Shoulders tense, I carefully brush white paint around brown bedroom closet trim. There are beige drips of paint from the previous coat of paint on the trim. I am doing one of my least favourite jobs in the world.
I dream of a light, airy bedroom, white walls and a sea foam green feature wall. A white bedspread. But then I think of winter, which is so white here. Maybe I’ll hate it in January.. And this is a farm. How will a white bedspread stay white?
I text with a friend who says the hundreds of trees she planted get ruined by moose and deer. She says she looks forward to gardening in heaven where there are no troubles.
There’s some dreaded paperwork that I need to get done before the end of the month. I work at it, but I can’t understand it. I have to call someone to help me.
The poppies that were just picked droop on the table.
Tori plays a song by Ladaute Chorale that is so beautiful it hurts.
There’s a very sick calf who won’t drink it’s bottle and that poor cow with the dreadful tumour on its jaw.
A small girl is in tears about two missing kittens.
I drive to the field to pick up Bryant and open the windows on the suburban to let in the hay and clover scented air while I wait for him. But I soon close them. The mosquitoes are ferocious tonight.
I read with a pained and sick heart that a long time, well known friend on social media has a son just diagnosed with cancer.
My “afflictions” look light and momentary. Tomorrow will be brighter.
I pray wordless prayers for the pain of the world. I pray that the kittens will come back and that I’ll choose the right bedspread.
The sun glows a beautiful red. I try to capture it on camera, but it only looks yellow. Truly this life is not all there is.
It’s another pretty July morning. In spite of excess rain this year, the day often starts clear and then the showers build as the day progresses.
I’m up earlier than I care to be again.
Can anyone else over 40 relate? Weekend or not, our children can sleep forever. But Dan and I can’t anymore.
I had a cup of coffee and a very good piece of sourdough toast with honey and now I’m in the big brown chair with the usual morning vista spread out in front of me. I wish a photo would do it justice.
It’s been wonderful to have summer again. You will see me gushing about it on social media, posting flower pictures that probably bore people and being exuberant about long days and glorious sunsets and the scent of clover and the yellow canola fields.
I’ve been thinking a lot about social media again lately. My time with God feels super dry right now and I wonder if giving up social media altogether would help that problem at all.
I love being in touch with friends and family, though. I thrive on relationships and a place to express myself in writing. I am encouraged by so many of you that I’m not alone.
I don’t believe for a minute that online friendships can take the place of real life relationships, but I think there’s a good balance and many of you have found it. My goal is that my phone always takes second place to the people near me. I fail at this sometimes, but I keep trying.
An artist called littlest_birdie on Instagram recently featured me in one of her daily paintings, doing something I enjoy.
I love it!
It’s a quiet summer so far in that we haven’t gone far from home at all. We’d hoped to make a trip to Wisconsin, but with the border closed, that’s not really an option. We could likely get across because we’re all American citizens. But then we’d have to quarantine when we got home. And Dan doesn’t want to do that.
We have five kittens and they’ve been destroying some of my flowerbeds. I am so sad about this. But Liesl and Dan get so much fun out of the little creatures that I have a hard time begrudging them that. They ARE so cute and playful.
We also got seven little pigs. We’re getting quite the McDonald farm around here.
The county is redoing the road below our place, making it very wide and spacious. It is a ROYAL MESS. We can’t take walks down there right now, so we drive somewhere else, park, and walk.
I’ve been feeling really good and I’m so, so grateful.
What do you do to keep your time with Jesus meaningful?
I’m out in the garden, pulling up tiny clover roots from the marigolds, and I feel again the niggling of discontentment and comparison. Here I am, fighting dandelions and clover like I do every June.
Am I making a difference in the world in even small ways, I wonder.
Will I ever feel good and strong enough to take in those extra kids who need a forever home like I’ve always dreamed of doing?
My friend Christy in Atlanta helps fight systemic racism by raising money for a mom community and housing for low income single moms.
My friends Carissa and Judy have adopted kids and are bold and fearless about their beliefs.
