Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A Journey Begins by Susan L.

  Ten years ago I began a quest. It began with losing everything I had which, at the time, defined me. My role of wife vanished overnight because of the sudden and shocking dissolution of a twenty year relationship. (The best thing that could have ever happened!) My role as mother changed drastically because my last chick left home for school. I guess it could be called a mid-life crisis that was a bit early.
  My journey with the Lord began with a simple prayer, "Who am I?"
  The Lord has proven faithful in providing answers. He has been with me as we plumbed the dark lands of a sad history of abuse. The best part is as I have grown to know myself, I have come to know Him in a most intimate manner.
  I have made a momentous decision. There's no second guessing, no doubt, no fear. This is not the norm when I make up my mind about anything as I've shared before. I feel in my heart and soul that this is the next step.
  I have done a lot of prayer work surrounding the circumstances of my birth. I was adopted as a ten day old infant by caring and wonderful people. (Thank you, Mom, for your sacrifice, your grace and understanding as I seek answers.)
  I have never known any other parents.
  I am blessed to have a wonderful and loving step-dad. He came into my Mom's life after she was left a widow some twenty-five years ago. But still, there are questions. In fact, there's a giant question mark that sits in the back of my mind. Part of the "Who am I?" is "Where did I come from?"
  God bless the miracles of modern science. It is now possible to have DNA tests done that will reveal the heritage that runs in our veins. That is part of the decision. I am going to send away for the kit and have the test done that will trace my genetic line far back into history.
  The second part is getting in touch with Children's Aid, who initially handled the adoption, and getting hold of my file. There are still some choices to be made. I haven't decided whether or not I want to know my birth parent's name. I have no intention of getting hold of her anyways. It might be good to know. Or not. I'm not sure either if I want her to get hold of me. This is possible once I connect with Children's Aid unless I state otherwise.
  I am hoping there will be some medical history because that's always been an unknown. There a DNA test to find genetic markers for various illnesses. It may be something to think about down the road.
  "So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until Christ are fourteen generations." Mat 1:17

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Gazillion Things by Susan L.

  The brain is doing the greyhound thing: chasing rabbits all over the place this morning. Ideas, daydreams, images, and vague impressions scamper blithely through my conscious but I have yet to find something worthwhile to write about.
  Renovations are at the top of the list. My living room is painted a burnt pumpkin colour (my choice). I wasn't particularly happy when it was originally done a few years ago. It was way too orange. Now I can't stand it so repainting the room is a top priority. I could even finish it off. The room has no baseboards or trim around the doors and the big picture window. It never had any when I bought the place in '06. It's a job that kept getting put off but since the furniture will be pulled away from the walls, it's a great opportunity to get 'er done.
  Now I have my own table saw it'll be easy to re-do the woodwork around the window.
  I could also replace the trim around my bedroom door. I lost my temper with it when I put in the laminate floors and made a mess of it with hammer dents and a bent nail that isn't very pretty. That doesn't happen very often, losing my temper with renovations. I'd like to get rid of the evidence.
  I want to paint the living room in the same colour we used at the centre, the gray bluey green. I should probably cover the orange with a gray primer first. I hope the blue goes with the sunshine yellow in my kitchen and hall. That is not being re-done although it is looking a bit tired in places and could use some touching up.
  It would be nice, too, to replace the bedroom doors with French doors that have frosted glass. It'd let more natural light into the front room and hall. I should check out the re-store. Maybe I'd find them there. But I am getting ahead of myself.
  First step, take the stuff off the walls, take down the window blinds and do some hole patching.
  "Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you from the house of the Lord." Ps 118:25-26

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Dare to Dream by Susan L.

