Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lexicon Project :: neatly

Maybe, just maybe, if they are stacked neatly, no one will notice how many are sitting there calling my name, begging to share their stories with me. At least that's what I tell myself...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Life Aquatic :: Gagnam Style

Every once in a while, we see things in the pool that, frankly, just wouldn't happen anywhere else. Like the aquacize class the other night. The instructor used some top-40 hit fitness disc to "set the mood" and then, just for fun, I suppose, decided to use the music to inspire the fitness moves in each set. Now picture it for a minute. 30 mostly 60+ individuals in swim suits attempting Gangnam style.

You can't pay money for some of this stuff.

Of course, in the next hour I got to clean up poop off the floor. I'm not convinced it balances out.

From the Interweb :: April 23, 2013

Hard and Good Work, - So good. So honest. So funny.

Let's Talk about Food!, Rachel Held Evans - I like to talk about food. I also like to read about food. Mostly, I like to eat food.

What a hundred lifeguards taught me about my calling, Chatting at the Sky - Not only does she NOT lump all lifeguards together in some hollywood baywatch-esque stereotype (that's right, not all lifeguards are "whistle twirling, chair lounging, teenage flirting type of life guards", thank you very much) but the message she draws from watching them work hit home too.

(un)steady as she goes: on grieving a good thing, sortacrunchy - I don't have twins. There is no shared experience through which I can find that deeper level of understanding at how twins changes life but I can understand the anger, the grieving and the guilt of which she speaks. I can understand how THAT changes a person. I can understand how life turning out so very different from how you planned does something, something drastic, to your heart, to your emotions, to your faith and to your trust...and I'm thankful that sortacrunchy can express it in a way that I can't.

What it Means to be a Christian, Rachel Held Evans - a great quote from a great man of  faith who was not afraid to share his words in ink, a man who will be missed.

In Which I have circles of friendship - and a lobster, Sarah Bessey - Good for my I-think-I'm-more-of-an-introvert-than-I-thought heart that's been thinking a lot about loneliness and community. "Community isn’t an exercise in consumerism and gluttony. Community is not more-more-more = better."

7 Religious Rules to Consider Breaking, Jim Palmer Indeed!

Losing Beliefs, not Faith, Kathy Escobar - She's done it again. I wish I could have a cup of coffee with this lady. It seems as though she has visited the places I'm visiting and walked the road, full of thorns and flowers, that I am walking.

Equality & friendship changes everything, Kathy Escobar - maybe we'll call this one this week's bonus piece. Regardless, here's the truth of the matter, when equality and friendship reign, violence and disconnection cannot. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Pearl of Laughter

Love these guys. They always make me laugh. Happy Friday.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lexicon Project :: Provision

Today I'm thankful for all the extra we have, for His provision and care in our lives.

For fruit that feels like warmer days, even when it's snowing outside.

For our house that is a home.

For jobs that challenge us (in good and sometimes frustrating ways) and ensure a paycheck.

For vehicles to move us back and forth.

For friends and family to share it with.

For laughter and tears and everything in between.

For all the abundance and all the extra. 

The Life Aquatic :: You Just Never Know

I fully admit that working in pools is not my dream job. It's not where I want to retire...not that I should really be thinking of retiring. We'll call that a distant dream...but I still don't want to grow old working in pools. Truthfully, working in pools sometimes makes me a little crazy, a little depressed and a lot frustrated.

It's not like on T.V. I promise. Sometimes it's really boring and, if it isn't, it probably would be better if it were. I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a first responder. But that's rare. It's the day to day that gets to me. There's a lot of crabby people, cleaning toilets (and walls. How does it get on the walls?!), scrubbing floors, making change, registering for programs (and helping find the right ones), washing windows, directing "traffic," playing referee, handing out bandaids and wiping bloody noses, filling out copious amounts of redundant paperwork, inventory lists, mopping floors, ignorant people that think the rules don't apply to them, educating (or trying to) about water safety...and just plain common sense, and a lot of watching people swim back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

The only way I know to stay sane is to laugh and be thankful - noting the positives - and so we share stories. With each other. With our families. Oh the stories. And so I think I'll share the stories. Record them, as best I can, to save my sanity...or what's left of it.

