Posted in Democracy, Election

The American Election – a Canadian Perspective

I’m going to make this brief because it troubles me that so many words have already been spilled on the page when, in my opinion, the solution is so simple: do the recount, do whatever is required to prove that everything was legit.

Blocking the investigation is only feeding the suspicion that there is something amiss.

The reason for an election is so that the people can speak. The people have spoken.

Examine the evidence. Get the verdict.

Every eligible vote must be counted.

Every ineligible vote must be discarded.

Sounds simple.

Posted in appreciation, down-sizing, individuality, personality

When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

This week I had an image of Cinderella’s sister trying to squeeze her foot into a tiny glass slipper. That’s me, trying to fit myself into our tiny, one bedroom condo.

I’ve watched minimalist videos, downsizing videos and decluttering videos. I’ve practiced gratefulness and berated myself for my lack of contentment. But in the end it is what it is. Eight years of trying to squeeze into a space that is too small for me.

I’m definitely open to suggestions if anyone has figured out how to do this.

I’m particularly fascinated by people who live in tiny houses. I wonder if they really live that way, or secretly stash their stuff in an off-site trailer? Maybe they don’t have any hobbies that take up space. Maybe they don’t entertain. I can’t imagine reducing further to fit into such a small space.

One day, in a radical moment, I gave away my acrylic painting supplies and canvases, keeping only my watercolors because they take up less space. They went to a good home, and I have no regrets about that. My sister, when I told her about it this week, exclaimed, “You don’t get rid of your hobbies!” Oh, you don’t?

I am struggling to shove my big foot into that slipper and not only does it pinch, it doesn’t go in all the way. Maybe I need to “lose weight.” Maybe I need to “trim” my foot, surgically. There is something fundamentally wrong with my foot. With the basic bone structure.

I don’t actually have a disorder. I mean, I’m not a hoarder or anything. Well, maybe just a little when it comes to books. I admit I have a box of cards I’ve kept over the years, and a few impractical gifts by which to remember my grandparents. I have two shoe-sized boxes of photos and half a dozen albums. I also have a couple of small boxes of craft supplies and I own a sewing machine, but have no fabric in the house unless I’m working on a project.

Seasonal decor takes up considerable space — one box of items for fall, several more for Christmas. There is the toy cupboard for the grandkids and I’ve held on to some table games to play with them when they are a bit older.

Camping supplies, lawn chairs, a set of golf clubs and a sound system are relegated to our condo storage “cage” which is crammed. My husband sold his radio control equipment, which probably felt similar to me giving away my painting supplies. Every few months I rearrange things in storage and throw out anything I can possibly part with.

We like to entertain. Our kitchen has the exact dishes and baking utensils we need. My recipe collection dates back to when we owned a Tea Room and overflows onto a second shelf in a shallow pantry that also holds medication, candles and dried goods.

I am trying to be transparent, as if this might help.

I’m digitalizing my recipes, now, as well as my journals. I’m trying to minimize paper storage. Every month or so I “skim” and get rid of something. Earlier this month I gave away a box of nice decor items. My previous cull was of recipe books. A funky backpack, a pair of fashion boots and a plastic storage cabinet are ready for a trip to the thrift store. If I don’t go back to work at the office, I will cull my shoes next.

I want the feeling of calm I get when I look at the serene homes posted online. I do feel this in our living room, which extends, shoe-box style, into the kitchen and dining area. But the kitchen and dining area ruin the feeling. The space is too small for our large table, a hutch, two bar stools and a piano. This week the bar stools are going.

We’ve built extra IKEA wall shelves in the dining area and the bedroom, which also houses a full-wall bookshelf. I have art books, music books, books on writing, leadership, theology, family, politics, counselling, etc. I tend to cull novels and memoirs, but not reference books.

Last Christmas I gave each of our sons a small banker’s box of school memorabilia, once again “skimming” and clearing a few more inches of space.

This is an ongoing struggle. Whenever a new item needs a place in the house, there is a domino effect as I move things along and try to condense a few inches of space.

My home is a place to relax and entertain. But it is also an office, art studio and music studio. It might actually look minimalist if I gave these up.

If you can’t change your circumstances, change yourself, the saying goes.

It seems the solution is to stop forcing. Give up my obsession with having a peaceful feeling. Just put the slipper of perfection aside as a nice possibility which may never happen.

Posted in Belief in God, faith, God, Worship

Why I Believe in God and How This Changes My Life

“Imagine there’s no heaven, easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky.” –John Lennon

It’s attractive–the idea of no religion. Nothing to divide people. No ultimate standard. No God. No judgement.

John Lennon’s utopia was imaginary and impossible. The reason is because people need to understand why they are on this earth and how they got here and who is responsible for their being here and what this implies. Hence, religions.

