Monday, 31 December 2012

The Weight of the Matter by Susan L.

So I've done it. Made the leap. Took a chance and bought a set of bathroom scales. Three dollars at the Dollar Store squashed the financial reasonings for not owning one. My psychiatrist had encouraged me to do this over six months ago. Something about self care. I avoided it like the plague because now I have to face the reasons why I struggle with diet and preparing healthy meals for myself. That, too, is self care. My body's a temple...or should I say cathedral! Ha ha! Can I eliminate sugar from my diet? That sounds like a good place to start. Help me, Lord, overcome the cravings that were initially medication driven but are now mostly habit. Hmmm. You are wonderful,my Lord and can do marvellous things. Let my life be a testimony to Your Grace. Guide me, Lord, in discovering the self fullfilling prophesies I have spoken over myself like the constant toxic affirmations that I crave sugar! Set me free, Lord, as I ask Your forgiveness for saying such things and I ask that You replace these ideas with Your Word. In Jesus' name, amen. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Mat 4:4

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Meandering Streams by Susan L.

It fascinates me how time and memory have the ability to compress. When a recollection comes to the forefront of our thoughts, the days, weeks or even years vanish in an instant. Four Christmases ago I was in the assessment ward of a psychiatric hospital. It sometimes feels like yesterday. I have no idea where the years have gone... That's not a hundred percent true. The days since were spent putting one foot in front of the other without hope but with purpose. That purpose was sheer survival and all about finding an identity that lay shattered and broken in all the garbage. I am probably repeating myself here but I believe that trauma causes us to encapsulate pieces of our identity. This is a form of protection from the pain of these events. I want to be clear, trauma is very subjective. There is no sliding scale, or rating or comparison. What affects one may have no impact on someone else. It doesn't matter. If it causes pain, it is important and I know Someone wants to hear about it. It is surprising how much is contained in what seems a silly little event according to worldly standards. Not the flashback consuming events but in simply remembering. As a little girl, I would sing myself to sleep.'Silent Night' a year long favorite. Even then I was seeking something outside of myself: knowing I belonged. "For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears,and my feet from falling. I will walk with the Lord in the land of the living." Ps 116:8

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Shopping, Two by Susan L.

It was a whirlwind shop yesterday. I used to hate shopping for clothes. It helped that the money was there, courtesy of the ODSP work start up funds, and the post-Christmas sales were awesome. The money went a long way. I think the pleasure yesterday was rooted in something much deeper than mere finances. It's another part of my foundation of truth clicking into place. As much as I love large flannel shirts and hoodies, it felt good to dress in a way that mirrored my growing self confidence with new clothes of my own choosing. Not that I am ungrateful for hand-me-downs or for the second hand stores which have mostly clothed me these last many years. Far from it. A garbage bag full of clothes felt like Christmas. It's just that the mirror used to reflect the shame of being fat and ugly and worthless. I confess the weight thing is on going. The meds don't help, that's for sure. In looking back, I was never truly fat. Built like a tank maybe when wrestling animals, hay and fifty kilo feed bags was the norm. Fat? No. Now I will classify myself as Rubenesque like the women painted by Peter Paul Rubens back in the early 1600's. Beautiful is definitely in the eye of the Beholder. "For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation." Ps 149:4

Friday, 28 December 2012

Shopping! by Susan L.

I've got a butterfly mind this morning. Topic after topic is flitting through my head coupled with delightful thoughts of how I am going to spend my Christmas bounty: grocery gift cards (my pantry is rather bare), hardware store cards, and money for much needed new clothes for work. I was truly blessed this year. It's the hardware store cards which have me really excited. Do I buy practical things like a new sink for the bathroom? I have the flooring. Can I afford a new toilet as well? The tub is okay...hmmm, I'd need baseboards and new taps...Should I buy the table mounted belt/disc sander that has me drooling and would make the pleasure of toy making that much easier? Should I invest in wood carving tools? At some point in my life I would like to build a carosel horse but there are many skills to master in order to achieve that dream and, I believe, a few more tools like a band saw and planer. Isn't that a snapshot of life in general? We need special tools and skills in everything we do. Lord, I surrender this bounty to Your guidance. You know what I need or what needs may arise in the future. Help me spend wisely. In Jesus' name "And God is able to make all grace toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." 2 Cor 9:8, Amen.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Three R's by Susan L.

