Category: Uncategorized

The (dumb) Dog Door

The (dumb) Dog Door

I like animals. Dogs are great. Cute. Loyal. Cuddly. And I love them more when they go home with their owners.

Many of you know that I have a cat. And some fish. We used to have hamsters. I’m a fan of pets in general. I just don’t want any more than I currently have.

My kids (well, mostly the youngest one) beg regularly for a dog. In fact, she’s put random reminders in my iPhone that pop up every few months that read “Get Leah a Dog.” I appreciate her resourcefulness.

But the answer is still no.

Usually, I deflect her case with the argument that our almost-15-year-old cat would hate it. He’s old. He’s grumpy. The stress would kill him. But, given that the cat is almost 15, I probably won’t be able to use that excuse for too many more years.

My second line of defense is that I simply cannot keep any more living things alive. With four kids, a husband, a cat, several fish and two houseplants, I am at capacity. The houseplants alone constitute a marital battleground, with me trying to subtly kill them (I don’t actually ever water them) and my husband continually resurrecting them (only when he notices that they are bone dry and sagging.) Houseplants are surprisingly resilient.

For the record, I’m not actively trying to kill any of the other living things, though occasionally I do forget about the fish.

My last argument is that I refuse to pick up another creature’s poo. Plain and simple.

I have already spent more than nine years of my life changing diapers, pull-ups, wiping bums and changing soggy bedsheets in the middle of the night. Between one end and the other, I’m quite done with bodily fluids thank you very much.

The occasional hairball I can handle.

So, when daughter Number Two informed me, last year, that she adopted a dog, you can imagine my great joy (Not.) But, she’s an adult. And she didn’t live at home. So, I couldn’t really say much.

Daughter #2 and the Grand-dog
Daughter #2 and the Grand-dog

The thing is this. Now, according to my daughter, I have a “grand-dog” – which I am frequently called upon to take care of. And, to add insult to injury, we are now living together. So, I have the grand-dog 24/7. And yes, I pick up poo.

Sure, the dog is a rescue. Sure, the dog is adorably cute. Yes, I’m sure there are many good reasons to love her.

But she drives me crazy.

She’s a big dog, who thinks she’s a lap dog. She’s a playful puppy, enthusiastic and rambunctious, kind of like a bull in a china shop. Oh, and she’s stupid. Or smart – as the case may be.

Imagine how inconvenient it would be, as a dog, to constantly be constrained by screen doors, blocking your access to the great outdoors. Or, alternatively, keeping you on the outside when the action is quite clearly happening INSIDE. Always needing a human to let you through, one way or the other.

Wouldn’t it just be much easier to run head-first at breakneck speed through the screen door, ripping it out of the frame, and creating an opening which provides you with easy access anytime?

Of course it would.

Did I mention that I like animals? Dogs?

Even this one…

The new addition: a dog door
The new addition: a dog door

 

Need to get out? No problem.
Need to get out? No problem.

 

What? You want in?
What? You want in?

 

No problem.
No problem.
Monday Morning Musings… Whirlwind

Monday Morning Musings… Whirlwind

Life is a whirlwind.

It starts moving—slowly in the mornings—with a groggy cup of coffee. Aging eyes that take longer to focus make the newspaper a challenge some days. A pen, my journal, an open heart, an open mind.

In the summer, an open window and the lilt of songbirds are my soundtrack.

The coffee starts to kick in and the eyes figure out what it means to be open again and then things start to pick up pace.

Gaining momentum when the kids wake up and things begin to whirl. Get dressed. Make breakfast. Make lunches. Brush your hair. Pack your bags. Remember this. Do you have that? Quick, into the car, and off we go.

And it continues, faster. There’s always something that needs to be done. Laundry to do. Tidying the house. Errands to run. Meals to plan. Groceries to shop. Appointments to keep. Kids to pick up. Dinner to make. Activities to attend. The hours in the day disappear.

And suddenly it’s finished. I get swept up in the whirl of activities and expectations of the day and when it’s all done it dumps me unceremoniously on my bed, exhausted.

And eight hours later, it begins again.

I don’t want to live in the whirlwind. I don’t like the fact that it just picks me up and tosses me around and then deposits me where it will. Like I have no control over it.

