Friday, 31 October 2014

deviltry by Susan L.

  We're having a little Halloween party at the centre with games like bobbing for apples, pumpkin carving, and mask making. It takes me back a few years. I waffled back and forth about wearing a costume but simply can't do it. It goes against my faith.
  I even went so far as to make a funky wig out of scrap bits a yarn last night. The idea was to be a woolly mammoth, poking fun at my middle aged girth. It's not happening even though I used to love making costumes for the kids and occasionally for myself when invited to a Halloween party.
  That was then, this is now.
  We Christians don't talk about the forces of darkness. It's a topic that can get you some rather strange and often unbelieving looks so I am going to go out on a limb today. If we believe in angels and heaven, why is it so hard to admit that the devil has his minions as well? There are angels who watch over us, it's in the scriptures. The imps of satan are there too. (I won't capitalize his name. That is a show of respect and I have none for him.) Jesus delivered many from their grips and set them free.
  Unclean spirits, demons, sin all mean the same thing: the devil's very real minions are at work in our lives.
  In an age of science and technology we quickly ignore the scriptures relating to these issues as ancient superstitions, not applicable to this day and age. That, too, is the devil's work. It makes it easy for him to wreak havoc behind the scenes.
  I'll tell you a little story. When looking for a place to live, my uncle suggested a move to Hamilton to share a home with him. It made sense. He was getting older and it was a financially sound idea. However, the busy city was the last place I wanted to be. A country girl at heart, I knew the city wasn't a healthy place for me. I asked the Lord to give me a sign: a butterfly, when I'd arrived at the place He'd chosen for me to live.
  My son and I went to visit my uncle one sunny afternoon shortly after having that conversation with him and the Lord. When we arrived, his house was literally covered with hundreds of white, what I thought were butterflies. My heart dropped, panic filled my heart and tears came to my eyes. It would mean leaving my friends, my job, everything. It would mean being surrounded by noisy traffic and dirt and pollution. It would mean being away from nature where it is easy to connect with my Maker on quiet walks.
  I am thankful my son is a bug nut.
  "Mom, they're moths!"
  The devils "miracles" are but a shadow of what the Lord can do.
  I did get a butterfly when I arrived at the house I am in now. A single, rare, yellow on black swallowtail rested in the middle of the driveway gently fanning its wings.
  That was a huge lesson learned. Don't ask for a sign from God, it's a gateway for the devil to play havoc with my life. He and his imps are watching and waiting for the opportunity to do their worst because they can.
  If we let them.
  "Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him." Mat 4:11

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Infidelity by Susan L.

  There's a hidden, rather nefarious lesson being taught by the media. "It's okay to do as you want." Television in particular keeps on ramming this idea home as fictional characters jump from bed to bed whenever things get rough in a relationship. Or even if things are good, they find it easy to yield to temptation. Honor, fidelity, loyalty, dedication, perseverance, and communication are quickly becoming ideas of the past.
  There was or maybe still is an entire show based on infidelity called "Mistresses". I've never watched it. I hope it didn't last.
  In reality, infidelity has a high price. Betrayal doesn't come cheap. Just ask Judas.
  This is still a terribly difficult subject for me even after all this time.
  Part of it is simply because the some of the wounds run deep, right to the innermost core of my being. My ability to trust on so many different levels was shattered by my own ex-husband's choice to find...I have no idea what he was looking simply wasn't with me.
  I am grateful that I am not bitter. I am grateful that the Lord has brought an immense amount of healing to my heart, soul and spirit. Some things may not be fully healed this side of Heaven although I can hope and pray they will. That's okay, too.
  Sadly, in the media and in our youth, sex is regarded as a past-time, a hobby. The true meaning of making love, the intimate sharing of ourselves is a gift more precious than words, has been lost somewhere. We aren't taught and are failing to teach our youth that whenever we share ourselves in that way, we entrust part of ourselves to our partner.
  Chastity and chivalry have gone the way of honor, fidelity and loyalty.
  It's not about simply saying an arbitrary "no" to sex. It's about understanding the reason for that "no". It's about embracing the idea of how incredibly precious and valuable our innermost selves are! It's about understanding the magnitude of the gift we share, that it isn't just a body, but our entire self is being entrusted to them. This applies to both genders, not just women.
  It's about deciding who is worthy of such a gift.
  "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love." Eph 4:1-2

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Little Things by Susan L.

  An email came yesterday from my insurance company. I'd never received one before and was rather nervous about its contents. It appears turning fifty has its benefits. My car insurance, mandatory in Canada, was drastically reduced! A rare thing in the insurance world. It helps I guess to have a clean driving record with only one speeding ticket ever and no accident in the last twenty-five. It was a bit like winning the lottery. A little one anyways.
   I picked up new, fairly inexpensive, curtains for the living room window yesterday. They were too long so they needed hemming. That's a major endeavour for someone who is challenged by straight line sewing. It is the first time in a long time the sewing machine was pulled out. It made me smile a bit since the work table specifically for sewing is no longer here. It was a recent get-rid-of-it item.
  I stood in the living room pondering where I was going to set up the machine. The thought flitted through my head that a little folding table would come in handy for such purposes. Then I realized I had one...It was staring me right in the face in the form of an ironing board with adjustable height. It had been hauled out to press the new curtains. Gotta love dual purpose items, especially in a small home. It worked beautifully!
  With some trepidation I cut them off after checking the length needed about four times and hung them. The woodworker's mantra of "measure twice, cut once" works in the sewing world, too! Like hemming a skirt, I pinned them up then took them down to be sewed. That was the easiest way because they weren't particularly well made to begin with and were slightly uneven at the top.
  They look okay but I prefer blinds. They are somehow tidier looking. Perhaps in the spring I'll get some custom fitted from a company that specializes in window coverings or attempt to make some Roman shades. For now, the curtains will do. They'll help keep the winter chill out of the room which is apparently right around the corner. They're calling for snow flurries on Friday.
  It is with deepest gratitude I acknowledge the Lord's provision in all things that matter to me. Sometimes it's an item needed that time after time has "somehow" come my way. Or it's the financial provision that is always there when I need it. Or better yet, it's the inspiration to utilize what I already have in unusual ways, like the ironing board.
  It's all God in these tiny, everyday miracles that are just that: miracles.
  "A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak." Eccl 3:7

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Final Flight by Susan L.

