Saturday, 30 July 2016

It's a Go! by Susan L.

  As much as I trusted the Lord that He would make the Cape Breton bus tour happen, as much as I prayed it would be so, the temptation to check out the amount of seats sold proved too strong. Some things you just gotta know! There's only three seats left which means they've sold seven, well over their minimum requirement of four. There's a happy dance taking place in the kitchen right now!
  There was also a sale on at the local work/outdoor outfitters. I got my hikers at 60% off! Now it's simply a matter of breaking them in and being faithful to the walking. They also had seamless hiking socks that don't rub the toes. It might be worthwhile picking up a couple of pairs.
  I can't remember ever having been so excited about something. Maybe Christmas when I was little. Even the stuff that has gotten stirred up in art therapy hasn't affected me except to have me ponder the why's and how come's.
  The black box image has simmered away on the back burner for the last couple of weeks. While away camping, I left my mind open to discovering what was inside. I found a whole whack of shame as my two companions discussed dieting and losing weight. Having been so ill, the pounds have packed on since Christmas. Not that I needed more to be overweight, it sure hasn't helped.
  It's something we're bombarded with all the time, that being skinny is the only way to be socially acceptable or to be considered beautiful. TV, books, and billboards along the roadside all whisper the subtle message that unless you are tall, blond and leggy, or have tight skin with no wrinkles, feeds into low self-esteem. Or worse: into actual dislike of self.
  Let's look at this realistically. Two of the three meds I am on cause weight gain. Being over fifty causes weight gain. Genetics are part of it too. I've never been skinny. I've already mentioned being forced to be a couch potato. Sigh. There's also a huge part of me that views dieting as "why bother? You're going to be fat anyways."  Hmm, I need to investigate where that came from.
  Then there's the struggle to cook something decent for myself as opposed to munching down a couple of sandwiches. Somehow saving money seems to cut into the food budget. I wonder where that concept came from?
  Neither camping or the Nova Scotia trip would have happened unless there was the means to pay for it. Perhaps it's time to find another place for saving. That is if I want there to be future trips to lands unexplored.
 " "Am I a God near at hand," says the Lord, "And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?" says the Lord, "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" says the Lord." Jer 23:23-24

Friday, 29 July 2016

Challenge by Susan L.

  One of the activities of the bus tour is a seven kilometer hike...oh, boy. I am definitely not in shape for that kind of physical activity so the task over the next month is to get walking. After doing a short three K hike up in Grundy, it took a couple of days to recover. Not a good sign even if it did involve a whole lot of climbing. Cape Breton is even more hilly.
  It has to do with my health being so poor since Christmas and spending most of the time on the couch. I am finally much better but find myself fatigued rather easily. Perhaps it's safe to say it takes time to recover from infection after infection.
  And I smile as yet another ghoul finds its way into my life.
  So. How do I make this happen?
  We're supposed to wear good shoes with plenty of ankle support. Those aren't in my wardrobe except for a pair of steel toed work boots that weigh a ton. Something lighter would probably be better. Breaking in a new pair of hiking boots would be a good plan. The last thing that's needed is blisters. (Note to self, pack a small first aid kit.)
  I was thinking, too, about taking some sort of walking stick. They cut the fatigue level in half when hiking by simply assisting balance or offering support when climbing. I wonder if there's a collapsible stick out there that would fit in a suitcase.
  I'll check out both these things after work today. The sooner I get walking, the better and if I walk every day, rain or shine, there should be a huge improvement by the end of August.
  "I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad; moreover my flesh also will rest in hope." Acts 2:25-26

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Finishing Touches by Susan L.

