Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

#AdventWord #Focus #Prepare #Messenger #Watch

I need to start with an apology – I am now five days behind. I am going to do four words now and hopefully get today’s word in before tomorrow. Not making any promises. Anybody else find that Advent happenings just catch them and all of a sudden you are behind in what you had been planning to do. All the things that have happened in my life this past week have been great, they have just left me with little energy to get the writing done. Here goes and here is hoping that I can get this posted before the next thing of today catches up to me.

#AdventWord #Focus

 

The word for the past Saturday was focus. On Saturday  I was able to join some other women from my diocese for an intentional quiet day. A day to reflect on Scripture, on worship, on good words given by our speaker. I hadn’t realized until I was part way through the day how much I had needed to just stop and be. It really did give me a chance to focus my thoughts inwardly and reflect on my relationship with God. I am ever so grateful for that day.

 

 

#AdventWord #Prepare

Sunday’s Advent word was prepare. To prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child should be something that we do naturally, but I find with a lot of adults that it is hard work. At the parish that I worship in the dear one has a passion for sharing special stories with the children. This past Sunday he shared the story of St. Nicholas, whose day it was on December 6th. What an empowering story for us all. It helps to prepare us all to be more Christ like in our lives

#AdventWord #Messenger

This little homemade angel has been around for a long time in our house. When the dear one and I first got married we realized when we got to our first Advent that we had no decorations. I mean none! So we decided to make ourselves our own nativity set. It has been added to, but it is still the whimsical homemade one that is our family favourite. He is my messenger that Christmas is getting closer, that all those memories of our family times are wrapped up in his slightly tattered wings, that Jesus will always care for us no matter how tattered we get or look. So much love in one little messenger.

 

#AdventWord #Watch

Yesterday’s Advent word was watch. The days are really short here on the 53rd latitude North- less than 8 hours of daylight at the moment and we don’t get to the solstice until next week. Most mornings I get to watch the sunrise. Yesterday’s was spectacular – the photo to the right really doesn’t do it justice. In fact it has been so warm here – we have just had another chinook go through. I just stood outside and watched this and once again realized what a beautiful world we live and how grateful I am to God for this place and my life.

There we go all caught up. I am hoping that I can get today’s word done either early tomorrow or possibly later tonight. Trying to stay with this Advent discipline because it is good for me. I hope dear readers that it is good for you as well.

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#AdventWord #Mend

#AdventWord #Mend

Those of you who have been following/reading my blog for a while will know that two years ago I had the worst year of my life as regards to my health. I found out that I had ovarian cancer, which meant surgery and 6 rounds of chemotherapy. I have to say that I am finally feeling like I am settled into my new normal. Today’s Advent word is mend. I thought to myself that I have done a lot of mending and that sometimes you need to break before you can mend.

When you get a cancer diagnosis, you may not be feeling that ill, but the treatment does make you ill. Chemotherapy means putting drugs into your system that kill the cancer cells. This is really hard on your body, your mind and your spirit. You just feel worse and worse after each treatment. You have to break before you mend.

When I was undergoing treatment I had so many people praying for me and holding me up in so many ways. It was what gave me the strength to keep going going. It’s what held my faith together. Here’s what I learned and some of it is what I remembered – God doesn’t make you sick, God puts the people in place to help you mend and get healthy again.

I am not broken anymore. I am relatively healthy and so far so good on the cancer not returning. The picture on the left is one from two years ago when I was just recovering from chemotherapy. The picture on the right is me now. I am so much better and I am grateful and give thanks to God for that everyday. To mend for me is to get back to a place of good mental and physical health and I’m working on both those things everyday.

#AdventWord #Heal

#AdventWord #Heal

Most mornings about 8 am the dear one and I sit down to say Morning Prayer together. It is something  that Anglican clergy and their families often do together. For both of us this prayer time grounds us in the work that we are going to do for that day and sometimes generates interesting, thoughtful conversation. And often some downright hilarity – who knew praying could be so much fun.

I have found our prayer time to be very healing. When I was recovering from cancer treatment it became essential for me to pray regularly, for myself and for others. When we get to our intercessions we usually have a fairly long list of intentions. We pray for the church, the world, those in need – each day is somewhat different as we bring different concerns to God.

Prayer time becomes healing and then that leads to action. Making sure that we reach out to those in need, connecting with others about our concerns for the world, making sure that we recycle and are as gentle on this good earth as we can be. We find healing and we look to share that healing with others.