It snowed quite heavily last night and because my little house is sheltered by the surrounding trees, the snow lay thick on the driveway. There's probably a good fifteen to twenty centimeters waiting to be shovelled. It's our first real snowfall of the year and I 'm glad it happened after all the holiday running around was done. It's nice, having the old year tucked away a few days before 2013 starts. The ground is clean and white. Underneath the snow seeds, bulbs, and green things wait for their season to begin again. To hold a hope for the future; to believe in the possibilities of tomorrow! What a gift! For myself, an even greater gift is being free of fear and worry about the coming year. (For the most part anyways. I am only human after all.) Thank You, Lord, for the three R's that roll off the tongue like music to the soul: Redemption. Release. Restoration. Profound promises with profound meaning. "And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples." Jn 20:30

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Dear Father by Susan L.

The Christmas eve church service and the singing of "Silent Night" brought me to tears. It seems, Father, that I cry easier these days. This is a good thing. These were tears of relief and thankfullness. "Thank You!" feels so inadequate although You say in Your word that we are to give thanks...these simple words fail to capture the brightness and up-welling light that floods my heart and soul. I humbly give thanks then according to Your instructions( Lord You know my heart,) for the birth of Your Son, Jesus, who has been my own Star in the east and has guided me safely through the darkest nights and days. Words are not enough. Amen. "I am the Light of the world." Jn 9:5

Monday, 24 December 2012

Tidings of Comfort and Joy by Susan L.

Don't you hate when you wake up with a start, your mind a torrent of random thoughts? Life is pretty busy over the next three days. Mental lists of what I need to do, to take, and where I need to be are rattling my cage a little. Busy and me don't mesh easily. Once the coffee was poured I decided to take this time to ground myself in the Lord. In amongst the rest of the thought parade the Christmas carol "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" began to play. I heard this carol at a concert last year. My heart heard the familiar words and I began to grasp what the simple words "God rest" truly meant. Rest in God. God will bless us with rest. Take time from our labours. Ease off the frantic socializing. Place our sad, wounded or grieving hearts in His hands. Forgive, or make the choice of wanting to if that's all we can do right now. Rest assured God can and will do the rest. "Selah". The big one. Pause. Reflect. Meditate. Contemplate. Inhale. Wait. Surrender.Exhale. As the carol sings, "For Christ was born of Mary upon this Christmas day." "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." Lk 2:10

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Ahh, Relaxation! by Susan L.

With a mad flurry of flour my nod at Christmas baking is done. Mincemeat tarts with my own green tomato mincemeat. A tiny apple pie with a smattering of white chocolate chips and tons of cinnamon is cooling on the rack as well. It sure makes the house smell like Christmas. The rest of the night is my own. I need this time to gather my thoughts, to take the time and focus on the real reason for Christmas. There needs to be some time to unwind after being away for a couple of days, too. I was visiting my elderly uncle. His birthday was yesterday and I like to take him some of my preserves. They remind him of his childhood and I enjoy listening to the memories the mason jars bring to mind. I think he may have been a bit of a rascal. When I am there, or anywhere for a couple of days I get slightly homesick though. I find the city too noisy, busy and bright. Country living spoils you and I treasure the silence that is here. I may or may not blog over the next couple of days so I offer everyone, city mice and country mice alike a most blessed and wonderful Christmas. "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men." Lk 2:14

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Sorrows by Susan L.

