Sunday, 31 May 2015

Song by Susan L.

  I sat at the piano yesterday for a long while. Venturing into a new frontier, I started working on a piece of music of my very own by attempting to play the rain in the form of a gathering thunderstorm. There's no lyrics, just the music. There was something freeing in not merely playing someone else's songs even though it is still a bit rough and rather short; a few pencil scratches on a piece of staff paper.
  There's more music theory forgotten than remembered but that's okay. It can be finessed and polished as the song evolves. I had to smile a bit because it was necessary to think about the EGBDF, the lines on the treble staff. Like a touch typist, there has long been an automatic connection to written music. Writing the notes down required a bit more thought and a fair bit of erasing.
  In thinking about it, my composition needs a bit more introduction to represent the breathless waiting in the calm before the storm. Some sweet chords with a few discordant notes tossed in to add tension. Hmmm...then the wind would build, the thunder would rumble in the distance even before the first raindrops hit. And the birds would sing once it was past and the sun burst from behind the clouds in a raiment of gold and silver.
  Help me, Lord, hear the colours in music.
  It's like I've discovered another dimension to express my artist's eye and my poet's heart. It's something new and fresh and full of hope.
  I may never write another piece of music but somehow it feels like it's something I need to do. It's something that has been building in my heart for many years: a soul song.
  "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth--Praise to our God." Ps 40:1-3

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Fiction by Susan L.

  Dean Koonz is a marvelous writer, adept at weaving words. I just finished devouring one of his stories, "Strangers". I couldn't put it down but there was something he said in it that has got me thinking. The book is about having contact with another, more advanced species from space. Two of the characters got into a discussion regarding the impact this would have on humans. Using our own history, they talked about the impact Europeans had on the Inuit; how meeting a superior culture, rich in tradition, more scientifically advanced, has left them depressed, coping with addictions and generally lost. It was implied that because the Inuit lived a simple life as hunter gatherers, they must be inferior.
  I know it was only in the story but then most writers, myself included, only write about what they know. A deep rooted prejudice and a great deal of ignorance leaked through. Sorry, Dean. We only know what we've been taught.
  The Inuit have between fifty-two and ninety-three words for snow. That's mind boggling and bespeaks of a deep connection to the environment. They have a rich, oral tradition of story and song that spans the generations. Elders are treated with respect and honour. That's just a few star qualities.
  Like the Native Americans, perhaps their struggles have less to do with meeting a "superior European" than dealing with the impact of having lands and children taken away. Perhaps being killed by people who wanted everything for themselves... Perhaps dealing with people who treat them and their ways as trash might have even more to do with the challenges many aboriginal peoples are struggling with. Perhaps having hunting and fishing rights taken away so they can't provide for their loved ones has robbed them of dignity...The injustices go on.
  It is a shameful mark against both Canada and the US. that this still goes on just so we can get the black gold, precious metals and even diamonds that lay under the few remaining lands their "superiors" begrudgingly gave them after taking their homes away.
  If an alien race came to earth with the same idea I doubt we'd fare any better, white skinned or not.
  "For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack--that their may be equality." 2 Cor 8:12-14

Friday, 29 May 2015

Sounds by Susan L.

  I have a favorite word: susurration. It means the sound when the wind blows. It makes the intangible tangible. It makes the invisible present. It even sounds like the wind blowing though grass and leaves when it's read slowly out loud. It flows off the tongue.
  As I was sitting reading by the living room window last night, the aquarium pump and a big fan were humming away in the background. The combined pulse created music; heavy metal, rock band kind of music that was way off in the distance. I thought for a moment it was a radio playing next door because I could hear repetitive vocals but couldn't make sense of the words. It was kind of eerie.
  No I'm not going crazy. I checked it out. When the fan was turned off, the illusion of music stopped. Susurration, the air moving through fan and bubble making air stone created a subtle song.
  I often hear music in the mechanized hum of machines. They have a musicality, a rhythm in the constant steady purr of motor and gears. When I worked in a factory years ago, it helped pass the time while packing endless packages of cough drops.
  Later last night as I was almost asleep, a strange sound had me awake and alert in an instant. Something wasn't quite right. I listened. Was it the spare sump pump running? No. Please, no! Getting up and going into the kitchen, the fridge motor stopped. So did the strange sound. Relieved, I went back to bed.
  Our subconscious does an amazing job at filtering out the everyday noises that surround us. Sometimes I like to sit utterly still and listen. The whole world breathes.
  "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope." Ps 130:5

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Summer is Near! by Susan L.

