Wednesday, 30 April 2014

One Stressor Done by Susan L.

  I didn't expect to be able to walk in to my tax man's office yesterday and be seen right away. Income tax deadline is today. I thought the office would be busy, but it wasn't. Good thing. Seeing my accountant, a very nice man, is about as much fun as going to the dentist. It had been a job I'd been putting off for as along as possible. Saturday, I took the time to organise all the paperwork.
  The end result was painful. I ended up owing a good chunk to the government so I've made some changes at work to get them to take more income tax off my paycheck. I'd sooner have the government owe me than the other way around.
  Canada is a great country although we pay some of the highest taxes in the world. It's a big country with a small population for its size. High taxes are the cost of "free" health care, a social safety net, of adequate police and EMS workers, snow plows, public transportation, good roads that span the country, schools...another of my Lists. I need to remind myself of these things to help take the sting out of parting with hard earned money.
  Income tax was started to fund the war effort. I'm not sure if it was World War One or Two. Like sales tax, once it was started, despite promises by electoral candidates to stop these charges, there was no looking back. Oh, they may have reduced them in the beginning or offered tax credits to low income families or removed tax charges from books and children's apparel, nevertheless, taxes are here to stay.
  I can offer paying income, provincial and federal sales taxes, gas, car license or property tax as an expression of gratitude. First and foremost: thank You, Lord for your provision! If I had no job or home or car, if I wasn't truly wealthy in the world view scheme of things, I would not be paying any of these taxes. So, thank You, Lord, for your provision. Thank You for Your many, many gifts. Thank You, Lord, I live in this great country where a woman is allowed to have these things.
  ""Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them. "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."" Mat 22:19-21

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

How It Is by Susan L.

  I woke up in the middle of the night with a great idea for today's post. Should have written it down because it has vanished into the mists of slumber. As for spending time yesterday thinking about why being busy makes me anxious, that never happened either.
  It was a busy day. Isn't that a laugh? Bear with me as I work this through.
  So how does a person fulfill roles such as an employee, a family member, or a friend yet remain true to who they are? Or maybe that's my own issue.
  I know we are given discernment when it comes to trusting others. I know our pearls are not to be cast willy-nilly. Why do I feel I have to behave differently in order to live up to another's expectations? Talk about stressful!
  That comes with a whole travel trunk full of other junk. There's the fear of being vulnerable. It's about the risk involved in showing my true self, my God given self, to others. It's being afraid to make a mistake, of hurting someone. It's the fear of being mocked or ridiculed; of failing. Being with others or in busy, social environments stretches my fragile self confidence to the limit. The old ways of coping go to war with the new, healthier, kinder way of treating myself with patience built on the love God has for all of us, not just me.
  Anxiety is fear on overdrive. A panic attack has a mind of its own. Part of the anxiety of being in busy, social situations is being mindful of the warning signs; of watching and waiting for the worst to happen. It's exhausting really. Exhaustion only amplifies the risk. That's one giant hamster wheel I'd be happy to get off of.
  Writing about panic stirs the pot. I feel my chest knotting, my blood pressure rising... warning signs.
  Thank You, Lord for answers: I am carrying a mountain of shame because of a susceptibility to panic attacks. Attacks that range from simple "too-much-going-on-take-a-deep-breath-you're-okay" right through to "lose-my-mind-RUN!" How is it possible to feel safe in crowds when the biggest betrayals happen within my own skin?
  Maybe a change in terminology might help, how about a panic episode?
  That shift in identification diffuses the power somehow. It makes it less threatening.
  I have nothing to be ashamed of. (That's going to take some help to believe. Forgive me, Lord.)
  "Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him." Ps 92:13-15

Monday, 28 April 2014

No Time by Susan L.

   I am rushing out of the house again this morning: places to go, people to see. Little knots of anxiety are building in my stomach. I was about to say, "I don't do busy very well", then I realised what was happening. The more I say something, the more I believe it. Some call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Others call it a word curse. Words have incredible power. They can build up, tear down, encourage, humiliate, strengthen, weaken. The list goes on.
  Is my own choice of language impeding my recovery and ability to live a full life? I am afraid so. That's what cognitive behaviour therapy is all about. It's about changing language and replacing 'bad' thoughts with positive. Yes, I have tried that tool but found it didn't get to the "why". Why do I think/feel/act the way I do?
  Here's the question of the day: why am I so afraid of being busy? In Christ we can do all things.
  I've an opportunity to think about this today. And I will.
  "He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke their chains in pieces. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lords for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" Ps 107:14-15

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Coming up for Air by Susan L.

  I wonder how hermits, nuns and monks are able to sustain their searching to know the Lord for hours and hours and a lifetime. The last few days has given me a taste of what it must be like to have that kind of freedom. That taste has left me hungry for more. It's just that life keeps getting in the way: the "to do" list, work, house chores, grocery shopping, the cat demanding attention. Wah-wah-wah...
  It makes me cringe to hear the whining finger pointing. Sorry about that.
  Let's get real here.
  Even as I sat down to do today's post, my mind wandered the universe and spanned ages past. Snippits of memory: a brass, lion's head necklace I once owned. Threads of concern: the inevitable sump pump that continues to run and run. Blocks of emotions drift through my conscious. They have substance but vanish, discarded as irrelevant or should I say, I simply don't want to go there.
  I confess I have a hard time not playing the word game, Scrabble, on my phone. Gaming is a rather unhealthy coping tool that devours huge chunks of time like a hungry serpent. It's also a way of coping that was large part of my life before I knew the Lord. If I bury my head in the sand, I don't have to think. You know what they say about old habits dying hard.
  So delete the game. All the games on the phone.
  Such a simple solution. Thank You, Lord and forgive me. I ask You to reveal why I have been using this self-destructive tool. What's going on behind the scenes that has me feeling so incredibly, utterly overwhelmed. Why am I hiding? In Jesus name I pray.
  "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." Eph 5:8-11

Friday, 25 April 2014

Art Therapy Again by Susan L.

