Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Sandy by Susan L.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people along the eastern coast of the United States following the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy. To those who lost loved ones, may you be comforted. To those who lost their homes, may you find community. To those whose homes were damaged by flood or fire, may you find the strength to rebuild. To all I pray you have found a safe haven where you can rest until life settles into normal once again. Although normal may not be what it once was. May God bless the first responders: the firefighters, paramedics, police, military and volunteers who have offered their hands in any way they could. May all of you and those in the medical profession find the stamina to continue doing the work that you are doing. Lord, I ask, too, that those troubled souls who would do harm by using this catastrophe to loot or steal would be stopped or aprehended. May they find grace within Your arms. "For You have been a strength to the poor, A strength to the needy in his distress, A refuge in the storm." Is 25:4

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

In the Wee Hours by Susan L.

It's one forty-five in the morning and rather unusual that for some reason I can't get to sleep. The hampsters in my head are going a gazillion miles an hour...the fierce wind. Will my huge tree out front stay standing? The power going out...my basement will flood in no time once the sump stops. What if the sump pump blows? Did I take my meds? I think I did. ...most of this is beyond my control and in the grand scheme hardly catastrophic. When I was starting to get really sick I would wake up in the middle of the night and journal for a couple of hours with a cup of tea at hand. Earl Gray that I keep for special occaisions like needing to unwind. Served with toast and peanut butter this combo is one of my best sleep encouragers. There's a huge part of my brain doing my 'second guessing' number. Have I said the right thing? Did I screw up some how? Probably. I am human after all. Okay. Most of this wakefulness is because of fallout. Never in a million years would I change what happened this weekend but it has triggered an avalanche of my own memories. They are so vivid I can smell the air and hear the echoes. I remember exactly how I felt: lost, terribly sad and heartbroken. How confused and panicky and desperate. Oh, so desperate. And so very, very tired. There is a slight pause as I watch the scenery in my mind's eye. This is a good thing. These memories, while vivid, no longer have the power to consume me like they used to. Thank You, my Lord, for these are just the ghosts of Novembers past and have helped to make me the woman I am becoming through Your loving care. Good night, all. "But the night shines as day. The darkness and the light are both alike to You." Ps 139:12

Monday, 29 October 2012

Circles by Susan L.

I missed yesterday's blog due to an urgent matter that utilized all my peer support understandings. It even delved into unfamiliar waters where I have had no training yet until next month. It had a good ending though and that is all that matters. There is something wonderful and humbling about being in a position to "pay it forward". It is so awesome to be able to do what someone did for me when I was at my worst. It truly makes me appreciate all the rough times because they are now a treasury of experience to draw from. We can never pay people back for the things they do for us. All we can do is offer our gratitude to God that such wonderful people who touch our lives in the good times and not so good times. We would be lost without them. "This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you." Jn 15:12

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Upon a Star by Susan L.

It was wonderful to see my three year old grandson last night in Newmarket. My eight month old granddaughter took one look at me and screamed. Note to self: see them more! They had come up from Sarnia last night to help my daughter move today. Amidst boxes and over slices of pizza we had a good visit and it was nice to have a few moments of quality time with my children and grandchildren. My son and his family moved back to Ontario in the spring from New Zealand having spent a number of years teaching there. Jai, my grandson, left his best friend behind and misses him terribly. What happened at bed time drove home how astute children are. He began to cry. An unusual occurance. My son talked with him for a while to find out the reason for his tears. Jai was terrified that after his Aunt She-she moved he would never see her again because in his brief experience, that was what moving meant: goodbye forever. After some gentle reassurance he settled down to sleep although I am sure there were some worries about what the next day would bring. My heart went out to the little guy. How I wish we had the ability to protect our children from the hurts of the world, big and small. How I sometimes wish for a magic wand to make it all better. How I wish we really could keep our children safe from harm. I wish...and I pray. "That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love." Col 2:2

Friday, 26 October 2012

From the Paint Pot by Susan L.

