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Showing posts from January, 2008

+ + + + + - - - ++++++ (more pos than neg)

I read a most amazing document today: the English translation of an open letter published in November 2007 from the Archbishop of Quebec, Marc Ouellet, in which he repents for past sins of the Catholic church in Quebec. (see http://www.catholicregister.org/content/view/1302/849/)

This week I found myself on the negative side of the compass. I complained about everything from the provincial government, to Catholicism, to secularism, to the passive entitlement attitude of people in this province, to the wind and ice, to annoying things my friends said to me, to living in my small town. Rather wretched, I know. I am not sure why this deathly habit grips me occasionally - I hate the person I am in these moments. I repented a lot for it today, not sure anything was changing in my heart. Regret is not always enough to change the course of ones life. When I came across this public letter of repentance, the fire of hope burned deep in me again. Hope that we can change, that evils can be redeem…

what do I say when I pray?

I pray. I have a short list of people that I pray for every day, for them to encounter God and know his goodness and be the people they are meant to be. What I pray for them changes every day, but it is always pretty much toward those goals. I often ask God what he is doing in situations and request his direction in decisions. I ask him to show me the truth about certain things. I pray for people as I encounter needy situations during my day. Sometimes I am just grateful for something and tell God how cool I think it is. Often, these days, I remind my soul and again reaffirm my trust in God regarding timing and major changes and events that are upcoming.

Some days I listen to the words that come out of my mouth, or the thoughts that whirl around in my head when I am talking to God and I realise it is all sounding very imperative. God, MAKE me a better leader. God, HEAL that person. God, BRING the right people across my path. God, COME and CHANGE us. God, GIVE us our daily needs. God, H…

cease fire

I took Jazz to the vet yesterday for her annual check-up. It is always an ordeal. She hates the place and as soon as she hears the vet's voice, she digs her claws into whatever is nearby and starts to growl. They have a system for dealing with this type of feline: no one touches her until she is wrapped in a towel and held by an assistant equipped with thick gloves. Then the examination begins. Poor Jazz. Poor vet. This is not how the relationship is supposed to work. One is concerned for the well-being of the other, and genuinely likes the other; there should be affection and gratitude and respect and trust and good communication flowing between them. Instead, there is a wall of distrust and the interaction takes on a hostile and defensive quality.

Sad to say, I have some relationships like this in my life. Somewhere along the line, in the course of living and interacting and making mistakes and saying things one did not think through and disappointing people and being disappointe…

the myth of peaceful co-existence

I once ate 3 servings of homemade tapioca pudding followed by a few glasses of fresh apple cider. You can guess what happened next. There are certain combinations of food that do not do well together. Citric acid and milk are one of them. They cannot coexist at the same time in the same place - they are in opposition to each other's purposes, one being a base and the other being an acid. This week I started another French course; it is making a bit of a mess of my normal weekly schedule because I have 4 less hours each day to work with, and the pace at which I used to do things has to change. Yesterday, I was still laundering bedding at midnight. Considering Dean wanted to retire for the night, that was a bit of a problem. French class and laundry cannot co-exist in the same time frame. I must choose where my time will be spent.

Dean and I were talking to someone last night about working balance and priorities into life. Let me paraphrase some things that were said: If w…

5 berries, 5 happy thoughts

1. Dean comes home tonight after 7 sleeps away. The cats are good company but their conversation skills are limited, they cannot pick me up and whirl me around with glee, and their smiles do not cause my heart to beat faster.

2. I have been reading some interesting blogs lately, one in particular that has much to say about how far everything in the church falls short of the mark. He moans about the lack of culture and excellence and depth in the evangelical community, pointing out its self-serving programs and mediocre art and music as examples of how far we have strayed. I agree, we are weak and poor and wretched, finding it easy to wander away from our creator instead stepping towards him. We are but dust. I wanted to argue: finer music, larger vocabularies, more complex paintings, and elitist cultural attitudes will not prove to be the church's salvation, buddy! Somewhere in the midst of my frustration and discouragement and anger towards the burdens these half-truths and slashi…

who am I talking to?

Today I was reading the story of King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38 and 39. Interesting fellow. He faces some fierce battles, but because he brings them before God and realises the nation's total dependence on Him, he and his people are saved. Then, after a big victory, he gets sick. A prophet of God comes to him to tell him he will die from the sickness. Hezekiah is not ready to go down so easily. He petitions God for longer life and is granted 15 years. Not bad. But things do not go so well for Hezekiah after this; he gets proud and tries to impress some big shot strangers and pays dearly for it by being the catalyst for his people's exile and his sons' castration and forced servitude. And he has no clue what he has done; he hears the warning of God about everything being taken and hauled off to Babylon and he thinks, if God says it, it must be good. Besides, surely nothing bad will happen in my lifetime, this gift from God lifetime. Warning? What's a warning? God loves m…

can you see me now?

I have been wearing glasses for just over 53 hours - slightly less, I guess, because I don't wear them when I am sleeping. I have been a faithful contact lens wearer for many years now and wearing glasses for more than a few hours at a time takes some getting used to. I even went to see a movie last night with four eyes and it was fine. However, once you are used to the consistent sharp vision and effortless clarity that contact lenses offer, completely unfettered by frame lines, what I see through my glasses seems to be a cheap imitation.

