Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whimsical Wednesdays: Guilt

Suzanne den Boer, grade 7

It happened again
Someone was picked on by "them"
It was mean
I saw tears well up in her eyes
I know how she felt
I know she was hurt
It has happened to me before
Yet I didn't say anything
I didn't tell her I understood

They wanted to feel cool
They thought by putting her down
They would make themselves look better
I know why they did it
I've done it before
Why didn't I stand up for her?
Was I afraid they would have picked on me?

Comment: I wrote Guilt in Mrs. Heeg's literature class in grade seven. I remember recording myself reading it on tape to play for the class.

This is another poem from my Writer's Craft Anthology. It is not very advanced as far as craft, but it captures my emotions about bullying quite well.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I am back from a lovely vacation. In Ottawa I spent time with John and his new girlfriend, the kind and beautiful Camille. We ate out in great restaurants, spent some time in John's apartment, and went to a tea shop where I got a vanilla green tea that was superb. We sat out in the street and were treated to the talents of a street musician. We also biked along the waterways which was so much fun! In Montreal we camped out in Rachel and Joel's well-appointed apartment and were served two amazing breakfasts and a scrumptious supper. We went to see a photography exhibit and we also went to a comic book event. I bought one of the comics which are pretty funny... although some in the crowd were offended, a rather vocal minority, who didn't see the joke. For them, it just wasn't funny to poke fun at sacred cows, namely Canada's indigeneous issues, and the residential schools. To be fair, the author did not really poke fun at the expense of the Native peoples, but for some this is no laughing matter ever.

A highlight of the weekend was seeing the blood red moon. We didn't see the full eclipse as by that time we were in bed. Still it was pretty spectacular! That was Sunday night. Sunday morning we attended a wonderful service with Rachel and Joel. All in all it was a great weekend. I will show some pictures later. Another great thing was the crape I had with blueberries, strawberries, chocolate and cream on Sunday afternoon.

It is also good to be home. I have some work to do tidying up my room. I have Bible study with morning again which I always enjoy. I think I may have something this afternoon as well.

Life in Canada is good! We are fortunate to live here. Some people in the world do not have the blessings we sometimes fail to even notice, like running water and electricity and a selection of shoes. Or even a home that keeps out the rain and snow. Many people do not even have a room of their own.

I am blessed to be in my family. My parents are kind and considerate people. My sisters are lovely and good. My brother is kind with a good sense of humour. I am looking forward to January when we will all be together again for Linda's and Mike's wedding.

A good point that Rachel and Joel's pastor made was that it is not about our happiness. That will follow as a matter of course. But actually we should be seeking first the kingdom of God, and only then will all these things be added unto us. It was a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and what kingdom goals entail. Happiness is not the object. It is a by-product of a life well-lived, wherever you find a place to lay your head.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Friday Journal (on Thursday afternoon) Sunday, Sept 17, 2006

May you live all the days of your life. Jonathan Swift.

September 17, 2006

This is my first entry in what I hope will be a journal chronicling the journey as I begin to explore my dreams and aspirations. About a month ago I had my last day at the worst job I have ever endured. The work wasn't difficult or challenging but the atmosphere was toxic and my performance reflected it. At the beginning of September, still job-less, I moved from my parent's home to my own apartment, newly turned 26 years of age. Meanwhile I went through an application process to be an occasional student at McMaster Divinity College so I could take a course in New Testament Greek with the hope of doing postgraduate work in biblical studies I have been interviewing Redeemer professors to obtain advice.

Last week, in answer to prayer, I miraculously obtained an office position in Burlington with a boss who was willing to accommodate my course. Maybe it is not a miracle but it is a definite blessing from a Father who knows how to give good gifts and provides for his children what they need. I start the position tomorrow, so this entry will be brief since I should get to bed soon.

I really sense God is watching over me and directing my steps. I think I will find the purpose I was created to fulfill. I am rereading the Purpose Driven Life and I am on day 14 and it is very encouraging and inspiring. Today was a wonderful Sunday with two good messages; one from Mark Knetzch about the valley of dry bones. God's spirit gives life to the hopeless and Jesus has accomplished our salvation.

Well, I should get to bed so I can be up for 6:45 am tomorrow. The rest will have to wait for another day.

My next entry in the journal was not until January 1st, 2007 and my last was August 15, 2015. I have so many journals; entries are sporadic at best. This journal is only for my deepest things and dreams.

A Blogging Break!

I am going away this weekend to see family, which I am really excited about. I will see Rachel in Joel in Montreal and John and his new girlfriend Camille in Ottawa.

There will be no posts from Friday afternoon until Tuesday morning. I will enjoy spending time with family and will not be bringing my laptop along. I will however, be taking along my camera so I may have pictures to share.

If I have time I may post something before I leave on Friday morning... We will see... Really pumped about this time away!

Some one will still be home, so the house will not be empty... Just going with my parents and a barbeque!

A Firm Footing

John Milton, if I can recall back to the time a long time ago when I was an English major/Religion major, once wrote "They also serve who stand and wait." He was considering how "his light" is "spent," after suffering from blindness near the end of his life.

Waiting is an art form. Not knowing where you are headed, what you will do when you get there, and why you are in a holding pattern in the first place, can be tough. It is only trust that allows you to wait for answers or for some sign you will be okay.

I am well in body and in spirit and my mind is healing as well. God's blessings are upon me and I know Jesus Christ is with me, walking beside me, and maybe at times carrying me.

