January 31, 2008

Things To Think On

from d-ray:

"In real life, if you just press the B-button fast enough, everything goes back to normal."

"Counselling is like the modern-day, Protestant version of confession."

from Laura:
kiva.org

January 27, 2008

Success

Today was possibly my favourite Saturday of the year.

I know, it hasn't been a long run yet. But still. I slept in. I did laundry. I was creative (spurred on by my friends & a slight sense of envy, I am hoping to be more purposeful in doing some creative writing). I had a successful trip to the Metropolis at Metrotown.

Purchased: one specific sort of lightbulb for my new desk lamp. Two pairs of Costa Blanca pants for $10, regularly $40 each! One hoodie that has a nice design on it and won't pill in two months.

Wendy and I turned our trip into a full-day event, grabbing supper and watching 27 Dresses. A quite enjoyable chick-flick, although the theme of disastrous newspaper articles is a bit overdone.

The funniest moment of the day was on our way to the car in Metrotown's underground parkade. What's that on our left? There's someone sitting in the car? No wait! There are two people in that car. On the same seat? Oh wait...


Moral of the story: if you're going to make out in the front seat of a well-lit parkade, pick a spot more than ten spaces from the elevator.

January 24, 2008

Thins

I don't usually like store bought cookies. I much prefer the handmade with love variety.

But these! Mmmmm. I could eat them all day. The way they melt in your mouth. The warmth of ginger with sugar. Mmmmm.

January 22, 2008

Sadness

Yesterday I was asked, "What makes you sad?"

And I couldn't really answer without being trite. But today I can.

What makes me sad?

Heath Ledger dead. Possibly of an overdose.
Amy Winhouse filmed smoking crack.
Britney Spears looking to get pregnant.

But it's not just a problem "out there" that makes me sad.

Someone answered, in the 'what-makes-you-sad' conversation, that they're saddened by the atrocities people commit against each other in situations like the Holocaust and genocides in Rwanda and other places. The way it was said, I thought it sounded like 'I can't believe people can do that to each other!' And it reminded me of two things.

I recently listened to Tim Keller talk (not in person) about our difficulty forgiving certain actions or sins of others. And the reason we can't forgive, he said, is that we imagine ourselves to be above that sort of sin. There is an Other - the sinful person - and there is Us - the person who would never do "that."

Donald Miller tells this story:
"It's terrible," I told him. "Two and a half million people dead. In one village they interviewed about fifty or so women. All of them had been raped, most of them numerous times."

Tony shook his head. "That is amazing. It is so difficult to even process how things like that can happen."

"I know. I can't get my mind around it. I keep wondering how people could do things like that."

"Do you think you could do something like that, Don?" Tony looked at me pretty seriously. I honestly couldn't believe he was asking the question.

"What are you talking about?" I asked.

"Are you capable of murder or rape or any of the stuff that is taking place over there?"

"No."

"So you're not capable of any of those things?" he asked again. He packed his pipe and looked at me to confirm my answer.

"No, I couldn't," I told him. "What are you getting at?"

"I just want to know what makes those guys over there any different from you and me. They are human. We are human. Why are we any better than them, you know?"

Tony had me on this one. If I answered his question by saying yes, I could commit those atrocities, that would make me evil, but if I answered no, it would suggest I believed I am better evolved than some of the men in the Congo. And then I would have some explaining to do.

"You believe we are capable of those things, don't you, Tony?"

He lit his pipe and breathed in until the tobacco glowed orange and let out a cloud of smoke. "I think so, Don. I don't know how else to answer the question."
...
I hate this more than anything. This is the hardest principle within Christian spirituality for me to deal with. The problem is not out there; the problem is the needy beast of a thing that lives in my chest.
To which I say, Amen.

January 21, 2008

Something's Gotta Give

In the stress I've felt over the past few weeks, these three verses from Isaiah have been incredibly encouraging. To know that Jesus says these same things to me...

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, 'In repentance and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.'
Isaiah 30:15a

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'
Isaiah 30:21

'Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters,
and you who have no money,
buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.'
Isaiah 55:1

January 16, 2008

des Pensées

I have a book idea. I actually like it. And I might actually do something about it.

Sunshine on Tuesday morning is God's gift to my staff team.

It is hard to get up before the sun. And I dislike working after dark.

There is enough chocolate in my room to last me til April. I wonder if it will.

