Fathers – Heroes after God’s Heart

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 We’ll never know how Snow White or Hansel and Gretel’s lives might have played out if their father had echoed the words of the Lord Almighty, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” 2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV)

Invariably, the fairy tales have portrayed fathers as dead, absent or weak, giving in to a domineering stepmother (which has indoctrinated a negative stereotype of stepmothers and which is a whole different discussion outside this blog). Barring Beauty and the Beast, the fathers have fallen short badly.  As a result the children suffered.

We still see a number of children neglected and abandoned by fathers, but unlike Snow White, the squirrels and deer have not helped with housework or recreation. Who then have helped? Men of calibre – foster dads, step dads, adopted dads and responsible male figures who have stepped in to feed, educate and heal those boys and girls. In these fine men we denounce the myth of the fairy tales and embrace the wonder of the love of Father God. Through men like these children can understand the abstract concept of Jehoveh Jireh our Provider until they can understand the faith walk for themselves.

Today, June 16, 2019, is Fathers Day.  That biological fathers care for their offspring is duty. Obligation! Holding fast to a responsibility deserves credit.

But men who did not produce children biologically, yet show compassion, and give up their resources to raise other people’s children, are the true heroes. Spiritual fathers of the faith that channel lives to Eternity ranks high here too.

I salute your goodness, your kindness. Your true love. Happy Fathers Day.

Straw the Matriarch

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So touching to see the little kitten honour the deceased Straw. Animals are sensitive beyond what we think.

From idyllic island to metropolitan cities to rural farm. From squishing sand with my toes, to squeezing them 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. We’ve had 116 over 11 years. Their numbers shrank even as our bonding grew. Tears falling over the meal for a fattened fox. For the babies that die.

“They’re only barn cats.” The neighbour was patient with my blubbering. “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 and gnaw the boxes and nibble rubber hoses in the equipment. The poop we won’t go into.

The tears fall again. Today  for the matriarch whom we buried last night.

Straw is memorialized in my children’s book in the kitty collage. An Alphabet of the First Christmas.

Strawberry. The beautiful name I picked for the homely stray with the two kittens my brother-in-law had found.

“Every farm needs a cat,” was his simple explanation.

Straw she became, the abbreviation a fit for the lowly fields she roamed. And then it was Traw.

Traw – outsmarted the beasts that devoured the rest.

Traw – from morning to night alongside her master while he broke virgin land, sharing lunch and water. A lone man and a lone cat.

Whitey the kitten had “put on her sunhat, slung a beach bag over her shoulder, and waved goodbye” is how he described it to me. Silver, the other kitten had become a mom herself and was changing diapers. It was just him and Straw.

As he had cared for me he tenderly attended to Traw. Over the last two years she lay in front of the fire or heater and he petted her head. It was all she wanted.

When the vet returned my call yesterday all I had was two words. “She died”. Just as he had broken the news to me.

As it was in the beginning so too it was at the end. A man alone with his first companion as she breathed her last. A holy moment that was meant to be (as allergies prevented me from prolonged contact with Traw.)

I blubber and weep as I write. A death as grievous as if it were human. Our four remaining felines understood the loss, and gathered at the sound of  shovel meeting dirt. Baron paid his last respects by curling up on the site. Afterwards the man laid white stones on the dark earth.

In Genesis 1:24 God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind” (NASB).

It always goes back to the beginning. The One who carries us as we will ourselves to carry on.

Delivering the Valedictory address in Biblical Theology the same day my parrot died

Valedictorian, Biblical Theology. Presented to Susan Harris by Rev. Ricardo Joseph. 1991

In 1991 my pet parrot died just hours before I delivered the valedictory address at graduation in Biblical Theology on the idyllic island of Trinidad. I blubbered and sobbed up to minutes before the ceremony. Few knew why I was as sad as I was but I delivered the speech well. On Sunday I have to deliver the sermon at Melville Pentecostal Church on a prairie city, and I know it will also be well.

 

Strawberry was with us from Spring 2008- May 15, 2019.

To Shakilla with love

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Shakilla, your name means beautiful and your physical attractiveness attests to this. But you are beautiful on so many other levels.

Since Zanifa messaged me on Tuesday that Fareed had passed away, you have been perpetually on my mind. I’ve known Raghunath Singh’s family since I was young,  and you and Fareed since our days at Iere High School. We were all teens, then went on to become teachers. I left Siparia Senior Sec for Canada, and you went on to be principals at other schools.

