Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2005

peace and nothing

At the beginning of December God showed me that I was not operating from a foundation of peace in my life. Yep, you’re right, God, let me readjust that. And so I became more aware of remaining calm instead of getting stressed out, not letting little situations bug me, giving people the benefit of the doubt, keeping a closer check on my emotions when they threatened to go all weird on me, and things were pretty good. We were at relative peace (meditative hum).

Ten days ago I developed a little fever. It was nothing, just get a little rest, take a few Advils, it will be gone in a few days. Six days later I was thrashing around on the bed wondering why someone didn’t invent something beyond beds; because if you are standing up and feel bad…you sit down; if you are sitting down and feel bad, you lie on the bed; if you are lying on the bed and feel bad…there is nowhere else to go to get relief. I was on my bed and had no relief. The prolonged fever was affecting my brain, my dreams, my abil…

Breakthrough

Everyone has them…those disturbing selfish tendencies or annoying impatient attitudes or judgmental prejudices or gripping fears or glaring weaknesses that we just can’t seem to totally get rid of. We wrestle with them off and on, we could in fact have long spurts of freedom from the besetting vices, but when some event triggers that wound, that Achilles heal, that fragile and often unhealthy defence mechanism or mindset or emotional reaction – we realize we are not entirely free of it after all.

Discipline and self-control are good things; they go a long way in helping us lead more stable and consistent lives, and though they can assist us in not giving in to our baser and unhealthy urges and help us in dealing with unpleasant and painful situations, they will never remove the trigger point itself, the hook in the flesh, the agitating sliver, the shrapnel under the skin, the tender spot that just never seems to totally heal. Discipline cannot bring wholeness.

So are we doomed to just “…

Mad

I got mad this week. Unpleasantly mad, uncivilized mad. I could feel it coming and twisting my mind into a mess of unreasonableness and my soul into a heap of disgusting desires to do mean things to people who neglected to conform to my narrow and oh-so-right ways. It was almost like I was standing beside myself and as I stewed about a situation and let myself get more agitated about it, blowing the implications into massive proportions in my mind, I could see the black cloud approach behind me, waft slowly to my side, linger for a bit to see if it was welcome, and as I fed my self-pity for the mountainous wrongs others had so carelessly tossed across my path, I saw my body turn slightly towards the cloud and step into its hungry path. I wasn’t going to let it stay long, just long enough to take a sweet moment of justice, long enough to make someone pay for their mistake by feeling my displeasure, just enough to satisfy the disappointment I felt and to abate the floundering feeling of…

butterflies

I am not talking about those wonderfully colourful flighty creatures that float on the air, having started out as an unattractive ground-bound cousin of the worm and almost inconceivably hatched from a cocoon coffin. Not this time, though that sounds like a wonderful topic for a future blog.

I am talking about those moments just before something ‘big’ happens when your stomach lurches and becomes weightless for just a second and whatever you are doing at the time suddenly becomes insignificant in light of the coming event. For me as a child, Christmas Eve was always a night filled with butterflies surging like waves through my midsection as I lay in my bed and listened to the endless ticking of the grandfather clock marking off the long minutes of a seemingly endless and sleepless night.

These days, my sleep is seldom interrupted by anything but persistent cats demanding food or a Diet Dr. Pepper that perhaps should not have been consumed at 11:30 pm. The excitement and anticipation I e…

THE small STUFF

My life is filled with a lot of things that are small. I DO a lot of small stuff like bake muffins, clean the bathroom, iron shirts, put up shelves, take care of banking, read my Bible, pray for people, write emails, make the bed, pet the cats, take pictures, and study French. I AM relatively small. No matter how much protein powder I ingest or how many push-ups I do, I will never be a large person. Most of my clothes have a label that says “S”, I can fit through an 8 inch gap without any trouble, and most 13-year-olds can wrestle me to the ground in short order. I am FASCINATED by small things: an ant, a pebble, a penny, a leaf, a puddle, a word. Sometimes I wish I lived on a grander scale; that I oversaw the design of sunsets, or planned world summits where enemies had to be roommates and make meals together and learn how to get along, or I discovered how to instantly transport matter from one location to another. That would be cool! But let me tell you a small story…

There was a gir…

Ode to d.e.a.n.

