09 April 2024

who you were made to be

 I've been thinking about a story from the Bible about a couple of women named Mary and Martha.

Mary and Martha were sisters, friends of Jesus. In the story I'm thinking of (you can read it in Luke 10:38-42), Martha had invited Jesus and his disciples - at least 12 of them - into her home.  She probably had the gift of hospitality.  I'm betting she thrived on hosting company, preparing a nice meal, having a houseful of people, hearing happy voices filling her home.

So Jesus and his friends come in and hang out in the living room while Martha is busy in the kitchen.  Her sister Mary doesn't seem to have the same gift of hospitality that Martha does.  While Martha is working, Mary is sitting in the living room with Jesus, listening to him talk.  She's just soaking in his words, glad to have him there and to be able to spend time with him.

Martha gets peeved.  She's doing all the work, running around trying to get the meal ready and make everything perfect, while Mary is just sitting around.  Mary has missed - or ignored - all of Martha's subtle hints to come help.  Martha comes and stands in the doorway and she's like, "Hey, Jesus!  Would you please tell Mary to help me?  I'm slaving away here, and I could use her help!"

Jesus, instead of agreeing with Martha and telling Mary to get busy, seems almost to reprimand Martha.  He tells her that Mary has chosen the better thing!  I mean seriously.  If it wasn't for Martha, no one would eat, right?  Someone has to do the work, right?  How unfair!

Here's what I've been thinking.  We've all been created differently, with individual gifts and abilities.  God created Martha with her gift of hospitality, just as he created Mary with the gift of presence.  I think Jesus was saying that Martha's mistake was expecting Mary to embrace Martha's gift of hospitality instead of her own gift.  And that Martha needed to embrace her hospitality gift with her whole heart.  Mary's choice of what was better was that she fully chose her gift of presence.  Martha just needed to be herself, to be cognizant of her gift.  She could have completely enjoyed her process of getting the house and the meal readied for Jesus and his disciples - that would have been her "better" thing.

I think sometimes we live the way Martha did; at least I know I do.  I look around at others instead of focusing on being myself. I might make a subtle demand that you be like me, take on my gifts.  Maybe I wish that I was more like someone else. But I want to be fully alive to myself as God made me.  I think that's the key to contentment: wholeheartedly being who I was made to be. I want to choose the better thing. 

25 March 2024

nearing a far God

 I have the honour of calling Leslie Leyland Fields a friend and mentor, and she's just published a new book.  It's called Nearing a Far God; praying the Psalms with our whole selves.

Leslie is a memoirist who has published other notable works such as Your Story Matters, Crossing the Waters, and Surviving the Island of Grace.  In this new book, she takes her readers on a journey through the Psalms and shows us how to engage with them on an intimate level.  She gives us tools while encouraging us to literally use our whole selves - mind, body, heart, and soul - to dig in and experience each type of psalm in a new way.  Along the way, Leslie expertly weaves story into each chapter, showing the way to a deeper acquaintance with the God of the Psalms and the Bible.

14 March 2024

the little things

Recently I watched an Instagram reel by a guy who was researching near-death experiences.  He talked about people who had the chance to see an overview of their lives.  He said in those instances, they weren't shown the big moments in their lives.  Instead, they were shown all the little things they had done, and the ripple effect of those small acts of kindness.

I was talking to a friend the other day about feeling like I really don't "DO" anything good or useful in the world, how I feel like sometimes I just waste space.  She told me I don't have to do anything big, but it's just the small ways I impact people that count.

Another friend surprised me flowers and a teddy bear last week.  She said I should never minimize the positive effect I have on others.

I feel like maybe I'm being sent a message that I should pay attention to here.

I think a lot of us are looking for that big impact.  We want to KNOW without a doubt that we matter, and we think we need to aim for high value targets to make sure.  How will we really know unless it's something that makes people sit up and take notice?

I think I'm pretty average.  I have a nice singing voice, I'm functional with the guitar.  I like to play around with doodling and other art.  I enjoy cooking.  I like to be available for people when they need someone.  But I don't think I stand out at anything - I know someone better at every single thing I do.  I'm realizing that because of that, I've been devaluing myself.  I don't make the big splash, therefore I don't matter that much.  

What a sad way to live.  Our value doesn't depend on what we do or don't do.  Each of us has value because we're alive, created by God.  It's not about doing some big, noticeable thing; that doesn't make us worth more.

Remember the ripples.

04 March 2024

taste and see

 This past summer, as a result of a major depressive episode, I spent some time on a locked floor of a psychiatric hospital.  I've had these episodes before, but this one crept up on me and I suddenly found myself unable to cope with the idea of living.  Thankfully, I realized I was in an unhealthy place and was able to make the decision to be safe before I harmed myself.

In the hospital, they changed my meds and I slowly got a little better.  I spent days just laying in my bed there, emerging only for meals.  After about a week, I went home, still nervous about whether I'd be safe by myself, but unwilling to stay in a hospital that was a good distance from home and costing a chunk of money.  

It's been a long road back from that dark place - more med and dosage changes, lots of down time, an alternative treatment with a promising success rate.  I've made changes to my diet, pushed through the body pain and ennui to exercise more.  I've emptied my schedule of activities and limited my commitments.  I feel the stigma of doing less in a "do more" culture, but I have to choose my mental health over what society says.

Today I went for a walk outside - my first in awhile due to the weather.  I left my earbuds at home and entered in to this feast for my senses.

I felt the warm sun on my skin. The gentle breeze caressed my face.  

I heard the chick-a-dee-dee and other bird song (and earlier in the morning, from my deck, the call of Canada geese, coming home).

And the "Good morning!" of other walkers and runners.

And the "On your left!" of bikers passing me on the trail.

