Thursday, 31 July 2014

Peace by Piece by Susan L.

  It was a good day yesterday. I spent the whole day in the yard carefully fitting barn boards to the shed's frame. Using smooth finishing nails, each piece was tacked in place to make sure it was level and the spacing was right. I wasn't sure how the boards fit, what space to use between them so the math took a bit. It's not my strong point.
  It was a bit tricky cutting out around the doors and windows for the front wall. Nevertheless, I get great pleasure out of this type of work; out of taking the time to do it right. The tricky bits have made me very thankful I have the tools. There's a couple of hand held power saws which were given to me by my step dad and uncle who no longer needed them. Truly a blessing. If I had to saw the wood by hand it'd be next July before the shed was built! I did leave a couple of the most complicated cuts for another day. Being tired by the time I reached them,  I didn't want to be handling heavy power tools.
  The rich, sweet scent of the pine boards fills the back yard and wafts into the house. It's a clean smell that delights my soul. It's the incense of newness, of creation. It means that something wonderful is taking place in the here and now. It means that nothing is becoming something. It means that this something is being done in a hope for the future.
  It means I am well. Achy, yes. A bit stiff but not overwhelmed, not anxious. It means my back is healed. That, too, is a blessing.
  It's a humble celebration of the gifts the Lord has given me. Not just the tools, but the experience, the knowledge and, dare I say with deepest gratitude, the courage to begin such a big job, to try. The video I watched on how to build the roof did a lot for that. The professional contractor being filmed used shims to disguise a cut that was less than perfect. I figured if he can make little mistakes, so can I!
  And herein lay grace. It's okay to make mistakes. God can teach us how to make them right.
  "For my eyes have seen Your salvations which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel." Lk 2:31-32

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A Mistake by Susan L.

  I decided to go with board and batten to finish the shed. I realised because of the way the roof was built, there is nothing to nail it to at the top. Not an insurmountable problem, I'll just use plywood pieces and screw them in from behind, attached to the front rafter. Not only that, but the front piece of 2x6 is narrower than the siding so I'll have to face it with another piece of wood to give a bit of an overhang. Thankfully, I'm using an aluminum trim along the edge of the roof that will give me the overhang necessary for the shingles.
  Problem solved. I am only a lay person when it comes to construction. There were bound to be some errors. Thankfully, nothing needs to be torn down and rebuilt.
  I did sort of gasp at the cost of the siding, almost as much as the rest of the shed combined. Then I thought, hopefully this project will stand for years to come. I may as well use something that will last and be beautiful at the same time.
  I built a privacy wall years ago using found lumber and old windows. Age has turned the wood gray. The faux stained glass made by applying clear silicone and gray caulking has eroded away in places. It'll need to be redone once the shed is finished because it looks rather tired. Honestly I am surprised the thing is still standing. Saggy, but standing.
  One step at a time.
  "Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established." Prov 16:3

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Builder's Brain by Susan L.

  It took me a while to fall asleep last night. My thoughts were going a gazillion miles an hour thinking about the next step in the big build. In and around those thoughts were waves of deep gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for. On top of all of that, this project is once again a redemption of the latter years of my marriage where I learned the skills needed to take the shed on in the first place.
  The little tricks of cutting wood, making sure the saw blade is on the waste side of the cut line every single time. The kerf, as it is called, or blade width is an eight of an inch wide. That adds up over several cuts and can throw everything off whack if care isn't taken. That's just one of many little bits of knowledge that have made themselves available over the last few days.
  One of my dad's favorite past times was designing houses. He'd sit and draw floor plans as he savoured his after dinner coffee. I learned that from him. Although, a square shed doesn't require much of a blueprint, only a simple layout. I'm thinking too, since my grandson is so interested in building that when he gets a bit older, I'll teach him what I know. Who knows, he just may become an architect.
  The shed is now firmly anchored. I was able to borrow a hammer drill. It worked like a charm. Its vibration causes micro fractures in the cement and enables the drill bit to penetrate the concrete. It sure gives me respect for those who built houses before the dawn of power tools!
  I want to get going. I need to go to the hardware store and pick up the lumber needed to do the board and batten exterior. It looks like a beautiful day so I want to take advantage of it.
  "I will instruct you and teach you in the ways you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Ps 32:8

Monday, 28 July 2014

Successful Build by Susan L.

