Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Home Again by Susan L.

  I had a great time in Sarnia over the last few days. It was wonderful to spend some time with the grandkids. It was even more wonderful to witness what amazing parents they have. My son had painted toenails in a variety of colours because his four year old daughter wanted to paint his nails. He smiled and said that if he was anywhere important, socks would cover them anyways so what's the harm. (Sorry, son, had to share!)
  They are tough on what they call screen time. Playing video games means no TV later or vice versa. It's a good policy. The kids set the house up as a hotel. My grandson invented a hockey based board game. (He's a hockey nut!) There's tons of story time or time spent drawing. They spend lots of time outside tree climbing, sprinkler splashing, and playing with the neighbouring children.
  It's nice that they are so close to the beach as well. It's walkable but by the time all the kit is gathered together, unless we had a pack mule, it's easier to drive. For us land locked folks, beach time is a day trip. They can pop over for a quick swim whenever they like. Nice!
  They have an inflatable paddle board so I had a chance to test drive one. I had thought it would be a good thing to have when camping instead of a kayak or a canoe but hadn't realized there were inflatable ones. They don't take up as much room to store or transport. It's definitely something to start saving my pennies for. I could even paddle it around the lake across the road which might be easier than the windblown surf of a Great Lake.
  My lack of athleticism created much laughter as the waves of Lake Huron made it difficult to get on the thing! I did a wonderful butt plant into the shallows, feet reaching for the sky. Good thing I was wearing a life jacket! Yup. Laughter at my own ineptness and a gasp at the coolness of the water. Which it was until the body got used to it. After that experience, standing on the board seemed a bit ambitious. Instead I knelt to get used to balancing and paddling at the same time. It didn't take long for my legs to feel the strain. It's a great workout! The brief time I spent on it left my thighs quivering like jelly.
  The second time out was much better. I didn't even need my son to hold it for me until I got on!
  It's good to be home. There's half a dozen ripe tomatoes waiting for some bacon and toast.
  There's much to celebrate in simple pleasures isn't there?
  "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Ps 27:1

Friday, 26 August 2016

So That's How It's Supposed to Be! by Susan L.

  There's a whole whack of growing up to do. No, that's rather unfair. Not knowing how to do something isn't being childish although my behaviour has been childlike. Temper tantrums and all that. I've learned a lot in the last twelve hours and am thankful to have a friend who helped me realize some things.
  I haven't a clue when it comes to how "normal" people relate to each other. I haven't a clue how to debate an idea. When it comes to face to face dialog, I haven't a clue how to be assertive. It's something rarely experienced in many of the relationships that have been part of my life, this being allowed to speak my mind freely. Until recently that is.
  I am a master at listening because speaking up resulted in being punished.
  Expressing how I felt ended up with those feelings being trampled and demeaned. I wasn't "allowed" to have emotions. The rare time I did try and share matters of the heart meant having to listen to another's rampage against my "stupidity" or being told to "grow up".
  I learned how to disconnect. I learned how to numb. I learned how to shut my brain off. Simply to survive.
  The silent treatment was even worse. Each time a piece of me would become more invisible.
  So I stopped speaking to keep the peace except for mundane matters where decisions or emotions weren't part of the picture.
  I was silent a long, long time.
  Old lessons and old habits are hard to unlearn especially when they are so ingrained.
  It got so bad, that I couldn't trust my own ability to make a decision about what to make for dinner. Inevitably, it was wrong or unsatisfactory. I wonder if that's what happens in Stockholm Syndrome, when the kidnappers brainwash their victims. Not that I was kidnapped but I was held hostage to the whims and ways of an extremely angry and controlling man.
  He wasn't always that way. His taking control was done a bit at a time over the years. It was so subtle that it simply became the fabric of our marriage. He said "jump". I jumped to avoid his wrath.
  It was not a relationship.
  Sigh. I choose to forgive those who suffocated my voice, who smothered me with their own agenda or ideas. At least, I'll try. I'm feeling angry about it right now. And sad. That's not childish at all.
  Another sigh. I'm getting really tired of the past jumping up to bite me in the ass. But, hey, this is all part of brain re-wiring. That's the good thing. I can learn to do things differently. And I have the best Teacher I could ever ask for and, I hope, friends to help me practice new skills.
  Thank You, Lord for today's scripture. Help me see things through Your eyes. In Jesus' name I pray.
  "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement."

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Coming Together by Susan L

  It feels as though this leg of my journey is drawing to a close. God has been graciously showing me what lay in the big, black box since I asked about it back in July. The cube test, as it's called, was thought up by a well known psychoanalyst. The box is supposed to represent ego. There's been many Triple T's about ego. Culturally, having an ego is equivalent to being arrogant or conceited. It's not. That's a whole separate issue. Ego is identity and a sense of self-worth. So, yes, arrogance and conceit can be part of this if the Source of that worth is put aside.
  I've finally come to realize I don't have to fit into anyone else's "box" about what my life should look like. I don't have to live according to another's thoughts about what is best for me. There's no need to submit to the pressure of conforming to those ideas. I don't have to supress who I am to please another human being. I don't have to "fit in" any more.
  I am free. I thank the Lord for having placed people in my life who have helped me reach this place of understanding.
  The foundation of my identity, my worth, is in Christ and Christ alone. He'll make sure to help me live up to His high standards. Is there room for growth? Always! Is there room for improvement? Always! But, He is such a gentle Teacher, all I want is to please Him. All I want is to be more like Him.
  Does that mean sometimes having to take a stand? Yup. Is this wrong? Nope.
  Does it mean I have to justify my actions and choices to anyone? Nope. Although actions and choices need to be made prayerfully, by submitting to the Lord's guidance. There's room for improvement there.
  Does this mean I might hurt someone? Yes. Never willfully or with intent to harm. Does it mean I am sorry? A most definite yes! Hold on a second...being sorry is the wrong way to put it. Perhaps being sad is a better way to put it. Help me discern, Lord, when I need to be sorry for something.
  Being sad about a situation doesn't mean I have to supress who I am to make someone happy. Making people happy sucks the life out of me. It's a black hole because it's impossible to make someone happy if they aren't ready to embrace the idea that happiness is a mind set, an expression of gratitude. (There's a poem in there somewhere!)
  Does this mean I wouldn't do something that could bring joy to another? No way! That's a fundamental part of who I am. Where joy is planted, happiness will soon follow.
   Lord, stop me from slipping back into the old ways in Jesus' name I pray.
  "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord." Eph 5:8-10

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

A Little Bit of Gratitude by Susan L.

