For Posterity Sake…

Sometimes I imagine what the future will be like: 

This current world will be one only imagination for so many who will have been resurrected, the majority of whom will not have lived in this point in time. 

How can we explain how bad it had gotten; the depravity of morals & the violence & the fear of simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Over the weekend, two people were gunned down in a grocery store parking lot in broad daylight in Calgary, someone suicide bombed a concert killing mostly young women & children, someone mowed down an 18yr old with their car after some fight & left them for dead; these are just a small few incidence that happened & made the news. No doubt the world was drenched in the blood of the innocent all around the globe in horrific incidents of human cruelty unleashed this past weekend, as it is everyday. 

The consoling words of politicians & public figures does little in offering either true healing or solutions to the present conditions. There is much online ranting about terrorism & ways of quashing it, blame is being doled out, & overall grief & helplessness fill the hearts of people as the watch helplessly. 

It is in moments like these that I must question the beliefs of others, the hopes of others, the explanation, & solutions looked to, in others. What is it they find peace in? 

The anguish in the hearts of those who’ve lost their loved ones, in the hearts of those traumatized by injury of the body & the psyche; how can I feel anything other than empathy for these people. 

The pointing of fingers, thus far, has not helped. The officials, human & limited, have been unable to supply true peace, real security, in anyway. They are helpless against the mass turbulence of humanity. 

How bad will it get before people see & know the truth? Many will never see it. I know that. Not until it is too late. There is a sadness & yet an urgency to knowing this. 

“In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short”—Matthew 24:22. 

“And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14 

So let’s Advertise, Advertise, Advertise, the King & his Kingdom. Let’s get this done. 

You Are Not Bad, Though People May Say You Are…

So, there’s this conversation that has to happen when a major player on the world scene decides your people are extremist, dangerous to the public, & bans you from so much as gathering, let alone preaching. 

It’s a conversation I grew up knowing & hearing having been born during the Cold War era. Witnesses were banned under Stalin, and never gained freedom in Russia until 1991. The persecution of people in our faith was pretty wide spread during WWII, all major countries involved in the war imprisoned the Witnesses, including ‘free’ countries such as Canada, The States, & the U.K. In Nazi Germany we were rounded up and told we could renounce our faith, and join the cause or be sent to the concentration camps. We were the only group targeted that had a get-out-of-jail-free card for simply saying we would abandon our faith & support Hitler. No doubt some must have taken the card, but most, chose imprisonment, even in many cases death instead of supporting that vile regime & renouncing Jehovah as God. We did not fight back, but did the tasks & jobs assigned within the camps, earning so much trust that our brothers were assigned as barbers even for the officers because they could be trusted with blades, and so would shave the men who held them. That speaks volumes to the peacefulness of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Nothing has changed. 

It is no secret why Russia sees Jehovah’s people as a threat. Patriotism is a powerful tool in the arsenal of all governments. Without the idea that your nation is superior to others, why would you fight for it? 

What makes an ideal of a nation great? It’s freedoms? Perhaps. Frankly, I don’t know. Do we need to fight for these freedoms? Absolutely. But what battlefield ever gave anyone freedom? Even in North America, these religious freedoms have many times been attempted to be stripped and it was courts of law where they were won. These freedoms are fragile & anyone who says different did not grow up hearing how quickly they have been lost in various places especially when war is breaking out. Serving the ‘Motherland’ regardless the land, is a dangerous way to pursue peace. Patriotism is an infectious disease which divides & alienates those who somehow did not happen to be born within your borders. 

I do not believe that an American wants something different than a Russian, or a Canadian, or a Syrian, or a Korean, or a Venezuelan, or a Congolese. No. I believe all these peoples want the same thing. The choice of how to live their lives in peace, with security & good food & warmth of family & friends. At least in the deep down of them. Many of these peoples have grown up in War & violence, hunger, lost family, many in front of their eyes, damaging them Heart & soul; but if it could have been that those things had never been, the human at the heart, everywhere craves & desires joy & love & peace. 

True evil incites the opposite of these basic human feelings of love & joy & peace. It is not easy to keep a feeling of equality in your heart. In all honesty, even hockey can inspire a nationalist attitude, when really, each team is comprised of peoples from several nations & it doesn’t matter what country or city wins really, it should just be fun, and a great way to cheer & have highs, & sometimes humbly get your butt whooped 7-0. But there is for many, this inkling of patriotism in it, no doubt since it opens with the anthems of each country represented. It’s insidious. It’s a thin snaking line of patriotism that can infiltrate & then latch itself to a blood supply of our feeling & thinking & grow if we do not check it, quick & rough. 

