Monday, December 27, 2010

Defenders

I'm feeling just a wee bit of pressure to write something fantastic and profound (or even fantastically profound) for what will most likely be the last entry here for 2010.  But evening is fast approaching and I have a DVD or two to enjoy as I'm on a bit of a holiday until Wednesday and a husband I would like to try to sell on the idea of allowing me a Birthday Eve which would allow me to open my gifts from him early so . . . yeah.  Fantastic and profound will just have to wait until 2011. 

Though I did have an interesting thought/memory last night as I was drifting off to sleep.  I couldn't even tell you what started this particular train of thought, but I was remembering a day from my elementary school years.  It was recess and I had just been unceremoniously informed by some friends I was no longer a member of a club we had formed.  The reasons given have been fuzzed out by time, but I do recall standing in one corner of the playground by the chain link fence feeling very sad and alone and not acceptable.  Unbeknown to me initially, my older sister -- who at that time was at the school which was literally across the street -- saw me and came over to see what was the matter.  I tearfully filled her in and she came to my defense, telling the girls they were being mean.  Or something like that.  Like I said, the memory is fuzzy and I may have added in bits and pieces.  But what mattered, what I still remember, is this:

1.  I was, for all intents and purposes, deemed unacceptable as a member of a club to which my friends belonged.
2.  My older sister stuck up for me.  She let it be known, in her own way, I was acceptable.

And last night I realized God is like my big sister was in that moment.  He is my defender.  He is the One who sticks up for me when no one else (myself included) will, when all are busily pointing out my many faults and shortcomings, sins and failures.  It's not that God doesn't know I mess things up.  It's not that He glosses over my sins.  But He doesn't look at me through that particular lens. As He did with Gideon (Judges 6: 11-16), God sees me with all of the potential, with all of the abundance and fullness and goodness promised in Jeremiah 29: 11-13 (Message):

I know what I'm doing.  I have it all planned out -- plans to take care of you,
not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
When you call on me, when  you come and pray to me, I'll listen.
When you come looking for me, you'll find me.

God never abandons us.  He doesn't tell us we're no longer a part of His plan.  We can choose to walk away from Him and that plan, but like the prodigal son discovered (Luke 15: 11-32), when we admit the wrong we've done and ask for His forgiveness, it's given.  And that is something I'll gladly carry with me out of 2010 and into 2011.

I hope you are all able to ring out 2010 and ring in 2011 with people you love.  Thank you for reading!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Under Pressure


Sometimes Facebook really irritates me.  Wait, let me clarify – not Facebook its self, but the status updates that crop up here ‘n’ there that are the equivalent of the E-Mail Forward.  Many of you know what I’m talking about in both cases.  But in case you don’t, here is a brief example:

      1.   The E-Mail Forward:  Often requiring the reader to first scroll through two pages of addresses from all the people who received the e-mail before them, the message often contains an inspiring and/or cautionary tale of some sort with directions to forward the e-mail to ‘x’ number of people.  If the reader does not do this, he or she will end up with ‘x’ number of years of bad luck, small puppies will be kicked, and an entire glacier will melt and flood the North Pole ruining Christmas for everyone.

      2.  The Facebook Status Update:  Involving unverified statistics with no margin of error these updates are probably all posted with the best of intentions.  (In 3% of the cases anyway – the other 97% are just a bunch of pot-stirring yokels.)    These updates ask the reader to repost these status updates if they “love Jesus”, “support people fighting cancer”, or “want to end all the ills in the world”.

Now you may be reading this and wondering why I don’t just delete the e-mails and ignore the status updates.  I mean, what’s it to me if this is what people want to do?  And honestly, I do think most of these things are passed along with the best of intentions.

So again – what’s my problem?  And after some thought and such, I think it’s the underlying guilt trips that come along with these things that so irk me.  As a couple of friends pointed out, such things are ultimately a form of peer pressure.  One wonders if by not forwarding/reposting such things are they showing they are indeed bad, uncaring, puppy-kicking and Jesus-denying people.  (Or maybe it’s just me.  Though I doubt it.)  But seriously -- if people can’t tell I’m a Christian by what I do ‘everyday’ then the last thing I need to be changing is my Facebook status.   And if all the ills of society were cured by the copy & paste function on computers the world over, we’d be living in a utopian society right now. 

Look, I do love Jesus and I know I fall far short of the life He’s called me to live.  And I know several people who have had cancer.  None of them care one whit about people honouring them via e-mail forwards or Facebook status updates.  They're too busy living their lives.

I guess what I’m taking issue with is the fact it’s so easy for me to post something via Facebook or Twitter, to send an e-mail to try to guilt someone to ‘pass it along’ – even with the best of intentions – and quite another to get off my butt and actually do something about the injustices around me.  It’s so very easy to type out “I love Jesus” and quite another to actually tell someone face-to-face about the salvation available only through His death and resurrection.  Only minutes need to be spent in the comfort of my home decrying the hardships of the poor, but it’s another matter entirely to put together a donation for the food bank or to volunteer at a soup kitchen.

I want to stop living a copy & paste life.  How about you?  And if you’re not living that sort of a life, kudos!  What do you do to actually get out there and do something?  Feel free to share below.  I won’t copy & paste it, I promise.  ;-)

Monday, December 13, 2010

This Writer's Life


“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult
than most other people.”  -- Thomas Mann

I have been writing in some form or another pretty much since my school days.  Much of my writing during those days was required – stories, book reports, research papers, exams and the like.  What little I did because I wanted to do it was kept to diaries/journals, letters/notes, and the odd silly story during junior high with friends when science class felt a little. . . . dry.  (Hey, at least we weren’t melting Bic pens with the Bunsen burners, Mr. Beazer!)

It wasn’t until I had the notion to write a fan fiction story based on Catherine Marshall’s book Christy that I wrote a story simply because I wanted to write one.  That in turn let to some devotional stories being penned for family members, more fan fiction stories, and eventually two writing courses, a blog, and many National Novel Writing Month entries.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve quit writing since that initial story all those years ago.  Mind you, I’ve debated quitting many times as I’ve questioned if I actually had the ability or was just deluding myself as to my ‘talents’.  Then there are the questions of whether I really have the time to properly devote to such endeavours, and (as a Christian) if this is what God really wants me to be doing, and is there any point to fictional stories (which I truly enjoy working on when not typing up blog entries)?  Then there are the many uncompleted stories I have occupying computer bytes, file folders, and a binder or two. 

Yet here I continue to sit, fingers clicking away on the keyboard and ideas bouncing around in my head.  I think writing is more difficult at times for writers as per Mr. Mann’s quote, but at the same time also find the greater difficulty for myself (and many other writers I would imagine) lies in not writing.  Actually, I think that’s true for anyone’s gifting, or their calling, even, if you will.  We’re all wired a certain way and created on purpose with a purpose to fulfill here on earth.  To not do that, to try to ‘fit’ our selves into something else is like wearing a too-small shoe:  It pinches and makes it difficult to keep moving forward.

I can’t be the only one who thinks on these things – what about you?  What do you think you’re meant to be doing?  And are you doing it?  Maybe we can all encourage each other put on the right pair of shoes for the journey.



