A few days ago, my husband and I looked around our empty house for the last time, left a note and the keys on the counter, closed the door and drove away. Our home of fifteen years was about to become the home of another family.
One chapter of our lives had concluded. The story written in that chapter began when we arrived in Alberta, happy to be closer to our children and two grandchildren. In the following pages our joy increased as we welcomed new members, including five more grandchildren to the family. The rooms were often graced with the sweet sound of laughter as we gathered for meals and sleepovers with grandchildren.
The years passed in what seemed like the blink of an eye. The lives of our children and grandchildren have become busier as ours have slowed down. My husband and I are now retired and the upkeep required with a house is not as appealing as it once was.
Still, the decision to close this chapter was not an easy one. There comes a time, however, when in order to move forward, we need to let go of things that are holding us in the past. That time had come.
I am grateful for the chapter we’ve just closed. Its pages contained opportunities, activities and experiences indelibly imprinted in my memory.
The story is far from over and as we turn the page to start the next chapter, I’m excited to see how it continues.
While in New Brunswick in late September, my husband and I made a stop at Cape Enrage. This is on the Bay of Fundy and, as the name suggests, turbulent waters are often encountered there. In fact, the area closes to tourists in early October due to safety concerns.
The oldest active lighthouse on the New Brunswick mainland stands 125 feet above the water here. We were told it has undergone several changes since being built in 1840. Among other things, upgrades to the lighting system have been done to ensure it remains bright enough to safely guide passing vessels.
What I found interesting was the fact it has been moved from its original location three times due to erosion. The effects of the elements were posing a danger to its existence and the whole thing was moved. Can you imagine the work involved in that?
I thought about the changes I have had to make in my life over the years. In order to survive what the elements have thrown at me, there has been a need to change my position. The moves were necessary but definitely not easy.
My thoughts, beliefs and habits were uprooted as the solid ground I thought I was on slowly eroded. If I didn’t make some changes, my life would soon crumble around me.
I learned the tools necessary to establish myself on a firm foundation. The storms of life no longer hit me with the same force. Because of this, my light shines brighter and perhaps it can help guide others through their turbulent waters.
Prescription in hand, I headed for the Optical Store, determined to make the necessary change.
A few months earlier I had been there, looked at new frames, received some price quotes and then decided to put off getting new glasses. Even though my prescription had changed, my old ones didn’t seem that bad, so I thought I could get by with them.
Hours spent in front of a computer screen started to result in blurry vision. Reading a book could do the same. Sometimes the issue took hours to fully resolve. For the sake of clarity, the time had come to make the change.
Decisions on frame style and lens type weren’t as difficult as I’d thought. I felt good knowing soon I’d be looking at the world more clearly through a new pair of glasses.
This could have been accomplished much sooner if I’d just made the change when it was needed rather than putting it off.
I guess this is a mirror of my life as I have been known to resist change there as well. My reasons to stay the same seem valid at the time. It’s too much effort. Things aren’t really that bad the way they are. Eventually, I lose clarity and situations become distorted. My focus is no longer healthy.
What I need is a new perspective, another way of looking at things. When I figuratively change glasses my outlook and therefore my life, improves. It’s amazing what a shift in focus can do!
Do you have any special Christmas traditions? Are there activities, outings or special foods that signify the season for you? They may have been carried forward in your family for years, decades or generations.
How easy is it for you to adapt to changes in your traditions?
I grew up in a home where we were able to choose one of the presents under the tree to open on Christmas Eve. When I got married this changed. My husband was of the opinion that all gifts waited until Christmas morning. It was time to form new traditions together.
When my children were young teenagers we would pick my mother up in the afternoon of Christmas Eve and bring her our house to spend the next few days.
She would come to church with our family on Christmas Eve. Afterwards, we would drive around various neighbourhoods admiring Christmas light displays. Upon returning home it was time for hot chocolate and cookies.