Yesterday I went to a celebration of the program I have attended since I was a teenager at 19. It is a wonderful program called Cleghorn. I have had the same doctor since I began and she is excellent. They started Cleghorn ten years ago. Before that they were at McMaster with the 3G clinic. It was wonderful to see how Jock Cleghorn began advocacy and research work back in 1986 and to see the photos of my nurse and doctor in their younger years. I also saw my old occupational therapist there, who has since retired and is married to another doctor I once had.

I met a class-mate's father there and heard the wonderful news about what is going on in his life and that of his family. It was a very encouraging and fun time. I arrived home in time to make supper.

I am very blessed to have the medical care that I do; thanks to the work of people like Jock Cleghorn, my doctor, and my nurse who raised awareness and continue to help people regain their lives. They are an inspiration and I admire them.

I am grateful for how God took me through this summer and gave me a firm place to set my feet. Life is not the same, but it is actually better!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Whimsical Wednesdays- "Winter Ballet"

I wrote this poem in grade 12 English class. I included it in an anthology I did for Writer's Craft in OAC's. It was inspired by my time out in the country, lying in the snow-covered field  at my grandparent's house.

Winter Ballet

Pixie dust whirls around
My soft down-covered bed
A white blanket muffles the countryside.
As far in the distance
A whistle calls.
A dog barks,
And my heart
Beats a steady rhythm.

Lost in the white silence,
The gentle breath of wind,
The swirl of flakes,
I rest in winter's embrace.
I breathe out icy clouds
Which swirl away
To join
The ballet of the snow.

Just for fun. Here is a poem I wrote at school when I was eight from the same anthology. I illustrated it as well with a picture of a whale and a black haired observer leaning out from the sea, perhaps on a boat. I have left the spelling errors and improper lines in for a more authentic feel.

O Great Whale I love your tail for it is
very pretty. But great Whale why are
they taking you to the city? Will they turn 
you into rocks What about pink pokadots? O Great
Whale I love your tail. But I am filled with pitty
for you are going to the city.

A Spring Whose Waters Don't Fail

When I think about all the many ways God has blessed me in my life, my heart overflows with gratitude. Sometimes I get distracted and start to consider my problems. Jesus said, "You will say to this Mountain, be cast into the sea..." and it will be done.

I am trying to discern my calling. There are many things I could do, but I can't choose all of them. I will be going back to work in time, but I also have a sense I am to pursue biblical studies and writing and teaching the word of God. I will be volunteering in the meantime and even there I will have to chose carefully.

Thankfully I enjoy Bible studies so much, it does not drain but energizes me. I will start work part-time so I can ease into working again. I am travelling to see family this weekend and later I will be visiting my sister in Cochrane, Alberta for a few days. By the time I come back I should be up for a challenge.

Waiting patiently is not my strong suit. Worry is my downfall, but I will learn how to trust God with everything in my life. He has a plan and he has a purpose in mind. It is only for me to discover where my giftings and vocation will lead me. Jesus has reassured me it will be an adventure and that he has my back. He won't ever let me drown in my problems and doubts. He gives living water and it will become like a spring bubbling out of me! He will renew my strength and trust, and he will never let me go.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Song of my Soul

I have been blessed with many mentors in my life. There is one woman in my church who invested so much time in praying for and ministering to me, from before I went to Mohawk College for nursing and beyond. There are nurses in my church who have invested in me spiritually as well. They are much older, but also wiser. When I was learning about foot care, I practiced my novice skills on people from my church.

Last night I went to Immanuel prayer at my church, and it was wonderful being coached and spending time fellowshipping with Jesus. He showed me some things that made me thankful for all he has already done and all he is doing in my life, and just who he is... Simply delightful!

Whenever life gets rough, as happens in almost everyone's life at some point, I know I can trust Jesus. Sometimes I have to remember Jesus is not only Saviour, he is also Lord. I relate to him more in his humanity than in his divinity. I forget that he created all things, as he is the WORD that was with God in the beginning, and that he now holds all things together. He is seated at the right hand of God, interceding for me and for all the church.

That's something I can barely wrap my head around. It seems beyond my comprehension. Such a permanent mystery! But really it is an adventure waiting to happen... Life with God, surrended to him, is never dull. My life this spring and summer has been turned upside down, but Jesus has righted the boat and he has calmed the storm, saying "Peace be still!" He is also calling me back to joy and delight in him and in life. The more I know him, the more I love him!

I wouldn't trade what this summer has taught me for anything. Growth can be a painful process, and stretching can hurt, and saying goodbye to people you have loved is never easy. Still, I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Economy of Mercy

"If we could push ajar the gates of life,
And stand within, and all God's working see,
We might interpret all this doubt and strife,
And for each mystery could find a key.
"But not today. Then be content, poor heart;
God's plans, like lilies pure and white, unfold.
We must not tear the close-shut leaves apart--
Time will reveal the calyxes of gold.
"And if, through patient toil, we reach the land
Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest,
When we shall clearly know and understand,
I think that we shall say, 'God knew best."'

I spent time yesterday with my sister and her wonderful fiancee. She is getting married in January and the two of them are so well suited to each other. I am happy for them, but at the same time the familiar pangs of envy rose up in me. I wanted a joy like that. My sister is five years younger than I and no one else in my family is without someone significant in their life who is a good fit for them. It is easy to think woe is me, but actually God's timing is best.

Additionally, where did I get the idea that I need someone special in my life at all? Singleness is also a gift which I better enjoy as long as I have it. I love children, but a husband and children don't complete you as a person. If I am to have that joy, I will take pleasure in it. But that is not for this season in my life. So the dissatisfaction and loneliness I feel should drive me to Jesus, who is my best friend and closest companion. I mean he knows my desires and thoughts anyway and if I pour out my heart to him, he can handle my grief, pain, and questions.

