Friday, September 30, 2011

Interview with Fear

By Pia Thompson

Pia: Today, I’m speaking with Fear. He is well known to most of us. Fear has been a constant companion to many, a casual acquaintance to others. Welcome to my blog today, Fear.
Fear: Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here. Always good to see you, again, Pia.
Pia: Now, Fear, you and I are well, I wouldn’t say old friends, but we do have a history at the very least.
Fear: Yes, we do have a history. I’d like to think we still have a connection. Wouldn’t you?
Pia: Yes, well, for the sake of those who don’t know you as well, I’ll introduce you. Fear first made an appearance in my life after the death of my Father. I was three, my sister was five. Fear is a near relative of Insecurity. Some say the family resemblance often makes it difficult to tell them apart.
Fear: If I may interject, I think I’m stronger than my cousin. Insecurity is far too fretful.
Pia: Yes, I agree. But you both bullied me in my early years.
Fear: Such a strong word, bullying. We don’t do any more than you allow us to do. Please don’t play victim with me.
Pia: Anyway, my mother turned to alcohol to cope. I felt very alone. She was often depressed and would sit in the dark at home. I remember hearing on the news about a single mom who drove into the water, killing herself and her two daughters. I remember asking, “You wouldn’t do that, would you, Mom?” Somehow her reassurances didn’t help.
And because my father died young in a car accident, I feared the same could happen to my mother and we’d be left alone.
Fear: If I may, how am I to blame for any of this? Did I drive the car that killed your father?
Pia: No, but you and your cousin whispered to me on those many nights when I slept with the light on.
Fear: Don’t bring my cousin, Darkness into this. Let’s just stick to you and me.
Pia: Very well. I turned inward. I may have been more naturally shy being the younger sibling. But in my school years, I became painfully shy, beyond description. I was the queen of malingering, pretending to be sick to avoid the stress of school. Because of my home life, I spent many nights sleeping over with friends. I was drawn to “whole” families who loved each other, talked and joked. I knew that’s what I wanted if I ever had a family.
Fear: Excuse me while I dab at my tears. So touching.
Pia: No one would ever accuse you of being sensitive, Fear. But I do have to thank you.
Fear: Thank? Me? Whatever for?
Pia: You are a motivator of sorts. You helped me want to escape, find a better life; happiness.
Fear: Did I succeed?
Pia: Yes, but I wouldn’t go so far in giving you all the credit. When I first heard the gospel, it was fear of judgment that motivated me to come to Christ, although it was love that kept me. I knew when I heard the bad news, that it was true. I was a sinner and I deserved to suffer the wrath of God. When I heard the Good News, that God had provided a way of escape through Jesus Christ, I ran into the arms of a Father who would never leave me alone. This was the beginning of my life as a Christian. But you didn’t leave me, Fear.
Fear: Well, not to boast, but I am faithful.
Pia: I knew my fears were inconsistent with a life of faith, that they showed a lack of trust in God, but a lifetime with you wasn’t easy to shake.
Fear: Oh, I recall being kicked to the curb more than once.
Pia: Yes, it was those Bible verses. They helped me see you for what you really were.

“ Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

Isaiah 43:1,2

Then said I:
“ Ah, Lord GOD!
Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”
But the LORD said to me:
“ Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
For you shall go to all to whom I send you,
And whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of their faces,
For I am with you to deliver you,” says the LORD.
“ Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.“
Jeremiah 1:6-8

