Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Current Read

Has anyone noticed the change in reading pattern? I have. I've slipped from my fiction/non-fiction alternation. It's weird. Kindof like all my mind can handle is fluff. I never considered myself an escapist until now. That's what I'm doing. Not learning. Not aspiring to greatness. Just escaping into the realms of fiction and enjoying the stories of someone else's imagination. It's fun, really. It's not like I'm not living in the learning curve anyway, stretched in all kinds of directions. And I'll be back. I've got some really exciting non-fiction waiting. I'll get there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This is an actual roadsign from South Carolina. Seems appropriate after last week's primary results.
"What I believe is so magnificent, so glorious, that it is beyond finite comprehension. To believe that the universe was created by a purposeful, benign Creator is one thing. To believe that this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason. It is so wild that it terrifies some Christians who try to dogmatize their fear by lashing out at other Christians, because tidy Christianity with all answers given is easier than one which reaches out to the wild wonder of God's love, a love we don't even have to earn."

Madeline L'Engle

Monday, January 28, 2008

This story just keeps getting better and it!
Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, and most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time journey...delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas, and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.

Gordon B. Hinckley

It's Cold Outside

I'll be the first to admit that I hate the cold. I'm convinced that when God made me, He intended me to be living in a warmer climate. Seriously, I just don't have the body "stuff" for this weather. It doesn't seem to matter how many layers, I'm still cold. I'm not even embarassed, as someone who grew up without the blessing of Southern Alberta's chinooks, to admit it. It's just cold.

Today I woke up to -35 degrees or something silly like that. Windchill has it somewhere below -45. I was up early so that I could be downtown for work at 7:30. At the train station by 6:30 only to find that, because of the cold (apparently), the whole city was slowed down. Three trains sitting at my station going nowhere. Lots of cold people all wondering what's going on. The platform is filling fast. Finally, after 25 minutes of just plain cold, a train arrives and we all pile in...we literally pile in. I've seen cattle cars. This was worse. And it was a slow go downtown. A really slow go.

Now, I wanted to complain. Really, I did...I still do. But with each station we passed on the way to downtown and each time the doors opened and a bunch of cold people were left behind on that platform, I had to be thankful that I was inside the train and on my way. I watched the people outside as we approached the downtown core, some already at their spot panhandling, and couldn't help but wonder how, on such a cold day, they could still be out there, sitting on the cold concrete. I thought about how many people in Calgary spent the night last night outside while I was warm. I thought of how few of them had the luxury of a nice warm shower to start their day like I did. I thought of how they were going to spend their day compared to mine. The office is warm and I have a coffee in front of me to warm me from the inside out.

My greeting as I answer the phone at the office I'm temping at this week goes something like this: "It's a great day at Bowen, this is Stacey speaking." Today I mean it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Current Read

The Golden CompassThe Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

I Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

Walking by faith is tough. When I used to think of walking by faith I think I had this mental picture of skipping through a sun-drenched, flower-filled field. You know, those scenes straight out of Hollywood where everything is perfect? Beautiful music plays in the background and everyone in the scene is smiling. It's just good.

And it is good...except now my picture is not nearly as romantic. It's more realistic. I'd go as far as to suggest that it's healthier. Now it's dark out and I can't see a whole lot around me. In fact, it's pitch black out. A little more like a war zone, like ground zero. My walk is not so much a skip but a trudge, through mud or snow or something else that makes walking tricky, and it's up hill. I picture army fatigues where once I'd pictured pretty dresses and pigtails. I'm tired but the thing that makes it good is that I know where to look. It's not so much like a guiding light ahead of me but somewhere near, perhaps even in, and because of it I can keep trudging, one foot in front of the other. The only thing that I know about the direction is that it's forward and for now that's enough. I walk ahead by faith, not by sight.

I think we hope for the nice version but all of us know that life just doesn't work that way. Some of us choose to live with a happy face on - the perpetually happy Christian - pretending everything is okay even when it is hard but I don't think that's anything remotely close to honest. I don't think it gives a fair picture of who God really is or how He really engages in human my story. I'm convinced that God meets us how life really works. I'm learning that walking by faith isn't always easy but it's always good. I'm learning that it's not always predictable but instead that it's always risky. I'm learning that the 'payoff' isn't always instantaneous or even expected but it's always worth the wait. I'm learning that walking by faith requires that I give up control but that I'm giving it to someone much more qualified than myself. It's not easy but it's good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just finished reading...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

It all happened so fast that I didn't have time to post it before I finished's that good!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Healthy Habits

I encourage you to make one of these a part of your 2008 routine.

What's new?

Since leaving the college in September, it seems this is a question I am asked fairly often...and occasionally even have an answer for! I've been promising an update, so here it is.

If you've been following along, October and November saw me travelling our beautiful country with the CCUFairs. It was so good for me - great people to travel with while doing a job I enjoyed. Not bad. I knew while I was away that it was in many ways a break for me, a chance for healing, growth and learning about myself, but I didn't know just how much that was in order until I came back.

