Becoming Sir Smokey

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Page 2 of letter sent the to Queen. Words obliterated for this blog.

It all started when a woman with a charming accent approached my book table at the tradeshow in Melville at Christmas.

“My mother’s name was Susan Harris.” Her blue eyes and my brown ones sparkled at each other and an animated conversation broke out. She is British and I knew my name Harris traced back to the Governor of Trinidad (1846-1854) when the island was colonized by Britain.  Governor Harris established the education system there and Harris Promenade is named after him.

The woman and her daughter were duly impressed. As far as they knew, they were not related to Governor Harris but nonetheless wanted to check out the lineage.

“What’s his first name?” asked the daughter excitedly. “I’ll check it out on Ancestry dot com.”

Unfortunately, I did not know. I did not even remember that he was Lord Harris, a Baron  of noble birth. Wikipedia names him the Right Honourable George Francis Robert Harris, 3rd Baron Harris, Governor of Trinidad. I had researched the history when his great grand nephew Conrad Harris passed away in 2015 but the details seemed to have been laid to rest with the body.

“I’ll just check Harris and Trinidad. Something will come up.” The daughter concluded with a smile. The mother purchased her books and we parted.

As a writer and researcher my interest soared to the extent where I wanted to create a publication on this notable statesman, a comprehensive record that would serve as a legacy to the family and future generations, as well as for citizens of the island Lord Harris governed. Finding accurate information proved difficult, so I decided to write to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for help in obtaining historical records and photographs from the British  archives. I was keeping the memories of 3rd Baron Harris alive as I had done for the penny in my book, Little Copper Pennies: Celebrating the Life of the Canadian One-cent Piece 1858-2013, so I decided to send a copy of the book to the Queen to support my request. As I searched for a business card to include with the book, my eyes fell on Smokey’s bookmark. The back of it contains a list of my books and my contact information. Gold.

And that’s how Smokey’s picture is winging it’s way to the UK. Like Pussy Cat who had been up to London to visit the Queen, Smokey’s picture will be seen by the Queen in London. How’s that for a lil ol’ cat on the frozen prairies?

Of course this honour mandated recognition. An update to his name. Sir Smokey.

Knighthood requires touching a sword on the right and left shoulders of the person while they kneel. Forget about pointing anything at Smokey. You won’t find him for days! Worse, don’t point a sword, I mean the steak knife I’d substituted. The only interpretation is butchering.

“Kneel Smokey.” He crouched in his final posture as a commoner. Good. The knife is in my hand pointing downward but he does not see it, so all’s okay. I touched his right shoulder, then the left with my other hand.

“I dub thee a Knight.” Blue eyes pierced my brown ones.

“Rise, Sir Smokey.”

He’s frozen.

“Rise, Sir Smokey.”

Sir Smokey rose and darted back to the heated rocks on the spa.

Kitten Smokey. Born September 1, 2011. Knighted Sir Smokey on January 4, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Case for Xmas

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Our Sunday School Christmas concerts in Trinidad were highly anticipated events that drew large audiences annually. The merrily-decorated church was packed year after year with members and well wishers who came out to enjoy the songs, poems and drama presented solo or in groups. The skit from the Teens Class was the highlight that never failed to thrill, and as the final item on the program, it brought a bright and memorable year to a close.

One December, I donned pink and stood on the pulpit with heels together and toes out, my right hand over my left on level with my waist, my shoulders squared. I bowed to the crowd, and stood upright again. Then with every ounce of energy in my tiny 12 year-old body, I belted my monologue:

 

Here’s a question, tell me pray?
Should we call it Xmas day?
Or is it Christmas we should say?
Is it X or Christ?

The audience waited with bated breath as I replied to the rhetorical question posed by a poet whose name I did not know and which an Internet search in 2017 still did not reveal. Xmas was a short and convenient word of the season. It saved ink and space when signing postcards. Was it really a big deal if it’s X or Christ in the “Christmas” word? But in Christian circles it mattered. It mattered immensely, even to this day (run a search), and I too was convinced by the proof I delivered that night.

Who was He of matchless birth?
Heaven’s glory left for earth,
Coming here with lowly birth,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

Who was He that wise men three,
Travelled from afar to see,
Bringing gifts so liberally,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

A few “amens” had rung out from the senior ladies, their heads and hats bobbing up and down.

Who did travel through the land,
Always with a helping hand,
Healing folks at His command,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

Who did die upon the tree?
Suffered there for you and me.
Bore our sins on Calvary,
It wasn’t X but Christ.

