All posts by Anne Waters

About Anne Waters

Anne is a wife, mother and career woman. She is married to Gary and has 3 children. She grew up in Scotland and went to Edinburgh University where she got an MA in Japanese. She moved to London after University and spent the next 10 years working for various Japanese and American companies using her Japanese and gaining valuable business skills. It was in London that Anne met Gary and decided to get married and have children. After their second child was born, they moved to Durban in South Africa, where they live now and where Gary is from originally. Their third child was born in South Africa. Anne is now able to be a full time mother to their three children, whilst teaching Japanese and English as a Foreign Language during the hours the children are at school. Anne was raised in the Church of Scotland and came to the New Church through marriage and has spent the last 7 years in South Africa delving deeper into the writings of the New Church with the support, love and friendship of other like-minded women in the New Church in Westville.

Losing My Religion – A Journey of Rediscovery

As my children grow into teenagers, I’m enjoying hearing their latest music choices in the car on whatever journey we are taking on any given day. As much as I love to listen to the radio or podcasts, I’m always interested to hear what music they are enjoying and relating to at that moment. 

What has surprised me is the number of ‘old’ songs they are discovering and equally how surprised they are when I start singing along enthusiastically, only to be asked, “Do you know this song?” When I tell them that the song was from my era, they are excited to know more. It has definitely sparked endless discussion and I find myself not feeling so ‘old’ anymore. 

Recently, they discovered the song, ‘Losing My Religion’ by R.E.M, which brought back many memories. I hadn’t really thought about the words before, and it got me thinking of the bigger picture:

“Oh life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me…”
Songwriters: Peter Lawrence Buck/ Michael E. Mills/ William Berry/ Michael J. Stipe (R.E.M)

Life is definitely bigger than all of us and my teenagers and I have been talking and engaging in discussion about religion recently on our car journeys. I wonder if most teenagers go through a stage of questioning religion, religious institutions, the existence of God, their place in the universe etc. as they go on their own journey of discovery into who they are and what their purpose is in the world. I have had to deal with many questions of ‘Why do we believe in God?’ or ‘Is God real?’ or ‘Why doesn’t God help me?’ I have learned to answer questions by asking another question: ‘Why are you asking?’ or ‘Do you think God is real?’ ‘What does it feel like when he is helping?’ It has been an interesting journey but what their journey of discovery has triggered is my own journey of rediscovery.

We live in East Lothian in Scotland, having moved back here at the beginning of 2020 during the global pandemic. Covid caused us a great deal of upheaval and its effects are still being felt. Since we left South Africa and the warmth of our religious blanket and regular participation in church societies there, we were left a bit in the cold in New Zealand, where we lived for 1 year, and now in Scotland. We have struggled to find our feet and attended church with my mum at her local church, but we’ve all felt we’re missing something. My youngest daughter even at one point felt she was losing her religion and couldn’t see the bigger picture. I explained that it’s okay to feel disconnected, and to question but that in time things will be clearer. 

I have also felt isolated but one positive aspect of Covid was the various live streamed or recorded sermons and services that have now appeared in the New Church sphere which we are able to watch no matter where we live. I love to connect to Westville New Church, which we attended for many years. Following a recent trip to Boulder, Colorado to visit family there, we attended the Boulder New Church and am now inspired to watch their live streamed services each Sunday evening (UK Time). 

The biggest discovery for me is Logopraxis. I was looking for a way to connect with the Word in a more meaningful way and thanks to Erik Buss, who is currently based in the UK, through our discussions, he put me in touch with David Millar and I’ve been participating in the practice for a few months now. I look forward to each week and the work I do in the intervening weeks to prepare for the class and enjoy the interaction and learning from others perspectives and insights in our sessions. The practice has helped me in my relationships with others as I become more mindful of the Lord’s presence in my daily life and interactions with others and even with myself and my inner life. 

