January 19, 2017

Praise in the storm


This morning I awoke to a Neuralgia flare-up, a neurological condition that has taken up residence in my brain for many years. My head throbbed, feeling like a giant pimple not quite ready to be popped, but regardless, something or someone was squeezing it. Waking up in this state is not new or surprising, but what makes today a trifle different is, I must write a blog post on thankfulness.

As I stared at my screen trying to gather my thoughts the letters and icons across the top turned into bright stars doing a square dance all over the page. My eyes drifted closed and I leaned back in my chair. Within seconds a beautiful old hymn floated into my thoughts—I see the stars—I hear the rolling thunder—Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Immediately I was reminded of how small and insignificant I am, yet my Heavenly Father took time to nudge me into refocusing my mind. Gratitude overflowed, and I recalled a few of the many blessed moments in my life.

It overwhelms me knowing that our great and mighty God gave me the privilege of growing up in a home where godliness was a way of life. Sunday School was not an option, and I am thankful for those Sunday afternoons because it was in that small group I committed my life to Christ.

I am grateful for my children and grandchildren, my brothers and sister, my church family and my writing family. I am thankful I live in a country where freedom is a reality. It may be cold at times, but I have a warm house and my cupboards and fridge are always full. When I’m lonely, friends or entertainment are only a click away. My eyes don’t work very good anymore, but I have an active imagination that can fill in details I can not see.

 It would be nice to say that throughout my mini praise the pain in my head lessened but that is not so. It hurts big time but it no longer controls my feelings. For this I’m grateful because by changing the direction of my thoughts I was able to complete this post. I am also grateful for my soft comfy bed I’m about to curl up in until my head returns to normal. While I’m being thankful for big things, I’m reminded of the small day to day blessings I find myself taking for granted. For example, my four kitties, Beebins, Oliver, Athena, and Bentlee who will curl up around me, their soft purrs and unconditional love always bringing me comfort.

Satisfied I’d done all I could for this post, I clicked on the save icon and that beautiful old hymn once again filled my thoughts. Then sings my soul—My Savior God to Thee—how great Thou art.

January 18, 2017

Let A Little Light In - Gloria Guest


The winter season brings with it shorter days and longer nights. Each year I seem just a little less tolerant of just how short our days can seem here in Saskatchewan, where we don’t change our clocks to push back the darkness but rather choose to adjust ourselves to having less light.

I like light. I need light. I am definitely one of those light deprived people this time of year; the ones referred to as having S.A.D. or Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition whereby a lack of light can bring on a case of the blues.

Over the years I’ve found it helpful to take Vitamin D, the Sunshine vitamin to boost my mood and to also try to at least get a little real sun each day even if it means opening my curtains on days when my mood would be prefer to keep them shut. Yes, a lover of light can still hide from the light when a case of the blues hits or even worse, depression.

Just as there are physical ways to lighten ones days there are also ways to let a little light into many areas of life. For those who don’t like or can’t bring themselves to make a big change sometimes it helps to look at it the same way God created our seasons. We don’t enter the dark days of winter in one fell swoop and neither do we leave the dark that way; rather each day the light remains just a little longer, in increments of minutes, until finally one day we wake up early to full sunshine.

As writers sometimes we experience times of too much darkness and not enough light in our writing. I’ve had my share of those times and this year have been trying to think of ways to let a little light into my writing. Even though I long for a big change, I can’t always bring myself to take the leap, or perhaps I’m not meant to right now. However I can still make incremental, tiny changes to crack open the curtain an inch at a time.

Some ideas that I’ve thought of and some that I’ve tried in the past include;

-taking just one writer’s course online

-attending a writer’s workshop or conference

-visiting the library

-reading

-joining a writer’s group

-writing a journal entry

-posting on my blog

-reading scripture and or sending up a prayer

-sending an encouraging note to someone

-keeping my blog deadline for Inscribe ;)

-entering a contest (great intentions here….hoping to make it a reality in the winter of 2017)

-writing one more page of my memoir

-joining with other writing friends online to mentor and encourage one another from a distance and to meet deadlines together

-setting a writing goal, however small and meeting it

-going for a walk

-basking in the sunshine (preferably with a cat nearby) ;)

If I manage to accomplish even one, two or three of the above I will find that it is lighter in my writing life and with continued effort those small, minute changes can turn into a wide open curtain and a room full of sunshine.

Let a little light in today J
Simba basking in the sunshine

January 17, 2017

Give Thanks? Fake it till you make it - by Rohadi


I remember sitting in a service of a rather large church and couldn't help but notice how repetitive the lead preacher was. On three separate occasions he reminded people to smile, not to anybody in particular, seemingly suggesting it was somehow reflective of a superior faith.

“As my grandpa used to always say, you don't want to look like you've been baptized in lemon juice!” noted the preacher.

Why did this bug me? It struck me as disingenuous but it also alluded to the notion if someone didn’t meet the smile quota then something was wrong with their faith. I didn't roll my eyes, but I did make a mental note to frown for the remainder of the service.

