Sunday, December 25, 2011

Slaves to Righteousness

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness... Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:15-22


Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

O to grace, how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Polished Shoes

I am given the power
To live in the white tower
Shall I be a king
Stamp with a signet ring

Or can I make the choice
That others cannot
To live at the bottom
Instead of looking down from the top

Can we march around the walls
Trumpets high, marching tall
And break down the bricks
Of this place of conflicts

Throw away our polished shoes
Pick up our sandals
Let's paint our skin
Holding hands, enter in.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Metal wings

we’re born from the ashes
broken bottles and
blood-stained rags
cold hands hold and mold
our crying bodies
in blankets and cloth

the ice is melting
tears in ripples
frozen rage against
the bars and cage

blaming those hands
born to broken people
burned in mortar and char
in the foundries of past.

there is weight in flight
with metal wings.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oh Pracrastination!

Swerving roadways of black
And paths for wand'ring eyes
Graphite and blue-stained hands

A friend!
Laughing
Chatting

- Sighing

The eyes drift to the sea
Of ups and downs on white
To soon create my own -

In time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Breaking the power hierarchies

I've decided that Jesus was a hipster. But the very best of hipsters. not the snobbish, "I'm so much better than you because I'm environmentally-friendly for not showering for 3 weeks", kind of hipster. But the counter-cultural, I'm going to break the social conventions, kind of hipster. And what better kind of hipster is there?

Story time: A very lovely young man told me like I was like a lovely princess the other day. funny enough, I was utterly offended. I didn't say so, cause I knew his intentions behind saying such a thing (and he's a little eccentric in the first place), but I nonetheless was thinking "ew."

I think that power is one of the worst social constructions within the world. We have these made up hierarchies based on whimiscal characteristics of a person. Someone wealthier than someone else now is 'above me.' Someone 'smarter' is 'above me.' (note: knowledge itself is subjective and constantly changing). Someone with more life experience is 'above me.' Something with higher morals is above me. And, if you don't mind my feminist and anti-racial rants, someone who is a 'man' and 'white' is above me. Ew.

Imagine a world where everyone stood on equal footing. Where we saw a person not for how they looked, what their gender was, how educated they were, how they dressed, how they talked, how much income they had, but instead, discarded it all and treated them like... I don't know... a human. Like myself, or yourself, or ourselves.

Jesus was a total power-crusher. Look at John 4 and the story of Jesus with the Samaritan woman. Here's a woman from an 'enemy' culture, a gender that is far below males (obviously) to the point that women were not allowed to speak to men, nor vice-versa, and from a religion that was considered evil. Add to it that she's had five husbands and is living with her sixth lover out of wedlock. This woman comes to get some water, in the high sun so that there's probably no one else around, and then sees this Jewish man. She's probably a bit taken aback to see a Jew in her community first, but goes about her business anyway, expecting no trouble since she'd normally be ignored.

But Jesus, being his amazing divine self, is like, "Yo - I'd love some water." First, he just talked to a woman (shocker!) and second, by drinking the water, he's going to be considered unclean to enter the Jewish temples. ScAN-du-lous! All this saying that by the end of the story, she's been told that he knows about her past, her lifestyle, he knows her standing in society, but that he's the Messiah and wants to accept her into his revolutionary kingdom.

So awesome. That's my God. just breaking down the power structures. Loving us no matter what. Can I get an amen?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.

I've been struggling with my faith lately. I keep looking around at the Christian church and then wonder how we're different than anybody else. In fact, there are a lot of really terrible things done in the name of Christ. Which I guess can be taken in two different ways: one is to look at the mistakes as proof that Christianity is a dead faith. The other is to look into the scriptures, see how very far those actions are from what the Bible says, and then be extra uber careful not to make the same mistakes in my own life.

The other part of my struggle is simply knowing that it's not only others that mess up in their faith, but myself. I'm certainly not perfect, and make mistakes all the time. It often makes me feel like perhaps God just doesn't want me anymore, that maybe I'm just too far gone. I think it's easy for me to look at myself, say that I'm so far from perfect, that I just don't belong.

Anyways, all these thoughts have passed through my mind before. But I was reminded the other day about something. God came to the world not to judge it, but to save it. "He so loved the world that he sent his only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." The entire gospel is right there: that God knew who we were before he ever called us to Him. He knows that we're sinners, he knows that we're screw ups, he knows that we're going to make a heck of a lot of mistakes. He knew that before he died for us. He loved us that much. The gospel isn't about morality, about what I can do to get to heaven, but about what God did to allow me to get there. And that grace is what makes me love Jesus so much - that he actually DOES know everything about me, but wants me anyways. And so out of that love and debt that I owe him, I want to make him happy in any way possible. Unfortunately, I'm still a sinner and end up falling on my face in failure more often than not, but Jesus knows me well enough to also know that I'm going to mess up. But he died for me despite this knowledge - so may I never boast in anything but the cross of Jesus.

So there you go: It's about grace. I'm not saved by anything that I do or say, but rather by the grace that has filled me with the freedom to love and embrace everyone around me. Because no one is perfect. And that's the point.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Because sometimes, we just have to admit that we ARE that proud

So. I think that everyone should see this book issued in 1947 by the Canadian Government to the Inuit communities.
It's called the Book of Wisdom for Eskimo - if you look at the table of contents, you can see that we somehow thought that Inuit didn't know how to breathe. Or feed their children. Or warm themselves up when they got cold.
We're so smart.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/51563774/The-Book-of-Wisdom-for-Eskimo

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No shame in being single

It's easy to be sad at being single.

