Monday, May 04, 2015

Jericho

Joshua Blowing His Trumpet....





And the walls falling down!







As Rahab hangs her Scarlett Thread......



























Joshua Blowing His Horn



SAdB



I Will Change Your Name
By D.J. Butler

I will change your name
You shall no longer by called
Wounded, out cast Lonely or afraid
I will change your name


Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness
Overcoming One


Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks My Face





Change is... important in life because without it you
          can't grow
... without it there would be no seaside castles
     nestled in the midst of gardens
... no secret hideaways bursting with life
... no glorious resurrections, no brightly coloured
     eggs hidden in secret
           dark corners
               beneath a sea shell...
            in some seaside resort
          as the sun rises
              on a beautiful new day....



All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great & small
All things wise & wonderful
The LORD God Made Them All!



After a long barren winter I am a garden bursting
in bloom .... a lily of the Valley
     Suzanne Allison
           I will become myself

              As I really Am!

Some Ponderings

100 More Aprons?

Awhile ago I ran out of disposable one time use aprons for my foot care job I have been doing for over a year, extremely part-time. I wondered if I should order any more. Proper nursing standards would indicate you should have a fresh one for each client. I had ordered them more than a year ago online from a place that sold them for food industry purposes and they weren't individually packed like the ones I had split with the two other nurses who were doing the course of studies with me back in the summer of 2013. I think there were probably a hundred of them, but I couldn't be sure, as I had never counted them. So when they were all gone I wondered if that meant I had done over one hundred visits.

I really didn't want to order any more somehow. Maybe it was realizing how little I had made there in black and white on my T4 and how much energy I had poured into the job. It could have been the fact I was paying half what I made on gas and other car expenses, and spending twice what I made in tools and supplies, or so it seemed. There was so much prep time preparing documents and tools, phoning clients, rescheduling appointments, and then there was the half hour or more it took to clean your tools at the end of the day, all that travel time, the extra documentation you did at home for no pay, the insurance you had to fork out due to the high risk of something going terribly wrong. The inconvenient truth was I could make twice as much with my other home care job for six hour shift that involved far less driving and ended when the visit was over and you signed off on your phone, instead of so much later in the day. One day seeing three clients in one day as well as attending a CPR class kept me busy until
11 pm before all the work was done.  Far more than I would like I have had to decline last minute shift opportunities for my other job in order to keep my foot care appointments I was committed to completing.

 Foot care in the home is not a very profitable business, for any one, and you have to be willing to take a loss in order to build up any kind of business. Unfortunately it felt like I was taking the brunt of the losses while my company struggled to collect the bills and clients came and went. Sometimes I have had to wrestle for over an hour to get a client's neglected feet into some semblance of proper order. At times I haven't known if my clients even have a firm grasp on their personal history, let alone their health conditions. Sometimes as I am wearing my mask, knowing they probably can't hear a word I am saying, struggling to give them some advice about caring for their feet they can't even manage to rub cream on by themselves any more, I wonder if I am really helping them as much as I would like to. Somehow the sensation test seems a little pointless when you are not sure they even understand your instructions.  And there are the feet that haunt you a little, because you know something is a little off, but you can't diagnose what exactly is wrong... As a nurse it is not really your job to diagnose, but when should you tell them to see a doctor?


 So I had kind of decided to quit. I could get into something like palliative care or some other area. Some other nurse could take over my clients. Then a nagging thought came to me that there were very few nurses who were sticking with this rather demanding, financially unrewarding work. Sure I did joke with one client I should be paying him as he patiently showed me some helpful tips for dealing with his chronic ingrown toenail. But I felt a little taken advantage of, a lowly foot care nurse, making a different rate than the other nurses, and seeing my bank account slowly descend rather than grow.

But a couple of days I ago I had a realization. I actually would do this job without any remuneration. Please don't tell my company. I love it! I love the clients I have gradually gotten to know, being a visitor in their homes whether in a cluttered dingy place smelling of cigarette smoke or a beautiful well appointed apartment.  I even love the satisfaction of cutting really really long toenails and realizing you have just made a difference to your client's mobility and health. Some of my clients have been palliative; I get to care for their feet and maybe help a little by my kindness as they are facing death. I have grown so much in my confidence that I no longer even dread the first visit, the unknowns of what I will face. One client in
Oakville I often complained lived too far away for me to be earning anything at all with the one hour visit, I miss the most, and wonder whether she is okay after her fall. I know many of my clients have few other options when they are housebound, rejected by other companies due to liability issues since they are diabetic or on blood thinners, and completely unable to care for their own feet any longer, ashamed at how long their toe nails have grown.

