Thursday, April 28, 2011

Current Read

The Dragon's Apprentice, James A. Owen

And a few that I just finished:
The Shadow Dragons, James A. Owen
Leading On Empty, Wayne Cordeiro
Real Life Discipleship: Building Churches that Make Disciples, Jim Putman (a work in progress)
For someone who really isn't caught up in this whole royal wedding thing, I'm sure finding lots to enjoy in it all. Like this blog post. It made me chuckle.

Round 2

Okay, so I was feeling pretty good about myself until the end of the last two series last night. I was shooting for 100% (on teams at least) until that. Then, an over time win and a bad game later and I've missed on two. Ah well, on to the next series.

Vancouver (1) vs Nashville (5)
Well that was fun, now wasn't it!? I've never seen a team's fans turn on a team as fast as the majority of Vancouver fans did. Or news broadcasters. Ridiculous. I was thankful, that, Chicago - have I mentioned that I really hate that team - got to eat their cocky words and did "expose them [Vancouver] for the team they really are." Yes, there's a reason they're holding the President's Trophy and game 6 and 7 certainly showed it. That was fun hockey. Oh, and what about those those Predators? Who is that goal tender and where'd he come from?! It's fun to see a team that hungry - first time ever to go beyond the first round - and a coach that simple. "We're happy and relieved to make it to the second round," he says. Yes, I'm sure you are.

So what will we see? A team that's realized that they really do want this and a team that's surprised to find they have a chance. Vancouver in 6.

Detroit (5) vs San Jose (3)
If the long break between series following their sweep of Phoenix didn't put Detroit to sleep, I think this one will be a dull round. Detroit's got everyone back off injury - or at least that's the expectation -  and San Jose is a little more beaten up after their series.  San Jose definitely is a better team than Phoenix and has a lot more to energize them - from drive to fire power - I'm just not feeling it. Still, we're going to see it go long. Detroit in 7.

Tampa Bay (5) vs Washington (1)
Okay, so what if Roloson looks a lot like the Roloson that took Edmonton on their run in 2004? You know, the goalie that, when he's on, like he is right now, you start to wonder where on earth he's hiding all those lucky horse shoes. Seriously, maybe I'm selling the rest of the team a little short but he's what they've got going right now. They got some production from some of the young kids on their 3rd and 4th lines that is exciting and will go a long way to battling hard and making this fun. I still don't think it's enough. Washington looked calm, cool and collected, getting better every game. They got what they needed from the guys that were supposed to produce, guys living up to their potential. Everything they did well in the regular season has continued into the post season. I like the defensively minded system they're working. It works. Washington in 6.

Boston (3) vs Philly (2)
Okay, well this one's going to be fun, now, isn't it!? Both teams coming out of their series fairly battle worn but buoyed by their advance. Tim Thomas playing fantastic for Boston and Chara being, well, Chara. Oh ya, then there's Horton. He'll be alright. Here's the thing, their power play STINKS. Literally, stinks. In Philly's favor is the fact that they are seeing production out of a bunch of their players. I guess they have to with guys like Pronger not playing to potential, primarily due to injury. Downside to that is it comes with no real "go to" goalie. Maybe I'm wrong but eventually they've got to decide who they're going to run with between the pipes. Special teams could be interesting here too. Their power play was not great in the last series, not terrible, but not great. I guess when you're playing a team who couldn't score on the power play, that's probably not their biggest concern though, is it? And then there's last year and the question of history repeating itself. Ask Chicago how that went for them. All that to say, I'm going with Boston in 7.

A few other things to note from the last round:

Bitter flames fans and the way they are "enjoying" the playoffs bother me. I've been told if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Good advice. Sportsmanship can apply to fans too.

All of this about Winnipeg getting a team has been funny. Seriously, as much as I'm Canadian through and through and grew to love the game watching Edmonton beat the Jets, I can't see moving any team there being a stellar economic venture for any investor. That said, I think it would be funny to know that Byfuglien is living in Winnipeg (no offense to those who enjoy living in Winnipeg). If a team DOES go to Winnipeg, they have to be called the Jets. Anything else would just be silly.

Hats of to Chicago's Crawford. I know, I know. I hate Chicago but man, that kid was good.