It's one of those annoying little bugger facts. Of course, it's great somedays. Certainly, when I see my friends going through what appears as useless drama, I heave a sigh of relief that it's not me. Ha. Then again, I look at my friends holding hands with their loved one and am slightly jealous of their love.

But I don't think singleness should ever be something we're sad about. Nor do I think it is a) appropriate to consume oneself in searching out a partner, or b) necessary or productive to try to find fulfillment in someone else. Ultimately, you'll always be stuck with the same problems you had without that extra person's problems now in your life. Deal with those before you go searching out the problems of someone else.

Singleness can be grand - you have an independence to your life. No strings attached, you can travel and make choices and be free to do as you please without consulting your partner. And indeed, many of the greats of our generation have been single, and for a good reason. It's hard to devote your life to both another person and to a cause you're going to put your everything into. And so we must be cautious in pursuing relationships, so as not to forget that time is the key to success. Both with relationships, and in our work, whether it be school, volunteer, or employment.

And yet, all this to be said, I do believe that there are times when we moreorless 'fall in love.' When it's quite clear what your feelings are towards someone, when those don't change, and when it's all but apparent that you would be happier with that person than without them. And at that point, I say pursue them. Perhaps, in this case, you can have a truly fruitful partnership of marriage, and it is clear that two is better than one. Definitely, living life with a friend is better than by yourself. Even if singleness is often easier.

And thus ends my rant. Not that I've said anything new. Just garbling down thoughts. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stranger in your own country

It's crazy how terribly we treat the people who are indigenous to our own lands of Canada, to the US, to Australia. The Aboriginal peoples have a nobility and respect for nature, for animals, for the connections human hold to the basic elements of nature that keep us alive. It's something that I think we can all learn from, and something we NEED to learn from. How can we eat ourselves away to obesity on packaged foods at the grocery store and still call ourselves environmentalists? How can we use the products of our everyday lives and never recognize the gift that nature has given us by supplying us with them? Perhaps this disconnection of what we've taken away is what has caused humanity to become so calloused to the fact that we are everyday causing our planet to further expand its destruction. I think we have a lot of apologizing to do. And a lot to learn from those we've called 'dogs' and sub-humans. I think that perhaps, by doing so, we've made ourselves out to be the very things we've called those we've oppressed. Check out this documentary "Exile" by Zacharias Kunuk on isuma video. It's definitely worth watching - not something we get taught in our history classrooms, yet it does not mean we are left unaccountable to the atrocities committed against these Inuit families.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wooden Heart

We’re all born to broken people on their most honest day of living
and since that first breath... We’ll need grace that we’ve never given
I've been haunted by standard red devils and white ghosts
and it's not only when these eyes are closed
these lies are ropes that I tie down in my stomach,
but they hold this ship together tossed like leaves in this weather
and my dreams are sails that I point towards my true north,
stretched thin over my rib bones, and pray that it gets better
but it won’t won’t, at least I don’t believe it will...
so I've built a wooden heart inside this iron ship,
to sail these blood red seas and find your coasts.
don’t let these waves wash away your hopes
this war-ship is sinking, and I still believe in anchors
pulling fist fulls of rotten wood from my heart, I still believe in saviours
but I know that we are all made out of shipwrecks, every single board
washed and bound like crooked teeth on these rocky shores
so come on and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

I am the barely living son of a woman and man who barely made it
but we’re making it taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts
we all have the same holes in our hearts...
everything falls apart at the exact same time
that it all comes together perfectly for the next step
but my fear is this prison... that I keep locked below the main deck
I keep a key under my pillow, it’s quiet and it’s hidden
and my hopes are weapons that I’m still learning how to use right
but they’re heavy and I’m awkward...always running out of fight
so I’ve carved a wooden heart, put it in this sinking ship
hoping it would help me float for just a few more weeks
because I am made out of shipwrecks, every twisted beam
lost and found like you and me scattered out on the sea
so come on let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, just some tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

My throat it still tastes like house fire and salt water
I wear this tide like loose skin, rock me to sea
if we hold on tight we’ll hold each other together
and not just be some fools rushing to die in our sleep
all these machines will rust I promise, but we'll still be electric
shocking each other back to life
Your hand in mine, my fingers in your veins connected
our bones grown together inside
our hands entwined, your fingers in my veins braided
our spines grown stronger in time
because are church is made out of shipwrecks
from every hull these rocks have claimed
but we pick ourselves up, and try and grow better through the change
so come on y'all and let’s wash each other with tears of joy and tears of grief
and fold our lives like crashing waves and run up on this beach
come on and sew us together, were just tattered rags stained forever
we only have what we remember

from Wooden Heart Poems, released 06 July 2010

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Knowledge

I just had this moment where my entire mind exploded with the fact that I know absolutely nothing.

Yep, so I'm reading this intensely interesting article on colonizing knowledge, on how the West sees everything they do as right and everything other cultures do as wrong. Even now, the West has so colonized places like South America, Africa, and parts of Asia that only people who think like 'Westerners' have valid ideas. For example, we all need a University education to be smart. And the BEST university education is in the West, at the 'Ivy League schools' of England and the US. And so... the most respected people in the world today generally have a western education.

But, in all seriousness, why is that? Isn't knowledge which is rooted in their own culture equally valid, equally important? And what makes 'empirical data' any more valid than 'qualitative data'? In many ways, the emotional, the parts of humanity that are immeasurable, are indeed more important than the number of toes I have. Yes, quantitative data has its place - we can look at how many people made x decision and then analyze that. But then again, have you ever asked them why they made x decision? I'm 100% sure that varies from person to person, and it's a great deal more revealing to search out the heart of the decision than the decision itself.