The pair of hummingbirds feasting on the Morning Glory blossoms.
The teenage mourning doves who seek safety and food in the garden.
Getting a load to the dump.
Mowing the lawn.
Being at peace.
Knowing when a decision is right.
Accepting who I am.
Knowing I don't have to change for anyone but Jesus who knows me far better than any living soul.
Letting go of expectations.
Living with expectancy.
Feeling the long, dry grass tickle my fingers as I walked past.
The fragrances of summer fading.
The first ripe tomato eaten while still warm from the afternoon sun.
Anticipating the next one.
Getting excited about the trip down east.
Spending time with my children and grandchildren.
Getting answers to prayers I didn't even know were being prayed.
Being provided for without even asking.
Being blessed.
Being well physically and mentally.
Being free.
"O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindess is better than life." Ps 63:1-3

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Divine Appointment by Susan L.

  The grass needed cutting, there was housework to be done, organizing stuff for a dump run meant yesterday was all laid out. It didn't happen. Instead, there was a deep need to go to the centre that over-rode my plans. I spent the time there working on a collage that felt more like I was waiting for something to happen and was merely keeping my hands busy.
  It did.
  The centre was unusually quiet. Mid afternoon, a woman came in who I'd never seen before. My co-worker was busy in the office with another visitor and even though I wasn't working, spoke to this new person. She had wandered in looking for a nearby art centre.
  In a matter of moments, our conversation became personal. She was in town visiting the daughter she'd been forced to give up for adoption back in the sixties. She'd been very young at the time and had no choice. They reconnected several years ago.
  I smiled and said to her, "There's a reason you came in here today."
  I don't believe in coincidences. I believe God brought her into my life to hear the "other side" of a story related to my own. One of the images I'd randomly cut out for the collage was a picture of a spoon with Alphabet Soup spelling out the words, "True Story". I don't believe in coincidences.
  For my part, sharing what I'd learned about the Primal Wound may help them, too.
  What's to be done? I don't know yet. It's a Triple T conundrum.
  Despite feeling rather teary this morning because of feeling so blessed by God. This conversation was an affirmation that I am right where I am supposed to be.
  The grass got cut, the edges trimmed followed by a shorter, faster than normal walk. I even ventured onto a new path that led off the longer trail before picking it up again. It was a cathedral of pines. The sweet aroma, the stillness, I found myself praying, seeking my Abba Father's guidance but most of all, giving thanks.
  There is so much I want to know about.
  I wondered if the air in heaven is scented then wondered if it smelt like the pines. I like to think it might be but without the underlying "earthiness" of composting needles. There's no death there.
  "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." 1 Thes 5:9-11

Monday, 22 August 2016

Ooops! by Susan L.

 I practiced the songs for Sunday until I was satisfied I knew them. Showed up for early rehearsal because in the summer we only rehearse before church, not on the Friday like in the winter. Got the music stand, the mike stand and mike set up. Got my flute warmed up and tuned. Raring to go!
  Then I looked at the song the vocalists were ready to sing. It wasn't the same! Oh, dear!
  The team leader had sent out next week's songs a week early...I was a week early.
  It meant not playing the flute because that music is my responsibility. So I sang, thankfully knowing the songs that had been picked for this Sunday's service. It all worked out in the end.
  I won't be there next week. A Sarnia trip is in the plan. That's okay. Flute practicing of any form is good for the body's core muscles. It's like doing sit-ups only not as sweaty. It's been good to stretch the lungs, too. I can play far longer before needing to take a breath than when I first started playing again.
  The next visit to a music store will provide an opportunity to get some more classical flute music. My repertoire is limited to a few pieces that have been floating around since high school.
  The lesson yesterday was an affirmation of the decisions I'd made regarding my faith and beliefs. It was an affirmation of what bothers me about religious practices while providing sound, scriptural references surrounding those issues.
  Bruxy Cavey has been using the life of Moses to teach us. He brought up a part of the story that's been skipped in many of the movies made about Moses' life. God wanted to give the Ten Commandments to all of the people directly. The people wouldn't listen to Him and asked that Moses be the only one to talk to God then relay the message to them. They believed they needed a priest to intercede between them and their heavenly Father according to Jewish beliefs and practices.
  God had brought the people through fire and water to a new life.
  Moses did as his people asked. He went and talked with God. His people built a golden calf to worship in his absence.
  I'd always believed the forty years in the wilderness was a punishment for Israel's wayward ways. I don't see it that way now. I believe the Lord was giving each and every one of them the chance to embrace dialoging with Him on a personal level.
  We tend to turn to God when the going gets tough.
  The "fear of God" was also explained. Fear has two meanings. (I'll quote the handout.)
1. God hates me and I am doomed. (Not!!)
2. God loves me and I am in awe. (Amazed, trembling, wide-eyed, repentant, wanting to be better than I am, to please Him, to serve Him, to glorify Him, to rest in His strength. Feeling blessed and honoured that He listens to words which I lift up in a prayer of gratitude for these uncountable gifts. In Jesus' Name.)
  Bruxy is gently opening our minds to the understanding of how the Old Testament is a road map pointing to God's heart and the Son who died for us.
  "Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightening flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Then they said to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak to us, lest we die." And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear, for God has come to test you , and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin. So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was." Ex 20:18-21

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Good Times by Susan L.

