Leadership

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! 

grace...Kathie

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. 

EVERYWHERE! 

Sheesh...

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?
Yup.
Or...
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.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Blast From the Past - The Spirit of Truth




I was talking to someone about truth today and I remembered something I wrote a long time ago about this very subject.  This article for the Journal of Aggressive Christianity was written 13 years ago when I was in Maple Ridge. It was the early days for us in building the shelter and transitional housing facility, I had two young boys, the youngest not quite a year. I remember it as a time of tremendous stress and turmoil, busyness and fatigue and in the midst of all that, I was struggling to find myself deep within and was trying hard to put together a truth for myself that I could live within while outwardly living my calling, my vocation, within my organization while expressing myself in writing. The search for the truth in each one of us is a lifetime's journey. If you find yours, live it.

I'm copying the article here for you to read.

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I have always desired the transparency of Jesus. Or, at least I thought I did. It sounded so spiritual. So...well, it sounded like something I should want. But transparency demands truth, so, I have endeavoured to live in truth. However, I have failed more than I have succeeded in this area. That is because, sometimes, I am afraid of the truth. It was all right for Jesus to be so honest; after all, he was the Son of God. He had everything going for him. But me, I’m too scared to live in the complete truth.

What does it mean to live in truth? I had to find out. 3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” Walking implies a day-by-day, moment-by-moment, step-by-step choice to live in truth. But is it so important to be truthful about everything in life? Or is it just the big things that I have to worry about? Do I have to be truthful to everyone, or just to God? Ephesians 4:15 (Amplified) gave me the answer I was looking for. “...let our lives lovingly express truth in all things - speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly.” Well, that just about summed it up.

But still I struggled. What does a person look like who walks in the truth? It is a person who is consistent in all that he says and does. It is a person who is not afraid to let you into their lives, because you won’t find a difference between their personal lives and their public lives. A person who says, “I love God” but then goes home and is verbally abusive to their spouse or children does not really love God. That is not truth. What is on the outside must match what is on the inside.

Several years ago our family went to Hawaii. We were shopping at the International Market and they were selling these lovely jade rings. They were gold dipped, guaranteed to last a lifetime, and so I bought two for five dollars. They were so pretty and when I wore them, someone always commented on how beautiful they were. People actually thought they were real. And you know what? They did last for a very long time because I took very good care of them. But one day the gold started to chip off. I had actually forgot I was wearing one of them and was scrubbing out the sink, when I realized what I’d done. But it was too late. The gold had worn off and the bare metal inside was showing.

Some Christians are like this too. We want to be transparent. We want to be truthful. But when troubles come our way and we get a little “roughed up” so to speak, we show, whether we want to or not, what is really on the inside. Arthur Katz, in his book The Spirit of Truth says, “...our actual condition, the true state of our inner man, is revealed not by how biblically correct we are, but by the sound we make when we hit the ground.”

We all hit the ground eventually. One day King David hit the ground. You know the story, how he arranged Uriah’s death so that he could take his wife Bathsheba for himself? Well, the prophet Nathan came to him to tell him about an outrageous thing that happened. He tells him the story of a wealthy man who needs a lamb because he has company. So he goes out and takes one from a poor neighbour. Of course, David “burned with anger” the Bible says, and demanded to know who would do such a thing for he would make him pay four times over for his lack of pity and greed. Nathan, of course, says, “You are the man.” This was the moment of truth for David. He had become transparent.

The world is watching us. Whether we like it or not, eventually the truth of who and what we are shows through. So it is our innermost being that needs to be transformed - all of it. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to pervade our entire being. We need a constant in-filling of the Spirit. And then, the bluffing has to stop. The false modesty has to stop. The white lies must stop. The false flattery must stop. We must begin to speak the truth in love without fear of recrimination. When we respond to a prayer request with sincerity, but we’re really not sincere or when we pretend that we love someone we do not, what effect does that have on our bodies? Are ulcers and anxiety and depression totally unrelated to not living in truth? Arthur Katz says that, “Every lie dulls the mind, confuses the emotions, and blunts the spirit of the one expressing it - and of the one receiving it - while adding to the unreality and untruth of the atmosphere we all breathe and depend upon for our lives together.”

