Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Last QR Snowflake of 2015

This is a short blog post to say 'hi' and wish you all a safe and happy evening celebrating New Year's Eve and best wishes as we enter into a new year - 2016.

I thought it would be fitting to close-off the year with the excerpt from our Christmas Card and a link to the 'funky snowflake' from the Christmas Card which some did not realise was a QR code.  I would have loved to have sent a Christmas Card to all of my family and friends, so this is my opportunity to share with all of you.

The message from our card is as follows: (and can be viewed electronically, too).

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Greetings Family & Friends,       Dec 2015

From our home to yours we wish you a wonderful Christmas season.  Our year has come with some highs but some very significant lows, too as Mom was Promoted to Glory in April but I will be forever grateful for the gift of spending several weeks with her and creating memories that I will forever cherish.  In the midst of a very sad time, we are grateful for the blessing of a new beautiful God-daughter Abigail, a little sister for big brother Aidan.  Peter received his Diploma in Counselling and we enjoy regular catch-ups with Chasely and Dale and other family and friends and we had a good visit with Peter's Mum Bethie in Gladstone in October.  I continue to enjoy writing and photography and have added a few articles to my blog and hoping to graduate to WordPress soon.

We wish you a safe and blessed New Year.

Love Brenda, Peter and Jessie & Jake

I have included below the collage of pictures which was included in the card, too.

Happy New Year to all - I am so happy and grateful that God has my future in His hands.  Here's to 2016 and so long 2015 and good night.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Prayer Vigil for Joey

I met Joey+Rory....through their music.....

I was first introduced to Joey+Rory when my Mom gave me one of their CD's for Christmas in 2013.  I loved it!  I listened to it over and over again.  When I was out driving in our little blue Jazz, it was the CD that I regularly played and the harmonies that Joey+Rory sing are beautiful.  All of their songs are gorgeous and some lyrics are a bit more thought provoking but good on them.  As I listen to the message of the songs lately, both of this CD and our newer addition bought in April 2015, the lyrics must be bittersweet for Joey+Rory but also encouraging and words and melodies which they are probably hanging on to during this season of their lives.
Mom had been to Gaither's Family Fest in May 2013 at Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Dollywood, too
I do not need to retell their story because Joey's husband Rory writes a blog This Life I Live and he tells the story better than anyone.  I did not know a lot about Joey+Rory's story really until more recently as I have felt connected to them in many ways, not the least of which is her battle with cancer.

I knew that Joey married Rory who was a single Dad and has two daughters - Heidi and Hopie; this resonates with me because I, too, married a single Dad who has one daughter.  I read Rory's recent blog post called four rings and a baby and I really liked how Joey gave rings to her step-daughters as a sign of her commitment to them - a beautiful gesture to symbolize how important they are to her.  Relationships are hard work and Joey and her girls have put in the hard yards and have a connection that cannot be taken from them.

I discovered that Joey was not always in the music business and she and her sister-in-law Marcy opened up a restaurant in their local community called Marcy Jo's Mealhouse in Pottsville, Tennessee.  I want to go there the next time I visit the United States - breakfast I reckon but hold the grits and I definitely want one of Joey's famous sticky buns!  Check out 2.42 in this video to get your taste buds going - yum!
Joey+Rory had a beautiful baby Indiana who is affectionately called Indy in Feb 2014 and she is absolutely adorable - she has a smile that lights up the room - like her Mamma Joey.  I suspect the news that Joey+Rory were pregnant was a joyous occasion and it has been such a delight to share in their journey with them because I still remember a time when we thought we had fallen pregnant and we were over the moon but alas, that was not the case.  But back to Joey+Rory.  They have shared their experiences with us, their fans, including an amazing video of the home birth and a wonderful song "If I Needed You."
I continued to enjoy Joey+Rory's music by playing my much loved CD 'Inspired' regularly but it was not until I returned home earlier this year to Canada to visit and provide support to my Mom that I learned that Joey had been fighting her own battle against cancer, just months after Indy was born.  Cancer is such a horrible disease and more and more I am aware of how it affects so many people.  Rory's Mom also had cancer and passed away recently; a different cancer than my Mom's, but nonetheless, still that horrible disease.  Rory shares about how his Mom was a woman of courage and a real inspiration to those around her, even through her illness - another similarity, indeed as this describes my Mom to a "t", too.