Blaise Pascal wrote the following and then sewed into into his clothing after coming to know Jesus:

Certitude. Certitude. Emotion. Joy. Peace...Total and gentle resignation. Total submission to Jesus Christ.

January 15, 2008

On Dysfunction and Poverty

I have been thinking a lot recently about family. I have had all manner of thoughts. Some good, some bad. Some that are neither morally right nor wrong. But I've been thinking.

And I've been reading. Specifically, the Bible. I'm reading through the Bible in a year, and so these past few weeks have brought me up to chapter 31, verse 16 of Genesis. And already, I'm noticing that Biblical families are highly dysfunctional. They are a far cry from the happy church family that I envision as a "godly" group of people. And the weirdest thing is that their inner turmoil was made public. I can't help but ask why. And I can't help but wonder how/where their righteousness comes from. It certainly wasn't from being morally upright. So why did God choose them? Why would God say, "This is the line I want to call my own."?

Abraham - lied about his wife, tried taking God's promises into his own hands (ie Hagar)

Jacob - generally deceived his way through life, had much tension between his wives

David - cheated with a close friend's wife, son raped his sister, other sons rebelled mightily

Job - wife wanted him to curse God and die

and so on...

I think the answer is connected to a discussion we had at my church small group tonight. The sermon yesterday was the first in a series going through the sermon on the mount. We made it as far as "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Tonight we talked extensively about what it means to be "poor in spirit."

Abraham: "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes." (Gen. 18:27)

Jacob: "I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps." (Gen. 32:10)

David: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps. 51:17)

Job: "I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6)

Isaiah: "And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!'" (I. 6:5)

And into the New Testament -

John the Baptist: "He [Jesus] who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie...He must increase, but I must decrease." (Jn. 1:27, 3:30)

Peter: "But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.'" (Lk. 5:8)

Paul: "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.." (Rom. 7:18)

January 11, 2008

I Spy Blue Sky

Maybe it was the jagged blue between the clouds. Maybe it was the fact that by 9am, I'd put in more than an hour of work. Maybe it was the way credit companies practically throw money at you. Maybe it was the good feeling of knowing my credit rating is perfect. Maybe it was the sound of the UK accent. Maybe it was knowing that today is Friday. Maybe it was wearing my amazing new MEC booties courtesy of the boys downstairs.

Some thing(s) told me that today is going to be better than yesterday.

January 8, 2008

Wayback Playback

On the front of one of my journals from the summer of 2004, I wrote this quote:

Damned be this tepidity.
~Jim Elliot


I still find is stirring. Perhaps because it's a legitimate use of the word damn. Perhaps because I struggle with apathy. Perhaps its for both reasons.

January 7, 2008

1-1, 2-2, 3- No 3!?

A perfect solution to mismatched socks for men. Especially if you're Danish.

I particularly like "Mom's Advice."

Good Morning, Monday

As I work at my desk today, these are the two songs I could listen to on repeat:

Beautiful You by Monk & Neagle
All the oceans and the seas know the sound
Of Your beautiful voice
And if You tell them to be calm and be still
They have no other choice

You put the stars in the sky and then You taught them to shine
They know just what to do
Every morning’s a symphony that’s perfectly timed
Thanks to beautiful You

Beautiful You
I can’t imagine life without You
Beautiful You
I can’t imagine being alone
Beautiful You
The only thing I ever wanna do
Beautiful You
Is have You hold me in Your arms
Beautiful You

All the waterfalls know just where to fall
Brilliant every time
When it rains, you are behind it all
With gentle rhythm and rhyme

Mountains high know Your voice
And they are ready to move where You tell them to
With all my heart, I believe that I can do the same
Thanks to beautiful You

Every ocean, every sea
Every morning’s a symphony
Every drop of rain, every waterfall
All the stars in the sky are so beautiful
Every breath I breathe, every beat of my heart
I feel so alive ‘cause of who You are
Every day I rise, every time I sing
I’m reminded of Your great love for me
You’re beautiful, so beautiful


Stop This Train by John Mayer
No, I'm not colorblind
I know the world is black and white
Try to keep an open mind
But I just can't sleep on this tonight

Stop this train
I wanna get off
And go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can
But honestly, won't someone stop this train?

Don't know how else to say it
Don't want to see my parents go
One generation's length away
From fighting life out on my own

Stop this train
I wanna get off
And go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can
But honestly, won't someone stop this train?

