This too is my Lenten journey…


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I sat alone in a small Anglican country church yesterday morning, a church outside my Evangelical experience in many ways, and yet the same. The gathering was intimate with less than 50 people of all ages. There was a raw celebratory nature to the scripture readings, prayers and congregational responses, and a contrast between the darkly translucent shroud over the Lord’s table and the minister’s white robes.

I was drawn to look at the back of the old wooden pew in front of me, and I saw there in pencil two names and a date, 1934, with no attempt to remove it, no attempt to cover it up. A sense of the rootedness and historical context of this particular church grew strong within me. The arched windows of the church opened up to the fields beyond, the creek with its long lines of poplars just leafing into whispy greenness, the fields prepared for planting and irrigating. I began to cry, sensing my life of faith opening up and bringing me to a new and unusual place of belonging, yet not quite belonging. And sensing God’s presence in spite of my wandering.

We sang old hymns I knew by heart, parts coming back to me from my Church of God childhood, my descant voice leaking from my lips like an old language I have not forgotten. And all else that leaked in those moments, the memories of being left out, a girl pricking me with a pin in the back row of my childhood church, the never being asked on a date by a church boy… ever, being an elder’s daughter and what needs be borne in this unique role, and finally, all the eyes and backs of those who had loved me my whole life turning away when I was excommunicated for marrying outside the faith, for marrying a good Catholic boy.

Yet, here I was, so many years later and drawn to some of the very things I have not experienced since my childhood, a small group of believers gathered around an altar in solemn and sacred remembrance, sharing a hymn sheet, the immediate sense of community, how the minister knew my name after only one visit, and blessed me, and hugged me. And how it feels to sit in a simple wooden pew and hear it creaking beneath me when I adjust my position, stand up for the holy scripture readings and sit to pray.

The liturgy is new to me, but comforting in its wholeness, what is known and what is carried out. The call upon the people to speak aloud at specific times and in specific ways is engaging. There are commonalities here, and a sense of coming full circle to where I first began only in a completely different way. The doctrine remains as yet unpacked, and the questions on certain topics as yet unanswered. All in due time.

There was no benediction hymn this Good Friday service and it ended with a solemn and silent leaving of the sanctuary. But I remember last Sunday morning, when we sang without instrument, the old church filling to the rafters with Oh God From Whom All Blessings Flow, the harmony of voices, the sense of holy.
May your Easter be blessed by the knowledge of God’s presence and peace no matter your circumstance or location. God is love. God is.

Lesley-Anne

What we are thirsty for…


This Lenten season I have been working through an amazing and meaningful experience called Beloved, an online journey into Lent and Easter with Jan Richardson leading us. Each day for the past 5 weeks leading into this, Holy Week, I have received by email an image of Jan’s paintings, a poem blessing, a few paragraphs of prompting and insightful considerations, reflective music, and many questions. Deep questions. Soul searching questions. I know I will continue working through them for a long time.

I tell you this because when I chose to undertake this journey, I suppose I did so with an agenda. I didn’t voice it, write it down, or even consciously think about it, but my hidden agenda was that this Lent I would draw closer to God and he would in turn, draw closer to me. I’m not entirely certain either thing happened. Although I wrote about my experience briefly HERE, still, today, I’m feeling rather disconnected and sad and even a little guilty for feeling this way.

Now I could be feeling rather vacant because school is over and I no longer have anything to put my mind to, or it could be because the season of life I find myself in is with young adult children still in the nest but wings ready for flight. It could be because my husband’s new job has taken him to a neighbouring community which makes connecting for coffee or lunch much more difficult these days. It could be my age. But, in concert with all of these is this soulful hole inside me that is God shaped (or so they say when they talk of spiritual longings such as these, and I do believe mine is spiritual) and I haven’t managed to find a lasting way to fill it or to feel like it has been filled.

And, as I with my heart/soul ache messing about inside me always do, I try to make sense of it. I try to solve it I guess, yet I think that may be impossible. I write to God on my prayer blog, I mess about with thoughts, and as usually happens, I write poetry. Rough draft, rough ideas, still working through. You will find my poem posted just below…

INSERT:  a short time later after posting this blog, I find, “Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love’s flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends.” ~ Hinds Feet on High Places

Which makes me wonder if maybe my ordinary life presenting me with rather ordinary things to do and take care of, maybe my life with quiet times such as this one right now is the one God has prepared for me to blossom in. Maybe I’ve become greedy/thirsty for… busyness… being needed… experience… accomplishment… status… acknowledgement… rather than truly longing for God? I’ve been given my quiet and hidden life, and the hardest thing for me to do is to see it as a gift.

I’d love, I’d REALLY love, to chat about these things with you if you are willing to engage. It can be through email at mygracenotes@gmail.com if you’d prefer. Do you ever have these thoughts, these feelings, and what do you do with them?

