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Archive for the ‘Steps Forward’ Category

On March 25th, I bought a new journal. It’s not like it takes much for me to want to bring a new journal home.  There’s something about the blank, lined pages that makes my heart smile. There’s so much possibility. What will those pages contain?

That little bit of mystery is part of the temptation that is so hard to resist. This time I knew exactly what would fill these pages.

Wake Up Smiling Journal

Gratitude. For silly things. For sublime things. For profound and powerful things. For things that only seem important to me. For things that make a difference on a grand scale.

It might seem counterintuitive given the “wake up smiling” title on the journal, but each night before I turn off my light and go to sleep, I’ve been spending a few moments writing down at least three things from my day that make me grateful.

Some nights, many things flow onto the page fast enough that my pen can hardly keep up. Other nights, I have to stop and think back through my day to find moments of gratitude.

Those are the moments that help me to wake up smiling. Those few minutes thinking back over my day and recording my gratitude leave me ready to sleep, at peace and content with my world. Secure in the knowledge that no matter how crazy the day has been or how I’m feeling, there is beauty in my world. There is cause to be grateful. There is joy to be found even in the smallest moments.

This weekend I also happened to take photos of the things that ended up on my gratitude list.

Lambs in the Daffodils

Every spring, I hope to see the lambs in this daffodil field.

Tomato Season Has Begun

Tomato seasons in Victoria, BC has begun.

Fabulous Finger Peeler

Love my new vegetable peeler. Peeled all the veggies for a roast beef dinner and my hands didn’t end up sore and grumpy.

Ready for a Perfect Afternoon

A cup of a delicious Angelwater tea from Silk Road, in my favourite tea cup from a dear friend, ready to sit down and read River of Stars, the brand new book from my favourite author, Guy Gavriel Kay. No better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

What about you? What are you grateful for in this moment? What is making your heart happy?

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New Year’s Day has always been about napping, sprawled in front of the tv, brain turned off, asleep even when awake.

Today I wanted something different. Something more. Something reflective. Something that resonates with who I am and who I am becoming.

Today I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and yet have avoided doing even when the opportunity was right in front of me.

Christ Church Cathedral Millenium Labyrinth

Today I walked a labyrinth.

Step by slow and careful step. Circling inwards. Pausing to breathe. To reflect. To see. Inside and out. To meditate. To celebrate. To mourn. To hear myself called beloved by my creator and to know that I was invited to call the same.

I felt self-conscious.  You must look a little crazy walking slowly in circles, pausing at each turn in the path.

I felt freedom to be in my own space, unaware of the world around me, simply focused on the step in front of me.

I felt trepidation as though I was entering a dark and scary place.

I felt joy as I emerged into light.

I felt despair as I contemplated my mom slipping slowly away from me.

I felt peace knowing that I have a family of my heart whom I love dearly and who continue to hold me close to their hearts.

I felt excitement for the year ahead and gratitude for the year past.

I felt alone, solitary in my journey, and yet, I felt connected to a greater community I’ve never met but who have walked these same steps and others just like them for so many years and in so many places around this earth.

I felt hope as I experienced a divine stillness as I stood on holy ground.

I felt lost as I wondered what on earth I was doing walking a labyrinth outdoors where someone I know might see me.

I felt found knowing that I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing in that sacred moment of time.

Walking the Labyrinth

For those who are interested, the labyrinth is the Christ Church Cathedral Millenium Labyrinth at the corner of Quadra and Burdett in Victoria, BC. It’s outdoors and open to the public.

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Clouds at Sunset

once i called you Jesus

with that word, i could relate to you

safe, knowable

baby in a manager

willing sacrifice

Spirit seemed so far away

untouchable, distant

Father was the angry god

i could never hope to satisfy

    

one day i wished more for mystery

a god i could not contain

Spirit became the name i called

ever-present, intimately intertwined

yet other in every possible way

Jesus, still when comfort needed

but Father rarely spoken

afraid i’d disappoint

    

in wonder i remember

moment of discovery

the day i learned to call you Father

arms open, reaching out to embrace

holding me close in love

unashamed of how broken i felt

Father offering everything i lacked

three-in-one, i knew you then

knowable mystery accepting

me in love

    

those words now leave me tangled

web of hurt, anger, bitterness

i try to call your name

but my voice will not speak

those words i once used

my heart contracts

the walls close in

once familiar names

my life no longer knows you

the face i see reflected

lacks truth of who you are

of who i am in you

i need a new word

but who am i to name

the source of all creation

     

each day i sit in silence

whispering a single word

seeking, trying to find the one

that encompasses and draws us together

Ruah, Breath, i seek to draw you in

Creator, most easily recognized

your handiwork surrounds me

i sit with you in stillness

but still you feel unknown

i breathe

inhale, exhale

pause, repeat

in the space carved out

my heart feels a new name

so clear the word seems spoken in my ear

    

Beloved

    

i pause, my breath held close

Beloved, name and invitation

in one simple word

i cannot comprehend

you call me Beloved

at the core of my being

you invite me to intimacy

to be yours

to call you my own

Beloved you are all i have known

more than i can yet comprehend

reminder of the beauty

i have let slip away

lost in waves of anger and pain

Beloved offers comfort, understanding

growth to some thing more

Beloved demands no striving

offers rest and ease

encouragement to grow deeper

bolder, stronger

Beloved knows

I am enough

Sunlight on the water

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When I decided last week to take more photos, I thought it would be fun to take at least one picture each day of something that caught my attention or brought me a moment of joy.

