Archive for February, 2014

Move that Bus!


You know that show, the one where a needy family gets a vacation. While they are having a fun family time away, good ol’ designers, builders and neighbors transform their house into a show home. Then, when they return there is an enormous bus parked between them (and their waiting) and a brand-spanking new home (and a fresh start).

Well, I recently got to experience something similar to the long-awaited call to “move that bus.”

Ever been in a pit?

Ever felt like you cannot even remember if you jumped in, or if you were pushed there?

Ever looked at where you are and wondered aloud, “how did I get in this mess?”

Haven’t we all been in that place!? In that head space? In that season?

As I sat in an auditorium …

As I sat in an auditorium ignoring why I thought I was there …

As I sat in an auditorium distracted immensely, intensely by what wasn’t supposed to matter …

I remembered why.

Just the night before I had audibly said, prayed, uttered the question,


I had no anticipation of a response. Not that night. Not the day to come. Not ever.

It seemed that why was something I said, not asked. It was like an exhale, a natural response to taking in … just something I said, something I did … every day.

My why was yet another cry to “move that bus.”

Are you with me?

Have you been there?

Haven’t we all been there?

And then, as though the details of time and place and people were orchestrated by the hand of God. As though the waiting really was part of the process of leading me to this point. I didn’t care about why, because the film was removed from my eyes and I was reminded of my passion.

I was reminded that I had a passion, a purpose.

I was reminded that God did not create me to survive, but to thrive.

I was reminded that God, the giver of good gifts, gives out of abundance, so that we might use those gifts to glorify Him.

And, without uttering a word,

He moved the bus.

these things I plan won’t happen right away.
Slowly, steadily, surely,
the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow, do not despair,
for these things will surely come to pass.
Just be patient!
They will not be overdue a single day!”

Habakkuk 2:3-4

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I LOVE snow!

My greatest memories of childhood, on the East Coast of Canada, include cold winter days, with snow just to the bottom of the street stop signs, and the sun shining brightly.

1899444_10152239354045789_1011036403_oIt is a rare thing to have such a day on the West Coast, so when they come, one needs to fully appreciate every second that they exist.

There is no putting off until tomorrow that tobogganing, making snow angels, having a snowball fight, making candy in the snow or simply walking in a winter wonderland. It has to be done in the moment.

Awakening earlier this week to this beautiful vision of wonder I knew that I had to live in the moment, and take pictures so that I would have a record, a memory, that I got to enjoy such beauty, in this place.

You see I knew a reality that I never experienced in my bright and sunny East Coast winter paradise … it would start melting as soon as the sun was high in the brilliant blue sky, and this magical vision of beauty would be gone.


I felt a bit like Cinderella, running from front to the back of our house, phone in hand, snapping pictures, as the seconds on the clock ticked ever closer to twelve.

Although the significant snowfall did not score a snow day of no school, it re-energized and revived my soul as not much else could, and I was content to bundle up and head to a day of work with the rays of sun shining through every window, enriching my natural Vitamin D deficient body and mind.

Of course, there is still snow in the forecast next week, so there is yet another opportunity for that oft dreamed of, prayed for, and anticipated call of “school is canceled” … just sayin’.


Did I mention that another of my fondest childhood memories was hoping for snow to be canceled because of snow?  😉

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Today is Anti-Bullying or Pink Shirt Day.3191069_f520

According to an article by Sherri Gordon, there are “9 Consequences of Name-Calling” (http://bullying.about.com/od/Effects/a/9-Consequences-Of-Name-calling.htm):

  • Erodes a victim’s sense of self
  • Causes kids to compromise beliefs and values
  • Affects sense of well being
  • Impacts a person’s identity
  • Opens the door to violence
  • Encourages internal criticism
  • Impacts mood
  • Affects mental health
  • Affects physical health

It is said that it takes anywhere from 2:1-6:1 positive messages to make up for one negative. Studies have shown that our human brains respond differently to negative messages than to positive ones, and some have even referred to how our brains receive negative messages as being like velcro, and that is why they stick, and re-play in our minds over and over.

As I read through those 9 consequences, I was struck by the first … Erodes a victim’s sense of self … and how that one consequence really impacts, or even creates the following eight. The words that others say about us, can change how we see ourselves, therefore impact the confidence (or lack of) that we communicate to others, therefore how we act in our relationships, our jobs, our future, therefore it impacts the direction our lives takes, therefore impacting our physical and mental health.

24c820409837ce84010841897dc8aeecBut God calls us by the names of a Creator, a heavenly Father, and the names He has given to us are the names that affect our well being in a very different direction. He, our Redeemer, claims possession over us as His finest creation, His pièce de résistance, His child, the one who He loves.