Intentional living. How many times do we hear about it?

Moving through life at a pace where we live making deliberate choices—choosing our actions and activities with intention—not just being swept up in the frenzy.
Making moments count, even if they’re small ones.

Looking for opportunities to meet God along the way. In the beauty of a flowerbed that we breeze past in our hurry. In the smile of the grocery clerk as we wait in the line.

In the interactions with our children, seeing His nature reflected in their zest for life that occasionally adds to my exhaustion. His creation.

Perhaps it’s in seeing someone who just needs the same. Can we move slowly enough through our obligations to offer them that?
A smile.
A kind word?
An encouragement?
Just breathe.

That’s my goal for today. Just breathe. Don’t forget to breathe.

I’m feeling overwhelmed with the impending whirlwind today.

At the moment, I’m reveling in the quiet time and the birds, and dreading when the gentle breeze becomes a whirling dervish.

Just home from a week away, I’m looking at a list. It’s long.

Still battling sickness in our home – though, not as severe as before, symptoms still linger. I’m feeling battle-weary.

But Scripture reminds me that His mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23) And my worries? He’ll take them. (I Peter 5:7)

I don’t need to determine what my whole day will look like right now. I just need to move my feet.

Deliberately.

Intentionally.

On solid foundation.

I just need to breathe.

when my heart is overwhelmed Psalm 61 vs 2 faint wm

Source

Monday Morning Musings… My pants don’t fit–Second instalment

Monday Morning Musings… My pants don’t fit–Second instalment

Was it just nine months ago that I lamented on this blog that my pants no longer fit after a summer of lazing and lounging by the lake?

You may recall that, at that point, I determined that in the coming months, I would move my body more—in an effort to once again squeeze myself back into my pants.

Well, I am an enthusiastic starter and let me tell you, once the kids started back at school, I started walking, and—thanks to the accountability offered by a friend—began yoga. I was optimistic and ready to change my life! Or, at least the size of my pants!

Fast forward nine months.

I had a sobering run-in with my closet this past weekend. I needed a dress to wear to a Gala, our girls’ swim club wrap-up event. You can imagine my dismay when, dress after dress, each one I pulled out and tried on was just a little bit (or, in some cases, a LOT) too snug.

Instead of LOSING pounds and inches, I’ve GAINED weight since the fall.

Just wait here and excuse me while I drown my sorrows in a piece of cheesecake. 

Ah, and therein lies the problem, doesn’t it?

In line with my “strong starter, poor finisher” tendencies it didn’t take long for my outdoor walking to cease. In Calgary, once the cold weather hits, I tend to move indoors and start bulking up for the long, frigid winter ahead. Never mind that I DO have a treadmill. That’s besides the point. Hush.

But what about the yoga? I know you’re wondering.

THAT has been a highlight of the winter, a twice-weekly date and catch up with a wonderful friend. But we both conceded that our once a week Core class (which was HARD!) and the once a week Yin class (which was positively relaxing and lovely) was not enough to combat the eating and lack of exercise that was taking place on the days in between classes.

Just as we agreed to forego the Yin for another killer class (SCULPT! – it just sounds hard, doesn’t it?) my kids got sick, and then I got sick, and then suddenly a month has passed since I’ve done any exercise at all.

And here’s the kicker…

There are some stupid things I’ve done since being diagnosed with cancer. It’s amazing what that little word can do to a perfectly rational, functional brain.

(I’ve actually got a blog post started about this topic, because it is ridiculous in so many ways, but for the purposes of this post, I’ll share this one.)

You would THINK that when one learns they have cancer, the logical thing to do is to get yourself as healthy as possible so that your body can channel its energy into fighting and healing, right?

Wrong.

What did I do? EAT!

It was almost like a pity party at first.

Dessert? Why yes, I have cancer, of course I’ll take dessert!

Life’s too short to not eat dessert, right?

Wine? Of course I’ll have wine.

Life’s too short to not enjoy wine, right?

Second helpings? Yes please!

Whatever the indulgence, I allowed it. As though, somehow, it would make me feel better about the fact that, as of that moment, I was officially dying.

