Sunday, 30 August 2015

Parties and Gatherings by Susan L.

  My youngest son and his wife had a housewarming party yesterday.  It was lovely to have all three of my children, their partners and the grandchildren together for the first time since Christmas. My daughter-in-law's mother was there too. She took a few family photos of the bunch of us. It's not often the opportunity arises. Usually one member of the family has to be the person behind the camera!
  I've a church pot luck barbeque to go to after the service today but I am starting to feel the residual effects of two rather busy weeks what with family here (even though it is a joy), working three days in a row and yesterday's travels. Feeling stretched a bit thin is a good way to describe it. I am not sure if doing both, the service and the pot luck, is a wise idea. Mind you, not staying too long is an option, just making an appearance and dropping off the dessert I signed up for might be all that is needed. It's a welcome, meet and greet gathering for our interim pastor so I don't feel I should skip out entirely.
  It's a good time to reach out because trying to do both today under my own steam isn't a wise idea. So, Lord, options: 1. Do both in their entirety knowing You are with me. 2. Do neither. 3. Skip church, go to the party. 4. Go to church, send the dessert with someone else along with an apology.
  Okay. I'll go to church and see how it goes from there. Worrying about it all isn't necessary because this is a good day to trust in the Lord completely. (All days are. Some days it seems easier than others. Forgive me, Lord, for being the silly human that I am!)
  "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Cor 10:31

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Great Time by Susan L.

  Quiet purr of a treasure filled van
  Crunching apples beneath the wheels as it pulls in.
  Meetings, greetings, such a joy!
  Flat space massive tent site discussions,
  Scrambling in the sudden rain to set it up.
  Swimming pool shivering despite hot bucket additions.
  Mosquito swatting, campfire S'mores,
  Hike, hugs and games.
  "Where is...?"
  Questions, answers, more questions and more questions.
  "Why is...?"
  Cat locating missions.
  Laughs 'n giggles. He's under the blanket!
  "How come...?"
  Wrong shoed feet, a pile of shoes at the door.
  Living room toy explosion.
  Tiny hands held.
  Both leaves of the drop leaf kitchen table opened for meals.
  Piano stool fifth chair.
  The chair by the stairs precarious.
  There isn`t much room for maneuvering,
  For serving barbeque burgers 'n buns.
  "Can we play with your rubber duckies?" Of course, all of them!
  Sweet smelling, jammy clad children yawning.
  "Charlotte's Web" being read before the sun disappeared.
  Tucked in, soon asleep.
  Adults watching the fire's embers grow.
  Cricket chorus chatting alongside quiet conversations.
  Adults yawn, fire doused,
  To bed.
  The house feels rather empty now they`ve gone.

  ``Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle`s.`` Ps 103:2-5


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Short 'N Sweet by Susan L.

  My son and his family are coming up today for a visit. So looking forward to having them here. They will set up their tent in the yard somewhere which is ideal. Finding space for four extra persons to sleep inside would be a bit of a challenge. Although, I'd happily give up my bed for the kids and sleep on a floor supported air mattress beside them should the need arise.
  We had a bit of rain last night but I am hoping by the time they get here the grass will be relatively dry.
  So I am going to make this short. Even though I spent yesterday cleaning the house, there's still a few things to do before they get here. The wet patio furniture needs a wipe down.
  I'll be back Friday, God willing.
  "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord." Ps 127:3

Monday, 24 August 2015

Virtual Hope by Susan L.

  Before going into church, I was able to ask one of the elders about the volume of the pastor's mike. They spoke to the sound people so it wasn't anywhere near as loud as it was last week. The pastor wasn't as forceful either. Perhaps he has gained a level of comfort with us as well. I won't say it was easy but it was easier to sit through as I doodled in my sketch pad, making notes in amongst the swirls and daisies.
  Pen and paper do a great job of keeping me grounded and in the moment.
  There's an now app for that as well. It's called "Virtual Hope". It's a recovery based/wellness based little program that includes different sections. One to distract containing a variety of puzzle games. One to inspire with many uplifting quotations. You can add your favorites as well which is nice. Generic quotation selections tend not to include the scriptures.
  The "relax me" section has some guided meditations and breathing exercises. You can upload photos, videos or music that are personally significant as well. Photos run as a slide show on the home page. This makes it easy to remind ourselves about what is important in our lives.
  For me, the best part of Virtual Hope is a section on coping tools. Digital flash cards contain a place to enter what the problem is, such as anxiety. There's a spot for emotions and physical symptoms. What sets this apart is there is a place to enter the coping skills that work for each of us individually in the circumstances that challenge us.
  It's a great pocket resource to have when things aren't going so well. At also provides an easy way to communicate with those around you so they can understand what is happening or even how they can help.
  Lord, bless the developers of this app that has the potential to change lives. Amen!
  "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light." Mat 6:22

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Yard Work by Susan L.

