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

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Do not lose hope…


Crying - گریه

Crying – گریه (Photo credit: HAMED MASOUMI)

to all who mourn the loss of beautiful and innocent life, I weep with you…

In the face of the tragedy and evil of this past week, I’m choosing to shout out for HOPE, for LOVE. I’m shouting out to a GOD who deeply loves in spite of all the vile and devastating messes we, his creations, leave in our wake. In spite of who I am, imperfect one, least of all of these, one capable of horrible things, I am SHOUTING OUT to God for all my Buddy Breathing buddies ~ because I’m thinking you, like me, might be feeling a little jaded, burnt out, alone, overwhelmed, sad, helpless, angry, and may be in desperate need of a breath of life? And I know I am surrounded by millions of souls who ask the same questions with a profound sense of helplessness. Others, like my friend and fellow blogger Rob Rife are writing, asking, shouting, crying out…

God, please help us.

Who of us doesn’t feel the oxygen sucked deep from within as news reporters tell of another kindergartener placed to rest? When we hear details of unspeakable cruelty, when we put ourselves in their place, when we shake our heads in disbelief… who of us doesn’t clench our fists and scream inside… WHY!?!? WHY!?!? And what I can offer may not be enough for you, but it’s ALL I’ve got.

God, please rescue us.

You see, I don’t believe there is any hope, any gift, any point, outside of God and his love. After all the pain and suffering is over, after the devastation, after all of it, in the end GOD’S LOVE WINS. I cannot fully explain the why. I believe what we see is the result of a force of evil at work in our world, but even more than that I believe in a God who wins out in the end. GOD is STRONGER than any evil.

God, please overcome our pain, our questions, our loss.

The message of Christmas is that Christ came for us. Jesus became a vulnerable little baby, so that 33 years later he would choose to die a horrific death for us, to sacrifice himself and make a way for us to right ourselves with Father God. (the Easter Story is the rest of the Christmas Story).

Emmanuel ~ God with us now, in our time of deepest need.

We each get to choose God, or not. We each get to decide for ourselves if we want his gift of loving friendship. We each get to gather up our big doubts and our little faith and choose to believe that God does love us and he will always love us, no matter what happens in our lives here… no matter what. God offers us a healing HOPE, JOY, PEACE and LOVE, that starts now and goes forever.

God, please touch us and heal us and restore us.

That’s all I’ve got. That and all the questions that remain around the events of this week. That and all the unresolved emotions.

God, please show your goodness to us, we are desperate for HOPE.

As this youtube video suggests, may we see evidence that there are still good people in this world. May we know in a real way that GOD IS GOOD.

Hard pressed on every side, SDG.

Lesley-Anne

Because you asked…


Cross on Brown Edge. This modern metal cross s...

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A transcription of the poem, “I’m sorry I’m a Christian,” by Chris Tse. If the *f* bomb offends you, you may not want to read this post. If you can see past that,  these words may crawl under your skin and poke your soul. Read on…

Used with permission of the poet.

I am a Christian. I’m sorry.

 

I’m sorry for the way that I come across
So fair and faith friendly and full of myself
Judging your spiritual health by the words that you say
And the way that you dress, and the things that you do
Or maybe just judging you.

 

I’m sorry for the way that I live my life
So confident of my own beliefs that
I would never even think to think about thinking about yours

 

I’m sorry for the wars.
Ivory clad Crusaders mounting steeds and drawing swords
With such a spirit that if The Spirit spoke they wouldn’t hear
But you see the sword of the spirit was not a sword but the Word
And the Word was with God and the Word was God
And they preached this as they marched on the Holy Land
Singing and Praying and Killing and Slaying
And purging and healing and raping and stealing
It’s ironic that they lined there pockets in the name of God
Just like the priests who line their pockets in the name of God
Just like the people that you can’t stand, because they always raise their hand
And spread their faith and hate and judgment in the name of God

 

I’m sorry that I take God’s name in vain
Or rather I’m sorry that I stain the name of God
Defending my selfish actions as selfless actions pertaining to the will of God

 

I’m sorry for being intolerant
For trying to talk down to you
For trying to talk over you
For not letting you talk

 

I’m sorry for not walking the walk
For being a hypocritical critical Christian
Criticizing your pagan lifestyle while my lifestyle styles itself
Just like the televangelist’s hair
All slick and sly and slippery
As the silver syllables slide their way into your ear

 

But see that’s my greatest fear
That the steps I take won’t match the words I speak
So that when I speak all you hear of me
is a weak hypocritical critical Christian
Doing one thing, but saying another
Loving my friend, but hating my brother
It’s a show.