Which is ridiculous, I KNOW. We’re all dying by degree, aren’t we? And I still have time. It’s not like I’m headed out the door tomorrow.

Well, and even if I was, would it matter? Is that good enough reason to over-indulge?

So, now it’s all caught up with me and it’s biting me in the pants; the very ones that don’t fit.

Those 100 per cent cotton sausage-casing shorts are still in my drawer. Even my stretchy North Face long shorts, which I’ve taken comfort in on days when I’m bloated, are bulging at the pockets on a good day.

And it’s almost June. Oh, what’s a girl to do?

Get off her butt, that’s what!

So, here we go again. My family is almost back to full health – not 100 per cent – but close enough that I sent the girls back to school on Thursday last week.

I’ll be back to yoga tomorrow and Thursday – the HARD classes (yikes!).

And for the days in between?

Moving my body and NOT over-indulging my self-pity.  And, as always, focusing on the finish, not the start. I KNOW I need to take care of myself while I’m here, so that I can continue to be here for longer.

And, if I can get my pants to fit again, my husband will be pleased that an entirely new wardrobe isn’t required.

I’m smart enough to know what I need to do. In my lament about my plight to my husband, his advice was “Moderation in all things.” But, I’m an “all or nothing” kind of gal, so moderation is actually quite difficult. I know he sees my extreme nature. Bless his heart for not trying to “fix” me – though some days I imagine he wishes he could. 

So, if you see me, feel free to ask how it’s going, because perhaps the fear of accountability will propel me farther than my own expectations of myself. (Which, admittedly, are a little lower than they should be.)

Whatever it takes.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Right now, I’m going for a walk.

I need to get something off my chest

This is such a difficult post to write. 

I’ve been thinking about it—and putting it off—for almost seven months now. It’s not one of those things that just easily rolls off the tongue and into conversation.

But it fills my head and my heart constantly.

And maybe, if I just throw it out there, we can all just deal with it, then forget about it and move on with our lives.

Do we have a deal?

Great!

I have cancer.

There. I said it. Let’s just take a moment to let the words sink in.

(Insert moment of stunned silence here…)

Those of you who already know this information, you can just be patient for a bit…

Are we good now?

Awesome!

I’m so glad we’ve had a chance to have this little talk.

So, why have I been putting that off for so long?  It wasn’t actually that bad, now was it?

But I’m sure you have questions. I had questions. So, we can talk some more if you’d like. I’m mostly ok with it. And really, I need to start getting more comfortable with talking about it.

Let’s go back to the beginning…

I have a maternal history of high blood pressure and heart issues. For my grandmother and my mother, both conditions appeared with the onset of menopause. I know this seems a bit arbitrary and perhaps farther back than we ought to be going, but really, it just takes us to this past October, 2014.

I was experiencing some issues with my heart—episodes of palpitations to be exact. And, being of the age where some women experience symptoms of menopause, I decided to be proactive and schedule a physical with my doctor. It had, after all, been more than four years since I had last checked in with her. (Long enough, in fact, that I discovered upon making the appointment that my doctor had actually retired and passed her practice onto another doctor.)

So, I paid the new gal a visit, got the whole work up, and she ordered a variety of heart tests to establish a baseline, pre-menopause. Just to make sure things were in good working order.

The palpitations weren’t worrying to me, as I’ve experienced these in episodes many times through the course of my life, starting already as a teenager. For me, the appointment was more just to do due diligence with my health. Any woman over 40 will tell you that they hear the admonitions regularly. 

So, over the course of the following weeks I completed a Holter test, an echocardiogram and an ultrasound on my heart. I had my blood pressure tested, endured a mammogram and pap, and routine blood tests. Oh the joys of middle age!

(As a side note, I am so thankful to live in a country that provides these things in a timely manner and for FREE! I try very hard not to take these things for granted.) 

My appointment for the blood tests was October 27 in the afternoon. Less than 24 hours later, at noon on October 28, I received a call from my doctor’s office, requesting that I come in TODAY to discuss some bloodwork I had done recently.

Recently? The ink on the test tube label was hardly dry.

You have to know that I knew immediately something was up. My doctor’s philosophy regarding tests is “no news is good news” – they only call if something comes back positive. (All the heart tests, by the way, came back squeaky clean!)

