Christmas Eve in Davis! Sunday, Dec 28 2008 

We spent a quiet Christmas Eve by opening one gift and then attending St. Martin Episc0pal Traditional Christmas Eve Service at 11:00 pm including celebrating the Eucharist!  It was absolutely wonderful to be celebrating with this congregation here in Davis, California.  There was a String Quaratet which did the prelude of many different carols and the service was amazing!  The sanctuary was totally decorated with poinsettas and Christmas decorations making it so celebratory.  The service was very liturgical with lots of congregational participation.  The Homily was especially meaningful to me personally as the words spoken by the presiding minister was so in tune with who I am and what I have been experiencing the last while…the absolute all  encompassing love of God…love that is so above anything was can imagine…the mystery of this love that God has for us and how his greatest desire is that we love Him in relationship.  Celebrating the Eucharist at the atlar was so meaningful and being their as a family was very special.  There was only one downside, in that, Matt and I had an asthma attack to the incense!  Truly an amazing way to celebrate Christmas Eve and certainly a highlight of this Christmas!

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Christmas 2008 in Davis, California Saturday, Dec 27 2008 

Trip from Saskatoon to Davis was quite the journey through freezing temperatures of below -30C; blowing wind; road covered in ice; we drove to Helena, Montana the first day.  Second day drove through road like a skating rink with cars and semis sliding into the ditches; blowing snow; roads covered in snow; but Jerry the hero driver kept our vehicle on the road and we drove to Battle Mountain, Nevada, and then stopped for the day as we needed chains to get through the Sierra Mountains.  We left Battle Mountain early the next morning and the road had been cleared and they were dry so Jerry could speed to his heart’s content!  Went through Reno, Nevada, which is a beautiful setting, and then drove through mountains newly covered with beautiful snow…absolutely gorgeous…arrived in Davis at 1:00 pm and surpised Matt and Jesika by not having to phone and ask directions to their place…we had a secret helper called a GPS…which is actually a gift for Benny and Tamara but we used it on the way here!!!!!

Great stay here with Matt and Jesika just relaxing; going for coffee and great lunches; touring the University Campus; playing games every evening…lots of fun and lots of great language!!!!  We have gone for lots of long walks with the dogs and have been enjoying the sunshine and warmer weather.

We spent yesterday in Old Sacramento which was awesome!  We also toured the Capitol and saw where the famous Arnold Schwarzaneger has his office and we even got to go into his outeroffice.  Very interesting to see all set out on display was his official trading trip to Canada and a picture of him and Harper in hockey jerseys!  Quite funny!

We are spending a relaxing day today waiting for Benny, Tamara and Chela to arrive from El Centro and we will then finish up our Christmas stockings and gift opening.  Matt and Jerry have been playing some racquetball and Matt is enjoying some rock climbing.  We also took a day and drove through the Napa Valley and saw miles and miles and miles of vineyards and wineries everywhere with huge stone mansions!

Tomorrow we head to Oakland to meet up with my sister Doris’ family.  It will be awesome to spend some time with them as over the years when our kids were small, we spent many a Christmas Season together.  We will be heading to Fisherman’s Wharf to browse and enjoy the day…so that will be fun!

We are exciting to hold and hug our little granddaughter and for her to meet her Uncle Matt and Auntie Jesika for the first time.  It will also be a first meeting of Benny with the rest of Tamara’s family.  Hopefully he won’t be overwhelmed with the Canadian content around him!

All in all, it has been a very different Christmas, but very enjoyable!  Very quiet which is unusual for us as we usually have lots of people around over Christmas in Saskatoon.  This has been nice!  Things will get a little busier when Benny, Tamara and Chela arrive!  We are excited!

Happy Birthday Gloria…you have completed 61 years of living! Tuesday, Dec 9 2008 

Yes, today is my 61st birthday.  I still think and feel that I am 35, but when I look in the mirror there is no doubt that much more life has been lived than just 35 years!  This morning I have been reflecting on my life and where I am today.  I am certainly in a very different place than I was one year ago.  So many things have changed and that is what is so awesome about living…we never know what is coming ahead and that is the adventure of life!  I have done many different jobs and changed professions; but the key to living well is to enjoy the moment…the present.  So much of my time has been spent in the “wishing” stage…wishing things could be better or different, but embracing each day and living it well, I believe, is the key to living a life of fulfillment and significance.  It is in the ordinariness of life where we are changed and developed into the unique human beings we are becoming.

I have so much to be grateful for.  There is no doubt that there have been difficult times in my life, even to the point of me not wanting to live, but even in those dark times, as I look back, there was something taking place in my life that would never had happened without those dark experiences.  I believe it is when we take a good, hard look inside to see who we really are, that we begin to heal and be restored.  Embracing and experiencing the unconditional, amazing Love of The Trinity…The Father, Son and Holy Spirit…has been the most transforming experience of my life.  As I embrace and revel in this amazing, all encompassing love that God has for me (us), and as I believe by faith in the goodness, grace and mercy, of this amazing God, my life is changed significantly and my worth and value comes just from having life, and being given the privilege of living.

I am so grateful for my family and friends.  Relationships and friendships are the most important part of our lives.  They are also the most difficult to keep.  They do not come without intentionality and hard work.  I struggle with this area of my life the most as so often I regret my behaviour and remarks that come out of my mouth!  Forgiveness is another important part of our lives…forgiving others and often, most importantly, forgiving ourselves.  I just finished reading the book “The Shack” and the chapter on forgiveness was so good.  The person who often receives the greatest benefit from forgiving, is ourselves, we are released from the chains of unforgiveness that lead to bitterness.  I have a long way to go in many areas of my life, but I believe that I am facing in the right direction.

My dear friend Alyson, gave me a book last year for the Advent Season and I have been reading it daily, and it has made me ponder lots these days.  On the second Sunday of Advent, Scott  Cairns closes his writing with this prayer, which sums up so much of what my heart desires.

“As this season of preparation continues, Holy God who is with us, may we lean into every moment of our days to redeem the time, to make the most of our every moment.  May we prepare the visible Body of Christ, our community, to receive your eternal approach and your loving embrace.  With our faces turned to you, we await your holy descent, and ask, Lord, that you hear our prayer, offered in humility:

That despite the roar of our days, our hearts might grow still.

That glimpsing the quiet cove, we may seek you in that stillness.

That resting in your presence, our hearts might be prepared to hear you.

That the angel of God might visit the chamber of our hearts.

That the angel of God might say to us, “Rejoice”.

That we might hear, and truly respond in joy.

That the angel of God might say to us, “Rejoice”.

That the servant of God might respond, “Let it be as you say”.

That our hearts might become fertile wombs in which new life begins.

That we may apprehend the infant life within.

That we might embrace that infant life.

That we may walk with care to bring about new birth.

That we may witness the seed of God bearing Holy Fruit.

As the season of incarnation approaches, as we prepare to receive Life himself, may we taste and see how our lives, the life of the world, and the very breath of the universe flow to us from the Holy One made flesh.

Lord, hear our prayer.”