Monday, December 31, 2012

As 2012 Closes...

As 2012 has less than one hour left, I cannot help but reflect on the last 365 days...while others choose different ways to transition from the old to the new year.

One thing I discovered in 2012...

...the value of community of those who pursue a slower pace of life, who take the time to see, who take time to be present, who create with passion, and who thrive on their personal self-expression...

...finding them through several e-courses from Kim Klassen.  They have encouraged me, inspired me, understood me, and have become dear, kindred spirits.  They have taught me so much...

...and they are priceless to me.  True gifts from God.

And so have the courses been gifts as I begin new ones as last year's classes come to a close.

One is called "One Little Word" with Ali Edwards.

It's about choosing one word to focus on in 2013...with intention.

And my word is...


You will learn more about this in the coming days...

...but tonight I'll say, "goodbye, dear 2012...and the many gifts you brought me...and not without pain..."

and wish all of you a 2013 filled with the very best God has... receive with a thankful heart...

..and take heart that there is joy in our journey through 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Out Early...Out Clickin'

Okay, I'll admit it...while I have this really great job and enjoy the work I do...

I do have certain days...where my gratitude level slips a little...

Like yesterday...oh maaaaaaaaan...a fresh, new snowstorm...on a workday, no less...

My hands were shaking...quivering...where's my camera?  I need a fix!  But I'm at work...

But then there was a gift...

We were let go early to get home safely...which I did...then Edster and I, with camera in hand...went cruisin...

I thought I'd show you some snippets from my fix!

At Home

A delightful yellow home nestled on a farm...still decorated for Christmas...

The Reservoir

Snowing at the reservoir...


An old vintage barn in Randolph Township...

Red Barn

A snow covered country road next to a brilliant red barn...

Frosted Wreath

A seasonal, snowy Christmas wreath with red ribbons blowing with the snow...

Frozen December

A small, remote creek beginning to freeze...

Long White Gloves

And a long, elegant arm of a "woman" in her long white evening gloves. was a surprise.  And though I would have been fine to have stuck it out all day, it was incredible to photograph the first significant snowfall of the season.

And I am grateful!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas and the Gift Unexpected

Merry Christmas!  What a beautiful time of year!  The Christmas season can be such a mix of emotions:  remembering Christmases past with fond memories but also with misty eyes as loved ones have gone to be with longer with us.  Or those who are ill.  And those who are hurting, are alone, or are unloved. 

And yet it is the one time when the world stops, and we have pause to remember the Greatest Gift given...Jesus, our Savior.  And that all overflows into an unbelievable outpouring of gratitude...not for the presents under the tree...but for the basics...the important, friends, love, a roof over our heads, food on the table, freedom to read the Bible in our home without fear...even just being able to read, to see, to hear, to feel, to smell, to touch...the list is endless...we are so blessed!

What Can I Give Him
And I think about how Harry toasted George in It's A Wonderful Life...saying "To the richest man in the world!"

And aren't we all?  But actually, my Christmas was made for me yesterday, by an UNEXPECTED gift!

Edster and I went to spend time with my son, Caleb, who has severe autism and is non-verbal.  We picked him up at his group home, which is about 10 minutes from us.  We always take him out for a while...he loves double cheeseburgers from McDonald's. 

My Champion

Now, Caleb is not known for being still and sitting down for long periods of time.  He's been a pacing pinball since his youngest days.  But yesterday, he took my hand and pulled me into his room.  He laid on his bed putting his comforter over him.  He wanted me to snuggle up to him and lay with him.  I had an hour of precious moments stroking his face and singing in his ear...reminding me of when he was little.

This Kodak moment was an UNEXPECTED gift to me from him for Christmas...or maybe I was his gift, too!

But like Mary, who pondered all these things in her heart at Jesus' birth, I will hold on to this gift forever...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gifts Given ~ Receiving One Unexpected

December is the busiest month in my work at a children's hospital.  Christmas, children, hospital...what a combination...and we go all out to ensure our patients/families (admitted or at home) have a Merry addition to our day-in/day-out routine (although this job has no routine!).

As it has been so busy and hectic, my writing consistency has limped a little...and I appreciate the patience of my readers. (Mea culpa!)

I used my photography as Christmas gifts to my colleagues in pediatric palliative care who labor and sacrifice to make life better for those with chronic/complex medical conditions.

I made two sets of notecards...using 4x6 photos developed by Mpix, photomount cards and envelopes from Cheap Joes, and stationery boxes from U-Line...all internet ordered...easy peasy deluxe!!!!!  (Right up my alley!)

Set One:  Sunflowers - These were from the 100-plus volunteers from stray sunflower seeds from the bird feeders this summer.

 Live Simply
Face the Sunshine
Love and Gratitude

Finding Light

Ordinary Sunday
Set Two:  Cuppas (Inspired from Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers class Day 46.
A Cuppa Peace
 A Cuppa Java

Join Me for a Cuppa
 A Cuppa Summer
 A Cuppa Hope
 A Cuppa Serenity

And the gift I received...unexpected????  I'll share in my next post...(teaser)!

Merry Christmas to all of you...and wishing you a year full of gratitude in 2013!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Heart Whispers

In Day 94 in  Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers e-course, she challenged us to ponder and contemplate what is our heart whispering to us as 2012 comes to a close.  It goes so fast, doesn't it?  Providing a couple of textures, Kim challenged us to create an image based on this challenge.

What is my heart whispering to me?

One word only...Seek...