Like Steve Jobs with Apple, like Bill Gates with Microsoft, like Sam Walton with Walmart, like Dave Thomas with Wendy’s, like Henry Ford and Ford Motor Company …

God puts every effort into loving and protecting His creation … you and I!

He has named us His …

… and the names that He calls each of us are imprinted into our very souls, with the power to change how we see ourselves and therefore therefore it impacts the direction our lives takes, therefore impacting our physical and mental health, and even our eternal life.

The sticks and stones don’t break our bones…

The sticks held our Redeemer until His final breath, and the stones were hurled at Him …

So that we might be called children of God (Galatians 3:26).

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That song, that over a hundred year old song, never reaches my ears without touching a soft place in my heart.

“For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me”

As I looked onto my back deck, after hearing a thud on the window, the bird I saw brought those words to mind.

As I slipped my feet into the shoes at my door, I was pretty sure that the bird was only stunned, as it was up on it’s feet.

Then I slipped them off … I couldn’t have such an opportunity to get close to a wild creature and not take a photo of it!

Phone in hand, shoes on feet, wonder in heart, I approached the still creature with caution so as to not startle it.

It moved not a bit, even as I touched it’s feathered head and back, tiny loose feathers falling. It’s feathers were soft as silk, it’s eyes big, bright. It stayed still.

Was it wishing me away? Was it in pain? Was it scared?

“Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”

The bird hit the window. Was it off course? Did it not see clearly? Whatever the case, it simply rested there, after the crash. Motionless, resting, recuperating. Kind of like “being led beside still waters” (Psalm 23:2). Kind of like “when songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies, I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free.”



Hope dying.

It’s not just for the birds! We all have times, days, seasons

when we hit the window. the wall.

We all have times when all hope seems gone, and just standing still is simply the only thing we can do.

And, it is when we are motionless, when we are still that we are attended by the One who watches us, who makes us free.

“I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.”

“Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t worry! You are more valuable to him than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29-31

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Helping others can often result in others helping us.

The gift of being a giver is often that the giver becomes a receiver.

Such was the case for Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche (The Ark).

Son of a Governor General of Canada, Vanier had the freedom and resources to choose whatever life he desired. His career began in the Royal Canadian Navy, followed by the pursuit and achievement of a Doctorate in Philosophy, followed by teaching at the University of Toronto. Then came a visit to a friend, a priest, who worked with people with disabilities.

It was that visit that led to Jean’s undeniable request from Jesus to take a man or two to live with him … men from an institution, who suffered mental and physical handicaps. They lived, daily living, together.

Jean thought that HE was doing for them, yet, the giver became the receiver.

For more information on L’Arche, check out www.jean-vanier.org

Today, Jean Vanier, in his own words, speaks about “Seeing God in Others.”

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best-of-week-logoThe Idealism of Youth was the most viewed post of this past week. Check it out, and here are the rest:

(bearing the image, being the mirror … beyond the bathroom mirror)

Just a Little
(our focus depends on which horizon we are turned to)

Weak Tea
(where does your strength come from?)

Say Something
(the power of words … spoken and not)

Blessings to you this day,

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As we drove down the street I asked my daughter a question.


I asked again.


I touched her arm.

she just about leapt from her skin!

Ah, the power of good headphones!

Apparently she was listening to songs, trying to locate one for an English class assignment. As we discussed the assignment, I discovered that she was looking for a song that was full of emotion.

“Try this one,” I told her, “it is full of emotion.”

The song was one that I had kept opened on my laptop for days, plugging my (inferior) headphones and allowing it to play while I wrote, surfed and networked. Despite not hearing the lyrics, the story, it was a song that drew me in the first time I had heard it.

As I later sat, fingers to the keyboard, I plugged in again to hear fingers on keys. I realized a profound, but simple reminder in it’s repeated words …

say something,
I’m giving up on you

I’ll be the one,
if you want me to

I would have followed you

say something

It is as though the darkened words are the words said out loud, with lips and tongue,

and the italicized ones are the ones said with heart and soul.

I am one who, generally, believes in the economy of words … spoken words. I love to listen, but I especially love to listen to the heart of the speaker rather than just chatterbox talk.

This week I got to spend a few (too few) hours with a woman whose heart I love, and she loves mine. When we are together, we anoint each other with words that are affirming, caring, honest, and full of love. We spend so little time together, that when we have such an opportunity we do not waste it on small talk. We dig right in to each others life.

It would not be the same reunion if, when we were together, we utilized the economy of words. Our words, spoken from our lips, strengthen and encourage each other … they feed us, as no food could ever do.

We live in a fallen world. One of discouragements, illnesses, failures and heartaches. Our words to those around us can be like medicated ointment on the scars covering our souls.

