Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hope

I was privileged to teach a lesson at Celebrate Recovery last Monday June 2nd, 2014 on Hope. I am the Children's Leader at CR and every once in a while they'll let me out of  kids tower to speak to the adults.

For those who were unable to make it, here is the lesson for you:



Hope

Introduction:

Tonight we will be tutored on University Frat Houses, Baby Grand Pianos, and Spiderman, Seriously, although these topics will be discussed, our main focus tonight is on Hope.

Principle 2: Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”
Philippians 2:13

So what is hope? Some say that hope is the souls manna that feeds our future giving sustenance, energy and purpose to life. Other’s say that hope is the seed that is planted in a desperate soul. It is light and life in a dark place. It’s that ‘light bulb’ moment in our self-pity parties when we realize the negative attitude we hold onto is getting us nowhere and that we need to do something different to get out of the darkness that surrounds us. Hope is the realization that there is a need.

- When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end.
- When we are over worked and exhausted, hope gives us fresh energy.
- When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits.
- When we are tempted to quit, hope keeps us going.
- When we lose our way and confusion blurs the destination, hope dulls the edge of panic.
- When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us persevere beyond the pain.
- When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in control
- When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our recovery.
- When we find ourselves unemployed, hope tells us we still have a future.
- When we are forced to sit back and wait, hope gives us the patience to trust.
- When we feel rejected and abandoned, hope reminds us we’re not alone… we’ll make it.
- When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through our grief.

From the book “Hope Again” by Charles Swindoll

We don’t look alike. We don’t act alike. We don’t dress alike. We have different tastes in the food we eat (I love sushi and Greek… you may enjoy BBQ’s or Curry). We have different tastes in the books we read, the cars we drive, and the music we enjoy. We have dissimilar backgrounds, goals and motivations. We all work at different jobs, and we enjoy different hobbies. I love writing stories and going on adventures, maybe you like knitting, going on hikes, or riding motorcycles. We ascribe to a variety of philosophies and differ over politics. We have out own unique convictions on child rearing and education. Our weights vary, our heights vary and so does the colour of our skin and hair.
But the one thing we all have in common; we all know what it means to hurt. Suffering is a universal language and our tears are all the same.

Tonight we are going to take a deeper look into the word Hope, because if there is one thing we all need to understand is that God’s love is looking for us, no matter how lost we feel. God’s searching love can find us, no matter how many times we have fallen. This is our hope and this hope heals.

Let’s take a look at the acrostic for the word Hope:

H - Higher Power
O - Openness to Change
P - Power to Change
E - Expect to Change

H stands for Higher Power:

Roman’s 11:36
“Everything comes from God alone. Everything lives by his power.”

All hope, begins with this understanding of who this higher power is. I know in the past I have struggled with this. I have doubted my higher power and questioned who this Higher Power really is. Sometimes I have wondered if I said I believed, because other people said I should. Truthfully, I never really had a relationship with God. Back then I allowed my doubts to rule the way and just pretended to know what I was doing… pretended that I had a relationship with God. Some of you may be in this boat right now, wanting to but, just don’t know how to get there.

How do we get there? It’s a process. You see the first four words of the second step are… We came to believe… Belief is a result of consideration, doubt, reasoning and then finally a conclusion. This process takes time. For some it happens overnight and for others it takes years.

Without this belief, without this trust in our Higher Power we are not open to change or understand the Power we can tap into to change and we also have difficulties expecting change. Then we get stuck in our old patterns when we don’t trust in this amazing Higher Power.

So, how big is this higher power we are supposed to trust?

Ephesians 3:17-19
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. (You don’t have to do anything but accept/believe). Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

Agape Love is something really hard for us mere mortals to understand.  Let me try explaining it… a little differently…

Picture a University Frat House. Now, to get into one of these frat houses there is usually a few initiations you must go through before you are accepted into that particular house and each house has it’s own rules. Perhaps you’ve heard the one where the initiate must down a drink with a live fish in it and then proceed to throw it up… if the fish survives you may enter the home. Or perhaps you’ve heard about when students were deprived of sleep for many days, unless they ate a can of cat food. Maybe, you’ve heard about some students having to suck on oxo bullion cubes while parading around the neighbourhood with whole raw dead fish stuffed down their bras and then having to eat those fish afterwards. Nasty… but I only chose the more tame initiations that I read.
Now, picture a frat house with the doors wide open. No initiations. All you need to do is believe the doors are open and that all people are welcome, no matter what. All you need to do is believe and walk right in. That’s all.
All the other religions of this world or non-religious groups of this world are asking you to do something in order to join up. I want to get a Nexus pass for the girls and I because it would be a lot easier to go visit my sister down in the States with one, than sitting in the 3 hour border line-up at certain times. Paperwork filled out in triplicate, fingerprint scans and who knows what other scans. It’s quite a process and there are a lot of hoops I must jump in order to join this club of border crossing travellers. Maybe not drink a live fish or anything like that… but you get my point. But, Christ… has already gone through that initiation process, he drank the fish… and guess what? It’s still alive. We don’t need to do anything. Just believe that He loves us that much. His door is wide open; we just need to walk in. That’s it.

We are chosen by God, we are not thrown on this earth like dice tossed across a table. We are sovereignly and lovingly placed here for a purpose.

No disorder, no disease, not even death itself can weaken or threaten God’s ultimate love over our lives. No matter what the problem, no matter what the disappointment or depth of pain, no matter what kind of destruction occurs in our bodies or around us, we are divinely loved… always.

Believing in this kind of love has a tremendous healing power.

