Biscuit break

After a wonderful Valentines & Family day weekend, extended to a 5 day weekend for us due to a lovely snowstorm.. I struggled to get back to the books today. Current assignment is on anger with a separate study on personality disorders. The book on Anger is really quite good, but I just couldn’t get into it today. So, i decided to take a break and bake some biscuits. Truth be told.. i made these yesterday morning as well… but they were gone in a couple of hours – and I failed to take pics during the process, so I thought I’d bake them again today.

When i was young.. my sister Judi used to make a form of “schnetki” after school often to go with our tea. I learned how to make it later.. and then somewhere/how lost the recipe. I’m not much of a white flour/bread/baking person. I don’t crave it. But on winter days when we’re buried in snow, I found myself craving a good hot flaky tea biscuit to spread some good strawberry jam on and enjoy with a hot cuppa tea. I found a super simple recipe on line from Dessert now, Dinner Later that will give you all the tips and tricks for a fantastic flakey fool proof tea biscuit.

Here is the recipe:

I was a wee bit generous with the baking powder – a nice heaping tbsp.

If you do any type of pastry baking, you know the drill, sift dry ingredients together, then blend in the cold butter til pea size form. DO NOT OVERWORK.

For the buttermilk, I put about 2 tsps of lemon juice in my measuring cup, then filled with 2% to the 3/4 mark line and let sit for close to 10 min. It was THICK.

The trick to flaky pastry is 2 part.. again; do not overwork, and layer, layer, layer. I probably relayered 5 times. If you’re no longer seeing the bits of butter, you’ve overworked.


See the layers even before baking?

I missed one part of Amber’s very important advice.. and that was to gently lift up any sides that were stuck down after cutting the biscuits, before going into the oven. I likely should have also floured my snowflake cookie cutter. You can see below what happens when you don’t.. just a wee bit lopsided… woopsie! These were baked at 450 for 10 1/2 min. I might go a little less next time… which may or may not be tomorrow..

but still, super flaky, soft centre, crispy outside.. and just YUMMY.

Get ‘er done

As a child I was often told I was a procrastinator, and looking back, I likely was. I never did homework, and left studying for exams til the 11th hour. I am quite the opposite of that now…. at least for MOST things. I pack/plan ahead for trips well in advance – shop for birthdays/Christmas ahead of time – I’m a serious planner. When I was working in bookkeeping & administration I always completed monthly/weekly tasks at the first available opportunity, as far in advance as possible – leaving room for the unexpected. I had this little sign on my desk that read: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”.. and that’s how I felt. A bit hard-nosed, I know. Working with adult procrastinators now tends to raise my blood pressure. I think to myself.. why are you shelving that? Why are you keeping that on your desk “for later”.. get it done, file it, put it away. Why are you coming to me with this NOW when you knew about this weeks ago?

With my schoolwork so far, i’ve been no different.. the minute I received my syllabus for this course, I bought all the books, and started a week early on my reading and writing. I’m glad I did, because i was able to take a few days off around my birthday when it would have been the busiest time (submissions, scheduled zoom class).. but at the same time, there was a more important reason.. my friend Joanne died that week, and I would not have been able to concentrate had I left my assigned work to that week.

There’s 3 reasons in the above paragraph to “get er done“.

A) get the mess off your desk so you can function better. (clutter out of your life/brain)

B) to leave time for rest & celebrations after/in between the next rush

C) to leave time for the unexpected. Always expect the unexpected.

In the realm of “Get ‘er done”… On my birthday one year ago, a nurse from my GP’s office called me set up screening for colon cancer and breast cancer. in other words…“Happy 50th Birthday, you’re old now.. time to do some gross and painful stuff!” queue the falling balloons and kazoos. I know the nurse personally and joked with her.. “um, girl.. you really know how to dampen a birthday!” I chose not to book anything then. Fast forward to 11 months later, and my new friend is dying from both colon and breast cancer. No family history. It was time for me to ‘get ‘er done’, and I promised her.. in her honour to do it. So i did the gross poop scoop and mailed it off. Got the letter back in the mail a week later saying i’m clear.

Check #1 !

I then booked the mammogram for a few days before my 51st birthday.. I thought.. ok, i’m doing it still this year.. not too bad…. but wouldn’t you know it they called me from the hospital, the machine was down, and they’d call me to reschedule. Fast forward to today, and I met my torturer. Meet Philips.

