Saturday, December 05, 2015

Just Not Feeling It

I have to make a confession. It's crazy-making Christmas time for The Salvation Army and I've been wearing a fake "Merry Christmas" face since it all started. Yes, I'm a fake. I'm just not feeling the Christmas spirit this year. Okay, so there's still some time for me to catch it - we're still a couple of weeks away. Ahhh...I don't know, it's pretty blah in here.

Sometimes this happens. Life is busy, schedules press, stresses of life pile up, major events take their toll...and getting all warm and fuzzy for Christmas just doesn't happen.

Have you had a Christmas like this before? You see the lights, people all start treating each other a little nicer, people in the mall get a little politer? (Is that a word?)  However, inside you feel just a blah, dull feeling, like you just can't get excited for Christmas.

That's what I like about Advent. It gets us ready for Christmas. Not in the daily Lindt chocolate kind of way - the real kind of way for a real kind of Christmas. So this year I'm embracing the gloomies and letting them take me to where the Spirit wants to lead me. I'm tired of trying to put on a happy face when I'm faced with all the stuff happening in this world. In my own world it's homeless folk, mentally ill and addicted. It's low income families whose kids are going to struggle in their lives and hopefully be able to break free from generational welfare. It's the war against terrorism, crazy gun-loving people south of us, partisan politics and elections and Christians talking about killing Muslims and taking a course a course in a Christian university on how to do it... I just really need Jesus. I need Him to come - here - now. I'm tired of Christmas being all about fuzzy warm, gift giving, money guzzling, food gorging -  chocolate, turkey and all kinds of goodies - I need it to be about that God/Man baby born in a dirty, smelly place who came to turn our world upside down and show us how to live Kingdom values. I want to think about what He taught us and how He showed us how to live. I want more of His grace filled love to spread around the globe and turn the world on its head. I don't want any gifts. I don't want to give any gifts. I don't want it to be about money and stuff. I want it to be real - about real grace, real love - God's love.

Merry (maybe not)  Christmas...Kathie

Monday, November 23, 2015

Labour of Love

I'm embarking on a new journey today, casting on the stitches for a shawl for my daughter, Sarah. Since she can knit, I've not ever knit her anything too big, but it's time to correct that. We picked out a pattern, did a search for the right yarn - and did not come up empty handed!

I'm knitting a pattern called Gunflint by Melissa Schaschwary found at 

However, I've made a few changes to make it drape differently. My daughter wanted a different edging, one that had a gentle wave to it. I couldn't figure out what to use? I searched through my Knitting on the Edge and Over the Edge books, but nothing matched the pattern well. 

Anyway, I knit up a sample and I noticed something...

Look at how the pattern from the body of the shawl itself waves gracefully. All it has is a 2 row garter stitch border and it pulls the border along with it. So we're going to go with a simple 1 inch garter border all around. 
I'm so excited about the yarn even more so than the pattern. We chose 365 Cashmere by Lana Grossa. It has 77% Cotton, 15% Cashmere and 8% Polyamide. It has a corded construction which makes it stronger and gives it more bounce. This is so important for cotton and cashmere because neither of these fibres have bounce to them. The piece I knit above stretches and gently returns to position. This is great because Sarah wanted a shawl she can wear around the house, so it will get a lot of use. However, the corded construction can sometimes make material less soft - not so with 365 Cashmere, it is so lovely and feels great to work with. I think I'll make something for myself in this yarn!

I'm using 4.5 needles, my Dreamz circular set, which I love and use almost exclusively! 
I'll keep you updated.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Make the World Go Away

The last couple of days have been busy for me. It's that time of year that if you're a part of my organization, you're busy raising money to put into your "helping others" fund. So, last night was our annual Church Christmas Dinner and Silent Auction. For two days we were getting ready gathering items to auction from companies around town. Some very nice donations were made - toaster oven, a lovely bike, 1 nights stay in a nice hotel, a favourite restaurant donation dinner for 5 people, beautiful items, pretty things, handmade things - we ended up with a treasure trove of items.

When you get busy like that it can consume you. No time to pay attention to the world, to social media, TV shows get set to record and away you go. You've worked hard and have a wonderful time having a sit down turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

But then when it's all over you realize that while you were busy enjoying yourself people were being massacred on the other side of the world in Paris.

I don't know about you, but I get tired of it. I don't want to be reminded of it. It's not that I don't have any compassion, I do.  Well, I do have a bit of compassion fatigue but I had enough left to colour my Facebook profile picture the flag colours for France, I posted a couple of helpful memes and commented on and liked the appropriate links and posts. I even put mention of it into my sermon for Sunday.

