Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Top 100 Movies

Rogers always puts their top 100 movies of the year list up on their website. Okay, maybe not always but certainly for the last couple years. The list for 2008 is up. It's a pretty eclectic list of films.

There's a lot on the list I haven't seen...and a lot on the list I won't.

Anyone have any other recommendations from 2008?

25 Things About Me

This thing started in my circle of friends on facebook a couple days ago and, while I don't usually get sucked into these things, it's been so much fun reading all the ones so many of my friends have done that I felt like I should. Then, once it was done there, I thought I might as well post it here too. Sorry if you got it in both places.

1. I would live off pizza, chocolate (especially the dark stuff), cheese, wine and coffee if my body would let me. It probably won't so I don't.

2. I love to read. My favorite part of Beauty in the Beast (Disney's version) is when Belle walks into the big library. I want a library like that...with a ladder!

3. My favorite thing to do on a Saturday morning when I'm not working is to curl up on the couch in my jammies, with my coffee and watch cartoons. I don't care if I'm approaching middle age (thanks for the pearl of wisdom, Tasha!).

4. I love playing volleyball and really miss playing right now!

5. The only thing I'm allergic to is celery. I know, retarded. It could be worse. It could be chocolate (see #1).

6. I never feel better after I vomit. I don't know who those crazy people are that do. I'll do ANYTHING to avoid it.

7. One of my favorite things about my job at the pool is the people...patrons, students & staff. I love people. Even stupid people. They may be frustrating but they provide good stories.

8.I love dogs but not cats. I grew up with dogs but haven't had one since I moved to the city. Sad but probably good since some days I can't seem to take care of myself let alone anyone else.

9. My dream vacation would be to Scotland and Ireland to wander castles, absorb history (I love the history!), visit churches, photograph the countryside, hang out in pubs and hear the accents...and that's just for starters. Don't know why but it's always been where I want to go.

10. I love to drive. The car is one of my most relaxing places. It's also one of my most frustrating. Go figure.

11. I'd like to be a race car driver, but maybe just for a day.

12. I thoroughly enjoy breakfast food and could eat it for any meal of the day. Waffles. Pancakes. Eggs. Especially eggs.

13. I'm a night owl. My ideal day would find me starting my day around 9:30 am and finishing around 2 am the next day.

14. I hate the cold. Despise it. I don't care if I grew up in Northern Alberta, I think it sucks...the cold, not northern Alberta.

15. I think summer all year 'round would be a good idea - No, I wouldn't miss snow at Christmas - and have thought of moving somewhere where it's warm all year but don't know where I'd go. And I'd miss my family. Lots. So I'm still here.

16. I love movies. All kinds of them...but I think boy-action-type movies are probably my favorites. The epics like Braveheart and Gladiator, the lighter action movies like Transporter and Mission Impossible and everything in between.

17. Music, music, music makes me happy. Playing, listening, writing. I'm convinced that there is a song for every moment - a soundtrack for life, if you will - and that there are many different genres worth appreciating.

18. I sometimes don't think that I'm a very good "girl." I don't do pink, I'm not really sure what to do with makeup or a curling iron, I prefer beer to fruity drinks, I would take just about any kind of movie over a girly chick flick, I shop when necessary (unless it's a book store), perfume makes my nose itch, I love sports - playing or watching, gossip makes me cringe and I hate to cry.

19. I pride myself on being self sufficient but would love to have someone to take care of me.

20. I would love to publish a book one day. When I figure out what it's going to be about I'll let you know.

21. I'm a big nerd. I love school and am looking forward to going back. I thrive off learning, researching and writing.

22. I don't really like living in the city. I would love to have an acreage with horses, a greenhouse and a house with a wrap around veranda.

23. I would like to use my photography to fund my ministry...maybe I would have my own photo studio one day or, if I'm really dreaming, shoot for national geographic.

24. I love every minute I get to spend walking life with people and helping them realize what it is that God really thinks of them, what he's created them for, and what this life is about.

25. I'm passionate about the church and want to be a part of a movement that breaks the stereotype of the judgmental, hypocritical Christian. I want to be part of a radical movement of church, one that is working hard to figure out what it means to live and love like Jesus, that leads the way in every area of life, is conscious of being concerned about what's really important in life instead of picking on stupid things and is as attractive to those around them the way that Jesus was & is to those those around him.

I didn't think that I'd be able to come up with 25 things - I'm really not as interesting as I try to lead people to believe - but now that I'm done, I might have to add to the list later. You know, include all those things that I missed. Stay tuned.