I have to say, it wasn’t as bad as I had built it up to be in my mind. The tech was great, very kind and personable, and as gentle as possible. This is me saying to you… Get ‘er done. Don’t put it off. Demystify it. I have several friends with no family history or even considered “high risk” that have battled breast cancer – and now I just lost one. So now I await the results – but am glad that I did it. Check #2 off my list.

and now… #3 – the 3rd book for this semester that I have been procrastinating getting into this week, because I know it’s gonna be uncomfortable, it’s might stink like my colon cancer test, or squish and squeeze me uncomfortably like Philips did this morning.

.. ’cause i know i have some anger issues. I know this book is gonna make me sweat, and not just because I’m #awomanofacertainage now. (I have a friend who calls us AWOACA – i love that)

So.. i need to close this short blogpost off and … get ‘er done.

BUT.. before i do.. nothing from the kitchen front today, or the garden.. but I learned something cool about Amaryllis bulbs the other day that I’m experimenting with to find out if it works. As soon as (or just before) the flower begins to bloom, cut the stem off as close to the bulb as possible, and put it in a vase with some cut stem food. Not only will the flower last longer.. the bulb’s next bloom will be stronger and healthier. I’m trying that now with my 4 bulbs. Notice the black bulb .. .how squished it is.. poor thing must have run into Philips. hahaha….

Falling in love with February

January here in Southern Ontario was filled with a lot of mild days, but mostly dreary and cloudy, thankfully ending with several brilliantly sunny cold days that carried into the beginning of February.

I made this fun ice suncatcher for my mom to enjoy out of pointsettia leaves. I enjoyed my daily walks in the glorious sunshine in between studying.

my beat up copy

I’m in the middle of writing 2 papers currently, one due this Sunday, and another the following Sunday. An odd due date… but whatever – I don’t intend to fuss over the papers all day right til midnight on the due date like last term, so in my mind.. today (Friday) is my due date.. so I can rest for the weekend before finishing next week’s paper which I’ve drafted. The papers are to be my response on the first 2 assigned books for this term (this term has a much heavier reading list than last term). When God Weeps by Joni Earekson Tada & Steve Estes. <– link here if you want to read the first few pages. This book gripped me from beginning to end.. It’s the only book in my assigned reading that I first bought hard copy before the Kindle version, knowing it was going to be a favourite. As you can see, my copy is FULL of underlining and sticky notes. SOO Good. If you ever want to read an excellent book on suffering, or have asked the question, “If God is so good, why does he allow suffering?” or someone has asked YOU that question and you don’t know how to answer it… get this book.

oh the underlining…

The next book for this term was “Depression: Looking up from the stubborn darkness” by Ed Welch <–again linked for your perusal. As with almost all my study books since starting this Grad course in Biblical Care & Counselling, I’ve been primarily buying the Kindle versions, because A) I can read them on several devices, B) highlighting is easy, as is citation, C) it comes with direct dictionary links for words I don’t know, and D) the search engine (ie i remember he said something about the link between anger & depression.. where was that?) SOOO handy. For the second time, after only partially reading, I knew I needed the actual book for my library, knowing it would be a very valuable resource in the future. I think I highlighted more than I didn’t in this book. Here’s a few gems…

Joanne promoted Jan 30/21

The assignments are “reflection/response papers” meaning I’m not to write a review of the book, but what did I learn, and how am I applying what I’m learning to my personal life/ministry/ conversations with others? RIGHT after completing “When God Weeps”, and beginning my response paper, my friend Joanne passed away after “dancing with cancer” (her words) for 9 years. She is who I was thinking about, and realized she emulated what I was learning, and taught me so much by her example this last year.. grace in suffering, using it for His Glory.. my paper ended up being more about Joanne than Joni.

The other “book” we have to read several portions from is the DSM-5 by the APA. Let me tell you… THIS is painful reading… thankfully we don’t have to read all 972 clinical pages, but I know I will find this a valuable resource in the years ahead, and already learned a lot about various depressions. (and no, i did NOT buy the expensive hardcopy.. all 972 pages can stay on my Kindle app.)

Squirrel visits me regularly in my window while I study

That gives you a wee glimpse of where I’m at in my studies. We had our first 2 day weekend in class (Zoom from home) last weekend, 7 hours Fri and again on Sat. This was our first introduction to our professor for this term and he spent the full 2 days giving us a whirlwind of lectures on several mental disorders. I tell ya, my brain hurt after those 2 days! …so let’s take a break from talking about school.. because just thinking about the next set of zoom classes makes me feel a bit like this squirrel, except I want to get out, not in.

I managed another Tuna Tuesday, this time searing the tuna to perfection, alongside shittake mushrooms, bok choy and green beans. The directions/recipe are on my last blog post – at which time I accidentally overcooked, this photo below should be with the recipe. This time it just melted in our mouths.. sooo good.

