Tuesday, February 28, 2006

tupperware party

Who wants to come to a Tupperware party?
It is tonight at 7 pm at my house. I got a bunch of tupperware a few years ago, and below are the before and after pictures of our pantry cupboard. I love Tupperware! :)



**ok I don't have a good excuse for why it was so bad before, but the Tupperware sure helped!**

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Life plans and goals

I'm reviewing my yearly "personal life plan." I chuckle as I read 2004's, because I recognize how much my perspective has changed. 2004's plan was so performance-driven with concrete goals (and aim of developing high self-discipline to achieve them). After yet another burn-out cycle, I let God begin to shift my thinking.

Last year I couldn't even bring myself to make up a "personal life plan" for 2005. I determined to know Christ, to be consumed by His love, and to learn to let Him live out through me. I don't want to cultivate self-discipline anymore... I want to cultivate Christ-discipline... letting Him have control. I want to walk in more and more in surrender.

I've been way more productive this way, though not with the flashy minisiry achievements I used to aim for. This remains my goal: to let Christ live and love through me. I want my life to be the natural outflow/overflow of His grace and love to others. I'm only in jr kindergarten in this school, but at least I can sit all the way through class now without poking the kid next to me. :)

I also have a fun life goal list "Things to do before I die." Here are some of them:
  • Learn to surf
  • Go skydiving
  • Run a marathon
  • Go bungee jumping
  • Visit an active volcano
  • Travel to every continent (including Antarctica!)
  • Perfect my French
  • Learn one other language (Arabic, Mandarin... ?)
  • Swim with sharks (real ones, I saw it on tv once, you can do it in a cage, while the great whites circle around you :) )
Another winter day... I'm obsessed with this desire to surf. The few "attempts" I've made in New Zealand and Nova Scotia got me hooked. I will find a way... :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

God- the Prodigal Giver

At North Park Saturday night something Pastor Terry shared really stuck with me. He said that the "prodigal son" story would be more aptly called the "prodigal father" story.

I always thought prodigal meant "way-ward" or "rebellious." What it actually means is "recklessly extravagant." I looked it up on dictionary.com (see definition).

It is a story about the recklessly extravagant love of the father... essentially, the recklessly extravagant love of our Father.

It certainly rips apart my old ideas about God's love being sterile and dry, loving us because He has to. What has been sticking with me from this story is how extravagant the father's love was... he didn't just affirm the restoration of relationship, and didn't just give the son what he needed... He gave him so much more. He wouldn't even let the son try to make it up, or earn his approval. Recklessly extravagant.

"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

Sometimes those other good things He offers come in the form of brokenness and even suffering. And sometimes, they are just good and pure gifts that He delights in giving.

I heard Malcolm Smith say in a sermon once that God's love is not an emotion, but it is emotional.

It seems like every day God is breaking out of the boxes that I try to put Him in.

(painting: Rembrandt's "Return of the Prodigal Son")

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thank you- yes YOU! :)

I'm sitting here, chilling to Jack Johnson and Michael Buble. Melanie is laughing at how mellow I've been lately, at least in my music choices. Her office is right next to mine, so I guess she should know.

I just wanted to say thank you- to you!

When I started this blog, I didn't expect people would actually read it, figured it was a long shot anyway. I just love to write, and I especially love to share snapshots of my journey, of how God is teaching me.

I am constantly being surprised by the people that read this blog, either occasionally or regularly. Thank you for your comments, and emails. Others I find out through random connections.

Sometimes it freaks me out, because- follow me on this- when I started writing on here, I just wrote what was on my mind. I'm generally a pretty open person, so I don't have trouble sharing this stuff either in person or in writing. But as more people read this, I find myself surprised, and not sure exactly why. What freaks me out is the fear that I am going to do or say something and mess it all up.

I've concluded now though that that's a good risk to take. Not because I'm not likely to do or say something stupid (or that I havent' already!) but because I'm on here to share my journey with you, and journeys are messy, and I've missed the point if I try to hide that.

So, thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, emailing me, or whatever. If you read something stupid, by all means, call me on it! I certainly don't have it all figured out... as is definitely clear by now. :)

God's good gifts

I have realized that I sometimes have trouble believing that God has good gifts for me.

Am I alone in this? Sometimes when I think about what blessings the future might hold, I immediately think of how they will probably be wrenched away, or soiled in some way. When someone does something nice for me, I often feel embarassed. I feel guilty having nice things.

