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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Batteries Are Included

Ok ok. I just left my blog all lonely and neglected all summer. How awful of me!

Here I am, ready to throw my two cents into the vast waters of blogdom. I've had lots of dreams and visions and insights lately. I've battled a few medical issues. Summer passed by too quickly, but autumn has been warm, inviting and glorious, so who's complaining? (At least, at the moment, I'm not complaining.)

I sat down in my 'God Corner' today. It's a little corner at the end of my sofa where I read scriptures, pray, chat it up with God and worship Him. I love my little spot. Not that I don't talk to Him in other places, but that is kind of... our special place. I will sit down and say, "I'm here." And then, it doesn't take long before I feel Him come to meet with me. I mean, He's here all the time, but there's more. It's a meeting place.

I was sitting there telling God how good He is. I'm bothered right now because there is a real onslaught of voices and writings out there that are attacking the goodness of God. People are saying and writing that He is not good. There are false accusations, slander and libel coming from every direction.

I don't mean the standard, "Why does God let bad things happen?" questions. I mean, out and out accusations from people. I've heard people accuse God of being mean, a bigot (how can God be a bigot... He made everything, so if He says something is a certain way, then it is... I have never had a cake ask me why I made it chocolate instead of lemon and then call me a bigot for that). I've just seen and heard so many derogatory things and I can handle honest questions or someone who's hurt ranting and venting. This is more than that.

It's like... they're slandering my best friend. They have no idea who He is. They don't even talk to Him... except to berate Him, but they presume to know His character. They breathe the air He gave them. Their heart beats because He allows it. They eat food He created. They enjoy nature, music, love, joy, sunsets, chocolate, seasons, family and... then just sneer in God's face and say He isn't good. Well, we don't deserve any of this stuff we enjoy. Does the sun only shine on 'good' Christians? It shines on everybody... even murderers. God is good and His goodness shines on, even when we do reprehensible things and hate Him. He doesn't just turn the sun off... or the air... we still have His goodness all the time every day.

I talked to God about this today. I said, 'Here we are, strutting and boasting about how strong and tough we are and how we have accomplished everything in our lives on our own.' As soon as I said that, a picture instantly popped into my head... one of those 'parable' moments. I saw a child's toy sitting on the floor. It was a battery operated toy zooming all over the place.

God said, "It's like that toy is telling everybody that it is going across the floor by its own power." And I laughed. Uh huh... it's the batteries. It's not going anywhere without power given to it by the batteries.

I hate to break it to this arrogant human race, but... we're the electronic toy. God is the batteries. No batteries. No zoom zoom. That is how good God is. No matter how many times somebody blathers on about how amazing they are, the batteries just keep on pouring the juice into us. We deserve to sit here without the batteries. We don't say thanks. We don't acknowledge He's there. We accuse Him for the rotten stuff that we  humans are doing ourselves. He doesn't just take the batteries away. He still, in His faithfulness and kindness and goodness, keeps us zooming right along.

Thank you, God, for being my batteries. You do realize that after giving me a parable like that, whenever I think of you being my batteries, I won't be able to help myself. I will see you as a fluffy pink bunny...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Reflections on Bin Laden's Death

I was about to go to bed. I was in my pajamas, sitting in front of my computer screen, checking email and social networking sites before shutting everything off for the night.

The first thing I saw was a Facebook status that said. “I don't believe their claims.” I didn't know what that meant. It felt like I had dropped in in the middle of a conversation.

Then, I saw a status that said, “CNN has the news, but none of the world news sites have it.”

That made me curious. My journalist's nose is as sharp as a hound and as relentless as a cat pursuing a mouse. I had to know, so I clicked on CNN's website and saw the headline, “Osama Bin Laden Dead.”

I know those American news sites. Sometimes they jump the gun, so I thought I'd better google what the world was saying. I went to the BBC and I went to the CBC and they confirmed it. I clicked the live feed from CBC News just as they cut to Barack Obama giving a live address to the nation. It was around 11:30 pm, an odd time of day for a president to be giving an address.

