Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Every New Year's Eve, I think of a woman I once worked with. I don't remember her name, but I remember chatting with her in the office, asking her if she had any special plans.

She told me that she never went out on New Year's Eve: She always spent the evening at home, madly cleaning her house and doing the laundry...

She was apparently superstitious, and believed that whatever state her home was in at the stroke of midnight, was the way it would remain all year long! So she spent the whole evening putting it in order...

So as New Year's Eve approaches, my thoughts turn to her. I always imagine of her rushing around... tidying her house, perhaps glancing from time to time at the TV, as the New Year is rung in in different time zones around the world - panicking, perhaps, as midnight approaches. Will her house will be spotless when the new year arrives here in our Eastern Time Zone?

I don't spend New Year's Eve cleaning, as I'm not superstitious! But - come to think of it -the way my home is at midnight is the way it is all year long!

I like to think of it as "comfortably cluttered"!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite All-Season Flower

In Hawaii flowers grow all year long - but in Eastern Ontario where I live, there is only one outdoor flower that gives me year-long joy!

The lovely sedum plant...
It is rare that a flower can give year-long pleasure OUTDOORS here in our cold Canadian climate - but THIS ONE DOES.

Here it is in early spring - just before I cut down last year's beautiful red foliage to make way for new green leaves sprouting in the ground.

As it grows, it doesn't spread, but stays in a tidy green bundle...

... the knee-high green flowers front and center in my July garden bed.

In August, its flowers turn red...

When autumn arrives, it doesn't wilt away and disappear like most other flowers. Instead, it stands strong in its red glory! This is what it looked like this past November...

And now that winter is here, I appreciate my sedum most of all!

It is the only plant in my garden that still looks like a flower, "blooming" white snow "blossoms" in the snow!

It brings beauty every season of the year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Christmas Gift

Terry and I always have difficulty getting each other gifts for Christmas. We often end up buying something for ourselves - and calling it a "gift" ...

Friends of ours - parents to two teenagers - never buy each other Christmas gifts: We are our gift to each other, they say...

I can understand where they are coming from. I mean - giving yourself to someone in marriage is one of the biggest gifts you can ever give! But when I mentioned this concept to my kids, they were quite indignant.

You and dad have to give each other a Christmas gift, they insisted. So we make an effort to do so - if only to please them.

This year I did come across a gift idea for Terry which was a surprise (a GPS)... And we found an interesting gift for me while shopping in a nearby mall.

At Christmas, there are often stands in the mall - and I came across one that sold silver jewelry. I went over to take a look...

Is that a puzzle ring? I asked the vendor, pointing to a ring that seemed to be made up of several thin silver bands.

No, it isn't, but I do have a puzzle ring, he replied.

Then, to my surprise, he pulled out the exact ring I was looking for...

Let me explain: When I was a university student, I had a puzzle ring - four rings intertwined that fold into a single braided design ... if put together just right. In fact, I still have it, but it no longer fits. So a few years ago, I began to hunt for a replacement in a larger size. I looked on the internet, in jewelry shops in Ottawa and elsewhere - wherever I thought unusual rings might be sold. My original one was made in Turkey... Was it possible that the jeweler who invented them had retired and those ingenious little rings were no longer being made?!

I had almost given up hope of finding it... And now, here it was!

I pulled out my wallet and paid for it.

What did you buy? Terry asked...

Your gift to me for Christmas!

So here it is - together with my old tarnished one on the left.

If you drop them, they come apart like this.

To put them together you put the V-shapes together first.

Then you fit the other 2 bands into a figure 8 - but the top V shaped bands have to be inside the figure 8.

Then you turn the top bands into the figure 8, starting with the bottom one (the one with 2 indents... In this picture it's on the right...)

This YouTube video also shows how to do it...

Friday, December 25, 2009


It's all about family... being part of the human family: We are all God's children.

Recognizing God as OUR FATHER.

For God so loved the world that HE GAVE...

By this will all people know that you are my disciples, if you LOVE ONE ANOTHER...