  Everything is booked for the Nova Scotia trip. I found a couple of inexpensive motels to rest my head at. They're central to some wonderful places to visit such as Lunenburg, the home of the Bluenose II and the site of one of the oldest forts in Canada. It hadn't been on my original list of places to see but because of the amount of time I have and the fact everything is so small, it fits in nicely. There are also a couple of provincial parks near both locations: ideal places to put brush to paper or to exercise my photography skills. (Must refill my watercolour kit.)
  It also gives me an opportunity to putter along the coast road, stopping often to enjoy the scenery or maybe walk some off-the-beaten-track beach.
  I received a response email to all the questions I had for the tour company. They need a minimum of four people to run. So far there's only two signed up. Please pray that they get the needed numbers!
  When I signed up, there were nine spots to fill. I figured a bus load of at least thirty was taking part but it appears the bus is smaller if only ten go at a time. That's much nicer anyways. There wouldn't be as much noise or kafuffle each time we stop. I now understand their ability to organize cooking groups who can dine together and save some money. Hmmm, maybe they know where to get a fresh lobster...
  It's amazing how quickly this trip has come together seeing as it was only on Sunday when I found out plans had to be changed. I am happy that it's worked out all the same and full of gratitude that the Lord led me to the right places.
  All that's left is arranging airport transportation but there's still plenty of time for that.
  "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." Ps 84:5

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Done and Done by Susan L.

  The flight's booked. The tour is booked. The car is rented. All that's left is to find places to stay the second half of the holiday. The plan is to stay a couple nights somewhere south of Peggy's cove to do some sight seeing. The route will then cut across to the Bay of Fundy for a couple more nights then drive back to Halifax to spend the last weekend with family.
  It's seems strange that getting from here to there are rather short drives. Here in Ontario, you can drive a full day, I mean 24 hours, and still be in the province. Nova Scotia is so much smaller that a couple hours is all that's needed to get to any destination. It's a good thing. It means the chance to take a puttering drive with frequent stops to enjoy the view, possibly paint, or simply do some beachcombing off the beaten track all makes for a relaxing drive.
  I'll have to check the tide charts to find the best time to witness the Bay of Fundy's incredible tides. Hopefully it isn't in the wee hours of the night.
  There aren't any hostels in the locations I decided to stop in so it will mean booking a Bed and Breakfast or a hotel/motel. Which is okay. It's only a place to rest my head for the night.
  At some point I'll have to find a lobster dinner; an iconic maritime feast.
  While doing all this research, plenty of childhood memories are being stirred up. The sound of fog horns on a Sunday's morning, fishing, going with my dad to liberate trees from the wilderness...I brought a baby spruce tree home one time and when we moved to Ontario, it came with us. Picking Mayflowers from a carpeted clearing in the woods and having their sweet fragrance fill the car on the drive home. I'll be interested to see exactly how big the hill is on the road where we used to live. When we were kids, it was huge!
  There's still some inquiries to make especially with the tour operators. I decided to go ahead and book it then ask the questions. It would have been devastating to have missed the opportunity and the tour was filling up. Besides, my trust is in the Lord that this is exactly where He wants me to be.
   "Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches."" Lk 13:18-19

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Getting the Details by Susan L.

  Before finalizing my trip out east, there's a few details to be worked out. I've got a bunch of questions for the bus tour company. Because the accommodations are at hostels, is a sleeping bag or some form of bedding needed? Do we bring a cooler for food or are there opportunities to pick up groceries or go to a restaurant when we stop for the night or lunch?
  For my own peace of mind, it might be prudent to get a money belt seeing as I wouldn't have a car to lock up any valuables. Unless I upgraded to a single room instead of sleeping dorm style. (An option the tour company offers.) I wonder how much that would cost? I am not sure how comfortable the night would be sleeping in a room full of strangers.
  It might work to bring a backpack on the tour instead of hauling a suitcase full of the few clothes needed for the four days. The one I have isn't very big but a dry run of packing could see how much would fit. The suitcase could be left at my daughter's.
  The list of questions is growing but even so, they aren't changing my resolve to go. I think it will have to be booked soon before it's sold out. Thank You, Lord, that this is the direction You have pointed me in as a way to make a lifetime's dream come true.
  Also, thankfully, there's a toll free number to call so the answers to these and many other questions can be answered. I've a scratch pad and list beside me with other questions that came to mind while typing.
  Adventures await!
  "And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world." Jn 12:47

Monday, 25 July 2016

Plan Changes by Susan L.