Then I came across a post that showed me up for what I am sometimes - a person of privilege and ignorant about what's really going on in the world:

It is not Paris we should pray for, it is the world.
It is a world in which Beirut, reeling from bombings two days before Paris,
is not covered in the press.
A world in which a bomb goes off 
at a funeral in Baghdad
and not one persons status says, "Baghdad," 
because not one white person died in that fire.
Pray for the world
that blames a refugee crisis for a terrorist attack.
That does not pause to deferentiate between the attacker
and the person running from the very same thing you are.
Pray for a world
where people walking across countries
for months, their only belongings on their backs, 
are told they have no place to go.
Say a prayer for Paris, by all means, 
but pray more for the world that does not have a prayer,
for those who no longer have a home to defend.
For a world that is falling apart in all corners
and not simply in the cafes and towers we find so familiar.

Now, I know all these things are happening around the world, but I just feel so helpless about it all. It's like Rwanda all over again - not the incident, but the feeling of hopelessness as we watch it happen and no one intervenes. 

I want to run away because I want to fix it. I want to do something about it - but I don't know what that something is. Do we fight them, like a war? Wasn't declaring war and bombing the heck out of the middle east start this in the first place? (It likely started way before that, but that's another subject all together.) Should we then just leave them alone and let them get on with their war?

I don't know the answer. It makes me want to ignore it, escape somewhere without social media or television's 24 hour news cycle.

But I know it's not really the answer. 

I can pray. That's all I can do. It's likely the best thing I can do. 

Oh Lord, show me what to do after I pray.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Amazing Grace

This is an article I wrote for the Spiritually Speaking column for the Times Colonist in Victoria, BC. You can find the original published here:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me, 
I once was lost but now am found, 
was blind but now I see.

In my faith tradition we sing of God’s grace all the time. We sing these hymns without even thinking and, for some, they are just words to a familiar tune.  However, the whole concept of grace is an amazing thing. Just consider the definition of the word in the Christian faith – the free and unmerited favour of God. In other words, God’s grace is something you cannot earn.  Just imagine someone giving favour to you that you haven’t earned. Even still, perhaps you’ve made a real mess of your life and think that no one would accept you. Having grace extended to you in such a way is mind blowing.

For many of us, we are so aware of the grace we’ve received that we can’t help but extend that grace to others. We become gracious people, knowing how much we’ve been forgiven; we do our best not to judge others. Christian grace is merciful, compassionate, kind, forbearing, forgiving, generous magnanimous and benevolent.

For those who have received and fully experienced the grace of God, there is no other way to live.
For some, God’s grace is not something they’ve actually experienced. How do I know that? Because I’ve met Christians who are some of the least gracious people I know. They judge others harshly, expecting them to live up to unreachable standards. They determine who is “in” and who is “out.” They are more interested in the rule of religion than the love and mercy that Jesus demonstrated for us.

However, God’s love, mercy and grace are an ocean so deep many of us have only managed to dip our toes carefully in.  Even still, that tiny experience of His grace is enough to fill us with His love and remind us that there are others who need to dip their toes in.  

I read the story of Jacob recently. When I think that God took a man who was a liar, thief and a scammer and change his name to Israel and make a whole nation of him, I wonder at His grace. It’s the same with Saul – God chose a man who persecuted His followers and He became Paul, a great leader of the early church. 

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, and when we find ourselves in place of weakness, a place of sadness, or a place that’s a mess of our own making, God still reaches down to us with His grace. To the outcasts of our society God extends his grace. To those not included, He extends his grace. Even to those who have done terrible things, He extends His grace.  These things can hold us back and stop us from experiencing God’s grace. But we have to look forward and not backward because when we are constantly looking in the rearview mirror, we’re in danger of crashing.

Joseph Yoo said, “When we open our heart to God and encounter His grace, we learn that grace was never an elusive thing that couldn’t be obtained, but that it was always here.”

Wherever you were, grace was there. Wherever you are, grace is there. Wherever you go – grace will go with you. Open your heart to God today and immerse yourself in that wonderful and boundless ocean of grace. 


Sunday, December 28, 2014

It Came, it Went

Once again Christmas came and went. Presents were bought, wrapped, exchanged and the paper all picked up and thrown away. Family gathered, we celebrated with a giant meal, Turkey and all the trimmings, christmas crackers, merrily donning our paper hats.

I enjoyed it, but I was exhausted. Moving for the fourth year in a row has taken its toll on me. I've not been able to bounce back energy wise. I have to work real hard to motivate myself to get things done and some things I've always enjoyed doing have become a chore. This fall I also took a break from knitting - it's a sign.  Low energy, crabby, don't feel like doing the things I love, excessive heartburn, weight gain...sigh. 

It will pass. It always does. It happens every time we are transferred. But four times in a row makes it harder to slog through.

