Random thoughts on scrapbooking and life's journey

Welcome to My Fragmented Journey
Friday, April 18 2014 @ 09:55 AM CST

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Timeless Beauty

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Being Formed

I have turned off the TV. There were many reasons to do so. I still watch some popular shows. Later. I wait for the DVD to show up in the library. I learn about new shows from family and friends not from ads.

Advertising was not one of the main reasons for unplugging the TV. Time was and is. I don't miss the ads. Well sometimes I do, when others refer to memorable ads that I have no memory of, or the big budget Super Bowl ads. Most of the time though, I do not miss it. I never miss the unrealistic expectations that are set. "Want fabulous hair, use our product." "Show how much you love her with a...."

The continual barrage of selling wears away at the soul as a river erodes a bank. The message is always you could be better. You could do better. We have just what you need to fix you. Really? Will new clothes fix me? Do I really need a new car to get to work or to drive the kids to school? Until I turned off one source of ads, I didn't really think about them. I tuned many of them out but they still played in the background.

I don't want to find my value in something that needs to be upgraded next year or worse next month. I will never look like the supermodels. I have more curves than Marilyn Monroe. Many are not where I prefer them. But it doesn't matter. My looks are changing and will continue to change. Silver is appearing in my hair. I wasn't made to stay the same. Beauty is fleeting.

I desire joy and peace. Some days I have to search to find them. They don't come naturally. The things of value take work. They are also a gift. The work is obedience. The gift is grace.

Me today

I need to stop comparing myself to everyone around me. I need to listen to the voice of the creator. He made me for a purpose. He has good works planned out for me. If I refuse to pause and listen, I end up randomly throwing darts at the wall. Many miss. Each miss causes feelings of failure. Pausing takes work. Listening takes work and often risk.

I pause to listen because I want the result. I want the lasting attractiveness that comes with a spirit of peace, of patience and of joy. It doesn't fade like those built on the fad of the day. It doesn't fade with age. It is produced over a lifetime as step by step and day by day, I learn to listen.

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In Review: January 2013

The year started as a sprint. Unfortunately, life is more of a marathon. If this pace continues burnout will ensue. Actually the pace has already started to slow. A head cold has me re-evaluating my to do list and priorities. I have not joined my running buddies at the gym since Monday. Stacks of writing sit untyped waiting to be edited. Last year, I started my monthly review inspired by Katie's Roundup. By summer my pace had dropped off and my review's stopped. However, I continue to see value in them. I have regularly fallen off the training plan for my running and I just restart. I am restarting my reviews.

January 2013

The questions I hope to answer each month are:

1. What books and or magazines did I read this month?

For the Artful Reader's Club, I read Around the World in Eighty Days. Other books I read this month include Living_art Pablo Picasso by Hajo Duchting, Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine and Thrifty by Marjorie Harris. I started a fascinating book Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Unfortunately, it is a very popular book at the library and I had to return it unfinished. It is not a book to read in a hurry as it is full of thought provoking ideas. I will return to it before the year is over. In the meantime, I started another book that promised to be an interesting read Quiet by Susan Cain. With my ladies BOOKClub bible study, I read through Proverbs.

2. What movies, TV shows, plays, etc. did I watch?

Bruce and I watched some episodes of BattleStar Gallactica on DVD. With the girl, we watched Finding Farley and some Get Smart on DVD.

3. What interesting things did we do as a family? With friends?

We celebrated three family birthdays this month and sent wishes for a fourth who lives in another province.

Victoria

4. What were our accomplishments?

Victoria participated in a speech contest. Kathryn ran in an indoor track relay, her team made it to the semi finals. I helped with SpeechCraft at SIAST and the University of Saskatchewan helping students with their public speaking skills. We have started to investigate high school options for Victoria. On January 1, Kathryn and I ran the 5K Resolution Run. Kathryn is currently winter camping with her classmates. They left Wednesday and have had the two coldest consecutive days of the year so far.

5. What were our disappointments?

Juggling schedules continues to be a frustration. There are many things we all want to do and it is hard to choose which to focus on. Victoria pent the first part of the month recovering from a bad cold she had before and during the Christmas season. I spent the last part of January with pressure on my ear. I tried to return to my writing. I have found a pattern of stopping a story just at the climax leaving myself and my readers wondering "and then what?" It will be an ongoing effort this year to work through this and finish some of the stories.

6. What did I do for exercise?

I have traded the outdoor running for swimming, treadmill and stationary bike. The treadmill does not happen as often as I hoped. It felt great to return to the pool. Once the spring weather arrives, I will return to running outdoors. Hopefully, I will continue to swim once that happens.

