Ahhh home.

There is no pillow in the world like my pillow. You know the way your own pillow folds perfectly around your head? Not too hard, not squishy soft, just …. yours?

It was so nice to lay my head on my own pillow this weekend.

It was so nice to see our neighbours that are family.

To watch Jesse and Molly fight for a spot on Mimmie’s lap as they stroked her lovingly and fought to relay their favourite stories, words tumbling out and over in no particular order that anyone could discern.

I love travelling. It’s such an adrenalin rush for me seeing new places and people and histories.

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Before marrying Tim I worked and travelled for four years. I am sure there were moments I missed having a set place to lay my head …. but not terribly often, if I am honest. And yet, as we walked into our place, Tim and I, we both sighed “Ahhh. I love our home.” It’s not trendy or fitted out, but it has our kid’s art in frames on the wall; it has photos of loved ones lining the stairs; it has badly-Pinterested (is that a word??) hand-made do-dads that only a spouse could love, and it often has a hundred people in it that I adore. Our house is a house at it’s best when filled with people.

Some of those people we love saved our house while we weren’t watching.

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While we had our eyes on Istanbul, France, Italy and Rome in awe and wonder, Ontario froze. In fact, in the bowels of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, some young Turks showed Tim pictures on their iPhones of Niagara Falls frozen over. And then last week, apparently, temperatures dipped into the cool minus-teens, and unbeknowns to us, our furnace popped a gasket. A faithful neighbour and friend, who really was checking our house every few days, came in and noticed something odd – the house-plants were frozen, and she could see her own breath … inside the house. By midnight, there were three neighbours involved, manually heating frozen pipes under the sinks with portable heaters, as well as the furnace repair company, who agreed to a service call at such unGodly hours – thanks to Bobbie who probably had the poor guy’s home number. Then all of them agreed to hand over their own credit cards to cover the fixing. The furnace guy, in true small-town fashion, said “Nah, it’s alright. I know where they live. Kim & Tim can fix me up when they get home.”

Can you imagine if we all minded our own business and let each other be? Can you imagine if our neighbours had minded their own businesses? We would have come home to armageddon-style burst-pipe disaster, dry-walls sprouting water from the attic down. I am so grateful to them. And to the other neighbour-friends who snow-blowed our driveway, started our van to check it was OK and filled our fridge with essentials to welcome us home.

It all just makes me take a breath and shake my head at the sheer blessings all around me at every. single. turn.

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When God says to love your neighbours (and I know He means not just the ones who live on the same block), I think he knows that “we” are not the only ones with something to offer. Know what I mean? We can delude ourselves into thinking that being kind to someone is the right thing to do, instead of understanding I am to love them because even though I am not sure of how right now, I need my neighbours as much as they need me. The joy is in the discovery of what we gain from each other.

We have had this extraordinarily fabulous adventure. Skiied with heroes in France. Raced the Kenny Will Cup (my Dad vs. his grandkids) in Italy. Gazed on streets as old as Jesus in Rome. Heard the Pope speak at Sunday mass in St Peter’s Square.

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And all along the way we have seen God’s blessings. I don’t mean that in a physical sense of material wealth and favour. I mean, we have basked in God’s pleasure and presence. And we have known it was Him we had to thank for it. I was struggling with the sheer abundance of this trip. (And to be honest, I think we should  struggle when we are spending large amounts of money on ourselves.) But my dear cousin said something to me that put it all into proper perspective. She said that like the Apostle Paul wrote, we have known what it is to be in need. And we also know what to is to be in plenty. This time we just had? It was a time of abundant plenty. The key to it all: we can do ALL things, with great thanks, through him who gives us strength.

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Our neighbours? For the record, they are just another example of our plenty.

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