Monday, December 18, 2006
I sit on a hill next to my house and I can see the Bay of Fundy. Beside me is a tree. A leaf lets go of the branch that supports it and slowly falls to the ground. I pick it up and press it in my book.
The trees are all sorts of reds, oranges, browns and yellows, put together to make a beautiful collage. Leaves are everywhere, on the ground mostly, but a few are in the trees.
The great tree beside me must be a couple of hundred years old. Standing there, strong, tall and brave. I wonder what this tree has seen and heard?
A crow caws, a pesky animal, but its feathers are sleek and black and beautiful.
I look around me: everything so natural, so free.
This is my home.
By Jennifer MacDonald
Last night we had lots of laughs rehashing old memories as Dad and Deven went up into the attic and pulled out boxes of stuff stored for years. Among my things: a favourite stuffed animal Sammy, my Curious George, old school books, Valentines from second grade, report cards, awards, pictures. There were memories I'd forgotten: bringing my dog to the local dog show where she won "most talented" for the tricks that I'd taught her. My memory was stirred by a newspaper clipping of me (complete with over-large 1980's glasses and frizzy hair) with the greatest dog ever. I found my "student of the week" poster from the second grade and read meaningful descriptions of myself from my 7-year old classmates: "Jennifer doesn't bug her classmates. Jennifer doesn't make a mess when she eats." High praise indeed. :) I discovered that I was a prolific writer from a young age, starting with my first short story about "the Alien" (spelled "Aleyin"). It was fun laughing and reminiscing with my family... realizing that some things change, while others never do.
It's good to be home. I spend so much time laughing with my family. I'd love to share some of it with you, but it's the rare person who can withstand and even appreciate the odd MacDonald sense of humour.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
The idea of a jet-set life can seem glamorous and enviable. More often than not though, constant travel makes for a lonely life.
People have made envious statements about wishing they were able to travel like I do. I only travel a fraction of what others in our organization do, but I can say, it's not all it's cracked up to be.
Yes, I enjoy it, and am glad to have these experiences. The places, and then of course the people I get to interact with in those places make it all worthwhile. I'm not apologizing for that. My point is, travel itself is more lonely than glamorous.
I love to spend time in airports people-watching. The observation that struck home once again this time, is that airports are full of lonely people. (The family of four headed to Disney may not fall in that category, but they've got their own unglamorous aspects of travel to deal with).
At the boarding gates, everyone sits in the same area, isolated from the people, places and positions that source their sense of self-worth. Business travellers become absorbed in their blackberries and palm pilots. Others observe the scurry of important-looking activity and pull out their own devices, showing everyone else that in the outside world, they are important!
At one point watching people go past my gate, I counted 1 in 5 talking on their cell phones as they walked. You might think this is understandable, since these people, travelling all over the world for work, are obviously important. Spend some time listening to one-sided conversations and you'll quickly realize that many of these calls aren't as important as the people making them want to feel. Unnecessary phone calls abound: triple-checking on something that's already been done or doesn't need to be done, touching base with long-forgotten people, and seeing how many numbers stored in their phone are still active.
Why am I people-watching instead of engaging in such thinly disguised lonely behaviour? Well I would like to say that I am above it, but I'm not. I've felt the pull to get out my palm pilot and sketch in urgent to-do items like "unpack suitcase when I get home", or to make an urgent call on my cell phone. The thing is, my palm pilot was left at home, and my pay-as-you-go cell phone ran out of minutes. So I was left alone to think and eavesdrop. :)
Having arrived in Orlando last week, I sat in my room and realized how lonely I was. I actually just felt something close to sadness at not having something or someone to miss. I felt alone, and anchorless, knowing no one at home was waiting to hear if I had arrived safely, or to hear highlights of my day of meetings. I've felt that before during international travel as well, that anchorless feeling.
Then I was reminded of God's constant and precious presence:
"O LORD, You have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my every thought when far away.
You chart the path ahead of me
and tell me where to stop and rest.
Every moment you know where I am.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, LORD.
You both precede and follow me.
You place Your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to know!
I can never escape from Your Spirit!
I can never get away from Your presence!
If I go up to heaven You are there;
if I go down to the place of the dead, You are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there Your hand will guide me,
and Your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night-
but even in darkness I cannot hide from You.
