Monday, October 31, 2011

[Fragmented] Month End Thoughts

October always seems to pass so quickly! But I knew it would. Now November is starting, and in two weekends Matt and I will be at School for Conversion! I started re-reading Irresistible Revolution today and am loving it just as much as the first time.

I was blessed today by Psalm 86:4,
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

I have been realizing this month how much anxieties and busyness and fatigue have been wearing me down. Transitioning from Summer to Winter certainly doesn't help, but I am hoping that iron and/or fish oil supplements may help me feel better physically, and that will give me a stronger foundation to feel better emotionally.

The bright side of my dark moods lately has been inspiration to write. For myself. I loved reading and writing poetry in high school, had no time for it at university (except for the very beginning of falling for Matt), but the last few weeks it has been a great outlet for me.

Daylight savings is next weekend, which means today is probably the last Monday I came home before dark. I probably should have savoured it a little more.

Last thing - Nimoy got pink eye. I feel like he is just one diaper change away from being more like a home ec assignment than a pet. But he's a trooper, and we didn't even take him to the vet on this one.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Laughing at God

I noticed something new today in Genesis - can you believe it? I have read Genesis every time I ever tried to read the whole Bible, which is tons of times. Like, I grew up trying to read the whole Bible. Never have gone cover to cover, although I do believe that by now I have read the entire Bible at one time or another. My Old Testament class at Tyndale really helped me push through Leviticus and not celebrate by stopping half way through Numbers.

But enough about me.

In Genesis 17, God promises Abraham (whose name he has just changed - pretty big deal) that he will have a son by Sarah (also a new name to reflect their new destiny), and that nations and kings will come from this son.

Abraham falls on his face, and he laughs because the promise is just so ridiculous. He is almost 100, and Sarah is 90 and Sarah has always been barren. Abraham's only son, Ishmael, had been conceived by Sarah's maidservant 13 years earlier because that seemed to be the only way for Abraham to ever have an heir. In response to this mind-bending promise from God, Abraham says,

"Oh that Ishmael might live before you!"

Sometimes when God makes a promise, it seems better to us that he would have consulted with us. Abraham already has a son, and he prays that God would bless him, that he would reel in his extravagant promises of Sarah having a son and just bless Abraham through the son he already has. Abraham can't muster up hope for another son, especially by his now 90 year old wife.

One of my new favourite verses in Scripture is Zechariah 8:6, which boils down to God saying, "If what I say is amazing to you, does that mean it is also amazing to me?" Here, God has just promised restoration to a conquered and exiled nation, and I guess he knew that everybody was a little hesitant to take him up on his offer, to put their hope in a promise that was too amazing to really believe. It must be a familiar feeling for God, since we know it goes at least as far back as Abraham.

God is never content to give us the best things we can imagine for ourselves. He understands that we humans are prone to doubt, that time weighs heavy on us, that our hearts can only hope for so much.

But he doesn't give in to our smallness, our frailty, our fatigue. He accounts for it! But he doesn't limit himself by it. He tells Abraham that Ishmael's blessings are already in place, that the child conceived in desperation to make God's promise come true has not been forgotten or left out, but that the original promise also stands. A son will be born, and his name means he laughs.

Nothing is impossible for the God who has always been making people laugh in disbelief at his promises.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Loving Enemies

There is someone who I hate. Who I have been trying not to hate, swinging back and forth for the last year maybe, from hate to conviction, to hate, to fatigue, to hate, to numb, to rage, to grief. It is astonishing how much emotion has been spent on this person, who I would prefer never to see again.

For many months, I have been praying that this person will leave my life. At the beginning of the month I prayed that this person would be gone by the end of the month, and it intrigued me, because I wondered why God would lead me to pray with a specific time frame for no reason that I could see.

And then last week this person barged into a special event, and I was SO MAD. And I was dreading getting stuck next to them and having to overhear their lame small talk or even worse make lame small talk, and I thought if that happened I would probably just puke in their lap. So I let God know I'd do my best not to be a huge jerk but that He should also note my fragile state and give me some outs.