  The closer I get to the Nova Scotia trip, more childhood experiences are being brought to mind. Childhood friends are among them. It has me wondering whatever became of them.
  Amber, who's dad would take us to their cottage for the weekend. Lying in the back of the station wagon on the way home and looking up through the window at a gazillion stars. That was before seatbelt laws.
  They had a fire in their kitchen. Her little, two year old sister "telling" me all about it by pointing where the fire had been and chattering away in a language only Amber was able to translate.
  Camping. My dad had a flag pole to hang the Nova Scotia flag from wherever we went. There was a huge decal on the side of the trailer as well just in case someone missed the flag.
  One of his favorite camping pastimes was carving wooden matchsticks. He'd use them and a matchbox to make miniature beds that would captivate my imagination for hours.
  A huge bag of candy mysteriously appeared on his workbench in the garage. He wouldn't let us eat them until he found out where they'd come from. It took for-ev-er! They'd been left by the neighbour who always had a different car in his driveway. The candies were hard but when the centre was reached, they'd fizz, tickling my tongue.
  Cardboard toad mansions. Catching butterflies. Catching tadpoles. Growing caterpillars. Worm "farming" in a broken aquarium. Worm killing is more like it. They had a tendency of drying out. Oh, dear.
  Roaming the neighbourhood. The boys playing with GI Joes and having battles. Tagging along with my horses and covered wagon to carry the supplies they needed.
  Fishing. Tons of memories. Sitting on a dock with a stick, some string, a safety pin and a bit of hotdog. Fine tackle that was. The water was so clear that it was possible to hit a small flounder on the head with the hot dog. It never took the bait.
  A little friend who used to call, "Can Foosan come out and play?"
  My grandmother giving me a very special necklace. At seven, I was old enough to appreciate it. It had been her engagement gift. The gold chain was as fine as hair. A tiny pearl hung from the tear drop shaped, beautifully filigreed pendant. The first time I wore it was to show my organ teacher who lived close enough that I could walk to lessons on my own.
  Seeing that same grandmother reading the Bible in her room. She always knelt, with the Bible on the bed. I tried, once, to get her to conspire with me to tell my mom I'd practiced like I'd been told to. When mom asked if I had, she sat there quietly, waiting to see what happened. I couldn't lie in front of her. I hadn't.
  There was an old farmhouse on the street. It was probably original to the land that had been subdivided to create the area where I lived. According to childhood lore, it was haunted. Of course!
  It's amazing what comes to mind and how clear these memories are. It was, ahem, a long time ago.
  "But as many as received HIm, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Jn 1:12-13

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Triple T Break (Not really) by Susan L.

  We've finally been getting rain. It doesn't take much for the world to clothe itself in green again. There are patches in the lawn that will take a while to come back but even these have a few blades of grass growing.
  The crickets have started their requiem for summer. The days are starting to close in. Sigh. As much as the colourful splendor of autumn is beautiful, summer feels too short. The cooler nights are a blessing. There's good and not so good in most things.
  There's an important anniversary this month. I started the blog August 27, 2012. It's hard to wrap my head around how long it's been. There was no inkling about how much of an integral part of my day it would become. The only goal I set was to do it every day! It quickly became burdensome before finally giving myself permission to take a day off once in a while. Without feeling guilty for not having "lived up" to what was truly an unrealistic goal.
  Hmmm. It seems I'm back to musing on goal setting. The purpose driven life.
  There was an extremely popular book a few years ago with that title. I read it but, to me, it felt like a self-help book dressed up with Christian homilies. I do want to live life purposefully. Being driven by purpose...I've been there. Yup, git 'er done, regardless of the cost! It absolutely has to be done...whatever "it" is...NOW!!!
  The word "goal" is just a word. Maybe because goals are a man made thing that I struggle so hard embracing the concept. My "goals" tend to be set by surrendering the future to the Lord in the hope that many good things will happen. There are prayers for a deeper relationship with Him because it's something I desire with all my heart. My needs are shared with Him knowing He will provide far more than I ever ask for. Does it mean there's no responsibility? Far from it. It's knowing when to stand when there's nothing more this ole human can do.
  Are desires the same thing as goals?
  Maybe my resistance about goal setting is because scoring a "goal" is part of being on the winning team. Hmmm, this is a worldly understanding.
  "He shoots! He sco-o-res!!"
  When a goal or target is missed, it means I'm a "loser".
  My own ventures into team sports somehow ended up with me being on the team that came in last place no matter what sport it was. I nearly decapitated another student with a discus during track and field exercises way back in grade seven. Okay. I'm not athletic. I did win ribbons riding horses in small, school shows. It was the only sport that ever brought me joy.
  Gee, that's a black and white attitude isn't it? Win or lose. There's no room for gray, for the journey of getting there. There's no room for grace.
  As Martin Luther King said so fervently, "I have a dream!"
  Maybe, just maybe, by praying, by verbalizing my dreams is part of the journey of having those dreams fulfilled. In the only timeframe that matters to me: God's.
  "She shoots! She sco-o-res!!"
  "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end." Heb 3:14

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The New (Wo)Man by Susan L.

  Bits of memories from as far back as when I was three or four years old until recently have been coming to the surface. They are all connected by a lesson learned or reinforced. These were not taught out of spite or vindictiveness. The lessons were learned from people who learned from people who may not have known God`s truths about themselves. I have been convicted in this personally and asked God to forgive me for unknowingly passing on my own erroneous beliefs to others through words and actions.
  Help my words and actions be based on the foundation of my relationship with Jesus. In His name, Amen.
  In these memories are the birthplace and reinforcement of a lot that I've been struggling with over the last little while. It's been healing. It's helped me let go of a lot of lies that were once, what was thought, truths. Oh, amazing Grace!
  I`ve decided to be candid even if this is a public forum. I will use discretion about what or what not to share. Discretion isn`t the same as being afraid to share.
  What I say is an exploration of my own faith journey. My journey isn`t anyone else`s.
  If being candid helps someone else, all the better.
  I also welcome comments. There is always room for growth and learning. I admit I have been overly defensive but the reasons for that defensiveness have come to the forefront during this leg of my journey. It`s because of the fear that I have to live in someone else`s box to be accepted. I hope my readers can forgive me.
  These are some of the truths that have emerged. It helps to type them down because it solidifies them, makes them real.  
  Lord, I lift these up to You. Bless them in Jesus name, Amen.
  My physical self is absolutely lovely. It is a marvel of engineering. It has always been lovely. It will always be lovely even as I age and sag courtesy of the relentless force of gravity. This celebration isn`t the same as taking care of my body. To eat healthy, get plenty of rest and exercise is stewardship of this vessel of the Holy Spirit. Lord, I`ll need Your help on that both personally and financially.   
  Thank You for the massive refund from the oil company. It was money they didn`t need from last winter`s payments. (It pretty much covered my house insurance bill.) Thank You for providing for all my needs.
  Having fun is not being irresponsible or careless.
  Being silly is not the same as immaturity. I could get into a discourse on the importance of expressing the ``inner child``. Perhaps another day.
  Expressing any sort of emotion is not being "too much" of anything. My emotions aren't because I am "mentally ill". Expressing them isn't because there's something wrong with me.
  I don`t have to be serious all the time. My sense of humour is a bit quirky. I don`t find the Three Stooges funny at all. Same as the old Carol Burnett skits of ``Mamas Family``. People fighting and yelling at each other or hurting each other intentionally isn`t funny to me.
  There was an incident with trying to lead a donkey. I ended up doing this amazing body slide across wet grass when he took control of who was leading who. It`s still a source of much laughter. Especially for those who saw it happen. Apparently it`s become something of an urban legend much to my chagrin. I wasn`t being particularly smart that day. (And I laugh at my foolishness.) Maybe it`s a testimony demonstrating the wayward ways of donkeys. Except for one: the very special donkey who carried the Lord.
  I am ready for a break from all this searching. There is need to practice living in these new and wonderful understandings.
  ``For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.`` Eph 2:14-16

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Rain by Susan L.