  I was chatting with someone who lives with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I made a slight mistake in telling them that we are able to recover from this illness. That's not really true. (Bear with me.) The impact of trauma, usually what causes PTSD, is far reaching. It affects us emotionally, physically and mentally. It's hard when circumstances trigger the fight/flight response. It affects our every waking moment and even when we sleep, birthing nightmare after nightmare. (I thank the Lord for medications which, for me, have mostly eliminated these symptoms.)
  What is true is it's possible to discover new ways to live in balance and harmony, where we can make our own choices about what is right for us. It's possible to uncover the truth of our identities in Christ despite the hammer blows to our innermost, precious self that caused things to be the way they are. We can reclaim innocence and the ability to trust. We don't have to go it alone.
  We are able to move forward in new and astounding ways. We can and will reach the point of believing in a future, to know we are worthy of good things. There will be a day we can hope and embrace our destiny in Christ.
  We have the ability within us to grow and appreciate who we are and actually love ourselves and others the way Jesus did. Even those who were part of the traumatic events that have crippled and stifled our lives can be regarded with love and compassion. This does not mean an acceptance of the status quo, we deserve better, much better.
  It's possible to choose to forgive and be forgiven. The Lord can change our hearts and set us free when we are willing to let Him do His work in us.
  We'll never forget the terrible events that have helped shape us but the stinger of memory will be removed. Jesus is pretty good at redemption. Surprisingly we can even become thankful for our experiences instead of being embittered and lost. We can let hate go and let the good things in to fill the void. Truth, honesty, faith, hope, love, life, laughter, desire, patience, acceptance, will sweep away the last vestiges of darkness. But most of all ,the profound knowledge of who God planned us to be at the dawn of time will enter into our soul and spirit.
  In a way the journey begins like reaching the peak of Mount Everest and sticking a flag in the snow. Only this time it's sticking a flag (or perhaps the Cross) in the mountain of emotional torment that is part of PTSD and claiming it.
  "Yes, these things have happened to me. It does not mean they have the right to steal my life. Lord, set me free in Jesus name, Amen!"
  As much as I have written this for another, it has done me good to hear it for myself. Much of this has yet to take place in my own life but, thankfully, the seeds have been planted. Nevertheless, I will dare to dream of the day I will be well and whole and no longer afraid.
  "When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Mat 19:25-26

Friday, 26 September 2014

Of Geese and Bible Stories by Susan L.

  The Canada geese are gathering in huge flocks. They overnight in the lake across the road. It's hard to miss them, they make a tremendous amount of noise discussing the day's business each evening. It's not uncommon to see them also gathered in freshly harvested fields of grain. They meander and squabble amongst the stubble in search of fallen oats or wheat or barley. It helps them plump up for the long flight south.
  It gets me thinking about Ruth. She gleaned the fields to find enough to eat for her and her mother-in-law. Like the geese, I wonder if there were other women in the field squabbling over the meager remains. Ruth knew this job was a matter of survival. I can see her bent over, watching where she steps, to pick up the seeds. I can see her rejoicing and giving thanks over each tiny grain. The two women would not starve. One, two or if she was lucky, she found a full head of grain that had fallen to the ground. It's backbreaking, hot and tiresome work to find enough to make any substantial amount of flour. It's a far cry from scooting over to the grocery store for a loaf of bread.
  Ruth was blessed to be noticed by the man who owned the grain. He provided amply for her by granting permission to take from the untouched parts of the field. Things got progressively better for her as the story goes on.
  Gleaning: finding treasures hidden in the barren stubble of what appears to be empty and desolate. They always there, the treasures, the good things, the blessings. We only need to look.
  Thank You Lord for grocery stores, for the means to get there and the finances to pay for a loaf of bread. Thank You Lord, for the hands that make it: the farmers who plant and harvest the grain to the person dressed in white who puts it in the oven. Thank You for the truck drivers, the railroads, the ships that spread the harvest far and wide.
  Thank You most of all that, in Christ, I have the right to reap the rich fullness of life. 
  "The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge." Ruth 2:12

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Creative Expression by Susan L.

  I spent yesterday painting some more of the new sign for the centre. As I waited for the paint to dry, I did a quick watercolour of an imagined autumn landscape. It’s one of my favourite subjects, a grassy field bordered by trees and the sky above. There’s no focal point in this one. Red and yellow hardwoods are mixed in with blurry, impressionistic evergreens. The field has clumps of autumn's favorite wildflowers: goldenrod mixed with purple and white asters. These are simply dots of colour in and amongst the whispy, windblown, dry brushed grasses.
  I don't know what it is about fields that fascinate me. It could be because there is so much hidden life within them: mice, birds and insects go about their lives rarely seen by us.
  There's so much that goes on we never notice, the white noise of visual overload. I try and spend some time on a regular basis simply looking at something be it something as large as a field or something as small as a mushroom. I study how the shadows fall, how the sun brings out a rainbow of colours. Textures fascinate me, there's so many in the natural world.
  It's a form of prayer for me, this meditative type of seeing. It helps me appreciate even more the infinite variety of life that the Lord has placed on this planet.
  And I give thanks.