The nodding and bobbing had continued though the church was quiet, conviction heavy as my high-pitched tones commanded the night air. Then the verdict was delivered in crescendo, with passion that still marks my person to this day:

Let us then with one accord,
Honour give unto the Lord.
Call it CHRISTMAS, that’s the word!
For it isn’t X, but Christ.

I had executed the poem with intonations and flourishes the way my principal had trained me for choral speaking when I represented my school at age 9, and it accrued a level of sacredness tantamount to the Holy Scripture. I bowed, acknowledged the thunderous clapping and cheers by making eye contact with the crowd from right to left as he had demonstrated to me, before exiting the stage through a side door.  

Decades later the question resurrected as I wrote my Christmas alphabet books. Words beginning with the letter x are often challenging to find, but it was easy this time. Both An Alphabet of the First Christmas and Christmas A to Z  contain the word Xmas, although the other 25 words used in each book are different.

It was during the research for the books that I came across the knowledge that X means Christ in the Greek language. X comes from the Greek letter Chi which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, which in English is Christ. Therefore Xmas was derived by interchanging Christ with to give us Xmas. (http://www.dictionary.com/e/xmas-christogram/). In this context then it is not sacrilegious to use Xmas, for it is in fact Christmas in a combination of letters from two languages. The wise men did bring gifts to X.

Friends on social media, teachers, media personnel and adults in general have observed to me that the origin and meaning of Xmas is new to them, and they discovered this knowledge through my alphabet books. I am pleased that “elementary” alphabet books have brought enlightenment to adults and it is my prayer that I will inspire and educate all the days of my life.

It gives me peace to know that the Bible tells us that any who calls on Jesus Christ shall be saved, and this means “Christ” in any language.

I still wear pink but as an adult I have a different and definitive answer than the preteen in the little church. X or Christ is good for me.

Merry Xmas. Christ is born. I wish you a happy and holy season.

How Not To Kidnap A Cat

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 From idyllic island to metropolitan cities to rural farm. From squishing sand with toes, to  squeezing into pumps, to skirting squelchy mud in boots. Oceans blue tipped with foamy white. Streets buzzing with lights and life. Expanses of serene space.

And barn cats. I realize I have had 43 of them over the years, their numbers shrinking even as our bonding grows. Tears falling over the meal for a fattened fox. For the babies that die.

“They’re only barn cats.” The neighbour was patient. “Good for catching mice but multiplying too fast.”

She meant well. The “good for catching mice but multiplying too fast” is but a pendulum that swings too quickly, blurring the useful with the burdensome. They catch the mice that eat the grain, gnaw the boxes and nibble rubber hoses in the equipment. They’re supposed to keep away snakes too, but I’m not persuaded that they do.

The garter snakes, though harmless, never fail to evoke blood-curdling screams and high-pitched shrieks. Through it all, the cats remain unperturbed, carrying along with the more important duties of the moment—cleaning, sleeping, eating. Store-bought food for barn cats adds up quickly, too. Mice and birds are almost non-existent over winter, and gophers stir only in their sleep, dreaming of hide and seek when they pop out of their holes, upright as a soldier paying homage to a superior.

Cat poop accumulating over the wintry months awaiting the spring cleanup is aversion enough to abandon farming. Although they’re good to dig and cover in the summer, eight months of snow on the ground does not encourage the animals to find faraway spots for toilet regimes. The putrid smell intensifies with warmer temperatures. But the chore of cleaning is relegated to another, as is the decision to abandon or not. Yes, many find the threshold of tolerance for cats small, and the smaller the number in the barn, the happier a situation it is.

Far from the perfumeries of department stores, from exclusive scents in duty-free shops, I find myself in the smelly barn the felines haunt. Daring. Hoping. Inexperienced.

“There’s a new white kitten at the farm.” My husband had kept this information for the lights out moment. I had bolted upright in the darkness, a gopher at attention.

“A white kitten?!”

Three words formed a question, an exclamation, and a statement that would one day be wrapped in print, though not known yet. My husband had not anticipated my level of interest or he might have reserved the subject for the morning when he would be more alert. But time of day, or the fact that he is not a night person and wakes up early for his day job, was inconsequential. In halting tones, the good man manoeuvred my torrent, patiently explaining and describing the kitten. Over and over. That he had known me for years and still chose to bring up the kitten topic at a time he was hoping to sleep undisturbed was his only error in judgment at that moment, or perhaps it was my flaw that I was impatient.

Insight: Allocate time for certain subjects and keep within the timelines. Ask to get back to the person if the time runs out. Gauge the appropriateness of a topic before tackling it.