So I gather that the world didn't end last night. There might be some out there who are disappointed. I feel a real burden to reach out to those who may be contemplating the act of suicide. This is a hard time of year for many but I can tell you you're not alone. I get that this is hard to believe. Boy, do I get it. There really are people out there who care. They mind the Warm Lines, the Crisis Lines, even the Dial a Prayer if you think that it might help. You don't even have to tell them your name if you don't want to. There may be a family member or friend or someone you barely know who would be blessed by your talking to them. Yes, I said blessed. You would be surprised by who has worn your shoes. Our circumstances may not be the same but I've wanted to give up many times over the last eight years. I can tell you, it will get better. The road may be bumpy and rough. I cannot promise that it will be easy but then good things, worthwhile things never are. Thinking about suicide is an opportunity to make a choice or take a chance in trusting the stranger at the other end of the phone or by being vulnerable in sharing with a friend what is troubling you. "Together we stand, divided we fall." Churchill, I think.. or as the Bible says, "My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding." Col 2:2

Friday, 21 December 2012

Secret Santa Revealed by Susan L.

On Wednesday at the staff meeting we all took part in a small Secret Santa gift exchange. Thankfully I knew the person well whose name I'd drawn earlier. The staff member who had drawn my name was at a distinct disadvantage, me being so new, but I tell you, her gift was one of unimaginable worth. She has met me on various occaisions because she is the coordinator of the PREFER (www.cultureofrecovery.com) and either faciltates or is present for most of the trainings I have attended so far. She gave me the gift of words: a beautifully written letter sharing her impressions of who I am. She also framed a word collage made with key words from her letter. It was lovely, thought provoking, and very, very sweet. As I read the letter out loud in front of the staff, her kind words struck home. Right to the very fabric of my being. I ended up having a good cry Wednesday night. Tears of the deepest gratitude this little human could offer to God were blended with a tinge of sorrow. Mostly they were tears of relief and unbound hope because E's letter showed me once and for all the worst is over. I am reluctant to say I 've arrived but we're getting there one day at a time. It just dawned on me Who really was the Secret Santa". Thank you my Lord. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Rev 2:29

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Incentives by Susan L.

I haven't been shy about the fact that I am on disability. Now I am starting part-time work and I called my Disability Support Worker to get the ins and outs of what that means. They will deduct half my earnings from my government cheque and pay me a hundred dollar working bonus. That's a tough pill to swallow but nevertheless the way it works. I am and will still be living below the poverty level although the extra earnings will help out a lot. For the time being my meds, a huge expense and totally necessary to my wellness, are covered. Years ago I was a finger pointer at people on social assistance. It wasn't a pretty finger. In coming to understand the returning to work policies, well, it isn't much of a carrot is it? But then again, living with limited funds has greatly simplified my life and I know that in truth I am very, very rich in friends, family, and in that simplicity. God has provided for me time after time. I will continue to trust in His generosity. "I will lift my eyes to the hills--From where comes my help? My help comes from the Lord." Ps 121:1

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Short of It by Susan L.

It's been a very emotional day. Hit the ground running in a panic because I thought I was going to be late for a ride to my very first official staff meeting at the Krasman Centre in Richmond Hill. In actual fact I was right on time and a bit more relaxed because once I shook off snooze button brain and thought a bit. The laugh at my own expense was a good way to start the day. There is more but tonight is tree night. I want my Christmas tree up with the Nativity Scene safely installed beneath it. I was richly blessed today beyond all imaginings (my eyes are leaking a bit). The simple gift of words adorned my heart like the most precious of rarest gems. I just want to lay these words at the feet of Christ. "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again." Jn 10:17

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Still No Tree by Susan L.

