Monday, April 30, 2012

My Friend Vera

Today I spent some time reflecting on a few of my special friendships and the interesting ways I met some of these people.

One special friend in particular, Vera, lives only an hour or so away from here, but I met her by fluke many miles away in Moose Jaw several years ago.   

I was waiting for a transit bus downtown one afternoon when Vera appeared at the bus stop. She and her husband were making one of their last trips to the mineral springs spa there, knowing he was dying of cancer and wouldn't last many more months.  Vera walked up to me at the bus stop and asked for transit directions to the local shopping mall. We got talking and she shared her pain over her husband's situation.  We talked some more, and found out we are both Anglicans.  My husband had not yet been ordained and she was interested in the mentoring and ordination processes. We talked and talked.  The bus arrived and we got on together still talking.  We talked all the way to the mall where she got off and I continued with my own errands elsewhere.  A couple of hours later, on my way home, Vera got on the bus again to go back to the hotel and the conversation began again between us.  When we both got off the bus at the same stop we exchanged email addresses and promised to keep in touch.

Over the next year we did exchange a couple of emails.  Then one day my phone rang and it was Vera calling to say she was in Moose Jaw with her husband for the last time.  He wanted so much to come once more with her for the shared trip but was too ill to leave the hotel room.  We met for coffee and talked for 2 hours. It was wonderful.


We started discussing churches in our shared Diocese that were seeking priests and Vera mentioned one of  the churches at which my husband now serves.  She mentioned that her daughter and son in law attended it.  She told us many good things about the people there.  Once again we promised to keep in touch.  And we did. We were able to cry together when her husband succumbed to the cancer he had fought a brave battle with.  We ran into each other a couple of times in Regina over the next few months and talked some more.  It was a lovely coincidence each time that we ended up in the same stores at the same time, each arriving from our separate towns of residence to shop in the "big city".

A year or so later my husband accepted the clergy position at Vera's daughter's church.  What a joy to see more of Vera, and get to know not only her daughter and husband, but also her granddaughter and great granddaughter who visit her often.

Great granddaughter Lily is a joy....I believe I have posted previously about her antics in church.  Last weekend she was at our spaghetti fundraising dinner and full of life as usual.  At one point in the evening she began hauling people she knew out of the hall and into the church, leading them to the communion rail where she staggered along toting a huge brass water pitcher, blonde pigtails flapping, serving up the communion in her own adorable way.  It was the cutest thing ever.


So by getting to know Vera I have not only made a close friend in her, but am getting to know her delightful family as well.  Vera is a strong and passionate woman, full of life in her senior years, full of fun and energy, and full of love for her church, her family and her friends.


What a blessing for me to fall into her charmed circle of aquaintances.

Trips to Japan by Friends

In recent weeks we have heard from several friends who, for one reason and another, are heading to Japan for visits of varying lengths. We wish them all safe travel and wonderful visits to that amazing country.

Surprisingly, neither myself nor my husband feel any sort of draw now to return there, after hoping for years it could come about.  The envy we would have experienced is simply not there this year.  The desire to return used to be nearly smothering in its intensity, but now it would be merely a great treat, not a barely suppressed need.

Possibly the change in response has been triggered by a new sense of contentment for my husband in his current employment. The switch into full time ministry has certainly been a factor in improved health, both physical and emotional. While I still struggle to fit into the culture here, I have a sense of peace about being where we are to be in the world that I have lacked before.  While peace and happiness don't always begin hand in hand, slowly over the past 7 years on the prairies I have come to accept the possibility that here we may stay. 

Of course for me, the lack of desire to return overseas may be due to all the paper work I have to get declaring the metal hardware in my ankle to the airport boarding inspectors and their metal detectors.  A winter of inactivity has certainly stripped me of motivation to do much of anything requiring effort!! 


Could my newfound peace actually be a complacent laziness???  Naaaaaaa.........couldn't be......could it???? Naaaaaa.....although...........heehee

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hurting for a Friend

Today has been a tough day for a friend of ours and we are hurting about it with him.  After an exhaustive weekend of interviews about possible future work he was not recommended by the interviewing panel, and for ridiculous reasons.  He was accused of not understanding the culture he works in, has in fact worked in successfully for several years and from which he brought important recommendations that were supposed to assist him in his acceptance for this new position. Essentially, despite evidence to the contrary supplied by the people he currently works with, he was accused of racial and cultural stereotyping by this panel of so called "experts", none of whom actually work or live in that culture.  He is understandably devastated.  He has spent years learning to live in and be accepted by the people of that culture.  He has lived through enormous stress and strain to achieve what many of us have attempted and failed to achieve in cross cultural work. Yet, he used a couple of words and phrases in his interview that set off the alarm bells of politically correct liberalism and so he is paying for that with a devastating loss.  There is one person with more authority than the interviewing panel who has supported his efforts right from the beginning, and we  hope and pray this person will be able to make this mess go away so our friend can continue in the direction he has poured his life into.  
Probably many of us have been unfairly dealt with in the workforce at one time or another. My husband and I certainly have been and so we are filled with empathizing disappointment for our friend.  May he be delivered from this hurt and go on with his life knowing he was dealt a bad hand, but that he will not die from it despite the present wounding.
Hang in there dear friend and we hope for justice to be done.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Allowing Others to Learn Their Own Lessons

I was brought up short this morning about my own behaviour in taking on other peoples' responsibilities for their own actions. I have been doing a few things no one has asked me to do to protect some folk from possible unhappy consequences.  My co-dependent tendencies are showing, my wish to prevent all pain for all people,  and I am glad it was pointed out to me.

As Christians, motivated by love for our fellow human beings, we can certainly mess up that very love we are charged by Jesus to hone and develop for each other.  It is a situation of having knowledge without the wisdom and discernment to properly use it.

Too often we redefine 1 Corinthians 13's discussion of love as meaning we should not allow anyone to feel any consequences for their own choices.  Love then becomes, instead of a practical tool for creating the character changes God wants us to experience, a mushy, fuzzy, ideology that prevents real love's wisdom from winning out.  

We develop some kind of messiah complex in our attempts to love others.  We step in unbidden to protect the people we love from the pain they need to experience from a bad choice that will teach them valuable life lessons and result in better choices in the future. We can burn ourselves out in the process and become useless to everyone.


I am not saying there is never a time to be helpful or to step in with assistance when someone has made a mess of things. We just need to ask God for better discernment as to WHEN and HOW.  Sometimes love is expressed by taking on someone else's problem....isn't that what Jesus did for us on the cross?  Preventing eternal separation from God is what that is about for us.....should we choose to accept it. Other times we need to permit our loved ones to face their own consequences and learn to grow into the people they are meant to be.