Hebrews 11:6
“Anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Psalm 62:5:
“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.”

A classic letter of hope is found in 1 Peter 1:2-6 and as you read the words picture Peter saying these things to you.

“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace. All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. it is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance - an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.

You see Peter (the Apostle), didn’t try to pump them up with positive thinking. Instead, he gently reached his hand to their chins and lifted their faces skyward - so they could see beyond their circumstances to their loving God.

He’s saying to them… now look… stop looking at your trials…
If God brought His son through the most painful trails and back from the pit of death itself, certainly He can bring us through whatever we face in this world no matter how deep that dark pit may seem at the time.

That brings us to…

Openness to Change:

So… okay, you’ve chosen to walk through that open door and believe. Now, what? Just sit on the couch and wish for things to change? Maybe even resist change? Change is scary… I have. I have found myself a few times like this…

(I opened up a bag of chips and flopped down on a zero gravity chair with a blanket and pillows on it and pretend to flick channels on a remote while munching on the chips).

"Oh, Lord… I wish my life would change. Please change it for me... Oh, Bones is on Netflix?"

Yes, the door is open to that particular Frat House. Yes, you believe and walk in and are accepted unconditionally. But, you are still in University and there is a lot to learn. You can’t just sit around and do nothing and just wish for change. You’ve got to open up the books and study. How else will you get to know what God wants you to do? You’ve got to be open to learn something new.
Let me put it this way… I love piano music.  But, I don’t know how to play.


If you lock me in a room with a beautiful baby grand piano and left me there for a day. I would not be able to play Pachelbel’s Canon for you. If you locked me in that same room, with the piano and perhaps a pianist playing Pachelbel’s Canon all day. I may be able to give you a few notes from it, but, it wouldn’t sound pretty. Now, give me lessons each day and theory on how to play a piano for months, perhaps many years and I might sound like Liberace…well, I might be able to play you something that sounds like Pachelbel’s Canon.
Same thing… If you stuck me in a room with a Bible and I stared at it all day. I wouldn’t really get to know God. I wouldn’t be able to teach you about God and how much He loves you. Now, if you threw a Pastor in with me, and he prayed and he talked about God all day, I may pick a few things up, but I would really get to know God if the Pastor did all the work? I need to pick up this Bible and open it and read it and pray and seek wise counsel and this must be done for many months, perhaps even many years.


Okay… Maybe you need me to show you a different way. (Throw sunflower seeds to the ground).Okay those seeds are hope. You can grow now… (Pause)… Hmmm…
Okay… come on. I am hoping you grow now… Why are they not growing?  These seeds need water, dirt, sunshine, and maybe fertilizer.  They won’t grow without it. You won't grow if you do not have the openness to learn something new, roll up those sleeves and get a little messy. I know... It's out of the comfort zone.

Jesus desires a hands-on, day-to-day, moment-to-moment relationship with us. With Christ in us, we gain perspective, we grow deeper in a relationship with him and maybe we even grow up?   

Power to Change:

God’s power in us can change us.


Spiderman… He’s the protagonist in the Spiderman’s stories, or if you like, the hero. So who is Spiderman’s archenemy or antagonist? The Green Goblin?  I think he has a few, doesn’t he? Well… did you know that you are the protagonist of your story? Yes, you are the hero. And you have a few antagonists wearing you down… don’t you? Well, you may not have “spidy” senses or a web that can help you fly and/or swing from tower to tower. You have something greater; you have the creator of the universe right by your side. That’s pretty powerful stuff.

Philippians 4:13:
“For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.”

We just need to tap into it!

Our final meeting is not with the antagonist in our life’s story, but with the author himself… as a Christian, what you are going through isn’t the end of the story… it’s simply the rough journey that leads to the right destination and out hope in Christ stabilizes us in the storms of life that blow our way and want to knock us down.

Expect to change:

Matthew 17:20:
“If you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed you could say to this mountain, “Move!” and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible.”

The dictionary says Hope is to desire with expectation of obtainment… to expect with confidence.

How do we do that when we feel like crap? When we feel unworthy?

Did you know that some of the most famous pieces of art in the world -Mona Lisa or the Pieta in Rome- are priceless because of their makers? World-renowned artists created them.

You were created by God.

Psalm 139:13-14:
“For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful…”

Now ask yourself: What is my worth? My value as a person? If we really paid attention to who made us and actually embraced that our worth is found in our maker and not in ourselves or in other peoples opinions of us, it’s not a stretch to say that each of us sitting here is a priceless treasure. Who we are is derived from who God is. Because of God’s greatness, we are created in God’s image just might have great worth.

God doesn’t make junk. You are not meaningless accidents - You are God’s masterpieces.

In closing, I’d just like to end with:

“As important as water is to fish,
Vital as electricity is to a light bulb,
Essential as air is to our lungs,
Hope is that basic to life
Take away our hope, and our world is reduced to something between depression and despair.”
Charles R. Swindoll from the book Hope Again

Without hope prisoners of war languish and die, students get discouraged and drop out of school, athletic teams fall into a slump and continue to lose, fledgling writers, longing to be published, run out of determination, addicts return to their habits, marriage partners decide to divorce, inventors, artists, entertainers, entrepreneurs, even preachers, lose their creativity.

Hope isn’t merely a nice option that helps us temporarily clear a hurdle. It’s essential to our survival.

This week may you be filled with a deeper understanding of who your Higher Power is and may you be drawn to his grace and mercy this week. May you be open to change and encouraged to step out of your comfort zone. May the freedom Christ gives to you, give you power through the trails and the storms that may pass. And from those experiences, may you find yourself expectant that a change is a coming.

