Sunday, 31 August 2014

Finished! by Susan L.

  I was up and out this morning fairly early. The end was in sight and I wanted to beat the heat which is downright suffocating with the humidity today, probably somewhere near 40 C. So with a nice cup of coffee and something sweet I am holding a quiet celebration almost a month to the day the big build was started.
  I almost feel like smashing a bottle of champagne against the corner to launch her!
  There are little things I would do differently should such a project ever come my way again. Most of it was because this has been a huge learning curve for me. I thank the Lord that nothing had to be ripped out and redone, that mistakes were small enough to ignore or easily fixed. I thank Him for the foundation in construction fundamentals that have found their way into my life from watching my dad and working with my ex on renovations. Little things like always cutting the wood on the waste side of the line or how to straighten a nail. The nail trick was the only carpentry skill my dad actually taught me. A different generation who felt hammers and such were the domain of men.
  I am thankful for the provision that made the shed possible.
  I am ever so grateful it turned out as well as it did.
  With deepest gratitude I never hit my thumb with the hammer. Finger, yes. And I think of another Carpenter who probably did the same as He learned His trade...

  The coffee's done, the dishes aren't. So here she is:
    "So the carpenter encouraged the goldsmith; He who smooths with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil." Is 41:7

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Taking a Chance by Susan L.

  I spent another four hours after work last night on the shed staining the walls and painting the trim and door. The stain ran out. I need to get another gallon and quart to finish and do a second coat. It will be much faster than the first. It sure took a lot of brushing back and forth to get the stain worked in to all the rough spots on the barn board. There's a small chance of thunderstorms but I think I'll risk spending the day working on getting all the brushwork finished. It'll mean a full day but if I can get it ready to install the trim, the final task, I'll be so pleased.
  I said before how much I want this job finished!
  I need to head out to the hardware store before I can start and I want to get going so that's it for today.
  "Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Lk 20:26

Friday, 29 August 2014

Gentle Morning by Susan L.

  At last a morning I can slide in to without being rushed to get my blog done before the busy-ness of the day takes over. I miss having these moments when they aren't there. Somehow the day doesn't feel quite right.
  After work yesterday I spent a few hours working on the shed until the sun vanished behind the trees and the light was too poor. All the windows and trim are now ready for paint and two walls are stained with a first coat. It's a slow and painstaking labour of brush because the barn board is rough and it takes a brush to work the stain into all the various grooves and knots of the pine. I picked a putty/gray clay colour that is in the shingles to soften the appearance and have it blend in a bit. In surveying the job I realised it matches the 1950's stone cut cinder block foundation of the house. The trim is going to be a medium dark taupe, again a colour from the shingles. I chose a grayish denim blue for the door to give it some oomph.
  I'll be glad when it's finished. I never thought the big build would take so long. Although with all the rain, work and with going away it delayed the process somewhat. I just have to remind myself to be patient, to not rush the finishing touches, something I am prone to doing. That's when mistakes are made.
  It's nice too to take this time to daydream a bit about the flower beds I am going to put around it next spring. I hope to put some different plants in instead of simply dividing what I have which is how most of the other gardens have been created. That's one downside to having mostly perennials. When they get too big, what do you do with the pieces divided from the main plant? Simple. Create another flower bed!
  I'm still thinking about a saying to put above the door although I'll make a plaque instead of painting it directly on the trim. That way if it needs re-painting I only have to take it down instead of standing on a ladder doing the lettering. I have a steady hand but it's not that steady.
  But I get ahead of myself. Let's get her finished first.
  "Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches."" Lk 13:18-19

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Simple Lessons by Susan L.

  Every outing is an adventure waiting to happen. We took a couple of guided hiking tours at Killbear. One was about ferns, the other about lichens, the flat extremophiles who live on bare rock. The fellow who did the lichen talk, a subject matter I thought might be rather dull, had such passion about these plants that aren't really plants that he made it exciting and fascinating. We walked with him back to the car after the tour was over and had a great opportunity to learn even more about other plants in the forest.
  I learned another rather important point as well. Marshmallows don't keep in a hot car. They didn't go bad but became a mass of sticky goo impossible to get a fork into for roasting.
  The best moment for me was when I clambered out to a rocky point and stood looking at the magnificent scenery all around and beneath my feet. The granite was twisted pink with bands of rose quartz running through it. Green, gray, black, silver, and yellow lichens mottled the surface where winter ice doesn't reach. Tiny pockets of earth held plants and small shrubs. There was one spot where the granite in its perpetual dive beneath the surface made the water shallow. A large group of minnows swam lazily about within this haven. Puddles in some of the indents held their own mini-environment. Diving beetles and other swimming insects held court over these small areas.
  It's a beautiful piece of God's green earth.
  "Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honour of His name; make His praise glorious." Ps 66:1-2

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Home Safe by Susan L.