  The ground is sighing with relief as a gentle, steady rain falls this morning. Wafts of moisture laden air swirl in through the window. I'd almost forgotten how lovely it smells. It's been that long. What's left of the lawn seems to be turning green before my eyes, the surviving weeds anyways. It will mean no hike tonight even if it stops raining. The mosquitoes would be merciless.
  The muscle aches are even more of a reason to take a night off.
  Having the cell phone announce distances walked while huffing and puffing around the trail made me realize the official park map measurements are extremely underestimated. They might have been calculated in straight lines instead of actually following the loops and twists of the trail. Probably pre GPS. I've reached six K without having to go the entire perimeter of the park as the map says. Taking the time to walk up and down the road for a bit at the end of yesterday's hike finished off the distance at ten minutes quicker than the day before.
  A little dance, a fist pump and whispered exclamation of "Yes!" celebrated that accomplishment.
  I've decided to do something while walking the trails as well. Being able to enter the park for free, a blessing for sure, had me ask myself about how to return the blessing. I came across an empty, plastic water bottle (please, stop buying them!) and picked it up. A while later, a broken chip bag. A pair of socks was also picked up. (I bet there's a Mom wondering where they went to! Darn dryer!) Next time, I'll bring a bag to put the garbage in. It's a small service for the privilege of having such a beautiful place to walk. I thank my friend, H, for her inspiration.
  I found myself judging the people who so carelessly toss garbage away.
  Numerous cigarette butts litter the entire route. It's a good thing they didn't ignite the tinder dry grass when dropped. That's a scary thought.
  I pondered this reaction, this judgement, and realized the garbage is symptomatic of how we treat this beautiful, big blue ball we live on. Fast food bags are tossed out the car window. Wax coated coffee cups make up the bulk of roadside trash. The environmentally sound practice of recycling isn't such a great idea. The open blue bins holding plastics, tins, and papers when placed at the curb are targets of the wind. The trash gets scattered far and wide. There needs to be a design improvement so this doesn't happen. They should have lids.
  Stewardship, like friendship and relationship, is another big ship. They make up a triangle. The strongest structure known to man.
  "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." 1 Cor 4:2

Monday, 15 August 2016

More Triple T's by Susan L.

  I ended up having a nice walk last night. It's been a couple of days because of heat and much needed rain. It also ended up that there was company waiting up the road. A woman from the trailer park behind my place was about to take her dogs for a walk. When she followed me into the park, it made sense to turn, introduce myself and suggest we walk together. I admit having someone four or five paces behind me made me a bit nervous even if she was tiny. The dogs were big.
  When I said my name, she asked if I was the one playing the beautiful music on the piano, that the owner of the park had told her who was playing. She went on to say she'd stood out of sight at the end of my driveway for a long time listening and enjoying what amounted to a private concert a few times.
  Wow. What a blessing: to bless others simply by being who I am and doing what I do.
  She is way more fit than me, having to walk the dogs twice a day. She kindly allowed me to set the pace. Walking and talking? There's still a way to go but, by having someone else with me, the time spent on the trails doubled. Some of them were new to me, having never walked them before.
  Hmmmm. New trails. Something to think about.
  Last Thursday, the executive director was at work. We ended up doing an employee evaluation even though I wasn't "on the clock". My boss here in Alliston asked if she could sit in during the interview. Her presence was welcomed. Afterwards she said it was simply because she knew how hard I could be on myself.
  One of the questions was about being familiar with local resources. Not that there's many here in town anyways. Those that are constantly shift their focus or role. I felt like I'd dropped the ball. Having my boss remind me that because of only working part time, there's no way to stay on top of it was incredibly freeing.
  I don't have to be good at everything! Besides, part of what I've done recently was put together a resource binder with all the various organizations' literature rather than having a chaotic display on the bulletin board.
  It's impossible to have all the answers.
  In the true Krasman philosophy of looking for and encouraging an individual's strengths, the rest of the interview flowed. Sometimes it's nice to see yourself through someone else's eyes. It ain't all bad after all. That's not to say there isn't room for improvement. There always is.
  I have no idea what the future will bring. New trails for sure. Letting go and letting in for sure.
  I'll need Your help, Lord, to be firm with boundaries yet let the boundaries be set in love and with love. Help me to speak up for what I believe, to clarify those beliefs, to stand tall and confident in and through my faith. Help keep that confidence from becoming conceit. I also need your help with grace and forgiveness, compassion and understanding.
  There is always room for improvement.
  Lord, give me wisdom that surpasses mere knowledge.
  Help me clearly discern the difference between the devil's condemnation and the Holy Spirit's conviction. Help me throw out the devil's handiwork in all aspects of my life. Help me trust even further the leading of the Holy Spirit. Help me act according to His will.
  Help me embrace the trails ahead without rancor or bitterness about the trails left behind.
  These things I pray in Jesus' name. Amen!!
  "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage." Ps 84:5

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Triple T: Thinking Things Through by Susan L.