Stories like this one from earlier this week. Four, maybe five, years ago, I taught months worth of private lessons to a little boy. He was petrified of the water. Honestly, we spent the first lesson just working up the courage to get into the water. And he did. One lesson at a time he improved. He got braver. He faced his fears and found some new skills. And he became a cute little friend. His mom and his little sister would come to watch and they too became friends. Eventually it was time for him to move on. I haven't seen him in years. On Tuesday, working a different shift at my new pool, guess who showed up for swim club. Competitive swim club. You got it. My little swimmer and his mom. He's taller and faster and swimming competitively, winning meets all across the province! And guess what? He remembered me. His mom and I had a nice little visit, catching up. She is still thanking me for the impact I had on her little boy years ago, setting him on the path, she says, to success and fitness. I guess it just goes to show that you never know the impact you have on people. You just never know.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

From the Interweb, April 9, 2013

5 Social Media Mistakes that Mess with Your Career, the Scoop - I wish more people were aware of the realities of how far social media reaches and the implications of that for their career and life. If they considered the pictures they post and the language they use in light of their career I wonder if, perhaps, things like facebook and twitter would read just a little bit less like the walls of a bathroom stall.

Putting the breaks on Panic Mode, Giving Up on Perfect - A few good reminders for allowing yourself to relax when life gets busy and, perhaps, overwhelming.

The Truth About Parenting Kids in an Unsafe World, We are that family - "I knew dinner was ready because my siblings and I listened for my mom’s call throughout the neighborhood. We rode our bikes around town, to the store and to school, unchaperoned. We climbed in ditches and went inside our neighbor’s houses. We caught fireflies in mason jars and made yarn pompoms and went door-to-door selling them all summer long, just for fun." But life is different now, or so it seems. We bundle up with a different helmet for every activity, all kids have cell phones and heaven forbid we try things on our own. The things is, there are realities in our world that make it just a bit scarier than when we were kids and make the cautiousness seem just a bit more warranted.

Mind Blowing Architectural Density in Hong Kong, Bored Panda - I would go absolutely 100 % looneytunes living in a place this densely packed. The pics are pretty amazing though.

In which Jezebel gives Way to Deborah, Sarah Bessey - Sweet mercy, this is like balm to my church evaluating spirit. "This is the thing I believe about the Kingdom of God: it’s for all of us. It’s for the powerful and weak, it’s for men and for women, it’s for the outliers and the insiders. It’s for all of us. And so there is no neat and safe and tidy box: instead there is the wild and untamed and glorious riches of Christ Jesus, there is Deborah and David, there is Junia and Paul, there is Martha and Lazarus, Esther and Sarah, and there is you and there is me. In Christ, oh, hallelujah, there is room for us all. Don’t let anyone scare you from the battle, Deborah. God has called you, Esther, for such a time as this."

Believing in a Better Modesty Movement, Dannah Gresh, her*meneutics - For years, I have been having conversations about what modesty for the Christian woman really looks like. Something about what I (and many of the women I grew up with) have been taught growing up and how that has shaped our view of ourselves seems counter to what the Bible actually teaches and what I know in my heart to be true. It doesn't seem helpful. The question remains, then, what does it mean to be proud of the uniquely created feminine nature - physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual - and be appropriately modest. What is modesty? Dannah takes a stab at it. I like the focus on respect all the way around. She just might be on to something with that.