So scared of getting older
I'm only good at being young
So I play the numbers game
To find a way to say that life has just begun

Had a talk with my old man
Said "help me understand"
He said "turn sixty-eight
You renegotiate"

"Don't stop this train
Don't for a minute change the place you're in
And don't think I couldn't ever understand
I tried my hand
John, honestly we'll never stop this train"

Once in awhile, when it's good
It'll feel like it should
And they're all still around
And you're still safe and sound
And you don't miss a thing
Till you cry when you're driving away in the dark
Singing

Stop this train
I wanna get off
And go home again
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can
Cause now I see I will never stop this train

January 5, 2008

Resolved.

I've left this one for a few days, as I don't particularly like resolutions. I don't like the fear of failure. And my resolutions will never be as grandiose, spiritual, and honest as Jonathan Edwards'.

Regardless. Here are my....let's call them hopes for the new year.

1. To read through the Bible.
2. To run at least one 5k (my attempts last year were thwarted).
3. To read a non-essential book every month.
4. To intentionally improve musically. Either learning a new instrument (jambe or blues harp) or going back to one I already 'know' (piano, guitar, or penny whistle).
5. To memorize James. I've started this a few times, and it would feel really good to finish it.
6. To be my sister's maid of honour. Ok, this isn't a resolution at all. It's just going to happen. CONGRATS, SARAH & LALO!
7. To intentionally improve my photography skills.
8. To pray more.
9. To do at least one thing that honestly frightens me.
10. To walk closely with God on a daily basis, not thinking I can dabble here and there where I will.

January 4, 2008

Already Behind (Another List)

I sometimes joke about having adult-onset ADD when it comes to books. For an English Lit major, I lack discipline in finishing books. Perhaps because I didn't always have to in school...Anyway, the result is that I own piles of unfinished or unstarted books. I would like to read at least a book a month this year. And I'd like to mix it up.

Of the books currently on my shelf, I want to read:

Simone Weil (a biography) by Francine du Plessix Gray
The Invisible Bond by Barbara Wilson
Eric Liddell: Pure Gold (a biography) by David McCasland
The Book That Transforms Nations by Loren Cunningham
God's Gravity (the upside-down life of selfless faith) by Craig Borlase
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (ironically I quit reading this in the middle of the chapter on fasting sometime during second year)

If I add these half-dozen outside books, I've got a book a month:

The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
Musicophilia: Tales of Music & the Brain by Oliver Sacks
I am America (and So Can You!) by Stephen Colbert
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

January 3, 2008

I (Heart) Music. And I Always Will.

If your name is Mat(t) and you are a musician, I probably like your music. For example: Mat Kearney, Matt Walko, Matt Wertz, Matthew Good, Matt Costa.

But onto discoveries of 2007. I've deliberated much, and finalized the following songs as my best new finds:

Cold Water by Damien Rice
Inevitable by Anberlin
You Are Mine by Mutemath
All The Way Down by Glen Hansard
Giving Up by Ingrid Michaelson

Honourable mentions go to these songs I love, by bands I knew before '07:
Look After You by The Fray
To Be Alone With You by Sufjan Stevens
Til Kingdom Come covered by Coldplay
Song of Hope by Robbie Seay Band
When I Was a Young Girl by Feist

Journals


I opened up my box of journals and organized them according to date. I'm actually pretty excited to read through some of them, although I won't make it through the whole series. I started keeping a (prayer) journal in 2001. I am currently on book #22.

I don't really keep daily logs of activities. I'm much more diary-like on here, more prayer-like on paper. Actually, I would like to someday line up my blog entries with the journal entries from the same dates. Or around the same dates. I think it would be telling, although I'm not sure what it would say, exactly.

Having typed out my entries from the past six years, I wonder if this actually is any sort of good idea. I'm not sure. But I've done all the typing, and I do believe in transparency. Judge how you will, here are the "highlights" of my prayers from Day 1.

2002 (gr. 12, spent with my friend, "F")
Thank you for today. Thank you for a new year! Thank you for yesterday and the good time I had [with] F. Thank you for last year, for all the things you taught me, all that you brought me through. Thank you for being my God.
Lord, help me make this year a truly great one. Help me to serve you fully, to search after you and honour you in all I do. Teach me great things! Show me your love and power in awesome ways...
Thank you again for bringing me here. I know I am part of your great plan, and I pray that I would be so even more this year! I love you. Amen.