Today I had lunch with someone that I am just starting to get to know in my French class, and in the course of telling each other a bit about our lives, I mentioned some things about my husband, Dean. Her response was, “Wow, he sounds great. I hope I find someone like him.” (yeah, she is young and single). To which I replied, “Yes, everyone should have a Dean!” And that got me thinking about all the things that make Dean so great. Here are a few:

- someone who knows when to take you seriously (weeping uncontrollably when things disappoint me) and when to laugh at you (weeping uncontrollably when I read a book)
- someone who never leaves one doubt in your mind that he will always be faithful, and tells you so
- someone who thinks you are the most gorgeous babe around even when you show him your wrinkles (he thinks they’re cute)
- someone who will stand up for you when others say mean things
- someone who will always tell you the truth – “that is a hideous colour on you”
- someone who n…

clean up

Moving...

I am now sitting in my new home office filled with 11 brown boxes, 4 bare beige walls, a red clock to let me know I am probably late for something, and a great view of the woods. From my perspective, moving is a good thing and should be embarked upon every few years. It makes you sort through everything you own and re-evaluate whether or not it is still pertinent to your life, plus it forces one to clean all those hidden, underneath, never seen places – ugh!

I hate cleaning. Show me a person who likes cleaning and I will ask them to come to my house and find all the joy they want. Not that I am a filthy person, no no, I do my weekly cleaning and keep things fairly tidy, but it is a chore. Dust is a result of sin, the decaying of our bodies, the reminder that we live with death every day as speck by speck cells that used to carry life fall around us (90% of dust is dead skin). And I just don’t like the fact that hours of my week are spent removing filth and dirt and remin…

just for criminals and wrongdoers...

I am reading through Leviticus these days and though the book can get tedious to a modern Western mind (like mine) that can’t comprehend why all these regulations and stipulations for worship and sacrifices are necessary, if you remember that this is a holy God communicating a way of doing things in order that people can approach him and not die (for we humans seem to have a certain propensity towards death and sin instead of life and righteousness, and God has an unfaltering desire to bring humankind near to him)…well, it all makes a lot more sense.

One of the things that struck me about the difference between Levitical law then and our law now is how we have divorced the consequences from any sinful or illegal act. Any crime, no matter what it is, is punishable by jail time (or some restriction of freedom such as house arrest or parole) or a payment of money. The very heart of God screams, “Restore! Repair! Redeem!” in order that relationships and communities might become whole a…

The Cans

Things I cannot do:
I cannot make someone love me.
I cannot foresee what one simple action will set into motion.
I cannot get rid of my loneliness - totally.
I cannot hide the way I really feel about someone or something.
I cannot tell a lie well.
I cannot make pain go away when I see it in someone’s eyes.
I cannot trade my life for someone else’s, be it out of envy or sympathy.
I cannot do everything I want to in a day.
I cannot grow any taller.
I cannot get younger.

Things I can do:
I can love someone, more than one someone, even it if makes me look silly – people in love don’t mind looking silly.
I can do a simple thing like listen, or talk to someone, or buy someone a drink, or touch someone who is feeling untouchable…instead of criticizing, ignoring, or judging.
I can be a friend – everyone could use a friend.
I can lead with my heart, making transparency and integrity my constant companions – not ashamed to be seen for who I really am.
I can tell the truth and do it with love – but it takes lot…

The Story of the House

In my last blog, oh too long ago, I mentioned that we were looking for a new home. The story of how we found a house is simple yet extraordinary at the same time (as so many profound things often are) so let me tell it to you.

We had been thinking of buying an investment property, something that we could fix up and sell for a profit in order to build our equity for the future. On a drive around our island (yes, we live on an island, but not the Caribbean kind) we spotted the perfect candidate: an undervalued and neglected nearly new home in a very nice development, and the seller was motivated. We called up the real estate agent immediately and were informed that the property already had an offer on it. We persisted and convinced the real estate agent to let us see it anyway – it was exactly the type of house we were looking for. We asked her to inform us if the offer did not come through as we were very interested. A week or so later we drove by the house again and noticed that it was…

dream on...

We are in the process of looking for a new home and today the kind husband of a real estate agent said to me, “I think – no, I KNOW you will find the house of your dreams!” I smiled and nodded politely, all the while thinking to myself, “I don’t really want the house of my dreams, at least not now – I want a good investment, a property to fix up and sell for a profit, and by necessity that means the house will be less than ideal.” And I was convicted by my ready dismissal of his inspiring words. The man had a better grasp on reality than I did, and here’s why:

1. I assume that my dreams will come ready-made, no assembly or hard work required. In fact, most dreams appear as a seed, an idea, a squalling baby, a vision, a dilapidated old house that needs restoration, or a promised land that requires a desert trek and some big battles and sacrifices in order to make it your own.2. I believe that my dreams are frivolous – no one really needs a dream home, least of all me. Just give me a rel…

PLAGUES!!!

