Hell No!

I’ve been really ticked at the devil lately.  Seriously.

For the few months, those closest to me have been plagued by depression, anxiety, fear and helplessness.  Poor decisions made based on these temporary emotions and the confusion that ensues have left me wanting to punch something or somebody.  I know it’s an attack from the pit of hell, yet I struggle to direct my anger towards the real culprit.  For the reader who believes in Jesus but isn’t sure about Satan, let me assure you, he’s as real as Jesus is, but we’ve been downplaying his existence because we’re more concerned that it may make us look fanatical or like we’ve seen too many horror movies.

The book of  1st Peter 5:8-9 assures us that there is a devil.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.  He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.

The enemy of our soul does not want us to be content in any and all situations, do good for others, have joy, or be at peace, because those are all indicators that we have Jesus in our lives and he hates that.  He hates Jesus so he will hate us. It’s that simple. But, I hate him more and I’ve had it with him using my loved ones as target practice.

Oh yes, it’s on.

Once of the opinion that you shouldn’t poke at, or even acknowledge the devil or he’d get you,  I was no threat to him.   I’ve since learned that he’s more afraid of me than I am of him.

Once one of the most beautiful angels, Lucifer spent too much time oohing and aahing in front of the mirror, became full of himself, used “I will,” just a little too much for God’s liking, and got himself kicked out of heaven.  Now as believers, WE are seated in  heavenly places. We hold a position that Satan (Lucifer’s new handle) wanted for himself and he’s not a happy camper.

With a fresh revelation of who, and more importantly, Whose I am, I can go into battle with the full confidence that I am not fighting alone.  When I use the word of God, when I apply the blood of Jesus, and do so in faith, I am suited up like a Navy Seal; I’m unstoppable.  FullArmorEphesians 6: 10-17 describes the uniform we are to put on every day whether your battle happens in your home, your workplace, or just walking into Starbucks. I won’t go into a full description; you can read it yourself, but let me just point out that all of the pieces of armor are defensive, except the Word.  Put the letter “s”  in front, and you have Sword– that’s a weapon, my friend.

Recently God gave me revelation of just how powerful we are when we walk in His authority.  He planted a name in my head and I couldn’t stop thinking about this person.  I ended up messaging them to see how they were doing.

“I’m so anxious.  I feel like my life is imploding on me; I’ve never felt so awful and I can’t stand it much longer.”

Satan loves to attack where he thinks people will be too embarrassed or ashamed to speak of their battle; mental health seems to be his weapon of choice lately.

I could have just messaged back with “Keep your chin up,” or offer a benign”I’m praying for you,” but I’d had it.   This roaring lion was about to get de-clawed.

When I talk to God I may be on my knees or even on my face.  But when I’m yelling at the enemy, I’m on my feet.  This is not to say that I’m some super-spiritual wonder woman, but rather that I don’t believe that God responds to a posture of pity, but one of power.  We are His creation and He didn’t create us in fear or timidity.  I’m convinced that  if we could see what happens in the spirit when we are doing battle, it would blow our stinkin’ minds.spiritualBattle

We are told in Luke 10:19:

“Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them.  Nothing will injure you…”

So what was my battle plan?

Well first, I cranked up my worship music because 1.  Worship is warfare in and of itself–the devil hates to see us worship the Lord! And 2.  The neighbours won’t hear me yelling at an invisible foe- not that I really care once I get going.  I began declaring every one of God’s promises that came to my mind: this person was created in a spirit of love, power, and of sound mind ( 1 Timothy 1:7)  No weapon formed against her would prosper (Isaiah 54:17)   and anything not planted by the Heavenly Father would be uprooted. (Matthew 15:13) just to name a few.    Now, I know that I’m not allowed to give commands to angels–they are only permitted to answer only to God, but I can ask Him to send a bunch of kick-butt angels to protect and fight for my friend, so I did.  I pleaded the blood of Jesus from the crown of her head to the souls of her feet. I broke off:  Fear. Confusion.  Anxiety. Depression.   I spoke over her: Life in abundance. Peace. Joy. Clarity.  And I told the enemy to take his filthy, stinking paws off of my friend in the Name of Jesus.  This all sounds like stuff I did, but in reality, it was what I activated.  I activated faith by speaking God’s word. I affirmed the finished work of Christ on the cross when I applied the blood, I acknowledged that there is no name higher in heaven and earth when I asked Him to dispatch His angels.  In all of these steps, I walked in my authority, believing as it says in Philippians 4:13:

“For I can do all things through Christ Who gives me strength…”

Even though I broke this down into steps, the beauty of it is that it all happened naturally. I wasn’t holding a cheat sheet “on “How to kick the devil’s butt.” It was a natural response to an attack, my immediate go-to.  When you truly grasp that you have Jesus on the inside of you, nothing seems impossible; you know it’s Christ in you doing the heavy lifting.

