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

Mercy


A powerful light shines in the dark.

A powerful light shines in the dark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When boys carry bombs in backpacks

Lord, have mercy.

When cancer empties inside out

Lord, have mercy.

When mothers give in

Lord, have mercy.

When death drives by

Lord, have mercy.

When foundations fail and floods come and evil is on the move

Lord, have mercy.

When it’s not just on television

Lord, have mercy.

When we are burdened and sorrow filled

Lord, have mercy.

When darkness falls

Lord, have mercy upon us and

Lord, send light.

 

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

begin with ‘j’ words…


446. judgement, jealousy,  justification… mine to own, my sinful nature to recognize, mine to gain freedom from. Naming them, and asking God to forgive. Again. Often. Again.

447. finding a jewel beside the bench by the lake, recognizing the metaphor in the single cubic zirconia in a cheap, rusted setting… seeing myself as tarnished, vintage, yet priceless in God’s sight.

448. that behind the heavy lowness of grey clouds, vapour that we cannot grasp or touch or break through often for weeks at a time, there is a glory of sun and warmth and potential for growth, within a vast blue of sky. That this is a season of waiting, perseverance, rest… and more.

449. wind crisp against my face, icing my skin, and the rush glow in my cheeks when I get back inside the warmth, teens and dog welcoming me home.

450. steam rising from a cup of hot coffee with milk and sugar, the warmth expanding.

451. son asking how my walk was.

452. that God can be found outside the walls of the church.

453. son studying hard for his finals.

453. daughter kissing me.

454. finding there is unity in marriage and creating new ways to get there.

455. deer nibbling shoots on orchard trees… following their tracks along my street.

456. iris poking up out of the snow as the mercury announces the possibility of Spring.

457. open mics, music and poetry… blessing God for creativity in all its forms.

458. the profound simplicity of my husbands words, “just breathe.”

459. telling God everything. Yelling sometimes.

460. remembering the naming of the gifts. Re-visiting this way of gratefulness.

461. that this world and these people are wonderland, the fullness of God’s glory, the echo of his voice, that my eyes become dull and my heart crusted over and my ears deaf, and I need to take time to remember all he has given.

That confession and turning is the restart button… that God’s grace is always waiting… and action always follows.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

Vintage Disney Posters

Vintage Disney Posters (Photo credit: cattias.photos)

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

Raging at God


The Grey

The Grey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Note to self: Know that what you are about to write might be misunderstood. Know that this is about intentions, about being honest, about talking about elephants in rooms. Know that when you have finished this blog, you will always wonder if you should have posted it. Write and post it anyway.

Last night I watched a very disturbing movie called “The Grey starring one of my favourite actors Liam Neeson. The language in the movie smacked me around. A bunch of northern Alaskan oil workers made up of ex-cons and blue collared real men really do talk that way. They use the f-bomb like salt… every sentence liberally sprinkled. There were times when I wanted the bombing to stop… my ears hurt.

The Grey was over the top, emotion packed, a thriller of a movie with amazing cinematography and great acting. No spoilers here, hopefully. Yet what struck me most were the underlying spiritual aspects of the story, which came to a head here in this scene where Ottway (Neeson) has just lost another companion.

WARNING, THE FOLLOWING SCENE CONTAINS INTENSE EMOTIONS AND EXTREME LANGUAGE THAT MAY OFFEND:

The reason why this scene gets me, why it is so raw and powerful and punches me in the guts, is because I recognize it. Because I have raged at God. Because I’ve recently heard words very similar to those in the movie from someone I dearly love, and I stayed silent and let them rage on.

I have said, “F*%k it… I’ll do it myself.”  Maybe not in those precise words, but close enough. I’ve railed at God, told him how disappointed, how mad, how frustrated I was with his lack of showing up, doing this, doing that, answering this, working this out, and not understanding me. I’ve thrown tantrums. I’ve thrown stones. I’ve crossed my arms and raised my fists. I’ve grown tired of waiting for him to do what he says is going to do.

What do I expect from God anyway? Do I think that if things don’t go the way I’d like them to, or if there are difficult times, that God is against me? Do I think he doesn’t hear, doesn’t see, doesn’t care?

And if God (the same one who I believe made, knows and loves me) is completely OK with me being completely me, then is my raging-out-of-control-verbal-tirade OK with God as well? Can I be that honest with my God?

I’d like to think that even though my perspective goes off the rails and I’m overwhelmed by emotions/hormones and lack of understanding/self-control, that God is OK with that. I’d like to think that God hears my pleading through my profanity.

I can think of at least one example of a Hebrew guy who God called “his friend” who raged, bargained, begged, cried out in self-pity and isolation and pain. A guy named David (of the Goliath killing kind of David) comes to mind. So if David, why not me, why not you?

