Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things we take for Granted – Local Plants

It’s strange that what I considered common and ordinary can become exotic and interesting. Each time I return to the tropics, I cannot help but be drawn to the flora and fauna in each country I visit. Yet when I get visitors, they are so intrigued by the common daffodil, inspired by how everything grows so easily here in a temperate zone. The irony of it all is that gardeners here try to create gardens with a tropical feel and even push the limits with sub tropical species like brugmansias and bougainvilleas. The extra work of winterizing these plants doesn’t seem to faze these exotic plant enthusiasts. Wrapping up banana trees with layers of burlap and clearing out your garage for other potted tropical plants require lots of hard work. Thought: Often we denigrate ourselves and struggle with self worth; yet God does not consider us common and ordinary. In many ways, each one of us is special to Him.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Things we take for Granted – Local Attractions

Found this in a local newspaper; “Take a “stay-cation!” I thought it was kind of catchy and had some really interesting facts. Most people who have lived in a certain place for a length of time have not even visited some of the tourist sights in their own city; while tourists travel for thousands of miles just to spend a couple of hours there and leave with a few cheap souvenirs.
This month, I had the joy of hosting my brother and his family. As this was their first trip to Vancouver and Canada, I really wanted them to have the flavour of West Coast living. So off we went to all the tourist haunts, plus some favourite local hideaways.
Since coming to Canada 20 years ago, we’ve stopped visiting some of these places. It was very refreshing and awe-inspiring as we took a “stay-cation” and enjoyed all the sights and sounds that we’ve taken for granted. The majestic mountains peaks covered with snow, the fast flowing River under the suspension bridge, and Whistler Resort. You should really try it for yourself – “stay-cations” are great!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things we take for Granted – Your Health

Gone are the days I can just get up and play 3 hours of tennis in the hot noon day sun…Say goodbye to staying up late to catch up on old sitcom re-runs.
There was a time not too long ago when we entered the Bellagio Hotel Buffet in Vegas at 11 in the morning and left at 3 in the afternoon. All the food we wanted with no after effects.
That was then; this is now! I’m way more health conscious now, watch my calories most of the time, take walks a couple of times a week, play hockey on a young men’s league, spend more down-time in my garden.
This has become one of the things I don’t take for granted any more; my health has become one of the top priorities in my life.

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory. Albert Schweitzer
Health is not simply the absence of sickness. Hannah Green
Remember your Creator while you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years then you say, "I find no pleasure in them." When you get old, the light from the sun, moon, and stars will grow dark; the rain clouds will never seem to go away. At that time your arms will shake and your legs will become weak. Your teeth will fall out so you cannot chew, and your eyes will not see clearly. Your ears will be deaf to the noise in the streets, and you will barely hear the millstone grinding grain. You'll wake up when a bird starts singing, but you will barely hear the singing. You will fear high places and will be afraid to go for a walk. Your hair will become white like the flowers on an almond tree. You will limp along like a grasshopper when you walk. Your appetite will be gone. Then you will go to your everlasting home, and people will go to your funeral. Soon your life will snap like a silver chain or break like a golden bowl. You will be like a broken pitcher at a spring, or a broken wheel at a well. You will turn back into the dust of the earth again, but your spirit will return to God who gave it.
Ecclesiastes 12:1-7

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Things we take for Granted – The Sun

It’s amazing how we take so many things in life for granted.
In a different time and place, many people hide from the sun, seek shelter wherever they can and women carry umbrellas to shield themselves from UV rays and not the rain.
20 Years in Canada can and has changed me quite a bit. There was a time I used to shy away from the sun. At times I found it was a nuisance to have to put on sunscreen and a hat. Not anymore! Now I love the sunshine – I “photosynthesize” and glow in it! When the sun is up – so am I.
On top of the benefits of vitamin D, sunshine gets many out of their comfortable sofas into ball parks, swimming pools, and banishes winter related SAD. (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
Sometimes when we have so little of it, then, we begin to appreciate it more!
For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. Psalm 84:11 (New Living Translation)
The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. Ecclesiastes 1:5 (New Living Translation)

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Favorite Places – Open Spaces

I just love getting out into the sun and taking in the wide open spaces that covers much of Canada. You see I was born in a tiny Island state that does not even boast a hill over 500 feet.
Mountains and green pastures remind me of a great God who did not cheap out on anything, while creating this beautiful world we live in.
It also speaks of His greatness and might. There’s also a sense of peace and calm that penetrates the soul when one is not cloistered in some tiny little space.