So, I sat there, in my pajamas, my mouth agape, my heart racing, my mind wondering if I was having a weird dream that would leave me scratching my head come morning. No. This was real. This wasn't speculation. The president gave a succinct, eloquent and hopeful speech while footage in the right hand corner of the screen showed a tumult of people gathering on the White House lawn screaming, cheering and waving flags.

Tears welled up in my eyes. Could it be? They got the monster? Look at my American neighbours. Look at them in Washington DC. Look at them in New York City. Look at them in the stadium in Philly. In ten years, I have not seen that look they used to have before those planes struck the towers. There it is! There's that look! Call it hope or pride or self confidence. Despite all of their brave words and rhetoric, I had not seen THAT look on the faces of Americans since September 10, 2001.

I also saw that nobody was asking if they were Republicans or Democrats. Everyone was just converging together in a large, impromptu flash mob, celebrating that the one that got away... didn't. It took ten years, but justice was done.

Flash back ten years. Where was I, the Canadian, just before 9 o'clock in the morning on September 11, 2001? I know exactly where I was. I was sitting on my sofa watching TV on the Global Television Network. I was watching 100 Huntley Street with Lorna Dueck and I think the other host was David Mainse' son.

Lorna said, “The TV station is cutting our feed and going live to New York City. Something is happening there.”

I saw one of the towers in the World Trade Centre on fire and people were speculating that there had been a terrible airplane accident. As they were talking, I watched, on a live feed, as a second plane came into view and smashed into the second tower. I remember screaming that this could not be an accident. I watched for a few more minutes, but I felt so horrified that I suddenly didn't want to be alone, so I ran down the stairs to the street where people were milling about, oblivious and shopping. I said, “Turn on your radios. There's been a terrorist attack in New York. The twin towers are burning.”

I hurried over to my brother Howie's house. We sat together and somberly watched the events unfold. He told me that another plane had hit the Pentagon and then we learned that another plane had crashed in a field in Pennsylvania.

I bawled my face off watching people leaping to their deaths, choosing to die that way rather than burning to death. Oh what a great choice that was! Burn or hit the pavement from a hundred floors up. It was horrific to know that these were real people with real lives dying in absolute terror and their families would be left to find them, grieve for them and live without them.

I was very proud of Gander, Newfoundland for taking care of passengers who were stranded when all flights were grounded. We were doing our part. Canadians gathered, 100 000 strong to support America at Parliament Hill and brought the US ambassador to grateful tears as he said, “Truly. You are our best friend.”

My children were teenagers. Anthony was 16 and Kendra was 15 at the time. Tristan (my best friend's son) was 13. I remember clearly that they sat down with us that night. They were solemn and scared and full of questions. My son, Anthony, asked me “Mom. Is this the end of the world?” Those terrorists had managed to terrorize, not only the poor victims and their families in those towers, not only the Americans, but they had managed to terrorize my children too! We were all afraid.

Twenty-four Canadians died in those attacks. Millions more were paralyzed with grief and fear for our American friends, for ourselves and for freedom and democracy itself. It felt like a death knell for life as we knew it.

Many fellow Christians say I shouldn't rejoice that a person has died. Usually, I would agree. It is at the core of my belief system that I hold human life with the highest respect. I believe we are all created by God for a purpose and we choose to fulfill that purpose or not. I don't dance for joy when human beings die, not even when they were in the wrong.

Still, I find jubilation in my heart. If I had been close enough to Ground Zero or Washington, I could picture myself running out into the street, singing and dancing as if I had just been released from a prison, of sorts. The man who tried to rob the free world of security, hope, faith and joy... is dead.

