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publish me

I got my picture taken for the school paper yesterday so I guess that means they are going to publish the “Peace and Radicals” article I submitted (see the December 7 blog). It is a good feeling when something you have created turns out to be appreciated by someone other than yourself or your immediate circle of friends and family. As a writer (and photographer and musician and actor and artist at large), it is my job to create and explore beauty and truth and that gives me great joy. Sometimes, though, the pressure to be published or shown or get a paying gig or recognised in some way by the general public takes some of the pure passion out of my creativity. I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow writer this past summer in Mahone Bay.

We had both spent the better part of a year writing our first work of fiction and were entirely thrilled to find someone else who had gone through this intense creative process. We were both invigorated by the challenges of writing something…

NTKB: need to know basis

I want to know things. Big things, little things, future things, profound things, things that are true and certain, things that will not change, things that will change, things that make decisions easier, things I can depend on. I have noticed that I am not the only one. Especially when discussing life and faith issues, many people want to know things. How can I know God is real? Will things work out for me if I do this? Can I trust God? What is my purpose? How can I forgive when justice is not done? Why do bad things happen to innocent people? Is this the right career path? Is this the right person for me? What happens when I die? Will good really win out over evil? Why doesn’t the Bible make more sense? How long will I live? We all want answers to our questions, but what happens if we don‘t get the answers we think we need? All too often, I think we are waiting for some assurance that the outcome will be to our liking before we commit to something, and that keeps us…

and now for something completely different...

Last night, or rather early this morning, I wrote a little something for the brand new student newspaper being started at my school. Though I set out to compose a lighthearted inspirational story that would bring a smile to many faces and most importantly, not offend anyone at this multicultural, multi-faith, in some ways anti-faith institution with a definite rough side to it, the following is what came out of my head at 2:00 am. It is much too wordy and slightly argumentative and I don't know how the name Jesus snuck in there when I was really trying to be inoffensive, but I submitted it this morning trusting that God did in some way answer my prayer to give me the right words.

PEACE AND RADICALS

If peace is indeed defined as an absence of war or conflict, then the hope for friendly co-existence between the peoples of this earth seems as far-fetched as it has ever been. When questioned as to the source of this growing climate of dis-ease, many people blame the “radicals” of diff…

pearls

In the course of a conversation over a week ago, the phrase “The Pearl of Great Price” came up. Since then, these two little verses from Matthew have been following me around in my mind and in conversations and correspondence and other encounters.

“Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls. Who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46.

This morning I picked up the book I had started to read last night and encountered this very phrase again. Let me just go ahead and admit that I have been running from this concept. I started to write something on it last week, but found other things more pressing. Every time I hear the phrase in my head or encounter it elsewhere, I keep telling myself, I will take some time later to think about it. But most telling is the fact that I have not opened my heart to let God speak to me about it. I have not asked him what he thinks about it…

what are U looking at?

I workout to an exercise DVD 3 times a week. I have been doing this for several years now, and though I occasionally change the DVD, most times it is the kick-boxing workout that I follow, and after watching it umpteen times, I can predict every move and every word that comes from every person. There are 3 females on the DVD; one is the instructor, one is the faithful side-kick and fellow personal trainer who has been with her for years, and the third is the new gal. After a few months of following the DVD and getting the moves down, I found myself watching the new gal a lot, because she was the one that often stood out - the one making the mistakes and falling behind and needing the instructor to help her out. I began to notice every time she hesitated, every time she faltered, or moved to the left instead of the right, or did not lift her hand quite as high as the rest - mostly because it gave me something to focus my mind on and avoid boredom as the whole thing was getting pred…

detemined choices #$&^Q(#&$)(*&$

I have just finished painting the first coat on the walls of my newly renovated bathroom. I can be pretty indecisive at times and I am trying to work on that, so it was no surprise that right after I bought the paint colour that Dean and I had agreed on, I had second thoughts and almost went right back to the store and bought another colour just as a back-up. I have been living with my indecisiveness for many years and know it as part of the fear and paranoia I am trying to rid my life of, so I ignored the familiar urge to re-think the decision and instead, went home and spread the paint on the walls and am happy to report that it looks good and I have no regrets. A friend of mine says that making no decision is worse than making a bad decision - with a bad decision you can always learn from your mistake and in most cases, right things in some way, but in the case of indecision, you are paralyzed. Being faced with choices is something we all have to deal with and the better we get…

the feast of KINDNESS

I spoke about one of my favourite Bible stories almost 2 weeks ago at church: the one where Elisha defeats the raiding enemy people by hearing their ambush plans from God and after he has captured them, preparing a feast for his enemies instead of killing them (2 Kings 6 if you want to check it out). The bit about the servant’s eyes being opened to see the supernatural fleet of horses and chariots of fire that were God’s protection around them is really cool, but the part that struck me this time around in the story was the feast of kindness. Amidst all of the killing and conflict and rooting out of evil in the story of a nation of people trying to dwell in a sometimes wild and somewhat unconquered land, this unlikely act stands out in bold contrast.