Why Healthy Children Aren't Always Happy Children, We are that family - It could be summed up in this: "Because an (immediate) happy child isn’t always a (longterm) healthy child." And that's why the parents make the tough decisions, looking at the big picture and what's long term healthy. It's why trying to be a buddy first doesn't actually help anyone even if it temporarily keeps the peace. It's why parenting is hard work. But it's how children become healthy, respectable, successful, engaged members of society, the kind of people that others want to be around.

What Christians need to know about Mental Healthy, Ann Voskamp - for there to be more grace, there needs to be more understanding...and for more understanding, there needs to be more grace. 

All seasons slippers, Etsy - I TOTALLY want to make these!

Carry on Warrior, Rachel Held Evans - a review of a book I want to read. I might want to take some folks on a journey through it with me. Anyone in? 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Lexicon Project :: shucks

Still having some technical difficulties with my camera, not to mention that this was just an interesting word to try to capture, so here's one of my favorites from Christmas. I love it. It makes me smile every time!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Baby Photography :: Alana Knutson (5 months)

This was such a fun morning and Alana was such a good sport! I had to move fast 'cause she's really starting to wiggle and move and rock and roll!

What's in the name?

If anyone knew how many blog posts are written in my head each day, they'd probably be surprised
(and maybe a little bit appalled...or even thankful. Ha!) at the percentage, or lack thereof, that make it to the blog. I guess that's the blessing and the curse of pacing circles around the pool deck while scanning the water: there's still lots of brain power left to do and think about a lot of other things. If only the people in the water knew what I was thinking about. Or maybe it's better that they don't!

Bright and early yesterday morning, I found myself contemplating what's in a name. What's in a specific title. Most specifically, what does it mean to call oneself a christian. As I've entered a new environment and begun the process of integrating into a new group of coworkers, a new community, it's hard, for me at least, to not want to make a good first impression. I want people to like me. I also want to be known. As much as I value going to work and then going home, I want to be known for more than my work as a lifeguard. And so we've talked about family, hobbies, and value.

In each conversation, I admit, it has been difficult to "confess" to being a Christian or to anything having to do with it. I have spoken very little, if at all, about my previous work in church ministry, how I met my sweet husband (at church) or my faith, even though it's important to me. It's not that I'm embarrassed of Jesus but I do have reservations with being connected to what people think of when they think of church or christians...because sometimes I think the same things. There's a certain, well, stereotype, that I fully admit came from somewhere. Like...

the crusades
the inquisition
witch hunts

...just to name a couple of the big, historical, ugly ones. But, even though they are big and ugly, I'm not convinced that's what people think about when they think of the church today. What about...
the judgement cast upon those "outside" the church by those on the "inside." You know the ones. They don't drink or swear and they go to church every week so obviously that makes them better than those that do.

the abuse - physical and otherwise - carried out against the vulnerable by those within the church.

the decision to segregate specific people groups by their age, gender or lifestyles

the stupid things that become issues to squabble and divide over. 

the greed and seeming misuse of money. who hasn't heard a tele-evangelist offering miracles if only a big enough donation to their specific ministry is made. And there's the building projects, new and old, that hint at excess on the backs of hardworking individuals, trying to do their

the striving for power. leaders abusing their position. Scaring instead of caring. Ruling instead of leading. Guilting instead of loving.

the apparent hypocrisy of those who do one thing on Sunday at church and then live however they want the rest of the week or those who pick and choose what truths they can apply or those who read their specific desires into scripture simply so they have something to justify their opinions. the ones who wave the bible like a law book instead of a love story. 

...but here's the rub. I can't, I won't, paint the whole thing with the same brush. I am unwilling to say, even though I know there's lots out there that would like me to do otherwise, that all churches or all christians are bad representatives of Jesus just because some are. I am unwilling to say that Jesus' message is false or no relevant to today or simply not helpful because some people choose to abuse the message and use if for their own gain.

The truth is there are bad people everywhere and, since churches are made of people it would be safe to assume that churches would have some too. In fact, I would think, that the Bible itself promises it.