Renewed

7. Did I make progress on my goals?

I am still in the process of recording my goals for the year. Writing and exercise are a necessary piece. We are discussing a few bigger ideas as a family that will affect this years goals.

As the year progresses, I expect this list will change to more accurately reflect the things I want to track and remember at the end of the year. I am also working on a list of tasks I want to make sure I complete each month. I have had huge stacks of papers to file. I hope to build routines to keep that from happening.

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Unexpected

Every once in a while, Bruce and I toss the to do list and just do. This morning started out as usual. I head to the gym and he headed to work. When I got home, I enticed him to join me exploring the foggy countryside. But first we had to get the kids to school.

Downtown

The ride to school was disappointing. It seemed the fog was lifting. The trees had a slight dusting of white. Undeterred we headed to the river hoping to catch the ice fog lifting and obscuring downtown. The fog was thin and we each had tasks to complete so we headed home. The closer we got to the edge of the city, the harder it got to see. We intentionally missed our turn and headed out of town. The fog was thick enough we wondered if it would obscure not only the background but the foreground. Would there be no happy middle?

whiteout

Staying on the highway was not an option. We turned off to the north. The exploration had begun. Occasionally the fog lifted slightly. Just after Bruce commented: "It would be nice to have something alive in the photo", we saw a pair of deer. They froze. We took a few photos, moved the car and took a few more. In the thickest fog, we hoped not to find deer. We did not want to be surprised by them on the road. We did see few more feeding on some round bales off the side of the road.

Natural Beauty

It was time to return home and back to work. As we approached the city, it looked like the city had been erased. A blank canvas awaited those who wished to recreate the neighborhood.

Disappearing

The to do list remains but the fog is gone. The opportunity has faded but the memories remain.

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Unexpected Joy

This weekend we were helping Victoria with art ideas for homework. All of a sudden Bruce exclaimed, "That's what!" and disappeared into his office. He has a hiding spot somewhere in the office. If I was determined to find it I could but that would ruin the surprise. This was an extra surprise. Christmas Eve and Christmas morning he mentioned thinking he forgot something. I had no idea what it could be. Now I do. He had picked up a set of soft pastels for me. I had expressed interest in trying them. Now I can.

Bruce also set up a still life with some of the citrus fruit in the house. We are enjoying the abundance of in season produce from warmer climates. The girls are sure I have lost my mind. Last year I planted some clementine seeds. Two plants are doing well and one is struggling to hang on. Spurred on by that success, I planted a few more seeds. This time three grapefruit seeds, three blood orange seeds and some pink orange seeds. The pink oranges were the tastiest of the bunch so far. I hope one of each survives. The girls may be right. It seems a little unusual to be planting tropical fruit on a day that is -30C. Nevertheless, I continue to try new experiments.

Citrus family

Four pieces of fruit were rescued from the plate for a week. I have also been asked to pick up a lemon and lime. Victoria is working with watercolor pencils and creating her own still life. I am curious to see how hers turns out. I decided the family of four fruit was just right to try my new pastels. If I followed all the 'rules' I would have added another piece or taken one out to keep an odd number. I didn't. I look forward to trying new things. I am thankful that Bruce continues to encourage my hobbies. I am thankful for the unexpected surprise this weekend. I think his timing was even better than he planned.

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Perspective

I wasn't going to choose a word to focus on this year. Before Christmas, our family started grumbling and complaining. It happens every year in the middle of the excitement and abundance. The days get shorter and colder. We are reminded of how we need the light. I started to tease my family that we needed to focus on the word positive for 2013. I told them I would make a big poster so they couldn't miss it. I was tired of the complaining. I was tired of the negativity. BUt I didn't do it. It didn't quite fit.

Just before Christmas a young family in our church was devestated by the premature birth and subsequent death of their long awaited twins. There are no words for their grief. How does positive fit in that case? As a church, we prayed for a miracle throughout her pregnancy as there was evidence of severe health problems. Did we lack faith? We all wanted a miracle for them and for us. The weekend before Christmas another family lost the patriarch of the family, the father, the granfather. He lived a long life. The family had good memories. Again there is sadness and grief. These are not losses to my family but they are losses within my faith community. These are people we walk along side and share parts of life with. In my job, I often work during funerals helping the friends and family grieve by making sure they have what they need during the ceremony or before. I interacted with both families in December. They did not want to hear a thoughtless "be positive" or "think of the good" or even "they are in a better place". They wanted a chance to reflect on the life lived whether long or short. They want and need a chance to cry and mourn. I want to respect that.

