Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Self Pity? by Susan L.

  On Sunday I approached my pastor for prayer following the service. It was a struggle to get to church because of how I've been feeling lately: depressed and overwhelmed. After I shared briefly with him what was going on, his prayer included the request that I not allow self pity to continue. His words, not mine. It's got me thinking. Thinking hard. Is he right?
  There's more grief to this than self pity but he doesn't know me that well. There's a good chunk of fear nibbling away at me too. I guess I am still coming to terms with an illness that can rear its ugly head out of nowhere. Having the panic attack at my Bible Study potluck dinner before Christmas has left me shaken and uneasy. Will I ever find peace? Will the fear of being triggered, of having nightmare memories erupt out of nowhere ever be a thing of the past? Lord, will it end?
  I've worked hard to get as far as I have come. The Lord gave me the strength and guidance. Self pity has been set aside time after time. It had to be because forgiveness towards others and myself is crucial to recovery and to my walk as a Christian. Self pity or a permanent victim mentality stifles that ability. Laying blame and pointing fingers do not encourage healing or letting go.
  The gift the Lord gave me, that "git r done" mindset, has allowed me to vanquish many of my demons. Although, part of my recovery happened when I finally realized I was a victim. This was the moment when I fully understood that the abuse wasn't my fault. It was incredibly healing.
  Once in a while, I'll indulge myself. The "woe is me" comes out as I've blogged on more than one occasion. Right now I am angry at my pastor, at my mood, at feeling powerless before these sneaky foes of depression and PTSD. Maybe that's what this is about more than anything.
  Here's the nugget: I am angry at myself because I can't fix this! No matter how very hard I try, how much I write about recovery or use my wellness tools, my mental health issues are always hovering in the background just waiting to bite.
   I am trying to do the best that this little human can.
  That, my friends, is self pity in all its finery and in its company are hopelessness, despondency, worry, pain and fear.
   I guess the pastor was right. Lord, forgive me. I am so very tired.
   "The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail." Is 58:11

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Guitar by Susan L.

  I had been asked what I would like to do to celebrate my milestone birthday this coming April. There are certain members in my family who like to plan ahead because it's a significant one, the big five oh. I'm not sure what to do. I don't want a big party, just a family dinner.
  A summer road trip through the Maritimes was one idea because that was where I spent a good chunk of my childhood. I haven't been back since we moved to Ontario in the seventies.  There's the house my dad built in Dartmouth to see and travelling around the Cabot Trail. If it was timed right, there's the Highland Games in Antigonish to revisit as well. However, that kind of trip wouldn't be much fun on my own.
  Then I decided that learning to play the guitar would be a nice thing to do. I'd love a piano but my house is too small. Besides, playing at other people's homes brings them joy as well.
  My brother lent me his very nice guitar to try out before making an investment in my own. There's a couple of things that are challenging. I think my fingers are too short to do the chords. They might be a bit thick too because is hard for me to hit just one string. Following my experimenting yesterday there might be some residual nerve damage to my index finger, it's still numb. I have strength in my hands from playing the piano, maybe too much.
  Music has been a huge part of my life for as far back as I can remember. My parents blessed me with lessons and opportunities. First the organ, then the flute. Here's a thought: perhaps I should blow the dust off my flute instead and join a local orchestra. I'm rather rusty so it would take some practicing to get me back where I once was. It's been a long time since it was played.
  It's all about making a joyful noise one way or another because it's only by the grace of God that I am here.
  "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name." Ps 96:1

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The Ending by Susan L.

  The Lord set before me a rather unpleasant task. The sick racoon. I had posted on the twenty-third that he had died, he hadn't but was merely sleeping. It was mostly wishful thinking on my part. I just wanted this problem to go away. It didn't. I also felt it wasn't a topic to share over Christmas.
  I decided that night keeping him comfortable was only prolonging his death. I took it over to the conservation area across the street and let it go figuring he'd wander into the woods. The night was frigid so I prayed it would speed up the inevitable, that hypothermia would aid his passing. It didn't. The next morning revealed he had returned to my back yard, still alive but in the throes of the illness, Canine Distemper. I prayed he would die soon. It's an ugly illness.
  When I got home from work, he was still living but hadn't moved from the spot I'd found him in that morning. Enough was enough although I was sorry I didn't own a gun. A two-by-four was the best weapon at hand to dispatch the poor fellow. It's only by the grace and strength of God I was able to put the raccoon out of his misery.
  Again, thanks, Farm, for the hard lessons learned: that I know how to kill in one of the quickest, kindest ways.
  As gruesome a job as it was, a weight lifted off my shoulders in watching him breathe his last. No more suffering for the little fellow. I had struggled terribly with keeping him in the box and letting nature take its course which is why he'd been let go. That course of action was cruel, plain and simple.
  I was annoyed at our local Humane Society, that they didn't have a volunteer with a gun to come and take care of these creatures. Leaving them to die from such a terrible sickness is far from humane. Having a no euthanasia policy is incredibly cruel in circumstances where there is no treatment, no hope of recovery. As they told me, body disposal in these cases is a ditch at the side of the road.
  I know they import small animals from Quebec like hamsters and guinea pigs because Quebec has a euthanasia policy. I have no idea what retrieving these animals costs but it's sad that there isn't the money necessary to help end the suffering of the local racoons who have contracted this vicious disease. In a period of three days they had received numerous calls about them.
  How much does a bullet cost?
  But then, the Lord knew where to send the little racoon. I just pray He doesn't send any more. This was not a task I'd care to do again.
  "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it." Gen 2:15

Friday, 27 December 2013

Mystery Calls by Susan L.

   I had a strange text last night. It started with a "Hi". I didn't recognise the number so I asked who was texting me. This generated a sarcastic response asking me to guess. My reply was that I didn't know and didn't think this was funny. That only elicited another cheeky answer.
  In a stroke of "genius", I phoned the number and got a name from an answering machine. It was a young man I had never heard of. Including his name in my next response and telling him he was probably texting the wrong number ended our conversation.
  This isn't the first time I've had this sort of thing take place. It happened when I was texting someone, not knowing they'd changed their number. The receiver played this same question and answer game that left me rather rattled. It took several messages before they finally told me I had a wrong number.
  It does upset me. These kind of mind games. This passive/aggressive behaviour triggers a whole lot of  emotional stuff. It's like an electronic home invasion that leaves me jittery and fearful with my heart pounding a mile a minute. At least with an actual phone call, you can hear the other person and know right away if they are who you want to speak with.
  But then, someone who knew me used the phone in the small hours of the morning to play the same guessing game not that long ago. I may of shared this before but it fits in to today's blog as well. I am ninety-nine percent sure it was the tree guy who didn't get the business to take down my tree this summer. He was closely connected to my ex-husband and extremely drunk when he called. His connection isn't why he didn't get the contract. I simply found someone less expensive.
   It's all sad. These little things, this lack of courtesy and respect are just the tip of the iceberg of a far greater problem...Lord, save us from ourselves.
  "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." 2 Ti 2:2

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Damage by Susan L.

  As I travelled south to be with family for a most enjoyable Christmas, I couldn't believe the damage done by the ice storm. Even just a few kilometers away it looked like a tornado or hurricane had ripped through the area. Sadly, countless trees were either down or shattered by the weight of the ice. The giant weeping willows seemed to suffer the worst; their soft and tender wood no match for the frigid mantle. Tree after tree had tangled branches and massive limbs piled in a heap at the bottom of their broken and naked trunks. It wasn't just the willows, ancient maples and towering elm suffered much damage as well. Many will not survive because their trunks, their life giving hearts, were split and shattered as they collapsed under the ice.
  It was a stunning drive though: glistening silver, soft gray and crisp white as far as the eye could see. I found it hard to keep my eyes on the road because even street signs and traffic signals wore gleaming, whiskery icicles. Mundane things like wire fences and mailboxes became objects of art and beauty.
  It's going to take a long time to get everything cleared up, months even. Many of the sidewalks along the city roads of my route were impassible due to fallen trees and limbs. Like the willows, they lay in a tangled heap that will be difficult to clear away safely. Not surprisingly I believe there are a good number of people who are still without power and may be for a while yet. Things are a mess.
  Hopefully, and I pray, it will warm up enough to melt everything on the trees before there is any kind of major snowfall. That would only pull more trees and power lines down.
  Like the ice storm of 1998, this is a weather event for the history books.
  Lord, encourage those who face the monumental task of clearing the damage. Keep them safe. In Jesus' name. Amen.
  "Man goes out to his work and to his labour until the evening." Ps 104:23

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

O, Holy Night! by Susan L.

  

 
To all my readers worldwide, 
 
A Very Merry Christmas!
 
"And she brought forth her firstborn Son,
and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths,
and laid Him in a manger."
Lk 2:7




Monday, 23 December 2013

Be Patient by Susan L.

