Refuse to be Passive

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A New Year

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Each January, people make resolutions– promises of things to change in the coming year. Inevitably, these are things that they don’t like about themselves, and view these resolutions as the solution to their problem. I

I will eat healthier. I will go to the gym regularly. I will stop smoking. I will stop watching so much TV. I will spend less time on Facebook. I will drink less.

This New Year’s, I made no resolutions. They just feel like failure before you even being. For two weeks, people struggle to diet, exercise, and abstain from their vices. Then, somewhere around mid-January, they fall off the wagon and give up.

A couple of weeks before New Year’s, however, I celebrated my 30th birthday. To say celebrated might be a bit of a misnomer. The day in and of itself was an emotional pendulum. I swung from thankfulness for the years I’ve had, and happy reflection on my blessings, to wondering how 30 years had passed, bemoaning the end of my 20s, and wondering why life hadn’t turned out the way I thought it would.

My biggest focus of failure was my lack of career. After all, aren’t you supposed to be settled into a career and making a decent income by the time you’re 30? I have no real career to speak of. I’m a baker at a local coffee shop, and while I enjoy my job, I just can’t shake that I am not a success. Western culture suggests that you’re making progress once you’re climbing the corporate ladder, run a department, own your own business, or have an important white collar job. I have none of these. I don’t have an impressive credentials either. I make the same wage as a teenager working at McDonald’s. It feels kind of pathetic.

Here’s the kicker. I chose this life. I decide that I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder or be stuck in an office cubicle. I decided to for go money to do something I enjoy. Do I regret it? Well, the lack of disposable income is occasionally depressing, but I find myself blessed with generous friends, affordable apartment rent (by my city’s standards), and the ability to live life without a vehicle, which is a serious money saver. Many of my friends marvel at my ability to live in a tiny apartment and live life on such a low income. Generally, this doesn’t bother me. Generally, I’m actually very happy with my life. I like living small. I like it because it reduces stress in my life, and because I know that my lifestyle is more sustainable for the environment than the average North Americans’. With the way the world is looking these days, I like knowing that I’m doing my best to be part of the solution, rather than the problem.

As I go into my 30th year, I want to take the life I’m living, and live it better. I prefer to set goals, rather than resolutions. I want them to be goals that will impact the lives of those around me in a positive way. I’m not too worried about numbers on the scale, but I am concerned to build healthier relationships. I’m not so concerned about money, as how I use my time. I used to think that by the time I was 30, I’d have it all together. The older I get, the more I realize that no one ever really has it all together. So for my 30th year, rather than getting it all right, I’ll take what I’ve gotten right and make it even better. I’ll add a few more pieces to the puzzle that is my life– fill in a few of the blanks. I will choose to live with intentiionality. After all, we only get one go round at this thing called life.

You may have heard this before, but I’ll say it again: You never see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it. I choose to focus on people, rather than items. At the end of the day, it is our relationships with others that allow us to grow and become the person we’re meant to be. Material goods simply trap us, and try to trick us into thinking that we’ve arrived. But the loneliest people I know are the ones with the most stuff. Don’t fall into that trap.

As I contemplate what this year will bring, I invite you to do the same. Let it not be a resolution that you break in two weeks, but a commitment to improve and be more intentional about the way you live.

Ask yourself these questions: What are your core values? What are your dreams? We’ve all heard the phrase, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” but now, define the steps it will take to get there. Little steps are the beginning of journeys. Like Bilbo Baggins leaving the Shire, you don’t know what’s ahead, but hey, it’ll be an adventure.

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Work Frustrations

In Uncategorized on March 7, 2014 at 11:48 am

I’ve been at my current job for ten months now. My boss loves me, and in general, I love the people I work with. While the work isn’t exactly thrilling, it’s certainly not a bad gig. I work in an industry that for many people would be a dream. I want to quit.

Why, you might ask. Well, my current job has a tendency of putting me in awkward positions. While I am simply the office manager, I often wind up doubling as human resources. Sadly, I seem to be the complaint line, but have no power to implement change. For me, this is extremely frustrating.

