All I want for Christmas…


I’m not usually one for Christmas lists, I seldom ask for specific gifts. Come Christmas morning I will feel quite uncomfortable with all eyes on me. I feel some pressure for an appropriate joyful, grateful response, and wanting my family to know how much they mean to me apart from what they give, but also how much I appreciate their efforts and love to me in their gifts. I’m not gifty. Perhaps I’m complicated content.

My grandmother used to say, “just a hanky,” when we asked her what she would like for her birthday or for Christmas. It seemed such a little thing, a hanky, yet I know how you reach a point (or maybe you were always there) where material things don’t mean much.

So, as I was thinking about what I’d really like for Christmas, it’s about the intangibles of relationships and social constructs that are most meaningful to me… the HOW we LIVE with one another. It comes down to the acceptance of who YOU are and who I am, and finding a way of doing life together that brings meaning and joy to both of us. I want for us to KNOW each other, to love each other all the more for knowing how imperfect yet wonderful we are.

So I am going to disclose some personal things to you with the real hope of acceptance and continued relationship. Forgive me if I’ve been less than forthcoming previously.

So here goes;DSC_0301

1. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Bible. I am a simple woman, simply trying to follow Jesus and infuse all areas of my life with God’s love. I celebrate Christmas because of what I believe. If you want to hear my story, I have one to share.

2. I live in a constant tension of faith mixed with doubt. I do not have many answers, and I’m becoming more comfortable with saying, “I don’t know.” It’s not about convincing, arguing, debating, although there are those who are very good at apologetics, I am not. I believe my life is becoming what it is because of God and me doing life together. It just is, and most days I believe it to be true.

3. I’m uncomfortable with organized Church. I regularly push myself to participate, serve, contribute to my local church, and for a time I feel real belonging, but I often also feel like a square peg in a round hole. I have been, and perhaps always will be, a dweller of margins.

4. I am imperfect. I say stupid things, forget birthdays, don’t return your calls or texts. I talk negative and overly-serious and deep when you want light and fun. I hide from people. I spend too much time on Facebook. I fight with my husband and my try to control my kids. I hate cleaning my house. I’d rather write or read. I’m unfriendly to some of my neighbours, and don’t speak to one. I’ve ignored you. I’ve broken promises. I am horrible at baking, but love getting praise for my cooking. I love getting praise for anything I do, but feel guilty for loving it too much. I want to do things for God, but feel I’m probably doing things for me a lot of the time. I run from conflict. I have strong opinions. I talk too much. There’s more.

5. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I have not been diagnosed with clinical depression, and I am sensitive to those who have been and how much worse they must feel compared to me. However I wonder sometimes if it would be best for everyone (my family especially) for me to spend a little time in a hospital and get myself somewhat re-tooled. If this is even possible. Often my depression lines up with SADD (several months of cloud and no sunshine in the Okanagan), menopause (sleeplessness, hot flashes, irritability etc.), and a predisposition towards introspection and time alone. I wonder how #1, #2, and #3 line up with this point. I have noticed that being more involved with projects around creative expression and things outside the world of being a stay-at-home manager of my family, helps my mental balance. I have noticed that happiness and joy are two different things.

6. I love to create, and I love to see others find their creative spirit and create. I believe passionately in how much better we all are when we find what we are meant to do, what we were created to do, and then go do it. I love to connect with others and encourage them to be their best.  I love to see the ripple effects of love, joy, and healing go out from the heart of each creative spirit into the hearts of others.

7. I want to be part of a bigger picture of creative expression. I am keeping my eyes, ears and heart open to what is next for me as part of the greater creative collective. I am considering how I may pour myself into realizing a new dream around words, writing, giving and growing.

8. I intend to continue to sign “SDG ~ Soli Deo Gloria,” to my work, and attribute thanks to God for what he allows, facilitates and carries out through my one life. I continue to desire and ask for integrity in this.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your open heart. This has truly been a gift to me to be able to write to you, share things at Buddy Breathing for a long time now.

I look forward to what life holds for us in 2014 and hope you write and tell me what you are up to, what you are learning.

May you be blessed with a renewed spirit of deep joy and gratitude for who you are, and the gifts you have been so rightly given.

With my love, SDG,

Lesley-Anne

Recommendations…


DSC_0558I’ve been otherwise occupied, obvious from the date of my last post. I’m sorry. Not much in the way of blogging, or even new poetry writing. But a rich time of learning the history of epic poetic genius, and growing into new word pursuits presenting to me in my community. Awe-struck by it all.