  The racoon didn't survive the night. It's a mercy. Thank You Lord for taking him swiftly as I had asked. Apparently there is an epidemic of Canine Distemper affecting racoons in our area. The gentleman from the Humane Society said there have been fifteen calls about them in the last three days or so. It doesn't affect humans. (This was an error, he was merely sleeping. Dec.28/13)
  Weather history has been made again. The ice storm has devastated most of eastern Canada from Niagara Falls right through the Maritimes. Toronto's majestic trees toppled like matchsticks under the weight of ice and pulled down miles of power lines. There are power outages everywhere. Some may be as long as three or four days, if not longer judging from the damage.
  Most major airports were shut down but hopefully by today they'll be up and running.
  I don't know why news anchors always choose the person with the biggest complaining skills. It makes me shake my head.
  I am truly sorry your flight was cancelled, that your anticipated trip to the sunny south has been cut short but airports don't let planes fly if doing so could kill people. I am sorry you are cold but power needs to be restored to hospitals and emergency services first. I am glad the city is offering shelter for anyone to stay where there is heat and power thanks to the Red Cross. Making sure the water treatment facilities are up and running is pretty important, too. Mr. Ford, mayor of Toronto, I am sorry your shower was cold but be thankful that in being a city dweller there is running water when the power goes out.
  Toronto is not the only area hard hit by this storm. Hydro crews are working in conjunction with the Ministry of Natural Resources as hard as they can to clear power lines and roads. Roads are more important. Emergency services need to be able to go where they need to go. If the boom truck can't get to the blown transformer, there will be no power anyways. Please thank them for doing all that they can because clearing a massive tangle of branches, wires and trees is neither an easy or safe job. It must be done carefully and methodically. Some of those branches weigh hundreds if not thousands of pounds. A slip of a chain saw can be deadly. A rogue branch can kill or seriously maim a fragile human.
  I ask if you have access to some kind of heater to obey the owner's manual. If it says not to use it indoors, don't! Life is too precious a commodity to risk bending the rules.
  I know Christmas is just around the corner. A barbequed turkey is just about the tastiest thing in the world. If the scalloped potatoes end up being potato chips, so be it. Enjoy!
  "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." Eph 4:7
 

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Processing by Susan L.

  The Lord has seen fit to lead another animal my way. As I was shovelling the massive pile of ice and snow the plow had kicked up over the end of my driveway I noticed a racoon. The fact it was out in the middle of the day alarmed me. I watched it for a while as it wandered around the yard, occasionally falling on its side. These are not good signs. It was a young one, probably born this year, and severely underweight. It showed no fear of humans but was not aggressive in any way. It came when called. I got the attention of a neighbour and he came over. The racoon followed him to a source of food they leave out for the feral cats in the neighbourhood. I don't know if it ate anything or not.
  The racoon came back shortly and as he got closer, thanks to my farm experience, I noticed that not only was he in severe respiratory distress but he was blind in one eye. My first thought was that he had been a pet dump; that someone had raised him until he was big enough to "survive in the wild", something no creature raised by humans can do even if they are wild animals. I thought he might have pneumonia and was suffering from exposure.
  God has given me an opportunity to atone for the ferret earlier this year, a situation where I have felt I could have done more.
  I trapped this poor, sickly fellow in a big plastic bin using my snow shovel to steer him. Sick animals need to be handled carefully. Thanks Farm, for the knowledge of how to handle such a situation. I tossed in a blanket and have wrapped the bin in an old sleeping bag to try and make him more comfortable. I made a  few phone calls and got hold of a wild animal rescue organization.    
  Sadly, she told me it sounds like Canine Distemper, an illness that has been devastating the racoons in our area. He probably wasn't a pet dump after all but in his sickness he turned to any help, any kindness, he could find. There's nothing that can be done to cure him. All I can do now is wait for my local humane society to get in touch with me. He needs to be humanely and safely disposed of.
  Regardless of the outcome, this time I've done all I can. Thank You that You are a loving God; a God of second chances... and third... and fourth. Amen.
  "Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?" Mat 12:11
 

Icicle Dream Land by Susan L.

  It's freezing rain outside so the power was out this morning for a bit. Once again, the generator came in handy. Nothing can stand in the way of me getting my morning coffee! I've left it set up outside just in case it happens again. I also did the "Be Prepared" thing by getting in some extra gas for it last night.
  Still, it is beautiful and magical out there. Every branch, every twig, every spare bit of grass poking its nose out of the snow is coated with ice. I've experienced history though and know first hand what havoc these storms can bring. Thankfully, the forecasted rain should soon stop.
  Our farm was just on the southwestern most boundary of the ice storm that trashed eastern Canada back in 1998. We were only 63 hours without power. Others had it far worse. Especially Quebec. Some people were weeks without. Lives were lost. Livestock by the thousands had to be slaughtered or died. Large dairy operations and hog operations are utterly dependant on hydro.
   I remember walking up the nearby hill. The sun was shining by this time and everything was stunning beyond words. The whole world as far as we could see was coated in silver and gold. In the distance, we could hear tree after tree crashing down under the weight of its icy mantle. It also pulled down massive hydro pylons. They buckled like matchsticks under the weight of the ice.
  A couple weeks later, we were sitting in the house when the ground shook as though something had exploded. We thought the chimney had collapsed. A quick look outside showed that everything around the house was okay. It was only  during my nightly barn check that the cause was revealed. A slab of ice and packed snow, seven inches thick, twenty-five feet wide and a hundred feet long had slid off the barn roof. It had shattered into pieces when it hit the ground. It was that explosive impact we had heard and felt in the house. Thankfully nothing was standing underneath when it slid loose.
  There are some events you never forget: history in the making.
  "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." Mat 2"2
 
 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Depression Confession by Susan L.

  It could be because of having to fight off this cold thing that I'm struggling really hard to get some kind of excitement/delight about Christmas. I have had a bad headache now for five days, a sinus issue that is related to changes in the weather. We've had storm front after storm front roll through which makes it worse. Changes in barometric pressure aggravate the situation. If it doesn't get better soon, I'll head to the walk-in clinic. It's probably a sinus infection.
  Making decisions about what I am doing on the twenty-fifth is challenging, a sure sign that depression is rearing its ugly head. The future is hard to envision or plan for. When forced to make a choice regarding future events I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights of a fast moving car. White noise fills my head, speech becomes difficult, the fight/flight instincts kick in. Right now, this response is kicking in when I am deciding what to have for dinner! This is not a good sign.
  I need a big siren on the top of my head that flashes "Red Alert!!!" when things are "breaking down". That's a term I learned in WRAP. I also learned what to do to prevent the situation from getting worse.
  I pray for guidance then look after my physical needs: plenty of rest, good food, trying to avoid known stressful situations. Secondly is try to simplify and prioritize what has to get done by taking it one step at a time. A big list is not helpful.
  The first thing I am going to do is take my own advice. I am off to the clinic. I've had enough.
  Thank You Lord, that I have access to this kind of health care.
  "I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion." Prov 8:12
 

Friday, 20 December 2013

Shhhh! by Susan L.

  There's an anticipatory quality to the air outside. It's still and calm, the sky is an ominous dark gray. Nature is waiting with bated breath for the forecasted snow storm we're supposed to get over the next twenty-four hours. A few damp snowflakes have fallen sporadically; a winter practice run.
  I lived on a farm in the latter years of my marriage. It helped me develop a sensitivity to the weather. A couple of old-time farmers shared their own proven weather lore with me. I hated seeing winter sun dogs, those rainbow like reflections on either side of the sun. When it looked like there was three suns in the eastern sky it meant there was going to be a ton snow. Summer wisdom was part of it too, particularly important during hay season: no dew in the morning meant rain by nightfall. It meant busting a hump to get the hay in before the rain came.
  I always did a barn check before turning into bed just to make sure everything was okay. The only night I didn't was Christmas Eve. This was an Irish tradition my ex was adamant in following. I think it was the only tradition that didn't involve alcohol. I wasn't allowed to go to the barn because the animals were praying on that very special night.
  Other nights I had often stood in the barn enjoying the peace of the animals at rest: cattle, sheep, goats all peacefully chewing their cuds after dinner.  Even if there was a raging blizzard outside, inside the old bank barn was another world. The animals' warm breath would steam and swirl slowly upwards before vanishing into the rafters. The few barn cats would be puddled in a heap with the young goats in order to stay warm. We had a pair of Welsh Black pigs that would tuck in under a mountain of straw. Both of those ladies snored like thunder.
   It wasn't hard to imagine the animals praying. I had seen them at rest often enough.
  Around that time in my life was when I began to wish for Something more. Most of all I wished with all my heart that I could truly believe it was real, that God was there, listening to the animals.
  The best thing? Now I know it is and He was. He even heard me.
  "Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Lk 2:10-11

Thursday, 19 December 2013

In the News by Susan L.