The great outdoors pointing to a great big God.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Favorite Places – Whistler Resort

It’s one of those spur of the moment things we did yesterday – packed our bags and took off for Whistler Resort. In beautiful British Columbia, when the sun shines, it’s best to head for the great outdoors. The drive up is spectacular; they didn’t name it the “Sea-to-sky” highway for no reason. You have to pass some glaciers, majestic waterfalls, a sheer cliff wall rising 500 meters into the heavens called the “Chief” and many lakes, before you get into Whistler/Blackcomb Resort.
Here I am sitting looking out from my living room with the most amazing scene. Snow capped mountains with green pastures, accented by clear blues skies. The air is cool and clean, and I wish I could stay here forever.
Awesome Places

Awe and wonder are uniquely human qualities that should constantly be awakened within us.
Awe and wonder keeps one humble and appreciative to God for life and His Creation.

Photo taken at 10 pm.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Favorite Places – My Secret Garden

There are many beautiful gardens in the city, but my absolute favorite green space is located in the backyard of my home.
I’ve always loved plants and all things that grow, but until I moved into my own home, I did not invest much time or resources in a garden.
Since the new millennium, I’ve created a very special space that I can call my own – my secret garden. When I first moved into the house; the backyard was a mess; the grass very spotty and sickly due to the presence of a very large K-9 unit dog that used to call it home. Other than a couple of nice Japanese Maple trees. They weren’t any other garden plants.
I put in a high trellis, followed by a Gazebo. The plants were introduced based on budget more than a master plan. Birthdays and Christmas presents from the family were always additions to the garden…First a grape vine, then a black currant bush, an espaliered apple tree, a dwarf peach tree that gave ultra sweet fruits completed my ornamental fruit section of the garden. Flowering plants were added with such passion that soon, I had no more space for any new additions. My secret garden has become a place of refuge and quietness. Often this is where I am able to work, sit or walk around and meditate and reflect on the hectic events of the day.
Thoughts on Quite Places:

Everyone needs a quiet place in their life.

It is in quiet places that God speaks to me.

A quiet place slows down time, and silences the noise of life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

My Favorite Places – Old Haunts

Unlike most of my other favorite places; these old familiar places require a trans-Pacific flight that spans many time zones. It’s not one of those places you can just up and go to. But once every so many years, I get the opportunity to re-visit my birth place.
There is an elementary school field where I spent many a sunny day hanging out with my best friends and siblings, kicking a soccer ball around, dressed like a famous British Soccer club…long bobby socks, white long sleeved sweaters and black shorts. Wearing sweaters under a sweltering 32 degree sun wasn’t the smartest thing we did…but we did look good. Oh! To be a child again! No cares…no worries…just living for the next sunny day.
The years fly by quickly and before I knew it, I was enlisted into the Army. Most of my Infantry days were spent around a tiny village near the beach; a beach that my dad had brought us countless times when we were kids. This place is extra special as it’s also the place where I took my first stroll, hand in hand, with my only girlfriend and future wife. I would go on to spend another 12 years around this place, after I signed a contract with the Air Force.
Recently, I took a stroll down memory lane, when I returned to these places. There is a food center in that village by the sea; and to my pleasant surprise, I found the same food stores I had regularly ate at nearly 30 years ago. Sitting down to a meal in those exact same stools and tables brought back many more good memories of a time long ago.

Thoughts on Old Familiar Places

Visiting old familiar places restores the sense of innocence – it brings you back to a time when you “thought all things possible – all dreams achievable.” Time to recapture old dreams again!
Old familiar places helps you make fresh commitments to those things you valued most. Time erodes some of those things and they require a re-visitation.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Favorite Places - Steveston Dykes

I’m blessed to live near a place that gives me refreshing and renewal in my body, soul and spirit. A long walk along the Dyke and Steveston Boardwalk really gets my heart pumping and my soul singing. The beauty of these walks is that I can do it throughout the different seasons. Even when it is snow covered and the temperature below zero; I will not be denied this essential part of my life. Through the seasons, there’s always a new surprise that awaits you. You might get to experience the thrill of walking among 20,000 snow geese, or you might just get to walk among tall ships that have berthed on the docks. The ever-changing seasons brings with it, a new coat of floral colors. Multi-colored crocuses in early spring…pink-purple grass flowers in early summer…purple lupines that cover the entire field in Gary Park. The same park that served as a frozen rink during cold winters becomes a field full of kite enthusiast during the windy days of summer.


Everyone needs some down time – regardless of your work or home situation
There’s something about getting back to nature that connects us to God.