What to say!  I’ve had a few posts sitting in the draft bin for awhile now.  Reading through them I realize I couldn’t even seem to complete them with partially coherent thoughts.  I’d type a sentence and then stare at the screen, “thinking” for a bit, delete the sentence, retype it and stare at the screen.  It’s a bit of a vicious cycle and perhaps a little what writer’s block may look like.  I would never be able to write a book.  I’d get stuck eventually and the grand dreams of being published would be crushed:)  However, it’s weird how coming back to them much later doesn’t change the truth of them.

In a previous post, I mentioned a variety of life changes that have occured in the last year.  One of them was hitting 40!  Thankfully, I have a wonderful group of friends that celebrates the milestones together and my significant birthday was no different.  We have some fond memories of our “fancy digs”, aptly named for the less than desireable location and overall beauty of the accommodations that were much more appealing in a picture on the rental site than in person.  However, we made the best of it and laughed, cried, argued and made up all while listening to the stomping of our upstairs neighbours and promises that I would never again be responsible for booking our accomodations!

However, the months that followed that celebration left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by the quagmire of the dreaded “middle-age”!  Okay, that sounds ominous and terrible but honestly that was really what I was feeling.  A constant pit in my stomach, tears at the drop of a hat, perhaps not unusual for me but this felt different somehow.  Actually just constant anxiety was filling my days, something I had never experienced before in my life but was clearly struggling with.   I was concerned about finances as we managed James being self-employed and for Sam managing to find the financial means for his first year of university.  Add to the mix some incredibly deep shifts in my spiritual journey.  Questions, conversations, contemplations, readings, podcasts, etc. that left me reeling a bit about what I had grown up with, raised to believe, raised my children in and framed my entire being around, my mental capacity was filled beyond what it could handle.  I saw my doctor knowing that how I was processing was not particularly healthy but not sure how to get things back into balance.  She asked me to do some counselling before we talked about anything else.  I was not surprised and TO BE CLEAR, I am a HUGE proponent of professional counselling.  Three of my four children have been to a counsellor, one whom sees her “therapist” regularly and I have seen it work wonders for many people.  However, that didn’t stop me from feeling apprehensive and nervous.  I can not really pinpoint why I felt this way except that it meant that I had to admit that I was not managing well and managing well is my specialty.  Having said all that, I took my doctor’s advice and saw a professional.  She is amazing, I felt heard, she validated my anxiety, she gave me a number of suggestions and I went home to use them.  They worked for awhile and then they really didn’t.  I think there were two things that made me realize I needed something more than counselling.  The first was lying in bed every night not being able to sleep and usually waking up in tears and the second was calling my best friend and crying on her shoulder over the same issues again and again.  I realized I needed to put some things on the back burner so I could manage the practicality of life.  I had to take stock of what was most important and in this particular time I needed to focus on getting my anxiety around finances in check and focus solely on my kids and work.  I set aside my spiritual quest, understanding I would need to come to it when I was in a more healthy mindset.

Heading back to my doctor was humbling.  I felt defeated as I told her that I was not coping well with life.  She is also a great physician, she’s not particularly warm but extremely professional and matter-of-fact.  She explained to me that sometimes a chemical imbalance is created when a person is under a significant amount of stress for a long period of time.  I was relieved to be understood and to have a solution.  It’s been a few months and it’s taken some processing to work through the need for medical intervention, I can feel the difference it’s made to be taking something to balance out the chemicals that were not in-balance in the first place.  I am also a huge advocate of medication, when necessary, but it’s hard to feel complete and comfortable when it’s your own body betraying you.

Fast forward to now and things are manageable once again, life is back in balance with a few tweaks to make it just right.  As I have begun to manage the practical parts of my life, marriage, work, kids, etc. I feel some freedom to delve back into the area that I’ve put on the back burner for a bit.  There continues to be some deep contemplation and absolutely beautiful conversations with people who are also experiencing some deep shifts in their understanding of self and faith.  I’ve been reminded several times over the last weeks of how easy it is to put our best foot forward, when we present ourselves on social media.  It’s also easy to stop short of asking some pretty big questions and opening some uncomfortable conversations.  As I re-enter the world of writing and sharing online I really do not want to do that anymore.  I want to step into the uncomfortable, engage in some deep questioning and discuss the conversations that some might try to bury.  Perhaps that’s a bit of a reason for the write, delete, write, delete cycle that has plagued me.

