Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Extending your table....

Ernie and I with Peter and Jessy
For our first Christmas in Guadalajara our children came, and that was wonderful.  Our second Christmas here, they also came, which was an amazing gift.  During our third Christmas we were alone, without family from home.  However, we spent it with our Mexican family.

This year, Peter and Jessy came for a visit, and that is so very special.  They began their holiday alone in Puerta Vallarta.  Then we went to get them and spent 3 lovely days in Bucerias (close to Puerto Vallarta).

It has been so wonderful to have fun with great friends.  We have walked many a kilometre, both at the ocean, and here in GDL.  We have seen the sights, talked about our lives, and eaten plenty.

Having a Chef in the house is not good for the waistline! But it has been so very delicious!

We decided to invite some friends for Christmas dinner on the 23rd.  Together we planned the meal, but Peter was most definitely in charge! He worries not only about what is being served, and how it will taste, but how it will look! (I mostly hope my meals are edible!) While he didn't give himself a 10, our guest most certainly did.
Right to Left: Jordana, Ricardo, Lalo and Carmen (a family) Us, Jessy and Peter, Karina
These are friends from the gym, and the good thing is that they speak English, so the fellowship was easy.

Here is a pictorial of our meal:

We started with appetizers; each one added something to the table.  We had a tuna mouse on crackers, cream cheese with a chilli jam, chips, little toasts with cheese and jam.  All very yummy.

Then, while our guests played table games, Peter and I headed to the kitchen to prepare dinner  We (mostly him instructing me) made creamy mashed potatoes, a roll of ham stuffed with cheese, topped with a cornflakes crusted chicken breast, gravy that was out of this world, deliciously sprinkled with red pepper pieces and the veggies were green beans and carrots in garlic butter.

We won't talk calories!

The dessert was home made oreo cookies topped with chocolate and raspberry sauce. Yum! Yum!

Alejandrina and I
Then I added a Mennonite tradition and make home made white gramma cookies to decorate.  They loved the decorating! This is something my own family has done at a gathering - gets very creative, and is lots of fun.  Both of the teenage girls are artistic so this was right up their alley.
It doesn't hurt that they taste great too!

Samples of the art
So while this event was over the top in its culinary art, one does not need to be a chef to extend their table.  Most cultures use food to offer friendship.  What one needs is an open heart filled with love for others.  This year, thanks to a friend who loves to share his gift in the kitchen, we had a WOW meal.  But a previous year I made everything myself and we had a lovely evening building relationships.  

Peter himself says their are many simple meals, appetizers, and desserts one can make to share with friends.  Food is a great way to build relationships.  It is less about the meal and more about who is around the table.  One should never be scared to extend their table because they can't cook; take out can be ordered.  Opening your home and your heart is what it is all about.  Life is about relationships, people, community. 


This was our Christmas Day dinner.  We made it Mexican: Carne Asada (basically barbecuing meat).  Then we made potatoes, corn with chilli and cream cheese, pico de gallo or salsa mexicana (a la Peter), avocado and Coca Cola in a glass bottle.  

We have consumed our fair share of calories ... but calories amongst friends don't count!

We trust you too shared your table with loved ones and enjoyed a Blessed Christmas.  And we wish you a wonderful New Year, from our table to yours!



















Wednesday, 20 December 2017

PV, Friends and R & R

Sunday morning we headed off to Puerta Vallarta to pick up Peter and Jessy Fehr, who had come out from Canada.

We will be spending 3 nights in a condo by the ocean and then headed back to Guadalajara.

It has been so nice to sit and just catch up and visit.  To share about our lives with each other, face to face.

We have walked many a kilometre together, up and down the beach, and on the malecón (boardwalk) in Puerto Vallarta.



We have cook breakfast together and enjoyed eating it on our balcony overlooking the ocean. It has been glorious to just relax together after some pretty crazy schedules. Rest is good for the soul.


