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Archive for the ‘WONDER’ Category

There is a line which speaks such truth, in the movie, Shadowlands (the story of the relationship between CS Lewis and his wife Joy Davidman … that is all I will say as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who doesn’t know … but, the two are played by Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger … SEE THIS MOVIE):

“we read to know we are not alone”

To read something that makes you feel, that reminds you that your thoughts and emotions are experienced by another is enlivening. Sometimes it is in reading a good book that we find connectedness, but sometimes connectedness comes from other, unexpected places.

Having a coffee with a friend who is safe to share your heart with can bring connectedness and relief from the wear and tear of life like nothing else. Laughter with loved ones, praying for others, a shared look across a crowded room with your love … they all remind us we are not alone in this life.

But people are not the only pathway to experiencing this human need. Have you ever taken a walk in nature only to feel overwhelmed by the beauty around you? Or, tasted a meal that brings joy to your palate? Or inhaled the scent of lilacs (or roses, or whatever flower provides olfactory delight)? Or glanced at a painting that moved something within you? Or … heard a piece of music …

Have you seen the video (below) of the toddler hearing someone play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata? It is a very moving, moody, melancholy piece of music. This little guy has an emotional response to the sound of this music. A response so visceral it is as though he understands, from experience, great sorrow.

But, what if he is simply having a human experience of connectedness. Connectedness to other humans, to nature, to God? For does not God exist in all beautiful things? Is not our human experience one of the combination of great joy and sorrow at the same time?

Yes, God is in the beautiful, the arousing, the joyful … but he also knows sorrow, loss and brutality.

As we move beyond the Easter season …

the season of our greatest gain,
his greatest loss

Easter is not left behind, for it’s joys and sorrows they go with us, in us.

Easter is the great reminder that we are loved, we are never alone, we are connected … and there are reminders of this everywhere.

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“I have dealt with it” (whatever it is), we say.

Then we hear, we feel the creaking

of the door

to the past

and we are right back there again,

staring into the blackness

of that night, that day, that season.

That time we thought we had left behind a locked door,

never to see the light of day,

never again to pinch and pierce our hearts.

Through the opening flood memories.

There are good memories,

but they are shadowed by the bad, the ending,

singed by the fires that ravaged those joys with sorrow.

As if the light of those joys is forever dimmed

by the inferno that brought it all

to ashes.

How is it that though it is done, has been done and dusted now for years, the door still creaks open, letting the darkness of that time flood back, stealing today’s joys? And, let’s face it, we cannot but say,

why God? Why do you let my today be darkened by yesterday?

Then, I hear it …

every.

single.

time.

Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

And I hear it.

I hear it with my ears, but I also feel it in my deepest parts,

the click of the door,

the slide of lock.

I feel the warmth of the light with me,

inside of me.

I am not alone,

for my Creator, my Redeemer is with me.

I can face, not just tomorrow, but yesterday too.

He will make all things new.

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This weekend and last are such a contrast.

Last weekend (the Easter weekend) held for us two church services, a birthday party, a family dinner and not much else. Our down time was spent watching BCDs (British Crime Dramas), playing with our puppy and few household chores.

This weekend we have spent all of Saturday doing chores around the house to knock a few things off the legendary to do list. The power washer was in full force, paint was utilized, the garage and storage area of our basement organized, deck furniture cleaned and put into summer position. And that is only one day!

As we were outside we got to meet a neighbor. She is in her seventies, a widower who is involved in local theatre, loves gardening and is a sun-seeker (I think we might be kindred sprits). Her smile is warm and welcoming and her eyes sparkle.

“When you do what you love,” she said of her late in life discovery of joy in acting, “life is just better.”

I continued considering her words the rest of the day and into this new morning. But, I also considered them in relation to something my hubby said of those who are aging,

“There are those who are living to die,
while others are dying to live.”

Last weekend was a good one, a mix of peopling and rest, but … maybe too much rest. I remember waking last Tuesday and my body ached … from doing nothing. This weekend I have kibitzed and laughed with my neighbors, moved heavy things, painted a table, swept and cleaned. I love doing these things, I am confident in doing them. My body is a bit achy this morning, but … I feel good! Progress was made, things got done.

I realized this morning that movement is key to keep this body feeling better … sitting still, though good for a bit, will not prevent the aches and stiffness associated with a moving-beyond-midlife body.

