Crashing from a High


I’m coming down off of a Major Camp High…. for those of you who have no idea what that means, I’ll try to explain.  You go away for a while to somewhere where you’re immersed in Jesus, and all things related, and worship, and you’re just surrounded by people with a desire to serve God and love God and love others because of God’s love for them…. and it makes you want to be like that too.  It’s quite a fantastic feeling.

It happens regularly post youth retreats, post conferences, and in my case this year…. post Camp.  I had such a good summer at Camp this year, even despite myself, that it’s hard not to see God in it.  I find it impossible actually.  How much I’ve grown, changed, improved, become a slightly different and more grown up version of me this summer… it’s all a result of how much I saw of God at Camp this summer.

I attribute a lot of that to having had my eyes opened to the need for joy (and the way to achieve it — thankfulness) by reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, but I sincerely believe that God got a hold of in other ways this summer, too.  Not just by reading a book, though I don’t diminish the impact that has had on me, and the impact it has on others.

But the problem with this Camp High thing, is that you always come down from it.  It’s just like a sugar or caffeine rush, and trust me, I’m not stranger at all to either of those.  You come crashing back down when you’re no longer in that spot.  And, I strongly believe, the Devil and all his minions go after you because you’re not in a place they want you.  They want you half asleep, not really seeing God around you.  Well I don’t want to be like that!  But today is the first time I picked up my Gifts journal since I got back on Sunday, and that scares me a little bit.

I’m going to have to be much more intentional about the time I spend with God when there are no Staff Devos and there’s no Chapel, and I’m not on Worship team every single morning.  It’s a lot harder to do when it’s not right in front of you.

I have a plan though, and it’s two-fold.  Hehe… I like “two-fold..”….. I would really like to get back into working out.  I slacked hardcore in that department this summer, and the results were immediate.  I put on almost 15 pounds in 8 weeks.  Not cool!  So… I need to eat better and continue exercising, and not just for myself, but because my body is not mine but God’s, and I am merely a steward of it.  So if I’m not taking care of it properly, I’m not doing what God has asked of me.

I’d like to download past Meeting House sermons…. don’t know about The Meeting House?  Check it out!  www.themeetinghouse.com  And I’d like to listen to them while I work out… whenever that time happens to work best in my schedule once I get back into a regular routine… and once I have my weights and my gazelle back.  They’re in a storage unit until Saturday when I get the rest of my stuff.  I think it’s a good plan, but, can I stick to it?  Can I combat the crash of the Camp High by staying in touch with God?  I haven’t been able to achieve much success in this department in the past…. so…. here’s hoping!  Here’s praying… that God will keep drawing me in and not let me forget.

On that note, I have so so much to be thankful for today.  Here it is:

170.  Final swims for the summer that last an hour and a half.

171. Smooth, SAFE trips home.

172. My pooch — sad to see her so depressed at the end of each summer because I take her away from the bush and my Mom’s two dogs, but her loyalty and love are amazing, and so necessary in my life.

173.  Hospitality in old friends.

174.  Girl talk at midnight.

175.  New pillows!

176.  My hair no longer touches my eyeballs.

177.  Hair grows back (I wasn’t very pleased with my hair trim… I was looking for a silver lining.  The bangs have settled now, and don’t look like I cut them myself with safety scissors like they did Sunday.  Bonus!)

178. Smooth house sale closures.

179. Generosity in the previous owners…. FREE FUTON!

180.  Walks by the river… the view pales in comparison to Camp’s, but it’s still lovely.

181. The way Kloe loves to explore.

182. When Kloe chases her tail.

183. Running into students in Dollarama and having them be excited to see me.  It makes all the politics worth it.

184. Conquering fears and solving my own problems — I had the biggest bee I’ve EVER seen in my living room this afternoon… not knowing what else to do with it, I sucked it up with the vacuum cleaner and emptied the dust cup outside… It looked me right in the eye after I let it go.  I think, if it could talk, it’d tell me to watch my back, but… it’s not in the house, so the crisis is averted…….. for now.

185. The excitement in picking paint colours.

186. Flowers that can survive a drought.

I’m pretty sure these are weeds, but they’re still really pretty, and still went most of a summer with no water…

 

All photos taken by me on my Motorola Charm.

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Bittersweet.


This summer has been bittersweet.

I know it’s no secret that I didn’t really want to come to Camp when I got here.  I didn’t want to leave and I wanted to be here even less by the time I got here.  I thought I had a relationship that was starting to take off before I left, and it didn’t pan out, largely due to a summer apart, so he says.  I was thoroughly disappointed, and it sure didn’t help not wanting to be here.

But there’s a sweet part, too.  There’s been a sweet part to every bitter moment through my entire summer.  The sweet part here is that while I didn’t want to be here…. at all…. when I got here, I made and solidified some awesome friendships, I fell in love with a God I’ve never experienced like this before, and you know what… I didn’t waste my time on a guy who clearly wasn’t interested anyway.

