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Showing posts from 2007

the middles

This is how it goes - "it" being any venture that is worthwhile and grand enough to challenge us out of our comfortable lives meandering towards predictable and non-remarkable mediocrity. At the beginning, you get a great vision, you have faith, you exude hope, you are inspired and inspiring, you believe anything is possible, your soul is big and fat and floats above all circumstances, you speak in absolutes, and the goal seems just inches and minutes away.

At the end, when you have finally seen the grand project or journey through to its completion, you are tired, happy, wiser, more humble, thankful, able to see the divine plan and purpose in all the twists and turns you experienced. You are more convinced than ever of the absolutes, your faith is richer and deeper and stronger, and your soul has a solidity that only the practical living out of what you hope in can bring.

Both of these are most satisfying places to dwell, and we love them. As people of faith, these are the ti…

how do you feel?

I'm back! We took a full 4 days off and did important things like eat, sleep, read, play, talk, and give and receive. It is good and necessary to set aside the burden of work and responsibility for a time and simply be. Selah.

Last week I came across a quote on another's blog, and it rang true with me. Here it is:

I have come to believe that it is important to personally learn and to teach people how to feel skillfully. I believe that there is far more information and awareness in feeling than there is in thinking. Certain forms of rational debate can point out the absurdity of different beliefs, but this fails if the person lacks the intelligence to understand the argument. And yet even the most simple can recognize when they have been insulted. And it seems the most simple often understand when they are being loved and how to return love more skillfully than their "intelligent" counterparts. - Richard Harty, www.whatisspiritual.blogspot.com

I am a feeler. I have spent…

this could happen to you

About a week ago, one of my friends, at least I always thought he was my friend, suggested that I should put cameras around my house, videotape my life and sell it as a reality show called, "This Could Happen to You!" After yesterday's incident, I definitely see the brilliance of his idea.

I was doing my kickboxing workout downstairs when the phone rang. It was Dean (husband of the year award-winner) asking me to look up some information for him that he could not access at work due to internet restrictions. I complied, like the good wife I am, and interrupted my exercises to run upstairs to my office. He had me on speaker phone with 3 of his colleagues, so as I was sitting at my computer, searching for a particular Skype identity, I could hear the office banter. I was not having any luck finding the person he needed and we were about to give up when I heard a strange noise coming from the kitchen. It was an odd meowing that was getting more and more intense and turning in…

moved by movies

I watched two movies this past week that brought out some strong emotions in me. When I asked my friends about their opinions, I was surprised to hear that they had not experienced or even seen the same things I had seen. Well, that merited some thought on my part as to what exactly I was responding to, so here are my conclusions. Please be warned that if you have not seen these movies, there might be some spoilers included below.

1. No Country For Old Men. This movie is garnering a lot of attention and nominations for its quirky characters and clever script. I went into it expecting to be intrigued. Halfway though the film, I wondered if I should walk out. I found it altogether too dark and somewhat predictable in that "I've got an awful feeling about this" way. I stayed to the end, which contained a huge dark stain followed by a glimpse of light. I left the theatre bothered, feeling ill at ease. Like I should take some action to make things right, but there was nothing…

wild Bible stories

Today the snow is falling again and I was without any running water when I got up this morning. Interesting stuff. Messes with ones plans for the day. So I am doing a quick blog while I await the return of water for my shower for one cannot venture out into the stores and banks and post offices smelling like yesterday.

Yesterday I was trotting around on my friend, Dave's, blog (http://www.nakedpastor.com/) and saw his latest video conversation with Shane from http://www.fakerepublic.com/. Excellent stuff. Go there right now and watch the fakenaked show part 2. It is about money and marketing and integrity and they toss in a few innapropriate remarks just for good fun. Anyway, that got me onto Shane's website where I came across this fine quote in one of his posts. I asked if I could include it here and he graciously agreed.

