Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the category “Faith Ramblings”

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?

Oh my goodness, it’s time for Lent!!

Here it is Shrove Tuesday and that means, yep Lent is right around the corner! Last year I kept Lent fairly simple as I will still in recovery mode from cancer treatment. This year it seems a plan has developed by listening to the Spirit. Tools have appeared that I am hoping will be life giving and deepen my walk with Jesus through the 40 days that are coming.

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My guides for Lent

Here are my tools – Diana Butler Bass’ book Grounded, Richard Wagameese’s book Embers, and my drawing pad and water colour pencils. Each day through Lent I am going to pick up one of these. I will read and delve deeper into my spiritual life. I will pray and let the Spirit guide me as she does. I will draw and let my creativity flow in a different way than it usually does. Each day I will do one of these, I am not going to try to do all three on top of what I regularly do – that would be a bit much to say the least.

The dear one and I have a routine of saying Morning Prayer which I know will feed my thoughts and reflections during this time as well. We also reduce the amount of meat that we eat and of course there is extra stuff at church that we will be participating in. My hope, my prayer is that all of this together will lead to a holy Lent for me and for those around me.

I’d love to hear if you have any plans for Lent and what they are? Are you giving up something? Are you taking on something? Are you engaging with something new to see God’s presence in your life differently?

May you have a good and holy Lent. May you take the forty days as a way to renew your spiritual life. May you see Jesus walking with you each and every day.

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Mental Health – mine, yours, the other persons

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Let’s all be the light!

In the Christian church today we remember Candlemas – the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. It is also the day when we here in the northern hemisphere recognize that we are half way between winter solstice and the spring equinox. Where I live you can definitely tell that the days are getting longer. I happen to love Candlemas and the coming of more light. It reminds me to be light whenever and wherever I can.

A year ago today the dear one went away on clergy retreat (it’s where he is at the moment as well). A week before he left I had just been diagnosed with depression as a result of having cancer – still dealing with that by the way – and I had just started my medication. For those of you who have dealt with that you will know that it takes at least  3 weeks to begin feeling the least bit better. We both thought when he left that I would be okay. Well I wasn’t. I was in tears, I was afraid, I was anxious (the twin sister to depression), I was not okay. I wouldn’t be seeing my therapist for another week and I was not okay.

It meant that on the second full day of his retreat, that I texted him and asked him to call me as soon as he could. We had agreed before he left that he would check his phone regularly to see how I was doing. He phoned me and I was in tears, so many tears, ugly tears, tears that just wouldn’t stop. He spoke to our bishop and the retreat leader and they prayed with him and sent him home. I look back at that episode and realize that I was the lowest emotionally I have ever been. I couldn’t take care of myself. The competent, independent, thoughtful, caring for others woman could not take care of herself. It was awful and I hope I never go back there again.

In my family, both immediate and extended, we talk a fair bit about mental health and how we are all doing. We have all been touched by someone who is struggling, who is on the road to recovery, who seems to be coping well. We have had honest conversations with each other about how we are doing. We have leaned on each other and continue to do so. I have friends who have had similar conversations with me about my mental health and about theirs. Mental health issues has touched everyone I know. It probably has touched you as well dear reader.

You may ask why the connection between Candlemas and mental health. The Feast of the Presentation is about an old faithful man named Simeon who took Jesus in his arms  when his family had brought him to the temple and said this:

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
    according to your word;
    for my eyes have seen your salvation,
     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
    a light for revelation to the Gentiles
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

As Anglicans many of us are familiar with that prayer being used during the service of Evening Prayer. It is about God’s light coming for the whole world, a light that cannot be overcome. I think of my mental health in this way, if I am not healthy emotionally, mentally, spiritually then I can’t be that God light for others. I am called to be that God light, you are called to be that God light and so is everyone that we know.

Today I am doing better, I am trying to get enough sleep, eat healthy and take the medication I need to help in that process. I have not so good days, but they are nothing compared to the dark days a year ago. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for the good care I have received from medical professionals, from my therapist, from family and friends, and most of all from the dear one. I am one of the lucky ones, I didn’t slip through any cracks and got the help I needed. My hope and prayer is that others can be taken care of in the same way.

Let’s all be the light for each other and when we can’t let others be that light for us. To that end here are some pictures I have taken recently that capture the light. Enjoy.

 

 

P.S. I promised way back at the beginning of the year, that I would try to do two posts a month, here’s hoping that this month is better than the last one.

My 2016 Advent Calendar

So here we go my whole Advent Calendar. I promised I would make it through the whole of Advent Word with a blog posting for each image and I did it. Thank you for reading and looking at my pictures. I am so blessed and grateful to have been able to do this for myself and for you my dear readers.

Merry Christmas to you all! Light some candles! Sing some songs! Eat lots of good food! Laugh loudly and often! Hug as many people as you can! Bless you all!

#AdventWord #Celebrate

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#AdventWord #Celebrate

There we go – we made it through Advent! Tonight there will be Christmas Eve worship and tomorrow morning will have worship as well and then as the dear one says ‘Let the feasting begin!’.

We have had some fresh snow here in central Alberta and I was thinking about today’s Advent word – celebrate. It struck me that I haven’t made a snow angel in years, so this morning I did. I came home from some errands and tasted the snow flakes on my tongue and then got down on my back and made a snow angel. I came inside with snowy jeans and felt wonderful! Such a little thing but it made me feel so good.

