Forever and Ever…Amen

The vintage colourful lights strung over the city Main Street in the shape of festive familiarity.

Our family car, a 66 Mercury (Merc, as my dad would call it), malibu blue in colour, was our chariot for this coveted annual event my little heart looked forward to every year.

It was 1974.

The classic landmark Hudson’s Bay Company dazzled with all that Christmas was in the 1970s.

Multicolored vintage lights dazzled the scenes of Christmas trains, walking dolls and more, surrounded by trees adorned with silver tinsel and streams of vintage coloured round baubles and teardrop decorations.

It was nothing short of magical.

Each string of lights and treble cleft shaped Christmas architecture, passed by my view from the frosted back window as I sat snuggled and tucked between my grandpa and grandma. It was my favourite place to be in the whole wide world.

All was well in my young heart in that spot in that moment.

My homemade burgundy, pretend fur coat, made lovingly by my mom, hugged me in all the right spots as we travelled along in the warmth of the 66 Merc as my mom always preferred it to be.

The winter snow fell gently to the ground outside our window. It was a picture I would hold deep in my heart for many years to come.

The evening Christmas crowds bustled along in between the high banks of snow.

“Go Tell it On The Mountain” and “Children Go Where I send Thee” crooned out the front from my dad’s coveted collection of 8-track tapes, clicking after each track was done.

I felt safe and secure as my dad sat confidently in the driver’s seat, arm perched on the side of the door, three fingers casually directing the wheel in any direction we wanted to go. Many years of experience had brought him to this point.

My little heart trusted completely.

My mom clasped her black, plastic oversized purse with a single silver metal clasp and 2 rounded straps as she sat comfortably in the passenger seat. This too was a night out she looked forward to all year as the many years of the 70s were filled with being a stay-at-home mom… baking, cooking, cleaning, gardening, and chauffeuring to a young family.

Though her heart had already experienced more Christmases than mine, my little heart could say for today… this night… our hearts were both young in the season of Wonder.

And then as if this evening of Christmas lights and the wonders of the Hudson Bay display wasn’t enough, my heart anticipated the next part of the Christmas evening journey to Woolco.. THE store of those years.

Making my way past the display cases of jewellery greeting us as I stumbled through the doors in excitement, I couldn’t wait to make my way to the back of the store, where perched at the diner, we would order perhaps cherry pie or crispy fries as the treat of the night.

It was almost beyond what my little heart could handle.

My mouth watered incessantly with every step taken in my seventies winter lace-up boots, pointed down the main aisle to the back of the “big city store” towards the diner.

It would be a wonderful end to a wonderful evening with some of whom I loved so dearly, enjoying that which was so dear to my heart.

Now almost 50 years later, my mind can enjoy this special memory. It was a season in time to be enjoyed, but it all ultimately came to an end only to live in my memories… Although beautiful memories.

The same grandmother who sat with me so securely and safely in the backseat of that 66 Merc so many years ago, would introduce me to Randy Travis’s “Forever and Ever Amen” a decade later.

This song has taken on a meaning deep in my soul as I interpret it. My mind can only imagine what a day that will be when I will enjoy an even more glorious life with all those so dear to me, now waiting for me in Heaven when we won’t ever have to live on memories again.

Most of those enjoying that coveted evening in 1974 have gone on to eternity now…on their journey of experiencing forever and ever…

All we experience will come around again and again and again. How incredible! If life has been less than wished-for or perhaps only the memories remain… take heart!

Get your hopes up!

Get excited for forever!!

Forever loving those you have missed for too long!!

Our God is the ultimate forever memory maker in the land of no tomorrow’s.

So I say again take heart!

And look forward to…

Forever… and ever… Amen❤️

Be the Broach

The light danced happily on every corner of each pretend vintage stone and shone like a million stars in the midnight sky, perfectly fitted on my grandma’s black and white houndstooth coat.

It was the perfect canvas for her favourite broach.

My grandma’s beautiful ornate jewellery box, living perfectly beside her vintage hair brush set on her neatly organize dresser, was the perfect home to many a piece of special jewellery given to her by grandpa, the love of her life, and her family over the years.

But this piece in particular had special meaning as it had lived through many, many a generation.

It seemed to shine and sparkle greater than all the rest.

Her coat may have looked less special and plain without the beautiful vintage broach taking centre stage and subtly demanding attention. My grandma almost seemed to walk taller the moment the rolling mechanism clasped the sharp pin securely and confidently into place.

My little eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to its shimmer and sparkle with every graceful turn of my grandma as she went about her shopping at the local One Stop Shop in her small hometown.

Wherever she went, her beautiful broach seemed to lead the way.

