A Clock of a Different Kind

But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. {2 Peter 3:8,9}
It doesn't look like we humans have changed all that much since Peter wrote those words shortly after Jesus' death. We still want what we want, when we want it. And if we have to wait longer then we deem necessary, things begin to fall apart.

The folks Peter is writing to are waiting. Waiting for God to keep His promises. Waiting for Him to move, and to fulfill that which some of them heard from Jesus' own lips.

But nothing happens.

Well, not exactly nothing. Life still went on, but what they were waiting for didn't happen.

And while they are waiting in the nothingness, questions and doubts walked right in through the open door.

But Peter reminds them—and us—that God has a different kind of clock and calendar than we do. A different plan. He does things His way, and is not limited by human understanding, or merely what His eyes can see.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. {Isaiah 55:8,9}
It's not my job to understand and to know the full timing of God's plan in my life or in the world. My job is to trust. To be faithful. To love justice and mercy and to show them to the world. To believe that regardless what my eyes see, God is still in charge, will keep His promises, and has a plan that isn't for me to worry about.

My job is to be faithful...


Fairy Tale Junkie

Is it just me, or does this look ridiculously, brilliantly awesome?

Why I think this will be brilliant:
  1. I love all things fairy tale-ish.
  2. I love stories that begin with, 'Once upon a time...', even if they don't end, 'happily ever after.'
  3. I still miss LOST, and if the writers are half as good in this as they were there, then I will gladly open my life back up to the joy of television that brings mystery and wonder into my life.
  4. If I was ever going to give up city life, it would be to live in an enchanted town, even it it was ruled by an evil queen.
  5. This all reminds me of one of my favorite Rilke quotes,

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. {Rainer Maria Rilke}

And how perfectly delightful that the show doesn't begin until after I get home from Paris!?

Are you a fairy-tale lover as well?


Review: Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process by Blaine Hogan

{Normally, book reviews would happen over at my Page Addict blog, but this one is different, given my recent thoughts on creativity, which is why we are here today.}

Every once in a while you come across a book that you know will be important to your life.

Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process is exactly such a book.

I used to believe that truly creative people didn't and shouldn't have to work at it. That brilliance should flower and swirl out of the tips of a creative person's fingers even when they weren't trying. But now, after more than half a decade as a graphic designer, the days when it feels like I will never have another creative idea again, outnumber the others more than I want to admit.

Every person in an even remotely creative field knows the pressure of having to create something from nothing in a compressed time period. Blaine Hogan, creative director at Willow Creek Community Church, also knows and understands the demands of needing to be creative under the relentless pressure of deadlines.

This understanding has given him a unique and passionate outlook of the courage and—yes— hard work it takes to meet the creative demands of our work and life. While not pulling any punches, it is a conversational, practical and hope-filled manifesto, written by someone who has traveled this road before us.

It doesn't matter what creative field you find yourself in, Untitled will make you better at what you do. Even if you are not in a traditionally creative field, there is still much you can glean from this book.

I could gush—and friends would tell you that I have—about this book, but honestly, I don't need to. Right now, go buy the book, let it speak for itself. Read it. And when you are finished reading it, don't be surprised if, like me, you want to read it again.

You simply won't be sorry.


Showing Up

I've been thinking a lot about the creative process lately. Given some books I've been reading, as well as the blogs of some fantastically brilliant people, this topic is one that keeps coming up again and again.

When you work in a creative field, it sometimes feels like you have to be creative on demand. At PORTICO, there is always a new sermon series coming up, or brochure, and every week there has a Sunday means that there are a whole lot of elements that go into our worship services.

There are days when it feels like the demand for creativity far exceeds the supply I have.

There was a time when I believed that to be truly creative, one shouldn't have to work at it at all. That creative energy should just flow like swirls from the fingertips. That a truly creative person could sneeze onto a window pane and it would be a thing of beauty.

I no longer believe in this fairy tale.

Which is part of the reason I've been thinking about all this. In truth, I am still solidifying exactly what my creative process looks like. There are elements that I are fairly set into my routine. The three pages that I write every morning {a la Julia Cameron's morning pages in The Artist's Way}, as well as read whatever I can find on the subject, and limit the amount of time I spend in front of a screen or monitor.

And every month, I sit down and design a desktop calendar, mostly for myself, although I have recently discovered that there are those out there who use them as well, which is kind of fun.

