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Parallels of Change

Updated on February 10, 2018

Mill Lake Park has had a great impact on my life and there are significant parallels of change between the two. Nothing stays the same. With a lot of effort and determination, positive change can emerge which enables a park or a person to flourish.

Mill Lake Park

A lake in the middle of town—what a treasure! While many people now take its beauty for granted, it wasn’t always that way. Mill Lake got its name because it was the site of a sawmill. As you can imagine, the lake was filled with logs and debris and wasn’t a pretty place to relax but a place of work. When the mill closed down, the debris was left behind and the lake became lost and neglected. It was rather insignificantly located between two towns. As the area developed these two towns built up and soon the lake was surrounded by houses. Many years later these two towns became one city and the lake was in the middle...a beautiful park used by families with small children, walking enthusiasts, and nature lovers. It is a lake that brings people together. It took a common vision, determination, and hard work by city leaders, advocates, and volunteers to expose the beauty of Mill Lake and protect it as a park for all to discover and enjoy.

Before cleanup
Before cleanup
Ripples on the water
Ripples on the water
Lake in the city
Lake in the city
Light breaking through
Light breaking through
Mt. Baker-view from the lake
Mt. Baker-view from the lake
New life, new hope
New life, new hope
In the Fall
In the Fall
"Our bench"
"Our bench"

Emotional Connection

I’ve had an emotional connection to this lake since I was twelve when I moved with my family from the province of Manitoba to British Columbia. It was the best move of my life—new friends, new school, new church, new beginning. A world of opportunity lay before me waiting to be discovered, including a lake in the middle of town. We would go there for picnics and feed the ducks—lots of them! I remember Dad feeding a squirrel, obviously used to human handouts, but a delight for us to watch. At that time there was only one road access to Mill Lake and rarely was there lack of parking. On another side, a short distance from the lake an outdoor pool had been built and this is where I learned how to swim with new friends from the neighborhood. When family from Manitoba would come for a visit, we would take them to see the lake as part of our sightseeing tour. We saw its potential.

Beautiful Potential

I went away to attend college for several years and shortly after graduation returned to my hometown. Life was different—I moved out on my own, had my own car, and commuted to work. Every now and then I would drive to Mill Lake to see if things were still the same. While my emotional connection was just as strong, changes were happening there as well—a paved walking path had been made part way around the lake, the park land was more carefully maintained, and the lake was cleaner. The beautiful potential was emerging.

Disappointed Development

Once again I moved away and after many years wondered if my hometown, which had now tripled in size, would hold opportunities for me that my current location no longer did. I moved, started attending university, and tried to make a new life for myself. The city had changed, I had changed and I felt like an outcast, unaccepted and alone. Reality fell far short of my eager expectations and once again I found solitude and comfort at Mill Lake. This time I felt a kinship to its own struggle to become “whole.” Development of the park had come to a standstill until the city could purchase the houses along the waterfront and surrounding blocks—this was done, one house at a time. I felt like I was facing my own struggles, one obstacle at a time. With God’s help I kept trying to grow towards my own potential.

Difficult Deliberation

Yes, I moved away again, this time for good…never to return (or so I thought!) My parents were aging and Dad went into a care home, leaving Mom to live alone. After much deliberation, I decided to move back and be there for them as needed in their elder years. My heart was divided and often I would seek refuge at Mill Lake, using the completed walkway to circle the lake as I thought and prayed for hope! Too many of my dreams and aspirations seemed impossible and therefore unnecessary. I would look at what had been accomplished at the Park, how the path was now complete and other parts were being developed, and I longed for the same hope for my own life to come full circle and reach its potential. I didn’t know there was a man who saw me on one of my walks and prayed for me, “Lord, please bring someone into this lady’s life so she can have joy!” I was unaware that God had plans that he was bringing to completion. This man was also unaware that he would become the answer to his own prayer!

Dreams Fulfilled

A year or so later I signed up with e-Harmony to see what it was all about. Eight months later I started communicating with a man from my town—we met in person and discovered that I was indeed the very lady he had prayed for. We fell in love, returning daily to sit and talk on a bench overlooking the water at Mill Lake. He helped me find joy and encouraged me to awaken the dormant dreams of my heart. As we got to know each other better, I began to dream of getting married in the park, by the lake—and we did!

Seasons End

A couple of years after I got married both my parents died within the same year. Almost every day during that time, I made the trek around the lake to the care home where they lived. I went through wave after wave of emotion, dealing with their failing health and then the loss of each one. Mill Lake was witness to the intense pain which was tearing at my heart. It also became a great comfort as I laid it all to rest at its shores. In the years since, large trees have fallen, been trimmed or cut down. They have been replaced with new trees and new foliage. The seasons of life, death and rebirth continue and the parallels of change deepen.

Renewed Journey

While I have experienced the depths of pain in that park, I also have experienced much joy. It is a place where I get inspired with new thoughts/ideas, discover new people, and delight in the ever-changing beauty of nature around me. I am thankful every day that my hopes and dreams which once seemed lost and forgotten, have once again been reborn. With God’s help and the encouragement of my soul mate, they are becoming a reality. As Mill Lake Park is subject to upgrades and changes to make it better, I will continue to grow and change in order to reach my full potential—our journey continues.

