Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Maureen's Version of A Little Cuban/Virgin Mojito

Maureen's Little Cuban/Virgin Mojito, Version 1:

6-7 mint leaves
2 tsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime

Muddle in the bottom of the glass
Fill glass with ice
Pour over 1/2 can of Club Soda

Garnish with 1 mint leaf

Ta Da!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

The Amazing Other Room

I'm sitting in my backyard.
It's 1040, Sunday morning.
And I'm not in church.

So tired.
Couldn't do it.

I'm not one to miss - nor to encourage missing - but I'm sure that my "pushed to the limit" body/soul/spirit would not have absorbed anything today and so I made my decision.

Thinking about what has escaped my radar this week, this spring.
I've got through the shifts, did the Run, camped the May Long, made the YC trip and got the garden in.

But I'm sitting here in my horribly unkempt back yard that is hugely embarrassing to me -

And THIS is what I've missed:

  • I've missed the feel of the wind on my face fighting my product-laden hair, teasing it to come out and play
  • I've missed the warmth of the sun on my knees, penetrating my cozy yoga pants
  • I've missed the sound of the wind shaking the huge elm trees in my neighbor's yard
  • I've missed the smell of "outside".  Can that be bottled?
  • I've missed the "I'm cold, nope, I'm hot"
  • I've even missed taking care of my dirt and my weeds (aka, lawn)

When the first snow falls, I always feel a sense of loss - "well, there goes my OTHER ROOM" (my back yard).  Soon fall and winter routines continue and I become grateful that I don't have to caretake the yard and the break is welcome.
  • Cue winter schedules
  • Cue Christmas
  • Cue school routines
  • Cue everything that sucks up attention and time.

Spring arrives...
  • Cue warm sun, coaxing us back outside, back into that OTHER ROOM that lay neglected
  • Cue.  Every.  Single.  Job.  Ever.  Needed.  And. Do. It.  Now.  Before.  The.  Neighbors.  Hate.  You.

Goodbye Living room
Hello other room.

You need so much attention.

Is it too much?
Or is it "just right"?
Is it obligation
Or is it....

Calling me back outside to nature?
Put down the phone
Put down the lists
Put away the appointments

"Come back to nature
Come back to Me.
Let the wind blow and shake you
Let the sun control your body 
and make you smile
and make you sweat

Let the clouds 
amaze you
amuse you
Let the clock 
go unwatched 
Watch the time pass by 

Let the green grass be 
Vividly green
And the yellow dandelions be
In spite of themselves

Let the beans be the first to 
burst through the dry dirt
Let the tomatoes move from 
 spindly legs to
arms of steel
Ready to hold rosy treasures


And I don't want to miss a thing.

"The earth is the Lord's
And EVERYTHING in it."
Psalm 24:2

(....maybe even the tent caterpillars...)

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Importance Of Being Grounded

The past few weeks have gone by in a blur.  Months, maybe even!

Responsibilities and obligations have filled my days off,  keeping my fingers tied to my laptop and my nose aimed at the grindstone.

Easter week was amazing - family was here from out of province and we spent as many minutes as possible together, rediscovering each other, playing, shopping, creating adventures.  I love.

As soon as family left, I returned to work and worked all weekend - get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat, repeat.

And so, today, I look out my kitchen window and see that my back yard is mostly peeking through the snow.  The front yard is almost entirely clean - it's always first.

But my back yard - that's my happy place.  My other room. My summer house.  Neglected in winter, adored in the summer.

My creative juices are already planning and scheming for tasty vegetables, fun decorations and maybe even beautiful pictures.

I was daydreaming about summer the other day.  And I had this urge.

The urge to go barefoot
Feet touching the dirt.

Garden dirt
Sandy beaches
Leafy wooded trails
Freshly mowed lawn

Seems you return to the basics of life when barefoot.

You're grounded.

Nothing hidden.

Nothing fake or put on or pretentious.

Feet touching nature as if the dust returns life through the soles of your feet.

As winter has given way to spring and spring will give way to summer.....

As the frenetic winter gives way to fresh spring.....

As driven gives way to restoration.....

I think of all the things that keep me grounded.

Creativity - even if I'm the only person who thinks it's cool!  

