Thursday, December 27, 2007
Ten years ago today...... I married my hero.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Love is a choice. Never before have those words meant more to me than they do this holiday season. Christmas is a natural time of year to reflect on love, joy, peace, hope, etc., but this year – as never before – I’ve been reflecting on the truth that love is really a choice.
Over 2000 years ago a love story was born through Mary and Joseph. Aside from what the Bible says about their engagement, we know nothing about the interaction between them. Given the time period, however, it’s safe to assume that their marriage was an arranged marriage. Arranged by their families, but ultimately arranged by God. Unknown to their fathers, who likely agreed upon the union, and unknown to Mary and Joseph themselves, God had a plan bigger than anyone could have dreamed. A plan that required two very special people who made the choice to love.
The minute their plan to marry was interrupted by an unexpected pregnancy, both Mary and Joseph faced a difficult decision. The choice to love in the face of overwhelming odds, impossible conditions and unheard of circumstances, or the choice to turn their backs on their commitment to each other and to God. Fortunately for the world, they chose love. Love for God. Love for the unimaginable miracle they were being called to be a part of. Love for a marriage commitment that would face challenges no one could possibly fathom. Love for a child that would draw them together in a way they could have never planned. They chose love, despite the hardship they knew they would face. The chose love, even when love was likely the furthest thing from their minds at the time.
As I reflect on this powerful love story, my thoughts drift to my own love journey. As the year draws to a close, my husband and I celebrate a milestone anniversary --- 10 years. 10 years of learning, through tears and laughter, that love truly is a choice. A daily choice. Right from the get-go our relationship was an intentional choice. Though we didn’t go through anything like what Mary and Joseph faced, we did endure challenges the minute we agreed to marry. And for the past 10 years we have had to choose love daily, even when it would have been easier to thrown in the towel.
This Christmas, as you reflect on God’s love choice for us in sending His Son to save us, I challenge you to spend some time thinking about the love choice God is calling you to make. It may be the love choice to follow Him to places that don’t make sense. It may be the love choice to love a spouse that has grown distant, or a child that has chosen to rebell. Or it may be the love choice to care for a stranger that desperately needs to see the love of God through you. What ever the challenge before you, this Christmas choose love, and watch what love can do. Choose love, because love chose you.
Friday, November 30, 2007
I love Christmas. This is due in large part to a plethora of wonderful holiday memories from my childhood. But of all my Christmas memories, there is one that stands out among the rest.
When I was about 5 or 6, I believed in Santa with all my heart. My beloved grandpa loved Christmas too, and got right into my anticipation of Santa and all that the holidays mean for a child. As we drove home on a snowy Christmas eve, I remember clearly his excitement as he looked out the car window and exclaimed “Joey, I see Santa!” Determined to see Santa too I quickly turned in my seat to peer out the rear window, hoping to see him too. “Where Grandpa? Where!?!?”, I remember screaming. He assured me that he had seen him, and I spent the rest of the drive home glued to the window. I knew that if my grandpa had seen him he must be real, and I was desperate for a glimpse.
A few years later I came to the realization, as all children eventually do, that Santa wasn’t real. But that truth did nothing to spoil the memory of that special moment between my grandpa and I. My beloved gramps was merely enjoying helping his favourite granddaughter (his only granddaughter) get into the spirit of the holidays! If anything I loved him more for helping me create that special memory!
Almost 30 years later, however, I am even more grateful for a completely different kind of anticipation instilled in me by my grandpa and others who have made their mark on my life. But this time my anticipation is for someone more real, more remarkable, and more amazing than any story of Santa Claus. Thanks to the faith instilled in me by my parents and grandparents, I now sit in anticipation of Jesus return. And while I will spend time this holiday season enjoying the stories and songs of Santa, I will celebrate the birth of my Saviour and Lord, and look out my window with anticipation at the promise that He is coming someday soon!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Today we did an odd thing at work. We played with bubble wrap. We jumped on it. We rolled in it. We lined the entrance to our office doors with it. But mostly we laughed. Bubble wrap has a way of making you do that.
It made me think a little about how much fun children have with the simplest of things. A box. A spoon and a shiny pot. A light switch. And, yes, bubble wrap. But something happens to us as we grow older, and somewhere along the way we lose the ability to find joy in little things.
The same is true with our faith. Somewhere between 5 and 35 we lose our child-like, innocent, “My God can do anything” faith. We stop believing in the impossible. We lose some of the awe and wonder we once had about God. We stop praying for the bugs, our toys, and the imaginary friends we love. We stop learning and exploring. And we stop dreaming. Somewhere along the way we forget that He created fun, loves to be adored, gave us dreams, and simply wants us to believe. Not to question, analyze or compare, but simply to believe.
In my quest to celebrate life, savour the moments and enjoy the little things, today’s experience has added a new element to my quest. I am now determined to enjoy a faith that trusts more, and questions less. A faith that is wide-eyed with wonder. I long for a bubble-wrapped faith.
