Friday, October 09, 2009

Safe in the Arms of Jesus

On Thursday, October 8th, 2009, my mother, Annie Rosina Hartley, went to be with her Lord Jesus.  In Salvation Army lingo she was Promoted to Glory.  What a privilege it has been to have my mom with me for 11 years.  When she first came to live with us she was recovering from Breast Cancer surgery and she wasn't up to her usual energy levels.  But she recovered and we spent a few years with her being quite independent.  However, eventually her dementia increased and she had her first stroke a few years ago. We had switched roles. I became the parent.

What a great mother she was. Even though she had a difficult life she made mine wonderful and poured her love into me. I loved her hugs and kisses and everywhere I went until the very end I knew her love was with me.  Whatever I have today, whatever I have become, whatever I have accomplished - it's because of my mother and what she taught me, what she did for me and what she poured into me.  I owe her so much.

My mom was the kind of mom that everyone wants to have.  Friends would often say, "I love your mom!" As a teenager I would usually replay, "Yeah, but you don't have to live with her!" But I knew how special she was even then. She was a Sunday School teacher and was the Jr. Soldier Sargent in her Salvation Army Corps.  She was also a Guider and was a Brown Owl for 13 years.  I can't imagine how many children she ministered to over the years but I know that she was very special to all of them.

 I don't think you're ever really prepared to lose a parent, no matter how long they live. I can't imagine what life will be like without her.  I feel like an orphan. I want her back.

However, I know that she is full of joy with God, living in the room He has prepared for her.  I've read John 14 to many people who have lost loved ones.  I've often thought how empty it must sound when you're filled with grieft.

But I tell you it is a comfort.  I feel better knowing that she's safe and with Jesus, that she's happy and at peace with a whole body and spirit. No more paralysis. No more strokes. No more bed sores. With her voice back I'm sure she's singing away..... "I'm forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air...."

I'll join her one day.  Not too soon, but when I do I know I'll be so happy to be in her arms once again. Mom, Dad, Me and Jesus!

grace... kathie

Sunday, September 27, 2009


It's so hard sometimes.  Life comes at you a thousand miles per hour and you try to cope with it - just one task at a time, just one day at a time.  But it gets very tiring.  Sometimes you just have to say 'no' and take a break.  This past weekend my husband was away at a Men's Retreat Camp.  I didn't know if I would be prepared to make it through the whole weekend unscathed! Every day the anxiety is kept at bay with carefully laid out plans for the day interspersed with time for doing the things that keep me healthy. 

Like eating six times a day.  Do you have any idea how much time eating takes?  Somehow I resent it even though I know how important it is.  That's because when I don't eat I get shaky and start to get really irritable and depressed.  Gotta keep the blood sugar up!

And sleeping eight hours each night.  Do you know how hard that is?  I wake up at six am buzzing away with a rush of cortisol.  If I don't go to bed on time, I won't get enough sleep and then the anxiety will buzz away all day. 

Like sitting with the CES Machine.  45 minutes every day at least once.  Sigh....

For so long I've avoided spending much time on myself and have been running to take care of the kids, take care of Ed, take care of my mom, save the world.... That takes a lot of time and energy.

Giving myself a pedicure?  No time.
Doing my nails?  No time.
A bubble bath?  No time.
Getting my hair done... WAIT! I refuse to budge on that one! You just have to take care of the roots!

Then there's the organizational side of life.  I don't even like opening my bedroom closet.  God only knows what will fall out and hit me on the head.  Drawers are full.  Put the clothes on top. No room left on the bookshelf?  Pile 'em up on the night table, then on the floor beside the bed.

The only way to cope with this is retirement.  That won't be for at least another 15 years at the rate we're going.  Perhaps I'll win a lottery. Oooops! Don't gamble. Perhaps some obscure relative will die and leave me all his money.  Perhaps... heh, heh... perhaps not!  Well, maybe the Reader's Digest Sweepstakes?  Is that really gambling?

Oh well, I'm just going to have to continue to take it one day at a time. 

God, thank goodness you're here with me.  What in heaven's name would I do without you!? 