Here are some questions that might guide our conversation;

What do you thirst for? Are you spiritually thirsty, or for something else that could be met by making a change?

What steps are you taking, or have taken, to identify what you are thirsty for?

In your relationship with God, do you find your thirsts are quenched? Do some thirsts remain?

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I thirst

 

I thirst.

After all is done

and all is accomplished

yet that the scripture might

be fulfilled, Jesus says

I thirst.

 

And I come

not to a cross

but to His wellspring

of life, not for the first

time, but again and still

not knowing what it

means to drink. I long

with a black hole

of need, desire for company,

significance, meaning, chat,

answers. My prayers fall

on thin air, his presence,

his ever expanding mystery

perplexes me, angers me

keeps me asking for what

I do not know. He

is often silent, so often

delivered up on tongues

of men in ways I cannot

digest. We sit around

comparing our notes

patting one another

on the back for discerning

his plans and his will

and I critique the words

as they leave my lips. I want

to bite my forked tongue

into silence. I am wet eyed

at the terror and wonder

of this world and most days

I don’t get the point of it

don’t get God, don’t hear

God, don’t feel like I’ve

come closer to God

in imperfect trying. Peace

does not last. Grace

is fleeting. Words

just words, so many words

my head spins, soul

ache remains. No matter

the long years

of limping toward you

the hole is here.

I am bono-fied ~

cause I still haven’t

found what I’m

looking for. And I’m

looking, I am looking

and I’m asking

and I’m here.

Where are you?

 

Jesus says I thirst.

Jesus does not preach

yet is not silent in his agony.

Jesus states his need,

his simple need

for quenching. He knows

what he will get

yet he exposes his need

that scripture would be

fulfilled. What does

this mean? Only after

they respond, only

after they offer him

the tainted wine, only then

Jesus says

it is finished.

 

You know what I need, God.

I want to know. I want to ask it

if I could just find it.

The words that mean

I am thirsty.

 

 

It Is Finished

28 After this, Jesus, knowing[e] that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Gospel of John, chapter 19

 

 

 

Life is a prayer, and God hears yours.


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Bench with a view, Fort Worden, Port Townsend, WA.

It’s been 82 posts since I started my prayer blog… my online prayer journal. And I tell you this because what I will tell you next might surprise you. I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel any closer or further away from God. What I feel is a more relaxed way of being. I now feel quite natural about writing God a note that could be an angry outburst or a thank you. But I don’t feel like I’ve tapped into a deeper way, nor do I feel enlightened. I just feel more… dare I say… peaceful, about it. And I thank God for that.

Prayer has haunted me since I was a young adult. In fact, one of my big hang ups leading me away from the church and faith was prayer… how one could justify whatever the outcome of prayer as a yes, a no, or a maybe. That really bugged me… God didn’t bug me, but the way people approached prayer did. I found prayer inconclusive, not to be trusted, and without proof. So, I walked away.

Fast forward 15 years to when I became a mom and with that life change came a renewed interest in the faith. That began a process of years of establishing a new way of living my life with God, healing the old painful ways, and acknowledging God in my life choices. But prayer, I stumbled over it, was embarrassed by it, was overwhelmed by feelings of prayer inadequacy. Did I believe prayer worked? Yes, but I also knew I was walking a thin line where I hesitated to ask for much, and remained privately understated when answers came. Did I have faith… yes. But prayer confused me, upset me, eluded me.

I have always hesitated when someone asks me to pray, I still do. I know me too well. Not only do I struggle with prayer, but I also forget. How can I have integrity in what I say if I make promises and don’t keep them. So, I am very conservative about offering to pray, and when I’m asked, I usually make a point of writing a prayer down right then and there so they know and I know I really did pray for them.

I’ve learned over the years that prayer and trouble with prayer is part of my life. When I try to have a dedicated prayer time, it’s hard. I get distracted. So I try to pray as things happen. If something comes to mind, I mention it to God. If something bugs me, I get it off my chest. If something is amazing, I say so. I’ve written my prayers. I’ve taken large chunks of time away to work through things with God in what could be called prayerful encounters. I’ve found God in nature and in music and in poetry and in people. And my response to any and all of these is, in my opinion, prayer. I still don’t ask for much, and I still need to put more emphasis on asking God to forgive me for all the stuff that stacks up in my heart. I can be a hoarder like that.

My prayer blog is just another way of living in conversation with God, God as purpose and passion and for and because. I want God in my life, in the details. And I want to share my thoughts and concerns with him because I believe that’s what he wants too. God loves me, therefore he cares about all the silly, angry, jumping for joy words I speak to him. And he has things to say back… but I’ll leave that for another blog post.

