All posts by Justine Buss

About Justine Buss

Justine Buss and her family are currently based in Pittsburgh. 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 and pastor’s wife. She stays in touch with her theatre roots by directing Christmas and New Church Day pageants, helping with school plays, and taking an improv class. She also enjoys singing, creative writing (including the occasional murder mystery party game), bargain hunting, 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.

Higher Resolutions

I know we are well into January, but I’d like to talk about New Year’s resolutions. 

I don’t know about you, but I always feel a lot of pressure around New Years. I feel like I’m supposed to come up with some grand goal and then be on the perfect path to achieving that goal as soon as January makes its midnight debut. In spite of the pressure, it’s tempting to make these glittering promises of self-improvement to myself, because such promises look and feel really good. They’re pretty, shiny pledges and I’m convinced I will look so good wearing them to the ball, or rather, as I watch the ball drop. But if I’m honest, I usually decide to pull a Cinderella and run out the door before the clock strikes twelve. Each retreating foot step seems to shriek: “Just kidding! I can’t handle any big life changes right now! I’m still recovering from Christmas! Even little changes feel huge these days! Maybe next year!” 

I’m not sharing this to be self-deprecating or to pooh-pooh New Year’s resolutions. They really seem to work for some people and that’s wonderful. But what I keep realizing is that we can’t plunge into a meaningful life shift without being ready. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is. We have to be truly ready. And the only way to get ready is to identify what we need spiritually. If we’re not prepared to make spiritual improvements, we won’t see any natural world results. For example, if we want to commit to eating better in the new year, we might first need to really face the fact that junk food has become a false god in our lives. It’s not enough to stock the fridge with celery. We must first acknowledging the spiritual issue at stake or we are setting ourselves up to trip up on the next powdered donut that crosses our path.

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Unselfish Self-Care

Unselfish Self-Care

There is an affection in every employment, and it strains the mind, and keeps it intent upon its work or study. This, if it be not relaxed, becomes dull, and its desire flags, as salt that has lost its savor, so that it has no pungency or relish; or as a bended [bow], which, unless it be unbent, loses the power that it derives from its elasticity. Just so the mind, kept from day to day in the same ideas, without variety (Charity 190).

As a busy mom of young children, my windows of free time are rare and of varying and unpredictable lengths. Sometimes I am given the precious gift of “me time” and instead of seizing it with glee, I panic. I look at this glimmering opportunity and feel paralyzed with the fear of wasting it. Then I wind up realizing that fear by wasting my time trying to decide what I should do instead of actually doing something. Does this sound familiar? 

I find that the hells love to exploit these opportunities by tangling my healthy wants and needs in a web of coulds, woulds, shoulds, and what ifs. The Lord clearly wants us to be happy and to have moments in which to recharge so that we can best serve the uses He has in mind for us. But the hells like to make us feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. They call us selfish. They call us lazy. They distract us with our never-ending to do lists. They point to the ticking clock and play the Jeopardy theme music in our heads, reminding us that this opportunity is fleeting so we had better come up with something amazing to do NOW. The overwhelming tangle can get so sticky that I often end up just doing a typical chore or mindlessly scrolling through my social media feed or rewatching some silly show instead of doing anything that actually refreshes me. 

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Being Truly Clothed

While I was doing my devotional reading a few weeks ago, my thoughts snagged on this particular passage:

“Within truth however no life is present, only within good. Truth is merely the recipient of life, that is, of good. Truth is like the clothing or a garment worn by good. In the Word too therefore truths are called clothes, and also garments. But when good composes the rational, truth passes out of sight and becomes as though it was good; for good is now shining through the truth, in the same way as when angels are seen clothed they appear in brightness that looks like a garment, as also was the case when angels appeared before the prophets.” Arcana Coelestia 2189.3

It might be quite worldly, but reading this brought to mind all of the clothes in my closet that I don’t wear. What might they represent when looked at through a more spiritual lens?

If we think of garments as truths, then what does it mean to invest in clothing items that we wind up rarely or never wearing? For me, there is an appeal in having things “just in case” I need it. There is a refreshing sense of possibility in buying something that could serve a purpose. But that possibility stagnates quickly when I fail to give the garment said purpose by never putting it on. It doesn’t matter how much I insist that I like the color or the style or how it looked in a dressing room. It doesn’t matter if the clothes are especially pretty or comfortable. Clothes left hanging in my closet or taking up space in my admittedly stuffed dresser drawers are utterly useless. 

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Hoping for a Rainbow

“Rainbow baby” is a term commonly used for a baby born after the loss of a pregnancy or infant. A “double rainbow baby” is a baby born after two or more such losses. My husband and I are currently hoping for our own double rainbow baby to arrive this summer. I would say we are “expecting,” but to be perfectly honest, after two back-to-back second trimester miscarriages, I don’t feel comfortable using that word. At this point, I expect nothing. But I do hope. I fervently hope that this baby gets to join our family the way the Lord intended. 

I’m not sharing this for pity, although we certainly appreciate any prayers you feel so moved to send our way. I’m writing about this because pregnancy after loss is one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced in my spiritual life and if my struggles and growth can help someone else at all, then that’s one more little good thing to come out of a whole mess of pain. 

Pregnancy before loss and pregnancy after loss are profoundly different experiences. Before our losses, we were blessed with three beautiful healthy babies. During each of those pregnancies I knew that something could go wrong. But the possibility of losing the baby was a distant murmuring fear that I only brushed against occasionally. My trust in the process of growing and delivering a baby was unshaken. My trust in the Lord was solid. The Lord wants us to have babies. Most babies survive and thrive. I knew people who had experienced miscarriages or stillbirths or had lost an infant, but I felt somehow protected from that pain. It was something other, something that wasn’t mine—a cloud in the horizon that might never reach me.

Continue reading Hoping for a Rainbow