Friday, December 30, 2011

As I was puttering through the house, cleaning up the piles that seem to spontaneously multiply on their own (there's a biology term for this, I'm sure, although I suspect it refers to germs or micro organisms), I found a stack of cards from our wedding. Well wishes. Prayers. Poems. Hopes. Each one specially picked for us as people joined in our celebration. As I read each one, I was reminded that relationships truly do happen in community!

Here's a few to share...

Now you will feel no rain, 
for each of you will be the shelter for each other. 
Now you will feel no cold, 
for each of you will be the warmth to the other. 
Now you are two persons
but there is only one life before you. 
Go now to your dwelling, 
to enter into
the days of your life
and may your days be good and long
upon the earth.

~Apache Blessing~

How to Make a Beautiful Life Together: Reflections on Marriage for the Bride and Groom
Let love be your shelter.
The world is noisy and confusing at times,
so make a home that is a haven,
a peaceful place where you can listen to your hearts and savor
the comfortable closeness you share. 

No matter how busy your days may be,
make time for yourselves. 
Hold hands. Unwind. 
Surprise each other. 
Find little chances every day
to show you're grateful to be partners,
to be friends,
to be married. 

Life is not perfect. 
You will make mistakes but  each time you meet life's challenges together,
you will grow wiser, stronger, 
and surer of your love. 

Cherish your yesterdays. 
They are irreplaceable souvenirs
of your journey through life. 
Make memories
that will bring smiles and sighs whenever you look back. 
(Look back often!)

Look forward, too. 
Dream together. Plan together. 
Make promises to keep. 
Believe in your tomorrows,
because tomorrows 
are what forever is made of. 
To make love last,
put each other first.
That is the way to make a beautiful life together, 
the kind of life you both deserve so much. 

"If" for Couples
If you 
treat each other kindly
with compassion 
and with trust
and always let
your tender feelings show,
If you
laugh together often 
and enjoy
the time you share,
but give each other space
to learn and grow,
If you understand
your differences,
respecting who you are,
and put each other first in all you do...
may you always find the very best in life - 
Growing closer
day by day
as husband and wife. 

A friend of mine posted this on her facebook page and I loved I'm stealing it!

"Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined. Comfort kills!"
- T. Harv Eker

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What do you want to be when you grow up?

One of the funniest conversations I’ve had at the pool was with a little boy in one of my coworkers’ Saturday morning preschool classes. I was life guarding and he was teaching. The morning sessions are long and he had to take a quick bathroom break, leaving me to watch his class for a few minutes. Five little ones, 3 and 4 years old. One of the little boys looked up at me and, with no guile or jest, looked up at me and asked me if I knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. Expecting him to say that he wanted to be a fireman or a teacher or even an astronaut, I looked at him and said, “No, I don’t know. What do you want to be when you grow up?” His answer caught me off guard.

“An airplane.”

“An airplane? You mean you want to fly airplanes?”

“No. I want to be an airplane.”

I didn’t know what to say. What would you say to that!?

It might not be the most realistic or possible goal but he’s dreaming big. I wonder if, when he’s settled into a career, he’ll remember his dream – to be an airplane.

I think of all the ways that I answered that questions along the way. I wanted to be a musician for a while. And there was a LONG stage in which I wanted to be a teacher. I would line my dolls up and teach them for hours. We would have all sorts of classes. Later on in life, I thought a lot about working in agricultural aid, combining my love for science, the outdoors and God in practical missions. Never once did I dream about being involved in enrollment, marketing and admissions (my job at the college) or in children’s ministry (my position at Journey Church). Both roles, however, began with a certain excitement. They made sense with my skill set...and in the right context, likely still would. They engaged me deeper into community I was already involved in. They allowed me to build my skills, grow in my knowledge of myself, develop relationships and be challenged. Each however, developed in such a way that my self esteem and confidence were beaten, my belief in my own abilities was shattered and I was left exhausted. How something that started so good could develop into something so damaging not once but twice is hard to say. It’s possible that much of the fault lies in the fact that when I dive into something, I dive in with both feet and all of myself, feeling some innate drive to succeed and prove myself in all things. I am a perfectionist and it drives me – sometimes the biggest strengths can also be the greatest of faults. In discussing this with a friend of mine, she suggested that it’s because I care too much. Everything I pursue, I not only pursue as a task but also a matter of the heart.

Regardless, the end result is the place I find myself in now. I’m working as a life guard and swim instructor. The hourly pay is good but the hours are all over the map and inconsistent at best - the financial implications of that aren't good. The work is less than challenging (one of the patrons told me a while back that he thinks I’m too smart to be a life guard. Not the best commentary on my position). It’s not particularly encouraging or satisfying. The facility that I work at is not one that is healthy. The truth is, I'm bored. This certainly isn’t the job I dreamed of as a child but I try to regularly remind myself that this job has provided me with a sort of “safety net.” I am thankful that God had me in this place so when it was time to leave Journey, I could, knowing that I had an income.

That's the "job" place I find myself in now but the place for my deeper self is one of questioning, doubt and living with a need for change. I'm feeling restless and stuck all at the same time. Now the question “what do I want to be when I grow up?” is one that I ask myself on a regular basis.

I realize there’s two ways that I can go about next steps. The first would be to find a more consistent job that would be a job for “right now.” In a similar situation several years ago, a friend of mine took a job that allowed him to succeed, be built up and encouraged and heal. Now that his confidence has been restored, he has moved into a new job, one that has a world of potential for him and his family but he might not have looked at before. He needed that time to be restored. Colin and I have talked about me potentially needing that place to be restored. The second would be to figure out what’s next and go full speed ahead.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I’ve been cataloging my strengths and interests (with Colin’s help…the truth is, right now he sees much more good in me than I do). The question remains, what do I do with those skills.

On more than one occasion, it has been suggested that I should pursue my photography. To this point, it has simply been a hobby…but maybe…There’s so much I would have to do, in my mind, to make that a reality but maybe…What would it take? Where would I start? Would I be any good? What would separate me from all the other people out there trying to make a go of it? What if?

The truth is that I’m afraid. Like someone coming out of a [few] bad relationships, I’m afraid to put myself out there and step into something new. The motivation to hunt for a new job is slim to none. Truthfully, I would rather curl up on the couch and do nothing and yet that only makes me feel worse. I want to contribute to my family and to society. I want to spend my working hours at something I enjoy and can feel some satisfaction in. I want to feel like I’m in a position that I have something to offer, perhaps something that someone else couldn’t.