I share all this with you because maybe you are a bit like me, maybe you wonder and stumble and feel like a square peg in a round hole about prayer, and I’m here to say God knows and he doesn’t have a checklist for must do prayer this precise way. The Lord’s prayer (Jesus answer to his followers when they asked him how to pray) is found HERE the gospels, and is the ultimate prayer guide we can revisit often. But I believe there are other ways to talk with God. God is creative and open to your own creative way of welcoming him into your life, in the language that you understand.

Life is a prayer… and God hears yours.

Lesley-Anne, SDG

“I Hate You,” and other words on the tips of our tongues…


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“Love is Stronger” carved by Claire C. Evans.

Dear buddies,

We’ve been friends for quite a few years now, and I know you have heard me rant before. This probably won’t be the last time. This time is with a fair bit of trepidation as I’m still working things out inside me and nothing is clear. It may never be clear. Thing is, I want to say something about it anyway because we are friends, and friends talk about stuff that matters.

If I tell you I’m a Christian (it’s hard to use the big C), or I’m a christian (little c is closer to the truth), that says a lot to most. It says good and bad things without me saying much at all. If you asked me what I mean by christian, I’d have a hard time because there are many things I used to say right out, black and white, that I am not comfortable with anymore. And this is not the time for doctrine or belief statements, rather the time to try to show the kind of person I am without labels. Is that possible. I don’t know.

I remember when I was a little girl. I was really mad. I wanted something really really badly, and my parents said, “NO.” In my anger and disappointment I lashed out and they sent me to my room and I ran down the hallway crying and threw myself on my bed and yelled, “I hate you. I wish you were dead.” Sound familiar at all? And there are many times in my life that I still say this inside, use slightly different words like, “you suck,” or, “you idiot,” or, “and you call yourself a human,” or “you are such an ?*&^%$##!!!” I do. Often.

And I judge. The monologue that takes place inside my head is horrific. If you could hear the voices and what they say, you might not want to be my friend anymore. I try not to. I call myself to account. I try to be the one who judges not lest I be judged… but I will be, I know that to be true.  I still judge. Maybe this sounds familiar to you as well?

So, now you know two truths about me, in my attempt to show you that I am human and not professing anything other than humanity like all those who are mentioned in this post. Just in case you hear judgement or righteousness, I want you to know that is not my intent.

I want to talk about what is bugging me about the day before yesterday and yesterday and maybe open up a dialogue about it. If not, I guess I’m just talking to myself and that’s OK. It’s a topic so confusing and hot and complex that I need to get some words outside my head to try and come to a place of being OK. I’m not there yet.

Day before yesterday World Vision announced they were adopting a new hiring policy allowing same-sex married individuals to work for their NGO. I read about it on Facebook and immediately Googled to see if it was true. It was. Everyone was talking about it, writing about it. And it was both exciting and appalling, depending upon one’s perspective. Some people rejoiced. In many uniquely creative ways some other people said, “I Hate You, and I Wish You Were Dead!!!” They did. Muck was slung, scriptures were launched, people on both sides of the line (mostly within the church) defended their positions and it was really really awful. There were some well crafted blogs suggesting immediate action, either to quit WV entirely or to support through further adoptions. Seems a lot of people’s response to WV’s change was to drop child sponsorship, just to point to how strong conviction/emotions are, and how easy to lose sight of the fall out (reports say over 2000 sponsorships were pulled overnight).

Then yesterday, World Vision changed their mind. In an announcement that included asking for forgiveness, WV turned everything around and suggested they were unintentionally misled, less than scriptural, acting outside of wise counsel. And again, all hell broke loose. Again, both sides launched shit on each other. While the world watched and wondered, and all of heaven held its breath. What was gained and what was lost? We could talk a long time on such things.

I don’t know the answer, I don’t profess to be a theological scholar or a history major or an activist for any special interest group. I know it’s complicated. I know. I was born in Northern Ireland, I’m protestant, and I married a Catholic. I know a bit about church troubles. But I’m a white, heterosexual poet who is married with 3 young adult kids and a dog. I live in Canada. I am not oppressed. Still, I’m deeply concerned and disturbed by this turn of events.

Yes, I believe in standing for who you are and what you believe. There are folk all around the world who are suffering for who they are and what they believe. People are martyrs for the faith right now. People are taking their lives after being bullied for years about their sexual orientation. You tell me about suffering and I will tell you what I know. I will tell you what it was like to be excommunicated from my family church for marrying outside it.  I’ve seen what happens when good intentioned animal rights folk post pictures of abused animals on Facebook. I’ve read comments that would make your blood run cold. Passion can get out of hand. Convictions can result in as much retaliatory evil as the original act. Life is full of suffering. Christian, christian, agnostic or atheist, life is hard and difficult enough to bear without all this hate. God isn’t about hate, he is about love.

