10 October 2019

the value of being

I spent the last two weeks driving around the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Utah.  As much as my summer trip hiking the Appalachian Trail had me marveling at the macro-lens beauty in the flowers and fauna around me (consider the lilies), this trip had me captivated, reveling in the incredible majesty of the rugged, snow-capped mountains, treacherous rims and breaks, piercing blue skies, rolling fields as far as the eye could see, and the all-around vastness of the American west.

By time I was preparing for my flight home, I felt tears threatening.  It wasn't so much because I was sad to go home; I mean, I missed my pup dreadfully! #petmom  Rather, I felt so full of the beauty and glory, that I was overwhelmed almost to the point of shutdown.  Maybe I'm weird, I don't know, but I felt like I didn't have any more room for the feast of colour and wonder that surrounded me.  I suppose if I lived out west, I might become less affected in about a decade or so, but on this, my first trip to the region, it was all-encompassing.

Sometimes people talk about the sense of being small and insignificant when they are surrounded by the expanse of stars in an open sky or the craggy peaks lost in the clouds.  King David the poet wrote a psalm expressing this very thought, a feeling I have shared. Psalm 8:3-4 

But on this trip, I carried a constant sense of being seen and known in the midst of the grandeur.  I  could almost hear the divine whisper, "Yes I made all this loveliness, and I made all the loveliness of you, my most precious, valuable, amazing piece of art.  You are more treasured than all the stars in the sky, more significant that the highest towering peak.  I see what I've made around you, and I zoom in on your heart and soul.  As you marvel at the mountains, the angels marvel at you."

I have wrestled with the notion of my worth for most of my life.  I know many people share this struggle, and wonder, "Why am I here?  What good am I?"  On this trip, in the sweeping vistas I somehow caught a glimpse of the value of my being:  simply because I exist, I have worth.  How's that for something to wrap your brain around?  Try it... simply because YOU exist, you have worth.

Because I believe in God, I believe in more than the happenstance of the Big Bang.  The more I see of the world in both broad view and close-up, the more convinced I am that there had to have been intention behind the formation of the universe.  But my belief in God also leads me to cultivate a relationship with Jesus Christ, his son, and that's where my comfort in being known is found.  I take solace in knowing that the hand that paints the glory of a sunset, holds my own hand, and that I am loved. 

24 September 2019

consider the lilies

For our 25th anniversary, my husband and I went hiking for a week in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, along the Appalachian Trail.  The hours of quiet, the breezes, scents, sounds, and views were like water to my soul.  The hard work of shouldering a 30+ pound pack on the up-and-down of a steep and rocky terrain, allowed me to enter into a kind of meditative state where physical pain simply rolled in and out of my consciousness, duly noted and fading as I walked, thought, prayed, and listened.

We saw so much beauty in the sweeping vistas and in the macro lens, but it was the macro that got me thinking one day.  I love taking pictures of flowers and mushrooms, snails and butterflies, snakes and chipmunks, all the fascinating things we see in nature.  I wanted to stop at every third step, to snap and share the beauty of creation with others.  As we walked through a narrow tunnel of tall wildflowers, I felt almost an obsession to take a picture of every one, and then I got to thinking about the flowers on the other side of the hill, where there was no trail, and I wanted to find them and take pictures of them as well, even though I knew it wasn't possible.

What struck me that day was that the beauty in this world IS.  It's just here.  Not because of us or for us.  There is a daisy in a field somewhere that I will never see, just as gorgeous as the one in front of me at this moment.  No human eye will ever see it, and yet its beauty remains.  I'm filled with awe at the reality that MOST of the beauty in this world will go unseen by the human eye.  Why is it there?  What is its purpose?

I think there is one who sees every flower, every blade of grass, every humming bee.  The Creator of the beauty, he sees all of it and loves it.  Something about this makes me...content.  Maybe it's just freeing and refreshing to remember that everything is not about me.