I get it too, that my job is not the fullness of who I am. The whole "is not what you do but who you are that defines you." I get it. I also get that there's something about our job that is a part of who we are, for some of us more than others. I'm one of those people that actually enjoys work when it's a good fit.

What do I want to be when I grow up? 

I’m thankful. As I process all of this, Colin is incredibly supportive and patient. He gets that I feel a little bit ‘stuck’ and is willing to give me a gentle nudge from time to time. And he processes and prays with me…what do I want to be when I grow up?

Friday, December 23, 2011

So I think this is brilliant! I have one stocking hook and have been looking for three to match. Not only is finding a match difficult BUT they're not cheap. This is a perfect solution and I have the perfect place for it! Now to go bargain hunting post-Christmas for a second hook and we'll be all set in the Miller house!

Monday, December 19, 2011

This morning I'm off work. Convenient day off since Christmas is only days away and there seems to be a lot to do. I'm making my lists and checking them twice this morning. Usually I'm done the "stuff" of Christmas and living in the season by this point but somehow, for some reason, this Christmas I just can't seem to get there.

So, in the middle of the lists and the piles and the tasks, I'm stopping to take a minute to remember and be thankful for the truth of Christmas. Join me?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eggnog Cream Puffs

After sharing an instragram photo of the egg nog cream puffs on the weekend, I've had several requests for the recipe...and the cream puffs. Since it's easier to share the recipe (cream puffs don't ship that well...sorry), here you go!

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup all purpose flour
4 eggs
eggnog cream (below)
powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat water and butter to rolling boil in 2 1/2 quart saucepan. Stir in flour. Stir vigorously over low heat about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat. Beat in eggs, all at once; continue beating until smooth.

2. Drop dough by scant 1/4 cupfuls (I did about 1/8 cup) about 3 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden. Cool away from draft.

3. Cut tops of puffs; pull out any soft dough. Fill puffs with eggnog cream; replace tops. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Store covered in refrigerator.

Eggnog Cream

1 pkg (4 serving size) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon rum extract
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups whipping (heavy) cream

Beat all ingredients except cream in large bowl with electric mixture on low speed 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth. Add cream. Beat on high speed 1 to 2 minutes or until soft peaks form.

Read with me?

At one point in my life, I made a commitment to myself about my reading habits (only a perfection/control freak would do that, right?!) and, for years, was diligent about keeping to it. It was nothing major. I would simply alternate between fiction and non-fiction. Then things got crazy and I dove into stories. Stories of all kinds. Stories with depth. Stories that I could lose myself in. Somewhere along the way, the non-fiction, "learning, challenge my brain" type books were set aside. I just don't have it in me. 

A couple days ago, I posted that I'm reading "Naked Spirituality." It's my first attempt at non-fiction in a while. I feel like it's going to be a challenge. A good challenge but a challenge none the less.

Here's where you all come in. I need a wee bit of accountability. Some motivation. Will you read with me? If you're up for the challenge, just drop a comment on this post and let me know. I'm going to try to post something - a thought, quote or post - inspired by each chapter to keep me in motion. I'd love to hear your thoughts too!

Will you read with me?

Article: On Modesty

Having worked with children, youth and young adults in church circles for years, this topic has been one that has made me sad for years: using the idea of modesty to steal - or at least overshadow - a women's god-given femininity. I've seen the damage it can do to a girl's self esteem to not handle this with grace and a true rendering of Scripture. Now, with two step-daughters, I feel like this has become even more personal (if it can be more personal than being a woman wanting to follow God's own heart myself!).

This article speaks intelligently on the subject...

How 'Modest Is Hottest' Is Hurting Christian Women

What the phrase communicates about female sexuality and bodies.
I remember the first time I heard the words chirped by an eager female college student as we discussed the topic of modesty. Her enthusiasm was mixed with perk and reprimand, producing a tone that landed somewhere between Emily Post and a cheerleader.
To be honest, my initial reaction to "modest is hottest" was amusement. I thought the rhyme was clever and lighthearted, a harmless way to promote the virtue described in 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3-4. No harm no foul.
Since then, I’ve heard this mantra of the pure proclaimed many times by young women, Christian artists (including, most famously, CCM singer Rebecca St. James), and Christian leaders. In conversations the phrase always elicits chuckles, but my response has changed over time. I still wholly affirm modesty as a biblical practice for men and women, but now I hesitate to embrace the “modest is hottest” banner. Those three words carry a lot of baggage.
The Christian rhetoric of modesty, rather than offering believers an alternative to the sexual objectification of women, often continues the objectification, just in a different form.
As the Christian stance typically goes, women are to cover their bodies as a mark of spiritual integrity. Too much skin is seen as a distraction that garners inappropriate attention, causes our brothers to stumble, and overshadows our character. Consequently, the female body is perceived as both a temptation and a distraction to the Christian community. The female body is beautiful, but in a dangerous way.
This particular approach to modesty is effective because it is rooted in shame, and shame is a powerful motivator. That’s the first red flag. Additionally concerning about this approach is that it perpetuates the objectification of women in a pietistic form. It treats women’s bodies not as glorious reflections of the image of God, but as sources of temptation that must be hidden. It is the other side of the same objectifying coin: one side exploits the female body, while the other side seems to be ashamed of it. Both sides reduce the female body to a sexual object.
Of course, this language isn’t new. Consider how profoundly the female identity has been negatively linked to her body throughout church history. For several decades now, feminist theologians have critiqued the mind-body dualism by which Christians have equated men with the mind and women with the carnal body. Citing Eve as the original “gateway for the Devil,” thinkers such as Tertullian have peppered Christian tradition with hostility toward the wiles of femininity. Origen likened women to animals in their sexual lust. According to author Jane Billinghurst, “Early Christian men who had to greet women during church services by shaking their hands were advised to first wrap their hands in robes so as to shield their flesh against their seductive touch.”
In response to this aspect of the Christian tradition, Rosemary Radford Ruether and other feminist theologians have over the past 50 years rightly challenged the mind-body dualism by which women were thought to be “modeled after the rejected part of the psyche,” and are “shallow, fickle-minded, irrational, carnal-minded, lacking all the true properties of knowing and willing and doing.”
All this negative talk about the female body may have created a vacuum for the “modest is hottest” approach to fill. Perhaps the phrase’s originator hoped to provide a more positive spin on modesty. I sympathize with that. However, “modest is hottest” also perpetuates (and complicates) this objectification of women by equating purity with sexual desire. The word “hot” is fraught with sexual undertones. It continues a tradition in which women are primarily objects of desire, but it does so in an acceptable Christian way.
Making modesty sexy is not the solution we need. Instead, the church needs to overhaul its theology of the female body. Women continue to be associated with their bodies in ways that men are not. And, as a result of this unique association, women’s identities are also uniquely tied to their bodies in a manner that men’s identities are not.
How do we discuss modesty in a manner that celebrates the female body without objectifying women, and still exhorts women to purity? The first solution is to dispense with body-shaming language. Shame is great at behavior modification, even when the shaming is not overt. But shame-based language is not the rhetoric of Jesus. It is the rhetoric of his Enemy.
Second, we must affirm the value of the female body. The value or meaning of a woman’s body is not the reason for modesty. Women’s bodies are not inherently distracting or tempting. On the contrary, women’s bodies glorify God. Dare I say that a woman’s breasts, hips, bottom, and lips all proclaim the glory of the Lord! Each womanly part honors Him. He created the female body, and it is good.
Finally, language about modesty should focus not on hiding the female body but on understanding the body’s created role. Immodesty is not the improper exposure of the body per se, but the improper orientation of the body. Men and women are urged to pursue a modesty by which our glory is minimized and God’s is maximized. The body, the spirit and the mind all have a created role that is inherently God-centered. When we make ourselves central instead of God, we display the height of immodesty.
That is not to say that godly women will not attract godly men with their modesty. They might. But that is not the purpose of modesty. If “modest is hottest” encapsulates the message we communicate to young women about modesty, then we have missed the mark. “Modest is hottest” is foundationally human-centered, whereas biblical modesty is first and foremost centered on God.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Current Read