   Recent circumstances have led me to solidify my faith, what I believe in and to examine my world view. I spent all of yesterday writing. Journaling is probably more of an apt description. Much of it ended up being prayer. While putting thoughts down honestly and candidly, without censorship, much became crystal clear. The good and the bad.
  It was a good exercise and one that will probably continue because it's like building a stone foundation. With Christ as my cornerstone of course! If I only have a vague idea where I stand on important issues it is easy to fall into the old patterns of doing anything to simply get along with others. Being silent is not the same as agreeing. It's not healthy. Floundering about doing nothing but agreeing with everyone is so incredibly detrimental to my own well being.
  I needed to know what I believe. With that knowledge is the ability to stand tall and strong in what amounts to being key components of my own identity.
  Yesterday's post about sensitivity is only one aspect to be solidified yet, as I was writing yesterday, I was able to acknowledge the negative side to being a sensitive person.
  Being brutally honest, the majority of my blogs, while often candid, are not the full story. Much is censored. Sensitive to hurting anyone who may be reading it has ended up causing hurt anyways. I am torn, now. This is a public forum. Do I totally open up regardless of my readers? Or, do I rethink the purpose of doing it nearly every day?
  So, why am I even sitting here typing in the first place? The blog grounds my day in Christ. It has been a forum for many Triple T's. Maybe if I didn't live alone and had another person in my life to explore topics I've blogged about, the blog wouldn't exist. It is an opportunity to bounce ideas around and to find God's truth.
  Relationships. Friendships. These are pretty big ships.
  It's hard to relate to others outside of the centre. I admit that my life is all about recovery or dis-covery. My job isn't just a job. It's a way of life, this seeking to be a better person than I am. It's the same for everyone there. We share a common, united purpose. There's an unconditional acceptance for all and the place they are in. There's no effort to fix someone or to change according to another's viewpoint about how your own life should look. How incredibly freeing and such a demonstration of love! We do encourage each other to be better than we are without condemnation. We also celebrate victories and milestones with utter delight. I stand witness to the incredible resiliency of each and every individual there. As the line from the movie Avatar goes, "I see you."
  Why is it so hard for me to meet others where they are at outside of the centre? No. That's not true. At all. At least, not all the time. I am only human after all. And I think I need to do some journaling about fear.
  "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 with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph 4:1-3

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Behind the Veil by Susan L.

  I've spent most of this last week facing down some old enemies, struggling to embrace my identity, and hoping to come to the truth. Collaging, prayer, waiting, listening as the ghosts made themselves known has helped that happen. It's all about holding things up to the Light. Most of the time, the mis-truths, the half truths and the outright lies end up crisped to ashes. It's sad how quickly I am to assume the negative things people say are true yet it's so hard to believe the good things. It's been my experience that it's the good things that have been twisted into places of shame and self-loathing.
  I am so incredibly thankful that the Lord helps me find the way past the sin of disbelief and self-condemnation regarding the gifts He has given me. I am so thankful He forgives me, helps me forgive myself and those who have caused me to believe these things.
  Time after time I've been told I am too sensitive. It's left me squirming and wondering why things bothered me so much. It had me wondering why I couldn't be tougher or have a thicker skin. Thank You, Lord, for helping me realize my shoes are the only ones I have to wear.
  Sensitivity is not a flaw!
  This is a gift!
  It enables me to create beautiful images using the subtle nuances of shape, colour, form, and texture that express deep emotions.
  It means I can play the piano, exploring melodies without sheet music. It is the song of my soul and spirit: sad, joyful, loud, soft, harsh, sweet, longing and a love that's so overwhelming it feels like my heart is going to explode.
  It means that same heart fills with utter childish delight at the beauty in a teeny, tiny mushroom or a vast, star lit sky.
  It means that same heart breaks to see another human hurting.
  It means I'll try my hardest to bring light into the darkness. It means knowing what to say or do isn't anything I can do on my own. Sometimes it means simply sitting in silence. It's being sensitive to the dynamics of the moment.
  It means I can be kind and gentle and patient, that there's an ample helping of grace in there, too.
  It means knowing the sound of my Master's Voice and being able to sense His wonderful and awesome Presence every waking moment. Listening and being obedient? It's a work in progress but becoming easier all the time.
  It means being able to discern Truth. It means knowing the lies by their foul taste and bitter bite.
  It means I am becoming more able to discern who to trust or who is untrustworthy. At first, I wondered if this was a judgement thing but it isn't because there are people out there who are unable to bear that trust. Trust, too, is a gift.
  It means I can identify ugly: hurtful words, prejudice, spitefulness, bitterness, cruelty...
  It means I hate ugly. Passionately. Without reserve or hesitation.
  Yet, at the same time I cannot hate people. It's toxic. It's radioactive waste. Being able to express anger or frustration or sorrow or to talk about hurts isn't the same as hate. Turning the pain over to God in an honest dialog is cathartic and necessary because these things are poison to the soul. Sometime it means relying on others to help.
  It means I cannot and will not bear ill will against those who have hurt me. At least, I will try. It's a process. Being angry isn't the same as hate.
  It means never wanting to do harm to another person. Although, it happens, despite the best of intentions. I freely admit I am a broken person living in a broken world.
  It means life is lived experientially and in the moment. Light, shadow, fragrance, sound...God.  Disappearing into a book or watching a movie stops me from being overwhelmed by the greatness and complexity of the inner and outer universe. It also explains why goal setting is so challenging. It's not now!
  It means the ability to be hurt deeply or experience the full flavours of joy. Yet, now I think I am okay with the idea of being hurt again. It means I am fully immersed in life. It means I'll have to reach for God to uphold me, to heal me, to love me.
  It means knowing there's so incredibly much to be thankful for.
  I've shared before about how much of my life was lived unknowingly under a blanket of depression. Yet, in order to survive, I also learned how to squash emotion as a defense.
  To have those emotions set free, to embrace sensitivity, is a gift of untold dimension.
  Sensitivity is not a character flaw after all.
  "If indeed you have heard Him and been taught by Him, as the truth is Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:21-24

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Dream Catcher by Susan L.

