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

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Of Bugs and Bones ~ Part 1


English: color isolation photograph of Patty a...

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What I’m about to say will polarize. There may be those who immediately write me off, label me fanciful, delusional. And there may be those who allow within my tale, a tiny inkling of the possibility of truth, because they have experienced something similar in their own lives. I share my story anyway because is what my spiritual journey looks like. It’s complicated. It doesn’t always make sense.

I’ve longed for the audible voice of God, like Bible giants Moses and Abraham heard, but for me that’s never happened. I read The Book, not as often as I might do. I listen to wise ones teach on The Way/Truth/Life. I pray, somewhat hesitantly. But to hear God’s audible voice, not yet. Instead, I’ve had thoughts come to mind, found my attention drawn to seemingly inconsequential things I couldn’t ignore. The experiences I’m about to share are examples of this way of finding God. Bugs and bones and the natural world have opened up spiritual pathways to the divine. In the fullness of the glory of the earth, I  recognize God’s hand.

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I feel like God’s taken a long vacation, and doesn’t write or call or text me a thing while he is gone. Usually this coincides with times of discouragement, or depression, or when I’m dog tired and need God but can’t find him. But other times, I ‘try’ to see God and feel a disconnect no matter what I do. So I wait. It’s hard, but I do. ‘Cause I believe he’s going to show up, or my eyes will open up, my ears will unplug, and he’ll have been there the whole time. I’m sure it’s me, not him, breaking down communication (hint of deeply engrained childhood guilt). The past few months have been this way. Silent.

In any case, here’s what I want to tell you. Well, the first part anyway.

In April, 2005, I went up to the Seton House of Prayer, a Catholic retreat centre high up in the hills above Kelowna, B.C.. This short physical journey to retreat was stepping way out for me.  I’d never practiced solitude before. I went to Seton House with a healthy dose of curiosity and cynicism. I set aside four hours to read The Book, pray, seek God (whatever that meant), and as is typical of me, I had a schedule neatly laid out, with lunch break, and plenty of time to pick up my kids after school.

I retreated to the Hermitage/Poustinia, a rustic little cabin perched on the edge of Okanagan Mountain, with a chair, a bed, a sink, a kettle, a selection of teas, a porch, heat, and a single bed (for overnight solitude experiences).

I was ready. Only problem was, time went by very slowly. I read verses, unearthed gut wrenching answers to all my preselected questions, prayed heartfelt prayers, took notes, grew tired, took a nap, and finally, with only two hours gone, and not much in the way of even the smallest epiphany, I took a walk around the grounds.

It was a chilly Spring day, and from the height of the property I could see 360 degrees, Lake Okanagan coursing north to south, the embracing ranges of Columbia and Cascade, dwarfed City neighbourhoods below me, the bridge, roads, forests, all under a tentative blue Spring sky.

I walked along a gravel pathway, lingered by the stations of the cross (which I’d never seen up close), and then I sat down on a large rock. I sat still and quiet, listening to the wind, watching a Bald Eagle float on an updraft, listening to the sounds of birds nesting and singing. It was very peaceful there. I sat for a long time, wondering about God, wishing he would speak to me, confused about what this time of solitude was really for. Wondering, wondering… and then…

Her small red body caught my eye as I sat waiting to hear from you, God. And then…

“Lesley-Anne, look at the little bug scurrying about.”  

Yes Lord?

“She’s busy working.  But Lesley-Anne, I also made her to fly!  You are like this bug – busy, madly working away, but you’ve forgotten I made you to fly.”  

But how Lord, I asked?  What do you mean?

“First you must unfold your wings – they are folded tightly against your body.  Your wings are what I have equipped you with – your talents and passions – open them up, then let go!  I am like the wind – I will carry you where I want you to be.  Trust me.  Like the eagle and the ladybug, you will soar and not grow weary.  I’ve given you all you need to rise up.  You were not meant to remain in deep solitary places. Yes, you will go there sometimes, but you cannot stay there or you will drown.

“Rise up, my child.  Fly!

Coccinella quinquepunctata HE e01

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So, at this point you may be thinking I conjured this, imagined it, and how convenient for me if I did. Suddenly, I have this ‘experience’, justifying my time of solitude, and more importantly, giving me something impressive to talk about when I come down from the mountain. Did it really happen? Did I really hear those precise words? Did I imagine it? Embellish it? Did I find the ladybug, or did she find me? Coincidence? Illusion? And why is it even important?

Truth is, it took me seven years to tell this story. And I tell it now with a mix of reservation and conviction. I know I can’t prove it. All I can tell you is it happened. I ‘heard’ word thoughts in my mind. Not a voice speaking out loud, but a thought voice, rushing these words into my consciousness. Was it God? Well, was it?

That day in April, 2005, marks the beginning of a narrative of ladybugs in my life that continues to be written to this day. I told you my story is about “bugs and bones.” My bug experience does meld with bones, but several years later. I’ll tell you about that another day (click HERE).

Fast forward 10 years, to last weekend, April, 2015, Vancouver, B.C., a 7th floor balcony… and God ambushes me again, in this never ending story that surprises, mystifies, and bolsters my often fickle faith. I will tell you more about that too sometime, I promise.

