The Heart of a Mother

I’m going to tell you a story that causes me shame whenever I think of it. I’m reminded of it, because today is Mother’s Day, it involves my mother, and I recently told it to my siblings when we met to spend time with my mother in February. I’ll begin by giving you some backstory.

My dad was a busy pastor when I was growing up and my mom was as involved in ministry at the church as he was. I remember practically living at the church. I’m pretty sure there was no one save church-g739d330aa_1280the janitor that spent as much time at the church as we did. My dad had to prepare two different sermons a week, one for Sunday morning and one for Sunday evening, plus a mid-week Bible study and adult Sunday school class. He was also the youth pastor and sang in the choir, which my mother directed. And, of course, there were lots of meetings, hospital and home visits, potlucks, weddings, and funerals. It was the 60s and early 70s. Dad provided for the family and Mom was responsible for our home and the care and feeding of the children. She also worked as a school teacher, a successful Avon Lady, and a college fundraiser, over the years, to supplement the family income. She was probably as busy or busier than he was, especially when we were young.

The backstory continues. I remember it being an issue that we, their three children, balked at picking up our toys. My dad liked things tidy. Mess was a source of stress for him. I remember my parents fighting about this and Dad telling Mom she needed to discipline us. If you know mybaby-g3a8630712_1920 mother, you know she’s a big, ole marshmallow, as sweet as sugar. She was on the permissive side of things, as far as parenting goes. She was too busy to argue with us and she didn’t like confrontation, either. She was a pushover because she was a peacemaker, always trying to smooth things. I don’t remember doing much around the house ever. Unlike my husband’s family, where the children were required every Saturday to do set chores before they were allowed to play or leave the house, we did very little. I emptied the dishwasher, set the table, and did my own laundry as I got older, but nothing more involved than that. Onward to the cringe-fest.

When I was in high school, my mother was planning a party. My parents were hospitable people and we had groups in regularly. She was busy preparing the food and cleaning the house and she img_2881told me to clean the downstairs bathroom, the one my sister and I used. I had never cleaned a bathroom before. I flatly refused. An argument ensued, but I was, at the time, a rebellious, depressed teenager and I knew there was no way she could make me do it. I won the argument and stormed out of the house, leaving her dumbfounded, I’m sure. I came back later and headed downstairs to my room only to find her stooped over in the bathroom, weeping, as she cleaned the toilet I’d refused to clean. I turned away, went into my room, and shut the door.

I did this. I was disobedient, I disrespected her, and then ignored her pain. I can’t recall if I ever said I was sorry. I can think of other instances like this, as well. I had a rather rocky adolescence. In other homes, this kind of ongoing, rude behaviour may have caused permanent harm to the relationship, but not in our home. You see, my mother is probably the most Christ-like person I’ve ever known. She met surliness with gentleness, meanness with kindness, and offensiveness with grace. She lived outimg_2882 the two greatest commandments. She loved God and loved people with all her heart. My dad’s success in ministry was due in no small part to her. I was a fortunate recipient of her love and grace and she lavished it on me through all my crying, whining, arguing, general messiness, mood swings, friend troubles, school skipping, and growing pains. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow me as I follow the example of Christ.” My mother could say this, though she never would because she’s far too humble and, while I’m still not much of a bathroom cleaner, I do my best to draw near to God every day in the hopes I’ll become more like Jesus and, yes, more like my mother.

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The Snowshoe Fiasco

Note from the Author: All of the pictures in my post today, with the exception of the Pixabay snowshoe picture, are of the hike I was on courtesy of George Mach, an exceptional photographer and friend.

I went hiking in the mountains on Saturday. My friend invited me to hike Spreading Ridge on the Icefields Parkway, the majestic, mountainous road linking Lake Louise and Jasper. There would be seven of us. I was told to bring cleats and snowshoes, as there would still be snow. Temperatures would range from +5 °C at the bottom to -5 °C at the top. It was a two hour drive from Calgary and as we travelled North, the landscape looked gradually more wintery. I’ve never been a huge fan of winter, but in the last number of years, I’ve tried to embrace it more, as it’s an inescapable reality in Canada.