  It's been too long since I last took part in an art therapy group. I missed the last one because of PREFER training. A new eight week session started up last night. It felt good to be there again. I know I've turned to the art a couple of times on my own to help me work things through. It's different being in group environment; richer somehow. Maybe it's because it isn't so lonely. I wasn't sure what was going to unfold once the creative process began even though I thought about it on the way there. Often what I think will be "discussed" on the canvas or paper ends up falling by the wayside.
  I am okay with that because the art is prayer. Prayer is a living thing. It ebbs and flows like the wind. Taking the time out of other busy-ness and allowing the Spirit to move, to inspire, to speak in pictures is what it is all about for me. I am more than happy to set aside my own agenda.
  However, I wanted to produce a thank You piece. Partly for being back in the group, but mostly going to see "Son of God" at the theatre has filled me with even more joy and humble gratitude that God is so much a part of my life. His presence is overflowing; uncontainable. I wanted the image to be a celebration, a visual representation, of  yesterday's blog: "In Him we live and move and have our being." Acts 17:28
  I wanted to capture the essence of life lived with my Maker, my Saviour, my Hope.
  That's a lot to ask of a ten by twelve canvas and less than two hours of creative time.
  I set my logical, thinking, controlling, demanding, purposeful brain aside. I set aside the preconceived images I thought would be ideal. Somehow they fell short of representing the grandeur, the hugeness, the movement of life.
  A metal palette knife became my sword as I carved the blue, yellow, red paint onto the canvas. Green, purple, orange appeared as the colours meshed and blended. Splashes of black found their way onto the surface. Then snowflake stars. Brush, big and small, paper towel, torn newspaper added texture and softened harsh edges.
  The newspaper surprised me. What began as ragged strips ended up looking like a hand tattooed with script hovering over a colourful, gaseous nebulae in space. Within the rough simplicity of the image was a thousand thoughts.
  "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." Jn 1:1

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Lost in Translation by Susan L.

  My Bible study handouts have two different translations of God's word for us to read. The New King James version and the New Living Translation. The NLT has done away with the capitals denoting Christ or God, "he" has replaced "He". That's something I struggle with and was shared in a post a while ago. The NLT uses plain language but I feel, personally, in being simplified it has lost some of the poetry of the NKJV. (It is a gift that we have access to different translations when many Christians are persecuted for having even one Bible.)
  We are studying Acts. In chapter 17:28, NLT scripture reads "For in him we live and move and exist". The NKJV is written, "For in Him we live and move and have our being."
  When I read the two versions yesterday, I was swept up in the idea of being in the Lord. To be is a fluid, living thing of beauty. To be is to breathe and think and weep and love. To be is to learn, make mistakes and grow as a person. To have our being: our heart, mind and soul nestled snugly and safely in the palm of God's hand is to live in unimaginable richness. To have our being in Him is to know there is a future on earth and an eternal one in Heaven. To have our being is to cherish all that makes us human, our weaknesses, our idiosyncrasies and yes, our sinful nature.
  Celebrate sin? What? If there was no evil in this world, we would not know good. If we didn't slip and fall, we wouldn't know forgiveness or God's amazing grace. If we didn't have struggles, we wouldn't know victory. Ignorance comes before wisdom although I confess the same mistakes have to made a few times before I clue in. To have our being is to be able to laugh at ourselves.
  I am not condoning the acceptance of sin or sinful things or the terrible hurt we do to each other but because of those things I have become an advocate and a peer support worker. I have my being, being there for others and speaking up for those who have lost their voice. I found my own voice through the loving patience of my Creator and the work Jesus did on the Cross for us. How humbling. He is the Author of our salvation and His ink was blood.
  Stones exist. They are there, they take up space, you can stub your toe against them. We are so much more than stones. We are human beings.
  "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 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 3:14-17

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

In God I Trust by Susan L.

  We're born with it. Everything. All of the world. Baby animals do what is called imprinting on their mothers. They trust that they will be there for them, taking care of them, helping them survive. They know their mother's and sometimes father's smell, the way they breathe, the way they sound. Baby birds open their beaks and trust that a fat, juicy insect is going to be delivered. The parents land at the nest trusting their babies will be there, that they've done a good job in keeping them safe and hidden.
  When there were foals born on the farm, I would spend a lot of time handling them within hours of their birth. Next to their mother, I wanted to be the most important figure in their lives. I'd pick up their feet, patiently asking them to submit to something that no horse would naturally allow. Their feet are their lives because they are a fight/flight animal. I wanted the foals to get used to me because when they grew up and were so much bigger, a foundation of trust had been established. I did the same with newborn puppies and kittens. If they aren't handled at an early age, they have a hard time connecting with people.
  I have referred to myself as a wild animal when I first invited the Lord into my life. I know it sounds harsh. I was civilized, but there wasn't an ounce of trusting ability left in my heart. I didn't come to Him through love or touchy feely gushy emotions. I took a gamble, choosing between a rock and a hard place. I chose the Rock and haven't looked back since. The Lord picked up my running feet and washed them. I wouldn't have to run any more, ever again.
   They say elephants never forget. I believe our souls have memory. We "remember" what it means to be one with the Lord as we wait for Him to breathe our souls into a physical body. He gives us the opportunity as people to choose to return to Him willingly.
  That's when all hell breaks loose. Betrayal, injury, insult, abuse, neglect...sin...entwines itself in our lives all for one purpose: to stop us from trusting each other and ultimately God. Bad fathers make it hard to imagine a heavenly Father, bad marriages make it hard to connect to the Bridegroom.
  Here's the good part. The Lord is all things to all people. Some connect to the Infant Jesus, others to the Son. Some know Christ, others know the Father as Abba. We also connect to the Lord through His Spirit and His Word. He is the God of Mercy with a thousand shining facets of Identity.
  When trust is broken, it takes time to grow it back. It takes practice and nurturing. I prayed for discernment to help me know who and how to trust and with what. I've had to learn to trust myself. I've gotten it wrong a few times. But that's okay, that's where Grace comes in.
  "Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?" And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you." Ex 3:13-14


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

TV Psychology by Susan L.