One year, my husband made us clubhouse sandwiches on Boxing Day. Little did he know this was the start of a brand new tradition! Boxing Day has been synonymous with clubhouse sandwiches ever since!
Some traditions change out of necessity. My mom is no longer with us and our kids now have families of their own. One thing has not changed in over twenty years. We may not all be together to open gifts or enjoy a turkey dinner on Christmas Day but nobody wants to miss out on our clubhouse gathering on Boxing Day!
It’s funny how something little like this takes hold and becomes such a big part of our lives. Tell me about the traditions that have become part of your family heritage?
My latest book in progress was just returned by my editor. I was discouraged by all of the red marks and notations in the columns. I thought I’d sent some of my best work and still most pages required at least one revision.
It’s not easy to accept criticism, no matter how well-intentioned. Even when I hired someone to find and point out my mistakes, I didn’t like it.
My editor is positive and encouraging. She makes suggestions and leaves it up to me whether to implement them. Her role is to inform me of problems she sees and not to force me to make changes. My words shine brighter and have more clarity after following her suggestions. They are still my thoughts, just an improved version.
Can you think of a time you’ve been given helpful advice and took it as a personal attack? I certainly can. It hurt and I didn’t want to hear it. My first instinct was to put up a wall to block it out and protect myself.
Many times I’ve had to take a step back and seriously consider whether this feedback is valid. It is then up to me to decide if I want to discard or act upon it.
I am learning to appreciate those who act in my best interest by pointing out things I may not have been aware of. The process isn’t always pleasant but does have benefits. The revisions I choose to make because of the feedback can help me shine brighter and become an improved version of me.
We have three frog ornaments sitting on our front porch. One has its hands over the eyes, the next over the ears and the last over the mouth.
After a wind storm, I found one frog had been blown over and was now face down while covering his ears. As I went to take a picture I realized this was a representation of my own recent behaviour. I thought if I could look away and refuse to listen; maybe the problem being pointed out to me wouldn’t really exist.
My husband had gently but firmly asked me some tough questions. One of them was to confront the issue I may have an addiction. To me, this was a ridiculous thought, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
After wrestling with this for several days I had some questions for myself. Could the computer games I play be an addiction? I sit down at the computer to write and think, “I’ll just play a game or two before I start.” After writing a little I reward myself with a few more games. Sometimes I’m on the computer for hours with little to show for my time.
I can quickly switch screens when I hear someone approaching. The fact I don’t want to get caught means I know what I’m doing is wrong. Is it an addiction when this activity robs me of valuable time with loved ones?
The more I thought about it, the more I saw my addictive behaviour. Am I committing the ultimate self-sabotage, keeping myself from having what I most want? I deleted the games from my devices and was surprised by how difficult it was to get rid of them. That left little doubt the problem was bigger than I realized.
My next step was to go to my husband and admit to my addiction. I apologized for the time I had wasted and thanked him for loving me enough to point out my problem. I then asked for his help in keeping me accountable.
I come to you in complete vulnerability to publically admit to my addiction. Now that I have acknowledged it, I am able to work on changing my behaviour. The first step is always the hardest and I’ve already taken it.
“I cannot change or heal what I do not acknowledge.”
After a stretch of frigid cold and mounting snow, the temperature soared to above freezing. The clear blue sky and bright sunshine lured my husband and me out for a walk.
We headed to the environmental reserve a few blocks away. The paved pathway had been cleared of snow which made the walk less challenging than I’d feared. The air was crisp and clear and we were happy to be outside rather than cooped up in the house.
As we rounded a bend, a large section of the path was covered with drifting snow. This was the result of high winds during the night. The same Chinook winds that blew in the warmer temperature were responsible for obscuring the path.
Carefully I picked my way across the mounds of white. There were areas that stayed firm beneath my feet and others that gave way, causing me to sink. Nothing in the appearance of the drifts let me know which case I’d be facing.