I want to be authentic and allow my experiences to be useful and honest for myself and those around me.  I want to engage purposefully, carefully and bravely and help others who are similarly questioning to have a place to begin to process.  I hope for a safe place to process the changes that have happened as I’ve entered this stage of life.  Over the next bit I want to unpack some of my spiritual journey in order to encourage others to journey through it as well.  My eyes have been opened to realize just how many people are on this journey but feel stifled and uncertain as they deconstruct their belief system. 

Should Girls Be Highly Educated“…There are rarely things that get me super heated I feel the need to respond with such tenacity but this was the title of a blog post I came across on Facebook today and felt physically ill as I read it.  Perhaps in reading her commentary I misinterpreted her points but honestly being in the place I’m in at the moment, it felt like a punch in the gut.  I will NEVER underestimate the value of the time I’ve had at home with my children as a mother.  I know being able to stay at home with my babies was a blessing many mothers are not afforded for a variety of reasons and some by choice.  What I found so hard to swallow was the mindset this viewpoint portrays.  Being thinly veiled as a “biblical” principle with a few select verses to support her argument I found it, quite frankly, incredibly arrogant to presume that the role for all women, of all time is to be keeper of the home, family and her husband.  Below are some of the snippets I found particularly “intriguing” and while I tried to be fair in grabbing things that may have provided equal evidence to her argument it all seemed equally distasteful…

“I’m always surprised to discover these questions typically come from college graduates; teachers, nurses, and others turned homemakers. They have exchanged their diploma for their MRS degree, believing (as I do) that the most important place for a mother is in the home. In the face of cultural opposition, they see the value of a homemaker and understand her importance in light of Scripture….

How many unhappy marriages, broken homes, miserable, desperate wives, and rebellious children will it take before we admit that intentionally preparing our daughter to be keepers of the home is not just “a nice idea,” but a necessary one?…

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Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”!  For those who do not believe in God or the bible and for those who are struggling in their faith right now those words probably feel like a slap-in-the-face.  I acknowledge that because as a believer who feels growth in my relationship with God I too feel like this passage is immensely hard to grasp.

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I’m not really sure how to put into words the thoughts in my head the last few days.  Many, MANY people have put their feelings, their heartache, their impressions, their solutions and beliefs into words through this amazing place we call “the web”.  Quite a few have been articulate, well thought out, beautiful, tributes to the lives lost just a few days ago.

At various moments throughout the last few days it has hit me.  Most of the time I feel silly at the threatening tears, recognizing that I didn’t know these precious little ones, their families, their classmates.  In no way at all does the tragedy of Friday’s events personally impact me.  BUT, the truth is as a mother, as a human being, it does…as the details of these little lives and the ones that survived are released I find myself pausing at random moments, struck with a heaviness of heart and a lump in my throat, pondering how difficult these next few weeks will be for those who are personally living this nightmare.  What I feel is the deep sorrow for the pain each mother has to endure.  The snuggles lost, the tender moments, the “I love you’s”, the day to day interactions that happen between a mother and her child that many times we take for granted, the sense they will always have that something is missing.

Just saying that word gives most of us that are parents a slight shudder. Well, those of us that are just entering that phase anyway…if you’re a seasoned parent, past the pre-teen stage perhaps you sigh with relief knowing you don’t have to repeat those years.

Honestly these were the years I was most looking forward to…getting to see my child being shaped into the person they will spend their life being! It sounds silly, I realize, but in all truthfulness that period of time holds some of the best memories I have of my growing up years and I long to provide that same type of experience for my children.

What I couldn’t have possibly accounted for is the change that our world has experienced and the impact it would have on my own child-rearing years. Namely the explosion of connectedness. I’m very slowly reading a book I picked up at the local bookstore a few weeks ago…”Tough Guys and Drama Queens”. The first chapter is dedicated to addressing what is so different in the culture today than in the early 20th century. One fact stood out to me beyond all other…

     “In the 1930s, written information doubled every thirty years. In the 1970s and 1980s, that amount
    of information doubled every eleven years. Today, codified information doubles every eleven hours.
    That means that you can end your workday being half as wise as you were when you woke up that

That’s insane, and in some ways makes our children smarter than us because they, more often than not, know how to access that information far quicker than the average parent.