And so, after texting my husband and a friend to pray for me, I headed back to the doctor’s office with a sick feeling of dread.

But, can I tell you what a comfort prayer is in the midst of panic? Truly.

Heart racing. Mind racing. Knowing that I was walking into something that could potentially change my life. And I had an overwhelming, inexplicable sense of peace.

The appointment was a blur, and a little comical, when I think back. (That may be a post in itself) but the long and short of it is this. My white blood cell count is extraordinarily high. There are “smudge cells” present in my sample. B-cells. Cancer cells. Whatever you want to call them. They’re there. I have Leukaemia.

Now, it’s usually at this point when I tell people that they look at me with pitying eyes as though I will drop dead at any moment.

And maybe this is why I’m having such a hard time telling people – Because it’s all just so anti-climactic. 

The fact of the matter is this. I have CLL – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. It is slow-progressing and I have been assessed as Stage 0. (Yes, there is such a thing.) It’s early.

So, when and if you see me, you’ll notice that I actually am, by all appearances, exactly the same as I have always been. I look the same. I sound the same. I feel the same. For all intents and purposes, I am healthy.

To be honest, I actually feel like a bit of a fraud.

Daily, I come across articles and blog posts, hear stories of people whose lives have been turned upside down by cancer. Late diagnoses. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Incurable. Terminal. Families left behind. It twists me up inside. I feel sick.

And here I am. Nothing’s changed in my life, except now I KNOW I have cancer. But somehow I feel guilty that—at the moment—I’m not suffering in the slightest. As though suffering will make it legitimate?

My “treatment” is serial blood tests, every three months, to watch the progression in terms of numbers and “watchful waiting” for any one of the potential symptoms to emerge.

I’m not naïve. (Well, I’m a little bit naïve, but not about this…) I know that in the future, some form of intervention will be necessary. As the cancer cells slowly crowd out the healthy cells, the effects will take a toll on my body, my lymph nodes, my spleen, my liver. We don’t know what it will look like and we have no idea when the impact will be felt.

But, for the moment, I have been given the gift of time.

Time to let it sink in. Time to figure out what I’m going to do with it all; with the time I’ve been given.

Time to be honest.

Time to speak out.

Time to raise awareness.

Time to make a difference.

I’ve been sitting with this for almost seven months now.

I’ve shed some tears.

I’ve had some moments of panic.

I’ve had many conversations with God about my life; about what I’ve done with it to this point and about what HE wants to do with it from now on.

And—despite the diagnosis—I’m excited for the future (whatever length of time that turns out to be) and what it holds for me.

“And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding

will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

~Philippians 4:7

This I know to be true.

Stay tuned.

I’m turning into my mother…

I’m turning into my mother…

Mother_Mouth

The inevitable is happening. I’m turning into my mother.

We used to mock her. Family nights, watching TV. The sappy commercials would come on in the middle of Matlock or Carol Burnett—something as simple as a girl calling her dad long distance on his birthday—and cue the tears.

As the wistful strains of a violin or some other emotion-provoking soundtrack would play, we’d all knowingly turn our gaze to mom to see her eyes welling and tears rolling. As would our eyeballs.

Really mom? It’s a long-distance commercial. (And the mockery would continue.)

So, the other evening, as I was folding laundry in front of the TV, watching PVR’d episodes of Fixer Upper (or some other HGTV fodder, where designers change people’s lives while changing their homes) you can imagine my surprise when I felt something wet roll down my cheek.

The host threw her husband a surprise 40th party, combined with the birth of baby goats on their farm and a birthday helicopter ride and I was a puddle.

Seriously? I don’t even know who I am anymore! (Thank heavens I was alone! Can you imagine?)

Never mind the Proctor & Gamble commercials that play around the Olympics. Moms, doing the in-the-dark 5 a.m. breakfast and after-school practice and late night laundry for the Olympic dreams of their children, culminating with the proud mom in the stands watching her prodigy achieve gold. You know the ones.

You’ve cried too.

Just admit it.

TV isn’t the only perpetrator anymore either. Now it’s Facebook and Youtube! The Internet offers endless opportunities to toy with our emotions. Marriage proposals. Open letters to this, that and the other.