2003 (1st year, sick at a stranger's house)
I thank you for this past year. Thank you for all the experiences that you have brought me through. Thank you that you continue to teach and stretch me.
Father, my prayer for this next year is that you mold me into a woman after your heart. Break my heart with the things that break yours...
Help me to develop a servant's heart. God, humble me and help me to love through my actions. May your love be evident in me and my deeds...(edited boy content)
Give me a passion, Lord, for You and Your plan. May You and You alone be my focus. Take away distractions and help me to live for You alone.
God, I thank you for the lessons I know you have in store for me. May they draw me closer to you and deepen my love for You...

2004 (2nd year, first conference, spiritually high - suite upgrade!)
The last five days have been absolutely phenomenal - it has been so challenging, encouraging, refreshing, and draining all at the same time. Thank you, Father, for speaking to me, for convicting me, for encouraging me where I am blameless and also challenging me to walk more deeply with You.
Forgive my pride, for wanting people to notice me in worship & in positions of leadership. I confess this, Lord, and want no part in it. Keep me humble before you, and if that means not serving in leadership, help me to serve willingly wherever you would have me...(edited boy content)
Guide me this semester as I spend more and more time with You. Make me attentive to your voice and willing to follow Your leading.
Father, for my inheritance, I ask for the lost; that you would save others who are perishing & so desperate for you. Amen.

2005 (3rd year, second conference, spiritually low)
These days have been so busy - I must admit I'm looking for a few days of relaxation. Thank you, Lord, for all that's gone on in these last days.
Thank you for my visiting with Y. I am so blessed by her friendship & her wisdom. Thank you for her understanding & willingness to listen to what's been going on in my heart. Thank you that you have been teaching us some of the same lessons. Father, I pray that you would continue to heal her. May she pace herself well & may this semester be a good, relaxed one for her. Show me how I can aid, encourage & bless her...
...(edited boy content)...
Finally, Lord, thank you for tonight's talk with my mom. Thank you for her wisdom & for the better understanding I have of her thoughts. May we both be patient and careful in our romantic curiousity, allowing You to work in Your time. Thank you for her love for me.
May I be diligent, Lord, in guarding and fighting for my thoughts. Win the battles of my mind! In the name of Jesus, Amen.

2006 (4th year, third conference, sick again - clarification comes)
Thank you, Father, for today. Thank you that I had a good sleep last night & thank You for all the time I was able to spend with Y. Lord, may I be careful not to cling to her selfishly this semester.
God, I am so afraid of the future - of growing up, of joining a ministry & raising support, of being single, even of moving home for a time. I give these all to You. You are bigger than each one. You love me more than I can imagine, and You have better plans for me than I have for myself. Forgive me for my lack of trust. Replace my heart of fear with a heart of fire...(edited boy content)...

2007 (done school, fourth conference, #1 in the west)
Thank you for safe travels today. And thank You, God, for a great end to conference. As I think about switching gears and being back here in Vancouver, I want to say again that I need You. Desperately. I am way over my head & out of my league. be my everything. Guide, lead, use me. I put myself in Your hands.

2008 (still not in school, fifth conference, #2 in the west)
Jesus, You are so faithful, & I am somewhat excited for what this year will hold...I pray that my heart would be soft towards You & that I would love Your Word more & more.
Jesus, it's obvious to me that there will be struggles in my heart, as always...(edited boy content)...May I trust You & walk confidently & peacefully in Your plans for me. Give me a heart that desires to serve and bless, and not just feel good. I know that I need You. Without You - Your Word & Your love - I know my life will be about nothing but myself. Keep me from that trap.
May X & Z know Your hope this week. And may they start to experience Your healing too.

January 2, 2008

2008

It's been a long time since I've gone a week without posting anything on here. It actually felt good. It had nothing to do with the holidays, and I contemplated disbanding the blog altogether. Then last night, as I lay in a B-rate, courtesy-of-WestJet hotel in Leduc, trying to fall asleep so I could be up for my 5:55 shuttle to catch my flight home, I changed my mind. I came up with several "first blog of the year" ideas.

They include:

- my favourite 5 songs by artists I didn't know before 2007
- resolutions of some sort
- entries from my journals at the start of previous years
- reading list for the coming months

I think, in the next few days, I might do all of the above.