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Archive for August, 2017

clowns_jokers_postcard-r5dc0802ca92f426da8efb521e7051e4c_vgbaq_8byvr_324

Left wing or right?

C/conservative or L/liberal?

I feel as though our world has gone crazy for pigeon-holing other humans.

As one who has always been quite comfortable being strangely unique, I am offended  (word of the day) by this pigeon-holing.

Because I am a woman …
does not mean I am a feminist, believe I am under the subjugation of men, or love Grey’s Anatomy (nor am I saying I am not).

Because I am an educator …
does not mean that I vote with union-supporting parties, believe that higher education is the only way to a successful life, or that I have amazing handwriting on a chalk/white board (nor am I saying I am not/do not).

Because I am a west coaster …
does not mean that I wear Birkenstocks (with or without wool socks), eat a Vegan diet, or that I do yoga on the beach (nor am I saying that I am not/do not).

Because I am a Christian, does not mean that I hate anyone who is Muslim, gay or whoever wears tattoos … period!

Here is who I am …
I am, first and foremost, a flawed, undeserving recipient of the most awe-inspiring redemption, from the One who set the world in place (though, I am not sure if it happened in seven days, seconds or millions of years … but I am fully confident that it was by an intelligent being).

I have voted for three national political parties since the first time I was of age to practice the privilege of voting. I vote with my conscience, not with the conscience of a politician, or a party.

I have three children, who I have encouraged, since childhood, to look out for the underdog, the new kid, those who may seem weak … never has this encouragement been connected to a race, religion, lifestyle or any other differential. To care about and for all created things. And I have taught them to NEVER make statements that they are not willing to do something about (and that holding a placard is not as important as reaching for the hand of one who has fallen or been pushed down).

I believe it is possible to have a relationship, even love, someone with whom I disagree. I do not choose to love only those who think like me … how lacking in diversity of life.

I believe in free speech … even when I do not like what is being communicated.

I believe that all of human history matters, and that we learn from what was done right, as well as what was done wrongly. This is the reality of all human existence, that we all have the capability of good and of evil.

I am not perfect … not in my actions, my attitudes or my words, for “there is no just man (or woman)” (Romans 3:10).

I am no pigeon and, I bet, neither are you.

 

 

 

 

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We have all had that experience of being the new girl/guy. Whether in kindergarten class or tenth grade, we have all been the new kid at school.

Tomorrow is the day when I get to be the new girl.

My colleagues of eleven of the past fourteen years all returned to work yesterday, but I stayed home and watered my flowers in my pjs (in my VERY private back yard).

Tomorrow I will drive in the opposite direction, to a different high school to meet my my new colleagues, at my new job.

The final decision happened very quickly … yet it was in the works for much longer. I guess you could say my work life is Recalculating.

I have spent much of the summer reminiscing and reflecting over how much I learned, grew and care for the staff and students who I will miss.

Now I have turned one hundred and eighty degrees, face forward, ready for what may await.

I have gone from mourning to dreaming. Though it is more difficult to dream before I see where I will work, meet the staff and students who will fill my days and know the place and plan that God has cooked up for my year.

My tummy is a butterfly haven, yet I trust that they are all very energetic, graceful and not without direction.

I guess that is what I am hoping and trusting for myself as I walk new hallways …

that I am energetic, in my body but also in my mind.

that I am graceful, grace-filled, in my work with staff and students.

that I am walking with direction, which means holding tightly to the One who led me through those new doors.

Starting to get excited!

“… every single day Your grace reminds me
That my best days are not behind me …
here I come
the future has begun
Day one”
Matthew West (from the song “Day One”)

 

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There are times in all of our lives when what we planned falls through or simply cannot be done.

Those can be such disappointing times, making us question our planning, our dreaming, even our praying.

Often it is not until years, weeks or even just hours later, that our eyes are open to the possibilities, blessings or even just maturing that can come from being forced to revise our plan.

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As I sat in the movie theatre, chowing down on popcorn and watching the advertisements prior to the previews for upcoming movies, a Jeep commercial came on the screen.

I became a proud (hubby would say overly proud, but I digress) Jeep owner a year ago, so I watched with full attention.

