Sunday, November 22, 2009

When words just fail....

The raison d'etre of this blog was stated here in the original post last December,
almost a year ago:
We wanted to find our grand-daughter, niece and cousin Nicole and we needed to learn to keep looking upward, hopeful but content for whatever happened to lie ahead of us.

It all started a week before the Canadian Thanksgiving,
October 12.
My nephew Bryan sent me an e-mail saying he had found (by some miracle) a Facebook profile pic of his cousin Nicole and had sent her a message with a link to this blog.
Four weeks later on November 14, Nicole's Gramma and three aunts (including myself) flew to Florida for their first face to face encounter in twelve years.

Waiting for Nicole in the lobby restaurant of our hotel...

The story has yet to be told and ironically, now I am beset with the telling of it.
It involves knitting - on the beach of all places. Prepare for the unusual.
And now a scripture verse pops into my brain from Yvonne's funeral, Psalm 139: 13b & 16:
" knit me together in my mother's womb....
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be! "

All I can say is this: God sure moves in mysterious ways.
There's more to this knitting thing than meets the eye. While I sort through "the marvelous" of this past week - I will reflect on the wonder of Psalm 139.
And then, just maybe - I'll be able to speak sensibly.

By the way, Nikki? We sure do love you & miss you already!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Going on the Carolyn Kick

The Big Surprise (partially) Unveiled

This is it. Part of Grandpa's current back-yard make-over.
There's a story behind it of course.
A lengthy one that I'm formulating for a future post. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Am A Soul

Molecules and atoms
Just like Eve and Adam
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Even still I wonder,
When we are six feet under
Will that truly be the end of us?

'cause why beauty? why poetry?
Why "no! no! no!" to every tragedy?
Why laughter? why lullabies?
And why this asking why?

I have a body, but I am a soul
I see a fraction, it's not the whole
I cannot prove it, but still I know
I have a body... I am a soul

A sculpture or a canvas
can speak a private language
Telling secrets hidden in the heart
About a world of spirit
I swear sometimes I hear it
Playing like a piper in the dark
It's in the love songs, in symphonies
In funeral marches and in liturgies
It's in whispers, in rally cries
In dreams that won't say die

You have a body but you are a soul
You see a fraction, it's not the whole
I cannot prove it, but still I know
You have a body ... you are a soul.

World without end, amen.

Listed among the profoundest influences of my life:
the grace of Jesus Christ
the writings of C.S. Lewis
the music (especially lyrics) of singer/songwriters
Rich Mullins & Carolyn Arends

Arends new album, just hot off the press is pictured above: Love Was Here First.
So far, my two favourite tracks are 5 & 6 I Am A Soul and Willing. I think you can listen to it by clicking on the title of the album posted above.
I first heard this quoted by C.S. Lewis, this thought that I HAVE a body but I AM a soul. It instantly collided (coincided?) with a scripture verse that has always fascinated me:
God has set eternity in the hearts of man.... Ecclesiastes 3:11
....all of which I discovered to be well explored themes of Carolyn Arends.
Happily, her ponderings eventually give way to great songs that never fail to teach, comfort and inspire me. I absolutely love the way this songwriter weaves sound theology into soul stirring melodies - often with the simplest yet most unique turns of phrase.
It's such a wonderful gift and I am compelled to 'pay it forward' as it were.
May you find blessing and peace too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Big Surprise Part Two

Grandpa has been very busy in the backyard park.  We see lots of workers and stones and big machines.
There is a lot of dust everywhere from the stone saws that grind away every day for two months now.
WHAT is grandpa doing?  And WHEN will we be able to ride our toys on the deck again?
And WHERE did the kitty cats go?
WHAT is going on Grandpa?

We can't play outside at Grandma's house so we have to go next door to visit Super-Grandma. She has a big playroom downstairs with an even bigger closet we can crawl into. We can all crawl in this closet and there's still room for Grandma. She doesn't like to do that which is just crazy cuz we LOVE it here!

Yep.  I am the youngest one of the five.  But don't worry - I have it all figured out.  Pretty soon I'll be finished with the elbow/knee shuffle thing and running with the rest of them.
I watch my mom...
I know how to do this!

And I will help you my little Lysie.  I will always be here for you.  Someday you will like my squishy hugs and kisses.  I will share my special snack cup with blue smarties with you.  You will like me then.  I will not be bossy.

And then all FOUR of us can be in this pac n' play!  Not Micah though.  Boys are not allowed.
Micah can watch the workers in the backyard while we play house and dollies.  Boys are yucky.

The Big Surprise

There's a lot of excitement in our backyard these days.
Something very big is going down today....
And I can't wait....

It has to do with that back corner that's been raised and prepped...

That tranquil little innocuous corner of the yard - so neglected for twenty years - waiting for such a moment as this.

Stay tuned.  I won't be living with the suspense much longer myself!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Screwtape Letters

With the blessing and indulgence of my beloved once again, and to celebrate a significant milestone at the close of this year, I am in the process of planning a 5 day trip to Washington D.C. combining three things I am passionate about:
Family * Faith * Fellowship
The impetus for this particular destination?
A production of The Screwtape Letters based on one of C. S. Lewis' brilliant novels - exploring the theme of spiritual warfare from a demons' point of view.
Beloved by both audiences and critics alike, The Screwtape Letters, adapted for the stage by Max McLean and Jeff Fiske, offers a witty and thought-provoking theatrical experience that will change the way you think about angels and demons.
Readers will know by now that I am hopelessly besotted with all things CS Lewis.
This will be a MUCH anticipated treat and I am thrilled to be able to enjoy it with our children.
How does one blog the shriek of delicious excitement?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Afternoon with Corinne

Meet Corinne, my "sister" in the church family.... a vivacious, fun-loving and inspiring woman whose life was altered dramatically a number of years ago with the diagnosis of ALS - commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
I recently had the pleasure of an afternoon with her and asked permission to introduce you to her by way of this blog.
As I drove up the long and winding driveway, I found Corinne wheeling about outdoors in the company of Belle, the family dog - beautiful in both appearance and disposition. The three of us set out for a jaunt in the late summer sun - me with my camera and Corinne with her talking device.