The choice between the truth and a lie is a daily one. And it is only when we each, as individuals, choose to live and walk in the truth, that the Church will be that vital force in the world. If every officer and soldier made the commitment to walk daily in the truth, the Salvation Army would completely awaken and realize its full potential. Many have prayed for change in our organization. And change is coming. But it will only happen when we change - because “we” are the Army.

Hypocrisy or truth - that is our choice. Whether we don’t speak the truth because of our fear of rejection, of recrimination through the appointment system, or because we are afraid of what people will think of us - it doesn’t matter. When we let fear reign in our lives, hypocrisy reigns with it. We must choose between integrity and convenience.

I wrote this because I was challenged by something I read in a writer’s magazine. It was an article on creativity. The author tells why people who want to write but don’t, are afraid. They are afraid basically of what people will think of their writing, their opinion, but most of all, they are afraid of what people will think of them. That is because good writing reveals the inner turmoil of the writer - the tension that makes writing exciting. Are you not drawn more to writing that challenges you, that contradicts what you think and feel to be true, that is somewhat controversial in nature? I am. But, to do it myself – I don’t know.

So I have decided to go ahead, despite my fears. And I will be honest and say that I, too, am terribly afraid of the truth. I am afraid the Army is afraid of the truth. I am afraid of what God thinks of us because of our fear. I am afraid that we will not be who God wants us to be unless we face the truth. And when we face the truth - we are set free. Free from our fears. What about you? John says that the truth abides in us - so let’s speak it. Let’s live it. Let’s be truth in everything we do.

grace…Kathie 
April-May 2001



Monday, July 07, 2014

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood - Final Entry

I couldn't put the book down. Something in the words that seem to have tumbled onto the page with no rhyme or reason, here one day, two years in the future, the whole story mixed up just like grief is. Ann talks about how all the daily activities remind her of Grace and how she copes (or doesn't) with that. Her decision to have another child and finally clear out Grace's room appear in no particular order and I found myself backtracking to figure out when each event occurred. Mourning is like this. It's messy. It's filled with pain, sorrow, joy, tears, anger - all happening at different times and sometimes all at once.

The part I most resonated with was her spiritual reaction. Whenever I have gone through a difficult or traumatic event, I immediately shut God out. I get angry at him and choose to ignore him altogether. I don't want to go to church, I don't want to pray and the bible just seems like irrelevant words from a completely irrelevant millennium. I begin to think I don't even believe in him, just like Ann. Eventually I make peace with God but it's my go to reaction. 

I was also struck by how Ann and her husband, Lorne, were drawn to each other through their pain. Even though they each coped in their own way, even how they approached their spirituality, whether or not they would go or not go to church, they made room for each other to grieve and mourn in their own way. 

If you have gone through a major loss you will immediately identify with Ann. However, I wouldn't pass this book along to anyone who had recently lost a child. Although, I would later on, after some time had passed. 

That being said, I would recommend this book to anyone to help give that person a greater sense of what it's like to lose a child. It's not just that Ann shared her story, but she let it come out into the page in the way she experienced the loss.  I can't say I enjoyed the book because it's not the kind of subject that you enjoy reading about. However, I can say that I 'experienced' it and it was a good experience and I came away from it with a better understanding of mourning. It helped me see and understand some of my own losses more clearly as my experiences reflected off of Ann's.

I would give it 4/5.




Saturday, July 05, 2014

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood - Third Entry

As you can see, I read more than one chapter. I had too. The writing is compelling with its descriptive words painting a picture of chaotic grief. That his the thing that stands out to me in this story of loss and the need for comfort, anything to take the pain away.

Her experience of mourning isn't ordered. There are no "stages" laid out carefully in order as they're supposed to be, as writers will tell you in their books. Instead they come and go all over the place, one minute she is experiencing. Pleasure, the next minute she is in the hell of loss so deep it cannot be fathomed. 