Bitter moments give you a choice.  You can choose to react poorly, lacking grace, not demonstrating Christ in you… or you can choose the opposite.  I know for me, my instincts tell me to pitch a fit.  My instincts told me to pitch a fit yesterday when I found out that I can’t get into my classroom until at the very least the beginning of October, and… knowing how the school board works when it’s something that doesn’t directly concern them, I imagine it’ll be later than that.  Getting my own classroom was a huge reason that I didn’t actively pursue another position for this year.  Well… I chose, rather than being grumpy, while I did have a disappointed moment…. I chose to show grace and be flexible.  I chose to tell my VP that no, it’s not a problem for the displaced Kinder class whose portable isn’t built yet to use my classroom until it’s ready… I’m able to roam from room to room, they’re not.  Problem solved.  Bittersweet.  Added bonus, I also now don’t have to feel guilty that I’d rather be at home unpacking and organizing my new house than at school after work decorating my classroom.  As I finish one, I’ll be able to start the other.

I bought an iPad.  I returned it.  I returned it because it didn’t feel right.  But it wasn’t…. I now don’t have a room to use it in, and I should be getting a laptop from the school board by December or January… so if I don’t need it until at least into October, I can manage without for a couple of months.  Listening to that voice in my head telling me to return that iPad was the best decision I’ve made ALL summer, I would say… well, other than the decision to love God and follow with all my heart.  Trust in His perfect timing, you know… all that.  But I’d say that it’s the best decision I made that involved something material.  Here’s the funny thing about His perfect timing.  I bought the iPad two weeks ago Wednesday.  You have a 14 day return window from Staples when you buy electronics from them.  I returned it on Saturday, after deciding on Thursday night that I just couldn’t keep it, and putting it back in the box as you learned in my post about conviction.  I talked to my VP yesterday to find that I couldn’t get into my classroom immediately…. 15 days after I purchased the iPad.  How upset would I have been if I’d spent all that money to discover 24 hours beyond the refund window that I couldn’t undo my decision.  The sweet to this bitter is being able to recognize the benefits of listening to and obeying God.

Bitter…. having to leave Camp.  Funny, how this story starts with how I was bitter about getting here, and coming in the first place.  But the sweet side of life is that I’m going home to my very own home.  I move in in exactly one week, and I’m so stoked for that.

156.  Changing leaves; pretty colours.

This was a couple days ago. The colours are brilliant now. I should take another picture tomorrow.  (taken on my Motorola Charm)

157. Family dinner.

158. The way our brains work — we can learn new things (in this case, new board games with complex strategy), at any age, and still apply those skills.

159. Extremely productive days yielding completed Long Range Plans and a bunch of posters for my classroom.

160. How our bodies give us signals when something isn’t right… This is a stretch, but I’m trying to be thankful for motion sickness here.  I went out for dinner with my family on Wednesday evening and on the way back with a very full stomach, I felt very ill.  I appreciate the way our bodies give us warning signals to let us know that something is not right, and that’s a pretty good example of that.

161. When God reveals His plans and the reasons for them so that I can understand decisions like why I had to return the iPad.

162. A vice-principal who graciously took my opinions and desires into account before changing my schedule and rearranging my room.  What an awesome woman to work for 🙂

163.  That I don’t have to find time to set up a classroom while settling into the house — a gift of less busyness.

164.  That I wasn’t able to get into my classroom in early August when I tried, or it’d probably be set up by now and I’d have to clean it all up.

165. When you look, you can trace the outline of God’s hands through all of life’s circumstances.

166. Late night giggles over Pinterest quotes — some deliciously deep, others satisfyingly silly.

167. The one-track mind of a dog.  In this case, they all want brownies. (taken on my Motorola Charm)

168. One last dip in the lake before I go home.

169. My stomach can growl angrily because it’s 1 am and I’m hungry, but I can turn out the light without wondering whether or not I’ll eat breakfast in the morning.

The grass is greener where you water it.


The grass is not greener on the other side.

That’s a lie.

It’s a lie the Devil and his mixed up, evil bunch of angels/minions/followers… whatever… tell us.  They tell us this so we’ll constantly strive, long, hope, wish, reach, try, clamber, grasp, claw …. insert desperate verb of your choice here… for something ‘better’ than what we have.

The grass is not greener on the other side.  It’s greener where you water it.

I should not still be awake.  I should be sleeping.  But I learned something today that I wish I could unlearn, and yet I think as I lay here trying to process (which is why I’m still awake), I’m finding that I’m glad I know it, because it’s teaching me a lot of things, and giving me my first opportunity to be thankful in a hard thing.  I’ll share that further down.

The grass is greener where you water it.  This doesn’t just apply to grass.  Go figure, right?  And here you thought I was laying awake at 12:30 am processing that grass is greener when you water it….  It applies to our relationships, but also to our careers.  To our hobbies.  To our spending habits.  Relationships is the biggest one I want to drive at right now, but allow me to digress for just a moment and set up my idea with an illustration with careers.

“The grass is always greener on the other side.”  So in my case, as a teacher, the grass would be greener at a different school, with different kids.  Wrong.  Kids will be kids.  There will always be people I don’t necessarily get along with.  In fact, the grass may not be greener at another school… it could be worse.  I find I have to admit that most days, I have it pretty good.  I haven’t had anything thrown at me in nearly 4 years, so I can count that as a plus.  Though that first year sure was tough…. The point here is that the grass is greener where I water it.  When I cultivate relationships with my coworkers, when I do my absolute best to reach every kid and see each kid succeed, no matter what, that’s where the grass is greener.  That’s when it’s good.  That doesn’t mean it’ll always be sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows.  I am not naive.  But when I am trusting on God for the strength to do my best at what He’s given me the opportunity to do, it has to be better than when I’m relying solely on myself.