Watchful,

Lesley-Anne

P.S. The story continues at “Dem Bones, Dem Bones ~ Of Bugs and Bones, Part 2”

Poetry Friday032


I’m reading my Bible this month,  following along in Luke chapters 1 and 2, enjoying the wonderful details of the Christmas Story… that ageless story of the prophecy areound, conception of and humble yet miraculous birth of my Lord Jesus Christ. I came across this poem in the sidebar of my Bible (Women’s Devotional Bible – NIV), and want to share it with you today. It is lovely.

Virgin

by Luci Shaw

As if until that moment

nothing real

had happened since creation

As if outside the world were empty

so that she and he were all

there was – he mover, she moved upon

As if her submission were the most

dynamic of all works; as if

no one had ever said Yes like that

As if one day the sun had no place

in all the universe to pour it’s gold

but her small room.

Sunday Soliloquy


Luke 2:1-20  – from “The Message”


The Birth of Jesus

1-5About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

6-7While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

8-12There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

13-14At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

15-18As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

19-20Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Sunday soliloquy


Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible

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“1THE SPIRIT of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound,(A)

2To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord [the year of His favor] [a]and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,(B)

3To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion–to give them an ornament (a garland or diadem) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit–that they may be called oaks of righteousness [lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God], the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61, verses 1 to 3, The Amplified Bible

Midweek random ramble008


Bowl of Mott's Cinnamon Flavored Apple Sauce

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1. Reflecting on a simulcast conference I attended yesterday. Are you like me… find yourself all fired up when you listen to inspiring ones who hold out a better way, and you find yourself longing for it? Well, yesterday was just like that for me. Beth Moore is an amazing speaker and teacher. She’s funny, open and honest, and smart. She knows her Bible, and has a way of explaining it that leaves me wanting more and more of what she is offering up of God.

I spent a couple of hours today reading over my ‘Living Proof Live conference notes, looking up references in my Bible, chatting to God, and thinking about the potential for change in me….

Beth taught on verse 26 from Proverbs chapter 31… which is;

She opens her mouth with wisdom,
And on her tongue is the law of kindness.

I want to be that woman. I want my words to be full of wise counsel and loving kindness and life to those I speak to.

So, I’m inviting God to help me to do that. Be that. Specifically. Daily. Moment by moment.

2. Just picked some Mac apples from the orchard behind us. There’s something about apples… simple and wholesome. Fruit of the earth. Going to make some apple sauce. Going to enjoy the aromas that will soon permeate our home. Going to sink in and cocoon on this rainy Sunday afternoon at home. It’s lovely to just have a home day in the midst of what will be two very busy weeks. Hmmm… Sabbath rest… I can feel that today.

3.  Our life really is going to the birds! This morning we had Rock Doves, Chickadees, White Crowned Sparrows, Quail, and regular garden variety Sparrows outside our dining room window, dining at the various feeders that were just filled up by my son Graeme last week. What a delight to sit on the floor with the dog beside me and look out the dog smeared window at all the bird activity. Do you like birds? I remember my Grandfather was mesmerized by them. Just like he was mesmerized by flowers and plants and all living things. He would say, “Would you look at that!” incredulous, voice filled with wonder.

4. I’m deathly afraid of the dental chair. Saturday morning I bit down on a multi-grain bagel and a very tiny seed wedged it’s way into one of my molars and as I bit down a lurch my stomach type pain jammed it’s way down into my jaw. Ever since I’ve been worried about what that means. Because my dentist said we’d leave well enough alone with this tooth. It has a history and a hairline crack that we’ve been watching. Considering the need for a crown. My first crown. And thanks to that bagel my dental nightmare seems to be coming true.

Last time I was tipped back in the dental chair I became overwhelmed by anxiety, shallow breathing and tears. Over getting one of my wisdom teeth extracted. I may be a bit of a pansy because in all of my years I’ve only had one filling. Lack of experience results in my freaking out when I can’t close my mouth or swallow my saliva or sit up straight or be in control of my own head. Did I mention the fear?

So, after a tearful conversation with my husband regarding the pending crown vs. extracting said tooth (He thought pulling the tooth sounded a bit barbaric, while I thought grinding down for a crown sounded worse) I realized that my fear is just that… fear. And, without getting into the details of some other situations that I have trusted God with, let’s just say that God was with me in the sea and in a cave and he’ll be with me in the dental chair.

Just made an appointment!

5. Reinstating ‘Date Night’ with my husband. We want to do it, talk about it, plan to do it, forget to do it. So, we’re adding it to some things that are ingrained in our weekly calendar which will mean we will no longer forget. Looking forward to some face time with my main man!!!

6. Enjoyed a rousing rendition of ‘Jupiter’, and then ‘Rockin Around the Christmas Tree’ thanks to Malcolm the DJ this morning. Bizarre mixing on my iMac… perhaps some tweaking of the playlists might help :)

Here’s ‘The Planets Op. 32 Jupiter’, by Gustav Holst, for your listening enjoyment.

Sol Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Sunday soliloquy


Psalm 91


You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

14-16 “If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”

The Message