I ask you! 


grace... Kathie

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cherishing Mom

I thought I was prepared. Mom is going to be 89 in November and I thought, in a practical way, she's had a great life, survived breast cancer and already experienced a stroke. However, she's got some health problems and if it's her time and God chooses to take her home, then I'm ready for that. Every year at Christmas I think to myself, "Is this her last year with us?"

But I wasn't ready. I wasn't anywhere near ready.

When she had her stroke on August 28th I wasn't sure what to expect. She seemed to be trying to speak the next day and it looked promising. However, soon an infection set in and her lungs filled up with fluid from her heart not pumping properly. Then she just went to sleep. She wouldn't wake up and when we tried to feed her she just clenched her teeth and slept. So we waited, watched and hoped the antibiotics and other medications would work.

That was when I realized I really wasn't ready.

I prayed for God to either take her quickly or heal her - not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. And I cried. And cried. And then cried some more.

I didn't want my mom to suffer any more. But I also didn't want to lose her.

Then she woke up. And every day she is just that little bit more alert. Her spontaneous words have become spontaneous phrases. She smiles, responds and seems to have been given a kick start. I can't believe how happy I felt. But I also felt a bit selfish.
So now we're waiting to see how much she progresses. That will determine her immediate future. Will she go to the rehab ward and then a nursing home? Or will her heart give up the ghost causing her to deteriorate?

Well, right now she's here. So I'm taking it one day at a time and praising God for every moment I still have her to love. So I'm asking God to help me love her the best that I can. I'm cherishing whatever time I still have to spend with her. Yesterday I fed her lunch and then sang some hymns for her. She closed her eyes and smiled while I sang. She loves music. I've been privileged to take care of my mom in my home for 11 years now. Every day has been a give from God. My children have had their Grandma and she has seen eight of her great-grandchildren every week and they've had a chance to know her love. God is so good.

If you're reading this post, please pray for my mom and pray for me and my family, that God will give us strength, courage and wisdom to deal with this time in our lives and in making decisions for my mom.

grace... Kathie

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's funny how things happen in your lives that can change everything.

What was supposed to be a simple surgery turned into a journey and ended with a completely new perspective on health and well being.

A child's encounter with a dog changed our lives and created stress and sadness. We had a pet. Now we don't have a pet.

We go along each day and we like the stability of our lives. We like that, aside from a few not far from home adventures, we do the same thing day in and day out. We can count on that. It makes us feel secure.

Then one day everything changes.

Is there anything you can count on?

Thank goodness that God never changes. He always stays the same. He's always there - even when we can't see Him, even though we can't feel him.

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

grace... Kathie

ps. Update for Good Bye Boomer - good news of a sort. It turns out that Boomer didn't bite the little boy. There were no teeth marks at all, he swiped at him with his very large paw. Even though that wouldn't have changed our decision, it still makes me feel a little better.

Monday, August 17, 2009


I went on a brisk walk this morning. Just 10 minutes to Hopkins Pier. To get there you have to walk along a beautiful lane, covered by a canopy of trees, trees as tall as the sky. I love walking that lane, especially in the morning with the sun peeking through the tops. No matter the temperature, that lane is cool and refreshing. After the lane you go up a short but steep hill along a ways and down another hill to the pier.

At the end of the pier I sat and stared at the water, the sun shining down on it looked like sparkling diamonds. No matter where I stood on the pier, the line from the sun made the trail of diamonds lead straight to me. I sat and pondered the truth that God's light finds me no matter where I am. I sensed His presence at that moment and as the heat from the sun warmed my body, the light of God's love filled my heart.

I don't often feel that these days. It's only that I have a memory of it. That memory has been my sustaining power through the darkness, a dark so thick, almost like a fog that surrounds and confounds you. You can see the light but it is a distant light and you can't reach it. I heard Hell once described as a place where you look up and can see Heaven but you can't reach it.
I hope that that feeling never leaves me again. I hope it stays. But the reality is that life is hard and there are hard times we face. When that happens, sometimes we can't see God, feel His love or sense His presence.

But we believe He is there.

We trust in His unfailing love.