In Jesus name.
Amen!

Thanks to:
- "Hope Again" by Charles R. Swindol  
- Celebrate Recovery Leader's Guide and The Landing Leaders Guide
- Jesus 
- Spiderman 
- You tube and Pachebel's Canon 

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Story Tree

My husband and I were sipping tea and staring at our Christmas tree the other night.
"I love our tree." I said, and he nodded.
"It's the best tree yet." I think I've said that same line each and every year. To be honest, I've meant it each time too because each year we add a new story to our tree.
I love the way I can pick any ornament on it, and know the story behind it.
"That's Alora's hand when she was in kindergarten, she made a Santa face on her hand print."
"That's Kalina's feet and hands, turned into an angel."
"There's the angel my mother made us. Did you know, she's made each family member one of those?"
"Oh my, there's the star cookies the girls made 3 years ago. I don't think they're edible any more."
"There's the melted snow man ornament we made when we manned the table at the Breakfast with Santa at North Ridge Church last year."
I can go on. But, it would take a while to get through all the stories on that tree. The point I want to make here is... this tree is a story tree. My family's story tree. It's not made with bulk plastic ornaments made in China. It's real. Not a fake plastic tree with a pretty mask. It has a history, my family's history, and that's a beautiful thing.

As we wind down to the last days of this Christmas Season, we should reflect upon a story that we all share as family members under Christ. It's not a fake plastic story with a pretty mask. It's real, it's our family's history, and that's a beautiful thing.

The implications of the name Immanuel(God with us) are comforting...
Comforting, because He has come to share the danger
as well as the drudgery of our everyday lives.
He desires to weep with us
and to wipe away our tears.
And what seems most bizarre,
Jesus Christ, longs to share in and to be the source
of the laughter and the joy we all too rarely know.

Michael Card

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chickens, Pirates, Psalm 59 and Sanity

Last month I taught a lesson at C.R.

"Don't you have to know something about a subject before you teach it?" my husband asked a week before I had to teach on the topic of sanity.

I post this for my family and friends, who couldn't make it that night. Yet, wondered how I ever put chicken's, pirates, and psalm 59 together for the topic of sanity.

Here you go. Let me know if it fits together?

Principle 2:

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

"Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4

Step 2:

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose." Philippians 2:13

trength
cceptance
ew Life
ntegrity
rust
our Higher Power

Strength

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

When we begin to move from chaos to peace or insanity to sanity, there are  gifts that come to us. The first one being strength. When we really believe that God exists, that we matter to Him, that He loves us, so much, that He died for us and that He has the power to help us recover. When we truly believe this with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, something changes inside of us. When we realize that we matter to our creator we begin to have purpose. Our simple screwed up lives actually begins to have meaning. We begin to slowly, step-by-step, receive strength to face the fears, that may have in the past, caused us to fight, flee or freeze.
God is our refuge and strength and with His help we begin to stop making the same poor choices again and again.

Acceptance

"Accept one and other, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God." Romans 15:7

I'd like to share with you an excerpt from my journal, dated April 26th, 2013. It was a day that I had to clean out the chicken coop at the equine barn I work at. 

I named this entry, "Chicken's Can Change".

I cried over a chicken today. It was dying. I hate chickens! They're stinky, mean and stupid creatures. So, why was I crying? Every time I walked into the coop, they pecked at me, the nasty beasts!

For years, I thought that one day I'd love to own some chickens. Fresh eggs every morning... yum. I don't think I want to own them anymore. I'll buy the darn eggs, thank-you very much! 

Why was I crying over that vile disgusting thing?

I found the idiotic, fat, white chicken lying on it's side in one of the horse stalls, turned chicken coop. She was underneath the manger. Her roommates were pecking at her. Can you believe it? While she took her last breaths, her siblings were making it quite uncomfortable to die, pulling at her feathers, and biting chunks out of her skin. Evil Beasts!

I made a fresh bed of hay up in the manger, kicked away the little brutes, picked up the terminally ill chicken and placed her gently out of harms way. I hate to say it, and I'm a little embarrassed by it, but... I even prayed for her. I left fresh water and food close enough that she wouldn't need to get out of bed, in case of a healing. Then I cried as I finished cleaning the coop. Why was I crying?

Have you ever noticed how stupid chickens are? They just do the same thing over and over again. Nothing new or different in their behaviours, just the same thing, day in and day out. No changes. Not wanting to change, or knowledge that things can change for the better, just the same old, same old. 

I'm told that's a sign of insanity.

I began to think about some of the people I know. A few in particular that show strong signs of perhaps being a chicken. They do the same thing over and over again and expecting the situation to change. Pecking at their love ones with their disrespectful words and/or behaviours. Drinking bad liquids and/or drugs that make them sick, day in and day out, their bad habits in control, and doing the same thing over and over again. Not listening to words of wisdom. Not listening to those who love them and want them to be the best that they can be, which is, I'm pretty sure not a chicken.

Then, I began to think of myself and my life. Wanting things to change around me, because at times, I'm unhappy, yet  I'm doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. When I don't speak up for myself, things won't change. When I put on the mask to hide my loneliness or disappointment in myself or those around me, depression sets in and things don't change. When I eat unhealthy foods, my body doesn't get healthy, and things don't change. If I'm too scared to step out of my comfort zone and don't venture out, things don't change.

