Advent musings week 1
I sit in my office today after a year of trying to get it ready. It needed to be emptied of my son’s bedroom furniture, the walls & ceiling needed some renovation work. I found around my house or bought on marketplace 5 bookcases that needed to be fixed up and painted. I built a wall to enclose the bookcases at the closet. I built shelving in the closet. I hung a cool chandelier. I moved in all my office furniture and equipment. And yet its not complete. I still have to trim out the bookcases to finish the built in look. There are boxes of books still to be shelved. There are many items to be organized into the closet, there is wall art to be hung and more. And there are plants that have to come in and be placed strategically to get good light. It won’t feel right until its all finished. In the meantime, it feels chaotic. I feel unsettled when I sit down to write because there is so much around me that needs to be done still. And yet, I write.
I have to accept the incompleteness for now. I have to trust that the time to do the work will come and that it will all be well. I have to live in the chaos as if it is already done because my words can’t wait.
It is like that for us as believers. Christ is coming again. The redemption of the world is not really finished. But Jesus did say “it is finished” at the cross. Because we can live in the chaos of this world as if its already done. Because for our hearts it is. He has redeemed us and freed us from the death and chaos of this world. But we have to live into this knowledge. We struggle constantly to keep the chaos of the world at bay. To not let it harden our hearts or break our hearts to a point where we forget who’s in control. The chaos sometimes is overwhelming but its not the whole story. The light of the world has come and for those of us who know that, the work is finished. We have to stay focused on His light to keep the darkness from closing in on us. In fact, we have to be so focused on him that the light shines for others. I say ‘have to’ not because it’s a rule we should follow but the difference between life and death. The light of life or the death of our souls and others. This is why the great commandment is to love God and our neighbour. Its in loving God that we love our neighbour. Truly love your neighbour by giving the gift of Jesus which comes when they see Him radiating in you.
Take some time today to rest in the fact that you are redeemed and your life is eternally whole and in His hands. Put aside the chaos and just rest in Jesus. Set a timer if that’s what it takes to stay focused, but just ask Jesus to fill your heart with peace and be quiet and still and wait. Do this each day of advent and see how the world’s troubles affect you less as Christmas comes.
Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus. - II Corinthians 1:12-14
Even the Apostle Paul sometimes dealt with imposter syndrome. Often it came up because others were questioning his motives or his wisdom. In the passage above, he feels the need to confirm that he’s good with what he preaches and how he preaches it. He doesn’t try to convince his readers, he just says that he knows where he stands.
This is super helpful to me. I am a convincer. I want to make sure others know what I know and believe what I believe. Even to the point of hearing my own arguments in my head when I’m alone. But that is not what I am called to. I fully believe that the work I am doing is a calling and that the Holy Spirit leads me in it. But when I come up against opposition, I am often tempted to convince the opposer of my value or the value of my words. But I don’t need to. I am created by God and led by God to live in His love and grow His kingdom in my corner of the world. Even typing those words makes me calmer. And the opposer is responsible for what he believes and how he behaves. It is not my job to correct or convince. Conviction is the job of the Holy Spirit.
And let’s be real. A lot of what I perceive as opposition is built up in my mind and not really wholly intended by the person I feel threatened by. It has for sure happened that I’ve taken something someone has said and made a big thing about it in my head (I call this process spinning) by going over and over what they said and how I would have liked to respond. But of course I didn’t think of all these amazing responses in the moment, so I’m creating them later in imaginary land. When I have these imaginary conversations, it changes my perception of the person who hurt me, usually for the worst. But if I pray for them and the situation, it quietens the imaginary conversations, encourages a real conversation or frees me to let go of the situation entirely.
The real point here is not about the other person at all. Its about value. I don’t get my value from others. So I don’t need to be concerned about other’s perceptions of me. Whether I live into this truth or not relies solely on the depth of my relationship with Jesus. There is no amount of self-help or willful discipline that will give me this contentment. I need to be deeply moved by the love of Jesus for me. I won’t be convinced without spending time with Him.
Today, after reading about Paul’s conscientious conviction, I went for a walk and just rested in Jesus’ love. Sometimes prayer isn’t about talking, its about being quiet and letting Him love you.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever. – Psalm 23
I hope you find time to rest in Jesus too this weekend. I recommend diffusing lavender & lemon EOs for a fresh, calming blend while you pray.
Just a note about the current deals with Young Living that I mentioned in the last post. The Diffusers & Welcome Home Bundle are still available (while supplies last) and of course the gifts with purchase will expire on March 31.
