Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year's Eve by Susan L.

  One of the things I remember doing as a kid was figuring out what my age would be in the year 2000. It seemed so old and so far away. Imagine being an ancient thirty-four! That particular double digit has long been left behind in a blurry, flurry of years.
  Which leaves us at 2017. Gasp!
  I've been feeling sort of lost lately. Maybe because it is the season to look ahead, to plan and dream what the new year will bring. It's not something I am particularly good at, this seeing and hoping for tomorrow.
  I suppose part of it is because I've felt the keen edge of disappointment far too many times.
  Lord, help me be grateful for all the things you have brought into my life. You, for starters. Without You, I wouldn't know joy. Without You, I wouldn't know peace or hope or contentment. Without You, there would be no trust. Without You, there would be no tomorrow. Without You there would be no freedom. Without coming to know You better, I wouldn't have come to know myself as You see me, not as the world sees me. Without You, there would be no grace, no forgiveness, no understanding, no comfort in the trials of this world. Without You, I would be rudderless in a tempestuous sea.
  So maybe it isn't about hoping for tomorrow. Maybe it's about celebrating the blessing that God is present right here, right now, for today and always no matter what the future may bring.
  Here's wishing all my readers around the globe a very Happy New Year. May 2017 be filled with blessings and the richness of God each and every day.
  "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

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Carving by Susan L.

  A friend of mine gave me a set of wood carving tools that had once belonged to her father. It's something I've wanted to try for a while. The old fashioned me thinks it would be great to have a book on "Wood Carving: How To" but then the idea struck me, there's probably tons of instructional videos on the internet. They sure helped in building the garden shed.
  A couple of years ago, I made a narrow, glass topped display case that sits on top of an antique, cast iron, Singer treadle sewing machine base. Doubling as a hall table, it shows off some simple treasures gathered at beaches and various other places I've travelled. It is predominantly sea shells from Florida and points abroad. It also displays the odd fossil and bits of sea glass collected along Georgian Bay here in Ontario.
  It seemed a shame to have them hidden away which is why I built what basically amounts to a box. The glass top is pieces taken from inexpensive frames. It's a bit thin so once the new one is built, I'll get a glass company to cut me a thicker, safer top exactly the size needed.
  The existing case is a bit rustic to put it kindly and was patched together using salvaged wood. I've been mulling over the idea to make a shallow, four drawer cabinet with a glass top. If it's built right, the drawers will be interchangeable so the displays can be switched around.
  This is where the wood carving comes in. It would be lovely to ornament the sides and drawer fronts with hand carved details. I'm thinking scallop shells in a repeat pattern. Prefabricated rope trim would set that off nicely, too, creating a nautical theme for nautical treasures.
  Part of my vague plan is to interlock the drawer joints so they are stronger and look nice. It's another skill that may take a bit of practice to master.
  It's a good thing there's plenty of graph paper floating around to sketch out plans and thoughts on how to go about this project. There's plenty of bits of scrap wood to practice on, too.
  Working with wood has always been a great pleasure of mine from the time my brother and I used to build boats using my dad's scrap pile and copious amounts of nails. It also helps me connect with another Carpenter who lived long ago.
  "And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things" And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His Hands!"" Mat 6:2

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Freezing Rain by Susan L.

 It might be prudent to pick up a can of gas for the ole generator today. Right now there's only rain falling but if the temperature drops, it could turn nasty. So far nothing is sticking to the trees except an inch or so of snow under the ice so hopefully this storm will blow over before it gets overly nasty.
 The snow plow went past a while ago. It might also be prudent to shovel the pile off of the end of the driveway before it freezes as well or I could end up battling it all winter if it doesn't melt. It's bound to be heavy, full of water. Oh, joy. And a southern Ontario winter begins. At least it's late this year.
  I could use the exercise anyways to try and burn off some of the turkey dinners and sweets so abundant this time of year. May as well turn this into a positive. It won't be the last time the shovel needs to be tested out!
  There was an opportunity to take care of some work related reading before Christmas: riveting literature in the form of work's Policies and Procedures as well as the Staff Manual. It had been a while. So, apparently I am not supposed to blog about work without prior approval from our executive director because of our confidentiality policies.
  It's something I need to discuss with my boss. I know I've been very careful not to name names or give away anything personal about others. Gossip is despicable.
  Until I get some clarification, it's best to be quiet about what's happening.
  "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being." 1 Cor 10:23-24

Monday, 28 December 2015

Reflections in the Window by Susan L.

  The last few days were challenging. Noise, busy-ness, and being away from home have left me feeling a bit stretched and on edge. I hope, by next weekend, when I head to my son's for our Christmas, everything will have settled down.
  I met my folks at a mall yesterday to exchange some clothes mom had given me. It's a huge shopping centre that I hadn't been to in over twenty years. Now it looks like every other mall I've ever been in. Arriving early, it gave me time to walk around both levels simply to check things out. Shopping is not one of my favorite pastimes.
  Everywhere was busy with people catching the post-Christmas sales. Signs were posted everywhere: 40%, 50%, 70% OFF! BUY ONE GET ONE FREE! BUY TWO, GET ONE FREE! SALE!SALE!SALE!
  I was content to simply peek in and it felt good to stretch my legs after all the feasting.
  Sitting down and sipping a cup of coffee was a great opportunity to people watch. (Thank You, Lord, I had the money for it.) It's hard to watch others without judging. Most of the crowd, an incredible blend of nationalities, seemed prosperous. Only God knows the truth.
   Part of me was doing some bean counting and thinking that a fraction of the money spent by shoppers in North America over the Christmas holiday could wipe out poverty in our countries.
  Not that I have done anything much about it myself. You know what they say, every finger pointed at someone else has three pointing back.
  Lord, forgive me for not having done more. Help me learn to give willingly and generously of my time and money. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always." Mat 26:11

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Break by Susan L.

Here's Wishing Everyone a Very, Merry Christmas!
May your roads be straight and your travels light.
May the blessings of the season be yours throughout the year!
Best Wishes,

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Good Company, Good Food by Susan L.

  Our feast yesterday went off without a hitch. It was wonderful to see so many gathered around the table enjoying the fruits, well, vegetables and turkey and pumpkin pie, of our labour. It was one of the most relaxing meals I'd ever done because so much was done ahead of time. Even though there were two cooks in the kitchen, we managed to each find our niche and split both cooking and cleanup right down the middle without much debate as who was going to do what.
  We had a small discussion about how many green beans to cook and ended up taking a bunch out of the pot and tossing them back in the freezer for another day. It made me smile when the meal was done because there was exactly one serving left. It used to be a standing joke that whenever I cooked, even if there were unexpected guests, there was always one portion left. I called it my unseen boarder's. There was one serving of carrots and one serving of stuffing left as well. Which is pretty good considering we never know how many to expect.
  It was truly a blessing to bless others which is really what the Christmas season is all about after all.
  "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

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Turkey Challenges by Susan L.

  It wouldn't surprise me if I am not alone in trying to rush the turkey thaw in this Christmas season of feasting and festivities. Leaving the four kilogram turkey in the fridge to thaw (most recommended) yielded a fully frozen turkey after twenty-four hours. It quickly found a place in the sink overnight.
  It may be a comment on having inadequate insulation under the sink but as of this morning it was still almost solid.
  Plan C. Fill the sink with water. Submerse stubborn bird.
  It seems to be working.
  I had forgotten how long it takes to thaw such a big bird!
  One year, we raised our own on the farm. Being inexperienced, we had no idea how big they were under their feathers. We ended up with the largest because no one else wanted it: a whopping twenty kilogram monster. It took placing my cast iron frying pan under the oven rack to support the beast.
  Another year the oven quit working. It was the first time I'd ever barbequed a turkey. My oh my, the flavor was delicious. After that, I gave up on roasting it in the oven.
  Cooking the centre piece for the feast can be a huge stressor! Lord, bless the cooks with patience and success. Help all of us remember that it isn't about the meal, it's about the reason behind it!
  "And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." Lk 2:12


Friday, 18 December 2015

Ninth Christmas by Susan L.