Several sunny days in late Jan & early Feb

Guillermo, friends and family seriously spoiled me for my birthday. The well wishes were bountiful, 2 friends dropped off flowers, phone calls, facetimes, a brand new puzzle, presents from my favourite store..breakfast made for me in the sunshine..

and dinner.. oh…the dinner…. We couldn’t go out to eat due to the lockdown in Ontario, so my dearly beloved had “Chef Brad Rempel” prepare my favourite meal of his: Creamy Potato Leek and bacon soup, medium rare charbroiled beef tenderloin with au jus, creamy mashed potatoes, and Canadian lobster tail with seared veg bundle, finished with ginger crisp apple crumble with ice wine drizzle and creme fraiche. Are you drooling??? I know I am just reliving it.

multipurpose space: meals, study, devotions, puzzling, soaking in the sun…

so yah… all that to say… thanks friends & family who blessed me through my birthday week with phone & video chats, flowers, food, great thoughtful gifts.. for a Covid birthday, it was pretty fantastic.

I don’t know if you’re a Christmas Amaryllis type..but I decided to try this tradition on for size this past Christmas. I bought a single bulb that was wrapped in wax in early December.. instructions are simple.. do NOTHING. No water, no food.. and that’s what mine did all throughout December.. absolutely nothing. Finally in January it started to sprout… and now in February I finally have my first blooms! I all but gave up on this bulb, and treated myself to this trio that has performed spectacularly, and is now about to do it’s second bloom.

Before i sign off.. .a shout out to a blogger I recently discovered. If you’re struggling with debt, budgeting, or trying to figure out your finances… check out Survive Today. Lots of great wisdom and how to’s.. similar in thought to Crown Financial Ministries & Dave Ramsey.

And finally… a true winter shot.. one of my 8 resident cardinals hanging out with a house finch. (last count we have at least 4 pairs plus possibly a couple single males)

January Justification & Seared Ahi Tuna

love new calendars!

I was having a troubling dream last night. I was attempting to reconcile a relationship (very badly). In my dream I asked “George” (not his real name) to tell me what it was that I had done, so we could clear the air. The things he brought up to me from my past (20-30 yrs ago) were astonishing.. and with each accusation he brought up, I tried to justify – “Wow George! seriously?? You know I was 24 yrs old when I said that, and do you have any idea what I was going through at the time?” He then brought up my attitude when I was in a wheelchair (which I actually was for a short time 21 yrs ago) and made it sound like this was my MO for years.. again.. I cried… ‘do you know how long I was in a wheel chair? 2 weeks! and you saw me ONCE during that time – not nearly long enough to make such a grand sweeping accusation on my character!! plus my dad was dying… again, do you have any idea what my life was like? I was making the best of awful situations…’ the conversation kept going, and I kept right on justifying. I actually woke up a few times it was so intense, but forced myself back into the dream because i needed to FIX it. I’m guessing I’m not the only one that does this… or maybe i’m a weirdo, you tell me. Sometimes the dream is a good one you don’t want to leave.. but most often, i go back in because i need to fix something.

An hour after I woke and my head was more clear.. I reflected back on the troubling dream. In real life – I do have a strained relationship with ‘George’.. and I don’t think it will be ever fixed – but I also know it doesn’t have anything to do with me, sadly, all of George’s relationships are strained. I pray he lets go of preconceived notions he has about the people in his life that love him, and hurts he has held on to for many years. George needs restoration and healing.. he needs forgiveness and new life.

But beyond George.. I had to look within me. Why did i fight him, and feel this innate need for justification? I could never undo the things he thought I had done, or maybe actually had.

This quote from Joni’s book has been resonating with me this week. (part of my term 2 studies)

I let out a big sigh of released tension realizing that i AM justified through Christ. He doesn’t keep bringing up my old sins. His blood has washed me clean, and I don’t need to carry those old guilts (whether real or not) around me for choices I made, words I uttered in pain or anger, hurtful things I did, wrongful attitudes.. But I need to confess and keep short accounts. Not to regain my eternal salvation – ’cause I know I can’t lose it – He will NEVER forsake me .. but so I can be unburdened, wear his yoke and be effective. I struggle with confession, I’ll be honest. I don’t do it often enough or soon enough. So i feel the list grow and the pile grow higher. Maybe that’s why George visited me in my dream last night.. to tell me it was time to get on my knees.