i shudder every time i hear the life-giving message of jesus preached as constricting, fear-inducing, death - the dysangel! i despair when the wild word of g…

the power of Mr. Gravel

We were visited by a blizzard yesterday. The snow started to come down in the morning and it did not stop till late at night. About 35 centimetres of it. Mid-afternoon, I decided to take a walk around and snap some photos. It was beautiful and wild and difficult to walk around in (at one point I sunk in up to mid-thigh level) and hard to see through, and I was soon wet and cold and out of battery power. We had a Christmas function downtown that we had to be at around 5 pm which meant we should probably leave by 4 pm to allow for the bad roads. Dean brought out the shovel just after 3:30 and managed to make a minor dent in the heap the city snow plow had deposited at the end our driveway. He came inside after a short while and said there was no way he could clear the massive volume of white. He started my car which was parked outside, and in an attempt to free it from a snowbank, managed to get it good and stuck in the drifts behind it. We really were not going anywhere unless our snow…

inconsistent or what

I have been having a discussion with some friends about the seeming contradictions of God as portrayed in the Bible. The particular story which was the focus of our talk was the one where God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. This could be construed as murder, which is strictly forbidden in the commandments which were cited earlier. I must confess, this story has always annoyed me a bit, as Abraham seems to be at the mercy of a God who demands something outrageous one moment, then changes his mind, all because he proved a point or Abraham passed the test or whatever the goal was. I guess we all hate the feeling of being a pawn in some larger game in which we have no control. I know I do. But I must also remember that from the start (that would be Genesis), God insisted that man have the freedom to choose. And choice is what takes us to where we are going.

Anyway, in my friend's living room, while we were talking and venting and in general just being honest about how…

do you believe?

We were talking about music Sunday night and I asked someone what "did it" for them when they listen to music. Interesting melodies, skillful musicians, fun and danceable - there were many answers. I added that I respond most to music when people believe what they are singing or playing. One can be a mediocre musician but if you believe what you are singing, there is an added element of beauty or power that will blow the most amazing technical but detached performance out of the water.

What is believing? I think it is giving yourself over to something, letting that protective wall down that we all use to shield ourselves from really showing who we are, and stepping into something that one cannot totally quantify. And it is a darn hard thing to do! Some days I do not know if I believe anything. There are days, like today, when I feel mediocre about my life and the tasks in front on me and everything I read and write seems flat and lifeless and the only thing my eyes see is the…

I like...

I was just making myself a cup of Chai and thinking about how I like the flavour and smell of vanilla, but others prefer chocolate. We all have different likes and tastes and no one could tell you specifically where they come from. Why do I (the lover of all vegetables) dislike the taste of brussel sprouts and Dean (the detester of most things green) love them? My friends have spent years trying to get me to like sushi, but I just can't do it (deal with it!) There is something creative and unique about our individual tastes. And that's a good thing. If everyone liked the same foods, that would not only be boring, it would mess with our ecosystem, I am sure. I grew up on a farm and know it is important to rotate the crops one grows in order to maintain the stability of the nutrients in the soil, so just producing all corn or all potatoes would eventually impoverish the land. If every man liked the same kind of woman, it would be disastrous for companionship and procreation beca…

time between times

I like moving. I like helping people move. I like looking at apartments and houses. Change excites me. One of my least favourite phrases in the whole world is, "This is as good as it gets." There is such a short-sightedness, false finality, and mediocrity behind those words that I have been known to shout out, "No, it's not! It gets way better than this!" when I hear it. There is a temptation as we acquire bigger and better and more comfortable situations in this life to consider that we have arrived in some way; that the struggle is over, at least in part, and we can relax. Well, rest is a good thing and a very vital part of life, but growth and maturation and development are never over. Not even in heaven! The presence of God is the place where the most exciting developments should be expected, where every day will be filled with wonder as layer after layer of his unfathomable character and glory are revealed to us.