Anywho, all this to say that perhaps everything I've studied is just knowledge because some weirdo says it is. In all seriousness, whose to say that Western thought is the correct way of thinking? Perhaps my lens is fogged and seeing everything wrong. Whose to say I know anything at all - all but a to-be-achieved degree and a transcript that says I got x grade in y class. hrm.

Then again, maybe the only truth we can ever be sure of is that of which we are unsure.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Love that surpasses knowledge

To come to a full knowledge of the love of God is near impossible - I'm going to say, it is impossible.

And yet, I believe, there is a moment in everyone's life when this love finally hits them square in the eye. Like someone has stuck their hand in your chest and have started to squeeze your heart and make it beat again. It may not even be a full and complete version of God's love, but if even a spark of it hits you, it sets you on fire.

For me, it was this summer. I came back from University and literally felt dead in sin. I had entered the 'grey' area, only to find that in my search through the fog, I'd come out on another path. And while I didn't go all the way down, I sat on a log a ways down, waiting and seeing what might happen there.

It's funny though, how once you hit this place, how once you lose yourself and those values you once held dear, then you realize that the foggy place is caused by you. And when I finally realized that, it was like someone took a big wooden board and whacked me on the head with it. I fell down, had a massive headache, and then said, "Lord, I can't do it. I don't want to be on this log anymore. But I can't find my way back through the fog."

And, funny enough, Jesus found me. He didn't just call out to me, he came and grabbed my hand and took me back through.

Here's where the real kicker is: He loved me. He never lost his faith in me, he knew me and my heart, who I wanted to be and what my needs really were, whether or not I was willing to admit those to everyone around me. And then... he filled those voids in. He filled me up with himself. He whispered to me, "I love you. I want you."

And so there I was. Through the fog, on the clear path once again, holding the hand of someone who knew me and loved me so much that he came and met me exactly where I was at, pursued me, wooed me back to him, and married me. Ha, yes, I'm married to God. He calls me beloved, and here I am, the prostitute that loved the world and came wandering back to the only one that gave me anything of value. And now, I have experienced that spark. And I'm so on fire.

God brings us down to lowly places so that we can rise back up with wings. Never look for satisfaction in those worldly things that give happiness for but a moment - I've found it's better to suffer and be isolated and have this love that surpasses knowledge than to do anything that gets me popularity, success, or fame in this life.

Ephesians 3: 14-21

Friday, August 26, 2011

Baptism by Waterfall

Most often, the purest faith is that which is lived outside of the normalcy of the church. I got to experience that last night.

One of my best friends became a Christian a year ago, in a rather unconventional way, but one which was no less real than any other. While still a new Christian in many ways, his faith is real, and his life proves it. After telling me two days ago that he wanted to get baptized before going back to University, I searched out a pastor and/or leader who could baptize him before he headed back, and then proceeded to hand him their phone number yesterday. What came next makes for a beautiful story.

After some hesitancy, he called me back two hours later, requesting that my brother and I baptize him in a waterfall where all three of us had together a beautiful God-moment. In fact, most of our times spent together were in nature, and mostly, at waterfalls. So it was very fitting.

Anyways, that night, after homechurch, we gathered together his closest friends who had been there who his journey with God and went down to a waterfall at midnight, where the service began. Beginning with intros from my brother and I, then a full-length testimony from my friend, and then a group prayer, we asked him whether he believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the only true God, and that he died for his sins, to which he loudly exclaimed, "Yes. Yes! YES! I BELIEVE!" His excitement was overwhelming and so genuine. haha.

So continuing, we simply said, "Then in the presence of God and the people here today, we baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." And into the waterfall he went, coming out sopping wet. And my brother and I followed behind. After which proceeded a round of very wet hugs, a rendition of Under the Sea, and laughs of joy and excitement.

So he was baptized by his friends, in a waterfall, at about 1 in the morning.

And it was one of the purest, most sincere, and joyful God-moments I've ever been blessed to be a part of. My friend summed it up nicely - "Don't you think that the angels are dancing and having a party in heaven right now?"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In the pursuit of success

Occasionally, I wonder what it really means to be successful. And how exactly I am to pursue this. Or, rather, whether it is really even something worth pursuing.

As I'm finishing off my undergrad, I keep asking myself - where do I want to be in the future? Or, even moreso, who do I want to be? If you have the intellectual ability to attend Cambridge or Harvard or Yale, do you go after it? This is where most people nod their heads and say, of course!

But here's me asking, why? For what purpose? To be recognized as someone who attended this prestigious university? For the recognition of my degree? To become wildly famous and 'successful'?

Okay, so let's say I go to 'x' University, get my degree, and become the UN Secretary-General. Or perhaps, a higher position, the US President. (ha). What have I achieved? Still nothing. Not unless I actually do something for people. Not unless people's lives are better for it.

I guess this all seems like mambo jumbo. But I suppose I wonder to myself whether being in a position of power is really something worthwhile at all, if, in that position, you've lost touch with the entire reason you wanted that position.

I studied International Relations because I want to help the oppressed, I want to love them where they're at, I want to change the system that's making them live the way they are. I want to give them hope for something better, and be involved in their lives. But, if in my 'pursuit of success', I somehow forget to meet the people I'm working for, to know who they are and love them for it, to be inspired by them, then I've forgotten the entire reason I'm doing what I'm doing, and it's only foolishness on my part.