You had a wonderful life with Fareed, and two handsome, intelligent sons. God’s will had aligned for you perfectly. Though Fareed is gone and memories ought to focus on the one who passed, my heart grieves for you, with you. So I write to you, friend of my youth. Fellow teacher, my table mate in the staff room, I pay tribute to you in this post. Because words of comfort and appreciation, words of gratitude, are best spoken when one is alive.

You were the glue of the social gatherings at school. You remembered everyone’s birthdays and ensured that there was cake. You planned the Christmas lunches and end of year parties, and collected money for gifts. You spearheaded my going away luncheon at the Chinese restaurant in Siparia. I scrounged up some pictures from my albums- the first one is of a few of us we took at one of the luncheons when I was leaving. Interestingly, you and Zanifa are on either side of me, with Karen. After I returned and completed my contract, you coordinated the second going away party. (Annie was also leaving and we are both sitting on the chairs. And for those who know him, our principal Rohit Ramkisson, now deceased, is in the picture with me in the red dress.)

Shakilla, you are a people-person with relational skills that few could match. You included everyone in our limes, and diplomatically handled those who disagreed. You had spirit and spunk which was always exuded with grace. Kindness and generosity marked your life, as it does to this day. In fact all the qualities I’ve mentioned above stand out, refined only by age.

After a long, long time, we connected on Facebook last year. Last year also I visited Trinidad and went down to Point Fortin to pick up my passport. Someone had mentioned that you were the principal at a school in Vessigny, so en route we stopped in to see you. But that was not your school.

I’ve prayed for you continually since I heard the news on Tuesday, and I will continue to pray. I shed tears for you because I did not know how you would carry on. I felt I had to write to you, about you. Zanifa has been very helpful in keeping me informed, thanks Zan, and I hear that you are a trooper, a strong woman, and this reassures me. Death is hard at any level, but there is an added helplessness whenever I hear of a death of someone I know, and I’m so far away.

I pray that the arms of God will continue to be your strength, that you will call on Him at anytime to uphold you, knowing that He will. May the memories of your late husband be your comfort; the special times embedded in your heart will never fade or grow dim. I pray that you remember that your tears are collected by God and bottled in Heaven (Psalm 56:8) and one day there will be no more tears. But until that time cry when you will, for your husband, your gift from God is a treasure to be grieved. And remember Eternity awaits.

I pray that from the ashes of Fareed’s death- literally ashes from a cremated body- you will rise like the Phoenix of Greek mythology, more beautiful and radiant, brilliant and purposeful. That the latter days (post Fareed) will be greater that the former days as stated in the transferable promise in the Bible.  How that looks will be unfolded, and we hold on by faith for it.

May your children call you blessed, and may you be their steadfastness as they draw from the incredible woman that you are. And may you be supported by them.

Shakilla, your name means beautiful, and you are a joy to Father God. I am proud of you.

Your friend,

Susan

P.S. Shakilla, I read your comment on Fbook “my heart is breaking but I take comfort that he is free from the pain and suffering he endured over the last two years…” I know too well about pain and suffering through challenges with my own health. I’ve added this PS to let you know that I’ve seen the other life, Heaven and Hell, and I’ve written my story of miraculous healings in Touched By Eternity which is being released in mid-April. Release from pain is indeed a blessing.

Who Shaped my Christian Growth?

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Who shaped my Christian growth?

Last night while driving home on Hwy 16 I was worshipping in the car and God spoke to me to honour the men, His servants, who have taught me in church ( hence the post). He also showed me a picture. A bottle of olive oil. The bottle is brown (like me, 😀 )and it is full of oil. I could not see the entire bottle as the focus was the neck. The word was that I am full to my neck. My physical neck is symbolic of the bottleneck, and a bottle cannot be filled beyond its neck. It is now time to pour out.

Rev. Elmore Anthony was my pastor during my elementary years (up to age 11 or so). Faithfully he drove to our home weekly to take the children in our family to Sunday School. Church service followed. The pews were hard and the hours went at snail’s pace to my child’s attention span. Yet I remember so clearly one of his sermons- someone dipped a branch in a river and the water became sweet. I asked my mother what this meant and she explained the miracle of the bitter waters at Marah becoming drinkable as God instructed Moses to dip a branch. (A river ran next to our house and I had an idea- can you guess? 😀 ) What I know now is that I was being filled, slowly and deeply with the Word, in each service. This reservoir goes deep, deep, deep. And I draw from it today. Thank you Pastor Anthony.