 

I’m sorry I get drunk on Saturdays
and go to church on Sundays to pray
for my friends who get drunk on Saturdays

 

And on that note,
I’m sorry for making the church about the pews and the cross
And the walls and the steeple
Because see the building is not the church
The church is the people

 

I’m sorry that I hate you because you are gay
I’m sorry I condemn you to hell because you are gay
Instead of loving I jump to hatred
Mouth open and tongue preaching
Eyes open but not seeing that you are the same as me
Just a fucking human being

 

I’m sorry that I only hang out with Christian friends
And we do nice Christian things
Like pot luck dinners and board game nights
While in the night a man beats his girlfriend again
Another homeless man died again
Is this the way that my own crowd has been?
But here I am with the same friends again
But see what I always forget is that Jesus didn’t come
to hang out with the priests and the lords.
No, He hung out with cripples and beggars and whores

 

Love

 

I’m sorry for history
For native tribes wiped out in the name of the church
Lodges burning stomachs churning and yearning for justice
And mothers screaming and pleading
Pleading for the young ones
As they are dragged away to church schools
Where they were abused
I’m sorry for the way that I refused
To learn your culture
Instead I just came to spread the Gospel
And the plague

 

I’m sorry that I stand at the front doors of abortion clinics
Screaming at 15 year old girls as they enter
Instead of waiting at the back door to hug them as they leave

 

I’m sorry for taking my wars and my faith to your lands
When historically it was on your lands that my faith was born
And in the face of the storm, I realize that
If God is Love and Love is God
Then why are we shooting instead of sharing?
Why are we launching instead of learning?
Why are we warring instead of walking together?
Why are we taking instead of talking together?
Why are we bombing instead of breaking bread together as brothers?

 

You see I think that God looks down and He’s sad
And from His right hand throne above
Jesus asks where is the Love?
And if it takes Wil-I-Am and Justin Timberlake
Asking that same question for us
To start asking that same question
Then where the fuck are we headed?

 

So I will take this stage to be my chapel
And this mic my confession booth
And in the presence of God, the few,
and the blessed I confess, that
I am a Christian. I’m sorry.

Thanks for reading.

LAE

Sunday Soliloquy


 

 

 

 

 

When did Jesus know He wasn’t welcome
When did HE first feel the rejection of men
When did HE know this world
The world HE made
The world HE loved
The world created by the power of HIS word
Was not his home, that he might be alone
Did he know the manger wasn’t fitting for a baby king
Or did you rest, contented baby, where you were for that season
When did HE sense
That he didn’t fit in
That it was so temporary as to be a breath
Or a withering piece of grass
I sometimes get a whiff of that stuff
I know the happy sad feeling of being but not belonging
Longing and living but coming up short
Making a house a home but never really settling
Settling would mean belonging, being one with this world
And I am not that
Peace evades me
Contentment blankets me at times,
but then a deep discontent that longs for more
that’s not at the store
it rises to a roar
More of what I don’t always know
But more belonging
More wanting
More connecting
More knowing
More feeling
More Jesus
More me and yet less me
I am not ‘it’
I am a part of something I can’t even figure out
I have a promise for a hope and a future
I want the future, but instead I have now
Life, packaged one day at a time, that’s it
And the promise
Jesus, Baby Jesus when did you know
When did you feel the sting of not belonging
When did you sense you were different, inspired and despised
What did you do with those feelings, those longings
What did your mama do to soothe and comfort your hurt
What did papa Joseph do to assure and secure you
What can I do with the knowing
What do I do with the wandering happy sadness of being here
And not being there
Where is there, when is there
Bringing me back to the place from where I was taken
Ending exile
Baby Jesus did you feel exile
Did the angels song make the screaming ache of not belonging go away
For a season, for a day
Did the Shepherds admire and the angel choir
Did they make it ok for the day
When did you know that season was over

