Sunday, May 4, 2014

Best greeting ever

Ben and I shared a meal with Raph and Megan last weekend.
We chatted about our church's stewardship team and our hearts for it. 
The conversation got me thinking about one of the best greetings I've ever received...the first time I met Lydia Power...

Ben and I had just trekked across "the pond"... drove from Ottawa to Montreal then by plane from Montreal to London then by coach bus from London to Cardiff, Wales. To live for ten months. An adventure... not quite sure what to expect.

We arrived at Cardiff's downtown bus station. We had been awake for about 30 hours. I'm sure we weren't hard to spot with our run-down, extra large suitcases, our scruffy clothes and sleepy eyes.  
As we stood there, looking around, from across the station, we noticed someone running... galloping, really... towards us. And she was so happy to see us, even though we hadn't met her before. I think she must have jumped over a bench... pushed the crowd aside... she was just so excited to be there. And when she got to us she gave us great big hugs... super strong squeezed-tight embraces.
And that was Lydia. Full-attention, poured-out, life-giving Lydia. Before she said a word she showed us we were welcome in that city and in their church community. We were treasured. And that grand welcome set the tone for our whole year. We were part of the community, we, in turn, felt we could welcome others in the same way. We could be excited about what was next because we felt we belonged there and we were in the right place.

I think that's God's heart for our simple hello's, for our greetings and welcomes, whether on a Sunday morning or any other time... To set an atmosphere for people to meet God, to serve, to gather in, to confirm belonging and community...

I think lives can be changed in a simple hello and welcome and come on in.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Green valleys

Photo courtesy of Raman Sharma

One evening last week I put ear drops in before going to bed. I couldn't really hear anything because my one ear was muffled into my pillow and my other ear was pointing at the ceiling but full of liquid.

Then, because of my plugged up ear, I heard the sound of my heart beating. I guess my hearing turned inwards - I could hear it so clearly.

And suddenly I was overwhelmed by my own fragility. That's my heart, I thought, it's the organ keeping me alive.

And I got a terrible feeling in my stomach - a dread of dying. Like, it could happen in a moment. My heart could just stop. Then Ben crawled into bed and I told him I was in this strange panic. I was suddenly afraid to die. Did that mean my faith wasn't strong? He just cuddled me and giggled and I was so half asleep and he told me everyone feels that way sometimes. So I fell asleep.

I woke up the next morning singing.

I read more of The Sentimentalists on the bus and wondered if the book was why my thinking was so philosophical and fragile. I was reading the part about the Vietnam War and how the main character, Napoleon, wished he would be shot in the leg and he was. He was shot in the leg. So he thought he had some strange ability to think things into being. Then, unfortunately, because of the terrible circumstances he was in, he wished he could be dead. But it didn't work - he kept on living. And as I read about Napoleon, I thought, life's just as strong and persistent and miraculous as it is fragile and vulnerable.

I wonder if this is why I haven't blogged lately: when I look inward my thoughts feel a bit too philosophical and serious. Like, I've been thinking about sickness and death and infertility and thoughts that aren't rosy and there aren't super easy, shallow answers. But that's when I should be blogging, right?

A while ago, on a Sunday morning, Lesley said not to be afraid of the valleys. Because valleys are full of water and greenery and life. And so much growth comes out of the valleys (this is totally a paraphrase).

The funny thing is that while I've been thinking about sickness and death and infertility, my life - the real one going on outside my thoughts - is full of health and life and fertility. It's a perspective thing.

So I choose to be brave in this life. To see the persistent and miraculous here, today.... whether in the valleys or the mountains or all those other crazy places in between.

Yay life.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Now that he's four...

A few weeks ago Isaac and I were lying in his bed together, looking at the ceiling. I had an idea. I said to him, “Isaac, now that you’re going to be four, we can take down your bird mobile.” It didn’t fit in with my vision of his “big boy room” but I didn’t tell him that. We took it down together.

Then a few nights later Ben put Isaac to bed. Isaac had been guzzling his milk and Ben said to him, “Isaac, you don’t need to drink all your milk. You’ve woken up a few times in the night this week having to pee so don’t drink too much.” Isaac thought for a minute then said, “Daddy, the reason I’ve been waking up in the night is because my bird mobile is gone.”

