that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


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resolution ’13

It is fascinating, the whole idea of new years, new perspectives, and pressure to ‘change’ or ‘goal set’ or determine something BIG to shape the next 12 months (or however far into the foreseeable future that you allow yourself to ‘plan’ for). I think every January I’ve posted something about what I resolve to do in the upcoming year. However, it was only in a recent conversation with someone that I faced the fact that I think resolutions are ridiculous. Yes, I believe being adaptable and actively seeking growth is important and reflection is crucial to my own understanding of ‘success’. But to actually create a list of all the ways I need to get it together always turns into more of a personal pep talk or worse, talking myself into insecurity over all the ways that I may have messed up the previous year. Not that commiserating over my shortcomings isn’t valuable at times but really… do I really think it’s an important ritual: starting a new year by focusing on all the failures of the last? Hmm. So here’s my thought process –

Commitment – isn’t that what resolutions actually are? Making a commitment, rather than setting a goal, to changing something. Or re-evaluating a part of our existence that might need a little guidance. Sure, it might simply be saying the same thing as I argue against in my previous paragraph. However, I like a good challenge – I am a very committed, loyal, determined person and somehow, ‘committing to’ instead of ‘resolving to’ is going to be a little more realistic for me. And simply: I only have one commitment to this new year, 2013, the year I turn – shame – 28.

I was thinking and praying a lot over the winter holidays about relationship. What does ‘being in relationship’ with people actually mean? What do I bring to the ones I am a part of? How much do I value the relationships in my life and what amount of me is filled by the love and grace that others give to me? Am I worthy…are we worthy…of Jesus’ love and grace, especially in moments when we tend to forget Him? How can I be blessed by but not filled by my earthly relationships? Do those I care for, know how hard it can be? Oh yes –

No answers. It’s really just a thinking/talking point but my heart seems very focused on the meaning of relationship in my life. Because I value the thoughtful and meaningful part of being in relationship with someone, and my love language being quality time, it’s been an interesting question for me to render… relationship, Christ, me, you, value, perseverance, grace, love, patience, pride, change, growth…and how each part woven together is an overwhelming responsibility…but a blessed one. And relationship? Is it okay to admit that sometimes, I just don’t know how?

How to be selfless?
How to be gracious?
Forgive?
Laugh even when it’s hard?
Make room for more new people – when the old are just fine?
How to listen all the time?
Make it through hard moments?
Not miss the ones I miss as much?
How to make time to be grateful for those who’ve given me so much?

Words of a beloved Christmas tune seemed to surround me through this pre-2013 holiday contemplation:

truly He taught us to love one another..

and again:

truly He taught us to love one another..

No questions anymore really, that’s pretty much it.

Going into the new year, that is my simple commitment: to be more intentional in my relationships. To give grace freely, to trust completely, to listen wholly, to remember and be thoughtful, to be present, to recognize each relationship for what large and intimate or small and distant role they have, and to love unconditionally and intentionally all those who have chosen me.

Relationships with intention.

Because that’s the way it was intended to be.

sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise [I]

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love…will not dismay

Sometimes hope is frightfully quiet. And sometimes anger is fearfully loud. And you’re hoping desperately for rain because it seems so intentionally fitting given the moment and pain and confusion and frustration. But the scariest part is if we openly hope and dream and be vulnerable out loud, that life will beat it out of us and what then? My friend is paralyzed with the news of his mom’s cancer… and I am paralyzed by what it’s doing to him. And in another story, a most-dear family to me, next to my own, suffering their own heartbreak over the last few days. Not only do these moments make hope little less obvious, it makes it oh-so-much-more important.

Anyway. Some things on my heart I guess.

IN other news, check out this vid. Then check out this band. Then thank Chrissy for showing me so I could show you.


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mom went digital

Christmas was such a treat this year. It felt like I experienced all four seasons in the last week — leaving a very mild Victoria behind for an even milder Penticton and as we made our way to cold, snowy Alberta, the temperatures outside dropped and my internal temperature rose — I couldn’t wait to meet my nephew. Arriving in Camrose late Wednesday night, Weston was still awake in his Mama’s arms. Let me tell you, he does not disappoint! The next few days were locked in Jes and Mark’s beautiful, cozy home, relaxing and quiet as we spent time sharing and visiting and playing… while Wes went from one set of eager arms to another. I don’t have my camera cord with me so pictures will have to wait but my goodness, I never thought I could love a little person like that. We are blessed.

