Monday, December 10, 2007

Top 5...

Well, it's about time.
And this may be somewhat random.
But the truth is that there have been lots of things to write about in the last 2.5 months, somehow it just didn't happen.
So here's hoping.

5. 19 years is a long time. More than 2/3 of my life. I was at hockey practice on Saturday morning and the kids were supposed to be skating a hard lap. One of the boys slowed down and came over to me and I tried to hustle him on, telling him that he was supposed to be giving it 110%. And he looked at me and said, "But I just wanted to wish you a happy anniversary!" I apologized profusely and allowed myself to recognize the blessing of my kids in my life. God uses them often and when my eyes are open and my heart is loving Him and loving them, I am overwhelmed by His goodness to me through them.

4. Report cards suck the life out of a person. Don't get me wrong. I love writing them. It's time that I wish I took more often to sit back, to reflect, and to see how much growing and learning and loving and working is taking place in the lives of my kids and in my own life. But it's exhausting. I finally feel like I'm getting my life back and now I'm supposed to go to Christmas concerts/parties/and do the shopping and decorating. But my head and my heart are back, I think. And for the record, they were finished in a more organized fashion and earlier than ever before in my 5.3333333333333 years of teaching.

3. My friends are God's gift to me each and every day. In the last couple of months, I dare say that I've had some pivotal moments with more than one of my friends. Conversations that challenge me, conversations that encourage me. Conversations that call me to be better and more, conversations that remind me that even when I could be better and more - I'm still doing some things right and good. Conversations that demonstrated deep vulnerability and tears. Conversations that let me in deeper - and where I let others in more deeply, too. There have also been moments of grace. Sharper skates, picture frames, emails, prayers, bedtime stories, homemade chicken noodle soup, and words like "warm", "trust", "thanks", and "I'm sorry."

2. We are part of a story. Our message Sunday morning was a reminder of the story God is writing and has been writing since the beginning of time. Each of us is part of the story - we are not only characters in it, but co-authors. If we want to really make our part of the story the best that it can be, we need to allow God to be at work in us - trusting that He will keep writing and editing, and serving Him as best as we can with the different gifts He has given us. Trying to be a different character in the story won't make the story better.

1. Belgic confession article 21 (I think - we read it last night at church and it was in that confession somewhere!) says something to the effect of "He died for sins he didn't commit...". I've been going through the prophesies of Isaiah with my kids at school. I love the prophesies. They scream out of a God who keeps His promises - over and over and over. Tomorrow we start week 3 of Advent (a little early I know, but we run out of days at school...) and we will be celebrating the candle of joy. God made Himself human for us. We're quick to throw blame elsewhere - when we've done something wrong we often have to force ourselves to own up to it. How hard can it be to say sorry? He didn't just own up to what He'd done - because He hadn't done a thing. "He died for sins He didn't commit." Gets me every time.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A New Kind of Church

So yesterday I slept in.

Not really a big surprise.
It's kind of a thing I'm known to do.
Not a thing I'm particularly proud of,
But my life.

My roommate was gone for a couple of days and so I slept on the couch.
I love sleeping on the couch.
Trouble is
that once the alarm on my phone goes off 3 times,
there's no back up alarm clock.

And heh.
Suddenly it was 9:50 and church starts at 10.
It was my Sunday to do a sermon evaluation
as well as my turn to play youth leader because our other leaders were off with the high school group.
So, dressed I got
and drove off to walk in late.
The trick is
that there were no open seats near an end.
And the minister had already started the sermon.

And then I looked around.
There were 7 or 8 others standing or sitting in the back foyer.
Almost a whole congregation unto ourselves.
I stood beside a woman and we started to chat.
Not necessarily protocol for listening to a sermon,
but we chatted nonetheless.
And it was good.
We kind of were "the church" for a bit.
We talked about ministry opportunities,
responded to points being made,
asked each other questions about parts we were unsure of,
discussed the tough parts of the Scripture passages,
and applied them to our own lives.

And then there was Communion.
We discussed for a moment
the options we had with regards to actually participating,
finally concluding that we couldn't really do so without disrupting what was going on beyond the glass doors ahead of us.
Until the serving elder came to the back door,
caught my eye
and I smiled.
He came out and served us,
and the 6 others,
the bread and grape juice.
And in our small gathering,
we celebrated Christ together.
Totally differently.
But really great.
There was even something great about going around to each of the standers and sitters and collecting their grape juice cups.
Funny how God works sometimes...

Not that I'm recommending showing up late for church on a regular basis,
or sleeping through alarms to miss some of the more important details of life,
or trying to skip out on Communion,
but I really went to church yesterday.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Innocent faith and awe

Our camp pastor this week was explaining to the kids how much God loves us.
It's a tough concept to get across.
Hard for us to understand.
More than we can possibly imagine.
And in a quiet pause following his explanation,
a 7 year old voice from the front row of boys called out
completely honestly, and innocently.
"Even more than my mom and dad?"

