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I Think I Killed the Bickersons

I'm the nature lady at a children's camp. My camp name is 'Freedom', and I teach the kids interesting facts about nature. For instance, did you know that ants only fart once a day, compared with humans who, on average, fart fourteen times a day? Ants have two stomachs;one is for themselves and the other, the crop, is larger and is filled with food which the ant will regurgitate to feed the other ants back home. An ants butt hole is situated, not at the back where one would expect, but in the middle of the ant. Now, if you feed the ant icing sugar mixed with baking soda it will gorge on this mixture, filling it's crop to share at the dining table. Because the ant doesn't fart very often, the baking soda will cause gas to build up within the ant until eventually it literally blows the ant in two. An interesting little fact.

Over the past few years I've noticed ants crawling around our patio. I've tried to ignore them because I've taught the kids at camp to respect nature. Everything created has a purpose, even though we might not recognize it at first. Did you know that the sap from a dandelion can get rid of warts? Point made.

This year when I went out to the patio I saw that the ants had taken over. They weren't just innocently wandering around; they were crawling all over the furniture. Ugh! Time to do something.

I could have fed them icing sugar and baking soda. I could have been kind to the environment. Instead I bought me some 'Ant Out'! Go big or go home! Every day, for over a week, I sprayed the patio with this liquid cocktail. The war was on!

For several years I've had a love/hate relationship with the Bickersons, two sparrows who decided to make their home here with us, first in one vent and then in another. Last year I saw them take up residence in our neighbours vent, and that suited me quite fine. They would come to dine at the feeders in our back yard but then they'd go home when the party was over. Yes, I did struggle with whether or not to tell my neighbours about them but, really, it was an ideal arrangement for me and that is all that counts.

The Bickersons are messy when they dine, spreading bird seed all over our patio. Occasionally I attempt to sweep it away, but because our patio is made of slate slabs and sand much of the seed remains in the cracks. I DID sweep the patio before I treated it with the Ant Out. To be honest, though, I wasn't thinking about the Bickersons when I sprayed. I did consider the bees. I've been reading about how pesticides kill bees, but there isn't anything near our patio that bees would feast on so I thought I was safe. I wasn't thinking! (I can hear my boss's voice adding, "As usual".)

Last week I saw Mr. Bickerson eating some of the bird seed on the patio. Before I could suggest something else on the menu he had flown away. He hasn't been back. Nor has Mrs. Bickerson. There have been other sparrows eating at the feeders but I haven't seen the Bickersons.

A friend of mine asked how I could tell. Hey, I've been waging war with these critters for years! I KNOW the Bickersons! My heart is breaking, just a little bit. I mean, once they'd moved next door they really weren't so bad. They were messy and noisy but they did leave!

The big frustration is that the ants didn't die!! Ant Out killed the surface ants but if I didn't spray daily the ants would once again begin to swarm. Our patio now looks like it's covered with snow. I haven't seen a single ant for days. I haven't seen the Bickersons either. Yup, I think I might have killed them.

In Loving Memory...