  Killbear Provincial Park is a massive tract of land with over a thousand camp sites spread over six or so areas. We had one of the best, I think, because it was more private than some of the others that seemed to be crammed one on top of the other. It's a beautiful place nonetheless. The Canadian Shield bubbles up between patches of mixed forest in great swooping embankments of pink and gray granite. Small coves provide sandy beaches with breath taking views and crystal clear water. The forest floor is littered with boulders deposited there from the last ice age.
   It is home to bears, which we didn't see and a healthy population of white tailed deer. We saw several does and best of all a young three point buck which is a real treat because they tend to be more shy. We saw a doe with twin spotted fawns just as we were leaving to come home. What a great farewell to an awesome trip.  
  The highlight was seeing a small rattle snake, a species at risk. There's approximately two hundred an fifty in the park. Because of its size, sightings are rare. We were blessed. Another hiker had spotted it while we were on a guided hike with a park naturalist. The park asks if you see one to let staff know. They microchip them and take general statistics. This little one was too small for that so our guide simply made note of its location via GPS.
  They have short fences to stop the snakes from crossing the road and have provided tunnels underneath for all sorts of wildlife, not just snakes. The low tunnels are monitored by motion sensor cameras and microchip readers. If a snake goes through, they'll know exactly which one it was. They can also see what other animals use them to get across the road as well. The park services as many as five thousand visitors a day. The roads are a dangerous place for wildlife.
  The weather was perfect, not a drop of rain fell. The mosquitoes were no where near as bad as I expected them to be. I didn't even need repellent! Except for the potential for bears, the only real risk we faced was the danger of being beaned by falling acorns.
  It's good to be home. My goodness how the grass has grown since I've been gone!
  "The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad!" Ps 97:1

Friday, 22 August 2014

We're Off by Susan L.

  A restless night, too hot, too cold, waking every time I rolled over. Too much excitement I guess.       
  The car is mostly packed. There's just the cooler and clothes to go in. It gets easier each time the routine is exercised. Every item has its place. It helps too that the camp kit is growing. Small items keep being added that stay with the gear instead of having to raid the kitchen cupboards for bits and pieces other than food. A few more trips and it'll be a matter of grabbing a couple of boxes and we're ready.
  The mosquito repellent is right on top.
  I am looking forward to the drive. I've never been up that way before.
  I'd best go. Don't want to be rushing around at the last minute. I'll be back in a few days. God willing.
  "The earth is the Lord's in all its fullness. The world and those who dwell therein." Ps 24:1

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Of August Storms by Susan L.

  The watery air is thick with anticipation. Not a breath of wind touches the treetops. Smoky gray replaces idyllic blue. Darker. Darker. The sky presses down heavy. Brilliant flashes dance. The one second, two second, three, fo... a feel-it-in-your-bones grumble echoes and echoes as far as the ears can hear. Counting the miles from the when/where lightening sliced pierced the ground in trepidation. Is it coming? Will it pass? Distant rumbles draw nearer. One, two... The static, cellophane crackle of a nearby strike; a pointed, blinding barb of light too close for comfort. O (A jump making, heart stopping booming snarl) ne.
  Pumpkin fur flying flees from my side at the window to a refuge under the bed.
  Fat drops gain momentum. Silvered cousins, brothers, aunts join the monsoon torrent. Too much too fast. The ground rebels. Temporary rivers along the side of the road race the cars tearing by in a whoosh and a splash. Tree boughs laden with water bow before the storm. The apples on the driveway float in a newly formed mini-lake.
  One, two,, I hear it? Faintly, faintly...twelve.  
  A cricket tentatively chirps an angel harp chorus, "Rejoice! Rejoice! The storm has passed!"
  The lowering sun bathes glistening greens in a light rarely seen this side of heaven; a light tasting of newness, of sins washed away. The fleeing clouds are painted colours no earthly artist could ever duplicate: unimaginable shades of pink, lavender green, purples deep, and gilded billows. Yellow flowers gently sway in an aura of gold as they shake the rain from their petals. Tree trunks shimmer old penny copper. The dark ribbon of road steams iridescent droplets.
  It lasts only breath holding, heart aching at the beauty moments before the clouds thicken, drawing a curtain over the light.
   A soft rain begins to fall.
  "You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance. They drop on the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills rejoice on every side." Ps 65:11-12

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Spam Comments by Susan L.

