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

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Can You Hear it?

I got a book last month for Christmas, from my daughter. It's called "Where There is Love There is God" by Mother Teresa. I was reading it in bed a few weeks ago and the strangest thing happened. I could hear my heart beat through my pillow.
The pulse in my neck moved the lower lobe of my ear gently on the pillow. That rubbing motion caused the sound. I don't know about you, but I've never heard my heart beat without a stethoscope before.
I began to experiment a little and I noticed when I applied more pressure and leaned into the pillow a little harder the sound disappeared. I tried to get that perfect angle of neck and ear lobe again, but couldn't find it, and I never heard my heart beat again that evening.
Then a thought appeared. I realized that as of late, I have been walking around with a lot of pressure in my life. Finances, job search, kids, household, family, etc...

Pressure enough to put pain in my chest.
Pressure enough to harden my heart.

Then that still small voice revealed, "You carry the worlds pressures around. Let them Go. Give them to me."

When the world's pressures get too big, I don't hear God's voice, and I don't hear what He wants me to do next.

I want to share with you what I was reading that night in Mother Teresa's book:

Something Beautiful for God
This love that we have for our people is a gift, for Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you did it to me." We are with the least all the time. When you give a glass of water, you give it to Jesus. He claims it.... I remember last time we picked up one man from the street; he was full of worms. I asked one sister, "How can he go to heaven like that?" We started pulling the worms out one by one. We removed everything. 
I asked him, "Do you want God's blessing by which your sins are forgiven?" Something came out, sunshine, perfect joy. Something spiritual happened to him and after 15 minutes he died, without worms. One beautiful thing: no complaints, no words, he accepted. You could see his pain, but not a sound of complaint.
Pray that we may not spoil God's work - to help people to remove their worms.

God spoke to me that evening, through the pillow and through Mother Teresa's words. Sometimes, God works that way. Now, I may not be called to remove physical worms from individuals, but I am called to help Him remove the darkness. I can't do that when I'm under pressure, when I don't let go.

God is at work to bring His glory, His beauty back into the world. We are called to help Him.

John 1:4-5 (NCV)
"In him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it."

If you'd like to learn more about hearing God, here are a few links:

Sermon "Hearing God" by David Jonsson North Ridge Church

Sermon "Surprise Beginnings" by Rob Buzza North Ridge Church

Book by Loren Cunningham "Is that really you God?"


Thanks to:
- The devotional Bible for Women - Women of Faith.
- The book "Where there is love, There is God" - Mother Teresa.
- North Ridge for the sermons... Thanks Rob and David for sharing.
- bookjem.com for the photo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Forgiveness

Last month I was privileged to teach the lesson of 'Forgiveness' at a Celebrate Recovery evening at MRBC. There were some people who weren't able to make it that evening. They really wanted to be there, but due to sickness were unable to attend, and there were others who were there and asked if I could send them my notes.

For those who asked, here is the teaching from that evening.

I began with a skit on what it looks like when we live in an unforgiven state. Although, I don't have a video of me doing that skit, I have found the skit on YouTube.



This skit may have caused some tension or discomfort in some of you. I know it made me feel quite uncomfortable the 1st time I saw it.

The purpose of it was to give you a visual of what unforgiveness looks like. Over time, I have come to realize that it's in these uncomfortable moments that God makes real change occur; and sometimes we need discomfort to get deep within to find who He created us to be.

Unforgiveness binds us up. However, even though we are bound, we can still put up a facade. We can make ourselves 'look' pretty in dark times (this is where I had Krista wrap Christmas garland around me).

We put on a smile, even when we want to cry.
We say, "I'm fine," even when we are angry.
We may 'look' pretty on the outside, but we're still very much tied up underneath.

FORGIVENESS

Principle 6 says, "We must evaluate all our relationships. Offer forgiveness to all who have hurt us and make amends for harm we have done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others."

"Happy are the merciful" (Matt 5:7)
"Happy are the peacemakers" (Matt 5:9)

Step 8 says, "We need to make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends."

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:31)

Step 9 says, "We need to make amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift." (Matt 5:23-24)

Tonight I'll be talking about 3 different kinds of forgiveness:

1) The forgiveness that God extends to us.
2) The forgiveness that we extend to those who have hurt us.
3) The forgiveness we must ask others whom we have hurt and to forgive ourselves.

I'd like to share with you a quote by John Baker, that I read as I prepared for tonight. He said, "If God wasn't willing to forgive, heaven would be empty." I thought about how empty my life would be if I didn't forgive those who have hurt me.

Forgiveness is letting go.

If I hold on to pain
If I hold on to anger
If I hold on to resentments
If I hold on to disappointments in myself/in others
I stay tied up on the inside and on the outside. You see when I'm tied up in unforgiveness, my hands are bound. They can't reach out to others. I'm stuck. I'm alone. I'm lonely, and I make more pain for myself.