So, when I see the sides drawn, and I see the shit being launched, I can’t help wonder where it’s all going to lead? We can see where it led in history, and where it leads in countries around our world. Religious persecution is no different than any prejudice based upon colour, creed, sexual orientation or gender. There are good and beautiful people inside and outside of every faith community, every church, inside and outside of every political group or NGO. Who am I to judge. WHO AM I? The world has for so long been about winning… about the right answer… about treating the one with the wrong answer as less than. About hate. Not about love.

I don’t even know what this means yet, but I do know I will not take sides and fling muck at the church or any other group of people on this issue. It’s not right. It’s not loving. When I feel that deep seated desire to judge flood me, I don’t want to go there anymore. I want to  love rather than divide or conquer. And if loving means not having the right words to say, that will be me. If loving means having a hug rather than having a platform or position, I’m OK with that too.

I choose love. As ridiculously improbable as that sounds because I am fallibly human, I still choose love. And I trust I will learn how to love better as I limp along with God in the lead and eyes on Jesus. And I don’t know what it looks like. I wish I did.

Lesley-Anne

What others are writing on the topic and related thoughts:

http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2014/04/02/where-i-stand

http://sarahbessey.com/ones-leaving-evangelicalism/

http://sarahbessey.com/ones-who-stay/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/when-wed-rather-let-kids-go-hungry-than-be-reasonable-on-gay-marriage/

 

 

 

Stan, a story.


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This story is dedicated to my neighbour Stan, who I didn’t know well, but enough.

In the end one of two things happen, you are either filled up or emptied out. Or maybe a wee bit of both. The culmination of the long race of life, and the finish line finally looming up ahead and you having no choice but to cross over, happens to all of us, or will happen, some day.

Stan was no different. 86 years old and 50 of those years spent in the same yellow bungalow with his wife. Apple trees out back, the old clothes line, the perennial garden lining the frontage clearly visible from the picture window where they sat most days, looking out at the world. I’d walk by with the dog, look up and find them looking back. I’d wave and Stan would always nod, not a wave, but an acknowledgement that went deeper.

His wife had one of those debilitating diseases, the ones that take and take and take until there isn’t much left. He cared for her at home, built a wheel chair ramp from the front path up to the door stoop, and kept his vow to love her in sickness or in health, until death. She died, her body emptied out of most things, including some dignity, and the pretty curve of flesh over bone, and her ability to do the personal things that he did for her. But full of his love, I somehow know that even though I can’t prove it is true. I noticed her absence before I knew for sure she was gone, saw him sitting alone in the window, her empty chair.

If Stan was ever outside his house puttering, he’d come over and chat to me. Just before Christmas one year as we were talking at the end of his driveway, I made an appointment with him, told him we’d be out caroling with our family and friends in a couple of nights time and would he be home? He said, “Yes, yes, you come by. I love to sing.” So we did. We detoured around to his place, me walking ahead and wondering if he’d actually be there. As if he had someplace more important to be than home. He was there. He opened the door, nodded to me, and then he stepped out onto the stoop and as we gathered around and began to sing, he closed his eyes and sang out in a strong and clear tenor voice. He knew all the words by heart. He stayed there and sang another carol with us until I was worried he’d catch his death of cold. “Merry Christmas, Stan,” I said. “Merry Christmas,” he replied. “And, thank you,” he said, as he opened the screen door and went back inside to his solitary life.

I never saw a for sale sign, just noticed subtle changes around the place, including a different vehicle in the driveway. I wondered if Stan had died. One day I was filling up my truck at the Petro Can and there he was, pumping gas into his car. “Hey there,” I said, “how are you?” He looked up at me, took a moment and said, “Well hello, I’ve moved.” “I was wondering about that,” I said, “I haven’t seen you around your place.” “I’ve moved into a Senior’s apartment,” he said, “it’s easier that way. I can get meals if I want them, and I don’t have to worry much about anything else.” “Good seeing you,” I said. “I just turned 86,” he said, “it’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” I smiled. He nodded and went back to pumping gas.

The yellow house was knocked down a few weeks back. A new bigger foundation is in its place. It turns out I know who bought the old place. Another neighbour who knew Stan for years and saw the potential, the beautiful lot, the proximity to the beach. He and his wife tried to live in Stan’s old house for a few months. But it was too much for them, too many quirks. “There’s no insulation in it,” he tells me. “I had to cut a hole in the wall and stuff in an air conditioner last summer, it was that hot.” In the winter they noticed a problem with the plumbing, called Stan up, they knew him well enough to do that, just to ask him if he’d ever noticed anything. “Oh that,” he said, “If it gets below -10 you have to take a kettle of hot water and pour it over the step. Not the top step, but the next one down. And if it gets more than -20, sometimes it takes 2 kettles.” He’d lived like that for over 50 years, making adjustments, doing what needed to be done.