BUT.. you came here to find out what’s going on in my kitchen.. not in my heart.. right? First a little update on us and where we’re at… we’re still puzzling, having family zooms and I’m juicing again.

the field behind us is seeing the beginnings of construction.. the beautiful top soil stripped off ready for excavation of 47 new homes. 😦

We’ve been having a mild-ish winter here in Southern Ontario. In Celcius, most of January we’ve been hovering between -2 and +2. Mostly grey and heavy clouded days.. with very few bright and wonderful sunshiny in between, when I run outside as quick as I can to soak in the sun –

like this day a week ago when I hung laundry and Guillermo barbequed.

A couple of good snowfalls, one in early December, and one on Christmas Eve that gave us a glorious white Christmas.

Guillermo is still working at Nanticoke (1 hr 10 min drive most days one way) He had 2.5 weeks off at Christmas – long story short, he was hoping for 3 at least, lost a week because the project kept having issues – then the morning he was to go back to work (Jan 4) he was fighting headaches, stuffy nose, fatigue and body aches. He is required to fill & email a Covid checklist each morning before work, symptoms, who he’s been in contact with etc – and this particular morning there were more than a couple boxes he was checking off so it meant a Covid test and negative result + no symptoms before he could return to work.

The extra 2 days were bittersweet, because he really did need the time off, but he is on contract, meaning if he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid. Couple that with me no longer working and bringing home a paycheque.. thankfully he was able to get a Covid test at 1030 pm that night, and his negative result came in 13 hours later. This week he’s back to 6 days (hopefully not 7)!! Since a winter getaway on a sunny beach is not possible this year, I’ve taken to greeting him at the back door with a rolled hot soapy washcloth when he comes home – just like the staff at Dreams Punta Cana, and he kinda likes it. And i kinda like a clean face to kiss.

I finished my first course in Biblical Care & Counselling with a grade of 89.8% – not bad for my first few months of post secondary education in 32 yrs. (this note & grade was from my prof on my last paper, best grade of all!) The first prof we had was amazing, a real shepherd and very encouraging. Jan 4th I began study for the 2nd course – Typical Problems in Counselling – and so far the reading is fabulous, but we don’t actually “meet” our prof until one month in.. so we’re struggling a bit with expectations in the work.

December 23rd was my last official day at work, and I left the office with a box of personal possessions, a lot of orange items (surprise surprise!) and favourite photos that brightened my desk area. It was a surreal day. 14.5 yrs working for the same company that went through a lot of growth and changes.. and my very last day i just … left. No party, flowers, no handshake or hugs all around, no recognition. I will say that I was given a very handsome and generous bonus on my last day – but Covid certainly has left a lot of life’s transitions and moments just …flat. I empathize with those that graduated without ceremonies and parties. It makes closure and transition just a wee bit harder. All that to say.. I really don’t love parties or crowds, I can buy my own flowers, my husband gives the best hugs, and i’m seriously LOVING being home, enjoying my new routines of waking earlyish to go for a brisk walk, listening to podcasts, taking time to eat a good breakfast and do my devotions before starting my schoolwork. Having the time to take care of friends, write letters, plan and cook good meals for us.. speaking of which…

We hosted a small family Christmas breakfast the day before Ontario went into full lockdown.

baked salmon with black rice and roasted kalettes with fresh squeezed lemon.

I’ve been doing too many casseroles lately, and craving fish, so one night this week we had baked salmon and then last night i planned seared ahi tuna. I picked up some beautiful baby bok choy, cremini and shittake mushrooms to go along with this beautiful fish. Unfortunately.. i overcooked the tuna, it was well done, not med rare as it should have been, but still very yummy. I’ll know better for next time.. which will be soon!

Tuna was frozen, so I thawed overnight, then marinated for one hour in low sodium soy sauce, sesame seed oil, ginger, and fresh cracked pepper. It’s also good to bring tuna out of the fridge an hour before to come up to room temp. When ready to cook, you want a hot non stick pan, or well oiled, and then sear 2-3 min a side (no more – it cooks FAST!) – remove from heat, and top with a bit of fresh squeezed lemon & toasted sesame seeds. Simple. 6 min or less.

searing the tuna

For the stir fry veg: wash and halve baby bok choy and mushrooms. heat a dry pan, and toast sesame seeds, after removing seeds, heat Olive Oil, and add grated garlic and ginger for about 1 min, add mushrooms for ~2 min, then baby bok choy for ~3 min. (did you add those minutes? 6.. just like the tuna – a perfect pairing) Remove from heat, toss with a couple tsps of soy sauce and fresh lemon juice, top with toasted sesame seeds and green onions (I harvested green onion from my garden yesterday!) And voila! a wonderful tasty fresh meal in less than 10 min with very little prep.

