Lesson from the Trees!

When we lived on the farm, we had two large trees growing almost as one near the house.  One was a spruce tree and the other a poplar.  Both were probably 100 years old or maybe even more.  They were big trees and had grown there for so long the two were almost one, although being of a different species they were still distinct.

One night during a terrible storm, we heard an explosion that rocked our home.  The windows reverberated from the force.  We were far from mines in the area that occasionally set off blasts: we couldn’t figure out any other source for such a loud noise. By morning the storm had passed, and we ventured out where we found the cause that rocked our home.  Lightening had hit the poplar tree, stripping it of its bark which was strewn across the yard and breaking the mammoth tree in half.  The inside of the remains was still smoldering despite the rain that had soaked it all night.

The spruce tree was unharmed save for the strips of poplar bark that hung from its limbs as if its companion had clung as a final farewell to its long time neighbour and friend.  One was taken, the other left.

While travelling, I came across another scene where it appeared something similar had happened.  The remaining tree on the right prospered, its limbs large and overseeing its domain while sheltering of furry and feathered creatures in its strong limbs.  Rooted at its base were the hollowed remains of its companion, their roots intertwined having shared the same soil for perhaps longer than a century, maybe even two or three before the one came to its demise.

I marveled at the sight, curious as to how the one had come to such tragedy while the other seemingly remained untouched.  I noticed a sign not far from their location which informed the curious that Hurricane Katrina was responsible for this and so many other tragedies when it swept through the area.  One taken, the other left.

Scripture tells us there will come a time when some people will be taken, and others left. The only way to remain is to trust in the one who created us, loves us and wants the very best for us.  He gave His all to make it so.

Winter’s Not Done with Me!

I love Canada. I’ve always been thankful to have been born there and experienced the four seasons in all their glory.  I’ll even confess that winter was once my favourite time of year. The harvest was over and safely stored.  The woodshed was filled.  With the labour of summer over, it was time to relax and enjoy what Canadian winters had to offer.

As such, I’ve skated on neighbourhood ponds, rinks and even the Rideau Canal in Canada’s capital.  I played hockey on a travelling team and drank enough hot chocolate to keep Ecuadorians employed.  With season tickets to my local Junior A team’s games, I hardly missed a match.

Weekends were made for strapping on skis, racing downhill on fresh powder, gliding through forests glistening with snow tipped trees, tubing (sometimes recklessly), tobogganing or strapping on snowshoes to get to a favourite fishing hole.  Or perhaps, snowmobiling through the winter wonderland of bush and trails, zooming across a snow-covered lake, or stopping to watch the moose nesting close to the trails.

But not now.  I’ve hung up my skates, given away my skies, and sold the snowmobile.  Winter is no longer my friend.  These old, arthritic bones seek warmth and comfort. I want sunshine to warm my face, not a balaclava.

Oh, I still like watching the snow, but preferably near a fireplace while drinking a mug of hot chocolate (still love the hot chocolate!).   I guess I could watch hockey on the TV, but it’s just not the same as actually being there, is it?

No, now I seek a new way of living.  No more long johns, toques, or -30-degree rated jackets for me.  No sir!  Give me sunscreen, floppy hats, and sandals.

Thus, thinking to achieve my heart’s desire, I headed to our neighbour of the south to escape the chilling hands of winter and embrace the arms of another season’s fare.

Did it work?  Well…maybe.  I’d travelled over a thousand kilometers to enjoy a haven from winter’s blast.  It was great!  The initial days were warm and wonderful.  Twenty-five Celsius!  Shirt shelves and shorts weather.  Hallelujah!

Then…a cold front enveloped the whole area.  Temperatures dipped below freezing and were forecast to say there for the foreseeable future.  Winds picked up and the white stuff started falling.  How cruel!  Winter wasn’t done with me yet.  Guess I’d better go buy some hot chocolate.  And maybe a balaclava.



First Camping Trip is a Bust!

From the time I began planning my trip, I looked forward to spending a week or two at Turkey Foot Recreational Area in the Daniel Boone National Forest.  I had downloaded the route to take to get because I didn’t think my gps would give me those instructions.  I was right and glad I had the paper instructions.  Once off the main road I came to a junction marked, believe it or not, Pilgrims Rest.

I thought this was quite fortuitous and marked the beginning of a great camping adventure.  I was looking forward to watching stars overhead and listening to the brook run its course.  And of course, a small campfire and roasted hot dogs.

Along this road were several churches, all Baptist, as well as some nice homes.  The churches were small and not yet ready for the morning services so I though I might return to one once I set up camp, especially at the one marked Pilgrims Rest Church. Alas, it was not to be!

