Wednesday, January 29, 2014


My soul is feeling pretty raw these days. The effects of writing this blog, along with some other writing projects I'm currently working on, are starting to take a toll. As more people are reading these posts (which is the point, I know), my real life is colliding with my blogging life to an alarming degree. Maybe not alarming exactly, but it's beginning to sink in that people I interact with on a regular basis, and a wide variety of influential people from my past and present, know. They know how weak I am, what I struggle with, the mistakes I've made, the doubts I have - in short (smile), the real Joy...For most of this journey, I've been ok with that. It's what I was called to do, after all. All this soul-searching has had a very therapeutic effect, resulting in some learning and growth, I hope.

The past few weeks, however, have been filled with heavy things - not much more than at other times, now that I think about it, but combined with the time of year and being sick for awhile and the nature of these particular heavy things, it's become too much all of a sudden. I've sat down a dozen times to try and write something, but my soul simply refused to reveal any more. A couple of feeble attempts resulted in some fake, happy, inauthentic drivel that I couldn't be ok with publishing. The best I could come up with recently was a Facebook status that was more of a whine than anything else...

And now? I just want to hide away for awhile, to be still and listen and heal. To allow my Father to minister to my soul-sores. I'm not sure what that will mean for this blog - I might be back in a week, I might take a year off, or anything in between - it's not clear to me at this point. I want to thank every single one of you for taking the time to peruse these pages, and thank you even more for the support and encouragement and prayers that have resulted. You are a tremendous blessing to me!

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
 and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Portrait of the Artist as a Middle-Aged Woman

(Let me start by apologizing for the silly title of this post; if I were less sleep-deprived, I likely wouldn't have the courage to keep it. It's just the English major in me coming out. I get an inordinate amount of joy out of plays-on-words and the like :) There's a whole pile of stuff in that title alone that I could talk about. For example, I guess it's time to finally admit to myself that I no longer fit in the "young adult" category. And "woman"? Don't get me started! But what I want to think about today is what it means to me to be an artist.)

Up until very recently (I'm talking this week), I would never have considered applying the term "artist" to myself. Creativity was always something that other people had, not me. When I was a child, I had a very limited idea of what constituted artistry - to me it was drawing, painting, sewing, sculpting, crafting, building, creating things...none of which I was ever very good at, or had much interest in. And so very early on, I ruled out any association with what I thought to be an exclusive, particularly-talented, special group, and instead shifted my focus to what came fairly easily: academics. In my mind, it was always an either/or issue. And since I didn't consider excelling in academics to be anything particularly special, I really think this had an adverse effect on my self-image. Ironically, it's pretty clear to me now that I was very active in artistic pursuits: music, writing, and drama in particular. For some reason, I had never considered my participation in these activities to be artistic in nature. If you had asked me whether music, literature and drama were forms of art, I likely would have responded in the affirmative, but not my own feeble attempts - I would not have deemed them worthy to be included in the art category.

Fast-forward 20 years. After much frustration and searching and depression and questions and self-doubt and fear, by the grace of God I am becoming myself - the self God has made me to be. And that includes creativity! I've recently come to the (pretty obvious) realization that humans, having been made in the image of God the Creator, are inherently creative creatures, created to create!  And so, as a result, I'm giving myself permission to label my creative efforts "art".  I'm allowing myself to call one of the many hats I wear my "artist" hat.  I'm going to (try to) stop repressing that part of my personality, to stop ignoring and belittling and condemning those artistic tendencies and leanings; to try to love and nurture and encourage the timid artist within. These are significant statements for me to make; they indicate the beginnings of a major heart-shift. This very blog is responsible in part for that shift - it's been an exercise in daring to be creative and authentic and genuine, to take risks, sometimes at great emotional cost. The challenge now is to practice consistency - to employ the discipline necessary for growing creatively and producing better and better art. One more step on the path to (the) real joy!

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I turned 39 yesterday. 39! In spite of more than a few gray hairs, a few more pounds and a few more wrinkles, I can't say that I "feel" much older than 17 most of the time... While I joke about it being my "last" birthday and all, I really have no problem with the passing of another year. I have to admit that, all things considered, I'm very thankful to have celebrated another birthday at all.

I wasn't sure if/when I'd blog this particular life-story, but I think the time has come. About 8 months ago, I was suicidal. For the first time in my life. I've had many bouts with homesickness for Heaven, I guess you'd call it, but never a desire or motive or plan to actually end it all. Until this point in my life. Looking back, that 12-hour period takes on an almost dream-like quality, like it could never have really happened. It was like a trance, a delusion. After I snapped out of it (that's really what it felt like), I wrote everything down. According to that record, I had convinced myself that to end my life would be better for everyone concerned, that the benefits would outweigh any pain or sadness caused by my parting, that it actually might be God's will for me to do this. It seemed like the only way out, not just for me but for my family. I was crushed under an overwhelming heap of financial and marital and parenting issues, and couldn't fathom any possible solution - but this. I was terrified - afraid it would hurt, afraid it wouldn't work and that I'd end up an even bigger burden, afraid I wouldn't go to Heaven; but I was determined to "bless" my family in this way; giving them the opportunity to move on and make a better life for themselves. I even remember praying for courage to go through with it.