She can't escape. She flees from things that remind her, she runs from people she doesn't want to meet - she hides away from life, living in the chaos. Everything she sees, the food they eat, the songs, the people - all too painful to bear.

Everyone mourns differently. But there are some things that are the same - it's how we react to our grief that is different. I allowed myself to be surrounded by everything about my mother, trying to keep her close, fully embracing the pain and agony of her death. I think I processed through it all in less time, but it was a painful time. 

We can mourn the loss of many things. A job, a relationship, a pet, a vocation...anything we have emotionally invested in. My usual reaction to pain is anxiety, avoiding the inevitable, hiding. Unresolved grief can poison a life. Hiding from the pain and loss only prolongs the mourning period. Sometimes we hang onto it as a protective barrier, something to hide behind so that we don't have to face the world again. There is a different experience for each person who brings their own experiences to the process.

This story draws me intensely in evoking memories of my own, heightening the feelings
of loss I'm experiencing now. There is more to get through. Her simple story telling, even the order in how she tells it, is gripping. I want to reach into her experience and comfort her. Comfort me.

More still to come...Kathie



Friday, July 04, 2014

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood - Chapter Two

Knitting Lessons


Sometimes grief and loss consume us. Ann Hood talks about how her mind could not focus on her writing. She kept telling the story over and over again and even though people told her to write it down - words failed her. Someone told her to learn to do something with her hands and she chose knitting. Knitting saved her.

"The quiet click of the needles, the rhythm of the stitches, the warmth of the yarn and the blanket and scarf that spilled across my lap, made those hours tolerable."

I remember something similar happening when my mom died. But it was the opposite of Ann. I couldn't knit. The very thing that saved me in the early days after being diagnosed with a chronic illness betrayed me, just as Ann's words betrayed her. Instead, I wrote about it. My fingers spilled the blood from my bleeding heart, breaking in two. It was cathartic. Like Ann I also felt a need to talk about it, to make sense of it.

I was like that when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in 1991. I mean, at least I knew I wasn't crazy and there was really something wrong with me. But while I tried to live with the reality of what was going on in my body, I couldn't stop focussing on it, talking about it and trying to make sense of why something like that would happen to me. I'm a verbal processor. If you're like me then you'll know that even as I talk through something today, tomorrow I may have reached a different conclusion. It confuses others because, of course, they're not following my logic, my reasoning. 

Back then it was knitting that saved me. I like to knit in front of the TV watching a program I like, a mystery usually or police drama. The two together ensure that I don't focus on my problems. Instead I have to pay attention to the needles and yarn in my hands.

Death is not the only thing that brings grief. I felt huge grief when I found out I had a chronic illness. It was like the person I thought I was had gone and in its place was a different person, a sick person. Illness brings loss of mobility, time, energy and interferes with every aspect of your life. It changes you. It changes how you think. From the time of diagnosis onward every thought, every feeling is overlayed with the idea that you are now sick.

Even now, having been diagnosed with a form of inflammatory arthritis, as I lose mobility a little bit more each year, I feel a profound sense of loss. I find the concerns of others don't have an impact on me. My filter is looser than usual and I don't seem to care so much. Other people's concerns seem so trivial in my mind in contrast to the problem of my ever shrinking world. I have to force the thought into the closet in my mind and slam the door shut each day and even that is becoming harder than usual.

Ann Hood's journey is heart wrenching and painful to read. It's bringing to mind so many of my own experiences with loss. Perhaps that is not a bad thing.

grace...Kathie

PS. I don't think I can do this one chapter at a time...the book is drawing me in so I'll blog separate ideas. If you've been through any type of loss, you should read this book.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood - Chapter One

     
     Sometimes your life can take twists and turns that can overwhelm you. Some involve new found joys, some involve loss and all involve change. Some are downright traumatic. So someone I've been talking to lately recommended this book to me. I decided that since I've been having trouble with my memory lately (stress, plus I just found out it's a side affect of a medication I'm taking for nerve pain) I would take each chapter one at a time and then blog my thoughts and feelings about what I'm reading.

