Wednesday Morning Hello

Good morning dear friends everywhere!

I have neglected my blog for several weeks now, being occupied with digging up roots both literal and figurative. Now it’s time to give this site a fresh look and get back to regular blogging, much as summer days will allow.

Two weeks ago I finished planting my large outdoor pots and they are all abloom now. I also finished digging the quack grass out of my flowerbed and planted most of it. In my digging I discovered a bunch of iris corms surviving in the quack grass; I’ve stuck a few of those back in among the bedding plants. Though I really don’t really want them there, I hate to throw them away. I’d love to have oodles of flowers and bright blossoms everywhere, if only I had the time to look after it all.

The day I finished the main planting we got a nice shower, breaking our long drought, and we’ve been blessed by a few showers and one good rain since. The countryside is a lush green now, so good to see! Tiny weeds are popping up in my newly dug flowerbed — as one might expect.

The birds are singing from the trees all around us and a few have moved into the bird houses we have put up around the place. I really love our location here, right beside the woods! The windbreak trees planted before our time and the ones we planted when we moved here in Oct 2007 have all grown and branched out, giving us a nicely shaded yard.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve been digging into family tree roots, discovering a few new things and verifying facts I already knew. Through birth, marriage, and census records I’ve followed the families of several great uncles, brothers of great-grandfather Sam, from Ontario to wherever else they’ve settled. Discovered the roots of great-great grandfather John Falconer and Jemimah Lyons over in Scotland, found out how they both came to Pennsylvania and married there, then went out to “the territories” to farm.

I tell people it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I work each group and section by itself and finally they’ll all come together to make my Vance & Harmon family history.

Sometimes it wants to depress me, seeing all this “born…lived…died.” However, this is life on planet Earth — I’m just travelling through. So I’ve re-resolved to spend my time carefully, choose the activities I enjoy, enjoy the work I must do — and get rid of the clutter.

I was to the Cancer Clinic at the end of May and learned that my white counts are all staying in the normal range, nothing to be alarmed about, no sign of leukemia. Something to be really thankful for!

I hope you are all enjoying the seasons you have, dear readers. If you’re travelling on holidays, I wish you a safe journey. I know some of you are coping with various health issues and wish you courage to cope. And I’m wishing all of you a special touch of God’s grace today.

A Week in Review

Good morning Everyone,

All my life I’ve thought of Sunday as the last day of the week but the calendar persistently corrects me. How about you? Are you mentally beginning the new week this morning or will you start it tomorrow?

Here where I live, this week is starting out with some of rain and frost. Yesterday we had enough rain to settle the dust and water the lawn; by afternoon the scenery looked a lot greener. A bit more rain fell in the evening — only a shower, we might say, but after a couple of weeks of nothing, we’re glad for whatever comes.

I was up at 5 am this morning and the garage roof was white. I checked the dish of water I’d set outside on the deck for our cats and there was a thin layer of ice on top, so I’m very glad I took in the one bedding plant my daughter gave me a few days ago. It’s a gerbera, rather tender, and would have been limp today if it had stayed out.

Doing a quick recap of LAST week, starting with Monday’s trip to Moose Jaw:

We first dropped in on my husband’s cousin and his wife and had a nice visit with them. They’re into bird-watching as well and have feeders up, so we had that in common to visit about. Also the Family tree info, since they’ve done the DNA test, too. No surprises, as they already have the Goodnough history back to England circa 1620 and records on the Letkeman side go back many generations as well. Bob and his Goodnough cousins share the same genetics, as their fathers were brothers and their mothers sisters.

Seeing my sisters was the main reason for this trip. We took my sister Donna out for dinner and caught up with each other’s lives. It’s been a year since I’ve last talked with her — shame on me!

Two weeks ago I called my sister Rose, who also lives in Moose Jaw, and she told me about her bout with lung cancer last winter. She had chemo and radiation in January; also, her husband was recently diagnosed with cancer and has started chemotherapy. Rose’s husband wasn’t feeling well enough to come, but we met her for afternoon coffee at a Tim Horton’s and did some catching up.

We’d left early in the morning, done our visiting by 5pm, and managed to get home again before dark. I’m so thankful for these long prairie evenings!

Tuesday I made both meals at the Villa, which took up most of my day. Wednesday we went into the city. Among other things I bought a couple of bird houses and hung one up for the tree swallows when we got home. Didn’t take them long to find it and by the next day one pair had claimed it for their own.