After Mom passed away earlier this year in April, my husband Peter and I had the opportunity to visit a dear friend in Prince Edward Island and we were able to enjoy the road trip back to Ontario via the United States and this afforded me the opportunity to visit one of my Mom and Dad's favourite restaurants and shops - the Cracker Barrel, in South Portland, Maine.  It was at this stop that we purchased another of Joey+Rory's CDs 'Country Classics' and we thought it was uncanny how the lyrics to "King Of The Road" was spot on!  You see, Bangor, Maine was our destination the night before.  We have loved this album as much as the first and although country music was not always my most favourite genre of music, I love it more and more every day.

Another bittersweet similarity in Joey's story to ours is that Joey, like my Mom, thought she beat her battle against cancer the first time round, but alas, it came back.  My Mom fought the cancer but opted out of treatment in the end because she, too, chose to live.  We, too, prayed for a miracle for Mom, like we are for Joey and I truly pray that the ending to this story is a bit different.  Do not misunderstand me.  Mom wanted that miracle just as much as we did; I can still remember our conversation in her kitchen when she spoke about her coming to visit Peter and I in Australia and that she would be our chief cook and bottle washer and maybe, just maybe, even have a go at walking Jessie and Jake, our puppies - Kelpie/Cattle crosses.  For reasons that are never clearly understood and probably never meant to be, His will was that her suffering is gone and she has been reunited with our Dad.

But alas, my prayer, albeit a selfish one for Joey+Rory and Indy and Heidi and Hopie and extended family is that God shows off by doing the miraculous so He gets the glory, but in the end on Friday at Noon here 'down under' which is 7 pm CST time zone in the States, I will light a candle and get down on my knees and join in the prayer vigil for Joey, remembering her prayer.....
Pray for a miracle...and even more so, for peace with His decision.
To close off my blog post, check out one of Joey+Rory's beautiful songs....'I See Him' from their 'Inspired' CD.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


As I contemplated this past Monday, well technically Tuesday here in Australia--Monday back in Canada was Canadian Thanksgiving, I pondered a few things.

It is interesting that whilst Canada is celebrating Thanksgiving as they head into the bounty of their Fall (Autumn) harvest, 'down under' we are heading into Spring and the warmer weather, but whatever the season, there is still so much to be thankful for.  I also think it is important to look at the little things as well as the big things; a perspective that my Mom always maintained.  I am pretty sure that I have shared this in previous blog articles, but Mom knew that God was interested in all things in her world; the little things, like being on the look-out for her for the right parking spot at the shopping center so she could park the van with no dramas or at which table she should sit at when she went to a function as well as the big ticket items - her family--her children, her grandchildren, her siblings and extended family and her friends.  Of course, one of her big ticket items was Dad, her husband before he passed away.

Spring is often a time to do some stock take and clean out the dust bunnies that have found a hiding space during the cooler weather and also to tidy up and throw away clothes and items that you have not used or worn in a while.  You may have heard the saying that if you have not used it or looked at it in over a year, chances are you never will.  This is a challenge for me, indeed!  But alas, I am endeavoring to have a go.

More on that later, but I wanted to go back to being thankful for the little things first.  So, Peter and I watched a movie recently which was about a young man who had the ability to travel through time.  No, I am not going to recommend the movie 'cause whilst its message was ultimately a good one, well, let me just say that I would have been embarrassed several times if Jesus had watched the movie with us; which He actually did, right?  I am getting off track again.  So, the young guy could re-live moments of his day and correct things that he wished he had done better or help out others along the way, but alas, in the end, he stopped his time travel but made a conscious effort of being thankful for each day and all of the moments in each day, some good and some not so good.