And then God nudged me: "What if you reached out and tried to love this guy instead of just avoiding him?"

To which I replied, "Um, Lord, I can't. I am already using up everything I have to not hate him. Thought you knew that."

And God interrupted my sarcasm to say, "Isn't the easiest way not to hate someone to love them?"

Which had me stumped.

Fortunately I found an empty seat at the table that was not only across from Matt but also far enough down from he-who-shall-not-be-named that I could mostly pretend he wasn't there.

Because the moral of this story is not that I loved my enemy and it turned out okay. I can't make myself love this person any more than I can gain 20 pounds.

The moral of the story is that God hinted to me that his plan might not be to get this person out of my life but to change my heart.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last year at Change Conference, I wrote in my journal that I felt led to prayer, that I think it might be a spiritual gifting. This year, I looked back at that entry and it still rang true - very often when I am worshipping God, prayer rises up in my spirit. Very often when people share burdens with me, I am moved to pray, even if they don't know about it, and that burden of prayer stays with me for a day or two. Prayer is one of the ways that I know God the best, that I feel him near me, feel his coaxing and guidance of what to say, and it leaves me peaceful.

This year at Change, I believe God added an instruction to this gift of prayer, which I am sharing to hopefully create some accountability, that it won't be something God says to me and I write in my journal and forget about until next October. If I am to pray for others as I believe God calls me to, then I have to make a better effort to connect with people, to learn what they need. I cannot be content in having a quick answer if anyone ever asks me about my spiritual gifts, and I cannot coast along with general prayers for well-being and help when God has called me to deepen relationships, to be more vulnerable, and to risk learning and prayerfully saying the specific needs of others.

It is not that prayer is easy and relationships are hard, because both of these pursuits have been gifts that come easily at times and elude me at others. Ideally, I think they should be inter-woven, each one deepening the other.

But just as talking the talk is no advantage if it does not translate into action in real life, being able to draw a diagram of how prayer deepens friendships that in turn lead to deeper, stronger prayer, gives no benefit unless it is put into practice.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Talking the Talk

Sometimes I give great advice. I can be really good at stepping back from the messiness of other people's situations and shifting the perspective just enough to bring some sense. Or even if there's no specific problem to solve, I can weave such encouraging words to spur people on in doing the right thing, to challenge apathy, to motivate.
Or so I think.

Because very often times, the great advice I give doesn't even move me one inch off my butt. The things I know in my head are so compelling in my mind, but there is some kind of feel-good force field that stands between my inspiring articulations and my life.

Last weekend was a great example of that - I shared with one of our youth about growing up with a Dad who always asked, "have you read your Bible yet today?" when I was just about to level-up some pokemon and definitely had not read anything because it was Saturday/Summer Vacation/I was sick. I said that I appreciated this nagging so much in hindsight because it kept reminding me (even if it was only subconsciously to my annoyance) that God loved me and was waiting for me to spend time with him so he could grow our relationship.

But the fact of the matter is that I still struggle to be motivated to read my Bible, that I weigh the odds of getting anything out of it before I even look at a page. I can give a great speech about spending time with God, but it's not always authentic, even if it is always true.

So yet again, God is busting me for being a hypocrite, and I am grateful (if uncomfortable).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Uncomfort Zone

I outlined a short, three-part series of blog posts last week to sum up some ways that God has been challenging me lately, but then last week got full with other stories. I'm scheduling the posts now, so they will all be up in the next few days - Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Turning Down Free Stuff

I had the most hilarious time listening to Matt turn down an offer for six free months of TV. The thing is, when we had TV I lost hours of my life every day. Normally now if I am bored, I read some blogs or look up recipes or otherwise kill time on the internet. Sometimes I read a book or journal or play music or email someone or call someone or otherwise participate in life in the real world.

