2

React or Respond

 

When you can’t put your prayer into words, God hears your heart.

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On Wednesday of this week, I got an email from Eddie Bauer, informing that they were giving me a gift card for $30 since it’s been a while since I’ve bought from them. They claim to miss me! I haven’t bought any clothes in over a year, I like clothes, but I always buy way more books and food than I do clothes. For Christmas, my Mom gave me a $40 gift card for a local and very popular second-hand store, St. Vincent du Paul. Most people would probably agree with me when I say their selection and prices are better than Value Village. I am at the point where I really don’t like the clothes I wear. Maybe, I should go to the trouble of printing off this coupon at the library because I don’t have a printer or a mobile phone.

I haven’t found a perfect way to express what may burst into my life, but I’m realizing this is somehow linked to who I am. I am taking off the layers that cover the core of who I am.

Learning who I am

Just when it seems that I am doing pretty good, Lent and spring allergies pop up, like I haven’t experienced in years.

I want to be who I am all the time, but by not eating refined sugar it’s brought up anger that I didn’t think were still there and a situation I tried to push away. Even though I know that life isn’t perfect, I think I expected it to be, and I feel as I am waiting for it to happen. My invisible feathers get all huffed up when someone isn’t as kind or respectful as I would like, but who I am to determine whether I get kindness or respect. Instead, I am being nudged to be the one to show kindness and smiling when I am all out of playing nice with other people.

All of my struggles all of a sudden are magnified a hundred times. This isn’t what living an authentic life is supposed to be. – right?

The Real Deal

I want the real, unrefined, not going to slip through my fingers kind of life. I don’t want a processed life, so instead of a cheap version, it will be filled with the wholeness of who I am. I have this image of me running in an open field but I don’t know my destination. Becoming who I was created to be will not happen overnight. I grew up believing that I would know everything when I was in my twenties, but I don’t know where that belief came from. Becoming an adult hasn’t given me all of the freedom I sought as a little girl. Instead, I think I am realizing that it’s possible, but it may take some time, probably my entire life! But if I can get glimpses of what it looks like, I can keep going back to the map that’s imprinted on my heart.

 

 

 

 

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5

Joy of the Journey

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A friend asked me what I was doing for Advent, and the short answer is nothing. Some people are really organized in a way that reminds them to choose some kind of area that they want to work on during Advent. I know this doesn’t mean I’m a bad person for not choosing an area I want to work on,

Lately, or rather the last few years I have stop actively planning, and it’s starting to show because normally I am on top of my family’s birthdays. My Dad’s birthday is in November and my sisters is in December, and for both of them it was a struggle to get their cards out on time. I could blame it on the fact that I had no money to go the Dollarama store and buy them that special $1 card plus the applicable taxes. I have tons of blank cards so I thought this was the perfect time to use them, and to be able to put a more personal touch. I don’t know if the cards were more personal, or it just showed my lack of – yep, you guessed it – Planning!

There’s a bit of perfectionism lurking in me, and shove in some depression, loose obsessive thoughts, and that’s enough for me to stop all together. I love sending out cards, but in the last few years, I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but store-bought cards are NOT cheap. I could save the ten dollars that I am saving for one card and spend it on a bag of produce from the local food co-op.

Before you start protesting that planning can be good thing, I’m going say right here that I am all for planning. In fact, I start my Christmas shopping around the end of March, the beginning of April. It’s for many reasons but one of the reasons is because I don’t want to be in rush, I want to think beforehand and get gifts that show that I love them, which is why I sent my sister and her boyfriend a VISA prepaid card, but to my defense I did think about it. I planned on saving on mailing costs because they live in the Maritimes.

Often my complaint is I can’t see the wonder and awe of this special time, and that could be blamed on my past experiences, the current culture over exposure of what Christmas is not. We are all on a journey with little stops here and there, looking for hope, encouragement in a month filled with dark nights and lack of sunlight’s warmth. I am in the process of having new experiences to replace the old, broken, dusty memories that harm more than anything.

I’m all for getting to the destination, but sometimes it can be a letdown. Sometimes I think back and yearn for the journey because it meant more than the final stop. All I can hope for in this journey of mishaps, misunderstanding and all the rest that I will see, is a sense of wonder in the unexpected moments during this special season.

