Thursday, January 26, 2006

Just a dash

Sometimes it amazes me how the same things keep popping up - God trying to tell me something and knowing it takes several tries to break through! A while ago it was the theme of living wholeheartedly for Him. Now it's about the often recurring doubt that what I'm doing as a writer has any impact at all - I posted on this on my blog this morning -( Then clicked into the blog Dave linked to today and on to her reveiw of Anne Lamott's latest book.

And there it was again - this wonderful quote -“Holiness has most often been revealed to me in the exquisite pun of the first syllable, in holes—in not enough help, in brokenness, mess. . . .In holes and lostness I can pick up the light of small ordinary progress, newly made moments flecked like pepper into the slog and the disruptions.” (p 6, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith)

It's the pepper flecks that count - the one tiny speck of hope we throw out every time we write in Christ's name, every time we whisper a prayer, every time we turn our faces to God.

So I am encouraged - to keep on keeping on.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Colour on a Grey Day

The sun was out today, for the first time in quite a while here. It's been a very grey world - coated in hoar frost with nothing to burn it off. But today the sun did shine and it was lovely.

I watched the kids coming out of my daughter's school and thought of how we Canadians dress so drab in winter - no colour, all blacks and dark greens. I remember how I became so aware of that when we came home from Papua New Guinea that December of '96. I was so used to all the colour of the tropics - the bright reds, oranges, purples - but what was the first thing I did? - bought a dark green coat!

Maybe it's the chameleon syndrome - we all want to fit in so desperately. We mimic our surroundings. Like the day I went to Whitehorse, into my favourite second hand store, and told the salesgirl I needed something "churchy." I'd just become a Christian and didn't own a dress or anything but jeans. No-one told me I should buy new clothes. I just wanted to fit in, so I bought a long blue skirt (dark of course) and a white long-sleeved blouse. It did the job.

I just read a woman's article on how she bought a bright red purse once, knowing she probably would never use it. She didn't want to stand out. But then she decided one day that she really loved that purse - it said something about her that she wanted to say. So she was determined to use it, as a symbol that she was going to be who she was, not the person everyone else wanted to see. It reminded me of a bright orange sweater I have in my closet. I've never worn it. It would make me stand out.

Life is too short for that. And I think God wants us to be who we are. After all, He made us this way. So maybe tomorrow I'll wear the orange sweater. I think it will go quite well on the backdrop of all this grey.

Friday, January 13, 2006

A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yes it was almost enough to make me believe in the Friday the 13th enigma.
Nothing, and I mean nothing went right at work today, from the very first attempt to do something constructive. It actually got to the point where I was almost laughing - or crying.
It made me wonder about the whole spiritual realm thing. It sure felt like somebody was trying his best to mess things up and get me to lose it. But I didn't, so there!

I was very glad to finally see the day end, however. And tomorrow is a new day. I love the verses in the Bible that talk about that - His mercies are new every morning. Praise the Lord! And have a Wonderful, Fabulous, Very good, Very Right Day tomorrow!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Popping Corn Reflex

I taught a religious ed. class today, to a group of grade five kids in a public school. Yes, we can still do that here in Alberta. Praise the Lord! I was in the middle of having a great time when the teacher (a substitute) suddenly broke in and told the kids they couldn't just all jump up and answer the questions whenever they wanted. They had to put their hands up. Now, I understand why she did that. It was getting a little loud. But it was such a hoot to see these kids popping up like kernels of corn that just couldn't not pop!

As I drove home I wondered, how do we lose that? How does it happen that from grade four to grade eight the kids suddenly are bored with life and learning? Maybe it's because too many teachers have told them they had to put their hands up.

And I wondered how is it that we lose our enthusiasm for God? We all do, along the way. We all need to be revived now and then. Maybe it's because too many of us have sqashed our own popping corn reflex. Don't get too excited, now, it might not be a real miracle. Don't put all your prayers in one basket, just in case. Don't be too disappointed if that prayer isn't answered. Don't take any risks and you won't lose any faith. (that last one is definitely a killer and totally untrue).

Maybe the scripture isn't metaphorical when it says we must become like little children - little children whose popping corn reflex is still too hot to handle. :)

Friday, January 06, 2006

Field Tests

Blind Spots. We all have them. As an optometric assistant one of my duties is to test patients for peripheral vision. The "Fields" test requires the patient to click a small trigger every time he/she sees a flash of light on a screen. The flashes are arranged in a circular pattern, and record the intensity numerically. The test is recorded and then printed on paper for the doctors to read. Any flashes the patient was unable to see, because of cataracts for instance, will appear dark on the print-out.

