Friday, March 30, 2007
2. My car switched from winter tires to summer ones yesterday - the official sign of spring here in Quebec.
3. I had a cat incident this morning. Jazz jumped onto the bed, unaware that my face was exactly where she hoped to land. Surprised, she quickly dug her claws in and jumped right back off again. Ouch! I look like I have been in a bit of a street brawl with the lacerations above my left eye - hopefully this will improve my ability to intimidate and influence people to unquestioningly respond to my requests as they will assume I am someone not to be messed with! Well, one can hope, right?
4. I have been battling a silly cold all week (lost my voice for a few days as well) and yesterday started to feel symptoms that were not good: spells of fatigue and a heavy chest. These were all too reminiscent of my bout with pneumonia over a year ago and I did not want to go down that road again. I asked Dean to pray for me last night and as I was falling asleep, again asking God to clear my chest of any infection, I tried to figure out what "Be healed in the name of Jesus" really meant and if I honestly could say those words with conviction over myself. I know those words are in the Bible (In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk), but I feel uncomfortable with them for some reason. Nevertheless, I prayed for my body to come in line with the will of God and this morning I feel a lot better.
5. I am reading a book on hell (how often have you heard someone say that lately?). I didn't meant to buy a book on hell, I thought it was a story of one's man struggle with faith, but well, it turns out that your view of hell really determines what kind of God you believe in. Is he an exclusive God or an inclusive God? I am finding it an interesting read.
6. Well, I am trying to play backgammon with my friend from South Africa while I type this and I have already lost one game, so let me cease this unsuccessful attempt at multitasking and go and teach him a lesson on the second game.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
This is a picture Dean took in Cuba of the coral reef at the end of our beach - gorgeous when the waves crash against it, but sharp and impossible to walk on barefoot.
I had a job interview today. It went fine and the two men I was talking to were very pleasant and gracious. As they started to list the tasks and events I would be responsible for if I got the position, I started to feel a little anxious because I already had some plans for this spring and summer (good and noble plans like a weekend away with Dean and hopefully some travel to visit friends this summer) and this job with all its obligations might threaten to cut into these wonderful things that I really wanted to do. I decided the only thing to do was leave the matter in God's hands and trust him with whether or not I got the job, but a tiny concern was still there.
As I drove to the vacuum repair depot this afternoon, the real reason for my anxiety suddenly struck me: I believe that my time is my own to do with as I please and when my self-determined plans get threatened, I become anxious or annoyed. After only a few seconds of hesitation to make sure this was what I wanted to do, I told God, "My time is yours. Whatever you consider to be important at this point in my life and necessary for me to accomplish, I will do. I submit my plans to you and you can change or fulfill or rearrange them as you wish."
The anxiety left. Surrender really is the key to freedom from stress. God, my time is yours.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
We are a large, beautiful, resourceful and history-rich province filled with passionate, creative, and skilled people. Let us be generous of spirit (even extravagantly so), open-hearted in our dealings with each other, and conduct ourselves in a way that makes the rest of the country proud to have Quebec as a brother.
“There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people.” - Sir Winston Churchill
Monday, March 26, 2007
This is a picture of the moon taken on March 22, 2007 in Cuba. I find the moon very difficult to photograph for two reasons: 1. it is not very bright and somewhat small so unless you have a major zoom lens, most of the picture is black, and 2. I seldom have my tripod when I see a nice moon and my human body cannot hold a camera steady long enough to get a clear shot. However, balconies are great things to lean on and I thank the Blau Costa Verde resort for thoughtfully building some right where I needed them on that night. The shot is not perfectly steady, but the movement works in this case.
One of the things I have been learning about in the past few months is the concept of surrender. You think you know what it means and you say yes, my life is surrendered to God, but then I react to a situation in a bad way and see that my life is anything but surrendered - I very much want to have things go my way and I get annoyed when they do not. And so I am retaking the life-course on surrender right now and finding it challenging and surprisingly, joyful! Who knew that leaving the choice up to someone else could relieve so much stress and heavy responsibility in ones life? One morning I woke up in Cuba with this phrase in my head: If you can't have your way, whose way would you have? It is obvious that we will not always get our way in this life, and in that case, whose way would we like to be subject to? That is really the choice we face every day. Whose way are we going to follow? If we truly believe that God is smarter and wiser and good-er than us, then why do we still fight to get out own way?
