Promised peace.

I was the first up in the house this morning.  While that used to always be the case I’ve found in the last few months more often than not one of the boys is greeting me before dawn demanding action and adventure.  When you’re young life is always an adventure and where there’s adventure there is sure to be action.  Anyways I had peace this morning.  So much peace that I was able to catch up on some reading and meet Jesus first thing.

I needed this time today. Lately I’ve found myself pulled and tugged as we work through some difficult programs in therapy.  I have been struggling with doubts and worries about my abilities and strength.  I am at times consumed with thoughts of the future and what it might hold for my son.  I’m also working this weekend so I’m really having to fight to find good moments in which to prepare.  It can be a less than peaceful existence if I don’t stop and take time to meet God, to remember that I am not the one who holds it all together.  To remember that he carries me through and provides me with strength.

In my morning reading I came across a verse that was a great reminder those very things. Jesus gave peace to us freely and reminds us to lay our troubles and worries down. His peace is always there, always available if we look for it and listen for him.  As I walk through today I find myself looking for moments filled with that peace and I know I am not the only one this Holy Week feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. Whether you’re cooking dinner for 15 or leading worship multiple times this week my prayer for you is that you find the promised peace and meet God in the journey as we travel towards the open tomb.

His Peace

Proof there is a God…

…or at least that we were created to worship?

Yesterday the internet broke when news broke that Zayn Malik left the band One Direction. Horror! How could it be? How could one young man decide that he might want to leave and live a normal life?

1D1

Truthfully I’m blown away by the intensity of the reactions. I was part of the NKOTB era and when they ceased to exist we just moved on.  These reactions did make me think though. What we spend our time and energy on is in fact the focus of our lives. This ‘worship’ of celebrity is just a substitution for the worship of God. Can you imagine how the world would change if we invested as much energy in faithfully following Jesus as our society tends to invest in celebrity idol worship? How much love we could spread, time we could invest and people we could serve? It seems to me this is a good time for all of us to think about how we use our time, how we invest our love and energy.

If you’re a a 1D fan I’m sorry for your loss but take heart, Zayn is not dead he’s merely chosen a different path. If you’re not a 1D fan I feel you. I’m not either. It is however a good time to think about the idols in your own life. Have you shifted focus away from God? Are you pointed in the right direction?

It’s a sad day for many 14 year old girls out there.  I hope it gets easier for them…

What if he wasn’t famous?

A few years ago I met Jian Ghomeshi at a book signing in Toronto. He seemed like a nice enough fellow, a little shorter than I imagined but there’s nothing wrong with that. He was publicizing 1982 and women at the blogging conference I was at were going mad for him. The reaction to him was akin to Bieber Fever. It was highly entertaining and his presentation was very engaging. I’ve always enjoyed his radio program Q and as a stay at home Mom is is nice to have culture to connect with at 10 am when dishes were being done. I guess you could call me a fan.

Yesterday afternoon as I was getting ready for a disappointing afternoon of fantasy football I discovered that Jian Ghomeshi had been fired by the CBC. Upon hearing the news I turned to my husband and said “He needs Olivia Pope.  If he’s been fired, that can’t be good and he needs Olivia Pope.” You all watch Scandal, right? No? Well here’s a quick backstory. Olivia Pope is the fixer. She’s the person you call when something goes catastrophically wrong and you need good press, some good fixing. Olivia Pope washes away your sins and crafts a better story, a better tagline for the blogs. Jian Ghomeshi needs Olivia Pope.

Over the past 24 hours statements have been released. He said he was innocent. That the behaviour was consensual. He claimed everything was on the up and up as far as he was concerned and his reputation was being tarnished by a venomous ex-girlfriend.  I heard his story and felt a little played. He is in the business of crafting words and these words were crafted perfectly.  Upon reading those words I knew he’d found his Olivia Pope.

I hate this part of nasty business. The getting people on side part. I suppose it’s necessary to save face and all. If what he said is true then he’s lost his job due to a smear campaign and that’s not good. His confession did exactly what it was supposed to. It encouraged people to side with him, to stand by him. As of this moment there are 102 032 likes on his Facebook post. These likes are people who can take his statement at face value and in many ways I admire that. They believe in him.

I want to be that person. I want to jump up and say without a doubt that I side with him. Truth is I’d love for Jian Ghomeshi to be back in the chair at Q knowing everything was a big misunderstanding but there is one question that eats away at the confidence in his statement. What if he wasn’t famous? Would everyone side with him then or would they listen to the women who claim abuse? Would they be willing to hear the other side of the story?

Regardless of right or wrong, this mess shows us how public a private life can become. Sometimes what you think is private becomes public all too quickly. This is especially true in today’s world of internet and instant media. Every decision we make has consequences and we need to be able to live with them should it ever come to that. Would we be ok if our lives were thrust into the public eye? Would we be able to accept the consequences?

I wonder what the response would be if he wasn’t famous? How many likes would be on a Facebook confession then?

