Homework notes…


pe-hi-anne-shirley-sullivan

 

Lately I need a little more help. I’m seeing someone who helps me focus on values, aspirations, problems and issues that need be addressed, and new ways of doing things. It’s not the first time I’ve sought counselling, and each time I engage I find it good. I go in feeling nervous, I come out feeling lighter. I desire change.

My homework this week is to identify 5 women I admire and the reasons why. I thought, why not do this here and then open things up to discussion. And an invitation for you to do the same exercise, if you wish. These women can be historical, fictional, family, or friend. And men, identify 5 men. Or, open it up to 5 individuals… men or women, I don’t think it matters that much. Or, does it? Anyway…

5 Women I Admire:

1. Anne Shirley (as in Anne of Green Gables). I am attracted to her spunky, out-of-the-box personality, her way of testing boundaries, her committed devotion to her bosom friend Diana, her outspokenness, her marginalization yet stick-at-it-ness and make-the-best-of-it, her love of flowerly language and books, her way of rising above pain and circumstance and sticking to her guns. I was that girl. I still want to be her.

2. Christina Cook (my maternal grandmother) who spent 25 years of her life as a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair, her every personal and functional need taken care of by my grandfather, Jimmy. I am attracted to Chrissie’s strength, her resilience, her way of being strong and in charge within herself, not afraid to ask, not afraid to speak, give opinion. She loved the details of life, paid attention to the people around her, and watched All-Star Wrestling every Sunday. Her faith was a solid, and for the most part unspoken, foundation. The love relationship between her and my grandfather was beautiful to see.

3. A woman who shall remain nameless here for privacy reasons. An intelligent, accomplished, energetic, alive, bright spark of a woman who loves with every breath in her body the people in her sphere of influence. Her capacity to remember things, to know the deep things about so many different people, astounds me. I love her heart, her passion, her way of making a contribution equal to that of her husband, who is also a man of great impact. Their marriage is something of curious attraction to me… I want to know how they do it. They seem to do it so very well.

and now it’s getting a little easier, and I only need 2 more…

4. Another woman who will remain nameless for privacy reasons. And it doesn’t matter her name, more who she is. She is a rock. She is grounded in her faith. She has proven this over a number of years where she carves out time to meet with the one who loves her most EVERY day. (well, maybe she misses sometimes, but most days). She takes her pain to God. She gets her strength from God. She is able to talk about the most difficult of topics with a grounded love and empathy and compassion that can only come from God. She takes time to reach out to the hurting ones, even when she barely knows them. She prioritizes people over things, over tasks, over everything. NO, she is not a fictitious person, she is very, very, real. She takes care of her friends, her body, her home, her spirit, what she has been given to care for… very well. She is well balanced.

5. A young woman who will remain nameless for privacy reasons. What I admire most about her is the combination of incredible ability with humility. She has many areas she excels at, yet she shows no indication of her ego getting in the way of her heart, or of attitude seeping in. It is beautiful to see.

Well, that wasn’t as hard as I thought. I think I could keep going and maybe I will.

6. Eowyn of Ithilien, Shieldmaiden of Gondar (LOTR) as a female, heroic, strong, capable woman who finds her role in the bigger story BECAUSE she is a woman, not in spite of being female. She is ‘no man’. And because of this, she overcomes the evil witch king. She is an overcomer. And I guess I could honestly say I am attracted and I admire every strong female role in every movie I watch. Hmmm…

For now, please join in. Who do you admire most. Why?

Lesley-Anne

Eowyn+in+battle

It’s Mental Health Week (and how hard it is to explain how you feel when you are depressed…)


DSC_0005So, it’s Mental Health Week in Canada… May 6 – 12, 2013. And I feel a lot better about celebrating mental health than I do admitting or even accepting that my annual seasonal disorder (SADD) and hormonal fluctuations post partum and menopausal might be a form of ‘mental illness’. Very hard to come out and say that.

Why is that? Is it because there is still so much bias, misunderstanding and confusion around the phrase? Is it because it’s just really embarrassing to say “I’m mentally ill”? (Why is it easier to say (and only to some safe people) “I’m feeling a little depressed”?) Must we identify it in order to deal with it properly? And with medication? And with counseling? And with lifestyle changes that include health of body and spirit and mind? And with the support of those who love us? Yes, to all of the above.

Other than that I don’t have a lot of answers, but I’m willing to admit I struggle.  I’m willing to cast my lot in with all those who share the burden of psychological angst, times of overwhelming despair, and one who has considered not being as being better than prolonged being in this emotional state.

It’s far too complicated for me to explain my whole story, but know that I live with depression, struggle with coping, and I’ve come to recognize it as part of who I am. I am a person of faith who has doubts and darkness. I have the hope of Jesus and yet live in periods of hopelessness. There are others like me in my family. We talk about it amongst ourselves.

This attempt at bringing a little light into a dark place was written in April 2009.