When did rejection season begin
What did you do with rejection
How did you endure and last and overcome
How did you love the haters, heal the sin stained, feed the greedy hungry mob
How do I? And Why?
This is not my home, I know exile, this is exile
Why no home? Why no belonging?
Why the constant pain of exile, being away?
Longing for Baby Jesus peace
Peace that isn’t for sale in a Walmart flyer
Peace that isn’t cheaper in Bellingham at the mall
Peace that isn’t groovy and disrespectful of the strain and pain of today
Peace, Baby Jesus Peace
When did you know you were the Prince of that Peace?

Written by a poet who wishes to remain anonymous

Sunday Soliloquy


I am graced again today by my friend Robert Rife, and his ‘modern parable of redemption’. Enjoy.

And, if you missed Rob’s last guest posting here at Buddy Breathing, click here.

“The Woman At the Mart

(John 4:1-26)

by Robert Rife

Today, she wasn’t sitting in her usual place by the window slurping down Budweisers and waiting for “callers”.  No, today was Wednesday.  It was her day to go “to the burbs” and see how the other half lived.  She liked to shop in those big, fancy grocery stores with all those pretty people that would never frequent her regular haunts.  She had a whiskey voice, painted her make-up on with brush and roller and donned leather and spandex like a uniform – the requirements of her station.  It was rare for anyone to ever talk to her when she went there.  Indeed, it was more common to endure the leering gestures of young ne’er-do-wells on a dare. Or maybe the GAP outfitted hard-bodies who only ever looked at her through their peripheral vision long enough to make her feel the sting of their unspoken judgments.

Today was different.

His appearance was that of anyone she might have met during any other visit to this bastion of pretension, role-playing, and economic benefit.  He wore no brand names that she could see and, for the most part, was indistinguishable from his rather astonished group of buddies, she counted 12, who pretended to be shopping nearby.  He politely asked her for the time.  She rolled her eyes and told him she never wore a watch.  Her instinctive reaction was that this guy was merely sizing her up like every other guy she’d ever met.  But something told her to stay and talk with him.  His eyes bespoke a certain gentleness and, contrary to the norm, never left hers.

“Funny, all this food around and so many hungry souls,” he said.

“Yeah, I watch the news.  You’re not one of them ‘bleedin’ heart’ types who gets sucked in by the skinny, little African kids on TV, are ya?”

“Well, actually I was speaking in a more…metaphorical sense.  I mean, people keep coming back again and again to this place, filling carts to overflowing with that which can never ultimately satisfy.”

“People gotta eat, don’t they?”

“Sure.  But it’s what they don’t eat that keeps them hungry.”

She couldn’t decide whether she was annoyed enough at his rather enigmatic statements or if she was intrigued enough to hang around for more.  She decided to take the plunge.

“What do you mean?  Eatin’s simple enough.  Ya eat, ya get hungry, ya buy more food.”

“True enough, but I can give you whole storage bins of food that will keep you going forever.”

“OK, count me in.  Where do I sign up?”

“Go get your husband and we’ll chat some more.”

She gazed at him incredulously.

“Yeah right.  Take a good look, pal.  Do you really think I’m the marrying type?”

“Well, who was that guy who dumped you in the alley last week after he pretended to have good intentions?  You’re lucky to be alive.”

Silence.

“Uuuh… how’d you know about that?”

“You’d be surprised what I know about you.”

Normally a statement so bold and presumptuous would have frightened her to death.  Instead she stood mesmerized with curiousity.

“Come on”, he said, “let’s grab a coffee…got lots more to tell you.”

I wonder how many “women at the Mart” we, and Christ by association, pass by every day.  How many such folks, who are branded as social losers whether spoken or implied, show up at our door each week?  How do such people find Jesus through our language, postures, and “guise” of faith?