Just as the Israelites, after forty years of desert wandering, because of a generation's unbelief, eventually reached the promised land, I will also reach the territory of my destiny and purpose. In the meantime there are many ways to serve and love and grow and change. Not knowing where you are going can be challenging, but also can be an exciting adventure. Imagining all the possibilities can increase my gratitude to God that I have so many gifts, opportunities, and friends and family to support me. As I make important decisions for my future, I only have to ask God for wisdom and he will provide it. Mystery is actually a beauteous thing in God's economy of grace! When the veil is lifted, I shall see clearly.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday night Reads: The Psalms

There is just something about the psalms... They contain the whole spectrum of human emotion. You name it... It is in there. David is one of the greatest psalmists and even his son Solomon and Moses have some psalms. Then there are the liturgical Levites who continue in the great tradition of David.

The Psalms are great for praying through. They are a source of comfort and joy. David gets in many tight spots in his life, but he almost always ends by praising God.

And then there are the Laments, which are so rich and helpful with any person who is struggling through life. One morning in the wee hours I tried to read all 150 psalms once I realized I wouldn't be able to sleep that night. It strengthened me for what was ahead, as the very next day I was in the hospital and had a psychotic break. If you can't sleep, pray and read the Psalms. I recommend it to any one who is searching for the answers to life. Puzzling things out can be difficult work, but the great psalmists are genuine God-seekers. I would love to some day read the psalms in the original Hebrew as the poetry is very beautiful in its original language and cadence. Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem and many of the psalms follow a strict poetic structure. It is all fascinating for me to study.

Today I got a new study Bible at a garage sale. It is an NIV study Bible. I already have an embarassing riches of Bibles, but Biblical studies is my passion and I love mining the pages of Scripture for the hidden treasure the Holy Spirit put in there... It is tragic when a Bible ends up collecting dust on a shelf and is not read by someone who is spiritually malnourished without it. That's why I no longer feel bitter about the Bible someone stole from me. If they stole it, they probably benefited from it and I certainly could afford to replace it. Some people are dying without a Bible in their own language and that for me is the missionary imperative to translate the Scriptures into as many languages as possible. My cousin is doing that work with Wycliffe Bible translators and I am hoping to support his ministry in a meaningful way through prayers and financial support.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Night Flicks


Whatever his personal demons, there is no denying Robin William's enormous talent as an actor. While not as inspiring as "Dead Poet's Society" or "Patch Adams," "Awakenings" has another talented actor Robert De Niro, who adds something intangible to this film. De Niro was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Leonard, the first patient to receive an experimental drug, which is able to rouse patients from catotonia, a state in which mental patients are unable to move spontaneously or even verbalize. This is one of the worst symptoms of schizophrenia and is tragic to behold. Williams plays Dr. Malcolm Sayer, who comes out of his own shell through his friendship with Leonard.

The sheer exuberance as the patients awaken from their catatonic state is very touching to watch. Though unfortunately the wonder drug, as so often is the case with psychiatric drugs, proves not to be so wondrous; that is the tragedy of the story. It is this reality that makes the movie so sad.

The fact that it is based on a true story, only makes it a more fascinating film. While I will always enjoy Robin Williams as an irrepressible Peter Pan or a uncontainable force in "Mrs Doubtfire" more than any of these melodramas, I have to admit Robin William's legacy is more these films, in which he gets serious about the black dog I never suspected he faced. His shocking suicide is what opened up a worthwhile debate about mental illness, and so I think his genius was not wasted on an unaware and often uncaring world.

Friday morning Journal

This an entry I wrote in Writer's Craft when I was seventeen.


It's been awhile since I felt a deep sense of awe. In fact, I can't recall the last time I felt it. I think I still have the capacity to be awed; the ability to look at something with the wonderment of a child.

I've been awed many times in my life. The Rocky Mountains awed me. I felt awe when I stood beneath the shelter of a humagous Red Cedar tree. In the country at night I have been awed by the stars. I felt awe as I gazed upon my new baby sister- so tiny, so perfect, so helpless - hooked up to an IV and heart and breathing monitors. I've felt awe watching a sunset on the beach.

Each time I've felt awe at something in God's creation - I also feel awe at the Creator who made them; Feeling awe does connect you to God.

Lately I've felt awe at....
the snow storm

Tuesday March 24

"We are of such value to God that He came to live among us and to guide us home. He will go any lengths to seek us, even being lifted high upon the cross to draw us back to himself. We can only respond by loving God for his love." Catherine of Siena

When I hear of the lengths God went to save me, or how much Jesus suffered for me, sometimes it just doesn't register. Maybe I've heard it so many times, I become deaf to it. When I say that Jesus died for me I often don't think what that entails. Jesus was whipped, was scourged, was mocked, was jeered at. He was nailed on his hands and feet to the cross. He had to struggle for each breath. He was stripped of his clothing.

The minister said criminals often didn't make it to their crucifixion. They died from just the flogging, All the while Jesus could have stopped it. But he stayed of the cross. He was God's son, yet he bore the whole wrath of God for our sins, my sins. That should make me intensely grateful.

This is my last entry in my journal as after this I asked to no longer write in it. Mrs. Rooks gave me the journal when she visited me in the hospital. She told me to "write in your book as you would write to a good friend. Write every day, Suzanne, so that you can learn to trust your voice and feel that this book is a friend too. I hope you'll find that writing is a source of strength and comfort, as it is to me..." She was a wonderful teacher!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Discipline Vs. Devotion

I have arrived at a place of overflowing blessing. God's faithfulness is new every morning. Every time I get impatient and try to plan my future, God stops me and reminds me he is with me every step of the journey.