I realized my attitude is everything. If I don't have the willingness to want to change for the better and the faith that God is there guiding me, I am stuck repeating the same unproductive cycle over and over again, just like those chickens. Then I knew, at times, I too was a chicken. I cried even harder. I cried for all those years when I did the same thing over and over again. Holding on to resentments, harbouring fear and dealing with it the same way over and over again. Wanting to change, knowing that things should have been better, but I was stupid. I didn't at that time know how to change it, and about a decade ago, in my loneliness and depression, I had thoughts of wanting to die. I was walking knee deep in poop and getting pecked on.

That's when Jesus walked into my dark and lonely life. He picked me up, put me in fresh safe surroundings, placed food for my soul all around me, and loved me. Then change came.

I don't hate chickens anymore. I don't agree with their lousy attitudes or their personalities, but apparently, I accept them for who they are. I smiled and wiped away the tears, because it was then that I realized... I had my Father's heart.
I may not have been able to save that particular chicken that day, but God gave me a glimpse into His heart and He saved me. I have the opportunity, you have the opportunity, to help Him save a few more chickens before we die.

We have the opportunity, right now, to accept our fellow chickens, as they are. We may not agree with what they do, but we can love them, just as God loves us. So, no more pecking, okay?


New Life

"We do not want you to be uninformed brothers about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But, this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raised the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

God leads us through renovations of our heart. You see, before there is room for new stuff, we have to throw out the old. That can be scary sometimes.
Even though we may know we are free, through Christ who sets us free. We are like this bird. Even though the cage is open, the bird is afraid to fly out. The shadow of the cage looms over the bird, just as the shadows of our hurts, habits and hang-ups may loom over us. The bird needs to fly and so do we.
New life is scary. How do we fly away from those old habits? 

Let me ask you this...

What things in your life has power and control? What and who, in your life, do you give power and control to?
I struggle with worry. Worry about what other people think. Thoughts that I'm not good enough. I fear displeasing someone, because I need to please everyone, but, that's impossible. I give power and control to these thoughts sometimes and I rely on myself to find help. I forget, every now and then, that I believe in a God who raised the dead. He needs to have the power and control in order for new life to begin, right here, inside me. He clears out the old to make room for a new and improved version.... No longer stuck... One with wings... One who can fly.

"I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces." Psalm 34:4-6 (NIV)

Here's a different version of the same scripture:

"I asked the Lord for help, and He saved me from all my fears. Keep your eyes on the Lord! You will shine like the sun and never blush with shame. I was a nobody, but I prayed, and the Lord saved me from all my troubles." Psalm 34:4-6 (CEV)

Jesus offers us a solution to our fear of darkness; himself. The light of the world. The only light leading to a life worth living. Our hearts were designed like a rechargeable flashlight. We need to plug into Him every now and then. We also need to give Him the proper space, for the more room we provide Him within, the brighter we'll shine.

The greater we illuminate. The more darkness we can squelch! (5 minutes for Faith - Author Nikki).

When we are too discouraged and depressed, when we still hang on to fear, resentments, anger, frustrations, disappointments.... you name it... we are still living in the shadow of that cage.

God wants to breath new life in us. How are you going to respond?

Remember, the greater we illuminate. The more darkness we can squelch. Let's give Him the room.

Integrity

"I have no greater joy that to hear that my chickens.... oops sorry.... my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4

When we begin to follow through on our promises, the result is that people will begin to trust us and trust what we have to say. If we lie, we show weakness and fear. The truth fears nothing except concealment. The truth hurts, but it's the lie that leaves a scar.

It's in the scars, lies and concealment's that we act out a little like Captain Hook perhaps? 

(I then donned on a hook and a pirates hat and acted out this skit by Nicole Johnson and Woman of Faith)



Trust

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe."  Proverbs 29:25

When we begin to choose peace over chaos or sanity over insanity. We begin to trust in our relationship with God and with others. These relationships are a very different quality than in our past associations and fair-weather friends whom we knew while we were active in our addictions and compulsions. 
Here at C.R we have brothers and sisters in Christ, people who are willing to walk beside us on our journey, friends we can trust, with whom we can share and whose encouragement helps us mutually grow in Christ. Not one above the other. Together side by side becoming better people in Christ.

Your Higher Power

"But God shows His great love for us in this way; Christ died for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8 (NCV)

He loves us this much!

"God my strength, I am looking to you, because God is my defender. My God loves me, and He goes in front of me." Psalm 59: 9-10 (NCV)

God not only walks beside us, guiding us, but He also walks ahead. The path we walk is not so dark anymore. His light is ahead of us and beside us and within us. 

We need His truth in our lives so we can make sane decisions to have peace... to fly. Without His truth we continue to stand in the shadow of the cage that we have built ourselves, and we continue to use our hook to peck at our fellow chickens. We need His truth to heal.

"Do the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives." Matthew 3:8

It begins with a thought, this journey into sanity, but it doesn't stay there. God asks us to do the things that show you really have changed. He calls us into action. He is telling us to, "Love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And second... love our neighbours as we love ourselves." (Mark 12:29-31).

From the deep well of a loving God, we are called to care about others, about their welfare, their physical bodies, their mental health, their comfort, and their joy.

This means no hooking or pecking!

It's a pretty radical command. But. it does interrupt our self-focus and self-centeredness. When we focus on Him and others, we begin to heal.

I'd like to leave you with a few words from the song "Redeemed".

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear you whisper, "Child lift up your head."
I remember, Oh, God, you're not done with me yet.

You are redeemed
He set you free
So shake off those heavy chains
Wipe away every stain
Stop fighting a fight, it's already been won
And know that you are not who you used to be.....

