Saturday, 31 August 2013

More Simplicity by Susan L.

There's something wonderful about sliding up into wakefullness on a damp and gray Saturday morning. There's nowhere I need to be, nothing that needs to be done with any urgency. Household chores await. That's all. With a song in my heart, "The Power of Love", a cat to cuddle, I lay there a while enjoying the moment. I pondered on the awesome grace of God, grateful for His presence in my life. I lived a long time without that awareness. My forty years in the wilderness. Now I have it, I'll never let it go. Being lonely and being alone are two separate things. I've felt alone especially in my marriage. It's a sad and frightening place to be. I am thankful. That time in my life gave me many valuable skills but most of all because of those empty years I am able to appreciate a life lived in the fullness of Christ: the joy of simply being God's child and the joy of connection. When my humanity slips, like yesterday, the Lord is oh, so forgiving. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." Ps 46:7

Friday, 30 August 2013

Whine and Cheese by Susan L.

So I've worked three days in a row holding the fort mostly on my own. Being "on" is exhausting and stretches my resources quite a bit. I am thankful my job is in a fun and supportive environment. Five days of poor sleep because of an icky sticky heat wave hasn't helped. The muggy air is getting to me. Tonight I am glad it's threatening rain or I'd be out sweating and mowing the lawn. It needs it but it can wait a bit longer. Yah, it waits, it gets longer! Hopefully the rain will break the heat. I will say I have been feeling lonely this last little while. Maybe it's because there's been a fair bit of social activity. Pumpkin isn't much of a conversationalist. His comments are rather monosyllabic. Right now he's doing the cat thing by watching the goldfinches at the birdfeeder. Forget quality time with me! Cranky, hot and tired. Maybe it's a good thing I live alone! "And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority." Acts 1:7

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Whew! by Susan L.

It has been an exhilarating day. A good appointment with my therapist who helped me wade through some of the understandings about "normal" life. Work was awesome. Busy but not unmanageable just lots of people popping in and out. It is a drop in centre after all! I am on lunch duty tomorrow which means another early start. The Krasman Centre offers a community lunch every Thursday for anyone and everyone. I rarely have to do the cooking so I don't mind at all. Ir's nice to create a meal for more than just myself once in a while. It's been a great day of feeling blessed and of paying it forward by (hopefully) blessing others. Like I said, a good day. "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden: and it grew and became a large tree." Lk 13:19

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Anniversary Blog by Susan L.

Today is a milestone day. The first entry of "God and the Black River" was a year ago today. Hard to believe although the number of pens which have been written dry gives testimony to that fact. I've gone through a couple of spiral bound notebooks as well. I guess this confirms my identity as a writer, too! (Big smile!) Thank You, Lord, for filling me with the words to write, for filling me with the perseverance to do this. I am so grateful that You showed me about balance and that it was okay not to write every day. Thank You for the lessons I have learned about You, about life, about Your Word. Thank You for making the Bible current and applicable to this twenty-first century. There's an even greater gratitude for the answered prayer that I find a way to get my nose into the Bible more often! Thank You for the bumps of this past year. And the joys. And the average days. They are nice, too. The wake up song this morning was "How Great Is Our God". Amen to that!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Confirmation by Susan L.

Church was most enjoyable. I'm glad I went. The sermon affirmed yesterday's blog. That is important to me, that my understandings and ideas about the Lord and faith are solidified by another source. It surprises me where these confirmations come from; anything and everything. Nature, TV, art, music, a book, a friend. All it takes is to be alert and aware so I hear God's voice speaking to me in a way I will be sure to understand. Sometimes it's a whisper. Sometimes it rings through loud and clear. It is about being open and receptive to instruction because sometimes I am waaaay off base. Good thing the Lord is patient and forgiving. "But new wine must be put into new wine skins." Mk 2:22

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Jesus Connections by Susan L.

One of the greatest treasures I have come to love are those moments, those few seconds, when we can relate personally to the life of Jesus: His pain, His suffering and His joy. That was there, too! There doesn't seem to be rhyme or reason behind these flashes of insight. It's a mystery to me. Yesterday was such a day. As I wrote about wrapping our hurts in a blanket, the image of the infant Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes leapt up. It was a moment of heart connection. It's been a while since I've had one of these precious moments. It feels like my life has gotten off track. Busy...busy...and busier. Which is silly. I am right where I'm supposed to be. It's the human part that is being poked by the idea I "SHOULD BE DOING MORE!!!". I continue to wake up with a song in my heart. This morning it was "Holy! Holy! Holy" by Hillsong. Thank You, Lord for such a beautiful wake up call. I think I'll try going to church today. "But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified."." Mat 28:5

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Rocking Chairs and Blankies by Susan L.

