Category Archives: Prayer

Church closure sign of declining church attendance

Another church closes its doors – Presteign-Woodbine United Church in the eastern part of Toronto offically closes its doors in June. But services have already stopped and it recently held its last annual spring variety show.

The church is merging with another church – but this is another sign of declining church attendance in Canada. The percentage of decline is not consistent in reports and surveys, but some show as high as 60 percent.

I’m more interested in the why than the what as I believe (pun intended) the what follows the why.

So, here is my somewhat biased take on declining church attendance. Disclaimer or whatever. I don’t go to church anymore except for funerals and weddings. And unfortunately at my age, the latter is more prevalent. The latter is also often taken out of the church and to that I say, good. We want to celebrate someone’s life, not their church attendance record when they were alive.

So why the decline?

It is all too easy to blame it on societal trends, i.e., from religious to secular. To me that is only a part of the whole. Yes, people are too busy and have to prioritize what they do or run around in overwhelm.

But when they do prioritize is church attendance near the top of the priority list? Not for many it seems.

More important, religious denominations are not giving us what we want and need. And on a deeper level, some people have turned away from God because they have either stopped believing that he exists or they just don’t think he is listening to them. They feel they are praying to dead air. And when they look at the extreme weather, terrorism, etc. in the world today, that only adds fuel to their fire. No, I’m not saying God is to blame for all that. But when people turn to their church they don’t get answers, they don’t get help, they don’t get peace.

In other words, churches and their services are no longer relevant for many people. And some, who may be angry at God, take it out on the closest to God place they know – i.e., churches, and just don’t attend services any more.

All the Yoga classes, dance classes, daycare, etc. held in churches won’t keep the church doors open – as a church at least. Perhaps if the building turned into a community centre, it would be more relevant.

As for Presteign-Woodbine United Church closing – the building could end up in the hands of a developer, although at this point I don’t know of anything concrete. It was speculated in a news story on Global TV over the weekend. Unfortunately, this church is not an old enough building to get historical status – it looks too  modern inside and out (No, I didn’t attend services there, but a few years ago, took Yoga classes there). But a community centre function even with some structural additions would beat tearing it down and building a condo.

And to get back on the decline in church attendance. Sources can’t agree on that one. Just Google “Canadian church attendance decline Statistics 2016” or Google that without naming a country.

Interesting reading.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Beliefs, Church Attendance, God, Life demands, Only child, Prayer

Only Child on Luck and the like

Only child contemplates luck

Only child contemplates luck

Do some people have more good luck than bad? Do others have more bad luck than good?

I believe that is true and unfortunately I am one of the latter, at least as my life the past few years has shown. And before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am definitely not the only one in this over-sized boat.

How do I figure this? If I go through my daily list of what I am thankful for and what I’m not (and the list varies from day-to-day depending on what is happening or happened recently), I find that the bad things take over a larger percentage than the good. Some of the good (like my writing and my garden and my son – in no particular order here) are big. But so is much of the bad.

Bad can be anything from being old, poor, not being healthy to being injured to death of close family and friends, to being alone. The list can be endless. A lot of the bad that happens to people is what comes under the heading of “unexpected things that go wrong.” These usually steal your time, your psyche, your life.

And yes, there is research, there are studies on good and bad luck. I don’t agree with all of it, such as maintaining a positive attitude 100 per cent of the time. That does not stop bad things from happening to people. Neither does a strong belief in God and that he will help if we pray to him. I (and I’m sure others) have proven that one incorrect. The studies don’t go into this latter aspect.

One thing I have learned from life, especially from my friends,  is those seniors who have a life partner do much better in life. Sure,  bad things happen to them, too – nobody is immune from that. But, they have a partner so have help, moral support. They are not dealing alone with the crap in life.

So what are some of the other things that these studies show?

Stephan Makri, PhD. from the City University of London,  says, ““I think that luck means different things to different people—some people use it as synonym for serendipity,” he says. “But others were clear that the two were different—luck was totally out of our control and there’s nothing we can do to influence it.”  By the way the article also quotes Dr. Yanlong Sun,  professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology, Texas A&M College of Medicine, “As both a scientist and a person, I do believe in luck, that it is something I cannot manipulate or operate on.” The article also  quotes Richard Wiseman, psychology professor, the University of Hertfordshire, England, who has done several studies on luck. Wiseman says from one study “unlucky people seemed to demonstrate more anxiety.