When we had TV this was not the case. When I was bored I'd turn on the TV, four hours later I'd be too hungry to function, and all I would have seen was some fat people get skinny and some woman find her wedding dress.

So Matt tried to convince this poor woman that we were not interested in free TV, and that she shouldn't call back tomorrow, "not if it's about free TV."*

I'm happy, but I do hope this woman didn't lose her job since she couldn't even give away free TV.

*After talking about it after the call, we decided if she DOES call back we should get free TV so Matt can watch football, and I will just exercise self-control :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Being Too Slow

Today I was eavesdropping on the subway again. It all started out with a very surreal experience, where the couple to my left, and the couple sitting across from me were both paired teams preparing to do canvassing to raise money for WWF. So when I first sat down, I just thought they were talking, but then I realized their conversation was scripted, and then I realized both conversations I could hear were scripted, and THEN at the end of the conversation to my left, they immediately switched roles without any discussion and repeated the conversation from opposite sides, and it was all very trippy.

After a couple run-throughs, the pair on my left started talking about relationships. I switched brain-modes from trying not to listen while I read to half-listening while I read, and it was very interesting because both people totally spilled their guts. The woman had been in an on-again-off-again 7 year abusive relationship with a childhood friend that really messed her and their friendship up; the guy had never dated anyone longer than a year, but this one girl had really gotten into his brain and "cracked" him, leaving him still messed up until last year when he finally sorted out all the circuits she had tinkered with.

It was very sweet to hear about the woman share about her relationship to her husband now, compared to all the brokenness she'd had before. I guess she used to work at a bar in her underwear, which her ex hated because he was jealous and controlling, but her husband didn't hassle her about it because it was her job and he knew that she was coming home to him not anybody else that looked at her. But she stopped doing that kind of work because she wanted to, because she wanted only to show her body to her husband, to respect him by doing that, even though he never said anything to her about it. The guy thought that was very cool, and he talked about a friend he dated that was a great friend but terrible romantic relationship, and fortunately they broke up in time to save the friendship. He hasn't dated since last summer because he always goes for broken girls to try and help them, and he needs to get himself straightened out before he can ever hope to help someone else.

When we got to the end of the line, I went to my bus and they went off to raise money I assume, and as my bus pulled out of the station parking lot I was struck by all kinds of things I wanted to say to these two people. I kind of ignored it and kind of let the imaginary conversation run its course in my mind, and I wished that I had thought of these things when I was sitting next to them.

Then God told me to get off the bus and find them at the mall where the bus station is.

And I thought... I can't. The first stop is a 5 minute drive from here. But we hadn't left the parking lot yet, and THEN. The driver opened the back doors.

I can't, I told God - I won't find them, and I wore heels, and it's too far to walk across the whole parking lot for some impossible mission.

And God said, "If Matt was lost, or your future child was lost, or someone who you love, and you thought they might be at that mall, would you go look for them?"

And of course I would.

And the back doors opened again - well, not opened, but were engaged with the big green light above them lit to show that if you push on the bars they'll open.

So I got up and asked the bus driver to let me off before the light changed, and I walked across the parking lot into the mall. And I searched the mall for half an hour, feet on fire by the end, because I needed to tell those people that whatever they have heard about Christians, or whatever they have experienced of the church, that a relationship with God is not about trying to be good or giving up everything that might be fun, or acting any certain way, but it just means accepting that you are loved and wanted and LOVED by God, who made us. And that any change in your life is just something you do because you love God back and want to make him happy, to respect him, to appreciate your relationship. And that the reason it's so hard to understand and so hard to do is that all of us have had our minds messed up by sin, like bad relationships leave us scarred and scared, and we keep trying to fix ourselves so that we can have a healthy relationship one day, but the truth is we can never fix ourselves. But if we invite God to be in our life and trust him, he can gradually, gently make us new and whole from the inside out.

I realized too late that these people had been telling each other the gospel in the words of their lives.

I don't know what it means that I never found them - other than I guess they are doing their fundraising somewhere else. Or another day. I felt so bad that I was too slow to think everything I thought and do what I tried to do, but God reminded me that the Holy Spirit is never too late. So for whatever reason, I had this intense experience that left me aching to just tell these people that God loved them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Answering Prayer

Today I had the crazy opportunity to push a stranger across the street. I was crossing the road toward our apartment when I saw a large black woman with her foot swollen and wrapped, struggling to move the wheelchair she sat in. The rubber had come off both front wheels, and the hard plastic rims had no grip on the pavement, so she was pushing and pushing her wheels but making hardly any progress.

The crosswalk was already counting down, so I didn't have time to feel awkward, and I asked if she needed a push.

"Yes I do! I was so scared, and I prayed, and he must have heard me. Thank you."

So I pushed her across the street, and she directed me to turn her around and pull her backwards up the little curb back onto the sidewalk and then push her up to the bus stop, and she was very patient all the times I fumbled and her broken wheels got stuck. She said she'd be fine to get on the bus, that the driver would help her, and that she was going to the hospital up the street, and she would make it.

I was struck by the opportunity to do something useful, and I was struck by what a gift community is and how vulnerable we are without it, that this woman was almost stranded in the middle of the street because she has no one to fix the wheels on her wheelchair.

Ephesians 2:10 says,

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I am thankful for this reminder that it is all grace, that even the good things we do are not independent of God providing the opportunity.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Friendly Advice

Yesterday coming home from work, I overheard a great conversation between two friends. One girl sounded a lot like Jackie from That 70s Show, and her friend kind of looked like Jackie from That 70s Show in the reflection on the subway window (this is a decent way to spy on people if looking directly is too awkward).

The girl who looked like Jackie was planning to take a year off school to save money for her Master's degree. She was also planning to move out of her parents' house and split rent with her boyfriend in an apartment in the city.

The girl who sounded like Jackie thought this was unwise. "Why do you want to move out if you are taking this year off to save money? It's not as cheap as you think."

The girl who looked like Jackie tried to bluff her friend that she had really thought it through, she won't drive her car if she lives close to the subway (big savings), and she knows a guy who has a bachelor apartment downtown ("like, it's a really good neighbourhood") that only costs $800 a month.

The girl who sounds like Jackie mentioned that two people need more space than one person, EVEN IF they share the only bedroom (Matt and I found this to be true in our "awesome" first apartment that went bad, lol). She reminded her friend that a Master's degree could cost her $100 000. She reiterated that needlessly blowing $12 000 in a year that is intended to save as much money as possible doesn't make sense.

Jackie-face continued with her "yeah, but..."s.

By the time it was my stop, it was clear to me that the Jackie-look-alike is not as concerned about saving money on this "year off" as something else, perhaps establishing some independence and/or feeling adventurous about her life. I was glad for her that she has a friend who can tell her clearly and repeatedly, but lovingly, when her decisions don't make sense - that is rare! And always better coming from a friend than from parents (who might not like the boyfriend anyway).

Of course, I also think there is more to life than saving up money to buy degrees, and if this girl wants to waste a bunch of money living with a guy so she feels grown up, that year might teach her tons more about herself and about life than any time she spends at U of T. Bad decisions do that to us sometimes :)

I hope that Jackie-face and Jackie-voice continue their obviously strong friendship and love and support each other through whatever comes their way this year. I pray that I will also have people who can speak clearly to me when I am confused in my motives or losing my way.

Last note: I am scheduling this post ahead of time because of Change Conference! Yay for this conference, and I hope you are entertained by fresh new stuff to read :P

Friday, October 14, 2011

Change Conference

It is Change Conference this weekend - the third year that Matt and I have gone with an ever-growing group of youth. Both of the last two years have been so good for me! As a leader, sometimes I am really into stuff we do with the youth, and sometimes not so much, but I really love Change conference. I love the worship and the speakers and the time together. I have been looking forward to this weekend for the last month, and I am excited to see what God does this year - how I'll be challenged/shaped, how the youth will respond, if I'll FINALLY pull it together and buy something from the nationwares table...

