Sunday, 18 February 2018

Hearing the Voices

I went to my parents' for supper after my PD (professional development) today. Mom had prepared a lovely chicken dinner. As mom was making final meal preparations, she asked how my day had been. I said really good. The speaker was interesting, practical and relevant...and then like a kid coming home after school and being asked what they learned that day and saying “I don't know,” I stumbled and stammered to try to remember what he had said. I knew there were three sessions and could only remember the topic of one of the sessions.

I'll go out to my vehicle tomorrow and look at the papers I got at the ACSI conference and remember what the topics were, but it was the second session – the one I remember on my own – that had the biggest impact on me.

It was about voice management – dealing with the various voices in one's head that tend to influence everything we do: the voices from one's family of origin, of critics, of the crowd and peanut gallery, of the enemy and one's own inner voices and of course, the voice of the Father, the Good Shepherd. The main point the speaker, Terry Young, made was that we can't manage the voices in our heads, we can only choose how loud to turn up the volume of the ones we want to pay attention to. It's a matter of attentiveness, not management. Those voices will always be there but which ones will we allow to direct our lives?

I appreciated how he pointed out how Jesus, like us, had all those voices in his life too. His family of origin at one point wanted to take him away because he was “out of his mind”; he had critics who accused him of being mad, blasphemous, deceitful, Beelzebub; he had people who wanted to crown him king by force and others who wanted to stone him; he had the enemy who tried to convince him to take the easier, more comfortable path to power and influence; and then he had the voice of his Father saying, “This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well-pleased (Mark 12:14).” And that was the voice Jesus listened to, that was the voice of the one who directed his every action, that was the relationship that allowed him to fulfill his purpose, to engage fully in the life around him and disengage productively to turn up the volume on that voice. And we have that same option. We too can turn up the volume on the voice that says, “'You are my son (or daughter); today I have become your Father.'” (Psalm 2:7)” and “[the Lord you God] will take great delight in you … [and will] rejoice over you with singing (Zeph. 3:17).” We too can attune ourselves to the Father's voice to become centered and purposeful, and turn down the competing voices in our heads. It is a great comfort to have that opportunity and the only question remains is if I will avail myself of that option.

“Good Shepherd, what say you?”

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:2 – 4, emphasis mine

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Dracaena fragrans

I've had a little gift in my classroom this week - the beautiful fragrance of spring, a scent reminiscent of honeysuckle but sweeter. 

I noticed it Monday morning when I first walked into my room after having been gone sick last week. At first, I was curious where such a beautiful scent was coming from, what room freshener had been sprayed.  But the fragrance didn't fade;  it persisted and in fact maybe got stronger.  It took me a little while to figure out that it was coming from the corn plant I have growing in a pot. 

My mom gave me the plant about a year ago.  It had lived in her house for many years, but my parents moved and didn't have room for it anymore.  I was happy to take it off her hands and have had it living in my classroom ever since. 

The corn plant, or dracaena fragrans, is a pretty common, boring houseplant.  The blossoms aren't especially showy.  I hadn't actually realized that a corn plant grows blossoms, and certainly not such fragrant blooms. It was especially surprising for me to learn that it is fairly rare for a corn plant to flower, mostly in mature plants.  The boys in my class, of course, felt the need to sample the sap dripping from the blossoms and informed me that it was sweet.  And my room has smelled beautifully all week.  It won't last much longer, I suspect, but I have appreciated this surprising gift for these last several bitter winter days. 

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.  Isaiah 61:11

You rarely find flowers on indoor plants from the Dracaena genus, D. fragrans though is the exception. Pay attention when we say the flowers are still not frequent enough to call their appearance "common", but they do occur occasionally if the plant is mature and being treated well. Sprays of small numerous white flowers will come shooting out of the crown and they have a highly fragrant almost sickly sweet scent.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Ash Wedneday - Valentine's Day

Lent - Day 1

I often find myself longing for the days when I kept a regular blog.  It felt like a time in my life when I paid attention to my own life, memorialized the small but important things.  As my husband said, I seemed more contemplative and intentional about my life "in those days."

Today Lent begins.  Lent, a time for reflection, a time of preparation and tidying up the physical and metaphorical clutter in one's life.  A time to pay attention to life, to sacrifice, to think and contemplate.  And that is why this year, I have chosen to take up the discipline of writing again, to actively listen and reflect on lessons I can learn from my own life daily.

And so the journey begins, with a bouquet of roses from my Valentine to set me on my way.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Delta Beach

The other day, Mike, Sara and I went on a driftwood-hunting expedition to Delta Beach, a 15 minute drive north of Portage la Prairie, along the southern edge of Lake Manitoba. It had been a number of years since we had last been there, long ago enough that Sara couldn't remember having been there at all. Mike remembered being there on a field trip in grade one and on church excursions but what we both remarked on was how different it looked. How beautiful and peaceful and clean it was.

