Tag Archives: Christianity

Here I Am

The newest addition to my plant family, a purple Hyacinth, is sitting close by as I sip on my coffee and write. The blossoms are filling the room with a soft fragrance and I’m taking deep breaths of it in.

Inhale – exhale

Inhale – exhale

Here I am. Doing the same thing I was doing yesterday. And the day before that. And the one before that one. It seems winter, post-Christmas winter, brings out the worst in me. I should clarify that it is specific to post-Christmas winter because I love the Christmas season and, other than the few weeks of adjustment to more bundling and winter driving, I enjoy the weeks leading up to the holiday despite the rush of it all. But I finally have admitted to myself that I’m not a winter person. I hibernate as best I can, curling up on couches with warm steaming drinks close by.

Winter is actually a lovely time of the year, the slowness of it all. I try to take advantage of it. I try to see the glass half full. The beauty of the freeze, the activities only winter can provide. But then…then I start to feel cooped-up, held back, bored, depressed. Every damn year. It doesn’t seem to matter how much vitamin D I’m popping or the fact that we had a week of warmth away from the kids this time around, I simply get weary of the winter.

I NEED spring. I get excited for the new growth and despite all of its messiness and muck, it revives me. One foot in the frost, one foot in the thaw. Every spring reminds me of perseverance and grace. Seeing life burst through ground that was once frozen, I am reminded of myself in it all.

I could use some reviving right about now.

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Jeremiah 31:25

 

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Grief

Grief is a funny thing. It hits you at the strangest times. There’s the obvious initial response to the death of a parent that is emotional and jarring and raw, but then that gives way to daily life needing to move on and that’s when grief creeps up, bubbles up, bursts forth at the oddest of moments. Seemingly odd at first, but very fitting upon further observation.

James’ dad died in the middle of February. It was sudden and unexpected. He wasn’t the healthiest of people and seemed to be aging rapidly, but no one would have guessed he was going to pass at 62 years of age, not yet two months into his retirement. I’d never experienced anything like that before. My husband hadn’t experienced anything like that before. We’ve lost grandparents and a few people on the outskirts of our lives, but never someone so close and dear and…there. Having to tell the kids their beloved Grandpa, the man who would pick them up and take them for pancakes and read to them was gone was one of the hardest things to do.

I found that because James is the eldest child and his dad was alone and we had children going through their own grieving process I shelved a lot of my emotion. After Pat died, after the room cleared out, I sat there and just thought about the mountain of things that this meant. What this meant to everyone, all of the things that had to be done and taken care of. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom and have been for a long time now, but the list grew instantly and I went into ‘care’ mode.

But now I find it creeping out or bursting forth at bizarre moments like when I walked into Safeway the other day. It was the first time since he died. Pat had called James from Safeway because he felt dizzy and short of breath. It was the last time they talked. The manager had called Pat an ambulance and by the time James got to him he was unconscious. I put Eli in the buggy and walked through the doors and an instant flood of emotion came over me. “He’s gone” I just kept repeating in my head.

It also caught me off guard when I put a dish of rice pudding in the oven to bake. The last time that I had made it was the day he died. The connection to a time when he was here was too profound. The absence of the person is felt so deeply. Too deeply. But it’s good. I need to feel it. I need to care for the people around me during a time like this, but I also need to wade through my own emotions and let them break the surface so that I can work through them.

I imagine it will be a long road of these sorts of things. We will never fully recover from a parent dying, they are linked too closely to our lives. They mean too much to us. Especially if they have been the type of parent, like Pat, who, despite his flaws and our flaws, has loved us greatly and unconditionally.

 

feather1

 

‘Farewell’

 

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The Gumption is Gone

Call it the winter blues, a February slump, SAD’s or just straight-up depression, but whatever you label it as, all I know is the Gumption Train left weeks ago.

This is fairly normal for me during these dark and bitterly cold winter months. Last year was particularly brutal considering it was about -40 most days with mountains of snow taking over the city. I thought this year would be different. We stocked up on Vitamin D, booked James some time off for the end of this month and hoped that we’d be able to afford a warm vacation. It hasn’t been as cold and we’ve had barely any snow (for Winnipeg). However, I’m finding myself having only one or two “good” days every week. Which isn’t all that good…

I’m not so sure that it’s the weather, although it does play a part, as much as I feel a bit lost in life right now. I don’t feel like I’m fitting in to things. I don’t feel like myself. I could use a good dose of sunshine for sure, but it’s more then that.

