The other day I was at the gym. I didn’t feel like going. It was my day off, but I knew I had to be there. Thanks to my hubby, our friend John, Lucinda, and so many others for their faithfulness and steady inspiration.
As I was going around the track an acquaintance told me I was walking at a good pace. I thanked her.
Later on I was on the bike, and she came up behind me and said “good for you”.
As I was walking out of the gym I saw a man who I knew, but could not remember his name. I spoke up and introduced myself, and we were able to connect the dots as to where we knew each other from. We had a pleasant conversation.
As I got into my vehicle I couldn’t help but think about how far an encouraging word goes. I sincerely think if that lady had not encouraged me I would not have had the courage to reach out to the familiar fellow who frequents the gym the same time I do.
Moments later I was waiting to pick up lunch and saw a couple of ladies waiting to order. I normally would have waved from where I stood, but instead walked over to them and had a great visit while we all waited for our food together.
The positive impact of encouragement fills us with joy – and that joy bubbles up and over into other’s lives.
This week at work I asked a couple of colleagues if they would start preparing to facilitate a class. Right away their shoulders were straighter, their chins were higher, their smiles much brighter. When we believe in people, build them up and encourage them – they find their wings and soar.
When we don’t take the time to speak kindness and truth, and encourage one another, we leave others living in the shadows, shrinking. They can break free and become who they are supposed to be eventually, but now is the time to share the joy. Why wait to say and encouraging word?
Yesterday coming home from church I was reminded about the annual Hitman Game and the Teddy Bear Toss, http://hitmenhockey.com/teddy-bear-toss. The news announcement brought back a difficult, but heart warming memory. Thank you – to our communities and the Hitmen Hockey Team, for your generosity and kindness during the Christmas Season. It made a difference to our little family, and we will never forget you.
One afternoon around Christmas time in 2007 I had gone down the stairs to our daughter’s bedroom to see why she wasn’t answering my call. We were all getting ready to go out and visit with friends. When I found her in her room she was not able to speak or walk. She was eight years old. I carried her out to our vehicle, and drove her down to the clinic. Her younger siblings were crying and frightened because their big sister didn’t recognize them.
Soon after our arrival at the clinic we were told about her Grand Mal seizure. Her Daddy arrived from work to comfort our children, and I got in the back of an ambulance to ride with her to the Children’s Hospital. After a very long night of nurses coming and going, poking and prodding and shining lights in her eyes, the sun arose. I waited to see if our little girl would open her eyes, if she would talk. I had been cautioned that she may have sustained brain damage.
Our daughter opened her eyes. She didn’t smile like she usually did, but she did look around the room. I told her where she was, but she didn’t seem to react, however she noticed she was sharing her room with another patient, a little boy in the bed next to hers. She shoved off her covers, and slid out of her very tall hospital bed. She walked over to a book shelf and pulled a book out. I then watched her go to the boy’s bed and reach for a chair that was nearby.
The seconds that followed were magical. I watched her turn the pages of the book, and heard her voice begin to read. Tears trickled down my face. I didn’t know what the days ahead would bring, but our little girl had come through a very difficult challenge. She was walking, talking and able to see another child’s needs.
Later that morning while we were resting I tried to stop my mind from worrying. I knew our daughter was in good hands, but the fatigue and the weight of our daughter’s health cast a long shadow on my heart. The word ‘Epilepsy’ had been used in the nurses’s conversations. What did it all mean? Would our daughter ever enjoy a normal life? Would she have another seizure?Just as my head felt like it might explode a group of men in hockey uniforms came into the room. They were all holding Teddy Bears. Our daughter sat up and blinked. The men smiled and three of them offered her a bear. I think it was because they had learned she had a brother and sister back home.
Their visit reminded me that so many people cared. We were not alone and forgotten in our sadness, but cradled in the arms of others, even strangers. The Teddy Bears were a symbol of compassion.
Later that day a neighbour and her son came to visit. They were frequent visitors to the hospital and heard we were there. Her son had had several seizures as a young baby and boy, and was in a wheel chair. Our daughter didn’t say much, she was very tired, but she looked at the little boy then back at her three bears, picked one out, and offered it to her new friend.