Heavens, I watched the Maroon 5 video of Sugar, where they were basically a bunch of wedding crashers and I was a wreck. Laughing/crying. I don’t even really like Maroon 5 (though Adam Levine isn’t terrible to look at).

What is it about aging that makes us so soft and mushy?

Why do my emotions seem so much closer to the surface than they did 20 years ago?

Is it that my skin is thinner?

Or is it that I’m a little more wizened to life now and recognize the frailty of it?

Or is it that I appreciate all the moments a little more than I did when I thought I still had forever and hadn’t lived any of them?

I have no answers. I just know to carry Kleenex.

And if you tell my mom I wrote this, I’ll deny it all.

Living legacies…

Living legacies…

I ran into a friend from my past at the grocery store recently. Our daughters went to elementary school together, but when mine switched schools in fifth grade, we lost touch.

Thirteen years later, we still live in the same community but only run into each other very occasionally. When we do meet up though, it’s always a good conversation. She’s an energetic and animated woman. I love talking with her, catching up on what the years between our meetings have brought.

There we stood, chatting in the aisle between the bakery and the produce, when she gently took my arm, leaned in, looked into my eyes and said, “I’ll never forget something you told me once. “

Thoughts began swirling. What profound thing might I have said that required her to grab my arm and change her posture? What legacy of wise counsel was I doling out all those years ago?

I couldn’t think of a thing.

And then she told me, “To this day, I remember you saying that you always clean your kitchen before you go to bed at night. It’s the last thing you do in your day.”

Well. Any delusions of grandeur I held about my legacy of wisdom quickly evaporated.

Cleaning my kitchen? Really?

And we laughed together, because, she’s right.

It’s something I still do, only because I hate coming down to the kitchen in the morning and being greeted by a sink full of dirty dishes.

But our conversation got me thinking about legacies; the impressions that we leave in our wake.

For years, I’ve perused the obituary section of our daily paper, wondering about the people who leave us. It’s not a morbid curiosity, I read with interest what they left behind. Families, friends, experiences, stories. An obituary is the culmination of the impact of a life lived.

Loving husband. Devoted mother. Friend. Confidante. Philanthropist. Faithful. Adventurous. All the adjectives tell a piece of the story.

And every now and then I wonder what my family will say about me when the time comes to pen my obituary.

What of me will remain when I’m gone? What will be my story?

My kitchen was always clean at the end of the day?

Is that it?

My eldest daughter used to call me “Dream-crusher.” (Affectionately, of course.)

Is that what will remain of me? Was I negative and critical?

And if I don’t want “Dream-crusher with the tidy kitchen” to be my defining points, what can I do now to change the trajectory of my legacy?

I think often of the woman described in Proverbs 31. She set a standard not many can attain, but I think I’d like to try.

She’s a considerate and competent wife. “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” (vs, 11-12).

She’s industrious. “She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family.” (vs. 15)

She’s good humoured and wise. “She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (vs 25-27)

She’s a loving mother. “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” (vs. 28)

Obviously, I’ve still got some work to do here. But oh, to have an obituary that reads like those verses!

Hebrews 11 is often called the Faith “Hall of Fame” as the author recounts Old Testament lineage, characterized by the legacy of faith.

Example after example of people who walked by faith, regardless of what their outward circumstances looked like; obedient to God in the face of adversity, trials, opposition and persecution.

All remembered for the faith they displayed over the course of their lives.

Will my obituary tell the story of my faith?

 

Once again, God is speaking to my heart, reminding me that I need to live my life more deliberately. To make choices that honor my core values. To use my time wisely, investing in the things that are important to me. My family. My friends. My calling.

It’s not a new theme for me. Just another divine reminder that I still have such a long way to go.

So I’d better get busy.

erma bombeck

 Source

From worthless to worthy

From worthless to worthy

It’s taking me longer to navigate my journals than I anticipated; I’m still meditating my way through the first one. I suppose I shouldn’t expect that a journey of two decades would be digested in a matter of days or weeks. I suspected that the reading would be simple, but I keep getting stuck on themes. Or, maybe, one theme characterized by many different words.

Discouraged.

Inferior.