Oh, and the best thing?  I checked in on this person just the other day, firing off a message to see how she was doing.  The response was so good and so God:

I’m out of the woods.  Made it to the other side, thank God…. I don’t know what you prayed, but something magical happened. Thanks for going through it with me”

My friend doesn’t have a relationship with God-yet.  But she does know that she was healed by Him, even if she doesn’t understand it yet.  In yielding to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and being willing to suit up and go into battle, a seed was planted.  I have no idea know who will water it, who will help the Son to shine on it.  That’s between her and God, but it will be a beautiful flower to watch grow no matter how long it takes.

God will use us friends, cracked pots and all.  He’s not looking for a perfect person, but a heart turned perfectly towards Him.   He responds to our faith, even if it’s only the size of a mustard seed.  When we partner with Him, He will do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask for.

Yes and amen.


A Servant’s Heart

washingfeetToday was a truly blessed day.

In my workplace, there is a gentleman who works under my supervision. He’s jovial even when he’s exhausted, tells corny jokes, despises paper work, and tolerates working in a female-dominated industry without a single eye-roll.   In the years that I’ve known him, I’ve discovered that he truly believes in honouring women on International Women’s Day.  He grew up in a culture that doesn’t necessarily make big deal out of Mother’s Day, however March 8th is one that he is very intentional about observing.

I was at the end of my workday and he was easing into his shift. After the workday on Thursday afternoons, a few of us hang back to do a boot camp of sorts, congregating in the fitness room to exercise.  I had changed into my workout clothing, and my running shoes were encrusted in the mud from a previous almost-spring- run through the neighbouring park.

I was ready to get down to business, when, motioning to a chair, this gentleman said, “Monica, sit down.”  I had no idea what he was up to, I thought perhaps he was going to give me an exercise to slog through. As our informal in-house fitness instructor, he is generally the one putting us through our paces, but he had other responsibilities to tend to, so I wasn’t sure why he was telling me to sit down.  He donned a pair of disposable gloves and grabbed a tub of antimicrobial wipes.

“Give me your foot.””

Obediently (which is a change for me, being his supervisor, after all) I lifted my foot.  He took my foot in his hand and began wiping the dirt off of my shoes.  First the left foot, and then the right.  In that moment, I began to think of Jesus.  How He had, during the Last Supper, washed each of His disciples feet–even Judas’–knowing that within hours, he would be betrayed by the very one He had humbled Himself before.

I thought about how short-tempered and sometimes downright rude I can be to this gentleman, and there he was, in essence, washing my feet.  As much as it makes me cringe to admit that I don’t always model Christian attributes, I know that I don’t stand alone in this, but I am willing to ‘fess up.  My poor behaviour that I sometimes display, often unwarranted,  was no deterrent to his kindness and that made it all the more difficult for me.  I inwardly squirmed as  I remembered how Peter argued with Jesus, stating, “No, you shall never wash my feet!”   Jesus told him that if He didn’t, he (Peter) would have no part in Him.  Jesus was essentially giving him and the other disciples a template for how to demonstrate a servant’s heart. Unless they learned to serve, they would not be able to carry out the great commission He had in store for them. (Paraphrasing of John 13:16)

So as I allowed my filth to be cleansed, my mind returned again to how Jesus took our filth upon Himself and allowed it to plunge  Him into the grave.  I reflected on how undeserving I am of the grace Jesus showed by taking on my sin, and how undeserving I was to have this man clean my shoes. My inner-witness slowed the proceedings like it was happening in slow motion.  I watched as he modelled humility; it wasn’t a show for those around who witnessed this act, rather it was a humble gesture of kindness and an intentional demonstration of honour and servitude.