And there is part of the problem for us as Christ's disciples. We don't always seek his evaluation of someone else's problem and do what is best for them, particularly if it means backing off, remaining content to simply pray, and allowing them to learn their own lessons.  Before Jesus was crucified he didn't run around stopping his followers, who were terrified they would also be rounded up and murdered, from denying they even knew him.  He knew they would do it, prophesied to them some facts about their own upcoming behaviour.  But he didn't step in and stop them.  He allowed them to learn their lessons from the way that they felt when they realized on their own what they had done in lying about being his followers in order to protect themselves.  Out of their disappointing initial behaviour, as they realized what they had done, grew the seeds of strong disciples spreading the gospel  throughout the earth.  First they suffered from their own behaviour and then they grew into who they needed to be.


Sometimes there is such a thing as tough love: seeing the good that comes from letting people experience the results of their own behaviour.  Sometimes we are called to step in and protect and have all manner of warm fuzzies going on in our relationships.

The question is when to do what. For that we need to be constantly seeking God and not making our own assumptions about what the most loving thing is to do for others.
  
No, it isn't easy sometimes to have that discernment. It often takes a lot of prayer and waiting for God's direction. That's why relationships, both with God and with each other, take so much work.  It seems they are supposed to.  It is how we discover what true compassion is all about.  Being a follower of Christ does not allow for complacency in relationships, in learning about true love.  

Time For a Gratitude Checkup!

As I was editing some blog posts just now I realized there has been a not so faint sound of whining and wingeing of late.  Hmmmm.......life is actually quite good!

So what am I most grateful for of late that has not been appearing regularly in my posts?

One of the biggest events I am grateful for is the way financial provision has been made available to my son so that he can start grad school in June.  If things continue he is going to have to borrow very little from student loan this term.  He received grants, retroactive pay raises, sold some more art, has the prospect of receiving some money that has been owed to him for quite awhile....it is all good.

I am grateful for the positive ministry review this past week and the visit we had with our bishop.  I am particularly grateful for our young bishop with his aged wisdom.

My husband's health restoration over the past 2 years is another biggie!  If it is not actually miraculous, it will suffice as my "miracles fix" for a long time to come. 

As we enter the age group where more friends are experiencing cancers, strokes, heart attacks and the like, I am grateful for today's medical breakthroughs that are bringing so much help and healing.

I am grateful for the consistent trajectory upward on my ankle's healing.  Yes there are some discouraging days, but no longer term set back to the healing process at this point.

The amazing wisdom of the biblical writings has hit me hard once again the past couple of weeks.  No matter what is going on each day, there are encouragements, scoldings with accompaning wisdom as to how to change problems within myself, advice for daily problems, discernments for confusing situations, steps to administer grace and healing in broken relationships,  and above all there is constant assurance of God's grace, love, mercy, and peace for the mind, soul and circumstance. 

The good relationships we have within our families is like the pearl of great price for us as we watch other families disintegrating due to ridiculous disputes over small issues.

I am grateful to live in Canada, despite looming political disaster on all fronts, grateful for the freedoms I still have here.  Freedoms must not be taken for granted and whatever we are in danger of losing in years to come due to our political apathy or lack of knowledge, for the moment we still have much freedom to revel in.


Good friends have been such a source of help to me in the past couple of years as I have sought to find a way to fit into the present cultural circumstance.  I will never cease to be grateful for all of them.


I am grateful for a good marriage.  As was recorded in earlier posts we did have our fun in the beginning, but have settled into a happy place of mutual respect, trust, and support.  May these years last at least awhile longer before we move into the place of caregivers for each other in our older age.


As much as I find the prairies a difficult place to be, I am grateful that I am not living in Antarctica or in a place where there are poisonous snakes or  massive ongoing generational epidemics of AIDS or no social assistance benefits to people who struggle with health and employment issues......


The list of thankfulness goes on and on but those are the things foremost in my mind today.

And now, back to the spaghetti dinner preparations....I am grateful for the fun and fellowship with the church ladies  that happens around these dinners. 

Tonight I will be the dishwasher extraordinaire sitting on my high stool at the church kitchen sink.  It is what I can contribute tonight as I can sit and rest my ankle.  


When It's Springtime On The Prairies

Q:  how do you know when spring has arrived on the prairies?
A:  when you wake up on April 29 to an inch of fresh snow! (after having temperatures of +27C the previous week)

And it is still coming down.  It is wet and heavy spring snow that should melt off as the day wears on.  That is, if it ever stops snowing today.  Perhaps it will remain above zero overnight so that the drive down to the other church in the morning will not be a nightmare.

Now I understand the weather forecast yesterday for "wintery mix", as there truly is a combination of rain, snow, sleet and even a teeny bit of ice here and there.

Well, one good thing is that our spaghetti dinner fundraiser will be packed out tonight. There will be no farmers farming today! 

Guess I will be driving the 3 blocks to my hair appointment this afternoon. I had hoped to walk today but the very idea of risking a fall gives me the shakes.  Sorry little old car but you will be called into service despite the muddy muck that constitutes the alleyway beside the garage.  It is SO muddy that as one person drives the car out of the garage, another person has to close the garage door since the driver can't possibly get out of the car do it.  Today the muck would be over the tops of my shoes. We have a good system between us, my husband and I, to alert the person staying home as to when to open the door again upon the driver's return.

Now all we have to do is discover where to get a load of pea gravel around here to cover all the mud with.  Apparently no one locally has that information as there isn't a hint of gravel left in any of the alleyways or unpaved driveways in this town.   

Welcome to spring, prairie style.  Shudder.........

Friday, April 27, 2012

Throbbing Ankle, Crouching Moi!

It is 4:30am and I am certainly wide awake!  For the past 4 days I have been living my life again as if the broken ankle had never happened:  cleaning house, cooking, walking for a few blocks here and there........and it is just too much too soon.  My ankle is letting me know it this morning! A few deep squats have relieved the main discomfort, but I need a couple of days in a row to do very little but rest it.

To be honest, this is the 3rd night in a row I have been awake with ankle discomfort and a bit more swelling again. The surgeon warned me. The physiotherapist warned me.  3 steps forward, then 1 step back. I have to remember this is a full year process for healing once physiotherapy starts, and it has only been 3 months.  I have 9 months to go here.

Today I am supposed to be helping my husband in the office this morning and then helping him and the church ladies in the kitchen this afternoon to prepare the spaghetti sauces for tomorrow evening's fund raising extravaganza.  I know how badly my husband needs the office help today so will do that.  Guess the spaghetti sauce prep is going to have to be axed from my schedule.  Sigh.......... There is nowhere to put a chair or stool in that little kitchen without being in the way.  I also know they don't really need my help but I like the visiting and fun....at least when I as the priest's wife am allowed to participate.

But now I need to rest my ankle instead. It is my own fault. How embarrassing.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Interesting Words and Phrases

Came across a couple of interesting things in some of my readings today.  

The first one is an old word, first used apparently in 1865 and meaning: musty, stale smelling, fetid etc.  The word is "frowsty" and it is new to me.  I read it this afternoon in the book The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Such a descriptive word, and used in the proper context the meaning was instantly apparent to me even though I had neither seen nor heard of it before. I like  rolling it around in my mouth:  froooooowwwwwsty. Cool, eh?