I have an ornamental wooden rocking chair all of sixteen inches high sitting by my pond. Designed for a small plant pot, my granddaughter's tiny diapered bottom fit into it just right. She wore a huge grin as she sat, watching the waterfall and rocked last weekend. Now, every time I go out to feed the fish I see her in my mind's eye. It brings a smile to my face and heart. This is what it's about. Making new memories that act as a healing blanket to wrap old wounds, old hurts so they can be carefully and lovingly tucked away. All our scars, injuries and bruises belong to God and deserve kindness and compassion. It's one more step in the recovery/discovery of how life is meant to be. "The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old." Prov 8:23

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Children's Shows by Susan L.

I confess. I watch children's TV. Particularly the educational programs on our local public broadcasting station. Afternoon TV such as soaps or talk shows don't interest me. The TV is on more for company anyways. It's nice to be able to relate to my grandson. We had some fun riding a "Dinosaur Train" after lining up my patio chairs. He was amused and amazed I knew all about it! However, there's one particular show and I suppose it is a common theme that has been utilized since the inception of public entertainment. This one show struck me how it enforces that it is okay to lie to parents and grownups. Okay. Even the "Narnia" series has the element of us, children, and them, everyone else. Children learn early about keeping secrets. That might not be a good thing. How do we, as adults, teach them about being open and candid when the media bombards them with the opposite lesson? "As a lion is eager to tear his prey,and like a young lion lurking in secret places." Ps 17:12

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Crickets by Susan L.

After finishing yesterday's blog I realized what was part of August's challenges and why it affects my mood. Crickets. Their cheerful chatter is/has been a major trigger bringing to mind the ghosts of Augusts past. It was this time of year in 2007 that I was terribly sick. I'd been fighting a deep and debilitating cough since February, what I now know was masked depression. Unable to work, not sleeping, the world got unbearably loud. Crickets sounded like they were the size of Volkswagens. Trucks on the road roared through my head making me jump and wince. Crickets stir up the memory of my mind slipping sideways. My body, too, remembers how everything was surreal and blindingly bright. I remember the bone aching exhaustion. I made trip after trip to the doctor's, to the hospital. Nothing was helping the cough that felt like it was coming from my toes. My family doctor realized at last that I was suffering from depression and prescribed a medication that he believed would help. They helped me sleep for a while although the cough persisted for another two months. In October, I landed in a mental health facility as my struggles to find the right meds began. "When I lie down I say 'When shall I arise, and the night be ended?' For I have had my fill of tossing till dawn." Job 7:4

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Dog Days by Susan L.

It finally arrived: the last hurrah of summer heat. One thing I've noticed this August is a lack of feeling 'blue'. Normally as the days get shorter it affects my mood. I end up feeling depressed. What's different this year? I am working. Something I look forward to and it eases financial concerns. I have a pet who helps keep me in the present. Fuzzy love goes a long way. There's no veggies to take care of: freezing or preserving. That's a biggie. Except black currants. Those I tossed in the freezer. The jam can wait. Will there be anxious days ahead? Will I struggle? Will winter be difficult? God knows. I don't. Today I am going to enjoy the cricket song, the heat and the rest of a relaxing afternoon. "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth." Ps 25:10

Monday, 19 August 2013

Good Days by Susan L.

It's not often I walk around with a big smile on my face every day but for the last two and a half, I did exactly that. It was nice to have my son, his partner and my grandchildren stay "camping" at Nanasue's. The copious amount of mosquitoes made it truly authentic. My nearly four year old grandson was utterly thrilled with my dollhouse and played with it as often as he could. My eighteen month old granddaughter was overjoyed to splash outside in a large plant saucer filled with water and an armful of rubber duckies. Bonfires, picnic and a barbeque, fresh corn on the cob, sunshine and giggles, snuggles and kisses. There were a lot of precious memories formed this weekend. Thank You, Lord. I am richly blessed. "Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is with those who uphold my life." Ps 54:4

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Social Disorder by Susan L.