At the end of my life, when I face God and he asks me what I've done, I don't want to say that I attended meeting with powerful diplomats and make a suggestion or two on why we should or shouldn't define a conflict as a genocide. Good grief. I want to say that I was there with the people who were suffering, that I loved them when they needed it, that I showed them who Christ was - his incredible love and compassion - in that situation. If I lose sight of that, shame on me. Wordly success is very often more shameful than we realize - sometimes, the most lowly position is where we find the greatest hope.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Love

I was asked to write a speech on love for the wedding of a very dear friend of mine - here's my attempt at explaining this rather inexplicable word.
---

Love is something that always seems hard to define. It starts with giggles, with laughter, and "do you think he likes me?" It starts with feelings of respect, of admiration, of care. And then it grows.

Love is friendship. It is, as Aristotle famously put it, one soul in two bodies. You are an unbeatable team. You build each other up, you spur each other on, you give advice, you listen. You're the hand that helps the other up when they're down, and the smile that lights up when the other achieves a goal.

Love is, perhaps, a pursuit that never ends. To let someone know that they are so important to you that you're going to make them breakfast in bed, you're going to buy them flowers spontaneously, and you're going to take a sick day off work because to you, they are the most beautiful movie star, rock star, or model. They are the most precious person in the world.

Love is also, very often, a decision. It is choosing to love someone when they hurt you, when you're yelling at each other, or when you just don't feel the same romance that was there when you first started dating. It is the decision to stick with them through the hurt and the pain because you want them, you want this, everyday and forever. But it is, also, more than that.

I think most importantly, love is selflessness. It is putting someone else, their hopes, their needs, their desires, above your own. You want to support them when they're sad, you want to help them achieve their goals, and you want to make them smile and laugh for no other reason than that it makes them happy. And I think this quality of love is the most beautiful. I think it is, perhaps, the closest a person can get to experiencing the unconditional, sacrificial love of God.

To close, I'd like to share a poem from Shakespeare which has, for me, been the love poem that I come back to time and again.

Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediment.
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover
To remove
Oh no! It is an ever-fixed mark
Which looks on tempests and is not shaken.
It is the star to every wandering bark
Whose worth's unknown
Though his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool
Though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come
Love alters not within his brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Epilogue, By Robert Lowell

Those bless├Ęd structures, plot and rhyme—
why are they no help to me now
I want to make
something imagined, not recalled?
I hear the noise of my own voice:
The painter’s vision is not a lens,
it trembles to caress the light.
But sometimes everything I write
with the threadbare art of my eye
seems a snapshot,
lurid, rapid, garish, grouped,
heightened from life,
yet paralyzed by fact.
All’s misalliance.
Yet why not say what happened?
Pray for the grace of accuracy
Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination
stealing like the tide across a map
to his girl solid with yearning.

We are poor passing facts,
warned by that to give
each figure in the photograph
his living name.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Dreams that Greet You

Last night, I had this dream that seemed to symbolize something for me. I don't really know why God wants me to know this, but perhaps, it has some meaning for me that I'll need in the next little while, or perhaps, that someone reading this needs.

The cottage that my grandpa (recently deceased) and his wife, Fern, lived in for most my life, was recently sold to new cottagers, who then proceeded to tear down the entire home and start rebuilding again. It was a bit of a sore spot, as my grandpa had put so much sweat and work into that house, making it the perfect place for him and Fern.

Anyways, last night, I dreamed that my family was walking along the property of the old cottage that was still in place. There was a little girl with us that was somehow related to my family. I was also the only one who could see the ghost of my grandfather walking with us, and he looked sad. It wasn't scary for me, he didn't even really look at me. He was just walking with us, as if he just wanted to be with the family while we were there.

Anyways, everyone was commenting on how much they were going to miss this cottage, and how much work grandpa had put into it. The little girl ran off towards the dock and the lake, and I chased her and whisked her up into my arms and she laughed. And then I asked her if she thought she would miss the cottage, to which she replied, "Um, no. I don't really know it very well, so I don't think I'll miss it." Which I thought was fair - she was only a few years old.

And then we walked back up towards the house. And there in the house we commented on how beautiful everything was. My brother and I walked over to a new spot of the house, and there was a second floor (which never actually existed in real life). I was curious and said I never remembered that part of the house, and my brother didn't either, so he walked up the steps. I noticed he looked really startled and ran back down the steps. And then, behind him, came a much younger version of my grandfather, walking down the steps in his housecoat. And he sat down at a dinnertable with my family. I sat in the corner with the ghost of my grandfather, who still looked sad, while the rest of my family stared in shock at this man who was my younger grandfather in the flesh. And then my mother started crying.

And I woke up.

There's a number of things that I think I can get from this dream. There's the fact that we were all so focused on the house, this material object, that seemed to actually BE my grandfather. But it wasn't - my grandfather was actually walking with us. And while we certainly have very real memories there, they are the past - as seen in my 'younger grandfather.' The little girl also showed that part of things - she didn't have memories there, and she didn't associate the cottage with anything. It was just the cottage.

What matters is the people in your life. The little girl, who I loved so much in the dream, meant the world to me. My grandfather, who we always commented on how much work he put into his house, but not into his family. And I think that's why he was so sad - and why he wanted to walk beside us while we were there. He loved us so much, but he was sad that all we talked about was how much work he put into a thing, a house. A house without people is only a building, not a home.

