Monday, December 31, 2012

Catching up

Catching up on some gifts.

And enjoying the chance to relive the special times in the past month.

1465) thought-provoking Christmas program at church - the meaning of Christ's gift for us as restoration from exile
1466) feeling of peace as I went about my day
1467) an iron that shuts off automatically (especially when I forget to turn it off!)
1468) encouraging parent-teacher conferences
1469) yummy mini-brownies
1470) the quiet hum of a classroom of students occupied by games they have created
1471) kind notes and gifts from students and their parents
1472) the delight of anticipation as I worked on cards to give students - cards with photos of their own artwork
1473) celebrating a birthday with a friend
1474) lunch with a friend
1475) relatives from far away arriving for a visit here - and a white Christmas
1476) safe travels on somewhat dicey roads
1477) a car I feel safe driving
1478) time to spend with family
1479) a peace-filled last day of school - with students enjoying each other
1480) students breaking into applause at the end of our Advent story - Bartholomew's Passage - and the climax of the birth of Christ
1481) the gift of words - in students' retelling of the delight of the Christmas story
1482) the gift of holidays - time off, time to refresh
1483) enjoying an afternoon with an aunt and uncle - working on a crossword puzzle, a mammoth crossword puzzle
1484) AND the gift of the Internet to find answers we had NO idea about
1485) time around the kitchen table reading teh paper together
1486) time around the kitchen table playing cards together
1487) time around the kitchen table playing word games together
1488) the ability to laugh at ourselves - together
1489) watching my Grandma play a game on Christmas Day

1490) family working together with ease and efficiency as we prepared for meals and cleaned up after dinner for 28
1491) the delight my cousin took in the quilt I made for her and for her husband for their wedding

1492) his delight too!
1493) being able to help lighten things, even a little, for my mom
1494) a niece's engagement
1495) the annual family book exchange
1496) opportunity to delight my uncle's wife by giving away my book from the exchange (since I'd read it already)
1497) opportunity to delight my cousin by giving her the "extra" book I bought for the exchange
1498) the positive reception for my contribution to the exchange - The Book of Useless Information
1499) watching my nephews playfully walk together

1500) my cousin's wedding and her joy!
1501) his too!
1502) the beautiful way they recognized and included her mom who had recently died.
1503) out to the movies with 15 family members!
1504) home for a different movie with many of the same family members
1505) working on a jigsaw puzzle with my sister-in-law and my niece's fiancé
1506) delighting my niece by finishing the baby quilt we sewed together in August

1507) catching up with family and friends via Christmas cards and letters
1508) enjoying being with siblings at dinner during Alena and Chris' wedding
1509) when all the nieces and nephews joined us around our table when theirs had to clear off the dance floor
1510) that they wanted to join us!
1511) sleeping "later"
1512) my dad making oatmeal for breakfast
1513) and fishing out the raisins for me
1514) the very generous Christmas gift from my Grandma
1515) the very generous Christmas gift from my parents
1516) the very generous Christmas gift from my nephews - making lasagne for all of us
1517) people telling me when I've dropped a glove
1518) hugs
1519) Toblerone chocolate
1520) the pleasant company of my cousin and her friend Alison on the return journey home
1521) the unique coour int he winter afternoon sky
1522) the bit of a rainbow in the winter afternoon sky
1523) good decision to stop in a less busy location
1524) dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and niece's fiancé
1525) waming up under a fleece blanket
1526) working on a tedious task with family to make the time go by - and almost erase the tedium
1527) a friend trusting me with deep thoughts and stories
1528) praying for words to use in response to these stories - and being given the right words
1529) clean sheets!
1530) sunlight sparkling on the snow
1531) candied giner
1532) food in the freezer so I can feed company
1533) having company
1534) specifically - Maria,
1535) Arlen,
1536) and Elaine
1537) sunshine and blue skies
1538) school Christmas program
1539) phone calls from friends
1540) quiet mornings
1541) breakfast with my niece and her fiance which gives
1542) a time to connect and build relationships
1543) the feeling of satisfaction when dropping completed Christmas cards into the mailbox

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winter Wonderland

Words fail me.


Thank you, God, for the beauty of Your winter wonderland.

Gifts number 1445 - 1464

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Meaning of Life

The title of this post sounds pretty philosophical, doesn't it?  It really simply refers to a movie I just watched.  Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life.  Silly me, I thought it was just going to be a light and fluffy movie to wile away a Saturday evening.  Yes, it had it's light moments.  But it also had some pretty thought-provoking and insightful comments.  So much so that I went on the Internet and googled quotes from the movie, discovering that they are originally quotes from the book by Wendy Mass.  Now I have a new author to investigate.  This is a movie I could watch again.  

"I made sure to pay attention to everything I was doing. To be fully in the moment. Because that's all life is, really, a string of moments that you knot together and carry with you. Hopefully most of those moments are wonderful, but of course they won't all be. The trick is to recognize an important one when it happens. Even if you share the moment with someone else, it is still yours. Your string is different from anyone else's. It is something no one can ever take away from you. It will protect you and guide you, because it IS you. What you hold here, in your hand, in this box, this is my string.

Until recently, I thought it was death that gave meaning to life--that having an endpoint is what spurred us on to embrace life while we had it. But I was wrong. It isn't death that gives meaning to life. Life gives meaning to life. The answer to the meaning of life is hidden right there inside the question.

