Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, October 31, 2020


 Have you noticed a trend in your local news headlines recently? Here are a few of ours...

MCC SUPPORTS BIG BROTHERS/BIG SISTERS. Our MCC Thrift Shop partners with local charities three times a year. This year, MCC donated generously to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Youth forChrist/Youth Unlimited, and Prairie Pregnancy Support Centre.

Rest-A-Bit Partners With Prairie Welcome House. Here we find two local initiatives joining forces to better serve people in need in our community, giving folks a warm place to stay as the colder weather approaches.

Paraclete Transport Pledges to Help STARS tells about a trucking company pledging to fund-raise and donate to STARS Air Ambulance.

Mr. Mike’s Steakhouse provided food for “GratiTuesdays” all through October, benefiting four different local not-for-profits.

I could go on. You get the idea. Would it surprise you to know these headlines provide glimpses into the Kingdom of God?

Because of Covid-19, my church could not hold its annual Thanksgiving banquet where for decades, we’ve gathered to eat and celebrate the good things God has done in our church and in our community. Our leaders brainstormed about how we might observe the tradition under pandemic restrictions, with outside-the-box thinking.

Perhaps they took a cue from Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, who said, “When you hand good people possibility, they do great things.”

Our congregation’s continued generosity during this crisis enabled the church to give each of its “house churches” some seed money. (House churches are smaller groups within the larger church that meet regularly in homes to share life, pray together, assist one another, and find ways to serve our community.) Each house church was to dream up a way to bless their community, document it, and then meet in our individual bubbles to enjoy a meal and view the collected stories all at the same time, broadcast live over You Tube.

One group put together Thanksgiving meal hampers for people in need. One supplied the soup kitchen. Another made care packages and walked alongside the Bear Clan on their Friday night patrol. Another group stocked the little free pantries around town. Another provided toques and mitts to schools, the women’s shelter and homeless shelter.

My group used our share to purchase grocery gift cards and coffee shop gift cards for the Rest-a-Bit shelter. We added homemade frozen meals and baked goods and delivered them together.

Other groups used theirs in a variety of creative ways, like taking fresh hot pizza to the residents of Regency House, school supplies to the Portage Learning and Literacy Center, and gift bags to the residents of Douglas Campbell Lodge.

The Prairie Pregnancy Support Centre received gift cards and diapers, some high school kids got gift cards, a fostering family accepted a couple of refurbished laptops. Another family obtained Lego and casseroles, while the Tupper Street Family Resource Centre received hampers to distribute to its clients.

One group built a “buddy bench” for the Westpark Schoolplayground, where kids can find a safe place to talk and make a friend. Another group contributed countless hours and energy into the great potato give-away you’ve been reading about.

In his book, All Things New, John Eldredge advises us to “ask Jesus to show you his kingdom.” He adds, “Stay open to surprises; keep asking for glimpses of the kingdom any way God wants to bring them. This is how we reach into the future to take hold of the hope that is our anchor.”


Saturday, October 24, 2020


I’ve been at this blog-writing gig so long, I can now write sequels.

Seven years ago, after we moved into our current home, I wrote My Big Hairy First World Problem, in which I discussed the havoc that occurs when one decides to furnish a bathroom with black towels and how, after endless trauma and sleepless nights, I exchanged the black for green. That story went on to win a couple of awards. (It also appears in my book, Out of My Mind: A Decade of Faith and Humour. Shameless plug.)

Seven years later, the green towels were worn out. The whole bathroom needed a facelift. I contemplated painting. A light gray would work well with the flooring and countertop. The problem was the room has four honey oak cupboards—all the rage in the nineties. The oak still looks lovely, and even though everyone who’s anyone is painting their oak cabinets, I refuse. I predict that in a few years, everyone who’s anyone will be stripping their cabinets down to the raw wood again. If I’m wrong about that, I still like the wood. But I didn’t think it would look great next to gray walls.

So I turned to the experts: my Facebook friends.

If you ever want to engage social media, ask a decorating question. At least half the respondents told me to paint the cabinets even though I specified I wasn’t willing to do that. Some named specific gray shades for the walls which wouldn’t appear greenish next to oak cabinets.

I went to the paint store. When I walked in, Phyllis greeted me with, “Hi Terrie. I heard you might be coming in.” Don’t you just love a small town?

Phyllis gave me samples of the gray shades that would work. I also took chips that matched the current wall color, and another to represent the cabinets. I told Phyllis that if I decided to paint, I’d be back. Armed with all those chips, I headed for a bed and bath store in Winnipeg. By buying from a specialty store, I hoped to avoid a repeat of my towel fluff fiasco from 2013.

The store displayed floor-to-ceiling towels in every color of the rainbow. But every time I chose a color, there’d be no matching washcloths, or they’d be short the number of hand towels I needed. Or something. I grew hot in my face mask and nervous about keeping my distance from other shoppers. My stomach growled. I wanted to lie down on a bedspread and nap. I found it ironic that a store specializing in bathroom furnishings had no bathroom. Argh! I grabbed a shower curtain with a gray and paprika pattern, then some towels and rugs that matched the various paint chips. Loaded my cart, paid the much too expensive bill, and left the store.

When I got home and hung everything, my bathroom looked like somebody had barfed on a pizza. How can I be so bad at this?

Furthermore, the idea of painting around all those fixtures and cabinets was growing increasingly overwhelming.