I smelled the slightly pungent scent of new growth, pushing up through the carpet of rotting leaves, and the waft of freshly laundered clothing as people passed by.

I saw kelly green growth of new moss, bushes budding, bugs sunning themselves on a concrete wall, tiny purple flowers raising their faces to the sun.  I saw a dad with two wee daughters, lovers holding hands, friends chatting, a boy on a tricycle with his mama following closely as his brother ran ahead.

I tasted the cool water from my rubber-encased, glass bottle, and the refreshing bite of an iced coffee from the cafe at the end of my walk.

There's a verse in the Bible that says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good."  In the dark place, that goodness can be hard to believe in.  I did find it.  I tasted it in the friends who checked in with me, in my husband's gentle care.  I saw it in the beauty of snow and the cozy comfort of a warm fire.  

Today, though, I feel a bit like I'm coming back to life.  Goodness, indeed.

27 June 2022

roe v wade debate

 Last week, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

My heart has been increasingly heavy as I've watched social media and the news since the decision.  The stark division in this country feels appalling and devastating to me.  Inflammatory misinformation is running rampant worldwide, and people everywhere are up in arms against each other.

I have friends and acquaintances across the globe.  Some are from the LGBTQ+ community, some are straight.  Some are pro-choice, others are pro-life. They are conservative and liberal, rich and poor, fat & thin, tall & short, male, female, and other.  Some have special needs.  Some are professionals.  Some are entrepreneurs. I've done life with single parents and people who have no children.  I know homeschoolers, private schoolers, and public schoolers.  My friends span cultures, skin tones, and belief systems.

This week, I am grieving as I watch people all around me eviscerate each other because they disagree.  How can we allow such discord?  Why are we so unable to live in harmony? Are we really so threatened by anyone who disagrees with us?  We lump anyone and everyone who holds different beliefs into this huge pot of "WRONG" and just stir it up without a second of thought.  We take up flimsy excuses for our hate and blanket our opponents and congratulate ourselves for sounding so right and righteous.

Look, I know that this decision feels crucial.  I understand that people are worried about the court overturning other laws that they cherish.  What I don't understand is why we can't be civil and respectful.  Why can't we have compassion and hold space for one another?  

Pro-choice supporter:  you've felt the elation of a ruling in your favour. 

Pro-lifer:  you know what it's like to grieve and and grapple with fear over governmental decisions.

Do to others as you would have done to you.  Walk a mile in the other person's shoes. Think of others before yourself. peace in this broken world.

11 June 2020


I've been thinking about the word "truth" lately.

Truth is a controversial word.  It seems simple:  the quality or state of being true; in accordance with fact or reality (from Oxford Languages).

The problem is, truth can be relative.  Don't get me wrong, I do believe in absolute truth. I mean, the truth is, there is no such thing as a square circle.  The truth is, if you drop something within gravity's pull, it will fall.  I also happen to believe that absolute truth exists within the spiritual realm: there is a God.  I am not him.

The way I'm thinking of relative truth is in the way of the old story of the blind men and the elephant.  Each of the ten men spoke the truth about what they saw through their fingertips.  But the absolute truth of what an elephant looks like was found in the combination of their ten relative truths.

A lot of people talk about "my truth."  People want to speak and believe their own truths about things.  I used to have a problem with that, because I didn't understand how truth could be different for different people.  But everyone has a side.  Everyone has an opinion.  Everyone has a unique experience.

I've seen relative truth divide people, and it makes me sad. I wish we could all listen to each other's truth with open ears and hands.  I wish we could validate each other.  The phrase, "I see you" is being thrown around a lot these days, but I wish it was more heartfelt, not just the latest buzz phrase.

The absolute truth is, if two or more people have a common experience, there will be two or more truths.  It's for us to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. It's for us to hear each other - for me to hear you without rising to my own defense, and you to hear me without rising to your own defense.  It's for us to realize and acknowledge that we do not have the corner on the market for truth, that our personal version of the truth is not necessarily THE truth. It's for us to be humble, conciliatory, willing to own our part in the other person's truth, willing to be kind and gentle in our presentation and in our hearing.  It's for us to present our own truth in a way that doesn't aim to maim another person. It's for us to be honest with ourselves as we tell our truth to each other, admit our desire to lash out, to make others embrace our truth, to deny the truth of others, and to resist that desire.

Maybe if we combine our relative truths to see the whole, we can tend to each others' wounds, offer each other grace, and continue in gentle relationship with one another.  Maybe we can clean up the mess of this world.

08 May 2020


Today, Ahmaud Arbery should be celebrating his 26th birthday with his family in friends.  It's not Covid-19 that is keeping them apart, but the fact that he was gunned down while out for a run on February 23rd in a Georgia neighbourhood. The perpetrators, with close ties to the law enforcement community, went free until yesterday, over two months later.

This morning, I ran. The dreary, drizzling weather seemed appropriate, nature weeping for lost souls.

I thought about this young man's family, and prayed for them in their grief.

I thought about the state of this country's justice system, that it would allow such a heinous cover-up, exposed only because of public outcry on social media.

I thought about the fact that as a woman, I often run, not necessarily afraid, but nervous.

I thought about God, the Creator of Ahmaud Arbery, nature, and us all.

Genesis 1:26a Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness." 27 God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  28a God blessed them.

Here are some things God didn't mention when he created us:
~ race
~ religion
~ gender identity
~ superiority

We are ALL image bearers, all of us together! We can't be image bearers alone, without every nation, every tribe, every language, every colour.  When God created, there was no such thing as religion, race, gender identity, or any of the other things that separate us.  There was only God, man, woman, LOVE.

Be love, friends.
Be image bearers.
Be love.