And so, I think very much, that it is important for us to make that distinction - we need to treasure the people in our lives, the relationships around us, more than we value the objects and the things that we have. Because, in all honesty, it is not the objects that stay in our memories, but the people that made those objects have some kind of value.

Sweet dreams everyone.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Father's Love

It amazes me how, in the times when I feel the most distant, often purposely, from Jesus, how he chases after me as soon as I call out for help. Not only that, but he dusts me off, gives me a slap in the face, and says, "Get your act together girl. You ain't going anywhere if you keep treading down the same line you are. mmmmmmmhm." Or something like that. By the way, I could totally see God saying that.

God has, amazingly, in the span of... not even two months, brought to the surface, and then subsequently solved, about three major issues in my life. So much so, that I've decided to rededicate my life to him, because I realized how out of line my life was with everything Jesus had planned for me. I was, without even really thinking about it, chasing after what the world had planned for me, whilst God was calling me to the narrow gate, to live counter-culturally. To be a citizen of Christ's kingdom on Earth. Which I totally wasn't doing. So, first, I ended a non-Christ-centered relationship. Second, I have given up all alcohol, except for wine with dinner (and that's a rarity), and third, he spoke through someone I had just met to solve a complicated friend problem. It was, literally, exactly what I needed to hear, coming through the mouth of someone I had known for all of a few hours, and she had no idea that she was telling me what God wanted me to know. It was mind-blowing. And THEN, I had this amazing conversation with a friend, after she'd just prayed that God would allow us to talk about whatever he needed us to talk about, and we talked about something I had literally blocked out of my mind because of how much it had hurt me. I'd forgotten about it - and then suddenly, here I was. Talking to my friend about this part of my past that I never wanted to deal with. And soon I was in tears, crying about something I had no intention of telling anyone at all. ever. Blahhhhh. So this is now step number 4 - to deal with this particular part of my past in whatever way I can right now.

So all this to say, God's really doing a number on me. It's refreshing, but talk about a roller coaster. It's like, I'm on the ride right now and screaming my head off, feeling sick, but at the end, I'm going to be like, "... let's do it again!"

All I can think of is that song, "How Deep the Father's Love For Us." It seems to embody exactly how God is guiding me right now, as a dad would his daughter. And I'm just taking it in strides. I'm ready to see what's in store!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Letting go...

It's hard to let go of something, or someone, that you love. Like the teddy bear that you've snuggled with so many times that all the stitches that make up his smile have fallen apart and are mere threads sticking up from teddy's face in all different directions. You've put a lot of love into that little bear.

but I guess, we all have to move on, at some point or another. Whether it be getting married and eventually sticking teddy in the closet, or on a nearby dresser. Or letting a child move out to University and make her or his own decisions. Or whether it be distancing yourself a bit from a close friendship so that he or she can move on to a new, more intimate, relationship. All are difficult. And you never really feel ready to let go.

I guess what needs to happen is for you to realize that, occasionally, loving someone is letting them go. And while it may be difficult, and I'll admit that I have cried trying to do it, it's often also freeing, in a sense. Freeing you to give the unknown into God's hands, and say, "Hey, I have this void now and I'm feeling kind of lost. Please fill it for me." And then letting him do his great handiwork.

And surprise! Something much better comes along. And takes your breath away. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Conflict

Found this beautiful quotation in my research. Love it.

"To be who we are - creators in the image of the Creator - we must be actively engaged in the setting free of every other person to be who she or he is intended: someone different from who we are, someone who will see the world from another perspective, someone who will not agree with us. Anything short of such liberation is suppressive and destructive and ultimately death producing...

Conflict is not just inevitable, as we are prone to say wisely and with a sigh of resignation. Instead it is part of the divine plan, a gift. Disruption is integral to God's order. Conflict sometimes provides us with energy, insight, and new possibility as reluctant by-products; newness cannot come without conflict. It is not a price to be paid and endured, but a condition to be sought and welcomed and nurtured...

To manage conflict then would be to allow it, not to suppress it; to open our doors and windows to its fresh wind. Following this line of thought to its ultimate conclusion, violence and war become not conflict run amuck, conflict out of all bounds, but the final outcome of conflict quelled. They result when we will not allow the other to be different, when we deny our life-giving dependence on the different one with all our might and means." - Caroline Westerhoff

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sigh No More, Mumford and Sons

I thought this was really beautiful and wanted to share:

"Serve God, love me and mend
This is not the end
Lived unbruised, we are friends
And I'm sorry
I'm sorry

Sigh no more, no more
One foot in sea and one on shore
My heart was never pure
And you know me
You know me

But man is a giddy thing

Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be "

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

To my instinctive, and yet, completely irrational self

So today the garbage truck came early. And that's when things got messy. It goes without saying I was still in my pjs and my hair was as frizzy as could be. Nonetheless, I decided that the garbage and compost needed to go out, and figuring that I wouldn't know anyone on the street walking by, or wouldn't really care, except for this one guy that I have a secret crush on, I figured my odds were good. I hopped out the door with my radiant blue pants on, brown boots with holes in them, and a mighty winter jacket to hide the fact that I was not wearing a bra, and made my way towards the sidewalk.

I looked both ways down the street just to make sure that there was no one there. first side, clear. phew. By this point, i'm almost at the end of the driveway. Unfortunately, when I looked the other way, that one guy that I have a little crush on is walking towards me.

Horrified, I dropped the garbage and compost where I was standing and literally ran back down the driveway and dashed into the house in record time. I then continue my hilarity by looking out the window to see if he noticed. Looks like I'm safe. Of course, those brillant blue pants with the word "CANDY" written across my bum are hard to miss.