Random thought: I feel like I should be writing a post about how Jesus is our own Olivia Pope. That he cleans up situations and makes everything sparkle again but that’s really not how it works, is it? Jesus forgives us and we’re all clean but if we’re honest about it we always remember and carry our past with us. Instead of hiding the nasty business Jesus helps us face it and makes it better because he accepts us regardless. Got to love that Jesus. He’s the crisis consultant we all need, isn’t he? 

He knows…

I think of my Dad when I hear the news about Ottawa. I call him almost instantly. They could be his friends. In days past it could have been him.

Tucked away in the corner of my bedroom it seems surreal. How could this be happening when life is so peaceful?  Soft breath rises and falls from the tiny one as he sleeps in his corner of the room. Giggles work their way through cracks in the house as my eldest works away at his task. This is ordinary life.

News breaks through the peace. There is violence and fear, terror and dismay. Articles are shared, news spreads and people comment on what’s happening instantly. Theories and ideas, suspicions and details move quickly. Some true, some not so true.  Everyone wants answers. Everyone wants to know the ‘why’?

I think back to my morning reading. I think of the mystics and their belief that if we dig deep, if we push past our sin we will find God. I wonder how deep we have to push to find God in this mess. I do not understand it. I do not understand this intentional wounding of others.

I turn to my prayer book. I open to the chapter on peace and find myself looking for words, looking for help on what to say, what to pray to God. I find a piece of a psalm. I read an intercessory prayer. I read it again.

O Christ of the poor and the yearning
Kindle in my heart within
A flame of love for my neighbour,
For my foe, for my friend, for my kindred all.
From the humblest thing that lives
To the Name that is highest of all
Kindle in my heart within
A flame of love.

J. Phillip Newell, Celtic Prayers from Iona

I think of this love.
I think of the love that is required of us.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

Matthew 5:43-44

I am reminded of the need to pray.

Not just for our country and the safety of it’s citizens.
Not just for peace and resolution to the crisis.
Not just for justice that satisfaction be known to those who seek it.
Not just for families of those who have lost and for the protectors which face danger to keep us safe.
We must also pray for those who would wound and destroy.

I pray for them that they might know a new way, a better way.
I pray that God would open their hearts to peace and understanding.
I pray that they would stop, they would think, they would see the people whom they are wounding.

It’s not fun to pray for one’s enemies.
It’s really hard to think about loving them but love is a choice and Jesus tells us to make that choice.
Sometimes I wonder about Jesus.  Does he know how hard this is?

Then I remember that tree.  I remember those moments where he hung dying, stripped bare and exposed to the world.

He knows hard.
He knows.

The margins

Yesterday at church a kind man took me aside after the congregational meeting and told me he thought I would benefit from building margins into my life.  He said he had done it as he needed some down time in which to really live and he thought I could do with some of that time. I laughed and said he was right but walked away without thinking too much about it. The day stretched on and I found myself bouncing from child to child, from the laundry basket to the dishes and trying to squeeze a few moments in to read my book of the week. It was not a Sabbath. It was another work day. I had things to do. I didn’t rest. Looking back I see that this is not good.

He was right, I need to build in margins. You know who else talks about margins, God and I should’ve been listening to him too.  I need margins. I need to build some breaks into my days. It’s in the margins of life that God is found. God can be heard there, embraced there, experienced there. When life gets over scheduled it can be hard to see what is happening, to embrace the miracle of the moment.

I’m going to work on building those margins in. I know that it’s needed. I cannot maintain this pace and expect God to keep up. God has asked me to slow down. God has asked me to take a rest. It’s time I stopped and listened to that. It’s time I stopped and listened to him.

I may be losing it…

I am tired. Really tired. My son is teething. I’m not sleeping. I make it through the day but find myself falling asleep on my poor husband every night while watching TV. It’s not a season for rest in this house. It’s something else altogether and in the midst of it all I’ve found myself thinking that I’d like to write a book. I think I’ve lost it, gone off the deep end. With everything that’s going on I don’t know that I have time but the thought keeps entering my consciousness and I find myself wondering how I could make it all work.

Pray for me will you? I may be losing it or I might just be starting something. Who knows but whatever winds up happening I must ask you to pray because I think that even if I don’t write a book, I’m stepping on a path to somewhere. I don’t know where that is yet but I have a feeling it will be an adventure.

 

IMG_2554

The hair dryer that wasn’t…

 hairdryer

About 6 months ago I bought a new hair dryer. My hair dryer had died and I needed to replace it. It happens from time to time. Usually every 2-3 years around these parts so I wasn’t concerned. This morning my new hairdryer died in a small puff of heat never to be heard from again. It is unsurprising. Things are made to be discarded and thrown away anymore. New things are enticing, exciting and make money for companies and stores. They are pretty and nice to have around. As things get older and worn, when the chips start to show and the fabric begins to pile we look for newer, better versions. Now I’m not opposed to new things. I love a new sweater when fall comes along and I enjoy getting trinkets for around the house. Sometimes new things are nice but it seems to me that we’re told we should always want the newest of things, the shiniest of objects, the most pristine, clean looking items you can find and that’s not necessarily the best way to live.