Hopeless.

Lonely.

Desperate.

Worthless.

The theme plays itself out day after day after day. At one point, I wrote, “I don’t know how much longer I can live like this.”

Oh, let me tell you, dear, sweet, naïve 27-year-old me, you can (and will) live like this for a long time. These days that, right now, feel like weeks will extend into months and drag on for years.

But, hindsight is beautiful thing and I can also tell you that these days will get easier.

Your desperate hope for reconciliation in your relationship and healing in your marriage will give way to a desperate hope and faith in your God to meet your needs, carry you through the hard times and heal you.

And He doesn’t disappoint. Ever.

Actually, I lied. There isn’t just one recurring theme. Side-by-side with the new and seemingly daily despair I experienced is evidence of God’s constant provision.

Into what I believed was the very depth of loneliness and emptiness, God brought some amazing people into my path.

He met my need for companionship through friends – an invitation to watch Shakespeare in the Park one balmy, summer evening turned out to be a picnic feast complete with a red-checkered tablecloth, flowers and candle centerpiece, champagne flutes overflowing with bubbly (cider) and a meal fit for a queen.

He met my need for encouragement through people in my life who faithfully countered that the rejection I was experiencing on a daily basis didn’t have to define me. Cards, notes, letters, phone calls all reminded me that there is good in me and there is purpose even in this pain.

He met my need for purpose by giving me the energy to get through endless days with my kids with the help of many family members and friends. Creating a safe and loving home for them despite their father—who had moved into our basement—regularly leaving the house before they were up and returning long after they were in bed.

And it was during those years that God put a dream in my heart and proceeded to lead me along the road that would make that dream a reality.

August 22, 1995
“This evening’s conversation with xxx makes me think about how I’ve been praying for my emotional/intellectual health and needs and then He causes people to reach out and He meets those needs. Companionship. Encouragement. Done. Maybe, I need to lift up all aspects of my life? That means, that if I’m meant to go back to school, the money will be there for that to happen.”

There it is. Did you see it? (I bolded it for you, so really, that’s a rhetorical question…) The small seeds of a dream sown into an innocuous little sentence. There is a little glimmer of hope reflected in that sentence.

Those days that felt like weeks that dragged into months and then years were just the beginning of what would be an amazing time of growth for me. As hard as it is to re-visit the pain, I’m excited for what I know is still to come.

For every discouraging thought or interaction, he provided encouragement.

For every inferior feeling, he reminded me that I am his cherished child.

For every hope dashed, he redirected my hope towards Him.

He filled my loneliness with family and friends.

He took my desperation and replaced it with peace that passes all understanding.

He took my feelings of worthlessness and spoke into my heart that I am worthy.

value

Source

This was so NOT what I was expecting…

This was so NOT what I was expecting…

Those of you who read my posts with some regularity will know that I’ve recently begun plodding my way through my past.

What an exercise it’s been, reading journal entries penned almost 20 years ago.

I opened the first journal, expecting it to be hard. August 1995. Throughout its pages are tucked little snippets of paper, verses, notes from friends, notes from my husband at the time, a race bib from my first 5 km run. Reminders of the events of those days. (Who knew I was actually sentimental???)

As I re-read some of those verses and notes, memories laced with feelings (or feelings laced with memories?) came flooding back.

At one point, I held in my hand feminine, lacy stationary with scripture hand-written in penmanship I did not recognize. No return address. No signature. Verses given especially for me that spoke to the deepest part of me. It came in the mail on a day that I particularly needed a boost.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is see, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

God, through a well-meaning friend who knew the road I was travelling, spoke. “Keep your eyes on me, keep your perspective aligned with mine. Don’t look at what is happening on the surface, know that I’ve got this and there are things happening beyond what you see.”

Oh, how that note–and others like it–lifted me when, during those years, everything in me screamed “God, I don’t understand!”

After rifling through the bits of paper, I steeled myself to begin reading my own words, thinking this would be the most difficult part of the journey. And by the bottom of the third page I was overcome.

But it wasn’t what you might think.

All I could think was “What a twit this girl is.”

Really. Who is this? Is this me?

Seriously. As I read the shallow observations of the minutiae of my life, I was overcome with disgust.