   Something Posing As Meat. That's what it used to mean. It was developed for the soldiers during the war to provide them with protein in a can. It's still available in grocery stores. Some people actually like it!
  Now it represents unwanted, unsolicited comments on a blog or web page. The name fits the telephone solicitors of the tech age. It's hard differentiating between actual commenters or those who are working for a company to push their product through an unsuspecting forum. I'm glad the computer does it for me.
  In saying that, I apologize to anyone who comments with no ulterior motive and the mechanical brains of this operation ships them off to the spam folder. Because of my lack of technical abilities, I have to trust the machine. I do read them. They just don't show on the blog site.
  One comment in the spam folder talked about their father suggesting this blog to them. Is this true or is it really spam? The comment also contained a link to some sort of product. Am I na├»ve to think that a person would never use a family member like that?
  I want to make it very clear should one of these links slip by the spam police I do not endorse any product or products contained in a comment. Any endorsements would appear in the body of the post. I'd be happy finding out how to avoid spam in the first place but I suppose since my laptop is part of the global village, it's likely to be sprayed with graffiti. That and I want to keep it easy for valid commenters to access the comments space on my posts.
  It's humbling and encouraging to read your thoughts and comments. They contain real meat. It's humbling looking at the world map that highlights the countries where people have accessed my blog. It's an international feast of many languages and cultures who pay honour to my little bits of writing.
  Thank you, dear readers, for your support and for taking the time to share. It means a lot to me. The glory be to God!
  "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 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." Heb 12:1-2


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Burst of Yellow by Susan L.

  I don't have a lot of flowers. Most of my garden is textural and utilizes the different shades and shapes of leaves I have a couple of favorite flowers though: the black-eyed susans, two other tall plants with sunshine yellow flowers, and a self-seeding annual with yellow-orange blossoms are in full and glorious bloom. The morning sun makes the colour explode. At twilight they glow with an ethereal light.  A delightful harvest for the eyes.
  The squirrels are raiding the apple tree beside my driveway. It's become a late summer ritual. I don't mind. Most of the fruit is too high up in the old tree for me to reach. Someone may as well enjoy them. I used to rake up the fallen ones but once the tree is bare, they take those ones as well and squirrel them away. Finding an apple in the middle of the back yard always makes me smile. See? Apples can fall far from the tree.
  I suppose that's how I ended up with a clump of small bloomed, fiery red sunflowers growing beside the house. They were pilfered from my neighbour last year by an ambitious squirrel who decided the soft sandy soil would be a perfect place to stash a mid-winter's meal.
  It's a lovely morning and they're calling for showers later. Time to get outside. The car is in the shop getting vetted for the trip up north on Friday so I'm housebound today. I'm glad. It'll be nice to simply putter around.
  "There He makes the hungry dwell, that they may establish a city for a dwelling place, and sow fields and plant vineyards that they may yield a fruitful harvest." Ps 107:36-37

Monday, 18 August 2014

Finishing Touches by Susan L.

  The forecast for the next three days isn't so great. The shed is ready to be stained and the trim painted but the three days of rain ahead have meant that the final task is postponed. I spent yesterday cutting the trim boards for around the windows and tacking them into place to make sure they fit. The corners are also now completed. That took a  bit of frittery fitting. The new table saw worked like a dream. The trim has been removed to make painting it easier and to make staining the rest of the shed easier as well. The potting bench got built as well providing a space underneath for my snow tires.
  Gee. No wonder I was tired last night!
  I'm going to build an old style wooden toolbox for my gardening tools. I might go all artsy-craftsy and paint it. I was going to build drawers under the bench but that sort of fell by the wayside. Maybe  they could be added later.
  I'd like to get everything that's outside under tarps locked up in it's rightful place in the new shed before I go away. Again, a time item.
  It felt funny packing most of the tools, screws, nails and other sundry items away. It's surprising how many different items were needed: a whole laundry basket full. It took many trips into the basement to get everything stashed away, or at least down there. The away bit can wait.
  This project has taken a lot longer than anticipated. It's the little tasks that take the time, that are worth taking the time over.
  I picked up some broken patio stones from the hardware store to do a patch of crazy paving in front of the door. Right now it's bare earth and the mud splashes up onto the door when it rains. That's the next little job. I don't want mud all over fresh paint!
  That's enough of a to-do list. In all of this I have a deep sense of gratitude for having had the means, the skills and most of the equipment needed for this project. My fingers are still attached and I only hit my hand once with a hammer. I am so thankful for what has been an exercise of joy.
  "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever." Ps 107:1

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Lamb by Susan L.