Sunset and sunrise are some of my …

the cheat

I took a placement test today in preparation for another French language course I am planning to take in January. There were four other people in the room taking the same listening test which was meant to assess our competence in French in order to place us in the appropriate level. The instructor had other administrative duties to attend to so she left the room for part of the test. At one point, I heard some talking across from me and looked up to see one woman whispering the answer to another woman. I was rather stunned and hoped my stern glare would squelch the behaviour, but the dishonest woman seemed oblivious to anyone else and all my looks were wasted. I hoped it was just a one-time lapse in judgement, but every time the one woman hesitated, the second one said the answer out loud, loud enough for me and perhaps others to hear. I could hardly believe it! I wondered what part of her mind believed that helping her friend cheat on a placement test would ensure this friend a bette…

whole

For the past few weeks, I have been thinking about and exploring the concept of wholeness. Recently I have become aware just how splintered our lives are: job and family and sacred and secular and rational and emotional and conscious and subconscious and love and passion and obligation and responsibility and pain and pleasure and rest and relaxation. We categorise and compartmentalise and label and organise our entire lives, it seems, in order to fit it all in and make it work, but how many of us feel whole? When I look back at the basic concepts presented at the beginning of time as we know it, the goal was to be whole, to be one, to be in unity- with God first and then with each other. The first splintering took place when the we as humans decided that wholeness was inferior to personal advancement, and we started descending the slippery slope of comparison and competition instead of ascending towards the lofty goals of unison and harmony. Understandable, because unity requires sacr…

end of november thoughts

Okay, I admit it, I am not sure whether I like Christmas or not. I like the Christ child and I have been to mass and found it quite meaningful, but there is so much more that has become attached to this celebration. The original Christ-mass has become a whirlwind of parties and consumerism and eating and a season of a thousand things to do and expectations to buy gifts and send cards and bake cookies and decorate your house and wear red sparkly things and be incredibly excited and happy in the middle of it all.
Every November I think...I will just give some money to poor people in Africa that need a goat or a chicken more than any of us need another electronic gadget or DVD and explain to my family that's the way it is this year. If I never sent out a Christmas card, would anyone cry over the lack? If I neglected to make a big feast or did not bake the famous sugar cookies, would any one's health suffer? If I never attended a single Christmas concert or party, would that be so …

story

Last night we were invited to see a play, The Syringa Tree, with friends of ours. It is a story told through the eyes of a young girl growing up in South Africa during apartheid and filled with moments of joy and laughter, pain and bewilderment, love and loss. Our friends, who originate from South Africa, wondered how accessible we found the play because it was filled with references to that country and and a culture and time that they knew we could not identify with. We reassured them that the profound story and powerful performance were quite accessible to a wider audience. . I read the playwright's notes (she was born and raised near Johannesburg, SA) in the playbill this morning over breakfast. "Thirty years later, in a class taught by my director, Larry Moss, I unsuspectingly did as he asked when he said 'Turn to the person next to you and tell them a story.' Without warning, the image of an attack on my grandparents' farm, Clova, came roaring into my mind. I h…

the furniture in my head

Do you ever feel like things are unclear? You try to think things through and make good decisions, but there are too many variables, or the resources do not match the needs, or the timing seems wrong or for some reason, you just have no clue what to do next or even worse, no idea what's happening right now! You ask questions, you pray, you research, you get advice from others, you even explore a few avenues but nothing has a "rightness" about it. So you sit there, stuck, in a holding pattern, waiting for the fog to clear, and until it does, hoping that a foghorn sounds or a lighthouse pierces the mist to give you some bearings or at least prevent you from doing something stupid.

My world has been quite fuzzy in the past few years, but beginning a few weeks ago, things have been getting clearer and clearer. I have to attribute it to 3 things:
1. being able to recognise that my perspective is skewed and not in line with truth and determining to do something about it;
2. askin…

excluding

I spent the morning at the garage getting some stuff done on my car and had the opportunity to finish the book, Sex God, by Rob Bell. Some really good stuff in there. One of the things he talks about is the power of exclusivity. He points out that the language of much of the Bible when it speaks of someone's relationship with God is the language of marriage. The ten commandments are set up as a marriage agreement, outlining what is expected from the participants to make the union last and be all it should be. Is it any surprise then that the first item is one that precludes taking other lovers or objects of affection? There is a power of exclusivity that I think we miss out on all too often because it is popular to be inclusive and tolerant. Through the media, we get the message that it is normal and healthy to pursue many relationships and to tell intimate details to friends and strangers alike. Reality TV lets us see more than we should about people's lives. The 100% giving …

