More than a can. 

I spied with my little eye, some cans of Libby’s Canned Pumpkin, and my heart fluttered. I smiled at the stranger pushing her shopping cart down the same aisle as me.

At my local supermarket, here in little ole New Zealand that’s a bit of a find you see. We use pumpkin more in savoury dishes..like soup, and as a side with roast meat. And if we want it puréed in any way, shape or form, we’re more likely to do that ourselves…none of this canned business….

But when I saw the can of Libby’s, I didn’t just see a can filled with an orange vegetable, and I saw more than an ingredient for a very important  component, of a very important meal.

Two years ago when we left the land of the brave and the home of the free,we flew downunder via a brief stop in Fiji. It was tough having to be there for a family wedding, but if needs must. We’ll always remember the questioning looks the Fijian Immigration Officers gave us as our suitcases went through the X-ray machines. For part of our precious luggage were some cans of Libby’s Canned Pumpkin….The Fijians were familiar with canned corned beef, pumpkin; not so much.

Why was precious luggage space and weight occupied by such items? Why did I rejoice so much upon discovering the cans in my local supermarket recently?

Well you see, we learnt and saw many things in our four and a half year stint of living Stateside.
My family and I discovered the delights of peanut butter m& ms. Of root beer floats, the convenience of gluten free bisquick mix and the joys of Sonic Hot Fudge Sundaes.
We used to say  that our favourite ‘American’ food was ‘Mexican’.
And we would also say that our favourite American holiday was without a doubt Thanksgiving. We loved learning about the first Thanksgiving  as our children learnt about it at school. We were thrilled to be invited into other families celebrations, to feast with them at their extended tables. We beg/ borrowed and stole special Thanksgiving recipes that had been passed down from generation to generation. But most of all we embraced what’s at the core of Thanksgiving; of taking time to take stock of God’s faithfulness, of remembering His goodness and blessings in our lives and actively recalibrating our hearts, to be thankful.

We moved from America with five suitcases in hand, five carry-on pieces and six cubic metres of belongings were shipped by sea. We left America with a whole bunch of beautiful memories, amazing experiences behind us and wonderful friendships established. But the most important American ‘thing’ we left with, is our very own little American.
And so he will grow up knowing about the town he was born in, being familiar with our friends and adopted family there, and we’ll delight in celebrating with him , the wonderful holiday that is Thanksgiving.

And while I’m perfectly capable of puréeing my own pumpkins, why would I, when I now know where to buy a can of Libby’s which is exactly the right consistency and texture for pie?

I’m a pretty simplistic kinda gal, but I sincerely believe the world would be a better place, if we could all sit down together over pie, with hearts centred on thankfulness. It does something to your innerds, when you take time to take stock of all we have, of the richness we’re surrounded with, and when you actively decide to live a life of thanksliving.

Canned pumpkin may be something you can easily get your hands on, or it may be more of a treasure search depending on where you live. I’ll always look at it, and fondly anticipate a certain meal in November, and with that, center my heart on God’s goodness and graciousness, no matter what else is happening in my life.

This year, I’m gonna eat my pie, and my soul is gonna soar, singing these words to this song;
Your goodness knows no bounds

Unfailing Love in you is found

Your faithfulness and truth remain

Through every age

(Lyrics to ‘Your Love Remains’, Grace Vineyard Church, Christchurch, NZ, 2014).

Who would have thought that canned vegetables have so much to offer? But they do, friends, they do.

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The trip gift.

I’m being given the gift of a trip. For when I turn 40. Which isn’t soon, but soon enough. It’s the kind of gift that people never expect to fall into their laps. But it is happening to little ole me.

Seriously.

I get to pick a place in the world, anywhere in this wonderful, beautiful world we live in, and I have a bit of flexibility in what time of the year to go, and to celebrate my birthday, my brother is taking me, to my chosen destination.

Gobsmacking stuff, right?

Anywhere.

My kids think I’m a little crazy that I don’t have a set place to go to yet.

You see there’s a lot to consider. This is my one big chance to go wherever. Wherever.

For a mere day I toyed with the idea of choosing something radical like signing my brother and I up for a half marathon in some amazing historical city like Prague (and yep, a marathon is held there, I got as far as googling it). But who am I kidding? I can’t even run to the corner and while a challenge would be good for me, I’m not that gal that needs to prove herself through that kinda challenge. If I say that three times fast then I may begin to believe it.