As we look ahead to Spring, I ordered my Summer garden on line, and can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt for some gardening therapy. I ordered more flowers, a WHOLE lot more lettuce so i can plant in stages (didn’t order nearly enough last year) and have saved seed from beans, and already planted the kale, onion and garlic. I look forward to sharing with you their growth in the months ahead.

Buying from Ontario Seed Company in Waterloo (a little over 1 hr away) was the closest to shopping local i got, but the seedlings I buy later (tomatoes, peppers) will be local.

How’s your winter? What are your Spring plans? Hope you are thriving through this lockdown, staying safe, healthy and productive.

Blessings.. and warmest regards..

Amy

Consider the Sparrow

Have you ever seen birds fight over food in the feeders? I have 4 birdfeeders up outside my dining room window, which is now my study space. The birds distract me regularly. Sometimes I swear they had personalities. There definitely seems to be a hierarchy among the species and I’m learning the differences between how they act.

For instance, Cardinals always seem to feed in pairs. Not usually on the feeder together; but generally the male is very close by keeping watch while his bride feeds or visa versa. If he’s not right there… just look closely around.. you’ll invariably find him. They stick close together. It’s quite beautiful to watch their loving care of one another.

They like to feed at dawn and dusk when the others are still in bed or already hunkered down for the night. Different kinds of finches (gold, house and purple) and pine siskins will eat together, but bicker the entire time. White breasted nuthatches come to the suet when all others are gone.. they like to feed alone. Sparrows feed in hoards. I call these “feeding frenzies”. Sometimes we’ll have 8 sparrows on a single square of suet. The chickadees and red breasted nuthatches are the most friendly, curious and least nervous of human interaction. Bluejays are gorgeous, but raucous, scaring everyone else away on their circuitous route to the feeder. Mourning Doves are actually the worst bullies to all others at the feeders. One thing they all have in common, just like us humans? They all quarrel, they fight (even the cardinals) – for what they think is theirs alone.

You’d think they’d sing to each other.. “there’s food for all! come! Come! I found food, let’s share!!” But no, they take what they like, peck others away, and discard the food they don’t like to the ground. Horrible stewards. we could learn from their poor example.

1 Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 

2 Corinthians 13:11 says, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

I was chatting with someone the other day who made me laugh out loud when we were chatting about our birds. She actually disciplines her birds. I don’t think she’s going to teach them anything, but if they get too quarrelsome, she takes the food away. “If you’re going to fight over it, you can’t have any!” she says to them. 🙂 🙂

This morning I was reading in my devotional (Knowing God’s Heart by First 15) and read the following:

God’s heart is for unity. His heart is that we would embrace one another, seek to comfort and restore one another, and thereby encounter his love and peace. Unity isn’t an option in Scripture; it’s a command. It’s not an option to allow strife and slander. It’s not an option to leave broken relationships unmended. Seek restoration today. Allow God to fill you with the courage to show love and unmerited grace to fellow believers. And as you grow in unity with others you will experience a deeper understanding of God’s unconditional love and affection for you. May today be marked by a powerful revelation of God’s heart through others.

Again, as it’s worth repeating….. 2 Cor 13:11 says, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

In my studies in Biblical Care and Counseling, the topic of Unity keeps coming up daily in my readings. Jesus prayed in John 17 for our unity. Each time we take communion in church, we’re to examine our hearts and see if there’s broken relationships we need to mend first before taking part. We’re not supposed to ever give up on each other or stop forgiving one another, serving one another, loving one another. The commands are there continually throughout scripture. Yet .. we do. We come up with selfish reasons why not to forgive, or work at restoration. To walk away.

If we are constantly quarreling, don’t love or forgive, John Stott in his book Basic Christianity says “Conflicts could be resolved if both sides first examined themselves critically and then examined the other side charitably, instead of which we are always charitable to ourselves and critical of others. We exaggerate our own virtue and the other man’s vice. If only the spirit of self-assertion could be replaced by the spirit of self-sacrifice, our conflicts would cease. And self-sacrifice IS what the Bible means by “love”. While sin is possessive, love is expansive.” Wow.. i was kicked in the butt by that!

So while we consider the sparrow, the nuthatch, cardinal or jay… and know they don’t worry about tomorrow, let’s also not be like them, and stop quarreling, let’s serve, love, protect and work with one another, as John 13:35 says.. so they will know we are His disciples by our love.

Avoidance or Preparation?