From there the road became so narrow two vehicles would have difficulty passing one another.  There were no lane markings and the road was winding as well as hilly.  After a few kilometers I came to a sign that said the road to the area was closed.

A posted map indicated an alternate road that was longer, so I turned around carefully in a small opening and began taking the alternate road.  If the main road was narrow this one was even less so.  No vehicles could possibly pass as there were no shoulders on the road.  Once the road side ended it dropped into roadside greenery of a depth I dare not contemplate.

The road gave way to a lane that might have been passable in a 4-wheel Jeep or an ATV.  The overhead canopy was so low an ordinary car would have had branches touching the car roofs.  In addition, this lane was a mix of muddy clay and overgrown vegetation with a few stones thrown in.  After the previous two days of continuous rain it was a soupy mire.

I walked it a bit to check it out in case this was only a small segment of the road.  It wasn’t.  My shoes were covered in yellow clay when I got back to the van.  Fortunately I didn’t slip in it. So, as much as I wanted to spend time in the forest, it was not to be.  Men plan; God winks.  Turning around took several careful maneuvers during which my front end and back wheels hovered over the edge of the lane.

Once back on a more secure road I traveled through the back hills of Kentucky, which were pained in the most majestic colours of Fall.  Along the way, shacks and old trailer-homes were planted haphazardly on the roadside as well as solid brick homes that almost seemed out of place.  Even the poorest of homes had a vehicle parked nearby.

Since it was still early Sunday morning, I decided to head to Knoxville and Temple Baptist Church on Woodrow Drive.  I followed their pastor on YouTube and looked forward to meeting him.  When I crossed the State line into Tennessee, the Welcome Center looked inviting, so I stopped in.  What a treat!  The center was a mini-museum with crowds from all over.  The Lion’s Club were handing our free coffee and tea as a fund raiser, and the park was decorated beautifully.  The washrooms were spotless as have been all the washrooms in every rest area I stopped at.  Parking was available for 18 wheelers, large RVs as well as cars.  There was even handicap parking for RVs.  Some one really thought out the needs of the travelling public.

After enjoying the sunshine and atmosphere, from there I went to Knoxville and found the church.  Since I had two hours to wait for the evening service, I explored a little and found my place to park for the night.  One Walmart said it was OK to park there but the neighbourhood was not good.  The attendant suggested the other Walmart in a better area, so I asked and received permission to park at the better location.  That secured I went back to the church to wait for the service to begin.

Before I physically got into the building, I was embraced by fellow believers and introduced to many more. One introduced me to Pastor Charles Larson and his wife, Linda.  The pastor was not preaching that night, but the fellow who was gave a fantastic sermon like I haven’t heard in a church for 16 years.  The gospel was plain and powerful.  Two takeaways from it:  either you are a missionary for Jesus, or you are a mission field; and, you have a choice to either have your sins blotted out by the blood of Jesus now or find you name blotted out of the book of life at the Great White Throne Judgment.

With that strong, encouraging message on my mind and heart, I headed “home” for the night’s sweet rest.

Pioneers in the 20th Century

pioneers_in_the_20th_cover_for_kindle-1Pioneers in the 20th Century is the true story of how I raised six children without running water or electricity and very little money.  We lived in a one room house I built with my own hands while pregnant with my fourth child.  Learn how we survived and thrived far form neighbours and modern amenities.  With nothing more than a can-do attitude, our family met and overcame challenges unheard of in modern life.  It will inspire you to persevere against all odds and meet life’s obstacles with faith and good old fashioned hard work.

From the book:

“I didn’t intentionally start out to live the pioneer life.  My husband, Walter, who was from Barbados, was even less inclined.  He came to Canada in the late 60’s under the impression that Canadian streets were paved with gold and opportunities were limitless.  He found out the streets were as dusty and dirty as most city streets – only covered with snow in the winter.”

“One of my few requirements before agreeing to marriage was that we would raise our children in the country.  My prospective husband heartily agreed at the time, my wedded husband much less so.”

“Any mention of country living met with my husband’s outright refusal to consider our prenuptial verbal agreement as anything more than a silly whim not worthy his contemplation.  However, as fate would have it, my husband’s employment came to an end and he “reconsidered” a move.”

Thus began a series of events that led to our living in the wilderness with little more than a chainsaw and the need to survive winters that often had weeks of -40 degree weather.  Our one room home, housing eight of us in just over 300 square feet, had neither electricity or a well for drawing water.  With roving bears, moose, foxes, skunks and beavers as our neighbours, we were blessed with a life that built our resilience, and gave us insight into what really matters.

Available at Amazon.com and Amazon.ca



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