Stan died just before Christmas. Last thing I heard he was having stomach troubles. They found him in his apartment, sitting in his favourite chair, the same one I saw through the picture window in his old house. Stan had a stomach ulcer. He sat down one night and stayed there while he slowly bled to death. I hope he went without pain, but knowing Stan, he would have done something if it was necessary.

There are two ways in the end, either you are emptied out or filled up. Sometimes disease or other tragedy comes and takes everything, sometimes it happens quickly and way before you are ready to let go. But sometimes if you are lucky, the ending happens gradually over many years, your whole body filling up with life. And then perhaps you are almost ready to go, having done the best you can and almost everything you had in mind to do.

by Lesley-Anne Evans

Should you wish to share this story or any other posting here at Buddy Breathing, please do so by asking permission of the author, me. Thank you. And thank you for reading.

I need a new language


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I’m beginning to struggle with words that have been part of my life for decades. Perhaps I’ve never questioned them before now, and their meaning goes deeper than surface, as all words do, so maybe it’s the superficial implications of the words that I’m having trouble with. Maybe it’s the perceptions of others, or my perception of what others think? There are most certainly societal considerations,  and what is read widely in the media as the implied wide acceptance of meaning. There are prejudices and notions around all these words: Christian, Evangelical, Fundamental, and heaven and hell and love and the bible and God and Jesus. So many volatile emotions and ideas surrounding my old language of faith/theology/religion. So I wonder, how do I make peace with this? Is it even possible?

In any case, I’m believe I’m on a journey to find new way of describing who I am, a new language. I’m seeking to live a life of integrity where I really mean what I really say and it’s the clear truth of how I live. That means I need to know who I am and what I truly believe, and it’s not that easy. My experience of life at this point is there is always a tension, that I live in the angst of not knowing, yet wanting to believe and with some doubt, believing.

And I wonder why it’s so important to me. Why do I fight tooth and nail to identify myself in a unique way separate from another. To use certain words? Why do I turn my nose up at lingo and yet most certainly speak my own dialect that must be obvious to others. Does this language make me who I am? Or am I who I am, struggling to put words to it? Is it any wonder this would be my struggle as a poet, to find my own words and my own voice to describe my own experience of being human? Why does it matter so? Why? Am I alone in this? How everything somehow matters?

We are looking at Charles Darwin’s writings right now. I’m at Okanagan College part time taking a survey of British Literature from Anglo Saxon to modern. Poetry. Foundations. So I’m surprised at Darwin showing up and it sends me seeking what it outside the black and white of creation vs. evolution, the dichotomy that separates and alienates. I’m looking for the more. The both and.

And I find it. Thanks to my son and his teacher and a book called, “I love Jesus and I accept Evolution,” by Denis O. Lamoureux. I have not read much of the book yet, but inside it is a nifty chart that sets out five unique positions (of many) that one could take on this subject of origin of species. At first glance I can say I am leaning toward the reasonable positions of Progressive Creationism or Evolutionary Creationism. I don’t know… but if I am to choose a position, I will in fact, be placing myself in a camp of thought, a place I seem to be rebelling against in most areas of my life. Again, why?

I was out at a community arts event the other day and we went around the room making introductions. I introduced myself as a, “Recovering Evangelical Christian.” With this caveat, “I’m a follower of Jesus and trying to sort out what that means for me.” I felt some remorse at saying it, yet it is the truth of who I am. At my age I have experienced a lions share of fundamentalism and evangelicalism, and only a wee bit of what could be described as faith freedom. And I am drawn to the freedom of loving God and Jesus in outside my box ways. I’m drawn to the mystery of not knowing rather than the absolutes I’ve been taught since a little child. Because my experience is becoming more and more about what I do not know. Less and less about answers.

You may think me hypocritical because I often attend a community church that would call itself Evangelical Christian. I go for reasons of family relationships and a hunger for community and a heart of service and a desire to learn. And at times I feel like I fit. I  truly love and respect the many men and women who are part of that faith community and call themselves EC, and are OK doing so, but I’m not certain I can anymore. I just don’t know. I feel marginalized but I know I am choosing this place. I’ve always struggled with living outside the perceptions of approved lifestyle, and it’s not the first time I’ve chosen apart because I don’t feel I am the best ambassador for what I’m not entirely sure of myself.

I’ve been reading books like, “My Faith So Far,” by Patton Dodd, and “Skin Boat,” by John Terpstra, and my bible, and watching and listening to what my heart says when I participate in meaning filled liturgical practices such as Lectio Divina, and sitting with God in nature and writing poetry and writing prayers. There is so much I do not know, so much to learn. At my age and in some ways still a babe in arms.