  As the lilacs' blooms fade, the temperature in the pond outside grows warm enough for the fish to be moved to their summer home. It takes a bit longer, having the bigger aquarium to empty, to catch the fish, clean the tank and fill it again for the fancy goldfish purchased for indoor summer company. It's nice to see the big ones outside swimming lazily around the underwater pot of water lilies. Hopefully they'll make short work of the few mosquito larvae I saw wriggling their way through the water.
  There seems to be a lot more butterflies this spring. Delightful Red Admirals have abounded as well as many smaller ones, names unknown. Perhaps because it's been so dry, more overwintering chrysalises have survived to emerge. Or maybe they are around more because last spring, the lilacs and the apple tree had very few blooms due to a killing frost. This year, they were loaded with flowers which is probably what has attracted them and enables more to survive.
  As well as moving the fish, the boxes in front of the shed got some greenery installed. The struggling butterfly bush got moved to a more sheltered locale as well. My hope is that it will do better in it's new spot.
  I confess there's an emotional struggle going on behind the scenes. This bug has me feeling rather down. It is sapping my strength when I need it the most. Coughing fits leave me exhausted. Overwhelm is lurking around the edges. Please, Lord, help me get well.
  "The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?" Prov 18:14
  PS: In Christ all things are possible.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Speeding by Susan L.

  There are a couple of younger people with smaller, bass whomping, muffler roaring cars who consistently tear up the road way above the speed limit. They aren't alone. A lot of people speed past my place.
  One of them came up behind me from seemingly nowhere. I knew he was going to try and pass even though I was doing the 80 KM speed limit. He swerved in and out behind my bumper as we neared the narrow bridge where there is barely room for two cars. Thankfully he waited until we were over before accelerating.
   He and his two passengers tore past me with a thump-thump and a growl as I slowed to make a left hand turn into my driveway. I confess it wasn't handled in a very Christian-like manner. (Bless You, Lord, for Your forgiveness and grace.) A blast on my horn and a short curse was my first reaction. It's unlikely they heard either over the music.
  I am glad I was taught defensive driving and was aware of his presence behind me or there could very easily have been an accident.
  The reality is I am concerned for his safety and the safety of everyone who uses this road. There's been two young people killed at the bridge near by. Speed caused them to lose control as they came over. The passenger was thrown from the airborne car as it crashed into my neighbour's trees. I wouldn't want that to happen again.
  Lord, watch over our young people and the older ones who are in such a hurry to get somewhere then in just as much of a hurry to get somewhere else. May they discover that You are the only destination they need to rush to. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
  "The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; He who keeps his way preserves his soul." Prov 16:17

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hurt and Laughter by Susan L.

  As I snuffled and coughed yesterday, not feeling up to doing much, I visited YouTube and watched some animal videos people had posted. I think I am missing something because what was posted was labeled as funny or the funniest ever. Most of them weren't to me. While some of them were cute, the majority were of animals either fighting, being terrified or potentially being hurt. It wasn't just the animals, but people were hurt as well by the animals' natural behaviours.
  One was of a man fishing at the edge of a pond with his back to a ram. The ram was backing up, preparing to charge. He was utterly oblivious to the danger. The person filming wasn't. They offered no warning but blithely kept filming so the man was smashed by the charging ram smack in the middle of his lower back. The force sent him flying into the water at least three feet from the shore. There's enough power in that charge to break bones. I hope the man was okay and not crippled by it.
  I suppose it's a culture thing that started many years ago. The Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplain and even Abbot and Costello all used slapstick humour. America's Funniest Home Videos emerged before the internet so I guess these postings on YouTube are part of the natural progression.
  Somehow it all goes over my head. Give me a good pun over a pie in the face any day.
  I am not alone in my take on things, others had posted comments berating the underlying cruelty offered up as funny. Although, me watching just adds to the statistics which encourage others to post this kind of thing. I'll be more selective in what I watch in the future.
  There is one that stands out however. We could probably learn a lot from the mother cat who also had a pair of ducklings nestled in with her kittens. Tender care surpasses species.
  Isn't that how it's supposed to be?
  "Therefore take heed to ourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28

Monday, 25 May 2015

Rain by Susan L.