Monday, December 6, 2010

Everything


Another year is drawing to a close and again I find myself in a reflective mood.  What had I hoped to accomplish in 2010?  Did I accomplish it, any of it?  If yes, what and why?  If not, what and why and what needs to be changed so I don’t keep going in circles?  It is a time to be honest, sometimes painfully so, and sometimes it requires the help of other people as we don’t always see things in us or around us that need to be worked on. 

And again, I find myself chewing on Romans 8:27-28 (Message):

[God’s Spirit] knows us far better than we know ourselves,
knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God.
That’s why we can be so sure that every detail
in our lives of love for God is worked
into something good.

So the things I ‘got right’ this year . . . the things I messed up or completely missed the boat on . . . God can work it into something good.  I can’t do a thing about it, but God . . .  He created the universe out of nothing; by the power of His words He put stars, planets, and so many things into the initially empty, shapeless void, so surely He can create something good out of all the bits ‘n’ pieces of this life. 

Then the next question is where do I go from this point on? 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Vain Repetitions

It has been almost 13 hours since I crossed the finish line for 2010’s National Novel Writing Month with a tidy word cushion thanks to more days than not of meeting or exceeding a daily 1700 word count goal.  And I almost hate to say this as many people have cheered me on, but it all feels, even after a good night’s rest, rather anti-climactic.

Seriously -- what's the big deal?  And I don't think I'm subconsciously looking for pats on the back or a 'well done' or 'but you wrote 50,000 words in a month whereas I'm lucky to write a haiku in an hour' or other such things.  At least I don't think I am, but I've been wrong before in regards to what motivates me, so I may very well be wrong again.

Honestly, though -- there is something not sitting right in regards to this whole endeavor and it's frustrating that I cannot put my finger on it.  This isn't exactly the post-NaNoWriMo post I was expecting to make, but it's where I find myself at this point in time.

"Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher;
"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."
- Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NKJ)

And maybe therein lies the rub, to loosely quote Shakespeare.  Were the the past 28 days merely an exercise in vanity for me, a big old "look at what I can do" moment?
Only by bringing this to God, I believe, can my questions truly be sorted out.  But I do hope I'll be more careful/mindful of my motives for taking on projects in the future because this 'meh' feeling after neglecting, really, so many things makes me wonder if what I gained in the end was worth it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dropped It

I have a memory of walking through a parking lot with my mom and younger sister when we were all a fair spot younger than we are now.  All of us had just got an ice cream cone, but as it happens with many kids with many ice cream cones the world over, my younger sister's treat fell on the ground and quickly began to melt on the hot asphalt.  Understandably, she was not amused.  It is never a happy thing to lose a treat, to drop something you were looking forward to having and enjoying.

This memory bubbled up after I came across the following quote today: 

No expectations leads to no disappointment.  

Really?  That is a good outlook to have on life?  Expect nothing?  And then have no disappointments?  But then I take the time to look back on this day in particular, and the disappointments that have coloured and shaded aspects of it (all due to poor decisions on my part), and I do wonder if I had not gone into the day with any expectations of what I would accomplish, if I would not have been disappointed by what I failed to accomplish. 

No expectations . . . no disappointments.

Yet . . . does it not also hold that no expectations indicate there are no goals . . . no hopes . . . no dreams?  Imagine going through life with nothing to look forward to, to anticipate like an ice cream cone on a hot summer's afternoon.  

Pretty bleak, isn't it?

I will agree, though, it is the pits to have something you were looking forward to fall out of your hand to the ground, ruined and never to be savoured or enjoyed.  I will not say life is without its disappointments.  But there is One who has the remedy, who can take our disappointments and bring something good out of them (Romans 8:28).  And He made a pretty spectacular promise way before He sent His Son to die for our sins and open the door once again to an eternal relationship with Him should we choose to accept His invitation and cross that threshold: 

"Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."
~ Isaiah 43:18, 19 (NKJ)

God isn't promising a life without disappointments, missed opportunities or setbacks.  He knows we're not going to 'get it right' every time.  That's why He says He will set it right.  Lost in the wilderness of the mess you've made?  He'll make a road to help you get out of it.  Wandering lost in the dry heat of the desert, ready to collapse?  He'll make rivers -- not just a river, but rivers.

My sister shed tears over the loss of her ice cream cone.  But they didn't stick around for long as our mom, without any hesitation, gave sis her ice cream cone.   And the melting ice cream was given nary a second glance.

That's how things can be for us, too, if we'll take what God gives us to replace that which now lies behind us.  A road in a wilderness, rivers in a desert, and an ice cream cone on a hot summer's day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ain't No Mountain High Enough*

Actually, scratch that.  There are probably mountains high enough to physically keep me from doing something.  Like Mount Everest.  Or the one to the left -- it looks really huge.  But I digress.  Slightly.

I'm almost at the halfway point for National Novel Writing Month in regards to the date, and am officially there in regards to my word count with the bit I've managed to type out today.  And I've thought of quitting and chucking my story with all its twists and turns a number of times over the last fourteen days.  But as I've had to remind myself repeatedly (and this year in particular as my Inner Editor is proving to be a tenacious little thing) that is part of the challenge.  The goal is not necessarily to write well, but to just get the words (and hopefully a somewhat cohesive story) out.  The polishing and fixing and revising comes later, once the structure is there.  It's like building a house -- you don't start with the paint and the furniture and all the things that make a house a home.  You start with the mess of digging a hole for the foundation, pouring concrete, putting up beams, mudding and taping drywall.  And even renovations (and revisions when working with a story) can be messy.  Yet not many people would complain about the end results when the mess is cleaned up and order is restored.  Unless they had horrible contractors.  But again, I digress.  This time, greatly. 

But it is easy to do things like talk about writing books or renovating homes,  and even about climbing mountains.  Yet as many people know who have tried climbing mountains both real and figurative, it's another thing to actually get out there and do it.  But is it worth it?

That I cannot answer for you.  I can't tell you if the cost will be worth what you hope to gain (and actually gain) in the end.  And I don't want you to climb any old mountain.  You see, you shouldn't be climbing a mountain just for the sake of the climb.  Consider these words Jesus spoke to His disciples:
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it -- lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him . . ."  --Luke 14: 28-29 (NKJ)
Again, you have to take into account the cost of what you're about to do.  And if you don't, you may very well be mocked.  And who likes that? 

Now I'd like to wrap this all up with some awesome question or insight, but I do have about 900 more words to write and I think my Inner Editor is finally sleeping . . .

*The weekly blog entry is, yes, a day early as tomorrow I work all day instead of my customary half day.  In case anyone was wondering.  ;-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ummm . . .

"Be obscure clearly."
~ E.B. White

It's Day Eight of National Novel Writing Month and I have yet to form any sort of a plot for my story.  I also have yet to have sort of a concrete idea for this here lovely blog (at least I think it's lovely), but didn't want anyone to think I had fallen off the face of the earth.  I'm just stuck between tapping away in my Scrivner project file for this year's NaNo entry and surfing the net, wondering when I'll hit upon some brilliant idea that will leave my typing until my fingers are numb.  Or something like that.

Are any of you tackling the NaNoWriMo challenge?  Or know someone who is?  What are your thoughts on this madcap literary adventure?

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Game, Mrs. Hudson, Is On!