  We fed the mosquitoes on Saturday and roasted on Sunday but my son and I achieved a lot. The shed walls were framed, raised and secured together. The rafters were installed. That took a bit longer because we had to figure out angles, confirm lengths, and work out where to put the notches so the rafters would sit squarely on the top of the walls. Something neither of us had done before. So glad for Youtube and the Home Hardware video that taught me how to do this.
  Putting the plywood on the roof was the only near miss for injury. The first sheet slid off before we had nailed it down nearly knocking us on the head. Other than sore muscles and a couple of blisters from the hammer, a bit of sawdust in an eye, neither of us had any injuries. Not even a sliver.
  I am thankful that whoever poured the cement slab back in 2004 really knew what they were doing. It was still absolutely level and perfectly squared. It made our job that much easier. The only problem is it is extremely hard so I need to lay my hands on a hammer drill to be able to anchor the shed to it.
  I am pleased that my careful plans were perfect as far as ordering the right amount of materials. We had exactly the three extra 2 x 4s I ordered left over. They ended up being the ones that were too warped or twisted to use in the build. (The reason I ordered a bit extra.) We only needed two extra trips to the hardware store. Once to get shorter cement screws hoping we could drill just deep enough into the slab to take them. The other trip was to return six pieces of wood which I need to finish the window frames. The fellows who chose them for the delivery had given me some pretty sad specimens. I was also short in the number of joist hangers I'd bought simply because we rethought some of my calculations and wanted to make the roof stronger.
  It's nice having a hardware store five minutes away.
  I've decided to finish the shed in board and batten. I had hoped to match the wide aluminum siding on my house but it is far more expensive than a simple shed warrants. My initial thought of painting the shed harvest gold like the house has also gone by the wayside. I've decided to paint it a soft mossy green so it will blend into the yard. But that's a ways away yet.
  There's the siding, the shingles and the door and windows to install. That'll take some time.
  I am so thankful that the weekend's forecasted thunderstorms didn't show up until late Sunday night. I am incredibly thankful for having the skills, the knowledge and the tools to take on this project. But most of all I am thankful for the best part: it was a whole lotta fun!
  "And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities." Is 61:4

Friday, 25 July 2014

Shed by Susan L.

  The plans are drawn, the materials ordered, and my son is coming up tonight for the weekend to help with the big build. It's so exciting! I can't wait to see the project completed. It will be a lot of work but I'll be happy if we get the framing done, the plywood on the roof and the door hung. All tasks that absolutely need two sets of hands. The finishing touches I can do on my own like framing out and installing the windows, putting on the siding and doing the shingles. The interior stuff can be done solo as well like building the potting bench with drawers for small garden tools and building shelves.
  I think we'll start with the hardest wall first, while minds and bodies are fresh. That's the front wall with a doorway and two windows. Yes, the plans are drawn, but the builder's saying is "measure twice, cut once". That's the wall that will set the height for the rest of the build. (I am pretty sure I have it right already.) The next will be the south side with a large window in it as well. The last two walls will be solid. It will definitely be bright inside. I really don't care for entering a dark and cobwebby shed. (Part of the incentive for getting rid of the tiny aluminum one that was in the back yard.)
  My grandson is interested in building, thanks to his Grandpappy who was able to spend some quality time with him in the mornings before school. They watched a house being built. When I told my grandson I was building a shed, the first thing he asked was if I had dug the foundations yet. Wasn't that a surprise! I told him I didn't need to because I already had a cement slab. If I remember, I'll post pictures on Facebook as the shed evolves just for him.
  I really enjoy this kind of work: building and renovating. I grew up with a renovating dad and would often fall asleep to the sound of a hammer. The smell of sawdust always reminds me of him.
  I will probably miss the next couple of posts but will be back next week.
  "Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars." Prov 9:1

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Quality Time by Susan L.

  Last weekend was a wonderful time surrounded by family, young and (sorry Mom) old. It's an immeasurable blessing to have four generations gathered around the picnic table for barbeque burgers, conversation and laughter. It doesn't get much better. Or maybe playing in the wading pool with the grandchildren is best. They had a blast splashing and playing around. The adults sat around the edge cooling their feet and playing Monkey-in-the-Middle with soaking wet spongy balls or a newly invented game of Boatsketball: trying to toss the ball into a floating, plastic toy tug boat.
  Watching my grandson and granddaughter playing sweetly with the doll house I built is a memory to be treasured. I think it's a high point for them, too. After pool time they were eager to come back inside, to cook imaginary meals in the well appointed kitchen or put toy Pluto to bed.

 The two of them are so considerate of one and another. There was no arguing, no debate, no tearful whining. There was none of the "get out of my space" territorial displays. They simply played side by side, with my grandson laughing at his sister for using a toy towel as a blanket to tuck in a little plastic bear. The only damage was because their mom dropped a wooden kitchen chair. An easy fix that simply needed a couple spots of glue.
  I really should finish the exterior. Maybe come winter.
  Years ago, (I'm getting old, too, Mom) in Florida we went into this glass shop. Beautiful stained glass panels filled the room. The shelves were filled with fragile items that sparkled in the store light. The owner also designed and made kaleidoscopes, an expensive item. I remember my mom being worried that I might drop one as I peered at it its fascinating, colourful starburst display. The owner chuckled.
  "I never worry about the kids. They never break anything," he smiled, "It's always the grownups who do."
  "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance." Is 55:2

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Another Loss by Susan L.