So, there is this conversation that must be had, where you finally tell your kids that somewhere, just across the upper side of the globe, you’ve been labeled as an extremist organization & it is against the law to meet, to read the Bible together, to sing together. That we have been lumped in with those who would strap bombs to their chests & walk into a group of men, women & children and blow them all into pieces—yes, we, who would go to jail instead of kill our enemies, according to this court, are a ‘harm to the public’ & outlaws. 

Freedom is fragile, make no mistake. So use it while you can, enjoy it, fight peaceably for it. Just never take your personal freedoms for granted because it can slip away with the drop of a gavel.  

Don’t Give Up! Convention

We are so excited already for this summer’s convention. 

Ours is at Roger’s Place July 21-23. Almost all of Canada has their convention that weekend and we will be tied in for parts to the special convention in Toronto. Do you know the odds of getting that many venues on the same weekend, all unbooked, coincidentally? Slim to none. That was Jehovah’s doing. My older brother & his wife will be here from their assignment in Tanzania & my two oldest daughters are hoping to be baptized at the convention too. 

For so many of us this is a retreat from the angst & harsh of the world. I avoid the news most days because I simply can’t handle the way it affects me. I find I sleep better not knowing too much. Inevitably some amount of information filters through to me, but it is more manageable if I’m not watching it unfold on tv. I no longer need to know how bad it’s getting. I know Jehovah will step in and fix things when the time is right and everything else, frankly, I feel must be set down.  I can’t carry it all. I will always wonder how people in the world at large survive mentally & emotionally, what hope they have about it all—violence, environment, political—I do not know how they cope. I suppose they numb themselves as much as possible. But what answer does that give to the issues that plague us all? And the agony then of having no answer, no hope? Just a future that leads to some futile death? 

If nothing else, this love for God & the blessings he promises, coupled up with love of others compels me to hope all who are saddened & seeking hope & answers hear what we knock at their doors to say. I get that people are annoyed by us. I hate getting off my couch to answer the door, or the phone, for people I’m not expecting. But when you see someone suddenly ‘hear’ the truth for the future of the earth & humanity, it’s worth the scolding some throw at us. The clean unmuddled simplicity of the Bible truths clearly laid out & explained, filtered free of the man made power hungry doctrine so many were taught as children, is amazing to share. 

I sometimes forget how bewildering church doctrine can be, not having been raised in it. Easter just passed I was reminded how this bunny holiday is just a crazy spin on fertility & hey, for really dizzying effects they loop it up with Jesus death & ressurection. The really religious celebrate it in such bizarre non biblical ways, adding fuel to the fires of contempt for the Bible burning in the hearts of atheists the world over. Excellent. 

The simplicity of remembering why Jesus died & how that effects us now has been long forgotten by the pious. What price did he pay? The inherent sin Adam passed to all his offspring. If that price is paid, the whole of humanity has a new door opened to them, one they would have had if Adam had never sinned. If Adam had not passed sin and death to us all, death, would not exist. God’s original purpose—a peaceful perfect earth filled with loving subjects who do not die, as angels do not die, would exist now.

It’s such a simple theme of the Bible, this restoration of God’s will to be on earth as it is in heaven—Of a future that is free of sin & death for all. For a ressurection as Jesus showed was possible for those who’ve died so they may have the choice to serve & love Jehovah. That purity and easiness of truth unadulterated with pagan teaching & ritual is so refreshing and so hope inspiring. 

This summer’s convention “Don’t Give Up!” we all need it. It’s not easy being different & hearing things said about your faith that is simply not true, there are so many pressures & frankly, it’s hard work to keep your spirituality & heart free of contamination & it would just be easier to stay home, rather than go out in the dark, in the cold, to meetings or in service. It’s so hard to keep fighting when it feels you’re being water-boarded with lies & indifference. Satan knows how to erode us each individually. To not give up & keep building faith, we each know the work & inner strength it takes to keep going & keep learning to rely on Jehovah in a world that just doesn’t see it that way. 

