12.31.2008

three nameless men

i'm still on my journey through the gospels, and will admit that i've not gotten as far as i'd have liked to. i'm still in the gospel of luke (the one i started in), but it is clear that from Jesus' standpoint, one simply cannot be a follower of him without being a disciple.

this reality, for anyone who has been a Christ-follower for any period of time isn't really news... but sadly, most of the time, many tend to live like these two things have little in common.

this morning, as i read chapter 9, i came across three conversations Jesus had at the end of the chapter. each conversation happened with a different, unnamed man, and while each was different, Jesus response was very much the same.
nameless man #1: "i will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus: "foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

Jesus: "follow me."
nameless man #2: "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."
Jesus: "let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

nameless man #3: "i will follow you, Lord, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family."
Jesus: "no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
three men. three different requests... and it seems to me, three different things that we tend to hold on to tighter than we hold on to God.

first, our security.
second, our responsibilities.
third, our reputation.

if you're anything like me, this cuts right to the heart, and leaves me quoting my small group's special paraphrase of Isaiah 6:5, "i suck."

Jesus never once sugar-coated the path for those who follow him. why on earth do we?

12.30.2008

boredom's fruit

this morning, here in airdrie, alberta, there hasn't been a whole lot going on. so, what do i decide to do?

well, you're looking at it. this new blog design, a template by pannasmontata templates, compliments my somewhat whimsical mood for the day.

i probably should stop ignoring my family now, and start getting ready to go to calgary. or do something about the suitcases that seem to have exploded all over the room that i have commandeered. or maybe even eat breakfast.

it really is a good thing that i don't own a laptop...

12.25.2008

Emmanuel

it's christmas morning, and as i sit here in the dark at my parent's place, i have to admit that i feels less like christmas, and more like i just finished running a marathon with my whole life.

usually my christmas morning, pre-family awakening posts are of my favorite for the year, but today, i don't seem to be very inspired. perhaps due to the pace of my life these past weeks, or lack of sleep, or the fact that i haven't had much time to do ANY writing at all lately...excuses all.

but the fact remains that today we celebrate the birth of Emmanuel, 'God with us', and i don't know about you, but of all the names referring to Jesus in the Bible, this one is my favorite. probably because i need all the reminder i can get that in spite of what madness, busyness or banality that life throws at me, i am never alone.

Our God is with us...

12.21.2008

consolation...

i just realized that i am choosing to trust God for a situation that has been haunting me, not because he is God and trustworthy, but because i know that if i don't trust him, i will go crazy worrying about it.

do you think it matters why we choose to trust?

hello, old friend

listening: over the rhine's snow angels
drinking: starbucks' christmas blend
reading: the gospel of luke


it feels like a million years since last i sat down to write. to give you a bit more clarity into my life this month, let me tell you that i just noticed yesterday that the calendar on my refrigerator that i {usually} write everything in my life down on, still says 'november'. i probably should fix that.

anyway, once again, i have been derailed by francis chan's crazy love. this book is seriously wrecking me...which, to be honest, is a good, albeit painful, thing.

in the chapter 'serving leftovers to a holy God', francis chan asks his readers the question, 'can you be a christian without being a disciple?' then proceeds to challenge them to put down his book, and read the gospels to get your own answer for the question.

i am sure if any Christ follower answered this question off the top of their heads, the answer would be 'no.' but the question that immediately follows that is, why don't more of us actually live like we believe that this is true?

this whole thing has begun a time of crazy introspection and examination in my life, and over these holiday weeks, my goal is to read all four gospels, and use them as a kind of litmus test for my life. so far, i'm not stacking up well.

thank God for grace...

12.11.2008

i'm still alive!

it seems as though it's been a lifetime since i've last posted. since december 2, i have had eight meetings, painted five four-foot canvas, finished writing {and rewriting, editing and re-editing} the text for christmas in the city, temporarily moved offices, had four rehearsals & one CITC performance, and drank more cafe americanos than any one person should have in that time frame... maybe it has been a lifetime!

all this to say, i am done much of what has made this month madness. and will be back writing soon...very soon.

thanx for your patience!

12.02.2008

just enough...

last night at small group, inspired by a francis chan video, my small group and i talked about committing this whole month to praying at least once a day the prayer the found in proverbs 30:7-9.

Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

give me only my daily bread.
this prayer touches so many things...so many things that if i'm honest i'm not entirely excited to face. contentment issues. trust issues. dependence/independence issues. but at its heart, lies the question that we keep coming back to every week during 'the story' series at PORTICO, can God be trusted? and a question that each of us must wrestle with until we can live in peace with the answer.

so, our plan is to individually pray this prayer every day this month, and for those not brave enough to want to pray it today, their prayer will be to ask God for the strength and courage to pray such a bold, life-altering prayer.

in all of this, the words of gary haugen (ijm) from the leadership summit 2008 keep playing and replaying in the back of my mind:
Jesus didn't come to make us safe. he came to make us brave.

this is my prayer this morning...make us brave, Lord.

12.01.2008

speaking of waiting...

for those of you who don't know, i have started a separate devotional blog, primarily for the purpose of this season of advent, which began yesterday, but also because i've been wanting to do something like this for some time.

it's called pieces of devotion, and please feel free to join me on this advent journey.

11.28.2008

still waiting...

perhaps it is in preparation for the coming season of advent {or just the nature of life itself}, but i have been drawn to and seemingly drawn by all things that have to do with waiting. so, it could only be fitting that tonight, as i prepared to shut down the computer and head to bed, did i stumble across a Rilke poem on this very subject, called the wait. enjoy.
it is life in slow motion,
it's the heart in reverse,
it's a hope-and-a-half:
too much and too little at once.

it's a train that suddenly
stops with no station around,
and we can hear the cricket,
and, leaning out the carriage

door, we vainly contemplate
a wind we feel that stirs
the blooming meadows, the meadows
made imaginary by this stop.

translated by A. Poulin

11.26.2008

missing...

every year, this {real} thanksgiving week makes me feel like i am missing something. seriously, we are so close to the US it's a wonder we cannot smell all the turkey cooking from here! it's like knowing that there's a huge party going on next door with parades and football, and for some obscure reason, you cannot be invited.

i hate being left out.

speaking of things beyond our control, what are you doing about the things that are within your realm of control? if you're anything like me, you spend way too much time focusing on that which cannot be changed, while letting the opportunities of things that you do have the power to affect get away.

...encouraging someone going through a tough spot.
...simply spending time with your friends or family.
...buying shoes for someone who has none.
...spending time reading God's book or simply hanging with him.
...planning how to be intentionally relationship-focused this holiday instead of gift focused... and then use that money to buy shoes.

oh, did i mention that you could buy shoes? we have 34 days to go, and so far have raised the funds for only 6,732 pairs of shoes out of our goal of 50,000. that's like a million shoes still to go. i'll admit, when i first heard about this project, i thought that this would be a piece of cake. that's only 25,000 people sharing $5...and almost everyone has $5. but, as in all of life, things rarely work out as i expect them to.

so, let me encourage you that whatever you do this {real} thanksgiving week, be intentional. be relational. and do something, anything, that will cost you, but will enhance the world in which you are a citizen.

11.24.2008

beautiful explanation

perry noble explains, better than i ever could, why i refuse to ask a guy out...


