End of an Era – The Other Victims of “Covid”

End of an Era – The Other Victims of “Covid”

Well, my beloved “Breakfast Club” is no more.

I’m heartbroken.

Our Breakfast Club was the last of its kind in the province (Ontario), the last “sit down” model in existence.

When School Breakfast Programs began popping up in the 90s, the sit-down model WAS the model. In Ontario, SBPs started as a real grassroots movement. A few individuals saw the need, gathered support, raised the funds and organized volunteers. Each “club” operated independently from each other. Some were able to offer the program five days a week; others, limited by finances or lack of volunteers, only ran twice a week or whatever they could manage.

Our club was fortunate enough to have tremendous community support behind it. In the beginning it was primarily church groups who volunteered and made donations, but later came to include local business support as well.

It was my mom who worked tirelessly to secure funding and attract volunteers to keep our program running. She has a real knack for bringing out the best in people, and our club got to be kinda “famous” and struggling clubs would reach out to mom for help. Securing funds and volunteers was a perennial problem for most clubs and everybody wanted to know her “secret”. She was invited to speak to community groups across the region to tell her story, how this legally-blind senior citizen mobilized a community to care. Successful breakfast clubs began popping up everywhere.

Eventually, somebody smart said, Hey, instead of running all these independent clubs, why don’t we pool our resources and spread them around so that struggling clubs can benefit from successful ones? Makes sense, right?

That was how Nutrition for Learning was born. The original purpose of the NFL was to secure start-up funding for new breakfast programs (for equipment purchases, like a fridge, toasters, kitchen tools, etc. – whatever you would need to put together breakfast for 45 or so kids each day) as well as coordinate cash and food donations for the individual programs. They ensured that all volunteers were properly screened, and arranged for free food-safety training for volunteer food-handlers.

Those were good days, when NFL acted as an umbrella group for independent breakfast clubs. Unfortunately, it eventually morphed into something else and began imposing oversight on independent clubs, dictating how much could be spent per meal, what foods were acceptable and which ones could not be served. You know, typical bureaucracy. Over the last 5 years or so, every former “sit-down” club moved to the “bin” model, which is much, much different.

Under the sit-down model, the children entered the school 45 minutes before classes and assembled in the gym for their breakfast. They choose from the variety of hot and cold foods offered (it’s different each day) and then proceed to the tables to eat with their friends. When they are finished eating, they move to the back of the gym where my mom had a craft and games table to keep the kids occupied until dismissal time. The children then leave, happy and fed, ready to start learning.

Under the “bin” model, children in need of a meal must enter class with the other children, then tell the teacher they need something to eat. They are then sent down to the office where they are allowed to choose some breakfast from the “bins” – a piece of fruit, a cheese string, a baggie of dry cereal or perhaps a muffin if they are available. They hurriedly eat their meal in the hall and then return to class.

I hate this model. It is so wrong. The one thing mom was adamant about was NOT SHAMING the children for their need. Everyone was welcome, regardless of their circumstances. The bin model, on the other hand, calls out their neediness, puts it on display for all to see and judge. They’re children, for goodness sake! They didn’t create their neediness and they certainly don’t need our judgement.

Mom vowed that our club would never use that model, even if she had to fund every penny herself. Alas, even that option has been taken from us.

Breakfast Club is no longer. The school board, at the provincial government’s behest, has shut it down. Too risky, you see, and there may actually be some truth to that – a good portion of our volunteers are retired seniors, the segment of the population most at risk. But you know, it would have been nice if somebody asked, because I’m pretty sure that we could still run it even if every senior quit.

Social distancing would be a real problem – it’s a VERY small kitchen, and I guess working with food, even with masks and gloves, poses its own risks.

So I get it – I don’t think we could make it work logistically – but I ain’t happy about it.

In truth, I’m really stinkin’ sad to see it end and close this chapter of my life.

But so, so glad I got to be a part of it while it lasted. It was worthy work, and I cherish every moment I got to spend being God’s Hands in the world, dispensing His grace.

Best. Job. Ever.

We Make Music

We Make Music

This is what we’ve been up to this summer.

Summertime is normally “festival season”, when we load up our gear and go gigging, but since there are no live music venues at the moment, we’ve had to find a replacement activity to keep us occupied.

Here’s another song for ya. Hubby wrote the song and performs all the guitars. He is performing with our friend Steve McElrea, who does the vocals. I had no involvement in this one whatsoever, lol.

So here is the finished song and accompanying video. I will let you figure out which one is Steve and which is my hubby 😁

Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do

Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do

So, about a year and a half ago, I got sick and tired of the Land of Hostility that we more commonly refer to as “Facebook”. It finally clicked in for me, “Hey, maybe this is what they WANT, to keep us polarized as enemies.”

When I did a little digging (I found some former FB coders who were willing to go on record), they confirmed that yeah, FB is engineered to keep you there, and keep you agitated. Controversy and nastiness are rewarded and reinforced.

Let me cut to the chase – Facebook is designed and operated as a form of social conditioning.

At that point I wisely opted out.

Not totally out. I kept my account, mostly because I have a ton of pictures there that I am too lazy to move to storage, and just turned off all FB notifications to my devices.

Something interesting to note is that my phone does not allow me to delete the FB app off the device. I’m sure that must be just a weird coincidence.

So anyways, with the best I could do being shut off the notifications, I quickly discovered that without Facebook constantly reminding me to check my newsfeed, I never actually went there.

Never thought about it.

Never missed it.

Never looked back.

Until last week when I had something cool that I wanted to share and promote. It was on behalf of some friends.

And so of course I automatically scrolled through my newsfeed while I was there – it’s crazy how the conditioning kicks right back in! – and reposted a little meme I liked.

And then all hell broke loose.

I’m not gonna go into the specifics, it was just something that I thought was non-contro ersial, but turns out is actually heinously racist, and people lost their minds.

I briefly allowed myself to get dragged into it and then thought, “What are you doing? Why are you engaging with this nonsense??” I bowed out.

