Friday, March 30, 2007

the Friday list

1. This is Dean's new car, a Honda Accord. He picked it up on Monday and like he would say, "It doesn't totally suck." We have yet to name the computer woman who lives inside it and gives directions while you are driving and responds to commands like "Radio On." Any suggestions?

2. My car switched from winter tires to summer ones yesterday - the official sign of spring here in Quebec.

3. I had a cat incident this morning. Jazz jumped onto the bed, unaware that my face was exactly where she hoped to land. Surprised, she quickly dug her claws in and jumped right back off again. Ouch! I look like I have been in a bit of a street brawl with the lacerations above my left eye - hopefully this will improve my ability to intimidate and influence people to unquestioningly respond to my requests as they will assume I am someone not to be messed with! Well, one can hope, right?

4. I have been battling a silly cold all week (lost my voice for a few days as well) and yesterday started to feel symptoms that were not good: spells of fatigue and a heavy chest. These were all too reminiscent of my bout with pneumonia over a year ago and I did not want to go down that road again. I asked Dean to pray for me last night and as I was falling asleep, again asking God to clear my chest of any infection, I tried to figure out what "Be healed in the name of Jesus" really meant and if I honestly could say those words with conviction over myself. I know those words are in the Bible (In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk), but I feel uncomfortable with them for some reason. Nevertheless, I prayed for my body to come in line with the will of God and this morning I feel a lot better.

5. I am reading a book on hell (how often have you heard someone say that lately?). I didn't meant to buy a book on hell, I thought it was a story of one's man struggle with faith, but well, it turns out that your view of hell really determines what kind of God you believe in. Is he an exclusive God or an inclusive God? I am finding it an interesting read.

6. Well, I am trying to play backgammon with my friend from South Africa while I type this and I have already lost one game, so let me cease this unsuccessful attempt at multitasking and go and teach him a lesson on the second game.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

my time



This is a picture Dean took in Cuba of the coral reef at the end of our beach - gorgeous when the waves crash against it, but sharp and impossible to walk on barefoot.

I had a job interview today. It went fine and the two men I was talking to were very pleasant and gracious. As they started to list the tasks and events I would be responsible for if I got the position, I started to feel a little anxious because I already had some plans for this spring and summer (good and noble plans like a weekend away with Dean and hopefully some travel to visit friends this summer) and this job with all its obligations might threaten to cut into these wonderful things that I really wanted to do. I decided the only thing to do was leave the matter in God's hands and trust him with whether or not I got the job, but a tiny concern was still there.

As I drove to the vacuum repair depot this afternoon, the real reason for my anxiety suddenly struck me: I believe that my time is my own to do with as I please and when my self-determined plans get threatened, I become anxious or annoyed. After only a few seconds of hesitation to make sure this was what I wanted to do, I told God, "My time is yours. Whatever you consider to be important at this point in my life and necessary for me to accomplish, I will do. I submit my plans to you and you can change or fulfill or rearrange them as you wish."

The anxiety left. Surrender really is the key to freedom from stress. God, my time is yours.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

the prodigal province















I am using the word "prodigal" in the positive sense here to describe someone who is extravagantly generous.

I was driving to school this morning and thinking about all the buzz regarding yesterday's landmark election in Quebec in which a minority Liberal government was elected. One point that my favourite Canadian political commentator, L. Ian MacDonald, made was that it was a bit concerning that over 60% of the votes went to support people that have some degree of Quebec sovereignty or autonomy in their mandate. He concluded that this will probably result in Quebec asking for more concessions from the rest of the country and getting them since the Liberals (federalists) do not hold the majority of power.

Now please understand that I consider myself a Quebecker and have grown to love the people of this province and do not write this lightly or out of any ill-feelings, but out of a desire that we learn and grow together in this great country. It has been my experience that one of the ongoing attitudes of this province seems to be that it is owed something by the rest of Canada. No matter what inequities there have been or are (and face it, we all live with a certain amount of inequity in life), the propagation of this mindset, especially at a governmental level, smacks of a certain level of immaturity, in my opinion. Look at a typical 3-year-old child and you will hear him constantly asking for something, always thinking about himself and his needs, and whining or even threatening radical action if he doesn't get his way; he will seldom think to consider the needs or desires of the rest of the family. In contrast, a mature person who has developed some of his potential will seek ways to offer his skills and abilities and resources to enrich the whole family, provide for them where he is able, and know that as they all work together, every one's needs will be met through mutual support.
In my limited observation, we in Quebec have not reached that point of maturity - we say that we have great wealth in certain resources and a cultural richness, but we have sought to hoard and protect these things instead of sharing them. We feel threatened and have taken a defensive stance when in fact we have great potential to be a strong forerunner in many ways. I believe that we must learn to look beyond our own needs and begin to be confident in our unique identity and learn to lead in our areas of strength instead of asking for special treatment and building protective walls and passing legislations to keep ourselves safe from outside influence.