  I had an episode of "Bones" on last night, more for the company than anything. It's not a TV show I follow regularly and wasn't paying much attention to it until the "psychiatrist" tossed out a couple of diagnosis surrounding a male character who was committing murder. They had never met. Gotta love the god complex rife in the psychiatric field even if this one is only pretending. Come to think about it, there are other murder/ mystery shows that do the same thing.
  Anyways, the first was Post Traumatic Embitterment Disorder. That is only in the exploratory phase and is NOT recognised by the DSMV: the book containing every single mental health label. (Many people say it goes too far. Seriously it goes too far. Grief is now classified as a mental health disorder.)
  The second issue the character was struggling with was Dysthymia. That is recognised.
  It is a form of low grade, chronic depression that yours truly is very familiar with. It's like having all your emotions stifled by a thick blanket. Violence is not part of it at all. Rage is an intense feeling. If anything, having Dysthymia makes it easier to slip into the type of deep depression where getting out of bed is nearly impossible. I am thankful for medications that keep this at bay.
  Here's the problem. On the heels of this "diagnosis" were the words, also describing the bad guy, "he's a sick b*****d". I was furious. This was me, my mental health challenge, they were talking about!  It was so badly misrepresented I sent a letter to the show's producers via Global TV asking them to think about how mental health challenges are treated on the show. I asked them to step up and be at the forefront of a new way of regarding mental health. We need programming to help break the stigma, not feed the fires of  prejudice and misunderstanding.
  I got thinking this morning about how much weight people put on what they watch on TV. There's been stories of actors being attacked because of the character they play on some show. It may be fiction but when it is perceived as reality, when dialogue is taken as gospel truth...that is a scary thought.
  Is anything going to come of my little letter? I don't know. I simply had to do something.
  "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth and give them warning from Me." Ez 3:17

Monday, 21 April 2014

The God of All Things by Susan L.

  There's nothing more rewarding than knowing you have served God's purpose, that you have listened to the nudges of the Holy Spirit and obeyed. The reward is knowing you are counted part of  the mystery of God that exists outside the pages of His Word and outside the gathering place we call church. It is humbling and honoring to have been asked to perform some small service. Out of the billions of souls on this planet, you were chosen.
  I won't say who or what it was about. I don't want this to become pride filled. That would steal the joy of having served the Lord quietly, without recognition, without fanfare as we are all called to do. It would corrode the joy of bringing the Lord's peace to someone who was hurting. I only want to share my delight in having discovered once again He is the God of all things.
  Every atom and chromosome of life is His, from blue algae to great blue whales. From Antarctica to the North Pole, from China all the way around the world to China, is His. From the deepest stretches of space to the bottom of our oceans is His. Out teeniest, tiniest concerns are His concerns. Our teeniest, tiniest hopes are His hopes. Our teeniest, tiniest hurts are His hurts. All of it. The big struggles and the mundane day to day routines fall beneath His watchful eye 24/7.
  It's not a judgemental eye. He is not watching us to condemn us when we sin or wander off track. He's not watching to see if we go to church every Sunday, or go to a Bible study, or if we say prayers every day. He's not watching us to take our measure of how good or bad of a Christian we are. He understands. His eye is the eye of Grace. Grace has no yardstick.
  He meets us where we are yet at the same time encourages us to become more than we are. Again, without judging. In fact, He will make sure we have all the help we need and will use anything, anyone and everything in and of this world to speak to us of His love. What the enemy uses to try and destroy us, He will redeem and use it for His purpose. I find that a very comforting thought that helps ease the pain of my own experiences.
  All He asks of us is our trust.
  That human struggle is a whole other blog.
  "And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."" Jn 21:19

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter by Susan L.

  It's Easter Sunday, the best day of the year. It's the day of redemption, re-birth and renewal.
  I bet there's a lot of happy, chocolate stuffed, egg pursuing children out there. My birthday fell on Easter Sunday a long (long!) time ago. Getting a basket full of chocolate eggs and bunnies was a double blessing.
  I enjoyed hiding the foil wrapped chocolate eggs throughout the house for my own children. Their happy scrambling and enjoyment was fun to watch. The Easter bunny always left a note with the exact amount to find which, once they were all collected, would be shared equally. However, there was always one egg that turned up in June, bringing a chuckle. I wasn't sure if it had been missed or if the 'bunny' couldn't count! Needless to say, they didn't get to eat it. Good memories.
  Once again that familiar emotion swells within me: gratitude. It's about more than remembering the good times or celebrating milestones. It's for being in this place where I am right now, happily typing, glancing out the window at the sun filled yard and seeing the grass turn green. It's for knowing that my Lord rose into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. It's knowing that without His sacrifice, I wouldn't be here today.
  It's knowing His love is more than I could ever possibly imagine.
  "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also." Jn 14:18-19


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Birthday Celebration by Susan L.

  I had a great day yesterday with my children, grandchildren and parents. We met at my folk`s place for a bit of social time then headed out to a Chinese restaurant well known for its massive buffet. All of us were full to the brim when we left. The restaurant even provided a keepsake photo after someone let it slip it was my birthday. The waitress came over with a piece of cake, a candle to wish on, a wicker Chinese hat and got everyone to sing me happy birthday. I wasn't the only one in the restaurant subjected to this exposure. It's a huge place and there were many celebrants there.
   My children pooled their resources and gave me a family ring. It`s a simple, single band with their birthstones mounted on it plus two small, but significant, diamonds. I was more than delighted.
  Quite a while ago I had given my daughter-in-law, who works for a jeweler, my old gold: broken chains, my wedding and engagement rings (broken promises I was ready to discard) a while ago. I was looking for a ring with the Greek symbol for eternity, the figure eight. My engagement ring had two small stones imbedded in the band that had represented my step-daughter and step-son. My engagement and marriage was about more than just my ex-husband. At the time, he had two small children who needed a mom. I wanted to mount the promise diamonds on the new setting, adding a third small diamond for my son.
  She was unable to find the ring I wanted and told me the two tiny diamonds weren`t worth the labour and expense of digging them out of the band to be remounted. I was saddened by this. It wasn`t about their value so much as what they were worth to me. 
  Deciding to find an alternative, I had been looking on line at family rings. I thought that would be a good alternative. I was amazed at the number of different settings. My children must`ve read my mind. Including two new diamonds among the different birthstones of my children and grandchildren, well, it`s absolutely perfect! What a wonderful gift for my big five-oh.
  I am truly blessed by so much more than jewellery.
  `Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.` Ps 30:4-5

Friday, 18 April 2014

Passion Miracles by Susan L.

