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

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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

Tuned out or turned on?


I was reminded (again) yesterday of the need to make a choice. That the outcome of my life is overseen (yes ordained too… how’s that for a mind stretch) by a God who is crazy about me, but the daily choices are mine to make.

So, here’s some choices for you and me to consider,

1. How tuned in are you? Are you willing to unplug so you can listen? Yes, I mean unplug… remember those e-free plans where you literally unplugged the TV for, say a week, or two… could we still do that with our computers… really? I mean, how could we do business, blog, communicate… :)

2. How networked are you socially? I mean, I’m a big facebook fan, but a couple of weeks ago I chose to log off until I found a better balance. I want to honour face to face time with people more. And I think I’m beginning to see some change for the good in this area. Cause really, life in the ‘pack’ is more fun than life as a lone wolf! (note to self…)Image

3. How busy are you? Are you leaving enough white margin in your life to respond to the unforeseen?

4. How grateful are you? I’m still reading and re-reading that book I told you about… “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and it appears that gratitude is just the beginning of a mind shift toward living a life of fullness and joy. Hmmm… maybe it’s time for me (us) to start our own list of 1000…just saying…

5. How present are you? When you sit at the table with your family or your friends… are you really listening? When your child climbs into the car after school… are you willing to let them be silent and join them in that? (oh boy, this is hard for me!) When you husband/wife/room-mate arrives home from work and you re-enter family life… are you willing to let go of the pot, keyboard, text plan long enough to find out how their day really was?

6. Do you take time to say thanks to people for little things? You know, like the cashier folding your clothes rather than stuffing them in the bag at the checkout, like the guy who delivered the flyer to your door, like your husband for phoning every day from his business trip?

7. Do you tell people how you feel… in words, in deeds, in prioritizing them, in putting yourself and your needs after theirs? Time’s fleeting people… all can change in an instant and we’re left trying to figure out how to pack meaning into the time we have left.

8. Do you reach out for help when you need it… or are you too scared/proud/capable to ask?

9. Do you actually see the world around you? I just met a writer/educator who’s starting a movement… it’s called ‘Connect Kids 2 Nature’… and I’m sorry, but I think I can see why. How many kids do you know who live eyes down… eyes on the cell phone… texting… while they are walking on the side of the road, riding their bikes/long boards, walking with their friends, and all they have to do is look up and PRESTO… there’s NATURE… BEAUTY… GLORIOUS WORLD all around them. So, now they need to be taught how to see again… and I guess I do too! And you can experience the world in so many ways… read it, taste it, hear it, touch it… you can even… wait for it… ImageROLL IN IT!!! Oh yeah… her life as a dog… that’s our Emmy!

10. Are you turned on? I mean, in this busy, crazy, plugged in, uploaded and networked world, are you turned on to real life all around you? Are you passionate about… something? What gets you up in the morning? What really ticks you off? What makes you frustrated? What breaks your heart? I mean I want to live turned on! Don’t you? So, if you haven’t figured out what that means for you, take some time to work through the W5 of what that might be. Then go do THAT. It will make a difference… to you and to this world.

One of my new favourite quotes is this one… you might remember it from the movie ‘Chariots of Fire’,

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.” Eric Liddell

May you be able to say and experience that about whatever God made you to do… that kind of life is possible!

OK, well I’m off now… managed to write and post this in under 30 min. And that gives me time to get out there and take on the remains of this glorious day.

With you all the way,

Lesley-Anne

Sunday Soliloquy


Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in exhibition game at...

Image via Wikipedia

Lou Gehrig – Farewell to Baseball Address

Delivered on 4 July 1939, New York

Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?

Sure I’m lucky.

Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy?

Sure I’m lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something.

When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that’s something.

When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it’s a blessing.

When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that’s the finest I know.

So, I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.

Tending to things…


I wonder why it’s so easy to find fault with others and so hard to recognize faults in myself? I wonder why I am so endowed with a judging attitude and yet come up short in grace and mercy? Why do I do the things I don’t want to do, and not do the things I want to do? (an ancient question that hits the nail on my head today) I wonder…

I also find that having perspective for someone else is easier than for myself… I can look at the tapestry of someones life and say, “Aha, look at that, un-be-lieve-able!!!” and, “I can’t believe he said that!” and, “What was she thinking?” rather than to look at my own unattractive pattern of slipped and broken stitches, and take responsibility for being the one who made the mess, even do the hard work of beginning over to make it right.