Finding her broach tucked carefully it seemed, a long way down in my jewellery box many years later now, the memories of this broach and all that surrounded it fondly warmed my heart. It was like yesterday. The memory is still stamped so vividly in my mind.

It made me think of how we have the opportunity to wear His presence… A beautiful gift that was given to all who will recieve, and how our everyday moments, words, actions… can reflect our God as a “million stars in the night”. Our black and white “houndstooth coat”.. (our self efforts) can present less special and plain and maybe not noticeable at all, unless we walk in His presence daily reflecting Him to our world around us.

The history of the lovely broach goes back many, many centuries to a time when it had a practical use to hold garments together.

As we choose to wear Him daily, we will experience Him holding us together as we reflect the goodness and most of all His amazing love.

When we are willing to be the reflection of the Holy Spirit, it may leave a stamp of Hope…the Light of the world… to those who encounter the reflection.

May we remember to wear our broach, His Spirit. May we walk tall daily as we go about our lives, because when we wear His Spirit daily, and reflect His amazing love, it will not only change us, but those around us, and every turn we make in our lives will reflect Him.

Today…be the reflection of the Light of Hope inside you…

Be the Broach❤️

“Somewhere Over The Rainbow”…. And Other Things We Tell Ourselves

She dared herself.

She dared to BE herself.

I don’t know much of her story, but what I do know is …

She followed her passion.

I can hear it in her voice as I slide my finger over the red line back to the beginning on her Utube site, many times over as I immerse myself in the spirit of her songs.

Eva Cassidy was her name.

A hidden gem to the world when she lived in it, and still remembered maybe even more by many now, after she left us in 1996.

Singing has been a passion of mine since I was a child. I love to sing.

From hymns of my childhood to the country gospel Classics from behind closed doors to the open stage of my church and many family celebrations.

It makes my soul happy.

Though our talents may have been poles apart, I share her passion of doing something I love.

In this season of my life, writing has taken center stage.

I sleep it… I dream it…

I live it daily.

I really don’t believe we ever swap one passion for another, I think our different gifts take center stage in our lives as different seasons dictate.

Eva’s music, or even just Eva, has touched a piece deep inside of me. One of her versions of a most recognizable song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow speaks deeply to me.

It made me really think.

As I continue to watch the utube of her sitting comfortably on a stage surrounded by less than 30 people in a quiet, quaint coffee shop, guitar on her lap, effortlessly supporting her beautiful but powerful soprano voice, wrapping each word lovingly around familiar and not so familiar songs…

I wonder if she knew…

knew how much she would impact me… years after she had died… and impact the music world in more ways than she could have ever imagined?

I just wonder.

No matter what she was singing, her heart… her soul… her presence, is where I heard her message. And in her message, she followed her passion with every part of her being.

She tells a story.

It gets me… It keeps me…

because she is undeniably doing what she was always meant to do.

I leaned in to hear more clearly, hanging on every note, every word… her presence commanding the stage ever so gracefully, but more importantly… authentically.

She brings all of her..

She brings Eva Cassidy.

She “dares to dream” as the song goes,

And ” if happy little bluebirds fly high Over the Rainbow… why can’t I”, rings deep in her “yes” … this is my” over the rainbow.”

She had the courage to make”someday” be “today.”

Sometimes we wait years or maybe sit in the “someday” because of the unknown, staying in the safety of our thoughts, our world.

But in staying there, we may merely exist our way through life and never dare to live out our passions that we were created to live out, given to us by our loving God, who freely gave us our gifts.

Someone needs you… living in your passion… “now”

Bring you.

We can hope to live a richer more authentic life and touch those around us, because a gift such as that is always meant to be shared and perhaps change the world if only on your front porch.

Dare to “fly” like that little blue bird.

Inspire.

Touch.

and leave a lasting gift that will resound many years after you are gone. A gift/ passion that may give just even one person hope…. hope for one more day… and after that…hope for one more.

We all need hope.

Dare to live your passion.

Now.

Don’t wait till “ Someday Over the Rainbow”…

and other things we tell ourselves.

Just do it.

Forever Priceless

80% off.

That which was so valuable just 24 hours before…

Now… 80% off.

The wonder and majesty of the season, the lights in all their Sparkle and array of colours, each decoration telling a story perhaps as each tree stood decorated in all its Glory.

My Home stood seemingly stark and bare, only in contrast to that which had occupied it for many weeks during this Christmas season.

The bucket of lights, decorations and garland sat filled haphazardly with all that had dazzled and glimmered and represented the season. The Collection still sparkled but seemed to have lost the majestic intent.