    There's one part of Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion" which stands out for me every time I have watched it. After Jesus had been scourged, Mary took soft, white cloths and began to mop up His precious blood from the stone floor. I know there's been much discussion about the graphic detail in the movie but in reality, the scourging was much worse. Every single bite of that metal tipped whip represented one sin. He accepted the burden, the sins of the entire world, without a cry: a miracle. It was a miracle He was still alive.
  The purple robe the soldiers threw over Him and the crown of thorns would have drawn even more life sustaining blood from His body. Head wounds bleed copiously. When they stripped Him of the robe, it would have torn away the places where the blood had begun to coagulate. Again, a miracle He continued to stand. A miracle He didn't go into shock.
  I believe that Simon being there to help Him bear His cross through the streets of Jerusalem was a miracle. Would not any other person have been left to die where they were? Why go through the work of having to crucify someone if they were nearly dead anyways. Not that anyone else could have even survived such a scourging. Lifting a solid cross and a inert body must take a lot of effort. I am sure the soldiers avoided the hard work when they could. It's a miracle that Jesus lived long enough for them to fulfill their orders. Did they ask themselves, "Why isn't He dead yet?"
  Miracles happened because God had ordained in the dawn of time that His Son would be crucified. Nothing would prevent that from happening. Jesus had to be the final Lamb of the old covenant and at the same time the First and only One of the new covenant. Works and laws would be laid to rest so Grace could set us free.
  When Jesus was mounted on the cross, His body torn and ravaged by the marks of sin, He spoke in a loud voice more than once. A loud voice takes breath. A loud voice takes the use of stomach muscles to project the sounds. With His arms outstretched, He would have had neither. Based on the design of our bodies, a whisper would have been impossible. I wonder what the soldiers and the others who had gathered thought of this miracle.
  Jesus had His faculties, His mind hadn't tried to escape the pain of His body. Both are miraculous beyond understanding. Often people who have experienced trauma like a car accident have no memory of those events. It's the mind's way of protecting itself.
  Jesus had to be present. He had to know exactly what He was doing. He had to be able to offer His life freely on behalf of the world. He had to reconcile us with our heavenly Father because that was why He was born of a virgin, the only Son of God. It's what the crucifixion was about: His, our, Father's heart and the washing away of sin so we may come to know the Lord as Jesus does. Jesus wanted that for us and paid the ultimate price.
  I've spent a lot of time submersed in the Passion story. My own sufferings have enabled me to relate in a much smaller way to what was done that mind boggling day on Calvary. The sins of one man brought me to my knees. How much more the Lord accepted for us!
  Because of Christ's sacrifice, we are His and He is ours. Forever. Simply asking forgiveness for our sins and inviting Jesus in to be Lord of our life is all that is required. That's the power of miracle born grace, a gift for us paid for by the blood of Christ. It is the most priceless present in the universe.
  "Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."" Jn 20:29

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Fluff, Fins and Feathers by Susan L.

  Pumpkin has taken to jumping onto the metal mesh lid of my aquarium. He's fascinated by the fish when they move around a lot. Stereotypical cat! Mostly that's first thing in the morning after being fed otherwise the goldfish are pretty calm. He likes to nap up there as well. The lid has started to bow a bit. I hope it doesn't collapse. A wet cat tearing through the living room would make quite the mess. It would be hard to clean because I know I'd end up laughing hilariously at the whole ridiculous situation. And at the sopping wet cat even though I know how much they hate being laughed at.
  It won't be long before the fish go back outside. My big female fantail looks like she's storing up a huge mass of eggs. Within days of putting them in the pond she spawns. It's early yet to be thinking about it, the pond is still frozen solid under a blanket of snow but I can't help myself. Maybe it's the warm sunshine out there this morning.
  The pond is in the shade and shelter of some pine trees so it takes a while to thaw. Being under the trees helps for a couple of reasons. Most importantly the fish aren't visible from the air. I've heard of blue herons who treat ornamental ponds like a dinner platter where they are quick to snap up an easy meal. Two, the shade works to keep the algae at bay.
  I am looking forward to sitting on the patio and watching the small songbirds who come to bathe and drink at the little waterfall at one end of the pond. I wonder how many frogs will come this summer? There's usually one or two who hop on in. This year I'll be able to take my laptop out there and write. A little piece of heaven on earth, enjoying what the Lord has provided for and doing what I love.
  "Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called." 1 Cor 7:24

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

In the Balance by Susan L.

  Two different people talked to me yesterday about shades of gray. It brought a smile to my face. The Lord is ever faithful in affirming my ideas, my understandings of Him and His ways. I'd been second guessing yesterday's blog. For example, what if the blog had been implying something like saying, "I am a little bit pregnant." (I'm not, it's an example.) Either you are or you aren't! Black and white.
  Sin is black and white; it is or it isn't sin. I guess the shades of gray come in as God redeems the choices we've made: lost and found. Or as I have come to know, God is in all things good and bad. He is with us when we are everywhere and nowhere, up or down, inside or out.
  I imagine an old set of brass scales. Sin is in one of the hanging trays, forgiveness is in the other. I have to admit because I am merely human the sin side is nearly resting on the table, the grace is high in the air. But, if I don't ask to be forgiven nothing will change. That means knowing right from wrong.
  Wrong can be a slippery little devil, though. It can hide by wearing a 'right' mask.
  Is that why we struggle with addictions? Is that why we stay in abusive situations? Is that why there is such division in the church? How about racism? Indifference? Judgements and presumptions?
  There's the gray again. Until we are willing to embrace something better, wrong will often be our right. I know my own understanding of 'being wrong' has matured and changed over the last ten years.
  My own abusive experiences weren't all my fault after all. That insight was the moment the scale tray lifted off the table as the Lord took from the sin side and placed that heavy weight on the forgiveness side. For that I thank Him from the bottom of my heart. I pray He continues to work within me so that one day the sin side will be all but empty.
  "The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." Is 40:4-5

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

On Being Wrong by Susan L.

   That's a tough old cookie to swallow but it happens all the time. I can't help it. I'm human. But, you know something? There's a whole lot of gray in this old world. It's the colour of repentance. It's the colour of forgiveness. It's the colour of grace. It's the colour of learning from our mistakes, of understanding, of wisdom...of patience. Gray is the colour of the truth nuggets that can be uncovered in recognising "wrong". Oops! It's the colour of compassion, of being non-judgemental. Gray is the colour of teaching and listening, of encouraging, of meeting others where they are at. It is a gentle colour, a soft colour. Gray has no sharp edges that cut and maim or leave scars.
  Maybe it should be silver instead.
  It weaves itself in and around the harsh division of black and white understandings. Black is the colour of condemnation, recrimination, a thirst for power or control. Distrust and many other "dis" words like discord, disharmony, dwell within the black. But then, the white on the other side of the fence is also the colour of "dis" words. How often does black and white go to war only to discover they are saying the same thing but are using different language to press their case, their idea?
  Black and white are pride colours. They are hard and harsh, unrelenting and rigid. They are the finger-in-your-face-you're-WRONG! Ha! So there! Guilt and shame swoop in with embarrassment adorning it like a shrivelled and bruised cherry on the top. LOOOO-ser! It's enough to make me cry.
  Silver is the colour of a river, of streams in the desert whose surface dances and sparkles with shards of sunlight. I'm glad there is some silver in my hair. I am thankful for the discernment age is giving me. I can take what is good and holy from the black and the white and willingly discard the rest as inapplicable to my own life. As for being wrong? It'll happen again for sure but I'm open to suggestions. I will weigh them carefully, prayerfully, and trust in my Guide, my Adviser, His Spirit and His Word to keep me in the way of truth and righteousness.
  "Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."" Lk 23:34

Monday, 14 April 2014

Joy by Susan L.