    There's been a news item that has me a bit concerned. A woman travelling to the US was recently denied entry because she had been hospitalized following a suicide attempt in early 2012. Police were not involved at that time. The border guards would not let her through because her "mental illness" made her a "risk to others and herself". In order for her to travel to the US, she had to see one of only three psychiatrists that are recognized by American authorities. Isn't that a slap in the face to all the other highly trained professionals who help those struggling with mental health challenges?
  The American Homeland Security stepped way beyond its rights. Discrimination is discrimination. There are lawyers involved now.
  Here's the million dollar question: how did they know? Our medical records are supposed to be confidential. If the police were not involved, there would be no police record that they legally had access to. How did her health matters become public knowledge?
  This has happened more than once. She isn't the only one and it's only the US border that has had any issues.
  Yes, there is an investigation into this matter but in this day of Google, any news item, any personal info from Facebook, photos, history, blogs, anything where your name appears...it's there for the reading by anyone. That, my friends is a frightening prospect when it becomes a weapon of power.
  Sadder yet is that situations like this only drive discussing mental illness and suicide deeper underground and sets us back decades.
  "For man does not know his time: like fish taken in a cruel net, like birds caught in a snare, so the sons of men are snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly upon them." Eccl 9:12

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Not Well by Susan L.

  I'm struggling a bit with today's post. Ideas seem to be rather illusive this morning. I'm not feeling so great physically. Not the stomach bug but I went to bed early last night shivering, feverish and aching.  As a result, there were some pretty strange dreams which were disturbing enough to wake me on a regular basis throughout the night. I don't recall what they were but they've left me feeling unsettled and edgy.
  It happens. Thankfully not very often. It's been a couple of years since I had a cold or flu or whatever this is. It is a bit of a trigger because prior to my diagnosis of depression, I had a debilitating cough that dragged on for nine miserable months. Masked depression it's called. The body reacts when the mind is not well. It was so bad at one point that I tore the muscles along my spine and rib cage by coughing. Because it was mentally based, physical treatments didn't work.
  The cough still appears once in a while, a warning sign that I am particularly stressed. It means I'd better pay attention to what is going on.
  Meanwhile, knowing this is a physical thing, I've got to mother myself. A nice, sweet cup of tea and toast sounds really good this morning.
  "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Mt 6:34
  

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Deck the Halls by Susan L.

  I plan on finally putting my Christmas tree up. It's been relegated to the non-priority list while I madly knitted and built the presents for my family. It isn't a huge tree. It's designed tall and slender so it doesn't take up much floor space in my tiny living room. There are only a few presents for friends to place underneath because the biggest part is done.
  A couple or more years ago, that bothered me. I was used to the mountain that came from having the kids at home and a bigger family of numerous in-laws, nieces and nephews. The impact of divorce can make itself felt in so many ways.
  The "D" word isn't one I often use because of its ability to stir up so many emotions, even now. It has surprised me by appearing here! Art therapy, here I come...
  Which is what happened that couple/three/four years ago. (Time has a habit of blurring.) Anyways, I constructed a good sized nativity scene out of paper mache. It took me hours to create, paint and ornament each piece. Just getting the camel to remain vertical was a challenge! The time it took brought me through a bit of a rough patch because the previous Christmas I had been in the hospital following my second breakdown. At the time, I was afraid it could happen again.      
  God is good! As I made each piece: the angel, the shepherds, the sheep, kings and camel, ox and ass, Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus, it gave me the opportunity to pause and reflect on the true meaning of the holiday. The gift of Jesus is the best present I could ever ask for or receive. It is He who belongs under my tree and that is where I now lovingly arrange my rustic nativity scene. Jesus' presence is enough to fill the deepest want.
  And so began the reclamation of Christmas by literally building new memories and in embracing new traditions that were all my very own.
  "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant." Lk 1:46-48
 

Monday, 16 December 2013

The Long Road by Susan L.

  It's nice to be home safe. The drive down to my son's took an extra forty-five minutes because the roads weren't that great. Lots of blowing snow made the roads iffy so I was glad I left home when I did. Coming back today was the same with snow packed roads and occasional heavy snow. I also drove through some pockets of sunshine which made the newly blanketed trees and houses stunning. Even the wild turkeys were enjoying what little heat the sun was throwing today. I passed several flocks perusing the fields of corn stubble. I guess they were gleaning for dropped kernels under the snow.
  I passed only one car in the ditch and ironically it was a police cruiser that had slipped off the side of the road. He must've been making a U-turn but the bank was just a bit steeper than he realized. I am sure his fellow officers will have a great time teasing him because where he was stuck, the roads were good. I am glad he wasn't hurt at all,  probably only his pride was wounded.
  It was wonderful to see the kids even though my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren had a tummy bug. I sure hope it isn't catching. That didn't stop the rest of us from feasting on some amazing food. I wish my son had cooked like that when he lived at home. Although, my waistline is probably happy he didn't!
  My grand-daughter was delighted with the rocking chair I made her and my grandson was delighted with his gift as well. It was a wooden story box with paper and drawing supplies so he could write and illustrate his own stories. I included a large, ornate imagination key that is similar to the one I wear all the time. I had told him it helped unlock my stories.
  And now the count down to the best night of all...for the Story of Stories to be retold.
 "And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." Lk 1:41

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Before the Snow by Susan L.

  I am off to my son's shortly for a couple of days. It's our family Christmas celebration today. The weather forecasters are calling for snow, ten to fifteen centimeters or more, which isn't that much but my route takes me through a fair bit of open farmland. The winds could be fierce which means visibility might not be that great. I admit I am a bit worried but not enough for me to cancel going. The car has snow tires and four wheel drive should it be needed. I hope to get there ahead of the worst of it anyways although a three and a half hour drive on a good day might end up being a long haul.
  Yes, I'll do all the Canadian smart things like packing snow pants and a heavy coat, hat and extra mitts as well just in case something happens. I'll throw in a blanket, too. Hmmm, it's a good excuse to take some chocolate! I have a candle. Apparently in emergencies it can heat up the car quite nicely. I've just used it as an air freshener in the summer, the baking heat releases its scent.
  I've got to go get ready: do the dishes then pack up my suitcase and the car. God willing, I'll be back in a couple of days. To any other travellers out there, may you have a safe and blessed journey.
 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Ps 119:105

Friday, 13 December 2013

Ground Control by Susan L.

  I took some down time yesterday and last night. Playing some new music, a selection of love songs from WWII, while doing the last of the gift wrapping helped alleviate most of the remaining jangling nerves. I watched a movie on the internet and went to bed early. Simple pleasures that help ground me and keep me from being swallowed by memories I'd much rather forget.
  Last winter I invested in some polar fleece sheets for my bed. They are wonderfully warm and cozy but prone to static electricity. I was getting painfully shocked every time I rolled over even after using copious amounts of fabric softener in the wash. Attaching a small piece of copper wire to the metal part of my bedframe that was long enough to touch the floor eliminated the threat. My bed is now grounded. Pumpkin was happy about that too because kitty ears and noses are very sensitive!
    January and February can be bad for static as well. The cold, dry arctic air makes me wish I had a piece of copper wire hanging from my coattails. Carpet and metal doorknobs are an almost lethal combination. The "crack!" can be heard for miles. So can my hissing cries of pain!
  It's difficult in the moment to contend with triggers. Like static, I often don't know a charge is building until a connection is made. The emotional pain can be as quick and as painful as touching that doorknob. So much so that where I am, who I am with, vanishes into the mists of memory.
  Last night's movie, "After Earth" starring Will Smith was all about grounding; about "taking a knee" when panic is ensuing. It was about focusing on the moment: sight, sound and smell in order to reconnect to the present. God is good. It was something I needed to see.
  Lord, help me remember these lessons when things are beginning to fray at the edges or when I am suddenly shocked. Help me remember to take a knee before You. Help me remember that the thread that connects us is far more than copper; that in You I am grounded and safe.
  "I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live." Ps 116:1-2
 
 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

It Might Take a While by Susan L.

  I did it again. Lack of self-care. Anxiety and its twin, fatigue, caused by being far too busy has left me feeling like broken glass this morning. Getting everything ready for this weekend's family Christmas, going to a work-related dinner party Tuesday night, back down to the city to see my psychiatrist in the morning, and not enough sleep or quiet time all came to a head last night.
  I ended up having a significant panic attack at my Bible study group's Christmas dinner. The noise, the topics of conversation bringing to mind the foul spectres of Christmas past, music in the background that was just a tad too loud...I should have stayed home. Being severely triggered on many fronts has left me a bit raw this morning and still somewhat teary. The "big sad", to quote a friend, is nibbling at me.
  There's a level of embarrassment too. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
  There is also the realization this morning that I could have left sooner. Hindsight is a cruel master. So is the thought, "What will they think of me?" had I fled.
  How proud I am, sticking it out, not "creating a scene" by speaking up to question the conversations and their impropriety when the elders didn't. Sadly, the topics were questionable for those of us who follow Christ. It ended up with me "creating a scene" anyways and fleeing like a whipped dog.
  I don't know what to do.
  It grieves me that the triggers were in areas I know the Lord has done some amazing, divine healing. Obviously the hurts are still there; enough to ignite the over-riding fight/flight protective response of a panic attack. I don't know what to do about that either.
  Yah, I said it a couple of days ago, the rug is inside me.
  Forgive me Father, for that belief.
  "I, therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." Eph 4:1
 
 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Metaphorically Speaking by Susan L.

