The Ultimate List

The list.

My life seem to be ordered by the numbers and all that was written behind them…on the list.

Each item on my hastily handwritten list seemed to blur into each other as the day wore on. The numbers seemed to keep my mind in order if nothing else.

The charismatic check mark beside each completed task seemed satisfying for but a brief moment. Another swift check of my pen was needed to get the same high…rush. It was becoming an addiction of sorts.

TO DO:

1. Bread, eggs, milk,

2. pick up Christmas gift

3. oil change

4. vacuum, dust

5. turn on crock pot

6 . coffee date

7. Christmas program

8. wash floor

9. Bread, eggs, milk…

The list seemed to come full circle… never ending.

My eyes fell on number 9. My list had just begun as I saw all the numbered “to dos” below it. All were important to some degree. Yet as I checked off number 18 for that day… The satisfaction still wained.

In the writing of my book IN THE MOMENT, “to do” lists were absolutely necessary, no question as much in life is, yet I struggled with the satisfaction metre of it all.

As I sat in my favourite chair, virtual fireplace a glow, casting its light on my view of the recently decorated, YouTube directed Christmas tree, my heart started hearing of a new, different kind of list, not to substitute the everyday list of necessities but a list none the less to trump all lists.

Inviting my God on my “bench”… or comfy couch that day, to glean wisdom and perhaps revelations surrounding this idea… I began to make a list … A list of all lists.

My favourite pen formed the words:

Thankful for”

It became number one on this new list. What was I thankful for today? My children, husband, health… a new day? The possibilities were really endless.

It took me aback for a few moments as a list grew quickly and almost effortless it seemed. Yet once started, my pen stopped short as I started writing;

“Thankful for opportunities to show Grace to those around me, the grace given to me from my God when faced with hurts and the ugliness of how this fallen world operates in our lives.”

I had never thought to be thankful for this before.

Opportunity…. hmm… perspective.

Not mine at this point, but that of my “visitor” on my bench as he enveloped my heart and my mind as the details of this list began to unfold.

I continued with a few more unlikely thankful opportunities. The list seemed to become alive as opposed to just ink on the page.

The next part of the list began with the words;

“Who am I?”

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend… the list seemed rather easy, but my visitor quietly reminded me;

“You are a daughter of the most high King… Blessed, righteous, incredibly loved….

and the list went on.

It was a much deeper answer to “Who am I?”

My heart welled up as I continued with the list of all lists, painting my day with the truth of who am I? It put my feet on solid ground with which to face my day.

What now?”

Seemed to naturally come next.

I wasn’t quite sure as to the importance of this part of the list, but as I continued my time in my comfy chair with my visitor, it became clear it was to be a direction… a direction for each day… each moment that would present in my everyday life.

“What now?”

I wouldn’t be able to look back in time for this answer, because “now” didn’t allow for looking back.

“Now” was a hope. “Now” was what I had. “Now” would be a place where a decision was made for that moment… that day.

Change the things only I could change… me. And change my mind about what was, because it didn’t live in the now.

Give to God my anxieties, my questions. Look to Him for direction. Speak to my mountain and carry on, knowing He sees it all… knows it all… and would never leave me or forsake me, no matter what life was handing me.

I would only find these answers in Him and in all His letters to me; the Word.

My everyday “to-do” list would still have its place, but my day would never look the same again. Checking the items in this new list would give me lasting satisfaction, direction… peace.

All that could only be found in…

The ultimate list.

A Promise is A Promise

The year was 1972.

Among other memorable things, it was the year my coveted Crissy doll made it under the Christmas tree for me at my grandma’s farmhouse.

The world was introduced to the space shuttle and digital watches were bursting on the scene as I wore mine faithfully on my little wrist.

It was the year pant suits were top of the fashion ladder and found its way into my seven-year-old wardrobe sewn by my mom as she faithfully sewed all our clothes.

But what made 1972, specifically January of that year, most memorable for my young seven-year-old heart, was the promise of another annual trip on the infamous Greyhound Bus, scheduled to head to the big city of Winnipeg from my small town bus depot. It was a promised trip… a yearly trip I could count on that would continue for many years in my childhood.

It was a promise.

The excitement in my young Grandma’s eyes could be felt as me, my younger sister and my mom sat on the large, black, leather metal studded swivel bars stools at the breakfast counter at Pete’s Inn on Main Street which doubled as the Bus Depot.

My young heart fluttered with excitement as the enormous shape of the bus passed the large restaurant windows. As the door of our large chariot opened wide, inviting its passengers aboard the narrow metal steps, our quartet of three generations made it’s way down the narrow aisle.