As I cleaned up the garbage that had been dumped near the main door of the Krasman centre: bags, household items and cigarette butts cast off from the apartments above, it raised a question. When did we adults: parents, teachers, community members stop teaching our children respect and concideration for others? This was a light cleanup. Previously there have been mattresses, broken furniture, as well as bags of household waste piled near our door. The township cleaned up a particularly huge pile after we called and complained. The landlord wasn't honouring our request to have it removed. We gave him plenty of time. The situation has been chronic. Tenant after tenant has used the area near our door as a dump.Most of them are in the twenty to thirty age range except the landlord. This brings me back to my original question. Somewhere along the line we failed our children. Our lease is up this fall. Please pray that we find a new location that meets all our needs. Financially, parking, and inside. Thank you. "You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?" Rom 2:21

Friday, 16 August 2013

Pleasant Days by Susan L.

My son and his family are coming to "Nanasue's Campground" this weekend. I am so excited to have my grandchildren up! Lots of plans: picnic, barbeque, corn on the cob, fishing, topped off with bonfires and toasted marshmallows. It is supposed to be beautiful weather for the next several days which is wonderful. They are setting up their tent somewhere in the yard to make it an authentic camp experience. The smell of bug repellent will fill the air. Ah, memories. My two older children had plenty of camping experiences when they were young. My youngest unfortunately didn't. We were tied to the farm and rarely went anywhere for more than a few hours. I am sorry he missed out on one of the best things in life. I am sorry I missed out on giving him the experience and seeing the outdoors through his eyes. God is good at second chances. "For God so loved the world..." Jn 3:16

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Niches by Susan L.

As much as the last several years have been about discovering my identity, finding wellness and overcoming my mental health challenges, it has also been about finding my niche; my place in the grand scheme of God's greater plan for my life. Not that I presume to know His plans but there have been twinkles of understanding in the dreams and daydreams of tomorrow. It doesn't happen very often, these glimpses of what may be. I'm happy that I am able to stay mostly in the present. History sometimes swallows me for a while but it takes less and less time to find my way out of the places of sadness and despair. Destiny, what a concept! "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." SCC 3:1

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Accomplishment by Susan L.

After having put the push on this past weekend to finish the wedding present, it got finished today. I'm already looking to the next project: a baby shower gift. It will be a quilted growth chart like those made for my grandchildren. I enjoy having some kind of hand work on the go. It's especially nice on those long, dark winter evenings that seem to drag on and on. When I have finished that I want to make a new quilt for my own bed. The first one I made years ago is starting to look tired and worn. My favorite is doing crazy quilts. It's far more forgiving of imperfect seams. They look funky, too. I add beads and buttons and other embellishments like embroidery. Mind you, they are nothing like the original crazy quilts of days gone by. The nicest thing is every time I make one I fondly remember my aunt who patiently taught this non-sewer how to make them. I knew more about power tools than fabric. Little did I know how many I would make or just how valuable it would be as a wellness tool. "She seeks wool and flax and willingly works with her hands." Prov 31:13

Monday, 12 August 2013

The Seen by Susan L.

It was the peak of the annual meteor shower last night. An otherwise overcast sky cleared long enough for me to scan the heavens and see a few shooting stars. The night was beautiful: moonless and still. A fragrant smell of fresh cut grass filled the air. My little waterfall burbled an accompaniment to hundreds of cricket voices as a wood frog croaked in counterpoint. It was cool enough to need a sweater. A sign that summer is winding down. As I snuggled my arms into its warmth, I gave thanks: for the clear sky, for the light show and for keeping any wild critters away while I sat in the dark. A startled skunk is not a good thing. A few years ago as I sat happily on my front porch I felt an unfamiliar feeling. After some pondering I realized it was contentment. Last night was a whole barrel full of contentment. Thank You, Lord. "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Heb 13:5

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Unseen Seen by Susan L.