There is a verse in the Bible that says, "Consider how the wildflowers grow: they do not labour or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was adorned like one of these." Luke 12:27 CSB  

 I rest in the knowledge that nothing in the universe goes unnoticed.

11 September 2019

socks, texts, and other gifts

At the risk of coming off as self-absorbed, it's time to confess:  sometimes I struggle with feeling invisible.  Forgotten.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I get stuck thinking if I'm not purposeful enough in my relationships, my existence will fade.  The struggle is real; at least it is for me.  Don't misunderstand, it's not that I want to be the centre of everyone's universe, but I mean let's be real here, it's nice to know we're loved.  Right?

Most of the time, I can talk myself out of the funk that comes with believing I am unimportant to everyone, valued by no one.  I AM loved, of course.  And anyway, my value does not depend on others.  I find my worth in the eyes of my Jesus.

But here's the thing:  it helps to hear it out loud sometimes.

Awhile ago, a friend and I got together after she had come home from vacation, and she handed me a little box.  Now, I LOOOVE presents, but I was taken wasn't my birthday or Christmas, and my friend is not normally a "gifter" like me.  It was totally unexpected.  She just kind of laughed and said, "Open it!"  Inside was a pair of socks with sloths on them.  Yes, bring on the trumpets and fanfare!  What the heck for? you might ask.  Well, not only do I LOOOVE presents, I LOOOVE sloths.  I mean, the sloth is my totem animal.  But more breath-taking to me is that this friend, who is not into sloths or presents, saw this pair of socks in a gift shop and immediately thought of me.  She was away on vacation with her husband, when of course I would never expect to be on her mind.  Are you getting how valued that made me feel?

Another recent happening was that out of the blue one day, I received a text from a friend, saying she had been thinking about me and was praying for me that day.  Thinking about me?  Why?? I didn't text her.  I hadn't seen her in awhile.  I wasn't working to make sure I was on her radar.  Why on earth would I have come to her mind?  And then, not only did she think about me, she lifted me up to Jesus.  Again, I felt my value, all the way to my core.

My God never forgets me.  His eye is always on me.  This means that he is capable of bringing me to the minds of others when he knows I need "encouragement with skin on" because I'm feeling like I don't exist.

How lovely to be that gift of encouragement for my friends and loved ones.  I want to be a sweet reminder to others that they matter, that they are valued, that they are loved.

29 August 2019

getting it "right"

I worry about navigating through life the right way.  All.  The.  Time.  Am I alone here or can I get an "amen"?

- ??? -

Right according to WHO?

IS there a right or wrong way to get through one's junk?

Are you worried as often as I am about messing up?  Do you feel like you have to achieve someone else's standard in order to legitimize your own process?  Do you wonder why you feel like you have to justify - your trauma, your healing journey, your interaction with God, your moods...everything?

What if my process is unique to ME, and your process is unique to YOU, because that's how God orchestrated it?  Maybe not one other person on the planet would come to a place of healing by your road or my road.  It could be that someone else would never understand, never make an ounce of progress toward wholeness the way you or I have.  Maybe God works with another person in a way that is unique to their relationship and how he created that person.

So what if other people don't get it?  Do we really have to care if other people judge our processes as "not the right way"?  Rather, can we call it God's way for you (or me, or him, or her)?

Now look, I'm not saying this to gain license to go do whatever I want.  There is a verse in the Bible (Galatians 5:13) that speaks to self-indulgence and chasing after anything you want - that's not what this is about.

But, I'm beginning to wonder if I need stop looking around to gauge the temperature of the crowd, so to speak, and start giving Jesus a closer look.  This is what I see:  God made me.  I am a creative and an empath.  Maybe he is bringing me through this journey of life in the most effective way he can, unique to who I am, for maximum value, maximum impact.  For me.

So, who are you?  What are you like?  How did God make you?  What are your gifts and talents and characteristics and flaws and likes and dislikes.... And how is he carrying you along on your own growth journey?

Could we stop worrying about getting it right ourselves, and instead thank God that he gets it right, every time?