The after effects of the incident have been disconcerting for me. I have been agitated and out of sorts ever since. I wanna be left alone, I wanna pick a fight. Above all, I have this powerful sense of self-righteous indignation, this need to justify my beliefs and vindicate myself before others.

I think that’s a natural inclination, to protest when one has been unfairly characterized. I get it. But I don’t like it. I don’t like what it does to my thoughts, what it does to my emotions, what it is capable of doing to my physiology, making me feel shaky and a little nauseous.

I want to lash out at these people, tell them they’re wrong, tell them they’re awful, tell them they are hurting people.

I penned a post yesterday to get the poison out. Though my attackers will likely never see it, I said every self-justifying thing I wanted to say, just got it all out. Published it. And then got on my knees and repented of it.

Because I KNOW what self-righteousness is, I know what self-justifying means.

I have been Christ-justified.

I no longer rely on my own justification. My hope is found in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

HIS righteousness. A good and perfect righteousness like no other. Why on earth would I want to fall back to my own puny works and justifications?

It’s funny, that there on my knees I suddenly felt ashamed of that post, no longer seeing it as a declaration of justification, but more like a confession of sin.

I guess in a funny kind of way it is. It is all true, it is what I believe about myself in the deep part of my heart. That I am good enough all on my own. Oh sure, I might give God some credit for giving me his precepts, even for creating me as I am, but there’s a part of me that believes I deserve some of the credit. That is the truth. Lord, forgive me.

The antidote to those who would slander and malign me is not found in false righteousness; the return to peace that I so desperately seek is found only in forgiveness.

Lord, forgive those who have hurt and tarnished me. They probably don’t even realize they are sinning against me. Have mercy on them, Lord. Please don’t hold them accountable for what they don’t even know, okay? If not for my sake, then for your Son’s. And please Lord, may I have an extra measure of grace? I have a feeling I’m going to need a lot of it in the days to come.

Update: Shortly after publishing this, I settled down with my Kindle to pick up where I left off in Has American Christianity Failed? A page or so into my reading I came upon this, which says it so much better than I did. Enjoy!

Quote from “Has American Christianity Failed?” by C. Bryan Wolfmueller –

“Because we are forgiven by Jesus, we are set free from the need to self-justify. There is no need to justify our existence or our actions, to ourselves, to God, or to our neighbor. You are already justified. The righteous One, the Son of God who sits at the right hand of the Father, declares you righteous through the spoils of His victorious death and resurrection. This means you have nothing to prove. Think of that! God loves you, and this gives you the freedom and courage to risk a good work, to suffer and die for the neighbors God has given you.”

Start reading this book for free: https://a.co/3biShBL

The Lies You Tell Yourself

The Lies You Tell Yourself

Eenie meenie minie moe, catch a tiger by the toe…

You know the rest, I’m sure.

And if you’re my age – you know, not exactly old, but gettin’ there – you might remember an older, less-kind version of the rhyme. The one with the n-word.

I picked up the rhyme from my kindergarten school friends and took it back home with me to my little brother who was not yet in school.

My mom was not pleased.

That was my very first encounter with the concept of “racism”, or as we called it at the time, prejudice.

Mum has the gentlest of souls, the kind that is mortified to know that something she said or did hurt another. She did her best to inculcate that value in me as well.

I can remember her taking me aside as a child and correcting me for bragging to a friend about how my daddy was the boss of his own company and that we were moving into a big new house that my daddy had built. This was all true enough, but mum was gently insistent that it was not nice to brag to others about all one has.

“Not everybody’s daddy is the boss, honey. Not everybody has what we have. It is not nice to make people feel like they are “less” than we are by showing off.

The eenie-meenie-minie-moe incident followed shortly after this, and mum took a similar approach.

“That’s not a nice word, dolly. It is a very mean word for Negro people and it hurts their feelings very much. You can say “tiger” instead of the not-nice word, okay?”

I took my mom’s word for it, but I was like, five, so naturally I wanted to know why.

Mum crouched down to my level on the sidewalk in front of our house and looked me with sadness in her eyes.

“Little lamb, some people think that if you have black skin on the outside it means you have something wrong with you on the inside. But that’s not true, okay? Black or white, fat or skinny, young or old, it doesn’t matter. All people are the same inside, all people have feelings that can be hurt.”

“That word is a mean way of saying ‘black people are bad’ and that is not true so I don’t want you saying it.”

Yeah, my mum was that great.

These early lessons are clearly significant to me and played a part in shaping me. Mum managed to distill the concepts of racism and privilege into little, manageable, five-year-old-sized bites that I was able to digest and understand. She dumbed it down, but she got to the heart of it.

I’ve been thinking about privilege for literally most of my life. Always been conscious of it, to a certain extent. In our modest, mostly white, middle-class neighbourhood, we simply had more than most. I don’t want to go into specifics, they don’t matter, and it would be bragging, but it would have been hard not to miss that we had more than most in our neighbourhood.

I got teased a bit, mostly good-naturedly, for being “so rich”. I don’t remember being bothered by it, but I do remember kinda downplaying it. I’ve never ever been entirely comfortable discussing wealth and money matters, not even in the eighties, when it became really fashionable to flaunt ones wealth.

Oh yes, I am aware that I had all the advantages.

I was raised in a loving, stable two-parent home – a huge advantage in and of itself – and while we may not have been as wealthy as my friends seemed to believe, there was certainly no shortage of resources in our home. My dad came to Canada from Germany after the war with nothing, so everything we had, my folks had worked hard for. That’s an ethic they passed on to me.

I always knew that I had an intellectual advantage over most people as well. Both my parents are intelligent, highly thoughtful people, and I inherited that from them. I breezed through school, with very little effort – the “A” student who won all the awards each year. Honestly, it became embarrassing, mostly because it just wasn’t that hard for me. It was a bit uncomfortable being recognized for something that took very little effort on my part. If native intelligence is not a privilege, it is certainly a powerful advantage.