I’ve also thought about doing something adventurous like climbing something…..or cycling something….but that’s not really my cup of tea.

The fact that it’s my brother and I on this trip is neat. I like him a lot. My brother. And not just cos he’s uber generous. But it also rules out a few destinations that would be what my romantic self would prefer to go to with my Spunky Hunk.

I’m also taking into consideration that I have coeliac disease and really don’t want to be in a foreign country and be hungry the whole time, because of the food limitations. A hungry Fiona would all too quickly become hangry.

So yeah. I’m thinking practically. But I’m also trying to engage a part of my  brain that hasn’t been used in a while. That part of me that allows herself to dream.

Yeah dream.

I think that somehow, somewhere, in amongst the demands and expectations of everyday, normal life, the ability to dream has somehow, somewhere leaked out of me. How about you? When was the last time you had a dream about something you wanted to do, something you desired to be? Something just for you. Not for your spouse/ partner/children/ siblings/ family/ friends. But you.

The book club that I’m part of is reading Bill Hybel’s book ‘simplify’ at the moment. The book looks at ten practices to unclutter your soul. I think most people these days are over scheduled, exhausted and overwhelmed at times. If any of those words are niggling away at your conscience , then I recommend giving this book a go.

Last night the chapter we looked at was talking about harnessing your calendar’s power, of how a calendar can be the primary tool for helping you become who you want to become. Hybels gives examples of people who by prioritising something enough to make room in their calendar for it, were able to make drastic changes to their lives. ‘If you start by plugging in the time slots on your calendar that determine who you want to become – and then fill in the other stuff around it, you’ll gradually become the kind of person you want to be’.

John Grisham was an attorney until he put the word ‘write’ into his calendar.

What’s your word?

What have you forgotten about, or put aside, in the hustle and bustle of life? What word have you left on the train, a by-product of your daily commute? Has your word been left on your baby’s change table? Is it in the pile of newsletters and communiques that you’re quietly ignoring weeding through?  Is your word stuck in your car, because you’re in and out of that vehicle all day, between the demands of your job, and maybe caring for elderly parents?

Maybe it is time to pick up that word, from wherever in your world you’ve cast it to, and it is time to remember what that word stirs in your soul.

I’m pretty sure my word for the moment is ‘dream’. To take some time out from the demands of raising a young family, to forget about the restrictions of budgets and schedules, and to relearn how to dream. And I’m hoping that with that, will come a very strong desire in my mind for a destination for this trip of a lifetime.

My fortieth is going to be epic, wherever I end  up going, whatever I end up doing, but the journey I’m taking in getting there, is maybe worth as much as the trip itself. This rekindled ability to dream. That’s kinda priceless.

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Desperation.

Desperation is seeing a word on a train, mistaking it to be a destination in a country you’re hoping to get to, and boarding that train amidst a pressing crowd, and against the authorities wishes.

Desperation is pushing your wife and infant onto railroad tracks and grabbing hold of them of them and holding on for dear life, with gritted teeth literally biting your wife’s clothing. Attempting to stay together, attempting to reach a desired destination, against all odds.

Desperation is passing your terrified child over the heads of a surging crowd, willing your child to make it onto the transport out of your miserable no mans land.

Desperation makes people do desperate things.

I can’t remember the last time I was genuinely desperate for anything.

If you’re reading this, I imagine you’re the same. You know you live in a completely different level of comfort than many of our brothers and sisters experiencing displacement right now. And you’re moved by the stark images you’re seeing of the refugee crisis. You truly are. But you don’t know how or where you can help.

Here are some things you can do. I’ve collated some things that little ole me, and little ole you can do. Many years ago I wore a shirt that bore the words ‘when desperation exceeds our fears, progress begins’.

Friends, it is time for progress. 

  •  If you’re in New Zealand, please sign this petition to increase the refugee quota.
  • If you’re in Australia, please sign this petition, urging the Australian government to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees.
  • Tear Fund New Zealand makes these suggestions: Write to your local MP or the Minster of Immigration.  Donate to us as we help the refugees in practical ways. Take part in a protest march (details on www.tearfund.org.nz). Volunteer with a refugee agency here in NZ.
  • And Ann Voskamp gives five examples of things we can do in her recent blog post here.

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