Birthday Gifts


SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

What is filling my soul this morning, the anniversary of my birth, so long ago;

Well, finding this silly picture that makes me look like a birthday fairy queen, I guess…

And this…grounding me, confirming I know nothing, but…

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: 1999), 79.

And this;

  1. relationships that continue to ask of me…and give to me…and the beauty of discovery within the complexity of life with people, these gifts that I will never truly understand and yet there they are, talking, breathing, working, living alongside me and I get to be with them all…
  2. anticipating the arrival of my son, and the intersection of 5 lives over several days…oh the anticipation of all that…
  3. a unexpectedly delicious poem, written by my lover, posted to Facebook.
  4. the dog, coffee, porch, quiet, sunshine, bluebird day, time, space, lingering…
  5. messages of love on social media
  6. challenges and considerations…each day to choose what is important, what is vital, what is life giving, and what adjustments must be made to live with integrity
  7. creative energy…that vast stream of Creator God’s creative DNA that flows and overflows in me with thoughts and ideas and possibilities and just enough courage to try something new…
  8. health, dreams, desires, all those elements that make up a life and are often taken for granted and yet are foundational to living well…
  9. writing, always writing, listening to the inner voice speaking and writing, playing with writing, writing with people, reading and writing, writing, writing, writing…
  10. the audacious pink thread of The Trinity woven through the simple fabric of my life …often hidden, sometimes apparent, but there…oh yes, there!

Gift. Gift. Gift. All gift.

Undeserved. Thankful. Gifts held with the knowledge that this may be for a day, a month, a few more years. Breath held for a few seconds, then breathing, breathing, wondering…what happens next?

Lesley-Anne Evans, July 29, 1962 – ?

 

 

 

Advertisements

Welcome, love and fear


DSC_0593Every human being is motivated by either love or fear, he said, in every  action ever taken. I contemplated his statement, wondering how true it really was for me. Just as I held each statement this wise counselor spoke, and everything I said as well, weighing out my authenticity, the truth of my disclosures. Was I creating something more, or simply telling my story?

So, he asked, when is the last time you were able to say I trust you with my life, my love, my everything? I don’t know, I said. Maybe never. There is no right or wrong answer, he said, it’s just what you know is true in your life experience. How could this be, I thought, have I never fully trusted, have I never felt freedom in love? My mind jumped back 30 years, then more recently, then to last week, and the reason for seeking counsel in the first place. My lack of trust, and my longing to belong, and what did it all mean?

The conversation continued to how mistrust of others and a possible deeper underlying fear of rejection can result in missing out on the beautiful potential of enjoying the fullness of loving community. Fear of rejection leads to withdrawal and isolation, and the vicious self perpetuating circle of fear, mistrust, and withdrawal from relationships continues. Allowing myself to fully engage in loving community could break down my walls, crack open my heart, and trust and belonging would grow. But fear of rejection is undermining what I desire. I wonder, is this true of me? Really? I want to argue it. I want to ignore it. I want to call it psycho babble.

Today I experienced how my view of life impacts not only me but my family. And I felt a little sick to my stomach as I considered the truth; my fears are rippling out into their lives. So maybe identifying the core issue and making room for a new reality is the way forward? Rather than denial or avoidance, to welcome all in, in a new way, following some recent teaching at SoulStream, Living From the Heart. I have been learning a posture of opening to the difficult and painful things in me that need the touch of Jesus. It is called Welcoming Prayer. I feel it may be the way…in this quiet welcoming way of the heart. And so I say…

Hello fear, welcome. Hello mistrust, welcome. Hello self protection, welcome. Hello rejection, welcome. Hello disappointment, welcome. Hello hunger for love, welcome. Hello. You are welcome here. You too are loved.

The good book tells me Jesus was despised and rejected of men. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Who better to understand what I do not yet, than the one who knows me and these newly defined feelings, from his firsthand experience. Who best to be with me as I welcome all those things that make me much afraid…

Jesus, what would you say to me in the presence of all my fears and feelings that we have welcomed here together? What would you say to my heart? I’m asking…

Come to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Come, my beloved. Bring your love and your fear to me. All is welcome here. Come and rest in me. Just come. Let us consider these things together.