I’m taking a risk sharing this with you now, but it’s part of the integrity of living open and real. I have no answers, have not arrived at any clear direction, but I am willing to keep walking on believing God wastes nothing and in time, something may become clear.

Journeying… studying the bits found by the side of the road, the beauty of the cast off things, wondering how God might up-cycle me.

Lesley-Anne, SDG

He laughs at me which I need sometimes…


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It began several days ago with the need to fast track our young adult kids passport renewals. Well, not all of them, just the one who will be traveling to the US as a last minute addition to a soccer team in need of a strong player.

I called the 1-800 number to find out options for fast tracking her application. I was told certain things. Not all of them turned out to be true, but that’s not the funny part of the story. Here goes…

We went out and got passport photos taken at Costco. The cheapest solution by far. (then our friends told us how their daughter got rejected for a bad photo and I began to ride the worry train thinking maybe our cheap photos would result in our rejection too!)

Not familiar with long forms, our youngest convinced Daddy to help her. He sat at the kitchen counter for an hour, intent on gathering all the appropriate information required to complete the form. He did not have much patience for my delayed responses to his questions. Still, he was doing the work and I was grateful.

Tag team… I arrived at Passport Canada first thing on Tuesday morning with forms, old passports, ID and a good dose of caffeine under my belt. The line was short. I smiled as I approached the counter, a firm believer in first impressions garnering positive results. I wasn’t disappointed, the clerk was friendly and smiling when she told me I didn’t have the secondary pieces of ID required for the application to proceed. Drat! I immediately blamed Daddy who was supposed to have crossed all the ‘t’s’ prior to sending me out for part 2 of the mission. There were some additional items required on my son’s application as well, so all the ‘t’s’ were NOT crossed!

Off I went, but not before texting our youngest to see if she had the secondary ID on her person. She reminded me I had it in my wallet. So, I smiled, pulled it out, and returned to the Passport Canada Office with a renewed sense of accomplishment. I lined up again. When I got to the window I smiled and showed the ID with my signature on the back (obviously when my daughter got her Care Card she was a baby and didn’t have a signature yet.)

“Sorry”, said the clerk, “you must have her signature on it, not yours.”

“But it’s in pen,” I said.

“Then you will have to try to remove your signature and get her to sign it,” she said.

“But what if it doesn’t come off,” I said.

“Then you will have to apply for a new care card,” she said.

“But how can I do that when the timeline is so short to begin with and my daughter needs to renew her passport right away?” I asked. “Can’t you make a concession?” “I mean you have her old passport and her birth certificate.”

“Sorry,” she said, “we need two pieces of signed ID, so her driver’s license, care card, or another piece of government issued ID are required. Her birth certificate is not signed!

“But she doesn’t have a driver’s license yet, she just turned 16 today,” I said.

“Sorry,” she said. “We need 2 pieces of signed government issued ID.”

Now that was completely clear. What I needed. What I didn’t have. What my husband didn’t tell me I needed. What my daughter needed in order to get the passport that she also needed!

After I picked up my daughter from school, I got out the care card and began trying to rub off the pen. It didn’t rub off. It didn’t come off with cleanser. It didn’t come off with toothpaste. No worries, I thought, I will use some nail polish remover. It worked! The pen came off. So did the white strip across the back of the care card. Oh no! Now they are going to think I’m tampering with government issued ID, I thought. Still, I had my daughter sign the back of the card with indelible pen and that was that.

My son completed the missing pieces of information on his application, then offered me his boating license as his second piece of signed government issued ID. But what about your driver’s license, I asked him? It’s a way different signature, he said… and it was.

I shared all this with my husband early this morning while we were brushing our teeth and getting ready for the day etc. And he laughed at me. He called me ‘funny’. I told him I was going to blow a gasket but there were all sorts of signs posted about keeping the environment professional and not raising voices. I told him I would probably just curl up on the floor and cry if things didn’t go well. He laughed again and called me ‘really funny’. Maybe I am… his FUNNY GIRL!!!

This morning I returned to the Passport Canada Office with dragging feet. I anticipated not having what I needed. I anticipated having the tampered with piece of ID rejected and me possibly reprimanded to custody. I anticipated being given a strange look when I passed the boating license across the counter. I wondered if they have a little back room to hold people like me. I felt guilty. I felt unprepared. I was wrong.

The office was empty.* I went to the front of the line and passed through preliminary inspection. I sat in a seat and waited to see a government agent. The agent called me up and proceeded to walk me through the process, checked the SIGNED government issued ID in both cases and… we passed!!!!