I am a planner. At university I began a habit of planning out my week. When I had classes, and blocks of time when I got my homework done or studied for a midterm or exam. I was extremely disciplined. When I started Trim Healthy Mama, I was also extremely rigid and controlled. It is in my nature to want to control everything!

But when you progress to trying to control other people, that is when you cross the line into manipulation. And the thing is.... I am good at it. I know just how to pick a fight. What I can say that will start a war of words. I actually enjoy debate, argumentation, and controversy. And I confess, I am a little bit of drama queen.

So the flip side of that is I can be very empathetic and compassionate. I have had that sense of compassion from childhood, but it went away for awhile in my late teens and early twenties. That was my angry at God period.

God has been changing me in the last two or three years, and the work has been so gradual, it is almost imperceptible, but it has been happening, This spring and summer have been a trial by fire, a purifying rain, but I feel like thanks to Jesus, I have passed the test, as Galdarial would have said. Jesus has such a firm grip on me, I know I will not fall and his promises will not fail. Great is his Faithfulness!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Whimsical Wednesdays

This is a poem I wrote in grade nine, after my Opa passed away that summer. It was the same summer we moved to a new neighbourhood and my Dad started his own business.

Final Goodbye- by Suzanne den Boer

Kneeling at his pillow, full of dread
Gazing at him, yellowish face on the whiteness
Trembling hand on my arm
Tears blurring my vision
Weak voice in the empty room
"You also have gifts from the Lord,
Use them to in service to God
And for the betterment of society."
Stumbling over the words
"You said you were good at Bible
You could serve God in that area."
Fighting tears
Trembling lower lip
A kiss
"I know it will be hard for the grandchildren
It is for me to leave you behind.
But it is God's will."
Nodding miserably
Bringing my lips to his
Aching throat
"Cry now."
Gentle words bringing hot tears to my cheeks
Needing to tell him of my love
Whispering, "I love you."
"One last time."
Another kiss
Leaving the room
I would do as he asked

This poem was also written in grade nine. It is not a true haiku, but uses the five senses to reflect upon the topic.

Fire- by Suzanne den Boer

leaping grasshoppers

a noisy hiker in the woods

scalding water


hot peppers

Faith Enough

The ice is thin enough for walking
The rope is worn enough to climb
My throat is dry enough for talking
The world is crumbling but I know why
The world is crumbling but I know why

The storm is wild enough for sailing
The bridge is weak enough to cross
This body frail enough for fighting
I'm home enough to know I'm lost
I'm home enough to know I'm lost

It's just enough to be strong/In the broken places, in the broken places/It's just enough to be strong/ Should the world rely on faith tonight

The land unfit enough for planting
Barren enough to conceive
Poor enough to gain the treasure
Enough a cynic to believe
Enough a cynic to believe

Confused enough to know direction
The sun eclipsed enough to shine
Be still enough to finally tremble
And see enough to know I'm blind
And see enough to know I'm blind

Should the world rely on faith tonight

Jars of Clay from the Album "Who We Are Instead"

Sometimes faith is just enough. You don't know where you are going, just as Abraham (then Abram) didn't know when God called him. You can only see one step ahead of yourself, as if you had only an oil lamp to light your way. You are disorientated, you think yourself barren and sterile of hope, you don't know when what you planted will even bear fruit. Your body may be frail, your physical energy sapped, your spiritual energy flagging. But if you can trust, and obey what you sense God is calling you to do, you will find faith is enough.

Why is the world crumbling? It is build on greed, on lust, on rivalry, and war against the other. The kingdom of God will one day fill the entire earth and all this will just be a memory. It is then we will want God to tell us "Well done, good and faithful servant." We need to build our lives on the solid rock so when the storm comes, our structure will be standing firm.

We need to try to get along with people who are of different backgrounds, different faiths, different cultures. We must stop exploiting the poor and the marginalized. People have to realize who they are hurting when they pick up a prostitute on the street. Not only are they hurting themselves, they are exploiting another human being. We also need to help the homeless and dispossessed. They have genuine grievances and often have nowhere to turn for help. They may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, but they do this to medicate their pain. Those who are Native to Canada have been wronged for centuries and have a legacy of abuse and mistreatment at the hands of the powerful.

Before we judge another person, we need to take a good look at ourselves. The same goes for me. Do I talk the the talk more than I walk the walk? Talk is cheap. People listen to action. Preach the gospel by your actions, and then if necessary use words.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Building on the Rock

Beginning this spring, I have been working on a Beth Moore study on the Fruits of the Spirit. My sister had given it to me as a birthday gifts years ago, when I was a nursing student. With so many things to read and so much homework to do, I chose not to do it other than the first few lessons.

A couple of weeks ago I finished the study. I was hoping once I finished the end, the one on self control, I would actually have acquired some! That's the thing; you can learn about the Bible all you want, but if you don't actually apply it to your life, you are like the man who looks in the mirror and immediately forgets what he looks like.

I did learn a lot from the study and I will be rereading the materials soon I think.  Now I am studying Hebrews with a group of ladies at a local church near my house on Tuesday mornings. For me Bible study is energizing and inspiring. I enjoy singing and praying with the ladies who attend and the fellowship of believers from all different churches is amazing!