  As much as  I hate wearing mosquito repellent, it took a good spray to fend off the mosquitoes yesterday. West Nile Virus has been found in the area so it seemed a prudent idea. A couple hours of perspiration diminished the effect so here's hoping the couple bugs that had a feed are virus free.
  It was a lovely day to be outside weeding, dead heading, raking up fallen apples as well as trimming and mowing the lawn. I had to stop grass cutting a couple of times to relocate some tiny toads that had taken up residence where the grass was especially green and thick. They were placed safely in the flower beds so they could continue their mosquito eating habits. The mower also disturbed a young wood frog. If frogs can be considered beautiful, that one surely is with its smooth brown skin, streamlined body and striking black eye shadow.
  There are numerous spiders of all sorts. The hostas, black-eyed susans, and taller flowers were often decorated with a gossamer garland or shimmering web. Even though I hate getting a face full of sticky web, I tried hard not to break too many simply because spiders are also mosquito eaters. I'm more that happy to extend the hospitality of my yard to them!
  There's something about these tiny, natural treasures that fills me with delight. They leave me feeling blessed that my yard and garden are a safe haven for many of God's creeping, crawling creations.
  "There are four things which are little on the earth, but they are exceedingly wise: The ants are not a people strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer; The rock badgers are a feeble folk, yet they make their homes in the crags; The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks; The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings' palaces." Prov 30:24-28

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Being Fed by Susan L.

  H was telling me about a tree outside her apartment building. The tree had a good start because for many years, the eaves trough drained right at its base. It quickly surpassed the other newly planted trees in size. The drain was moved, cutting off the water supply. The heat has caused all the leaves to shrivel and dry up while the smaller trees are doing okay. I wondered if the generous supply of surface water meant the roots hadn't gone deep enough for the tree to weather the blistering heat.
  It's got me thinking about the small but ancient trees we saw in Algonquin. The roots wrapped around the granite cliffs seeking any tiny, dirt filled crack in the solid face. Hair like roots thickened, prying the cracks apart so more life giving soil and water could enter in. Between the expansion of the roots and the water freezing, some of the cracks were larger crevices filled with decaying leaves. Nature's compost not only fed the trees but it held the miniscule amounts of earth in place so the cycle could continue.
   I image there were years the tree didn't grow at all but simply survived a hard and challenging season.
  Which has me thinking about church and faith.
  Christ is the rock, not the church. The church is merely a crevice. Still, it is needed for me to survive as a Christian. It is an opportunity to grow my roots deeper into the rock. If that means being challenged by circumstances, so be it. It's a place to receive Holy Communion, the partaking of the blood and body of Jesus, which is extremely important to me as a way of connecting. As for the sermons, this may merely be a famine season. Reach, roots, reach!
  Are trees patient?
  The coming of September helps. My Bible study group will be starting again and my writer's group as well. I've missed these opportunities to gather together with like minds. They are the nooks and crannies that help fill my soul with the love and knowledge of Christ.
  "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, though whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." Rom 5:1-4

Friday, 21 August 2015

Gratitude Run Through by Susan L.

   Thankfully I am in a much better place today. I hate it when circumstances get the better of me and it's easy to forget just how much there is in this world to be thankful for. As I picked up my prescription renewal and paid for pills, waves of appreciation washed over me. The Lord has provided me with ones that do what they are supposed to and blessed me with the funds to pay for them by giving me the strength to work enough to get by. Never mind that He has provided a job where grace and understanding are a fundamental part of the organization.
  Ah, well, they can't all be good days otherwise how could we appreciate them when they come?
  It's helped that the heat wave has broken. We had several days of high thirties to low forties with nasty humidity that didn't help much with sleeping. The fan air zone was a battlefield between Pumpkin and me. I have no idea how he did it but I kept waking up hot and crammed against the wall while he lay in the middle of the mattress in direct line of the moving air! The rascal!
  So, things to be thankful for... Faith, friends and family are at the top of the list. That my son and his family are coming up next week for a short visit. Fans and that our hydro rarely goes off. The rain that perked up my flower beds. The flowers, the birds and insects that constantly amaze me. The fresh breeze blowing through the window. Pumpkin, despite the fact he is a bed hog.
  I thank You, Lord, as well, that things will unfold as You have planned. Thank You for the stamina to go the distance and for the willing heart you placed within me. Mostly I am thankful for Your presence in my life and helping me to remember I am not in this alone. Amen!
  "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us." Lk 1:68

Thursday, 20 August 2015

I Hear You by Susan L.