While "follow your heart" on the surface seems to be good advice, I silent whisper reminded me of a passage in Jeremiah 17:9 about the human heart:
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
not as they pretend to be. (The Message)
When it comes to my hopes and dreams for 2013, God's Word (not my heart) guides me to His priorities:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  Matt. 6:33 (New Living Translation)
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. Lam. 3:25 (HCSB)
You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  Jer. 29:12-13 (HCSB)
Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!  I Chron. 16:11 (ESV)
The truth of the matter is, I have no confidence in my heart, my will, my ambitions...UNLESS...I seek God daily and continually and am confident that my agenda is in line with His agenda for me.

That only can be found if I truly seek His heart...not mine.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Lightening Up for Christmas

When one focuses on gratitude and praise and all of God's wonderful can bet one thing will happen.  You'll get sucker punched...and your joy seems to disappear.  But it hasn' just need to re-adjust your focus...again...and again.

I'm coming to grips at a deeper level that I am more an introvert, than extrovert.  I'm sure I will explore this in future posts.

But for now...I'll show you some things that have been taking up some of my time.  Lighten it up a bit.

I am so grateful for pinterest...

I am a Secret Santa for one of my colleagues in the office...wanna see some of the things I've made?

I took a jar...and turned it into a Snowman soak...see?


And while I have not had time to do much baking, I did make these Christmas fortune cookies for her...see?

The other two things I've made I did not get to photograph...but I'll try to sneak one!!!!! (note to self)
Final gift tomorrow...check in tomorrow night and see what it is...
Hope you're taking a moment or two out this busy season to contemplate all that is important and meaningful to you.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Distraction of Hype

Yesterday was a wonderful day with my daughter and her family at our house...and I took time from the internet and my blog to focus on being present with them and my husband.  So, in the hopes to inspire you, my thought today was to post only three photos...

Ordinary Wonder

...that focus on gratitude...

Living Life as a Gift

...and remind us (especially me) how we should gratefully live our lives...

Thanksgivings, Joy, Blessings

but I must also add a statement my daughter, Lydia, said to me during our time yesterday that should make all of us stop and think,
Isn't it ironic that on the day we are to focus on being thankful for all we have, the hype is about getting the meal over to go out and buy more?
At what point does it become enough?

Happy Thanksgiving to all of we celebrate it with our lives throughout the next year!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Your Faithfulness

I took this still as part of my 365 project...and this sits on a table next to my piano.

Your Faithfulness - 17/365

I had no idea how this would turn into something so meaningful in the next 24 hours...

This morning at church there was a lot of focus on gratitude, thankfulness and God's faithfulness...

There was a special song that was sung...I was captivated...moved to tears...especially this line:
I don't know if these clouds mean rain
If they do, will they pour down blessing or pain?
I don't know what the future holds
But I know I can trust Your faithfulness.

- Brian Doerksen

You see...this is my father's Bible.  He was asking if I could help him find a personal size with the index tabs (his was wearing out).  I said I would look on the internet...and bought this for him as a gift (he wanted to pay me!).  I bought it for him in 2008.

My dad, in April 2009, was unexpectedly diagnosed with terminal brain cancer...had palliative resection and went through rehab.  We were in shock.

By June he was back at church and publicly praised the Lord for His faithfulness and goodness to Him.  When I heard these lines in the song this morning, it made me think of his trust in his Savior, no matter what the future held, He would be faithful!

On October 9, 2009, he met his faithful Savior face to face...

Here is the song, if you'd like to experience it, too...

This blog, while it touches on many things, its main focus comes from a verse about faithfulness:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
  his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
  great is your faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
Yes, He is faithful...and ALL is grace!


A Lesson From an Avalanche

Is it just me...?  Or are mailboxes spewing out more mail-order catalogs than ever before?  It's like an avalanche!

The seduction begins...glossy ads for perfume advertisements, controversy over Black Friday starting on Thanksgiving Thursday for some stores...the ringing Christmas Hershey kisses are back on tv!

And to stop this insanity?

The avalance caused me to stop and think about gifts I had been given in the past, what had been meaningful, and what had seemed forgotten...

My mother faithfully gave me gifts at it much thought.  And yet every year in the decade before she was stolen away by Alzheimer's...I told her what I wanted...something I'd be disappointed if I did not receive one.

Every Christmas there would be a pair of hand embroidered pillowcases that she had done.  The time and effort she had put into these, plus knowing that the work was done by her own hands...hands that someday would no longer be able to do so...made them priceless.

She would ask me..."So, what do you want this year?" and my answer was always "a pair of embroidered pillowcases."  She would laugh (deflecting the compliment) and say, "oh that's nothing."

But it was everything...and I have them and lay my head on them, holding her close as I sleep.

Maybe the best way to stop the Christmas insanity is not to give what we're seduced by multimedia to believe will fulfill our loved ones' every desire...

but instead, give gifts that will have enduring those cherished pillowcases.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Five on Friday - Five Families ... (Okay, there's really seven!)

Monday I was privileged to be part of a "red carpet" premiere of a documentary featuring seven families that have been involved in our pediatric palliative care center.  All of us who work in the center were in the documentary...but it was the families that really made this 60-minute film to educate medical students on pediatric palliative care.

Portraits of Life, Love, and Legacy

Yes...we really did have a red carpet ceremony.

I can't think of anything I'd rather share or be a part of's the trailer of Portraits of Life, Love, and Legacy through Pediatric Palliative Care:

Leaves you speechless...