I am still pondering the image that came out in art therapy last night. It was a small piece on ragged edged watercolour paper. An impressionistic field and trees in the height of summer covered most of it. I know this part isn't original but I painted a window hanging in mid air that cast a shadow on the meadow. The view through the window was the same landscape dressed in winter. The trees were bare and the snow lay white and thick on the ground. It is in essence a gratitude picture because I am so thankful that the art itself has given me the ability to look through the window of my soul. Many a dark and grieving image has enabled me to express my hurts when words failed. The page or canvas contained them for me and made them a little bit smaller. Even when my mind left the building. I still have images from then but don't recall having done them at all. Art was my first, tentative conversations with God because in the beginning I believed I had no voice. There is an unfinished quality to this little piece. Part of that is because my humble thankfulness knows no end. The other part is the universal acknowledgement that every single one of us is a work in progress under the Master's brush. "Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve Him." Dan 7:14

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Seeds of an Idea by Susan L.

As an experiment last summer I decided to grow a grapefruit seed. Several actually. Using one of those multi- purpose, handy-dandy containers from Chinese take-out I placed some potting soil in the bottom. I soaked it well, stuck in a handful of seeds and covered it with plastic wrap. A mini greenhouse for my window sill. About ten days later they began to sprout, peeking above the soil. I chose the healthiest two and transplanted them into bigger pots. One is doing well. The other suffered from a lack of water and lost most of its leaves. Oops. They are about two feet tall now. That worked so the next seed to try was lemon. They are actually a bush and easier to make a Bonsai miniature tree from. Like the grapefruit I have one that is healthy and one that is barely alive. I think I over fertilized the poor thing. There's a metaphor in there somewhere! "Teach me, and I will hold my tongue; Cause me to understand when I have erred." Job 6:24

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Been There by Susan L.

This is a difficult subject fraught with opinions, judgements and condemnation. I know because that is how I used to view people who harmed themselves or drastically attempted suicide. Both self harming and suicidal ideologies have come and gone during my life, rising and falling with the currents of the Black River. Once upon a time they were secret thoughts I never dared to share with anyone in case they thought like me: I was a nutcase, weak, and selfish. In my ignorance I didn't realize that these ideas are a symptom of clinical depression. I know better now. Even the medications used to treat depression can fuel these symptoms. That knowledge comes first hand as well. It has taken several med changes to find one that didn't haunt every waking moment with dark desires. God brought me through although it was touch and go a couple of times. Self harm isn't the domain of the "mentally ill". When we don't eat properly, or deny ourselves sleep. When we don't exercise or relax, or even allow the time to gather with friends and family. I think the biggest one is when we fail to ask for help, something I still struggle with at times. Perhaps the next time someone we know shares their thoughts of self harm we can honestly reply, "You are not alone." "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another." 1 Pet 3:8

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

For Goodness' Sakes by Susan L.

It has been a long, slow road to discovering self esteem. That sense of worth which is rooted in the simple fact we all are the beloved children of our heavenly Father. When I realized belittling my creativity or down playing the finished result was a slap in the Lord's face it helped me to see with fresh and honest eyes some fundamental truth. I have worked hard to do what I do. Like self esteem all our abilities need nurturing. It takes risk, too, to try new things and sometimes land flat on our faces. It is hard to silence the inner critic and for me very hard to share what I have created either in writing or art. This is because there is a piece of me in everything created. Shame or disregard is not humility. Our creativity is as much a part of us as breathing or blinking. I celebrate talent, giftings if you prefer, because each one of us was designed to be a little creator under the tutelage of the best possible Scribe, Muse, and Inspiration. "The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and a good report makes the bones healthy." Prov 15:30

Monday, 22 October 2012

Eye of the Beholder by Susan L.

Yesterday was cause for celebration, thanks to all of you. My blog reached the 1000+ hit mark. Words aren't enough to tell you how much this means to me. It has been an uphill battle to get me to confess and share my creative abilities. Sins are so much easier. Why is that I wonder? Yah, I knew the answer even before I typed the question. Boy, can we be hard on ourselves. It is so easy to find flaws and faults that consistently undermine the value of our gifts. Leaving typos on my blog has challenged me tremendously as an obsessive proof reader. I just had to accept the truth that editing on a small touch screen can be too difficult some times. Especially when the key pad pops up and hides where the cursor is. "Cursor", what an appropriate name. Many a time has a frustrated word crossed my lips during these futile attempts to produce perfection. Then I start laughing at myself. Old habits die hard. "It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect." Ps 18:32

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Timeless Roads by Susan L.