  I turned to collaging yesterday. It's a safe way to express my feelings in a one on One with the Lord. The cutting and ripping up of images to make my own image is very therapeutic for me. I try not to think too hard but simply keep the pictures or words which catch my interest as I flip quickly through magazines. It has taken practice to bi-pass organizing any preconceived idea of what it should look like or even what it means to say. Letting things flow often surprises me when the piece is finished and how unified in a theme everything turns out to be.
  These times of intimacy with the Lord have been a path of much healing. Especially when words failed me and I couldn't put what was going on inside into language much less prayers.
  The final piece was from an ad for Bose speakers. The type practically leapt off the page. "What I hear is up to me."
  Choice and free will. Huh.
  I choose to lift the matters of the mind up to You because when I hear Your take on things, it only solidifies my love for You. It only makes it easier to let go of stuff 'n baggage.
  Divine healing is forever. Yet there is one who would have us doubt that by bringing up the past over and over. me, Lord, not hear his subtle and often not so subtle toxic whisperings. The horse is dead. Flogging it serves no purpose but to steal the joy in my life.
  The choice? To live true to the person I am in God's eyes.
  Do I need to go to church? (That's a yes.) Am I where You want me to be?
  I am trying hard not to ask "when" questions although they are there.
  It is definitely fodder for much contemplation and prayer as well as a request for more clarity. Good Housekeeping isn't the scriptures so it needs to line up.
  "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." Rom 10:17

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Hunger by Susan L.

 Since church is being regarded as a desensitization opportunity there needs to be another place or way where my spirit can be filled. Although I pray church will soon be more than a therapeutic option once the male-voice trigger is resolved. Lord, I am trusting You that it will. If You have a better idea I'd be more than happy to listen and obey!
  Is this a question of forgiveness? I know that sounds like a simple solution and I've said the words many, many times. Could You help that forgiveness join the gratitude in the marrow of my bones? Could You help me live without fear?
  Yes. I am angry. Every time I reach for my meds, it makes me angry. Angry that I need them to sleep, to live without chronic and debilitating anxiety. But I am also very tired of being this way. The on-guard watchfulness that is as instinctual as breathing is becoming exhausting. PTSD the doctors call it. Never feeling safe...well, that's not completely true. There are moments.
  Is this a question of pride? Or is part of my watchfulness simply an acknowledgement of the worth You have worked so carefully and lovingly to instill? That I am worth watching out for, worth guarding, worth caring for? Okay, I guess taking the meds acknowledges that worth, too. I can live with that.
  I don't think that is really the issue here anyways. These questions are about core beliefs; about how I regard society and my place in it. This is about setting aside hammered home lessons and being open to new ideas, new understandings. It's about being open to hearing God's truth...and being honest and open with Him. I haven't been doing that lately but have simply been keeping my head down and plodding along.
  Lord, the photos stirred up a lot. Help them be a catalyst of healing. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "But there was another 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. It was planted in good soil by many waters, to bring forth branches, bear fruit, and become a majestic vine." Ez 17:7-8
  (Thank You, Lord, for Your Word.)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Think Cool Thoughts by Susan L.