Then there was the week in Halifax with Sean and Cheryl. Seriously a highlight of 2007. We were NOT the typical tourists and walked miles every day. We truly felt like we'd experienced Halifax by the time we came home.

I took a week or so of "rest" once I got home. Such an incredible blessing to have the freedom to do that. Sadly, though, it didn't last long enough and the bank account began to put on the pressure. Right now, I've got a few things on the go. I spent some time working for a photographer I know, taking portraits like crazy and experiencing some pretty upscale Christmas parties. It was a lot of know those days where you know you're working but it doesn't feel like work? That's what it was like. I talked a lot. I took a lot of pictures. Anyone who knows me, knows that's a pretty good gig for me! I also started on my recert for my WSI (water safety instructor). The rest of it is lined up for next week with some pretty good possibilities for work following that up. In the meantime, I've been temping for an agency here in town and, as much as I don't really enjoy the work itself - the joke with a few of my friends is that I'm typically so bored I'm spinning my chair - they've been very happy with me and are working hard to make sure I have as close to full time hours as they can. The bills are paid, I leave work at the end of each day and leave work there, and people think I'm a genius...and that's a good day!

That's the "what am I doing now" summary but I can't help but feel that the much more significant side of transition for me, as it usually is, I suppose, has been the learning, growing, shaping and reflecting that's been going on.

More than anything, I'm learning about trust and about the faithfulness of God. I'm learning that it really is an all or nothing thing with God...I can't say that I trust him unless I really am willing to surrender everything, absolutely everything, to Him. For me that's hard - even though I know that He is much better at being in control than I am. I've had to surrender my future in a whole new way as I feel like I'm learning to dream about the possibilities of it all over. Not knowing how much work (or how much pay!) I'll have each week has stretched my faith in God as a provider...and He's continually proven worthy. It's crazy but in December, my pay, between temping and shooting photos was almost exactly what my "needs" were...almost to the dollar! God knows what I need. The struggle is knowing that and living that way. Scripture reminds us not to worry about anything, but I do. It feels risky to let go but when I think about who I'm giving myself to, it really shouldn't be. It's about surrender, true surrender, of every part of who I am and who I am becoming to the God who created me and is creating me.

In all of this, I'm learning that when nothing else is certain, God is.

Between time off and time "spinning my chair," I've had lots of time to reflect. I've been thinking a lot about who I want to be and how that informs what I do, a philosophical debate that is likely what started a lot of this transition in the first place. I'm finding that this, like the struggle of surrender, is something that is and will affect all of who I am: what I do for work, how I approach the work I'm doing - attitude is everything, right!? - even when it's not the "dream" job, relationships, church and community involvement...every part of me.

Earlier this week I was working on a temping assignment and was in a filing room for two days straight. The second day I got smart and took my ipod loaded with Donald Miller's "Through Painted Deserts." I listened to the whole book! One thing he talked about was moving past the "how" questions - how do we find a job, get paid, find a spouse, get a good house, etc - to the "why" questions of life. The "why" informs the "how." I know I'm there...sometimes frustratingly so. While it's true that it's the "why" questions that match both my personality and my value systems, it's incredibly frustrating when there's just not answers for all of those questions. You see, the "how" is simple...relatively speaking, at least. It's surface and usually fairly straightforward. Admittedly, the why is more elusive, more mysterious, but maybe that's exactly why some of us feel prompted to ask those questions. It's the mystery of it that ultimately makes the discovery more satisfying. Deep inside of me there's a longing to know more about "why" - why am I here? why do we do the things we do? why are these things valuable or important? why does society choose that 'this' will be right and 'this' will be wrong? why do we decide that there are certain things that children need to be "older" to learn and by what standard does that happen? why do we long for relationship? why does relationship seem so hard sometimes? why, when we're created as holistic people is it so hard to maintain life as a whole? why? why? why? See, to me, the answers to those questions, and others like them, inform the how questions we are motivated to ask. I wish I had more answers but it seems like right now I'm just left with a lot of questions...and not a lot of sleep. I guess I'd rather be asking questions than floating through life not thinking about anything. I'm learning that that's part of the way I'm made and I'm okay with that.

I've said several times lately that this is a time of healing and encouragement...I didn't realize how much I needed that until having the room to do it. Some of it comes in the reflection I've already talked about. Some of it has come from having some of the pressures of life removed, even temporarily. Some of it comes from having a few good friends around to walk the journey with. Some of it comes from identifying where the hurts came from in the first place and choosing to let them go, rather than to live as a victim to them. Some of it comes from going back to the basics of where my identity is found. It's yet another area of life where I've been amazed at how God knows what I need before I do and provides for it. One of the surprising side affects for me is learning to be gracious to myself and allowing myself space to walk this part of the journey one step at a time. Donald Miller referenced a similar idea in his book, reflecting on a hiking trip in the Grand Canyon.He referred to it as climbing out of a pit with a load on our backs, giving ourselves the freedom to lighten the load, perhaps lose it completely and to move slowly up the cliffs. Can you picture it? Trudging up the sandy cliffs, one foot in front of the other, the unnecessary baggage littering the trail behind you and the goal of the top ahead.