(Reader – take a break and enjoy some bubble-wrap at http://www.chatiran.com/postcard/bubble-wrap.php)
Saturday, November 17, 2007
2. Since I’m naming people too - My family
3. Pictures of my nephews - they adorn my home and my office
4. Risotto from Don Francesco’s in
5. Movies – all kinds
6. The perfect night’s sleep
7. Showers – not baths – showers
8. Scrumptious body washes – my current fav, Softsoap’s “Shea Butter”
9. Cozy P.J.s
10. Lazy nights curled up on the couch watching TV or a movie
11. Trying new recipes
12. Christmas – everything related to the holidays
13. Laughter – the sound of life being celebrated
14. My photo albums & scrapbooks – memories of friends and special times
15. IKEA –
16. Fun and funky pens and sticky notes
17. Decorating magazines
18. A good book – particularly anything by Frank Peretti
19. Music – I need music on around me 24/7, if I’m not listening, I’m singin’
20. The crisp air of a perfect fall morning
21. The vibrant colours of fall
22. a perfectly clean house
23. a cozy blanket
24. the crackle of a fire
27. Baskets – I love baskets for everything!
28. Sunday morning drives to church
29. Road trips & travel
32. Quiet Time – being still
36. weekend get-a-ways
37. watching my hubby on the drums – I get a kick out of how much fun he seems to have
38. Creative juices – the rush of adrenaline when you get on a roll with something
39. Gift giving – for no reason
40. My bed
41. Grocery shopping early in the morning
43. Saturday mornings
44. My home
45. A really good cup of coffee
46. The perfect Mac n’ Cheese
47. Hotels – I love staying in hotels!
48. Brunch on a lazy day.
49. Funky socks
50. Long walks on the beach
Monday, November 05, 2007
Snuggling in the warmth of a cozy bed as the sun (yes sun) peaks through the curtains in our hotel room.
Stepping out into the crisp morning air and marvelling at how the sun highlights the fall colours in the trees.
Grabbing a warm coffee and scone from Starbucks and enjoying them while walking along English Bay.
Walking and shopping at Granville Island - on a Monday when there's fewer tourists!
Picking out yummy ingredients for a decadent evening meal when we get home.
Napping on a lazy Monday afternoon.
Making dinner (stuff mushrooms, kabobs, risotto cakes, and salad... yum) in our PJs.
Cuddled up on the couch with my "Hiro" to watch Hiro and the other heroes on Heroes! Ha ha...
Crawling into bed to read before drifting off to sleep on a perfect Monday.
It was a good thing.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
I caught a bit of one of my favourite movies today, and was pleased to come into it at precisely my all-time favourite scene! While overall a good story with some decent acting, the main reason I love it is quite simply for a 2-3 minute scene, towards the end. The movie – “A Few Good Men.” The performance – Jack Nicholson as Col. Jessup, and Tom Cruise as Lt. Kaffee. Nicholson’s performance won him an Academy Award nomination, and while he truly makes this scene memorable, I believe it’s the writing I envy the most. Hats off to Aaron Sorkin for this masterpiece:
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): I think I'm entitled to them.
Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Jessep: You can't handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.
Kaffee: Did you order the code red?
Jessep: You're *&$# right I did!!
Well done. Well done.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Thanks to those who have used and abused that word in order to dominate and take advantage of women, the idea of a wife submitting to her husband is considered a thing of the past. Even in Christian circles, among those who claim to know and understand God’s word, the topic of submission is avoided at all costs. And while, admittedly, the concept of submission has been twisted by those interested only in abusing and demeaning women, I believe it is not submission itself that is wrong, but the way in which we interpret and live out the concept.
I must confess that I am not your average 21st century woman. While I am strong, confident, independent and outspoken, at 34 years of age I would gladly give up my career to stay home loving and caring for my husband. I am proud to be known as Mrs.
Submitting to my husband does not mean losing myself, or allowing him to walk all over me. Submitting to him does not mean I have no voice, or no freedom to do as I wish. Instead, I propose that true submission brings with it a far greater freedom and worth than the feminist movement ever dreamed. As a God-fearing, submissive wife, I consider myself to be happier, more fulfilled and even more confident than those who are fighting so hard not to submit. I believe that true submission – as God intended – is what makes me equal, and in many ways yielding more than power than, my husband.
It is my desire then, to help change the way we view the idea of submission. The longing of God’s heart is NOT that I submit and become a slave to my husband, but that instead I support him, understand him, believe in him, make a home for him, realize my influence on him, and trust him as the leader of our home.
