Saturday, 28 November 2015

Postponed by Susan L.

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

Friday, 27 November 2015

Whirlwind by Susan L.

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

Thursday, 26 November 2015

In the Spirit by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Answers and Affirmations by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Knock, KInock by Susan L.

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

Saturday, 21 November 2015

More Questions by Susan L.

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

Friday, 20 November 2015

Prayer Study by Susan L.

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

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Angel Study by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Prayers and Angels by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Out of Sight by Susan L.

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

Saturday, 14 November 2015

First Flurries by Susan L.

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

Friday, 13 November 2015

Adventures in the Kitchen by Susan L.

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

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Short 'N Sweet by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Cruising by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Home Safe by Susan L.

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

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Writer's Group by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Angry by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Still Processing by Susan L.

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