Excited, I slid into a window seat as was promised by Grandma for the journey there. I settled in the rather enormous plush seat as I rested my little feet on the metal bar by the floor, my mom and my sister directly behind us. My eyes focussed on the wonders I saw outside that slanted bus window, even if it was just the Bus Depot at this moment… there was much more to come.

Our destination would include the sights and sounds of The Bay in downtown Winnipeg. My grandma’s excitement in her commentary on our journey took on a whole new air as she reflected on her teenage years, riding into the city and working as a young adult for a family in the 40s. I admired her much as I tried to think of living in another place other than my small safe town in my seven-year-old mind.

As our journey took us to the beautiful historic Hudson’s Bay, standing stoically in all its glory on Portage Avenue, beautiful window displays circling the ground floor store fronts, I held my grandma’s steady hand tightly as our quartet made our way strategically through the gold colour trimmed revolving doors built in November of 1926. The door sliding up behind me as I made it safely through, created a rush in my heart. The experience was so far from my small hometown everyday life.

As I write this, it dawns on me that now, just seven years short of a hundred years old, my grandmother was born just three years before the Hudson’s Bay was built. It all sounds a bit ludicrous and almost unbelievable as my mind still harbors a very young grandma in her forties as I continue to reflect on this story.

I continued to try matching my grandmother’s steps as she knew the way to the coveted Paddlewheel restaurant in the basement level of the Hudson’s Bay. What a treat. Rounding the corner into the expansive restaurant, my eyes fell on The wonder of the wooden Paddle Wheel surrounded by a large mural depicting older days of Manitoba in the farthest corner.

My mouth watered at the anticipation and the coming visual of all the wonderful sandwiches, cakes and pies sitting behind the slanted clear glass…a glass of Coke included of course. Such special treats for a special day. It was almost too much from my little heart,

But a promise is a promise,

and our annual Hudson’s Bay trip had happened again…as promised.

After filling ourselves with a delightful lunch, our day pointed us to the third level of the grand store where my Mom and Grandma took in the sales of the housewares, perhaps some new dishes needing to be purchased.

Then lastly, my long-awaited trip to the second floor where everything a child could ever want lived. It was where my coveted Crissy doll had lived on the shelf before my grandmother had lovingly handpicked; rescued it for to be my Christmas gift the year before. My little heart could hardly stand it all.

As the 70s Greyhound made it’s way back to my then little sleepy town at the end of a long day, I wished the long-awaited for-day wouldn’t end. But knowing that a year from now our yearly Hudson’s Bay trip would happen again, I was satisfied… because,

A promise was a promise.

And so it is in the promises God gives us as I’ve experienced in my life now almost 50 years after those coveted annual Greyhound trips. I’ve come to realize my God has promises He says He will keep.

1John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.”

I experienced this promise at the tender age of 11, tucked under my blanket covers in the dark of night in all my fears. I believe He will keep His promise.

Years later, I experienced the words of Deuteronomy 31:8…

“The lord himself goes before you and will be with you He will never leave you or forsake you.”

I know beyond a shadow He has done this for me in the mountains and valleys of my life, and above all has never…will never… forsake me…

that’s a promise.

If I can believe a human such as my grandma whom I love so much, I can believe the promise of my God of the universe… The God of my heart.

The Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces…Isaiah 25:8

What a promise. Many a tear will have been collected in His bottles of tears…never to be shed again.

And lastly…

“In my Father’s house there are many mansions, I’m going to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me forever.”

I harbor many wonderful memories in my heart of my childhood and years later, but the Promises of God, which are many, have walked me through 54 years of life thus far and I look forward to the day I can throw my arms around my mom and my grandma with no tears …only joy! when I go to that place He has prepared for me along with all those that become His children, because…

A promise is a promise♥️

#Hope Angel

I took a different kind of lunch hour today.

These past months, my lunch hours have been filled with visits in the hospital with my dad along with commitments with my book and that all entails. The hour seemed never enough. But today I took the time to make it different.

I pointed my car towards the newly-renovated Tim’s, ( love seeing new renos) just me, myself, and I. Or so I thought. But this hour became a powerful reminder of the ” in the moments” I write about.

As I continued to stand in line and admire the newly renovated space, I gleaned a spot for myself as I waited. Just then, the lady in front of me turned to talk about the renos and her approval, I agreed.

I thought then that was the end of that, a nice little chat. But it was to be an hour I won’t soon forget. She then bravely turned to me and said” Would you mind some company at your table?” I had just gleaned with my iced coffee as I waited for my order.
I instantly came back with a “yes” because that is what comes easily for me. Me, myself, and I, always have room for one more.