  Change. The image which came to mind is those few loose coins floating around the bottom of my purse. They're a hidden treasure buried beneath the usual assortment of purse items: wallet, eyeglass case, notepad, umpteen pens and crumpled receipts. These can be rather illusive; the dimes, nickels and occasional quarter that are only searched for in "emergencies" like when the debit machine isn't working at the local coffee shop. (Thank You, Lord, for these riches!)
  Change. I know it's there, buried somewhere. I know it's something I could be using all the time. It's just that sometimes it's simpler not to look; to let my purse get heavier and heavier until it begins to hurt my shoulder. Then and only then do I dump everything on the kitchen table to purge the contents.
  Change. It's amazing how much lighter a purse gets once the loose coins are gathered. I usually tuck the smaller ones away in my piggy bank for a rainy day. The larger coins, loonies and toonies, are returned to my wallet. When I see the small fortune amassed, sometimes enough for a few groceries, I wonder why I waited so long!
  Change searched for is an opportunity after all.
  "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "what are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you? And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver." Mat 26:14-15
 

 
 
 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Aloneness by Susan L.

   This is the one of the times in the year when living on my own becomes a bit of a struggle. The long nights seem to go on forever before it's time for bed. Not that I am prepared to go actively hunting for a partner on the internet or some dating site. I much prefer to leave this in God's hands. The who, when and if are all up to Him. But like I said, I get lonely sometimes.
  It strikes when there's a mountain of garden work. It touches my heart when the snow is a foot and a half thick on the driveway and I've already shovelled it once. Mealtimes, when I have a cold, or just admiring the view out the kitchen window all stir up the sense of aloneness.  It would be nice to turn to someone and say, "Hey! Look at that!"
  It would be great to share a laugh at the cat who thoroughly enjoys watching nature programs on  TV; the hunter in him stirred up by scurrying images.
   It's there when I sit by myself on the patio in the summer after the grass is cut and the flowerbeds are weeded enjoying a cup of coffee.
  It's hard not to have companionship when the Lord does a major housecleaning. I've often called a friend when things get stirred up just to hear a living, breathing person say, "It's all going to be okay." but that's becoming a rare event as I am becoming well.
  It's the everyday, the mundane events that make me wish for companionship.
  Now I've had my pity party, here's the truth of the situation. I have good friends. I have my faith. God is with me in the mundane and loves to hear of my delight in His creations. As for the snow, the singing birds accompany me or the stars light up the night. Pumpkin's purring presence on my lap comforts me, too. My Lord is with me in all these things. Do I really need anything more?
  "For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, the sheep of His hand." Ps 95:7
 
 

Sunday, 8 December 2013

At the Core by Susan L.

  It was a day of revelation for me. Some truths about who I am got revealed. Core stuff. Stuff I didn't know existed.
  A good chunk of the last several months has been ostrich living: do what I need to do but keep my head down. Obsessive knitting, gaming, or TV has filled the time when I wasn't at work or church or writer's group or Bible study. Unless I was blogging, I turned my brain off. It's a coping skill called numbing and has a long history in my life. It is a survival mechanism. I knew it wasn't healthy but was helpless to stop it. Now I know why I was doing these things.
  Being well is scary. The fear it will collapse simmers at the back of my mind every single day. Every day I wait for the depression and PTSD to rear their ugly heads.  I have been waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under me as it has so often in the past. That's why I turned off my brain. The rug is inside of me.
  The walls came tumbling down when I realized I was guarding my wellness with the ferocity of a cornered animal. It isn't pretty. I have been protecting my growing confidence, too, unwilling to let anyone or anything take that from me. That isn't pretty either. I'm sure there is an oath in there "No-one will ever hurt me again!" Maybe I didn't say it out loud, but it is there. Those words became the solid, dark, massive stone that is the foundation of my own rapidly growing walls. They were plastered with invisible notice boards, "Keep Out!"
  Thankfully the Lord has placed good friends in my life. Thanks for having the courage to speak up and for helping to destroy them before they got too big.
  Forgive me Father for my fears and help me live in vulnerability and openness trusting in Your plans for my life.
  "Pilate said to them, "You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how. So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard." Mat 27:65-66

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Freedom's Path by Susan L.

  Core beliefs are understandings about ourselves that impact how we think and how we behave. They can be positive or negative.
  How do I recognise a toxic core belief? I have learned to follow the trail that begins when I have a negative thought about myself, usually behind the word "too". For example, voicing the idea that I am too fat is only the tip of the iceberg. Underneath that idea is a whole cluster of other ideas, each connected to the other. 'I am too fat"= unattractive = a disgrace = weak = unmotivated = undeserving, and so forth...it can get rather complicated sometimes. "Un" words feature a lot.
  I have found at the centre of one of these clusters is a core idea, like a foul seed that all these other false understandings grow from. It always amazes me where they began. Echoes of childhood taunts  often feature. "Sticks and stones can break my bones and names, they hurt and haunt me."
  The devil loves to build on these ideas because there are so many open doors. Life lessons hammer home the same understandings time and again. The devil is not creative, he can only work with what is there.
  Undoing is God's gift. Uncovering is also in His realm. His "un" words are verbs, actions of His love, grace and ability to heal us. The freedom comes as I repent of believing these negative core ideas and in making the choice to forgive those who had helped create and sustain them. Some of the most harmful beliefs were packaged in generational baggage, passed down through the ages. My own attitudes about my gender stretched as far back as Eve!
  As for the weight thing, coupled with abandonment issues prayer had revealed, the Lord showed me that I thought myself unlovable. He's repaired my heart and mind. The "un" is gone. And that's where my journey started, with the breakthrough, life changing, idea that yes, yes and yes!  I am worth loving!
  And that's a core belief to treasure.
  "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man." Eph 3:16
 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Published by Susan L.

   It's cause for celebration. My first column was published in yesterday's local paper. I am a bit thunderstruck by the whole thing. Thanks go to God and the good woman eight years ago who spoke these words over me at a blessing circle, "You have a voice and it's worth listening to."
  I didn't believe her. How could I? My life, my marriage had taught me otherwise.
  But that was then, this is now. As I have worked my way through the past to find my identity, somehow my voice has showed up. As ungodly core beliefs were replaced by God's truth, it enabled me to begin opening up. They were the "truths" the world had driven home and I embraced them because they were lessons that repeated themselves time after time: beliefs that eroded my confidence, the understanding that I was worthless and was invisible. I was simply "just sue" and didn't matter. Trauma is a cruel teacher.
  Repentance, forgiveness: the tools of inward and outward healing. Coupled with a desire to change enables me to lay every single lie that has been discovered at the foot of the Cross. Many tears have been shed to help wash my soul clean. This is a work in progress. Ungodly core beliefs can be slippery devils.
  Old behaviours still pop up once in a while. The habits of a lifetime, the understandings of a lifetime are deeply ingrained. God is patient. He lovingly reminds me of His take on things.
  Now the challenge is learning when to be quiet because I regularly contract foot in mouth disease! A vocal hazard of humanity.
  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Mat 5:6

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Sadness of It All by Susan L.

  Several years ago in a deep prayer moment with my Lord, He allowed me to hear the cries of humanity; the tortured weeping of those crying out to Him. The terrible sound of desperate want and need was muted for my ears and lasted only a millisecond. That brief moment was all my human heart and mind could handle.
  I felt the Lord's anguish for us. I loved Him even more.
  It was a significant healing moment for me. It helped ease my distrust of people in general. It helped me realize that there are others who would understand and it was time for me to begin to share my own story. It was time to take a chance.
  All of us suffer. 
  We do awful things to each other.
  Yesterday was a day of listening for me. It was a day for others to open up and share their burdens, to gamble their own trust in another human. I am honoured by that trust and as I sit here typing, I weep for them, for what they've been through.
  My mother's heart wishes I had a magic wand. I wish I could give those gentle kisses we give childhood booboos that would make it all better. I wish...I wish it were that simple.
  "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Rev 21:4

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Childhood Favorites by Susan L.

  I needed to take some downtime last night from frantic, anxiety building Christmas preparations. I thought I'd search online for some sort of animated movie to watch. I enjoy them immensely. My son rolls his eyes at me and says my DVD collection should belong to a nine year old boy!  
  My hunt led me to two of my childhood favorites, stories that have stayed with me all of my life.  They had been Christmas specials when I was a child but had disappeared into thin air. Someone had posted them on YouTube a couple of years ago much to my delight!
  Both of them are stories by Oscar Wilde: The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant. They were both produced in the early seventies. The colour has faded a bit, but the artwork is stunning.
  I figured out why they were no longer put on TV. Both are terribly politically incorrect. Unless you are a Christian. Which is too bad because they are stories about love; about caring for those less fortunate. I don't want to reveal too much but they depict God's and Jesus' love for Their most precious possessions: us. Both are tales of redemption, God's greatest gift.
  My reaction to the shows was just as I remembered. My heart was filled a child's gratitude that there was a Something, a Someone much bigger than I watching over me. An ache filled my adult heart that once again drove home the fact that even though I lost sight of my Maker for a long, long time, He has never lost sight of me.
 The nights as a child when a swallow's death made me weep, when I would sing myself to sleep with the lullaby/prayer, "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" have been honoured. A thousand fold.
  "And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world." Jn 12:47 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

School Talk by Susan L.

