Thursday, February 13, 2014

Paradigm Shifts: Uncomfortable! But Good!

Do you remember when you were writing term papers in college? Remember doing all that research and then sitting there wondering how all this information would become an actual paper that would get you a good grade? You may remember sitting there feeling the discomfort and frustration, not knowing what precisely would be your thesis or what your outline was.Then all of a sudden it would all fall into place…boom, boom, boom! In the end, you’d have a great paper to hand in.
Changing paradigms, changing your irrational beliefs to more rational ones, changing an outdated belief to a new one is the same. It feels uncomfortable for awhile. For a period of time it feels like you don’t know what direction you’re going in. You don’t know how it will all come together. You may feel tempted to abandon it. 

But wait. Sit with the discomfort for just a little while. It will all fall into place as you stay with it…as you try to absorb this new knowledge. 

Let’s say, for example, that you’ve bought into the world view that sex is harmless fun. You’ve always believed that as long as you enjoy it and the other person enjoys it, it’s all good! No harm. No foul. 

All of a sudden someone presents you with a different worldview.

They tell you that sex is sacred.

As they explain what they believe, and why they believe it, your thoughts begin to swirl. Something inside you resonates with what they’ve said. But it feels uncomfortable. It goes against what most of society tells you. 

You do some research. You study the Bible. You look at Scriptures. You ask the opinion of a few people that your respect. You may hear about someone who is attending the Valiant Man studies . You may look at books such as “Risking Intimacy.”  and "The Mystery of Marriage"

Wow, your head is spinning!!

This is all new. 

This is not the way you’ve thought about sex for most of your life. 

What to do! What to do? It feels uncomfortable. It feels like this belief that goes against the current won’t come together in your mind, in your heart.

You stay with the discomfort for a little while. You let this new information gel in your mind. 

It’s a paradigm change. 

It feels confusing. 
Then, BOOM! Similar to when you were doing a term paper, all of a sudden it all falls into place. Your mind is opened to a new way of thinking! You see it clearly and now you can’t see how you didn’t see it before!! 

That’s how it is with a paradigm shift. Be prepared to sit with the discomfort as the old belief is released and the new belief takes shape!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Teapots and Broken Hearts

(not my photo)

She was in a meeting at a little white country church. It was the kind of meeting where people stood up to speak out a ‘word’ that they felt God was impressing on them for someone present. Usually someone in the group would accept it as being for them. They may share what they feel God is saying to them and why it relates to them. Or they may just receive it with thanks.

At one point someone said they got a picture of a broken heart. Considering the conversations that she’d been having with God as of late she knew it was a word for her but her pride wouldn’t allow her to speak up. She said nothing. And the group carried on. 

She needed to know though why God had shown this person her broken heart. So she emailed them. The return email said that not only had they been given a picture of a jagged broken heart, they’d received another picture along with it. 

This person had been shown a teapot.

 It had been broken a couple of times before and put back together. But this time the teapot shattered so badly that it couldn’t be put back together. 

(not my photo)
 This picture resonated with her immediately because that’s exactly how she felt. But she felt angry. ‘Why God?  Why did you show this person that for me? I already know that! I know that this time I’m so shattered that I feel like I can’t do much about it!! What kind of word is that for me? It tells me nothing! I still don’t know what to do!” 

It was true. Situations in her past had caused brokenness before. But she was outgoing, she was gregarious, she made friends easily, she was gifted in ways that allowed her to easily reestablish herself. She could shake it off pretty easily and start again elsewhere. She put herself and her life back together. 

But this time, this time she didn’t feel that she had anything left. She just couldn’t do it anymore. She was too shattered. Empty. There was nothing she could do... 

Now she couldn’t shake the visual of the teapot. As she battled with God about why He’d shown this person that picture for her with no answer as to what she should do, she began to realize that this was exactly the point. There was nothing SHE could do. 

She had to surrender. 

Finally she came to see that this was a good place to be, this place of complete surrender. She had to rely completely on God to do the work. It may be impossible for her but He could work miracles. Nothing was impossible for Him. 

(not my photo)
Over the next few weeks, months, 

as the various shattered areas of her life came to mind, 

she picked them up in her hands and 

she held them up to God. 

She gave the pieces to Him. 

She didn’t have a clue about how He was going to fix the teapot. 

Was He going to restore it to its original state? 

Would He aggrandize the broken and cracked areas? 

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”    Barbara Bloom

Or might He make a mosaic of the broken pieces perhaps in the form of a stepping stone? 