It's all about LOVE...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lessons from Laser

A few years ago I was talking to someone who visited the elderly in their homes, helping them live on their own with minimal assistance.

What has your work taught you about getting old? I asked.

To have interests that use different faculties, she quickly replied. If you only enjoy reading, and you lose your vision, you have nothing. The same thing for those who love music and go deaf. Or those who love walking outdoors and can no longer walk.

It's important to have interests that depend on different senses or skills - not just one - or you can be left with nothing...

The truth of her words have rung true to me the past 5 days - as I recover from laser eye surgery to correct my vision. I can no longer knit or quilt or read (without a magnifying glass) and I can only use the computer for brief periods of time - and then only with the screen enlarged (Control + is a wonderful tool!)

But even the brightness of the screen hurts my eyes after a few minutes... so I move on to other tasks - like cleaning and laundry, where I was never much of a perfectionist at the best of times!

I wish I had borrowed some books on tape from the library before my surgery.

This whole experience has taught me how much I use (and need) my eyes!

Monday, December 21, 2009


There was a time in my teaching career when I taught part-time at the University of Ottawa. Every semester a group of us part-timers would share the courses left over after the full-time teachers had taken their picks. I liked to teach beginners: I had done it for several years and felt confident in this cozy niche.

Then a new co-ordinator came on board, and suddenly he had me teaching intermediate, advanced, advanced writing, pronunciation, a media seminar - a new course every semester - courses I had no idea how to teach. I always went into that first class trembling - wondering how I would manage. I'd ask other teachers for suggestions, check out dozens of books from the teacher resource library ... and I managed! In fact, I usually enjoyed it in the end. But the first half of the semester was always difficult, as I tried to figure out what to do.

And as much as I resented the new co-ordinator's tactics, in the end it was a good experience for me. I developed as a teacher - and my filing cabinet of ideas grew! Over time, I was able to better understand how language learning develops, and better help my students with their difficulties.

Sometimes (always?) the hard things in life are the very things that will lead us to new skills, which, of course, open up new opportunities for us. I used to tell my discouraged language learners that learning English is like climbing a mountain. Sometimes there will be periods when they don't see any progress. But if they pursevere along these plateaux, they will eventually see changes and improvements. If they don't stop...

These difficult things in life are the very things that lead to growth!

So if the going is tough - this shortest day of winter daylight (in the Northern Hemisphere) - don't give up.

Persevere! There is a new (and better) plateau over the horizon!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

All I want for Christmas is ... (Part 5)

Last year, for Christmas, I asked my husband to buy me a hand blender.

Hand blenders have been around for years, and I've always admired their simplicity.This one has two pieces which clip together, The motor disconnects for cleaning...

It is great for mixing smoothies and pureeing soup with vegetables (I always cut the veggies too big.) I have a food processor, but it is more complicated to put together and later to clean...

So I opt for simplicity...

I can't think of anything other nifty kitchen tools to recommend... But I would be interested in hearing what YOU wouldn't want to part with in YOUR kitchen.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

All I want for Christmas is ... (Part 4)

This fourth kitchen item is not a romantic Christmas gift... but it is useful! I do LOVE my 2 quart glass measuring cup with a handle. I was introduced to this bowl (because that's what I use it for) when I took my first microwave cooking class.

Now I use it whenever I need to cook-and-stir in the microwave, like when making cream sauce or chocolate pudding.

I sometimes also use it for mixing small cakes - I can grip the handle with one hand while I'm stirring with the other.

The fact that I can use it to measure liquid ingredients is also useful.

It is probably my favorite mixing bowl!

Tomorrow... my last Christmas kitchen wish idea...

Friday, December 18, 2009

All I want for Christmas is... (Part 3)

The third kitchen item I love is my plastic cookbook holder.

It keeps the book open to the right page while I use it. If I accidentally drip food on it, it can be wiped off too - unlike most of the pages in my cookbooks.

When I'm not using it to hold a cookbook open, I usually tuck recipe booklets that come with various kitchen appliances into it - together with recipes I tear out of the paper...

That way I don't lose them - because I can see them!