The next day was Sunday, and after church I dropped my daughter at a friend’s house, assuring the mom I’d be back within an hour. My husband was harvesting canola and I usually took him his lunch. Knowing that I’d want a kitten-moment, he did not drive to the house immediately as he usually did when he saw my car. There was time.

Meanwhile, I had to execute my plan. I drove slowly up the lane. The animals must not be startled. Parking my CRV close to the house, I crept out, leaving the driver’s door ajar. I unlocked the trunk. The cardboard box was still there with its lonely sausage tenant. It would not be lonely for long.

I tiptoed across the dry yard, my runners soundless. I stopped breathing as I approached the barn. Almost. The cutest, most adorable little creature sat under the riding mower, the large machine shrinking its size even more in comparison. It looked dirty white, as if it had passed through smoke. Its tail was dark, eyes heaven-blue. Tranquil. My husband had estimated it to be about five weeks old.

Insight: Don’t fall into complacency based on appearance.

I froze. I knew I had to build trust since the wild little thing was watching me warily, prepared to bolt at any sudden movement. My husband had cautioned about its energy.

Insight: Especially with the new, take time to build trust. This holds true for jobs, people, animals…

Ten minutes later, I was glued to the same spot. Furry heads rubbed against my jeans and I patted them, bending slowly, taking advantage of the moment to inch along with their bodies, closer to the feeding dish where the welcome party drifted—the sure sign that petting time was over.

The little kitten was no match for the eight heads that converged on the oval tray. She could not get close to the food. Eventually she hopped inside the tray and took a cautious bite, chewing at a tortoise’s pace. Cats left as tummies swelled. Only four remained. I must hurry.

With the sun smiling gold on my silver car behind me, I stretched my hand inside the dark shed toward old, brownish-grey Strawberry. Even though it was only a slight movement, the little kitten cowered a few steps behind, as if she had a built-in alert. I held on to Strawberry and the kitten came back to the food. I watched from the corner of my eye. The hazy head dipped in the bowl. And I pounced.

Smokey on CTV television, June 2016

Insight: Make discernment an ongoing study.

Yeoooowww.” Instantly the remaining food-crazed cats fled from the bowl, their eyes round and brown. Eighteen claws aimed at me as the five-week-old kitten struggled, hissing and spitting, meowing and yowling. My treasure secure, I fled. How I ran. Who had moved the car so far away? Blood oozed from the back of my hand, a scratch or a bite I couldn’t tell.

Insight: Create a workstation that flows sequentially. In this case, the escape vehicle must be close to the loot. Avoid bottleneck situations.

My husband was incredulous when he heard the story later. “Didn’t you wear gloves?”

Gloves? I was inexperienced.

Insight: Safety gear is never an option. Seek it out, wear it, don’t compromise. Have the necessary tools at hand.

But gloves were a lesser concern on that day. Mama Cat was the feared enemy. Which one of the clowder was the mother? I had encountered a female cat with babies before, snarling and springing at me two minutes after I’d fed the ingrate. I had no desire to repeat the incident. My fevered brain registered the foible in my plans.

Insight: Seek advice on how to reach a goal. Research. Create a sustainable plan.

Cats streamed into the sunshine. Curiosity or mutiny? Deep throated sounds reached my ears. I screamed my husband’s name but he was in a combine kilometers away. Out of sight. Sweating, terrified and whimpering, I tried to intimidate the four-legged crew while struggling with their scratching, biting offspring.

“Shoo. Bad cats!”

The bottleneck seemed longer than a line of rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon but eventually I crossed the distance to the waiting car. Dropping the yowling kitten in the box, I slammed the door shut before collapsing onto the driver’s seat. The little animal was petrified, jumping out of the box and moving at whirlwind speed from the back to the front to underneath the seats. Would she settle near the brakes? Or worse, use the soft fabric seat for a toilet or scratching post?

It had taken all of 15 minutes but my time in cat hell had felt like an eternity.

My husband recounted later that night that he “saw silver shooting at a speed that’s not allowed on the highway.”

Silence.

“I had no lunch.”

More silence. It was impossible to dismiss the twinge at the reminder that he had been hungry all afternoon.

Remorseful, I urged, “Hurry up and shower. We have a guest.”

In the bathroom, he introduced himself to the guest in the makeshift litter box my friend had provided. She had also offered a “sheep”—long piece of plush faux fur that imitated the warmth and feel of Mama Cat’s fur. I had accepted both the box and the fur gratefully as I had been totally unprepared for a kitten. Fortunately, too, the supermarket was open and I was able to procure kitten food.

And so it came about that we had our first house kitten. Born in a barn, as wild a cat as there ever was, likely to have been devoured like so many others.

