Blown Away!

I’m sitting here at my computer and the Chinook wind is whistling outside!  The soffit on the roof is being peeled back and is blowing across the property to never be seen again.  We just spent a tidy sum on fixing our roof from the last wind storm, and looks like we’ll be replacing eavestroughs and soffiting next.  *sigh*

We knew that the winds here at the Ponderosa would be brisk at times.  We live right in that special corridor close enough to the foothills where the Chinook winds gain their ferocity by skipping over the Rockies towards our homestead.

What are Chinooks, you ask?

Chinook winds – also known as Foehn winds in other parts of the world – are a type of warm, dry wind that occur on the downward slope of a mountain when warm air has lost its moisture.

In Canada, the winds originate from the Pacific Coast. Cool as they blow up the Canadian Rockies, they warm significantly as they drop down the eastern slopes, freeing us from the grip of winter weather and “snow eating” the white stuff in their path.


Source: Weather Network

For the most part, I love Chinooks!  The temperature rises significantly, today it’s supposed to be close to 10 degrees Celcius, but the wind wrecks havoc at times.  We have a favourite expression here: “If it’s not tied down here, it will blow to Airdrie!”  (That’s a town about 45 km. east of us.)  That’s where my soffiting is headed now…

Chinooks also have a tendency to cause migraines because of the barometric rise and falls that accompany the weather phenomenon.  Although some say that’s just a myth, tell that to my many friends, including myself, who can clock the progress of a Chinook by the headaches we experience before, after, and during the storm.  When I was a young mom and ran my own Preschool, I could also tell when a Chinook was on its way by the way my children reacted prior to and right after the winds came and went.  I don’t know what it is about Preschoolers but they have a sixth sense when a Chinook is on its way and their moods, tears and energy levels reflect how nasty the winds will be.  Another myth?  Trust me, it’s no myth!

Chinooks are a constant reminder to me that we have so little control over the weather.  I have never experienced a hurricane but these 100 km./hr. Chinook winds do pack a wallop.  We have experienced flooding in Calgary during the spring melt in June, and I have witnessed tornadoes in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  We’ve had golf-ball sized hail here and we have marveled at the spectacular thunderstorms in summer.  These weather events always remind me that we are small and insignificant and powerless to stop what insurance agencies call these “acts of God“.

This term: “act of God” has been around since the 13th century, but now is considered a legal term which describes a natural hazard outside human control, such as an earthquake or tsunami, for which no person can be held responsible.  Personally, I’ve never liked the term because we tend to blame God whenever bad things happen to us.  That’s not right.  Instead, we should be in awe of the power and might of an Almighty God, Who can bend the weather to His Will, and we should praise God for His Provision during the storms of life.  (see also this article: “Does God Control the Weather?”)

So, as I say farewell to yet another soffit piece sailing east to Airdrie, I will lift up another prayer to the One Who knows my anxious heart during these Chinooks.  The winds may blow but I will not be shaken!




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Christmas Traditions

The look on his face was priceless!  Normally my grandson, Paxton has a wide grin that lights up his whole face, but this expression was a new one entirely.  Perched precariously on the lap of “Santa”, Paxton looked absolutely terrified!  When my daughter-in-law sent us the picture, we howled with laughter.  Pax’s face was shriveled like a troll’s, eyes wide with apprehension, his mouth all pouty with lips pursed.  His expression contrasted greatly with the huge grin on his brother’s Atti’s face, who was immensely enjoying his first visit with Santa.

It has become a family tradition: the annual pictures with Santa.  I can’t say my children really enjoyed the experience when they were kids, and from the look on Pax’s face this year, the grandchildren may not be too thrilled with the visit with the Jolly ‘Ole Elf either.  Still, as parents, we come to cherish those pictures as they mark time and bring remembrances of Christmases past.

When we moved onto the Ponderosa in 1994, my daughter and son were 10 and two years old respectively.  Our new home just begged to be decked out for our first Christmas there, and my husband was adamant we start a new tradition to have a real tree in our living room.  We’d had artificial ones up until then.  My husband braved the -30 C. temperatures to pick out the “perfect” tree, while I stayed at home with the children and awaited his return.  He had many misadventures bringing the tree home, and he was cold, cranky and not feeling the warmth of Christmas spirit, when he finally dragged the tree into the living room for me to decorate.  Unfortunately, I took one look at the tree and took an instant dislike to it.  It may have been tall, but the big Albertan Jack Pine had few useable branches to hang my collection of ornaments.  To make matters worse, as soon as the tree started to thaw out, the sap started to fall from it like a sticky rain shower.  It was then we discovered I was allergic to the pine, when I broke out in hives and could hardly breathe.  I couldn’t decorate the tree, just going near it, made me sneeze, so my husband donated the tree to our seminary down the hill, and the next day we bought a new artificial tree.

Over the years I’ve decorated not one, not two, not three, but FOUR artificial trees in the house.  I have downsized to two trees since the kids have moved out, one tree in the entranceway, and one in the living room, because,…well…I had to stop the insanity of putting up four trees!  My husband, in particular, loves the house decorated.  His sole task is stringing Christmas lights on the trees and putting the angels on top of them, and then leaves me with the rest of decorating.  I don’t mind.  I may bah-humbug the process initially knowing it is a huge amount of work, but when it’s done I really do feel in a Christmas spirit.

