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.