To You the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are both alike to You. (Ps 139:1-12, NLT)
I'm never alone. Worth is not assigned because of how important we look or feel. We hold worth because of the value God puts on us as His created and blood-bought children.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
The problem of forming Christ in us is not to be solved merely by our own efforts. It is not a matter of studying the Gospels and then working to put our ideas into practice, although we should try to do that too, but always under the guidance of grace, in complete subjection to the Holy Spirit.
For if we depend on our own ideas, our own judgment and our own efforts to reproduce the life of Christ, we will only act out some kind of pious charade which will ultimately scare everybody we meet because it will be so stiff and artificial and so dead.
It is the Spirit of God that must teach us Who Christ is and form Christ in us and transform us into other Christs. After all, transformation into Christ is not just an individual affair: there is only one Christ, not many. He is not divided. And for me to become Christ is to enter into the Life of the Whole Christ, the Mystical Body made up of the Head and the members, Christ and all who are incorporated in Him by His Spirit.
Thomas Merton – New Seeds of Contemplation
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thinking about how the catching of the bouquet is supposed to be good luck for single women to "catch a man" and be the next one married, it occurred to me that the whole debacle could be an analogy for how I am with relationships in general.
I mentioned it to a few other girls, and we found that the analogies worked for them too: one said that she just plain did not want to catch it, and would have consciously avoided it. She finds herself isolating herself from opportunities and relationships in general. We're not sure if it's just because it's not worth the effort, or if it's because she is afraid of trying to catch it, and missing it. Another girl said that she just didn't expect the bouquet would come her way, so made no efforts to catch it or miss it. I happen to know this girl is usually oblivious when guys show obvious interest in her.
We then thought about Melanie's little sister Hannah who didn't hesitate to snatch up the bouquet I had knocked to the floor. If our bouquet behaviours directly related to our relationship dysfunctions, what could we learn from the girl who caught the bouquet? Well she hardly understood what the tradition was about, but was unafraid and bold enough to take the chance and dive for something that may or may not be something she'd want. She's not jaded.
Enough overanalyzing... I just hope the whole bouquet toss tradition doesn't actually work, because it could be a long wait for me if 10-year old Hannah gets married before I do!
Speaking of analogies: I'm getting a bit worried about the implications on a piece of apparently time-tested wisdom after reading this on BBC.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Here are some pictures and little bits from the time around the wedding.
The whole party. I was thinking that being a bridesmaid on the wedding day is pretty easy... help take care of the bride, hair, make-up, dress, smile for pictures, walk the aisle at the right moments and try not to trip. I was a little afraid of messing up the last two, but luckily I had Leif (second from right) to follow for the timing, and his arm to hold, up and down the aisle, so I didn't.
The day after the wedding was also my birthday (26!), and Jenn (maid of honour) and Amy and I went to a church in Milwaukee and then out for lunch with a friend, which was nice. After that, it was 10 long hours in the car, arriving into London in the early morning hours on Monday. Happy birthday to me. :) I didn't mind really, I just know now that Melanie & Ryan will never have any excuse to miss my birthday. :)
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
I found myself starting to dislike answering the question of whether or not I was close with my grandmother. What does close mean? Does it mean I called her every week, or had sleepovers all the time with her? In the end, she was my grandmother... a role no one can fill or replace. There is a richness, stability and rootedness in my life that she brought, and her loss will alwas be felt.
I'm tired of grief being something we are supposed to go through, to get over. You don't "get over" grief. The pain of it fades over time, it moves from a raw pain at the front of your consciousness to an ache that is just a part of who you are. I'm not "over" my grandfathers'deaths, I'm certainly not over my sister's death, and not over my grandmother's death. They were all people too important in my life to be forgotten through something as insignificant as the passing of time.
That's part of why I sometimes hope people don't ask me how many siblings I have. It's a personal thing, that I refuse to ever only name my living siblings. I have 2 living siblings, but I have 3 siblings. But when the question comes up, it often leads to an uncomfortable discussion, because people trying to make small talk don't want to hear about a death in the family. She just is, and always will be, too important to pretend she didn't exist, merely for the sake of keeping conversation light.
Ah grief. It's part of life... but that doesn't make it easier. God does do good things through it though. Emerging from ashes and dark valleys my eyes are opened to see beauty and love, and even hope.
