satisfying literary canvas. Most of the movies based on books that I have seen have to either give you the Dummies version for sake of time or want to deviate from the storyline in the name of artistic expression. I don’t have high expectations for this film either, but we’ll see.

3. New gluten free discoveries – Trying packaged gluten free foods can be…..interesting. I understand that those who must eat gluten, dairy, soy, and egg free need to be more creative with baking and may not have much to choose from in prepared foods. So many of these items I’ve tried have grainy textures, are extremely dry, or are strange tasting. I’ve recently learned I’m not fond of the taste and texture brown rice pasta, but I do have a couple of other new-to-me Italian GF pasta products on hand to try soon.

After chatting with the dietician at the Ellerslie Sobeys earlier this month, I bought some Schar brand products from Germany. The cheese bites – small crackers in several shapes – are very tasty with no weird textures or flavours. Their Honeygrams also have great flavor and a texture fairly close to graham crackers

Tate brand gluten free cookies out of the States are exceptional. Both the Ginger Zinger and Chocolate Chip varieties have the taste and appearance of home baked cookies like no other GF cookies I’ve tried. I found the Zingers at the Italian Centre and the Chocolate Chip at Ellerslie Sobeys.

4. New dishwasher on the way – My new dishwasher is ordered and is scheduled to be installed at the end of the month. After chatting with the sales lady while she wrote up my order, she volunteered to give me free delivery instead of the usual $50 charge. And that was an unexpected blessing!

5. Yard clean up – The wonderful young woman who helps me around the house called me on Saturday morning. She and her husband and three small children wanted to volunteer to come over and clean up our yard. What a blessing their help was! The day was sunny and warm, so my husband and I prepared a simple picnic style lunch to enjoy with our friends on the deck at lunchtime.

Here are a few special order and other Mother’s Day cards I made this year.

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On Fridays (or as you know, sometimes later than Friday) I post FFF to be intentional about recounting blessings of the previous week. Suzanne sponsors this exercise at Living to Tell the Story and invites you to participate too!

Progress! I’m slowly creeping toward posting again on Fridays. Sunday instead of Monday is a tiny step in the right direction.

1. Iron infusions done – My IV iron treatments are done! My body is in the process of resetting and I look forward to greater stamina and improved strength in the future. Good thing they told me it takes up to three months to feel the full effects or I’d be chomping at the bit wanting to see quick results.

By the way, maybe some of you medical experts could clarify whether IV iron treatments are called transfusions or infusions. There seems to be mixed information about this. Even my nurses during treatment interchanged the terms.

2. Grocery savings – The first Tuesday of the month several local grocery stores offer 10 – 15% off your total order. This week I went to the Sobeys at Ellerslie to shop. They offer 15% off and have a large gluten free / organic / natural foods section that I like. On Tuesday I met the manager of that section, a young woman who is a registered dietician and loves to help people with their special diet questions. It was an extra bonus to chat with her in addition to receiving the discount.

3. Visit with a ministry friend – Another area pastor’s wife came for a visit this week. I’ve been so out of the loop the past year and most of my contact with ministry friends has been via electronic media. It was a special blessing to have face to face time with her

4. Dishwasher – We are reminded in Scripture to give thanks in every situation, but often I find my default reaction is complaining like the children of Israel. I have not yet quite figured out the blessing of the situation, but our dishwasher broke this week with a terrible grinding sound and the burning smell of an electrical fire. It already had smaller problem which would cost at least $100 for parts plus the repairman’s cost so we decided to replace instead of repair.

The dishwasher is my number one favorite kitchen appliance, but I have never had one perform without the need to call a service person at least once every two or three years, so I’ve always opted for an extended service contract. And, I do have an extended warranty on my dishwasher which would normally take care of service and parts, but the dishwasher and contract were with Sears which went bankrupt in Canada last year making null and void my contract.

When my DW went kaput right before a week of company and one of the most intense weeks in the year for us and the college, I slipped into panic mode. Prayer and common sense have since prevailed, and I am employing the Japanese style of dishwashing as my sister-in-law calls it – wash dishes under hot running water using a soapy cloth. I have reminded myself that I have someone coming to help me around the house while my guests are here, and I will be chill about dishes being stacked in the sink if I need to rest instead. I am still trying to recover from my unexpected medical journey this past year and fretting over dirty dishes is not worth a setback in my health.

5. Craft area clean up – I usually employ a delightful piling system when working on projects. I have everything spread out on my desk, the floor around my chair, and any reachable nearby surface. My husband calls me messy, but I claim it’s the hallmark of a creative mind. But to keep peace, practice discipline, and salve the twitchy part of me that is the highly sensitive person, I purge, clean and tidy periodically. My wonderful house helper is better at organizing than I am and her recent suggestions for taming my craft space are currently being implemented. It’s already looking neater and I really do enjoy the calmness a tidy space evokes.