My husband has been called by God to be the head of our home and, to quote a famous line from Spiderman, “with great power comes great responsibility!” In the end when we stand before the Lord, my husband will be held accountable for how he leads his family. With that huge burden on his shoulders, my role as his wife is to support him or lighten the load for him when I can. To believe in him when he struggles to believe in himself. To make a home for him, and ensure it’s a place of refuge for him when he comes home tired from fighting life’s battles. Submission means realizing the influence I have over him, and using that influence to help, not harm, him. And finally I am to trust him. To trust in his wisdom as he follows God’s guidance in leading our family. In submitting in this way, I don’t lose, but rather gain a happy, strong, confident, loving, respectful, and even passionate husband. My willingness to submit as God intended me to, allows my husband to be the man God truly intended him to be. How could a husband, who is living 100% in tune with God’s plan and purpose, bring me anything but full contentment and fulfillment as a woman? What greater responsibility, with the exception of those privileged enough to raise children, is there than the responsibility of a submissive wife?
Support. Understand. Believe. Make a home for. Influence. Trust. I am woman, hear me submit!
“True strength lies in submission which permits one to dedicate his life, through devotion, to something beyond himself.” Henry Miller
Thursday, September 27, 2007
On September 9th, my husband was officially “installed” or “inducted” a pastor, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that we have endured nothing but the fiery darts of the evil one ever since. Our schedules have gone crazy in the last few weeks to point that we never see one another and when we do it’s for short amounts of time when we are both exhausted and have nothing left to give. We are fighting more about silly, trivial things. I’ve struggled with highly intense emotions that seem to come from no where, and my husband has been facing temptations he’s never struggled with before. But out of all these things the attack that’s bothering me the most is the direct attack we’re seeing on our marriage. In 10 years of marriage I have never struggled to love my husband, and vice versa, like I have in this last month.
Realizing this for what it is – a desperate attempt by the enemy to discourage and push away from what God has called us to – my husband and I agreed that instead of feeling like we are facing EACH OTHER in battle, we need to “armour up,” get “back to back,” and point our weapons outward in defence of the sanctity of our marriage. We need to bathe it in prayer, and invite others to do the same. And most of all, we need to remember that these attacks are a compliment! After all, if the enemy is working this hard to destroy our ministry and marriage, than we must be doing something right for the Kingdom!
My favourite contemporary Christian artist, Steven Curtis Chapman, has a song that speaks to this, and my husband and I have decided to make it our “battle cry!”
I didn’t come lookin’ for trouble, and I don’t want to fight needlessly, but I’m not gonna hide in a bubble if trouble comes for me. I can feel my heart beating faster; I can tell something’s coming down. But if it’s gonna make me grow stronger then… bring it on! Now, maybe you’re thinkin’ I’m crazy; and maybe I need to explain some things. ‘Cause I know I’ve got an enemy waiting who wants to bring me pain. But what he never seems to remember, [is that] what he means for evil God works for good. So I will not retreat or surrender… bring it on! Now, I don’t want to sound like some hero, ‘cause it’s God alone that my hope is in. But I’m not gonna run from the very things that would drive me closer to Him! So bring it on! Let the lightning flash, let the thunder roll, let the storm winds blow... bring it on! Let the trouble come, let the hard rain fall, let it make me strong. Bring it on!
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the Heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground...." Ephesians 6:12-13
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance
I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance...
Take time to smell the roses today. Count and thank God for His blessings. And... remember to dance!
"Dance like nobody's watching; love like you've never been hurt.
Sing like nobody's listening; live like it's heaven on earth."
~Mark Twain/William Purkey/whomever (there are discrepancies about who actually said this)
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Saturday, September 01, 2007
It was just a month ago that I started on my campaign to “Celebrate Life.” Throughout August I have shared the burden the Lord put on my heart for this with those around me, and in so doing I have been amazed the response. I have addressed both small groups and larger groups, and in every instance I have been approached by people who have all said the same thing in response: “that was just what I needed to hear.” Are we really that busy, overwhelmed and weighted down?
As my little campaign has developed, and in fact turned into a form of ministry for me, I have concluded that there are four things we must all do to truly celebrate life: 1) cast our cares; 2) savour the moments; 3) learn to laugh; and 4) count our blessings.
Cast Our Cares: We can’t truly learn to live and celebrate life while weighted down with burdens. I Peter 5:7 calls us to “Cast all your anxiety on him (GOD) because he cares for you." Doing so means realizing we can’t control everything, nor can we do anything on our own strength. We must lay our burdens at His feet and rely on Him to carry us through.
Savour the Moments: As I said in my previous blog, we need to learn to savour the big and small moments in life. Take a walk on a warm evening and enjoy the sunset, enjoy sleeping in on a Saturday morning, get down on the floor and be silly with that two-year-old that’s driving you crazy, and take an extra moment to tell someone you love them. Life is short - savour every moment.
Learn to Laugh: Have you ever noticed how contagious laughter can be? Or how people are drawn to laughter? I am convinced that this is a key ingredient missing in many of our churches, but what better place to truly let loose and have some fun! We are people saved by grace, and filled with joy unspeakable! We should be smiling from ear to ear and celebrating life to the fullest, and yet we sit in our pews on Sunday half asleep, and looking more like we are in mourning than in celebration! Can you imagine the impact your church would have if it loosened up and showed the world that it could have some fun?