Is being physically attractive a privilege? Strictly speaking, no – it’s pretty much the luck of the draw. But it is an advantage in life. People are attracted to attractive people. Attractive people make more money than unattractive people do. It’s not at all fair, but it is true. Being attractive is a little grease to the wheels – it eases your way into wherever it is you want to get, even if you’re not deliberately leveraging it.

I am keenly aware that I have had a very privileged life – a mere accident of birth, not something I earned or worked for. I was born this way. I can no more help the fact that I was born with privilege, than those who were born without can help how they came into the world. I completely get that we don’t all start out at the same place in the world.

I am not ashamed of my privilege. Why on earth should I be? I didn’t ask for any of this any more than a disadvantaged person asked to be disadvantaged. I didn’t choose this, it was an inheritance bestowed upon me.

My parents made this very clear to me growing up – to whom much is given, much is expected.

God gave me a good brain and I will not squander what he gave me, I will use it, and not just to enrich myself, but to benefit others.

I will work hard, because I am capable of it. If I have gifts that others lack, it is my responsibility to share those gifts for the benefit of all. I am, for example, a fairly well-spoken person and I can raise my voice to advocate for the voiceless.

With great privilege comes great responsibility. I can choose to squander it foolishly or I can use it for the benefit of all. People who know me well know which choice I have made. I’m chuckling here, but I’ve definitely gone far beyond anything my parents envisioned!

I have opened my home to the homeless, something I know my parents thought was foolishly dangerous. Black, white, red, yellow, they’ve all come through my home, welcomed as guests, treated with dignity, lavished with everything we had to share. People we met as strangers, left as friends. I have never regretted taking that “risk”.

When our kids were in their teens, we began taking in “strays”, kids with troubled home lives that needed a safe place to stay. We became “unofficial” foster parents, taking on all financial and emotional responsibility for them. We could have gone to the government for money, but it didn’t seem right to me. We could afford to do it without government intervention, so we simply did. Everybody thought we were stupid to not take government assistance – it’s free money! – but that’s not how we roll. Somebody else surely needed that money more than we did and it just didn’t seem right to take it.

Volunteering has played a big part in my life. I’ve lost track of all the organizations I’ve volunteered for over the years. I’ve always had a heart for the poor and the issues surrounding poverty, especially “food insecurity”. I think I’ve talked before about starting a community food bank for my neighbourhood. I haven’t been directly involved in it for years, but the program is still in place and has even expanded to reach the wider community outside of our little neighbourhood. Although it saddens me that there continues to be a need for it, I am extremely proud of having been instrumental in getting that program off the ground and available to those in need.

And of course there is my beloved Breakfast Club, a school breakfast program that I’ve been volunteering at for over two decades. My mom – who is now in her eighties and has been legally blind since her teens – has been running the program since its inception; raising funds, attracting volunteers and keeping the whole thing running year after year. Over the years all my kids have joined in, making it a real family affair.

I tell you these things not to brag about how “great” I am, but rather to indicate where my values and priorities lie and how I attempt to live them out.

I have to really question if any of this has anything to do with my “whiteness”. I completely acknowledge that I have been spared from individual and institutional discrimination based on my skin colour, but on the other hand, I’ve never attempted to leverage my skin colour to my advantage. It’s just a non-issue for me. And if I have ever received preferential treatment because if it, I certainly did not ask for, or expect it because of my “privilege”. I think it’s perfectly fair to say that there must have been some instances in my life where I unknowingly got preferential treatment over a non-white person. Perhaps I have been up for a job against a black person and the person who hired me did so because they preferred a white person. Let me be perfectly clear: I would not take a job under those circumstances were I aware of them. I abhor that kind of behaviour – why would I want to work for somebody like that?

Conversely, over the course of my life I have been in a position to hire and employ others. I used to drive my colleagues crazy because I was a softie, hiring people who maybe weren’t quite qualified for the job but just needed somebody to give them a chance. I hired people who hadn’t finished school, people who could barely speak English, people with physical and mental handicaps. They didn’t all work out, but at least they had the chance to demonstrate their ability. Somebody has to give them a chance.

This has been my life. I literally ask myself each day, How may I best serve my neighbour (that is, fellow man) today? I take no personal credit for this approach – it is a Christian ethic that is deeply embedded within me and that I attempt to live out faithfully by the power of the Spirit. Black, white, there is no distinction, God calls me to be a servant to all, acting as his merciful Hand in this broken wor

Above all else this is the privilege I cherish the most. To be His humble servant, blessing others out of the abundance of riches he has entrusted to me.

It’s important to me, it’s something I attempt to live out, and I have literally structured my life to best support that aim.

Now I am being told that in order to make up for historic inequalities, I must give up my privilege, repent of it and turn from my wicked ways.


I have spent my whole life giving away my privilege, no strings attached, asking nothing in return. I don’t care what colour the beneficiary is. We are all part of God’s creation; all in this together.

Each and every life matters to me and I will not apologize for holding that sentiment.

The solution to the problem of “privilege” (if indeed it is a problem) is not to remove privilege but to share it.

I have believed that my entire life, and it has shaped how I operate in the world. I’m not about to change that now.

I am only one person, doing what one person can. But can you imagine if everyone took that approach?

If you care about the oppressed and disadvantaged, it’s not enough to merely sign a petition or attend a protest. Seriously? You think that makes you virtuous? No, it makes you lazy. How ’bout you get off your duff and actually go do something? I’ve been doing it since childhood, so what’s your excuse?

A few years ago, my husband and I had a change in fortune and lost our house. We had to move in with one of our children and share expenses so that we can get by. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. By splitting expenses I was able to quit my job so that I could devote myself to full-time volunteer work. That too is a privilege; one that has nothing to do with my skin colour and everything to do with my character. I volunteer mainly in my neighbourhood, which is diverse – there is no one majority group, it’s pretty much equally distributed between white, black, Asian and Middle Eastern peoples. We live as one community – there are no distinctions. The one thing we all share in common is poverty or near-poverty. Everyone here is one crisis away from disaster. We are all kinda living on the edge and that has brought about a fierce sense of togetherness. We are all in this together.