Now I’d like to talk about marriage.

Allow me to be clear.  I am not married.  Those of you who’ve been following this blog since I started it in November are very well aware of this fact, because I have typically not been very pleased with this single state of mine.  The grass seems much greener over there in ‘married-people-land.’  So with my not being married, I understand, and want you to understand, that I am not writing this with any assumption of expertise.  This is all viewed through the lens of someone completely single, who’s never been in a real relationship of any sort.

I think the evil forces at work around us are attacking our marriages with a simple phrase:  the grass is greener on the other side.  It’s cliche, I know, and it is likely not that cliche in our minds when we think it, but the “I’d like someone prettier” or “I wish I had someone who understands me”… whatever your excuse for not being happy in your marriage (this is a proverbial you… I am not speaking to anyone in specific here) is that ‘grass on the other side.’  I saw an illustration during Family Camp’s Chapel services where the Pastor showed 4 different places — China, India, Africa, and North America.  We talked about the things that pull attention away from God and make it hard to defeat “The Beast” in each place.  In China, it’s things like Communism, poverty, gender discrimination in that no one wants girls because of the one child policy, religious persecution… the list goes on.  India – Hinduism, Buddhism, poverty, caste systems, major differences in class distinction.  Africa – corruption, civil war, AIDS, poverty, traditional religions.  The lists go on.  I’m certainly not remembering everything.  North America is different though.  We have lots of stuff.  The Devil doesn’t need to convince us that God isn’t there for us by showing us our poverty, our disease, etc.  And I know, there are people in North America who suffer from these things as well, but you have to admit with me that especially in the US and Canada, we are quite well off.  If you can read this, and own the computer that you’re reading it from, you’re better off than most of the world.  The way we’re attacked in North America to detract our focus from God is through materialism, busyness, stress, workaholism, divorce… the lists are very different.

I’ve digressed a little bit.  But so you see, what I’m seeing all around me lately is marriages that just don’t work.  And that scares me.  It scares me to think that this thing that I want (in God’s timing, when it’s right, so that it lasts), is statistically more likely to fail than to succeed in the place where I live.  I won’t ever go hungry, I’ll be able to make my mortgage payments, I’ll be able to buy things that I want… but my marriage may not last.

Marriages crumble because people give up on them.  Because we live in this disposable society where it’s almost cheaper to buy a new printer when you run out of ink.  We live in this disposable society where if something is cheaper in bulk, we’ll buy it in bulk, even if it means we throw out what we don’t use.  We live in this disposable society where when marriages get boring, lose their spark, get annoying, get hard…. we walk away.  It’ll be better next time.  This one just wasn’t right.

Good marriages are hard.  They take work.  And I’m SO SO thankful for the many people around me who’ve shown me fantastic examples of what good, Godly marriages should look like, so that if/when I ever get there, I have seen the benefits, but I’ve also seen that it takes work.

Good marriages require God to be at their centre.  I refuse…. flat out refuse to enter into a relationship with a man whose centre is not God.  I cannot fill that role for someone else.  I can’t be someone’s rock, I can’t be leaned on… I’ll fall over.  Ask my brother.  It’s too much to ask.  And by the same token, it’s too much for me to ask of someone else that he support me all the time, that he be my everything.  I cannot be someone’s everything, nor can anyone but God be that for me.  It’s not fair to ask it of anyone.

But like I said, I am not an expert.  These are merely the observations of someone who is chronically single.  But you know what?  I’m presently quite content in my singleness.  When I look back at what I thought I wanted, when I thought I had good examples around me to go by, I cringe.  If God had allowed those relationships that I thought I wanted so badly to happen, I can’t imagine the pain I’d have suffered when they ended.  I’m sure I’d have gone farther than I wanted to go in order to keep them.  I know what I was like as a teenager… it wouldn’t have been good.  God, in His wisdom, has kept me single to keep me sane, I think.  I haven’t been ready.  Where I sit now, I am very much looking forward to being in a relationship with a guy whose desire is to love me the way Christ loves the Church, and whose desire is to enter into a partnership with me, using God as our support beam.  I am looking forward to what that looks like.  But if that never happens, that’s OK.  God is enough for me.  Way more than enough.

But this feeling has prompted me to start praying for my husband in the last week or so.  I’ve been praying over him, asking God to keep him safe, to keep him pure, and to keep him close until we can meet.  Asking God to keep drawing him into Him, so that we’re in the same place when we do meet.  And so I’m excited to meet him.  Some day.  When it’s right.  Not before.

So I ask of any of you who are married… please put and keep God at the centre of your relationships.  Don’t look elsewhere for your happiness.  The grass is greener where you water it.  You need to work at your relationship for it to be good.  It doesn’t happen naturally because we’re all sinners and we all do and say stupid things, and we’re all different.  Work at your relationships – know the person, trust the person, invest in the person.  This is God’s model for marriage, and relationships in general.  Whether you’re married or not.  I know I can certainly find application there to my relationships with my friends, and with my coworkers, and I see it and embrace it as a good opportunity for practice.