Walking through the bush - THE BEST place to find your soul

I got the giggles here when the swing went higher than I expected!  Silly me

The calming noise of rushing water

The beauty of nature

Spending time in my kitchen

......things more creative than
to do charts
menu plans
and grocery lists

Making memories with those that I love

Praying that the coming season of spring and summer find you grounded doing what you love with people that you love.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Unwilling Servant of the Unrelenting Master

Hello from my bed.

There's a mental picture that you wish you hadn't received.


I'm laid up today.  But my mind is full and I've been in deep thought.  For quite a few days, actually.

For whatever reason, I shot out of Christmas mode and into January in full on race horse style.  The gun went off and I took off at a mind numbing pace.  Maybe there's a down side to having a quiet Christmas!  Energy for Jan. 1 and beyond!

There had been projects simmering on the back burner, projects that really couldn't be deemed as fun but necessary.  You see, there's the Maureen-the-nurse person, but there's also the Maureen-the-music-director and Maureen-the-camp council member and Maureen-the-volunteer in addition to Maureen-the-wife & mother, Maureen-the-friend, Maureen-the-crafter.  Etc.

Maureen-the-volunteer-with-many-hats-that-includes-most-of-the-above-Maureens decided that January was a good month to put the nose to the grind stone and get things done.  And so I did.

Funny thing, that "get 'er done" mentality gets carried away on ya if you let it.  One task leads to another task which leads to another and another and all of a sudden my days at home were filled with more things to do for everyone outside my home than I could keep up with.  Then there's urgent and pressing needs that you have when you have a family.  And I have a demanding job that seems to have demanded more than its fair share of me as of late as well.

I've been wandering around the house for days feeling overwhelmed with a resentfulness that has been circling me and I came up with this new mantra.

I am an unwilling servant of an unrelenting master.

I just felt like I had given myself away to a 'boss' that did nothing but demand more and more and I finally had had enough.  ENOUGH!!

(Now before you get all "how could they" if you know where my volunteer commitments lie, please understand that my goals and tasks had been almost entirely at my own initiative.  It's really my own problem.  Not anyone else's.)

Regardless, here I sit.  Lay.

I feel like I've lost something.

I've lost myself.

All I really want to do today is bake cookies for my family and tidy the house.

"Me" stuff.

I've had enough of the unrelenting master.  I'm an unwilling servant to the demands that roar outside my head.  And I think that's healthy and I give no apology for giving myself a shake up.


That's not the end of the story.

There's a side of me that's not included in the "Maureen-the....." descriptor above.

And that's "Maureen-the-Christ follower."

Let me just say that when one is consumed with duties, tasks and to-do lists, there isn't much time for faith, meditation, prayer, reflection - things that give you fuel to keep moving.  "Go go go" is incompatible with a quiet and open spirit.  My brother in law just posted a statement that said:

"[Thomas] Merton once told me to quit trying so hard in prayer. He said, 'How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.' A small green apple cannot ripen in one night by tightening all its muscles, squinting its eyes and tightening its jaw in order to find itself the next morning miraculously large, red, ripe, and juicy beside its small green counterparts. Like the birth of a baby or the opening of a rose, the birth of the true self takes place in God's time. We must wait for God, we must be awake; we must trust in his hidden action within us." – James Finley. 

I think I've been like that small green apple, with it's daily agenda being along the lines of "get your duties done" with little regard for "grow in Christ, hear his voice. Ripen and become sweet and fruitful."

Bluntly put, I think that I/me/Maureen has been.....

An unwilling servant of an unrelenting Master

Jesus has been the Unrelenting Master. Watching me as I've worked hard to be productive, and yet neglecting to be fruitful in the things that matter to Him the most.  Soul things.  Things that actually fuel me so that I can be that productive go-getter that I want to be in areas that really do matter.

I've obviously been quite messed up.


And so, today, there is a pause in my steps.  An awakening in my spirit.  A reluctance to chase demands.  I have......

A hunger for more and a need for less, 
all in the same breath.  

More of Jesus.  

Less of me and my big ideas and plans.  

More things done out of love for those (people not projects) who I am responsible for. 

Less things done to suit the hunger of a needy expectation that really only exists in my mind.  

More time praying.  

Less time doing.  

More time filling.

Less time robbing.

I'd like to say "wish me luck".  