   It's amazing what a change in mindset can bring about. With the decision not to stress about how much work lay ahead in tackling this fantasy novel I've been writing, I find I am enjoying myself immensely. It's like going on vacation. It's fun following the characters as they travel through their make believe world. It's a world where I get to play god (Yes, with a little 'g'.) There are made up animals and people, towns, landscapes unique to this place I visit in my imagination. Still, they are loosely based on all I have seen and experienced in my own travels. A writer can only write about what they know.
  Restricting the amount of time I spend on it gives ideas a chance to percolate before I write them down. Pen and paper are the first step because my typing isn't up to snuff, or should I say it doesn't go as fast as my thoughts. Missing a day here and there hasn't been an issue either. I've been able to pick up where I left off quite easily.
  As the words pour out at a steady rate, I write with a deep sense of gratitude and a mountain of awe. For someone who lost her voice, it appears I've found it: 39,000 words and counting. The writing comes easy to me. Like the art; that too is a gift. As for playing god? It has given me a richer appreciation for who God with the capital 'G' is, how He cares for us even more than I could ever care for my characters. It has enriched my ability to appreciate this world He designed with its multifaceted complexity and beauty. Again, I stand in awe before Him, the Creator of all creators.
  I find myself laughing with my characters. When they're struggling, I'm right there feeling their hurts. I often role play in the kitchen to enable me to write more realistically about the mundane.  
  There's a dark side to all of this. It's a bit frightening how easy it is to tap into that part of my humanity, represented by a nasty villain. Again, we can only write about what we know. I have to include an antagonist, but at the same time can't wait to step out of that evil place into the light.
  Thank You, Lord, I have the Light to step in to.
  "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light." Gen 1:2-3

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Outside at Last by Susan l.

  Yesterday was a perfect day to get out and do some yard cleanup. There were lots of branches down because of the ice storm this winter. I hadn't done much dead heading in the fall so there was that to do as well. The chickadees enjoyed feasting on the Black-eyed Susans this winter; must remember not to cut them off.  I raked a bit where the sand dumped on the lawn by the plough was choking the grass. I was able to do a burn. The smell of wood smoke was a hint of summer evenings. The place looks a lot better. Neglect sure leaves a mark.
  It's nice to see signs of life. The rhubarb is bulging. The new growth is a brilliant pink accented with tones of fuchsia. It pops out against the drab brown of earth and dead grass. There are pockets of sweet green at the base of the sedum. My peonies have small burgundy shoots starting to emerge. Oh, the missing cedars have poked their heads out of the snow seemingly none the worse for wear. I'm not sure if my newly planted butterfly bush has survived. It looks like mice have nibbled the bark around its base. I'll leave it for now and hope for the best. Hyacinth and crocuses are well up. It won't be long until they flower. There's some flowering already in the middle of the back yard where the sun shines all day. They must have been in the compost used to top up the vegetable garden before I seeded it over.
  It's hard to fathom that there is so much life beginning so quickly when less than two weeks ago, everything was still buried under snow. I wonder what surprises will be out there. Something usually shows up in the garden that I never planted. Forget-me-nots blew in from the neighbour's garden. A type of native fern appeared one year. Tiny cedars and pines sprout up from seed. Weeding becomes a treasure hunt.
  There's still the gardens beneath the trees to do but they are still buried under snow and ice. That's okay. My body reminds me I've got winter muscles and what I did yesterday was plenty.
  "Sing out the honour of His name; make His praise glorious. Say to God, "How awesome are your works!" Ps 66:2-3

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Noah by Susan L.

  H and I went the Circle theatre. Its a local movie house that was established in the 1920's. They redid the interior a while ago but kept the original fold down seats. As a nod at modern needs, they installed acrylic cup holders. It is a green operation, only generating one bag of garbage a week. Pop is sold in bottles, cardboard boxes hold the popcorn. Nearly everything is recycled. The staff wait at the exits to take the trash from patrons; making doubly sure everything goes where it is supposed to. They even have a BYOB (bring your own bowl) policy and offer a discounted rate for the movie goer's favourite snack. The price to get in is very reasonable, less than half of what it costs to attend the show at one of the multi-theatre franchises. The owner also does a lot of fund raising where an item for the local food bank gains admission, or a portion of the proceeds will go to different not-for-profit organisations in the community. It is one of a handful of independent theatres left in Canada.
  We saw "Noah". It was a fantastical adaptation of the Genesis story. Yes, it wandered a bit from the actual scriptures but what Hollywood rendition of any Bible legend doesn't?  Any movie leaves something to squawk about, some shortcoming, some weakness. I am sure there has been an outcry against it. I like to think it gets non-believers to watch a Biblical tale. May the Lord bless this opportunity and those who will exit the theatre seeking more. Lead them, Lord, to Your Son.
  Next week they are showing the "Son of Man", the story of Jesus. H and I are going for sure. May the theatre be full! Amen!
  "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert." Is 35:5-6

Friday, 11 April 2014

A Bit Rushed by Susan L.