We met others, those travelling from Edmonton, at the trailhead. The sun was shining and the sky was blue, as we strapped on our snowshoes. My snowshoeing knowledge was minimal, as was my experience and this would be to my detriment. I had received a second-hand pair for Christmas and had tried them out once before on flat terrain with no major issues. Once we started going up, it was apparent that my shoes were too big. I couldn’t cinch the binding upSpreading Ridge-1 tight enough around my foot. Consequently, my foot slid around in the binding and the shoes never seemed to land where I planted them. As the incline became steeper, there were numerous places where the shoes wouldn’t bite. The snow was too slushy and often I was walking in place for a few steps, before I could gain some traction. There was one very steep section where I couldn’t get up at all and someone suggested I take the snowshoes off and climb.

I started looking at the shoes of those in my company and noticed they were all the same and very different from my own. Their shoes were much more streamlined and compact with additional teeth running down both sides of each shoe, whereas my shoe only had the requisite cleats at the underside of the toe and down the foot to the heel. Their shoes also had a bar under the heel that they would flip up when they were going up and their heels would rest on that bar and push up against it. This bar was absent on my shoes.

Spreading Ridge-4I’m not a fast climber, no matter the conditions. I go slow and steady and I always make it to the top. Sometimes, I’m at the middle of the pack. Mostly, I’m the last one up. My friend tells me it’s not a race and I take him at his word and do my best and try not to worry that there are others far ahead of me. On this day, I was struggling, dragging these clunky, unwieldy snowshoes up a mountain, not even realizing that these shoes weren’t made for mountain climbing, but for flat ground. While I wrestled with my body and my snowshoes, I recited scripture in my mind over and over. It’s as much a mental game, as it is a physical one. I knew it would get ugly in there, if I didn’t program it myself. Every once in awhile negative thoughts would creep in; “Why do I like doing this?” or “Why is this so hard?” or “I’m never doing this again!” or a stray curse word would bounce around like the ball in a pinball machine. 

By the time I reached the top, I was so fatigued, I didn’t think I’d be able to perform the easy scramble required to get there. I was worried about my balance and felt I might pitch overSpreading Ridge-38 the side when trying to stand, I was that exhausted. My lady friends encouraged me and I was able to join the others for lunch with the most spectacular view, but I was quiet, all the while wondering if the nourishment would be enough to get me back down.

I thought the going down would be easier, but it wasn’t. I continued to slide around. I might as well have been drunk, lurching and careening. I spent more time on my backside or on my knees than my feet. I had so much snow down my pants, I was a walking snow cone. One of the guys stayed with me, encouraging me, which I’m very grateful for, but being that needy stings. I felt humiliated at my inability to do what everyone else was doing.

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At one point, the people out in front lost the trail and we were forced out of the trees to traverse a steep slope. The guy in front did his best to make a path across the wet snow and the rest of us followed. At the halfway mark, my one shoe sunk in so far, I couldn’t see it anymore, nor could I pull it out. The rest had all made it safely and I was stuck. I tried digging it out, but to no avail. One of the ladies came back and tried, as well, and then left to get one of the men. My mind went to dark places involving plummeting to my death and/or dying of exposure on a mountain. My friend assures me these were crazy thoughts, but when one is exhausted and grappling with fear, the mind goes where it will. I was glad that in the past number of months, I’d read books and listened to seminars encouraging me to question my thoughts and feelings, especially the extreme ones. I called out to God for help. I attribute my ability to stay calm in that situation to the presence of Jesus. I’m so thankful I didn’t overreact in that moment. I was nearing the point of tears, but didn’t succumb. I reasoned that panicking wouldn’t improve my situation, but compound it. I worked at getting my shoe out of the binding, thinking that taking my weight off the snowshoe would solve my problem. By the time more help arrived, I had accomplished this and my friend and I were able to retrieve the buried shoe and get on with the hike. The others had recovered the trail and we were on our way again.

I’ve never been so happy to be done with a hike. I thanked God, as I removed my snowshoes and stepped on to the asphalt near our vehicles. The next day, I consulted the Google regarding snowshoes and finally understood why I had such a difficult time. It’s critical yourraquette-g0e827a405_1920 snowshoes fit snugly no matter what type of land you’re travelling on. A snug fit enables the snowshoes to track straight without swaying, which is what I was experiencing. There are also three different types of snowshoes and one of them is designed to handle slippery, mountainous terrain. These were the shoes those in my cohort were wearing. It turns out that bar called a “heel lift” is a critical piece of a equipment. According to this article from Backpacker, which I encourage you to read, if you’re considering purchasing snowshoes of any kind, this bar, flipped up while ascending, places your foot “in a more natural, flat position while the shoe continues to grip the steeply angled incline. The lifts reduce Achilles tendon and calf strain and fatigue.”