Which begs the question? Are peope  unlucky because they are anxious? O are they anxious because they are unlucky?

Read the article on all this: “The Science of Luck” by Alexandra Osola, from Popular Science here.

What is some of the bad luck coming my way lately?

Computer problems, which I may or may have not fixed.

Two watches on the fritz at once. It better just be a new battery needed for each. With the big health issue I’m facing (see below), I don’t have extra cash for anymore expensive extra expenses. Also I need to keep track of my time, even though the powers that be may not be doing so.

Things going missing somewhere in my house. Disclaimer: I am not a hoarder and with what I do have I’ve been systematically sorting through and purging.

Ongoing health issues – the latest the biggie – the tooth extraction which comes up next Monday. I previously posted about the difficulty of  finding a good oral surgeon. But what is scary about all this is I haven’t had a tooth extraction for over 30 years and back then the situations didn’t go well. Mind you they were wisdom teeth (and that’s a misnomer for sure. Somebody goofed here in “creating” us). Also I have a lot of other health issues (which the surgeon is aware of – I did have to fill out a form and did have a consultation with him) including a compromised immune system. And then there is weather – it’s winter and if we get snow right after (like overnight after and the day after), guess who will be shoveling that white crap? The fellow who used to shovel my snow the past seven years didn’t show up this year. I tried to get someone else, but no luck.

And there is that word “luck” again. Hey, luck is a four-letter word, so what did I expect?

Dark days indeed. No wonder I often don’t get around to opening the blinds in the basement.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Balance, God, Good and Bad Luck, Health, Help and Support, Prayer, Seniors

Only Child on anxiety and intolerance of uncertainty

Only Child 's garden - temporary refuge from problems

Only Child ‘s garden – temporary refuge from problems

Life is full of uncertainty. But when the uncertainty turns into too many plurals running together or right after each other, it is too much. And we become anxious.

That seems to be so much lately. “Lately” being relative – it could refer to the last few weeks, months, and even years.

Considering all the crap that is happening in our world on a macro basis, when we get down to each of us individually, the micro basis is also high. And I think it has skyrocketed a lot since we entered the new millennium. I’m not saying life was smooth sailing before 2000 but it wasn’t as strenuous – even technology was reasonable. For example, we had computers; we had word-pr0cessing programs (eliminating typewriter use – and take it from a former journalist and secretary, typewriters were a slow frustrating pain to use), we had e-mail and we had the beginning of high speed Internet.

But we weren’t obsessed with constantly being online, constantly being connected with everyone and having  little or no privacy.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like some of this millennium’s technology – for example Skype, blogs, the expanded Internet with it seemingly unlimited  information. I particularly like the health info (keeping in mind there is bogus stuff as well as accurate info on the Internet), restaurants for location and menus, public transit info up to date and trip planners, etc..

But I don’t like it all in my face. I don’t like all the problems that technology generates and heck I don’t like some of the technology to even use. I really don’t need all the widgets and gadgets on a fridge. My stove’s oven is set up digitally as is the clock, but the burners still are turned on by hand. My stereo system is digital and some of that I like – except for figuring how to get and save different stations.

This technology is only a part of what fuels people’s anxiety. Everything is rush-rush and too-much to do. Add in someone, like me, who is anxious to begin with and you can have a recipe for anxiety disaster.

But a core issue for many people might be a medical condition called intolerance of uncertainty. Think about those three words and what they mean. “Intolerance” (besides the racial and ethnic intolerance) means  “exceptional sensitivity” (Merriam-Webster online). “Uncertainty” “something that is doubtful or unknown”. Put the two meanings together and someone with intolerance of uncertainty is  someone very sensitive to the uncertain things in life. And life is about uncertainty. And in these times that uncertainty racks up at an extremely high level. So people find ways to try and deal with this.

Some people get angry a lot (me); some turn into hoarders. See this study about uncertainty and hoarding. The premise is if you hoard a lot of things – furniture, food, etc. you feel you are protecting yourself from problems that might arise. But that doesn’t really work because we don’t know what these problems are – we can take guesses from weather reports, and warnings of computer viruses, software snafus and the like and a host of other things. But none of this safe-guards us from what’s out there coming at us

Praying doesn’t really help; I’ve tried it asking for this and that not to happen (and I don’t even cover more than the basics) for myself and those close to me. I preface it with expressing my gratitude for what is going right (sometimes a short list) for that day. I don’t think a Pollyanna attitude will do either. Remember Pollyanna (the Disney movie from 1960 staring Hayley Mills) fell from a tree and was crippled.