Should I grieve for the man who made my children tremble? If he had stood before me, I would have killed him with my bare hands. Not out of hatred, but out of the fiercest maternal instinct imaginable. This was not vengeance in the sense of killing the person you hate. This was justice. This was necessary. This was death to the figurehead for tyranny and the resurrection of all that is good and decent about America and the civilized nations of the world.

His death was announced on the same day that Adolph Hitler's death was announced, 66 years later.

This is the closest that most of us will get to knowing how the allied nations felt on VE Day, when everyone ran out to the streets and cheered and complete strangers kissed each other for joy.

I still find myself very emotional. This man left a traumatic bruise on the souls of so many of us. He relished the fear he caused. He rejoiced in the deaths of civilians... even those who follow Islam. Hello! He would kill anyone, even his own people. This man represented the most heinous depravity known to the human race.

So, no. I'm not saying I rejoice that a person died, and yet I do rejoice that he is gone. His ideology will try to live on and regroup. I have no delusions that our job is done, but I don't apologize for feeling relief, joy and hope now that their figurehead is standing before God, trembling the way he made my children tremble. I don't think he's so cocky today. I suppose he has figured out that there are no virgins waiting for him.

I'm thankful to God and to the American president, the secret service, the soldiers who carried this out. I'm sure the story, as it unfolds, will become legendary.

May the families of the victims find some closure. May the military families who have lost loved ones in battle know that their sacrifice was not in vain. May the American people begin to heal the rifts caused by fear and the reactions of government officials and civilians to it.

Enjoy this moment, America. Embrace your fellow citizens regardless of their political persuasion. This is not a partisan victory. It is a victory for every single one of you. You can battle out your politics tomorrow. Not today. Not the day you got to shout, “Ding! Dong! The witch is dead!”

What do I feel like doing now? I want to click on an old Elton John song. “I'm still standing better than I ever did... Looking like a true survivor... feeling like a little kid... I'm still standing... yeah yeah yeah...”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Light and Darkness

I was going to blog once a week. That didn't work out, did it? That's all right. There is NOT a test at the end of this exercise. Let's set a goal again and see how often I can blog before summer comes.

I was talking to my best friend on the phone on Friday night and I had a vision. It only lasted a few seconds, but when I started praying on Saturday morning, I saw it again. It was vivid and simple and it had such an amazing meaning. It was really encouraging too.

I was talking to my best friend about the dark things in people's lives. You know, the stuff that it can be hard to get rid of, like bad habits, anger, hate, bitterness. These are the shadows that we all struggle with and we want to overcome them. At least, we should. Not just because they're 'sins', but because they hurt others and they hurt us. For example, unforgiveness... that's like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Anyway, I was discussing how some religious, well-meaning folks are forever hitting people over the heads with their sins their sins their sins. Sure. We need to get rid of these things. I agree. I don't want to be bitter or angry or spiteful, but I believe we put the cart before the horse.

How can anybody really let go of their pet habits, sins and vices until they no longer need them for security and comfort? Many people are too fragile to just let go of these things. It's all they've got to hold onto, or so they think. They've been taught that God is way up in the sky holding a bolt of lightning and as soon as we screw up, He's just relishing the idea of zapping us with it. What a load of baloney.

I'm not saying He likes what we do. If we don't ask Him to help us, these things can lead us down a really destructive and dangerous path, but God wants to help. He is always wanting to help. He isn't sitting there waiting for us to do it all alone either. You know... He doesn't go, "Pull up your boot straps, Son and then come talk to me."

No. He says, "Are you having trouble pulling up those boot straps, Son? Come and see Me and we'll do it together."

So, that's what I was saying. We can't even get these things out of our own lives until we get a secure foundation under us. We have to be totally secure in knowing how much we are loved and valued before we will let go of our dark stuff.

As I was saying this, suddenly I saw this vision... just for a few seconds. It was clear though. It was like I saw this tunnel and, at the end of it stood Jesus and He was completely bathed in bright, white light. That wasn't surprising. It does say in the Bible that "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all."