As I read today in Jesus Calling, in devotion to Jesus there is a danger of it turning into "another form of works" (Sarah Young, 270). We must come into the presence of God "joyfully and confidently" for we have "nothing to fear" (Young, 270). Perfect love, drives out all fear, because fear has to do with punishment.

As believers, we will be held accountable before Jesus for how we lived our lives. However, Jesus forgives us all our sins and failures. At the Great White Throne, he will give us our rewards for the things we did in this world to help others and advance his kingdom. Some of the things we did from impure motives or mistakenly will merely be burned like straw or stubble. We will all be judged by the quality of our craftmanship. I think I want to build with stone, mortar, gold, and costly stones. What about you?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Some Reassembly Required

In my life, Jesus is busy doing carpentry repair work. Reordering a few things here. Moving some things around to get them tidied up. Doing a little sawing and then sweeping up the dust.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at him doing such work. He was originally a carpenter after all, and I did invite him in my heart to stay so naturally we should clean house together. This renovation work will also involve building up some fences that got torn down in the back 40.

Some walls are meant to be there to protect you. Other walls you build to keep Jesus out of certain parts of your heart need to come down. Jesus is the only one with the knowledge and skills to do such work in a way that will protect your heart, mind and soul from further damage.

Jesus was tempted in every way. Yet he did not sin. He understands temptation certainly. But as the sinless Son of God he is the one qualified to also be the Great High Priest and stand in heaven interceding for me. But he is also the Good Shepherd who was willing to lay down his life for his sheep, 

I don't know why I keep going astray. All that I know is I am glad he always goes looking for me and finds me and brings me back to the green pastures and quiet waters. Because he restores my soul, Goodness and mercy dwell with him and as long as he is with me, I am going to be okay.

So the pruning work can begin on my garden, It might seem a little painful, but it has to be done; Each branch in Christ that bears fruit is pruned back, but the ones that are unfruitful are burned in the fire. The flames are real, but so is the Gardener, the Vine, and the branches. We all must remain in the Vine in order to be fruitful and to avoid being unproductive in our knowledge of the truth.

There is no sense having truth, and not being willing to apply it, even if it hurts. Christ is also the Great Physician. Today I am remembering my dear friend's father who is at this moment undergoing surgery. I am praying for the best outcome and a good recovery for him. He is in God's hands!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday morning Anticipation

Sunday mornings can be so cozy. My sister takes her shower before church. My Mom sits reading her devotional in bed. My Dad cooks breakfast half an hour later than usual, so he sometimes manages to sleep in.

This Sunday should be a great one! My pastor is back from a two week vacation, so he should be invigorated and refreshed. I have already seen him since he has got back and I think he is as passionate as ever about his work in Waterdown and the greater Hamilton area.

What I enjoy the most about my pastor is that he shares from his heart. He also preaches his message to himself as he realizes he has not yet arrived at the destination where he is trying to lead us. He spends much time in prayer and in Bible study. At times he feels called to share a different message than the one he prepared for that particular Sunday.

Inviting the Holy Spirit to direct your service can be thrilling as when every one uses their gifts, you really never know where you might end up. Somewhere good, somewhere healing, somewhere where you are stretched beyond yourself.  Stretching is a good thing for the spirit!

I love my church, because no one expects you to be any one other than yourself as a broken human being in need of God. Every one has a word of encouragement or exhortation or will simply give out free hugs. The children who attend the service are so wonderful and melt my heart! We don't have many young families in our congregation so our Church school is small, but the kids are really learning well. I help teach them occasionally.

One of my favourite going to church song is "We are going to make it to the Church on time." I also love Brian Doerkson, Hillsongs United, The City Philharmonic, Fernando Ortega, Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Switchfoot and Jon Foreman, Chris Tomlin, and Newsboys.

Just really looking forward to this day! May you be blessed whether you are staying at home today, going out with friends, attending a service in your own fellowship, or listening or viewing a service from the comfort of your own arm-chair.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday night Reads: "Exuberance The Passion for Life" and "The Forgiveness Handbook"

Exuberance: The PASSION for LIFE by Kay Redfield Jamison

This eloquent, fascinating book held my interest for 308 pages as I learnt about men and woman of genius, both with and without mental health difficulties. From Teddy Roosevelt who was a dynamo seldom seen in the political sphere to James Watson, the brilliant scientist who was behind the double helix, to a Vermont native who was fascinated with the study of snowflakes and spent a life time cataloguing them named Snowflake Bentley, men of action and passion are catalogued along with women who made a mark on the arts, science, emancipitation, and philosophy. Both Toad from Wind in the Willows and my favourite politician Winston Churchill are discussed with equal insight.

Most fascinating to me were the links between genius and mental illness. Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Virginia Wolfe, many influential scientists of the last millenium and present one, and Robert Louis Stevenson all suffered from one form or another of mental illness and/or drug or alcohol addiction or childhood privations, abuse, or neglect. Jamison makes a case for the point that exuberance can stir the deeper fibres of our nature and inspire us to previously unknown heights of culture and science, but it also can be highly dangerous and volatile. The world without exuberance would be a much lessened one, but being around these men or women of genuis can get dicey.

I have ordered Jamison's best-selling memoir "An Unquiet Mind" for my birthday present from Amazon. Jamison is an author of unusual power and insight. I am sure I will not be disappointed!

