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One More Time

Forgiving other is probably one of the most important things you can do.  Jesus tells us to forgive seventy-seven times seven, so it’s big on his list.

Last week, I went to Madonna House.  For two hours, I spent some time with two of the staff members. For the last few months, I shared with the two ladies about what issues in my life that I was struggling with. I wasn’t surprised to realize that I needed to forgive my Dad again.

I wasn’t shocked that it was him that came up because my healing from the beginning has been what I have lacked from him. Granted no earthly father is perfect.

For those of you have seen the movie, The Shack you’ll know that it is about forgiveness, I won’t go into anything else if you haven’t seen it, but six days later I still felt raw(from going through from the process)  the revelation that I still needed to forgive my Dad. I know we are like layers of an onion, and it was just one more level to be peeled off, but in some ways, I felt discouraged after so many years that it was still there.

Honestly, I don’t know if forgiveness is just a way of reminding ourselves of how much we are loved, or I really just need to let go. I can’t go on judging someone or thing that I have no control over. Or maybe just another of a deeper understanding.

 

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Get Me Out of Here

When things got so overwhelming for me in junior high during the time I was being bullied, I would grab the washroom key and leave the classroom. Most of the time, I just would choose a stall and inhale the quiet, and read the messages that were scribbled on the cubicle walls. I would describe it as a time of desperation. Just being able to get out of the four walls of the classroom was freedom in a world that constantly had me on guard. I just wanted it to stop, the constant picking on, the constant ribbing, the constant negative voices that had taken residence in my head.

A few weeks ago, there was a parish mission, and the retreat speaker spoke of a quote that Henry David Thoreau so eloquently expressed during his time spent on Walden Pond:

‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation’

The retreat leader likens it to the kind of world that we live in now. There was this awareness inside of me when I heard him speak about quiet desperation. I identified with the word, desperation to describe a time of my life when it seemed out of control. It feels like you literally holding onto this rope that you are convinced is the only way to keep going. A quick sand way of living. I believed that there was nothing I could do, but as time continues to show me that I was wrong in my assessment. I did have a choice, but I wasn’t aware of my choice at the time. And the Lord has shown me that I wasn’t alone as I had initially believed.

I had never heard this quote until last week, and it was really impressed upon me of and how hidden this quiet desperation is among us because no one talks about it. No one talks about loneliness, shame, fear or anger because these are the emotions that lead us to live lives of quiet desperation.  We are desperate to get things in order in our lives. We want to be what others expect of us so there is no peace in our hearts, but instead, it is filled with deadlines from work, relationship woes and dreams put on hold.

What Can Be Done?

Yes, there are tons of quotes that encourage you to follow your dreams. Have courage, be brave and walk a path that no else has. All very noble things. But life keeps disturbing your plan. Obligations like family, work, friends, and of course procrastination. Anxiety creeps into all of these situations. I could tell you that things will get better, but desperation comes from a deep-seated fear that nothing will change. The good news is that change is always happening. Desperation largely comes from our belief systems and the world around us, which also dictates our beliefs systems.  But there are also things which we have no control over, systems which enslave people despite what they believe in, and some of these very beliefs are what causes others to rage against them.

I don’t know when I stopped living in desperation and when I stopped holding on for dear life, leaving marks on people who weren’t supposed to be my life preservers. The more I went to Jesus, the more he just came in and started putting things right. It’s a blur but a big part of it was prayer and trying to live as I desired to be in Him. I allowed for the change that I needed in order to be filled with His spirit. Our culture demands more of us every day, week, month and year. It’s exhausting and part of what kills our spirit, but the more I learned what the Lord expected of me, the more my desire became to not follow the lies of desperation.

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Don’t Ignore the Signs…

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Whole

I asked that I be made whole, and 16 years later I think I may be at that point. Don’t get me wrong, I am nowhere near perfection.