© 2010 Flo Belanger

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    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Louisa Rogers, thank you for your response! I missed your comments for some reason. Sorry. Anyway, It is a nice park, that's for sure and I'm sure it holds lots of stories for many people. I am sorry to hear that you have not been back for a long time. I hope for your sake that things work out with your daughters and you will return to happier times. Thanks for sharing with me.

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 

      5 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Flo, I wrote you a comment saying I figured out where Mill Lake is, and I've walked around it several times. Not sure what happened to the comment. Abbotsford! Duh! My stepdaughters and their families live there. Lovely park. Sadly, I haven 't had the opportunity to see in several years. Really enjoyed the hub.

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 

      5 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Flo, this is very strange. I figured out where Mill Lake is, in fact I know the lake quite well, just forgot the name. Abbotsford! My twin stepdaughters live there and I've played in the park with my grandchildren. It's just that for reasons of their own, which I do not understand, our daughters do not wish to have contact with us, so we have not been to BC in several years. However, one daughter did send us a photo recently of her and her family at the park, and my husbanded me of the name. Take care and New Years blessings.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Louisa Rogers...I hope you figure it out! If you lived in Vancouver, you were only an hour away :) I still go to the Lake almost every day if the weather isn't too dreary. I find it very calming and beautiful there.

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 

      5 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Flo-- what a beautiful hub, describing the development of Mill Lake mirroring your own. I particularly enjoyed trying to figure out what town you're in. I was guessing somewhere like Duncan or Courtney, but I may be way off. I used to live in Vancouver. Going to check out some of your links to keep guessing!

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      thank you, kathy...blessings on you as well and thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      kathy  

      8 years ago

      ..... thank you for sharing .... may God continue to bless you

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Delores Monet...that is so true. In the winter when it rains a lot here I tend not to spend time at the lake other than to use it as a shortcut to go somewhere. But even then, it is beautiful and peaceful to my soul.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      A lovely story. There is nothing like nature and feeling that appreciation of God's creation to help us find peace.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      prasetio30...glad you enjoyed my favorite place. It is nice to have a place that has so much natural beauty no matter what the season.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Nice hub. I saw beautiful picture. I really enjoy read this hub. Fantastic and good to know your favorite place. Rating up.

      Blessing,

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      prairieprincess...thanks for your comment. It is amazing how God works, isn't it? :) I'm glad you stopped by.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Flobe, I got goosebumps from reading this! Thank you; this was beautiful. I can so relate to this story: the moving across Canada, the love of water and beauty, and the way place can place such a pivotal role in our emotional lives. I love the way the LORD used you to answer that man's prayer. Wonderful story ... thank you ...

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      stephhicks68...thanks! I enjoy photography and Mill Lake is such a beautiful place...as you have in your area too. Hope to see you around again :)

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Gorgeous story and photographs. Really moving!! Two thumbs up and keep up the great work - welcome to HubPages!

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for joining me Minnetonka Twin. I'm looking forward to getting to know you better and, yes, life is full of surprises and if you focus on the good they'll always be good ones!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      This is such an inspiring story of love and hope and dreams. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Life is always full of surprises and potential. I am so happy you found your soulmate. God Bless :)

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Yes, Ingenira, when God touches our life and is allowed to do it His way, it turns out beautiful.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 

      8 years ago

      beautiful and touching story. God is wonderful and He made your life so beautiful.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Aww...thanks, VioletSun :) I'm so glad the story impacted you the way it did...I feel very blessed that things worked out the way they did.

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 

      8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      My eyes are wet, sniff, what a beautiful, beautiful, heart warming story. I was getting chills already when looking at the photos and reading, but then had the surprise that the man that prayed for you, ended up meeting you in E-Harmony and you got married in that beautiful lake; it was touching! Its destiny for sure!

      Rated up and drying a tiny tear. LOL.

    • FloBe profile imageAUTHOR

      Flo Belanger 

      8 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      thanks, Quill, I'm sure we do all have our place and I never realized how closely linked my journey was to the development of Mill Lake...writing the article was revealing to me as well--the story emerges as I write it.

    • profile image

      Nina 

      8 years ago

      Hi Flo...woow...I read it...woow...how beautiful when we trust our God...He knows what the bestest plan for you and your dreams...I am a lover for nature...I have my favorite spot that I took my husband there and everytime I goes visit at that specific Lake and I cried...cause I saw nothing but the beauty of God...I'm enjoying this breeze blowing on me and peace...almost like I feel I'm going melt from sitting that bench...at the time spent together with my husband...wow...we are complete and so close to each other that we both what we were thinking and we started to laugh...cause we know what we were going to say to each other...

      Flo...I pray that you will enjoy your journey and as you growing and knowing it all for the good God has plan it for you and your husband...I pray that you will hear God's heart and that you will be so bless abundantly and that you will one day...Wow! I've learn so much during my journey at Mill Lake...Blessings!

    • profile image

      "Quill" 

      8 years ago

      HI FloBe... love your favorite place and what it has become for you. We all have them but I like the way you have brought this one to life with new life again.

      Blessings and Hugs

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