  It was a lovely day yesterday, unusually mild with a watery sun because of the rain clouds making their way in from the south. I was over at my friend's place when a plane circled the rural property several times before landing on the freshly mowed private runway. The pilot was there to pay final tribute to my friend Wally, a former pilot himself, by taking his ashes into the sky for one last flight over his beloved farm.
  It was a beautiful send off. As the plane revved its engine for takeoff, it made me want to fly right along side of it. It sped down the runway, awkward and rumbling, until the wheels left the ground and it became a thing of grace. As it swooped over the property, the single prop, brilliant white plane glowed in the sun against the darkening sky.
  Wally's wife is a wonderful woman who I have admired for many years. We stood in the lee of the airplane hanger where Wally's earthbound plane still sleeps. We stood in silence watching the plane swoop and turn over the farm.
   I hooked arms with her as we walked back to the house after the plane had flown away and vanished in the distance. No words necessary. Sometimes there aren't any words needed.
  The gardens are still full of Snapdragons in all shades and colours, Wally's favorite. They haven't been touched by the frost yet and stood tall and nodding to us as we passed. It's a miracle they've survived this late in the season.
  Thank You, Lord, for that gift.
  "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance." Eccl 3:4

Monday, 27 October 2014

Seasons by Susan L.

  The glorious colours of autumn are winding down. Most of the leaves have fallen off the neighbourhood trees. The wind so very kindly brings them onto a corner of my front yard and the ditch was thick with them. Lawn mowers come in handy. The grass needed cutting anyways one more time before winter, the latest it's ever needed mowing! I used it to blow the leaves onto the road. It's so much easier on the back when a brisk breeze takes them dancing merrily down the road. They came to rest on the other side where no one lives except the local wildlife.
  It was a lovely day so I took care of a few other outside chores. The hose is drained and put away in the shed, along with the patio umbrella and pond pump. And I still have room to move around! How awesome is that! (Must remember to turn off the outside water before it freezes and bursts a pipe.)
  Each season has its chores doesn't it? Autumn is tucking in time: tools, harvest, getting snow tires put on the car, and hunting out the winter woollies for the bitterly cold days ahead.
  Winter is the time for inside tasks except for the inevitable snow shovelling. It's hobby time for me: sewing, painting, knitting...I have no idea what venue will inspire me this year. I'd like to make a new quilt for my bed but we'll see. There's a couple of unfinished knitting projects that are giving me the evil eye. Although, now I have a fireplace, curling up in front of it with a good book during a February blizzard sounds like a wonderful idea. I love the simple pleasures!
  Spring means getting the tools out, opening the windows to blow the cobwebs of winter out of the house, getting dirty in the garden by dividing plants, planting new ones. Then there's the wonderful delight of putting those winter woollies away!
  Summer is filled with maintenance: weeding, lawn mowing and the hard work of sitting in the shade with a cup of iced tea and something to read because the baking, humid heat of the afternoon makes work impossible. Must remember that when it hits minus forty.
  It's hard for me to choose  a favorite because each one comes with its own unique beauty, its challenges, and a variety of things to do: work and pleasure.
  "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Eccl 3:1

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Waste Not by Susan L.

  The guest room is now tidy. The mountain of renovation displacement objects which graced the bed are all put away. My sewing paraphernalia is organized in the Hoosier cupboard now residing in the closet. A trip to the dump got rid of the bags of garbage that were waiting patiently in my room, most of which was Styrofoam packing from the fireplace and TV. The items for the second hand store are piled by the back door for donating on Tuesday.
  I had a big box of VHS tapes that went to the dump as well. There was a bit of a twinge in my heart as I ruthlessly emptied the box. (Which was recycled.) A good whack of them were Disney favorites that had entertained my children and I for years. Good memories. Most of the tapes were tired and grainy anyways and not having a VCR to watch them on made hanging on to them rather pointless.
  An idea of making macramé plant hangers from the tape played around in my head. It's strong stuff. I'd even kept a couple of them aside for that purpose. With a dose of truth I realized that's not going to happen so they all went to the dump.
  There's women who crochet sleeping mats out of old plastic bags to ship to third world countries. I wondered why they didn't use video tape but realized there's probably too many harsh chemical elements in it.
  The Re-Store wouldn't take my little computer desk. I guess laptops have replaced a lot of full sized computers. It got wheeled out to the end of the driveway yesterday and it's gone today. Glad someone has a use for it!
  My new TV had an extra charge, what the government calls an environmental fee, supposedly to offset the cost of disposal. It annoyed me because the sixteen dollar fee then had sales tax applied to it. Taxing a tax in true Canadian fashion. My old TV went to a local who earns a bit of money recycling old electronics at no charge to anyone. No government necessary! Grrr!
  In purging my home, I have tried to keep the garbage to a minimum: recycling, re-using, re-purposing or donating where possible. Which reminds me, I need to call the scrap metal guy to come and pick up the pile in my driveway before the snow flies!
  "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us." 1 Cor 5:7

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Pleasurable Work by Susan L.