  My hoped for trip down to Nova Scotia this fall with a friend has ended up with the friend not able to go. I was terribly disappointed. The dream had been to rent an RV for a week, to visit Peggy's Cove, to cross over to the Bay of Fundy and spend a few days in Cape Breton.
  I thought to myself, "How can I do this trip solo?"
  The idea of doing all the navigating, driving and trying to see the beauty of the Cabot Trail seemed like a dangerous combination. Never mind the fact it's not much fun to do it on my own. So, I've found a four day bus tour of Cape Breton that includes opportunities for whale watching (something I wanted to do). There's also some hiking and the potential for a boat ride out to Bird Island.
  The price includes accommodations at hostels where there's a chance to cook meals. It'd save on the cost of dining out all the time although I hope there's an opportunity for fresh lobster! The whale watching costs extra as does the boat trip but, because I would be part of a tour, all of us get a discounted rate.
  It also provides companionship. There'd be someone to turn to and say, "Wow! Isn't this lovely!"
  Afterwards, I'd rent a car to travel down to Peggy's Cove and spend a couple days elsewhere at B&B's or perhaps even another hostel. They worked when I was in New Zealand travelling alone and they provided the chance to meet a whole raft of interesting people to chat with.
  Maybe this half of the trip could be an art tour so I'd spend some time painting whenever the urge strikes. It'd be more of a go-with-the-flow kind of travel.
  To finish the trip off I would spend a weekend visiting my daughter and future son-in-law and puttering around Halifax, seeing Citadel Hill, and a doing bit of shopping before flying home.
  I'd be gone a bit longer, eleven days, but I think this sounds like a really good plan. It's a trip I've waited a lifetime for. Since moving up from Nova Scotia to Ontario when I was eleven, I've never been back but have always wanted to go.
  Thank You, Lord, for providing the ways and means for me to do this trip. Thank You for guiding me to the idea of a bus tour.
  "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young--Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You. Selah." Ps 84:3-4


Sunday, 24 July 2016

Grundy Provincial Park by Susan L.

  It was with a great deal of sorrow we packed up yesterday from a wonderful vacation in a country of granite and water. The weather held for the most part only raining the first evening soon after we had everything set up. A heat induced thunderstorm rolled through later in the week. Otherwise, it was ideal for lazing at the beach, doing some painting or simply listening to the wind rustle through the trees.
We had a perfect site. There was a short path that lead to the water's edge of Gurd Lake.
  It was lovely to sit and watch the full moon creep its way across the sky. At night the water was as still as a mirror. A water beetle ballet was adorned with silver as they danced to the rhythmic strains of a bull frog's song.
  Our last night I saw a shooting star streak across the sky. (An answered prayer!)
  It appeared this area was a favorite place of a dinosaur-like snapping turtle. It was huge with a head the size of my fist and a shell the size of a turkey platter! Very accustomed to people, he (or she) let me get within a couple feet. It's not often you get to hear one of these rather shy amphibians breathe or watch them blow bubbles before they come up for air.
  We didn't see a bear even though there were bear advisory posters everywhere. There weren't many chipmunks either but perhaps that had to do with the fact there were numerous red squirrels swearing at everyone and everything. There were no racoons performing clandestine visits to the site. We were in a dog friendly area. They might have something to do with keeping the wildlife away. Although, if the wild things had taken a good look at my friends six pound silky terrier, they'd probably have laughed at her.
  There was a huge dock spider in the ladies washroom who came out at night. Her legs would have reached across the palm of my hand with no effort. I used the side where she wasn't. Even though my son has given me an appreciation of their hidden beauty some things never change.
  From the macro to the massive, everywhere was the opportunity to enjoy the incredible variety of God's creations.
  "The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork." Ps 19:1-2


Sunday, 17 July 2016

Take Off, to the Great White North! by Susan L.