"Yes," was the reply.
"Even more than your mom and dad."


"Let the little children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven."

I might add,
that I was so wonderfully encouraged as well
by the fact that this kid knows beyond a doubt
how much his parents love him.
I teach kids every day who aren't always sure.
Maybe that's part of being 10 and not 7.
Of realizing that your parents aren't perfect.
But for now,
I just want to revel in his complete surety
of his parents' love.

I pray that he can be that sure of his Father's love, too.

Monday, August 06, 2007

How S"weed" it Is

garden flowers

The man who led our prayer in church yesterday started off by telling us how he had been working in his son-in-laws fields and gardens earlier in the week.
He talked about growing the food we eat,
about growing it without pesticides,
and about how great it is to be outside,
taking part in the process.
He also talked about weeding
and how sometimes we need to pull out the bad stuff
in order for the good stuff to grow.
What caught me however, was that the weed he mentioned pulling
was the portulaca.

When I was a kid, we lived next door to a garden centre.
Every summer we got to go over there to buy a couple of flowers
and then we were given a piece of the family garden to call our own.
My first choice every year was the portulaca.
It is bright and colourful
and it looks a little bit different.
You might expect its stems and "leaves" to be sharp
but that's just their shape.
They are in fact, very soft.

What got me was that what to me was beautiful
to a vegetable farmer was a weed.

Sometimes our strengths -
the things that are our beauty -
are the same things that become or stumbling blocks.
They are like weeds that need to be pulled
or at least replanted in a better location.
A place where they can be used humbly
instead of with boastful pride;
where they can be used to serve
not to judge or pull rank.

It's the same with our weaknesses.
Within the right context,
with guidance and support
and patient prayer
they don't appear to be weaknesses at all.

I feel like this is cheesy - and not very fluid.
But you get the point?
I guess I've been off for too long! :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ridiculous, I know.

Hello to those of you who are still around and checking this business of the blog.
I feel that since it's vacation, I'm just taking a vacation from everything that I formerly knew as "my life."
Nothing is normal around here.
My life consists of school, church stuff, and well, okay, that's about it!

With school on holidays,
And church activities on holidays,
And weddings to attend,
And sleeping in to be done
And painting
And cleaning
And much reading - of the Harry Potter variety and otherwise
I feel as though my world is not really mine
And yet totally mine all at the same time.

This concept of doing my thing
on my time
or not doing it
is kind of foreign to me
and the truth is that I kind of stink at it.
Not at it, per-se (sp?)
But at being a good friend
and remembering that the world does not revolve around me
although it's kind of fun when it does
for just a little while.

What's new and exciting?
I have a new hood on my car.
I saw Nate, Shawna, and Kaase last weekend.
I spent the week before that with Skips
and Bennett
and Brian and Shara and Larissa and Dave.
It's good.
And I got to play some ultimate.
And I started painting the trim on my house
and I bought stuff to do yard work - although it's too crazy hot to actually do the yard work
And, very exciting, I am going to go on an insulin pump.
That's craziness.
But very good, I think.
It's all happening a lot quicker than I had planned for.
But what do I know.
My plans never seem to be the same as the way things actually turn out.
And most of the time I'm okay with that.
Or learning to be okay with that anyway.

So, for those of you who are as "very excited" as I am, you can check out and see the cool one that also tests your blood sugar every 5 minutes. Yup. You heard it here. I am actually excited about testing blood sugar. Stranger things may not have happened. :)

This is the new pump and blood testing sensor thing - only that's the old/big glucose sensor and transmitter. The new set, which is the size of a stack of 4 quarters is pictured below:

That's all for now.
I'll be back sooner.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Worth a few tears...

I had the great honour of being invited to one of my kids' baptism today. I wasn't really sure what to expect as we all gathered in someone's backyard around the deck and swimming pool with coffee in hand and 7 people with trunks and towels at their sides.

The people getting baptised were asked to share a little bit.
There's something wonderful about hearing a 10 year old get up in front of a microphone and in front of his church members and the friends he had invited say, "This is how Jesus has made a difference in my life..."
And to do it confidently -
not ashamed at all of what he believes and Who he's living for.

I think I read something once about having the faith of a child.
Okay, so I've read it more than once.
I was blessed.
To tears.

God is faithful
and He is good.
And He continues to make Himself known.

Monday, June 04, 2007

I wish I had a picture...

but I don't.

On Saturday night
I watched the moon rise.
I've watched the moon come out before,
but never like this.

We were out in a canoe on the lake.
The sky was mostly clear
we could see the stars
the water was still
and there were two bands of cloud.

