Friday, March 28, 2014

Day Twenty One

This afternoon, while watching my two year have a melt down because one of his toys had broke, I was reminded how foolish I can be when I don’t get my own way. Earlier in the week I had thrown my own version of a temper tantrum (that didn’t involve thrashing or crying or throwing things, although that would have been funny) when someone made a decision I wasn’t very fond of. Their decision threw me off - it was unexpected and somewhat discouraging. My first reaction was to tell them how disappointed I was and to try and get them to change their mind.
It becomes easy for us to think of Lent as a season where we try to take control of our lives - especially when we are giving up things that we really love and enjoy. We know we should spend more time with God, so we cut out television to "whip ourselves into shape." Or, we know we rely on too many things for comfort, so we give up coffee in order to feel a deeper hunger for God. It can easily become about having enough will-power to stay in the game and not give into temptation.
But I can’t help but feel that Lent is less about trying to gain control over our bad habits and character flaws and more about learning to give up complete control to the One who longs to transform us into his image. It's a subtle difference on the surface, but a big difference in the posture we take in seeing transformation happen.
The posture we take when we are trying to gain control entails hovering over it, taking it by the reigns, having power over it. It is active and sometimes aggressive. On the flip side, giving UP control implies becoming lower, humble, vulnerable. I imagine being on my knees, hands stretched open, at the mercy of someOne else - waiting, listening, allowing something to happen in me instead of making something happen in my own strength.
It is a natural reaction to be upset when things don’t go our way or discouraged when we ourselves don't act the way we expected we would. It is natural to feel hurt and angry and upset in some way. But where do we go from there? We will take the take-it-in-our-own hands, will-power approach? Or, will be get on our knees and let go, trusting that God's love is fully transformational?
“To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude towards life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God’s love and not according to our fear. The spiritual life is a life which we wait, actively present to the moment, trusting that the new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.” – Henri Nouwen

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day Ten - Muffins & Coffee, Rehab & Lent

Today I showed up with muffins and coffee for a group of people who were helping a friend move in the downtown area. To my dismay they had finished cleaning out her apartment and had left already. In the past I had gone downtown to hand out hot drinks to anyone who might need one, so I immediately thought that maybe the hot coffees could be used for some good.
Right after this thought occurred to me, I witnessed a man on the street walk smack dab into a sign pole. Ouch! I immediately offered the man (& his girlfriend) the hot drinks and muffins and they literally said to me, "You are a God-sent." As we chatted for a bit, I found out they were on their way to McDonalds to find refuge from their home which they alluded to as being a place of drug abuse. They asked about my life and where I was from and what I did. I told them about UCC and they asked if they could come to church. They didn't have a phone so I got address so that I could drop off a note or drop in and say hi. They said they were looking for support for the next 8 months until they can go into rehab.

I must be careful that I don't get excited about the IDEA of helping people. Handing out a coffee and muffin might have been a highlight of my day and even their day. It is a simple act of saying "you are loved" or "there is someone looking out for you." But, there is still so much more to really seeing God's healing waters restore people's lives, including my own.
I share this story today because I feel like encounters like these help our Lenten journey. I am reminded that while we fast we become more aware. We become more aware of our deeper needs (not just want we 'want' but what we 'long for') and more aware of the needs around us. When we journey through our own struggles, our own pain....when we journey with the pain Jesus experienced, we are also entering into the pain of the world.
I love how N.T. Wright compels us into joining with God in making things right. He says, "We, his people, are called here, in this community and every community, to carry on his work of setting things right - not in big, loud campaigns, or pretending that we know the answer to complicated questions, but in the quiet, steady work of coming alongside people in need or sorrow or pain, of praying for and with people in trouble or difficulty, of quietly bringing light into dark places and hope into sad lives. There is more to being the church than that, but not less."
So, today...as you continue to journey along. Ask yourself, how is my awareness growing? Where do I see things that need to be made right - in you and in others? What will it mean for you to commit to the quiet, steady work of coming alongside people in need or sorrow or pain?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day One

I'm entering the season of Lent this year tired, exhausted actually. Also, I'm somewhat confused about where I am and where I'm going. These last few years have been a season none like any other, that's for sure. I feel like I have been in the desert. Weary, dry, weak and even imagining sources of water that have only disappointed.