Then later on today I checked our local weather report on the internet and came across the forecast for this coming Saturday, labelled:  "wintery mix".  I've heard of a rain/snow mix before, but "wintery mix" is new to me.  Is it just a local expression, or one made up on the spur of the moment to fit into the tiny column on the internet site?  Is it incredibly common and only I have never heard of it before in regard to weather forecasting?  Dunno.....but I like the sound of it.  It could mean any combination of snow, rain, sleet, ice.....the mystery of "wintery mix" intrigues me. That one is a mouth roller as well:  wiiiiinnnnnterrreeeee MIX!!!  You sneak up on it slowly with the first word, drawing it out quietly and smoothly, and then when your mind is lulled by the quiet smoothness you shout MIX at the top of your lungs and with great emphasis. Maybe my husband could slip that into a sermon sometime when someone is sleeping through it.  That would indeed get their attention!  teehee

I am uber bored today................

The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly in THEIR Plain...

....because we certainly don't have any here despite predictions to the contrary!  For the past few days we have had rain predicted and so some of the farmers have held off from seeding, hoping the ground would have a bit of moisture with which to welcome the wee seeds. Today we have grey skies, cool temperatures, and strong winds continuing to dry the top soil. 

Each time a new prediction for rain is broadcast the ticket sales for our spaghetti night fundraiser at the church this weekend begin to climb. If we finally get rain we will be packed out with dinner guests who can't get on the land that day.

I was certain the rain was pouring all last night. The wind was pounding what I thought were raindrops against the side of the house.  It turned out to be leaves and twigs rather than raindrops.  Good strong winds were picking up bits of debris from the ground and slamming them into the siding.

The temperatures have dropped significantly in the past couple of days as well. From highs of +26C we dropped to about +9C in a few hours. Surely that means rain is coming soon. 

No......wait a minute......this is prairie in the spring.  More likely we will get snow. We will pay a heavy price for the warm and relatively snow free winter.  I just know it! I am learning......weather pessimism is well grounded in fact and experience here.

Am I falling victim to it? Am I too becoming a weather pessimist??? Oh no!!  I have definitely lived here too long!!  I am becoming a prairie-ite. Say it isn't so........

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

All is Well Apparently

Rather sleepy this morning after a very late night chat with our bishop.  But it was good......the review went quite well and the only concerns brought forward were that my husband rest enough to remain healthy and that the bishop not move him on for years to come.  

So right now we are in the sweet spot.  Don't know how long that will last, but it is wonderful for the moment.  Our people have been acting lately as if they are feeling more stable and a bit more encouraged to keep on, to start being more available to help with the needs of the parish, and just last night an idea for visiting those on the fringes of the group was brought forward by a parishioner.

I love these people.  They managed to keep their churches running successfully on two different occasions, and rather close together those occasions were, with no priest or other ordained clergy available to them more than once a month or less.  They are strong willed and they used that to their advantage.  

So we shall see what is to come.....so far so good.......   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pins and Needles Tonight

I am sitting here feeling somewhat anxious this evening. Our diocesan bishop is here for the 2 year ministry review of our parish.  Yes, my husband will be reviewed but so will his congregations and parish as a whole ministry.  I have no doubt that the evening is growing ever more interesting as the hours crawl by.  Hopefully the wonderful curried chicken dinner we started with will soften everyone one up! hohohoho!!!  

My prayer is that all our people who require it will receive a big reality check as to the resources available to do the ministry and mission here. The folk who comprise our congregations are working hard, working as well as they can when so many are out of town now for so much of the year or farming frantically once again, but we simply don't have enough of them to do all the tasks and my husband can't keep up this pace much longer.  Many rural pastors of all denominations are in the same boat to one degree or another.  So many congregations are in denial about what else needs to be done to change the church into something viable and important once again in a growing secular community.  

Change....why are we so afraid of it?  It seems we would rather pass away with a whimper than have to change the way we do church.  As a very free thinking type I have to confess I don't understand the reluctance surrounding this issue.  I completely understand why so many young families, even those who grew up quite happily in the church, now find it irrelevent. In some cases the gods of sport, dance, and gymnastic competitions, travelling for other types of service organizations, or just sleeping in are too much fun to be resisted, so much more glamorous than hard wooden pews and songs from the last century. 

BUT we need each other, and we need the Christian community that we find in the Church.  As much as the goings on in the Church as a whole frustrates, irritates and sometimes frightens even me, I love the Church.  We are supposed to  be an outward expression of the compassion and unity of the Trinity.  We are failing big time so often, and yet we still need to hang in and learn to change.

We can do it. God says so. He sends his Holy Spirit to help us when allow him to do so.  

God WILL build his church and the gates of hell will, ultimately, not prevail against it.  In Matthew 16: 18 Jesus said so.

I believe him.  Let's get back into the church community and work together to make it what it needs to be.

  

The Alberta Election

Well, in typical Alberta fashion, voters have negated every poll that suggested a neck and neck race to the finish between the 2 most popular political parties: in this case the PC's and the Wildrose Party.  Yup, good old Albertans who spent several decades complaining about the strangle hold of the old Social Credit party whose candidates were elected year after year for several decades, now to be followed by even more decades of PC rule. Aiiiii yiiiiii......if nothing else, voter turnout was higher than usual and that encourages me.  At least the voters there realized the need to get out and mark their ballots, keeping at least a facade of democracy alive in their province.

Political elections in this country would be so much easier to understand and particpate in if I felt we voters had any hope of being able to believe all of....or even any of..... the promises made in political speeches. As much as I disagree with those who choose not to cast ballots, I do understand the frustration people feel when it seems who we vote for makes so little difference to our lives in any sort of more positive way than the last group of clowns we elected to government.

Who to vote for:  the conundrum we face every few years...or months...or sometimes weeks.  And with each election it appears that free speech by certain groups is being more firmly muzzled.  It is becoming increasingly difficult for elected representatives to disagree with, or even to question, their party leaders in any remaining attempts those officials make these days to actually represent the views of those who voted them into power. Towing the party line has become the goal of leaders and their elected party members. Absurd amounts of kowtowing to the idol called political correctness has made any comment by any politician open to misunderstanding, misinterpretation, criticism and sometimes downright slander against their character.  Tolerance has been redefined to mean being accepting of everyone except whoever I as a politician or lobbyist particularly, personally, choose to hate.

I am frightened by the direction our so called democracy is heading. We are slowly lining ourselves up for a dictator to rule our country.  I am convinced we are half way there all ready.  Admittedly some dictators can be benevolent, but growing up in Canada 50 years ago it was not a possibility I thought I would ever have to face here.

So, that's it for any political posts on this blog.   I can only continue to marvel at the discrepancies in AB election results compared to the polls that are usually so accurate elsewhere.

You've done it again AB.  And good luck to you!!  Seriously...you will need it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

From the Moose Jaw Times Herald

Found this little article online this morning and it is very encouraging that arts education has some chance of being reinstated somewhere in a technological society.  Here's hoping for the best on this one!