But what I really want to say is ..... please pray for me.  And, Lord help me, I'll pray for you too.

"...Pray that you'l live well for the Master,
making Him proud of you as you work hard in His orchard."
Col. 1:10

Thursday, 24 December 2015

On This Day

For the past several months I have been taking a daily look at my Facebook posts using the app entitled "On This Day" which shows me all of the things that I have posted "On This Day" since I joined Facebook.

It's been every bit as good as a personal journal to see all of the things that have happened in my life that I thought were worth sharing or talking about with my Facebook friends.

The boys have grown up right before my eyes.

Traditions have perpetuated.

There have been some laughs.  Some tears.

The fashion styles.  House renovations.  Aging.  <grin>

As the Christmas season started to come closer, in November already, I started to notice a pattern in my posts through the years.

A constant moaning and sighing about Christmas.
The work.
The organization.
The to-do lists

Every year, for years, I've gone on and on, publicly, about how I need to do better at Christmas, how much I want a peaceful celebration, how much I felt that better lists and better efforts at organizing myself would accomplish that for me and my family.

It became embarrassing to read.

This year, I decided to be quiet about Christmas and I decided to take action.  I mean, really.  Really take action.

So, I closed my public mouth.

And opened my private heart to hear what, in the scheme of all things Christmas, needed to stay and what needed to go.

Here's what happened:

  • We spent less money, WAY less money on Christmas gifts
    • Minimalist wish lists have been fun and meaningful and, while I've caught myself thinking that I should just pick up one more thing because I always do that, I find myself thinking that those kinds of gifts really don't mean a thing and become part of the clutter that drags us all down all year long.  Ben, one day, said "Mom, don't bother to buy me _____ because I won't use it anyway" to which I replied "good, I wasn't planning on it anyway and THAT'S WHY OUR LISTS CAN BE SHORTER THIS YEAR!"
    • The flip side of this has been giving gifts that are unanticipated because It.  Is.  Fun.  To. Give.  An.  Unexpected.  Gift.  Amen.
  • I didn't print out photos and send cards and write a Christmas letter and send it in the mail and via an email.
    • But I did print a picture card that had bullet points about our year in review which made it an all-in-one type of Christmas greeting that didn't even necessarily require a signature which was win-win for me and they're been handed out and mailed for a couple of weeks so that's done and utilized the EASY button!
  • Here's a shocker - I DIDN'T DO ANY CHRISTMAS BAKING!!!
    • But today I get to bake my Christmas cinnamon buns for a leisurely Christmas morning breakfast tomorrow.  Guess what?  I didn't miss doing or eating the baking which makes me ponder all of the time and money that I've spent on this tradition other years??  Maybe this will make a comeback next year but apparently Christmas can come without it.  
  • We decorated the house.
    • But not very much which means that I didn't have to box up a bunch of daily decorations to make room for Christmas decorations just so that I could box up the Christmas decorations and bring back the daily decorations......
  • I made specific, and sometimes difficult, decisions about which Christmas events to attend.
    • And only attended (or hosted) events that I REALLY REALLY wanted to attend.  This was a biggie - and the measuring stick that I used was "does this event fill my bucket or empty my bucket?" And if it wasn't a bucket filler, we didn't go.  I have to say that doing things that I really wanted to do with people I really wanted to be with filled my bucket rather nicely.

And so, ON THIS DAY, CHRISTMAS EVE 2015, I am finding myself being at peace with Christmas.  I haven't wrestled an alligator to arrive on this day.  I have arrived with a rested mind and a reasonably rested body.

I've also recognized something - a big part of Christmas for me is the anticipation and the preparation - 
preparing food for guests, 
the house for beauty, 
and gifts for those I love 

fills my bucket.  

Fills my bucket so much that, here we are on Christmas Eve

and I'm done.  

I'm finished.



A couple of days ago, that notion of being "done" made me restless.

Today, ON THIS DAY, it brings me peace.

Because, after all, didn't the scriptures agree - 

"Today (ON THIS DAY) in the city of David, a Savior has been born, He is Christ the Lord."  

It was done.  The years of prophecy and anticipation and waiting for the time of arrival came to pass ONE DAY. And brought us peace.

Merry Christmas, friends.  May the peace of Christ be yours.  