Ah, yes!  It is that time of year where once again people close to me question my sanity and, perhaps, wonder when they will 'for realsies' get to look at what it is, exactly, I have come up with by midnight on Nov. 30th. 

I am talking about this:


That's right -- I'm in the beginning stages of my 50,000 word novel.  For more information head over to http://www.nanowrimo.org .

Now to get another 307 words on the screen before heading to work . . .

Monday, October 25, 2010

Quality or Speed?



Badness you can get easily, in quantity;
the road is smooth, and it lies close by,
But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat,
and long and steep is the way to it.
-       Hesiod (Greek poet)


Just this morning I was printing some photos from a trip my husband and I took (hence the lack of blog updates).  The pictures printed in quick succession, but when I pulled them off the printer there were 3-4 horizontal lines running through each one.  Briefly I debated keeping them as the dozen pictures are for me to pass around at work.  But the debate quickly ended (as the pictures went in the trash) once I took another look at how nice everything looked on my computer screen.  Another batch was printed after I tweaked the printer settings (I literally was able to pick ‘quality’ over ‘speed’), and now I’m waiting for the ink to dry.  Ate up a bit more of my morning, and it did cost me some extra photo paper, but the end results are worth it.

Many things in life are like this.  We try to take shortcuts with jobs or chores or even relationships.  Or we think the more we do, the better, even if what we are producing – the fruit we are bearing – is not really all that good.  In Western culture especially, I think, we have forgotten how to take our time with things.  Everything is so ‘go-go-go’ and ‘Now!’ and fast

Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying we should dawdle through everything.  There are situations and such for which we need to pick up the pace and get things done.  Beating around the bush, after all, gets frustrating and can get one stuck in a rut.  And dilly-dallying isn’t exactly a quality use of our time.  It’s badness, as it were, at a slower pace.

As with all things in life, there is a balance to be found and seasons to go through.  So find yours – live a quality life – one with purpose and meaning and, yes, even sweat and tears.  The benefits, I am beginning to realize, are worth it. 

And if you’re looking for some guidance, check out Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years to learn how to tell a good story with your life.

 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Please Hold

Our internet connection was down for a few days.   Not an earth-shattering event by any stretch, really, but it was an inconvenience mainly in regards to keeping up with my usual Monday updates.  Add to that the troubles I’ve been having with my computer at work and preparations for an upcoming trip*, and, well, there has been some frustrations this week.

Ah, waiting.  It’s not always a fun thing to do, is it?  Especially when it involves things we’d like to be doing.  Shoot, it even holds for things we don’t want to be doing.  We’d like the waiting to be done and over with so we can either get the unpleasant task done and over with, or to the fun ‘n’ games. 

Yet there are times where we must wait.  I remember waiting for the right time to be done my housecleaning job.  It paid well, I more or less set my own hours, and overall I worked for really good people.  But after ten years, I was ready for a change.  I tried to hurry things along by dropping a couple of my out-of-the-way clients, but both part-time jobs I held fizzled out in turn.  Then I was hired as a teacher’s assistant at a school in the neighbouring town.  Again, it was a good experience overall but a job for the next school year was uncertain as the child I had been working with had progressed to the point of no longer needing an aide. And just when I was wondering “What next?” I was offered a job with the company I am still employed with.  Oh, initially it was a scary time.  I was very much out of my comfort zone.  Everything was new, and I knew my boss beforehand and didn’t want him to regret hiring me, and so on and so forth.  But you know what?  It ended up being the best job I have had to date.  I was given opportunities to grow and learn new things.  And I did learn and grow.   It didn’t stay scary and unfamiliar.

Now I find myself waiting again for direction and ‘the right time’ as I ponder making changes in this, that and the other.  But this time I don’t want to get ahead of God.  I want to move when He says move, stay when He tells me to stay.  It’s not always easy.  I’m not always patient.  But I’m finally realizing the consequences of impatiently taking off on my own are not worth it, either. 

Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So . . . get on your way.
- Dr. Seuss

*I will not be updating for the next two weeks due to said trip.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Step by Step by Step by . . .

Today has been more of a struggle than the last few weeks have been in regards to doing my weekly blog posting.  I’ve had to fight off the urge to dawdle with just about anything else and get my butt not only into the chair in front of my computer, but to quit reading what other people have taken the time to sit down and write (even as it made me tear up and laugh and think). 

Then I was reminded of something I read on Twitter from the associate pastor at my church: 

Most growth happens as a result of many small steps.
The key is to keep taking them.
- Darryl Harms

Now this may not be big news to many of you.  However, I’m the type of person who has tended to (I’m starting to change!) look at the sum of everything that needs to be done for a project, become totally overwhelmed by the perceived vastness of it all and end up doing nothing.  It could be changing a habit, giving my house a thorough cleaning, preparing for a trip, or working on a writing project.  But I’ll see the point where I want to be or need to be, be overwhelmed by the distance between Point A and Point B and then sit down on the road and there I sit.  The irony is I’m not content in my current position, my spot of inactivity either.  I want to move forward, but I feel like I have no clue as to how to get going. 

No journey is made in one fell swoop, with one giant leap.  I didn’t move from being a baby to a 38-year-old woman in a blink of an eye.  I didn’t learn how to drive after getting behind the wheel only one time.  There are many things in this life where perhaps the best thing to do, really, is to yes, keep the destination in mind while focusing only on the next step.  Don’t look back at all the times you tried before and failed, don’t look at how far away Point B is from your current location. Don’t get caught up in all the things needing to be done today or tomorrow or this week.

Pause.  Take a breath.  Look at what you can do next.   And take another step.


The LORD directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
For the LORD holds them by the hand.
- Psalm 37: 23, 24 (NLT)


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

5 Random Things About Me

Inspired by the lovely ladies at words 'n' whimsy and Musings of a writer-in-progess *and* because I am a) waiting for floors to dry and b) now without 'lunch out' plans, here are 5 random things about me:

1. I think I would actually love it if all the clothes my husband and I owned did not need to be ironed, ever.  In fact, my husband would probably love it too as he'd have more shirts to choose from at any given time.

2.  There is a part of me that would like to get up on the stage and make people laugh with the ease with which some others can, but another (and stronger, judging by how often I avoid it) part of me that is petrified of it at the same time.  I feel like a walking oxymoron . . .

3.  I still carry around too much regret over stuff I cannot change.

4.  Sometimes when I look around my house I wonder if x number of years down the road, I"ll end up on "Hoaders: Buried Alive" with little pop-up notes about how the production crew lost a member while setting up for filming.