No, not a new approach at all, one that we should be exercising every single day but alas, life gets busy and hum drum or hard and we lose our grip, we lose hope, we lose sight of what is important to us.  We continue to do the same thing every day and expect a different outcome.  HELLO?  Sometimes we need a reminder, a wake-up call and at times, these can even be painful ones, too.

So, as I have begun the process of my spring clean, this is a great opportunity to take stock of my own life and clean out any dust bunnies that are lingering there, too, metaphorically speaking.  In addition to the clean out, it is a timely opportunity to reflect on the good stuff, too.  In fact, I came across a very special gift yesterday - more like a treasure, a keepsake - that allowed me to do a bit of time travel of my own.  I hope that some of my dear friends and colleagues from ODSP read this blog post actually because I am incredibly thankful to all of you who took the time to write a message to me.  Your words were a timely reminder of who I was and gave me the courage to return to the present stronger, and although change can be scary and hard and it usually does not come without a cost and pain, it will be worth it.

Only as high as I reach can I grow,
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see,
Only as much as I dream can I be.
I mentioned in my last blog article, I have started looking for a new job and yeah, it is scary, but I know that I could not continue to do the same thing every day and hope for a different outcome and I shall challenge myself to look for the little things as well as big things to be thankful for each and every day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Knock Knock

My journey continues but thankfully I believe I am getting somewhere, but what a wonderful reminder on Sunday that I do not need to strive in my own strength, but to float down God's river of life to His destination for me.

I loved the analogy that Julianne gave about floating, too, because it reminded me of what my Dad taught us as kids when we first were learning to swim.  To this day I can easily float on my back in the water with my hands by my side or even like Dad used to, with my hands raised behind my head - chillaxin (is that a word?).  Deep breath in and hold and relax and it worked like a dream.

Julianne had given us a hand-out with reference notes on her message and she used this simple piece of paper to help us remember how hard it gets to hold the piece of paper with our hands extended out in front of us while she listed all of the many things that we may be worried about or upset over or causing us stress and frustration - our arms were feeling the pain of the burden of holding up that measly little piece of paper by the time her exercise was done, but it got the message across - loud and clear.

As I continue to float each day, I am trusting God with my destination but I was also encouraged by Holley Gerth's recent blog post, that even when I am not sure what the next step is, to take one step forward and trust that God will make the next move for me and that is exactly what I am doing.

What does that look like for me?  Well, even though I was a bit scared at the idea of doing it, another friend reminded me about what I would do if I was not afraid and I do not need to be afraid, right?  Exactly!  No, not always easy, but I will daily remind myself that God is in my boat and He will calm the storm; maybe not right this second, but I will remind myself to float.  Even when the wind comes and the waves rise and I cannot see the horizon for the mist, just keep my eyes looking upward.  An appropriate song - Hillsong United - Ocean.  I remember Dad taught us kids to float to relax but also to be prepared in case.....well, you get the picture.  Swimming whether it be the dog paddle or front stroke or even the back stroke takes more energy and you would become tired sooner, but laying on your back and focusing on your breathing is calming and it is easy to stay afloat!

So, while I float, I have started knocking on doors and submitting job applications and praying that God has my next destination already worked out.  If I am to stay or go, I know that He will guide my steps.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

This is a short story about a gal whose name is Rebecca.  Her year started out okay but then she learned the news that her Mom's condition had worsened - you see, she had cancer which had metastasized and spread into her liver, kidney and blood.  Rebecca had married a man who did not live close to her Mom and siblings, so she knew that she wanted to go and spend some time with her Mom before her condition really deteriorated.  What a blessing that time was - a real special gift that she will forever treasure in her heart - memories that can never be taken away.  Rebecca's Mom passed away and the celebration of her Mom's life was amazing - whilst she was sad that her Mom had died, she was happy at the testimony of her Mom's life - her legacy lives on.  Even in the midst of her Mom's passing there were some other challenges that befell her but God stood by her and kept her strong.  She would grieve later.