It has been a real journey of rediscovery for me and I’m definitely not losing my religion but finding my religion and growing my connection to the Lord and the beautiful world he has created. It has meant our religious discussions are more fruitful, interesting, and our discussions even inspired my two eldest teenagers to attend BASS summer camp recently. Although it was tough at first, they came home reinspired, reconnected, and fulfilled from their connection with other like-minded teenagers and warmed by the support and wisdom of those who facilitated the camp. 

So, the words of the song resonate:

“Oh Life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me…”

Life is bigger than you or me and the Lord’s presence in it gives it meaning. Thankfully, we are not losing our religion but discovering or rediscovering it in ways that resonate and work for each of us in our own ways in our journey to find connection with the Lord. Let’s hope each of our journeys continue to grow our connection and love of the Lord more and more with each passing year. 

Have you ever questioned your faith in the Lord? Have you dealt with children or teenagers questioning their faith? How have you dealt with it? I’d love to hear other’s experiences and journeys of discovery. 

Finding My Tribe

Recently, I returned home to Scotland in the UK after many years living abroad. I left home for university at 17 and spent a year in Japan at 20, returning to complete my university education and move on to decide on my career, never thinking of returning to Scotland. 

I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, but my choices took me to London where I met my husband, and then to South Africa to raise our three children. When the politics and economics compelled us to leave our home in South Africa, we made the arduous move to New Zealand to start a better life. 

But Coronavirus had other plans for us… Our lives were turned upside down as jobs disappeared and opportunities diminished. We decided to move back to the UK. A radical and devastating move for all of us, but especially our children: uprooting and moving them across the globe twice in two years. 

In the car recently, the children reminded me that even though I lived in South Africa, I’m not South African. But I felt like I belonged in South Africa, like I had found my tribe. New Zealand never felt like my home, but I found wonderful friends who then became my new tribe. Here in Scotland, the land of my birth, the place I should call home, I feel disconnected, not part of the tribe that I thought I should be part of. I started to wonder where I really belong and what is it to belong? 

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The Power of Ritual

Who doesn’t enjoy ritual and routine?  I find that without some kind of rhythm to my day, it can become chaotic and frustrating. That’s not to say I don’t have these kinds of days, because I do. But I prefer routine and my rituals within the day to smooth the path ahead. 

When my three children were small, I found some kind of routine around eating and sleeping helped them and us as parents, and to a degree still does as they become young adults. Having a regular wake up time, bedtime and schedule to your day is great and I love the order of it. However, it’s not just having routine that I have found helps me focus my day and become more productive and effective. 

I have found the surprising power of rituals in my life to help calm anxieties and help me focus on a particular task.  I use my ritual each time I feel overwhelmed, if I have a big presentation to deliver, or a training or teaching session to do. For me, it’s taking a deep breath, closing my eyes and saying a prayer to the Lord to help guide me, help others get the most out of what I’m doing, and allow me to feel His presence in what I’m doing to give me confidence and strength. I end my ritual with the Lord’s prayer and a simple ‘thank you Lord’. It works every time, I feel more confident, my heart isn’t pounding, and I feel so empowered by my faith.

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Raising Teenagers

“Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40: 30-31

Every phase of raising children is a joy and a challenge at the same time: a time for us to grow as parents and people. Many of the lessons we are teaching our children have lessons for us as adults. Each phase allows our children to take one more step away from us and help them discover who they truly are separate from the family fold. 

The teenage phase can be fraught with problems and challenges for both parents and teenagers. I often find myself trying to remember what I was like as a teenager, but can I really relate to where my own teenagers are at in this day and age? 

My husband and I have felt hugely challenged in recent years, not just by our teenagers, but not helped by moving countries a few times and the emotional turmoil of teenage angst. 

Reasons for the problems that have arisen between parents and teenagers vary greatly for each family since each situation is different. However, there are a few common areas I have found, when talking to friends in similar situations, where teenagers and parents find conflict. 

Asserting Independence:
Our teenagers want to control their own lives and not have parents telling them what to do. But keeping the balance between letting our children make their own choices and keeping them safe is like walking a very long tight rope. 

Continue reading Raising Teenagers