Hope

December drew to a close and I discarded the word positive. I still want to curb the grumbling and complaining. We have a choice how we respond. We can grieve without complaining. The Psalms shows us how to work through a wide variety of emotions including grief and excitement. I want to respond well both at home and in the community to the events of life. I want to teach my kids to respond well. I've been reflecting on a variety of areas of my life. I want to live my life intentionally. As I've reflected, I've kept returning to one word that seems to sum up the various ideas. One question I can ask myself when I start grumbling and complaining. The word: Perspective. The question: "where is my perspective right now?" My earthly perspective is limited. I do not understand so many things. If my perspective is centered on me and now, it will be easy to grumble and complain. If I lift my eyes and look forward, it gets a little easier. When I lift my eyes heavenward and ask God to show me where we are going the grumbling fades. He directs my steps whether I pay attention or not. How much easier is it to travel when I pay attention to where I am going?

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Reflections

A new year offers an opportunity to reflect on what was and what is to come. I have seen many posts over the past week with plans and goals for 2013. I waited. In a very real sense my new year starts 5 days later than everyone else. It is a new year of my life. This year, I found myself reflecting more than others. Bruce's health scare might have prompted it. Challenging myself and succeeding may have contributed. In any case, I find myself reflecting and pondering the year to come.

January

I am working on setting some goals. It is a stretch. I still do not like goal setting. I do not want to stand still though. I want to build on the fitness habit I have started. I do not have a goal yet. There are a few opportunities I am considering with my running group. In the meantime, we are going to continue running 3 times a week. We want to gain speed and maintain or increase endurance. We have discussed adding swimming since two of us are now dealing with injuries or the remnants of injuries. The next event we are considering is not until May or June. We have time to build endurance and health.

I am reading. I love to read. I have read three books already this year including my first book for the Artful Readers Club. I have been thinking about art possibilities for the book. I have a few different ideas. In the meantime, I am thinking about what I want to learn and accomplish with artistic expression this year. Just like with my health, I do not want to stand still. there are many things I want to learn. The difficulty is narrowing it down to a few things to focus on.

In order to meet any of the goals I am considering, I need to organize my life. I spend way too much time looking for things and tripping over things. Bruce and I started with a mini re-organization of our bedroom. I now have a writing corner with a rocking chair and fireplace. the other corner on that wall has our exercise gear. The re-organization has made better use of the space and we no longer feel enclosed. Slowly over the course of the year, I plan to make similar changes around the house. I hope by reclaiming the space and time I will be able to achieve my goals.

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Resolution 2013

Many people put exercise more on their list. It sits beside get organized, lose weight and others that are often forgot before January ends. I tend not to make resolutions. I fight setting goals though I did set some for 2012. It isn't that I don't want to change and improve, I do. I don't want to rush into too many changes that I get overwhelmed and stop.

A group of five of us have been running early in the morning. We run before the sun rises. We run for health. We run for energy. We ran to train for a 5K event. On January 1, instead of setting yet more resolutions that get neglected, we ran the 5K Resolution Run. Every running event I participated in 2012 it rained or snowed. Tuesday morning was overcast. The forecast said increasing winds and snow. Would 2013 follow the same trend as 2012? WE readied for our event and headed out. By the start of the race the temperature had risen to -1C. The face mask for the wind seemed like too much and it ended up being too much sinc ethe wind only started to pick up at the end of the race. The snow stayed away as well. Once again I was the last person to finish. I improved my time from the Santa Shuffle on December 1. My goal in 2013 is to increase my speed. I also want to eliminate the walk breaks during a 5K event even if the weather is not ideal. I know I can because I have. My injury is healing and I can return to building my endurance.

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One King

We have been busy baking and eating, decorating and celebrating, planning and playing. It is an exciting month. It is a busy month. The stress of deadlines and unreal expectations threatens to overwhelm. I find myself protesting: "This isn't how it is supposed to be."

A soundtrack of Christmas carols plays in the background. Everything seems perfect. Cider simmers on the stove. The freezer threatens to burst with goodies tucked inside. The tree is up and starting to sparkle as the girls add the ornaments. Everything seems just right. Or does it?

The Nativity

I fall into bed exhausted. The dishes form leaning towers here and there. The perfect picture doesn't happen. In order to make room, things must be moved, packed away or given away. Do I still really need the preschool toys when Kat is 11? The chair that normally sits in the corner now occupies the middle of the living room. It is our favorite chair. But the tree needs a spot. The chair will move to the side but first I must make space. The list goes on and on.