To just 'be' with no pressure. We often take for granted the need for rest and relaxation.  We also forget how we can do that, what gives you that much needed rest.


We are looking forward to spending Christmas together.  Cooking dinner together.  Extending our table to others. And enjoying Guadalajara together.  Since they have both visited us before, they aso have met some of our friends and there are things they want to see.  It shall be a wonderful way to end the year.

 Then they will get on a bus, head back to Vallarta to catch their plane home...to the winter wonderland

  We want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas.  Let's remember the arrival of the Saviour of the World.

Emmanuel, God With Us.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Can washing dishes be cultural?

There are so many things I love about Mexico! There are many things they do differently than we Canadians would.  Some things I out-right laugh at, some things I smile at, and some things I just have to admit that I should adapt do.

Like, for instance, your basic stop sign.  I think that the sign without any word written would be understood.  It is not a yield, though often applied as such; it is not a go.  That it is often completely ignored here, makes me smile.  If one understands that just because there is a stop sign for everybody else, and that you have the right of way, does not mean that people will stop.  Deal with it!

However, I anticipate the stop sign being on the right hand side, about 7 feet off the ground? That is where I look, if there is one, I stop, if not, I go.  Guadalajara has a habit of putting the stop sign on the left hand sign, on a hydro pole, like about 10-12 feet in the air! Confusing!

I sometimes ask Ernie why he is stopping.  He stays, "because I have a stop sign."  Where? Yep, left hand side! Just makes me laugh. I guess its about finding a convenient place to 'pin it'.



Now, about washing dishes.  I like my Canadian way...a dishwasher! Not that every Canadian has one! But it would be the preferred way of doing dishes (Almost no one has one here, and, if they do, they don't use it). One person told me it was environmentally unfriendly.

I will broaden my perspective on this point, as I have lived in, or visited, more places than just Guadalajara, or even just Mexico.  I don't want to be dogmatic, but most Latin's that I know would not fill the sink with water, put the dishes in, and wash.  They actually find that rather disgusting. Rather they get a container (old margarine tub), add water and soap.  They also use a scrubber that is soapy.  They individually wash each item till the sink is full and then rinse.  It does not make a difference if there are a dozen things or a boat load.  Some even leave the water running the whole time.

Better? Worse? I like it. I don't know how to do dishes by hand if given a dish rag! But I would hands down prefer a dishwasher!



Always things to learn. One can always find areas to adapt to.  Old dogs can learn new tricks! Stop Sign can be seen on the left hand side...

So, Bible Study tonight, where we will celebrate some birthdays.  Thursday we have a class, then Ernie has a posada and I have a birthday breakfast.  Friday I have a birthday breakfast and we have a birthday party in the evening.  Life is about being, relationships and community.  God has blessed us with a great community.


Wednesday, 6 December 2017

First Christmas Party


Last Friday Night was the gym ladies Christmas party.  Pictured above are the ladies that remained, (a few had already left).  It was the largest turnout we have had thus far.

Once again the start time was 7 p.m.  I left the house just after 7:30, thinking holiday traffic would be crazy, which it was.  I was the second person to arrive! They began to slowly trickle in after 8 p.m.

Planning a party here is kind of crazy.  The host starts by picking a date and a rough time.  Then throws it out there, to see if there is interest.  Then come the boat load of texts about food and other such details.  I was otherwise occupied during the initial start of this. When I looked at my phone I had 250 messages!!

That said, it happened; there was lots of food, beverage and desserts.  People came on the date set, and more or less at the time set.  By Mexican standards, on time.  End time is always another issue.  When does a party end? I usually am in the first round of those leaving.  When I asked how long people stayed? The die hards usually last till 3 a.m.

They chose to do a Karaoke night again.  They just love that.  They all sign up early so they get a chance to sing.  I don't sign up and end up in the first round of singers!



I am glad I know one song well, and they are teaching me new ones so I can sing along.  What always shocks me is how unnecessary it is to know how to sing! They love it!  They are not embarrassed. 