I've got mixed emotions about change. Not the silver and copper kind that weighs down your pants pocket but can actually amount to something if you're willing to spend some time to sort through it but life change. Actually, you know, perhaps that's not that bad an analogy.

Big life change has the ability to weigh a person down but, if you're willing, can certainly be used for something good.

I feel like I've had a lot of change in my life in the last year or so. It's been good (such a nondescript word, isn't it!?), rewarding, formative and exciting but challenging, exhausting and draining.

A few things I've learned about change:

1. It's better with the support of community. Much like anything else in life, I don't think we're meant to tackle major life change alone.

2. There is an aspect of change that always forces us to encounter the unknown.

3. Encountering the unknown reminds us that there are things we're not in control of. For some of us, that's a completely freeing thought. For others, completely frightening.

4. It requires trust. Trust that when I'm not in control, God is. Trust that it's okay for me not to be in control. Trust that there are others around me who will support me and pick up the pieces if and when I can't.

5. External change forces internal change.

6. Internal change forces external change.

7. We learn things through major change that we couldn't have learned any other way.

8. Change doesn't always equal suffering or challenge but it does always equal a move out of your comfort zone which equals being stretched.

9. Change can be completely exhilarating when walked with a sense of anticipation.

10. Change is easier to approach with anticipation when you've had a good night's sleep...or chocolate.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Current Read

Becoming a True Spiritual Community, Larry Crabb
The Church is people...

...People who have committed themselves to being a certain way in the world. To try to brand that is to risk commodifying something intimate, sacred and holy. A church is not a center for religious goods and services, where people pay a fee and receive a product in return. A church is not an organization that surveys its demographic to find out what the market is demanding at this particular moment and then adjusts its strategy to meet that consumer niche...

...It's about our death. It's our willingness to join the world in its suffering, it's our participation in the new humanity, it's our weakness calling out to others in their weakness...

...What does it look like for us to break ourselves open and pour ourselves out for the healing of these people in this time in this place?...

...It's written in the letter to the Hebrews that they shouldn't give up meeting together because they should "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

The phrase "good deeds" comes from the Hebrew word mitzvot, which refers to actions taken to heal and repair the world. It's a concept rich with significance in the Jewish tradition. For the writer of Hebrews, the church gathers so that the body will spur one another on to live a particular way day in and day out.

These gatherings aren't the end; they're the beginning. They're the start. They put things in perspective, they remind, they provoke, they comfort, they inspire, they challenge, but ultimately they are about the Eucharist. About these people in this place at this time being equipped to be a Eucharist*.

From "Jesus Wants to Save Christians," by Rob Bell, pages 159-161.

The Eucharist is ultimately about what we do out there, in the flow of everyday life.

When the goal of a church is to get people into church services and then teach them how to invite people to come to church services, so that they in turn will bring others to more church services -

that's attendance at church services.

And church is not ultimately about attending large gatherings.

Church is people.

People who live a certain way in the world.

People who have authority in the world, but authority that comes from breaking themselves open and pouring themselves out so that the world will be healed."

Rob Bell defines Eucharist this way: "God has made peace with the world through the Eucharist, the good gift of Jesus. And so Christians take part in a ritual, a meal, a reminder of Passover, called the Eucharist - also called communion or the lord's Supper or Mass - as a way of remembering and returning to who God is and what God has done in Christ.

But the Eucharist, as it is with any ritual, is about something far more significant than the ritual itself...

...The church is a living Eucharist, because followers of Christ are living Eucharists.

A Christian is a living Eucharist, allowing her body to be broken and her blood to be poured out for the healing of the world...

...Because in the Eucharist, in Jesus' body and blood, everything has been reconciled to God. Paul calls this the "new humanity."

The Eucharist is about new humanity (page 151-154).

Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States of America this past week. The whole world watched with bated breath as he was inaugurated on January 20, 2009, taking up the mantle of leadership of the most influential country in the world. Newspaper headlines threw around words like "hope," "courage," "future," and "revolutionary" to describe Obama's leadership. Young and old, black and white, rich or poor are all looking to Obama to bring them the change, the hope, that this world needs.

This world needs hope.

It needs change.

It needs peace.

It needs courage.

It needs revolution, equitable resource sharing, economic stimulation and environmental reforms.

While Obama represents a change of the guard in the Oval Office and a change in American values and, yes, can be a part of the solution, he is not THE solution. While the election of a new president brings a breath of hope to the world, he is not THE hope for the world.

The only true hope for the world that I can see is a church - and by this, I mean the universal church, all followers of Jesus together - that lives the way that Rob Bell describes in his book (can I point out that this is a remarkably similar description to the church as described in Scripture? Ironic, isn't it?). A group of people living a different way.

