Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Cranky Solution by Susan L.

    Normally I am a patient person. Yesterday, the reserves were pretty low. By four o'clock, when work finished, I couldn't wait to get out of there. It happens.
  The piano beckoned. It was the ideal solution so I played for a couple of hours and found myself much more relaxed. The crankies had moved on. Worship can do that for you.
   My manicured and painted nails may need trimming though. There was the occasional click as they struck the keys. The noise made me smile because it would probably make any music teacher cringe. I'd grown them for the holiday seeing as there is no way to keep them long in the summer with all the yard work. Oh, well. It's a vanity that is easy to give up. Chances are once the bitter cold rolls in they'll break anyways.
  I can't believe I am blogging about nails! Seriously? Me, who is much happier playing in the dirt and making sawdust is going all fashionista...nope, don't think so.
  There's been a thought planted that maybe once a month I could go and play for a couple of hours at the local senior's residences. That is if they have a piano. It would be after a few more practice sessions that will help with confidence and to polish up the new music. It'd be a nice way to give back to the community when I have been so richly blessed. Music is a gift meant to be shared anyways.
  I'm not sure if it could be called a New Year's Resolution because it feels more like the leading of the Holy Spirit. I've learned to listen to that still, small Voice. He's usually right.
  "Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?" Ps 113:5-6
 
 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Unbroken by Susan L.

  My friend and I went to the movies last night to see "Unbroken", the true story of a young soldier who was an Olympic gold medal winner. In WWII, he survived forty-five days at sea following a plane crash only to be rescued by the Japanese. His time in the POW camp was terrible. Following the war, the commanding officer of the camp went into hiding because he would have been tried for war crimes. He was later pardoned when the Americans and the Japanese began forging a new, peaceful relationship.
  But then both sides did horrific things to each other.
  It strikes me as odd that one man would face charges for his acts of cruelty yet the American president didn't for his orders to drop the A-bomb on Hiroshima. I guess that's what power and having an arsenal at your fingertips enables you to get away with. I'm also not sure if there has been any restitution given to the Japanese-Americans who were forcibly interred during the war, their assets seized by the government.
  I'm not saying we Canadians have such a great track record for upholding human rights. I believe we also interred Japanese-Canadians during the war. Our own treatment of aboriginal peoples is a disgrace in this day and age. The African-Americans who fled the southern states during the era of slavery weren't always greeted with open arms. The last segregated school in Canada closed in...can you believe? The 1970's.
  Probably every country in the world has some sort of skeleton in their closets. Human rights still get tromped on worldwide. It doesn't mean it is something to be accepted.
  Forgive me Lord for judging. More importantly, forgive us Lord for the harm we do to each other. Thank You that the global village has been born. Propaganda no longer has as much power. The internet, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube enable us to validate or discredit what the masses are being told by those in power. Cell phones are the sword of the age. Video's don't lie.
  There was one amazing upside to the movie. The young man, Louis, while floating in the boat prayed that the Lord would save him. He offered up a bargain. If God spared him, when he got home he would dedicate his life to serving the Lord. And he honored that bargain.
  "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with a lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering , bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph 4:1-3
 
 

Monday, 29 December 2014

Teddy Bears by Susan L.

  Every Christmas since I've lived here I've made a new teddy bear to sit on the railing by the back door. Because my decorations never made it out of the box last year, it was necessary to make two. That's pretty much all I did this weekend except for the inevitable laundry.

  They're small bears, about eight inches high, so they don't take too long to make. One has jointed arms and legs, the other hasn't. I dressed one in a knitted hat and scarf, the other in a red, knitted vest. It's hard to believe there's eight of them now.
  Whenever I make one it brings my much loved Aunt to mind, the one who also taught me to crazy quilt. She's been gone a few years now but I'm still using the plastic eyes and noses she gave me when she could no longer sew. There are a lot even when I use eyes for attaching arms and legs to the bears. There's more pink ones than I'll ever use.