More favorite stuff tomorrow...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

All I want for Christmas is... (Part 2)

Yesterday I mentioned that my kids always ask me what I want for Christmas... and I have a hard time creating a WISH LIST... So I thought I'd share some of the things I'm glad I have in my kitchen... Perhaps they might be the very things you'd like to put on YOUR WISH LIST! And of course, I'd love to hear about your favorite kitchen things...

The second thing (things) I really enjoy in my kitchen is this bakeware that doesn't need to be greased before use - and is easy to wash.

My daughter first introduced me to Silpat when she bought me this Silpat cookie sheet. Although it looks like plastic, it is made of spun glass.

At first I worried that it would melt in the oven, but it really doesn't!

Since getting my first Silpat cookie sheet, I have bought other shapes (muffin tins, cake pans).

They are floppy, so need to stand on a cookie sheet in the oven - but they are easy to wash, as they are so flexible... I like them because they're easy to clean and require no greasing of the pan.

Tomorrow - more kitchen stuff I love!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

All I want for Christmas is... (Part 1)

What do you want for Christmas?

This question - usually asked by my kids - made me think of all the things that I have that I really enjoy in the kitchen.

So I thought I'd share these favorite things (over the course of the next few days). Maybe among them will be something that you have never thought about getting for someone... or putting on your WISH LIST.

And of course, if you have any FAVORITE GADGETS in your kitchen, I'd love to hear about them too (comments or email).

My first favorite kitchen item is this cooking oil sprayer (Misto). I like the convenience of spraying a cake pan before adding batter - but I hate to buy oil in an aerosol can, because the system uses a propellant that I assume isn't great for the environment...

This little spray container doesn't need any kind of gas additive. You supply the power!

Simply open it up and pour in your favorite cooking oil - I use olive oil.

The lid is a pump. Push it up and down several times, until it won't move. Then push the spray button to release the oil. If the pressure ends, pump it again.

I found this useful item at a high-end kitchen store a few years ago, but later saw cheaper versions elsewhere. I'm not sure if the more expensive (and heavier) one is better than the others.

Tomorrow... another kitchen favorite!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

No Two Quilts the Same

I made this quilt after seeing one like it at a quilt shop...

Rather than buy the pattern, I drew a quick sketch, and went from there.

The red and green squares make the quilt look a little Christmas-y, especially at this time of year. But that wasn't the original intent.

I was first drawn to the beige print with its delicate red flowers and green leaves - then I added fabric in those colors too.

Imagine my surprise to see a variation of it on this blog from Portugal. Same pattern, different colors. This one is full of sunshine and warmth!

Same basic pattern - yet so different!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Knitting Again... A Winter Hat

The abundance of snow outside has inspired me to knit again - this time a winter hat. I do have other hats to wear - ones I knit or crocheted in previous years (...and I haven't finished knitting the socks I started a few weeks ago!) But now that the weather is cold and I wear a warm hat whenever I go out, my knitting priorities have changed. A new warm hat now tops the list!

I downloaded the pattern from the Bernat yarn website. It's the Bernat Roving Cable Hat on the top row...

As usual - I'm changing something... this time the yarn (It was on special at Michael's last week, when I happened to go into the store...)

It's Red Heart Collage yarn (100% acrylic).

I haven't knit cables in a long while, and this one has large cables - but they aren't hard to knit. The yarn is quite chunky, so I hope to have it done soon!

The only down-side of knitting a hat is not knowing how it will look on! If it doesn't suit me, maybe I'll have to open an Etsy store!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prayer changes ... ME

I have discovered that - when I pray for others - I am often changed. The most dramatic example I can remember occurred when I was in my 20s, helping organize a weekend retreat. A group of us had been meeting for an informal Bible study once a week over the course of the winter. As summer approached, and we began to talk about our summer plans, a few mentioned that they would be moving away to new jobs or studies.

We should have a weekend retreat before everyone leaves, I blurted out...

Everyone nodded in agreement: Great idea! Why don't you organize something?

A few in the group offered to help.

That is how I found myself on a committee to plan the time, place and "agenda" for our weekend away.