Oh sigh. I think it would have been better to run away facing forwards.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Feeling Kind of Lonely

Funny how there can be people all around me, how these people can be the kindest and sweetest people ever - how they can have the biggest smiles and greatest laughs, and yet I can still feel alone.

I think I need a hug and someone who will let me use their shoulder as a towel for my tears. I don't feel like I've had quite the sense of closure I needed after my grandfather's death. It's very easy for me to hide any of my sadness or sorrow behind a mask of cheerfulness, something that I'm pretty darn good at doing. I'm good at hiding sad things with laughter and a smile. But inside, I'm still not healed - or I'm not sure if I really want to deal with it yet.

I sure could use a hug right about now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On finding yourself

I don't think it's easy to find oneself.

You won't wake up one morning and say, "Wow, I think I know who I am today." Well, you might - nothing's impossible, but I highly doubt it.

Finding yourself is really a realization of your worth as an individual. Of the things that make you who you are, that make your quirkiness, your personality, your looks something to be proud of. Actually, more than that. Finding yourself is the realization that you are complete by yourself. That with or without one individual, you are valuable the way you are.

And I think that it's a process. It's something that, perhaps is lost and found along the road of life's challenge. Some days, we're high on life. Others, we feel more alone than ever before. And yet, all of this is part of the process of realization of what makes us tick and what makes us tock.

And to add even more to this, I think part of finding yourself is finding God, in whom all value is rooted. From his hands, all things were created and without Him, nothing would have been made that is made. And if we realize that God's created us for a purpose in this life, then perhaps we can find that value as an individual.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wishing Time Would Stop for A Moment

It's crazy how people spend but a moment on Earth. They come, they go, and then life goes on. Time doesn't slow down to let you say goodbye. It doesn't stop to let you mourn. It passes, and all you can hope is that in that moment that expands from birth to death, you were able to love and be loved. That perhaps you held a place in someone's heart.

It's so hard to say goodbye. You never expect that perhaps the last time you see someone could be your last. Yet it's even harder to know that your words and actions are the last someone will hear and see - to say goodbye, a real goodbye, is perhaps the most difficult task in the world.

I wish time would stop for just a moment.

Friday, March 25, 2011

On the Pain of Loss

Right now, I am sitting on a couch, curled up, listening to Bon Iver, and thinking about my grandpa. I've been crying on and off the past few days trying to deal with the fact that at any moment, my parents will call and let me know that the terminal cancer that has spread throughout his body has taken him. Death is the most difficult of things to deal with - it's an ending, and an ending to something beautiful. The short amount of time you get to spend with someone on Earth is over, and you are left with this feeling of emptiness and sadness.

More than that, I think about my family, about my step-grandma, and my extended family and wonder how they're feeling, wishing I could be with them instead of at the other end of the country, away from their hugs and unable to share with their tears. There's something about sharing in a person's sadness and working through difficulties together that gives one some hope that the empty space will be filled - although perhaps not completely.

I guess that's the difficult part about loving people. The more love you pour into them, the more painful it is when they're no longer here.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Rationality

I've heard it said many a time that the best choice is a rational one. A person does simple cost - benefit analysis to make the best decision, no emotions included. Just simple decision-making.

Let me use a few examples. Prison is a great one to start with. A person commits a crime. What should we do? Put him in prison. Rational choice. Keep him away from society, benefit to society, cost to him.

Second example. Do we dam a river, or do we leave it alone? There's benefit to society by acquiring clean energy, and the cost is small to nature. Creatures can adapt.

Now. Let's just pretend that emotions are equally valid in decision-making. Let's go through those examples one more time.

Crime. The person who committed the crime is actually a person. They have a history, they have a family. They probably need to understand what they did was wrong, and WHY it was wrong. Yet, instead of working these things out, we throw them away into some prison cell with like-minded criminals in the hopes that our person gets better. Great idea Einstein. I'd like to see it actually work.

The Aboriginal community used to take criminals and victims and sit them down together amongst a community and with the victim and resolve their disputes. They wouldn't let either party leave until the dispute had been resolved, the criminal repented of her or his actions and showed genuine sadness for what he or she had done. It focused on the relational level of the crime, rather than on justice. Rather than dishing out punishments for what had been done, it emphasized restoring the hurt and the damage that the crime caused, and ultimately finding repentance from the criminal and resolving her or his inner problems that led them to the action.

Second situation. We have a river that is free, that represents the untouched beauty of nature. Something that is free of the social constructs of man, and rather, is pure... wildness. Like the world as it is supposed to be. We've ignored these emotions in our interactions with nature. In our strive to pursue the rational decision, we've left out the emotional attachment that people feel to the woods, to the river, to nature inn its pure untouched state. This is IMPORTANT!

Don't forget that emotions mean something. God gave them to us for a reason. Sometimes the most irrational thing to do is to forget about them. Decisions only make sense when we incorporate this very human part of ourselves into decisions.

Some might say it's an extension of male patriarchy to discount more feminine emotions and dictate what counts as valid in decision-making. I guess... well, I guess it's up to you to decide! Either way, we have a problem of the dominant view of decision-making as non-emotional. Let's change our own views first.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Laughing With, By Regina Spektor

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one's laughing at God
When they're starving or freezing or so very poor

No one laughs at God
When the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one's laughing at God
When it's gotten real late and their kid's not back from the party yet

No one laughs at God
When their airplane starts to uncontrollably shake
No one's laughing at God
When they see the one they love hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they're mistaken

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say we got some bad news, sir
No one's laughing at God
When there's a famine or fire or flood

But God could be funny
At a cocktail party when listening to a good God themed joke or
Or when the crazies say He hates us
And they get so red in the head you think they're 'bout to choke

God could be funny
When told he'll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus
God can be so hilarious, ha ha.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Keeping it real?