  During the last year of my marriage on the farm and the last year with animals, my son and I were on our own for a good chunk of the time. We were having problems with coyotes taking sheep and goats despite the stalwart protection of the llamas. The coyotes were bold, even coming into the farm yard right beside the house to kill. In broad daylight as well.
  One afternoon while my son was at school, I heard the cows kicking up a fuss. Looking out the window, I could see something was wrong. The cows were milling and circling around in a frantic manner. Their voices were loud and panicked. Jumping into the car I went flying up the road to see what was wrong. The normally gentle cattle were attacking a lamb, driving it mercilessly into the ground with their big heads. I could see the lamb was bleeding and trying desperately to get away. A coyote stood nearby, dancing, hoping to get back its prey. The cows created a wall of angry confusion around their calves.
  Running down the driveway and leaping over the gate frightened the coyote away. The cows were still attacking the lamb. I chased them off but it was too late for the poor thing. Its throat was torn open, a sure sign of a coyote attack. The cows had attacked it because it smelled like a coyote from such a close encounter. I held it in my arms as it gasped its last, the blood flowing over my arms and clothes. It didn't matter.
  I knelt on the ground for a long, long time simply holding the lamb as the heat left its body.
  "I can't do this any more, I just can't" was the only thought running through my head as I grieved yet another loss. Perhaps it was a prayer, I don't know. The Lord wasn't part of my life that dark and terrible summer or should I say, I wasn't aware of Him.
  It still hurts.
  Yet, in all things, the Lord is the Great Redeemer. He has taken a moment that broke my heart and spirit and used it time and again to remind me of His love. My pain is only a fraction of the pain He holds for those in His flock who die senselessly, who never come into His grace. But mostly, the Lord has used it to remind me time and again that I  have been washed clean by the Blood of another Lamb, the Most Holy Lamb of All.
  "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him , and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Jn 1:29

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Shorn by Susan L.

  So I got a haircut. I like it short but this is the shortest it's been in a long time. The hairdresser was one of those chatty ones and wasn't paying full attention to the task at hand. I had to go back because once I'd washed it, one side was obviously longer than the other. Too bad we aren't like the old Barbies who had the select-a-length hair that you could pull out or push in to the hole in her head depending on the look you wanted. For me, there was no choice but to make the offending long side shorter.
  It will eventually grow out. Thankfully I have hair that grows fast.
  It was breezy yesterday and the wind tickling my scalp made me giggle and think of shorn sheep. How they used to skip and dance and fidget once their long fleece was cut off. We had three that had been rescued by the humane society. There were about three years old and had never been shorn or been outside. Shortly after we got them, they dropped lambs. One gave us quads. I had to hack away part of the wool that was touching the ground so the little ones could find milk. A single fleece covered an eight by ten tarp once it was removed. It was a few days before they stopped twitching an skittering away every time the wind blew.
  We had another one that got away from us on shearing day so she went two years without shearing. There was a baby goat that used to ride her and only her. He'd jump up on her back, a nice flat, wide surface and butt her in the back of her head to get her moving. Sheep surfing, a new sport.
  I am grateful for having been a shepherdess. The Lord has used many of the events with the animals to teach me of His love. He is the Great Shepherd after all.
  "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake." Ps 23:1-3

Friday, 15 August 2014

Bearly Summer by Susan L.

  It's hard to believe summer is winding down. An unusually early blast of autumn cool tore through yesterday, a hint of things to come. Everywhere I went, people were complaining about the weather in typical Canadian fashion. For me? It appears to have taken care of the mosquitoes. The dramatic drop in temperature from the high thirties to the low teens meant there were no attackers when I went outside this morning to feed the fish in the pond. Yay!!
  Part of the surprise is that the grass never turned brown this year like it usually does come mid to late July. There's been ample rain so it's still green and lush and growing and in desperate need of mowing. I am thankful, too, that the weather has taken care of watering my flower beds. It keeps the bees happy. The big build has meant other chores have slid by the wayside. I hope to get the shed finished before next weekend.
  H stopped by yesterday for a brief visit. We got talking about our camping trip in a week today at Killbear Provincial Park. She's been forwarding information about bears and how to avoid damage/injury should we encounter one. It's even necessary to bear-proof the items inside the car by hiding them under a blanket. Apparently they can recognise a cooler and will smash windows to get to them. Hmmm. Even toiletries need to be kept under lock and key. It isn't wise to keep them in the tent. I didn't realise toothpaste was part of the five food groups!
  We will insist on holidaying where the wild things are. But then glimpsing wildlife, even if it is only squabbling chipmunks, is a source of great delight. It'll be nice to have a break.
  "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." Gen 2:2-3

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Splurging by Susan L.