*Now, just a warning:  My life tends to be an open book. It's a gamble because it makes you vulnerable to others and it's not always safe. However, to live any other way means something in me is is discontent and so I take the risk and share my journey. Some people don't think that's a good idea. They think others will read it and wonder what's behind it all. They think people would get the wrong impression of me and judge me. Many don't want their bosses or people from their work knowing such personal things about them.  For me, I don't mind. If you read through this and you take anything away from it that helps you in your journey, then the risk is worth it.

The Prologue


The author has lost a daughter named Grace. This part of the book is filled with all the "helpful" things people say to you when you've suffered a traumatic loss...and the answers in the author's mind that negate them. What can you possibly say to a person who has suffered such a loss?  Nothing. I can tell this is going to be an intimate look at loss with this author. I'm already wanting to read on.

Chapter 1: Losing Grace


      While reading this first chapter I am struck by the emotion that jumps off the pages, grabbing me, dragging me into the scene. Little Grace has died within a day and a half after breaking her arm and getting a bad strep infection. The author writes in a way that is vivid and painful. As a mother I'm instantly in that place, putting my own children in that space where Grace is and quickly swiping that thought away.


     She talks about how she would hear a voice saying something and realizing it was her own voice. It speaks to a sense of unreality, like a bad dream you can't wake up from. Her physical reaction, normal I'm sure, in the circumstances, reminds me of the affects of adrenaline I had when my mom had her stroke and we took her to the hospital. Afterwards, you're so exhausted, but in the midst of all the trauma your energy soars.

     I want to say I can't imagine what she went through. That would be a lie. I imagine things like that all the time. Whenever I feel anxiety and depression creeping up on me I imagine all sorts of terrible things. When I'm driving home in the car I think perhaps the house exploded and my family is dead. When I walk into a public bathroom I'm afraid to open the cubicle door - there might be a dead child hung up on the hook. Terrible. They're visions I've had when I'm at the point I need to see the doctor.

     Being an analytical person, the logic in me says right away that's silly, there's nothing that's happened, don't be stupid just open the cubicle. However, the imagination of a creative person can be like a giant imax screen with colours of the rainbow jumping out at you.  I read an interesting article in The Atlantic about the creative brain and mental illness - here - and I was surprised that this runs in families. Often the creative person will suffer a less severe mental illness, but others in the family may have it worse, without the creativity. There is a link somehow.

     I don't think the experience of losing my mom was anything like losing a child. Although, whenever I would think about losing my mom before it actually happened, anxiety started and I wouldn't be able to control it. That was my first bout with it and I was unprepared for how I would cope with it. I think losing a child would bring with it a greater sense of tragedy. Your children are supposed to outlive you. Parents pass away. My mom lived to almost 89 years. She had a long and good life. It was expected. Anticipated.

     We have friends who live with the frightening thought of losing their child. Their son, Jesse, had a brain tumour that was cancerous and it morphed into an even more frightening kind of cancer. It's been removed successfully, but he still has a very high risk it will come back. How they cope is crazy. I don't know if I could get through it. They write about it on their blog, here.

     Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this book. It's drawn me in and I'm tempted to read it in one go. I'm going to resist that urge as I want to savour it and remember it so I'm going to take a bit of time to do this. (You may see more than one chapter posted in a day).

The next chapter is called "Knitting Lessons" so I know I already like this author.



Monday, June 16, 2014

Lord, What Shall I Do?

As a Christian, I'm pretty sure I've been somewhat successful at figuring out what God wants me to do when it comes to some of my major decisions.

But who am I fooling?

How can anyone know the mind or will of God?

When you make decisions, do you use your heart?

For instance,  do you ask God to open a door to show you a path that you should go?

Or do you use your mind?

For instance, you tell God what you want to do and then pray for Him to bless your decision?

It depends on what you believe about how God acts in our life and intersects with us.

Charismatic Christians will say they can hear God's voice and have visions, either waking or sleeping. They may receive a "word" from God for themselves or someone else.

