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Archive for May, 2013

A few weeks back I wrote in the post Memorizing by Heart, about challenging myself to memorize Psalm 139.

I had no idea how fantastic this self-challenge would be. The more verses I memorized by heart, the more burned into my soul was the richness and depth of the message of them.

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I knew this recently as I stood among the beauty of creation, feeling a lacking in hope in an area of my day. Standing there, beneath the tall trees, hearing the birds chirp and the squirrels chatter, the message of that Psalm started to flow from my lips, as though an ‘on’ switch was pushed automatically.

“You have searched me Lord, and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.”

How comforting those words, which reminded me how intimately the Creator of these tall trees and carefree creatures knows me.

“You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.”

As those words came to my lips I sensed the communication that He is not just with me, but His presence is like a protective, fatherly embrace.

“If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”

Even when I feel that I am surrounded by doubt, by discouragement, by darkness, He is the light that I can see in the shadows.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

He has been with me since before Creation, He knows what tomorrow, and every tomorrow after it, holds for me.

” when I awake, I am still with you.”

When the bad dreams, the nightmares of this present day, this season of life that you and I might be going through, and we awake … we will see that He is still with us. He never left our side.

But, before the nightmares end, the words hidden in our hearts can remind us of the promise of His presence … even when our eyes are too consumed by the dark.

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So the speaking engagement is done, I had memorized eighteen of twenty-four verses of Psalm 139, and not one rotten tomato was thrown … I would say it was a success.

After it was over, it was …

SO,

SO,

SO

good to get home on Saturday and have the time to write again! I thought I would go crazy for the past two weeks when I simply utilized guest posts and re-posts for this blog.

As I was preparing last week, I happened to hear someone on the radio talk about character, and who we really are … when no one is looking or listening.

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In the midst of my preparations the one thing that kept coming back to me was not how well I prepared for that speaking engagement. What matters is how I live when no one is looking. God will speak through my brokenness but how well do I speak through it?

I found it hard to pay attention to the trivia of my preparations, because I was pretty certain that whatever God wanted to be communicated would come through my lips no matter what I did to prepare. But how do I speak through my brokenness? What do I communicate, how do I live when there are no eyes on me?

When there are no eyes on me, except those of my Creator, that is who I really am … from the inside out.

Oh, my daughter went to the store and picked up a great dress for me to wear as I spoke, and she loaned me her denim jacket too. I had showered, done my hair, and make-up. I had prepared fully for what I wanted to say, and had my props. I had even asked my the special people in my life to pray.

But, at the end of the day, God already had all of the details covered.

More than that, He knew the status of my heart … the one place of preparation that mattered the most.

The event was good, and I felt personally good about my part, but what was best about it all was this message that kept me in check … that it is who I am, and what I do, when nobody is looking that is of more value to God than what I say and do in front of a crowd.

“Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139:23-24

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It had been a beautiful day!

After spending the Saturday morning preparing, and an afternoon at a speaking engagement, I was heading East to meet up with my my gang at a family camp weekend for our church. family.

It had been a glorious day with unseasonably hot temperatures, and not a cloud in the skies.

I was enjoying the solitary drive, the freedom to choose my own radio station, and the beauty all around me

I had just picked up my favorite tea, a London Fog, and returned to the smooth highway driving, where there was a ‘wrong’ noise coming from outside my hubby’s car that I was driving.

I shuddered, knowing what it could be, turning the radio off in the hopes that it was bad reception.

The noise remained 😦

I pulled over to the side of the road, whispering a prayer of pleading that the noise not be what I knew it was …

a flat tire …

a flat as a pancake tire …

a flat as a pancake tire, and hubby was out of cell phone reception.

So, I did what any mature woman would do …

I climbed back into my driver’s seat and repeated multiple times,

What do I do?

Over and over and over again.

Then I took a big girl breath and said to myself, this is not rocket science, take care of this problem.

After all I had watched a tire being changed once!

So to the trunk I went to locate the spare, and the tire changing paraphernalia.

I was dismayed that there was no ‘Dummies’ book to guide me through this procedure, especially since the sun was about to settle beyond those western mountains.

After fully opening the jack, I realized that I needed to place it under the car frame before extending it … so, I returned it to it’s original size, and searched out a place to … place it. Well, that was torture, and the bright yellow arrow that I was certain should be under the vehicle was nowhere in sight!

Finally I placed it, using process of elimination.