  My oil bill is based on ten equal payments so July and August are bill free. That means I had a surprising bit of extra in the bank. Thank You Lord for Your provision. Canadian Tire had a table saw on sale for half price this week Coincidence? I don't think so. I bought the saw to cut the trim for the shed windows and to finish the corners. Yes, I'd asked my neighbour to cut the pieces but I realised having my own would come in handy down the road just as my mitre saw has. And the truth of the matter is I am not sure just how accurate he would be. Yup, first to admit there's a bit of a control thing going on: it needs to be precise.
  Come winter, I want to make a cabinet for my bathroom and a small storage cabinet for my sewing supplies. Right now bobbins of thread, buttons and other sundry are exposed on a rather poor example of a shelf. Calling it rustic is being kind. Both will need odd sized wood. Now that's not a problem.
  I felt like a kid in a candy store. The table saw has collapsing legs, wheels to move it around and clips for all the loose bits and pieces needed to operate it safely. It's a solid piece of equipment with proper guards and other safety features like expanding stabilizer bars so once it's set up, it isn't going to move.
  This takes me one step closer to my dream of building a carousel horse.
  All I have to do now is figure out how to get the saw into the basement. It's a heavy puppy that's currently taking up half my kitchen floor. I'd been able to roll the box it came in out of the car and up the stairs. For the life of me I can't figure out why I didn't go down the stairs before it was unpacked! Silly me. It'd have been a whole lot cooler putting it together down there too!
  I made a small plant table out of wood salvaged from skids last winter. It was difficult cutting the pieces with a hand held power saw, especially the legs. With this purchase, the world has opened up.
  It's funny that, how when we have the tools large or small, anything is possible.
  "So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Mat 17:20

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Robin Williams by Susan L.

  It is so sad that Robin Williams, the incredible actor and comedian, is no longer with us. The world is waiting for confirmation but it is believed he took his own life.
  My heart goes out to him and his family. I am sorry the help he needed wasn't there. I am even sorrier he couldn't reach out for help, that the black dog ravaged and devoured his spirit.
  It must be hard living in the spotlight. The demands of a public who worship entertainment magazines or shows, and follow the instant exposure of social media must make it hard to keep it real. I can't image what it must be like to have no privacy, to have your every choice from what you eat for breakfast to how you raise your kids held up for inspection. Whenever you go out, your every article of clothing, your hair, your body, is judged by those who supply the fodder for the feeding frenzy of  fans. If you are recognised, you are mobbed, even if you are with your family on holiday.
  Even your garbage is rifled through.
  Photographers use long range lenses to intrude on your home, your space, your life.
  You are constantly watched by those who feel they need to know everything.
  I can't imagine how hard it must be to be famous.
  I am sorry that drugs and alcohol are the things you believed would help you cope.
  Like far too many other famous people who have taken the same path, I just wish they had my phone number. I'd have listened.
  May you rest in peace, Robin.
  "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into." Lk 12:39

Monday, 11 August 2014

Courage Infused by Susan L.

  I can only thank my Maker for the lack of fear as one half of the shed roof received its blanket of shingles. Taking that first step from ladder to roof is a bit unnerving. It's all about keeping your center of balance and being extra careful that the ladder base is solidly planted. I am pleased it went safely although I did ask my neighbour, should she hear a crash and scream, to call 911. Knowing she was keeping an ear out helped.
  In God, all things are possible.
  Step by small step it's coming together.
  Again, I am thankful for the farm experiences. We re-shingled the garage, a much bigger task than the shed, so I know what to do. It was a miserably cold couple of days with a bitter wind that stole the heat from you. Never had a steaming hot bowl of wonton soup felt and tasted so good. It would have felt good to crawl right in. I remember swearing that never again would I take on the job of roofing. So much for that oath.
  I give credit to those who do this for a living. It's hard on the body, dangerous, and dirty.
  There's a house on Victoria Island in British Columbia I visited years ago. It's a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs kind of building with round doors inside and out. There are round picture windows that look out onto the water and stunning views. It has an undulating roof with many peaks and valleys. I have no idea why this fact about the place has stuck but it took nine times the amount of shingles as a regular house. Not a job I'd want to take on!
  I remember the house was built as a private residence but so many people wanted to see it that it ended up becoming a tourist attraction.
  I loved the gardens surrounding it too. Tiny streams, lush greenery and beautiful flowers lined a meandering pathway. They had done garden gnomes to the extreme but it wasn't tacky. Somehow they belonged, tucked into hidden corners to surprise you with their presence.
  "You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. You have with Your arm redeemed Your people." Ps 77:14-15