The $10 product credit that Young Living gifted me to share with the first new purchaser this month is still available. We had a new purchaser already but she didn’t contact me first so I could transfer it to her account so she got $10 cash and I still have a product credit to share through the Young Living website. So if you’re going to be the one that wisely makes oils an essential part of your life, contact me first by replying to this email or texting me.
It's been a long time...
Hey friends, I’ve been unfaithful to you. I haven’t put much time, presence or energy into my blog or my essential oils sharing. I don’t say this to make you concerned for my well-being or offer assurances that its ok. Perhaps really I just hope to receive forgiveness in the form of giving me your time when you do hear from me. 😊
I’ve been working on figuring out how to show up here. I want to serve you, offer hope in our dark world and take you along on my adventures so that perhaps you too can be inspired to try something new that takes you just a bit out of your comfort zone. But determining which of my adventures are appropriate for public sharing is my struggle.
One adventure I’m currently on is one of fasting. Yes, I know many of us are fasting from something for Lent, but I’m actually fasting from food. I don’t know how long I will fast. I had been thinking last week that perhaps I would fast 2 days per week throughout Lent. However, I’m not sure what the motivation was for this except that we’re supposed to fast from something and I’m not happy with my recent weight gain. But that’s a terrible reason.
However, I began yesterday as a prompt from the Lord when I awoke in the morning. I had gone to sleep praying and woke up with the word “fast”, so I did. I haven’t been given the word “eat” yet, so I’m not. I know that sounds a little crazy, but I do believe that word will come, so I wait.
It hasn’t been too difficult yet. Making dinner was pretty tough, though. I make a menu plan ahead of time most weeks, so it seemed like the best idea was to stick to the schedule. Except yesterday’s offering was a favourite of mine so I seriously considered caving. I was also suffering from a pretty intense headache so the thought that eating might relieve it was part of the temptation. But as I was stirring the risotto, it occurred to me that I didn’t begin fasting because I don’t like food, so why would I end it because I do? It did occur to me that God would not love me less if I eat the risotto, but I wondered what will I gain if I don’t? I know for many of you, food isn’t as compelling but as my daughter says about me “You live to eat while others eat to live”.
I then tried to remember what Jesus said to the devil in the wilderness when he was tempted to turn the stone to bread. He very simply said, “It is written, man does not live on bread alone.” (Luke 4:4) He was quoting from Deuteronomy though, so I looked up the reference.
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands? He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land – a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs, gushing out into the valleys and hills” (Deuteronomy 8:2-7).
I have wandered in a (work) wilderness for 2½ years and I believe that God has a richer work life in store for me than I can even imagine. So I fast and wait, read and pray and write, and know that Jesus will sustain me.
I covet your prayers also if you have a moment or two for me. I’d love to hear if the season of Lent has created any new practices for you or if you’re fasting from something also. Next year I may have to think about fasting from shopping. I spent a few dollars yesterday on new pots for my plants that are outgrowing their current digs. I suppose its justified in caring for creation, right?
I’m also working on revamping my website and getting better tools for newsletters about oily offerings. In the meantime there are some great deals right now that I have to let you in on.
There is a smaller starter bundle available (until supplies last) which is a great option if the usual starter bundle price feels like a lot for you. It has an adorable diffuser included and 7 of the most popular oils in 5 ml bottles. A
5 ml bottle gets you about 85 drops so definitely enough to keep you going for a while.
I recommend if you get this bundle, to sign up right away for Essential Rewards and put Frankincense on your next month’s order since it doesn’t come with this bundle and is so widely used. I put it on my face every day and always on any blemishes anywhere on my body.
Alternatively, two of Young Living’s diffusers are on clearance so if you already have oils and need more rooms diffused, now is the time. These are 50% off and only until supplies last. I recommend the Desert Mist Diffuser for its appearance and more time and light options.
By the way, I have 2 product credits of $10 to give away to my first two new oily friends this month.
Also, placing an order this month is a great idea because the gift with purchase is Thieves products. The small spray is the first free gift which I use as sanitizer everywhere I go and spray on doorknobs and other frequent touch locations around my house. As your purchase amount increases, the gifts get better and bigger with Thieves Household Cleaner (THHC) and Thieves Foaming Hand Soap under the proverbial tree. I use THHC to clean everything in my house, even my cast iron pans as I found it takes anything sticky off without scrubbing (see my Lavender Adventures FB page for that story).
We all know this past year has been a challenge unlike any we’ve experienced before. I think its safe to say that no one has come through it without some mental anguish. If not for themselves, then for others.