Count Your Blessings: So often we go to God with our problems, or share our concerns with others, but when was the last time you thanked God for all He’s blessed you with, or told someone what God has done in your life! We have so much to be grateful for, and counting your blessings -- especially in times when life seems to be giving you lemons -- is a great way to lift your spirits and remember that life is good!
A few weeks ago I hosted an evening in our home with the ladies of our church, and I shared with them a verse from Proverbs 31 that describes a woman who has truly learned to celebrate life. Proverbs 31:25 says “Strength and Dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future.” In Hebrew the word “strength” means “a mighty fortress, powerful stronghold.” God is our mighty fortress! He has the strength we lack. “Dignity” refers to God’s beauty and majesty – this is a woman who radiates God’s love and joy! Finally, “smile” in Hebrew literally means to laugh, to celebrate, to enjoy life! This woman is truly casting her cares, savouring the moments, laughing at life and counting her blessings. I want to BE this woman.
Wont’ you join me in my quest to be more intentional about celebrating life?
Cast your cares on Him! Savour the moments this month! Learn to laugh at yourself. Count your blessings… and as you do, you will celebrate life!
P.S. In August I used the "odd holidays" on the calendar to remind me to celebrate life and savour the moments each day. I invite you to join me as I continue to do this through the month of September. You can find a list of the holidays online at: http://www.holidaysinsights.com/moreholidays/september.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I’ve been thinking a lot about the brevity of life lately, due in large part to two very recent and tragic deaths that have affected some friends and their families. It’s often easy to let life breeze by without truly taking the time to savour each moment. Unexpected deaths have a way of jolting us back to reality, forcing us to see how short life really is, and prompting us to refocus and reprioritize so that we can truly take pleasure in every moment.
Well-known pastor and radio personality Chuck Swindoll (Insight for Living) tells his listeners of a family tradition that I have been considering implementing in my own family. It’s called the “Red Plate.” His family has one red plate that is used at family meals in the Swindoll home to recognize the big and small achievements in life. For birthdays, accomplishments in school or work, or simply to say “we think your special,” the red plate is pulled out to honour someone in the Swindoll family. What a wonderful tradition, and a powerful way of celebrating the joys in life that often go unnoticed!
This idea, along with a tradition that a friend of mine has to celebrate National Cheesecake Day (July 30th) each year with his family, prompted me to consider how I can help those around me celebrate life. And so, on August 1st, I introduced my “Celebrate Life” campaign both at home and at work, with a pledge to help us all celebrate the “odd holidays” along with the traditional ones that we so often take for granted.
Want to join in and celebrate life? Here’s a look at the “odd” holidays that came up on the Internet for the month of August:
August 1 is Friendship Day and National Raspberry Cream Pie Day
August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day
August 3 is National Watermelon Day
August 4 is Twins Day Festival
August 5 is National Mustard Day
August 6 is Wiggle Your Toes Day
August 7 is Sea Serpent Day
August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night
August 9 is National Polka Festival
August 10 is S'mores Day
August 11 is Presidential Joke Day
August 12 is Middle Child's Day
August 13 is Blame Someone Else Day
August 14 is National Creamsicle Day
August 15 is National Relaxation Day and National Failures Day
August 16 is Bratwurst Festival
August 17 is National Thriftshop Day
August 18 is Bad Poetry Day
August 19 is Potato Day
August 20 is National Radio Day
August 21 is National Spumoni Day
August 22 is Be An Angel Day
August 23 is National Spongecake Day
August 24 is Knife Day
August 25 is Kiss-And-Make-Up Day
August 26 is National Cherry Popsicle Day
August 27 is Just Because Day
August 28 is World Sauntering Day
August 29 is More Herbs, Less Salt Day
August 30 is National Toasted Marshmallow Day
August 31 is National Trail Mix Day
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
As the spider took off for a place of refuge, the couch being the closest hiding place, I screamed and did a dance in the opposite direction. But as I made a dash towards the kitchen it occurred to me that I was the only one home, and that if I didn't do something about this unwelcome visitor he was going to hide in my couch. Suddenly the thought of spending the evening cozied up on the couch didn't sound very appealing!
And so with determination, I gathered up all my courage -- and about 50 of the closest tissues -- and headed for the spider. I grabbed, and he swerved; I screamed and I swear he mocked me. And then, just seconds before he dove under my couch... I squished him! Victorious! I did it! I was pleased.
But as I disposed of the spider, along with the hoard of tissues used to kill him, I was surprised to find myself feeling sad. No one had been there to witness my victory. No one had been there to cheer me on and congratulate me on accomplishing something that I wouldn't normally dare to do. While it wasn't a life altering event by any means, it was important to me none-the-less, and I had no one to share it with at that moment.