But no. The vet pronounced her a ‘him.’ The hint of smog that enveloped his fur inspired his name. Smokey. He once locked himself in our car and the CAA was called, leading to the publication of Smokey’s Lock-Out in the August 2014 issue of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

As he grew older, the hint of dark became lines, showing his Lynx Siamese blood.

“I could teach children to count using your stripes, Smokey,” I cooed to the lovable pet. One tail, two eyes, four paws, 10 stripes…”

Published 2015

And therein was born the idea for a second children’s book. (My first one was Little Copper Pennies for Kids).

But I thought counting to ten was too limited a market for a book, so with a little more thought, Alphabet on The Farm was created. I’m writing this story on May 21, 2014. Today my publisher accepted Alphabet on The Farm, and it will be printed in both English and French. This book will also be the first of my books to be translated into another language. My most recent success.

Insight: Even the mundane, despised or insignificant hold seeds of promise. A cat or a castle offers opportunities and with a bit of creativity one can find success in the ordinary.

I know for sure that whatever life offers I can make good of it. In a classroom or a barn room. If lemons, I’ll make hot sauce. If cat-napping, please wear gloves. More and more I am persuaded that anyone can find success right where they are.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. His promises remain with me to the farthest part of the earth. He’ll be with me. I was born on the sparkling island of Trinidad and I was successful there. He equipped me and blessed my ministry and career. Upon immigrating to Canada, I remained confident that I can be successful anywhere I locate, at anything my hands find to do.

Published 2016 by Borealis Press

From idyllic island to metropolitan cities to rural farm, I walk in His will and I delight in Him. He leads and I listen, and follow. The Lord promises exceedingly abundantly above what I can ask or think if I please Him. I’ve learned to be content though it was a long road pitted with discontented twists and gloomy points. But God never left, He never forsook. I do my part and He does His. And that makes me realize that I’m successful not because of who I am but because of who He is.

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

A chapter from 10 1/2 SKETCHES: INSIGHTS ON BEING SUCCESSFEL RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE

Copyright 2015 by Susan Harris

Near-death Experiences caused by Pain

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Photo credits of Google Images

No two people process pain the same way.

Each person’s tolerance to pain varies. By “tolerance” I refer to the maximum pain an individual is able to endure before taking evasive actions. Because of these variances, the Pain Scale was created to help gauge pain and treat it accordingly. The scale uses the numbers zero through 10 and each number is assigned a description.

In this blog I refer to my experiences with acute pain, and by acute pain I mean pain that has a time span of up to six months, and which is directly related to tissue injury or a short-term condition (such as pregnancy in my case).

While I often felt my pain was 1,000 and that a new scale needed to be developed for it, the pain scale I refer to was created by a pediatrician named Dr. Donna Wong, back in the early 1980s. Originally it was created using pictures for children but has since evolved and is widely used in hospitals with patients of all ages.

ProHealth describes the pain scale on its website and breaks down the numbers into mild pain, moderate pain and severe pain as indicated below:

0 – Pain free.

Mild Pain – Nagging, annoying, but doesn’t really interfere with daily living activities

1 – Pain is very mild, barely noticeable. Most of the time you don’t think about it.

2 – Minor pain. Annoying and may have occasional stronger twinges.

3 – Pain is noticeable and distracting, however, you can get used to it and adapt.

Moderate Pain – Interferes significantly with daily living activities.

4 – Moderate pain. If you are deeply involved in an activity, it can be ignored for a period of time, but is still distracting.

5 – Moderately strong pain. It can’t be ignored for more than a few minutes, but with effort you still can manage to work or participate in some social activities.

6 – Moderately strong pain that interferes with normal daily activities. Difficulty concentrating.

 Severe Pain – Disabling; unable to perform daily living activities.

7 – Severe pain that dominates your senses and significantly limits your ability to perform normal daily activities or maintain social relationships. Interferes with sleep.

8 – Intense pain. Physical activity is severely limited. Conversing requires great effort.

9 – Excruciating pain. Unable to converse. Crying out and/or moaning uncontrollably.

10 – Unspeakable pain. Bedridden and possibly delirious. Very few people will ever experience this level of pain.

Photo credit of Google Images

Three times during the past 19 years I’ve been debilitated to the point where I lost consciousness. Such pain and un-wellness is the equivalent of level 10 on the scale. When I lost consciousness, I slipped into the other world. The first time it happened I was in a doctor’s office, and a family member was with me. He confirmed that the doctor could not find my heartbeat or pulse and I was “out” for three minutes. This was my first near-death experience (NDE). I experienced NDEs twice after due to unimaginable, unspeakable pain. All of these are described in my upcoming book.

