Blueberry Blessings

Are you a fan of pie?  Well, my mother can rock any kind of pie there is, and would honestly put Martha Stewart to shame.  She has a very special gift to make the fluffiest of pie crusts.  I honestly don’t even like pie, but when I see the little pieces of brown sugar glaze on her pie crust, it calls my name.

It’s blueberry season, and when you pair fresh wild blueberries and her flaky pie crust it makes a divine dish of sweet heavenly goodness.  We are very fortunate to have a multitude of blueberries growing close to where my parents live, and my parents take full advantage of this little gold mine.

From now until the end of the season they will live there, most days, picking a two liter dish each.   When they get home from picking in the fields, my parents will sort through each berry individually making sure only the perfect of berries are kept for usage.  They clean them and then freeze bags and bags of the little blue wonders for later use to bring that fresh summer feeling to the cold winter months ahead.

Blueberries are really a great example of what blessings nature brings to us without any effort at all.  These are found in most people’s back yards for a short period of time every year.  What we choose to do with these blessings are up to each individual person.  My mother and father take full advantage of them, picking, cleaning and storing them for later usage when times get bleak.

Nature is one of God’s beautiful creations, and this was always driven home to my father who was raised in a very Christian family.  My father always taught me that through nature, God is able to teach us, speak to us, and provide for us.  My grandmother took full advantage of every different berry when it was in season, and it is such a special gift that is passed down through the generations of my family.

My father was explaining all the benefits of these little blue wonders to my children when they arrived with the sugar ridden pie for us to pollute our bodies with.  Blueberries have been labeled a “super-food”.  They are very low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals.  These puppies are supposed to be the King of Antioxidant food, having the highest antioxidant capacity of all commonly consumed fruits and vegetables.  Blueberries reduce DNA damage, which could help fight ageing.  They also protect cholesterol in the blood from becoming damaged.  These power berries are thought to lower blood pressure, help prevent against heart disease and have an anti-diabetic effect.  These little blue babies can even help with brain development and improve your memory.  There is a substance in them that can prevent urinary tract infections and can help with muscle repair after strenuous exercise.

Can you believe all the blessings that are packed into this one little berry?  If one berry can have so many blessings crammed inside of them, imagine all the blessings that are actually placed inside each and every one of us!  Some people are naturally intelligent.  Others are naturally athletic.  Some people are naturally artistic.  Some people are naturally good with numbers.  We all have our gifts and a multitude of them.  Are you using your gifts to the fullest of your potential?  That is the question.

Psalms 104:24-25 tells us, “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.  There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.”  God is the creator of every living thing, big and small and if he has packed many great blessings in each and every one of us.

Sometimes I think we take for granted the things that we are good at, and don’t take advantage of our own seasons, like my parents take advantage of blueberry season.  Start to take a long look at your gifts and think about how you could be using them to help better yourself, your family, your community and most importantly God.  He gave you your gifts to help others, just like these little blue miracle berries.  You just have to ask him what he’d like you to do, and he will guide your way and make you just as miraculous as these sweet blueberries!

signature

Long Runs

I can’t believe it is Friday already.  Another week of the summer, here and gone!  It will be Halloween before we know it.  I find once school starts back time just disappears.  I am very glad that I was fortunate enough to get out running many times this summer.  I was able to schedule in a run almost daily, and the most important runs which were my long runs.

Long run days are when you plan to run the most amount of kilometers that you run all week and every week you increase your kilometers by one.  You are to take the day following off from running so that your muscles has time to heal from the little micro tears that your muscle experiences when pushed beyond its normal limits.

As I prepare and map out my long runs each week, I try to shy away from as many hills as possible, so my body doesn’t have to receive any more micro tears in my muscle fibers than absolutely necessary.  This one day, I set out to run my long run, and to my surprise I was faced with a very surprising long, and very gradual hill, that I never mentally prepared myself for.

At the spur of the moment, my brain automatically did the, “Uuuugh!!!  Hill!!!!  I don’t want to run this hill!” Quickly, however, I talked my brain down off the ledge and reassured myself, that is why I do my hill day, so that my body is prepared for these little hills that pop up mid run.  As I talked myself through the hill, I realized that I didn’t even notice the hill, it seemed like a bump in the road compared to my actual huge kilometer hill that I train on for my hill workouts.