Other Christians will say that God isn't a voice you can hear, but you can be guided generally by His word and other Christians who give good Godly counsel.

Others fall in between citing that they sense God's Spirit within them at peace or that something comes to mind and believe it comes from God guiding them.

Someone recently told me that God is not about to lead us to a place of anxiety or fear, but rather we should sense peace when deciding, a spiritual peace.

We pray for wisdom to know what to do, so if God gives us wisdom, we should use it, right? We're not puppets on a string with a master puppeteer lifting our arms in legs in the direction we should go. We're also not pawns on a chess board in some master universal chess game of good against evil.

What we think is important. From deciding the direction of our own lives and work, it affects what we tell our kids. I remember a well meaning youth leader at a camp telling our girls that they need to make sure they choose the right guy to marry. They sure don't want to miss going with God's "Plan A" and end up with God's "Plan B" or second best. They were so confused and asked, "What if I fall in love with the wrong man?"

So I want to know what you think? Do you hear God's voice? Do you sense His leading in your life? What does that look like for you.

Let me know.

grace...Kathie

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Perspective

Sometimes all it takes is to watch Dr. Phil to realize that whatever you're going through someone else has it worse. However, perspective doesn't erase the hurt and trauma you experience when going through a difficult time in your life.


Over the years in ministry, my husband and I have faced our share of difficult times. The first time was something we'll not likely ever forget - an angry person in our congregation. They were new folk who had joined and took offence at being politely called on their attitude toward Natives in the province. They seemed to think putting them all on a train and blowing it up was acceptable and even more so to tell your pastors what you thought was just fine. When we met with them in a public place - McDonalds - they told us we were terrible people, bad parents and threw their offering envelope in our faces. I remember calling our supervisor at the head office and debriefing about the whole thing. We felt supported and cared for and the encouragement kept us going.


For the most part ministry has been fulfilling even while painful. It's that eternal paradox -  no pain, no gain. It's like getting a massage from a Registered Massage Therapist and them finding all the pain points and kneading them deeply to release the tightness. Not only painful during, but even after when you ache and pain and need a couple of Tylenols to make it through the day and night. Only a few treatments later, when the pain is over do you feel better. Sometimes, ministry is like that.


Part of the problem for people in ministry is that ministry is becoming ever more complex as our society becomes more secular and governments enact laws that affect how we run our organizations.  My organization runs faith based ministry centres that help people and they are becoming more complicated to run all the time. Employment laws and Human Rights issues have brought about many fear based policies and hiring practices. No one wants to be sued for denying employment to someone based on their religious beliefs. However, how can you ensure that the spiritual mission of the organization is upheld and supported by the employees and managers? What does that look like? It's complicated - and a ministry leader is vulnerable and faces great challenges.

So how can a ministry leader make it through perilous times?

By focusing on what is important. That's what I've been doing lately. 

  • I Remember God loves me and no matter what anyone says about me, I know He loves me and He is the only one I need to please. That includes fulfilling my ministry obligations, but also ensuring that I remain true to my calling and covenant.
  • I pray. Even if it's just "God, hold on to me!" I say the words, repeat them. I pray the Psalms - they're all about crying out to God in frustration, anger and despair. I particularly like Psalm 13, it's a good one to read when I feel like rubbish. I also ask others to pray,  a select group that I know I can trust.
  • I breathe deep often. When the anxiety mounts from the extra cortisol stress brings, breathing deep helps.
  • I go for long and vigorous walks - exercise also burns cortisol.
  • I talk to a trusted friend or pastoral care counsellor and make sure that I say the truth about the deepest thoughts I have. Saying them out loud steals the power from my fears.

In the end, puppy kisses heal the heart. So, that's what I make sure I get a healthy dose of every day from Talulah, our Labradoodle puppy. She's so sweet and obliges me every time I ask for a kiss.

