Friday Fave Five #113

1. Opportunity to vote Canada called an election for October 21. Recently Elections Canada has offered early polling, more voting locations for registered voters, and the freedom to vote at any location in your province with proper paperwork and ID. My husband and I took advantage of one of the early polling days and found the polling station doing a brisk business. Yay for democracy!

2. Better than last year My firbromyalgia has flared up again. While there have been no dietary, supplement, or medical changes, the weather has certainly been colder, which seems to affect my body negatively. The thing is, even though I again have pain and some muscle spasms, I am in a far better place than I was a year ago at this time. For that I am very, very grateful.

3. Facetime and WeChat Though I am firmly planted in the prairies of western Canada, I have children and grandchildren living in China and the US. Last night I was working on a card order and chatted the whole time via Facetime with my daughter in South Carolina. On WeChat my 3 year old grandson in China left me a delightful audio message and my daughter-in-law and I discussed a book we are both reading via chat messages. What a gift!

4. Growth in understanding  As we age and continue in our Christian walk we can have “aha” moments where we realize things we were taught or things we assumed about what we were taught are wrong. I am grateful and humbled that God continues to teach us and transform our thinking as we filter our lives through His word. In the past we plowed through life and ministry without regular days off  and with only very occasional times away to recharge. Studying the life of Christ and the sabbath rest does not support that behaviour. Yes, there are times or even seasons when we need to set aside those restorative times, but there is nothing sacred or inherently spiritual about needlessly driving yourself into ineffectiveness or illness by refusing to rest and restore. With renewed appreciation we are looking forward to enjoying three days in the mountains on an upcoming mid-semester break.

5. Bathroom fixed Our main bathroom toilet leaked, damaged the subfloor, and caused some of the floor tiles to break. This week a local contractor did an excellent job of fixing the problem and replacing our flooring. We were without that bathroom for about a month so it is great to have it usable again.

These are a special order card and a few other cards I have been working on. I did post some of these on my Purple Grandma Designs facebook page, but many of you may not have seen them. This week I am organizing my craft area in preparation for making Christmas cards. Christmas is coming!

Special order card

I like the layered look of the desert scene with mountains in the background and cacti in the front.

Trying out one of my new Christmas dies!

A new die for my literature collection of dies.

This was fun to add details to this pretty die.

I am fond of the silhouette dies. The cat playing with the yarn is a cute detail!

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 #108

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.

 

Friday Fave Five #106

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.

Friday’s fave Five #105

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!

Friday’s fave Five #104

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.