All posts by Jenn Beiswenger

About Jenn Beiswenger

I'm generally a pretty content person, always growing and loving the journey most of the time. My passion was babies for so long, now I'm recalibrating to figure out what else I want to do with my life. It turns out that I enjoy preparing healthy food for my family, creating Zentangle®-inspired artwork, traveling, learning about the Lord's amazing kingdom, connecting with & helping others. My husband, 13-year-old son and I live in Sydney, Australia, where we happily serve the Hurstville New Church congregation. I'm enormously grateful for the modern technology which helps me stay connected with family & friends around the world!

Invisible Prisoners

I recently visited Cuba for the first time, with a few extended family members. We were there for my cousin’s graduation from med school, and we took some time to see a few sights too, in and around Havana. It was my first visit to a communist country. It was eye-opening.

Having grown up in Canada, Cuba has figured very low on my ‘awareness radar’. Everything I knew about the country, prior to my trip, I’d gleaned from my right-winged American husband. I gathered that Fidel Castro was ‘bad’ and America was ‘good’. I didn’t come across much about Fidel in my first few hours on the island, but during the medical school graduation ceremony I was introduced, albeit in a foreign language (of which I could only eke out a few words and implications!), to what looked to be the Cuban perspective on former president Fidel Castro. “Viva Fidel!” Long live Fidel! (or his ideology, as the case may be, as the man himself is deceased.)

Speakers venerated the man in their addresses, we saluted and chanted “Viva!” in response to their prompts. Wow, what a benevolent leader he was, creating this tertiary institution to benefit the people – which students attend and from which they earn their bona fide title of ‘doctora’ or ‘doctor’ free of charge! In that moment I realised that the image I’d formed in my mind of the oppressive Mr. Castro was incomplete: I’d only gotten half the story, up to that point, the other side, the American side. “Ok, Cubans really do love their leader. I was naïvely fooled into thinking that he was the enemy!” I felt some shame at having developed an opinion without learning the whole story. The rest of that day was spent rejoicing with the graduates and feeling good about their unique opportunity, and about Mr. Castro.

Continue reading Invisible Prisoners

Blessings In Disguise

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It enables us to see and understand so much more about our lives than we might otherwise! It is through hindsight – perhaps much further down the road, but eventually – that we can appreciate that the ‘curses’ in our lives really did have resulting good come out of them. The Lord teaches us that He’s got our backs: His Providence, although invisible to our eyes, surrounds everything we do in order to protect us from ourselves, to help us through our lives and onward to heaven. 

We are allowed to see Divine Providence from behind but not face to face, and when we are in a spiritual state, not in a materialistic state. Seeing Divine Providence from behind but not face to face is seeing it after the fact but not before; and seeing it when we are in a spiritual state and not in a materialistic state is seeing it from heaven and not from this world. Everyone who accepts inflow from heaven and recognizes Divine Providence (and especially people who have become spiritual by virtue of their reformation), on seeing events in their amazing kind of sequence, virtually sees Providence from a deep recognition and confesses it. Such people do not want to see it face to face, that is, before things happen, because they are afraid their own volition would interfere with some element of its orderly sequence. (Divine Providence 187.4)

Continue reading Blessings In Disguise

Patience Is a Virtue

“Patience is a virtue,
Virtue is a grace;
Grace is a little girl
Who wouldn’t wash her face!”

This is a nursery rhyme my mom used to encourage patience in me as a child – and which I have the privilege of reciting to my own child as well. In trying to find the source of this rhyme, it quickly became clear that there is no single origin. The introductory line can be traced back to The Canterbury Tales in the 14th century; however, it’s possible that it actually dates back as far as the 3rd or 4th century A.D.

Whatever the case, the idea that ‘patience is a virtue’ has been around for a while, and with good reason. I appreciated the explanation given by yourdictionary.com: “Part of the reason this has been a long-standing truth throughout history is because patience often goes against our instincts. It’s something everyone struggles with, including our earliest ancestors.  The good news is, patience is a skill that can be learned over time. The more we exercise patience, the less likely we are to become agitated when forced to wait for something. Mastering this virtue will make for a happier life. That’s certainly one of the reasons why it’s so famously touted by writers and philosophers alike.”

The virtue of patience came to my mind a couple of months ago, after the driver of the car-carrier truck behind me ever-so-politely came to my car, in stopped traffic, knocked on my window and gently requested that I not dart in front of him as I had done. He said that if I’d signalled my desire to change lanes and waited a little while, he’d have let me in. Fair enough.