I’ll have been a parent for ten years this coming September. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost all of that time. I think that lately I’ve been feeling the weight of that undertaking, if that makes any sense. A lot of myself is on hold, and has been for a long time now. I’m finally getting back into my artwork, which has been good for me, but I’m still so limited by space and nap times and shift work and the energy to do it.

The gumption to press on and move forward and keep my chin up is waning. I need a break. I need to recenter and rejuvenate but there’s no break in sight.

Someone said to me the other day, “The days are long but the years are fast.” I’m currently feeling the long, dark days.

“The Lord will work out his plans for my life,

for your loving-kindness, Lord, continues forever.

Don’t abandon me—for you made me.”

Psalm 138:8

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Jesus in the Ordinary

Enough time has passed that I’m no longer mortified that I did this video. I was going to share it awhile back and write a whole post entitled, “Hi. My Name is Bria and I’m Awkward”…but at the time I didn’t feel like sharing the video yet. So here it is now.

About a day after we shot the video everything came together in my mind and I figured out how I felt about the question. I texted our pastor with my modified but unusable answer. So here’s what I would have liked to say:

I think if I could go back, I’d add that I experience Christ in the risk, and in the trust. In the mess of the day to day. In the exhaustion. In the mundane it’s easy to miss all of it, it’s easy to not listen and not look but when I do, He’s there. He’s asking me to risk and trust and step out and look. Whispering that through all of the unsure, He’s right there, walking beside me, loving me and teaching me. Often through the simple. Sometimes through the grand. Always through the ordinary.

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Taking Some Time

The world keeps turning outside of social media. Who knew? Life carries on.

I felt the pull to repeat the same Lenten fasting as last year and have removed myself from all of those time-sucking websites and have limited computer time to after the kids are in bed. I got a lot out of it last time around and was looking forward to stepping away from the hustle and bustle of the news feeds and game requests and idyllic envy-inducing instagrams. Truth be told, I’d love to walk away from all of it for good but, like so many others I’ve talked to, I just can’t seem to make that leap.

However, this has proven to be a good starter week for me since our sink and dishwasher aren’t draining at all. My attention has been on washing a million dishes in plastic bins and since we are a hungry family of five, we go through a lot of dishes. It’s a good thing I have a six year old who loves to be a helper.

Along with dish duty, I’ve been continuing to read some books that I had previously posted about. These are pulling at my heart strings and awakening my long-subdued homesteading/hobby farming desires. We aren’t buying land any time soon but I’m seeing ways in which I can get more out of our urban life. The way in which I’ve viewed myself as “only” a stay-at-home-mom is slowly changing as I try hard to pull away from the damaging priorities I’ve bought into for so long…but that’s a whole other blog that’s bubbling up to the surface.

It’s refreshing to retreat for awhile and allow yourself some space to breath and to evaluate your trajectory.

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Beauty

We are constantly bombarded these days with ideas of beauty and what beautiful is; our own inner voices, our family and friends, the media, the world around us. Girls seem to be more obsessed than ever to fit into the societal views of beauty, trying to acquire flawless skin, perfectly applied eye make-up and the ever illusive “thigh-gap” (I read an article about this new obsession…kinda crazy). Older women rush to the spa to get skin treatments and injections, paying thousands and thousands of dollars so they can keep-up with their daughters. Every things seems to be competing for some of our head space (because if it gets in our head then we’ll obsess and spend money on trying to ‘fix it’, right?). It’s loud and it’s hard to shut it off.

Beauty is a touchy subject for me. I say touchy because I find that I am far too frequently in sync with the cravings our society has for beauty. I want the youthful look and slender build and Banana Republic’s 2013 fall wardrobe (I think I actually had heart palpitations when I went into the new store). I enjoy Vouge and often peruse The Sartorialist. It’s not that I think these things are wrong in and of themselves, it’s that I know I get carried away and allow them to take up too much time. I often put too much stock in a materialistic definition of beauty and I become shaped by all of those voices that begin to chat away in my brain. I begin to compare myself to those definitions and I fall short, because they are unattainable. Seriously, I’ve had three kids, my body will not look like a 16 year olds.

But the funny thing is that when I think about the woman that I want to be and become, these definitions of beauty don’t hold a lead role. Sure, I hope that I look as good as my mom does when I’m 58, but I long for a different beauty as well. A lasting beauty. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought lately and it’s probably because I’m nearing my 30th birthday.

