All posts by Abby Smith

About Abby Smith

Abby is a person. She works at being an emotionally intelligent person whose main focus currently is being a happy and loving mother to four kids and wife to Malcolm. Born and raised in a General church minister's family, she has been exposed to the Bible and the Writings since childhood but is enjoying reading and understanding these books as an adult more and more. The amazing knowledge about love and wisdom and all of the emotions that follow have truly made her a happier and more self-assured person. Her husband serves as the head pastor of New Church Westville near Durban, South Africa. While leaving family behind is a challenge, she quite enjoys living in Africa.

Wiggling My Toes

I’ve had braces for the last two years and I had upper jaw surgery a few months ago as part of the process.  This week I had the bottom brackets removed – I’m getting so close to the end of what’s been a long and often painful process. One of the things I’ve reflected on in these years is the power there is in focussing my attention.  

On Monday at the orthodontist I used a tool I learned as a small child – wiggling my toes.  I had a lot of dental work as a kid and for almost every appointment my Dad would be there, squeezing my hand, rubbing my leg, reminding me to breathe, and sometimes he would tell me to wiggle my toes.  I followed his coaching and while I don’t think I realised it at the time, it almost certainly made a huge difference in the moment of my experiences.  It calmed me to hear him and feel his soothing touch.  And to wiggle my toes drew my attention away from the pain in my mouth and helped me to notice that there were more parts of my body.

So earlier this week at the orthodontist, when there was a sense of building discomfort and I was starting to worry that I wasn’t going to be able to keep still and calm, I wiggled my toes.  Only after I wiggled my toes did I remember that I wasn’t really breathing and I took some good, deep and steadying breaths.  And quickly the hyper-focused feeling of hating having to squish my tongue at the back of my mouth was replaced with feeling my chest move up and down and laughing inwardly at my toes wiggling ridiculously at the end of the chair.  And my body could be calm a while longer.

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Dismantled

Editor’s note: This week’s post was originally published as a Marriage Moat. Lori writes these messages and sends them as weekday emails as well as posting them on social media. Throughout the year we’ll be sharing a few of our favorites.

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photo by Joy Feerrar

We zoomed with a couple who are trying to navigate the uptick of covid cases where they live. She was unraveling the wool sweater she’d knitted, which didn’t fit. Part of me was sad to see her cable stitches unspool, yet she was clear. It was worth the effort to retrieve the soft fiber rather than go to the store and pick up an acrylic substitute. 

Her husband is a minister, trying to serve his congregation without being in the same room. He spoke about the laborious process of dismantling his sermon and readings from the hymns. Then he could record and reconfigure them into a fluid service.

These are examples of the common need to take things apart before we can put them back together. It’s messy. I am in the midst of reorganizing my sewing room, which entails pulling fabric and patterns off the shelves, tossing scraps and refolding yardage. I purposely chose a week when there would be no students. The chaos is not a congenial space in which to be creative. But my hope is that when I finish the ideas will flow like silk ribbons.

People too need to fall apart. When the pieces lay in shambles at our feet, we can choose those parts that truly fit. It keeps us warm to be spun from innocence. 

Before anything is restored to order it is very common for everything to be reduced first of all to a state of confusion resembling chaos so that things that are not compatible may be separated from one another. And once these have been separated the Lord arranges them into order.  Emanuel Swedenborg, Secrets of Heaven 842:3

Love,
Lori

Unrevealed

Editor’s note – today’s post was written by Lori Odhner and published as a Marriage Moat. Lori writes these messages and sends them as weekday emails as well as posting them on social media. Throughout the year ahead we’ll be sharing a few of our favorites.

photo by Jenny Stein

There is a line in a song that I have wondered about. 

“Unrevealed until its season, only God alone can see.”

It explores cycles, and emerging fruit as evidence of how God brings life from emptiness. The splendor of birth never gets old. 

Yet there is another reason God tarries. 

Before John and I were married we were both complacent about our tempers. Or rather, the lack of them. We had no occasion to get snippy as single adults which was proof that we were unflappable. We might not have been brash enough to say as much, but we thought it. 

Enter children. 

It turned out that anger was a very present danger, and I saw an aspect of my character that had been dormant. I had no awareness that it was part of who I was. God did. But He took His sweet time allowing me to find out. 

It might be tempting to suggest that motherhood was the cause of my angst. But that is as much of an illusion as the notion of a sunrise. The orb of light didn’t arrive out of nowhere. It was me who was in the dark. 

Uncovering my personal propensity to fury, or blame, or contempt is not a feel good situation. But ignorance as an excuse has an expiration date. There comes a point when I need to own up to my dark side. 

Upheaval is more than an exercise in confusion. It is a chance to uncover ugliness so that we might choose otherwise. It was not that I had decided to be a calm person, pre babies. It was that no one had ever tested the tensile strength of my serenity. 

My prayer as I step between the land mines that have been buried into the current landscape, is to disarm the bombs within me. 

Love,
Lori

Room For One

Editor’s note – today’s post was written by Lori Odhner and published as a Marriage Moat. Lori writes these messages and sends them as weekday emails as well as posting them on social media. Throughout the year ahead we’ll be sharing a few of our favorites.

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Our first home had a kitchen with a capacity for one. I mean if we sucked in our stomachs and kept our arms at our sides I could be at the sink washing dishes while John was cooking pancakes. But forget any notion of opening the fridge.

Our current home has a kitchen that is roomy enough for conversations, with a couple of kids on stools, John at the stove, and me chopping vegetables on the butcher block.  Our master bathroom, however, is the same square footage as that kitchen. There is a sink, and a toilet, but no space for passing each other on the way to the shower. If Ben decides to use ours to brush his teeth, and I want to brush mine, I  wait until he is done rather than squeeze past him. The same is true of the bathroom on the third floor, though the girls found a way to get ready for school in a hurry. Now they live in different countries.

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