Friday, April 30, 2010

Spiritual Food

I'm really liking the sermons here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shaky Thoughts

So... I don't tend to dwell on things like the rapture, the end of the world, or events in the book of Revelation; a lot of Revelation goes over my head, and as far as the end of the world, I kinda really don't care.

Still... an earthquake in Haiti, an earthquake in Chile, an earthquake in Japan, an earthquake in California, and a volcanic eruption in Iceland. The globe seems to be averaging one major disaster a month... does that seem like a high frequency to just me?

Would we even know if it was God starting to set His Revelation plan into action or if it was just the world "burping"?

And should it change anything?


PPrincess has done this occasionally with the DVD player and my cell phone (if it's on vibrate). Not quite as intensely, mind you, but nevertheless, good free entertainment value!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Day That Rocked!

I can't even describe how much today has rocked, but I'm sure as heck gonna try. From the moment I got up this morning, the day has just rolled out so nicely!

1. Apparently, I woke up at the exact right moment in my sleep cycle, because despite only six hours of sleep, I did not have to drag myself out of bed, and did not have the usual almost-Friday function inertia to deal with.

2. I think this was the first day since my new condo-for-sale-cleaning-regime that I got out the door on time!

3. Despite my uncharacteristic a.m. get-up-and-go, I still decided to play it safe and have my morning coffee. And why brew your own when Starbucks is offering free coffee to promote eco-friendly beverage holders? I have a beverage holder. I like free coffee.

3b. And I especially like their Pike Place blend. I couldn't actually tell you if it tastes superior to other blends. I don't drink any one coffee frequently enough to know one blend's taste intuitively. But it's called the "Pike Place" blend. It's a good coffee on the name alone! (and if you don't get why there's a warm fuzzy association, you need to follow up this post by reading here and then here).

4. Spent the morning with Cutie #1. Spent a good chunk of that time outside under the cloudless sky. While an April Alberta morning is still a bit 'crisp', the sun was warm through the clothing, and so refreshingly bright!

5. Drove to Cutie #2's house with the car window rolled down.

6. My otherwise usual lunch today was accented with fruit salad from JM. One thing we agree on is that fruit salad actually needs to be fruit salad. Not just honeydew and canteloupe chunks. In fact, no honeydew or canteloupe chunks. Grapes, apple, orange, mango, blackberries, and raspberries--that's what was in my fruit salad. And like I told JM, it was like summer time in my mouth!

7. Spent the afternoon with Cutie #2. Also spent a good chunk of that time outside under the [still] cloudless sky. Except even better cuz now it was warm enough that I didn't need the hoodie.

8. Played in awe as Cutie #2 conquered new things and showed off new skills!

9. Drove home with the car window rolled down.

10. Sat on the deck for 45 minutes enjoying still more sunshine and a good book.

11. Ate supper that I didn't have to make myself.

12. Drove (still with the window down) to the River Valley for my first ever Edmonton Outdoor Club (EOC) event. I scaled Glenora Stairs (202 stairs from the bottom of the valley to the top) 4 1/2 times, followed by a 90-minute walk along the trails in the setting sun. Flexed my social self in a new setting (this might come back to bite me later). Educated people about special needs. And, as one lady pointed out to me, was not huffing and puffing by the end of it.

13. Came home. Treated my well-worked legs and feet to a hot bath before settling on the couch for CSI.

I have now reached bed time. It is cozy there among the pillows, blankets, and felines. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Most Intense

Probably one of the most intense and yet most real sermons I've heard in a while. It's almost an hour long, but if you are looking for some good, spiritual brain food to 'chew' on, this sermon on Sanctification in Marriage is a good one.

And after that, if you're like me, and wanting to listen to other sermons from this church, you will want to go here.

Joy--There's An App For That!

I'm pretty sure that yesterday was an example of the way God designed community to be. And I got to be smack dab in the middle of of it all!

It started out with a birthday party. I have been working all year with a little guy, J, who just turned six, and I was invited to his birthday party at Galaxy Land. My respite family was also invited, having met J at our office's Winter Festival at the end of February. So I picked up S and we headed to the party. We met family. Ate pizza and birthday cake. And we enjoyed the rides (S took me on the Cosmic Bounce [read: miniature Drop of Doom] three times!). It was such a treat to be a part of the celebrations. J and his family looked like they were having a ton of fun, and it's nice to be able to chill with kids from work but not have to make them 'work'! I also love it when the families I work with can interact and connect with each other outside of office functions. AND it was so nice to be able to take S out for an aunty-and-niece afternoon. I have been working with N&S and the kids for almost four years, and the enthusiasm with which I took S to this party just reminded me how much they really are my second family. I could have gone on that Cosmic Bounce with S indefinitely, just for the joy of sharing the activity with her!