question mark

The state of things this morning was quite different from the state of things last night. Last night it was cool and misty, typical fall weather. When I looked out the window this morning at 8 am there was snow on the ground and it was still coming down. I had an appointment downtown (across a bridge onto the island of Montreal and then another 30 minutes away with no traffic) and wondered if the weather would make me late. I hate being late, especially when other people are counting on me.
Fifteen minutes into my trip I was sitting in slow-moving traffic, and I began to whine, "I'm not even on the island yet and I'm already stuck in traffic!" I hate whining, almost as much as I hate being late, so I am not quite sure why I insist on indulging in both of these practises occasionally, but I do. Nevertheless, this morning I smartened up pretty quickly and chose to pray instead and trust God with the timing. The snow cleared up as soon as I hit the city and I arrived in…

rising

I was away this past weekend at a leadership retreat for our church. We rented a chalet on the top of a mountain (a big hill, really) and waited on God, cooked and ate food together, waited on God, enjoyed each others' company and waited on God. On the surface, it seemed like a pretty low-key event, but the change in us when we got back to the Sunday night meeting was dynamic. It was like we had all just grown ten feet taller and were so much more focused and had so much more love and grace and direction and encouragement to give.

On Sunday morning, the last day of the retreat, I awoke at 6 am which is really unusual for me as I am a late night person, but there was a reason for it. On Saturday night we deduced that the sun came up over the lake the chalet was facing (we had all lost our sense of direction driving up the twisting mountain roads) and I thought, wow, the sunrise must be cool to see, so I asked God to wake me up if there was a good sunrise to be seen. And he did. I pu…

creating for a living

Today I did it. I finally delved into the murky world where art and money meet. You see, I have been producing various thoughtful writings, photos, scripts, fiction, music and other creative works all my life and seldom seen anything but the smallest amount of remuneration for any of it. And I have not expected any, to be truthful, and that is part of the problem. I have recently discovered that I do not believe that my creative voice has much value and therefore has little or no earning potential. So the very thing I love doing, that oozes out of me on a regular basis, that I have spent years honing and developing skills in, that I have devoted so much of my time and my resources to...for some inexplicable reason, I expect nothing back from it. Until now, that is. I have had an epiphany, a revelation, a download of truth, a light turned on. Here it is: my voice and my way of seeing this world is important and needs to be heard. I also have some pretty well-developed skills that peopl…

which way?

Last night I saw the movie, "Gone Baby Gone." By myself. It is not a movie you just go see and forget; you want to talk about it, so I called a friend who had already seen the movie and we did just that. It provoked a good discussion about what one would do when faced with a moral dilemma. I maintained that you cannot wait until you are put into a situation to know what you would do - this is very passive and leaves you ill-prepared to make decisions that could affect people's lives. It is our responsibility to develop a consistent moral compass so that we have some concept of what we would do when faced with a dilemma, otherwise we are really putting ourselves at the mercy of whatever emotional state we are in: whether that is anger or fear or adrenaline or just the first thing that comes to mind because it seems like a good idea at the time. None of these are good reasons to base ones actions on, in my opinion, though I must admit I have reacted from all of them at one…

the mouse

I have a mouse in my house. I don't know how he got inside as we live in a fairly new and relatively air-tight dwelling, but he is there. A friend who was over this weekend saw him scampering behind the stove while I was out on an errand. He bravely poked his head out again when I came home and I promptly grabbed the cats and instructed them to do their job. They chased him all over the kitchen and living room, and Tea laid a little siege when the mouse camped inside the tv cabinet, but all too soon the felines lost interest in the new toy that hid in spaces they could not reach. They soon retired to sleep and snore on the bed for the remainder of the night. A rather sad impersonation of cats, I must say.This morning Tea was meowing for food for her fat belly and I thought perhaps I should refrain from feeding her so that she would be a little more interested in capturing the mouse, but I wasn't sure she would understand my strategy (much less embrace it), so I just tossed som…

the power of one

Do you have recurring numbers appear in your life? I do. The number one appears many times during my day. I usually happen to look at the digital clock when it reads 11:11 or 1:11 (yep, I stay up that late and no, I am not a clock-watcher by any means). People tell me I am good one-on-one. I have clothes that are size one. I am not very good at multi-tasking - I like to do one thing at a time. I have one husband (okay, that's hardly extraordinary, I admit). Several times a week I spend wondering what all these one's mean. Yesterday was another one of those times.