"I am finding out that maybe I was wrong.
That I've fallen down and I can't do this alone.
Stay with me."

Do you ever feel like the life you're living isn't... complete? Not even that - but that it's not all it's supposed to be. Or that maybe God has something... arg, I can't write it down in words. Like his plan is so much bigger than how I'm living my life right now.

I think I'm failing God. I'm not strong. I'm not perfect. I'm a screw up. And I have such a hard time turning around from my mistakes. I hate being wrong about things. I hate admitting that I am wrong. But here I am - and I hope someone reads this so they know I am a mess up.

And it's less about what I'm doing - it's what I'm not doing. But that's almost worse! If I'm a Christian, I'm part of the kingdom of Christ. I should be proud of my faith and represent my faith well in everything.

But it's getting so hard for me to speak out for God at university. It's scary to talk about my God and my beliefs with my friends.

And I'm so ashamed about this stupid fear - when I go and stand before God, do I really want there to be any feeling that at some point or another, I was too embarrassed to tell those He loves dearly about Him? For Him to tell me that I've represented him badly in any possible way?

No, I want to be carrying my cross daily - and I'm going to start making some very necessary changes to carry it like a daughter of Christ. He saved me (and as I like to say, is still saving me), and I owe Him everything. So watch out: I'm coming with my cross on my back. Old life behind, new life to come. And God will be holding my hand as I work towards fearlessly proclaiming the gospel, even if I've been a big old failure at it. I sure do need some prayer. Actually, scrap the some - I need a lot.

Here goes nothing!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On making life count.

There are so many things that make life worth living - and honestly, most are pretty darn simple. Here's my list (I just love lists!) of some of mine:

-Never-ending conversations with a good friend
-Finding the silver lining in every scenario
-Looking for the good in people, even when they're... well, nasty
-Laughing out loud in a movie theatre, even when no one else is
-Smiling at someone as you walk by and getting a smile in return
-Meeting a new friend
-Making muffins to procrastinate writing a paper. Not that I've ever done this...
-Wine and chocolate. Delicious.
-Having a "realization" about something
-Sharing a pot of tea with a friend
-Hugs
-Laughing at yourself, ha!
-telling stories
-listening to stories
-random compliments
-answered prayer

:) Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Friday, February 4, 2011

On What Matters Most

These past few days, I've been really assessing what matters most in my life. Is it my school work? Is it the campaigns and social justice groups I'm in? Is it anything at all to do with me?

Hmmm... (i'm literally assessing these questions as I sit here). I guess - no. Despite the fact that I live my life in such a way that I end up so involved that I barely have a minute to spare for friends, I actually think that it's better not to live like that. Well some might see getting involved and 'being active in the community' as a grand and noble venture, I often have to ask myself what is more important - a group movement towards building schools in a country far away, or ending a contract with a mass murderer of a corporation, or actually looking at the person next to you and saying "You are valuable to me. You are worth my time. You are important for who you are right now, at this moment." While the first is definitely important, I think the second is even moreso. In fact, I don't think the first is possible without the second - I wouldn't be doing everything I do without the encouragement of the people around me. I couldn't do it - I would just get depressed by failure after failure and give up.

But it's the relationships with the people closest to you, those moments where you get to see another person's heart and say "You are immensely precious," where you've truely made an impact. Direct connection is key.

Let's make our time purposeful, in more way than one.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On Civilization

I was thinking the other day about the word "civilization." It has this kind of grandeur, this connotation of advancement and intelligence.

And then I was thinking about all the great civilizations, of Greece, of Rome, of the Mayans, Aztecs, Chinese empire, of the Egyptians. Of Britain, the U.S. And it occurred to me.

What's so civil about civilization?

All of those so-called civilizations are founded upon a premise of power. Of warfare, weaponry, and the ability to kill and oppress those weaker than you. I guess... well, it doesn't seem all that civil to me.

And so now I'm thinking, is this really civilization? Is what we are living in right now really the best we can get? And if so, I think I'd rather live a backward life than in a "civilized" life. At least then, I wouldn't be contributing to the problems that I see around me, that I study, every day.

We call ourselves 'civil' because we think we're smart. Well, tell me this - when did risking the survival of every species on Earth through climate change get considered to be smart? When did creating a weapon that could blow entire provinces to smithereens get considered smart? When did selfish, independent pursuit of money get considered smart?

Ew. I feel like having a shower. Those things are just... well, uncivilized!

At the end of your life, when you're on your dying bed, and someone asks you why life was valuable to you, what are you going to say? That you owned the nicest car, that you made the most money, that you killed a few soldiers in war? NO! Of course not! You're going to tell them that you loved, that you made the most out of the relationships you had, that the time you spent on Earth was to make a difference. Or, at least, that's what I hope to say.

There's certainly got to be something that "civilization" is missing. Of course, maybe civilization should simply not be considered "civil"ization at all. It's just... well, it's just what it is.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Recognizing our Stupidity

I've been thinking about how very useless everything I'm learning is. Which is just great, considering I'm in my third year of my degree. Yep. Just lovely.