Sometimes we enter a desert season without a choice. Life happens. Things don't go as planned. We don't get that job we were hoping for. Illness takes over our body. Someone close to us dies. We feel like we've been disappointed too many times and we feel like we've disappointed others too many times. Sometimes the desert finds us so suddenly that our feet are buried in the sand before we even have time to think.

And sometimes we enter a desert as a choice. That is how I see Lent.  By denying or limiting my own body of things that I really, really want....like chocolate and coffee and extra helpings of food, I feel the deepest part of my heart saying "Lord, I'm yours. You know my deepest needs. Why do I pretend to know what I need? Here is some space for you to show me just how much I need You."

Henri Nouwen says that "to live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude."

We've all experienced the twinge of loneliness. And many of us who journey through Lent will experience loneliness to a greater degree than we have before. This is because as we become aware of how quickly we fill our emptiness with relationships, social media, shopping and eating, we come in greater contact with the truest part of us that longs to be in relationship with the Creator, who also longs to be with us. We realize how often we turn to other things for comfort and pleasure, temporary fixes and emotional highs just to feel like we have some company along life's journey.

Nouwen continues, "The movement from loneliness to solitude, however, is the beginning of any spiritual life because it is the movement from the restless senses to the restful spirit, from the out-ward-reaching cravings to the inward-reaching search, from the fearful clinging to the fearless play."

This is a beginning - a beginning to Lent, a beginning to a journey, the beginning of something new. The motivation for me is being fed up with the restlessness and out-ward-reaching ways of living in life's desert - and deeply longing for the greatest company in my life to be the Beloved.

As you embark on this journey, may you find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness where you confront your restlessness and experience his presence bringing rest to you. May you catch a glimpse of what life could be with God as your greatest company.




Monday, January 14, 2013

you are the beloved

you are off in the distance
but even still I see your kindness
your radiance
you are slow and swift
gentle and strong
intentional, yet effortless
it is love



Saturday, January 12, 2013

winter sun and sky






oh winter sun and sky
you call me out
of hibernation
where i crawled to die

sleepless slumber
and darkened night
now you call me into the light

bright sadness
oh, glorious sadness
overexposed sadness
i almost can't see you now.







Sunday, April 1, 2012

like the crowds

like the crowds,
we come with all our hopes and fears,
our almost forgotten dreams,
to catch a glimpse of you.

like the crowds,
with our heads lifted high,
there's a bit of blue sky.
could you be the one
we've been waiting for?


like the crowds,
we sense your presence
and feel your eyes on us
and lay down our desires
in hopes you'll be the one.


like the crowds,
we rejoice in who
we hope you will be
and our faith creates a path
- a place for you to move.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It is so hard to write. And I've thought hard about why this is and I think its because it feels like there is so much to say. I've written several entries without posting them because what I want to convey does not come across like it is in my head. So, I post photos instead.

So, I'm forcing myself today.

Today feels more like a normal day. More normal than the last week has felt. (This does not mean, however, we have achieved a sense of normality here in Windsor yet). Ben is not fully recovered from his surgery (his appendix burst last weekend), but he can move around alright and can hold Joey now. Needless to say, it's amazing what you can do with just one hand if you put your mind to it. Not to mention that taking showers became a rarity. I got two last week. (ewww!) This week there will be more, I promise!

So, I sit here with my cup of awake, thinking about the last week. With Ben being in a lot of pain and unable to do a lot around the house, I found myself stepping up to the challenge in a unique way. It's funny how we can find strength to do everything one week and can barely muster up the energy to fold the laundry the next. But when everything depended on me, I was seemingly able to tap into a deeper well of energy and motivation.