If you're going through a tough time, in ministry or some other type of work, I hope this helps and lets you know you're not alone, you're not the only one who feels lonely, betrayed, confused or anxious. Comment below, and I'll make sure I pray for you.

grace...Kathie




Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Why I Write

     Recently someone pointed out to me that it's been my privilege to be allowed to write for my organization. I have to absolutely agree. It's a tremendous privilege to have your words enter into another person's mind, influencing their thoughts, challenging their perspectives and soothing their burdened hearts. I don't take that lightly.

     For me to write is to experience life in a more fuller way. I process my thoughts while I write and speak. One day I may state I believe a certain way in something, only to have my thinking challenged in a conversation and be persuaded to look at something differently. That's happened to me so many times over the years - as many times as I've had the opportunity to challenge and persuade others. When this happens I just have to tell others!

And yes, that is a privilege.

     Recently I wrote a short piece about where my desire to write comes from on the Canadian Writer's Who are Christians blog. You can read it here.  This is the website of The Word Guild, an organization for writers who are Christian. This group is a wonderful collection of writers from Canada who write because they are driven to write, called to write and gifted to write. There are some wonderful writers who post on the blog each month. If you're a Canadian and you like to write, check it out.

grace...Kathie

ps. if you want to read some of my previous writing on the Salvationist.ca, you can go here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Watching Noah




I'm not sure what I just experienced while watching the movie, Noah.  I was certainly entertained, but there were a few things that bothered me.

Story Line - what bothered and distracted me while I was watching:

It wasn't the complete detailed biblical story as we read it in the Book of Genesis. The writer and director took some creative license to beef it up and bring some family drama to it. Although I didn't mind some of that creativity, I think some of the changes hurt the story. 

One of the reasons that God chooses Noah and his family is that he is righteous among a people that are wicked. You saw that, but it came in the form of taking care of the earth. 

The biblical story is that his sons already have wives when they enter the ark. Having no wives for Ham and Japheth didn't make sense to me, until I realized where they took the story with Noah thinking they would all die out and mankind wouldn't survive. But the episode with the baby twins, while well acted, was complexly made up and didn't happen.

Noah's father, Lamech, wasn't killed. He lived 575 years after Noah was born. It was correct that Methusaleh was still alive while Noah was, but he would have been gone by the time Noah had his children, because the bible says he didn't have his children until he was 500 years old. But I'm nitpicking here, it just bothered me. 

I didn't mind the storyline about the twin baby girls and Noah thinking he had to kill them. Why? Well, it's not always easy to hear what God wants from us and when He's calling us to a specific task, we sometimes put our human spin on things. (Now, come on, you know we do.)

It's perfectly believable that Noah would have struggled through the ordeal. The drunken scene is completely consistent with the biblical story. It's not a stretch to imagine having a hard time with everything that happened. He just watched an entire race of people, men, women and children, killed by a God he serves. 

The whole Tubal-Cain thing? Yeah, I didn't like where they took that story in the end. (An earlier part of this paragraph was incorrect - I blame on late night editing and similar spelling!)

Changing the story so much distracted me from getting into it. I kept thinking, "that didn't happen." 

Themes:

So, story inconsistencies aside, there were some themes that the creators emphasized in the story. The theme of justice and mercy are strong themes. Did the wickedness of the people warrant their extermination? Perhaps. Aaronofsky's idea is that they scorched the earth and ruined creation (also not part of the biblical story) is a stretch. It was a time when the were extracting minerals from the ground and forging tools. However, the theme of taking care of the earth is relevant and not inconsistent with the bible, however, veganism? Yeah, that was a bit much.

Forgiveness is also in there. We see Noah's wife forgive him, God forgives the angels of light and taking them to be with Him. Noah's children forgive him. 

Righteousness is the right balance of justice and mercy, not perfection. God's righteousness demands an accounting. God giving mankind a fresh start, a new life - is merciful, and foreshadows the messiah, Christ, who died and rose again offering new life to us. We die to self and God gives us a fresh start, taking care of Adams mark on us. The snake skin wrapped around the arm of Lamech and then Noah, reminds us of the serpent in the garden. 

Acting:

I thought all the actors were very good, no problems there. I was drawn into their story and they were believable. 