  This month at the centre I ran a two day crazy quilt workshop. We made little pillow covers to learn how to do the top then stuffed them with dried lavender. My own was stuffed with fabric softener dryer sheets and hung in the bedroom closet. It was a fun group with lots of laughter, chat and sharing reminiscent of old fashioned quilting bees.
  Next month I'll facilitate a group to learn how to do acrylic painting. It will be easier for everyone, including me, than the summer's watercolour workshops. That's a challenging medium to master that I still struggle with. It can be fickle and has a mind of its own at times.
  I feel so blessed in having an opportunity to share my skills with others. Nothing delights me more than to see the successes of those under my tutelage. Nothing thrills me more than to watch someone who has been told they don't have an artistic bone in their body delight in what they do. I love the sense of ``WOW! I did that!`` that fills their spirit. I celebrate their courage that despite all they've been told, they try! All I've done is hold the door open for them.
  Most of my teaching hasn't emphasised what's being put on paper. That skill grows with time. The teaching has been about training the eye to look at things and really see them in all their colours, textures and hues. It`s a beautiful world out there.
  I`m so very thankful to be in a work environment that is so supportive, mutually so. The two other ladies I work with and those who volunteer have their own unique skill sets. Where one of us is lacking, the other takes up the slack and like the quilting workshop, there is much laughter. It doesn`t get much better than that.
  ``Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.`` 1 Tim 2:1-2

Friday, 24 October 2014

The Sky by Susan L.

  Yesterday was mostly spent out side working in the garden. The sky was that shade which only blesses us this time of year: a depthless, crystal clear, deep blue that takes your breath away. There wasn't a cloud in sight. The sun lit yellow/red/orange of the sugar maples positively glowed against the rich backdrop of the heavens. Yup, it was a beautiful day, one for the memory bank.
  Memory in a business bank. Where there are forgotten accounts, or ones with compound interest that keep on paying out. Where memory items are stored with charges and surcharges. Or like a nest egg, grows over time: the classic fish tale.
  Where is this leading, Lord?
  If you ask individual people who attended a gathering what they remember, everyone has a different account. The police know this very well. Rarely do two people agree on what happened at say, a bank robbery.
  Ask anyone who has sat through a sermon what the key point was and it will be something uniquely applicable to them and their lives. The Holy Spirit reaches in where there's need for some TLC: tender loving changes.
  Memory is never wrong even though it is shaped because of our experiences, our personalities, and history. It's our memory, our story as narrated by us.
  Here's the neat part, our feelings attached to various events can be changed.
  Most of the worst times in my life have been turned into treasured events where I now find comfort. It amazes me really. It wasn't an easy journey, to sit in the midst of trauma; my memories as crystal clear as the day they happened. But it was worth it because the purpose was to find Jesus in these situations. He revealed Himself every time.
  He has been there every day of my life, good and bad. There's something reassuring to find out there truly has been Someone to watch over me, that He continues to look down out of a clear and unbelievably blue sky.
  "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." Jn 14:1-2

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Something to Think About by Susan L.

  I want to celebrate being well. This is the first autumn in many years I haven't felt the niggling fingers of depression beginning to work their way under my skin. I don't know if it was the shortening days, the fact that there's many lousy anniversary dates or if it was simply dreading the oncoming winter. Or a combination of all of the above.
  Maybe it's because I am so busy right now there's no time to think, to remember. Could it be the late spring cleaning of the house is helping as well? Purging clutter is purging my soul of unwanted associations. Perhaps it is simply because of the passage of time, the rawness, the power of these memories has finally dissipated.
  The "why" really doesn't matter. All I know is it feels good to be well. Better, in fact, than I've ever felt before. It's funny but that is something that has been said many times along the journey of recovery. Each time wellness blesses me, it's better than ever. "Plateaus of Wellness" might be an apt description. Getting up the sides can be tough work, rife with difficulties but when that safe, flat space is reached....Halleluiah!
  All I know is my heart is filled with laughter, my soul is content, my mind is able to remember and just as quickly let go of the events related to my illness.
  And there's the added affirmation, once again, that I am in Good Hands. The Lord has provided by covering the expense incurred for the fireplace and TV. That deserves another Halleluiah!
  "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)." Eph 2:4-5

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Fireplaces by Susan L.

  I stopped into Canadian Tire to check out their electric fireplace/entertainment units. They have a great sale on this week. There was one that I really liked that was within the piggy bank funds. The box is huge and heavy. My one concern was how to get it into the house without another pair of hands. Then I realized I can open the box in the car and bring it in piece by piece.
  And so begins the waffling back and forth. Should I? Shouldn't I?
  When I had left my husband and was living in a basement room, the place I worked brought in some faux stained glass panels just before Christmas. They were absolutely stunning. As I pulled a long narrow piece from it's protective packaging, it revealed monarch butterflies against pale purple and pink flowers. Have you ever had something speak to you? The beautiful work represented hope and even though I had no home, no window to hang it in, I splurged and bought it; glad of the employee discount. It felt like a promise of better things to come.
  Then the guilt set in. Or should I say a mental war broke out. Maybe it's part of being a mom: everyone else's needs came first. That was only part of it. A co-worker was going though a difficult time and I was under the impression I was supposed to give the glass panel to her. (Isn't that what Christian's do?) Something didn't seem right. The thought of giving it away nearly broke my heart so I began to pray for confirmation about what was supposed to take place.
  It ended up being a huge leap in understanding and lie breaking. The truth was that it was okay for me to have nice things. And no, I wasn't to give the panel away.
  It hangs in my kitchen window, a daily affirmation of God's love.
  I think I'll pick up the fireplace today. Somehow there's a sense of urgency. Should the power go out this winter, I'll be able to plug it into my generator. Nice things can be practical too! Thank You, Lord, for Your provision.
  "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors, for whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord." Prov 8:34-35

Monday, 20 October 2014

Getting There by Susan L.

