Category Archives: One Word: Ephphatha

At Christmas, Free Time is Precious

The Christmas season involves a lot of food, not just any food, but good food! Plenty of drinks, lots of baked goods, and appetizers galore.

I can’t complain about the abundance of food, I enjoy it as much as the next person. I enjoy consuming these festive treats, but I certainly don’t enjoy making them. I, like many other people in my age group and demographic, are more likely to purchase ready made goods rather than make them at home.

Photo by: Helen C athcart

I enjoyed making apple cider this year, but I cheated. I started off wanting to make it from scratch, but the recipes seemed time intensive. Who knew making a beverage could take so much time and so many apples? I decided that my free time was more important than the end product. I have a feeling there are others who feel a similar way.

I believe food is absolutely necessary at any Christmas get together or function, no food, no fun. Others would argue that alcohol is necessary as well, but I don’t drink, so I will peacefully disagree on that point.

All this to say; don’t feel pressure to make home made goods for holiday parties. If it is less stressful for you to go into a bakery or grocery store and walk out with everything already prepared, then go for it! After too many stressful holiday seasons trying to fit in festive events, I learned that I enjoy Christmas much more when I’m not having to spend too much time in the kitchen.

I have to continue watching how much I eat because all my weight loss and discipline can be easily lost to the mindless eating that occurs when hanging out with others. I intentionally make an effort to bring healthier treats and food to gatherings. The last thing I want to do is waste mental space worrying about how much I’m eating and what I’m eating. If food consumption matters that much to you, bring some tasty fruit and vegetable dishes to potlucks; there will always be people who want healthier options as well.

My desire to save time by purchasing ready made items extends to crafts and decorations as well. If making hand made Christmas decorations doesn’t appeal to you, there are plenty of department stores selling items to suit every taste. I eventually got rid of my Christmas crafts board on Pinterest, it was too tempting. They were great to look at, awful to make. If craft making leads to frustration, then give it up. Again, the idea is to make the best use of your free time and energy.

As a child I remember stringing popcorn for the tree. It was a fun activity as a child, but as an adult, I know that I’d rather eat the popcorn. What I find more exciting is going out and purchasing decorations. I save both time and money as well.

Don’t forget to have fun during the holidays. Time is precious and vacations at Christmas is short for most of us. Allow that time to be restful, fun, and fulfilling; only you can define what that is.

The Horror of the Cross and Women’s Monthly Flow

In the city I live in, there is currently a shortage of free menstrual items for women and young girls who are homeless, low-income, or living in poverty. It has been so problematic that a woman and her friends took the initiative to start a donation campaign exclusively to collect pads and tampons.

Over a year ago I had asked a local church if we could do a women’s hygiene donation drive, the response of one of the women’s ministry leaders was that it had to be at one of the women’s events. This caught me off guard. Why did this important need have to be regulated to women’s ministry? What would happen if this need was advertised in the Sunday bulletin. Would it really make both men and women uncomfortable? Are periods only a woman’s issue?

I sometimes feel that that Church is only comfortable with blood if it is associated with Jesus being tortured on a cross. Not many seem to object to images of a bloody Jesus hanging from the cross despite the fact that he is no longer on the cross. Jesus defeated the cross, he is resurrected in heaven, free from the blood and gore caused by the Roman torture devise. Yet we can’t let go of that bloody image. In fact, we are so attached to the blood of Christ that we celebrate it and pretend to drink it during the Eucharist. I’m not saying we should not remember how gruesome the crucifixion was; that would be minimizing the amazingness of Christ’s sacrifice; what I’m getting at is our acceptance of a bloody Jesus and the rejection of a bloody woman.

Niddah is a Hebrew word used to describe a woman who is menstruating or a woman who hasn’t completed her ritual bath requirement. The literal word niddah means “removed” and is also used to mean “cast out”.

When a woman has a discharge of blood that is her regular discharge from her body, she shall be in her impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening. Everything upon which she lies during her impurity shall be unclean; everything also upon which she sits shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening. Whoever touches anything upon which she sits shall wash his clothes, and bathe in water, and be unclean until the evening; whether it is the bed or anything upon which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening. If any man lies with her, and her impurity falls on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.” Leviticus 15:19-24

If she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count seven days, and after that she shall be clean. On the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting. The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the Lord for her unclean discharge.” Leviticus 15:28-30

How nice of the priest to make an atonement for the SIN of a woman having a period. Something that she has no control over, something that is a healthy part of being a woman.

Christianity doesn’t have any purity laws, but when it comes to menstruation, we certainly act as if it is impure by not allowing it to be a topic that is openly discussed among both men and woman. We treat women and their periods as impure when we glorify the bloody stories of war, murder, and genocide found in the bible, but then shame anything that has to do with women who bleed.

If there are food banks, domestic violence safe houses, or shelters in your area; consider finding out if they need any menstrual products and donate proudly without shame or embarrassment. Let’s change the discourse about women and their periods from one of sin to that of being a gift from God. Sometimes periods don’t feel like a gift from God, but they are. Consider that without a proper menstrual cycle some women wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. Similar to the beauty of the cross, is the beauty of menstruation.






Goals That Never Happened


September is a month of change. Changes that we don’t have a lot of control over. Young children start Kindergarten and Grade One for the first time. Young adults begin college, some leaving home for the first time in their lives.