I am on the ground, living it every day, so no, I will not be silent when pampered little whites in their exclusively white communities tell me my privilege is the problem. That is not at all reflective of my reality. I don’t attempt to pass this off to the government to fix (as if they could), I just get out there and fix what is in my power to fix. Help where I am able to help. Give where I am able to give. It’s called personal responsibility, a concept that is utterly foreign to a generation that expects the government to fix everything for them, exactly to their liking.

For those SJWs who want me to think more like them, I have this advice: Get your own life in order before you start criticizing the world. Unless you can say you do as much, or more, than I am doing, you are a hypocrite and in no position to point fingers.

So here is my challenge to you. If you really care as much as you say you do, I would love to have some allies in my mission of mercy. Prove you care. Send me your info and join me.

For once in your life, put your money where your mouth is and do something productive, something that actually relieves suffering in the world, even if it’s just one individual at a time. Stop being so bloody arrogant to think that you and your ideas are gonna change the world. Stop fighting your fight on Facebook, get off your privileged white ass, and go find out for yourself what problems are within your power to fix.

Then, and only then, are you qualified to take on the universe, okay?

A song for a time such a this…

A song for a time such a this…

While the rest of the world has been fighting over masks and fake racism, we’ve actually been doing something positive for the world.

Hubby and a group of our friends (who also happen to be talented musicians) put this together for a “Summer Song” contest. We wanted to do something positive, something hopeful to take our minds off the constant “gloom and doom” we’ve been living under. I think we nailed it 😁

I would be really humbled if you would take the time to listen…it’s actually pretty catchy 😊

Church of Greed

Church of Greed

This is a little off the beaten path for me, not what I usually write about and certainly more inflammatory than I usually am, but it is something that is near and dear to my heart that I have been trying to raise awareness of amongst fellow Christians. It’s a bit of a hidden need that is coming our way that I believe all Christians should be aware of and prepared for, so indulge me if you will!

Is anybody else watching Leah Remini’s Scientology and the Aftermath? I can’t get enough of it!

I’ve had an interest in Scientology going back for decades now. I don’t know what it is about it that fascinates me but I’ve been following those guys for forever.

I’ve always known they are a cult, but only because my mom told me they were. We were riding the bus, I was maybe 10 or 11 at the time, and you know how they have advertising running all along the tops in buses? Well, there was one for the Church of Scientology, and I read it and I asked my mom, “Church of Scient-HUH?? What is THAT?”.

“Oh that?” she replied. “They’re not a church, honey, they’re a cult. Don’t pay any attention to it.”

I have no idea how she came to know it’s a cult. As far as I know, she has no first hand knowledge about the “church”, so I suspect it was just her intutition telling her so. This was back in the 70s when Scientology still had tight control over the inner workings of the group and not much was leaking out to the public. She couldn’t possibly have known about everything that’s come to light in recent years; the one thing she DID know for certain was that it had absolutely nothing to do with Christ’s Church and was to be avoided.

It was probably another 10 years before I gave them any more thought. My interest was re-piqued shortly after I got married. When we were married, my husband’s father’s side of the family didn’t attend the wedding. The came to the reception and gave us nice gifts, but they didn’t come to, you know, the important part, the wedding itself. I thought this was terribly rude and I was quite hurt (and a little bit offended) by it. And then my husband explained to me that they didn’t come to the wedding because their religion prohibited them from entering the church. This was a surprise to me because my father-in-law is Christian, as is the rest of the family.

“Well what religion are they?!?”

Some how my husband and I dated for almost 4 years without me ever finding out that his dad’s whole family (except for his dad) are Jehovah’s Witnesses! I had no frickin’ clue!

Now, it’s not like this would have been a deal-breaker for me – Your family is Jehovah’s Witness? Sorry, can’t marry you. No, it wasn’t like that…but it WAS freaky to think that a large part of my new family was in a cult.

I had concern, of course, for their spiritual well-being, and in an effort to better understand my new families beliefs and how they differed from my own, I picked up a book called Kingdom of the Cults, and I forget the author’s name…I want to say Walter Martin (or maybe Martin Walter??)…sorry, it was 30 years ago. In any case, it’s a pretty well known work – you may be familiar with it already – and it covers a bunch of the most “popular” cults, including Jehovah’s Witnesses…and Scientology.

I KNEW it!!! I totally remember thinking that.

It was hard to figure out exactly what Scientology teaches from the book. If I remember correctly, it talked about the auditing and the E-meter, but I don’t recall Xenu entering into the picture. I don’t think there was anything about the higher OT levels (where you learn the REALLY crazy stuff) although it did touch on the concept that we are all thetans (Scientology-speak for “spirits”. Over the years I’ve learned more that has filled in the gaps for me, but at the time it was pretty hard to make any sense of the stuff. It was interesting enough, but I don’t actually know any Scientologists IRL, so I didn’t put a lot of effort into unravelling it all. I was fascinated though, by how secretive the church is about their beliefs. Most churches I know are pretty upfront about their beliefs and want to share them with you! It seemed so counter-intuitive. I kept my eye open for other Scientology related info, but in those days it was pretty hard to come by.

But not too long after that, the internet happened. It won’t be a surprise to anybody who knows me that I was an early adopter of Internet technology. (No geek jokes, please!) All of a sudden there was information everywhere, at your fingertips! All you needed was a modem and a browser and poof! It’s all out there.

I don’t remember if I specifically went looking for Scientology stuff or if I just stumbled onto it while surfing, but somehow I ended up finding some anti-Scientology sites, the craziest of which was one called Operation Clambake. (It’s pretty famous, you may have heard about it.) That was where I found out about the evil Lord Xenu and body-thetans and a bunch of other insane stuff. It was so nuts that at first I didn’t believe it. I thought for sure it had to be some kind of hoax or propaganda. But it started coming up in other sources as well, and former members were starting to speak out and affirm, yeah, we believed that stuff. There seemed to be something to it after all.