One of the most entertaining moments was my Mom’s reaction to my Dad’s Christmas gift to her — a Nikon D90 digital camera. For those of you who don’t know, my mom is the lady with the camera attached to her hands but is so in love with her current film Nikon, coupled with the daunting learning curve that comes with going digital, she’s never made the switch. Until now. It was so awesome! My Dad delights in not telling us what he’s buying mom for Christmas so it’s always a treat for everyone — unless you’re one of the kids who helps him with the picking of the gift (in this case, Nate). So I think half the fun for him is watching all of our own jaws drop! AnywaY (that’s for Chrissy), this camera takes the most beautiful pictures and I rarely heard the whirr of the film winding of her old Nikon in the three days I was there. RIP, old friend.

Unfortunately for me, my own beloved toy cost me a pretty penny today so rather than kicking her in the behind, I am blogging about it. Bella, my car, got herself a new water pump, timing belt, and numerous other belts today… much to my chagrin. I noticed a few weeks ago that something was leaking from it. After consulting the men in my life, it was determined that the coolant was the culprit. My Dad and brother in law reminded me that it was last Christmas when Honda told me the water pump had a hole in it. I guess it was only a matter of time… pray that my faith in my Bella is restored, right now I just see a large, inflated dollar sign hovering above her hood. Aww, well. I’ll just go curl up on the couch with my new poetry book and snuggle in with my pyrex dishes… we’re in love already and they aren’t even out of the package.

Other notables: I miss Alberta… the snow and the cold and the frosty cheeks…the fireplace and the company and the memories. I am more than ok with moving back. In fact, I fell in love with Cochrane on our way through it. Fun. PS Jes and Mark — thanks for the awe-some hospitality, I sure missed your company and friendship. Also, I think being in Victoria is much too far from Weston. I don’t know how I could describe him completely so you’ll just have to take my word for it — he’s the most adorable and content and strong little baby I have ever met. His life is going to be so much fun to witness!

As for me, I am back in Penticton and working for the next few days before heading back to the coast. It’ll be pretty quiet as I am home alone (Mom and Jay went to Smithers from AB). But it’ll be nice… I am none too anxious to get back to school — in three short months I will be teaching and I am oddly terrified. Looking back on 2009, I remember saying “this is it. this is going to be my year.” I don’t know exactly what I meant by that, often ideas form on my lips before I even staturate in them, but if my year meant gaining a nephew, graduating with a degree, realizing my massively huge dream of becoming a teacher, and creating relationships to last a lifetime… then my list of resolutions for 2010 might be exactly the same — not items to change, but blessings to hope and be thankful for.

Cheers!


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of all days.

poppy

In the cold echoes of the wind, the trumpets blare and the men in uniform march one…by…one. Down the street, past the monuments, in view of thousands wearing the little red flowers so close to their hearts.

 

Perhaps it is because the last three months in school have been consumed with war…how it happened, how it continues to happen, who it involved, who was victorious, and who was dessimated. Or maybe it’s because I had a friend who recently returned from there, who had friends there, as the war – a different war – rages on. It doesn’t matter, but today remembrance seems to mean more than it ever has.

 

It is not just about our freedom or the price that was paid, in bodies and blood and debt and uncertainty, but about the devastating confusion that came when an expected four month war stretched into four years; how our nationality was deeply exposed when Canada, for the first time, entered a war (WWII) on our own. It’s so easy to wave a Canadian flag, a British flag, and American flag, and boast thanksgiving to those who lost their lives for our freedom… and our unity. It’s so easy to sit in front of the TV or read the headlines and believe that war was then, and freedom is now.

 

But what do we do with that freedom? We gripe about the economy and gas prices; job shortages and the weather; we struggle with the Canadian government and the situation in the United States. We complain about tuition and having our parents’ still boldly lay claim to our lives. I think with freedom comes our responsibility to the price that has been, and continues to be, paid to keep us secure, radiant, proud Canadians. We justify our spending or actions or beliefs on a simple justification: “because we can”. Yet I wonder, what if the Unknown Soldier decided he couldn’t? What if the nurse laid down her bandages and said she would no longer serve? What if Fisher had not manufactured the Dreadnought? What if conscription never took place or time stood still on industrialization or the atomic bomb was never created? What if the other side won?