The interesting thing is that there is always a small dark spot on the print-out. Everyone, it seems, has a blind spot. We are, of course, unaware of that. Our brain tells us we are seeing just fine, thank you very much.

Our brain seems to do something similar in other areas too. An article appeared in our local paper this week that illustrates the point. A local minister, who is of a decided liberal persuasion, wrote quite a diatribe on "fundamentalists" who are so very very intolerant. Of course he and his wife, also a minister in the same church, take every opportunity to kick at others in the community who are not of their particular stripe.

Perhaps they should read Matthew 7:3-5

Perhaps we all should.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

New Year's Res.

My husband mentioned something the other day that made me smile. In fact, it has made me smile many times since it happened.

We were on our way back to the Yukon with our two daughters - driving back, in a very small Toyota Corolla, after spending a year at college in Saskatchewan. I learned what the word claustrophobic meant on that trip. And I learned something else.

We'd been admiring the scenery all the way - the soaring scenery of mountains that takes your breath away after living on the prairie for a year. When we reached our destination, Dawson City, my daughter, Katie, then six, paused as we ferried across the Yukon River, then pointed at the sheer cliffs rising from the water. "Look, Dad," she said, "we're coming close to the incredibles!"

I guess we'd used that word a time or two.

I learned then that kids will imitate us, no matter what words we use. They don't know any better. They are learning about how to function in the world, and their only resource is the people around them. Since we are, in effect, stuck in a small vehicle known as a family, it is inevitable that our kids will pick up and use whatever words we allow a presence within that capsule. They not only pick them up, they learn how to use them.

How crucial it is, then, to speak words of peace, love, contentment, joy - words that heal instead of words that destroy. How else will our children learn about such crucial words if we do not speak them?

Now that I and my children are much older, I carry a certain amount of guilt about the many words I have not spoken. The other child in that car on its way to the Yukon, Laura, once said that she only learned about me when strangers came to our house and we started telling stories. "Why don't you tell us those stories?" she asked. Why indeed.

What fear keeps us from sharing the stories of our hearts with those closest to us? Why do we keep silent, keep the crucial words hidden inside? I suppose we too have learned, as we've journeyed through the small capsule of our lives, that it is safer to keep things hidden. Safer in the silence. But we all lose in that silence.

So at the beginning of this New Year, I call a challenge into this shared capsule - speak. Let the words of life and love flow out, into the air, onto the pages, onto the monitor screens and into cyber-space.

Let us all speak!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Dreams of Dinner

My daughter e-mailed today to tell me she dreamed about me - that I was visiting her there in Bangladesh and we went out to dinner together - she even described what we ate! :0
It makes me long to be with her - to sit across a table and watch her laugh, and eat! But that won't happen for several more months so I have to be content with the details of her dreams.

That's a lot like what we are experiencing now, on this earth. We are experiencing a dream-like existence that seems real. I can't wait to finally get "beyond the veil" and see, face to face, the One who has created it all. And to sit at His banquet table and watch Him laugh - and eat! Well, maybe.

Some day we shall see.


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Stealing My Husband's Thunder Or ...

Three Rs for 2006

My husband preached a sermon from Malachi last Sunday. It was a message for the New Year that gave us all a theme to think on as we launch into 2006. The theme consists of three admonitions (it was a good three point sermon, complete with alliteration! J )

The three are – Remember the Law, Restore the Heart, and Renew Righteousness.
The first point was a caution against relying on the law to change anything – just like the laws of our country, God’s laws cannot change us, they only show us where our sin lies. We must remember the laws of God so that we can avoid the death-traps of sin. It is up to us, and God’s Spirit working in us, to make the changes necessary to live our lives in harmony with those laws.

The second point, restore the heart, led us to consider the hearts of those whom God loved – people like Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, David, and others on through history. These were men and women who failed, yet always turned back to God for mercy and grace. They always restored their love for God and restored their relationship with Him.

The third point, renew righteousness, helped us to remember that our righteousness does not come from the good works we do, but from the sacrifice of God’s only Son. It is His righteousness, freely offered to us, that holds us in God’s hand and always will. But we can renew our relationship with Him every day, just as we do with friends and family, by communicating with Him. Pray. Worship. Seek His guidance. Listen for His voice and look for those circumstances that point us to Him.

These three tenants are worthy of a poster on our walls, worthy of the time taken to consider them and the effort needed to apply them to our lives. Malachi knew the time would come when there would be no more time to consider and act upon these things – a time when everything will change, justice will be fully accomplished and Jesus will return. “Surely the day is coming,” Malachi said (Malachi 4:1).

It could be today, or any day in 2006. Are you ready? Remember the Law. Restore the Heart. Renew Righteousness.