  An elderly friend of mine passed away last week at eighty-three. It was rather sudden. He'd taken a bad fall so his wife and friends took him to the hospital. He never came out.
  I've known them for at least seventeen years and am saddened by the loss. I was over there yesterday and kept expecting him to appear with another "to do", be it something as simple as changing a light bulb, or helping him test the water level in the wells.
  For the last few years, I've been helping him and his wife out on a regular basis. I learned grace and patience from him. As he was unable to do more, as Parkinsons ravaged his body, I learned to let him help where he could. Even if I knew I could do the task at hand much faster on my own. His gentleman's dignity and need to do deserved that much.
  Wally was a pilot who owned a couple of small planes. Years ago, we had a flying party. He and another pilot took the group of us up one by one for a brief flight on a beautiful summer day. As we crammed ourselves into the narrow cockpit of his 1945 Air Force training plane, his love of flying was obvious. He shared that he would often bring a cigar and a glass of brandy with him as he enjoyed the skies on evenings just like that one.
  He had flown for Air Canada but when he retired, the rebel in him showed up. He had a silver pony tail, allowed now because he no longer had to follow hair style policies.
  He sold his bright yellow bi-plane last year because he wasn't able to fly any more. As the plane was dismantled and packed into a large container for its trip to Australia, it was heart wrenching for him and for me to witness. Still, it's good to know it will grace the skies again.
  There's a celebration of life gathering tonight. His wife found one of his old flight logs from Wally's days in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She decided to use it as a guest registry and asked me to write in it for her:
  "Last flight, July 18, 2014, 3 AM"
  I think he'd have liked that.
  Lord, be with all who mourn this loss.
  "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah." Ps 62:8

Friday, 18 July 2014

Preparations by Susan L.

  I am so excited about having my grandchildren come camping at my place this weekend! It'll be nice to see their mom and dad too! I've weeded, primped and pruned the flower beds. The patio is trimmed of its intrusive growth and swept clean. The outside chairs have been scrubbed. The vacuuming and dusting is done. Except for some last minute tidying and getting groceries in, I am all ready.
  It had sort of gotten away from me. Feeling so overwhelmed for so long and then hurting my back meant the gardens were rather weed infested. We've had a perfect amount of rain so they've thrived. So have the flowers. Gardens planted five years ago have matured and are nicely filled in. I may even have to do some dividing in the spring.
  My favorite, Black-Eyed Susans, are about to erupt in bloom. The purple Bee Balm has and attracts humming birds which are always a treat to see.
  A frog has moved in to the pond. Something that has become a bit of a summer tradition. It has me wondering if it's the same one year after year. It's pretty big. How long does a frog live anyways?
  My folks are coming up on Sunday as well. They haven't seen their great-grandchildren for a while. Or me for that matter. The plan is, pray the weather is good, to have a barbeque, bonfire and a good time. I've got plenty of scrap wood and branches to burn. I might even burn some weeds in the daytime simply to keep the mosquitoes away with smoke. We need a heat wave to get rid of the suckers. That simply hasn't happened yet which is rather unusual.
  As an observation, I can tell my meds are working. A short while ago, just the thought of having company would have had me extremely anxious. Never mind all the prep. I'm not. Is it ever nice! Thank You Lord, for creating the people who created these helpful treatments.
  "Oh, give thanks to the God of Heaven! For His mercy endures forever." Ps 136:26

Thursday, 17 July 2014

A Sign by Susan L.

    A local church has a sign out front where every week they put a new inspirational saying. Sometimes they are thoughtful and enlightening or funny. This week's not so much. It says, "With hope there is no broken heart." (I think that's right.)
  I trust the Lord to use these signs but for me, this one stirred up some issues. And I smile. I guess the Lord is using it in my life anyways! It has made me angry.
  For me, this statement enforces that old Christian myth, that a life with Jesus will stop us from ever feeling the bad things again. It instills shame, that somehow we are inadequate as followers of Jesus if we do feel anything but happy, snappy worshippers. It reinforces the belief that if we hurt emotionally, we are some how less than, or not good enough to enter God's house.
  It's the opposite that is true. Despite the sign. To paraphrase, "Come to Me, you who are heavy laden."
  Someone once commented years ago that, as a "Christian", my eyes shouldn't look so sad. That was before my breakdown. Before the two hospitalizations. Before years of therapy. Before being diagnosed with depression and PTSD. I had Jesus. How could I look so sad? It puzzled me at the time. I couldn't help what my eyes looked like.
  They aren't so sad looking any more. There's been a lot of healing but there's still deep and life impacting wounds as I have shared. It's those wounds, the hurt, that have enabled me to connect to my Lord on so many levels. Jesus' cup wasn't fizzy pop. It was suffering, rejection, pain, sorrow and yes, His heart has broken many times. Over us. Over what damage we do to each other.
  That's why He died.
  The good stuff is in there too. The cup contains the ability to surrender, to sacrifice, to let go. Laughter, redemption, forgiveness, determination, intimacy, play, and limitless possibilities are also there when we drink deeply of His life's blood. But mostly there is acceptance and tender encouragement to rise above this life on earth, to be a better person.
  I think the sign should read, "In Christ a broken heart can hope."
  If you don't know Him on a personal level, I invite you to ask Jesus into your heart just as you are. No preparations necessary. There's nothing He'd like more than to be with you.
  Simply say, "Lord, forgive me my sins. I want You to be in my life, my heart, my present and my future. Holy Spirit, wisdom and guide, I need You to be with me now and forever. Help me learn God's way. In Jesus Name I pray."
  Peace be with you.
  "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in times of need." Heb 4:15-16