  I'd made one small enough to fit in the palm of my hand years ago. He accompanied me to the hospital hiding in my pocket. I'd reach in for a bit of fuzzy comfort. He was made with a longish, faux fur and because of his tiny size, it stood out willy-nilly. He's one of the few I've actually named. "Spaz" gave me a great deal of comfort because he looked like he was having a terribly rough day. His disheveled appearance made me smile every time I looked at him in a time when smiles were scarce. He was also a great grounding tool to help me reconnect to the present when my panic attacks threatened to take over.


  He ended up being given to another woman before I left the hospital. She was having a difficult time with anxiety as well. She appreciated the gift and like me, found something about him to make her smile.
  There's something wonderfully and delightfully innocent about a teddy bear. Even now, I have a bigger one who sleeps with me. Fuzzy cuddles help ease the stress of a hard day although the bear has been mostly usurped by a rather cuddle demanding Pumpkin.
  These bears have done something else even more wonderful. Tucked into bed, teddy bear in hand, I am transformed into a child. It enables me to come before the Lord as a child, with a child's heart and soul, in awe of the One who has done so much to set me free.
  "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in the Father, and you in Me, and I in you." Jn 14:19-20
 
 
 

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Thank the Lord by Susan L.

  Spending so much time lately with my son, his wife and my grandchildren has given me a wonderful opportunity to get to know them better. My son has unknowingly taught me a lot over the last few visits: about life, about what's important and what isn't. I think I shared about the sock matching philosophy, "life's too short to worry about mismatched socks".
  Yup. So what if you're late if it means a few minutes on the couch reading a story to an interested audience. So what if making dinner is interrupted if it means a moment to cuddle on the kitchen floor. So what if beds need making, or laundry folding if it means taking a few moments as a family to sit and colour together. TV is a treat. Kindness, sharing and consideration towards each other are the most important things in a family and are firmly and lovingly enforced.
  I learned a lot. I hope it means I can be a better grandma because of it.
  I am looking forward to heading down again some time in January to help with the house again. There's much to be done before they move in and I am glad to help where I can.
  "But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred." Mk 4:8
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas Travels by Susan L.

  The fog rolled in thick and heavy Christmas Eve day. I left the centre earlier than planned to head for Sarnia after a small turkey lunch. I didn't want to be full-belly, sleepy behind the wheel. I also didn't want to be driving too long after dark especially with the fog. It was pretty close to what the British would call a pea souper. Two thirty looked like dusk. With a short prayer asking for safe travels for myself and anyone else on the road, I was on my way.
  As I drove past the wind farm, only the base of the windmills closest to the road were visible. The tips of their massive white blades appeared out of nowhere. They swept by the earth and upwards to vanish again in the clouds that nearly touched the ground. It was a fascinating sight.
  A darkening and oppressive sky gathered ahead. The clouds glowered like satan's brow must have when Christ was born. I thought it might begin to rain but it didn't. It felt like five o'clock even though it wasn't even three yet.
  The Christmas carols playing on the radio contrasted with the bleak and eerie landscapes my car and I passed through. Thankfully the sky lightened again with no rain but a sporadic, drizzling mist that meant having to constantly fiddle with the wiper blade settings. I was glad for the comfort of the music and sang merrily along except when I drove around a curve in the road or approached a turn.
  I only know by heart the first verse of most carols. Comes from playing an instrument where the other lyrics are written below the music score.
  Fog blanketed most of the route and as it grew darker, my headlights gained strength. Fantastical, mist shrouded trees, mysterious woods, and brief glimpses of stubble coated fields had an other-worldly feel. Christmas lights were often the only sign there was a house at the end of a driveway.
  Despite the weather, I was making good time and made my last zig in the zig-zagging, back roads route just as night closed in. As the fog vanished near Lake Huron, it began to rain. Hard.
  The skies lit up making me jump. The rumble of thunder drowned out the radio and the thump, thump of wiper blades on high speed. I could feel the sound in the steering wheel of the car. Half a dozen times, terrific bolts of lightning flashed over the countryside as bright as day.
  The rain fell harder.
  I was following another vehicle a good distance ahead of me, ever so thankful I was not on the road alone. Like Rudolph's nose, the red tail lights guided me. The other driver would brake just before a curve so I knew what was coming. I was also thankful it wasn't snow. At least with rain, you could still see the road and the car ahead.
  It was the strangest Christmas Eve ever...thunderstorms in December... but as I pulled into my son's driveway, safe and sound, I realized I'd do it all again just to be there.
  "The Lord bless you out of Zion, and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children's children." Ps 128:5