Six years ago

I had just graduated from a Professional Writing program, and I was looking for a job to cover my rent and bills so I could continue to look for a job using the skills I had gained through the program. The first job I started was at Subway.  It should’ve been a no-brainer because I had prior experience working with food. But this was the real world, and I hadn’t spent much time on it after spending a whole year off (on medical leave) from work. The world and depression don’t mix, kind of like water and oil. One always sits on the top and refuses to move. In school, it was nicely warm and way too comfortable, I didn’t have to worry about a job, and I just did assignment after assignment.

The problem wasn’t Subway per say, but the owner who watched me like a hawk, and when I am watched I always mess up. Did you know that you have to memorize each sub and what is on it? And that’s not the only thing you need to remember. I could feel my anxiety kicking in and I wanted out. I felt like I had just come out of being in the warm waters for way too long. I was cold and wrinkled.

In May 2010, I applied to an organization that provided services for and to seniors. I personally knew some of the Homemakers, so I asked one the girls if I could have the name of her manager. Honestly, I didn’t know what position I was applying for. I had this desire to work att his organization, and I had no idea why. Nothing I could put into words. I gave my resume in, only to find out that they didn’t need anyone at the moment…

Fast forward to September 2010

I was working part-time in a call centre and not liking it at all. I needed something that would pay my rent and bills, I didn’t think I was asking for too much. I didn’t want to work in retail as I looked for a writing job. Preferably, this job would be Monday to Friday with the weekends off. Then out of the blue, I got called in at the organization that I had originally applied back in the spring.

In the first couple years, I would question the Lord as each year passed, but He remained quiet, so I continue on working as a homemaker. Taking the time when I got a case of, ‘I don’t want to be here!’ I would remind myself of all that I had, and all of it was good. This job has given me much as it has pushed me to be a better person, to practise my active listening skills and so much more. However, the last couple months has brought some things into the light, and it initiated me to wonder: is the Lord asking me to leave?

Chaos Ensuing

For six years, I have worked under the same supervisor, and we worked well together. Sure, there were some things I wasn’t a fan of, but in general, things ran well. About the end of September, something happened and be honest I don’t know what it was except my safe and reliable supervisor wasn’t around when I needed the support.

About a year ago, I read about a Virtual Assistant, someone who could work anywhere in the world, and have their clients situated anywhere…Kind of like a personal assistant, but your clients are all over the world. At first, it didn’t interest me as something I could do, but the last time I spoke with my Spiritual Director she brought up my desire to work from home. At this point, I had no idea what to do from home, but I knew it was a desire. I know I could potentially do well working from home. I know that I can structure my days to work, and it’s something that interests me.

I keep reminding myself that God takes His time when it comes to answering specific prayer requests for me. They are the ones that are close to my heart, therefore even nearer to His. Under his care, every little detail will be taken into consideration. It’s custom built.

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Deep Beauty – Part 1

Ever since I was a little girl, I long to know I was beautiful. I desired to know that I was lovely. I even asked my Dad if he thought I was. I didn’t see my beauty or worth, and I ached to have someone like him to help me make sense of where I fit in. Everyone else was more important than I was, and on the road to somewhere. I wanted to jump on the fast track too; it’s just that Jesus had other plans for me. Living in poverty doesn’t just have to be material, most of us live in poverty because we haven’t experienced His love, which heals our invisible wounds.

The last two years, I have been wandering in the desert. Jesus is the driver, and I am the passenger letting the wind whip my hair all over the place. I am a passenger on this journey, longing to be a part of the beauty that exists here in austerity.

It’s the surface that many people live in, most of us are too busy with work, relationships,

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and stuff considered more important. Letting the world dictate what you should do, eventually will push the desires of your heart further away until it will not be a part of you. This desire will float around you like an oasis that you can no longer reach onto what is good.

 

I completed a Lectio Divina. I don’t remember the verse, but what stayed with me was how I would respond to what I had received. Jesus wanted to teach me how to dive into the deep with Him, to trust in him, and in the process taking my ability to love Him deeper. Taking my fragile trust, and plunging it into deep waters. I guess you could call it freestyle diving. Essentially, I felt the Lord was calling me to do the same, except He would be my oxygen.