The 'rules' when I design my desktop calendars, are simple. Every month, my goal is to make this month's calendar like nothing I have worked on in the last month. If I have used a photo in a certain way in the previous month, or learned and used a new technique, or even drew a flower in a certain way, then it cannot be done for this month's calendar. Whatever the idea is, it has to be like nothing else I have done in the last 30 days. Sometimes it works out, sometimes...not so much.

When I began working on August's desktop calendar last week, I had a specific Bible verse that I wanted to use. But every time I started typing the words, I ended up typing, 'Be still and know that I am God'. Not the verse I wanted, but I ended up giving in to it. After a while, I got tired of fighting it.

Here is the final product:


Then, my sister-in-law Loralie wrote a post on Jayden's CaringBridge blog yesterday afternoon. In her beautiful way, she described how these past few months have affected her, and how she had been running, avoiding, keeping busy for fear that she wouldn't be able to hold it together if she actually stopped and though about her son having cancer.

Then, she had a breakthrough. I will let you read the post in her own words, but I will share the last line of her post...
"So today I sit and rest and be still and know that He is God."
As I read it, I simultaneously started to laugh and cry. Suddenly, I knew that this one was for Loralie, not me.

This grace-filled realization that sometimes, you can do all the planning—all the prep work, come at it with armed with sketches and dreams and preconceived notions—but sometimes, you just need to show up to do the work, and God will take you and what you've brought, and breathe a breath into it that makes it into something far greater than you ever imagined.

Sometimes, you just have to show up.


Who holds my hand {#247-258}

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, 'Fear not, I am the one who helps you.' {Isaiah 41:13}
There are times, when looking at certain situations in my life, that the overwhelming emotion is one of hopelessness.

A bad habit to overcome.

Situations well beyond my control.

Good changes that never seem to stick around for more than a few days.

Somehow, I get it into my head that if I only try harder, then it will all work out. That it will mean more if I can do it myself, and then bring it to God to show Him that He is right in loving me, because I am not a total failure.

And to make things worse, the harder I try, the bigger and grander failure and disappointment seems to be... and the more alone it all makes me feel.

And then I come across a verse like Isaiah 41:13, and am reminded that I was never supposed to go it alone. I once again remember Who it is who holds my hand, and when He whispers, 'Don't be afraid, I am here to help you', it is not a reprimand, but a reminder of truth. And that I was never meant to do it all on my own, but rather to walk with my God, who wants me to trust him.

I need to remember Who holds my hand...

* * * * *

Today I am thankful for...

247:: He who holds my hand.

248:: that Jayden's bedsore is healing!

249:: butternut squash pasta with butternut squash pasta sauce. pure yum...

250:: a brand new jar of sweet pickles.

251:: a super comfy Roots chair to take a Sunday afternoon nap in.

252:: my beautiful, beautiful niece, Megan.

253:: that there are only 74 days left until I get on a plane to go to my happy place.

254:: books, and the ability to read.

255:: living so close to the GO station, making trips to downtown Toronto so very easy.

256:: emails that make me smile.

257:: a job that I love!

258:: that every day is a new chance to trust God more.


How To Be Great

by George!

He {Hezekiah} trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. {2 Kings 18:5}
In a sea of kings of Israel and Judah whose primary descriptor was, 'he did evil in the eyes of the Lord', Hezekiah stands gloriously out. Not only did he do 'right in the eyes of the Lord', but he also trusted God, and according to the verse above, that trust made him great.

I don't know about you, but when I think of great people, it's usually the blindingly intelligent, the charismatic leaders, the overwhelmingly talented, the fearless fighting for injustice, or the hugely selfless giving themselves to improve the world, that I think of.

But here we find another yardstick for greatness, and the secret to Hezekiah's success. This one thing that set him apart from his predecessors, and all who came after him was this one thing: he trusted in God.

I am subscribing to King Hezekiah's One-Step to Being The Best King Ever plan: Trust God. Keep trusting God. And when you get up tomorrow, if the world seems to be crumbling before your very eyes, keep trusting God.

After all, who doesn't want to be great?


You are what you chase...

They went after false idols and became false... {2 Kings 17:15}
There's an old saying that goes, you are what you eat. Moms tend to throw that one out there when their kids prefer Twinkies over vegetables, thinking that somehow the prospect of being broccoli would be better than being golden, spongy, cream-filled goodness. {Clearly this argument didn't get my mom very far!}

But in today's Life Journal reading, when I read the middle of verse 15 and found the words above, it hit me that it's not only the things that we put inside of us that determine who we are, but also the things that we follow.