I cried out to God - nothing coherent, just a desperate heart-cry.  There was no bright light or blinding insight or overwhelming love or brilliant revelation; just one thought: that this would not bring glory to Him. So it couldn't be His will. It was that one thought that helped me navigate my way out of those dark, murky waters of depression and hopelessness. It took awhile; I was still overwhelmed and still had no idea how things would ever get better, but God had convinced me that ending my life was not the answer. I even had a little chuckle in the midst of it all - suicide would have been the easy way out, and God never lets me take the easy way :)

So that's the story of my darkest day. I don't share this for sympathy or sensation, but to offer some hope to the one reading this today who may be living a similar story. I say to you - you are not alone. If you wake up to another day, God has a purpose for you. And He is completely trustworthy and infinitely strong - He will carry you and the heavy load of burdens you're dragging along behind you. Your life has value; you are loved beyond anything you could ever imagine. Our God delights in you.

"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  (Ephesians 3:16-19)
Bless you, Friends!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Please tell me, Lord, what you want me to do
To be perfectly honest, I don't have a clue
It's so hard to sort out my will from yours
You show the way to freedom,
I sit staring at closed doors

(~ me)
Sitting staring at closed doors…that’s been me for quite some time now and I didn’t even know it! I couldn’t imagine that God would close this particular door, even though, in hindsight, it’s pretty obvious that He has :)  I’ve conditioned myself to think that I needed what was behind that door, that I couldn’t do God’s will without it…I’ve been trying and trying to pry it open, off and on, for years now! (Picture me with crowbar in hand, just reaming on the thing, trying everything I can think of to get it open, but to no avail - that's been me the past 6 months...) But now, finally, I feel that I can let go of the doorknob and walk away. And lo and behold, what do I see before me but a wide-open doorway that leads to…freedom! Freedom to let God guide me and show me His ways and lead me in the path I should go. And this door was open the  whole time, but I couldn't see it, being so focused on the door I thought I had to go through, waiting patiently (and not so patiently) for it to swing open. 

And now, standing on the threshold of freedom from this, do I really dare to run with it? Freedom, while wide-open and wonderful, can be scary, too. It's about being willing to leave behind all that's familiar and safe and comfortable and stepping out into the great Unknown, living boldly and bravely and beautifully - but somehow merging all that into the current setting of my life. I think it also entails finding ways to live within my current story with that boldness and bravery and beauty - seeking and finding the wonder and holiness in even the familiar relationships, the right-now routine, the seemingly-mundane tasks and events that make up my hours and days.
My biggest fear in this? That I'm all talk. That this is as far as I'll get, writing a blog post and saying grand things and making impressive plans and dreaming big dreams. That I'll just keep sitting here at my desk, looking out my window and imagining a great story. It's happened before; it could happen again. But oh, how I long for the other - the courage to take steps, to try and fall and fail and get back up and try some more, savouring the sweetness of a life lived

I'd love for you to share your brave story here, of something ventured, hard choices made, embracing the path less-travelled-by and really living. May we all discover the courage buried deep within us by the One who made us and Who calls us to live our lives in wonderful freedom and with real joy!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Feeelings, Nothing More than Feeelings

Emotions - what a bane and a blessing! Tricky little things, aren't they? For something so abstract, so impalpable, they certainly pull some weight! If you had asked me how my day was at 6:30 pm today, I would have responded with "great" or "excellent" or "awesome". If you had asked me around 7 pm, it would have been more like "ugh" or "don't ask" or "tomorrow's a new day". And nothing horrible or dramatic or tragic occurred in that scant half-hour, just a couple of tiny little incidents that were enough to make my heart whisper "you're not worth it" and  "don't bother trying". Feelings of inadequacy, fear and failure that threatened to completely skew my perception of myself and the day...

There are many who never seem to get past the stage where whatever they feel becomes their reality, regardless of the facts. I spent the majority of my years in that category, a slave to my feelings. The tragedy of it all was the fact that I knew Jesus, knew of His great love and grace, knew who He said I was...but since I didn't feel it, I was unable to live as if it was all true for me! For example, the Bible tells me that NOTHING can separate me from God's love - NOTHING! (Romans 8:38-39) However, in my feelings-enslaved state, it appeared to me that there were plenty of things in my past and present that were more than capable of separating me from that love. I didn't feel that I deserved such unconditional love and forgiveness. I didn't feel loved, I didn't feel forgiven, I didn't feel clean or new or free or any of that... And so for years and years, I lived a life of guilt and shame and fear and defeat and more guilt; because not only did I not feel loved and forgiven and free, I felt horribly guilty that I didn't feel loved and forgiven and free! Christians are supposed to get that, right? Why couldn't I? A very sad, empty, exhausting way to live...

I have since learned the real, honest-to-goodness truth (hear this good and loud, Friend): I do not have to let my feelings define my reality. How I feel has nothing to do with who I am, and more importantly, whose I am. Does that mean that I no longer have these emotions that tie me up in knots and shake the foundations of my world? No, they're still there - but I have a weapon now. Well, it was always there, but now I'm learning how to use it effectively. Here's the principle:" we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ". (II Corinthians 10:5b) It's an act of the will, pure and simple (ok, not so simple) - I'm training myself to examine those thoughts and feelings that invade my life and try to bring me down, and to have on hand power-packed Scriptures that disprove the lies and fortify my heart against future attacks. Let me leave you with a couple of particularly effective ones, near and dear to my heart:

When I feel unworthy of love: "He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

When I'm tired and want to quit: "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

When I worry: "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

There is such power in the word of God! God-breathed, living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword! Use it - learn it, memorize it, sing it, meditate upon it, put it up in your house, listen to it, surround yourself with it, hide it in your heart, let it saturate your life!

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling
and to present you before his glorious presence
without fault and with great joy -
to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
(Jude 1:24)