This past week has been a bit of a tough one for me: all the activities and guests and medical appointments and paperwork deadlines and phone calls and travel plans and care-giving just seem to clump together sometimes and the last f…

the bathroom lady comes over

I had an interesting experience a few weeks ago when I contacted a company to come out and give me a quote on installing a shower in my bathroom. The person on the phone called me to get directions to my house, which is totally understandable as I live next to nowhere. I explained all the twists and turn, starting with…when you get to a split in the road, keep to the left. The lady called me back fifteen minutes later, saying that she had turned right at the split as the way left just didn’t seem right to her and now she was lost. That was a bit odd, but I instructed her to turn around and take the appropriate exit and then told her which street to turn onto from there. She called back in ten minutes, at a crossroads, not sure what to do next. I explained which street she should be on and after telling me I had spelled it wrong which was why she could not find it, she seemed to be okay. Five minutes later, the phone rang again. She was getting annoyed at this point, calling my…

from the shower to the grave

After almost a year of thinking and planning and measuring and calling people and sighing over large sums of money and looking at all the models available and realising walls were in the less-than-ideal places and asking plumbing questions and overall indecision…we are getting our guest bathroom downstairs remodelled and a shower installed. I love having a house with space for visitors and friends, and one of the first things I had hoped to do after we bought this home was to install a shower in the second bathroom so that our guests wouldn’t have to traipse up 13 stairs to use the shower on the main floor. Instead, we ended up doing almost everything else first, for no other reason than every time I tried to make the shower thing happen, I hit some obstacle, until a week ago when everything just seemed to fall into place. Timing, it seems, is something you just can’t fight. But we do.

There is a natural ebb and flow to seasons and growth and rest and work and play, but our North…

TASTE & see

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good… Psalm 34:8

There is so much of God
to know
Experience
See
Hear
Taste
Touch
smell and feel
that he has invented a space and place called…eternity
so that we can begin to fathom
who this one we call FATHER is

He is a perpetual feast
a cornucopia of adventure
and mystery
beauty so rare and captivating
that in a lifetime of gazing
we will not be able to fully comprehend it

This wild
bigger than life GOD
asks us to come
taste
participate
grab hold of
and enjoy the very essence of himself -
It is not a polite sampling he invites us to
no dainty drawing room portions
but the reckless
throw-caution-to-the-wind
do not hold back
dig right in partaking
that a 2-year-old indulges in when presented with chocolate pudding
or honey
or watermelon.
The experience is smeared all over his face
and caught in his hair
his eyes shine with delight
and nothing else exists right then but the sweet stickiness of joy in his mouth.

Throw away the fork and knife of care and worry
and calculated ratio…

ankles and serpents

Watering lawns can be hazardous to your health - just ask my husband. He fell off our budding new grass this week and broke his ankle. Strange as that may seem, it is true. Other contributing factors were darkness, uneven terrain, a 3-foot embankment of soggy clay, and khaki pants (they attract incidents involving dirt and mud).

Being the strong and easy-going guy that he is, he joked through most of the afternoon that we spent at the clinic and emergency room, spoke encouragingly to the resident that attended him, and gave the nurse a teasing hard time when she demanded he use a wheelchair. I cannot complain about his positive attitude towards this mishap and his calmness in the midst of it all. Nevertheless, after a long day at the hospital followed by a long evening when I tried to catch up with all my work and homework while tending to his few needs…I found myself in a complaining and whining state of mind. I felt bad that instead of supporting and caring for and nurturing …

the lawn...part 2

The lawn on our property was finally planted on Monday - five days later than planned due to non-favourable weather conditions, but there was nothing we could do about that and I assured my landscaper that I wasn't worried about a slight delay. Monday turned out to be a perfect day for the job and we finished ahead of schedule. After 6.5 hours of labour, I let out a big sigh of relief as I surveyed the perfect black soil evenly spread and compacted to safely house its precious seeds. It rained the next day and that made my lawn and me very happy. Yesterday, however, the predicted rain never really materialised and I knew watering would have to commence. This was easier said than done.