After J's party, I shifted gears for SC's birthday. Just a slightly different affair. But just as much fun! SC got a pasta-maker for her birthday, so we all had home-made pasta for supper. Four foodies and two non, and yet all six of us were fully and enthusiastically engaged in the pasta creation and production. I think at one point we were even cheering each other on! So fun! After the most yummiest of suppers, we continued to celebrate with dessert, drinks, gift-opening, and post-supper conversation. The atmosphere was light-hearted and peaceful. Added to the beauty, mind you, was the conversation itself.

A significant portion of the evening included stories of one person, or their friends or family, helping out someone else in the group in some way, or vice versa. The stories were so uplifting and positive. I thought, this is how community is supposed to be! Having the means to help friends in their circumstances; caring about the people and the things they care about; being purposefully engaged in the goings-on of their worlds; the fluid interaction and overlap of social circles. And all of it being so... valued! ...Like, "of course I can help you figure out that!" or "of course I want to be a part of that!"

"We don't accomplish anything in this world alone ... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something." -- Sandra Day O'Connor

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Joy Comes!

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I was running the projector for the interface worship service that was held tonight at St. Paul's. Through art and liturgy and music, the worship service is meant to facilitate listening to the Holy Spirit. The theme of the Holy Saturday service is the Rending of the Veil, which refers to the veil that was torn at the time of Christ's death, symbolizing the direct relationship now available between man and God. A member of the congregation gave a small talk on suffering, touching on Christ's suffering, the suffering that happens to us today, etc. Following the talk was a meditative time. Often there is a slide show running during this time for those who prefer to meditate with visuals. Because I was running the projector, I also monitored the slide show.

The slides were portraits (photos, paintings, drawings) of both random people and Jesus (kind of alternating back and forth). It started out that in all the portraits, the facial expressions or poses portrayed suffering, pain, sadness--that sort of thing (similar to the photo on the left [not mine]). I didn't much like the pictures, although many were very striking. And yet my strong interest in looking at pictures kept me watching each one. The thoughts running through my head were things like, we suffer, He suffered; our suffering doesn't compare to His; there is a time for suffering; suffering is universal. And I could totally appreciate those truths in my head. In my heart, however, was an underlying feeling I couldn't describe right away. There was a part of me that was keeping track of the number of slides viewed relative to the total number in the presentation, because as engaged as I was in the photos, I kinda just wanted to be at the end of them. Kind of like how a person watches the clock in a boring class. You know you have to be there, and that the information presented is important, but if it wasn't necessary, you'd totally be elsewhere.

About half way through the slide show, there was an image of Christ with His arms outstretched upwards, His face towards the sky, and His facial expression kind of neutral. The slide after that was a photo of a little girl with her arms outstretched, and with a silly, sticking-out-her-tongue facial expression. It caught my attention; this child was definitely not suffering! The images following still alternated between photos of people and portraits of Christ; however, in each image now, the facial expressions were happy, smiling, laughing. I quickly realized I had a subtle smile on my own face; the same kind I get when I watch my nieces and nephew play, or when I'm looking at photos of a past event I've shared with friends. I suddenly liked looking at the images a lot more!

After the slide show had ended, I realized that the process (on screen and in my head/heart) kinda mirrored the process that happens in real life. We know that suffering happens. We wouldn't ask for it, and given other options, I'm sure many of us would choose the out rather than the pain. We don't suffer all the time--we're not meant to. But because we live in a fallen world, we know that we will experience suffering, and that God sometimes places us in those circumstances to "grow us" in some respect. Still, I would have to say that I tend to move through times of hardship in a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of manner. It's a time when I know God's truths in my head, but I don't really feel it so much in my heart. And I'm continually looking at the clock and wondering when it will just be over. ...And then there is a moment where it changes. A blessing; a healing; a realization. And I notice that the growing pains are gone, and the suffering has stopped. The blessing washes in and lightens the heart.

The disciples probably knew in their heads the promises Jesus had made right before His crucifixion. But how long those three days must have felt. Even Jesus had moments where He just wanted it to be over (Mark 14:36; Mark 15:34). Yet when we suffer, we grow by remaining engaged in Him, even though our heart doesn't like it and we feel like it's just our head that's keeping us going. But engagement heightens awareness, which heightens our relationship with God, and opens the door for His Spirit to work in us. And we then also become more acutely aware of when circumstances shift. And the next time we encounter suffering--whether in our lives or those of others--maybe we find ourselves looking at the clock just a little less often.

...It's almost Sunday. The suffering is done. Time to get your joy on.