It was about this time that I started hearing about this book called Barefaced Messiah, a biography of L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology) and supposedly it was composed from primary sources. I desperately wanted to get my hands on it, but the catch was, it had been long out of print and was very hard to come by.

(Years later I found a transcript of it online and I have to say if you have any interest in LRH or Scientology, this book is a must read, and the story behind the book is fascinating as well. The guy who wrote it was a Scientologist and worked FOR the church. He had access to church archives and was charged with putting the archives into order and assembling a biography of LRH from them. So, like a good little Scientologist he did what he was told, but the more he got into it, the more he was like, Guys, you really do NOT want to do this. This stuff is PROOF that LRH is a cheat, a con and a liar! You gotta feel bad for the guy, he was in an impossible situation. I guess he became completely disillusioned and if I remember correctly, he ended up sneaking the materials out (or he copied them or something, I can’t quite remember) but these documents became the source material for the book. It is meticulously researched and includes copies of the original source documents as well as interviews with personel who could verify their authenticity. In other words, the evidence he presents is beyond dispute. And the church itself provided it.)

The information in the book itself was enough to convince me that the “Church” of Scientology can be best described not as a religion but as a crime syndicate, with now-leader David Miscaviage as capo. The organization exists to defraud its members out of money through the means of fear, intimidation and mind-control disguised as a religion. It is not a religion in the legal sense of the word in that they do not perform services that contribute to the common good – When is the last time you saw Scientology out helping the poor? That’s right, never. In Scientology, the money always flows up, never down. (Just another little thing they have in common with the mob.)

In terms of their spiritual beliefs, I personally think they’re laughable, BUT – and I want to be very clear about this – I 100% affirm their right to hold them. Because I value my own right to believe what I do, I must extend my support to their right as well. They should be left alone for their beliefs. I may dispute with them over them, but I will defend their right to hold them with my dying breath. It’s THAT important to me.

It’s not their spiritual beliefs that I am speaking against, though; it is the abuses that are committed (and covered up) within the organization against its members that I object to. It would be nice to see someone held to account for the crimes but I would settle for them simply reforming their organization to end the abuse. Realistically though, I’m not sure how that would play out. Unfortunately, the “con” is baked right into their processes and without coercion and abuse, I’m not sure how they could possibly keep their existing members, let alone attract new ones. Without all the coercion and mind-control at work, people are just not that stupid!

A lot of the abuses that are just now coming to public attention have been there all along. Barefaced Messiah is decades old, but it describes the abuses within the church (in particular, the nacsent “RPF” aka Project Rehabilitation Force, basically Scientology’s version of a Maoist reconditioning camp) the details of which are horrific and hard to believe. More abuses are coming out – violent, physical punishment, forced abortions and extreme harassment are being described by former members. Momentum has been growing for the FBI to investigate them, perhaps even shut them down, while others having been making noise to have their charitable status as a religious organizations revoked. (Canada, Germany and a bunch of other countries do not recognize them as a religious organization because they fail the “public benefit” test. How they got their tax-exempt status as a religion in the US is a WHOLE other story.)

Since the advent of the Internet (funny how old Ron never saw that coming, eh?), Scientology has lost its stranglehold on the information that is made public about them. For a long time, their reputation for aggressively litigating against their detractors had a chilling effect on what people (even big news outlets) were willing to publicly say about the church. I actually had a personal experience with it once – a little incident that I now refer to as the Scientology Smackdown – when a “parishioner” intimidated me into removing something about Scientology from my own blog (!) with a strongly implied threat of legal action. This was over a decade ago, when they still had a reputation of being nasty with their critics, so I backed down immediately. Just not worth the potential hassle. What really blew me away though, was how swiftly they were able to track me down! This guy contacted me within 24 hours of posting! How do they do that?!? Being a geek, I had my suspicions and suspected they used some sort of automated system that scours the net, looking for stuff, but it still freaked me out how quickly they responded. Clearly, they were taking this stuff pretty seriously. That incident, btw, is the only time I have personally interacted with a Scientologist – I’ve never met one IRL. Everything else I am relating, I am relying on the accounts of what I consider to be credible, verified sources. So n’yaa, Scientology. Yeah, I’m still bitter, lol. What I am NOT, is afraid. Not any more.

Things have changed a lot in the last decade. The internet community (in particular, Anonymous) has changed the climate considerably. People aren’t afraid to speak out any more. The genie is out of the bottle and Scientology does not have the means to put it back. Apparently the church has a billion dollars in liquid assets so clearly they aren’t going to die out any time soon, but I suspect we are now seeing the beginning of the end for Scientology. I predict that it will disappear over the next couple of generations. I may actually celebrate! (Come after me now, Scientology. I dare you.)

No matter what I personally think of their beliefs and practices, at the end of the day what I care about most is the people who are gonna be left behind. As members begin to leave Scientology, where will they land? Even if they are lucky enough to avoid having all their family and friends disconnect from them, you have to recognize that their whole world is gonna be turned upside down. Everything they have ever believed in will be stripped away from them. It is impossible to understate the sense of loss they will experience. Everything changes. It saddens me that in many cases they have been so burned that they are cynical towards all religion. And can you blame them? It’s gonna be tough for them.

Christian friends, may I ask that you join your prayers with mine for the lost and broken lives all around us, and especially for those Scientologists who have been deceived by those whom they entrusted their spiritual well-being to? Though the number of active Scientologists is rather small now (perhaps 30,000 – 50,000 worldwide), you can be sure that in the coming years more and more of them will be rejoining the real world. Who knows, you may even meet one IRL one day, (it’s never happened to me, but it could happen) so try to be a soft place for them to land, okay? These people gonna need a lot of lovin’.

Oh, and btw, my Jehovah’s Witness relatives are still JWs. I don’t actually see them all that often – just a handful of times over the last 30 years – and that is because they are not really supposed to associate with us. My father-in-law is considered an apostate amongst his family, so maintaining a relationship with them has been tricky. If they ever decide to come out of the Watchtower, we’ll be here to catch them. In the meantime, we wait patiently and pray.