I think that’s it.  I think I’m done.  Thank you for bearing with me through yet another long and rambly post.

Here are my additions to ‘the list’ since yesterday.

152.  Long, deep, piping hot baths.

153.  My singleness — God has kept me safe from some of the terrible decisions I could have… and likely would have made if I’d dated/been in relationships with guys before strengthening my relationship with God.

154. Seeing and finding joy in the first ‘hard thing.’

155.  Stellar examples of Godly marriages in place in my life that can be mentors when that time comes.

That feeling in your gut when you know you shouldn’t have done something….


That feeling in your gut when you know you shouldn’t have done something is called conviction.  It sucks.  And it’s awesome.

All at the same time.

This past Wednesday I went on a Mother-Daughter adventure.  We went shopping, we went out for dinner.  It was lovely.  We went to Staples.  I’ve been researching, thinking on, dwelling on… a tablet.  To be more specific… an iPad.  I have thoroughly thought this through, and I knew exactly why it would be a good idea for me to have one, too.  I get my own classroom this year at school.  This is a new thing for me as I’ve previously been pushing a cart from classroom to classroom.  The only, and I do mean only downfall to this is that I don’t have a SmartBoard or a computer in my room yet.  I believe they’re coming, but I’ve gotten quite accustomed to their presence, and I have to go back to teaching without them.  I know, spoiled, right?  So I convinced myself that I needed a tablet, because I don’t like the idea of hauling my laptop back and forth from home to school.  That’s how they get broken.

During Chapel during 2nd week of Family Camp, the Pastor talked about how the sub-conscious of our minds will go to great lengths to convince us to justify things we shouldn’t do.  He used the example that if he has a weakness for cookies, in a strong moment he decides not to keep cookies in the house.  So at 10 pm when he wants cookies, his brain reminds him that he’s out of laundry detergent.  Naturally, it’s an emergency, and he has to go immediately to get laundry detergent.  So off to the 24 hour Sobey’s he goes to pick up laundry detergent.  While he’s there, he remembers that he needs milk.  To get to the milk, though, naturally he has to go through the cookie aisle.  In the cookie aisle, there’s a teenager stocking shelves with new kinds of cookies.  It’d be rude not to stop and talk to him, and when the stock-boy asks if he’d like to try this new kind of cookie, of course it’d be rude not to take them…. so he walks in the door from Sobey’s at 10:30 pm with laundry detergent, milk, and cookies… and he says to his wife “I don’t know how it happened!!”  He explained that our brains will do this as a way of getting around what we tell them when we have patterns formed.  It will form new pathways to get us to what we know we really want, no matter how much we’re trying to deny ourselves.  I don’t know if this is a real-life situation, or if it’s simply a funny illustration, but boy does it ring true for me right now.

As I was saying, I convinced myself that I needed this thing.  I convinced myself that my 1300.00 MacBook Pro wasn’t a good enough tool, and that I needed a tablet.  It’d be better if I could hold it in my hand.  I’d be a better teacher, because I’m up with all the latest technology.  I’d look cooler to the kids.  I’d look better to my Principal.  My MacBook would be safe at home.  I’ve got the money in my savings account so it’s not even like I’m putting it on my credit card.  I need it for school.  I NEED it.  These were all things I thought through for a good three-four weeks while I researched tablets.

Wednesday night, I bought a tablet.  Not just any tablet… I bought an iPad.  I put it on my VISA, fully intending to pay it back off with the money in my savings account.  But you know that feeling you get in your gut when you know you shouldn’t have done something?  Yeah… that yucky feeling that no one likes?  We don’t like to feel guilty.  Well, that’s how I felt.  I justified it away again, for a little bit…..

But it kept coming back.

I told myself, no… it’s fine.  You saved for this, you need this.  It’s fine.  I set it up anyway.  I downloaded apps.  I felt even guiltier, and an even stronger sense that I shouldn’t have this awesome thing.

So I prayed about it.  I asked God what HE thought about me having this awesome thing.  It basically came down to this — if He didn’t want me to keep it, He should just keep doing whatever He was doing and right shortly I wouldn’t even want it anymore.  Well… that’s what happened.  I didn’t want it anymore.  I’d put it in the box on Thursday night after playing with it and setting it up nearly all day, and I didn’t take it out of the box again until today.  But the other important part to this ‘saga’ is that I’d dramatically roughed up the packaging when I opened the iPad, thinking it was mine to keep forever, and who needs the packaging when that’s the case?  I knew that sometimes, stores won’t take products back if the packaging isn’t in good enough condition.  I prayed again.  If God wanted this iPad to go back to the store, if I wasn’t supposed to have it, Staples needed to take it back even though the packaging was crumpled and crinkled.  Well… I took it out of the box again.  In the parking lot at Staples to clean the screen off and wipe away my filthy fingerprints.  They took it back.

And then… that weight lifted.  That ugly feeling of knowing you shouldn’t have done something but you did it anyway… it was gone.  I relaxed knowing that the money in my savings account can buy the bedroom window in my new house that desperately needs to be replaced.  I relaxed knowing that the money in my savings account can buy the paint I want to paint the ocean puke off of the bathroom walls (it’s seafoam green… it has to go).  I relaxed knowing that I’d listened to my Father.  Knowing that obedience is worship.  Knowing that by returning the iPad, and not having another thought about it… was worship.