Seven years ago when I finally walked away from my marital home I was living in a basement room with no windows, no phone, no TV. I spent many hours in my van driving aimlessly along the back roads in and around Orangeville. Often I would park at the side of the road simply to admire the view. I would use this time to pray or journal undisturbed by the noises of town living. Often there would be tears. It was not an easy time. A good friend said that the Lord had set me aside for special treatment. It helped take the sting of loss away. The reason I am writing about this is I remember one particularly tearful park. The road in front was hilly and wound around the November countryside. It vanished from sight behind a couple of hills or clumps of trees only to reappear in the misty distance. I was feeling rather terrified because I had no idea what lay ahead or where my life would take me. That broken road assured me that even though the road ahead was not in full view, the Lord would keep me from straying from the way He had planned. It gives me comfort now, this rememberance. I mentioned recently how troubled I am by the blocks of time that were lost when I was really sick. Today I can let them go. They were just the roads behind the trees. The road was still there. That's all that matters Thank You, Jesus. "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forever more." Ps 16:11

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Final Point by Susan L.

What a beautiful morning! It's amazing the difference a relatively decent night's sleep can make. On Thursday I went to Zellers to see if they had the special mattress covers that seal critters in or out. There were cheap vinyl ones but I felt a squeaky bed is not particularly conducive to good sleep. That and I thought they might be a tad hot in the summer. The woven breathable ones only had measurements on them. They weren't labled according to mattress size. I have no idea how big a double bed is! My brain began to do its panicky thing. The what ifs tore through my thoughts. I decided to root around a bit and found at the back of a shelf a queen sized cover in the material I was looking for and wonder of wonders it had a yellow clearance price sticker on it! There were signs posted everywhere about additional reductions to these yellow tagged items. Throwing caution to the wind I decided bigger is going to work for me. As the cashier rang up my purchase no additional savings showed up. I was rather disappointed and mentioned to the young woman about the signs. She did some investigating and a couple of phone calls later led to good news. There was an additional sixty percent off! Woo-hoo! God knew what I needed for some peace of mind. Once again He made it possible for me to afford a rather expensive item. And that is the last thing I'll say about this matter. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of Lights." James 1:17

Friday, 19 October 2012

Oh, no! by Susan L.

I was supposed to visit my son this weekend. It's my grandson's third birthday on Saturday but I am not sure if I inherited any unwanted guests from the trip last week. I am staying home, just in case. This weekend means a major house clean and I picked up some bug killer because these bites are terribly nasty. I have so many that it's hard to tell if there are new ones added. Here's hoping there's not. And, yes, I am rather ticked off at the retreat management for not being more vigilant. 200+ bites are not gotten from a brief infestation. So this is a short one. Folks, would you pray for me that when I am done cleaning there will be no survivors? "And he shall cause the house to be scraped inside, all around, and the dust that they scrape off shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city." Lev 14:41

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Mirror Images by Susan L.

There's more to reflections than just remembering or peering into a mirror looking for yet another gray hair. Robert Burns penned the saying, "If only we could see ourselves as others see us." He had written this as a derogatory comment having seen a woman all beautified, powdered and wigged according to the latest fashion of the times. There were lice crawling around her neck. Also common at the time. I wonder what she saw in her looking glass? I believe we DO see ourselves as others see us, mostly to our own detriment. It isn't as obvious as vocal put-downs but the information is absorbed unconsciously. It's a broken mirror and a broken reflection. It's the unconscious part that nibbles away at our souls because these ideas can become so pervasive in how we treat both others and ourselves. It's like the trees along the bank of a smooth river whose image in the water is broken and twisted by the breeze. They look like trees but something isn't quite right. We are a mirror, too. I am guilty of projecting on to others my now old ideas of gender role and differentiating between men and women. I am guilty of unknowingly teaching the code of silence because some things aren't supposed to be talked about or questioned. I am guilty of passing on a whole manner of hard and often cruel ideas. Many of those are handed down generation after generation. These ideas are not of God and He has forgiven me for my ignorance and continues to lead me along the waters of enlightenment. It pays to pause and reflect. To examine our hearts and listen for God's truth. "For the Lord has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted." Is 49:13

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bountiful Harvest by Susan L.