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Wandering by Susan L.

  I went to the local Walmart last night simply to have a walk around amidst the busy chaos of frantic shopping. A couple of movies were my only purchase. I'd wandered in and around the movie section for quite a while looking for something. What that was eluded me completely until I saw the mini-series, "The Bible" near the cash register of the electronics department. I'll save that for a movie watching marathon once the rush of Christmas is over.
  I also have a thing for corny, disaster-end-of-the-world movies. In all of them, the story line is utterly predictable: the underdog (usually American) always saves the entire human race from utter annihilation at the hands of monsters, aliens, or natural disasters. The hero is often a geeky, crackpot scientist with ridiculous ideas that end up being right. Or other heroes are outcasts who are given the opportunity to redeem themselves, even though they can never take orders and rebel against authority. They are always found in some obscure hidey-hole of a backwater town.
  I never get tired of it.
  Hold on a minute. That story line rings a bell.
  It's the same as the Story of all Stories! Minus the aliens although the Lord did battle demons didn't He? And the way He became a man makes us stretch our minds to believe in miracles that surpass the special effects of any old sci-fi, disaster movie.
  God came to earth to save us through the Holy Spirit and a young woman named Mary. She risked her life in faith and trust in the One she worshipped. Because of her willingness to rebel against the laws of her culture, she bore the Saviour of all mankind.
  Her son is the Hero above all heroes, born in a manger, who came from the most backwater town in all of the middle east: Nazareth.
  Christ went to the Cross to win the greatest good vs. evil battle of all history. He defeated death, sin, and all that would swallow mankind for all eternity... that means forever and ever and ever...wow!
  And that is what Christmas is truly about: to celebrate the birth of One who was born to die in the purest act of heroism that ever was.
  For us.
  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." Mat 1:23
 
 
 

  

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Oh, Well by Susan L.

  After finishing yesterday's post, which I realized was almost a duplicate of the day before, a little panic episode erupted. It was eleven o'clock and in a mass of confusion, I thought I was supposed to have been at work for ten thirty. After a few blood rushing, face paling moments and after studying the calendar, I realized it was Monday. Work wasn't until Tuesday.
  Then a text arrived from my son wondering if I was coming down today or tomorrow. He'd read my blog and was rather confused by it.
  I thought it was Tuesday yesterday. That comes from usually returning home on a Monday when I've been away instead of a Sunday. Yup, silly me. Messing with the routine throws the whole day off whack or in this case, the whole week!
  Today at work we'll be doing some prep work for our big Christmas dinner tomorrow at the centre. I've tucked my peeler into my purse to help with the copious amounts of spuds and carrots that need skinning. It's broken in the way I like it even though it hasn't been used all that much. Are peelers a personal item? Does everyone have their own "special way" of using them? I know I dislike using someone else's because it doesn't feel right or worse yet, having to break in a new one.
  I hope I don't get pulled over or stopped by the Ride Program, a random check where the police inspect every vehicle looking for drunk drivers. How would I explain carrying a potato peeler in my purse without a permit?
  That's enough nonsense for today.
  "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying "Know the Lord," for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Jer 31:34
 
 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Wonderful Weekend by Susan L.