#AdventWord #Simplify

#AdventWord #Simplify

Every afternoon about 2 pm I stop and make a pot of tea. If the dear one is home I bring him a cup of tea (and today two ginger cookies). This tea break in the afternoon is one of the ways that I stop and breathe and remember that simple things are often the things that give me the most joy.

An afternoon cup of tea is the pause that allows me to think more clearly, to find creative space, to simplify my thought processes. It also tastes really good and that is a simple joy that can last a long time.

I often think that my faith can get cluttered with all kinds of unnecessary things. Am I saying the right prayer? Am I praying enough? Am I being thoughtful and caring? Am I  being an evangelist  to those I meet? Then I pause, often with a cup of tea, and remember that Jesus asked one thing, that I follow him and live out the values of the reign of God – love, justice, peacemaking, truth, reconciliation.

When my life gets too cluttered and too busy then I know it’s time for that cup of tea and time to simplify.

 

Gender Based Violence

Today here in Canada is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It is to remember the 14 women who were murdered for just being women at a university in Montreal on December 6, 1989. They were all engineering students and the man who killed them said that feminists had taken his life away. It is one of the biggest massacres that has ever happened in Canada. It started a conversation here about violence against women and about gun violence, it is a conversation that we are still having.

In 2009 I was asked to preach at Christ Church Cathedral for the 20th anniversary of this day. I recently found my sermon and thought that it was worth sharing here. I hope that it touches you, I hope that you are pushed to action. If you want to find out how domestic violence has affected one particular person, then please check my sister’s blog Freedom Within

Candles Day of Remembrance and Action

A Service of Remembrance: 20th Anniversary of the Massacre at Ecole Polytechnique
St. Nicholas Day

Scripture Readings:
Judges 11: 30-40
Psalm 55
1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
Mark 7: 24-30

“Faith, hope, and love abide, these three: and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Here is a story of love. In a country far away and in a time long ago there lived a poor family. The parents had been blessed with the arrival of three daughters in their family. They loved their girls, as much, if not more than any parents had ever loved their children. In the time that they lived, it was up to the parents to provide a bridal gift, a dowry, to the parents of the young man who was going to marry their daughter. Unfortunately the parents did not have enough money to be able to provide for their daughters. After a long, agonizing time the parents decided that their only option was to sell their daughters into slavery. The mother cried many tears. The father became stony quiet with grief.

In the community where they lived there also lived a bishop, whose name was Nicholas. This bishop heard the story of this family. His heart was moved. Nicholas decided that he needed to do something. He gathered enough money to make three bags that would make their bridal gifts. Late one night before the girls were to be sold Nicholas threw the bags of gold over the fence. In the morning the family discovered the gift and the girls were saved.

Here is a story of hope. Twenty years ago today a young mother was holding her tiny baby girl in a small town in southern Saskatchewan. As she did most days she had her radio tuned to CBC. It helped to remind her that life was not all about babies. That day she was listening to the radio in the late afternoon as the news began to come forth that a young man a had gone through the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal and that he had targeted and killed women only. This mother looked at her baby girl and tears welled up in her eyes. She thought of all the mothers who would be weeping that day. At that moment this mother determined that she would speak out about violence against women, that she would raise her daughter to be strong and able to make her own decisions.

That baby girl is now a young woman of 20, a university student in southern Ontario, an activist, a person of hope, someone who continues to make me proud to be a mother and gives me hope for the future.

Here is a story of faith. A woman lived in the region of Tyre with her little girl. The little girl had something wrong with her. It was like she was possessed by a demon. The mother was worried out of her mind. She just wanted her little girl to get well. Jesus decided that he needed a break. He went to a house in the Tyre region where he thought no one would notice him. Yet, Jesus being Jesus, could not escape the notice of the people living in the area. This mother heard that Jesus was there. She had heard that Jesus was a great healer, one who came with God’s power to save. She decided that she needed to go and ask him for help. What mother wouldn’t do the same?

When she came into the house, she bowed down at Jesus’ feet. She was that desperate. She begged Jesus to heal her daughter. Now remember, this mother was not Jewish. She was a Greek. Jesus said to her, “The children need to be fed first. It is not fair to take their food and give it to the dogs.” This mother had great grit and did not back down from Jesus at that. She told him, “Even the dogs are allowed to eat the crumbs from the plates of the children.”

