Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the tag “love”

#AdventWord #Embrace

#AdventWord #Embrace

I took this photo a few weeks ago when the weather was just lovely outside, I felt really good that day. I’m wearing a lovely scarf that my daughter gave me for my birthday, it’s from Sri Lanka and have it pinned with a favourite reindeer pin. I love how content I am looking here. The word embrace usually inspires an image with a hug in it and that’s good but I want to write today about something more personal for me.

I am embracing who I am – an older woman, a woman who has lived with cancer, a woman, who lost her mother at too young an age, a woman who has lived with joy and sorrow, a woman who has things to share, a woman who is living into her own wisdom, a woman who loves well and openly. To embrace who I am is to love the person God has made me to be. A person committed to living a life of reconciliation, a person who embraces the unknown, a person who walks in this world with love and I hope gentleness.

I am embracing this next stage of life and am so grateful that I get to do so. How about you what are you embracing that is healthy and life giving for you and for others?

 

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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 #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!

 

 

#AdventWord #Surprise

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#AdventWord #Surprise

What a lovely surprise this morning to look in the mailbox and find a Christmas card from my eldest daughter and her husband! I mostly love surprises, especially the good ones, but there are those you would rather not have. Today’s surprise was definitely one of the good ones!

Our daughter and son in law live quite the distance from us and we won’t be celebrating Christmas with them until Epiphany weekend – but who doesn’t like a holiday stretching on and on! Our family learned a long time ago that it was necessary to be flexible around Christmas – the dear one being an Anglican priest and all. Our goal is to get together when it works best for everyone.

My daughter had told me that she was sending out Christmas cards but I didn’t actually expect one, because you know we are going to see each other soon. That was what made it so surprising to get the card in the mail this morning. I must say both the dear one & I feel quite loved and cared for by them. It is the best thing in the world to know your adult children love you and want to spend time with you.

This surprise brought with it lots of good thoughts and lots of love. I love Advent surprises and I’m sure there will be a few more yet before we get to Christmas Day.

#AdventWord #Hope

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#AdventWord #Hope

Like many I have been through my bleak times. I’m not going to list them here – some of you know what they are without me having to rehash them. They have been some of my deepest moments of despair. I truly didn’t know what was going to happen next. I still get them from time to time, I think however given my years I have a bit more perspective on them than I used to.

The world is seeming to be full of despair and bleak at this moment. A moment in our history when there seems to be great uncertainty and no space for creative solutions to the many problems we humans have created. Then I remember hope. God’s gift to us in the bleak and anxious times. God’s gift of a tiny baby – a tiny baby of hope.

I am going to hang onto and hang out with that hope because it is that which gives me life and allows me to live a life of love.

#AdventWord #Love

Today’s Advent Word is Love. What a complicated little word that is – it holds all that is good, right and just in the world, and often gets misused by those who haven’t been loved the way they should have been. I have been loved so well over my life. It is probably why I am generally described as an optimistic, outgoing person.

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#AdventWord #Love

Like others I need to find the time & places that will re-energize me, fill up my spoons, so that I can love as well I am being loved. In the spring and summer I do that by spending as much time as I can outside in our garden and on our deck. In the winter time that is a little more difficult. What I have done over the years is to grow indoor plants. The picture above shows about half of all my indoor plants. It takes a lot of watering cans to get all these wonders watered.

What happens when I water them is that I get renewed. I remember the good creation that we live in. I remember God’s loving care for everything, as the hymn says ‘All creatures big and small’ God loves them all. If God loves them all and loves me then it is my work as a Christian disciple to love right back. To love our broken, hurting world. To make beauty where I can, to grow beauty where I can, to show love to everyone that I meet.

I have a thing I do with those who are closest to me. When I finish a text or private message conversation with them I usually write – ‘Love you! Always!’. It means I will love them no matter what. It is the way that I feel God loves me and loves them. Love you! Always!

#AdventWord #Give

#AdventWord #Give

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer back at the beginning of June I had little idea of what to expect. I knew that I would have to have chemo and I knew that meant I would be off of work for awhile. That ‘awhile’ turned into 6 months. What I didn’t expect and what overwhelmed me at times was the gifts that I would be given. There was food, prayer blankets, scarves for my head, prayers, gift cards, teacups and tea, and did I say food!

Today’s Advent word is give and I immediately thought of all those gifts that have been given to me. They were given because of love, wanting to support the dear one and I, wanting to share joy and beauty with me. The dragonfly gifts were especially important as the dragonfly has become a symbol of the resurrection for me. Dragonflies have to go through a transformation from wriggly water loving larva to become the swooping through the air beauties we see in our gardens in the summertime. These gifts all make me realize how much I have been given and remind me to give as I am able of myself to others who need them. They also remind me of the greatest gift given to the world, Jesus.

Thank you to those who gave me the gifts, here’s to recovery, here’s to being able to share my gifts with others, here’s to waiting for the gift of the birth of Jesus once again.

Thanksgiving

As you know dear reader I have been going through chemo for ovarian cancer for the last 3 months. I had chemo session number 5 yesterday and it is now Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada and all of that got me to thinking about what I am thankful for. I decided that I would use a series of photos to share with you what I am grateful for this year.