Sunday Soliloquy


Lanckorońska as a child, with her father

Image via Wikipedia

The Nature of things

Breathing isn’t something I accomplish by my own effort
No. Breathing is hard wired, natural, subliminal, subconscious, like
sneezing
or sighing,
or desiring to leave a lasting mark,
something to echo when I’m gone.

There are things that require tenacity, that fight against
what comes naturally, and that, my friend, is the
straw that’s breaking.
The ache for making a change for the better eludes and
deludes me into thinking
it’s up to me to buckle down and
try harder, to strive with more deliberate intent,
To repent.

Take for instance
forgiveness of things, like
a sideways look, or a word unspoken, or a birthday forgotten, or a violation
of my body, or a crime
like taking the life of what’s mine, or a lie
told in the form of a story or a prayer
that’s clearly crossing the line.
Contrary to what I would like to think, or what I’m being told,
I can’t make myself forgive.
I can’t close my eyes, concentrate harder and presto, forgiveness
comes like a blessed dove, and makes beauty of my broken bits.
No, the hit hurts and the blood squirts red
and I need more than a King James bandage to
fix this. ‘nuff said.

Or, while we’re talking about expectations
there’s Sacrifice and Surrender, a pair married for years, and still
making it work despite their differences.
While the world screams, ‘self-actualize’ and ‘to thine on self be true,’
these two
quietly stand, hand-in-hand,
watching, suggesting
submission brings freedom and life,
contrary to the strife of opinions on everything
every little decision that must be
made and played out, all things being equal.
No. I can’t by my own willpower choose these.

And Rest, well
that’s another idea I respect, but
for the life of me can’t get around to it, yet. So many other things to
accomplish and prove my own worth, while
my to do list is longing just to be still
and know that someone else will
pry the steering wheel from my sticky fingers,
take back the waste,
redeem the
trivial Facebook posts
twittering reality shows
and mid-winter naps.

Human nature being what it is, real life being what it is
it’s contrary. Preposterous, this
Kingdom upside down thought
that Sunday morning ideals
can root in
and stick ‘til Thursday.

And while I rant and rave
on things I don’t have the capacity to understand, nor
the power to change,
He waits for me to be still
and listen.

Lesley-Anne Evans
January 2011

The ‘discipline’ of first things first.


apron garden

Image by klynslis via Flickr

I first wrote this piece in 2006, but it came to my mind this morning as I was facing yet another kitchen full of the aftermath of getting the family up and out the door to school. There were so many things I would rather do than clean up. Yet, as I reflected on the fact that putting my house in order is my ‘job’, well, I just did it. And I stood back and admired the tidy kitchen before I sat down at my computer to work on some other needful things. Better than facing the dirty kitchen later in my morning, when feelings of resentment would probably accompany my tidying efforts.

In any case, here’s what I wrote, which still rings true in my life today.

I had to apologize to my children yesterday after school.  I have been home ‘sick’ for the past few days, and after my energy level began to pick up I found myself cleaning and tidying like I haven’t done in some time.  And the only reason I can think of for the renewed interest in cleaning, is that I’m actually AT HOME.

My life as a homemaker is usually quite busy, and I don’t enjoy all of the chores that come with my job description.  Many of my tasks are outside the home too, and most of those are more enjoyable.  So, my days usually include a variety of things, from walking my dog, to helping in the classroom, to grocery shopping, to errands, and even the occasional coffee with friends.  I have tried a number of different ways to accomplish my tasks in the home, both scheduled and non-scheduled.  The scheduled approach is best for me, so that on Monday I know it’s laundry day.  There isn’t any doubt that its laundry day, it just is.  I don’t have to justify, rationalize or wonder, It’s just laundry on Monday.

Problem is, on Mondays I’m not always home for the day.  And our laundry piles are pretty prolific.  So, making it laundry day doesn’t get it done.  Only being at home and working through it systematically gets it done.

So, this week, being at home and sick, reminded me that I haven’t been home enough.  As my husband kindly reminds me from time to time, it’s all about balance.  And when the scales are full of dirty clothes on one side and no clean ones on the other side, then that’s definitely not balance.

