Advent Banners

Planning Stages

Last January, a long time, much loved member of our congregation passed away.  I officiated the funeral and was handsomely renumerated.  Her favourite time of year was Christmas, she always did it up BIG!  I told the family that I would like to do something in her memory.

So, here was my vision.  Our congregation has a quilting group that managed to pull me into their creative circle.  I approached them with the request that ten banners be quilted to decorate the worship space of the church.  They agreed and asked that I provide some sort of ‘pattern.’  It was my hope that everyone would use somewhere in the skyscape the same fabric, purchased by me, to give some continuity through all the banners and they were free to use other fabrics I had available or fabric from their own stashes.  The lightest colours fabric was to begin at the bottom of their banner and gradually get darker toward the top.  The stars were Friendship Stars and could be placed as suited them.  My hope was that the pattern was just a guide and that each quilter would use their own creativity and imagination.

Following is the progress on my own banners.

Top for the 48″ x 64″ banner intended for the left side of the sanctuary

Full view of banner in process of being quilted

Smaller 36″ x 48″ banner in process of being quilted

These larger quilts are 48″ by 64″.  They hang at the front of the sanctuary, and so are larger so they can be seen, since no one sits in the front pews…

The below eight quilts are 36″ by 48″.  Some of the ladies embroidered the words with machines using a free motion foot.  Others hand stitched the lines from favourite Advent and Christmas hymns.

Regrettably the lines do not show up well, but do encourage viewers to come take a closer look.

Alaska Highway – Part 1 – Mountains

1st Pass into the Rockies

In case you were unaware, I am Canadian, proud to be so.  I am a Canadian who loves to travel.  Living in Canada, therefore, is a blessing.  It’s a big country, with lots to see, and even more places to go.  One of the things on my bucket list* is to visit every Canadian Province and Territory.  This past May long weekend I managed to cross another off that list.  Hubby and I packed a suitcase or two, coaxed the dog into the truck, and headed north on the Alaska Highway, destination — Whitehorse, the Yukon. The morning was lovely, occasional sun breaking through white cloud, and increasingly hazy as we got further north.  Until one gets past Fort Nelson the geography is pretty much high prairie, cleared of aspen, although still many groves of them in areas that the large farm machinery cannot access.

Approaching Muncho Lake

Almost at Muncho Lake

We stayed at Muncho Lake Friday night.  It is about half way and VERY expensive as it is one of the few places on the way that has gas ($2.89/lt), food, and washrooms.  Everything for the resort is trucked in from Edmonton, including the fuel for the generators, no hydro wires along this stretch of highway.  The colour of the lake is incredible (pictures to follow in another blog).

As we got further north the next day, there was more and more snow on the ground.  The above pictures were at our third major stop near Stone Mountain.  It was stunningly breath-taking.  The mountains are magnificent in their silence and grandeur.  I’ve visited them on numerous occasions, the scale and immensity never fails to impress.  Somehow the imposing size seems to fade so quickly once they are past.  And, of course, a picture never accurately represents them either.  Showing another person a 4 x 6 picture and say, “This is a mountain” is paramount to using the word “Holy One” to encompass all that God is, and was, and shall be.
Psalm 76:4   Glorious are you, more majestic than the everlasting mountains.

*Yet to visit – the Northwest Territorities, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador

Old Alaska Highway – Curved Wooden Bridge


At mile 21 from Dawson Creek, BC on the Old Alaska Highway is one destination I bring all out of town/country guests.  It is a wooden deck, curved bridge spanning the Kiskatinaw River.  During the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942 the approach and shape of the river presented a problem for engineers.  The deck is banked to facilitate water run off.  The bridge is 190 feet long and boasts a 9 degree turn.  It took 9 months to complete, almost as long as the entire Alaska Highway!  It is the only wooden bridge of its kind remaining in Western Canada.






Below is the steel structure that supports the wooden deck.







Looking down river to the north.


View up river back toward the bridge.


Preview of Things to Come

The forcast is calling for a snow fall warning over night.  We have been experiencing some fairly cold weather, typical for this time of year, but we have almost no snow so far.  As a reminder of winter I share some pictures of previous winters.  Enjoy.

These may not be the greatest, a couple were taken with a little instamatic camera, one with a advantix, a couple with my 35mm Canon.  I should have taken my new digital Nikon with me when I went to the ‘city’ today.  There was some amazing frost on the trees, sparkling in the sunshine, and etheral landscapes wrapped in fog and blanketed in snow that could have been, good.

Dark and Darker

Psalm 3 – The Message

God!  Look!  Enemies past counting!
Enemies sprouting like mushrooms,
Mobs of them all around me, roaring their mockery:
“Hah!  No help for him from God!”

But you, GOD, shield me on all sides;
You ground my feet, you lift my head high;
With all my might I shout up to GOD,
His answers thunder from the holy mountain.

I stretch myself out.  I sleep.
Then I’m up again — rested, tall and steady,
Fearless before the enemy mobs
Coming at me from all sides.

Up, GOD!  My God, help me!
Slap their faces,
First this cheek, then the other
Your fist hard in their teeth!

Real help comes from God
Your blessing clothes your people!

It’s one of those days, bad news, delays, disappointments, fatique, burdens.  Enemies of the spirit, closing in on all sides it seems to sap the motivation and strength out of time.  A body just wants to give in, give up, give way, give quarter, give vent.  It is dark, inside and out.  Skinny snow on the ground, cold, dreary.  I’m tired.

Prayers today for;

  • TP – work, exs, family disappointments
  • L, J, S, W & SP – legal challenges
  • J & KY – loss of possesions through theft
  • me

Fall Leaves

It’s snowing, lightly, this morning.  Fall has been mild, long, splendid in colour that has soften to taupes and beige and brown.  The expanse of fields preparing for sleep were glorious in their remembered harvests.  I thoroughly enjoyed the trip north yesterday.  Fall is leaving, and so have all the leaves.