WASHINGTON - Sarah Jessica Parker, Kerry Washington and Forest Whitaker are signing up for a new initiative with the Obama administration to adopt failing schools and help turn them around by integrating arts education throughout the schools.
On Monday, the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities will announce a new Turnaround Arts initiative for eight schools with officials from the White House and U.S. Department of Education.
Artist Chuck Close, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, dancer Damian Woetzel and actress Alfre Woodard also are adopting schools in the two-year program.
Organizers selected low-performing, high-poverty elementary and middle schools to participate. They are in New Orleans; Denver; Boston; Washington; Des Moines, Iowa; Portland, Ore.; Bridgeport, Conn.; and Lame Deer, Mont. Each school was receiving a federal School Improvement Grant to help boost achievement.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Prairies' Brutal Beauty

Driving home from church this morning we had an amazing experience with some prairie birds.  While it was brutal in the way that wildlife experiences of survival sometimes are, we gazed in awe at the power of one of nature's feathered predators.

We have an interesting breed of falcon here in our area this time of year. These large birds, instead of soaring upward and circling the fields in their preparation to drop on unsuspecting prey, fly rather close to the ground after they have spotted a food source.


Today we clocked the falcon flying parallel to us, only 40 feet from our car, at a speed of 100 kilometers.  It was cruising only 10 feet off the ground. We wondered what it was after.  As we slowed down long enough to watch the story unfold, (thank you SK for nearly deserted roads on Sunday mornings), we realized it had cut a duck from its group the way a border collie will cut a cow or sheep from the herd.  The duck was flying at right angles to the falcon as it took off from the ground away from its group, and of course at a much slower rate of speed.  

At a height of about 25 feet, the falcon t-boned the duck in midair, apparently not harming the falcon at all, but obviously killing the duck on impact.  I have never seen anything like it. The duck nosedived to the ground a few feet below and we could almost see the falcon licking its chops as it came in for its own landing to begin a midday feast. We then drove on, not being that enamoured of watching one species of bird eating another right in front of us, (o we of lily livered constitution), but it was quite a sight to behold.



The sheer speed and power of the falcon was terrifyingly beautiful.  The poor duck had not a chance of surviving a hit like that.


This city slicker has never seen anything like it before.  The large mourning doves nesting in our roof and the Brewers blackbirds that occasionally eat sunflower seeds from our feeders with their powerful little beaks seem like pansies after the powerful display we saw this morning.


Whew, just reliving it is making me break out in a cold sweat. I have a new respect for falcons!!!!

April Fest Pub Night

Last night's pub night in one of our church's halls was a great success.  The shepherds' pies were amazing, all home cooked, the coleslaw had the tastiest dressing I have ever had on coleslaw and the creampuff strawberry shortcakes were to die for. 

The opening performers were 2 men from our church who played guitars and sang beautiful worship songs.  They set the tone for the rest of the evening. People were respectful of each other and of the venue.  Of the sellout crowd only about 25% were church folk, the rest rarely darken the door of such a place. 

The secular band was having a hoot with us, couldn't believe they were playing at a church function, and what a wonderful outreach we had to them.  We have hired them again for the autumn pub night at our other church.  What fun to get together and sing all manner of songs from the 1950's, '60's and '70's with all the other old fogeys who remember those songs as well as we do, as well as with many younger people who got quite a kick out of watching us oldies remembering our teenaged years for a couple of hours.

So many spouses, kids, and extended family members attended our fun evening; those who are related to church members but have had no interest in attending church, not even the potlucks and other banquets. They were open to talk about all manner of personal spiritual issues because they were relaxed enough to not feel threatened.  This morning one of them showed up at the church service and we were delighted to see her and make her feel welcome in a more overtly spiritual setting.

It was a grand evening. The band played for 2 1/2 hours with no break and we were able to wrap up the festivities before the noise became a potential problem with the residential neighbours.  

Food, fun, fellowship.......it doesn't get much better than that.   


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Makes Me Wonder.....

This morning when I woke up I had tears in my eyes and running down my cheeks.  Don't know if I had a bad dream just before waking, but I felt incredibly depressed.  Not a great way to start a Saturday, especially a good one like this one is.

Can't seem to relate it to diet or lack of sleep, it just overwhelmed me this morning.  So onto the email to request prayer from a couple of dear prayer warrior friends.  Then I got busy!

I got the hymns picked out and practised for church tomorrow, made breakfast for my husband and me, did dishes, read newspapers, got showered up and now am preparing to leave for our other church community for a good day of pastoral events prior to what should be a very fun evening dinner church fundraising event: a pub night with shepherds pie and live music.  Aprilfest!!  YAY!

It is rare that I wake up depressed.  But for me there is a pattern of recovery from waking depression when it happens:
1. Acknowledge it honestly and pray for strength for the day.
2. Ask for prayer from a few people who understand the problem and who are regular prayer warriors in my life.
3. Get busy....exercise, do housework, sing, dance!!
4. Go stand outside in the sun for a few minutes.

Soon after I asked for prayer and got busy, the sun came out.  The weather is changing to spring so there will be more light, warmth, an eventually greener foliage around the house.

Joy is taking the place of depression.   It will be a good day after all.  Praise the Lord!

Friday, April 20, 2012

We're All In Recovery

Just had a good talk with my son.  He is getting a lot of assistance these days in various ways as he heals from the problems with his stalker.  He is getting a bit of medical insurance coverage through his job for counselling that begins soon, and he just received a retroactive raise in pay. He is preparing well for school in June.  His recovery is going to take a long time emotionally, but he has become proactive and is making strides in the right direction.

My husband is marvelling at the recovery he has experienced after many years of severe job stress, over 25 years with chronic fatigue syndrome, and a major thyroid surgery over 2 years ago.  His energy is recovering by the week, his joy in life is returning, he is working  hard and  effectively despite a huge load.  

I am recovering from my broken ankle, but also from the shock of being uprooted 2 years ago from a life I loved and ministry that was apparently effective, to come here; a place where I really don't have any ministry at all and few close friends.  I am recovering, along with my husband, from the shock of realizing the job he was offered "back home" a few weeks ago is not God's will for us to take.  I am recovering from the realization that we are to stay here for a time yet, and the pleasant surprise that I am okay with it after all. 

Our friends and extended family members are all recovering from surgeries, job distress, the unexpected problems associated with aging, deaths of friends, rejection by loved ones, unexpected early retirements, uprooting to move, and the like.


I have decided it is no bad thing to tell someone that I am "in recovery".  The phrase has more popularly come to mean dealing with addictions of various kinds, but really aren't most of us in recovery from some pain, or circumstance or health issue?


When I am "in recovery" I am grateful beyond measure that I have God to turn to.  He is the one who knows the entire back story.  He is the one who completely empathizes.  He lost a part of himself for a time when Jesus was here as a human and he experienced the intense suffering that all humans do at one time or another.


I am "in recovery" in God's Kingdom, in its expression here on earth.  And that's a good thing.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fight the Good Fight

This evening we had dinner together with a young couple presently taking pre-marriage counselling from my husband.  What a wonderful time we had with them.  They are the nicest young couple!