Perhaps he meant it simply as a gesture of showing honour to his “boss” on International Women’s Day, but the message I received was so much more than that.  I was reminded that in heavenly realms,  there is no distinction between “boss” and “employee”.   Ultimately, we all have the same Master to Whom we are both accountable . While my shoes still show tell-tale signs of miles trudged through the mud, the rest of me has been cleansed white as snow.   I am eternally grateful that while my filth carried Jesus to the grave, it was His grace and love that brought Him-and me- back out again .

Yes and amen.


Stewardship vs. Ownership

This is a theme I’ve given a lot of thought to lately.

When God gives you a gifting or a talent, and more importantly, a mandate for which to use it, it is called stewardship.  Stewardship, as I understand it, is something that God entrusts us with–our time, talent, anything we have to invest into His Kingdom for His glory. It’s when we move from stewardship to ownership, where we think we are in charge, that there is a problem.

When God puts an idea in your head and your heart, it’s awesome.  I mean, it’s like getting the blue prints from the Big Guy Himself, which essentially it is.  It’s often confirmation for something you’ve had on your mind, your heart,  and when you get the thumbs up from God, it’s like full steam ahead.  But wait.  Any good idea you have, if you really think about it, and know your bible, comes from Him, so it’s really His  idea.  Apply the brakes.  The bible says in Romans 11:36 (NLT)

  “For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory….”

And from John 15:5 (NLT)

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.  Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from me, you can do nothing.”

This is the very reason I don’t post a blog every day, sometimes not even every week.  Unless I feel God’s gentle nudging; Him telling me that He has something He wants to say or something He feels that I should share about myself, I don’t even crack open the laptop.  This blog is His baby, not mine.  Stewardship-not ownership.

I once heard a stirring story from the pulpit about this very topic.  It wasn’t from a pastor, but rather a former hockey player turned executive movie producer, Troy Buder.  For those that may not have heard of him and his connection with Disney, he was a mediocre hockey player with a  painful past.


He was originally from Alberta and ended up playing for the L.A. Kings farm team. Once he hung up his skates, he spent much of his time and notoriety as a Christian hockey player doing charity work in a myriad of venues . Within his circle of influence, he had heard of a story about a youth worker who taught chess to under-privileged kids in Uganda, Africa.  The story had been made into a book, and God put it on Troy’s heart to buy the rights and to make it a movie.  In our church a couple of years ago, Troy told us the protracted story of how he came to be the executive producer of the Disney movie, The Queen of KatweQueenof Katwe  It was not a smooth nor easy process; in fact it took seven years to get it off the ground.  In listening to his testimony, I can’t help but think it was akin to a 40 year journey through the wilderness when it should have only taken him eleven days.  You see, Troy had a problem with ownership vs. stewardship.


Troy’s testimony left a huge impression on me. That day he talked about his own pride about the movie, how he just had to be the executive producer so the movie would unfold the way he wanted it to-the way he thought God wanted it to- not fully realizing that it already was God’s baby, and it would indeed blossom as the Father had intended.  He admitted that he looked like a fool on the set of the movie, there in the ghetto of Uganda.  He knew nothing about the film industry, and there he was getting in the way, making sure everyone knew who he was and what his role was.  It was in that moment, he said, that God made it clear to  back off .  If Troy insisted on thinking that he owned this project, God would gladly find someone else to steward it in the way He intended.  Ouch.


I love the things that God has put on my heart; the things He has given me a passion for.  But, I have to realize that they are only my passion because God put them there.  On my own, I would have no natural ability to work through, nor the desire for example, to help women caught in the sex trade; it  just wouldn’t occur to me. But God knows my DNA, what He wired me for, so all the skills, talents and giftings were put in me for a divinely ordained purpose.  I had an aha moment, thinking about whether or not I was qualified for a particular job, when I read in Exodus 31:2 where God had blessed Bezalel with supernatural talents where it came to constructing the tabernacle–everything down to gold and silver-smithing, engraving, wood-carving…you name the skill, God gave it to this Israelite.  On his own, Bezalel could not complete this task, and neither can you and I, regardless of our desire- but God.

Recently I have taken a step back from something I love to do,to do a heart-check to make sure I’m BlessingOthersdoing it because it’s something I’m called to do.   I want to be God’s hands and feet, not because of the accolades I receive, but because it’s something I am called to do.  I want to be a good steward of the gifts the Father has given me.  The moment I think I own the gift and the calling, is the moment He will snatch it right out of my hand, and that’s not something I’m prepared for.  I would encourage the reader to also do a heart-check of the call on his or her life.  Is this something you’re doing for God or for your own notoriety?  Think long and hard on this.