Rev. Ashford Nimchand became my pastor during my high school/teenage years (after Pastor Anthony moved on). By now I was more mature and active in my faith. The youth ministry bloomed strong, the Sunday School and church services filled and fed me more. The use of Greek and Hebrew in the sermons are methods I use to this day. The pews were still hard but I hardly noticed it. I continued to be filled and the reservoir deepened even more. Thank you Pastor Nimchand.

Rev. Martin Grant came next. I was away teaching, then at university so my time with him was limited. I used to write plays/skits for our youth group then, and after one production at Christmas he lavishly praised my skills set and vision for the work of the Lord. More and more filling, this time for the writer I’d become. Thank you, Pastor Grant.

Rev. Thomas Harris came next. I was at university and did not see him much, until I started to see him a lot. :-D. He gave me my first opportunity to “preach” at the annual ladies Thanksgiving service, and the invitations poured in after that. He supports me to this day. Thank you, Pastor Harris.

 Campus Crusade for Christ. I met up with CCC at university and there learned about discipleship and mentoring. I used their material in my television show Eternity, doing a four-part series in growing in God. Thank you to all, but especially Alison Callendar and Aida Hamilton who are both in Heaven.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies (PAWI) which I affiliated with since childhood and took my training in Biblical Theology. Thank you PAWI.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC) who sent missionaries to begin the PAWI, and of which I currently affiliate. Thank you PAOC.

And so fortified over the decades I launch out to speak of Eternity. Teachings and experiences in the power of the Holy Spirit. To Him be glory.

#TouchedByEternity #TrueStory #Heaven #Healing #Angels #honouringmenofGod. Originally posted on Facebook

Why Me to Write/Speak on Heaven, Healing, and Angels?

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What are my credentials to write a book about Heaven, Healing, and Angels? What skills and expertise do I have? 

In addition to my confidence and the fact that I am the expert on myself (what happened to ME) here are some facts: (Posted on social media March 5)

1. I am trained in Biblical Theology. In fact, I delivered the valedictory address at graduation, the honour given to the student who scored the highest average mark. (I’m being presented with the trophy in the photo by Rev. Joseph.) 

2. I am a trained teacher with distinction in the Teaching of Social Sciences (grade A) from the University of the West Indies. I held a teaching certificate in Trinidad for secondary school and a Professional A teaching certificate in Saskatchewan for K-12. 

3. I have post-graduate education which establishes my ability to conduct research and communicate intelligently. I can reach educated people as peers.

4. I hold a B. Sc in Management Studies with honours from the University of the West Indies.

5. I hold a certificate in Human Resources & Industrial Relations from Athabasca University, and won the scholarship for the student with the highest scores (scored all A grades). 

6. I have a diploma in Writing from the Institute of Literature.

 7. I’ve written several books which have been successful, and host a show on cable televison entitled ETERNITY.

8. I have preached the gospel for three decades to all strata of society. I can meet the simple, the broken, and the flawed because I’ve been there.

9. I am empowered by the Holy Spirit, who has no favourites and will use anyone who makes themselves available. The Lord has opened doors in secular work and “religious” ministry alike that all equipped me for writing the book Touched By Eternity. I give the Father, Son and Holy Spirit the glory, and pray to draw many to Christ. 

 Pre-order PRINT book HERE

Ebook available for pre-order at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07P6DCGGW

Will You Pray for Rwanda?

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(Posted on social media on Feb 21 due to website being down. Posted on blog on March 6, 2019)

Will you pray for Rwanda?

  1. That those who have not heard the gospel that Jesus Christ saves from sin will hear it and respond.
  2. For the love of Jesus to drive out the hate and fear associated with the genocide.
  3. For the refugees who fear to return home due to retaliation, and for host countries to grant them protection.
  4. For the fertility rate to be contained so the population can access adequate food and drinking water.
  5. The natural hazards, for rain to fall and drought to abate.
  6. For environmental issues such as deforestation resulting from the uncontrolled cutting of trees for fuel; overgrazing by animals; land degradation; soil erosion; a decline in soil fertility (soil exhaustion); wetland degradation and loss of biodiversity; and widespread poaching.
  7. For improvement in the private sector impacted by energy shortages, instability in neighbouring states, and lack of adequate transportation linkages to other countries.
  8. For success of the government-led initiatives: to become a regional leader in information and communication technologies, and to reach middle-income status by 2020. Rwanda seeks to attract investment in all sectors, but specifically in agribusiness, information and communications, trade and logistics, mining, and construction.
  9. That the Burundi and Rwanda dispute over two sq km of Sabanerwa, a farmed area in the Rukurazi Valley would be settled peacefully and quickly. Agricultural land is at premium in this overpopulated country.
  10. For the success of the efforts to create civil societies among ethnic groups – loosely associated political rebels, armed gangs, and various government forces in Great Lakes region about boundaries for Burundi, Congo, Uganda.
  11. For continued compassion as Rwanda hosts almost 160,000 refugees as of 2017; nearly all of them escaping conflict from neighbouring Burundi and the Congo. This is a reversal of the culmination of the 1994 massacres, and shows the reciprocity of nations helping nations. How this must please God.