Mother natures brings change in the form of fall coloured leaves, garden vegetations; some dying, some just coming into season.

September is a great reminder that change is a part of life, some changes are pleasant and welcomed, others are not.

I live within walking distance to our provinces’ largest university. Each Fall I see a wave of teenagers with big dreams and goals of becoming something. I know they are at school to achieve something; a job, a title, status; something. No one enrolls in a four-year program with the intention of failing in life or going no where. School, whether it is grades K-12 or post-secondary is about achieving something.

My friend and I were thinking back to when we first started college and noted that none, not a single goal that we had at the beginning of this stage of life came true. Things changed significantly. Between then and now there were accidents, injuries, a change of academic interests, jobs we loved and jobs we hated, moving to different cities, and a host of different friends entered our lives.

We are taught to pursue our goals at any cost, to not give up, stay focused, and not fall off track; but I have to say, sometimes not pursuing and achieving our goals can be a good thing.

Goals can turn from healthy to destructive when the following happen:

Over focusing on one area of your life while neglecting other aspects of your life. Goals certainly require focus, but it’s also important to engage in other activities not related to your specific goal. Variety in life is important and fuels creativity. It also gives you a break from focusing exclusively on tasks related to your goal.

Engaging in unethical behaviour to meet and maintain a goal. A strong desire to meet a goal can lead to desperate actions. If you lie, cheat, steal, or hurt others you’ve gone too far. Your achievements should never involve bringing others down. Success can be obtained through honest means.

Jealousy towards those who have achieved what you are working towards. If you find yourself experiencing feelings of jealousy and envy towards others who have achieved what you want, then it’s important to stop and do some self-inventory and reflection. Envy is a sign that you are focusing more on others than yourself. One way to ward off these negative feelings is to admire the work of others. Let their work inspire and motive you in a positive and non-competitive manor. Learn from them instead of hating them.

Allowing your identity to be based on accomplishments towards your goals. We are more than our job title, hobbies, and achievements. We are well rounded people, we wear many hats: spouse, employee, parent, child, community member, etc. Our identity changes with time. The accomplishments you reach are only one aspect of who you are. People often “fail” at something while achieving a goal. If you have too much of your identity attached to your outcomes, any mistakes or mishaps can be taken too personally. Remember, failing at something doesn’t make you a failure.

I believe The Son of David was wrong when he said,

Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1: 2). There is meaning in our lives, there is meaning in the things we do. What matters is the meaning we give to it. This bitter sentiment is what happens when people place too much importance and focus on goal achievements.

Pursue goals, but don’t neglect to enjoy life!






Jesus, O.J. Simpson, and the Gospel


Unless you have lived the past 20 years without watching television or reading the news, you likely know who O.J. Simpson is. If you don’t know who he is and what he may or may not have done to his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, click here.

O.J. has always remained in the spotlight and on the news since he was found both guilty and not guilty for the murders of Nicole and Ronald. He presence in the news has increased as his July 20, 2017 parole hearing draws closer.

I’m not interested in O.J. Simpson per se, but I am interested in the topic of public’s ability to forgive a person who has transformed from their harmful ,dangerous, and socially destructive ways. God, Jesus, and the prophets tell us that people can indeed change their ways.

I personally believe Simpson has narcissistic personality disorder, or some type of disorder. Because I don’t have an M.D. is Psychiatry I can’t diagnose him, but I can certainly read him! The industry that I work in involves working with a population of people, most of whom have diagnosed mental illnesses including personality disorders. I have read different research and most of the literature states that those who have personality disorders cannot change, especially those we refer to as psychopaths and sociopaths.

I don’t believe O.J. will ever change his ways, simply because he can’t. There are many who would disagree with me, and I’m alright with that. There are those who believe God is powerful enough to transform anyone, including narcissists and others with personality disorders. While I do believe God is all powerful, I don’t think he works to “heal” certain disorders. God is still God and God will always remain powerful even if people die of cancer, remain in a wheelchair for life, never get to see, or live with chronic pain their entire life.

We don’t expect God to cure every physical illness, so why do so many believe He will “cure” certain mental illnesses?

I don’t know if O.J. Simpson will be paroled and if he has or ever will change his destructive ways; but what I do know is that I don’t believe he can or ever will be able to change. There are ministries all over the world where people work to serve those whose mental illnesses create a barrier to change. It doesn’t make their ministry less effective or meaningless; it’s the opposite, I think there is even more of a need for ministry to people with mental illness.


Chronic mental health issues often lead to unemployment, poverty, marginalization, self-medication, and social isolation. These are the situations God has called us to respond to. It’s not easy dealing with the O.J. Simpsons of the world. It is easy to remember their crimes and the many victims they have harmed; however, we also have to remember that once a person is released from prison we do not have the right to mistreat them. It can be difficult in light of the harm they have done. No one is saying take them in to your home and feed them; that would be foolish.

What we are saying is please don’t judge those of us who work with released convicts, the mentally ill who harms others, the violent, and the dangerous.  We are not there to excuse their wrongs, but we are there to treat them as humans; if we don’t, who else will? Remember, those with personality disorders might be your neighbours, bosses, spouse, co-worker, church leader, relative, or friend. Serving them with the love of God and a strong set of boundaries is the most humane and Christ like behaviour we can ever give.