  We finally had some showers but it still isn't enough. The ground is terribly dry, the lawn already browning. I pray for the farmers who have planted crops. May there be more rain. They are calling for thundershowers over the next few days but what is needed is a day or two of gentle, constant precipitation. For now, every drop counts. I heard some thunder rumbling off in the distance. I hope it's moving this way.
  I've been watching the robins feed their fledgling. Only one made it that I can see. They must be having a hard time finding grubs and worms who hide deep in the ground when it's dry. They are happy when I water my flower beds and go poking through the moist soil. Their young one is very demanding.
  The fireflies were out last night. The air was still and calm, just the way they like it. As always their blinking light fascinates the child in me.
  I stopped at the pharmacy on Saturday to see if there was anything to boost my immune system that wouldn't interfere with my other meds. I'd heard somewhere that Vitamin C was taboo for anyone taking anti-depressants. That's not true, at least in my case. However products like Cold FX or Echinacea are off limits. It's best to check with a pharmacist anyways.
  The 1000 mg vitamin C tablets are as huge as horse pills and I am topping it off with a multivitamin specifically for women over fifty. (Gasp! That number keeps jumping out of the bushes and surprising me!) Hopefully the combination will quickly knock this cold on it's nether regions. I pray it is so unless, Lord, I am always open to a miraculous healing...Your will, not mine.
  "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." Ps 34:19

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Speech by Susan L.

  I was wrapped in a blanket of peace and confidence as I entered the church. Thank you, all who prayed. It's an old Anglican church built in the 1800's with wooden pews, fold down, padded kneeling thingies, a cathedral ceiling, and beautiful stained glass windows. A piano was playing in the background as the women filed in but I noticed an ancient pipe organ to one side. It was a small group representing the various Anglican churches. Everyone expressed a great deal of joy in seeing each other. They all made me feel most welcome.
  There was a communion service before the meeting. I remember dreading those as a child. They seem to last forever. That was when we had to kneel for the entire time the congregation filed to the front. It wasn't unheard of for one of the choir to drop like a stone in a dead faint. I don't think Children's aid would allow that nowadays.
  The piano player switched to the pipe organ as we sang an old hymn to open the service. Somehow I knew the melody. It must be from my days in the church choir more years ago than I care to think about. The reverend was a man in his forties, slightly balding with a refreshing sense of humour and gentle way of teaching.
  I took communion with the ladies which involved walking up to the front, kneeling, with palms crossed and facing upwards to receive the host. The ritual was something that also came from the dusty halls of memory. Another reverend from one of the other churches came with the wine in a single goblet. As much as I enjoy the way my own church does communion with the passing around of the elements so everyone can consume them at the same time, there's something special in coming humbly on my knees for these most precious of gifts.
  When the ladies had completed their short business meeting, it was my turn to speak. It went well and was well received. After I'd completed the talk about the Krasman Centre, it was wonderful to add a short, personal testimony of how important the Lord is in my life.
  As the meeting closed, the president of the ladies group commented that I had been the only speaker ever who had joined them for the service. It makes me doubly glad I went when I did.
  During lunch, I had a chance to talk to the visiting reverend. He heads the church where, many years ago, I had taken a pair of autumn lambs to be part of a nativity play in the old drive shed behind the church. We shared a moment of smiling recollection because that was the last time the church had done anything like it. It was the one where the young bull sang along to "Silent Night" and had instantly transported me to another stable in Bethlehem. It was a seed moment because I had yet to dedicate my life to Christ. That would come a few years later.
  So, despite another heavy cold filling my lungs and sinuses, modern medicine got me through without too much sputtering or snuffling. I hadn't wanted to cancel at the last minute and thankfully was at the end of the line for communion. I pray the cold won't spread to anyone else.
  "Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works." Eccl 9:7

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Speech by Susan L.

  I am going to the Anglican church in a small town about a half hour's drive away this morning. They invited the Krasman Centre to give a talk to the ladies of the church for Deanery day. I've got about fifteen minutes and have written out what I am going to say about who we are and what we do. I touch very briefly on mental health before opening the floor for questions.
  I had an appointment with my psychiatrist yesterday and shared this. He asked me if I'd thought about what sort of questions might be asked. I hadn't really.
  He played the role. "Aren't most mentally ill people violent?"
  I thought for a minute and replied, "Statistically, more people who have mental health issues are victims of violence, not perpetrators." As I thought some more, it wouldn't have hurt to include some of what I've shared on the blog, that TV tends to stereotype and amplify the worst. I'll trust in the Lord anyways to give me the answers necessary anyways.
  Another cold (groan) has worked its way into my sinuses leaving me congested and snuffly. 
  So, my gentle reader, prayers would be appreciated.
  Thanks ever so much.
  "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony." Heb 11:1-2

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Resolved by Susan L.