And that is faith. That is the faith that sustains us through the darkness.

grace... Kathie

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Good Bye Boomer

A very traumatic event happened this past weekend with our dog, Boomer. A little boy named Tristan who has some special needs approached him behind our trailer where he was tied up and probably a bit too quickly - and Boomer bit his face. He was cut up really bad and and covered with blood and his mother who was near by picked him up and rushed him to the washroom. I followed right behind her. It was shocking to see the amount of blood and there was big gashes on his head and face, one that narrowly missed his eye, and his lip. The camp nurse came and patched him up and then his mother took him up to the hospital in Sechelt to get "glued" back together.

We were devastated. Boomer came to us just a couple of months before his 2nd birthday. He had been sold by his breeder to a family in North Vancouver and it was not a good situation for him. He was a gentle, calm dog who ended up being terrorized by two other aggressive German Shepherds and when the breeder visited there because the owners complained he was too skittish, the breeder took him back. He was eight months old. The breeder re-socialized him in their house and he became their son's dog for a while. While visiting his kennels looking at Golden Doodle puppies, we saw him. Evan being very scared of large dogs, the breeder brought Boomer out and it was a match in heaven. He stood stock still and didn't even blink when 6yr old Evan went hesitantly to pet him. Evan asked us if we could have that dog!

Boomer quickly became a part of our family and he was really Ed's dog. He followed him everywhere, quickly obeyed and followed our direction. He loved to play and have a "kong" thrown for him and loved to run and frolic with some of the other camp dogs. However, there were a couple of incidents that convinced us that as obedient and gentle as he was, he was a skittish dog that frightened easily by the noise of trucks, especially the garbage truck and was territorial. He was aggressive when people came on our property and jumped at people at our campsite if they came up to the property too quickly. We had him neutered and he calmed down.

But two incidents happened with our grandchildren that gave us further cause for concern. One day when Sydney was 2 yrs old, she accidentally stepped on him while he was sleeping between the sofa and coffee table. He quickly reared up and swiped his paw at her leaving a couple of scratches on her. Then not even a year later, our other 2 yr old granddaughter approached him while he was hiding from the children in my mother's bedroom. We're not sure what happened, but it left a scratch and a small bruise on Alethea's face. That made us realize that no matter how gentle or obedient he was, he did not like being approached by small children and we had to be extra careful when the little ones were over. That's why he was tied up at the trailer, at the back, to be on the safe side. But when all is said and done, you can't always predict what children will do and the worst case scenario happened.

However, this story has a happy ending. We thought we may have to put the dog down because we didn't want to take any more chances. But after talking to a vet, the SPCA and some friends, we felt that perhaps we should find another home for him. But where? Who?

The my Tuesday night ladies arrived for a day trip up here on the coast. We were going to Molly's Reach for lunch, hit the market and then the yarn shop in Sechelt. But there was a new lady in the group named Laurie and when she heard what happened to our dog she spoke up and said, "I'll take him." What? We were shocked and weren't sure if she was serious. But no, she was. "I have 10 acres and no small children and no grandchildren. And I work for a dog trainer."

We're still not sure why or how this all happened. We're still feeling the trauma from last night when we saw a young child covered in blood. And less than 24 hours later, Boomer has a new home. He went home tonight with his new owner. It was an emotional good bye for Ed and I.

But Ed told me that last night when he was walking Boomer he was praying and asking for an answer to this situation. Begging for an alternative to ending Boomer's life. He heard a breeze in the trees and looked up - it was as if he could hear God's whisper to him, giving him comfort. God had an answer even though we couldn't think of a solution. In our grief and distress God came to us and spoke loud and clear.

Tristan is fine today and was already wanting to pet another dog. Apparently, it wasn't enough to traumatize him and make him scared. His cuts will heal and there will be scars.

But it could have been much worse. We're thankful it wasn't.

Good bye, Boomer.

My heart aches that you've left us and I'll never forget you and the love you brought into our lives.

grace... kathie

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Long Road

I looked at her face and I could tell that she was really trying hard not to let me see her fear. Even in her diminished mental state she was more concerned for me, her daughter, than she was for herself. She was trying to make the most of this temporary situation. I'm sure she was afraid I would never come back and get her ever again and that she would live the rest of her days in this God forsaken place. Actually, the place was Holyrood Manor and it was a lovely and bright place - much nicer than some I'd been in over the years. The staff were friendly and cheery and her room looked out over the front parking lot so that she could sit in her chair and see who was coming and going. She had her own TV and washroom. We had brought her pictures and her memory album so that she could look at it and remember, because new situations always made her more confused.

