the journey

Closing Time

I’m thinking of closing this blog. I had great aspirations of sharing my journey here and realized that I have another blog that also shares my journey. And a blog under my fiction pseudonym. And another blog I forget I even have that was more a private journal of thoughts and dreams. I’m overloaded and need to streamline.

I wanted to be a little anonymous here, so I could talk about family and dysfunction without worrying about family stumbling upon this space and disowning me for sharing the darker side. Part of me still wants that. At the same time if  Claire and I can get our acts together enough to actually write the book we’ve been discussing for the last year, all of this will be public anyway.

So I’m thinking of closing this blog and directing everyone to my other blog. My journey blog. The blog I’ve been writing in 2006. The place that feels more home than this blog ever has. I’ve paid for this domain for another year, so I have time to decide what to do with this little space.

If I move to my other blog and stop blogging here, will you join me? Will you make the leap to a different space?

Will you follow me there?

If you do, know that I will try to be as honest and open there as I have attempted to be here. I will talk about all the things I have talked about here. I will invite you in to my little corner of the world, have you sit in the comfy chair, serve you tea (or beverage of choice) and a gluten free muffin. We will converse together about the vagaries of life. We will share triumphs and losses. We will live and we will learn.

Will you join me? Will you come over to http://chasinginspiration.blogspot.com?

I hope you will. I’ll be looking for you.

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Knowing and Believing

For years God has been trying to get my attention regarding some specific weeds that are choking the life out of my spiritual garden. For years I’ve either dismissed Him or haven’t been listening for Him, and the weeds have been allowed to continue to grow and flourish. But God is full of second, third, tenth chances and this time I heard the message loud and clear. Maybe it’s because Claire and I spent some time last year doing some work that humbled me while at the same time preparing the ground. Maybe it’s because I’m not currently working and have nothing but time right now to talk with God. Maybe it’s also because God has a quirky sense of humor and decided to use a deceptively simple line of dialogue from one of my favorite fictional novels to drive His point home. Either way, as I was laying in bed rereading some of my favorite scenes, this line set off a clanging in my head complete with noisemakers and flashing lights.

Knowing isn’t always believing.

Deceptively simple, isn’t it? In the context of the story, the line is meant to point out that knowing something intellectually doesn’t equate believing it, of trusting it to be true. In the case of the book, the heroine knows she wasn’t responsible for the death of her fiancè, even believes it most of the time. She knows she doesn’t have to carry her burden alone, doesn’t need to protect her loved ones and friends from the trauma of her life, but her current actions point to knowledge with a lack of belief. Knowing without believing.

As I was reading this exchange, the proverbial light bulb when on in my head – I know many things about God, about His nature, about what He says He wants for us and His immense love for us. I know about the Holy Spirit, the Trinity. I KNOW and I fully believe this deep love of God, the relationship with the Holy Spirit, the redemptive love of Jesus…for other people. I only believe some of it for me. When I told Claire of my revelation, one I’m sure she had already deduced, she asked me one question that I’m still mulling. Do I know why I don’t have expectation?

What a good question. I’ve been sitting on that question for a long while and all I can think of is that deep down I’m not sure I’m worthy. And deeper down I’m afraid that all this goodness of God will be snatched away and I will be left broken and bleeding, alone and cold and that voice in my head that tells me that people like me, people from my family, good things just don’t happen for us, that this voice will be right. I’m not at the bottom of why I don’t have these expectations. There’s something else there, something that flirts with the edges of my conscious mind and disappears when I try to focus on it. The thing is, now I’m angry. I should be able to expect good things. God didn’t say He loved only some people. He loves the world. Every. Damn. One. Of. Us. Just look at the oft quoted verse that we all love for it’s validation that we are special to God but seem to forget when we interact with Him and with everyone else.

God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.John 3:16, Amplified Bible (AMP)

If this love is mine, why shouldn’t I have expectations of God? Why shouldn’t I want something different, something more from my life? Why should I simply know and not believe? Claire once told me that she holds God to His promises. She actively reminds Him of what He promised and let’s Him know in no uncertain terms that she EXPECTS Him to fulfill them. She may not know what that fulfillment looks like, but God promised and He must follow through.

