November 30, 2011

The Books On My Bedside Table Include

The Pilgrimage
So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore
Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Tales From Outer Suburbia
Life of the Beloved
When You Reach Me
Road-side Dog
Holocaust Poetry
Persuasions for a Mathematician
Why I Wake Early
A Poetry Handbook
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
Year of Living Biblically
The Stone Carvers
Diverse AND numerous. Half a dozen need to go back to the library next week. Another half dozen belong to friends. And the others are mine. All mine.
(i heart books)

November 29, 2011

Advent #1

Advent Thought #1: I can hardly wait ten minutes to hear from God; imagine waiting 700 years.

Places I'mma visit this Advent:

The Advent Door

November 28, 2011


I am totally digging this song.


 And this song.

November 27, 2011

Sometimes I Don't Mind Crying

This week, I cried* a few times.

I cried a lot on Wednesday.

I cried when I saw my friend waiting to walk in to her mother's funeral. I cried when she got up to share about her mom. I cried when the minister choked up during her eulogy. I cried when I hugged my friend during the reception. I cried at the internment when I saw her nephew trying not to cry. I bawled* as my friend came over to two of us after and we mourned together.

I cried again as I told my own mother about the day over the phone.

This morning, at church, I cried.I cried when I saw the smile on my friend's face as she waited to be baptized. I cried when she said Jesus has been calling her for a long time and she's ready to say yes. I cried when another girl said she called herself an atheist not that long ago, but she has seen Jesus change her life. I cried when a big man choked up and couldn't speak. I cried when another big man shared that he has had dark days and has not been a good son to his mother. I cried when a man walked slowly, with the aid of a cane, to the microphone and he told us that he has a disease that will kill him, but he is not afraid of it anymore.

I am glad for all those tears.

(at my church, you get dunked in a trough of cold water...)

*crying = tears in my eyes
bawling = snot running out my nose
There is no inbetween.

November 25, 2011

Causes, Values & Evangelism

Last week I walked past Occupy Toronto for maybe the fifteenth time. I have had a lot of thoughts about about the whole thing, and my friend and I got to chatting... One take-away was that methodology really matters to me. I am a big believer in free speech and open dialogue, but I'm also fairly easily put-off peoples' causes or perspectives by how they communicate.
As I've grown more certain of and passionate about the things that I value, I often find myself unsure of how to communicate it all... I want it to be in keeping with my personality, I want it to be authentic, and I want it to be winsome. I do not want to be apathetic, falsely exuberant or in-your-face.

It seems to me that we each have our own style of "evangelizing" the causes we love and beliefs we hold. I used to think my reservedness was due to insecurity, and I often tried to compensate for that. But now I'm at rest and usually don't feel the need to put-on the excitement and boldness I once thought I should show if I truly loved something.

Not that I never get excited.* There are some subjects that I can get quite animated about, given the right circumstances. They include:
1. Art.
Beautiful things make me incredibly happy.
2. Solitude.
Quiet is such an important part of life, but we so often neglect it.
3. Nature.
We need it. I want to value it.
4. Global Perspectives.
The world does not revolve around me.

5. Loyal Friendships.
Life is not meant to be done alone.
6. Purposeful Travel.
Oh, the things I can learn!

7. Jesus.
I keep coming back to him.

*Even though I get excited about these things, I can't see that excitement ever spilling over into domineering or non-listening rants. If it does and I just don't notice, please tell me off. Gently.

November 21, 2011

Project Positive

This fall, I have become startlingly aware of how frequently we humans bond over gossip or shared negative opinions.
I want to make a greater effort to bond over praise and shared love of life.
Anyone else want in on this?

I wonder how quickly I will notice a difference in my own heart & relationships.

November 19, 2011

Saturday Brunch Club

Today was the first meeting of the Saturday Brunch Club, founded by Karen.

Everyone is welcome. These are the rules (So far. Still under construction.):
  1. The first member to the restaurant will have their coffee/tea paid for by the last member to arrive.
  2. There is a ten minute grace period for late arrivals. After ten minutes, we sit without you. 
  3. Unless agreed upon at the time of ordering, members are not required to share their food.
  4. Members need to bring cash for easy bill settling.