Of course, much less problems for each of us to deal with would be the best answer. Not going to happen in this life, in this world. So I use three tactics. My main focus is getting rid of/solving the damn problem(s). While problems keep hanging around and charging, in I use another device – distractions. I read, write, spend time in my garden (winter will kill the latter; one reason I hate winter with a passion), spend time with friends, watch TV. Sleep used to be a good distraction but now with insomnia I don’t sleep long enough and wake up in spurts and my mind grabs onto the latest big worry or worries. I’ll go more into the sleep end in a future post.

And my third tactic. I yell a lot. I get angry. Not 24/7 though. I have my lighter moments. But yelling and anger keeps me going to solve the problems. So, relatives and friends who wonder why I’m angry a lot. That’s one reason why.

Here are a few more links to check out about intolerance to uncertainty and anxiety.

Intolerance of Uncertainty: A Common Factor in the Treatment of Emotional Disorders

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712497/

While I don’t agree with the article’s calling the person’s beliefs “negative” per se, I like their take on using worrying as a way to get through this and get to solving the problem(s). My mother, the Queen of Worry Warts may have had a good idea after all.

And here’s a link to a study on I General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11225502

How do you deal with anxiety and uncertainty?

Comments, please.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Anger, Anxiety, Gratitude, Health, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Prayer, Problems, Stress, Worrying

Wind storm prompts Only Child to random acts of kindness

Trees  bleak fall wind stormSouth and southwestern Ontario, Canada got hit with a horrible windstorm – gusts over 100 km in some places and much wind damage including trees down and power outages. Some places such as Kitchener and London, Ontario received flooding from the heavy rain. As I watched the videos about it on the weather network and listed what I did and didn’t want to happen, something good came out of all of this.

But first some background.

As many of you know I take the weather situations around the world seriously. No matter where you live you get plummeted with what I call the wrath of God, weather-wise. If you think I am nuts, just check out The Weather Network www.theweathernetwork.com or watch it on TV. The Force of Nature video clips are especially interesting, not just because they go round the world, but because of that title. Think about it “Force of Nature.” Really? Nature in that sense doesn’t seem appropriate. And then there is my favourite “Mother Nature” who in my mind doesn’t exist, especially when you think of all the extreme weather conditions as the norm worldwide. For those interested in the earliest recorded info about Mother Nature (not the Bible folks), and some variations through the ages, go to http://www.gotquestions.org/mother-nature.html

In previous posts I have also mentioned my takes on praying to God and the shakiness about “ask and you will receive.” So, with this storm coming and while it was here, I decided to lay it on the line, so to speak, to God about what I didn’t want to happen – not just for me but for everyone in the area being hit by the windstorm.

Those videos and stories on The Weather Network show that he didn’t listen completely. However, as I was checking for damage here and so far found I was lucky (We still have somewhat higher winds here in Toronto but not nearly as bad as last night, buy I’m keeping toes crossed), I made a decision.

We are all in this mess of weather God sends us. Some worse than others. As I watched some of the videos I felt badly for the people who lost homes from floods, winds, and in the Buffalo, New York area, from way too much snow last week. The latter claimed a dozen or so lives

Not right.

While I will continue to make my take on it all to God, etc., I plan to do some good. No I’m not rushing out to the damaged areas to help remove trees and restore hydro service. That’s for the experts.

Instead, I’m going to try to do random acts of kindness – once a day – all spontaneous. It may be as small as opening a door for someone or giving directions for someone trying to find a location. (I like to do the latter, perhaps because I have gotten lost before and just the thought of it is frightening).

Just to be clear, I am not doing it as Christian or Catholic duty. After all that has happened to me and what I have seen happen to others, I don’t consider myself Christian or Catholic anymore. Not sure what you would call me here – not agnostic or atheist and probably not even humanist, as I do believe in God – what I believe about him is just not any conventional belief. So what I want to do has nothing to do with God, religion and anything related.

I’m doing it because we are in the same leaky boat (any pun intended) in this life and if we don’t help one another some way, who will do it?

You probably can guess whom I think won’t do it.

 

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Floods, God, Only child, Prayer, Rain and wind storm, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Trees and Shrubs, Weather, Winter Weather

Only Child and the non-Thanksgiving holiday

Only Child's Garden one of the things she is thankful for.

