Don’t sweat the small stuff

Do Christians strain out gnats and swallow camels? So asks this article that I read this morning. As Jesus lambastes the Pharisees, “…you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters…”

Of course, the answer is yes and no, both today and in history. My immediate thought is more to the “yes”, because of recent things I’ve heard–how a friend had to block the Christian guy on the dating site she was trying, and go out with the non-Christian; how my son has been so often “attacked” by Christians on the internet… But the author reminds us of some of the good things Christians have done, like playing a role “in every area of human flourishing: the creation of universities, hospitals and orphanages; the development of modern science and medicine; prison reform and the abolition of slavery; legal rights and protection of women, children and the disenfranchised.”

And “as Glenn Stanton observes”:

Look at the inner city in any decent size town. Find the soup kitchens, the hospitals, the substance recovery efforts, housing the homeless and so forth in any city. More than 90 per cent of the time, you will find these being founded and run by some arm of the Christian Church. . . . If the Church stopped doing all it does for the “least of these” tomorrow morning, the remarkable substance of that work would become tragically obvious within 24 hours and the State would crumble under the weight of needing to fill the void.

As much as we try to be gracious in our answer to the culture, people will be upset no matter what. “But failure to warn them of their dire spiritual condition is not love. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.”

As Jesus says in the very same reference used above (Matthew 23:23-24), “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”

 

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weeding, dusting, and church planting

It was such a short moment–flutter in, flutter out–that I almost forgot about it. Seeing my facebook post this morning reminded me to put on my shopping list: buy hummingbird feeder! Those tiny birds provide very short moments of delight, that’s just how they are. This one actually flew into the hot tub where we were, then out to a tree right beside the deck, as if to say: “Where’s my food?”

The last time I bought a hummingbird feeder was kind of embarrassing–why did I think such a thing would work in our back yard in Toronto!? But in Ottawa we DO have them in our back yard!

Something else that’s so neat about Ottawa, is the church we go to. I’m now into reading over the Perspective notes I made two years ago, and in this long post to start it off (some great stuff there), I’ve figured out a major reason why The Met is so successful: they do church planting. To quote directly from the study material, “Nothing else–not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, mega-churches, consulting, nor church renewal processes–will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.” Right now for example, we’re planting a church in Westboro, a suburb of Ottawa.

I participate in all these exciting things through prayer. Otherwise, my “important” jobs can be boiled down to two main things: if it’s nice outside, WEEDING, if not, DUSTING! The main floor has now all been dusted and I’m working my way upstairs; outside, I started weeding at the front, then did the back yard, then the sides, then the very back of the back yard, under the trees. After a few weeks of all this, it’ll soon be FINISHED!! HA!! :D

Never mind, the weeds don’t grow back as much as you’d think. The dust though, sometimes appears the next day where I just dusted. But what I’m really doing there, is going over every inch of my still-new home, spending time enjoying and being thankful for it, and everything in it!

*no-thumbnail-since-they-show-up-so-BIG lately, on facebook*

 

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The New Macho

Actually, it’s been quite awhile now, that we’ve been allowing our men to be “Mr. Mom”:

  • my Dad knit baby sweaters for all us kids;
  • my brothers always had to have their turn to wash dishes;
  • my son had his Dad in the delivery room (like most dads these days); who also rocked  him to sleep several times;
  • I can recall countless photos of my sister’s husband feeding and burping their babies;
  • several dads these days, leave it to their wives to “bring home the bacon”, and stay home to cook meals and look after the household (though not always by choice);
  • my niece’s husband, even though their newest child is number 6, wanted to take the baby out shopping–all by himself;
  • the oldest boy of that new-baby family, is just glowing with pride in all the photos of him holding her. Just look!

roselea and siblingsDylan was hoping for a boy, after all these girls, but he’s definitely not TOO disappointed about his FIVE sisters!! And you can see by this photo how much they love him! (It’s the twins who are hanging on him this time.)

All of the men I’ve just talked about consider themselves quite “macho” (some more than others, haha). And here’s the really neat thing, that just shows you how far we’ve come.

Dylan is a typical 11-year old, who loves mechanics, driving the 3-wheeler, etc. Not only does he comment that he’s missed having a baby in the house (after taking her from his mom when she was fussing, and successfully calming her down), he’s also expressed a willingness to change dirty diapers, AND–the other day he brought over a couple of his friends… He asked them if they wanted to hold his new little sister. They seemed quite at home about it, one of them commenting that she still has that “new-baby” smell.