I think that's pretty much it. We meet every two weeks, and next up is Lady Marmalade.

Come and eat!

November 18, 2011

My Mind Pie

So last week, I asked you all what the pie chart of your mental energies would look like: what do you spend your time thinking about?

Well. Amelia drew hers here.She compared it with ten years ago (or what she remembers from 10 years ago) and it was great. RIBBONS! (now you have to go read it to find out what that means).

And Thom emailed me this witty image:

But I had not shared my mind-pie with you. Until now. Here it is:

And here is my projected-memory of my 2001 brain. 
At the time, I was almost seventeen and in my last year of high school.

Now, I'm not going to do an entire breakdown. Mostly, it's self-evident. But I do think that it's important to note that the quality of some of these sub-categories have significantly improved, because that is not evident in the charts. I still think about boys and relationships a lot (probably too much), but in a very different way. It's not emotionally consuming anymore. At least right now. And there is far less daydreaming about a wedding with a faceless groom or romantic scenarios that have no place in reality. In the same way, my thoughts about friends and family are far more selfless than they used to be. Although not always. And Jesus/faith/church has a lot less guilt and noticeably more hope (as opposed to naive optimism).

Comment away. And please, keep sharing your pies! I'm really enjoying this.

November 15, 2011

I Will Never Be a Dentist

Doug Coupland once wrote, "At twenty you know you're not going to be a rock star... by twenty-five you know you're not going to be a dentist or a professional... by thirty, a darkness starts moving in - you wonder if you're ever going to be fulfilled, let alone wealthy or successful... by thirty-five, you know, basically, what you're going to be doing the rest of your life; you become resigned to your fate."
I have been thinking a lot about this recently.
I still want to be famous. I dream of it less than when I was young, but I like to think of mingling with the bignames. I find myself wanting to name-drop, to sound like I am somehow closer to stardom than the masses. But I am almost twenty-seven, and the chances of that happening are slim-to-none. The realist in me is coming to terms with this. Mostly.
However, I don't wonder if I will ever be fulfilled, wealthy or successful.
I already am.

I am in the wealthiest 3% of the world's population. You probably are too
I feel fulfilled. My life is not perfect, but it is good. I think this sense of fulfillment comes because I am clarifying who it is that I am and what it is that I am made to do. I am making choices in my life to do things that give me joy. This doesn't mean I avoid hardship. But there is a difference between doing difficult things and doing things that are outside of my "calling." The idea of calling is a whole other post. Or a whole book. I recommend Courage and Calling by Gordon T Smith. Written from a Christian perspective, but I think has some big insights no matter your faith community.

And as for success, my main goals in life are 1. Know Jesus. and 2. Love people. I have not arrived at either of these, but I am increasingly okay with the fact that I never will. Fully. But I will continue to move forward in both endeavours. And I'm convinced that as I do, the secondary goals in my life will either happen or be redefined.

I am choosing to live my life believing that the best days are ahead of me. I will always believe this, no matter how old I get. And if I stop believing it, I want someone (other than my brothers) to slap me in the face and remind me of this post.

You know, I am convinced of God's goodness in a way I haven't always been. I still wrestle with hope and what it looks like in various difficult situations, but I have realized this: I still have hope. Sometimes I think that is harder than having no hope.

I share all these thoughts not to make you feel guilty or like a failure if you don't currently love your life. But to challenge us all away from the status quo of resignation and comparison and towards actively choosing contentment and the pursuit of non-material wealth.
What about you: what do you think of this quote? How do you fight resignation or mediocrity in your life? What do you think the difference is between developing contentment and becoming complacement?

November 14, 2011

Where Are All The Opinions??

Okay, cyber-world. I am in a thoughtful and conversational mood these days (the two don't always coincide), so you had better hold up your end of the conversation.

The next two posts I'm currently drafting are as invitational as the last one, and if I don't get any takers, I might just stop talking.

And we don't want that, do we?

November 10, 2011

Pie Charts, Literature & Good Questions

There are few things I like more than a creatively thought-provoking question. Like these two, asked of me by a couple different friends in the last week:

1.       If your brain were a pie chart, how much time do you spend thinking about _____? How does it compare to ten years ago?

2.       If you could write a story from the perspective of any literary character, which character would you choose?

Brilliant, hey?