  As I came home from small group last night, the old Kenny Roger's song, The Gambler, was going though my head. "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run." The rest wasn't applicable but those few words made me smile. These aren't easy skills to learn.
  Sometimes it simply takes holding up a dark situation to the light for it to become a non-issue. I was able to let yesterday's angst filled dilemma go. Firstly, because any action taken would have been based on hearsay even though I trust the source. Secondly, because I can't make someone change only God can. So He's the one I had a good heart to heart with yesterday and H, too. Both helped to clarify my own role and to decide on a course of action regarding the gossiper. In this case, none. Cards folded.
  I feel a thousand pounds lighter. She is in God's hands now.
  "The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying, 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you and you shall be rebuilt.'"  Jer 31"3-4

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Challenge by Susan L.

  I am struggling with an issue that has dragged on far too long. It has my stomach in knots and my soul is grieved by it all.
  I pray for guidance and the strength to speak to an individual who has shared misinformation about a situation that took place at the centre. This person also knows me from church and small group. This person sadly has a taste for gossip and has breached our confidentiality policy before.
  Last Wednesday at small group there were three people who blatantly gave me the cold shoulder. Although, at the time, I didn't think anything of it. Everybody has bad days. They are good friends of this person. One of those three spoke to me on Sunday about how she had listened to things that made her not like someone who she really liked. She was being hard on herself for even listening. Bless her for not naming names. That's when I made the connection. I did try and comfort her by reminding her there were two sides to every story.
  I know this is being rather vague but I am bound by confidentiality on both fronts: the centre and small group. This person also has aired their grievance about what they believe had happened to my co-workers. I wasn't present and they weren't present when the event took place.
  As Christians, we are called to settle our grievances with each other as soon as possible. We are called to approach each other with grace. We are called to settle our disputes in a loving and compassionate manner.
  Forgive me, Lord, for having allowed this to continue for so long. I pray You will help me approach her according to Your timing. Grant us the space, the grace, the eyes to see and the ears to hear each other. Lord, if I need to turn the other cheek, help me do that then help me let go of any feelings of animosity towards her.
  "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Eph 4:30-31

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Sunday by Susan L.

 I was a bit nervous going to church Sunday morning. Wherever a panic attack has happened, it makes it challenging to go back. Not knowing what the guest speaker would be like raised some concerns as well but until we have a permanent pastor, that will always be a big question mark. I also was a bit self-conscious about the letter I had written, about the responses or reactions I might be facing. The human part of me couldn`t help it.
  Several men asked me if I was doing okay. Wow.
  One of the elders told me that my letter about what happened last week wasn`t the only one they`d received against such a hard teaching style. Several members had found him very difficult to listen to. He had been a candidate for possible hire. Thankfully, that has fallen by the wayside because there was only one response in favor of his forceful ways.
  Lord, I lift him up to You. You know what lay in his heart. Help to fan his smouldering anger into flames of love and passion. Help him see himself as God sees him.
  And thank You that so many people offered words of encouragement and affirmation. It`s always good to know you are not alone.
  This past Sunday`s guest pastor was a delightfully gentle man who shared about the kingdom of God. Before he began and even though we`d already prayed, he offered his own prayer. In it, he asked the Lord to keep him hidden behind the cross so that the teaching would be of God and the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful opening!
  And Lord, I celebrate the dedicated men and women who are called to teach your word. Bless them, in Jesus name I pray.
  `Jesus said to him, ``Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.``Jn 20:29

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Satisfaction by Susan L.

  Yesterday was a day of accomplishment. A load of scrap metal went to the dump for recycling. It had been sitting in the driveway since the fall. A short trip to the hardware store provided lumber to build the flower boxes in front of the shed. The boxes are built which should provide a buffer between the lawn and the building. I even managed to get some skids to rebuild my compost pile. It's something that needs to be done every couple or three years because they rot out.
  Yes, I was a bit sore last night but it was the good ache of tired not strain.
  Short breaks enabled me to enjoy the day. A cool drink of iced tea, a robin bathing in my pond, an oriole sang from the apple tree although I didn't see him. Best of all there are no mosquitoes!! It's good for humans but I guess the animals like frogs, bats and birds which eat them could be going hungry.
  I give thanks for the strength, the know-how, for my little SUV that has the space to haul whatever is needed and for the blessings of the day.
  I watched people in Nepal on the news. They were hauling salvaged bricks by hand either stacked on top of their heads or hanging behind like a back pack strapped to their foreheads. Men and children were working hard to begin the long process of rebuilding with nothing but brute strength. 
   We live in a rich country. It's something I frequently take for granted. Everything we could ever want or need is right there at our fingertips. That, too, is cause for my deepest gratitude.
  "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven...A time to break down, a time to build up." Eccl 3:1, 3:3

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Beauty Explosion by Susan L.