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

Last week I posted on Tuesday so posting on Monday this time is an improvement, eh? Maybe I’ll eventually get back to posting on Fridays

1. Tax info completed – I worked through the week to get our 2017 files sorted and all our tax information recorded. I handed it all over to our tax preparer yesterday. In the past working on taxes was, well, taxing, and very stressful for me. This year was much less stressful, and I am grateful for that blessing.

2. Celebrating a record – or maybe not– Thursday the Edmonton area set a weather record: 167 consecutive days where the temperature did not stay above 0C for a full day. And the year to date warmest temperature in 2018 was in January. And it snowed a couple of inches yesterday. And we still have piles of snow in the yard. Hmmm. A few 10-degree C days should make it seem more spring-like. One can hope!

3. A tale of two coffee companies – My husband likes Tim Hortons’ coffee. I can’t drink coffee or black tea, but Starbucks creates the matcha beverages I enjoy. Our friends and family know our brand preferences and we are frequently blessed with gift cards for the two companies.

I usually register our gift cards to garner rewards, keep track of balances, transfer money online from one card to another, reload a card when it’s close to zero funds, and have a record in case a card is lost or stolen.

Recently we had problems with both coffee giants.

I had mistakenly reloaded two registered Tim’s card which had been previously tossed out once the card balances hit zero. In the past I would log in and, in a minute or less, could transfer funds from the registered card we had thrown away to the current card my husband carried.

I see you all shaking your heads. Yes, this little problem has happened before. You’d think communication between the one who uses the card and the one who reloads the card for him would be flawless after 38 years of marriage. It’s more a matter of the ‘throw away the useless stuff’ minimalist thinking vs the ‘this still can be used by someone’ collector and recycler thinking. Don’t worry. We’re still working on a harmonious compromise.

However, Tim Hortons has recently suspended the online feature which allows the customer of registered cards to transfer funds from one card to another, and I had to contact customer service to ask them to do it. I first sent an e-mail asking them to take care of this for me. Yes, it was my mistake initially, but could they please make the transfer for me? After one week I received a reply. I needed to call the customer service number for assistance.

So, I called. The customer service rep was very courteous and took down my information, informing me it would take 3 to 5 business days to take care of the transfer. She gave me a ticket number for my request. I could call back if the transaction did not show up online by the end of 5 business days. After 5 days no changes were made so I called back. Very courteously another CS rep apologized and told me she would resubmit the request but that it would take another 3 to 5 days to complete my request. This went on for over a month. Each time I spoke with a different courteous and very apologetic rep. They were sorry, they were unable to take care of the problem themselves, they would try and mark it as urgent, they were unable to call me back about the problem, and the issue was out of their hands. And each time was told to call back in 3 -5 business days. After a few calls one of the balances was transferred but not the other. Finally, this week, and after multiple calls, the money was all transferred.  A transfer which used to take less than a minute had taken over a month to complete.

Starbucks has recently changed their ‘recipe’ for the matcha frappuccino I enjoy. My husband will occasionally offer to pick up the treat for me on his way home from work but asks me to mobile order so he can grab it quickly. For a yet unknown reason when the recipe changed I was no longer able to mobile order the frap. It was still available but not through mobile ordering. I asked at my local SB and, unable to fix the problem themselves, they gave me the customer service number to call. A very courteous rep took my information and wrote up my concern. She apologized for the trouble and told me a district rep would call me within 48 hours to let me know why I was unable to mobile order my beverage. She then told me she had loaded $15 on my card because of my troubles.

Sure enough, a day later the rep called and told me that the mobile ordering for my drink worked fine in the States but until my call, SB did not realize we could not mobile order the frap anywhere in Canada, and that was a problem they wanted to fix. She contacted app guys in the tech department and would call me back when they did their thing. In the meantime, one of the managers at our local store has been calling HQ for updates and letting me know the progress of my request. Though it’s not fixed yet, SB has been going out of their way to keep me posted while working to resolve the problem.

My staunch TH hubby is now wavering. He could not believe how long it took to complete the simple transaction and how long our funds were unavailable to us one we requested the transfer. More frequently the coffee or tea he orders have not been what he receives. TH has recently fallen out of favor with many Canadians for other reasons, but our recent experiences have him singing the praises of SB, something I never thought I’d hear.

4. Blessings in the lives of my kids – This past week two of my daughters had some recognition for hard work and jobs well done. We are so happy for their success!

5. Anticipation – I am eager to receive my first two iron infusions this week. Though I have been warned it will take up to three months to feel normal again, I’m hoping at least to begin feeling better soon. And hopefully to avoid some of the side effects some people experience!

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