I was 27 at the time. Old enough, you would think, that the revelations coming out the other side of my pen should be more than the drivel I was reading. Goodness. How disappointing. It was a step up from “Dear Diary” but still, junior high was firmly behind me.

Little did I know, at the time, that God had put me on a road that would ultimately lead me on a crash course in growing up. Obviously it was a much-needed lesson.

Don’t get me wrong. Not everything in the first journal is a complete write-off with regards to content and prose. Some of the entries are heartfelt and raw.

I had spent a week at camp as a counsellor, all the while praying for my family back home via the pages of my journal. You see, my marriage was a wreck.

Just a few weeks earlier, my husband had come home and articulated what I had known deep in my heart for a very long time.

“I don’t love you. I don’t think I ever did.” 

And my heart was broken. Even though, on some level, I knew we weren’t a good match, and even though I knew he was miserable, in my mind we had made a commitment and we had made two children, and there wasn’t any other option but to continue on.

After a week of being away and praying for what I wanted (which was a miraculous change of his heart) I came home and wrote these words:

August 12, 1995

“Reality came and hit me smack between the eyes. All my fears have been realized in one fell swoop. Fifteen minutes together and every hope I held was dashed. Everything I do, he twists my motives. Everything I say “trivializes” his feelings. I can’t win, can’t say or do anything right. Every word and action only serves to push him farther away. I feel so powerless. I am so afraid.”

The journal’s redeeming qualities are found in God’s responses to my pain. For each and every heartrending cry, there is, almost always, another entry not long after that somehow evidences God’s amazing love and care for me throughout those very difficult times. It was miraculous to me.

Shortly after this entry, I penned a quote from a book I was reading.

“Until we acknowledge painful disappointment in our circumstances and relationships (particularly the latter) we will not pursue Christ with the passion of a deep thirst…

We have no promise that He will provide us with the comforts of health, prosperity, or leisure, nor can we depend on God to make our human relationships as warmly satisfying as we wish…

Because His intention is to draw us deeply to Himself, and because we were designed to enjoy what only God can provide, we must admit deep sadness and disappointment, sometimes reaching the point of soul wrenching despair as we contemplate our human relationships.”                                                                                 ~Inside Out, by Dr. Larry Crabb.

Well, if that isn’t foreboding I don’t know what is. It was like he was speaking directly to me. I had a lot to learn about relationships.

I had a lot to learn about healthy relationships.

And my learning curve was about to become very steep.

journal0895

Digging up the past: a different perspective

Digging up the past: a different perspective

As I’m plodding my way through my old journals, this timely devotional came through my inbox. Author Christine Caine offers a different perspective on digging up the past, which I think has some merit. It certainly made me take pause and question my motives for this exercise.

I don’t think it’s ever a mistake to take a step back and see where your behaviours and actions are rooted.

So many of the things we do and say in our lives come out of a desire for justice. Or justification. A desire to be heard, or understood. To paint the whole picture when most people can only see half.

Is that what I’m doing here? Am I digging through my past for some sort of justification or redemption, now after all these years? Or has it been taking up space (literally–the blue Rubbermaid bin–and figuratively) in my life, holding me back from what I really desire in my life?

I think that I’ve done a fairly good job of putting my past to rest (though, admittedly, there are a few things that I still need to address). I certainly haven’t remained mired in rehashing and replaying every scenario. And, I firmly believe that the journey God has me on right now is all about HIM, not me, or my self-pity, or indignation, or anything else.

And so, that’s where my focus is.

I love the little reminder at the end: “Remember, so much of what we think is absolutely essential for fulfilling our destiny just isn’t that important.”

I think if we’re honest with ourselves, (or, if I’m honest with myself) we waste a lot of time and energy micromanaging things in our life that won’t have any impact in the end.

So, heeding her advice to shed some excess weight, I’m ploughing ahead, with a fresh reminder to keep my journey focused on what he’s done in my life and for me and looking forward to what he’s going to do.

“I have an obsession with purging my house, office, car and any other space of needless junk and clutter. If something has not been used recently or is simply taking up too much space, out it goes.

I admit that I may go a little overboard, but I have discovered that when it comes to moving into our future, we have to get good at purging the things from our past that can limit us or hold us back.