Beyond that, I lack respect for how my current supervisor does business. Rather than nipping issues in the bud, he lets them fester until people’s minds are poisoned. However, upon sitting down with them, he has so much charisma oozing out of his pores that he can generally mollify and even make the person he’s talking to change their mind and see things from his point of view. If that doesn’t work, he simply reduces their shifts until they quit, or waits to find a reason to fire them. Basically, it’s a toxic work environment. I have no doubt that he could do that to anyone, even me, if I wasn’t such an integral part of the business. 

I believe in the place that I work, but I’m not impressed with how business is done. I want it to succeed, but I want to succeed on the high ground not by making decisions that are suspect and sweep the dirt under the rug. I don’t want to work in a place where the tensions run high because no one actually knows where they stand.

Beyond my boss is another senior staffer who is rather high strung. He has a tendency to blow issues out of proportion and is not terribly good at handling conflict. This is an issue when you’re a direct staff supervisor. Somehow, people always take offense to what he says. Maybe some business and communication classes would be good for him, as well as conflict management.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like both of these individuals as people. I just don’t respect their business ethic. I understand that there is a need to make the business a success, but your staff should be your core. They should be your biggest supporters, not those who get trampled under foot and lead to bad word-of-mouth.

Well, I’ll take it a day at a time. If it gets to the point I can’t handle it anymore, so be it. 

The First “I Love You”

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2014 at 10:19 am

I didn’t mean for it to be the first “I love you.” I’d bitten it back multiple times in the past month, not wanting to say it too soon, but knowing it was true. He wasn’t there yet. He’s still at the “I really, really like you,” point.

This past weekend we went away together on a church retreat with his church. The weekend turned out to be a bit of a gong show. While we as a couple were fine, there were other external factors that made the weekend a bit of a challenge. Two of the women who are dear friends to my boyfriend were being a bit cold and distant. One was also being a right stroppy cow when she did interact with him. Both women insisted everything was fine. Add to that, that I woke up Sunday morning with five bites on my chest, and someone found a bed bug carcass in one of the other cabins. Delightful. So now the entire camp needed to do bed bug prevention when they got home as a precautionary measure. Other than that the weekend was lovely—snowshoeing on the lake, board games with friends, worship sessions and guest speakers. In my opinion, not enough time for contemplation, meditation, and prayer, but the importance of that is another blog post.

Once we got home from the weekend, my boyfriend came over and we spent some time enjoying not being around people—we talked some about the weekend, and even went out for dinner (which turned out to be disappointing). Shortly after midnight, it happened. Stomach flu. Not to me. Just to him. He probably caught it off of someone at the camp. He is in constant pain, and has all of the regular stomach flu symptoms.  If it weren’t for the fact that its wrath occasionally lessens and he can ingest liquid, I’m sure we would have had to take him to the hospital by now for a saline drip.

So, for the past few days I’ve been taking care of him as he goes through this painful experience. He keeps on thanking me for taking care of him, but I ask you, isn’t that what any compassionate person would do? Isn’t that what a girlfriend should do? Thankfully, sickies don’t make me queasy. Somewhere along the line I learned to detach myself from the nastiness of sickness and see it in a somewhat more scientific and practical light. It is what it is. It’s part of the human experience. It happens to everyone at some point. It’s rather mean to be there for someone when they’re at their best, but leave them to struggle on their own when things slump. After all, the low times are when we need help the most. The low times are when we need people to care.

Last night, the hour was getting late. My boyfriend heard the alarm go off on his phone. He sent me home, citing that I would sleep much better in my own bed than on his couch. He was right, and so I rather reluctantly headed out. It’s not much fun to be alone with only your pain, and I didn’t want to leave him in that position. But he insisted. The time was running short, and I needed to get out the door in order to make the last bus. I gave him a quick hug and a kiss on the forehead. “I love you,” the words were a whisper, and I don’t even know if he heard them. I hadn’t been meaning to say them. They came of their own volition. I didn’t have time to stop and think about what I’d said, or figure out if he’d heard, so I just headed out the door. He didn’t even have time to say anything, and in all honesty, I preferred it that way.

The Angry Church

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2014 at 10:25 am

This morning was the inaugural Women’s Breakfast meeting for our church. Three of us ladies got together at the downtown Denny’s to enjoy breakfast, have good conversation, and communal prayer.

Although many topics were discussed, predominantly along the lines of work, once we started sharing prayer requests, our church came up.