We hadn't been there at all since the floods of 2011 when Lake Manitoba outgrew itself to engulf beach cottages and farmers' fields and roads, and before that, we remembered Delta as a basically untended destination, not well-maintained, overgrown, dirty. Evidently, a lot had happened since then.

The beach was pristine, only full of gorgeous soft, clean sand and stripped, overturned trees turned white from staying under water and sun so long – no garbage to be seen anywhere. Birds of all kinds were in the air: sea gulls, Canada geese, a hawk, a pelican, sand pipers. There were a few people but not many. We strolled down the beach and waded through the warm shallow water for what felt like miles and were only greeted with beauty and the mesmerizing sound of lapping waves. It was the Delta beach it had always been, only better.

We came away with the necessary driftwood, many photos and a collection of feathers and seashells. We weren't there long but we all had a wonderful time and vowed to come again.

That's what I'd like for myself, at the beginning of this “new year” - to be myself, only becoming a better, improved version. Clearly altered by the past but fitter, wiser, more creative, more disciplined, more comfortable in my own skin, more accepting of others in theirs'.

There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self.”
Aldous Huxley

Make the most of yourself....for that is all there is of you.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Books for Sale

I ordered more copies of my book, Along the Way.  They are on sale for $10 if we can connect in person, or $15 if you would like one mailed to you.  Perhaps you would like to give one as a gift;  Mother's Day is coming up!  Share with others you think may be interested.

Thank you once again for all the support over the years.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Wild Animal

My brother invited my husband and me over the other day to watch a couple of movies. I took a break a few minutes into the second one and went for a walk down the lane he shares with my parents, the one I have walked down many times over the course of my life. It was a brisk spring afternoon and his dog, Mitsy, decided to join me.

We were almost all the way back to where the two driveways split apart, down by the last swamp, when all of a sudden, I heard this blood curdling – sound – that I could hardly describe, but it stopped me in my tracks and made the hair on my neck stand up. I turned in the direction of the sound, up on the hill behind me to see what made that sound, but all I saw was Mitsy high-tailing it home. Well, there was no way I was sticking around to see what animal it was. If the dog was afraid, so was I! The sound came again and again, and I was off and running.

I'm not a big runner, well, not a runner at all, but I was that afternoon! That was the fastest 500 m dash I'd ever run, probably in my life. I ran towards my parents' house instead of my brother's since it was closer. I was pretty sure if the animal was going to take chase, I would never make it all the way to my brother's. Even then, I couldn't run the whole way. I had to slow down to a speed walk to catch my breath. I did manage to make it to the house in one piece – and I never did see the animal.

At first, I assumed it was a coyote, since that's the most common wild animal that would theoretically scream at a dog. But it was so loud and so unlike any coyote howl I had ever heard, I thought maybe it was a rabid coyote. Later, when I told my story, my parents suggested a wolf, or bobcat, or cougar, all of which have been known to frequent the area. Regardless, I was glad to be close to safety and still alive.

But then I had to make my way back to my brother's. There was no way I was going back down the road towards the wild animal. My other option was to head through the bush, which was shorter, but also more hazardous for running should the animal come after me there, and also closer to other potential wild animals. I was pleased the dog came back for me. Maybe it was not too dangerous anymore.

Long story short, I made it back in one piece. Caught a cold from inhaling so much cold air with such heavy breathing. Was kind of one edge every time the dogs barked for the rest of the evening.

What I learned from my little episode is that:
1. I'm quite out of shape. My doctor had suggested that I might want to engage in more vigorous exercise than walking to remedy constant low-grade fatigue; her suggestion might be helpful for a variety of things, including escaping danger!

2. Even if I had been in better shape, my best efforts would have been insufficient for the task of saving myself if I had indeed been chased by a wolf or cougar.

3. I had little control over the situation. Sure, I maybe contributed by walking unsuspectingly past a wild animal who didn't want me there. Sure, my speed, or lack thereof, could have had an affect on the outcome had there really been a wild animal after me. But essentially, it wasn't through my efforts that I happened to come out unscathed, nor would it have been my fault if I had been attacked.

When bad things happen, or we manage to avoid bad things happening, we either want to blame something or someone, or perhaps take credit for side-stepping disaster. I don't think it's as easy as that. Sometimes bad things happen; sometimes they don't. Sometimes we are prepared for a crisis; sometimes our very best efforts are not enough to avert a tragedy. This is the world we live in: “[God] causes his sun to shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). Our job as humans is to help each other, to do what we can to alleviate inevitable pain, to do what we can to lighten each others' loads.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12 - 14

Wednesday, 16 March 2016


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