This time of year is when I like to pause and reflect. Part of this is driven by the awareness that the next several weeks are filled with the difficult anniversaries of some of the most traumatic events in my life: the sudden dissolution of my twenty year marriage, coming a hair's breadth away from taking my own life as a result, and two years later my first trip to a mental hospital. The second was twelve months later. There's more so let's just say the Black River swept me along for a long time. This year is different. Better different. However, a conversation I had with a friend helped me realize just how much has been done, how many challenges have been overcome and faced down. Like him I sometimes feel that it shouldn't have taken eight years to get to this place. But that's not the right way to look at it. In past Novembers I've tried to write a timeline of events but end up having to face the truth of missing blocks of time when my sanity left the building. It's so hard to reconcile myself to that reality although one day those times will be restored. I just need to be patient. My walk with the Lord began November 9, 2004. My re-birthday. The Lord grabbed me from the brink of suicide and threw me His Life Preserver so I didn't drown. Sometimes He nlessed me with a Life Boat as well as the currents of the Black River grew dangerous. It wasn't a lack of faith that kept me there. It was faith that by being there God could lead me into wellness and wholeness and life. Today I looked at the River and saw ghostly reflections of the past. These events no longer define who I am yet there is still a very human grief entwined within the truths God has shown me. Maybe I will always grieve the hurts but at the same time in my Heart of hearts this truly is a season of harvest, feasting and celebration. No one or nothing can ever take that away. Thank you Lord for this scripture of patience: "To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under Heaven." Ecc 3:1

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Unseen Courage by Susan L.

I sing a song to the unsung hero,/ The weeping man, the quiet woman,/ Who dares to bear their soul,/ Their concerns, their trials and lives,/ Overcoming the chains that bind./ I sing a song to the unsung spirit,/ Unquenchable, determined, indomitable,/ That dares to raise its voice, In outrage, in laughter, in woe,/ Overcoming the oppression that binds./ I sing a song to the unsung worth,/ The loving hand, the hug, the ear,/ That dares to reach out,/ In friendship, in acceptance, in selflessness,/ Overcoming the fears that bind./ I sing a song to the unsung explorer, Man, woman, youth, child,/ Who dares to question "truth",/ In righteousness, in hope, in faith,/ Overcoming the lies that bind./ I sing a song to unsung humanity,/ Its sagas, its possibilities, its beauty,/ That dares to rise above,/ Limits, expectations, restrictions,/ Overcoming the foe that binds./ "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of council and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear (awe) of the Lord." Is 11:1

Monday, 15 October 2012

Bite Marks by Susan L.

So my skin is crawling and twitchy. I learned today that bed bug bites can sometimes not show up for several days. That's a "whew!" and an "eww!". The one hand that always rests under my pillow is covered with itchy, blistery bites. There's some on my feet and my other hand as well that showed up late last night. I had been concerned that some of these unwanted guests had made it past the dryer and I was afraid my house would need to be fumigated. Thank You, Lord for the internet. It was a relief to know the bites are from last week's trip. I am sure the neighbours wondered what I was up to; mostly stripping in the driveway and bagging the stuff I had taken. Trust me, absolutely every precaution necessary to avoid an invasion was taken. It's a wonder my skin didn't peel off, the shower was so hot! I even melted my crocs in the dryer. At least they don't carry diseases like their bloodthirsty cousins, the mosquito and tick. It's just the psychological creep factor I'm finding hard to shake. It has nothing to do with cleanliness or dirt and I know they are becoming an expensive problem in the city. It just brings a whole new meaning to bed and breakfast! "Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth."" Gen 1:24

Sunday, 14 October 2012

S.A.D. by Susan L.

These past few gray days have affected me with an underlying melancholy sadness. It took all my energy yesterday to finally bring in my fish and chop down the frost wilted Morning Glories from their trellises. There's still more to do in the garden but most of it hasn't been killed by the cold yet. I crawled exhausted into bed with a book shortly after eight o'clock last night and slept until ten thirty this morning. Looking around the house there is so much to do but my heart isn't in to doing anything. This time of year is harder for me than the dead of winter even though we had a long and amazing summer. The shortened days, the upcoming anniversaries of traumatic events have me dreading the next little while yet, at the same time a silver thread of hopeful expectancy lay within the sorrow. I know these things are in the past but as the fall draws to a close it becomes a season of growth and yes, harvest. The Lord uses these memories to continue healing my soul of its hurts. That, unfortunately, can be messy but by the time the snow lay thick and silent on the ground each year I end up being forever changed. Live me, love me, grow me, show me, my Lord, I am Yours. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my anxieties: And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." Ps 139:24

Saturday, 13 October 2012

More Sticks and Stones by Susan L.