When Ben relayed all this to me later my heart broke and I marched upstairs and hung that bird mobile back up while Isaac slept. I will not be held responsible for breaking my boy’s heart over a silly little bird mobile. He can have it up there until he’s twelve for all I care.

I found myself using a similar line with him shortly after the bird mobile incident: “Isaac, now that you’re almost four…” But for another reason: “… now that you’re four you’ll need to get changed and put on your outdoor clothes all by yourself.” And I won’t be moved on that one. He can’t have me helping him change his clothes until he’s twelve.

Some things he can stay young in and other things we must train him up in.
It's like that with our walk with God.  
We stay young and innocent in our faith, in our hope, in our stature, in our thirst for spiritual food. That’s an intentional decision, I think.
"[Jesus] said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:1-4).

And yet, we have to grow up in pretty much all  other areas:
"...until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness and deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ" (Ephesians 4:13-15). 

So that baby bird mobile stays dangling from the ceiling above where Isaac’s crib used to sit. And apparently it comforts him in the night when he’s scared. And next to it I’ve hung a map of the world. Below it sits his lego strewn on the floor and his size 5 pajamas. And he’ll soon be going to school.
He’s growing up….
...while still holding onto some of his baby innocence.
I’m fine with that.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy 4th birthday, Isaac Jay

Dear Isaac Jay,
You turn four today.
A few days ago you drew this picture. You were crafting away on your own in the dining room and you called me in to show me this picture of your dad. I was blown away. Your first people-picture and it was so perfect.
I can't believe how quickly you're growing. Everything seems to be coming together. You love counting things, you're starting to sound out words ("goo", "boo" and "poo" are your favourites). You think whoopee cushions are the funniest thing ever invented. You love to be scared. You want all things scary... scary books, shows, stuffies. Oh, and scaring others... hilarious.   
You run and jump and run and jump and run and jump...
You're sweet and think of others. You're rough and tackle people to the ground.
You have an obsession with ears. You twist your own when you're tired. You put your hands on my ears when I put you to bed... on your daddy's ears when he's close to you... on your cousin, Rhys', when you're waiting in line at Cosmic Adventures and he happens to be beside you. I'm not sure what that's all about.  
I registered you for kindergarten next year. We were walking down the halls of the school and you said, "I can't believe I'm in my school." You were awestruck.  
You break my heart daily. Please stop growing... (but please keep growing).
Happy Birthday Boy-o.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Recent reads

A couple blog posts from the week ... sticking with me so I just had to share.
Check them out:

Ann Voskamp's: How to live when you only have so much time left
"You already know: You will die.
So the only question that remains is: Will you live?"

Jeff Goins': The dirty, messy part of a writer's life
"But I also believe there comes a time when you can't just write about life. You have to live it. Even when it scares you half to death."

And Kristen Levithan on: One woman's yes
"My shoulders still hang out up around my ears from time to time. And it’s not like I never yell. I don’t suppose I will ever be mistaken for a Zen master. But..."

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Life travel companions

I renewed my passport last week. Sitting there in Passport Canada's waiting room, in these plastic chairs you sink into, focusing on passports... got me thinking about travelling. And who should invade my travel thoughts but my favourite travel partner, Ben.

Church Trip in Cuba.
The other day he and I were talking about a next trip and we said, "I love travelling with you,"... "I love travelling with you." It was our most special "I love you" of the day.

Together, we are comfortable, calm travellers. Travelling on my own, I feel more nervous... heart beating a bit fast through security, palms real sweaty at takeoff. I like to think Ben's like that too when he travels without me. Maybe not as extreme, but not quite as relaxed, wishing I was there.

When we travel together, it's seamless. Throw up any barrier... delays, cancellations, too-short stopovers in long airports, foreign languages, mysterious toilets.... no problem. We calm each other, problem solve together, ask "You have your passport? Where's your boarding pass?" We're quick to apologize for our grumps or our tired behaviour. We often sit quiet together, waiting. Just quiet waiting.

Airports and airplanes are kind of life parallels, eh. Going from one place to the next, one day to another, heading in a direction, carrying stuff around, overcoming obstacles, rubbing shoulders with others.

I'm thankful to have Benny with me in life. And even though I haven't travelled with many of my friends and family members, I know who's on this little life adventure with me... who I enjoy having along for the ride. Who, I hope, enjoy having me along for the ride too...

To bring peace, problem solve, sometimes have conflict then forgiveness...

A little quiet waiting side by side.