A church that lives to heal,

to bring peace,

to provide for the needs - physical, emotional and spiritual - of others,

to love,

to share hope,

to give,

to bring reconciliation and unity,

to bring freedom where there once was condemnation, and

to be honest in weakness and in strength.

A church that does this together, as one body, poured out and broken so that the whole world can live fully alive in hope and in peace in spite of the grief, sorrow, weaknesses and inefficiencies of this world.

A church that exists for this and like this is a church I want to be a part of...both "C" church - the universal body of believers - and "c" church - my own church family here in Calgary.

As a church leader in a local congregation, this changes how I lead. It changes my expectations of myself and my congregation. It changes the way I program. I want to encourage my community of believers to become that church. I want the times that we come together be times of encouragement and celebration so that we can go out into the world again and live differently. I want our gatherings to be a stop on the journey, not the destination. I want us to be the church, the new humanity, the Eucharist.

Even more importantly, it changes the way that I, as a follower of Jesus, live. I recognize that the only way that I can lead that way is if I live that way. I'm pretty open about the fact that my faith in Jesus is a big part of my life. I find it amusing how people react to that. Often it's with surprise. Some people even comment on how "normal" I am, usually adding that I'm far less judgemental, legalistic and hypocritical than they expect. That's part of the picture but I want to be more. I want to be known for being caring, accepting and generous. I want to be loving. I want to stand up for the one who no one stands up for. I want to be the one who can bring peaceful resolution to conflict. I want to be the one willing to sacrifice for the sake of others' healing. I want to be content and joyful, kind and patient in such a way that others are positively affected by my presence. I want to convey a vision of something bigger and better than this world can ever offer. I want to be someone who gives people a picture of Jesus that is compelling and exciting and attractive, just as it should be.

I'm not there yet. I, however, have hope that the God who can change the world is capable of changing me. I'm looking forward to it.

Current Read

Tales of Beedle the Bard, J.K. Rowling

Thursday, January 22, 2009

National Film Board

In hopes of increasing awareness surrounding the Canadian film industry, the National Film Board announced yesterday that they will have more than 700 films hosted on their website for free viewing.

There will be English and French language films available. Shorts. Award nominees. Award winners. Well known films and hidden treasures. I'm guessing there will also be some crap. But isn't that the way it is with all of life? You take the good with the bad?

It will all be Canadian.

That's the thing I like. It's Canadian. The fact that they're hosting it for free will help raise awareness not only of the fact that there is a Canadian film industry but that there is quality film, quality art, coming out of Canada. There are directors and producers, actors and locations featured in films that have played around the world. But we don't know about them. We can't tell the difference between them and their American counterparts.

Currently there are over 700 titles available on the site. Within the next month or so they want to add another 100. After that, they are hoping to add another 10-20 films each month.

I'm looking forward to checking out what's there.

I'm proud to be Canadian.

Sam Roberts

I went and saw Sam Roberts play at the Jubilee on Monday night. The guy is great - one of my favorites - and I'm pleased to say that he's one of those musicians. You know the kind, the ones who actually sound even better live than in their recordings.

He's a song writer extraordinaire. A talented musician. An entertainer. Humble. Thankful to be doing something he loves (professional athletes take note), to be getting paid for it. A little bit in awe of the fact that people actually show up to listen to his music. Kind of eccentric (seriously, you should hear him interview. He doesn't even use the internet. At all. Take that. But he's a musician. Really, all the good ones are a little bit, um, different). Very well thought out. Yes, Sam Roberts is Canadian rock n' roll and it makes me proud.

Seriously, though. I think one of the things that impresses me about him is his song writing. That is a serious skill. One I wish I had. He has the ability to turn serious, life changing topics into music that speaks without depressing. He tells a story. He makes a point. It's not cotton candy fluff but it's not dark and dreary either.

Can I just point out that song writing is hard? Even nursery rhyme, cheese-ball lyrics are hard to write. Well, maybe they're not that hard but that's sure how I'm feeling lately. Part of it is expressing what you feel deep inside in a way that people can relate to. And then I get a little frustrated that it is, in some way, about other people. Putting it to music isn't all that easy either. The rhythms, patterns and organization of the lyrics must be put together in such a way that it works with the music. They are intrinsically connected. They must be. It's a part of the writing process. It could be that there's so many other seemingly brilliant writers out there to compare my own attempts to. Maybe it's just that I don't feel like I have much to say from my own life but still want to share some sort of commentary on the world around me that I don't really understand. Why? Why are things the way they are? And then I wonder, has it all been done before? Could I really write something new and interesting that could, like any other good art, affect someone else around me in a real and meaningful way?