Naked Spirituality, Brian McLaren

This is a recommendation from a friend of mine after she read my last blog post. Check out some of the chapter titles.

Seems appropriate so here...we...go!

Posting this today has reminded me how long it's been since I've actually done a "current read" post. There's been quite a few over the last little while. In no particular order, I've read: 

Romanov Prophecy, Steve Berry
Emperor's Tomb, Steve Berry
Red Tent, Anita Diamant
Dragon moon, Carole Wilkinson
Knights of the Black and White, Jack Whyte
Standard of Honor, Jack Whyte

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Have you ever had something in life that you do because you know you should, because you know it’s good for you? Something that you want to want to do so you do it anyway? You do it as pure discipline, hoping that you’ll gain an appreciation for it? Perhaps eating your vegetables falls into that category. You eat them hoping that you’ll eventually aquire a taste for them. Or perhaps it’s going to the gym. You go, not because you feel like it, but because you want to feel like it, each time you go building the habit until it is such a part of your life that you can’t imagine not going.

Right now, for me, that thing is going to church. I know it’s important. I know how much it has meant to me in the past. I know all the reasons that I would tell someone else that it’s important but right now I just don’t feel like it.

One - but not the only one- of the reasons that I quit my job as children’s pastor of our church was that, in all of my 'working in a church,' I missed church. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the kids that I worked with. I loved the learning I did through preparing lessons and other teaching. I loved being able to see God at work in the lives of those I was directly involved in. I really enjoyed what I was able to give BUT I missed feeling like I was a part of a church. For months, I would get to the building before anyone else got there, go straight to the kids’ area, set up, hang out with the kids while sharing the message with them for the day and then pack up. I missed most, if not all, of the reasons that I would encourage someone else to go to church and I began to feel empty and alone. When it became clear that there was no respite for that routine, no opportunity for me to be a part of the community I was working for, I knew that I couldn’t continue that pattern and maintain any kind of spiritual health.

So here’s the kicker: since then I haven’t wanted to go to church and for a while I didn’t. I didn’t feel like it. If I’m honest, I also didn’t – and still don’t - feel like doing many of the other things that I know I should and could to foster my relationship with Jesus. It was too much. Too much hurt, too much emptiness, too much exhaustion, too much confusion, too much brokenness, too much failure, too much defeat, too much [felt] need for space and far too many other emotions that I couldn’t even begin to describe or define. It was all too much.

But where do you go when it all feels too much? Well, if you love Jesus (and sometimes if you don’t!) you go to church and so Colin and I began cautiously attending. For me it was something I wanted to want to do. I was hesitant, afraid and non-committal.  Do you remember the old TV show “Cheers,” with the theme song that rang out “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name?” Well, I wanted the complete opposite. I wanted to go and absorb, be encouraged, hear the Word of God preached and, for the first time in a long time just go somewhere to be fed instead of pour out to others.

At first it worked that way. Colin and I have found a place where we feel we could be at home. There’s enough going on that when we’re ready, we feel we could get involved. We feel confident with what we have seen to be the mission and values of the church as they seem to be lived out and supported by the things the people are involved in. We appreciate the senior pastor and the depth to which he preaches the Word – its exciting to see how much he uses the Word in his messages and the amount of study he obviously does to truly teach. He shares the pulpit with his staff and they too seem to share his desire to truly teach and encourage through God’s word.

Lately, though, I’ve been in a dark, ugly funk and it seems like going to church shines a big beacon on my feelings of lament. I’ve described it as feeling like my faith is small but that’s not the truth of it. I don’t doubt that God is real, alive and active but I feel empty and far away and…something. The last several weeks have been very much about going because I want to want to. The last two weeks, however, have been nearly unbearable but have helped me find some words for what’s going on inside my heart and, perhaps, that’s the discipline of it doing it’s work, providing what I needed.

It began two weeks ago with the Chris Tomlin song “Your Grace is Enough,” a song that has been the anthem of many points of my faith over the last couple of years. The chorus shouts out:

            Your grace is enough,
            Your grace is enough,
            Your grace is enough for me. 

I started to sing it out with a gusto I wasn’t feeling but slowly petered out. The inward thoughts didn’t seem to be connecting with the words of my mouth. At first, the prayer was, “Your grace is enough” then became “I want your grace to be enough” and finally, “where is your grace?”

“Where is your grace and what does it look like?”