Picture the following: the second generation drug user, who has never been inside any church building, who not only doesn’t own a Bible but has never even seen one; the angry youth with self-imposed atheism and hatred of the establishment, especially religious, who stumbles upon us by sheer “accident” looking for the very answers she neither wants nor understands; the desperately bedraggled single Mom who, by incredible force of will against her body’s weary protests, pulls all three of her unimpressed children out of bed on Sunday morning to head to the church she has driven by dozens of times but who, today, inexplicably feels the need to attend; the fifty-one year old executive, let go by a boss half his age through “corporate down-sizing”, forced with the decision to take a 50% cut in pay or face entirely changing the only career he has ever known.  All that in a marketplace environment which worships “young and fresh”, disdaining whatever experience he has painstakingly accumulated over his 30 year career; the 15 year old pastor’s daughter whose quest for attention and a “cool” testimony becomes pregnant casting her family’s reputation and ministry into disrepute and chaos; the High School drop out whose body bruises never have enough time to heal until more appear at the hands of an alcoholic father; the drug addicted mother whose “street time” is only interrupted long enough for her to disappear for days at a time to some crack house where her personal esteem can disappear even more….

Such are the ones to whom Jesus says, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”.  Such are the ones who “once…were alienated from God…but now [are] reconciled…by Christ’s physical body through death….”  Such are the ones about whom Jesus says, “your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”  Such are the ones we are called to seek and serve.  As disciples of Christ, what should we do in preparation for such a lofty and costly call?

Whatever it takes.

A screen fast for Lent?


As I begin to write this, I’m completely aware of the corrective words of Jesus to his disciples regarding praying in public places in loud voices, rather than praying in private. And his words about fasting with long faces so that everyone can see and know what they are about. It seems that the Pharisees (religious leaders) of the day were making a scene to draw attention to themselves, rather than keeping what they were doing between them and God. And Jesus did not approve one bit, and warned his disciples to not follow suit.

So, I have to preface this post by giving notice that when and if I do a ‘screen fast’ or any other kind of fast, I will proceed privately between God and I. I will not blog about the process. There will be signs that I’m not online, but that is all. The details will remain private.

Presenting the idea now is simply to allow you to consider it for yourself.

Lent is a rather new concept for me, as I didn’t grow up with it, and I haven’t focused on it in my adult life either. But, at this time of the year, Lent is practiced by many devout followers of Jesus, who for the 40 days leading up to Easter Sunday, choose to turn away from the distractions of the world and worldly pleasures, and draw closer to Christ. Lent 2010 begins next week on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010.

Not only is Lent about abstaining from certain activities, foods, or whatever you personally choose to remove from your life, Lent is also about what you choose to do with the time that has been opened up with the removal of these things. In Isaiah 58:1-12, Christ teaches that ‘fasting’ without works of charity does us no good. Fasting is also about devoting time to prayer and solitude with God, learning more about him, spending time with him. For example, if fasting my lunchtime meal is what I choose to do, then each lunchtime I would feel the physical trigger of hunger pangs, which would remind me to turn my thoughts toward God in prayer.

When I look at my own life and the values I profess to have, and compare that to how I spend my time and what takes up a large portion of my day, I can’t help but acknowledge that the ‘screen’ is where I’m drawn to most often. Not to my bible, not to my knees, but to my screen. Whether that’s to connect with friends, family, teachers by email, or blogging, or checking my blog stats, or my facebook, or doing important research, or writing new poems or stories, that’s where I go, A LOT. Whenever I have a spare minute, with very little structure or parameters, I walk around the corner to my computer desk and click, click, click. And, without being completely aware of it, I’m there for long periods of time.

So, it makes sense to me that to fast something in my life that might even hold some power over me, it would have to be my computer.

For you it could be texting, eating certain foods, television, shopping, talking on the phone, or whatever you feel could or should go.

40 days is a long time. I took time out from my computer once before, over a year ago, for a month. And that was difficult. People didn’t understand. I felt cut off. I felt disappointed that phone calls didn’t take the place of emails. I didn’t do it then for the primary purpose of seeking God, but for the purposes of breaking the hold the computer had over me. And, here I am recognizing that the mesmerizing white glow of the screen might just have me in it’s grasp one more time. And if I say I value Jesus over all, then my life had better show that singleness of heart and action.

A blog I read occasionally has some great steps to prepare for a ‘screen fast’. I will print them out today and give serious consideration. And then, I will choose.

Logging off for now,

Lesley-Anne