Once I was finished my run, I had to reflect back to my automatic reaction to my surprise hill.  Sometimes I react to things like that in my life.  Reality is life is going to throw you that surprise hill every once and a while, but that is why we go through hardships.  They are like our hill training days of our lives.  We make a connection, like I did to the days that I concur my huge kilometer hill and realize this little incline, is just that.  A little difficulty thrown my way.

Our lives are all about getting the little micro tears in our muscle fibers of life.  They help build and develop our character.  I know there are many times that I felt like skipping my weekly hill work out, or not wanting to deal with some hardship in my life.  I’d rather just walk away, then face the reality of life.  We all have those situations we’d love to avoid, like talking to  a friend that you’ve had a misunderstanding with, or apologizing to your spouse for the stupid way you might have behaved, or dealing with the crank co-worker, or stop your addictive habit that his holding you back or setting a financial plan and sticking to it.

Whatever your hill work is, it is going to help you in that long run of life.  It will help you overcome an obstacle later on in your life.  I know I’ve been quoting lots from the book of James lately, but that is the book I’ve been studying, and when I read James 1:12 I thought of my long runs.  It said, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

It’s very rewarding finishing a long run.  If you’ve never run before, it is a  tremendously gratifying feeling.  I’m not comparing it to getting a crown from God, but it is incredibly fulfilling knowing that you just ran further than you did the week before.  And the week before that.

It is unbelievable how you notice your body getting stronger and stronger each week, yet, the run didn’t feel any harder than the week before.  As long as you remain faithful to your program, you will not feel any pain with the increase in kilometers.  Just like staying steadfast in God’s word when you are tested in real life.  God will make sure the ones who have a relationship with him has the fulfilling feeling of being crowned with victory when tested!

We all have our hill workouts that we don’t want to face, but they make the long runs easier, and strengthens us for whatever may be thrown our way unexpectedly.  Stick to the program, and watch your life strengthen daily!  God is waiting to build you up for the next kilometer of your life.

signature

Always a Teacher

Back to school is fast approaching!  Teachers go back a week earlier than the students to set up their classrooms and to attend workshops that help sharpen their teaching skills and get them pumped for the new school year.  Every year, these workshops are usually great and motivating, but in reality it is kind of repeating the same theories in a different approach.

One of the most important messages that I get out of these workshops is by far the idea that when you are a teacher you are 24/7 a teacher.  The role of a teacher is tough.  People are always judging you and watching you in your community.  The gurus drive it home hard that we, as teachers, are to set an example of clean living and love for children and our community at all times.

Many times they give us different situations that our province has dealt with in the past from random teachers that might have made the wrong choice in a certain situation.  They constantly warn us, but it seems every year they have a new case to share with us.

It is hard, I understand, especially when teachers are young.  It’s difficult for a young adult to realize what a role model teachers must uphold in their community.  Teachers are always under scrutiny for every little thing they do, say and even frequent.  It’s part of the job description.  A tough part of the job description, but nevertheless, it is part of what you sign up for when you are a teacher.

We can’t be out hammered at bars, we can’t be seen doing inappropriate activities, we can’t be cursing and swearing in public places.  If we are working outside of being a teacher, we still have to remember we are a teacher first.  Maybe a teacher is volunteering coaching or working with youth in other areas, but the rule still apply.  We are always a teacher, and always need to be on our best behavior when in the public eye.

It even warns us this in the scriptures.  In James 3:1 it tells us, “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” 

As teachers, we sign up for this, making the decision to give our lives to teaching and our community.  We have to realize we will be judged, and live with great strictness and scrutiny.  As Christians, we have to do the same.  Live like Christians who are going to be judged for our actions.  Sadly, this is what has ruined Christianity for a lot of people.  Many people who are Christians make poor decisions and the community sees their actions.  This makes others form opinions of Christian people.

God forgives us for our sinful behavior, but our community members and other people in our lives, don’t forgive like God forgives.  People judge us for everything we do, even if many times you don’t mean harm by it.  All Christians make mistakes, but we should try our best to rectify our mistakes and not repeat them.  Others have to remember that every Christian sees the word of God in their own personal interpretation, and it might not be the same as theirs.  It’s not our place to judge this, just accept who they are and love them for that.