What I wanted the most was to love Him with all my heart, mind, and soul. Still, I am out of breath and the strength to love Him as I know He desires, but I am learning where and when to rest, and listening to him when he says, ‘Let me do it’.

I know that I can trust the Lord with all my heart, but then comes ‘lean not on your own understanding.'(v.5)* Interiorly, I am learning that my physical beauty pales in comparison to the beauty that lies on the inside of me. Much like the burning that the men from Emmaus** experienced, who spoke with Jesus, and yet did not realize their hearts burned within themselves until Jesus revealed himself, only to then disappear from their sight.

 

*Proverbs 3:5

**Luke 24:31

Published previously in 2014

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I Have Nothing to Say

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All this week, I’ve been waiting, and patiently I might add for God to inspire me as to what to write. So far I’m empty handed. The last day or so the desire to just write is stirring within me. Is God asking me to just jump in with the words, and he’ll add the spice later? This kind of waiting, this dependence on His providence reminds me of Hannah, or even the widow of Zarephath who didn’t think she would have enough oil and flour to last herself and her son.

I haven’t heard from God.

His voice stays behind the grill, as I come empty-handed to prayer. I tell him the same thing and wonder if it makes any sense to keep praying the same thing. I don’t think I have anything to give, but maybe this waiting will show me that I do, in fact, have something to display. Not in the physical sense that we expect, but an offering at that. I’m waiting for faith to emerge, but the work is thankless and I want to give up.

When I get discouraged, I am trying to remember to ask him to help me to trust him. Mentally, I will go through what I do have through His blessings. Sometimes I want to go back to my old ways of doing stuff, but I’ve noticed that I can’t. That part of me can’t bend like Gumby would, instead of raging, I breathe and lean into Him. I am learning how sturdy he is.

Normally, I won’t look back, but maybe by turning around that I will see what God sees, and my vision will clear. The road will open up to greet me and invite me into mystery of this journey that I don’t understand, and struggle to make sense of. I have learnt by experience it is better to follow than to try, and find all the answers that are suspended in His silence.

 

 

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Onward Marching: The Great Wide Open, Part 2

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In order to understand what is going on when I am seeking the Lord, or at my point of view. I think my experience could best be described as stagnant in some places and a purging of toxins. In my perspective, the flowers still will flourish, there is fresh water in the streams trickling down beside the mountains. Of course there is a river from where the stream originates from. Flora and fauna of all sizes and colours in full bloom. The scent of freshly cut grass, the brilliant myriad of colourful tulips standing tall, wild daisies, it’s a quiet area with lots of life teeming from it. There’s no real official name for this location but the majority of us like to call it the Valley.

Yes, life in the valley is simple, nothing fancy or extremely hard. It’s the same thing every day without too much change, which also translates into mundane living. Since living in the valley is placed low, each day is pretty much the same with a little movement here and there. There’s a rhythm in how life operates on a daily grind. Neighbours to chat with, passersby to smile at, birds singing, jumping, and swooping to the next branch to perch with their other bird friends.

If you can’t stand being in the long haul, then you’ll have a hard time living in the valley. Even those who handle living in the valley fairly well sometimes gripe at the obvious things that normally wouldn’t bother them. Yeah, it’s okay, but there are days that the all the hard work you do each day, doesn’t seem worth all the sweat. You don’t hate what you’re doing, but there’s not lost love either. There are the days when want to make enough noise to attract the attention of the Creator because you’re getting tired of low living, substandard living – valley living.

If only if things would change:

The very fact that we long for the change we do is a sign that we are meant to have it. Our very dissatisfaction with our weakness and struggles points to the reality that continuing to live in them is not our destiny. – Stasi Eldredge, Becoming Myself

Seeking for the treasure of your heart requires persistence. Something I have fought against for years because so often things just didn’t work out the way I thought they should. As long as you don’t fight the status quo, you’ll reside in the valley of your choices. I believed that this was my due.