  It was great to be with family over the weekend. Our Christmas celebration worked out well. We ordered in festive chicken dinners from Swiss Chalet that contained all the trimmings: cranberry sauce, stuffing and chocolates for dessert. It meant no one was tied to the kitchen. It meant cleanup was a breeze. Having it at my mom's was nice too, seeing as she is pretty much central to all my children. It meant none of us had to travel too far except the Sarnia crowd.
  The weather was good for driving. The sun actually peeked its head out from behind the clouds for a brief while. Didn't that give the spirits a lift! It's been a very gray December.
  But for me, the high point was when my grandchildren opened the Tickle Trunk.
  My grandson's first response was, "Another toy box?" accompanied by a heavy sigh.
  I'd put a couple of parcels inside, something I'd found in the States. They were costumes from one of the kids favorite TV shows, The Wild Kratz. It's an awesome, animated nature show on both PBS and TVO. The lead characters put on vests with special abilities that enable them to become the animals they are studying. They call it a creature power suit. That's what was in the parcels.
  Jai made my whole existence worth while when he said to me as he slipped on his green vest, "Wild Kratz! Nanasue, you've made my dreams come true!"
  I nearly melted into a great big, blubbery blob. Oh, who am I kidding? I did!
  Sunday we drove to Ancaster for my Uncle's ninetieth birthday. Mom organized everyone to meet at his place then we went out to a local Chinese buffet for lunch. He didn't know about it and was surprised and delighted when the family kept showing up.
  Another note to self. I'd bought a card that contained country hoedown music and a dancing chicken. My uncle jumped and nearly dropped the card when he opened it. That may not have been a good idea for someone who is elderly!
  All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. I am looking forward to going to Sarnia tomorrow after the Centre's dinner. It'll be nice to spend Christmas day with the little ones. I'll be back home on Boxing day. It's a short visit but that's okay.
  I am so incredibly grateful for the One who has enabled me to endure and overcome my challenges so I may be part of these joyful days. Amen!
  "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." Mat 2:2
 
 
 
 

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Big Day by Susan L.

  It isn't the really big day. You know, the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour.        Tomorrow we celebrate our family Christmas. It's at my mom's this year and we're ordering in chicken dinners which means no-one is chained to the kitchen. I like that idea. There's only a couple of things left to do to get ready. One of those is packing the car and a suitcase.
  I'm staying over night at my mom's because on Sunday we're heading off for lunch with my Uncle. Not so much for Christmas but to celebrate his turning ninety on Monday. That's a milestone that deserves something. It's going to be a bit of a surprise for him because all my family is coming to that as well.
  It means no blogging for a couple of days but that's okay. Family time is important.
  I've invited myself to my son's for actual Christmas. We'll have done our gift exchanging already. I simply want to be with my grandbabies.
  It's nice to be in the Christmas spirit. It's been a few years. I even put my tree up even though I won't be home. My car is dressed up with a bow too!
  Like I've said a couple of times already, it's nice to be well. That's nearly the best gift of all.
  "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel." Mat 2:6
 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Coming to Terms by Susan L.