The hour filled quickly with bits and pieces of our lives in the name of getting acquainted. And then I came to realize with a little more of her sharing, how incredible this meeting of a stranger was for me.

Only 67, she lived alone as her husband has lived in a personal care home for 12 years since he’d been 54…. I’m 54…. I let that sink in for a moment. I had shared about my husband’s Guillain-Barre journey 8 years ago and how he had walked out the hospital doors 6 weeks later after being paralyzed for most of it, being deemed the miracle man by the Doctors. My intent was to portray hope.

I realized very quickly that the well-dressed, well poised lady sitting across from me, had found a different kind of hope these past 12 years. Under a seemingly heavy load of unchanging circumstances, she had gleaned a daily strength from her God to face another day and see the positive in each day. She said it had been a choice… Daily. This choice was gleaned from her now 95 year old mother and the support she had given her through these years. She also had daughters and grandchildren just like myself. It could have been me….

As we said our goodbyes, my timer on my phone said it was time. We hugged as if we’d known each other a hundred years or more. It was a meeting she looked for daily as she dressed to go out for lunch in between her visits to her husband…. Not living the dream of retirement with her.

She graciously said I had blessed her, but I shook my head, eyes brimming as I knew she had been my blessing of the day.

Our paths may never cross again, but the meeting will linger with me for a long time as I cherish meeting her in in the moment, and find a different kind of Hope in her story ♥️
#inthemoment
#hopeangel💞

Sing Me Back Home

The cry of the steel guitar sliced smoothly through the air along with the kindred spirits of my uncle’s well worn banjo and the familiar sounds of the mandolin taking center stage in select songs.

The rhythm of the country gospel songs brought my heart back to a simpler time when I was a young girl, taking in these familiar sounds ringing out at many a family gathering…It was a beautiful thing.

The evenings of nightly music filled the air as my grandma told me over the years…her young life had been filled with the same memories. Many years later, the younger generation brought their voices to this sound of many generations by now. Singing had always been a love that filled my heart with the happiness, so I joined in. And I loved it.

As Christmas had already made its way into our hearts, the song selections followed along as traditional country gospel versions of Joy to the world, Silent night and many other Christmas classics had been replaced by Little Church in the Wildwood, Farther Along and Amazing Grace and many more tunes from across the decades.

Every season brought a new wave of selections.The steel guitar, the mandolin and banjo would croon out their own sort of perfection by my uncles. My aunt would add to this beauty of music, with her nimble fingers doing their magic, as she seem to look everywhere else but what her fingers were were doing. It was such a gift to listen to. Her beautiful, low beaming voice rang out each beautiful note, another God given gift.

There are many memories for many a decade at these family gatherings my heart can very quickly remember at will. The minute the instruments were picked up and took centre-stage, familiar voices rang out powerfully.

I was home.

My heart was home.

My relationship with God over the years became a place where when I came into His presence and the familiarity of the music my heart would experience spending time with Him, I would be home.

The months that sometimes went by between the special, musical family gatherings, seemed too long at times for my longing heart and I longed for the familiar songs that would sing me back home to those memories over the years…It was a place I longed to be.

Our God longs to sing us back home when too much time has passed by between being home with him. He longs for the time spent with us. It’s home to His heart when we come to stay awhile in His presence.

The Christmas season is upon us now again and I look forward to those evenings of music that seem to transcend time as the next generation continue the traditions and sing me back Home in my heart, just as our God longs to do for us.

His heart is always to sing me back home as He tells us in His Book.

“He will regularly rejoice over you with singing…”

What a day that will be when He will beautifully, one last time…

sing me back home.

Her Bible On The Bed

Gently but firmly, she’s smoothed the creases over every edge of her bed as she left her finishing touches on her usual morning ritual, her and dad’s pillows earning their usual spots, positioned precisely, snuggled happily against the custom Oak headboard…the day could begin.

And it began like every other… with her Bible on the bed.

She gently turn the well worn pages with reverence as each chapter was completed, her petite wedding ring adorned, hard working hands, clasped together as she talked to her God about what He was telling her in these pages. She needed every drop of wisdom for her long days ahead starting with a small heart and soul warming bowl of her favourite cream of wheat, her signature mug of hot water signifying the end of this morning ritual.

“It’s so good for you”, she would always say. I can still hear her voice telling me this on days I didn’t want to replace my coveted cold milk. She was right. It was good for the body… and the soul it seemed, at least she seemed to think so.