Anyway, it was good to be with my big fat French family for a few days, and to be there for the funeral with them. Good time with family, even in the midst of sad times is always a blessing. Below is a picture with Deven & Heather and Melanie.
“It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live. There is but one reasonable explanation of it. The intellect is stunned by the shock, and but gropingly gathers the meaning of the words. The power to realize their full import is mercifully wanting. The mind has a dumb sense of vast loss—that is all. It will take mind and memory months, and possibly years, to gather together the details, and thus learn and know the whole extent of the loss." Mark Twain
Here's a summary of our Salsa Party:
We had an open house throughout the afternoon, and we had several waves of guests. Overall I think we estimated we had about 25-30 people come.
winner: Amy Styles, with Magical Mango Salsa
winner: Edward Yan, with a watermelon concoction
winner: Jonathan Zubick with a mouth-burning contribution
I came in second for most original with a blueberry-grapefruit salsa recipe that I found on the internet. It was orginal alright... but it didn't taste very good. I'm secure enough to admit that. :) All in all it was a fun day, and it got my mind off other things.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Early this morning my mom called to tell me that my grandmother died in the night. The funeral is on Monday, and so I just booked my tickets to New Brunswick Sunday-Tuesday.
I am going to miss my Memere, Florence Landry, my mom's mom.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
For now, here is a bit of a summary of my trip out West:
I traveled for an orientation with Pioneers, in which we had 10 people applying or looking at going with us overseas. It was a great group, and so neat to get to know them a bit and hear about how God is leading and working in their lives.
Washington State (Seattle and Mt. Baker)
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Well I have started an as yet unnamed 3 part series... but I'm not sure I'll publish it. We'll see. For now, I'll tell you about my day.
My sister is visiting from NB for a few days and of course that is fun. She always keeps life interesting.
I started my belly dancing class tonight, and I love it! I know I am going to have so much fun. I was better than I expected, but my expectations were low, so that wasn't hard. I learned a few moves: shimmies, hip circles, figure-eights. At the end of the 8 week class we'll have learned the full choreography for a dance, along with all the necessary moves. I am genuinely excited, it's going to be so much fun.***
Then I went to wing night, at Bernie's on Adelaide. A decent place, and some decent flavours and hotness... but there weren't consistent gradations of hotness. (And yes, gradations is a word... a fact which was contested tonight) I still need to tally the score, but I think it will be about mid-range.
Maybe tomorrow I will post about my trip. Until then, this will have to do! :)
*** Note: Please do not ask for a demonstration... probably not going to happen. :)
Monday, September 25, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
I'm really thankful for the way that it worked out for Amy (#26) and I to move in with Andrea. The timing worked out unexpectedly and perfectly for us. The only sad thing is that we are hardly going to see each other this fall. Andrea is in California this week, and is back for two days before I fly to Seattle and Vancouver for a week, and then when I finish that trip, Amy will have just left for Alberta for two weeks!
When our travel settles down, I look forward to lots of good roommate times together.
Friday, September 08, 2006
I guess it's kind of an embarassing admission to make on a Friday night. Why am I home, alone, with nothing to do? A perfectly reasonable question, which probably has a perfectly good answer. I guess I'd say, that my roommates are out/away, this friend is away, that friend has this thing, etc. I don't know. I just know that I'm bored and lonely and it's Friday night and that's kind of depressing.
It seems like kind of a new low to resort to blogging out of boredom; usually I blog because there is something I can't wait to write about. I'm afraid this post may turn out to be as boring as my evening plans. :)
I could tell you about what's new with me... yes, let's do that.
Well, I moved. Phew! It's tiring, and I didn't even own any furniture to move. My stuff just kept multiplying though. I can't complain though because I did have a lot of help. I've been busy settling in and getting my newroom set up. I think it's looking pretty good now.
Amy (#26) and I moved in with Andrea, who owns this house. That makes Andrea #27. I'll post a picture with her soon. Andrea is a super girl that I've known for several years, and I am thrilled that it worked out for us to move in with her. She also happens to read this blog... hi Andrea! I hope you come home soon so I have someone to talk to tonight!
