all is calm...

it's 5am on christmas morning, and like a reflection of the child i once was, i am wide awake. while the cause of today's awakeness is jetlag, my childhood insomnia was caused by nothing other than pure excitement; excitement at having gramma & grampa over, about seeing meme & pepe & visiting with cousins i hadn't seen in months...but mostly excitement about what lay under the tree, especially those with my name on it!

on some level, i think i've always believe that in many, or even most instances, the gift that someone takes the time to give to you reflects how they see you, what they see of you from an outsider's point of view. and, at least for me, i think it's always good to know how you are being viewed.

sometimes it's quite obvious, as is evidenced by the many Paris & Starbucks gifts that i have received over the past few years. [not to mention the many 'princess' notepads and, most recently added to the collection, mug that have come my way! :-)] sometimes i'ts not so obvious, and only those closest to you could ever possibly have seen it. this is one of the reasons why i am reticent to give christmas lists. somehow it almost seems like telling someone how to see me.

anyone who lives in north america knows that the real meaning of christmas easily gets muddied down to a gift exchange, and like even the best of relationships, we as individuals need to work at keeping the focus where it remains to be. how many times have we heard 'he's the reason for the season' or 'keep the Christ in Christmas.' as annoying as it is, if it weren't true, there would be no need for maddening cliches!

but this morning, i am riding this train of thought to a different stop. if i am bold enough to think that the gifts given to me by those who love me are reflections of how they see me, then does it not follow that both the gifts i give to Jesus, and how i spend his birthday reflect how i see him?

sobering thought. today may my life reflect the love, sacrifice and willingness to leave a place of honor and comfort to serve others that i see in him. and may it continue tomorrow...

happy birthday, Jesus



our book group is reading 'blue like jazz' by donald miller. in the chapter 'alone' he talks about loneliness and says:
'loneliness is something that happens to us, but i think it is something that we can move ourselves out of. i think a person who is lonely should dig into a community, give himself to a community, humble himself before his friends, initiate community, teach people to care for each other, love each other."
i could come up with dozens of reasons why i shouldn't do each of these things when i am in the midst of my loneliness, but none of these reasons would alter the basic fact that we are all flawed, broken and haunted by our own special kind of pride. we all need each other to reach out, in hope that while we ourselves are extending our hand into the darkness, that there is someone else out there also doing the same.

suddenly, it's not about who the needy one is, because at our very core, we are all the needy one.



i love margaret becker's writing. back before she wrote books, her songs haunted me, as though she lived inside my closet, her lyrics echoing all that was going on inside me. then i read her book, initially eight years ago, but one line of 'with new eyes' has stuck with me over the years. it has practically become my mantra.

"the most that i could ever hope to be is malleable. someone who actually listens and considers a point. someone who does not see it as a loss to concede their wrongs. someone who is not afraid to change. with change comes the ability to be strong; because when one recognizes their own fallibility, the threat of it is diminished--and the freedome of growth develops. to be wrong is to be free."

"the most that i could ever hope for is to be malleable." to this day, this remains my prayer. i am well aware of how stubborn i can be. no one gets called tete de pioche as a child because she is compliant. if left unchecked, that stubborn child makes far too many appearances into my life.

i want to be able to see where i am in the light of where i've come from, while envisioning where i still need to go. in short, i want to not be the same tomorrow as i am today. i don't want my relationship with God never to change me. i don't want to be someone who others, at best, tolerate, because i am refusing to let myself be changed.

the most i can hope for is to be malleable. may this always be my prayer.


Les Miserables

in what could only be described as a stellar example of my tendency to be obsessive, i am going to see Les Mis again next week. in my feeble defense, the day i saw it initially at the beginning of october, i was somewhat distracted by the other events of the day, and was really not fully into it until intermission. but now i have the opportunity to see it yet again. yay.

"Will the future ever arrive?...Should we continue to look upwards? Is the light we can see in the sky one of those which will presently be extinguished? The ideal is terrifying to behold, lost as it is in the depths, small, isolated, a pin-point, brilliant but threatened on all sides by the dark forces that surround it; nevertheless, no more in danger than a star in the jaws of the clouds" (Victor Hugo)



reading: every book on paris in my possession
listening: les miserables soundtrack

although i've decided that i want to spend my 40th birthday in paris, now that it's come to the time for me to book the flight, i'm faltering.

it's a lot of money to spend entirely on oneself. and this is just the flight. it just seems like there are so many things in the world that could be better served by all this money than spending ten days in paris, even though its been my dream for as long as i can remember.

i just need to do it. tonight, laura said that i work hard, and i just need to do this for myself.

why do i have to make everything so incredibly difficult?