I was then reminded of the movie, "Shall We Dance?," and the moving speech Susan Sarandon's character gives about marriage. I love the way she describes what a marriage is: "There's a billion people on the planet, I mean what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything...the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mondane things...all of it, all the time, every day. You're saying... 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will be your witness.'" What a beautiful description of the marriage relationship and the joys of having someone to share in the little and big things that happen to you!
With that reminder in my mind, I headed for the phone and called the one person I knew would be eager to share my victory. He is my witness, and he was -- as I knew he would be -- thrilled with my accomplishment. He rejoices with me in the little things, and together we are a witness to each other's lives. Whether it be spiders or sermons, dishes washed or graduations, I have a witness and I am a witness. I can think of nothing sweeter.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I learned something new on Saturday night – something unexpected and humbling. I stink. Yes, I stink.
On Saturday night I found myself sitting in the chapel at UGM (Union Gospel Mission). I was there to support and observe as my husband and a group of youth from our church led worship before the evening meal was served to the area’s homeless. I came prepared to bless and encourage the men and women who walked through the door, but was unprepared to BE the one who was ministered to.
As men and women filed in to the chapel I quickly became aware of their stench, and I struggled to cope with the aromas assailing my nostrils while smiling and being as “welcoming” as possible. The obvious presence of alcohol, smoke, body odor and other unidentifiable scents filled my head and overwhelmed me, but I plastered on my smile and did my “Christian duty” regardless… all the while thinking in my head "they stink!"
As the service began and the songs of praise and worship filled the chapel, I found a seat towards the back and surveyed the room. They were quiet, some listening, others reading a newspaper or staring blanking at the walls. Men and women, young and old, they had come not for God but for food. I was struck in that moment at how out of place I must have seemed to these people. Dressed comfortably in clothes that were clean, hair well-kept and face washed, I sat and sang with the worship band songs of God’s love and grace… and it hit me. They’re not the ones who stink. I am.
Would I have given these people a second glance if I’d passed them on the street? Was not my thoughts and disgust about their stench more odorous than their uncleanliness? And what about the “whys” of why we were there? Why were we there and even taking pictures of the event, if not to go back to the comfort of our own clean church and report on what we did for God?
It struck me in that moment just how distasteful and unclean my heart and attitude was at that moment in God’s eyes. These were HIS people; the people Jesus ate and communed with when He was on this earth. And I was – in that moment - just as lost and unclean and in need of a Saviour as they were. I was no better than them! If anything, my own stench was offending them AND God.
I spent the rest of our time there being the one who was ministered to. I took more time that night to shake hands with, talk with, and silently pray for these people whom God loved. And after I was overwhelmed by the beauty of their aroma to God, it was with a heavy heart and reality of my own stench that I went home more thankful for God’s love and grace -- a grace I clearly didn’t deserve -- than ever before.
Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. And that thou bidst me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come. Just as I am, poor, wretched and blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind. Yet all I need in Thee to find, O Lamb of God I come. I come. ~Charlotte Elliot, 1789-1871
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. It is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
~William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Saturday, June 30, 2007
It may seem like an odd question for a 4-year-old to ask if you don't know his family. You see, Caedon is the oldest of three (soon to be four) boys, and as you can imagine by brother and sister-in-law have their hands full. It's easy to understand then why my nephew would see the other boys as a rival for his daddy's affection given that my brother can't possibly devote all of his attention to just one of them. But what truly amazes me about the question he's asking is that it indicates that at four years of age he's already grappling with the inner need to be loved and affirmed! This isn't because my brother and sister-in-law don't show their affection enough or do their best to ensure that Caedon is made to feel secure, but rather his question is an expression of that insecurity we ALL struggle with in life. We all need to know that we matter to those we look up to. And fortunately for my nephew, there is no shortage of praise and affirmation from my brother when the question is posed.
But what if my brother and his wife stopped there? What if my brother and sister-in-law never took the time to introduce my nephew to the One who truly matters most? I truly believe that they would fail my nephew if they neglected to introduce him to the unconditional love of the Heavenly Father. While the love and acceptance of our parents is crucial not just in childhood but even as adults as we venture into the world, there is a love and acceptance that is even more life-changing and eternal. The love of God. You see, human love can fail. We can mess up and disappoint those around us, and even in some cases cause those who matter to turn their backs on us. But the love of God never fails. His acceptance of us is unconditional. What is left for us is to choose whether or not to accept it and the grace He so freely gives.
While I want my nephew to be affirmed and built up every time he asks his daddy “am I your favorite?”, what I want more is to know that my nephew is being pointed to the One who can offer him eternal security. I want to know that my nephew can look beyond the validation of his parents and peers, and find his worth in the One who created him. I want to know that someday soon he’ll be asking God, “am I your favorite?”, and finding the arms of the Father open wide for him as he finds peace in a love that truly will last forever.