It grieved my heart when a friend of mine told me about a woman who had commented about the Krasman Centre in Alliston,"It's that place where troubled people go." I have heard worse, "crazy" or "Oh, THAT place" was uttered with a derogatory snigger. Worse was the fear and desperate scramble to get away from me. Apparently because I go to the Centre I am either contagious or violent. We can thank imaginary shows like CSI, Law and Order or Criminal Minds for that particular wisdom. Ignorance is a powerful tool of the devil. I can't begin to tell you of the monumental courage it takes to walk in the front door for the first time. That initial step speaks volumes and in my case four years ago was my way of saying,"I can't do this alone. I am afraid to be alone. I am lost and confused and need some help." My welcome was warm. It didn't matter that at that time I could barely string together a cohesive sentence because my mind was so befuddled. It didn't matter that I'd been recently diagnosed with Depression AND Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A complete shock to me. It didn't matter that I had just been discharged from a mental health facility. Yet another horribly traumatic event to have gone through. What did matter was the fact that I was a living, breathing human being of unknown worth. Within the walls of the Centre I have been blessed a thousand fold by the incredible generosity and kindness of all who go there. Those who have nothing give of themselves. One last thing for today, names and labels do hurt. I've had to repent of the names I called myself following my first hospitalization. Names such as weak, useless, freak, failure. I ask myself the question, where did those ideas come from? "But all things that are exposed are made manifest (to be wrestled) by the light; for whatever makes manifest (the wrestler) is light." Eph 5:13

Friday, 12 October 2012

Living Water by Susan L.

It's time to bring in the goldfish from my pond outside. There's four of them ranging in size fom about four to seven inches. The pond isn't deep enough for them to remain outside all year and I enjoy having them to watch throughout the winter. As far as wellness tools go,the pond was one of the best investments I ever made. It's not very big, only four by six feet and two and a half feet deep. A small waterfall cascades out of a shallow bowl at one end. It creates a delightful sound that helps drown out the noise of passing cars. When I built it, it never dawned on me that it would draw so many visitors of the feathered kind: chickadees, jays, juncos, nuthatches all take turns drinking and bathing in the tiny stream that flows over the rocks. They are delightfully amusing to watch especially when they start squabbling with each other. Amphibian visitors have also made it their home for a while. I have no idea how they find it or even why they leave the river that passes near my house. Perhaps they are drawn by the variety of insects that deposit their eggs into the pond. At night the frogs join their voices with the crickets chorus with comical "ga-lunks". Music to sleep by. The yard is silent now. Frogs and crickets gone since the cool nights have moved in. But that's okay. I will be able to watch my fish and pretend the sounds of summer are all around. "But the water that I (Jesus) shall give him will become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Pianissimo by Susan L.

There is a part of me that would love to own a piano. I have had so much enjoyment playing the one at the retreat. Despite its rather worn and finicky keys, it has a sweet and mellow sound that is only achieved through age. One particular key doesn't work at all unless you hit it hard. Thankfully it isn't one that needs to be played often. Hmmm, kind of reminds me of me... Playing for me is a worshipful experience. The lovely, innocent love songs of years gone by become hymns as I sing the lyrics in my head. I will throw in the occasional hymn as well. The classics of my childhood. It brings me great peace. I was nervous to start, shaky and sweaty and my fingers were rusty but in the end it turned out okay. Once I gave myself permission to forget about the listeners and to not stress about hitting the wrong note, it got even better. There is no way a piano would fit in my tiny house. I think,too, that if playing became an every day event, some of the magic would fade away. That is something I don't want to lose. Besides, I have friends who own one and I've gone and played for them when I needed to get away and place myself humbly at the feet of the Lord. "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise with Psalms." Ps 95:2

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Poking Fun by Susan L.