  One of our local Catholic schools has the grade eights do a project on a local not-for-profit organization or charity. They research their subject and do a presentation. The class votes on the one they want to donate their annual fundraising activities to. Part of their assignment is to invite someone from the organization to speak to the grade seven and eights.
  A lovely young woman chose the Krasman Centre because mental health matters affect her personally. A co-worker and myself went to speak to the classes yesterday. They asked some great questions.
  For me, it isn't about the money. It was a wonderful opportunity to speak to these young men and women about mental health, peer support and recovery. It was an open door to sharing with them about the importance of reaching out if they are struggling. Hopefully, we were able to nip some prejudices and stereotyping in the bud.
  As we drove back to the centre and debriefed, both of us were pleased to have had this opportunity. I'd do it again in heartbeat! But here's a question, why isn't mental health part of our school curriculum? Sex ed, Canada's food guide and gym are mandatory. This should be, too if it already isn't in the schools. If a few health classes are devoted to talking about mental health and those classes save a life...cost shouldn't be a factor.
  Mental health can affect children as much as adults.
  "Then He spoke many things to them in parables, "Behold, a sower went out to sow." Mat 13:3
 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Direct Entry by Susan L.

 It feels a bit strange to skip the manual part of my blog experience. Up until now posts were written longhand first. One finger typing is so slow I wanted to be certain about what I was posting. It was easier than having to edit everything as each entry evolved. I'm not sure I like skipping that step. Maybe because of my age, pen and paper feel more personal. Or perhaps it can be called being slightly eccentric.
  There's a huge part of me that doesn't fully trust technology. It's probably because many years ago I saved all my favorite recipes onto floppy discs and threw my cookbooks out. I had decided to embrace the modern age. There was one for a pineapple upside-down cake made from scratch but cooked in the microwave. It was delicious! Needless to say, the disc technology is obsolete. So is the cake, sigh.
  Or maybe that's a good thing. A redemptive thing.
  When my marriage failed, I walked away with very little from the house. It was my choice to do so because I wanted a fresh start. There's only a few things I wish I had taken, sentimental objects more than anything like photos of when my children were little. As for the rest, the Lord has been faithful in providing for my needs every single day. And then some!
  Hmmm...Maybe there's a cake recipe online...
  "The Lord will answer and say to His people, "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them." Joel 2:19
 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

New Technology by Susan L.

  Sometimes when that still small Voice beckons, it's easy to ignore. Yesterday wasn't such a day. My friend H and I decided to go wandering around a couple of local antique markets. More for the pleasure of window shopping than anything else. I had debated not going because I have so much to do to get ready for Christmas. It didn't last long, my heart was filled with a sense of urgency. I absolutely had to go.
  Beside one of the massive antique markets is a flea market that is only open on weekends. I left H to meander around the antiques and began a quick perusal of the aisles. If you want a biker based t-shirt or a new purse, socks or bakery goodies, it is the ideal place to go. None of that interested me. On a side aisle was a booth displaying new and refurbished laptops.
  I stopped in my tracks. They were incredibly inexpensive compared to the new ones I had priced at a local computer store. The young man was very helpful and patient with me. I don't know much about this kind of thing so I was a bit wary. Flea market technology? Who knows what I'd end up with.
  The fellow I was talking to suggested I walk around a bit before deciding what to do. As I headed off to find H, the thought crossed my mind "It would be nice to talk with a previous customer to verify this business". With H at my side, I returned to the booth only to meet a man who had been dealing with them for years. He said that they were an amazing company and had always done right by him. They have been around since 1990. The fact that the owner had his home address and phone number on their business card tipped the deal.
  All of this is so "God"! I did get a laptop. Nothing fancy. More of a glorified typewriter that can hook up to my cell phone for the internet. So the big thing about all of this? No more blogging with one finger on my tiny cell phone keypad. Four hundred posts done that way was enough!
  Thank You Lord, for once again providing for the desires of my heart. You are so Awesome! And Thank You, too, for the stamina to get this far!
  "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, for He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant." Lk 1:46-49

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Outage by Susan L.

  The power was out for nearly four hours last night. An unusual event. It was long enough to warrant firing up my little generator to run the sump pump and a light upstairs. It isn't big enough to run the furnace so the house got a bit chilly.
  Thanks go to the hydro crews who were working outside in the frigid dark. They worked hard to get the thousand or so of us up and running as quickly as possible.
  The house was quiet without the TV nattering away. Almost too quiet. There's usually some form of white noise also. The furnace kicking in, the fridge, the water pump or sump. Even my water heater adds its own voice that I hear but don't. The silence throbbed last night and was more unnerving than the dark.
  I need to pray about this. I went a long time without watching TV. Now it's a constant when I am home. Yes, I am usually doing something else when it is on. Some form of hand work keeps me occupied. However, the blank screen rattled my cage and the fact I couldn't have it on stirred up a sense of loss. A sign that perhaps the black box is too big a piece of my life.
  "Therefore, my brethren, flee from idolatry." 1 Cor  10:14

Friday, 29 November 2013

Check In by Susan L.

  I was disappointed not to see my column in yesterday's paper, the last one of November. I know it is going to be published according to avaliable space but I'd hoped...
  If I get stuck driving behind a slow moving vehicle I tell myself there's a reason rather than get angry or frustrated. Maybe if I was going faster there's an accident that could take place further up the road. This is the same idea. It needs to  be surrendered to God for His divine timing. (Not that my little column will be involved in an accident unless it's used to paper train a puppy!) Perhaps there's a person out there who will read it at the exact moment they need to who might have missed it otherwise.
  And maybe, as I have asked the Lord to do in many prayers, it is His way of keeping me humble. This opportunity isn't only about seeing my name in print. Even if I am a bit surprised by the whole thing. I pray the words I write helps others.
  The Lord's Prayer says it all:
  "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory. Forever and ever. Amen" Mat 6:9-13

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Wonderland by Susan L.

  It's Christmas card perfect outside this morning. The sun is shining. Another generous snowfall has adorned everything. Even the Black Eyed Susans I failed to cut back are wearing white, British Beefeater hats.
  It was a slightly treacherous drive coming home from Bible study last night. I almost didn't go but am glad I did. One of the ladies who hadn't been at Church on Sunday shared a revelation. It was a visual image of how prayer creates a cloud of beautiful fragrance around us.
  Sunday's sermon by a visiting pastor was all about prayers. Part of it touched on how they are a sweet incense wafting up before God.
  I've had many thoughts or insights that had been penned in my journal confirmed by the Lord. It's important for me to know I am on the right track. To witness another receive His affirmation only deepens my own trust.
  If the Lord wants to enrich our lives with Him, He will livingly utilize anything, anyone to make sure we "get it". No matter where we are: home, work or at play. There is only one thing we need to do. Like a parent with a newborn babe who can hear their child's tiny cry over a vacuum cleaner, we need to be open and ever vigilant to hear our Lord.
  "And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice." 1 Kings 19:12

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

First Step by Susan L.

  A good chunk of yesterday was spent getting things tidied up. Going through the scattered reams of PREFER and other recovery papers was the start. Putting it all in labelled binders made me realize how much has been covered in the past couple of years. (And just how little I've retained!)
  During the sort and toss I came across some of my creative writing. It now has a home in its own binder. At some point I'll go through my journals to find the rest then it will all be together.
  My workshop downstairs needed looking after as well. The workbench had become a dumping ground for all sorts of things "to put away later". Later arrived. It's now ready to build some Christmas gift projects.
  There's still pockets of chaos. My computer desk that I never use, the kitchen table that is my desk, and the coffee table. That's got knitting paraphernalia that will tidy itself as more Christmas projects are completed.
  It has helped squash the mounting anxiety that usually accompanies any sort of "to-do list. I can't "to-do" until the space to do is tidy!
  "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever." Ps 138:8

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Moment by Susan L.

  It's a gray and white morning, overcast and windy judging from the swaying trees across the road. Their naked branches are rattling a winter rythmn I can hear inside. I'm wondering if the weekend's generous snowfall is here to stay. It looks beautiful and nicely hides the yard work that didn't get done.
  A flock of cardinals is flitting around out there. Their unbelievably brilliant red pops against the drab and leafless trees. I hear a blue jay screaming at them, its harsh voice grating; fingernails on a chalkboard.
  The hiss and burble of the kettle is a comforting sound, warming me against the chilly view out the kitchen window. Coffee goes down good on mornings like this.
  It's nice to do this once in a while, turn off my brain and savour the moment especially since I haven't done it lately.
  It's going to be a good day.
  "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor 1:1

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Anti-bullying Week by Susan L.

  Last week our local public broadcasting station, TVO, focused on the nature of bullying. During their children's programming they reached out and initiated a dialogue about it. Children called in with stories, advice on what to do if you're bullied and information about who to turn to.
  Many of our politicians have recognized the damage bullying can do. There have been several teen suicides directly linked to this terrible situation. Anti-bullying legislation has been initiated.
  I change the TV channel. To my dismay it was a broadcast of our House of Commons. It's a horrible display of cat calls, boos, banging tables, shouting to drown out someone who is  speaking, cheers when one of theirs "scores a point" against the opposition...Mob mentality: bullying at its ugliest.
  The best leaders lead by example. "Do as I say, not as I do" isn't good enough. If we want to end bullying, it's got to end at the top! If it isn't a behaviour we want in our children, bully tactics are even less acceptable in us.
  "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." Prov 4:23

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Humbled Ooops by Susan L.