Corinne's first clue to the presence of ALS was a persistent problem with slurred speech.
It took many months coming to a final conclusive diagnosis since it is typically a process of eliminating all other possibilities.
Accepting the reality of the disease is of course, a painful journey all its own, the sorrow of which cannot be fathomed by the rest of us.   Yet we are called to participate in each other's joys and sorrows within the construct of what I like to dub, the Ultimate Family.  
In this context and for good purpose, what I (and so many others) see now, is a woman filled with courage and determination to bear this burden with all the pizazz she can muster.
I see a measure of God's grace and light that is so powerful, I am humbled and blessed to the core every time I see her... and we get to see a lot of her.
She wouldn't dream of shirking the number of days left to her - using every opportunity to remind us of the blessing of life here on earth, as temporary and brief as it is.

Corinne is a bona fide country girl. I have her permission to share one of the more 'interesting' experiences of my life made ten times more memorable simply because she was a primary figure in it!
We've been members of the same church family all of my married life and many years ago, we somehow found ourselves planning a trip downtown to the local Barton Detention Centre to visit a troubled young man of our church family - incarcerated there for a time.
One of Corinne's gifts is encouragement - she makes it her business to dispense with it whenever/however she can. I certainly needed her bravado to do the same as we drove through that seedy part of the city - a committed pair of country bumpkins looking every bit the part as we cautiously circled the parking lot with our full size family van in search of a spot.

And we two, neatly but overdressed greenhorns to despondency naively picked our way over to a surprisingly long waiting line outside the entrance where one by one - we had to submit to a security checkpoint to gain entry. There was a scrawny little fellow named Mark who seemed to know all the other regulars in that line-up - really friendly in a curious sort of way. The guard on duty blandly informed us to leave our purses behind and pointed to a row of outdoor lockers of dubious condition.
Who did the man think he was kidding?  We weren't born yesterday.
Discreetly, I ran to lock them away in the back of the van.
An hour later, we emerged from our supervised visit (through a glass panel and using an *ugh &gag* common phone to chat with our petty criminal friend only to find the van's back window blown out - and you guessed it -- two missing purses!

We interrupt this story with a portrait of Beautiful Belle who was only allowed to walk us to the end of the driveway. Corinne instructed me in her own inimitable way, to order Belle back home. But alas, we had to trot her back up the driveway and put her in the outdoor kennel ourselves; me - virtually jogging to keep up to Corinne's lead hand on the controls ... LOL

So where was I with the story? Ah yes.
Upon realizing our purses were stolen, Corinne Quick Wit, grabbed the cell phone from the dashboard to cancel her credit cards and captivated the bank teller with tales of the hoist in a Detention Centre parking lot -- under the steady gaze of a few surveillance cameras no less!
The front desk security guard nonchalantly pointed the way to the downtown police precinct with a tired familiarity that was none too comforting. Back into the van we loaded - undeterred, pulling into a Tim Horton's to grab a coffee before filing our paperwork with the police.
The momentary awkwardness at the drive-thru window when we realized we couldn't pay for our order was broken by Corinne's trademark laughter and she once again regaled the employee with our tale of misadventure ... the coffee was on the house after that!
After another hour with the police, filling out one form after another we crossed the street into the metered parking lot and removed a $25.00 parking fine from under the front wiper.
Was it too much to ask for the parking bylaw officer to see a blown out back window and put two and two together?  Pfft!
I might have cried had not Corinne chosen that precise moment to christen the air with yet another trademark peel of hearty laughter.  I could naught but join her - all the way home, long past the dinner hour. There's an indefatigable optimism about Corinne that helps one see past the problem to the opportunity. It's (she's) a lovely thing to be around.

Corinne acknowledges every vehicle that passes us by with a small wave. She still manages to have the guys honk at her! :)  That indomitable spirit of hers shines so bright.  I can hear her sparkling laughter.

We were examining a deer path through the forest (she had to identify it to me, the far less observant one of the pair) when the sun broke through the clouds and instantly warmed our roadside parking spot.
By the way, that scrawny little fellow named Mark surfaced once again in my life not six months after that episode.  I saw him duck into the dressing room at the hockey arena where I was watching my sons go thru their ridiculous 6 am drills. (!)?  this time I recognized him for the petty accomplished thief he was and sent a few daddies in after him -- too soon to catch him in the act unfortunately and sadly, he had already ripped a few cars off in the parking lot which wasn't noticed until he was long gone.
Let it not be said that a country bumpkin cannot learn 'street smartness' after all!

Apparently, Corinne's father-in-law made these bird houses. On the way back, I saw many others dotting the landscape as well as the trees up her long & winding driveway.

Hubby Gary was telling us one Sunday about how his wife 'takes him out for a jog' in her mobile and how he had taken a fluke (but apt) picture of her cruising past a speed sign.
I could not resist getting my own evidence of her lead - uhmm ... hand.
But now I must publish this post as late as it is.
I love you Corinne. Your spirit. Your witness.  We never fail to pray for you and thank God for you.
I see Jesus in you and look forward to the day we will laugh together again with great abandon. Meanwhile, please know that you 'speak' more powerfully now than ever before.
Readers can reach Corinne with their own note of encouragement at: