Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Word for 2012

This post at Red and Honey was the kick in the pants I needed to finally put this post into words before the new year actually starts, sharing the idea I have been mulling over for the last month of choosing a word for the year rather than making a resolution.

The thing with taking a word is that it covers so much more of my life than making a resolution. Resolving to pay down debt doesn't affect whether I sleep or read during my commute, and resolving to eat well won't change how I treat Matt when he comes home late after a long day.

And so, my word for the year is kindness. Not to be confused with niceness! Heaven knows people generally think I am so nice already. But very often I think niceness is a social smokescreen to avoid doing the harder work of kindness, and for all the people I am nice to it would be better for my soul if I could manage to be kind instead.

So what does kindness mean to me? Ultimately I think it boils down to remembering that others are image-bearers of God - that I am an image-bearer of God! - and that how I treat others must reflect that. Focusing this year on kindness means I will not let sarcasm slip into cynicism, that when I catch myself looking down on or thinking badly of others I won't simply let that be.

Most of all, I think reflecting on kindness and recognizing my failures to be kind will keep me running back to God. Without his help, kindness is impossible for me, and I know that only by soaking up God's kindness that I can never earn or deserve will I have any hope for change. I could resolve to be kind, sure, but where would I start? My willpower sucks. My regard for others is generally not that good. I don't always even want to change!

So my only hope is like I said, to soak up God's kindness and goodness until I am so full that those things are what seep out of my life. Not judgments or put-downs or sarcasm but love. Or at least love's little brother, kindness.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Great Day at Home

It is nearing the end of my four day Christmas weekend, and I am bracing myself for three busy days of work before another long weekend for New Year's. I managed to avoid my usual day-at-home-alone habit of constantly grazing on Christmas chocolates, and I think that is part of the reason I feel so good about this day spent relaxing [not eating]. I enjoyed beginning Anne of Green Gables on my new eReader, and Nimoy had our first walk in snow this Winter (in the air, not on the ground yet). I had some company from one of our youth, hung a picture that has been waiting to go on the wall, and I'm looking forward to dinner out with Matt.

All this to say that it takes much longer than four days off work for me to get bored and wish myself busy again - I am just finally starting to relax!

And a belated Merry Christmas to everyone <3

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Thought

Reading this article in National Post about happiness, I was struck by this idea from philosopher Gregory Currie:
When we fail we blame circumstances, but when others fail we blame their bad character. He called that “an error as crazy as thinking that wherever I happen to be marks the centre of the universe.”

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Startling Encounter

I was completely startled on my way to work one morning this week when what I thought was dropped clothes on the floor turned out to be a homeless man sleeping in our stairwell.

The elevator has been on the fritz for a week or so, with buttons spontaneously lighting up or going out, and if I don't have anything heavy to carry it's simpler to just take the stairs. This morning I was heading out to work but noticed the stairwell door was propped open with a hat, just a crack, and when I opened the door further I saw a tshirt on the floor. Matt brought laundry up last night, so my please-make-sense-of-this brain filled in the blanks - Matt dropped some clean shirts out of the basket and forget to turn back to pick them up. But then I saw that the tshirt had arms. And a long white beard. And an open mouth, because the tshirt was on a sleeping man. And I smelled that he was probably homeless.

So I went back into our apartment and told Matt - not that I wanted him to do anything about it, but just so that if the man was still there, Matt didn't barge through the door down the stairs and step on him or something. And I took the elevator downstairs - stopping on four or five floors for no reason.

I don't know why I was so flabbergasted by this experience - other than that it was completely unexpected. Why on earth would a homeless man go up to the 11th floor to sleep in a stairwell? Did he take the stairs up or go through the hall from the elevator?

And I'm curious what kind of person he is - if Matt had gone out and woken him up to offer our couch would he have accepted? Or thought we were weirdos who kill vagrants? Would he have stolen from us?

I am extra disturbed because of an idea I read from Dietrich Bonhoeffer this weekend - "...we are faced with the shocking reality: Jesus stands at the door and knocks, in complete reality. He asks you for help in the form of a beggar, in the form of a ruined human being in torn clothing. He confronts you in every person that you meet. Christ walks on the earth as your neighbor as long as there are people... This is the greatest seriousness and the greatest blessedness of the Advent message."

As I was thinking about why I so quickly backed away, and would I have done the same if I knew it was Jesus sleeping there, I realized it was because I didn't know what would happen if he woke up. And then I realized how often I'm not afraid of Jesus and his message, and it isn't because I'm really spiritual and we're just tight like that. It's because I don't think of Jesus as a real person who is beyond my control; I assume he wants everything I want, and he wants it how I want it too. I never worry that I would get yelled at or stabbed or robbed not only because I trust that he is good but because I assume we would never ever be in conflict.

No tidy conclusion yet, just food for thought and a reminder that when I'm 100% comfortable with my faith I'm probably focused a lot more on myself than on God.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trying Old Things

Nimoy peed on the bottom shelf of a bookcase this week, which triggered a domino effect that ended in me looking over old school work from university deciding what to continue to store.

