Sometimes it’s hard

Earlier this week, on Thanksgiving Monday, under the title “In all things give thanks“, I posted a photo I’d taken during a drive in the Fraser Valley,  and I included a quote from Psalm 95:2.  We have so much in our lives for which to be thankful and I was feeling full of praise.

Give Thanks

Tuesday morning we were once again driving in the Fraser Valley and I took this photo as we crossed the Golden Ears Bridge. We were on our way to an appointment with our veterinarian. Our eight-year-old Labrador Retriever, Tynan, hadn’t been well over the holiday weekend and we were looking forward to finding a solution for whatever was ailing him.

The solution wasn’t at all what we expected.

After x-rays, ultrasound and various tests we were confronted with the devastating news that what was ailing him couldn’t be fixed. Even with immediate surgery, the prognosis was poor. Less than three hours later we were retracing our route, returning home without him, in shock from the unexpected loss.

To add to the ache, for the first time in over fifty years there were no canine greetings to distract us when we arrived home. We’ve had many dogs during our lifetime. Our first were Labrador/Shepherd crossbreds. Later I bred, trained and exhibited purebred Shetland Sheepdogs for thirty-five years. We’ve always shared our home with anywhere from two to five dogs at a time, but somehow, after the passing of our last Sheltie, Tynan ended up as our lone canine companion. Now the house is painfully empty.

With this heaviness permeating our hearts and home, how can we obey the admonition to give thanks? It isn’t easy. In fact, it’s very hard today. And yet, while my mind wants to complain bitterly at the sudden loss of our dearly loved companion, at the same time bittersweet memories are bubbling up and bursting out — memories that bring with them joy and thanksgiving, not for what is, but for what has been.

Best Buds

Best Buds

Through my tears I give thanks for:

  • the experience of smelling his baby puppy breath the day I carried him home on my lap those too-short eight years ago;
  • remembering how he  would clamber onto the shelf under our coffee table and fall asleep there, until he was eventually too large to fit the space;
  • how he and our younger daughter’s Lab and Aussie were always so excited to see each other, no matter how long it had been between visits;
  • the day our other daughter’s Brittany Spaniel taught him that there was joy in swimming, not just walking in the ocean waves, and how, at our Cariboo lake, he would happily do the work of swimming out to retrieve sticks, only to willingly give them up to our son’s chocolate Lab who was waiting at the shore to snatch and claim them as her own;
  • watching him shadow my hubby everywhere he went, even to waiting outside the bathroom door for him;
  • giggling at how he leapt into the air like a gazelle and gambolled about when asked if he thought it was his dinnertime, or if he was ready for his daily 3 km walk with my hubby;
  • loving how he would slowly elbow the front half of his 90 lb. body up on the couch beside me until he could nuzzle my ear and leave a tiny kiss on my nose before being chased off;
  • knowing how much he loved to go for a ride with us, and always knew which vehicle to approach when we mentioned we were taking the truck or the van;
  • marvelling at how he could instantly turn from a couch potato into a showdog when it was time to go to a dog show with his special friend and handler, Jayne Luke, and how he adored the specialty cookies that always arrived with her and the toys she bought for him after each of his wins;
  • laughing at his love of a plastic garden pot and how, whenever I was planting bedding plants, he delighted in stealing just one empty pot and racing ’round and ’round the back yard with it;
  • smiling at how his head tipped, his ears lifted and his expression brightened whenever we told him one of our family members was coming to visit — he knew everyone by name, including their dogs;
  • remembering how he watched inconspicuously for the last corner of a sandwich, bit of toast or pizza crust, because he always got it if he wasn’t blatantly begging.
  • how he would roll over on his back and freeze there, all four legs in the air, hoping for ‘a tummy rub’ whenever we walked past;
  • and perhaps most poignantly, how happy he was at the end, tail wagging, munching a generous supply of biscuits provided by our caring and compassionate vet, content and unafraid because we were there.
Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

He had his own toy box, and today the dozens of plush stuffies that he adored and played with but never destroyed, have been washed and put into storage — even the very first fabric squeaky toy made for him by his breeder. There might not be another Labrador in our family, but you never know, perhaps one day some new puppy will come along to adopt them.

You’ve been a long-suffering reader if you’ve persevered this far! 

My point, of course, is that no matter what disappointments or catastrophes life dumps on us, we won’t likely be thankful for them, but hopefully in retrospect we’ll look for snippets of joy in the experiences we’ve had despite them.

~

R.I.P. sweet friend

CAN. CH. RIVERSEDGE TYNAN AT CAREANN
January 22, 2006 – October 14, 2014

Tynan 2012

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Summer Snapshot: Lichen

“Life is an intricate pattern of simple designs;
we see the intricacy,
but once awareness is raised,
we can then see simplicity in all things.
Start with nature – get outside and embrace it today.”

[Unknown]

 

Lichen

.

For by him all things were created,
in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—
all things were created through him and for him.
And he is before all things,
and in him all things hold together.

[Colossians 1:16a]

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A not-terribly-useful photo journal of a morning in my life…

Bear 6Some days I approach the writing of my blog post wondering what I can say that will be meaningful, or interesting, or useful. What bit of wit or wisdom will make you feel it was worth your while to stop here? My tidbits about the craft of writing are gleaned from personal experience and can’t be counted on as professional expertise. My life isn’t full of extraordinariness that makes it much different from anyone else’s. My efforts at photography are hit and miss at best. I take oodles of shots, and discard most, but I present you with the few that suitably illustrate my topic du jour.