"To live in the presence of great truths and eternal laws, to be led by permanent ideals - that is what keeps a man patient when the world ignores him, and calm and unspoiled when the world praises him."
-- Honore De Balzac


no coincidence

i am fighting myself right now. i know the right answers, the right thing to do. but i am fighting myself--or, more accurately, fighting God, for a chance to have it my way.

i am not eloquent right now. i only know that it hurts, and i want the chance to make the hurt go away, if just for a little while, even if it ends up costing more than my life can afford.

i also know that i'm incredibly self-centered right now. until this one, every sentence has begun with 'i'. like a little child who expects her demands be met simply because she wants something, i've been refusing to acknowledge the existence of a bigger picture.

and there is a bigger picture, of that i have no doubt. i've seen the faces of the bigger picture, heard their voices, with questions so raw that mine are shamed into silence. i've witnessed the cost of the big picture, shedding a light on my demands that exposes them for the selfish trifles that they are.

they say that life imitates art, and the fact that this struggle so perfectly mirrors the monologue i am doing this sunday is, i'm sure, no coincidence. in a previous post i quoted a poem by Rilke in which he refers to 'the unspeaking center of her monologues'... as i lay down this struggle, i can only pray that the end of this poem be my story:

...with each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.



sometimes i forget how blessed i am by all the amazing friendships that are mine. God has chosen to bring into my life some truly exceptional people. sometimes i forget this, especially during those inevitable and inopportune times of loneliness. but every once in a while, i get tossed a reminder-shaped lifesaver.

today i caught such a lifesaver. while working at a conference, i ran into an old friend from high school. it has to have been pretty much 20 years since i have seen ann, but i recognized her the moment i saw her, and for a short time today, the two decades evaporated, and we were once again two 18-year olds, laughing and talking.

later i realized that a long time ago, back when my teenage brain didn't have a chance to comprehend what a gift a friend truly is, i was blessed by ann's friendship. and then over the years by so many others. some are the rocks on which part of my life is built, some i've just met. those with lives in other cities and countries who, in spite of the miles between us remain as present in my heart today as they ever were. a few who have moved beyond this world, whom i will never stop missing while here.

so much laughter. so many memories. so much love.

i am blessed.


room to think

listening: les miserables soundtrack
reading: a suitable boy (vikram seth); velvet elvis (rob bell)

i'm on a mini-vacation right now. my brain needs some elbow room. i haven't written a lot lately, mostly because i feel like i don't have much of any value to say. and while i will occasionally squander verbally, i won't do it to the written word.

perhaps because there is a finality to putting something actually on paper. a commitment if you will. one must be intentional. lately i have been feeling anything but committal or intentional.

i am tired.


just another manic monday

why is it that when we are hurting, having a bad day, or are somewhat inconvenienced we give ourselves licence to do things we would normally never allow ourselves to wander near?

today is an excellent example. i could give you lots of excuses; the headache i've been fighting for five days, the ever-increasing workload, the inequity of the situation...but all of these would be just that. excuses. definitely not anything that would justify the frustratin level i felt and the shortness i had for those involved.

this poem by c.s. lewis so completely sums up how i feel tonight.
all this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
i never had a selfless thought since i was born.
i am mercenary and self-seeking through and through;
i want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

peace, reassurance, pleasure, are the goals i seek,
i cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
i talk of love--a scholar's parrot can talk greek--
but, self-imprisoned, always end where i begin.


happy birthday to my favorite hardy boy

today is shaun cassidy's 47th birthday. i was so in love with him for most of my childhood. the good old days. before the glorious inventions known as vcrs & dvds. i lived for sunday nights, when shaun and his semi-hot older brother parker stevenson saved the world as the hardy boys. having to go to church at night was a cruel, cruel sacrifice...and my parents didn't get warm, happy feelings about leaving their nine year old daughter home alone, so i went along. to get me by, until the next week (while i prayed daily that we would not go to church the next sunday night) i had every record shaun ever made, even one of his older half brother (in reality), david cassidy's.