We are all trying to do our best with what we have.  People can’t give what they don’t have.

signature

Teachable Path

I enjoy going for my summer runs, but I have to admit, the favorite part of my run is my cool down!  It is the part of my run that I get to walk!  How sweet is that right?  I get to walk, and get my breath back and feel the effort that I just put in come to a close.  It’s the part of my run that makes me feel glad that even though I didn’t want to go for a run that day that I did.

Every time that I walk up my street for my cool down, it is amazing the things that are placed in my path and catch my eye.  Very random stuff end up crossing my path, and usually it is something that I love to take home and use as teachable moments for my children.

One day I found a dead toad that was squashed and actually frying on the hot pavement.  My son loves biology and since I knew he’d be fascinated with this little dead toad, I tried to scrape it up off the pavement, but to my disgust, it actually was officially baked onto the road.  I couldn’t budge the sucker.

Another day, on my cool down, I found a rolled up joint, that was only about a quarter smoke.  I picked this bad boy up and carried it home because this was an AWESOME teachable moment for my children! Only to my surprise, when I came into my house, my son quickly question, “Mom!  What are you doing with a joint?”  I couldn’t believe he knew what it was, but I guess in grade 8 there is a great education program in the school system informing them on the street drugs.  Nevertheless, my daughter did benefit from my cool-down education program.

The most beautiful dragonfly was another one of my finds on my cool down routine.  Sadly, it had been struck by a car, and was laying on the pavement desperately trying to take flight again.  I was excited again to bring home another great find, but when I picked him up in my hand that was all he needed to take flight and return to his family somewhere in my neighborhood.  Disappointed that I didn’t have the dragonfly for another educational session, I continued home with an overflowing heart that I did help save the beautiful insect.

Just like my cool down path, we all have our own path of life that we are exploring.  We all have different things crossing our paths on a daily basis.  It’s what we choose to do with these crossings that determine what we do in life.  I love using my life experiences to educate my children and use things that happen to me to prevent them from harm, or help them understand life better.

The biggest part of my path that I share with my children is that we all make mistakes, and hardships in life are all a test to help develop you into what you are to become.  I also love to share my path of spirituality and of the word of the Bible.  It is written in Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

All of us have things put in our paths now and then that we may not be happy about.  Maybe it wasn’t even our choice that our path went haywire, but someone in our lives changed our path without us realizing.  Maybe you lost your job unexpectedly, or your spouse threw your life for an unexpected loop, or you lost a dearly beloved and feel like your path has ended.  If this is happening in your life, realize it is just a learning experience thrown in your path to help you grow as an individual.  You can decide to change your path, or hang in there and use the hardships as teachable moments for yourself, and for others.

We all have our stumbles and falls along our path of life, but if we use our teachable moments to grow in God’s word and form a deeper bond with our Lord Jesus Christ, when other things cross our path, we will be ready to handle anything.  God will help make your path straight!

signature

Jen Kish’s Story

How about the women from Canada at the Olympics?  They definitely made their mark in history, and rose to the occasion.  Of course I loved watching the gymnastics, but I also found the woman’s rugby fascinating.  I never enjoyed rugby, because I thought it was barbaric, but this time, something captivated me.

What captivated me, you may wonder?  I stumbled across an interview on the life of the team captain, Jen Kish.  It was incredible.  She was estranged from her mother, and was raised by her father and he inspired her with his determination to succeed in life, no matter the obstacles, and his “I can do anything” attitude.

Once I heard her story, and saw one particular tattoo that was on her neck, I just found the sport more remarkable.  Everyone has a story, and for her to rise above what she went through, make it to the Olympics and lead her team to win a medal, made me so proud of her.

People may judge her because she is littered with tattoos, and seems very punk like, but in reality, she is a sweet, passionate lady, that learns from her experiences.  Her father worked two jobs helping support her dream, and while she was pursing this dream she was also going through a painful time with her brother.