  It won't really be white. The title is an old song by the iconic Canadian duo of Bob and Doug Mackenzie whose sole purpose is to poke fun at Canadian idiosyncrasies.
  I'm up early this morning out of sheer excitement. It feels like forever since my last holiday. The car is mostly loaded except for the cooler, the rest of the food and some last minute items. There are two duffle bag bundles, wrapped in plastic, tied to the roof rack. Inside is filled to the brim. There is a small cave in the back seat for one of my friends. Good thing she's a tiny person!
  The park is about three hours away but we're going to stop half way for a bite of lunch and a puppy pee break. Literally. We're bringing my other friend's dog, a Silky Terrier. Pebble's six pounds of ferocious weighs less than her own suitcase! I don't know how good she'll be if we should happen across a bear but I might be surprised. A little dog can have a lion's heart. (We've packed some bear spray just in case.)
  So far it looks like the weather is going to be wonderful. A chance of rain on Tuesday, a teeny weeny chance of rain on Thursday and Friday. Otherwise it'll be sunny and in the mid to high twenties. It'll cool down at night for sleeping. Perfect! It's nice for hiking, swimming, and sitting on the beach without worrying about cooking my brains.
  Time's a wastin'. I've a few things to do this morning for my own critter. Glad there's a friend coming to look after him. I don't think he'd take too kindly to the camping experience.
  I'll be back in a week.
  "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ for you." 1 Thes 5:16-18

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Renaissance Woman by Susan L.

  I couldn't find my ancient dictionary so in a spate of utilizing technology, a quick search on line found the definition of "renaissance". It means re-birth, renewal. Hmm, the first step of accepting Jesus into my life began that often painful process of letting go and letting in, of becoming the "new (wo)man".
  I think I mentioned yesterday that the Renaissance era was marked by an explosion in the arts and sciences in the 1500-1600's. If I remember my grade 13 Art History class, this is when things like drawing using perspective started as opposed to the flat, almost graphic art of the previous centuries.  
  Leonardo DaVinci is the ultimate example of a Renaissance Man because of his proficiency in art and science. His scientific drawings of human anatomy and different machines are still used to this day. That's part of the definition as well, being proficient in many things. He had an insatiable curiosity about the world around him and always tried new things especially when it came to his art. Sadly, some of those inventive painting techniques haven't had the staying power of other traditional methods so many of his great works, like the Last Supper, are falling apart and have required massive restoration efforts. This brief bio doesn't do the man justice.
  What does this mean in relation to my own life? How do I compare to such an incredible man?  
  Well, there's the art: acrylics, watercolours, pen and ink, pencil, collage, mandalas, or a combination of media are all part of the fabric of my being. Like breathing. Maybe comparing myself to Leonardo is a bit presumptuous but I think I can say there's a level of proficiency in using these various creative tools.
  Writing, although spell check is my friend. I love word crafting, and pouring images into the mind.
  Music. My hybrid organ/piano technique is unique to say the least. Exploring composition has been both a lot of fun and terribly frustrating. The flute? My abilities suit me just fine. A concert flautist I am not yet, the piano explorations have enabled me to ad lib, or should I say cover up my wrong notes usually caused by not paying attention.
  Woodworking. Designing things. Building things like the shed, the deck, to bird houses. Ahh, the sweet, sweet fragrance of sawdust! I am a far cry from a master carpenter. There are still plenty of skills I'd love to learn in that regard.
  Textiles. Knitting, sewing...I successfully made a macramé plant hangar the other day thanks to instructions found on line. The first two hit the garbage because of my weakness of rushing headlong into a project, of wanting to get it done NOW!
  Yet, the essence of all of this isn't about what I can do. It's about being an explorer. It's about the reams of paper that have hit the recycling bin. It's about the scraps of mis-cuts on the bonfire. It's about the awkward notes only heard by my ears (and maybe the neighbours). It's about the willingness to start again until it feels right, whatever "it" is.
  Every single re-start is a renaissance of it's own. Every mistake is the labour pain of renewal.
  Maybe the biggest part of embracing the label of "Renaissance Woman" is simply accepting the limitless possibilities God has waiting, just around the corner of tomorrow.
  "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Rom 12:2

Friday, 15 July 2016

Almost There! by Susan L.