  My mention of a dream catcher created quite the response by one of my readers. It's given me pause for thought about whether or not it's something that has a place in the house. I admit not thinking about its designated purpose of warding off evil spirits or bad dreams. It was more of a camp craft than anything although when they were purchased, there were some misgivings. God forgive me for ignoring that voice.
  The feather quest began years ago, starting when I was a new Christian. When things were really bad and I had the energy to go for a walk, there would often be an unusual feather or pebble along the trail. God didn't give me diamonds to show how much He loved me, He left these natural treasures as love tokens. They were tangible, understandable, and greatly appreciated. Finding one often moved me to tears of gratitude that there was finally Someone, Jesus, in my life who would never leave me nor forsake me.
  The dream catcher has been lying on a table. I've been eyeballing it like a three dollar bill, reluctant to do anything with it. To be honest, my idea to decorate it with God's gifts doesn't sit right with me. It never did. I just ignored the misgivings. It's not because of any sort of religious propriety, or rule keeping, or even fear. The two simply don't belong together. My heart knows it. My soul knows it. My spirit knows it.
  By merely amassing feathers for a project, I've taken God's gifts and made them into my own mundane, artsy-craftsy objective. Forgive me for that, too, my Lord.
  Thank you, anonymous, for stating so clearly what I knew in my heart and for helping me find the way.
  "While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." Acts 10:44-45

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Hup, Two, Three, Four by Susan L.

  The thought last night was a walk would be a good chance to have some prayer time. Instead, I found myself marching steadily along and softly whistling marching music. Some of the songs were old melodies from the war. Others were made up fragments that wove around the crunching beat of my feet. The sound of trumpets, woodwinds and booming drums filled my head.
  I almost wished I still had my piccolo to play while tromping through the various ecosystems of the park. I owned one years ago but found practicing it hurt my ears. Whistling will have to do. I doubt there's lung capacity to play and hike anyways.
  These walks have also turned into a feather quest. While camping, I made a dream catcher. It was a kit that came with some sorry looking chicken feathers. It felt like a good idea to replace them with feathers from birds more associated with the great outdoors. So far there's several Blue Jay feathers, a brown spotted one and one that has a yellow shaft and a hint of yellow along the edges. Those two are courtesy of mystery birds. There's a plethora of Canada goose feathers that can stay where they are.
  The walks are going well. My strength and stamina are rapidly improving. Enough so that an extra section has been added to the trails I normally follow. This passes through a pine plantation to a small creek that feeds the lake. A great blue heron got his dinner interrupted last night. I'd love one of those feathers!
  As part of what is needed for the trip down east, I bought a watch. Wasn't that a tough choice! I wanted one with an alarm because a ticking travel clock drives me clear round the bend! It ended up being a man's digital that also has a stopwatch and is waterproof. The band (ladies watches were too small) is made from soft strapping so it doesn't chafe. Ideal for hiking.
  So last night's trek was timed. The fifty-two minutes were duly recorded on my calendar. It made me smile. It seems I have a goal. Yup. Seven K by September.
  "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life." Rom 6:22

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Organized by Susan L.

  I keep looking but have no idea what I am looking for. It feels like doing a puzzle that's all one colour and maybe missing a piece or two.
  As much as taking a pen and writing down a list isn't my strong point, perhaps it might be a good idea to think about the questions that seem to be part of this intangible seeking.
  Lord, You have all the answers. Help me ask the right questions.
  I've been thinking this morning about all sorts of things. A lot of it is about the circumstances of my birth. Yes, God predestined me, He chose the hour of my being and...

  This is taking a long time to type...

  Rejection. A lifetime of not feeling good enough. A lifetime of not feeling loveable. A lifetime of circumstances that fed into the lie. I'd initially typed "choices" but that places the responsibility of the choices others made square on my shoulders. It took far too long to break the burden of false responsibility that I am not prepared to shoulder it again. I have accepted my role. And been forgiven.
  Abandonment. Going it alone. Again. Having to be so d*** self sufficient.
  Fear. Of abandonment and rejection. Living based on the understanding that that's what's going to happen anyways. God forgive me. Having to be so d*** self sufficient.
  Yet, if someone was to offer help, I don't know if I could accept it. Back to the F word.
  This is one butt ugly hamster wheel. I am terribly tired of it.

  Lord, that's enough for today.
  "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 beforehand that we should walk in them." Eph 2:8-10

Monday, 8 August 2016

Meandering Hike by Susan L.

  The Gibsons are a local family who started off with a couple of trucks. After Honda moved into town, they quickly expanded and are now a huge operation. It seems I can't drive anywhere without seeing one of their rigs. They are a generous family, not only supporting local arts but they also offer this piece of land as a haven for hikers. It's a five minute drive from my place.
  The sandy path meanders through second growth forests and a couple of meadows. Like everywhere else, the ground and trees are panting for moisture. The first part of the trail is a slow incline from the parking area that leads to a rather stiff climb to the top of the hill. I had to rest...uh, I couldn't resist picture taking!
  The odd time a chipmunk rustled in the brush. A red squirrel swore at this intrepid intruder. The birds were quiet. The cicadas made enough noise for everybody. I did spot a toad that was sunning itself on the path. Or should I say, it spotted me. It was only because it moved that I saw it.
  It was hot in the sun but not unbearably so. Still, when the path meandered through the woods, the shade was a delight.
  As I walked, I found myself composing this post. What I would share, how it would be worded. It felt as though my readers were walking with me. Which was nice. There was nobody else in the area. There'd been a group just leaving when I pulled up. Some days it can be rather busy.
  There was a constant hum of trucks and cars that pervaded the area except when I climbed down into a steep sided ravine. The sound of silence was loud. There are so few areas where human activity doesn't make itself known. Even way up north at Grundy, there were trains rumbling and whistling not too far away.
  When I finally reached the top of the long climb, the path follows cultivated fields and opens up to a spectacular view of the countryside. It made me realize how much of the area is blanketed with forest. I suppose, like the Gibson Hills, it's simply too hilly to cultivate. The patchwork of forest, newly harvested wheat fields, farmsteads and rolling hills is breathtaking. I'd put in an order for photogenic clouds.
  One thing about climbing hills, you have to climb back down. The grade was steep at first then wove it's way around lumps and bumps laid down in the last ice age. Boulders and chunks of granite peeped out of the undergrowth, also souvenirs of the last deep freeze. Folks around here call them "leaviters", short for "leave it there because it's simply too darn big to move!" There's a scientific name for them but it eludes me right now.
  Some of the trees in this area of the trail are much older. These towering sugar maples had to have been seedlings long before I was born. I'll be sure to come back in the fall when they are dressed in crimson glory.
  Along with the well marked human trails, there were signs of other wildlife using the area. Flattened grass pathways leading off to the side showed where deer had passed frequently. The grim find of a few bits of raccoon fur was evidence of coyotes. That gave me some pause but I know they are afraid of people. At least there haven't been any bear sightings...recently.
  The trail ends where it began. Crisscrossing the meadow are paths not seen from a lower vantage point. It made me think of choices made and choices yet unmade. That one path will lead, well, somewhere and another somewhere else. Where that final destination will be, remains to be seen.
  "But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels." Heb 12:22


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Seeking by Susan L.