  One of the lessons driven home last week was if you make a mistake, you own it. I'm owning it because I have committed a grand faux pas by jumping on the judgement soap box. Forgive me, Lord.
  Two days ago (Comfort and Joy) I came down hard on my fellow Christians about how they view forgiveness. I made a lot of assumptions about their personal walk with the Lord because it wasn't like mine. I confess I was angry because someone had the audacity to want me to conform to their ideas! It's no wonder we still have wars.
  I need to turn this over to God because I know many of our hurts are just plain too big to be healed this side of heaven.
  The Lord has blessed us with the ability to say, "I forgive" again and again. Whenever we feel ill will towards another.
  This simple yet often difficult choice is more than the password getting us in to heaven. These words are a demonstration of God's grace and love.
  As for heart healing it was something I needed to do personally because of my challenges of depression and PTSD. Medications have helped with the physical aspect, God looked after my soul.
  Today's blog showed me something else. I have a huge problem with authority. Fill me with grace and patience, my Lord, when I bump in to leaders whose ideas don't quite mesh with mine. Help me learn from them. Help me discern when, just like me, our humanness gets in the way! In Jesus name, amen.
  "I, therefore, prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." Eph  4:1

Friday, 22 November 2013

Revisiting Evolution by Susan L.

  No, this isn't a Darwinian debate. I had a one-on-one with the art therapist who comes to the centre. She had kept a photographic record of the art I produced in session. Her photos went back three years.
  First of all it's hard to believe how much time has passed. A lot of it is a blur. Cycles of struggling. Cycles of feeling better. Recovery is not a straight line journey.
  The final piece was initially an exploration of Native culture. It contained a drawn feather with the silhouettes of a howling wolf and of a bear. I had drawn the feather as a quill penning a big question mark.
  Seeing this picture with fresh eyes last night I realized it was strangely prophetic.
  My first column for the Alliston Herald was accepted with no changes: the quill. The howling wolf: a lone voice seeking to change the perceptions of mental health. The bear represented passion and determination. I guess it was a mama bear.
  Writing about it this morning has given me closure. I feel the page turning in Heaven as once again I surrender my future to God.
  "I was brought low, and He saved me. Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." Ps 116:6-7

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Comfort and Joy by Susan L.

  I struggle with the ideas held by many in Christian circles about matters of the heart. It grieves me when God's command to forgive is only about what rolls off our tongue. It breaks my heart to see the pain that shadows the minds and faces of wonderful people. Sadness leaves a mark.       Religious obedience stifles true healing. Stating forgiveness ends up being a broom that sweeps everything under the rug.
  As a parent, when my children hurt, it hurts me. Bandaids, ozonol, and ice packs are tokens of love.
  As a friend, when a friend hurts, I listen to them. I honour what they have been through in this often cruel world. I know that a willingness to share is a step into wellness and healing.
  In being honest with God about my feelings I knew it is only through His Divine power that my heart would be healed. He continues to do His work in my life, a process that will last until the day He takes me home.
  My honest confessions have also built trust and an intimicy with Him that is like no other. I can tell Him anything. All of us can. He's got big shoulders.
  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort." 2 Cor 1:3

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Hopes by Susan L.

  PREFER was a pilot, four year program. We are currently seeking sustained funding so this awesome program can keep on going. It has to!
  I've just gone and volunteered myself to facilitate December's meeting. I want to give all members the opportunity to share what PREFER means to them. Even my volunteering speaks volumes about how good the program is. The plan is to put together some type of video to compliment the written request.
  Peer Recovery Education for Employment and Resiliency has done do much for me in building confidence, awareness and self knowledge. Throughout the past year and a half I've been blessed to witness other's incredible growth.
  The men and women who have become part of my life inspire me. Watching seeds of hope explode fills my heart with joy. Seeing amazing people who were once crushed and demoralized by the medical system rise above the abusive nature of psychiatric medicine is astounding and encouraging.
  The best thing of all for me is now I am better equipped to give back in a healthy and sustainable way. That is what it's all about.
  "To Him who led His people through the wilderness, for His mercy endures forever." Ps 136:16

Monday, 18 November 2013

One Word by Susan L.

  Last week's training placed a huge emphasis on language. There are a couple of words that from now on I hope to erase from my vocabulary because they can be so damaging.
  The first one is "you" or "ewe statements" I've decided to call them. The moment that advisory word leaves my lips it means I know best. It means I am asking/demanding someone else to conform to how I believe their life should be. Usually that means "just like mine" as though somehow my life is better than theirs! Sooooo not true!
  Mind you, (ha-ha) a "you" compliment is never wasted.
  During role play, someone dumped a mountain of you's on me. It left me feeling angry and inadequate but worst of all it squashed hope. I remember thinking, "what's the point? I'll never be able to do all they say, there's too much wrong with me!"
  I'm glad it was role play and I was able to share my feelings later with that person. Just part of the learning curve.
  For me, it's all about wiping judgemental, conformist language from my lips. Lord, help me!
  "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not concider the plank in your own?" Mat 7:3

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Adrift by Susan L.

The calm yesterday after the past busy weeks had me feeling a bit lost and lonely.
The woman I have travelled with over the past year and a half is amazing.
  Guaranteed at some point in the early morning, we would share a good laugh. Usually over something silly. It was a wonderful way to start the day. I missed that this morning.
  I am struggling with some grief, too.
  Our classes were held in a small chapel at a United Church. An altar and large crucifix dominated the west wall.
  Stories were shared about the damage caused by people of faith, by religious doctrine. Stories were shared about how the cross triggered sad and terrible feelings of unworthiness and shame. The most common theme was one of feeling unacceptable and inadequate, simply not good enough for church "society".
  What are we, as Christians, really saying about Christ's love?
  The caretaker of the church locked the doors at three, "To keep out the riffraff" he said. A comment that broke my heart.
  Oh, my Lord, forgive us.
  "When Jesus heard it, He said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." Mk 2:17

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Good To Be Back by Susan L.

I've missed doing my bit of writing. The early days, long drives, the incredible amount of material learned, the busyness meant a tired that demanded a 9:30 bedtime. Cause for celebration? You bet! I am now a trained WRAP facilitator and a graduate of the PREFER program. (Peer Recovery Education for Employment and Resiliency) This means a lot to me but more importantly is I am able to give back in a healthy and sustainable way. Becoming a facilitator drove home the value that lay within my own WRAP plan. WRAP, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, wasn't written by "experts" or doctors in the mental health field. It was designed by everyday people. Mary Ellen Copeland wrote WRAP after she and a group of people with lived experience in mental health got together. Recovery is not a word traditional models of treatment ever use. But it was happening. Ms. Copeland put the pieces together. The concept of the Wellness Recovery Action Plan is taking the world by storm. It has been translated into thirteen languages, including Braille. Pastors, police, first responders and many other high stress occupations have also utilized WRAP. To quote my instructor, "It's more than a plan, it's a way of life." The scientific medical community have researched the impact of WRAP on people living with mental health issues. The results set the medical establishment on its ears. It works. It works well. Hope and empowerment. They go a long way. To learn more go to: www.cultureofrecovery.com "For I hope to see you on my journey." ROM 15:24

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day by Susan L.

One scorching hot summer's day I pulled in to my local gas station. There were three or four olive drab jeeps parked by the pumps. There were half a dozen fully armed soldiers seated in them. It took me by surprise and made me a bit nervous. It was a rare sight that felt very intimidating. Nevertheless, I filled my car with gas and went inside to pay. There were a few more soldiers inside filling the kiosk with green. The sergeant, a stereotypical older man who was built like a bulldog, stood back from the counter. He allowed me to go ahead with a polite, "Ma'am, we're still making decisions." As I exited I noticed one of the young soldiers in the back of a jeep. He casually held his rifle in the crook of his arm while he savoured the icy cold of a giant Freezie. The oddity made me smile yet it struck me just how young he was. There's so much to be thankful for in this great country. Where seeing armed soldiers is rare. Where our borders are safe. Where young soldiers can still be boys. Where we can preach, teach, write, vote, work, shop, travel freely, create, go to school, get medical attention...where soldiers and civilians can rub shoulders in peace. "Lest We Forget" who payed the price for those freedoms. God bless those who serve and who have served. "And You, child will be called the Prophet of the Highest...to guide our feet into the way of peace." Lk 1:76 & 79

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Slippery Slope by Susan L.