What matters is holding tight to that string, and not letting anyone tell us our goals aren't big enough or our interests are silly. But the voices of others aren't the only ones we need to worry about. We tend to be our own worst critics. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: 'Most of the shadows in this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.' ... Wisdom is found in the least expected places. Always keep your eyes open. Don't block your own sunshine. Be filled with wonder.”

Lots of nuggets here.  

Life gives meaning to life.  Pay attention.  Recognize an important moment when it happens.  

Here are some of the important moments that have happened to me.

1414) parent volunteers in the classroom
1415) the compassion children show for each other
1416) the passion children have for learning about God
1417) the hard questions children ask
1418) sewing with friends
1419) getting quilts back from the long-arm quilter and seeing them come to life
1420) finishing a quilt for my cousin
1421) hugs from children
1422) the opportunity to pray with a hurting mom
1423) celebrating my dad's 80th birthday
1424) finding the words to honour him
1425) hearing the words and love of other family members as they honour him
1426) seeing how loved and honoured he felt
1427) finishing report cards
1428) a car I trust
1429) watching the moon rise
1430) frost on trees
1431) white on white - trees against a white sky 
1432) eyes to see the beauty around me
1433) the lift to my heart at the wonders around me
1434) finding a missing CD!
1435) feeling "organized" (well - sort of) after some tidying
1436) enjoying a favourite Advent story with children
1437) games night at church
1438) connecting with former students who are now adults
1439) finding something to wear to my cousin's wedding
1440) an idea for a way to gift my students
1441) dinners out with friends
1442) watching bits of "the extravaganza"
1443) creativity of children
1444) the learning assistant in my classroom - her support and wisdom

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Grace is all around us.

“What we fail to realize is that grace is more than our destination, it is the journey itself, manifested in each breath and with each step we take.  Grace surrounds us, whirls about us like the wind, falls on us like rain.  Grace sustains us on our journeys, no matter how perilous they may be and, make no mistake, they are all perilous.  We need not hope for grace, we merely need to open our eyes to its abundance.  Grace is all around us, not just in the hopeful future but in the miracle of now.   Richard Paul Evans in The Road to Grace   p. 232

Grace is all around us.  It is in every step of our journey.  I know this to be true.  And yet I don't always see that grace with every step I take.  The "tasks" of the day can act as blinders.  I am thankful for the moments of time where I am able to stop, to be somewhat still, and open my eyes to the grace that is all around me.  And I need to remind myself to try to do so more often.

Here are some of the signs of grace I've seen around me.

1379) birds eating seeds from one of my trees
1380) finishing stages of a quilt for my sister

1381) blue sky
1382) blankets of snow
1383) sunshine
1384) feeling organized
1385) meeting mini-goals
1386) dinner out with friends
1387) a little bird coming close to me, and resting on a branch while I was out on a walk
1388) finding my scarf!
1389) finishing a bag
1390) being able to bless a young mom with the bag
1391) reconnecting with friends at a baby shower
1392) encouragement and love from my school community
1393) trying out new recipes - curry pumpkin soup and pan-fried quinoa cakes
1394) enjoying the flavours of these foods
1395) wide variety of foods God created for us
1396) a warm home
1397) a safe and trusty vehicle
1398) seeing growth in students
1399 - 1413) the sights of a day in a winter wonderland


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reminder to Be Still

I took advantage of seeing the sun this afternoon - and using that boost to convince myself that going for a walk was a good idea.  Normally that's not so hard, but it's been gray and cloudy here for the last while and we're so not used to that.  We delight in our sunny skies.  So today I chose to delight in the moments of blue.  And it was a true gift.

I headed down to a park that I frequent often when walking on weekends.  I almost had to stop in my tracks, because the first thing I saw reminded me to be still.  Here's what it was.

There was a pool of still water set off from the river flowing by.  I've seen it a multitude of times.  But I never really noticed it this way before.  It's part of the same river.  It's the same water.  Just separated by a few stones that are slightly higher than the rest.  And the still part can reflect clear images.  I'm reminded yet again of my need to step out of the flowing water and into the still portion so that I can reflect.  And while inward reflection on life isn't really my forte, I do want to reflect God to the people in my life.  So I need to take the time to be still.  

This fits with the sermon I heard in church this morning.  I must admit that I had to talk myself into going this morning.  The idea of another peaceful day at home was pretty inviting.  But I went.  And I'm glad I did.  The sermon was on God as our Shepherd, based on Ezekiel 34.  The final challenge involved looking at the verbs for the ways that God shepherds us.  We were to choose one and then think about what our response would be to that verb this week.  The one I chose was God talking to us.  Which means my response should be to listen.  It's hard to listen without being still.  So - I will attempt to take time to step out of the river and into the calm so that I can be still and listen.

Part of being still is to take the time to see the gifts of God in my life.  So my list goes on...

1354) peace-filled weekend
1355) hugs from children
1356) being encouraged regarding giftings from God
1357) movie night with friends
1358) activities that feed my soul, like...
1359) reading
1360) creating/sewing
1361) walking and seeing God in the details in the woods
1362 - 1378) the details in photographic form  (Some of these are similar to previous photos, but I firmly believe that we can be delighted again and again by the beauty around us.  And not only can we be repeatedly delighted, but I believe we should be!)