The sun was really sinking quickly now!

I cranked the jack, all the while praying over and over and over again, that God would send someone to help me!

After raising the vehicle, I felt great success, but continued my prayer for help.

I happened to look to the west, to note the whereabouts of Mr. Golden Sun, and there was a vehicle turning off of the highway, and heading towards me.

Mixed thoughts crossed my mind as this knight was getting closer …

“I am going to die”

“Seriously God? This is how you answer my prayer for help.”

You see the knight that God had sent me was covered in black leather, and driving a Harley!

harley-davidson

He barely spoke a word, and went right to work, saying that he would explain everything he was doing so that I could do it myself if need be in the future. He was a fantastic teacher! He explained every part and tool, and every step he was taking. He seemed to be a kind and gentle man, and I was pushing my fear of being murdered on the highway out of my mind.

I decided to make small talk, and asked where he lived … a simple question, right?

Then, very matter-of-fact,

he told me his wife of thirty years had told him that morning that they were done

that she had met someone else on the internet

that she did not love him anymore

that he still loved her

that he had been biking all day trying to clear his head.

I asked if it had worked … clearing his head.

He said, “not at all, I still love her.”

He finished changing my tire. He put all the tools and my flat away.

I told him I wanted to give him something to thank him for his generous assistance.

He said, “if it’s okay with you, I really could just use a hug.”

So I paid my biker hero in the currency we all need more, a hug.

Throughout our meeting I wanted to pray for him, and each time it felt as though my lips were glued shut, as though that was not what he needed to hear.

My prayer for this kind-hearted stranger:

That God would guide him home.
That he would not give up on his marriage.
That he would pursue his wife, perhaps as he has not done for years.
That his wife would give him another chance.
That his two young adult sons would be protected through this season.
That he would realize that just as he came to my rescue,
I am praying for his rescue.

 

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“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God”
2 Corinthians 5:5

I do not remember when I first heard this story, it is as though it has been in my consciousness always.

As a Christian I understand the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). But I have never felt called or led to ‘go’ beyond the communities that God has placed me in, so my understanding of missions to other nations is primitive.

I do not know what it is like to be called to be a missionary, but the story of the five missionary women … the five widows of slain missionary husbands, is one of great faith.

l_611aa810-7ca8-11e1-b8f8-f5714ed00001It is a true story, a missionary story, a story of faith.

It is also a story whose ending is not the tragedy, but the story after the tragic loss of the lives of the five men.

Below you will find a movie trailer for this story, and the full movie is available on YouTube.

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So, are you an innie or an outie? Such a private question for such a public forum! I mean really, could I get much more up close and personal? Next thing you know I will ask if you are a conservative or liberal!

This question came to me as I was out walking near my neighborhood (instead of my favorite trail) this evening. I was walking along, minding my own business, and thought to myself … I am going to change my Facebook status when I get home to “I just went to my most favorite church … a walk with my beast, and my Creator.” Then I thought to myself …”now that’s a good way to get excommunicated.”

But, reality is … it is my favorite church! There are NO DISTRACTIONS for my undiagnosed ADD to be preoccupied with. The air always smells delightful (except with my beasty has been stealing beef jerky again). The view is perfect … and changes slightly every day. The songs are always fresh and new, yet timeless … birds do have a way with tunes. And (gulp) … there are no people to distract me from the one I want to worship …

Which beings me to my original question … are you an innie or an outie? Well (confession time), I am an innie … but I’m not (just) talking about my belly button. I’m talking about my personality. I am an introvert, who lives her life as an extrovert (I feel so much better admitting that … how about we scrap the blog, and eat chocolate?).

Please understand, I do like people … honest! But being with people for many hours, drains my battery … drains my energy. I need a chance to be without people to recharge, and then I can be social again. But, out society is pretty intolerant of the introverts need for ‘alone time’. In schools we encourage ‘group work’ and ‘group projects’. In churches we encourage ‘fellowship’ and ‘small groups’ and family retreats. In universities we encourage double or multi-person dorm rooms. For the shy person, our society tries to ‘bring them out’, for the autistic child we restrict them from time alone.

For me, so much of my everyday experience is had as an extrovert. The success of my job, working as a Special Ed. Assistant (which I love), is dependent on my being very much with people, social and … extrovert. My hubby’s job, as a pastor, means that being with people, socializing and being … extrovert, is part of my ‘job’ in supporting him.