I've decided this whole suspension/penalty/going to the dressing room for 15 after a head shot thing is getting more and more confusing and inconsistent all the time.

Okay, enough of that. Off to round 2.
With all the media hoopla (yes, I said 'hoopla') over Kate and Will's wedding tomorrow, not to mention summer (read: wedding season) approaching, this blog post on marriage seems both timely and appropriate.

Note: I will not be watching Kate and Will's wedding tomorrow from 'across the pond' nor will I be attending any celebrations for the happy couple. When invited to one such party a couple of weeks ago, my confused response was "Who are Kate and Will?" as I panicked that I was forgetting someone close to me celebrating the joy and beauty of marriage in their lives. Nope. Phew.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It's good to remember in ministry, especially children's ministry where it takes and army and nothing seems to go right...ever...Sunday will happen.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today I miss the church.

I believe in the church. I know that it's full of people that just don't have it all together (because not even the best of us do) but I believe there's a reason that God laid things out for us to meet together, to learn together, to worship together and to generally do life together. He planned the church, the assembly, the gathering of His people. I believe that when God's people gather and do His kingdom work, there is hope there. He has invited us to join together with Him on His mission to do good things, beautiful things, redeeming things in this world. I dream about the things that could be accomplished on this earth if we, the church, lived to our full potential and I long for the day when the Church could truly be a picture of Jesus here on earth. Even in our imperfection as an "organization," I don't believe that it's possible to fully live and experience the Christian life apart from some form of church community.

That said, I don't remember the last time I went to church. Don't get me wrong, I work at a church. I spend all week thinking about the "doing" of church. I am at a church every week but I don't remember the last time I actually "went" to church and I miss it. I feel hungry for corporate times of worship with my peers. I long for teaching and conversation that stirs the soul and reminds me of something bigger (and better!) than myself. I want to belong and truly be a part of something. I want to encourage and be encouraged. I want to listen to and share in the prayers of His people. I hope to grow and become more like Jesus and more like the me He has created me to be. It's important to care and be cared for. And I don't just mean on Sunday.

I wonder if there's others out there that work in churches that feel the same way. I'll be the first to say that there is something very rewarding about working with kids like I do, about leading them and teaching them in the ways of Jesus. It is a privilege and a gift. They look at God's word and work in the world in such refreshing ways. I guess that's why Scripture talks about the importance of coming to Him like a little child. I don't think it's just about the humility of a child but also the awe, the wonder and the perspective they have when they approach the throne of grace. There's good stuff that happens in me as I lead them. I know it. I believe it. And yet, it's still not going to church most weeks. It's going to work. Kids need leaders and leaders need "stuff." Most of that "stuff" comes from me so that they can do their thing. I'm watching the clock to ensure that I make good use of my time and get all parts of the lesson in. I'm "on," a performer presenting truth. Set up, make sure everything goes smoothly and then pack it all up again. By the time that's all done, most people are gone to go about their week. If conversation does happen with a grown up somewhere during the week, it's usually about the kids, the programs, about resources for them as they lead their kids and about the things they need to learn and grow. I ensure that all of my leaders are on a good rotation that allows for them regular times of worship with the larger body but that has not been an option for me and may not be for a long time so what do I do?

How do I stay full enough and whole enough to continue to give them the things they need? I feel like that's the paradox of ministry. I go to church but don't really go to church, not in the way that was intended. I feed (I hope) but am not really fed. I lead but am not led. I provide an environment for people to be encouraged and spurred on, sent into another week, Lord willing, while I walk away exhausted and wondering how to put one foot in front of the other. Again, I ask, what do I do to ensure that I have something to give?

I know there's no easy answers. I cringe when I hear someone talking about "practicing good self care" because I feel like that's so much easier said that done. As if by saying it some magic light bulb will come on and everything will be made right. "Oh yes, I didn't realize that's what I was supposed to be doing. Thank you for your wisdom." In so many ways, I know myself and what fills me up but am not sure how to make that happen in the current context. Intentions are good. Practicality is harder. I was told recently that I should go to a different church at a different time to be fed but to me that seems silly. Perhaps I'm looking at it wrong but first and foremost, I think of the time factor. In an already busy schedule, I see more scheduled time. Then I think of all the things I believe church should be and most, if not all, center around being a part of community, not around consuming, even though I know there's a part of me that may simply need to consume. To truly be a part of a church, I want to know and be known, not slip into the back row with a bunch of strangers.