  I didn't want to start the day without doing my blog. When I miss one, it leaves me feeling unsettled, like missing my morning coffee. Yesterday I was alone at the centre and responsible for cooking the community lunch we offer. It doesn't happen too often and I enjoy cooking for many. It's much easier than cooking for one. We had baked chicken, whipped potatoes and roasted beets. Yum.
  Today's early start is because there are individual meetings scheduled with the centre's chief Coordinator. I know it's nothing to be nervous about but still, it's the first time this has happened since I started and I am not sure what to expect. .
  On the upside, it's arts and crafts this afternoon. The how to draw group drew to a close but probably not permanently. We just need a break. It has been very successful and rewarding for both the participants and myself. It's challenging teaching someone a skill when much of that skill involves automatic habits. It made me think about what I do when drawing, how I look at the objects. Something simple like holding my pencil was knowledge to be shared. We covered a lot in the year or so the group ran for.
   I was blessed to see the results in my enthusiastic students, to see their abilities grow. Watching the confidence and joy in what they were doing was better than any paycheck I could ever have. You know you've taught your students well when you can learn from them. I learned a lot. I learned how to encourage and direct without using criticism. That was the biggest lesson and it has woven its way into my life.
  "Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." Gal 5:26

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Writer's Grp Fiction: Random Dictionary Word "Strike" by Susan L

          The crowd was wild. Plastic trumpets sounded, tin can air horns blared deafeningly, jeers and calls meant to distract didn’t rattle the cool collectedness of the pitcher. Ray Raynard was the Closer with a capital C. The old saying about having ice water for blood was the honest truth about Ray. This was his element. He thrived on the challenge of bringing a close game to a quick end.

          Tony Whitfield had done a good job but by the bottom of the ninth inning his amazing arm had begun to fail. The coach had replaced him before exhaustion could lead to an irreversible injury or a devastating loss. No matter the outcome of today’s game there was still next year to plan for.

            Tony had pitched them successfully to this final game of the final series in the long road to being champions. As disappointed as he was at being pulled, Tony knew he didn’t have the strength to finish. He gently slapped Ray Ray in the shoulder with his glove for luck as they switched places.
            The only pitching error of the game, a walk, threatened their victory. There were two outs working in his favour but if Ray let a home run in now, they would end up slinking back to their home town. It would be a hard to swallow loss after coming so close to being the best in the world.
            Like a heartbeat’s throb, their own team’s fans cheered the pitcher, “Ray Ray...Ray Ray...Ray Ray!” The suspense grew.
            The closer watched the back catcher, Juan Cortez, carefully contemplating then discarding his suggested pitches with a slight shake of his head. Three times he said no. The fourth time, with a subtle nod, Ray agreed to a long, low slider. The count was full, three balls, two strikes. It was all up to this last pitch.
             The walked runner, Chuck Agostino, was known for his incredible speed. Once on base, quick, consecutive steals had him in a position to tie the ball game. Chuck took a long lead off third. That was why Ray had been sent in, a fresh arm to put this puppy to bed. The pitcher looked his way and mocked a toss to the baseman. Chuck scampered with a greyhound’s speed back to touch the base. The pitcher smiled in satisfaction. Two more times he sent Chuck back. The crowd was beside itself.
A quick glance around the infield assured Ray that everyone was focused and alert. He took a moment to settle his baseball cap on his head and wiped his fingers on the brim with a conductor’s flourish. He wiped his hand one more time on his thigh. Any moisture could spell disaster. Standing sideways, Ray felt for the ball tucked snugly in his glove. It took a moment to organise the seams beneath his experienced touch. The grip had to be perfect. He had only one shot at this.
            The crowd got even louder. They were only two runs away from their home team taking the championship. A man on third and one of the best hitters they had was facing down the best closer in the league. This was a battle of titans. A couple of angry scuffles erupted in the stadium between opposing fans. Security guards rushed to put a stop to them before they got out of hand. This was the closest both teams had come to being champions in nearly two decades. Their being here had taken the world by surprise.
            Ray took a deep breath. All the years of dedicated training that had begun by practicing with his mom in the park led to this moment. The noise of the crowd disappeared. He only existed for the pitch. Nothing else mattered. Ray wound up and threw the ball. As it left his fingers, he knew he had made a mistake. There was a fraction of extra twist which meant the slider would go wide instead of low.
            Milliseconds felt like aeons. The crowd held its breath. The stadium was silent for the first time since the gates had opened. The ball whistled through the air at a blistering hundred and twenty kilometres an hour.  In slow motion Ray watched the batter step in, swinging hard. His heart dropped. The hissing bat missed the ball by a whisper and it landed with a solid, dusty thud in Juan’s well oiled mitt. Covering the ball with his free hand Juan leapt from his crouch, a jaguar pouncing, ready to touch Chuck as he made a last ditch effort and raced for home.
            “Steeerike three!” called the umpire, raising his right arm so the officials, the crowd, the millions of people watching on TV would know exactly what the call was: a pitch that made history.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Guilt by Susan L.

  It's a five letter four letter word, guilt is. It's the name of a thief. It's the name of a liar. It's the name of doubt and shame. It's a sentence ushered in with an imaginary gavel slamming down. There's no room for give and take, for parole. There's no room for redemption. There's no room for growth when that emotion fills your mind and soul. Yup, I'm an expert but I also understand the importance of letting go, in laying such foul things at the foot of the Cross. Guilt is obliterated with one word: forgiveness.
  Why is guilt so much a part of our lives? In a way that's a rather na├»ve question. I know it's a weapon of the devil as well as its evil twin, shame. It was released into this world when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and hid from the Lord. They knew they were naked. There's been a raging debate ever since about who should be blamed. Blame, the flip side to shame.
  I know I've talked about this with others but am not sure it's ever been part of a blog. There's a part of the Adam and Eve story that gets glossed over: God clothed them in tunics of skin. He must have done that with great sorrow. Still, His grace covered their nakedness, their shame and taught them how to clothe themselves. Then He sent them out of the Garden of Eden so they would not eat of the Tree of Life. He spared us having to live forever with the knowledge of good and evil.
  I shudder at the thought of an eternal life full of the human angst and struggles that fill my days. This big blue ball of a planet would have become overcrowded millennia ago. There would be wars over assets like drinking water. The land would be sterile by now because of the demands of feeding the multitudes. Famine, disease, but no death. Wow, that's grim.
  Thank You, Lord for Your grace and mercy. Thank You for the work Jesus did on the Cross so that we will be saved. Thank You for the gifts of redemption, forgiveness, and peace. Thank You, Lord that I have an eternal life that will be there for me when You call me home. Thank You that it will be lived in Your presence where guilt, shame, and blame have no place. Thank You Lord that my time on this earth is just long enough for You to do the work in my heart. Let me live as testimony to others of Your wondrous, all encompassing, life giving love. Thank You...Thank You... Thank You.
  "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." Mt 24:35-36

Monday, 7 April 2014

Past Blasts by Susan L.