Her list of “to dos” were never to be found on any notepad or scrap of paper, it was just a running list that was never done and her mind along with her body suffered from the need to perfect. And for this, she needed her Bible on the bed… opened to the last place she had talked to her Jesus about what He was telling her on those precious pages.

Her long days in her large bountiful Garden needed some direction as her frustration sometimes mounted as the canning and the cooking and baking never seemed done despite her loving it all tremendously.

The dust on the furniture seemed to taunt her daily as it seemed to return before she was to have time to “shew” it away again. Another trip to her room for another gold nugget of wisdom and patience to face her frustrations needed to happen.

Her open Bible lay comfortably on her neatly made bed, always welcoming her… a habit she had observed from her little Russian grandma who had gleaned all her strength from her own…Bible on the bed.

Through the years, the need for these nuggets of wisdom from this open book was needed in her job as director of a group home and many a shift at the hospital as a nurse… her lifelong passion over the years. Those days of many a roaster of chicken and potatoes in her oven as she worked side-by-side with the church ladies preparing everything from weddings to funerals, needed strength, wisdom, and patience.

The early years had long days occupied with raising two daughters and a son along with mountains and valleys of 52 years of marriage as the years continued. Those years needed many… many trips to her Bible on the bed, dipping into the everlasting well of how to teach, patience to endure, and being reassured of the love of her Savior.

As the first of those she loved so dearly…her mother, left for eternity, her trips to this coveted open book on her precisely made bed, happen more frequently as her heart was grieving the loss of such that could hardly be explained… but the author of her Bible on the bed knew. It was here her wisdom, her strength, and her direction and comfort in all of life that passed by over the years, gave her hope in all her joys and in her sorrows.

And then there was her ever failing health since she been a young child on her mother and father’s farm in the 1940s… too many surgeries to count and doctor appointments too. Many a dot on the calendar. The weight of it all seemed too much some days over the years, but the open-book on the bed promised to give her rest for her soul and body if she would follow the instructions.

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

The last months of her life here on earth were spent in their apartment sitting by her large second-story window. Long gone where the busy days of yesteryear. Now surrounded by the things that made her heart happy. Her beloved hand projects…her last scarf that never did get finished… her pictures of her loved ones in many beautiful hand-picked frames, smiling at her. Her many years of diaries, that among many daily activities, spoke of the hope she had of a beautiful day when she would step into that beautiful land of eternal rest and reunions with her mother and father and so many more, along with seeing her Jesus, whom she had found in the pages of her Bible on the bed for so many years now.

But her most prized possession was her Bible on the bed that would ultimately point to her new home in Heaven, she had become so familiar with, as it had lived on her bed throughout the many years of her life, giving her wisdom, patients, comfort and the assurance of the love of her Savior for so many, many years.

But above all, it gave her a hope of a rest for her journey here on earth, for her heart and mind in all of life that had been lived.

All given from the many years of…

Her Bible on the bed.

Just a Little More Time.

The alarm rang “ferociously” in my head, or so I thought as 7 a.m. blinked happily through the cracks of my sleep deprived eyes.

Had I not just shut them?? It had seemed but a moment since then. I longed for just a little more time wrapped in my new crisp, yet cozy, white subtly appliqued bedding.

I half-heartedly moved out of my warm cacoon as my toasty bare feet hit the ground running. The minutes, the hours, in a single day seemed to get shorter and shorter as different seasons in life all clamoured for time in my day.

Two days earlier, the “ferocious” ringing of the alarm had reminded me again that cell group at my church was about to begin, but my semi subconscious mind had pressed snooze one time too many…again. My mind seemed to shout louder than usual that morning…

“Just a little more time!”

as I wrapped myself tighter in my warm cocoon.

The week seemed to race by at lightning speed as most lunch hours between my time at work were gladly spent visiting my dad in the hospital. Scheduled dentist appointments in the city, a funeral…( Life doesn’t seem to stop long enough to celebrate our loved one’s homegoing..) and coveted times spent finding my precious hugs from my little squealing grandbabies, music recitals from the older ones, and coffee dates with my grown daughters and friends, as my car pointed in all directions throughout the week.

“Just a little more time… just a little”

my mind said as the clock on my range stove seemed to leap foreward as my eyes caught a glimpse of the very white numbers that seemed to change with rapid speed through the rising steam of yet another pot of homemade soup and fresh farmer sausage, sizzling in a large size pan next to it.

Days before, a quick errand with my hubby pointed us to one of our favourite restaurants with our favourite appys in our favourite spot. A wonderful reprieve from the hustle of the week.