Learning to allowing myself to feel my pain, and see my desire a living reality all around me didn’t create the desired effect that I needed to get out of the valley. For the longest time I didn’t think I could even climb out of the valley because I didn’t know I was living in the valley. And again let me repeat, the valley is flourishing all the time, and provides the nourishment that is needed for each person. It is also the place that encourages us to want more than this village. In reality if you don’t want to move from the valley to a place that is a little higher to the purpose that the Lord has in mind for you, then don’t. He doesn’t push you out of the nest, he understands your hesitancy to move from someplace that is familiar to you. But the desire for doing something more will always remain. As time goes on, the pull won’t be as strong if you don’t exercise that ability to seek. Seeking is your greatest means of change, into the person you long to be.photo-1429979787503-f2d7d20550c8

There are all kinds of reasons for stopping and staying for longer amounts of time in the valley than first anticipated. When I was a still of an age to do lots of daydreaming without all those ‘buts’ that that would eventually raze all of my dreams, I really believed what my heart wanted. At least at a fairy tale level because it is there that hope knows no bounds.

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Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, unmovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that the work that you do for the Lord isn’t wasted. 1 Corinthians 15:58

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In Search of the Great Wide Open – Part 1

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Matthew ~7:7-8

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks find, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Matthew ~7:7-8

Based on reading Matthew 7:7, it’s just the process that I have been going through the last few months. I feel as if I haven’t prayed in this way before. Some days it’s like I am standing in front of a deep and dark forest, and I don’t know how I will make my way through. The branches are tangled and entwined with each other that I’m at a loss to how to trample through this place.

I have been studying Matthew 7:7, and I have taken some ideas of what is happening here. First, there is the foundation to all of our prayers: asking. You ask Him for something, and then you move into seeking, which in my estimation is where you get down to the nitty-gritty: prayer, a.k.a; having a personal relationship with the creator of the Universe. The last part is knocking, and right now I haven’t arrived at that point. Seeking can take a while.

One thing that is important I think is to be specific. If we know exactly what are our desires are, it’s better than having free rein at the local toy store. Besides most of what we crave can’t be bought. Be not afraid to ask for what you want because he might want to know how much you want it. This is a dicey one for me. So he provides the situation for the tickle that will encourage you to seek Him with your petition. To dig underneath this desire he has planted in you. To really want what He wants for you. To me it doesn’t make sense. It’s a desire that God has given to you, but first he wants to know just how much you really want it. In the meantime, you keep asking the same question or telling him what it is; that your heart desires. Again and again and again.

This is where being specific comes in handy.

Sometimes we bury the desires of our heart. Digging deep into our hearts can be hard. The majority of people don’t linger in the dark alleys or recesses of our memories. Going deeper isn’t clean or without pain.

Keep saying the words over and over.  He hasn’t given you a timeline, or a deadline to as when he will answer your question, so until then, keep seeking even when it makes no sense. Starting to ask is only the beginning because he wants to answer us. He wants us to know that we will receive, and He wants us to believe He hears us. Seeking always leads me to think I am searching for a treasure, and knocking can bring us into a whole new arrival in our lives. Our treasure is knowing his Heart for us, knowing it, and believing it.

Praying is trusting

A few months ago, I got praying is trusting while I was journaling. It was out of the ordinary because I would’ve never put the two together. We trust in Him when we are praying, as we speak to Him asking questions, and scavenging for treasure and knocking on doors that open us to new life. When I pray I don’t consciously think about what is changing in or around me, but I keep reading that it does exactly that – change us. The more I thought about praying is trusting, the more I realized, yeah it is. To tell someone of the desires of your heart indicates trust in this particular person. Most of us probably don’t truly understand what our hearts really craves, or if we do, we’ll deny ourselves this one thing because of the shame factor. When we tell someone, it brings our heart out of the darkness and into the light.IMG_8863

Some days, I avoid journaling, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to. There is life and spirit, and there is this constant friction in which we live in.  We live in a world of entitlement, but there’s also an undercurrent of belief of unworthiness. You can base your value on just because you are worth it, and that is what the world tells us to do. However, I’ve found it hard to do that. I don’t know about you but it’s hard to trust in myself. I have failed myself too many times to believe I alone can act to change in my life without His help.