A sister said an interesting thing not long ago that I keep thinking about: she said, we know it’s the truth because we may be tired, we may be discouraged, but, then, we get ourselves here to the hall, and it takes a few minutes sometimes, but the tired washes off us, we feel happy. We sit there, perhaps comment, we listen, we hear the thoughts of our brothers & sisters & we just feel happy again. Why? Why when we were so tired are we happy? Because Jehovah made us this way—to take in spiritual food & to think on it, speak about it. We have this spiritual component to us. We are made to be here, with Jehovah & his people. So when we comply to this need, it’s like drinking when you’re thirsty; eating when you’re hungry; sleeping when you’re tired; we are designed to thrive off spiritual truth. We can feel it nourish our souls. 

How right she is. How wonderfully we are made to not only love Jehovah’s truth but recognize it in a world filled to the brim with untruths. 

 News Stories Links

Short news clip from Time with video 

BBC article

Newsweek

VOA News

Counter Lawsuit Thrown Out

The last one, I have to take a deep breath— it is political repression. We all know it and we’ve all felt it. Everyday, we feel the pressure to worship our various countries & flags. What makes us united is our refusal to do so, our refusal to take up arms against those of other nationalities…  I am thankful to be in the region of the world I’m in but, all the warring of this world, that divisiveness, so much of it is politically inspired, often the most powerful church of the region, blessing and backing the political regime dujour. 

To say what is happening in Russia is not political repression is a full out lie. Thankfully, I believe is mankinds justice as much as their politics—not at all. 

Sadly, this makes a Supreme Court decision against us easier. 

We are not our countries, we are our hearts & hopes & today more than usual. 

Broken

So Spring Break was a little more broken than a break this year. 

Originally, my idea was to get out tons in the memorial invitation campaign, and then, Firecracker got scheduled for her surgery. 

Three years ago in a fitness class she had her kneecap dislocate. Since then it’s been a series of braces, physio, and several minor dislocations until, the worst one of all in in early January in which we had to call an ambulance. After consulting yet again with the Orthopedic Specialist the decision was made to just go ahead and try to resolve the issue permanently. Firecracker has the genetic perfect storm for issues with both knees it turns out, so the injury three years ago wasn’t expected to resolve without help, and it’s probably a matter of time before the other knee has the exact same issue. 

So the past couple months we’ve just hoped she wouldn’t dislocate it again and then they did the surgery. So they tack the ligament into the bone to (hopefully) prevent the kneecap from slipping out as easily. I’m not sure if they did the repair as well where they use a graft of your hamstring, but a week in, this is what her leg looks like. 

Before all this we’d had tickets for The Lumineers & Kaleo concert, and so thankfully she got to borrow a wheelchair from the venue & they put her and her friend in accessible seating which turned out to be better seats than she’d originally purchase. Despite the wheelchair, she was super swollen Saturday. Maybe she over did it. 

Any ways, last night she did manage her first steps without brace or crutches, so it does seem to be healing nicely. Her main worry besides missing work, was being able to look nice for the Special Convention in July. Originally we thought the surgery would be another couple months down the road, but it got scheduled so much earlier that I’m sure all there will be is a scar, but that bruising will be long gone. 

As for seeing the new arena & convention site for this year & the concert—first off, the concert was great, and I’m certainly a bigger fan of The Lumineers now. The venue is so much larger than the previous arena, and I am so looking forward to having our regional convention there! I think this will be the largest convention I’ve been to since the international at Montreal ’85. I can’t recall exactly how big the ones I attended in Ontario were when I was a kid tho. But the tie-ins across Canada are going to be so amazing to experience too. I think the whole of our brothers & sisters countrywide are really excited. If you include the attendance to all the conventions tied-in, of course it will be the largest attendance we’ve all ever been to. So exciting. 

Even before this special convention was announced both the older girls had set the summer as their goal for baptism. Kawaii is in the ministry Tuesdays & Thursdays every week & poor Firecracker who had intended to be focusing on finishing up school at home and the ministry this semester, has been off that leg so much so far this year, she hasn’t been able to do much service. Certainly not as much as she had planned. But, give it a few more weeks and she’ll be at it again. I can’t see why they wouldn’t qualify for baptism and, frankly, I’m so thankful they are older and coming to this decision. It’s been a long road through many difficulties to get them to the point where they are and I never wanted them to feel pushed or pressured into being a Witness just because I am. 