“ For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7

Pia: Why are you covering your ears, Fear?
Fear: I thought this was an interview, not Pick-on-Fear Day.
Pia: So what have you been doing with yourself, lately? Besides hiding in closets and under beds?
Fear: Ouch. Although there is merit in those things you mentioned. Some people never shake well established childhood fears. Get ‘em early, I always say. But to answer your question, I’ve left you alone for quite a while now, haven’t I?
Pia: Yes. Some of my fears and insecurites fell away as I became an adult, others left as I matured as a Christian. Once I learned how easily I could make you flee, by prayer and the Scriptures, I became more confident.
Fear: See, you found yourself a Christian man, built yourself that dream Christian family you always wanted, with love and laughter and joy. Oh, excuse me a moment while I bring up my lunch.
Pia: You’re right and wrong. My mother stopped drinking when I was seventeen. The lights turned on, quite literally. I began to know her and we now have a great relationship. God blessed me with a husband and a family. He showed mercy to me by also saving my children. Yes, I have a happy family life, like I had always dreamed. But it’s not all sweetness and light. We live in a fallen world. My husband developed bone cancer in his leg thirteen years ago.
Fear: He’s alive, isn’t he? What does that have to do with me?
Pia: Yes, he’s alive, thank God. God spared him, and all of us. During that time though, I had no assurances he would survive. I’m an oncology nurse. I know that not everyone has a happy ending. I was afraid he would die. Our girls were 6 and 8 at the time. I feared they would grow up without a Dad, like I did.
Fear: But they didn’t. I’ve kept away since then,let you go on with your storybook life, in a beautiful house in the suburbs, with your mother living with you, and a dog, no less!
Pia: Yes, life is good. I thank God for His blessings. I know I don’t deserve them. Now, though, I see your subtlety. You’re not attacking in the old way. Now you dress up in opportunities.
Fear: Please explain how I manage to scare you by opportunities.
Pia: Fear of failure is a great motivator. It makes me work hard. But fear of success is different. I know that in order to succeed, I need to take risks, step out of my comfortable world, and risk rejection. Sometimes it’s safer to stay in mediocrity; not promoting myself, not finishing writing my books, because then I’d have to push the baby from the nest. What if it doesn’t fly? Suddenly I’m an insecure child again, afraid of the world out there. All alone. That’s why I just blog for myself and keep my partially finished manuscripts on a shelf. It makes me feel I’m working towards something without ever getting there.
Fear: So, let me get this straight. I am responsible for the bad things in your life, and the good things? I keep you in your mediocre existence so you won’t take chances because of your fear of failure AND your fear of success? I didn’t know I was that good. I need to update my resume. I impress myself!
Pia: No, Fear. You’re still loathsome, no matter what form you take. But I’m wise to you. I see how you operate and I don’t have to allow you to freeze me in time. I learned long ago that you are not invincible.
Fear: Well, so happy for your insights. Glad we had this little chat, but I must be going, scaring little children and all that, you know.
Pia: I can’t say I’m sad to see you go, but I am glad we had this talk. You’re not so intimidating in person. I thought you’d be taller. And I totally wasn’t expecting the British accent.
Fear: (rising to leave) Goodbye, Pia. I’m sure I’ll see you again sometime. Think of me when you can’t finish writing something. I may be around the corner, holding hands with Success.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Time of Life

September 26, 2011.

Outside my window...a rare, hot fall day, 29 C, but it's supposed to rain the rest of the week.
I am thinking...We're getting to the age where our friends' parents are dying. Our best man's mom died this weekend. She was a sweet lady. She was a real energizer bunny at church back in the day. She developed Alzheimer's and was cared for at home by her daughter-in-law for many years. She broke her hip last week and stopped eating. Christian funerals are so different. A friend at church told me they were once at a funeral home and the funeral director had to come and ask them to keep it down, because they were talking and laughing and it upset another funeral where they were wailing.
I am blog at least three times a week until the end of the year.
I am thankful home. It's big enough that I actually offered to host 27 people for Thanksgiving dinner!
I am uniform, at work of course.
From the kitchen...bbq sausage in a bun and grilled banana with brown sugar.
I am co-workers talking.
I am reading...31 Days to Finding your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain. Very funny.
Around the house...I ended up being off all last week because of bereavement leave. See the blog about the funeral.
One of my favourite things...they've added an extra GO train in the morning, so I get home 30 minutes sooner. Nice.
Some plans for the four nights. Attend a conference at Trinity Baptist Church on Saturday, for the wives of Pastors and Elders. Church on Sunday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Wonder of the Cross?