We could literally see the moon rising -
the brightness peaking - and then pouring out
above the band of clouds in a matter of minutes.
Intensely orange against the dark sky.
Only to be covered again by the second band of clouds,
but always a hue of brightness poking out the bottom
and then pushing over the top.
I could have laid back in that canoe for hours
just watching the moon
and the stars
and hearing the "silence"
that exists in calling loons and water lightly lapping at the side of the boat.

I couldn't get Psalm 8 out of my head.
I tell my students to really learn their Bible Memory verses
because those verses will come back to them when they least expect it.

And thus, Psalm 8.

"When I consider the heavens
the work of Your fingers
the moon and stars that You have set in place.
What is man that You are mindful of him?
The son of man that You care for him?"

He put the moon and stars in place.
Right there.
Thousands of miles away.
Creating light
forming constellations.
And then He put me there.
And my friends in our canoe.
To be still and know
to be peacefully in awe
of our awesome Creator
and the incredible beauty He designed in the moon rising over the water and above the clouds.

"O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Embarrassed to quote my source...

I've had a few rambling thoughts today.
Some that got rambled out in my head.
Some that aren't finished rambling yet.
And some that have been rambling for awhile -
finally needing to be expressed.

Most of this rambling started a week ago when I read some sermons from this great guy I know who has been a preacher for about as many years as I have been alive (go Dad!).

He was talking about Jesus journey to the cross
from childhood until he is crucified,
and how Jesus never demonstrates the emotion of fear.
Sorrow, yes.
Anguish, yes.
But fear? No.

There is something about Him that is completely unfathomable to us.
We cannot,
no matter how intensely we try,
imagine a world or a life without fear.
By that and through that,
we can never totally love the way that God intended us to.

I heard someone say last week
(this is the source I am to embarrassed to acknowledge - I'm sure they don't mind!)
That "when you're dealing with choices - you have 2 perspectives:
How would love decide,
and how would fear decide."
The person who said it followed this with,
"You have to let love decide."

The combination of those two thoughts puts me all over the place.
With God.
With friends and family.
With people who I've had deeper relationships with.

Fear that it won't turn out the way I want it to.
Fear that God's will isn't the same as what my eyes see or my heart feels.
Fear that I will be hurt.
Fear that I will really have to love seventy times seven times.
Fear that I will be taken advantage of if I love as Christ loves.
Fear that I understand the example Christ has set before me incorrectly and thus my love is not really a reflection of His.

What it comes back to is that I need never fear His love.
He IS love.
It won't fail.
He always protects.
His mercies are new every morning.
He is faithful.

He loves me.
And wants me to delight in Him,
in His love,
and in loving Him in return
more than anything else.

"Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Monday, May 07, 2007

Beg, Borrow, and Steal

So maybe I won't call it cheating.
Because if I do,
I may have to claim it as one of my gifts.
When I was at Dordt
our Education profs always told us
to "Beg, borrow, and steal."
Basically they wanted to tell us
that we don't have to reinvent the wheel.
If there's good stuff out there
then use it.
By all means.

So, with that in mind,
I have a new favourite song.
I know that my last one is only a week old.
Yup, that's me.
Flavour of the week.
Anyway, it's repetitive,
but not annoyingly so.
It's just an earnest prayer.

May it be mine...
and yours.

Erase - by Geoff Moore

Erase all that's different between us
Until nothing ever separates us
and we love like You love
And we ache when You ache
And our heart is undone
By what makes Your heart break
And we hear what You hear
And we see what You see
And the difference is erased
Erase all the distance between us.

Replace all the space with Your presence
Until we love like You love
And we ache when You ache
and our hearts are undone
By what makes Your heart break
And we hear what You hear
and we see what You see
And the distance is erased.

So build me up
Or tear me down
Until Your heart is all that's found
I want to love like You love
I want to ache when You ache
I want my heart to be undone
By what makes Your heart break
I want to hear what You hear
I want to see what You see
Until the distance is erased
Between us.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cheating a bit...

So, maybe it's cheating.
But I like to share things that are meaningful.
And if what's meaningful to me as of late
just so happens to be the words
of someone else's song
well, then, too bad.
I'm cheating.

I've had song 7 repeating in my car from Mercy Me - Spoken For
over and over for the last couple of days.
The song is "Word of God Speak".
And that's really all I've got.
He's good and faithful.

Here it is:

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
and the funny thing is it's OK
The last thing I need is to be heard,
but to hear what You would say.

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak.

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Where Are We, Lord?

"Where are You, Lord?"
A question I think many of us have asked at one point in time.
Probably more often than once.
Perhaps a question that came up in the last number of days.

The events at Virginia Tech this past week have hit me in a lot of different ways; a few that I'll keep to myself, but a few that I think are worth sharing.