The committee had no difficulty agreeing on a date and a place. But when we looked at our time frame - in order to come up with an "agenda" - the minister of my church, Dr. Robert Lindsey, suddenly said: You know, I think that two days away is too long for some people. Why don't we make it Friday evening and Saturday - returning Saturday night.

To my dismay, the others immediately agreed... and proceeded to plan our day away.

But we all agreed on a weekend... two days away... I meekly interjected.

That's too long for some people, someone repeated - as I sat there hurt that my original idea had been modified without my concurrence.

How dare they just CHANGE the whole thing on a whim, I quietly sulked... This was MY vision, MY idea - and they just CHANGED IT... without MY agreement!!

As I sat there, unable to focus on the conversation that swirled around me - I realized: There had to be harmony in our group in order for God to make this retreat a blessing...

So I silently prayed, Lord, give us agreement... Don't let anger or resentment spoil this time away...

Then I looked up and smiled, putting my disappointment aside. I would let God fix the problem...

I expected them at any minute to look at each other and say: You know, we really do need two days for all this...

But instead - to my amazement - I found myself in complete agreement with their idea... Yes, an evening and a day away would be perfect! ... (How had that happened?! When I asked God to fix the problem, I expected God to change their minds, not mine!)

So today - as I prayed for God to change someone dear to me... someone whose views are completely different from mine... I sensed God gently chiding me: Are you praying for this person to be like you... or for this person to be the best that this individual I created can be...?

So I've had a bit of a wake up call. Back to the drawing board (so to speak!) ... as I ask God to show me how to pray for this person... (A whole new concept...)

The retreat I mentioned earlier was a memorable day away - the perfect length of time. A comment I still remember came from John Davies, a fellow teacher, who said: When we were singing, I felt as if I were in heaven!

(Can it get any better than that?!)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

You can lead a horse to water, BUT...

One of the lessons I'm constantly having to re-learn is that everyone is ultimately responsible for his or her own path in life. As a teacher, I accepted this, eventually letting go when students didn't want to study... Most of my career in education was spent teaching adults who were aiming for a second chance to do what they hadn't succeeded in doing before - getting a high school diploma. Many registered every semester but there were always some who dropped out - they weren't ready to take the time or make the effort needed to get that elusive diploma. Often they came back again and again - finally succeeding when the time was right (perhaps when their children were all in school, giving them time to study). Many finally accomplished what they had once considered an "impossible dream."

Graduation Day was always an exciting time, for us teachers - as well as for the students - who finally showed up with their parents, children, spouses/partners and friends. We teachers finally saw what they had been dealing with in the other (non-school) part of their lives... And of course, many of our students had jobs, so they were only able to study as time (and responsibilities) permitted.

It was always interesting for me to watch the parents of these late graduates... I remember one mother (in tears of joy) telling me she'd never imagined that her daughter would actually one day graduate from high school!... And now, there she was! (A smart girl who hadn't seen the importance of education in her life before this.)

Three proverbs spring to mind when I think of learning:

The first is: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. My son (struggling with high-school math) made this comment to the tutor I hired to help him "pass math." (He had expressed no interest in getting math help.) With an attitude like that, I was wasting my money... Needless to say, he didn't pass the course - instead, he dropped it and switched to an easier one...

The second is: When we are ready to learn, we will find a teacher. My students needed to be ready. I do too. I often purchase books that look interesting, but somehow I can't get into them for months or even years- until I am ready to read them. I took a quilting course when I was ready to spend time quilting ... I'd like to take a drawing course, but I'm not ready just yet...

The third proverb essential to learning is: Never deprive someone of hope; it may be all they have...

This was one of my mottos in the classroom... Together with not depriving people of hope - we need to actively encourage them when they feel discouraged. But there is a fine line between encouraging and pushing them... Encouraging often comes from just being there to listen.

As a teacher, I had to step back and let my students find their own way. But as a parent, I find this much harder to do! I always want to help them do it!!

I know that they have to discover their own path their way... because they are different from me, and their world is different from the world I lived in when I was their age.

