Friday Fave Five #82

Susanne hosts Living to Tell the Story and encourages others to share blessings of the week on Fridays. Here are a few of mine from this week.

Windows open and birds singing. We have had a weird, weird April weather wise. Last weekend brought a big snowstorm followed by a few spring-like days. The forecast is for more snow this weekend. Sigh. Despite the fickle weather, I am extremely grateful for the days when we can open the windows and air out the house. It’s nice to hear the birds singing, too. And spring can’t really be that far away for us, can it?

Technology Yesterday I had to go to Costco to take care of a problem with my husband’s new glasses and pick up a few things. I was walking down one of the main aisles and saw a display of drones for sale. I find technology fascinating (though my proficiency with it does not match my appreciation for it!) and mentioned seeing the display to my husband. We had to go back today to fix the glasses problem and while there, my hubby wanted to look at the drones. Long story short, we came home with an early anniversary gift for him. It was fun to watch him figuring out how the drone worked. An adopted granddaughter stayed glued to his side mesmerized by the buzzing and flying of the drone.

More technology My daughter-in-law does an amazing job of regularly posting photos and video clips of their life in China so those of us in North America can keep up with their lives. I’m grateful for the technology that makes this possible. Our youngest grandson is recovering from whooping cough and our oldest grandson from a stomach bug. Even though we can’t be there with them to help, we can pray for them during these times and have peace that they remain in God’s care at all times.

I love, love, love this picture of my grandson in a backpack in the change room while his mama is trying on clothes.

Taxes, part one. I finished all the accounting and other necessary information for our Canadian taxes and have turned it all in to our wonderful tax lady. Now I just need to pull together the papers I need for the US taxes. The hard part is done, and because we live out of the US, we have an automatic extension to file each year. Doing taxes is probably my least favorite responsibility and I am always very relieved when that work is behind me for another year.

Beautiful violets My African violets continue to thrive and it looks like I need to transplant them again or maybe prune them. My black thumb has evidently been banished and I am able to keep plants alive. Speaking of which, I am very eager to get my garden planted, but we need the weather to cooperate first. Last week of May is usually the earliest things get planted safely here.

I tried a few different filters on my violets photos. Which one do you like best?

For those of you who are friends on Facebook you have read the two installments about the ‘our’ ducks. Here are a couple of pictures of Drake and Dessa Duck, new neighborhood residents.

Friday’s Fave Five #47

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.

I stepped away from writing for several months for personal reasons. Today I want to resume the FFF and share some blessings from the past few weeks.

1. One of our daughters was married on February 27. It was a beautiful wedding with a peacock colours theme. We love our new son-in-law and are enjoying getting to better know his wonderful family. (Thanks, Nicole VandeKamp for this picture of the entire wedding party!)

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2. Our son, who lives and teaches in China, was able to come for the month of February (during the Chinese New Year break) and stay with us to help prepare for the wedding. His wife stayed behind for some intensive language study, but the kids got to come with their dad. Normally the whole family stays with us for a few weeks every summer so it was a special treat to have them with us in winter. Though we had unusually warm weather this entire winter, there was still some snow for the kids to enjoy. They loved playing in the snow!

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3. As wonderful and joyous as weddings are, wedding planning, preparation, and participation are exhausting! This past week we were able to get away for a few days to our friend’s cabin a couple of hours south of us. It’s in the middle of a large farming area where just about all that’s available nearby is peace and quiet. Exactly what we needed! My dear husband sacrificed some of his time to drive me around so I could get some photos of rural Alberta.

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02 Mountain view near Sundre 3-16

05 Torrington area fence 2

06 Torrington area fence line

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09 Torrington abandon

12 Near Three Hills

08 Near Olds 2 (2)

07 Torrington community hall

11 West of Torrington

04 Torrington ice fog 3-1603 Near Olds 2

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13 Torrington sunset 3-7-16

15 Torrington sunset 3-8-16

4. Because of my arthritis and fibromyalgia, ice is my enemy. Winters in central Alberta tend to be very icy. We have thoroughly enjoyed extraordinarily warm weather this winter, reminiscent of the welcomed Chinooks we so appreciated while living in Calgary. Today it’s 10 C (about 50 F) and ice everywhere is melting furiously. Yay to banished ice!