And I’m here pulling weeds on a beautiful day of our fleeting northern summer. In the winter, I struggle to survive mentally.
What can I do? The world is aching. I feel like I must DO something, however small.
But I don’t even know if I have a platform for sharing my quiet beliefs.
A lot of our friends don’t really have the same view of world issues as Dan and I do. It’s kind of lonely.
And “I read a Facebook post that really changed my mind,” said no one ever. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still,” as my dad used to say.
But I want to think positively about spreading news of Jesus’ kingdom.
It starts in small ways. Faithfulness. Loving difficult people who think so differently from me. Living what I believe at home, in church, and when I’m shopping. Helping my neighbour. Supporting my community. Examining my traditions and seeing if they are on target. Being willing to learn and grow and change. Saying, “I’m with Jesus, not a political party.” Support causes that aid in spreading good news and awareness.
There are more weeds to pull. Nothing has changed. But the envy is gone.
I can draw and write and visit and encourage and teach and learn. In these ways I can exemplify a kingdom that is not earthly and selfish and militant.
For the month of May I wrote daily on my Instagram and Facebook stories about things I noticed and was thankful for. It kind of took the place of blogging and I started looking forward to doing it at the end of each day.
Now it’s June and time for a break from that. But I feel like writing. It was so ironic that over lockdown when there was so much time to write, I couldn’t get inspired to blog even once. With so much happening, I feel pressure to give my views, but I’m just NOT a political person and though I care deeply about the issues, I don’t feel like adding my view to the thousands of voices out there already is really necessary. Not that I judge those of you who feel passionately and express yourselves a lot. But I’ve needed to really step back from social media to keep from going too crazy. I’m not a strong person and I internalize way too much.
Some of you have been asking how it’s going for me emotionally. The month of May felt like a honeymoon. I started a new medication and it really helped a lot. I think its effects are wearing off a little now, but I’ve been coping and life is SO much better than it had been. I’m just drinking in the beauty of this time of year and counting all the little gifts.
This morning we went back to church for the first time in 12 weeks. The province is allowing groups that are one-third the capacity of a building and no more than 50 people. So we have to ask a family or two to stay home. But it was so nice to meet again. Our chairs are all spaced out and we sit in family groups.
It was weird to wake up and put on church clothes and stick lunch in the oven and remember the newsletters and the items that needed to be returned to people and rush out the door. But it was familiar and it was good.
School is pretty much completed and we’re waiting on some good heat to make the garden and crops grow. It looks like we might be in for another rainy summer, which I find hard to accept. But everything’s a lovely green and the clouds are phenomenal.
This would be a much more interesting post if I’d express my views on current events. But I’m at a loss for words.
There’s a fresh green tinge to the poplars across the road and even though it’s a gloomy evening, it’s still very light at 9:45 pm.
This morning I mailed a painting to Colorado with a happy sigh. It was a difficult one and I prayed a lot over it because I couldn’t seem to get it right. But I sent a finished picture of it to the customer and she said it was perfect-and better than she had envisioned. So that makes me very glad.
I took a trip to town with the girls today. We looked at the many shades of white paint for their bedroom and then at instapots and pretty dishes while the paint mixed.
I am loathe to crack open paint buckets and lay plastic down on the carpet. They’re all excited, but I’m groaning inwardly at the mess that will ensue for the next week.
Over supper we talk about the latest gun restrictions in Canada and the story of Ahmed Aubery, the African American killed in Georgia by a father and son. Opinions abound.
I’ve been reading The Story Within by Linda Oliver and trying to get inspiration for writing. One of the writing prompts is “Things I love”.
I’ll tell you three of mine:
The teachings of Jesus: Non militance. Love for our enemies. The blessedness of meekness and mourning and hungering after righteousness. His love and care for the downtrodden.
Dan: His strength. His hair. His emphasis on the teachings of Jesus. His passion for regenerative farming. His love for our children.
Springtime: Bleeding hearts and peonies coming to life. Ditching the boots and gloves. Green, green, green. Bird songs.