The ad was for a 2017 model, and depicted various people being directed by an automated mapping voice, then the person(s) would go against the directions, and turn another way, quit their job, get married at a different age than planned, move, etc, and the automated voice would verbalize the different decision as it might if we took a different turn on the road with “recalculating”.

Jeep says, “for more than 75 years, the Jeep name has been indelibly associated with freedom, authenticity, adventure and passion. These are vehicles for “ dreamers and doers” – forging extraordinary, uncommon bonds between themselves and their owners”

Though I think that might be a rather lofty goal for any automobile or corporation, it is a statement that would resonate with many people today, who are looking for an out of the box experience of life.

Recalculating

That is the reality of the human experience. Though we do not often acknowledge it, this change of direction is one that reminds us that our lives are not completely in our human hands.

Proverbs 16:9 is like that ancient, ageless text of “recalculating”:

In their hearts, humans plan their course
but the Lord establishes their steps.”

Yes, we can and should make plans, but we also should not hold on to those plans with tight fists.

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matthew

There is a trend in our society, that has been making me wonder lately.

The trend is all of the respect yourself advice. Let me give you a couple of examples:

“respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy”

“respect yourself enough to say “I deserve peace” and walk away from people or things that prevent you from attaining it”

Basically, the messages tend to be (my words) “if I am not getting what I want from you, I will erase you from my life”

Every time I read one of these (faux) pearls of wisdom, my mind goes to situations, seasons and people who stuck with me when I was that person.

that person who was selfish

that person who treated another poorly

that person who didn’t make the effort to call, email or contact

that person who took more than they gave

that person who should have been walked away from

You see, we are all that person at times. We all have seasons of selfishness, distraction, ignorance, and pride. We all have been mean, unthinking and unappreciative.

I am not saying we should be a doormat or allow ourselves to be abused … no way. What I am saying is that, maybe, the loudest message today is we deserve only good from others.

The further I go in my life, the more I look back at the ways my grandparents did life.

I remember times when a certain neighbour, fellow church member or relative would do or say something disrespectful to my grandmother. She would shake her head … and move on with her day. The next time she would see them, she approached them with the grace of a blank slate … and usually that was the end of the situation.

You see she respected herself enough to not dwell on those incidents. She also understood the wisdom of the ages, the golden rule of life, that you treat others as you would like them to treat you.

And, at least in my life, I am so thankful for those who treated me with such grace as to treat me as they would desire for me to treat them.

 

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For years I have dreamed of knocking this one thing off my bucket list, and I finally did it!

Our son has attended a summer camp as a camper, on work crew, as a LIT (leader-in-training) and staff for every year since he was seven. This sIMG_2416ummer was year ten, and, quite possibly, his last.

For the past few years I have dreamed of volunteering there, as a means of meeting all the people he has talked about, getting photos and giving back to this place as a gift for all they have done for him.

My energy was higher than it had been in the past few years, so this was to be the year.

The area they needed assistance was in the kitchen, so that is where I got to spend my time.

The camp kitchen is managed by a knowledgable, experienced, hard-working cook who runs the food prep with military precision. She works long hours, many days and does so while adoring (and being adored by) the youth who are part of camp.

It felt good to be able to do a task which allowed you to see it through to completion. But, I gotta tell you, it is hard, tiring work!

IMG_2412I got to go to watch the most beautiful mornings and evenings at the the edge of the lake, where the pesky geese would arrive, numerous times each day (to eat the treats dropped on the ground then pooh all over the grass). The lake was often still at these beginnings and endings, but ever so alive with activity during the daytime, as campers and neighbours were boating, swimming and various other water activities.

I got to attend a campfire time in the chapel in the woods, sparsely

IMG_2317decorated with benches, strings of Christmas lights, and staggered wood planks framing the ‘stage’. The guest speakers communicating the love and acceptance of Christ in their words and in how they interacted with everyone there, all the while also caring for and communicating love and acceptance to their two young children.

I got to meet and chat with Muffin, Itchy, Nacho, Ginger and so many others by the camp names I had heard year after year. I got to speak thanks to the camp director, program director and their wives, who have led, instructed and cared for our son. I also got to meet Fred and Elmer (and Skippy), who our son had spent two years doing work crew with, learning about work ethic, being real and doing it all for Christ.

I got to volunteer alongside of other volunteers, who just wanted to give back to the camp that they had attended, or just wanted to give their time to.