Over the weekend I attended the Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild annual conference and participated in the Open Mic session. This segment afforded each writer the opportunity to read their work for three minutes. I read about my first NDE. The next morning, a fellow guild member met me in the parking lot as I was walking back to the hotel for our final session.

“I enjoyed your reading last night. It was interesting.” She smiled as we fell in stride.

I asked her the first question that comes to my mind when the topic arises. “Have you heard of similar experiences.”

“Oh yes,” she responded casually, “the elders experience it during meditation.”

“It’s not the same at all!” I hastened to clarify. “Mine was caused by a health issue, not through meditation or prayer. It may sound similar but their causes are different.”

She nodded but did not pursue the conversation further. I, on the other hand, pondered it all day. What became apparent was the confusion about NDE, out-of-body (OOB) and spiritual practices. While a NDE and meditation involves being OOB, the difference between them is the root CAUSE. “The fruit is determined by the root,” as the maxim goes.

A comparison of fog and rain adds clarity. Both are forms of moisture and very prevalent on the prairies where I live. Their condensation leaves the ground damp and wet. It is impossible for me to tell if it is fog or rain that had left droplets on my car simply by looking at the wet car. The difference between fog and rain clouds is altitude at which they are found. Fog is cloud that sit heavy in the air while rain falls from clouds high above. But one cannot call fog, rain, and vice versa.

An NDE can happen to anyone. An NDE is not a religious experience; it is about mortality, and all humans are mortal. Meditation by contrast, is an induced state that is brought on by the choice of an individual; it is not natural to human beings as death and mortality are.

Individuals who are near death often have out-of-body experiences as described in the works of Dr. Raymond Moody, Dr. Jeffrey Long, Dr. Mary Neal, Rev. Don Piper, and Pastor Todd Burpo, to name a few authors. On the other hand, individuals engaged in meditative worship and incantations, such as in eastern religions and tribal practices, often relate out-of-body experiences but they are in no way close to death.

I want to make it clear that I do not subscribe to the practice of seeking out-of-body experiences through meditation. I do not endorse it. My experiences are wholly derived from acute, short term health issues, and I approach NDEs and OOBs in this context in my book.

Website links:

http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=20019

(http://wongbakerfaces.org/us/wong-baker-faces-history/)

http://www.pearsoncanada.ca/media/highered-showcase/9780133249781/M30_KOZI7610_03_SE_C30.pdf

What is God’s gender?

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When a friend responded to one of my posts on social media, “What if God is a ‘she’ and not a ‘he’?” I decided to write this blog.

Pronouns assigned to God has traditionally been masculine, perhaps drawn in the same vein of patriarchal language used in older societies. Books, laws, national anthems use the masculine gender for inclusivity. The term “man” covered men, women, boys and girls. It could be argued that the masculine gender is word-efficient and makes for easier reading (or singing).

God is a spirit as declared in the Bible in John 4:24. Merriam Webster dictionary defines spirit as “a supernatural being or essence.” This is non-physical, and as such, gender cannot be ascribed to spirits. Yet gender helps us understand the abstract concept of spirit. We have to refer to God as something and one cannot altogether avoid using pronouns in smooth conversation or writing. The gender “it” that is used to denote gender neutrality seems demeaning as a reference for God. Perhaps if there had been neuter gender, male gender, female gender and spirit gender, the confusion would have never arisen.

Our natural minds cannot conceptualize the supernatural in its entirety. Our vocabulary do not contain words for the “Spirit gender”, so at best, we describe spirit as He, in terms that are concrete as they help us understand what is abstract. Spiritual “eyes” are what’s needed to see God in His spiritual capacity.

In the Old Testament, God appeared as men to Abraham (Genesis 18). John 4:24 states, “God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth.” (Note the word “him”.) Three times in the New Testament Jesus refers to God as Father, as maleness. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology identifies over 165 references to God as Father in direct and metaphorical references.

The Bible is the lens through which I interpret God. The Bible is God’s inspired word and it uses masculine pronouns and words in describing God. This helps me understand the “person” of God but at the end of the day, God is a Spirit whom I refer to as He.

On hot topics like God’s gender, people can’t be told anything if they’ve already made up their minds. I am not offended if someone refers to God as anything but male. Instead, I am happy they’re thinking of God, for to be open to God means He can yet reveal Himself and help them secure Eternity.

Susan Harris has been touched by Eternity and desires that all will inherit it.

Two Injunctions

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Today is my birthday and I will not be on social media. Unlike birthdays gone, I want it simple. Quiet. For the first time my timeline on Facebook is closed.