So, the Christmas tree is still in a box in the basement. Last year it was up the first week of December. This year...well, it's been busy. Having my family Christmas this past weekend meant a bit of a rush so there's simply been no time. Never mind the fact that my living room was converted to a rather chaotic art studio with paints, brushes and varnish scattered all around. At least it's tidy now and the space in front of the window is ready for the tree to grace its position of honour--front and center. I made a paper mache nativity scene a couple years ago. This treasure is placed under the tree in lieu of presents. It represents what is truly our Greatest Gift. This fills the empty space to overflowing that was once chock full of presents when my children were younger. It's a bit of a milestone when Christmas becomes simpler and less frantic, when there isn't the copious amounts of food preparation, wrapping and running around like the proverbial headless chicken. This is a mixed blessing as most blessings are: a blend of loss and celebration. I have to acknowledge the years that have come and gone while being faced with the challenge of aging gracefully. A smile comes to my lips: I am aging into Grace. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." Pet 1:2

Monday, 17 December 2012

Undercurrents/Undertow by Susan L.

When a group of Psychiatric Survivors meet there is always an edge to our voices when the topic of conversation turns to our struggles with medications. Just as an aside, the term Psyciatric Survivor was coined by those of us who have been through that particulately thorny branch of the health system. I acknowledge that I am one of the lucky ones, read: blessed. After roughly four years of trial and error, my own meds are doing what they are supposed to do. That is: help me live a rich and fullfilling life. I no longer survive, thankfully I am thriving. It's easy to make decisions when you are well and the brain is not bogged down by depression or trauma. It is easier then to let someone dictate what you need when you are not well and desperately seeking relief. Does this mean it's okay? Depends on our individual circumstances. I guess the anger that swirls and eddies is not because of the meds themselves but because of how our basic human rights are tossed out the window once we've been labelled " mentally ill". It's the only illness that automatically assumes incompetance without trial. Oh, and it's the only one that portrays us as mass murderers if we don't take our pills. Scary thought. "Yeah though I walk through the valley." Ps 23

Sunday, 16 December 2012

All Bases Covered by Susan L.

My love of woodworking enabled me to build a Noah's Ark for my grandson's Christmas gift. It felt like the right gift although I wasn't sure if, at three, he knew the story behind the boat and all the two-by-two animals. Prior to the rest of the company arriving, we were spending some quality time together which translates into reading to him. His love of books is obvious. We shared a couple of stories about Bambi and he wanted me to read them a third time. I asked if we could read something else so he chose another book for me to read twice as well. Yes. You guessed it. It was the story of Noah's Ark and the great flood. The Little Golden Book had belonged to his mother when she was a little girl but now graced his bookshelf. I was thunderstruck and filled with awe by everything God organized behind the scenes for the moment my grandson lifted his red and blue ark from the box I had wrapped it in: the trees that were grown to not only provide the wood for the ark and animals, but the pulp for the paper the little book was printed on thirtyish years ago. There was ore discovered and mined to manufacture the necessary screws and hinges. My own uncle had given these things to me. Even he played an unknowing part...wow. Mind boggling, isn't it? "And that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." Jn 14:20

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Illuminated Path by Susan L.

As I drove the four hours to Sarnia, the sky was grey and somber. As I got closer to my destination, swords of sunlight pierced the clouds, Jacob's ladders. The light was striking and beautiful. By the time I was half an hour away, the clouds had vanished and the sun was out in full force. Driving along the lakeshore of lake Simcoe, a lake so big you can't see the other side, it was lovely to see it sparkle and dance. The weather mirrored my goal. I was heading to family and celebration. I felt doubly blessed. I hadn't made a single wrong turn, either! It is going to be a great day. "I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble." Jer 31:9

Friday, 14 December 2012

Let the Celebrations Begin by Susan L.

I'm off to Sarnia today for a couple of days My son is hosting our family Christmas tomorrow. My daughter is going to be away later in the month so we are getting together early. It's going to be nice, I'll be able to spend some quality time with my grandchildren. There's still lots to do this morning before I leave. It's a little hard to focus on this entry so I am cutting it short. It's nice doing Christmas early because it leaves the 25th open to focusing on what the day represents without a whole lot of rushing around. Thank You, Lord, for safe travels. "She will bring forth a Son and you shall call His name, Jesus." Mat 1:21

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Your Will be Done by Susan L.