All facts and information about Rwanda are taken from the CIA World FactBook.
https://www.cia.gov/…/resou…/the-world-factbook/geos/rw.html

 

Intro Music for TV series ETERNITY hosted by Susan Harris

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(Posted on social media on Feb 6 due to website being down. Posted on blog on March 6)

Finding unique music that was mine alone for the intro of my show ETERNITY was quite the task. I’m a writer, a cook, a Scrabble player, kitten girl, but no musician, and especially not a singer. I never even led worship in all my years of Christianity.

That’s when the Holy Spirit brought to mind the music that some of you have now heard, released privately today. My oldest brother Ronald was a singer, songwriter, preacher, teacher and television host among other things. He was killed when a driver went through the red light at a traffic crossing on the Churchill Roosevelt Hwy in Trinidad in 1998. He created the tune to the the music I used for my Intro. He never recorded it but as a young teen I remembered the tune and the words.

I then wrote my own lyrics for Eternity, and sang it (as much as could be considered singing by me , taping a little video for music teacher Barbara Waldbauer of Melville to transcribe into notes. She did an amazing job.

I sent the Intro to my siblings just now. My oldest sister wrote back that she remembered Ronald singing and playing it on his guitar. She wondered how I got it into music.

The photo of us is the last one I had of Ronald. It’s taken at Piarco airport as he dropped me off to fly back to Canada in July 1998. At the end of August a phone call announced his death.

 Ronald told me several times that my speaking ministry had an international flavour. In fact, I dedicated my first book Golden Apples in Silver Settings to him with that reminder, for I wrote the book in Canada in 2011- international as he had prophesied. Ronald sometimes drove me to speak in Trinidad, and he often remarked how non-churched people would approach the churches and remain on the curb and listen to me. Other stayed on their porches. He waited on the outskirts praying a barrier around me, and would hear the conversations of people about the little preacher lady. All wonderful comments that I would not have known otherwise. (It’s three decades since I’ve been teaching/preaching God’s word.)

Eternity takes on a new meaning as I tie Ronald’s gifting to mine’s, all for the glory of God. How humbling, how honourable to have this legacy of my brother Ronald who waits in Eternity for us. Though he is gone he lives through the music that will announce the show Eternity, which I always end with an invitation/prayer to Eternity before the same music closes it.

I can’t wrap my mind around the enormity of the impact of the what the show and the book will have, but it will be good, just as God is good, because I do this for HIM.

A 50-second unlisted clip of the music and intro to my show ETERNITY is found HERE

Review of “Becoming by Michelle Obama”

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I like US leaders first and foremost as people, even if I don’t subscribe to their politics, and I like Michelle and Barack Obama, and their children. I went to “An Evening With Michelle O” in Saskatoon in March 2017 when she was on tour promoting her book, and I’ve just finished reading it. I’ve expressed my opinion below.

 

Michelle Obama is honest and raw in recounting details of her life, personal and public. I feel a lot of sympathy for her. Her reality is her own, and her perceptions form that reality even if others perceive things differently. It must have been difficult to write about the discrimination, pickings on her appearance and dress, the comparisons that were made. She is educated and can speak well, which makes me wonder about speech writers during her public life and a research team for the book. How much writing do they in fact do? Her story is hers, she underwent the experiences, but how much of the phrasing is hers (which is the writing process) and how much did other people write (this intrigued me as a writer)?

 

She was successful at several initiatives she undertook as First Lady. She gives details of life in the White House and Secret Service that other First Ladies have not given, and the book held my interest from start to finish over the three weeks I read it (as time allowed, not because it was boring). 