I learned that conviction, while it sucked to have to give up something I really wanted, is a very good thing.  That conviction led me to do what I knew in my heart was the right thing.  I went about it wrong, I shouldn’t have bought it in the first place… but I listened really closely when I started feeling that uneasy sense of wrongness.  Let me assure you that the feeling of knowing you’ve done what’s right is better than the feeling of keeping that thing that’s wrong.  Or continuing to do that thing that’s wrong.  There’s a deeper satisfaction than what I got from the two and a half days I spent with the iPad.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that buying or having an iPad is wrong.  What I’m saying, is that I didn’t need it, I don’t need it, I shouldn’t have bought it, and that money in my savings account is there for a reason.  It’s there because I knew going into the summer I had things to fix on the house.  The house that God provided for me.  I feel better knowing that I’ve chosen God’s way.

I want to always choose God’s way.

Here’s the thing… and this is a next morning edited addition to this post.  God doesn’t give us rules to keep us from enjoying life.  He gives us rules so that we can enjoy life to its fullest.  He gives us rules for our good.  In this case, He gave me the rule that I shouldn’t spend $400.00 that I don’t need to spend… not so I can’t have fun… but so I can continue to save it for the things He meant for me to have with that money, and so that I can give Him the glory later when I say “I could have an iPad right now, but instead I have windows that reduce my energy bill.”  I prefer that way.  I prefer God’s way.

This reminds me of the song my brother has been singing incessantly for the past two days.  “I Will Follow” by Chris Tomlin.  Here are the lyrics:

Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow…

All your ways are good
All your ways are sure
I will trust in you alone
Higher than my side
High above my life
I will trust in you alone

Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow you
Who you love, I’ll love
How you serve I’ll serve
If this life I lose, I will follow you
I will follow you

Light unto the world
Light unto my life
I will live for you alone
You’re the one I seek
Knowing I will find
All I need in you alone, in you alone

In you there’s life everlasting
In you there’s freedom for my soul
In you there joy, unending joy
and I will follow

and here’s a link to the song on YouTube.

I know this post has been lengthy already, but as I haven’t blogged in a week, my list is lengthy as well.  Please bear with me.

115.  Big, warm blankets.

116. Board Games with Ashtyn and Tiff

117. Beating Frank at Ticket to Ride.

118. Cozy cotton PJ sets

119. Inspiring truth in a message I needed to hear.

120.  Women willing to share of themselves to teach and encourage other women how to relate to the men in our lives in a way that honours God

121.  Goofy worship team practices, and how everything seems to come together really well anyway.

122. That I live in a country that is free – I have freedom of speech, my internet isn’t censored, and I can worship God openly without fear of persecution.  I can write this blog!

123. The sound of an acoustic guitar.

124. Air conditioning.

125. The opportunity to influence young lives in a few weeks, and the ability to look to God for the strength to do it.

126.  God’s Grace — undeserved and yet totally beautiful.

127. Chubby 2 year old girl with flowers in her hands, hands clasped, eyes closed, and leaned on the church pew while the pastor prays.  Children follow our lead.

128. The way fog dampens and makes everything still and quiet.

There should be an island out there…

129. Harmony that blends naturally, effortlessly.

130. Bacon and Chocolate Chip cookies.  Together.  Trust me.

131.  Rumbling thunder and pretty cloud formations.

132.  Pouring rain.

133.  Conviction — it’s hard, but it lets me know I’m connecting deeper with God.

134. Mommy time.

135.  Anticipation of new beginnings in the fall.

136.  Friends willing to help me move.  Such an incredible blessing not to have to pay movers.

137. How counting gifts makes me look for more.

138. Accapella worship — how it doesn’t need guitars, drums, or amplification to be pleasing to God.

139.  Little babies falling asleep in my arms.

140.  The “terrifying glory” in a spectacular sunset.

141. The crisp freshness of fall’s pending arrival.

142. The silly noises my dog makes – how they’re a way she communicates with me.

143. The end of Family Camp.

144. Brother-Sister Adventures

145. My brother

146. The way God listens, hears, answers, and never lets go.

147. Sleeping with the windows open.

148.  Way less responsibility – an actual vacation

149. Strong hands to work out the kinks in my neck

150. The sound of crickets chirping in the woods

151. Not a single thing to get up for in the morning — turning off the alarm for the first time since mid-June.

 

All photos were taken by me.

Show me what I have to be thankful for


Lately I haven’t really written a lot in my thanks journal.  I haven’t been finding things to be thankful for.  I was looking for big things.  What’s wrong with looking for little things though?  Aren’t we supposed to be thankful in ALL things?  Not just the awesome, big, spectacular things?

During chapel this morning, we watched a video where a guy laid down in bed and prayed “Lord, I’m struggling.  Show me what I have to be thankful for.”  He wakes up the next morning, and as he goes about his day, a list scrawls across the page of things he has to be thankful for.  It was pretty convicting.  Things like “I can move.”  Things like “I can walk without pain; I can read.”  I have added them all to my journal, because they’re fundamental!  They should be things I’m thankful for every single day without question.  When I can’t find anything else, why wouldn’t I be thankful for the fact that I have a family that loves me, that I have friends, that I have shelter, food, clothing, and clean running water.  Well…. most of the time I have clean, running water.  This morning, Camp had none… but that’s a Camp problem, haha.