5. Our youngest daughter has completed her current phase of education and returned to us last month after her studies in China. It’s fun to have her home for a while. We are looking forward to seeing how God leads and provides for her and for each of our other children in future days.

It seems too early, but I have been reminded that we need to turn our clocks ahead this Saturday night. I don’t want to be late for church!!

Friday’s Fave Five #44

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.

1. Family time The past few weeks have been full of family time adventures. Our son and his family have returned to China and my husband is back to teaching as well as preaching. Fall is definitely in the air here and soon I will have to harvest my herbs and pull out the rest of the garden. Summers here tend to be short, but seem even shorter when you have to travel during part of it.

8-28-15 Canmore (298) c in a kids ride Sarah

2. Meeting important people Our second daughter is in a serious relationship with a godly young man. I had the joy of meeting Tim’s mother last Saturday and my husband and I will meet both of his parents tonight.

3. Gardening lessons Bud and I have learned some more things about gardening this summer. Things like don’t plant all your potatoes and onions in a 10 square foot planter and throw in a butternut squash and a Jenny Linn melon then edge it with green beans. You master gardeners scoff at our ignorance, but hey, we’re novices and won’t make the same mistake twice. Bud pulled the potatoes and onions at the end of July (all small because *ahem* they were so crowded), moved the beans to pots, and transplanted a zucchini to share space with the butternut and melon. Voila! The butternut and zucchini thrived, but it was too late for the melons for this year.

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4. Continuing health journey I head back to the surgeon in a few weeks for a one year check up on my hip replacement. The knee they said would have to be replaced next has been acting up since our trip this summer so we’ll see what they say about that. I may be the bionic woman before it’s all over! The airport scanners certainly think I’m something out of the ordinary, and flag me for a pat down every time. My overall ‘listen to your body’ plan is working well, though I have found it challenging to maintain equilibrium in my plan to manage fibromyalgia with our ‘new normal’ schedule these past few months.

5. God overall Spiritually these past few months have been a valley time for me. God is so kind, gentle, and patient, and has taught me to know His peace and comfort even when life’s circumstances inflict sorrow and pain. But I have also been the recipient of many joys and blessings over these past months. Our sovereign and loving God often intersperses joy with sorrow while weaving the tapestry of our lives. The result, by God’s grace, is conformity to the image of His Son.

6.  Taking pictures My husband and daughters have indulged me in my mania for taking pictures of broken down abandoned farm buildings. I love experimenting with light and shadow and learning what trying different settings will produce in my pictures.

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(Ok, so I can’t count and actually have 6 things this week. I’ve missed quite a few Fridays this summer so today’s is a bonus offer: 6 for the price of 5!)

Friday’s Fave Five #38

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. China calling Wednesday night I stepped into my office to turn off my computer. Just as I was ready to shut it down a skype call came through from my son in China. We had been playing skype tag since Mother’s Day when he tried to call. What a treat to be able to see his face and chat with him for a while!

2. New and improved My husband and brother-in-law fixed my herb planter that fell apart at the end of last summer. They changed the design to make it stronger. It looks great! They also worked on a second raised planter for my vegetables. How kind of them to use their skills for this project!

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Hoping this year’s will look as good!

 

3. Fragrant herbs Yesterday my daughter took me to a greenhouse to buy some herbs. Last year I missed out on the peppermint because I waited too long to buy my herbs. So far I have peppermint, spearmint, basil, oregano, and chives.

4. Hello sunshine! Since the weird spring snow a couple of weeks ago we have had beautiful weather. This week we have summery warmth and lots of sunshine. Ahhh!

5. Beautiful papers My doctor has moved into a new office. After my appointment there yesterday I stopped by a nearby stationery and wedding invitation store that is closing its retail site. I found some beautiful papers and envelopes I can use for card making, and all at discount prices!

Friday’s Fave Five #11

FFF tulips

Sharing blessings causes us to stop and remember all the Lord is doing for us even in the midst of trying weeks.  Here are some highlights from my week:

1. Holding a newborn baby There is nothing quite like holding a newborn baby, a helpless bit of humanity less than 24 hours old.  This sweet little boy has three older and very attentive sisters, and loving parents.  As I held him his wee little eyes would open just a slit then slowly shut again as he drifted back into sleep.  Precious!