That's probably enough rambling for now. I'm not even sure if I care whether it makes sense or not. Somehow it's just nice to have it out.

Other highlights of the last while...Christmas and New Years of course.

  • The ballet! A few great friends and I went to see the Nutcracker. I love the music, always have. It reminds me just how much music speaks. There are no words spoken through the whole ballet but through the movement and the music, a beautiful story is presented. I sound like such an artist when I say stuff like that but it's true. Enjoying it with the friends I did was simply the icing on the cake!
  • Following a great Candle light service at Journey - talk about a great way to start off the holidays, Christmas was back in Stony Plain with my family. It was the first time since last Christmas that all 5 of us have been together AND it was the first Christmas in a while that we didn't have anyone in the University Hospital in Edmonton to go visit. Beautiful!
  • Time with family and friends. Mom's side of the family. Dad's parents. Tischer's and Breitkreutz's. People that make me wish our province was smaller.
  • Cheryl and I photographed a wedding the weekend after Christmas. Not only was it a fun thing to do, it was great to work with Cheryl. I think we need to do it more often!
  • New Year's at the Blind Beggar Pub listening to the sounds of Gradenko, sipping champagne at midnight and yelling at dear friends across the table. Not my normal New Year's type outing but it definitely was entertaining...gave us something to talk about, that's for sure. A night listening to Gradenko is always good fun in my books!
  • New Year's resolutions. Well, not really resolutions but goals. For 2007, I'd made it a goal to play more and, thanks to a few good friends, was able to make that a bigger part of my life...and it sure does make a difference! I plan to continue that in 2008. Then there's some specific goals about my emotional, spiritual and physical health. Some not so defined goals about dreaming...perhaps the goal is just to define that a little better, I don't know. Some goals about new skills, new experiences and new ways to give back. My plan is to make this a good year!

If you're still with me, you're a brave soul. I'll sign off now, hoping that satisfies the curiosity of anyone wondering about my whereabouts for now. I'll try not to leave it so long next time!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Especially for Sheryl and Stephen

Okay, so I'm on my way home from work today, riding public transit and listening to podcasts on my ipod (my favorite way of reclaiming the hours I spend there!). The choice for this evening was the sermon from Erwin McManus' church, Mosaic, from Dec. 30 on the joy of God.

Anyway, he's talking about the passage "consider it pure joy, my brothers" and talking about the meaning of joy.

How there's happy and unhappy but no "unjoy." Cool thought, huh!?

Then he translates the passage this way: "consider it calm delight."

My thoughts went to rivers, more specifically to canoeing on green mountain water...yes, that's delight.

Then a song came through my head..."I've got peace like a river, love like an ocean, joy like a fountain in my soul..."

...and suddenly, in my mind, I was thinking about a ride on a bus and canoeing on a river of love. Oh the memories. Miss you guys!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Makes Me Smile

Kenny Chesney's latest song makes me smile. Yes it does. He's loaded it onto youtube but has it protected so it can't be embedded. It's fun...hope it makes you smile too!
Everybody Wants To Change The World: Practical Ideas For Social JusticeEverybody wants to Change the World, Tony Campolo

A New Favorite

I keep saying that I'm going to do a post to update everyone on what's been going on in my life for the last, well, couple months now I suppose. The longer I say that the harder it's going to be to collect all my thoughts! It truly has been a season of reflection and of growth, growing pains included.

Until I get around to it, though, this song can give you a taste of what God's been teaching me. He seems to say it so well. It's a teaching video but it's the only one that I could find for now. Maybe if you're a guitar player, you can learn it and enjoy it that way too. Yes, that's been my plan all along...excellent...He prefaces it all with the story behind the song which I think is pretty cool too.

Oh, and here's the lyrics for you who don't care what it really sounds like...


You are the author of life just one word and I am free
You are the savior and I need your grace to rescue me
I surrender


We're giving it all to you
We're giving it all to you
Our hearts cry out we need you now we're giving it all to you

Verse 2
You are the fountain of life just one drop and I am filled
You are my joy and desire I resign to your will
I surrender


just one drop and we are filled
just one drop and we are filled
just one word and we are free

Anyway, it's my new favorite. Itunes is counting the number of plays and it's growing!

Monday, January 07, 2008

"The field had to be broken, the iron molten, the orchard lopped, the wheat winnowed, the stream imprisoned above the mill. Perhaps it was the same with man's life. From defeat greater endeavor must be born, from tears increased purpose, from despair hope. Why should a man fall but to rise again, die but to live?" - George Dell

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Thursday, January 03, 2008

John Butler Trio - Good Excuse

Highly recommended to me by Shenny! So fun!