Ezekiel 47:12   On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.

Lion’s Gate Bridge

Some things in Vancouver I greatly appreciated.  I admired the Lion’s Gate Bridge.  I remember the first time I crossed it.  It was in my Aunt Helen’s little red convertible car.  I was ten. By the time we finished the tour around Vancouver my long blond hair was wind blown into knots.

The approached from Stanley Park is beautiful, coming out of the deep greenness of the giant cedar rain forest and climbing higher over the inlet entrance over to North Vancouver.  The above is taken from the sea wall walkway in Stanley Park.  Here are a few other views taken in 2008.










These lions are the over pass of  the bridge.  There is no place to stop with a vehicle to photograph the lions on the approach to the bridge.  They can only be accessed by walking.


Secrets and sighing

Long before I was born, my great grandfather tried repeatly to nuture a tamarack tree to grown close to the farmhouse.  The challenge presented by this attempt was the farmhouse was not near any sort of a swamp, damp or loamy muck that tamarack prefer.  After many, many failures, one eventually decided that right up against the chicken coop was the place to be.  The chicken coup had a slanted roof, easy to ascend from the stack of wood leaning up against the gray grained walls.  It was a forbidden hideaway, sheltered by the boughs of the tamarack, soft flexible needles occasionally ticking down on the rolled roofing.  We were cautioned never to climb up there, the roof rafters had weakened with age, and dad had concerns that we might be heavy enough to crash through.  It didn’t stop me, I loved to creep up into the cool shade, the green smell of pine, a view of the fields and forests stretching, growing off to the west.  If there was a breeze it sung softly, sighing through the branches.  A favourite place, a place of solitude, my place.   None of my siblings ever joined me, or even know how much time I spent there.  Once I shared it as a wonderful secret with a cousin and was crushed by her failure to be impressed.  It was the first, last, only time.  It was my place to dream, to read, to think, to pray, to sing along to different rhythms, to spy on the phoebe that had her secret place below and inside where chickens once crooned over stone eggs and scratched straw for sustenance.

Isaiah 44:4   They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like willows by flowing streams.


I wrote a little earlier, of a father-in-law, a second cousin, an uncle.  One a Canadian, one Polish, one from Great Britain.  I think of my mother, a five-year old when the Canadian soldiers floated up the canals of the Netherlands and brought the sweet taste of her first chocolate bar that became forever linked with liberation and freedom.  I think of Canada’s latest casualty, a classmate of my best friend’s sons and the same age as my own.  The Bible give us God’s word over and over again to remember.  Remember the deeds of the Lord your God and teach them to your children, remember the orphan, the widow, the alien in your midst, “do this in remembrance of Me”.

John 15:13   No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

It is the verse so often heard this day of days, the day we remember.  Of course Jesus was talking about his life, for all of us, a sacrifice for freedom of a different sort.

I, like many others, am the uneasy pacifist.  Violence is abhorent.  We say it is, want to believe it, but will resort to it in circumstances that seem to suggest there is no other option.  It makes me sad.  I weep for those left, for families, for friends, for children who do not survive their parents, for brides and grooms whose love is lost, for babes in arms who will never know.

I weep every time I watching the photo montage on YouTube of the Highway of Heros.

The photo of the fellow standing on the cement divider is the nemesis of my tears.  That someone would stop on the freeway and show respect in this manner leaves me choking back sobs. I am proud of Canadians, that they would line bridges and highways and sidewalks to acknowledge the call to duty and ultimate price soldiers pay for us.

It is such a waste, such a bloody, ugly, wrenching loss of possibility, that grants us the opportunities and liberties we enjoy so much, that we too often act are our right, that the world owes us.  It is a horrible way to solve differences of opinion, to get what we want, of greed, of acquisition, of political or religious ideology.  Our hope is for peace.  Jesus told us the peacemakers would be blessed, not the peace wishers, or the peace hopers, or the peace brokers, or the peace prayers.  The peacemakers.

Remembrance Day – Lest we Forget

One visit that will remain with me always was to the Canadian War Cemetery in Groesbeek, Netherlands.  We went looking for the resting place of a neighbour, unsuccessfully.  The people of the Netherlands keep the cemeteries immaculate.  The grave stones are lined up in precisely straight lines, on the vertical, horizontal, diagonal in every direction you look.  The engraved ages that characterize the names of the men record there breaks the heart, thirty — twenty-two — eighteen — fifteen.  Cannon fodder, priceless sacrifices.  The first time it really struck me what a waste it all was, was my first year in highschool, at a Remembrance Day assembly and they began to read the names of students that had gone to serve in the Great War and then WWII.  Kids my age.  And later, kids my sons’ age.

Remembrance Day is a difficult day to get through.  My mother was born in the Netherlands the year the war began.  My grandmother will share memories of the occupation, my grandfather shared little.  He was involved in the underground in some way, a friend of his was shot in the back while riding his bike as he tried to avoid a German roadblock.

My husband’s father, a Polish veteran that served under British command at the Battle of Monte Cassino, passed away on Nov. 5th a few years back.  It is a difficult day to get through.

My husband’s mother was a refugee in Siberia, Russian troops came into the towns of Poland in the middle of the night, loaded the residents onto cattle cars and sent them east.  She has a lingering distrust of the government, and ordered me never to post scans I made of my father-in-laws papers and documents on the internet.  If you knew the name, you would find his death notice at the on-line publication of the Legion’s magazine.

They seem so young, idealism and the quest for glory and honour shining in their eyes, eagerness to go and fight.  Looks that were left overseas, dissolving with the growing realization of what war actually involved.