We are a large, beautiful, resourceful and history-rich province filled with passionate, creative, and skilled people. Let us be generous of spirit (even extravagantly so), open-hearted in our dealings with each other, and conduct ourselves in a way that makes the rest of the country proud to have Quebec as a brother.

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” – Abraham Lincoln

“There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people.” - Sir Winston Churchill

This photo was taken October 9, 2006 near St-Lazare.

Monday, March 26, 2007

the moon is not the sun



This is a picture of the moon taken on March 22, 2007 in Cuba. I find the moon very difficult to photograph for two reasons: 1. it is not very bright and somewhat small so unless you have a major zoom lens, most of the picture is black, and 2. I seldom have my tripod when I see a nice moon and my human body cannot hold a camera steady long enough to get a clear shot. However, balconies are great things to lean on and I thank the Blau Costa Verde resort for thoughtfully building some right where I needed them on that night. The shot is not perfectly steady, but the movement works in this case.

One of the things I have been learning about in the past few months is the concept of surrender. You think you know what it means and you say yes, my life is surrendered to God, but then I react to a situation in a bad way and see that my life is anything but surrendered - I very much want to have things go my way and I get annoyed when they do not. And so I am retaking the life-course on surrender right now and finding it challenging and surprisingly, joyful! Who knew that leaving the choice up to someone else could relieve so much stress and heavy responsibility in ones life? One morning I woke up in Cuba with this phrase in my head: If you can't have your way, whose way would you have? It is obvious that we will not always get our way in this life, and in that case, whose way would we like to be subject to? That is really the choice we face every day. Whose way are we going to follow? If we truly believe that God is smarter and wiser and good-er than us, then why do we still fight to get out own way?

The moon is not the sun. It is merely a reflection, not the main source of light. I am like the moon - a reflector of the glory of God, small and partial it may be, yes, but I show the glory of God. Yet so often, as a mere reflection of the source of all light and life, I pretend I am the sun and believe that I am the centre of the universe and things must fall into orbit around me. More than just being a ridiculously funny and absurd concept, this tendency to make myself the centre of things throws my entire life off course as I fight the very laws that God set in place when he created me. The moon does not chart its own course. It finds its place in relation to a world full of people and ultimately, submits to the strong pull of the brightest and purist light we know. Let me do the same.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Impressions of C*U*B*A



I do not believe that I managed to get an adequate overview of the whole country of Cuba in my short stay there, especially since most of it was on a resort relatively isolated from the everday life of most of the residents, but here are a few impressions, some light-hearted, some a little bit deeper.

1. There are no windows. Virtually all of the houses that we passed as we drove through the country had no windows. There were only shutters of various kinds and at times, open squares in the wall. Most doors were open as well.

2. Many yards boasted a cactus hedge which kept the desired animals in and the less desirable, out.

3. Despite a lovely tropical climate, the land seemed tired and dry, the foliage and grass brownish instead of lush green. There were, however, some outstanding flowers and cactus that were flourishing because of attentive care.

4. Guards and fences were common sights at most establishments. Our resort had a guard and guardhouse at the beach gate and a 24/7 guard just outside our building. There was even a tall wire fence separating our resort from the neighbouring one. Most companies of any size that we drove past had a guard house, several people standing or sitting at the front, a fence around the perimiter, and perhaps a guard tower if it had a large yard.

5. According to one of the Cuban animators at the resort, there are no laptops, ipods, or cell phones allowed into the country (unless you are a tourist). The Cuban people are not allowed to bring them in.


6. While we enjoyed a multitude of channels in our hotel room, we were told that the Cubans only have state channels accessible to them.

7. Billboards and books were mostly political propaganda, especially about Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. One book available in a souvenir store was entitled "The Real Story of Cuba." The first page stated that at no time had Cuba ever instigated any violence against the United States, yet it had been the recipient of much harm and injustice from that country. Another book that I was tempted to buy just for interest sake was "Fidel and Religion." T-shirts and hats mostly boasted Che's picture.