As I navigate my way through life, I am not always sure if the path I’m walking is safe. My firm footing may suddenly give way, causing me to slip. There are other times when what looks uncertain may actually be the best route.
How do I determine which way to go? I have learned that my judgment is not always accurate. By trusting the Lord and asking him to direct me, I can have confidence my steps will be secure.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.” Proverbs 3:5-6 GWT
A few days into our mountain getaway I realized the view from our window was different every morning.
The first day dawned bright and clear. Sunshine accented the rugged outline of the Rocky Mountains, inviting us out to explore.
The following morning it was overcast and low cloud obscured our view of the majestic peaks. The drizzle and dreariness lasted throughout the day.
Day three I woke to see the brightness of the sun filtering through the blinds. When I opened them I was greeted by the beauty of fresh snow on the mountain tops. I knew that this beauty was a direct result of the previous day’s weather.
As I thanked God for the scene before me, I felt a nudge in my spirit telling me to apply this to my life.
Not every day can bring the sunshine. I have often felt despair in the dark, gloomy days of life. Hopes and plans seem to either be shattered or put on hold. A longing for the brightness of new promise is palpable.
What I don’t always remember is that God is working behind those clouds of doubt and confusion. Instead of resisting and fighting through with my own plans, I am forced to slow down and surrender to God. That is when he does incredible work in my life. It may not be anything I can see at the time, but when the veil is lifted there is a beauty and purpose in my life that wasn’t there previously. I thank him for the sunshine and the clouds.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV)
Every season has its own unique beauty. As we enter autumn (also known as fall), the leaves on the trees change colour. The area I live in doesn’t have the vibrant reds that some parts of the country display but the golden leaves against the bright blue sky have their own breathtaking appeal.
On a recent walk I noticed some trees with green leaves, some with gold and many that had dropped much of their foliage. There were also those with multiple colours, as though they couldn’t quite make up their minds. The crunch of leaves under my feet was strangely satisfying as I pondered the various stages in this cycle.
In front of me were trees planted close to each other, the same type and approximately the same size. They had received the same care. Why the difference in their reaction to this period of change?
I have no answer for this, other than there is a time and season for everything. For some the time had come to change, while others were not quite at the same phase in their life.
It’s the same for people. We all have our own seasons of activity. You may be in a time of growth and productivity while I’m in a period of rest and renewal. Every cycle has its value. The autumn leaves reminded me that God’s timing is perfect for each of us. I am thankful that my life unfolds according to his schedule.
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. ( Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 NLT)
Sunshine and warmth embraced us and a gentle breeze kissed our cheeks. Wispy white clouds stretched liked cotton candy in the sky. Near the horizon we could see a fishing boat bobbing as sea birds circled, hoping for an easy meal. It was a perfect start to our morning. I sent up a silent prayer, thanking God for the blessing of this day.
A few hours later clouds started rolling in. We noticed the wind getting stronger. Soon dark grey clouds filled the sky. A storm was on its way.
During the afternoon the howling of the wind drowned out the once peaceful sound of the surf. Waves crashed and thundered to shore, topped with foaming white caps that rose ever higher. Wind lashed the rain onto our windows. Our view became obstructed.
We stayed inside to wait out the storm. With the sun tucked away behind storm clouds, darkness came early. Our power was disrupted and we relied on flickering candle light to see across the room.
When the day started we had no idea of the changes we’d face before nightfall. Such is the way of life.
Challenges appear and hit like a gale force wind. There may be little or no warning. The bright sunshine of promise gets blown away. As though in flickering candlelight I can only see far enough to put one foot in front of the other.
This is when I trust on the power supply that never fails. The power of Jesus in my life will guide me safely through the darkest storm. When I lean into him I am given the strength to take the next step. I don’t know how long it may take to reach the sunshine again but I do know that Jesus will help me navigate the darkness when I walk in his light.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12 NLT)