When I was home I saw other indications of unbalance in the form of cobwebs, burnt out light bulbs, grubby bathroom taps etc.  And I felt badly for two reasons.  One, that the job that I’ve been entrusted with isn’t being done to the best of my abilities, and two, that I’m setting a less than excellent example to my kids.  How can I, with good conscience, tell them off for not making their beds, when I haven’t made mine.

So, my apology to my kids was for both of these reasons.  I want them to know that I blow it some times, and that I’m human.  But I also want them to know that our family values include doing our best, keeping our commitments, and meeting our responsibilities, even when it’s not fun stuff.  Would I rather be out grocery shopping than scrubbing toilets – absolutely!  Does the thought of 10 loads of laundry fill me with joy?  Not really, but I do feel joy when the job is complete.  Even if the hamper stays empty for only a few hours, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment at a job well done, at having given my best to the task, and at having been true to my commitment to care for my family.

Because I love words and the impact they have on me – they stick – I thought of a little line of words that I could think about when the lure of e-mail is greater than  the messy kitchen.  It’s simply this, “The discipline of first things first”.

The word discipline might not sit well with you.  It’s received a bad rap, I think, as we immediately consider the negative connotations of disciplining our children, or the stern teacher disciplining students.  But discipline has another side to it.  It’s about choosing to do what you have already committed to.  It’s about meeting priorities, even when they are not pleasant.  It’s about choosing the important things over the needful things of the moment.  It’s about lining up my behaviour with my values.

My spiritual life requires discipline.  It’s so much easier to call up a friend for emotional support than to pray to my heavenly father.  It’s easier to keep on doing chores and running errands than stop for a quiet time of reading, meditation, and praise.  It’s so tempting to sleep in on Sunday morning rather than joining together with God’s people for worship and teaching.  You may think that choosing the latter in each case sounds like legalism, but for me anyway, the discipline combined with the desire allows me to make better choices.  Better choices for me anyway.  You will have to decide what’s ‘first’ in your own life.

Today was a good day.  I chose to read my devotional before I started my day’s work. I chose to clean the kitchen before I answered personal e-mails.  I chose to finish what I had started, before beginning a new project.  Not martyrdom, simply honouring my priorities.  Everyone’s will be different.  But everyone has them.  It’s a matter of sticking to them, and that does take discipline.

Trying to be faithful in the little things,

LA

Was that just a spasm?


“God is not looking for spasms of passion, but for hearts of endurance.” …are thirteen words that are resounding in my mind since yesterday’s service at my home church Trinity, in Kelowna, B.C. These words originated with International Justice Mission Founder Gary Haugen, pertaining to the work of the IJM organization in third world countries, where they continue to save bond and sexual slaves from lives of despair and torment. IJM delivers hope in a big way.

Yesterday at church, we celebrated the accomplishments of a small team of middle school youth who raised $151,000.00 for IJM. My 14 year old son Malcolm was one of them. And each one of those kids, led by their youth leader Simon, model hearts of endurance to all of us. They set their goals way high, they ignored the impossible nature of it (even though some of us parents thought otherwise), and they worked at one task at a time, one yard maintenance job at at time, one sacrifice at a time, until they reached their goal. And because of their endurance, 151 slaves are now free. WOW!

The question begs to be asked… what kind of heart do I have? Even after all the excuses are set aside, after the exceptions are made, the justifications considered, whatever, is my heart enduring with the love of God? Am I living a life that puts his desires first? Well, am I?

Not easy to take that kind of look at yourself.

Turns out I need to make some adjustments to how I’m currently living out my faith. Turns out I’ve been growing weary of doing good and even giving up on some things. Turns out I’ve been guilty of spasms in some areas.

Creativity and passion and big picture thinking can be a problem sometimes. My husband and I often have conversations that involve dreaming about this thing and that thing and painting wonderful word pictures around certain topics. We expouse on  possibilities a lot… that’s how God made us. We like to envision things. It gets us excited, revved up, inspired. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a problem if that’s all it is. It can be a problem if it’s all about starting things and not finishing them, or about giving up when the energy wains and the inspiration grows tired. That’s why the heart of endurance has to be there.

I believe that a heart of endurance comes from God himself. Only God can give me the sense of purpose and the deep inner conviction that allows me to continue to walk forward in the face of adversity, weariness, circumstances, lack. There’s just so much more at stake than how I feel.