5.  When I see people doing what they're supposed to be doing, what they were (if you will) made to do, it really does my heart good.  And it makes me smile.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Well *Now* I Do



As soon as I saw the above cartoon on my 2010 Non Sequitur desk calendar, the passage in Romans where Paul talks about doing all the things that are wrong even though he doesn’t really want to do them came to mind, particularly the part in chapter 7, verse 15 (NLT):

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right,
but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
And I, along with many others (Christian or not), can relate to Paul’s frustrations or, at the very least, the sentiment in the cartoon. As kids we weren’t supposed to pass notes in class. But we did it anyways. (Hmmm – how does that work now with texting?) Whatever our age, we’re not supposed to jaywalk, but I have to confess I’ve done it . . . and then been enough of a hypocrite to be annoyed with those who do it when I’m driving. Christians are not supposed to judge others, are supposed to treat others the way they want to be treated, are to love God with everything they’ve got. Yet at one time or another I’ve failed at all of those things. Sometimes all at once; and I am not a one-time offender. Honestly, it would be very easy to go along with the following bit of logic:

Well then, should we keep on sinning
so that God can show us more and more
of His wonderful grace?
-Romans 6:1 (NLT)
But God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). And there is the verse after the one quoted above to consider:

I should hope not! If we’ve left the country
where sin is sovereign, how can we
still live in our old house there?
- Romans 6:2 (The Message)
Isaiah 42:20 talks about things the Israelites had not been doing. They saw and recognized what was right, but refused to act on it. They heard God’s commandments and instructions, but they weren’t really paying attention to them or to His prophets. And we can be the same way when it comes to laws and rules and regulations – both with God’s and in regards to ‘the law of the land’. So what do we do?

We can do what Paul said – live a new life in a new land, entering into Christ’s being-here-for us, freed from a life lived in bondage to sin and death (Romans 6:3, 8:1-2 The Message). To put it another way (and as I have highlighted Isaiah 42:17 in my Bible):

See and recognize what is right.
Act on it.
Hear with your ears.
Really listen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pack Up Your Troubles

Worry is a misuse of imagination.
- Tommy Tenney

As it has often been said in one way or another by several people – Do what you're good at. Well I'm good at worrying, so does it not follow that is what I should do? At least that's is what I've told my husband on more than one occasion when he has told me not to worry about something. (Matthew 6:27 is true, otherwise I would be as tall as my 6' 3” husband . . .) Yet, Christian or not, there is an inherent flaw to that logic for anyone who thinks they should worry because he or she is good at it. And that would be this:

It accomplishes nothing good or productive.

Think about it. Does it make the situation you're worried about less scary? Do you feel better prepared for a test when you go into it with worry nipping at your heels? Does it give you confidence? Peace? Hope?

Oh, be honest now – you know it doesn't do any of those things. In fact, worry only serves to amplify the scariness of the unknown; it muddles your memory and can leave you uncertain, unsure, agitated, and bordering on hopeless if it's not properly checked and reigned in. But looking at what you're worried about and why can lead to some positive actions if dealt with properly. Worried about an upcoming test? You can choose to study more for it. A new situation have you on edge, uncertain? Research it as best you can, prepare for what you can prepare for and leave what you can't do anything about with God.

Yes, God – Christians are instructed in Proverbs 3: 5-6 to trust in the Lord with all their heart, mind, and soul and to not lean on their own understanding. And the best thing Christians can do is take their worries to God in prayer. He knows all the things people have need of, all the longings in every heart. And He know the way in which those needs and wants can best be met for the benefit of the individual and all those around him or her. Eugene H. Peterson expresses it succinctly in The Message, his popular paraphrase of the Bible:
Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
- 1 Peter 5:7
So we have a choice. Do we pack up our worries and leave them with God? Or carry them with us, day in and day out, weighing us down with every step?

And if you need some help, some hope, here is an excerpt from a letter sent to the Jewish leaders in the midst of their Babylonian captivity:
For I know the thoughts that I think
toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of
peace and not of evil, to give you
a future and a hope.
- Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJ)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Comfort vs. Growth

“You cannot grow, AND hang onto your comfort
at the same time.” -- Deborah Stewart

So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.
-- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (Message)

I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of hard/difficult/can't-really-plan-for-them times. I like a certain predictability (most of the time) to my days and for things to go along at a nice, steady pace. No big surprises or bumps in the road that leave me without an idea as to what is going to happen next, please and thank you. Yet how often does God actually operate that way? One needs only to read the stories of many people in the Bible – Abraham, Joseph, Job, Hosea and Paul to name but a few – and look at the lives of Christians around them and even at one's own life to see the uncertainties we are often faced with in this life.

And so much of Western culture is opposite of what we find in God's Word. Life is to be easy, comfortable, profitable and free of unpleasant shocks and surprises. At least that's what I hear.

But God isn't interested in our comfort and ease of life as much as He is in getting the word out about His love, mercy, salvation, and impending judgement for those who choose to reject Him. And for those who have chosen to follow Him, He wants to achieve in us the following:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
-- Micah 6:8 (NKJ)

Sometimes experiencing an injustice helps us to do justly. Or having someone be unmerciful towards us seeds in our hearts a strong appreciation of mercy both received and given. Perhaps having our castles and dreams . . . our idols, really, topple to the ground will open our cloudy eyes to the greatness of the God who gives us all the breath we need to live each day.

God does want to bless us. He wants to give us good things. He has good things in store for us. Read Jeremiah 29: 11 – 14a. And John 3:16, along with 1 Thessalonians 5: 23 – 24. Those aren't bad things, are they? So we – and I heartily include myself – need to keep 2 Corinthians 4: 16 – 18 in mind, particularly verse 17: These short-term troubles lead to long-term rewards.

Abraham experienced the reward – at least the beginnings of it via Isaac. As did Joseph and Job and Hosea and Paul. Maybe they didn't see it all this side of heaven and had to wait until they got to the 'other side'. But seen it they have for the One who made the promises to them and makes them to us today is faithful (2 Thessalonians 5: 24). Remember that when you're being pulled and stretched and are growing. And remember, too, you are not alone.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,
who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand
of the throne of God.
-- Hebrews 12: 1-2 (NKJ)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Take This In

There is a lot bombarding us every day as Christians. I can't be the only one who sees it. We're called to go out into the world to share the gospel, to be salt and light, to not stay holed up in our own little groups, guarding the gift of salvation as if it were the last food ration to be had amongst starving people. (Ooooh, I need to give myself a kick in the butt and get out there more myself!)

But before I go off on a rabbit trail, I don't know about you but I can't shut off all the accompanying noise in the world I'm in daily but not of (John 17: 14-16). There is a lot out there – music, books, movies, television shows and the like. There is a lot that can easily be avoided. And sometimes we know all the ways to avoid things, yet still make stupid choices. Other times there is stuff that is mostly good, with bits of garbage to wade through as well. It can be crazy and distracting, to say the least. Even frustrating.

So what can we do? Is there a magic pill or an easy 5-step program to follow to help us be in this crazy world, be salt and light, and not fall prey to its, well, mess?

Oh, there is!

First off, this personally encouraged me a great deal when I read it this morning:

Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all
the day;
For surely there is a hereafter,
And your hope will not be cut off.
~ Proverbs 23:17-18 (NKJ)

I was also thinking about the different times I've heard how we're to encourage one another as Christians to keep the faith, keep doing the right things, to keep on running this marathon race we're in called life. This in turn got me to thinking about the word 'encourage'.

Encourage is a verb made up of the prefix 'en' and the noun 'courage'. We're all familiar with what courage is -- according to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (very cool, by the way) it is the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty”.

Now what about the prefix 'en'? I wasn't really clear on what it added to the word courage, so I decided to some digging. Again, according to Merriam-Webster, when it is added to a noun and subsequently forms a verb (as is the case with 'encourage'), it means one of two things:
1.to cause to be
2.to put into or onto, cover with, go into or onto

Think about it. When you encourage someone, you are causing them to be courageous. You're putting courage into or onto them, and even covering them with courage! Wow!