It is just a good time.

 A lot of the songs everybody knows and joins in. Everybody is laughing, singing, and dancing. It is good clean fun. 


Oh, and they threw in a piñata 

As I said, this was the first party... the same host is throwing another one, but a breakfast one, for a more intimate group.  You see, the group pictured at the top is several groups mixed together. So, this Friday, a section of that group is having a breakfast Christmas party.  Then the other half of that group is having their breakfast party.  Where I had hoped that it would be just one party, all the groups together - nope.  It just turned into 3 instead of two. 

Oh well, tis the season... for friends and family.  For relationships.







Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Beauty

We are so blessed with where we live.  I say that, realizing that if I think about where I am from, I feel even more blessed.

Aside from the whole, living in Mexico thing.  I mean, we live right in front of a huge park.  When I go for a jog, the outside path if just under 5K.  It is a really lovely green space.

We often head out to the park for a walk, as it gets Ernie away from his computer and from sitting too much.

Last week we went with the precise intention of taking pictures to make a Christmas card.  Only to be told we weren't allowed to.  His reason? Professional picture taking was prohibited without a permit from the park office.

I guess we looked professional with the Canon camera and a tripod? Ernie wrote to the park and they apologized for the error.  They would give a clearer explication to their employees.

We headed out another day, this time without the canon camera, just our iPhones, and took more.  We had fun.  It was a beautiful day, the only kind Guadalajara has.  Here are some samples.



I think the pictures are both great.  We prepared for the above ones and just happened upon the bottom ones.  Gorgeous park.  God is creative and knows how to make a lovely day.




Christmas season is upon us.  Parties have begun.  I have one this Friday, ladies only.  One next Friday, ladies only.  And so it begins.  May we point others to the real reason for the season...Christ's birth...the arrival of our Saviour.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

A little this and a little that...

Life is full of ups and downs.  Every day has good in it and often times a little not so good.  I think many things are one or the other, based on one's attitude or perspective.  Let me share some ups and some downs.

Let me add here that I am constantly amazed at how I view things as a Canadian, and how Mexicans view things.  So, these ups and downs can also have a cultural component to them.

Firstly, relationships.  Mexicans have a more up close and personal view of friendships.  If you notice someone didn't show up to the gym, you text to check on them.  If someone puts a comment in the chat, a response is needed.  Even if it's just a thumbs up, or a happy face {My sons chat group was discussing how annoying all the thumbs up/likes were, and to just quit it}.  My personal view would be very similar.  Here, if you don't thumbs up/like at all, in a chat, they want to kick you out of the group for not participating!

But, while that whole thing bugs me, their view of relationships is much appreciated.  I am often amazed that people notice my absence and that they check on me.  I love the care they take to nurture their relationships.
Y might have noticed that I 'breakfast' a lot. A very common event here, because relationships matter.  So you call, you participate in the chats, you emoji everything ...

  

Next is a negative, which from my side of the car is all about attitude, Ernie's not so much. When we get into our car to head out to an event, to go to the grocery store, or even to the gym, we are driving in a city of 4-7 million! So needless to say, traffic is chaos. I once made the comment that they have no traffic norms here.  They say they do ... they just don't follow them! 

We never have an uneventful drive.  There is ALWAYS someone doing something crazy.  Right hand turn from the extreme left lane! Running a red.  Stopping in the middle of the road. Wrong way on a one way.  Never mind using your blinkers, or just normal courtesy. 

That said, if you make eye contact, asking to do some such crazy thing, or even just so they let you in, just hand gesture, no worries.  It's all good, no horn honking.  Crazy. 

Ernie tends to get agitated and talks to the passing vehicles.  He gets a little hot.  Attitude.  I must admit, he drives 80 % of the time and he is always in a hurry.  Not sure why, as you are NEVER late in Mexico!