Each prayer became a little more indignant and little bit angrier than the one before.

What does it look like in my career? What does it look like when the past and the present collide? What does it look like in the day to day? What does it look like in my health? What does it look like in finances and friendships and faith?

Where is your grace?

The next song was like the first in the emotions it dug up. “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. We played it at our wedding, recognizing that God takes messy, ugly things – he steps into the mess – and makes beautiful things. Again, the prayer became a lament: “I know you can do beautiful things so can you? Would you? Please?”

The tears rolled, the emotions crashed and the questions raged but still there were no answers. The week went by with the same funk and more reasons to question.

This past weekend found us in the second week of advent, anticipating the presence of the coming King. The celebration, the smiles of everyone around, the joy, the songs all combined together until I felt claustrophobic, to the point of being physically ill.  The people around me were singing “O come, O Come Emmanuel,” hands raised in praise and thankfulness, and all I could think is “where are you?” The message was about the angel coming to Mary with the incredible pronouncement – you will be the mother of the Song of God – and her willing, grateful, humble acceptance. We talked about responding and about experiencing the presence of Jesus. All I could think is “where are you?” getting angrier and more frustrated and feeling more guilt about my anger.

But in that, I realized something. I’m angry. I’m angry at people and at situations. I’m angry at feeling like I don’t have control over so much. I’m angry that at a time in my life when I should be feeling joy and excitement, I’m feeling such a funk and frustrated that I can’t be better for my new husband (who, by the way, has been incredible through all of my searching and sorting…he’s my good gift and helps me believe, in it all, that God is good).  I’m angry at work. I’m angry at all these happy people (or at least seemingly happy people) standing around me, unaware of the emotions in me and angry that I feel like I’ve lost the happy person. I’m angry that I can’t seem to find joy. I'm angry at all of the reasons I don't feel like I'm enough. I’m angry that in it all, I don’t feel God like I have at so many times. While I know it’s irrational and not in the character of God, I feel like he’s stepped away from me…like he could make some of these things better or at least make the way forward clearer and yet hasn’t.

I’ve chosen this week – perhaps since I’ve finally been able to give words to at least a piece of how I feel – to actually enter into the lament and not be afraid of it. Somehow, even in that place, I choose to believe that God has met me, placing the stories of David on my heart. King David. A man after God’s own heart and writer of some of the most prolific poetry in history was a man who lamented. He, too, was angry with God and prayed some of the same prayers I have in the last couple weeks. “Where are you?” and “Why have you abandoned me?” are prayers that slipped off the lips of this shepherd turned king. It helps to know that the Bible has room for lament and that those “heroes” of the faith allowed the stuff of life to bring them to some dark places. It helps, too, to know that God heard them and met them there, bringing them out the other side in real, tangible ways. Somehow it helps.

I’ve thought about writing bits and pieces of this down for a while, hoping that putting it down in black and white would help me sort out what was going on and give me some freedom from it. I’ve thought about how I would describe how I feel – words like defeated and depleted have come to mind. A more apt description, I think, would be deflated. I feel deflated, like a balloon that was once blown up and full and has taken shape but has had the air let out. Know what that looks like? It doesn’t look like the balloon that was originally taken out of the package, solid and strong and full of promise. It’s soggy and gross, flat and wrinkled and, truthfully, a little sad. As I think about David and his story (and so many others who have hit this kind of spot for any number of reasons), I feel like I can add to the analogy. That original balloon, the one with all the promise and excitement, blows up into something fun. That soggy, deflated balloon? Fill it up and it will look as good as before. It will resume the shape it had before.

So today I still feel the funk and I still feel the tears threatening but at least today I know I’m not alone. I might not feel hopeful but I can choose to be hopeful. I want to want to. There’s discipline in this too, in remembering the stories of David and choosing to believe that perhaps God is not as far away as it feels, that perhaps this deflated balloon can be blown up again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

These look so delicious they make even my sweet tooth ache. I have to try them!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

This and that, here and there...Part 1

I don't even know where to begin. The list of things that's kept me busy, kept me living, and kept me loving is long. That's it. A list! Where to begin with a list? In no particular order...

1. A wedding. My wedding. Better yet, our wedding. On October 15, 2011, I married my best friend. In hindsight, I wouldn't recommend that everyone plan a wedding in three months or less - because it's a TON of work - but I'm so thankful we did it that way for so many reasons. It felt a little bit like I was working two jobs still and Colin and I joked (albeit a little bit tounge in cheek) about how nice it will be now that I'm REALLY only working one job...we may actually see the benefit of some of the changes made earlier this year.  It really was a beautiful day. The weather held and we were able to do our pictures outside with the full palate of fall colors on display all around us. Friends and family from all over came to celebrate with us. Beautiful words were shared on our behalf by some pretty special friends and family and the good work that God has been doing and the amazing nature of His redemptive work was celebrated. Food was good. Laughter was good. Life together was good...and still is. That's the best part. Life together.

I've been asked a lot in the weeks following how married life is. I don't really know how to respond to that. It seems a little too early to tell, really. I feel like I'm still in this surreal phase where every day I do the "wow, I'm someone's wife. I'm your wife" and "really? You're my husband" (in a good way, really). I feel like in so many ways our wedding was a beautiful and natural next step in our relationship. Those statements aren't meant to be contradictory. Quite the opposite actually. In some ways, I think it's because it is so natural and good that it seems so surreal. That said, there are some things that I have noticed and appreciated in the few short weeks.

I love that we live together. So simple and yet not. I love knowing that even on a crazy busy day, we will start and finish together. I know I will see him and get to share at least a little piece of the day. It's one of those joys that makes me thankful that we waited to move in together because it such a gift now.

I love the commitment and the knowing. I love knowing that he chose me forever, that he promised and that he meant it...and I chose him. It takes it to a new level. Sharing in the time honored traditions of the wedding ceremony made who we are as a couple part of something bigger. Hoping together that God is the God of redemption, of love and of every good and perfect gift in such a big way honors who He is and who He is making us. We were honest about our commitment before but somehow standing before our friends and family and declaring it aloud makes it all the more real. To know that those same people will walk with us and hold us accountable to the promises we made is vital.