 

What if the World Trade Center had never been attacked? Where would we be? Who would we be? Why does it matter?

 

It’s frighteningly cold today, as if the wind has rushed in to hold our hearts cold to imagine what it was like when the opposing sides called a truce, meeting in No Man’s Land, for one day – Christmas Day – and decided to lay down the weapons, to Live and Let Live, if only for one day.

 

I think it is time that we, Canadians, British, North Americans, whoever, are exposed to simply remember. Today is not only a time to remember who has served, but to center ourselves, again, on what is really important. My sister often talks about how God calls us to be good stewards of what we’ve been given. With that, what are we doing with this freedom we’ve been given? What are we doing with this life? Would hundreds of thousands upon thousands of fallen soldiers believe it was all worth it?

 

Let’s not forget the veterans and members of the past, but let us also continue to remember those with the Canadian flag and cause that are fighting and peacekeeping now. It is, literally, the least we can do.

 

“It’s only in the dark and cold of night that we can see the stars…and I pray that those stars will lead them, too, all the way home.”

 

November 11, 1918 – November 11, 2008 : 90 years since the armistice ending WWI was signed.

 

I choose to remember.


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question #1

(This is an interactive blog, I would like you to comment answers for me because I am genuinely curious and I plan to do this often now, providing this goes well…)

Q1: Do you believe that acting upon conviction (doing what you know you should)… especially one that you keep fighting to ignore but can’t… is worth it even if the outcome is completely heartwrenching and appearingly awful?


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brilliance…sheer brilliance

(Disclaimer: this is long but read it, I didn’t write about 94% of it so you can be guaranteed enjoyment in that!)

I’ve been preoccupied lately with being a witness. In fact, I am not very good at it outloud so I try to do it in action… I struggle mostly between the world I know so unbelievably well (the secular world) and wanting that part of my world to see the other part of it (the Christian world) in hopes that they all might merge together as one. But this isn’t easy for me. So today, listening as I do everyday on the way to school on my iPod, I had Rob Bell’s sermon podcast (you can subscribe to Mars Hill Church on iTunes…I recommend it!) on and his topic was exactly that. I wanted to re-share two stories he shared…and if you read til the end, you’ll see why I was fighting tears at the corner of Shelbourne and Hillside at 7:14 this morning:

A skateboarder for the King of Kings Skateboarding team got up and grabbed the mic to share his ‘story’. He said “Hey, I just wanna tell you a bit of my story. I was a heroine addict and everyday I was using the drug. And I got to a place where my life was totally falling apart and I cried out to GOD…and GOD rescued me.

So I met these other guys who follow Jesus and something happened IN me and I began to follow this Jesus.  Just BE careful when you cry out to GOD because YOUR WHOLE LIFE could change.” I used heroine everyday and then I cried out and in my oppression and in my despair I was hurt and my life is totally different. THAT changes the world.

Justifiable worldviews and arguments…still who is going to argue with THAT? JUST GO and report your faith. Rob Bell goes on to say that Jesus likens Faith to the wind…it blows wherever it pleases…therefore, Jesus’ mentality is that faith, and life as a Christian, is exciting and mysterious…worth every ounce.

The other story (it’s worth it I promise):

A three year old girl was a firstborn and only child in her family but now her mom is pregnant again and the girl was very excited about having a new brother or sister.

Within a few hours of the parents bringing the baby boy home from the hospital, the little girl made a request to be alone with her brother in his room with the door shut.

Her insistence of being alone with the baby with the door shut made her parents a bit uneasy but then they remembered they has installed an intercom system in anticipation of the babies arrival. They realized that they could let their daughter do this and if they heard the slightest indication that something strange was happening, they could be in the baby’s room in an instant.

So they let the little girl go into the baby’s room, shut the door, and they raced to the intercom listening station and they heard the girls footsteps moving across the room, imagined her standing over the crib and then they heard her saying to her three day old brother:

“Tell me about GOD, I’ve almost forgotten.”

People are transformed by faith in GOD and go out to change their part of the world. Of all the ways Jesus could talk about faith, he tells a story of return… a return to your real, true home and to a GOD who loves you. It’s as real as you sitting there.