I was reading in Luke today - the story where Jesus drives out Legion into the herd of pigs and they run off the cliff and die.

We hear in the news that the shooter had a history of mental illness and police had been called because of unsettling encounters others had with him in the past. And I can't help but think about how quick we are to want to throw blame at someone and ask why people didn't respond differently to the "warning signs." His professor described him as "extraordinarily lonely - the loneliest person I have ever met in my life."

My question instead, is, "Where are we, Lord?"

When I read the story of the man who had Legion living in him, we are told that the man had gone crazy, we also read that he was tied up in chains.
I wonder where we were.
Did he have family who visited him in the hillside tombs where he lived?
Did he have friends that checked in on him every few days to see how he was doing?
Were their people in his life that continued to love him even though Legion often took total control of him?

What happened in Virginia this week was horrific.
Don't get me wrong.
I can't imagine,
and don't even want to,
what it was like to be held at gunpoint
or to block a doorway to save the lives of my students
or to try to escape, only to find the doors chained shut.
I can't imagine what it would take to walk back into those buildings
to go back to class and not be afraid that it will happen again.
I can't imagine losing a friend or sibling in circumstances like this.

But I think we're missing a piece.

I'm not saying that reporting this man to police on prior occasions was wrong.
I'm not saying that professor who saw the signs and tried to raise flags and spent one on one time tutoring him didn't do her best...because I really think she did.

But it spurred me to ask what Jesus would have done.
And then to ask what difference it makes that I am called to be like Him.

Jesus greets the demon possessed man.
In fact, He greets the demon.

The townspeople had locked him up.
"We" called the police.
"We" let him be the "loner".
Did "we" also love him?
Did "we" let him know that he was a valued person, created in the image of God?

Did the man who suffered from mental illness,
the man whose family "never could have envisioned that he was capable of so much violence,"
the man who was described as quiet, withdrawn, "the question mark kid",
a man who was obviously hurting,
did he have friends who checked in on him?
Did he have people in his life who knew how much he hurt?
What made him feel so incredibly lost and alone?
What a miserable and sad life he endured if it brought him to a point of feeling like killing those around him and finally killing himself was the only way.

I'm not trying to blame anyone.
Or take the responsibility of what happened away from the man who has left many hurting people behind.

What I really hope and pray
is that instead of turning around
and telling his family that their apology means nothing
instead of second guessing his peers,
the police,
the higher ups at the university,
let's recognize that we live in a broken world.
Let's recognize the hurt that he felt.
Let's recognize that there are people who tried to reach out to him.
Let's recognize that Jesus greeted the demon.

And let us pray for his family.
Yes, for the families of the victims.
But for his family, too.
The hurt inside their brother and son
was very probably something that they were helpless to understand.

May they come to know and understand God's grace.
May we be the hands and feet of Jesus.
May they experience God's grace as we extend it to them.
May we live the difference that it makes that we are called to be like Christ.
Who also gave his life for the criminal on the cross beside Him.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Thomas The Twin

Have you ever thought that we're pretty hard on Thomas?
He has gone down in history as the doubter.
That's how he is remembered.
No one speaks about him as the guy who wanted to be sure of the truth.
Nobody tells stories about how he was speared to death in the interest of spreading the Gospel.

Think about it a minute.
One of his best friends had gone from being welcomed into Jerusalem with Hosannas
to being arrested and crucified
in a matter of a week.
You want to talk about an emotional roller coaster?
Up, down -
confusion, sadness, helplessness, guilt for leaving Him with the guards -
He knew how Jesus had died.
I'm not sure if he watched the crucifixion or not,
but it doesn't really matter.
It was the talk of the town, I'm sure.

Either way, if I put myself into his sandals for just a short moment
and imagine where I would have been at
I can't come up with much more than
"emotional wreck".

I'm a skeptic with simple things
like if Grenadine syrup is really made from pomegranates.
And that won't really affect my life.
It won't change my emotions
or put into question what I have devoted my life to for the last 3 years.
I didn't leave my job
to walk the country side
learning the truth
and then sharing the Good News of what I had learned.

But Thomas had been in the inner circle.
Not only did Jesus know him,
but he knew Jesus.
He loved Jesus.
And, just like you or I would have,
he doubted the reality that Jesus could really be alive.
In fact, if anything,
I think we should commend him for his honesty.
He said what I'm sure some of the other disciples were thinking.

And that gets me to "Thomas the Twin".
I learned today that the name Thomas means twin.
And I think there is some incredible irony there.
Perhaps it is God quietly putting His sense of humour
into what He knows is generations of people who just don't get it.

We single Thomas out as someone different.
He is remembered all on his own
as the guy who didn't believe.