Sometimes God has a way of jamming some perspective down my throat, and though I cough and choke and try to spit it back up, it’s the very thing I need to swallow, digest, and make a regular part of my diet. For me, perspective is always easier looking back that looking forward, but I’d like to have visionary perspective more often. A casual porch conversation with my hubby last night led him to voice an innocent enough comment, “Well, she was tending to things.” And just as I was about to launch into a commentary rant on why this particular person was tending to what was unimportant, why she should have done this or could have done that, suddenly, like a smack in the side of my conscience I thought, “Hang on a second… what am I tending to instead of ________ (whatever, you fill in the blank)?” It was like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You—follow me.”

One lusty, rugged fisherman called Peter once asked Jesus about details on another disciples life… right after Jesus had given him some very specific direction for his own life. Peter turns and looks at this other disciple and basically says, “Yeah, but, what’s going to happen to him, Jesus?” Jesus looked at Peter and says, “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You—follow me.” (John 21:22 MSG) Oh drat… again I see that I need to get introspective and personal, rather than engage in the impersonal and nasty fun pursuit of bantering about other people’s shortfalls… Jesus asks me to look inward at myself and then upward to him… stop with the comparing game, and deal with the areas of my life where I may be lacking in ______________(whatever, you fill in the blank).

I remember reading this verse once about being a follower of Jesus, and becoming ‘slaves to righteousness’ and that really bugged me at first because it sounded, well, like slaves… prisoners, tied down, out of control etc. etc. Now I see that RIGHTEOUSNESS is a good thing to seek after, to be bound to, because it can save me from so much unrighteous stuff that is bad for me, bad for my character, bad for the people I live among. In the words of Bob Dylan,

“But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed, You’re gonna have to serve somebody, Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

And I’d rather serve God and tend to his things, than tend to drugs, alcohol, materialism, jealousy, pride, self-righteousness, hate, greed, _______________ (whatever, you fill in the blank).

I get this picture in my mind of tending a vegetable garden… you know, the way one would carefully prepare the soil, till it for seeding, plant the seeds, water them, pull out the weeks, thin the seedlings, fertilize, water, watch and then, suddenly… fruit begins to appear on the plants and before long it’s harvest time. That type of tending to produces tasty results. I’d like a life like that.

So, that brings me back to the place where I’m feeling this pull to look at what I’m tending to and not tending to, and without disclosing my whole messy life, let’s just say I’m reminded that I need to keep a constant eye on what I choose to tend to… daily, almost hourly… to reel myself in, to ask God to help me to make the best use of my time here, to tend to the flesh and blood humans that he has placed me into relationship with rather than the tasks, or the time wasting activities I sometimes serve. Doing things Gods way means I need to focus on my own shortcomings, not theirs, and then, tripping and stumbling and getting back up again, to follow him.

Photo image taken from Telegraph.co.uk

Get a life!


Today being Monday and a beautiful day, I drop my little darlings off at school and head to the dog park.  It’s a great place to drop in and let the dog run… without the tugging on the leash, without the constant training commands, without the confines of the backyard. It’s good for the dog… in this case, Emmy. And, I was under the assumption that it might also be good for me. It’s my forth visit with Emmy, and I am thinking fun and freedom.

Now I’m not a dog park newbie. I used to visit the same park in the early days when I adopted Buddy too. And as I’ve begun to spend a little time there with Emmy, it’s coming back to mind why I quit going there about 4 years ago.

This morning begins as any other morning… pulling up, Emmy excited in the back of the car, Emmy leaping over the back seat to get out as quickly as possible, Emmy pulling on the leash in anticipation of the big party that awaits inside the gate, and Emmy running like the wind through the long grass.

The sight of my new dog running full out with ears flapping and tongue hanging out is one of those ‘just as it should be’ moments. Until Emmy dashes after a bird into a bush, only to reappear with said bird hanging from her mouth. My stomach lurches… not for the dead bird, nor for Emmy, but because of my immediate concern for what other dog owners will think (of me). I discreetly remove the bird from Emmy’s mouth (yank with brute force) and give her a treat as a reward, then gently (heave) the bird over a fence before anyone takes notice (I hope).

I excitedly note that Emmy is responding today to “come,” because I’ve brought MEAT this time. She likes meat.