  A good part of the weekend was spent getting rid of stuff, organizing other stuff, and tidying up. The place now only looks like a small bomb went off. I made boxes out of foam core board for all my binders and wrapped them in decorative paper. They look nice on the shelf now instead of a disarrayed chaos of colour that flopped around like binders always do.
  My creative writing efforts are in a couple of the boxes as well. I took the time read through some of my efforts before filing them away. It was a bit of a journey down memory lane although most of the writing wasn't dated, something I'll try and do in the future.
  It's nice, too, to be able to get things together for a donation trip to a local second hand store. I've decided to get rid of some things I had brought with me when leaving my ex. They don't fit with the décor and they are a bit of a trigger, stirring up associations I'd sooner leave behind.
  And books. My goodness, I have no idea why I have hung on to some of them! There was more than one sneeze fit as I pulled them off the shelf. (A sad comment to my housekeeping skills.) They were bagged for the store or to take to the centre where we have a book exchange table.
  The next job is tackling the computer area. An old laptop, and two towers have to be started up and purged. I want to make sure I have all the photos and creative writing off them before taking them to the recycler. Then I can get rid of the desk. The kitchen table serves me just fine for the laptop and  has a window to look out of. A much nicer writing environment!
  I am feeling somewhat anxious and overwhelmed by all that is still to be gone through. I need to remind myself it doesn't all need to be done today.
  "And he answered and said to Him, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth. Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "One thing you lack; Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." Mk 10:20-21

Sunday, 19 October 2014

A Rainy Drive by Susan L.

  H. and I went for a long drive yesterday to admire the autumn colours. It was unfortunately a rather miserable day, rainy and blustery, so we didn't get to stop and hike anywhere as was our original plan. Although because everything was soaking, the colours were more intense. There were spots where the road narrowed and we drove through golden woods bathed in an iridescent light. There were some beautiful spots as we wandered up gravel side roads undiscovered and into small villages that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. And at the start of our travels, a rather faint rainbow made an appearance, the promise of a sun that never appeared. We stopped for lunch in Creemore, a touristy town with gift boutiques, a microbrewery, and many deli/bakeries that offer their delicious goods.
  On the way back, we ended up on a road that had no winter maintenance. Glad of my little SUV, we bumped our way along it admiring the scenery. We also ended up a bit disoriented but H, being the excellent navigator she is and armed with several maps, soon found our way again. I swore we were going west but we were actually heading south. With no sun in the sky,  it was easy to get turned around.
  We live in the area called the Headwaters of Ontario. Somewhere nearby is the highest point in Ontario so there are many small rivers and bubbling creeks that begin high in the hills. They have names like the Noisy River, the Pretty, the Boyne, the Nottawasaga. Some head south to Lake Ontario, others discharge north into Georgian Bay. The Niagara Escarpment, a World Biosphere Reserve, cuts through the landscape and provides amazing views. At least they would have been amazing if the rain had stopped.
Still, because of the altitude, it felt like we could touch the clouds.
  Following a winding, undulating road, we discovered future potential hike sites in the Pretty River Conservation area. There's no main entrance for parking, the road simply widens so there is a place to pull over. The trails wander up, down and around the Blue Mountain. I'd never seen that area before and look forward to nicer days when exploring on foot is possible. 
   "All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; To the place from which the rivers come, there they return again." Eccl 1:7

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Requests by Susan L.

  There's been several anonymous commenters who have asked how to get in touch with me. They have mostly come from comments that have been relegated to the spam folder. Is it naïve of me to not think there's an ulterior motive? Whoever they are, they don't want to reveal their identity yet are willing to post a link to whatever product they're endorsing. I've tried to follow a couple these links to contact them at their request but ran into a brick wall. If it isn't least when it comes to technology, I get frustrated.
  Which I suppose is like a lot of other people out there as well. That's why I got rid of the scrunchy letters that acted like a security wall. That way it's easier for commenters to say their piece.
  So, my dear anonymous readers, I have no problem that you choose to remain nameless. If it means you are willing to share, bless you for doing that. However, if you want to get in touch with me, you'll have to take the chance and give me an email address...oh... doing that will put it out there for all to read. Maybe that isn't the best idea.
  If I'm reluctant to share my own email...Yup. I get it.
  It's possible to set up an email account specifically for the blog. What a great venue for some peer support!
  I'll do that right now and post the address in the introduction. I look forward to hearing from you!
  "The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever." Ps 138:8

Friday, 17 October 2014

Humbled By It All by Susan L.

  When this little blog venture was started, it was without any sort of game plan or agenda. Typical of who I am, I simply jumped right in. The Lord has proven faithful every morning that the laptop has been opened. He has given me something to write about.
  This will be my 660th post. I've had nearly twenty thousand hits from around the world. Blogger keeps the stats for me. It has a map of the world showing the countries where visitors to this site are from. I am in awe that there are visitors from as far away as Russia and Indonesia. It truly is a global village.
  Ten years ago next month began the journey that included finding my voice; one that was buried deep in confusion, despair and depression. I remember a friend blessing me, saying, "You have a voice and it's worth listening to."
  I didn't believe her but the Lord has forgiven me my doubt.
  The first thing the Lord did for me when I accepted Christ as my Saviour was to call me to the drafting table, to the art. The dialog began between Him and I began with painting the music. I cranked the classical music I enjoy so much as loud as I could and began listening with my eyes. Swirls of watercolour, tentative at first, soon became free.
  It quickly evolved into images, into a dialog of pictures that has been so crucial to my wellness. Words have often failed me but the art hasn't although it did take some practice to set my own agenda aside as to what the image should look like.
  I realize now that this part of my reclamation began with an audience of One. God could hear my voice and He was listening. The art enables me to hear Him as well as the Holy Spirit guides my pen or brush or pencil or scissors...or, now I can say, this morning ritual with the keyboard.
  As much as this blog is on public display, it's really an ongoing conversation with God.
  So, thank you, gentle readers, I am truly honored and inspired by the affirmation you provide in taking a peek at what I have to say. God bless you all.
  "The eyes of those who see will not dim, and the ears of those who hear will listen." Is 32:3

Thursday, 16 October 2014

New Haircut by Susan L.