Lastly, is parties or celebrations. This is a huge attitude and perspective thing.  I think its great that they celebrate everything.  They love to have fun.  There is always great food, live music, or karaoke. Laughter and good times being had. 



Now it may look like great fun, celebrating friendship with a birthday party.  But add the mariachi music - insert loud. The whole loud music thing can get overwhelming at times.  It can be hard to converse.  That is the negative side (did you come to converse or party?). The other side is, they all know all the songs, so it's sign-along. Dancing and singing. They can go all night. It is fun to watch.  I am trying to learn to sing along, but I've got a ways to go.



The other thing that for me is a little tough...I am a morning bird.  These things start at 8 p.m. and go till the next day, 1, 2, 3 in the morning.  I am not at my best at that time.  I try to choose people who are like me in this aspect, who leave early...like 1 a.m. ish.  

The last thing I love here, now, is that I found me a great hairdresser. His salon is my happy place!





Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Chiquiada

We arrived in Guadalajara in early January. Coming from Manitoba, in January! Let's just say, we thought we had arrived in paradise. Sunny, warm and not windy!

We would head to the park, to go for a walk, and found most everybody in jackets, toques, and even mittens! WHAT?

I was told that people from Guadalajara are 'chiquiado'.  This was further explained to me.  If it gets just a little warm, they start taking clothes off and complaining about how "HOT" it is.  Then, when it gets just a little cool (read cold), they start putting clothes on.  Their hot/cold meter is just a little wacky!

We are entering 'winter' in Guadalajara! As you can see from the weather app for the week! So if you head to any clothing store..it is filled with sweaters, jackets and even mittens and scarves.

I was wondering if I should buy a jacket as it goes down to plus 11 at night! That's cold!

They thought our children were crazy, the first time they came...shorts and flip flops...IN DECEMBER.

Now, having acclimatized to this wonderful climate...I admit...much to my kids embarrassment...that when it gets down to 12 in the evenings, I put on a thin sweater.  I feel it - it's cool.  But when I see them wearing down jackets, I shudder.  They have tried to sell me sweaters...really! I am itchy just thinking of wearing that at 26 above.

When I tell them that it's snowing at 'home'; they ask if it's cold.  Well, what's cold?! They think that Canadians stay inside all winter.  That we don't go out when it's minus 30.  They get a confused look on their faces when I tell them that my son turns his truck on with his cell phone so he never needs to get in a cold vehicle. Or that my mom has a heated floor, that you can be barefoot inside the house even when is minus 30.  Normal is relative, as is hot and cold!

Soon everybody will start putting out their Christmas decorations.  I often laugh. Snowmen abound.  Signs about snow days... ...reindeer... lots of cold decorations.  Many have only seen those things in pictures.

I remember when my cousins visited Steinbach from Australia and said Canada needed a disclaimer.  I was confused.  Then said that in every movie, when it snowed, everyone went outside to make a snowman.  Only to find out that the conditions for making a snowman are exact...that not ALL snow could be make into a snowman!

So I shake my head and say... 'chiquiados todos'.  I would say...I'm dreaming of a white Christmas...but not true.  I love my daily weather challenges. 

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Down Time in Nuevo Vallarta


This past weekend Ernie and I headed out to Nuevo Vallarta for two reasons... one was to relax, just the two of us, and the second one was to commemorate our 29th anniversary.  Not everybody makes it to 29 - so it is worth celebrating.  And what a view to do it by... ...

We stayed at an all inclusive, as I didn't want to cook, and it is just more relaxing.  We ate breakfast on the outside patio, supper in the various restaurants, and just relaxed.

The weather was hot, a little too humid, but hey, who's complaining?  Not I. Especially when I see the weather at 'home'.

Now, while we went to relax, our lives are always about people.  If you know Ernie well, add about a hundred to my number.  He can make friends on the elevator ride to the sixth floor!  He exchanges contact information wherever we go.

So, as you can well imagine, he made a few new acquaintances, and met up with old friends.  We had stayed at this same resort when our children came to visit.  Mike, our son, is very much like his father in this area.  Never met a person who couldn't become a friend.