Why did I respond in this way?

Maybe I indeed lacked joy and needed to smile more like the preacher said. Or more likely, maybe I prefer when someone reflects their authentic spirit in the moment, and many times we just don’t feel like smiling. 

We've all gone through, or are going through, present or past struggles. No faith is worth its salt if it hasn’t travelled through the ‘valley of death’ once or twice. In those experiences smiling is hard and sometimes forced. We give the illusion of joy but it's fake.

While traveling through tough times you may have heard something like this, “fake it till you make it.” Advice used to maintain momentum when picking up a new skill or beating an old habit.

Does it work? Have you 'faked it until you made it?'

I have. I think it does work, but the mantra is a bit of a misnomer. 

When we walk into the valleys, when joy seems far from us, it requires real intention to constantly remind ourselves about joy and practice habits of joy.

If you’re ‘faking’ you’re actually entering into an activity—you’re doing something. Doing is participating, an activity that’s less ‘faking’ as it is a liturgy of reclamation. This kind of liturgy practices joy in an attempt to discover joy. In this sense, the rhythm of ‘faking it till you make it’ is a spiritual act of worship! Soon enough (God willing) joy emerges as a prominent reflection of our authentic selves.


Whether you want to smile about that or not is up to you.

________

 You can catch Rohadi online at his blog on church innovation. Check out his adult colouring book, Soul Coats, now available. 

January 16, 2017

Thankfulness in Every Season by Nina Faye Morey


I will extol the LORD at all times;
His praise will always be on my lips.
Psalm 34:1 (NIV)


In his Psalm of praise, David vows to always give glory to the Lord. No matter the time or season of our lives, we should never cease to honour Him and give Him thanks and praise (Psalm 106:1).

Give Thanks to the Lord

I find it easy to be grateful to the Lord for most aspects of our changing prairie seasons. I even enjoy the sound and fury of a sudden thunderstorm on a hot summer day. However, I find it more difficult to maintain this thankful attitude during winter’s storms. I really don’t appreciate the frigid temperatures or icy sidewalks that keep me indoors. However, there are mornings when I wake up to find that my little corner of the world has been magically transformed into a winter wonderland. I’m treated to a spectacular view of a world adorned with sparkling snow and hoarfrost. Then my spirits lift once more. I find myself thanking God and echoing His Word that all His creation is good (Genesis 1:31).

God’s Glorious Creation

Like the seasons of nature, I sometimes find it difficult to be thankful through all the seasons of my life. Just as the turn of seasons causes some of nature’s fiercest storms, we face our stormiest times during major life changes—illness, death, divorce. I may not have control over these stormy phases, but I do have control over how I react to them. I can call on the Lord, or I can choose to turn my back on Him. Even though I may not always understand God’s ways, I need to trust in Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on you own understanding;
In all your ways submit to him
and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3: 5-6

So although it’s sometimes hard to remain thankful through the stormy seasons of my life, I’m assured that I can stand firmly on the solid rock of God’s promises. He will provide me with stability and strength despite the shifting sands beneath my feet. If I trust in the Lord, I can be assured that He loves me and hears my cries for help. He sits at the right hand of God and intercedes for us in times of trouble (Romans 8: 31-39). He will hear my prayers and come to my rescue, giving me a firm foothold once more in the midst of my emotional turmoil.

My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62: 7-8

No matter what negative things are presently occurring in my life, I can be confident that God is working to turn them into something positive. Just as He works in the natural realm to transform a bitter winter into a winter wonderland, He works in the spiritual realm to transform the bad into the good.

And we know that in all things God works for the
good of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

When I get discouraged during life’s storms, I remember David’s advice to always give thanks and praise to the Lord. Accepting that God’s in control of my future lifts my spirits and brings peace to my heart. If I remain focused on my faith, I know God will have something wonderful in store for me on the other side of the storm (Col. 3:15-17).

My Spirits Lift Once More

January 15, 2017

Thankful In Season - Tracy Krauss

Many others have already expressed the unique feelings of thankfulness that we Canadians get to enjoy during the cold winter months. We are thankful for things like:

That cozy feeling that envelops you when you snuggle under a blanket with a steaming drink after being outside in the elements.

The brightness of the snow as it sparkles in the sunlight on a clear afternoon.

The Christmas-card beauty of hoarfrost on the trees, evergreens laden with snow, and smoke curling from rooftop chimneys.

Rosy cheeks 
and clouds of breath 
and whoops of laughter on the way down the toboggan hill.

I dislike scraping my car windows in the morning as much as the next person. I get tired of shovelling. Sometimes it feels like spring will never arrive...

But I am so THANKFUL to live in a country with distinct seasons. I think this might be the thing I would miss most if I had to move elsewhere. So here's to winter, with all its pros and cons. May we ever cherish the great variety we are so privileged to experience in this wonderful country we call home.


Tracy Krauss writes from her home in northern BC where hoarfrost on trees and shovelling snow are part of everyday life. Visit her website: tracykrauss.com  -fiction on the edge without crossing the line