“Kawkawa’s mission is
to transform, build, and impact lives
in God’ creation
by living in community, offering programs and services
and teaching and modeling Christ
through our camp staff and facilities.”

And that IS what they do. Perfectly? No. With great love? Definitely!

BLKP4376

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holiday

Having just returned from a week of holiday-ing on the west coast of Oregon, I am still living in the residual joy of that time away from the day-to-day responsibilities.

Getting away is amazing. Away from work, and the phone, and making dinner, and doing laundry, and all the rest of the same old, same old.

Then we return home, after time away, and revel in that very same, same old. We return and have refreshed thoughts about our jobs, try new recipes, make our suitcase-smelling clothes fresh and clean and reach for the phone to re-connect with our families and friends.

According to the definition (above) a holiday is a holy day, a day when work is suspended to celebrate an event … you know, an event, like Monday, or August, or Christmas, or … (you fill in the blank).

Though an extended time away from work is a great blessing, a holiday can be any day that we bring a holiday mindset into its beginning and sprinkle it through to evening.

As I prepare my mind for the beginning of a new sc—l year (I am simply not ready to say the word yet 😉 ), I am thinking that I need to incorporate the idea of holiday into every week.

I need to spend my lunch break, at work, going for a walk, or chatting with a co-worker about anything but work.

I need to include a dinner each week in candlelight.

I need to spend the end of my day reading a fiction novel (no self-help, DIY or factual reading).

I need to walk on a beach … any beach, at least once a month (even in the rain … I love it on vacation, so why not on a Saturday afternoon in November?).

I need to make plans with those people who we always say, “we should get together sometime,” and never do. Holidays are perfect for those sometimes.

I need to laugh, from the belly.

I need to dream.

I need to reflect.

I need to plan and look forward to the next vacation holiday, be it a weekend or a longer time away.

What do you need to do, in order to attain more holidays throughout your year?

“The holiest of all holidays are those
Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;
The secret anniversaries of the heart,
When the full river of feeling overflows;—
The happy days unclouded to their close;
The sudden joys that out of darkness start
As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart
Like swallows singing down each wind that blows!
White as the gleam of a receding sail,
White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,
White as the whitest lily on a stream,
These tender memories are;—a fairy tale
Of some enchanted land we know not where,
But lovely as a landscape in a dream.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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FullSizeRender 2Another summer day, another sunset.

It is guaranteed that every day the sun will rise and the sun will set. Though some days we cannot see the occurrences each day, they have been happening since the Creator first said, “Let there be light” (and there was, evening and morning).

There was evening … then there was morning …

Evening first, because before morning light “the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). So it was that evening was followed by morning.

And “God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness” (Genesis 1:4). The light is good, and after prolonged times of darkness it is life-giving to once again see the light. Somehow, when we have been deprived of the light, it is so much sweeter than before.

“God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night” (Genesis 1:5a). They were given names, as all of creation has been named. It is as though with their naming they were included in the living creatures whose breath was breathed into into them by the God of all creation.

Then the story of evening and morning, darkness and light is identified with it’s place in the timeline of life, “and there was evening, and there was morning—the first day” (Genesis 1:5b). This was day one, which was started in utter darkness and ended with light.

All of our days end with the darkness that follows a sunset, sometimes it is not just the sky but also within us that contains shadows. But each sunset is followed by the light of the sun, rising in the dawn.

“Sunrise sunset, sunrise, sunset,
Swiftly flow the days,
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers,
Blossoming even as they gaze…”
Fiddler on the Roof

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home

A week of the sweet life (aka #vacationfortwo, #justus2, #justhubbyandme, #vacayfor2, #heandme, #roadtrip) has come to an end for hubby and I.

We travelled over one thousand five hundred kilometres, ate far to much of everything one shouldn’t, walked on sandy shorelines, stared in awe as the waves kept coming toward us, took dozens of pictures, spent precious hours with sweet people, went to sleep to the sound of pounding surf, and awoke to the noisy seagulls enjoying their morning feed on the beach.

It was all so good.

And now we are home.

We returned home to the adoration of the Wonderdog, and catching up with a daughter. We crawled into our own bed last night, delighted at the familiarity of our bed. Awoke this morning eager for the that first cup of brewed goodness, in our favourite chairs, with the Wonderdog stretched out on the floor between us.