The thing that struck me most was how much I have forgotten. Example: old worksheets and tests from my two semesters of Biblical Hebrew. I used to be able to translate passages! I used to know what qal perfect and imperfect tense meant and identify verbs that had been parsed! I aced vocab tests that now mean nothing more to me than the wingdings font in Word.

While I am not interested in getting back into Hebrew, I was also inspired by notes I have from courses on Biblical books. I have been in somewhat of a rut lately for reading the Bible and praying, and it occurred to me earlier this week that committing to studying something specific might help me be more motivated and focused. As long as I don't let my perfectionism get in the way and sabotage everything! So we'll see. I am hoping that the more I write, the more I will want to write.

Time will tell :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Gift of Service

Last weekend was our church Christmas dinner. It was much more formal this year than in past years, so rather than simply having all the food arranged as a buffet for people to serve themselves, the youth (and Matt) were recruited to all wear ties and serve food and pour drinks right at the tables. I arrived at the church that night feeling not too sociable and definitely not eager to squeeze in at a table while Matt co-ordinated the youth, so instead I hung out in the kitchen and washed dishes with my friend Joyce. All night. And it was great!

It struck me that this was probably one of those moments of spiritual gifting, where what needs to be done is exactly what you want to do! I'm sure if I had made myself find a seat at the dinner I could have had a very nice night, but instead I was all dressed up with one friend (have I ever mentioned HOW much better I am with small groups than big groups?) and an endless stream of dirty plates. We listened to Christmas music and perfected a system for pre-washing, rinsing, loading, and unloading racks of dishes. It was very simple, very tiring by the end of the night, and exactly what I would have wished for if I had a choice. PLUS because we jumped in right after the first course was finished, the clean up took way less time than if the dishes had piled up all night, so everybody got to go home sooner. It might have been my favourite church Christmas dinner yet!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three Things Thursday! [Vol.1]

First off, I am still LOVING December. Still can't explain it, but I am soaking up all the happiness and serenity and joy that just keeps bubbling up in my heart this month!

Next, the apartment is decorated! It's not anything crazy, but it is very nice in the evenings (especially since the sun goes down so early these days) to have such a cozy, Christmassy home :) However, my phone has stopped taking pictures, and that was the easiest way I had to get pics on this blog SO picture evidence will be delayed until I find some batteries for my real life camera.

Last, I just had my day made by this website. Apparently OB tampon company needs to apologize to everybody. Why? I don't know. BUT if you are a lady, go ahead and type your name in to the little box that pops up, then give it a couple minutes and enjoy! Gentlemen, somehow none of the male names I tried worked out, but you probably wouldn't love this as much as I did? Pass it on to a lady friend (NOT a new girlfriend).

Friday, December 2, 2011

December thoughts

I am in love with December!

The last two days have both ended with outrageous sunsets - bafflingly beautiful to look at - and there is a fresh excitement in my spirit for the Christmas season and New Year that are approaching.

Last night, Matt and I visited our friends to celebrate their daughter's first birthday! It was so fun to see how quickly she is growing and developing - now walking on her own, testing out her voice, laughing and clapping.

Matt and I have started to decorate our apartment with lights on the living room window, and hopefully we will get to decorating the tree this weekend so I can post Christmassy pictures of our apartment!

And as I've been thinking about the New Year, it has occurred to me to choose/discern a word for the year rather than worry about resolutions. I saw this over at Red and Honey in January and love the idea, so I will probably sit on it for the rest of the month and see if I stick with the (secret-for-now) word I have in mind :P

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I have been thinking about New Year's resolutions for the last week or so, trying to decide whether I should make any, and trying to figure out what it/they could possibly be. 2011 was the first year that I really made a resolution and kept it - it was to finish making a baby blanket for my friend Jo whose daughter is turning one tomorrow! I am much more likely to start and project than to finish it, so very early last January I decided that I would remember how to crochet and that I would make this blanket, and I promised myself that it would not be left as half a ball of yarn and a bunch of squares needing to be joined together. I think it was near the end of March that I finished it, and alas I gave it away without taking any pictures. But I finished it!

I think part of my problem with New Year's resolutions is that any ideas I have tend to be things I want to do whether it's a new year or not. It's not so much about making a big change, that this year will be different from all the rest, but instead I feel like, "Hm, it's January again, and I've stopped flossing again. Maybe I should resolve to floss."

This leads right in to another challenge I face: the attention span conundrum. This is my why resolution for 2011 was perfect - I only needed it until March! Just when my blanket-making attention span was fading, my New Year's resolution attention span kicked in to push me through.

There is one thing I can think of that is worth resolving to do this year, and that is a joint goal for Matt and I to pay off our student line of credit. We both have oodles of other student debt, but this would be a huge step and accomplishment in our financial goals to be clear of that particular debt by the end of 2012. It's not something completely unreasonable (and therefore disappointing), but it will certainly take discipline and attention and more than minimum payments to achieve.

As for flossing (and continuing to read my Bible regularly, and trying new recipes) - I will certainly do my best. But I don't think I will enshrine these particular hopes and dreams for the new year as resolutions.