In the NIV translation, false is translated, worthless. The NASB calls it vanity. No matter how you stack it up, it's not good.

Even after being given strict and direct instructions from God Himself to worship and follow only Him, the Israelites still went off in the other direction, worshiping golden livestock, and every other god they could find from whatever rock they could dig it up under. They always seemed to want more.

How very much like the Israelites we still are today.

Sure, our idols may not resemble cattle, but we follow them nonetheless.

        Entertainment with—at best—questionable morality.
        More stuff.
        Mindless diversions.

And these things that we follow leave us much the same as the things themselves: greedy, empty, hollow, immoral. Not a life anyone would claim to aspire to. And greatly contrasting to the life James talks about in another of today's Life Journal readings...
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. {James 3:17}
So, the question of the day is, who or what are you chasing after?


Unshakeable {#237-246}

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. —Hebrews 12:28
If there is anything I have learned in this life, it is that nothing is secure. Things shake and wobble and fall down and break.

Nothing is secure.

Sitting here, I can think of many of the ways that my world has been shaken over the years. My family's car accident back in 1977. Gram's heart attack. Work issues. Dad's stroke. Death. Mom's cancer. Most recently, my nephew Jayden's cancer.

So many things that could leave one feeling turned inside out and upside down.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken...

As crazy as life can get, how grateful my heart is that none of the things that take my breath away, take God by surprise. None of these things that so shake my world, cause even a tremor is His. He, like His kingdom, is unshakeable.

And for this, today I worship my God...

* * * * *

Today I am thankful for...

237:: God's unshakeable kingdom.

238:: air conditioning on a crazy hot day.

239:: working my way back into routine.

240:: crossing things off the to-do lists.

241:: turning the last page of a delightfully entertaining book.

242:: starting and finishing a beautifully written memoir in 24 hours!

243:: the anticipation of a weekend visit from a good friend.

244:: a beautiful day to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake with @labellaverita.

245:: conversations full of both laughter and tears.

246:: the gift of two decades of friendship.


Being Broken

One of the daily readings books I have going this year is Henri Nouwen's Bread For the Journey. The reading from this book for today is one that has hit me where I am, and I wanted to share it with you...
Being Broken
—Henri Nouwen
Jesus was broken on the cross. He lived his suffering and death not as an evil to avoid at all costs but a mission to embrace. We too are broken. We live with broken bodies, broken hearts, broken minds, or broken spirits. We suffer from broken relationships.

How can we live in our brokenness? Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross and live it as part of our mission. He asks us not to reject our brokenness as a curse from God that reminds us of our sinfulness but to accept it and put it under God's blessing for our purification and sanctification. Thus, our brokenness can become a gateway to new life.
May we all find God's peace in our brokenness...


86 days until...

...I can walk in le jardin du Luxembourg once again.



I make no apologies for the fact that I read.

A lot.

So, when I say that I have read an absolutely brilliant memoir, and that it would be in everyone's best interest to do so as well, I don't say it lightly.

Today, on my Page Addict blog, I have posted a review of Ian Morgan Cron's, Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me. I loved this book. And I am fortunate enough to be able to give a copy away to a lucky reader. All you have to do is comment on the review, answering the question at the end of the post {and shoot me an email so I know how to contact you if you are the winner}.

Good luck... and see you over there!


Leaning {#215-236}

"In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy one of Israel, in truth." —Isaiah 10:20
As I read this verse this morning, the thing that struck me is that the people of Israel, in the good days to come, are not standing on their own two feet. There is no expectation for them to stand, but instead to lean. To me, I would assume that their standing would be the goal. But no... it is the destiny of God's people is not to stand, but instead to lean. And not just lean, but lean on the right thing—God and His truth.

As an independent person, a single girl who lives alone, I am a big fan of standing on my own two feet. My parents did a great job of teaching me how to do just so. After all, when you are the only one, you've got to take care of everything yourself. If I don't take the garbage out—as much as I hate the task—it doesn't get taken out. For the most part, I have become pretty adept at standing on these two size-ten feet.

But again, the assumption in this verse, and in others that have come to mind as I write this, is that our natural human posture isn't so much standing, but leaning.

The question—the truly important question—is what are we leaning on?