8. Transportation was a wondrous mixed bag. We saw horse-drawn carriages, buses that were really just a truck with a big open box in the back, vintage cars that have been kept on the road and repainted, many motorcycles with sidecars, lots of bicycles, carts drawn by oxen, and of course, some newer European cars, though these were in the minority.

9. The people were some of the most endearing, friendly, open, and generous folks I have ever met. When asked, most of them loved living in Cuba, though one young man seemed to have his sights set on exploring more than the world he knew. I never heard one complaint while I was there, except from people on vacation.


10. Military service is mandatory for men, optional for women.

11. All of the workers on the resort that we came into contact with spoke at least 3 languages, and often more. They were fluent in Spanish, English, French, and sometimes Italian and German as well.

12. The resort we stayed at had been built for wealthy Russians who vacationed in Cuba (when Russian was still Communist as well). The resort was older and in need of a few updates, but it was clean and well-utilised.

13. All the Cuban workers at the resort worked 6 days a week, usually for 12 hours. They got paid less than any workers that were brought in from Italy.

My overall impression of Cuba was that though it has a bit of a tired and run-down exterior, if you scratch beneath the surface, you will find a vibrant and passionate and hard-working, though fun-loving people who could do much with their situation if they were only given the chance.
Last photo: One of the great animators, Jordan, helping me with archery.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

tell the truth about yourself

Well, I asked my good friend Jaclyn to be a guest blogger, and she surprised me by writing something all about ME! I was hesitant to put it up for all to read, but in the 40 Days of Offerings exercises, yesterday was a day to "tell the truth about yourself," so this is what I will try to do. If a wonderful and honest human being like Jaclyn sees glimpses of these good things in my life, it is apparent that my desires to be such a person as she describes are not all in vain. Thank you, Jaclyn, for helping me tell the truth about myself. Here goes, and I did not edit it accept for a few spelling or grammatical tweaks...

Well.. As guest blogger on Matte’s site, I feel greatly honoured. I have witnessed first hand how she diligently maintains it and considers thoughtfully each night what she will write. I willingly admit, I’m totally addicted to reading Matte’s blog. It's definitely on my Internet "favourites" list- for quick and easy access.I want to write a bit about my time spent at Dean and Matte's house. It is a little overdue, because it was about 3 weeks ago now that I left their home, but it cannot go unsaid! I won’t go into details, but basically Dean and Matte have been extremely kind to me. They invited me to stay with them while I was in between jobs (my new job is now in Toronto) for 2 weeks. I had even planned on asking them the favour , but I didn’t have to – they beat me to it. That in itself was a huge blessing to me. And then I got to know them…. …. … …. … And it was wonderful! Simply wonderful.

I know Matte is way too humble to tell everyone how wonderful she is, so I’m going to take the liberty of being a guest blogger and tell everyone out there for her. She deserves a little lashing on of the love. So I just want to write a little about what I experienced while living amongst these two wonderful human beings in their home.

Generosity: Firstly for inviting me to live with them, eat their food, use their stuff (i.e. the wonderful computer, electricity, the computer, water, the computer, and …. the computer… I seriously must owe them at least a million bucks for the electricity the computer used for the amount of time I was on it…..) Secondly for plain and simple outright generosity- Dean and Matte graciously blessed me in many ways, especially financially. I appreciate their thoughtfulness a lot! They went above and beyond nice. They went seriously generous.

Fun FUn FuN! These people are fun! Oh my goodness, I needed a good laugh, I hadn’t done so in many weeks since leaving my home in Australia. From experiencing Dean’s gourmet year-round BBQ-ing in the snow culinary skills with red meat, to Matte’s, "The food is not for eating!!" (It must be in the cupboard for at least 24 hours before anyone is allowed to consume it. It is there for visual purposes only- then after 24 hours, she gives the all clear.) And as you may have read about, the quirky word games we played. My one for today is : (random keyboard letter selection) LKNDF LET’S KINDLE NICE DOCILE FIRES. Well there you go. A nice docile fire coming right up. Anywho- Back to the fun things we did. Matte acted as my own personal tour guide, which meant I got to see some more of Beautiful Montreal before I left. It was great. She’s so much fun to explore with and she understands my wanting to stop and take photos all the time!! Yay for millions of photos.Quality time with a wonderful woman.

