Sunday, October 20, 2013

Life Lessons

The other day I was revisiting one of my old scrapbooks and I came across a layout that I had done a few years ago about things I believe.  Not religious beliefs, but just beliefs about life in general that I've learned as a result of things that I have gone through.  The layout was based on a list that I created for a blog challenge at, and is still one of my favourite layouts.  But in reading the layout, I realized that there were some additional beliefs that I needed to document.  Here, then, is my new and improved list of life lesson beliefs.

I believe...
 - that chocolate is good for what ails you.
 - that the recipe for a perfect day involves a blue and sunny sky, an open highway and good tunes on the radio.
 - that one can never have too many purses, too many pairs of shoes or too many friends.
 - that the storms of life will pass, and that the sun will always follow them.
 - that even the darkest cloud has a silver lining.
 - that we should all cultivate the ability to laugh at ourselves.
 - that the best part of each new day is that there is one.
 - in creating my own happiness.
 - that things will always look brighter after a good night's sleep.
 - that every once in a while we should all take time to curl up with our favourite pillow and blankie for a nap.
 - in buying myself flowers for no reason.
 - that getting out a box of crayons and a colouring book is highly therapeutic.
 - that faith and a prayer will take you a long way.
 - that miracles are all around us, all the time - we just have to open our eyes to see them.
 - that before we can forgive others, we must first learn to forgive ourselves.
 - that you should dance whenever you feel the urge and sing like no one's listening.
 - in being thankful for all that I have.
 - that we should live like each day is our last.
 - in "happily ever after".
 - that everyone needs a teddy bear to hug when they're having a bad day.
 - that we should treat everyone around us the way we ourselves would like to be treated.
 - that no problem is so great that it cannot be overcome with God's help.
 - in taking time to stop and smell the roses.
 - that life is what we make it.
 - that we need to take more time to enjoy the simple things in life.
 - that we should enjoy each moment we have with our loved ones.
 - that there is no mistake we can make that is unforgivable.
 - that everything that happens to us happens for a reasons, and that even the bad things that happen in our lives can teach us something if we are willing to learn.
 - that angels walk among us.
 - that we are much stronger than we ever truly give ourselves credit for.
 - that the true measure of greatness is not in the number of accolades you have received, but rather in the obstacles that you overcome along the way.
 - that everyone needs someone or something to come home to.
 - that we should never be afraid to ask for what we need.
 - that sometimes doing the thing you fear the most will pay off in unbelievable ways.
 - that the  best is yet to come.

Until next time,

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Thousand Little Things

On the "Charlotte's Web" soundtrack, Sarah McLachlan sings about ordinary miracles.  Amy Grant and Rebecca Lynn Howard both sing about simple things.  It's usually the simple things in life that bring us the most pleasure, but it's also the simple things that we most often take for granted.

"When I'm worried, and I can't sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep."
~ Bing Crosby, from "White Christmas" ~

A couple of years ago, I started reading a book by Ann Voskamp called "One Thousand Gifts" (check it out here: that chronicled her mission to create a gratitude journal of 1,000 gifts or blessings in her life.  The author's writing style wasn't to my taste and I didn't finish the book, but I was intrigued by the idea of a journal of 1,000 blessings.  So I decided to give it a try.  I'm only on about 150.  But I found that as I went through this process, I started to spend my days actively looking for things to add to my list.  And the more I looked, the more I found. 

Recently, my life has taken an unexpected turn, and the changes have gotten me thinking about the many, many things I have in my life to be thankful for.  So I've decided to start a new list, and this time I'm determined to make a list of 1,000 blessings.  Want to join me? Good! Because I have a challenge for you.  Leave me a comment below with a list of 10 things you're thankful for, and I will enter you in a draw for a prize package, which will include a beautiful journal to make your own list of 1,000 gifts.  Simple, right?  The draw will take place on November 1st.  Good luck!

Until next time,

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Light In The Darkness

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  ~James 1:2-3~

As many of you are aware, in April 2000 I underwent a kidney transplant after living for 16 years with chronic renal failure.  I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones.  Unlike many people, I had someone in my life who was willing and able to be a living donor for me: my mom.  I didn't have to go on dialysis or be placed on the national waiting list in order to receive a new kidney.  The surgery was a remarkable success: my new kidney started to work before the surgeon even finished sewing the incision closed.  The nurses who cared for me after the surgery were amazed by the output my body was producing with the help of the new kidney.  And even once I was home from the hospital, the nurses in the transplant clinic who were monitoring me were astonished by how quickly I recovered.  Typically after a kidney transplant, the recipient is required to go for daily blood work and clinic visits every day for the first 30 days, weekends and holidays included.  I was discharged on a Monday.  That weekend, I only had to go ONE day for blood work and clinic (although they did forget to tell me that until the following Monday when I complained about the fact that I had driven all the way to the hospital, only to find out that the weekend nursing staff had no requisitions for me).  The following weekend, I didn't have to go either Saturday or Sunday, and by the week after that they cut my blood work and clinic appointments back to Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I was told that this is extremely rare.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  ~Proverbs 3:5-6~