Leave some room for the carols

Jesus, the only Hope for our world

Special letters, salvaged from "The New Way Bookstore" signage - spell something special this Christmas.  Meaningful to the Dynna family!

Memories of a Christmas 2015 party with some amazing people.
The Dynna IV
Christmas IS where THEY are

The Christ Child
Christmas is BECAUSE of HIM

Monday, 30 November 2015

On Turning 50!

I'm 50 years old!

I've thought about this day all year. 

It's felt kinda "big".

I guess it IS kinda big.

I know there are many of you who scoff at the number and say that life begins at 50 and yadda yadda, blah blah, etc., etc.

Please allow me to own my feelings on turning 50.  I'm okay with it.  I'm not okay with it.  Regardless of whether I am or not, I'm still 50! 

So.  Yeah.

A few very quick things that I need to say about turning 50.

1.  We didn't have the opportunity to get away this summer and the chance to travel presented itself when we discovered the boys' week off of school in November so we chose a location and called it our family trip of (a lifetime) the year and co-labelled it the trip to celebrate my 50th birthday.  And we went to New York City and fulfilled many many dreams in one week.

I specifically wanted to do 2 things - I wanted to see The Lion King, which we did and it was magical.  And I wanted to stand on top of the Empire State Building and declare myself 50 - to myself, to my world.

I wanted to do that from the Empire State Building partly because I'm afraid of heights (that's an understatement) and I think turning 50 is partly about conquering fears and facing frights.  I think I'm starting to learn that some fears and anxieties can be managed by choices.  Choose to face them head on or choose to walk away.  Both options acceptable.  Valuable lessons.

And I wanted to celebrate in New York because New York is one of the greatest cities in the world.  THE WORLD!!  And I wanted to see it.  I wanted to be there.  I wanted to see one of the world's greatest places and see all of the things that books and history and movies have told me about.  And I DID!  I saw them for myself.  I needed to do that.  I needed to face something large and bigger than myself and discover this world that "I heard about" and see with my own eyes something magical.

And so we did.  And it was worth all the effort and planning and thinking and wishing.  I will never forget.  For a simple country girl like me, Manhattan loved me and I loved Manhattan.

2.  On being 50 - I've looked around my world, specifically my work place lately, and realize that yeah, I'm one of the senior nurses and with that comes a delightful knowledge of the history of our facility and comes the warmth of long term relationships - and also the burden of responsibility.  You know that saying "I don't want to adult"?  Like it or not, being among the senior nurses, ya just gotta "adult" sometimes.   

The other day I had a situation that I needed to assist with that involved another department and one of our residents.  I felt that the other department had neglected to provide something essential for us to adequately care for our resident so I went to have a discussion with them to try to resolve it.  The department was mostly cooperative and worked to resolve my concern.  Except for one staff member who questioned me in a fairly sarcastic manner as I left.  I decided at that moment that I was going to draw up every inch of my 49 years plus 363 day old self and stand up for what was right.   And so I did.  I drew up my shoulders, squared my back, held my head high and levelled a look at her and asked "what's the concern?"  

I won. 

I won the fight for my resident.

And I think I won a fight for me.

I CAN face hard things.  I CAN face personal challenges.  I CAN surmount things that make me anxious. 

So, I guess I CAN turn 50 with some grace.  And courage. 

And I think I'll need them both.

So look out world!  Here I come!

Friday, 9 October 2015

25 Simple Things I'm Thankful For

Beautiful pumpkins from a friend

It's the Friday of the Thanksgiving weekend and I'm tidying up my house, making buns, getting ready to put the turkey in to share with family this evening.  My head hasn't really been in the game of Thanksgiving yet - I've been working and committed to what feels like a thousand outside expectations and last on my list has been my home, my family, myself even, and I'm desperate for a quiet weekend with the ones I hold dear next to me.  Desperate.

And so I'll do a little cooking and put a few fall things on the table and maybe watch "Dan In Real Life" and pretend that we're going to have a family talent contest around the fireplace when in reality we'll likely not do that at all, seeing that we don't have a fireplace.  ;)

In the interest of both silly and serious, here are a handful of things that have made an impact (both big and small) on my life over the past few months:

1.  Gouda cheese
2.  Pumpkin Spice Lattes
3.  My girl cousins, dad's side - and the days that we have spent together this year.