Yesterday, I came to a definite decision and emailed the person who had hired me that I had decided to stay. That I would make a complete reversal within the same day and today be ready to write my resignation letter is another story. Thankfully a very capable administrator talked me down and made a couple of important phone calls to clarify some issues that had made continuing seem an utter impossibility. In this season of my life, it may be time to order another hundred aprons.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Trust

This Good Friday, I attended a beautiful, meaningful service at the church where I grew up, professed my faith, and spent part of my young adulthood. I sat with my friend from childhood, her husband, and her parents who have always been a special part of our lives. It was good to be given some time, however brief, to reflect on just how much Christ suffered out of a love that is unfathomable, in order to pay for my redemption, healing, and wholeness. He has opened a way so I can become like him, the most amazing person who has ever walked on this planet. And now he is there right beside me, walking me through the valleys and to the fearsome heights. And today I realised that being here with him is really the safest place I can be, whatever may come.

When I am afraid, he says "fear not" and "I am with you." When I say "I cannot do it" he tells me "try, I will help you." Many times he reminds of the beauty he created, both inner and outer, when I was woven together in my mother's womb. He tells me that he has good plans for my life, though he does not promise a pain-free life without suffering or loss. He does promise that one day he will wipe every tear from my eyes, and he demonstrates that he values my tears so much that he stores them in a bottle. Especially in my childhood and youth, tears were frequent, even for small things, so I figure that bottle is probably holding quite a large volume by now.

Thinking of Christ as the Good Shepherd has always been a way to find a sense of peace for me. I picture myself in his arms, being carried, or I relax beside the peaceful stream, knowing I am cared for and watched over. My professor in university made a good point that sometimes we think of all the things we should or must do for the kingdom of God, but sometimes we just have to "be." To be God's child, to be his beloved, to be the lamb of the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay down his life for the sheep. On a day like today, when we remember the high cost of our redemption, the stripes which bring our healing, and the love that kept Jesus on the cross through the agony of being separated from his Father and the excruciating  physical pain as he struggled for each breath, we should realise that we can trust him in this time and moment as well whatever we may face. On the cross, Christ was not a victim, but a victor who has bought us back from the kingdom of darkness, and proclaimed our release and freedom from bondage. When he rose again on the third day, he gave those from whom he died a new resurrected life, and his victory over death and hell became gloriously real and tangible. On Good Friday, we remember that Easter is coming!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Springtime

I know it is not officially here for a couple of days, but it is springtime! It was a little chilly today, but the sun is shining and the snow has almost disappeared completely.

[in Just-]

BY E. E. CUMMINGS
in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles          far          and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's
spring

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and

it's
spring
and

         the

                  goat-footed

balloonMan          whistles
far
and
wee


Recalling the joys of analyzing poems like this. And thinking happy, springtime thoughts. "Lo the winter is over and past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come..." That quote from Song of Songs just came back to my memory, although I had to look it up to get the complete text. 

This spring I am hoping to begin to get fit, take some courses for my nursing career, and find that elusive full-time hours job or jobs. Also I want to figure how I should make use of what is in my hand. Moses had his staff and God used it for miraculous things. What is in my hand is a pen, I mean symbolically not literally, as of course at this moment I am typing. 

This spring will bring new things with work, friendships, and relationships. Things are in flux, but they are also blossoming, blooming, and full of life!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Plenty of Fish

The moment I decided to attend the Christian singles mixer party my friend was hosting, I hadn't pictured myself as the only female attendee for the first part of the evening. But there I was, the wall flower, sitting encircled by a half-dozen eligible men in a dimly lit bar inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's the Raven, awkwardly making conversation with help from an icebreaker game. Scarlett O'Hara surrounded by adoring beaus I was most definitely not. When the other two women showed up, they sat together at the bar and put their icebreaker games in their purses, meaning I won the door-prize for the women by default.

I tried not to think about how disappointing this event might turn out for every one, and focused on small talk and polite conversation about work, hobbies and interests. One man turned out to be not only a winter camping enthusiast but also a registered nurse who was an expert in foot care nursing, having run his own business for over ten years. I was able to glean some valuable information from him as I am also a foot care nurse.  Another man was a recent immigrant from Lebanon who was a scientist who worked in the food industry. Yet another was an outdoorsman who was a machinist. They all seemed like decent people. A couple men offered to buy me a drink, but I declined as I rarely have alcohol.