sigh. and today he's celebrating his 47th birthday. i don't even want to know what he looks like today. i prefer to think him as he was. i wonder if he knows i'm still waiting for him. :-)


i cannot ask for more

to sing with a heavy heart...
to love undistracted by details...
to walk in the rain knowing the sun will shine...
to laugh with tear-filled eyes...
to stare down my deepest loneliness knowing i will never be alone...
to stand on my own knowing a greater hand holds me...
to not know the answers and still trust...
to know that while truly known, i am truly loved...
to see growth in the midst of failure...
to stand by another in their fire and not be consumed...
to ask the question knowing the answer may never come...
to have my discontent heart know that You are enough...
to sleep while all around me rages...

i cannot ask for more


overcoming unbelief

i love the statement in Mark 9:24, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!". i love how it helps me not feel like a complete loser about my own duplicity.

when i know i should trust, i worry. when i know i should wait, i need to make things happen. i always manage to say too much when i shouldn't say anything at all. even though i can read what God thinks about me, too often i give in to feelings of insignificance and forgotteness.

help me overcome my unbelief.
To me, one of the proofs that God's hand is behind and all throughout this marvelous Book we know as the Bible is the way it continually touches upon this very fear in us--the fear that we are so insignificant as to be forgotten. That we are nothing. Unconsciously, His Word meets this fear, and answers it. (Amy Carmichael)


what i'm reading (august 2005)

i love books. summer is a great time to partake (since i'm probably somewhere hiding from the sun anyway!) so many people are asking me what i'm reading, so i figured i'd put them all out there!

Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
i've wanted to see the musical forever, and it looks like this fall i'll actually have a chance! of course, i can not have the book experience marred in any way, so i'll be finishing this puppy before October 6!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (JK Rowling)
i've seen the movie, and yes, i realize i'm doing it contrary to how i like to do things, but at least i've held off on seeing the other movies until i can get the books under my belt. there's nothing like being transported to a place that can never exist. i hope i never outgrow my love of children's books!

Searching for God Knows What (Donald Miller)
Donald Miller is a superb writer. in the Laundromat this morning i read a chapter of this book, and simultaneously was tranported back to my grade school days and convicted in my present day life. if you haven't read any of his work, i would be remiss to not mention that before you start working on this puppy, you need to read 'Blue Like Jazz'. you won't be sorry.

The Barbarian Way (Erwin McManus)
i've never been a fan of neatly packaged, pretty Christianity. it would appear that Erwin is not either. it's a small book, but packed with greatness.

Rumors (Philip Yancey)
i don't think i've ever actually finished one of Philip Yancey's books, for one reason or another. but that fact notwithstanding, i'm beginning another one. something about "grappling honestly with major life questions" has me intrigued. i'll keep you posted! :-)

The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)
this book has been as enjoyable as i had hoped it would. the real-life examples of how little things, little changes can make a world of a difference are stellar. social epidemics have never been so fascinating!

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel
on my last trip to calgary to visit the family, mom bought me this book when they dropped me off at the airport. the cover appealed to me initially (i'm such a sucker for a good marketing idea!), but the book is a gem. it's loaded with idea for travel of many different kinds. i can't even get started here, i won't stop.

The Power of Full Engagement (Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz)
earlier this month i attended the willow creek leadership summit, and one of the speakers (Jim Groppel) talked about the concept of managing energy rather than time in an effort to gain control of "life". this book is a more in-depth look at what he spoke of. now if only i can put some of this great stuff in action!


cruel, cruel summer

50 days until labor day. as far as i'm concerned it's 50 too many.

i hate heat. i truly dislike summer. actually, the only good thing about summer is the fact that it precedes fall. ah, fall. that glorious season of stunning colors, good coffee and cooler weather all wrapped up in the excitement that always preceeds the holiday season.

but again, i'm getting ahead of myself. sometimes it's so difficult to live in the moment; to embrace even the little moments. i'm sure that i've missed some during one of my "i hate summer" tirades over the past few days.

this is my challenge for this week: to live, regardless of temperature.

"Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them." ~Dion Boucicault


about me

in her timeless book, gift from the sea, anne morrow lindbergh wrote,
i began these pages for myself, in order to think out my own particular pattern of living, my own individual balance of life, work and human relationships. and since i think best with a pencil in my hand, i started naturally to write...
and here, in my blog, i cannot hope for more.

i am a girl with a mission to live, write, laugh, read, create, travel, inspire and be mistaken for a native parisienne, all while loving God to the distraction of her life.

taken by my friend nour aziz, at the auschwitz museum
poland, july 2009


contact me

should you want to email me, you can do so at misunderstood {at} sympatico {dot} ca.

or you can find me on twitter.

or, if i'm really, really lucky, you can find me in paris.

good luck.


time flies

this weekend i was one of the chaperones for the student ministries grade 8 trip to niagara falls, and it was a blast. being my family's favorite vacation destination, i've spend a good amount of time there over the years, and going back is always a pleasant assault of memories. some things have changed so much (the huge hershey's chocolate store is a definite plus!) and some things haven't changed at all, and that just makes me so happy. the flying saucer restaurant is still there...gosh, how much did john, doug & i love eating there? dad & his meatball subs...

what a fun life it's been so far.

"We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it." George Eliot


ill-matched threads

since the moment i first read rainier maria rilkes' 'the man watching', i knew i had found my favorite poet. it's been confirmed again with the reading of "the book of hours: love poems to God". i have not yet finished the book, it has a way of decimating me when i least expect it.

here is a highlight.

she who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth--
it's she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration.

where the one guest is you.
in the softness of the evening
it's you she receives.

you are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues
with each disclosure you encompass more
as she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you.

this is my prayer for today: to stretch beyond what limits me...


pursuing beans

okay, so i'm a coffee addict.

if i had to defend myself i would say that i am addicted to the experience, and i merely enjoy the substance. but i don't have to defend myself.

one morning not long ago, i had some extra time to kill before i needed to be at work, enough time to make the trek down to starbucks. it was a grey, nondescript kind of day, and a caramel macchiato would have definitely made an improvement. as i pulled in to the only starbucks with a drive-thru in the area i noticed it was uncharacteristically dark, and while the sign next to the door clearly stated that this cafe opened at 7am, someone had neglected to get the memo to everyone involved.

by the time i had gotten out of my car to pull on the door to see if, perhaps, this was just a cruel trick, and there was indeed coffee brewing inside, four other cars had gathered in the parking lot, all with the same goal.

the only logical thing to do at that point was to travel the 34 seconds west, to the next closest starbucks, so i got back into my car & did just that, the lead camel in this coffee caravan. as i cut through the theatre parking lot, marveling at my enterprise, and planning to be the first into the store so that no more time than necessary would separate me from my coffee, i couldn't help but feel a little bit smug.

as i pulled up to the second darkened cafe, i couldn't help but think that perhaps it was some sort of conspiracy. five cars had turned into seven. seven cars carrying people who just wanted their morning coffee. seven cars shot down again.

it was as if the coffee gods were throwing a challenge: how far were we willing to go? never one to back down to a challenge, for me, in that instant it became not about the caffeinated substance itself, but rather the quest to attain what had been so far denied. i watched as some gave up, driving away defeated, to whatever their day had in store. but i wasn't about to let it beat me.

the next starbucks was about six minutes down the road, so i headed off in that direction, now with only two cars behind. but it was no longer about winning, now it was about the simple quest for coffee and the refusal to be denied.

twelve minutes later i was back on the road and headed for work, coffee firmly resting in the drink holder of the car and proud of accomplishing what had turned into a journey of sorts when it hit me.

what if i pursued God with the same tenacity that i did that caramel macchiato? what if i refused to let discouragement and set backs derail me, and just doggedly refused to be satisfied by anything less than truth, justice and the passionate pursuit of my Creator? what if i refused to let the way things are determine the way they could be?

what if...

grande non-fat caramel macchiato.


a beginning of awareness

life is so fleeting, so fast. and so few guarantees...or at least good guarantees.

if any of us had to sign up for this life thing, we would probably think twice before putting our signature on the dotted line. is there anything else we choose to do that is so uncertain & so unrelentingly steady? i like anna nalick's analogy in 'breathe' that 'life's like an hourglass glued to the table'.

there are only two responses: sit and watch the sand slip away & lament all that is lost, or forget the instrument & hit the road, living hard & full until your time runs out. the former is easy, the latter is living.

make the most of every moment.

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