This is how I see Matte, this is what I have experienced to be true of her character: Matte is a beautiful lady. Inside and out. I’m going to talk about her insides though. She’s extremely humble. She never boasts or tries to talk herself up. She has an amazing ability to make you feel worth talking to, and worth listening to. She highlights your strengths, and helps you understand yourself more. She sees deeper than most people. She is fun and is not concerned about what she "should" be doing in the eyes of others. She is just her. She laughs, she values humour and an open mind. But she will not let anything take her captive. She guards her heart. She’s real, open, honest and GENUINE. I really value what she has to say a lot, because I know it is exactly as she sees it, not as she wants to see it.

She doesn’t hide (much- we all hide in a way I guess… since Adam and Eve hid, so have we all hid). She willingly admits her faults (which no one else can see anyway so why bother?!). No in all seriousness, she isn’t afraid of faults, she learns from them, and openly shares her experiences with them. But at the same time, she does not blurt out all her life story onto you or overwhelm or overload you in any way. She is tactful and pleasant to communicate with. She makes you feel completely equal, no less, no more than herself. She puts you on an even playing field. She is wise and thinks about things. She doesn’t take what the world tells her. She forms her own opinions, and tests them alongside God’s thoughts on the matter. She chats away to God, about anything she wishes. About small things, about big things. She knows He cares, and she knows He’ll tell her the things she needs to know. She is bold and confident in her faith. She represents Him the best way she knows how.

Matte never complains (unless someone eats the food too early), and never fights her way to the top. She graciously considers the opinions of others, however, she is not afraid to challenge them gently. She accepts the leadership of her husband with great dignity and respect, but is never weak or unsubstantial. She honours him and only ever speaks highly of him. She is diligent in the things she has to do, her areas of responsibility. She is thoughtful, and considerate of others, and practices generosity towards them. She looks out for them, she seeks to better other people’s lives, and bring joy to those around her, near and far. She values truth, and does her bit in the world to reveal it. She always looks at things from a different angle, challenges herself, and allows herself to be challenged by others and God. She has a teachable spirit. She is smart, logical and erratic all at the same time. She’s silly, serious and sane. She’s a witty and bizarre mixture of fun, wisdom, reality, dreams, truth and imagination. She’s a lively character, but is not hyperactive, she stays calm and holds things in perspective. She sees every challenge as an opportunity to grow. And she seeks to grow. She’s just overall down right lovely. Hospitable, Enjoyable. Inspiring, Loving, Joyful. And she does kick-boxing 3 times a week- that just says it all.

I have loved getting to know you, Matte, in the short time we had. I respect you a lot. Thanks for becoming a very dear friend, my memories of you will always be wonderful ones that I will cherish forever. You have truly been a blessing to me, and I thank you for everything you have given me. I value your wisdom and outlook on life, and I think both myself and many others can learn a lot from you. Every time I think of you, I cry! It’s true. I just, I guess I am totally amazed at how God placed you both in my life and how timely that was, and how much it helped me to get a grip on what I was doing and give me a leg up to the next part of my life. You guys were hugely instrumental in that happening smoothly for me, and I am endlessly grateful for that, so so grateful!! So to everyone out there that Knows Matte, or doesn’t, I want y'all to know that I think she is the bomb-diggity. (That’s a good positive happy thing in Australia…) Why not send her a little compliment today, in her "comments" section. She deserves a little loving from us all.

This photo of Dean, Jaclyn and Matte was taken at Popessa's on March 1, 2007 where we were celebrating Jaclyn's time with us.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Top 11 from Cuba


1. Going from minus 10 to plus 29 degrees in 4 hours! YES!
2. A shallow white sand beach where you can wade in for at least 30 metres and still only be waist deep.
3. Coconut yogurt - yum!
4. The most creative chambermaid named Nivia who makes art out of blankets and towels. Yesterday our blanket sculpture was a swan wearing my sunglasses! haha
5. Dean getting lots of sleep! (very good)
6. Reading a good book with the ocean waves crashing in the background.
7. Watermelon for every meal!
8. A leisurely horseback ride up into the countryside where we saw farms, farmers, animals and a beautiful view from the hillside.
9. Pina coladas by the pool.
10. Wonderful and talented Cuban musicians who all know how to not only keep a beat but mix complex rhythms together AND dance at the same time. Wow!
11. Did I mention watermelon? Oh, and sun, surf, sand, and smoking the competition at rifle shooting! We are known as the most dangerous couple in the resort! haha

