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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!

  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!

Still posting on Monday. Truly, my goal is to get back to posting on Fridays!

1. Spring has sprung! We finally are seeing sunshine and warm breezy days. I love having the windows open and hearing the background bustle of a small town: machines working on nearby construction, kids laughing and chatting as they walk, ride, or skateboard by the house, the mournful whistle of a train several miles away, and the joyful chirping of birds in our yard. Welcome spring!

2. Iron infusions almost completed – Monday I will have my last iron IV. People keep asking me if I’m feeling better yet and that’s hard to judge. After the first two infusions I felt pretty good but this last one left me achy in my joints with sore muscles and fatigue. My husband and I both have this intense lingering cough and runny noses from an earlier cold so maybe that’s the reason for the fatigue. Or maybe it’s still my fibromyalgia. Or ??? It can take up to three months to feel the full effects of the treatment, so I look forward to healthier days ahead.

3. Time with my daughters – I love having my daughters living nearby. They all live very busy lives so when we can all spend time together I really love it. Monday four of us went to a nearby place to get pedicures.

I’ve had trouble with an ingrown toenail most of my life. My hip dysplasia, (you know that congenital condition I never knew I had until mid-life) used to make me seem loose jointed, so I could whip my foot up near my face and take care of the problem myself. Armed with cuticle scissors, rubbing alcohol, antibiotic cream and a band-aid, I would soak my foot, sterilize my scissors, then painstakingly snip away the offending bit of nail hoping not to make myself bleed. Do you know how sharp the points of cuticle scissors are? Alas, I almost always poked myself in the process and had to apply the antibiotic cream and band-aid after the bleeding stopped. I was not cut out to be a foot surgeon.

Years ago, that poor toe became infected and my doctor had to remove part of the nail. It bled profusely which somehow made me feel a bit better about previously making myself bleed. Maybe it wasn’t my surgical skills as much as my physiology. But still, who wants to anticipate a bleeding toe when treating an ingrown nail?

I wasn’t shocked when the former nail place I frequented made the toe around my ingrown nail bleed – twice. Finally, one of the technicians took care of my problem perfectly so I would ask for her when booking an appointment. She was great! She helped me without causing me pain! And then she moved away. Sigh.

It took me a long time to gather my courage to try a new place. The first time my daughter and I went I had a technician named Kevin, apparently this location’s ingrown toenail guru. After soaking my foot, he gently wielded his scissors and clippers and within a couple of minutes the offending piece of nail was cut away without pain and without blood!

Monday Kevin helped me, three cheerful ladies helped my daughters, and we enjoyed chatting, smooth feet, and fresh spring polish on our pinkies. Afterward we visited together at the local Starbucks. It was such a treat for the four of us to spend that time together.

4. Moving on – A daughter of my heart and her children came over for a final visit before the family moved to the States for her husband’s exciting new position. I have been blessed and encouraged by this dear sister in Christ these past six years and will miss her and our time spent together. May God richly bless and encourage you, dear friend, in your new adventure.

5. Rosy cheeks – It has been almost a year since anyone told me I have colour in my face. These iron infusions must be helping because a couple of people have commented in the past week about me having some colour in my cheeks. Sure beats a sallow cement hue!

 

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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!

Today is a two for one special! First is the FFF I wrote for 11/3/17 but never posted, followed by today’s FFF.

FFF #97

1. Butternut squash soup – Butternut squash soup is a favorite of mine – as long as it doesn’t have nutmeg in it. I like nutmeg just fine, just not in butternut soup. This week I made a batch the soup using some herbs from my herb garden. It was delicious and tasted especially good after cold symptoms swooped down on me Wednesday night. Nothing like hot soup to treat a cold!

2. Check up at surgeon – The check up at the surgeon was encouraging. I have been graduated to full weightbearing as tolerated, but I need to continue using my walker and crutches until I get a few weeks of serious physio under my belt. I have been cleared to drive, which is nice, but when my cold swooped in, so did the snow. It’s been snowing lightly on and off since Tuesday and everything is coated with either snow or ice. The biggest concern I need to watch out for at this stage of my recovery is falling, so dealing with ice and snow just means I need to be extra vigilant, especially during these first few weeks of intensive physio until my leg and hip are stronger.

3. Football game – I enjoy watching American college football, particularly when my favorite team is playing (Go Buckeyes!) Last week the Scarlet and Gray came from behind to pull off a last-minute win over another very good team. It was a nail biter that last quarter and so much fun to watch!