Blessed To Be A Blessing

Blessed To Be A Blessing

It’s a good thing I like children 😊

This neighbourhood reminds me of what it was like when I was growing up…kids roaming around, playing road hockey in the street, skipping rope on the sidewalk, playing tag from backyard to backyard. Little boys making roads in the sandbox to push their Hot Wheels around on, while their sisters play with Barbies under the cool of the front porch. Bicycle races. Sharing drippy popsicle and secrets. You know, kid stuff.

My own kids did not have that in the well-to-do neighbourhood they grew up in, and that now seems to have become the norm. The only time you see hordes of kids playing together now is in the…ahem…less desirable areas, probably because they’re the ones whose parents can’t afford to put them in karate and dance class, or send them to summer camp or go away on vacation. They are more or less left to keep themselves entertained.

A shocking number of kids in our complex are growing up without adequate guidance and supervision. You can see it in the way they interact with each other and with those in authority over them. Some of them have learned to be manipulative to get their way; others are out and out defiant.

Please let me be clear, except for one obviously neglectful single mom (and don’t get me started on her because, frankly, I have a hard time finding the “best construction” for her actions, so let’s just not go there) all the other parents I encounter around here are decent, hard working people who care about their children. It’s just that life sometimes gets in the way of their making good parenting choices.

They have good intentions. You can see they want to raise up their children to be well-behaved and respectful towards others, but many of them simply don’t know how to go about it; they are products of their own dysfunctional upbringings.

Far more commonly though, these young moms and dads are simply tired.

See, you don’t live in a place like this if you have any other options. Most of these families are on the poor-ish side; the working poor. They have barely enough financial resources to keep them afloat week-by-week let alone cope with a minor catastrophe such as an emergency car repair, an illness requiring an absence from work, an unexpectedly high heating bill after a cold winter – you know, life.

They are weary and worn down by the day-to-day struggle of simply getting by. No, money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you groceries. It gives the impression that you are insulated from some of the more mundane crises that life tends to throw at everyone. When you have enough money, there is no having to choose between whether the rent goes unpaid or the kids go unfed because life has decided to play nasty. This is just reality for the working poor and don’t be fooled – it takes a toll on us all.

There is a community resource center here within the complex. They have quite a variety of regular programs geared towards supporting and strengthening the family and children, as well as ESL classes for new Canadians, community meals and food distribution (ie. mini food bank) Every Thursday morning, over seventy families from the community take advantage of the food distribution program – that’s roughly one-third of the residents in the area.

Sidebar: The people in my neighbourhood don’t know this, but I pioneered the food distribution program. Yup, true story. Well over 20 years ago, I became acquainted with the need here, and because my church was (at the time) closest in proximity to this neighbourhood, I brought the need to my fellow church members who responded enthusiastically. Food donations began pouring in; enough that we could put together, on average, six or so emergency food hampers each week, which I then brought down to the community centre where they distributed them at their discretion. From there it just kind of grew; other churches in the area became involved in collecting and donating food to the program and then the city brought the program under its Social Services division. It continues to be funded mostly by donations and volunteer hours, with the city providing paid staff to administer it under their Income Support umbrella. Although the program now technically falls under the purview of “big government” it is still largely a community based program, directed by community need and carried out by community members. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. Government assistance has provided a stability to the program that we simply could not have achieved relying solely on volunteer labour.

It’s been years since I was actively involved with the program so I really had no idea how big the scope of the program had become until we moved here to live a couple years back. I was kinda shocked and saddened that the need had grown to the extent it did, but at the same time I’m glad that the program has been able to successfully scale to meet the growing need. It’s not the same program it was all those years ago; it has evolved to meet the ever growing need. I can’t lie, in a strange way I find it gratifying that the foundation we put in place was strong enough to support growth. Bittersweet.

Anyhoo…this neighbourhood is definitely the most challenged one I have ever lived in, but it by far has the strongest sense of community I’ve ever experienced.

It’s hard to explain, but there’s this sense of we’re-all-in-this-together here within the community.

Here, it is still the norm for neighbourhood children to play together instead of isolating themselves in front of an electronic screen. Here, moms still congregate together for coffee on the front stoops in the morning. Here, neighbours still go next door to borrow a cup of sugar.

We babysit each other’s children so parents can go to work.

We share our bounty with each other; I love to bake and pass out cookies to the kiddos, while another mom shares out thick slices of fresh watermelon from her garden. Yet another mom stocks up on freezies and hands them out liberally to anyone who asks.

The former hairdresser who lives across from me does my hair, and in exchange I do her nails.

We swap outgrown toys and children’s clothes with each other rather than put them into an anonymous donation box – there’s always someone here who could make use of them.

A fair number of families – roughly a third, I’d say – don’t have a dad in the home, but the ones who are step up nicely for the fatherless ones. Dave down the block scavenges old bikes and fixes them up for the neighbour kids. Sergio, who has 5 boys of his own, is always willing to include other kids, inviting them to play ball or play in the pool or whatever. He helps out another neighbour by walking her older children to school each day so she doesn’t have to drag the little ones along with her.

I could go on and on here, but the point is, in this neighbourhood where financial resources are always in short supply, we act as resources for each other.

We’re all in this together.

My own place in this neighbourhood has become that of “neighbourhood Granny”.

My friends and neighbours call me The Child Whisperer. I’m not making this up. For whatever reason, kids listen to me, lol! Don’t ask me to explain it…they just do. I suppose having raised three of my own and now having nine grandchildren that I am semi-parenting, I’ve developed some skillz. I am much more patient today than I ever was with my own kids. Plus, I have an excellent role model in my own mother, the Original Child-Whisperer, who relates to children with a perfect blend of love and firmness. *shrugs*. I just emulate her and it works.

Now, I should make it clear that I do not intervene unless I am asked to – I would never presume to usurp parental authority – instead, I prefer to quietly model effective discipline with my own grandkids as an example for other moms and dads. If they ask me – and sometimes they do – How do you get your grandkids to do as they’re told without shouting, threatening or spanking??? – well, then we can have a conversation. It pleases me to be a resource for my neighbours, to assist them in the job of raising their kids. Isn’t that what grannies do? We are done raising our own kids but we have wisdom to share with those who are in the trenches, raising their own. We stand back, observing, assisting, encouraging the next generation of parents.