I have begun a little journey that is entirely an exercise in leaps of faith. On Tuesday night, I asked one of the ladies in my writer's group, Brenda Wood, published author and speaker (brendawoodauthor@yahoo.ca) to help me with my little book "God and the Black River". First leap: Asking someone outside my close circle of friends to read my work. Second leap: Emailing the manuscript. This may not seem to be a big thing for many people but I don't have a clue how to send something that is 23,000 plus words. Hopefully, there is someone at the centre who can help me. Third leap: Actually self-publishing the manuscript as an E-book. Brenda has a contact who does this for a very reasonable cost. It's much less expensive than publishing actual paper books and as someone on disability, funds are rather limited. Besides, this is the way of the future isn't it? Fourth leap: This is the biggest one for me. To believe in future possibilities and make plans accordingly. I am not going to use the word 'goals'. That is too scary. The old song comes to mind, "One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus." Amen to that! "For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw nearer to God." Heb 7:19

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Wishing Star by Susan L.

This magical tale begins with the magical words, " Once Upon a Time"... There was a tiny, tiny star just to the left of the moon. Her twinkling face only stood out on the darkest of darkest nights when her neighbour Moon who had been up all day was tucked snuggly into bed. Far below her lay the Earth that gleamed in blue, brown, green and white. It was a precious jewel hanging in the depths of space and was a beautiful sight to see. The Little Star was sad because she knew when someone on Earth looked up they couldn't see her like the other stars. She often wondered why she'd been made so small and dim. For ages and ages, a very long time, she hung there so forlorn until one day she heard a great big Voice say, "Little Star, it's your time to shine!" "Who's that?" she asked, "What do You mean?" She felt a bit afraid even though the Voice was a wonderful Voice full of life and love and music. "Little Star, I am God. I Am that I Am. I am the One who made you and set you in the midnight sky at the very dawn of time. I have a very special job for you that only you can do." The wonderful, marvelous Voice replied. "You see, Little Star, if you had burned too bright, your twinkle wouldn't have lasted. The special time that draws very near is the day I made you for. You will shine brighter than the sun all night and all day." The Little Star thought and thought then thought some more. She grew curious and more curious so she asked the Voice, " God? Is this really true?" A deep and gentle laughter echoed through the heavens. "Oh, Little Star, have faith and believe that when I say you are a chosen one, I have chosen you. You are to be the beacon, the guiding light to all the people on Earth." Your light will lead them, kings and shepherds to the place my son will be born." "But, I don't know how to shine!" The Little Star felt tears gather in the corners of her eyes. She wanted to do this job so, so badly. "I can't do this job on my own!" She cried to God. "I'm so very small!" "Silly Little Star," she could hear the smile in God's voice, "I am going to help you because you are right: this is a task you could never do alone. I am with you now just close your eyes and see." She heard a great, big, huge breath being drawn in. With a soft, "Whoosh!" it passed all around her, tickling her rays. The Little Star's eyes opened wide with surprise as within her heart a Power filled her with so much joy she thought she would burst! She couldn't hold it in! The Little Star began to grow and grow and grow. She became the biggest, brightest star in the sky and had the biggest, brightest smile on her face. "Thank You, God," she shyly said, "now what am I to do?" God answered her, "Look below at the tiny town of Bethlehem. See that stable hidden behind that inn? That is where my Son shall be born. See those kings far in the west? They will come to worship my Son, the baby Jesus who will be waiting for them in the stable's manger just like I planned. Your rays in the eastern sky will light the place where this special Child with a special purpose waits for His time to shine," The Beginning

In the Moment by Susan L.