  "But lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves to not break in and steal. For where your heart is, there your heart will be also." Mat 6:20-21

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Force of Habit by Susan L.

  It was one of those slow motion kind of mistakes. I got out of my car, not needing my keys or needing to lock it but habit took over. My finger had a mind of its own. The thunk of the locks, normally a reassuring sound, created an impending feeling of doom even though it didn't register in my conscious that I'd hit the button until the door closed behind me.
 The keys were dangling in the ignition. The windows were rolled up tight.
  It was a fifty dollar mistake. (That price has really gone up! Last time it was only twenty! Yes, much to my embarrassment, there was a last time...) I had to pay a tow truck driver to break into my car. He had this cool inflatable wedge in his arsenal of break and enter tools that cracked the door wide enough for him to slip a metal rod inside. Pressing the button that pops the locks only took a matter of minutes.
  On top of that, I had to borrow the money because I'd also, in a fog of Monday blur, left my purse at home. That is something that rarely happens.
  I avoided sharp objects for the rest of the day.
  Force of habit can sure get us into trouble can't it? Although I am rather amused this morning by yesterday's events. There's not much sense in getting worked up over it. It happened, I may as well have a bit of a laugh at myself.
  "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness." Mat 6:33

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Life Stories by Susan L.

  I ended up enjoying myself at the pot luck dinner even when the roomful of ladies got rather noisy at times. The food was superb although I ended up taking home a whack of pasta salad. I simply made too much. Guess what I'll be having for dinner.
  After the feast we played a couple of games and listened to two testimonies. Because of where I work, I hear a lot of terribly sad and often shocking stories. It does my heart good to hear of someone who has a good life, a blessed life. Someone who walked with Jesus for as long as they can remember. Yes they had a few challenges, don't we all, but God has spared them the worst of what men and women can do to hurt each other.
  The second testimony was from a woman I had only seen at church. We have a lot in common. We share similar struggles with mental health. God has redeemed those challenges. Her life experience and schooling has enabled her to work as an addictions councillor just as God has used my life so I can work in peer support.
  The ladies are talking about having secret sisters. It means exchanging names, addresses and birth dates with a random woman in the church. The point is to send them encouraging notes, pray for them, reach out to them without revealing your identity. It's a nice thought but I'm not too big on the idea. I'd sooner get to know someone face to face.
  I am terribly reluctant to "sign up". Again, is this a fear? It's a monumental commitment that even thinking about turns my stomach into knots. What happens if I am unable to continue? I've had hiccups in my wellness that have made it necessary to pare back extracurricular activities. This is a responsibility I don't feel I am up to.
  I don't like secrets of any sort either.
  Thank You, Lord. It's okay to say no. I don't need to explain myself or justify my actions.
  "For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known." Lk 12:2

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Running Amok by Susan L.

  I slept in. Must've needed it but it's got me a bit frantic.
  There's a pot luck dinner for the church women later tonight. I waffled back and forth about going. Even now I'm not sure and am having a hard time. Why this is such a big deal? It's not like the ladies are an intimidating crowd. On the contrary, they are kind and caring people and I know most of them if only to say hello to at church.
  I made a pasta salad. That took some major decision making. What do people like? Do I need to go to the grocery store on a busy Saturday? (I should have stopped there last night.) How can I keep something hot that's hot? I don't have crock pot. Would my rice cooker keep something hot without scorching it? What's in the cupboard? Fish chowder was an option but I'd need to take cups and spoons ( a trip to a different store). What if what I make doesn't taste any good? (It does with loads of garlic, tuna, carrots, celery, chives from the garden, heaps of mayonnaise and some Ranch dressing to add a bit of a kick.)  
  Why do decisions send me into a swirling storm of anxiety? Why do large social events do the same? Why do small social events generate the same response?
  This isn't a new thing. When I think about it, it's been there my whole life. Perhaps having been isolated for so long (a form of abuse) could be part of it as well...Lessons that drove home the lie I was socially inept.
  I'm not. Although shyness could be part of it.
   Lord, help me grow beyond this. I am tired of feeling this way, anxious and afraid. Help me shake the ghosts who continue to steal my joy and my confidence.
  "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen." Mat 6:12-13

Friday, 19 September 2014

Babylon by Susan L.