It doesn’t “take a village” to raise a child, but it does take a family. I am blessed to have a pretty functional family – I am close to both my immediate family as well as extended kin. We stick together and take care of one another – we’re all in this together – but I recognize that not everybody has that.

When your own family is – for whatever reason – not available to you for support, it’s natural to want to surround yourself with surrogates, to find some support and encouragement from others. I have so much support and encouragement from my own family that I can well afford to invest in others, equipping them to be able to turn around and invest in their own families. I know I can’t “fix” all the problems in this community, nor should I. That’s not my job. My job is to love them, one small act of mercy at a time. And there is more than enough here to keep me busy with that.

I mentioned in a recent post that at one time I desired to be a deaconess, a full-time church worker who serves others through acts of mercy, in Christ. I have never lost that desire. Though I do not have a call from the church to serve in this way, in my heart, I AM a “deaconess”, one who shows Christ’s mercy; I am simply serving my wider community as opposed to a church community. A servant-at-large, if you will.

I don’t work, I don’t have many obligations on my time beyond a couple hours at the Breakfast Club each morning. My days are wide open and unending before me – what else should I do with my time?? I can think of nothing better than serving my neighbour, literally.

I’m blessed to be in this position, I know. How many wives have husbands who are willing to support them financially so they can stay at home and hang out with the neighbours all day?

Mine does.

He works so I don’t have to – this is his contribution to our neighbourhood. If I worked, I wouldn’t have the time to do this. Further, if I worked, we wouldn’t HAVE to live here. It’s rundown, it’s noisy with kids running around everywhere, there’s way less privacy than hubby is comfortable with – it’s all the things he hates. Yet he sacrifices his comfort for me, and ultimately for this neighbourhood which I have become such a part of. That’s a pretty significant contribution. I recognize what my husband does as the blessing that it is, and I admire the heck out of him for it.

I did not think of living here as “a blessing” when I first moved here. In truth, if I had had any other better option, I would have taken it. I tried not to think of it as a defeat, to just accept it for what it was, but it was hard to shake the sense of loss I had in having to move here. I had lost my home, many of my belongings, and most of the wealth we had accumulated over the years.

Before I moved here, that’s what blessed looked like to me. In our blessing, we could afford to be generous to others, and indeed we were. It was a thoughtless kind of generosity, though. We had so much it didn’t really hurt to give. Generous, yes. Sacrificial? Not so much…

Our circumstances are much different now, and we have had to exercise some creativity in finding new ways to be generous, to bless others out of our abundance. What once was so abundant – $CASH$ – is now in short supply. I can’t just throw money at problems anymore.

That, too, has been a blessing. It’s really challenged me to “think outside the box” and find creative ways to love my neighbour, to ask myself, What is my duty, according to my vocation of neighbour, to this person in front of me? What do they need right now, and how can I best serve them in it?

By centering my creativity on what I know God would have me do, it takes away all ambiguity and frees me up to boldly do it.

It has been a blessing to get my eyes off of poor l’il me and onto the needs of my neighbour, whose needs are no greater, nor any lesser than my own. We’re all in this together, right? This is not just how God created us – to serve one another out of the abundance of Christ’s love – it’s how he takes care of us as well. God daily cares for me through the hands of others. How then can I refuse to do the same? If I ignore His prompting to serve others, I am quite literally staying God’s Hand, preventing it from distributing his blessings to those who are in need of them. Just how wicked do you think I am, lol. No, I am blessed so that others may be blessed.

God’s greatest blessings to us often come disguised as the humblest of gifts.

The manger looks pretty humble, but in it lays the Saviour of All Nations.

The Cross doesn’t look like a gift at all, yet hidden within it is the one Gift we all truly need.

So it is with the good gifts He gives us; within humble adversity He hides even greater blessings.

I say “hides” because to the unbelieving world adversity does not equal blessing; it is only through the eyes of faith that the blessing is revealed.

Look, I’m not suggesting y’all go out and seek adversity, okay?

This is not a “thing” to “be done”. That’s missing the point.

Seek adversity for God’s blessings; check.


Adversity will come, of that we can be sure. We need not seek it out as if that were a sign of righteousness.

This is about standing firm in God’s promises, that under any circumstances, it’s ALL blessing. Eyes of faith cannot help but reveal this, if only we would not avert our eyes from it. Eyes of faith see past the outward circumstance and remain firmly fixed on the promises of Christ.

I have called you and placed you within My Body and promised that I would never leave you, never forsake you. My promises remain sure, so expect to be blessed – just try not to be too surprised in how the blessings come. Often, my richest blessings come in the nastiest packages. Don’t worry about what it looks like, just trust that I am blessing you in it. If you need it, I will also reveal some signs to you so that you may know it is my blessing – though those too may come in a way and at a time you may not expect. The point is, no matter what it looks like, you can trust Me. I will find a way to keep you in Me so that I can keep blessing you. O my child, don’t you know that this is what I long to do for you? To lavish you with my love and shower upon you gifts, the greatest of which is my Son, through faith in Whom I promise to keep you until the end?

When adversity came calling it left me shellshocked and bewildered. I won’t lie, it really threw me for a loop, so much so that I questioned a lot of my core assumptions.

But I am still here.

I am still standing, miraculously, in faith. The devil fought hard; Jesus fought harder.

There is still adversity in my life, but faith remains. Faith that assures me I lack nothing, in this life or the next, and frees me to go forth and do what He has made me to do – love and trust Him and love and serve my neighbour – trusting that He is able to use it all.

So here I am, neighbourhood Granny, deaconess without a call. Faith insists it’s all blessing.

I can live with that.

When JWs Come Knocking

When JWs Come Knocking

So, I have begun a relationship with a lovely couple who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. The came proselytizing about a month ago and we struck up a conversation. Super nice people, and I enjoyed our discussion. They, of course, wanted to know if they could leave some Watchtower literature with me.