At that point Jesus said, “For saying that, your daughter is well. Go and see.” This mother left and found her daughter well and normal.

Just as the women of Israel would gather to remember and lament Jepthah’s daughter, today we gather to remember and to lament. We remember and lament the 14 young women who were murdered today just because they were women, for no other reason, just because they were women. We remember Genevieve, Helene, Nathalie, Barbara, Anne-Marie, Maud, Maryse, Annie, Michele, Ann-Marie, Sonia, Maryse, Annie and Barbara.

We need to remember and lament the missing and dead women from Vancouver’s East Side – many of whom were from First Nations communities. We need to remember and lament the missing and dead women along the “Highway of Tears” – the #16 highway that goes between Prince George and Prince Rupert in northern British Columbia – many of whom are from surrounding First Nations communities. We need to remember and lament Hillary whose body was found this fall. A young 16 year old woman from the Miqmaq First Nation in Burnt Church, New Brunswick. If you look on the internet and go to a site called Missing Native Women, you will find name after name of missing and murdered women from all across Canada. The numbers are staggering, over a thousand women. Remember and lament each of their lives.

What many of these women have in common is that they come from small, isolated northern communities. Communities that make up the part of the church that I live and work in, the Council of the North. It is a tragedy that haunts the lives of our people, of our clergy and especially our youth. Remember and lament.

These are not isolated incidents. Looking around the world we are called to remember and lament many stories. The girls in Afghanistan who cannot go to school because they are afraid of acid being thrown in their faces. Just because they are girls who want to get an education. We need to remember the victims of feminicido – the murder of women – in Mexico; especially Alicia Gomez Lopez who was recently murdered and is the niece of a Primate’s World Relief & Development Fund partner. Remember and lament.

While it is important for us to take the time to remember and to take the time to lament before God the losses that have touched us, it is not the place that people of faith are supposed to stay. Christians like you and me are called to do something more.

Sisters, like the gritty, determined woman living in Tyre we are called to a strong and bold faith that speaks out on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. Sisters, who will you speak out for? Sisters, who will you speak to and change their mind just like the Syrophoenician woman did with Jesus? Be of strong and bold faith my sisters.

Brothers, like Nicholas, you are called to acts of generous, loving service for those who are in need. Brothers, who will you act for, which life will you try to save? Brothers, what life story have you heard that challenges you, makes you think, moves your heart that you need to take action on? Be generous and loving in all that you do my brothers.

Cast your burden upon the Lord,
You will be sustained,
The righteous will not stumble.
(Psalm 55:24)

#AdventWord #Gather

#AdventWord #Gather

I must admit, I have been struggling with today’s Advent Word just a little bit. I have no gatherings to be at today, it’s my day off and I’m puttering around the house. I thought I could take a picture of the ingredients for one of the dishes I made today, but that doesn’t quite get at the idea for today’s word.

I then remembered that I had been at a social gathering recently. The Anglican Church Women (ACW) of my parish had their annual Christmas luncheon this past Saturday. I know, it’s not Christmas, and in fact it wasn’t quite Advent yet. However this gathering is a community of women who come together to socialize and to remember that Jesus is coming once again into their lives.

This Christmas luncheon was the first event that I ever attended when we moved to central Alberta 5 years ago. These women invited me in and welcomed me in Jesus’ name. We gathered together this past Saturday to do that once again. We ate good food, we played some games, we drew for door prizes and we sang Christmas carols together. In many ways this gathering of women always feels like the start to my Advent season.

Community is why we gather and community is what Jesus gathered around him during his ministry. To gather with a worshipping community is to remember who I am, who I am called to be by God. I am grateful to be gathered with others during this Advent season.

#AdventWord #Journey

#AdventWord #Journey

We are believe it or not in the midst of a bathroom renovation – yep, in December, in Advent! We only got to this point because we had a leaky toilet and when it was removed we discovered there was damage to the floor below it. So out came all the old floor right down to the original sub-floor.

This renovation has been a thought out process of many steps, it has been a journey from here is the problem to here is the solution. When I was thinking about the journey of Advent, it struck me that our journey through this season is much the same. We see a problem – the world is a mess. We are given a solution – Jesus the bringer of God’s love, justice and peace.