The Forgiveness Handbook: Spiritual Wisdom and Practice for the Journey to Freedom, Healing, and Peace Created by the Editors at Skylight Paths Introduction by the Rev. Canon Marianne Wells Borg

I chanced upon this book one day at the library and it literally changed me from a very angry, frustrated person to one who could accept the interruption mental illness had once again made in my life with a degree of acceptance and grace. The contributors are too many to name, but most of them are Reverends, or chaplains, or Doctors of Philosphy or Religion. All of them are in ministry of some kind to help people heal from hurts of the past or abuse. There are even some rabbis and imans who share an interfaith perspective on forgiveness. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There are mindfulness and visualization exercises, creative projects, and one ancient Jewish prayer which you can say every night for as long as you have to. After this tumultuous summer, I have to forgive many people who hurt me unintentionally or through busyness and/or self absorbtion. I have learned that hurt people hurt people and it is often someone's old wounds that cause them to wound you. Some people are unaware of their own wounds and their true identity as a child of God. God longs to embrace and comfort them, but they must come to him first for their healing.

I am giving a digital copy of this book to one of my best friends, who has a lot of people to forgive and is going through a healing journey of her own. I am also ordering my own copy, as the one I have has to be returned to the library next week.

A big thank you to my lovely sister Linda and her fiancee Mike who are getting me three books, an Unquiet Mind, The Forgiveness Handbook, and a new adult colouring book all from Amazon.


Love is a many-splendoured thing, It makes poets and prophets of us all. It exalts. It thrills us to our finger-tips. But human love can be very blind. You may not know the other person as well as you believe. So then you are in love with an ideal, not a person of flesh and blood or someone with struggles, weaknesses and short-comings; a person as human as yourself.

The good thing about God's love is that it is never blinded by prejudice. He knows us more intimately than any lover would. He loves us more than the greatest Father in the world today. He sees our sin, but he forgives it and casts it into the sea of forgetfulness. He views us as righteous, not because we are righteous, but because he is looking at us through Jesus. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, but he absolutely never condemns.

If you feel weighed down with condemnation, that is not of God. God's love is so free, so full of grace. He loves you too much for you to stay in your sin, or to wallow in self-pity for wrongs done to you, but he does allow you to do so if that is your choice.  God bought your freedom for a high, high price. He also bought your healing from the wounds inflicted by life or by other people. 

Forgiveness starts with a simple choice, but it is a journey. You may deal with anger still; you may rehash events for a time. But continue to make the choice to forgive every day, even if the person continues to offend you on a daily or even hourly basis. Ask God to show you the good qualities in this person and you may be surprised to see the beauty in this fellow image-bearer of God. God created each person with a special beauty and unique giftings and talents. Some people bury them deep inside but they are there, beneath all the hurt, the wounds, and the lies.

The truth will set you free! It does not enslave you. Stop trying to please every one in your life, and live for an audience of one. Jesus will help you, the Holy Spirit will lead you, and the Father's blessing will rest upon you.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling. And to present you faultless before the Presence with exceeding joy. To the Only Wise God, our Father, be glory and majesty and dominion and power both now and forever more! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Night Flicks- In Her Shoes

Any movie that Roger Ebert gives "Two Enthuisastic Thumbs Up!" and contains the comic talents of Cameron Diaz and Toni Collete, with Shirley Maclaine providing excellent support, is well worth a view. Not your typical mindless romantic comedy In Her Shoes explores what it is like to have a loved one who suffers from mental illness, and also dark themes such as suicide, family estrangement, sisterly rivalry, and betrayal and cheating.

This is definitely not a movie you want an impressionable ten year old viewing, but the ending alone is worth all the cringe-worthy scenes. My Mom watched it for the first time a couple weeks ago and she is certainly more squeamish than me as far as violence and sexual themes and she pronounced it a thoughtful, worthwhile film.

To avoid giving any significant spoilers, in case you actually want to enjoy this movie sometime, I will not give out the major plot points. However I will tell you the mental health theme is done with taste and is a truthful reflection of what happens in too many homes all around the world, when someone exuberant and full of life, declines anti-psychotic medication and treatment and decides to live on his or her own terms. The sound track is also quite lovely.

I normally have a hard time with movies depicting mental illness. I loved "A Beautiful Mind" and "Dead Poet's Society" and appreciated Robin William's performance in the little known film "Awakenings," but they really are so sad for me to watch. Any one who has to be repeatedly hospitalized for persistent mental illness is worthy of our sympathy and compassion, not judgement and censure.

The Perfect Roast

Sometimes you can only be grateful to God that he did not answer your fervent prayers. That he saw things more clearly than you ever could. That he knows you better than you even know yourself.

Every one fails at some point to discern what is best for their own life. They get caught be in the emotion of the moment, hear what they want to hear only, and fall into a pit they probably helped dig for themselves.

I am someone who has some degree of discernment and in the past it has served me well. However I was majorly duped and this falling into deception has been a humbling experience. The worst are the comforting lies you tell yourself: "No there isn't a speck in my eye. Not at all. I see perfectly clearly to tell you you are dead wrong!" Meanwhile you have a large plank in your own eye that every one really wants to address.

"In your anger do not sin." Some of my anger was perhaps understandable, if misdirected to the wrong people, my loved ones who suffered through this hot, hazy summer with me. Much of it might be explained by what was happening chemically or hormonally in my body, but it wasn't until I started to seriously practice some hard-core forgiveness that things started to turn around. Most of what I was angry about were things that people did trying to help me, but through a lack of communication with key players other than me, I ended up paying a heavy price with my health and well being. But really some of the anger kindled in me could only be described as white-hote rage that was so explosive it could denotate at any time.

This experience has birthed in me a desire to help others who fall through the cracks of our mental health system. But I also want to use my gift of writing somehow to better the world and to speak clearly about my faith and experiences. Thankfully I had been prepared well through the ministry of my church to go through such a test of faith and trust, and they continue to support me through the ongoing journey. Eventually I may end up doing some mission work.