Isn’t that true? As believers we understand that humanity comes directly from God, and a home up in Heaven, why not be empowered by the thought of helping all of His children not come, but return home…?

I think it’s as simple as that. Maybe?


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do you think we grow out of it?

My roommate told me today she’s overly Christmas-spirited this year. I think it’s because she’s in love.

Griffin went to see the parade with Santa in it last Saturday with Auntie, Uncle, and Alicia. I wonder if it’s in part to start the season off and see Santa themselves…to see it through the eyes of a child?

Kyla mentioned that it is supposed to snow this weekend in Victoria and my heart swelled about three times the size. I think it’s because I was hoping it would.

I bought a box of Christmas cards. I think it’s because I want to spread the feeling.

Cardamon, Cinnamon, Cloves, and Cookie-Cutters. I think it’s because I decided to make gingerbread.

Do you think we grow out of it? That feeling that warms us up from out fingertips to our tippy toes? As I was driving to Scott and Kyla’s today, I had a phonecall from someone and what the person wanted was my commitment for something. I had to look at my watch for today’s date and I was floored that it’s already November 23. Maybe it’s because it flew by so fast that I was shocked, but more so… there’s no snow on the ground, I haven’t worn my mitts and toque for any other reason than they look cute, and I have yet to have my oh-so-favourite feeling of icicles on my eyelashes and a cold red nose. I anticipate this time just as much as I have every year, but that feeling has been twisted into a feeling I don’t actually recognize: How do I get in the Christmas spirit, and the winter that I love so much, when I can still walk outside in shorts and a shirt and wave to the neighbour boy that’s doing the same?

I wouldn’t. But my friend Suzanne does. And I think it’s weird.

To combat the weirdly unexpected missing of winter to trigger that oh-so-loving-feeling of Christmas, I actually went to Wal-Mart and walked over to the seasonal section and just looked. As I fingered the intricate, yet inexpensive, ornaments and bulbs, my heart started racing and Boney M came through the loud speaker singing “Little Drummer Boy”…

Insignificant? Hardly. For as long as I can remember, us kids have stirred Christmas morning to the record of Boney M’s Christmas and if I am not mistaken (my dear sisters, correct me if not true) I always happen to be alerted as the words “Come…they told me.. pa rum pa pum pum…” softly drifted into our bedroom. I think that, aided by the fact that Scott and Kyla have their beautiful Christmas tree erected and decorated, reminded me that Christmas…and that feeling…doesn’t need the snow or a frostbitten nose…or snow drifts cascading across the house’s side.

So I made gingerbread tonight… I can’t for the life of me spell the Swiss term for it… and that, accompanied by my in-love-Christmas-spirited roommate, and the gentle anticipation of snow potentially this weekend reminded me of something pretty great:

I happen to love you all. It’s not a huge revelation, it’s just unbelievably true. I don’t know if people read this that I don’t know, but if you do, I hope my words have been able to reach you in some way through reading this. It’s a powerful thing, blogging, I wonder if anybody believes in the intensity of it.

I know it’s early, and some of you may not have nestled down and thought about what is on the horizon pending this upcoming month, but I sincerely wish you Jesus’ peace in the coming little while. I truly believe that this peace is real, and needed, all the time… but all too often, we get sidetracked by the consumerism and the wanting snow and expectations for everything to turn out just right. Heck, look at me. I let papers, old friends, reading, dishes, the gym, coffee, showering… everything that makes my existence allow so many moments that I miss or forget or ignore.

The funny thing is, no matter what city I am in, no matter how it’s packaged or who delivers it or how quickly it seems to come, the spirit is always there…

Maybe simply to reconnect with who we are. And what’s important.

Maybe to get that lighthearted feeling… a reminiscent one that makes it ok that my nose can’t be cold and I can’t go skating on outdoor rinks…but it’s enough to have those memories.

Maybe… it’s a real time to reconnect with Jesus. I mean really, we all feel pretty devastated when someone disregards our own birthdays.

No…I don’t think we grow out of it, we just get better at wanting it.

And wanting it for the right reasons.

And wanting it because it makes us feel safe, warm, and alive right from the tips of our fingers to the ends of our toes.

Happy Holidays, friends, I cherish you.