   Besides the tree and hanging a few bells from door knobs I've a small collection of snow men and nut crackers set out. Every Christmas I add a teddy bear to a row of teddy bears. They sit at the base of the railing surrounding steps down to the back door and basement. It's hard to believe there are nine all lined up.
  None of them are very big. This one is only about eight inches tall. The head, arms and legs are jointed. My aunt left me a legacy of jars of safety eyes and noses. I've used the bigger ones to attach heads and limbs on many bears over the years. Not just the Christmas ones..
   This year's bear was made from a pattern found on the internet. My favorite teddy bear book seems to have disappeared. The only adjustment needed was enlarging the pattern for the soles of her corduroy feet. Her ears are too small so if I make this pattern again, I'll enlarge them as well. I sort of messed up on the embroidered nose but the huge feet make me smile.
  I like to dress them for Christmas and was tempted to make a set of bunny slippers by enlarging the foot pattern but couldn't find any pink fleece in the house. I swore I had some somewhere! Instead, she gets a poncho to keep her warm.
  I also hang on to old, flat, beaten down pillows. After washing them, the filling goes a long way when it is pulled apart and fluffed up.
  I'm still trying to wrap my head around nine years! Wow.
  And the old lady says, "Where has the time gone?"
  "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Mat 18:4

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Keeping It Real by Susan L.

  It's a lovely morning for December. The sun is shining. The temperatures are well above freezing. Everything is clean and fresh after yesterday's gentle rain. The lawn and pared back flower beds have a sparkle where the sun penetrates past the empty branches of sleeping giants. The twisted shadows of the ancient apple tree mark the grass with dark green zebra stripes.
  There's a huge flock of sea gulls riding the thermals above my house. With barely a wing flap, they circle and climb then lazily drift down to catch the next air elevator up. Their white feathers are glistening against a blue sky punctuated with a few, high and fluffy clouds.
  It has me wondering where they are heading with such a unity of purpose. It has me wondering how much fun it would be to be up there, soaring, at one with the wind.
  There's a raven in the distance uttering a deep croak that echoes through the valley.
  Everything feels right with the world on a morning like this. Even if Pumpkin is merrily knocking ornaments off the lower branches of my Christmas tree!
  "The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them." Ps 89:11

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Prayer Request by Susan L.

  There's a man in my community and I suppose there are similar people, men or women, in villages, towns and cities everywhere. He's an angry man, brought up in violence and cruelty. He's a big man. A bully. He's known to police because his temper has gotten him into a lot of trouble over the years. I am pretty sure drugs or alcohol have played a part.
  I was going to say he enjoys intimidating others but only God knows what truly lay in his heart. Perhaps deep down is a wounded little boy who is so afraid he lashes out at others. Perhaps self medicating is how he thinks he will find peace from the monsters that nip at his heels.
  He seeks out altercations. Anything seemingly inconsequential can justify an explosion of temper.  
  He can be terrifying.
  His name is Dave...David. A king's name.
  I am asking for help in praying for him and others like him the world over. I am asking my readers to stand in agreement with me.
  If anyone needs to know God's love, it is these lost and bitter souls. I pray that this Christmas, Dave, and others like him, will be drawn to a church, that he, she, or they, will hunger for something more, something better than the hate which consumes them. I pray a quest to find peace will land him, them, with people unafraid to share the gospel. I pray for an outpouring of love and grace and that all the good things of this world will help them shake off their shackles. In the authority of Jesus, I bind and silence the powers and principalities determined to destroy these lives. I ask for a hedge of protection around those who have taken a stand in love for these people. In Jesus' most precious name. Amen.
  "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." Mat 18:19-20

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Prayers by Susan L.

  Whenever I hear the sound of sirens, of emergency vehicles rushing to points unknown, it brings a prayer to my lips. Prayers for those who on the receiving end of the fire trucks, ambulance or police. Prayers for the first responders. Prayers for the medical team: doctors, nurses or whoever else may be needed.
  The last few times I've been driving at night, there's been someone wanting to open my car's trunk. They follow so close that their headlights aren't visible in my rear view mirror. In a country with deer who have a habit of leaping onto the road, it's a dangerous practice. Especially where the speed limit is higher. There's no time for the person following to stop should I need to brake suddenly.
  I lift them up once again to You, Lord, that they may come to know You. Keep them safe. Keep the other drivers safe as well. Help everyone behind the wheel find patience. Help all drivers, myself included, not be distracted by to-do's or destinations.
  Thank You, Lord, for being there for us. Thank You, that these small prayers will be heard. Thank You for this season of celebration. Help us not forget the true meaning of Christmas. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "Then the angel said to them, "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 Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Lk 2:10-11

Monday, 14 December 2015

Small Talk by Susan L.

  Part of growth is recognizing the areas we need to grow in. Most of it is being willing to change.
  Saturday's worship team Christmas party made me realize I am socially awkward. I don't do well at parties. They are anxiety filled events and far outside my comfort zone.
  I am painfully shy in face to face encounters with people I don't know very well. Unless it's a public speaking opportunity but that comes without the need to connect on a personal level. They also have plenty of time to prepare for; to write and rewrite exactly what is going to be shared.
  Parties mean speaking off the cuff. That's when my tongue gets tied. More often than not my foot ends up fully lodged in my lungs, never mind just a mouth!
  I admire people who are at ease in these situations, who have the gift of connecting with others. Perhaps there's even a bit of jealousy. No, jealousy is the wrong word. It's more of a longing to be at ease with people. Given my history, it's not surprising that I am not at ease with others. It's left me rather sad about it all.
  It would be so easy to decline going to these events but in the long run, it would only amplify my challenges. Avoidance only adds fuel to the fire.
  How can I grow beyond these difficulties? Silly question. Look to and lean on the Lord! Moses did and look what that brought about! God's people were freed from slavery despite his discomfort in speaking to Pharaoh.
  Help me Lord, be better than I am. Help me trust where trust is warranted. Help me remember names. In Jesus' name, amen.
  "Then Moses said to the Lord, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." So the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you will say." Ex 4:10-12

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Mission Accomplished by Susan L.

  The last of the gifts at the centre were gathered and wrapped yesterday. Many hands helped to make this happen. The Door Youth Centre wrapped over two hundred for us. The rest were finished off by our own staff and visitors who cherish this opportunity to give something back.
  This year there are over five hundred packages going out to people living in domiciliary hostels within our region. The numbers have gone down over previous years because some of these group homes have changed or are no longer in existence.
  We had a small, community interest story on the local news station last week about our Christmas project. There was a flurry of donations following the broadcast which were greatly appreciated.
  The community of knitters in this small town are most generous as well. Home made hats, scarves, mitts, and socks by the hundreds were lovingly donated for our cause. There's one group of knitters who prepare over 7000 knitted items for various charities. Like Santa's elves, they must start preparing for next Christmas on Boxing Day!
  I give my boss credit. She's the one who organizes all of this: keeping track of gender, numbers, locations for delivery, making sure we have enough, shopping where needed, making sure we have sufficient tape and wrapping's a huge job on top of all her other responsibilities. I know she does a lot of this on her own time. God bless her.
  God bless everyone who makes this gift drive a part of their Christmas.
  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Mat 6:19-21

Friday, 11 December 2015

Comfort and Confidence by Susan L.

  So far most of the music for worship team has been lower notes or ones that my rusty face muscles have been able to play. One of the songs for Sunday has a lovely counter melody in the upper limits of the flute. It's in my physical upper limits as well.
  I had to stand up, needing my core and diaphragm muscles to support the air going out. It's as good a workout as doing sit ups but way more fun!
  We practiced this challenging song a couple of times last night. By the time we'd finished, my jaw, tongue, neck and throat muscles were aching. It's a fine example of muscle memory kicking in, albeit out of shape muscles. Playing the high notes involves dropping the tongue at the back of the throat so the air can flow out in a channeled, steady rate. (Vocalists have to do the same thing.) It takes everything from lips to Adam's apple to do that particular move. It's necessary because it also helps stop the notes from wheezing as they are played. That's where the aches came in. It's been longer than I care to remember!
  Still, things are coming along nicely. I am able to play longer without gasping for air. The flute's tone has improved and so has my ear. That means I can hear when it is out of tune and can make adjustments quicker so it compliments the rest of the team instead of sounding like nails on a chalkboard.
  As I was leaving, I had a chance to chat with the bass player. He was delighted to hear how much enjoyment playing is bringing me. The best part is making music in a group. Playing in the team has reminded me just how special that is.
  Maybe it's because we have a unity of purpose. Maybe because it's an opportunity to create something beautiful. Or maybe it's simply because playing is an opportunity to thank God for our gifts, to give something back.
  "Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples." Ps 96:1-4

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

O-Oh, Overwhelm by Susan L.