Later came and she returned home and thought her life would return to normal if she could even remember what that was, but alas, more disappointment was coming her way.  Just when she thought she had endured all the pain she could, she encountered more loss.  Her job.  She asked questions, lots of questions and felt lots of pain in the process of being moved out of her job, being assigned to a completely different role and unsure of her future vocation, but the one thing she does know, "His mercies are new every morning." 
Rebecca is still grieving the loss of her Mom and others including her job, but she is so thankful that God provides strength for each new day in the midst of this season.  He provides this strength to her by way of the support of a loving husband who has been there through it all, caring and praying friends and family, a loving and thoughtful church family who have encouraged her to remain in Him and her beautiful children to whom bring her so much joy and she is so proud!

Rebecca has sought professional help through this journey as well and continues to do so; something she would strongly recommend to anyone experiencing grief.  It is not a sign of weakness, but rather of strength to pursue healing and wholeness.  Rebecca would like to encourage anyone travelling along a similar path; that pain is uncomfortable but a necessary part of the process; that has to be walked through.  There is no defined schedule; we are all unique.  It is important to be patient with yourself and recognise when you are having an off day, that is okay - something Rebecca has to remind herself of, too.  She believes the pain never truly ever goes away - some wise women from her church shared the analogy that the scar is still there; she will not feel it as much some days and other days, a memory, smell or sound may cause the pain to come to the surface again.  Never be afraid of the tears - by suppressing the pain and the tears, they will only cause more pain.  Rebecca is continuing to see a counsellor to help her process her grief.  She is very grateful for the men and women who provide such a valuable and delicate service to those in need.

Rebecca is thankful because He will turn her mourning into His time....

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Condensed Story Of The Past 12 Plus Months

So yeah, where do I begin?  I am really not sure, so I will start somewhere.  A lot has happened since my last blog post and I really do want to write more for the rest of this year.  I will start here and reflect more over the past 12 months plus in other blog posts.

The past 12 months plus has had some highs but a lot of lows and challenges, too and the stresses continue, but I am pressing on with God's help each day; sometimes I take it one hour at a time and sometimes I take it one moment at a time.

Timeline to give you some perspective of my story. My Dad passed away very suddenly Aug 2011; my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer early 2012 and her Mom (my Grandma Mason) passed away May 2012.  Mom underwent horrific chemo and radiation treatment and mastectomy of one breast and the chemo left her heart damaged.  Mom maintained an amazing attitude as always and recovered from her surgery and treatment and we thought she had beat the horrible disease.  My family and I (husband Peter and step-daughter Chasely) travelled to Canada in December 2013/January 2014 to visit Mom and family and friends and later in 2014 Mom learned that the cancer had metastasized to her liver, kidney and blood.  Not the news Mom or our family wanted to hear.  Mom had a couple of chemo treatments but these were to go on for many weeks and the odds of remission very low and had made her very sick in a very short time frame, so Mom opted for quality of life.  What an incredibly brave woman our Mom was and to her dying day.

I flew to Canada early Feb 2015 which enabled me to spend some quality time with Mom and those memories will always be so precious to me.  I am so grateful for the time I was able to spend with Mom and the opportunity to be able to help her in the days leading up to her passing.  A friend gave me some great advice and that was to journal about my visit with Mom - precious writings, indeed.  Many special moments shared.  Another friend encouraged me to video Mom, too along with the photos I took and one of my projects is to create a movie of Mom (but I think I will need to invest in a new computer to do that - my faithful notebook/laptop that still uses XP is close to calling it quits I think).

My beautiful Mom and I - we had lunch with her Red Hat Mama's.