In truth, he is probably the disciple that many of us are like.
Our "twin", if you will.
If I am honest with myself,
there are a lot of things I doubt.
I know that God can heal cancer.
I know that God can bring reprieve to those who suffer from depression.
I know that God loves me even though I mess up over and over and over.
I know that life is better when God is control instead of me.
I know that God holds each one of us in His hands
even if it seems that He lets us go from time to time.
I know a lot of things.
But do I really live in a way that demonstrates that I believe them?
Or maybe the better question is,
"Do I really believe them?"
Because if I do,
there are parts of my life that should be different;
Parts of my life that should demonstrate this faith just on their own.
I shouldn't have to remind myself what I believe
if I really believe it.

Sometimes we say that we are the biggest critics of the characteristics of others that we hate in ourselves.
Thomas, I would like to say,
is my equal.
Instead of singling him out,
perhaps I should join him
and acknowledge my lack of faith.
He brings out that part of me that doubts;
the part of me that knows the answer
but doesn't act on it
because feeling it in my heart
and allowing it to transform me
takes more than just knowing.

It takes believing.
And it means surrendering myself to the Spirit of God.
I'm not really good at surrender.

Perhaps a good place to start
is with Thomas' words of greeting for Jesus
"My Lord and my God"...
humble me, that I may truly believe
and so live the joy of the resurrection.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Resurrection...

We read the resurrection story from Matthew on Sunday,
and I was struck by how the angel comes to roll away the stone
and then, it says, he sits on it.
The ground is quaking,
the guards shake and fall to the ground like dead men,
the women are afraid,
and the angel sits.
He is not surprised or afraid.
He knows what God has done and will continue to do.
There doesn't appear to be any part of him
that feels rattled by the situation,
rather there is a peace and relaxed strength about him.
He sits as if to say,
"My God keeps His promises.
I'm here as a messenger,
but I am at peace and confident that God is the victor
and I have nothing to fear."
He sits.
He knows and trusts in God's faithfulness
and in the promise of the resurrection.
He sits.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ahh, the Mountains...

I had the incredible privilege this past weekend
of being reminded of just how small and insignificant I am.
I need that.
Especially when it is coupled with the thought
that even though I am small and insignificant
I am loved
and given more grace than I could ever deserve.

It doesn't take much for me to be humbled when I'm in the mountains.
Almost nothing actually.

The first day we had incredibly clear views of the surrounding peaks.
"Stand in awe of God" seemed a simple task.
The second day it was cloudy.
Peaks covered with clouds.
Sun-rays peaking through.
And yesterday's "simple task"
seemed even simpler.

At one point, I found myself in the middle of a black diamond mogul hill.
(What I was doing there is a whole other story.)
I stopped and just started to laugh.
Looking around was incredible.
It was steep.
We were surround by evergreens
and mountains
and more mountains.
And all I could do
was be in awe.

For part of the afternoon
a friend and I took off our skis halfway down the mountain.
We carried them across the trail
and sat on the side slope that faced the surrounding mountains.
And just took it all in.

When I got up and continued skiing down the hill
I proceeded to sing.
Yeah, out loud.
And quite loud.
Going down the mountain with my arms out wide
(poles, too - don't worry, I did shoulder check to make sure I wasn't going to take anyone's eyes out...)
the way I used to walk on the sidewalk to Southview
and run around the soccer field
taking it all in
and offering it all up.

I got some strange looks,
but it didn't matter.

In the van on the way home,
we were listening to a CD that seemed to keep pumping out songs that hit my heart.
And there I was.
Small and insignificant indeed.
But listening to God instead of indirectly yet incessantly
telling Him that it's all about me.

"How refreshing to know You don't need me
How amazing to find that you want me." (Casting Crowns)

Ahh, the mountains.
And the One who carved them out...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

...and blessed.

So I shared in my last post that I am spoiled.
I would like to acknowledge this time how I am blessed.

A mom of some of the youth in our church decided that she likes me.
How nice!
For real, though, she wanted to do something for me.
It started out by offering me licorice.
I turned down the licorice not knowing when she asked
that she had bought some to share with me
to say thanks for working with her kids.

Two weeks later at youth group,
she asked if I wanted a piano.
From licorice to a piano?
Yes, indeed.
As part of receiving a newer piano and being asked to "pay it forward"
she blessed me with her piano.

I have already spent many late nights playing all the old pieces I learned in elementary school.
And I'm thrilled to get it tuned
to play
and to learn more.
It's wonderfully relaxing.
And I sing on the inside while I play.

Here it is in my living room.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Oh, sadness...

Well, I promised someone that I would keep the world updated on my now incognito mode of transportation. Sadly, and I do mean sadly, my good friend "Blue Lightning" (as she was named by one of my students - May I note that at the time I did NOT know that the cheerleaders for the Blue Bombers are also called Blue Lightning) was towed away last week. She served me well. And I took a picture of her from my front porch before I left for school on Tuesday.