We go to a small church that meets in a lecture theatre of a local university. On a good week there are 60 people in the congregation. On a poor week there are 30-40.

Over the past few weeks, the pastor has been up front, asking for volunteers to take a turn in teaching Sunday School. No one wants to step up. There seems to be two sectors to our congregation—one which is already heavily involved and doesn’t have the time or ability to take on Sunday School as well, and one where people are apathetic, angry, or scared. It seems that 20 percent of the congregation does 80 percent of the work. And the other 80 percent seem to be content just sitting in their chairs on Sunday.

While I try not to judge these people, it’s difficult. After all, isn’t acts of service an integral part of the Christian faith, as well as necessary for running a healthy church? I am sure that some of these people are actively involved in initiatives outside in the community, but the church won’t get volunteers externally. It all needs to come from within the congregation.

I vented some of this frustration to the two ladies sitting at the table with me, when one of them said something that I hadn’t thought of before. “Angry people,” she said. “Our church is filled with angry people who don’t realize they’re angry.” Our church is rather avant garde and tends to attract a certain type of person—specifically those who are disenchanted by the western Christian church, and reject it for the hypocrisy, judgement, and hurt it has caused them in the past. Now, they have found a church that embraces them in love, but that hurt still keeps them from getting any more involved than sitting in the chairs on Sunday mornings and going to a restaurant for lunch afterwards. These people, however, for the most part, don’t seem to realize that they’re angry, whether it be at the church, God, or themselves. So how do we help these people to get to a point where they recognize and deal with their anger? How do we help them to heal to the point that they can feel they are a part of a church where they can serve, love, and be served by others?

The most obvious answer is prayer; prayer for the softening of hearts that have been hardened, prayer for a willingness to forgive.

But beyond that? What do we do? Do we offer a group called Angry Christians? Moving On and Embracing Faith, Life, and Love? I feel like that would ultimately be a flop.

The other thing about our church, is that its growth has become stagnant. I love this church, this group of people, intensely. There is no way to allow others in and to love the church if we ourselves are angry with God and his people. Healing must come first before church growth and a gracious faith that others want will become a reality.

“He must become more. I must become less.” Such a counter cultural concept. We stay angry when we try to flip that verse, allowing the focus to be on ourselves. It isn’t until we realize that life and faith are ultimately not just about us, that we as 

How to Ace the Job Interview

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2013 at 11:32 am

Recently, I applied for a near dream job on a whim. I typed up my resume and cover letter, and sent it off to a person I had only met once. I didn’t hear back from him for a week. Over the course of that week, I had taken the opportunity to sit down with the only person linked to that company– someone who did sales for the same company, but in a different territory. She joined me for coffee and we chatted about the realities of the job– pay, hours worked, pros and cons. I got a clear picture of what it would be like to work for this company. Basically, I interviewed her, so I knew what it took to nail it should they choose to interview me. There was a bit of talk about myself, but this was research, and so I asked some specific and some open ended questions. What does a day on the job look like? What is the territory manager like? What skill sets make people a success in this position. What will the interviewer be looking for if I manage to score an interview?  I thanked her for her time, and assured her I was still interested in the position. I counted on her bringing this fact back to her boss.

She texted me the next day saying, “Just wanted to let you know that Phil texted me to ask what I thought of you, as he knew we were going for coffee. I said I thought you’d be fantastic for the position. He wanted to get my opinion, since he said that on paper you shine.”

Excellent. How did I shine on paper? Let me tell you:

 

1) Layout– Be creative with your layout. Don’t be afraid of muted colour for headings. Keep it clean, simple, and concise. I cannot count how many resumes I’ve proof read where I’ve made suggestions, and people shrug and say, “It’s good enough.” If you really want that job, it isn’t good enough. It can always be better. Spending 8 hours on an application and presentation package can make tens of thousands of dollars difference in the job your land.

2) Cover letter– A cover letter is not optional! I don’t care what job you’re applying for, a coverletter is a must. A coverletter is your elevator speech. It is your chance to introduce yourself and let the potential employer get to know you a bit. Don’t just list credentials and skills. That is what your resume is for. Your cover letter gives your resume personality. The keys here? Clean, tidy, no spelling mistakes. The three minutes a good proof read takes could save your resume from the trash bin.

