Dad.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved my dad and been so proud to be his daughter.

The longer I live, the more I feel this way.

And the more I learn from this kind, intelligent man I’m blessed to call Dad.  He’s shown me unconditional live, had faith in me when I was a difficult teenager and sometimes lost faith in myself, and he’s a great example of optimism and hard work.

When I was young, I remember he had this quotation on a small card:

“To live greatly, face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and triumph with humility.”

~Thomas S. Monson~

This is actually how he lives his life; that’s what makes it so inspiring to me. You won’t be surprised to learn that those words have spent plenty of time posted on a small recipe card in my home since I’ve been a grown woman with walls of my own to fill.

From my dad I’ve learned to ride a horse, treat everyone I meet with humanity, build a fence, read and enjoy good literature, value loyalty, understand history, and to study and share my faith. No matter what life throws at him, he keeps calm and carries on.

He’s the one I call when I need to comprehend the backstory to what I read in the news; he’s very well-informed. He’s the one I called on the phone one night many years ago from my bedroom in England when I was frozen with fear over a scuffling sound I heard in the old chimney. (To his credit, he helped me feel a bit better before pointing out patiently that there wasn’t much he could actually do for me from Canada. That was ok; by then I felt better. Also, it wasn’t a mouse after all.)

Best of all, because of him, it’s never been hard for me to believe and trust in a kind and loving Heavenly Father who cares about me and always wants to help, forgive, and bless me.

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~my son with me and my dad last summer~

So blessed,

Leah 

mamma mia.

Being a good mom is no cake walk. Ask ours.

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Here’s my lovely momma getting some kisses from me and one of my three younger sisters, when we were together at the Calgary Temple one day a few years ago. Isn’t she adorable?

She has more energy than most people I know. She works harder than most of us. And she has a great sense of humour. She cooks, gardens, and organizes like a queen. She’s super smart, endlessly generous, and amazingly fun with little children. She’s educated, and smart; and she loves animals.

Her faith has informed and inspired my own, and if that’s all she ever did for me or gave to me, it would be enough.

But that’s not all. She cares so much for me, and for my family. She’s forgiving and nothing can take her down for long. Her life hasn’t been an easy one; I wouldn’t want to trade. But mine has been sweeter and more gentle and beautiful because of her, turning herself inside out time after time after time to create for us something better than what she started with. I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of giants in my own life, and she’s definitely one of them.

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On a walk near her home today…

Do you know how encouraging her example it to me? I believe I can do hard things.

And this is what she tells me:

Loved you yesterday.

Love you still. 

Always have.

Always will.

I believe her.

So blessed,

Leah

faith.

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painting by Simon Dewey

This is how I feel about Jesus Christ. Like he loves me, and I can trust him to always care for me. I’ve felt his love too many times, in too many ways, to ever doubt it. And I love him with all my heart. I feel safe and secure in his amazing love; he knows me better than I know myself, sees all my flaws, and only wants to help me. I am grateful for many blessings, every day, but he is everything to me.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

C.S.Lewis

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Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

I can’t imagine my life without him in it, and thankfully, I’ll never have to experience that. Because no matter what life throws at me, I can always count on Jesus to be with me, as long as I’ll be with him. This changes everything, in the best possible ways.

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come…. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”     ~Bible, New Testament, Romans 8:38-39~

The most beautiful thing about all of this is that it’s just as true for everyone else as it is for me. He loves us all with a pure and perfect love. He fills me to overflowing with the feeling of it, and it changes me; I want to share it with everyone I can. I try.

So blessed,

Leah

white chocolate craisin cookies.

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. What we had planned was a visit to this dreamy nearby destination: Kananaskis Nordic Spa.

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-what we had in mind-

However, this is not to be. (Once again, thanks, COVID-19.) Instead, we exchanged cards and gifts at home, and we’re ordering in from our all-time favourite restaurant (NOtaBLE), which is now very local to us, since our move almost a year ago. I’m sure the dinner will be delicious, even though we’ll be enjoying it as take-out. Better not complain.

In the meantime, I wanted to make a treat for Kirby today. I asked him what he’d like, and he replied, without hesitation, that he’d love these cookies. I’ve adapted the recipe a bit, and here’s how it goes now:

White Chocolate Craisin Cookies

Cream 3/4 cup butter with 1 & 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, and a teaspoon each of salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir in 2 & 1/2 cups flour, then 2 cups combined craisins and white chocolate chips. Bake in 1 tablespoon lumps on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, at 350 degrees F for about 9 minutes. Let cool a couple minutes before lifting them off the pan with a thin metal flipper. 