  So trying to organize myself and all the to-dos. For some reason it's been hard to keep track of the date. We are only in the second week of December? It didn't help that I had to write out my Christmas check/shop list twice. I have no idea where the first one went! The second was on bright orange construction paper guaranteed not to be lost. Let it go, Sue, you know what you need. It's on the list!
  Getting the music for the Christmas service as well as for Sunday has created a bit of a tither. Yes, it's all organized but trying to keep it all straight in my head isn't working out so well. Let it go, Sue, you've got it all together in the binder where it matters.
  Christmas parties. Yes, the worship team's is this Saturday not next Saturday. It's a good thing, Sue, you didn't delete all the emails! Let it go, you have everything you need.
  The truffle boxes are made. It's one of the residual skills from college that has come in handy over the years. All that is left to do is pack them full of sweet treats and seal them with ribbon. Let it go, Sue, until Saturday when you are getting a plate together to take to the party. They can be filled at the same time.
  It's my turn to cook lunch for the centre tomorrow. The chickens are being cooked ahead of time. It's nothing to throw together a curry and rice. Let it go, Sue, you know what you need to take. You know how to make a decent, sweet curry.
  Stop stressing about doing the Christmas dinner. It's two weeks away and most of the stuff is done already. Let it go, Sue.
  The fish tank needs cleaning. Stop procrastinating, Sue, it only adds stress.
  The Christmas tree needs setting up. Clean the tank first, Sue. The tree won't take half as long as that!
  Help me, Lord, find joy in all I do over the next little while. Help me honour You in all that I do. Help me stay focused. Help me not get anxious over all the "stuff". Help me remember what Christmas is really all about: the greatest Gift ever! Amen!
  "Now, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "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 2:1-2

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The God of Little Things by Susan L.

  A recent task has been helping to clear out a workshop for a widowed friend of mine. It's the kind of shop that has had decades to accumulate bits and bobs and thingamajigs. Any farmer knows you just might need that piece of metal or length of chain at some point. Most of the rusty metal stuff is destined for the scrap man to come and pick up at some point.
  I've been given carte blanche to be ruthless.
  There was one piece of metal that's been investigated and pondered upon even before the clean out began. It's basically a hollow rectangle with a tongue sticking out on the outside. It looked old but I had no idea what it was for. It's the only bit of metal that, several times, has been tossed into a bag then pulled it out. Although I had no idea why I was saving it.
  There are half a dozen big, old wooden clamps hanging up. If someone wanted to make a harvest table or butcher's block they'd be perfect. They are made of smooth two by fours about three or four feet long. The varnish has a honey coloured patina that only comes with age. They have a wheeled tightener at one end and a free moving metal piece at the other. This slides into a groove to hold it firm. As I looked at them yesterday, one of them had a piece missing. Yup, it was the mystery rectangle that belonged to it.
  In a bit of a panic, I began rooting though the bags of scrap, sure it had been thrown it out. To no avail. I ended up discovering it on a window sill where it had been set neatly aside. A huge smile filled my face. No one but the Lord would have made this happen.
  Our God is the God of lost keys (found), misplaced glasses (on our head), and helping us remember what we went to the grocery store for (oh, yah, cat food). Our God is the God of every single aspect of our lives both big and small.
  "For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold form those who walk uprightly. Or Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in You!" Ps 84:11-12

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Cat Trauma by Susan L.

  I built a gravity feeder for Pumpkin a while ago. It's basically a tall box painted to look like an apartment building. It holds a two kilogram bag of dry cat food perfectly. That was not intentional it sort of happened that way. Which is great because cupboard space in my tiny house is at a premium. It doesn't work that well, though, even with an angled piece of wood inside at the back to channel the food forward and out the bottom. It takes a prod with a finger each morning to get enough food to drop into the eating tray.
  This morning Pumpkin joyfully tucked his face into breakfast as I picked up his water bowl to fill it with fresh water. It's a rather heavy, glazed ceramic pet bowl that is guaranteed not to tip. The three quarters filled bowl leapt out of my hand just as I turned to pour it into the sink. Pumpkin fled in terror as the bang and explosion of wet covered him, the chairs, the wall, the floor, the cabinets!
  Poor fellow.
  Once the water was mopped up, it took a fair bit of affectionate coaxing and reassurance to get him to return to breakfast. He warily eyed his water dish as he crunched his way through a couple pieces.
  It makes me a bit reluctant to make the black currant jam on my agenda this morning. The berries are waiting in the freezer and I need to make space for Christmas chocolate truffles. I can only pray that a pot full of hot jam doesn't end up a victim of gravity. That'd be a terrible mess to clean up!
  Oh, well. What will be will be. I'll simply proceed with extreme caution.
  "Though the fig tee may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labour of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; Thought the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls--Yet I will rejoice in the lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." Hab 3:17-18


Friday, 4 December 2015

Friendships by Susan L.

  Yesterday I shared about the women at the centre. It wasn't my intention to exclude the women I am slowly getting to know at church. It's a slow process because there hasn't been the time it takes to forge friendships. It takes time to get to know someone. It takes time to find out if they are trustworthy.
  Not everyone is.
  Even people who go to church sometimes have a hard time keeping confidences. That malicious spirit "gossip" is a hard one to tame or banish outright as it should be. It's one nasty beast that is easy to enable especially if one listens to gossip without stopping it. Forgive me, Lord, I am guilty of that. Help me be firm in my boundaries. Help me act in love towards those who embrace gossip. Help me show them the path of damage words can leave behind.
  Mostly I am a private person and find it hard to share with others.
  I just had a bit of a chuckle. My blog of inner musings is read around the world! (Somehow it isn't the same as speaking face to face.)
  Meanwhile, I will place my trust in the Lord that He will bring good and Godly women into my life. 
  "Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Mat 15:10-11

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Runaway Brain by Susan L.

 There's a total blank this morning about what to write about. The fingers are resting on the keyboard, the mind is seeking. Snatches of worship music are the only cognitive output of the ole gray matter. Which isn't such a bad thing. It's musical prayer and a rather lovely way to start the day. It sure beats worrying.
  Not that I am worried but some mornings terrible thoughts of catastrophes flicker through my head before I take back control. They mostly emerge in that brief moment between sleep and awake. Rather graphic, gruesome musings on car accidents, house fires, or even broken limbs sometimes catch me off guard. It only takes a shake of the head and these dark daydreams vanish. It's all a bit morbid really.
  They aren't as unsettling as nightmares though which is a bit odd. These random horror flicks seem to be disconnected from emotions.
  I have no idea if anyone else has a mind that visits calamity or if it's something we humans do. Are they a result of unexpressed fears? Or perhaps it's the devil trying to stir the pot because he loves to use our fears against us.
  We need to be on guard. Our heads need to be a mental fortress. Our eyes, like angel eyes, need to stay focused on the face of our Lord. We need God's Word to be on the tip of our tongues. The Book of Ephesians says it all. God's armor is a beautiful raiment.
  "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, form whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with the might through His Spirit in the inner man." Eph 3:14-15

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

In the Company of Women by Susan L.

  We have a wonderful young man, a student, doing his internship with us at the centre. Often he is the only man there. He grew up with three or four sisters so he feels right at home with us women. Nothing fazes him even when we get laughing and chatting about the effects of age, gravity and hormones.
  It's made me aware of just how incredibly valuable my women friends are. Watching the student interact, and he is a natural at drawing people out of themselves, has driven home just how special, how unique each of them are.
  I am truly blessed by having them in my life. I am truly blessed to have the centre as well. It creates an environment of openness and honesty, where the trappings of "society" can be laid aside. Roles and rules and expectations have no place. Instead, the truth of who we are can shine and be embraced by others. It's a place where our faults and sharp edges are gradually smoothed away by love and acceptance.
  Every time I go there, I find a gathering of women who come together and nurture each other by sharing a tear or a joke or a recipe. Challenges find themselves not so challenging. Successes are much sweeter when joy is shared. We celebrate our children and grandchildren or share our concerns for them as they, too, find their way in life.
  I was a long time without friends. Isolation is a weapon of control. I finally understand why. Friends are people we can draw strength from when our own is failing. Friends can help us see the truth in our circumstances. Friends provide a haven in the midst of a hard and often cruel world.
  We were never meant to go it alone.
  Thank You, Lord, for bringing these women into my life and this young man as well! His gentle manner has done much to heal my own wounds.
  "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 wit one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph 4:1-3

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Discernment by Susan L.