  There was some conversation amongst the visitors at the centre. Actually, it was more of a trip down memory lane. It disturbed me that even though I was there when the events discussed took place, I have absolutely no recollection of them. In exploring the recent past, there are huge chunks that are missing.
  For me, this is the hardest part of having mental health challenges. The lost days, as I have come to call them, are simply part of my history that I'll have to come to terms with. The reasons are understandable for these missing memories. Getting through the day while struggling against depression by operating in survival mode doesn't leave much room for memories to be remembered. The powerful, all consuming, inner memory pain of PTSD swallows current events and they vanish like the mist. The teeth on that particular dog have been dulled. Praise God!
  There are snapshots recollections of events that took place during these dark days but they are almost like someone else's history. I suppose in truth they were. I am not the same woman I was.
  The memory loss could be God's way of protecting me from the worst of things. They were pretty bad at times.
  Thank You, Lord, I think I can finally let go of this now.
  Which leads me to be extremely grateful this Christmas for how well I am feeling. The biggest hunk of that is not being afraid of my own mind, that my wellness will collapse again. I realize it might in the future but I am wiser in knowing when to reach out for help. I won't wait as long as I did in the spring before conferring with my psychiatrist should another dip in mental health occur. There's a confidence that wasn't there before, a trust that I'll know what to do.
  For now, excitement has replaced anxiety. Joy and contentment have settled into my psyche like a warm and fuzzy blanket. Making music releases the good endorphins that are helping to offset the fact it's dark by five and, as I mentioned yesterday, it's a good de-stressor.
  I had my bangs coloured last week: a deep red for Christmas. For a long, long time I wanted to do something funky like this with my hair. It's funny how such a little thing can create an extra dose of confidence. It means all the reasons, the lies believed, that stopped me from doing this before don't matter any more...Thank You, Lord, for setting me free again.
  "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Jn 3:16
 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Make a Joyful lNoise by Susan L.

    I am managing to squeeze some piano time into the busy-ness of the pre-Christmas rush. It helps me de-stress in a huge way. The massive book of  600 Praise and Worship songs is a delight to play. New music always is. It's one of several books in the series under the Fake Book title. All the music is written simply with a melody line and chords for guitar. I am thankful for my organist background. Chords are a huge part of that type of music so I am able to ad lib the background accompaniment and dress up the melody line. That's the really fun part. It makes playing the piano, well, playing!
  It was rather interesting to utilize the record/playback feature on the piano. I recorded the song "Memory" from the Cats musical. It's not in the Worship book but in another Fake Book of some 1200 songs from the last sixty years that I've played over and over the last couple of decades. With a critical ear, I listened closely. There's a few things needing work on: play it slower, hit the keys softer, add more expression. It'll take some more practice for my left hand to truly develop the "piano touch".
  In the worship songs there's a lot of what's called syncopation, the dah-da, dah-da rhythm. I've always struggled to master that. Jazz beats aren't my strong point. As I was attempting to get it right I could hear my first organ teacher, Mr. Kenny, tapping his pen on the edge of the organ in a steady four count. It still helps, the constant one-two-three-FOUR patter that rings clear in my mind even though it was over forty years ago when he taught me. I am thankful he gave me a solid foundation in music fundamentals.
  There's another aspect of the piano I enjoy immensely. An organist doesn't move. No toe tapping. No upper body movement. No fancy flourishes with the hands. The only movement is fingers gliding along the keys and feet along the bass pedals. Piano? A pianist dances with the music and the instrument. It's incredibly freeing and adds a whole new and wonderful element to the playing experience.
  There's just one thing that needs to be fixed. I sawed the legs shorter on my organ bench so it would work for the piano but it really, really needs a cushy seat!
  "It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, on an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound. For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands." Ps 92:1-4
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Realtiy by Susan L.

  The gift delivery went well. They were received with much thankfulness. What both amazed and saddened me was the great disparity between the various domiciliary hostels.
  There were a couple that were running on a shoestring budget. Tired floors and walls had been decorated with just as tired Christmas bling. I am sure the staff did the best they could to make the men living with disabilities at the poorest hostel comfortable. This was where were greeted most warmly. It made me wish our small parcels had been bigger...Maybe next year the Krasman Centre will get more donations to help fulfill this hope. Lord, I lift this need to You.
  The hardest part was seeing the hopelessness in some of the residents' eyes who live in these forgotten corners of our country. A good number of the homes are at rural locations with no public transit nearby. But that's assuming the people living there could afford it. The other thing is how does someone improve their situation if they can't get to a job even if they are able to work? Many weren't.
  There were eleven drop offs. We spent maybe five minutes at each place. It's not really long enough to get a sense of what's happening. Although, there were a couple that the joy of the upcoming holiday was obvious on the few residents we met. They looked happy with their situation, both young and old. But they were living in the nicest residences.
  In the end, it made me appreciate my little home that much more. It made me appreciate the ample space I have to call my own.
  As that thought went through my head last night whispers of guilt tried to make me ashamed when there are so many living without. The Lord reminded me that I have worked hard to get all that I have. There's no shame in that. Thanks be to God that I have been able to do what was needed.
  "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Mat 7:1-2
 
 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Reconnected by Susan L.

