Advent Begins

>> Sunday, November 30, 2014

These guys just blow me away.

Happy first Sunday of Advent!!

Three Kings 2


Practicing Gratitude [11.27]

>> Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Thursday hosted in November by Laurie @ Women Taking a StandWell. Only three days till December.  For REAL!  Yikes.

I've been especially thankful this last week that the snow and extreme cold held off until The Man was around to help the girls finish stacking all our firewood.  They were working away at it for half an hour to an hour here and there, but weren't making huge progress with the heap.  They finished the job with their dad's help on Saturday, just as the first real snow began to fall.  (we ended up getting several inches by Sunday morning)

Other things I'm thankful for:

  • visits with old friends
  • thought-provoking and really good discussion-starting Sunday school material (we're working through David Platt's Radical study)
  • the Bible study group we joined last month
  • no shortage of good books to read
  • filling two Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and contributing some extras to fill others
  • the girls readily accepted my idea of reading a chapter of the Bible to them each morning at breakfast and seem to be quite enjoying it.  We'd tried since summer to spend time reading a chapter together daily, but we seemed to never find a "good" time and the girls often felt like it was an unpleasant obligation, especially when it came to longer chapters or lists of names!  Now that I'm reading it to them while they're eating, they actually seem to look forward to it.  We're following this plan (using our own dates), which tells the Bible's overall story in 365 chapters, making reading through the Bible in a year very manageable for people of all ages.
  • our bright red cardinal is still frequenting our feeder, and looks especially beautiful now against the backdrop of white snow
  • no more volleyball practices to make extra trips to town for (though I'm glad Mack enjoyed her first experience as part of a school sports team)
  • though it's still too full of bins and other stuff, at least the upstairs landing is free of tripping hazards.  And we can see most of the girls' bedroom floor again, too!
  • Mmmmm, Christmas goodies!
There are always so many more things to be grateful for than I have room to write or you have patience to read.  And then we haven't even scratched the surface.

What are you most thankful for today?

(For all my American friends!)


B-baby, It's C-C-COLD OUTSIDE!!

>> Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In celebration recognition of our first -30°C/-22°F temperature of the season...

I saw it on FB a week or two ago and instantly loved it.  Considering Micheal BublĂ© is one of my favourites, that wasn't really a surprise, but I think the whimsical nature of the video is almost better than the voices themselves.  With our current weather, it just seemed so very appropriate. :)

So I'm huddling indoors with my woodstove today. (my outdoor thermometer actually shows 6 degrees colder yet than the "official" temp!)  What are YOU doing to stay warm?



Practicing Gratitude [11.13]

>> Thursday, November 13, 2014

Well, first and foremost this week, I am thankful that Monday's 4-hr round trip for medical appointments went safely.  And without snow!  Here on the Canadian prairies, that time of year has arrived when weather is an undeniable consideration in making ~ and more specifically, keeping ~ travel plans.  We've had a few skiffs already, but nothing major at this point.  In fact, here at our house there isn't even any snow on the ground yet, while just a few miles away there's been a light covering for a few days already.

Stopping at an old roadside park
to check out the ice.
I'm thankful for moments of personal growth.  Last week, I spent the better part of two mornings putting plastic on our windows and I found myself muttering under my breath an awful lot.  I began to wonder why I hated the job so much and I realized it wasn't the job I really resented, but the reality that necessitated it.  I hate that we haven't had the money to replace our old, drafty, falling apart ~ and in some cases, moldy ~ windows.  I resent feeling financially stuck and unable to do even the things that NEED doing, let alone the things we'd LIKE to do.  But then I remembered I'm among the few fortunate in this world just to have a real house.  A roof over our heads and a place to get out of the wind.  A place with running water and two sources of heat (one of which would be almost oppressive at times if our windows WEREN'T drafty!), and filled with things we don't really need.  And I'm thankful for ways to minimize the drafts.

Driving in the shade with snow on the left, blue sky on the right, and sunshine in between!