This evening's discussion centered around how fights are to be conducted within a marriage, hence my involvement.  We feel particularly qualified to instruct young couples in this area since it took us the first 20 years of our own marriage to finally figure things out in this arena. 

In fact, we were SO bad at fighting together when we were first married it is a wonder the marriage survived the first two years!!

I well remember our first major argument, and Dell no doubt does even more so: it was on a cold winter day, about -25C outside.  Short version of the story is that Dell found himself locked outside our apt. for several minutes, on the front steps for all the town to see, clad only in his undershorts, until I took pity on him, repented of my own stubbornness and allowed him back into his own home. 

Then there was the time a few years later when something he said as he was leaving for work made me so infuriated that in my frustration I actually tossed a tray of doughnuts out the door after him!!  I remember the feeling of needing to throw something, but I didn't want to throw anything that could hit him and hurt him.  We lived in a condo complex at the time and the place was filled with tiny children.  Again it was in the dead of winter.  Within seconds of my doughnut toss, teeny toddlers, penguin suited in winter snowsuits, waddled into our front yard and began devouring the cold doughnuts with great glee!!  haha

Of course my husband also had his moments!  I remember frustrating him so badly one day that he went outside and slammed his own fist into the bumper of our car.  Car: 10 Fist: 0!!  Oowwwweeeee......... 

Yup, the first 2 years of our marriage were the perfect learning centre for Marital Fighting 101. But, we survived, we learned, we grew into the proper mode for handling arguments, and the result was pretty good.....eventually........  With God's love and prayer as our foundations we have managed quite well in recent decades and overcome some horrible situations in our lives.

We resolved never to go to bed angry.  We learned to pick our battles.  We learned that a spouse is not God and should not be expected to fulfill the areas of life that are God's and God's alone to fulfill.  We learned to stick to the real issues and not be side tracked by bunny trails that hide the real issues and prevent them from being solved. During the roughest times in our lives we decided that what we really wanted to have a divorce from during our marriage was not each other but the circumstances in which we sometimes found ourselves.

It was so good to listen to this wonderful young couple tonight and hear how at their tender ages they are all ready discovering the things it has taken my husband and I too many of our years of marriage to learn.

Perhaps instead of us counselling this young couple, they should be counselling US???!

PS  Don't forget that I am Irish, so...........no, it isn't an EXCUSE for sometimes  having a bad temper.......it is a REASON!  There's a difference.  Oh, there is so.  Yes, really there is.  IS TOOOO!!

Google, I Forgive You....For One Thing Anyway....

Thank you for making one change in your new format for email:  I can now choose whether to have the dumb picture icons or text instead.  Thank you for letting me use text.  I bow before your consideration to me, a mere peon in your technological world.  

However......as far as your blogging site goes....I am simply going to delete a couple of entries where I had pictures as I am so tired of never knowing if they will be visible or not.  This morning they had once again disappeared.  Arrrrgh!!!  Make up your mind! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Computer Frustration

I am feeling livid, furious, but mostly just frustrated as the content of my last 2 blog postings have drifted in and out all day.  Some people can see them, some can't, some could and now can't, some couldn't and now can.  In the past 5 minutes I have experienced them being there and not being there.  Sigh.....ain't it grand to have computers...........

Perhaps it is only a coincidence, but today my gmail was changed over to the new look, apparently for good.  Google has been warning me for weeks that this would happen and I suppose today is the day.  Blast it!  I HATE the new look.  No auto signature unless I remember to remove the 3 "streamlining" bars just above it, and I can no longer hit the forward icon to send on a  sent forward to someone else without my response to the sender also being forwarded....oh, and not the actual forward either, just my original response to it.  I have to fiddle around making an attachment to send any sort of forwarded message onward.  How is this STREAMLINING???

Why can't people just leave well enough alone?  What is the point of putting on an auto signature, with information I AUTOMATICALLY want the recipients to have, when they can't see it without going to extra work to find it?  I am some PO'd with Google today. Guess I will go to my settings and see if I can get the old look back just one more time.

Friends an family: Don't be surprised to get a new email addie from me soon with a hotmail, or other account. Stupid tiny unclear pictures instead of written words on the command icons......dumb stupid stupid dumb........

Usually I adjust so well to change, even when it isn't expected and is thrust upon me......but not this time Google, not this time........ 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happiness is a Warm............Physio Room!

Well, our friends are headed home and what a wonderful time it was together.  So encouraging, and so refreshing to talk to people we don't see every day; people from home. 

Toured the other church today and stopped at the local restaurant for Chinese food...a hidden gem in the west central prairies.  The owner had a baby just 6 weeks ago and so little Chee was with her today, wrapped and tied in a big quilted blanket.  He slept happily in my arms for a half hour and I had the chance to contemplate the fact that although it was a lovely experience, I am not cut out to be grandma material....and I'm quite okay with that.

Then it was off to physiotherapy, where I got a wonderful surprise:  I have reached the end of my programme and have only a follow up 3 months from now before I am fully discharged.  At that time I will make a decision with the therapist as to whether or not I will continue doing my final 3 exercises all the way to Christmas...if it is worth trying to continue tweaking the range of motion that I have gained back.  It won't ever be completely recovered due to the placement of the hardware, BUT even if I never recover more than I have right now I will be eternally grateful. I also refuse to give up without a fight so.............I WILL be doing those exercises for the rest of the year.

The warmth of the room, the nice soft therapy lounge chair, and the intense foot massage nearly put me pleasantly to sleep today.  Oh how I am going to miss that massage!  But not enough to want to continue appointments every week!!!


Okay, off to have a little shot of elderberry flower flavoured vodka liquore.......my little treat to celebrate my almost graduation from physio!  Yum....thank you Douglas.......

Monday, April 16, 2012

What a Wonderful Day!!

It is so much fun having our AB friends here. We have visited and reminisced, looked at photos, taken the quick tour of town, had a nice long walk, toured one of our church buildings, and eaten a wonderful lamb, chickpea and couscous dinner prepared by my husband. He also boiled up some yummy Saskatchewan lentils that farmer friends gave to us, smothered them in butter, and ooooh they are so delicious. Tomorrow we will head out to the other church building after whiling away the morning over an extended breakfast.  Ahhhhh......so nice to be with old friends.

This afternoon the doorbell rang and it was another pair of good AB friends.  They were on their way home from some family and work appointments in our area and stopped by for a couple of hours of good chatting and more reminiscing.  What a treat.

It seems that any time I am tempted to be lonely here the doorbell rings and some dear friend from towns long past is standing on the front step hoping for some visiting and a good cup of tea.

We also received some better news from our son about life in his fast lane, so what an encouragement after yesterday's hours of prayer about his situation.

Today was wonderful indeed.  These are the kinds of days that provide good memories for getting a person through the days that are less than marvellous.  