I live in a town with very strict regulations regarding lawn care and the like. No pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals are allowed and water usage is kept down to a minimum. Last week I purchased the necessary permit from the town hall to water new vegetation and was somewhat shocked to find…

fascination

Yesterday, a young gunman entered a downtown college here in Montreal and opened fire, killing one person and injuring 19 others. Montreal police were on-site immediately and thanks to their courageous and timely intervention, the 25-year-old killer was neutralised in relatively short fashion (he died in a confrontation with the police).

I am hesitant to even write anything on the topic because I have been so inundated with non-stop talk and news about this shooting in the past 24 hours that part of me cringes every time the gruesome details are replayed or more updates and theories and personal anecdotes are presented. It is not that I am squeamish, though I do think of myself as a fairly compassionate person, but through all the attention this event is getting, the focus seems somewhat off-kilter and unhealthy in some way.

This morning during a break in my French class, I was wandering the halls of the Adult Learning Centre I attend (all students are 16 and older) and happened to p…

the LAWN

On September 13, I will be getting a lawn. We have lived for almost a year in a modest but beautiful home surrounded by crushed rock, weeds, sand and dirt. I spent a lot of my summer putting in flower beds and painting the deck and improving the yard as best I could, but in the end, weeds and rocks are still rocks and weeds and even the prettiest flowers look a bit sad against a backdrop of prickly, spindly thistles, misplaced rocks, and rain-pocked sand.

I started getting quotes for installing a lawn early in the spring. The first two quotes I received were enough to send threatening quivers of impending extinction through my bank account and I quickly moved on to other, less expensive projects (flowers starting at $4.99), but as August drew to a close, I knew we had to tackle the issue again, for I was determined to have a lawn before the frost of a Canadian autumn hit the ground. So I asked God to provide me with a nice lawn at a reasonable price and to point me in the direction…

why are you angry all the time?

This question came from a friend of mine this week and I thought it was a tongue-in-cheek, ridiculous observation designed to annoy and provoke me and therefore, merited nothing more than a laugh. So I went ahead and laughed and then, not wanting to be rude, asked them…are you serious? Well, yes, they were. So I stopped and thought for a moment. Truly, I don’t see myself as an angry person, and was feeling no animosity towards anyone at the moment so I wondered where this comment was coming from? What signals was I giving off that made it appear that I was angry? I have made it a point to be open with my emotions (too much so at times, but I am working on that) and often react spontaneously to situations instead of thinking things through and as a result sometimes inappropriately blurt out the first thing that comes to mind (working on that as well) and tend to be reactionary instead of initiating and deliberate and visionary (yes, yes, I know…I need to work on that too).

Sigh.…

l-u-x-u-r-y

What is luxury? I had an email from a British friend who, after heightened security measures came into effect in England recently, considered it a luxury to be allowed to bring a book onto a plane. It is strange how the idea of luxury changes with ones circumstances. When I was growing up, a television and a dishwasher were luxury items. Now I have more tv’s than residents in my house and a dishwasher is not a negotiable item if you talk to my husband (insert smiley face).

Three meals a day are considered luxury in many parts of the world, yet to many of us in countries like Canada, a day without a chocolate bar or a trip to Tim Hortons or Starbucks is cause for feeling deprived. Over time, the commonness of things seems to make them less of a luxury item and the inverse is true as well: handwritten letters have become more of a luxury and email a necessity. Cars are a vital part of our lives and a long walk is luxury. Hand-made items are more valuable than mass-produced good…

precisely

I occasionally participate in a discussion forum online and one of the threads I frequent is the one on religion. I have noticed a trend among many of the participants that is rather disturbing to me: they base their assumptions on the viewpoint that science as we know it today is the ultimate gauge of truth and precision is its essence.

While I agree that science and precision are definitely included within the spectrum of truth, I do believe it is a rather small worldview to parade facts as equal to truth. Truth is so much larger than accuracy. While you can freely discuss music and movies and relationships and art and even politics on this forum with emotion and a certain amount of ambiguity (i.e. admitting you only know a part), once you enter the realm of religion, it seems that to a majority of participants, everything must be scientifically proven and free from any hint of wonder or uncertainty or mystery and even reliable ancient Hebrew and Greek texts are not sufficient to…

2 kind of related things: feasts and counting

1. Tomorrow we leave on vacation for a week. As I write this, the last of the laundry is drying, clothes are laid out on the bed (as are the cats), the air mattress has been patched and packed, the list of supplies is ready and waiting for me to go shopping, and directions and reservations have been made and confirmed and communicated. Oh, and 8 other people are joining us on this road trip to the East Coast to participate in the National Gathering of the Vineyard church.