  Whenever it's time to get a haircut, there's not much room for play because I can't handle any sort of hair around my neck and ears. It's been short for a long time. This time it's almost a brush cut but the hairdresser and I agreed to leave some bangs that will eventually grow longer. It softens the severity of the shearing which is a bit shorter than even I like. It won't take long to grow anyways.
  I died my bangs navy blue with a temporary colour concoction.
  Colouring my hair has never been top of my priority list and since it's kept short, it wouldn't last as long and seemed a waste of time and effort. Besides, the rest of my hair has come in a lovely salt and pepper although there seems to be more salt this last trim. The small tub of blue will last a long time because it's just for my bangs.
  And if I get tired of it, I can always do something funky like purple or fuchsia.
  I've wanted to do something like this for ages but never had the nerve. Maybe because I was a child of the sixties and my teen years in the eighties saw some rather unusual hairstyles in all sorts of colours. Punk rock was in. I remember seeing a woman at a bus stop one time who had shining, raven black hair. Conservatively dressed, she had a small teal square like the patch of colour on a red wing blackbird's wing on one side. It looked lovely and I've never forgotten it although that chance encounter was over thirty years ago.
  There must be something about being fifty that has set me free. It's nice to invite a bit of harmless play into my life.
  "But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you." Acts 26:16

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Heaven by Susan L.

  I finally made it to the Writer's Nest last night. It had been a while. It was a small gathering, only half a dozen ladies, but it was nice to spend most of the evening chatting, catching up and sharing things other than our writing. The topic was gratitude seeing as it was Thanksgiving this month.
  It's a treat to be able to meld the two social events in my life: the Bible study group and this one. In the study group, we are learning about Heaven. It inspired me to write this poem I shared last night:


 Swirling upwards,
   The singing columns caress the roof
      of Eternity.
   Their fragrance fills the senses:
   A burst of purple on the tongue
                       With hints
   Of cinnamon music that sparkles
      Before the eyes.

   Laugh the dancing, divine light:
      The Song of Songs,
      The Joy of Joys.
      "Oh Holy of Holies,
      Blessed be Your name!"

Between the prism hues,
      Bereft of shadows,
   Chant a sweet smelling blanket:
      Lavender mauve,
          Autumn leaves' honey amber
                        And gold,
   So clean and pure.
         So sweet.
Living turquoise,
        And incense green,
   Sky-water blues
   A sigh in harmony.

The Lord of Lords,
The King of Kings,
The Presence Beyond Presence,
   More beautiful than life,
               Wraps the soul
      In promised peace fulfilled.

   "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. Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."" Rev 21:4-5

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Another Task Done by Susan L.

  Since there was such a heavy frost the last couple of days, it was time to bring the fish in from their pond summer quarters. It's later than usual because of the demands on my time over the last couple of weeks. There was an advantage: fish don't move fast when they are cold so it was an easy catch. It only took a half hour to bring them up to room temperature by placing the pail of fish into a sink full of warm water. It was surprising how frisky they got once warmed.
  I'm not quite sure what Pumpkin thinks of the big ones although it didn't stop him resting on one of his favorite perches just to check things out. This picture and question were posted on Facebook last night and my son's response was: "conflicted".
  It`s a good thing Pumpkin didn't try to get up there when the lid was off. That would have made a bit of a mess, having a wet cat tear through the house. I could have done nothing but laugh helplessly at him. Wouldn't that wound his feline pride!
  What`s that old saying...Laugh at yourself and the world laughs with you, laugh at someone and you laugh alone.
  ``Behold, God will not cast away the blameless, nor will He uphold the evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing. Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the dwelling place of the wicked will come to nothing.`` Job 8:20-21

Monday, 13 October 2014

Nightmares by Susan l.

  It may have been the fact that I had a huge dinner, Thanksgiving style because the night was filled with terrible dreams. There was one that went on and on. I could feel myself gasping for air as panic attack after panic attack swept over me. I was trying to get myself admitted to hospital but everyone thought I was acting up, that the attacks were faked. It was very real and very frightening.
  My chest is tight, my heart and soul are rather unsettled this morning. It's how I feel after a real attack which, thankfully, hasn't happened for a long time.
  It's put forward that nightmares are our subconscious acting out our fears. Smarten up, subconscious! I sure don't need stuff like that being brought up, not when things are going so well mentally, physically and emotionally! Especially when it triggers a whole lot of rather unpleasant memories of when I was actually hospitalized for mental health reasons.
  The dream held some elements of truth to it. The first time I landed in the ER, desperate for some sort of help, absolutely out of my mind...I was going to be sent home. It wasn't until I asked the young lady who was doing my assessment if I needed to hold a gun to my head before she'd help.
  That was one of the hardest days of my life. Asking for help, realizing that I wasn't "entitled". My voice, true to history, wasn't being heard. That my well groomed appearance (meaning I was showered and clean) belied the inner chaos. Literally at the end of my rope, I did what was necessary to get that help: threatening suicide.
  I was admitted right away.
  I was so lost, so tired...there are days from around that time that vanished into the mist because my mind simply walked away.
  But now I am found! Amen!
  It's coming up to the anniversary date of this life altering, very traumatic time. It's not surprising it showed up in my dreams after all.
  "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust." surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge."