However, my new car - yet to be named - is serving me very well. I was delighted to have my wonderful father come to visit and assist in the purchasing process. I am spoiled. I turned the odometer over 200 clicks today. It's pure craziness. And I used the trunk for groceries for the first time, too. It's small stuff, I know.
But fun. Here is my new friend and companion. Perhaps it will have to be a he this time around. It may be my lifelong companion. (I have no spoiler on mine...didn't want to spoil 'er...okay, maybe it's still a she...)

Monday, March 05, 2007


I'm not always very good at explaining what goes on in my head.
Writing helps a lot.
That seems to be where my honesty meets my thoughts and emotions.

Funny thing about not being a good explainer -
I'm a teacher.
I hope I'm better at explaining the world than I am at explaining myself.

I've been reading bits and pieces of other people's lives
through emails and blogs and books
and coming to discover that sometimes they say it better than I can.

There's a big part of me that's exhausted.
A big part of me that's okay.
A big part of me that knows that God hasn't
and won't
leave me on my own.
And somehow doors keep opening
and people keep stepping up to the plate
(I think some of them have hit a whole inning on their own for me).

Lots of them I didn't even call in.
But the Head Coach,
He let them know I needed a pinch-hitter.
And there they were.

I don't have a lot of words to describe that in a better way
except to say:
I'm getting a new car.
My students are still alive - and doing well, I think. :)
My marking is finished.
I have been given more time to work on my report cards.
I have a taxi service :) and place to be while my current car is out of commission.
I get to see my dad this week.
I got to chat with my grandma this morning.
I have a student who wants to fail grade 5 so she can be in my class again.
I don't have to make a lunch tomorrow.
I didn't have to make supper on Friday.
I slept in yesterday.
And today.
I'm wearing my favourite sweater...for the lots-of-days in a row.
Only I washed it in between, so now it's even clean!
I had a great email from a good friend.

And as someone else's words put it:
"God is doing exactly what I need Him to do right now -
holding me and not letting me go."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

And God cries...

This afternoon after doing some reading
and taking some me and God time,
I went outside with some friends
and skated and played "hockey"
(as much as can be played with 4 people...)
but it was perfect weather.
And there was almost no one else on the rink.

And it got me away from me for awhile
which I needed it to do.

After having a head-on-butt encounter
(short girl bending knees while trying to get the puck
from tall guy standing straight, resulting in collision)
that left my neck a bit out of sorts,
I realized that time on the ice was winding down
and it was time to get back into my other world.
The real one.

It seems to me that lately brokenness in the world
has become bold and italicized.
It may be just in my own mind
and especially in my own heart
but I can't seem to shake it.
And maybe that's a good thing.
A humbling awareness of where I need to bring the light of the resurrection.
A humbling awareness of what it is that we are human and we fail.
And how great it is, then, that God loves us.

But it's a painful thing.
And I can't help but be aware that if it bothers me as much as it does
that it leaves me unable to sing How Great Thou Art -
not because He isn't great...
but that He is - He's that great...
That He sees much more hurt than I can even imagine.
And He doesn't just see it, but He experiences it.
Because He hurts when we hurt.
And He knows the way He wanted it to be.

On my drive to church tonight I couldn't help but pray,
"Maranatha, Christ come quickly."

"Behold, I am making all things new..."
Why do the renovations take more work, energy, and time than the original building project?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Oh heh.

So I haven't shovelled in a good while. Actually not since my uncle visited in the first and second weeks of January. It has snowed a fair amount since then. In little dustings, mind you, but enough to make the steps slippery and uneven.

Last night it snowed a bunch more and as I went down the back steps I couldn't see if I was on a step or on the sidewalk. This new snow also covered the unevenness of the old snow.

And heh.

I totally twisted my ankle and slipped. I was covered in snow before I even got to the garage. Great start to the day, eh? But I protected my kids' work and my laptop. Yes, hold your breath. I am such a hero.

Then I played floor hockey at lunch, because at that time, my ankle seemed pretty much recovered.

It is now rather sore. I cannot cross my ankle under my other leg on the couch.
Maybe I'm just a princess.
But it hurts.

And what can I say? It's my own fault. I vow to shovel before Monday. I have a meeting at my house and I cannot have my guests twisting any ankles.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Eloi, Eloi...

My head has been a few places in the last while.
My heart, too.

I was at a concert tonight and must confess to not really listening at all.
It was loud enough that I could tune out the world around me and just focus inside my own head,
which, to be truthful,
has been a difficult task as of late.

I was challenged yesterday to discover and get to know the heart of God.
And the fourth song the band played tonight (the first one I knew) had a repetitive chorus of "I want to fall in love with You."
A song of intense desire to truly know and love our Creator.

