Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Victorian advice for modern Moms?

Queen Victoria and Princess Beatrice, scanned from an old newspaper, ca. 1862

I recently finished -- or rather, plodded through -- The Last Princess by Matthew Dennison, a biography of Princess Beatrice, the last child born to Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. While I found the book as a whole unfortunately lacklustre, there were these couple of gems I made note of and thought to share. While quoted from the text, they are essentially the words of Prince Albert, the Queen, and William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, not the author.

"'It is indeed a pity that you find no consolation in the company of your children,' Prince Albert wrote to his wife, in one of those careful, measured missives that were his chosen channel of correction when an outburst of the Queen's temper threatened to overwhelm them both. 'The root of the trouble lies in the mistaken notion that the function of a mother is to be always correcting, scolding, ordering them about and organising their activities. It is not possible to be on happy friendly terms with people you have just been scolding'" (
The Last Princess, p.11).

"The Queen's warnings to the Crown Princess over the education of the latter's first child... 'Too much constant watching leads to the very dangers hereafter which one wishes to avoid' -- echo the advice Melbourne had given the Queen twenty years earlier, which she had then summarily ignored: 'Be not over solicitous about education. It may be able to do much, but it does not do so much as is expected from it. It may mould and direct the character, but it rarely changes it" (
The Last Princess, p.15-16).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

(Photograph is copyright Reuters, 1987)

While Bonnie and I were at the vet, I was very struck by this photograph of Minstrel the cat testing a line-up of dogs at the Metropolitan Police Dog Training School in Keston, England. Aren't those dogs beautiful! And that cat sure is something!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

my Bonnie -- who died today, aged 10

In their deaths they were not divided.

My beautiful blue-eyed Bonnie has died. Just over two months since Radar, her lifelong partner, left. I knew that with Radar’s passing, Bonnie just wouldn’t be the same anymore, and indeed, she did become more and more depressed, spending her days just sitting and staring, like many a despondent nursing home inmate. A lonely old age is a very sad thing, and of course I knew that I could never be to Bonnie what Radar had been.

I will always remember Bonnie for the wonderful feistiness she had hidden under her gentle exterior. She gave way to Radar in a lot of things, but she also bossed him around in others. She knew what she wanted, and she went for it – whether it was raisins, or kicking out the gigantic New Zealand white rabbit rescue who temporarily came to stay.

A younger Bonnie and a younger B.

I guess it was that quiet spiritedness that kept her going to such a ripe old age, but it was still so very sad to see her slowly slipping away. At the same time, I felt that perhaps she didn’t mind going so much, because her quality of life just wasn’t the same anymore. Besides the fact that Radar was gone, she was in pain and gradually lost the ability to hold herself up, so that she could no longer do anything basic for herself. Knowing how fastidious she was, that couldn’t have helped her feelings.

Except for the temporary paralysis she endured from a spinal injury when she was about five, Bonnie was the most easy to care for rabbit I’d ever known (besides Radar of course, who never gave any problems either). People would tell me about all the various ailments their rabbits had – from mites and sore hocks to serious GI trouble – and I always marvelled at how Bonnie and Radar were so straightforward and uncomplicated.

I used to joke in the past that I wasn’t really a “rabbit person” – Bonnie and Radar were rescues who literally dropped into my life – I am therefore eternally grateful to both of them for introducing me to the fascinating world of rabbits, and showing me that rabbits really are as responsive, smart, quirky and loving as any cat or dog one might know, or be more accustomed to.

My sweet Bonnie toward the end; she could no longer lift her head.

Just as I used to marvel at how easy Bonnie and Radar were, I used also to marvel at their hardiness, and my Mom and I used to say they seemed like they would live forever. But of course, nothing does… the years pass, and Bonnie’s once lush dark fur became lighter and flecked with white… and finally I said good night to her as I stroked her head and saw the sparkle go out from her lovely eyes, so unusual and blue like cornflowers. O Bonnie, Bonnie, I miss you so. It is so painful to realise how much someone means to you when they have gone.

Bonnie rests next to Radar now, and roses will grow over her grave as they do over his.