I've told people 100 times about 100 different things that if they want to get anywhere with something that perhaps they just need to start. Perhaps.

Anyway, back to Sam Roberts. Another thing I love about him is that he surrounds himself with other great musicians. The guy's got a great band behind him. The guy who used to be his lead guitar player is now his keyboard player. He plays tasteful and artistic lines that really add to what everyone else is playing and it's attainable too. With a little practice, I think I could play a lot of what he does. I came away feeling a little bit inspired about the possibilities for my own playing. I like to be inspired.

Yes, Sam Roberts sure taught them kids how to dance the rock n' roll!


There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head but they just don't seem to know how to get out. I want to blog, to write - I feel like I should almost apologize that I haven't - but I'm not quite sure where to begin. Or where to find the time.

I'm working on it.

Current Read

A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon

He's the same guy that wrote "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," a book which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shaking Things Up

by Keri Wyatt Kent

Shaking Things UpSomething shifted tremendously in how people followed God after Jesus walked our planet. Although the roots of the Christian faith are in Judaism, the way that modern Christians keep Sabbath, or don't, looks quite different from the way ancient Jews did. Jesus said he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it. But really, that fulfillment changed a lot about how people lived out their faith.

Even when Jesus walked the earth, people were aware that he was shaking things up. The gospel writers often tell us that people marveled at Jesus' teaching because he spoke with "authority."

Commenting on the rabbinic tradition and this idea of authority, pastor and author Rob Bell writes, "Different rabbis had different sets of rules, which were really different lists of what they forbade and what they permitted. A rabbi's set of rules and lists, which was really that rabbi's interpretation of how to live the Torah, was called that rabbi's yoke. When you followed a certain rabbi, you were following him because you believed that rabbi's set of interpretations were the closest to what God intended through the Scriptures. And when you followed that rabbi, you were taking up that rabbi's yoke."

Bell continues, "Most rabbis taught the yoke of a rabbi who had come before them. … Every once in a while, a rabbi would come along who was teaching a new yoke, a new way of interpreting the Torah. This was rare and extraordinary. … Now imagine if a rabbi who had a new perspective on the Torah was coming to town. This rabbi who was making new interpretations of the Torah was said to have authority. The Hebrew word for 'authority' is shmikah. This might not even happen in your lifetime. You would hike for miles to hear him. A rabbi who taught with shmikah would say things like, 'You have heard it said …, but I tell you …' What he was saying is, 'You have heard people interpret that verse this way, but I tell you that this is what God really means in that verse.'"

So Jesus offered this new yoke, which he claimed is easy. But in a way, it seems harder. He often began with "you've heard it said" and cited the Old Testament law. Then he followed with "but I say to you." For example, he said, "You've heard it said, 'Don't commit adultery.' But I say, 'If you look at a woman with lust, you've already slept with her'" (Matt. 5:27–28, my paraphrase). And, "You've heard it said, 'Don't murder.' But if you call someone a fool or hate them, you've killed them" (Matt. 5:21–22).

His teaching encouraged people to hold to a higher standard than mere legalism but also helped them to realize that keeping the law perfectly is an impossible proposition. Examining ourselves in light of the spirit of the law, rather than the letter, points us to our desperate need for grace. Jesus exhorted his listeners to examine their hearts, their attitudes, as well as their actions. He challenged his listeners to bring outward practice and inner reality into alignment. This again directed his most attentive listeners toward grace, not more careful legalism.

Here's what I've noticed, though. Jesus never used the "you've heard it said, but I say to you" formula to discuss Sabbath. He didn't, for example, say, "You've heard it said, 'Keep the Sabbath holy.' But I say …" And he definitely never said, "You've heard it said, 'Keep the Sabbath on the seventh day,' but I tell you, 'Switch it to the first day.'" Why is that? Did he say it and it somehow just didn't get written down? Was his teaching on Sabbath edited out of the biblical record?

Jesus did criticize the Pharisees for piling rules onto the people, burdening them with lists of what they couldn't do, not just on Sabbath but in regard to all sorts of regulations and man-made traditions. He accused them of valuing their traditions over the law, saying, "You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition," and quoted Isaiah 29:3 to condemn them (see Matt. 15:1–20).

He handed out insults to Pharisees and scribes alike, saying, "You experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them" (Luke 11:46).

While he didn't use his "you've heard it said, but I say" formula to teach about Sabbath, he did find all sorts of teachable moments to instruct his followers, and his critics, about Sabbath. Usually this happened when he defended his choices to heal people, cast out demons, or engage in other questionable activities on the Sabbath. Not surprisingly, he focused on aligning our hearts with our actions.