Yes and amen.


Jesus Loves Strippers


Sasha can be a royal pain in the butt. Trying to follow a conversation with her is like trying to catch a fly; you just about get a word in, and she’s onto the next thought. I didn’t go looking for her but she found me, or rather, God brought us together.

In one of the monthly outreaches into the strip clubs where our team goes to love on and support the young women who work there, I met Sasha, although Sasha is not her real name.

“What are you ladies doing here?” she asked as she takes the rose I offer her. “You from a church? I can’t believe anyone from a church would want to come in and hang out with a bunch of sinners like us.”

I laughed at first. Then I told her about the woman who shows up at a party thrown by a bunch of pharisees where Jesus is a guest. I told her how the woman was just like her, someone who made her living selling her body. The woman, I continued, went right up to Jesus and washed His feet with her tears and then used her hair to anoint them with her very best perfume. (Luke 7: 36-50)

“You’re exactly the kind of person who Jesus would like to hang out with,” I told Sasha. “He’d rather spend an hour with you than five minutes with an academic full of himself.”

Sasha was taken in by the story and wanted to know more. She gave me her phone number and e-mail address so I could send her the scripture.

My fellow ministry mama-bear and I continued our evening of handing out the roses and talking to the girls and then the night was over.

The next day, with a reminder of who I was and how we had met, I sent Sasha the scripture, but didn’t think much more of it. A day later my phone rings and I saw her name come up on my screen. Yay! She wants to talk more about the scripture! Or so I thought. Instead I heard a frantic voice saying that she’s in trouble; she needs my help. She’s left an abusive boyfriend and needs a place to live. The mother in me responds without asking some much needed information, and I get her address and hop in my car to meet her.

On my way to the seedy motel where she’s staying, the dialogue in my head begins.

What the heck are you thinking?!?!? You could be heading into an ambush! It wasn’t a smart move to be going into this situation by myself. I didn’t know if she had a pimp who could be lurking around thinking I was taking away his money-maker. I fire off a few quick text messages to my team members to begin praying for me and I continue to do the same.

I pick Sasha up outside the motel and she quickly gets into my car. I can barely follow the conversation (which will continue throughout our friendship, I am to discover)

“Wait, Sasha,” I interrupt. “Before we go any further, do you have a pimp?”

“Would I be with you now if I did? Would I have my own money?” waving a wad of crumpled bills in my face.

“Ok. Fair enough.”

I drive to a restaurant where we can sit and talk in a public place.

“This may seem blunt, but I have to know who I’m dealing with. Are you on any drugs?”

Without hesitation, she responds, ” I smoke medicinal marijuana and I’m on anti-depressants for depression and PTSD. I tried to kill myself a few years ago and I have some brain injury, so the meds help.”

Wow. How’s that for honesty.

I’m relieved for her candor and our conversation continues over rotisserie chicken. I discover that for all of her troubles and mental health issues, she’s actually pretty clever. She wants to transfer her college records from one school to another closer to where she’s now living to study to become a medical assistant. She’d been enrolled in the Registered Nursing Assistant program but had to drop out for reasons I could not completely follow. She assures me that her boyfriend will not try to find her and that he is not her pimp. She wants me to find her a place to live to get her out of the motel, but her biggest concern at the moment is that her cats are with her boyfriend’s sister. Huh?

I am not a cat lover. But I am a lover of the lost and broken, so I get on my phone and start looking up potential places where she can have her cats boarded until she can find a cat friendly home. We come up empty but she is hopeful that I will be able to help her. She’s calmer now and is ready to go back to the motel room, still believing that I will be able to find her a place to live. (Oh, and by the way, she read the scripture about the prostitute and thought it was awesome.)

As I’m driving home, I’m kicking myself. God, I have no idea what I’m doing! I don’t know how to help her; I’m not a crisis worker, a real estate agent, and I don’t like cats! I can’t do this!

In case the reader hasn’t already discovered through his or her own experiences, God has a sense of humour.

Sasha has become a part of my life over the past couple of months and while I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing, I know that God does. He’s not letting me rely on anyone else but Him. Believe me, I’ve tried. In my attempts to gain some education and advice though, I’ve had the blessing of speaking to one of my mentors who shoots straight from the hip.