  The apple tree, the lilacs, the ornamental crab and the black currant bushes have all burst into bloom. Bumblebees are feasting. A hummingbird joins them. I hope we've had enough rain for the flowers to produce nectar although being in a lowland with plenty of underground water, it probably isn't an issue. It does my heart good to see these things.
  There are white puffs of seeds from the poplars wafting around like disenfranchised snow. The dandelions haven't gone to seed yet so they'll get chopped back before they have a chance to invade the neighbour's lawn.
  There is a pair of robins nesting nearby. I noticed the broken, cast off turquoise shell in the ditch. Mom and dad are a common sight in my front yard as they hunt for worms and grubs. There must be plenty there because it doesn't take long for them to find a beak full.
  The sun is shining, the air is warm. It's begging me to get outside. So I will.
  "And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." Is 35:10

Friday, 15 May 2015

Awe by Susan L.

  It took me a long time to understand the meaning of "fear the Lord". It's a rather poor translation from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. It doesn't mean we are to be afraid of Him but rather to stand in awe and wonder of His power/care/love/grace/creation and countless other attributes. He is perfect. His design is perfect. His plan for our lives is perfect.
  Awe: to stand open mouthed with childish delight and wonder. Thundering waterfalls do it. A golfer's hole in one does it. Perhaps a prototype car does it for you or a soaring bird, a mountain, or a perfect, dew covered spider web shining in the morning light. Awe isn't the sole domain of the big stuff.
  Awe is what fills the cup of gratitude.
  Which leads me back to yesterday's post about intimacy and relationship with our heavenly Father. Gratitude is a great way to get there. As we give thanks for the big and small things in our lives that delight us, it makes it easier to see the Lord's hand at work in and around our lives. That's the easy one. As we give thanks for the challenges, a sacrificial offering, it helps us acknowledge that we are not alone in our trials and that help is a prayer away. It's healing for the soul.
  Sometimes, though in the lifeless and lightless places of darkness and despair, it was tough to find something to be thankful for when all I wanted was to have the Lord take me home. I would eventually journal those feelings, written prayers with no holds barred, no censoring, no dressing it up. It took practice to open myself up that way, to hold the darkness up to the Light. Eventually I grew to know the Lord's shoulders are broad enough to handle my brutal honesty. Keeping the darkness in and trying to carry the load all on my lonesome would have been the end of me. These pages were for God and God alone.
  The gratitude was found by simply thanking Him for being there, reading over my shoulder.
  How awesome is that!
  "Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not my people, 'You are My people!' and they shall say, 'You are my God!'" Hos 2:23

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Working Through by Susan L.

  I've been doing a lot of thinking the last couple of days about what happened Sunday when the panic attack erupted. I am filled with gratitude because of the support and kindness which has come my way through the congregation, friends and even through the blog.
  The pastor made reference several times to the Robert Burns' poem containing the line, "If only we could see ourselves as others see us." That was a favorite saying of my ex only he used it as a justification to malign just about everyone, from strangers to friends. Hearing those words repeated was fuel for the building panic and the sense of being trapped in ugliness. My ex was really good at finding fault with everything. But then, people who are unhappy...Lord, I lift him up to You once again.
  I've always hated those words because it's a hard saying. A cruel saying. It's one that gives permission to judge others, to measure them against ourselves. More to the point, it should be: "If only we could see ourselves as God sees us"! Can you imagine? There would be love pouring out all over the place in an unstoppable flood. The unsaved would be drawn to us like a moth to a flame. Knocking on door evangelizing wouldn't be necessary.
  Which leads to the stress many pastors put on evangelizing. Again, there's something missing in that teaching. Jesus would go off by Himself before He gave many of His greatest speeches. He needed an intimate time of prayer with His heavenly Father before He could share the message of salvation with those who hungered.
  Times of intimacy are crucial. It's where we get fed. It's where we can talk to the Lord about our fears, our mistakes, our desires. It's where we can come to know God's grace and His desires for our lives. It's where we can come to know we are His beloved for all eternity since time began. It's where we can learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, how to let ourselves be filled by Him and how to set our own agendas aside.
  Without that connection, our words become legalistic and religious. Empty.
  Trust takes practice and nurturing. Letting go is challenging. It takes time to develop an intimate relationship with God. Worldly fathers or male relationships often influence how we see our heavenly Father. It's where I started my dialog because one of my very first prayers was, "God, don't let me be bitter." As He has healed me and continues to do so, my prayer is to have more of Him in my life.
  All I need to do is ask because truth is the offspring of trust.
  "Behold I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." Lk 24:49

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Writer's Group May 2015 by Susan L.

                                              The Sounds of Spring

 The burble, the rush, the roar of ditch and stream and rivers filled.
                            Pebbles Flamenco dance beneath the surface.