God-fearing people live their lives as though God is watching. Religion has exploited believers in numerous ways, so I don’t particularly want to associate myself with the common understanding of religion. I want to distill my faith to the basics, one of which is a belief in an eternal God who sees all. From here I move on to his son, Jesus Christ, and the significance of his life, death and resurrection. I am a believer in Christ because my research has led me to the conclusion that the evidence for his life, death and resurrection is overwhelming.

Mine is not a defence of religion, or of faith, or of belief in God. Mine is a call to an honest search. Jesus said, “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, and few there be that find it.” I cannot find your way for you. You have to find it for yourself. For me it meant casting aside my previously held beliefs and then examining every piece before I decided which ones I would pick up and keep. It is a brave thing to do. You don’t know at the outset what the outcome will be.

I watched a small bird hop around on my balcony and I allowed my imagination to wander to what went into the design of this little winged creature. Then I thought about the seeds it was eating, and the plants that produced those seeds, and the sun that shone on the plants, the rain that fell on them, the soil that nurtured the plants. I thought of the seasons. I thought of the galaxies. I thought of the perfect distance of the sun from the earth so that we are not scorched and do not freeze. I thought about the exquisite balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. I thought about gravity and the rotation of the earth around the sun, and the moon around the earth. And on and on and on. I thought about all the things that are not explained by the theory of evolution. Let’s remember it is only a theory. And it was a theory introduced as a reaction to the concept of religion and the possibility of a Creator. It is a theory that, when you really think about it, makes no sense at all. But people don’t want to think. Deep thinking scares them. It shakes their fabricated reality.

There is no possible way that this earth is an accident that happened over billions of years. So the only other alternative is that we are dealing with a Designer. A Designer with intent. From this point on I think it is reasonable to believe that this Designer wants to communicate with his creation. This is where religion begins. And there are many ways that religions have explained and tried to understand God.

It is the order of the universe that makes me a believer in a Creator. It is the fact that we have a conscience that makes me a believer in the righteousness of a Creator God. Up to this point most religions are similar but from here they begin to branch out with many tangents. I do not believe that all religions lead to God. God transcends religions. Religion is just a series of beliefs organized to understand God and to attempt to know how to respond to him. What I believe is that righteousness is at the heart of true religion. And I believe that God bridges the gap between his complete righteousness and our partial righteousness when we seek him and put our faith in him. However, this does require a type of re-birth, a dying of the old, a seed falling into the ground and a new life springing forth. The nature of God transcends all, even our human understanding. I cannot explain or describe God any more than I can explain or describe the wind and even this is a totally inadequate analogy. But I have felt God. And I worship him. I seek him with all my being. I desire to fulfill the design he had in creating me. My knowledge of God gives meaning to all I do.

My faith journey has been a life-long process and I have discovered many wonderful resources along the way. A book I recommend, and which profoundly impacted my search, is written by the late J. I. Packer, entitled Knowing God.

Posted in Coronavirus, COVID-19, dealing with stress, faith, Health, Leadership, stress

Surviving the Pandemic – Family with Covid-19

Snow Globe Jar

Our snow globe broke this week and I was out looking for a replacement and saw this interesting ‘do it yourself’ idea.

Now that I look at the photo I realize the globe has a church, which somehow seems significant. This Christmas I’ve wanted to get a T-shirt that says, “Don’t hate my holiday and I won’t hate yours.”

Has anybody been getting Christmas hate? Last year I was stunned when I was at Michaels and saw a nativity scene where someone had replaced baby Jesus with a pig. My husband tried to explain it away. It was probably kids goofing off. It could also have been staff, I said. The little plastic pig was in a separate department away from the display, so how did those responsible come up with the idea, was my question? It wasn’t just, “Oh, here’s a pig, let’s take baby Jesus out and put it in there.” They had to walk to another area and get the pig.

My girlfriend and I performed Christmas music at seniors’ homes a few years back and mostly we were very well received but there was one location where the coordinator was angry with us for coming to play Christmas music in December during their “Happy Hour.” Some residents wouldn’t come, she told us, even though this had been set up in advance as a Christmas special. She clearly let us know how inappropriate this was.

I grew up in a time when Christmas was a “hallowed” season. Each year schools and churches would re-enact the nativity or have a similar, uplifting play or program that always referenced the birth of Christ.

The truth is I don’t really like Christmas today without the sacred focus. The songs grate on me when I hear them played over and over again in stores that set out their displays way to early. Watching Hallmark movies where people dance to “Silent Night, Holy Night”??? And have you tried finding a Christmas card with any message related to Christ, lately? Impossible.