"But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Rom. 1:23,24

As Christians, we love the Cross. To us, it is a symbol of our redemption. For it was on a cross that Jesus died for our sins. He purchased us. He paid the price we owed. He absorbed the wrath of God in His own person. If not for the work of Christ on the cross, we would have no hope of Heaven.

Over the centuries,the offence of the cross has diminished. People see it as jewellery, no more significant than a star or a peace sign.
But what if we wore a hangman's noose on a chain around our necks? Or an electric chair? What if we sang songs about the wonder of those things? Then we'd see how offensive the cross was to the people of the first century. It was an instrument of torture and execution, a place reserved for the worst criminals. It was, to modern sensibilites, cruel and unusual punishment. It was not the quick death of a lethal injection, a guillotine or even a firing squad.

Why do Christians love to talk about the death of this One? In the hymn, O Sacred Head, it says, "Yet though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine."

We see it through eyes of faith. If Christ had not suffered there, the Just for the unjust, we would have to pay for our own sins. It is, in one symbol, or one word, an image of what Christ accomplished for us. His victory is our victory. That's why we glory in the Cross!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The occasion of my brother-in-law's funeral this weekend has made me think about funerals and death. I even woke up from a nightmare this morning. In it someone was walking by, and then someone said, "Look who else is here." The person following was John, as he appeared in his casket last night.
I guess as much as I thought I was handling it, I think it still creeped me out to see him there. There's nothing "normal" about death, no matter how often we see it. And I've seen more death than I should have. I've seen the process of dying so often that I can recognize imminent death. I know the signs to watch for; no urine output, cold extremities, cheyne-stokes breathing (laboured breathing alternating with apnea). Death is usually measured in hours at that point, although I've seen it stretch to days, but that is rare and it takes an especially strong person to last for days with such effort to breathe. It's also hard on the family, who are on "death watch", alternating which family member will stay with them so they're not alone. Yet I've also seen family members who don't recognize death when it comes, even though they've been watching for it.
But seeing these signs in a family member is so much harder than with a patient.
Also,as a rule, I don't go to funerals of my patients. I was going to make an exception for my favourite patient's funeral, but then John died and his funeral was planned for the same time. I felt bad about missing it, but of course, family takes precedence. His daughter seemed to understand when I told her.
Last night was the visitation. It was so good to see my relatives, although the occasion was very sad. Of course, the open casket was important for some, for closure. I understand, and I'm okay with it as long as the person is presentable i.e. not burned, for example.
Speaking of that, they are planning to cremate him. I personally dislike the whole idea of it, especially if there is no permanent grave marker to show the person ever lived. So, to add to my blog, Funeral Plans, do NOT cremate me, you may do an open casket, and you may document the day with a video or pictures. Yes, Finns take pictures at funerals, and I'm totally okay with that.
Today the funeral service was held at the funeral home and officiated by a Justice of the Peace. She was the same person who married them a few months ago. John was from an Irish Catholic family, but I guess he wasn't very "Catholic" anyway, so they did a secular funeral, which is so different from Christian funerals,where there is a sadness amidst hope.
The eulogies were good. Even my sister spoke, which I thought was very brave. I couldn't do that. I also learned things abot John that I never heard in the five years I've known him. He had a very supportive network of family and friends.
Afterward, we went to a local pub. Apparently, it's what the Irish do. I'm glad we went.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bookaholic's Dream

There is a group on called Bookaholics. We share our common socially acceptable addiction; not with a view to change, like Alcoholics, but to find someone who “gets” us. We’ve often talked about how cool it would be to be locked in to a bookstore all night. We would be the only ones there. We could browse all night, and discuss books and the life of a bookaholic. Of course, we live all across Canada, so it would probably never work, but dreaming’s free.