It really makes me read the following passage from Hebrews in a new light:
My friends, watch out! Don't let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called "today." If you don't, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let's hold tightly to our faith until the end.
~Hebrews 3:12-14 (CEV, emphasis added)

So while we're in this world, yet not of it, lets look for those we can put some courage into today and also take in what we ourselves need.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ripples

It is sort of amazing, in a way, how simply overhauling one's eating habits can affect one's entire routine.

Take my husband and I for example. Our mornings usually consisted of us sleeping as long as possible before he would head out the door for work, breakfast in hand, and I would go about my morning as I ate breakfast on the go before starting my job in the afternoon.

But now that we're on a new diet with an emphasis on smaller, more frequent meals with lots of fresh veggies and fruit, we now have breakfast together. And I'm up earlier to make what he can eat during the workday. Then today I had to pop out and get *more* groceries so this evening we can easey-peasey head out to the family camp our church is having over the next 4 days. So this meant not much time for writing, not much yet being added to my pedometer count (it's a work-related fitness challenge), and a really quick writing session because if I don't do it now, well . . .

It's sort of crazy, isn't it?

And in a way, when God asks us to change things it can have the same, far-reaching ripple effect. Take Matthew 22:35-40 (NLT):

One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”


On the surface, they look simple enough and maybe even easy. But take a moment and think of the far-reaching effects to be had in your life, in the lives of those around you, and in your community if you really, truly lived these commandments out. It would be something great, to be sure.

So lets do it. Lets get a good ripple effect going.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Something . . . Perfect

“Age wrinkles the body.
Quitting wrinkles the soul.”
~ Douglas MacArthur


I was thinking about this, that 'n' the other (I won't bore you with the details), while wondering what to write for an overdue entry here. (About that, read the beginning of the sentence.) And I was reminded of something I had jotted down awhile ago in the Notes section of my iPhone.

Here's the story:

Back in June I was reorganizing some stuff in my office and realized I needed something to help me better organize my pens, office odds 'n' ends, and a growing collection of sticky notes. I went to Office Depot, Staples, Chapters and Wal-Mart, hoping to find the perfect thing or at the very least, something decent for a really good price. Nothing I saw was what I had in mind.

Wait . . .

I didn't even really have anything in mind. When asked by my husband what I was looking for I replied “I'll know when I see it.”

Not exactly helpful, I know, but that was the thing – I didn't know what I was looking for exactly. What I did know was what I hadn't seen it yet. I also discovered I wasn't willing to settle for something just because it was 'cheap' or because 'it would do'. So in somewhat of a last-ditch effort when I was in London Drugs looking for a few other things, I checked out their small stationary section, where I came across this (mine has one less drawer):



It didn't even take ten seconds for me to know this was it. It holds my pens and sticky notes and paper clips and odds 'n' ends. In other words, it was exactly what I was looking for -- just in a place I was not expecting it to be.

And aren't answers to prayer often the same way? (Unless I'm the only one who has preconceived ideas of how my prayers should sometimes be answered. Nah, that can't be it!) I mean, even in the Bible we see people expecting things to happen one way and go in another direction entirely (or so it seems to the people praying).

Take Jesus' arrival on the Earth. A King was born. One who would rescue ransomed Israel. Bring hope and freedom to the world. That was what the prophets were saying, right? And wasn't that what the people were praying for? Hoping for?

Yet there are those who missed Him. He was not born in a luxurious palace. There was no room in any inn in Bethlehem, so He was born in a stable. He did not come with a host of heaven's armies to do battle against Israel's oppressors. He came with commandments to “love God with all you are, with all you got” and “treat other people the way you want to be treated”. He spoke of troubles and peace, loss and life, of being free and following Him.

Not exactly the big, powerful, 'gonna kick some bad guy butt' that people may have been hoping for at that point in time.

But many people have answered His call and chosen to follow Him in all the years since then. They haven't always known what they were looking for . . . yet they knew when they saw Him that He was it, knew that knowing Him was what they needed most in their lives. And as they got to know Him, read their Bibles and received solid teaching and prayed, well, they have found His answers. If they paid attention. Because God's answers don't always come in the places or ways or manners in which we expect them to . . . or want them too.

And sometimes we don't know the answer until we see it. But when we do, well . . . we know it's perfect.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Well . . .

. . . the plan has been to do a new post every Monday. Last week that didn't work out very well as I was on vacation (in lovely Fernie, British Columbia!), though I did update later in the week. However, it all seems to have left me a little dry/uninspired for today. I'm really trying to not repeat myself either, so on that note look for something 'new-new' next Monday!

Thank you for your patience!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Overboard

Just yesterday I finished reading Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller and consequently have things such as lifeboats and relationships and the bigness and greatness of God all floating around my brain. It feels a bit messy, actually. It reminds me of how I felt out at the lake a couple of days ago. The ground was a sludgy, unstable mess and even though my husband insisted I could, I didn't feel as though I had the strength to keep myself afloat.

Blargh.

But as I've read in the Bible (my apologies for the exact reference escapes me and I'm not on my regular computer where it's easier to look it up), if I hold too tightly onto my life I'll lose it. Yet if I lose my life then I'll truly find it. Sounds like a paradox or an oxymoron to be sure . . . however there is something freeing in the thought I can't nor am I supposed to, really, be in control of everything in my life. Not that I'm not an active particpant in things. I'm not, however, to try to micromanage everything either. There is a balance. I just need to take up the easy yoke and light burden Jesus promised He has for me in order to find it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Somtimes . . . Well, Always, a Step at a Time

About 17 years ago I was in the apartment my older sister lived in at the time, for reasons I can't remember and with me was the man who is now my husband. We were waiting for said sister to finish something up, I think, before going for coffee or something and listening to a mixed tape someone had made for her. It was a mix of artists new to me – among them Keith Green, Petra, and perhaps even Michael W. Smith – and one song in particular stood out for me. Called “Sometimes by Step”, it was by Rich Mullins (who I still count among my favourites) and it was this bit in particular which has stuck with me throughout the years:

And on this road to righteousness
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my steps
But never beyond Your reach


Too often I focus on how steep the path before me is and how far I have yet to go to reach a goal or destination. The bigness of the picture overwhelms me and I plop down on my butt (sometimes metaphorically and literally), convinced I cannot possibly do that, not after waiting so much time on this and there I stay and fiddle with the things that don't seem so big or scary.

I was facing a steep path (which was possibly just a blown-out-of-proportion hill) this morning, and was struggling with how, exactly, to move forward from the point I currently found myself at. (As much as I may try to in my head, I can't change the past or the future and thereby alter my present. Darn it . . . I think . . .)

Anyhow . . . Where to go? What to do? And I'd like to say I do have it all sorted out along with a lovely little map or list of directions sitting beside me to help me stay on track. But I don't.

Okay, I know God does know all my days, that He has a good future mapped out for me, but sometimes . . . well, this is one of those times where I need to keep the following firmly in mind:

So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its
own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.
- Matthew 6:34 (NLT)


On the surface, it is not the most encouraging of verses. I don't like to hear about having worries or troubles. But before verse 34, Jesus was telling His disciples to not worry about food or clothing or shelter, but to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and He would give them everything they needed. Including the means and the ability to take the steps on the journey for that day.