Eleven-year old boys, calmly talking about new babies! :)

 

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To repeat: don’t repeat… :P

Since the beginning of time, it seems, people have been spreading stories. Stories that may have begun with some truth to them, or some that were completely the figment of someone’s imagination. People so often assume something to be true, even if no one has actually said it.

Today those stories spread at the speed of lightning. A friend of mine found an article about it, and it bears repeating: don’t repeat (a.k.a. “the Share button”) something before you check out whether or not it’s really true. One common sense thing to check: is this supposed amazing news being reported in other newsrooms.

The author of the above article is lambasting Christians for being naive (apparently he’s “told” them before), but the same hints/guidelines could go for anyone, sharing anything. (Well, almost anything.)

Some of the scams we’re getting to know. Like a couple of days ago, when I received a friend request from someone purporting to be my cousin. I don’t think many people were fooled. You feel like excusing people sometimes though; for example (from the article), something can seem to be from NBC, but if the url is nbc.com.co, you should know it’s not! (At least, now you’ll know.) Also, websites can be set up to look like the real thing, but if you click on some of the links, you discover that it’s just garbledy-gook.

That’s just a couple of the things I remember from the article, which would be a good one to read! And if you don’t have time to read it, just remember: don’t believe things you see on the internet, so quickly. And don’t hit the Share button unless you DO have time to check out what you’re sharing.

I’ve learned from past experience, to not even click Like unless I’ve taken the time to actually read what I’m Liking!

summer prof 2014

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A Year Like No Other Year

So, it’s all over now. Our first full year of living in our new home ended on July 3rd. It was a year so full of excitement and happiness, anticipation and feelings that only come once in a lifetime! Facebook reminds me of everything in its Memories thing, but I’ll NEVER forget them!!

  • Waking up the first morning here, to find that the rising sun comes in our bedroom window. <3
  • Discovering lots of “new” old things as we unpacked, that we hadn’t seen in weeks.
  • Being able to go over every piece of house decoration I owned, and enjoy finding a special spot for each (or, most of them).
  • Getting into the hot tub for the first time, after being on my feet all day!
  • A year ago this very day, I finally “found” My Spot: this very spot where I’m sitting now, in my Lazyboy, where I can either look outside at the beautiful trees in our back yard, or enjoy the summer sun flooding the kitchen!
  • Being able to have my parents drop in for tea! Or meet just for supper!
  • Soooo many firsts throughout the year of course; discovering the names of my trees and plants, exploring the amazing nature trails all around the whole residential area, and the Fall Colours (and all that raking), decorating for Christmas, cross-country skiing for the first time in years, etc. etc.

I could put exclamation marks after every single phrase above, haha. It’s kind of sad to think those feelings will never be again. Rej says we could always move again, HA!

Before it all started, there certainly was some nervousness about whether or not we were doing the right thing–uprooting ourselves after 33 years in one home, especially for Sam, who had never known anything different. I remember hoping and praying for some kind of “sign”, something kind of miraculous that would confirm that we had indeed, made the right decision. It never really came, but perhaps instead of a “miracle”, there are all these “normal-type” things.

One year ago today we also attended The Met for the first time. This was something else that felt “iffy”, only because it is such a huge church, with 10+ pastors, and at least as many more people on staff. We all had positive vibes after that first service, but it has been hard enough getting to know people, in spite of how they work at urging you to get connected in smaller groups. We’re getting there.

Last week I found myself wishing that they could have the children more involved in the service. This is something we’d learned at our former church: that kids have a lot to contribute; and First Alliance, the new church we’d started attending in Toronto, was also very good at it. So I was very happy yesterday when the music team sang a couple of songs especially for the kids, after making them stand up (being the first Sunday that there was no Sunday School, since the teachers take a break for the summer).

Lots of little things add up to Big, I think!

summer prof 2014

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loving by disagreeing

At the best of times, I’m just not very good at arguing/debating things; but there a couple of issues these days that are by nature personal. Therefore it’s hard not to get emotional in the discussions, and when people get emotional, it’s very difficult to be clear–and to see clearly.

Not only are the issues by nature personal, but by now most of us know someone who we would rather not hurt.

So many people are saying that we should support them, and “let them be happy”. Remember that “letting people be happy” is not always the best thing for them. I guess it all comes down to whether or not you believe that they are hurting themselves, as happy as they are at the moment. My support for them, would be to lovingly, grievingly, disagree with their lifestyle, because I do believe that they are hurting themselves.

