I was given a beautiful 365-day devotional from a very good friend for Christmas: Savor, by Shauna Niequist.  (https://www.christianbook.com/savor-living-abundantly-where-you-are/shauna-niequist/9780310344971/pd/344971)      Janice had no idea my life was about to explode, but the book has been insightful. Yesterday the topic was “everything is interim”, which is a good lead-in to how I feel about life right now. And right now I’m not painting…. in the true “I’m an artist and therefore should paint every day” sort of syndrome that artists get into (but that’s a topic for a future blog).

My husband, Allen, of nearly 40 years, passed away on January 1 of this year. (https://www.arbormemorial.ca/en/riverpark/obituaries/allen-chalupiak/117682.html) We had some amazing years together: lots of dreams fulfilled, lots of heartache, lots of life……. most importantly we raised 3 kids together the best we could.

In late December, right before Christmas actually, I signed up for eharmony and Christian Mingle. I was legally separated for a couple months and was feeling….. well, odd….. ?!  I have 3 beautiful adult children and 4 amazingly beautiful grandsons (2 are 4 years, a month apart, and 2 are 1 year, 5 months apart). I have always been very close to all of them and recently had taken books out of the library on boundaries.

I wasn’t supposed to meet anyone “interesting” online – I told the few fellows I did “chat” with (and one phone call that went bad fast, but took an hour to reach the end) that I wasn’t sure why I was online – I was a very happy single woman and wasn’t ever getting married.

Then came Barry: he rocked my world just in his texting – the kind of texts that made me snicker to myself and often laugh out loud, and continue laughing to myself for several minutes. And then we talked, after only a few days and it just got real, very fast. Let’s be clear: first and foremost I am a woman of faith – I have a rock solid belief in God, consider Jesus my Lord and Savior and know that God’s Holy Spirit lives inside me.  So when Barry blew into my life, I actually prayed (I write in a prayer journal every morning) “God, if this is not from You, then stop it right now and slam the door shut”; but the doors just kept opening.  Another blog.

Long story short, we met in Mexico January 8, and married in Calgary February 7 at our cute little VRBO by a wonderful marriage officiant.  Barry’s two sisters, my sister Jean, and all the hubbies were there with us, as well as Barry’s oldest son and granddaughter. Later, at a very fun dinner party (highly recommend the Cattle Baron, (https://cattlebaroncalgary.com) to anyone in Calgary!) we were joined by my brother John, his wife Pat and Barry’s daughter and her husband.

When Allen and I married in December of 1983 I never thought he’d die from alcoholism 40 years later…. I certainly never thought I’d be married twice, never thought I’d be living between two cities (Barry lives in Medicine Hat!)….. but …. life has a way of turning on a dime….. but ultimately I believe “God is in control”.

“Every season that I thought was stable and would be just how it was for a long time ended up being a preparation or a path to the next thing. When you decide to be on this journey with God, everything is interim.” (from Savor, by Shauna Niequist).

Life is full of surprises – we have to be careful not to get “settled”….. I might not “seriously paint” for several more months…. in the meantime I have a show coming up at the Humboldt Art Gallery https://humboldtmuseum.ca/public-art/gallery in July.  I was SO excited when I got the letter in 2022 advising me that my submission for a show was accepted! But last week I did go back to Studio 1010 in the Margo Fournier Arts Centre, John V Hicks Gallery (https://www.citypa.ca/en/parks-recreation-and-culture/john-v-hicks-gallery.aspx) and “paint” with my Monday afternoon group….. mostly I was giddy with excitement telling the highlights of my “new life”, but I did finish one small piece. Just have to sign off on it. Small steps, just start.

And when you hear the voice of God…. the nudge in your head or your heart, the surprising thing that comes along, the robin in the grass…. whatever and however God speaks to you, because He does speak to all of us…. we just are too busy most of the time to hear Him.  “We can dig in, make plans, write in stone, pretend we’re not listening, but the voice of God has a way of being heard”. (Savor, by Shauna Niequist).  God’s voice seeps in:  through eharmony (even when my distance was 200 km, Medicine Hat got through!), and His voice moves us….. to a different province, to a new way of doing family and life.  God’s voice keeps me moving and dancing and searching. And with the surprises comes great hope.