How scary is that to have to navigate as a parent already feeling slightly inadequate. My mom has often said that she doesn’t envy our generation, having to raise children in the fast-pace, connected world that we live in.

In truth I feel even more honoured in a way, that I was entrusted with the four children I have during this period in history. Does it raise the standard in terms of being more involved as a parent? Absolutely! Recently James attended a seminar hosted by an RCMP officer that specializes in social media, the internet and youth. Although my husband is quite savvy when it comes to such things I suggested he go instead of myself as he would be more likely to understand half the jargon AND when it comes to implementing techniques in relation to the “inter-web” and other connected devices he would probably be better at it. He came home, first and foremost, with a deeper sense of assurance that we were actually doing a pretty good job introducing our children to these different ways of connecting with the world BUT also a greater sense of urgency to openly communicate with our children what they already knew, not because we’d shared it, but because they’d encountered it at school, with their friends, stumbled across it, etc. Also a pressing desire to engage in constant discussion in regards to how to navigate these waters cautiously and together.

One of the things I have valued as a parent is openness. It means addressing the issue even if it’s uncomfortable. It gives kids the opportunity to ask the questions of me, as a parent, rather than their friends who don’t have all the information or maybe none yet. An example of my most recent experience was the first discussion I had with Sam regarding certain aspects of sexuality. While we hadn’t purposely avoided it, in all honesty, it just hadn’t entered our realm of discussion. Having the opportunity to sit down and talk with him had been on my mind and he hadn’t asked any questions yet so I felt the need to broach the subject with him. At first it was awkward, I wasn’t sure where to start, he wasn’t really excited to share what he already knew, but once we began the discussion it led to some great dialogue and I felt better that he knew I was approachable even with topics he wasn’t quite sure about. It wasn’t a long, drawn out discussion but I think he walked away with some things to think about.

Being willing to be open doesn’t just involve discussions related to sexuality…it has to overflow into every aspect of life related to your child’s growing experiences. For us open discussion has been key in helping us delay the introduction of a cellphones or any other personal device of that sort. It hasn’t been because we wanted to isolate or shelter them but discussing with them our reasoning, our desire to see them become more responsible, to understand the reasons for having said devices and how they will be used in our home has allowed us the luxury of introducing in the timing we feel appropriate for our children rather than what their peers deem appropriate. It isn’t always easy and sometimes we’ve been perceived as the bad guys but in the end it hasn’t been a battle.
I think one of the main lessons I’m learning during this stage is that the more open, up front and honest you are with your pre-teen/teenager, the more likely you will be to have the privilege of walking with them through the tumultuous years that have the greatest impact on shaping their character and values for the rest of their life.

The title of this post feels a little like deja vu! I searched my blog to be sure and came up with nothing but in reality I think we can all relate to the fact that adversity shoves us to the ground on a pretty regular basis.

In all honesty I feel a bit manic writing this post as my last entry was about balance and last week I could have written an entry that may have been entitled something along the lines of joyfulness or excitement but this week has brought a certain level of adversity that I haven’t faced for a number of years.

I guess the reason I feel the need to write is the emotional outlet it allows to put in words the feelings that jumble my brain. The reality is that the adversity I feel has descended upon my little family over the last few days is nothing compared to what others face but to me, it does feel like an overwhelming storm cloud that just won’t let up. The question I ask myself, as do many others, I imagine, who face adversity is, “what do I do with this?”. How do I move beyond the black cloud, how do I get out from under it, how do I release the pit in my stomach?

As a believer my first line of defense really is crying out to God. This morning my prayer was that as He sent the angel before the Israelites into the lands of their enemies that He would also send His angels before our family as we navigate this trying time. I prayed that as I drove to work this morning and then I passed a little church on the corner that often has quirky, strange messages on their sign, it read, “Jesus will do it all for you”. For just a minute I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit fill me. My stomach was no longer clenched with worry, my mind felt clear. It didn’t last for long because my human nature is strong and stubborn but it gave me the hope I needed to engage the second line of defense.