3) You are not writing a novel– short, sweet, and to the point. Lots of white space, and not to wordy. They need a snapshot of your life, not a memoir.

After getting the call for an interview, it was time for me to sit down and make presentation packet. The first pages were reprints of my resume and cover letter– one for each person who would be attending the meeting, including myself.

The second section presented my approach to business, and how I would manage and grow the sales territory. It included my philosophies on business and how it would effect me in the position for which I applied– if focused on what would make me a success. It included a list of all potential clients within my future sales territory.

The third section was a cost of living breakdown. It listed amounts paired with reasons that I used to create a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet became my income request. At the end of the day, I presented them with a number they couldn’t argue with, because I’d taken the time to research and understand what that lifestyle would look like and how much it cost.

When I was at my meeting and I presented the package to my potential employer his eyes widened as he flipped through the pages. He looked up at me and said, “Are you for real?”

I smiled and responded, “I believe so.”

From that point on, he was already sold. I knew that he wanted team players, so I threw in the fact that I loved playing rec. volleyball and that I wanted to make sure the work-life balance would still allow me time for volunteerism. I told him stories of my past that took the skills and qualifications I listed on my resume and turned them into something real. I spoke with confidence, even when it came to the salary request, despite the number being high for an entry level position. I believed in myself, which made it easier for others to believe in me. They need me and I know it. They know it. That makes the sell easier. But that confidence can make or break and interview. Go into all interviews believing that you deserve that job. Be personable, but not arrogant. Don’t be afraid of going off into a bit of a side-bar, but always remember to keep your focus on business. Every work that comes from your mouth in an interview counts. Think about what questions you’ll be asked, and how you’re going to answer them. Not sure how to answer them? Go to your friends and family. They know you best, and they can help you figure out the tough stuff. 

Beyond all else, go in prepared. Don’t wing it. Know what you’re going to say, be ready for the unexpected. Dress the part. Kick ass.

Awareness and Action– Faith and Life

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I did it again. I lost track of purpose, of plan. I fell off the face of the earth and into the world of worthless novels and TV series. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been living—at least not living in a way that I can respect myself for. Sure. I’m alive, and 24 hours is still 24 hours,  but I’ve ceased to learn, ceased to grow. I’ve stagnated. I’ve stopped working towards bettering myself for the sake of bettering my community. I’ve become selfish and insular. This blog post isn’t about berating myself or beating myself up. Instead, it’s a post about awareness. In order to live a life worth living, one must be aware of the world in which one lives, and have a belief that a better future is possible. It’s about stepping outside oneself and recognizing that through improvement of self, we can help improve the world around us. New skills and abilities allow us to serve in new ways. New writings and readings allow us to learn, when we are willing to take the time to read the works that are edifying instead of burying our heads in a perpetual world of fantasy. There is nothing wrong with a wee bit of escapism, but the trick is to not get caught up in it. Sadly, it’s a moderation that I’m not terribly good at. It’s funny, the saying goes “everything in moderation,” and while most people would agree with that phrase, most of us aren’t terribly good at living it out. We live in a society that doesn’t respect moderation. It respects capitalism and commercialism. It respects materialism and the ever increasing desire for more. It respects the pursuit of pleasure to the point of sacrificing that which is right and good, but not necessarily easy. It is what has led to our cultural malaise. After all, if all you have to care about is you, and your own enjoyment of life, and you get a group of these people together, you create a society of egotism and nihilism.  

I feel like I’ve written this blog post many times over, and yet I find myself needing to hear the message again. I’m a slow learner. Maybe you are too. So this post is for all the slow learners out there.  

One thing I am relearning is that the greatest gratification in life comes from hard work resulting in the creation of a good thing. Whether that be increasing knowledge by reading a book on the bus—this morning I started a book called Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology—or finally getting a start on that novel you’ve been thinking about writing for the last decade. The book I started reading is so far from anything I’ve read in the recent past, that I find myself needing to break periodically to process. Yet I believe it to be worthwhile, and so I read it. I got up and cleaned my apartment this morning. I planned the next few sessions of a fledgling group of people who want to learn more about the opportunities and challenges that face us locally and globally. I’ve started contacting potential presenters for this session. And it’s only shortly past noon. What would life look like if I used my time in such a responsible and edifying manner all the time? It would be one heck of a life, to be sure.