I don’t regret going on this hike and I would do it again, but only with the proper equipment! It was beautiful and hard all at once and that’s life. I saw awesome sights that most people will only see in pictures. I got the most incredible work out and, thankfully, my body recovered quickly. I was able to maintain my composure and, hopefully, not sour the hike for the others and I was humbled by their kindness and patience. They met my need and blessed me. They reminded me that I can’t always do everything I want to do on my own, that I need help. Last, and most importantly, and this happens every single time, I was drawn closer to my Lord, in the toil and sweat, in the camaraderie and repose, in the beautiful ecstasy on the mountain.

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Every Day is Grace

I woke up this morning

And greeted the gift

Of another day of life

With the only reasonable response

Gratitude

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The feature pic is Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada taken by yours truly. Footer is from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

A Prayer for Ukraine

I woke and took up your word

And read about the gift you gave

The sacrifice you made to redeem the human race, an endless procession of hapless sinners

One man to save us all

And I stare stunned at the television

Watching war play out before the world

Like it’s just another blockbuster I’m bingeing on

Something to give me a jolt

To make me feel alive

Except it’s no screenplay playing out on my big screen

No calls of “It’s a wrap”, where cast and crew go off to celebrate what they’ve accomplished

While the set is dismantled

No, one man

A real live villain

An aggressive expansionist

A raging thug

Let his fury fly on his unsuspecting neighbors

Desecrating their doorsteps, businesses, and gathering places

With bullets and bombs

Displaying power, wreaking havoc, creating carnage, and inciting fear

And as people flee their homes, their homeland

Looking back in horror and disbelief

Looking forward to confusion and uncertainty

I remember the one man

Not the angry tyrant

But the gentle Saviour, the Almighty God, the Sovereign Lord

And I call out to Him

To explode light into the darkness

To bring the perpetrators to swift justice

To shatter the chaos with peace

To rain down provision and protection

To quell the suffering and grief with comfort, strength, and healing

I pray

It’s all I can do

It’s the best I can do

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Thanks for reading! The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. The feature pic is a combination and edit of a flower pic of mine with a praying hands from Pixabay. The footer is from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com (images below) and my clothing design page on Le Galeriste. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

Chocolate and Other Notions of Love

Love is not about chocolate
Though it’s a sweet for the soul
And the taste can bring on ecstasy
Love is not about perfume
Though it’s more heady and intoxicating than the finest, most costly scent when it’s new and all-consuming
Love is not about jewels
Though it’s the shiniest thing on earth
If it’s real and true
Love is not about presents
Though it’s about presence
About friendship, thoughtful attention, commitment, and often, sacrifice
Love is not about candlelight, heart-shaped pizzas, sumptuous meals, sentimental serenades, silky, lacy, racy, lingerie, romantic rendezvous, or rapturous intimacy
Though it may include all these things
It’s not a random, mushy, gushy feeling, but a patient, continuous choice
Real love abides in the raw and gritty
Real love stands firm in joy bubbling up and tumultuous trouble
Real love soldiers on through the mind-numbing mundane and the most wretched grief
Real love stays, affirms, celebrates, supports, serves, and forgives
Real love lasts
If you know this extraordinary love
You are blessed above all
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Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends! Thanks for reading! The feature pic is a combination and edit of three of my photos. Footer from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com and my clothing design page on Le Galeriste. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

God will not Forget You

For my mother, Sharon Mayforth, in honour of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.

You may continually misplace your keys

Misfile your favourite recipe

Drop a word or two or three

You may lose all track of time

Or lose your way on your way home

Or not recall you’ve told that story once or thrice before

You may forget to water plants, to feed the fish, or put on pants

Yes, there’s a chance you will forget to bathe or brush your teeth or comb your hair

But more than this, I’d be remiss, if I did not mention that amidst these small and trivial things, much greater matters will give way

You’ll lose your very sense of self, your independence, and your health

Confusion will become the order of the day

You’ll wander through your muddled mind and find the jumbled words and ghost of memories past do not express your needs and is there anyone who understands?