This daily blog is challenging me this morning. A thousand--well, maybe only ten or twenty-- different ideas are flitting through my brain but there doesn't appear to be anything to sink my teeth in to. I guess I'm not really present. Last night was the Krasman staff Christmas dinner. It was nice to be included even though I've only worked a handful of days. It ended up being a rather late night. Tonight is my writer's group Christmas dinner. It is always a heart warming evening of fellowship and sharing. Thoughts of the upcoming weekend, my family Christmas, are percolating in the mix of memories and excited anticipation of good things. A shopping list is part of that even though there's only a few things left to get ready. Thank You, Lord, for the celebrations of life. Thank You, Lord, that the joy I feel this year is loud and strong. "For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's life but to save them." Lk 9:56

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Greatest Meal by Susan L.

Hallowed halls...light askance...Muted coloured glass...Still...Quiet...Drumbeats of rain echoes worship...Organ song...fading...Still...and peace...Quiet murmurs...rustling clothes...Trembling soul reborn...Awed...Tears mixed...Sorrow...Gratitude...Understanding...The grape...The grain...The Blood...The Body...Blessings drawn within... That piece was written several years ago and yesterday at church it came to mind as Holy Communion was celebrated. It had been a long time since I last partook of this gift. I've been struggling with some guilt about not attending church for so long. Yesterday cleared my conscience. Between the songs chosen, the pastor's teaching, the scriptures read and Communion, the Lord blessed me with affirmation after affirmation that I was and have been exactly where I was meant to be all this time. The Lord showed me that He had been teaching me every single day in my writing and art no matter what it was for. It's nice to know I never strayed very far after all. Jesus was born and died so that we may know our Father. That is the best Christmas Gift in the universe and for all time. "Thank You" just seems so inadequate, but Thank You, Lord for everything. " But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom." Mat 26:29

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Church Bells by Susan L.

This morning brought me awake with snatches of Christmas music dancing like sugarplums in my head. It was a nice way to wake up;so much better than the teeth jarring buzzer of my alarm clock. For some reason, even though I set it last night, it didn't go off. Hmmm...is this a good thing? I've started going to church again these last couple of Sundays. It's a small gathering held at the local arts centre. It has been many months (years?) since I've regularly attended worship because where I used to go became too big, too noisy and far too busy for me to cope with. Shopping at Zehrs would have been easier as my anxiety over rode my ability to take part in the service. There's a word in the book "Watership Down" by Richard Adams, what the rabbits in the story call "tharn". It means the feeling of a deer in the headlights or a mouse caught in the shadow of a hunting hawk. It's a good word that exemplifies the feelings of what living with PTSD is like when instincts kick in; however misguided they may be. Being on high alert and hyper vigilant is not condusive to being at peace before the Lord. I am glad He understands and thankful He continues to help me overcome my illness. Lately, I had begun to hunger for fellowship and waited patiently for the Lord to lead me to a safe place where it wouldn't be so overwhelming. God is good. It feels like I have come home. "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Jn 4:24

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Master Chef by Susan L.

It's chocolate truffle time. All the ingedients have been gathered together to make what has become a Christmas tradition over the last few years. They are easy and require minimal effort. Gone are the days of baking cookies by the dozen: shortbreads, pinwheels, sugar cookies, squares and pies. Now I don't have the need. Whew! It was just another stresser in the busy days before Christmas. I am going to make some mincemeat tarts though. I made green tomato mincemeat at the end of the garden season. The spices should be nice and mellow by now. It's yummy stuff and a great way to use up those unripened tomatoes. Usually the apples needed are gleaned from the side of the road but there weren't any this year. The pioneer breeds of apples add a special taste of their own. Do I miss the days of baking? No but I sometimes miss the days of eating! What I like the most is that now there is more time to think about the real meaning of Christmas. God was busy in His kitchen, too as He gathered together and blended all the ingedients that would lead to those far and wide to gather in a stable to worship His Son. Mary's conception, Joseph's acceptance, the trip to Bethlehem, the star, the three kings, angels, shepherds, and even everyone who filled all the inns in town all fullfilled the part they needed to play to create the greatest story ever told. "Behold the virgin shall be with child,and bear a Son, and they shall call His name, Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." Mat 1:23

Friday, 7 December 2012

Unanswered Ponderings by Susan L.