It would be easier to just go along with what so many people are saying/doing/accepting. My problem is, because I/God loves: what if someday, the person in the harmful lifestyle has a twinge of thinking maybe they have been wrong? What if they look around and can find no one who believes otherwise? That pinprick of light will soon die.

So, even if I can’t trust myself to get into the argument, I want to just “be there”, as someone who disagrees. My support for people will be silent (they are not ready to hear me anyway, even if I was more articulate), almost secret–but hopefully visible.

“People…. are defenseless against our prayers.”

user looking out

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One Year Ago Today

That was a feeling I’ll never forget: pulling away from 83 Glencoyne Crescent, Toronto, for the last time, one year ago today. I felt like yelling: “AAAAHHHHHHH”, which looks like a huge sigh in my status update last year, but actually it’s meant to be a LOUD sigh! Rej and Sam thought I burst into tears for sadness, but that was not it!

It had been such a huge, huge job, and now it was finally done. The trailer had already been brought to my parents’ place, and behind was a UHaul packed full of all our remaining worldly goods, to be parked at my parents’ place as well, until July 3rd. We were now “homeless”.

Dustie was quiet for the trip, after having a small portion of a gravol tablet shoved down her throat.

This is why I love this memory thing that Facebook does. So many exciting statuses for me to go over, these days, for last year! Including the comments, like: “Welcome home” from my brother; someone else saying that Ottawa was having a big Welcome Party for us on July 1st, lol. And then there was me, as we drove into Ottawa, getting all mixed up and counting my little family as 3,000 people: “Welcome to Ottawa, Population 903,000″, which of course I edited to “900,003”.

That’s HALF the size of the city we left! And our new home feels like twice the size! We went from a city of the Lake, to a city of Rivers and canals…. while we did get to Lake Ontario from time to time, we didn’t visit it as often as we should have (there’s a beautiful cliff-y shore park that we were only at once); it’s hard to escape the beautiful  Rideau River and canal here in Ottawa, and of course, if you get away from those, there’s the Ottawa River.

I think I said all that in another place. Happy Canada Day!

summer prof 2014

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So many pleasures

I should have gone for a walk. I could have been catching up on all my friends, or Pinterest (which I only joined because of not being able to see something in a search I was doing once–yeah, sucked in!) But my final decision was to just lie back on my deck chair, plug in my audio book, and watch the sky.

This is something I haven’t done for ages, since my habit is to listen to my book when I go to bed at night. That isn’t working so well any more, because it usually puts me right to sleep. Or, it feels so good to be able to stay awake for it, that I keep reading into the early hours of the morning. So reading during the day I used to do only during vacation. Memories of those vacations, and watching the sky, made me know it was time to do this.

What a beautiful, changing, fascinating sky it was yesterday evening! From fluffy white clouds to shades of slate grey, to smoky, feathery things, luminescent with the about-to-set sun, and back to fluffy white again. It didn’t matter that my book was only semi-interesting.

The other thing to enjoy from my deck chair these days, is my bird-feeding tree! I posted so much about it on Facebook, I should have just done a post about it here! So this is it. ;)

When I was trying to figure out what this tree was last year, it seemed likely that it was a serviceberry tree, except for one confusing fact: there were no berries on it. The lady at the garden store seemed to think it couldn’t then, be a serviceberry tree. However, I did find on google, that the berries get eaten up very fast by the birds.

This year, I know that’s true! In fact, one doesn’t need a bird feeder at all, with one of these trees; except for the fact that it’s hard to take photos with all those leaves in the way. My chair is not very far from the tree at all (the tree is right at the corner of the deck), and the birds keep coming even while I’m sitting there–lots of robins, swallows, and even a pair of yellow finches, that keep coming back! Sam even had a bird graze his ear, as it flew by the other day.

Meanwhile, I’m still enjoying and falling more in love with all my other trees! In spite of having a yard all of bricks and rock (in which the weeds still grew like crazy and had to be pulled, but seem not to grow back too quickly), there is a little garden out front, on each side of the driveway. My choices for new plants this year: lilac (actually planted last fall, and didn’t bloom this year), forget-me-nots, maidenhair fern (these two from my parents’ place, where they grow wild), wooly thyme and regular thyme, and if I can ever find some white allysum, I’ll plant some of that. I’ve also let some lovely weeds grow this year: purple vetch (controlled to one spot), yellow daisies, yellow snapdragons, and of course milkweed, which is so necessary for the depleting population of monarch butterflies.