$320 later and I was smiling again with the knowledge that opting for 10 year passports would mean I wouldn’t have to go through this process for a very, very long time. Soon a new passport will arrive in the mail for our son, and a passport for my daughter will await my pick up at the Passport Canada Office in several days time. That is, if I have my daughter fill out the appropriate line on the receipt document and SIGN her approval for me to pick it up. 2 days before she leaves for the USA.

“Don’t be surprised if your sons doesn’t arrive in the mail first,” the clerk said.

“Nothing surprises me,” I said. “Nothing.”

*note: if you live in Kelowna and have need of a passport renewal, arriving at Passport Canada between 8 and 10 am is deads-ville. Apparently this is a local culture. Every other office in Canada has a lineup at opening. Ah Kelowna, I love you!

**note 2: the photo at the top is of said daughter at her Sweet 16 paintball party, and does not indicate in any way that the thought of guns or any other form of similar device entered my mind at any time during the proceedings described above. And absolutely no animals were hurt in the writing of this blog post.

Flash Poetry… ready, set, GO!


Lesley-Anne Evans:

It’s all connected. Here’s what is breathing O2 into my creative process right now. That and a prayer blog, and receiving daily verses from Biblegateway.com. And, refocus. Always refocus.

On the way,
Lesley-Anne

Originally posted on Lesley-Anne Evans:

Collaboration is invigorating, and when it comes to writing poetry, words from other sources at once challenge and enrich the process. Lesley-Anne has been experimenting with the collaboration potential of social media on her  Pop-Up-Poetry Facebook Page. For the past couple of weeks, Lesley-Anne has posted Call Outs asking Facebook friends to post words or phrases as comments, but only for a short period of time before closing.

Lesley-Anne takes all their submitted words, allows them to percolate until a theme emerges, then braids her own words into a new creation of poetry. The outcomes have been phenomenal. Participants are excited about it. Lesley-Anne sees the synergy and awakening to a new way of fast collaborative creativity as a fun means to build artistic community and challenge her writing.

Lesley-Anne will be sharing some of her Flash Poems at Inspired Word Cafe, this Thursday at the Okanagan Regional Library Downtown…

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Give yourself a break!


LA in bookstore photoI’ve been deeply focused on creativity this week. Preparing and presenting a talk that I gave on living a creative life @ Purple Vine Club in Kelowna last night. A written version of my story is scheduled to be published in the Sage-ing Journal in March. Stay tuned.

But the just of it is this: We are ALL born creative, we ALL have the divine thumbprint of creativity upon us. I believe it is true.

At the Purple Vine Club meeting last night, creative juices were flowing as guests participated in some fun exercises and also in more introspective ways. I shared my life story, and then invited the guests, at some later date but soon, to take the time to be still, listen, ask, consider and then respond to what it might mean for each of them;

… to engage in a creative way of life, a “poi-eh-ma” with God, by inspiration of this verse;

For we are God’s “poi-eh-ma”/masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesians 2:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

…to engage in a transformative lifelong process, a spiritual pathway of communion with the Creator, by glorying in the fullness of the created world all around us, through expressing our unique acts of creativity, and the resulting beauty spilling over into the lives of others.

Now this is a big ask. It is. It is difficult. For those who wonder about God, about what he is up to in this world. About his very existence. About his relevance. Or, for those who have lots of big questions that remain unanswered. For those who struggle with things that they can’t seem to make peace with. And ones like me who attempt to live in a paradoxical tension of not knowing, everything, but just enough to keep on keeping on, most days. And that is the spiritual side.

Then there’s the creative side, the difficulty of finding the time to be still and listen. Or the thought that maybe there is no creativity to tap into. Or for those who have not been doing anything creative for a long time. Maybe never. For those who forget how.

So, my post today is to encourage you with a wider scope of what creative living might be. Because I’m talking about a way of seeing, and sometimes seeing requires our glasses to be dusted off.

Here are a few words and then some images of what I mean when I say creativity has a WIDE scope in our lives. Perhaps one of these is the language of your CREATIVE life:

music, tattoo ink, concrete finishing, cabinet making, play writing, finding a cure, making a way, attacking a cliff, lighting design, designing new soccer plays, photography, canning jam, cooking, carving, baking, cleaning, organizing, ideas, decorating, gardening, writing, dancing, videography, cake decorating, sewing, knitting, scrap booking, singing, drawing, sculpting, metal work, thinking, sand castles, putting up a tent, grooming a dog, philosophizing, building lego, putting on makeup, refinishing old boats, renovating houses, architecture, engineering, electrical circuit building, dog training, interior design, propogating plants, setting out a race course,  model making, making money, building a business, investing, having a family…

are you beginning to see

DSC_0143 DSC_0364 DSC_0463_2 Love is Stronger DSC_0482 DSC_0104DSC_0067 DSC_0078 DSC_0005 DSC_0020 DSC_0032 DSC_0044 DSC_0082 DSC_0002 DSC_0026

My point is, don’t be so hard on yourself. You have something good to offer up. A creative language that is yours alone to speak into the world. Like the rest of us do. Sometimes it takes time to find it. But you will. Don’t give up.