Now here’s a nice light topic for you. I am reading through Exodus and the story of the plagues that God sent on the Egyptians is just gross! Really…just picture an infestation of frogs, or all your water turning to blood, or flies covering every surface in your home. Ugh. Why would God send such disgusting torments on anyone? Because they were stubborn and hard-hearted.

In order to move something that is hard - like a large stone - you require forceful means, and if the rock is very large and resistant to your best efforts, you bring in explosives. However, if you are trying to move something soft – like a nest of birds - you will use care and delicacy in order to keep it intact. Hard things are treated totally different than soft things, and so it is with hearts. In this age of tolerance, people can get very upset by a God who presents himself as judgemental or disciplinary. But let us not forget, God IS the ultimate judge since he knows what is in our hearts, and in order to develop…

does this look like rescue to you?

I love this interpretation of Exodus 5:23 from The Message. Moses was expressing his annoyance at God for things getting worse instead of better, for not going exactly as he had envisioned in this rescue operation God sent him on. Well, the problem with us here-and-now, time-bound, earthy homo sapiens, is that we often assume that things are as they seem, that the situation is exactly as it appears, that ‘right now’ is an accurate picture of where things stand, but from my experience, that is seldom the case. The story is never finished, there are always new developments, and what initially appeared to be a setback very often turns out to be a catalytic factor in directing one to a better way.

I have sometimes been told by well-meaning Christians that what I am doing ‘looks’ like something that is associated with some form of ungodliness, at least in their mind, and I can tell they are uncomfortable with the whole thing. What the heck am I supposed to do with that skewed bit of informa…

Getting Younger

I received a letter from my mother this week and amidst all the newsy bits, she included this piece of wisdom:

“Some people are always excusing themselves for their looks, etc. So I said, ‘We are created by God, made in His image and then we look in the mirror and say, I don’t like it. Where does that come from?…’ The way I see it, the growing older, balding, greying, etc., it was all in God’s plan. Besides, the fountain of youth that we would all covet for our bodies is not as important as our character that we build by allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to us the Fruits of the Spirit.”

One of my main gripes about our current society is how we have made staying young more valuable than growing old. Now there are certain things that I deem are worth fighting against as we grow older, and they include the loss of such things as strength, vitality, flexibility, bone mass, general good health, a sense of adventure and a willingness to learn. But I will not fight against the maturin…

WALK

I heard a story the other day about a man, an evangelist, who wanted to make an impact in a certain country, but he had no contacts in this land and therefore, no opportunities to do anything there. So what he felt he should do was visit the place every year and walk around - nothing earth-shattering happened, he just walked around. For five years he made periodic visits to the country and walked and walked and walked. During the sixth year, on one of his visits, he met a person who introduced him to someone else and this contact gave him an invitation to work with and speak to the people in this country and thus the door opened to doing the very thing he had envisioned all those years.

I found this story strangely encouraging, because most of my life seems to be spent walking around. I would love to be thrust from one thrilling adventure to another, leap from one success story to the next, have one vision after another fulfilled, but alas, many of my days are spent plodding along. One…

a.s.k.

I don’t like asking for things. People say men don’t like asking for directions. I don’t either, and I am not a man. I would much rather figure things out for myself, complete a project knowing that I did it myself, or prove that I can learn something new or do something I never did before by not giving up, or at least not asking someone else to assist me. There is some merit to this dogged determination, but most days I would have to say I probably don’t like giving someone any power over me: the power to say NO and thereby reject me or some part of my life by refusing my request, the power to take part of the credit and satisfaction for something I might have accomplished on my own. And most of all, I don’t like to be needy, weak, or helpless in some way; it makes me feel stupid.

This means that I also ask God for very little, at least specifically. I ask for great and vague things such as wisdom, truth, courage, strength, protection, direction, love, purity, forgiveness…you get the …

untainted

I love progressive change. I love seeing things and people and relationships being restored. I love things getting better and better instead of worse and worse. I love to see people rising up and accepting challenges. I love encouraging people to reach their potential and going beyond those imaginary limits that we all put on ourselves. It is the process of redemption.