Here are a few things I recommend to you in my latent absence, or in the intent of a poetic line/seed poem that is rooting itself in my brain, in the commendation of sparrows and lesser things;

1. John Donne ~ Holy Sonnets, specifically Death Be Not Proud.

2. Wit ~ Play by Margaret Edson, screen adaptation, starring Emma Thompson.

3. BBC Documentary on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

4. Take a course, push outside the comforting constraints of current circles, learn.

5. Self-knowledge. Dig in. Unearth. Make adjustments.

6. Forgive. Often.

7. Dive into Life. Abandon yourself. That most often requires slowing down.

That’s all my friends.

With love,

Lesley-Anne

Navigating and staying afloat


skin boats

skin boats (Photo credit: 50mm-traveller)

It’s summer. Yup. And that means change and adaptation and realignment for me. I wrote about it here. And now I’ll share a wee bit more here.

I’ve been in a slump since Easters (reference to one of my fav. movies Nacho Libre). I sang in the choir, walked out of the church with a ceiling and walls, and couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t go back. I tried to figure out why. I made up excuses. I was dejected. Apart from a place I’ve been involved with for 20 years, I felt no compelling force drawing me back. I checked out an edgy inner city church. And when nobody there met my entirely unexplainable criteria, I knew I wouldn’t go back there either. I attended to soul care, read the Book, and engaged in spiritual conversations and activities and poetry. But no church.

There’s another book I read recently called Skin Boat, by John Terpstra (An interview with the author, here). A refreshing book about navigating faith (get this book!!!). Like my own faith journey, the author experiences questions without answers, a sense of belonging some days followed by lingering feelings of marginalization and confusion. His journey is shifting and liquid, and of searching for and finding enough to return for. As Terpstra says,

“I have heard everything there is to say about the place, for and against; both its necessity and its redundancy. Have felt it all, in my bones.”

And I guess, for me, it came down to what I felt in my bones this morning when I woke up. Today I chose to go because I wanted to be with my husband, sit together on a wooden pew. With anxiety and angst and dragging of feet, I pried open my fingers and received a crumb of bread from God’s table. (I didn’t go looking for bread, yet I was given enough to appease my hunger). It’s personal, what happened. But there were tears and words and nodding of heads and something inside of me realizing the reasons for staying away were far smaller than the reasons to be part of what is “church”.

Terpstra writes as both poet and cabinetmaker: “I have thought: the reason I persist is for what is being made.”

This morning I felt a seed of persistence sprouting within the soil of sadness I had allowed to gather in me. And a hint of what is possible, what is being made, should I continue to choose this place. I felt the embrace of arms, looked into eyes, listened to words that I scribbled down madly so as not to forget. The music lifted. The tears cleansed. And the seed continues to grow…

As described in this Can Lit interview, Terpstra asks himself why he keeps being part of this wayward and suffering and paradoxical institution, he responds, “this is the only place I know where time and eternity meet on a regular basis.” 

Today, I was at the meeting place.

SDG, Lesley-Anne

Sunday and still here…


DSC_0102

I’m sitting on my couch and the sounds of dishwasher and kids playing ping pong and dog snoozing are all I hear. I didn’t go to the church with walls and ceiling today. Instead, I stayed home and made banana pancakes for my two sons. We talked at the table. It was very good. Why not celebrate God is Love right here and now.

I’m reminded of Mies Van Der Rohe, of his “less is more” approach, and how I’ve got to be reminded of that over and over again when Spring hits and soccer and must do’s overwhelm my preferred life of simplicity. Personal time, family time, down time, meal time, is all affected. I have to seize each opportunity as it comes. Rather than live by obligation or should do’s, do what my heart says. See the beauty in the moment, like the inside of a cabbage I cut open and discovered the beauty above.

I also found this… a reflection I wrote a while ago on an old blog… but think I needed to read again today. For permission. For confirmation. For grace. For the reminder that;

I’m also a simple woman with a sphere of influence that starts at my own kitchen table.

Yes,

Lesley-Anne, SDG

Prostrate…


Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ...

Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ligaments. (Lateral meniscus and medial meniscus are cartilage.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I fell on my face, then my left knee. My hands were entirely unhelpful. It seemed to happen slowly. I felt my head bounce. I stayed very still, assessing damage.

My friend, bless her heart, began to immediately ask questions. Can you sit up? NO. Can you move your leg? No. Are you OK? How do you feel? Not sure. Do you want me to help you sit up? NO. I was having trouble saying much of anything with my face up against the asphalt, my fingers finally moving into action to feel around my face a little bit, push myself up a little bit… enough to see blood on the ground. There’s a lot of blood, I said. And, after holding my position for several minutes, holding my breath for what seemed far too long, I moved my body into a sitting position and was cared for by my friend, by her friend now also now my friend, and a security officer who was involved at this point. This was also difficult. Humiliating. Humbling. Involved water, ointment, Hershey’s chocolate, frozen peas, conversation, love, rest, time.