Long story short, everything went back to the store. Instead, I shopped locally and spent less. Found the right number of soft, fluffy, charcoal gray towels with rugs and shower curtain. Even found a gray candle, scented like sandalwood. I added a few small touches and I love it—without painting a thing! This time, I wisely ran the towels through the washer and dryer four times before their first use. They’re still giving off lint, but nobody has hinted it’s time for electrolysis, so I think we’re safe. Unless my friends are just too polite.

The lessons? Sometimes a simple change is all that’s needed, and shopping locally really is best.

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6)



Saturday, October 17, 2020


Well, don’t I feel silly. Several weeks ago, I wrote about my long morning walks and their many benefits. I encouraged you to do the same. I invested in good shoes and figured I’d be speed-walking into my nineties. Be like me, I implied.

I’d no sooner hit “publish” on that blog post than my legs began to hurt. So I stretched more often. Kept going. Then it occurred to me that since the pain was worse on one side, perhaps all I needed was one of my good chiropractor’s attitude adjustments. Dr. Narvey gladly obliged. Advised me to keep walking unless the pain grew worse while I walked or immediately after. So far, it hadn’t.

I’d no sooner received his adjustment and advice than I added another ten minutes to my route. (When exactly does “old enough to know better” kick in? Don’t be like me.)

That morning, the pain grew so bad I slowed to a stroll and then a crawl. I sat on my friend Barb’s doorstep to rest—too prideful to knock on the door and ask for a ride home. Called Hubby from my cell. While I waited for him, I limped on, slowly, toward home. By the time he caught up with me, only two blocks remained, but I gratefully climbed into his truck.

I didn’t go walking for a solid two weeks and for most of that time, could barely hobble around my house. How humiliating. They say you need to listen to what your body is telling you, but mine merely points and laughs.

I’m glad to say I’m gradually improving and have been out walking again—just not as far or as fast. Ultrasound and pressure treatments from Dr. Narvey help.

Then a Facebook memory from ten years ago popped up, reminding me I’ve been down this road before: “If I must give up clogging, I want it to be for some cool reason and not because I have a bum knee. And not because I’m too old. Both of which are becoming glaringly obvious. Phooey.”

I thought I’d be clog-dancing into my nineties.

Five years ago, I thought I’d be doing yoga into my nineties. Then a frozen shoulder made most of the poses in my routine impossible.

I’m sensing a pattern here. Old age is creeping up, yanking away the activities beneficial for heart, lungs, balance, flexibility, and strength—all keys to aging well. What will go next? Never mind, don’t answer that. And please don’t tell me to take up swimming because it ain’t happenin.’

My granny used to say, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.”

I really don’t mind the idea of getting older. I just didn’t expect it this soon. But given the alternative, I guess I’ll take it. In II Corinthians 4, Paul tells us, “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (NLB)

Forever is a whole lot longer than my nineties.

One of the walks I frequent.


Friday, October 9, 2020


If you’re finding it difficult to not be crying all the time these days, you’re not alone. The sadness in our world right now can feel truly overwhelming, even when you are one of the fortunate ones. Even acknowledging your blessings can bring on tears because we ache for those in far worse circumstances. Looking around at how much harder others have it does not automatically result in feelings of gratitude. Small opportunities to lift another’s load might help, but they can also make our efforts feel futile. Mere drops in the ocean.

I get it.

So now, here we are at Thanksgiving time 2020. A year ago, none of could have guessed what our world would look like today. And none of us can predict what it will look like a year from now. Do we ignore Thanksgiving this year, in hopes that next year delivers a true celebration of survival and new beginnings? What if those hopes don’t materialize?

Our dining table

Though our traditional gatherings and feasting may not be possible this year, overlooking the spirit of
Thanksgiving is not a good plan. I think most of us agree, but we can’t figure out the best way to acknowledge Thanksgiving.

As tempting as it is to make a long list of things I am (or ought to be) grateful for and call it a blog post, I’m not going to do that to you. Your list needs to be truly your own. I will, however, encourage you to make one. I can think of four reasons why.


1.     For your mental health. Experts tell us that expressing gratitude can improve your mood, reducing stress and depression. Giving thanks makes you more optimistic. Boy, do we all need that right now.


2.     For your physical health. Conveying gratitude can often lead to more healthy habits like eating well and exercising, which leads to higher energy levels, better sleep, and a stronger immune system. Talk about a contribution to the world at large!


3.     For your spiritual health. Being grateful to God is an act of obedience to him. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Things do tend to go better God’s way. Almost as if he’d made us or something.


4.     For the sake of those around you. Isn’t it a lot more fun hanging around people who are habitually grateful? You can improve the lives of those you love simply by adopting a more grateful attitude yourself.

Those are all no-brainers, yet we still find them challenging. I get that, too. Let’s help each other, shall we? Try writing down one good thing that happened each day. If you live with others, ask them, maybe at mealtime, to name something they’re thankful for today. Above all, tell God how grateful you are for his good gifts—and then name them. He’ll love it. (Don’t believe me? Think about how you feel when your own kids express appreciation to you and remember that you’re made in God’s image. Stands to reason.)

American songwriter Johnson Oatman Jr. didn’t have a perfect life any more than you or I do. But in 1897, he penned the words that became the beloved hymn, Count Your Blessings.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

(And if, like me, you’re old enough to know that tune, I hope it’s stuck in your head all week.) Happy Thanksgiving!