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highlights from a road trip

We just returned from a road trip that included New York City, Philadelphia, St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Toronto, Ontario. Here are a few of the world famous things we saw: the Statue of Liberty, the National Constitution Center, Niagara Falls, and Cassie, the best dog in Brooklyn. Okay, Cassie might not be world-reknowned, but she should be. If you asked me what the highlights were of the trip, however, they would probably not include these famous sites. They would include brunch with Mike and Char who always manage to mix fun and wisdom in wonderful proportion. They would include making a helium balloon bouquet for Ryan and chasing it down the parking lot (alas it was lost in an updraft). They would include cooking a French meal for Constance who was somewhat confounded not to be in the kitchen but just able to sit and talk while someone else did the serving for a change. They would be listening to Jana talk about her confidence in Jesus to guide her future. They would be seeing the look on Greg's face when he received the gift of a beautiful musical instrument. They would be noticing Dean relax more and more each day as the company of good friends and the extravagance of a good God erased all the worries and responsibilities of business and church for a time. It would be a short motorcycle ride with Dean that reminded me of all the good reasons for being on this unpredictable journey. It would be going to sleep every night with contentment and rising every morning with expectation. It would be knowing that there are more people in the world who love us and consider us part of their family than I had thought us worthy of. It would be the stretching of my heart as once again I see how much bigger God's heart is than I could ever imagine. *sigh of gratitude*


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the songs we sing

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When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…

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One of my favourite jokes goes like this:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Interrupting cow
Interrupting cow w---

Timing is important in both drama and comedy. A well-paced story draws the audience in and helps it invest in the characters, while a tale too hastily told or too long drawn out will fail to engage anyone. Surprise - something which interrupts the expected - is a creative use of timing and integral to any good story. If someone is reading a novel and everything unfolds in a predictable manner, they will probably wonder why they bothered reading the book. And so it is in life. Having life be predictable all of the time is not as calming as it sounds. We love surprises, especially good surprises like birthday parties, gifts, marriage proposals, and finding something that we thought was lost. Surprises are an important part of humour. A good joke is funny because it goes to a place you didn't expect it to go. Similarly, comedic timing allows something unexpected …

singing lessons

When I was a young child, a visiting preacher came to our country church. He brought his two daughters with him, and before he gave his sermon, they sang beautiful duets about Jesus. They had lovely voices which blended well. The preacher, meaning to impress on us their God-given musical talent, mentioned that the girls had never had any singing lessons. The congregation nodded and ooohhed in appreciation. I was puzzled. I didn't understand how not learning was a point of grace or even pride. After all, people who have natural abilities in sports, math, writing, art, or science find it extremely helpful to study under teachers who can aid them in their development and introduce them to things outside their own experience. Being self-taught (though sometimes the only option available to those with limited resources) is not a cause for pride or celebration. Why? Because that's just not how the communal, relational Creator set things up.

I have been singing since I was a child. …