Um, what else... well I've been busy getting ready for the Asian Fellowship to start (I work with the kids), and with a committee through NP. With work, things are crazy as we prepare for another board meeting, the next day after which I will fly to Seattle for a week of orientation there, and a few days in Vancouver. Of course there is Wing night as well, always fun, and lots of good new friends (where are they all now! :) ) And then this week we're hosting a shower for Melanie...
Mmm wings. I think I am getting addicted, or else I am all the way addicted. Maybe I'll just go out for wings by myself. Is that bad? Kind of pathetic possibly, don't tell anyone!
Monday, August 28, 2006
- Introductory Massage
- Landscape Design (Beginners)
- Digital Photography
- Rock Climbing
- Middle Eastern Dancing
- Breads of India
I was a little concerned when I looked at my eclectic list of potential interests, and recent interests (cake decorating, running, working out, scrapbooking, card-making). The list really goes on and on. Some become part of my life, and some don't beyond the initiation. I wondered if I am just flakey.
I think I've figured it out though. I want to try almost everything. I'm not looking to be an expert at every thing I try, but I enjoy each new experience of trying something I've never done before. I'm a bit of an experience-junkie (a term I coined that my sister makes fun of).
Another thing that has concerned me lately is the dilemma I find myself in:
As I was growing up, I was instilled with a solid belief that I could do anything. I've always been confident that I could do whatever I set my mind on, and have therefore made my life choices so far not based on what I had to do, or could only do, but on what I wanted to do.
Now, I'm 25, still pretty young, but thinking about all the things I want to do with my life, and realizing that it will be impossible to do them all. By making choices to include some things, I necessarily exclude other things.
The thing right now I guess, is to take advantage of the time and freedom I have right now. I don't want to wake up in 50 years and realize that I haven't much time left to tackle my "List of things to do before I die." I'd better order my life in such a way that I am taking advantage of the opportunities and time I have now.
What's that Latin phrase that's quoted way too often... oh right... carpe diem! :) This fall it's Middle Eastern dancing, sewing, drumming and maybe a bit more cake decorating.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
This is my 100th post. I've now been blogging for a little over a year. I think I may keep this up after all. :)
Blogs are interesting things. I've got a list of blogs that I read fairly regularly, and I like the way blogs let me follow along with someone's life even if we don't get to see each other often. Even for those I do see often, it's interesting to see the experiences/thoughts/pictures that they do choose to share, because inevitably I see a different side of them.
I recently looked over the last year's posts, all 99, and thought it was interesting that so much of my life and experience from the past year has been captured on here. At the same time though, I realize how limited something like this is. There's so much more to me than 99 blogs posts. It just made me stop and reflect on how complicated people are. Me, and everyone else.
It just makes life more fun, to be able to recognize and enjoy the endless mystery of each person around me.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
We've gathered a core group around us and started trying out a different wing place in the city each week. We record our opinions, judging various flavours, size, texture, as well as presentation, service, and atmosphere of the place itself. We've been to 7 places and will be visiting the 8th tonight.
Here is an open invitation to any Londoners, to join us at Tiger Jack's on Wharncliffe, at 9 pm.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
I met Vicky at the beginning of July at one of our wing nights, and we hung out almost every day before she moved to Winnipeg this week. Here are pictures from her July 29th wedding:Me with one of the flower-girls, Gracie. I had the job of telling the flower-girls when to go down the aisle, and closing and opening the door for Vicky to go down when the second violin started playing. Vicky and I were poised just outside with our ears to the door whispering to each other, "Is that the second violin??" When we figured out that I'd missed the cue, I swung the door open a little too quickly, slamming it loudly against the wall. :)
Our yearly team retreat at Muskoka. This is my third year in a row. See last year's post.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I laugh at myself sometimes because of how I seem to make everything more complicated than it needs to be, or at least more complicated than it seems to be for others. I guess I just like to dig, and explore, and I have endless questions to ask. Most often I come back to the simple answers, with a new understanding that what at first seemed trite has a depth and richness that I can barely fathom.
This morning I was exploring the stirrings of something that has been scarce lately. "What is that feeling? I know that one..." It's joy. Instead of trying not to look at my fears and anxieties, my eyes are looking to Jesus. Looking at Him, the joy returns, I rest in His peace, and suddenly I can enjoy today's blessings that were simply the source of anxiety when I looked directly at them.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
"My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me."
Good words for me to remember in this "control" issue.