The glimmer of hope is at the very end. It’s usually like that…

So yesterday about this time, I was feeling like my world was caving in along with my chest. Perhaps a little over-stressed, I had a feeling of unexplainable impending doom that was physical, and it was beginning to take over my mind as well as my body.

I stood by the sink after a morning of trying to get some of my menial household chores done, and heard a voice in my head say, “maybe you should just go and check yourself into the hospital”, as clear as day. So, I thought about that for a little while, wondering how that experience might pan out for me?

Hi, I’m here to check myself in.

What for?

Well, it’s that I just can’t seem to pull myself up by the bootstraps, you know. I can’t seem to find my stiff upper lip and suck it up princess, if you know what I mean.

I’m sorry Ma’am, I don’t know what you mean. What precisely are your symptoms?

I guess you could say that I feel like there’s nobody I can talk to about how I feel, and that I feel like I’m too much for everyone that I might have talked to if I could have found someone.

Are you in any pain?

Well, if this pressure on my chest, and the heavy thing that’s sitting on my head counts, then yes, I guess I’m in pain. But not a sharp stabbing pain, more like a dull repetitive one.

Are you on any medications?

No, and I don’t really want to be, and that’s why I’m even afraid to tell anyone how I really feel in case they suggest drugs might be the answer. I guess there’s the ‘Maccaroot’ supplements I’m taking… to balance and energize me… but I don’t think that’s working.

So, what precisely can we do for you ma’am?

Well, I thought maybe I could just sign in and curl up in an empty bed somewhere until I feel better able to cope, find some energy again, and maybe find a friend that I could talk to. Would that be OK……?

At this point I realize that my idea is lame, and I haven’t got a chance of convincing medical staff, nurses or doctors that there’s something wrong with me any more than I did two days ago when I tried to explain myself to my husband.

So, I continue to stand by the kitchen sink until the phone rings, goes to the answering machine, and I recognize the voice as someone who might just be able to relate to part of how I’m feeling and I dry my hands on the towel and pick up the phone.

Hi……

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

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

Provision… a poem


Song Sparrow, Winter

Song Sparrow, Winter (Photo credit: Ed Gaillard)

I joined an online group of poetic souls at dVerse. I’m just beginning to poke around and see what I can dive into over there, but for this week’s “Poetics”, we are invited to work in First Person Narrative. First person narrative is storytelling through the voice of the character, at a particular moment, and referring to themselves. We see things through the narrators point of view. This then is my offering;

Provision

Today it is enough ~
this fragrant cedar bower
this covering of down
well fluffed against the chill.
Today it is enough ~
backyard feeder brimming
millet seed and sunflower,
snow melting in the bath
a slackening of thirst.
Today it is enough ~
echo of dusk song thick
on air, wrappings of
wings tight warm,
my head upon my breast,
I keep this winter space,
this grace before flight.

Inspiration of Matthew 10:29-31  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Evidence of grace…


Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois)....

Full Moon view from earth In Belgium (Hamois). Français : Pleine Lune vue de la Terre en Belgique à Hamois. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

401. hot water enough

402. the gentle pursuit of our father God

403. that there is always evidence

404. sun warmth permeating thick clothing

405. flannel sheets

406. decking the halls with a friend

407. twinkle of Christmas lights when dark arrives early

408. internet radio on all day Christmas tunes

409. full moon sky glow

410. the miracle of man standing on moon

411. our necks tilted back looking at stars

412. communion

413. choice

414. having something to give, always

415. chewing on tasty ideas

416. good laughs and friendly competition around the pool table

417. husband, sons, daughter

418. soft good morning kiss and kind first words

419. my life

420. that I don’t miss Facebook yet

421. not always knowing

Thanks…giving…


368. his left and my right and fingers intertwined press flesh to flesh

369. sitting by my reading mother, reading

370. anticipation of Thai food and conversation with family

371. daughters pretty toenails in a new fall colour

372. daughter picking some cords on her electric guitar

373. being asked, saying yes

374. wine tour, corn maze, cidery, and the mercury holding at 18 degrees C

375. his dress shirts fresh from the wash, hung to air dry

376. enthusiasm of dogs

377. views to mountains, vineyards, orchards

378. long light pouring into the garden

379. eyes to see a photograph worth taking

380. stillness, time to listen

381. ambrosia apple with cheddar cheese

382. small talk

383. hydrangeas fading from chartreuse to sepia

384. the question of do you want to play some pool… delivered with a shy smile

385. a holiday weekend to remind us what matters… and to be thankful for what matters

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis...