Gradually the small crowd dwindled to four people, counting the hostess of the event. We sat at the bar and discussed our work and cultural and family backgrounds. Since I had won a gift certificate for the bar, I attempted to buy a drink, but it is hard to order something that has no alcohol or sugar at a bar, and bars apparently don't charge for water garnished with a lemon. When I realised that this elementary fact should have been obvious to me, I was rather embarrassed to have offered payment. My next thought was to order a drink for some one else, as I didn't think it likely I would be returning to this venue, but the two people I asked had already imbibed their personal limit of one drink for the evening.

At ten the music was cranked up, but no one was dancing. Conversation became more difficult due to the noise level. My friend and I made plans to go back some time to use the gift certificate, and we exited the bar together along with the last man to leave the singles mixer party, who happened to be the registered nurse. He offered me contact information so I could ask him for professional advice regarding foot care. It wasn't the evening I had expected, especially since the last event my friend planned had had ten times as many people show up and more of a gender balance. Still it certainly was a stretching experience, and more of an adventurous Saturday night than I am used to having.




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Perspective

There are two totally different ways to look at life. One is of a history of failures, setbacks, disappointments, and missed opportunities. The other is a story of lessons learned, challenges faced, holy encounters, and blessings in disguise.
 In the last little while I have had two disappointments. The one today I didn't handle very well, and in a moment I seemed to have lost all the progress I thought I had made. Negative things came from my mouth and they seemed very true and realistic, but in fact, they had the truth all twisted and distorted. 
This may be a challenge I have to overcome, but it is not the end of my journey. God does have a good plan for my life, but my life at times includes learning from failures, struggling through setbacks, dealing with disappointments of things I have wanted but are not God's will, and sometimes missing the mark. Through it all, God is working all things for my good and he is drawing me closer to himself. 
God knows the desires of my heart, and he created my heart. He is good, faithful, and true and as I delight myself in who he is and what he has done, he will fulfill the desires of my heart and also recreate my heart to be more in tune with him. Some of my desires may change in the process and as my life unfolds, I may understand better why God has said "no" or "not yet" or "wait" for petitions I have made to him. God wants me succeed at the things he has designed and purposed for me to do and he knows the end from the beginning. If I ask for his guidance, direction and wisdom, I can trust him to answer my prayer. He is able to do so much more than I would ever ask or imagine.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

How to Find One's Life By First Losing It

Being self-absorbed comes naturally. If there is a mirror in the room, chances are I am checking out my reflection, even as I am conversing with other people. When I get a hair-cut, I want people to notice and compliment me. Since I lost some weight, I weigh myself with even more frequency. Often in conversations, I catch myself bringing the discussion back to myself, which is my favourite topic though maybe not as fascinating as I think. Though I receive many spontaneous compliments, sometimes I am guilty of fishing for one. At times, I spend so much time looking inward, I fail to notice people with needs all around me.

Self-denial on the other hand, goes against my natural tendencies. How I can give of myself sacrificially to others is not immediately obvious to me in any given situation, More on my mind is how will this affect me and my plans or how does this person feel about me.

Selfishness is my default setting. If I don't try to put myself in another person's shoes or attempt to think of others, I won't consider their needs above mine.

It is all too often all about me. That's why I find Jesus' words so challenging as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson: "Any one who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I  am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?"

I guess if I am truly following Jesus, instead of just talking about following Jesus, he will lead me in this way of self-sacrifice and show me how it is done. He has already demonstrated a love that was willing to suffer, to empty himself, to give his life as a sacrifice. In his life, he was a servant, obedient to the Father. Even though he was God, he made himself nothing. My life has to become about him and about the people he has placed in my life. I need to radically change my focus and only then will I find my life as it was meant to be lived.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Of Darkness and Dawn

When the thought crossed my mind again, I realised it had been awhile, really quite some time, since it had transversed the well-worn path etched into my brain. I did not welcome its return. It was a thing of winter, of gloom, of dark, bare, empty places and of despair. It stank of hopelessness, fear, and death.
Four simple words: I want to die. This recurring thought most often emerged when I faced something difficult, when I was stressed, or when I contemplated the future, not in a dreamy, optimistic light but in a nihilistic, nightmarish view. I want to die. Sometimes I dwelt on the thought, other times I pushed it aside. Most of the time, it had no semblance of truth, nothing more than a shadowy presence. It dissolved into nothing when forced into the light. But always it came back.
I want to die. If it had ever been true, it wasn't now. I want to live. I want to grow, to stretch, to burst into glorious bloom. I want to develop in many directions, to be a channel of vitality, to foster life.
I want to live. I want to experience delight and joy, beauty and passion. I want to be grateful for each breath, to breathe in goodness and exhale grace. I want to live... truly. I want my path forward to be "like the light of the dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day" as the ancient writer described the way of the righteous. This proverb was given to me as a word of promise last year. Though darkness is real, by God's grace I will see that dawning brightness.
I want to live. I want to born anew as Jesus once told Nicodemus. It is a thing of spring, new beginnings, of light, and hope. It is truer than the darkness ever could be.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top Ten Blessings of 2014

It is time to reflect on the blessings of the past year. I am feeling a little blue as family Christmas time draws to a close and I heard some sad news today. Also I know 2015 will begin with me facing up to some challenges that I postponed dealing with. I think making this list will help me focus on the positive side. This idea was inspired by my sister who wrote her own top ten list on her Christmas card.