There are times to rest and enjoy solitude, there are times to rejuvenate ties with ones spouse/family, and there are times to celebrate and refresh your spirit and soul with feasting and partying and communing within the context of a large group of people who are similar in their love for God but very different in their expression of it. You read a lot about these types of feasts in the Old Testament and personally, I think we could use more of them in our community of faith. We tend to be too preoccupied with…

Legit or not?

My computer died this week. Let us take a moment of silence to remember its overall faithful and productive service, and even though its last month was fraught with difficulties and illness, I speak no curse words against it. It was simply finished. Sigh.

Today I have been wondering what the difference is between an excuse and a legitimate reason or cause. Is anything that stands in the way of accomplishing something good and honourable an excuse? Should you always find a way to overcome whatever obstacles there are? My computer was ill and I spent days trying to nurse it back to health all to no avail, but really, I could have made time last week to write something on this blog - we have a work computer I can access (and I am doing so right now) so was the computer acting up an excuse for not writing, or a legitimate reason? As I have been mulling this over today, this is what I have come up with. Feel free to add your insights if you like.

1. Priorities: I guess it comes dow…

inside my head and heart

It has been way too long since I wrote something. Trips and visitors and feeling like I had nothing to say have kept me away from this blog. Actually, I did sit down one night, attempted to write something, came up with a few paragraphs of absolute drivel, turned off the computer and walked away. Probably just as well - I have not been in a stellar state of mind.

These past few weeks have been an interesting period for me - while a lot of cool things were happening on the surface, beneath the skin of everyday life there was a cold-blooded sickness trying to make a home in my soul. I have never battled with depression or mental illness, but in the last little while, I felt like I could better understand how someone could fall prey to an unruly mind. My thoughts were barraged by scenario after scenario of every insecurity of mine being played out to its logical and disastrous conclusion. Before I could get a grip on my thoughts and say...wait a minute, this is ridiculous...they w…

lesson from a funeral

I am currently in Winkler, Manitoba (the centre of the universe, my husband would say) for a family visit. I flew out to play at my niece's wedding and one of the first things I did was attend a small family funeral service for my uncle who had just passed away.

Now, you should know that I HATE funerals and have not been to one since my father's in 1983. But in Winkler you are expected to attend the funeral of anyone you know, and there was no way I could gracefully bow out of this one. I did want to see my aunt and let her know she was in my prayers and thoughts, so I decided I could probably handle the small family gathering the day before the funeral and then it would be okay to skip the more formal public funeral the next day. I borrowed some funeral clothes (I had not brought anything sombre enough - a black strappy sundress was voted as unacceptable by my family) and let my mother drive me to the funeral home. We visited with some relatives outside for a bit because …

playing and working

I am rehearsing the music for a wedding I am playing at in 8 days. Playing for weddings is an interesting thing…I do not really find it all that enjoyable, though I get a great deal of satisfaction from doing it well and making someone’s special day everything they want it to be. You have to leave your own personal taste and artistic ego aside, for you usually end up playing pieces you do not like, having to learn some challenging selections that you would rather not put into your repertoire, playing some boring music (surely these people know there are more than 3 chords!!!), and spending hours and hours of your life preparing to play basically background music which most of the people attending will never remember and in fact, during much of your fine performance, will most likely end up talking over it. To be fair, there are usually a few pieces that I truly enjoy and some friends have given me much liberty in song selection, but the thought of being a professional wedding music…

I AM NOT A FAX MACHINE*$&%&%$*

I have been receiving calls from a fax machine for…oh…for about 5 or six weeks now. The calls happen pretty much everyday, Monday to Friday, sometimes starting as early as 7:30 am and usually in a sequence of 5 or 6 calls at 5-minute intervals as the machine is obviously programmed to automatically redial when it does not get through.

After a few days of this, I was getting slightly annoyed so I pressed *69 and got the number and had my husband send a fax asking them to stop calling me and letting them know they had reached a residence and not another fax machine. It was no use. The calls continued. I tried to look up the number on the internet but only got a location…no name or address because the number was being serviced by a third-party phone provider. Two weeks into this, I called Bell and told them about my problem. They promised to sort it out, but it would take a few days. That was about 3 weeks ago and I have begun to make peace with the possibility that the fax machi…