Fast forward to August 29th.  That was the day that my life took an extremely unexpected turn.  I was told that my kidney is failing.  My doctor estimates that it is now only functioning at about 20%.  I suspect that this failure may be part of the reason why I have been sick almost constantly since the beginning of May.  I think my body may simply be worn out by the strain of having to work with an almost non-functioning kidney and can't fight off infections anymore.  The next treatment option is likely going to be dialysis, although my dad wants to be tested to see if he is a compatible donor for a second transplant.  As part of my "new" life, I've been put on a very restrictive renal diet: low protein, low sodium, low phosphorous and low potassium.  You know what that leaves that I can eat? Not much! My meals consist now of fresh meats (they can be frozen, as long as they were bought fresh - pre-frozen fish, meats and seafoods have a lot of phosphorous and potassium additives added to them), white rice/pasta/bread and some fruits and vegetables.  I have to pretty much make everything from scratch.  Have I ever mentioned that I don't particularly like cooking? Here's the weird thing though: I'm actually really enjoying it! Adapting to my new diet is forcing me to be creative, and I've always loved things that force me to be creative.  And if sticking to this diet will help prolong the time I have left with this kidney, then I'll do it.  I would live on rice and water if it would help.  I do miss bacon though...

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." ~Psalm 28:7~

"The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?" ~Psalm 27:1~

So I guess you could say that I am in a state of transition right now.  I don’t know what the outcome of all this is going to be, or when anything is going to take place. But either way, I’ve made my peace with the direction that I’ve suddenly found my life heading in, and I say “Bring it on!” Ideally, I would rather do the second transplant, but I’m realistic, and I know that this time around that may not be what God has in store for me.

I think one of the things that makes it easier to deal with this unexpected turn is that this is not really new for me.  I've been down this road before, and some of the scenery is familiar.  And I know that this time, with God's help, I am strong enough to get through this.  I’m so far removed from the scared 22 year-old kid that thought her life was over in 1999 at the idea of needing a transplant that I don’t think I would recognize her anymore if I met her on the street. I was an absolute emotional wreck - convinced that God had played a giant cosmic joke on me, and it wasn’t very funny. But sometimes what seems to be the very worst thing that could ever happen to you turns out to be one of the very best. That’s what happened to me. Everything that I went through before my transplant and throughout the course of the past 13 and a half years has made me so much stronger emotionally and spiritually. And now as I get ready to undertake this new journey, I’m finding that I can do so without fear. There’s a reason why I’m going through this, and although I don’t pretend to understand what it is, I’m willing to embrace whatever is ahead because I can’t help but believe that something wonderful is going to come from it. I know it’s not going to be an easy road, but I’m comforted by the thought that I’m not walking it by myself.  My faith provides a light in the darkness for me to follow, and something to cling to when the going gets tough, and sometimes that's everything.

"I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me."  ~Philippians 4:13~

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid of terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you." ~Deuteronomy 31:6~

I don’t know what your beliefs are, or if you call upon a Higher Power, but if you do can I ask that you remember my family and me once in a while? And if you’ve never considered it before, please think about becoming an organ donor and let your families know your wishes. With my first transplant, I was lucky enough to have someone in my life able to be a donor. Not everyone has that luxury. Thousands of Canadians are added to waiting lists for donor organs every year, and far too many of them die waiting a second chance at life. Be someone’s second chance – be an organ donor.

Until next time,


Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Colours of Fall

Of all the seasons, I think fall just might be my favourite.  Sure, there are things that I like about spring, summer and winter, but not as many as fall.  Fall for me is the gorgeous coloured leaves and the crisp air.  Fall is cuddling under my duvet on a chilly night.  Fall is digging out my favourite sweaters, boots and flannel pajamas.  Fall is Thanksgiving and Halloween and the knowledge that Christmas is on its way.  Fall is hot apple cider and pumpkin pie and roast turkey and too much candy.  Fall is a return to teaching Sunday School.  No doubt about it - fall is definitely my favourite season!

Yesterday I took my camera for a walk around our yard and captured some of the sights of fall.  Here are just a few...

Fall roses

High-bush cranberries

An apple on our apple tree

Pears (this is the first year our pear tree has EVER produced fruit - and we've had it for about 15 years!)

Birch tree

Poplar trees

Happy Fall!
Until next time,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Confronting Your Fears

I'm afraid of heights. Actually, I guess it's not the height I fear as much as falling from it...I have no problem with being up high as long as it's closed in and I know I can't fall, but I can't climb more than three or four steps up a ladder without breaking out into a cold sweat.

Last week, while I was in Mexico for my friend Shannon's wedding, I did something I never in my wildest dreams I would ever have imagined myself doing...I rappelled 25 meters into a cenote (an underground cave filled with water). I didn't really want to do it. In fact, the whole time I was standing there watching the others do it, I was desperately trying to figure out how to get myself out of it. But eventually there was no avoiding it. I reluctantly stepped forward and let our guide attach the rope to my harness.  Leaning back off the edge of that platform in preparation to start my descent was the most terrifying thing I've ever done. Nothing will give a person afraid of falling the shakes quite as much as deliberately putting themselves in a position to fall will, after all. After I had talked myself into taking my feet off that platform, and I was hanging there on that rope, I suddenly realized that in taking that step off the platform, I had also done something much bigger...I had confronted one of my biggest fears, and not only that, I HAD WON! After that, the only thing left for me to do was get myself to the bottom. That was the easy part, because that I could control. Although...I was still pretty relieved to feel the first touch of the water on my feet and realize it was over.

This whole experience has been incredibly liberating. I've learned that, although there are things in life that may scare the h*ll out of me, if I'm brave enough to face them head on, I will come out on top. That being said, I don't see myself going home and climbing tall ladders anytime soon.

Until next time,