  I went years without internet or a cell phone but when my phone decided to act up last week, it surprised me how much I missed it. It's my lifeline to the internet. Thankfully it was only the USB cord that needed replacing and not the entire phone so now I am back in business.
  And I am having a hard time concentrating this morning. Too much on the brain because my family Christmas celebration is next Saturday and there's a heap of things that need to be done.
  I work Monday all day. This year my co-worker and myself will be delivering packages to the Northern Half of York Region. Every year the Krasman Centre makes up gifts for people living in shelters and domiciles in that area. This year we made up 560 gifts with items like socks, hats, mitts and scarves (a lot donated by the Knitter's Guild), new toiletries and so forth. The majority of the recipients are men. They tend to get forgotten about. It makes me happy to be part of this opportunity to give back because our little package is often the only gift they receive.
  I haven't done the delivery run before and I am sure it will open my eyes when I see how some people live. In saying that, my heart has been filled with gratitude lately because of how rich I am in so many ways. It's not just financially although many would ask how living near the poverty line could be rich. I have ample to live on, to pay my bills, to run a car, to heat my home, to buy food, and occasionally a treat or two.
  My wealth lay in family and friends and in my job of serving others.
  My mental health has been stable now for several months. That alone is priceless. I have the physical strength to shovel my driveway even if it left me aching and tired for a couple of days! We had quite the dumping of snow this week but I can afford the Tylenol to ease those pains and have a bathtub to fill with hot water.
  Yup, my innards are all gushy thinking about all these blessings and more but I am going to close to with a thought to ponder. We are great supporters of food banks to help those in need. Thank God they are there. They serve a much needed group in our population, the 14% of Canadians who are living in abject poverty. Here's the thought: before donating that box of Kraft Dinner, remember those who would receive it rarely have the milk or butter needed to make it with.
  "I will mention the lovingkindesses of the Lord and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has bestowed on us." Is 63:7

 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Writer's Group Dec 2014 by Susan L.

Do You See What I See?