I admire that in Claire. That chutzpah. I have stood before God and held Him to the promises He has made other people. I haven’t done that for myself. It never felt right before, but lately knowledge and belief have been merging. My husband and I spent a long weekend at a lake a few hours from our home. While he was out chopping firewood,  I stood at the water’s edge and I argued with God. At first, tentatively. Who was I to engage the Creator of the Universe in such an irreverent way? I’m His daughter, that’s who. And daughters argue with fathers, even while they love and adore them. My conversation became more intense. I reminded God of some of the promises He spoke to me. I told Him I didn’t see the outcome of these promises in my life. I demanded He remember these promises, the same way He remembered His promises to Israel. I have been trying to uphold my part, now I need to see Him uphold His. I expect Him to uphold His.

I don’t know what my future will look like. But I know, I believe it has to be better than it is now. I have an expectation.

I’m Having Trouble Trying To Sleep

It’s three a.m. and I’m wide awake.again. I have prayed. I have cleaned my kitchen. I have spent some time in the Bible. Lights have been on. Lights have been off. I crawled back into bed only to start waxing poetic about my husband’s snoring. So now I sit in the office, a cup of warm black current and cardamom rooibos tea at the ready, wondering what it is that is keeping me awake this time.

I have theories:

  1. Some say sleep can be hard to come by when your brain is over active. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things lately and maybe my brain is processing so much right now I can’t fall asleep.
  2. My grandmother has entered the process of dying and it is likely she will die within the month. I’m torn between going to Canada to be with my mom during this time and not knowing if my presence will be a help or a hindrance.
  3. On the topic of my grandmother’s imminent passing, there is some spiritual work I am in the process of doing and I’m not getting a clear “this must be finished before she dies” message from God. I worry that timing may be critical but at the same time, I worry that I may rush through the process. It’s my process regardless of whether she is dead or alive, right?
  4. God is revealing generational work that needs to be investigated and completed. I have paternal generational ties to one of Canada’s First Nations and I believe that there is something I will learn about God the Father through these ties that I could not learn any other way, there are also bondage ties that will need to be broken in order for me to fully move forward. There is so much going on right now that this has slipped to a back corner of my mind. Is my subconscious processing what I’ve learned so far? Is my spirit trying to tell me something?
  5. Maybe I’m awake because I should be using this time to do something. Like clean my kitchen or pick apart the office. Perhaps I feel guilty and think I should be doing more right now. Using my time differently. Though why these thoughts can’t come to me during the daylight hours, I don’t know.

These are the things I carry in the wee hours of the morning. That and did I remember to pay the bills or add critical items to my task list. Which I’ve already checked five times and yes, all critical tasks are accounted for.

When I look at the list, I see a lot of worries. A lot of fretting. Little peace. And I recall to mind a verse I memorized eons ago when I was in grade school.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.    ~ John 14:27

It was Passover and Jesus had just predicted his betrayal by Judas and Peter’s denial of him. Dark, heavy stuff. I can’t imagine how Jesus was feeling. He was about to allow himself to be killed through slow torture and watch hope be replaced by disbelief and grief as these same people witness the Messiah do the unbelievable and die.

And then Jesus turns around and says to them, “I know this is hard stuff to grasp and I know the shit is going to hit the fan, but I’m not leaving you high and dry. I’m not leaving you alone, without resources. Without hope. I give you eirḗnē, I give you peace. I give you wholeness. I release to you everything needed to be complete, something you cannot possibly attain through this world alone. And because I will release this to you, your heart, your inner self, your soul does not need to be agitated and stirred up. Neither do you need to live in fearful dread. It doesn’t end here.”

There is so much more to this passage in John and when I try to put myself in the shoes of the disciples who were dining with Jesus, I can’t imagine taking these words in. I would have stopped hearing at betrayal. I mean, shit, one of us is going to turn on our rabbi and messiah? That’s not right. This man is supposed to lead us into greater things. He’s supposed to save us.

I put myself as I am into these verses and I have to say, this is a lot to take in. I know Jesus was preparing for this his entire earthly life, but these men and women weren’t. And what Jesus was laying down, there was going to be a lot of mindsets blown to hell and back. Then later, to watch Jesus die and not know the end of the story – I can only imagine the shattered hope.

Jesus was true to his word. He released this peace into the world for us.