Beautiful_02- Single Guys Outtake from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

good question

last week i went on a road trip with some of my fellow church staff to the catalyst one day conference in granger, indiana. it was a great conference, and i am still sorting out the things that craig groeschel and andy stanley taught, and i think i probably will be for a while.

one of my highlights of the trip was the conversation we had in the van on the way there. we covered a boatload of topics, and i cannot even begin to expand on it, simply suffice it to say that it was completely remarkable.

the thing that stands out in my mind, however, was a question that owen black asked me as we drove through my old stomping grounds of windsor, ontario. since my family moved to alberta, i haven't been back to windsor in probably five or more years, so seeing a place that was at one time so familiar, and now so different, was slightly dali-esque. as we drove down huron line, owen asked me,
if someone offered to drop me off anywhere in the city to do whatever i wanted for however long, where would that place be?

of course i had an answer immediately {my friend deb's house... i truly believe that a couple hours in her kitchen talking and drinking coffee with her would be more therapeutic than a week of vacation!}, but what struck me was what a great question it was. and how often in life we get asked really great questions whose answers reveal part of us to others and ourselves... but also, more importantly, how infrequently i ask really great questions, to get to know those in my life better.

thank you, owen. you have helped me see how much more deliberate i need to be in all my relationships. i owe you one!

11.23.2008

repetition

when in the course of a week i hear about something once, unless it is spectacular, it rarely gets a second thought. having it mentioned twice gives it more credence. but coming upon the same previously unknown poem three times in the course of five days, all from different sources is definitely cause to start really paying attention.

it started with phil aud mentioning the poem while talking about his new eugene peterson book, tell it slant, while we were in indiana. on friday i ran across the same poem in a magazine. then, last night, i was looking at some online writing courses from seattle pacific university, and, there it was...the same poem in the margin of the page.

this is the poem, by emily dickinson:
Tell all the Truth but tell it slant -
Success in Curcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
the Truth's superb suprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind -

i have never been one of those people who has a natural patience with people. if i understand something, then i expect that those around me should also have the same basic understanding. but i am coming to realize, and this poem is another step in this journey, that my patience level for those around me needs to grow exponentially if i am to be even the tiniest reflection of my God.

so, i am learning to tell it slant...to not jump right in and hit people hard with truth, but rather, ease others into truth, as Jesus did, using stories and infinite patience.

11.21.2008

familar ground...

we've arrived home from granger, IN, where we attended the catalyst one day conference. while i was a little too close to the dreaded notre dame, AND i had to go through the very dreaded state of ohio, it was a great trip. both the conference and the conversations en route were mind-expanding and much food for thought and growth.

i am tired. so very tired. so that is all you're getting for now.

good night...

11.17.2008

gratefulness...

as usual, tonight my living room was filled with the laughter that has always accompanied my small group. we are a group that knows little of solemnity, and as someone who has laughter as one of her core values, this is a very good thing.

tonight, we welcomed two new members...and even though it was their very first time, they both fit in so beautifully to our madness, that yes, i already consider them part of us.

each young woman in the group has added a dimension to my life that did not exist before i met them. each of them has helped to make me a better person, a better Christ follower, and for that, i will always be immensely grateful for the fact that they let me share in their lives, and their own life journeys.

as always, Rilke's words say better how i feel about each member of my small group:
“i'm so glad you're here. . .it helps me realize how beautiful my world is.”

11.13.2008

what's on your feet?

right now, what do you have on your feet?

when is the last time you thought about what you put on your feet, beyond whether or not they match what you are wearing?

let me digress a moment...

i had lunch with a friend recently, and we were talking about a family that we had heard of who recently arrived in canada from a bad situation in their home land. they were in need of things for a new baby, and my friend had arranged for a number of items for them, they just had to come pick them up.

the man arrived in a tiny car, in no way adequate to get the items that had been gathered for him. had it even been possible to fit everything in the vehicle, it would have taken no less than five trips, and his gas tank was already below empty.

my friend felt horrible, having known that this couple had no money and extremely few possessions, to have not been able to arrange transport {which she did end up finding, and all the items arrived at the family's apartment}. she felt that she should have realized the gravity of the situation.

but as i thought about it, i realized that given the situation, i don't think my friend was being insensitive, i think that like so many of us born and raised in north america, we have no idea what it means to truly be in need. we don't understand, because we've never been there.

i have no framework for real poverty. my mind has no construct for true need, because i have never truly, materially been in need. even in my poorer days, when i got hungry, there was always kraft dinner, crashing at the parent's, or the knowledge that gramma would come to town soon and we'd go grocery shopping. i have never gone without something that i have needed...and for this i am so thankful.

but if i stop at simply being thankful, then i have grossly missed the point. if the realization of how much i have, in contrast to others with whom i share this planet, does not spur me to action, then what is the purpose of being thankful at all? am i truly thankful for what i have, or am i merely thankful that i have what someone else doesn't? how can i ignore someone in need, while acknowledging the fact that i have plenty? what would God think of such a terribly selfish attempt at gratitude?

back to your feet...

in the past four days, the 50,000 pairs in 50 days challenge has had 3,726 pairs of the 50,000 we need donated for people who have no shoes. we still need...well... LOTS of shoes {trust me, this will go much quicker if you do the math!}. but i believe that when we begin to understand, even in a small way, what it means to truly be in need, we can make this happen.

talk about the need. talk about this project, or find one that you believe in and are passionate about, and go make a difference in some one's life from all the you have been blessed with.

don't be merely thankful for all the gifts that God has given you.

do something with it.

11.12.2008

everything or nothing?

after our discussion on a Christ follower's responsibility to be good stewards of our planet as well as care for the souls of those living on it, i have to wonder, with all the worthy causes and needs out there, how does one sanely decide what their part will be?

do you ever feel like caring for one thing, be it shoes, clean water or whatever, means that you have to care for EVERYTHING? it seems, at least in my life, when i start to feel like i need to do everything, it becomes far too easy to do nothing.

how do you decide what gets your time, energy and money?

11.11.2008

rethinking...

i love this video. it's exactly where my heart is these days. will you join the conspiracy?

11.10.2008

dreaming big

tonight at small group, we finished up mark batterson's wild goose chase. i've already blogged about it, so i won't go into too much detail, but the book ends with one lingering, haunting question.
what are you waiting for?

having begun to dream with God again, and discounting all of the usual culprits that tend to be the answer to the question {fear, failure, assumptions, etc.}, the question too easily causes the heart to skip a beat and lose any sort of courage that had been mustered up.

it is also too easy to discount small steps taken towards a big dream. perhaps all the details aren't figured out, and the reality is, when we do have all the details drawn out in pen, something happens that appends our initial plans, and we need to hit costco to buy liquid paper by the gallon. but we need to celebrate the small steps...even if that step is simply allowing yourself to dream again.

i've quoted this rilke poem before, and to be honest, i'm sure i'll quote it again. i come back to it regularly in attempting to figure out my life, so i will share it with you tonight. i hope that your heart, too, will echo these words.

I am praying again, Awesome One.

You hear me again, as words
from the depths of me
rush toward you in the wind.

I’ve been scattered in pieces,
torn by conflict,
mocked by laughter,
washed down in drink.

In alleyways I sweep myself up
out of garbage and broken glass.
With my half-mouth I stammer you,
who are eternal in your symmetry.
I lift to you my half-hands
in wordless beseeching, that I may find again
the eyes with which I once beheld you.

I am a house gutted by fire
where only the guilty sometimes sleep
before the punishment that devours them
hounds them out in the open.

I am a city by the sea
sinking into a toxic tide.
I am strange to myself, as though someone unknown
had poisoned my mother as she carried me.

It’s here in all the pieces of my shame
that now I find myself again.
I yearn to belong to something, to be contained
in an all-embracing mind that sees me
as a single thing.
I yearn to be held
in the great hands of your heart–
oh let them take me now.
Into them I place these fragments, my life,
and you, God–spend them however you want.

–Barrows and Macy, trans. 1996. Rilke, Rainer Maria. Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. Riverhead Books.

finally!

it's finally here!

The 50,000 Pairs in 50 Days Challenge

if you know me, you know that almost more than anything else in the world, i love shoes. i love boots. i love pretty much all things that go on feet {with the possible exception of cowboy boots, but that is more a principle thing}. so, imagine my sheer joy to discover that there is a way that to help those less fortunate by meeting the hugely practical need of providing people with shoes!? trust me, all the village peasants were singing and dancing in the streets of Streetsville...


the goal is to raise the necessary funds to purchase 50,000 pairs of shoes for people who may have never owned a pair of shoes in their lives, in only 50 days! i've already bought a few pairs myself {i couldn't buy only two pairs, i have a rep to uphold!} and would love it if you would join me in this endeavor.

all you have to do is click on the graphic above or on the sidebar and donate only $5 to buy two pairs of shoes!

Soles4Souls is an international charity dedicated to providing free footwear to those in desperate need... and i don't know about you, but in my books, that's as super cool as it gets!

drop back here after you make your donation & let me know you joined the challenge!

if you are already involved in a project of your own this holiday season, please know that there is no pressure to join another one, but rather let me know about it! i would love to pray for you in your endeavor to help those less fortunate.

11.09.2008

backward

in the twitterverse and blogosphere i am hearing a great deal of speculation about what impact barack obama's presidency will have on the church...

shouldn't we, as the body of Christ, be less concerned with someone else's influence, and more concerned with the impact each of us is making on our world daily?

and on that note, be sure to check back here tomorrow for the big, shiny, exciting new project i am involved in! you won't want to miss it!

11.06.2008

tired...

tonight, i am tired.

but even though i am going to bed early, i think i will be up for a while, as i have a book waiting for me.

the book? it is a beauty called take this bread, about sara miles, an athiest, lesbian, left-wing journalist who found God through wandering into a church one sunday and taking communion. it seems about as unlikely as anything you could imagine, but i am intrigued by the beauty in that.

i think that too often we feel the need to be God's PR people, trying to get him better press, when, as is illustrated by stories like ms. miles', God doesn't need our help. he only needs us to love him to the distraction of our lives.

what are you reading?

11.05.2008

waiting...

as far as season go, i am a big fan of fall. it means the oppressive heat of summer is over, and sweaters and boots and falling leaves and the promise of snow is upon us. but one of the things i most love about fall, is that it ushers in my favorite time of the liturgical calendar, advent.

advent is a time of expectation and waiting. the word itself means 'coming' or 'arrival', both signifying the lack of something for those doing the waiting. originally it was the israelites, awaiting their Savior. today, the bride of Christ awaits his return. but if we are honest with ourselves, we are all waiting for something in our lives.
  • a family member to return.
  • a dream to be realized.
  • healing.
  • reconciliation.
  • a promise to be fulfilled.
waiting is not an easy pass time, because it reminds us that we are lacking something now. many don't want to be reminded of what they wait for, or even acknowledge it, as it almost seems like setting oneself up for failure, if the awaited thing never actually arrives.

advent asks us to slow down, and remember that as long as we are on earth, we will be lacking something. there is no way around it. and this paying attention can be painful. when you slow down enough that you can almost hear the israelites' heart cry, 'o come, o come Emmanuel', you can hear your own heart's hollow echo of the things that it still waits for.

but the beauty of advent is this: the awaited Messiah came. even though he was waited on for centuries... four hundred long years of waiting, painful silence between God and man, and even though he did not come as he was expected, Jesus still arrived right on time. the Messiah came, and while he was nothing that we thought he should be, he was everything that we needed.

so, whatever it is that you find yourself waiting for, take heart. the God who has his own timetable, who is more concerned with what we need than what we want, who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine {eph. 3:20} has not forgotten you.
wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord. {psalm 27:14}

11.04.2008

apparently...

...today is video day. i found this beauty at beyondrelevance.com.

further thoughts on earthly stewardship

to add to our discussion from last wednesday, this is the video enn mentioned...

10.30.2008

wait

it's astounding how many things i wait for in the course of a day.

i wait:
  • in line at starbucks for my americano.
  • for my computer {some days more than others}.
  • for buses.
  • on coworkers.
  • for dinner to finish cooking.
  • for a friend to call me back.
but of all the things i wait for, usually with at least a semblance of patience, i seldom remember to wait on God.
i say to myself, "the Lord is my portion; therefore i will wait for him." the Lord is good to those whose hope is in him. ~lamentations 3:24-25

nothing else is nearly so important.

10.29.2008

one or the other? or can it be both?

i read yesterday that starbucks is doubling it's commitment to purchase fair trade certified coffee. no one would argue that this is a bad thing. according to paul rice, "it will send kids to school, bring clean water to farming communities and enable struggling farmers to put food on the table." {fairtradeusa.org}

this started me thinking about what a Christ-follower's responsibility should be in the stewardship of our world. given that we know that 'the earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it..." {psalm 24:1} should we, as followers of the owner not be immensely concerned with what he has left us as guardians over?

conversely, i've heard people say that if the world was more interested in saving people than saving the whales, it would be a better place.

what should a Christ-follower's response be? should it be one or the other... or should it be both?

and where does something like fair trade coffee come into it? it seems that purchasing fair trade coffee would be the best of both worlds for someone who is concerned with both the globe and the individual souls in it.

what do you think?

10.27.2008

doneness

it's too easy to forget that we humans are not like cakes. yes, we may have layers, but there is no one point in our lives when we are definitively done. technically, we never actually arrive, at least not on this side of eternity.

there are moments when i cannot decide whether this is the good or the bad news...

fairy tales...

i was rereading mark batterson's wild goose chase for tonight's small group on my way to work this morning, the chapter about coming out of the cage of failure. he talks about God's ability to turn the tragedies we face into fairy tales.

and, of course, it happened to remind me of one of my favorite chesterton quotes:
"fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
add to this, mark batterson's word from WGC,
"if you feel like you're stuck in a tragedy, here's my advice: give Jesus complete editorial control over your life. you have to quit trying to write your own story. and you need to accept Jesus not only as Lord and Savior but also as Author. if you allow him to begin writing his-story through your life, it'll give the tragedy a fairy-tale ending. i'm not promising a life without heartache or pain or loss, but i am promising a different ending." {page125}

and if you really want a trip, add to this donald miller's let story guide you, and you've got enough food for thought and growth to keep you busy for at least the rest of the year!

10.24.2008

it's been a week...

i've said it before that i am not a TGIF kind of girl, but i have to say that tonight, i am so intensely grateful that it is friday!

it has been a week. nothing horrible or great, just a whole lot of stuff has been packed into these few days.

small groups on sunday & monday nights. a million loads of laundry on tuesday. meeting at PORTICO on wednesday. a long commute home last night, and a SUPER long commute home tonight. i am tired, cold and hungry.

i cannot even think about sunday right now. sunday is filled with church and meetings and photo shoots and who knows what else, but what i can think about, is tomorrow. saturday.

ah, saturday. tomorrow, i will write {sadly, for the first time this week}. tomorrow i will clean my sad, neglected home, and put the laundry i did on tuesday night away. tomorrow i will read, and not feel guilty.

tonight? tonight i feel the extreme need to curl up on my sofa, watch a few episodes of the gilmore girls, and eat pizza, which i will make momentarily. not the most exciting of friday nights, but after this week, and especially this afternoon, it is vital.

perhaps tomorrow i will actually have something to write about!

10.22.2008

happy birthday daddy!

today, my father turns 66. i haven't called him yet, but given the fact that it's only 4:38am in alberta, i think a birthday call now would be a bit unkind.

i love my dad. i love that i have inherited his sense of humor, and his sense of the ridiculous. i love that all of the truly funny moments in my life have had something to do with him. {"why did we have kids?" "and why four?" "hhgghggugggh?" [you had to be there, either when it originally happened, or on any of the many recreations of that moment that my brothers & i have had!]} i love that i grew up thinking that my dad knew everything, and that after a brief stint as a teenager, i am now okay to concede that he's a whole lot smarter than me.

i love the example he set as to how to love his wife. i love that together, as a team, he and i cannot win a game of pictionary to save our lives. i love that sometimes, when he gets angry, he yells in a french accent {that isn't there otherwise}. speaking of french, i love that he has endured my mother's deliberate butchering of his native language throughout the years. i love that he shared his passion to travel and experience the world with me. i love watching him with his grandchildren, who adore him. i love that he loves Jesus.

joyeux anniversaire, daddy! have a brilliant day!

love,

your favorite daughter

10.21.2008

brilliance

my sister-in-law is a freaking genius.

the second picture shows cupcakes that she made for my dad's birthday...yes, cupcakes....not spaghetti!

loralie, once again, you amaze me!



10.20.2008

just anyone...

we talked about grace in small group tonight, and the general consensus is that grace is not something that is easily understood or accepted...mostly because our finite, limited, human minds just don't get it.

i want to be someone who doesn't allow what i don't understand to keep me from obedience, or becoming who it is i am to become. being limited by my own understanding seems a terribly prosaic way to live... and too much like something that just anyone can do.

and i really hate the thought of being just anyone...

10.18.2008

strange sort of envy

erynne, nichole, joash & i just finished watching the movie ratatouille.

how strange that i could envy an animated rat, simply because he lives in paris... and i do not.

sigh...

10.13.2008

to give thanks...

...for scarves, and the weather to wear them.

...for turkey and prime rib dinners, and the friends who invited me to share them.

...for my family, who while knowing and {relatively} understanding me, still choose to love me.

...for bath & body works' sweet cinnamon pumpkin.

...for the fact that we've made it this far into a year that has been so hard.

...for books, and their authors, and the places they take me to, geographically, spiritually and emotionally.

...that even though i always want to be somewhere else, i know exactly where that somewhere else is. {11 rue des ecoles, paris, france, 75005}

...for a friend, who even though her own thanksgiving day is still two months away, wished me a 'happy thanksgiving.'

...for black & white toile.

...for coffee and creme brulee {together or separately}.

...for all that is unsettled within me, and how it reminds me that this is not my final destination, and to not get too comfortable here.

10.11.2008

feeling the love...

i just got off of the phone with my brother derek, whose sole purpose in calling was to let me know that my michigan wolverines got beaten today by toledo. yes, toledo ohio.

ick.

pouring lemon juice in a paper cut may have been less painful.

10.09.2008

dichotomy

it's lunchtime.

i'm sitting at my desk eating some tasteless frozen entree thing, while reading a book called paris in mind. the chapter i am reading? it's called paris' haute chocolaterie. and yes, it is about chocolate. and paris. and chocolate in paris.

does anyone else see something terribly, terribly wrong here?

a brioche doree chocolate banana tart, taken {and eaten} in paris in april. *sigh*

10.07.2008

it's beginning to look a lot like...

i have a job that, at least to a certain extent, requires me to live in the future. case in point, here i am, a week before thanksgiving, and the thing that i have thought most about, and worked most on today, has been christmas.

while i love christmas, and thinking about the yuletide season can hardly be construed as a hardship, for a girl who struggles with contentment, this 'living in the future' can be challenging. and on the eve of {canadian} thanksgiving, i suppose it is a good thing to remind myself that as fleeting as contentment can be, it must be sought.

being thankful for what i have in this present moment. not wanting to be anywhere else {including paris, when i always want to be in paris}. trusting that God will provide all my needs, and that when my wants happen to get met, it is a great blessing.

it always bugged me when the apostle paul said, in philippians 4, "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation..." but he never shares what that secret is! i've always thought that it would have been so much better if he could have shared his secret, laid out three steps to contentment. for years i was ticked off by this passage. i felt like paul was holding out on me, keeping the secret i so desperately needed just out of reach.

but while the three easy steps to contentment may not be a reality, a glimpse of the 'secret' is found at the end of that paragraph, when paul says, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." which is such a good thing, because i have tried to be content in my own strength, and have failed miserably, many times over.

and because my good friend g.k. chesterton couldn't let me down, here is what he has to say on the subject:
"true contentment is a thing as active as agriculture. it is the power of getting out of any situation all that there is in it. it is arduous and it is rare."
anyone can be discontent. how i hate the though of being just anyone...

10.05.2008

i want my mommy...

what is it about being the least bit sick that can turn a grown woman to a whining child wanting to be taken care of by her mother?

i don't know the answer, but it's where i am tonight...

10.03.2008

happy plane friday

this morning, as i waited in streetsville for the first of the buses to bring me to work, i saw nine...yes NINE happy planes taking off from pearson airport. because the sky was so dark, i could see planes from two different runways heading off to their glorious destinations.

so, i spent the rest of my commute figuring out the nine places where i would happily board a plane right now to head off on an adventure to. these are in no particular order (except, of course, for the first one):
  1. paris, france
  2. new york city
  3. romania (especially bucovnia & transylvania)
  4. minsk, belarus
  5. calgary, alberta
  6. the south of france
  7. wales/scotland/england
  8. poland (especially gdansk, częstochowa and warsaw)
  9. reykjavik, iceland
where do you want to go?

10.02.2008

blank

i've sat here at my computer for almost an hour now, hoping to write something.

during the last 60 minutes i have:
  • checked my email.
  • thought about going to bed.
  • checked out three new blogs.
  • thought about cleaning my kitchen.
  • looked at the two books sitting on my desk, wishing i were awake enough to read.
  • checked my email again.
  • thought about going to bed again.
  • started writing this.
  • made sure i had all the necessary ingredients for a pumpkin pie.
  • fixed numerous spelling mistakes.
it's been an eventful although not productive hour, but when one is as tired as i seem to be, i don't think there is much hope to actually accomplish anything.

so, i will end this post with voltaire's only too true words:
"one always speaks badly when one has nothing to say."


10.01.2008

my dream car

thanks to the good people over at the Paris Marais Newsletter, i have finally found my dream car. it is a prototype of the 1007 model by Peugeot with Louis XVI seats and toile de jouy paint. it's pretty...

9.29.2008

so be it...

i have such difficulty falling asleep after small group on monday nights. it is such a privilege to lead such a talented, passionate group of women... i am not exaggerating when i say that there is enough God-given talent and potential in my living room every monday night to change the world. i am blessed to be a part of their journeys.

tonight, as usual, after our discussion, my mind is racing. but it seems to have landed on this franciscan blessing that i first heard from craig groeschel at the leadership summit. this is my prayer for all my girls tonight:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

amen, girls. amen.

9.27.2008

the story...

it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. {jane austen}
in order to tide myself over until LOST begins again in january, i was doing the surfthechannel thing and getting caught up on the episodes that i'd either missed or forgotten from season 4. then one day, almost a month ago, i noticed a new show, lost in austen, and was immediately intrigued. while in calgary this summer i had purchased a book by the same title, reminiscent of the 'choose your own adventure' books from my childhood, the reader becomes elizabeth bennet, whose goal is to not only marry well, but marry for love. {let me say, that on my first journey through the book, i did indeed marry mr. darcy...sigh...}

anyway, i digress, so i checked out the show, and sure enough, it is the story of a young woman, amanda, from london in 2008, who is startled one evening to find elizabeth bennet in her bathroom. apparently there is a door behind the bathtub which leads directly to lizzie's house. while checking out the unusual occurrence, with elizabeth in amanda's london apartment and amanda in the bennet's home, the door closes and amanda walks into the beginning of what should have been pride and prejudice. and that is where it all goes wrong.

given that we all know how the story goes, when lizzie's absence and amanda's presence turns the whole thing upside down, you can't help but feel that something terrible is happening. {spoiler alert} especially when jane marries the creepiest mr. collins EVER! but as someone who fancies herself as waiting for her own mr. darcy, the ending, and generally the experience of the mini series was highly enjoyable.

but all this about altering story lines started me wondering about the storyline of our own lives. life is not a predetermined book like pride and prejudice, but rather one more akin to lost in austen, where our own decisions factor into the equation, making every one's journey unique. but because we don't have the original text to compare our lives to, we will never know how one decision, however small it seemed at the time, may have completely altered the trajectory of life as we know it.

sometimes is it easy to become discouraged by the mistakes and poor choices we've made along the way, and spend too much time wondering what life could have been had we done things differently. and depending upon the situation you now find yourself in, it is too easy to go nowhere while ruing the past. anyone who has tried it will tell you, you cannot move forward while facing behind...who are we kidding, i'll tell you. i've tried it way too often, and have the scars and bruises to prove it.

in a sermon entitled let story guide you, donald miller quotes a book that i cannot remember the title of and says that "God takes our mistake and starts from there." this is a reminder i need daily.

one last thought i'll leave you with...in the same sermon, donald miller says that when faced with a decision, a good question to ask is whether or not we want this thing that we are deciding about in our story. look at it as you would twenty years in the future looking back, is this something that you want written in the book of your life, or not...and then act accordingly.

what is your story?

9.23.2008

why?

at small group last night we were talking about why it is so difficult to actually pick up and read our Bibles with any kind of regularity. and when the question, 'why is this so difficult' was posed, there really wasn't an answer that emerged.

this has left me with somewhat of a 'splinter in my mind' {the matrix}, while not quite driving me mad, it is causing me to wonder exactly why it is that it is so difficult to be consistent. seriously, it's not like we are hopeless people who don't hold down jobs, pay our bills, have relationships, and do what we need to to be part of our world. and we all believe that reading God's word and prayer are vital to being the people we are called to be.

so, the question remains, why?

while not discounting the spiritual {"we fight not against flesh and blood..."}, i well know that far too often the biggest obstacle to my own spiritual growth is me. degrees of laziness and procrastination. other things perceived as more exciting to read or watch. an overcrowded schedule and perpetual tiredness. the list goes on...

it's easier to look for a solution when you fully understand the problem...which is probably why this is still bothering me. in the past year i've taken different steps... buying the books of the Bible, embracing different spiritual disciplines, etc., and while these have changed, and continue to refine me, this question still remains.

why do you think these things are so difficult?
what do you do to 'keep the romance alive' in your relationship with God?

9.16.2008

sweet tweet

i make no secret that i love Twitter, the mini-blog site. it's like the status of facebook without the clutter and annoyance. but in the last few days, i've found a new reason to love my tweets, and that is with that discovery of twiturgy, liturgical readings throughout the day with a link to read scripture {a discovery i have flowerdust to thank for}.

i've only been following twiturgy for a few days now, but i cannot tell you how many times during these days, when i've received tweets that i've desperately needed to hear. "so don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. today's trouble is enough for today." that one came in last night, just before i went to bed. "may your kingdom come soon. may your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven," was an excellent reminder yesterday when i started to get overwhelmed by a situation.

clicking on the URL takes you to a page with daily scripture readings, the occasional poem, and sometimes a prayer. this one was from sunday, and is as perfect a prayer as i've ever heard:

Prayer for Illumination
Eternal God, let us see ourselves as you see us. Does our righteousness stem from love, or selfishness? Do our prayers spring genuinely, or from hypocrisy? Are our good deeds and spiritual disciplines the fruit of divine character, or a petty legalism? Are we truly your children, or merely playing the part? Our hearts are so often deceitful, confused; remove both false guilt and false righteousness, that we might see truly. And implant in our hearts the root of love, that our prayers, our giving, our fasting may all demonstrate true holiness and not selfish hypocrisy. Through Christ our Lord, Amen. {from the ashbury reader}
be sure to check it out, i don't think you'd be sorry. {oh, and if you become a Twitterite, let me know so i can follow you!}

9.15.2008

today...

“in the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there will never be another just like it again. today is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. it is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. if you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it. unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.” (frederick buechner)
and you probably thought it was just another monday...

9.14.2008

control issues

in today's my utmost for his highest reading, oswald chambers says that,
even the very smallest thing that we allow in our lives that is not under the control of the Holy Spirit is completely sufficient to account for spiritual confusion...
'even the very smallest thing...' so, i asked myself, what are those areas that i have not allowed the Holy Spirit to control, and lo and behold, they are the areas of my life that are a mess.

coincidence? i don't think so.

there are so many reasons that i have for not giving up control. feeling that i should be able to 'fix' my own life. giving up control seems like weakness. being a single woman living on my own, i feel the need to take care of myself. but the worst, and probably the most prevalent reason, is fear.

i really hate the fact that there are parts of my life so affected by fear, that it keeps me from completely trusting God. and the crazy thing is that this fear does not affect all of my life. i will go to a country where i don't speak the language, and know that God is with me and will take care of me, but at night, when i'm lying in the safety of my own bed, i find myself too often scheming up ways of taking care of some small need in my life, just in case God doesn't come through as i want him to, or when i want him to.

so, how does one resolve their long-standing control issues? i suppose just one minute at a time within the context of an examined life.

9.11.2008

happy birthday gram

september 11 means something different to me. while in no way diminishing the events of 2001, decades before, this day became special because it is the day that marjorie jean crease, my gramma, was born.

my gram was an amazing woman who lived a quiet, simple life. and like too many that visit this planet, her true value wasn't fully appreciated until after she left us. i remember writing in my journal on the day she died, that it seemed like just so much light was gone from our world.

so much of who i am today is because of this woman. she inspired me to write when i didn't even know i could. she believed in me when i could find nothing of any value in myself. she encouraged me to live my dreams, but to stay rooted where it mattered, with God and with family. she kicked my butt when i needed it, and she prayed. she prayed for me. a lot.

after she died, i remember selfishly feeling a loss, that she was no longer here praying, but was reminded, in the form of an e.m. bounds quote i had on a bulletin board, that,
"{prayer} is no fitful, short-lived thing. it is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. it is a voice which goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things. God shapes the world by it.

{prayers} are deathless. the lips that uttered them may be closed to death, the heart that felt them may have ceased to beat, but they live before God, and God’s heart is set on them and they outlive the lives of those who uttered them; they outlive a generation, outlive an age, outlive a world. that man is the most immortal who has done the most and the best service of calling on God. they are God heroes, God’s saints, God’s servants, God’s vicegerents.
i believe that her prayers still echo over my and my family's lives today.

on december 3, 2008 it will be 13 years since the sunday morning that she left us...and judging by the hole still in my heart, it hardly seems possible that it could be that long. to quote sandra mccracken in her song portadown station, i still hear her 'voice in my head, but i miss the sound'. sometimes more than i can still believe.

happy birthday, gram. i love you and miss you always.

9.09.2008

september



9.08.2008

sheer brilliance

"the grace of God means something like: here is your life. you might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you.”
~frederick buechner

broken

i think i am hopelessly broken.

not long ago i went to michigan to visit one of my favorite people ever, my best friend angie. angie and her family live a bit north of detroit, in a quiet and very pretty wooded area. it was late on a friday night, and as i turned off of I-96, my attention was caught by tiny lights at the side of the road. at first i thought that i was seeing things...clearly the drive had gotten to me.

but as i kept going down the dark road, i saw them again, and realized that i wasn't losing my mind, they were fireflies! hundreds of fireflies lined the roads as i drove to ang & todd's, practically a mini-firework welcoming committee. it was the most amazing thing, and all i could do was smile as i saw them illuminate, as if just for me.

the broken part is this: somewhere along the way, from the last time i had thought of fireflies, i had forgotten about them. not the amnesia type of forgetting, but the 'out of sight, out of mind' sort of forgetting, which, given how happy they make me is just plain sad.

why is it that i can remember every single negative remark directed at me for years, and yet i cannot remember how much i love fireflies? how is it even possible that i can remember cruel words hurled over a decade ago, but struggle to remember the kind words of a friend from last week? how can it be so much easier to remember hurt than to remember things that bring me joy?

how does one remember the things that they have a great propensity to forget?

9.07.2008

new beginnings

another thing that i love about fall is the fact that life goes back to normal.

even when i was in school, i hated summer, beyond the dreaded heat, it's the annoyance that the people you most wanted to see were away, or worked weird hours, and the fact that the usual routine of life was just tossed out the window. not that i'm such a big fan of routine for myself, but i have always had the selfish tendency to want the people in my life to be where i can find them. (note to self: need to work on that.)

but yesterday...yesterday i walked to the church to get the sermon presentation on the G5, then walked to starbucks for an americano, then went out with erynne, and then ended the day by hanging out with alicia, two people i have barely seen given the madness of summer. good, good times.

and, we start our small group after the summer's hiatus tomorrow night. i'm exceedingly glad we took the summer off, given the madness of this year, i definitely needed the break. but i'm excited to get going again. it looks like we have a new member (welcome, michelle!) and many of the old ones returning, and i cannot wait to see how we are going to be challenged to grow this year... because if there is anything that the book of job taught us last year, it is that the challenges will come.

and so, before i go get ready for my day, because this time of year always makes me yearn to see les miserables yet again, i will leave you with the timeless words of victor hugo...
have no fear of robbers or murderers. they are external dangers, petty dangers. we should fear ourselves. prejudices are the real robbers; vices the real murders. the great dangers are within us. why worry about what threatens our heads or purses? let us think instead of what threatens our souls.

9.03.2008

what i love about fall...

it's 7:02am. i've been up for about an hour and a half, a little later than usual, but this is one of those rare days when i can walk to work...and this fact, i love.

i know that i've annoyed some people with my extreme glee over the fact that at least according to my calendar, summer is over. all the teachers in my acquaintance, i believe, have collectively pooled their resources and put a contract out on my life. :-) so, in my defense, i will try to explain why i love fall so very much, beyond the fact that it means that summer is over, and won't be back for three whole seasons!

i love fall because:
  • the days are shorter. i love leaving for work when it is still dark outside, it makes me feel like i am being so productive, and getting so much more done. and conversely, i dislike going to bed when there is some semblence of light outside, which, given my occasional gramma-like bedtime, happens in the summer. i dislike feeling like i'm missing out on something, but not enough to not go to sleep when i'm tired.
  • the clothes are better. in the summer, you have to dress to stay cool. in the fall, you can dress how you want to.
  • the food is better. apple pie. apple strudel. apple crisp. sweet potato anything. pumpkin anything. not to mention the fact that because it is not sweltering outside, one can bake!
  • the colors are better. yes, green is okay (it is also michigan state's color, and that, in & of itself should tell you something is not right with the color), but oranges and reds and yellows, and leaves crunching under your feet as you walk...not to mention...
  • the smell of fall...
  • college football (in spite of the previously mentioned breakdown) whether or not i can watch it on television...
  • the fact that fall ushers in the christmas season...
there are more, so many more, but here are just a few of the reasons that i am obnoxiously happy of the fact that summer is no longer among us.

8.31.2008

sometimes...

for the most part, i love my life. apart from the humidity thing, and the occasional college football-related breakdown, i have no real complaints.

but sometimes, every once in a while, coming home alone to an empty apartment wears on me. tonight is one of those nights. and i think, as i type this, i can even hear my family laughing together as they play poker on the other side of the country... intensifying the things i am already feeling.

so, to combat this, i choose to go here.

8.30.2008

dear UofM wolverine football team,

let me start this letter by saying that you have given me some of the greatest moments of my life. the november 23, 1991 game where you obliterated the dreaded and mortal enemy ohio state was the best day of my life....hands down. i have even come to terms with the fact that my day in ann arbor, despite the cold, cold rain, will outshine even my wedding day {should i ever have one}. when i am old and grey and cannot remember my own name any longer, i will remember that day and elvis grbac's graceful on-field beauty.

granted, we've had our ups and downs. but i've come to terms with the fact that you choke every time you get near a bowl game...lots of people cannot handle that much pressure, there is no shame here. and last year's unfortunate appalachian state incident, well, i think that i can talk about it without sobbing now. it's only taken ten months of heart-wrenching therapy...

but utah? UTAH? seriously? we're starting the season by getting beated by utah? let's look at this realistically...i can see getting beaten by appalachian state. those are mountain people, rugged, strong. but UTAH?

why are you doing this to me?

my heart will always be yours, but i have to admit, it is broken tonight.

love, suzi

p.s. please, please PLEASE whatever you have to do, beat ohio state in november.

8.29.2008

favorite things

while i have never aspired to be oprah, i do have my share of favorite things. so tonight, on this most exciting occasion of a friday evening at home, i have decided to share with you some favorite things which are a part of my evening.

given my extreme {and vocal} love of good coffee, it has been a surprise to many that my latest drink passion is a tea... the republic of tea's spring cherry green tea to be exact. i had purchased a tin of it last year while visiting angie in michigan, and when i almost ran out, and failed to find it in my country, i had almost given up hope. then, the good republicans made delivery to canada a reality, and as of this week, i am hooked up again. and what better to drink a hot beverage in, than a new mug {from starbucks, no less}, a gift from a good friend. it is a perfect combination.

the second thing that has made my evening tonight, is gourmet magazine's latest issue which is dedicated solely to...wait for it...paris! for some reason, reading about macarons and the left bank and the unparalleled experience of eating and walking and being in paris makes the fact that i am not there a bit more bearable. and while i like to think that i am unique in my passion for the city, i love that i am not the only one whose heart can be made happy simply by walking down a parisian street! {and let me just say that this delightful find is courtesy of my super-cool friend angie, a fellow magazine junkie!}

the magazine lists some affordable hotels in a city where you can easily spend $500 a night for a room, and i was ecstatic to read that the familia hotel, my parisian home, was listed among the chosen few. if you are going to visit paris, i cannot recommend the familia {or her sister hotel, the minerve, right next door} enough. it is in the latin quarter, right down the street from the sorbonne, and only a most enjoyable ten minute walk separates you from notre dame...what more could you ask for?!

which brings me to my last favorite thing of the evening, my copy of the books of the bible {i have the orange one}. last year it really started to bug me that i was treating the bible more like a handbook or text book, than a book to be read and enjoyed. maybe it was all those numbers, and given my extreme fear of math, the combination was just too much. but then i found this gem... the bible, without chapter and verse numbers, in chronological order. this baby has changed the way i read God's word, and i love it!

that's all i've got for now. hope you're having a good evening.

8.25.2008

love or something else...

this book i've been reading is challenging my concept of what it means to love God, and how that translates into daily life.

how do you define love?

i love my niece & nephews, and if you were to ask me to define what it means to love these little people, how it translates into my life, i would tell you that i love spending time with them; if they drew me a picture or wrote me a letter, i would put it on my refrigerator & every time i'd look at it (which would be often), i'd smile; i could talk about them and the great things they do and say for hours; and if one of them ever needed me or asked for anything, i would move heaven & earth to make it happen.

if, then, i am willing to go to such great lengths for my little relatives, does it not follow that i would go to even greater lengths if i claim to love my God? not that i should love the little ones less, but i'm thinking that my love for God should be more extravagant...

the chapter i am reading now is called 'serving leftovers to a holy God'. when i think about it, it's scary how often i default to this. is it sufficient to say we love God, and give him what time/money/love/attention we can afford from our over-crowded lives? is it enough to give leftovers even if we've convinced ourselves that they are more than that? is this love...or is this something else that we've convinced ourselves is love?

so, i'm asking the question: what should it mean to say that we love God? how does it translate into everyday life? and how should it compare to the other things in life that we love, or even that we do on a regular basis?

and the question that has been haunting me: if someone were to look at my life, what would they say my greatest love was?

i'd love to hear what you think...

8.22.2008

crazy...

sometimes i start reading a book, and very few pages into it, i realize that it's really not going to be a walk in the park...

this week's kick in the butt book is crazy love by francis chan, and at the top of page 40, he defines two words that i have used way too often in my life:
worry implies that we don't quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what's happening in our lives.

stress says that the things we are involved in are important enough to merit our impatience, our lack of grace toward others, or our tight grip of control.
he goes on to say that the point of our lives is to point to God. and i am left haunted by the question, in the midst of my daily mundane-ness, who does my life point to? sadly, it is far too often no one but myself...

8.19.2008

finally!

it took a while, but i think i finally landed on a blog header that i actually like! {thanks to shoubert, though, i did end up changing the quote already!} originally i had chesterton's quote, "fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

i must admit, i really am a sucker for a good dragon quote...

i haven't done a whole lot of writing lately. these days it seems like the whole reflective life things is an uphill battle...not unlike climbing the 284 steps of the arc de triomphe with bronchitis. perhaps i need to envision an old man with a cane catching up to me. perhaps that will inspire me... or, more likely, scare me!

it's exciting that the days are getting shorter. {yes, i know i could get shot for that statement.} but fall is coming. life will resume a more normal schedule. for some reason, i want to go school supply shopping... {again!} all this makes my heart happy.

this post has been a whole lot of nothing, but i need to get back in the swing, so here i am, world. look out.

8.08.2008

leadership summit 2008

wow.

i am left surprisingly speechless after this year's leadership summit. every year is good. every year i walk away wanting and better equipped to be a better leader. but this year was different somehow.

it lacked, for me, a superstar. in the past there have been the one speaker/topic that stood out and turned my world on its ear. this year, though, there was no one, but rather, the faculty as a whole. each session built on the one before, creating a beautiful, challenging, messy whole.

some things that stand out right now:
"if you want your leadership to matter, lead in the things that matter to God." {gary haugen}

"Jesus didn't come to make us safe, he came to make us brave." {gary haugen}

'in a world of such suffering and need, why have i been given so much?" {gary haugen}

"are we leading people to see others first through the eyes of grace?" {john burke}

"if you cannot love across the lines of race/culture/class, you cannot love." {efrem smith}

"we have transformed our allegiance from truth to therapy."
{chuck colson}

"show up for the day. get your instructions. go in obedience." {catherine rohr}

"if i were God for a day, would i pick me to do my work?"
{bill hybels}

and finally, the franciscan blessing that craig groreschel closed his session with:

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

8.06.2008

change...

for those of you who regularly visit my little corner of the blogosphere, you may notice that i have been changing the header recently. i got bored with the blogger-standardized one, and realized, 'hey, i'm a designer', and started playing with ideas. i'm still not 100% happy yet, but will be soon...i hope!

which brings me to what is on my mind tonight, the concept of change. i am a big fan of change. i like things to change. i am all for change.

what i don't like is the actual process of change. the annoying, complicated, messy, inconvenient steps that need to be taken for the actual change to occur. and i am in the middle of more than a couple of changes in my life right now. ick.

my natural tendency is to get grumpy and wish all the icky-ness away, but life rarely takes a turn for the better just because we are done with it being sucky. i need to take my own advice, and 'suck it up, princess' more than i really want to...and make sure that my attitude is one of joy instead of the one of impatient grumpiness that i too often don.

i need to remember rilke's admontion to 'be patient with all that is unsolved in your heart,' and remember that there is a bigger picture being played out that i am not seeing the whole of yet... which brings us to the concept of waiting.

don't let me get started on waiting...

8.05.2008

i am home

after spending time with my family, coming home is never the same. there are the times when after the crazy busyness (especially around the holidays) that i crave the quiet stillness of my own little nest. then, there are other times, when i know that the family is all together, laughing and playing games on the other side of the country, that my solo sighs echo off the walls that i have yet to hang pictures on.

i'm not sure which this one is.

yes, it was a busy and packed six days, filled with lots of laughter and children and game-playing. there was babysitting the cutest kids in the world. hearing jayden say my name for the first time. nicky proving that he is a better driver than i am (at least where need for speed is concerned). hanging with meg, reading and buying books. going with mom, dad & doug to mom's appointment, where we got some good news, and caused an ocologist to wonder exactly what was wrong with our family (in a good way). losing with dad to the rest of the family at pictionary (we should get an award for being the suckiest players EVER!). admiring my sister-in-law as she is a better mother than i ever could dream of being. playing and hanging with john's boys. way too much shopping...

and now i am home, tired, and while there are no sighs echoing, i miss my 'peeps'. ;-)

and then it was august...



7.28.2008

leaving

well, the suitcase is packed...and i have to say that it feels more than a little weird taking my big bubba of a suitcase not brimming over and bordering on the maximum weight allowed by all major airlines. it feels like i am doing something wrong. but, that being said, if i can pack for three weeks in ukraine & paris in this suitcase, and then turn around and have trouble fitting all i'll need for six days in calgary, i have a problem.

i am downloading all the podcasts i can in an effort to be entertained while in the air, when what i really need to be doing is sleeping... so i will do just that.

anne sophie swetchine wrote, "travel is the frivolous part of serious lives, and the serious part of frivolous ones." tonight i don't think i can decide which one fits...

7.23.2008

If Fonts Were People

Times New Roman and friends battle the forces of evil.

"Mailbox. Open mailbox!"

read more | digg story

7.21.2008

tourists

on my way to work this morning, my mind started down a track that i haven't been able to wander from yet. it was started while i was listening to the sarah slean song get home, and there is one line in the song that says, 'to me you're just a tourist...'

the song started me thinking that it is too easy for us to be tourists in our own lives. i, myself live like this with alarming frequency.

what is so wrong with being a tourist, you wonder? well, you are reading the words of someone who doesn't like to be considered a tourist even when she is in a foreign country. the best compliment i EVER received was on my first trip to paris, when i was crossing a street in the latin quarter one morning with this old woman who apparently saw something funny, and said something to me en francais, and was surprised when i couldn't answer her. ah, the good days...

...but i digress.

being a tourist, at least in my estimation, is cheap. you don't belong to the place where you are, you are just there to enjoy it, not make it better, not necessarily grow from it, to only get what you can from it. you may disagree with me, but i believe at the root of being a tourist is the consumerism that is so prevalent in and diseasing our culture. it is deliberately standing orbiting of the heart of a place, sampling the hors d'oerves, but never actually sitting down at the table .

in many ways i am more a tourist in my everyday life than i am when i am in france. i forget the things that make my life, and this place where i live great and beautiful and magical, in the face of the banalities of the every day...or worse than forget them, i take them for granted.

in the busyness of the days, how does one remember to live?

7.14.2008

i can admit that sometimes i not always the brightest crayon in the box...

a long time ago, i was introduced to the band caedmon's call, and fell in love with their music, some songs more than others. and coincidentally, all of the caedmon's songs that i absolutely loved were the ones written by derek webb. i got to the point that when a new CD would come out, i would listen to it and be able to identify which songs were written by him on the first time through.

there was [and still is] a poetry and purity to his lyrics that has always resounded in me. his music has always moved me.

and then, he met a girl and got married. i knew that she was an artist too, that he first met her when she was playing in a nashville coffee shop, but i didn't think much of it. it never even occurred to me that given my love of derek's music, that music that he essentially fell in love with, would be something that i would enjoy.

until i heard sandra mccracken's song ten thousand angels on grey's anatomy... and started thinking that maybe i need to broaden my horizons.

i downloaded sandra's new CD, gravity|love from noisetrade.com, and have not been able to stop listening to it. (first of all, if you don't know what noisetrade is,
go there immediately!) but beyond that, this is seriously the most beautiful CD i may ever have heard, with lyrics that both uplift and break your heart.

if i had to pick a favorite song, i would have to tell you that it changes every time i hear a new song. portadown station is brilliantly, painfully beautiful ("i hear your voice inside my head but i miss the sound"). all the miles has an honesty and purity that is rare ("I'd rather have the mystery and the madness and the rains/ 'cause hell's the only place you can be free of all love's pain").

i could go on & on, but i won't. go to noise trade. get the album...and experience it for yourself.

7.08.2008

7.07.2008

tonight, i am tired

not the pretty, light kind of tired that falls asleep gently when the pillow surrounds your head. but a heavy, harsh, relentless kind of tired that does not bode well for sleep.

it seems as though i am constantly letting people down...that through all that is happening, i should be stronger, more able to keep juggling, be more patient, keep writing, keep hopeful, keep...on.

tonight, at small group, i was once again reminded that regardless of circumstances and glasses half empty or full, God is still God. he is unchanging, and though surrounded by a world that doesn't seem to know how to stay the same or be still for even a moment, this remains true. here is my solace. this is my peace.

so, i am shutting my computer off now, and will go lay my head on a pillow, and trust that sleep will come.

7.05.2008

four movies & soundtrack

in the past seven days, i have seen more new movies than i probably have in the rest of this year. (okay, in reality, not so much, but it does seem like it.)  perhaps it is the quality of these movies, and one of their soundtracks, that makes them seem all the more impressive.
movie #1: august rush
soundtrack: august rush
i didn't see this at the theatre, as it seemed just a little to forumulaic and predictable, and while, in reality, it was formulaic and predictable, it was immensely enjoyable nonetheless, probably mostly due to its superb soundtrack (which, yes, alicia, i did purchase, as you predicted!) but there is something about the quality of cinematography (best use of natural & artificial light i have seen in a while), and the seemless weaving of music, almost as an inanimate lead character, that makes me glad i spent the time (instead of watching bride & prejudice for the umpteenth time...i just watched that classic later!)
movie #2: dan in real life
here is where i eat my first helping of crow. i'll say it...i have not been a fan of steve carell. i don't watch the office. and i will also admit that i did not see this movie earlier simply because of steve, himself. on my way to ukraine in march, this was the movie playing on the plane, and i chose to talk to the guy in the seat beside me over watching this movie. so, imagine my surprise when i actually LOVED this movie. juliet binoche, one of my favorite french actresses, edged out only by oscar-winning marion cotillard, was perfect. dane cook, not a personal favorite, was good, and, in spite of all my best and strongest preconceived notions, steve carell was amazing. it is a movie that i will watch again and again...and in reality, i've already watched it again!

movie #3: lars and the real girl
here is my biggest surprise. i had read all the excellent reviews. i knew that this was a brilliant movie going into it. perhaps it was the gushing review after gushing review monotony that disarmed me, and left me sitting on my sofa in tears, wondering when it stopped mattering that one of the lead 'characters' wasn't even a real person...only an adult-size plastic doll. that was when i realized the genius of this movie...i forgot she wasn't real. i forgot ryan gosling's character wasn't real. i forgot that i am at heart a city girl, and longed, for a brief moment, to live in a small northern town with so much community, that they would embrace this apparently crazy man and his not-so-real girlfriend. this could be one of my top ten movies...EVER.

movie #4: get smart
after so much drama, both in real life & on the screen, it was time to laugh. i faithfully watched don adams in the television show of the same name, and was a tiny bit fearful that the movie would not equal it. well, holy crap was i wrong! steve carell caught the perfect essence of his predecessor, without going too far...ann hathaway was a perfect agent 99. and i laughed so hard, there was actually a moment when i stopped breathing ([maxwel smart:] are you thinking what I'm thinking? [the chief]: I don't know. Were you thinking, "holy $#!^, holy $#!^, a sword fish almost went through my head"? if so, then yes.)  even now, sitting here in my home, i am laughing like an idiot thinking about it! perfect movie. i do need to go see it again, to pick up some of the many brilliant lines that i was too busy trying not to pee while laughing to remember.
well, there you have it. this week, i need to catch up on my reading...but i'm afraid my books have some work to do to live up to some of these movies!
 

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