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.