Once my professional and church socializing are over, I really struggle to have the social-energy to have close, intimate friendships. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the people I work with, and consider many to be friends. And there are many people at church who I love and care for deeply,and our relationships are not church focused, but heart focused. But, after spending many hours each week with people I ‘have’ to spend time with, to have the energy to develop friendships beyond the already socially demanding life we live, is a real struggle for me.

After a week of work, followed by a Sunday (and often part of Saturday) of church, my batteries are usually dead in the water. And I MUST get out … alone (and my sweet and thoughtful family, who know that if it is good for momma to get out, alone, it is even better for them that I do … smart family I must say).

But I am a bit of a weirdo in how I get alone time. I have two favorite ways to recharge (aka escape reality, or be alone). One is that I go to a movie. I know it makes no sense! I go to a crowded theater to be alone? But it works for me! I drive there, alone. I get my p-corn (with real butter) and eat it, alone. I sit in the midst of many people, alone. And, when the lights dim, I am alone … and transported far away from reality!

My second ‘escape’ from people is to go for a walk … alone (well, not totally alone, the beast always accompanies me … but 🙂 she never expects me to talk to her). In my seeking alone time, I never walk in areas that are unpopulated. I walk in places and at times when I know there will be others there (for safety and for sanity).

You see I am a conundrum! I really don’t know if I want to be with people, or away from people. So, am I an introvert, in extrovert clothing? Or vise versa?

Maybe, humanly speaking, I am an introvert, in the sense that I need to be alone (or more specifically, non verbal) to recharge and re-energize my soul. But, I do love people, and desire to be part of people’s lives, walking through life with others. And maybe, I am not alone in this. And maybe, forcing group-related interactions is not beneficial to all parts of a community (be it a school, church, club, workplace, etc.).

Maybe, some of us are better members of our community, of our society, if we are freed to be who we were created to be … thinkers, problem-solvers, philosophers, writers, artists … or conversely, politicians, salespeople, party-throwers, talk show hosts, preachers, teachers …

If we were all the same, our planet earth might still be flat, and so might our society be … just sayin’ 😉

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It wasn’t my fault … really!

Like a good girl (can I still call myself a girl, while hiding gray hairs under regular highlighting treatments?), I packed a poo bag into my hoody pocket, before heading out on a walk on the trail with my beast. But, something so unexpected, so terrible happened …

The day started out so perfectly! The sun was shining (a miracle really, as the monsoons and cooler April weather, had gone on for over a week straight), there was fresh snow on the mountains (cooler weather and monsoons down here equal fresh snow up there), it was cool (but not so cool that I needed my toque), the beast was excited (she’s a dog, she’s always excited to walk … well, except during the monsoons … we are kindred spirits!), and I was ready for a brisk exercise (so I could burn calories, and, therefore, eat more later).

And off we went. I walked the regular distance in record time! (probably had something to do with the fact that my beast, literally, pulls me up the hills … I love her!)

Then, about three quarters of the walk done, she starts pulling to the side (where the grass was). So, I loosen the leash so as to allow her the freedom to find her perfect ‘port-a-potty’ site.

She squats.

I put my hand in my pocket to retrieve ‘poo bag’.

I frowned.

I put my hand, further into my pocket (there was no ‘further’).

Nothing.

Panic set in.

Dog is still squatting.

I hear voices, in the distance, coming closer.

I break into a cold sweat.

What will I do … with the poo?!

I yank the leash attached to squatting beast.

No poo on the ground.

I sigh, relief!

We walk for almost twenty minutes more. The beast in distress with each step (remember she had been in squatting position, so, she is now spending 20mins. ‘turtling’ … you know how a turtle’s head moves in and out … enough said).

We reach the van. I grab another poo bag out of the glove compartment (I think of it more as a catch all compartment). I take beast to fresh, green, lush grass.

Beast sniffs grass.

Beast looks up at me.

I say, “poo beast”.

Beast looks up at me.

Beast sits on fresh, green, lush grass.

Crises averted!

20 Hours Later …

Beast finally poos, in our backyard …

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I am a bit … anal (catch the pun?) when it comes to what comes out of a dog. But I am okay with that, because … I am right!

There is nothing that can get my knickers in a knot like poo on the path! I always feel as though my eyes (and nasal passages) have been violated when I see that! Seriously, how hard is it to bend your body down and scoop up that warm, stinky, bacteria-breeding matter, then dispose of it in the nearest garbage can? Heck, if you forget your ‘poo baggie’ you can at least take a stick and move it out of sight. Oh, my aching nasal passages!