In a place of enchantment where the wild things are known
Will the future remember when the lovers are gone

And I see them dancing somewhere in the moonlight
Somewhere in Alaska, somewhere in the sun
I hear them singing a song for all lovers
A song for the two hearts beating only as one
A song for the two hearts beating only as one

From John Denver's A Song For All Lovers

Saturday, May 21, 2011

loving today

on line-cutters, or more walking in love

So today I was out with the kids, and while lining up to buy them something to drink, this lady – with her kid – cuts in front of me and just orders her stuff. Well I’m sorry to say I didn’t just cheerfully shrug it off, but instead went through this whole little silent pantomime of, “Hey - what the heck - don’t you have any manners - is this how you teach your kid basic courtesy - and you, Miss Service Person, why don’t you ask who came first - what is wrong with these people”.

It was in fact just a couple of days ago that the exact same thing happened to me at another place. The very fact that these people arrived after me, and positioned themselves right next to me, seems to suggest that they could, in fact, see me, and even make the mental connection that I was there first.

I suppose getting cut while waiting in line is like this little version of being taken advantage of. We feel we are being treated discourteously, indifferently, without respect. And it’s amazing how strongly and quickly we react to the rudeness, the stupidity, indeed, the sheer injustice, of it all. I feel as outraged as one who has never been rude or stupid to anyone, about anything, in my entire life.

Of course, it takes a certain kind of person to cut a line and bulldoze one’s way through, and then stand there in apparently thick-skinned, uncaring oblivion while the person they cut looks on in disbelief.

Well, that’s them. Who knows what’s going on in their little worlds, why they are the way they are, why they behave the way they do. But as for me – I should have known better.

I’m not proud of the fact that I felt irritated. Even though it was all in my head, someone knew, and of course that someone was the All-Seeing Eye – God.

I prayed about it of course, and God brought this beautiful Scripture to mind:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:1-8).

True, it’s important that my kids see me having decent manners in public, nicely waiting in line, holding the door open, saying “please” and “thank you”, all that sort of thing. But I think it’s just as important, if not more so, that they see me habitually walking in love – giving way, letting go, being patient and forgiving, and always at peace.

Friday, May 20, 2011

sailor Hep Cat

Hep Cat wears his 1920s sailor suit. He's a dapper fellow he is!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

loving today

on being a Christian, or words that end in "-ian"

I was talking to this chap the other day, and toward the end of the conversation I said, “Well, you’re a Christian and…”. I didn’t get to finish my sentence because he quickly interrupted me with, “No, I’m Catholic, not Christian”.

I had to leave and didn’t have much time for any theological debates, so I sort of clicked my tongue in exasperation and went, “Yes I know, but you are a Christian right?? I mean, you follow Jesus Christ right??”

It’s not that I was really annoyed or anything, but I just don’t understand this. I mean, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this sort of thing. Sometimes it’s the Catholics who say they’re not Christian, and sometimes it’s the non-Catholic Christians who say that Catholics aren’t really Christians.

I just don’t understand why there are these distinctions being made. Broadly speaking, I regard all people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and who follow His teachings, as Christians. Like – Jesus Christ right? Christian right? (like... um... Victorian... Utopian... Martian...?).

I found the following dictionary definitions of what a “Christian” is, all of which I agree with:

As an adjective:
1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
4. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.

As a noun:
1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

Now I’m certainly not going to get all deep and academic and analyse the history of the church and the Nicene creed and the pope’s “infallibility” and all that sort of thing – I’m just wondering, why is there this division among lay Christians? Ok yes, I know – where there are people, division just seems to happen.

But it bothers me a bit to have a Catholic person imply that I’m not quite a Christian because I’m a Methodist, or to hear a Protestant person pooh-pooh a Catholic’s faith as not being “real Christianity”. I’ve been in little inter-denominational meetings where the subtle air of condescension, and the little judgmental, patronising jabs were just not funny.

I was actually in the middle of asking that chap to pray for me when he corrected me about his faith, which seemed to imply that somehow he wouldn’t be praying to whom I thought he would, or praying the kind of prayers I expected, and he’d better let me know. Which to me was just ridiculous, because there on his wall was a cross, a symbol of our common faith.

