Gratitude for Rest and Peace

A beautiful first Sunday of April 2024...! 
I was sitting in church this morning after enjoying our community breakfast listening to the service and gazing out the window! I am a window girl. I need to feel like I am outside 24/7! Even at bedtime my bedroom window is left open enough that I can see the night sky from my bed. The views of the outside are very important to me when I am indoors.  

After church I went for a drive. I do this every Sunday, in fact most days if I can. I drove to my favourite spots. It was a tremendous joy to see a couple entry points of Quetico Park, checked a few of my favourite fishing spots to see how the lake/rivers are receding. Things are looking good out there for a fantastic and maybe an extended fishing/paddle season! On my trails today I saw a moose, a young one that sure made my day. Unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough to capture a picture of him. But I have the moment in my heart – that's all that matters.  
On my drive earlier in the day, I went through a police ride program check stop on the highway. The officer advised they were  doing a seat belt check and seeing if anyone has been drinking. I was happy to advise that I don’t really drink anymore. For me it's just not something that I see value in anymore. Which got me reflecting throughout my day as I was driving on to my first stop in Quetico Provincial Park. 
I have sure healed a lot in the last year or so. Here’s the miracle of it all. Last summer – say in June I was in Atikokan visiting doing my usual tours to all my favourite spots.  I was talking to God – I am always having a conversation with God sometimes out loud but sometimes just in spirit. But I was driving around with gratitude for this little town that I was enjoying (at the time as a vacation home). I was asking God that he might find a way for me to come up here someday and that I would be able to give back to this little place that has done so much for me. But I was also reflecting on a very rough ride I have had in the last 12 years or so. I won’t get in to it but I haven’t had it easy. A lot happened over that time and I’ve suffered from a great deal of grief over more than one loss, and then last year I got hit with something really tough but it really opened my eyes to how much was going on with me.  So I am sure it was meant to happen.

When we are experiencing grief and loss, or trauma we sometimes just live and work and carry out our responsibilities, but we don’t take the time to feel our stuff and it can often show up in unhealthy ways as we don't process it.... and I was there. I was living and moving all the time for work and going through daily motions but underneath I was carrying a heavy load that most that knew me probably didn’t even realize was causing me trouble. I manage my stuff well on the surface by keeping busy and socializing, but I wasn’t processing any of it in meaningful ways. But last June while I was driving around in Atikokan having just experienced another bit of trauma I was asking God for some rest. Like God I need rest – I need some peace in my life. I need a moment to catch my breath!

                     "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

                                                                                                                                         Matthew 11:28

Wouldn’t you know it like right after I got back down to southern Ontario from my trip – I got offered work that would let me come live up here in Atikokan!  Prayer answered, but that prayer answered came with me having to leave another prayer that been answered except that other prayer wasn’t answered quite the way I had hoped it would be!. Sometimes God has a sense of humour!   It was if I had to chose between my two answsered prayers. I could only keep one.  But by this point I knew I needed to get my mask on before I could even accept the other prayer.  

You know when you are on the plane and they tell you before you can help others – you gotta put your own mask on first. Well that was more or less what was happening. I had to choose the prayer that was my oxygen. Coming up here to get some rest.  

I tell you I sleep like a baby up here. I eat well, and because I am living in such peace it makes no sense for me to drink or do anything that doesn’t make me feel good, risks my health or takes away from money better spent on other things i enjoy like gas for road trips!  I am more careful about investing my time and energy in maintaining the peace I have found. I’d rather be able to go for a drive than be stuck at home because I can’t go somewhere because I had a drink. Ironically I have come to find that refraining from alcohol has given me more freedom – and it is peaceful!  I have sure noticed the difference in my energy and my focus on well being since I chose to refrain more often than not. This finding peace thing gets addicting. You no longer want chaos, or headaches or things that make you feel bad. It’s a game changer, when you choose to find your peace. I know going forward in my life, I will be a bit more aware of what will maintain what I have found and what might risk it. And while I will always be there to support and love others because I know what it feels like to be alone...   I now know each of us must choose to get our own mask on – nobody can do that for us.  So I might help you find or locate the mask but you gotta put it on.

About two months ago I decided I was ready to start getting to know and mingling with the helpers in my community so that I could find ways to invest my time in it and I also wanted to start going to church again.  I found a great little welcoming community church to attend. My first Sunday there – I was sitting in my chair watching a wolf walk up the tracks. I felt like I won the lottery. Like here I am sitting in church finding ways to live a life of purpose helping others while sitting in the middle of the wilderness – which I treasure. It’s been an absolute blessing to be where I am. And my prayer was answered. I live in peace and I get rest. 
I don’t know what life holds or if my job will keep me here longer or not, but I am so grateful that I have chosen to take the time to breathe and heal and wow what a difference when you choose your health not just physical and mental but in your relationships too. Once you get that foundation built – the rest seems to figure itself out.  
I enjoyed my travels today. Here are some pictures.  
I am blessed to be resting – while I live!  
As for the other prayer that was answered at the wrong time...  
I think of John 13:7 “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 
God has a sense of humour but my faith is sound - I know He has a plan better than any I can come up with....!