It was nice to meet up with these friends, staff from the hotel, who we had all met prior to this visit.  For them to not only remember us but remember our kids...and smile!

To the right is Jiovany.  He is the supervisor at the hotel's restaurants, or the 'captain'.  On our first visit, we made friends with him (he is very similar to Ernie and Mike).  One night we had not signed up for supper. He said, no worries, come here and I will have a place for you.  He had set up a lovely table with rose petals, away from the other guests.

This year, we told him we would go for dinner in which ever restaurant he was in.  Then we told him we were celebrating our anniversary.  Once again, a table with flower petals covering it.  Our assigned waiter... his younger brother.

The other person we got to know was Suleica. She was/is a waitress.  She loved our boys because they were funny.  Every time she came for our beverage order, they would ask for 'agua de la llave' - tap water.  As a matter of fact when she saw us this weekend she asked about her 'primos' (cousins) - 'agua de la llave!'

The third friend left before we could get a photo of him - he was given time off as his wife was to give birth.  But he too, got a big smile when he saw us, and he asked about our kids.

I always say, treat everybody like royalty and they will have good memories of you.  Everybody is a potential friend.  A soul in need of a Saviour.  Make sure you bless every life you touch.  I at times forget that, as I am a little less of a people person.

The only drawback to this little trip ... the four hour drive to get there.  Half the way is okay, a 4 lane, divided road.  The last half is two lane, with bumper to bumper traffic.  If you get behind a slow truck or bus...patience is required.  This is something my husband is in short supply of.  Then one also has to watch out for the crazies who pull out to pass in a very dangerous area (most are).

I tell Ernie, don't miss the joy of the journey because you are too focused on arriving at the destination.  It is quite a lovely drive if you are not in a hurry.

As you can hear...he talks to the passing vehicles... ... :-)

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Sometimes you just gotta have fun...

Alejandra, Pati, and myself

Sunday was a time of just plain crazy mess fun! Every year ColorMeRad comes to Guadalajara and if a group goes, I go.  

See, I don't actually LOVE running but I enjoy doing things with people I love.  And, as you can see by the above photo, we have a lot of fun.


This is the group I ran with...John and Connie (who seem to enjoy running), Rick and Alejandra, Penny (they are all from Reimer's cell) plus Ale brought a cousin (who we had previously met) and a friend.  

The race is a short 5K, so its easy enough to run.  But they have several stations where they throw powdered paint at you and several where they have water pistols with coloured water. So you get wet and painted, as you can see by the picture.

We all started out together but we ended up running randomly, according to pace.  Then after tossing more paint at each other....

We headed out for more pictures, even posed with a bridal couple who were doing a photo shoot.  We ran after the couple and the photographers snapped pictures.  Fun.

They we headed out...out for breakfast.  

SO really the whole thing is about being together, having fun, and just enjoying one another.  Building friendships and community.


Just in case you were wondering...Ernie was there...but as the designated photographer...the whole dry paint/dusty air thing doesn't work for his allergies.  

We were celebrating our 29th year of marriage.  Fun anniversary date.

Actually we are headed to the ocean on Thursday for a weekend to get some much needed R & R.

Blessings.


Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Baptism

On Saturday afternoon, Dallas had the awesome privilege of baptizing a young man from his cell group.

His name is Juanca, and he has been a part of their group for quite some time.  It took him a while to make the decision to get baptized because he comes from a strong Catholic family.

In his testimony he shared that he was thankful for the strong faith his parents gave him and how he, as a young adult, decided he was an atheist.

Later he met the youth from Kleefeld EMC and Jesse Friesen.  These young people showed him a different faith and he was drawn to them.  Jesse and him spent a lot of time together and that friendship impacted him profoundly. Dallas has been discipling him and you can see a maturing faith in him.