  I slept in this morning. Must've needed it.
  Seeing as it is becoming a busy season, it wouldn't hurt to miss blogging a few days here and there. When I first started posting every day, it was a challenge to allow myself even one day off a week. It left me feeling guilty for not living up to the standard I'd set for myself. Hmm, that smacks of pride.
  Thank You, Lord, that we live in a place where we can freely celebrate the gift of Your Son. Thank You, Lord for what that means. Thank You, that through Him we can know You.
  Lord, I ask for Your gift of discernment. Help me choose wisely about the blog. Let me be sensitive to Your leading.
  I can feel the little fingers of overwhelm niggling at my brain. Help sustain me through this busy season so I don't get overwhelmed. Help me choose what must be done versus what I feel must be done.
  Lord, let this be a prayer for everyone. Help all of us who get swept up in the chaos of the season to find time to be with You. Help us get adequate rest. Help us enjoy whatever it is we are doing. Help us lay aside perfection and performance.
  May the month of December bring many blessings and celebrations.
  In Jesus' Name, Amen.
  "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Mat 1:21

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Postponed by Susan L.

  My lower back got strained earlier this week so it's been a week of gingerly sitting and just as gingerly standing up. Give me a headache any day over a sore back! It interferes with absolutely everything I wanted to do. There must be a brain/back connection that makes concentrating difficult when pain gets involved. Therefore my word studies are postponed until I can sit for any length of time.
  It's happened before but this is the longest it has lasted. The timing, at least according to my schedule, stinks. Church had their Christmas dinner last night but I opted not to go. After working yesterday, it seemed unwise to push things too much. Rest, rest and more rest wherever possible is the priority.
  I am going to a 70th birthday party tonight for a good and dear friend. I may not stay long but definitely need to make an appearance. At least there aren't any other demands on my day except for gift wrapping and maybe a hot bath to loosen the spasms of angry muscles.
  That's it for today. I pray things improve quickly.
  "And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."" Mat 8:5

Friday, 27 November 2015

Whirlwind by Susan L.

  It's not just the season but it's in my head as well. Question upon question, a thirst for knowledge and wisdom. Those two are separate. We can know all sorts of things but it doesn't necessarily make us wise. 
  The word "mystery" has been rolling around the gray matter for a few days now. It's a word worth checking out in scriptures.
  So has "love". I started doing a word study on love when I first became a Christian at the suggestion of the woman who led me to the Lord. She told me I needed to read these verses over and over until I got what love truly meant. At the time I could only discover, based on my experiences, what love was not. I quit reading because it only made me very sad and stirred up a whole whack of crappy memories I was ill equipped to deal with.
  This was before I went swimming in the black river, the place of madness and despair, where those crappy experiences threatened to drown me.
  There is a good part of me that is afraid to love. Experience has proven love means loss, abandonment, being cast aside and forgotten. Human love is selfish, demanding and devouring. (Gee, that sounds a tad bitter. I'm not because I am free now to discover the truth of Love.)
  Forgive me, Lord, for believing these lies. (Even as I typed them out, I could hear they weren't true.) Forgive me for my expectations of others as to how they should love me especially since I thought I was unworthy of love. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! Forgive me for having been selfish and demanding of Your creations. Thank You, that You will bring me into a place of understanding.
  It's time to move on and into a deeper awareness of Divine Love.
  "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." Jn 15:9

Thursday, 26 November 2015

In the Spirit by Susan L.

  The Christmas spirit that is. It began to bubble up late last week when a small snowfall created a winter wonderland in the yard. Even the clothesline became a thing of beauty.
  We had our work "Holiday Party" last night. We're treated to dinner at a really nice restaurant. We do the gift lottery. It's where you're given a choice to open a gift or take something that someone else has already opened. There is much laughter and grace and groans as the odd exceptionally wonderful gift gets stolen more than once.
  I opted to take someone else's gift of a garden gnome. I think he was a bit relieved because not everyone wants a garden gnome. It's something that has been on my wish list for a while but hadn't found one that was to my taste. Every garden should have one. Only one. More than that it can become, well, tacky. Although there are people out there who think even one is tacky. Yup, and corny and whimsical and silly and fun.
  I think my secret desire for a gnome was instilled in a trip to BC many years ago. My mom and I went to this house that was built without any straight lines. The roof curved in sweeping lines, the doors and windows were round. It was a true to life Smurf house. The gardens were spectacular. Throughout the grounds they had tastefully planted garden gnomes in various sizes and shapes. Next to the fairy tale house, they fit right in.
  I don't have any thing as elaborate as that but I do have a miniature wishing well that is begging for a gnome to sit beside it.
  It's nice to see the other people from the Richmond Hill centre, the employees who work in various other divisions of the Krasman organization as well as the board of directors. There are a quiet a few people I met while doing my training so it's nice to reconnect.
  We are starting to get organized for our gift assembly and production. We put together well over 600 gifts for people living in shelters and domiciliary hostels. They are small gifts of hats, scarves, or socks and personal toiletry items. Thankfully we have plenty of hands to help. Staff and visitors alike look forward to giving something back to the community.
  Isn't that what Christmas is all about anyways?
  "And she (Mary) will bring for a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus for He will save His people from their sins." Mat 1:19

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Answers and Affirmations by Susan L.

  There's an amazing Christian web site called that has proved to be an invaluable resource in my quest for truth. I sort of stumbled across it yesterday but had its validity confirmed by one of the leaders of my Bible study group. One of the nice things about this web site is they back up every statement with God's word. With a touch of a finger or click of a mouse, you can read the verse for yourself. Makes it a lot easier than flipping through the Bible although I did that anyways. Like I said, I like the feel of paper. My study Bible also enables following the cross references that connect similar verses as well.
  I think of the worship team setting up the sound system on Sunday. "Check! Check! Check!"
  What am I looking for?
  Several things actually. Firstly I wanted to confirm what was learned during my two word studies was correct. I am not sure if that means I don't trust the Holy Spirit to lead me into truth or maybe it's prudent because there are other forces out there able to mimic him. We must be diligent. If something doesn't completely line up with the Word, it's not of God.
  The second range of questions were regarding matters of faith, giftings and the Holy Spirit. I suppose many of my questions are ones new followers of Christ might ask but right now I need to test, affirm and anchor what I believe both prayerfully and with God's Word.
  Mission accomplished.
  Which has me thinking about compromise. It's so much a part of our society. Union negotiations, law suits, and even governments are all too familiar with it. Sadly, there are organized religions which lay that welcome mat out as well. I think of the Church in Toronto that has an atheist as their minister. What?! Most of the congregation is elderly and because they've been attending the same church for decades, don't want to move. (Lord, I lift them up to You. Help them move away from their compromising attitude.) Jesus speaks to these churches in the Book of Revelation.
  With ISIS as a threat to Christians everywhere, we cannot afford to compromise or dilute our faith but must stand strong. We cannot be seduced by the need to be accepting. Welcoming, yes. Accepting, no. Which also means a willingness to witness to them.
  Lord, let me be a fanatic of love and grace and keep filling me with a hunger for Your truth. In Jesus' name, amen.
  "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16-17

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Knock, KInock by Susan L.

  There's one thing about Sunday sermons. They sure challenge you to think about things. Lord, bless the pastors who take on the difficult job of teaching. The next few sermons are going to be on the prayer of Jabez. That isn't what's got me...You know something? This isn't something I should be blogging about. This is something I need to speak with the pastor about first.
  There's a few things I need to speak to a pastor about.
  Lord, I pray for Your truth to be clear. I pray for Your direction and wisdom and insight. I pray for discernment in my quest for truth. I pray for transparency and the right words. Help me approach the pastor with humility and respect as You have called us to do. Thank You that You are so much a part of my life. Help me become better than I am. In Jesus' name, Amen.
  "Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord." Ps 107:43

Saturday, 21 November 2015

More Questions by Susan L.

  It helps to let things simmer on the back burner for a while without consciously thinking about them. I woke this morning pondering the Lord's Prayer. As I mentioned yesterday, it is a prayer without the commanded "in Jesus' name". Which leaves me wondering about its purpose.
  We were given this prayer before Jesus was led to the cross. Was saying the Lord's prayer actually taking on the role of intercessor so that everything God knew was going to happen to His Son would come true? Which probably isn't right because God is Divine. Nothing stops His plans. But, then again, perhaps the prayer was said to help put things in place so Christ could do what He needed to do. Yes, He is divine but He was also very much a man. I think of His prayers in Gesthemene when He asked His Father to take the cup from His lips but then surrendered to God's will for His life.
  Could our collective "Your will be done" have helped Him save the world?
  Jesus and His followers were Jewish. The Lord's Prayer would have been a type of prayer they were comfortable with. Jesus withheld the bit about praying in His name until after He began to speak about His coming death, His resurrection and had tested the disciples' beliefs about who He truly is.
  Yes, I know that neither God nor Christ really need our prayers but there are a few times where Jesus calls us to help even when His divinity was more than sufficient. I know I've mentioned I previous posts about when Lazarus rose from the dead and Jesus asked the gathered people to remove his grave cloths. He also asked the disciples to pray when He was in Gesthemene wrestling with His choices.
  The idea of a parent baking cookies and getting their child to help popped up. They don't need help, but it's a way of building a relationship, fostering knowledge and validating the child.
  This is a lot to think about but it has left me wanting to know more.
  "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you." Jn 15:15-16

Friday, 20 November 2015

Prayer Study by Susan L.

