All posts by Justine Buss

About Justine Buss

Justine Buss is a theatre practitioner, writer, wife, and mother currently based in Toronto. She was born and raised in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania and studied theatre and English at Muhlenberg College. She spent her professional career working with young people in theatre and is now a full time stay at home mom. She is married to Reverend Jared Buss and is mama to three firecracker kiddos. She stays in touch with her theatre roots by directing Christmas Tableaux and New Church Day pageants every year. She also loves doing crafts, singing with Voices Rock Canada, writing stories and poems, shopping, and going on adventures with her family. She is grateful for the expressive outlet that New Christian Woman provides. It's so good to take the time to reflect on and write about the things that are on our minds and hearts.

Baby Teeth

The first article I ever wrote for New Christian Woman was entitled, “Teething.” It described my first experience comforting a child who was cutting new molars and how it helped me understand a little better just how much the Lord loves us and wishes to ease our pain. The toddler who was the inspiration for that article is now in kindergarten and has her first loose tooth. I must have blinked.

This milestone has left me feeling more nostalgic than I would have expected. After all, it’s just a tooth. It’s not like she’s leaving for college or getting married or even getting her ears pierced. But I got a little choked up when I saw that tiny tooth wiggling precariously in my daughter’s mouth. A piece of her is about to be gone. Her body is finished with it and making room for a bigger tooth. This is how it’s supposed to work. 

And as silly as it is, my child’s dental development has once again nudged me into looking a little deeper at how this mini milestone correlates to our spiritual growth. I guess the Lord prompts us to muse over important things in unexpected ways.

Baby teeth seem almost pointless. We have them for such a tiny fraction of our lives – why bother with them at all?  But no part of our design is an accident. Not only do baby teeth help us chew our first solid foods, they also serve as placeholders. They ensure that our mouths have enough room for the adult teeth to eventually grow. 

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February Funk

I often find myself in a bit of a slump in February and I know many people experience something similar.

In my part of the world this time of year is cold and grey, accented by bitter winds. We are often blessed with dazzlingly white snowfalls, but the feathery flakes soon turn to ashen slush and I quickly forget how magical it was at first. Instead I find myself focusing on the nuisance of slippery surfaces, salt stains and soggy shoes piling up by my front door. Snow was still special last month. Now it’s old news and harder to appreciate even when it’s still nice to look at.  

But it’s not just the seasonal surroundings that can get me down in February. Maybe it’s just that it’s the second month of a new year and doesn’t stand a chance of being as exciting or important-seeming as the first. The new year’s fireworks have long since faded and perhaps our resolutions and hopes for a fresh start have already been abandoned. Maybe we’re already sighing about the things we intended to do better or differently this year and are looking to next month or even next year as the time to try again. Maybe February is when our leftover Christmas spirit feels stretched thin and stale, no matter what those popular carols say about keeping it alive year-round. 

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Notice Your Shoulders

Lately, I’ve been noticing my shoulders.

It all started last Christmas. I bought my mom a backpack that she really wanted. She passed away before she got a chance to use it and now it sits in my closet. I haven’t decided what I want to carry in it yet, but I like the idea that when I wear it, I will carry a part of my mom with me. 

A week after my mom died, I was in my brother-in-law’s wedding. Standing at the front of the church, I felt my mom’s presence hovering over my right shoulder. She was always a champion of marriage and I could feel her beaming with joy at getting a front row seat witnessing the birth of this precious new union.   

I’ve since felt my mother’s presence several times and it’s always been around my shoulders and centered around spheres of innocence; as I smiled down at my newborn son; while I was sitting on the grass in the sunshine as my older children ran around the local playground. Moments like that are when I feel her close, like warm wings draping over my shoulders from behind and humming with heavenly energy and comfort.

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How to Grieve: An Open Letter to the Hells

When my mother died this past winter, I was offered countless words of comfort. I was told to cherish the memories I had made with her. People quoted precious words of scripture. I received sweet cards and letters reminding me that I will see my mom again and that she is always close. I sincerely appreciate all of the comfort given to me during those first weeks of loss. But the single most useful thing anyone said to me was this: 

No matter how you are grieving, the hells will tell you that you’re doing it wrong. 

That might not seem like the most comforting statement in the world, but it has gotten me through so many low points in my stages of grief. I have turned to this phrase time and time again as the hells have attacked my grieving process at each and every turn. And there have been a lot of turns. This truth has become one of my smooth round stones with which I can slay the Goliath that tries to make me feel small and weak in my sadness. After all, being able to call out the hells is vital in fighting against them. 

The following is an open letter to the hells in response to their relentless attacks on my grieving process. My hope is that it will serve as a useful tool for others who are navigating loss. 

To: Hell
Attn: Grief Manipulation Department 

Continue reading How to Grieve: An Open Letter to the Hells