  I love being by the water. The only issue with lazing on most beaches is a lack of shade. A friend mentioned she used to have a huge golf umbrella she would zip tie to her chair. Then I remembered years ago we used to have a beach umbrella with a long handle and a pointed end so it could be driven into the sand.
  One final equipment purchase means we now have portable shade in the form of a brand new beach umbrella. It fits nicely into the bag with my folding chair so having it take up room in the car is a non-issue. Besides, it will mean we can stay longer to enjoy the cool waters of the lake. Note to self: put a couple of bungie cords in the bag in case we decide to sit on the rocks for a bit and need to tie it to something.
  A splash, a bit of sun, a bit of shade, doing some painting, reading a bit, and a bag of potato chips. What a life!
  I am so ready for this holiday!
  It will also give me some time to contemplate and pray over what came up in art therapy as I finished my painting of the big black box last night. The words Renaissance man, or rather woman, came to mind. What does that mean?
  I've a vague idea what the Renaissance was when it happened several centuries ago. It was the time when there was an explosion of knowledge in the arts and sciences. Lord? How does that apply to the here and now? Hmmm, lots to think about.
  "Then He said to them, 'Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old."' Mat 13:52

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Weighted Blankets by Susan L.

  A quick trip to the doc's had me vetted at recovered despite my concerns. I hope any sort of bug or flu or infection stays away permanently! I've had enough for this year thank you very much.
  While in the waiting room, I picked up a mental health magazine and seeing as there is always a wait to see the doctor, began reading. There were some interesting articles. So much so I asked the doctor if I could take it for the centre.
   He smiled and said, "Nobody ever asks, they just take them." Had I done that the guilt would have wracked me for days!
  Anyways, one of the articles was about several studies using weighted blankets to reduce anxiety. There has been tremendous success because instead of a hospital using restraints and isolation, which are downright barbaric, they've found wrapping people in these heavy blankets is a more effective treatment.
  It makes sense to me. We swaddle newborn babies to make them feel safe outside the womb. Personally, I know I sleep much better in the winter buried under a mountain of heavy quilts with my feet wrapped up tightly.
  They had a few suggestions to see if it would work curtailing anxiety. One was to place a cookie tray with several books on your lap to see if it helps. Another was to have someone give you a bear hug from behind. If the added weight at your back makes you feel relaxed, a blanket may be an option. Couch snuggling was another sign. The last was to crawl under a pile of blankets, ignoring heat if you are like us and in the middle of a heat wave. If it makes you feel secure, a weighted blanket might be just the thing.
  They don't have to be big. Perhaps a heavy shawl that could double as a lap blanket may be all that's needed.
  They added weight using plastic pellets or beads inside the lining. The fabrics used were soft cotton, flannel, microfiber or something they called minky. The pleasant tactile sensation was as much a part of the comfort as the actual weight.
  It's something that has interested me but rather than look like Linus from the Charlie Brown cartoons and walking around with a blankie, I was thinking of making something that's a cross between a shawl and a poncho. It could be made using several layers of fabric so at least it's washable.
  I am sure it would be a good wellness tool for me when the anxiety gets to be too much. I already rely heavily on tactile sensations to ground me. It's worth least when the weather gets colder!
  "And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them at the inn."  Lk 2:7

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Built by Susan L.