Let’s look at this really clearly and objectively though… if you can’t be thankful for things like opening your eyes and getting a chance to go again in life, how are you going to be thankful when you get hurt, or when someone dies, or when something really bad happens?  Simple answer – you won’t be able to.  Gratefulness is practiced.  It is learned.  It is not just acquired overnight.  You don’t just wake up and go “I’m gonna be grateful from now on” or EVERYONE would be able to do this.

So today I crossed over the 100 threshold because I pilfered 18 things from this video in chapel today.

92. Friends to keep me accountable to my desire not to eat piles of candy.           …. I went to the tuck shop, grabbed a pack of Reeses, and the two girls who were running tuck for me today yelled NO!  You said NO CANDY!  Put it BACK! at me…. it was sad, but awesome at the same time.

93.  I can move.

94. I can walk.

95. I rarely worry about my safety.

96. I have a job.  A really well-paying one, actually.

97. I have skills.

98. I own a car, and owe nothing on it.

99. I have friends.

100. I have a family that loves me!

101. I have shelter.

102. I can afford food.

103. I can see.

104. I can hear.

105. I can write.

106. I have clean, running water… most of the time.

107. I have plenty of clothes.

108. I have a healthy heart.

109. I can walk and run without pain.  Well, I have pain when I run… but that’s from running itself and using muscles more than I’m used to.  That’s from exercise, and that’s ok.

110. I can buy coffee… every day.  I don’t, but I could if I wanted to.

111. I have plenty of vacation time, and somewhere to go for free.

112. I can sing.

113. Nice sunny days after several gloomy, rainy days so I could finally do laundry and hang it out on the line.

114. A culture of friendliness where it’s fun to hide this stupid Boobah toy all over Camp.

 

All photos taken by me.

Survival of the Fittest


The trees are dying.  It’s been so dry.  It’s been raining steadily for 3 days, to the point that they’ve finally lifted the fire ban that’s been on since July 5th… but only to permit fires of 2×2 feet.  This post has been flitting around in my head for over a week, so here I sit now, on a very soggy, wet, rainy, thundery Saturday afternoon with time to write it.  When I was down South at home last weekend, I went a-wandering through my new house one more time.  The house across the street has a gigantic tree in the backyard that is dying.  The leaves are brown and crunchy, and they looked ready to fall off… on August 3rd.  Not October 3rd.  My realtor commented that in a summer this dry, the trees experience Survival of the Fittest.

How glad am I that life is not like that?  By God’s grace, life is not like that.  I wouldn’t want a life like that.  We don’t need to just ‘survive.’  Not only the best of us can succeed.  Everyone has a place and has worth and everyone can do something in and for the Kingdom of God.  We don’t have to be the top of the top.  We don’t have to have it all together.  We just need to be real and we need to be trying.  We need to make conscious decisions to always strive for the best version of ourselves that Jesus has created in us.

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say.  Nothing overly inspired today.
Here’s the list.

79. Greg’s mad piano skills drifting through the lodge.

80. singing in front of a microphone – lacking stage fright; giving the gift back

81. swimming in water that’s warmer than the air

82. fog over the lake

83. silliness and Russian accents

84.  Being stretched out of my comfort zone, even if only vocally

85. Die-hards swimming, canoeing, tubing, and knee boarding in a steady drizzle – determination that won’t let a little rain ruin vacation.

86. Worship that goes really even with hardly any practice –> glory belongs to God

87. Holding my own in the office by myself

88. Help that makes work light

89. Patient and understanding Family Campers

90. Denying my inner Cocoa the satisfaction of throwing the Kyocera in the lake.

91. 10,000 reasons for my heart to sing.

What a Friend we’ve found


So I’m sitting in a Muskoka Chair at the top of a hill overlooking Ahmic Lake, and how do you beat that?  This view… it never gets old.

This picture wasn’t taken today.  It’s a bit drearier today, and there’s a boat whipping tubers around in the lake, but you get the idea.  I’m just too lazy to go get my camera.  I’m having one of those days.

One of those days where it’s hard to stop and take notice of fantastic things.

One of those days where everything annoys me.  It’s my day off and I should be able to just forget about responsibilities and relax, but I’m finding it really difficult today.

On that note, while I sit looking at the completely parched ground, the really low lake, and the clouds that appear to hold rain but don’t want to give it up…. I think I’ll meditate on a song we sang in Chapel this morning.  It’ll give me a chance to have some fun with my new Bibles, too 😉

This morning we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” . . . a classic.  One I’ve sung probably hundreds of times in the span of years I spent growing up in the church.  So many times, in fact, that I don’t know that I’ve ever stopped to think about what the words really mean.  Those words hit me this morning.  They actually took on meaning.

Here are the lyrics…  Underneath each verse I’ve added my own “thoughts”, I guess, my interpretation.  My paraphrase, if you will.

  1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!

What an awesome friend Jesus is.  He takes on all our sin and grief.  How excellent is it that we’re able to take everything to God in prayer, no matter what.  We often give up so much peace and suffer for nothing because we don’t bother to take everything to God in prayer.