Style and special effects:

Here is where I have a problem with inconsistencies. Some of the special effects were brilliant- the flood, the boat, the stone people reminded me of the Ents in LOTR, but their not in the biblical story. (The Nephilim were the product, the offspring, of angels and human women. They were giants, not stone people). But then the intro at the beginning, the snake appearing, and the silhouettes during the story telling - well, they were cheesy. Not at all like Aaronofsky's other films, according to my son, the movie expert. 

The music score was well written and it didn't distract from the story line. Costumes were authentic looking. The story moved along and there were moments of intense emotion and suspense. The use of miracles is believable, though not in the original story. 

Conclusion.

 While it had some good parts to it, the movie altered the story of Noah to its detriment. I think they could have stuck to the original story lines and it would have made more sense. There's more than enough room in the actual story to make a dramatic and suspenseful film using family dynamics, intense stress of not being able to save the supposed innocent. Those issues could easily create tension in the story and it would have been more believable. 

I would rate this movie a 5/10.

I didn't consider it a waste of time, as some have said. It certainly might look different to someone who has never read the biblical account. 

Should you go and see it? Well, I read some reviews that said it was bad, but I like to make my own mind up about things. Perhaps you should too.

grace...Kathie





Thursday, February 20, 2014

Procrastination or Busyness?

I have got to get those discussion questions done! Oh, and I have to call the hearing centre, my hearing aid just stopped working. Don't forget to pick up the tax receipt at the school...oh right, dear hubby did that last week!

Kathie feeling a little frazzled today!
 
Well, I've written about this before. Crazy how, when there are so many things piled up on the highway of your life, some things get missed or put off. I'm feeling a little cramped for time right now because I'm getting ready to go on two weeks holiday to the Philippines. (That's right! My first time there and my husbands first time returning to his birth place in 47 years.)

Anyway, if something is going to go wrong, it's going to be when I'm getting ready to go somewhere or when I already have a pile of things to do. Murphpy's law? What is that anyway!

So, back to those discussion questions. Yes, I'm writing them for someone at the head office and she has promised me a conversation about them. So, hopefully, I'll be able to get some time today to sit and edit them...must strengthen filter!

Then, I'll get the other two articles done that are due while I'm away.

Sigh....

grace please, Lord....

Oh, and my article is on the website now, so check it out:

 http://salvationist.ca/2014/02/thorn-in-my-flesh/comment-page-1/#comment-40533

kathie

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Books, Books, Books

I read a lot of books. I love books. I love their smell. I love the feel of the pages as I turn them. I love being lost in them, my mind submerged in the ideas and visions that float off the pages.

However, I dislike being forced to read. This book shelf represents an overdose of a subject in a short period of time. I was working on my MA in Leadership and some courses had eight books in total to read plus a list of other recommended readings. This shelf doesn't represent the totality of the reading required for the courses because there were online journal articles, published papers and theses to research.

And it wasn't just the reading. We had to then take all that information, compare it, think critically about it and then write massive papers on our own opinions. Sheesh! After that I was totally put off reading information books for a long while.

Instead, I immersed myself in the mystery of a good whodunnit. Like the books on this shelf, I took some I hadn't read in a few years and started them again. Later moving on to my favourites like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and good old Harry Potter.

My next revisit might be the Victorian world of Amelia Peabody Emmerson and her hunky hubby, Radcliffe as they discover the next body in Egypt. Titles such as The Guardian at the Gate, The Mummy Case and The Last Camel Died at Noon and written by Elizabeth Peters, are well written in what I've found to be the most authentic Victorian voice. The information this professor of Egyptology provides makes the stories all the more interesting and entertaining.


What are you reading lately? Come find me on goodreads and find out what else I've read and liked.

grace....Kathie

Friday, February 07, 2014

Check it Out

Hey friends,

I'm a guest blogger at The World Guild today. Check out Finding Your Strengths at:

http://twgauthors.blogspot.ca/2014/02/finding-your-strengths.html

When you're there, check out all the different wrtiters that blog there. You can find wonderful books to read on their sites!

grace...Kathie