Writer and theologian Stanley Hauwerwas put it this way: “That the church is a more determinative community than a marriage is evidenced by the fact that it requires Christian marriage vows to be made with the church as witness. This is a reminder that we as a church rightfully will hold you to promises you made when you did not and could not fully comprehend what you were promising. How could anyone know what it means to promise life-long monogamous fidelity? From the church’s perspective the question is not whether you know what you are promising; rather, the question is whether you are the kind of person who can be held to a promise you made when you did not know what you were promising. We believe, of course, that baptism creates the condition that makes possible the presumption that we might just be such a people.”

I love hoping together. The statistics on marriage longevity in North America are not exactly inspiring. Combine that with the amount of heart break and brokenness we have witnessed personally and I would be a liar to say that there was not a little bit of "how do we know it will be different for us" fear that niggles it's way in from time to time AND YET we hope. We believe. We enter into this sacred vow praying that we will be forever, that God will give us the strength to constantly draw together instead of apart, and that we will be the kind of people who will keep the promises we made no matter what life brings. 

I love that we are still us. We work. We play. We do things together and apart. Colin still plays hockey and I still knit. That's our Tuesday night. We have friends to hang out with and chores to do. Together and individually we are us.

I love that we are still learning...and there's lots of learning to do. Is it silly that I love that I don't know everything about my husband? I love learning about foods he enjoys and TV shows he doesn't. I love watching him respond to new situations and seeing what that looks like. Living together opens whole new doors of learning and it's fun.

I love figuring out our roles and how we share life together. For those that know me well, or perhaps even those that don't, I am stubbornly independent and fairly used to doing it "all" myself. If I don't know how to do something, I'll figure it out. If there aren't enough hours in the day, I'll just make them up and keep going until I get everything done. Work two jobs? No problem (okay, problem but who's going to admit it!?). In many ways, Colin has had to be much the same. It is a huge gift (and, admittedly, a challenge...perhaps you could even say a shock to the system but I'll choose to say adjustment) to be able to share. We can divide and conquer. Certain things get done and it's NOT because I did them. We can serve each other in these big and small ways. While I know we have a lot of learning to go on this one and I recognize that it will likely change with the seasons of our lives, I am thankful to be able to count on Colin, to trust him and to rest in his strength.

So, for all those who are wondering how married life is, in short, it's good. After 3 1/2 weeks, it's great.

2. Honeymooning.

We were entirely blessed to be able to take two whole uninterrupted weeks away together in Cancun immediately after our wedding.

I am thankful for two weeks. We had time to deal with crappy weather - read hurricane heading our way but downgraded to tropical storm hours before it hit, exhaustion and getting sick and still have a fantastic time.

I am thankful for uninterrupted. We have not had that opportunity before in our relationship. It was awesome.

I am thankful for Cancun. SO beautiful. SO much to see and do. We could go back and still find stuff we didn't have time to do.

I am thankful for immediately after. I know people who have waited months [or years] following their wedding to take their honeymoon. It was a gift to do it right away. We needed it!

I am thankful for my honey.

 Look at how blue the water is! Love the beaches. Love the kisses on the beaches. 

 The most unreal skies. The clouds were incredible, likely thanks to the "tropical storm."


 And that's why I married him! 

 The ruins of Tulum. 

 Swimming with the fishes.

 Biggest, coolest shells became art...home for our rings. 


 Incredible caves, incredible memories. 

Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders of the world. Well worth the drive.

 The sunsets were outstanding! 

And there's more, plenty more, to put on the list of what's been keeping me busy. We'll call this part one. Maybe tomorrow I'll share some more but, for now, it's time for me to go to bed! 

I think this recipe sounds DELISH! Now to find an excuse to try it!

Okay, so this one doesn't sound so bad either. And I could probably be convinced to give this one a try.

Now I'm hungry. Bed time snack it is.
There will come a day in the not so distant future in which I will write about church and about longing for church and about how not being a part of any particular church has [again] grown my thoughts and beliefs about church. In the meantime, this post about women's ministry resonated deeply with me. I love the line about wanting a bible study that doesn't have flowers on the front cover. Oh, and the one about being honest and authentic. Oh, and the line about wanting to move past the emotional, past the surface and into the deep. Wouldn't it be lovely?

I love this post from Emerging Mommy, a letter to women's ministry. It sounds familiar, echoing some of the sentiments in my heart when I wrote this post I wrote a while back although admittedly a little more eloquently spoken and well thought out.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May today there be peace within.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and 
allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of you.
~ St. Teresa of Avila

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I miss writing. I have so many crazy thoughts running through my head that I need to sort out and spit out and yet there just doesn't seem to be any time. What with planning a wedding, working, trying to work out and stuff around the house (basement building and the day to day) there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day...but I will be back...soon...I need to be...soon.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Laughter is the best medicine

I've written a few times now of the changes that are shaping my life right now. Add that to the normal stressers of life and, admittedly, life feels somewhat over full. Not the "I've eaten well and am breathing a satisfied sigh of contentment" (although there are definite moments of that) but the "I'm handling all that I can, my hands are full, please don't ask me to juggle any more kind of full." I've been making a conscious effort to find fun, to stop, to laugh because in those things, in the good things, there is renewal and strength to handle the fullness of life. It made me smile to read this in my morning's reading today:

From Sacred Voices: Essential Women's Wisdom Through the Ages

"A Time to Laugh"
1. Laugh when people tell a joke. Otherwise you might make them feel bad.
2. Laugh when you look into a mirror. Otherwise you might feel bad.
3. Laugh when you make a mistake. If you don't, you're liable to forget how ultimately unimportant the whole thing really is, whatever it is.
4. Laugh with small children… They laugh at mashed bananas on their faces, mud in their hair, a dog nuzzling their ears, the sight of their bottoms as bare as silk. It renews your perspective. Clearly nothing is as bad as it could be.
5. Laugh at situations that are out of your control. When the best man comes to the altar without the wedding ring, laugh. When the dog jumps through the window screen at the dinner guests on your doorstep, sit down and laugh a while.
6. When you find yourself in public in mismatched shoes, laugh -- as loudly as you can. Why collapse in mortal agony? There's nothing you can do to change things right now. Besides, it is funny. Ask me; I've done it.
7. Laugh at anything pompous. At anything that needs to puff its way through life in robes and titles… Will Rogers laughed at all the public institutions of life. For instance, "You can't say civilization isn't advancing," he wrote. "In every war they kill you in a new way."
8. Finally, laugh when all your carefully laid plans get changed; when the plane is late and the restaurant is closed and the last day's screening of the movie of the year was yesterday. You're free now to do something else, to be spontaneous… to take a piece of life and treat it with outrageous abandon.