We had a pair of barn swallows return to our garage and start to set up house, but something happened to the one. Now I see the other sitting forlornly on the yard light post during the day. He has come to the aid of the tree swallows when they’re being menaced by English sparrows.

Thursday morning found me digging my flowerbed in the front, trying to reclaim it from the ever-encroaching quack grass. The dirt was like powder, a bit of moisture about 6″/15 cm down. I managed to “discover” two of the three peonies, dig out the quackgrass and water them, so they will get the full benefit of yesterday’s rain. In the afternoon I painted a wren house and hung it in the Russian olive out back; the next morning a pair of wrens were busy furnishing it.

Apart from that I’ve done a bit of general housework, some blogging, reread a book, The Face of the Earth, by Deborah Raney. I found it just as great the second time around, well written and the tension maintained throughout. I’ll do a book review in my next post.

Friday evening I was helping a friend to get her life story down on paper for posterity. Yesterday afternoon I wrote and polished the story I posted yesterday, The Abduction. In the evening I had a long visit over the phone with a cousin in Saskatoon, someone I also haven’t connected with for awhile. How does the time slip away?

And now it’s 7:30am and I must get ready for church and whatever else this new day holds. I hope you’re all having an enjoyable day of refreshment and will be ready to face the first day of a new work-week tomorrow. 🙂

Reading & Musing on a Sunday Morning

I was reading a passage of scripture this morning and decided to write my thoughts down, in case anyone is interested.

II Corinthians 12: 2-10

In this account, the Apostle Paul is telling the church members at Corinth about an experience he has had, and the effect this vision has had in his life. He doesn’t name himself, yet Bible scholars agree that he’s telling his own story here.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago…such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Some scholars have read the story of when Paul was stoned and left for dead, wondering if he really did have an out-of-body experience. The Apostle himself isn’t certain, and leaves it open as to whether he was really dead or if this was a vision he had. However, during this experience he saw such beauty and glory, and heard such words as could never be described to an audience here on earth.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

So why doesn’t he tell the world about his experience? Why does he refer to it so discreetly, not mentioning that this happened to him? Why does he rather rejoice that he has these infirmities that drag him down? First, he doesn’t want people lifting him up:

6 For though I would desire to glory…now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Most scholars agree that this “thorn in the flesh” was an infirmity that slowed him down, and probably a disfiguring one. We get the impression from different passages that Paul wasn’t such an attractive man.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God has chosen to leave him weak so that the Spirit of the Lord can speak through him. People aren’t meant to look to Paul for the answers in life. The Lord Jesus doesn’t want people following Paul because he’s physically attractive or such a persuasive orator. So the Lord leaves him with this weakness, one which seems, from other scriptures as well, to be obvious to Paul’s audience.

Paul accepts this situation with grace:
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It’s so human to want to be strong, to be talented, articulate, to have our listeners nod when we present our ideas. The thought of stepping up to speak, either to an individual or to a crowd, and having absolutely no speech planned out is frightening. The thought of stammering and groping for words is abhorrent to most of us. Likewise we’re inclined to shy away from a task if we’ve had no prior experience in that line. None of us want to sound, or look, dumb.

When we lived in Ontario our neighbour was a minister in another denomination. One day his wife explained to me how ministers were hired. A congregation in need will hear of a pastor who wants to move from the place he’s at, so a small delegation from the pastor-less church goes to hear him —or her, in this group— speak. If the pastor presents a good sermon, if they like the looks of him and feel he’d be a good fit for their own congregation, they offer to hire him. (Again, or her.) How tempting would it be to put a lot of effort into making a good physical impression.

Paul has adopted a different mind-set. In one place he says, “The ways of God are higher than ours.” Aware of his own weakness as a human being, he “takes a step back from himself” and rather goes forward in the Lord. The idea of winning followers of using eloquence to gain a good salary, these are laid aside. He doesn’t take pains to please the audience or “keep out of trouble.” He rather lets the words of Jesus flow through him and speak to the hearts of his audience.

This is more pleasing to God and the Gospel more effective, than if Paul could attract listeners and entertain them with his own oratory ability, or persuade them by his skillful reasoning. He leaves us this example, so none of us can feel we’ve nothing to offer. When we feel we have no talent, skills, physical attraction, or never “the right words,” we can comfort ourselves God’s words to Paul: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”