Tree lifeblood seeps from blizzard broken limbs drip splats,
          Anointing the forest floor in sweetness.

The silence before a black cloud’s thundering rumbling rage
                                                           An oppression felt heard in heart and bone.
       One-Mississipi-two out loud measuring how far away the lightning struck.
Faster, faster, rat-a-tat clatter hailstone raindrops on a tin roof,
                                      A deafening, desperate shelter from howling green skies.
Birdsong amplified as the last raindrops hiss on the silver black asphalt.
                         Tentative trills, cheep tweets, a lover’s coo and unmelodic rasping,
                                       Fill the void,
                             The vacuum of life on hold and in hiding because of the storm.
Bold as brass wood pecker tap-tapping an obsolete antenna tower still standing.
                  “I am here!” he Morse code messages, “Did you miss me?”
The secretive chatter of spent roadside grasses and brittle cattails.
The whispering shush of baby leaves caressed by kind breezes,
                                                         Bitter, Alberta clipper gales just a memory.
                Curtains snap, lace rustles, blinds rattle.
Deep inhalations of freshened air bursting with the fragrance of renewal.

The cat purrs in sunshine patches now extra warm and inviting.

                Honey bees, bumble bees, hover flies and jewel green tiger beetles:
A hunger driven, miniscule cat purr serenades the irrepressible dandelions.
         Dentist drill mosquitoes pester and annoy.
                  The slap then sprits of spray, a fruitless two-fold counter attack.
                  A sneezy snort when a particularly brave soul ventures
                                                        Into the unexplored frontier of Nasal Cavern.

The crackle of back yard fires consumes the fallen,
                     Lava red embers roast the first spit sizzling hot dog of the year.

A muttered curse aimed at stubborn to start machines that grind and choke
                                                                                                                     And choke.
             Rakes rasp, hoes huff, shovels swish.
                                         A squeaky wheelbarrow wheel.
The groan of aching, ill used muscles put to bed,
                            Lullaby-ed to sleep by the delightful chorus
                    Of amphibious peepers and thunking leopard frogs.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Panic Attack by Susan L.

  Sunday's guest speaker at church was another one of those male pastors who preach in an assertive, bordering on aggressive/angry manner. I don't go to church to be berated or beaten over the head by an idea. God should be the one who convicts my spirit. My friend left but I opted to stay hoping to ride out the building fear this man was triggering. The reason for remaining was the idea that some exposure therapy would be a good thing, to stretch my limits by remaining in his company.
  I nearly took the chair out when I ended up fleeing. Primal instincts overrode logic. "NOT SAFE! RUN!" It wasn't a conscious decision.
  It took several long hours for the last vestiges of the adrenaline rush panic to finally ease. In its wake were embarrassment, grief and regret. I wrote a letter to one of the elders to be forwarded to the congregation. It contained an apology for my sudden and rather inconspicuous departure and a brief explanation why. I also asked for prayers of healing for the PTSD and the chronic anxiety which is its bedfellow.
  A couple people wrote back honouring the courage the letter took and how they wished they had the courage to leave as well that day. Thank You, Lord for letting me know I wasn't alone in my reaction to the pastor.
  Nevertheless, this isn't about courage, this is about honesty. If it takes courage to be honest, what exactly are we doing each Sunday? A church family shouldn't be a group with secrets but it is. Judgement rears its ugly head all the time. Yes, there are those Christians who judge us, but we also do a find job of doing that to ourselves for our weaknesses, our trials, and a whole back pack of other issues. If we can't trust our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us bear our burdens, what are we supposed to do? This whole situation has left me feeling very, very sad.
  The pastor's sermon was about evangelizing and growing our church. My son pointed out that Jesus' washed the disciples feet before He gave them the great commission to go out and make disciples of the world. It was one of the greatest acts of humility and love this world has ever seen.
  We, as Christians, could do well to "wash the feet" of those who walk with us. It would strengthen our faith, our love and the ability to share the good news.
  "Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him. "Lord, are you washing my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this." Jn 13:6-7

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Happy Mother's Day by Susan L.