“You know the craziest thing about being God’s hands and feet, Monica?” John (my mentor) asks. “It means getting your hands dirty. It’s rarely convenient, and there are times when you just don’t want to do it.”

“No kidding.”

“But, it is so awesome when you see that young woman blossom and become the person God created her to be. It’s brilliant.”


The time I have spent thus far with Sasha has been brilliant. Passed out in my car on a road trip (to visit her cats, no less) has afforded me the opportunity to pray over her as she softly snored away in oblivion. She received Jesus in that same dingy motel room amidst beer bottles, half-smoked joints and cigarette butts. We held hands and prayed the sinner’s prayer and I just know that there was a party going on in heaven over one more stripper joining the family of God.

Sasha still has a long way to go, but so do I. In this process I’m learning what James 2:15 truly means.

If I see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing and I say, “Bless you! Stay warm and eat well,” but I don’t do anything tangible to help, my words are worthless.

I am falling in love with this sweet child. We’ve shared meals together, gone shopping in Walmart ( you just gotta know only God could give me the grace for that!), and she’s allowed me to pray with her. When she says, “Thank you for being my friend; you’ve made me believe in something bigger,” I see God’s fingerprint all over this unlikely friendship.

Jesus does indeed love strippers and so do I.

Yes and amen.



My Kung Fu Panda is gone and I am feeling the loss.
This animated martial artist of whom I speak is a resident in the long term care community where I work. I gave Lily (not her real name) this alias. When I would wheel her to her room after exercise class, she could only use her feet to open the door; her arms had already betrayed her in the battle against arthritis. She remained a feisty and determined power house barely exceeding four and a half feet. Given the signal from behind her wheelchair, “Hi-yah, Kung Fu Panda!” she would erupt into giggles as she kicked the door open wide.
This soft-spoken widow came to live with us six years ago. With a dignity that evades many at this stage of life, she took this season in stride and with remarkable class. The only thing she was insistent upon was that her single room must replicate her former home as much as was possible. When one has to cram over eighty years-worth of memories into one room, it’s no small undertaking. Her children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren however, rose to the occasion. Lily’s room was like stepping into your own grandmother’s house, albeit a miniature version. What some people would refer to as kitsch, her choice of décor told stories of days gone by. With needle point tapestries framed alongside family photos, knickknacks and children’s art adorning the walls, potted plants lining the window sill, one could almost hear the woodstove crackling in the corner. Her very first Christmas with us, her granddaughters took to the pine tree outside her room and decked it out with larger-than-life Christmas tree ornaments that Lily could enjoy from her window on the first floor.


This single room created a home-like atmosphere that would see staff go in to complete one simple task, but emerge sometimes half an hour later as the draw of both Lily and her home lured the visitor in, much like a warm blanket on a cold day.
The simplest of things brought joy to Lily. Being able to tend to her plants was one of them. How many times I caught her tottering towards the window sill to water or dead-head her plants are too numerous to mention. All I could do was ask her to be careful; she was doing what made her heart sing and who was I to quench that fire? While her family kept vigil around her bed during these last days, I recounted a story about a Lily-inspired escapade. My own memory fails me when I try to remember how we had found ourselves on the topic of “forget-me-nots”, but somehow it became a mission to find these dainty blue flowers and plant them outside Lily’s window for her to enjoy. But do you think I could find any in even the most reputable nursery or garden centre? Nope.
Confession is indeed good for the soul:
I. Stole. Some.
Enlisting the help of a friend, (ok, I wanted an accomplice) we ventured to a public park at dusk where there was a beautiful spread of these prolific blooms. With my friend keeping guard, I produced my little spade and dug furiously to free from the earth, a sampling destined for a new home. Satisfied with my excavation, I loaded the contraband into the back of my car and my partner-in-crime and I sped off into the night.
Arriving at work the next day with the spade and stolen forget-me-nots, I got right down to the business of transplanting. Lily had tears running down her cheeks as my confession of thievery unfolded. Sadly, it was only a matter of weeks before a careless grounds keeper weed-whacked her little blossoms, but the story remained long after the flowers’ demise.
In the health care profession, we are cautioned against getting too close to our charges, but remaining objective and professional. While I agree with this in theory in a general sense, compassion fatigue being the typical fall-out of not following the suggestion, I think Jesus had a different approach to caring for people and I tend to like His way better.
Jesus says to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep.” There’s something that happens when a family member sees staff openly cry over the loss of a resident. The life of their loved one is affirmed as being one of substance, value, and one that made an impact even in their final days. Their loved one was cared for AND about; their absence will be felt.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…” (Colossians 3:23)
Working in long term care comes with plenty of challenges and opportunities to burn out, but when I keep my eyes on Jesus and the mandate He has set for me, I am reminded that I am doing so much more than working for a company. I am working for Him, doing the job for which He ordained me. It is not by accident that I am where I am. He has a way of highlighting a resident for me that tells me that I’m on assignment. He provides the grace, the skill and the wisdom to know what, when, where and how. He only requires a willing heart.
Lily, I believe, was one of my assignments. She entrusted me with stuff that weighed heavily on her heart; things that required prayer with her and for her, all of which she readily accepted and appreciated. There is a deep satisfaction in knowing that you helped someone tie up loose ends before they made their final departure and being assured that you will be laughing about forget-me-nots when you meet again.
The Christmas tree ornaments still adorn the tree outside the room that was Lily’s final earthly home. They’re faded and not quite so spectacular as when they were first hung, but no one has the heart to take them down. So there they will remain as a reminder of a life well lived and loved.
Yes and amen.