Involved aftermath, like walking around with my face bruised and scraped and obviously damaged. Noticing eyes averted, unspoken questions, looks of pity, need of explanation.

I am fine. No broken teeth. No teeth through lips. No broken bones. Minor lacerations to eyebrow, lip, chin, cheekbone, and knee. I thank God. Three weeks later and there’s really no proof left that I fell, other than a twinge in the soft tissue of my knee when I kneel. But I remember.

Being a poet, I think about what this means, a lot. To lose control. To be out of control. To fall. Down. Prostrate on your face. To be humbled. To be hurt. To be helpless. To be fully reliant on someone other than yourself. How I’ve heard that pride comes before a fall. How might a life position of surrender be related to a physical position of being prostrate. Before God. A heart position that echos a physical position seldom chosen aside from sleep?

It’s been a busy Lent. I began with high aspirations. To set time aside. To be intentional with spiritual exercises. To write a poem a day… I haven’t written much at all. Palm Sunday is this weekend. Good Friday 5 days after that, and then Easter Sunday. I’m on choir. My heart needs to catch up with this, and I’m reminded that I haven’t kept my promise to watch “Passion of the Christ“. I wonder why I need want to lay myself down? To consider again what it all means…falling…down…

SDG,

Lesley-Anne

Party time!!!


The Party Group

The Party Group (Photo credit: theirhistory)

I’d like to invite you to drop over to bentlily, where blogger and poet and inspirational human being Samantha Reynolds shares thoughts on creativity and living mindfully.

Samantha writes among other things, a poem a day, and features a new poet every week on her blog. This week, I’m the one. And I’ve really quite excited about it!

Here’s the link!

And, if you haven’t visited my new poetry blog, find it here at Pop-Up-Poetry.

In the party mood,

Lesley-Anne, SDG

A surrendered life


Seems I’m a master of melancholy and melodrama and start ups, but not necessarily finishes. At least that’s what the voice in my head says as I sit at my laptop and consider putting into words what may or may not be 100% true for me, 100% of the time.

I’m often tormented in my thought life around how I live vs how I should live. While I hunger for real relationships and depth and breadth of conversations,  I withdraw from my close friends and let the phone ring and texts go unanswered. I hide. Sometimes I don’t check my phone at all. For hours, for days.

Oh, I want to do good. I want to be good. I’m just not very good at being good. I want to love. And I don’t know how to do that in a sustained way. Sometimes I am absolutely unloving. I shared some thoughts on this place of living in the tension of wanting one thing and doing another HERE. But there is more…

Thankfully, this Sunday’s talk (at the church with walls and a roof at Springfield and Spall) is about a way of finding release from living in torment/angst/tension/legalism and living in the freedom of non-performance and  without condemnation (you know, those voices in your head saying awful things about you).

Romans 8 is all about living in the gracious, wide open spaces of spirit focus, spirit life, where I can stop should-ing and could-ing on myself, stop questioning my every move and every pause, and simply walk ahead into whatever God has for me. Believing God will go before me. Believing there is a way to walk somewhat blindly into something you know nothing of, yet do because… it’s intriguing, drawing, compelling, offering more than what simply is the mundane superficiality of life, most days.

This way involves SURRENDER, and I don’t entirely understand what that means in a practical, rubber hits the road, type of way. I want to know. I want to live a SURRENDERED life.

On Sunday morning, after the talk part, we are each given a piece of red paper (blood red, valentine red), and invited to write down something we feel we might leave, deal with, acknowledge before God, something standing between us and the simple and profound way of spirit surrendered living.  And I know what it is, right away. I scribble down not good enough, and take my red paper up to the communion table, to the shredder provided, and push that paper in, and listen while the machine pulls apart the words I’ve been living. I surrender these words to the shredder… and at that moment, surrender to God…

Not good enoughnot good enough… not good enough.

And then I gently take a small piece of bread and a tiny cup of wine in my hand, and go back to my seat, and silently pray to, in the words of John Terpstra, “the one who won us over,” who says with his last breath, I am enough. His life for my freedom. His life for my spirit surrendered life. Jesus, who turns it all upside down and asks me to stop keeping score for myself and everyone else. Jesus who wants me to empty myself of me so he can fill me with something better. I say these words without knowing what they truly mean. What this really looks like in my real life.