This event was impacting on me.  To watch his parents struggle with the whole event, because they had baptized him as an infant.  They could not understand the need to be re-baptizd. They were struggling with whether he was turning from the Catholic church.  But I admire them for attending and supporting him.


I also was made to ponder, that what we ask our people to do here has much greater cost for them than for our own children.  I remember the celebration when our sons got baptized.  We were thrilled beyond belief.  These parents were crying, hurting, maybe even somewhat angry.  Juanca had to do a lot of explaining to his family, as to what and why he was doing this.  He was not sure if he would be accepted into their home later that day.

But, even with the possible consequences before him, he stood firm to his commitment and got baptized.  Please pray for the young man and the journey he has before him.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Certainties

While one chuckles at this sign, taxes are not necessarily funny. One might actually have an opposite feeling towards them.  Not only are they certain, they are yearly!

However, the first one brings with it opportunity. How so? Well, it gives you the opportunity to come alongside those who are mourning the loss of a loved one.

I think most people have experienced the loss of a loved one, or, at the very least, have come alongside someone who is mourning the loss of a loved one.

Death is experienced differently in different cultures. My reference for death, dying and funerals has mostly been in Canada.  I have been part of the vigil at the hospital watching a family member as they slowly pass on.  I have been a part of the funeral planning, the grieving, the hurting, the tears and all that death entails.

I have also gone to funerals where I have gone to offer support to a friend who has lost a loved one.  Come along side to share the burden of their grief.

What I have never stopped to appreciate is the way we do all this.  The unhurriedness of the process.  The time allowed to make decisions.  The simple fact of how much time we have to get it all done.

Since we have been here in GDL we have also had the opportunity to come alongside friends who have lost a parent, a grandparent, a spouse, a sibling, etc.

The process is so very different.  For example, last night at 10 p.m Ernie got a text informing him of the death of a friend's (from the gym) mother.  The implication is that you can (should) head over to the funeral home for the 'velorio' (wake).  Friends and family come together to sit with the family and grieve all night (12-24 hours).  Then today at noon was the mass for the funeral.

Everything happens quickly.  From the time you are told of the death within 12-24 hours they are buried.  There is no time to prepare.

Our funerals are a complete service, dedicated to the loved one, with music, scripture, eulogies, etc  all primarily about the loved one.  Often an encouraging message is included, for the family and friends, and generally one of comfort.

Not so within the Catholic church.  It is a mass.  I have been to funeral masses where the person was barely mentioned. I have also been to funeral masses where they were more dedicated to the deceased but the 'norms' or standard components of a mass were still held to.

But, while it is very different and hard to handle the speed with which it all happens, what we have always been able to do is come alongside those who are hurting and be an encouragement. Trying to point them to Christ and the comfort available in Him.


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Daily Living

Last week I told you about my friend who enjoys life to the fullest.  Here we are pictured at her surprise Birthday Party, that her family threw for her.

In all honesty, this is our table, plus Cristy and her husband.  We were the fun table...her crazy friends.  The four ladies sitting (on the right) are lifetime friends of hers.  Never met a more enthusiastic group of ladies.  They love life.  They were a joy.

It seems God keeps placing older ladies in my life to be examples to me.

So I try to give 100% to the things I do.  A place that I get to experience feeling challenged is at the gym.  I love the gym. I have never before in my life had a gym membership. My mother, on the other hand, has had one for years! Another older lady who is a great example to me, on several fronts.

I am glad however that I got to experience the whole gym thing exactly where I am.  The gym where we attend it apparently a bit of a novelty.  Even here in GDL it has a reputation of being a social club.  The friendships are plentiful and rich.  We socialize together, we have groups, we greet, even being all sweaty.  They are our family.  That said...some of us also take working out seriously.  Some classes I excel in and others I work hard in! (I mean to do it well)
Danzika
Above is a picture of my favourite class, where I have to work really hard.  This is a class where we do dance/aerobic/low impact workouts.  My problem here is coordination - two left feet.  But it is fun, we are great friends, and we laugh at ourselves and enjoy the best teacher.  I have improved so very much but he makes sure we feel challenged.