My neighbour, in the process of photographing a squirrel, captured an amazing image. In the sixth attempt, a face appeared behind the V of the branches, about five feet off the ground. It wasn't a human face and appears to be made of polished wood. The honey coloured wood with a darker grain follows the contours of the head. One eye was large and dark with a visible twinkle in its depths. The other eye was in shadow. A small and knotty nose protruded oner a large upper lip. The mouth was small as was the chin. The whole face portrayed a sense of age and great peace. My neighbour was freaked out. I thought it was amazing. There is no logical or physical reason for the image. The pine boughs in the background could not have blurred to form the warm brown of the face. The face is in front of them. Not only that, but the face only appears in one picture. As a Christian, the Unseen is part of our lives. There are those who are blessed to see what others can't. Animals often do. The squirrel wouldn't climb the tree even though there was a small dog yapping crazily at the base. Or was the dog barking at something invisible to the human eye? A tree spirit? Do all living things have spirits? Aboriginal cultures believe they do. Doesn't the whole earth and all its creatures sing Glory to God? Which opens more questions regarding the earthly realm and the spiritual realms that coexist around us every day. "Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." Lk 10:20

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Breath Catching by Susan L.

Yesterday saw me finish phase one of a wedding gift I am making. Nine straight hours accomplished a lot. It is for the first week of September and was one of the stressors fanning my anxiety. The clutter in the living room from it was also adding stress. I can put most of it away today. Woo-hoo! A bit of housework, a short trip to the grocery store and the rest if the day is my own...one of the blessings of living alone. It's such a beautiful day I might sit on the patio and enjoy. A friend is coming over later for dinner: barbeque and fresh corn on the cob. Mmmmmm, the finer things in life! "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them." Joel 2:19

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Long Unwinding Road by Susan L.

It surprised me to see the time when I woke up this morning;the latest it's been in a long time. It was one of those leisurly surfacing into consciousness that is such a delicious way to awaken. It was in stark contrast to the shock of a teeth grating alarm that greets me most mornings. Pumpkin did his usual cat quest for attention around 7:30 or so. He got a few half hearted tummy rubs before I rolled over to go back to sleep. Today, he let me. (He can be rather insisting some mornings.) I found him curled up, patiently waiting, at the foot of the bed. I can feel the anxiety drifting away. It's a good feeling. "Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you." Ps 116:7

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Worked It Out by Susan L.

It's good to have supports who are patient. The kind who let you flounder around for a while until the solutions/answers/reasons/understandings pop up out of the depths of the subconscious. I saw my psychiatrist yesterday morning and although he was in an unusually preachy mood he helped me examine why my anxiety was so bad this last little while. The result was two words: proactive and reactive. I've been living reactively according to my calendar and outside demands on my time. While I made decisions based on what I thought I could do such as helping with the VBS decorations, the timing was according to someone else's agenda. Proactive means I had/have the right to change my doctor's appointment because last night was the PREFER monthly meeting. Instead I spent nearly six hours driving to two appointments in one day. Why I didn't is a whole other blog. Living reactively is the way most of my life has been. These old habits and responses are very triggering, hence the anxiety. I just need to keep hearing the words: we have the right to self determination. In my case that is a prayerful word. Let my will be God's will in all that I do. Amen! "For the day of the Lord is in the valley of decision." Joel 3:14

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The "A" Train

Is anxiety the same as worry? Or is anxiety caused by worry? Why does feeling anxious make me more anxious? Anxiety seems to have a life of its own. There's no reason for my chest and back muscles to be painfully tight. The pins and needles pricking my arms and face feel weird. Everything's too loud, too fast, to bright,too much of too! Yes. I've been busy. Yes. There's more busy tomorrow. I'm just tired of it. That's all. Fed up with being jumpy and tense when life gets just a little bit busy. Okay. Yes, I am having a bit of a pity party for myself. It comes from bumping into the sharp edges of a potential panic attack for at least the last three weeks or so. It's extremely tiring. Exhausting actually but at the same time sleep is affected which impacts the anxiety impacting sleep...a viscious hamster wheel. Lord? Please, show me the blessings in an anxiety disorder. Help me see the good. "But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause--who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number." Job 5:8

Monday, 5 August 2013

More Questions by Suaan L.