2. Memories of my mother The little one mentioned above was born on my mother’s birthday.  I have been reflecting on my mother and her impact on my life.  We had a close relationship but there are many things I wish I had asked her about her childhood, family history, and especially the family photo album.  Who are all of these people pictured and how did they touch your life?  Makes me more thoughtful about labeling my photos and telling my kids about my childhood.

3. Kitchen herbs I bought little pots of thyme and oregano at the grocery store this week.  I can use them in my weekly recipe of soup and, if I defy all my past history, can nurture them along until planting time, which around here is mid-May at the earliest.

4. The Mind’s Eye recordings  My husband found some recordings online from The Mind’s Eye, a group of audio recording artists from the 80’s.  We used to own several cassette series dramatized by this group and they were very, very good.  We would listen as we traveled and our kids loved to hear the tapes over and over again. This week Bud and I have been listening to their dramatization of The Hobbit. They’re as good as I remember!

5. My family – photos from China My son, who lives and teaches in China, posted some beautiful pictures of the family this week.  My youngest daughter is enrolled in the nursing program our son oversees.  In just a few short months my son, his wife, their two kids and my youngest daughter will be home for the annual monthly visit.  I am eagerly anticipating that time together as a family!

April 2014 24 april 2014 25 April 2014 21 April 2014 11 April 2014 2

Quotes From Chloe…and Didi

Here are the latest funnies from my grandkids.  My son and his wife live and teach in Shanghai, China.  Chloe will be five in July and has some imaginative musings on life.  Many of her observations involve her almost three-year-old sibling Paul, also called DiDi, which is Chinese for little brother.  Dave has given me permission to share these quotes. Enjoy!

Once there was a little girl…???????????????????????????????

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Chloe: Hey, Daddy! I’m going to tell you a story, OK? Once, there was a little girl. And she was flopping on her bed. [illustrative flopping] And then, she fell down. And then, she got a BIG BOO-BOO! And then, her mommy gave her a band-aid. And then, her mommy gave her a BIG, HUGE cake, too. And some candy. And all she did was eat cake and candy ALL THE TIME. [exaggerate scarfing motions and sound effects]
Me: Hmm, I think you’re telling the story wrong.
Chloe: Huh?
Me: Yeah, because her mommy didn’t give her a big huge cake. Actually, she gave her a big …
Chloe: WHAT?
Me: Huge …
Chloe: WHAT?!
Me: Spanking!
Chloe: No, no, no. Because she was a good girl, and she never did anything wrong.
Me: But everyone does wrong things sometimes.
Chloe [triumphantly]: Nope! Because her name was GIRL JESUS!

I’m just like Batman!

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The kids and I are playing Batman.

Chloe: Hey …. hey, Daddy. I think that Batman is … um … actually just a daddy.
Me: A daddy?
Chloe: Yeah. He’s not a monster. He’s just a daddy because I see’d his chin. He’s just wearing a mask.
Me: Riiiiight. Nothing gets past you, huh?
Chloe: Daddy, what’s Batman’s human being name?
Me: Bruce Wayne.
Chloe: Can Batman speak Chinese?
Me: Uh, I don’t know. Probably. I think so.
Chloe: Just Chinese, right? Not English.
Me: No, he can definitely speak English.
::there’s a pause while this sinks in::
Chloe (with dawning delight): Hey, Daddy! I’m just like Batman! I can speak Chinese and English and Batman can speak Chinese and English! Batman and me are just the same!
Me: Just the same. For sure.

Wake up, Daddy!

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[At 5:30 on a Saturday]
Chloe: WAKE UP, DADDY!
Me: Mrghf.
Chloe: Daddy! Don’t you want to wake up? Look! It’s light outside!
Me: Goway.
Chloe [scornfully]: Daddy! Are you nocturnal or something?

I have to go to the office

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DiDi: Daddy! Will you lay on the bed so I can jump on you?!
Me: Sorry, buddy — I have to go to the office.
DiDi: *I* want to go to the office *too!*
Me: Well, the office is just for boring stupid people like me.
DiDi: I *AM* a boring stupid people! I’m going too!