It was at Christmas time so long ago, in the Calgary Children’s Hospital, where our daughter was indeed given the diagnosis of ‘Epilepsy’, but it was then she also decided to be a Nurse. She never wavered from that call. Her health condition improved, and four very challenging years later, on September 9th, 2011, she was given a clean bill of health. Today she is married, with two beautiful children, and practices nursing on the Sunshine Coast.
Thank you Calgary Hitmen and all the Teddy Bear donors, for keeping the Annual Teddy Bear Toss tradition alive. We are witness to the difference a Teddy Bear can make in the life of a child.
Years later when another Christmas was fast approaching, my children and I were coming home from a medical appointment in the city. It was somewhere around 5:00 p.m. and the sky was already dark as I drove in a southerly direction back into town. My children could hear me praying out loud as I drove. A very dear neighbour was terminally ill with cancer, and I was begging God for a miracle of healing. The next day I planned to stop in to see her at the hospital, if she wanted visitors.
She had been battling stoically, but privately, and even that summer when I happened to bump into her on the sidewalk with her rainbow toe socks, and Birkenstock sandals, she didn’t want to talk about it.
I dropped the girls off at the house. Our son was away. I then turned around and went back to the office to finish up where I left off. When I got to the shop my husband’s face said it all. She was gone.
With my head buried in my hands, I quietly sobbed behind my desk. With only an hour left until closing, my husband insisted I go home. For some reason I picked up the phone, and called our eldest daughter to give her the devastating news, and to announce I was coming home early. God then prompted my daughter to be an instrument of hope in the moments that followed.
We lived only a few blocks west of the store, but the blocks stretched into miles. I pushed my foot down on the gas pedal, but the van belligerently crawled along. Streetlights lined the road, but not one of them seemed capable of beating back the darkness. The bleak winter night grew blacker than ever before and threatened to swallow me whole. My lungs lamented beneath my ribs. Why had God not answered my prayers?
“Why did you allow her to die?” my spirit screamed into the darkness.
“Her children needed her, her husband needed her, and I needed her!”
My emotions were all over the map. I felt betrayed, and deeply wounded. For one very dark moment I believed God had abandon us all. I cranked the wheel to maneuver up our driveway. There on the peak of an enormous white snowdrift, which had conquered our front step, was one small candle propped in a mason jar, shining defiantly.
God could have healed my friend, he could have made the moon stand still, but instead he chose to reveal himself to me through a tiny yellow flame, and the love of my children. The vast expanse of snow was indeed a vicious cruel reflection of the unfair world we live in, but the candle’s flame profoundly commanded the view, and spoke volumes.
“I hear you, and you are not alone” I heard Christ speak as I stared at the incredible view.
Christ’s presence lit up the sky and surrounded me. I went into the house and embraced my children. Together we walked to the window and silently watched the flame of the candle burn brightly.
Struggling with pneumonia, I laboured to pull out the piano bench quietly. Once seated my right foot found the middle peddle, and pushed it down to the left to lock it in place. This way I could play and not disturb anyone’s sleep. It was the middle of the night. Only the street light’s glow on a fresh fallen blanket of snow lit the keys before me.
Christmas was coming, and I had been too sick to do any shopping or baking. Little did I know that a song would be my gift to those I loved.
“Seasons come and seasons go, and every year the sight of snow, threatens to paralyze my soul. Christmas finds me questioning your gifts of joy and suffering and memories send me off in search of hope.”
My parent’s marriage had its ups and downs. When they divorced Christmas was never the same. I know now that Christmas does not hinge on humanity’s imperfect state.
As I wrote at the piano, their pain and mine, of never being a whole family again, flowed out of my heart and onto the page. Mysteriously, for every sorrow a remedy followed. Each melodic, aching admission turned into a revelation of hope.
“I am weaker than most; you came to a manger. I am broken to the bone; you were pierced for a stranger. The past has left its mark, but Christmas heals the heart with memories of a child who offers hope.”
The next day I printed the song onto fancy paper and fashioned small pillows with pockets, from scraps in my sewing closet. Each pocket was sized to hold a copy of the song.
When Christmas day arrived, our family drove almost two hours north to my sister’s place for dinner. Unfortunately I was still very short of breath, so I attended the festivities in my pajamas. Like Linus from ‘Charlie Brown’, I toted a blanket behind me. Although my ‘song pillow’ gift to everyone was small, I trusted they too would be lifted by the musical revelation of hope God had inspired.