Isn’t the main thing what the dictionary says? “One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus”. I know this definition is just from some basic English dictionary, and not some profound ancient Greek text, but hey – if we truly can live out that definition, isn’t that worth celebrating? Most of us can only profess the belief, yet struggle to truly follow it. Honestly, pedantics and other man-made rules and definitions – many whose origins are lost in the vague sands of time – just don’t help.

To me it’s simple – the life and teachings of Jesus are laid out in the New Testament for anyone to read. Surely we Christians should be united, strengthening and praying for one another, instinctively loving and caring about each other and rejoicing in our common faith. Jesus said, “… if two of you on earth agree (harmonise together, make a symphony together) about whatever [anything and everything] they may ask, it will come to pass and be done for them by My Father in heaven. For wherever two or three are gathered (drawn together as My followers) in (into) My name, there I AM in the midst of them” (Matt 18:19-20).

Any kingdom that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand (Matt 12:25). Thankfully, the Church – and I mean the entire body of all Christians of every denomination – has shown great resilience and lasting power, but let’s not be divided as individuals.

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]” (James 5:15-17).

As a Christian, I don't think it's about names, or flavours or brands. What I think it all boils down to is this: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matt 22:35-40).

The rosary in the picture above was given to me as a very young child; I keep it reverently till this day.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

on Pavlov, old habits, and new responses

There was this space of time between when I got out from the bath and when I said my nightly prayers, during which I noticed I’d start off on a certain particularly negative train of thought. This had been happening for about a week already and honestly, I was just fed up with it.

I do know what triggered it the first time, and knowing that, you’d think I’d subsequently give myself a kick in the **** and just stop it, but no – as my particular brand of spiritual challenges would have it – I’d fixate on the thing and go on my little train ride every night after my bath, till I’d spoken to God about it during my prayers.

Well last night I cried out to God in sheer frustration, because I realised that this negativity was becoming a dangerously bad habit – I mean, it would even manifest itself in physical sensations, which didn’t bother me at all at other times of the day. On previous occasions when I’d spoken to God about it, He had pointed out that it was the end of the day, and I was weary, and that it is a favourite time for spiritual vulnerability and attack.

But last night two words popped into my head: Pavlovian conditioning. Now, I hadn’t heard those words since first year university (which you can bet was a long time ago) and even then I wasn’t paying much attention in class. But having them come to me now, I decided I’d better go look it up today.

From the lovely Brittanica.com, I’m told Pavlovian conditioning is “a type of conditioned learning which occurs because of the subject’s instinctive responses, as opposed to operant conditioning, which is contingent on the willful actions of the subject. It was developed by the Russian physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov”.

I vaguely recall from class that Pavlov did some experiments on dogs, and observed that not only did the dogs begin salivating in the presence of meat, but they gradually began salivating in the presence of their feeder. He concluded that if a stimulus – say a bell – was used when the dogs were being fed, then eventually the dogs would associate that bell with food, and salivate whenever it was rung, even if there was no food present. Which essentially was what happened.

In looking up Brittanica, I chanced upon the phrase “Pavlov’s dog” – it is used to describe someone who instinctively reacts to a situation, rather than use critical thinking. And so now that it’s daytime, and I am critically thinking – do I behave like Pavlov’s dog?

I think the answer is probably yes – at first I started on that negative train of thought about something specific, but then – even though God had already reassured me on the subject – I began doing it habitually as I was getting into my pyjamas (looking back, I think pyjama-dressing is one of those mindless times where if you're not thinking right thoughts...). It reached the point where just being in my pyjamas, at night, somehow made me instinctively get into that negative mode.

Of course, even starting on that train at all is bad, but to keep doing it? Even after God had reassured me? When faced with a challenge, why is it so instinctive to get anxious, depressed, negative?

I’d clearly gotten stuck in the wrong response. Like the dog who salivated just hearing the bell, I was doing my negative thing out of sheer habit! And for what? There was no food for the dog, and there was nothing good or productive in it for me either.

Like the bell, the pyjama-dressing – or the allergy flaring up, or the husband forgetting to call, or the friend who says hurtful things, or whatever else it is that sets you off – is just a wicked deceit and strategy; put on God’s whole armour and resist it (Eph 6:11)!