 Polar bears, ice cream, plunging into an icy lake...nope. Not working. It's still hot! I'm not sure if the humidity tipped the thermostat into the forties but it sure felt like it and feels like it might do the same again today. It's the kind of heat that even raising your arm to take a drink of water makes you break out in a sweat.
  It does look a bit stormy out there this morning and the air is heavily scented with rain. Probably heat induced thunderstorms are going to roll in. Typical August weather for Southern Ontario. Which is okay, as much as I don't care for storms, because the garden is rather thirsty looking.
  Speaking of storms, I made it through Sunday's sermon. Part of the issue is that the microphone volume is really loud which only amplifies the enthusiastic pastor. It actually hurt my ears a couple of times. He doesn't really need it but it's for recording purposes. It doesn't help that anxiety or stress makes my hearing all the more acute.
  It made it hard to concentrate on the message as opposed to the message bearer. I found my mind wandering frequently as I doodled in a sketch pad as a grounding tool. Memories I'd sooner forget kept intruding, fueled by the loudness. Tears touched my eyes towards the end as I struggled against the urge to flee. It was a victory. I didn't! Although it left me drained and like a kid at recess I couldn't wait to get out of there.
  I'm thinking next Sunday I'll approach him before the service and ask if he'd be willing to turn down the volume. I don't want to speak to the audio tech without running it by him first. Can you imagine?
  "Psst, do me a favor. Turn down the pastor!"
  There's some irony here. He's going to preach on guarding our tongues.
  Lord, I am willing to persevere. You are the one who has filled me with the determination and ability to rise above my challenges time and time again. You are the one who has filled me with the courage to face down and obliterate my inner demons. You are the one who has filled me with the desire to see the difficult things through to the end. My life is in Your hands. Amen!
  Help me think cool thoughts.
  "But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Tim 2:3

Sunday, 16 August 2015

New and Old by Susan L.

  Yesterday was spent with my youngest son. He's working on a graphic novel. It's like a comic book only more sophisticated and much larger. He asked for my help with the dialog and story line so we spent most of the morning and early afternoon reading and re-reading and editing and tweaking what he's written so far.
  I've always loved helping my kids with stuff like that. I missed it when they graduated school and my sounding board, question asking role was no longer needed. It's a nice way to spend some one on one time with them by working towards a common goal.
  He brought some photos that had come into my daughter's possession. Most of them were when we were all much younger. My ex was a firm believer in taking pictures of everything. When I left, photos were the last thing on my mind. It was something I'd been sorry about, that I hadn't taken at least some of them. God is good.
  It ended up taking me down memory lane. Photos do that, don't they? Seeing my youngest boy as a newborn, watching the evolution of my oldest into a man and seeing the gawky, gangly girl turn into a beautiful woman made me realize just how incredibly much I love them. It makes me especially grateful that they are a part of my life.
  The pictures helped me look at the past with fresh eyes. They captured many moments of the good times. It's easy to forget there were good times. Thank You, Lord for that.
  "So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, my great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you." Joel 2:25-26

Friday, 14 August 2015

Rethinking by Susan L.

  I am in a bit of a quandary. It's about church and the worship team and the enthusiastic interim pastor. Lord, I seek Your guidance in this.
  I haven't been going to the team rehearsals because my plan was to download the music to my iPod over the summer to learn the copious amounts of material needed. It didn't happen. My iPod has suffered the consequences of indifferent treatment and no longer accepts new songs. So my plan to learn the music over the summer has gone kaput.
  Which leaves me rather unprepared for the September start-up I'd hoped for.
  There is another piece filling me with reluctance to start going again. The thought of being obligated to perform if the ole body takes me into fight flight mode from listening to a forceful pastor...See? Quandry!
  My prayers are that the pastor's manner of speaking will mellow. To extend some grace, it was only the second time he'd spoken. Perhaps enthusiasm fed the flames of his passion. My prayers are that if it doesn't mellow then the Lord will bless this opportunity and heal me of this invasive and unwanted trigger set off by forceful male voices. The pastor isn't the only man to have ignited this hard wired response when my body takes over and screams, "RUN!!"
  I was talking to my Mom about this last night and realized I am dreading Sunday. That made me rather sad. Laughingly I told her that perhaps it's like cooked spinach: good for you but ewww! There were days I dreaded seeing my therapist as well but persevered because deep in my soul I knew it was something that absolutely had to be done. It meant having to trust that in the long run everything was going to be okay.
  And it is, for the most part. More than okay!
  Lord, I leave it in Your most capable hands.
  Oh, and help me not be angry at myself over something I have no control over. Yet. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen to that!
  "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Lk 12:32

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Best Laid Plans by Susan L.

  In a spate of anticipation for the peak night of the meteor shower the decision was made to go to bed early to read for a while then head out around eleven. It was a busy day yesterday so all the book did was make me sleepy. So, I thought in a burst of genius thinking, the best time to view the light show is at two in the morning. What about setting my alarm? Which I did but forgot to turn it on. So much for genius!
  I did wake up at four thirty and ventured outside. There were only a few scattered falling stars, as many as I'd seen before going to bed. A dozen or so in total. Which is a pretty good count seeing as my evening and morning stargazing didn't last very long.
  Rarely am I up at that hour. Sitting on a chair in the driveway which provided the best vantage point, the silence of the early morning was something special. Even the incessant chirping crickets had gone to sleep. The air was still and warmer than it had been the night before. Not a leaf rustled. I gazed upwards at unfamiliar skies simply watching and waiting. The immense beauty of the limitless heavens made me feel rather small.
  I've been struggling with loneliness lately but somehow, sitting there by myself, I didn't feel alone. At all.
  "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Mat 6:21

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Creative Celebration by Susan L.