  Had some major technical difficulties with accessing the internet this morning. For some reason when a big truck rolls by, my phone internet connection hiccups which interferes with my ability to be connected. Technology is great when it works the way it's supposed to. It's not so great when it doesn't! I suppose when the phone was first invented they said the same thing.
  I've had a couple of requests from my anonymous commenters, the ones in the spam file. One has asked me if they could quote my writing. (I am flattered.) The other wants to get in touch with me. I'd love to respond but unless someone gives me an email address, I cannot reply directly to them.
  Why the secrecy?
  Or am I na├»ve to think these requests are genuine. These requests have been attached to older posts.
  It's sad but I am very suspicious. Is it like the telemarketers, claiming to be from Microsoft, who call telling me there's something wrong with my computer? They would like me to give them access so they can "fix" the problem. Nope. Never. No way. These calls ARE NOT from Microsoft!
  The internet is like a huge city isn't it? I wonder if it is the Babylon of Revelations.  We can buy anything, speak with anyone, or research all sorts of thing with the touch of a button. We are truly a global village. I only have to look at the map that records blog hits by country. It amazes me that people from as far away as Russia, China, or Australia have visited my little creative writing venture.
  But, like all things of man, how we use such a wonderful tool can be for good or evil. Every city has its unsavory characters, its lost souls, and places you don't want to go at night. this is why we must be cautious and seek guidance from our Lord in all things.
  Back to the requests. Yes, by all means quote me or share my blog with others. As for connecting outside of the comments section, please include an email address. I will get in touch with you. Thanks!
  "And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise any more." Rev 18:11

Thursday, 18 September 2014

What?? by Susan L.

  I am tempted to call some sort of global biology organization. About half way up, snuggled in a tight cluster of branches, an apple appears to be growing in my pine tree! Is it a miracle? Some fluke of cross genetics? Has a new species suddenly evolved? 
  Reporters will flock to the scene hoping to get the scoop! Photographers will be jostling to get the best picture! Can you see the three inch headlines on a special editions of newspapers around the world?
  "Mutant Pine Tree Bears Fruit!"
  It'll be the leading story on the six o'clock news!
  Twitter and Facebook will have record breaking hits as billions want to know what's happening.
  There will be no room to park in front of my house. Police will need to control the crowds because everyone will want to see. A quarantine zone will be initiated with roadblocks to ensure that no one without a special pass can get to the site of this strange phenomena. Scientist flown in from around the globe, dressed in white paper suits and paper slippers, will be investigating. They take copious notes and DNA samples. They huddle together like a bag of marshmallows. There will be yellow tape everywhere!
  My goodness, I'll be famous!
  Yaaah....I don't think so.
  The fact that the apple is half eaten just might prove the hoax as a hoax. I'm not sure I'd like those global headlines.
  "Pine Apple a Fraud! Woman Arrested!"
  Hmmmm...an apple leading to a fall. I think I read something about that somewhere...
  I also saw a small, feisty red squirrel in the immediate vicinity chasing a fat and not so feisty gray squirrel away. I figure it was Red who stashed the apple there. It'll be interesting to see how long it stays up in the tree before the wind blows it down.
  "And Sarah said, "God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me." Gen 21:6

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Foot in Mouth Disease by Susan L.

  It happens on a regular basis. I say the wrong thing. Especially when I think I'm being funny and teasing, it ends up coming out catty and hurtful.
  I have to take teasing out of the picture all together. Lord, I'll need Your help.
  It is never my intention to hurt anyone but once the words are out it's hard to take them back. I try and apologise as soon as possible. Love means saying you're sorry. Thankfully, the Spirit is quick to convict me but still, the damage is done.
  I should know better. Forgive me, my Lord.
   The old saying "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me" is a load of hooey. Words hurt as much as a fist. The damage is just as bad and just as long lived. Ask any adult who has been or child who is being bullied. Check out any literature on abuse. The physical aspect is only a fraction of the ways an abuser can exert control over another. There are mental, financial, social, sexual, and verbal facets of abuse.
  That's why I said I should know better.
  Many a word said behind a veil of laughter cut me down to nothing time and again.
  Simply writing about it stirs up far too many unpleasant memories. Thank You, Lord, we have walked a path of healing and forgiveness. Thank You, I am growing to know the truth, Your truth, about who I am according to Your will and Your design.
  Help me become that person. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." Mal 3:3

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Which Came First? by Susan L.