  Both yesterday's post on angels and today's post on prayers are topics that an entire lifetime could be devoted to. My little investigation only scratches the surface. As I noted yesterday as well, the only scriptures looked up so far are those in red, meaning when Jesus is speaking. Still, Jesus mentioned prayer (pray, prayest, praying) in at least 43 passages in the King James version.
  I think the most important fact is that prayers are for developing unity with God so that we dwell in Christ and Christ in us. Prayers are a way of surrendering our will just as Jesus did in Gesthemene.
  Prayer should happen all the time, not just on Sunday mornings or before bed. That's a tall order but when we think about it, prayers protect us from temptation and the works of the devil. They help us in overcoming our daily challenges because we can petition God, through Jesus, for help, for mercy, to smooth the waters. We have to believe in what we are praying for.
  What's the old joke? A man constantly prays to God for years to let him win the lottery. Finally, God answers him in a loud, but frustrated, booming voice, "Buy a ticket!!" We can be specific when we ask for things. It doesn't mean they will be answered because God knows what is truly best for us.
  There are different types of prayers. There are those done on our own in quiet conversation with the Lord as we are commanded (as opposed to putting on a show about it.) Even Jesus went to the top of a mountain to be alone to pray to His Father.
  There are prayers of intercession where we draw a verbal sword against the works of the devil. Praying can be done in groups because when we stand of one accord in our prayers, Jesus is right there. Our group prayers will be answered. (I think that relates back to believing in what we are praying for.)
  Prayers, sometimes accompanied by fasting, are weapon for casting out demons. I know this isn't talked about much but if we believe in angels...sadly, satan really does have his minions whose sole purpose is to destroy us.
  Jesus' prayers blessed us with our Helper, the Holy Spirit. I think it is important to allow ourselves to be governed by His wisdom. This is especially important when it comes to what we pray about or pray for when it comes to drawing the verbal sword of intercession (where we pray for others on their behalf.) That is a personal observation from my own experiences.
  John 20:23 is Christ's prayer for the oneness of all believers. He must weep at the harm the different Christian factions do to each other and themselves. Jesus says that we must pray after we have forgiven others so that we ourselves may know the forgiveness of God. I am thankful we can also pray for our enemies because it is an expression of grace.
  All prayer, no matter if it's done on a mountaintop or if we gather together of one accord, must be asked for in Jesus' name. He is the intercessor, the mediator, between God and mortal.
  But most of all, the model prayer should be one we constantly pray. It covers everything I've mentioned.
  "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen." Mat 6:9-13
  (This doesn't mention "In Jesus' Name" but I am thinking that Jesus gave us this prayer before He rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of God the Father. Hmm, much to think about.)

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Angel Study by Susan L.

  I sat down for several hours yesterday combing the scriptures in a serious quest to learn more of angels and prayer. My reference Bible is a large King James tome and represents a lifetime of work with its incredibly detailed notes and footnotes. There were several hundred entries listed in my accompanying Strong's concordance for those two words so I decided to simply look up those highlighted as coming from Jesus' mouth. I also used a plain, old, but ancient dictionary picked up years ago at a yard sale. There's something satisfying about turning pages in a book.
  Here's what I discovered:
  Angels belong to God. They are pure. They have emotions. They can be dressed in white. There are legions of them in Heaven where they reside. They always look to God and can see His face. They are holy. They are not the same as the heavenly host.
  There's more but at one point I broke out in laughter that must've lasted a good ten minutes or so. For some reason, I always imagined Mr. Dake, the one who created the reference Bible, as a solemn, slightly balding, pudgy, dedicated scholar working in a dark, dusty room for decades. Then I read one of his footnotes. Scriptures say angels can move between heaven and earth. The foot note read, "they don't need flying saucers to do this". It made me see Mr. Dake in a whole new light and reminded me that God also has a sense of humour!
  Angels are given by God to Jesus and are obedient to His commands. They ministered to Him in His time of tribulation in the desert. They will accompany Him in His return to the throne of glory. When He returns, we will be able to see them moving between Heaven and earth as they gather the elect to Him.
  On earth, angels serve as messengers, comforters, protectors. They are reapers and gatherers. God assigns them to people to watch over us. They can communicate with us although I am sure the sight of one would set me trembling. They have physical strength and are witnesses to the confessions of man but are not all knowing.
  They will be the ones who carry our departed souls where they go. (Gulp.) They will be the ones who feed the furnace of fire with those gathered, those lost souls who never find Jesus in their lifetime. (We must spread the word!) The devil, too, has his angels, the fallen ones who can never know the redemptive work of Christ on the Cross but will be condemned for all eternity to those same fires.
  Whew. Thank You Lord that I have the resources at my fingertips.
  "And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Mat 24:31

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Prayers and Angels by Susan L.

   Yesterday's comments have caused me to drag out a couple of books. One by Derek Prince called "Rules of Engagement" which is a guide to intercessory prayer against the powers and principalities that work behind the scenes. Their sole purpose is to destroy all that is good and holy. It's an amazing book that has languished on my shelf since '08. It was one of the first books I read as a new Christian. I needed to know how to fight. Mr. Prince talks about the role of angels in this battle of the heavens.
  I've also dragged out my concordance, the book that lists every word and where it appears in scripture. Pray, prayed, prayer, prayers, prayest (King James lingo) and praying covers over two hundred entries so it will take a while to go through them. There's a similar number of entries for angel or angels.
  I'll get my Dake's reference Bible out as well. Mr. Dake spent a lifetime referencing and cross referencing the scriptures. It's a valuable tool although not infallible. Somewhere in it I think he mentioned the end of the world was coming in the year 2000. I'm awfully glad he was wrong.
  Thank You, Lord, that I have this wealth of reference material as well as having several versions of Your Word at my fingertips. Guide me through this quest for wisdom and truth. Help me separate the wheat from the chaff. Help me gain a clear understanding of Your heavenly beings and the prayers we lift to You. In Jesus Name I pray.
  "For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her." Prov 8:11

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Out of Sight by Susan L.

  It was one of those rare and delicious mornings when sleep gradually sloughed off its grasp. A long, slow coming awake emerged out of a just as rare deep and restful slumber. The odd to-do punctured the peace but nothing of importance. I awoke with a song in my head that soon drowned out the day to day drivel.
  "Whom Shall I Fear" was the song. The chorus goes, "I know who stands before me, I know who stands behind, the God of angel armies is always by my side."
  It's been in my head for about three weeks now. It was one of the songs the worship team leader chose for Sunday's service. Coincidence? Nope. God is not a God of coincidence.
  It's got me thinking about angels.
  Most of the time they are portrayed one step shy of a wood fairy: pretty women in flowing robes with delicate wings. I don't think that's what an army would look like. An army would have swords and shields and armor. They would stand tall and strong and proud. My imagination has them looking like a phalanx of ancient Roman warriors with golden helms. Some of them would be mounted on magnificent, shining steeds. Rank upon rank patrols the heavens doing battle with the powers and principalities determined to lead men and women astray.
  A fairy doesn't make men tremble like the archangel Michael does every time he makes an appearance. If there's an angel watching over me, I'd want a Michael anyways. Actually, there shouldn't be an "if", there are angels watching over us.
  I think of the number of times my life could have been snatched away. When I was four or five, I nearly choked to death on a Life Saver candy, a rare treat. I remember my mom grabbing me from the back seat of the car and placing me head down as she pounded my back. Gasping, coughing and choking, nothing seemed able to dislodge the candy. I think my dad said something along the lines of "Jesus, woman do something!!" as he started heading for the nearest hospital.
  The candy was expelled with a force beyond that of my child's lungs. It came out like a rocket! Air had never tasted so good.
  It's a memory cemented in my soul. I can even see the tiny piece of gravel caught in the car mat. As the darkness crept in, it was the only thing I saw. Even my mom's back pounding disappeared. To this day I rarely eat a Life Saver.
  My dad's prayer may have been more of a curse but God honored it. Praise God! I know also that there was an angel in the car that day.
  "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone." Ps 91:11-12

Saturday, 14 November 2015

First Flurries by Susan L.

