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...}


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:
  falling markets,
  others unlike us in all their variety,
  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.



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?


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.



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.


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...



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.



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.



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?



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...



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!


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.



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?



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.



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...

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