  There is a painting started, at least the blue sky is laid down, but inspiration has walked away as to how the rest of it is going to look. Goals and I don't seem to mesh. Like thinking I'd go out on Sundays to paint. That didn't even get off the ground after the initial outing. Oh, well.
  Last Sunday was a bit of a rough day: nightmares all night about being chased by an evil and malevolent figure that scared the pants off me. My leg was broken and wounded as well. There was someone helping me but I remember thinking, as they helped me up off the ground to run some more, I simply can't do this anymore. The agony was very real. It left me feeling rather unsettled and sad for most of the day because I know who I was running from.
  That's why the painting got started but it didn't take long to find out it wasn't going anywhere. I turned to the piano where a pattern of four notes had captured my fancy several days before. The sadness and anxiety flowed out as a melody around those notes evolved. It will likely never make it to the top ten and may never be played for anyone else but that's okay. It isn't meant to be a musical masterpiece. As I wrote it down, it wasn't be hard to imagine my old music teacher scowling at the written part, a shorthand only I could understand and a far cry from Grade 2 Theory. Most of which has been forgotten. The important part of the song was in being vulnerable and allowing my heart to emerge.
  There's something about the creative process that bypasses logic. Creativity can span everything from making a cake, or flower arranging, to mucking about in the garden or even finding crayons and a colouring book. It's about being in the "now" where past or present don't matter. It's a way to remain still before God yet share so much of what is going on. As much as it turns the brain on, it also shuts out the nagging chatter of doubts and worry and fear.
  I acknowledge that the Lord has blessed me in so many ways and my gratitude flows from the very marrow of my bones. But I also know every single one of us has the ability to be a creator. God, the Creator made us in His image didn't He?
  The world works really hard to snuff creativity out because it's dangerous to the one who would see us be less than what the Lord desires. It's true. My abilities were smothered for a long time in half truths and lies. It's not about comparing our gifts to those of others because each of us is blessed in a way that is uniquely our own.
  Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice that will enable us to lay the lies we have heard and believed at the foot of the cross for all eternity. Help us find our gifts. Amen!
  "For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy." Is 65:17-18

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Four Eyes by Susan L.

  I have no idea why that was an insult when we were kids. It seems pretty lame now. My apologies to all those I ever mocked.
  I've joined the ranks of glasses wearing people. It's a bit like living in a fun house as walls bend and warp and straight lines do the rhumba. Just reading what was written has the potential to make me a bit sea sick as the lines rock back and forth!
  My head is doing an excellent imitation of a rooster's strut in learning where the vision areas are in the lenses: close, mid-range and distance. Getting used to the weight on my nose and learning to follow it instead of moving my eyes are other areas that will take some getting used to. I am sure by the beginning of next week the brain will have adapted to this new way of seeing. It's an amazing organ and incredibly flexible.
  Too bad there isn't anything like God lenses so we could see things as He sees them all the time simply by putting on a pair of glasses. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Or maybe not. It might hamper our abilities to have a relationship with Him. There would be no more need for dialog, for confession, for seeking forgiveness. God glasses would mean our brokenness would fall away. Which sounds like a good idea but what would happen to exploring God's word in the quest for truth and a better way of living?
  For now, our God glasses are framed in prayers. The lenses are trifocals of faith, submission (or trust if you prefer) and a willingness to let go; to see things differently. They are the most beautiful glasses in the universe!
  "I will deliver you from the Jewish people as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me." Acts 26:17-18

Sunday, 9 August 2015

You've Got to be Kidding! by Susan L.

