Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Hello, my name is Joy Elisabeth (Lenentine) Feltmate. I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, maybe an enemy? I'm short, round, freckled, gray-eyed and red-headed (mixed with liberal amounts of gray these days). I have two university degrees; a bachelor of arts in English Literature and a bachelor of education. I'm a singer, a writer, a speaker, a reader, a baker, a pray-er, a walker, an explorer. I'm a nature-lover, a word-lover, a food-lover, a music-lover, a cat-lover, a rain-lover, a peace-lover. I strongly dislike baked beans, driving on icy roads, professional wrestling, making phone calls to anyone other than my family, confrontation and conflict of any kind and cleaning. I have never travelled outside of North America, though I have driven and flown back and forth across Canada more times than I can count. I have never learned to play an instrument well. I have never tried drugs or smoked a cigarette or had a drink of alcohol (except communion wine, but that was by accident :) ). My favourite number is 17, my favourite colour is turquoise, my favourite food is chocolate cheesecake, my favourite flower is white lilac, my favourite vegetable is fiddleheads, my favourite season is Autumn, my favourite place in the world is Cavendish, PEI. I get actual chills when I hear really good harmonies (eg. Pentatonix - Mary Did You Know; have you heard that yet?!) and I cry when I listen to the soundtrack from Les Miserables. I have been known to read/watch my favourite  books/movies/TV shows over and over and over. I am afraid of bears and losing my phone and keys; I adore wild thunder-and-lightning storms and sitting alone in a dark room lit only by candlelight.

I can be kind, but am often selfish. I can be ambitious and hard-working, but am often lazy and self-indulgent. I can be creative and original, but am often uninspired and dull. I can be encouraging, but am often self-centered and self-seeking. I can be dependable, but am often inconsistent and fickle. I can be authentic, but often hide behind a mask of shame and guilt. I can be bold, but am often fearful. I can trust, but often worry. I can believe, but often doubt. I can be helpful, but have often caused hurt. I have acted on my convictions, but I have often been wishy-washy and silent. I have used words and actions to build up and also to tear down. I can be independent to a fault. I haven't yet learned how to take a compliment gracefully. I have been joyful, positive, honest, inspiring, steady, self-sacrificing, committed, persistent, patient, gentle, generous, thankful and good; but I can be forgetful, scattered, unfocused, unproductive, undisciplined, unfaithful, idle, deceptive, manipulative, procrastinating, egotistical, ungrateful, miserly, narrow-minded, prejudiced and judgemental.

Who am I, anyway? Does anything listed above provide a satisfactory answer? And the more relevant question, what I'm really asking: do I matter? Do I have value, worth, significance? Because when I take a long, hard, honest look at who I appear to be, it's hard to find much to go on. When I start focusing on these things, this list, these credentials, these preferences, these failings and short-comings - I quite frankly get a little depressed. If I were to weigh the good against the bad, the positive against the negative, I know what would come out on top.

When I make a list like this, it's like I'm trying to justify my existence, attempting to make myself more real, to prove to myself that I am indeed here. Seeking to find some meaning, purpose, mission, vision...but it occurs to me that I'm looking in the wrong direction.

I have spent the last few years figuring out who I am, allowing myself to be myself, and learning to love that person in the mirror. Before that, I didn't even feel entitled to have a favourite colour, to prefer one type of flower over another, etc... I was apologetic of my likes and dislikes, ashamed of the positives and the negatives, embarrassed by my whole existence, really. The only thing that has made healing possible was discovering the truth - that it's not who I am, but whose I am that matters. I could be the most wonderful, admirable person on the face of the earth or the most hideous, despicable low life you could imagine (it depends on who you ask :) ), but it's all overshadowed by who my Saviour says I am. The only opinion I need to concern myself with is His. His assessment trumps all others. It's really all about who He is.

But I forget. Often. It doesn't take much at all to distract me from the Truth. One of the enemy's most powerful and popular strategies is to attack and undermine our identity. If he can get us to take our eyes off of Jesus and onto ourselves, his work is all downhill from there. Then it's easy for him to whisper more and more lies into our susceptible hearts and minds, until we're completely deceived, dejected, demoralized and defeated.