Ministry is hard at the best of times. With our organizations top down ecclesiastical structure we often feel pulled in different directions - accountable to the congregation, accountable to the public but also accountable to our supervisors. 

Sometimes it's just so tiring.

Today I spoke about the need to be still. To sit and listen to the voice within. To seek the word that is within us - Jesus, within us, living in us. 

Time to be spiritual and stop being religious.

Time to listen to God and plug our ears to the cacophony around us.

Time to be still. Time to seek God in the midst of it all.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's Almost Here...

It's the Sunday before Christmas. 
Three days of kettles left. 
Youth group party tonight. 
Christmas Eve service to finalize. 
Last minute Christmas shopping to do.
Just thinking about it all I feel so tired! 

Even Tallulah is pooped! 

I'm not sure how we get caught up in the hustle and bustle each year. Part of it is our work - raising funds for our social services, feeding and providing toys in the community.  On top of that there's the usual visiting and praying with the sick, preparing the Christmas Eve Service, participating in community Carol services, navigating the sometimes treacherous waters when dealing with dozens of volunteers and rushing your kids to the doctor because 'tis the season!'

I just want to slow it all down and savour the atmosphere and anticipation of the celebration of Jesus' birth. I want to sit in front of the fire and knit, play with my grandchildren and enjoy the company of my husband and kids. 

Soon enough there'll be time for that. For now, it's 40 winks and back at it.

When I opened my eyes and looked at the lights my dear hubby put up, the tiredness starts to wane 

and I get that happy feeling again. 

For now it's back to work...and we're off! 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Downward Mobility

Just a warning. This is a whiney rant.

So, those of you who know me likely know I has FMS and arthritis. I've had arthritis since I was a teenager but, you know, you don't think about it much when you're young. 

This is how it goes...

First, a little twinge in the feet here and there. Arthritis. Surgery. And then I try out for the basketball team with my casts on.

Then, a few years later, no more high heels, which is ok because I'd met Ed and he's a bit shorter than me.

Then a few years later still the aching all over starts. FMS diagnosed and my first depression. But I still keep playing softball.

Other pains and aches, twinges and creaks show up, but you just ignore it. Every time you go to the doctor it's just FMS so, eventually you stop going and telling the doctor about it. Why bother, they just give you more drugs. After five kids, full time work and sometimes overworking to the point of exhaustion and burnout and looking after my mother till she passed away, it's a wonder I'm still going at it.

Well, you can only ignore something for so long and then you find out that darned arthritis is spreading. 



I don't think I can take the expression on one more face when I answer them as to why I'm limping, or not eating a certain food, or not going on the hike, or why I'm so tired all the time.

Here's how it goes:

You're limping, how come?
Arthritis and FMS. 
Arthritis? At your age?
Oh yeah, I have it in my finger now, it's really annoying. Where do you have it?
My answer usually overwhelms people:
Every bone in my feet and ankles, knees, SI joint and lumbar spine, cervical spine, hands - every joint and knuckle. It's spreading fast these days.
The other person usually doesn't know what to say at that point.

And there's this one...
Would you like cream in your coffee?
No thanks.
How about some cheese cake?
Sorry, I'm allergic to dairy.
How about a muffin?
Sorry, I'm gluten sensitive.
Oh I have gluten free bread.
Sorry, I just don't eat starch.

Or my favourite comments:

Exercise really helps, you should go walking.
What about swimming? "Sorry, I get a rash from the chlorine)
My friend does yoga, it really helps. (Sorry, my feet and hands can't support me with all the bending)
You should lose weight, you will feel better. (No duh)

As if I didn't know that. Did you know the medication they give you has a side effect? Slows down your metabolism and you gain weight. Nerve blockers - same side effect. 

And even when a person knows you have arthritis and FMS they say, "Why are you tired? Something going on?"

Sometimes it's just better not to talk about it or even mention it. And I'm sure my family are sick and tired of hearing about it. And even they forget. 

"Why are you so irritable today?"
Really? You're asking me that?
Most of the time they're likely sick and tired of listening to me moan and groan.

And now I need a cane. And I think I have a new spot on my spine

How long will it take till I can't move anymore? How long till I can't work anymore? How long till I can't walk anymore?

And all this moving, four times in a row - 2011, 2012, 2013 and now 2014. Is there anyone who thinks that the stress of that isn't affecting my FMS and arthritis? Yeah. Did you know your filter just loosens up after the stress metre reaches a certain number.

I just feel so tired and defeated at times and I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired! 

So there!

And it sucks! And I want it to all go away. Now. Sigh....

I'll stop whining now.

Where's my puppy...Tallulah! Come on, I need a cuddle.