My kids do not like rice pudding.  My husband is not a big fan of it either, but every Christmas Eve I dutifully make a large batch of it and place one whole blanched almond somewhere in it.  When we have finished our turkey dinner, everyone is ready for the rice pudding.  The object is to find the almond, by eating all the pudding.  If someone has the almond, they have to stay silent, and keep the almond in their mouth until everyone else is done.  The one who has the almond gets the “almond gift”, which is usually a box of chocolates.  (My son said one year when he won that it was the reward to wash down the taste of the rice pudding.)

I suppose all families have some traditions we adhere to regardless of whether or not they are whole-heartedly appreciated.  We embrace and cherish the memories that are made with all the comical photos with Santa, the over-decorating, and even the much-maligned rice pudding.  All are necessary to the Dove Christmas celebrations.  We know that to be true because in our family at the heart of every Christmas tradition is a meaningful experience.

My favourite tradition at Christmas is my husband reading the Christmas Story (Matthew 1:18-2:23) to the children.  They know the story by heart, so my husband likes to throw in a silly phrase or word to see if they are truly paying attention or just concentrating on the presents waiting to be opened under the tree.  It is fun for the kids, but we all recognize that it is the most important part of our Christmas celebrations.  The telling of the story reminds us all that if it were not for the Birth of Jesus Christ, there would be no Christmas!  He is God Incarnate, Who left His Heavenly Throne to come to us as a Baby for the sole purpose of being our Saviour!  Christmas, with all of our family traditions, would just be an ordinary day if we were to exclude Jesus from the celebrations.  HE IS the REASON for the SEASON!


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Do Not Feed the Trolls

It is not something I like to start the day reading.  Someone posted a nasty comment on my blog.  I suppose I should expect some criticism once in a while, but most people are generally very encouraging so it is surprising and hurtful when someone lashes out just to be mean.  It’s also particularly disheartening when they claim to be a Christ follower at the same time.

Just so my readers know, I read EVERY comment and I will screen out some that are offensive, or malign my Lord, or are spam.  If someone leaves a comment that gives constructive criticism, and does so in love, I allow it.  There have been times I have misspelled a word, or used incorrect grammar.  It pains me to admit I make mistakes like that but I appreciate my readers catching those kinds of errors and letting me know about them.  A few people have challenged me on my interpretation of Scripture and my voicing opinions they did not agree with.  We have had good discussions, all done with civility and respect.  The people who really disappoint me are those who malign my character, who criticize my writing without cause, or challenge whether or not I am Christian.  I believe they do so with the sole intention of just being hurtful to me.  What gives them the right?

The internet has become a breeding ground for faceless, nameless bullies (Trolls) who enjoy ridiculing and denigrating others online.  I recently read an article about “Trolls” and their inappropriate behaviour online.  “We define trolling as deceptive and disruptive online behaviour,  which typically involves posting inflammatory and malicious comments to deliberately provoke and upset people.”  Celebrities are most often targeted by these trolls because they have large audiences (followers), who will read comments and the troll gets the attention, negative or otherwise, that they crave.

“Psychological studies show trolls tend to be male, show higher levels of psychopathy traits — low levels of empathy, guilt and responsibility for their actions — and higher levels of sadism traits, the enjoyment of causing others physical and psychological pain.  Trolls are also motivated by what psychologists call “atypical social rewards”.

“Generally, people are motivated by creating a positive social environment (typical, positive social rewards).

But trolls show higher motivation to achieve negative social rewards, like creating social mayhem and disruption.”

Christians are targeted by trolls everyday, and as one article stated, “It’s not always easy to “love thy hateful commenter as thyself.”

I suppose I understand to some extent that a person who does not share my Christian beliefs would want to attack me online.  It is a form of persecution, and I can expect that.  Scripture does state clearly that those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour are walking in darkness. (John 8:12)  In other words, until they step out of the “darkness”, they will not understand the “light” until it is revealed to them.  Although disconcerting to read those inflammatory comments by those people, it should not stop me from writing about and sharing my faith here on Journey Thoughts.  What distresses me even more are the Christian Trolls, who cause division and unrest within the community of believers by attacking other believers!  The problem with those kinds of nefarious assaults leveled at other Christians is that we have disregarded Christ’s golden rule to “Love One Another.”  (John 13:34)  When a Christian comments on another Christian’s blog, website, book etc., for the purpose of sowing division and disunity within the Body of Christ, that is SIN.  Let’s call it what it is!

We can have productive, theological debate with our fellow Christians without resorting to accusing them of heresy, demeaning their character, or saying they are not “true” Christ Followers.  I am reminded of the Scripture passage: Matthew 7:3-5  “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

After reading several articles on the psychology of trolling behaviour, and how to handle trolls, I come back again to the article by Evita March:

  1. “If trolls are rewarded by creating social mayhem, then it’s best to not feed the trolls. Try not to reinforce their behaviour by reacting. If the troll knows they have succeeded in disrupting the social environment in some way, this will reinforce their behaviour
  2. Psychopathy is generally associated with a lack of a fear of punishment. So, punishing the trolling behaviour might also prove ineffective
  3. Reward good behaviour. By rewarding the good behaviour, we will see more of it.”

So, taking that advice this morning, I deleted the offensive comment and immediately prayed for the person who made the comment.  I know that “hurt people, hurt people” and I shouldn’t take what some people say personally.  It may not be easy to “love the hateful commenter as thyself”, but I’m going to try.




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