The reason for this sudden change in what I put in front of my face in the morning is that I am going to the Montreal Eye Clinic tomorrow for a consultation regarding laser eye surgery and the tests require that I be contact-free for three days. I have had myopia since I was a teenager and it is just something one lives with. Optometrists become your friends, and pupil dilation and sticks with yellow dye on them pressed onto your eyeball don'…

FoCuS

There is one thing wrong with the spiffy camera Dean bought me for my birthday a few years ago: it does not have manual focus. Instead of highlighting the wonderfully ripe cherry above, the all-knowing camera believed that the disturbed snow on my deck was a much more interesting subject.

Today, I also feel sightly out of focus and wish there was a handy manual setting to realign things in their proper perspective. Perhaps it was the trek outside to wrangle some windblown trellis out from under my deck that resulted in cracking my head on a wooden beam and then breaking one of the trelli (I am almost certain that is the plural form of trellis and if it isn't, it should be), or the fact that Tea was convinced that she needed a second feeding and meowed in my ear for an hour this morning interrupting my 8 hour sabbatical, or the detour on the way to the bank that sent me driving through winding residential roads without cause (at least in my opinion), or any number of tiny things tha…

4 sale

It's official. Our house is on the market. Today Dean and I performed the traditional ritual associated with such an occasion: we went through our closet and tossed out clothes we don't wear anymore. Though I do not fancy myself a sentimentalist, I was surprised at the attachment I felt towards certain items. The value of said items of clothing is not in how well they fit me or how they fill out my wardrobe nor even how apropos they are for a certain occasion or situation. I hesitate to let a certain sweater out of my closet because I like the way it feels, even though it is misshapen and faded. I don't want to get rid of a T-shirt because it was a gift from my beloved sister, even though I have never worn it and never will (sorry, it just does not fit me). I love my old slippers with the natty fur and paint-stained soles and ripping seams just because they have been through 3 years of my life with me.

But I also realise that sometimes it is just time to move on. These ite…

the critic

I was reading some rather heated comments today between bloggers of differing opinions. It did not make me as uncomfortable as it used to, despite the cutting and sometimes slanderous remarks (despite all of these people professing belief in the same God). I am getting over my fear of conflict. Conflict is normal and inevitable in this world and it is actually good for me to encounter people of differing opinions. If I cannot take criticism and honestly listen to it, searching for whatever bit of truth might be there, I am in a sad, self-righteous state indeed. But how I treat these "others" probably says more about my character or the state of my heart than all the wonderful and correct and theologically sound arguments I can toss at my critics and those of other beliefs.

I went to a workshop on apologetics put on by Bob and Gretchen Passantino a long time ago. Not only were they brilliant people with incredible minds, extensive knowledge, and an uncanny ability to r…

water pressure

It is warm outside. Plus 10 in January. Very unusual for Montreal. Considering that we had ginormous amounts of snow in December, the warm weather is resulting in a lot of water for everyone to contend with. Rain - melting snow - fog. Great for getting rid of all the ice and snow on the roads, not so great for orderly and well-managed drainage. Last night Dean went downstairs to make sure the sump pump was doing its job and he discovered a tiny patch of wet carpet near a rear wall. We set up a dehumidifier (an exercise in futility as the humidity was not high enough to trigger it) and manually turned on the sump pump a few times and when we had done all we could, I freaked out! I had a real estate agent coming the next day to appraise our house and potentially put it up for sale and this was just a bad, bad turn of events. I lay in bed, utterly convinced that the good life was just about at an end, unable to concentrate on reading one of my favourite authors. Finally, I set the book …

drink up

A little while ago I was re-reading the story of Jesus' first miracle: the turning of water into wine at the wedding at Cana in John 2. Nice little story. It has been used to illustrate everything from Jesus' approval of liquor to God caring about the smaller details of our lives. At this last reading just over a week ago, I asked God what the point of the story was, and the answer was unmistakable: It is a wedding! Jesus celebrates weddings! Anyplace there is love, commitment, mutual submission, a coming together of differences, unity, the joining of one to another, oneness, family, and unselfish unconditional affection, Jesus is present, celebrating, adding something to the occasion, turning the ordinary into the best. He loves weddings so much he instituted the celebratory institution himself as a picture of his desire to be one with us. One of the most intimate pictures of Jesus is as the bridegroom.

Being the church or body of Jesus is so much more than holding me…

just start

Sometimes I sit here at my computer and sift through the thoughts in my mind and some of the readings I have done lately and a few of the life situations that have made an impression on me, and as I think and pray and ponder and try to envision what epic written work will spring forth from my fingers next, I realise I just have to start. Waiting and planning will not make vision concrete. There is always life happening in and around me. There is always learning, there will always be thoughts coming, situations arising, and truth to be discovered anew. It is a matter of jumping in and engaging with my world and seeing where we can go, what I can make of it, do with it, where this path will take me.

Sometimes my internal life thinks it is a replacement for the external one. I cannot let it go there. I need the jostling contact with people both familiar and strange, the abrupt and even uncomfortable collision with the cultures around me, the intrusion of other wills trying to bend me to t…

the last straw

We had wonderful plans for New Year's Eve - a few good friends would come over, we would play games, eat food, watch movies, laugh and have good conversations, be warmed and filled and feel all good about ourselves. It was not to be so. Within 24 hours, all of our invited friends had informed us that they could not come - good excuses too, like previous commitments or sickness. When the number finally dwindled to zero, I snapped. It was the last straw. I got mad. What was the point in making these giant efforts day in and day out to connect to people and be a part of their lives when they just turned around and rejected you? I felt alone and abandoned and undesireable and unpopular. I was mad at people for saying NO and I was mad at myself for expecting too much and mad at God for not making it all right somehow. So this was how 2007 was going to close - on a pitifully sad and low note.

Or not. Somewhere, in the back of my mind beyond the lies and overblown misperceptions, behind …