  Fine carpentry it isn't but the collapsible shelf is done. A quick trip to the Re-store got the hinges with removable pins. A quick trip to the dollar store got collapsible boxes. A bit of measuring both car and boxes, a bit of sawing here, a bit of sawing there and it was done. It's not pretty but it works. Ikea would be proud of me! Whether or not there's room in the car for it remains to be seen.
  It was a great excuse to spend some time in the cool basement for a break from the heat anyways.
  Normally I pack a duvet that's been folded over and sewn into a mattress that sits on top of the air mattress. The ground has a way of pulling heat from the body. A hard lesson learned camping in the fall. Air isn't a great insulator. I decided not to bring it this time because it's been so warm that I figured laying on top of the sleeping bag would be sufficient. A blanket and a flannel sheet will probably be all that is needed.
  Swimming, campfires, walks in the woods, more swimming...I can hardly wait!
  Before we go away, I am heading to the doctor's today to get these ears of mine checked out. The antibiotic is nearly done but my throat and ears are still a bit sore. This has me concerned. I wouldn't want it to get worse when we're miles from any sort of civilization.
  My brain is in about a gazillion places. Pack a hammer. Don't forget this. Don't forget that.
  Relax, Sue, it will all come together!
  "Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you. Receive, please, instruction from His mouth, and lay up His words in your heart." Job 22:21-22

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Getting Organized by Susan L.

  I am so looking forward to next week's camping trip. There's three of us going to Grundy Provincial Park to spend some time immersed in nature.
  So far, I've organized a house sitter for Pumpkin, got my sleeping bag gear all together, cooked up some hamburgers and put bottles of water into the freezer to help keep the cooler cold. Next to buying firewood, ice is the biggest expense.
  We might rent a canoe. It all depends if the site has direct access to the lake. That'd be wonderful, paddling around, enjoying the scenery from the water. Less mosquito-y as well. Which reminds me, pack the repellent.
  Our biggest challenge is car organization. We seem to spend a lot of time hunting for stuff. The thought crossed my mind to build a camp kitchen out of plywood that could be hung from a tree so  bears or other nocturnal foragers can't get at it. It would be a great way to store cookware, dishes and cans of food instead of having to root around the car to find what we need. Not for this trip though. Space is limited and we are going to be away longer. Although if it was designed it so it collapsed...there's a thought.
  I could use door hinges with removable pins that could be pulled out so the sides fold flat. Grooves could be cut for shelves that slide in to place. What would have to be waterproof although covering it with a plastic sheet would make that a non-issue. Stringing bungie cords around it would prevent the things inside from falling out so a back or front isn't needed. They'd help keep it together as well. Or maybe it could be sized to take collapsible baskets. Hmmm...I can see it now.
  It would be so much better than rifling through boxes!
  You know? I think there might be time to build it. It can wait for a coat of paint when we get back.
  "And He said to them, "When I sent you without money, knapsack and sandals, did you lack anything?" Lk 22:35

Monday, 11 July 2016

Good Times! by Susan L.

  The party for my folks thirtieth anniversary was a resounding success. Many of the family came who I haven't seen in decades. It was nice to catch up, even if it was only for a few minutes as the social rounds were made.
  I stayed the night at my son's rather than driving back. By the end of the party, I was rather tired. This bug is still taking a toll.
  We went to church together at the Meeting House. They have been going there for a while and it's the same church my own is tracking with via podcasts. I saw Bruxy Cavey at the door (the lead teaching pastor). I had to smile at my skewed perceptions of the man because he's a lot smaller in real life. An eight foot projection makes his nearly six feet seem tiny!
  After brunch I took the back roads home, puttering through quaint villages and rolling farmland. Forests and waterways drew near the road and wandered off into the distance. Brilliant yellow canola was just starting to bloom. Wheat fields have a mantle of honey gold. But, the best sight of all was my own little harvest gold home.
  Later in the evening, a friend I haven't seen for a long time, stopped by for what can only be called a drive by hugging. She was on her way elsewhere and felt the need to see me but didn't have a lot of time. A quick hello, a hug, a short prayer and off she went. There needs to be more of that in this world.
  "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me (Jesus)." Jn 14:1

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Thunderstorm by Susan L.