  Yesterday I felt an insistence that I go to church. It wasn't a still small voice, it was a command. There was no arguing. I hadn't been for several weeks because of feeling overwhelmed and anxious. The moment I got there, I knew why the Lord had insisted on me being there. There were new people who had come for the first time although they weren't new to me. It was the friend and her family who had led me to the Lord nearly a decade ago. We'd fallen out of touch while I struggled with mental health issues, the physical side effects of those and simply surviving.
  It didn't escape me, the timing of this reconnection. I'd been burdened by guilt over the breakdown of the first real friendship I'd had in years. She and her mother had saved my life that fateful day I'd decided my life wasn't worth living by leading me to the Lord. She had taken me in for a brief time while I sorted out what I was going to do about my marriage. She was there for me any time I needed. That's probably why the friendship ground to a halt. I was a desperate and drowning woman and clung to her as I struggled to understand what a relationship with Jesus was all about, never mind the extra stuff I was dealing with. Honestly, I was more than desperate, I was out of my mind.
  It's a lot to ask of a friend. The Lord knew that and He began to place other people in my life to help me through those dark and terrible days. That first connection simply faded away.
  I'm much wiser now in the ways of friends. That was a huge part of my learning curve, learning about healthy relationships, about the give and take, the balance, the boundaries needed for them to thrive. I know we need at least five supports to maintain wellness. My psychiatrist is one of those five.
  I know something else: it was really good to see her and her family. I hope they come back.
  As for the guilt? It's another piece to be laid at the foot of the cross on Good Friday.
  "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust and the chewing locust...and praise the name of the Lord your God." Joel 2:25-26

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Tudor Farm by Susan L.

  I've been following a show on TVO called Tudor Farm. It is being done by a group of three people who have also done other series about historical farming methods right through to WWII. They have also done shows about the history of pharmacies. It fascinates me.
  What has struck me about this one is how much faith is woven into every aspect of Tudor lives. As an example, when they eat their noonday meal, everyone who works on the farm sits down together. The linen covered table is laid only on one side. It's meant to mirror the Last Supper. Everything they do has a connection to faith, God and the church.
  Their pea crop was struggling. Wild animals had been nibbling at the tender green shoots. One of the practices was to break up a piece of the Host, communion bread smuggled out from the church, and sprinkle it over the field for protection and I suppose a blessing. I smiled to myself as a non-believer re-enacted that strategy with the comment, "It can't hurt." He had done this without anyone but the camera man knowing. They ended up having a bumper crop. I wasn't surprised. I know he was but even so put the emphasis of the success on this act of faith.
   This show is a learning opportunity that drove home the necessity faith becoming a thread woven through every aspect of my life. It helped me realize that ritual can be a powerful tool in order to connect with the Lord. I could take the mundane and make it something holy like drinking my glass of milk from a goblet. Every glass could become a reminder of the Cup of Christ containing the joys and the sorrows of life..
  It's easy to forget to do this sort of thing in the busyness of our lives. It's easy to get derailed by unexpected events. It isn't so easy to remember that God is with us in every single aspect of our lives.
  "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to (offer?) salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."" Rom 1:16-17

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Making Connections by Susan L.

  I've shared about my angst at turning fifty. The Lord lovingly reminded me my birthday falls on Good Friday this year. It's a wonderful reason to submerge myself in what Christ's sacrifice on the Cross meant. I'm thinking about the thief who was crucified with Him; who Christ assured would be welcomed in to the kingdom of heaven.
  Can I allow this thief to represent everything that has stolen my joy like my all too human concerns about everything from my house to my heart? Am I willing to let go of my constant companion of anxiety, the thief that steals my peace? (Yes!) Can I allow him to represent my troubled soul when I can't remember the lost days of the past decade? Can I allow him to speak the words of my own repentance? Could he be a representation of the thieves, the depression, the PTSD, the abuse, who invaded my life and stole so much from me?
  Can he be the thief in me who has also stolen from others?
  Yes, we all steal. Maybe not grandmother's family ring but things like ignorance, neglect, disconnect, contempt, rob others of their true value in Christ. Forgive me my sins, my Lord.
  This is a redemption story. The thief was welcomed by Christ into his Father's house. That's what this is about too. A good chunk of the bad stuff that has happened to me has been redeemed. It has enabled me to write. I have found my voice.
  I stand on the dusty ground in my imagination looking up at the Cross that bears my Saviour. The air is still and quiet but here are black clouds churning and swirling above us. It's frightfully dark and has been for several hours. There's a rattle of bones, the game pieces, as guards groan and cheer over the fickle blessings of chance. They've divided the blood soaked garments that adorned my Lord. It's hard not to hate them for their greed. If only they knew Who this Man was.
  I look over at Mary. How hard it must be for a mother to outlive her Son. Her face is a mask of pain even though she must have known He was born for a higher purpose. I wonder if she knew it meant His crucifixion? John is her son, now. Jesus made it so. I'd love to wrap my arms around this heartbroken mother and assure her. Just as He took care of her, her Son will be able to comfort many in the years down the road. Far more than she could possibly imagine.
  This Man, this Son of God, this Saviour carries a piece of all of us on that cross. The sins of the world, mine and yours, which must be a heavy burden no one else could bear. I hope He dies soon, He has suffered enough. A violent whoosh of air stirs up the dust. The driven grit stings my face.
  "Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Having said this, He breathed His last." Lk 23:45-46

Friday, 4 April 2014

Prejudice by Susan L.

