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.

Greeting As Friends

Have you ever found yourself among lots of strangers, either all at once, in one place, or one after another, after another? I’m guessing that you probably have, at some time or other. Does it make you shudder, or give you the chills?

Not everyone would be bothered by scenarios like these, but I’m a relatively introverted person, not especially inclined towards crowds of unknown people, so when faced with situations like those – even just thinking about it – I feel myself recoiling, sinking into myself. There are different variables, mind you: if I can just be around them, on the outside looking in, not expected to interact with them, I’m fine; or, if I’m with someone else that I can buddy up with, I’m pretty ok. If I’m on my own, though, and in a situation that calls for extensive interpersonal interaction,…. my palms start sweating and I start looking for the nearest exit. (I get through it, but I don’t enjoy it!)

I had opportunities to deal with this when my family and I first moved overseas, as you might imagine. Getting to know the folks in the small church society was fine, but venturing out into the outside world, where I didn’t know a soul and didn’t know whether I had anything in common with anyone, and I felt like a foreigner, an outsider, I was a little less than perfectly comfortable. “Deep breaths, Jenn, deep breaths….”

I distinctly remember one of the tactics I used, when we first got here and I was first venturing out: I reminded myself that, when it comes down to it, everybody poops. I don’t mean to be crass, it isn’t like I envisioned people going to the toilet, it was just a reassuring notion to think that, even that tough-looking guy over there, the one who looks like he could beat me to a pulp without much effort? (gulp!) – He poops, just like the rest of us. That stuck-up woman behind the counter at the shop? She poops. It elicited a little up-tick at the corner of my mouth as I chuckled inwardly, it’s true; it helped me relax into my new environment, confident that, although I was very new and ‘green’, we were all actually on the same playing field, deep down. (I suppose this strategy is probably akin to the public speaking ‘picture your audience naked’ tactic?….)

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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)

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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. 

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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??

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