  A&W, the burger joint, has an ad campaign going on for their bacon and egg breakfasts. They are celebrating the fact that their eggs come from chickens that are fed a vegetable diet. The big question that I don't have an answer to is: why?
  Chickens are omnivores. They eat everything and anything from toads and snakes, insects, vegetables, grasses, and grains to each other should one show signs of illness or injury. Gravel helps them digest all these things. When we were on the farm and had a selection of free range chickens and other fowl wandering about the yard, kitchen scraps and leftovers were tossed out the back door for them to eat. Nothing was left except bigger bones and maybe potato skins. I quickly discovered their favorite food was Kraft macaroni and cheese. The squabbles and fights that used to break out over that treat were hilarious! I also used to wonder how many pounds of sand and grit were pilfered from the driveway each year.
  This ad campaign has filled me with a whole slew of questions. What supplements are the chickens being fed to maintain their health? Are they chemical, hormonal or steroids? Are they oil bi-products? Does A&W, in its decision to flaunt the "high road" of vegetarianism, get its eggs from humanely raised birds or do they buy them from massive commercial enterprises? This means the birds are stacked assembly line fashion: row upon row of small wire cages with barely room for the bird to sit down. For their short and miserable lives they lay two eggs a day because of an artificial twelve hour day/night rotation.
  It doesn't take long for them to burn out.
  Britain is leaps and bounds ahead of us in regards to this matter by out and out banning intensive farming for most livestock not just chickens.
   I feel a bit hypocritical. I buy commercial eggs because they are cheaper, handy and I honestly don't think my local grocery store offers the humanely raised alternative. It's something to investigate. I will take my own advice and start asking for them or find a local source offering free range eggs. Change can begin one dozen at a time.
  "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it." Gen 2:15

Monday, 15 September 2014

Church by Susan L.

  It was a bit of a nervous rush to get out the door in time for church yesterday. My stomach was knotted. It's always difficult returning to the scene of a previous panic attack. It's even harder if there's been more than one or close to one. Still, the intense feeling to go was stronger.
  Communion means a lot to me and as I drove the five minutes to get there, I hoped it would be happening. I wasn't sure because I thought it was usually celebrated on the first Sunday of the month. Nevertheless, for whatever reason, Communion was served. Thank You Lord for giving me the urge to go which couldn't be ignored.
  We passed around the elements and when everyone has received the bread and wine, we take it as one body. That's special too. That connection not only with Christ but with brothers and sisters in Christ as well. I hadn't realised how much I missed being with like minded people, albeit a small crowd.
  The music didn't seem as loud either.
  The service was run by a visiting pastor. He will be coming back to continue his teachings on what it means to be a disciple. His is a temporary position until a new pastor is found following Pastor Randy's passing.
  Bible Study is starting up on Wednesday after a summer break. The desire to go is outweighing the anxiety.
  I am thankful for having had the break to do what needed to be done around the house this summer. It was often lonely though. Most of the time I have no problem being alone but then there are days it's tough even with the Lord as my forever Companion. I may have used this line before: sometimes we simply need love with skin on it.
  "And when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 1 Cor 11:24-25

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Heat by Susan L.

   I had to break down yesterday and put the furnace on. The house was chilly and damp despite a whirlwind of rare and downright unusual domestic kitchen activity. The aroma of almonds and peaches as well as oatmeal raisin muffins warmed the soul. It was topped with the heartwarming fragrance of spiced applesauce coffee cake but the body was left shivering. Most of these tempting goodies have gone into the freezer for days when comfort food is needed but of course there had to be quality control testing accompanied by a cup of coffee. It doesn't get much better than that!
  I am feeling led to go to church this morning. Don't know if it my own guilty conscious or what. Ill ask the Lord to bless the situation regardless of the reason. He will anyways.
  "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding." Prov 9:5-6

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Bit of a Territorial Display by Susan L.