Only Child’s Garden one of the things she is thankful for

Yesterday was the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday. But it didn’t feel like it. Maybe because I didn’t do a family Thanksgiving dinner because my son was touring with his band Beams over the weekend. Maybe because my son, his girlfriend and I met for dinner instead – last Tuesday evening. We didn’t eat any kind of Thanksgiving dinner. We ate at an Italian restaurant and the closest to a bird was the chicken cacciatore I ate.
Maybe because it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving last Tuesday. We did talk about family matters but it’s not the same as our traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the roast chicken (I’m allergic to turkey). Maybe it’s because the bad still takes over the good in my life and except for a few things I don’t feel that thankful.
Don’t get me wrong. Each day I give thanks for what is good in my life. But I also do the opposite for what is bad in my life. I follow a variation of the rule learned from my Grade 6 teacher – give credit where credit is due (her rule) and discredit where discredit is due (my variation).
The odd thing was that over the weekend as I walked along the streets near home, strangers would wish me a happy Thanksgiving. I didn’t pull the snarky reply but smiled and wished them the same in return. If some people are 100 per cent thankful, I’m not going to burst their balloon.
However, I know that life is not all rosy. Bad happens and I’m still getting more than my share of it. For example, last week, despite my asking God daily to have all the six utilities work 24/7 with no disruptions in service, he didn’t listen. He is not responsible for the services going off, but he is responsible for not listening. “Ask and you shall receive” seems often to be either a crowd thing or if one person asks, i.e. me, I have to shout and shout to be heard. I am told I have to be specific in my requests, what I put out there and I am and what do I get? Nearly two days of no phone or Internet service because of Bell Canada. The ding-a-ling company had a corroded cable up a pole. That’s all I’m going to say about that now as it is fodder for another full blog post.
Like I said above I am thankful for a few things – my son and his girlfriend, my house (except for what needs fixing), my garden, this lovely summer-weather day today, my health (what is still good about it), my writing, editing and writing teaching/tutoring business.
Speaking of my writing, I am really really thankful that Blue Denim Press just published another book of mine this fall – my first mystery novel Beyond Blood. The book launch for it is this coming Sunday, October 19, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Paintbox Bistro in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. If you are in the area then, please come to the book launch, which also launches another first mystery novel – Dead Wrong by Klaus Jakelski. More details at http://www.bluedenimpress.com
I will be blogging more about it this Thursday on my author blog http://www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com
And check out my son’s band Beams at http://beamstheband.com/

Cheers.
Sharon A. Crawford
Only Child Writes

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Filed under Family, God, Health, Only child, Prayer, Thanksgiving

Only Child looks at Crowd Prayer

Only Child  contemplates God, weather, and prayer

Only Child contemplates God, weather, and prayer

Sunday morning I woke up to a dark sky, heavy rain and wind – a great forecast for the annual outdoor Word on the Street book fair in Toronto, Canada. I had a volunteer shift at the Crime Writers of Canada booth plus I wanted to walk around and talk to other writers, publishers, etc.

In the pouring rain with thunder?

I think not.

Shaking my fist at the sky I told God just what I thought of the weather and added, “It’s not just me; there are thousands of others who are going to Word on the Street and won’t like being stuck in the rain.”

To add insult to injury both my land line and Internet were down – and they are part and parcel of the whole utility she-bang where I daily ask God to keep them all working. I may not be Christian but I do believe in God and believe he should listen to our prayers. Some things ingrained from growing up Catholic never disappear.

Soon the darkness outside changed to lighter and one hour before the start of Word on the Street the sun came out and stayed out until sundown. (The weather forecast itself had been for thundershowers all day). The rain stayed away until way after night arrived. WOTS went until 6 p.m. and it was a beautiful summer day, hot and sunny and very pleasant (except for the persistent wasp buzzing around the CWC booth). I met some interesting readers and writers, connected with some writers I already knew and sold the first copy of my new mystery novel Beyond Blood (excluding Amazon and other online sales).

As for the phone and Internet, after a call to Bell Canada and being told the earliest time a techie could show up was Monday after 12 noon, I went back to scurrying around getting ready to attend WOTS.

A ring on my phone sounded and the phone was back. So was the Internet.

What does all this tell me?

The lone person praying to God is very likely not to be heard. Remember I daily ask not to have utility services stop working – that was the ask. But pray on behalf of many, even thousands of people and God has to sit up and listen (And of course, I did thank him).

