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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Lingering in silence


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I was watching a Hallmark Christmas movie tonight. In the movie and for the second time today I heard ‘Silent Night’ played soft and sweet and lingering. I love that song. I love it best of all when I’m outside on a crisp winters night carolling with friends and family, and we’ve sung Frosty and Jingle Bells and other more sacred carols, and suddenly we are singing Silent Night. A hush comes over us and whomever is listening at an open doorway, and I feel my soul caught up and carried up up up into the night sky. It reminds me of THIS POST from many years ago, so I’m sharing it with you tonight.

Funny, when I read my words four years later, I recognize I really have slowed down. I’ve been choosing to do things this week that have nothing to do with Christmas prep and everything to do with loving people. And I’m OK with less presents and more presence. I hope my family is too.

Calm and bright,

Lesley-Anne

Here is what I wrote on November 28, 2009:

I’m waiting.

As I post this, with a heavy feeling that I really should be doing other things on my lengthy to do list, I remember last December when the snow came early… and how it changed things for me then. So, I’m waiting for the snow, and hoping for change.

Have you noticed how much quieter things are after a fresh snowfall. My husband commented to me that everything seems to slow down a little when it snows, almost a subconscious response to the forgiving blanket that wraps its way around our lives.

The panic of the Christmas rush is pre-empted by the need to clear the driveway. Conversations break out with neighbours as they choose to do the same. Plans are made for future conversations, eggnog dates are set, and people reconnect. Priorities are revised, and humanity wins over consumerism for a time.

The children get caught up in it as well. The X-box 360 and iPod are left untouched as they rush outside to create snow forts, speed bumps in the street, and havoc with well aimed balls of packing snow! I watch them from the window, full of memories. When the time comes, they reluctantly leave their winter playground and come inside for dinner, rosy-cheeked, energized and full of conversation.

Here in the moderate clime of Kelowna the city seldom shuts down, but back in childhood days in Toronto things sometimes ground to a halt until the snow stopped falling and roads were cleared. Schools closed, people went home from work early, and streets were strangely hushed as people left their vehicles parked and walked instead.

The very things that happen because of a snowfall, are, to me, the things that are most needful in my life. I need to slow down more often, and be fully engaged in the moment. I need to take time for people, to dig out from under the To Do List, and have a good old conversation with my neighbour, with my kids. I need to step back from the consumer-based version of Christmas and consider what this season is really about.

That is why I love the snow and it’s ability to get our attention. Love it or hate it, it has an impact on us. We can’t ignore it. We can’t control it. And it’s silence speaks.

So I’m waiting… for the first snow fall… for another first silent night.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Lesley-Anne

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

For me, myself and I…


Some days I just need to hear myself repeat out loud and in ink the things that are good, so that I can actually believe it. And maybe the more I speak the truth, the more it is absorbed into my heart, mind and soul, to take the place of the sadness, the weight of living. Today is such a day.

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422. His ankle is sprained, not broken.

423. He is almost home… hang on just a few more hours.

424. The game was cancelled. I don’t have to drive in the dark and the snow tonight.

425. The man with the crutch who was there early and offered him the crutch… divine appointment.

426. They care so much for our kids at the school. So, so much.

427. He made us lunch. He made chicken noodle soup. It was so good.

428. There is blue out there… enough to make a shirt.

429. Hugs… nothing like them.

430. A gift under her tree for me.

431. Looking in your eyes. Seeing you looking back.

432. Christmas choral music… Messiah… sigh…

433. Twinkle lights.

434. I love you to infinity and beyond!

435. He tells me he is thankful for my baking and my cooking.

436. The apples clinging to the orchard trees in the dead of winter.

437. Silly movies… very silly movies. Laughter…

438. Realizing it’s about me listening, obeying, not the outcome.

439. Sharing the crosswalk with a sweet older lady… a brief conversation.

440. Saying sorry… getting nothing in return. Being OK with that.

441. Rest. Allowing myself rest.

442. Everything matters.

443. Everything is grace.

444. Thank you, Anne Voskamp, for getting me started. For lifting up my chin, whispering into my heart, affirming the need to speak thanks into being, for the miracles that happen. Thank you, dear Anne.  Perhaps one day we will cross paths this side of heaven?

445. A cup of tea as darkness falls…

Soli Deo Gloria,

Lesley-Anne

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

midweek random ramble 022


It’s been a long time since I’ve rambled here… ranted, yes, but not rambled. So here goes, with seasonal thoughts of Christmas and snow and cold and inside warmth and preparing and stressing and singing and holiness and awe and wonder and sweet and varied moments with family and friends, all on my mind:

Frosty Footpath - winter snow

Frosty Footpath – winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

1. overheard in the front hallway, “Well mom, are you trying to be in style, or to have your own individual style? hmmm… was there a commentary in there somewhere?

2. overheard in the car, “That’s just my old man strength.”

3. overheard on the airwaves through out the house, 24/7 Christmas tunes coming at us on the net… have you ever checked out the abundant free music available online?