Still, there has to be a turning point somewhere, where I stop being angry at God. A point where I am just like a child whose had a face-turning-blue-planked-body temper tantrum, and is worn out in a limp sloppy mess on the floor. When I’m done with all my raging and railing, and my ego/anger/will is spent, there must come a time where I choose to surrender to God. Even if I don’t get it, or don’t get what I want, or don’t ever understand what God’s doing. Even if I can only muster up a speck of faith that says something about God being in charge and not me. Even then…

The Grey teaches me perspective on life and death and how I relate to God in tough places. I will probably never be hunted by wolves, or have to pit my white suburban survival skills against the wild of Alaska. My wild places are closer to home, like in relationship struggles, or in health issues and the crushing challenges faced by those I love. Packs of wolves called depression and loneliness, low self worth, selfishness and jealousy relentlessly hunt me. They chase me down in my marriage and try to tear out my throat. I find myself worn out, cut off, facing eminent danger, and then I rage at God because things aren’t turning out the way I thought they might. It’s true. That’s how I am.

But when the emotional storm passes, I quiet myself down, and allow poetic words like these to wash over my ravaged mind. Ancient words; a reminder of the primary directive and focus of my life, a reminder of my place in the scheme of things. When the raging is over, I go and lay down trembling and wait on God;

16 I heard and my [whole inner self] trembled; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones and under me [down to my feet]; I tremble. I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress when there shall come up against [my] people him who is about to invade and oppress them.

17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!(A)

19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]! 

Habakkuk 3:16-19, Amplified Bible (AMP)

Shivering in the cold and muck. Still, as one character in “The Grey” says, “I am not afraid, I am not afraid.”

Lesley-Anne, SDG

Naming one thousand gifts… day 7


1,000 Gifts

1,000 Gifts (Photo credit: LearningLark)

I’ll never forget the day I was reading a soon to become favorite chapter of my old KJV Bible… Isaiah 6 … and came upon this note in the middle column. It said,

“his glory is the fullness of the whole earth”

…and it being Spring, and it being that time of day when I walk my old dog Buddy, I began to think on those words and that idea as I walked through my neighbourhood seeking evidence of God glory.

I looked and saw… a rose bush, fragrant with hundreds of blooms. I moved closer, nose pressed into the middle of a heady bloom like a small girl filled with wonder and I thought… there is enough glory in this one bloom, but his glory is the fullness of every bloom on this bush and every bloom on every bush multiplied over and over and over and over and over… And that… and even that, is just the beginning, a minutia of the glory of the one I call God. The earth shouts glory glory glorious fulness everywhere!

And these walks and this seeing began to be part of who I was, how I lived and how I wrote about what I saw, and the thoughts that came from those things that my eyes beheld. Poetry was born in the beholding. Stories germinated there…

I found God in new places, heard him tell me truth, share love through the world around me, in particular the natural world. And my heart began to grow in the process, my understanding of God stretch a little wider, deeper. In 2009 I share one such God ambush in,  “October Valentine”.

So, it’s no wonder that when I begin to read Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts” a couple of weeks ago, my heart presses hard in my chest as I feel an echo of Ann’s words that I believe I am living (not every hour of every day, but still…). Ann’s idea of slowing down, taking notice and finding God in the details of the life beauty all around me… makes complete sense to me.

But, the naming, the listing, of those gifts from God, the thankfulness for them a doorway to gratitude and joy and a changed life… well that is a new idea to me. And here He draws me…

Thus, my list begins and grows longer and my heart yearns to learn and I lean into whatever this part of the God trek is that I am on, somewhat limping and sometimes sidetracked and still believing… I write it all down…

98. unexpected invitation from my husband

99. unexpected text message from my son

100. unexpected gift from a friend

101. sun, 27 degrees,  first day of summer feels like the real deal

102. dog laying at my feet

103. chicken on the bbq

104. a good article to read

105. textures

106. colours

107. cold glass of fruity white wine poured with love

108. planting potential in the garden

109. the way NY Red Bulls Thierry Henry moves a soccer ball

Red Bull New York's own TH14 Thierry Henry, ma...

Red Bull New York’s own TH14 Thierry Henry, making a play on the ball midfield versus Real Salt Lake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

110. all of us watching major league soccer on TSN

The road to Easter…


The road to Easter…

Over 2012 years ago you rode into the city that would be the death of you, Jesus.  You rode on a donkey, and people flocked to see you, laying down palm leaves and their clothes on the road before you.  They called out to you with shouts of excitement for who they, in their somewhat narrow minds, thought you were — deliverer from the oppression of the Roman rule, catalyst for a new power, a new age, a warrior prophet – one whose words promised a better way.

“Hosannah in the highest,” they cried out in a euphoria that passed in waves throughout the crowd.   Did they wonder why their future King rode on a donkey? Did they question your lack of weapons or armour?  Did they wonder what action you would take in the capital, who you would see, what you would say?  Or were they merely curious about this one who raised the dead?

And your closest followers – what were they thinking?  You had given them fair warning on several occasions but did they really fully understand that your journey to Jerusalem would be a one way trip?  As the crowds screamed, did the disciples glance at one another in disbelief?  Or did they get caught up in the party atmosphere and miss the look of intent on your holy face?