A Breakthrough That Came Through Eating-not Fasting

All through biblical history, we read of kings and prophets that call a fast in order to move the heart of God, petitioning Him to heal lands, people and hearts.

This still occurs today; the church body pressing in for deeper revelation, greater intimacy, and breakthrough for churches and individuals.


As I observed the somewhat discreet fasting of those around me,  I questioned my own lack of passion to do the same.  I’d heard the same message from my own pastor after all, and yet I could not be moved.

It’s certainly not because I don’t have areas in my life where a breakthrough would be most welcome, quite the opposite.  The thing is this.  I have a daughter who is acquainted with an eating disorder. She denies her body of food on a regular basis, or quickly relieves it of same when she does indulge, so to seemingly join her in this journey seemed to be ironic in the least.

I am writing this with her permission, and before the reader thinks this is going to be a sad story, let me assure you that God is in the breakthrough business. This is a good story.

I have been praying for a breakthrough in this issue for my daughter for quite some time.  I don’t call it “her bulimia” because she doesn’t own it and it doesn’t own her.  I have long since learned that a blood-bought child of the King doesn’t have to beg for healing; I call forth everything God says is mine and send the enemy packing at the first sign of intrusion.  The Lord loves a prayin’ mama because thus far, my declarations have lead my daughter to professionals whom she respects and trusts-that’s a miracle itself.

This kid is very forthright and has no problem telling anyone what she needs, wants, or requires.  So, when her dietician recommended set meal times and specific foods, she had no qualms about telling me what my role would be.

“Mom.  I need to eat at the same time everyday.  We can’t have food being prepared at different times during the day and there’s food that I just can’t even look at.  Like, you can’t even bring it into the apartment.”

I smile at her bossiness and ask if there is anything else I can do to help her. I have to reassure her that I’m serious, so she continues, “Yeah, like maybe we could eat together.  And I’ll do the cooking too.  No offence, but I’m picky.  I need to cook it the way I like; you won’t be able to make anything I’ll be able to eat.”

To some, this may sound like I’m taking orders from my kid.  Truth be known, this was an answer to prayer.  I grew up in a family that ate together, all the time.  Every dinner, without exception, you sat at your designated spot at the table at five-thirty on the dot.  A little Leave it to Beaver-esque, but it was a routine that brought us together to communicate as a family, regardless of how good we were at actually doing it.  When I was married to my children’s father, I replicated this routine.  Meals were eaten in the kitchen with the television off.  No exceptions.  When their father and I divorced, I maintained this routine in my home for as long as I could.  As our seasons of life changed, so did the dining routines.  I would watch as meals were taken behind bedroom doors, eaten in front of the television, if they were even had at all.