One of my most favourite things of late, was getting to see what they wrote in their Russian campaign letters. We all wrote separately, in our own spaces. We reviewed the information, the video, discussed it days before, and I encouraged the kids to pray about what they should write everyday, until we sat down to write our letters. When I read each of the older kids letters my heart nearly broke with love for their words. All three of the older kids had such amazing things to say. I loved that I got to read from their own thoughts & hearts their hopes for the freedoms of their spiritual family in Russia. It was really beautiful and honestly, surprising. I couldn’t help but get teary-eyed. I can only imagine how Jehovah must feel at knowing what each of his servants feels regarding this matter. Logically, we all know it’s unlikely our letter will be picked out and read, because seriously, that’s a lot of letters, but, Jehovah uses the ‘unlettered & ordinary’ (see what I did there, Acts 4:13) to teach and reach hearts. The warm principled love is just a joy to express on behalf of those we’ve not even met. It was a unique way to serve in the ministry from young to old, and an honour. 

Also topping the out of the ordinary on the spring break list, thankfully the kids were on spring break since someone was murdered at the schoolyard a week ago. Honestly, I’ve  become a little too calloused. I wasn’t even surprised. It’s only the second murder that I’ve known of in the nine years we’ve been in this neighbourhood, and I suppose some people live in neighbourhoods where there’s never been a murder, but, things continue to decline worldwide. I no longer feel shocked by so many things that even just a handful of years ago would have shook me. This, a murder by the school on a Saturday night, nope, didn’t seem to rattle me. 

We are all tainted by the needed numbing to survive. Once upon a time, I would have cried at this news even tho I didn’t know the young man. Today, I saw the flowers where he’d been shot down, and simply looked away and hoped that if there had been blood, the melting snow and wet rain has washed it from the grass so the kids won’t see. What a terrible world. How thankful I am for the hope of Jehovah restoring the earth to paradise conditions and this old disgusting way being expunged from my mind. It can be overwhelming if you let it in too deeply. It’s a fine balance to remain sensitive but not too sensitive. What a terrible and necessary thing, to intentionally stop-up the emotions just so as to not be torn apart by them. 

ESVM

And her poetry, like rain Can soothe while she screams in pain

And every echo has a ring

Every truth, a hallowed sting.

Singing the dust-songs of Death

She grasped to Life

Till her last poetic breath

And when her lips could sing no more

The Grave sealed shut its broken door

Knowing not it’s lock was stuck

The Grave licked its lips

Thinking, “ah this stroke of luck”

To catch her as she whispered sweet

A lovely morsel, a delicate treat

Captive now, within his clutch—But Death always did boast too much

When all had settled—

The dust, the pitch,

God undid the broken hitch

Out she came

Soft, fair, and light

The songs she held,

Warm & bright

The light, touching that thin hem

Of breast-bone & breath

This rarity of she, God’s precious gem

Released from this unruly Death

Faith: An Aspect of the Fruitage

These days, many things weigh upon me, in strange middle-aged ways. The weight not always is unwelcome, but has to it a growing depth, a deep rooting nature. 

I was reminded recently of Joy. Once, many years ago, when meditating on the ‘fruitage of the holy spirit’ I realized I had some holes. 

“On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. ” Galatians 5:22,23

This was many years ago. I had been reading this list of facets to the personality that are enhanced by the holy spirit God provides, and realized, I did not nor had ever felt what I would call, Joy. 

I had gone through a lot as a younger person. I was not mournful or melancholy, in fact, most would describe me as happy, but Joy, to me, was different. Joy was multi-layered and complex, as the other aspects of the fruitage are. On the first unmeditated glance Joy could appear simple, somewhat unimportant. But, then I recalled, Jehovah is described as a happy God in many places in the Bible. 

People take many things for granted, I was no exception. I’d read that scripture thousands of times and felt, yes, I display the fruitage of the spirit most of the time. 

What I realized, is the fruitage of the spirit is not, ‘a display.’ No. it lives within your soul, and tho there were other aspects I needed to ask for help with and work on, I ‘felt’ most of them by nature, but Joy, Joy had been a feigned & elusive aspect. It was not a part of who I felt I was. Regardless how others would describe me, I knew, I was not truly ever feeling what I would call Joy. 

I began to focus on this in my prayers. Asking for ways to find Joy. As a mother to three at the time, I felt ragged and exhausted all the time. I could hardly handle meetings & service and when I did go, I could smile but I was not feeling it inside. Prayer began to change this. Learning from the Psalmest so many years ago, I studied creation. I saw how kittens played. I saw snowflakes. I saw the way the sky breaks wide at dawn. I felt how mountain air itself was such a gift & source of Joy. I even wrote and illustrated a book for my children about where and how to find Joy thinking, this is something I must instil in them. I want my children to know and truly feel the Joy that Jehovah wants them to. They must be taught. I kept praying. 