Part of the problem with redemption is that all we have ever known since the day we gasped our first breath of earth’s atmosphere, is a world tainted by the presence of sin and evil. We all long for things to be whole, be pure, be right, but if we truly ask ourselves, we have little concept of what that would look like. Just take a brief survey of what people think heaven is like and you will get everything from blank stares to elaborate imaginations that hold no basis in reality or perhaps a few vague notions of what we can expect. In the end, we really can’t grasp the concept of heaven, for it is totally foreign to us.…

Money $$$ Bucks

This is another one of those topics that so quickly becomes awkward when you bring it up in a conversation. The most frequent arguments in family and business are about money. It is deemed impolite to inquire about someone’s financial status, to ask how much something cost, or to reveal too much about your own bank account. Why? These days we actually try to hide our financial status, and poverty as well as wealth carries some stigma with it. That makes no sense! Surely we are not that shallow as to judge a person by their personal belongings, or the number of zeros in their bank account. Or are we that paranoid that as soon as we get something of value, we believe others will want to strip us of it? Perhaps we think that if the unhealthy condition of our finances were truly known, people would think less of us, or be hesitant to trust us. I have no idea, but we certainly lack an openness on this topic in our society.

There is a power that we have given to money: it rules much of our l…

Free the Will

I have just finished a most interesting book, A Vindication of The Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. I admit that this is a bit of an unusual read for me, but a friend gave it to me at exactly the same time as I was studying the beginning of Genesis and really understanding for the first time the curses we as women (and men) live under as a result of defying God, and I thought the timing was most apropos. I will not revisit the topic (see my previous blog entitled “Curses”), but let me give you a few quotes that have stirred my mind:

“Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience; but as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endeavour to keep woman in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a plaything. The sensualist, indeed, has been the most dangerous of tyrants, and women have been duped by their lovers, as princes by their ministers, whilst dreaming that …

Tolerance

Is that word starting to irritate you just a tiny bit? The misplaced empowerment put on this word makes me cringe. This concept is being touted as the new “standard” that we are to work towards as responsible world citizens. Okay, I’ll play. Let’s try that word out in a few situations:

I will tolerate my children.
I desire to tolerate my husband.
Wouldn’t it be great if I could invite my closest friends over and we could tolerate each other.
I look forward to going to work on Monday and tolerating my colleagues.
All those poor people in Africa with AIDS, how I long to tolerate them.
I wish we could have a world leader who was a really strong tolerator.

Hmmm. It seems to lack a certain something, doesn’t it? I understand the concept of not standing in judgment of those who are different than I am, but “tolerance” is a very weak concept and a totally inadequate way of combating prejudice. Tolerance boils down to one thing: avoidance.

Have you ever observed tolerant parents or a tolera…

Curses!!

Today I was reading in Genesis, from “The Message”, and it was like I saw something clearly for the first time. Those blasted curses that Adam and Eve brought on themselves by choosing independence instead of relying on God have been following mankind around for thousands of years and despite the life and death of Jesus which was supposedly a redemptive act to end all need for redemptive acts, we still seem to living under them to a large extent. What the heck for? What is redemption if it does not affect the basic consequences of the very act it is said to redeem?

The woman’s curses: Basically, two things were set in motion for her: 1. her relationship with men was changed and 2. she heaped increased pain on herself in childbirth.

It seems that the feminists are the ones who have actually picked up on the detrimental effects of this first curse and are trying to do something about it. The church, well, we have managed to look at our imperfect heritage and a few scriptures which seem to…

Are you at home?

A few weeks ago I was taking a train ride back to Stratford, Ontario where we used to live and as often happens when I travel, I found myself experiencing that strange jumbled sensation which simultaneously and randomly shifts my emotions from the sadness at leaving home to the joy of coming home to wondering exactly where home is to longing for familiar friends and places, yet knowing I will never find them exactly as I remembered them to excitement at the new adventures and relationships I have yet to discover. As I let the changing moods and scenery drift past me, I was reminded of one of my favourite playtime activities as a child: building a home. I spent hours drawing houses on paper and envisioning the 3-D model in my mind. Often I dragged all the kitchen chairs into my bedroom and constructed a maze of hallways and walls. The tall grass and trees along our driveway were the perfect raw materials for creating a primitive outdoor getaway with several small rooms and a grass …

initiating

I must admit, I am a better responder than an initiator, which sometimes makes it difficult for me to come up with something to write here without a question being asked or someone introducing a topic for discussion. I confess I have always found it a bit nerve-wracking to call someone up and ask them to do something, though I have learned to overcome that hesitation to a certain extent. I would much rather prefer to respond to an invitation, but I figure that a bunch of people sitting around waiting for invitations won’t get anything done, so I have learned to pick up the phone or type that email or walk up to someone, even though it is out of my comfort zone sometimes.

