Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Blue Jay

I've had this slip of paper beside my computer for almost a week now.  All it says is blue jay.  But that's enough to lift my spirits.  Let me explain.

Last Wednesday morning my world was shaken.  At one point that afternoon I noticed a blue jay in the lilac bush outside my living room window.  We have experienced a long and cold winter and there seems to be no sign of spring coming.  (Well, the last two days have given hope for spring.)  Lots of snow.  Weather still colder than normal.  And yet, there he (she?) was.  Sitting on the lilac branches.  A blue jay.  Not an especially common bird around here.  Although I have seen one or two periodically the last couple of summers.  The blue jay sat there for awhile.  And I sat there just watching.  And saying thank you to God for this gift - on a day that wasn't the greatest for me.  The blue jay made me smile and lifted my spirits. 

Thank you, God, for the little gifts you send us daily.  The surprises that lift our hearts and turn us back to you.  Keep my eyes open to see those gifts, my ears open to hear those gifts (like the birds singing yesterday), and my heart open to experience those gifts.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Change in an Instant

I've heard people say that their life changed in an instant - and never really thought about it.  Until now.  My life changed in an instant last week.  And I still feel as if it's all surreal.  Is this really happening?  To me?  Yup, it is.  On Thursday I will have surgery to remove cancerous tissue.  Not only has my life changed, but who I am has changed.  I am a very private person.  Usually.  Still have some of that, but most of the barriers and filters have been dropped.  I thought I would just dissolve into a puddle when difficulties arose.  But, so far, thanks to the strength of God and prayers of SO many people, I haven't.  Oh, I've had my moments of panic and melting down.  But usually only moments. 

This afternoon I read through a book where I've been collecting quotes.  And I found quite a number that are resonating strongly in my life right now.

"We come closest to God at our lowest moments.  It's easiest to hear God when you are stripped of arrogance and pride, when you have nothing to rely on except God.  It's pretty painful to get to that part, but when you do, God's there."   Terry Anderson

"God does protect His people, but not by removing them from the battle!  As long as there's one person out there who hasn't been given a choice, who doesn't know about Jesus, the war goes on, and we have to stay here and fight.  Evil affects us.  We get wounded.  We get killed.  But we don't suffer the ultimate effects of evil.  Our spirit is protected - with God's help.  We get cancer.  We die.  But Christians do not despair."   Athol Dickson in Whom Shall I Fear?

"God's love toward me had never changed.  The bad things in my life weren't evidence that He didn't love me anymore.... It was God's love that allowed me to go through suffering."    Harry Kraus in Serenity

"Truly the light is sweet...there is never a sweeter light than that which shines after the darkness.  Let me never forget Your light, no matter how great the darkness."   Dianne Noble in The Last Storyteller

"Maybe when you're frightened, you can hear God better because you're listening harder."   Marya Doria Russell in Children of God

"Show us the way, Lord, even if You don't show us the why."  Robin Lee Hatcher in The Shepherd's Voice

"The trick is to realize that the shit that falls on you is fertilizer."  Ron Mongravite

"Light of my heart, do not let my darkness speak to me."  Augustine

"People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there a light from within."   Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Out of Sight

My brother has a genetic eye disease called choroideremia.  He has worked to live his life to the fullest potential, doing as much as he can and enjoying the gifts God has given him.  He has also been working to raise money for research into curing/treating this eye disease and is in the final stages of the second large fund-raising dinner - Out of Sight.  At this dinner we eat in a dimly lit room, wearing either eye masks or sunglasses to gain some understanding of what it means to be without vision.  Last year I had my eyes opened (pardon the pun) about some of the difficulties of losing vision.  While it was challenging to eat the dinner when blindfolded, that wasn't the toughest part for me.  No, the hardest part was trying to have conversation around the table.  I didn't realize how much I needed my vision to help me focus on the one who was speaking, to understand the flow of the conversation around the table.  I didn't realize how much I needed to see those speaking in order to filter out the noise of the other tables around me.  I managed to keep my blindfold on to eat, but it came off between each course as I couldn't cope with the frustration of the conversation in the dark.  It gave me the slightest understanding of what Mark goes through on a daily basis as his eyesight deteriorates.

So, this year, when he was talking about the second annual Out of Sight dinner and the addition of a silent auction, I offered to give a quilt to him.  He was genuinely touched and that encouraged me even more.  The dinner is a week from today and I managed to get the quilt done on Thursday afternoon so it could get to him in time to organize things.  Phew!  Sometimes deadlines can be great motivators.

Here are some pictures (with the colours not looking as rich as they are in real life).  Hopefully it does more than give him encouragement.  Hopefully somebody likes it enough and gives some money towards the research.

An added joy to this quilt is that I had all of the fabric (except the backing) in my stash and I got to use a pattern that I had bought quite a while ago.