Monday, December 21, 2009

Keep On Swimming

“‘Cause I could spend my life just trying to sift through
What I could’ve done better but what good do what ifs do?”

*~ “Forget and Not Slow Down” by Relient K

I’ve been looking through old blog entries and journal entries, and have been doing my best to recall what I have set for goals in previous years and I’ve noticed a trend.

I repeat.

I’m going to write more. Improve my marriage. Lose weight. Organize my house. Do right all the things I’ve previously done wrong.

Yet by the time another year draws to a close, I feel as though I’m not any further ahead. My house is still disorganized. I still can’t fit into the jeans I wore however many years ago. The areas I wanted to work on in my marriage are still ‘meh’. And the manuscript I was going to tackle has maybe had a page or two added to it.

But after many listens to Relient K’s song “Forget and Not Slow Down” and, in particular the lines quoted at the top, I think I’ve finally clued into what the problem is:

My perspective is all wrong.

I’ve been so busy looking over my shoulder and reminding myself of the mistakes I had best not be repeating with a good dose of “If onlys” thrown in that I’ve lost sight of where I wanted to go. In a way, I have been using my past to determine my future. And I’m sure you can figure out what that means. Yup, I’m repeating my past. Over and over and over again.

Now I’m not saying there aren’t lessons for me to learn from past mistakes. There have been lessons learnt, and there will be more to learn in the days ahead. It’s a part of life. But in order to better “Keep on swimming” and to get to a new destination, I need to look in the right direction so I don’t end up going off-track.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understadning.
Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.

*~ Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NLT)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cleaning and Legacies

“Not well-traveled, not well-read
Not well-to-do, or well-bred
I just want to hear instead
Well done, good and faithful one”

*~“Legacy” by Nicole Nordeman

I need to clear stuff out of my house. Both my husband and I do. Even better, we both realize this and are finally beginning to do just that (contrary to the way some piles are growing as we work our way through the rooms of our home). Oi, this was all much easier to do when we were getting ready for a move. Whatever we did not want to bring into the new house was tossed/donated, and what we were taking was neatly packed away. Now we have to just sort and put in order and . . . but it's best to stop the whining and just get through the stuff we've accumulated over the last nine (almost ten!) years.

This in-depth house cleaning has also let to my taking stock of different things I have going on in my day-to-day routines. What needs to be tossed or kept in terms of habits and the like? Which then leads to questions about what I want to be remembered for when my time here is done. Will people look at this life and see God’s hand in it? Will there be lives that have been touched in a positive way because I allowed Him to work through me and in me? Was I salty? Was I an accurate reflection of God (at least in part – He is so big!)?

Or will this life be remembered for its frivolity? A “me-first” type of mentality? For opportunities missed or squandered?

Now I’m not going to go down a road of despair and self-flagellation. That doesn't create the kind of change I'm looking for. But there are things which need to be cleared out. I mean, how much time do I need to spend online reading this 'n' that? How many TV shows do I really need to be watching? How much attention do I really need to be paying to me and my ‘stuff’? Isn’t the focus all to be on God anyway? Am I really being a servant?

Lots of questions and not a lot (if any) answers at this point, I know. But as I'm often reminded there are always going to be things which need to be thought on, changes which need to be made. As my pastor has said many times (probably because it needs to be heard many times), God loves me just the way I am but He loves me too much to leave me that way. I'll always be a work-in-progress on this side of heaven. Oh, may there be work and may there be progress, Lord, so I may one day hear these words ringing joyfully in my ears:

“His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”

*~Matthew 25:21 (NKJ)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Creating New Normals

I must say I am rather pleased to have achieved the following:

Yes, I took on the challenge once again to write 50 000 words in the month of November. But not just any old words, mind you, but novel-type words! Oh, yes! And of the 51 176 words I finished with yesterday evening, I hope to dig out a bona-fide story. (That's the beauty of National Novel Writing Month -- you give yourself permission to ignore your inner editor and just focus on getting various ideas and metaphors and, yes, some craptastic scenes on the page.)

But I had another goal beyond getting out a novella. I had long been thinking I needed to get back in the habit of writing more than a couple of times a month, whether it be working on some devotional pieces or on the novel I started a couple of years ago. So with this year's NaNoWriMo, I determined to work on my novel every day for 30 consecutive days. And on all but one of my novelling days, I managed to churn out at least 1667 words. With the novel being done, I have worked on some writing today and will again tomorrow to properly finish off the 30 day goal.

Time and again I've read writing involves just sitting your butt in the chair and just writing. This month I did that with not just the goal of hitting the 50 000 word mark, but of also creating a new normal where it is what I do every day in the months ahead.

My inner editor, however, may have to wait until tomorrow to come back out. ;-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blind Spots

If I had not such a blind spot
Would I have a less difficult time
Surrendering my ways?