  It was a wet and sloppy drive home from worship team rehearsal last night. The snow fell thick and wet, more of a slushy rain than anything. I so need to get out into the garden and get some leaves raked before it really hits especially the leaves on the driveway. Trying to shovel snow with leaves underneath is not fun. Snow shovels aren't meant for anything but snow!
  Everything is still too wet so it won't be today. My plan is to get out the lawnmower to mulch and blow the chopped leaves into the flowerbeds. If it's too wet, my plan won't work. It will only succeed in clogging the mower.
  I've got to see to the generator as well. It needs an oil change and some fresh gas to prep it for a potential power outage. It won't hurt to fill the gas can as well.
  There's always something that needs doing.
  Today, it's shopping but not for groceries. A rare thing. H and I are heading north to Barrie. She's looking at couches, I want to go to an art supply store that's there. I've been given carte blanche to get some different supplies for the centre. Don't know quite what but for me it's a bit like going to a candy store! There might be something different to teach everyone how to do.
  I do plan on getting some better quality paints. Yesterday's lesson with the pencil crayons was mostly about seeing colour, what I call looking through the rainbow. Unless you see the colours, there's no way to mix paints to the colours needed. Up until now, the lessons have been about seeing shape, shadow, light and form. The few paintings we did were with pre-mixed colours to practice various forms of painting as opposed to actually creating the colours. Trying to mix colours with the premixed craft paints is difficult. They aren't pure but tend to have a lot of gray in them.
  It's a wonderful job that I enjoy very much. Witnessing the delight on people's faces when they begin to see the rainbow is a blessing.
  "I (wisdom) traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries." Prov 8:20-21

Friday, 13 November 2015

Adventures in the Kitchen by Susan L.

  It took quite a while to make two big pans of cheesy, creamy scalloped potatoes with ham. I underestimated the cooking time, made too much cheese sauce, so the end result was a bit like a cheddar cheese soup. I threw the second pan back in the oven for another hour so it had a chance to reduce. Total cooking time was three hours. That one went in the freezer for another lunch another time or maybe they'll be hauled out for the Christmas dinner. The other pan went into a big pot with extra milk added. It's now soup. Oh well.
  The potatoes are still a bit crunchy. They only had two hours in the oven. I might pop batches in the microwave to make them a bit more tender today. It safer than doing it in a pot because it started to scorch even on low heat. Cheese and milk can spell death to a pot. Thankfully it was caught in time before it burned because once a pot burns something, it easily burns again. It did require a bit of elbow grease to get it clean.
  I guess I am a bit rusty when it comes to cooking although I did enjoy it. The kitchen at the centre is a good size. It's nice to have adequate counter space when preparing a meal compared to my two foot square counter area at home.
  Or maybe I should stick to teaching art!
  "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang u, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." Lk 8:5-8

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Short 'N Sweet by Susan L.

  It's lunch day at the centre today so I am going in early to prepare. It's not something I get to do very often but my boss, who usually does the cooking is away today. It's nice to cook for others every once in a while. We lay on a meal every Thursday for the community except when it's Good Food Box pick up day.
  We try and avoid pasta as much as possible. Those of us on a limited income often eat more than their share of it because it is cheap. I'm making a ham and scalloped potato casserole with a side salad. It's going to be creamy and cheesy. It makes me hungry just thinking about it!
  That's it. Got to go get ready for work.
  "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" Mat 6:25

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Cruising by Susan L.

  It's something to be really thankful for, that God allows us time to assimilate His truths. So that's what I am doing: assimilating.
  One thing that baffles me is trying to get my head around what Christians call "mountain top" experiences. I know Jesus went up on the mountain to be with His Father but I find that the valleys, the low times, the dark times, are where I find Him the most or maybe that is when I need Him the most.
  Is it like time? Mountains and valleys are the same to God just as yesterday and tomorrow have no meaning in a divine timeline? He simply or complexly is in all places at all times. I only know that under His wings, valleys become mountains.
  The vastness of God. Every star, every grain of sand, every blade of grass, every road we travel is under His watchful eye.
  The word "awesome" has become a bit of a cliché. It's used to describe dinners, sports teams, family get my drift. Awesome: to be filled with awe. Totally. That quaking, shaking, open mouthed sense of wonder and amazement that fills the soul. The knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is something greater, more beautiful, more powerful than anything we could possibly imagine. Who is everywhere out there in all things. Who also resides within.
  Inside out, outside in, upside down, right side up, left, right, centre, the spaces that hover outside of mathematical formulas or the force of gravity, that rests between the words on a page, that sweeps logic into the space under the rug simply because God's love defies human understanding.
  It is.
  If you don't know Him, I invite you to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour and to invite the Holy Spirit to dwell within your heart.
  "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:36

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Home Safe by Susan L.

  I took the weekend to go to my son's. It was a great time. Taking my grandson shopping for his birthday is always fun. He's a little man who knows what he wants. Getting my granddaughter laughing her great big belly laughs by being silly has to be one of the best things ever! We went to hockey practice twice, went for a hike, and built a shelf for the kitchen. There was good food and good conversation as well. So glad to have been able to go!
  One of my friends just sent me an email wondering if I was okay because I hadn't posted anything for a couple of days. Thank you so much for asking. Apologies to my readers. Next time I am away, I'll let you all know if possible.
  I won't be posting on the Sundays scheduled to be in the worship team. That means being there a little earlier so we have a chance to practice. Although, there's always the possibility of rising earlier...hah hah! That's not going to happen!
  My mom and step-dad are possibly coming for a visit and stay over today. I've a few things to take care of like clearing the kitchen table of all my art accessories, the laptop, binders. It's more of a desk/dumping zone than a table. I am working today, too.
  My supervisor and I did one of those employee reviews last week. One of the things I've been finding challenging is differentiating between when I am on duty or when I am there as a visitor. We came up with a solution. We recently got golf shirts emblazoned with the Krasman logo. I'll wear it when working. She's going to give me hers so I have two. A simple solution to a big problem because it will also help the other visitors know when I am there as staff. It makes it easier too, because there's no need to decide what to wear!
  May you all have a blessed day!
  "These are the things you shall do: speak each man the truth to his neighbour; give judgement in your gates for truth, justice and peace." Zech 8:16

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Writer's Group by Susan L.

  I haven't been for several months now. Not since the spring. Between camping trips and being away visiting family, and not doing so well for a brief while, I just wasn't able to make it out. The prompt for this month is "Christmas Gone Awry".
  When I read it on my calendar, it brought back a lot of rather unpleasant memories. Lord, I think there's more forgiving to be done. Once again I thank You for setting me free. Not just of the crap but the commercialization, the need to spend and the massive debt that swamps many of us in January.
  It was a busy time for me. All the prep, all the shopping and gift buying, wrapping, baking, and cooking fell on my shoulders. The kids would decorate the tree while I did all the other beautifying. It wasn't anything like Norman Rockwell portrayed. It was a terribly lonely time despite living in a house full of people.
  Love was missing. It was all window dressing.
  I set up a Christmas tree now to provide a place to set the paper mache nativity scene I made. Christ's birth is really the only gift that matters to me now. What a gift!
  Although getting new PJs is always gratefully appreciated. What can I say? Some women like shoes. Me? It's PJs.
  Making new memories has helped erase a lot of the negative associations that rise up this time of year. Praise God!
  Back to the group. My extra curricular activities have grown. Creative writing has taken a back seat as other priorities have taken over like re-learning how to play the flute. Lord, I seek Your direction. Where would You have me be?
  Thank You. I imagine Joseph in Bethlehem trying to find a place for Mary to give birth. Talk about Christmas gone awry!
  "And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Lk 2:7

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Angry by Susan L.

  I understand that the Syrian refugees are in dire need of assistance. I understand the generosity of helping some of them come to Canada. What irks me is the utter neglect of our own indigenous people. Many who live without clean, running water. Who live in abject poverty. Who disappear into the night and no one cares. Who face terrible abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold the law.
  The infant mortality rate is higher than many third world countries. What a terrible thing to have to admit...that malnutrition is even an issue is a damned shame.
  It's a smear on Canada and all we represent. We're supposed to be the good guys. So why has nothing been done? Apologies only go so far.
  I truly hope our new prime minister holds his word, that Justin Trudeau will make the changes so desperately needed to improve lives. Especially in a country that holds clean drinking water as a basic human right. So it should be for everyone who lives here.
  I don't understand the apathy towards the indigenous peoples' plight. But then, you know what they say, every finger pointed has three fingers pointing backwards. God forgive me for not having done more. Lead me to where I can make a difference.
  Help us, Lord, to set aside the deep seated prejudices against these people. Help us overcome the attitudes cemented by ignorance. Lord, help the indigenous peoples rise above the challenges of mental illness, addictions, violence and neglect. Help them be healed of the wounds inflicted upon them over the past several hundred years. Send Your angel armies to watch over them.
  Help us, Lord, do right by these men, women and children who have suffered so much for so long. In Jesus' Name I pray.
  God forgive us.
  "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stand watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at the time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book, and many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake., some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." Dan 12:1-3

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Still Processing by Susan L.