  Yesterday was spent with my folks, having a lovely visit and enjoying their air conditioning.  
  When I had DNA testing done to find out my heritage, I'd talked to the only mom I've ever known about what she knew regarding my birth. She told me she still had the adoption papers and would gladly give them to me.
  She gave me an envelope yesterday with a kindergarden report card, a few from high school, highland dancing certificates, my baptism and confirmation certificates. There were a ton of memories released.
  Lastly was the original adoption paper. On it is the name I was born under. There's a cauldron of emotion swirling around as a result. There's also the big question about whether or not I want to take it further and actually find the woman who brought me into this world. It's a scary thought. The "what if's" are stampeding.
  Lord, I have no idea why this seems to be so important for me. It's not that I don't love my parents, I truly do. The last thing I want is for this quest of mine to hurt them.
  Maybe it's because there seems to be a desperate need for answers...
  I've been struggling lately with coming to terms with the mental health issues I face every day. It's a cyclical thing that bubbles up every once in a while until, once again, I make peace with it. The med mistake I made earlier this year gave me a glimpse into a life without them. It left me shocked and rather sad.
  That's part of this. I know genetics play a role. I wonder if there's other family members who struggle.
  It's about feeling alone. Simply knowing I've a couple hundred or so living relatives because of a service provided by the DNA testing company, has helped a lot in that regard. Yet, I wonder why the heritage I was adopted into seems, somehow, to be less than mine...
  Lots of deep thinks. Lots of prayer.
  Right now, I think I need to go for a hike.
  "Shepherd Your people with Your staff, the flock of Your heritage." Mic 7:14

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Icebergs by Susan L.

  A neat analogy was shared during a conversation yesterday as part of a dialog on judgement. How, in looking at how people live or behave or their choices and offering any comment about those things, it's judgement. The analogy was that our lives and other people's lives are like icebergs. Only a fraction of what we see is above the water, the rest is hidden from sight. Who are we to judge based on the one third that we see?
  I struggle with judgement all the time. It's a slippery devil.
  Although, when someone commented when Christians pray for strangers (the example was a turbaned man), we are judging them because they aren't Christians. Hmmm, I've had to think about that a bit. It sort of rocked my world and required clarifying my concept of what we, as Christians, are called to do.
  Thank You, Lord, for showing me that those prayers are love offerings. Care must be taken that it isn't because we condemn another's life but truly and simply want them to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Then judgement isn't part of the picture anymore.
  I frequently hear of damage and hurt and pain caused by Christians. It breaks my heart just how cruel we can be when the Bible is used as a weapon of judgement instead of a "How To" guide to life.
  Judgement is easier than looking in the mirror. A path of grace, compassion, forgiveness, and love is hard. It isn't meant to be easy otherwise we could do it all by ourselves and would have no need for Jesus in our life.
  I pray that the bottom two thirds of my iceberg contains more of Christ.
  "And Jesus, answering them, began to say, "Take heed that no one deceives you."" Mk 13:5

Friday, 5 August 2016

Lessons in Art by Susan L.

  I didn't go for a walk last night. It was our last art therapy group until mid-September. The woman who runs it is waiting to start again after I get back from down east. Bless her heart!
  There was a show on TVO last night about the Group of Seven. This group of artists changed the face of Canadian painting. (It can be streamed online.)
  I'd seen it before but that was before I'd been up to Algonquin park. It was only after being there that I truly understood why the group loved painting in the north. Not only is it beautiful but there's a softness to the light. I've always loved the fact that most of their paintings have an abstract flavour. They were simply trying to put the illusive light on canvas.
  I learned a lot that I'd missed last time.
  While doing my watercolours in Grundy, I felt pressured because I believed it was necessary to put exactly what I saw on paper. In an interview, one of the artists was talking about the need to pull key elements out of any landscape so the artist is actually capturing the essence of a landscape not the actual view. I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. I've never had patience to do anything remotely like the high realism often favoured by wildlife painters. It left me feeling my own artistic ventures were less than ideal
  It's helped me look at my own work from a different perspective. The little watercolour sketches I did in Grundy do capture the essence of the landscape without getting bogged down in the details.      
  Although, I would have liked to put the silver wakes of the water beetles in the moon scene but it would have to be painted in acrylics to accomplish that.
  (Note to self: when painting in Nova Scotia, be sure to tape the paper onto the board so the edges are square. :D)
  It feels as though a whole new world has opened up. I like that!
  "For we dare not classify ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us--a sphere which is especially intended for you." 2 Cor 10:12-13

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Rambling by Susan L.

  I ended up having a lovely day yesterday. Rather spontaneously, I had a friend over. We threw together a wonderful dinner of chicken, a couple of salads and ended with fresh fruit and ice cream. The conversation flowed. We had some laughs, shared some tears, then went for a meandering amble through the park.
  As we were strolling leisurely through the campground area, she spotted a teeny tiny baby snake that was probably fresh out of the egg. To us, the pavement looked smooth but watching it weave around the protruding lumps of tarmac and stone made me realize, on a macro level, it sure wasn't smooth!
  It's all about perspective.
  Hmmm. There's a lesson in there somewhere.
  I guess from God's view, our paths are smooth but for those of us in the thick of it, it sometimes seems lumpy, bumpy, and full of obstructions. Snake philosophy 101.
  And that's it for today. I've an early start for a staff training day. We're having a guest speaker come in and do a Safe Talk lecture, the precursor to Suicide Prevention.
  "I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High." Ps 7:17


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Deep Thinks by Susan L.