What was remarkable about it was, I could see people being drawn toward Him. These people had darkness in them and on them. Vices. Habits. Sicknesses. Diseases. Addictions. You name it, they were riddled with junk and I thought, "They can't go to that kind of light. How can they?"

As I watched, the light drew them and as the people got closer to the light, I saw that the light had substance. I mean, it was like laser light. You know, laser surgery concentrates a beam of light directly onto an area and it removes cataracts or whatever needs removing.

I saw somebody going closer and closer and as they did, the dark stuff was kind of... zapped off of them by beams of laser liquid light. They didn't even notice. There was no pain. They didn't scream, "Hey! Give me back my vice!" The closer they got to the light, the more of their 'stuff' was removed by the laser.

I was babbling and telling my best friend what I saw. It was too cool. I understood that I was being shown a principle for getting rid of the junk in my life. Stop trying to be the lone ranger trying to deal with it alone and...go and get the emotional laser surgery I need.

It's encouraging to know that I don't have to have it all together before I approach Jesus. If I had to have it all together, I'd be in so much trouble, but I don't. He seemed, in the vision, to be absolutely thrilled to just help people get rid of their hurts and vices. I don't need to be told twice. I want it. The more dark emotions I have, the less room I have for good ones like joy, hope and peace and even medical doctors and science will tell you... too much negative emotions and stress can kill you.

One other thing... this surgery seems to have no waiting list. Everybody can be at the front of the line. Ha! I like it!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I am a terrible blogger

I have great intentions. I want to blog faithfully.

The trouble is, I get distracted so easily by life. I want to work on finally finishing the first draft of the novel I'm working on, finish the creative non-fiction piece I'm working on, write a new song, rehearse the songs I've already written, sing somebody else's songs. I need to sweep, scrub, dust and try to convince myself I'm not really a slovenly schmuck who would rather write a Pulitzer Prize winner than be domestic.

I know I need to give time to family and friends before they think aliens abducted me from the face of the earth. My best friend, Kathy, watches for my tendency to 'hermit' and gently (or not so gently if I need it) tells me, "Get out of the house!"

I need to pray and read God's Word more. Yes. I do have a vital and living faith. It's not an addendum tacked on to my life. It IS my life. I would seriously be lost without God. It's not airy fairy either. It's brass tacks and down to earth faith. I talk to God. I don't talk AT Him. I just picture Him up there going, "Hey! HEY! How about just talking to Me instead of reciting the same prayer over and over and over again?"

I have a friend who does that to me. I mean, he doesn't pray to me, but when he talks to me, all he does is repeat the same old rhetoric every time. I mean, he is angry and bitter at this person and that person and he just goes around and around it, recounting his woes to me in technicolour and the stories never change. The words are exactly the same and it drives me bonkers. That is how I imagine God feels when we talk to Him as if He's a vending machine and prayers are our quarters.

Anyway, that was a rabbit trail and I go down them now and then. It's ok. Sometimes rabbit trails lead to a wonderland.

So, as I was saying, I want to blog and I get sidetracked and then, months go by and my blog sits there like an empty library just waiting to be filled with literary masterpieces... or even the crap I write. ;-) That was my sense of humour kicking in there. Don't comment that I should have more self esteem. If self deprecation is funny, I'll use it. If it's not funny, I won't. I was the class clown. Now I am the clown of blog-dom. I cannot pass up an opportunity to get a laugh.

This time, it will be different. I'm going to blog faithfully once a week for a whole year. This is a goal I am setting. I'm going to do it. Maybe. I hope. The phone is ringing. Hey. Are those cashews? Whoa. A new Facebook application. What are those dogs doing outside my window? Yawn. I could use a nap. January sales! You see? Distractions are me. I'm going to take a stab at writing weekly, but... we'll see. LOL!

Great Commission How 2s and My Life: Women Teaching And Preaching? Sure!

Great Commission How 2s and My Life: Women Teaching And Preaching? Sure!