This week, I find myself pondering the preparation. As I prepare to decorate and decorate, I wonder what needs to be removed from my mind. Lots! I contemplate the words of one of my favorite songs "One king held the frankincense, one king held the myrrh, one king held the purest gold, one king held the hope of the world." One king held the hope of the world! That is why I celebrate. That is the reason behind all this preparation and busy. Unfortunately my hope slowly was getting buried under the weight of expectation. The negative voices grew louder threatening to paralyse me. With 11 days left until Christmas, I am rewriting my expectation list. Christmas cards may be sent. I hope to do them. I have just the right picture for the front and I know the message I want to include. If not, it is not the end of the world.

One King

I was recently reminded that my King is no stranger to stress and chaos. He was not born in a palace surrounded by servants who had everything just right. He was born in a stable amidst the noise and the smells of a barn. He was visited first by shepherds and later by kings. If I let Him in to the stress and the mess of the season, He will bring the joy and the hope. That's why he came to restore our hope. To restore our relationships. To restore us. To restore me.

How are you preparing this season?

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Let It Snow

We have been inundated with snow. Snow, rain, sleet, snow rain, sleet. The pattern continues. Some mornings are an off-road adventure through the neighborhood to get kids to school. Some morning running plans have been replaced with a weight workout. many adults are grumbling. However, most of the kids at school are not. They are getting more excited each time the fluffy white flakes drop from the sky. So I wonder what changes?

Even In Winter

Somewhere along the way our sense of wonder disappears and the weight of responsibility appears. This seems to occur starting somewhere between grade five and grade eight. The grade eight kids are too cool to admit they like winter. "You're being sarcastic right?" is an oft asked reply to a comment of "it's a beautiful day." No, I am not being sarcastic. Yes, there is white stuff on the ground. It is beautiful. It sparkles like millions of tiny diamonds in the sun.

Let It snow

I used to be among the crowd, grumbling loudly. It's cold. It's dark. Some mornings I still am. I fight the urge to grumble daily. A few years back as I read through the Book of Numbers I found myself amazed at how much the Israelites grumbled. God was providing for all their needs and they continued to grumble. Why would they do that? Couldn't they see the abundance and blessing all around them?

Then it hit me. I am just like them. I want a nicer car. My house is a mess. It's too hot. It's too cold. I'm tired. The list was endless. The list hasn't changed.

However, slowly my attitude is changing. I wish I could say I never grumble. I wish I could claim to always recognize the blessings around me. Each day I try to find at least one thing, one spark of beauty, one thing I am thankful for. Some days I fall back on the obvious. I am thankful for my family. I am always thankful for my family. Even when they push me and test me.

This Christmas season as I prepare I find myself having an ever shrinking wish list. I am replacing the wish list with a gratitude list. Won't you join me?

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Dreaming of a Merry Silent Night

The season of Advent has begun. It is time for the final prep for Christmas. I have many things on the go, too many likely. Some are surprises for friends and family as the month progresses. Others are my attempts to record the stories and document the season. Ali Edwards has been hosting a December Daily for a few years. I know I will not create a page a day with activities from this month. I do however, want to record the highlights, the funny happenings and the traditions we participate in. How do I balance these two thoughts without driving myself crazy?

I could pretend that I have it all figured out and set out a four step or a twelve step plan. I don't. I know what I want to do, what I hope to do. Yesterday, I started to tell the story of December 2012 using some of my digital scrap-booking supplies. I also started a list of stories I want to tell this month. The plan is simply to tell the story. I will use a variety of formats depending on my mood, the time available and the story to tell. In the end I hope to print it out and bind it in a book that we can enjoy.

November ended by raining ice pellets. One could personify it and claim it was jealous of all the fun December gets and decided to rain on the parade. December 1, I awoke to softly falling snow. Neither are ideal when the first planned event of the month is a 5 Km run. I debated intensely can I do this, maybe I can't right up until I crossed the start line with 154 other participants. As I ran down the Broadway Bridge 1Km into the course, I marvelled at the beauty created by the gentle snow. By the 2Km mark, all hopes of finishing in a good time disappeared. I walked more than I ran in the soft snow. The uphill climb tested my legs and lungs. I was thankful for the beauty that surrounded me as I mentally struggled to overcome.

Santa Shuffle

The beauty of the day continued with the Festival of trees in the afternoon. That story has not been told yet. It is on the list. Bruce took a number of photos as we all tried to pick our favorite tree. One of his photos will be our Christmas card this year. Oh and that gently falling snow, it turned into a full prairie snowstorm coating the landscape in white. Today I write and create in between bursts of digging out. I'm no longer dreaming of a white Christmas. I am enjoying the fresh perspective of a world painted white.