But it’s not enough to maintain intellect. We’ve been given brains, but we’ve also been given bodies, which when taken care of, can do truly amazing things. So what does that mean for me? It means walking more and sitting less. It means hitting the gym again, not because I want to lose weight or look better, but because it will enable me to experience God’s creation in a fuller way. It means making better food choices, because I only have one body and it needs to last for as long as I need it. It needs to last until my work here on earth is done. It means eating less. We need to recognize the fact that we live in a glutinous culture. We glut ourselves on food and stuff in general. But if we want our bodies to operate as they should, we need to stop focusing on food as entertainment, and start recognizing that food can be delicious, but it is also the fuel of your body and needs to have a certain amount of respect attached to it, not worship and not indifference, but an intentionality in what we eat and how much of it we ingest.

Now that we’ve covered the mental and the physical, we come to the last of the famous trio—the spiritual. All three of these are intrinsically linked in living a good life—a life of purpose. How can we recognize the need to use our mental and physical selves in a positive way if we don’t develop the spiritual as well. After all, faith and God give us guidance in day-to-day life. Humans learn their ways based on that which is around them, based on the examples they see. If I have to base my life on a mentor, who better than Christ? Thus, it is important to submerge oneself in regular prayer and reading of scripture. But that is not enough. We need to then take time to reflect on what we have read and how it should impact the way we live. We need to be intentional when it comes to faith, making it a lifestyle priority. And then we need to share our lives of faith with those who are on the same journey. As humans, we’re made to be social creatures, and if we model our lives after that of Christ, we’ll see a constant call to community—to living and learning together.

Goodness, that seems like a lot of stuff to do! Some days it seems to be too much. But at the end of the day, that is what creates a full life. Too much? No, just enough. If it seems to be too much, maybe it’s time to examine your life and re-prioritize. Maybe it’s time to step outside yourself and examine your life as if you were a stranger. Where do you see the good? Where do you see a need for change? Once you’ve done that, you can start moving towards a life that is enough—towards a life of purpose and truth. 

When Simplicity is Enough

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2013 at 9:42 am

My brain is garbled. I am having a hard time thinking clearly about anything. I’ve lost my center. I’ve failed with flair. These past two weeks have been a living failure for me, I’ve forgotten the things that keep me centered and sane. I let stress at work overcome me, as well as the boredom of tedious tasks. I’ve filled my schedule so full that my faith and my health have been relegated to the sidelines. I’ve neglected my daily time with God, and only pray when it strikes me as convenient or necessary. I haven’t been making it to the pool or the gym. And rather than living my life surrounded by the concept of simplicity and having enough, I’ve fallen into the cultural trend of wanting more—lusting after desires that in the end reflect nothing on the state of my soul, the wellness of my being, or a healthy connection to community. Push harder, go faster, commit more…these are the phrases that have been driving me the past weeks. But there have also been these phrases—relax, you deserve it; it’s not my responsibility. I’ve relaxed, knowing that our culture touts relaxation as one of the keys to health. But what is relaxation? I’m fairly certain that it’s not simply watching hours of Netflix on end and munching on my weight in marshmallows or crackers with bean dip. I think that our culture has lost track of what true relaxation is.

Today, for the first time in two weeks, I cracked the book I was reading on stability and spiritual development. I was having a hard time focusing on the words. My mind darted as the words tried to slow it down, tried to make it listen. But listening is not what my mind wanted. My mind wanted to act. So much to do, so much action. But then a paragraph caught my eye in light of the particularly busy week I’ve had, and the way in which I have spent my small amount of relaxation time.

Rest is not a couch where we kick back in front of the TV….Rather; it is a place where we learn the rhythms of the work we were made for from the One who made us. Rest is coming home to the way of life that fits, learning to inhabit the story of God’s people and practice the craft of life with God wherever we are. p61 — The Wisdom of Simplicity in a Mobile Culture by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Those words jolted me back to center. It made me take a look at the past two week in dismay, but also look forward in hope. The stressors of the world, the desires of the flesh, they are not what matter. It is my role as a member of my community that makes up the family of God, the creation of God.