I'm thankful The Man got a 5-day weekend and could spend some time on things around the house and yard.  Like getting our firewood!   It's too bad he couldn't work a full week ~
The girls both had
volleyball tournaments
this past week.
that's not great from our little trucking company's standpoint ~ but it's been a long time since he's had more than just a day and a half at home, so it was good for all of us.  (And I'm so thankful the reason for the time off was weather-related shut-downs, not truck break-downs!)

I'm thankful for all the rights, freedoms, and privileges we enjoy in this country.  The girls and I attended a Remembrance Day service on Tuesday and one of the speakers asked us to think about what fallen soldiers from the past might think about our current use of freedom.  Would they still be proud to have given their lives for their country, or would they be grieved by how often we abuse our rights and take our freedom for granted?  I must confess, I never give much thought to that perspective, but I want to try and keep it in mind a little more often.  I guess this, too, is an area where I need to think more about what it looks like to live in gratitude.

What are you most thankful for today?


They Thought I Was Worth It.

>> Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's unfortunately popular to disparage the North American war efforts of the last century.  Trendy to criticize and place blame for lost lives.  This isn't to say that some of it isn't deserved, but for the most part, I think we miss the point.

How will our grandchildren and great-grandchildren perceive our fights when the tales are recounted for them?  Will the causes seem as worthy then as they do now?  Will the risks taken seem pointless or worthwhile?  Will future generations see selflessness and heroism or will they see only ulterior motives and greed?  Will they comprehend all the things we had to consider, will they understand the elements involved in the decisions we made or had to make using the only available intel at the time?

Not likely.

And maybe that's exactly our problem.  We don't see the events that lead to past decisions.  We don't feel the very real fears that were felt at that time, in those moments.  We can point fingers and make accusations all we want; we weren't there.  We simply don't know what it was like.  By and large, we as North Americans don't know how scary it is to feel threatened.  The events of 9/11 reminded us briefly that we weren't invincible, and defending our homes and ways of life became more important for a time, but even then, I don't know that we were really concerned about a large-scale invasion and an impending loss of life as we know it.  Certainly not up here in Canada, anyway. We just don't know how it feels to really, truly, viscerally believe that our lives, our families, our livelihoods, our futures, are in imminent danger of being lost forever.

I get so weary when I hear statements like: "I don't believe our 'freedom' was ever actually, literally at stake" or, "I never asked anyone to fight for me."  The former is pure speculation and the latter is just asinine.  One doesn't ask, or determine not to ask, a hero to step in and save a life when there is no perception of danger.  The hero just does it and then one humbly expresses thanks later.  And sure, we can speculate that no enemy would have been able to take over our country, but we can just as easily speculate that one could have.  How would things be now if two generations ago, our country, our military would have decided nothing bad would really happen?  There's no way of knowing, but I, for one, am glad my grandparents' generation didn't take that risk.

And that's obviously only talking about preserving my own rights and interests in the second world war.  What of other situations and other times that had nothing to do with our own way of life, but where our country engaged to assist a people group being raped by its corrupt government or ethnically "cleansed" by a bloodthirsty, power-crazed militia?  On the school ground we insist our children go tell an adult when someone is being bullied, but don't we then expect the staff to intervene and end the abuse?  Who does an oppressed tribe turn to?  Who saves the lives and ends the suffering for the oppressed and persecuted?

The concept of having a "peacetime mentality" has come up several times in various settings the last little while and it appears to apply to virtually every aspect of life.  Our lives of freedom and privilege have yielded a culture of incredible self-absorption and pettiness.  We focus on the wrong things, we spend time and money on the wrong things, we fight about the wrong things, and it's all because we've become rich, fat, and lazy.  There is absolutely nothing that we as a nation are striving for together, no collective sense of urgency to meet another's need.  We have nothing to focus on but ourselves and far too much time and money to do it.