This can be a hard time of year for so many people. The recent loss or not so recent loss of a loved one can often be felt so acutely in a season geared to family gatherings. May God be with you at this time. Oddly enough, my own father has been in my thoughts lately although he's been gone twenty-nine years this month. His sudden death at 62 came as a shock to all of us. It hit me hard at the time being the ripe old age of nineteen. My Mom has since remarried to a wonderful, caring and compassionate man. He is a blessing to all our lives. My dad was a child of the Great Depression, a WWII veteran, and educated to grade 5. After that, self-taught and bi-lingual. He eventually rose to the ranks of upper/middle management in a large mortgage and housing corporation. He always had a hammer in his hand, constantly upgrading and improving or downright building the homes we lived in. The smell of sawdust reminds me of him. He achieved so much and I wonder what his thoughts would be on how my life turned out: divorced, and living with mental illness, not able to work full time (at this point) but relying on government assistance to get by. I know he was highly prejudiced about "those lazy _______!" It's funny how much this matters to me...one day we'll have a chance to talk. In the mean time, I 'll trust in a greater Father to uphold me and sustain me throughout this period of transition and recovery from the depths of the Black River. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Lk 12:33

Thursday, 6 December 2012

No Small Gratitude by Susan L.

Thank You, Lord, for treasures sent, The weakened man, the woman bent, By age or life or strife. Who have within a heart of gold, Who have aided me in ways untold, By simply being there. Thank You, Lord, for the paths You laid, And although they walked sore afraid, Their hands reached out to help. The lives You planned have met with mine, A tangible, visible, Holy sign, That You are with us all. "For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you,'Fear not, I will help you.'" Is 41:13

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Side Order by Susan L.

Yesterday a conversation took place at the centre. I asked if anyone would mind me blogging about it. Confidentiality is very important to those of us who go there so, with permission and some artistic license (my memory ain't what it used to be) here goes: "I am suffering from insomnia. I've started a new medication and one of the side effects is insomnia. That's all I need! Why can't side effects be more like this?" "You will get the perfect amount of sleep and will wake feeling rested and alert. There will be no weight gain. In fact your weight will automatically settle at the perfect size and shape of a super model. Your mind will become as sharp as a tack; complicated math problems will be a breeze. You will be able to remember where you left your purse or keys or what you needed the moment you enter a store. Lactation will occur only if you are a nursing mother. You will not shake or twitch except on the dance floor. Eyesight will parallel that of a bald eagle. Your hair will become thick and shiny. The only concern about liver and kidneys is how to get your kids to eat them!" At the time we were all laughing, so able to relate. It does the heart good to poke some fun at the trials we face. However, and I am sure this is the story for all medications no matter the illness, it can be a tough call to decide whether or not to take the stuff when the phisical cost can be so very high. I pray my friend will find what is needed to improve the quality of their life with minimal side effects to contend with. Medications do perform a much needed role after all in helping us live with illness; mental or otherwise. "So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions. But the king spoke, saying to Daniel, "Your God, whom you serve continually, will deliver you."" Dan 6:16

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Same Old Song by SusanL.