  Here's to all the moms, that special breed who sets aside their own wants and desires to make a  home for their children. Who doctor booboos, who help with homework, who encourage and discipline and love with their whole hearts. Who only want to do their best.
  Here's to the moms who raise children by opening their doors and hearts to the unwanted. The girl children of China, the abandoned babies in Europe, and those whose birth mothers simply didn't have the resources to keep and care for their children.
  Bless the moms who give their children up so they can be loved by another.
  Here's to the grandmas who raise a second generation, their own children having fallen on hard times. There are countless AIDS orphans in Africa being raised by grandmothers who take in many who would be lost.
  Bless the moms in all their forms who go hungry so their children eat. May they find prosperity.
  Bless the moms who have to work today.
  Lord, bless and strengthen the moms who are fighting addictions so they may get their children back.
  Here's to the foster moms who welcome children at risk for a season or a lifetime.
  Here's to aunts or cousins or sisters who become moms by default or loss.
  Lastly, here's to the greatest mother of all, a virgin who brought the Son of God into this world only to see Him taken and sacrificed for the good of all mankind.
  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Lk 2:14

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Heat by Susan L.

  In true Canadian fashion, I'm going to complain about the weather. Man it's hot! It's supposed to hit thirty-one Celsius today, ridiculously high for this time of year. It's a shock to the system.
  Which has me wondering where spring went. Somebody flicked the summer switch so there's been no time for a gradual adjustment to the temperature. We've gone from crazily cold to August humid hot in three weeks.
  The farmer in me knows it's hard on the animals, too.
  I wonder if this has something to do with global warming.
  It's supposed to drop down to eleven on Monday which means tomorrow will be windy as anything. It's almost tornado weather but let's pray that doesn't happen.
  They are calling for showers today. Let's hope they amount to something because we need the rain desperately. Although I'll put in an order for later in the day.
  Meanwhile, I'll get outside before it gets too hot. I've family coming later today and the patio furniture needs cleaning. And the lawn needs mowing. And the gardens weeded...and...
  Yay!! Winter is over!!!
  "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." 1 Thes 5:28

Friday, 8 May 2015

Waffling by Susan L.

  It's been a real struggle trying to access and listen to the music for the worship team. I'd taken my laptop to work to use the WiFi on Wednesday hoping it would speed up the process of downloading the songs to be performed on Sunday. It didn't work. I managed to download five yesterday at home to my computer but three of those wouldn't work. At five minutes a song it chewed up a lot of time. Not being able to hear them left me ill prepared for practice last night.
  It's a huge stress factor I don't need or want. It sucks the joy out of making music.
  H has offered to help me with this task. Thank You, Lord, for her friendship!!
  Meanwhile, I am still waffling about continuing. Summer is coming, a busy time of year. Maybe I could start up again in the fall? That would give me a chance to sort out the music/computer issue and plenty of opportunity to learn most of the songs. Especially if I can get them on to my iPod and can listen to them while I am outside working in the garden.
   Abba, I don't believe you called me to be in the worship team only for it to be an anxiety filled situation. I seek Your clarity and confirmation for the direction You want me to take. In Jesus' most precious name. Amen!
  "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant." Lk 1:46-47

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Fire Ban by Susan L.

  My friend H emailed me yesterday to let me know the township has a fire ban in place. It's safe to assume other townships will be doing the same if they haven't already. It's been an extremely dry spring. So dry, I had to water the garden yesterday. Unheard of for this time of year.
  The ferns are struggling because of the lack of moisture. I thought they were dead but when I checked them this morning, thanks to a good drink from the hose, there are some signs of life.
  The four leafed clovers are back. I wasn't sure if I'd picked them into extinction but sure enough, in the same spot, there were at least half a dozen I could see. Also, the dwarf sour cherry tree I planted last year is doing well.
  The harsh winter basically killed my butterfly bush and my mock orange bush.  There's only a couple sprigs of green at the base. That's two years in a row for the butterfly bush when it's been killed back to the roots. Perhaps it is in the wrong spot and needs a place more sheltered from the winter wind although I have no idea where to move it to. It needs sun and those spots are rare in my yard.
  The mock orange has been in the same place for a number of years but is prone to aphids and has struggled mightily to grow. Again, I might have to move it or remove it. There's not much sense in trying to grow something unsuited to the yard or is so prone to infestation. Although it was fascinating to watch the ants farm the aphids by protecting them. I think aphids produce sweet water which ants love so there's a symbiotic relationship between the two. A little bit of National Geographic in my own yard and a fine example of God's design.
  "When I consider Your heavens, the word of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?" Ps 8:3-4

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Rehearsals by Susan L.