I call it a form of crowd praying. Not necessarily a crowd of people praying together although I don’t doubt many others coming to WOTS asked God to stop the rain.

Well, there is crowd funding. Why not crowd praying in different versions? A study was done on an actual group of people praying for others with heart conditions. Being a scientific study, there was a placebo group and the real praying group. As posted on http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/prayer.html here are some of the specifics:

Cardiac patients from the San Francisco General Medical Center were randomly divided (using a computer-generated list) into two groups. The names of the patients in the “test” group were given to a group of Christians, who prayed for them while they were in the hospital…

The “placebo” group received no prayer. Neither the “test” nor the “placebo” group of patients knew if they were receiving prayer. Likewise, the hospital staff, doctors, or nurses were “blinded” since they did not know which patient belonged to which group (Source: Scientific Evidence for Answered Prayer and the Existence of God by Richard Deem).

Results?

Patients who received prayers had fewer diseases and symptoms, including less congestive heart failure, fewer heart attacks and fewer setbacks of pneumonia.

Besides this site (see URL above) you can read more about this type of study by going to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed and doing a search for “effects intercessory prayer”

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Crowd Praying, God, Only child, Prayer, Rain and wind storm, Sharon A. Crawford, Weather, Word on the Street

Only child experiences unexpected serendipity

Patio oasis in Only Child's backyard still peaceful.

I admit it – I’m a jaded realist whose motto is “seeing is believing.”  This belief took an unexpected turn thanks to a severe wind and thunderstorm that hit Toronto on Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t quite a tornado or hurricane, nothing as bad as Hurricane Hazel which stormed into Toronto in the fall of 1954. I remember bits and pieces of that one. It got really dark, wet and windy outside. Mom and I had just made it back from getting our TB tests at one of those mobile testing units parked outside Holy Cross grade school. Our house and garden received no damage because as Mom said, “We live on a hill, not in the valley.”

Last Sunday’s storm, the intensity of which was unexpected, may have had its intentional roots (at least for my property and me) in my Hurricane Hazel experience. I was answering personal e-mail on my desktop computer when I could see the sky in the northwest getting very dark. After a few mild claps of thunder, I thought, “that’s it,” and shut down my computer and turned the power board off. A few minutes later the skies opened and waves of water fell down and the winds shook everything around. I looked out the back window and couldn’t see my umbrella on its stand in the patio table. Then the power went out – for all of two minutes. I was frantically praying (yes, even with my attitudes on religion and God) that all would be well. I checked the basement (several times) and no water got in.

When the storm had died down to a trickle,  in a panic I went out to the back. At first I couldn’t get the gate open – the latch was sticking. After a minute it opened and I charged into the backyard and found my open umbrella, toppled over. It had knocked over my citronella plant and broken a few branches of it. I righted the plant and shoved the umbrella back into its stand. This time I rolled the umbrella down, more to see if it still worked than for any other reason. I did another check of  the basement – floors still dry. And made a mental note to thank the fellow that did the excavation before I again ask him when he is going to fix the picnic table leg he broke off when moving the table. Surprisingly, the five bricks and three remaining legs still held up the picnic table. The only other happenings were my big blue recycling bin rolled over and moved back and a strip of eavestrough liner (to catch falling leaves) had come loose and dangled outside my office window. It is still dangling and can continue to dangle until I get my handyman over to do a number of jobs.

Then I saw and heard what happened elsewhere in Toronto –  power outages for hours, trees down (including next door in the backyard – it fell on the telephone/cable wires cutting off four houses’ service – if they have Bell Canada and not Rogers Cable. I’m not one of those four as the box for my service is up a pole on the far side of the other house next door to me. And then there is Goderich, Ontario which got hit by an F3 Tornado. Goderich resembles a war zone and people are left homeless. This is the down side; this is destruction I can’t comprehend as right or fair…but life is not fair I’ve been told.

I have family just north and northeast of Goderich and I’ve e-mailed one cousin to see if they are all right.

At this point my garden is intact, the trees by the side and back of my house are intact, my house is intact, and I am grateful. Perhaps a smidgeon of my faith and trust in living has been restored. Perhaps I am learning that sometimes when you put it out there, you are listened to, but often in unexpected ways.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Believing, Cities and towns, Cousins, Floods, Goderich, Gratitude, Home and Garden, Life learning, Only child, Prayer, Rain and wind storm, Serendipity, Synchronicities, Tornado, Toronto, Trust, Water