Gratitude #1

Thanksgiving I am so grateful for our Canadian Health Care system. A system that does not see us paying crazy amounts of private health insurance, a system that moved into high gear when it was realized that I might have cancer and when my diagnosis came through got me into chemotherapy right away, a system that has trained such good people at all levels – from receptionists, to lab techs, to nurses, to my amazing doctors. So even though a lot of going through chemo can be quite crappy I am grateful for it because I know my life is going to be better once I get through it.

Gratitude #2

ThanksgivingMy dear one, my love, my husband, my dearest one. He has hung in through all of this journey called marriage with me – through our best times, through our worst times. We have been through sickness and health, better and worse, richer and poorer over the last almost 30 years and we still laugh, enjoy movies together, good food, travelling adventures, intellectual discussions, prayer time, snuggles, being with family and friends. My life is richer, stretched, and oh so much more delightful because of him. I give thanks everyday for him.

Gratitude #3

ThanksgivingThese four! My lovelies – my own adult children and the one who married into our family. I can’t imagine our lives without any of them now. They have brought me so much love that my heart often feels like it is overflowing. They love and care for each other in delightful ways, they enjoy each others company and they enjoy our company. We play board games, drink beer and wine, cook and eat good food, laugh together. They have been so supportive and there during this rough time. They make me so proud and I am so glad to call them family. They are the heart of my heart always.

Gratitude #4

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving This gratitude gets two photos, because unfortunately I don’t have a photo with the three us of together. The first photo is with my sister and the second one is with the sister of my heart. These two women are the ones who keep me going on days when nothing else will. They listen to me moan, vent, cry, laugh whenever I need them. They are always there. I am so grateful for that. I don’t see either of them often enough, because of distance, but they are always in my heart, prayers and thoughts and I know that it is the same for them. My life is richer because of them and I want to say publicly here thank you and love you both so much. Don’t cry now you two!

Gratitude #5

ThanksgivingThe dear one and i have had cats our whole married life. There have been 10 of them altogether, including these two. They have brought us laughter, comfort, grace and so much more. These two in particular have been my buddies through all of the last several months. They seem to know when I need an extra cuddle or just quiet lap time. I am so grateful for them and I know my/our life would be less without them.

Underlying all of these gratitudes is my faith. Faith that God lives in, through and acts through each of these gratitudes that I have named today. I have seen God’s grace be present in all of them sometimes when none of us were expecting that. I would be remiss not to give a honorary mention to all the church communities that I have been part of for over 40 years – they have fed me, strengthened me, encouraged me and given me some lifelong friendships. I wouldn’t be who I am without them. If you are part of one them still know that I give grateful thanks to our God for you all regularly.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian readers and to those of you who aren’t know that we here in Canada will be giving thanks that we all live in this world together!

Small Joys

It has been over two weeks since my surgery. I am recovering well. Sleeping better. less pain, a little more energy each day. Still I have cancer and that is going to be the next thing to be addressed after I heal from my surgery. My work right now is to get as healthy as I can, so that I can be ready for the next steps on this healing journey.

Part of the way that I am doing that is by enjoying the small things. The dear one got me up this morning, said let’s get dressed, grab coffees and some muffins and go for a drive. It had rained last night (which we desperately needed here), the sun was shining and everything is sparkling green. I said yes. A small joy, a time to be together, to not worry, to enjoy God’s creation.

Small Joys

Here are some of my recent small joys:

1. A good cup of tea in a new tea glass.

2. Rhubarb from our garden.

3. Visits from friends.

4. Getting back into my blue jeans!

5. Spending time sitting on the deck.

6. Finding new TV series to watch when my brain can’t do anything else.

7. Having enough energy to make good food with the dear one.

8. Feeling so loved and cared for by all the cards, prayers, support coming our way.

9. Watching things grow and bloom in our garden.

10. Seeing the dear one get excited about a new project in his workshop.

Yep, I am a cancer patient, but that is not all who I am. I am a woman who still feels deeply, cares much, laughs a lot, is faithful, who has amazing friends and family – that is who I really am. I am going to count the small joys each day and be grateful, because at the moment that is what I can do.

Small Victories

It has come to me in the last while after I posted One Woman’s Story that I need to have a phrase, a catch line if you will, to hang on to during this time of uncertainty about my health. It turns out that small victories is the phrase.

It means getting up, getting dressed, getting a few important things done in the day and then reminding myself that I have to take care of myself. That self-care can be different each day and probably will be everyday. The small victories of getting some stuff done each day is enough for now. I don’t have the energy or emotional strength to do more than that at the moment. I have learned in the last couple of weeks that has to be my small victory.

There have been moments, I mean moments, of sheer terror in the last week. Just overwhelming, oh my God, what is happening to me, why is this happening to me. There have also been moments of such anger, rage, that this is happening to me, that haven’t I had enough, hasn’t the dear one had enough. There have also been moments of joy, of belly gutting laughter with the dear one, of delight and so much love where for a moment we forget what is happening and can just be us.

Small Victories

I took this picture from our front door – the sun peaking through the fog. It said so much to me about what is going on. That my life is foggy right now, but the small victory is that the sun is peaking through, that light is getting through, that I am being upheld in prayer and good thoughts, that so much support is coming my/our way. A small victory for the morning.

Each day is bringing its small victories and it is those that I am going to remember and give thanks for those moments of grace, hope, love and faith. Each small victory is a tangible reminder that I am not alone in this, even when it most terribly feels like I am. That my family, my community of faith, my friends, my God are all with me through this and this is the biggest of my small victories.

What are the small victories you hang onto to make it through the crap that life throws at you?

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