Then ...
This is my strong suit.  What I lack in coordination for dance, I make up for in strength.  Same teacher, many of the same ladies, but here they struggle more than I do.  Latin's dance well, Canadian's are strong?! After a morning of Nelson, we are done in! But we love it. We love suffering together.

On another note.... we enjoyed a little cultural experience this weekend.  GDL is hosting a Cultural Festival and so we headed out to see "Globos de Francia" (Balloons of France).  It was incredible to watch, along with 1000's of Tapatios (people from GDL). 


Life is to be enjoyed and lived to the fullest.  To be challenged. To grow. To Laugh. To Cry. To Celebrate. God gives us days where we feel we are walking 'though the valley of death' and others where we experience pure joy. We need both.

I thank my God for giving me people who are a good example of doing both.  Celebrating life and walking through pain. God is Good...always.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Enjoying Life

Do you ever think about getting older? Or aging?  I remember when I was a teen I thought 50 was 'OLD'! But now that I am over 50 I just happen to think 50 is young.

But one thing is for sure...we are all getting older.  Because if you are not getting older, you are dead! So my attitude is, celebrate every birthday!

I have heard it said that 'aging isn't for the faint of heart'.  I know it isn't always easy.  First you need glasses, then you need a hearing aid, the knees don't like the stairs, never mind watching the diet, due to cholesterol or blood sugar, etc.  Those things are hard.  But I also believe the other thing they say... "age is all about attitude".

I have met people who are such an example to me.  I have met people who are 'young' by the number of candles but are old in life.  I have met others who are 'old' by the candles, but young in life.  I have a friend here in GDL who is just such an inspiration.  She is one of my neighbours, and someone of whom I can honestly say, that when I get old I wanna be just like her!


Today she turned 70 years young.  I say that because she is the most youthful lady I know.  She enjoys life to the fullest.  She laughs, she smiles, and she acts crazy.  She is the life of the party.  Just prior to her birthday she went and got a small tattoo of a butterfly on her shoulder.  She proudly showed it off and told all of us that we could only get one when we turned 70! I love it! What an attitude.

But what makes one person seemingly ageless and another old? When I asked her about it, she said it all in your attitude.  Yeah, she remembers when she could do things that she can't now, but who wants to be cranky.  Look for the sunshine, she says.

I know that this picture seems extreme.  The bodybuilder vs. the little old lady.  BOTH are 80 years old! But I know the bodybuilder women is the real deal.  She inspires me because she took on life after 50, upon the death of a loved one.  She exudes joy when you watch an interview with her.

I am not denying that life is hard, that aging is tough.  I feel a little of my age every time I hang out with my sons, and their boundless energy.  But I want to be like my neighbour lady.  I want to be a joy, I want to be sunshine.  I always say I am a realist, so as not to say pessimist, but that doesn't excuse me.  I need to see the rainbows of promise in life, and celebrate the life God has given me.

I have the best reason ever, to do that!  Jesus lives in me.  He loves me unconditionally.  His grace knows no end.  He forgives me.  He came that I might have life, and life abundantly.

Then, as I start to count my blessings...well, they are many.

How about you? What do people see when they see you? Are they drawn to you, like everybody is to my friend.  I want to live an ageless life, filled with joy unending.  Attitude is a choice.  Thanks to my friend for being an example of 70 years of celebrating life.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Earthquakes....

(Hands in the air is a call for silence...)
Words can not describe the situation in Mexico this month! Two earthquakes, within 10 days, at a 7.1, that brought down buildings, and buried people.  It has been horrific for so very many people.

Listening to the news has been disheartening.  One of the buildings that collapsed was a school - elementary and Jr. High.  Teachers died and children died.  Watching the rescue of children was just beyond words.  I can not even imagine being one of the parents.