 

 

0

Abundance

 

Ask for what you want and you’ll receive it. Yep. It’s that easy, right?

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But what if you have issues with asking because you don’t know if you deserve it, or even if you not sure it’s what He wants for you. This is me in colour. I’ve been thinking about the scripture verse, Matthew 7:7. Ask and you will receive. I struggle with asking – heck! I struggle with knowing what I want sometimes. I don’t want to do the grunt work, the perseverance despite the lack of seeing that yes, I am being heard.

Fear has masterminded most of my struggle with asking. It will be either yes or no, but the little girl in me kept stuffing and stuffing her emotions down, and didn’t know how her requests would be taken. From my past experiences, it was how I was basing my proposed questions. Not hearing what I what I wanted to hear is what scares me. What if it’s all a sham?  I am afraid of that no that is bound to come up time and again. But the fear started showing me situations that I didn’t think I could handle, or at least, the fear was leading me to believe.

Through the years the Lord has taught me to sit through the fear, and in the beginning, it was hard and painful, but I soon learned what it was, that the fear was talking to me, and to my great surprise, they were all lies that I was believing. They had been deeply ingrained in me. It’s part of a relationship to ask questions, to clarify what exactly that means, and to be able to trust and have faith in the particular person. It’s the same way with God, and I would only think back on all the times he has come through for me, I wouldn’t have to look any further.

Receive

How can I truly receive when I wary of the Giver who does so when it pleases him? I know that this is an opportunity to trust in him, but first I must realize this and try to practise the wisdom of surrendering all of my doubts of him. Receive the blessings though they may be invisible to me, they are visible through the graces of faith.

Ask

The winds of change can come in at will, and twirl you around until you are exactly where He wants you. By asking you are giving yourself  the freedom to seek, to see, if this is that you want, and begin to know His heart for you.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. Matthew ~7:7

 

2

Beggars of His Heart

 

There was this guy named Peter in High School, who would consistently end the majority of his conversations with, “You know … beggars can’t be choosers.” Somehow, he would or could always link it with what was said and it was annoying. I didn’t want to be or think of myself as a beggar. In reality, it would put me alongside the homeless who beg for money on the street. At that point, I firmly believed that there was no way that I could stand beside the homeless who beg, and have anything in common with them.

We are dust, and without a Creator, we are nothing. (Genesis 2:7 – paraphrased)photo-1414637104192-f9ab9a0ee249

Somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten our roots, our very foundation. We have become a society of puppets believing we are entitled. We will lie, cheat, brag, be prideful just to garner what we believe is rightfully ours, but most of  us don’t remember that Adam and Eve had everything they needed, but it took a snake – a talking snake – to convince them to take a bite of the apple.

Poverty is a gift that most shun because it seen as degrading. The one with the most money always wins. What if I told you that God sees the beauty in poverty – not in the materialistic sense – but a poverty that begins and ends  with him. The person lives with knowledge of providence, and because of that he/she lives simply. They are not possessed by their things, and they would willingly give everything away if it meant they could be closer to their Lord. They long to be who they are in Him. Beauty isn’t the diamond ring on a finger, though, yes it is beautiful, or the house where those who you love most reside. It’s something profound inside of you that He has personally placed in these individuals. They delight in their Lord and the life that He represents to them. A reality of a personal relationship with the Lord God of the Universe is so palatable and their enthusiasm for life and God is contagious.

Most of us think poverty is something that we can get rid of, but the poor, as Jesus reminds us, will always be with us. Trying to eliminate the materially poor population is like trying to get rid of mildew. Jesus lived in poverty while on earth. In simple obscurity in Nazareth, He learned the trade of carpentry from his foster father Joseph. For 30 years, we don’t have any records of what exactly Jesus was doing in that period, but we can be certain he was learning what it meant to live and be in poverty. His heart was and still [is] poor, but he was, and is open and full of the Spirits leading. Our attachments to the stuff in our life hold us back to receive. The more we let Him in, the more we can and will experience to live in His poverty, which is all of His magnificence.

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Let’s Begin!

It’s official!

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I have started my journey, well it began when I was born, but the no longer knowing which way to go was initiated quietly. This month I have griped, complained, screamed and given up altogether. When I saw the quote below something seem to nod inside of me. Maybe I am beginning to retain that I am not the one in charge of my big adventure: The universe is bigger than I thought and no I am not descended from the stars.