Every time I have done more training, my eyes and ears are opened to the slippery slope of judgements. It is so ingrained in us and our society, it's a difficult mind set to overcome. Even my well meant post on Facebook yesterday was a judgement. It was about Mr. Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, who was videoed smoking crack cocaine. After denying he'd done this for several weeks, he admitted a couple days ago to having smoked it. He said it had taken place in one if his "drunken stupors". Mr. Ford has been slammed by the media. Nightly talk shows have mocked him. Enough is enough! On Facebook, I called us Christians to pray for him, that he'd "get the help he needs". The media's judgemental statements are blatantly obvious. My comment is also terribly judgemental. First of all, I assumed Mr. Ford has a problem with alchohol. I assumed he would need help. I judged him a lesser man if he doesn't do the things I feel "right". I assumed his ability to so his job as mayor is impaired because of his choices. I denied him the right to make those choices. Assumption is the backside of judgement. Yes, I am sad about the situation. Mr. Ford appears to be a deeply troubled man. Who knows what haunts him, what drives him to drink himself into a stupor. Lord, he is Your child. Lead him where you see fit and bless him with the strength to follow. Amen. "Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips." PS 141:3

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Significance by Susan L.

It's a very special day for me. This day in 2004 was the day I came to the Lord. It was a terrible time. A time of madness. Thankfully the Lord had placed people in my life who I could turn to that bleak and desperate day. That morning I found the amazing Something my heart and soul had yearned for my entire life. Houses, cars, work, hobbies, TV, books, the things I'd filled my life with couldn't save me that day. I confess it wasn't an easy choice. The devil spun his bleak and tuneless song: unworthy, guilty, prejudice, shame, ignorance, mistrust, doubt, suspicion...Eventually he ran out of words as the Lord waited patiently for me to accept His Son as my Saviour. I gambled on God. There was nothing left to lose. I had nothing left to enable me to face another day. Rock bottom. But my stumbling prayers of asking forgiveness and invitation to Jesus were honoured. Light swept away the darkness before my eyes. The sorrowful, heartbreaking burden of my ex-husband's infidelity lifted off my shoulders. Tomorrow seemed possible. I know I'd never have made it through the past nine years without Him. Yes, in the days and months swallowed by the depths of depression and suicidal thoughts I often lost sight of Him. The best part? Is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that He never lost sight of me. I will never be alone again. "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide in you forever---the Spirit of truth...for He dwells with you and will be in you."Jn 14:16-17

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Discoveries by Susan L.

Every time I attend a PREFER training, it opens my eyes to view things differently. Most of yesterday's group was about resumee writing and cover letters. It opened a door that enabled us to look beyond the lack of "official experience". It showed us how to look into life experience and find the hidden skills and strengths benefitial to a potential employer. I have some homework, beginning my own resume. I just needed to take a few moments to ground myself. There are some feelings of being overwhelmed about writing it. The good thing is I can ask for Help. And I am! "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us." Eph 3:20

Monday, 4 November 2013

Training and Travel by Susan L.

I'm having a hard time focusing this morning. Never mind some technical difficulties. The next two weeks will involve commuting into the city at rush hour. That's a good thing because it means I will have completed my PREFER training. Blog posts may be sporadic as a result. "Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to the words of wisdom." Prov 23:12

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Born Again Virgin by Susan L

Someone asked what that was. Perhaps I can try and explain. It's all Christ's doing. First of all, virginity is far more than a physical state. Although I am sure God in His infinite power could mend that in a flash if need be. Secondly, what does a virgin look like, stereotypes aside? More importantly, what does it feel like to be virginal? This is where the "born again" comes in. In Christ, through His blood and grace, we are washed clean of sin; made pure and holy. He is the great Restorer. It's a question in keeping with the last two posts. For the child who had no say as he or she was introduced to adult experiences far beyond their years. For the youth who carelessly threw away that which is most precious, perhaps as a result of childhood lessons. For the person who is divorced, widowed, alone. This is God's gift to them through His forgiveness and our own ability to then forgive. Born again virginity is being able to capture an innocence which was lost or stolen. It is being able to approach new relationships in Christ without feeling "tainted" by past, worldly experiences. It is about being in the place where we can acknowledge the sanctity of the body, the precious gift of intimacy. It is the place where we can approach relationships in the full knowledge of our worth. It is the place of understanding that the uniting of a man and a woman is acceptable before God. It is a place of utmost high regard for God and our partner. Born again virginity means we have a chance to experience all of this with maturity. We walk unencumbered by our past. It's all in the head, the heart, and our spirit renewed. "By which you have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 1 Pet 1:4

Modestly Speaking by Susan L.

I'm going to add another comment to yesterday's discussion about dress. In some cultures anything less than a Burka is coincidered provocative. Yet again, it places the onus on the woman to be responsible for the reactions of men towards their sexuality. I hear Adam talking to God, "I had to eat the apple...she gave it to me!" Nevertheless, God dressed both of them. Carefully and tenderly He wrapped them in clothes made of animal skin because they were naked and ashamed. Perhaps He had a tear in His eye at the loss of innocence. Therein lies the issue. Our sexuality, our gender, the fundamental foundation of who we are is objectified; sold down the river for a razor promotional. It's everywhere and does not discriminate between men or women or sadly, and increasingly: children. How do we restore the essence of chastity AND chivalry into our society? How do we instill a sense of personal value that empowers us to make healthy choices? The point being in North American society: we are all coincidered disposable. Something that is as easily tossed aside as the packaging around a pound of hamburger. Abuse in any way, shape or form simply confirms that concept and drives that terrible lesson into every fabric of our being. Just as hurting people hurt people, when we believe we're disposable, we treat ourselves and others the same way. We simply don't know anything better until the Lord intervenes and clothes us anew. "Jesus wept." Jn 11:35

Friday, 1 November 2013

Change of Pace by Susan L.

WARNING: THE CONTENTS MAY BE UPSETTING TO SOME READERS. I had written something this morning but had no time to post it. God's divine hand looking after my needs. I need to write or what happened will haunt me all weekend. The big guns were fired this afternoon. A comment was made about a young female trick or treater who was out last night with a group of boys. I gather her costume enhanced her femininity but what was said both shocked and grieved me. "She's just asking to be raped." I am struggling not to judge the speaker, a woman. God help me, please! Those hateful, careless words pierced my heart on behalf of all who have experienced sexual exploitation in any of its hideous forms. The devil's lie absolves abusers of their actions and choices. In fact it is actually a twisted stamp of approval. "Truly, they couldn't help themselves. Look at what she was wearing!" It's easier to blame the victim rather than believe a person could do something so terrible to another. I don't think I've ever heard those hurtful words directed at any of the brave men who have dared to come forward about their own terrible experiences. There are statistics. 99.9% of the time the abusers have themselves been abused.I try not to judge the choices they have made. Hurting people hurt people. It's sometimes that complicatedly simple. "Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven, and whatever blasphemies they may utter." Mk 3:28

Thursday, 31 October 2013

World Rocking by Susan L.

The Krasman Centre is doing up a strategic plan. Consultants have been hired to draft the directions which will guide us to where we want to be in five years. Our staff meeting yesterday was an opportunity for us to share our ideas with them. It's wonderful to know I am part of a unique and amazing organization. It's good to hear how we are highly respected throughout the mental health field. At least, the centre in Toronto is. Ours, in a small town, not so much. We're still battling ancient attitudes and prejudices surrounding mental illness. Attitudes I confess I once held myself about "those people". We have a long way to go. As much as I want to take a sledge hammer to knock some sense into our local health services and the public at large, I am one of "those people". It probably wouldn't go over very well. One thing we're thinking of doing is to put a monthly column about mental health in our local paper. Written by yours truly. One letter at a time can begin mighty changes. "And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient." 1 Ti 2:24

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Haunted by Susan L.

This isn't some Halloween story about spooks or monsters. It's about the ghosts that haunt my local, rural hospital. It's haunted by memories of visits past. I spent about half an hour in the waiting room waiting for a friend to come out of day surgery. Time compressed and vanished as unpleasant memories kept nibbling at my mind. Memories amplified by the trauma of losing my mind, of being sick and so utterly desperate for help. Suicidal even. It's why I went to the hospital. The first time, the staff were amazing. Gentle, caring and compassionate. After that, not so much even though an entire year had passed before I found myself once again in such desperate need. They had no patience for "repeat customers". That's ssd because I know now that at least eighty percent of my troubles were due to medication side effects. Suicidal ideology included. So today the ghosts have gathered. They can't hurt me. I acknowledge them and pay homage to the place I was in several years ago. With a grateful heart I lay it all at the Lord's feet. I'm heading out to the centre. Being with people is what I need today. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand." 1 Cor 15:1

Monday, 28 October 2013

Sunrise by Susan L.

It's a rare thing for me to be getting up while it's still dark. I headed out early to help a friend. I'm glad because living snugly tucked into a river valley I don't get to see morning splendour very often. In keeping with the overcast and rainy fall yet another solid bank of rain clouds lay to the west. To the east a spectacular burst of colours celebrated the coming day. Patches of blue began to peek through the fast moving clouds. They are racing south, joining with morning commuters flocking into Toronto. This year's fall has been odd. Not the typical single hard frost that clothes the trees in glory seemingly overnight. Some trees are November naked while others are still dressed in tattered and belaboured green. I am getting my snow tires put on today. Just in case the powers that Be decide to plop winter on us. The first two weeks of November have me taking part in the daily city-bound migration, it's best to be prepared. (PREFER training) Summer tires and snow are not a good combination. "For the kingdom of heaven is like a man travelling to a far country." Mat 25:14

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Graduates by Susan L.

