All posts by Jenn Beiswenger

About Jenn Beiswenger

Jenn is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, homemaker, birth & postpartum doula, artist, pastor's wife,.. etc. She loves reading, word & number puzzles, cooking nutritious food, planning fun surprises, looking after her family, helping people connect, having good heart-to-heart conversations about the important things in life. She is learning more and more about the Lord's workings and is inspired by His sheer amazingness. She was born & raised in Canada, educated & started a family in the United States, and now lives & loves in Australia.

Unwintery Winter

What if our winter is not wintery?

Toasty though it may be for those of you in the northern hemisphere, right now, the months of June, July and August are technically ‘winter’, down here in Australia. Winters in Sydney, where I live now, though, are nothing like winters in Montreal and Toronto, where I grew up, or even Philadelphia, where I spent my early adulthood. Those winters – ‘real’ winters! – were quite cold and, if we were lucky (unlucky?), lush with snow. Temperatures in Sydney have apparently never, in recorded history, dropped below freezing, although they’ve gotten awfully close, in my decade here! At any rate, we don’t get any snow – for better and for worse.

There are definitely perks to having such relatively mild winters. On a nice, sunny winter’s day, it can be warm enough to wear shorts and t-shirts, especially while engaged in physical activity in the sunshine. It tends to be chilly in the shade, but I can eat lunch outdoors, if I’m sitting in the sun, out of the wind. 

Nice though that is, I sometimes wonder whether we’re missing out on something – not just in regards to the aesthetics of snow or the fun we can have with it, but extending into the correspondence realm. Earlier this year I wrote about our individual perception of environmental stimuli, like heat & cold, and their correspondences to love and the lack thereof. I’ve since come across an article in a New Church Canadian from a few years back which extolled the benefits of winter, the hush and beauty of the pure, new snow. In it Rev. Jared Buss observed that

“Winter is a time for waiting, and for stillness; it represents a state of spiritual cold, a state of darkness, but it also illustrates for us how the mercy of the Lord is with us even in these states. He is with us, waiting for us to wake up, to warm up to His life. ‘Snow signifies natural truth, which is like snow when it is in the memory only; but it is made spiritual by love, as snow is made rainwater by heat.’ (Apocalypse Explained 644.13)”
(Jared Buss article in New Church Canadian, Issue 183, Jan/Feb 2018)

Continue reading Unwintery Winter

Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

We’ve probably all been told that a thousand times over, for as long as we can remember.… and we’ve probably all done a decent job of it, right? –but have we done a good job?

This principle smacked me in the face, recently, in the arena of modern medicine. I enjoy dabbling in alternative approaches to healthcare – homeopathy, acupuncture, ayurveda, to mention a few examples. I’ve been a big fan of babies since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. (If you’ve followed this blog for a while, or have perused old articles, you might recall my statement in a July 2015 piece: “Mom, when I grow up, I want to be just like you: nothing.” This, if you aren’t fluent in kid-speak, meant that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, as opposed to a career woman; I wanted to stay home with babies of my own!)

In the late ’90s I thought about becoming a midwife – another somewhat alternative, albeit historically traditional, healthcare modality, at least in North America – but abandoned that ship when I realised that it would conflict more with my own family life than I wanted it to. When that didn’t pan out, I considered becoming a doula – a woman who mothers the mother through her pregnancy, childbirth and early days postpartum – but left that by the wayside, too, to focus on my own family. In late 2021, though, after years of mothering and fighting the doula bug, I finally bit the bullet, took the bull by the horns and decided that I was ready and that doula-ing really was my calling. 

Continue reading Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

Individual Experience

Ours is an individual experience. What we see, feel, hear, taste, smell – it’s all subjective. We think we each see daylight or feel snow the same way, but do we really? Experiences are rated on scales – Scoville scale of heat (spiciness), Mohs hardness scale, lumens/lux/candela/footcandles indicating brightness – but can we really know if our bases are the same, if we’ve all got the same starting point?