The perils of Spiderman

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The family and I are eating out, waiting for the food to come. DiDi is playing with a Spiderman coloring book and has gotten hold of a Spiderman sticker, with which he is gesturing dramatically.

Chloe: I’m thirsty!
DiDi: [deep gravelly Spiderman voice] You’re not thirsty. I’m Spiderman.
Chloe: I’m really thirsty!
DiDi: [continuing gravelly voice] Do you like me? If you like me I will give you a drink. And NOWWWWW ::accidentally slaps sticker against table:: [Still gravelly] Oh. I’m stuck.

This apple is good!

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DiDi: Mmm, this apple is good!
Me: Is it? Good! We should thank God for these delicious apples.
DiDi: [hollering at the ceiling] God, this is REALLY good!

Old Books, New Treasures

Old books, new treasures

While organizing my missionary books I came across a small volume (about 3” x 5”) entitled Missionary Daily Text Book, published by The Religious Tract Society. There is no author or compiler listed nor publication date, though by the looks of the binding, endpapers, and pages it was probably printed in the late 1800’s.

The book has entries for each day of the year and highlights missionary themed scriptures and quotes along with notable missionary events for each date.  I’d like to share a few entries from this week.

The Judsons

February 19 – Adoniram Judson sailed for India, 1812. Mark 10:27 With God all things are possible.

Judson and his wife Ann sailed for India, but God redirected them to Burma (modern Myanmar) where they endured privation, suspicion, false accusation, imprisonment, starvation, the death of children, and finally the death of Ann.

Bud God allowed the translation of the Scriptures to survive and eventually many Burmese were won to Christ.  Our friend pastors a church in Calgary where a number of the Karen tribe from Burma worship.  They trace their spiritual ancestry back to relatives who were won to Christ by the work of the Judsons.

Longfellow poem

February 21 – Longfellow poem (taken from Hymn for My Brother’s Ordination)
And evermore beside him on his way
The unseen Christ shall move,
That he may lean upon His arm and say
Dost Thou, dear Lord, approve?

James Gilmour and Mtesa – Answers to prayer  EmilyPrankard411px-Gilmourjames

February 22 – James Gilmour sails for China, 1870
Mtesa’s request for missionaries given through H. M. Stanley    

James Gilmour was used of God to share the gospel in China and Mongolia.  His had the blessing of ministering with Mr. and Mrs. Meech, but longed for a companion – a wife – to share in his life. Not having any prospects nearby, he asked God to clearly direct and provide a wife.  His coworkers opened their lives to him and often read letters from home to the bachelor.  After seeing a picture of Mrs. Meech’s sister, and hearing her letters read in his company, James, having never meet Emily, decided to write and ask for her hand in marriage.  She accepted and God gave them a number of years of joyful marriage and ministry together in Asia.

Mtesa was the King (or Emperor) of Uganda who was converted to Christ.  He sent a message back with H.M. Stanley (of Stanley and Livingstone fame) to send more missionaries.  God blessed that request by calling a number of missionaries to Africa.

The view from history

Sometimes in obeying God’s leading we feel like failures or as if we are wasting our time.  Nothing is happening!  God does not seem to be answering our prayers!  We’re enduring such opposition!  These entries remind us that sometimes we don’t see immediate answers to prayer in our spiritual efforts.   It is essential that we walk with God, obey His direction for each of our lives, and leave the results with Him.  History will better display the eternal effectiveness of our Christian labors than what we are able to observe in the here and now.

photos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:EmilyPrankard.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gilmourjames.jpg

Reading About Gladys

Reading about Gladys

This past week I have been reading the books from my library about Gladys Aylward.  I’m working on a series of missionary stories Gladys Aylwardfor kids, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but am realizing I won’t always be able to whip out a story a week as I had hoped.  Though I am using only the books from my own personal library as source material, I have multiple books on some of the missionaries and it takes time to read or re-read these books.

So many books, so little time

I have read seven books and three articles on Gladys this past week and have two more books to go. One of the benefits of doing this concentrated reading on one subject is that you can understand the person from more than one perspective.  I love seeing how God uses such a wide diversity of people to accomplish His purposes!

