Saturday, December 8, 2018

Better Together

It's a big day here at (the) real joy! About a year or so ago, God planted a tiny seed of an idea in my heart. It's been germinating and sprouting and growing along with me as I discover and explore who God has made me to be and what His call is on my life. I believe that today is the day to reveal it!

As I've been traveling this path of discovery and recovery and healing and growth over the past eight years, I've had the strong impression that the fruits of it all weren't just for me, for my own benefit and joy; that they were meant to be shared and multiplied. 

And so, with much careful planning, preparation and prayer, I'm launching a new venture. It's called "The Real You", a counselling practice in which I'm offering a fresh mix of traditional psychology, life coaching and spiritual guidance. My goal is to walk with you, helping you uncover and develop your true, authentic, best self. 

What might this look like? Each journey will be as unique as the person who walks it. We might delve into your past to examine your hurts, habits and hang-ups; replace old lies with new truths; challenge unhealthy thought patterns; look at how the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual work together for overall optimal fitness; establish goals and accountability... Each journey will be tailored to meet the needs and aspirations of the individual. We might travel together for a few weeks, several months, a year or more - flexible and specific is the name of the game. 

Here's the nitty-gritty: This service will be offered online via the (free) Zoom platform, making it possible to meet with pretty much anyone from anywhere - men, women and youth. In addition to weekly hour-long sessions, I will be available through email and text for extra discussion and support. The cost of this service is fifty dollars per session, payable through e-transfer. Sessions will be offered evenings and weekends at the availability of both parties. Our first meeting will be at no cost, and will be used to determine whether what I have to offer is what you're looking for. 

And what do I have to offer, exactly? Over the years, I've taken courses in psychology, life coaching and spiritual formation and leadership and have applied these in a variety of non-professional counselling relationships. I've also been on a very intentional journey of my own - that has included professional counselling - and have experienced breakthroughs and healing in many areas, including mental health, self-image, food addiction, marital issues, abuse, fear, trust, control and more. 

I really want to do my little bit to end the stigma that surrounds mental heath and counselling - especially in Christian circles. My heart's greatest desire is to take what I've learned and lived and use it to help others achieve breakthrough and recovery - AND peace and hope and joy and love and power and success and confidence and freedom! Who doesn't want that?! 

(If you think you or someone you love could benefit from what I'm offering, please contact me at - it could be your first step in a life-changing journey!)

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Renovations Continue (and a happy eighth birthday to the blog!)

Have you ever taken on a major renovation project? I can't say that I have, but as HGTV is the only channel I watch (well, ok - occasionally the food network, too 😊), I've observed a fair number of them. And invariably, just as things are trucking along, everything comes to a screeching halt as some unforeseen challenge arises: hidden water damage, cracked foundations, rotted floor joists... The homeowners despair as they are confronted with the bad news, and wonder why they ever took this project on in the first place. But in the end, usually after a significant investment of even more time and money, the problem is corrected and the home is more secure, efficient, durable and beautiful than ever before.

I lied when I said I'd never taken on a major renovation project... eight years ago, I began the serious and intense work of self-renovation. It started with the deeply disturbing and oddly liberating processes of self-awareness and self-revelation. I had no idea what I was getting myself into; prior to that point, I was moving right along, blissfully unaware of the mess that lay just below my cheerful, oblivious exterior. That I would unearth a severely cracked character, morbid motives, distorted childhood memories, rotten habits, carefully-concealed addictions, dysfunctional relationships and a diseased body and mind made me want to run screaming and bury my head in the sands of ignorance more than once.

Nevertheless, I persevered. Not without discouraging set-backs and looooong breaks, but the work continued. As I read back over the eight years of posts on this blog, I still recognize that lost little girl who was hopelessly addicted to food and approval, who desperately desired validation yet could see absolutely no reason to receive it. She's still there - there's a reason they call it "recovery".

But oh, the victories along the way!! And the beautiful individuals who came alongside to guide me through!! And downright miracles - so many miracles!! And more than anything, the lavish love of my Father that I was finally enabled to acknowledge and receive!! The journey has been more challenging than I could ever have imagined, but infinitely more rewarding and valuable, as well.

"Journey" is the right word, though. I used to believe that one day, I'd "arrive" - that there would be no more issues to work through, no more problems to solve, no more character flaws to tackle... and I will "arrive", but not on this side of eternity. My life has recently underscored this truth for me in some glaringly obvious ways.