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hello, Hello by Susan L.

  So I madly scribbled a piece to read for writer's group last night. Six thirty saw me racing out the door so I'd be there on time. Halfway there I realised the group was last Tuesday. How had I missed it? Oh, yah, hurt back. I chuckled. Silly me. The theme was "how to..." and this is what was inspired:

  The how to how do you do greeting:
  A curtsey if the regal queen in all her finery is before you but only if you're female.
  Shaking hands traditions:
  Limp, fingers only, palm to palm firm, (always be firm the experts say it apparently makes the best impression. A lesson the politicians know well).
  Damp, dry, hard, soft, calloused, smooth,
  Gentle when the aged hand that's grasped is gnarled and frail,
  A squeeze to much to bear.
  The double cheeked kiss that never connects,
  An ear buzzing, puckered smack from between pursed lips.
  The space invader returns to the safety of their own,
  "It's so good to see you!"
  The full on bear hug for a friend, for comfort, for encouragement.
  Tears if it's one long lost but found once again.
  More if it's your love.
  The maiden's blush, the young man's flush and stammer of the ages,
  "Will you d-d-dance with me?"
  A nod across a crowded conference room,
  The I-see-you-and-am-glad-to-know-I-am-not-alone.
  A fleeting car horn toot simply to toot your own horn
  At a neighbour on the sidewalk,
  "Hi! Hello! I know you! How cool is that!"
  Even if a mistake is made and it wasn't who you thought
  They smile and wave right away and wonder as you pass,
  "Who was that?"
  The bended knee, the squat, the eye to eye
  To include a child hiding shyly behind a leggy fortress.
  A baby wave enough to make everyone grin with more than parental pride.
  "See? There's nothing to fear."
  To greet: to hail, to salute and welcome,
  Thesaurus words short listed but falling short of the meaning, the depth,
  The importance,
  Of a thousand thousand ways that say,
  "How incredibly pleased I am to have you in my life!"

  As I was writing, I couldn't shake the image of the Lord doing the greeting, except for the curtsey.
  "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thes 1:1

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Susan L, One; Trigger, Zero

 I went to church on Sunday. It's hard returning to a place where a full blown panic attack has erupted. It's much easier to avoid such venues, to avoid the gut wrenching anxiety about being there. Yes, the number of times I didn't have an attack far outweigh the once but it's that once that causes the struggle. Why is that I wonder?
  Could part of it be shame? It's impossible to keep a lid on the attacks when they decide to come, when the fight/flight response goes into overdrive. I know I don't like falling apart in public. Lord, help me forgive those who caused me to believe that somehow I am responsible for them, that I am not strong enough, that these attacks are somehow a twisted way of getting attention, that they are a reason to be embarrassed. Forgive me Father for believing these lies. Especially the one about being embarrassed.
  I went to the Canadian Legion on Saturday to hear a woman share of a healing method for PTSD. It was very interesting but the understory is the Legion. They have cheap beer. My ex and I spent a lot of hours at the one in Orangeville where I would watch him get drunk on numerous occasions. I had quit drinking by this time and was forever the designated driver trapped by circumstances. I was nervous about going for that one reason, while the Alliston branch is not one where we spent any time, the sounds and the smells of rancid beer are identical.
  Sad memories.
  The group was small so we were able to test the healing method which I confess was a bit bizarre but it did yield surprising and instant results. I hadn't realized how much the sound of rattling beer bottles terrified me. Like an air raid siren, the glassy rattle warned of coming danger.
  The outcome? Beer bottles can't hurt me.
  I am always amazed at what triggers an emotional response. I am just as delighted when it is diffused.
  "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb 12:1-2

Monday, 14 July 2014

Encouragement by Susan L.