This is me on the beach at sunset (just put the camera on self-timer and run!) on Thursday, March 22.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

un-frozen


We are leaving for Cuba tomorrow at 6 am. I am trying to pack (are 6 books too many?) and finish up a few things I have to get done before we leave; this day has been a little too long on "to do's" and a little too short on sleep and food. Oh well, there are days like that and then, there are days like tomorrow. YES!
Leaving jobs and church responsibilities behind makes me realise that we too often work ourselves into positions where we seem almost indispensable, and we should instead be working to equip and enable and develop leaders that not only lead alongside us, but surpass us in many ways - who flourish and grow when we leave a gap instead of collapsing into it.
May there be much flourishing and thawing and growing this week in Montreal AND in Cuba.
This picture was taken on Christmas day a few years ago in Winkler, Manitoba.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

day off



We leave for Cuba in 2 days. It is a welcome and much-needed vacation for Dean and I am happy to go with him. I was just reading the end of 2 Chronicles this afternoon where a 70-year exile was imposed on the people of Israel to make up for all the unkept sabbaths. Yikes! Though keeping the sabbath is not one of the top commandments in many people's minds, this story reminds us that it is not to be ignored.

As Jesus demonstrated, keeping a holy day is not about ceasing all labour nor about a specific period of time that is untouchable. It it about not finding your source in your own efforts. It is acknowledging every minute of every day that God makes the difference, not my labour. It is about being able to rest with confidence that he will always supply everything I need and refusing to become part of the self-reliant community that seeks to make its own way and success.

When was the last time you truly had a sabbath? When you stopped your mind and soul from analysing and planning and making to-do lists in order to successfully complete the next phases of your life and just rested in the fact that God is the giver and sustainer of all life and right now, that is enough. And it always must be. Unless God builds the house, we labour in vain (Psalm 127)

This photo was taken at sunset on Mont Royal in Montreal on February 27, 2007.

Monday, March 12, 2007

intervention


This is the interior of one of my favourite local restaurants which has a view onto the river at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. It has very little to do with intervention, but I really like the blue in this photo.
Saturday was a day off and Dean I spent some of the afternoon watching a show called Intervention. They followed a girl (in her early 20's, I guess) around with a camera on the ruse that they were doing a documentary on addiction. You see her driving to a dealer with her girlfriend to buy drugs, then they both shoot up in the car and she talks you through what she is feeling. Most of the conversations with her friends are about drugs and when they can get high again. In truth, the family has contacted someone to do an intervention because this girl's life is out of control and she is making bad decisions and her family is suffering for it. The cameras are an excuse to get into her life and confront her.
When the family and friends finally start the intervention, she is very angry and won't talk to anyone or come out of her room. It was amazing to watch the man in charge of the intervention start to cut off all the avenues that she has been used to using as excuses or defense mechanisms in order to get her to face her problem. After a few letters of love and fond memories are read, she is encouraged to get help. She is given about an hour to make a decision - either leave for rehab or they call the police and report her and she is kicked out of the house. At no point is physical coercion used nor are any voices raised (except for hers). Her car is disabled so she cannot run away, but she tries several times. The intervener remains calm and focused at all points, just pointing her back to the love of her family and friends and the choice she must make. She remains beligerent for most of the program, but to my surprise, when the deadline to make a decision rolls around, she begins to weep and cry, saying, "I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do." Her boyfriend (who had heroin problems himself) packs her bag and encourages her to go. Finally, she gets into the waiting van of her own volition and heads for the rehab centre thousands of miles away. Three months later, they show her in her role as the manager of a half-way house and she looks like a different person. She has lost that wild, panicked, angry, and desperate look. She smiles and says that the intervention was the nicest thing anyone ever did for her. While she was in rehab, the girlfriend that she shot up with on camera died of an overdose.
These images have stuck with me, for I would like to have the same qualities that the intervention man had: he knew what was feeding the addiction and enabling it and he cut those avenues off so that this woman could see more clearly and face her real issues instead of hiding behind secondary ones. I want to be able to do this in my own life and develop the skill to help others see clearly where they are confused. God, help me see the places where I oppose you and myself and those who love me; and then help me let go.

Friday, March 09, 2007

10 random Friday things


1. I installed this new kitchen faucet today and think I did a pretty good job. No leaks (like the old faucet had developed), no personal injuries (despite power saws being in use), and no swearing (despite some rather frisky silicone sealant).