International Relations is this lovely little bubble of criticism and analysis. And as was so kindly iterated to me, it is the only subject where people "study places they've never been and people they've never met." And you know what?! HE'S RIGHT! I am just some stupid over-critical individual who is analyzing an entire country and an entire people without ever having visited the country myself or met the people face-to-face, let alone even through some illegitimate social networking site.

Who am I to say that such and such would be a good idea, or that so and so is a crazy baboon for having done this or that? WHO AM I? NO ONE. That's who. And I certainly hope that thought remains with me - only through humility and a realization of my stupidity can I possibly do anything. If I actually want to help those unknown people in that unknown place, I will most certainly not be doing it by writing an 80-page paper, nor will I do it by bringing my own ideas to a place I've never even been.

Anywho, this mind set - the one where the West is like "we're so much richer, we have no civil conflict, we're employed, blah-blibbity-blah-blah-blah" - is totally STUPID. And that's why the IMF, the World Bank, the aid agencies, the NGOs, etc., etc. are all screw-ups, and why all these IR criticism exist.

As good old Soloman said, Pride comes before a fall. Let's never forget to recognize our own stupidity.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On discovering oneself

I think there are periods in one's life when you change. Something about the way you see the world is tweaked ever so slightly, something about your faith in humanity, something about the way you see yourself. And it causes you to change.

It's during these periods of change, however, that life seems the hardest. Because whilst you are trying to figure out who you are and how this discovery is changing you, you also have to go on with your life, simultaneously trying to seem like the same person as before. Of course, maybe that's simply because you are. But you're not quite the same you as you were.

It's strange how people change. How certain contexts bring out certain things in people. Of course, it's good at the same time, as it brings out those parts of people that you perhaps never thought existed. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.

What a thing change is. The human race is so resistant to it. We push against it so hard, even if it's for our best. Even if it makes us ten times the person we were before. And yet, at the time, it's the scariest thing in the universe. It's the unknown. We like having everything in front of us. To know exactly what we are doing in the next five minutes, in the next hour, in the next day, in the next year. We're always planning, but when something comes flying in and lands in front of us, we freak out cause it doesn't follow the master plan.

I guess that the most a person can do is simply trust God. Because I have a feeling he knew this would happen, and he knows how to work it out all for our good. So whilst change is rough, especially in rediscovering oneself, I think the best we can do is wait it out, accept that such changes have happened, and move on. God has a plan, and he'll work it out. We've simply got to have some faith and trust that he knows best.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On Thinking Before Speaking

I've realized something about myself that I need to fix asap.

I speak before I think fully about what I'm saying. You see, I often have these enormous dreams and ambitions and hopes, etc., etc. and I'm like, bang! I want to do this, and I'm going to! but then I rethink what I've just said, or that particular ambition, and see the flaws. But at that point, I've already mentioned it to people, and it's just a tad embarassing, because they just roll their eyes at me and are like, "Silly Rachel. You are just a tad bit crazy. But ambitious." And then I sigh.

What I really really need to work on is simply breathing. In, and slowly out. Huuuuhhhh, Whoooooooo.... Lovely. Perhaps a few seconds of delayed response would be good in my case. Whether or not it looks like I take a long time to process things, I would a least look a bit more intelligent than when I spit something out without fully considering the implications.

Alas, my big mouth is more likely to get me into trouble than anything else. Decisions are just so difficult to make when it comes to big life choices. I suppose that in my consideration of every possible option, that I go a bit overboard and am like, "bam! I'm going to Uganda!" without considering the fact that I still need to pay for university, my sister's wedding is in a few months, and my research will be read by two people - me and my supervisor. Wo hoo.

Perhaps this can be my third New Year's Resolution - to think before I speak. And maybe think for a really long time. But, in the end, a delayed, wise answer that is delayed is better than a quick, stupid one.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If only my friends could fit into my suitcase

Leaving home after Christmas holidays was harder than usual this year. You never really realize how much your family means to you until you leave them for four months and arrive home to hugs every day, delicious meals every day, a mom who does your laundry for you (still amazes me!), a sister who sings you songs in the middle of the night when you get scared :) , a dad who offers boy advice without getting awkward, and a brother who dances and jives with you into the New Year. When I went to say goodbye to them before leaving for the airport, it took all the strength I had not to break down and start crying - which is not very usual for me. But I guess it shows how much they really mean to me, and how much I really do love having them around.

And then there's the amazing friends I have. They're irreplaceable. Not that anyone can be replaced, as we're all unique creations of God, but they're just... well, I'm sure you understand. I have these two friends who are amazing listeners. They just sit there and take in everything you have to say, and then respond once you've said everything you need to. It's incredible. May not seem like it, but if you think really really hard, how many times are you really able to say everything you want to say, like EVERYTHING, that makes you're point perfectly clear? These guys just wait it out. And I'm like "WOW. Maybe I should shut up more." And then I have this amazing friend who just lights up everytime I see her, and whilst I did not get much time to see her face-to-face, I felt like our conversations were real, and that was more than many a conversation I've had with people I've spent a whole day with. And then there's my more adventuresome friend, who has to deal quite often with my lack of a sense of direction. It's quite sad really. I spent one hour trying to find a house that should have taken no more than 20 minutes to get too. :S If I ever had a compass in my head to point out where to go, I think it exploded a while ago. Alas, he was such a lovely help in getting places. And is quite the politically-engaged person too, so I love having a spirited debate about social issues with him too. Hm. And of course, there were the friends I never really got to see - I apologize for that!

Funny how things change with distance.