Thanks to Emily Quinton for the inspiration of her It’s the little things blog posts. The glimpses into her world never fail to make me smile.

So, here are a few moments from last week in my world.

Monday Snap DragonsTuesday Blue Hydrangeas

And yes, for those paying attention, it’s the same blue hydrangea you saw in last week’s post.  It really was my Tuesday picture.  I’ve been having fun watching how the colour grows.

Wednesday BannersThursday Purple SidewalkFriday Round Chai Latte HeartSaturday Red Rose

No Sunday picture, but I couldn’t resist sharing an extra Saturday pic.  I actually turned the car around and went back to take this picture.  I needed to.  I was giggling too hard to be driving anyhow. =D

Saturday Sign

I haven’t decided yet how long I’m going to keep taking a picture a day, but there are already Monday and Tuesday pictures on my phone.

It was a fun exercise that helped me slow down, pay attention and savour those moments of joy.  That definitely can’t be a bad thing.

Give it try … and if you do, I’d love to see a glimpse into your week.

Feel free to leave a link in the comments below.

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I’ve been distracted the last couple of weeks. It’s a distraction entirely of my own making.

DarkGlass Mountain Trilogy by Sara DouglassI started re-reading the first of 11 books by Sara Douglass that are set in Tencendor.

I originally read the first six more than ten years ago. When the final trilogy started to appear several years ago, I decided that once those three new books were all available, I would start from the beginning again. Read the first two trilogies, then the two stand along novels, and finally, it would be time to savour the last installment.

I knew it was unlikely that there would be any more books set  in one of my favourite fantasy worlds and I wanted to experience the whole world all at once. The author had been diagnosed with cancer and there was concern along the way whether she would be able to finish the last trilogy.

She did finish and even wrote another book in a new world. But last fall, her journey ended.

Her books have always allowed me to get completely lost in the world she creates. I’ll admit to getting, well… very cranky, when I discovered that one of her other sets of books, which I mistakenly thought was a trilogy, actually had four books and the final book wasn’t yet published. I’d deliberately waited to start the books until I thought they were all available, exactly so I could avoid that wait and the desperate need to know what happened next.

So every spare moment, I’ve had my nose in a book … or more accurately in the Kindle software on my phone. You can use up your phone battery really quickly that way! I’m currently 55% of the way through book 2 (I couldn’t resist being specific since that’s exactly what the software shows me). The books are just as engrossing now as when I first read them and it’s long enough ago that the story feels new again.

There is an extra sweetness to this reading knowing that in this lifetime, Sara Douglass will create no more worlds to explore, no more characters to love, no more impatient waiting for the next book to appear on the bookstore shelves. But what a gift her writing is!

Crowded Bookshelves 1The thing is, re-reading these books has helped me realize something else. There are too many books on my shelves but not my copies of the first eight of these books. Those are in storage in the crawl space below the house, exactly because there is not enough room on my bookshelves.

My solution has always been to just find some place new to store books. But that does not feel comfortable any more.

There are books that I want to keep, books that feel like old friends, but I want those ones accessible for easy visits.

There are also books that I’ve never read and really no longer want to read.

There are books that belong to my old life as a youth pastor that I couldn’t bring myself to discard. They were too many dreams tied up in them. Dreams that I wasn’t prepared to let go, despite how much they hurt.

There are books that I bought because they seemed like ones I should read.

Books everyone said were great, even if they never really interested me.

More Crowded BookshelvesBooks I thought I needed to read, or at least own, in order to be taken seriously as a pastor, teacher, worship leader, creative person, author, Christian … whatever label I was trying to fit at the time.

There are also books hiding amongst the piles that I really want to read, but I’ve misplaced them in the chaos.

That’s not working for me any more. It’s time to review the bookshelves … and the book boxes squirrelled away in every nook and cranny … but I’m going to start with the ones I can see.

It’s time to make some choices.  It’s time to let some books go.

It’s not going to be a fast process. I’ve got a LOT of books. I know that I’m going to need to be gentle with myself. It’s going to be hard to let some of the books go. There should definitely be warning signs about “personal historical snaggles” ahead over my bookshelf, but it’s time to move forward.

Imagine the wonder of actually having an empty shelf waiting for new book friends to come and live. Books that nourish me now. Books that will continue to inspire and challenge the woman I am becoming.

It’s time to let go. It’s time to make space. I did it with a tea tumbler and that was good. I can do it with books too.

One step, one book at a time.

This is going to be my step four. I’ve barely begun, but I know I need the accountability of writing these words out loud.  I’ll promise there will be more to this story.  You’re welcome to check in along the way. I just ask that you be gentle and encouraging.

And, if you need a virtual cheering squad as you work on letting go of things that no longer serve you, let me know.  I’ll make sure my virtual pom poms and listening ear are ready.  The journey is much less frightening when you have travelling companions.

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