And if I thought time and sleep were precious before Ben went into the hospital, I certainly know now. Even being able to sit with a cup of tea and write this feels like a huge blessing. With the craziness of last week behind me, I'm more likely to think wisely about how I spend my time.

Sure it feels good to get the laundry folded and put away before everyone goes to bed, but reading an extra book with Jack and singing a few songs to him while he falls asleep is priceless. And sure, it feels satisfying to watch Survivor to know that the meanest contestant had to leave the island due to illness, but there's something even more satisfying about having a meaningful conversation with my neighbour down the street about the craziness of life.

There is a time for everything. For me it's just a matter of figuring out what 'thing' is most life-giving in the moment. It's easier to not try and figure it out, but life is harder when I don't. For now, I will enjoy this cup of tea and get to the laundry later. Maybe it's laziness. Maybe it's just what's right right now.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Taloola

My sister-in-law recently took me to Taloola Cafe in Walkerville! Let's just say it's my new favourite place to hang out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Jack is back

Today my Jack came back.

Since moving here and having the baby I've felt quite distant from Jack. I guess this is to be expected since most of my time is spent with Joey, leaving me with little time for Jack. And even though it hasn't seemed like another body in our family affected Jack much, it has. Even though he loves his baby brother, he has more moody and high-strung which has resulted in poor listening skills and crazy-person tendencies.  And even though I was certain that the answer to this was to spend more time with him, it's been easier to pass him off to Ben and only "show up" when things get out of hand.

Today I kind of had a break through. I don't know what it was, but I suddenly remembered how I used to be with him. And instead of being a mom to Joey and "Jack's old mom", instead of reacting to his odd behaviour, I started to do some of the same things I used to do with him when Joey wasn't around - coming up with silly games to fill the time, getting him excited about a new household project, taking him to Starbucks for a special drink. After some time with him I started to see him again. He was still Jack - the creative thinker, problem solver, helper, entertainer.


Later, I was sitting on the couch with Joey and glanced over at my bookshelf. I was reminded of something that I had read the week I found out I was pregnant with Joey. It was from a book by Henri Nouwen entitled 'Reaching Out' and there was a small section on being hospitable towards children that I promised I would never forget:

"It may sound strange to speak of the relationship between parents and children in terms of hospitality. But it belongs to the centre of the Christian message that children are not properties to own and rule over, but gifts to cherish and care for. Our children are our most important guests, who enter into our home, ask for careful attention and stay for a while and then leave to follow their own way. The hospitable home indeed is the place where father, mother and children can reveal their talents to each other, become present to each other as members of the same human family and support each other in their common struggles to live and make live. The awareness that children are guests can be a liberating awareness because many parents suffer from deep guilt feelings toward their children, thinking that they are responsible for everything their sons or daughters do. When they see their child living in ways they disapprove of, the parents may castigate themselves with the questions: "What did we do wrong? What should we have done to prevent this behavoiur?" and they may wonder where they failed. But children are not properties we can control as a puppeteer controls his puppets, or train as  lion tamer trains his lions. They are guests we have to respond to, not possessions we are responsible for."

As I reflect on the last few weeks, I recognize that most of my interactions with Jack have been to try and control his behaviour, especially when we're with others and my embarrassment gets the best of me. And although I believe that he is a reflection of me, the idea of seeing Jack as a guest in my home and responding to him as the unique individual he is, helps me relax. When I'm focused on trying to control him I forget that he is his own little person. I forget about the gifts he has to offer our family. I want to see Jack like a guest, and wonder - who is this little man? what gifts does he have to offer? what hidden treasure is within him? When I start asking these questions, instead of - how can I make him who I want him to be, I realize how life-giving he can be and what a joy and honour it is to have the opportunity to host him in my home, in my life.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

our growing family


Finally! Some photos of our growing family! It's crazy how fast newborns grow - I was afraid we would miss his tiny-ness. He's already out of his newborn diapers and growing out of clothes already. 

There's was only one incident where Joey peed on Jack. Jack thought it was hilarious until he felt it through his jeans. :P Oh, and of course, Jack had to have the spotlight for a bit:


Thursday, February 2, 2012

ta dah!