I shared a wonderful dinner with my youngest son and daughter-in-law. We had some laughs, some remembrances, some meaty conversations. One of the topics was the lack of jobs for our young people graduating from postsecondary schools. Most of my son's class isn't working in their field but at minimum wage retail jobs. There is something wrong. There's an expectation in our young people that an education will guarantee a good job with a six figure salary. Those are far and few between. As parents we have done them a grave disservice. In driving home the rhetoric that school=wealth we have misrepresented the truths of how businesses actually works. It takes time and dedication to build a career. Part of this is our society's mind set which demands instant gratification. Press a button, it's done in seconds. We haven't taught our children patience. Just looking at the mountain of debt our young people are carrying further affirms this idea. Money was borrowed to get that degree/diploma today! The idea of working and saving seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird. Debt isn't just the domain of the young. It's rife in our North American society. We want, we get and ignore the long term consequences of cumulating debt. "Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken." Gen 3:23

Saturday, 26 October 2013

More Humanity Ponderings by Susan L.

My life with the Lord began nearly nine years ago. My very first prayer was "Lord, teach me to be human." My life, up to receiving Jesus as my Saviour, had been one of robotic survival. In the ensuing discovery of "self" I have discovered the Lord waiting at every turn-a-bout, every crossroads, every blind hill. He has guided my mind and pen through many journals. We slowly uncovered the lies that had kept me shackled to the empty life I once led. A Bible word study was where it began. "Woman". Can't get more basic than gender. As a victim of chronic abuse, I hated being the "weaker sex". My eyes and heart were opened by this slow and methodical search through chapter and verse. Amazingly, I found that there's so much to celebrate about being a woman. First and foremost we women are the receivers and bearers of life. It is why we were physically designed this way. We also hold within our bodies the ability to sustain life as any nursing mother knows at around three A.M. Our design makes us special and yes, terribly vulnerable. But, what a gift! In saying that, having children does not define us. It's the essence of that ability which really counts. The nurturing, life bearing nature of woman simply shows up elsewhere. It is unquenchable. Where and what this looks like is beyond my understanding. Each of us is unique and special in God's eyes. Gender is only one tiny piece of who we truly are. "And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living." Gen 4:20

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Sixth Day by Susan L.

One of our discussions at Bible study circled around what gets in the way of our faith. The first answer in a list of many stumbling blocks was our humanity. We need to be careful. What happens when we fear and dislike our humanness? The part that inevitably lands us in hot water. The part that has us follow innumerable bunny trails in our search for perfection or happiness. A search that will inevitably end up with us falling on our knees. Can you imagine life as Dr. Spock from the old Star Trek TV series? Cold, analytical, unfeeling. Can you imagine a life without laughter? I sure can't although there was a long and terrible stretch when laughter was a rare and precious thing. Without our humanness, there's no need for God. If we hold our humanity in contempt, there's no room for Grace. We sit as judge and jury over any signs of "weakness" in others and ourselves. Where is our understanding of weakness defined? Is it from our families, our schools, the media, our culture...our church? And I am as guilty of judgement as anyone. It is an insidious, slippery foe. But I am learning. I have a great Teacher who has filled my life with wonderful role models. "But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." He 11:6

Thursday, 24 October 2013

What's Next? by Susan L.

"What's next?" I ask and then realize it's a question loaded with anxiety. It's a question that tears away the wonderful peace of living in the present. Mind you, it's merely being curious as well. A good trait when the Holy Spirit leads and guides the seeking mind. It's an honest question, a human one, that doesn't necessarily need an answer. It would be nice, though, to have one. Guaranteed there will be changes. I just need to keep reaffirming the knowledge of Who is in truly control. It sure isn't me! Okay. This keeps surprising me. This bumping into musings on the future. It is still very foriegn. As I've said before clinical depression robs us of the ability to even imagine there is a tomorrow. I was depressed for a long, long time. As far back as I can remember. Maybe a good chunk of having this gift is what to do with the uncertainty about what may be. For me, I think the best thing is to snuggle into the arms of the Lord. Trusting in His plans, His desires, His presence which will always be there. No matter what may come. "To God our Saviour, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen." Jude 1:25

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

South Paw by Susan L.

This might be a bit of a rerun or a recap of one of the most pivotal moments in my travels along the Black River. I did an exercise several years ago, long after I had read the book "Homecoming" by John Bradshaw. It was the only thing I retained from the entire book; the only reason I am sure it ended up in my hands. It took some time to gather the courage needed to begin. The exercise involved writing with my non-dominant hand. In my case, the left. This exercise actually taps into a different part of our brains. Just as Mr. Bradshaw warns, I'll do the same: please, have a support network or person in place before trying this exercise. It can be challenging. Even heart wrenching. Yet, at the same time, it is fascinating to see what is revealed. The childish printing gave me an opportunity to listen and discover my "inner child", a concept I had once arrogantly pooh-poohed. She had a lot to say. Seven pages worth. It opened my heart as I read her story, my story, unbridled of punitive and harsh adult "codes". Those rules and judgements ingrained that corrupted how I saw the world and myself. I allowed her to share without placing my adult knowledge and perspective on what she had to say. I admit that was tough. The scrawling letters helped me remain a listener. There were a lot of really ugly attitudes. God has forgiven me for these prideful understandings and for the self hate they birthed. It's good to remember the grace of God. "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore the eye is good, your whole body will be full of light." Mat 6:22

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

In Short by Susan L.

I don't feel much like writing. My head is still full of magical moments from the weekend. Memories to savour and replay time and again: my grandson's toothy grin when he saw me with his dad after school on Friday. Watching him play and listening to the fantastical imagination he has where boats fly and cars go on the ocean. And my beautiful grand daughter... smiling as she stumbled over my name, "Na..Na...Ooooo!" She still plays shy but that's okay. Hearing her say my name is beyond worth. Yah. Simple treasures. "Oh, that man would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men." Ps 107:8

Monday, 21 October 2013

Open Roads by Susan L.

It's about three and a half hours of driving time to get to my son's home. Going down on Friday was a visual feast. Dark and broken rain clouds left just enough room for the sun to pierce through. "Jacob's Ladders" I've heard these sunbeams called. They randomly set on fire the glorious colours of autumn. Dry, rusty brown fields of canola gleaned like brass. The yet to be harvested acres of corn shone like fine gold. Trees, robed in oranges and yellows, exploded against the shadows cast by glimmering slate gray clouds. On my way home yesterday I pulled off my route to follow a short road that led to Lake Huron. I'd been wanting to check it out for a while. For the first time the weather cooperated. I couldn't resist. The gravelled and pot hole filled lane ended at a steep bluff. The lake was furious, wind driven whitecaps dotted its surface as far as the eye could see. I am always awed by the size of this deep, blue and green lake. A narrow strip of beach was about three stories below. Wind driven waves thundered against the rock strewn sands with a roaring like the ocean surf. There were other people around so I gingerly scrambled down the steep and slippery embankment to the beach. Clumps of grass served as hand holds as I carefully planned my next step. I shook my head at this foolishness but couldn't resist walking by the water. I didn't stay long. The wind had icy fingers. Scrambling up again left me a bit breathless and images of broken limbs had teased me until I was safely at the top. The piece of brown "sea glass" stashed in my pocket made it all worthwhile. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." Jn 1:3

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Weary by Susan L.

The last couple of weeks are catching up. Whirlwind busy (for me) and emotional...what?..elation? Peace? Relief? Joy? All really wonderful stuff (thank You, Lord!) but intense. All this has taken a toll on my energy level. Toss in today's early start and I am done in. It feels good though, this "tired", because a night's sleep should fix it. Normally my health is good but I've got a now familiar inner ear thing going on. It happens with some regularity. I must have squishy brains or something! Spinning rooms and wobbly walls make for great entertainment. Who needs a roller coaster? I've learned not to move my head too fast, though, then it's not too bad. It is probably contributing to my fatigue but all I can do is let it run its course. I plan on an early night anyways. Tommorow I head out to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and grand babies for the weekend...a late Thanksgiving and a very important fourth birthday. Wouldn't miss it for the world. See you next week! "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord." Ps 127:3

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Sunday Soloist by Susan L.

The young woman began her song. Her voice was so lovely it sent shivers down my spine. I couldn't tell you what she sang. The words didn't matter. I was lost in her voice and hearing music beyond what was being sung: the proverbial fifth note of the barbershop quartet. My imagination ran wild as I listened and madly penned my impressions on the church bulletin. "The angels drew back the clouds so the sweet voice of worship could reach the heavens. Like a rainbow of colours unimaginable, the notes rose. Swirling, sparkling, shining: a luminous, living, breathing song." I could sense the angels leaning on their elbows, looking down and listening. As the song rose past them to the Lord, a soft and delighted smile was on their faces. They fully enjoyed this beautiful and worshipful performance. Thank You, Lord, for allowing me to witness a most private and intimate moment between You and Your daughter. "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels." Heb 12:22