There was another conversation at Saturday's party which also rattled my equilibrium. It was about the narcissistic nature of bloggers. It has me examining my motives/ motivation for God and the Black River. Writing every day wasn't a long thought out plan or decision. Having internet on my phone made it easy to jump right in. It felt like the right thing and continues to do so. Still I am going to take this time to examine my heart, test the waters so to speak. Here's a question: is writing just for my own purpose and gratification? Well, it mostly starts my day grounded in faith because my blog is in reality a written prayer. It helps keep my nose in the scriptures, too. Yet, at the same time my blog hopefully offers peer support. It amazes me that it is global because of how small the world is thanks to technology! Checking the statistics every once and a while is a huge boost to my confidence as a writer. It's a huge honour in seeing the numbers grow that at the same time keeps me humble. God's will, not mine. It's nice to have a written record of the journey. Not only in art but of what's going on inside my head. Being single, the blog allows me to share bits and pieces, laughter, tears and fears that otherwise might be shared vocally with a person. I'm smiling at myself: it IS being shared with people! Maybe that's what it's all about after all... You are not alone. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve." Mk 10:45

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Being Pushed by Susan L.

There was a significant, milestone birthday party for my mom yesterday. She had asked for no gifts. I made a card with a little watercolour painting on it instead of buying one for her. She was delighted. It brings me great joy to see what I do bring joy to someone else. However, there's usually someone who tells me, "You could sell this! Why aren't you selling your art or putting on a show? I'd love to see more because I could sell it for you!" There are good intentions behind these "encouraging words" but at the same time,it causes my performance anxiety to explode. There is an underlying message that what I am doing isn't enough; that I need to do more. Most, if not all, of the art produced during my recovery journey is deeply personal, not something to sell. There is an underlying expectation I have copious amounts of paintings just waiting for a buyer. Part of my resentment/rebellion is because for so many years I people pleased. Comments like that also subtly undermine my right for self determination. I've worked hard to be as well as I am. I don't need pushing. When and if I am to sell art as a way of improving my financial situation, I'll jump right in. It has to be God's will. Not mine. Amen! "And truly, the Son of Man goes as it has been determined." Lk 22:22

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Behind the Times by Susan L.

A young person I know wanted to record a phone number. "Hold on," she said, " let me write this down." She reached into her pant's pocket and pulled out her cell phone. It made me laugh at myself because I couldn't figure out why she had pen and paper in her pocket! The fact that pens don't take kindly to being bent was the first thought that had popped into my head! Then last night my far more computer savvy mom emailed me with the brilliant suggestion that I look for shed plans on line. Yup. The thought never crossed my mind. Behind the times? Just a bit. Learning more every day? Yes. Challenged by my own cell phone and its countless features? Absolutely. I've only just mastered the calendar app. Look out world! "I have made you hear new things from this time, even hidden things, and you did not know them. They are created now and not in the beginning." Is 48:6

Friday, 2 August 2013

Best Laid Plans by Susan L.

I've been attempting to draw out blueprints for my new shed. It's trickier than I realized so a few pieces of graph paper have made their way into the recycle bin. There needs to be some sort of planning so there's a list of parts: lumber, nails, shingles, etc. It needs to look nice, too. Sort of cottagy; balanced and in proportion. As I'm drawing, questions keep popping up as well as fond memories of my dad sketching house plans, a favorite pastime of his. There's a lot I don't know about shed building. There's a lot I do know, too but the thought has entered my head that it might be better to buy plans. Maybe there's a "Shed Building for Dummies" book...that'd be perfect! All I need is knowledge. "Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life." Prov 4:13

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Too Short by Susan L.

The last three days raced by! I had a wonderful time. My eighteen month old granddaughter was far more receptive to my presence this time. Little arms giving little hugs = awesome × a gazillion! My three year old grandson and I shared many story times. He has a deep love of books and would spend hours hearing someone read to him. A Sesame Street book about the letter "L" left me tongue tired and tripping over pronunciations to both our amusement. His sister is a shoe diva. She had been given a sparkly pair which she showed to anyone and everyone. Watching her clomp around in Mommy's shoes as well brought a memory smile of my own children to my lips. There's a piece of me that wishes I had known a fraction of the parenting tools my son and his partner have at their fingertips. It is amazing how many words both children know in American Sign language that allows them to communicate their needs. Not so much my grandson any more who has an astounding vocabulary, but his sister can make her needs known with a simple gesture. They even taught me how to sign a few words. There is so much more going on in their little brains than we assuming adults give them credit for. I would have liked to have stayed another day but at the same time, the busy life of a young family is, well, busy! I am spoiled in my solitude. Pumpkin, the cat, gave me quite the welcome home and wouldn't let me out of his sight most of the night. It was a nice way to end a mini vacation. "Let the little children come to Me." Mk 10:14