I feel like Thomas with my worry and my doubt, asking for proof. Worrying that I’m not hearing clearly, that I’m not focusing on what I should be right now. I forget that with this peace comes wholeness. I Forget that the three days spent in the depths of Hell and the resurrection meant Jesus completed the sacrifice that was needed for us to walk in grace. I forget that with this grace is a permission to move forward until God tells me to stop. That I don’t need permission to start – it’s already been given. That if I travel down a rabbit trail, the Holy Spirit will direct me back to the main road.

What is left of my tea is now cold and I feel the light buzzing in my head that signals sleep may be just around the corner. I may never pin down exactly what was keeping me awake tonight, but something good came out of it. I was reminded that if the timing of any of the things that are worrying me matters, God will let me know. And He likely won’t be subtle about it because He knows me. He’s not going to let me wander around in the weeds for too long before He guides me back to where I need to be. So I can just choose one thing from my list and continue on. In peace.

Of Plants and Personalities

I have am the caretaker of four plants: three orchids and one geranium. It surprises me that the orchids in my care have survived this long, especially the one that I’ve had for almost four years. They have thrived when other plants have given up the ghost and they continue to delight me with gifts of new growth and periodically, of those wonderful flowers orchids are known for. All they require of me is water, some humidity, a little food once a month, and that I pay attention to the amount of direct sunlight they get per day. Orchids, I have learned, far prefer indirect sunlight.

The geranium, she is another story. This particular plant was purchased on a whim when the neighbor boy down the street came door to door selling plants to earn money for his band trip. The plant arrived in full bloom, healthy and happy in an outdoor hanging basket. She was hung on our deck where she would receive the right amount of light and, when it rained, a lovely soaking of water. I deadheaded her over the summer months, watered her when the rain was stingy, and enjoyed the riot of pink and white flowers she offered me for my trouble.

When summer came to a close and Jack Frost started drawing on the roof tops and windows and icing the trees with hoarfrost it was time to make a decision about the geranium. I could let her die, as I have for so many other annuals in the past. Or, I could bring her inside and nurture her through the winter. My husband convinced me to take door number two and I have been caring for this finicky plant ever since.

People are as diverse as plants. Perhaps even more so. In these last few months as I’ve had time to reflect and ponder (not always a good thing, let me tell you), I’ve learned a thing or two. Or perhaps it’s not that I’ve learned them, it’s that I’ve remembered them.

I have a dear friend who I love like a sister. I admire the hell out of her, I really do. She is tenacious and stubborn and sensitive and insightful and compassionate and seeks to understand. She is a warrior when it comes to her children and her marriage. She is not only willing to walk the hard road if it is the better path in the long run, she walks that path with her head high and thinks nothing of reminding God of what He has promised her.  She is beautiful inside and out and one of the strongest women I know.

It is her tenacity I have been observing in the last few months, her unwillingness to succumb to melancholy or self pity. Her drive to resolve and/or fix and issue. She is always pushing forward, always creating momentum. In this way, she is much like my husband. He’s a fixer. There is an issue, he has this internal drive to fix it. He’s not as gentle about it as my friend is, especially when the issue that has been observed is something I need to seriously address.

And this is where I differ from both of them. Yes, I want to resolve things as well, but I don’t have that strong internal drive to be tenacious. Or if I do, it’s on vacation and has been so for some time. I admire that drive while at the same time feel exhausted thinking about the energy and focus needed to stay the course. Next to my dear friend (and my husband) I feel like a sloth. I don’t attack issues. I come up to them as though they are a skittish horse, slowly and almost as though I’m not paying attention to it. I know it’s there, oh I’m constantly aware it’s there, but I tend to wind my way toward the issue, stepping toward it, acknowledging it, then stepping away to ponder what I learned in that encounter. I don’t have that singular focus, and have wondered for years if I have some form of ADD. It’s not that I’m distractible, though I am. It’s more that I need to give my subconscious time to work out parts of the issue without my conscious self getting in the way.

It seems to take forever for there to be progress when I look at myself and compare that to my friend’s journey. Sigh. I said it. Compare. I so admire my friend and her approach to life that when I look at my own I feel like something is wanting. I cry tears of frustration when I ask God why it seems to take so long for me to get to a new level of relationship with Him, why insights that appear to come to others so quickly take me forever to obtain. Why I hear Him tell me to rest when what I really want is to stop going around and around the same issue time and time again.