For awhile I immersed myself in the Hallmark version of the “spirit of Christmas” where the focus is on good things like love and generosity. There is merit to this, but in the end it still rings hollow for me, a season reduced to tinsel and activity and commerce, with a nod to family. Christmas, of all seasons, is about worship–come and worship Christ the King. Without worship, life is empty and void of meaning.

Do you ever feel like your nerves are a bit raw? Well, that’s how I feel. I try and ignore it as I put up more lights in the hope of adding brightness and joy to my part of the world.

But my nerves feel on edge. This past week my mother was hospitalized for Covid-19. The hospital was full and her bed was needed so she was sent home the next day. She had fluid in her lungs and could barely walk, she was so weak. There is a very serious outbreak in her area of Manitoba. People don’t believe the virus is a real thing to be concerned about. It looks like the medical system is collapsing. Nurses did not have time to check on her when we called to ask how she was doing. I admit I was relieved that she could go home.

My sister who cares for my mother was diagnosed with Covid-19 first and she thought she got it from my mother who probably contracted it at the lab where she goes weekly for tests. My sister said it was way worse than any flu she had ever had. She isolated in the basement of her house and is recovering now.

A family member has been checking up daily on my mother. We are aware of the risk, but we cannot leave her uncared for.

At my husband’s parents’ assisted living residence there is a total lockdown, starting this week, because of an outbreak. My father-in-law walks 35 minutes every day, down the halls or outside, weather permitting. He had open heart surgery and he does this for his health but he’s not allowed to walk now.

What I find heartbreaking is that care homes are not getting any better at meeting the needs of their clients more than eight months after the first lockdowns.

And in the middle of this we have the slow motion drama of U.S. election results. Biden talking about healing feels to me like an abuser talking about healing to his victim. After all, it was his party that called Trump voters the “deplorables” and worse. It was his party that spent four years invalidating the Trump administration. It was his party that controlled the media narrative the whole time. And his party is currently talking about reforming Trump voters. How do you heal that?

There is still a God in heaven. I remind myself.

Back to my mother, I’m extremely grateful that she is doing a little better this week.

The anti-dote to the distress we feel is to find beauty and be grateful and take note of the many small blessings we experience every day. I’ve been trying to do that.

I suspect that I may have had the virus, as I was sick for four weeks and now I still feel tightness in my chest, several weeks later. I could not endure the thought of waiting in line with a lot of other sick people for a covid test, so I just monitored myself at home. My husband was sick first but only for a week.

During the time I was sick my sisters took a road trip to visit me. When I told them I was not well, the morning of the day they were to arrive, they turned around and didn’t come. This is really not the time to be travelling and seeing family. Even though I was sad not to see them, I felt relieved.

I was getting better earlier that week, but I re-used my mask without washing it and I think I re-infected myself.

I’m trying to do all the right things to stay healthy and to keep my spirits up but there are difficult days. I find myself lacking in energy, which means I don’t get out as much to exercise. Exercise and movement are so key, as is cooking at least one good meal a day and getting quality sleep. When one area falters there is often a ripple effect. I just tell myself to do my best. Tomorrow will be different.

I mentioned the church at the outset. How is our faith influencing our covid response? I, for one, am praying. I am trying to be supportive of others who are struggling. I am holding on to my firm belief in the goodness of God. However, there is a flip side I am only too aware of. God does not smile on evil and injustice. The pandemic could be a sign of his displeasure. One religious leader has said that if this is so, then there is more to come.

I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs and am impressed by these words, “The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.” We need to see more wise leaders in this world.

Rex Murphy writes today: Governments have caused us to lose faith in our pandemic response, “…the inconsistent messaging, the exceptions granted to certain activities and the disparity of its impact on private sector workers compared to those in the public sector have broken the faith citizens had in our overall response. The common spirit that was present at the beginning of the crisis is not here now.”

Covid has magnified the importance of good leadership. The double standard of our leaders is one of the saddest things I’ve seen. Those advocating for lockdowns and penalties are found traveling and attending large gatherings and protests as though they are exempted from regulations. This does not feel like pulling together. In the absence of corporate leadership we will have to assume leadership as individuals.

The truth is that if it were not for the overwhelming of our health care system and the deaths of the vulnerable elderly, we could probably go about our lives as usual, save for the fact that it is now becoming apparent that there can be long term organ damage from covid among those who recover. None of us want to be super-spreaders. Every day nurses and doctors and care workers are falling ill. They don’t have the option of isolating. I read this week that the doctor in a small town who was “assigned” to be the covid doctor just contracted the virus. What happens then? Another doctor is “assigned”?

Is there a silver lining? The saying comes from a “sliver lining” around storm clouds, reassuring us that there is sunshine behind the clouds. I do believe good can and will come out of this.