The pie chart of my brain looks drastically different than it did a decade ago. Or five years ago. This makes me happy. I think I am content with 75% of my brain-pie-chart.
 And the other one... I don't have an answer on this yet – whose story do I want to tell?? Who do I think has a voice worth broadcasting? I'm mulling it over. I take these nerdy kinds of questions very seriously.

What about you?
What would the pie-chart of your brain look like? (Thom, I expect a drawing on your blog)
What literary character would you champion/write for?

November 7, 2011

Two Helpful Things

1. For the last week, I have been drinking at least two litres of water every day. This is a phenomenal accomplishment for me. In Spain, I sometimes struggled to drink that much, and I was walking 25 kms a day!!!

I think hydrating is benefiting many parts of my life, like metabolism and energy and general well-being. It helps that I sit at a desk all morning/all day. If I fill up my water bottle, drop in a little bit of lemon, and stick it in front of me, I will drink it. And I will snack less.

2. Tonight, I got discouraged and insecurity reared its head and I had a mini freakout inside my mind. Then I decided to call my sister (thanks for chatting, Sa-Sa!) and then I decided to re-read some personality info about myself because I am someone who needs validating. One personality-type profile I have on hand tells people who manage me to "stroke often." If that doesn't scream "emotionally needy," then I don't know what does.

For those who care,
I am an INFJ on the Meyers-Brigg charts. I have a "rich, vivid inner life" and am "sometimes puzzling even to themselves." Tell me about it.

When it comes to the Enneagram, I'm a Type 1. I want the world to be good and I despise hypocrisy, and typically feel that I have to "justify their actions to themselves, and often to others as well."

What's your "personality type?" What sticks out as insightful and helpful?

You know, I bet there is a type of person who hates questions like that and would rather poke themselves in the eye than do an online questionnaire that will assign them a number. But you know what? That person is not me. And both kinds of people are okay and good and needed in this world.

It's bedtime now.

November 5, 2011

No Battle Here: The Civil Wars are Winners

I would like to take a moment to tell you why you should check out The Civil Wars.

1. They are a little bit country & bluegrass. O Brother Where Art Thou kind of country.

2. Joy Williams has a perfectly suited name. The woman does not stop smiling. She also used to be a fairly-fabricated Christian pop musician. Her current work is better. (I can say that, cause I listened to her back in the day)

3. John Paul White looks like Johnny Depp. And has a wicked fun sense of humour. Which results in more laughter from Joy.

4. How many other bands do you know that keep an audience of 500 spellbound with one guitar and two fantastic voices?

5. They cover Jackson 5. And Michael.
(oh yes, and they toured with Adele)

6. They sing about real life with honesty. "Poison and Wine" is about marriage, and what you might say to someone if you were being fully fully honest about how you feel. (They are both married, not to each other - which Joy says allows them to sing & write songs that wouldn't be healthy for a couple in a relationship with each other).

This morning, I made Nadine watch two of the videos above. An hour later, she told me, "Beth, your news about Joy Williams may have made my day." This is from the girl who slept in until 11:30 and has been trying on hats from the 90s this afternoon. It's hard to get better than that...

November 2, 2011

3 Happy Moments

Yesterday, I did something terrifying. Well, terrifying to me. A risk I've wanted to take for awhile. Of course, there is no guarantee that things will turn out the way I would like. I have a small amount of hope that they will - or rather, great amounts of hope but low expectations (sometimes having hope is a pain in the butt). Today, I feel very happy that I did it. I am proud of me. Goooooooo, me!
This morning, I weighed myself for the first time in almost two months. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers staring up at me. This told me that my self-perception is no more accurate than it used to be...however, it also says that my sense of self-worth is much improved since years past. Although I thought I'd been putting weight on, it hadn't been ruining my life or consuming much emotional energy. So that's a plus. I am tempted to now allow myself to gorge on Halloween mini chocolate bars, given to me by a boss who wants them far away from herself, but that is counter-productive.

Right now, this song is going through my head on repeat. Dance beats and fist-pumping fun. I had to consciously refrain from grooving on the streetcar this morning.
This just in: they've got a show in Toronto on Friday!! Anyone want to go?