Words of love, encouragement, affirmation, truth and hope can be the glue that keeps someone from giving up.

“It’s your heart, not the dictionary,
that gives meaning to your words …
Words are powerful;
take them seriously.
Words can be your salvation.”

Matthew 12:35-37

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Having spent over six of the past eleven years working with high school students, I have been feeling old for quite awhile.

Lately, though, what I feel even more than old, is envy.

I don’t wish for their age on their driver’s license, what I envy is their idealism.

If you look up idealist in any dictionary, you will find synonyms like

visionary. dreamer. romantic. optimist.

If you look up the antonym (opposite) of idealist, you will find

realist. pragmatic.

not really motivating descriptors!

A teen can look at a problem, and issue, a goal and see it as possible. They do not see the inevitable


the costs,

the possible failure …

they see

the outcome,

the success,

the prize.

I am old … I struggle to see the prize clearly through my nearing-the-need-for-bifocals eyes.

When I look at a goal my eyes focus on a problem, an issue, a goal I immediately begin to envision the obstacles, costs and the other what-ifs that can lead to failure.

You see, at my great number of years, I have experience on my side, and that experience is what keeps me safe, protected …


The experience of living life can create a survival instinct that prevents us from experiencing life fully.

That familiar quote, by that well-known scientist, Miss. Frizzle (the Magic School Bus), “take chances, make mistakes, get messy” needs to ring in my ears more often. I am afraid that I am becoming Arnold, the pragmatic on the show who always responded to her with “please let this be a normal field trip.”

I think that, if indeed King Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, he was definitely not young when he did so. A reading of the third chapter, which is a constant contrast of opposites (a time to live and die, mourn and dance, to love and to hate) would ring familiar in the ears of any who has past the idealist, youthful years of life.

But the book, I believe, reminds us to live fully, maybe even idealistically, in the final chapter:

Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young … Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.
Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.”
Ecclesiastes 12:1,6

Though we may feel old, we do not have life old.

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They are done alone.

They are done seriously. hilariously.

They are done in the car. the bedroom. the bathroom mirror.

They are


A new generation of photographers has been filling up the photo albums (though, do any of these photos make it beyond the smart phone?), and their photos are of … themselves.

There is the self-selfie, and then there is the duo-selfie, and then there is the group selfie.

There is the middle school selfie … approximately two thousand snaps are taken to get the one that makes the photographer content to allow his or her world see on Facebook, snapchat, instagram, etc.

There is the high school selfie … approximately two dozen snaps are taken (and all are saved) to achieve the most number of chins before posting on various social media sites.

There is the post high school selfie … about ten shots are taken of their coffee shop edibles, all are posted and shared, with the caption “study break.”

Finally there are the middle age selfies … taken fresh from the hair salon, in a vehicle, and posted by their teen when they get home because the “couldn’t get the stupid app to work.”

We work so hard to portray ourselves in the exact way that we see ourselves. We work so hard to be seen by others in a manner that makes us look as we see best.


But what we show and post, what even we ourselves see of our image is not our true image. Our heavenly Father sees us on a deeper level.

He sees us, not as we show to others on social media, not as the image we see in our bathroom mirror. He looks at us, with our pimples and wrinkles, and sees us as the reflection of His image.

We are His image bearers. Image bearers of His Spirit.

And he is pleased.

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“Just a little,” came the response of one of our kids, as he was grumbling about the dark of the morning. It was early on a Monday morning, and he had a basketball practice.

The comment I had made previously was, “at least the sky is starting to lighten.”

That is how I push through the dark months of winter … looking for the approaching light, appreciating even the miniscule difference from one dawn to the next.

We have a choice, every winter day, do we see the immensity of the dark or do we see the increasing light?

Some days, stumbling in the dark, I forget to look for the light.

Some days, there is less visible light, because the clouds have covered the expanse so that the light can not penetrate through until it is higher in the sky. It is on those days that our minds knowledge of the light above must rule over what our eyes cannot see … that it is starting to lighten … just a little.

I recently discovered a website that helps me with this head knowledge. According to www.sunrisesunset.com, the sun rises about two minutes earlier each day. That is not much, certainly not a discernible difference, from day to day.

But, that little two minute change can add up. That’s fourteen minutes each week! That’s almost an entire hour in the month of February!

All of a sudden just a little is a not little at all.

Some days I am so busy looking at the setting sun, I forget the glory and majesty of it’s rise. Some days I am too busy looking … back.

It is in looking ahead, at this season in the year, that we need to keep our focus on the horizon at dawn, anticipating what is … ahead.

We have a choice, every winter day, do we see the immensity of the dark or do we see the increasing light? Because the light is always, always increasing … just a little … if we look at the right horizon.

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