This lady’s story gripped me and I wanted to learn more.  I started to pay close attention to all her tattoos.  One arm reads “Dance like no one is watching, Sing like no one is listening.” The other reads “Laugh like you’ve never been hurt, Live like it’s heaven on earth.” Then on her bicep she has written, “Live true” and “Love life.” Another tattoo reads “What I do today is important.”  The one that grabbed my attention initially was, “In God I trust”.  She reports that she got this tattoo when she was 19 and that she believes in God, but not in organized religion.

After hearing this, I started thinking how many of the Olympians have very sad stories and it made me appreciate their accomplishments even more.  I read gymnast, Gabby Douglas’s, book after her last Olympics and what she went through was unreal.  Again, she relied heavily on her spiritual connection and relationship with God to get her to where she is and gives God all the credit for her accomplishments.

James 1:2-4 teaches, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Is it a coincident that all the athletes I seem to read and hear about have a strong spiritual side?  I don’t think so.  These athletes do exactly as James 1:2-4 teaches them.  They use their trials as a form of testing of their faith and they become steadfast in the belief and power of God, and they eventually become perfect and complete, lacking nothing, just like God’s word says!

Next time you come across a trial in your life, instead of complaining, thank God for the test and use it as a blessing to grow you into the perfect and complete person he has designed you to become.  God is just like Jen Kish’s dad, and wants you to use the obstacles placed purposely in your path as a way to use your, “I can do anything attitude.”

signature

Tornado Warning

I couldn’t believe my eyes last week!  There was a Tornado Warning for the southern part of my province.  A tornado is unheard of in our area, but somehow, some way there was a warning issued by Environment Canada and the social media sites were in a frenzy.  People were sharing and posting their thoughts.  One part of me, my outer self, was thinking how thrilling it would be to actually witness a tornado, but then the rational part of me though of the devastation that it could bring.

Visions of television newscasts flashed before my eyes, giving me a very quick reminder that these bad boys can rip homes right off their foundations.  They could turn cars over like pancakes.  This isn’t a time to want to experience a tornado for the fun of just to say that I’ve lived through a tornado.  Actually, who’s to say that I might even live through it?

Eventually my rational, inner self kicked in and reminded me of the damage a tornado could leave a family, and this is one girl that doesn’t want her family uprooted or homeless.  But how many grown adults make choices thinking only of how amazing something might be to experience.  Just like I did with the tornado.  I see many marriages struggling because people want the thrill of seeing that tornado that they haven’t ever seen or experienced even if it is going to bring total destruction to their entire family.  They don’t think with their rational, inner selves but instead they want the adrenaline rush and let their outer selves win.

I’m sure almost every marriage has experienced it.  When I think back how I used to be with my husband when we were first dating, our relationship is only a shadow of what that once was.  My life revolved around my boyfriend that eventually became the man I call my husband.  I would plan exciting trips for us.  My evenings were all about him!  I would spend my entire day dreaming of thrilling things for us to fill our lives with.  I wanted him to think that I was the bomb.  The girl that he could never live without.

I did convince him of this and landed, what was to me, the most incredible man in the entire universe.  He was definitely my tornado, and I was loving the experience of the thrill of new love and all that came with it.  We experienced so many firsts together.  He is the first person that I went to a tropical place with.  He was the first person that I moved in with.  He was the first person that felt like I couldn’t live without.

We eventually got married and time quickly ticked by.  We had many more firsts together.  First new home.  First child.  First time business owners.  Two children family.  First official family vacation.  As we kept notching more firsts into our story of marriage, many other notches were being made too.  Notches of total exhaustion trying to balance it all.  Notches of financial strain that comes with two very active and expensive children.  Notches of many stored up emotions that were left uncommunicated.

Now the tornado is reaching new levels of danger.  No longer are we married to the person of our dreams, but we feel like we are in the eye of the storm.  Years of hurt, anger, bitterness, disappointment, and total fatigue are swirling around in an angry rage now, and we are left with a marriage that is now under a Tornado Warning.

You can deny it, or try and hide it from the world, but every marriage goes through some sort of Tornado Warning.  You can go out and play in that warning, and seek the areas that your marriage might be lacking in.  Usually it’s attention, because we all get wrapped up in the reality of life, kids, work, and more work.  Then someone else starts giving us that attention that we are feeling neglected by our spouse.  Finally,  the person you might work with, see at the gym, or other people your path crosses are finally making you feel good again.  Then you want to seek the thrill of the storm, even if it means that your entire world is going to crumble around you.