I've tried increasing my dose of music and online teaching but again, that's about consuming and, from the comfort of my own living room, still seems to be lacking in something. Community perhaps? Reading His Word, prayer and times with Him are critical, vital and life giving (Have I stressed the importance of this enough?) but again, not solely in isolation.

There you have it. There are no easy answers on my mind tonight, only a lot of questions and heart that is heavy. Today I miss the church.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Round 1 Picks

Hockey plays an important role in my house. Hockey night in Canada means something. Okay, it means chips, dip and beer on the couch. It also means good competition, lively banter and well intentioned trash talk (if that's possible, it happens in my house) and that's just with the commentators before the game! Last week, it even meant a whirl wind trip to Edmonton and back in an evening for the chance to see our two teams play each other...while we sat in row 14. When, really, are we going to get that chance again!?

Tonight, the playoffs start and that means a whole new world of entertainment. I find it particularly satisfying that the fLames are not in the playoffs (note: I was perfectly aware all season that Edmonton wouldn't make it anyway. I get it. I'm aware of the realities of cheering for my team) and have had fun pointing out that, when April hits and playoffs are rolling, no one actually cares whether your team was 30th or 17th...until there's draft picks to be had. Did I mention that, as of this morning, it's confirmed that Edmonton has the first round pick? Where's Calgary on the list? Do they even get a draft pick this year? Oh, but I digress.

The whole point of this was that I was going to give my picks for the first round. I haven't posted them on here for a season or two but thought I'd get back in the habit with this season. Here goes:

Chicago (8) vs Vancouver (1)
I'm taking Vancouver in 6 for this one. Some might say that I don't have a choice in the matter but I wouldn't believe them if I were you. I know, I know. How many times has a President's Trophy team won the cup? Oh, and how many times has Chicago beat Vancouver in the playoffs? Okay, I get it, there's some superstition working against the Nucks this year but I'm not a superstitious girl. They've been first in pretty much every recorded stat category in the league this year, they've got two goalies they can count on and a pretty deep list of superstars. Injuries seem to be healing. Chicago is not the team they have been over the past couple seasons. They didn't finish the season strong. Plus, I just hate them. I do.

LA (7) vs San Jose (2)
If you would have asked me 2 months ago, I would have said LA hands down but they didn't finish nearly as strong as they started AND they've got a few key injuries. That said, they won't go down easy. I haven't been watching much of San Jose but what I have seen looks better than, well, LA. I'm going for San Jose in 7.

Phoenix (6) vs Detroit (3)
Detroit might be without Zetterberg and I might pretty much hate them (them and Chicago. ug) but when it's between a war vet team like Detroit and Phoenix who's only hope is a guy like Jovanovski, I've gotta go for Detroit. Not a sweep but I'm thinking 5.

Nashville (5) vs Anaheim (4)
I think this is a stupid match up. Who watches hockey in Nashville and Anaheim? That said, I like Perry and think that the last half of the regular season bodes well for Anaheim. There it is. Anaheim in 6.

On to the East...

New York Rangers (8) vs Washington (1)
I would love to say that this would be an upset because I think it would be funny but I just don't see it happening. Between injuries and guys just not playing to potential, I have a hard time seeing the Rangers doing anything useful in this match up. Washington in four. Yes, I said it. Sweep.

Buffalo (7) vs Philly (2)
I'm still not sure how Philly finished second instead of first. I think that's dumb. While riddled with injuries, I still think that this round is going to be relatively uneventful. Philly in 6 and even that, I think, is being generous to Buffalo.

Montreal (6) vs Boston (3)
If the regular season series between these two teams has shown anything, it's that these two teams have something to fight about. This match up is going to be on from the moment they hit the ice. This means war, I tell you, and I think they're going to fight it for seven games. I like Tim Thomas but I think the match up between him and Price is pretty even. Both stellar. The difference is going to be the power play. Montreal has it and Boston doesn't. Montreal in 7.