*~“Something Heavenly” by downhere

We often don't want to talk about our blind spots. I mean, who wants to admit to their flaws, foibles and simply put, our annoying behaviour? It's hard, to say the least. And the biggest part of the problem, too, lies in the fact it's a 'blind' spot. As in we're not seeing it. It seems easier to just not worry about it. I mean, no one's perfect, right?

The flip side of the coin (for me, anyway – yours may be different) is we can spend too much time looking for those blind spots, for things that could be wrong and therefore need to be fixed in us or by us or because of us. We can lose sight of God's goodness and grace, of the works He has done and is doing in us. This can open the door for condemnation, guilt, and an overall sour view of ourselves and the world. In short, it can hinder God's work in us.

The following verse has been brought to my mind today as I've been looking for what I'm, well, not seeing in myself:

What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him,
and that was the turning point. He trusted Got to set him right
instead of trying to be right on his own.”

*~ Romans 4:3 (The Message)

God knows where my blind spots are, what needs to be worked out of me and what needs to be worked into me. And He won't overwhelm me with changes. The prophet Isaiah wrote:

Whom will he teach knowledge?
And whom will he make to understand the message?
. . . For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept,
Line upon line, line upon line,
Here a little, there a little.
*~ Isaiah 28: 9a, 10 (NKJ)

And we're also instructed by the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8 to meditate upon good things, praiseworthy things. To get bogged down in all the things we see wrong does not help us remember God's goodness and grace, nor (as I'm sure many have experienced) does it help us to make positive changes in our lives.

God doesn't ask for us to be perfect. He asks us to trust Him and to obey Him, to go where He leads us and to share the awesomeness of His salvation through Jesus' death and resurrection with the world. Yes, we're going to stumble. We'll probably falter a time or two as well. But if we can keep moving forward by the power of God's grace and the world sees that . . . well, we'll all have a few less blind spots.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Know You Are, But What Am I? Oh . . .

"In some sense, we are all hypocrites in transition." ~Erwin McManus

I had started this entry a little while ago, but tucked it away as too many other things were bouncing through my head and life at the time, but some things have settled down and others I have settled into so it seems a good time to pick it up again. Also, how can one resist the following plea from the comments section of my last post?

*poke poke* Update please? *begs prettily*

I would bug this dear woman (and good friend!) about updating her own blog -- Random Thoughts, for which there is a link at the left -- but she has been doing just that again, soooo . . . I'm left with the option of updating my own or just shutting up. (By the way, if it has been eons the Random Thoughts blog went between updates, what category would mine fall into update-wise?)

But yes -- us, hypocrites and transition.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a hypocrite is "a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion" or "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings."


But wait a second here . . . look again at the second part of the definition. A hypocrite is someone acting in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings." (emphasis added)

Isn't that, in a sense or to a degree, what Christians must do on a regular basis?

Take my perception of myself, for example. I have spent a good chunk of my life battling with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. Pretty near anyone who knows me could tell you I don't have the best self-image. It is better than what it has been, though. And do you want to know why? Because I'm finally starting to take act in a way which contradicts what I have believed and felt about myself. Regardless of my feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, the fact of the matter is even before the world was made, God loved *me* and chose *me* in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes (Ephesians 1:4, NLT).

Do I always believe this? No. Do I always feel this? No. I still have days where I have to fight to find something positive to say about what I did or about what happened to me. But part of changing my mindset involves changing how I act. Trying to get different results by doing the same thing over and over again is a good definition of insanity, after all.

So then that makes me a hypocrite of some sort, doesn't it?

But in cases such as this, it's something I can deal with and, more importantly, it's something I can allow God to work out in me. To follow the example of minister and author Joyce Meyer, "I'm not where I need to be, but thank God I am not where I used to be."

And that's okay.

Monday, March 23, 2009


What kind of a title is " >_< " you may be wondering.

I'll tell you: It's one I've managed to not delete.


Are some things really as complicated as what they currently seem to be, or is it just me?

Actually . . . >_< is rather fitting.

(This is why I rarely update this lately. Too much >_<.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

(Hopefully) Whine-Free

So my decision to wait on God for His leading in various things has led to some startling discoveries:

1. I don't take a lot of time each day to really listen to God.

2. I'm not tremendously patient.

3. When I'm really stressed, I like to eat ice cream.

Okay, maybe they're not all that startling or revelatory, but man -- waiting. Who thought it would be so hard? I mean, I can wait in doctors' offices, cars, malls, coffee shops and the like. Granted I often have other things to occupy myself with such as magazines, other people, and driving safely. Why the difficulty waiting for things to come into that right time with God's plans? Why the need to barrel on ahead and do something? Is it so wrong to just sit and listen and look at the things there are to do now and do, well, those things?