I guess the root of this is feeling like I don't deserve God's blessings. I wouldn't say that I've had major struggles with self-esteem, it's more my pride that wants to "earn" the things that come my way. It's a slander of God's character really, that I have to repent of, as my mind is renewed daily. How easily I forget the basics of the gospel- that Christ did it all without my help. While we were yet sinners...

I've been reminding myself of what I know of His character. I've been thinking lately though, that one of the best things I can do to redeem that distorted mind-set, is to really look at the good things He has already given. What are some of those things?

My family and closest friends- They are incredible, what else can I say. People who love me even though they have seen the absolute worst sides of me. God loves and speaks to me through them, accepting me as I am, but not content to let me stay there.

My work- I have an amazing job working for PIONEERS Canada. I look forward to it when I wake up in the morning, and except for the occasional mid-afternoon slump, I enjoy my work days. The other day we had a whole day of meetings, preparation for an orientation we have coming up. It was so much fun, working things through together, feeding off each other, pushing each other's thoughts and ideas further than we could on our own. I think the word for that is synergy. There are always new challenges and opportunities to grow, and there are lots of outlets for my creative energies. Maybe the best part though is that I am given the room to fail, get up and learn from it, and am mentored through it all.

Just good gifts. My Father is good to me. He is good to me in the hard times, the good times, and most often the times that have a bit of both!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Celebration of love

I may be single, and looking forward to a girl's night out this evening, but just because I don’t have romantic love in my life doesn’t mean I don’t have cause to celebrate!

When I stop to think about it I am awed by God’s love for me. It’s perfect, it’s precious, and it blows my mind.

I’ve said often that one of the first songs I ever learned was probably “Jesus loves me.” I remember teaching children in many Sunday school classes that truth myself. But it has only been in the past few years that the truth of it has come alive to me.

In a time of brokenness I began to question God about whether or not He cared when I was hurting, whether or not He could feel my pain. I thought of His love being impersonal (meant for the whole world after all), and of Him dryly telling me it was all for the best. I was cynical, but those questions opened up a door for me to consider the possibility that God offered what I hungered for.

And so began a journey into His love. Printed off and framed, sitting on my desk are the following verses which have summed up this leg of the journey:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father… that He would grant you,
according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His
Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with
all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know
the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to the
fullness of God.”

To be filled up to the fullness of God means to know His love. That’s my journey right now, and probably for my life. Sometimes He gives it to me directly, but most often He offers it through friends, family members, and sometimes even strangers. It was always there, but He has renewed my eyes to show me the source.

Underneath all the “proper” theology I held, I used to compare what I felt God’s love for me to be, with the purest love I had experienced from others, or given. God’s love seemed so dry and sterile in comparison. Now I see, that real love always has God as it’s source… whether the giver or the receiver ever realize it.

And today, I just want to say how thankful I am to have received that love from my God, my Abba, my Husband, my Protector and my Strength. I’m also thankful for His love as I have received it through countless friends, family members, and others.

So, thanks, and Happy Valentine's day!

Friday, February 10, 2006


February 10th and March 13th are always strange days for me. Today (Feb 10th) is the anniversary of when my sister Ashley died, and March 13th is her birthday. I've never been one for dates and anniversaries being a huge deal, but for some reason this one seems big to me. Each year anniversary is like a century, or like some huge milestone separating me from that defining event.

I don't really like it actually. The passing of time brings healing, yes, but it is a little unsettling as well, because I don't want such a huge thing to be lost in my distant past. I don't want such an important person to become, with the passing of time, a far-off, and seemingly unreal memory.

And then there is always the fear of forgetting her. Sometimes I close my eyes and remember the purity and mischief in her smile. Sometimes I concentrate on remembering the softness of her hands as I held them at her bedside while she slowly passed from us. Those were moments that I tried to cherish, and imprint on my memory, having spent too many days and years not realizing our time would be so short.

There are tears in my eyes, but it is not all sad. There is joy also, in the remembrance of God's complete faithfulness, and wonder at the still unveiling masterpiece of His overarching plan.

I miss her so much, and I've given up thinking that that longing will ever go away. But I wouldn't change a thing because God was good in ways that words do not do justice to describe. And there is always the knowledge that I will see her again.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Being Mocked: The Essence of Christ's Work, Not Muhammed's

Article by John Piper: February 8, 2006
What we saw this past week in the Islamic demonstrations over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad was another vivid depiction of the difference between Muhammad and Christ, and what it means to follow each. Not all Muslims approve the violence. But a deep lesson remains: The work of Muhammad is based on being honored and the work of Christ is based on being insulted. This produces two very different reactions to mockery.

