Bloom Where You Are Planted

The sidewalks were pink with cherry blossom snow.  I could smell the fragrance of newly mowed grass, mingled with the sweet aroma of springtime blossoms.  The seagulls screeched their welcome to me as I walked towards the shoreline and embraced the full view of the ocean, the waves lapping in rhythmic cadence to the beating of my heart.  I was home.  Well, the home of my childhood at least.

Several weeks before the travel bans and the Covid-19 season of isolation hit us all, I had left my wintry “home” in Alberta, to come to Vancouver Island for a week-long stay.  Had I known what we would be facing when we returned home from the Island, I likely would have fretted and not enjoyed this brief sojourn.  Thankfully, we were blissfully unaware of the growing pandemic looming just over the horizon so we thoroughly enjoyed our trip, drinking in the beauty and familiarity all around us.  Truth be told, I have been a prairie girl far longer than an island girl, having lived in the Calgary area most of my adult life.  Still, whenever I have had opportunity to visit Victoria and travel up and down the Island, I always feel like I am experiencing a homecoming of sorts.  The Island is where I spent my childhood, my teen years, and three years of university before I married the love of my life and returned to Calgary to settle permanently.

I have been a landlubber in Alberta since 1979, raising my family, and enduring the long, harsh winters there.  The getaway to visit parents, friends and family on Vancouver Island has become an almost yearly trek.  It is our annual reprieve from the cold of February and March in Alberta, to embrace Spring in all its glory there on the Island.  I drink in all the green, the budding trees, the crocuses and daffodils that grow like weeds everywhere I look.  I want the sights and smells to imprint themselves on my psyche, so I can recall them vividly when I again return to my Albertan home still in the throes of winter.

Last year, we did not go to the Island.  In April last year I was experiencing a myriad of strange aches and pains that was eventually diagnosed as endometrial cancer.  Spring was all but forgotten as I fought and battled up to Christmas.  During the darkest of those days, when the battle seemed almost overwhelming, I wasn’t sure I would ever experience another spring.  I felt the icy fingers of winter engulf me, even in the heat of summer.  I tried to remain positive, leaning on God for strength through the ordeal of chemo.  Always looking towards the finish line, when I could declare the battle over, I found comfort thinking about how I would embrace life after cancer.  The first item on my “to do” list, was to plan a trip to the Island.

Wonderment.

It’s the best way to describe how I felt throughout that week on Vancouver Island.  Wonderment at experiencing Spring in all its glory there, but also wonderment at being fully alive, fully in the moment, battle-weary, but overwhelmingly thankful to be thriving, not just surviving once again!

That feeling persists.

Coming home to wintry Alberta, I didn’t complain about leaving the green of Spring there on the Island even when I saw the white drifts of snow piled up in our driveway.  I was home.  The break from winter had been refreshing, but the familiarity and peacefulness I feel here, even being in the last grips of winter chill, warms my heart like nothing else.  I remind myself that I must bloom where I am planted.  I must bloom, survive, thrive, and embrace life for as many days, weeks, and years that God gives me.

I can’t forget that.

Even in the midst of this Covid isolation, forced quarantine, and my inability to venture out because of my compromised immunity, I remind myself that this season will pass eventually.  I long to hug on my loved ones, and my arms ache to cuddle my grandbabies once again.  Still, I continue to stay positive.  I must enjoy each day as a gift from God no matter what circumstances lay before me.  I must continue to bloom, to look to the future, and be thankful.

After all, I praise God every day that I can bloom at all!

Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes.  A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner.  Readers may connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and at lynndove.com   

*This post was originally published on InScribe Writers Online.

Posted in Canadiana, Family Life, Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | 3 Comments

What Day Is This?

As the snow fell heavily yesterday here in Alberta, blanketing everything in white once again, I couldn’t help but think that this was our 106th day of January! I actually laughed out loud when I heard officials had placed fire bans on 60% of the province, in an effort to circumvent human-caused forest fires during the Covid-19 pandemic. We like to be overly cautious here in Alberta, but with snow starting to drift in our driveway, this latest precaution struck me as a little over-the-top.

It’s been over a month since we all went into lock-down. There seems to be some success in “flattening the curve” as health and political leaders like to say. There are fewer cases of people diagnosed with Covid-19, and thankfully there were no virus-related deaths recorded yesterday in the province. The snow has likely helped with people staying home to stop the spread of this virus, but as officials point out daily, it is imperative we stay the course even when the weather improves. My son-in-law-to-be said in response to those who may be restless to get back to normal activities right away, “The curve is flattening: we can start lifting restrictions now = the parachute has slowed our rate of descent; we can take it off now.” Good analogy! If government officials relax the social/physical distancing rules too soon, we will have a second wave of infection. Best to just tough it out now.

Easier said than done!

I woke up this morning having no idea what day it was. My calendar used to be filled with activities, appointments, coffee chats with friends, family gatherings, date nights with my sweetie, and now it’s completely blank. It’s weird.

I force myself to get up the same time every morning, make my bed, and after my morning devotions, set a goal to do at least one thing productive during the course of the day. My Covid-cleaning spree continues. I pace myself because I want something to do each day. The other day it was cleaning by hand my self-cleaning oven. Seriously, every closet, cupboard, and drawer in my house has been emptied, sorted out, and re-organized so well it would make Marie Kondo proud. My husband hasn’t retired yet, but has almost completed all the projects he had planned to do in his retirement years. I’ve started thinking up make-work projects for him to do just to keep him occupied. The other day he ripped out a closet in our bedroom that has needed remodelling for over twenty years…’nuff said.