  Thank you to all the readers who have responded to my angst filled musings about relationships. It sort of parallels a task that was given to me by the woman who led me to the Lord so many years ago. I was to take my concordance and look up the word "love". I was to read the scriptures paying particular attention to the words in red. When done, I was to start reading all over again until I "got it". It felt punitive because it emphasized my brokenness, my lacking, my faults. I think that's why I am having such a hard time with Dr. K's question.
  I tried. I said somewhere down the line that it was like giving a pile of car parts to someone and telling them to build a vehicle when they had never even seen a car. However, something did come out of it before giving up because it was too painful. I learned I knew well what love is NOT.
  I have since learned that love cannot be embraced when it cannot be received. Unworthiness, low self esteem, distrust, suspicion, fear, pride, shame, guilt, self hate... you know, the crippling things that hold us back, the sins that stop us from being able to embrace the kind tenderness of another. This is not just in human relationships but also with our God. 
  When we believe we are unlovable, love is not for us. When love comes with thorns, it's easier to never go there again, to remain distant and aloof.
  We have a forgiving God and a patient one.
  Here's the good part. God knew this about me. He knew He couldn't sweep in with terms of endearment and outpourings of gushy love. From the moment I felt the light of the Holy Spirit wash over me I sought to be free of the lies that crippled me. The beginning of faith was set in Ephesians, the armor of God. The seeds flourished in repentance and forgiveness and in battle. I learned what partaking of the cup of Christ meant.
  He also taught me to dance.
  As I began to uncover my identity, beginning with the fundamental understanding of gender. He forgave me for hating that aspect of myself. I did a word study all my own, "woman". I met Martha and Mary whose story brought much healing and understanding. I stopped hating the soft and vulnerable side of myself, the Mary part who had been so damaged. 
  I also grew to know my Lord and to trust Him. Mostly, I have grown to love Him and can say I am much better at receiving love. Thank You, Lord, for Your grace.
  "Love suffers long and is kind." 1 Cor 13:4 (And much, much more.)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

So Who Decides? by Susan L.

  Okay. Enough of the victim behaviour. That's not healthy because I am not a victim, I am a woman who has had these things happen to her. Yes, it has left me damaged. Yes, I still bear emotional scars from those experiences but I am no longer that person who was powerless, helpless, and invisible. I am no longer the mouse who was afraid to make a noise in her own home in case the cat might pounce. That was then, this is now.
  Gee, that feels like a locker room pep talk.
  I forwarded the last two posts to Dr. K, my psychiatrist. He responded warmly. He asked that rather than use the word "push", he'd like me to think about it as him encouraging me to address important issues.
  Okay, so who decides if something actually is an issue? My good doctor or me? I'll ask him that the next time we meet.
  I am fine being single but I am also open to possibilities, trusting in my Lord to guide me according to His plan for my life. That should be sufficient, more than sufficient. I think too that this openness speaks volumes about the healing that has taken place.
  As for making a list of the attributes I would need in a man (something else Dr. K asked me to do) before I would consider a relationship; that is dangerous ground as well because no one human being could ever live up to that list.
  I like to live with expectancy as opposed to having expectations.
  Mind you, it would make it easy to find reasons not to get involved with someone. "Nope, failed on item 322: hair in the sink. Outcha go!"
  I have my quirks. What can I say?
  It feels good to laugh.
  I do have one thing, a prayer actually, is that whoever or whenever or if ever there is a relationship possibility is that he will do right by me. I don't think that is too much to ask.
  "Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." Jn 16:24

Friday, 11 July 2014

On Being Pushed by Susan L.

  During the conversation about relationships with my psychiatrist I told him I don't like being pushed. He smiled and said his job wasn't all about patting me on the hand and praising me. It was his job to push as well.
  I asked myself why I don't like being pushed.
  The answer came in an avalanche of understanding.
  Part of it is about trusting myself to make the right choices. I struggle over cereal in the grocery store. I haven't had a good track record there. I've got the PTSD to remind me of that.(Yes, I know it isn't all my fault, others made choices that impacted me terribly. I am still grieving that aspect of my life.)
  Mostly it makes me angry because the pusher is acting on what they feel is best for me, that I need to conform to their ideas for my life. Being pushed robs me of my rights to be a wholly independent, self-governing person (with God at the helm of course). It smears my personhood with shame and raises doubt within myself about myself when there is nothing to be ashamed of. It sends a sledge hammer message that I am not good enough just as I am, at least, according to the one doing the pushing.
  I am a human so yes, I know there is room for growth. Yes, I know there is much need of healing. Yes, I know there are still skeletons that need facing. When I am ready, I jump, feet first, into the depths. When I am ready I'll do what needs to be done, go where I need to go, surrender what needs to be surrendered. I will choose to forgive what needs to be forgiven and ask to be forgiven! I trust the Holy Spirit to lead me. I surrender to God's will for my future.
  Being pushed was the story of my life. I conformed to what others expected of me for as long as I can remember, so much so that by the final years of my marriage, even my thoughts, ideas and opinions were not my own. All I ever wanted to do was please others, to make them happy. (Impossible, I know.) I worked so darn hard to be good enough but it was never enough. Somehow I never seemed to measure up; what I did never measured up. How I acted, felt, looked, created, worked was less than acceptable. That sick message was hammered home time and time again.
  Abusers are adept at stripping any shreds of self-confidence away. It's how they keep control. I am still digging myself out from under the lies with God's help and God's truth filling in the holes.
  I am not disposable! I AM worth loving just as I am! (Help me, Lord, believe these things in my heart.)
  I don't want to get on that particular hamster wheel ever again, of allowing others to push me in a direction of their deciding, doctor or no doctor, because NO ONE has the right to decide on my behalf what is best for me!
  As for a relationship with a man? If that is a barometer of wellness, there's something seriously wrong with this picture.
  "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Rev 21:4