The dog should have just stopped himself and thought, “Wait a minute. What am I getting all messed up for? It’s just a stupid bell. There’s no food there; we’ve been over this a hundred times. I’m getting all worked up for nothing. I’m going to just relax because my nice owner takes good care of me and is going to give me real, proper food soon”.

Well, that last is wishful thinking as far as Pavlov’s poor dogs went, but for me, I know – I know I AM in God’s good hands and He takes very good care of me. Our habitual, instinctive response to challenges should simply be – relax, and trust God.

And so I ask God to help me keep my mind set on the right things – all that is pure, lovely, excellent, praiseworthy (Phil 4:8) – so that I’ll be conditioned to think, feel and live right, the way God intends.

In John 16:33, Jesus says, “…in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you]”.

And the apostle John writes, “Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

It’s never to late to kick bad habits – even for old dogs :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hep Cat pin

A new Hep Cat pin in the shop now.

Hep Cat is sometimes quizzical, but always happy! (Clay really captures the term "handmade" I think :)


Custom-order Owlet waiting to be stuffed. This one has lots of embroidery - very fiddly!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

on litterbox living

Do you have a cat? Or a rabbit? Then you’ll know what I’m talking about with this litterbox revelation. When I was in university, I lived in this one rented room with my cat (dear, sweet Anisah; who would sleep at my head purring like a motorboat engine and fetched balls better than any dog I’ve ever known). She used a litterbox of course, but being the young/busy/irresponsible/lazy owner that I was then, I wasn’t particularly religious about changing it.

As any responsible cat owner would/should know, the litterbox should essentially be cleaned out as soon as the cat has used it, and then given a thorough clean about once or twice a week. Meaning, as soon as you know your cat has pooped or peed in the box, you should go scoop out the stuff, and then once or twice a week, throw out all the litter, scrub the box clean, and put in new litter.

Well I’m sorry to admit that I wasn’t exactly fastidious about doing this in those “younger days”. Of course I would clean out the whole box “now and then”, but the reality was more along the lines of scooping out the messy parts and occasionally putting more litter in on top. What would happen with that kind of routine was simply this – the litterbox never got truly cleaned. The icky bits were merely masked with nice-looking clean litter.

But inevitably, what gave it away was this – the sour odour of something bad. And no amount of baking soda or lemon spritz one tried to add on top was going to help. Almost worse was the fact that that odour gradually permeated the entire room, seeping even into my clothing, so that my Mom would comment on the “weird smell” my sweaters had when I went home for the holidays.

And perhaps worst of all was the fact that I often ceased to notice the malodorous buildup – until it became too much – because I’d allowed it to become so much a part of my everyday life.

While praying the other night about my own stinky thoughts and feelings, I had a sudden crystal-clear vision of that little undergraduate room, and dear sweet Anisah – and Anisah’s litterbox in the corner. I remembered how I’d try to get away with doing the minimum amount of work with regard to cleaning the box, and then be compelled to deal with the unpleasant effects of that lack of discipline afterward. The stupid thing was, adding clean litter to the dirty box, and coming up with ways to mask the odour, actually created more work, and was way more troublesome and disagreeable than just giving the box a regular, thorough once-over.

But isn’t that just how some of us are in our thoughts and behaviour sometimes. We lapse so easily into negative thinking and bad, undisciplined behaviour, and then we have to deal with, and cover up the yucky effects. We let ourselves become stinky with fear and worry, unkindness, vindictiveness and unforgiveness, all kinds of ungodly attitudes and behaviour, and then we have to deal with the rank consequences – anxiety, stress, broken relationship; lack of peace; weak, unvictorious lives.

The more we let it go on, the harder it is to eradicate, because we’re just adding layer upon layer of gunk. We become so used to the stink, sometimes we even cease to notice it. We just accept our negative, miserable, unfruitful lives because we’re too undisciplined to do anything about it, until one day it all becomes too much, too unbearable. The bits of poop do add up. We might even wonder why we’re so depressed, anxious, negative about everything and everyone. That’s when – maybe – we cry out for help.