Tampa Bay (5) and Pittsburgh (4)
With or without Crosby (or Malkin), this one's still going to be Pittsburgh in 6. They've come off the regular season hot, matched up well against Tampa and have the experience. Tampa Bay will put up a fight, Lacavailer will play strong but, at the end of the day, the young team just doesn't have what it takes. Sorry Florida.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

If I'm not living in active response to the living God revealed in the Bible, reading about his creation/salvation/holiness won't interest me—at least not for long. The most important question we ask of any text isn't "What does this mean?" but "What can I obey?" Simple obedience will open up our lives to a text more than any number of Bible studies, dictionaries, and concordances.

Eat This Book, Eugene Peterson

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Say Thank You

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal

into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our

past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

~Melody Beattie

Thanks, Rachel, for posting this. It's important to me to be living a life of gratitude - there's lots to be thankful, you know - but often the heaviness of life distracts from that reality. No matter how heavy, how full, or how painful life may seem, it's true that finding the fullness of it, even in those moments, comes when you can recognize the gifts that are found in the midst of it all.

I realize that I have taken a significant break in my posting. Oh sure, there's been bits and pieces here and there, feeble attempts at continuing what I started years ago, but nothing like I used to. I miss it. I really do.

I've been inspired recently by some of the great blogs that I've been reading. There's some people out there that really know what they're doing. I feel like some of them are writing the blog I wish I could keep. They record their family adventures, cooking adventures, creative knitting projects, moments in life captured in photographic genius and deep questions and ponderings on some of life's deepest things, particularly things surrounding faith, church and how it all collides together to impact life in deep and meaningful ways. Yes, the blog I wish I was writing.

Today I spent a bit of time perusing some of the posts from years gone by and have been reminded - yes, again - about how much fun I've had writing about the things that make up my life; deep things, trivial things and everything in between. I'm trying to get back in the habit. I'd like to say that it's because life is busy but if you know me at all, you know it's always been busy. So I'm working on it. Working on getting back in the habit of reflecting, sharing and living a life worth writing about ;)
Ever have a day when you just don't have it? You don't really know what "it" is but you're sure it's not there? Okay, well that's the kind of season I'm living in right now. I think of all the things that need to be done or that are ahead of me requiring large doses of emotional energy and I just don't think I can. It's all I can do to get out of bed. I do it but I feel like I'm only half as productive as I want to be and that becomes part of the problem. And then I remember that Jesus promised that his strength and his power would be made perfect in my weakness. It's in seasons like this that I know more deeply how true that really is...and I'm thankful.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Ah, facebook...

Donald Miller inserts just the right amount of sarcasm here (yes, talks about discipleship and sarcasm do mix) and here (best blog post addressing this media controversy to date in my opinion) to help me finish off my day. Thanks, Donald!

Push Pause

Today I had almost a whole day off. I know. Let's take a minute and insert the appropriate shock and awe here. It's good, it really is. In fact, I think I should do it more. Next step? A complete day off. Baby steps, my friends.

Anyway, here's the thing with today. I didn't know what to do with myself. I couldn't rest. I couldn't stop. I couldn't even push pause. I was antsy and almost angry at having to slow down at certain points in the day. I even disinfected the kitchen sink before I could actually feel okay about slowing down. Ridiculous, I know, but true.

Now it's the end of the day and I appreciate the moments of 'slow' that I've had today. Time to sip a coffee with Colin. Games with him and the girls. Cooking a "real" dinner on a weeknight. Laughing. Catching up on a few blogs. Speaking of catching up on blogs, I stumbled on this timely post today. Seriously, this lady could be writing to me!

I think about what letter I would write to myself, knowing what I know now. Even more importantly, I think about how to move forward from here with that insight. One of my big struggles in the whole thing right now is work-life balance. Working two jobs rarely allows me a moments freedom and so I'm in the habit of being in a hurry. More than that, though, I feel like there's something - or several somethings - that drives me, something that pushes me forward and has me looking for the next thing. It's more than just being driven. It's the part of me that I'm working to unravel and unpack right now. I feel like I'm on the verge of something, like figuring out the inner workings of my crazy compulsions might just be the ticket to getting me off this crazy hamster wheel. I know I'll always be a busy, involved person. I'm not patient and I don't sit still well. I just want to do it in a healthier manner. it's got to be possible!