  Anonymous is a busy bee. As much as I like to respond to comments people thoughtfully take the time to write in response to my posts, there's an increasing issue with spam. A majority of the unknown add links to their own web pages in the body of the text for products. When everything from hair care systems to I don't know exactly what they are pushing is included amidst a barrage of flattery, it leaves me wondering and cautious.
  And rather sad that my blog is trying to be used for unsolicited and unapproved advertising.
  For these commenters please note: Blogger does the sorting for me by sending any comments including links into a separate file. They do not get posted on this site for the general public to read. It's a waste of time if your intention is to simply hawk a product. Your entries get read by me and me alone and usually deleted.
  Yes, there is a security setting where it is necessary for someone to type in the distorted letters and numbers seen in a small box before they are allowed to comment. It's too bad such measures are even needed. When I first started this written journey, my writer's group encouraged me to omit that step so it was easier for readers add their own thoughts. I have no problem with that at all.
  I am more than willing to extend compassion and grace to those who are reluctant to use their names because often my posts are related to mental health. That's a touchy subject.
  Not only that but Anonymous, minus the ads, has written some extremely insightful and thoughtful comments that I know have blessed me tremendously and helped me rethink some of my own attitudes and understandings. Please continue to do so!
  As for the advertisers, I hope, should you take the time to read them, my little writings bless you in your daily life.
  "Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, and the strength of salvation; the fear of the Lord is His treasure." Is 33:6

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Sound of Silence by Susan L.

  My folk's condo is in a busy suburban area. A major highway runs near their place. The Toronto International Airport has a runway a few kilometers south of them. It's neat to watch the planes coming in for a landing or taking off to places unknown. Compared to my little house in the country, it is a noisy place and takes some getting used to. My folks don't notice it.
  Years ago we used to live a bit north of where they are. It didn't seem noisy but I guess it's all what we're used to. The area has changed a lot with huge subdivisions built and tons more retail. The traffic is constant, rush hour or not. I am glad we left when we did. I thought it was too busy then.
  I remember our first night on the farm in 1993. My ears throbbed from a silence so intense it was almost painful. It was October so even the nighttime cricket chorus was gone by that point. There was only an occasional moo from the cow tenants who were residing in the barn. It felt like a sensory deprivation experiment and took some time to acclimatize to the absolute stillness and peace of the country; a peace I now relish and celebrate.
  My city dwelling son commented on how unbearable the crickets were when he stayed over, that he'd had a hard time sleeping. Crickets? What crickets? It took active listening on my part to hear them again.
  It's funny how the music of our lives becomes sub-audible until something isn't quite right like the fridge motor starting to grind. For me, it's the sound of my sump pump. It wakes me from a deep sleep if it isn't working properly.
  I wish...or should it be pray... I would hear the quiet whispers of my Lord all the time. Somehow they seem to fade into the background unless I take the time to focus on hearing His voice. Somehow, sadly, He gets lost amidst the sounds of silence.
  "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Mat 11:15

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Aha! Chickadees! by Susan L.

  I've discovered the culprit who enabled the same kind of sunflowers my neighbour planted to grace my back garden. It had me wondering all summer if it had been a squirrel who had decided to stash the seeds in the soft, dry, sandy soil. Thank You Lord, You make all things clear.
  This morning I watched chickadees taking plump and ripe seeds from the blooms. One bold fellow flew over to my small, bonfire ready wood pile, searching for the perfect crevice to stick the seed in. Once held tight, he pecked away at it to get to the tender part inside. I won't be surprised to have some growing in that area next year.
  The sunflowers are beneath a seam in my eaves trough. It must have provided a perfect, nut cracking gap. Except for the ones that got away to bloom in a stunning array of reds and oranges.
  I knew woodpeckers did this with sunflower seeds but am surprised that chickadees know how to do this as well. Maybe a woodpecker taught them!
  Honestly, I shouldn't be surprised. Animals are smarter than we give them credit for.
  It's amazing how such a simple answer fills me with the gushy, ear to ear grinning knowledge of  how much the Lord loves us and how willing He is to answer our every question. Mostly, it's simply a matter of waiting for the truth to be revealed. What makes it even better is I didn't really pray about it. The sunflower puzzlement was only a thought that rambled through my head on a few occasions since I first saw sunflower leaves poking out of the earth.
  That and He made sure I was in the right place at the right time to witness His creation's brilliance.
  Praise God!
  "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" Rom 8:31-32



Sunday, 7 September 2014

Another Check Mark by Susan L.