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Hint of Winter by Susan L.

  The thermometer reads minus three. There's a blanket of frost covering the rooftops. Each leaf on the little cherry tree in the back yard has a salted rim of glistening white. Every blade of grass, every flower in the garden is wrapped in bridal finery. It's breathtaking. There's a bright sun peeking its way through the forest across the road; a sign of fall that I can see it through the rapidly thinning leaves. There's nothing but clear blue overhead. It won't take long for a bit of heat to erase the priceless beauty of the morning.
  I give thanks for the wonderful start to the morning. It is Thanksgiving Sunday.
  Pretty soon the house will smell of baking pies. My daughter asked me to bring dessert for the family dinner today: specifically pumpkin pie. It's not my personal favorite. I guess it's like Christmas Cake. Either you like it or you don't. A handful of butter tarts is nothing to whip up and take along as well. That's my favorite although Florida's key lime pie runs a close second.
  I'm excited to see everyone. It's been a while. It'll be nice to take a break from the renovations. I was pretty tired last night. And achy, thankful for a hot bath with muscle relaxing salts tossed in.
  My DNA test kit arrived on Friday. I'll wait until Tuesday so I can mail it as soon as the cheek swabs are done. I'm excited about that as well. And thankful that I'll soon have answers.
  I've decided to do a prayer journal/scrapbook specifically to record this quest for knowledge. I picked up a nice watercolour book, thankfully inexpensive, from my favorite store, Dollarama. It'll help keep everything in one place. It'll help fill the time spent waiting for results.
  Yup. It's a good life. And I'll sign off with one more gigantic "Thank You!"
  "Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple." Ps 65:4

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Oh-oh by Susan L.

  I have a little routine in the morning. Turn on the laptop, feed the cat, put the kettle on, open the blinds and feed the fish. I grab my phone and hook it into the laptop to access the internet while I make a coffee. In that order. Every day. It has become something I don't think too much about any more. Not having time to blog throws the whole thing out of whack. Today started with a chuckle. (Teach me not to think about what I am doing.)
  I grabbed a bowl and dropped a spoonful of instant coffee into it. I was about to pour the boiling water when it dawned on me, "Hey, that's not a mug!"
  Maybe going back to bed might be a good idea.
  The living room is finished. The trim is all installed. Pumpkin has his cedar rail scratching post screwed to one end of the shelf. That was a major priority, he was starting to claw the little antique two drawer dresser! I love him dearly but sometimes...All that's left is to hang pictures, get the plants out of the kitchen and organize the shelf. I'll see what the rocking chair looks like without being painted. That little project can always wait.
  There's still trim to install in the kitchen, hallway and in the laundry/pantry area.
  A friend pointed out to me that thinking through the processes of what needs to be done next is actually setting goals. Don't tell anyone. It doesn't feel like goal setting but rather breaking down a big job into manageable tasks. Which is setting goals isn't it? Even if they are only short term. Doesn't that concept rock my world!
  Maybe I should go back to bed.
  "Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding." Prov 23:23

Friday, 10 October 2014

We Tried by Susan L.

  The mouse didn't make it through the night. I guess he was just too little to be away from mom although how he came to be running around the floor on his own we'll never know. This was greeted by the visitors with mixed feelings. Not everyone is particularly fond of rodents. It's probably for the best. Wild creatures are not meant for cages.
  No one is meant for cages.
  I got the under-the-window-bookshelf built last night after work. I'd been musing on it all day trying to figure out the best way to put it together. It gave me great satisfaction when it came out square and level. The two most important aspects of shelving are a bit tricky when building something on my own. Using scrap wood as spacers as I screwed the unit together helped a lot. The shelf, painted the same colour as the walls, makes the living room look bigger for some reason. Maybe having a foot wide sill creates the illusion of space. All that's needed to finish it is the second coat of paint and to screw a piece of cedar rail to one end so Pumpkin has something to sink his claws in to. I'd sooner have that rather than him using the furniture.
  I hope to get the last of the baseboards and quarter round in tonight then this reno will be finished and I can start organizing. Not just the living room but the guest room as well is in dire need of sorting. The chaos in the house is getting to me. The clutter is getting to me. Time to purge.
  Which leads me back to my second paragraph. Stuff can build a cage of its own.
  "A time to gain and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away." Ecc 3:6

Thursday, 9 October 2014

New Mascot by Susan L.

  I popped into the centre yesterday to take a break from the living room and to check out the grocery supplies. I'm making the community lunch today and needed to know what was in the kitchen before I went supply shopping.
  My co-worker called me into the office, a mysterious, cat-caught-the-canary expression on her face. It wasn't a canary. She had caught a baby mouse and had him housed in big plastic bin. He is no bigger than a walnut. A little ball of gray and white fluff with bright black eyes.
  My first comment was, "Oh, how cute is that!"
  She didn't have the heart to kill it or toss it outside and was in a bit of a quandary.
  I wasn't much help there either.
  Instead, I offered to walk down and check out a couple of the second hand stores on the main street. A woman on a mission  I found a small hamster cage that had, get this, just been donated the day before. It looked brand new and came with water bottles, a little house, the wheel for running and an exercise ball that can roll freely on the floor. All for a fraction of what it would have cost new.
  The two of us were delighted with it. Talk about a decision being blessed!
  We decided to name him Lance (even if it is a her) after Lance Krasman, the reason the centres exist. The Krasman's started the centre in Richmond Hill after their son committed suicide. It is an act of generosity and kindness that has saved many lives over the years. No one is turned away.
  Even a mouse.
  "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good." Rom 12:9

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Baseboards by Susan L.