  The more I share vocally about the latest healing of attitude about the anxiety, the more real it becomes. It takes some time to cement an understanding, a God truth, into the brain and heart. Speaking life into it is important. It still feels a bit weird to be anxious and comforted at the same time. It feels weird that the anxiousness has lost its sting because it has been such a constant, toxic companion for such a long time.
  It feels weird to be relaxed. Good, but weird.
  It has me thinking about scars, the reminders of past wounds. Then I remember that Jesus will bear His scars for all eternity. His scars are the epitome of love and sacrifice. His scars are reminders of all that the devil did to crush mankind's hope. In case you haven't read the book, Jesus won.
  So, scars are marks of victory over adversity.
  And I am laughing as I realize that sometimes scars are marks of stupidity as well. At least when it comes to humans! But even our stupidity has a way of teaching us to be smarter. I only ever fell onto the woodstove once. Thankfully my hand saved me rather than my face but it did leave a nasty burn across the palm. Hands heal quickly and there's no trace of that moment of carelessness left but I am always careful to be fully balanced whenever working around a fire. Lesson learned.
  There's a platitude out there, "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger." I think it's a cruel saying because my own experience has been that what doesn't kill me makes me need God more. If that means the anxiety will be a permanent reminder to lean into Him, I am grateful for it because in Him is the strength to persevere.
  "And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, 'Father if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.' Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him." Lk 22:41-43

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Bits and Bobs by Susan L.

  I missed worship team rehearsal. In true Sue fashion I showed up a day late. It's a regular occurrence for me to get mixed up on dates and times. That and not paying attention to my email. Oh well. I'll go early Sunday for the pre-service practice and see how it goes. I've some time today to practice as well.
  There's a load of junk to take to the dump today. It's been sitting in my car for a couple of weeks and I need the space to put my snow tires in. They're being put on Tuesday. I am thankful the weather has held off on the snow.
  There's still a bit of garden work to do outside. Leaves need raking although getting out the lawn mower to simply mulch them and blow them into the flower beds along the fence might be easier. My sandy soil can always use more organic matter and it helps keep the weeds down.
  I am going to H's for dinner tonight. She made a venison chili. I plan on making Johnny Cake, a cornbread, to have along side. That's one of the best food combos ever! It goes really well with fish chowder, too.
  There was no chance yesterday to work on my manuscript. When I have to leave a project for whatever reason, it leaves a big hole in my life. I crave getting back at it. Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze some time in today to put brush to paper even if the light isn't as good as at the centre.
  I am still processing the change of heart regarding my anxiety. It takes some time to weave a new understanding into the fabric of the mind. Yesterday I shared with my friends at the centre about what has been going on. As I spoke of God's healing, it made it more real, more tangible. Isn't there something in the scriptures that encourages us to speak life into God's truths?
  So that's it. A bit mundane but it is a much needed break.
  "A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak." Eccl 3:6-7

Friday, 30 October 2015

Part Three by Susan L.

  As work continues on the third illuminated text, I have a greater appreciation for the monks who started this art form. They didn't have bright fluorescent lights to see by or central heating to keep them warm.  Sitting for hours doing minute and detailed work is as exhausting as tossing hay. Hands cramp, eyes blur, back and nether regions ache. I'm left as out of breath if I'd been running a marathon because even breathing can make a brush wander. It isn't only the physical toll but also the mental one. Being in the zone of deep concentration turns the brains to mush after a while.
  With the exception of the letters and the black outline, all colours have been applied by brush. I have no idea how many hours the monks would work each day seeing as their day was broken up by calls to prayer. Four hours at a stretch is about the maximum I can handle.
  It is a labour of love though. And seeing as my view on suffering has been altered, the aches and gasps have become a sacrifice. It isn't just a physical one but also a sacrifice of time. Each page has taken upwards of forty hours to complete from when I first put pencil to graph paper until the last touch ups are done. A monk devoted his entire life to producing just one Bible. Looking at their beautiful work I am sure forty hours is only a fraction of the time it took to complete a single manuscript.
  I also want to be sure to give God the glory for the images surrounding the text. It's through His inspiration and guidance they took shape.
  As each page was roughed out with graph paper and pencil, I wondered what the monks used to lay out their designs or did they trust in the Lord to guide their quills.
  I also mused on how they learned their skills. Did young scribes practice on the scraps of carefully prepared animal hides left over from cutting the pages out? Maybe that's where designs were laid out as well before being meticulously copied onto the final piece.
  Lord, thank You that I have paper, pencils and erasers. Thank You for those long ago monks who have inspired this latest artistic venture. To You be the glory!
  "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Eph 2:8-9

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Domino Effect by Susan L.

  God has done a great work in my heart and I am deeply and humbly grateful for it. I see the anxiety, once a foe, as a place of comfort. It's a battle scar, a badge of honour for a war well fought. It represents all the things the devil orchestrated to crush and destroy me because the last thing he wanted was for me to be saved.
  And I am. Forever. In spite of it all or perhaps because of it all.
  The anxiety is nibbling away still but it fills me with peace nonetheless. It's lost its power over me.
  Letting go left a great big hole and for a while I wept over the harm we do to each other, the careless words, the thoughtless acts of violence. Tears were shed for all humanity: that beautiful, messed up, wonderful, lost, lovely, creation of God.
  I have no idea what is going to happen next. As the tears were shed, hope entered in. Praise God!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Layers of Grief by Susan L.

  As much as I am trying to fool myself into thinking everything is honky dory, that I have accepted my situation with grace...who am I kidding?
  H sent me a beautiful and wise email about turning all the hurtful things in my past into an offering of sacrifice. Instead of being victimized, or seeing myself as a victim, she offered up the challenging idea to turn myself into an alter for the brokenness of others. Just as Christ did when He suffered and died on the cross. That way my burdens and struggles become a way to connect with His pain and the love that helped Him through those terrible last days of His life.
  "Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do." Luke 23:34
  Bear with me, folks, this isn't pretty.
  The human part of me rages against the unfairness, the cruelty, the losses, the broken dreams...It rails against the lost days of a mind that vanished when life got too hard. It seethes at having a permanent reminder of my past greet me every morning when, as soon as I open my eyes, the claws of anxiety begin their work for the day. It rages against how powerless I am to change things. The fires of fury rise up because of this inner rebellion and the constant fear that feasts on it.
  Like biting metal, the coppery taste of bitterness makes itself known.
  I tried so the end, it didn't matter.
  But the end of myself...I found Jesus.
  In the end, He was there for me when the madness swept me away. He was in the tears, in the anguish of my soul. He gave me purpose when purpose vanished. He gave me love when I thought myself nothing but dust and ashes. He nurtured trust tenderly and slowly never asking more of me than I could give.
  He patiently continues to unwrap the grave cloths that blind me. He gives me grace and forgiveness as I grow to understand more of Him. He helps me choose to forgive those who hurt me.
  He gave me life. In turn, I give this life to Him.
  It's choice I hang on to the rage and bitterness or do I let it go?

  Forgive them Father, in their brokenness, they know not what they have done.
  Forgive me Father, for in my brokenness, I have harmed others.
  Thank You, Lord, for lighting the way.
  And once again, I am forever changed.
  "Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Mat 11:28-30

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Victim by Susan L.