  The painting is done at the centre. Another item off the to-do list. It looks so much better, more peaceful and inviting. I like it so much I just might re-do my bedroom the same colour. Or maybe after painting at my Mom's, it'll be time to take a break. That's okay too. I'll have more time next month anyways because I'll be given time off in lieu of the hours spent painting.
  It's a lovely day. The gardens are in desperate need of weeding and deadheading. Time on my knees so to speak. I've lots of battery left in my iPod so the worship music will accompany me as I putter, rest often, and enjoy being outside.
  I confess I am struggling about returning to church. The anxiety issues I had earlier this spring and into the summer have made me a bit wary of placing myself in such a busy and loud environment. It's probably all in my head (ha-ha) but still...the thought of returning makes my stomach churn. Lord? I need Your guidance in this matter. I'll leave the where and when up to You.
  Yes, I've done "busy" for the last six weeks or so recognizing that it isn't a pace to maintain indefinitely. Never mind the fact I wouldn't want to. Sleeping in this morning is a gentle reminder that the body needs time to restore the batteries. Mind you the barrage of adrenaline that usually flares up in anxiety ridden situations has served me well. It's given more than enough energy to complete big projects.
  Hmmm, thank You for showing me the full half of the glass.
  "But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." Mk 10:27

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Storm Watch by Susan L.

 Around seven thirty last night the sky grew dark. I went outside with a primordial sense of impending doom to watch the storm roll in. At first the air was still: thick and heavy with the kind of humidity that makes taking a shower redundant. The earth was full of muted, nearly suffocated anticipation as the clouds first inched their way in from the south. Three crows swept past, followed by a flock of starlings racing east. A seagull and a turkey vulture joined the exodus. Sparrows and goldfinches flitted past in the blink of an eye to find shelter in the pines at the side of my yard.
  A slight rustle touched the treetops, their leaves upside down in pleading supplication to the growing intensity of the wind. The soft, inviting cloud blanket from the south hovered overhead, stonewalled by the force from the north. It was overpowered and swept away in a matter of moments. The freshening air felt wonderful on my sweat dampened skin.
  The clouds were roiling and boiling with the colours of a blackened eye. Ragged, dark fingers reached down, swirling and twisting but not a drop of rain fell. I could see it coming, a small glimpse of nearly winter white hidden in the distance by the trees. Except for the wind, the storm was eerily silent.
  The first drop fell. A distance rumble of thunder announced the storm's arrival. I hightailed it into the house to watch from the safety of a window.
  God's fireworks lit up the heavens. Thunder booms and eye wincing cracks put Chinese rockets to shame. Pumpkin nudged my hand for reassurance as he joined me at the window before disappearing under the bed like the last time. Poor fellow. I almost wanted to join him.
  I live right on the edge of tornado alley. It makes me watch the heavens carefully during our notorious summer thunderstorms. Just in case.
  "The Lord of hosts is with us." Ps 46:11

Friday, 5 September 2014

Going Well by Susan L.

  The ceiling and trim at the centre are finished with two coats of paint. I stayed late last night, only a couple of hours, because I worked and was on my own so working on the front room was not an option. Hopefully it will be possible to start on the walls today then finish off tomorrow and it will be done.
  Despite the aches it creates in my neck, knuckles and knees, it's a job I thoroughly enjoy doing. It helps too that I am in better shape after the big build.
  The centre is finally getting new doors at the back and front. Last winter we had to hang a blanket over the ancient wood door at the back to stop the bitter, icy wind from whistling in. The double metal front door also has built in air conditioning because the bottoms are nearly rusted through. We've been trying to have that done for a few years now to no avail. It'll sure help the heating bill!
  The landlord had someone paint all the outside trim around the windows, another task that was badly needed. It'd be nice if he'd paint the entire building especially since there are patches where the paint is peeling but we'll see. (Lord, I am sending a request Your way.)
  We've maintained a small patch of garden out front which will get some tweaking next spring. It's nice to have a bit of colour. The landlord's handy man cleaned up all the shrubbery and weeds from around the place and took out the small jungle that was growing in the eaves trough.
  What with the new paint, the new doors, the Krasman Centre will look a whole lot more inviting. I'm glad because I am sure the building's exterior appearance was off-putting. So many people are surprised to find the interior so nice once they came inside.
  All we need now is a new sign. Again, a job I would enjoy doing.
  "A lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord." Prov 16:33

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Guardian by Susan L.