The First Thanksgiving, painting by Jean Louis Gerome Ferris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s beautiful out here…


324. kisses on the eyelids, so tender

325. the little bird that finds me in a parking lot, drinks water from the lid of my water bottle when I bend down to answer his question

unless

unless (Photo credit: Dean Terry)

326. dog napping at my feet

327. the first writing morning in a long number of days

328. returning to gratitude

329. summer birthdays

330. wine and sweetheart cherries in the candle lit garden

331. friends around the table

332. teenagers sleeping in late

333. teenagers who are gainfully employed

334. husband rising for work

335. healthy bodies

336. the possible

337. “Unless” by Carol Shields

338. remembering Port Townsend tribe

339. opportunities presenting when eyes and hands are open

340. friends who are patient and kind

341. morning sounds

342. finding poems where you least expect

343. considering laundry

344. God who never grows tired, never gives up, waits while I do both

345. wrinkles that prove living

346. a face held by hands, top of head kissed and life words spoken

347. directors of my spirit, soul friends

348. anticipating solitude

349. family holiday plans

350. blueberry waffle plans for tomorrows breakfast

351. photography and captured moments

352. children who pull away, grow strong, test wings

353. young adult son full license success

354. reminders of those with less that teach me more

355. reminders that intentions are not enough

356. reminders to act, phone, speak, write, touch, walk, move…

357. harvest… always

Different kinds of cherries

Different kinds of cherries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Along the way…


Years ago I began to see. At birth, my physical eyes opened. At the age of 40, my spiritual eyelids lifted to reveal new and meaning filled sights. And, another (almost) ten years later, I recognize that the second sight that comes with the spirit focused eyes must be intentional, often requiring of me a tuning up, a dusting off, a wiping of my glasses to ensure that I am seeing as best I can. God has things to reveal to me… even when I forget (see this post) or when I’m distracted or simply focusing on myself way too much.

Ten years ago or so I often saw things as I walked my dog and talked to God along the way. I was reminded of those wonderfully intimate times this morning as I drove to meet a circle of women who are becoming very important in my life and spiritual development. I saw things along the way today… and they revealed a deeper sight that I will share with you. May it bring you peace. God often brings peace in the midst.

I saw… a soldier dressed in his fatigues walking a very happy dog with tail back and forth and tongue lolling and face turned up to his master with an obvious ‘smile’ to share (those of you with dogs know this canine ability to smile). The dog was so full of joy at the walking with the one he loved that I almost didn’t see the obvious, that this pup had three legs, not four. At some point the fourth leg was removed due to an accident or disease and the dog carried on in a way that appeared to be without any real impact on his ability to enjoy the life he’d been given.

and I saw… a man waiting at a traffic light, a man whom I’ve noticed for years now, pocket protector in his short sleeved dress shirt, comb-over hair almost all grey, dress pants, and in one hand his black briefcase… very much the ‘Death of a Salesman‘ image here. And his body, his 60-something body, had conformed to the weight of whatever was in the briefcase, turning in, shoulders dropped forward, arms almost lengthened by the pull of the case. He was heading… somewhere… no smile, no joy, yes purpose, but no outer signs of pleasure.  Compared to the dog.

And here’s what I think I’m going to take from these images that linger in my mind, I’m going to take what I saw and own the truth that speaks. How we each have a choice to carry or to leave behind that which is diseased, that which weighs us down, that which we do not have to carry. And with that another choice, to leave the burden behind and embrace the joy of the moment, the gift of what remains rather than what could have been, might have been, and maybe still is. The dog made adjustments to how it walked to enable him to bounce on three feet. The man, burdened for years, his body also made adjustments, but in a way that left an impression of sad emptiness and pursuit of something just beyond his reach. Yes, I’m reading much into this, but I believe there really is something to it… a revelation of truth in the ordinary.

Thought I’d just lay it out there for you. To do with as you wish.

Journeying and watching, sometimes spirit sight,

Lesley-Anne

Graces, gifts and gratitude


Barrack Building 225, Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, Washington

For those who have just joined me in this experience of seeing gifts in every moment, along the way, as we wait, as we struggle suddenly overcome with blind eyes, I thought it might be helpful to share what began with a single step. It was a book. Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts” that I picked up one day at Chapters, and then a confirmed thought process, a prompting, a nudging of the spirit, and then the journey beginning and spreading out before me this eucharisteo, this thankfulness for what is set before me when I have eyes to see.

So please consider how the naming of life’s gifts might be something worthy of time and space in each of our lives, and might carry within it the potential to change us from beggars into those overwhelmed by a feast of grace. Here is the blog post where it all began for me… my naming one thousand gifts. That was my start, and although I can’t always document each gift as it happens, I’ve chosen to name many of the gifts here on this blog as a reminder… mostly to me. I hope you join me… and if you do, please let me know… share your list. You are most welcome to do that.

And, if you have the opportunity to pick up and read Ann’s extraordinary book, please do it!

Journeying,

Lesley-Anne

So my list continues:

263. a long journey with a new friend

264. finding your tribe

265. expressing what is risky and beautiful

266. healing through creative expression of a thought, or two, or three

267. fog over sea, first light

268. the long call of a fog horn for safe passage

269. being on the water

270. historic buildings and used book stores

271. a phonecall home, the sound of voices you love

272. scars

273. a bench of your own in a quiet place

274. patriotism

275. listening and learning

276. new ideas

277. new people

278. the sense of place unique to every place

279 – 294. gifts captured in photographs

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