If Christ had not been insulted, there would be no salvation. This was his saving work: to be insulted and die to rescue sinners from the wrath of God. Already in the Psalms the path of mockery was promised: “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads” (Psalm 22:7). “He was despised and rejected by men . . . as one from whom men hide their faces . . . and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

When it actually happened it was worse than expected. “They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head. . . . And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they spit on him” (Matthew 27:28-30). His response to all this was patient endurance. This was the work he came to do. “Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

This was not true of Muhammad. And Muslims do not believe it is true of Jesus. Most Muslims have been taught that Jesus was not crucified. One Sunni Muslim writes, “Muslims believe that Allah saved the Messiah from the ignominy of crucifixion.”
1 Another adds, “We honor [Jesus] more than you [Christians] do. . . . We refuse to believe that God would permit him to suffer death on the cross.”2 An essential Muslim impulse is to avoid the “ignominy” of the cross.

That’s the most basic difference between Christ and Muhammad and between a Muslim and a follower of Christ. For Christ, enduring the mockery of the cross was the essence of his mission. And for a true follower of Christ enduring suffering patiently for the glory of Christ is the essence of obedience. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). During his life on earth Jesus was called a bastard (John 8:41), a drunkard (Matthew 11:19), a blasphemer (Matthew 26:65), a devil (Matthew 10:25); and he promised his followers the same: “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” (Matthew 10:25).

The caricature and mockery of Christ has continued to this day. Martin Scorsese portrayed Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ as wracked with doubt and beset with sexual lust. Andres Serrano was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts to portray Jesus on a cross sunk in a bottle of urine. The Da Vinci Code portrays Jesus as a mere mortal who married and fathered children.

How should his followers respond? On the one hand, we are grieved and angered. On the other hand, we identify with Christ, and embrace his suffering, and rejoice in our afflictions, and say with the apostle Paul that vengeance belongs to the Lord, let us love our enemies and win them with the gospel. If Christ did his work by being insulted, we must do ours likewise.
When Muhammad was portrayed in twelve cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the uproar across the Muslim world was intense and sometimes violent. Flags were burned, embassies were torched, and at least one Christian church was stoned. The cartoonists went into hiding in fear for their lives, like Salman Rushdie before them. What does this mean?
It means that a religion with no insulted Savior will not endure insults to win the scoffers. It means that this religion is destined to bear the impossible load of upholding the honor of one who did not die and rise again to make that possible. It means that Jesus Christ is still the only hope of peace with God and peace with man. And it means that his followers must be willing to “share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

"How are you?"

Does anyone else ever feel like they aren't being completely honest when they say "fine" in answer to the above question seventeen times a day?

Well, to be accurate, I don't really feel like I am lying when I say I am doing well, I just often don't feel like I am telling the whole story. I guess I just figure, how many people actually want to know the whole story? A lot of times people just ask in passing, not waiting for an answer. I know I've done that myself, though I dislike it when people do it to me.

I guess I answer the question based on more than just how I feel. On a given day, I may feel down or discouraged, but if I were to launch into a depressing tirade about my negative feelings, I wouldn't be telling the whole story anyway. It seems to me to be a strange paradox, but I'm learning that the journey of faith is full of those. I can "feel" crappy, but have a general sense that my life is going well, and that God is doing good things in it. My feelings are not the indicators of reality. They are indicators of other things, such as what I am believing deep down, sometimes without even realizing it.

It is nice though to have a few people with whom I can be completely transparent, who help me dig down below the surface to uncover the lies that I believe, and who walk with me and accept me- the good, the bad, and the ugly! Praise God for good friendships, and family members!

One thing stands out to me in all of this though. The many times I get standard answers from people: is it because I'm just not in that inner trust circle or because they think I'm not actually interested in them? What concerns me is not that I think I need to be everyone's confidante, but that I don't want to be a person who unconsciously discourages others from being real and transparent with me. I don't want to communicate that my acceptance is based on performance, appearance, or success. I've been thinking a lot lately about how I really want the main thing of my life to be that the love of God flows through me to other people, but I am all too aware at how rarely and imperfectly that happens. I am so glad that God is the One continually at work in me!