It reminded me of walking into a second hand store, What was once a high price paid in decades past, is now less. 40…50.. 80% off. The same piece, now less valuable because society, season, has deemed it less worthy because it may not be in style anymore… not new… colour is off… etc.

As my eyes fell on each discount sign as I travelled through a new season being created in the store, I couldn’t help but think of how price gets determined and value gets placed onto things on this planet.

Some things lose its value in an instant due to Seasons in our lives, some lose its value because of lack of usefulness and perhaps being outdated.

The things in our lives may not have changed but the value has been attached to them already.

Our worthiness may be diminished as we outgrow relationships and we are rejected… 50%… Our performance according to some may not measure up so the tag on our hearts says… 80% off.

We all age and as we do our worth in the workforce, our wisdom perhaps, gets tagged… perhaps even 90% off.

This planet will always judge us according to all these and many other factors that diminish our value, but there is One who sees us as Priceless… no matter the season… No matter our usefulness… No matter… No matter…. No matter.

How does something become valuable or even priceless?

Because of the great price that was willing to be paid.

No gold, no diamonds, or all the wealth in the world could pay for the price paid for our Ransom of our worth. He deemed us worthy because he was Worthy. And he tells us so…

For you are bought with a great price” – Corinthians 6:20

Get excited!

Get really excited!

Because we will never wear a price tag…. A sale price… 80% off.. Because he who was the Priceless gift….

Made us,

forever priceless ❤️

Beyond The crocheted Angels

Silver ones… gold ones… small ones… big ones… glass ones.One by one they caught my eye as I looked around the small room, now only my dad’s place as mom had passed away two months before.Delicately, I gently cradled the small glass one cupped in my hand. My mind travelled back in time as it took me to a time many years ago in a city hospital, late, late one night, cupping my hands gently around the same angel.As I gently placed it on the side table, smelling of hospital cleaner beside my moms bed, she didn’t notice it that day, but days after her 13-hour surgery that almost took her life, she let me know how much she had cherished it.As my thoughts brought me back to the present, I realized as I stood here, angel cupped gently in my hands, how many moves over the years this tiny gem had survived.It had been special to her and now it had a special in my heart as I felt a piece of her with me as I stood there in the small room.The sounds of John Denver and Rita MacNeil Christmas, along with many others, crooned from my mom’s tape player, now by my dad’s bedside lulling him to sleep most nights this Christmas season.”Angels We Have Heard On High” came next on the playlist… how fitting it was in this moment.Gently I placed the small glass angel back in its rightful spot alongside the rest of the eclectic array of Christmas angels on the small 80’s wooden shelf on the wall.I looked at the small room, single bed ready for me to spend the night, now a weekly routine now that mom was gone. Her appliqued queen size duvet waiting patiently for me to crawl under.. but sleep with from my mind this night.I quietly made my way down the hall to the cozy living room now lovingly decorated for the season with all that said Mom by those who took care of my dad day in and day out. I nestled into mom’s cozy corner rocker, left vacant too often now that she was gone hoping to feel her close again.I closed my eyes to the now faint Christmas music flowing gently from my dad’s room. But just before my eyes closed completely, another angel caught my eye.There on the miniature, warmly lit tree hung an array of crocheted Christmas angels.. crisp white with a red bow to complete the look, all handmade by my mom.These angels had been a part of my memory for a number of Christmas’ by now, but this night, entering the first Christmas season without her… they seemed to burn a new sense of Christmas spirit into my heart.My mind wandered to the last Christmas with Mom and a small box of delicate glass Angels gifted to me that now filled my tabletop tree in my dining room. Eight of them representing my growing armful of grandchildren by now.These angels seemed to fill every corner of my mom’s life over the years. She loved them. They had special meaning to her, especially through the tough times in her life. And tough times there were.They represented a comfort to her.She knew the Holy Bible told her we all have an angel assigned to us as born-again believers by our God whom she had served since her acceptance of Him at the tender age of five, as she had shared with us many times over the years.As a few warm tears trickled slowly down each side of my cheeks, my mind couldn’t help but wonder how amazing and utterly glorious it could be as I thought of my mom, now walking closely with her guardian angel among the multitude of angels Singing,”Glory to God in the highest, peace Goodwill to all men”… words she had sung for 73 Christmases on earth for so many years.Her journal entry in this last year had alluded to her longing as she wrote:”What a day that will be!! No more sorrow!! No more sadness!! To be in Glory forever!!My heart could hardly contain my imagination of what she was experiencing now. A hope we can all have if we but give our hearts to God and become His children and accept his free gift of eternal life.A hope I too yearn to experience someday when I’ll meet my mom and so many others, along with my Jesus.. forevermore…beyond the crocheted angels❤️

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♥️