I feel like I have a bunch of conversations with God that are in progress, and I am very interested to see how they carry on/come together over this weekend and moving forward.

Please pray that it's a great weekend for all of us who are going and for God to work in ways that go well beyond the two days we'll be spending together :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Borrowed Inspiration

I was struck by a quote by Beth of Red and Honey, about meeting God in daily tasks. I was really struck by the connection author Kathleen Norris draws between cleaning and liturgy:

like liturgy, the work of cleaning draws much of its meaning and value from repetition, from the fact that it is never completed, but only set aside until the next day. Both liturgy and what is euphemistically termed “domestic” work also have an intense relation with the present moment, a kind of faith in the present that fosters hope and makes life seem possible in the day-to-day.

What Beth put in bold is exactly what drives me nuts about cleaning, why it is so discouraging to stare down a kitchen full of dirty dishes, because I know cleaning them will just make it faster to dirty them again. Some days are much better than others, but on my worst days, everything feels futile - making the bed, sweeping the floor, picking up clothes, clearing off the dining room table.

But I love liturgy. I love that it waits to be repeated each (day/week/year), and although it is not part of my spiritual life right now, it soothes me when we meet. Liturgy does not represent feel-good spirituality to me, but it is sturdy and meaningful.

Could I ever find the same comfort in cleaning?

It's ridiculous to hope so, but that quotation above has given me a ridiculous glimmer of hope that just maybe I might.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I thought this was something that only happened to people who spent weeks at sea!! All those dark spots are in fact living bugs. So we will need some new wheat before we can make any bread, that's for sure.

On the bright side, they're contained, so we don't have to worry about weevil-cockroaches running around. And actually, the cockroaches have been few and far-between lately. Which is great :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Flat Tire (or - The Most Boring Day Ever)

I don't have pictures for this post, because I didn't think of it until far too late. But I made my first call to CAA today! Then cancelled it because we are just around the corner from Walmart and decided it would be better to drive there on our flat.

It turns out that might have been a bad decision, since 95 Honda Civics use tubeless tires, and we ended up with side-wall damage that left our flat tire irreparable. So Matt put the spare tire on it in the Walmart parking lot and we drove to Canadian Tire since they had all-season tires in stock - Walmart didn't.

At Canadian Tire, I spent the longest hour of my life in the waiting area. I was so bored I wanted to fall down. My body hurt from boredom. Matt and I had wandered the store for a little while, but there is only so much time a broke person with no outdoor hobbies can pass in the aisles of CT. After about 6 minutes I sat on a folding stool that was on sale while Matt looked over cooking sets for backpackers. An African woman wandering by with her friend asked if I worked there, which puzzled me, slouching on that $15 stool in my jean skirt, flip flops and brown hoodie. Maybe Canadian Tire is different in Africa (a little joke).

Having managed to kill maybe 10 minutes, Matt brought me to the waiting area, which I hoped would have ANY kind of diversion. We could see that Blat was still parked where we left it, so there was no end to our waiting in sight. There was however a specialty coffee machine that was out of order, two fake plants, some CT flyers, a car maintenance magazine and a TV.

Since the waiting room was empty, I didn't feel shy to walk up to the TV and change the channel to find something that could move the time along - I was hoping for TLC maybe, or CSI re-runs, even infomercials could have sufficed.

But there was only one channel.

And that channel was playing NASCAR.

I could end the post there - I know for some people the chance to watch a NASCAR race on a Saturday afternoon would be a dream come true. For me, it was the empty shell of an afternoon that had its soul sucked out with a side-wall-damaged, tubeless straw. I actually flipped through the CT flyer AND magazine, reading a whole ad about why do-it-yourself liquid truck bed liner is a great option. And a full-page diagram/flow-chart of how to spend hundreds of dollars on roof racks and cargo accessories.