For myself, Covid just extended what was already a lonely time of resetting myself. I had spent the previous 6 months meeting with God to figure out my past and my future. And then my future was put on hold by Covid. And I was isolated even more from people I loved.
My response to it all has largely been to hermit. Spend my time alone, in my house, getting things done, but also escaping reality through Netflix and Instagram.
As a result, my health issues were not improving, and I began to feel pretty numb again. (TV seems to have that affect on me.) But I wasn’t as alone as I thought.
The Lord was creating some opportunities that I didn’t expect or look for, to connect me with beauty again. First through renewed friendships and meeting for Bible study, then through exploring my creativity and recently He convicted me of the effect of Netflix, etc. and I gave up ‘mind-numbing entertainment’ for Lent. Which has freed some time.
In thinking about my health issues, I realized that I used to walk every day. I had been told 15 years ago that I would not feel well unless I did so and at that time, I took up walking either outside or on the treadmill (and watching TV) but since I had been working full time, walking became less of a priority and I’d nearly given it up altogether.
But spring helps with creating a desire to be outside again and so I’ve been walking again. I aim for at least 30 minutes a day and I’ve been letting friends know that I need walking buddies. So re-igniting some friendships that haven’t had enough attention the last year has been a great side benefit.
Frankly, I need people as much as I need exercise. I am an extrovert and connecting with others is great for my soul.
But the other benefit is that being out in creation is making me happier. The heather looks vibrant, the bulbs are blooming, the magnolias are starting to flower and I get to chat with my neighbours. All creation is waking up from this long year and reminding us to be outside. It awakens my soul and tells me that just as the Lord is faithful to give the flowers and trees what they need to thrive, so is he with me. I have what I need to get through each day and its tasks, and plenty to make it enjoyable besides.
I’m so good at putting my nose to the grindstone and missing these blessings. And letting my health deteriorate in the meantime. Sometimes I wonder if that’s why the Lord gives me/allows physical difficulties – so I’m required to slow down and look around.
How does God get your attention?
This may not be the cleanest subject I could blog about but I wanted to share with you all what Karl and I have been doing for the last 10 days. Get your minds out of the bedroom now - we’ve been doing the Master Cleanse.
I have been struggling for over a year with really low iron and none of the oral supplements I have tried seem to be absorbing into my system. I heard about the Master Cleanse protocol and thought that cleaning out my gut might just solve this absorption problem. I told Karl about it and he decided to support me the best way possible by joining me in doing it.
It began with eliminating all foods that don’t grow in the ground which for us took two days. We then had one day of just fruits & veggies and then one day of fruits and veggies blended. Then one day of just fresh squeezed orange juice (with a little maple syrup for energy). Then we began 10 days of fresh squeezed lemonade mixed with maple syrup and cayenne pepper and of course water. We allowed ourselves herbal tea (decaf) and also drank a senna tea each morning and night. Some mornings we replaced the senna tea with a litre of warm salt water.
The senna tea and salt water help with bowel movements since we’re not getting much fibre. But they definitely caused discomfort some days. I think the hardest part was feeling uncomfortable (disrupting our sleep), not knowing when we’d need to go and having that restrict our lives a little. Covid of course, meant we weren’t going out much, so it wasn’t that terrible.
When we read what others had to say about the cleanse, many participants felt that they didn’t miss food that much and gained good amounts of energy toward the end. This wasn’t the case for us, partly because we had kids cooking in the house, so the smell of cooking made the evenings a bit of a challenge. Karl thought he had a bit better energy; I didn’t notice much difference at all.
Today is day 10. We nearly gave up on day 8. We were missing the joy of sharing a variety of foods with each other and our family and were concerned about the ramp up back to eating normally. The orange juice day in the lead up was pretty hard for Karl. He didn’t accomplish much at work that day, so we thought it might be better for orange juice day on the way out (the process is reversed at the end) to be on Sunday. However, we woke up Sunday morning and changed our minds.
The whole process up to that point had been very much a physical exercise for us. But we realized that morning that we hadn’t been thinking about our cravings for food in a spiritual way at all. In the book, Take This Bread, by Sara Miles, the author quotes a theologian, Ed de la Torre who says “To starve after justice is to ache for it, like food”. It made us think that perhaps our North American society is so satiated by food and ‘stuff’ that we can’t at all relate to those who don’t have everything they want at their fingertips. Recognizing our hunger and not satisfying it immediately is a worthy exercise to consider the needs of others. Not just those who are hungry, but also those who are oppressed or have to fight for any kind of justice.