  The parched earth has rejoiced again as rain rolled through. The thunder was a steady rumble and snarl and growl. Lightening flashed like paparazzi cameras. I was glad the worst of it was to the north and south because these kind of storms cause me some anxiety. There's the potential for tornadoes when the temperature plummets so quickly but after checking the news, thankfully, there didn't appear to have been any.
  You know it's going to be a bad one when the wind blows opposite to the storm's direction as the air gets sucked up by the towering clouds. Then there's that brief moment of absolute stillness where leaves hang limp, unmoving, anxiously anticipating the unleashed fury of wind and rain.
  As much as thunderstorms scare the daylights out of me, I'm fascinated by their incredible power.
  On a completely different note and because of all the illness that has plagued me since January, it seemed prudent to do a bit of research. There's been a correlation between those living with anxiety disorders and reduced immune system capabilities.
  Chronic anxiety, part of PTSD, burns out the body so I've been paying more attention to my own level of anxiety. It seems to run at a constant, slow simmer all the time. (I can't imagine what it would be without medication!)
  Hyper vigilance is also one PTSD's symptoms. It's also been part of my life for as long as I can remember. It's a subconscious behaviour, the watching, the being alert to potential threats, being prepared to react in a split second. It's like the leaves waiting for a storm. It's not even something I'm aware is happening yet is as much a part of my life as breathing.
  Perhaps I am going about this the wrong way. Maybe learning to lower my guard would rectify the anxiety. that's possible. I don't think this is simply a matter of will. This needs a whole brain makeover.
  I wonder if this is part of the big black box?
  "He has sent Me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." Lk 4:18-19

Friday, 8 July 2016

Art Therapy by Susan L.

  It was a small group last night. Just me. Which was wonderful. It gave me a chance to explore an image that's been on my mind for a while. It came about by doing one of those online "psychology" tests, the type that "analyze" your personality depending on how you answer the questions. I know they are mostly for entertainment but this one had the participant imagining certain elements to create a picture. Each element represented a part of the personality.
  One of the elements was a box.
  Hmmm. Mine was a massive, landscape dwarfing, shimmering black, mountain of a box. (It just dawned on me that black paint is made by mixing all the colours together. Another "Hmmm". It's something to think about.)
  Anyways, that's where the art is going. I want to know what's inside.
  It bothered me that the box was so big once I heard it represented the ego. Right away the assumption was that ego represents conceit and pride. It actually doesn't. It means the sense of self or identity. It means having an understanding of self worth.
  Leaning against the box is a ladder (another of the elements to be imagined in the scenario). For me, the ladder is needed to see what is inside the box. It's very tall in order to reach the top. Ever safety conscious, and even though this is totally imaginary, I know I need help to climb it. Someone has to hold the bottom just in case it slips. I forget what the actual analysis was but for me, the ladder is about being vulnerable and relying on help. It means trusting whoever is holding on.
  I have no idea where this art exploration is going but I am filled with excitement about the impending discoveries which may (or may not) come over the next several weeks. I place this whole process in Your hands, my Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.
  "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand that we should walk in them." Eph 2:9-10

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Celebration of Life by Susan L.

  There was a celebration of life service yesterday for a friend who passed away. She was feisty. She was blunt. She lived life with passion. Her upper crust British accent was often spiced with choice words that let you know in no uncertain terms exactly what she thought.  But, beneath that crusty exterior, was a heart as big as a mountain.
  I feel truly blessed to have seen the vulnerability, the gentleness that was so much a part of her as telling someone off. She was never anything but kind to me.
  Somehow the world seems a bit grayer without her.
  Rest in peace, Valerie.
  "May He grant you according to your heart's desire." Ps20:4

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Verdict by Susan L.

