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Archive for June, 2017

doubt

It was September of 2016 that the ability to trust myself enough to be brave returned.

I was frustrated, downcast and I doubted myself greatly. When a day like this occurs, I have three go tos; Pinterest, employment sites, or food. Now, lets face it, I didn’t choose just one, I simply hit them all, one by one.

For some reason all three of our kids were home, and I was interacting with them as I perused local employment opportunities, laughing with them as we considered me in the various positions available (laughter really is the best medicine).

Although I hold a diploma, as a Draftsman, a certificate (plus fourteen years experience), as an Educational Assistant,  and I have experience in a other areas, what I do not possess (and it seems to be the new grade 12 diploma) is an undergrad degree.

As I was perusing employment opportunities, one stopped me in my tracks. It was as an instructor in a local university-college, in a job training program for individuals with disabilities.

I remembered visiting that program on my spring break many years prior, and having been so impressed with what it offered, and the philosophy of those who managed the program. After my visit I designed a work experience program, at the high school I worked, to mirror that one, ensuring that those who completed my program would qualify for this university-college one.

I shared it with my kids, who knew of my great respect for it, and they all said, “apply for it.” I smiled, a mom smile, and said, “the minimum requirement is an undergrad, and they prefer someone with a masters.” My heart sunk, as I work in a high school, and I know how very important credentials are to be employed there, so a university college wouldn’t even look at my resume.

But they persisted, throwing mantras at me that I had thrown their way over the years of mothering and empowering them that they loss nothing from trying and that “they have not because they ask not.”

I wavered in the reality of my lacking, but didn’t want to by a hypocrite with my kids.

I glanced at the deadline … Monday. This was Friday, and I hadn’t updated my resume in years. This was going to take work, and there wasn’t much in the reservoir … but I felt I needed to model bravery to my kids.

So, I spent my weekend creating a new and improved resume (with the help of my kids), and, on Monday, I submitted it online, hours before the deadline.

Ah, I did it! I had modelled to my kids that my self doubt would not stop me from trying the impossible! My job was done.

Then, on Wednesday, I received, what I thought to be confirmation of receipt of my resume, and a thanks, but no thanks response.

Instead, it was an appointment for an interview …

for my dream job
that I was not even close to having the educational minimum requirements for
that I only applied to so as to model what I expect of my kids

I was flabergasted!

I had to get hubby to read it, to ensure that I had read it correctly.

A week later I went to that interview, and met three welcoming and, no doubt, fully educated, women. I answered their questions, I gave a brief outline of what I might teach to prepare the students for an interview.

The interview lasted about one hour …

and I blew it!

I have never in my life, interviewed so poorly. It was as though I could hear everything I was saying, yet I had no control over my words.

When I was graciously thanked, and left the room, I raced to exit the building, and get to a private space, where I …

laughed hysterically! As in, bent over in deep tummy laughter!

I had taught work experience for about six years, including how to survive a job interview, and yet I had managed to perform as though I had no idea what a job interview was to entail.

But, I didn’t care … I had done the impossible, and through this exercise of bravery, the debilitating anxiety (and self doubt) that I had been living with for the three years prior was overcome … not completely, but there were cracks in my self-doubt.

The tide had turned, and I was reminded that God has given me gifts to use and share.

“Then Jesus told them,
“I tell you the truth,
if you have faith and don’t doubt,
you can do things like this and much more.”
Matthew 21:21

 

 

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Community

Last week, at a farewell for a co-worker, a piece of writing by Wendell Berry was shared,

“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”

As a struggler to understand, yet lover of, community, the words took root in my heart that evening, and all weekend long.

I love the haphazard connection of unique and different individuals that community brings.

We do not share the same education, politics, experiences, dreams or habits,

yet, the commonality of shared time and space bring us together as if for a cosmic scientific experiment.

This is community.

And community is what we find on the streets we live, at our places or work or school, in the churches we attend, in the activities we participate.

Our communities are in great need of scientists, of business people, of entrepreneurs,  but also we need poets, mothers, bricklayers, comedians and theologians for community to be filled, to be fulfilled.