We just had someone move out of our house after a few months' stay and it is amazing how much one person's presence changes the dynamic in a household. And how one person's absence can affect you in a profound way. Yesterday I had a friend call me for directions and after I told her how to get there in a few easy steps, she told me that I have a gift for making things simple and it eases people's stress…

fall back (trying not to)

Spring ahead, fall back (the nifty phrase used to remember what to do during daylight saving time.) It is just past 5 pm and already dark dark dark! That's what messing with the time zone does (thank you, daylight saving time inventor Benjamin Franklin). Although popular in North America and Europe, most of the world does not adhere to this ritual. Interesting.
Phew! I helped someone move this weekend and though very exhilarating, it was exhausting as well. Change always requires a good amount of energy (unlike stasis which requires very little) and sometimes we are tempted to forgo the evolution of our lives just for a moment in order to rest for a bit, let things go by for a bit. Whenever I feel that sort of passivity creeping into my soul, I know it is a dangerous thing. Comfort cannot be my motivation - EVER! Rest is a good and godly thing, but it comes from trusting God in all circumstances instead of relying on my own efforts, not from saying 'no' to forward motion. …

keep it real, baby

I love taking pictures, but it is a rather limited medium. The most sophisticated camera lens falls far short of the human eye. Sometimes when I am out with my camera and I know that it cannot really capture what is in front of me, I just set the apparatus aside and take a picture with my eyes. Aaahhhhh!
The other thing about photos is that you can only capture one portion of time. You miss the before and after, the context, the journey, the story. Life was never meant to be static; all creation is made to change and grow and mature and multiply and morph. If a photo is blurry (which usually denotes the subject was moving or I was breathing - silly me), this is deemed a bad picture. How odd that movement is seen as the cause of a spoiled image. MOVEMENT IS A SIGN OF LIFE! Sometimes I catch myself trying to take the perfect picture, especially with people involved, setting everything up just right, adjusting my vantage point, removing unsightly objects, and then freezing it all (myself…

worth - y

I have been rethinking my value these past few days and I realise that I do not agree with God on some things (and that is a bad thing). I do not think my voice is vital and important, so I stay quiet. I think other, more practical matters, are more worthy of attention than I am so I neglect my passions. I do not celebrate all that I am - the wonderful person God made in me - but believe I can find my value in making myself useful. So much of sin is really sabotage. We negate the power of the Creator by stifling the potential of his creation and instead, try to cram it into some two-dimensional version of success or meaning. I am desperately trying to unlock this potential, this dynamite of God in myself and finding it a tumultuous and often frustrating quest. Would that one simple step or word or prayer or attitude adjustment or action could set me free. But I don't know how to get from A to B. Jesus, help me. This yellow Land Rover screamed, "I am beautiful and worth taking …

is

I am trying to get back to some creative projects in my life and it is proving rather difficult. There are just so many practical and necessary tasks and of course, valuble time with people and occasional guests and oh yes ongoing correspondence and my part-time job and then the unexpected and usually welcome interruptions that I like being able to respond to. I find it hard to be creative on cue, but I think it is something I must start to do- schedule my creativity. I have been taking a module in identity (those life lessons God enrols one in and then provides lots of learning opportunities and homework and tests, you know the kind) and today when I was praying for someone while cleaning the bathroom, I realised I was asking God to BE an advocate for them when in fact, he already IS our advocate. So I changed my prayer and it became a declaration of sorts instead of a plea. And I think my life reflects that as well. I live like I am pleading for something more, hoping for some…

the book and the beauty

Today I started another blog. Don't worry, this one will keep on chugging away, but I felt it was time to bring some fiction out of the closet and see where I can take it. I hope to post the first chapter this week so check it out if you like. The link is on the right side of this blog under My Links, aptly titled, "my book."