I may not be rich. Don't wear fashion clothes. Don't live in a mansion. Don't have much that shows. Never won a contest in popularity. Don't have much to offer, but Jesus still loves me.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
My husband believes that it is this oddity about me that probably drew me to the now-ended show Gilmore Girls. While secretly I had to admit that I could relate alot to the characters of the show, and mainly with Lauren Graham's character "Lorelai Gilmore," there was one episode in the final season that 100% confirmed my husband's suspicisions. This scene had me crying with laughter and finally admitting that he was right. The episode was called "It's a Big Bad of Weird in There," and without further explanation of what goes on in my mind I leave you with the following lines from the scene to sum up:
Rory: Sounds like you're overthinking this. Maybe if you just put pen to paper --
Lorelai: I tried that. I thought, I'll just sit down and write whatever comes. No judgment, no inner critic -- boy, was that a bad idea.
Rory: Really? Why?
Rory: "Hockey puck rattlesnake monkey monkey underpants"?
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Personally, I get my love of movies -- especially older movies -- from my grandmother. As a child she introduced me to the wonders of actors and actresses such as Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Audrey Heppburn, and Cary Grant. Her love for film was contagious, and from her I have come to appreciate movies I would have never otherwise seen. Movies reflect the culture and attitudes of the day. Movies, like books, can take you to places you've never been and allow you to experience things you wouldn't normally experience. Movies find the kid in all of us. Movies can make us laugh, and even cry. But most of all, movies allow us to dream.
This past week Sherman I enjoyed watching AFI's 10th anniversary edition of the top "100 movies" of all time. We determined that we had watched just under 1/2 the movies on the list, and decided that it would be fun to spend the summer trying to watch the ones we hadn't see. Have you seen all 100 on this list?
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Godfather
4. Raging Bull
5. Singin' in the Rain
6. Gone with the Wind
7. Lawrence of Arabia
8. Schindler's List
10. The Wizard of Oz
11. City Lights
12. The Searchers
13. Star Wars
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey
16. Sunset Blvd.
17. The Graduate
18. The General
19. On the Waterfront
20. It's a Wonderful Life
22. Some Like It Hot
23. The Grapes of Wrath
24. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
25. To Kill a Mockingbird
26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
27. High Noon
28. All About Eve
29. Double Indemnity
30. Apocalypse Now
31. The Maltese Falcon
32. The Godfather, Part II
33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
35. Annie Hall
36. The Bridge on the River Kwai
37. The Best Years of Our Lives
38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
39. Dr. Strangelove
40. The Sound of Music
41. King Kong
42. Bonnie and Clyde
43. Midnight Cowboy
44. The Philadelphia Story
46. It Happened One Night
47. A Streetcar Named Desire
48. Rear Window
50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
51. West Side Story
52. Taxi Driver
53. The Deer Hunter
55. North by Northwest
58. The Gold Rush
60. Duck Soup
61. Sullivan's Travels
62. American Graffiti
65. The African Queen
66. Raiders of the Lost Ark
67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woof?
70. A Clockwork Orange
71. Saving Private Ryan
72. The Shawshank Redemption
73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
74. The Silence of the Lambs
75. In the Heat of the Night
76. Forrest Gump
77. All the President's Men
78. Modern Times
79. The Wild Bunch
80. The Apartment
84. Easy Rider
85. A Night at the Opera
87. 12 Angry Men
88. Bringing Up Baby
89. The Sixth Sense
90. Swing Time
91. Sophie's Choice
93. The French Connection
94. Pulp Fiction
95. The Last Picture Show
96. Do the Right Thing
97. Blade Runner
98. Yankee Doodle Dandy
99. Toy Story
Friday, June 22, 2007
Ever heard of Paul Potts? Chances are if you have been watching the news or entertainment headlines you have. But I was introduced to him today thanks to a colleague who told me his inspiring story. Intrigued by the story, I went home after work and quickly logged on to YouTube to see what all the fuss was about. I get it now.
Born in 1971 in the South Wales, Paul struggled with self confidence early on thanks to the bullying he endured from other kids at school. According to interviews he's done recently, he found singing as a way to escape the bullying and slowly began to love opera. In 1999 he entered a music contest and, although he did not win, he did place and took home some money which paid for singing lessons in Italy. But his dreams of an operatic career were shattered in 2003 when an accident left him bed ridden for two years. He was told he's never sing again.
In 2003 while on the road to recovery he met and married his wife Julie and started working as a mobile phone salesman. Struggling with his self confidence and yet still dreaming about singing, he told his coworkers about his love for singing opera. They encouraged him to audition for "Britain's Got Talent." And that's when the world was introduced to Paul Potts:
He may not look like he has much to offer, and even he admits that he's still working on rebuilding the confidence that was stripped away from him by the bullies of his youth. But with the support of his friends and wife who pushed him to follow his dreams, Paul Potts is a testimony to all of us. Don't judge a book by it's cover, and don't let adversity keep you from being who you were born to be.