And suddenly I was in my own world.
Asking questions of myself.
Falling in love involves coming to really know and understand the heart of someone else.
And in this case,
coming to know and understand,
as far as is humanly possible,
the heart of God.

How does He hurt when we, His delicate creations, hurt ourselves?
How does He hurt when we simply can't hold onto the truth that He loves us enough to have watched and allowed His son die in our place?
How does He hurt when for lack of words and understanding we settle into robot mode, acknowledging that He is taking care of both our most significant and insignificant needs, but forgetting to thank Him for His grace and for His faithfulness in doing so?

If I look into the heart of God,
I see a Father who loves us so much He lets us go...
only to have us hurt Him in return.

And then I see His faithfulness.
In spite of every other detail.
In spite of my failure to look outside of me.
In spite of His hurt, His sadness,
He looks down on me and says,
"You still need my love.
Even though you hurt me.
Even though you don't believe I am enough.
Even though I want you to turn to me first - not after everyone else.

But because I love you,
I will provide for you friends -
who act in my name.
Who walk alongside you.
Who listen to you.
Who offer comfort and prayer.
Who remind you to hope.
And to trust.
And to be still and know
that I am God.
I am your God."

Eloi, Eloi, lama NOT sabachthani?

Because You have promised,
and are faithful.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Saved by the Bell...

It is a faithful God who gives us the changing of the seasons
both outside
and inside.

Class dismissed.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Indoor Recess

Do you remember indoor recess?
On those days when it was just plain too cold to be outside?
Or maybe it was raining.

But the point
is that you were stuck inside a building...
or maybe even inside a classroom
for a whole day.
You couldn't get out.
You couldn't run around.
You couldn't get any fresh air.
And maybe you got a little out of control -
cabin fever, as it were.
You couldn't REALLY have recess
and enjoy playing outside the way you were supposed to.

Allow me to list some of the things that went wrong yesterday after 2 indoor recesses:
2 white board markers on the floor without their caps.
2 desks over-turned, contents spilling on the floor.
1 of the 2 desks was overturned on purpose -
because the kid whose desk it is "did something weird".
One boy crying.
2 kids playing keep away with a big exercise ball.
a book and pile of papers on my desk found itself knocked to the floor.
3 girls in a yelling match and tears over a "fun" game they were playing on the board that goes something like this:
"__place name here__ is a ____insert words not worth repeating here _____."
3 stolen birthday cupcakes taken from on top of peoples' desks.
Sounds like a fun day, hey?

I think I'm currently undergoing an "indoor recess."
It's like someone or something is telling me I can't get outside...
Can't run around,
let off a little steam,
maybe even a yell or two.
Some fresh air would be nice
but I'm stuck.
And it makes the inside of me go a little out of control.

There's a piece of me that needs to get out...
or be let out.
It's healthy.
It might be a bit cold.
The dark cloud may hover awhile.
My hair might even frizz from the humidity and the rain.

But really,
there's something very healing
about being honest...
something very healing
about a good breath of fresh air.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not that I'm out to get anyone...

Ever have one of those days where you're not sure which way is up?

I've had a few lately...and decided to share this upside-down-ness with one of my colleagues. Myself and a friend took some time after school the other night and turned every poster and bulletin board in his classroom upside-down.

We offered to help clean it up after school...we're not COMPLETELY heartless!
And we kept the Canadian flag right-side up.
Good citizens, indeed!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Dutch-Italian-Ukranian...and all those...Job

So there it was.
The coldest night of the year.
Not so much Bruce Cockburn's rendition,
but Winnipeg at its finest.

And the 3 cars lined themselves up.
First in the alley.
Weapons of TP and water in hand.
Then in front of Mac's.
Because really,
what else is there to do
on the coldest night of the year
than go for slurpees?
Especially in Manitoba.

So Bruce,
and Hugh and his island chain,
and all those fine cast members
who got to drive Austin Minis -
to you I say, "Amen."

"You need three at least."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

An a-choir-ed appreciation...

Well, it's official.
I love listening to the concert choir.
In large parts of myself,
I can't listen to music that is "choir-y".
Yeah, so I don't really know how to describe that differently.
But Dordt's concert choir was here tonight,
and they seem to have the same full sound
whenever I hear them.
Different voices every time,
but somehow the same, full sound.

I was disappointed at first that they weren't singing the "classics" -
or perhaps just the "classics" from my years at Dordt.

I wanted to hear "This Is My Father's World" and "Abide with Me".
The truth, however, is that they had two other songs
that struck not only a chord
but a heart-string.

Their version of "My God How Wonderful Thou Art"
was incredibly powerful.
It also had a most delightful paradox in its text.