This desire for the newest and best of everything has leached into our lived far more than we realize. We’re always looking for something better it seems. We want a better job, better friends, better family, better circumstances. We think things should always look pretty and when things get tough it seems easier to cut and run. This leads to chronic dissatisfaction. No one is happy. It seems as though people are always looking for something else, something better and can I let you in on a little secret? Life while you are living it is almost never pristine. It’s not clean and shiny. Life is a messy, dirty, wonderful kind of chaos that happens while you are living it. If you’re always looking for something more, your not living something now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately particularly regarding faith. As I’ve been searching for new books to read and challenges to discover. I’ve come across a lot of books about God which promise happy days and sunshine if you just believe. They say if you follow God everything will be new and lovely and all kinds of wonderful. I have never met this God. The God I know is a worn in sweater kind of God. The wrap you up in memories and moments kind of God. The stick with you till the end and even further kind of God. I don’t need a flashy faith filled with empty promises. I need something more. Something that carries me beyond sunshine and roses into the strange places I sometimes wander into. I’ll grant you this God is more challenging. Instead of giving me stuff, he’s giving me himself. Instead of promising me a life of ease and prosperity, he’s offering relationships and growth. This God is hard work, good work and it’s a God worth working for.

You matter

fruit fly

You matter.

You may not think you do, but you do. You are important in this world. What you do impacts others and makes a difference in their lives. Don’t believe me? Think of the noble fruit fly. The tiny, insignificant bug that wreaks havoc on the average home. A bug so small you’d think you wouldn’t notice it but you do and in noticing you realize that there are overripe tomatoes on the counter that need to be dealt with.

You matter. You count. You do make a difference.

Go out today and be like the fruit fly. When people aren’t listening get in their face and make them hear what you have to say. Be a nuisance. Be persistent. Take that dream God has planted on your heart and make it a reality.

You matter. You were created for a purpose. Go live out that purpose and see what happens.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

Envy rots the bones.

Like a tiny parasite, envy grows within you at first without you even noticing.  It buries itself deep within your heart and feeds on all those things that you admire and like about those around you.  As you feed it, it grows bigger and bigger.  Then it is everywhere and it’s true nature becomes known to you.  Envy has made it’s way into your life to bring you down.

Envy has struck my heart lately.

It’s not something I’m proud of.  It’s not as though I sit and make lists of things I want or places I need to go.  Envy hits when I least expect it.  When I’m on Facebook and I see something neat that a friend is trying in their church.  It hits when I hear of another friend’s child hitting a milestone for communication. I’m happy for these people.  I truly am.  But sometimes on the tough days a little envy sneaks in and I find myself asking the dreaded question of the ages, ‘why?’.

Why did I study for so long to not work?  Why does my son have to struggle?

Why?

Three letters.  Three small letters that grow and chain themselves around my heart leaving envy behind.

Comparison is not good for the soul.  No ones life is easy.  I’m sure there are some who look at mine and think that it is.  We all face burdens and circumstances that are challenging to us.  Avoiding comparison can help keep envy at bay.  I need to break free from comparison. I need to find peace where I am.

A heart at peace gives life to the body,
    but envy rots the bones. (Proverbs 14:30 NIV)

Today’s world is not one that really encourages deep satisfied peace.  Our Facebook feeds feed us the good news of each others lives and rarely if ever showcase the bad.  Media tells us we will be happy if we only have the right underwear, television or car.  Self help books tell us how to change ourselves into something better.  It’s all great but it doesn’t bring peace.  Peace comes from somewhere else.  Peace comes from someone else.

In my battle to beat the demon that is envy I find myself praying daily for a change in attitude, not circumstance.  While I cannot change what is, I can accept it and move forward from this point with a new perspective and hope.  After all I am not alone in this and there is one who knows what will be.  I must lean on him, let go of envy and fear and work my way into whatever plan he has for me from this point on.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

The bag that was not functional.

I’ve been working hard at perfecting my sewing technique.  As my son’s therapy begins and our time attached to the house increases I find myself looking for things to do during nap time and sewing was one thing I’ve always wanted to get better at.  Yesterday during nap time I made this bag.

Bag

Looks good, right? The stitches are straight. The elastic is firmly connected at the seem. The interfacing is flat and functional.  Everything looks good in the picture. It looks like a clutch you could take out on a nice summer evening. It would be great on a nice summer evening if it wasn’t so large. I was going for a larger style but somehow managed to create the worlds largest clutch and it’s really not functional. I now have a lovely bag which is absolutely useless.

This got me to thinking. How often in our lives do we work away and toil at things which are going nowhere? How long do we continue to push ahead on projects that really should be left behind? I can see that there was a benefit to me in finishing this project. I worked on seams and linings. I was able to line up the button and make sure everything was the way I wanted it to be. There were things I learned and I’ll be able to take that into the next project. It wasn’t a total failure on that front but the outcome was not what I would have hoped.

This effort was a good reminder of was the importance to constantly check what it is I am working on and make sure it is going well and is headed in the right direction. This is true for sewing projects, parenting and my relationship with God. From time to time it’s good to evaluate and really see if I’m where I want to be.

How do you do make sure you’re headed where you want to go?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.