Our communities are not perfect. They are clusters of humans, doing their own thing, with petite and profound effect on all who we share this time and space.

Community is where we find a space, a place to belong. For those of a certain generation, community is a Cheers, experience …

a place where everyone (others) know your name.

Today ends a school year for myself, and my colleagues. The end of this community, as we knew it to be, this school year. You see, for the school employee, community changes every year, for a group of students graduate (or move on to another school) and staff also move on, to other jobs, retirement, etc.

When we all return (or turn up, as the case may be) at the end of summer, a new community is birthed, with the blessings and struggles that anything new may bring.

So, for now we bid farewell to the school community of 2016/17, and await the new one in which we will share life, where everyone will know your name.community

 

 

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On Wednesday morning we will (in all likelihood) take the last, first drive to camp with our son. It will be year ten of driving the one hundred and fifteen kilometre (seventy-one miles), which can take anywhere from one hour to four, depending on traffic, road work and accidents.

He has been there as a camper, work crew, leader-in-training, cabin assistant counseling, maintenance, music and whatever else might need to be done.

Our son is most often a stoic home-body who accepts his introverted tendencies with full self-acceptance. Yet, he will leave on Wednesday for about seven weeks of activity, noise, lack of privacy, constant busyness and people around every corner.

In his seventeen plus years, he has only ever desired to save two things; his Thomas trains, and his camp shirts.

Imagine a rubbermaid container almost filled with different sizes, colours and styles of camp t-shirts!

It seemed a shame to me that these special relics of his past were relegated to the dark of the plastic container … too small or too old to be worn, yet holding of too many memories to dispose of forever.

Then, one day while perusing Pinterest, I came across an image of a quilt, made out of t-shirts. I was hooked!

With the assistance and support of the Textiles teacher, another Educational Assistant and the entire Textiles 11/12 class of students, I started cutting up the t-shirts …

then I realized that I was destroying my son’s valued possessions … without him knowing it!

Once I explained my vision, he okayed my plan (minus one, yet untouched, shirts, which he wanted to keep … whole.

Finally, last week, the task was completed (as was his task of completing all of his high school exams), and I handed over my labor of love to him … just in time for year ten.

Have a great summer, Wheatley … finish well!

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For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:9-14

 

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IMG_0307It is now the season of summer, bonfires, swimming, late nights outside, road trips and vacations.

Of all the many things I am looking most forward to this summer season, the thing I am yearning for the most is wandering aimlessly.

I will wander aimlessly around my neighborhood, in thrift, hardware and antique stores, at the beach, on trails and throughout my garden. For there will be little schedule, little pressing on my time, less ‘must dos’ and more freedom to do and go as I please.

For one, such as myself, who loves to fill my time with intentional, purposeful activities, this change of pace can seem to be quite the departure from the norm of the rest of the year, but it is as life-giving as the busyness of the rest of the year.

It is in this season of wandering aimlessly, that my creative batteries get re-charged, that my soul gets re-filled, and my mind gets cleared.

I bet I am not alone in this yearning!

This yin and yang is present in the lives of most of us. It is the daily living of opposites and extremes. We sleep, we work. We eat, we fast. We create, we do the mundane. We love, we … sounds like the juxtaposition of life’s experiences in Ecclesiastes 3.

born, die
born, uproot
kill, heal
tear down, build,
weep, laugh
mourn, dance
scatter stones, gather them
embrace,  refrain from embracing
search, give up
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
tear, mend
be silent, speak
love, hate
war, peace.

a time to be busy, and a time to wander aimlessly.

The season of wandering aimlessly is upon us.

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He Heals

 

he heals

Ever heard a story that refuses to leave your memory?

Sometimes it is a news story, or a television show that brings her story back to the surface of my thoughts, and I am thrust into a sense of mourning for what my friend experienced.

I remember when my friend shared her story. It haunts my mind, breaks my heart and saddens my soul.

She told her story of facts, feelings and abuse. Each detail etched itself into the deepest part of me. There are times when I feel as haunted by her verbal story as if I were there.

