Thursday, February 15, 2007

I like long walks on the beach

No, the above is not the beginning of a personal ad. I'm referring to one of the activities that I enjoyed in Mexico last week.

Yes, I went to Puerto Vallarta for 5 days this past week. It was planned and executed at the very last minute, and even when I got there I still couldn't believe it was happening.

It was the most unproductive trip I have ever taken, which was absolutely perfect. I sat on the beach and by the pool, and swam a lot in both. I attempted to tan, and if you see me in the near future I'll show you my slight change in colour. (I'm still paler than most, but there is a proud achievement in going from white to off-white. You're more likely to notice my darker freckles, but I'll take what I can get.) I went boogie boarding, body-surfing, whale-watching, snorkeling, and just generally had a lot of fun. I enjoyed lots of time spent with a family that has become very dear to me. I'm not sure how I lucked out to be treated as one of them, but I'm thankful!

You may join the masses in hating me when I tell you that the trip was also free. I'm still in shock and gratitude for the goodness of God as demonstrated in the unexpected generosity of friends.

I've been feeling down this winter, and during what happened to be a bitter cold snap, I had to make some big decisions that were very difficult. This opportunity happened at the exact right time for me, and I was able to get away and start healing. I'd been wrestling lately with believing that God has good plans for me, and then last week, on the 5 year anniversary of Ashley's death, I found myself in Puerto Vallarta laying on a massage table getting a back massage. I was confronted with the absurdity of my doubts. His love isn't always displayed through a free trip down south, but I can only thank Him for every unique blessing, and enjoy each in its time.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Why I'm a bad public speaker- POINT 1

Being the performance-driven overachiever that I was in high school, I added participation in public speaking competitions to my already full extracurricular schedule in the 11th grade. I worked hard on my speech; I researched the subject, crafted it carefully, and practiced it repeatedly. I practiced the timing, putting in appropriate pauses for emphasis, facial expressions, and vocal inflections.

The time came for the competition and I was ready. I tackled the challenge with gusto, and it was beautiful. I wowed them with my presentation. I know this sounds a little too self-assured, but I hope you’ll allow me this, especially given the circumstances I must relate below.

The other competitors gave their speeches, and I knew I was a top contender. The other keeners at the top knew it too. As the extemporaneous round started and I took my place at the podium, I could see them squirming uncomfortably in their seats. They knew I had them. I was presented a basket with little slips of folded paper, and I carefully reached in and made a blind selection. My challenge was to take the phrase written on the slip I had chosen, and immediately craft and present a two minute speech.

I cleared my voice, made brief but pointed eye contact with my intimidated competitors, and then unfolded and read the piece of paper in my hand. “Suffering makes you stronger.” I blinked.

Then proceeded the longest 120 seconds of my life.

“Suffering makes you stronger.” I started with authority.

“When you suffer, you get… stronger.” I continued a bit more thoughtfully, looking off to the distance. Pausing for effect.

“To be stronger… you must suffer.” I inflected my voice with a bit of incredulousness, to show that I related to the audience and yet had a deeper understanding of the stated truth.

What followed was some creative re-wording and rearranging of the initial statement, without an ounce of meaning, or substance.

I could tell I was losing them, but I had absolutely nothing to say about this subject. My only recourse was to stall, and try to fool them with my clever re-wordings. It didn’t work. The tension in the front-row keeners visibly eased, until smugly relieved smiles plastered their faces. And there I was, with a stunning conclusion: “Suffering, makes you stronger.” Authoritative once again.

I took my seat knowing that my hopes for a win were lost.

It seems strange to remember a point in my life where I really had nothing to say about the fact that suffering makes you stronger. It’s the one subject about which I can’t stop talking, now.

Just a funny memory that I hope makes you smile, as it does me.

Why I'm a bad public speaker- INTRO

I've decided that it's time for me to post a 3 part series, starting today.

The topic is, "Why I'm a terrible a public speaker"

I have three amusing stories to share about some of my public speaking disasters. I've had some good ones as well, and some mediocre ones, but these three are by far my funniest ones.

I'm definitely a writer, not a speaker. My thoughts run in so many abstract directions, and then I try to put it all together sequentially. When I can think it through a bit and craft my sentences in writing, I express myself better. Speaking, I often get tangled up in abstract thought directions, and lose the listeners.

I'm well aware however, that some of my writing could substitute for sedatives for people who are having trouble sleeping.

That said, if you're reading this, you're here of your own volition. I hope my stories make you smile, or at least put an end to your latest phase of insomnia.

Succession of discoveries

I read a good quote today:

"Life is meant to bring a succession of discoveries of our need of Christ, and the way is opened for a new inflow of the supply... and as our need is met, as we prove the sufficiency of Christ to meet our inward need, so there can be a new sharing forth of His glory through us."
-Miles J. Stanford, The Green Letters