    I have some time to talk now. Most of the flock is settled in for the night and are quietly chewing their cud. You hear the ewes muttering to their babes? It’s a peaceful sound; a love sound reserved for their lambs that after all these years it still brings a smile to my face. Come; let’s sit by the fire so I can enjoy a moment of warmth before I need to check the sheep again.
  I’m not sure how much longer I can be a shepherd. Ha! The long years in all weather has me looking like an old, hairy, wineskin don’t you think? My bones and joints ache in the night from the long day’s search for better pasture. The ground seems to be getting harder.
  It’s not that there’s an alternative; my father and my father’s father before him were masters of the sheep. They died doing what they loved, free and in the open. I suppose that’s how I’ll end up. Huts are for women and little ones.
  Wool, milk and meat are all I know. I’m proud that the knowledge of generations means my breeding stock is sought after for improving other flocks.  In fact, they are descended from Jacob's sheep. But I have no idea what will become of them when I die. I have no son to inherit my flock and it’s too late now to start one. Maybe I should have thought of that sooner but life in the hills is busy and well, women are kind of scarce.
    Maybe it won’t matter. Look behind you. See that strange light in the eastern sky? Some are saying it’s a sign the world is ending. Some are saying it’s a hole that will only get bigger until nothing is left. Some are saying it’s a dagger of fire that will burn up the earth. I don’t know what to believe. It looks like a star to me even if it is the biggest one I have ever seen.
   I’m wandering...what was I saying? Oh, yes... the sheep are my family. I can tell every one of them apart. I know their voices. I know when they are hungry or thirsty. I know when the lambs will come. I know when they are afraid or in danger. Same with when they are ill. You can’t spend a lifetime around them and not know these things.
    Did you know they like music? On windy nights I play my pipe for them. Wind makes them skittery especially when they’ve been newly sheared and the air tickles their skin. How they leap about! Ewes carrying on like day old lambs! Imagine! But the songs quiet them. It helps me too, to forget how much my back aches these days.
  There was a time I could catch a ram all by myself. Those days are over. I have to let the younger men help me. Hmmm, maybe young Sol might like my flock. That’s him across the way, the big one in the middle. He has a good way about him: kind and gentle with the animals despite his size. He’s been kind to me, too.
  You know something? He’s the closest thing I have to a son. I’ve had to swallow my pride whenever he offers to help because I’ve come to realize he never offers unless I need it. I never thought I’d need a shepherd who watches over a shepherd! When you’re young, you think you’ll be young forever...
  What’s that! Sol! Zeb! Ben! You! Get down! The star has exploded behind you! Oh, Lord, oh Lord! What terrible fate do You have for us? Mercy! I cry mercy! Mercy on us all! Oh that I should live to see such things!
  “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”  (Lk 2:10-12)
  Look, it’s not the star! It’s a being of light! An angel! An angel! And another! I never imagined...they could be so beautiful...What’s that he said? A Saviour?
  Ahh! The sound! My ears have never been so blessed! It...it’s beautiful! What a gift! A thousand thousand pipes would not even compare!
  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”   (Lk 2:14)
  Sol, Zeb, everyone, they’re gone! Clear up into heaven! Did you see that? Miracles! I tell you miracles!
  Is everyone okay? Are you okay? Good!
  Quick, put the fire out! "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us!" (Lk 2:15) There’s no time to waste! Hurry! Thank you, Sol, for your arm. Let’s see how much speed is left in these ancient bones!
  The sheep? When God sends angels, I am sure He will watch our sheep for us.  They will be safe. I know it sure as I know anything.
  Ben, Zeb, go on ahead. I’ll get there as soon as I can. My friend here and Sol can help me get to Bethlehem. What? Stay behind? No way! I have to see this Saviour the angel was talking about.
************

  Oh my goodness...look at Him! Isn’t He the most Perfect, most Precious Child you ever saw? Bless the woman, Lord, to have given birth in such a lowly place only to lay this Child of God in a manger, just like the angel said we would find. The star shines brightly right over the spot where He lay! Another miracle! It’s almost as though God has His finger on the Babe.
  Sol, help me to my knees. You, come kneel beside me. All of you, on your knees. This is a Holy place and a Holy night. Praise God! Praise the Child! From angels’ mouths to mine: Glory to God in the highest!
  Silly old man, to weep this way...but for the likes of us to be invited to see the Saviour of all mankind... Would you have dared to imagine such a thing? What a gift! What a blessing! What wondrous things have begun!
  Sol, Zeb, Ben and you there, we must tell the world!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Home Safe by Susan L.