It's a Beautiful Day for Arriving Company

Today is a lovely day.  It isn't particularly warm at -6C, but there is no snow in the forecast, the bit we had yesterday is gone all ready, the highways and byways are clear of ice, and our company will be here in time for lunch.  It will be an easy peasy kind of meal consisting of yesterday's yummy leftovers. We can do whatever we want for dinner....oh it is lovely to have a steady income these days and be able to choose to take our friends to a restaurant if they would enjoy that.  I am very excited about today.

I am hoping it makes up emotionally for some problems we had to deal with yesterday in the family.  Our son is being harrassed by a friend who is very mentally ill.  It is a terribly sad situation for his friend but now it is also taking a serious toll on our son as well.  All around the open house we were on the phone and email talking him through the process of disconnecting and setting boundaries firmly in place.  He is such a care giver.  Not being there to take care of every hurting person within a 20 mile radius is so difficult for him.  This is not the first dear friend he has had who has developed mental illness as a young adult.  He has been entangled a few times in the manipulations of his friends, brought on by their illnesses, but he has learned that he must step aside and let the professionals do their job.  Such a caring man with no family of his own to utilize his gifts of love and concern....it is difficult for mama to see this happening. But yesterday he stepped out in faith and removed himself completely from this terrible situation. As a result his friend ended up where she should have been, in the psych ward at the hospital where she will get proper care from her psychiatrist.  

Real love is an awesome emotion.  It knows when to let go of people to make their own mistakes, to get the help the loving person is incapable of giving....in this case mental health assistance. It is a recognition that we cannot be god for someone else. As life goes on I see more and more how rare real love is and how many other emotions and lifestyles we mistake for real love.  My son's situation is causing me to ponder once again on what love of all kinds is actually about..........  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's All Over but the Adrenaline!

What a super day!!  Apparently this is the first rectory party here in a very long time and our guests seemed truly appreciative of the effort we put into making it happen.  We had good representation from both our congregations and a wonderful afternoon of feasting and visiting was had by all. Thank you God!!

I even had a chance to redeem myself from yesterday's sandwich kicking extravaganza! (and also to reflect on my gracious, forgiving God...the one who will not punish me for being human in my reaction to my emotions yesterday) In between cooking and cleaning this morning I was able to exchange a series of emails with the troubled person who contacted me yesterday with the news that sent me into a rage.  Then in between visitors this afternoon and well into the evening a series of phone calls ensued that seem to have produced good results to turn the bad news into better news.  

What a wonderful day. Now, if I could just settle down and get some sleep, but I am wired up tonight with joy!!

AND tomorrow our out of province guests arrive for 2 days!  There is so much to look forward to this week!   

Today's Stress is Happy Stress

Now that I have recovered from yesterday's silliness, I am looking forward to this afternoon's come and go party at the rectory.  Should be really fun.  The snow dwindled out to near non-existence after a flurry or 2 this morning, the wetness has not frozen on the road and so the highways are in good condition. Hopefully we will get a decent turn out from both churches.  It is certainly too cold and wet for any of the farmers to be on the land yet so that will help the attendance.

Finished a bit of housework this morning and have been baking appetizer snacks and squares as well, slicing pickles and cheese, preparing salsa and other dips, cutting veggies and fruit, putting out the low sodium crackers, and getting plates, cups and napkins set up.  Once church is over it should be an easy hour or so of getting everything set out on the large kitchen island so people can help themselves to an array of foods. 

For once I actually feel ready for a house party...guess all the stress got kicked out of me yesterday when I attacked the sandwiches.......oooooh, I am never going to live that one down......my husband will tease me unmercifully for years to come.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Rare Outburst of Anger

Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, so here is mine for today:

I got some bad news today.  It wasn't unexpected.  It is about a situation that is going from bad to worse in someone's life and I was actually sort of expecting to hear it and confirm my suspicions, but so hoping against hope that I was wrong. Why am I never wrong about these particular sorts of situations???

So, I responded to the news with some degree of intelligence.  I wrote an email filled with excellent suggestions to assist the person trying to deal with these problems.  I prayed, and wrote, and my husband helped me.  And all was well inside of me.........I thought.

I spent the day cleaning and preparing food for our rectory party tomorrow afternoon...the one we hope is not REALLY going to be accompanied by freezing rain and snow.....right, Lord???? hohoho  I felt calm and excited about the preparations.  Aaaahh, the joy of feeling ready to welcome a few dozen folk into our home.........

And then I discovered 2 packs of expensive sandwiches, that I thought had been frozen last night, sitting on a side counter.  They had not been refrigerated for well over 24 hours!  No longer safe to eat, they would have to be thrown out, resulting a lot of expensive, delicious food being wasted. That was when I lost it completely.  I felt instant rage.....actually it was more like RAAAAAGE!!!

I grabbed the sandwich packs and threw them onto the floor, and proceeded to kick and stomp on them until both packs resembled squooshy mush.  I have to say it felt pretty good!!  I don't remember ever having a reaction in anger that extreme.  Wow.......so not my MO.

I felt pretty ashamed as I picked up the mess and tossed it into the garbage.  Wow.......what a silly thing to do, eh?  Kicking innocent sandwiches just because I got anger inducing news.....aiiii yiiiii......

Well, I am embarrassed enough that I will likely behave in a more adult fashion in future........confession may be good for the soul but it is far too humiliating for the rest of me to want to ever have to do it again!  

Friday, April 13, 2012

5 Days off O JOY!!!

What a lovely time off this past 5 days has been.  We have slept and slept and slept some more!  We have not checked phone messages at home very much, we have not checked for emails very much.  We have eaten wonderful restaurant ethnic meals of all kinds, and shopped for wonderful groceries that we can't get in our town.  We saw a colleague we haven't seen for nearly 2 years. Although we are still exhausted and wish we had another 5 days off, it has been marvellous to be elsewhere for a few days.

Tonight we will try to get to bed a bit early so that we can face the marathon cleaning we have to do in this house all day tomorrow, as well as the remaining food preparation for Sunday's open house, but it will be a lot of fun.  As long as there isn't some crazy spring storm on Sunday it should be a good day for congregants travelling up from church number 2.

We are very excited to be having out of province overnight guests Monday and Tuesday, long standing wonderful friends that we have shared so much with....in fact one of the couples I wrote about many many posts ago who were part of the community who shared work and income for a whole winter once.  The man is practically my husband's brother!

Well, it must be time for some more sleep, so right after Harry's Law I will head to bed so I can face the busyness of tomorrow.  I am a huge fan of Kathy Bates and watch pretty much anything on tv or the big screen that she is acting in.

Speaking of acting, a dear friend and actress, Judith Buchan, is playing the role of Marilla in "Anne of Green Gables" at the Rosebud Theater this summer, for all you Albertans who enjoy live theater.  Also, in the earlier part of the summer, Rosebud Theatre is producing Chaim Potok's "My Name is Asher Lev".  It played recently in Vancouver and apparently the same fellow who played the title role there is also performing in Rosebud's production. Both plays should  be real treats to attend.  

All the best people go there........we're gonna go!  (Remember Arte Johnson in the old Laugh In tv show?)

For now, nighty night............

