Thursday, July 29, 2010


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.


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


“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.