When I chose the theme of God’s Direct Words for my 1-Minute Prayer page, https://www.facebook.com/1-Minute-Prayer-368981386624849/ I could not have foreseen what would be posted today. I started on January 1, 2017, from Genesis. While Jesus’ words are easily identifiable in red letters in the New Testament, God’s words are not identified. I had an overwhelming desire to read what God has said and thus “God’s Direct Words” came into being. As I read I trembled with the people, bowed in worship and relived revival in my soul. After all, I had heard His voice speak to me literally during on my first visit to Heaven in 1998, and that voice reverberates when I read His speech.

The words of Almighty God in today’s post are, “Then he is to take off these clothes and put on others, and carry the ashes outside the camp to a place that is ceremonially clean. The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.” Leviticus 6:11-13 (NIV, author italics added.)

The injunction seared in my spirit: The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out.

Not once but twice the reminder is given to keep the fire burning. There is an urgency that it must not go out.

Why such an urgency? What happens in the interim between it going out and being relit? It is difficult to rekindle the fire? Is it impossible to rekindle once it goes out?

Questions run through my mind but I don’t need to know why. I am prepared to be obedient.

Trips, gifts, restaurants are not on my birthday agenda. My theme for this year is heaven-minded. My purpose changed on June 24th after seeing Heaven for the fourth time. I want instead for men and women, boys and girls to make it to Eternity. I want to normalize conversations about the afterlife, encourage the sick and assure those afraid of dying.

To do this I must keep the fire on the altar of my heart burning on the first day of my upcoming year, set a strong flame so it will not go out. Just me and God.

I’ll catch up with you tomorrow.

Susan Harris’ upcoming book, Touched by Eternity, details her trips to Heaven, encounters with angels, visions and miraculous healings. 

Visit 1 Minute Prayer at https://www.facebook.com/1-Minute-Prayer-368981386624849/

(this blog was pre-scheduled on Oct 2)

The Shadow

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“You need Home Care.” My OB/GYN’s tone was urgent and he picked up the phone to arrange for a nurse to come to our address. He explained the reason for his call to the person who answered, and was placed on hold. Suddenly the call was disconnected but immediately he redialed, again explaining the urgency of the situation. One more time the call was disconnected, perhaps in an attempt to transfer it. I was struck by his empathy of my condition and his determination to get a nurse to attend to me at home. For a third time this wonderful doctor redialed the number but I never knew if he got hold of the department. For that moment I slumped forward on his desk.

Simultaneously with my memory of slumping on the desk is that I am walking on soft green grass going uphill. The place is bright as if the sun is full out and it is daytime. On my right, a huge person strides and I walk in his shadow. The shadow encompasses me in a circle similar to the way the midday sun casts a shadow around a person (as opposed to the evening when shadows are long.) I feel as if I know him, this person. I know where I am. I am in Heaven in the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1.)

(snippet from my manuscript Touched by Eternity)

NDE Research of Dr. M. Sabom

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Ever since my near-death experience (NDE) on June 24, 2017, I have been devouring literature on NDE. In particular, I want to show that the after life in Heaven is directly linked to a relationship with Jesus Christ, through the acceptance of His death on the cross for the sin of all mankind. Dr. Michael Sabom has done some research and I share a link his findings below. I credit the intoroduction below to Dr. Micheal Sabom.

***

Dr. Micheal Sabom is a cardiologist whose first book, Recollections of Death, is considered to be a landmark in the field of near-death research. He is a leading authority with over twenty years in the field. In 1994, he founded the Atlanta Study which is the first comprehensive investigation of its kind into NDEs. Its purpose was to document the life-and-death dramas played out in operating rooms and hospital beds – and the simultaneous events unseen by medical personnel but reported with astonishing clarity and conviction by nearly 50 individuals who returned from death’s door. Dr. Sabom’s latest book, Light and Death, shares with the world his findings from the Atlanta Study. Sabom, also a born-again Christian, scrutinizes NDEs in light of what the Bible has to say about death and dying, the realities of light and darkness, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Click on the link below for the findings from Sabom’s Atlanta Study:

http://www.near-death.com/science/experts/michael-sabom.html

September 7, 2017

With Love to Dalip Khadaroo, “Chaser Brother”

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February 7, 1943- June 17, 2017
Christened Dalip Khadaroo, my cousin was best known by his nickname, Chaser. To us and the Putkoo children, “brother” was added, and colloquially the names morphed into Chaser Brother. This affectionate title was derived from his younger sister, Roselyn, who called him Brother, and since she was our hero(ine) growing up, all the cousins followed her lead.