For me there is a clear connection… Creator God, Creation, Creativity, Creating… it is simple and yet it is profound. I’m not certain I really know what it means or ever will. Please share your thoughts with me on this. I’d so appreciate if conversation breaks out!

It’s always a new year, and each new day is alive with potential. Can you see it? Hear it?

On the same way, looking…

Lesley-Anne

See, I am doing a new thing!


Eowyn+in+battle

I’m not really one for resolutions, but I do find the New Year and Spring and also September to be times when I have renewed energy and this sense of potential buzzing around me like small but pretty flies. Not a lovely image I know, it reminds me somewhat of Charlie Brown’s friend ‘Pig Pen’… so perhaps I should say potential like the small illuminated motes you see floating in sunbeams? Truth is there is a buzzing of ideas and the correlation to something alive and with wings a more apt description. What I mean is, my mind is alive with ideas germinating and taking root, ideas that come in the night and again at first light and keep poking at me during the day. I have such energy. I want to involve myself in initiatives that are fresh and alive and I’m entirely OK with charging ahead into many different things at the same time.

Someone asks me if I am somewhat manic (a rather charged word choice, don’t you think?) I take slight offense, of course. My husband agrees I am certainly not manic, and suggests I might pace myself, but when I ask him how to do that, he doesn’t know. Busted, I say! He gets me and I get him because this is how we do things, and there will be a time where we crash, but not yet!

I’m focusing on a new way of looking at it and choosing to call it ZEAL! A new facebook friend used this word to describe me recently, and I’m latching onto it. He said I had Uber-Zeal! Then he shared the provocative illustration below. Double wow! Sure, I’ve heard of zealous, of being a zealot (that, I’m pretty certain I’m not) but the root word, ZEAL, appears to mean something entirely different than what I thought. On fire… for God. And that description can include many many things and look entirely different to many people.

Uber Zeal

A google search of the meaning of the word ZEAL opened up further definition;

zeal
zēl/
noun
noun: zeal
1. great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective.
“his zeal for privatization”

synonyms: passion, ardor, love, fervor, fire, avidity, devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, appetite, relish, gusto, vigor, energy, intensity; fanaticism

Each one of the synonyms and their life application attract me, compel me, inspire me, somewhat drive me (apart from the last one which I will choose to remember only as a warning, or maybe just as a baseline for balance.) Or maybe being a fanatic for good God things is a good God thing in itself? As always, everything is open to interpretation!
What I’m really saying, as I carry on this dialogue with myself about who I am, and a perceived hope-filled conversation with you about who you are, is this;
Take time to know yourself deeply. I’ve heard and am beginning to see how knowing yourself leads to a deeper knowledge of God. (I struggled with this at first… not so much anymore) So with that in mind, keep on getting to know yourself, what makes you tick, what makes you white hot mad or joy-filled and spilling, what makes you energized and focused and gives your life value. The work of self-knowledge is never wasted. Choose to hear the positive descriptions of who you are rather than the negative. One person’s manic is another person’s zeal. Apply what you learn to your decisions, to your life.
I’m still trying, at my age, to learn what it means to truly live with integrity… my life lining up with my core values. It’s not easy, but it’s so important. My core values center around this:  I believe in a God is up to something GOOD in this world and we ALL have a part to play. I believe in a bigger story and all its many character roles including mine ~ this wee Irish gal who has some off centre ideas and just might attempt to do some crazy stuff because she has a small dose of faith and a strong feeling that everything is connected and everything does matter and how we spend ourselves makes a difference. Yes, I do believe I hear zeal in me!
Some people choose a word each New Year as a focus. I’ve never done that. I’m not saying I’m going to either. But if I were to do it, it just might be… you guessed it, ZEAL.
And if I were to choose one verse, it might be this verse, one that arrived in my inbox just after Christmas and I read it again in awe (I’ve read it before… it always takes me by surprise because of the intimacy and strength of it… the POTENTIAL, of what God can do);
16 This is what the Lord says—
    he who made a way through the sea,
    a path through the mighty waters,
18 “Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:16,18,19 NIV
Happy, happy New Year, my dear reader friends.
Here’s to another new year, new ways of doing good things, renewed perspective and understanding of who we are and what God can and will do because we are his and precisely who we were made to be!
May we be aware and encouraged and energized by the knowledge that God IS doing a mighty NEW THING in us this year! Can you see it?
Lesley-Anne, SDG
p.s. my apologies for the formatting but I just can’t seem to make it work this time around. xo