Great works of art are not painted with a single brush stroke. Great stories are not told in one sentence or within the very first draft. There are revisions, mistakes, multiple strokes and a myriad of words. And there are thousands upon thousands of steps made in a journey. And even when it gets hard or tricky or steep, God is there, holding our hand firmly in His own. We (and I include myself in this camp) just need to remember to not let go of His.

Though [the godly] stumble, they will never fall,
for the LORD holds them by the hand.
- Psalms 37:24 (NLT)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kinship

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used
to think. It's splendid to find out there are
so many of them in the world.”
~ L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)



My 20-year high school reunion was this past weekend. I didn't go. Not that I have anything against high school reunions, mind you. Well, not hugely at any rate. I did go to my 10-year high school reunion and it was an overall fun and nice experience as I caught up with various people who I had not seen much of since June 1990. And as is customary at such events, contact information was exchanged along with decisions to do a better job of keeping in touch. Only thing is, another ten years can pass and one finds out there has been no greater degree of contact established, never mind maintained, with the people one grew up with.

So it seems only fitting for thoughts of kinship and community and commonality to have been swirling around in my mind for the last number of weeks. Who are my friends? Why are we friends? What things to we share in common? What are our differences and why does the relationship sometimes seem to work in spite of them?

You see, in school I was very much the shy, quiet, studious type. And even as I tried in my own ways to break out of that mould, to be my own person, it was the label that stuck with me. To be honest, it irritated me. (It was just a bit, mind you, as I had no moment of standing up during a school assembly to proclaim such things to my peers (too embarrassing!).) But I believe that desire to not be seen as I was led, in part, to my decision to not attend the recent school reunion. That and the fact my old friends and I didn't keep in touch all that much after our 10th reunion. I'm not bitter about it . . . it's how things worked out. And then there are times when, like my mother, I can be terribly unsentimental about things such as reunions.

But rather than dwell on things I cannot change, I am thankful to have found some places where I do fit, to know people who have been allowed to see me with all my quirks and who still want to hang out with me. There is my wonderful husband, who has helped me be less shy and quiet; my sisters, who I count among my closest friends, who knew me as I was and know me as I am; my church family, many who have done so much to help me get to where I am now. There are some lovely, big-hearted people I have yet to all meet in person, but who I count among my friends; and there are even people I don't really know at all but who share similar outlooks and bents with me in regards to faith, love, and laughter, and in looking at the world in general.

And as I continue to grow and change (it really is a life-long process, isn't it?), my hope is I will continue to find kindred spirits. They really aren't as scarce as one would sometimes think. You just have to get out there and look.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

For a Moment

It can be hard to pursue your passion in obscurity, with little to no support. Take Vincent Van Gogh. His talent was little appreciated during his lifetime by those around him (save for a few, such as his brother Theo). Couple that with serious bouts of anxiety, depression, and mental illness and you may have met a man in 1888's Arles, France who would have happily sold a painting if only in exchange for a drink.

What would it have been like for Van Gogh to have seen the impact his work ultimately had on the art world, to see the place he would have in history, especially in regards to the work he did in the last few years of his life?

This was a 'what if' scenario brilliantly played out on last week's episode of the British sci-fi program Doctor Who titled "Vincent and the Doctor". The Doctor, a time-and-space travelling alien from the planet of Gallifrey, travels in his ship -- the TARDIS -- righting what wrongs he can and often saving Earth from numerous alien invasions and evil plots (usually from London, England). In last week's episode, he and his travelling companion Amy Pond (not an alien) go to 1888 Arles, France, to help Vincent Van Gogh battle an alien creature that only the tortured painter can see. And at the end, the Doctor decides to take Van Gogh -- an artist both he and Amy have been thrilled to meet -- on a little trip.

It's a moment that Van Gogh felt would change everything, even as he noted (with some embarrassment) upon the trio's return to 1888 Arles that his painting of some haystacks had made it into the museum. But as Amy and the Doctor discovered, his life still ended at the age of 37. Amy felt they had made no impact on the man's life. But as the Doctor noted, they did make some changes as discovered via a lovely little shout-out to Ms. Pond (who Vincent was rather fond of in a very sweet way) via Van Gogh's very well-known painting of a vase of sunflowers.

So don't underestimate the power of a word of encouragement, a comforting hug, or even a smile. You may not ultimately help alter the course of a person's life. But sometimes all they -- all we, really -- need is to know what we're doing matters. That we matter.

If only for a moment.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not Too Late

“It gets late too early out there.” -- Yogi Berra


It's super-duper casual day at my 'sort of new' job today. Forget casually dressy pants, a nice shirt, and a pair of snazzy shoes. This morning I'm wearing my gray cotton capris, a yellow T-shirt with a coffee cup on the front with 'Start me up' underneath it and my AE flip-flops. Clinton and Stacy from TLC's What Not to Wear would be horrified, to say the least. Though they could be secretly jealous of the comfort in which I am working. Maybe . . .

But in my defense:

1. I am working at home.
2. I was running a little bit late (even home offices need business hours).
3. Did I mention I'm working at home?


My morning job is only 'sort of new' as it involves something I've been doing for quite some time now: Writing. And as I have been reminded of again, a writer can't wait for inspiration to hit before sitting down to put words on the page. And as July fast approaches and I look at the goals I set out at the beginning of year, I'm realizing I've got some work to do. Plus my old routines are producing squat, so it's time to get on a new track.

On that note, something I'm *finally* starting to realize (in a 'put-it-into-practice' way) is beating myself into a pulp over my past mistakes is not going to produce the sort of changes I want to see. Not in my writing or in my life overall. But again, as with many things, one needs to maintain a proper balance. I'm not to be all 'loosey-goosey' with my sins and mistakes, traipsing off into the sunset with nary a morsel of remorse as I look forward to another day. David wrote in Psalm 51:17 “. . . a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” In other words, I need to be repentant, to feel remorse and the need for forgiveness when I do wrong.

And there is another potential stumbling block I need to be careful of as well: The desire to fix my mistakes myself (and the time I waste when I actually try to do such a thing).

As Jon Acuff wrote on his blog – Stuff Christians Like – under the entry titled Two “F” Words:

I think satan wants us to thing our past is fixable. God wants us to know our past is forgivable.

There's a world of difference between those two words fixable and forgivable. One is about human effort and sweat and heartache and staying in the mud. One is about grace and mercy and white snow and sacrifice we can't imagine.


So fixed or forgiven? Mud or white snow?

Which one will you choose?

I know which way I want (and need) to go. And because God is full of grace and mercy, it's not too late to start even with the calendar being halfway through 2010. Not for you and not for me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Redecorating

Yes, I've redecorated (as it were). Any thoughts on the new decor? And I removed the stat counter at the bottom -- it didn't seem to be working anymore. :-p

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trading Shoes

"Experience breeds empathy. It's hard to judge the muddy when your feet are dirty too." --Jon Acuff


Have you ever said something in a sincere attempt to be helpful or comforting to someone, only to find out later you possibly could not have said a stupider thing?

Case in point: A number of years ago a friend of mine gave birth prematurely to her son. In an attempt to be helpful, I mentioned she was fortunate to be so close to the hospital as when my mom had me three months early, the hospital was a two-hour drive away. It wasn't until said friend was telling someone else in a group I was part of that it's very hard to leave your baby in the hospital no matter how close the hospital is that I realized the idiocy of my supposedly helpful comment.