2. Today I finally decided that I am only 2 Diet Dr. Peppers away (all the stock I have in the fridge) from giving up aspartame. Sigh. I do love my fizzy drinks, though I know aspartame does my head and body no good. Any suggestions for alternatives? My friend recommended Club Soda, and I picked up some Orange Crush with sucralose. Taste tests to commence soon. I think I will have one now. Pop!


3. While driving home from Home Depot today, I took this picture. Now, I don't recommend photography while driving and I am sure the people behind me don't either, but the sky was amazingly grey and bright at the same time. Forgive the dirty windows but it somehow puts the wondrous sight in perspective.

4. Today's Lent exercise is to lie on the floor or get up on a table or counter and notice 5 things I usually don't see from my normal perspective. It is an exercise in seeing things in a new way and changing perspective.
5. Dean bought a new car today, or rather, made arrangements to lease it. His current car, which he inherited from some other guy at work, has been a source of aggravation to him as things started to go wrong in the last few years. I must say, its large interior and trunk will be missed (who knew you could fit 8 people into an Intrepid?).
6. Today I have eaten a bowl of cereal, 3 digestive cookies, and some Lays barbeque chips. I think it is time for a good supper.
7. I was majorly disappointed that something did not come in the mail today. I even checked the mailbox twice! Oh well, another lesson in trusting God's timing.
8. Someone called me ignorant on the debate forum I participate in online. That's a new adjective for me (I don't think I have ever been called that before) and I was surprised how little it affected me. God surely has done some major strengthening in my personality in the last few years. My response was that insults add nothing to the discussion and I left it at that.
9. I love Walmart. You can instantly print photos from your digital camera and they just pop into a tray right in front of you!
10. Now I only have one Diet Dr. Pepper left.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

starting again


This is one of our guest rooms. It no longer looks like this because I painted 2 of the walls yesterday and did a second coat on them today. It was called "The White Room" by one of our friends because that was all it was...lots of white (and posters of Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix), but after adding a darker comforter and some warm colour called Rosestone on the walls, it promises to be much more inviting.
Despite this house being just over 2 years old, getting it just right has been my ongoing project since we moved in October, 2005. Last summer was spent outside doing the landscaping and lawn and putting up eavestroughs and parging the foundation and painting the deck. This winter we reconfigured the guest bathroom to include a shower and use the space better. Now I am looking to repair all the cracks that have formed as the house settles and use some colour to convert the bedrooms into homey retreats for all who dwell here and all who visit us. And when we finally finish all the projects to make it the home we always wanted, we will probably sell it.
One of the points I remember from the John Wimber teaching DVD we watched last week was how at several times in his life, God asked him to start from the beginning again - new people, new location, new church, new job, new vision. And this is what being a life-long learner looks like. Your goal is not to get everything just right, surround yourself with great people, and then relax. No, building a great community is rather pointless and self-serving if it does not see outside of itself. Part of the beauty of sowing and reaping is that when you give your best away, you are growing something more than you ever could if you kept things to yourself. God set this basic method of multiplication into the very fibre of the earth and mankind, so do not be surprised that after a great harvest of something good in your life, you find yourself at a sort of beginning again, with a tiny seed in your hand and a time of intense work and great joy ahead of you.
My goal is not to end up with the biggest harvest in my storehouse, but to wisely scatter and nurture the seeds God has entrusted me with and be generous with any return that comes back to me.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

tea and silence

This photo taken by Dean is of Tea deeply engrossed in one of her favourite hobbies: sleeping under the covers of our bed. Today Tea is 5 (well, somewhere around this date - because Tea was found in a park, we don't really know when she was born). Happy Birthday, Tea!

I have been sending out daily emails of 40 Days of Offerings (a simple and brief devotional exercise to do each day of Lent) to our friends and church community. Today's suggested exercise was to stop all the noise for a bit and LISTEN. Sit in silence and hear. Read a passage from the Bible out loud and hear. Ask God to give us ears to hear. I sat with Tea at the dining room table and after reading my Bible, listened. This is what I heard:
* Tea licking herself clean (she does this rather noisily)
* the fridge running
* my breathing
* the wind outside
* the house creaking
* an MSN alert when Amy from Toronto signed in
* the clock ticking in the office
* my stomach gurgling and digesting

I also asked God to let me hear him more clearly and he reminded me of a verse I had just read in 2 Chronicles 29. This is verse 11 from The Message: "Children, don't drag your feet in this! God has chosen you to take your place before him to serve in conducting and leading worship - this is your life work; make sure you do it and do it well."