We know from the Heavenly Doctrines for the New Church that light is about enlightenment and warmth is about love –

The sun in the spiritual world is pure love from Jehovah God, who is within that sun. The spiritual sun radiates heat and light. The essence of the heat it radiates is love, and the essence of the light is wisdom. That heat and that light have an effect on people’s wills and intellects. The heat affects the will; the light affects the intellect.
(True Christianity 75)

….Does someone who is more enlightened and living in more love experience a warmer, brighter summer day than another? Does someone who is struggling with her faith and living more selfishly experience a longer, colder winter? More seasonal affective disorder? It doesn’t seem so – it can be a brilliantly sunny day outside even when I’m feeling dark & crabby inwardly. I doubt that everyone in Canada experienced a severe dip in their spirituality alongside this winter’s cold snap …. or did they??

Continue reading Individual Experience

Christmas is Still Christmas

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:8-11

Do you feel inspired by this quote, as I do? Then, when you look around you, do you feel discouraged by the loss of spiritual focus in the world, by the vast consumerism and Ho-Ho-Ho Santa-Clausness that appear to be driving the ship these days? Are you disheartened to see so many secular aspects of Christmas, what seems like everybody and their uncle celebrating Xmas but not Christmas? Sometimes, to devoted Christians, it can be outright depressing.

I’m here to buoy you up, to reassure you that all is not lost.

Santa Claus may not seem to have anything whatsoever to do with our Lord Jesus Christ, and he doesn’t, really……. however let’s consider Mr Claus’ nature: the spirit behind jolly ol’ Saint Nick is not one of meanness or greed, but about love and generosity! If people are enamoured with and inspired by Santa, – that isn’t my first choice, to be certain, but it sure could be a lot worse. I have to remind myself that the Lord doesn’t only come to people through the Christian Bible and the Writings for the New Church. Those are the means with which I’m most familiar, and they may be the truest form, but He has clearly told us that He comes to different people in different ways, in ways that suit them best.

In later times when the knowledge of correspondences had been wiped out, [people] began to worship the actual carvings as being themselves holy, being unaware that their ancestors had seen no holiness in them, merely regarding them as representing holy things in accordance with their correspondences. This was the origin of the idolatries which filled so many of the world’s kingdoms. In order to root out those idolatries, it happened by the Lord’s Divine Providence that a new religion should be founded adapted to suit the character of oriental peoples…. 

True Christian Religion 833

If some people simply cannot wrap their brains around the Jesus thing, it’s better that they embrace and emulate Santa than someone much worse, isn’t it? This is about the ‘church universal’, as I understand it, and I’ll bet Santa’s a part of it.

There are people who think that the Lord’s church exists only in the Christian world because only there is the Lord known and only there is the Word found. Still, there are a good many people who believe that the church of God is wider, spread out and scattered through all regions of the world, even among people who do not know about the Lord and do not have the Word. They say that it is not these people’s fault and that they cannot help being ignorant. It would fly in the face of God’s love and mercy if anyone were born for hell when we are all equally human.

Divine providence 325

The Lord takes what we know and turns it to good. Take Christmas lights as another example: we see a lot of those, strung along rooftops and around trees at this time of year, not to mention the elaborate light creations that fill some people’s yards. On the one hand, we may be put off by their gaudiness and heathenly nature; on the other, though, if we consider correspondences, we might remember that light corresponds to truth, and stars to knowledges of good and truth, particularly knowledge about the Lord (AE72). With that in mind, look again out your front window: we’re utterly surrounded by representations of truth!

I wish that everyone could appreciate the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, and the Writings tell us that folks are introduced to this truth upon entering the other world, but in the meantime, it seems that we need to make our peace with the world as it actually is. The mall may be grossly packed with exorbitantly-spending shoppers, but they (by and large) aren’t buying for themselves, they’re generously buying for others. Our Griswold-esque neighbours may have blown a fuse with all their powered decorations, but still, they’re celebrating Christmas. It seems that just about everybody does ‘celebrate Christmas’ in some form or other, certainly more than just Christians, and maybe that’s actually a good thing, after all.

Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

luke 2:10-14