I like many others are journeying through Advent with as much hope as I can muster. I don’t think since my early 20’s that I have been as afraid of what the future might bring to our poor, battered world. Will we get climate change under control so that future generations can live on this earth? Will we get nuclear weapons under control? Will we see justice for all the women and girls who sexually harassed and assaulted just because they are female? Will we?

The journey in Advent reminds me that God keeps promises, that God hears the cries of the most vulnerable, that God loves the world so much. I am going to keep on journeying. I hope you are too.

#AdventWord #Awaken

I must begin this post by first apologizing, I haven’t been around on here as much as I had thought. I had some medical issues that completely took over and I needed to take a break from this. But now I am back and ready to begin another church year with Advent Word.

Today Advent starts – my favourite of all the church seasons. I love the anticipation, the build up, the counting of the days and even the shortening of the daylight hours (for us in the northern hemisphere, that is), for coloured lights and all the decorations.

#AdventWord #Awaken

Today our Advent Word is awaken, to be woke, to pay attention to the world, to be vigilant, to get ready for a new thing.

The dear one and our beloved cat have a morning routine that our cat absolutely insists on. When the dear one gets up he has to pick up our cat and wander around the house, looking at what is happening both outside and inside. It is the time for them to awaken to the new day and all its possibilities. Just like with Advent we awaken to all the new possibilities that God puts before us. Possibilities for generosity, for justice, for reconciliation, for hope, for love.

Let’s all awaken to the Spirit moving us into a new day with new possibilities. Happy Advent everyone!

 

 

New Normal


This is me this afternoon after having had a crazy busy last few days. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the busyness but for some reason my body just doesn’t. Over the last few months I’ve realised that I am settling into a ‘new normal’. This is my new normal after cancer.

When I was in cancer treatment & after I saw a therapist regularly. I highly recommend that if you are going through treatment that you find someone professional to talk to. My therapist told me that I would know when I was moving into my new normal. By that she meant I would be through the processing of all that had happened to me. Not surprisingly she was right. I’m not angry anymore or in the immediate grief or surprised. I’m okay with what happened. I’m grateful it got caught so quickly. I am learning to live with the after effects.

My new normal looks like this: my energy levels are lower, my feet will always be effected by peripheral neuropathy, I will have to take more medications to deal with that, I will be considered a cancer patient for another 4 years, and I can never walk barefoot again. So my new normal.

It isn’t what I had hoped but it is what I have. Here’s the good news, I’m alive! I have family & friends who are always there for me. My new normal isn’t what I had before diagnosis but it is still a gift. It is a gift to be alive & to continue with the work I have been called by the church to do.

Here’s what I know. I have to take rest days. I can’t function without them. I have to not beat myself up about not getting done everything that I used to get done. I’m still loved, I still do much of what I love, I am on the way to being healthy. The new normal isn’t that bad.

I’m sure this isn’t the last transition I will ever have to go through. I, also, haven’t done this alone for which I’m most grateful. For now I will live with my new normal and look forward to the time when it is just my normal. By then I won’t even remember that it wasn’t my normal at all.

Anyone else got a new normal?

A River of Women

2017-03-08 16.41.39

River of Women

River of Women

I stand still and watch the colours wave around me

I remember my mother and my grandmothers

I think about my daughters and my nieces

I hold hands with my sister and sisters of my heart

I am in the river of women

This river which holds our blood, our tears

This river of our hopes, our dreams

I move with the colours that swirl around me

I look back and give thanks to the women who walked before me

I am in the river of women

I am surrounded by the colours of grief, the colours of love

I am filled with the songs of women and the cries of women

I am in  a river of persistence and resistance

This river flows over me, around me, beneath me and through me

I am in the river of women

I hear the voices of all the different women who I have crossed paths with

I hear the women who have been abused, catcalled, murdered just because they are women

I drop to my knees on Mother Earth and let my tears fall

My tears join others in the river of women

I am in the river of women

I am lifted up by the river of women

I remember that being a woman is to be strong, to carry pain, to give birth to new things

I look to the future and see women from there beckoning to me

I see the strong women, the Indigenous women, the women of colour hold me up

I am in the river of women

I hear the prayers of women that feed the river

I am upheld by those prayers of hope, love, persistence and resistance

I add my prayer for justice to feed the river of women

I let the river flow through me and set me on my path

I am the river of women

P.S. These are my reflections for this International Women’s Day and some art work I did while reflecting. Grateful for this day that allowed those creative parts of me to merge.

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