  Thankfully I was able to get in to the doctor's yesterday. This time it's a throat infection which has affected my inner and outer ears which means my balance equipment is a bit screwy. It explains the fatigue and fever. It explains the cough which, also thankfully, isn't because of a chest infection.
  During my appointment, I mentioned how wonderful it was to have gotten an appointment simply because someone had cancelled. This is especially true of the Monday after a long weekend when the office is swamped. The doctor said that if there was a need to see him, simply tell the receptionist that he has said it's okay to squeeze me in. He smiled and said that I was simply too nice, that it was the forceful people who get the appointments right away. You know, the ones who can get downright nasty with the receptionists. Squeaky wheels.
  This isn't the first time I've heard about making a fuss to get what I want ASAP if not sooner. It simply isn't in my nature to be mean to someone who is trying to do the best they can. I've been on the receiving end far too many times.
  This is probably why the tree is still standing. I've not squeaked at the township enough.
  It takes way too much energy to be angry over things that aren't worth being angry about. Besides, if the tree had been taken down, the Orioles wouldn't have come!
  "You have heard that it was said, "An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." Mat 5:38-39

Monday, 4 July 2016

Whine and Cheese Party by Susan L.

  The cough is back. The fever. The body aches. The fatigue. The sore throat and ears. Only this time the added delight of vertigo has been tossed into the mix which means any head movement makes the world spin and rock. Ick. I don't think I'd make a very good sailor.
  My lungs aren't as sore as they've been the last couple times this thing took over and I've managed to make a doctor's appointment this afternoon courtesy of a cancellation. That's great because the Monday after a long weekend means the doctor's office is swamped. It's rare that there's an opening. I'll probably have to wait a while but at least I'm in. (Thank You, Lord!)
  I spent some time Googling symptoms this morning trying to find out about this rather tenacious bug. It didn't get very far. Walking pneumonia is about as close as I got but normally antibiotics clear that up quickly. Sigh.
   It sort of explains yesterday's somewhat weird post. Fever takes the mind into some rather strange places. Still, I sat and played the piano and mucked about with the different voices without stressing about writing down what was being played. It was enjoyable to simply let the melodies flow and helped take my mind off how crappy I feel. Sigh.
  Lord, help the doctor decide on the right course of treatment. Let it be one that licks this once and for all. Help me rest and pace myself. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; for I am poor and needy." Ps 86:1

Sunday, 3 July 2016

On the Tip by Susan L.

  There's another poem hanging just outside my conscious mind. I can taste it. It has been there for a while now. I can feel it washing against my soul. Ethereal whispers of consonants and vowels have yet to gather into something that makes sense. Perhaps it's simply a matter of being still, of opening the heart's door. Perhaps it's simply a matter of tuning out the world for those precious moments when I place my pen at the feet of Jesus.
  I went for a walk in the woods with a friend yesterday. A strong breeze rustled the leaves and brushed past. It gave me goose bumps, being so cool against my skin. I stood there, eyes closed for a few moments, utterly enthralled. That's what it feels like, this waiting, this labouring process of creation. It is standing there, eyes closed as the tender caress of something Better, something Bigger than myself guides my soul into the birthplace of something new.
  The music is right there along side the poem. I can taste it. I can feel it washing against my soul: a song unwritten more beautiful than anything yet. Notes that paint poetry, that bare the heart, that touch the tender places where the wounds run deepest. Yet, knowing all along that the release will bring healing.
  Be with me, my Lord. Help me let go.
  Oh, my soul, you have said to the Lord, You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You. Ps 16:2

Friday, 1 July 2016

Not Enough by Susan L.

A library whisper of rain
      from the silver cotton sky.
Grass, a memory of green, aching for moisture,
                  sighs as the dust of arid weeks
                                                    washes away.
         Stunted flowers,
Withered ferns,
       raise their faces, breathing deeply of the moist air.
A song sparrow's trilling aria of "Joy! Joy!"
                             rises above
      the hushing rush of raindrops on pavement.
The sun
       claws an opening in the sky,
                       scattering the clouds.
Fierce light quickly dries the road.
Glistening leaves of still thirsty trees
             hang limp,
       longing for more.

"For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Mat 5:45