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Into the Details by Susan L.

  Yesterday I was able to get the trim around the shed door made and temporarily installed but first I had to fiddle around with how the door was hanging. I wasn't pleased and was tempted to take it down and replace the side where the hinges were to get it to sit better. I didn't need to do that. A couple of paint stick shims and it's sitting better and functioning much more smoothly. Thank You Lord!
  Making the trim involved cutting boards to width and some patient fitting. I added a little detail to the top making it more countrified. The idea came from how the doors were trimmed in the farm house. My thoughts are to put some sort of script above the door in this space but I am not sure what to say. Does anyone have any suggestions? The space is almost three feet long by four and a half inches wide, room for a few words.
  There's still time to figure that out. It'll be the last thing I do. The pieces will come off anyway to be painted. This makes it easier to stain the rest of the shed. Now, what colour? But I am getting ahead of myself.
  There's still the windows to be fitted out but they'll be simpler than the door. I was going to frame them like pictures but realized, when I looked at the way the house windows are finished, it's better to have the board ends protected by tucking them in under the top piece. It's so much easier, too, without having to cut the angles. It'll mirror how the door is finished as well.
  It's these little details that take up so much time.
  It's these little details that make all the difference.
  "Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name." Ps 103:1

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Sentimentality by Susan L.

  I hung the rose up to dry. It's the one that was given out at our graduation ceremony, a lovely deep yellow one with a hint of red along the edges of the petals. I am a bit of a sentimentalist and treasure these sorts of things. Roses don't come my way very often.
  I've a small box that holds many of the love tokens the Lord has left along my path. The box is chock full of childish delight in the gifts that come my way. They are simple things like an acorn I found at the beginning of my walk as a Christian. Now I'm not sure if that was meant to represent an  obvious metaphor for faith or if it was a prophetic omen that I was, in the near future, going to go "nuts"! The eraser God sent my way while I was in the hospital is tucked in along side. (That story is in one of my older posts.)
  There's an old, beautifully cast brass sleigh bell I found in my back yard when I first moved in. It was still attached to a rather crispy, crumbly piece of harness. How it got there, who left it behind are all questions that will never be answered in this life. I was utterly surprised by the find. That's part of the treasure too. Finding things when I'm not even looking.
  My collection of four leaf clovers is in there too. Those I have looked for and found. Thirty-one that are preserved in sealed, plastic business card protectors. There's a few more from this year to be added to that total. Right now they are being carefully pressed in my concordance, the thickest book I own. I am sad to say the numbers are dwindling. It's time to stop harvesting them so they will come back. That's a treasure too, knowing when to let go.
  For myself, these small objects are tangible evidence of God's care and meticulous planning regarding the tiniest of details in my life. They are gifts of assurance that He is well in control over every single aspect of my existence. Most of all, the little box contains an immeasurable amount of His love.
  How great is that!
  "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9

Friday, 8 August 2014

Shingles by Susan L.

  No, not the chicken pox virus kind of shingles, but actual shingles. More shed talk.
  It's not that tall a building but I confess I am nervous about going on the roof. It's not that I am afraid of heights. Ladders don't bother me and I am quite comfortable working while standing on the second to top rung. The roof is only one step higher and far more stable than a step ladder. My tall extension ladder will make it easy to get up there, no gymnastics required just a simple step from rung to roof.
  I suppose being uncomfortable will mean I will be that much more cautious and therefore safer. I'll ask my neighbour to keep an ear out for me should a need for help arise. Once up, everything should be fine. It's taking that first step.
  Ha. Doesn't that apply to a lot of things in life.
  I never got comfortable around the farm equipment. The tractor's drive shaft was a pretty scary piece of powerful. A friend's wife got her shirt wrapped up in one. Thankfully it was an old work shirt that tore but she still ended up with broken ribs and a cracked collar bone as she got pulled in. It could have been much worse and sadly, worse has happened to those who got comfortable.
  The same with the power tools I've been using for the big build. I've seen too many missing fingers on those who let their attention wander. The watchwords are: take care and be safe. If I am too tired as well, it's time to put things away.
  All this concern is a bit premature. There's still work to be done before the shingles can go on. I need to lay my hands on a bit of roofing paper that will go on first, the aluminum drip edge needs to be installed and the particle board needs to be nailed down fully. That last task couldn't be completed until the shed walls were solid and secure.
  "I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion." Prov 8:12

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Graduation by Susan L.