Right after that incident, as the Christian radio station that I usually enjoy hosted its week-long semi-annual fund drive (which meant that I was hearing more pleas for money than pleasant music), I found myself station-surfing to find an alternative. I landed on a member-supported station playing an enjoyable tune. After that, though, they aired a long track of guitar and pan flute instrumental melody. This is not my normal choice of music. I usually prefer songs with meaningful words, often with a quicker beat. On that day, however, already mindful of cultivating more patience in myself, I chose to stay on that station, sit with it, and enjoy it for its slower pace and calmness. I still don’t particularly enjoy that style of music, but it was an interesting experience to let that song be, to just be patient and not switch stations again right away.

Another reason to be patient on Australian roads (where I live) is the preponderance of speed cameras. While I understand the value of such devices in calming particularly violent or dangerous stretches of road, they are mostly revenue-raisers in this country. The law does not allow for much lenience either: drive at a speed beyond a few kilometres per hour over the speed limit will elicit a ticket and hefty fine. Although I prefer to drive freely, still responsibly, but without checking my speedometer every few hundred metres, a fear of fines lightens my lead foot somewhat.

Those situations, combined with noticing some other instances of unnecessary lane-changing in relatively heavy traffic just to get a car length or two ahead, have got me thinking more and more about how driving, unless explicitly in a race, isn’t actually a race! Arriving somewhere on time is important, but, under normal circumstances, not critical. Getting my child to school on time is a good habit to be sure, but if we happen to be a little late sometimes, so what? It won’t be the end of the world: I’ll write an explanatory note, and we’ll each be on our ways.

I have the propensity to want to be exactly on time, which is a very narrow window of time, which means I’m always prone to being a teeny bit late. Somewhere along the way, I apparently decided that being early was not cool! In light of my new awareness of patience, however, I have a new appreciation for being early, and being patient until the right time to enter the building, or join the party, or whatever the scenario. It is disrespectful of me to make someone else wait; I just need to suck it up.

Wanting to bring the Lord into the conversation, I was curious to see what the He has to say about such matters. I came upon a couple of instances from His Word, including explanations thereof in the Writings for the New Church:

“The seed that is in the good ground, these are they who in a simple and good heart, hear the word, hold it fast, and bear fruit in patience.” (Luke 8:15)

The Heavenly Doctrines describe that “’to bring forth fruit in patience’ signifies to do truths and goods even when living amid falsities and evils, that is, among those who are in falsities and evils.” (Apocalypse Explained 813:4)

“If anyone shall lead into captivity he shall go into captivity; if anyone shall kill with the sword he must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” (Revelation 13:10)

Again, in the Heavenly Doctrines we read that “’the patience of the saints’ signifies the temptation of the faithful, or of those who are made spiritual by the Lord, because ‘patience’ signifies spiritual patience, which is patience in sustaining temptations; and those have that patience who fight in themselves against the falsities that are contained in the dogma of faith alone and that adhere to it; for that faith is confirmed by reasonings from the natural man and from the Word wrongly applied and thus falsified. The temptations that such sustain when they fight against falsities are meant by ‘patience.’” (Apocalypse Explained 813:2)

I am really glad to have found these passages, and they’re shedding a new light on the concept and importance of cultivating patience! Learning patience in this world is useful for a variety of worldly reasons, such as for health and safety (and for the law and personal finances, i.e. not breaking the law and not going broke on account of speeding tickets!), and now we can see the next, spiritual dimension of this virtue. It’s about facing temptation, which, superficially, includes resisting the urge to zoom ahead or cut someone off, automotively or otherwise, but which, on a deeper level, extends into rationalising things from our natural minds and from the Word and applying them incorrectly to life matters. The Lord urges us to practice patience, to sustain temptation, and promises that, as a result, we will be implanted with truths and be made spiritual, as we trust in Him and work to do goods and truths even amid the falsities and evils in this world around us.

These sound like reasons enough to me!

God Doesn’t Care

What?! That’s right, I said it: God doesn’t care.

I had this “A-ha!” moment while I was struggling with some external things in my life – namely, screen time for my eleven-year-old and healthy eating habits for myself and my family. In that moment I realised that God doesn’t care what we eat, how much we eat, or when we eat it. He doesn’t care how much time we spend in front of the screen or when we do it. He doesn’t care what we wear, what kind of car we drive, or any other of a litany of superficial aspects.

I struggle with parenting my child around screen time, feeling that he ought to spend the ‘right’ (not too much) amount of time on devices, at the ‘right’ (not before 7am nor after dinner) times. I struggle with a preoccupation with food, feeling that I ought to eat the ‘right’ (healthy, organic) foods in the ‘right’ (not too much) amounts, at the ‘right’ (not between meals nor after dinner) times, to the point that – my husband and I joke – I’m more likely to die of an illness induced by my toxic obsessing than of malnutrition! Continue reading God Doesn’t Care