  I was working in the garden yesterday and bent over to dig up a currant bush that had made a home where it wasn't wanted. I am usually very careful when working around bushes or trees but the awkwardness of digging up the bush from a chaotic hedgerow had me focused on trying to find the roots and dig them out. A thick-as-your-thumb, cut off branch jabbed me hard in the eye or rather, my eye lid. Either I was looking down or had blinked at the right moment. The end result was a bit of a bruise and slight tenderness. It could have been so much worse.
  Someone, a most marvelous, awesome Someone is definitely watching over me.
  How very reassuring.
  How many times in a day do we have near misses that we are totally oblivious to? Perhaps that person who is driving too slow in front of us is there to stop us from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps the huge lineup at the grocery store where only one cashier is on duty saves us from a catastrophic event.
  Perhaps all those things that make us frustrated and sometimes even angry are God's way of protecting His children.
  I can forget that sometimes and allow situations I have no control over to get under my skin. It takes events like an eye poking to remind me to keep an eye open for the visible Hand of God working in my life every single day. Wonderful miracles can come in teeny tiny packages.
  "Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it." Lk 10:23-24

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Genesis by Susan L.

  There's pockets of yellow, red and orange beginning to appear in the lush greenery around the house. It's not due to lack of rain but are the forerunners of, gasp, autumn. This is the first year I can ever remember the grass didn't turn brown in late summer. Quite the opposite, it's still growing as if it were May!
  Some of the perennials blooms are about done and need dead heading. The bee balm is well past its prime although the occasional hummingbird still checks it out in case there's a bit of nectar left. I watched a pair squabble last night. Quick as lightening they swooped and dove, weaving in and out of trees and flowers cursing each other in their tiny, angry voices. It makes me laugh every time.
  The crickets darn near drown them out.
  I've gone out on clear nights this week to look at the stars. There's something absolutely awesome about looking skyward hoping to catch a glimpse of a shooting star. The sky is so massive and I am so small. I wonder if God created the heavens from a pocketful of stars that He scooped up in His hand and blew into the darkness.
  "Then God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; He made the stars also." Gen 1:16

Monday, 1 September 2014

Adjustment by Susan L.

  It'll take a couple of days for the adrenaline to calm down, the git 'er done Drive that enabled me to put in a few long days to finish the shed. I feel a bit lost this morning although there's plenty on the 'to do' list. Not just at home but we are going to paint the front room at the centre.
  I say 'we' but I'd like to get it done this week even if it means going in on the weekend. I gladly volunteer my time. It's a fairly big job. Not the walls so much but the centre is in an old house that still has original trim and baseboards. It's beautiful and big. The three window wells are deep which means a lot of brushwork. That takes time.
  I enjoy painting be it creative or utilitarian. It's satisfying work because there is such a difference when the work is finished.
  Next week I'm heading down to my mom's for a few days to paint their main hallway. It's the least I can do. I'd forgotten about another gift that the big build brought out that will come in handy: I can cut in around trim and windows using either right or left hand. It sure makes it easier. Hallways have a lot.
  Where are You going with this my Lord?
  It is not pride when we acknowledge God's gifts: the skills and talents that make us who we are. It fills His heart with joy to see us using them as they were meant to be used. It makes the Lord smile when we find abilities we never thought we had. It is not pride when we acknowledge the Source of these blessings that are meant to be celebrated.
  Thank You so very much for that.
  It isn't all about creativity either. Some of us have the gift of numbers, or organization and structure. Others with children or animals or the elderly. Some can grow plants. Perhaps those who can't see that as a gift as well. There is the gift of conversation and its partner listening. It's such a gift to learn and retain what we learn. Always remembering dates and names isn't something everyone can do. The list is endless. What's yours look like?
  "Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you."" Jer 1:5