That second line of defense will be something I will always value and cherish. The opportunity to send a vague but desperate message to a small group of trusted friends who I know will immediately be on their knees on my behalf. I recently read a book that talked about how when we’re in our darkest places and feel so far from God the prayers of those on our behalf will lift us up and God will hear those and bring restoration. I wouldn’t trade these women for anything and I am so thankful that God is a God of relationship.

The third line of defense (rightly or wrongly) was to open the bible and seek wisdom. I asked for God to give me a verse that could be lifeline for the time being. Now I’m not a real big believer in just letting the bible fall open so instead I like to open my concordance and see what I can find on a topic. I searched the word “adversity” and this is what I came across…

“In the day of prosperity be joyful, But in the day of adversity consider: Surely God has appointed the one as well as the other. So that man can find out nothing that will come after him.” Ecclesiastes 7:14.

That was exactly what I needed to hear. That God has indeed already gone before and has knowledge of what He is doing, even if the adversity itself is not of Him. The funny thing was that the response from one of my great friends was that what we face today, tomorrow, however long it lasts, is not a surprise to God. He knew long ago that this particular space in time would come.

The final line of defense, which is my second nature, is to talk. Again I am seeing how God answered my first prayer…to go before us…because as I pulled into the parking lot to start work another great friend was there for the morning to do some Christmas decorating and she has been in the exact position I find myself in. I was able to unload some of my worry and find solace and reassurance in her experiences. My tears could be spilled in a safe, comforting conversation and the love of God shone through her words of kindness, gentleness, encouragement and support.

I guess in sharing this I find a bit of healing. In rereading how God is giving hope I pray it not only manages to be a constant reminder to me of His power but to give others hope who may also be facing an adverse situation. We don’t all react the same but we know that God is the same and His power, mercy and grace remain constant when the world is in turmoil.

Thankfully my excitement for God’s word has become even greater and the freedom I am feeling is amazing. I love how in choosing a relationship over duties I feel a connection deeper than I’ve felt in a long time.

The thing that intrigues me the most is how in these times of communion with God life can still get pretty ugly around us and yet the peace that passes understanding can be so all encompassing that we really can take great steps forward. I have often wondered how people whom I consider very wise in the ways of the Lord can have such tragedy invade their lives on a regular basis? How does one really cope with that and keep it together, all the while rejoicing and praising God for his goodness? This week has brought a little glimpse of that into my life. Although it isn’t really tragedy but rather deep, personal struggles that a family member faces I feel God’s presence and peace in a way I’ve never felt before. I hear the words of scripture and see the faith of people through the centuries and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is alive and bursting when one of his children chooses life over and over!

I have kept reading daily with the rest of my congregation and everyday brings a new nugget of information from texts I have read numerous times in my life.

Matthew 5:28 “because she thought, ‘If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed’.”
How amazing to me that the mere touch of Jesus’ robe would bring healing that she had sought for a lifetime. What would be different in my life if I had faith that great.

Mark 26:13 “‘I tell you the truch, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.'” How many times have I heard the story of the woman who sacrificed a year’s wages to honor Jesus. Her story has been told for centuries and still is in memory of her!

Matthew 27:52 “The tombs broke open and the bodes of many holy people who had died were raised to life.” I have NEVER actually read this scripture before or at least not SEEN it with eyes open. How awesome must that have been?

Mark 6:51&52 “Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.” WHY??? How could these men who had given up everything for Jesus and seen him perform miracle after miracle have hardened hearts and still not understand who he was? Yet day after day I am surrounded by God’s miracles: my children, his creation, the love I still have for my husband after almost 11 years of marriage, a fully intact extended family who loves him wholeheartedly, and yet I often doubt how he will provide for some of our financial needs. Really how much do I need to see before I believe he is all-powerful?

What I love the most is that in all this I do feel his love, his disappointment in my lack of faith but forgiveness for the sinful nature that controls me. I hear his reassurance in the story of his miraculous birth and death on the cross for me and saving grace so that one day I may share with him a communion beyond this life!