The moon is not the sun. It is merely a reflection, not the main source of light. I am like the moon - a reflector of the glory of God, small and partial it may be, yes, but I show the glory of God. Yet so often, as a mere reflection of the source of all light and life, I pretend I am the sun and believe that I am the centre of the universe and things must fall into orbit around me. More than just being a ridiculously funny and absurd concept, this tendency to make myself the centre of things throws my entire life off course as I fight the very laws that God set in place when he created me. The moon does not chart its own course. It finds its place in relation to a world full of people and ultimately, submits to the strong pull of the brightest and purist light we know. Let me do the same.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
6. While we enjoyed a multitude of channels in our hotel room, we were told that the Cubans only have state channels accessible to them.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Well.. As guest blogger on Matte’s site, I feel greatly honoured. I have witnessed first hand how she diligently maintains it and considers thoughtfully each night what she will write. I willingly admit, I’m totally addicted to reading Matte’s blog. It's definitely on my Internet "favourites" list- for quick and easy access.I want to write a bit about my time spent at Dean and Matte's house. It is a little overdue, because it was about 3 weeks ago now that I left their home, but it cannot go unsaid! I won’t go into details, but basically Dean and Matte have been extremely kind to me. They invited me to stay with them while I was in between jobs (my new job is now in Toronto) for 2 weeks. I had even planned on asking them the favour , but I didn’t have to – they beat me to it. That in itself was a huge blessing to me. And then I got to know them…. …. … …. … And it was wonderful! Simply wonderful.
I know Matte is way too humble to tell everyone how wonderful she is, so I’m going to take the liberty of being a guest blogger and tell everyone out there for her. She deserves a little lashing on of the love. So I just want to write a little about what I experienced while living amongst these two wonderful human beings in their home.
Generosity: Firstly for inviting me to live with them, eat their food, use their stuff (i.e. the wonderful computer, electricity, the computer, water, the computer, and …. the computer… I seriously must owe them at least a million bucks for the electricity the computer used for the amount of time I was on it…..) Secondly for plain and simple outright generosity- Dean and Matte graciously blessed me in many ways, especially financially. I appreciate their thoughtfulness a lot! They went above and beyond nice. They went seriously generous.
Fun FUn FuN! These people are fun! Oh my goodness, I needed a good laugh, I hadn’t done so in many weeks since leaving my home in Australia. From experiencing Dean’s gourmet year-round BBQ-ing in the snow culinary skills with red meat, to Matte’s, "The food is not for eating!!" (It must be in the cupboard for at least 24 hours before anyone is allowed to consume it. It is there for visual purposes only- then after 24 hours, she gives the all clear.) And as you may have read about, the quirky word games we played. My one for today is : (random keyboard letter selection) LKNDF LET’S KINDLE NICE DOCILE FIRES. Well there you go. A nice docile fire coming right up. Anywho- Back to the fun things we did. Matte acted as my own personal tour guide, which meant I got to see some more of Beautiful Montreal before I left. It was great. She’s so much fun to explore with and she understands my wanting to stop and take photos all the time!! Yay for millions of photos.Quality time with a wonderful woman.
This is how I see Matte, this is what I have experienced to be true of her character: Matte is a beautiful lady. Inside and out. I’m going to talk about her insides though. She’s extremely humble. She never boasts or tries to talk herself up. She has an amazing ability to make you feel worth talking to, and worth listening to. She highlights your strengths, and helps you understand yourself more. She sees deeper than most people. She is fun and is not concerned about what she "should" be doing in the eyes of others. She is just her. She laughs, she values humour and an open mind. But she will not let anything take her captive. She guards her heart. She’s real, open, honest and GENUINE. I really value what she has to say a lot, because I know it is exactly as she sees it, not as she wants to see it.
She doesn’t hide (much- we all hide in a way I guess… since Adam and Eve hid, so have we all hid). She willingly admits her faults (which no one else can see anyway so why bother?!). No in all seriousness, she isn’t afraid of faults, she learns from them, and openly shares her experiences with them. But at the same time, she does not blurt out all her life story onto you or overwhelm or overload you in any way. She is tactful and pleasant to communicate with. She makes you feel completely equal, no less, no more than herself. She puts you on an even playing field. She is wise and thinks about things. She doesn’t take what the world tells her. She forms her own opinions, and tests them alongside God’s thoughts on the matter. She chats away to God, about anything she wishes. About small things, about big things. She knows He cares, and she knows He’ll tell her the things she needs to know. She is bold and confident in her faith. She represents Him the best way she knows how.
Matte never complains (unless someone eats the food too early), and never fights her way to the top. She graciously considers the opinions of others, however, she is not afraid to challenge them gently. She accepts the leadership of her husband with great dignity and respect, but is never weak or unsubstantial. She honours him and only ever speaks highly of him. She is diligent in the things she has to do, her areas of responsibility. She is thoughtful, and considerate of others, and practices generosity towards them. She looks out for them, she seeks to better other people’s lives, and bring joy to those around her, near and far. She values truth, and does her bit in the world to reveal it. She always looks at things from a different angle, challenges herself, and allows herself to be challenged by others and God. She has a teachable spirit. She is smart, logical and erratic all at the same time. She’s silly, serious and sane. She’s a witty and bizarre mixture of fun, wisdom, reality, dreams, truth and imagination. She’s a lively character, but is not hyperactive, she stays calm and holds things in perspective. She sees every challenge as an opportunity to grow. And she seeks to grow. She’s just overall down right lovely. Hospitable, Enjoyable. Inspiring, Loving, Joyful. And she does kick-boxing 3 times a week- that just says it all.