Boy with cross

Boy with cross (Photo credit: Eileen Delhi)

I will be thinking on this for a while. I want to live this simple yet profound truth. Not to be great. Not even to be good. But to take the focus off me entirely, and put it back on the one who won me over. I wonder if I can really do it? Can anyone really do it?

Can I capture the wonder of a simple crumb of bread and wash of wine, surrender what hinders, carry significance into Lent, find sustenance enough for a new way of living?

Are you with me… is it possible?

SDG, Lesley-Anne

p.s.


Corn Snow

Corn Snow (Photo credit: ronsipherd)

Are you seeking God? I am. And I don’t think the seeking ever stops. God, to me, is kind of like a taste of something so good you want more, but when you have more, it’s still not enough. And then there are the times you can’t find God at all. And people might say, well, that’s because you moved, not God. Even so, you can’t hear or see him. Like the way the clouds put a lid over the Okanagan Valley, and you begin to wonder if the sun is really there, or ever was there, even though it was here just last summer for an extended stay. And then, the sun comes out! My relationship with God is like that. Is yours?

I went to church (a building at Spall and Springfield) yesterday for the first time in several weeks. I’ve struggled getting there, wanting to be there, making excuses why I couldn’t go and even did some digging beneath that to the real reasons why. They weren’t pretty or even rational, but they were a place to start. Last Sunday I spent some time at the church at Sarsons beach (a concrete table with a lake view) and there I worked through my excuses and some tearful asks of God, starting with asking him to forgive me for the ugly stuff in my head and heart.

I’m not saying going to church need be a marker for you, but for me it somehow is. To not go, means something. And to go, means something. Usually, if I ask God, and if I go listening and looking, I come away with some plain truth. Or something. A word. Or a sentence. Or just a feeling that my heart is a little more tender towards God and his kids that I am with day in and day out, beginning with God’s kids in this house.

So, yesterday I came home from church recognizing what…? Well, I guess recognizing that the message from the text in Romans 7 is applicable to me. That my struggle is like every man’s struggle with wanting to do the right thing, but doing the wrong thing instead. That being a christian is not like taking a magic pill and having a wonderful life. It’s just not. That life is hard and bad things happen and christians like me do not have all the answers. And recognizing that setting time aside to sing and worship and listen and learn and thank and press the restart button is a good thing. Always a good thing, for me.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7, 24-25

How ironic that just a couple of hours later I was so angry at one of God’s kids living under this roof that I stomped upstairs to my room, slammed the door, cussed and stomped some more, and then returned to the kitchen to emphasize my mood with clanging of pots and banging of dishes. Amazing how noisy cooking can get when your mood is involved! Another one of God’s kids reminded me that I should maybe calm down. All this over my inability to pause, to consider, to put down my way and allow a suggestion of another way, just as valid and workable and better than mine.

Why do I tell you all this? I guess because I never, never, ever, want to give the impression of being anything I’m not. Maybe I might come across as having answers or even having the answer to a specific situation. That’s so not true. I have an opinion, I have a suggestion, I have lessons I have learned. That is all.

I know I’m repeating what I shared a few posts back, but I just want to make sure you hear me say the only hope here is God variety hope. God hope. Jesus hope. That’s it. I don’t offer anything else lasting.

So, does my position on giving ‘answers’ mean there are no absolutes? Absolutely not. But I will not sacrifice relationships for “being right” any more. I will present what I believe is true, and I will try to do so with kindness, with love. If you ask me hard questions, chances are I will not have a prepared shiny answer for you. I’m not gifted in apologetics. I’m not a critic. I might suggest you read something. I might suggest you talk with someone. If God would use my life and this blog to say something, then I am humbled by that. Greatly humbled.

God is what matters. God is interested in you. God wants to answer your questions, so, seek God out in the myriad of ways you can find him. It may be in the fullness of the natural world. It may be in music, or in the arts, or in a church, or in people. In serving, or giving, or learning, or solitude and silence.

Saturday I sat outside as the sun pulled back the clouds and shone it’s warmth on my face. I picked up a handful of snow, somewhat melting and compacted into little snow balls turning into ice balls… corn snow, I believe it’s called. And I held it there, sun glinting off the surfaces like little mirrors and I thought of those little balls of snow ice, how cold the melting in my warm hand, and what a sensual God, God is. How we can find him with our ears, our eyes, our fingers and our tongues… how everything is a miracle.

How the fullness of God, God glory, is waiting to be found in everything.

Tell me, where have you found God?

SDG, Lesley-Anne

Hope is oxygen, and random stuff leading to New Years…


1. A worthy pursuit is capturing JOY (and HOPE) and sharing it with others. Buddy Breathing is about sharing HOPE. An example of sharing JOY is Jump for Joy, a ‘project’ blog by a Canadian born photographer. Her project is to capture photos of people expressing joy while leaping into the air! People from all over the world, including many Canadians. I smiled often at her photos, proof that JOY (and HOPE) is contagious!