He did say, "The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath." And he claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath. But what does that mean? Does it set us free only from the ceremonial aspects of the law, or from the law entirely?

The thing Jesus seemed to get in trouble for most was breaking the Sabbath, at least in the eyes of the legalists of his day. They watched him closely, seemingly in hopes he would slip up and break the rules, although he hardly seemed interested in hiding his actions from them. In fact, he tried over and over to teach them about the heart of Sabbath, asking, "Don't you on the Sabbath untie your donkey and let him have a drink, or pull your sheep out of a pit?" to point out that compassion is never against God's rules (see Luke 13:15; Matt. 12:11).

Norman Wirzba writes, "Jesus does not obliterate Sabbath teaching but reframes it so that we can see once again, with renewed emphasis, what creation's ultimate meaning is."

Jesus came to die for us, but also to live for us, to show us how to live. He modeled spiritual practices like solitude, prayer, and compassion. If you are someone's disciple, you try to emulate them, try to live as they would. And Jesus kept Sabbath. Not in the way his culture expected, perhaps. He exercised great freedom. If we are his disciples, we will take on his yoke. We will live in this life-giving rhythm of work and rest. Jesus kept Sabbath in a new way, a way that shook things up. As his disciples, we can keep Sabbath too. And apparently we're free to shake things up as well.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A bit about me

I had to write a bio for work this week. Thought I'd share...

I grew up on a farm outside of a small Alberta town but moved to the ‘big city’ of Calgary when I was 18 to go to school. I felt like the proverbial country mouse then and, honestly, sometimes still do! Perhaps that explains why one of my favorite things to do is get out of the city and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. A few other things I enjoy? Photography, reading a good book, music, movies, deep discussions about life, baking, learning new stuff (about just about anything), swimming, and drinking a good cup of coffee, especially if there’s chocolate to go with it. I’m an Oilers fan in spite of (or maybe because of) living in Calgary. I love summer but NOT winter. I think that pizza should have it’s own food group. I love people. I’m blessed with great friends and family and have been privileged to spend the last 10 years of my life in some form of ministry to youth, children or young adults. I’ve decided that the greatest calling in life is to love God and to love people and I’m learning that my heartbeat is to walk with people as they learn more about who God is and who He intends them to be.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Place to Belong

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to belong. We are social people. Societies are made up of numerous forms of social entities of which we can belong, starting with the family unit. We all want to belong, no matter how young or old. It’s why little boys fight in the playground and little girls have tea parties, why teenagers angle to be in certain peer groups (as if adults are any different) and adults play on sports teams, hang out in pubs, marry, and attend reunions. It’s who we are. It’s how we’re made.

In fact, psychologist Abraham Maslow includes belonging as a complete section of his hierarchy of needs, right after the physical needs (food, shelter, etc.) and safety.

He talks about belonging in terms of friendship, intimacy and having a supportive and communicative family. The need for such belonging is so strong that, in the right circumstances, it can overcome the psychological and safety needs, taking primacy in the lives of individuals.

All that to say that we want to belong. We need to belong.

After being at home for Christmas, a place where I know I belong, I feel like maybe I've got a better handle on it, like I've been reminded what it feels like. To belong. To know that the place you are in and the people you are with are safe. If you belong, you can be yourself. You can say the things that are on your mind and ask the questions you need to ask. You can agree to disagree. You can relax. There is no wondering whether the people that you're with are simply humoring you and your presence but even more so an understanding that you are wanted. There is room for vulnerability and innocence without second-guessing or fear. Shared experiences are exciting, not tentative. There is life in the differences and strength in the similarities. Understanding and grace are a natural part of the equation, as are fun and laughter. That said, the places that one belongs the most are not without their challenges. It is true that the people closest to you are the people that can hurt you the most but they’re also the people that can change you the most, forgive you first and understand your true motives. Those with whom you belong, are the people to which you’d give all of these things and more. It is, as our North American marriage vows promise, for better or for worse.

So if that’s what we long for, how do we find it? How do we make it “last?” How do we create environments for belonging to happen?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

In classic "now that it's 2009, let's look at 2008" style, Time Magazine has posted their top 10 of everything in 2008 lists. Let's see what they rate as the top 10 of everything. Okay, so it's more than one list but still interesting.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.
~Hamilton Wright Mabie

We had such a good time celebrating together that we missed that actual count down and ended up doing our own at 12:02. Now that's the way to bring in the new year! Hope your New Year's celebrations were safe, fun, memorable and filled with the anticipation of all that 2009 holds in store for you and your loved ones!


Now off to bed, I said! See you next year...