Last night I couldn’t sleep, and decided to watch a “no brainer” kind of movie. Some of the subliminal messages kept rippling in the rain this morning. I got my coat on, and went for a walk in a nearby park. Nothing like a stroll in the fresh autumn air to turn our eyes towards our creator. His light illuminates the beautiful truth.
As I shuffled through the dying leaves my mouth couldn’t help but smile. I felt so glad to be alive. In my moment of gratitude words came out of my mouth, words that brought the dilemma of this dying world, and the promise of life to light.
Some of these words may not be understood without an understanding of scripture. If you have questions about some of the terminology, make sure you ask them. Find someone who owns a Bible and dig in.
This song is a message for those who believe, and yet doubt in God’s power. How many times have I prayed for someone’s relief, and doubted it may happen? This song is a message for those who believe, but have forgotten where they’ve come from. This is a song of conviction, and of hope, and a song to soothe the weary caregiver’s heart (Gal. 6:9).
She comes and goes in different colours. She changes clothes but underneath,
the sound of axes in the forest remind us all about the thief.
Her yesterdays keep on repeating, despite the prayers upon our lips.
But if He’s given us tomorrow, there’s still a hope that she’ll be His.
So bend your knees all God’s children, arm for battle, sound the cry.
And do not weary of your mission until this daughter is His Bride.
We come and go in different colours, we wear your robe but underneath
our accusations of each other bring us so humbly to your feet.
And under grace our hearts keep beating, your ceaseless prayers have called us forth.
And while we’re certain of tomorrow, there are still more who will be yours.
So bend your knees all God’s children, arm for battle, sound the cry.
And do not weary of your mission until this daughter is His Bride.
I want to personally thank Andrea Hawiuk and Friends for the generous and informative conference on Depression and Suicide, The Conversation Has to Happen (2017). Every story shared offered new insight for those suffering, and those suffering along side of. Thank you also for inviting several of the agencies in Olds to participate through a showcase in the Pomeroy Inn and Suites Foyer.
I was moved by Rev. Dr. John Pentland when he humbly introduced a friend to share about the loss of her Son Ty. I was also very inspired by John’s response to “Thirteen Reasons Why“. I want to follow his practice of writing thirteen nuggets of wisdom to encourage our children to embrace life.
I was in agreement with Mike Ryan when he brought our attention to society’s different treatment towards alcohol versus drugs. They both alter our mental state.
Jim Marland and his program Can Praxis is ingenious and so necessary for veterans and first responders.
Terry Coles – thank you for your honesty and humility. Blessed to have heard your story.
One particular topic that was not discussed at great length was how some of our cultural entertainment trends are catalysts for further suffering. Violence, death, and fantasy, all contributing to darker mood swings, and often times an unrealistic view of life.
Thanks to Wayne McCracken and Don Matchullis, very tasteful touch with the musical choices.
These past few days have carried heavy news to my heart, and the hearts of those I love. When I feel helpless to find comfort or bring comfort to others, I know where to hide. I cozy up on my Heavenly Father’s lap and close my eyes and let the tears fall. Psalm 56:8 tells us that God catches our tears in a bottle. He sees them. He feels our sorrow. He hears our prayers. And there in my hiding place I beckon you to climb up on his lap. There is room for you too.
My Paradise and Heaven
Dedicated to Amanda and her family, and to mine, and to ours together, as one day we will enjoy such sweet reunion.
Is He a mere three letter word, this God I put my trust in?
Is this presence that calms my fears, a ghost of my imagination?
Have the prayers I’ve prayed each day and night sailed into some abyss?
Have the tears I’ve cried, and all my sleepless nights gone unnoticed?
Is my reflection of pure peacefulness, a mask or a mirage?
Who then has quenched my thirst and grown my courage?
Who washed away my hopeless state, and turned my eyes upward?
There is a God my heart knows well, I take Him at His word.
Upon the wind, under the sun, the earth expounds His praise.
Shall I not too be wise to share His wonder all my days?
Is He a mere three letter word, this God I put my hope in?
He is my breath, my life and death, my paradise and heaven.