The traditional practices of Christian faith—prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, works of mercy, hospitality—all these are things that have fallen off my radar. If they have made an appearance, selfishness is the root from which they have grown. It’s been months since meditation has been a part of my life, but now I am beginning to see its purpose—to keep me grounded in the things that matter, to enable me to live in such a way that I live in simplicity and am content with enough.

As someone who loves the culinary arts, I suppose that the easiest way for me to illustrate the point of enough is with food. People who are immersed in the food culture are always looking forward to the next meal, the next experience of taste, texture, balance, and presentation. They look forward to it with a zealousness that is idolatry in its truest form—gluttony in its truest form. It is an idolatry I struggle with daily. The fact that our culture has made the worship of food permissible makes it that much harder. The fact that the church also endorses it, citing scripture in regards to fellowship, has lead to a gluttonous church where many members forget that when we gather together to break bread, it does not have to be a complex task. Notice that scripture chooses on of the simplest foods as a picture of sharing in hospitality—bread. It is not fancy deserts, pates, or piles of food—it is simple. It is enough. In fact, the first century church was berated for their gluttonous ways, and the church in this century is no better.

But I digress. My point was, that as a foodie, when I am out of sync with Him who made me, I am always looking forward to my next meal, my next snack. I want it to be luxurious—filled with sugar, salt and fat—be it chocolate chip cookies or an elk burger and sweet potato fries. But here’s the thing—concept of simplicity and enough say that I am going well beyond the realm of enough. Not every meal has to be the best meal ever. We eat three times a day. If having our best meal at every meal is our goal, we doom ourselves to a self-indulgent life leading to obesity and physical malaise. An indulgent meal should be a treat, not the norm. It is not our right to indulge while others go without. The concept of enough suggests eating simpler foods—whole grains, legumes, fruit, vegetables. Fancy preparation is not required. If your lunch consists of black bean soup and a side salad, that is enough. If you’re daily going out and looking for a large plate of pasta drenched in Alfredo sauce and topped with sautéed shrimp, that is too much.

 The norm needs to be to aim for enough. The norm needs to be simplicity. Without that norm, we relegate ourselves to spiritual, physical, and mental illness. We need our lives to be centred around something more than a product we consume. When our lives become about consumption and materialism, we will fail with flair in all the parts of life that matter. As I was jolted back to centre, I hope this post gives you a jolt as well. Have you lost your centre? Where have you found your new centre? And what will you do to get back to where you need to be?

The Wisdom of Stability in a Mobile Culture

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2013 at 8:06 am

When you pray, be careful what you ask for. You just might get it. So when you pray for discernment of God’s will and for him to show you his way, be ready for the answer. Often it is neither what you expect nor what you hope for.

About a month ago a friend emailed me with a job opportunity in central London. The pay was appallingly low, but I had the skill set and believed in the work that they were doing. I applied for the position, noting that I was an international applicant, and, provided that they couldn’t find a local applicant, they seemed interested in bringing me over on a work visa. I have been working towards a return to England ever since my semester abroad at Oxford in university. As I already am a bit of a nomad with a good dose of wander lust, this opportunity seemed to be the perfect match.

Now, a month later, the closing date on the post looms less than ten days away. I’ve been praying consistently about this opportunity—for wisdom and discernment of God’s will. After all, if our hearts are willing, there is no limit on where God will take us. There have been a number of times in the past where I heard the word, “Go,” and made plans for departure, having only a semblance of an idea of what was in store.

This time was different though. The more I prayed, the more I got a niggling feeling that I was not going to hear that word. I was not going to be told, “Go.”  But that doesn’t make any sense to me. Isn’t God in the business of sending people? Isn’t that what the great commission is all about? I set aside the feeling of unease that was rising and continued to pray.