I have loved getting to know you, Matte, in the short time we had. I respect you a lot. Thanks for becoming a very dear friend, my memories of you will always be wonderful ones that I will cherish forever. You have truly been a blessing to me, and I thank you for everything you have given me. I value your wisdom and outlook on life, and I think both myself and many others can learn a lot from you. Every time I think of you, I cry! It’s true. I just, I guess I am totally amazed at how God placed you both in my life and how timely that was, and how much it helped me to get a grip on what I was doing and give me a leg up to the next part of my life. You guys were hugely instrumental in that happening smoothly for me, and I am endlessly grateful for that, so so grateful!! So to everyone out there that Knows Matte, or doesn’t, I want y'all to know that I think she is the bomb-diggity. (That’s a good positive happy thing in Australia…) Why not send her a little compliment today, in her "comments" section. She deserves a little loving from us all.
This photo of Dean, Jaclyn and Matte was taken at Popessa's on March 1, 2007 where we were celebrating Jaclyn's time with us.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
2. A shallow white sand beach where you can wade in for at least 30 metres and still only be waist deep.
3. Coconut yogurt - yum!
4. The most creative chambermaid named Nivia who makes art out of blankets and towels. Yesterday our blanket sculpture was a swan wearing my sunglasses! haha
5. Dean getting lots of sleep! (very good)
6. Reading a good book with the ocean waves crashing in the background.
7. Watermelon for every meal!
8. A leisurely horseback ride up into the countryside where we saw farms, farmers, animals and a beautiful view from the hillside.
9. Pina coladas by the pool.
10. Wonderful and talented Cuban musicians who all know how to not only keep a beat but mix complex rhythms together AND dance at the same time. Wow!
11. Did I mention watermelon? Oh, and sun, surf, sand, and smoking the competition at rifle shooting! We are known as the most dangerous couple in the resort! haha
This is me on the beach at sunset (just put the camera on self-timer and run!) on Thursday, March 22.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
We leave for Cuba in 2 days. It is a welcome and much-needed vacation for Dean and I am happy to go with him. I was just reading the end of 2 Chronicles this afternoon where a 70-year exile was imposed on the people of Israel to make up for all the unkept sabbaths. Yikes! Though keeping the sabbath is not one of the top commandments in many people's minds, this story reminds us that it is not to be ignored.
As Jesus demonstrated, keeping a holy day is not about ceasing all labour nor about a specific period of time that is untouchable. It it about not finding your source in your own efforts. It is acknowledging every minute of every day that God makes the difference, not my labour. It is about being able to rest with confidence that he will always supply everything I need and refusing to become part of the self-reliant community that seeks to make its own way and success.
When was the last time you truly had a sabbath? When you stopped your mind and soul from analysing and planning and making to-do lists in order to successfully complete the next phases of your life and just rested in the fact that God is the giver and sustainer of all life and right now, that is enough. And it always must be. Unless God builds the house, we labour in vain (Psalm 127)
This photo was taken at sunset on Mont Royal in Montreal on February 27, 2007.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Friday, March 09, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I have been sending out daily emails of 40 Days of Offerings (a simple and brief devotional exercise to do each day of Lent) to our friends and church community. Today's suggested exercise was to stop all the noise for a bit and LISTEN. Sit in silence and hear. Read a passage from the Bible out loud and hear. Ask God to give us ears to hear. I sat with Tea at the dining room table and after reading my Bible, listened. This is what I heard:
* Tea licking herself clean (she does this rather noisily)
* the fridge running
* my breathing
* the wind outside
* the house creaking
* an MSN alert when Amy from Toronto signed in
* the clock ticking in the office
* my stomach gurgling and digesting
I also asked God to let me hear him more clearly and he reminded me of a verse I had just read in 2 Chronicles 29. This is verse 11 from The Message: "Children, don't drag your feet in this! God has chosen you to take your place before him to serve in conducting and leading worship - this is your life work; make sure you do it and do it well."
Only minutes after I read this verse, I received an email from my friend Awa who was praying that today I would hear one of those founding truths from God that last a lifetime. Thank you.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Saturday, March 03, 2007
1. Bounce the chicken meat around.
2. Every cactus loves yelling, "Come!"
3. The toilet paper is all fun!
4. Crazy Jello builds wiggly you.
5. Married dogs electrify night skates.
6. Come shovel heavy fluff - interesting!
7. The eggs clapped for mom.
8. Green peanuts make everyone throw-up.
9. "Have fun," said chatty Edmund.
10. Drama has elephants, you cheap!
11. Gladly make nine avacado vacuums.
And if anyone is feeling the vibe, go ahead and make a sentence with the following letters as the beginning of each word: K D E W M. Post it in comments. Enjoy!
Jaclyn, I miss you already! No worries!
Thursday, March 01, 2007
When walking on water, always keep your eyes on where you are going.