-- Sister Joan Chittister, originally published in her book, There is a Season

Now to put them into practice. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New Beginnings...

Welcome baby Zoe Noelle Baker. Glad you're here safe and sound, wee one. We look forward to getting to know you and to watching you grow into a beautiful woman of God's grace!

Congrats to my cousin, Crystal, and her husband, Scott. As was shared at the wedding, may this day be the day you look back on and say it was the day you loved each other the least.
This one is added simply because it was too hard to resist! The bride and groom are blessed with this little monkey, their son, Brayden. What a ham!

In all my looking forward and in all my worrying, it's remembering this that gives me a sigh of relief and a moment's peace:

We can, each of us, only call the present time our own…
Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us
from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow.
It is as if [God] were to say to say: “[It is I] who gives you this day [and]
will also give you what you need for this day.
[It is I] who makes the sun to rise.
[It is I] who scatters the darkness of night and
reveals to you the rays of the sun.
~ Gregory of Nyssa, on the Lord’s Prayer

He said, She said

A while back I posted about some of the change in my life. The truth is, that change abounds. Change in my job, in church, in community, in my home and in my heart.

In my last post, I shared about the change in my job, leaving my position at the church. I knew that would bring about other changes but I don't know if, at the time, I realized the full extent of what that would mean. For many reasons, it means that it is time to find a new church community to call home...enter "church shopping" season, otherwise known as "church hopping" or, even better yet, "enjoying the summer." On the positive side of things, I realize I have been completely spoiled over the years with preachers/teachers who speak the word of God with passion and truth in a way that digs deep into my heart and leads me into deeper relationship with the creator of the universe. I have been privileged to worship in song with worship leaders who understand that their leadership is not about the show or about the performance but about leading people towards the Father and allowing the community to join together in a chorus of unburdened, unhindered voices. There have been times where the people I worshiped with have felt like family and I've had a glimpse into what it must have been like for the church of Acts as they lived together in unity. These things are good to remember and I hold them dear.

The tough side of things is moving forward into a new church home. The consumer in me has certain things that I'm looking for. The part of me that sees the good of what has been wants to find that again. The "human" in me needs the accountability of being known and of being missed. It's far too easy to take a day off, to stay in bed, to go to the beach, to cut the grass, to enjoy coffee and a good book, to have brunch, to ride bikes and to simply just be. The side of me that is hurting - and perhaps a bit cynical - wants to stay away and not risk it at all. But I love the church. I believe in the power of being a part of a community of faith. If I'm being honest, I long for it and know that I need it. I know, deep in my spirit, that I am a healthier person when I give and receive in a community of faith and, right now, I know that I need that in a significant way. I would love to say that I'm hungry but I feel as though it's gone past that point...I want to be hungry. I know I should be hungry and yet it feels like so long since I've heard the whisper of His voice or felt the sweet touch of His spirit. I feel long past hungry. I have no real comparison to starvation and yet I wonder if this is what it's like, to eventually get to a point where the pangs of hunger no longer really dig in, knowing you need food but not really feeling the desire for it. And so there is a change in me and in my heart, a change in community to come as I look forward to finding a home.

Change in community has meant change in relationship. The freedom from the mantle of "pastor" has, in some ways, brought freedom to some relationships and I've found that they have become truer and deeper. Not that I felt dishonest before but I've found a freedom to be even more me. Scary, I know! Other relationships have felt the strain of distance and natural separation. When a weekly meeting is not scheduled, relationships change.

Through it all, one relationship has been a gift. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you've followed me through a journey of being a single woman in the midst of a married world, figuring out what it means to follow Jesus as a single woman in the church (and the world) and struggling with wanting to share my life with someone, to have someone to partner with. God, it seems, heard me in that too and has proven faithful in this area as well.

I've heard it said often (and most of the time to my frustration) that it is when you least expect it, when you quit looking, when you're "satisfied being single" (whatever that really means), that it is then that you find that special someone. As much as I've always hated those sentiments, they have proven true for me.

I have found my special someone.

Colin and I have been going to the same church together for years, since Journey began. From a distance, we have been in community together and observed the struggles and joys of each other's lives. In more recent years, Colin has served as one of my children's ministry volunteers, again, giving us the opportunity to see each other in action. This was no chase. It was without expectation. It was community. It was serving. It was being. And it was good.

But it got better.

There came a point when interest was sparked and we were intrigued. Time was spent in closer community as we both, without the knowledge of the other, wondered if this could be for real. It felt complicated and messy and surprising and right and, eventually, came to the point where one of us had to say something or explode. He caved first and I'm thankful that he had the courage to take a risk and share with me what was on his heart. I'm even more thankful that he has continued ever since.

He makes me laugh without reservation and holds me when I cry. He is the dad to two beautiful girls and I love what his being a dad shows me about him and his character. I love the way he loves his girls. He loves Jesus and wants to follow him, even when it's hard and when the way to do that doesn't seem clear. He stands up for what is right and has values that actually mean something to him. Chivalry is not dead with him and I am thankful that his dad taught him to open doors, to lift heavy things and to treat women with respect (not kid gloves but real respect).  He loves to mountain bike. The kind of downhill biking that requires armor and airtime. I love that it turns him into a little kid and that he pursues what he loves with passion and exuberance. I love too, that he works hard and plays hard. I have much to learn from him. He encourages me, supports me and believes in me and is willing to be open and vulnerable enough with me to allow me to do the same for him. He has lived through much, much that I wish I could take away, and I see how it has shaped the way he looks at the world and I am proud of him. We watch the same type of movies and TV shows, taking time to curl up and enjoy them together. He's a child of the 80's, loves "hair nation" on satellite and doesn't mind that I tease him about it. He knows the value of a good cup of coffee and knows the truth - Starbucks IS better than Tim Horton's (there really is no question, is there?!). He is a true friend and as loyal as the day is long. His circle of friends isn't huge but the ones that are there are dear, loved deep and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that he would do anything for them and they for him. He is active and thinks about the ways to be a good steward of the body God has given him - and it shows (that's right, I think he's hot) - and helps me to do the same when I don't feel motivated. We can motivate each other in this and in so many other things. He listens to me rant and rants back. He's okay to just "be" and I love that I am okay to just "be" with him. With him it feels like home. He knows I'm feisty and doesn't see that as a weakness. He dreams about the future with me and together we share hopes, dreams and crazy schemes.