The biggest grief will come when you no longer recognize the ones you love

They will be strangers all

Before you think, if this befall you that you’ve been committed to some special sort of hell

And lose all hope and finally despair

I tell you

God will not forget you

He did knit you in your mother’s womb

He knows you as the artist knows each brushstroke and the finished piece

Your worth is not diminished by diminishing capacities

His love does not depend on you possessing all your faculties

No loss can separate you from the love of Christ

He’s carved you on His hands and feet

Though this may be your final trial

Please know that in a little while

You’ll be the blessed one to see Him face to face

And clarity will dawn

And you will rest in Him, confident that you will not forget again

No

God will not forget you

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The feature pic is an edit by me of a pic from Pixabay. Footer from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com and my clothing design page on Le Galeriste. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time!

Whipped Up

I’m not the center

The world doesn’t stop for me

Doesn’t stop spinning

Even when I’m dizzy and stumbling around

Desperate for a firm place to stand

It rotates mindlessly on in utter disregard for my confusion

It doesn’t care when I’m in crisis

Every time I’m thrown off balance

Every moment I’m without my equilibrium

I can do one of two things

I can lie low and hurl and groan

And let my eyes roll into my head

And die a tiny death ad infinitum

A sure spiral down to an early grave

Or I can ask myself

Whether or not

My world needed

A little bit of shaking up

And hold on

And go for the ride of my life

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Feature Pic by me. Footer from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com and my clothing design page on Le Galeriste. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time! 🙂

The Cry of Christmas

Christmas

For those of us who celebrate the Christ

Is about the incarnation

When the Creator Spirit, celestial, timeless and at liberty, willingly took up our calendar to be contained in soft, pink, fragile flesh on bony frame

When the Everlasting Unborn became the born to die

When the King of kings became a pauper with nothing else to offer but himself, born in a borrowed, smelly stable, wrapped in naught but strips of cloth

When the Almighty God became a weak and wriggling, ineffectual, helpless and dependent bundle crying out

When the Ancient and Omniscient, the Wise and Wondrous Counselor became the new, the innocent, the blank

When the Prince of Peace became the agitated, grasping after just a hand to hold or sip of milk

Inexplicable and curious

This most awkward and unlikely of transitions

Jesus letting go of every shred of sovereign rule and, even, dignity

To come here as a lowly kid

To save us

It makes sense

When He was grown, in ministry

He said we must become like little children

Or we would never see the kingdom

So the incarnation, as the rest of Jesus’ life and death, was meant for us to imitate

We, too, must lay our power down

And look to God, the Father

Mouth agape and arms outstretched

Wearing nothing but our unapologetic need

Or we will never live the life that He intends

What might it mean for us to stop relying on our own inconsistent steam

And run on His immeasurable strength

And recognize that everything falls from His hand

The sustenance to travel through trials and miracles alike

Are we willing to miss out on this most amazing promise of abundant life

This priceless Christmas gift

To maintain our autonomy

Or do we take the risk 

And become a baby, too

Feature Pic by me. Footer from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com and my clothing design page on Le Galeriste. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time! 🙂

Rush Hour

Today

The snow is falling like it’s in a hurry

Tiny crystalline flakes, bunched together

Jostling each other in the frigid air

Like commuters jockeying for a good seat on the train

Each one making its way insistently down

Only to pile up

Taking its place in the wintry weave

The blanket meant to comfort and rest the earth

Never have I thought of snow as comforting

Until I stood still and watched

Until I sensed the snow’s eagerness

To be about its work

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Feature Pic and footer from Pixabay. Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to follow me or sign up to receive my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram. Take a peek at my Redbubble store Pollyeloquent.redbubble.com and my clothing design page on Le Galeriste. Thank you for giving me some of your precious time! 🙂

News Flash: You are NOT Enough

I don’t remember a lot of lack growing up. My parents worked hard to provide for us. We weren’t wealthy, but we had what we needed with some extras, with the exception of socks. I remember having a lack of socks. I regularly, and with no small amount of chagrin, annoyedimg_0320 my sister, stealing her socks, because my sock drawer always seemed to be bare. I don’t remember asking my mother for socks. I’m sure she’d have coughed up the socks, if I’d have expressed my need to her. To this day, I can’t get enough socks and if I had a wad of cash, I’d be spending it on gobs of unique socks. Continue reading “News Flash: You are NOT Enough”