If we spend our time rehashing and replaying every scenario from our past where someone hurt us, abused us or disappointed us, or where we failed, then we will never be able to reach forward to grasp the future God has prepared for us.

We must constantly follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit to simplify and eradicate the excess weight, those ways of thinking or patterns of behavior that burden us.

Remember, so much of what we think is absolutely essential for fulfilling our destiny just isn’t that important!”

(Christine Caine ) 

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)

making space

Source

Digging up the past

Digging up the past

I’ve been doing a bit of digging these days. No, not dirt. Not even snow (though shovelling and digging are admittedly similar.) Digging into my past.

I’ve got a big, blue Rubbermaid bin in my office. It’s been sitting there in full view for about four years, possibly more. Honestly, I’ve lost count.

So, basically, I’ve been ignoring it for that long.

Actually, I’ve cracked the lid once or twice, brought out some of the contents, only to gently place the item back into the bin again and shut the lid tightly. Another time.

You see, it’s full of journals.

Physical documentation of my past. Or, at least, my past dating back to 1995, when I began journalling in earnest.

I didn’t know, when I began, what my journalling would become to me. Didn’t know that my initial random thoughts and musings would eventually become a written offering of my deepest, heartfelt prayers.

I didn’t know what God would reveal to me through the process of putting my prayers to paper. But, over the past 19 years, journalling has become my sanctuary. It is the first half hour (sometimes more, sometimes less) of my day, where the contents of my heart flows out onto the page. It’s where I meet God every day.

Somedays my pages overflow with gratitude. With praise. With awe and wonder. It’s easy to revel in the beauty of our world. My easy first-world life. Giving thanks for the undeserved blessing of being born in this country, at this time.

Somedays it’s functional. I get drawn into “lists.” And because God knows I LOVE a good list, he bears with me. Doesn’t judge. I imagine that perhaps occasionally he rolls his eyeballs a bit, but he’s indulgent.

It’s not always poetic and beautiful. Not always marked by grace and gratitude. Somedays it’s downright gritty and honest; like the times when I tell God what I really think of His plan for my life (at least, how I feel about it at that moment).

And somedays it’s raw. It holds the cries of anguish for a hurting friend, the pleas for comfort for the brokenhearted, the cares and anxieties of my life, handed over to a loving father who promises to shoulder my burdens.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you;  he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  ~Psalm 55:22

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” ~1 Peter 5:7

Who promises to intercede.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”~Romans 8:26

Who promises that, despite all appearances to the contrary, he truly has my best interests at heart.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” ~Romans 8:28 

 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

Those pages hold my story.

It’s a story I think I’m finally ready to tell. It’s a story that I need to tell.

Because, I think, in order to navigate the road God has me on right now, I need to heed his advice to look back and remember the things that’s he’s done for me along my journey to this point.

Throughout the Old Testament, when the Israelites were meandering their way to the promised land, languishing 40 years in the wilderness, God was continually reminding them of his presence, his provision and his faithfulness each step of the way. Remember… Remember… Remember…

“Remember that the Lord rescued you from the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt in order to make you his very own people and his special possession, which is what you are today.” ~Deuteronomy 4:20

“But don’t be afraid of them! Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all the land of Egypt.” ~Deuteronomy 7:18

“Remember what Moses, the servant of the Lord, commanded you: ‘The Lord your God is giving you a place of rest. He has given you this land.'” ~Joshua 1:13

That’s what I feel He’s saying to me these days. Remember how I supported you. Remember how I stretched you. Remember how you grew. Remember how I provided for you. Remember who you were when you came out the other side of that experience. 

Remember that never once did I let you down. 

Is there a time in your past that you need to remember in order to walk with courage through today?

Or maybe you’re in the fire right now and need assurance that God will not let you down? He can and will use every experience for your benefit, for his glory. It’s a promise. Whether you can see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, or not.

If you’re in a place where you just need a little reminder of God’s faithfulness, drop me a line and I will put your name down in my journal and lift you up in prayer. (You’ll become part of a tangible history of God’s amazing grace.)

And, please keep me in your prayers as I face my past and attempt to bring my story to light.

shovel