She had no idea. 

But she was beginning to feel her heart restored with each piece that she lifted  up to Him…one by one…trusting that He knew best what to do with them. She became willing to wait to see what He would do. 

She started to feel some excitement and curiosity. She began to sing again. She began to feel alive.  
Today she still doesn’t know exactly what He will do with those pieces but she knows that this is where they should have been all along. Had they been in His hands the first few times of being broken they wouldn’t have shattered so easily again this time. 

It has taken a long time for her to get to this place but she can finally relax. She doesn’t have to work so hard to put the pieces back together. She knows now in her heart of hearts what she’s always believed in her head. 

It’s in His hands.  He knows what He wants to make of her. He knows how she can best be used for His glory. 

Still in awe of how God used one visual of a teapot to bring all this about, she now can rest and wait as the pieces are restored 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Blogging Friendships

About ten years ago a friend of mine who met her husband via a Christian dating site kept encouraging me to join one as well. Eventually I joined a couple of Christian sites. Unlike her, I didn’t end up walking down the aisle. I did have some great experiences on one of the sites though. 

Before I tell you about those good times, let me tell you about a couple of the men I met.

One was a sociology professor with whom I had many things in common. Although he didn't say it outright, in his follow up email after our date it became apparent that this was all a sociological experiment for him. Ouch! 

Another had put on his profile that he was divorced but as we were walking along the river trail I realize from something he said that he was still married.  When I called him on it his explanation was that spiritually he ‘feels’ divorced. Uh huh! 

A third man I had a nice evening with when I went over to Vancouver Island for a weekend to visit a friend. After a dinner that he cooked in his home we went to a theatre production where he promptly fell asleep.. To his credit he was raising his sons on his own so his schedule was full. 

So the dating part of it didn’t work out for me the way it did for my friend. But one of the sites that I joined had a free blog. This blog and the people in it became my source of entertainment and support while I was living in Mexico from 2005 to 2007. 

We had hilarious fun at points. 

As anyone who has been on a dating site knows there are scammers and bogus profiles. There are also those that post pictures of themselves that are from younger years. 

One day we arbitrarily decided that everyone needed to prove they were real and current by posting a photo of themselves holding a banana and a toothbrush. I didn’t have a banana on hand. Being in Mexico at the time I did have a tortilla…and a toothbrush.  

We had virtual parties. One person would invite us to their blog for perhaps a BBQ and the thread that followed would be filled with what everyone was bringing, what we were going to do, and so on. Telling you about it doesn’t sound nearly as fun as it actually was but believe me, hilarity ensued.
 I really think we should all have collaborated on a work of fiction because we did so well in helping each other build on these stories. 

 Many of us also posted our testimonies, sharing what God has done in our lives. We were there for each other in prayer support. When others in my life were not so accessible my blog friends were there daily when I needed them. 

There was the usual conflict and some who wouldn’t play nice.  But by and large it was a group of fun supportive people.

I’ve met a number of my blogging friends in person. Some in Arizona, a few in Michigan, a woman in Toronto, another person in Winnipeg. Then last year in New Jersey when another blogging friend from Seattle and I went on a trip to NYC.  In each case my online perception from observing them in the blogging world was accurate. We truly felt like friends.

It’s been a long time since I was at this blog. Most of the people I knew there have moved on as well. But the connections made with many of them are lasting. Without that community I don't think I would have survived the loneliness of adjusting to a new country.  I will be forever grateful for those online friends.

Monday, February 3, 2014

It's Part of the Shaping and Re-Shaping.

Maybe I’ve read one too many fairy tales. Or perhaps I’ve seen too many chick flicks.

I’ve always pushed to get to the happy ending, to the sure thing. I dislike waiting for things in my life to resolve themselves. I feel uncomfortable sitting in the messiness of it. 

Sometimes I can make a decision too quickly because I hate sitting in the tension of the unknown.

During my late 20’s I first realized that I did this with men. 

At that time I was reading one of the Venus and Mars books. I presume it must have been John Gray’s book on dating since it was about ‘the stages of dating’.  The author says that because of our discomfort with this, we often jump past this uncertain stage, this getting-to-know-if-you’re-the-right-one-for-me stage. We quickly jump straight to the commitment stage, sometimes even into the living together stage. Then we come face to face with the uncertainty that we tried so hard to avoid but by this point it’s awkward to move backward. 

Yup, that rang true for me! 