There are people that are very aggressive and ambitious in their personalities, that believe life is what you make of it, you are responsible to make things happen, you are in charge of your destiny, you’ve got to have a plan and carry it out or nothing will happen. I live with one of them! But I have also seen tha…

What Makes A Good Friend?

This is something I have been thinking about lately as I realize one of the most important callings in my life is to be a friend. I have been in the habit of befriending those whom I am naturally attracted to and letting relationships ebb and flow as life takes me to different places and circumstances and changes swirl around me – never too sentimental about people as they come and go in my life. But in the past year or two I have been challenged to be more intentional about things that are important to me, and I realize that good friendships are made, not the result of a series of fortunate events. Growing and maintaining a friendship requires time, effort, generosity, vulnerability…but wait, I am getting ahead of myself. At a recent home group meeting, we put together a short list of what makes a good friend and I thought I would share the results with you. Here they are:

- Depth of honesty
- Unconditional love
- Faithfulness
- Good counsel
- Fun
- Enjoyable company
- Generous and sha…

The Things People Say

We just returned from 4 days in New York City, a sort of mini-vacation that was a gift from the folks in our church who were wise enough to know that a change of pace can do wonders for your soul. While we were there the news was filled with talk about a story put out by Newsweek that mentioned US troops flushing the Koran down the toilet as a tactic to get some prisoners to talk. The story incited some rioting in Afghanistan and 17 people ended up dead. The sad part is that the report turned out to be unsubstantiated and the incident most likely never happened. So who is to blame for the 17 deaths? Primarily the radicals who got violent and directly caused the rioting, but the reporters and publishers are not without blame. The thing that saddens me about today’s media is that while believing they have the freedom to inform and influence, they do not seem to want to take the responsibility for the weight their words carry. Someone’s right to know or tell all is supposedly more…

Something people don't like to talk about:

I have recurring dreams about being naked. Many times I am in public, often I am trying to take a shower and people are watching or won't give me any privacy, and though the dream might begin with my feeling confident and secure, it usually ends with shame and frustration getting the better part of me. Now, if you are a professional psychoanalyst, I am sure you have a ready diagnosis, but let me offer a few observations of my own.

Despite being a somewhat shy person, I have little trouble revealing some very private things when I think there is a point to be made. I have shared these dreams with people on several occasions, and there are always two reactions.

1. People listen politely and then pretend they never heard it. And if I bring it up again, they either change the topic or leave the conversation. There are some things people are just not comfortable talking about.
2. A few people respond by taking me aside (for some reason it has always been men) and wanting to speak to me ab…

What a Girl Wants...

to be known for who I amto laugh without hesitancy and cry without shameto love without selfishness to embrace pleasure and suffering with equal courageto know someone very different than I am and not feel the need to compare or judgeto be needed by someone and know I make a difference in their livesto be truthful and confidentto be loved even when I am unlovelyto give good gifts of lasting valueto be with people and not afraid of rejectionto be alone and not lonelyto be special and know itto explore and be exploredto be held close

be@peace

I have been reading through the Amplified Bible as my current translation of choice and yesterday I came across a particular phrase that struck me hard enough to leave a mark.

“…may there be peace – every kind of peace (blessing), especially peace with God, and freedom from fears, agitating passions and moral conflicts.” I Peter 5:14 amplified

Argh. These are the exact three areas which I find myself struggling with over and over again, and I need to remind myself that wrestling with these things is not merely a tiring, futile ordeal, but it is indeed meant to develop strength and skill and maturity in my spirit.

Freedom from fears: Yeah, I admit to a life-long struggle with fear. I am afraid of the dark, death, demons, people not liking me when they get to know me, hurting someone, never amounting to anything special, getting old and useless, trying really hard and failing, snakes, deep water, losing people I love, being ignored, making a wrong decision that messes things up real bad, n…

Anyone can be RICH!

Really, it’s true. Being rich “implies having more than enough to satisfy normal needs or desires” (thank you, Webster). Well, I guess my first question is why anyone wants more than enough? Doesn’t enough imply that you have…well…enough? (Enough can be defined as “to a degree or quantity that satisfies” - Mr. Webster again.) But at this point we enter some fuzzy waters (hope you don’t mind the mixed metaphor). How does one measure satisfaction? While one person might think that owning a bicycle is enough, someone else might believe that a car and a truck and a motorcycle are absolutely necessary for their lives. Some are satisfied with a bowl of cereal for a meal, others insist on a full four courses. I cannot tell you what enough is, that is something you must work out in your own life, but I know there is something inside of mankind that is constantly craving satisfaction, and very few people experience it for extended periods of time. Hunger is a good thing, but not if it is a sta…