“Just a little more time”

pulsed in my head as we headed out the door towards the demands of more things filling the minutes, hours, and days of our lives.

As my body crawled willingly back into my warm cocoon of white, crisp, subtly appliqued bedding at the end of the day, my eyes fell on an older journal amongst a small pile, tucked away beside my nightstand nestled amongst all that was collected around the softly lit lamp. The familiar slant of my writing on the page brought me back to the moment I had written the words at the top of the day’s entry. It began like this…

“I just want to spend a little more time with you… I want to grow closer to you… sitting on the bench with you. Everything you will need in this lifetime will come from those visits… with me… it’s really that simple.”

My lips tasted a saltiness as a simple tear escaped unexpectedly from the corner of my tired eyes. My book In the Moment was born from this excerpt in my journal along with the pictures my Jesus had painted in my heart surrounding it many years ago.

I had forgotten for a short while, how important this time would be, trying to find time for everything else in my life before my time on the bench with Him.

“Just a little more time” with Jesus on my life journey would change my view I would have with everything and everyone I met.

The tiredness of just a little more time in my every day would be replaced by a rest that could only be found with Him as I gave Him…

“Just a little more time”

His request was gentle as I remembered it…

And as I reflected on all the things that I needed just a little more time with in my life in this moment…I knew that all would find its right order in my mind, and my heart could rest in all of life seasons and it’s business… if I would just remember to give Him…

“Just a little more time”.

The Days Of The Louisville.

Mornings arrived way too soon in the summer of my teenage hood.

This stark routine of school days had ended and late nights and even later mornings were my routine for the next couple of months. It wasn’t just a teenage thing, my whole family seem to hang on to this routine no matter what their ages or the seasons of the year.

But bills had to be paid and my dad’s gravel business woke at the crack of dawn. But my drive to join my dad on the gravel truck for the day trumped my sleepyhead. So off we went, gears shifting every second to get off our gravel country driveway, the morning sun peeking over the horizon in the distance over the farm fields as a new day greeted us.

By now I was fully awake as I settled in to my co-pilot chair. My dad settled in his captain’s chair, one arm perched on the ledge of his driver side open window, working indiscriminately on his chocolate farmer’s tan on his naturally freckled skin, which happen easily as the summer progressed.

My dad’s competence stood tall in my heart as he directed his gravel truck, the one they called the Louisville, steering easily with one hand. I felt like nothing could go wrong when my dad was behind the wheel, It was a security I cherished and didn’t ever want to take for granted… It just was.

Many deliveries of topsoil for gardens and yards were delivered those mornings to eagerly waiting customers, ready to plant and landscape.

I watched as my dad would proceed to dump the load of dirt in just the precise spot asked for. He then would climb out of the truck in his usual one swoop motion as I watched out the extra large front window from my seat.

I couldn’t hear what was said between my dad and the customer at the moment, but the body language, hand gestures and smiles on their faces as they communicated, told me everything my teenage mind could digest… All was good.

My dad had delivered, the customer was happy.

Although I felt my dad was invisible, he was human. His massive stroke he suffered 12 years ago now proves how human we are on this planet.

As the clock struck 10 a.m on my favourite watch, wrapped snuggly around my wrist, I sat a little closer to the edge of my copilot seat, hoping the rumbling Louisville would make a stop at the hometown coffee shop. I with my chocolate milk, and dad with his coffee.

I would get to sit with my dad as his coffee cup was filled and refilled many a time by the man with the white long apron, the owner of the place, as he sat alongside others who had listened to their watches.

They all caught up on the latest local news…. And they laughed. Loud. I loved it. I loved watching my dad laugh. He was in his glory. As I sat with my dad, among strangers and known company alike, I felt secure just to sit with my dad.

Thinking back to those days, it reminds me of how secure I feel when I sit in the company of my God, no matter the strangers or familiar company.

I have come to know, when I look for a coffee break with my God, He is always available.

When I looked out that front window of the Louisville so many years ago, watching my dad with the customers, he was taking care of things as I watched.

How often does our God not just take care of things when we step back, and He says to us: “just watch”.

He sits with us when we sit with those who are strangers, and those who are not. He is our security in the midst of all we do… Our mediator if we but let Him sit with us in all life matters and the things we don’t know how to handle.

Those Louisville days with my dad are fond memories buried deep in my heart.

And as I remember them, they remind me if we but sit with our God and let him be our security, mediator, and coffee break partner in our daily lives, we can rest in Him while He does what He does best.

Be God…

And that warms my heart..

As I remember the days of the Louisville.