Meanwhile, my plants inside are doing well! Most of them were given to me by my Mom, who took cuttings from her own plants: golden/devil’s ivy, a miniature ivy that I love (well, small anyway), prayer plant, regular-size ivy, and the Christmas cactus that I bought is sprouting all kinds of new leaves! Oh, and the Anthium orchid that was given to us from friends who moved here from Toronto several years ago, is sprouting new “blooms” to replace the ones that finished.

Happy Summer!!

summer prof 2014

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wild projects

Just a couple of thoughts from my morning readings:

  • In Matthew, Jesus talked about those who want to be first, have to be last–a servant. It didn’t seem like he was saying that’s a punishment for wanting to be first. But, a person like me would say, why does anyone want to be first, anyway? One tends to think that desire only comes from self-pride. However, Jesus really doesn’t seem to be suggesting that it’s a bad thing, to want to be first. Perhaps it’s just a characteristic of those who are gifted for leadership. And of course, good leaders learn to be servants, serving while they’re leading.
  • In Exodus, I’m up to the part where God is giving Moses all the detailed instructions for the tabernacle. I can’t help but wonder if those with whom Moses first shares this “wild project”, feel like I do when Rej talks about the plans for our bitcoin business. A bit scared about how this will ever be done. But they know from experience that Moses is mostly right (Rej is sometimes right), so they go along with it. ;)

Speaking of following instructions, be sure to listen to your doctor when he/she says to take Tylenol! I only had extra-strength Advil. The narcotic prescription wasn’t working for the pain, so I ended up over-dosing on Advil. The upset stomach came so suddenly, and felt so terrible, that I’m forever nervous about taking too much of something again, taking it without food, feeling a little “hungry” (or am I sick, like before?) Anyway, I’m on Celebrex now, and even though it took a little while to work (I put up with a night of pain rather than go through that sickness again), it has finally kicked in, YAY! (This is all from that operation I had on my ear.)

It’s a good day!

head shot from Crystal's wedding

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still here!

Boy, I sure don’t post much any more, do I? I’m moving into just reading over the past stuff, it seems. Not that I’m crazy about myself/my writing, but there are lots of quotes, poems, sermon notes, etc. to read again. One could have fun just clicking on various tags, too.

For example, I’ve just read over a post about running, which included a couple of excellent verses to go with it: “You were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6:20); and, as a reminder that everything we do should be worship (John Piper): “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31). These verses could be theme ones for me, as I try to get in shape!

Speaking of which, we read an article the other day that says “the war on fat is over”! This is according to some new science, and was published in Times. Apparently, you can eat fat to get skinny!! The diet that was vindicated with this new discovery, is the ketogenic diet, or the Atkins diet. It has to do with your metabolism: eating fat makes you feel more full. But to lose the weight, you have to cut waaaay down on carbs, meaning sugar in ALL its forms. It sounds like the drastic diet Sam was on years ago–no grains or starches of any kind, etc. But, you also are not supposed to eat any fruit!! How can that possibly be healthy!! Oh well, at least maybe I don’t have to feel so bad that Sam & I just can’t seem to eat fruit every day. Or that we love to eat some sausage or bacon.

Sugar is a real addiction, that’s for sure, as is flour. At least I should try to cut down on those things; even though my doctor check-ups always show that my sugar is fine.

What I should be talking about today, is the operation I had yesterday! Just a little, tiny, cancer spot in my ear–basel cell carcinoma, which you probably know, is a very benign type of skin cancer. Yes, skin cancer in my ear! Apparently, it does happen. Anyway, the cancer part did not make me nervous at all, it was just the idea of having to be put to sleep. So the anesthesia doctor assured me that he was only going to give me a very small amount, because it was a short operation. Surprisingly though, it took me quite awhile to recover from that “small amount”–they let me go a couple of hours later than I thought I’d be out, and I was feeling very groggy and sick still, at home. Back to myself today though.

Yesterday was a day to benefit from my family’s serving! My Dad was here early to drive me there, and drive Rej around shopping afterwards, then wait and wait at the hospital. Sam was an excellent caregiver for finding things I needed around the house, and deciding what to get me for supper (mmmmm, such delicious garlic bread!) That’s my One Word for this year, “service”… didn’t think it would include others serving ME though!

Well, Rej & I did “serve” at The Big Give, last Saturday, a type of garage sale that several churches do, where everything is free for those who need it. Our job was to “mingle”, and help where needed. The hardest part for Rej, was our turn at standing at the road holding up signs. Just standing doing nothing, basically, was a long half hour.

So, have I made up for not posting for awhile? ;)

head shot from Crystal's wedding

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