I threw back the duvet, and rose from my cosy bed just before 630 am, intending to get in a full day of reading & writing. Almost 3.5 hours later, I just sat down.. cracked open my books, (laptop, ipad and notebook)

and decided to blog instead. … Am I avoiding? Or is this part of the process. 🙂

What have I been doing the last 3.5 hours? Well I decided I needed a clear head to study today, so first things first! A quick shower to wake myself up. Then, seeing how lovely it was outside, I plugged in my earbuds, and went for a 1/2 hr walk

– “gotta get the blood flowing so i can study well!”.. While I walked, I listened to a prescribed podcast (from Truth in Love re: Four ways to grow in biblical counselling) Chatted with the neighbour briefly – then prepared a good breakfast to eat outside, enjoying the morning sun, while doing my morning devotions.

eggwhite omelette with fruit & veg

I began a new 7 day devotional today.. “Tilling the Soil of your Heart” . If you have Youversion App on your iphone or Ipad.. I personally recommend that you listen along WHILE you’re reading.. it will slow down your reading, and help you to digest.

Well, then hearing about the Sower and His fields… i just had to tend to my garden and water, do a bit of weeding. Then clean up breakfast, the bathrooms, prep the boxes for tomorrow’s food drive pick up… make tea, put my Study Blend in the diffuser.. and so on… cause i can’t have mess and other things to do on my mind to distract me, yanno? 🙂

So am I avoiding Study? Or skillfully preparing.. by starting my day off right… preparing my heart and mind to receive what I’ll be reading today?

Thoughts I was left with during morning devotions were…

“What parts of my heart are hard to God?

Where am I unreceptive to His goodness?

Where do I need to say “Yes”?

I want to live RECEPTIVELY & SURRENDERED. Hearing His voice, and allowing the seed of His word to grow Fruit in me.

One of my main assignments in this first course is to write a one page journal (limiting to ONE page, double spaced will be DIFFICULT for me, I’m far to verbose..) each week about how one of the Fruits of the Spirit is growing in me. That’s an interesting task I have yet to wrap my heart & brain around.

I’m beginning to understand that a large part of this course will be about God counselling ME through His word.. sowing His seeds of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control in MY life.. so that I can bear fruit and then be a Conduit of His LOVE to others counselling them.

And I’m beginning to also understand how important these last 4 hours were in that process, as I prepared my heart.. tilling the soil.

Finding Peace

I’m going through a daily devotional on Youversion Bible App called “Finding Peace” by Charles Stanley. He wrote this gem that I read today.. I’m just going to put this up here… I have nothing more to add… may it bring you Peace.

You may say, “I can’t help feeling anxious, I’ve always been a worrier.” I’ve heard that from many people through the years. My response is, “Yes you can.”

There’s nothing about a circumstance that automatically creates anxiety. Anxiety occurs because of the way we respond to a problem or troubling situation. Your ability to choose is part of God’s gift of free will to every human being. You can choose how you feel. You can choose what you think about, and you can choose how you will respond to a circumstance. It certainly isn’t God’s purpose for you to feel anxious—He doesn’t allow situations in your life so you’ll have anxiety. The Father may allow a situation in your life to develop stronger faith, grow and mature, or change a bad habit or negative attitude. But God doesn’t set you up for anxiety. He’s always at work to bring you to a place where you’ll trust Him more, obey Him more fully, and receive more of His blessings.

So i did a thing…

As an introduction..

I work for a family run home construction company. My dad started this business in 1964, retired in 1990, and my cousin who worked for dad as his right hand man took over the business. I joined him in 2006 as his “right hand” in the office, doing payroll, bookkeeping, ordering, scheduling, all other admin… chief bottle washer. 🙂

I’ve been talking about ‘retirement’ for a couple years now.. with the hopes that I could when i turned 50. That milestone came and went last January. Then Covid hit, and several things happened in a row, that made me realize.. the time was now. One of those things was that my heart just wasn’t in it any longer, and I was craving.. something more.

I had lunch with a dear friend mid summer, shared my heart with her, and she asked me a question that over the last 20-25 years I’ve been asked several times. This time the question played over and over and over in my mind. I wondered if now was the time to answer the question?

It was this… “have you ever thought of becoming a Counsellor?” The last time I thought semi-seriously about this was about 20 yrs ago when I sat down with another friend who was a certified counsellor and social worker, and asked her how she went about certifying, the process. At the time, the thought of several years in College/University and the cost was something I just couldn’t entertain. I was single, in debt up to my ears, and had no way of supporting myself through the process.

But the last few years, the question has been coming up more regularly.. and this time from someone i minister alongside, and trust her to know my gifting. And this time i didn’t ‘fluff it off’.