(insert face palm here)

Not exactly a moment where I was being a great reflection of Christ now, was it?

I could give many more examples of where my attempts at helpfulness were anything but, but that would become tedious, and well, honestly, rather embarrassing for me. The point is, it's often hard to know the right thing to say or do unless you've been in a similar situation. It's easy to give advice when you're not in the thick of things.

On the other hand, I'm not saying we need to have shared someone's experience before we have any right or authority to speak into a situation or to be able to show some empathy. I think the lesson I'm finally starting to learn is I don't have to try and fix everything. Often times the best things I (and we) can do are a) listen, b) pray for guidance, and c) take a step back and ask myself what I would find helpful if I was in the other person's shoes.

Another example: My dad just went through a longer-than-planned hospital stay that was all kinds of crazy (and I mean 'crazy crazy', not 'regular crazy'). Long-ish story short, I was able to step back while my mom was venting her frustrations and remember my own frustrations when my husband went through chemotherapy a couple of years back. And rather than my usual “Fix it!” setting springing into gear, I was able instead to just listen and admit I didn't have the answers as to why things were working out the way they were. And when I was alone, I took a moment to pray for God to help us and guide us.

It's not always easy or convenient to take our shoes off and put on someone else's . . . but I'm starting to realize the short-term inconvenience reaps long-term benefits for all those involved. And it allows us to be less of a 'fun house mirror' reflection of Jesus at the same time, which is really the best thing of all.

Monday, May 17, 2010

In Repair

I'm in repair
I'm not together
But I'm getting there
- "In Repair" by John Mayer


The last twenty minutes or so have been spent clicking through the songs brought up in my iTunes library via the shuffle setting while I've typed, deleted, typed and deleted and typed again various sentences and/or quotes for this blog entry. Nothing that came up in the song queue or in the "New Post" box seemed to be worth listening to or keeping around for posterity's sake.

I feel like that with my life sometimes. Not all of it . . . but a few parts I've been struggling with off and on for however long now. Ah, but I don't want this to turn into another Post of Whining. Seriously, if it gets tiring for *me* to read "I'm struggling with yadee-blah-blah" over and over again, I can well imagine it gets tiring for those who read this blog.

*ahem*

So here goes . . . brace yourselves . . . I'm about to get . . .



. . . positive . . .


I see progress!

I'm learning to let some things go! Some baggage is being dropped!

Now I won't promise you and I it will never be picked up again. I've done that before only to trot back down the road for a 'forgotten' piece of luggage which I then become doubly frustrated with when I acquire more bumps and bruises from lugging around things I know deep down I'm not meant to carry.

Okay, wait -- positive part! Right!

What I do find myself doing more often is putting into practice something R.T. Kendall wrote about in How to Forgive Ourselves - Totally. I can't give a verbatim quote as said book is currently on loan, but the gist of it is this: forgiving ourselves for our mistakes and failures is not necessarily going to be a one-time deal. We may pick up our shame, our guilt, and our regrets again. But rather than beating ourselves up for doing so, what we need to do is forgive ourselves again and again again, until one day we find ourselves so far down the road we can't quite remember where we left that piece of baggage.

And I believe I'm getting there.

I don't have it all 'together' yet.

But I *am* getting there.

I'm in repair.

(And as if that weren't enough, I am also forgiven. How amazing (and humbling?) is that?!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

You, Me & Jesus

One thing I'm (seemingly) slowly starting to realize in a 'put it into practice' kind of a way is that I can't be like other people. I don't mean I'm all avant garde or any such things . . . it's more of a "I just gotta be me" sort of a thing. Now I can't remember if I mentioned this in an earlier post or not, this doesn't mean I don't want to be open to God's correction, to His chisel. (For an excellent illustration of God's chisel in action check out this video .)

I'm trying to get more in sync with Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message):

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.


I like the balance that is in the above passage -- don't be cocky, but don't be too hard on yourself either (which is usually what I'm doing when comparing myself to others). Find out what you're supposed to be doing in this life and then just do it. Not only does this mean you're being obedient to God, it also means you're working in unity with the rest of the body of Christ -- the church. You're not trying to do the youth pastor's job when you're meant to be a youth leader. Nor are you beating yourself up because you're not pastoring like the senior pastor. Basically pick an area where you feel like you don't measure up to someone else and insert Galatians 6:4-5 into it.

Insert *God* into it.

Find out what He wants you to do . . . figure out how He wired you and then allow yourself to be used by Him for His glory.

Easier said than done? Oh, if you're anything like me that's often a loud "Yes!!!" But keep on plugging away. As with any journey, it happens one step at a time.

Be you. Be a reflection of Jesus in this world. Put together with with the rest of His followers, we'll make an amazing picture.

Monday, May 10, 2010

And You Are . . .?

I don't know how many of the possibly 'just a handful' of people reading this blog paid any attention to the user name I gave myself for here -- The Scribbler -- but if they have, they'll see it has changed. The Scribbler was a rather random name, one I came up with when I was feeling as though I scribbled more than anything else. But pretty near anywhere else I post or write or comment on the internet, I use the moniker of crosscribe. So hence the change by the lovely black-and-white picture of the coffee cup. :-)

It has been a topsy-turvy week in my neck of the woods. My dad is in a hospital two hours away awaiting a surgery which was supposed to happen last Friday, was postponed, and is now booked to happen in 'the next day or two'. All this is after the surgery he was supposed to have the Friday before *that* was scrapped in favour of another surgery being performed. To say it has been crazy does not fully cover it. I am amazed at my mother's strength. And it's not that she hasn't become frustrated or impatient . . . but she doesn't stay there. She prays, she seeks wise counsel, and she carries on.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Breaking

It's hard to break habits. Granted, the habit needing to be changed was not formed overnight, so it would follow it won't be changed overnight (if such were not the case, the 'self help' section at bookstores would be much smaller). But do not be fooled -- the working out of the old habit and the establishment of a new one is going to take, well, work!

Yet one does not need to be discouraged, for as Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

And as a rather . . . flighty fish said in Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. . . "

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Relax

My husband and I, for the second year in a row, were blessed with the opportunity to create some Ukranian Easter eggs this past Sunday (Google if you don't know what they are). And I must say, I'm pretty pleased with how they all turned out. True, both of us can nitpick with our a bit and let each other know why this or that doesn't look as it should on them. But given we don't do this on a regular basis, I'd say we did pretty well with them!

Part of the difference for me this year was I managed to relax about the whole process a bit more. I didn't have it in my head I needed to create a work of art or anything. I just needed to (or try to at any rate!) take my time and just enjoy the process. And I could just have fun with it.

I'm starting to realize, too, how I need to be this way as a Christ-follower. No, I'm not supposed to be lazy, sitting around and letting all those around me go about the work of the kingdom. But I'm not supposed to compare myself to others (Gal. 6:4-5), nor am I to carry around all my worries and/or concerns (1 Peter 5:7). I'm to be who God created me to be, doing what He made me to do. Because when I compare myself to others or worry about this, that and the other, I will often end up finding myself confused as to God's will and wandering down some road I need never to have travelled.