My mother, who will be 89 this November, came to live with me 11 years ago. She was reasonably healthy, having just gone through a bout of breast cancer. My biggest fear was that she would become ill and no one would be there to help her. But rather than having some big deal with more cancer or a heart attack, my mom has developed dementia. Four years ago a stroke made sure that her mind would never be her own again and little tiny strokes are stealing her memories and abilities one by one.

However, even though she calls me Norah sometimes (her sister's name) I know she knows I'm her daughter. In the morning she knows I'm her baby girl, her one and only girl. By evening she wants to know when she's going home and where is Dad. Then I have to tell her the news all over again that Dad is gone, he passed away 28 years ago now. You can tell by the look on her face that this is a painful revelation. It breaks my heart every time.

It's all I can do these days to remain strong for her. I'm beginning to break under the strain of looking after her while holding down a full time job and having two young boys at home. But she is so dependent on me and I'm her safety net. All she wants is to be with her family and it breaks my heart to think of placing her in a nursing home. Whatever happens, I know that God will look after us both and that He will give us wisdom and guidance.

When I went to pick her up she was sitting in the dining room with three other ladies. One of them was giving the LPN a really hard time and cursing at her. My mom and the other two ladies were just sitting there, trying not to acknowledge the outburst. I came up behind her and leaned around to give her a kiss on the cheek. She cried out in surprise! When she realized I was there to take her home her reaction was priceless. She got up and looked at all the ladies and said, "Well, good bye ladies. It was nice to meet you and I hope I never see you again!"

I love that woman!

grace... Kathie

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I’ve been thinking about fences lately. Why? Well, the camp built one behind our trailer and its caused me to ponder the purpose of good fences.

First, they give you privacy. No one can see through a fence, unless it is a lattice fence, like the one they put up behind our trailer. But to see through you’d have to go up to the fence and peer through the lattice work to actually see. That would be rude, wouldn’t it? Would anyone in their right mind, other than Gladys Kravitz, do something like that?

Second, fences keep people out, although someone could climb over. That would be awkward though and most people, aside from unruly 11 year old boys, respect them.

Third, they keep things in. If you have a dog a fence is a good idea because, unless the dog is a tireless digger, they’ll stay in a fenced yard.

I finished at three. I don’t want there to be too many more reasons than that to like fences. I like openness and vulnerability, it appeals to me as a quality. Except that after a while a life without fences can become difficult to manage. If anyone can see in, come in and anything can leave… well, let’s just say that kind of life quickly becomes one of constant activity and can spiral down into chaos.

And while fences have their uses – I like the lattice kind. You can see a bit through it, but not completely. It’s a fence that is kind of inviting.

It says, come and see if I’m home – but don’t bombard me with your presence.
It says, come and knock and let me invite you in.
It says, I’m open to visiting with you, but with limitations.

Sometimes, we need fences like this in our lives. Our work can crowd our lives and worm its way into our home life. Friends can barge in without an invitation and intrude into time that we need to reserve for recharging or feeding our souls. Even family can make demands on us that can seem reasonable but drain us of our energy.

They say fences make good neighbours.

I think they help people stay healthy as well.

And so I think I'll spend some time building some fences... lattice ones, I think.

grace... Kathie

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

As I write I'm sitting here watching the memorial service, listening to the tributes in word and song, I'm reminded that Michael Jackson was much more than what the tabloids and media fed to us. The irreverent names, the lawsuits, the criminal charges, the surgeries... his eccentricities... convinced many that he was crazy, weird... Wacko.

I grew up to the tunes of Michael and danced my heart out to the beat of his music. His poster adorned my walls as a young teen along with Donny Osmond and so many others cut out of Teen magazine. I remember Ed and I attending the Jackson concert at Maple Leaf Gardens - the Victory Tour - it was outstanding! I don't think I ever enjoyed a concert more than that one.