  It turns out that worship team rehearsals are often scheduled for a Wednesday. It's the same night as my small group. I am rather torn about what to do. Should I find another small group on a different night or simply miss the nights when there is a rehearsal? There's three Wednesdays in a row this month which is a lot of Bible studies to miss.
  I am not even sure if I want to continue with the worship team but that might be jumping the gun a bit. I've only attended two practices. Why not continue? Part of it is having to learn so much new music. It's rather overwhelming.
  The team leader posts the recordings of the chosen music each week. I am going to take my laptop into the centre where we now have WiFi to download all the songs to my iPod. My phone connected internet is too slow. That's been part of my frustration. I can't listen to them and without sheet music in many cases, it leaves me floundering.
  I only want to do my best.
  A-hah...this is a pride thing. Forgive me, Lord, for being unwilling to make mistakes during worship.
  I remember my first band competition at around age twelve. Unable to play a note, all I could do was lift my flute and pretend every time the flute section played. My eyes blurred as tears threatened. I couldn't breathe. Performance anxiety at its best. One of the brass players came up to me afterword and offered a word of comfort and shared they had felt so bad for me. It didn't do much to ease my shame and embarrassment, and a deep rooted sense of failure.
  This is bigger than just the worship team. Performance anxiety touches every aspect of my life from work to sharing my art to meeting new people to reading what I wrote at writer's group. It's even part of choosing my own groceries.
  The fear of making mistakes...of not measuring up. Although whose scale is being used? It definitely doesn't come from God.
  Thank You Lord for bringing this understanding into the light. It's time to let the "what ifs" go. Lord, I'll need Your help. This is a core belief that has been reinforced time after time. Help me forgive those who felt it was their purpose to "correct" me at every opportunity especially my ex who was driven by the need to control and dominate. May he find the Lord.
  Forgive me for believing the lie that what I do and who I am is never good enough.
  "Say to those who are fearful-hearted, "Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you." Is 35:4

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

MIssionaries by Susan L.

  The missionaries our church helps support sent a letter from Nepal. Their own village wasn't damaged by the earthquake but one of the villages Steve and Tara visit regularly was utterly devastated. Only three of seven hundred homes were left standing but the aftershocks soon leveled them as well.
  It's a figure I am having a hard time wrapping my head around and that was only one village. Many more were wiped off the face of the earth.
  Steve shared of God's grace in that many lives were saved because it was a Saturday. No children were in school, people tended to be outside or relaxing in the park and many were in church. Where they exist, these are better built, single story buildings that survived the earthquake's initial tremors. This gave those inside time to get out. However, those in home churches did not fare so well.
  It's a terrible disaster for everyone.
  Next Sunday we are doing a gift offering to help Steve and Tara. They are purchasing a truckload of tents, flashlights and sleeping mats from India to take to the hardest hit places and hope to do more to help the survivors. If you would like to support their efforts, donations can be made to:
  Steve and Tara Regnault
  Global Outreach Mission
  Box 210
  St. Catharines, On
  L2R 7A7
  "We then, as workers together with Him, also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you."" 2 Cor 6:1-2

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Success by Susan L.

  It isn't much but getting the pond cleaned out yesterday was a success in my mind. I've been getting by with using dollar store fish/butterfly nets to remove leaf debris but the thin bamboo handles aren't quite sturdy enough. They come in handy in the fall when it's time to catch the fish but maybe I need an alternative to remove heavy, wet leaves and pine needles. I try and take out as much as possible before hooking up the pump to drain the water. Only using a bucket would take too much energy. The pond holds about a hundred gallons.
  It was nice to see that the water lily survived the bitter winter. It's sending up new leaves already. It isn't happy when I clean the organic material out because that's where it gets its nutrition. It slows its growth a bit until I add the fish. Goldfish add plenty of organic matter.
  As I hooked up the garden hose I realized I hadn't shut the outside water off last fall. Thank You, Lord, that the pipe didn't freeze!
  As much as we desperately need some rain, it felt good to be out in the sunshine doing what I love doing in the garden. A good chunk of yesterday was spent simply sitting and looking around, planning and deciding what to move around, what needs dividing. Oh the simple joy of it all!
  "But there was another great eagle with large wings and many feathers; and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him, from the garden terrace where it had been planted, that he might water it." Ez 17:7

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Sunshine! by Susan L.

  Somebody flicked the summer switch! It's a gorgeous day out there. The chickadees are singing, the cardinals, everyone is celebrating! I am well enough to be able to spend some time in the garden which desperately needs a little TLC. It doesn't get much better than that.
  The spring cleaning of the pond is a first priority. It's rather mucky and if it's left too long it's rather yucky to say the least. It won't be long until the fish can be moved to their summer home. If that's all I do today, that's fine.
  I had to leave work early yesterday. A few hours left me feeling drained even though it's not a physically demanding job. A slow, steady approach to the physical demands of not just gardening but everything is probably prudent.
  That's it.
  It's time to feel the earth beneath my bare toes and the soil between my fingers! Woo hoo!
  "My own vineyard is before me." Song 8:12