Only minutes after I read this verse, I received an email from my friend Awa who was praying that today I would hear one of those founding truths from God that last a lifetime. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

boundary


This is a boundary marker between Canada and the United States. We were in line at the Quebec/New York customs a few summers ago when I snapped this picture. I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with an acquaintance who was talking about pursuing further education and telling me all the things he did not want to do or places he did not want to go for various reasons. Either the school was not well-rounded enough, or the internal politics were distateful, or he had no respect for someone who had come from there. At one point I just stopped him and said, "If you want to learn, you can learn anywhere! If Jesus is your teacher, it doesn't matter that the place or the people are not perfect. He can teach you what you need to know."
Yesterday I was thinking about the restrictions and boundaries we often place on ourselves that take us out of trying things before we even consider them. My excuses have included, but not been limited to: age, gender, lack of experience, lack of courage, lack of resources, being a female, my family background, my size, past bad experiences, language barriers, or what others think. I don't believe any of those are very valid motivations at all, in fact, most of the time they have proved to be better de-motivators than anything else. I believe I am to be a lifelong learner and lover. But if I want to learn, I must let everything be a teaching experience; if I want to love, I must chase fear and self-protection away. If I want to change, I must be willing to enter unfamiliar territory. I must be willing to let God set the boundaries instead of being my own border guard.
Where are you not willing to go? What are you not willing to do? Are your answers reflective of a heart fenced in for protection or a life wide open to the possibility that God can and will rearrange everything in your life until you look like Jesus?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

wheat

I grew up on a farm and the image of a stalk of wheat is a familiar and strong one for me. This photo was taken in New Brunswick on a trip to visit friends a few summers ago. Tonight at church we watched a DVD of John Wimber teaching on the cost of commitment. The concepts of faithfulness and commitment are not popular these days; instead, self-realisation and fulfilment and getting in touch with how we feel have become much more valued as guiding forces in our lives. However, if we want any of the good stuff in our lives to multiply and stick around after even after we are gone, we must be prepared to die and plant it again, to give it up and start from the beginning over and over again, every time God asks it of us. Learning never stops, and new growth always requires new starts. Only God can make something that is truly eternal and of lasting importance. Let your legacy be in the hands of one who can make it more that you could ever imagine.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

just for fun, just for Jaclyn


Jaclyn from Australia left this morning for Toronto. She had been living with us for 2 weeks and she was the most fun to have around. I very seldom meet someone who loves to do so many of the same things as I do, can be fun AND deep, and understands so many of my quirky ways and words, and in fact, spurs me on with her own antics! One of the wacky things we did one night was play a word game where you get five random letters in a row and you have to make up a sentence using one letter to begin each word. Here are some of our best and silliest sentences:

1. Bounce the chicken meat around.
2. Every cactus loves yelling, "Come!"
3. The toilet paper is all fun!
4. Crazy Jello builds wiggly you.
5. Married dogs electrify night skates.
6. Come shovel heavy fluff - interesting!
7. The eggs clapped for mom.
8. Green peanuts make everyone throw-up.
9. "Have fun," said chatty Edmund.
10. Drama has elephants, you cheap!
11. Gladly make nine avacado vacuums.

And if anyone is feeling the vibe, go ahead and make a sentence with the following letters as the beginning of each word: K D E W M. Post it in comments. Enjoy!

Jaclyn, I miss you already! No worries!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

walking on water

This photo was taken earlier tonight from the middle of Baie de Vaudreuil. Yes, I was walking on water, literally! My Australian friend and I decided to take a little walk on the frozen river and see things from a slightly different perspective. We visited 2 ice fishermen who had caught five fish and were waiting for more to nibble on their baited strings. We saw sections of ice so clear and black that it felt like you were seeing and stepping into a black chasm of space. We peered into an uninhabited ice shack that contained wooden chairs and other miscellaneous tools and equipment for a good day's fishing. We watched several cars drive by on the ice and wondered why they didn't stop to give us a ride back to our car because we were getting cold by this point! We observed that one must walk quite differently on ice than one does on snow if you want to remain upright. And we realised how easy it is to get disoriented when familiar things like roads, signs, buildings and lights are not present.

When walking on water, always keep your eyes on where you are going.