Chaser Brother chased life, and finally found it in Jesus, and today he gazes into the face of the One who also calls him Brother, for both he and Jesus have the same Father – God. And to the church, his name was transposed as is customary in churches in Trinidad, to Brother Chaser.

Even before he came to Christ, Chaser Brother was respectful and kind to us younger cousins. He was an adult when I was a kid, and I can say honestly I never heard him direct a harsh word towards us. They lived mid way down the hill when I was growing up, but later moved to the top of the hill. We’d often stop in at their houses to lime with the girls there. His wife, Aunty Molly, was fondly called Bhaujii (pronounced bough-jee), a word from the Hindi language. Family relations are specific to the speaker in the Hindi language, and Roselyn correctly called Aunty Molly “Bhaujii” which is used of the elder brother’s wife, and copiously, we too (incorrectly) called her that. Bhaujii’s youngest sister was my sister’s friend at school, so whenever Shawn visited Chaser Brother’s house, we went over more frequently. And as is customary in the hospitable way of living, we were fed with Bhaujii’s good cooking. Few surpassed them in the culinary department.

Chaser Brother was a skilled carpenter, a natural at wood work and construction. He remained slim and tall throughout his life, passing on good looks to the offspring. It’s over twenty years since I left, and therefore have not seen him, but I have so many memories. One that stands out was when I was pregnant and craving good ol’ Trinidad-style soup. We brainstormed all the cooks and the request for my soup went to Chaser Brother and Bhaujii’s house, with the warning that there must be no pepper in the soup. I drooled while I waited. When the food arrived and was set before me, the smell was out-of this world, that divine aroma of hot congo pepper that I feel certain must run in the genes of the Khadaroos by now. The taste verified this, to my sisters’ delight, as they feasted on the fare. A second request to prepare soup with NO PEPPER was issued. Bhaujii was appalled when the reason was explained because they “had not put any pepper in the soup”. The next day a bowl of the most delicious soup arrived for me, with the message no one in Chaser Brother’s house could eat the tasteless food that Susie wanted. That was the last time I had such good soup.

Aunty Molly, Bhaujii, I hope you will carry on making soup. Like Pat Schwiebert’s character Grandy in Tear Soup, may you blend the memories of your life with your husband as seasonings to carry on, the good times and the bad times, the silly times and the sad times, the praying times together. May you never forget even one precious memory of the 56 years you shared together. May Jesus be your joy and hope, for in these you will find strength.

Roselyn, dear cousin, like the waves that crash on the shores of the Atlantic that separates me from you all, so too the turbulence of the loss of this beloved older brother bounce in your heart. Your soft heart for the lonely, the abandoned, the forsaken, people and animals alike, which propels you to adopt, take in, care for. Mourn your loss, and during the mourning, hold on to the hope that joy will come in the morning. For you know Jesus in an intimate way.

Kenny (and Jenny), Geeta and husband, Rollie (and Penny), Wayne (and Renuka), Shirley (and husband), Anil (and wife), Dave (and wife), Sherry (and husband), in this twist of becoming fatherless on Father’s Day, may you feel the everlasting arms of Father God carrying you. When you look back and wonder how life went on when you could not go on, may you see the footprints on the sand, and know that the One with print in His hands protects you. I know all of you have attended church and invited Jesus into your hearts, and this turning point today, this dying which cannot defy true living, is where you pick up the baton to ensure the legacy of your father is there for the next generation. Go on and grieve, for you grieve because you love, but know that your grief will find a resting place because of whom you believe.

The next generation, Chaser Brother’s grandchildren, the ones he loved so dearly – Shirlini, Tracy, Shain, Kerry, Kalisa, Karina, Lilyanna, Aliyah, Anil, Sry Annily, Ravi. You are third-generation Christians and called to show the grace of your legacy on the platforms your Papa could not share. You are educated and this made him so-o-o-o proud. You hold prestigious jobs. You live in luxury that he did not have access to. I urge you to be good stewards of what the Lord has blessed you with, so that when you too shall behold glory, you would hear Well done. In spite of your sorrow you can do it.

The sweet little great grandchildren, Shivana, Shaylee and Ayan are too young to understand, but will point to pictures and look among the adults for their Papa. Seat them on chairs and tell them the story of Jesus and the mansion in the sky where Papa waits for them. Put Heaven in their hearts from young.

Putkoo family, Rosa, Vikash, Cintra and kids, Sumatee, Ramdass and family, Teddy, Balliram, Steve, Sunil. My family in Trinidad. Kenny & Jenny. You/we are the ones who lived in closest proximity to Chaser Brother, and especially for those of you who still live there, your sorrow is deeper. Each time you glance at the house on the hill top your eyes will well, and your hearts will swell and you will go back in time. But even while you do, may there rise up a ray that will signal a new day. All of us abroad join you in prayers and tears to say farewell to the clay that we, too, will surrender in due time. We will not forget you in the aftermath. I will not forget.