So, tonight (when the sun FINALLY decided to show it’s face in my life, while hubby sends me daily emails, with statements from a Southern Eden that say “Oh, it’s a bit chilly today, only 80 degrees” … let me tell you, he can take his 80 degrees and … lets just say, another pun) I took the beast for a walk (and wished I had brought mittens, and a toque).

We had a great walk. The weather was dry, mostly (when it started to rain, I started my ‘I hate rain dance’, and, for a change, it worked! The weather gods probably didn’t want me dancing in public anymore … it was probably quite a site … kind of a mix of something tribal, and a two-year old having a hissy fit). The beast was thrilled to be relieved of her cabin fever (cabin fever definition for my beast – any movement, by any of her ‘persons’ in the household ‘could’ mean she gets to GO, and so she will leap from wherever she is when she hears any movement beyond breathing). I was thrilled to be relieved of my cabin fever (cabin fever definition for me – sighs, whenever I hear or see rain, followed by frantic searching of real estate ANYWHERE else … Winnipeg has not be omitted! Can you sense my desperation?).

By the time we were in the home stretch (aka, the point of the walk that I start thinking about all the calories I just burned, and how that means I can now give myself a ‘treat’ … solid thinking!), I was feeling like a million bucks, and was starting to have ‘west coast’ thinking (aka. it rains for two weeks straight, then the sun comes out, and so do the west coasters, who all say the same things; “why isn’t this the best place to live?”, “It is so great to live here.” and “I love where I live.” … but where do their memories of the previous two weeks go? … and don’t tell me it’s optimism, it’s downright delusion!).

Then my beast did what she NEVER does … she pooed … on the gravely trail! My beast only poos on green … my fashionista daughter thinks it’s because her poos are yellowish and the green of the grass bring out the lighter, brighter hues … Oh crap (another pun), please don’t tell me you were falling for that!

Truly, she really never poos on anything that isn’t green. Why, last summer we has a dry spell (some time I need to tell you about the insanity of limiting water use … here!), and I thought our beast might be contemplating bulimia to avoid having to poo on brown grass. Heck, the kids are so infrequent at doing the ‘poo pick-up’, our grass is always brown anyway! But, I digress.

So, she poo is on the the gravely trail. After my shock at her irregular (ha! ha! another pun) behavior subsides, I reach into my pocket for a baggie (praying the whole time that it didn’t fall out), and there it is, phew! At least I didn’t have to stand there looking around, wondering if anyone was looking at us, so I could skulk off, poo still on the path, because I didn’t have a baggie.

I go to ‘scoop the poop, in one fell swoop’, but, I am inexperienced in scooping poop from a gravely pathway, so one fell swoop just isn’t going to do it! I go in for the second swoop, but, again due to my inexperience, I apply too much downward pressure (this could be a pun ..), and my baggie (made out of the thinnest plastic available), shreds against the gravely pathway.

I am now so feeling the pressure (more puns) to get this mess wiped (pun) off the seat (pun) of my existence. I look at the shredded side of the baggie, I look at the remaining pooh still on the gravely path, I look at the beast, and give her a look that communicates ‘this is your fault’, and she looks at me and communicates ‘GO?’ (another, but much more unintentional, pun).

So, I reposition the poo in the baggie (don’t think for too long, of how I might have done that), so as to create the best possibility of one last (complete) successful swoop, avoiding any … skid marks … on my hand. But there’s just so many little pieces of poo strewn throughout the gravel! I am perplexed.

I swoop quickly, so quickly that the little pieces of poo, along with the gravitational (downward) pull, fly through the air, creating a much larger area strewn with the stinky stuff. I am left with a decision to make; do I even try to ‘finish the job’?

But, I have standards, and poo-lluting the pathway cannot go unwiped!

I bend, I swoop, and … it’s a clean sweep! I’ve bagged the poo! So, I tie the baggie up, and toss it into a nearby garbage can (when does that ever happen … usually I carry the full baggie so long, I forget about it until I start to toss it in the garbage in the van … imagine the sweet smell of success that could produce?).

This post, although greatly enhanced, is true, and I dedicate it to my 11-year old son, for whom there is no humor like potty humor! (and for whom, there is no greener color you turn, than when you are picking up poo).

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