Death in the Family

Outside my window...a rainy Monday.
I am thinking...My brother in law died yesterday from his brain tumour. He was 54. They had given him a prognosis of eight months and he lived nine. However, he was paralyzed on one side for the whole time. My husband and I had gone to visit him on Friday night. At that point he was unable to speak, but he was aware of people and could squeeze my hand and I think he was able to understand what was said to him. His sister was there for a while and then left, so we had some private time with him. My husband prayed for him, specifically that God would be with him and that John would turn to Christ. Then he shared the gospel with him. I’m so glad we had that opportunity. That’s the only thing that gives me comfort; that he may have cried out to God and we will see him in Heaven. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate. I have one night off from work, that’s all that’s allowed for a brother in law at my work. My husband gets four days if he needs it, but he’s only taking one day off. The funeral will be this weekend, I think.
I am have a productive week.
I am thankful for...the opportunity we had to share the gospel with John.
I am wearing...jeans and an olive green top.
From the kitchen...homemade jalapeno poppers; arugala, feta and watermelon salad; curried chicken thighs and rice and beans.
I am hearing...a cooking show on the Food Network.
I am reading...The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund.
Around the Mom is really having a hard time with John’s death, because even after all this time, it still reminded her of my father’s death forty four years ago.
One of my favourite things...Pinterest. I just discovered it. As if I needed another internet distraction! Goodbye, Productivity!
Some plans for the two nights. Clean the house in preparation for guests this weekend. Attend the viewing Friday afternoon. Go on a dinner cruise of Toronto harbour with two other couples on Friday night. Host out of town family for the weekend. Funeral on Saturday. Church on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Sept. 12, 2011.

Outside my window...a warm, sunny day. Nice.
I am thinking...yesterday was the anniversary of the terror attacks in the U.S. It was a loss of innocence, or at least,naïveté. Now we all know these things can happen anywhere. So many lives changed forever; children growing up without dads. I know what that's like.
I am find enough continuing education hours to keep up my Oncology nursing certification. It made a big difference that I couldn't attend the annual conference this year.
I am thankful youngest daughter. She has started her first year of Peace and Conflict Studies: Specialist in her second year at U of T. She has met some people at a frosh event.
I am capris and a print top.
From the kitchen...roast chicken with pasta, feta and arugala salad. Ready made from the store. It's a lazy day.
I am hearing...inane teenage boy conversations on the train.
I am reading...The Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner.
Around the house...Our dog has been sick and has eye ointment for a weepy eye. Part of our front lawn needed to be seeded due to grubs. Our van has been sold. My husband is enjoying his work. My mom is not able to sleep well with her CPAP machine. A little bird flew into our window and then stood on the deck, stunned, for a few hours.
One of my favourite things...finding new recipes. I'm planning the menu for our fall dinner party next month.
Some plans for the four nights. Luncheon at church on Sunday. A friend will be visiting from out of town.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Sept.6, 2011.

Outside my window...a cool fall day.
I am favourite patient is now palliative. I went to visit him. He had been asleep for a day, but woke up at the sound of my voice. He said, "I'm still here, but I have to go. No regrets; I've had a good life." I said, "You're going from good to better", (since he is a Christian). He said, "You've got that right." I was glad I got to say hello to him, and good bye, too. You don't often get those opportunities. I've nursed him over six years and have had many great conversations with him. He is 87.
I am finalize the sale of our old van by the end of the week.
I am thankful eldest got the placement she wanted. She had an interview this week and got in on an oncology unit for social work. That's my girl!
I am wearing...jeans, a long sleeved top and a sweater. Oh, and running shoes. I hope the days of sandals aren't over already.
From the kitchen...chicken breasts, macaroni and cheese and corn on the cob.
I am hearing...quiet.
I am reading...Belonging, by Robin Lee Hatcher, on Kindle.
Around the house...our girls were home this past week and prepping for school. They also had friends over. We went out to eat a few times, and my youngest came with me to tour the HMCS Montreal, a Canadian warship. Of course I had to bribe her with lunch and shopping downtown, but hey, I didn't want to go alone. I've been on a warship four times now, and I've seen more on other ships where I've been allowed to go below decks to see how they really live. This one was restricted to the top deck only. Today my eldest went back to university for her final year of her undergrad in Social Work. My youngest starts next week.
One of my favourite things...time with my family. We genuinely enjoy each other's company.
Some plans for the three nights. Perhaps have a few of the new couples at church over for dinner on Sunday.