I know few people who embrace change. Most of us avoid it where possible, clinging tenaciously to our routines. For good reason. Change, even change with a great outcome, involves stretching and growing, mess and discomfort, upset and disappointment. Our routines may be boring, but we know what to expect.
I recently watched the story of the nativity with a group of co-workers. I was struck again how God moved in and shook the worlds of Mary and Joseph, and ultimately, the entire world. Both of them had a plan for how their lives would go, and it involved change, but it was moderate, predictable change. Instead, God instituted a change containing shame and disgrace, danger and fear, wonder and joy. It was beyond anything they could have imagined. I'm sure there were times when they thought, "No! I'm not up for this." But God was.
I've come to the conclusion that God likes change, and even if He doesn't instigate it, as He did with Mary and Joseph, He always knows about it and uses it to grow us into the kind of people He can use.--if we let Him.
Christmas letters are a bit of a barometer for me. There have been three years in my life when the change that a year brought ripped me apart so completely that I couldn't write a Christmas letter--the year my mother died in a car accident, the year Bill died of heart disease, and last year.
I'm still not ready to say much, I may never be. In September of 2016, Hunter left me. I don't understand why. It was a change that confused and devastated me, but God was there, and He is using it to grow me.
In December of 2016, another change occurred. Ruth, Shawn and Hannah, whose rent was crippling them, came to live with me.
|Ruth's graduation with her ECE|
|Hannah and Teddy at Chudleigh's apple farm|
I picked him up on a foggy January day and immediately fell in love. Teddy is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and the breed is naturally affectional, but he especially loves to be cuddled and give many, many kisses. I love every part of him, even his 5:00 a.m. bladder which means I can never sleep in.
|Teddy's first day with me|
Coincidentally, on the same day, the sewer in my basement backed up. Tree roots grew into a pipe on the front lawn, and created a huge, stinky mess. The whole basement had to be gutted, and in doing so, four small areas of mould were found. The contractor hired by the insurance company required an expensive mould assessment, and said they would rid me of the mould for $8000. This was after months of continuing issues with them, and in frustration, I fired them and cashed out with the insurance company. My son Ben removed the mould for the cost of a bottle of bleach. Geesh! God sent the wonderful Andrew, who has been working away the last three week (yes, we are now almost a year later!) and my basement should be done and looking amazing by next week. There were many times during this ordeal when I looked at the dark cave that was my basement and despaired of every moving the project forward, but here we are. God had a plan. The change was messy and painful, but the end result is lovely.
My family changed, too. In the fall, sweet, cuddly Jillian was born to Bek and Steve, and Dylan became a big sister. Ruth began her first job as an ECE with the YMCA, and is excelling there.
|With my niece, Jenn at her daughter's|
high school graduation
Surprise visit to my sister
on her retirement weekend
Each of my kids has been amazing through all these changes, in so many practical ways. Ben spearheaded the mould removal, helped to paint and was available for advice on any issues. Ruth painted and helped me with Teddy on many occasions. Shawn installed a new tap, and walked me through the process of buying a used car. Steve rescued me when my bathroom vanity sink broke, and installed a new one. In each crisis, they reminded me I wasn't alone.
|I learned to drive a boat!|
It's hard to describe the enormous changes at work. Four years ago, our first neighbourhood, The Annex, was built. At that time, I longed for something similar--a family style kitchen where residents could come at any time, the smells of freshly baked cookies filled the air and it felt like home. The next neighbourhood, Seaton Village, was built that same year, but for various reasons,building stopped. This year, through messy, noisy change and months of disruption, Cedarvale Park was born, and Phase one will open next week.
|My new desk|
Cedarvale Park has almost double the staff, residents and families, and I have a lot to learn. This will be a year of growing and change as I learn to be all that is needed in an Advocate for this area.
I'm the Queen of the Advocates
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The Small Miracle of Change