  I'm just going to let my brain cruise the Black River for a bit. There's some unhealthy ideas sailing around the ole gray matter. They can be called unGodly beliefs or "Stinking thinking". Really they are simply lies that have cemented themselves into my subconscious and have a way of corrupting my world view. So much so, they affect my behaviour and influence choices.
  This isn't going to be easy.
  The first concept that pops into my head is that people can't be trusted. Okay. Perhaps that has been historically accurate. But there's a promise in there, "No one will ever get close enough to hurt me ever again." The promise is based on a judgement that people in general are not trustworthy. Really, that's neither fair nor true. It's a case of bad apples spoiling the lot. (Lord, help me find a deeper forgiveness for those who have betrayed me.)
  Letting go of distrust, suspicion and downright fear is going to take a whole whack of God. It also means placing my trust in Him that He will place people into my life worthy of trust. My role is to be vulnerable and with the Holy Spirit's help, be discerning. The discerning part is terribly important! Yet, even in that, I have been relying on my own broken intuition, not God's guidance. (Forgive me, Abba.)
  Whenever I am in a group, I can literally feel the guard go up. The watching, the waiting, the sitting in a corner with my face to the door for safety. I can't pray in a group with my eyes closed. These are behaviours that can be changed. (Maybe I could close one eye to start.) Changed behaviour creates a changed mind. "Fake it 'til you make it!"
  It's also lonely being in this place. Making new friends while there's a war going on is hard. Common sense is fighting against the razor sharp, instinctual responses of watch, be careful, be prepared.
  Okay, "Be Prepared" is the motto of the Girl Guides, something that was a huge part of my life for many years. I am old enough to ask, "Be prepared for what?"
  Covering all the bases is exhausting! Funny that the idea of being prepared for a good time simply isn't there but heads straight for the natural disaster, the worst case scenario. Talk about a Chicken Little existence!
  It's an existence isn't it?
  Perhaps I am ready for life...
  Lord, I lift this up to You. Help me forgive not only others but myself as well. Help me change and grow. Help me walk a life in the safety and security of Your love. Help me receive that love and embrace all that it means. Without it, my life is sand.
  "I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength." Prov 8:12-14

Monday, 1 August 2016

Bonus! by Susan L.

  I've talked about Earl Rowe Conservation area so often and the fact that it's at my front door has made me take it for granted. Before the heat got too bad, it seemed prudent to go for my daily walk. I took the camera so I can share the wonders of a path in the park.
  The longer path, whose entrance is further up the road, meanders up one side of the river, crosses over a pair of bridges and an island, then leads back to the entrance closest to my house. It takes about fifty minutes to walk.

  Most of the time, the lake or river can be seen from the path. Because it's a long weekend, there were many paddlers out enjoying the water. Motorboats are forbidden. I forget that for people in Toronto, we are the north!
  Within the thousand acres that make up the park, there's picnic spots, campsites, a pool, a beach, and many other trails to hike. This one is merely the closest to my house. One of the trails overlooks the entire valley where the park is. I haven't quite got to hiking hills yet.
  There are a variety of waterfowl and wading birds who grace the wetlands. There's a variety of song birds because there's a variety of habitats within the park. The water attracts Canada geese, blue and green herons, gulls, cormorants and even several Kingfishers. The Kingfishers seem to be as foul tempered as a red squirrel in that they are quick to chatter swear words at you when disturbed.
  Once the campers leave for the season, I've seen deer and even a beaver merrily munching some young poplar.
  The path is lined with a variety of wildflowers in yellow, white and purple. Raspberries love the location as much as I love the taste. The fruit is small this year but still provides a burst of flavour that has been warmed by the sun. I made a mistake once and popped a wild grape into my mouth. It was so sour my entire mouth caved in!
  There are turtles but it seems every year something digs up their nests. At Grundy, the park staff asked to be informed where a nest was. It was covered with welded wire and heavy rocks to prevent the nest being plundered for someone's dinner. I wonder if Earl Rowe has the same sort of policy.
  Looking at this picture of the bridge, it all looks so cool and inviting! The temperature is in the low thirties today with humidity through the roof. Typical of this time of year.
  The cicadas were loud. Dragonflies in blue, red, black and white, and green were quick to flee when I got too near. The odd grasshopper also made flying leaps to escape this towering human. There's butterflies, bees, and a gazillion other bugs who make the area their home. I do hate walking through a spider's web, though. Mosquito repellent kept not only mosquitoes at bay but also the even more annoying deer flies. Worse are horse flies over an inch long that seem to tear a chunk of flesh out when they bite. Thank you, OFF bug spray!
  It's nice to go for a walk in the evening. Watching the fish jump out of the water to feast on what was feasting on us gives a great deal of satisfaction. Some of the fish are quite large and can leap clear out of the water! There's also huge catfish sifting through the mud along the bottom of the river for whatever it is catfish eat.
  This cedar lined path means I am almost home.
  Thank You, Lord, there is such beauty and diversity a few steps away.
  "Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with understanding." Ps 48:6-7

Walking Wary by Susan L.

  The Lord has helped me be faithful to my desires to walk a bit every day. Even yesterday's pitiful, mizzling rain whose only purpose was to bring out the mosquitoes didn't stop me. (Lord, we need much more!) I'd walked on the road the day before but find the loop in the conservation area much easier because the path is softer. An added bonus is the uneven ground which means more muscles are being used. Except for the whining bugs, it felt good. Even after three days I can feel the difference. The boots are breaking in nicely.
  Usually a walk in the park means a slow meander with the keen focus of being mindful of what's around me. I had to remind myself that even walking at a good pace, there is much to see. The macro treasures can wait for another day.
  I am still amazed at the damage Easter's ice storm did. It hit me as well how much an area of planted pines has grown, seemingly over night. The branches are almost touching over the path. It's one of my favorite parts on the loop because of the sweet fragrance.
  On a completely different note, last week I received a total of four pre-recorded messages. It started off " to inform you that your name has been included..." It went on to say that some sort of legal action was imminent. Unless I took action right away, there would be dire financial consequences. They left a toll free number to call. Which I did to get them to stop harassing me. The number was out of service.
  Can you spell "scam"?
  First of all, the agency calling was nameless. Secondly, they didn't use my name at all. It makes me so angry that there are criminals out there who manipulate the truth for personal financial gain. It makes me even angrier that they use the phone to invade the sanctity of my home. And even though I called the number it was with grave concerns that somehow they could connect to my phone line for other nefarious purposes. Too much CSI I guess. Or maybe it's being savvy and alert.
  There was one a while back, a caller claiming to be from a well known internet provider claiming they'd found a problem with my computer. I followed along, turning on the computer, asking questions but when I informed the caller I didn't have internet, he hung up. He was absolutely up to no good!
  These situations merely drive home the necessity of being especially wary of unsolicited calls.
  "Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me," says the Lord." Jer 9:6