  This is something I heard about a few weeks ago. My furious outrage needed time to get to the point of civility before being able to post about it.
  A local woman volunteered to run a week long, free teaching at the local high school as part of their health program. It was about mental health. The school decided not to let her run the course because those in power didn't want to give the teens "ideas". (Hmmm, I wonder if the teacher's union had anything to say about this as well...)
  The response by the school raises the question, "What kind of "ideas" do they mean?" That it's okay to ask for help? That being constantly overwhelmed is not a good thing? That depression or any other mental health challenges aren't a sign of weakness? What kind of "ideas" can come from learning symptoms and being made aware? Our young people already learn about sexual relations and STDs. Did that give them "ideas"?
  How about learning some skills to deal with loss and the emotional roller coaster that we're thrown into by those situations? How about giving them the tools to overcome traumatic events or to stay well in the day to day grind? How about planting the "idea" that it isn't their fault if they find themselves struggling?
  What if their parents live with mental health challenges? Genetics play a role in some cases. Shouldn't they know that?
  Heaven forbid if one of these young people, after attending these classes, came forward as a victim of sexual or physical abuse...teens and children are most vulnerable. What if these classes gave them the courage to speak up? What if this is the only place where they learn the "idea" they have rights? That's definitely dangerous territory.
  What if we armed these kids with the concept of wellness tools before they need them? How much of a difference would it make in their lives as adults? But we don't want to give them "ideas" do we?
  How about giving any teen who may be in the midst of a difficult time some options because suicide isn't the only answer? What if this is the only opportunity to let them know they are not alone?
  The tragedy here is by keeping silent, by snuffing out even a whisper of mental health dialog, by not opening the door, lives could be lost! It's that serious! What if this program gave someone else the knowledge about when to speak up as a friend, about when to seek an adult's help? The "idea" that lives deserved to be saved...shocking!
  Changes in society's attitudes begins with the children. I am so very sad that our local high school is still in the dark ages.
  Perhaps the staff could benefit from a week's teachings as well!
  "But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments." Neh 9:16


Saturday, 8 August 2015

Eye Exam by Susan L.

  The laptop type is getting fuzzier and fuzzier. Objects in the distance aren't quite as sharp as they once were especially later in the day. Cheap dollar store reading glasses have been needed to read for a number of years. It's been well over a decade since my last eye exam. Not wanting to return to that optometrist because people skills were not his strong point, I cold called one of the others here in town. They had a cancellation so I was able to see him the same day. The young doctor was personable, the staff very friendly.
  The advance in technology is astounding. A couple pieces of equipment did everything from photograph my eyes to a glaucoma test to measuring the thickness of the eye wall. The picture was both creepy and amazing at the same time. My eye floated on the black screen like a close up of Mars.
  Needless to say, glasses are needed.
  I went out to find frames for the trifocal lenses. My distance vision is nearly perfect. It only needs some tweaking for when I am tired. The mid range should fix the fuzzy laptop and the third part is for reading. They will probably take some getting used to.
  After trying on several styles of frames, the choice was between two that suited the shape of my face the best. One was a bit funky and fun, the other was rather sedate and responsible looking. Back and forth, off and on, look in the mirror again (when did I get so old?!)...did I dare? Yup. Funky won the battle.
  They should be ready early next week.
  Thank You, Lord, for Your provision in all things.
  "But seek the kingdom of God, and all these thins shall be added to you. Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Lk 12:31-32 

Friday, 7 August 2015

How to Paint by Susan L.

  It's my painting group today at the centre. I decided to do a session on painting portraits. It's not an area I am too familiar with. Going on line to watch some video teachings lead to a bit of practicing on my part. Portraits are definitely not my strong point. The human face is incredibly challenging. The first one ended up like a pasty corpse, the second was rather lopsided although the colour of the face was a bit healthier which was all I was after.
  One of the methods was done using acrylic washes where the diluted paint is applied layer after layer. Which makes sense if you think about the physical structure of the face: bones, muscles, blood vessels, skin layers. It did generate the translucent radiance of flesh.
  I figure I'll teach the group how to mix colours to create skin tones, at least Caucasian ones, and sort of let them get on with it. Most of them have been painting for a while but this is the first time we'll really get into mixing specific and difficult colours. Previously we've relied heavily on pre-mixed colours.
  I wonder if watercolours would be easier than acrylics?
  Or maybe...the softer colours, the blending ability...perhaps another time we'll try. For now, acrylics.
  We aren't going to worry about drawing the outline. We'll trace images from magazines and transfer them to canvas. It'll speed up the process a bit although finding faces with light and shadow contrast is a bit hard in this day of airbrushed beauty.
  And there's no need to stress about this. Perhaps my role today is helping the budding artists simply see the various hues, to help them give life to the eyes. They truly are a window to the soul.
  "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, "It is more blessed to give than receive."" Acts 20:35

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Random Stuff by Susan L.