MY WAY is the best way I know. (It worked for me! So of course, I want them to follow my footsteps.) But I do have to remind myself that they aren't me - and their world isn't my world. Ultimately they have to find their own way by themselves!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Welcome Winter!

It's a whole new world outside today.

Yesterday our first snow storm of the season kept school buses off the roads.

I didn't go out at all, preferring to watch the snow fall through the window...

Today we are "cleaning up" - shoveling the snow off the driveway, clearing away the mound left by the snow plow that went down our street early this morning.

I pushed about a foot (30 cm) of snow off the deck... remembering that weather like this causes heart attacks every year as un-fit people suddenly go to work moving pounds - if not tons - of snow...

My 80-year-old neighbor has a pace-maker, but he still insists on using his snow blower. Other neighbors come over to help, but he tries to get it done before they arrive...

Just the other day he apologized for not helping us put up our plastic car shelter - he hadn't been feeling well... He has helped us put it up and take it down every year since we got it. I told him I knew he was supervising us through his window... I'm sure he watched us the whole time, wishing he were outside with us. Like the energizer bunny, he just keeps going - and that's just the way he likes it!

We have to knock the snow off the roof of the car shelter after every snowfall - or it might collapse under the weight of snow.

There! It's all done... till the next snowfall...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Guilty with an Explanation

I don't get many parking tickets. But the other day I did...

My mother (who has osteoporosis) injured her foot while getting off a small bus... Simply stepping down to the ground gave her two stress fractures that pain her when she walks. So her doctor sent her for a bone scan, to discover if - despite medication - her osteoporosis has worsened.

That's how I found myself at the hospital the other day - looking for a parking space near the entrance... The parking garage, where I usually park, was a bit of a trek - too far for my mother to walk.

My mother has a permit for handicapped parking spots. I found one in a good location - with metered parking - and left to hunt for a wheelchair. My mother got into the wheelchair, I put enough money in the meter for an hour's parking and left.

In the nuclear medicine department, dye was injected into my mother's body and we were told to return several hours later.

We drove off to have a cup of tea. On our return, we found another handicapped parking spot and repeated the whole process... paid for an hour, looked for a wheelchair...

This time the appointment took longer than expected. Around the time the meter was expiring, I glanced at my watch and wondered what to do. There I was, holding my mother's clothing and valuables. (She was down the hall in a gigantic machine, wearing a hospital gown.) At any time she might emerge from the test - bewildered (if not panic-stricken) if I weren't there...

I had heard that people with handicapped parking permits could park for free at city meters... I had never tried so I wasn't sure if it was true, but - under the circumstances - I decided to chance it, hoping we would be okay.

Forty-five minutes later, when we returned to the car - there was the ticket on the windshield ... a $55 fine - which would become $70 if we failed to pay it before the due date. The city obviously plays hard ball!

I was clearly guilty - but I also felt a a little let down... It was the end of a long and tiring appointment ... now this!

My husband once fought a parking ticket by going to court and pleading "guilty with an explanation." (He reminds me that I insisted he go and stand up for his rights!) He was lucky and got off - some were given reduced fines - others had to pay up.

Should I go to city hall to appeal this ticket - or just pay it...? Is it worth the extra effort (physical and emotional) that going before a judge would entail? (I would also have to pay for parking while I was there!)

I used to be a fighter... passionately defending my rights whenever I felt wronged, or even slightly misunderstood!

But now the energy is gone! I'm just tired!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Preparing for Winter

Yesterday was a busy day here at the house. A dusting of snow on Monday reminded us that winter is on its way... for real! Like the neighborhood squirrels rushing around, we still had lots to do!

Every year we put up a plastic shelter for the car Terry drives to work. (He enjoys the luxury of not having to clean the snow off his car in the morning.)

Now, how do these pipes fit together?!

Now where does this go?

At the same time, the storm door we ordered arrived ... and was installed.

The door looks great! Hopefully double doors will make our house a little cozier this winter.

We eventually got the car shelter together too... Now to put the plastic cover over the frame... and we're really ready for winter!

When we woke up this morning, it looked as if it hadn't been done a day too soon!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If you always do what you've always done...

