All posts by Justine Buss

About Justine Buss

Justine Buss is a theatre practitioner, writer, wife, and mother currently based in Toronto. 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. She is married to Reverend Jared Buss and is mama to three firecracker kiddos. She stays in touch with her theatre roots by directing Christmas Tableaux and New Church Day pageants every year. She also loves doing crafts, singing with Voices Rock Canada, writing stories and poems, shopping, 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.

We Need The Needles

These days the textile arts seem to be the Lord’s preferred vessel for lessons He wants to share with me. In my last article, I wrote about how knitting a scarf for my son helped me process the pain of pregnancy loss. Recently, I have been trying my hand at needle felting, and once again this simple act of creation has provided some clarity I’ve really needed, which I would like to share with you. 

Needle felting is a comfortingly uncomplicated process. One simply has to stab wool with a sharp needle until the fibers bind together into the desired shape. It certainly requires some practice and skill to craft felted creations of any detail and it is very easy to poke yourself if you’re not careful, but the essential process really is just stabbing wool repeatedly. 

It doesn’t stretch my imagination much to identify with that fledgling tuft of wool. That’s really how we start out, isn’t it? Shapeless. In need of direction and purpose. Being in a soft and fuzzy newborn state is lovely, but we aren’t supposed to linger there for long. I love that the term used for loose wool fibers is “roving” wool, as if the fluff could wander off or get lost if Someone didn’t do something with it. As if it were made to be gathered together into something new. 

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Unraveling Pregnancy Loss

The day after losing my unborn child, I started knitting a scarf. It was for my three year old son and he had selected a pumpkin spice orange yarn–the kind of orange that warms you up when you look at it. He had picked this yarn out well over a year ago, but I had barely started knitting before the project got lost in the shuffle of holiday hubbub. But now, in my helplessness and grief after delivering a baby long before he was ready, I felt a sudden urge to make something–something I knew I could finish. I desperately needed to feel productive while spending most of my time in bed and on the couch so my body could heal. 

I had selected the number of stitches determining the width of the scarf long ago, and as I started to knit, I could see that the scarf would engulf my little guy’s neck and probably his face too. Not only that, but it was so wide that I might not have enough yarn to make it long enough to wrap around his neck securely. But I was stubborn. I kept going. There’d be enough yarn, I kept telling myself, as the soft orange creation got longer and longer. 

But not long enough. 

I had nearly used up my one and only skein of this cozy orange yarn when I tossed the knitting needles aside in frustration. I had indeed made the scarf too wide. I didn’t have enough yarn to finish. I would have to undo a day’s worth of knitting and start over. Tears of failure spilled out in bitter heaves. Why had I so foolishly convinced myself that this would work out? Of course my frustration wasn’t really about the scarf. 

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Baby Teeth

The first article I ever wrote for New Christian Woman was entitled, “Teething.” It described my first experience comforting a child who was cutting new molars and how it helped me understand a little better just how much the Lord loves us and wishes to ease our pain. The toddler who was the inspiration for that article is now in kindergarten and has her first loose tooth. I must have blinked.

This milestone has left me feeling more nostalgic than I would have expected. After all, it’s just a tooth. It’s not like she’s leaving for college or getting married or even getting her ears pierced. But I got a little choked up when I saw that tiny tooth wiggling precariously in my daughter’s mouth. A piece of her is about to be gone. Her body is finished with it and making room for a bigger tooth. This is how it’s supposed to work. 

And as silly as it is, my child’s dental development has once again nudged me into looking a little deeper at how this mini milestone correlates to our spiritual growth. I guess the Lord prompts us to muse over important things in unexpected ways.

Baby teeth seem almost pointless. We have them for such a tiny fraction of our lives – why bother with them at all?  But no part of our design is an accident. Not only do baby teeth help us chew our first solid foods, they also serve as placeholders. They ensure that our mouths have enough room for the adult teeth to eventually grow. 

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February Funk

I often find myself in a bit of a slump in February and I know many people experience something similar.

In my part of the world this time of year is cold and grey, accented by bitter winds. We are often blessed with dazzlingly white snowfalls, but the feathery flakes soon turn to ashen slush and I quickly forget how magical it was at first. Instead I find myself focusing on the nuisance of slippery surfaces, salt stains and soggy shoes piling up by my front door. Snow was still special last month. Now it’s old news and harder to appreciate even when it’s still nice to look at.  

But it’s not just the seasonal surroundings that can get me down in February. Maybe it’s just that it’s the second month of a new year and doesn’t stand a chance of being as exciting or important-seeming as the first. The new year’s fireworks have long since faded and perhaps our resolutions and hopes for a fresh start have already been abandoned. Maybe we’re already sighing about the things we intended to do better or differently this year and are looking to next month or even next year as the time to try again. Maybe February is when our leftover Christmas spirit feels stretched thin and stale, no matter what those popular carols say about keeping it alive year-round. 

Continue reading February Funk