Sunday, April 8, 2012

So We Didn't Quite Make It Out Of Town Yet.....

It isn't for lack of trying...it is simply from a lack of energy!  We had to take some time to rest today so will leave in the morning instead.  About the time we were hemming and hawing about getting on the road, we discovered our elderly widowed neighbour was having a very tough day, feeling so alone at Easter.  We had her over for tea and reminiscences instead of driving off into the sunset.  It was very good for us all.

Called our son for his 32nd birthday...wow....32!  I can hardly believe it.  Something that happened at church this morning got me thinking of times past when he was much younger and full of....full of.....well, let's say....um....creativity....yeah that's it, creativity!!

We started our services this morning with an Easter vigil fire outside the church buildings.  Normally that would happen VERY early in the morning while it was still dark outside, but we got special permission from our bishop to incorporate a few vigil elements into the Easter Sunday morning schedule instead, due to the average age of our local congregants.  We burn the leftover palms from last year in big burning barrels and then light the brand new Paschal candle with the flames.  The flames represent new life coming into the world due to Jesus' resurrection. We then process the candle into the church, bringing new light into our presence to inspire us to remember Christ's sacrifice and his resurrected life.  It is quite a powerful event.

Of course, me being me, this highly spiritually significant rite got me remembering a few things far less spiritual as I began to remember my son's teenaged years when he went through that typical "fire bug" stage most teenaged boys go through...it is typical, right???  (Please, if it isn't don't tell me.  I don't want to know...)

The fire bug stage for my son began around the age of 12 or 13 when he decided to see what would happen if he set doll heads on fire, and off he went to the local thrift shop to purchase a few for the experiment.  He wanted to see if the faces would do a slow melt or if the hair would go up immediately in flames....you know....movie type pyrotechnics on a small scale.  What he ended up doing was burning a hole through the boards on our back deck.  To say I was not impressed and his father even less so is an understatement.

However, fire was an attractive toy for awhile yet for the boy.  I know a lot more about what he was up to at the time than he thinks I know, but the short version is that eventually he found out the hard way that cotton and polyester have far different reactions when a person lights a match by striking it on the seat of one's pants!  The end of the fire bug stage occurred one evening when said match was lit upon said polyester pants, resulting in a flaming pantleg and a burn the size of Texas.  The icing on the cake was the polyester fabric that was melted right into his skin!  Some kids have to learn the hard way....that was my son....sigh....yup, he DOES take after his mother....sigh....

After he gave up his fire bug ways he still seemed to attract fires and burns for awhile.  

I was sitting in church one morning and enjoying listening to the start of a particularly good sermon when the back door of the church opened and in came my son.  I was thrilled!  He hadn't been to church in a few weeks and hey, better a late arrival than no arrival at all, right?  He sat down next to me and I gave him a hug. As we sat for another minute or so and the impact of the sermon was being taken in I saw tears in my son's eyes, and I realized he was tightly gripping my hand.  At first I assumed he was receiving an amazing spiritual revelation from the sermon, then I realized  his tears were flowing faster, and he was gripping my hand so hard my fingers were turning blue.  So, okay, it wasn't any revelation from the sermon that was causing such an intense reaction.  Then I realized he was wiggling his leg in a muscle spasm sort of way and his mouth was forming soundless words.  Hmmmmm.....what on earth......THEN I finally noticed that the pant leg surrounding the spasming calf muscles had a big hole in it and that the edges of the hole were burnt black.  I looked more closely at the hole in his pant leg and saw singed skin peeping out.  So I dragged him out of the church to find out what had happened.  He was in terrible pain.

Turns out when he had started the car the ignition had shorted out, caught fire somehow and threw flames onto his pantleg.....again with the polyester pants.....what was with this kid anyway? This time I felt so sorry for him. Through no fault of his own he had been burned once again.  

When my son was a teenager I learned a few things about treating burns.  Great knowledge to have, but not the way I wanted to learn about such things.   

Somehow the kid survived his own ability to learn things the hard way. He has grown into a responsible and talented artist man person.  His creativity has found its proper channel and I am beyond grateful.   

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Blogging Break

My husband is preparing some more food for tonight's youth seder.  Apparently the number of adults from other churches wanting to attend has grown, so more groceries have been purchased and more cooking done.  I have been washing lettuce all afternoon.  If we can get through tonight and then tomorrow's Easter services in one piece it will be wonderful. Tomorrow's services will be filled with rejoicing as we celebrate Christ's resurrection.  We are both looking forward to that. Joy has all ready taken root in my heart after yesterday's emotional drubbing.

We have decided we are going to take a break for a few days and leave town for awhile.  It will be nice to go away together and not tell anyone where we are so we can get some rest.  We are so grateful for another priest who has agreed to be available for emergency pastoral care in my husband's absence.  Yippee........road trip!!

Looking forward to having fun things to blog about when we return.  Until then........

The Lord is risen!
He is risen indeed!!
HALLELUJAH!!!

 

Recovering from Good Friday's Service

Have survived another Good Friday service at the church.  Yes, "survive" is the correct word.  There is no other service in the course of the church year that is as emotionally draining for me than Good Friday.  It is a very short service in our church, only about a half hour.  But that few minutes leaves me completely exhausted.  In fact I went to bed at 8:30pm last night because I was completely finished for the day.

Why so exhausting?  It is because the liturgy forces me to seriously meditate on Christ's sacrifice.  The fact that I am one of those for whom this sacrifce became necessary hits me like  a brick in the face every year at this time.  

The starkness of the stripped down sanctuary and the crude wooden cross my husband lies across the front of the bare altar speaks to me every time.  By the time the service is over I feel like my head is coming off at the neck and my stomach is ripping out of my chest.  This is the day that I begin to understand a little better what Jesus suffered in order to restore such as my sinful imperfect self to a righteous holy God that created me.

When the service ended and I stood and touched that representational cross for a minute I was "on my knees" on the inside, in extreme gratitude to him who gave up everything he had to provide me with everything needed in this life and the next.  Every year as I touch that cross I am completely overwhelmed.

Is it because we have an emotional, overwrought liturgy that is written to prime the emotions for just such a reaction?  Absolutely not.  In fact our liturgy could be accused of being a bit stark rather than emotionally charged.  No, my reaction is strictly my own, coming from within me, as the recogition dawns once again of Jesus' suffering on my behalf.

I still can't claim to feel his pain or really understand the depth of what he suffered, but my spirit understands I have been saved from the ultimate eternal disaster of separation from God because I was able to choose to follow Jesus. His Spirit convinced me some years ago.

That is what motivates Christians to share their faith with those who have not met Jesus yet.  We don't get any heaven points or heaven rewards....it isn't about us....it  is about letting the rest of the population know that there is a wonderful way to relate to our Creator, our Heavenly Father, who does not force himself on anyone, but waits patiently for us to accept his love for us.


ESV Deuteronomy 30:19....I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life....
 

 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.  My husband has driven off to our other town where our congregation will participate in and provide lunch for all the participants in the Walk of the Cross through the streets of the town.  Then he has to be home in time for our local Good Friday service.  It is such a busy day for him.  I hope he gets the time himself to seriously ponder on what this day represents.

