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:

Friday Fave Five #109

fall FFF 1

It’s been a long time since I have posted. Some of you know I have had ongoing medical issues these past two years. I’m grateful that there is much improvement, though energy and stamina are still low.

I would like to jump back in to Fave Five by sharing some blessings from the last few weeks.

1.Annual visit from family in China Our son and his family live and work in China so time we can actually spend together is precious. Every year we eagerly look forward to the summer visit of our son, daughter-in-law and our three grandchildren.We’ve started a tradition of Grandpa taking the boys and Grandma taking our granddaughter out for a one on one special meal. They can order whatever they want and talk about anything they would like. It’s so much fun!Granny and Chloe at Chartier (3)

2.Family photos We had family photos taken for the first time in about five years. Our summer was cool and very rainy which created the perfect conditions for breeding mosquitoes. The evening we had pictures taken the mosquitoes were everywhere and the photographer snapped a funny shot of our daughter swallowing a mosquito!Family pics parents and siblings Emma mosquitoShayna, our photographer, captured a few other fun shots that evening.

Here’s one of all of us:Family pics everyone standing3. Travel Blessings Bud and I had to drive back to the States for about seven weeks in May and June. We have several churches we still partner with in ministry and it was time to catch up with them face to face and give a report of the ministries we are involved in. Because of my medical issues we were’t sure how I would fare on this journey but God gave strength and help and overall the trip went smoothly. We were blessed to catch up with old friends and make new ones. A highlight of the trip was taking a week to celebrate our 40th anniversary. We were married in a double wedding forty years ago and remain the closest of friends. The four of enjoyed an anniversary week on the coast of SC.

4. A garden in spite of circumstances My foray into gardening has come late in life and I am learning new things every year. This year I learned to set my hanging baskets in into a container of water to refresh them and it worked wonderfully. In the past we watered our hanging baskets only from the top and they would fade and die very quickly. This summer we deadheaded and watered and soaked those baskets and had lovely flowers for 3 months.

Our growing season in central Alberta is pretty short and most people here find it’s safe to plant at the end of May. I was hoping I could sneak in some of my plants before we drove off the first week of May, but a snowfall here a few days before we left put the kibosh on that idea!

Our daughters put in a zucchini plant and some herbs while we were away and we finished the planting at the very end of June The rains and cool weather made doubtful that we would see much of a harvest, but we have had pretty good results. Though my peas did not come up well, the green beans are producing like crazy right now. If we can stave off the nighttime frost, we should enjoy delicious green beans through the end of the month. That one zucchini plant gave us dozens of nice zuchs and the herbs, potatoes, and some other squash plants produced more than we expected. There is nothing quite like picking fresh produce from your own little garden!      thyme

5. The blessing of children I have been blessed to have my children live nearby for part of my adult life. Three of our five children have studied or worked abroad and all went away from home for university. Our youngest moved back home a few years ago after finishing her RN studies but was unable to have her RN certification recognized in Alberta without jumping through many very expensive and time-consuming hoops. At the end of August she moved back to the States to take an RN to BSN online course while working as a nurse. We dedicated each of our children to the Lord at their birth and are grateful they seek to honor HIm in their choices, even when that means they live far from home.                                                                                                                                              Friday Fave Five is hosted by Suzanne at  Living to Tell the Story  https://susannesspace.blogspot.com/

FFF #101

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!

Friday’s Fave Five #96

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!

1. Dinner out. We had a week-long guest who treated us to dinner last Saturday. It was delicious, and my petite steak was cooked to perfection. I’ve had to learn which restaurants take my food sensitivities seriously and which don’t. This place did, which made dining out a happy experience for me.

2. Shopping. Yesterday my daughter took me grocery shopping. I pushed a cart and selected my own items, something I have not been able to do for the past 4 months. I also graduated to changing a laundry load on my own, and knocked off a bunch of ironing this week. I still need help with many things, but it is wonderful to add to the list of things I can now do.

3. Unexpected generosity. Someone anonymously paid for two weeks of my cleaning helper’s wages. This young lady has been a cheerful and exceedingly capable helper to me as I continue to heal. When she told me of the gift I burst into tears of joy and gratitude. Benefactor, if you read this blog, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

4. Lunch out. After grocery shopping yesterday, my daughter suggested we get lunch out at our favorite restaurant in town. I was feeling quite tired from shopping, and I’m not a spontaneous person, but it sounded like a nice idea, so we went for it. My meal was excellent as usual, and I had plenty for both lunch and supper from that one meal. It was extra-special to spend some ‘girl time’ with one of my lovely daughters!

5. Evaluating I see the surgeon again on Wednesday. I feel my leg is strengthening, but I am still struggling with lack of stamina and overall strength. It will be interesting to see if one leg is longer than the other after this surgery, but it’s hard to tell that until I am walking on it normally. I’m also looking forward to adding more physio to gain strength and balance. Dealing with my fibromyalgia in addition provides an interesting challenge. If I push too hard my muscles are in agony and I am unable to do my physio for several days. If I don’t push enough, my strengthening will be delayed. I need a great deal of wisdom as I go forward, as well as listening carefully to the way my body responds to the exercise.

Photos from the past few weeks:

Vibrant colours

Balcony view

Cattail convention

Mountain corona

Prairie standard

Magnificent mountains

Friday’s Fave Five #93

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!