It has been reported that there have been 326 deaths between all the affected areas (Oaxaca, Chiapas, Puebla, Morelia, and Mexico City).  However, they are still digging through the ruins.

So, of course a plea was sent out through every imaginable venue: FaceBook, Instagram, Newspapers, Radio, Television, and WhatsApp.  What to give, how, and where.  There were locations put up all over Guadalajara (and likely in other cities and states as well) for people to donate food and clothing to those who had lost everything.

Then came the outcry of the people.  The government was not stepping in to give aid.  The political parties were grabbing the stuff being donated and putting their party stickers on it.  They were accused of stopping the caravans of aid and directing them to their political party warehouses to use later in the run for office (i.e. to buy votes). 2018 is election year here.

It is so hard to know how to help.  We feel like our hands are tied.  We desire to help but we want to help the actual people who are in need.  The corruption is hard to deal with.  You want to trust that the donations are getting to all those hurting people but it looks like you just can't be certain.

The Mexican people are up in arms with their corrupt government leaders.  Their is a cry of outrage. Their own people are hurting, suffering and all they can think about is how this can be used to their advantage.

Pray for Christ followers in Mexico, that we will be an example of Christ's love, goodness, and demonstrate values and attitudes reflective of His kingdom. Our world so badly needs a demonstration of integrity, love, compassion, and self-less honesty!

NEWS:
http://www.infobae.com/america/mexico/2017/09/24/terremoto-en-mexico-subio-a-318-el-numero-de-fallecidos/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEZy-Cl_v4Y  VIDEO OF RESCUE AT SCHOOL


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Life.... and death....

   
     This weekend we said good bye to a dear friend from the fitness gym. In our minds he was healthy, strong, young, and certainly not the one we expected to go. They were to leave for Europe, on holidays, instead, less than 24 hrs before boarding the plane, my good friend had a series of heart attacks, and passed away.

     There is ONE sure thing - we are ALL going to die one day - unless the Lord comes back first. We don't know whether we will die young, or old, of illness, or accident, will have time to say goodbye, or be ushered into eternity in the blink of an eye.
     So, if the when and how is unpredictable, but the fact that it will happen is, what are we doing to prepare for it? Too many of us go thru life thinking we have more time, thinking it won't happen to us (at least not yet), and we 'walk thru that door' unprepared.

     Based on my understanding of scripture, God created humans with freewill. In fact, we get to choose to have a relationship with Him, or not. We get to choose whether we want to spend eternity with Him, or not. BUT, that choice has to be made this side of the grave - and God respects that choice, even though He longs to have us live in fellowship with Him.
   

      The Bible starts in paradise (Genesis 1) and ends in paradise (Revelation). Everything in-between narrates the story of God's amazing efforts and plan to restore that which was lost (when humanity chose to exercise its freewill and fall into sin). We have been given a way to restore the relationship. We can accept God's free gift of salvation, and then embark on a journey with Him, that culminates with our passage thru the gates of death into eternal life. BUT, it's not automatic, it won't happen against your will. YOU have to appropriate it, embrace it, pursue that relationship of dependence and obedience with God - while you're still 'here'. Make plans, but make sure your plans include God, and His plan for your life. Then leaving this world will mean being ushered into something incredibly better, being in God's presence for the rest of eternity! 

      So, what are you doing TODAY? What are you leaving for tomorrow, that you should be doing today? Not saying the words that need to be said... "I love you, thanks, you mean the world to me, thanks for walking with me, I appreciate you..."? Are you putting off going for lunch with someone? Have you told your loved ones, recently, that you love them? Have you tried to fix that broken relationship? Have you forgiven, or do you live with bitterness? 

      I remember my last conversation with my friend on Friday. Neither of us thought it would be the last time. What got left unsaid? How about the people in YOUR circle? Have you left things unsaid or undone, thinking you always have tomorrow? 

     Make sure to make each day count, and make sure that you also prepare for eternity. Hope to see you there!