I feel as though God has shown me again the truth of His word. In James 1:17, it says that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

He chooses me and I choose him and in that I know I have a gift.

On July 17, he said that he would choose me forever and asked me to do the same. On a bridge in the mountains on a mountain biking trail, this girl made a choice. She said yes.

 And so life continues to change for me. On October 15, 2011, we will say our "I do's" and begin a new chapter in our life together. There will be a new last name, new family dynamics to explore, new living arrangements (we're doing major construction in the basement of my place so we can all live here. All trades people are welcome!), and new roles to figure out.

And so, you see, there is much new, much change in my life.  A dear friend of mine noted that there is really nothing left to change in my life. Some days that's intimidating - counselor friends are likely watching me for signs of anxiety and, on certain days, would most definitely find them. I am overwhelmed by the mixed emotions of it all a lot of the time. I am processing much as each stage of  change teaches me more about myself and the world around me, requiring much. Admittedly, it seems easier when I compartmentalize and focus on one aspect at a time and yet, with so much at once, it seems impossible to separate one piece from another.

This is me, it is us, and, when all is said and done, it is good. I am required to trust in ways that I have not had to trust in a long time, if ever. I am forced to admit that I am not in control. Ug. I am constantly aware of new levels of vulnerability in me and it is both frightening and freeing all at once. I try to remind myself, on the days where it feels like there is SO much to do, that God's timing is perfect and that He doesn't give us more than we can handle by His strength. Most of all, I anticipate. I look forward to what is to come and to experiencing the fullness of what God has in store for us as we follow Him.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm a thinker. Some might say I'm an over thinker but they'd be wrong. Of course. I evaluate. I weigh out the options, the pros and cons, and make decisions based on the information. I wish I could say that I was always spontaneous but the truth is that that's not the way I was made. Sometimes but not always. It's true, too, that sometimes, even after doing the heavy lifting of decision making in advance, I still have a bit of "buyer's remorse," even if I'm not buying anything. "Did I do the right thing?" "But what about...?" "What if...?" Sometimes but not always.

And then life changes. For some reason, when I make changes in my life (or maybe one could say when change enters my life!), I make them in bundles. A couple of years ago, I managed to change jobs - a change that sent a major tremor through my life, change churches, moved and found a new roommate. It was almost as if one change became the earthquake, followed by a number of little after shocks. I'm still not sure which one was the actual catalyst, the original quake. The decisions were difficult but not impossible and, in the end, the spot that I arrived in was far better than the place I began in. It seems as though there are seasons of change.

I've been thinking a bit about the biblical nature of that lately. Moving away from something does not make it any less. Solomon talks about there being a time for everything:

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die, 
a time to plan and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gathr them, 
a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 
a time to search and a time to give up, 
a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
a time to tear and a time to mend, 
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, 
a time for war and a time for peace. 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything, a time for change.

It seems as though I'm entering into one of those seasons again and this time there's no buyer's remorse. I've thought it through and it sits well in my heart. While the process was not peaceful, I am at peace.

Several years ago - close to six years, I think - I became the part of a church plant. The vision and passion of the planting team, and therefore of the church, resonated deeply with what I felt God speaking into my heart about church and ministry and being kingdom people and so I made that my home. Fast forward a bit. The children's minister was having a baby. It was exciting and we celebrated together. Someone needed to cover her mat leave. After much wrestling, I applied for the job and was hired. It was good. I knew the remaining staff and felt like I fit in well. We worked as a team. We prayed together and thought about the things of His Kingdom together, looking for ways we could be a part of His kingdom work.

There was something about it that was healing. For someone who had almost decided to not enter into ministry again (ever) to be back in an environment where contributions were accepted and expected, team work was the norm and ministry was fun was a gift.

And then things changed. A crisis, a scandal, hit with the magnitude of something known only by the likes of Jerry Springer and the people he hangs out with. I'm not exaggerating. Our little staff team was descimated, hearts were broken and the suggestion was made by those on the outside that we should shut the doors. We didn't. Perhaps we should of but it seemed so unimaginable.

But we survivied. Some would even say that in the time following, we thrived. We worked together. We trusted God and sought his leading. We leaned on each other when we cried and when we laughed, oh did we laugh.

And yet, to me, it seems like somehow that changed. too. Perhaps it was as the intense pain of crisis eased, we didn't need to lean on God or each other in the same way. Perhaps the sin of what had been had infected too deeply. Perhaps we're just all selfish and wrong.  Perhaps it's just change...but change it indeed is.

Over the last several years, people have left, community has changed, money has been an issue, vision has changed, ministry philosophy has morphed and my place, my role, has been dismembered. The people are still wonderful. They are family. They are love. But the organization of it, the structure surrounding them, has changed.

And so I began to evaluate. Is this the place for me? Can I be free to be me in this role, this leadership context? Am I being a good steward of the gifts that God has given me if I continue? Can I be an agent of positive change in this environment? Do I belong? Am I helping? Is this healthy for me?

Hard questions. Painful questions brought on by a painful situation and made more difficult by my deep level of investment and relationship.

Change often comes from those difficult questions. I have just recently resigned from my position on staff at Journey Church. I can't begin to describe how difficult the final decision became or the process that brought me there. All I can say is that I'm at I feel a freedom and a hope that I have not felt for a long time.

There, I said it. I left the church and I feel hopeful.

I know the cynics out there would say that it's about time, that it's another example of "the church" failing but I don't see it that way. I see it as a time of seasons, as a time for everything. There was a time when being a part of Journey and serving His kingdom in this way with this group of people was very good. This time, this season of my life, is for something else and I'm finally starting to look forward to it. Even that's taken time but I believe God is a god who knows that and uses that time for good things if we choose to let him.

I still love the people there and pray that God will continue to grow them into people after His own heart, using them to fulfill His purposes and plan here on earth. I pray that they will love God and others deeply and with abandon, that the light of Jesus will radiate from them. I am thankful for moments along the way to catch up with them in different occasions and pray that the relationships forged through the many experiences we've all shared can continue.

But I feel hopeful.