I was talking to a friend about it and she put forth an analogy that is helping me in the waiting aspect of things:

Just get your focus back on God and relax, knowing that it's out of your hands, knowing that timing is everything. If that cake is taken out of the oven five minutes too soon, it falls flat and is raw in the middle; five minutes too late, it's tough and dry. But right on time? It's high and moist and flavorful. Perfect.

And I'll just leave it at that.

One tangent, though: Nicholas Sparks. I have one of his books ("A Walk to Remember"), but cannot bring myself to seriously read any more than that one or see any of the movies based on his other bestsellers. They're just too . . . dramatic and overly saccharine in my opinion (I have flipped through more than one, so I'm not wholly uneducated in said opinion). I guess I'm just not an epic romance kind of a woman. I'll take the wit of Jane Austen any day over the "I love you but I can't be with you oh wait I can until something big and epic tears us apart but I will love you forever and forever live alone if something happens to you because that's just how great our love was even though we may not have always even known each other that long" stuff.

Now I'm done. ;-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

I have a hard time waiting for things:

-- for friends to show up for coffee.

-- for my husband to finish getting ready on the Sundays I teach Sunday school.

-- for God to speak to me (and that’s on the days I take the time to actually even try to listen).

It’s sort of weird, actually, especially when I know such a verse as this is in the Bible:

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
--Isaiah 40:31 (NKJ)

In my mind, I often tack on “Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait” as per a song we used to sing in church. Yet still, I have a hard time waiting.

But lately I’m having an even harder time with not knowing where I need to/am supposed to be going. Step into my house and see any number of half-started projects, whether it be rearranging the living room or organizing my office. Speaking of my office, you could also look on the computer and find a fair chunk of half-started writing projects.

In a word -- argh!

Yet all this could have been avoided . . . it can be avoided if only I will take the time to do one simple thing: Wait.

I’m sort of nervous and excited about putting Isaiah 40:31 into practice at the same time. Nervous about what I’ll hear, nervous about what it will entail for me, nervous about whether or not I can be patient enough to wait. At the same time I’m excited to find out what it is God wants me to be doing each day.

So I guess I had better hurry up and wait.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope, Change & Koolaid Gravy

It's official -- Barack Obama is officially the President of the United States. Apparently a fair number of my fellow Canadians believe he will do a smashing job as Commander in Chief. They may even be looking for a potential Obama-like leader among our own political players.


(Not that we don't have good leaders -- we do. They're just not rock stars. And I'm thankful for that.)

I know people on both sides of the political fence in the States -- those who are thrilled Obama is in and Bush is out and those who are not sure what an Obama presidency means and that Bush was a good leader. Many in the media and in Hollywood also hold to the former point of view, with a generous portion of BSD on the side. Or in the middle. It's hard to tell -- it's sort of like the gravy on your plate at Thanksgiving in that it seeps into everything.

Now I'm for allowing people to voice their dissenting opinions. And I'm not denying that former President Bush, like all of the men who held the office before him, has made mistakes. But I do hope and believe, really, he did the best he could under circumstances which would try the mettle of any man. I also hope the bashing of Bush will abate over time (though I'm not certain it will). In a way it amazes me how much hatred and spite and mockery has been heaped upon this man. Again, I'm not saying people are horrible for chuckling over gaffes here 'n there or, again, acknowledging mistakes and missteps. I am saying, however, it is not right or decent to treat an incumbent or outgoing president the way George W. Bush has so often been treated. It's sad, really.

But there is why it does not really surprise me, either:

Matthew 5:10-12 (The Message)

10"You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom.

11-12"Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

God bless you, former President Bush. And God bless you, President Obama. May you both walk in His will for your lives.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some Favourite Things

So last year I bought The Best Life Diet by Bob Greene not only because I want to lose some weight, but also because I realize my husband and I need to change our overall eating habits. This book had some delicious looking recipes so I picked it up and finally began reading it a little while ago. So far, so good! I'm impatient to get to the 'lose body fat' part of it, but I appreciate Bob taking the time to lay a good foundation on how weight loss works and why 'slow and steady' is really the best way to go. And it really is about a lifestyle change.

Speaking of food, Mr. Scribbler and I have also enjoyed watching Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (the bleeped American version) and Gordan Ramsey's other show, The F Word (the 'f' word being 'food', not the other one he is way too fond of). Mr. Scribbler enjoys the former in particular as it reminds him of the time he spent working in the restaurant business as a cook (and it is pretty entertaining). I like both shows as they are piquing my interest in cooking real food as I've become too much of a 'heat and go' cook myself. (If anyone has some good cookbook (or web recipe web sites) suggestions, let me know via the comments section!)

I've also been enjoying some discussions as of late with fellow Christians as to different doctrines, church programs, youth ministry, culture and the like. It is, for present lack of a better word, neat. And stimulating. It's not taking the place of faith -- it's helping firm up why behind my faith. Granted, some things are just not going to be known by us this side of heaven but God never told us to check the brains He gave us at the door, either.

What are some of your favourite things so far in '09?