I'm still trying to get my head around the "elder"comment yesterday. The signs are all there. Ice blond hair at my temples and scattered throughout the rest of my head. Waking up with aches and pains if I slept too long in one position or did too much the day before. "Too much" is a lot less. Small print, at least I think there is small print...For some reason I remember being able to hear the high-pitched noise of bats. Not the ones in my belfry, actual bats. At least when I forget things I heard it is a sign of intelligence; the mind is full of great ideas and thoughts. Probably the same person who came up with the label "laugh lines" thought that treasure up as well. We won't mention the sags or my own increasingly laugh lined face. I didn't know necks could laugh! I got called, "Ma'am" at the local drug store last Tuesday. Mind you, after she looked at me I heard her mutter,"Nope, she's too young." Whew! "As in water, face reflects face, so a man's heart reveals the man." Prov 27:19

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Look Out World by Susan L.

Amidst the chaos of twenty or so people settling in to the Scott Mission Camp courtesy of the Krasman Centre I'm hoing to write my blog. It is a beautiful place in the Caledon Hills perched on the Niagara Escarpment and we have three says to commune with nature. It's a nice change from street lights and concrete. The colours are stunning although the north west wind has a bit of an edge to it. So I offered to give up my bottom bunk because the woman I am sharing a room wiyh fell off last year. I don't blame her reluctance. However, she said she feels bad seeing as "I am her elder." When did THAT happen! Wait til I tell my kids! Hold on a second. Is there a catch? "Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honour." 1 Tim 5:17

Monday, 8 October 2012

Gratitude by Susan L.

"G"...is for grieving things taken away, A parent, a friend, a home, And the heart's way of saying thank you for knowing them. "R"...is for remembering the good times and bad, Christmas, birthdays, last Tuesday, And the mind's way of saying thank you for the gift of clarity. "A"...is for adapting to the tides of change, A move in or out, or far away, And the soul's way of saying thank you for the gift of growth. "T"...is for temperment like angry or glad, For the rainbow of feelings in a healed wrong, And the spirit's way of saying thank you for the gift of expression. "I"...is for interest when shown new things, A recipe, a skill, a coping tool, And the mind's way of saying thank you for the gift of learning. "T"...is for talking in laughter and tears, Bullies, mistakes, achievements, And the voice's way of saying thank you for the gift of storied. "U"...is for unrest when confused or lost, Decisions, plans, or dreams, And the soul's way of saying thank you for the gift of an open door. "D"...is for depression when days are bleak, Doctors, hospital, meds, And the heart's way of saying thank you for the gift of helping hands. "E"...is for everything that has taken place, Loves, losses, the every day, And a life's way of saying thank you for What was, What is, And what is to come. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. "And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; It shall rejoice in His salvation." Ps 35:9

Sunday, 7 October 2012

This Little Light by Susan L.

My friend gave me a little card with St. Francis of Assisi's Peace Prayer on it. The first line is, "Lord,let me be an instrument of Your peace." It is a prayer that resonates deeply with my heart's desire. It exemplifies what I hope to be as a peer supporter or rather, a minister of God. What astounds me is how universal the training I've had so far truly is because everything can be utilized in all facets of my life. It's all about relationship and relating to others. The opportunities to bear God's peace are infinite: a kind word to the person standing behind you in the slowest line in the store. Not tossing your Tim's cup out the window or sharing a skill like how to make home made soup are others. It could be giving someone a great, big, unconditional hug. There is no cost factor in being a peace bearer except that perhaps we need to shed our ability to make assumptions about others. When we assume, we judge based on our own experiences, faith, prejudices, ethics, education and history. Not that I'm saying we need to be perfect, just be aware of our own brokenness and how that can colour our thoughts and actions. Thank God we have the ability to learn but more importantly God has the infinite capacity to forgive us and grow us in all facets of life on this blessed Earth. "But to each of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." Eph 4:7

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Safe Travels by Susan L.

There is much to give thanks for this weekend. An early Christmas gift saw a friend and I at the Stratford Festival watching Much Ado About Nothing this afternoon. Yet another first for me this year. The play was amazing seeing as it was written nearly 500 years ago the humour was timeless and simple and delightfully risque. The performers were superb and the audience responsive chuckling at the well timed lines. The two hour drive was picturesque with trees of gold, bronze, red and fiery orange blessing the chocolate brown and gilded fields. The sky was steel gray and glowery but when the sun peeped out it set the world ablaze. We only made one wrong turn and even that was a pleasure because we were hunting for the best restaurant/bakery between here and there. The apple crumble pie I had for desert left me licking my lips. Thank You Lord that we are home safe. "He will yet fill your mouth with laughing and your lips with rejoicing. " Job 8:21

Friday, 5 October 2012

Second Chances by Susan L.