Psalms 107:29 says, “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.”  Your tornado warning can be calmed, if you turn to your Divine Creator and ask him to calm your storm.  You don’t have to give into the thrill or the total devastation it might cause.  You have the power through God to calm your marriage storm, and restore it back to what it was when you first met.

Our actual Tornado Warning was very short lived, and hopefully if you are feeling a tornado coming on in your marriage yours will be short lived too.  Of course to free your marriage of a tornado warning, it is going take work, and some attention.  Just try remembering what it was like to be with your boyfriend, or girlfriend before they became your spouse.  Make an effort to do the things that you used to do for them.  You might think that your spouse isn’t filling your needs, but did you ever wonder if you are filling theirs?

signature

Ellie Black’s Stumble

I write this blog with a huge mix of emotions.  The Canadian Woman’s Gymnastics Team didn’t make it to the Team Finals at the Olympics.  We had such high hopes, and we were gripped to the television on Sunday night, cheering and shouting at the television, only to watch the unimaginable happen.

The devastation all started at their first rotation on the balance beam.  Four girls get to compete, and the top three scores are added together to give them a score on each event.  If a gymnast falls off the beam they lose and entire point.  This is a huge deduction for a gymnast, and if Canada wanted to make it to the Team Finals, they had to have at least three of the four gymnast “stick” their routine.  This means that they do not fall off the beam.

Guess what?  Two of the four girls fall off the beam.  We couldn’t believe our eyes.  Our favorite gymnast, Ellie Black from Nova Scotia, was one of the gymnasts that fell.  She was Canada’s chance at a medal in the Event Final round.  She was a strong beam performer and had medaled on this event at the Panam Games, so all she had to do was “stick” her routine.  Sadly, this didn’t play out as planned.

As I study the book of James, I’m falling in love with this part of the scripture.  James, Jesus’s half- brother has so much wisdom in every verse and as I read James 3:2, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, fable also to bridle his whole body.”  In other words, nobody is perfect.

The camera zoomed in on Ellie’s face, and I could see the disappointment in her eyes.  I just wanted to give her a hug and explain, we all stumble!  We all make mistakes.  Nobody is perfect.  The Olympics doesn’t define who she was as a gymnast.  I had so much I wanted to tell her through the television screen, but of course, she couldn’t hear me.

When I look back at my own life, oh how I have stumbled!  Thank goodness I have forgiving people in my life.  I’m fortunate to have people that supported me through all my stumbles.  It’s easy to see our own stumbles and want people to forgive us, but when it is the other person stumbling we tend not to be so supportive, and it is difficult to forgive people.  I know.  I’ve been there.

How many of us have people in our lives that seem to continuously stumble and hurt us?  Maybe it is a friend, a family member or even your spouse.  Some stumbles are harmless and easy to forgive, but when people we love stumble big time, it is harder to forgive.  Just like Ellie Black.  The sad thing is if she lets this stumble on the beam manifest inside of her, she might never be the same.  She stumbled at the Olympics.  Is there a bigger stumble?

We have to realize that we all stumble.  Even people we love will hurt us.  We may ever hurt ourselves and never forgive ourselves.  We have to learn to forgive these people, and most importantly ourselves.  We have to learn to let go of this negative emotion and move forward, otherwise these unnecessary feelings fester inside of us.

Learn from your stumbles, and realize, you aren’t the only one who stumbles and that people you love and hold in high regards are going to stumble too.  Be patient with your Stumbler and yourself and make changes in your life so that you will not make that same stumble again.   God wants you to take your stumbles, and help others that have stumbled this way too, and make them realize that they aren’t alone.

Ellie Black didn’t let this negative emotion fester in her.  This lady definitely moved forward, because Thursday she came back to compete in the All Around Competition and came 5th place overall!  That is the best a Canadian gymnast have ever placed in the history of the Olympics.  This incredible athlete recovered from a stumble to sketch her name forever in Canadian Olympic history.

How’s that for learning?  Way to go Ellie!  Nobody will remember the stumble, but everyone will always remember the victory!  All of Canada is very proud of you!

signature