I hope we can turn that around.  Obviously, we will not be able to mimic a war-time mentality without conflict, but I hope we think of the future when we fight, whether literally in armed conflict, or more figuratively.  There are always conflicts in this life, and until human history comes to an end, there always will be.  Whether we choose to engage voluntarily or find ourselves thrust into the midst by forces beyond our control, we will fight for, against, or about something, with someone.  I hope we choose our battles wisely, knowing our children are watching and learning from our decisions.  I hope we teach them there are things and people worth fighting for, despite the possibility that they may disagree with our decisions later in life.  I hope we teach them to respect and honour those who fought before our time, because even without seeing our generation ~ without knowing us or who we'd become ~ they believed we were worth the fight.  They didn't assume life would carry on as it always had if they just did what they felt like doing and stayed home.

If there were no other reason to be grateful, that is enough.


The Elevator Project: Part October

>> Wednesday, November 5, 2014

To see other (more or less) Wordless Wednesday posts, click here.


November Daybook

>> Monday, November 3, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook, hosted by Peggy @ The Simple Woman's BlogOutside my window... Grey.  A bit of moisture in the air that hints of snow.   Boo.

I am thinking... how good it feels to be productive right first-thing in the morning, despite how much easier it is to be lazy!

I am thankful... for a good weekend.  None of our plans with friends worked out, but we had a really good time with just our little family.

In the kitchen... a mountain of dishes, a loaf of bread in the bread-maker and a pot of zucchini Parmesan soup cooking on the stove (minus the egg; I never bother with it).  A friend of mine has been under the weather for a couple of weeks already and was just diagnosed with pneumonia on Saturday, so I will bring the soup and bread to her this afternoon.

I am going... grocery shopping later today before picking Mack up from her second-last Monday afternoon volleyball practice.

I am wondering... what I can do differently to make the most of the few hours The Man is home every week ~ to feel like we've had a good time together as a family, but include time with others regularly as well.  It's tough to feel like there's enough time to share with others when he's sometimes barely home for 48 hours and he's had to spend most of the day Saturday servicing the semi-truck.

I am reading... The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (I saw the movie YEARS ago and was quite impressed, so when I happened to see the title at a thrift store last month with a price tag of 25¢, I snatched it up.)

A quote that caught my eye...
There will never come a day when God says to me, "I wish you'd spent more time and money on yourself and the things you wanted." (paraphrased; Radical by David Platt)
I am hoping... I won't have to wait long for my CT scan.  I've known there's been something not quite right with one of my hips for several years already, but over the last year, it's deteriorated to the point where it's downright problematic at times.  I finally talked to the doctor about it just over a week ago and had it x-rayed, which resulted in the CT scan requisition.  Now I wait for the radiology department in the hospital where AJ had her tonsils and adenoids removed last month to contact me with a date...

I am learning... why people needing a lot of medical attention and care tend to move to larger centers.  For AJ alone, we will make a total of four trips to a small city two hours away this year, and if my scan appointment is before the end of the year, that will make it five.  And our reasons are both just for one-time deal-type problems (hopefully), not on-going, health management issues!

Around the house... not much is happening.  The decluttering process is slow and painful (and annoying), so I tackle it in very small bits and pieces at a time!

I am pondering... what "sacrificial living" could/should look like in our affluent society

I am looking forward to... packing our two Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  We picked up most of the things we're going to include already, but there were a few things I wanted to send yet that we didn't have time to look around for the other day while we were shopping.

One of my favorite things... enjoying quiet time with a cup of coffee in the dark, pre-dawn hours, while everyone else is still asleep.

A few plans for the rest of the month:  Christmas baking and celebration planning!  Three middle school volleyball tournaments.  More decluttering...  Ugh.

A peek into my day...
Just keepin' it real.

**UPDATE:  just 15 minutes after posting this, the radiology lab called to make my CT scan appointment and it was no problem to schedule it for next Monday, the same day I have to bring AJ down to the same city for her post-op check-up!  Woo-hoo!!

* Click the Simple Woman's Daybook graphic at the top of the post to visit our host and other daybookers.


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