Sunday, January 25, 2015

Looking Back - Looking Ahead

I've been thinking back over these last few weeks.  Have I been focusing better?  What have I been focusing on?  I will answer those questions, but for me, right now I'm happy that the word has not left me.  It's still been part of my days.  Not every day, to be sure.  But the word has continued to swirl through my thoughts.  Swirling as I seek to figure out just what it means for me to focus and what I should be focusing on.

Have I been focusing better?  Sometimes.  Sometimes not.  I still find myself trying to multi-task at night.  And failing quite miserably.  I think I just need to turn off the iPad or the computer rather than having them sitting ready - where they are easy to hop onto for just a minute.  But I have managed to finish some projects.  Well, maybe not totally finish, but make progress at least.  Focus has to be flexible, though.  My plan for today had been to do lots of sewing/quilting work.  But then I had an invitation to join family for dinner.  I chose to put the family time in the foreground and focus on that, keeping the sewing in the background for later.  And I'm glad I did.  Part of my plan/hope for the day was also to spend some time outside.  In keeping with the need to focus on enjoying the moment and getting some exercise.  I decided to walk to the family event as a way to maintain that focus.  

One of the ways I want to work on my focus is to work on reading some more "serious" types of books.  I really prefer to read novels.  And I think that is okay!  But I can learn from other books as well as from novels.  Here is a quote from the book I am currently reading.  A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman.  

"I don't believe there is one great thing I was made to do in this world.  I believe there is one great God I was made to glorify.  And there will be many ways, even a million little ways, I will declare His glory with my life."  (p.40)  While I can't focus on a million little ways, I can focus on working on glorifying Him with my life.  I may not always succeed.  But I can always try.

And one last quote that can help me with where to focus.  This one is from The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate.  "So often it is our narrow focus that limits us.  When we look only at our own plans, we miss the infinite possibilities of a greater plan."  (p.410)  (This is from a novel, just to remind me that reading novels is not a bad thing.  Not that I really need reminding.)

Sunday, January 4, 2015


So, it's another new year.  2015.  I'm not one to get into lots of hoopla over a new year.  And yet, thoughts have been swirling around my head this last week.  I've had lots of quiet down time this last 2 weeks, doing the things that I love.  Sewing/Quilting.  Reading.  Watching a few movies.  Spending time with friends (including time with a good friend from high school!).  Spending time with family (not always quiet as some members of my family are not always so quiet - but it was good).  And the thoughts about a new year have been percolating.

I have, in the past, chosen a word for the year.  As I looked back on my blog I saw that I didn't do so last year.  Not sure why not.  But no matter.  Without consciously thinking about it, the word for 2015 has floated in and through my mind.  Lodging itself quite securely I think.  And maybe, just maybe, it will stay there for longer than January.  Which would be a good thing.  Especially given the word that has come to me.  FOCUS.  FOCUS in 2015.

What does that mean for me?  Currently I have a few concepts of what it can mean.  And these go beyond the dictionary definition of focus.

  1. 1.
    the center of interest or activity.
    "this generation has made the environment a focus of attention"
    synonyms:centerfocal point, central point, center of attentionhubpivot,nucleusheartcorecornerstonelinchpincynosure
    "schools are a focus of community life"
  2. 2.
    the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.
    "his face is rather out of focus"
    synonyms:focal point, point of convergence More
  1. 1.
    (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.
    "try to focus on a stationary object"
  2. 2.
    pay particular attention to.
    "the study will focus on a number of areas in Wales"

I think focus as a verb is, right now, the point for me to begin with.  Becoming able to see clearly and paying particular attention to.  But even that has so many interpretations.  

I've been thinking about focus in terms of photography.  It is possible to focus on what is in the foreground and blur the background.  Which means deliberately choosing what you want to focus on.  It's possible to go in close and focus on the small details.  Which I love to do.  And it is important to see the beauty and majesty of God in the small details.  And to see His hand at work in these.  But I don't think it is great to only look at the small details.  Sometimes I have to step back and see the big picture, see the grandeur of the place.  To see where the pieces fit in the whole.  So, really focus in photography is choosing what to see and how to look.  I guess that fits with life, too.  Choosing what to see and how to interpret it.  Seeing the gifts of God in different circumstances.  That can be tough at times.  And maybe we need to use different filters to help us see more clearly.

The idea of focus when driving has also been on my mind.  The driver must have the focus on what lies ahead, but also needs to be aware of what lies behind and to the sides.  I can't just look to the future.  I must also use what I've experienced in the past and and the experiences that impact the future.  A broader focus than simply the future.

Here's to a year of learning what it means to focus more intentionally. And of seeing what I can learn about God and about myself.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Holy Ground

It's been awhile.  A long while.  Rather than offer excuses I'll just dive right in.

I read a thought-provoking statement in a book I am currently reading.  Lizaette's List by Susan Vreeland.

"No matter where life takes you, the place where you stand at any moment is holy ground."  (p. 49)

Holy ground.  Wherever I am.  At any point in time.  This really gives me a bit of a jolt.  It makes me think about my use of time.  And about my perception of my life.  And about enjoying even the more mundane parts of my life and seeing these moments as gifts.  As ways to see God as I walk the holy ground He sets before me.