The same is for our minds. It is not healthy to sit still with thoughts for too long. Pain from mulling over our worries and sorrows can steal life from our souls. We cannot benefit from sitting still with our pain and struggles. We need to face problems that we can solve, to stretch our minds from problem to solution (whether it is arranging furniture, deciding on a paint color for a table or doing a crossword or jigsaw puzzle). Our minds need variety, engagement, the ability to do things that feed our souls, that we are confident in doing.

I want to be dying to live … all the days, every breath of my life, because life is just better that way.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

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Being a pregnant or mom hoping to adopt is hard.

Being a mom of a newborn is hard.

Being a mom of a toddle or preschooler is hard.

So is being a mum of a child in elementary school, an adolescent, a teen …

Hey, being a mum is hard.

My three are all now wandering through their twenties. Post secondary schooling, careers, new relationships, travel, pets, moving out from under the family home … they are flying solo, mostly out of our nest, more often soaring on winds from other places … from other people.

I have to admit, this has been the hardest mom-stage for me. To go from the equivalent of a cruise ship director to a sideline spectator is a big role adjustment.

The other day I read a post called, 15 Things I want my Teenagers to Know, by Jess at Wonderoak. Though my kids are no longer teens there is much similarity in her list and what mine would be at this, next, stage.

It got me to thinking … what would my list be?

So, here is my list of 10 things I want my 20-something ‘kids’ to know :

  1. Even though I sometimes struggle with your independence, I also admire and am thankful that you are living life with little need of your dad and I.
  2. Though your need of us is significantly less, I still yearn to brought into your life … to hear your tales of life and living, to share the joys, laughter and sorrows of life.
  3. You are not how you feel. Your emotions are real and valid, but they do not define you, nor are they your identity.
  4. In the words of another mother, I know things. Oh, how we parents of adults love to impart our knowledge (insert rolling eyes … yours and mine). Feel free to ask … how to clean that spot on your favorite shirt, how to keep plants flowering, the meaning of life …
  5. Ask me about your childhood. You are in the stage of life that is sifting through your life so far. Let me share my experience of the events of your early years. Let me express the big picture, imperfect, first years of your life … maybe even surrounded by photos.
  6. I love when you send that picture of the yellow tree (Forsythia), that clip from a movie we loved, that meme of a joke we shared, the lyrics of a song we sang driving to school, to swim meets, to play practises.
  7. I still want to know about your friends. I want to know who you love and who loves you … it reminds me that you are okay, that you will be loved beyond me.
  8. There are three of you who shared similar (but not exactly the same) histories … I hope you hold those relationships in high regard, with mutual love and respect. They may, or may not, be relationships that are easy, but you each share with the others what you will not share with any others in this life.
  9. I love you, I love you, I love you. I am hearing Sharon, Lois and Bram singing, I love you in the morning, in the afternoon. I love you in the evening, underneath the moon … my hope is that you will feel it, that you will know it.
  10. I don’t love you most … I never will, nor will another other mere human. Your very breath was given to you by the Creator of the world, you were bought with a price … because you were, you are worth the cost.

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Writing, at least for me, is a cathartic, comforting experience, usually one which has far less to do with those who read it and far more to do processing of life and making sense of God in my vertical communion with him.

In the beginning, I was seeking a place to have my own voice … I place to be heard.

Now, just over eleven years later, writing is a place to be quiet, a place to listen and learn, not about me … my thoughts, my feelings, but about the God I choose to serve, the God who chose me.

These daily moments of praying through my fingertips on a keyboard are the best moments of my day. They are active moments, ones where I speak whatever comes to my mind and listen. and listen. and listen. and learn. God has opened my mind to his word, making it exciting, a mystery to understand, stories to peel back to their plot line, seeing the grand story within.

Though I have worked in an educational environment for almost twenty years, applying teaching principles one-on-one and in small groups, it is through this daily practice of fingertips to keys, a multitude of tabs opened at once, where I have learned to love to study the life of Jesus and others gone before, where I have learned to love to study the blueprint for my own life. For I read, I listen, I write … a multiplicity of learning methods, encapsulated in the writing of a blog post.

What you might read is actually a vertical conversation, or a vertical confession, or a vertical prayer that takes place on the pages/screens of this site.