“You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club.” -Jack London
My heart almost always longs to write. Lying on my bed on a depressive day, picking out the ballerina slipper in the swirls of the flowered wallpaper border on my wall, I wish I could write about what it’s like to live like this.
(Does anyone still have wallpaper borders? And what I mean by the ballerina shoe is not that my wallpaper border has them pictured in it–but the way the flowers are designed, I can pick out a cute shoe about every 12 inches. I used to find the same face over and over in the tiles of our bathroom walls when I was a little girl.)
I want to write about Andre’s droll comments on a school morning, shading a watercolour flower, the books I’m reading about writing, the niggling fear when I feel better that I’m headed for a manic episode.
But I’m always waiting for the perfect moment, the coming together of random thoughts, and something beautiful and harmonious to happen. It never does. “No one hates himself more than a writer who isn’t writing.” -Laura Oliver-
I’m not saying I’m a writer. But I’m a wannabe. Does that count?
(True to form, I will spend half of my blog post whining about wishing to write but seldom doing it. It’s ludicrous.)
It helps to dash off a quick Instagram post. But a lot of you who read here aren’t on other social media. I journal every day too. But it’s the sharing it with others that makes writing most meaningful to me.
These quiet days at home are teaching me new things. I feel like I’m learning to know my children and Dan better. It’s so uncanny to go to bed on Saturday night and know that there’s no church the next day. No nursing home singing. No Bible study. And no school schedule.￼
Like usual, I try to stay faaaaaaaar away from the politics and debates surrounding this whole virus thing. I long for peace, health, and kindness like all of us do.
I’ve been painting cards.
We went on a walk in the cold this afternoon. Here’s a snowflake on Tori’s dress.
I’ve had a week of good emotional health after long, dull weeks of flatness. I’m so very grateful! I don’t know why there’s been a change, but I’m thanking Jesus.
Well. My inspiration fled as soon as I had a good, uninterrupted time to write. Here’s some C.S. Lewis that our deacon put into an email he sent out to people from church this morning.
CS Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948) – In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb.”How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”
In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors – anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of a painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.
This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible things – praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts – not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.
After breakfast at Miss Mary’s house, we went to the place near Carmelita where you get on a river boat and go to Lamanai, the Mayan ruins.
We had Collin as our guide and he was just great.
Liesl was transfixed with water lilies.
Sadly, we didn’t see any crocodiles. But we did see lots of neat birds. And the ruins did not disappoint.
It was a good day. In the evening we went to Rose and Felipe’s for supper. She made the most delicious fried chicken. And then there was peanut butter and lemon cream pie for dessert.
On Sunday morning it was so sweet to walk to church and see everyone. Dan preached and then we went to Carlos and Shawlenie’s for such a good lunch of recado pork. The children had fun playing games and then swimming in their little pool.
I didn’t mention that on Friday night we moved over to Carmelita to Junior and Raquel’s house. Junior was gone to the states and Raquel and her children moved over to her in-laws and gave us their house. We felt so incredibly indebted, but it was simply lovely to have our own space. And Raquel insisted on doing our laundry and keeping the fridge full of tea and lime juice. I tried to protest. But since I know Raquel as a very determined person who doesn’t say things she doesn’t mean, I finally quit and we just soaked in the TLC. Which also involved us using her vehicle a few times. Such kindness.
On Sunday afternoon we had a luscious nap after lunch and then went walking again. We visited Mr. Nevin and Mrs. Wanda, who have a lovely yard.
We also visited Victoria Sho and her girls. But I forgot to get any pictures there. 😞
Then we went to Nic and Jon Stutzman’s for supper. Liesl had become fast friends with their Leah at the reunion, so the girls were anxious to be together.
That was Sunday. We had now been in Belize a full week. None of us were ready to go home, but had to face the fact that time was winding down.
On Monday morning we had an early morning ride to Belize City with Mr. Tim. We caught the water taxi and headed out to Caye Caulker.
Oh my. The sights, smells, and sounds of the Caribbean. I didn’t get good pictures that day. Not that any of my phone pics are actually good anyway….😩😜
We chartered a boat on the caye to take us out snorkeling. I didn’t snorkel this time, but everyone else did. The coral and sea life is amazing. You even swim with sharks. On this boat, we met a sweet couple from Costa Rica who are travelling from Costa Rica to Alaska and taking two years at it. They have a little yellow Volkswagen bus and have quite a few followers on Instagram. Look up Kaladeviaje if you’re interested in their trip.
That evening after getting back to Carmelita, we went to visit Dave and Kris Martin for a bit. Our children spent the night with two of theirs. Liesl had a sleepover with her friend Leah and came marching into the house we stayed in the next morning saying, “Sorry, Dad. I’m not leaving Belize! I’m just not going.”
Tuesday was fun. We just spent it around Carmelita. We visited Mrs. Juana and Mrs. Dorcas Yoder and my friend Francisca, who gave me a purse she embroidered and to the girls she gave bracelets. ￼
Andrea made us a wonderful lunch and then she, Raquel, and I went to Orangewalk and did a little bit of fabric shopping.
The girls got their hair cornrowed by Wendy.
That evening we went to Tim and Rhoda’s, where Dan helped them a bit with their cattle and we had barbeque like old times, along with beans and tortillas and other yummy things.
Mr. Virgil and Mrs. Martha were there, along with Richard and Emily.
Wednesday was the day to go home. Jeff and Vi Carpenter had us for breakfast and it was mighty fine. It was chicken, refried beans, tortillas and fry jacks, and eggs. We also had fresh fruit. Their family is fun to be with.
Raquel took us to the airport and I tried not to cry when we said goodbye.
It was warm for February and sunny the first day we were home.
And that concludes our trip to Belize. I have seldom written something so factual and not cared about the fact that a lot of it means little to you if you don’t know the people I talk about. But so be it this time.
I’ve been telling people that it was a trip that pretty much met our expectations in every way. My highlight was just being with friends again. The children loved the cayes and new friendships. And Dan liked all of it.
I’m sorry that we missed seeing a few people in the village who weren’t home when we stopped by.
All in all, it was a very satisfying time. I hope we can go again soon.
The other day Tori was looking through my pictures from Belize and she said, “Mom, you need to blog about this!” I am hesitant for several reasons. It might not be interesting to a lot of you unless you know the people down there. And I’m afraid that I will just gush. And not everyone is privileged to take a trip like that. But I think I will write about it for my own sake and you can read along if you wish.
15 years ago we made the decision to come home after living for two years in Belize. We couldn’t make such a big decision on our own, so we asked for a public lot to decide. We loved Belize and Alberta equally and the call to leadership felt so similar from both places. The lot fell to return to Alberta, so here we are.
We hadn’t been back for nine years, so it felt like this visit was long overdue.
Day 1: Left home at 6:00 AM so that we could visit the ice castles in Edmonton before boarding the plane for Calgary.￼
Overnighted in Calgary.
Said goodbye to the frozen world on Sunday morning, February 9. We got up at 2:30 that morning.
Flying is so different than it used to be with small ones. But now we have so many OPINIONS to deal with. 😜😂
We had an uneventful flights both there and back. I am always amazed at the miles you can travel without a glitch. So grateful to God for protection.
It was wondrous to step off the plane and feel the WARMTH.
Rose and Felipe Rhaburn’s boys, Kenton and Jared met us at the airport , along with Junior and Raquel Lanza’s AJ. They’re all these tall, handsome young men and they were just little guys when we saw them last. We crowded into their big white truck and three of the boys climbed into the back. Kenton drove like crazy, but seemed very capable. We’d forgotten about speed bumps. And it was beautiful to see palm trees and bougainvillea and multicoloured cement houses with pretty porches and wash on the lines in the hot breeze. I told the girls that I’d always longed for a little mint green house in Belize. And Natalia said to Dan, “Why did you ever leave?” We passed people selling coconut water and green plums and bananas at the speed bumps.
After the hour’s drive back to Carmelita, we got to Rose and Felipe’s, where they gave us popcorn and lime juice and the evening breezes were blowing through the open windows and doors and their tall, graceful girls were making pizza bread for evening supper company. My friend Raquel says that Rose doesn’t have to go anywhere because all the people come to her because she and Felipe are so hospitable.
I went next door and hugged my dear friend Raquel because I couldn’t wait till the next day to see her.
After a bit, Robert Dale Byler from Missouri came and picked us up and took us the 20 minutes to San Antonio, where the famous Mr. Tim and Mrs. Rhoda Miller live. They had invited us to stay with them and we were so honoured. In Belize the title of respect is Mr. and Miss in front of a first name. I love it. And for a married lady you write it Mrs., but say it Miss.
(One of the purposes of our trip was to go to a reunion for all the people who have served under the Bethel fellowship mission in Orangewalk, Belize. So I will mention people who don’t live there anymore and you will see pictures of non-Belizeans.)
Out at Tim and Rhoda’s we had a glad reunion and went around the farm looking at puppies and trees and cows and plants.
Ryan and Ramona (Tim’s daughter and husband who live in San Antonio in a cute little house) came for supper that evening and so did Mahlon and Gina Zehr. That was wonderful because Gina was a VSer when we lived down there and I don’t think we’d seen each other since, though we faithfully send each other Christmas pictures and she has the dearest little family.
On Monday morning we were up with the sun and birds. Mrs. Rhoda made us wonderful coffee and we took a little walk in the village and basked in the warm sunshine. I could just hug that morning sun. It gets hot and mean sometimes. But to wake up to warmth every morning is just an incredible experience.
That day a group of us ladies went to Shipyard, which is a community of very traditional Mennonites who still drive horse and buggy. We went fabric shopping and some of us got a massage from a gentle little Mennonite lady. The fabric cost around five dollars a yard Belize, which is $2.50 in US money. And the 20 minute massage I had was $10 Belize. But I gave more. Because….!!!!
After shopping we went to Carmelita, where we did a bit of helping out with setting up for the reunion the next day. Then our family went visiting.
That evening we went to Junior and Raquel’s for curry chicken. And she had fried plantain too, which was SO GOOD. The company was even better.
The next two days were busy spent reunioning. The good pictures I share here are taken by Davy Steinhauer, who is one of the teachers at the beautiful new school in Carmelita where the reunion was held. Good food and fun memory sharing characterized those days. Natalia washed lots of dishes and Andre and Liesl played their hearts out. Bryant got slightly bored but was a good sport.
I could share a lot more pictures of those days, but I don’t know where to start and stop. We watched old picture slides from years ago. The youth and children sang in the evening service at the Carmelita church. That was delightful. The church was packed out, with people standing outside.
We went for tacos one morning.
The children had a blast on the back of the truck in the cool night air.
The reunion was Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday was dentist day. We all got our teeth cleaned and some got cavities filled, all for a fraction of the cost of what it would be in Canada.
Thursday evening we went to Davy and Crystal Steinhauer’s for supper. They have the cutest little family and we had fun comparing notes about life in the mission house.
On Friday we drove to Banana Bank, where Dan’s aunt and uncle, John and Betsy Troyer from up here at Fort St. John, are administrators for 6 weeks each winter at Trades for Life. It is a six week program for teaching young men mechanics, plumbing, computer skills, etc.
They showed us all around the place and we were so happy to see them and were impressed with their work and vision. Then we drove together in the Orangewalk mission van out to Spanish Lookout, which is another Mennonite colony, very progressive. There the van started to give us trouble. We ate lunch at Western Dairies.
The van gave us a lot of trouble on the way home. It was a stellar experience for all of us. Could write much more about that.
On Saturday we got up for an 8 o’clock breakfast at Miss Mary’s house.￼ Mary is from our church, but has served in Belize for more than 20 years. She made us such a good meal and we loved our stay at her tiny, comfortable little place.
I think it’s time to wrap this up so you don’t get too bored. I’ll finish later.
It’s been a quiet Sunday afternoon at our house. I took a nap and Dan played “Pit” with the children. They are currently on various devices and he is out putting out some bales for shelter for his heifers.
I took a walk in the -24 C sunshine. While I was walking, Andrew and Lorne, two friends from church, stopped by and said hello as they drove by. “Are you brewing up a blog post, Luci?” asked Andrew. (I think those were his words, anyway.) “It’s been a while since I read something you wrote.”
I was honored. But I said, “I don’t feel much like writing right now.”
Then I came in and had some tea and thought about drawing. But I have a difficult picture to do and I just don’t seem to have the strength to tackle it.
I actually HAVE been feeling like writing (so that was kind of a lie, Andrew…sorry!) and I’ve been scribbling all manner of thoughts down in my orange notebook. Many of my thoughts come while lying on my bed.
Because yeah. I’ve had that kind of a week again. But as I told someone through tears after church this morning, I feel like such a broken record. Luci is depressed again. What’s new?
I imagine people saying behind my back that they think I do it for attention. Or that I’m lazy. Because I worry that I’m both: attention-seeking and lazy. But then I know that I am neither.
Jan 29, Wednesday morning.
Well that was a cheery beginning to a blog post. I long to write humorous and wise things like Dorcas Smucker. Or godly things like so many of the renowned bloggers out there. Or pithy, practical posts like Dorcas Peight. Or things that challenge our Mennonite minds like Rosina Schmucker.
But here I am and I’m still feeling kind of stuck in this fog of depression. I keep telling people lately that it’s neither wildly good or terribly bad right now. I see the beauty of the world and the people in it–and God Himself. But as I wrote for our family letter, the Peachey Post, this is the line I walk:
“It feels like I’m walking on a high, narrow wall of sanity. Sometimes it widens for a bit and I can relax and enjoy the scenery. Other times it’s so narrow that it cuts into my feet and makes them bleed. Anxiety and fear and overthinking nearly overtake me and I feel desperately like I’m going to fall. When I feel like that, I often go lie down and try to forget everything by sleeping. And surprisingly, I often do sleep. I try to get up and walk the wall again, but then I wonder why I’m even bothering. I have no motivation or purpose. But still I must walk. Make another meal. Get out in the fresh air yet again. Prepare for company. Clean the toilet.”
Drawing and painting helps. Though I don’t invite people over as often as I used to, having company helps me. We clean the house and I make food and it takes the focus off of myself.
A lot of my angst lately comes from the confusion and clutter of my house. I’m almost ready to hire a Marie Condo. I have so many things that don’t spark joy. You probably wouldn’t think it’s that bad if you walked through our door right now. As one of my kids put it, “Your house might be cluttered, Mom. But at least it’s clean.” (Well…thanks.) I’m sure lots of you can relate and many of you can’t.
The last time I saw my psychiatrist, I weepingly told him that I don’t really want more medications because they don’t seem to be doing a lot of good anyway. He suggested sitting under a SAD light. I already had one from previous bouts with depression, but I had never used it consistently. But I have been getting up early and sitting by it for my morning prayer/reading time. I think it might be doing some good. I’ve also tried all manner of natural supplements, which I’ve probably already told you.
I’ve been helping my sister sew some dresses for the girls and me for our Belize trip, which is less than two weeks away. I can’t believe it! We are all so excited.
If you don’t see me interacting much on Facebook lately, it is because I have come to realize that it’s better if I don’t spend much time there at all. I get tied up in knots over the arguments and the politics. And I am weary of all the shares instead of the personal stories. I thought of just deactivating my account, but I use it for a family page we have there–and I also like to link my blog on Facebook. And you know I like to post there as well, as you see that I have been doing frequently lately. But I like Instagram so much better. It’s much more gentle to the senses.
Having said that, I admire people who stand up for what they believe and aren’t ashamed of it. But right now I feel overly sensitive and it’s just better if I stay away.
Bear with me as I post a few drawings for those who are not on Facebook or Instagram.
Well, this post feels self-centered and I’m sorry. Some of you have asked how I’m doing, so now you know.
I LOVE this, posted on Instagram this morning by my friend Lisa.
“We are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are we free to abandon it.”
Love you and thanks again for reading here. I’m always amazed and honored that you do.