P.S. For those unfamiliar with Paul Potts, as I was, he went on to win "Britain's Got Talent" and has signed a recording deal. Watch for this 36-year-old diamond in the rough... we'll be seeing a lot more of him!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Apparently I've been "tagged." I didn't realize it until I logged on, by chance, to Meghan's blog, but none-the-less "I'm it"! The rules are as follows:
1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
4. You may need to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
So here it goes:
1. I am a neat-freak, especially when it comes to my house. Everything has its place, I clean constantly and find joy in cleaning and seeing the house spotless.
2. I was a horrible child. Between the ages of 6 and 9 I gave my parents a serious run for their money. They actually wondered at some point if I was demon-spawned! ;-) Through those years I cheated, stole, lied, abused, bullied, etc. and even got a boy in my 3rd grade class expelled for something I claimed he did (but he didn't do).
3. I love public speaking but am horribly shy and avoid crowds. Given the opportunity to address a crowd on a topic I am passionately about, I enjoy the challenge of crafting and delivering a message. And yet, I avoid crowds, hate being the center of attention and do everything possible to blend in and not be noticed on a day-to-day basis. Strange, I know.
4. I dream of opening a bed & breakfast/inn somewhere beautiful and welcoming people from all parts of the world.
5. If given the opportunity to quit my job and be a stay-at-home wife (and someday mother), I would quit without a moment's thought. I love being home, caring for my hubby, and supporting my hubby in his ministry.
6. I have a spicy "chocolate chilly pepper marriage!" We are both strong, stubborn, independent people, which makes our marriage spicy; but we are committed, totally in love and passionate about our marriage which coats it in chocolate!
7. I never thought I'd be a pastor's wife, let along serving in a Chinese Church! I certainly don't feel like a pastor's wife...
8. I have eaten guinea pig, climbed an active volcano, straddled the northern and southern hemisphere at the same time, lived through military coups, earthquakes and mudslides and felt the sting of tear gas. Such is the life of a missionary kid! Whoo hoo!
I tag Jenny, Drew, Jim, Andrea, David, and Salla. That's it.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
So it is with the Christian life. Our walk with God can have days like this too -- days when the battle is fierce, the temptations are everywhere, demands are coming from all sides, and time feels short. And just like our "worldly" days, for lack of a better word, we need days in our Christian walk to rest, be quiet, reflect and rejuvenate. The Bible calls it "being still," being quiet before the Almighty and recognizing that He is God. Time to rest in His love, drink in His promises, focus on the strength of His faithfulness and just be still.
So take a "still day" or hour, and come into the presence of the lover of your soul. Drink in His love, draw on His strength and find rest for your weary heart. In doing so, you'll find a way to cope with the spiritual battles that come your way, but also a way to cope with the day-to-day chaos all around you.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28)
"Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10)
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting on a small bed, in a strange room, looking at the iron bars on the window that made the room feel more like a prison, and sobbing over and over “I want to go home!” It was our first night in Ecuador, and I was homesick for Canada and terrified.
Fast forward 10 years later to May 29, 1991 –- my highschool graduation day. Standing in a long line in what had become known as the “wailing wall,” with my classmates on either side of me. Friends, family, teachers and other students hugging me, wishing me well, and crying. As tears streamed down my face, I sobbed over and over “I want to stay! I want to stay!”
Such is the emotional roller coaster of the MK life. Constantly being confronted by new and scary experiences. Always being forced to make new friends, while wondering how long they will be in your life for. Experiencing heart break as friends, who have become like family, come and go. It is a wonderful, exciting, challenging, and bitter-sweet life. And I wouldn’t trade my experience on the mission field for anything.
I was eight years of age when we set foot for the first time in Quito, Ecuador. Old enough to be angry with my parents for tearing me away from my school, my friends and my beloved grand-parents. Old enough to understand how hard it is to make new friends. And, old enough to make sure my parents knew just how angry I was at them. As someone once put it, missionaries are called to the mission field… but missionary kids are drafted.
While I’m not proud to say that I spent our first few years on the field ensuring that my parents “paid” for what they had done to me, I am pleased to say that I got through that rough patch and eventually came to the place where, 10 yeas later, I was literally begging to stay. I attribute that change in heart in part to the amazing teachers at the school my brothers and I attended. Missionaries themselves, their soul purpose on the mission field was to come alongside the MKs to educate, affirm and befriend us in the unique setting we found ourselves in. Today, more than 15 years later, I am still in contact with many of them and honoured to count them as trusted friends.
I also owe my change in heart to my grandparents and the many men, women and churches in North America that supported my parents both financially and through prayer. The prayers they said for me –- especially in those first few years when I gave my parents a hard time –- were crucial, as were their letters, care packages, and extra attention when we returned on furlough. Nothing is more important to a missionary family than constant contact with “home!”