I've been delaying posting photos of our renovations because, well, they aren't done yet! Our kitchen is the most done (compared to the bathroom), so I thought I'd show you the progress. We still have some things to finish, like.... painting, putting up the back splash, kick boards and the shelving on the open wall. But, as you can see, it's taking shape. We are really happy with how it turned out, and although the space is extremely small, we made good use of it by using the height. The pot rack (besides looking cool) has really been helpful. I love reaching up rather then bending down all the time to cook. We have a huge pantry beside our fridge (not shown here) that holds so much food it's not funny. We have storage (cupboards and baskets) from bottom to top in our kitchen. And, because it's a small kitchen, the stove, fridge and sink are really close together which makes cooking really easy. You basically have to turn and you're where you need to be. Needless to say, we are really happy with the results. Can't wait 'til it's completely finished though!

before
after

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

okay

As I've been catching up on the blogs I follow I've realized that I've missed a lot. Not only have a missed a lot in their lives, but in my own life too. So much has happened in such a short time I cannot keep up with it. This is frustrating. I like to be able to process, to "take it all in", to know what I'm feeling and where my place is in the surroundings I find myself. Instead, I have not kept up with myself...there just hasn't been the time. And when I start thinking about the past few weeks or what the next few weeks will hold, I'm overwhelmed. All our stuff is in Windsor and I'm here in Waterloo sitting at my parents dining room table. Where is my home now? This is my last week of work and I was hoping to enjoy it...to soak it in, to hang out with friends...but instead I find myself feeling completely swamped with all the last minute details. I haven't started Christmas shopping and I will be in Windsor without Ben and without a car for the four days before Christmas, (baking will have to do!) I'm having a baby in four weeks and I don't have a midwife or a doctor. I don't even feel capable to find one. I think I'll just show up at emerge and tell them I'm in labour. btw, where is the hospital? And here's the thing - I know everything will be okay. No, everything won't work out the way I had hoped or expected it to, but it will be okay. But in the meantime, in the craziness of life, how do I get through, especially when I don't want to just "get through"? Can it be okay right now?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The new house & renos so far

This past week we got the keys to our new place! We arrived Thursday night to start working on the place. I didn't do much except ponder paint colours, tidy up a bit, assemble some cabinets and probably breath in too much dust! We didn't get as much done as we had hoped, but the work is continuing and we have so many great friends to thank for this!

The cutest little owl door knocker ever! For some reason I didn't notice it until we got the keys!
leftovers :)
The kitchen before we got possession: fridge and stove were "floating" in the room and there was hardly any storage & cupboard space. Not to mention the florescent wall colour and window covering!
The first thing Ben did in the house was rip off the tie-dyed curtain. 
Jack took up all the kitchen flooring by himself!
Demolition time! Ben's brother, Brian and his daughter, Erica did a HUGE amount of demolition and clean-up!
rotting counter top!
Besides many other jobs, Curtis built a bulk head and put in some pot lights for us! who hoo!
The bathroom before we got possession: bare wood counter tops, sink with separate hot and cold taps (which I think is cool but not great for small children), an enclosed claw foot tub with broken tiled top, and not-so-straight tiled flooring. The bathroom also had a lot of moisture damage which meant that we had to tear down ALL the walls!
Yes, this is the bathroom if you can believe it!
and again.
The Curtis Team that did a TON of work! Thank-you! Thank-you! Thank-you!
My amazing hubby who did so much work this past weekend!

Jack breaking up the fireplace tiles....he loves to smash things!

We had such an amazing crew of people (Brian & Erica, Curtis & Curtis, Joel, Suzie, Steve, Jasmin, Jade, Bob, Ben's parents, a woman I had never met before who brought us a chili dinner!) helping out with us this past weekend, not to mention that my sister and brother in law (Suzie & Steve) have been there 
every day this week painting and doing numerous other things! 
I am so grateful for the love we've be getting.

ice+sun= inspirational morning drive