I allowed myself chew on it. To reflect and pray. Fast forward a few weeks, and in the middle of the chaos of moving my mom and selling her house, I looked into requirements, and found a few options that allowed me to be certified in Biblical counselling, and to apply as a mature student. So I made an application to a Seminary about 45 min from home, and was in the waiting process to see if I’m accepted. I needed 3 references.. so my friend that asked me the burning question.. she was top of my list. Then my Pastor, and an elder at my church. The funny thing is… I’m dying to know what they wrote on the reference. I haven’t seen them. Maybe I need a little too much affirmation? 🙂

In the meantime, a few days after I applied, I stepped out in faith.. and met with my cousins and told them the news… and gave them a tentative ‘end date’ for my career with our family’s company. It was a nerve wracking conversation.

And then I told my family. Who were and are amazingly supportive & encouraging.

And I waited, and started reading and studying in Faith. Today I put in 6 hours- going cross eyed, and wondering if I could really do this – but then this verse came to me again- 2nd time in the last week. I prayed through it again this morning before I started my study time – knowing it was next week that this course begins- and wondering if it was the right time- or what God has in store…

Photo of storm clouds yesterday that threatened my plans yesterday – but I prayed for a time of blessing with family- and we received abundantly!

Then in my devotions I’m trying to do pre-study time, this verse came up- it was amazing how my devotional time today was all about trust, and faith in waiting.

Photo taken this summer at Varty Lake- family owned property.

I read and read and wrote copious notes of references and new thoughts and ideas- as my paradigms shifted and cracked.. and my eyes glazed over. after 6 hours- I closed my laptop and books and drove over to visit my mom to chat and bring her a few things. After driving her to my sisters for dinner and going home to prep dinner for Guillermo and I (turkey leg soup from scratch and corn bread) I sat down on the couch to watch Netflix and put my feet up while folding laundry – and heard my phone ding –

Woahhhh. What?? 😁😁😁

So … there you have it. I may not have much time for blogging in the nearish future, as my first course starts next week!! If you are a pray-er .. you can add me to your list- for mental clarity and time management. please and thank you!

Woah. After 32 years… I’m going back to school…. 😳😳

Ba de yah, Say do you Remember?

We’ve made it to September. (thank you Earth, Wind and Fire for those memorable lyrics… ba de yah… ) I don’t remember a longer hotter summer. I’m sure there’s some record books on it somewhere.

it was 17 C (my personal favourite temperature) on the deck this morning with a slight breeze, and clear blue skies.. the unrelenting humidity seems to be gone (for now!) Bird bangers and garbage truck air brakes are the only sounds interrupting the crickets, cicadas and happy morning birds this early Friday morning. A red throated hummingbird just stopped by the Scarlet Runners for a morning drink of nectar, the sun gleaming off his iridescent green feathers. So I broke my rule and made a second cup of strong black coffee.. because mornings like these are meant to be savoured.

Early morning Sun peaking through

breakfast nook

It’s been a long haul the last few weeks. Lots of hard emotions. If you’ve ever helped an aging parent move from their home to assisted living.. you likely know the soul tearing feelings well. Mom we love you, you made it through.. and you are shining bright, showing yet again that you are a true survivor. And this daughter is tickled that you’re back to your mischievous self.

Move in day, Aug 18 with my sisters
Mom holding a newly emerged cicada – threatening to unleash it on an unsuspecting person.

The crazy contract that Guillermo is working through right now is really wearing us down. I see significant changes in him. Those further away see the surface stuff.. how he looks drawn, tired, his posture shows the weight of the job and the weariness in his bones. I see the stuff inside – and how his personality has changed, and how sleepless his nights are. We keep eachother awake both trying so hard to sleep and lie still so the other can get rest, our stomachs in knots. We keep hoping to catch a glimpse of the end, but it keeps stretching just out of reach. At the same time, so thankful for the Divine provision.

He lamented last night quietly (not for the first time) while he picked beans in the dark “I’ve lost my summer, haven’t i?” His hope was always to retire (for real!) in the month April, and enjoy a long staycation at home in our backyard through Spring and Summer before venturing further beyond. thanks to Covid – he had April & May off this year, and worked hard in our backyard to make it beautiful for the summer.. those 2 precious months gave us a real taste of what retired life could be like. Then in June he started this contract of 4 x 10hr shifts a week, with 3 days off .. which stretched fairly soon afterwards to 6 x 11hr days. When he started in June he was getting up with the Sun, and now he doesn’t arrive at work til just before it dawns over the Eastern point of Lake Erie. So many of his compatriots retired from the steel industry at age 50 with full pensions.. and while “retirement age” in Canada is still typically 65 when we qualify for full CPP (Canadian Pension Plan) , and he’s just under 1.5 yrs from that, the last 15 years are hard when you’ve seen so many do it successfully early.