2. Speaking of photography, I’m excited to share that my son Malcolm is launching a photo blog. He has some amazing shots in his portfolio… coming your way soon…

3. So, here we are mid Christmas season and feeling a tad… bored? It happens when so much emphasis is placed on prep for THE DAY, and then THE DAY comes and goes and there isn’t much to do anymore. You’d think we’d be happy about this. Why is relaxing into the moment so difficult? But it is. Have we forgotten already the magic of a winter’s evening on the ice… just last week?

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4. Poetry… how best to share it, market it, send it out into the world to live and breathe. Many differing opinions, many options to consider and do nothing about getting it out there. So, 2013 is the year of setting my poetry free (publishing). I begin by attending a Patrick Lane January workshop at Honeymoon Bay on Vancouver Island, more learning, more writing and serious goal setting. Then the rubber hits the road. Writing is work. Writing poetry is work. Selling poetry will be even more work. As always, you’ll be the first to know the details!!!

5. Naming gifts has been something sustaining this year. Beginning with reading Anne Voskamps book, One Thousand Gifts, and awakening my soul to gratitude in every great and small thing in my first naming post, I managed to name 445 gifts in just over 6 months. Not 1000, but well on my way. A daily naming would get me there, but that’s not the point. For me it’s about remembering to be thankful, and that’s not full time or all the time, but the sometimes that are slowly growing closer together.

6. Almost at New Year now, I pause to remember what has been gained, what has been lost this year ~ a sweet friend passes away too soon, eldest son grows up, goes away and comes home again, middle son graduating, daughter fledging, husband loves, survives heart attack, we make changes, eat healthfully, exercise more, parents visit, peer mentors emerge, old friendships deepen, poems written, contests won and lost, publishers say no and no thanks, Pop-Up-Poetry launches, I live and learn and lean into what God would have of me.  I still consider a Soli Deo Gloria tattoo. Life continues…

Thank you for the path you’ve walked alongside me this 2012. It’s a privilege to write for you and imagine you reading my words, considering things I mention, and I get SO EXCITED when some dear person says something back to me! My heart LEAPS! May you continue to find HOPE here, and beneath it all, the foundation of God bearing up the life of this very ordinary woman.

All is well with me. In borrowed words, “all is grace

Lesley-Anne SDGDSC_0485

midweek random ramble 023


emmy eyes1. A shout out and blogacious thank you to Robert Rife, author of the insightful blog Innerwoven and frequent forays into poetry at Rob’s Lit Bits (check both out, especially Rob’s transparent and vulnerable life story which he posts in segments, called “From Earth to Sky”). Mr. Rob Rife generously included Buddy Breathing in his list of “cool blogs”. Well, Mr. Rife, you are too cool for school too! And a great big thank you!

2. A beautiful boy named Jordan Unrau left this earth last week to be with Jesus. Jordan attended Kelowna Christian School with two of our kids. He was just 15. I can’t imagine what his family is facing now, what they have experienced in the past year, and yet there is so much more than pain in their story. Here is their blog called Jordan’s Healing, which contains the most profound expressions of faith I have ever encountered.

3. Decking my halls with a girlfriend is a brilliant idea. No more feeling sorry for myself that the family is less interested in the process than the result. No more pity. All light, all joy, all music and eggnog and girly conversation, and a beautiful end product that everyone can enjoy!

4. Started watching “Touch” on Netflix. Becoming attached to the character of Jake, and wondering what the world might look like through his eyes… if there is documented proof of ‘seeing’ in the way that is portrayed in the show? Might wonder only be visible to some? Hmmm…check it out. And, according to this article, Season 2 will be released Feb. 8, 2013.

5. I finally bought my airline tickets! I’m attending a workshop with poet Patrick Lane, on Vancouver Island, in January. I’m feeling a little scared and giddy at the same time. To learn from Patrick will be a landmark and a huge honour. To share my work with him, will take courage.

6. Facebook… I have to say I miss you once in awhile, but not as often as I thought I might. I’ve done great and wonderful things without you. Like, thinking without interruptions to post thoughts, fixing things around the house, organizing things around the house. writing, special projects, seasonal preparations, connecting with real people in real life, and I’m surviving just fine thank you very much. Still, I do like you Facebook, you just have this way of sucking the time out of me. Maybe it’s just me, but I think a little bit of you goes a long way. Maybe we’ll catch up again in January.

In all things, somehow grace enough.

Lesley-Anne SDG