4. so the local soccer supply store burned down the other night. We have had such great service from the manager there who always finds us the right fit and a good deal. I sure hope they find a way to open up again before too long. We’re so sorry Soccer X-Press!

5. sent out my first Christmas package by mail to family back east… but I still feel slightly disorganized and lacking in ideas… perhaps a little pinterest coupled with a good google search might inspire and help me with some new and creative gift ideas? After all, no stress, it’s still November right?

6. trying to increase the amount of veggies and fruits and reduce the amount of meat and carbs isn’t easy in a family where teens are hungry every 2 hours… just what do I feed them to fill them up?

7. loving the way Okanagan College offers personal attention to it’s students.

8. mandarin oranges, japanese varieties, miniature varieties, chinese varieties… many varieties are in stores now. Yummm!!!

9. Advent, meaning “arrival’ is something we have adopted into our family tradition. Four Sundays leading up to Christmas are rich with potential for celebrating the Advent… the pending arrival of baby Jesus, the promise of the returning Christ, and the incarnation (the God with us) in our lives. Did you know that Advent historically involved fasting, doing without in varying degrees leading up to the 25th, so when the big Christmas feast came at last, there was a renewed appreciation of the abundant favour and blessing of God.  I like that. The tasting and seeing that God is good.

10. seeking ways to inject my life/our lives with meaning is something I am always on the lookout for… so do you have any ideas for meaning-filled Christmas activities, any stories to share?

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio

Christmas Season 1941 in Worthington, Ohio (Photo credit: dok1)

11. planning and anticipating carolling with family and friends… and the faint possibility that it just might snow while we are walking around the neighbourhood from door to door. Yep, I’m sentimental.

Peace, abundant peace,

Lesley-Anne SDG

Midweek Random Ramble017


1. A big shout out to my friend Heidi McLaughlin on the release of her most recent book, ‘Sand to Pearls’. Watch as Heidi introduces her thoughts on how to make choices that will enrich your life. Yahoo, Heidi!!! I’m excited to read your book, and to feel that tingle up and down my spine when I see some of my own words in print inside! You continue to inspire me in writing and in life!!!

2.

“The secret to great writing . . . is . . .
WRITE!

No, really. It’s true. Too many people spend the majority of their time talking about writing, reading books about writing, wishing they could write, dreaming about the writing life . . . you get the idea. But the fact is, writing is work, and to be a writer one must write and write and write some more.”

Kay Marshall Strom

3. Speaking about being intentional in the daily (writing and everything else), here’s something else to watch and consider… yes, it’s a writing theme today!!! Tim Schroeder, Pastor of my very own Trinity Baptist Church in Kelowna, shares some insights from his book, ‘Life by the Hour,’ in this excellent interview today on ‘100 Huntley Street. Another must for my reading plan!

4. Stories… everyone has them… and they are uniquely written parts of our lives.

Stories are gifts. SHARE., as I was reminded this winter in Starbucks most recent advertising campaign. So, I did!

Here, with the permission of the author (me) I will share again what I had the great privilege of sharing at the Christmas Eve Program at Trinity a couple of weeks ago. A number of other brave souls shared their stories as well. I hope to post a video of the program soon, if one is available.

“Hi my name is Lesley-Anne. My mom had breast cancer, and in the back of my mind I wondered if it might happen to me one day. Even so, it’s surreal to me when recently, my doctor calls me back after a routine test. Next thing I know, I’m being rushed in for more tests and day surgery. And as I wait for results, I’m thinking, “How can this be happening?” I’m thinking the worst. I’m angry. I’m disappointed. But, there is this point where I just say, “OK God, I know you are bigger than this. And I want to believe you are enough for me, no matter what.”

At the same time that all this is going on, I decide to join the Worship Choir and help with the Christmas Program here at Trinity. I want to sing, to praise God openly, like I’m taking a stand on what matters most in the middle of my messy life. So I audition for choir and I make it!

The very next weekend we’re on stage, singing a song called ‘Surrender’, and suddenly I’m crying, because the words are so personal, and I’m standing there giving God all my junk, my fear, my anger, over what I’m going through. And in my heart I’m saying,  “Yes, I surrender all of it to you God.” I feel God’s peace inside me.

Soon, we begin rehearsals for this very service. First time we meet, the director explains to us how the music, drama and experience of the Christmas services are all pointing to one central theme; God IS with us… All Shall Be Well. You can’t imagine how I feel as these words sink in. I am overwhelmed by God and how he knows me so intimately. I made it about my promises, and my worship, and my surrender, proving my trust in God. I almost miss it! So God whispers,“I’m here. I love you.”

“All Shall be Well Lesley-Anne… I am with you.”

God is with us.

Post Script… I received good news from my Doctor… and now I will begin a more vigilant lifestyle… testing more often to ensure everything remains OK. Still, no matter what comes, I stand on the one truth that will sustain me… God is with me.

Soli Deo gloria,

Lesley-Anne