  I always wondered what birds do or where they go at night. Since the storm, it's been comfortably cool but I am sure the little beasties outside would find it downright cold in the wee hours of the morning. My clothesline is attached to an old hydro pole that still has the cross pieces. One of them is fairly rotted out, creating a little tunnel. I was blessed to see a chick-a-dee tuck himself in there as the night closed in. Safely hidden and insulated by the wood I am sure he had a comfortable night. 

  These rather blurry images are a hummingbird moth at my bee balm. It's different from the other one I saw which was more pale. This one has been back a couple of times to eat so I'll keep trying to get a better photo but insects can be challenging! This particular one moves very fast and I am pleased to have gotten even these pictures!

  The shoe rack is now installed at the centre. It really makes the front entrance much tidier. It's funny though, in true carpenter fashion, I measured and measured and measured again the space where it was going to go. The same when I was cutting the wood. "Measure twice, cut once" is the carpenter's motto. I'll believe it was a Divine hand who stopped it from being any taller. It just rolled in under the coat rail which now holds it securely without the unit having to be attached to the wall for safety reasons.
  We had to remove a piece of the quarter round along the baseboard to get the bottom section to fit between the trim and the baseboard heater. Again, any wider, it wouldn't have worked! There obviously a few mistakes somewhere in my calculations but then, math has never been my strong point.
  It all helps to keep me humble and in awe of the Creator of creators whose Divine countenance watches over the birds, the insects and every single one of us no matter what we do.
  "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." Heb 11:3



Tuesday, 4 August 2015

For Those Who Struggle by Susan L.

   I've been there when the day looms long and empty, when getting out of bed takes a monumental effort, when simply getting dressed is a task greater than climbing Everest. I've been there when sleeping in my clothes was easier because there was nothing left after brushing my teeth (if they got brushed). I've been there when all I could be thankful for was that the day was over. I've been there when sorrow and utter hopelessness swallowed my heart and soul. I've been there when my mind broke from reality and the days vanished into the mists of the forgotten, wrapped in nothing but pain.
  The shame that I couldn't do more...the anger that I should be able to do more...the defeat because I simply can't do more still rears its ugly face. It's a work in progress.
  Many breakthroughs took place in quiet conversations between my heavenly Father and myself. We had many chats through my journals which is basically written prayer. Cognitive thought was beyond me. Pen and paper, a line at a time, helped me put what was on my heart into something that made sense. It is where I learned I am worth loving. An idea that has waned and strengthened and sometimes waned again throughout the years.
  Recovery, or as I prefer, discovery is not a straight line journey.
  At the time, armed with a tiny, brilliant fragment of hope, "Value", I began to see a therapist. Little did I know it was to be a journey that spanned several years. Those appointments kept me going. Even if I did nothing else, those meetings were kept, sometimes twice a week if needed. Which it was following those couple of trips to the hospital.
  I began a frantic knocking at doors. Whatever help was available in my community got tried. Some were for me, others not so much. Some helped. Some damaged. All these experiences enabled me to find answers and little pieces of hope. Finding the Krasman Centre drop-in was a life saver. It gave me a reason to get out of the house every day and continues to fulfill that purpose. It's where I go even if I am not working.
  Along the way I began to get a sense of the person I am in God's eyes. He is the only one that really matters. As I worked through the traumatic events of the past, lies about my identity and worth were cast aside. God's truth began to solidify and continues to do so. Self-esteem (vs ego) is an area I still struggle with.
  I also found wellness tools like the right medications and a compassionate psychiatrist.
  I am far from finished. This journey won't end until the day the Lord takes me home. Some hurts may never be healed this side of Paradise although I pray they will.
  Peter Jackson, in his sermon "Unashamed" made a statement that changed my life forever, that has helped squash the performance ghoul. "We are human beings, not human doings!"
  I  believe in the power of hope held in trust. For those who struggle, I'll hold onto hope for you just as others held onto hope for me. I'll believe for you that there will be better tomorrows. I'll believe that the Lord will lead you on the path designed especially for you. I believe He will give you the strength and courage to go the distance, to go through the open doors He has for you. I believe He will catch you if you stumble. I believe He will send angels to guide you, guard you and comfort you in those moments of despair when it all seems too hard. Don't give up, reach up and out.
  God bless you.
  "Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all day." Ps 25:4-5

Monday, 3 August 2015

Thunderstorm by Susan L.