And so as it written that is appointed unto man once to die but after death comes the judgement, Brother Chaser has died. Now he is in heaven awaiting his crowns, and waiting for you. Don’t harden those hearts that are now tender because of the sobering reality of death, but determine to change and live for eternity so that you will reunite with him.

May everyone who is impacted by this loss by the loss of Chaser Brother be comforted with the knowledge that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And may the blessings and peace of God eternal fill your hearts and minds until the coming of Jesus Christ.

Remembering Asha

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Asha Dhanraj-Ramdhan.
Childhood friend, playfellow, classmate.
Living four houses down from mine, we spent the early growing years walking, talking, eating chow and other similar important things. Those idyllic hours spent in the river, baking in the golden sun, and cooling off in a splash are gems that twinkle in the light of time. What a good swimmer you were, a water baby. When the grass was cut in the dry season, from “our” section of the river near Seeta’s house we could look downstream and see you if you chanced to be there.

You were so beautiful, yet so unspoiled by it. Looks did not change the kindness of heart or who you hung out with. One of our teachers nicknamed you Baby Doll. I called you Blue Eyes, based on the bluish hue the white of your eyes took on in your light complexioned face, contrasting against translucent brown pupils. The group of us (you, Seeta, Margaret, Minnoutie and I) would walk to school, and back, on the joy-filled hilly roads of Small Trace. You were shy and didn’t claim the spotlight, yet you’d be the one to suggest we “stone down a mango” and was very skilled at that task. Skilled at so many things in the domestic and outdoors. Your strong arm made you good at cricket and sports in general.

You were always beautifully dressed, a result of two of your older sisters being seamstresses, but mainly because you were so attractive and had a great figure. You’d looked good in a rice bag if you wore one.

After high school sent us separate ways, you spent more time with Seeta. I caught up intermittently as occasions and timetable permitted. You once hosted a party for your birthday which I attended, and was awed to learn you had cooked the food by yourself. A true servant heart. So hospitable and kind.

Accent perfume was the new rage when you got married, and our gift to you was a lavish set. You knew us so well that you predicted we’d bring a gift of scent. Yet the bottled fragrance faded in the glory of you gowned in white, your personality and womanliness exuding only what your Maker could create. My sister, Marilyn, was the MC for your wedding.

You attended open air services with us, meetings at our house, and once our church showed a film in the yard of your family home which had the hugest yard in the neighbourhood. As usual, there was a call for salvation at the end. I know that when you invited Jesus into your heart in your early years, your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That day you belonged to Jesus and have since belonged, and now you are in His presence.

When your cousin, Mala, and I got to know each other in A’Levels, our relationship rekindled. We lost touch after our paths took us to separate locations on this glorious earth. A few times I visited Standard, but your home was elsewhere. Thanks to Facebook, I’ve caught up a bit over the last couple of years

Mother. Called this revered name by Tracy Ann, Stacy Ann and Shelly Ann. Young ladies I’ve never met but whose genes carry the kindness and grace of the friend of my elementary years. Grieve this day. Grieve your loss. Grieve the way you know best how to. Tomorrow and always, as often as you need. But live in such a way that you will be reunited in the appointed time.

Husband. Roy. Called by the one whose voice no more whispers his name, but his heart will everlastingly hear it. Grieve the wife of your youth and live in such a way that you will be reunited at the appointed time.

Daughter. Called this by Mrs. Dhanraj, “Tanty”, now in her very senior years and whose pain is unfathomable.

Sister. Called this by Shamella, Usha, Molly, Shiann, Sandra, Dolly, Golly, Samdaye, Shawn, Sookdeo, Persad, Deodath and Russell. Grieve your loss. The family gatherings will never be the same but I urge you to live in such a way that you will be reunited at the appointed time.

Aunt. Called by Kimberly, Kelly Ann, Lisa, Mukesh, Brian, Barry, Indira, and scores of nieces and nephews whom I do not know. Make the time count. Revisit the memories and laugh. Grieve, and be thankful for the years you shared, and live in such a way that you will be reunited at the appointed time.

Neighbours, friends, acquaintances, all tottering by the void of a world with Asha-no-more – may you find peace in the face of mortality.

May Jesus be the comfort of all, the hope for the days ahead, and the promise for seeing in eternity the one you love so dearly. Rest in heavenly peace, Asha.