Normally, when a JW offers me the latest issue of Awake! I politely decline it. I tell them, as kindly as I can, that I have examined their beliefs and have rejected them as unbiblical.

That’s harsh, I know. I do tell them as gently and as kindly as I can, but firmly; for though I do not wish to be harsh, I must be honest. This is not a kid’s game. This is life or death stuff, and they know it. It’s the whole reason they come knocking in the first place – they believe souls are at stake. And they’re not wrong. Souls are at stake – their souls – and somebody has to love them enough to be honest about it and warn them. I don’t know how effective it is – I seriously doubt anybody has left my door and thought, Wow, she thinks what I believe is unbiblical…maybe I better look into that! But it is better than lying to them, blowing them off to get rid of them and leaving them in lost in their deception. Now that would be harsh. Better to confront their unbelief and declare the Gospel to them – for all I know, it may be the only time the actually ever hear it.

But in this case, for whatever reason, I did not decline their offer. I took their magazine and promised to read it and invited them to stop back for a chat the next time they are around.

And I did read it. It was garbage, of course – little bits of truth woven into the lies until the whole thing is practically unrecognizable. The Gospel promise was certainly no where to be found amongst the pages. Sad.

This past Saturday, my new friends came by again. I had been thinking about them just a couple of days prior, wondering if they would come back and what I might say to them if they did. For in truth, I really didn’t know what I would say to them if they asked me about what I had read. Where to start?? Their truth and lies are so tangled up together it’s impossible to tell which thread to pull first…

So when they stopped in Saturday morning, I was not prepared for them – and in fact, it wasn’t really a good time for me, I was still in my pajama bottoms and an old hoodie, cleaning out the dust bunnies from under my bed when they arrived.

My friends chuckled a bit as I arrived to the door. “Did we catch you at a bad time?”

I admitted I was in the middle of some housecleaning, but I had some coffee on if they wanted to join me for a short break.

“No, no, we don’t want to keep you,” they demurred. “We just wanted to see if you had had a chance to read the articles we left with you…?”

“Yes, I did…” I said, and left it hanging. Thankfully they did not ask me what I thought of the articles. I don’t know what I would have said.

But they didn’t push it any further and simply asked if I would be interested in another article to read.

“This one is about God’s angels,” my visitor enthused. “I know you are a spiritual person (her word, not mine) and I thought you might be interested.”

Honestly, I have no desire to read another Watchtower, but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it, so I accepted the tract and thanked them for thinking of me. The tract got folded in half and stuffed it into the pocket of my hoodie.

We chatted for a few more minutes before they made their goodbyes.

“Be sure to stop by again next time you’re around,” I invited. “Maybe you’ll have time to come in for a coffee.”

They agreed that sounded lovely and they were looking forward to it, and then they were off.

I headed back inside to finish off the dust bunnies and I didn’t give a thought to the tract in my pocket until later that afternoon as I prepared to take a shower.

Emptying my pockets before I undressed, my hand came across the tract and I almost tossed it right into the trash without another thought…and then I hesitated.

Though I hadn’t meant it, I had said I would read it. And I had invited them back; surely they would want to discuss it on their next visit.

I’m gonna have to read this, I realized. Shit.

I haven’t read it yet. The article she wanted me to read is on angels, supposedly from a Biblical perspective.

Fair enough. I will take them at their word – I will study what the Bible has to say about angels and then I will read the article to see if what it says lines up with Scripture.

The problem is, I don’t really know all that much about angels. I could really use some help with this, and that’s my purpose for writing .

I know that angels are created beings. I’m less clear on whether they have a corporeal form – in some instances they seem to have human form (Joseph wrestles with an angel, right? and Daniel (I think) sees one “having the form of a man” in a vision), but they are also supposed to be hanging around here, unseen, (or is that something I just picked up from the culture?) so I don’t know.

I know that whenever people do see them, they fall down in abject terror. You do not want to come face-to-face with one of these Messengers of the Lord.

I know that at least three of the angels are named; the fallen one, Lucifer, the “bringer of light”; the archangel Michael, “chief of the angels”; and Gabriel. There is also an angel mentioned in the intertestimental stuff, Raphael – I’m not sure how much weight to give that. Not enough to be dogmatic about it either way.

I know that angels worship God and that angels are not to be worshiped; I know they are messengers; I know that an angel refused to rebuke Satan by his own authority lest he blaspheme God but did so under God’s authority which He was given to wield. I’m fuzzy on how I know this. From Scripture? From something I’ve heard? Probably some of both.

As I’ve been pondering what (I think) I know about angels, I’ve kinda picked up that Michael seems to be associated with the person and work of Christ (for example, John sees Michael slay the dragon) and Gabriel with the person and work of the Holy Spirit (he announces and precedes the coming of the Christ). It makes me wonder…and this is just total speculation, but am I crazy in thinking is Lucifer maybe the Father’s angel?? Again, speculation, and even if it were so, what then would it tell us about God and His angels? Not even sure it matters…maybe that’s just a big empty rabbit hole.

As you can see, I know appalling little about angels, lol, and what I think I do know about them is pretty sketch.

I’m familiar with the most famous appearances angels make in the Scriptures and probably quite a few lesser ones as well, but the truth is, when angels pop up, I hardly ever pay attention to them. I’ve considered them a minor matter – and maybe that’s true in the bigger scheme of things – but as I do a little bit more than merely scratch the surface, interesting stuff starts to emerge. Perhaps the accounts of angels have something to teach us about the nature of the unseen world? At the very least, I should learn something new about the Creation, no?

Now that I have decided that angels are worthy of my study (kidding/not kidding) I’m pumped to do it…but I realize I have no idea where to start.

If you’re so inclined, help a girl out, would ya?

I’m looking for suggestions. Any good places for me to start? Where in the Bible can I find the clearest passages regarding angels? Aside from my crazy speculations, where am I getting it wrong?

Any input/discussion is greatly appreciated!