Fortunately, there's a simple remedy. One unchanging fact is our position in Christ. No matter what we've done or how we feel, who we are in Christ never changes. The key to victory here is intentionally training ourselves to remember when we've forgotten - because we will forget. Jesus issues this invitation, and the more we take Him up on it, the less we'll be lured into false, negative ways of thinking of ourselves.  
“Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

When we take the time to simply come, and identify ourselves with Jesus and sit at His feet and learn from Him who He says we are, our vision shifts from ourselves back to Him. Once perspective is regained, truth has a chance to re-adjust our mindset.

It's been awhile since I've shared a song with you. A dear friend shared this one with me several years ago and I'll be forever grateful. It's so often exactly what I need to hear, when I forget who I am. (I'll post the lyrics along with the link - if you can, take a look at the you tube video, it's full of beautifully-expressed truth!) 

Remind Me Who I Am

When I lose my way
And I forget my name
Remind me who I am
In the mirror all I see
Is who I don't want to be
Remind me who I am
In the loneliest places
When I can't remember what grace is

Tell me once again
Who I am to You who I am to You
Tell me lest I forget
Who I am to You that I belong to You to You

When my heart is like a stone
And I'm running far from home
Remind me who I am
When I can't receive Your love
Afraid I'll never be enough
Remind me who I am
If I'm Your beloved
Can You help me believe it

I'm the one You love
I'm the one You love
That will be enough
I'm the one You love

Tell me once again
Who I am to You who I am to You
Tell me lest I forget
Who I am to You that I belong to You
Tell me once again
Who I am to You who I am to You
Tell me lest I forget
Who I am to You that I belong to You to You
To You


Monday, November 10, 2014

Softly and Tenderly

Don't you just love it when something so completely exceeds your expectations? I had the privilege of attending a conference at my church last weekend - very aptly called "Immerse". The goal of the weekend was to become better acquainted with the person and work of the Holy Spirit. It was unlike any conference I'd ever attended - most seem to be designed to pack as much information as possible into the allotted time, with hardly a pause in the schedule for a bathroom break, let alone chances to actually think about and absorb, or Heaven forbid discuss with other attendees, what's been taught and experienced. But at this conference, though we followed a loose itinerary, there was time. Sessions included worship, teaching and ministry times that were unhindered by time constraints. Breaks were frequent and unrushed. Meals were delicious, nutritious and relaxed. There was time to breathe, time to share thoughts and questions and stories, time to let it all soak in.

I approached the weekend with mixed feelings. I was looking forward to extended times of praise and worship, anticipating meeting interesting people and deepening current friendships. I was prepared to encounter new ideas and add to my knowledge of the Holy Spirit. I could hardly wait for the refreshing and encouragement that was to come! And, since honesty is the best policy, I was also relishing the thought of a weekend to myself, free of family responsibilities. (Thanks, Honey!)

But I also had some fears. I was a little afraid of what God might show me, and how He might go about it. As an imperfect human being, there's always some sin to battle with, some thought or attitude or habit that needs to be addressed and dealt with, and hopefully eliminated. Our very first exercise of the weekend was to answer four questions, one of which was "What do I expect?". I wrote down the very first thing that came to mind - I expected to be scolded. I knew there was sin in my life, and I expected God to confront it and make me face up to it. In fact, I was kind of hoping He would, since I've made very little progress in overcoming this particular issue in spite of continued praying and surrendering, and at times it just seemed to be getting worse - I didn't even want to let it go. But I came to this weekend knowing, hoping it was time to get rid of it for good. And for some reason, I was expecting God to perform the operation without anaesthetic, maybe even hoping He would, since I was feeling such guilt over my on-going weakness. I guess I felt I deserved whatever He chose to dish out.

As I look back on my experience from this side of it, I just have to shake my head and smile. Throughout the entire weekend, again and again and again, God poured out heaping helpings of lavish love over me. I was astonished by the gentle tenderness of His dealings with me. I had never considered before that God could feel tenderly towards me - it's not a word I had ever associated with His love. It was so sweet and precious and intimate; a whole new level of relationship. And in the midst of it, it was suddenly easy to let go of what I'd been so stubbornly holding onto; His kindness really does lead us to repentance! (Romans 2:4) 

And that's all I have to say about that :)