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Doing Better, Sort Of by Susan L.

    My back has definitely improved over the last day or so. I was able to drive an hour there and back to my appointment with my psychiatrist without too much difficulty. I'm glad. The Celebration of Life service for my pastor is today and I wanted to go. Not that I knew him that well but to support the families, his and the church.
  I'm trying not to think about the crowds of people that will be there. If I can find a quiet place near the back of the church it'll be just fine.
  My appointment with Dr. K stirred up a lot of skeletons I would have much rather have left in the closet. He asked me "the question" again. The one about being willing to have a relationship with a man.
  Sigh. I sort of understand why he asks. I just don't like being pushed. Isn't that something to investigate further. Why don't I like being pushed?   
  Anyways, the male track record in my life has not been very good. An understatement if there ever was one.
  It speaks volumes about the healing hand of God that I don't outright hate them. Fear them, yes. Distrust them, yes. Feel compassion for them, yes. Champion them, yes. Be a peer to them, yes. They too are often victims of sexual or physical abuse and struggle with mental health issues. If I can help somehow...regardless of gender. Praise be to God.
  Yes, I get lonely sometimes but even in a relationship that feeling can be there too.
  There have been a few good men in my life. My stepfather is a loving and gentle man. I never lived under the same roof with him, but his kind generosity towards my mom over the last twenty-eight years is a lovely thing to witness. I've met a few nice men through church and the centre: sensitive and compassionate. They have brought me healing in places I never thought could be healed.
  Still, I am as wary as a deer in hunting season whenever they are around. I've met Mr. Hyde only to discover Dr. Jekyll underneath far too many times.
  All I can say is Your will, my Lord, not mine.
  "When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him." Lk. 12:58

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Good Books by Susan L.

 Actually, the good books are by Dean R. Koontz. I only have two of the series about a character called Odd Thomas. Someone donated them to the centre. I waffled a bit about bringing them home because other books by the same author have scared the pants off me.
  These ones are totally different. Mr. Koontz writes with a delightfully quirky sense of humour and a deep sensitivity I wouldn't have expected from someone who is generally a horror writer. Yes, the books are about the undead whom Odd can see. He acts as a therapist and helps them pass to the other side by letting go of whatever is holding them back. Odd has gifts of prophecy. His purpose in life is to prevent those events from coming true because they involve a lot of people dying. Good vs evil and the vanquishing hero. Doesn't get better than that.
  The first one I read was called Brother Odd who was living in a monastery, recuperating from his own personal losses. Mr. Koontz portrayed the monks as both human and God filled. He holds a deep respect for the rituals of the Catholic order. He also holds a deep respect and love for all of God's creations. This tenderness supports the story like nothing else ever could.
  I wouldn't mind talking with Mr. Koontz. He has some profound and gentle teachings about how we deal with loss. These philosophies of hope trickle through the story lines of both books. I am going to be sorry to finish the second.
  Perhaps a trip to the second hand book store might be in order. I'd like to read more.
  My journey towards Christ began with Dan Brown and The Davinci Code. I began my own hunt for the Holy Grail, the Cup of Christ. His book inspired me to research more into the Crusades where the knights were doing the same thing. Only what was actually happening was the Knights were on their own personal quest for spiritual enlightenment. Something the Church frowned upon. Reading about it filled my heart with hunger for the same opportunity. But, back then, enlightenment was supposed to be the domain of the Priests alone. (I am glad that has changed!) The search for the Cup was how the Knights disguised their quest so the powerful Church of the time would not be alarmed. (I am glad that has changed, too!)
  Yes, I found the Cup and have drank freely and deeply from it.
  I know The Davinci Code raised a lot of fierce debate and hate filled condemnation within Christian circles. I have witnessed such responses and it grieved my soul. It was incredibly ugly. If we lived in long ago days, Mr. Brown would have been the target of a vicious witch hunt.
  God can and will use all things to bring us closer to Him. Even an unlikely character named Odd.
  "Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately." Lk 12:35-36

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Icepacks and Heat by Susan L.