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."  Romans 3:23-24 (emphasis mine). 

men, women and children
young and old

It is only by his grace that we could consider ourselves anything but a bad person, someone who has fallen short of what God intended when he created us and left Adam and Eve in the garden. Until we get to heaven, no one will be perfect. There is no such thing as a "good Christian" (find that title in the Bible anywhere, I dare you). In this life we will only find ourselves at different levels of being changed by who he is and representing him a bit better, following Jesus from a little closer or a little further. In this life, we will all have stuff, ugly stuff, that keeps us from looking fully like Jesus. Stuff that makes us look like anything but Jesus. It goes without saying (I think) that people who have just met him will look less like him than people who have followed him for years and years and years, studying who he is and making choices to change their behavior. It should, then, also go without saying, that time "put in" is not the only factor. Nor is simply adding the title and "doing" the right things. It is the choice to follow him, to change behavior, attitudes and character,  studying who he really was and modelling ourselves after him, by his grace, that changes lives. 

What I'm saying is that one could go to a church building for their whole life, every day, and still be ugly on the inside because they haven't let the truth of Jesus change anything about who they are. (Did you know that the only people in the Bible Jesus was ever truly angry with were the Pharisees, the church leaders, who had made faith into nothing but a dead religion, doing the right things, following the mostly made-up-by-men-laws to the legalistic letter, but not loving people?) Likewise, one could go for a matter of months and be transformed, becoming more than they had ever hoped or imagined, growing into his image in leaps and bounds. And so there it is. There are mean, judgmental, greedy, lying, cheating hypocrites in churches. But there are also loving, daring, generous, kind Jesus like people that I wish I could be more like.

I'm feeling a bit like an idealist today and wishing that Christians could be known by what they're supposed to be known for. 

When asked by the Pharisees what the most important law was, "Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”' Matthew 22:37-40.

Every "rule" in the Bible, old or new testament, in one way or another reflects those two commandments. 

We're supposed to love God and love people. 

Followers of Jesus are supposed to love. 

They're supposed to be Christ-like. 

He hung out with the most unlikely crowds which probably means he heard some crude jokes and foul language and, shocker, likely had a drink or two. He healed and met real needs. Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and self control marked his countenance and flowed into every encounter with people he had. His teaching on money, marriage, and relationships between slaves and masters (or employer/employee perhaps) were intended to build people up and make people better. Those who did not know the truths of scripture were not beat over the head and judged for their ignorance - how do you hold one accountable to rules they do not know? - instead he spoke and taught with the specific will to educate and provide answers. No one was ever forced to follow him. Jesus allowed for choice. He did not guilt people into making choices either.  He loved well.

What if that was what churches and the people that fill them were known for? For loving God and loving people and evaluating each and every action through that lens? 

What if? 

I feel like maybe that name, the christian title, wouldn't be so heavy to bear, something to confess to. At least that's what I hope. But right now, in this world, it's not quite that way, is it? So, for now, I'm going to try without the title but I'm going to work hard to live and work with the attitude of Jesus so that if and when the "christian thing" comes up, maybe, just maybe, it won't be such a scary thing.

Last Week's Lexicon Project :: Fresh

In a perfect world, this photo would be of the cute little old man who, when leaving the pool the other day, reached out and grabbed his wife's least I'm assuming it was his wife. Full hand on full cheek. Super cute. Him with his saggy old man pants and her with her walker. She couldn't swat him away if she'd wanted to. But alas, I didn't have my camera with me at work and, if I had, it probably would have, at best, been considered a little creepy and, at worst, been breaking some sort of privacy law.

Then, after several hours over several days worth of creative shooting (at least I think so!), I'm stuck with a "card error" message. I'm not sure what I've done or how to get them back but I've decided I'm going to win this one. I'm not done yet.

So this is what you get. Bright, yellow, fresh daffodils brightening up our living room. A bit of a foreshadowing of the spring we can only hope is on it's way.