  There's a graduation ceremony tonight for the participants of PREFER (Peer Recovery Education for Employment and Resiliency) who have met all the criteria of the program. This means that all eight required courses are completed, at least ten monthly meetings were attended and one summit. It's a thoughtful gesture. Many who have gone through this amazing program have never graduated from anything. A certificate of achievement means a lot. 
  This isn't an accredited program but that is in the works as well. A group in Toronto is looking into ways to formalise peer support without the regimented testing required by other graduate programs. Peer support is all based on lived experience. How can that be tested?
  The PREFER program comprised of WRAP, Wellness Recovery Action Planning. A life changing approach originated by Mary Ellen Copeland that is now being adapted for first responders, police, and nurses to name a few. It develops self awareness and reveals personal coping skills and strengths for when things get tough. I think it is something everyone should take. It is so successful, it is now offered world wide.
  Like Minds was an eye opener for me. It uncovered a lot of my own deep rooted, but hidden prejudices surrounding not just around my own mental health challenges but about lifestyle choices and addictions. It dovetailed into Anti-Oppression training. Both of these are all about the rights we have to make decisions regarding our own lives.( A lot of it was about using recovery based language. Mental health challenges vs. mental illness.) GAM, Gaining Autonomy over Medications is also part of reclaiming control over what happens to us. So often the medical system systematically robs us of our basic human rights. Mental illness is often viewed as being mentally deficient. So not true!
  The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention training was, for me, the most challenging. This is precious human life we're talking about. Yet, when push comes to shove, my trust is that the Lord will lead me to do what is needed to help another. He's already done that.
  The part that stretched me the most was facilitator training for both WRAP and another recovery based program called Pathways to Recovery. It involved learning how to take on a leadership role without becoming a teacher. That's tough. But then, we are all our own best experts. A good facilitator gets the group learning and growing from itself.
  Lastly was an Employment Support Workshop. It helped deal with the practical side of job hunting: a resume and the like.
  I truly hope they find the funding necessary to continue the program. It was a three year pilot project, a successful one. Many of the peer supporters trained through PREFER have gone on to successful paid jobs. Many have been able to volunteer their skills. Others grew personally in leaps and bounds.
  I know without this, I would not be working at the Krasman Centre. My monthly column would not exist, neither would my blog. So for me, the biggest gift was gaining the confidence, the self esteem, the willingness to try and rise above and beyond my challenges, mental and otherwise.
  And that, my friends, is cause for celebration!
  Thank You Lord for this, for the safe travelling into the city, for the means needed and most of all thank You for the good company I had on this journey.
  "The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord." Prov 16:1

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Let Go, Let God by Susan L.

  A reader posted a question. It was recognised as spam and was sent to the junk folder but I am going to answer it anyways. I don't know how blogger decides what is spam and what isn't. Sometimes it's obvious, other times I wonder if it's a translation program operating. I am blessed to have international readers. It leaves me deeply honoured and somewhat awestruck that this ole gal from a small town in Ontario has people from as far away as Russia and Germany reading what I write.
  Which is a nice introduction to the question. The anonymous reader asked how I clear my thoughts and center myself. They explained they spend fifteen minutes trying to figure out how to start their own blog posts.
  Not to be flippant. It starts with a simple prayer. "Lord, let my words be Your words, in Jesus' name."
  Every morning starts with a sense of anticipation as I wonder what will happen in the writing. Sometimes I have a clear subject idea before even turning on my laptop. Other times, not so much. Sometimes it takes two or three starts before a sense of where the day's post is going develops. More often my own idea ends up becoming something entirely different as the words fill the screen. Sometimes I simply wait as long as I have to until an idea surfaces.
  This question is much bigger than a simple blog.
  The biggest part is surrendering control and inviting the Holy Spirit to enter in, to be our Guide. Not just in the writing, but in every aspect of life. He is a polite caretaker and will not intrude unless we ask Him to. It's not hard. As Jesus says, "Ask and it will be given you."
  But then it takes practice to listen and to hear that still, small Voice. It takes practice to learn how to be obedient to the Helper Jesus promised us. It takes practice to give up control of our own preconceived ideas, of our own itinerary.  It takes practice to open up our hearts and truly trust in God's ability to lead us where we need to go. Actions we humans don't do easily.
  And I am led to offer a prayer. If we have received Christ, we have the Spirit. The prayer simply helps us become consciously aware of His presence. It helps us to claim and acknowledge this huge piece of our Divine inheritance.
  "Lord, forgive me for taking things into my own hands. Forgive me for trying to live a life according to law when living with Jesus means those laws are now promises. Lord, I need a Helper. I can't do this alone. Holy Spirit, be with me. Guide me, teach me, encourage me, and correct me when I am wrong. Help me learn the skill of listening and hearing Your voice in all things. In Jesus' name I pray. Thank You, Lord, for this awesome gift. Amen."
  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you." Jn 14:26-27