4. Stencils – Some borrowed grandchildren discovered our stack of Tupperware stencils that my kids loved and used decades ago. Because my mom sold Tupperware for 30+ years, we accumulated many of the great, durable toys that TW made during that time. For now, my borrowed grands are loving designing pretty pictures using the stencils, and I’m enjoying their excitement and joy in creating.

5. Answered prayer – Our youngest daughter has been waiting quite a while for the next step in her RN certification process and she finally heard something this week, after about 10 months. The paperwork has been passed on to the next agency who will evaluate her credentials and let her know, what, if anything, needs to be done next. She passed her NCLEX exam on the first try and is certified as an RN in the States, but wants to be certified here in Canada. This approval will allow her to work as an RN here and go on in Canada to earn her BSN. We’re thankful for answers to prayer for part one, and are continuing to pray for the rest. Update: She next needs to take an English proficiency exam. Though her instructors were all North American, and her textbooks all standard US nursing textbooks, the school is located in China, so the approving board requires this English exam. We continue to pray!

FFF #98 12/8/17

1. BBQ – A couple of years ago my husband discovered a BBQ place in a town adjacent to ours. We liked the food, but the setting was not our favorite. Last week my husband offered to bring home BBQ from this place on his day off. Their in-house smoked meats were delicious and reasonably priced. We’re looking forward to take away from there again!

2. London – Three of my daughters just returned from a two-week holiday in London. They traveled with two friends and the five of them could split up or go together to see things that interested each of them. I love how we live in an age where we can be part of that through instant chat, online photos, and other media. Their posts and calls overflowed with excitement at the interesting and fun things they experienced. The five of them were even at Kensington Palace when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement!

3. Therapist – When I started physio in town last month I was assigned a therapist. Kristen is highly qualified and has listened to me and worked with me very carefully these past few weeks. She understands that I am working around fibromyalgia, weakness due to surgery, and currently living without any painkillers after over 15 years on a medication to help with arthritis pain. My progress is slow, but I am progressing! Our health plan provides seven sessions of physio for a hip replacement patient. Due to my history and the severity of my last surgery, Kristen will be applying for additional funding for ongoing PT, which I did not even know was an option.

4. Warmer weather – I had my last check up with the surgeon on November 1. That day cold weather blew in, it began snowing, and it snowed pretty much every day for the next three weeks. Swept away were my plans to enjoy my new freedom to use my walker to walk around our cul-de-sac on our newly-installed sidewalks. Too much ice and snow!  The past couple of weeks have been much warmer, the sun has been shining, and the sidewalks are finally clear. Maybe I can get that little walk in today!

5. Progress – I know some of you have been praying for me and I thank you for that. When we returned from the surgeon on November 1 I was excited to be able to put full weight on my leg (still using a walker.) I had great plans to get out and about in the neighborhood, and to drive to some places in town. Not only did it begin to snow that day, but that evening my ear and throat started hurting and I was set aside by a flu / cold for a whole month. My plans were put on hold as it simply wasn’t safe for me to do what I wanted in my weakened state. Plus the first two weeks of the cold I simply felt wretched.

My main job right now is my physio. I go to physio, then practice my exercises at home, apply heat to specific areas after, and try to gradually increase reps from week to week. Boy, are my leg and hip muscles weak!

Now that the flu / cold is behind me (except for the lingering occasional cough which is part of this particular strain) I have been getting out a bit more, which is nice. My surgeon wants me to focus on sustained movement and activity – if I go out and am active for an hour today (and I’m talking about doing errands or going to church, not snowshoeing or snow sailing), then I should be able to do the same the next day. My practice was more along the lines of go out for four hours then crash for the next two days, so I am working on making that transition. One of my biggest problems is still low stamina. I am exhausted after getting out for two to three hours and pretty much have to take it easy the rest of the day, and my sessions with the physiotherapist leave me exhausted.

I have been graduated to using a cane around the house. My hip area aches a bit less these days, though as physio is added and that area is stretched and strengthened that aching does return as I begin to work on a new area.

So this has been a long FFF. Thanks to those of you who read all the way through. I am more and more grateful each day for the many blessings God has given me throughout this unexpected journey. Blessings of family, and friends, and provision, and safety, and medical help, and so much more.

Hope you have a blessed week!

Here are a few Christmas cards from Purple Grandma Designs i made over the past few weeks (the protective sleeve causes the glare on a few of the pictures.)

 

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