  There's been a bit of improvement over yesterday. The back is still rather tender so another day of rest is in order. I picked up some absolutely horrible tasting, over-the-counter painkillers that have an anti-inflammatory in them and some medicinal/numbing muscle rub. Good thing the pain is in my lower back or I'd never be able to reach the spot that hurts!
  God has provided. When H and I went camping, I'd picked up some of those bags that make ice cubes. Simply fill them, tie a knot at the top and pop them in the freezer. For "some reason" I'd missed one when I'd filled the cooler. Just last week, I'd been shaking my head, wondering how I'd missed it in the first place. It came in real handy yesterday as I applied it to my back.
  I'd love to have a nice hot bath but getting out of the tub might pose a problem. I can see me laughing my head off at that rather embarrassing circumstance. There would be no one to hear me and I doubt Pumpkin would be much help. If anything, being a cat, he'd probably point a fuzzy white paw and laugh right along with me. I'll play it safe and take a hot shower instead.
  It has put a big question mark on my plans for sure. A strong back is needed to build a shed even though that is a couple of weeks away. Heck, a strong back is needed to stand over my sink that's set too far back from the edge of the counter and do the dishes!
  I slipped a disc in my neck years ago pushing a four hundred pound, round bale of hay around. I got good at bench pressing them to flip them over to the round side. (Yes, I was built like a tank.) We didn't have the equipment to move them because we'd rented the equipment to make them. It was all brute force. I'd unroll them like toilet paper and toss the hay down to the various animals in flakes. But that was a long while ago. And again, I am thankful. This is nowhere near as painful as that.
  On a positive note, my anxiety has diminished to nearly zero. The medication increase has done the trick. It is a huge relief, to not have that awful, exhausting feeling gnawing away at my peace.
  "For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name." Lk 1:49

Monday, 7 July 2014

Aches and Strains by Susan L.

  So, I can apparently dismantle a shed, toss wheelbarrows of dirt around, push a lawnmower but picking up tiny pieces of crumbled asphalt has done me in. My back gave way. It's a muscle strain that is sending spasms down my upper legs. Not a pleasant experience. I hope spending the day lying quietly, dosed up on painkillers will speed up the healing. It's a good thing I have a good book on the go and one waiting to be cracked open.
  I am pleased that even so, the space where the shed is going to be built is tidied up completely. The asphalt went along the shaded north side of the house. The soil is a dusty, powdery sand where nothing but dandelions and brambles grow. A wooden frame filled with several layers of newspaper, the bits of driveway to weigh it down and stones on top should help keep the area tidy. If anything it will make washing the basement windows worthwhile. There will be no dirt splashing up when it rains!
  I had horded buckets of stone to use in the garden. I spent more time moving them around than putting them to use. This seemed like a good way to get rid of them as well. I may purchase some ornamental stone as a finishing layer but that, too, will have to wait until my back is up to snuff.
  The car is loaded for a dump run although it may be a couple of days before it gets emptied. At least it's one step closer than it was yesterday.
  I enjoy the physical work. Lord, I am thankful for my strength. Thank You that the back pain is only a temporary setback.
  Now for some serious R&R.
  "Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!" Ps 38:22

Sunday, 6 July 2014

One Step at a Time by Susan L.

  It was a lovely day yesterday: hot without the humidity. Today is the same.
  I got the old aluminum shed taken down. Thankfully without a scratch. The back yard looks bare but at least the eyesore is gone. There's still a bit more cleanup to do before the concrete slab is clean enough to begin building on. I used the space behind the shed as a bit of a dumping ground for some asphalt torn up from the driveway. I'm not quite sure what I am going to do with it yet, probably a load to the dump is in order. I know someone who will come and take the scrap metal. That will save a trip.
   It's exciting to be one step closer to building the new shed but it'll be a couple of weeks before I can start. That is if my son can come at that time. If not, there's always August. That will also give me some time to finalise the design and make sure my measurements are correct.
  My other son, his partner and the grandkids are hopefully coming in a couple of weeks, weather permitting. Camping at Nanasue's. They had invited me down next weekend but there is a woman coming to our local Legion to give a talk on healing PTSD that I want to attend.
  I plan on having my grandson help me build and hang a small swing. There's a branch of the apple tree that's just begging to have little ones swing from it. Too bad it's not thick enough to support me!
  The outdoors is calling as loudly as the birds this morning: God's choir. I am going to enjoy the day.
  "The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, and his righteousness endures forever." Ps 111:2-3

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Sad News by Susan L.