Day trip to Maureen's house - we're peas in a pod.
Love them, each one

4.  Living Waters Camp
5.  Tomato tarts
6.  Roasted beets

7.  My work family

We as diverse as the sands on the shore, but these people have hearts as big as the ocean.  They know how to serve, love, have fun, cry.....and eat (!).  Love them.

8.  Our music friends who pop in to see us now and then and make us wish they lived closer. 

Yeah, Dean didn't accept that offered kiss.......

9.  Cut flowers from my garden.

Grandma Zuk always grew Zinnias.....
....and so shall I.

10.  Homemade buns.
Can these count as one of life's greatest miracles?

11.  Heart to hearts with my Dixie.

On a beach
Perfect day

12.  The worship band "Rend Collective".  The worship musician "Christy Nockels".  The worship musician "Lauren Daigle".
13.  Music from the 40s.  Never, and I mean, never, gets old.

14.  Borealis Music Festival

I have thought back to this August night a hundred times.
What a night.
We sat in the warm evening air with not a cool breeze to be found.
Favorite people beside us.
The night progressed....and so did the music.
And then.
The full moon rose in the upper left corner of my sight line.
"The Harpoonist and The Axe Murderer" belted out some soul tunes.
The crowd swayed and clapped.

15.  The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region - who looked after someone we love through a serious health issue. 
16.  The Prince Albert Parkland Health Region - who looked after me through some health scares that could have turned out to be way scarier than they already were.
17.  The close set of girlfriends who listened to me worry about my health events and prayed for me and rejoiced with me when the news turned out to be good.

18.  Laila Biali  - go buy The Radiance Project.  Seriously.  This music blows me away.
This might be the best concert I've ever attended.
Small crowd - maybe 50 people
My favorite venue - Village Guitar and Amps, Saskatoon
Music - wow.  Just wow.
I've attended a lot of concerts but this one.
I don't know.
My soul came alive.
And then.....AND THEN...she said "come find me on Facebook,
so we can keep in touch."
Okay.  I will.  And I did.
And we are.

19.  Vintage dishes
20.  Journalling - reminders of my blessings
21.  All of the somewhat artsy things that I occasionally get to do that make me breath fresh breaths again.
22.  A husband who cleans the house and buys groceries and smiles and lays out my pajamas on my pillow when he knows I'm coming home from work exhausted.
23.  Fresh coffee
24.  Coming adventures

25.  Rend Collective - "Never Walk Alone" - I've been consciously searching, struggling to hang on to something in these days that haven't always been easy.  I guess sometimes my brain is too busy to receive and react to things that are blatantly there for me to hold on to.  As I've been working around the house and driving to work and just doing life, this song has unintentionally been playing in my brain, almost daily.  I think it's a gift from God to me.  I'll call it my own personal soundtrack for Fall 2015.  Give it a listen.  And then read the post all over again while it's playing.  If you felt like you had nothing to be thankful for before, maybe this song will remind you that you do.


You are my shepherd faithful forever
Your hand is strong where my faith is weak
Close as my heartbeat You won't forsake me
You are the love that will carry me

And I won't be afraid
I will trust Your heart and say

I will never ever ever walk alone
You are with us for us always holding on
Though I wander Your love goes further
You are my hope and future
I will never walk alone

 Questions may haunt us casting a shadow
Still You're the hope and the fire in me
I will not tremble, I will not stumble
You are my courage my bravery

And I won't be afraid
I will trust Your heart and say

 I will never ever ever walk alone
You are with us for us always holding on
Though I wander Your love goes further
You are my hope and future
I will never walk alone

Surely Your goodness and mercy
Will light up the way set before me
Surely Your grace will pursue me
All my days, all my days

 I will never ever ever walk alone
You are with us for us always holding on
Though I wander Your love goes further
You are my hope and future
I will never walk alone


CCLI Song # 7047088
Yeah, in many ways, ways that have just had to stay deep inside of me, not to be shared, the last few months have been hard, challenging, spiritually dry - but when I've trembled, God's calmed me.  When I've stumbled, He didn't let me fall too hard.  I'm never alone. 
And what greater thing to be thankful for. 
Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours.