12.11.2010

remembering not to forget

"Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the light." —V. Raymond Edman

if you've hung around this planet long enough, you know that things don't always go the way you want them to.

       flat tires.
       bad haircuts.
       country music.
       any Microsoft product.
       unemployment.

you get the picture.

i don't know about you, but when things don't go my way, i don't always handle the unwanted interruption with consummate grace. i have an almost superhuman ability to whine, wallow and sulk. if there were Olympics for wanting my own way, i would have multiple gold medals. i'd need a bigger home simply to showcase them all.

and then, something crazy happens. you find out that this little person, who, while he's only been on this planet for four short years, has so entangled himself in your heart that you couldn't pull the two apart if you tried, is sick.

and you realize how very little and stupid the rest of it all is.

and somewhere in the flurry of details, facts, fear, and the ear-piercing sound of your own heart breaking, for a moment you forget. you forget that long before you met this little man that he was designed and loved by God. you forget the miracles that already happened resulting in his very presence in our lives. you forget that your job hasn't changed in the face of all that
has changed. that your job is to pray, and love, and trust, and believe in not only the Baby Savior we're waiting for, but the Risen Savior who took on illness and death—and won.

my job is not to forget.

a dear friend sent me these verses {and more} this morning, and i am reading them over and over in an effort to remember not to forget...
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God
goes with you wherever you go." —Joshua 1:9

"The Lord himself goes before you & will be with you;
He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be
afraid; do not be discouraged." —Deuteronomy 31:8

"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right
hand & says Do not fear, I will help you." —Isaiah 41:3

"The Lord is faithful to all His promises & loving to all He
has made. The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all
who are bowed down." —Psalm 145:13-14

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in
trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way &
the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though the waters
roar & foam, and the mountains quake with their surging." —Psalm 46:1-3

For updates on Jayden, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jaydenphaneuf .


12.06.2010

still

in true advent form, we are waiting.

waiting for news on Jayden.

late yesterday, after a weekend of bad news followed by more bad news, we finally got a bit of good. last night's surgery went well.

and today, we are back to waiting.

here's the problem with waiting: when you're standing in the middle of the fear, the unknown, the dark, you have to struggle to remember the good. remember that no matter how alone you may feel, that you're never really alone. remember that no matter how dark and thick it is around you, that light always triumphs over darkness. remember that the hope we have is based on no small thing.

for the past three days i have had a line of a song in my head. it's a Christmas one by Steven Curtis Chapman, and until tonight, while i knew i had it in the vast recesses of my iTunes library, i wasn't sure which one it was. using my brilliant detective skills {i saw you roll your eyes...} i solved the mini mystery. it's called The Miracle of Christmas, and seems especially fitting this season, as we really need a miracle this year.
The Miracle of Christmas
by Steven Curtis Chapman

A child is born tonight in Bethlehem
His mother holds him close and sings a sweet lullaby
All the world is sleeping unaware that God himself has come in the night

The shepherds tremble as the angels sing
And in their song the voice of God speaks peace to the world
A miracle has happened, God has come and God has spoken
But the miracle has only just begun

And the God who spoke is speaking still
And the God who came still comes
And the miracle that happened still happens in the heart that will believe
And we see (receive) the miracle of Christmas

So come to Bethlehem again and see
The One who's come to rescue us, our Saviour and King
Bring your past, the joy, the sorrow, all your hope to find tomorrow
And hear the words again, fear not and know that God is near

For the God who spoke is speaking still
And the God who came still comes
And the miracle that happened still happens in the heart that will believe
And receive the miracle of Christmas

Believe the miracle of Christmas
Will you believe?

{emphasis mine}
"The God who came still comes..." this is the line that has been repeated over and over in my mind. the words i need to remember. that He is still Emmanuel, "God with us", not the God who was here, but God with us.

please continue to pray for Jayden, his mom, dad, sister, brother and the rest of our family as we continue to wait and hope in the God who is with us.

updated December calendar...


if you would like to use this as your desktop, simply click on it, then right click on the larger version and 'save as'.

12.05.2010

Jayden


i've been trying to write a blog post since friday...

...but i have discovered that it is extremely difficult to write when your heart is breaking.

my 4-year old nephew Jayden is sick.

friday, after he woke up unable to walk, the doctors at the calgary children's hospital found that he has tumors—most notably two on his spine.

after efforts to try to shrink them, unless the little guy moves his legs soon, they will be doing surgery to remove some of the bone in his spine at 9:00 pm eastern time tonight.

being so far away really sucks. every bit of news that makes it here is bad, so right now we NEED some good news. Jayden needs something to go right, to be good.

who am i kidding? we all do.

desperately.

please pray...

12.03.2010

Advent

fifteen years ago this morning my Gram called up the stairs to ask if i wanted to look at the papers. ten minutes later my Grampa yelled up to me to let the paramedics in. in those short ten minutes, Gram—best friend, staunchest supporter, my own personal prayer warrior—left this life for the next.

suddenly, for the first time in my life, eternity never seemed so far away.

and i was left here, waiting, to see her again.

recently, others joined her. in the past 15 months, Grampa, Uncle Sylvio, and only last month Uncle Jerry, have all left gaping holes in the horizon of our family.

as the first week of this Advent season heads into the second, i've been reflecting on the theme of the season: waiting.

we are always waiting for something.

        for an appointment.
        a bus.
        our turn.
        a visit from a faraway friend.
        a dream to come true.
        to be healed.

yes, always waiting for something.

we do our best, however, to convince ourselves that we're not waiting. we are so very clever at diverting ourselves, focusing our attention on the things that we can make happen, filling the holes in our lives with all the things we can, convincing ourselves that in spite of what we don't have, we are still, somehow, complete.

and then, there is Advent.

these days celebrating the fact that in reality we don't have what we need to complete ourselves. that on our own, we are incomplete. that the baby in the manger wasn't only suppose to fulfill prophecy, but was also meant to fill our hearts. round us out, to be the people we are always destined to be.

and Advent also reminds us that while we are on this side of eternity, we will always be waiting—waiting see our Savior face to face, waiting to see ourselves fully in God's eyes, and yes, waiting to see those who have gone on before us.

so, this morning i miss my Gram, and so many others. but as i wait to see them again, i will embrace the waiting, letting it remind me that i am not yet complete, that i need this baby Savior, and that while i am alive, there is still so much for me to do while i wait.

and so i wait...

12.01.2010

december



11.28.2010

best...

this is the best TV cliffhanger finale episode ever.

seriously.



it gets me every time...

11.09.2010

wonder

i was sorting through the memories and memorabilia from my recent trip to New York City the other day, and came across my NYC Metro Card, where i found this quote on the back:
"Within five miles of where you live, there are enough strange things to keep you wondering all your life. Probably in your dooryard may be found enough to employ the intellect of a strong man; one of the great discoveries in science was made by a man cultivating the ordinary garden pea." —E. W. Howe
may you find and enjoy all the wonder hidden within your world.

11.05.2010

favorite things...

i used to do a lot more crafty kinds of things at home, especially back in the days when i worked in a credit union. it makes sense that creative energy needs to find a way to express itself, and that certainly wasn't happening when dealing with money, so i spent much free time sewing, cross-stitching, etc.

then i started working as a graphic designer, and everything changed.

being creative every day meant that when i came home at night, the last thing on earth i wanted to do was attempt to be creative yet again. my poor sewing machine can attest to that. it's been years since i have done more than dust him off.

but lately, my job has required a bit less of the creative, design work, and more communications, web work, leaving me with more creative energy when i get home than previous years.

so i've started making felt ornaments, and having way too much fun doing so!

this little bird i made last night, he is way too cute, and i think that he needs to have some similar, although differently colored friends really soon.

this goldfish may be my most favorite of all i've created. he was definitely time-consuming, with all his scales, but gosh, he turned out cute!

everything but this gingerbread man was made from patterns from a book called Fa La La La Felt, which i recently picked up. but this guy i drew and designed on my own.

and finally, these little partridges were the first ornaments i attempted, and i still think they are delightful.

it's actually relaxing, making them as i watch television at night... although my living room looks a bit like a kindergarten craft table.

it's a sacrifice i'm willing to make.

11.04.2010

positive

it is way too easy to focus on the negative things these days... at least it is for me. perhaps because the negative is easier to find, you really don't have to look for it. while the positive, the good, requires a bit of effort.

today i am choosing to look at the positive, and to celebrate, here are six things i am overwhelmingly grateful for, in no particular order...
  1. my job. yesterday at our staff meeting, they celebrated staff who have worked at PORTICO for five years or more. given that i am getting ready to celebrate my 11th anniversary of working here, i got some love. it's been a great decade, and i love my job as much as ever.
  2. my friend, Angela. i don't know anyone else on earth who would drive four hours just because i had a crazy idea that i wanted to go to the St. Lawrence Market with her. everyone needs a friend who would drive four hours just to satisfy one of their whims.
  3. coffee. enough said.
  4. family. it's been eleven months since i have seen most of my family, and as December 21, the day i will get on an airplane and head west, approaches, i am filled with anticipation to see the parents, the brothers, how big the niece and nephews have gotten, and to meet my newest nephew.
  5. banana nut mueslix. i don't like a lot of breakfast cereals, but this one i love. it might not seem like much to you, but for someone who has a hard time eating breakfast, finding something i actually like and enjoy is a real treat.
  6. this season. i love this season. beautiful colors. falling leaves, making nature look as thought it is in a constant state of motion. putting up my Christmas tree. preparations for my upcoming party, as well as making gifts to give to people i love. i love the anticipation of seeing people you haven't seen in ages, and the laughter that ensues.
what about you? what are you grateful for today?

11.01.2010

off

i am feeling off today.

it started sometime yesterday, not sure if i could actually pinpoint the time. but by late yesterday afternoon, it was official that i was not feeling like myself. i was achy and stuffed up, so i hoped that perhaps the 'offness' was a result of the onset of a cold, but this morning i awoke sans illness, but still not quite myself.

even as i wrote this morning, it felt strained and unfamiliar.

after getting ready, i walked out of the house and into dog pooh and anger. in retrospect, the anger was probably disproportionate to the amount of pooh stepped in. perhaps it was the cumulative amount of dog pooh i have stepped in over the last few months, or just another symptom of how i am feeling.

then as i walked to work, i almost got run into by a car. while the driver wasn't watching where she was going, it was my fault because i wasn't where i should have been... but that didn't stop me from angrily looking at the driver and asking, 'what on earth is wrong with you?!' through the windshield.

never would i have thought that i would end up being that person.

i am off today.

i'm not even sure what i most need. i only know that i don't feel like myself, now compounded by the guilt of taking my unfounded anger out on an unsuspecting stranger. i pray that she forgets and my outburst does not affect her day.

as in all my more ugly self-aware moments, Rilke words seem to find their way into my mind. these, the last part of the poem, 'I Am Praying Again, Awesome One' seem particularly fitting...
it is here in all the pieces of my shame
that i now 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.
—Rilke

10.27.2010

falling

there are days when it feels like everything is out of control.

falling.

not doing what i want, or need, or think it should be doing. but rather, spinning wildly, jerking erratically and heading towards the floor, only the sound of the crash remaining.

i was facing the window while in a meeting yesterday, and had to force myself to not simply sit and watch the constantly falling leaves. there wasn't a second where at least one leaf was making its mesmerizing, spinning, beautiful journey to the ground.

the trees appear to be wiser than i am.

to graciously give up what you cannot hold is a lesson i am still learning. to remember that there is a season for everything. to trust that the Maker of the season knows more and better than i, is a place i need to rest more. a place i need to live.

given all this, it is only fitting that i let Rilke weigh in on the situation. as always, i am silenced by his words...

Autumn
by Rainer Maria Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "no."

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We're all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It's in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling.

10.26.2010

support

if someone is on a church staff in a support capacity, should they attend that same church?

over the past few days, i've had three different {and unprovoked} conversations regarding this question with different friends, from different areas of my life, some currently on staff at different churches, some never having been employed by a church.

there appear to be no shortage of different opinions.

in my mind, it only makes sense that i attend PORTICO, the place of worship where i spend not only my sunday mornings, but my workdays as well. it is the place where my best energy, creative efforts and ideas get used—i pray—to not only glorify God, but to encourage and inspire the people who sit in the pews around me. from an implementation perspective, why would i not want to see what works, what doesn't and what i could improve on?

from a spiritual perspective, given how much blood, sweat and prayer that i put into PORTICO, could i ever feel anything but divided by attending another church? sure, there might be days when it would be easier, not getting pulled into work-mode when my goal is to worship would be nice, but would my heart be in it? or would i even—horrors—end up comparing them?

perhaps i over-simplify the situation, but if i do, i come by this over-simplification justifiably.

for pretty much my entire childhood and adolescence, my father worked at Chrysler. everything–all the meals my family consumed, Christmas and birthday presents, back to school clothes—was made possible because of dad's pay cheque from the automaker. to go along with that, i don't ever remember my dad owning a car that wasn't a Chrysler, and pretty much every car i have ever owned was the same. to this day, if i bought a car, it would have to be a Chrysler.

did dad have to buy Chrysler? well, no, he wasn't forced to. but to him, it was {and still is} the right thing to do.

and my dad isn't the only one who feels this way. this morning i read an article about Melinda Gates not allowing any Macintosh products to enter their home. would it kill the multi-millionaire to drop a couple hundred dollars on an iPod for one of the kids? probably not, but Ms. Gates appears to subscribe to the same 'you support what supports you' theory as my dad.

last week, on a church communications blog that i read, Over-Communicate, i read this post that has helped me solidify how i feel about this. the post uses John 10:11-13 as its basis, with Jesus talking about the difference between a shepherd and a hired hand in the care of sheep. when the wolf comes, where the hired hand hightails it out of there, the shepherd stays. why? the hired hand only collects a pay cheque, he doesn't own the sheep. the shepherd, however, owns and loves the sheep, and will do all he can to protect them.

this great post has stuck in my head, and the truth is, i don't want to be just a hired hand at PORTICO.

to be honest, before these conversations, i hadn't given all this much thought. it just makes sense to me that being part of PORTICO's staff would mean that i would attend PORTICO. it is where the rest of the staff and i use the best parts of ourselves, where we work side by side the sake of the kingdom of God in this corner of the world where we live.

why would i want to be anywhere else?

10.23.2010

walked

it seems, for the people in my life, that october is the month to go on vacation. right now, i have friends and family in Egypt, Israel, Texas and California.

as envious as i am, given that i always want to travel, there seems to be a bit of a theme woven throughout some of these vacations, and even crossing over into some of the books i have read this year.

more than one friend who was going to Israel told me that for them, the crux of the trip is to walk where Jesus walked. to see things He would have seen with His eyes.

this morning i received an email from my dad, who, with my mom, is finally living his lifetime-long dream of visiting the Alamo. in it, he said,
"What a feeling to be standing where all those heroes stood. To cross the line and stand with them. The feeling of hopelessness as you realize they were all going to die yet stayed there to serve their country."
my dad is living his dream, walking in the footsteps of his heroes.

after that, i read my friend Phil's blog post, and in it he has a video where Francis Chan talks about going to Oxford and getting a crash course in church history, actually seeing where some lived, and some died.

combine all that with some books i have read this year. A Walk With Jane Austen, for one, where a young woman drops her life to go to England for a month to visit the places where the famous author lived her life and wrote her words. and then there is the book i just finished, Juliet, which while it is a novel, is about a woman who discovers that she is related to the original Juliet, of Shakespeare fame, and returns to Siena, Italy to discover the truth, and her rightful inheritance.

there is something so compelling about connecting the past with the present. about standing in a place and wondering how many fascinating, or just plain normal people through the years have also stood in the same place. about wondering what they did, who they loved, how they faced down their own fears.

...as a child, i walked through forts on vacations with my family, where people of bravery took stands and fought to keep invaders away from their land, teaching me that the way things are now, is not they way they have always been. that there are things that are worth defending.

...i have wandered a Parisian garden where both my favorite sculptor and favorite poet wandered themselves, looking for inspiration and solace, hoping the garden would pass its magic into my own words and art.

...sadly, i have found myself standing in a gas chamber in Auschwitz, unable to keep the tears from flowing for all the lives that ended in that cold, cement room, and all the ways the world could have been made a better place had that room not ever been built.

there are still so many places that i want to touch the ground. so many people, long dead, whose ghosts i want to will my eyes to see. so very much history that i want to connect with.

so many places to walk...


where do you want to walk?

10.19.2010

voices

these past few weeks have been rough.

i have dealt with emotions and gone places i never anticipated going, all in my mind. it hasn't been a party, and i have not at all enjoyed it.

one thing i have learned—or more accurately, relearned— is the importance of what you allow the voices to tell you, and how much validity you place on those voices. that not every thought that finds its way into your head is truth and worthy of thinking about.

with all this in mind, i came across this prayer this morning. i have quoted from Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggemann before, and i am fairly sure this won't be the last time...

Hearing Better Voices
        on reading the prophets

We make a pause
    amid many voices—
        some innocent and some seductive,
        some violent and some coercive,
        some forgiven and genuine,
        some not.

Amid this cacophony that pulls us
        in many directions,
    we have these old voices of your prophets;
    these voices to attest to
        your fierce self,
        your severe summons,
        your generous promise,
        your abiding presence.

Give us good ears,
    perchance you have a word for us tonight;
Give us grace and courage to listen,
                                                  to answer,
                                                  to care,
                                                  and to rejoice,
    that we may be more fully your people.


this is my prayer today.

10.06.2010

weight

while emailing my good friend Alicia this morning, i started to explain to her why sometimes doing the things that i know are good for me are just so darn hard. it's not that i'm lazy, or i don't understand how important these things—writing, exercise, etc.— are. it's actually quite the opposite, i know how vital they are to a healthy me, and paradoxically, the weight of their importance, at time, cripples me.

when i am about to embark on something good for me, be it writing or working out or whatever, it is never just a single event in my mind. somehow my brain takes that event and turns it into something bigger. as though if it is worth my time to do today, then surely, here and now, i must make a commitment to do this good thing every day for the rest of my natural-born life. merely doing it once would be a 'why bother?'

then, the weight of a lifetime of said good thing starts to wear and feel incredibly daunting. the fatigue that plagues my mind as it attempts to wrap itself around this heavy commitment, and all the other things i will never do because i will be doing this forever, makes me want to go take a nap... which is not very conducive to getting anything done.

my challenge, it seems, is to not put added weight onto the daily tasks that i need and want to do. the writing i do today, is the by-product of today, not the rest of my life. walking to work is merely a 25-minute jaunt. not 25 minutes times 365 days times how many more years i will live. first off, i probably couldn't do the math, but no one can expect to live a lifetime in one day.

i only have to be faithful and disciplined for today. for right now.

and deal with tomorrow when it gets here.

10.04.2010

October 2010 Desktop





happy, happy october.

9.14.2010

read


looking for a good book? head over to my page addict blog to read my review of Anne Jackson's Permission To Speak Freely.

and then go buy one.

you won't be sorry.

9.11.2010

an anniversary

it seems that the loudest voices
are the ones calling
        to hate
        to destroy
        to burn
        to judge
        to hurt
        to retaliate.

if i listen only to these clamoring voices,
the ones i cannot miss
then i am tempted
        to believe that hate is the only way
        to deal with those who are different
        to handle those who disagree
        to protect myself from the unknown.

it seems simple enough
but that's because it's easy.

and this road i've chosen
if i truly believe in His promo,
was never intended to be easy.

separating myself
from the commotion
and listening to His voice,
both still and small
i find another way.

    love your enemies.
   give blessings to those who curse you.
   if someone takes something, give them more than they ask for.
   don't slap back, but offer the other cheek.

none of these things make sense
in the mentality of the loud voices

they only make sense
   of a God—
   turned carpenter—
   turned teacher—
   turned Savior.

* * * * *

long before this day became the anniversary of terrorist attacks, this day was a special one in my family. it was my Gram's birthday, then some 20 years later, it became her and my Gramp's anniversary. so long before it was a day marked by death and devastation, it was a day of life and celebration of love.

even though i still miss my Gram, more than i could have ever imagined after 15 years, i cannot help but be glad that she wasn't here in 2001, when her birthday became something entirely else. and i'm especially glad that she's not here this year, with all the hate sentiment flying around, especially from those who claim to follow her Jesus. she would not have liked it one bit… because my Gram was a woman who knew how to love. it wasn't always easy for her, but because she daily sat at the feet of her Creator, she learned how to love, and she practiced what the learned on our family, and on those whose lives she touched along the way.

i've not yet learned to love as well as she had. i'm still far too selfish, too often need to get my own way, and i really like being right.

but i'm slowly learning.

9.07.2010

back

i'm always a little envious around this time of year.

the truth is, even now, beginning when august rolls around straight through to the middle of september, i want to go back to school.

i can list all the things i want to study and learn. my brain doesn't seem to understand, even though i have been out of school for longer than i was in it, that this is no longer our plan. school supplies have an almost magnetic pull.*

i loved the new beginning of the school year. even though i was never the best student, {the actual school work tended to get in the way of my social game} the new school year always brought with it the potential that this new year would be the one when i would be brilliant. i could finally understand math. {never happened} i would get projects and essays done early. {maybe the first one, after that, not so much}

fortunately, life as a whole is a learning process. if you pay attention, and be intentional, there is always something to learn. this year, i am going to focus on learning a new computer program, as well as refocus on learning french.

so, while today isn't the first day back to school for me, i'm starting the new year with renewed focus and energy.

what about you? did you love going back to school, do you still love going back to school, or does the sound of a school bell cause immediate anxiety?


*actually, i did purchase a new pencil case a couple weeks ago {it's pretty}.

9.02.2010

random

last night, as i was listening to my almost three thousand iTunes songs randomly, a Christmas tune came on, and made me excessively happy.

september has always been my time to start listening to Yuletide tunes, but this year, with beginning Christmas projects in July, i started early. it's so much easier to get into the season while surrounded by its music.

when do you start listening to Christmas music?

9.01.2010

september

8.26.2010

favorite thing...

i've been having some difficulty with the whole sleeping thing this week, so i haven't been able to blog as often as i've wanted. but one of my very favorite movies has been on my mind, and i cannot think of a good reason why i won't watch it this weekend.

here is one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, Paris, Je T'aime. i hope it makes you smile as much as it does for me.



{it will also make me miss my Paris, Je T'aime movie buddy, Alicia, with whom i have watched this movie countless times. perhaps she will watch it in Senegal at the same time...}

8.24.2010

good days

first, let me say that if you do not have Prayers for a Privileged People by Walter Brueggeman, go here and buy it now. it is brilliant in the way it illuminates the nuances of human nature that too often we convince ourselves aren't even really there.

that being said, i read this one this morning, and it has become my prayer for today.

Salvation Oracles
on reading Isaiah 43:1-5

There is a long list of threats around us:
  terror,
  cancer,
  falling markets,
  killing,
  others unlike us in all their variety,
  loneliness,
  shame,
  death—
  the list goes on and we know it well.

And in the midst of threat of every kind,
  you appear among us in your full power,
      in your deep fidelity,
      in your amazing compassion.
  You speak among us the one word that could matter:
          "Do not fear."

And we, in our several fearfulnesses, are jarred by your utterance.
  On a good day, we know that your sovereign word is true.
  So give us good days by your rule,
      free enough to rejoice,
      open enough to change,
      trusting enough to move out of new obedience
      grace enough to be forgiven and then to forgive.

We live you your word. Speak it to us through the night,
    that we may have many good days through your gift.

8.23.2010

fall

i would be lying if i said that the last couple of cooler days were not among my favorite of the summer. {of course it helped that Ang was here!}

the cooler days, coupled with seeing the occasional leaf fall off a tree has enhanced my already deep desire for fall to arrive and soon...

days when i will not have to look longingly at my sweaters and whisper, 'soon, my friends.'

days when the perfect grey sky calls to you that the brutal, harsh sun is gone, and it's now safe to come out and play.

days of perfect coolness and bliss.

can you guess what my favorite season is?

what is your favorite season?

8.20.2010

what have you done for me lately?

in this week's life journal readings, i came across a scripture that brought to mind a Janet Jackson song. here is the scripture...
"So then the days are coming," declares the Lord, "when people will no longer say, 'As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites out of Egypt,' but they will say, 'As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up our of the land of the north, and out of all the countries where he banished them." —Jeremiah 23:7,8
this wasn't the first time i came across those words. back in chapter 16, Jeremiah uses pretty much the exact same words. apparently sometimes i need to hear something more than once for it to stick.

God saying to the Israelites that in the coming days, they will no longer see him as someone who did something a long time ago for people they really didn't remember, but they would know him as the God who did something for them today, in the need of their 'right now' lives.

call me crazy, but i think that if your last remembrance of someone is something that they did years or centuries ago, then there may be a problem in your relationship!

not to over-simplify the situation, but i think that part of the Israelite's problem could have been that God was the God of their past. he was the God who saved them, not the God who saves them.

it's too easy for me to slip into this same mindset. if i am not mindful and actually paying attention, then my relationship with God too easily comes couched in terms of yesterday. i think that is one of the things i like best about this life journal process. provided i show up, God never fails to speak.

and unlike the Janet Jackson tune, if i don't have a ready answer to the question, 'what has God done for me lately?', the problem is solely mine.

8.19.2010

*sniff*

confession: i cried like a little girl as i watched this.

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

if i am ever in love, i want to be in love like this.

mobility

a week ago, my life was, as it has been since i gave up owning a car to travel more, automobile-less.

i've come to terms with life without a car. living in Mississauga, which has a pretty great transit system, doesn't make it a hardship. not to mention living a 25-minute walk to work is pretty awesome {and as soon as the brutally humid weather stops, i greatly anticipate walking again!}. and then, there are the great friends who offer rides, and ask me to go along with them when they grocery shop... really, not having a car isn't that bad. and, it's taught me that there are times when this fiercely independent girl needs to actually ask for and accept help from others. {a lesson not easily, or completely, learned.}

but last friday, some friends, while going on vacation, left me their minivan. then yesterday, when i brought other friends to the airport, they left me their car as well.

in a matter of five short days, i've gone from zero to eight wheels available for my use. crazy!

the good news is, i've gotten errands done that have been on the to-do list for months. my black watch now has a battery, and no longer tells me that it is 12:57. my paris shoes have new soles and are prettily sitting in my closet waiting for use. clothes that i no longer need are stacked up and ready to be taken over to the Salvation Army on the way to work this morning.

all good things.

but it also comes with a down side.

when i am wheel-less, i plan my life better. without that convenience of an automobile, it's too easy to not think through all the things you will need for the day, and plan accordingly. after all, if you forgot something, you can just go back.

i don't like it when i don't plan... not being as prepared as i can leads to making excuses, and i don't like making excuses. it also tends to cost more. when i bring my lunch from home, it always ends up being a fraction of the cost of lunch out.

the challenge, i believe, is to live life as i normally do, and let the mobility enhance my life, instead of letting it define me.

the apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to Philippians, and his words always come back to me when i struggle with either side of the contentment issue...
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. —Philippians 4:12
i am still learning...

8.17.2010

{un}busy

i've said it before, but i hold to it today:

it is too easy to be busy.

it's too easy to let your life be determined by all the outside forces that have their own best interests at heart, and really don't give a flying fig about yours.

it's too easy to let the agendas of others become your own, either because you're a nice person and think that not going along with the plan will hurt someone, or make them angry, or whatever other reason seems like the best way to avoid standing up for yourself at the time.

it's too easy to not pick your battles, and allow the tyranny of the urgent to silently plow over the truly important.

it's too easy... and, in my humble opinion, kind of stupid.

when we get to the end of our lives and face God, i cannot imagine, "but she asked and i couldn't say no," will be a good defense for not following through on a dream God had given. or, "i know i should have had that conversation, but my cell rang, and when the call was over, the moment had passed," will be any kind of excuse for not speaking truth into the life of someone who needed to hear it.

what is important? i mean, really important? this is the question i'm asking myself today, and if it doesn't make the cut, i'm done with it.

8.13.2010

{un}belief

you know how there are times when something sticks with you, long after you first engage it? well, the following is from one of my Life Journal readings this week, and my mind keeps returning to it.
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask." —John 11:21,22
"Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man's sister, said, "Lord, by now the smell will be terrible because he has been dead for four days." —John 11:39
if you were reading this story for the first time, not knowing as we do that Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead, you might think that this is a tale of 'too little, too late'. given that both Martha and her sister, Mary's first words to Jesus when he returned were identical (John 10:32), you have a good sense that these sisters have spoken these words of disappointment and disillusionment to each other in their private moments of grief.

but Martha goes a step further. she tells Jesus that she knows that he has the ear of God. she knows that God will act if Jesus makes a request.

i don't know what is behind Martha's words. is she saying that on some level she believes Jesus could bring her brother back? or is she saying instead, that regardless of the circumstances, she still knows and trusts him as the Son of God?

regardless, fast forward to the graveside, and Jesus asks for the stone to be moved. suddenly Martha steps forward, the same Martha who believes that God will work on Jesus' behalf, and attempts to stop the whatever might happen because of the smell. yes, that's right, an odor. in that moment, personal comfort became more important than getting her brother back.

we humans are bundles of paradox.

we say we trust God, then take matters into our own hands. we say we will follow Jesus, but waver if our comfort has to be sacrificed. we say we love God, but have difficulty loving his people. like the man who brought his demon possessed son to Jesus in Mark 9:24, who said, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief," we are mixed packages. belief coexists with unbelief.

we want our brother back, but we don't want him to smell.

as a child of God, i need to live in the tension between the belief and the unbelief, always striving toward belief, and less toward personal comfort. to trust more the guidance i get from sitting at Jesus' feet, than what i know of the natural world i live in. to know that regardless what the situation looks like, and how impossible from a physical, knowable perspective something may be, that the Son of God has resources, ideas and solutions that my human mind cannot imagine.

my job is to trust he who knows more than me, no matter how badly i think it might smell.

8.11.2010

work/play

today is mystery staff outing day.

in the past, we've had one day of the year where all our staff leaves the office behind and goes somewhere to play together, and it has always ended up being filled with laughter and fun. even when we've played golf. not mini golf, but actual, real golf. i still feel the need to apologize when i think about it.

but today is a mystery. i've no idea what we're doing, but it doesn't really matter. we'll have fun.

i don't talk much about my job here, so let me indulge for a moment.

i love my job. i love the vision of PORTICO and its leaders. i love that i get to make things pretty while making a difference. i love that they care about soul health, including that of their staff, and the investments they make into us.

i was originally going to write that i am lucky to work there, but that would be inaccurate. i am blessed to work at PORTICO.

now, i really need to go and figure out how i'm going to get ready for the mystery day. how many pairs of shoes would be considered too many?

8.10.2010

duran


a long time ago, back when i was the Student Ministries administrator, i used to put together a calendar for the youth that had crazy holidays on it. it required some web research, but always ended up being fun. after all, who doesn't want to know when national peanut brittle day is, or if you were wondering when Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night is, you missed it... that was last sunday night.

but today, today is special, especially for this girl who came alive during the 80s. today, my friends, it is National Duran Duran Appreciation Day. yes, that is right, today is the day to celebrate Simon, Nick, and John and all the brilliant music that they've brought into our lives over the years.
New Moon on Monday, Wild Boys, Hungry Like a Wolf, and so very many of their other songs were the greater part of the soundtrack of my youth. how much would have been lacking had it not been for them.

so yes, today i am celebrating National Duran Duran Appreciation Day. excuse me, i think i hear the opening strains of The Reflex playing...

8.09.2010

whispers

if you follow my twitterfeed, you know that last week i had the privilege of attending the Willow Creek Association's Global Leadership Summit. i think this has been my seventh or eighth year attending, and in my estimation, this has been one of the best. {i guess it's always a good thing when the most recent one is the best!}

in previous years, there have been times when i've walked away from the Summit with so much to think about, so many things that i've wanted to change and make better and try that i was fairly overwhelmed. this year, it seems that there was a perfect blend of speakers and topics, and i have walked away with the ideal mix of challenge and inspiration.

in the very first session, led by Bill Hybels, he talked about some basic leadership principles...
  • leaders move people from here to there: from where they are to a preferred future. our job as leaders is to figure out what God wants done in the world and move people to get there.
  • leaders need fantastic people: in the past Bill has talked about the three Cs: character, competency, chemistry, now he is adding a fourth C, culture {what kind of person will thrive on their staff team}.
  • leaders need to observe mile markers & celebrations: the middle of the journey is where you lose people. celebrate every mile marker en route to your destination. what keeps people going on the journey with you is a sense of hope that they will arrive some day. there is a 40% differential between an inspired team and an uninspired one. inspiration matters.
  • leaders need whispers from God: John 10:27 "My {Jesus} sheep hear my voice." do i really believe God speaks? will i do everything in my power to listen? God whispers are usually short, and what you need to hear in that moment.
this last part is a great lead-in to Bill's newest book, The Power of a Whisper. you can read the first chapter here.

i like the concept of keeping track of the things God whispers to me, which is why i started the above page in my FieldNotes booklet. starting with some of the ones Bill gave during his session, i've begun adding my own, and foresee needing to start a new page soon.

well, that is session one from the Summit. i'll post more thoughts and observations over the next week, as i go back over all i've learned.

have a super monday!

8.06.2010

favorite thing {literary edition}

i have wanted to get back to doing favorite things friday posts, but have had a hard time deciding on which favorite things. this morning, when i woke up with a poem in my head, it all became so clear.

i originally encountered this poem back in 2007. i don't remember the original meeting place, but it's become such a part of me, it feels like i've known it forever.

when you get to the second line, you will see what initially drew me to the poem, but it is the defiant nature, the refusal to settle for an ordinary existence that has made this an instant favorite.

it is one, like Rilke's work, that i carry with me everywhere in my favorite Moleskine, and one that at this point, i mostly know by heart.

i won't waste anymore time...
Monet Refuses the Operation
—Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolves
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and change our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

8.05.2010

unjustified

something strange happened recently that i have vowed to myself never to repeat.

it began with a conversation where i was explaining my writing cycle to a friend, how i get up {or try to} early every morning to write, when someone else said, "that's because she's not married and doesn't have children."

my stomach dropped.

immediately i went into justification mode, and that little twinge of guilt i feel whenever someone married says how they wish they could have my 'free time', went into overdrive.

so what did i do? i justified my life, mostly by belittling it, saying that i know how 'lucky' i am to not be tied down...blah...blah...blah...

now looking back on the incident, i have to ask myself why? why did i feel guilty? why did i feel the need to defend my life?

conversely, none of my married friends has ever felt the need to apologize for their marriage or the benefits it has. so why does this single woman feel that need?

to be honest, this single life is not one i would have chosen. had i know at 24 that 20 years later i would still be single, i very likely would have done something stupid. what an incredible gift not to know the future!

i have shed the tears and mourned the dreams that most young girls have over how they think their life will turn out. the white dress. the handsome, loving groom. the picket fence. tiny, pink babies. the comfort of growing old with someone.

i have fought with God over this incessant singleness, at times as though he were holding my heart's desires just beyond reach, and through it all, i have come to see that this life, mistakes and missteps included, is just how it should be. not something to be explained away merely because i don't have a ring on my finger and someone waiting for me at home.

so i am done. i will no longer justify my life, my singleness. i will no longer allow anyone else's words to cause me to feel that i have somehow cheated the system because my life didn't take the traditional path, or i have different liberties than others.

after all, this is the life God has granted me. he's not apologizing for it, so why should i?

8.04.2010

wishing

these words you are reading today were not the ones originally intended to be here. i had an idea, but was unable to work it out last night, due to a headache that had plagued me all day. so, i planned to write it this morning, not at all thinking that the very same headache would still be here, and even worse than before.

but such is the reality.

i blame the weather.

so, my wish for today is that it would be fall. and to go along with that, here is a poem by Rilke about that most blessed of all seasons...

Fall Day
—Rainer Maria Rilke

Lord, it is time. This was a very big summer.
Lay your shadows over the sundial,
and let the winds loose on the fields.

Command the last fruits to be full;
give them two more sunny days,
urge them on to fulfillment and throw
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Who has no house now, will never build one.
Whoever is alone now, will long remain so,
Will watch, read, write long letters
and will wander in the streets, here and there
restlessly, when the leaves blow.

8.03.2010

august

it's august. the widget on my desktop tells me that there are only 150 days left for me to finish reading 75 books, which means that there are 150 days left to 2010. i know it's easy to talk about how fast life seems to pass by, but it's a mystery to me how some days can take forever to live through, while the months just keep whizzing by.

i had an unplugged sort of weekend. the plan was not to turn my computer on. if something couldn't be done with my phone, it would have to wait until the weekend was over. it was good to eliminate some pressure.
as for all my grand plans... friday's movie night was fun. i didn't make it to oakville on saturday, perhaps next weekend. Inception was a super, mind-bending movie, and as the screen went to black at the end, i actually said, "Are you kidding me?" out loud. i did some reading, made scones, tried a couple new recipes, and got some rest.

and with denying myself the pleasure of blogging and tweeting, i learned a couple things about myself, which i will share another time.

today begins a crazy week. two days of actual work, then two days of Leadership Summit. life, crazy as it may be, is rarely boring, and this week is no exception.

and since it is the beginning of the month, here is this month's desktop calendar...

7.30.2010

friday

it is friday. of a long weekend.

{insert sigh of relief here}

since last friday, it has been a very long week of computer issues {not to mention the accompanying meltdown}, reading group, creating a new brochure and campaign in record time, finally getting a new cell phone that actually works, a migraine or two, movie nights, dinner party, freelancing, and so much more.

i am ready for a long weekend.

it's been over a week since i actually observed my morning writing ritual. i miss it, and the feeling of clarity it helps me enter my day with. i am looking forward to reintroducing this, and other pre-craziness rituals back into my life over the next three days.

i do have some plans for the weekend...
  • tonight is movie night with some of the girls. we are watching Julie & Julia, and beforehand, i plan to make a chocolate cream pie, since one cannot watch this movie without getting enormously hungry....
  • tomorrow morning, i would like to visit downtown Oakville, and have coffee at the Green Bean Cafe, as it seems like a lifetime since i was last there. maybe i'll bring my camera...
  • there are some freelance projects that need to be wrapped up.
  • sunday night i'm going to see either Salt or Inception with my friend Chris...
so, there are some things planned for these three glorious days, but what i need most of all is some productive silence, deliberate solitude, focused prayer, unhurried reading, and uncluttered living time. with August, comes the beginning of ministry prep for fall, and all that that entails. i've had a small glimpse into the month, and its magnitude is epic. the best thing i can do is head into the next month emotionally, physically and spiritually prepared for all that lies ahead.

no matter what you find yourself doing this weekend, i hope at the end of it you are rested, refreshed and ready for the days to come.

7.29.2010

doubt

i think if i had to pinpoint one flaw that most keeps me from doing and being all i can, it would have to be my super-human ability to doubt myself.

there aren't many areas of life where doubt and second guessing doesn't factor in. my writing {is what i'm writing really relevant, intelligent, informed, or am i simply spewing the ridiculous randomness in my head?}. the job {this design isn't as good as the last one. what if i never have a creative thought ever again? what if they find out i don't have a clue what i'm doing?}. even conversations that i have {did i really say that? she's going to think i am an idiot. why did i have to open my mouth at all?}.

all these things and more are subject to the harsh and glaring critic living inside my head,whose only job, it seems, is to constantly tell me that what i'm doing isn't good enough, creative enough, intelligent enough... or simply enough.

it's far too easy to let the questioning, negative voices actually run the show that is my life. and besides, i don't even like living like this! if i was wearing a pair of shoes that was so painful as to ruin my day, i wouldn't hesitate to change them. so why have i allowed doubt to inconvenience, and at times, even sabotage me?

i want to be done with the incessant self-doubting. i want to stop second guessing myself, and begin trusting in the gifts that God has given me. and if i make a mistake, then i pick up and go on from there.

there are enough things in life that serve to derail you from your purpose... there's no sense in adding to it.

7.27.2010

unretractable

growing up, one of the things the mom regularly said to my brothers and me {especially the latter}, was to be careful of what we say, because once our words are out there, it is impossible to take them back.

despite this good advice, on more than one occasion i have allowed my mouth to spew whatever it wanted, resulting in plenty of apologies, and the loss of many hours of sleep as i stewed over what amounts to an unfortunate decision in not keeping my mouth shut. having been the beneficiary of such wisdom at an early age, i still occasionally feel the need to push those boundaries.

back when mom first said this, there really were limited ways that one could wield their words. besides the traditional face to face method, there was the telephone, and of course, the good, old fashioned letter. the one really having staying power, leaving tangible proof behind, was the letter. but think about the process. you not only had to write or type it {by hand!}, then find an envelope, address it, get the proper postage, and then bring it to the post office. while i am sure that plenty of hastily and poorly-worded letters have gone out over the years, given the amount of work that went into sending one letter, i believe that there were more opportunities for level-headedness, calm and wisdom to prevail, and some letters, in the long process of posting, were wisely not sent.

fast forward to the crazy information age we find ourselves in. in haste we can write an email, and before we even have the ability to fully think about what we are actually saying, the Send button is shining in all its glory, waiting to be clicked. voice mail can be saved and broadcast to the entire world, just ask Mel Gibson or Sumner Redstone. and all you have to do is ask the many who have lost jobs, friends and/or relationships over poorly thought-through and speedily posted words on Twitter or Facebook, and you can see that words, and their staying power is alive and well.

the reality in a digital age is that even more so than in the past, you can never take your words back. in a matter of minutes, they can go from your brain to around the world, a digital can of worms that can never be retracted.

long before mom, the apostle Peter wrote similar words to some churches...
If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies. | 1 Peter 3:10
good advice, no matter where and when you live.