My mind is full of Christmas this morning: the need-to-do's, the gotta-hurry-up-and-do's. I know it will get done in time, it always has but today needs to be a bit of a rest day. There is some residual after effects due to yesterday's anxiety explosion. It has left me feeling a little wrung out and cautious. This anxiety thing is a little hard to swallow some times. It bears keeping in mind that I am a gazillion times better than when I was first diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2007. In the beginning it took all my energy simply to leave the house. With God at the helm, most of the traumas at the root of this illness have been worked through. The all consuming flashbacks are now just painful memories...I confess, I'm being awfully hard on myself because... Hold on a second. If I had a broken leg or other visibly physical disability it wouldn't matter that I was unable to do all the running around my shopping list required. You know, I keep getting tripped up by my own attitudes about Mental Illness. They are so deeply entrenched in my psyche. The devil's litany rings out: weak, useless, incompetent, failure, blah, blah, blah. Liar! Thank You, Lord for Your persistence in helping all of us understand the truth of how You see everything that impacts our lives. The good, the bad, and the ugly are redeemed through Your love for us. "In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me." Ps86:7

Monday, 3 December 2012

Red Alert by Susan L.

So I had a busy day running here, running there. This and that to pick up. There were a couple of items on a short grocery list so I decided to pop in to the local Zehrs. I had to give up shopping there quite a while ago. It's massive. It's busy. So much so th aat the last time I was there a full fledged panic attack set in and my cart was abandoned into the capable hands of a stock boy. He looked terrified, seeing this grown woman in such a state. The tears were threatening to spill over as my entire body and mind screamed, "RUN!!!!". So I did. Today, weaving my way through the busy produce section trying to find the milk which I figured was at the far end like it always is; something about impulse purchases along the way. I looked down the length of the store and it did one of those special effect thingies where the far end seemed to stretch even further into the distance. My chest tightened up, my lungs froze, my head starting edging into full panic mode. I looked at my empty cart and headed for the exit. Okay, I still don't do busy very well and putting my body into high alert mode is not good. It does take a toll both mentally and physically, all those endorphines and adrenaline can be used up. Not good. I got my milk at the local drug store and surprise! Surprise! I saved twenty cents! "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You." Ps 56:3

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Connect-the-Dots by Susan L.

It was a clear night and the plane was humming along nicely at thirty five thousand feet. Far below, tiny pinpricks of light were clustered together illuminating towns and cities. Like a vast spider web single rows of evenly spaced sparks linked these clusters to each other. There were few places left where there were no lights at all. This was a dream and when I woke it was with a greater understanding of what being Christian means. We are the carriers of Light in the darkness, that's just one part. This dream truly demonstrated just how connected we are within the Spiritual internet that spans the globe. Yesterday's blog was about housework, so was a friend's. (It's nice to know I am not alone in that struggle.) When I was in New Zealand, the little chapel I attended was discussing the same topic as the church here at home, half a world away. On another occasion while in hospital, someone brought me a photocopy of a page from the classic devotional "Streams in the Desert". I had debated bringing my own copy, one I had barely looked at since acquiring it at a church sale but ended up disregarding that urge. This person, who I didn't know very well brought me a treasure that assured me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. The list of these mini-miracles is far too great to share. They happen far too frequently to be mere coincidence...unless "Coincidence" is one of the many names of God's Holy Spirit. Thank-you Lord, for such a priceless gift. "He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers ofliving water." Jn 7:38

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Willy Nilly Silly by Susan L.

Saturday. Chore day. Laundry, floors and dust. I don't know when this started but it seems that we must: Scrub and clean and wipe and shine, Until we see our faces, In things we own that were never meant to see our faces in!!------ Gotta love the silly stuff. I don't know about you but housework is an area I struggle with. Give me spade, lawnmower or pruning shears and I am content as content could be. Or better yet, give me the opportunity to use my sliding compound mitre saw; the Nirvana of tools! There's something comforting about the smell of sawdust. A smell I grew up with because my Dad was always renovating something. It is amazing how much clutter one person can generate. Where does it come from? Mind you, my friend told me my living room is my studio. There's a sewing project on the go, a half finished dollhouse, my paints and brushes litter the coffee table because I am working on Christmas gifts as I watch TV. Whew! Organized chaos! Just let me find space for my Christmas tree. Hmmm...that's going to take some thought... "And Sarah said, 'God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.'" Gen 21:6