Two weeks ago I was sitting in church. We were reflecting on a passage of scripture. I no longer know which one, but I do remember that it had absolutely nothing to do with my future in England. And yet, as I read one of the lines of scripture, the words came to me. “You’re not done here yet.”  Immediately following that was a list of all the blessings that God has poured out on me following my return to Edmonton, chased by a list of all the reasons I couldn’t leave—all the opportunities to develop, all the opportunities that are part of my roll as a Christ-follower. Could God use someone else? Absolutely. Is he calling me? Yes. As this realization dawned on me, I wanted to go into denial. My eyes welled up with tears and I had to leave the service. Maybe this was just my mind, and not the Holy Spirit speaking to me. Regardless, I was so distraught over this that I said, “Well, if I have to stay, I might as well get involved.” I volunteered for three events that day. Maybe that was a bit of an emotional decision. Thankfully two of the three are for one-time events.  But still, God could change his mind, couldn’t he? Not that he’s really known for that, but it happens. I took hold of one little word out of that entire sentence—You’re not done here yet. That last word, the word yet, gave me a bit of comfort. England may still be in the cards for the future, just not now.

If there was any niggling doubt left in my mind, it was solidified a week and a half later. This past Wednesday I went to my evening Theologizers group, and had my friend present me with a book I’d requested from him last week. It was a book by an author I greatly admire—Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove—who is a member of intentional community and the new monastic movement. I didn’t know what the book was called, but when my friend mentioned he had a few extra copies, I jumped at the chance to get one. As he handed over the book, I looked down at the title: The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But I knew exactly what I would find within the pages of the book. I left the meeting that night and walked to the bus stop, waiting for the number 8 to come and whisk me towards home. It was a balmy evening and I sat on the bench, waiting. I took out the book, and opened it, deciding to bite the proverbial bullet. The foreword was by another of my faith heroes, who is also an excellent author—Kathleen Norris (I don’t think she’s related to Chuck). As I began to read, I knew I was right. She spoke of the gutsy move it was for Wilson-Hartgrove to write a book on staying in place, building faith and community in a culture that is always encouraging to go bigger, go wider, go farther. She spoke of the roll that stability and putting down roots plays in developing our spiritual life, and the way that we only ever find true stability when we quit our wandering. In that place where we commit to our Christian community, our neighbhourhood and our city , we find out purpose. We find life. Life is relational, and relationships take time. The fulfilment that our culture is looking for by being constantly on the move can only be found when we slow down and take a closer look. Our society once again is grasping at straws in the dark. They don’t see the greater purpose, they don’t see where fulfilment can be found.

I’m only a couple of chapters into the book, but I’m already drafting my letter withdrawing my application for the position in London. I know that if I don’t do this, and they eventually offer me the position, that I wouldn’t be able to say no. I’ve always listened to the spirit in the past when he said, “Go.” What a hypocrite I’d be if I didn’t also listen when the message was, “Stay.”

So be careful what you pray for. Be careful when praying for wisdom and discernment about opportunities in your path. God answers prayer. Are you sure you want to know?

 

When God Says Stay.

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm

 

“You’re not done here yet.”

 

As I wrote the words, tears sprung up.

 

“Look at the opportunities I’ve placed before you. You’re not done here yet.”

 

With that, I had to get up and leave the service. I’m not big on crying in church.

 

A month and a half ago, a friend forwarded me a job posting that would place me in central London. I have a great love for England, and this seemed like the ideal way to get back there. The people who posted the application encouraged me to apply, stating that they would consider an overseas applicant, should there not be one found in the U.K.  I happily submitted my C.V. and had a friend willingly provide a glowing reference letter.

 

The past two weeks my schedule has been getting busier and busier. I’ve been meeting new and interesting people, and having lots of conversations with non-believers about the faith. God has opened up to me any number of opportunities for volunteerism, personal development, friendship, and spiritual growth. I also started to get the niggling feeling like England wasn’t going to happen, and this not because I might not get offered the job, but because there was so much for me to do in Edmonton. So many opportunities had come before me. I quashed the feeling saying, “God can use me wherever I am.”

 

Today in church however, I was listening to the sermon, doing Lectio Divina, and out of the blue the words cam, “You’re not done here yet.”  It didn’t even really fit with the theme or passage we were reading, but I knew without a doubt what it referred to. I spent the rest of the service struggling with the fact that I was being called to stay, instead of being called to go. I was being called to commit to this place for an indefinite amount of time. As a nomad, that scares me half to death. I love to move. I love to have new experiences, meet new people, see new places. I want to go back to England.