7.26.2010

act

the possibilities are numerous once we decide
to act and not react. | george bernard shaw
it's easy to forget that there is a difference between acting and reacting.

to act is to take action and do something. it is proactive in the very essence of itself. to react is to respond or behave in response to something. it responds to stimulus, not to reason and decision. by its very nature it plays catch up. it allows the situations and stuff of life to dictate how we live our lives.

last week, i was eons more reactive than i would like to think that i am. i'm looking for a better week, filled with more actions that reactions this time around.
guard your heart above all else, for it determines
the course of your life. | proverbs 4:23

* * * * *

how do you get yourself out of reacting mode when you find yourself there?

7.24.2010

control

while i wouldn't describe myself as a control freak, there have been those in my life who have wandered into that neighborhood, and made such an assertion.

okay, so i like to be in control. but let's not blow this out of perspective. i don't want supremacy over the whole world. i have no such secret ambitions. {now, if we were talking my own small island near the south of france, i think i would make a very good Queen Susanne... but we digress.}

all this to say, that while i may have degrees of desire to be in control, i wouldn't really call them issues. there are simply things that life goes better when i have the power to manage them.

let me say that this week, in my work life, there wasn't a great deal of control to be had. a new {and faulty} version of Photoshop took over my life, and refused to let me do my job. do you know what happens when i cannot do my job? i didn't, until it all came to a head yesterday, and while i won't go into all the details, let me just say that it isn't pretty. one thing that i definitely did not have control over yesterday was my reaction to the situation.

basically, as i sat at my desk, the fifth time i tried to do the one thing i needed to do to finish the sermon presentation for sunday, and the fifth time Photoshop crashed my computer in an hour, i had the grown up equivalent of a temper tantrum. there were tears—angry tears, definitely not the pretty kind. there was anger. there were pouty faces. there was grumbling.

i was a mess.

you want to believe that when life doesn't go your way that you will handle it with grace and poise. not to mention the reminder that even if Photoshop doesn't work ever again, God is still God, and in the big picture, nothing has changed.

i want to believe i am this person, but yesterday proved that i am not yet her.

being daily aware of the fact that i am not a perfect person, i rarely have illusions of sainthood. but the place i went to yesterday, simply because i could not do my job, has reminded me that i still have so far to go, there is still so much more inside me that needs to be illuminated by God's grace, and changed to be more like Jesus.

so far to go...

7.22.2010

contentment

it seems that everyone has a season, or a time of year that makes them wish for another. for many, it is winter, and the desire for longer days, more sunshine, and less cold becomes the cry of their heart.

for me, it is summer. i find the heat draining, not just physically, but emotionally and creatively as well. so my tendency during these hot days is to dream of fall, of sweater weather, of walking accompanied by the crunch of brightly hued leaves underfoot. of pumpkin pies to be baked. of...

but the truth is i cannot live in the future. and even though right now my mind can conjure up almost exactly how a pie would smell if it were baking in the oven right now, it is not what is before me. what is before me, is a thursday in july. and even though, temperature-wise, it probably won't be my favorite thursday of the year, this is where i must live.

i love this poem by Wendell Berry, and how it helps me to remember that i am here, not in october, and that it's not a perfect world that i need to live in, but a better way of looking at the one i find myself in.
What We Need Is Here
—Wendell Berry

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

7.20.2010

home

home |hōm|
noun
the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family
        • the family or social unit occupying such a place
        • a house or an apartment considered as a commercial property
        • a place where something flourishes, or is most typically found.
there are three places on earth that i think of when i say home, and strangely enough, i have only ever lived in one of them.

the one place that have, and am living in, is the Streetsville area of Mississauga. i am writing this post from my basement apartment near the Streetsville GO station. living here is the best of all the worlds: a short walk to work, the feeling of a little 'town' nestled in the big city, and all less than an hour away from the bigger city, downtown Toronto.

Airdrie, Alberta is home number two, and the first of the homes i have not lived in. almost ten years ago, my parents, both born and raised in the Windsor area, decided that life was too short to live so far away from Megan, their only grandchild at the time, so they packed up everything and moved it across the country to a city just north of Calgary, with my baby brother {who was 25 at the time, and no more resembles a baby than i do George Washington.} my oldest brother followed shortly after, and now, ten years later, my family, including all the nephews who have arrived since, are firmly planted in country music land.

my parents have made a beautiful home there, and at least once a year {more if i'm lucky}, i get to visit. even though i have never lived there, it is as much home as where my kitchen table resides.

the last place i call home, and the one that—if you subtract the family element—i miss the most, is Paris, France.

the first time i went to Paris, as the airplane's wheels touched down on the french runway, i started, inexplicably to cry. i knew then, without a doubt, i was home. and with every trip, as i wander the streets, letting the history and the culture seep into my every pore, more than once being mistaken for a native Parisienne {so long as i keep my mouth closed}, i have felt more and more at home. and one day, when my kitchen table finds itself in a tiny apartment in the fifth arrondissement, then i will be able to claim that i have lived in two of the three homes of my heart.

where do you call home?

7.19.2010

usual

it is monday.

while i don't hate mondays as some are prone to do, they are probably my least favorite day of the week, for the same reason that summer has long been my least favorite season.

long before heat and humidity became my primary reason for wishing summer would go away, there was another reason: i hate that nothing happens as usual during the summer months. things shut down. people go away. things don't go the way that they do during the year.

when i was in school and june would roll around, as exciting as it was to have the incessant demands of teachers go away, i found it equally despairing that i would no longer see my friends every day. since the high school that i attended was in a small town, few students actually lived within walking distance, so most were bussed in... which meant seeing friends became exponentially more difficult.

i like the usual. not that i always choose to participate in it, but i like to know that it is there, happening in all its usualness. i like to know that even though i am on the other side of the country as my family, that they are getting together and having dinner and playing games on Sunday nights.

it's not that i have to participate in it. in all honesty, i'm probably more okay with not participating, but i really do want to know that somewhere out there, it's happening.

it might be kind of selfish, or not make sense at all— this wanting to know that things are going on as they normally do, and yet reserving my own freedom to do whatever unusual or uncommon things that i want... but i've never really claimed to make sense.

which brings us back to mondays. given that most of the pastors take monday as their day off, it leaves mondays feeling far from usual. there is a different feeling when the office is void of half of its usual inhabitants. not bad, just different.

unusual, if you will.

7.16.2010

more

as i was writing this morning, it became clear to me that writing wasn't the only thing i was doing. even as words made their way into the composition notebook, my mind was somewhere else, rehearsing all the things that had to be done before i would be ready for work. make the bed. put last night's dishes away. clean the sink in hopes that the faucet will get fixed today. make lunch.

sometimes i wonder why i cannot simply live in the moment i am in, without feeling the weight of every other moment to come, and all that will fill those moments. i cannot help but think that if i could find a better way to live in the moment, that perhaps i would want less.

all this reminds me of this Henry David Thoreau quote that has haunted my mind for years...
i went to the woods because i wanted to live deliberately,
i wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life,
to put to rout all that was not life
and not when i had come to die
discover that I had not lived.” —Henry David Thoreau
in these moments when my focus is split, i don't think it is possible to live deliberately. like the old cliche says, you can't be two places at once. perhaps in this age of multitasking, we are losing the ability to simply focus on one thing. one person. one task. whatever is right before you in that moment.

but then the little voice creeps in, why do one when you could do more?

when i design, i usually follow the less is more approach. but living that way is something i have yet to embrace. i always want more. but then, the line that i have quoted time and time again from the movie Sabrina hits me...
more isn't always better, Linus. sometimes it's just more.
i need the wisdom to know the difference.