What has this to do with my orchids and my geranium? In addition to plants be so varied and different, with different needs and different optimal growing conditions, plants also accept what they are. My geranium doesn’t appear to want to be an orchid. My orchids seem genuinely pleased to be what they are and as long as I provide them with the right amounts of light, water, humidity and plant food, they flourish. I had to learn new ways to care for my geranium. I’m still learning it’s idiosyncrasies and needs. And am learning to not despair when leaves yellow and die. For every leaf and ever stem I need to cut back, a proliferation of new leaves appear to grow to recover the space. I’m awed with the tenacity of my geranium. It wants to thrive despite my often inadequate care.

I am not my friend. Or my husband. They have their strengths and their journeys. I can admire them. I can learn from them. But I should not try to be them. Maybe that’s why God tells me to rest, so I can give myself a break from, well, me and my desire to be someone I’m not. What I can take away from my friend’s journey is that her relationship with God is authentic and a living thing. Maybe I’m never going to have her level of tenacity or her ability to create forward momentum. Maybe what I can learn from her is to be real with God and to expect and anticipate Him being real with me. Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions when I ask God why or why not. Maybe instead I should ask what now. What does He want to give me now. Who does He want to be for me so I can grow, so I can overcome. So I can be more the person He created me to be. Maybe, instead of striving to embody what I admire in my friend, I should find those things God has placed within me so I can admire His handiwork. Just like I admire the nuances and complexities He created within the plants in my care.

It’s Enough To Drive You Crazy If You Let It

I woke up this morning to the sound of my dog panting in my ear, urging me to get up and start my day. Which I did. If he’s not bothering the husband and resorting to me, that means he must go outside. NOW!

I sluggishly got out of bed, threw on a robe, and escorted the wee beastie to the door, where he promptly went outside and did his business. I let him back in and returned to the bedroom, ready to fall back into bed -and hopefully more blissful slumber – when I glanced at the clock. Holy Crap, it was 9:00am. I was so late for work! Why didn’t my husband wake me before he left for his job? Why didn’t my alarm go off? Where the gods conspiring against me?

I rushed to the shower, leaving a trail of pyjamas as I went, turned the water on full heat and let the inferno burn the cobwebs from my brain. Just as I was shampooing my hair it hit me.

I am no longer employed. All this rushing around was due to a habit honed through years of holding down a job. And as of last Friday, I no longer had a job. 

This is not a bad thing. I was not fired or downsized. I tendered my resignation because I was burned out and my health was now at risk. I needed to step away from the stress and the deadlines and the stress of other people in order to let my body reset. I am not Wonder Woman, and yet for the last year, I had been ignoring the signs and pushing myself to meet expectations and deadlines at work. And it finally caught up with me. 

So I’m on a self-funded sabbatical, if you will. For the next three to six months instead of focusing on my ‘career’ and working outside the home, I will be venturing forth on a journey of healing. Whole person healing. 

What does that mean? My husband asked that question. He understands that I need time and patience and perhaps medical therapies to wrangle my health issues under some semblance of control. And I’m laughing at the word control because believing I had everything under control is part of what got me into this situation in the first place. So not control, then. My body and I need to come to an understanding and in order to accomplish this I need the time and space to allow for healing to take place. I will have good days. I will have bad days. I will continue to push my body’s boundaries and my body will continue to push back. We’ve become strangers, my body and I, and this time is necessary for us to get to know each other anew. 

That’s only part of what I envision. I also want to spend time connecting with God in a deeper, more relational way. I want to work on some toxic thinking through the use of methodologies such as DBT and the 21 Day Brain Detox. I want to clean and declutter my living space so both my husband and myself can enjoy our home in a new way. I want to eat a healthier diet and find ways to move my body that I enjoy. I want to spend time in nature. I want to reconnect with my creative side and write start writing fiction again – only this time without fear and self-judgement. 

That’s a lot to ask of 3-6 months. I look at it this way – this time where I am not employed will give me the space and time to start and to gain momentum in these areas. Momentum I hope to carry with me when/if the time comes where I need to step back into the corporate world. This time will also give me space to explore possibilities. I’ve been closed off and blind to possibilities for so long, it’s strange to think that I have permission to explore them. 

This entire venture is strange to me, which is likely why at 9:00 am this morning, day three of my sabbatical, I had a freak out and starting furiously rushing around. It hasn’t completely settled within me that the expectations and pursuit of career are on hold for a time and my focus can be on, well, me.