These are some pictures taken today in my yard. Yes, it is a dreary, cloudy rainy day, but every day, even rainy days, are beautiful. On Sunday night during worship I was reminded that there is beauty in everything that God has had a hand in creating, even if it is tainted or broken or disfigured in some way. Unfortunately, we too often subscribe to the ideas of the world around us when we think of beauty and imagine models or California beaches or movie stars and movie sunsets. I was on YouTube today and the current rage seems to be videos of models falling on the catwalk, one of them quite dramatic as she plunges through a hole in the runway. As I …

late blooming

It seems that one never gets too old to deal with identity issues, in fact, I believe we will continue to develop and have opportunities to become more whole in who we are and how we see ourselves as long as we live. This past weekend I was playing poker with friends, and although I kept getting what seemed like great cards in my hand, they amounted to nothing over and over again and my pile of chips went into a steady decline, no matter what tact I tried. At one point I got really frustrated at another set of cards that failed to amount to anything, and I dishearteningly proclaimed, "So much potential, but nothing ever comes of it. It's the story of my life!" And at that moment, the mantra seemed to be true for so much more than poker that I was overwhelmed by the idea that it might really BE the story of my life. I retreated to my bedroom for a few "freak-out tears" and asked God if this was truly the case: if I in fact had failed to do much with the great po…

underneath

The drain in my bathroom sink had been rather slow for a long time. Last week, I decided to do something about it. I removed the stopper and took a plunger to it, hoping to push free whatever was hampering the flow of water down the drain. I pushed and pulled and plunged and splashed and the longer I did so, the more black chunks of really putrid, unidentifiable scum surfaced in my sink. My solution to this was to vigourously plunge in and plunge more. The black chunks got bigger and lumpier and I was getting slightly grossed out looking at them, so I turned on the tap to rinse them away. Oh oh! The sink began to fill with filthy chunky water and nothing was draining, not even slowly. I plunged and splashed and managed to filthify most everything within 2 feet, but all to no avail. The drain was now completely plugged. Hardly the results I had been looking for. I drove to the store and picked up my second line of assault: Drano. I poured half the bottle into the standing water in the …

what if?

Today I was sitting at Second Cup drinking a Chai Latte and reading another chapter in Velvet Elvis while my car was having its rear brakes replaced when a thought ran through my mind. What if everything I ever truly wanted is really available in Jesus? And what if that availability is not some future hope, but begins now? What if the only thing stopping me from living in this state of being is my denial of it, my refusal to believe it by refusing to live like it is true? My denial of the completeness of the act of Jesus becoming man and paying every debt I ever owed and erasing every consequence of sin? My insistence that my identity is an incomplete and broken individual instead of a new creation? What would happen if I truly believed and lived like God wanted to dwell with me, here and now, in my present state and that it is totally possible because of Jesus?

I am not talking about hype or utopia or great riches or instantaneous healings and miracles everywhere. I am talking about …

unlock

This morning I had a revelation. An epiphany, if you will. A few days ago a group of us encountered a very disturbed man who managed to manipulate the discussion into a direction that none of us wanted to go. It was a learning experience for all of us, I think, and it took a toll on me emotionally, no surprise, for I tend to turn these things inward. In hindsight, I realise that I vacated my post as a leader in this group and instead, stood by feeling powerless. I knew something was wrong and should be stopped and yet I froze, feeling inadequate and wondering why no one else did anything. This morning I realised that I acted out of insecurity instead of godly instinct. I usually do not have the strongest personality in a room and often defer to those who do, even if I have insight to offer and the authority to direct things. I often doubt myself and my thoughts, because if someone I like or respect disagrees with me, can my view really be right? I hate the feeling of being isolated an…

road tripping

Whew! I just came back from my third road trip in 7 weeks and though I love traveling and driving, I am glad I didn't say YES to a fourth one to Nashville this week!I am continuing to read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in truth, reality, and embracing the constantly changing journey of faith in a refreshingly honest and accessible way. One thing he says that has stuck with me is how the reading of the bible has become a solitary practise when it was always meant to be read and discussed and wrestled with in a community setting where questions could be posed and multiple viewpoints, additional knowledge, and various insights could give one a more balanced and definitely more interesting reading experience.In fact, I would daresay that many things that we do privately in our individualistic culture are meant to be done in a community setting, especially where matters of faith and character development are involved. You can't hide in …