But, it was she, not me, who was there. It is her ugly, broken, horror story.

As we lay our burdens at the feet of Christ, it is often the burdens of others that weigh heaviest on our shoulders. When we lay them , we tend to struggle to release them fully, for we tend to hold on to them with questions such as, why?

Yet lay them we must. For he does heal those wounds.

And, rather than hold on to the burdens of others we lift our loved ones up in prayer. Each time their hurt comes to our mind, we whisper prayers for comfort, for healing.

 

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good father

I do have a good father.

He has been one who has loved and been committed to me. His expressions of fatherly love have made my personal acceptance of God as my heavenly father easy and natural.

When my father proposed to my mother, he did so with one condition, that she allow him to adopt her two year old daughter (me) as his own. I actually think that it was always in the plan of my heavenly father, that my dad be … my dad, and that I be his daughter.


“See how very much our Father loves us,
for he calls us his children,
and that is what we are”
1 John 3:1a


Love is a choice. It was the choice of my father to love me, it has been my choice to love him. Blood relation does not change that reality, because love is always a choice, or it is not love, but obligation.

I think all of us reach point in our lives when we realize that loving others, loving our children, loving our parents, is a choice that is in our hands.

I remember reaching the developmental stage when I became aware of the faults and mistakes that my parents have made. The things said that stung. The time not given. The things that were important to me that were critiqued and rejected. But I also realized that they were, they are human (I might have come to that realization around the time that I became a parent). They have not done it all right. They did not always comfort me as I desired or needed, they did not always do things with me when I so wanted them to, they did not always say (or not say) what I needed. But, I know that when I look at the big picture (from our beginning to today) they chose to love me.

For many, Father’s Day is a tough day. We may have very valid reasons for feeling unloved, abused or unchosen, and for those who must keep apart from the earthly man who is your father. What I am saying does not apply to you, for your story is one of self preservation.

But, for most of us, it is a matter of choice, our choice, to love the men in our lives who have chosen to love us … imperfectly, humanly.

Happy Father’s Day, to my dad, who I choose to love.


“Yet to all who did receive him,
to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God
children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will,
but born of God.

John 1:12-13


 

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I cannot even remember how we discovered it, but my first view of it will stay with me always.

On a sunny springtime day, peeking through the floorboards of our second story deck, at three perfect blue robin eggs, snug in their nest.

The only thing better than seeing them, was watching and listening to our kids as they caught their first glimpses of the little bird family.

The momma robin hovered in and around, under and over her littles, constantly reminding us of her protective maternal presence. We tried to give her space in her season of nesting, though the temptation to peek at the progress of the eggs was near impossible for our family of five.

We scanned the internet for information pertaining to the gestation of robin eggs.

What we didn’t read about, were not prepared for, was the sad day that started with a fluttering, squaring momma robin, fighting off the evil Steller Jay.

I remember our animal-loving daughter coming into the kitchen after standing on the deck and giving heck to the Jay, in support of the robin family … now reduced to one whole egg and two mounds of shells.

Then, when the school day came to an end, and our kids went out to look through the floorboards, anger mixed with sorrow, as the realization that the jay had gotten number three.

Our anticipated joy in nature halted by … nature.

This well-feathered story makes me think of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes:

There’s … a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,

A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.”

I do not always appreciate how life goes. Yet, when I look back I see that the hardships, the sorrows and the defeats are intermixed with the delights, the joys, the wins.

Last week, fifteen or so years later, we made an unexpected discovery … a perfectly constructed nest, nestled into one of my hanging planters. Inside were four eggs, white with reddish spots.

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The tiny little momma bird was vigilant in staying with her family, with short jaunts out of the nest to care for herself and check the premises for enemies.

As I led a friend to the nest, earlier this week, my heart sunk as there were no eggs. Instead there were … feathers. As I moved the leaf on a plant I saw four eager, wide opened beaks opened up as high as they could reach.

Now there’s still a neighbour cat who is thinking that we are providing fast, feathered food. So the threat of nature is still in the air.
the threat of nature is always in the air

But, maybe this is a time for birth, a time for life.

birds

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