When we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
Wendell Berry

The air I breathe is hot and dry. The thoughts running around in my mind blame me for not being more disciplined, kind, thoughtful and strong. It’s as simple as needing a word of affirmation from my supervisor, who in a straightforward manner has never told me that I am a good worker. Each day, I set out to do my best, and every day the Lord challenges me to go one step further to give His best to the clients, to give my all to him.

“Christ with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me,

A few weeks ago, the words of Isaiah 30:15-18 wandered into my heart, reminding me that I am to be quiet and trust in Him because that is where my strength comes from. Don’t be the wild horses that Isaiah warns the Israelites about because His graciousness won’t come near, and or allow the graces to trickle down on them. Instead they will rage, which leads them around in circles in an aim to find something that will calm the fire that is burning in their souls.

Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,

Maybe it’s just the January blah. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend time in a place that was near to the warm sun, blue skies and clear blue waters. I’ll have a drink of Pina Coloda with one those little pink plastic umbrella’s floating around in sweet frothiness.

No, I don’t think that will solve my problems except prevent the inevitable, which is something I am learning about in trying to discipline myself through doing the things I don’t want to do. Fours years ago, it wasn’t like this, but truthfully, I don’t remember how it was or if it really was a concern for me.

Prayer is normally what upheld me, but it didn’t in the beginning, and as time continued, it kept falling and falling until it was broken. My  prayers, which I claimed was how I ‘breathed’ disappeared into some kind of far away land that sucked it out of me. I can’t ever go there. I didn’t even know if I believed that God answered prayers.

Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,

The almost physical sense of God passed into oblivion, and a silent, invisible guidance has replaced its place inside of me. Even that definition doesn’t do it justice. His being resides inside of my soul, and he doesn’t demand control over me. Stay where you are because he will come for you. He will not forget his promise, unlike us who promise but seldom deliver. Comfort is easing itself back into my life, but there is still much work to be done.

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Rule of Life

St. Benedict is known for many things, but it’s his Rule of Life that he wrote for his religious community that is most familiar to me. My Spiritual Director suggested that I construct my own Rule of Life. Something that will and can lead to my heighten awareness of Him in my everyday life.

Christ in every eye that see me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”

– St. Patrick

2

After a Star

The time in between Christmas and New Years Day seem to last forever. You can’t remember which day it is because every day feels like a Saturday, or you can’t remember how you function when you were working. I like order and structure, which is why I like working(for the most part) five days a week. Yes, disarray is good, but permanent chaos not so good.

In the past, Christmas wasn’t a happy period of time for me. Normally, I felt sad leading up to Christmas and especially on Christmas Day. It was like coming down from a drugged induced high. I just wanted to be alone, instead of trying to be happy when I didn’t want to be. After the presents were opened, and all that was left was wrapping paper to stuff in the garbage bags. I would think; is that all there is to this? I wanted more. However, I have always loved Christmas Eve, there’s an innocence and mystery that without fail I would always sense.  On this day, my sister and I were allowed to open one small gift, provided our parents agreed with out choice. One year in particular, our parents introduced us to a small calico kitten (Cricket) that had been living with our Bubi[for a few weeks] who lived next door to us. Her two front paws were white, which made it look like she had mittens on, and in her case they really did look like mittens because on both paws she possessed an extra claw. She was a gift that kept on giving the entire time we had her.

Once Christmas Eve had passed, I hoped each year that somehow I would feel different about Christmas Day, but truth be known, I had no idea why we celebrated the day. I didn’t know it was about the Christ child being born in the hearts of men. I didn’t know that it wasn’t about the amount of gifts you received, in fact, I have found the less the gifts I am given, the better it is for me. Just three items, it was all Jesus received.

It wasn’t until after my conversion that my experience of Christmas began transform into something that resembled what I think my heart is designed for. We three Kings is my favourite Christmas song that normally isn’t played until after the New Year. I like the significance of the gifts that the Wise Men bestow upon the Christ Child. They weren’t last-minute ideas, much thought was obviously given because what do you bring when all you have to go on is a star in the dark sky to guide you? Yes there was prophecy, but still the magi were prepared.