So, I must take time out to look at the things I’ve been less than excited about lately. And find out why. And then, with God’s help, make the adjustments necessary to finish well what I have begun.

Still on the path,

Lesley-Anne

Baby steps, but still walking.


Sometimes I wonder if the little things are what count the most. Like the things you do along the way… you know, the journey, rather than the destination? ‘Cause I can get pretty bogged down by the thoughts of what to do, where to go, where I’m headed, and lose sight of the things that are right under my nose. Today I’m just trying to take one moment at a time and let God take care of the big picture stuff.

Last week I blogged about some big picture stuff, and I do love doing that. My heart beats faster when I envision a great big picture, and I begin to see myself stepping out into something wild and wonderful. Then, as I begin to work out some details and the reality hits me, I often find myself deflated, less than enthusiastic, even scared. And I start to wonder if it’s what God wanted me to do at all or some crazy pipe dream I came up with. Then I wonder how I can truly figure out what God wants from me?

A friend shared with me the other day about her husband’s perspective on the question of what God wants him to do. He looks at it this way, “who cares”. WOW! This man is a devoted Christ follower, gives his time and talent and money to many things, loves his God, loves his family, works hard at his career, and when he says this, it’s without any sense of disrespect or irony.

I believe what he means is this… when you are in a loving relationship with God, and are living your life (to the very best of your ability) to please God and bring glory and honour to God, (and covered with a huge umbrella of God’s grace, of course) then it doesn’t really matter what decision you make, God’s going to do the best with it, make the best of it, use it to his purposes. Bottom line is, just do SOMETHING! Stop dithering. Make a decision.

I have to say that’s a good way of looking at things. Can it be backed up biblically… I think so. Many (all?) of the fathers and mothers of the faith were messed up sinners like me, and God continued to allow his plans to go forward in spite of all the times that humanity got in the way. Things like murder, adultery, lies, disobedience, things that were contrary to how God wants things to be, happened, and still God worked with those people because he loved them and they loved him in spite of their downfalls. He did good with them and through them. Big hope for me here.

There’s another perspective on determining God’s will. It’s the one where people pray, seek God, and then wait for clear direction before moving forward. And I know many dear Christians (some of them, my friends) who live this way, and truly believe that God directs specifically, clearly, and they follow his lead. I would never ever discount their experience or their integrity. I too have experienced this uncanny providential involvement in the details of my life that cannot be written off as coincidence, or fancy. And those times are epiphanies and have proven to be life or direction changing. I believed and still do believe that God directs in this way, and the bible is full of examples of times that this happened. But this usually doesn’t happen for me on a daily basis (probably because I can be obtuse a lot of the time).

Me, well, I fall someplace in the middle of the ‘who cares’ and needing to have the writing on the wall before acting. Problem is, that often leaves me in a void of indecision, considering this way and that way and the next way, rather than just stepping out and doing SOMETHING. In my heart of hearts I’d like to pray and ask and see writing on the wall all the time, and sometimes I’m standing in the way of that happening. Being a slight control freak type ‘A’ personality means that I’m used to figuring things out, taking charge, making things happen. Only if I want God to lead that doesn’t necessarily work, does it?

So, back to today. No big picture planning today. Today I’m cleaning my house and looking forward to coffee with friends in a couple of hours. No agendas, no life altering plans. Just enjoying completing the tasks at hand and then we’ll sit and talk. Tonight I’m going to show up with my daughter and take tickets at the door of a local benefit concert for Haiti. No wondering how the money will get to Haiti, no considering how I might be able to use my writing to help with the crisis there. No, I will take tickets and smile and thank people for coming. And then I will go home. And that’s all OK. God will take care of the rest.

I’m not quite at a place where I can say, “who cares”, but maybe that’s where I should be. If I could only step aside and make room for God to show up and do what he has in mind, with whatever circumstance I’m in, whatever choice I make, wherever I may be on the path. Baby steps with God holding my hand, walking ahead of me. Like, in the words of a song by Switchfoot, “Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady.”

And like this verse,

“I being in the way, the Lord led me”. (Genesis 24:27)

On the path, blind and dumb,

Lesley-Anne