Too often I tend to trust my own 'wisdom' as my leaning post. (Apparently I have a short memory, as my own wisdom has, at times, been about as solid as a bowl of Jell-o!) Emotions, fickle as they can be, are no where near strong enough to lean on, especially in the dark, hard days.

Far too often in my life I have chosen to lean on things never designed to bear my weight or be trusted, and I have felt the accompanying pain of stumbling, and even hitting the ground.

There is only One that I can truly lean on, who is strong enough to hold me up, even when I am at my weakest.

Oh, for the grace to lean only on my God and His truth...

* * * * *

Today I am thankful for...

215:: the glory that are to-do lists.

216:: summer roasted vegetables for dinner.

217:: having lunch with my favorite niece, Megan, on her birthday.

218:: getting to read Jayden one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories.

219:: handing out with the parents.

220:: a clear day to see the mountains from afar.

221:: finding the good coffee at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

222:: getting to watch SYTYCD with others who love it too!

223:: a good night's sleep after a horrible one.

224:: the excitement of our summer interns at PORTICO.

225:: a day off.

226:: being so blessed as to live in a free country.

227:: Starbucks Passion Fruit Lemonade on a hot day.

228:: not needing glasses!

229:: connecting with old friends visiting from Africa.

230:: a photo wave 'hi' from the Alberta Children's Hospital all the way to Mississagua.

231:: surgery going well, a little boy home playing trains.

232:: walking to the Streetsville Farmer's market with Saundra and buying the most fragrant strawberries ever!

233:: movie night with the girls and strawberry belgian waffles.

234:: a whole weekend of good sleep.

235:: waking up early to do my Life Journal, another step to getting the routine back.

236:: a God I can fully trust to lean on.


surviving summer

July 1. Canada Day. The official beginning of summer, with all its heat, humidity and glaring, burning sun.

The only word that all this brings to mind: ick.

If you don't know me, or haven't been around my little corner of the internet, then you may not know that I hate summer, and all that it brings. My usual goal for each summer is simple: endure until life gets more bearable.

In an effort to not just endure, once again this summer, I am giving myself a to-do list of things that hopefully will keep my mind off of the unbearable heat and on something more productive, more creative.

Here is this summer's list of diversions...

  1. The 25 books of summer. If you follow my Page Addict blog, you would be well aware that my goal of reading 60 books this year has been seriously derailed during the first half of this year. I am considerably behind. But with this new mini reading goal, 25 books will definitely catch me up. The one I am reading right now, Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me' is absolutely brilliant. I began it last night, and will be surprised if I am not finished it by the time I go to bed tomorrow night. My review will be on the PA blog, and I will even be giving away a copy of it to one lucky reader.

  2. RWE writing prompts. Back in the beginning of June, I began to do some writing exercises from the Ralph Waldo Emerson website. Unfortunately, my vacation in Calgary kind of derailed me from that, first being so busy as I was immersed in family, then the tiredness and mini-jet lag once I returned. But this summer, I have no reason to not continue them. There are still 29 to do, and my goal is to have them all done by Labor Day.

  3. Being a local tourist. It has been a while since I have done some at home touristing. The AGO, Casa Loma, downtown Oakville, Niagara-on-the-Lake are all places that I would love to visit sometime during these 68 days.

  4. Re-establishing routine. Since vacation in June, my routine has been absolutely demolished. Every morning, my goal is to write three pages in a composition notebook before I do anything else. Julia Cameron calls them 'morning pages' and the goal is to clear out the mental cobwebs and anything else lingering in my head before the creative work of the day begins. There is also my Life Journal, daily Bible reading and jouraling, that has taken a hit in the consistency department in the last few weeks. My goal for the summer is to get back on track in both of these disciplines.

  5. Finding beauty. Of my three words of the year: beauty, grace and simplicity, the one that I have been ignoring the most is definitely beauty. There are multiple reasons for this, but this summer, I plan to focus on it. Every day, my goal is to take a photo of something that I consider beautiful. It will mean bringing my camera with me everywhere, which is something I have grown unaccustomed to, and taking the time to look for the beauty shielded by everyday life. These I will post to my Creative Disorder blog.

  6. Study french. Given that I will be visiting my happy place, Paris in 98 days, it is important to me that I learn as much as I can of the language of my heart's home.

Well, there you have it. This is my plan to survive summer. What about you? Do you have any summer plans/goals/to-do lists?


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