  1. Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful,
    Who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness;
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Do we have troubles?  Are we tempted?  Do we go through crappy stuff?  Who cares?  We shouldn’t be discouraged, we should take it to the Lord in prayer.  Is there a friend anywhere who sticks by us that closely anywhere who will listen to all our sorrows and pain?  Jesus knows everything that’s wrong with us, all of our weaknesses.  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

  1. Are we weak and heavy-laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
    Thou wilt find a solace there.

Are we weak and burdened, buried under a load of stress and concern that we can’t handle?  Our Saviour is just that — our Saviour.  Take it to the Lord in prayer.  Do your friends hate you?  Abandon you?  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

  1. Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
    Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing
    All to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
    There will be no need for prayer—
    Rapture, praise, and endless worship
    Will be our sweet portion there.

Blessed Saviour You have promised that you will take on everything we’re bothered by.  Let us always bring everything to You in heartfelt prayer.  Soon we’ll see You in Heaven and it’ll be bright and glorious.  We won’t need to pray there because we’ll have been taken in by our Father and all we’ll do is praise and worship for eternity, and THAT will be our comfort then.

So I did some digging.

I wanted to know where this song came from, if there were verses that inspired it.  I was sure there were, I just didn’t know where.  I grabbed my NIV Worship Bible.  It’s got a listing of songs in the back as an index where you can look up the song and it tells you the page where to find reference to it…. you know, cuz that’s what indexes do.  I looked it up as it’s a pretty old song and I expected it to be there.  And it was!  I found it in James 1!

James 1:2-8 (NIV)

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

James asks us to find joy in our trials because it strengthens us and makes us persevere, and the Lord will honour those who persevere.  Obviously this doesn’t cover the entire song, but it’s the general idea of it.

As I mentioned in another post, my Bible has these “My Beloved” love letters from God, compiled from various verses.  Here is the one found alongside this passage.

Life is not without difficult seasons.  But consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope.  In order for you to become mature and complete in Me, perseverance must finish its work in you.

Though now for a little while you have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials, remember that trials come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Just think of My prophets of old who spoke in My name only to face suffering.  In the end they were blessed because they persevered.  You too will be blessed when you persevere under trials, because when you have stood the test, you will receive the crown of life that I have promised to those who love Me.

You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what I finally brought about for him.  I made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.  I blessed the latter part of his life more than the first.

So take heart and do not throw away your confidence in Me.  You need to persevere so that when you have done My will, you will receive all that I have promised.  Hold on tight!

Taken from Job 42:10, 12; Romans 5:3-4; Heb. 10:35-36; James 1:2-4, 12; 5:10-11; 1 Peter 1:6-7

Exodus 33:11 says:  “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.  Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.”  (NIV)  Wow.  Face to face as to a friend.  I know I’ve never been that close to God.  Can I be so bold as to say I want that?

John 15:13-15 says:  “This is the very best way to love.  Put your life on the line for your friends.  You are my friends when you do the things I command you.  I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning.  No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.” (The Message)

So there you have it, words that were written by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855 have hit me in a new way in 2012.  Must be a powerful message…

73. Sleeping all night long, uninterrupted, for the first time in days.
74.  Scripture role-played to truly help us see its meaning.
75.  Discernment that comes from talking to wise people willing to sit and chat and speak into my life.
76.  Rain on the Chapel roof.
77.  The inability to laugh that comes with laughing uncontrollably.
78.  Days off meant for relaxing and refreshing renewal with God.
All photos taken by me.

I’m tired of being Batman. Today I’ll be an owl.


Masks.

They’ve come up a few times in passing these past few days for me.  In quite different applications, actually.  I’ve been really excited to get back to a place where I’m not running from one place to the next like a crazy person so that I have time to blog these thoughts.  I’m back up North now after a whirlwind weekend at home (except not at home since I’m still without a home until August… but I got to get in and get some measurements and take some pictures!!).  I was down for a wedding, and a dear friend of mine had a baby last week, and I needed to meet with my lawyer to sign papers for my house.  Busy, busy, busy!

So the first place the concept of masks came up will not be a stretch at all to see where it came from.  I saw Batman with a great friend of mine on Friday night.  The Dark Knight Rises was fantastically done.   I barely even noticed that it was 2:45 long.  Masks were a theme throughout the movie though.  Clearly.

The next place they came up were during the wedding ceremony yesterday, where the bride’s brother talked about them in his message before vows were exchanged etc.  I don’t totally remember everything he said.  Had I realized I’d later be blogging it, I’d have taken notes.  But the gist was that we need to be real and not chase after ideals and fantasies.  My friends that got married this weekend needed to say “I do” to THIS man and THIS woman, not “the woman I hold on a pedestal in my head” or “the man that I think he can become.”  We need to strip off our masks and be real.  With ourselves.  With those closest to us.  Most of all, with God.  He KNOWS what’s going on.  He knows what we’re really like.  Why hide?

Batman hiding is a bit of a different illustration.  Christian Bale does a fantastic job playing Batman.  That dark edge is precisely what’s necessary to pull Batman off.  But Batman (and Bruce Wayne) fully recognize a need to “wear masks,” in this case much more literal than figurative, in order to protect those closest to him.