Since I was healed from bipolar disorder in March of  2017 (you can read about that miracle here), my life has been vastly different and I've been able to do all sorts of things that were previously impossible for me; but that sneaking feeling that I had "arrived" began to creep in again. Thankfully (with just a wee bit of sarcasm here 😏), God has relieved me of that impression once again.

Three weeks ago, I attended my first weekly Celebrate Recovery meeting. CR is "a Christ-centered 12-step program designed to help us overcome any hurt, habit and hang-up". In those three weeks, I have again been confronted by my very worst self. It's been horrible.

On the other hand, though, it's been beautiful. A CR gathering is unlike anything I've ever experienced. Pretty much everyone there is or has been at the end of their rope; they frankly acknowledge that they are wounded and broken and are powerless to heal themselves. The worship times are raw and powerful; the teaching is authentic and practical; the small group sharing circles are heart-wrenching and real. Overwhelming? Yes, but exactly what my soul needs right now. (More about my discoveries in future posts, I'm sure.)

So... the last eight years have been... good. So thankful that "He's still workin' on me" 😊

(some hard, physical evidence of the ongoing renovations - 
indescribably grateful ❤)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Renovating Me

Last time we met here, I told you about a course I would be taking: Spiritual Formation and Leadership from Renovare (reno-VAR-ay) Institute. (By the way, Renovare simply means [in latin, I believe] renewal, or for my purposes, renovation ☺) This three year journey includes lots of reading, some writing, weekly on-line chats with my "cohort" and twice-a-year retreats in Saskatoon. 

I arrived home a couple of days ago from our first retreat, and by a series of fortunate events am enjoying a whole week off (my work family is on vacation ☺) in which to process the experience. Talk about perfect timing! 

The retreat was wonderful. We gathered at a Catholic retreat center called Queen's House, which was right on the South Saskatchewan river. Our group had met three or four times online prior to this retreat, but really didn't know each other very well at all. And such a diverse group! Three men, three women, all of different ages and backgrounds... it's amazing to me to look back on how quickly we bonded and started living into our true identity as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

I think what really brought us together was our common desire for something more. We all want to go deeper with God, whatever that might look like. That shared goal swept away any barriers that might have kept us as a distance from one another. There's something so sweet about journeying with like-minded souls towards a mutual purpose. 

The fellowship was really beautiful. And fun! Oh my goodness, so much laughter and good-natured teasing! That's one thing my spirit was hungering for - true connection with real live people. It was delightful getting to know everyone, sharing our stories and offering encouragement and a listening ear. So much wisdom around the table! 

And such a welcome change of pace from my day-to-day life! I hadn't realized to the full how much working full-time was draining me. Not so much physically anymore, but spiritually and emotionally. With only five or six waking hours at home per day now, it's been a huge challenge to fit in everything that I need to do, let alone the things I want to do.  

So it was extra-refreshing to walk (and sit) along the river for three hours one afternoon, or lay in bed and read before breakfast, or sing at the top of my lungs in an empty chapel, or pray for my new friends and be prayed for by them... even not having to cook was a blessing!

After having a bit of time to reflect on the entire experience, two significant points have emerged for me. One - it reminded me of who I am. Or more specifically, that there is more to me than my nine-to-five life might reveal. It was such a joy to be able to dust off some of my gifts that often sit on the shelf these days, like intercession, encouragement, worship leadership and (hopefully) wise counsel. That experience has led me to determine to dust them off more regularly, even in my current contexts.  

Two - and this one just hit home to me this morning as I was returning from a refreshing woodsy walk (and may be closely related to number one). Literally out of the blue, it started just pouring rain. Anyone who knows me well is well-aware of my pluviophile tendencies, and might guess that I was smiling broadly as I faced the wild wind and pounding rain. It always seems to me such a gift from my Father who knows me so well. But as I cheerfully fought my way through the elements, sopping wet, I recognized just how dry I am in my spirit. This weekend away was really just a very refreshing drop on my parched tongue. There's such a deep dryness in me; it will take some time and reflection and intention to slake it sufficiently. But I'm aware of it now, I think that's the first important step. 

I'm so, so grateful for everything God has done to move me in the direction of quenching my thirst - the thirst I didn't even know was there. Looking forward with eager anticipation to see how He wants to renovate me!