So I hope this cleanse will have long term effects on me. Not just physically, but also in how I think about the world and what it needs. And how just because I can’t do much today to bring justice to others doesn’t mean I can’t work toward helping others in some way.
Do I recommend the Master Cleanse? Absolutely. But I wouldn’t have been able to do it alone, so I do recommend getting at least one family member on board.
Learning to value structure
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1
Structure is a word I have a love-hate relationship with. Its always been my nature (and my joy) to rebel against other people’s structures. They make me feel claustrophobic and resentful. I’ve always been a ‘colour outside the lines’ kind of girl and feel very much that the Lord created me that way and I don’t have to apologize for it (except for the glee I feel when thwarting other people’s structure, I probably owe a few apologies for that).
The last eight years I spent with the structure of going to work every day. My day at work was mostly built by what landed on my desk or in my inbox. The times when those items were cleared off resulted in a sense of freedom for what important but not urgent items needed to be done – because it was completely up to me to decide what to tackle. But what gets priority often still came down to what had the earliest deadline. So although there was structure in that – in terms of deadlines and urgency – the randomness of what I would deal with from one day to the next still felt freeing to me. And most delightful was being interrupted by those who walked in the door and needed a listening ear, or wanted to offer me theirs. Being able to respond to that randomness was the best part of the job.
Because of the structure of being away at a job every day, even my home time was determined by urgency. For working women, there’s always much more to do in the house than there is time for, so if you’re like me, you just tackle what’s in front of you and hope nothing gets left undone too long.
But now, my ‘job’ is undefined. Its still varied, but there’s nothing screaming at me to get done – except the dishes. They always seem to be there. And so I’m discovering that even I too, need structure. I need a framework and deadlines to determine what I do each day. Not because I expect to entirely stick to it, but because it keeps me going and doing the next thing.
My current structure says that I do ‘house’ things till 11 am and then ‘job’ things after that till about 4. But I was listening to a podcast while doing house things and that inspired this blog post, so I’m doing it now and its only 10 am. Which is what I love about structure that I create. Its up to me if I bend the lines and I don’t need to apologize.
I may be late to the value of structure, I know my teacher friends have been trying to impress upon me the value of it for a long time, but I do think that’s one of the things that separates those that do well as a homeschooler, entrepreneur or creative. It’s the ability to create structure that gives them purpose and success.
What podcasts do I listen to (so I forget that) while I’m doing housework? Today I found a new one called “The Next Right Thing” with Emily Freeman which really was the inspiration for this post, but also, learning to value my creative muscle as part of my job has been helped by listening to “The Creative Exponent” podcast. I listen to these on Stitcher.
I also created my own planner – again, someone else’s planner would just give me rules to break, but making my own meant it was exactly what I wanted it to be. And really its more about intentions, goals and priorities and less about appointments and timed structure since most days are like an empty book for me. I’m thinking about making it available for others – if you’re interested let me know!
Do Essential Oils even work?
Today I might say ‘not always’. I’ve been suffering from a migraine for 2 days. Why the Lord allows us to be afflicted with things like this is beyond me. You’re going along in life, getting things done and all of a sudden whamo! you’re down for the count. Although the fact that I can write this means its better than it was. But I still feel like I’ve been knocked down. And I’ve put every oil I can think of on my forehead, temples, feet, neck – everywhere.
So am I giving up on them? No. But I do recognize their limitations. They are not magic and their job is not to fix everything. Their job is support. Would my migraine be worse if I didn’t use them – probably. Let’s not find out. Gary Young, the founder of Young Living has been quoted as saying, “You can’t out-supplement a bad diet”. Which is the floor on which the magic dies. I haven’t been eating super healthy and my exercise routine suffered while the pools were closed. And my body isn’t 25 anymore. Its demanding that I do better.
So why bother with essential oils? Because whatever I do to support my body will help it. I can’t prevent everything that will happen to my body in this broken world. I will still have a lowered immune function, damaged muscles from car accidents and changing hormones. And maybe worse in the future. But anything I do for my body will allow it to prosper. Anything I neglect, will decline. Eating healthy, exercise and good supplements, including essential oils contribute to my body’s prosperity.
What do you do to prosper physically? I happen to be someone that likes to share my journey. I’d like to hear about yours too.
Thanks for listening,
The Lord has been talking to me today about accepting who I am - who he has made me to be. He’s given me strengths and limitations. He’s blessed me with gifts that I don’t always live into. He has made me different than those to whom I might try to compare myself. I don’t need to do a deep dive into what all my gifts and strengths are (again). But focussing on them and accepting what I am not is where I struggle.