                                                                     We three kings of Orient are
camel-procession-silhouettebearing gifts we traverse afar.
               Field and fountain, moor and mountain, 

Following yonder star.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

The innocence and mystery that Christmas Eve brings for me, is brought back with the Magi’s journey. This star they follow is mysterious to them, yet they(the magi’s’) and  I continue to stumble after it, determined to find out where it’s headed.

In his quest for knowledge about this king Herod informs his visitors that he too wants to worship, and asks the Magi to come back to tell him where this king is. It appears that the Wise Men are unaware of Herod’s history for they ask him, ‘Where is he who has born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and have come worship him.’ Matthews 2:2

For a few years, I worked as an Aromatherapist, and I had the opportunity to used Myrrh and Frankincense regularly as essentials oils in blends that I used on clients. Both oils are base oils and are used mainly for conditions that are chronic in nature.

Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never
over us all reign.

O Star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Frankincense to offer have I.
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising,
Worship Him, God on nigh.

O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.

Whenever I hear this song, I am reminded that I am following a Star in the dark of night, it is shrouded in royal beauty bright. It’s the journey that He has led us on, not the destination that is the cause of our love, it is the journey of the Magi not knowing where the star was leading them, but believing leads to Him – the Christ Child in the manager.

1

Doing Some Bloomin’

Some of us are late bloomers.  DSCN2525 (2)

My junior high gym teacher told me this probably because he was trying to make me feel better. You see, I was not athletically inclined in school. As an adult, my athletic ability still hasn’t flourished, as my teacher seem to imply it would.

In general, I think I am a late bloomer. I had a plan that by this time and at this point in my life I would be married, have a few kids, and well; I would blend in really well with everyone else. Most people near my age have gotten married, maybe not and maybe have started a family. I grew up thinking I would go with plan, the flow of the crowd.

After I graduated from high school, I decided I would keep with the plan and I applied for a program at the local community college, but I was fighting for a spot with 500 other applicants for a mere 20 spots. They declined my application. That wasn’t part of the plan. I decided I would take a year off and try to find myself, and well I got lost. I don’t quite remember where I ended up.

Late bloomers tend to wilt when they see all their peers getting along with the plan. Yes, the invisible plan that we assume works on our timeline.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come, and pray to me and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. Jeremiah 29:11-14 NRSV

Almost a year ago, the Lord reminded me that he wanted me to write, it wasn’t any different from before, but this time I took it more seriously. I began this blog, and I re-discovered a tiny desire to write, a small fuse of enjoyment. I also needed to write that novel that I’ve always dreamed of writing.

It’s taken me almost year to settle on a premise. I’ve gone through three or four starts, and as I kept searching for a new idea, my resolve kept growing stronger. I needed the persistence to start, and curate the desire that He placed in my eight old heart. I needed to know the belief that God has in me to write, and it began when I started when this blog. It was awkward at first but I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Seven years ago, when I doubted the Lord had heard my prayers, he started reminding me that, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart.’ Through tough circumstances, I applied for college after being out of school for over ten years, and this time I was accepted.

I was seeking Him with all of my heart, or so I thought I was. The heart is complicated, I don’t know about yours, but mine is, and I am still learning about its contours. It’s a keeper of secrets, and its mysteries can change us forever.

When I graduated from school, I didn’t expect anything except a job in my field. he was still teaching me to seek with all of my heart because I equated with what I wanted as not necessarily a good thing. Around this time He brought Jolene into the scene.DSC00045_5564908843_l (1)

My idea of a plan was getting married and  having a family. So no man + no children = God doesn’t have a plan for Tamara. Stupid I know, but I was still getting to know He’s so much more than what most believe. I mean I knew this, but He was personally showing me, and taking me on a personal tour. At most, I am still a pup that hasn’t learnt to stop chewing things to shreds.

Advice can be a good, but when it’s unsolicited, it can cause unforeseen problems. This is why I was careful to share with whom I did. It was something the Lord had advised me to do because I had at one point shared with too many people. I was overwhelmed with too much.

Over three years ago, the Lord did something that was out of character for him, at least what I knew of him. He asked me to tell someone who I didn’t know to tell her I wanted to get married. I refused, but the woman came up to me anyways, and proceeded to tell me that I was a natural with children, and other details that would confirm that the Lord had indeed sent  her to me. She then told me that my husband was already ready, but  I wasn’t and I needed to heal from a certain relationship.

‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV

Good things are happening to me.