My tired Yum

I’m sorry Honey.. maybe next summer?

We had a surprise reprieve from the punishing pace this last weekend. A young couple from our church planned a small Covid wedding, and needed a venue for their reception. We offered our deck, and Guillermo was able to take the Friday off work to help me set up. Rain was in the forecast, so we purchased a new 20×30 white tarp to cover the pergola and the South side where the wind/rain was predicted to come from. He installed it with a large exercise ball as a rounded peak to help the rain water run off. (brilliant!)

I set the table with pretty dishes, the groom dropped off a centre piece he arranged with floating candles and curly twigs, and we festooned the area with lots of celebratory & congratulatory balloons. This was all a surprise to the Bride who was thrilled. We so enjoyed our evening serving the guests. While they left earlyish for a wedding reception, it was still well after our regular bedtime for a work night (Bill works on Saturdays now, and the reception was Friday night). He did plan on ‘sleeping in’ and going in to work later this particular Saturday.

7:15 am on Saturday morning, 3 hours after his usual wake up alarm, he was just showered, dressed and was readying his breakfast, when a phone call from the steel plant rang in, letting him know that the Day Shift was cancelled… he miraculously had the day off. This has never happened before. Somehow, he was gifted 3 days in a row off work. And we SAVOURED it. We actually puttered and worked around the house most of Saturday, had guests for home church & lunch on Sunday.. but we just stayed home.. enjoyed each other’s company..and wordlessly hugged – a lot.

Next week Wednesday marks our 15th wedding anniversary, he’ll be working his long day, followed by a Zoom meeting in the short evening afterwards. A few days later is my sister’s 65th birthday. Both are calendar events we’ll be celebrating later. I remind myself.. people have missed many a milestone- birthdays, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, cancelled major events, graduations, and vacations these last 6 months.. we’re no different. And to be perfectly honest, I’m not even sad about it. I want to celebrate when we’re both relaxed, refreshed, and have the time to remember.

So we move on.. we keep on living, doing, being, breathing, hoping, praying.. one step at a time. And we count our many many blessings.. the small ones like a beautiful September morning, or the big ones, like the huge gift of selling mom’s beautiful Condo privately in ONE day to the first person we showed it to, for full asking price, with no conditions. Yay GOD!!! (sold to another beautiful Christian lady who just lost her husband late last year and needs to downsize – which is what mom did 19 yrs ago after our dad passed away)

Back in February, when we began the slow process of purging at moms home, I found braids that mom cut off my 5 year old head, 45 years ago..

I’ve been waiting through the stages of Covid to be able to donate them, and was finally able to do that today. When I brought them to Wigs for Kids, they seemed very pleased. From my understanding, they only once received hair older than mine, 60 yrs old! Since my hair had been braided before cutting, it will be easy for them to use – no tangles to deal with. Mom also had 2 sets of braids from one of my other sisters; we mailed those to her direct in Vancouver, and she plans to donate hers as well. I saw photos on Wigs for Kids of young children being blessed with wigs and am so thankful that mom preserved our hair so lovingly.

It’s funny .. (not in a haha way..) how we often thing “giving” is mainly about money.. then we consider it about giving our time. But there are so many other ways/things we can give that can make a big difference in someone else’s life. Like 45 year old hair. 🙂

2 weeks after Mom’s move, we are now preparing to “dispense” of her furniture kitchen appliances, and some other small items. My sisters and I were taking a wee break after the move to start this next step.. when I received a call out of the blue from a local mission looking for some items for a young couple in need expecting their first baby. We didn’t even photograph, catalogue or prepare anything yet. Someone from the mission came to the house, and was able to take an old kitchen table set/dishes/cutlery/pots & pans. Many of these items 30-50 yrs old or older – but still in really excellent condition, as my mom is truly one of the best examples of a “wise steward” that I know.

A couple of days later, we heard of someone who needed a fridge badly, and this morning, a call requesting her sofa bed for a young man moving away from home to go work up in Northern Ontario in a street mission. We haven’t made calls or plans, or set up ads.. and are just waiting now to see what the next phone call may be, and who God brings to mom’s door with a need for exactly what we have to give..

We want to truly recognize that Everything in Heaven & on Earth is God’s.. (2 Chron 29:11). and we are His stewards.. whether that be money, time, gifts, our talents, the hairs on our head, or 30 yr old furniture we’ve so enjoyed – and wait patiently for Him to provide the next steward. He is faithful… all the time. 🙂

I leave you with a few more fun Bean photos… as they are growing over the pergola.. providing us with food, beauty, shade and shelter.