  In true Southern Ontario fashion, the excessive heat of the last week or so was wiped away in a matter of moments. One of the most violent thunderstorms I have ever seen whipped through the area last night around supper time.
  The sky to the north west became a dangerous and ominous green. I could hear the storm long before it raced over head. A few tentative gusts of wind blew chilly through the windows before the full force of the storm hit hard. The temperature plummeted fourteen degrees as the wind bent the trees and I quickly shut my windows. Even in my protected valley, the taller ones lashed back and forth. My first anxious thought was "Tornado!" and at the same time I was wondering if the big tree in my front yard would come crashing down.
  Then the rain started. Whipped into a gazillion drops, it swirled and lashed the ground. It blew off the roof like snow then fell in a brief but steady torrent before tapering off. The rain didn't last as long as the noise or light show.
  The lightning was as intense as a fireworks' finale. The thunder rumbled like a freight train. The longest time between crackles and growls was three seconds. I only made it to three once.
  It took about forty minutes from when I first heard it gathering on the horizon until it passed out of earshot.
  There may have been a tornado touch down about forty kilometers from here. Environment Canada will be sending a team to investigate today. Still, the hundred kilometer an hour winds did a lot of damage to trees and power lines. I guess the valley did help protect those of us who live here.
  I pray for those who were impacted by this incredibly violent storm.
  On a different note, I'd like to take a moment to thank my readers. Today is a milestone day. My blog has reached thirty thousand hits! It is so encouraging and affirming. Bless you all.
  "And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind." 1 Kings 19:12

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Shoe Shelf by Susan L.

  The centre needed a better way of storing slippers for visitors. We ask that people remove their shoes and boots if the weather is messy. My co-worker bought a bunch of plastic crocs for general use and to replace the rather worn footwear we have provided. They are easy to keep clean and can be disinfected. The existing shoe rack is rather uncooperative. Slippers leap off of it all the time so I decided to build a shelf.
  It's like a mail sorting box with individual slots for pairs of crocs. There's enough room for twenty-four pairs of various sizes. Needless to say, I enjoyed building it. Being in the cool basement was a nice break from the heat.
  I used my new router for the first time to cut grooves in the sides so the thinner shelving material would be supported better. I took a couple of moments to practice with it on a piece of scrap and to find out where the blade cuts in regard to the base. This was important because I attached guide boards so the grooves were straight. Routering out a straight line without them is near impossible. Even so, there were a couple of lines that wandered a bit when the guide board popped off. Those little mistakes are hidden near the back and don't affect the overall appearance. It's just part of the learning curve. And it's good practice.
  I'd like to build a small drawer/display unit to replace the rather rustic one that currently sits atop an old treadle sewing machine base. Doubling as a hall table, it displays my shell collection, a few fossils found here in Ontario and various other small souvenirs from other trips. It would be nice to have interchangeable drawers to change things up now and again. I'd still keep the glass top only instead of using fragile picture frame glass I'd have a thicker piece cut to fit. It's more of a winter project though so it can wait.
  Yup, one of my great joys is being downstairs making sawdust.
  "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." Prov 9:10

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Dry Spell by Susan L.

  When I got back from my son's my poor gardens were drooping and parched. Once unpacked I got out there with the hose and gave everything a good drink. How things work always fascinates me. Within twenty minutes of the soaking, the Bee Balm released its lovely fragrance. A crowd of bumble bees and a hummingbird moth spent several moments sipping away at the flower's sweet nectar. I was surprised how quickly the water was utilized. They are a tall flower but it didn't take long for the water to travel up the stem.
  I was close enough to the moth to see its tongue curl in and out of the flowers. They've been blogged about before but because they are a rare sight, I am simply delighted to see one again. They look like miniature humming birds being only a couple of inches in length. Tufts of hair create the illusion of a tail. Their colouring is similar to the birds: jewel greens and soft creams with a darker back. The moth has clear wings that beat in a rapid blur mimicking the way the birds fly. Amazing!
  The next time I see one I'll try and take a picture.
  God's handiwork is awe inspiring: from the tiniest treasure to the mountains, the prairies, the great lakes and seas. Cathedral forests and ancient, natural bonsais that cling to the sides of cliffs, twisted by the wind. Clouds whose appearance is never the same, like a fingerprint on a blue horizon. This list is without end.
  Thank You Lord for Your wonders.
  "Say to God, "How awesome are Your works!"" Ps 66:3