What gripped Peter’s heart that day?  A warriors heart, was he preparing for a fight?  And Judas, where was his heart as he walked beside his comrades?  Was Satan working evil in his heart even then?  Did he feel discomfort, embarrassment at the spectacle his teacher was creating?  Did he lag just slightly behind the rest, distancing himself from direct eye contact with you?

Who was in that cheering crowd?  How many of those whom you had touched with your healing hands, had received your words of life-change were there watching, celebrating, feeling a renewed overwhelming thankfulness mixed with disbelief at what you had done for them?

Did the man with the once withered hand lay his coat on the road in front of you?  Did the bleeding woman, fully healed, weep for joy?  Did the demon-possessed, now spirit filled one, sing songs of freedom that day?

And then, you passed by, and they watched your figure grow smaller in the distance, the sounds of rejoicing fading with you.  What happened to them then?  As they returned to their homes, their vocations, their families, what occurred in the hearts of so many who, only a few days later, would be part of another crowd of screaming people yelling out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”?

And I see in that fickle crowd a snapshot of myself.  My heart full of adoration one day then lukewarm the next.  My intentions for service, love, relationship grand and strong, and then slowly becoming complacent.  Allowing circumstances to dictate my feelings and overrule my heart for you.  And I , like Judas perhaps, avert my eyes in embarrassment and shame for who I am, for my lack, for my defeat and I drift even further from you as I look inward rather than into your eyes.

I see me in that crowd – euphoric in worship and lofty intentions on Sunday, then discouraged in my real-life by Tuesday.  How many of us experience our faith like that?  Striving, trying, desiring, hoping, but with no staying power?

Fall on God’s grace, some say!  Let go and let God!  Surrender!  Yield!  And my heart cries, “Yes”, while my head asks, “How often”?  How often must I revisit this place of surrender, of repentance, of crying out to God to rescue me from myself?  

Still, in spite of all my limitations I choose to stay close to you, to do my best, to listen for your voice and obey, love my husband and my children, learn to love my enemies, and serve you with the gifts you have given me.

And when I fall and grow tired, when I am complacent and ashamed, I will come to you again and again and again – hungry for  a fresh look into your understanding eyes – and your grace in my life.

I will, in all my humanity, call out, “Hosannah to my King!!!”

Anne Shirley, BFF’s and why girlfriends matter…


Free Anne of Green Gables quote poster

Image by the green gal via Flickr

Here is something I wrote for my friend and writing mentor, Heidi McLaughlin, for inclusion in her new book, ‘Sand to Pearls’. You can pick up your copy online at Amazon.ca, Barnes and Noble, from Heidi McLaughlin, or at your local Christian Bookstore.

This morning I had the opportunity to sit with a vibrant young girlfriend of mine over a cup of ‘Americano’. We sat on stools at the coffee shop window, and talked about stuff like relationships and jobs and the economy.  An hour later we hadn’t come to any conclusions.  Yet, as I headed out the door to my day, I felt something shift — a hopeful kind of energy had begun to percolate inside me.

My life is full of these type of girlfriend encounters.  God has splashed the canvas of my life with a colourful collection of women who overwhelm me with their unique beauty. They widen my understanding of friendship with their hilarious and serious, gracious and goofy, energetic and organized, wise and spiritual, artistic and technical, youthful and experienced selves in my blessed life.  From my type ‘A’ friends to more reserved ones, the ones I see often, to those who I know only virtually, my life is rich and fun and livable because they are all my friends.  I would be lost without them.

When I was a little girl I had dreams.  And, like other little girls, I dreamed that I would someday become a teacher, an artist, a veterinarian, even a heroine in a fantastic story.  I also dreamed of having a best friend — another human being who understood me completely.  Like Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, I longed for ‘a bosom friend’ with whom I could share life, through thick and through thin.

This notion of having one special friend that was ‘closer than a brother’ effected many relationship decisions I made. I tried, trusted, and then mistrusted females in my life who didn’t fulfill my vision perfectly. And I experienced broken relationships, including ones where I did the breaking. A lot of pain in my life was caused by this childish fantasy of finding one ultimately fulfilling relationship.

Mid point in my life, I’ve finally come to realize that God never planned for me to place a  ‘BFF’ on the pedestal of my life. No girlfriend or husband or child is meant to be there. That place is reserved for God alone.   God wants to be my best friend forever.  So I’m trying to lean into that truth, and remove the pressure of my needs on my human friends. How could I have been so blind for so long?

With God in his rightful place, I can see that he has given me exceedingly more than the realization of my dreams.  God has collected a wonderful plethora of female friends and said to me, “Here, these are for you… these unique, timely, divinely assigned friends are for you, just as you are for them.”  My God given girlfriends custom blend of humour, grace, wisdom, soul wrenching honesty, and spiritual connectivity, are just what I need, at precisely the time I need, for whatever God needs me to learn, change, grow in or go through.

So I thank God for each one of them, and for the way that he uses them to plant tiny seeds of hope in me. And when he brings along someone new, I get quite giddy dreaming of the possibilities of how God will work through this girlfriend-in-waiting. I trust that he’s got that all figured out, just like everything else.

Thankful…Lesley-Anne