We are told to take care of our future. We put money away and make plans upon plans upon plans to ensure our comfort and our childrens safety. We are told to eat healthy and be active so as to ward off heart disease and strokes…which are all important. But I’ve been wondering why more of us (and maybe this takes place but it’s not talked about as much) don’t plan for how we want to age in character and faith and personality. I’ve been thinking about how I would like to age in many areas.

I came across a quote that I wrote down quite a long time ago. Unfortunatly I didn’t write down the author, but it goes like this:

” This is what beauty says, All shall be well. And this is what it’s like to be with a woman at rest,

a woman comfortable in her feminine beauty. She is enjoyabe to be with. She is lovely.

In her presence your heart stops holding its breath. You relax and believe once again

that all will be well.”

This quote resonates with me, but I feel so far off. Mentors seem as though they are a thing of the past, but I bet this is where they would come in to play. I’d love to have a mentor, a Ruth or an Ester type, a godly woman to look-up to and ask questions to and  see how she walked through all of the long rough years.

When I look at my peers and at older women around me that I know and admire, they don’t fit into these silly cookie cutters that the world has made for us. They come in all shapes and sizes. I find that what makes these women beautiful are their lives and their stories, their love and their passion, their flaws and their humour. They have something that a cosmetic stand or Botox add cant sell.

“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom…

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31: 10, 26,

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Me and My Blessed Life

When I was younger my dad said to me a number of times, “Bria, you were born the right colour, in the right place, at the right time.” I never really knew what he meant, so I’d nod my head and smile as though I understood. Now, before you start ranting on about how that’s ‘whatever label or ist that you want to ascribe to it’, I believe he was trying to teach me to be thankful for my privileged/blessed lot in life, not to take my situation for granted and squander away my opportunities.

However, lately I’ve found it troubling. I’ve begun to understand what he tried to teach me so many years ago, but with greater understanding comes greater responsibility. These are the thoughts that have been plaguing my mind lately. Please don’t take them the wrong way.

I have blonde hair, blue eyes and white skin. I don’t know what it’s like to be a minority. I’ve never been a recipient of racism. I’ve  never been turned down for employment because of how I look or talk or because of where I come from. Yet I complain about my skin, my hairstyle and having to wear glasses (that are covered under my husbands benefits…I don’t even pay for the damn things).

I have my health and an able body, one that was blessed with growing three children. I don’t know the feeling of chronic pain. I’m a stranger to the long and lonely years of infertility. I don’t bear marks or scars of accidents or ailments. Yet I complain about having wide hips, about needing to lose 10 pounds, about a few stretch marks here or there and a saggy stretched-out tummy.

I have a house over my head, a kitchen full of food, a nice yard for the kids to play in and a car in my driveway (and a truck to tow our boat). I don’t know what it’s like to be homeless and I probably never will. I don’t know what it’s like to be truly hungry. Yet I complain about our renovations, about not having enough room, about our neighbourhood and I’m constantly think about moving to a ‘nicer’ place. I complain about not having anything to cook for dinner when my fridge, pantry and freezer are full.

I live in a province that is unbelievably abundant and beautiful in a country that is free. I don’t know what it’s like to be a refugee. I don’t know what it’s like to live in a place that is war-torn. Yet I complain about our harsh winters, our giant mosquitoes, our bad roads and our high taxes.

I have family who loves me, friends who care about me and a church community that supports me. I have money in my wallet and in the bank. I go on leisurely trips outside of the city to beaches and cottages and, on occasion, hotels. I don’t know what it’s like to not have a family. I don’t know what it’s like to not have friends. Yet I complain about the little things that irritate me with family, friends and church. I complain about not going on more grandiose trips to more exotic destinations.  I’m forever complaining about not having enough money.

I have a loving husband who has an amazing job and a secondary source of income. He treats me well and smothers me with affection everyday. He supports me in everything I do and loves that I stay home to take care of his kids. I have three beautiful children who are healthy and smart. They have things they need to work on, as we all do, but they are well behaved and love their parents and each other very much. They are free to go to school to learn and play with their friends, regardless of race or religion.

This is my privileged life. I don’t battle AIDS or famine or threats of war. I don’t fear widespread diseases or imprisonment because of my faith. Yet I complain and complain and complain. The things I battle are apathy, complacency and idleness.

Sometimes I just hang my head in shame over how blessed my life is and how ungrateful my heart is. I think back to those little outstretched hands poking through the fence in Haiti, begging me for a handful of rice and beans. What would they think of my life up here?

{Lord, teach me to be more like you.}

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