In Psalm 119:11 the psalmist wrote of how he had hidden God's Word in his heart so he would not sin against God. And that's what I need to remember to do for all areas of my life, too. When I focus on God, get His Word into me and allow it to be worked out in my life then I'm not all in a knot about what others are doing or what I'm not doing. Why? Well, I'd dare say it's because I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and my focus is right.

Oi, I could ramble on for a bit here (and with the time since my last post, could afford to!), but speaking of getting some work done ...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hmpf

This whole 'post on Friday' thing, as you may have noticed, is not exactly working out. Maybe I should just aim to update on a monthly basis instead . . .

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ahhhh!

So here I am at home, happily clicking away on my computer with this 'n' that before realizing, once again, I have not managed to do a proper blog update on the new update day. :-P

Not good, to say the least.

But a teaser of what's to come: Sometimes God likes to do things backwards. Okay, more accurately, He does things in a way which seems backwards to *us*, but when we take the time to actually take a proper look at things, it makes a grace-full amount of sense.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A New Day, Perhaps?

So I'm sitting here with many things around me that need to be taken care of, and I'm realizing I need to change my schedule. Oh, not my work schedule because that's set by people other than me and I really have no complaints about it. No, I'm realizing I need to change my 'non-work' work schedule. You know, housework and writing and family time and all that.

I used to clean houses for a living, and found the most popular days were immediately before or immediately after the weekend. The former wanted things to look nice for any company and the like, the latter wanted things cleaned up after the company had left. Some people had me come on both a Friday and a Monday, to experience the best of both worlds as it were.

Growing up, my mom got her laundry and the 'big' cleaning of the house done at the start of the week. She still does, in fact. Then it's done and out of the way and she only needs to spiff things up as the weekend approaches. I used to do that myself, but have tried other things the last little while that haven't worked out too well (a.k.a. working on my mad procrastinating skills, which I need to change!). Honestly, as the week progresses I want to be able to tackle other projects. And one of those is writing.

As such, a new goal will be to update this blog on Fridays instead of (in the fits-n-starts I had been accomplishing the task) on Mondays.

So all three of my followers, you have been notified. ;-)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Musings

I grew up in a small town
Wheat fields for a downtown kind of place

--Paul Brandt, “Small Towns and Big Dreams”


Under the auspices of doing research for a novel I'm working on, I headed out to the town I grew up in awhile back to refresh myself with the scenery. It was the first time in recent memory I was there without my husband, parents, and/or siblings. I wasn't going with the intent of looking up any of my old friends who still live there (though I did see a couple of familiar faces). I wasn't so much trying to reconnect as I was trying to re-familiarize myself with things. I wanted to see how good my memory actually was in regards to some of the 'particulars' – an important thing for me to do as the town has changed over the years.

And yes, there was a degree of nostalgia mixed in as well. Driving around the building I spent the last five years of my pre-university education, I remembered waiting for the school bus – and later heading out to the car in the parking lot on the days I was allowed to drive in – mixed in with visits with friends and the faces of teachers. There were the things I thought were so important back then (the usual things we stumble through, I think, on our way to adulthood) and the confines I am, quite frankly, thankful to be free of. And I realized not only has the physical location of my 'growing up' years changed, but I have changed as well. I've married. I've moved to a different small town. I've made new friends, done things I never thought I would when I first ventured out of my home town and away from the expectations of others. And I thank God for where I am now.

There is truth to the saying about not being able to go home again. Okay, physically you can go home again. But what I think the saying means is you can't go back to your past. You can go to your childhood home, but you may find your room has been converted to the grandkids' room and the bitty TV is now downstairs and the layout of the kitchen is totally different and sure, get rid of the squeaks in the hallway floor now that we're all out of the house!

Ahem . . .


So I can go and visit my parents in their home and wander down the streets I would often hurry down on my way to one place or another. But I can't recapture fully who I was back then or the way things were when I was growing up. I'm further up the path with new things to see and old things to possibly see in a new way.

To quote a certain fictional traveller: Allons-y!

Monday, January 25, 2010

DIY

“If you want a thing done well,
do it yourself.” -- Napoleon Bonaparte


We are all familiar with do-it-yourself projects. Such projects are touted as being easier, faster, and – most importantly nowadays – cheaper. As a certain hardware store chain likes to remind us, we can do it and they can help.

We also like to undertake such projects with ourselves as well under the 'self-help' banner. With goals of losing weight, gaining confidence and turning back the clock we buy books, watch videos and subscribe to the philosophies of various gurus. Even Christians have their 'go to' people in this arena. And this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Many are familiar with the passage from the Apostle Paul's letter to the church in Philippi:

". . . work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling . . .”

--Philippians 2:12c (NKJ)


Woo – that is pretty serious stuff. And it is something we can do, right? We can work out our problems and issues so that we are in right standing with God, right? We'll pray and read our Bibles and change all our bad habits and just be awesome Christians! Yes we can!

Only . . . can we really? I don't know about you, but I sort of suck at the whole 'self-improvement' thing. Some days I can very closely identify with the following words Paul wrote to the church in Rome:

“For what I am doing, I do not understand.
For what I will to do, that I do not
practice; but what I hate, that I do.”


--Romans 8:15 (NKJ)


But what about Philippians 2:12c? Isn't Paul contradicting himself? Isn't God contradicting Himself?

In a word, no. Because what we often forget to do (and I'm including myself) is to read Philippians 2:13:

“. . . for it is God who works in you
both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (NKJ)

“God is working in you to make you willing
and able to obey Him.” (CEV)


What how now?

God gives me these standards to meet and live by and then He'll help me do it?

Talk about going against the “do it yourself” grain. And it sounds somewhat impossible and, well, wrong, doesn't it? Perhaps it will help you, then, as it continues to help me to follow the example of Abraham. Talk about a man with an impossible-sounding promise laid out before him – he was told by God he would become the father of a great nation, a nation whose numbers would be up there with the galaxy of stars and the grains of sand on the seashore. This promise was first given to Abraham when God called him to leave his homeland and extended family at the age of 75 (Genesis 12). He was reminded of it most significantly almost thirty years later (Genesis 17) and after he had a son with Sarah's maidservant Hagar.

Yup, Abraham and Sarah took on a 'do it yourself' project when it came to God's promise of a son. Yet God is always faithful and He fulfilled His promise of a son, a direct heir, when Abraham was 100 years old. And better yet, even with his mistakes and attempts to get ahead of God's timing, we read the following about Abraham, also in Paul's letter to the Roman church:

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

-- Romans 4:3 (Message)


Paul then goes on to explain what this means for us:

If you're a hard worker and do a good job, you
deserve your pay; we don't call your wages a gift.
But if you see that the job is too big for you, that
it's something only God can do, and you trust Him
to do it – you could never do it for yourself no
matter how hard and long you worked – well, that
trusting-Him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with
God, by God. Sheer gift.

-- Romans 4:4-5 (Message)


So we can't do it ourselves, nor do we need to. God is there, ready and willing to help us, to give the necessary means if we will only agree to do it His way.

Beats doing it yourself, doesn't it?

Oh, and as for Napoleon Bonaparte, the 'do it yourself' quote giver? Well, his 'do it yourself' project didn't end so well. He was defeated in his final battle at Waterloo, which in turn led to his exile to the island of Saint Helena where he died six years later.