We have binge-watched all the Star Trek series, listened to online sermons on YouTube, discovered all the Carol Burnett shows on Amazon Prime, and finished The Crown on Netflix. We have overdosed on what the networks still refer to as “Breaking News”. I come down the stairs each morning to find my husband already parked in front of his computer.

“Good morning,” I say. “ What’s up?”

“It’s all over the news,” he looks bored. “There’s a virus going ‘round.”

“ Anything else going on in the world?” I say in response, replaying our game each day.

“ Nope.” He says.

And it’s true.

Locally, there are no more sports scores to report, no concerts to review. No Olympics, no parades, no special events to cover. Here in Alberta, despite the fresh snow, all ski hills are closed, provincial and national parks too. Campgrounds, playgrounds and fairgrounds are all closed. Schools, libraries, recreation centres, gyms, pools, and museums are empty. Businesses are shuttered, and grocery store shelves are bare. It is our new normal.

If I focus on all the turmoil in the world today because of this pandemic I will spiral into depression. We are told by health experts to guard our mental health during this time of isolation. I understand that. It is important for me to turn off the news sometimes and immerse myself in God’s Word instead. In our ever-changing world, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I know God is in control despite what the circumstances may look like in the world today. I have learned that God sometimes places me in out-of-control situations just to teach me that He’s in control.

I am sure there will be many lessons He will teach me as we journey through this time together. I pray for a teachable spirit, and a willingness to follow wherever He leads me. Amen?

Amen!

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Cancel Easter?? No way!

I blanched when the reporter asked the question.  “Should we just cancel Easter?”  Cancel Easter??   It was the most ludicrous question I had heard since this Covid_19 crisis had hit us.  I suppose her intent was to get some clarification from our federal health minister about how to go about celebrating Easter when we all must continue to social distance ourselves from one another, but it was obvious by his surprised expression that her question had caught him off guard as well.  In the last couple of days leading up to Good Friday, we have been told repeatedly that we should celebrate Easter and Passover, but that we must do so by meeting online rather than in person.  It is still mandatory that we continue to keep physical distancing so we can stop the spread of Covid_19.  I had to laugh later that day when a little boy asked an online question to government officials whether or not the Easter Bunny would still be able to come.  Both the Ontario Premier and the Quebec Premier in response said that the Easter Bunny is considered an “essential service”.  The Quebec Premier also said the Tooth Fairy was also on the list of essential services.  I suppose if the virus lasts well into the fall that the Great Pumpkin and Santa Claus will also be added to that list.

It has been almost four weeks since our Canadian government mandated that all Canadians should stay home to save lives.  For me, with a compromised immunity, I have followed that mandate to the letter.  My husband has done the grocery shopping while I stayed at home.  Hand-washing has become second-nature to us both, and we have only socialized with our children using video conferencing.  Our church meets online on Sundays, our small Bible study group meets virtually as well.  I have only ventured out during this forced isolation to get my monthly B-12 shot from my local pharmacist and to go for a couple of drives with my husband.  I miss hugging on my kids and grandbabies, thankful each day when they post a picture on social media of how they are doing as they are also in forced isolation.

Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, our Pastor delivered a poignant sermon on Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem marking the beginning of the most important week in human history.  Here is the link to his sermon if you would like to hear it.  https://youtu.be/RjFV7e06XTs

We will be celebrating Easter a little differently this year.  In previous years, my husband and I have participated in our small town’s “Cross Walk”, where all the churches of our community gather together to walk the Stations of the Cross along the main street of Cochrane.  Several people carry the large, wooden cross as we sing hymns, read scripture and finally end up at the Cenotaph where the Cross is raised and a white piece of fabric is draped over the cross braces.  On Easter Sunday, the white fabric is replaced with a purple one signifying Jesus’ Resurrection.  This year, there will be no Cross Walk, respecting the mandate to not congregate in a group larger than fifteen due to the Covid_19 pandemic.

In previous years, I would prepare an Easter feast, a turkey dinner, and all my children would gather around the table.  Resurrection Eggs would be displayed for the grandchildren to open.  A great way for them to hear the Easter story in an interactive way.  We had planned to have an Easter Egg hunt here at the Ponderosa for the four grandkids, but that was before Covid_19 forced us to change all our plans.  This year, my husband and I will share a quiet, Easter meal on Saturday, just the two of us.  Our children will not be gathered with us, but in their own separate homes.  We plan on dropping off Easter chocolate treats on their doorsteps.  We will blow them kisses, and call to them from a safe distance, all the while longing to take them all up in our arms and tell them how much we love them.

This Easter Sunday, our church body will meet online rather than in person, as we have done now over these many weeks.  It will be strange not to greet one another in person and say, “He is Risen!” and have them respond in turn, “He is Risen Indeed!”  Instead, my husband and I will sit by the T.V. and listen to our Pastor’s sermon, and participate in the Lord’s Supper in our home.  We’ve been told to ensure we have the “elements” (juice, crackers) ready to partake in them at the invitation.  Social distancing may force us to change the way we might celebrate Easter this year, but the impact of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection remains the same today, tomorrow and throughout eternity:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  (John 3:16-17)

Easter cannot be cancelled.  In fact, I am praying that this year the Good News of Jesus Christ will be shared more boldly throughout the world than in previous years.  I pray as people plan to stay connected but apart at Easter, that families will be forever impacted as they ponder upon the Greatest Story ever told.  Read Matthew 26-28; Mark 15-16; Luke 22-24 and John 17-20.

I would love to hear how you celebrate Easter this year.  Feel free to leave a comment.  I wish all my readers a very Happy Easter and praying for your health and safety in the weeks and months ahead!

 

 

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