  During Sunday's sermon, one thing stood out although I don't remember the context. The word "victim" leapt out and got the wheels turning. It got me thinking about this last uprising of anxiety and what it did besides make life incredibly difficult.
  It re-victimized me. It turned back the clock.
  I've said before that I am this way because of choices other people made. Which is true. I was also really good at accepting the role of responsibility which crippled my own ability to make better choices which then opened the door to more negative influences; a treadmill life of always running, trying to make it better, but never getting free. Abusers are good at making sure that's how it is. 
  But that was then. This is now. Where, in Christ, I am free.
  Yes, because of the Post Traumatic Stress, the past can jump up and bite me in the nether regions. My body is hard wired to a fight/flight response if I feel I am in danger. That danger doesn't have to be real. A sight, a smell, a sound...the rattle of beer bottles used to be a huge trigger. The bottles weren't a danger, the sound was like an alarm bell warning that things could get really ugly. My body responded accordingly, no thinking required.
  I've struggled with some of the scriptures that talk about anxiety. Especially the ones that encourage us to cast our cares on the Lord. In high anxiety mode, I am not thinking. I don't get racing thoughts. It feels like there's bees buzzing in my head. My body screams, "RUN!!!!".
  Hmmm, the anxiety arises when I don't feel safe from a real or perceived threat. Not feeling safe causes anxiety. Ouch. That's a nasty hamster wheel and one I'd be more than happy to get off of.
  I've done a lot of work to prayerfully take apart triggers over the years by looking for Jesus in the key memories that birthed them. The beer bottles are an example. The sound still has the ability to raise my guard but it doesn't send me over the edge like it used to. Praise God!
  I don't want to be a victim although I confess it was a huge part of the last couple of weeks. Forgive me for that Lord, and thank You for bringing it to my attention. Allowing myself to remain a victim is a step towards bitterness. I definitely don't want to be bitter because that has a toxic effect on everything.
  Lord, help me free my life of triggers. Help me defeat the illness of my mind and body. Help me rest in Your peace and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, in You, I am safe.
  "But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand." Is 64:7

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Small Success by Susan L.

  I missed doing my post yesterday due to some technical difficulties. God it resolved. (How's that for a divinely inspired typo! The word was supposed to be "got". It just might become my new catch phrase!)
  We had rehearsal last night. I went with some trepidation. It's always tough returning to a place where there's been a melt down. 
  On the drive over, a brief prayer put me under the wings of the Almighty. A thermos of tea with lemon verbena in it replaced my usual plain water. It helps calm me. The flavour and the warmth also help ground me in the moment. Oh, and I wore a comfy flannel shirt, another grounding tool: feeling the soft fabric next to my skin. As is the team leader's standard poodle when he comes over for an ear scratch. It helps me as much as he enjoys the attention. Touch and focusing on the texture of anything has always worked as a way to turn down what's happening inside my head and body.
  It's important to override bad memories by making new ones especially when simply being somewhere is triggering. As much as anxiety is so much part of my life, I don't want it to rob me of opportunities to grow and heal. So last night was good memory making. The ghosts of two weeks ago were challenged and silenced. Praise God!
  I'll take the same tea with me for tomorrow's service and, of course, lean into the Lord's protection. The tea also helps with having a dry mouth when plain water didn't seem to help. It could be nerves or due to my meds but it makes playing the flute like trying to whistle after eating a soda cracker. I am glad the tea serves the purpose.
  Things are looking up!
  "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who were sanctified." Acts 20:32

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Hidden Struggles by Susan L.

  I've been doing a lot of thinking about my eating habits which are not good. It's something that came up in my one hour counselling session last week. (Two week ago?)
  It's challenging to cook for one. It's also a bit overwhelming at times. Eating well isn't just about turning the stove on. There's the decisions about what to cook. There's the groceries to be brought in and put away even before a knife touches the cutting board. There's dealing with a limited budget vs. the high cost of nutritious food. Then there's the clean up afterwards. It's so much easier to grab a peanut butter sandwich or something else slapped between a couple slices of bread.
  Which is not good for body or soul. Once in a while I get on a kick and seem to do better for myself but it quickly fizzles. Or maybe I am simply making excuses. Or not. These are real issues for me.
  I used to love grocery shopping. It's about the only kind of shopping that was ever enjoyed. Wandering through the aisles, checking out the different items, experimenting with different meals. It used to be fun. Now it's an exercise in not getting overwhelmed by the variety or the high cost of everything.
  There are "healthy" frozen meals. TV dinners they were once called. Most of them are full of salt which I find unpalatable or are as bland as paper. That and most of them need to be heated up in the oven which seems a waste of hydro for one meal. The amount of processing probably leaches out most of the goodness anyways even if these quick meals consist of mostly vegetables.
  Lord, I lift this up to You. This temple of the Holy Spirit is not being looked after. Forgive me for my negligence and help inspire me to do consistently better. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor 6:19-20

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Taking Liberty by Susan L.

  Most of the scriptures are designated by the masculine: he, him, his. It sort of leaves us women as a bit of an afterthought. Which isn't true of God. He holds us as high as the Adams of this world.
  When I designed the initial capital letter of this verse I wanted to incorporate the feminine, hence the S wrapped around the actual H that begins this verse. It was a way of making the he into a she without sacrificing the way it is written in the Bible. For me, it ads the personal touch to a verse that has sustained me through this rough patch.
  I am pleased with the finished results for my first try at this ancient art form. As I worked on it over several days, investing many hours, it gave me a greater appreciation for the monks and their masterpieces. Most of this was done at the centre under bright florescent lights. I can't imagine doing such fine detail by the light of a candle but they did!
  I've started working on another one. The nights are drawing in earlier so it's nice to have something to keep my hands busy, to pass the long hours of an autumn evening. The light isn't good enough at home to do the final work but I can still sketch out the design using graph paper.
  It also helps me get out of my head for a while so I can ignore the little, niggling claws of anxiety that seem to be with me all the time. I pray I soon hear from the counselling service even though I place my trust in God that the timing will be perfect.
  "For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody." Is 51:3

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Something New by Susan L.

  The Friday art group at the centre, in keeping with the pen and ink theme, was learning how to do illuminated lettering. Not that I am an expert, it was simply a chance to introduce another way of using liquid inks. We designed our initials and will colour them in next Friday using gold and various other colours. In true Sue fashion, I had to finish mine right away.
   I've been inspired to take it to the next level and illuminate part of Psalm 91. It's been a crucial piece of scripture over the last little while that has helped me find some peace during the worst of the storm.
  This even went as far as making myself a quill pen from a wild turkey feather picked up a long time ago. That didn't work out so well but I have a better idea about how it's done. (Thanks to the internet.) Next spring, when the neighbourhood Canada geese are moulting, I'll go out and pick up some wing feathers so I can try again. I didn't use the quill but relied on a regular gel pen to do the black outlines.
  I drew out the various images on graph paper and when satisfied, did a trick learned in art college. Scribbling over the entire back using a soft, dark pencil then lightly wiping it down with a small piece of tissue creates a poor man's carbon paper. When the image is drawn over, while being held in place with some masking tape, it transfers to the good copy.
  It will take some time to finish. Painting all the details is tiny and meticulous work. It isn't meant to be rushed but instead the hours spent give an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the verse, to memorize it, and to celebrate God's word.
  Somewhere or another I learned that the monks would intentionally leave one mistake on each page. Perfection, they believed, was only for God. What a wonderful way to illuminate God's grace for us imperfect humans!
  "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south." Ps 107:1-3

Monday, 19 October 2015

Election Day by Susan L.

  And I thought deciding what to have for dinner was difficult!
  The Federal Conservative ad campaign consisted almost entirely of smear ads against the Liberal party. Because they are in power I guess they are relying on that fact to keep them there. Not that their track record is great. They've been adept at quiet cut backs which hurt those most in need. Hospitals, disability benefits, the elderly and other social programs have all suffered under their regime.
  The New Democratic party, the far left, is a no go for me. While they enthusiastically support social programs, taxing the rich to give to the poor, I am not sure they'd be great for the Canadian economy. Many years ago, Ontario rebelled against the Liberal and Conservative provincial parties and put an NDP premier in place. The economy suffered greatly, taxes soared, as did inflation.
  Even voting Liberal is an iffy proposition. They, too, have a record of tax and spend.
  There are a couple of smaller parties in the running. The Green party, proponents of the environment, may have a good grasp on those issues but I am not sure how able they are to run the rest of the country. The Christian party is running on a platform of Christian fundamentals. As much as I'd like to see some of their ideas put through, they are simply too small to make that happen.
  So it's back to the big three: Liberal, Conservative, and NDP.
  Judging from the polls, it is going to end up being a minority government, where two opposing parties combined are bigger than the one in power. Which means four years of nothing much changed or accomplished.
  Lord, thank You that I can speak freely about all this without fear of retribution. Thank You that we have the right to vote and that those votes are what make the decisions. Thank You that there are options.
  I pray for the party who wins the election; that sound minds, sound business practices, ethics, and honor be part of their mandate. I pray everything they undertake will help this great country thrive.
  Guide me, Lord, as I cast my vote today.
  "Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land." Ps 85:9