Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good Friday, five years ago

I sent the following to Living Room facilitators and would-be facilitators, as well as Living Room supporters. Thought it would be good to share here as well. Never know how many would-be facilitators might be out there.

Happy Easter to you all!

My thoughts have been turning back lately to the Good Friday exactly five years ago when Pastor Don invited me to read a bit from my not-yet-published A Firm Place to Stand. With the reading I shared some of the emotional battles I had faced and how I could see that Jesus fully understood those battles. In a different way, He had faced similar battles. He fully understood my pain. What comfort that gave me! It's so important to be understood, isn't it? And then to be able to share that pain with God, the greatest Comforter of all!

After that reading, three people came up to me to tell me their story of pain. They could relate to me too!! And they found comfort in knowing that I was a "safe" person to talk to. Neat what happens when you share your personal emotional battles. It gives others permission to share their own battles as well.

And that's the beauty of our Living Room groups. That's what we do at Living Room.

I was amazed how good it felt to have those three people be so honest with me. What a privilege it is to have someone share in that way with you! As I wrote in my book, I felt a lot like Patch Adams did in the movie when he found out he could connect so well with the people in the mental hospital where he himself was a patient. "I connected to another human being!" Like Patch Adams, I found out that I too reallly wanted to listen to people and learn about them. I wanted to help them with their troubles. And I wanted to do more of that. I wanted people with mental disorders to have the freedom to talk about their problems in a Christian setting - safely. This is how the idea for Living Room germinated.

I gave a speech yesterday for the Reformed Church's Eirana Support Service's organization. Afterwards, a man who told me he struggled with depression came to talk to me. He told me how he would like to be part of a Living Room group but did not feel he could facilitate. Yet he also told me how he was sitting on a park bench awhile back when a person - out of the blue - told him her life story and her struggles. He told me how good it made him feel. Without knowing it, he was doing Living Room work. In my estimation, he's a person who could facilitate.

Yet I know how scary it can feel. I was scared as well before I started my group the first time. Could I do the work?

But I came to think of it as what it really is. It's not my work at all. It's God's work. All I have to do is to be His feet and hands. All I have to do is follow Him. All I have to be is His footsoldier. And then the work comes naturally.

At this Easter time when we are thankful to God for giving us Jesus - this anniversary of the germination of Living Room - I wish that attitude for all of you. Can you look on the work you want to do with Living Room as God's work? It isn't yours at all. All the power comes from Him who gives us strength. We only need to follow Him.

And then, how wonderful it is to serve Him!

All the best to you. And Happy Easter! May the sun shine on you and within.


Friday, April 08, 2011

Back to photographing

I had the delightful opportunity to photograph a friend's 3 1/2 year old grandson. Such a good, but busy time it was. He's an active little guy, so not easy capture at times. The neat thing about him was that he was almost always smiling. I managed to get a good series of him while his grandmother was reading to him, his expression constantly changing as he delighted in Winnie the Pooh.

As often happens, I did not feel I was doing particularly well capturing images, and yet - when I came to editing the ones I had - I still had a good bunch of successes, with good variety.

Good to be distracted a bit from my Living Room work. The photography helped bring the balance I need in my life. At times I tend to get obsessed with Living Room, but - thank God - I'm presently able to do a wide variety of things.

This afternoon I was engaged in a Living Room activity. I visited the group in Abbotsford and talked about my life and how the Living Room concept came into being. It was a most enjoyable time I had. I was able to express myself the way I wished and I think some of the people may have been inspired by what I had to say. I pray that I left them with a message of hope...I think I did.

My next project will be to finish up my cookbook. Should tell you, though, the cookbook has evolved into a book called "Happiness is...: Celebrating my hobbies. Sharing from Marja's kitchen and camera." ...or something like that. I'm still working on a good title. All the recipes are entered and now the fun job of inserting photographs will begin.

But...I must keep my life balance and can't sit at the computer all the time. The sun is shining in Vancouver and I must get into the outdoors as well. I need to get out and walk...and my muskoka chair is waiting.