(Did I mention that I carefully wrap up my ‘pinch collar’ when I arrive? Well, I do. Even though I’ve tried all other options, and have great success using this type of collar with Buddy, still there’s a certain self-righteous component of the dog park community that intimidate me with their differing opinions. So I hide.)

Soon the dogs were romping together, playing vocally (grabbing each other by the ears and neck while growling) and I stand back wondering when to intervene. My stomach is churning as I look into the faces of the other dog owners for a clue as to whether they think this is acceptable behaviour. Perhaps because I’m just learning about Emmy, I want to be sure that she isn’t crossing a line. So I ask, “Are you sure this is OK?” “Oh, yes, of course,” two women assure me. “They are just playing.” Emmy is being thrown to the ground at this point by a huge Malamute. OK, I think. Play is play and I’m just glad I’m not a dog. I have a flashback to Buddy and a similar feeling of unease over this type of play at the dog park. Still Emmy is only 45 pounds… at a clear disadvantage here.

An older lady… introduction initiated by the wrestle-mania involving both of our dogs, quickly tells me her dog rescue story, her opinion on collars (thank goodness mine is still hidden) and her opinion on all the local dog trainers. I find my resolve slipping as she uses descriptives like ‘cruel’, ‘mean’, ‘nasty’, with respect to the pinch collar and one particular trainer I am considering.

New dogs arrive, other dogs leave. One new arrival, a Golden Retriever (duh) leaps into me at face level and his owner says… NOTHING! I brush myself off and feel a wave of anxiety wash over me. It’s definitely time to leave now, so I call Emmy to come.

She does not!

She begins to play with the Golden… a huge male who completely overpowers her. But she appears to be having fun being chased by the big boy, and soon the two dogs are doing that wrestle-mania rompy growling thing that I’ve been assured is OK and NORMAL only a few minutes ago.

Only this time it’s not. It’s not OK with the owner of the Golden (same dog that leaped into my face) and she begins to yell, first at Emmy, and then at me! Other people are looking at me and my dog like we are suddenly the ENEMY…

And that’s when it hits me… this is not a good place for me to be. Some people here have NO perspective. People here are, for the most part, ‘doggy’ people… emphasis on doggy first, people second. Their canine companions are their ‘babies’, their ‘family’, their ‘confidantes’, and you’d better not get in the way. Doggy people have strong opinions on lots of things. Doggy people spend as much time talking about their dogs as some people spend talking about their children, or their careers, or themselves. It’s not a balanced place to be. Not for me anyway.

People first, dogs second. That’s how I live. But I’m in doggie territory at the dog park. Instead of confidence I feel… GUILTY, LESS THAN, and I don’t like that one bit.

I sheepishly (why?) walk over and Emmy now comes, sits. I put on her leash while the Golden woman glares at me. “They were just playing”, I say in a low voice. She does not respond. She continues to hurt me with her eyes as I leave the park.

We are home now, dog sleeping on the mat quietly, and me getting on with my day… laundry, dishes, gardening, cooking… and writing. All non-dog activities. All good. A healthy balance, I think.

(Except Emmy is walking with a limp, perhaps from the wrestling… I don’t know. Like I need another reason to steer clear of the dog park!)

Sit, Lesley-Anne.

Stay.

Write.

Good girl!

Tell me about hope


So I’m wondering what does hope means to you? Is it something you need, do you seek after it, how does it come to you? Are you high or low on hope right now?

Hope, to me, is closely associated with vision or perspective… like how I tend to see things. So, if I’m seeing things in a slightly distorted, pessimistic kind of way, then my hope quotient is pretty low. The reverse is also true.

I find that certain people bring me hope, or take it from me, depending on who they are and how they approach life. Again, the attitude and the application of that particular attitude to doing life either increases or decreases hope inside me. And sometimes it’s a personality bent that creates a more or less hopeful person.

Hope is also about faith. Because the things I hope for are always based upon what will be rather than what is. Even if it’s what I project further into my day… hoping for the way it might turn out. Or, it might be hope for something long term, even eternal hope. That’s the faith part.

So, at this time in my life I’m on a bit of a hope roller coaster, and I’m trying to figure out how to maintain a bit more equilibrium. To be able to approach life with enough hope to hang onto, on those days that are bleak or challenging.

Tell me your thoughts on the subject. I’m listening.

Lesley-Anne