  The painting's done except for a couple of touch-ups because the light wasn't so great and I missed a couple of spots. It happens. Now on to the baseboards.
  I've been toying with the idea of making a built-in bookcase beneath the window. It'd give me a nice wide sill for plants and Pumpkin perching. I'd only need to figure out what to do with his cedar rail scratching post. There's two of them that support his seat by the window and he loves getting his claws into them. I suppose I could attach a couple smaller cedar pieces to the end of the bookcase. They'd be good and solid. Sounds good to me. Thanks for the solution!
  I'm going to cut this short. I had a good sleep in and am raring to go.
  Blessings on your day!
  "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Selah" Ps 68:19

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Stewardship by Susan L.

  In a mad flurry of activity I accomplished a lot over the last two days. The first coat of paint is everywhere I put primer. The trim is installed around the front door and window and has been painted as well. How nice it is to get rid of the orange!
  It was a sore and tired body that fell into bed last night.
  Taking care of my home, the tiny harvest gold nugget which I call Eden's Gate, by tending the garden, by creating a comfortable environment and completing projects has brought the idea of stewardship into my heart. It's the next step of identifying our gifts. It's about taking care of them, nurturing them, and finding opportunities for them to shine. It's about practicing using them and sometimes requires sacrificing our own needs or agenda.
  Adam was the first steward. God placed him in the Garden of Eden to tend the plants and animals.
  God is the Great Steward. As much as I am sure He was angry and saddened by Adam and Eve eating the apple, He took the time to clothe them in tunics of animal skin before sending them on their way. They were still His creations after all and He had already planned the life of Christ so we can be reconciled to Him.
  Which I believe is one of the greatest gifts of all: Grace.
  "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship." 1 Cor 9:16-17

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Living Room by Susan L.

  Yesterday involved taking down the window blinds, plastering holes and places where the wall needed some touch-ups. There was wood left over from the shed so I was able to re-frame the window, prepping it for new trim. Once again the table saw came in handy. I started patching the stucco ceiling where it got water damaged. That's going to take some layers, it was a pretty big hole.
  I built a frame with castors for the doll house so it is much easier to wheel around and can be stored in the guest room until the grandbabies come for a visit. I was tempted to get rid of it but as long as they enjoy playing with it, it'll have a place in the house.
  I have an old 1950's Hoosier cupboard that doubles as a TV cabinet. It is a complete kitchen in a small space. It has the original enamel pull out work surface, the tin drawer for flour and a cutting board that tucks away nicely. The amber old-wood finish was looking rather tired so in a fit of indecision it got primed, ready to paint. It's part of my needing to get rid of the orange but there's a part of me that loves old wood. I think I'll paint it the same colour as the walls because it's too tall and wide for the size of the room. Painting it the wall colour will create a more open feeling.
  And the DVD cupboard I built will get painted. And the plant stand. Orange, look out!
  Then there's the two drawer, squat, little antique dresser the fish tank sits on. It's the honey-orange colour only age can give but as I've said, it's time for a change. It will probably be the last thing I do because it means emptying the tank twice. Once to put it on the floor so I can do some repairs to the dresser and paint. It'll need to be emptied to put it back on top. Fish don't do well without water! And in a stroke of genius: they could reside in a temporary home until the job's finished! Brilliant! Thanks for the suggestion.
  And the rocking chair which is more of the same amber/orange wood. It will be painted white to match the trim instead of the wall colour. 
  I've decided not to re-install the roll up bamboo blinds. If I am going to go to all the trouble to install colonial trim with the square decorative thingies, I don't want to hide it behind bamboo blinds. I've always liked white lace. That'll help keep the room bright and airy despite the fact it doesn't get much sun with an eastern facing window.
  So, there's a big to-do list for the next few days.
  Thank You Lord, I have a project! And thank You that I have organized my thoughts.
  "May the glory of the Lord endure forever!" Ps 104:31

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Oh, How I Love a List by Susan L.

  Except for the to-do kind of list. They get me all frazzled.
  I'm talking about yesterday's list of gifts. As my friend H so aptly commented, "If it doesn't feel like work, if you get energized by doing something, then it's a gift!" I'd like to add that if we get energized by being something, it too is a gift!
  After I published my blog, many other ideas popped into my head so the list continues today:
  Animals large and small. Mathematics. Growing things. Languages. Technology. Invention. Finances. Empathy. Sensitivity. Hospitality. Poetry. Storytelling. Song. Optimism. Metalwork. Woodwork. Encouragement. Service. Healing. Patience. Design. Problem solving. Finding things. Strength in all its forms. Law. Gratitude...
  These are all positive. Don't get me wrong, that's wonderful, but so often we ignore the hidden gifts that lay within suffering, or want, or grief. There's buried treasure in loneliness and tears. Shame can lead to the precious gifts of repentance and renewal. Anger and bitterness can evolve into forgiveness and freedom. Without rejection we could not know love. Without knowing the dark side, we could never taste the Light.
  The Cup of Christ contains all of this. Every single aspect of human existence: the good, the bad and the ugly are ours when we drink deeply of this most precious vessel. In partaking of the Cup, we claim all of it as our divine inheritance. Jesus knew them all.
  This is the greatest gift. In accepting Jesus as our Saviour, we can talk to Him about our brokenness, our hurt, our losses and anger. He understands because He has been there too.
  They help us to connect with the work Jesus did on the cross.
  The choices of one man brought me literally to my knees. Thank You, Lord, I can only imagine a fraction of the weight of the sins of the world. Thank You, Lord, I will never have to bear such pain.
  "Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with me on the table." Lk 22:20-21


Friday, 3 October 2014

Value by Susan L.