.... and fly!




Thanks to:
- You tube - for Nicole Johnson video clip and 'Redeemed' video clip
- Woman of Faith - NCV Bible and Nicole Johnson's 'Captain Hook' skit
- 5 minute for faith
- C.R Leadership guide
- The Chickens at Evergreen Stables

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Awkwardly Bold!

Caution: PG - Some adult content. The word sex is mentioned but no description. A great big awkward moment follows.





"You're going to have sex in the car with Rene?" Not only was my good friend blind, but I now knew she was also deaf. We were standing in the parking lot at the Ikea in Coquitlam and I wasn't sure if she yelled this out to embarrass me or if she truly did not hear me. It did make me blush a little and I felt a little awkward as well. The D4N's ladies had gone to do a little shopping at Ikea that morning for a desk and as we got out of the car and headed towards the entrance, I had a bold and crazy idea.
"I'm going to leave a sexy note on Rene's car." This is what I actually said. For those who don't know, Rene is my husband and has been for 23 years, this October, and he also happens to work at Ikea. So, it wasn't a random person that I was trying to be bold with that day.

That morning I had fallen off the curb after I waved goodbye to the kids. Another Mom and I share the commute to school, it was her turn that morning, and as I turned to go back into the house, I took a wrong step and fell to my knees.
"Do you want to come with Krista and I to Ikea?" I was nursing my wound when I got the call from Tamara.
"I would love to!" Yes, I, a Mom of 46 years of age had a scraped knee and I was feeling sorry for myself, it really hurt and there was a lot of blood. So, I jumped (not physically because of my Boo Boo) at the chance to get my mind off the pain and to hang out with these wonderful ladies that I have missed a lot. Being that caregiving is one of the many hats I wear on any given day, I bandaged the knee and off I went. We talked, ate, laughed, drank coffee, and shopped. I felt 100 times better.

In order for you to fully understand why I wrote that bold note to my husband, I need to tell you that I am a very shy person, and have been that way for double the amount of years that I've been married. I've been trying to come out of my shell, and I thought a sexy note for my husband would be one step in the right direction. He has asked me to be bolder. So, as I walked around the parking facility trying to find the car, I wrote. I went up the stairs where he usually parks but no car, they were doing reno's up there.  Then I went down the stairs. You have to remember I was wounded, so I hopped a bit and my hand writing wasn't my best. The words, I'm sure weren't my best either. It was after all a rush job. But I was as giddy as a school girl just trying to think up vibrant words to catch his attention. I didn't want the note to be in poor taste after all. It still needed to be respectful.

Rene didn't know I was coming to Ikea. He would be so surprised... or so I thought.

"LP was following you around Ikea today." Rene said as I walked in the door to our home. He had left work before we had finished shopping. LP stands for Loss Prevention, it's the Ikea in house security.
"What?" I asked. He reached for me, and hugged me. His eyes looked strange, and he swallowed.
"I didn't recognize the hand writing on the note, so I took it to LP to see who left it there," his face was contorted into an embarrassed half smile, "they followed you all over the parking lot."
"I was trying to find your car!"
"You were walking funny. I didn't recognize you on the video."
"I fell."
"Then I finally recognized your purse."
"The green one?"
"Yeah, the ugly one."
"Did you show them the note?"
He grimaced and nodded his head and hugged me. Then we laughed.

Being bold with your partner is a good thing, and I know God wants us to be bold in life towards others, as well. To love people boldly, can be filled with some very awkward moments sometimes. We shouldn't be afraid of those awkward moments, because then we would miss out on all those great moments, if we were too scared to be bold.

Here's a link to a book in the Bible called the Song of songs. It's pretty risque and bold. A story of two lovers, that I thought may be appropriate for your further research, on the subject of this awkwardly bold tale I have spun for you. I think you'll be able to handle it. Who knows? Maybe you too will find an urge to be bold!

I'm going to be bold once more, right now, and ask you to join me this Tuesday June 18th, 2013 at 6pm. Where? MRBC in Maple Ridge. I am teaching a lesson at Celebrate Recovery and I'll be talking about chickens, pirates and Psalm 59. FYI - It's a lesson on sanity. :) Not Awkward at all!

Be bold this week!

Love,
Anuschka

Thanks to:
- Hebrew World for the image from song of songs.
- LP coworkers at Ikea Coquitlam for helping my husband recognize his wife.
- Bible Gateway for the NIV version of Song of songs.
- MRBC for their open arms around CR.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Fast Curve Balls and Being Late

Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a Mom and Dad with two teenage daughters who liked to sleep and not talk.
One day they had a guest who came from the far, far, far away land of Quebec. She was twinned to the youngest of the sleepy and un-talkative teens in an exchange program called SEVAC.
They had lots of fun together with the french immersion grade 7 class, from here, and the English immersion grade 7 class, from there.
They hiked mountain tops, swam in lakes, kayaked across great distances, shopped and ate spaghetti together. It was an amazing time.
On the last day, the Mom wanted to make a really special breakfast for the girls. Since the girls didn't have to be at school until 9:15am, the Mom thought she would have plenty of time to prepare a special send-off meal. She got up early and put bacon in the oven. She heated up some biscuits and began to scramble the eggs.
"I wonder what time it is?" She thought to herself as she whipped the whisk in the bowl, just like June Cleaver would have done it on 'Leave it to Beaver', and she looked at the clock. "7:20am, Oh, they still have lots of time! But I should call them down now just in case things still needed to be packed for the long trip back to Quebec." Then she climbed up the stairs and knocked on the doors.
"Breakfast is almost ready! Come on down." Then she went back downstairs to the kitchen to cook the eggs. She wanted to make sure the exchange student had her belly full before the long trip home to the far, far, far away land of Quebec.
At 7:35am the exchange student was the first to walk into the kitchen. She seemed a little confused and began to point to her watch.
"We mussst bee... uh... hat school hat 7:45," she said in her cute french accent.
"No dear, 9:15. You still have lots of time," and she showed the girl the time on the official letter from the school.
"Ah, no," she said shyly, and then very quietly, "de flight time was changed, our teachers told us." The Mom panicked, not like June Cleaver,  and ran up the stairs to double check with her daughter. Perhaps there was a mis-communication in language? She hoped.
"DID THE TIME CHANGE?" the Mom yelled above her daughter, who was still fast asleep, and shocked the sleepy girl into consciousness.
"What?" the daughters eyes were half closed as she sat up slowly.
"Did the flight time change for your twin?" The Mom paced nervously beside the bed.
"Oh, yeah. I forgot to tell you. We have to be at the school at 7:45am."
"IT'S 7:40!"
"What!" the daughter bolted out of bed and got dressed in a flurry of chaos as the Mom ran back downstairs, grabbed the lunch she made for the Quebec student, and made sure she put it in her bag. The bag was quickly weighed and set at the front door. Then, the school van arrived at 7:50am, perhaps there were a few more parents who didn't receive the news on time?
"I'm late!" the daughter said and just the like the rabbit out of Alice in Wonderland, she darted down the stairs, through the hall and out the door to the awaiting van.
"At least I packed an extra sandwich for the long haul home to Quebec." The Mom thought as she watch the van, with her children and the exchange student in it, drive away. She turned back to the kitchen to clean up the untouched cold breakfast.
"My daughter has no lunch!" the Mom realized, and briefly toyed with the idea of bringing her daughter a lunch, but then changed her mind, "She has to learn!" that would be the consequences of the daughters forgetfulness, and the Mom hoped, that this forced fasting would help in future communications.

Sometimes life throws you a blind curve ball right out of nowhere. Well, it had to have come from  somewhere, didn't it? But you just weren't looking in that direction. The Mom certainly didn't expect the time change, but the daughter knew. Yet, chaos happened, even in the best of intentions.
How do you prepare for something that seemingly pops out of nowhere? How do we deal with it when it happens accompanied by lots of chaos? And how do we not become anxious and let go of sanity?

Everyrhing has a reason we are told. But, if everything happens for a reason, why didn't the little french girl get her breakfast? And what purpose could God possibly have for not letting her have breakfast? Was it a life lesson in patience for the Mom? A lesson in communication for the daughter? Or was it just a confirmation to the french girl, that all English people are weird and her grandfather was right all along?
I must admit, there are somethings in life that I just don't get. I don't understand why they happen and I just don't see the logic of it. But, I'm told I need to trust. You see if I don't trust. I'm going to start looking like that bunny, hopping all over the place anxiously, and on the verge of a heart attack, all day and every day.


There are somethings that I am in control over, but then at any given moment, that control can be taken away at the blink of an eye. If I fear losing control, I will be anxious all the time... even in those moments that I am in control and have no reason to be uneasy. This is no way to live. Under stress all the time. This sure isn't the way God created us to live.
When life gets chaotic He wants us to turn to Him. We need to trust Him. Sometimes, He's going to ask us to take a rest, and sometimes He's going to ask us to step up to the plate and hit that curve ball right out of the park. With courage and strength... not stress.

Remember, Mr. W. Rabbit did eventually get to his destination, but he was one big furry ball of stress all along his journey.

It doesn't have to be that way.

May you find His peace in the chaos!

Love,
Anuschka



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gratitude

Hello Everyone,

Last Tuesday I taught on 'Gratitude' at Celebrate Recovery. A few people came up to me and asked for the poem, some others asked what scriptures I used from the teaching, and some, like my parents, were unable to make it that evening.

Here it is... take what you need from it and enjoy.

The teaching began with a video from the CR teen program 'The Landing' called 'Thank You God':


I was all dressed up in office clothes, the way I used to look, when I went to work downtown many moons ago. As I spoke, I replaced those clothes one by one with the clothes I wear to work now (Rubber boots, Sudbury dinner jacket, toque and gloves). There was a reason for it... keep reading to the end... the answer lies there.
"Those who mutter, miss what matters!" I began with a quote (from Pastor Rob at North Ridge when he spoke on "Search and Rescue Training" a few weeks ago, see here to  listen to that sermon). Then I continued with a poem by an unknown author. A friend of mine gave me this poem, when we were teenagers, and I've kept it all these years. 

Forgive Me When I Whine

Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her, she seemed so gay and wished I was so fair.
  When suddenly she rose to leave, she hobbled down the isle,
She had one leg and wore a crutch, but as she passed a smile.
Oh God forgive me when I whine, I have two legs, the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy, the lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him, he seemed so glad, if I were late, it'll do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me "Thank-you, you have been so kind.
It's nice to talk with folks like you, because you see, I'm blind."
Oh God forgive me when I whine, I have two eyes, the world is mine.

Later, while walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play, he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said, "Why don't you join the others dear?"
He looked ahead without a word and then I knew he couldn't hear.
Oh God forgive me when I whine, I have two ears the world is mine.

With feet to take me where to go
With eyes to see the sunset glow
With ears to hear what I should know
Oh God forgive me when I whine, I'm blessed indeed!
The world is mine.

