I've been home for 10 days and during that time I've been wondering what, if anything, I should share about my time away, other than it was great; everything went off without a hitch, including adjusting to the time difference! It was a time of relaxation, renewing and reconnecting.
I spent a day with Larry and Barb Warkentin. Larry was our pastor while we were in Yellowknife and Barb is the woman who was diagnosed a few years ago with MS and is currently scheduled for her second open heart surgery on August 8th. Her hope and prayer is that with her heart repaired, she'll be able to put away her walker and wheelchair for a while and lead a somewhat more normal life. I didn't know what to expect when I arrived there, but Barb looks great. Her sense of humour has not left her and I enjoyed my time with them both.
I also had an opportunity to spend Sunday and Monday of the May holiday weekend at a farm just north of Lloydminster, Alberta. The Belshiems own approx. 5,000 acres of land there with 900 head of cattle. Gillian Belsheim was an RCMP officer stationed in Yellowknife when we were there. We got to know her, John and Ariel through the little Christian school that our kids attended, and Brad and I both worked with her in our perspective jobs. Before we left YK, Gil did a stint in the Communications Centre with me (I worked for the RCMP for 2 years answering the emergency lines). We spent a lot of time catching up, sharing the good times and the bad. Gil took me for a tour of the land, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The farm is operated by Gil's three brothers and is the local drop in for the neighbouring farms. The coffee pot is always on; their life is family and the land and they do a great job of both. They've known some hard times, with several years of drought and then the mad cow fiasco, but they have persevered and despite the hard years, they look ahead to better ones. The busyness of the "big house" with people coming and going at all hours reminded me of home, minus the cows of course. After my time with Gil, I was reminded that there is great benefit in sharing. Whether we're sharing good times or bad, we're drawn together, unified; helps us to realize that we aren't alone (or crazy)and I believe that is part of God’s plan.
The day after we returned from the farm, I journeyed to Banff. It was about a 4.5 hour drive from Edmonton, and I love to drive so I took my time and enjoyed the scenery. Alberta is in the midst of a huge real estate boom, so there are subdivisions going up everywhere. Alberta is also experiencing a higher level of homelessness as a result, and for a province so rich in many things it is more than sad to see folks living in tents and picking through garbage bins.
There was a particular moment during the drive to Banff that really left me feeling overwhelmed and I don't know if I can do it justice here, but I've decided to give it a try. I'd left Calgary and was heading west toward Banff; it wasn't too long before the mountains came into view off in the distance and I was struck by their beauty. I could see places where it was dark and raining, and others where the sun shone brightly on the snow-capped peaks. I'm sure they each have their own story to tell. The closer I got, the more my emotions were affected and eventually I was crying. All I could think of was "Majesty" and so I took a few moments to tell God how beautiful his mountains were; how majestic was his creation. It was just a moment later when I thought "Debbie, it's just rock" and fresh tears fell. This may sound really simple to whoever is reading this, but it meant a great deal to me. We see such beauty in the mountains, but it's just rock; what does God see when he looks at me, his most loved creation?
He is overwhelmed and finds me breathtaking.