Really I just need to tarry here until I have clear directions as to my next step. I can only take it one day at a time. I am thankful for my healing that is here and the healing still on its way. I am thankful for my pastor, my church family, my friends and loved ones. I have been blessed with wonderful family and friends. Some people have no one who really cares for them, but I have such a network of support. This summer the missionaries who came to visit our church really blessed me. Those who passed away this summer left behind beautiful legacy and I look forward to seeing them in heaven. They are part of that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on.

I think I am much like one of my future brother-in-law's marshmellows so well done as to almost be falling into the flames of a well-stoked fire. Snatched just in time to not be consumed by fire, but rather to be devoured by some one who rates it a 10 out of 10 for being just gooey enough on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside. A perfect Mikey-mallow is a beautiful thing!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Summer Promise

Psalm 45
A Wedding Song of the Sons of Korah (The Message paraphrase by Eugene Peterson)

My heart bursts its banks
spilling beauty and goodness
I pour out in a poem to the king,
shaping the river into words:

"You're the handsomest of men;
every word from your lips is sheer grace,
and God has blessed you, blessed you so much.
Strap your sword to you side, warrior!
Accept praise! Accept due honor!
Ride majestically! Ride triumphantly!
Ride of the side of truth!
Ride for the righteous meek!

"Your instructions are glow-in-the-dark;
you shoot sharp arrows
Into enemy hearts: the king's
foes live down in the dust, beaten.

"Your throne is God's throne
ever and always:
The sceptre of your royal rule
measures right living.
You love the right
and hate the wrong.
And that is why God, your very own God,
poured fragrant oil on your head,
Marking you as king
from among your dear companions.

Your ozone-drenched garments
are fragrant with mountain breeze.
Chamber music--- from the throne room---
makes you want to dance.
King's daughters are maids in your court,
the Bride glittering with golden jewelry.

Now listen daughter don't miss a word:
forget your country put your home behind you.
Be here---the king is wild for you.
Since he's your lord, adore him.
Wedding gifts pour in from Tyre:
rich guests shower you with presents."

(Her wedding dress is dazzling,
lined with gold by the weavers;
All her dresses and robes
are woven with gold.
She is led to the king,
followed by her virgin companions.
A procession of joy and laughter!
a grand entrance of the king's palace!)

Set your mind now on sons---
don't dote on father and grandfather.
You'll set your sons up as princes
all over the earth.
I will make you famous for generations;
you'll be the talk of the town
for a long, long time."

This was a passage given to me this spring by an urban monk I highly respect. I was so sure I knew what it meant then. It is actually a Messianic psalm quoted in the New Testament, applying to Jesus Christ. The meaning is I was meant to find the quill pen in my hand and write about my King. I took it to mean that I, like the bride of the king in this poem, would be getting married imminently, to the man I was just getting reacquainted with at the time this was prayed for me. She said I would burst into bloom and that it would be like that tea where the flower blooms in your cup as you sip it. I would have a garden of my own and it would be a place of blessing and renewal.

I know see I have grown closer to Jesus through all these trials and tribulations. I am part of the bride of Christ, glittering in her wedding gown and waiting expectantly for her groom to step forth.

Among the Lilies
by Suzanne den Boer

When I awakened in the garden.
I was shocked by your power and sheer exuberance
My lips dripped honey; your arms were oak trees
My own vineyard I had neglected.
I never thought I would hear Rachel weeping again
For the children that are no more
The lost ones, the ones ripped out of her womb
The ones never born, while Leah rejoiced

But Rachel was weeping, and I wept too
Where are the children of my dreams?
Those little towheaded rascals?
Those fairy princesses so ethereal
And fair, their curls a garland?
These children are only dreams
This man is a vision of something
I once wanted so badly.

I said good bye to this garden,
To the scholar whose portrait hangs here.
My dreams were mixed as if by a painter
My tapestry was torn in your hands
The weaving unravelling and the flowers
fading: These are the wounds I received
At the house of my friends.
I weep now for the scholar,
For my faded dreams and the
beautiful landscape we once knew.

If you tap commandingly at my window,
I would welcome you as a friend.
And we would sup together.
I love you and so I release you
Like a dove to fly away into the wide,
wide, world.... You must go,
And find your way into the embrace
Of your own calling and your own
dusty path.... bring your sandals,
Not your blue suede shoes.
Please tell me that is a sprig of green
underneath your feet!

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Five Smooth Stones

It is remarkable how different serving God can look for different people. Some pack their day full, trying to balance many balls in the air, and always find more to do. Others are more deliberate and decide how their giftings might be best used in the context of their local church or in the hustle and bustle of their every day life.

Some people are blessed with an unflagging energy that pushes them ever outward. Others withdraw into themselves in order to strengthen themselves for their next big push. They are birthing something, and it is near time, but it is not the time to push. It is in this part of the labour that the pain is most intense.

When the child is born, the pain is forgotten in the wonder of the beautiful child. Mothers and Fathers find great joy in watching their children grow and develop.

Our Heavenly Father is the proudest Papa there is, when he sees his children working together with their big brother Jesus, and getting along with all the various off-shoots of his family. We are truly a diverse bunch. Before the cross, Jesus prayed his church might be one, as he and Father are one. The saddest thing for him, other than the dire state of our present world, must be that we argue constantly amongst ourselves.