Gladys loved God

So what have I learned from reading about Gladys Aylward?  I have been reminded that it is not education, station in life or natural giftedness that God is looking for.  Gladys was a terrible student and may have possibly had a learning disability.  She was from a working class family and was unremarkable in appearance and abilities.  But she loved her God and obeyed His leading. Her friends thought she was crazy, the mission board she wanted to work under rejected her, and most in her circle of acquaintances thought she was irresponsible for heading off to serve God in China with little more than her certainty that God wanted her there.

Child-like faith

Over and over again in her life Gladys demonstrated sincere child-like faith in God and His abilities.  And over and over again God proved Himself faithful to Gladys.  Her story is remarkable and I have been blessed by reading it.  And remember, her God is our God and He is the same today as He was in her lifetime.

So I will soldier on reading my Aylward books and hopefully soon write a kid’s missionary story as well as an overview of her life for adults.  Thanks for sticking with me!!

Continuing Quotes from Chloe

My son and his wife live and teach in Shanghai, China.  Chloe was four in July and has some imaginative musings on life.  Many of ???????????????????????????????her observations involve her almost three-year-old sibling Paul, also called DiDi, which is Chinese for little brother.  Dave has given me permission to share these quotes. Enjoy!

Music Appreciation 101

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I’m playing Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ for the kids, and I’ve cued up a series of pictures from Google Images to accompany.  They seemed to like it, though it’s not designed for the attention span of a four-year-old, I’d say. Here are some of Chloe’s thoughts on different sections:
On the oboe: That sounds like a little girl who is lost. It’s so sad …
On the bassoon: It sounds like a war! It’s … it’s too weird! It’s just weeeeeeird! ::runs out of the room, must be coaxed back in::
On the viola: It sounds like … like … like something I can’t remember.
On the double bass: I’m scared! ::genuinely cowering under the covers::
On the trumpets: Oh! Oh, now the prince is coming to see the princess!
On the whole orchestra: Are we done yet, Daddy?

Cookie Etiquette

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My son is eating a cookie when tragedy strikes — it crumbles in his hand, and a sizable chunk tumbles to the kitchen floor. He eyes the fallen chunk hungrily, so I say, “DiDi, we can’t eat it. It fell on the floor. Can you put it in the trash can?”

Obediently, the boy puts his cookie down *on the floor*, picks up the crumb, takes it over to the trash can, tosses it in, returns, picks up his cookie, and strolls happily off, munching away.

Sigh.

Bring me some triangles!

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Chloe: I’m a little mouse, Daddy! ::squeaky voice:: Bring me some triangles!

Homonyms

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Desiree is reading ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ to the kids.

Des: “… and members of the Tudor family.”
Chloe: ::giggling:: The *tooter* family?
Des: These are other Tudors.
Chloe: ::disappointed:: Oh.

The more prettier princess

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The kids and I are playing ‘monster.’ I’m slain with a foam sword (Chloe) and a dart gun (DiDi). I sprawl convincingly on the bed and give a few death twitches.

Chloe: Daddy, now you be a princess!
Me: OK, I’ll be a prince.
Chloe: Not a PRINCE! You should be a PRINCESS!
Me: What? Why? I’m a boy!
Chloe: [resplendent in one of her satiny dress-up outfits] No, you’re more prettier than me!
Me: [cargo shorts and a grey t-shirt] I don’t really think so.  Maybe I’m handsome. How about I’ll be a prince and you can be a princess and you can kiss me and wake me up?

Chloe’s quiet for a minute, so I figure she’s resigning herself to this. I close my eyes and adopt a kiss-me-and-wake-me-up pose. Then Chloe, channeling Tarzan, shrieks, “NOOOOOOOOO! BE A PRINCEEEEEEESSSSS!!” and smashes into my ribcage with a double flying knee.

Monster pumpkins

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Kelly: What are we going to play, DiDi?

DiDi: Let’s play school. Let’s play MONSTER school! [the boy is enamored of all things monstrous]

Kelly: OK! Do you want to be a teacher or a student?

DiDi: Um, I wanna be a punkin.

Kelly: A pumpkin?

DiDi: Yep. I will just be a punkin, awright?

Dessert

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Chloe: Look, I ate all my broccoli up! Can I have dessert now?

Desiree: Yes, you can. And when you finish dessert, it’ll be time for bed.

Chloe: [pauses, then gives Des a calculating look] I think this is going to be a pretty long dessert.