1. Working with a client who was a joy in a kindergarten of all places the first half of 2014
2. Spending time with treasured friends whether while attempting to master Zumba or playing a friendly game of Euchre or Scrabble
3. Getting my feet wet with a part-time foot care nursing job and meeting some wonderful clients
4. Drawing closer to God through Immanuel sessions and Sarah Young's devotional writings
5. Visiting Karen, Clint and their wonderful family this past summer in Saskatchewan
6. Gaining health and losing weight and inches since starting Trim Healthy Mama in July (twenty-five pounds lost and now at my goal weight)
7. My wardrobe makeover courtesy of my stylish sister and her friend 
8. Receiving more compliments than I can realistically keep track of
9. Rachel and Joel's beautiful summer wedding and happiness in marriage
10. God giving me the gift of hope 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

A Hard Lesson

There are certain lessons that seem to take me decades to learn. One I haven't mastered yet is "Do not worry" although I have been writing about it since my very first blog post. Another is how to follow the biblical recipe for true contentment, as Paul explains in the following verses, as paraphrased by Eugene Peterson:


  • I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in  the One who makes me who I am.     Philippians 4:11b-13 The Message


I can't say I've reached the same point as the apostle Paul, when he wrote these words. It is very easy to be discontented about the things that are not happening in my life or things that are not going in the way I would like. It is very easy to annoyed by little things that a deeply contented person would just brush off or not even notice. On days when patience is in short supply, my mood is darkly disappointed, and the last thing on my mind is the recipe for being content in every circumstance, I tend to view my life as a portrait in things I lack, things I absolutely must have to be happy. 

But I don't need a successful career, my ideal match, or to be married with children in order to be happy. I don't need my every wish fulfilled and fantasy realized. I need a change in perspective, to view my life in light of the blessings I have received and gifts I have been given. I need to realize that no matter what my situation, whatever material blessings I have or don't have, I can still make it through my life with true contentment and joy, not based on my circumstances but based on the One who gives me my identity, hope and purpose. I am a child of God, a member of Christ's body, a citizen of heaven, God's workmanship called to share God's love and to do the work God prepared for me to do. I have been given much; my hands are full. I have everything I need for life and to fulfill my calling, I have been supplied with all I require to trust and to obey God. Through his strength I can master this recipe!

I wish I would learn this difficult lesson thoroughly and apply its principles faithfully in my life! I hope it won't take many more years to learn it well.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Last Friday Night

Last Friday night found me composing yet another online dating profile. It was either that or write a blog post and I was drawing a blank on a good topic to write about. There is an art to writing a good profile, revealing enough but not too much, sounding intelligent but not cocky, being honest but not sounding like a total dweeb who spends their Friday nights writing online dating profiles. A brevity and conciseness in your responses is key, as is highlighting your good points and showing no signs of your neuroses and hang-ups. It is best to leave blank those questions that, if answered, would reveal your utter lack of experience in the area of dating relationships. For a Christian dating site, you should avoid cliches as much as possible, but also strike a balance between emphasizing the required godliness of your husband and admitting that you do not demand perfection. An over-ask is almost as fatal as an over-sell. A hint of a sense of humour and a slight display of quirkiness and a degree of creativity in your answers helps.

With such a profile you will be certain to attract any number of men, some of whom will astonish you with their effusiveness and others who will delight you with their unintentional humour. Someone will write you from jail, another from a foreign country. There will be divorced men and widowers with children, single men who ask why you have never married yet, and men older than your father. There will be those who send you a form letter, slightly personalized, full of links and contact information, and those who ask you a simple sardonic question. There will be those whose profiles are an instructive sermon on environmentalism or their own brand of Christianity they are fully convinced of. Some will give you their Skype address, others their email despite rules to the contrary. Some will have obvious baggage from past relationships, others will emphasize their need for a submissive wife.

But you will continue to wait out your ten day trial period, because there is always the chance that there will be someone extraordinary in their normalcy and at the same time ideally suited for your quirks, someone truly fitting all your stated criteria and some of your unstated ones. On such slight chances you pin your hopes.

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