What Jesus did, dying on a wooden Roman cross, a death reserved for the worst criminals, is beyond my ability to comprehend in any depth.  I read the story, my mind rehearses the details of such an agonizing death, I give mental assertion to the facts of the story and realize the purpose behind Jesus' sacrfice on my and all mankind's behalf, BUT I can't remotely comprehend the extent of his physical suffering nor his mental and emotional anguish, seeing the time of his crucifixion approaching and knowing the pain that his human body and spirit were about to experience. I simply can't feel the depth of his own feelings.  I have never been asked to make such a sacrifice for anyone, particularly for those who will never appreciate that my death could save them from the torment of eternal separation from God and provide them with the mmost meaningful of existences during life on earth.

Jesus, as a part of the triune godhead, had all ready given up his "safe place" with the Father and Holy Spirit to come to earth and live the joys and sorrows of a human being in order to demonstrate God's goodness and love, and his desire to be reconciled in his relationship to his creation.  As if that was not sufficient sacrifice to make to show us God's identification with our sufferings and joys, highs and lows as human beings, he was also asked to make that ultimate blood sacrifice to ensure our salvation as we dedicate our lives to serving God through his ways and teachings.

Why did God ever institute blood sacrifice as a means for atonement? I don't know. I will never understand it.  It seems so brutal, doesn't it? But I accept that God, the creator, is MY God and so I leave the reasons to him for now. He is the God who answers my prayers, who preserves me in trials, who accepts me as I am and gives me the power to change into someone better through his own powerful Holy Spirit.  I can live with some things I don't understand about him.  I can live with paradoxes such as a loving God who demands blood sacrifice for atonement.  After all he is holy. And myself.....meeeeh....not so much.....

I find the crucifixion shocking....shocking not only in its brutality but in Jesus' willingness to subject himself to it for the sake of us all.  

No one can say they have never been loved unconditionally. Jesus loved all of us beings, past, present, and future, to suffer horrendously to ensure we had a way to bridge that gap between a righteous God and his less than righteous created beings. 

Dying for those long dead, those who are alive but not yet really understanding, and those still to come in order to create a more meaningful earthly life for those who will accept Jesus and his sacrifice, and to provide access to an eternity with God....that IS unconditional love.

Jesus died for YOU because of his love for you.  The mere fact of your existence is sufficient reason for him to love you and to want to be with you now and forever. He all ready proved that by his death on a cross....a death to which he willingly surrendered...for you and for me. Now the choice is yours and mine. Do we accept his love and sacrifice for us or not? Do we choose to get to know him and let him live his life of obedience to the Father through us or not?

And, amazingly, his story doesn't end there on that cross......

My Own Attempt

It isn't fair to put in a link to a blog about suicide without mentioning my own attempt many many years ago. As ever with me, God used humour to get through to me at the last minute.

At one point in my life I felt I couldn't face the path that was set before me.  My son was quite young at the time and I felt so inadequate as a mother, so ill equipped to raise one so small and dependent.  My husband was ill and our finances were failing.  I was unemployed and apparently unemployable in our town at that time.  In other words life for me was like life for 2/3 of the known world, but I wasn't coping.  God seemed very far away no matter how many times I called on him for assistance in dealing with life.  Sometimes life is like that.  For Christians it is a reminder of our own humanness and a reminder that suffering is not reserved for the ungodly.  Suffering for a Christian is a time to learn how to cling to an invisible God and sometimes the learning process is incredibly difficult. Sometimes in the church we have forgotten that suffering is simply part of life on earth; we haven't taught our people how to prepare for it and how to deal with it when it happens.  We don't hear much biblical teaching sometimes on how the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust. (See Matthew 5:45) Somewhere along the way many Christians have been made to feel that if they are depressed or otherwise struggling with emotions there is something wrong with them and in their relationship with God that is just a little worse than what is wrong with their Christian brothers and sisters in their relationships with God. It makes us afraid to admit our struggles when really, our Christian brothers and sisters are often just waiting to serve us by listening and encouraging us to keep on fighting through our problems. They are so often willing to stand with us through our trials but our egos and our fears keep us from asking for their help.
 
Short version is that one day I found myself sitting naked on a toilet seat in our bathroom with a razor blade in my hand.  I had decided my son and husband would be better off without me, their at home basket case, to deal with on top of all the other problems in their lives. How finding a wife and mother dead by her own hand in their own home would be helpful in getting them through the rest of their lives was beyond my ability to reason at the time.

As I was about to do the deed that day I prayed one last prayer asking God to forgive me for what I was about to do. That is when the vision happened.  

Was it a vision of the grandeur and omnipotence of my creator who is worthy to be loved and served no matter my human feelings? Not at all!

Was it a Hollywood inspired, ala "It's A Wonderful Life," angelically led trip through the future showing me now dreadful the lives of family and friends would turn out to be without me? Not remotely.  

Was it a sudden grasp of my own family's need for a wife and mother to show them by living that they were more important to me than my own struggles of the time?  Nope, not even that!

The vision was one of the total reality of that moment:  a vision of an embarrassingly fat, naked, 30'ish woman sitting on a toilet seat in her own bathroom, waving a razor blade and looking like an utterly selfish fool.  As I contemplated this vision of myself, how bizarre I looked and how ridiculous I was being, laughter welled up within me and I started to giggle. Giggling progressed to laughing which progressed to guffawing which progressed to laying on the floor, stomach clenching, bellowing hysteria.  Talk about letting it ALL hang out.  Even the revelation of my complete selfishness in wanting to opt out of life couldn't stop the healing laughter.

The release of the tension through laughter was what saved me that day. I have never since considered suicide an option, not even for a second.  

Did life suddenly become rosy and wonderful?  No, it didn't.  

Have I struggled with times of depression since then?  Of course I have. 

But I have also learned how better to cling to God and to cope.  As I sat there on that toilet seat God used the one thing that always speaks to me no matter what current tragedy is under way in my life:  the often hidden humour that is a part of much of our daily grinding reality. He started that day to teach me how to look for it in the midst of hard times. He also helped me begin a whole new path in my spiritual life that has taught me more and more about his love for all his creation, even myself.  He is constantly teaching me better coping skills.  He showed me once and for all that he loves and accepts me and wants me to be able to let him change me into someone who copes not only better, but well.

My friend Eric's blog posting (read my last post and  then link to his) sums up so well why suicide is not the answer.  I am grateful to Eric for posting something on a topic that is still verboten it seems in some circles.  

This is a very personal post.  Many readers will not be able to relate to it at all and wonder why I would post such a story about myself.  But if you have ever suffered from the depression that builds to the point of wanting life to just end, don't stop trying to get help.  Go to God, go to counsellors and pastors and social agencies where people have been trained to help your inner vision return to the wonders of reality and not concentrate solely on what is wrong in your life.  You are a precious created being with a purpose to fulfill.  Really you are.  Don't ever forget it.