26 November 2018

God showing up

It's so interesting to me, how God shows up.  I'm constantly surprised (why surprised? is my faith so small?), sometimes delighted, sometimes ambivalent, but always, there is the "Ahaaaa!"

This past summer, I participated in a Bible study called Big Fresh Faith by Lisa DeVries.  For six weeks, my group studied the power and presence of God in our lives.  Driven deep for me was the certain knowledge that God desires intimacy with me, something that generated fear down to my marrow.
To order Big Fresh Faith, follow this link:
As I wrestled with the idea of allowing myself to be fully known by God, my church life group chose the book for our fall course of study:  He Calls You Beautiful by Dee Brestin.  Not surprisingly (but I was still surprised) it is all about intimate relationship with God.  For the past 7 months or so, I've been swimming, immersed, awash in, drenched by this concept.  Clearly, God wants to get a point across, and he knows that I take a long time to come to trust.

Part of my reticence toward intimacy with God is rooted in self-loathing on all levels:  physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.  I recognize the problem and I do long to come to a healthier place.  With that goal in mind, I recently started a 16-wk health and fitness program that focuses on changing perspectives of food and body.  
To order He Calls You Beautiful, follow this link:
"Coincidentally" (not), I am now preparing to begin a Bible study in January called Taste and See by Margaret Feinberg.  It's all about food in the Bible, and I can already tell it promises an overhaul of my perspective of food, eating, mealtimes, and more.  I am acutely aware of God's timing and his gentle guidance over the past half-year.  I'm eager to dive into this new study by Margaret Feinberg.  I'm certain he's leading me to healing and I'm curious to see how he will use Taste and See to accomplish his purpose.

To preorder Taste and See, follow this link:

It all comes back around to his desire for relationship with me.  He has a fascinating, unique way of leading and interacting with each of his people in order to bring us to deeper understanding and closer relationship with him.  How have you seen him guiding your path over the past 6 months??

21 August 2018

big fresh faith

I just finished this study called Big Fresh Faith by Lisa DeVries.  Let me tell you a bit about it.

The study is broken into six weeks - but let me just say, even though we kept to the six-week time frame, my group could have easily spent twelve!  Each week starts with a short video, and then proceeds with five days of diving deeper.  

And boy, will you dive!  We hashed through belief and unbelief, intimacy and reverence, mercy and atonement, abundant life, and more.  My group's meetings were filled with thoughtful questions, sharing, lots of "yeah but's" and "what about's", light bulb moments, rabbit trails, and self-evaluating.  All of us came to the end with a fresh perspective on our faith and excitement for the continuing faith journey.

Watch the trailer.  Read the reviews.  Get the book and start your own journey through it.  I believe it is well worth the investment.  Come back and comment when you're done.  I'd love to hear what you gained from it.

26 May 2018

remembering Sharon

You've filled my thoughts since I woke this morning, your name on my lips, your face in my mind's eye.  I've thought of you on this day through more than twenty passing years.  Your birthday, and this year you are memory.

It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, so Alfred Lord Tennyson supposed, and it's true.  The earth is richer for your presence; the legacy you left behind is lasting and beautiful.  I feel your absence with a keenness that surprises me; ours was a friendship that flowed and ebbed, and I didn't expect to miss you so upon your leaving.

Our first days together swung largely on the whims of others.  We were young, our children were small, our mates were alike in nature and interest, and we found ourselves together.  Kindred spirits, you and I were not...but we gained more through the crucible of years:  we became sisters.

Our last days together:  sweet gifts, all.  We spoke from the heart of love, faith, grace, forgiveness, paradise waiting.  We sang and prayed together in worship to our common Father.  These precious moments of sharing are memories dear beyond measure.

Today, a rose for your earthly resting, fond thoughts spoken together with others touched by your life, prayers of love for your family and for ourselves in the grief of missing you.  We carry on in hope; may your legacy of faith, love, and friendship be continued with us.