  As much as I enjoyed being away and spending time with my son and his family, it was nice to get home. Pumpkin was glad to see me as well. I managed to finish painting the living room for them on Saturday.
   We left the kids in the loving care of their other grandparents and headed off to do some Christmas/house shopping in the States on Sunday. I didn't buy much: some plush fabric for teddy bears and a couple of things for my grandchildren to go in their Tickle Trunk that we can't get in Canada.
  When the opportunity to go to a mall arises on either side of the border I always feel like such a tourist. The size, the glitter and sparkle and the overload of items for purchase is something else. There's nothing in my home town that is like it.
  I ended up coming home via the highway in order to stop by my mom's on the way home. She needed my help for a few things and wanted me to come and pick out my Christmas present. We went to Long and McQuade, a large music store, so I could have a look at an electric piano.
  Once again, my mom has given me the gift of music. Bless you, mom.
  Its narrow profile means it fits in my living room nicely. Yes, I opened it before Christmas! We wanted to make sure it fit. Or at least that's what I am telling everyone! I needed to test it out as well so it got a good hour and a half workout before my fingers started tumbling over each other.
  I'd bought a big book of worship music in the spring, some 600 songs, but hadn't had a chance to practice any of them even though I'd gone to friends' places to play their pianos. I also bought the score to Man of Lamancha when we went to see it. Play and practice are two different animals. That's a lot of music I don't know but given time, they'll soon be part of my repertoire.
  First of all comes Christmas and there's much to do: baking, making and wrapping. Ha! Who am I kidding. There's always time to make some music!
  "Indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and tanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice, with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, "For He is good, For His mercy endures forever," that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud." 2 Chr 5:13
 
 
 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Results! by Susan L.

  It was with great anticipation that I opened my email from FamilytreeDNA.com. The results from the five generation test have arrived. The results from the more detailed one are still pending but should arrive in the next week or three.
  Much to my amazement it turns out that I am 41% Scandinavian which I suppose counts for being a child blond and having blue eyes. 38% of my makeup is from Southern Europe meaning Spanish or Italian which would account for my olive complexion and terrific tanning ability. Could I add that it also might count for the fact that I am broad across the beam as well? Only 19% of me is British and there's a tiny bit of Eastern European.
  My mom told me my adoption papers said I was French, meaning Quebecois, and English. Interestingly enough is there are 65 people who share similar DNA. They are listed as second to fourth cousins and there are a large number of French surnames in that list. I haven't quite decided what I am going to do about these people. I could contact them but am not sure if that is a place I am ready to go yet. If ever.
  It's nice to have some answers. It's wonderful what medical technology can tell you whereas only a few short years ago, this kind of detailed history would have been impossible to find out.
  I'll spend some more time investigating what I've learned when I get home.
  "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 the Christ are fourteen generations." Mat 1:17

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Good Times by Susan L.

  I am going to do the Grandma thing, Nanasue actually. Last night was an opportunity for me to spend some quality time alone with my five year old grandson, Jai, and my nearly three granddaughter, Keely. We played reindeer games with Keely bringing up the rear as Santa. Her voice wasn't quite deep enough for the "Ho Ho Ho!" but I'll give her an A for effort.
  My son had left instructions on how to work the TV but neither Jai or I could get it working. Which was a good thing. We ended up pretending we were the TV and whoever had the converter was able to change the channels. I confess my newscaster's sports knowledge was not to Jai's satisfaction. The only hockey player I could remember was Darryl Sittler and he hasn't played for a long, long time! I also had Raptors battling it out against the Buffalo Bills. Yup, definitely not my strong point.
  I acted out a smooch scene from a soap opera just to see the reaction.  "OOooo, Fred, I looove you! I looove you I do!"
  With a snort of utter disgust, Jai announced quite firmly, "I'm changing the channel!"
  We played Hide 'N Seek although a constantly giggling Keely wasn't much of a challenge to find. The pair got their jammies on then opened a new Christmas book together. It is how my son counts down the advent. A new book a night. So story time, teeth brushing, tuck in songs and it was over far too quickly.
  It's great having this extended visit. I get to see more of my son and his family. We're getting quite a bit of work done at the house as well: carpets torn up, the brick fireplace primed in preparation for the living room to be painted. That's my job for the rest of the week.
  I've discovered painting brick is a very time consuming job. Especially rough brick. I spent six hours at it today and still have one side left to prime. It should only take another hour. The coats of paint should go on quicker because the primer is acting like a filler, smoothing out the surface. Note to self: use stucco.
  "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord." Ps 127:3