As we see Bruce Wayne pretending not to be Batman, I can’t help but wonder if he ever gets tired of putting the mask on and pretending to be someone else.  Having to live a different life.  I don’t know.  I mean, he is a fictional character after all and I refuse to dig too deep into the psyche of a fictitious Super Hero.

This topic always reminds me of “Stained Glass Masquerade” by Casting Crowns.  It makes me wonder why sometimes Church is the place we feel the least secure.  And it pounds at my heart that it shouldn’t be that way.  That’s all I’ve got to say on the matter because I have a lot of questions and very few answers, but here are the lyrics…

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they’ll soon discover
That I don’t belong

So I tuck it all away, like everything’s okay
If I make them all believe it, maybe I’ll believe it too
So with a painted grin, I play the part again
So everyone will see me the way that I see them

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone who’s been there
Are there any hands to raise
Am I the only one who’s traded
In the altar for a stage

The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/c/casting_crowns/stained_glass_masquerade.html ]
But would it set me free
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be

Would your arms be open
Or would you walk away
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles to hide our pain
But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

But if the invitation’s open
To every heart that has been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

Is there anyone that fails
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin’ so small

And here is a link to the music video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqO6iJ5Yz60
I’ll try to tie this into one more place today.  I know I’m kind of jumping around, but masks have been a theme in and out of my life since high school.  My youth pastor in grade 10 read us this poem that stuck with me.  I don’t remember the words, obviously, that was 12ish years ago, but the idea was that we walk around with all this pain buried inside us and we’ve got the resources and the remedies all around us to heal us and put us back together, but because we won’t say a word, no one knows, and no one could help even if they desperately wanted to.

A friend of mine a while back let me borrow a copy of a sermon on CD that really impacted her so that I could listen to it.  It’s called “Everybody is extraordinary at something.”  I listened to it on Thursday on my way down South for this mad weekend of speedy visits.  I have to say that the guy preaching is pretty extraordinary at preaching.  It really spoke to me.  I imagine that was the point though.  Why else would I have been given it?  But the application I’m going to tie to this blog post today is that so often we hide behind the things we know we CAN’T do.  I, for example, would be a terrible math teacher.  I always tell my kids “there’s a reason I teach French.”  And there is!  It’s because I’m really good at it!  If you made me teach math all day I’d perpetually feel like a fish out of water and I’d feel pretty useless.  That’s not how anyone likes to feel.  But you know what?  It makes me afraid to go for a classroom of my own, even though I think I’d like one some day.  There’s that buzz word though… afraid.  I shouldn’t be afraid.  Anyway – what I’m trying to get at here is that everyone is fantastic at something.  And we need to encourage those around us to do what it is we’re gifted in.  Like I said, if you made me teach math I’d fail.  Or at least not do it well.  I might be able to handle it if it was the only thing I was doing… but that brings me to where I’ll conclude my little rambly set of thoughts here.  We need to be careful that we’re not overextending ourselves.  The pastor who preached that sermon used this analogy:  Ceasar Milan is really really good at handling difficult dogs.  But if we were to witness to him, and get him into a church, we’d want him to lead worship and teach Sunday School and and and and…. But what if he’s no good at any of that?  If his gift is handling difficult dogs, why couldn’t we let him go into the neighbourhood and preach the Gospel while he teaches people how to handle their dogs?

Anyway… I had a thought recently.  I’m kind of thinking I might blog my way through reading the Bible.  It would force a couple things:  It would force me to a) read it.  And b) really pay attention to what I’m reading so that I could comment on it.  Perhaps I’ll start that when I’m done blogging through One Thousand Gifts.

I got new Bibles!  So it could be an adventure!  I already had the NIV Worship Bible, but The Message and The Way are new, and I’m pretty stoked.

Bibles!

Aaaaand the list.

55. Brave – finally a Disney movie where a man and marriage are not the solution to the Princess’s life problems.

56.  Brilliant, captivating, breathtaking sunsets through dark ominous clouds – a contrast that only God’s paintbrush can fathom.

57. Bright, full moons which light up the whole night; The way the moon reflects on the lake.

58.  A brother who is so understanding of his sister’s quirks that he shot photos of a spectacularly beautiful cloud-filled sunset while I drove us home from the movie so that I could revisit the beauty when I could focus on it.

59.  Delightfully giggly time with good friends … catching up after 4 weeks apart.

60.  The hospitality extended by Mike and Ange.

61.  Excellent business practices and great finds.  I highly recommend anyone anywhere near a Maurice’s clothing store go check it out.  And marvel in their amazing return policy.  Ask them.  I dare you.

62.  Some time to myself.

63.  Long hot showers with no time or water limit.

64.  The way a baby’s hand wraps tightly around your finger.

65.  How we are fearfully and wonderfully made, even in infancy.

66. Friendships so delightfully open and blessed.

67.  Friends with just the right sense of humour that blends so well with mine.

68.  Weddings.

69.  Beautifully crafted, God-centered wedding vows – promises to each other that will last a lifetime.

70.  Tight hugs from fiends who know there’s another month between us.

71.  Thunderstorms.  They’ve been few this summer, but magnificent when they show up.

72.  Inspiring messages – looking for ways to tear off our masks.

 

All photos taken by me.