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-real life-

So, this isn’t quite the romantic spa getaway we had in mind. But, all things considered, it’s a pretty sweet anniversary anyway. Celebrating at home, yeah. But so grateful for what we have to celebrate at all. Plus, cookies. Mmm.

So blessed,

Leah

city parks.

“In merging nature and culture the most successful cities combine such universal needs as maintaining or restoring contact with the cycles of nature, with specific, local characteristics.”
― Sally A. Kitt Chappell, Chicago’s Urban Nature: A Guide to the City’s Architecture + Landscape

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This afternoon my love and I took our bikes out for a beautiful ride along the river… It wasn’t as warm outside on the cycling path as I’d optimistically hoped, so I stopped after a few minutes to put on my light sweater jacket. And zip it up. A bit breezy. But that’s ok; I’m still feeling celebratory about venturing outdoors without mittens, or even gloves.

We pedalled east, along with the flow of the beautiful blue-green Bow River… and it didn’t take us too long (maybe half an hour?) to arrive at our destination; Prince’s Island Park. It’s actually right downtown, and all the people were out enjoying the spring weather along with the two of us today. Well-spaced out. (Thanks, COVID-19.)

We saw Canada geese (some of our nation’s most unfriendly inhabitants), other cyclists, dogs (making us wish harder for one), and people in bikinis (seriously) and hammocks, walking, sitting, and lying on the grass. I had a sudden urge to feel my bare feet in the warm grass, which is starting to show signs of turning green. It felt SO good!

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Country living is a dreamy ideal, a memory from my childhood, but not realistic for me now. Clearly, I’m not alone; most people live in cities. I really appreciate city parks that give us beautiful and free access to nature, even in the middle of urban places.

So blessed,

Leah 

wild roses.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”

~J.M.Barrie~

…or, in my case, God gave me a camera phone so I can have roses in April.

In December, I have Christmas to cheer my heart. By late April, my soul is really craving green leaves, rosebuds, and fresh little blossoms.

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The snow is pretty well gone, but the ground is still mainly grey and brown where I live. I remind myself that spring has sprung when the days become longer; I try to focus on and celebrate the increasing daylight. This is necessary for me. I’ve learned by sad experience that March and April can find me feeling more than a little low if I wait for mild, greening weather too early in the year for where I now live.

So last summer I went outside by the river and collected these photos of wild roses, to tide me over until our short but sweet rose season is back.

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How pretty are they? And they not only look delicious, but smell so sweet I could drink the scent. It’s something I look forward to all year. I can just breathe in the rose-scented air and feel so refreshed. And I know I’m not alone in this adoration of roses.

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When we lived In England for a few years, there was a huge rose bush outside my kitchen window, in the back garden. The roses it grew were blush-coloured, and abundant. I’ll never forget the simple pleasure of standing at the kitchen sink and looking past the hideous orange and yellow tiles someone had unwisely decorated the backsplash with… to my bountiful bush of blooming beauties through the open window.

So blessed,

Leah 

this man of mine.

I love him. Can’t help it; he’s a lovable guy. His name is Kirby, and I’ve been married to him for almost 24 years…

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This is us out for our first bike ride of the season, yesterday. It was his birthday! After he finished his work (at home, thank you COVID-19) we couldn’t wait to get out and cycle for a while in the warm spring sunshine. It was the warmest day of the year so far; so nice for his special day. I say that with a wee tinge of jealousy; on my birthday, just a couple weeks ago, the temperature ranged between about -4 and +5 degrees celsius. But my jealousy is the nice kind; I wouldn’t have the weather on his birthday be any worse. I just wouldn’t have complained if mine had felt a bit more like spring.

So back to our bike ride. Kirby suggested that I ride ahead of him, since I am not especially athletic, and therefore a slow rider. He was nice enough to not put it quite like that when he offered to keep behind me. Being considerate enough to cycle at my pace is a little thing that says a lot about the kind of guy he is.

He also has a great sense of humour; this is one of the first things that attracted me to him back in the day. He’s a talented and innovative teacher, and has a way of connecting really well with older kids and teens that seems like an inborn superpower to me. (I specialize in babies and very small children.) Kirby also has a knack for technology. This is something else I really appreciate; he just laughs when I say that the printer and the remote controls etc behave better when he comes in to help me with them, but I know in my heart that it’s true.

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Again, it’s my intention to make my blessings blog posts as relatable as possible. I do realize I’m the only person who has this strong and sweet husband, but so many of us have people in our lives who love us and are always there- for better or for worse. It’s sometimes easy to get used to these loved ones; almost a form of hedonic adaptation… I’m writing to remind myself, and my dear readers, how good we really have it.

So blessed,

Leah