31 years ago today my dad died of cancer. The manner in how he died spoke volumes about his character.
Dad was diagnosed with cancer on October 4th of 1983. I remember the date because it was also my 25th birthday. Happy Birthday to me. His illness progressed rapidly and by April of 1984 he looked like someone from a war camp, incredibly thin and weak. He vowed, however, to live until he saw the leaves on the trees one last time.
Arrangements were made for Dad to remain at home throughout his illness. Doctor Wright stopped by the house on a regular basis, as did various home care and health care workers. Mom was taught how to give Dad injections of morphine and Gravol as required. There was an orange on the top shelf of the fridge door that Mom insisted we not eat because that was what she had used to practice giving injections and it was full of morphine and Gravol. I'm not sure why she saved it, or why she would have used the actual drugs while practicing. Mom is a hoarder and doesn't like to throw out anything with even a hint of value, and that orange may have been worth something on the black market. Personally, I would have cut it up and put it into a fruit salad!
On the Easter weekend our family met at Mom's and Dad's to celebrate together. Because my oldest sister and her family were from out of town we agreed to honor the holiday on Saturday so that they could travel back home on Easter Sunday. My brother-in-law arrived at the house with a tree branch bearing green leaves. I could have shot him! This was giving my Dad permission to die and I was not ready to let him go!
Easter Sunday arrived and everyone left, except for me. I had the Monday off from work so I planned to spend that Sunday and part of Monday with Dad. He had other plans. Early that evening he told me that it was time for me to leave. I explained that the following day was a holiday for me and that I planned to stay for one more night but he insisted that I leave. Feeling rejected and heartbroken I began the 2 hour drive home.
After I left, Dad asked Mom to call Dr. Wright and request that he come to the house. The good doctor didn't hesitate to respond. He seemed to sense what was on Dad's heart. You see, Dad was planning to die on his own terms. He had said goodbye to each of his family members and when the time came to say goodbye to Mom he didn't want her to be alone. Once Dr. Wright arrived Dad chose to breathe his last. Much like Jesus, he acknowledged that 'it was finished' and he surrendered his life up to his maker. Moments after I arrived at home I received the phone call that Dad was gone. In his death, as in his life, Dad continued to quietly love us and look out for us and our well being. 31 years later I still miss him.

Murtle Lake, 2014

Every year the Reichelts and the Scotts take off together for another adventure. We've gone hiking, biking, canoeing and even white water rafting together. This year our destination was Murtle Lake in the mountains of southern Wells Gray Park, B.C. To get to the lake we had to drive 27 km from Blue River up a one lane logging road, and then we had to portage 2.5 km down to the water. The camp sites which dotted the two arms of the lake were accessible only by canoe.

Taking the trip to Murtle Lake was a great decision. Taking a trip in June was a reasonable plan. Taking the trip to Murtle Lake in June was, perhaps, not the best combination. There are good things to going in June and then there are some not so good things. On the plus side, there were very few bugs and even fewer people. For much of the time we felt like we had the lake all to ourselves. On the other hand, Murtle Lake in June is very much like April in Alberta. It was chilly. The water was still very high so most of the camp sites were at least partially submerged. There was snow back in the trees and even along the road on the drive up. The sun was fickle, and the wind was a neurotic woman, newly scorned. We never knew when she would strike or from which direction. We generally wore 3 or 4 layers of clothes along with a hat and gloves. The challenge in this trip was with the elements!

All of that aside, it was a great trip! It is so much fun when 4 good friends take off together, out of cell phone range and away from modern technology.

We always seem to eat like royalty on these trips. Having packed fresh food for the first few days (steak, chicken, fresh produce and eggs!) we eventually turned to the food I had dehydrated for the trip. Home dehydrated food is nothing like the stuff you buy from your local sports store. There are no strange chemicals in it and the variety is impressive. We ate seafood newburg, chicken fettucini, summer lasagna and so forth. The very nice thing about canoe trips is that we have the room for a couple of small coolers and even a frying pan. Yes, we ate well!

The wild life on the lake was mesmerizing! Birds and moose and frogs and toads! Vegetation with which I am totally unfamiliar!

We hiked into Lake Anderson, being the first to make this trek in 2014. What should have been a 3 hour hike turned out to take us 4 hours because of all of the treefall on the path. 35 trees had fallen during the winter, forcing us to climb over or under or around them. The path was quite boggy and much of it was still covered with snow. But such a blessing! I will hold on to the memories from that day for a long time to come. The flowers were gorgeous! Dew berries dotted the sides of the path! The skunk cabbage was prolific!

The last night of our trip was at site 2 which is only a short paddle to the dock. It was our most beautiful night. The sun was cooperative and the wind had subsided. We sat around the fire watching frogs swimming along the shore. It didn't dawn on us what they were doing until it became dark and we were surrounded with the cries of numerous frogs and toads. Kerri and I decided to make one last trip to the outhouse before bed and discovered how difficult it was to avoid stepping on these critters. These were not small! They were the size of the palm of my hand! I lay in bed later that night waiting for them to come scratching on the sides of our tent! Thankfully, they were gone by morning!

We have decided that we will definitely revisit Murtle Lake. This time we went in June and we travelled the eastern arm. Next time we will go in September and paddle the north arm. I'm already excited at the thought of planning our next adventure!

My legs hurt

My legs hurt. I feel like ranting about this MS thing with which I'm dealing but I don't want to bore anyone. My legs really hurt!
I'm starting to get a bit concerned. It used to be that when MS symptoms arose I knew to lay low, relax, take it easy for awhile and the symptoms would disappear. This is different. It is hanging on persistently and consistently. There is no variation and no relief.
It concerns me that I might not be able to do the things I have planned for my life. What if I can't hike or canoe or ski? What if these symptoms don't disappear? What if I have to quit work?
I'm concerned that life will go on without me. I know that my friends will be sympathetic but eventually, if I can't do things with them, I'll end up being left at home. I'm already so bored and frustrated to the point of tears. I want to be doing things!
Alot of people don't know my condition or don't understand how it has progressed. I'm concerned that they won't understand why I'm not helping out more. I just want to be doing something!!!
If I knew how long this sentence is going to be I'd have an easier time dealing with it. If I knew that it was just a matter of waiting a certain number of days before I was well again I'd be able to more easily maintain my sanity.
UGH! I wish I knew what to do to help my condition. I wish there was some sort of progress or some sort of hope. Frustrating and depressing.

And on it goes.

When I was first diagnosed with MS in 1990 I believed that my life was over, at least in any useful fashion. I asked Bob to put me into McKenzie Place and marry someone else. There was no hope.
I've reached that point again. I am feeling that, perhaps, I'm on that slippery slope of no return. My symptoms have been hanging on for over a year. Does that mean that I won't recover? My symptoms seem to be getting worse. Does that mean I should give up hope of living an active life? Should I adjust to my 'disability'?
Please, God! Have mercy on me! Please baptize me with your blood once again. Pour your healing oil over my head and make me whole!
I want to curl up and cover my head. I don't want to face the world because in this world lays the reality of my condition. I want to sleep and dream, because in my dreams I can fly!
Today I'd like to hike into camp but my legs won't take me there.
Today I'd like to shovel the back sidewalk because it is so very difficult to lift my feet through the snow. My arms aren't strong enough to carry the shovel.
Today I'd like to paint a picture. My fingers aren't coordinated enough to steadily hold my brushes.
Today I'd like to clean up this house! I really do get tired of the messes........but I have no energy. So much easier to close my eyes and hope the world will go away.
Today is a new day. I choose to put one foot in front of the other, as long as I am able. I choose to look ahead, as long as my eyes can still see. I choose to lift my arms in praise, and when I don't have the strength to lift them I will prop them up and sing with my hoarse and horrid voice to the God who created me and understands more than even I do what pain and frustration is! Today I choose to believe in the beauty of God's creation. I will not wallow nor will I whine!
Today is a new day! I will rejoice and be glad in it!

THIS Year!

THIS year our daughter will be by herself for Christmas. Her room mate doesn't celebrate Christmas so they don't have a tree. Christmas dinner will likely be at the McDonald's across the street from where she lives. I'm grateful for the Punjabi community in which she lives because many of the people don't celebrate Christmas so they are able to keep places like McDonalds open for people like Bri.

THIS year we are hoping that Lisa will be transferred to Grande Prairie and maybe even get a day pass from the hospital so she can spend part of Christmas with her husband and her three children. She won't be able to open her own presents or walk in a winter wonderland because this year Lisa has no fingers or feet. I am grateful that Lisa's life has been spared and that she will be coming home.......eventually.

THIS year Monica won't have any hair for Christmas. She was supposed to have her fourth chemo treatment on Christmas Eve day but she managed to get that moved until December 27th. I am grateful for her newly wedded husband. I'm grateful that she has someone to walk with through this dark time.

THIS year Rob will spend his first Christmas without Angele. Both of his girls are married now and while that must bring joy to Robs heart it must also punctuate the loneliness of this season. I am grateful that Rob has his girls and their husbands to bring him comfort and company.

THIS Christmas my stepdad is in a special care facility for people with alzheimers. I'm not sure which is worse, his deteriorating mind or his deteriorating health. I am very grateful that Chuck still knows who we are and that he will be able to join us for a few hours on Christmas day.

And on it goes. And on, and on, and on.

During this festive season I wish a Merry Christmas to friends and strangers alike, knowing that my good wishes will not guarantee them a merry life. In fact, John 16:33 says, "In this world you will have trouble." It's a given that life here on earth will be full of trials and difficulties. It is the next line in this verse that allows us to have a Merry Christmas: "But take heart I (Jesus) have overcome the world." Jesus came into the darkness to give us hope. No matter what happens in this life we can know that this is not the end. This is not all there is to it. Jesus defeated the darkness so that we can enjoy His peace here on earth and rest in the promise of a joyous life everlasting.

Merry Christmas! Peace on earth, good will toward men!


I have struggled greatly during the past year. Emotionally, spiritually, physically I have not been well.
The sudden death of my nephew seemed to herald in this horrible hopelessness. It was, at least, the exclamation mark that punctuated the title of this chapter and it certainly marked the onset of my current and ongoing struggles with MS.
Or maybe it was the straw that broke this camel's back.
No longer being able to look upon life's pleasures my eyes only focussed on the sorrows and tragedies of this world. I spent the year fighting to keep my face above the angry waves of an unrelenting storm. Just thinking back on some of the horrors makes me drop my face into my hands. Where is there hope? Where is there joy?
I used to cling to Nehemiah 8:10; 'The joy of the Lord is your strength', it proclaims. This summer I laughed so hard that I fainted and I wore that badge of honor for over a month until it became apparent that this was becoming a trend. If I laugh with too much joy I pass out. Vasovagal syncope. Without getting too technical let me explain that this appears to be another MS development. Poop.
Sorrow. Sorrow. Sorrow. Anguish strangled my heart. For an entire year bile choked me, as every piece of news seemed worse than the one before. Consider the Christians in North Korea who were massacred,shot with machine guns until their bodies were unrecognizable. Or the couple whose two year old child was abducted and then returned to them roasted and served on a bed of rice. Yes, this world is full of unimaginable horrors. I felt helpless...........hopeless. What could I do to fix any of this? It was too much.........too much.
It would have been easier if I could simply concentrate on myself. If I selfishly blocked out the rest of the world I could wallow in my many, many blessings. My personal life is very good right now but during this past year I've felt too guilty to enjoy it. How could I be happy when the rest of the world struggled under a burden of ugliness?
Last week I travelled to Dawson for my step father's birthday (another sorrow, that one. My stepdad has alzheimers and is not a well man. It breaks my heart!). During the trip we listened to 'Duck the Halls', a Christmas CD by Duck Dynasty's Robertson family. It crossed my mind that this family seems happy, genuinely happy. How is it that some people can enjoy life without being dragged down by the ugliness?
And then it happened. Missy Robertson sang that familiar hymn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow but for the first time I really paid attention to the lyrics.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And that, dear friends, is my hope. On Christmas day in the form of a little baby hope entered this world and the light dispelled the darkness. Ugliness continues on the face of this earth but it does not have the victory. The light grows every brighter and hope grows every stronger.
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Post Script:
Here is a wierd one for you: Today I listened to the CD again and that song is not on there! How very strange! I have no idea how I came to fixate on that song. I am 100% sure that it was the only CD we listened to that day, certainly the only Christmas CD.
When I realized my error I thought that I should rush home to rewrite this entry but I don't know how. How do I explain my error, or correct it? My mind has certainly malfunctioned before and I won't argue about how I did or did not hear that song as sung by Missy Robertson. Just know that somehow this happened and the ancient hymn spoke a newness into my heart. I shall leave my entry as is, I suppose.