 

 

 

So many people refuse to go when God calls them to, whereas I’m willing to up and move as called upon. But when I’m asked to stay, it’s painful . I want to go. Yet, I acknowledge that there is no end of work here to be done in the name of Christ for the kingdom of God.

 

 

 

I feel like staying in Edmonton will relegate me to a small life. I don’t want a small life. I feel as though I will be kept from experiencing life in different places, as though it’s a bad thing. I keep on trying to tell myself that it’s not, but I can’t help but resent it a bit. I have wander lust, and this wanderer is being told to stay put.

 

 

 

I know why. The list was laid out for me, plain as day. It came to me shortly after the words, “You’re not done here yet.” Let me tell you, that list is not small. It includes providing support for certain key people, becoming an involved member of my church, developing Christ’s presence in my workplace and social sphere. I don’t want to get too detailed, as it would break trust of a few people. But I am definitely being called to stay. I told me sister this and she cheered. My heart was breaking a bit.

 

 

 

I’ve always told people to make sure they listen for God—to take his words seriously when he tells them to go. Some listen, some don’t. I’ve often used myself as an example of being willing to listen to God’s leading, to listen to the call to go. But that is so much easier when you want to go! Now, I find myself in the position of listening to God when he tells me to stay. It’s so much harder. I could ignore it, just as many people ignore the call to go, but really, that isn’t an option, is it? If I claim my faith as the foundation of my life, I would be a hypocrite to dispose of it because it doesn’t fit what I want. And isn’t a call a blessing? Isn’t it a blessing to receive guidance from one who knows me even better than myself? Isn’t it a blessing that the God of the universe who wants what is best for me is willing to guide me in that way? So I will listen. England, you’re just going to have to wait. 

 

Time Well Spent– or Not?

In Uncategorized on July 22, 2013 at 7:56 am

I’ve had writers block for days. Even when I consider posting something simple about life, just to keep you in the loop, I find myself floundering. Despite that, I pull out my laptop this morning, bolster myself with a large steaming mug of tea, and begin typing letter by letter on the keyboard.

I woke up this morning to the crack of thunder and a bright bolt of lightning. Actually, come to think of it, I might have already been awake and in that hazy, half-sleep mode. Regardless, I had to fight the urge to stay in bed, as the sound of raindrops began to fall on the roof. But then the mental war began. To get up and start the day, or go for twenty more minutes. Surprisingly, the first option won out. That hasn’t happened in a long time. And now, I am delighted to have time to write a post.

This summer has been a rainy one. As a prairie girl, it’s a bit of an oddity to me. I keep on intending to go out and work in the garden, just to have another thunder storm roll in. I’m afraid that some of the weeds in my yard have grown entirely too tall and have gone to seed. I’d like to say that I try to stay on top of it, as I know that once weeds go to seed, you’re just asking for trouble. But the truth is, I’ve been keeping busy with other things, and procrastinating when I have the time. Those mosquitoes drive me batty, and with all the rainy weather, there are swarms of them around.

Yesterday night was Home Church. It was just a bunch of the gals, ranging in age from 26-33. The discussion was actually supposed to be based around Messianic Jews, and while to a large extent it was, what really came out of the evening was something considerably different. We all talked about how we were doing in our faith walks, and not a one of us was content with where we were at. All of us felt like we were floundering a little. This isn’t the first time that this feeling has been espoused, so this week we decided to do something about it. Rather than just agreeing to keep each other accountable through checking in next week to see how we did, we recognized the need to be proactive. If we didn’t take daily steps towards a solution, we’d all just become a support group of our failure. That isn’t somewhere any of us wanted to go.

As it is, a few of us are looking to lose some weight, and one of the ways you successfully lose weight or become healthier, is by tracking or journaling what goes into your mouth. Based on that concept, we decided that a good way to kick off the change, would be to track how we were spending out time during the week. We also all went around the circle and said where we thought we’d see the most time being spent. For me, movies and TV tied with walking. The second is not so bad—exercise and, if I take the time to do so, chat with God. But the first two have an unhealthy control over my life. They are my go-tos at the end of a long day, and I think there needs to be some change there. With tracking this week, I’m looking forward to what it will reveal about me, and how it will make me reassess how I spend my time. Already I see it making a difference, in that I did get up to do my devotions this morning. Chalk one up to Home Church support and the grace of God.