Then a few years later, in a writing class, I noticed that I would write about something deep in a powerful way, starting strong, but then I’d rush to a neat and tidy ‘happily ever after’ ending. The instructor kindly challenged me on this. The reality is that many stories aren’t tied up with a neat little bow in the end. Even in my writing, I need to be able to stay in the uncertain stage for as long as it take. But I have to confess that while I’ve matured in this I’ve not overcome it.  I still hate sitting in the messy part. 

I thought about this today as I was realizing that I’ve been doing the exact same thing with an opportunity that’s come my way unexpectedly. As I was speaking with friends this past week I pretty much convinced myself to stay with the tried and true.  




Thankfully as a Christian I have the prodding of the Holy Spirit and I have some good friends who are giving me feedback so I was not getting internal peace about this decision AT All. 

Once I saw this I took a step back. Now I’m again sitting with the tension. I’m choosing to wait out the process but this time I’m a little more at peace with it. Still not really liking it, but more at peace, knowing that this is what I need to do. 

For awhile now I’ve been seeing the title of a book on this exact topic: ‘The In-Between’ authored by Jeff Goins, a writer whose blog I’ve been following for a couple of years.  

He says: 

“Moments of breakthrough are not where life’s greatest transformation happens; the stuff that God uses to shape us often lies in the in-between. It’s the bus stops and layovers and DMV lines and moments of unintentional pause that force us to become better people.

That’s not to say there aren’t moments of epiphany. There are. It’s just that most of us find ourselves living somewhere in the in-between.

Learning to live in this tension, to be content in these moments of waiting, may be our greatest struggle — and our greatest opportunity to grow. “

Whatever the outcome will be in this situation, I’m being shaped!

(not my photo)

Wow! I thought I had a neat and tidy ending to this writing but I just this moment realized that this ties in to something God has been teaching me and a writing that’s been in process for almost a year. 

THIS! RIGHT NOW!  Is part of the shaping and re-shaping. I’m in the potters hand.

No tidy ending…just continuing to learn…and continuing to surrender my agenda…to Him...and to His agenda.

(not my photo)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

God and Jungle Book

He walked into my life shortly after I moved back to British Columbia, Canada. 

Two and a half years prior, when I was giving away most of my things in preparation for the move down to northern Mexico, I kept singing my paraphrased version of The Jungle Book song: 

‘I’ve got the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, 
Forget about your worries and your strife…” 

It comforted and encouraged me to sing this song at this point. It reminded me that my God has promised to supply all my needs.

Now here I was back in Canada because of unforeseen circumstances. Each item that I’d given away I needed to replace. 

Almost miraculously I was  presented with everything that I needed from others who were downsizing or buying new items so they had no need of the old. The only thing that I purchased new at that point was my queen sized bed. 

“I’ve got the bare necessities…” I had the basics. I was settling in. 

Then he appeared at my doorstep.

He was big. He was black. He was beautiful.
He’d been abandoned by the previous resident of my new home. 

He came to me at 22 pounds with the name of Bagheera, which  is the name of the fictional black panther character from Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’. 

 The Jungle Book theme revived. 

 It felt like a message from God, a symbol, reminding me of how He had provided when I moved and that He would continue to provide.
My Bagheera, was huge and sleek like a panther, but he was a cat. I had been in the process of looking for a dog and would never have chosen a black cat for myself. But he was the perfect one for me. 

 Because of the unforeseen circumstances in my life, I’d had no income for just over a year. This meant that I could not afford to take him for his shots or to have him neutered. His previous owner had not done this for him. 

A wonderful woman from a local Animal Haven chose to do it all for me for naught. She not only had him neutered and shots given, she gave me a litter box, a whole bag of litter as well as  food. Then she even came back for his follow up shots a few months later. 

“I’ve got the bare necessities…” I love how God provided even for my new roommate.

A couple of my friends lost their cats this past year at ages 16 and 17 so I thought I had many more years with him since he was only 8.

 Suddenly a month before Christmas I had to make the choice to have him put down because he was going into kidney failure. It was a difficult choice to make but it was the best one for him.

Bagheera came to me at just the right time when I was adjusting to being back in Canada.  He was good company for me and he was often a comfort to my in home clients. 

 I miss his presence in my home. I miss his competing with my laptop for my lap. I miss his galloping down the hall to make sure he catches the open door as I leave. I miss his watching my every move.  I miss him. 

But “I’ve got the bare necessities…”  I’m thankful for the years that I did have him and for the constant reminder he was of God's provision.