Author Unknown

Principle 7:
We need to reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for our life and to gain the power to follow His will.

Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.

or another translation (NCV) says:

Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly.

What does this look like for you? We all have very busy schedules, and I know it's hard to take some time, daily, to spend time with God. But how does spending time in Gods word, help us to see things a little differently than we normally would?

Let's take a look at His word and see:

Psalm 119:129-130 (NCV)
Your rules are wonderful,
that's why I keep them.
Learning your words give wisdom,
and understanding for the foolish.

Taking the time out of our  busy schedule to be with God helps us to focus on what He needs us to do, to become the person He created us to be.

Step 11:
We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.

So what is prayer  and meditation? Are they both the same thing?

When I first started on this journey of healing, I thought prayer and meditation meant the same thing, but they don't.

Prayer = talking to God
Meditation = listening to God

You are Gods handiwork, His creation.

How do you know what you were made for unless you have a relationship with your creator? He has your owners manual and He would love to talk to you about the operating procedures.

I'd like us to focus our prayers of gratitude in four area's of our life:
1) Towards God
2) Towards Others
3) Towards our Recovery
4) Towards our Church

(This is where I took off my shoes and replaced them with very muddy bog boots).

I like to do things backwards sometimes, so I began with 'the church'. Save the best for last!

"I must admit," I said, "I have had a tough time with the church. And there were times that I just didn't see the importance of 'the church'." I am an introvert, and I feel very awkward in social settings, always have. It's uncomfortable, and when things 'feel' uncomfortable, as a co-dependent, I avoid it.
It seems a few people 2000 years ago, felt the same as I do, because in Hebrews 10:25 it says,"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another."

How can I find encouragement or give encouragement if I am avoiding?
God has given each of us great gifts - each of us different and unique for a reason. Each of us is a different part of the body of Christ. A finger doesn't work by itself, it's part of a hand, attached to an arm, etc...
We are mediocre at best on our own, but we are great when we are together with the body of Christ. We need each other, it's how we were made. 

We need to be thankful for the role of the church in our lives, because it's a place where we can find a safe environment that offers encouragement, love and acceptance.

(This was where I took off my Office Jacket and put on my Sudbury Dinner Jacket).

Next, is to be thankful for our recovery.

Hebrews 12:1(NCV)
We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back.

Let us be grateful for those people here at Celebrate Recovery who have reached out and encouraged us... loved us, unconditionally without judgement.
Let us be grateful for the progress we've made since we first started healing from our hurts, habits and hang-ups.

There may have been times along this road of recovery when we have fallen and taken a step back. But, we got back on our feet and started walking on that road of healing again. We didn't give up. Be grateful for that. We are still on our feet... running that race and moving forward!

(This was when I put on my toque). 

Next, is to be thankful for others.

Colossians 3:15-16 (NCV)
Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking because you were all created together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful. Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

I am guilty for taking people for granted and I am guilty for not appreciating them as I should have.

We need to be grateful to others. Those special people who walked along side of us on our road to recovery. Those who have loved us, taught us and counseled us. Without these people in our lives, life would get pretty cold out there, disoriented and lonely. With out others we could possibly find ourselves... lost.

I was going to show this video next, for a little lighthearted look at why it's important to be a part of a small group. However, I couldn't find it on the CR "The Landing" programing and I didn't have enough time to download from the Skit Guys site to the CR media on time for last Tuesday. I found it on YouTube. Enjoy!


Did you know that prayer, reading our Bibles, having help and encouragement from others, and telling our stories can help us avoid the mistake of slipping back into what we feel is more comfortable? In other words... a relapse.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18(NCV)
Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus."

In my Women Of Faith Bible, one of the writer's paraphrased this scripture and I wanted to share that with you.

Be joyful always, even when you do not feel like it. Pray continually, never stop; and keep seeking God's heart and direction. Thank Him in the good, the bad, and even the ugly. Give thanks no matter what happens.

How is it possible to give thanks in all circumstances?

Does God want us to give thanks even in the middle of bad situations? How do we do that?

There have been times, in my life, when I have found it very difficult to be grateful to God. There have been times within the last 6 months, where I have not been joyful... even if I didn't feel like it.

- This summer I almost burned my house down, see my Wild West Diaries entry, "Casa del pollo fuego".
- I had ants in my kitchen, in Biblical proportions. For more on that story, you can read it here.
- We had slashed tires.
- My youngest daughter suffered from migraines.
- I have had issues with arthritis.
- Financial issues. 
And finally, I went from Accounts Receivables Clerk for Transat Holiday and Nolitours - staying at 5 star all inclusive hotels.... to... Poop shoveler at a horse/riding stables.

(Then I pointed at my old clothes, laying on a chair beside me).

"How did I get from that... to this?" I pointed to my barn clothes on me, "and why in the world would God allow that to happen?"

Those questions and more raced through my mind last Wednesday after a Appaloosa Pony named Prancer kicked me. Later that day as I nursed the horse shoe imprint on my upper thigh, I questioned why? Why am I here... in this place of my life... at 46 years of age. And I cried. Not because of the black and blue hoof print, but because I felt defeated. I was unhappy.

"How am I supposed to speak on gratitude next week?"  I thought to myself. I had the phone in my hand to contact Carol and Barry (The Leaders of CR), and to tell them, I couldn't do it. Then my daughter came home from school. She gave me a hug... then backed off with a look of disgust and said, "Mom, you stink!" Shoveling poop does that to a person. I put the phone down and went to take a shower.
I thought back to my office days and I slowly began to remember how unhappy I was back then. I left the house at 6AM and wasn't back until 7:30PM. I missed my girls. There were mornings when I would cry all the way to the train station. There were days , especially when the kids were sick, that I couldn't focus and concentrate on my job. I just wanted to be home with my girls.
Then I realized something... I may stink... but my kids can hug me when they get home from school. I am there in the morning for them and I am there in the afternoon and evening.