As part of my desire to see my moments as holy ground, my list of gifts continues.  From where I left off last year.

1868 - an early morning walk yesterday - enjoying the sunshine and the fall colours
1869 - quilting time with a friend
1870 - the delight of playing with colour and fabric
1871 - the burst of energy I felt on Friday night!  At the end of a work week!
1872 - the warmth of sunshine
1873 - time to read
1874 - being able to visit someone in the hospital
1875 - and praying together
1876 - an afternoon walk today
1877 - enjoying more delight-full fall colours
1878 - and sunshine
1879 - sitting on my front step and enjoying a book
1880 - playing Scrabble with a friend
1881 - drying laundry outside
1882 - sitting around a fire with friends
1883 - good conversation
1884 - attending church
1885 - singing praise together
1886 - a simple dinner that was healthy and delicious
1887 - finding a few sweet peas that survived our unseasonably early snow storm this fall

(numbers adjusted to include previous post with Yellowstone pictures)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Looking back to summer

I wrote my annual Christmas letter this week.  As I did so, I looked back over 2013, looking back over the highlights.  One of those highlights was my trip to Yellowstone in July.  Rather than waxing poetic about how wonderful it was, here come some of the pictures.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


My mind is filled with images.  Haunting images.  Of devastation.  And of community.

I spent today in High River, helping with flood clean-up.  I wanted to bring my camera.  But I couldn't bring myself to do so.  It just didn't feel right to be taking pictures of the devastation people are suffering.  But the images are seared into my brain.  

- a child's bicycle sitting by the front step of a building that cannot be inhabited right now

- a skate hanging over the edge of a dumpster

- the individuals who came and asked if we were volunteers - who then asked us for their help

- the plastic lid of a rubbermaid tub - labeled photo albums

- a picture frame laying face down on the lawn, with an inscription of love on the back

- the long line of traffic waiting to get into High River, people streaming in to help

- the father and three children who came pulling a wagon and offering snacks and drinks, and the sheer generosity of heart the children (and the father) showed

- the gratitude of the homeowner when he came home to find that his friend had indeed managed to get people to help clean his basement out

- the immense piles of garbage (translation - personal possessions and building materials) piled EVERYWHERE

- a railroad bridge that wasn't a bridge, but just a rail line with nothing supporting it as it crossed the river

- a boat straddling the rail lines

- the twisted rail lines

- the neighbourhood that is still under an incredible amount of water

- the look on my friend's face when I appeared in her friend's basement to help clean it out  (As an aside, I had hoped to see her, but I didn't want to ask to help her.  That's the place where we were sent by the church!  Totally a God-thing.)

- groups of volunteers everywhere

- the total silence in the vehicle all the way back home

- muddy muddy people

- seeing young men I had taught years ago - giving and giving and giving to their community

- camaraderie among strangers who are working for a common cause

- the iridescence of CDs shimmering amidst the brown and gray piles of drywall and insulation pulled from a basement

- a piano sitting on the curb 

- bleachers from a baseball field sitting on a fence

- signs of hope - deep pink peony blossoms ready to open and shining out amidst the pile of rubble being removed through a basement window right beside the bush

So - I'm haunted.  Forever changed.  And feeling blessed.  And, truth be told, a little sore.  But mostly feeling incredibly blessed.

P.S.  The theme of our school year this past year was community building.  There are LOTS of opportunities to put that into action in my home.  And I have been incredibly inspired by the creativity and generosity of people.  I am so proud to call this city my home.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Very Special Card

It was Mother's Day almost two weeks ago.  I am not a mother.  But I am an aunt.  I spent Mother's Day at my parents' house.  Two of my sisters were also there that weekend.  They are not mothers either.  We are very blessed to have seven nephews and nieces in our lives.  One of them found a lovely card and it was delivered to us.  We felt incredibly loved!

I haven't sat down and added more to my "official" list of gifts.  But here are 8 more to add:

- the love of family
- seven absolutely wonderful nephews and nieces!

Quilt Festival - Aunts and Nieces

Last summer I had the wonderful pleasure of helping my niece make a baby quilt for her fiancĂ©'s niece.  It was so much fun going shopping for fabric and working through the process with her.  Looking back on it, the experience was even richer in tradition for us.  The first quilt I ever made was with my aunt.  I was 17 and she helped me make a quilt for my bed, a tied quilt that I still have today!  So my aunt helped me (her niece).  And I helped my niece make a quilt for her (almost) niece.  Spending time together working towards a common goal certainly strengthens relationships.  I am so incredibly thankful for family.

Quilt dimensions - approximately 45" x 60"
backing - lovely soft minkee-like fabric with the lovely dots found in strips on the front
quilted by me

My niece and I have picked out material for her wedding gift quilt.  I am looking forward to the process of making the quilt for the two of them.

Go and check out more quilts at the quilt festival.  Amy's Creative Side - Blogger's Quilt Festival