But the silver lining of this whole extra-boring cloud was that it happened today and not tomorrow, when we will (by God's grace) drive up to Orillia right after church to have Thanksgiving with my family there. And for that reason, I am truly, truly grateful that the tire went flat today.

Not only that, but Matt and I were together through the whole adventure, so we got to spend all that time together, and we got to share a small crisis that didn't end with me in tears. This is the stuff marriage is made of :)

AND we went on a date to the movies tonight, so it wasn't actually the most boring DAY ever, because most of the day was quite great. But that HOUR felt like 700 HOURS. So in that sense, my title stands.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Love Words

I am reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and it has the most beautiful words I've read in such a long time! It is a work of fiction told from the perspective of Death, so it is very unique in that sense, but the power of the words just blows me away sometimes.

This is a Jew in Nazi Germany, waiting for a friend to find out about a potential safe house: He had eaten only the foul taste of his own hungry breath for what felt like weeks, and still, nothing.

And the account of his father's death in WWI years earlier: Erik Vandenburg would later be found in several pieces on a grassy hill. His eyes were open and his wedding ring was stolen. I shoveled up his soul with the rest of them and we drifted away. The horizon was the color of milk. Cold and fresh. Poured out among the bodies.

The whole book isn't quite so dark and heavy, but it is all very moving, and I feel like every chance I get to read from it is a chance to sink into words.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I must admit that from time to time I become quite discouraged by the vast student debt that Matt and I carry. In many ways it has been a blessing because if we had no debt, Matt and I would have a ridiculous income and probably waste a good part of it and develop selfish financial habits etc. Instead, we have spent the last two years of our marriage figuring out how to budget, how to compromise, how to live simply and frugally without giving up on having fun, and we have been challenged to figure out how to fit generosity in there too. It's still a work in progress.

But sometimes it is sucky that no matter how greatly we succeed each month, there are still tens of thousands of dollars waiting to be paid off. I will admit that this week I started praying for God to forgive my debts (instead of trespasses) in the Lord's Prayer. It is easy to become discouraged when I think of all the choices that would open to Matt and I without debt.But maybe that is a blessing as well, that we are limited in dreaming up distractions from what God has called us to. I was encouraged by Peter's exhortation in 1 Peter 2, for servants to serve their masters well no matter how they are treated. What on earth is the connection? A pastor who preached on this text pointed out that servants were a middle class of people between slaves and free people. They might be people who had become heavily indebted and pledged themselves as servants to pay off their debt. It was a good reminder just to do what we have to do well to pay off our debt.

So that struck a chord with me, and then the pastor also referenced 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul tells people to live the life God has called them to, not seeking to change their status (circumcised/uncircumcised, married/single, slave/free), saying only that if a slave has an opportunity to have freedom they should take it.

So today I have a little more peace about this debt that God has not yet felt the need to remove from our lives. We are doing what we can to get rid of it, and in many ways it has shaped us and our marriage in helpful ways, although I have sometimes leaned close to idolizing paying it off. But I am finding freedom from constantly spiritualizing the simple reality that we have great big student loans - it is part of life but it doesn't need to define us. We are working towards "freedom" from debt, but our situation is not like living in that hole in the picture! In all reality we are free --

We eat, we laugh, we worship, we play, we share and we love.

There is no reason in light of all that to think that a bunch of numbers on paper somehow mean we aren't.

Monday, October 3, 2011

School for Conversion

I mentioned that I had exchanged emails with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, the author of New Monasticism. Here's the story:

Last year I finally got around to reading Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I recommend this book to everybody! I should get around to re-reading it, but I think someone is borrowing it right now. Matt read it too, and we were both challenged/inspired by so many of the ideas of how Christians can live out the gospel. Shane quotes Mother Teresa who said, "We cannot do great things, only simple things with great love," and this mentality is behind the formation of a community where he lives in Philadelphia called The Simple Way. I loved his book because it was radical and had big ideas, but it is also based on the simple concept of taking Jesus at his word.