 

The book is easy to read. The first part is entitled Becoming Me, and tells of Michelle’s childhood, schooling, and singleness. The second part is called Becoming Us, and focuses on meeting President Obama (as an intern then), and her struggles with his political ambition. The Obama’s marriage is admirable throughout, counseling and all. The third part is Becoming More, the public focus, and the stress that comes with it. There’s responsibility in being the focus, but there’s greater platform and possibilities, which in my opinion, outweighs the negative. Forget the WH- just getting Random House to publish “Becoming” is due to being in the WH. Barack Obama’s book “Dreams of My Father” didn’t make it until he became President. As a writer myself who do not have a team of researchers or speech writers, this intrigues me. (I wrote my 125,000 word manuscript myself and it was shortlisted in a contest.) The benefits of being First Lady do outweigh the drawbacks, especially for someone who was already civic-minded.

 

 Some aspects caused me to shake my head. Secret Service is there for a reason…don’t break the rules and flaunt it in a book afterwards. Encouraging a teenage daughter to join in disregarding the SS only sends the wrong message. Raising daughters in the White House is a privilege, not a scarring process (and mother Robinson was there full time! Such a lovely, rock-solid woman.). Contrast the safety of the daughters under SS protection to the risks that Michelle faced growing up in Chicago’s South Side – which is preferable? Then why run for a second term if the life was too restrictive for her and them?

 

I like President Trump but I feel Michelle’s pain when she speaks of the humiliation cast on her husband and family in birther debates. I too would feel incensed if groups were questioning the truth of my husband. She says she could never forgive Trump, and I pray that God will comfort her and turn the pain into forgiveness one day so she can be free, and not in bondage by her experience.  

 

“Becoming” is inspirational in building dreams for those who face barriers. The Obamas overcame and so too can you. And this is the primary message I took away. Four stars for Becoming.

 Susan Harris’s book TOUCHED BY ETERNITY: A TRUE STORY OF HEAVEN, HEALING, AND ANGELS will be released in May 2019.

Chocolate-Beet Whole Wheat Muffins

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 I always make something special for my husband when I’m going away. This time it’s beet- chocolate muffins, a recipe from my gal pal Rachel Dancsok. I tweaked to make it my own using whole wheat. The beets are from the ones my husband planted for the jackrabbit. Little Dusty was spooked by the car coming down the driveway and he left our property. The beets were therefore available to use.

What I used:

2 cups grated beets (2 medium beets)

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

2 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder 

1/3 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk

½ cup sugar (any kind)

¼ cup margarine

¼ cup oil

¾ cups chocolate chipits (I used white and brown but any would work)

 

What I did: 

  1. Wash and peel the beets. Grate on the large side of the grater.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together – flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, sugar and salt.
  3. Add to beets.
  4. Toss in half of the chipits.
  5.  In a bowl use hand blender to blend eggs, milk, margarine and oil.
  6. Add to beet mixture and  fold in with a wooden spoon.
  7. Line muffin tin with baking cups and fill. (Makes a dozen). Sprinkle remaining chipits on top of each muffin.
  8. Bake at 350 degree for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cauliflower Pizza

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I eat as much of this recipe and don’t worry about carbs and calories. 

First, prepare the crust using the ingredients and instructions below. I did mine in the food processor but you can buy them already “riced”. I found that most dried seasoning s can be used, so flavour yours to taste.

What I used:

  1. 1 medium head of cauliflower
  2. 2 small ones (1 large one is fine)
  3. 1 teaspoon each of Italian seasoning, oregano, parsley, thyme
  4. 1 teaspoon dry mustard (wet mustard is okay)
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  7. 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated (Grate 1 cup for topping below)
  8. 1 teaspoon oil
  9. Wax paper

What I did:

  1. Wash and dry cauliflower. Cut into tiny florets
  2. Pulse in processor for until it’s riced. I did two sets.
  3. Squeeze out excess water.
  4. Add all the ingredients above and mix well.
  5. Lightly oil pizza tray and line with wax paper.
  6. Layer cauliflower evenly on paper. Don’t layer it too thin else it would cook unevenly and stick to the paper.
  7. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.
  8. The grasp the wax paper and flip over the crust. Peel off the paper and bake for another 10 minutes. 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, Oh…the crust did not flip well so I had a partial pizza.

 

 

 

 

Toppings:

 

 

 

Add favourite toppings (I made it vegetarian with tomatoes, red onion, pineapple, peppers, green onions)

½ cup tomato paste

1 cup cheese

 

Partial pizza. The shape does not affect the taste. Yummm.

Bake at 400 until cheese is melted (about 20 minutes).