"A child who is not weaned grapples for their mother's breast, almost fighting to ensure they get the desired food. A weaned child is simply satisfied with their mother's presence. This, says David, is normative for those of us who humble ourselves before God. We find rest for our souls and joy simply being in His presence."
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me...
Letting go. :)
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
BUT, when I'm insecure, I am a control freak. Over and over again through the past years God has pushed me to recklessly trust in Him. The only problem is that when I do that in a fallen world, I often get hurt. We all do. Sometimes I have the perspective that the heights are worth the depths, but then at other times it feels like the depths are all I see, and I lose sight of Him.
At times like that I find myself so ridiculously cautious. I try to build a perfectly safe place for myself, and put up safeguards to keep out people who could hurt me. And then I find myself lonely in that carefully contructed existence because ultimately no one is safe. I'm frustrated when I realize that I'm not a safe person, and find myself inadvertently hurting others.
I analyze and over-analyze and look for formulas to show me the right way of doing things and in the end it always makes less sense than before.
So, I might as well give up trying to figure out all the answers, and just be. I might as well just live and love and give recklessly, knowing that I will get hurt sometimes... but that if I don't risk, I'll miss all the good things too. I may as well give up trying to do it all right because:
a.) I mess it up all the time as it is, and
b.) God creates ex nihilo (from nothing) and my screw-ups don't ruin His plans anyway
This isn't exactly rocket science, and I've learned it all before, but here I am again having to lay down my safeguards and controls. It's frightening, but also a relief, to once again, give up control, or at least the illusion of it. I never had it in the first place.
Friday, July 07, 2006
You can read it here.
I'd write more, because like many, I feel very strongly about this subject, but in the end, all I want to point out is that on both sides of this hotly debated issue are real people. On both sides are brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as many who don't know Him. All, loved by God.
If we as the church would recognize that, we would see the only hope for peace in the Middle East is found in Christ; through us, He offers His love, grace, and reconciliation to hurting people.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Oh yeah, and happy anniversary mom & dad! 27 years!
Friday, June 30, 2006
I did have some good reflective time in NB, and some quality time spent with Him that reminded me of how much more precious intimacy with Him is, than anything else. I wish I could say that I am currently enjoying at least the same intimacy with Him that I had come to enjoy before my bitter season. I was a bit frustrated, but now it seems fitting that I be, right now, exactly where I am.
In reading Jeremiah 29, it occurred to me that we women reflect the character of God a bit in this way: God deeply desires intimacy with us, and that intimacy is not something so cheap as to be dished out whenever a fickle child like me capriciously demands it. It is given in smaller doses, drawing us on, drawing us deeper. As we respond, and declare His value by pursuing Him with our whole heart... He delights in giving Himself to us. I think that is a part of why He created women with the need to be pursued, so that there would an earthly picture of His desire to be pursued by us, and of course, what He has done to pursue us.
So I continue fumbling down the sometimes painful, but always worthwhile journey of pursuing Him, even as I learn to recognize His relentless pursuit of me.
There aren't long stretches of time between the situations where I literally hit myself on the forhead, or shake my head in utter amazement at the stupid things that come out of my mouth. I try to be funny, and I end up sounding like I'm criticizing. I try to be smart, and I sound like a moron. :) It seems to happen so often, and I always feel annoyed with myself for doing it, again.
I taught a session this morning to the short-termers who are in an orientation here this week. It was about Truth & Lies: the lies we struggle with, and the truth about who we are in Christ. It made me think about this whole "saying stupid things" issue.
When I beat myself up about saying something stupid, it's because I'm mad at myself for not being perfect. When I'm mad at myself for not being perfect, it's because I'm believing the lie that I am supposed to be perfect. I'm believing that if I am not perfect, others will reject me. Underlying that is the belief that what others think of me defines who I am as a person.
So, what is the truth? Well, the truth is, I do say stupid things more often than I'd like to. Also true, is the fact that I am far from perfect. BUT I don't need to be perfect, and I don't even need to be liked by everyone (though it would be nice :) ). I am loved and accepted by God, just the way I am. And in the end, the people through whom God loves me the most obviously, are not the ones who have seen me just at my most Spirit-filled and lead moments. They are the ones who have seen the most ridiculous sides of me, and even borne the brunt of my annoyingness, crabbiness, and ... um, forceful personality.