  Our PREFER (Peer Recovery Education for Employment and Resiliency) meeting Wednesday was about discrimination and prejudice. The woman who facilitated the meeting had a delightful sense of humour. She was bright and articulate and quick to poke fun at her situation. She happened to be confined to a wheelchair. She had grown up in an institution but was now living in and assisted living apartment which gave her much desired independence. She shared her dreams and ambitions with us. Dreams that many women have such as getting married and having children.
  She showed part of a movie that had been produced by people with visible challenges. It was uplifting and insightful. And here's the "however". A gentleman who was confined to a wheelchair shared his concerns about living a long life. He did not want to become old and decrepit. It made me smile to myself at the irony. Here were people speaking out against discriminating assumptions yet at the same time held their own. Age doesn't necessarily mean being decrepit does it?
  It's got me thinking. No matter how hard we try to be open minded, no matter how much we learn, those slippery rascals of prejudices are woven into the fabric of our existence. General comments about a group of people, be they old, young, black, white, disabled, or speak with an accent are discriminatory. We humans tend to be suspicious of what we don't understand. This suspicion takes us down the slippery slope of prejudice.
  I was sharing these thoughts with someone and caught myself uttering unintentional, subtle remarks that were presumptuous and discriminatory. I've had anti-oppression training but these attitudes are still there waiting in the wings. Why? They are a bi-product of any culture and upbringing I'm sad to say.
  In North America the demand for "perfect beauty" automatically condemns those who fall short. Just look at the age reducing creams on the market! The lesson? Old is ugly. Anything less than six pack rippling abs? Fat and lazy. We don't smell good enough, our hair is the wrong colour. Ewww, gray! The hour long show by Dr. Oz feeds on our fear of falling short. It is heartbreaking that he is so successful at what he does. Our "inadequacies" are the fodder for big bucks and even bigger profits. Those who live in the world and don't know Christ are hungry for a beauty that is only skin deep. To be less is to be an outcast, to be a "less than" person. It's enough to make you cry.
  Discrimination hurts everyone.
  Now I've gotten all serious, the Lord has offered up something to smile about: there's three turkey vultures roosting atop the dead tree in my front yard. Typical!
  "They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles." Ps 34:5-6

Thursday, 3 April 2014

"To Dream the Impossible Dream" by Susan L.

  I'm sitting here patiently waiting for an idea to blog about this morning. Well, maybe not so patiently or I wouldn't have started typing. Isn't that being human!
  Random thoughts are rolling through my brain: ideas for May's newspaper column, wondering what random dictionary word will be my topic for Writer's Nest next week, snatches of song. There's memories and prayers about the days ahead in there too.
 It still surprises me when thoughts of the future roll in. I spent so much of my life living reactively to situations, doing what needed to get done as it arose. The future was as illusive as a rolling bank of fog. Part of that was depression as well. Tomorrow looked like that fog bank. Severe depression is very successful at wiping out the ability to have hopes and plans for tomorrow. At least, conscious ones.
  The last ten years has been spent rifling though the past as I searched for my identity among the lies. It's been spent in weeks and months of insanity. There are huge gaps in my memory, something that bothers me a lot. Or maybe it's a good thing I don't remember. Kind of like childbirth. We women forget the pain or we'd never have more than one.
  That's a good analogy: childbirth. Out of the Black River has come a good life I never envisioned or thought possible ten years ago. It's one of living each day in the confident hope of possibilities in Christ; of living in expectancy. Even when the PTSD rears its ugly head, tough as it is at the time, recovery from those events is growing quicker. I hope...
  I may not plan for tomorrow or dream about it very much. Futurespeak is still a foreign language but my actions in this moment are speaking louder than words. Writing the book is a tangible action for tomorrow's potential. Still, I tend to stay in the present, but that's okay. It's so much better than being submerged by the past.
  I am chuckling at myself. The fact I started typing before an idea arose speaks of confidence in what lay ahead albeit only minutes and seconds into the future. I knew my Muse, my Lord and my Saviour would lead me into truth. Sometimes all that is required is taking a first step in faith.
  "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Lk 12:32


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Bad Guy by Susan L.

  There's a little dilemma on my plate. I need to name the bad guy in my book. Right now he's just "the Prince" which is a bit stereotypical don't you think? I combed the Greek and Hebrew section of my concordance for the names of the other characters. Using loose anglicised translations of words representing all that is good and holy ended up working. The good guys handles only have slight differences to names we are familiar with. At least, in North American culture.
  Sometimes when I am reading other fictional pieces, it makes me wonder why they choose the names they do and how do they get them? I was thinking phone book or maybe a baby name dictionary. Or are the characters named after a beloved friend or a long lost cousin? What about their bad guys, is it actually the black sheep of the family?
  It's a cereal box dilemma. Lord, I give this to You trusting in Your inspiration.
  Names are important to us. They must be to God, too. He blessed Adam with the task of naming all of His creations. I'm having a hard time coming up with one! Can you imagine tackling that huge job? Or maybe it was fun for Adam as his Creator and Father stood beside him, delighting in hearing what Adam called all the plants, the fowl, the beasts and the fishes in the sea. Did He have them parade in front of the man like in the story of Noah when the animals came two by two? Well, maybe not the fish. Or did the pair walk through the Garden of Eden with God pointing out a roosting bird or grazing mammal?
  "What would you like to call this one, my son?" He would ask.
   Adam would think for a moment then, with a delighted grin on his face, would shout, "Chicken!"
  "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name." Gen 2:19

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Fortune 500 by Susan L.

  Today is my five hundredth post. Never in a million years did I think my blog would run so long. I had no idea there was so much to be written about and shared when this project began as a spur of the moment decision. April 2014 must be a milestone month. It leaves me to wonder what other good things will happen and yes, I am trying to view turning fifty in a couple of weeks as a good thing!
  Life on this beautiful big ball of a planet tends to be measured in milestones doesn't it? Anniversaries, our first job, graduation, and marriage are all part of the fabric of our lives. There are other difficult milestones for some of us like divorce. The reality of our brief human existence surfaces when we come face to face with the mortality of our loved ones. I think we measure our lives in events because we are mortal. The passage of time holds great significance.
  Even in our daily lives, the clock plays a huge part of what we do and dictates when we do. Putting the kids on the bus for school, leaving for work, lunchtime, dinner time, bed time...the stuff that fills the day becomes a twenty-four hour routine. Each day of the week also dictates routine. It's always nice to sleep in on a Saturday morning, unless your child plays hockey and needs to be at the arena for a 6 AM practice. That alarm clock is lucky it isn't tossed across the room with a vengeance.
  Time is part of our language. We have countless expressions. "Time's a-wasting." "Out of time." "Time flies when you're having fun." "What time is it anyways?" We rush through everything like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. "I'm late! I'm late!"
  The first clocks were the sole domain of the monasteries and used bells to call the monks to prayer throughout the day. How many of us incorporate prayer into our lives on a regular basis? It doesn't have to be like the monks because taking the time to smell the roses, to be grateful is as much a prayer as an Our Father. Or what about taking a moment for quiet contemplation? A life with the Lord is about slowing down. It's about finding and celebrating what's important to us as an individual. It's about searching and knowing and discovering wisdom, patience and grace. 
  Milestones come and go. The Lord is eternal and wants us to be part of His world, His plan, His timetable. It's about embracing His forever love. No experience necessary. If you don't know the Lord, please, think about inviting Jesus into your heart. There's no time like the present.
  "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Rev 21:3-4