The part that usually goes, "your endless wisdom, boundless power, and awesome purity" had the word "awful" in place of "awesome". And it filled that line with new meaning.
When do we use "awful" as a positive descriptor?
Never, I'd be tempted to say.
And that's what got me.
It's so awesome - we are full of wonder at His purity - full of awe, as it were.
Awful indeed.

"And You have stooped,
to ask of me,
the love of my poor heart."

Wonderful indeed.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Clearing up confusion...

In case there was any confusion...
because I confused myself
into thinking that the last title should have been about hockey
but it was about a frozen lake.
There are some correlations I could make
between hockey and faith, too,
but not for now.

However, in hockey news -
besides the fact that the Oilers are not doing so hot -
the college hockey team that my brother coaches
was just ranked 4th in their division of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.
For the record,
I'm pretty proud.

Go Blades!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

On the ice as in life?

There's nothing quite like being out "there".
"There" being someplace where it seems like time stops,
worries disappear,
God is big
bringer of peace to my soul
full of love for little me
and I am humbled and so wonderfully not the focus.
The silence swallows me up
and I am overcome by awe
at the expanse of the sky
the brightness of the moon
and the incredible reminders
that I am in His presence...
not just "there"
but sometimes I need "there" to remind me.

I found myself at Bird Lake for awhile last week
and discovered the rest my heart and soul needed.
Peace that seems so much easier to grab hold of when I'm surrounded by quiet and creation, and this time, surrounded by what seemed to be infinite amounts of fresh, deep snow.

The evening we were there, a few of us decided to walk across the lake.
Despite the concern of others
and the few spots of slushy snow along the way
we trudged through the knee-high (for me, anyway) snow
guided by the incredible light of the moon
tried, but failed, to call wolves and moose
and arrived on the other side.

Along the way we held a short discussion about wanting to see how much pressure it would take to actually break the ice and fall through.
Interestingly, we had 3 different ideas.
One of us wanted to find a slushy spot and jump as hard as possible to see if it would really break the ice.
One of us thought it would be fun and would gladly observe and encourage someone else to try the aforementioned approach, but would be too scared to actually try it on our own.
The third of us thought they would be gung ho to watch or partake, but would first go and get the necessary rope and safety equipment necessary to ensure that if the ice cracked there would be a rescue system in place.

As we sat with our feet on the coffee table and sang,

me, with boldness in my heart -
"Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love..."
I couldn't help but ask,

"What does my faith look like?"
I reflected a few times over how each of our approaches to the ice reflect different approaches that we as individuals, but also each of us within
different situations, take as we encounter God and put (or don't put) our trust in Him.

Sometimes "wandering" is not remembering how much God loves me, but going out and trying to jump through the ice when deep inside I know it's not the brightest idea.
Sometimes "wandering" is trusting God to take care as long as it's not me in the situation. My faith falls short when I'm the one being asked to jump on the ice as opposed to my adventurous friend.
Sometimes "wandering" is not trusting enough, but making sure all the right safety measures are in place before taking that leap "of faith" (or is it?).

On the other side, sometimes faith is jumping - not knowing if the ice is strong enough or not, but trusting that God will hold us.
Or faith is trusting that God is immeasurably able to do more than we ask or imagine, but not feeling called to follow Him in a certain area. And in turn, entrusting loved ones to His care as they answer calls that seem crazy, but nudges from the Holy Spirit nonetheless.
Or faith might be using what we have and what we know to serve and live lives that are indeed holy and pleasing, and that acknowledge the God given talents and wisdom we have.

That's a lot of hmm.
And a lot of asking God where I've wandered.
And then a lot of asking Him to help me trust -
when I feel secure
when I feel called
and even, or maybe especially, when I don't
or I'm not sure if I do.
When the ice seems thin and slushy
my question really ought to be,
"Am I trusting that God is bigger than me
and do I really believe
that He is holding me in His hands?"

They're good hands to be in.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The deep stuff...

So after being told "enough of the deep stuff", I decided to take a momentary detour away from "the deep stuff" as it were into...well...the deep stuff. (Sorry, Mel...)

Here is indeed the deep stuff that we woke up to on Dec. 31 resulting in no church, lots of shovelling, fun driving, and a postponed trip to the cabin.

Upon leaving our New Year's event, I could not resist jumping into the mid-thigh snow pile along the driveway and making the first snow angel of 2007. I had to take a few swings to get myself out of the leg-holes and onto my back, and I understand that my landing held a resemblance to a cannonball in the deep end as all the powder went flying up.

What followed was a day and a half out at Bird Lake - walking in "the deep stuff", diving in "the deep stuff", falling in "the deep stuff", being pushed into "the deep stuff", shovelling "the deep stuff", and moaning about how tired I was from trying to keep up with my long-legged friends whilst trudging through "the deep stuff".

Did I mention that I love winter?
What loveliness!