The Simple Way is one of the best known communities that reflect the values of new monasticism, a movement that values among other things:
  • relocation to abandoned places of Empire
  • sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among [them]
  • hospitality to the stranger
  • nurturing common life among members of intentional community
  • commitment to a disciplined contemplative life
Within this movement, married couples live alongside celibate singles, and communities exist across generational and racial lines. It also recognizes the importance of staying connected to the greater body of the Church and is a movement within the church, not apart from it.

So a few weeks ago Matt and I were looking at how we might be able to go and visit Simple Way, and it TURNS OUT that they are hosting a course for School for Conversion (SFC)* on the exact weekend that I have time booked off. But when I tried to register it said I would be waitlisted. So I figured it had filled up and we should just keep an eye out for it next year.

But last week I got an email from Jonathan asking if I was still coming and if they should continue to save Matt and I spots. So I said yes please. And then Matt told me who Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was, lol, which is a friend of Shane Claiborne, the director of SFC and author of New Monasticism (which I bought and read shortly after this whole encounter), among other books that he has authored and co-authored.
(I took this picture of Philly when I went to Camden, NJ at the end of my first year at Tyndale. I think that's cool!)

SO this November, Matt and I will be road tripping to Philly to spend a weekend at Simple Way!!!** The School for Conversion course consists of 5 sessions on the "theology and practice of Christianity as a way of life." And the course is facilitated by Shane Claiborne! So instead of hoping to meet him when we go to see his neighbourhood we will actually get to spend a bunch of time together! And hopefully we'll meet a bunch of other people who are interested in these ideas too!

I don't know if this will sound crazy to anybody, but to me it sounds really exciting, and especially in light of the reading I have done by Shane and Jonathan I believe that no matter what changes Matt and I end up making in how we live out our faith, we will learn tons, and it is just a great big awesome opportunity!

I am working on my application to have my passport reflect my married name (ehem), we are expecting a course package in the next few weeks with a bit more info, and THEN there will just be the small matter of waiting for November to roll around!

*The "conversion" in SFC is "conversion to a new way of life" - the blurb about it in the back of my book on new monasticism says,
"Based in Christian communities of neo-monastic discipleship, SFC facilitates study directed toward the creation of new community and creative expressions of God's kingdom in the abandoned spaced of society."

**Don't worry Mom and Dad, we finally got CAA! So if somehow BLAT fails us, we at least won't be stranded.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

New Month, New Hopes

Fall has arrived. It is cold and gusty and sunny today, the wind sucking any heat or moisture out of my hands and face, but the colours seem more vibrant, as if Autumn were proud to be neither Summer nor Winter but a season fiercely its own, appealing and torturous in its own ways.

I finally used up a gift card for a bookstore downtown that I have been sitting on for years. I have had that gift card longer than I've had an engagement ring; I was lucky the store didn't expire it on me! I bought three books, which totalled about $4 less than the value of the gift card, which is close enough for me :) Cash intact, I left with New Monasticism by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, with whom I have been exchanging emails this week - more on that later! - A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer compiled by someone who has never emailed me, and a blank notebook to stay under my gift card limit, to reward myself for all the beautiful notebooks I haven't bought for the last several months, and to motivate myself to journal more so I fill up my current journal before starting in a new one!

With the start of Fall for real, and in light of things I have been reading and thinking, I am hoping that Matt and I can make space and time to regularly have people over and practice hospitality. It has been months if not a year that we have been saying we should have people over more often or reach out to get to know some people better, but we haven't lived up to those plans very well, and it's mostly because of me. I need a plan much more than Matt does, and I psych myself out over the preparation involved in being good hosts, and it all amounts to a lot of fuss in my mind and not a lot being done. So I am planning to chill out and focus more on my attitude than my performance. I hope that living more hospitably will keep my heart soft to others and help me avoid the trap of thinking how important it is to love people and share life together without actually doing that.