This is my second attempt at today's blog. For some reason the site wouldn't work when I went to type it up. In re-reading what was written I realized I'd set myself up on a huge soap box and the writing was condescending and preachy. Thank heavens for fickle technology. So many times in my discovery journey the Lord has closed doors. More often than not it left me feeling frustrated to begin with but later, often much later, it all made sense because inevitably a window would open. I'm so thankful He looks out for us. Every day. Every moment. He has our best interests at heart. Sometimes the path He lays for us isn't easy but there is much to learn in time spent in the valley. A valley is where the richest, most fertile soil collects. It is sheltered from the winds that may blow us off course. There's something wonderful too about being securely enclosed by mountains or hills. The picturesque image of a lazy river winding its way between the peaks gets me thinking about the pleasures of fishing or splashing my toes in its cool, glistening waters. There's lots to be said about the valley experience. "Yea though I walk thaough the vslley." Ps 23

Thursday, 4 October 2012

No Excuses, Please by Susan L.

Folks, this is going to be brief. The brain is a little foggy today. Probably because of the unsettled weather or the body is beginning to feel the effects of a medication increase. Or maybe because I drove to the city last night... Hmmmm, here I go again justifying myself in order to find permission not to do something. Old habits die hard. Tonight needs to be a self care night and I'm going to curl up with a good book. "For he who has entered His (God's) rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His." Heb 4:10

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Walk Softly by Susan L.

There is a damp and sandy shore where waves have left their mark,/ Holding bare toed footprints for a breathless moment/ Before rushing, washing back on land, erasing them from sight./ The beach was walked from there to here/ But no sign showed the naked eye/ Of others who had passed this way for ages and an age./ It doesn't mean they had never been/ Their presence has been felt by God in a shell removed,/ A stick, a stone, or another simple treasure./ Or even something left behind: a shoe, a shovel, a broken twig./ Farther in among the places dry and thick with shifting sand/ One print wipes out another before the ocean breeze/ Erasing them both with sliding, shifting, miniscule grains./ It's the intangible path, the hidden way, the secret/ Long denied that leaves its traces permanently/ On the beaches of our soul. "But be gentle to all." 2Ti 2:24

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

The Butterfly Effect by Susan L.

Today was my last official meeting with my Canadian Mental Health Assc. case worker. It is with mixed feelings that this change has been made. It is a huge milestone and an acknowledgement that in reality things are going really well. Nevertheless, goodbyes are never easy. For me this ending is a bit scary, too. The CMHA has been a tremendous support over the last four or so years. They will meet you at home or the local coffee shop. Wherever you are comfortable. They are an excellent resource. It is only with her help that I was able to work through the difficult and overwhelming stacks of paperwork involved in applying for disability. She broke it down into manageable pieces and assisted with phone calls when an appeal was necessary. The greatest thing is her constant encouragement to be more and do more than I thought I could without condemning me when I couldn't. Seeing as this is an end to one chapter in my life, I guess I am ready to spread my wings after all. "For Thou art with me." Ps 23

Monday, 1 October 2012

Birds of a Feather by Susan L.

In Art Therapy last Thursday I wanted to draw the monster that anxiety feels like. History has shown when things are put on paper, either art or writing, they are just a bit more manageable. It's like putting a face to a name and for me, the opportunity to open my heart in prayer and seek the Lord's take on what's going on. After several frustrated starts what ended up coming out was a black and white image of starlings gathering along telephone wires. A far cry from the fanged ghoul I tried to draw. As the image took shape under my brush I didn't understand what it was all about. God is so patient with us. Anxiety is like the starlings gathering together. Some rest on the wires, others swoop and swarm in black masses. They are in a constant state of flux. Even a single bird's wings speak to the flutter in my chest when it's really bad. I made the decision that night to increase my anti-anxiety meds having discussed this option with my doctor. The problem is all psychiatric medications take 3-8 weeks before the full effect can be felt. The reverse is true when cutting back as well. It's hard having to go back up when I hoped I was well enough to handle things. The starlings are also swirls of dissappointment too. And there's the lesson. Even I feel different about meds taken for mental health. We have a long way to go to eradicate this pile of nonsense. "Let,I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant. " Ps 119:76