7.15.2010

voices

i once saw a t-shirt in a mall kiosk that stuck with me. even all these years later, i wish i would have purchased it {even though apart from my University of Paris t-shirt, i would never consider wearing a shirt with writing on it}, because i loved the saying so much. it said:
i only do what the voices inside my head tell me to.
even now, just typing it makes me giggle a bit.

but the humor of the shirt notwithstanding, we all have voices, both internal and external that we have to deal with daily. from friends, family, co-worker, and even our conscience, our own internal dialogue. and while these voices may not actually tell us to do things, they definitely dictate our mindset and mood, and occasionally even sabotage us.

case in point: yesterday.

if there ever was a day that happy, positive voices were needed it was yesterday. but the ones within and occasionally without, were of the critical, negative variety. couple that with the fact that i was attempting something that i have never done before, and, now i know, am not very good at, i ended up losing the battle in my own head.

i find it sad that we are so much more apt to be negative than positive. it takes more work to be positive, you actually have to be looking to see someone do something right, and then you actually have to go out of your way to comment. you don't have to look hard to see something negative to jump on. earlier this week, a friend was telling me how some work i had done had been well received, but the words that started the conversation were, "don't let this go to your head, but..." what do you think i walked away from the conversation remembering, the praise or that i appear to be capable of a pride that makes me unbearable?

but add this too-easy tendency to be negative to the fact that we are much more prone to hear and internalize the negative than the positive, and the problem becomes even worse. and while you can tell yourself that you don't need positive feedback or praise, that 'a job well done is its own reward', when the negative ones, even just little digs, start to chip away at your defenses, and wear you down to your raw and battered self, you realize how much those little cups of water can mean.

i guess, my lesson in all of this is to realize the power of my own words, and that i have the choice to impact the lives of those around me powerfully, either negatively or positively. in tuesday's Life Journal readings, these were the verses that spoke to me...
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. —Hebrews 11:23-25
i didn't realize at the time that it was going to become so relevant so soon. :-)

7.13.2010

re-malleable

{i originally wrote and posted this back in 2005. but the quote has been haunting me yet again, so i thought i would update and re-share it with you.}

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. when i read her first book, about thirteen years ago, one line of With New Eyes struck me, and has continued to stick 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 freedom 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 tête de pioche as a child because she is compliant. if left unchecked, that stubborn child makes far too many appearances.

i want to be able to see where i am in the light of where i've come from, all the 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, at best, others tolerate, because i refuse to let myself be changed.

the most i can hope for is to be malleable.

may this always be my prayer.

7.12.2010

numbering

how did it get so late so soon?
it's night before it's afternoon.
december is here before its june.
my goodness how the time has flewn.
how did it get so late so soon? | dr. seuss
life really does go by so very fast. sitting down to write this morning, i was struck by the feeling that it was only moments ago that i was starting a friday, and had the weekend ahead of me. and here it was, already monday, with a whole week between the next weekend and i.

how does this happen?

Psalm 90:12 has a prayer i need to pray more as i move through my days...
teach us to realize the brevity of life,
        so that we may grow in wisdom.
{NLT}
this is my prayer today.

7.09.2010

favorite things...

it's been a while since i posted some of my favorite things. you may think it cheating a bit if you've sneaked a peek down to the first one, but i really don't think my favorite city in the world has ever officially made it to a favorite things fridays post...

Paris

it has been 457 days since my heart was last in the one place on earth it truly feels at home, Paris, France. in some ways the days have flown by, but lately, the length of the journey between visits is starting to wear on me.

i've been dreaming of this beautiful place. dreaming of the Rodin museum gardens, which i am sure are beautifully blooming right now. the Tuileries, and the walk through them from the Louvre to Angelina Tea Room, where africain chocolat awaits. dreaming of standing on the Champs Elysee, looking right to see the Arc de Triomphe with a faint outline of the Arc de Defense behind it, then turning left to see the Obelisk in front of the Louvre, made tiny by perspective.

but mostly, i have been dreaming about the streets of Paris, and the sheer joy that i feel just wandering through them.

i think it's time to go back...


Stacey Kent
on my first visit to Paris, while visiting the Virgin Megastore in the Carousel de Louvre, i was introduced to a recording artist that has rapidly become one of my very favorite, Stacey Kent. this American-born jazz singer has a smooth voice that i simply adore. to be honest, i would have to say that my favorite song of hers is one from the first album that i bought that day in Paris, a song called I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again. does that not sound like the theme song for my life!? {especially when you listen to the first two lines of the song: i wish i could go traveling again / it feels like the summer will never end...} kind of sums up exactly how i'm feeling right now about this brutal heat! you can listen to a clip of my favorite song here.

just a couple of months ago, Stacey released a new album, Raconte-Moi, entirely in french, which makes me so happy i am almost giddy. i haven't got it yet, but hope to soon. here is a video of one of the songs on her new album, so you can hear how absolutely brilliant she really is:




Kobo eReader
on my last trip, when i discovered New York City for the first time, my carry-on had 12 lbs. of books in it. {the fact that i wrote that sentence with a little bit of pride is very telling.} but as much as i love my books, carrying them around, especially when traveling can be wearing.

so i did research, O did i do research, just about every eReader on the market, as well as other vehicles, like the iPad, was under some pretty strong scrutiny, but in the end, i landed on the Kobo. at only $149, it was substantially more economical than the Kindle, which would have been my second choice. and while it may lack 3G wireless, i decided that a person such as myself doesn't need book buying to be made easier, or ANYWHERE! so the Kobo was my choice.

the fact that it came with 100 pre-loaded classics was a big selling point for me. carrying around all Jane Austen's books, some Dickens, not to mention War and Peace would give anyone a backache! i can also read PDFs, ones i've created, or otherwise and carry them with me as well. good times.

one other reason for going with the more economical option was that i was unsure if i would even like reading eBooks. i am a HUGE fan of paper. i love the look, the feel, the smell. i love how it feels to hold a book in your hands, and open it for the very first time, unaware of what or where the ink on the pages will bring you. so the whole eReader thing could have been a mistake of epic proportions for me.

but surprisingly, i love it! it's easy to read, i even read it on the beach in South Haven, and the fact that i daily carry 119 books around with me, always giving me something good to read makes my heart happy.

i will always love books. just because i have the eReader does not mean that i will never buy a book again. to be honest, i ordered two earlier this week! but it does mean that traveling will be considerably lighter, and this girl will never be without something to read!
* * * * *

well, these are a few of my favorite things this morning.

have a fantastic weekend, stay cool however you can!
 

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