  So often we measure ourselves by what we do. Often what we do belies a hidden talent or ability or something, a gift, that is an innate part of who we are. An anonymous reader commented on yesterdays blog, "Trial and Error", that their organizational skills had never been acknowledged as a gift. Oh, my goodness, is it ever!
  Organizers keep the trains, planes and automobiles running on time. Without them to keep us rather scatterbrained come-what-may humans organized, nothing would ever get done. Huge companies or small companies would disintegrate in a chaos of paper and bytes. Countless valuable records would be lost. The education system would collapse. Grocery stores would lay empty as would every other factory on the planet. Books would never get written or published. Music, the organization of notes, wouldn't exist. You get the idea.
  I think the hardest part of acknowledging our giftings is because most of the time it is something we do effortlessly, that is part of our identity's makeup. We don't see them as being special in our own eyes and run on the assumption that they are something everyone does. But in God's eyes, they are miracles of His creation who He blessed at birth with skills and abilities uniquely our own:
  Attitude, analysis and adapting.
  Baking, bearing and becoming.
  Conversation, calming and changing.
  Determination, dedicated and delightful.
  Encouraging, early and efficient.
  Fatherhood, faithful and fun.
  Generosity, genuine and grace full.
  Health, hockey and humour.
  Insight, idiosyncrasies and identity.
  Jokes, juggling and joy.
  Knitting, kindness, and knowledge.
  Laughing, leading and loving .
  Medicine, maternity and melody.
  Noodle making, noble and nursing.
  Organization. (For you my anonymous friend from one who struggles to keep her ducks in a row.)
  Politics, passion and persistence.
  Quiet, questioning and quirky.
  Restoration, receptive and resiliency.
  Smile, scientific, and sacrificing.
  Thoughtful, teaching and trusting.
  Understanding, unusual and upright.
  Visionary, volunteering and voice.
  Whimsy, warm and willing.
  Excitement. (Had to cheat.)
  Yielding, yearning and yodelling.
  Zest, zeal and...all I can think of is zebra, I'll leave you to work out how that is a gift!
  "Before I (God) formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Jer 1:5

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Trial and Error by Susan L.

  Someone who hasn't known me for very long asked me yesterday if there was anything I couldn't do. They had watched me do a small acrylic painting as a study for a larger piece. It's not the first time that question has been tossed my way. I smiled and said I draw the line at using a chain saw. (They terrify the pants off me!) It's comments like that which just might give me a swelled head.
  Few people see the mistakes, the practice runs, the hours spent honing the gifts the Lord gave me in creative expression.
  Nobody sees the massive number of typos or the number of times I have to back space, or cut and copy, when doing my blog. Nobody sees the hand written draft pages with lines crossed out, words changed or the pile of scrunched up paper cast aside as the search for a story evolves.
  Nobody sees the hours and hours spent honing my artistic skills. There are many quiet moments spent simply looking at things so I can paint or draw imaginary landscapes better. Eraser crumb evidence piles up on the table and floor before a drawing is completed. There are some pretty awful paintings in my cupboard. I haven't the heart to throw them away. They represent an evolution in ability.
  I've had to tear up hours of knitting. Stitches have to be picked out and redone on the crazy quilts that are such a joy for me to make by hand. I can't sew a straight line using my sewing machine. (Could use some practice there.)
  Nobody hears the wrong notes on the piano as a new piece is mastered in the privacy of my own home. I've been practicing nearly all my life to be able to play both the organ and the piano. (Oh, how I hated doing scales!) Adding expression was nearly impossible for me until the Lord set me free from life long Dysthymia. It's a low grade, chronic form of depression that wraps emotions in a wool blanket. Now my heart sings the music and it is a joy for me to play just for Him.
  We are not to envy others' gifts and talents that come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. It could be faith, or mathematics, cooking, putting people at ease, remembering names and dates, or umpteen million other abilities that are uniquely our own. They should be celebrated because it takes determination, dedication and perseverance for them to bloom.
  "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor 10:31

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Hurry Up and Wait by Susan L.

  I placed the order for the DNA test kit yesterday. Now there's nothing to do but wait: for it to arrive, for it to be returned with the cheek swab sample, for the results to come back. In the meantime, I've placed an inquiry with the local Children's Aid. They're going to get in touch with the information about who to contact if they can't help me.  
  I've not needed to know any of this stuff for fifty years although questions have arisen over the years only to be set aside. (It's always a shock when I write my age...When did that happen?) A couple of weeks is neither here nor there.
  Who am I kidding?  Hurry up already! Now the decision is made to pursue the long hidden mysteries of my birth and adoption, the answers can't come fast enough!
  Lord, I leave all of this in Your hands. Your timing is the best timing. I've done my part, help me to stand still and calm and patient. I know there is no one on this planet who knows me better than You, even better than I know myself. Thank You that You have helped me discover untold truths about my identity, the good stuff and the flaws. Thank You for Your grace and forgiveness that helps smooth the rough bits away.
  I thank You as well for my Mom and Dad who raised me from a ten day old infant, who opened their hearts and their home to a tiny scrap of a baby girl. I thank You that my own step children were welcomed as my own by their Gramma, that her love for all children surpasses the ties of blood. Thank You that I inherited from her the capacity to love two wonderful children who needed a mom in their lives.
  Lord, I thank You for the women who have brought life into this world. Bless them for the priceless gifts they give families who cannot. Bless them for their sacrifice. I am richer because of them: as a person and as a mom.
  All this I pray in Jesus Name.
  "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Sprit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Rom 8:15-17