But most importantly, I must acknowledge the tremendous impact of my parents, who though called to a demanding, full-time ministry as missionaries, never once made me feel like I was second fiddle. They did all they could to help me adjust to our new life, provided as normal a life as possible, and made it very clear that their family came first – even if it meant leaving it all to return to North America. I’ve seen first-hand the devastation that can explode in a missionary family when the parents put too high a priority on the work they have been called to and not enough emphasis on the family God has blessed them with. I’m a so grateful that my parents understood this delicate balance.While I would not have been able to say this at eight years of age, at 34 I can confidently say that my experience as a missionary kid is the best thing that every could have happened to me. I remember with fondness earthquakes and mud slides, climbing volcanoes, eating bugs, military coups, and jungle adventures. I feel honoured to have been part of a close-knit missionary community, to see the hand of God move in miraculous ways, and to hear voices praising God in a variety languages. I am an MK, and I’m proud of it!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
The call was unexpected. "I'm sorry," John said, "but we won't be able to make it for dinner tonight... Julie's bleeding." The words hung heavy in the air as I absorbed their meaning. Miscarriage. Their third. It was one of those moments when God truly didn’t make sense.
Everyone faces something in their life that makes them ask why. "Why would God allow suffering?" "Why would God let this happen?" "Why do bad things happen to good people?" "Why?" It's hard to understand why a loving God would allow His people to suffer in inexpressible ways. Why when He chooses to bless, does He sometimes choose to take away.
But God doesn’t expect us to know the answer to our question of why. He asks us however to trust Him, even when His plan doesn’t make sense to us. It is through trial that our faith in Him is tested and made stronger. It is through our pain that we see Him in a new and powerful way. We see a God who cares, a God who strengthens, a God whose promises are true, and a God who knows more than we do. We only see a tiny part of the plan, but God sees the whole picture. And because we can’t see what He sees, we must trust Him.
Dr. James C. Dobson in his book When God Doesn’t Make Sense, uses Abraham as an illustration of a time when God didn’t make sense. Abraham and Sarah were infertile, but God had promised Abraham that his descendants would be more than the stars in the sky. So Abraham trusted God, and God proved true by giving them a son even in their old age. Then, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham again trusted Him and followed God’s instruction. Even when all the facts before him proved that there was no way, God simply asked Abraham to not waver in His unbelief. To put his trust in His promise.
When everything in life is shaken, and makes no sense to us, God wants us to hold onto Him – to hold unto the promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. To hold onto the promise that He knows the plans He has for us – plans not to harm us but to give us hope (Jeremiah 29). He asks us simply that we do not let go – even when it hurts and doesn’t make sense.
This may not make the pain go away, nor will it give us the answers we seek in the moment of crisis, but He does promise to see us through, to give us strength, and to comfort us with His peace. Isaiah 43 says that “when [we] pass through the waters, [He] will be with [us]; and when [we] pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over [us]. When [we] walk through the fire, [we] will not be burned; the flames will not set [us] ablaze. For [He] is the Lord, [our] God, the Holy One of Israel, [our] Saviour… since [we] are precious and honoured in [His] sight, and because [He] loves [us]… [we need] not be afraid for He is with [us]…. He is making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
This unwavering faith in God is best illustrated in the life or Horatio G. Spafford, author of the well-known hymn “It is Well With My Soul.” He wrote the words to this hymn following two major crises in his own life –- financial bankruptcy and the loss of his four daughters in a tragic accident. After enduring such horrific losses, Spafford surely had reason to question God. But instead he clung to the promise that God was there -- even when life didn’t make sense -- and penned the following words:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
"Dear Jesus," he said passionately, "how I love you!"
While what followed next was in all honesty gibberish (there were several comments about a space-ship, his momma, his brother and other things we couldn't quite figure out), it was the way he chose to open his prayer that intrigued me. It amazed me that in one small opening statement, my three year old nephew grasped the simple truth that so many adults fail to understand. The truth that all that matters in life is loving the One who created us.
Several years ago during a conversation with some friends, the question of knowing God’s will came up. In response, a friend said that he believed the answer was summed up in the greatest commandment - "to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul." (Matthew 22:37) Going on he explained that if you truly love God with all that you have, everything else would fall into place.
I have thought about that conversation a lot through the years, and was again reminded of it upon hearing my nephew’s heart-felt prayer. Loving God doesn't suddenly mean you’ll have all the answers to life. Nor does it mean that the journey will be easy. Instead, loving or delighting (Psalm 37:4) ourselves in the Lord means focusing so much on Him that we see nothing else. Loving the Lord with all our hearts, minds and souls means finding pure joy and peace in His presence. And as we do this our plans and desires for our life gradually align with His own. What He wants for us becomes what we want.
My three-year-old nephew may not yet fully understand what loving God with all his heart, mind and soul means, but his simple “how I love you” prayer is 100% on the mark. Loving God fully, completely, and passionately with eyes tightly shut as we hang on for the ride of our lives means that all our needs – including the food we so often forget to thank Him for – will be met. He alone should be our desire, our delight and our love. All we need is an all consuming love for Him, and everything else will fall into place.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:34-40)