Thursday, 31 December 2015

New Year's Eve by Susan L.

  One of the things I remember doing as a kid was figuring out what my age would be in the year 2000. It seemed so old and so far away. Imagine being an ancient thirty-four! That particular double digit has long been left behind in a blurry, flurry of years.
  Which leaves us at 2017. Gasp!
  I've been feeling sort of lost lately. Maybe because it is the season to look ahead, to plan and dream what the new year will bring. It's not something I am particularly good at, this seeing and hoping for tomorrow.
  I suppose part of it is because I've felt the keen edge of disappointment far too many times.
  Lord, help me be grateful for all the things you have brought into my life. You, for starters. Without You, I wouldn't know joy. Without You, I wouldn't know peace or hope or contentment. Without You, there would be no trust. Without You, there would be no tomorrow. Without You there would be no freedom. Without coming to know You better, I wouldn't have come to know myself as You see me, not as the world sees me. Without You, there would be no grace, no forgiveness, no understanding, no comfort in the trials of this world. Without You, I would be rudderless in a tempestuous sea.
  So maybe it isn't about hoping for tomorrow. Maybe it's about celebrating the blessing that God is present right here, right now, for today and always no matter what the future may bring.
  Here's wishing all my readers around the globe a very Happy New Year. May 2017 be filled with blessings and the richness of God each and every day.
  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."" Mat 1:23

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Carving by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Freezing Rain by Susan L.

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

Monday, 28 December 2015

Reflections in the Window by Susan L.

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

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Break by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Good Company, Good Food by Susan L.

  Our feast yesterday went off without a hitch. It was wonderful to see so many gathered around the table enjoying the fruits, well, vegetables and turkey and pumpkin pie, of our labour. It was one of the most relaxing meals I'd ever done because so much was done ahead of time. Even though there were two cooks in the kitchen, we managed to each find our niche and split both cooking and cleanup right down the middle without much debate as who was going to do what.
  We had a small discussion about how many green beans to cook and ended up taking a bunch out of the pot and tossing them back in the freezer for another day. It made me smile when the meal was done because there was exactly one serving left. It used to be a standing joke that whenever I cooked, even if there were unexpected guests, there was always one portion left. I called it my unseen boarder's. There was one serving of carrots and one serving of stuffing left as well. Which is pretty good considering we never know how many to expect.
  It was truly a blessing to bless others which is really what the Christmas season is all about after all.
  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." Mat 1:23

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Turkey Challenges by Susan L.

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


Friday, 18 December 2015

Ninth Christmas by Susan L.

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

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Keeping It Real by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Prayer Request by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Prayers by Susan L.

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

Monday, 14 December 2015

Small Talk by Susan L.

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

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Mission Accomplished by Susan L.

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

Friday, 11 December 2015

Comfort and Confidence by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

O-Oh, Overwhelm by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The God of Little Things by Susan L.

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

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Cat Trauma by Susan L.

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


Friday, 4 December 2015

Friendships by Susan L.

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

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Runaway Brain by Susan L.

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

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

In the Company of Women by Susan L.

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

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Discernment by Susan L.

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