In time I stopped considering myself unjoyful. Entirely. 

Recently, I was trying to teach one of my children about the power of prayer, which is only teachable via recounting your own experience with answered prayers and urging someone to try and see for themselves. I assured her that God does hear, as he says, everyone who asks for something in according to his will (1 John 5:14, 15) and in particular, if you ask for holy spirit, which obviously is evident via this fruit age and it’s attributes, it will be given to us. (Luke 11:9, 13) I asked her if she would describe me as a joyful person, after all, she lived with me, saw me good days and bad, she would know. She said, of course I was. I told her about the self I was when she was younger, and I told her, I am a joyful woman now, because of an answered petition placed over and over again before God. 

After telling her this story I realized, that tho this Joy at times has waned, it has always remained strong enough to pull me back out of the mud pit life seems to become at times. I always love, and truly enjoy, meetings and the ministry. I am happiest when I’m getting there. It gives me strength and a consistent joy despite the challenges I face in raising a family. This joy, resurges, day after day and pushes back the minions of stress and despair. 

Now to get to the title. 

Once upon a time I would have said I had Faith; Faith like a rock, so heavy and thick and sure, it could crush any other thing brought against me. My Faith when I was young helped me and carried me, when Joy and Love and Hope were weak, Faith had been my rock. Jehovah and I had built a solid foundation of Faith in my heart. 

But, like my energy, my Faith over time has faded. It’s fallen into what I could say is, a state of disrepair—my foundation was cracked and the rain is always heavy. It weeps and shifts. It is weak. 

As with Joy, this may be only known and visible to me, well, me and my Maker. I began to meditate on this, analyze where these cracks were, and pray. I’ve been praying about my weak Faith for some weeks. I’ve been praying, but feeling, I’ve not really gotten much of ‘a hearing ear’ yet on the issue. Then, this past week’s Watchtower, “Strengthen Your Faith in What You Hope For.” Are you kidding me? And the Watchtower for this week, “Exercise Your Faith in Jehovah’s Promises.” Well, these articles and scriptural references are ridiculously deep and on point. 

These articles are the repair crew showing up to do the work. They will teach me and encourage me, with Jehovah’s help, to strengthen this vital aspect of the fruitage of his spirit. I asked, incessantly. It weighed upon me in a way I couldn’t carry, the knowledge that I lacked Faith in so many areas. I wanted to fix it but found I was lacking in skill. I was truly struggling to know what to do, despite meetings and study. It was silly, but I began to wonder if this time, Jehovah would answer me. Perhaps, I thought, my faults had caught up with me in an irrepairable way. Perhaps I truly was unworthy of this gift. I felt like I was mimicking the actions, but they were baseless, as I had with Joy all those years ago. I too, prayed about this, apologizing, that I was a fake. 

Then, these articles. 

What can I say? Jehovah knows me. He does not vaguely see who I am, but, knows me, as even I do not know myself. He knows me deep into my psyche and knows just when to answer me; how to reach my heart; how to heal me. He sees all I am, and answers me just as I need to be answered, so that I, hear Him. What a wise God. 

So, I have yet to do all the additional reading associated with these articles, but they are on my personal study list, and the scriptures in these articles are in my heart. Slowly, Jehovah is training me on how to build, surely rebuild, my faulty faith into the sure Faith that his holy spirit provides us each with, if we are willing to work along side Him, listening and joyously eager to move forward, toward, the next step we must take in this journey of life with Jehovah. I have a Father who hears me and talks with me, closely, quietly, but with such strength and compassion. I am so thankful for that. 

How I wish others would know, they have a Father just waiting for them to seek Him out and discover Him. He is drawing each right hearted person at the right time, if only they would come learn from Him when they are drawn. I do not know what other comfort there is in the world, then in the safety of this hope Jehovah provides. How do they all survive? 

Soul & Hand

Political neutrality is its own fierce battle in these divisive & polarizing times. Loving equally, regardless these opinions, is a war.

Conscientious objection, is not a cowardly act, but one that supersedes the atrocities that are hitched to the great horrors of humanity.

To stand before the firing line, rather than to be a part of it—never mistake that choice for cowardice. 

It takes courage & faith.

Am I not fearful? Fear has been my entire being. But I turn, soul & hand, to God—there is a war, that only he can fight & win.