What I want you to know is that, maybe you, too could benefit from such a vertical conversation. It doesn’t have to be on a screen. You could write it on paper, in a journal. It doesn’t have to be public. You could write in a document. But, I have to say that, for me, there has been a most magical experience in this sacred practise each day, for it has drawn me into the word of God in a profound and meaningful way.

I write to know my heavenly Father, and to know that He is here with me.

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To my grade one doppelganger (except, you’re not, because we are biologically related).

From day one of your life, I felt as though I was simply your carrier, the one who bore and delivered you into this life. For, from my first glance of your squirmy body, you looked like your daddy. Your copper-colored hair, your squinty bright blue eyes, your face shape, your skin tone … all of it. And I loved every bit, for a mother does not love a child for what she knows, but simply because the child is hers.

Then, when you were not ever two, we moved and the receptionist and nurse and our new doctor’s office were in awe at how much we looked alike. Though I doubted what they said, it did warm my momma heart that we might share something more than just DNA.

A few years later, I picked up photos from the drug store (because that was the way it was done back in the stone ages). As I flipped through the images of our growing kids I was immediately halted when I came to the photo of you at a birthday (above). The same squinty eyes, the same smile, and face shape, and eyebrows, and even the hint of similar freckles was looking back at me … not at the 30-something momma of three, but the grade one me. Heck, you even tilted your head like me … just in the opposite direction.

I don’t know why exactly seeing that we were similar was so comforting to me. Maybe there is something primal about it …

maybe I simply longed to see,
not me in you,
but you in me?

The perfect unity of I am in you and you are in me. Oneness, perhaps, was my heart’s desire.

Today is your birthday. A quarter century of the gift of life. A gift that comes with little foretaste of what will come your way … the tough decisions to be made, the struggles (with relationships, with health, etc.). Sometimes it can feel that it is too hard … but, hard is accompanied by other things … the better things (relationships, art, beauty in nature, successes at work, good food … cats) and these things are the things that bring a twinkle to our eyes … our squinty eyes.

I wish you a new year of things that make you smile, sunshine that brings out your freckles, squinty-eyed smiles and oneness.

I love you, my baby girl. I am so glad that you are mine … and I am yours.

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I love new beginnings.

Spring brings many of those, for it is a season of fresh starts, reawakening. The trees are beginning their blossom beautification to neighborhoods near and around me, with fluffy clouds of whites, pinks and corals. The bulbs, long cold in the ground are pushing their way through the humus, eager to pop all the colors of a rainbow, right there on the ground. I remember each spring, as a child, going for drives ‘in the country’ (I guarantee you, we already lived in the country) to see tree lined fields, inhabited by deer of all sizes and ages, out to forage for ground level nutrition.

In this lenten season, there is new afoot, in the dusty sandals of Jesus, but there was one before him.

I love the passage that speaks of this other man, found in Mark 1:1-15.

I love how Mark goes back, and then forward, back and then forward. It is as if he knows that we mortals will be on the lookout for evidence, for proof that what is reported it truth (which, lets face it, it a good thing and a common practise throughout the word of God).

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord  make straight paths for him.’”

Mark begins his book declaring the start of good news … Genesis may have had a beginning of the world and everything in it, but this story is beginning with the good news … the Messiah!

But, Mark doesn’t then begin with his (first person) take on the life of Jesus, where they went, what they ate, who they talked to, or private jokes between them. No, he goes to the past, to the prophet Isaiah and what he foretold would happen, not just in regard to the Messiah, but those who also had a part to play in this good news.

In this case, his re-telling is about John the Baptist, the cousin who leapt for joy (in his mother’s womb) when he first encountered Jesus.

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

John was the messenger spoken of by Isaiah. The one who primed the pipe, so to say, preparing people for the grand entrance of the Good News.

Then we read of Jesus being baptized by John, followed by his time in the desert with the devil. Then, John, this messenger who heralded the arrival of the Messiah, was put in prison, his main task completed.

  • Let’s stop here a minute, because I think there is an important life application here for us today. John came, he had a job to do. My guess is that he knew God was with him in his task. He had followers (“The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him“), yet, his life was not one that we modern Christ-followers expect, want or think we deserve. He lived simply, sparsely. He did the job of paving the way for the Messiah … and he was done … no accolades, no pat on the back (on this side of heaven), no book deals, no riches, not even a spot on Jesus’ team of disciples. And, though he was the messenger that even Isaiah spoke of, in the end, John kinda lost his head. There is a lesson here … doing what is right in the eyes of God does not guarantee good here on Earth … the only prosperity gospel that is biblical is “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Then, moving forward, we read of Jesus’ ministry beginnings,

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Here we see Jesus fulfilling the words and actions of John the Baptist, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And we also see Jesus declaring his purpose, declaring the good news … for he was the beginning of the deliverance of Good News.