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten!

The first time I heard these words (credited to Anthony Robbins), I copied them down. They seemed so logical!


But then comes the big stumbling block: Implied in the words is the fact that I have to change something (maybe even some things) to get a different end result... And (for me) change is often hard! Hard and uncomfortable...

One of the main changes I have been struggling with for the past 4 or 5 years involves changing how I eat and exercise, attempting to control my blood sugar levels through eating the "right" foods (and not the "wrong" ones) For type 2 diabetics - the "right" foods are low in carbohydrates; the "wrong" foods are high in carbs. More specifically, to stop eating white bread, white flour, white rice, sugar. Switch to whole wheat and whole grain bread and pasta. Add fiber, add vegetables, add exercise. Walk 10,000 steps a day (approximately 45 minutes of brisk walking).

In the panic of being diagnosed as diabetic, I attempted to do all that - and my body "rewarded" me - I lost about 10 pounds and moved from "diabetic" to "pre-diabetic" (slightly higher than normal)...

I seemed to be managing really well. I read books about diet and change... and for several years I seemed to have things under control...

But then I gave up - well, not totally, but partly. I reached a period when my efforts didn't seem to be making any difference - my blood sugar levels rose again. So I got tired of restricting myself so much ...

I've taken two steps forward and one step back! And now I'm trying to motivate myself to move forward again!

As I wonder how to get back on track, what might motivate me to make that extra effort and move forward again - maybe I need to look at the situation a little differently... Perhaps instead of asking why I can't change permanently, I need to accept the fact that this journey sometimes involves going back a step or two - but then we need to move on!

Maybe I need to appreciate what I have succeeded in doing for 4 years or so, instead of berating myself about giving up - and think about where I would be (on medication, probably) if I hadn't taken those 2 steps forward in the first place.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Andrew Haydon Park

The light snowfall that dusted the city a week ago melted after a few days - so last weekend people were out walking and cycling (in winter jackets and hats) - enjoying the last of our pre-snow weather.

I wandered around Andrew Haydon Park - located on the Ottawa River (which separates Ontario from Quebec). My mother lives near the park - one we used to visit often when our kids were small.

In summer the bandstand hosts dozens of free concerts

A few Canada geese were flying around - perhaps they are planning to spend the winter here rather than fly south... The sliver of water in the distance is the Ottawa River - the hills behind that are in the province of Quebec.

The seagulls (sitting or perhaps standing in the water) stay all winter. I'm not sure how they survive - but they do!

Next weekend this park may be covered in snow - if the weatherman is right... In fact, some parts of Canada are currently in the midst of snow storms - but here in south-eastern Ontario we are still enjoying the last breath of (cooler) fall weather!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I Am My Brother's Keeper...

Well, I finished reading it - Mitch Albom's book, Have a Little Faith...

(I'm great for starting books - but have a hard time finishing them... In fact, it's one of only two books I managed to start and actually finish reading in the past year... )

About halfway through the book, the story focuses more on a church and shelter called I Am My Brother's Keeper Ministries in Detroit, Michigan. Both the book and Mitch Albom's newspaper articles about homelessness have made many in the Detroit community - and far beyond - aware of this problem and helped this impoverished one-man ministry pay its bills and help the poor.

To me, this shows the power - and potential - of the gift of writing!

(In case you're wondering, the only other book I quickly finished reading was the novel, Water for Elephants - a fascinating tale of circus life in the 1920s. It opened up a whole new world to me! I loved it!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

He Sleeps in a Storm

A week or so ago, I mentioned that my latest bedtime reading was a book entitled Have a Little Faith, by Mitch Albom. In this account of the lives of two men of faith, a rabbi ("the Reb") and a reformed criminal, Albom includes this 1975 sermon by "the Reb."

There is a lot of wisdom in its words, so I include it here...

(Rather than retype the text, I have copied it from the blog - Blessing My Heart.)

Here it is, a Sermon by the Reb...

"A man seeks employment on a farm. He hands his letter of recommendation to his new employer. It reads simply, 'He sleeps in a storm.'