Truthfully, I also feel a little bit of anticipation. Have you ever known a storm was coming? A glorious, powerful, majestic thunderstorm? You could somehow feel it on the air and somehow, you just knew that it was coming? That's a little bit how I feel.  I'm curious to find what else is in store. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I was just talking to a friend over the weekend about how much I want to experiment with different types of homemade popsicles this summer - so many good flavors made of so many good things! Today, I found these molds. How fun are they!? Now to actually find them in store to purchase!

Then, while I'm at it, does anyone out there have any family favorite recipes for delicious Popsicles or the like that they'd be willing to share!?

Monday, June 13, 2011

My kind of this post...minus all the Bruin talk.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Coffee, coffee, coffee...

For all my barista friends out there (and anyone else who's ever worked customer service). How many times have you wanted to say or do something like this!?

Weekend Wanderings

This is shaping up to be a full weekend. Colin and I started it off early with a trip to one of my favorite Calgary events, the Calgary Herald Book Sale. It runs this weekend and next and always proves to be full of fun (and cheap) finds. Yes, this is one of the reasons that we know I'm a bit of a nerd.

Here's a few of my treasures. I made a list this year and tried to stick to it although couldn't resist diverging from it a bit when I found the first of the James Owen Geographica series (If you've been bothering to pay attention to what I've been reading at all, you've seen a few of them jump in there. This is the only one I didn't have and it's in perfect condition! Yay!).

If you'll indulge me for a sappy moment, I'm going to share with you my biggest treasure of the day...finding Colin proved to be a GREAT book hunting partner. I'll be honest, it helped that he had some definite titles in mind and we walked away satisfied and successful where that was concerned too. Oh, and he's cute too. Check out the fun:

Did I mention that the enjoyment factor was heightened by the fact that we pretty much read from the same genres: fantasty and crime/thriller?

There may be another trip in the plans for us. We'll see. If you want to check it out, it's at the Crossroads Farmer's Market in Ogden and runs all this weekend and all next weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I'm not sure the hours but I think it opens at 10.

Tomorrow, my friend, Jesse, is getting married and I'm going to be a part of her wedding party. She's super excited - as she should be - and I'm thankful that God has blessed her with a man to match her so well. I had the privilege of taking their engagement photos. Here's a sneak peak at the happy couple...

I'm sure, in and around all that, there will be coffees to sip, bike rides to roll along with, hockey games to watch (I know it's wrapped up in your world but in pvr land, it has yet to happen...shhh...don't ruin the surprise!), bbq's to sizzle, photos to take and fun to be had....all with three of my favorite people!

What are you up to this weekend?

Current Read

The Gilded Chain, Dave Duncan

This is the first of a trilogy recommended by a friend of mine. Duncan is supposed to be one of the father's of fantasy fiction. So far so good.

Monday, June 06, 2011

I really enjoy this blogger. Her name is Sarah and she's honest. She talks about life as a woman, wife, mother, questioner, church member and follower of Jesus in a way that resonates with me. She's hopeful and real, authentic and true to life. She doesn't sugar coat things and I like that. The post I read today is about parenting, particularly about the discipline (or practice) of choosing the words we use with our kids and with ourselves. It's something I've thought about a lot: the words I choose to use in conversation, about others and about myself.  Words are important. They have the power to build up and destroy. When aligned with our actions, they can accomplish much. I think about the things that have been spoken into my life and what I want to speak into the lives of others. I think about the little people in my care and am even more aware of the influence and affect of the words I choose to direct their way and use in their presence. I am humbled to think about the potential and the responsibility I have in that and want to steward it well.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Final picks

It's come down to this. One final best of seven series will decide once and for all who the best of the NHL is for the 2010-2011 season. Here it goes: Boston vs. Vancouver.

Admittedly, I have a little bit of a bias here. Colin is a BIG Vancouver fan and has been hoping his team would be here, well, for 40 years, but especially since the beginning of the season. They've always been my "second" favorite team so, with Edmonton not playing, it's been a natural for me to cheer the Nucks along the way. That said, let's talk get down to the nitty gritty of this series.

That's what it will be: gritty. Both of these teams like to play the body and they have the size to put their money where their mouth is (has anyone seen how huge Chara is!?). Considering that's the way that both teams play, it's surprising to see that their line ups are relatively healthy for this point in the season. Boston is dressing everyone, by the looks of things, and Vancouver, while short a few defensemen, isn't too far behind...far better than the carnage these wrecking ball teams have left in their wake as they trudged towards Lord Stanley's cup.

If history counts for anything, Boston won the only game the two teams played against each other this season. In fact, they've won the majority of the games these teams have played against each other in the last several seasons. We'll see if that matters.

Both teams are Cup-hungry. Boston has not seen the cup in years. Many, many long years. The Nucks have never won the cup.

Both teams have great goalies with nearly identical goals against and save percentages for the playoffs. Both have proved to be able to be game changers and have had opportunity to carry their teams. That said, Luongo is coming off of an outstanding game 5 performance, facing a whopping 56 shots in double OT, to defeat the sharks where Thomas seemed a little bit shaky as the Bruins battled to finish off Tampa.

Let's talk d-men. Chara is a beast and has earned his place in the finals. The rest of Boston's defensive core are no slouches either. That said, with guys like Bieksa working to earn their multi-dollar sign salaries with flare, it could be said that Vancouver's defense is by far the deepest in the league. They can expect production from every guy and have given at least nine players play-off ice time. Good thing considering the few injuries plaguing the Nucks are behind the blue line.

Now let's check out front. Stats from the forwards are nothing to frown at for either team but, again, I like the depth of Vancouver. Henrik, Daniel and Kesler compared to Horton and Lucic. Comparing fourth lines for the two teams is, in my mind, a little like comparing apples and oranges. It will be especially exciting to see what happens to the energy on the ice if, as anticipated, Manny Malhotra does, in fact, find his way to the ice for the playoffs.

The big difference between these two teams though is special teams. Like I've said about Boston before, they're just missing something when it comes to special teams - power play stats and penalty kill are lacking. That has the potential to be deadly playing against Vancouver, who's power play had it's way with Nashville and the Sharks. This will be especially important if Vancouver manages to keep their guys out of the box and off the ice, giving the Sedins a chance to play and utilize the team's strength as a 5 on 5 team.

So here goes nothing: Vancouver in 6 for the Cup.