My problem today? No ‘topic du jour’ will come to mind! I have no brilliant writing analogies, and my days recently have been pretty ordinary. However, I DO have some photos I can share, not because they’re particularly great photography, but because the subject matter is pretty spectacular… at least, it is to me, given it was shot in my own backyard.

I’ve mentioned before that we live more-or-less rurally, in a cul-de-sac, but one where the few homes are surrounded by woods and marshland. All manner of wildlife wander through en route to wherever. Wednesday the biggest bear yet came through… but she stayed. And stayed.

Bear 1

My hubby yelled at her when she started up the stairs to the deck, so she backed off. Instead, she wandered around the lawn and through the gardens. She climbed high into one of the very tall (200′) evergreens and then backed her way down again. She laid down and grazed on the grass, got up and wandered some more, repeatedly… for eighty minutes! (I know that because I checked the time stamps on the first and last of my 100+ photos.)

Bear 5

She didn’t DO anything, but neither did she seem inclined to leave.

Then, after keeping us entertained for eighty minutes, she took one last stroll through the garden shrubs, turned and headed with determination across the yard towards the trail to our marsh… this time followed by a little cub who materialized from behind a rhododendron and scrambled to keep up!

 

Bear 3

Our best guess for the prolonged visit is that, en route to wherever, it must have been time for the cub’s morning nap. Mama Bear had deposited him there, out of sight just above the creek, and left him to snooze while she put in the time munching and mowing our unkempt lawn, and posing for her extensive photo opp.

Bear 2

(If you’d like a closer look, click on the photos to enlarge)

I’m left with an abundance of photos and memories of this close-up wildlife encounter, but I still don’t have a useful Friday post for you. Nothing brilliant has emerged from my boggled brain, so I hope you’ll be satisfied with this photo journal and feel your visit here hasn’t been entirely in vain.

~  ~  ~

“Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth,
and makes us wiser than the fowls of heaven?”

[Job 35:11]

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Transitioning from Thanksgiving into Advent

 

 

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Sunlight filtered through the trees last weekend as we neared the spot where we would see the eagles. It was more of a stroll than a hike to get there, as the trail meandered through the woods toward the Chehalis River.

Bald Eagle 5

Later we crossed over a stream via a log bridge and wandered back along an easier path that paralleled a golf course. It was a gorgeous day — a day that filled us with thankfulness for the beauty of our surroundings.

DSC06514

But thankfulness is more than expressing appreciation for what we have. It involves a response to Him who is the giver of all we have and are.

This weekend many will be transferring attention from Thanksgiving to Advent. We begin the annual time of preparation, readying ourselves to receive again the Gift beyond imagining… God among us, the Creator and Saviour of the world. But truly, there shouldn’t be a transitioning from one celebration to another. We need to carry our thanksgiving on through and into Christmas.

What traditions are a part of your Thanksgiving-into-Christmas preparations?

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“Thanks be to God for his indescribable Gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15

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Journeying II

The start of our vacation journey was not entirely uneventful. We had barely entered the town next to ours, when our brakes began smoking — never a good thing when you’re towing a 27′ trailer! Fortunately the services we needed were close at hand and, a few hours later and $900 poorer, we were back on the highway again.

Not long after, however, we came upon an accident scene involving a large transport truck. As the traffic control person eased us past the scene we saw what was left of the truck being readied for removal, and it was evident that someone else’s journey had begun with a  much more serious incident.

Accident 1

Accident 2

Because of the delays, we didn’t cover much mileage our first day, but ended up spending the night in a small municipal campground along the Similkameen River. Instead of dwelling on the day’s unpleasant aspects, we said a prayer for the safety of the driver, gave thanks for our own, and opened our eyes to the view from our trailer’s window.

We were reminded that whatever life brings, there are still joys to be discovered in the blessings that surround us if we turn our eyes towards the Creator.

RV View

RV View 2

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.”

Hebrews 12:2

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“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

Words & Music: Hel­en H. Lem­mel, 1922

Music Video

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A new day dawning…

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Sun Glow

I’m not usually up early. Dawn isn’t my time to shine. But from my sleeplessness the stillness of a dewy Monday morning draws me, and I quietly slide open the patio door and slip outside. The deck boards are cool under my bare feet and I tug my robe closer in the early chill. Birds are just beginning their morningsong, greeting the sun with birdy chirps from hidden perches deep in the trees. A hummingbird buzzes past for his first guzzle of the day.

Hummer

Mixed with the happiness of visiting family, there is a wistfulness to this new day… a stray reminder that tugs from the darkness. A praise song from yesterday’s worship service bubbles to mind and soothes in the silence:

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name *

Whether it’s another new week, a brand new day, a fresh new moment — or all three — the newness allows for starting over. Today’s beginning is not like yesterday’s or tomorrow’s but is a now opportunity for which to be thankful.

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

.Budlit

In the glow of this Monday morning I find a sturdy beauty. The day will burst open whether the world is ready for it or not, and there is blessing in that continuity.

FushiaI will settle into more writing later today, but not now. I tiptoe back inside and slide the door closed. The warmth of my bed beckons and I’m going to cuddle down for another two hours. When the rest of the household awakens I will join them, refreshed and ready to welcome the joy of today.

But first I’ll need to withstand the temptation to warm my chilly feet on my sleeping hubby’s backside!

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*10,000 Reasons

(Matt Redman)