Laundry in process, familiar, fresh air coming in the windows, life is good.

Vacation is delight, but coming home to who and what we love is the icing on the cake.

My Home 
This is the place that I love the best,
A little brown house, like a ground-bird’s nest,
Hid among grasses, and vines, and trees,
Summer retreat of the birds and bees.

The tenderest light that ever was seen
Sifts through the vine-made window screen–
Sifts and quivers, and flits and falls
On home-made carpets and gray-hung walls.

All through June the west wind free
The breath of clover brings to me.
All through the languid July day
I catch the scent of new-mown hay.

The morning-glories and scarlet vine
Over the doorway twist and twine;
And every day, when the house is still,
The humming-bird comes to the window-sill.

In the cunningest chamber under the sun
I sink to sleep when the day is done;
And am waked at morn, in my snow-white bed,
By a singing bird on the roof o’erhead.

Better than treasures brought from Rome,
Are the living pictures I see at home–
My aged father, with frosted hair,
And mother’s face, like a painting rare.

Far from the city’s dust and heat,
I get but sounds and odors sweet.
Who can wonder I love to stay,
Week after week, here hidden away,
In this sly nook that I love the best–
This little brown house like a ground-bird’s nest?

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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beaut7

CS Lewis has said, “We do not want merely to see beauty… we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”

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Though I have the benefit of living in a place of great visual beauty, it is when I am on vacation, travelling, that I have opportunity to not only see the beauty around me, but also to breath it into my lungs, into my very soul … so that what I see pierces into who I am, providing an experience of oneness, like communion.

beaut2 These experiences are deeply spiritual, deeply personal and immensely rejuvenating, reminding me who I am, what I am part of and to whom I belong.

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As hubby and I traverse this week, I participated in such a holy service, in the cathedrals made of rock, wood, sand and water. I partook of the elements offered to me, ““in remembrance of him.” (1 Corinthians 11:24a, 25a).

“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you … For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:23a, 26)

I find, in these wide-opened, sacred spaces, that I feel the words of hymns or spiritual songs whose words were inspired by similar services of communion. It is such sweet sacrament.

In this case, it was the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth, written by Folliott S. Pierpoint, sometime before 1864

For the beauty of the earth,
   For the beauty of the skies,
For the Love which from our birth
   Over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
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For the beauty of each hour
   Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
   Sun and moon and stars of light:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For the joy of ear and eye,
   For the heart and brain’s delight,
For the mystic harmony
   Linking sense to sound and sight:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For the joy of human love,
   Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above;
   For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For each perfect Gift of Thine
   To our race so freely given,
Graces human and Divine,
   Flowers of earth, and buds of Heaven:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For Thy Bride that evermore
   Lifteth holy hands above,
Offering up on every shore
   This Pure Sacrifice of Love:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For Thy Martyrs’ crown of light,
   For Thy Prophets’ eagle eye,
For Thy bold Confessors’ might,
   For the lips of Infancy:
Christ, our God, to Thee we raise
This our Sacrifice of Praise.
For Thy Virgins’ robes of snow,
   For Thy Maiden Mother mild,
For Thyself, with hearts aglow,
   Jesu, Victim undefiled,
Offer we at Thine own Shrine
Thyself, sweet Sacrament Divine.

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Although we were driving, although the windshield was really dirty, although I am no photographer … I just had to get a shot of the sun in the distance.

Even with the vast array of filters at my hand (literally) it still does not do justice for what my eyes saw.

There is something about sunrises, and sunsets, and rays of light that regularly makes me pull out my phone to try to get the image recorded forever.

According to Maclaren’s Expositions, “in all languages, light is the natural symbol for three things: knowledge, joy, purity. To ‘walk in the light’ then, is, speaking generally, to have purity, righteousness, goodness, as the very element and atmosphere in which our progressive and changeful life is carried on.

1 John 1:5 tells us:

“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all”

If light is the symbol for knowledge, joy and purity, we could then extrapolate that God, being light, is the very source of knowledge, joy and purity.

Kinda makes our magnetism for light make sense. It draws us to it, as Christ draws us to him, and through him we experience true knowledge, joy and purity.

Even our Wonder dog is drawn to the light. 

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