   My pastor passed away peacefully last night at ten thirty. He was a young man to have left us so early, I believe only in his late fifties, but his life's influence will continue. His lungs and other organs went on to give better lives to someone else. What a beautiful gift. Something all of us should do.
  I titled this post "Sad News" but there is also joy in it. Pastor Randy is now at home with his Maker.
  He has left behind a wife, children and grandchildren who will miss him terribly. His church family is also reeling from the sudden loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone as they tackle the business of organising a funeral. It is a hard and challenging time for all involved. May God's grace and peace cover them all.
  That's all for today.
  "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen." Mat 6:9-13

Friday, 4 July 2014

Prayer Requests by Susan L.

    There was a tragic event in Alliston a couple of weeks ago. This morning I am felt led to ask for prayers for the families involved. A drunk driver killed one man and badly injured another town worker who were working the night shift on the main street of town. They were repainting the parking lines when the driver ploughed through and kept on going. The police were able to follow the paint splatters to the man's home where he was arrested and later charged.
  I'd like to hold him and his family up to God. Small towns have long memories. I pray the driver gets the help he needs. I'd like to ask for prayer for his family as well. The victim's families and the injured need prayer, above and beyond those needed to uphold them during the trying times of the first couple of weeks. Recovery from such a tragedy takes much longer.
  A constant figure of the downtown area passed away last week from natural causes. George spent his days washing the store windows and chatting to anyone and everyone. His limping, lumbering form and gentle demeanor will be missed by many. Please pray for all who are touched by this loss.
  Lastly, my pastor had a heart attack last Saturday. He was rushed to hospital where a stent was put in. There have been some issues with brain swelling due to lack of oxygen...
  I just read this morning's update. He has irreparable brain damage with no chance of survival. He will be taken off life support tomorrow. May God speed his passing. And Lord? Be with his family.
  If anyone you know is hurting, or suffering, or coping with catastrophic events, add them to this small list. The prayers of two are heard, the prayers of a world standing in agreement can ease the pain in the world. May the Holy Spirit guide our words. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Mat 5:3-4

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Speed Zone Changes by Susan L.

  Cars go racing and trucks go thundering by my home well over the speed limit on a regular basis. Half a country block north, just before the row of houses of which I am part, the limit changes from seventy klicks to eighty. The road is straight and relatively flat with only one big hill a couple of kilometers south near the highway. The new pavement of a couple years ago simply begs to put the pedal to the metal.
  There are a two narrow bridges where a pair of pickup trucks would be hard pressed to pass without knocking the side mirrors off. Most of the time drivers take turns, treating them as a singe lane. Whoever gets there first gets the right-of-way as a courtesy. Maybe that's why the speed limit is eighty, the bridges act as natural stop signs. It doesn't have any effect if there's no one coming from the opposite direction.
  Several years ago, the third night I was in my new home, a young driver lost control at the bridge three driveways down from me. He ended up becoming airborne and flew into my neighbour's trees. His passenger, a nineteen year old girl, was thrown from the car and later died. I believe the driver succumbed to his injuries a few days later. This tragedy was all because of speed.
  I am wondering who to talk to about getting the speed limit changed. I wonder if I am the only one it bothers. Would a petition have an impact (I've heard they don't.)? Or would it be better to get everyone in our little community, some dozen houses, to call...the town? The ministry of transportation? The police?
  It bears some looking in to. Not only for my own peace of mind but perhaps it just might save a life.
  "The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise." Prov 15:31

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Hesitation by Susan L.

  The increase in my anti-depressant seems to be working. The over-the-top anxiety has eased considerably, becoming more situational than constant. It's a relief. A huge one.
  The art therapist gave me some contact info for a couple of other art therapists in the area. This gives me options should I want to continue exploring the issues that got stirred up in our last group session. Sadly, she doesn't have a space to work with me one on one.
  The thought of starting with someone new...the thought of having to rehash everything, to fill them in about my background, when I've come so far...Why open healed wounds?
  Then there are the horses.
  I watched "Warhorse" last night. The star, Joey, reminds me so much of a mare I once owned: his colour, his graceful movement, the way he holds his head. Stunning. So is she. Even at pasture she stood out as something special. I happily sold her to a woman who was looking for a lifetime companion, to do some small hunter/jumper shows. I spoke to the owner once after the purchase, she had some inquiries into the mare's Hanoverian/Thoroughbred parentage. My Sophia was the star of the barn.
  We nearly lost her as a newborn foal. She was born, overdue, and her bowel was blocked solid. It took the vet calling the University of Guelph Animal Hospital to find some way to get her to poop. He'd already tried everything he knew. If their suggestion hadn't worked, she would have been put down. Thank God, it did. Never did a little pile of manure mean so much.
  There was a write up last Wednesday in our local paper about the Horse Therapy farm I visited a few weeks ago. I don't believe in coincidence. I think before I try a new art therapist, an appointment at the farm might be a good place to start.
  Lord, Your will be done.
  "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You." Ps 56:3