My body inhibits me. I have medical issues that limit how physically strong I am and therefore restricts what I can do in my garden and around my house and in my life in general without paying a physical price. I find this very frustrating and often feel that its unfair. Because I have visions for my home that I want to accomplish on my own. I hate relying on others to help me and I feel weak when I say I can’t help someone else.
I have also been raised with a very strong protestant work ethic. I tend to operate out of a belief that if we don’t spend 90% of our day physically doing things, we are wasting time. I’ve also been jealous of people whose life work is reading, thinking and talking – that sounds like a constant vacation. But they exist and its reasonable to think that the Lord has called them to the work that they do. And I’m pretty sure its not actually a constant vacation. 😊
But I’ve spent more time this year reading, thinking and praying then I ever have before. And its been good. But when I started to get busy with projects a few months in, I firmly believe the Lord caused me to trip and break my arm so I would stop and keep still and listen to Him. That was a painful lesson that I don’t want to repeat. But yet I still have so much I want to accomplish and I get frustrated that my body doesn’t cooperate.
Struggling to accept help (or ask for it) is a control issue and comes from a desire to present myself as strong enough. But working within my actual strengths and accepting the contributions of others is actually what God calls me to. Strength isn’t just a physical thing.
Race. Justice. Prayer.
Race. Justice. Words that aren’t part of my daily world. I pray for justice regularly, but I don’t act in ways that seek justice. I don’t strive to learn what the deeper issues are. I don’t come alongside. I don’t learn about people I meet at their heart level.
Is this just a cry for anti-racism, justice and allyship? Or is it really a cry for deeper relationships, true love for one another? I don’t think we can accomplish a better world for everyone of all races and colours through posing our allyship and firing people who say the wrong things. Each of us need to commit to having better conversations, asking people how they are (and listening for real answers), stepping outside of ourselves and seeing the world from another point of view. This is not done by corporations or on social media (although following people who are sharing their stories is a start; I truly appreciate and have learned from those in the black community who have shared their hearts and their stories through media). And it certainly isn’t done by blanket claiming to love everyone. It is a daily commitment to everyone we meet and for whom we have responsibility. Everyone. If I want my MP to consider the heart and needs of the indigenous person suffering without clean water thousands of kilometres away from me, then I need to commit to regularly connecting with my MP (even through email, they are busy 😊), asking what they need from me to help them do their job better and what their prayer needs are.
We give a small amount of money to organizations working in justice issues. But I can’t remember the last time I emailed the front line workers and asked them how they are doing. Or told them they are in my prayers. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever actually prayed through the list of requests in their newsletter.
Prayer seems to be on my heart. It may feel like a remote thing to do and often feels like a cop out. “I’m praying for you” is easier to say than “how can I help you” or “tell me your story”. But if I truly were praying regularly for the people who suffer in situations outside of my small world, the Lord would be changing my heart and showing me better ways to show up for people and expand my reach.
Please bear in mind, this was not written to chastise anyone else. I really was working out what the Lord was teaching me while writing – and thought I’d share. If you appreciate it, drop a comment. Maybe more of my prayer musings will make it here. And if I haven’t heard your story and you would like to share, drop me a DM and we’ll connect. Love you all.
Its been an interesting few weeks as we ramp up more stringent response to the Corona virus threat. A researcher from the WHO claims Coronavirus will infect 30-70% of the population before its done. I posted to my personal FB page today an article written by a doctor in Europe that suggested social distancing was a very important step and that all countries and individuals should be taking measures to protect not only themselves but those around them, especially the vulnerable as we don't know who we come in contact with that is more vulnerable than us and we may carry it without symptoms.
We don't know what tomorrow will bring. Will more of our infrastructure close down? Will we all be asked to self quarantine for 2 weeks? I have gotten a little more groceries than usual, we won't be holding local church services. I see events being cancelled all the way through June and wonder whether there will be disruptions to our supply chains.
Young Living Essential Oils is being very proactive in maintaining their supply efforts as there is a thousandfold increase in demand for their cleaning and immune support products. At the same time they are offering plenty of information on how to protect ourselves and special sale kits of items to support clean hands, cough and cold relief and general immunity. Click here for details on these products or contact me directly to ask about them or any products that Young Living carries. It is important to take our health seriously and protect our families at any time. Essential Oil products have made a vast difference in my immunity and I would be happy to share my story with you in person.
What measures are you taking to protect yourself and your community?