This is the reason why I can say, "Thank-you God!"

But wait there's more...

I took a look back into my old journals and I found something I'd like to share with you.

02nd April, 2008

...if I could do anything with my life? What would that look like? I would write stories, and tell stories like you did Lord. I want to inspire people to be who you created them to be.

Guess what? Today I write 4 blogs:
- Deeds For Needs (as of today has had 18, 307 page views.  My first post called "Too Busy" in Oct 2009 only had 2 page views).

This is the reason why I can say, "Thank-you God!"

But wait there's more...

I also wrote back in 2008, that I wanted to teach kids. I wanted to build up their self-confidence, so they would become strong leaders in their communities. To teach them, that no matter how tough life gets... they are loved. 

This is what I wrote:

Just watched my neighbour throwing her daughter up in the air. She's having a blast - both of them are.
I remembered when our girls were that age and the trust they had in us. Remembering the joy as we threw them up in the air. They trusted Rene and I to catch them, and we did, each and every time. They were able to let go and enjoy the moment.
When during their lives into adulthood do they stop trusting us and begin to question? Worries and fear slither and worm there way into our children's lives and they follow in our footsteps. Become addicted to alcohol, drugs, approval or bling... or worse yet, they become depressed and suicidal.
How do we prevent this from happening to our children?

What happened? We stopped trusting our father's... we stopped trusting God.

God has put me in a position at Celebrate Recovery to be a leader of children. I am the children's leader and every Tuesday night I teach the same things their parents are learning that night. I plant God's seeds to teach them that they do not have to follow in their parents footsteps. There are other ways to deal with their hurts, habits and hang-ups.
This is the reason why I can say, "Thank-you God!"

But wait... there's more...

Back then I wrote:

I just went to a Women of Faith Conference. It was amazing! I heard God speak to me as Nicole Johnson did a skit and spoke up on stage. He said to me, "This is what I want you to do Anuschka."

Now, it may not have been a Women of Faith Conference... but last Tuesday I was up on stage speaking. For a very shy person, who used to hate making eye contact with people... well...

This is the reason why I can say, "Thank-you God!"

But wait... there's more...

I just read an article about Child Psychology and Newfoundland dogs. The therapist writing the article explained how for months he couldn't get through to this young boy who had been mentally and physically abused for years. His neighbour was a Newfoundland breeder and some of his dogs were trained therapy dogs. The therapist brought one of the dogs to work with him and within five minutes the boy opened up and began his journey of healing.
Lord, I want to bring animals and kids together in a place where they can learn, grow, and heal together. Where animals that have been abused and kids that are hurting can come together in a safe, loving place of healing. Where kids learn to take care of something, learn to teach, learn to become pack-leaders and learn to love. Helping animals to heal as they heal.

Huh?
(Then I pointed to the old me... on the chair beside me).

That self over there, was mostly depressed.
That self over there put on a lot of masks to hide behind, because she was afraid all the time,
That self over there, wasn't genuine.
That self over there, would never have been able to handle an ornery horse who kicked, let alone and angry child who's been abused and is kicking and screaming to be loved.

Guess What!

1. I am home with my children
2. I am writing stories
3. I am leading kids
4. I am learning a lot about animals, barn management, and being a pack-leader... because, isn't that what I wanted to teach the kids?

I am exactly in the place where God wants me to be.

This is the reason why I can say, "Thank-you God!"

(This was where I got a harness and a rope out of the bag).

We humans have such a limited view, as to how our dreams come true.

(This was where I clicked my tongue as if I were calling a horse in. My dog Angel came in and up on stage with me).

"So, how many of you thought a horse was coming through that door?" I asked.

God brings things into our lives that are unexpected. Following God does that. We have a limited view and God is full of surprises. But what He does bring onto our path is good.

"Angel here, is a well-behaved, and obedient dog, who is very focused on her pack-leaders". Lucky for me, although Angel was nervous last Tuesday she did behave on stage. 
"I am one of Angel's pack-leaders. I love her. I treat her well. I lead her. I teach her. Guess what? God loves you way more than I love my dog. he loves you unconditionally, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can not earn His love... it is there, always.

Isn't that something to be thankful for?

So what are you focused on?

The world? It's problems? Your problems? Or a God who is there to love you, to teach you and to lead you out of the dark places along your path?

Then I ended with Paul's prayer to the Philippians:

Philippians 1:9-11(NCV)
This is my prayer for you, that your love will grow more and more; that you will have knowledge and understanding with your love; that you will see the difference between good and bad and you will choose the good; that you will be pure and without wrong for the coming of Christ; that you will be filled with the good things produced in your life by Christ to bring glory and praise to God.

That's when the Celebration Station kids came up with Barry and they sang, "You Lead" by Jamie Grace.
Thanks to:
- God
- Everyone who is a part of this journey with me 
- Angel my dog and Rene my husband for bringing her
- The Kids, Barry and Lorne at CR
- Prancer and the barn
- You Tube
- Skit Guys
- The Landing Programs
- Celebration Station Programs
- Celebrate Recovery Leader's Guide and Bible (NIV)
- Jamie Grace "You Lead"
- Woman of Faith Bible (NCV)
- The Unknown Poet
- Pastor Rob and my family at North Ridge