And on it goes.

My life has been blessed. By all counts I should be relishing my current position. Instead, I asked God to let me see the world through His eyes and now I see so much heart ache and sorrow. I struggle to keep my head above the sinking sand. Something is wrong with this picture. Yes, God sees the sorrow but He sees the world through eyes of Hope. He knows the outcome. He knows the end of the story. Oh, how I long for that hope. I long to see beyond the ugliness.

I guess we all feel like failures at some point in our life. Society expects us to be everything to everyone, and no one is able to fullfill those expectations. My heart aches. I long to bury my head in the sand and yet I know that this is not the answer. There is so much to do. Too much to do. I need the wisdom to know my limits and, more importantly, to not feel guilty when I refuse to be pushed beyond them.

I am sick. My body is rebelling and I really don't know where this will end. MS is not a visible disease so it's easy for others to judge and to have unreasonable expectation. I don't think anyone knows of my concerns. Things are progressing in a direction with which I am not familiar. Yes, I'm a little bit afraid. I long to bury my head in the sand. (Have I said that before?) I struggle and I fight and oh how I try to make things right. I seem to be beyond sunlamps and vitamins. I need help. Bottom line, I need help.

And then there is my anger and my hurt. People expect things of me that I simply can't deliver. I'm fried. My heart aches. Yes, my heart aches. I just can't do this. I keep putting one foot in front of the other but my steps are becoming ever so slow and tedious. I no longer plod; I creep. I robotically press on with pain in each movement. Where is the relief? I need help.

A need to talk

With whom do I speak? I am burned out and tired and greatly in need of just talking. I don't want to bring down those around me. Heck, I'm usually the one building into other lives. The plain truth is, I'm depressed at the world around me. I look around and all I see is ugliness. This summer I was blessed to spent 6 weeks out at camp, out in the great outdoors. It was busy, but at least I could see Christ in my surroundings. Now I'm back in the real world. Marriages are breaking up, Brianna is moving away, Monica has this cancer thing happening. I'm reminded of the 'Life of Brian' when they sing "Always look on the bright side of life.." Ah, just being able to vent helps. Tomorrow is another day, in those famous words of Scarlet O'Hara. Tomorrow I will buy some stripper and start work on Sharon's stand.

It's the ugliness of the world around me. Wayne and Kerri are struggling, Alanna's marriage is..........good grief, Chuck has alzheimers and is probably going to die without the gift of salvation. 'I look to the hills; whence commeth my help? My help commeth from the Lord'. Sharon and Frank are headed to Iraq, for goodness sake! Brianna is moving to the coast! My heart aches that she will be so far away. I ache for Karen and her loneliness. God, would you hasten the sale of her house so she can move up to Dawson? I just want to fix everything but I know I can't.
The Whisper Theory, by Amber Albee Swenson, is more than just a good read; it addresses real life issues from a biblical perspective. More than the story itself, I was impressed with the study guide following each chapter.
Meghan grew up in a safe Christian family with clear expectations and high moral values. Now, in her second year of college, she is living with her friend Carol and a fellow by the name of Jeff. Neither Carol nor Jeff share Meghan's beliefs and values.
Such is the case for many young adults. Once away from the safe environment of home an individual is challenged to defend his or her beliefs. The subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, influences of the world around us will lead to difficult decisions and often hard-learned lessons.
Meghan finds herself faced with an attraction to someone who doesn't share her faith, a professor who attempts to get her drunk, an environment of sexual liberation and a murder in her apartment complex. Few of the decisions she must make are black and white. How easy it would be to slide down that slippery slope leading away from the God she worships.
This book would be an excellent study guide for teenagers. The story is interesting but simply written, while the study questions are very relevant and thought provoking. This study will equip young people with appropriate tools for when they leave home, based on biblical principals. I highly recommend The Whisper Theory and will be suggesting it to our youth pastor for use with our high school Sunday school class.