1. Alice in Wonderland These past few months have seemed very much like my own personal Alice in Wonderland experience. My body’s response to the meds I was on caused a great deal of cognitive impairment and emotional upheaval. Over the past three months I have experienced hallucinations, depressive thoughts, accentuated fears, and have regularly misread, misheard, and misunderstood much of what filtered through my brain. I heartily sympathize with Alice and all her puzzling and weird experiences. We made the decision a couple of weeks ago to wean off the pain killers, which I have done. I’m dealing with some pain as I increase movement and physio, but the mental restoration has been a blessed relief.

2. Health update Last Wednesday my surgeon moved up to 50% weight bearing to be increased to 75% weight bearing by the time I see him again on November 1. My x-rays show no movement of the prosthesis, which is good, and healthy bone growth around the bone graft. I have some new physio which once again reminds me how weak my leg is, but I am seeing increased strength and ability as I plug away at doing my exercises.

3. Snow and cozy fires We’ve had two snowfalls thus far interspersed with some beautiful Indian summer weather. My husband is a master fire builder and built us this lovely fire to enjoy on an inclement day.

4. Visits I have enjoyed some lovely visits from family and church friends the past few weeks. My pastor’s wife, who is also unwell, organized an encouragement tea and fellowship time for me with church leadership wives a couple of weeks ago. It was a blessing to spend time with these ladies and focus on God’s goodness with them.

5. Bowl of sunshine Some little ‘adopted’ grandchildren came over and plucked the last of the summer blooms for me from our yard. We put them in a bowl of water and enjoyed this sun-dappled bowl of sunshine on our kitchen table for a few days.

Thanks for your patience as I have been away from writing the past few months. I am hoping to resume my Titus 2 Thoughts very soon, as well as stay current with FFF now that my brain fog has lifted. Hope you too, have some blessings from the week to rejoice in!

Friday’s Fave Five #49

FFF daisies

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. Nature Sanctuary Monday is my husband’s day off this semester. This week we visited a nature sanctuary in the nearby town of Devon. Occasional thawed spots dotted the still-frozen pond where ducks and geese congregated in hopeful anticipation of a quick swim. A lovely boardwalk allowed us to meander through the preserve, the bracing breeze hinting at the coming changes of spring while patches of snow still clung tenaciously to the underbrush. At first glace everything looked brown and barren, but on closer examination I found pussy willows just beginning to show their soft heads. Here are a few pictures from our outing:

Pussy Willows

Nature Sanctuary

Shriveled berries

Cloud reflection

And, of course, a picture of weathered rural buildings!

IMG_5382

2. Photo Book Blessing I had some deals from Shutterfly and was able to finish a photo book of the wedding. A couple of problems cropped up when all my backgrounds and embellishments disappeared after I saved and closed the program before finishing my book. Customer service could not have been nicer to work with, and I was given an extension on my deals until their tech folks could work out the glitches. When I actually finished my work and was ready to order, I entered an advertised code and saved an additional $20 on my order of 3 books.

3. An New Life A dear friend who has suffer the miscarriage of 7 children is expecting a little one in July. We are delighted for this couple and pray God’s protection and blessing during this pregnancy.

4. Clarity God has given me some clarity and direction about a few decisions I need to make. I am so thankful for this.

5. Normal? What’s Normal? I’m finally catching up on things that were not priorities during all that surrounded the wedding – before, during, and after. I have some special events I am preparing for over the next few weeks. What used to be normal seems to be changing!

And just for fun, a bit of trivia from the lid of my Snapple bottle: Real fact # 1014 “Forty is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order.” There you have it!

Did you enjoy some special blessings this week?

Friday’s Fave Five #35

FFF spring

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

This has been a crazy busy week full of blessings and faith-stretching moments.

1. Our son is healing Sunday morning we received word that our son had been admitted to hospital in Shanghai where he ministers and works. It’s at these times that it’s hard for this mama to live on the other side of the world. Many friends joined with us in praying for David and he is now back home recovering, but still having to be treated with IV antibiotics. I’m so grateful that God watches over His own.

2. Sweet chirping of birds How wonderful it is to have the windows open and to hear the sweet chirping of birds outside! The magpies will swoop in soon enough with their raucous demanding noise so this little respite from their clamour is lovely. Yay for Spring!

3. New friends This week I met a new ministry sister and had a lovely visit with her. I’m thankful for my fellow pastors’ wives and the blessing and encouragement each one of them brings to my life.

4. Hi Grandma! I love it when the little ones run up to me and greet me with, “Hi Grandma!” When I was visiting my ministry sister a little neighbor boy told me he would hold my hand to help me down the front stairs because “You always need to help old people get places.” He was so kind and delightfully honest and thoughtful. I chuckled all the way home.

5. A partner in my health journey About two years ago I started a journey to improve my health. The year prior to that I was in so much pain and had such brain fog that my response to “How are you?” was simply, “I’m alive.” And some days I even questioned that. Every day I would drag myself through the day thinking, “My body is killing me.” God lead me to a caring family doctor who has partnered with me in this health journey. I am not a list of symptoms, but a person to her. She listens to me when I tell her about any medical research I have done, she asks for my evaluation after sending me to a specialist, and she supports me in making changes or using alternative remedies that others in my situation have found helpful. That blessing, that freedom of partnership in caring for my health, has allowed me to slowly improve and gives me great hope for continued success.