To those who did not grow up loving his music and following his career perhaps wouldn't understand the way that many feel about him. But he was important to our world, the world we grew up in.

Today, they are remembering the good things that he did. They're remembering the things that he accomplished. They're remembering the giving to charity - he gave more to charity than any other pop star. They're remembering the legacy of music that he left us. Through his music we heard him grow, then we heard him blossom, then we heard him change, then we heard him express his journey, then we heard his anguish and pain... he showed us that he was just a man.

Michael believed in God. He struggled to find the right way to express this belief and remained on his journey. The children of Martin Luther King spoke about how he called their mother when she was dying and told her how he had been praying for her. I think he spent his life seeking God. He was on a journey. No matter what we thought of him through the tabloid feeding frenzy, you cannot deny that he had a huge impact he had on our world, on the people that he touched .

I know he made my life much more full because of his musical contribution.

I will always remember him.

I will always dance to his music and when I can't dance anymore, I know my heart will remember .

I will pray for his children that they will find peace and that God will bless them.

May God bless his family and those that knew him personally and who are grieving a lost son, brother, good friend...

I hope in His journey that he found God, because I know that God loved Michael Jackson.
Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me
Lord, heal the world, and let me be a part of that work...

Farewell, Michael.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Growing Family

Life never ends up the way you thought it would. You have a picture in your mind as you go along - when your children are young, of course! Then as they grow and mature, they make up their own story - and it changes yours. I never thought I would be a grandmother at 41 never mind a grandmother of 8 at 50! I pictured my daughters going off to university, then establishing a career and then getting married and having children starting right about.... well, now.

However, in a healthy family, each child gets to determine how they'll follow God's plan for their life when they come of age. Parents never really know what to expect when it comes to their kids. So as I experience the reality of being a Nana so early while still having young boys at home, I sense the hand of God in all of this. God is leading us on a journey and it's going in a different direction than we thought it would. It affects our life in so many ways - the direction of our work and vocation, our retirement, how we spend our time... everything changes.

That's not always a bad thing.

Enjoy the pictures... Kathie

Papa's Girls Sydney & Alethea (& baby Lily)

Mailea & Nana

Mailea, Sydney & Bronwyn blowing raspberries!

Bronwyn Sheena Anne born March 19th, 2009

Naomi Kathryn June born June 27th, 2009

... And now a reprieve.... till the next one gets married and starts having children. How many will we end up with? Who knows....

Want to make a guess?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Anxious Thoughts

If ever there was a time in my life that I thought I would be an anxious and fearful person, it has escaped my mind completely. Me? Afraid? The woman who takes on the world for Jesus? Not me.

But here I am, fearful, anxious and generally unhappy with the state of my life. It will come like a thief in the night and steal my calm right out from under me. My chest will become tight, breathing will get shallow and my neck will tense. Then the adrenaline will rush upwards and my lower bowells will feel like they are going to melt... and if I can't stop it I'll begin to feel like I might cry. How did this happen. It is so complicated. It cannot be explained easily.

I knew something was wrong when I couldn't knit. When I can't concentrate on knitting, there must be an investigation. For without knitting, what kind of life would I have? What would I do? How could I cope without the endless stream of creativity that falls gracefully from two clicking needles?

So I am investigating - through the medical doctor, through a natural doctor, with a psychologist. Hopefully, I will find the answer and therein find the way out.

They say I will find the way out. They say I will get better.

With rest.

With calm and peace around me.

With time.

sigh..... I hate that I have to do this. And that is likely the attitude that got me here in the first place. God must have a reason for making me stay still.

If you're reading this, then I hope that you'll pray for me to heal and recover.

grace... Kathie

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oh my! I've been busy.... sigh...

Wow! I've been so busy writing for the salvationist.ca, therubicon.org and my other blog www.kathiechiu.wordpress.com, that I've been remiss in keeping my friends and extended family up to date.

Well, here's some news....

Baby Bronwyn is here!

Sarah deliverred her at 3:04 am on the 19th of March. One push, no fuss, no muss - my daughter is a pro!

Well done, Sarah!

grace... Kathie