But because we’ve been so lazy and apathetic, and not been in the habit of walking in the Spirit, this is going to take effort! I definitely have to regularly ask God for help with this. Occasionally going to church or saying a prayer in desperation just isn’t enough – we need to be thoroughly renewed and cleaned out. And we have to routinely walk in the Spirit – habitually thinking and doing right.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Like the average litterbox, many of us have nasty bits (chunks? blobs?) hidden under a nice, pleasant exterior. And for so long as we aren’t renewed in the spirit, we’re going to find those nasty bits gradually growing and extending their influence further and further into the rest of our lives.

I've learnt that I shouldn't just occasionally dig around my intolerant, mean, unloving, fearful, negative clumps and then slip back into my old shoddy habits – I shouldn't accept or ignore even the tiny poopy bits or the slight stains - instead I ask God to help me cast it all out, and get spick and span. As the psalmist says, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow… Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps 51:7, 10).

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes, “I… appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service,

Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.

Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.

… let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

… you must no longer live as the heathen do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.

Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].

In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand].

… Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him],

Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;

And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],

And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.

Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].

…Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favour) to those who hear it.

… Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph 4, italics mine).

Monday, May 2, 2011

on keeping on the right track

Today’s a public holiday and I’d thought to sleep in a bit. But I woke up prematurely at about 8am, and horrible to say, I immediately went downhill on that train of negative thinking. You will not believe (or maybe you can) the number and intensity of negative, fearful, miserable thoughts that crowded in upon me, one after the other. They were of the infamous “what if” variety, and suffice to say they were not the exciting “what if I found a million bucks, where would I holiday first?” type, or better yet, the uplifting, “what if Jesus appeared in my room right now?”

Instead, I sat squarely down in that train of dire, catastrophic thinking, and even buckled my seatbelt. For at least 10, 15 minutes – which felt immeasurably longer – I rode that train, indulged in it, really, and got myself on the express to Depressiontown (which is very close to Panictown).

And yet, it was surely the Holy Spirit in me that rose up saying, with increasing urgency, “Stop it, you’ve got to stop it, you’ve got to stop it right now”. And I saw, in my spirit, how surely I was heading into that terrible pit, where one seems to forget God and all sense of perspective. Gradually, with increasing power, these words came to me, and I repeated and repeated them, meditating on them with all my might: The Lord is my healer, He is faithful to deliver me. I will not worry or fear, because I AM in His good hands. I literally repeated those words again and again until they were the only thoughts in my head. And I fell back to sleep.

This is what happened next. I had a dream. The finer details are vague now, but the essential action was this: I was on holiday somewhere, and having a good time. I had my book of devotions with me, and I wanted to sit down and read it and pray. But every time I started to do so, someone or other would come along and distract me. On the last occasion, someone even took the book away from me. And the holiday became less and and less enjoyable each time this happened.

While I’m thankful to say that I did get another two hours’ sleep, that dream stayed on my mind for quite awhile. I think dreams are to some extent an expression of what’s going on in our sub- or unconscious, and I’m also aware that God does speak to people in dreams sometimes, like He did with Jacob or Joseph, for example. I just couldn’t help wondering if somehow the Holy Spirit was telling me that I was letting myself get distracted from God, that I needed to be more dedicated and steadfast in my worship and faith.

I was letting fear and other unholy thoughts and emotions take away from my devotion to Him. And how can we truly enjoy our lives if we let that happen, if we don’t keep close to Him? Remember how I’d felt God was telling me that the way to overcome my challenges was simply to “Spend time with Him”? Well I suppose lately I’ve been spending more time with my fears.

Fellow Christians, please pray for me. James 5:16 says “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]”.

Thankfully God is full of love, mercy and compassion. I’m sure He does not want us to live fearful, miserable, powerless lives, subject to the deceits and strategies of the enemy. In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, who “wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living”, we see how loving God is.

The prodigal son repents and returns home, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently] … the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honour) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet… let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” (Luke 15:20-24, italics mine).

Indeed, every time I get off that wrong train and return to God, I am uplifted and encouraged. I am refreshed and strengthened. And then I am calm enough to see God’s miraculous power and goodness at work in my life. How wonderful to know that He says, “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation” (Ps 91:14-16).


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