If we want to be completely free from resentments, anger, fear, shame and guilt we need to give and accept forgiveness in all areas of our lives. If we don't our recovery will be stalled and incomplete.

It would be like swimming in a mud puddle. Even though clear raindrops are falling on you, like little seeds of light and hope. You are still choosing to swim around in the mud, instead of choosing to swim to shore and walking out.

How do we get out of the mud?

By choosing to get out!

I've spoken with the kids at Celebration Station on the challenges of forgiveness. One of our lessons in our curriculum was to make a list of all the people who have hurt us since our birth. My list was longer than theirs. Go figure?
We went through the list and crossed off all the people we already forgave, except the ones where we said, "Yeah, I forgive, but..." You see, when there's a 'but' attached, you haven't truly forgiven them.

Then we took a look at Luke 7:44-47.

"Then Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I came into your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but she has been kissing my feet since I came in. You did not put oil on my head, but she poured perfume on my feet. I tell you that her many sins are forgiven, so she showed great love. But the person who is forgiven only a little will love only a little."

Simon didn't give his ALL. He held back. He had little love. The woman gave everything she had, her ALL. She showed Jesus great love.

It's about attitude. Our humble and honest attitude. When we hold up walls around our hearts. When we're all tied up, we don't give our ALL. We don't show great love.

Jesus tells us that our scattered bits and pieces are just not sufficient.

Forgive with our whole being
Love with our whole being
Otherwise, we end up with only a little

Sometimes, the problem with "giving it our all", when it comes to forgiveness, is because we are addicted to feeling good, and we may think that everything needs to 'feel good' in order to do it.

"I know I've got to forgive, but it hurts! I don't feel like it."

This type of attitude binds us up.

"We need to do, what we know we should do even when we don't feel like it!"
Joyce Meyers

Loving the people who have hurt us unconditionally is a very big challenge, but God commands us to do it.

"Which is the most important command?" Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. This is the greatest commandment. The second most important is similar. Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself." (Matt 22:36-40)

But... How can we love and forgive others if we don't love and forgive ourselves?

No matter how unloved or worthless you may feel about yourself, did you know that God loves you? He made us in His image. He doesn't create junk! Your feelings about yourself does not change His love for you. He has already forgiven you, way before you were even born.

It's up to you to accept it or not. You have a choice.

Now, self forgiveness is not a matter of assigning the blame to someone else and letting yourself off the hook. It's not a licence for irresponsibility either. It's just an acknowledgement that you are human like everyone else and that you've reached a stage in your life where you are able to give yourself greater respect.

When you forgive yourself and others, you won't change your past, but you will change your future. God will enable us to do what He has called us to do. Remember that He has forgiven us first and He asks us to follow Him into freedom.

This path is a difficult one and sometimes it won't 'feel' good and there will be times on this road of forgiveness where we will need to stop and ask someone we trust for some help. Sometimes we will need to ask them to untie us (this was where I asked Krista to help me out of the straight jacket).

Forgiving sets us free.

Isaiah 1:18-19 shows us what God wants to do with the darkness in our lives.

"Come, let's talk this over! says the Lord; no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool! If you will only let me help you."

Becoming un-bound not only leaves our hands free to reach out to others, but it also frees us to accept the gift of a helping hand and God's gift of mercy.

There's a song by the sidewalk prophets that recently came out and it made a great impact on me. The chorus goes;

I am the thorn in your crown
I am the sweat from your brow
I am the nail in your wrist
Yes, I am Judas' kiss

Each of us, in our own ways, have taken this beautiful gift of life and at times have turned it into something ugly.

We are the thorn in God's life - When we react with fear, bitterness and resentment.

We are the sweat on God's brow - When we run around in circles, doing the same thing over and over again. Staying tied up, not learning, not trusting. Swimming in the mud.

We are the nail in God's wrist - When we react with anger and violence.

We are Judas' kiss - When betray, when we lie.

We are all these things to God when we don't live our lives for what He created us for. But, you see, the song doesn't end there:

But you love me anyways
It's like nothing in life that I've ever known
Yes, you love me anyway
Oh, Lord, how you love me, how you love me

God knew his creation would disappoint Him, but he had a plan. Because He loves us anyways, He sent us a great gift. The gift of His son, to teach us, to heal us and to save us. This gift comes freely. He just asks us to love Him, to trust Him and He asks us to love like Him; no matter what pain we may have caused others/ourselves or what pain they have caused us.

Mercy means getting something we don't deserve. Mercy is the gift God 1st gave us.

As we head into Christmas this week, as we celebrate the birth of God's son, I pray that you find yourself unbound and reaching out to give others the gift that God 1st gave us.

Give mercy to those who have hurt you.
Give forgiveness and "love them anyways".



Thanks to:
YouTube for both videos
Sidewalk Prophets "You love me anyways"
Pastor ddromberger "Forgiveness" skit
Joyce Meyer for the quote
John Baker and the Celebrate Recovery leader's Guide and Celebration Station curriculum