For my daughter to embrace eating together, to request it, to need it as part of her healing is huge.  Just to allow herself to ask for what she needs without fear of being rejected has catapulted her that much closer towards wholeness.  My belief is that the whole eating disorder issue stems from faulty wiring in one’s identity, a lack of sense of family, belonging, or simply feeling unloved.

breakingbreadSo now, I sit down at the dining room table and I eat what’s put on my plate.  Veggies.  Lots of veggies. And lots of conversation.  I will admit after months of not sharing mealtimes together, it felt a bit like a first date.  What to talk about, what not to talk about; could we even talk about the whole eating issue thingie?  I needn’t have worried.  It’s been 7 days (yes, the number of completion) and she proudly announces,

“I haven’t puked!”

I know enough to not make a big deal of it–she hates melodrama, but inwardly I’m over the moon.

I think I am experiencing the fast that is spoken of in Isaiah 58:6.  Although not denying my body  food,  I have given up the quarrelling and fighting with my daughter and together we are working at “letting the oppressed go free” and “removing the chains that bind people.”

Yes and amen.




One Last Hug

This year seems to be ending with goodbyes.

First it was my childhood home(The Last Christmas in Nowhere.  )And  now it’s a good-bye to a dear friend, Reta.

I first met Reta almost twelve years ago when she was a mere seventy-six years old.  She was a resident in the nursing home where I work.  She had moved in not because she needed care, but because she refused to be separated from a husband who did.  If he was moving in, she was too.

Years later however, her beloved Cecil passed away.  Reta moved past her grief by continuing to do what came naturally to her–loving on and caring for others.  It was difficult to do anything for her; she was so independent that you almost had to beg her to let you do the simplest of tasks for her. She certainly knew how to care for others, though.  She was a constant comfort to her fellow residents; many of whom couldn’t speak English in this multicultural care community.  She would merely hold their hand, nod at the right times and smile.  This would be enough to make them feel validated and heard, and it was enough for the family members of these residents to come back to visit her, years after their loved ones had passed on.  Reta definitely made a lasting impression.

Staff often found themselves being the ones cared for rather than the other way around.  She was “Ma” to more than just her two children; she had adopted several of us as her surrogate children and grandchildren, and you were treated as such. Good days and bad days always received the same treatment–a genuine, bone-crushing hug.    She was the keeper of secrets, the non-judgemental listener, and giver of hugs.  She was proficient at dispensing this brand of medicine and everyone got the same prescription–she was no respecter of persons.hugs-poem_1


Reta was the type of person you wanted to go the extra mile for.  She was the mother of two children, but with one living far away in the states, and another with health issues that made even local travel difficult, getting out for a change of scenery was next to impossible.  The rules in Long Term Care forbid staff from taking a resident out of the facility without permission. Since Reta was her own Power of Attorney, coupled with my belief that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission (in some circumstances), an opportunity to sneak out merely required  letting her kids know through a phone call that she was “busting out” for a while.  Such subterfuge made way for  the chance to go see the movie Heaven is For Real, a movie that intrigued her after having read the book.  I still remember the three of us (her surrogate son, my co-worker, was also in on the AWOL adventure) having to crane our necks in the first row, the only place available to accommodate Reta’s wheelchair, while happily munching away on buttery popcorn.  Sneaking a peek at Reta from time to time brought a smile to my face; she hadn’t been to a theatre in probably over fifty years, not since the days of her beloved Cecil courting her. This was followed by a trip to a Thai food restaurant where she laughed as she unsuccessfully tried her hand at using chop sticks. She was returned safe and sound with a wink as her accomplices silently and discreetly disappeared.

Reta was a great woman of faith, but hadn’t been able to attend a service in an actual church for years. So, another day, and another white lie later,  she was sitting in a Christian church with the two of us again.  My co-worker is Muslim, but he too, would do anything for her, including sitting through a Christian message.

As is often the story in long term care, Reta’s health began to deteriorate, but not her sharp mind and her ability to hug.  With a sense of knowing, she implored her daughter to come visit before Christmas, which she happily obliged.  While Reta did see one more Christmas,  it was to be her last.  Two days later, she was in the hospital where she would later pass. Her son wrote:

She was there for my first breath, and I was there for her last.”  


There is something satisfying about knowing where your loved ones will spend eternity and there is no doubt in my mind where Reta is.  In a devotional in her room, she had underlined the following passage and written it out on a separate piece of paper as a bookmark,

“No one comes to the Father except through me..” (John 14:6)

This devotional found it’s way into the hand of my Muslim co-worker.  Even on the other side, she is still loving, encouraging, and hugging–and now she has help.

Rest in peace, Ma.

Yes and amen.