Wake up church! The bride of Christ is nowhere near ready. Those foolish virgins will never get their lamps trimmed in time with enough oil. Jesus is standing at the door of our hearts and he is knocking. We need to invite him in to share a meal with us. We need to strengthen our brothers and sisters around our world and in our own neighbourhoods. These are the last of the last times and the time is getting short. If the slumbering church does not awaken and start to make the necessary preparations, judgement will fall first on the church. 

Jesus loves his bride, his church, and he wants us all to be ready. Personally I think there are a lot of the things I want to get done before the day of his return. I need to choose carefully where I put my energy and passion, so I can get stronger to do what God is calling me to do. 

The funny thing is Jesus doesn't seem to be waiting for me to get stronger to use me. For His strength is made perfect in weakness. In asking for help, I am able to also encourage others. Just in being real about where I truly am at, I am already working for him. Even small assignments, can have an enormous ripple effect like a stone skipped across the water. Remembering what five smooth stones in the hands of a mighty warrior once did.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Morning Mercies

Sometimes it is remarkable how much more clearly you can see things in the morning. Things that seemed oppressive during the night melt away like the mist at dawn. As believers we do not see the end from the beginning in any case. To us, it is like we are seeing our reflection off a shiny red sports car. We are distorted and we only see ourselves dimly in the presence of this beautiful car.

At times our possessions that we cling to, dim our awareness of our need for God. At other times it is worry choking out our growth. Or maybe in hardship, we simply fall away, due to the pain of the moment. When we do not allow all these things and all this pain to distract us, it is then that we bear much fruit. Jesus stated, "Apart from me you can do nothing."

If I really believed that, I won't go wandering off on some wild goose chase. I would stay in the place and with the people God originally called me. I would sink my roots in deep, remembering I can be transplanted later as God directs.

That is the key: As God directs. Let his will and not mine be done. Mary the mother of God once said to the angel Gabriel, "Let it be to me according to your Word." If only I could have such a moment of utter surrender to the purposes of God. Because he will bring it to pass, once he has spoken. I pray for that day to come soon.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Suzanne as a Hypocrite

In the Shakespearean Sense

I should probably apply for a job as a tragedarian. I would do very well over-inflating people's opinions and passing them on to other people. Think Othello or Romeo and Juliet. I would be the person who simply thinks they have no other option than to become a star-crossed lover.

Of course watching either play you just want to shake some sense into these overly dramatic people. If only Othello didn't allow his jealousy to spin out of control. If he recognized he was different than others, but in a good way, maybe he wouldn't have murdered Desdemona. Or if only Romeo had actually listened to the Friar's wisdom, or Juliet hadn't been so hasty to view all things as lost forever.

Young lovers tend to be dramatic I suppose. But as someone who has tried online dating with disasterous results before, I know my way around love, you would think. However I had never actually been deeply in love with any one. Folly seems to dog my footsteps like a faithful but overly persistent pet.

If I would listen to the voices of wisdom all around me, I certainly would have it in me to be more discerning and discriminating. It is in following poor advice, or my emotions instead of my heart, that I run into trouble. I tend to be overly nice to certain guys, which naturally challenges them to attempt to win my heart through kindness and/or sheer persistance. Some guys have a tough guy personna, but I have more power as a woman than I sometimes recognize. When you play with fire, expect to get singed by the flame.

Creating false expectations is not kind. Trying to match-make various friends is not kind to any one. Did I learn nothing from Emma from Jane Austen? Manipulation of others even with good intentions is never a good idea.

I am basically a push over. I would do anything for the children or seniors that I work with. However, tough love is sometimes necessary for strong-willed children and you can't allow yourself to become a door mat.

If I don't want to remain unsuccessful at love, I have to follow some basic biblical advice: "Guard your heart, for from it issue the well springs of life." When I do marry, I want to be someone who has followed this advice; I already failed in this area before, so I pray for a renewed innocence and purity.

No one should school themselves to be any one's Saviour. Those auditions have already been held. Neither should they actually seek martydom. That happens naturally in this sin-striken world. And absolutely no one is any one's personal Holy Spirit!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Surrendering Your Will

Sometimes joy comes only in the process of surrendering your will to God. Since he knows what is best for all his children, He will always bless you for surrendering your dearest hopes, plans, and dreams to Him.

The answer may be, "No my child I have something better in store." Or perhaps, "Not yet my child. You are simply not ready for what you ask for."

Accepting such an answer is hard, but God knows how to give good gifts to his children. In the waiting and watching, there is a gift from God.

Our heavenly Father will never abandon us in our pain and loss. He also promises a future full of hope and his peace. One day he will wipe each and every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain. For all this shall pass away like a shadow.

We will then see clearly what once was clouded by grief and sorrow. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Saturday, September 05, 2015


Things are looking up. Will write more tomorrow.

Mending a Broken Heart

When your heart is broken in the presence of God, he is your Healer. When you make impulsive choices that hurt yourself, as well as those you love, he is your Restorer who rebuilds the ancient cisterns and restores  the broken walls. When life no longer makes sense and seems to have lost all joy and purpose, he is your Redeemer.

Life and choices are not easy. But we have a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Jesus  Christ, the Risen Saviour, who forgives all our sins, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, and crowns us with love and compassion.

When your heart is shattered in a million pieces and frozen in your chest, he will repair, rebuild, and restore. He loves you enough to restore what was once beautiful and seems broken beyond repair or remedy.

Life is difficult. But God is faithful, and none of his promises will fall to the ground. He remembers the shape of your dreams, and he will bring your vision to pass in his own timing. It is hard to be patient until that day, but he understands we are dust. We are all like grass. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the Word of the LORD stands forever, and his purposes to all generations!