Here’s to celebrating the coming of God in the person of Jesus to this wonderful, sense filled world! I am going to enjoy each taste, each smell, each touch, each sight, each sound with as much delight as I can muster – for this is good news that God came into the world! Celebrate!

 

#AdventWord #Live

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#AdventWord #Live

I woke up this morning to find this beauty blooming in our kitchen nook! What a lovely Advent surprise. I love my houseplants but I especially love those that bloom.

Today’s Advent word is live – I looked at my plant and thought look how much it is living! It is just blooming, because it can and it is showing off its glorious colours, because it can. How wonderful is that. It is like a ray of deep sunset in my kitchen window and who doesn’t want some colour like that in this time of short days and long nights (at least here in the northern hemisphere). I am so grateful to have this bit of God’s creation living in my house.

To live into the incarnation is to live into God’s light and love. It is to live as full of colour and grace and joy as it is possible for you to live. To live like my blooming plant and just show off our God given gifts for the benefit of the rest of the world.

When I am happy about something I get a huge grin on my face and start bouncing up and down on my feet. The dear one loves it when I get like that. It means that things are going well in my world and therefore his world. I’d love to say that I live like that all the time, I don’t, but I am trying to hang onto those moments and remember them for other times.

Jesus said I came to give life and to give it abundantly. Here’s to more abundant, colourful, showy, gift filled life!

#AdventWord #Animate

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#AdventWord #Animate

Last night a small group of us gathered in the church that I go to. We gathered to recognize the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. We gathered to bring our longings and our griefs and place them before our loving God. We gathered to hear scripture and poetry. We gathered to pray.

Today’s Advent Word is animate and that is what we did, we animated our prayers, our griefs, our longings by writing them on stars and hanging them on the little Christmas tree. As I was sitting there thinking about what I wanted to write I was overwhelmed. I wrote on three stars – my cancer, my depression, how lonely I feel, living with constant pain and learning to manage it, how I am missing my children and won’t get to see them until early January – it all came pouring out of me. I left it there on the tree. I walked out of the church and felt lighter than I had in a long time.

To animate our hopes, prayers, longings, griefs – to write them out, to hang them on the tree, to hand them over to God – was life giving for me and I think it was for the others who were present last night. We can then make our lives full of God’s light and love and be ready to animate our faith with hope. My faith includes my struggles, my longings, my griefs as well as my hopes, my dreams, my loves, my joys. Thank you Advent for reminding me of all this.

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#AdventWord #Abide

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#AdventWord #Abide

I wake up in the dark at this time of the year – it can be rather gloomy and then we get a sunrise like the one that I captured today. It was amazing. Pinks and yellows streaking across the sky. I actually stepped outside in my pj’s to capture the moment. I stood there quite awestruck by the beauty and glory.

I realized I was abiding in the light of God and the love of God. It felt like such a moment of grace and truth.

I had a rough day yesterday – not surprising as my invisible, chronic illness, otherwise known as rheumatoid arthritis, has been acting up – so this morning’s sunrise was a lovely, gentle reminder that through everything I am held up in God’s love. That I need to remember that even when I am having a rough day. That sunrise has stayed with me all day and I have been aware of being held up and loved.

I am going to hold onto that as we walk into Christmas week and celebrate the coming of God’s incarnate love and light in the person of Jesus. I will abide.

#AdventWord #Prune

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#AdventWord #Prune

This is my favourite rose bush. It has beautiful red, double blooms on it. It blooms from June right through to the end of September. The rose is called Emily Carr from a series called the Canadian Artist. It is hardy for where we live, which is a great thing.

In the spring we will have to prune as this rose only blooms on new growth. For now we are letting it rest. You can tell from the picture that it is winter here in central Alberta. You prune when it is the right season for the plant.

We all need pruning from time to time. To take out the dead areas, the sick areas. those parts of our life that are not blooming the way they should. It’s hard being pruned. You don’t really want to let go of any part of yourself. The good news for me is that God prunes when we most need it, when it is the right season for us. We may not always see it that way to begin with, we may protest that the part of our life that is being pruned is really needed. It is only in hindsight that we see that we have become a better person because of that pruning.

For the moment I think I am in the resting stage, just like my lovely rose bush, resting and waiting. Those who know me well know that there has been a lot of pruning over the last few years. Mostly I’m thankful, some of it I am still trying to process. I am trusting that the pruning I have gone through will allow me to bloom in new and delightful ways.

#AdventWord #Simplify

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#AdventWord #Simplify

Yesterday and for a lot of days I did some cooking to get ready for Christmas. I lot of the cooking and baking I do is to give away as gifts for family and for friends. The picture above is of me stirring some maple fudge.

I started doing this a number of years ago as a way to simplify our gift giving. We have never had a lot of money but I have always loved to bake and cook for others, so I came up with the idea of making homemade goodies for family, friends and parish leaders. It has been and is a way of honouring the relationships and working with our budget.

By simplifying our gift giving we have been able to be generous to others without it costing a crazy amount of money – just my time, which has been fine with me. I think of this gift giving as counter-cultural because it goes against the spend, spend, spend philosophy that is behind much of gift giving.

Simplifying is to make room for other things. Things like prayer, generosity, time. Each Advent I work on that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Here’s to more of the simple gifts in life.

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