"The owner is desperate for help, so he hires the man.

"Several weeks pass, and suddenly, in the middle of the night, a powerful storm rips through the valley.

"Awakened by the swirling rain and howling wind, the owner leaps out of bed. He calls for his new hired hand, but the man is sleeping soundly.

"So he dashes off to the barn. He sees, to his amazement, that the animals are secure with plenty of feed.

"He runs out to the field. He sees the bales of wheat have been bound and are wrapped in tarpaulins.

"He races to the silo. The doors are latched, and the grain is dry.

"And then he understands. 'He sleeps in a storm."

"My friends, if we tend to the things that are important in life, if we are right with those we love and behave in line with our faith, our lives will not be cursed with the aching throb of unfulfilled business. Our words will always be sincere, our embraces will be tight. We will never wallow in the agony of 'I could have, I should have.' We can sleep in a storm.

"And when it's time, our good-byes will be complete."

(Have a Little Faith, by Mitch Albom, Page 93)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Praying for Children

I have been praying for my children ever since I knew they were there... (i.e., long before they were born!) Perhaps because I began this parenting adventure later in life (in my mid-30's)... Perhaps because I have a natural tendency to worry!.. Whatever the reason, I would "touch base" with God daily, asking Him to watch over both the unborn child and me.

During my second pregnancy, as I prayed (somewhat anxiously) for the birth of this second child, a Bible verse jumped out at me:

The blessing of the LORD maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Proverbs 10:22 - King James Version)

It's hard to explain - but as I read these words, they felt like a promise straight from the heart of God. This child was a gift, a blessing from God. There would be no sorrow, so I needn't worry. I wrote the words down and repeated them often - whenever anxious thoughts raised their ugly heads.

So when my son was born - a quick, natural delivery - but a few minutes later stopped breathing - my husband turned pale. Tears filled his eyes as the doctor grabbed the baby, ran to a nearby door and called for help.... Inexplicably, I felt no anxiety. I knew that everything was going to be all right. After all, God had given me a promise.

A few minutes later, they brought us our newborn - who was breathing again!

It was one of those life moments I will never forget...

(Here he is a few weeks later, with his sister.)

I still pray for my children, as they grow in careers and relationships... And I still have anxious thoughts.

So recently - when something happened that may be God's answer to one of my prayers, instead of being thankful, I panicked ... (at the thought of change)!

And just as quickly, Jesus' words about God's love for us - His children - came to mind:

What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead ...? (Luke 11:11)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let's do lunch!

My daughter and I live 250 miles - or 450 kilometers - apart, so we don't see each other all that often anymore.

But that doesn't stop us from "doing lunch" - using our gmail accounts to chat with each other while we eat!

And I've discovered that I can be just as annoying to her this way - offering unsolicited advice! It just takes me a little longer to do it ... as I key in my words ... wait ... and then read her response!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Serendipitous Soup

In my ongong attempt to simplify my life, I decided that I should - from time to time - buy a barbecued chicken at the grocery store - have it for a meal - and then boil what is left (bones and all) to make some homemade chicken soup.

The barbecued meat will have extra flavor - and if there isn't much meat on the bones, at least I'll have a tasty broth.

So that's what I did the other day, adding nothing but a bay leaf and a whole (peeled) onion to the chicken bones and water.

I let it simmer for a few hours - then cool for a few hours - before straining the broth and carefully deboning the chicken. I added the cooked onion to the soup broth, threw out the skin and bones, and added the meat to the broth, too.

I added a few tablespoons of brown rice to the broth - and wondered: what else to add ...

I then remembered a container for cooked, pureed carrots and squash (in a vegetable broth) I had frozen a few weeks ago - planning to turn that into carrot soup sometime this winter.

I pulled it out and added it all to the chicken soup.... and let it simmer for an hour or so... The result...?

Amazingly delicious! The carrot and squash added a delicate flavor to the chicken soup!

I'm not much for following recipes at the best of times! When I add a little of this and not so much of that, I'm not always so lucky... But this time I serendipitously lucked out!