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Milestones by Susan L.

  I wasn't going to post this morning but decided to take the time to enjoy my morning coffee. I need to work out some of the aches and pains left from a long day of physical labour. That, and this is my 600th post. I almost feel there should be some sort of celebration so, cheers, I raise my mug to the Lord who has been my Muse, my Inspiration, my Encourager.
  My son came over yesterday evening to help hang the door. I'm glad he was there to help problem solve. It was with great frustration and disbelief I realised that the space I'd left for it was too small by half an inch. (Forgive me, Lord, for the words I said.) I'd measured and measured again before drawing up my plans. In hindsight, I know where the error was made. I had only allowed space for half of the door frame. That measurement needs to be doubled. Somehow that was missed every single time I reviewed my plans. Thankfully it was only half an inch. More than that would have meant doing some demolition and rebuilding the wall where the door was.
  My son said a brief prayer before we took the skill saw to the door and reset the hinges. The Lord heard us. The door hangs perfectly true.
  I am really enjoying this project. It is a whole lot of fun, even the problem solving. It's all part of the learning curve for when or if ever I build another shed. Most of all, it is wonderful to know that God is with me every step of the way. It's even better to know that He is more than capable of fixing my mistakes.
  "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption--that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." 1 Cor 1:30-31

Saturday, 2 August 2014

A Quick Note by Susan L.

  I've a full day ahead of me. There's some errands to run, a short stop at the hardware store, then onto the big build. My son is coming later to help hang the door, a job that needs two sets of hands. I hope the weather holds. We had a pretty fierce thunderstorm roll through yesterday with hail the size of large peas. They are calling for thunderstorms later today so I'd like to get going as soon as possible.
  I may or may not miss the next couple of days. Again, it all depends on the weather. I'd like to get the wood onto the shed before it starts to warp too badly.
  Blessings to all.
  "Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts." Ps 65:4

Friday, 1 August 2014

More Simple Joys by Susan L.

  There's something inherently amusing in watching humming birds fight over a choice patch of flowers. The bee balm is a great draw for them. The spikey blossoms are just the right design for the long, narrow beak of the tiny birds. With furious little cheeps one will chase another away: so much bluster for such a small package. It makes me laugh.
  I bought a new kind of mosquito repellent. This is the first summer I've needed protection almost every day in the garden. Usually by mid-July the heat has killed most of them off. We haven't had that kind of heat this year. When I went to pay for the repellent, I noticed a small compass inset into the cap. It had me feeling like a kid again, like getting the toy inside a box of cereal. I don't think cereal companies do that any more. Too bad. It was a highlight of breakfast.
  While searching for camping gear, I had been tempted to purchase a compass. Not that I go hiking in places where I might get lost, but simply because they are fun to have. In the digital age, with GPS tracking on our cell phones, these magnetic guides are becoming a thing of the past. I appreciate this gift a lot. It means the Lord is well aware of my simplest desires. It was wonderful to share my delight with the cashier who was near my age. The two of us laughed over cereal box memories.
  My psychiatrist, during his relationship questioning, commented that part of the reason he asks was to see if I trusted myself to make the right choice of a partner. My answer was no. However, the big build has grown a deeper trust of myself: a trust in my skills, and the ability to make decisions. It also has further cemented my trust in the Lord: that in Him, all things are possible no matter how grand or how small, His hand is definitely behind it all.
  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." Jn 14:12-13