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What do you need to live, that is not a necessity?

I was pondering that question the other day, when, out of the blue a quote by CS Lewis (above) appeared on my Instagram feed (hum … maybe technology is now, not just listening to what we say, but now reading minds?).

Maslow had his Hierarchy of Needs, the Bible says that God supples all of our needs (Philippians 4:19) and, when disasters strike, humanitarian organizations strive to provide medical care, water, food and and shelter.

When I think of basic human needs they include water, food and shelter. But then there are rest, clothing and purpose followed by love, faith and community.

Yet, when I think of life beyond just survival, beyond just living …

I think of sunsets, walking under a canopy of trees, listening to music that brings you to tears, seeing a painting that stirs something deep within, reading a poem that reveals your heart, opening the door to an ecstatic fur friend, a hug from a loved one, flowers in bloom … there is just so much more. So much in our world and lives that, perhaps our hearts would still beat without, but … would it want to?

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In 1969 the term Helicopter Parent (HP) was first coined in a book called “Between Parent & Teenager.” But it was in the 1990s when the phrase became part of our conversations.

This generation planned play dates, scheduled extracurricular sports, lessons and tutoring, pushed towards a failure-resistant future. HPs are known for being over-involved in their children’s friendships, schooling (even university), housing (of adults) and future plans.

Since I entered the realm of parenting in the early 90s, I am part of the generation of parents who were considered ones who hovered over our children (though I am from Generation X, not the typical Boomers, who represent the copter parents). We are the first generation who notoriously feared for our children’s every move. Our elementary-aged children were not typically ones who left the house after breakfast and not return until lunchtime.

The thing is, helicopters eventually need to land.

The same could be said for parenting.

Chuck Yeager (a pilot who broke the sound barrier) said,

“If you want to grow old as a pilot,
you’ve got to know when to push it,
and when to back off.”

He could have been speaking, equally, about parenting. For, even those of us who have spent our parenting years hovering over our kids, eventually need to land … backing away from the controls, allowing them to take total control of their own flights.

And, you know what, there will be dangers, and uncertainties, and failures, and life-altering decisions … this is part of life and living … and it is the only way for one to learn their own way.

As I was reading interesting facts about aviation, something stood out to me.

Periodically, pilots on a plane place the controls in the hands of George, saying, “George is flying the plane now.” George is simply reference to the autopilot system of preprogrammed direction, speed, etc. This gives the pilot opportunity to address other issues related to flying.

When I read about this I found myself snickering, thinking that perhaps we helicopter parents need to rely on George, the autopilot … or, by another name, on God, the co-pilot of all of our lives. This is the only way to back off wisely.

What our adult children need most is not security from harm, heartbreak and failures, but opportunity to learn from their mistakes, build resilience in relationships that don’t always go as hoped and develop an understanding that failure is ways we learn. All of that leads each of us to look for someone to be our co-pilot … God.

Helicopter parents, it’s time to let George fly.

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Do your Monday thoughts begin on Sunday?

For years (though I love my job) I would awaken on Sunday mornings with regret in my heart … for once Sunday had come to it’s natural end, Monday followed. It was as though the door to Monday was already being opened on Sunday, leaving a dark shadow of the end of the weekend before it had even finished.

It is good that we can enjoy of ‘off’ days, our fun days, our free time days. It is not good, though, when we wish away time, in search of other time.

The NIV (New International Version) of Psalm 90:12 tells us:

“teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

but it is in the New Living Translation that more clarity of meaning is communicated:

“teach us to realize the brevity of life,
so that we may grow in wisdom.”

Brevity … how short our life’s span.

These Sundays of awakening with thoughts of regret for the end of the weekend, the Spring Break, the holidays … these are moments when we are not acknowledging the brevity of our lives (and I am most certainly, guilty of such thoughts). These are moments when we are not availing ourselves to the wisdom that God gives.

Welcome to Monday … what a privilege to be here!

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