Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The best laid plans...

Do I have a story for you! I hesitate to tell it now, because it might not be over yet. But I have nothing better to do right now, as you will soon see from my story. It is the story of two plans - mine and God's.

Beth's plan

Saturday, Dec. 8
- go to Jacob's Well brunch
- spend the rest of the day studying for Theology exam

Sunday, Dec. 9 - the day of rest!
- lead worship
- hang out with Paul & Sarah Williams family in the afternoon (they are Regent profs)
- watch a movie with Danice in the evening

Monday, Dec. 10
- write Theology exam
- spend the rest of the day doing Hermeneutics paper

Tuesday, Dec. 11
- hand in Hermeneutics paper
- spend the rest of the day doing Ethics paper

Wednesday, Dec. 12
- hand in Ethics paper
- mark one hundred and twenty Old Testament final exams

Thursday, Dec. 13
- hand in Old Testament exams
- fly home

- be a maid of honor in Christine's wedding

Ok, I hope that didn't bore you. As you can see, every hour of my week was planned. I was in complete control. It would be tight, but I would get everything done. I always do. Here's where my story gets exciting.

God's plan

- same as Beth's plan

- Beth will lead worship.
- Beth will go to the Williams' house. There, she will agree to help Hannah make gingerbread for a school project.
- While using a hand mixer (one of those long skinny ones with a blade at the end) for the first time, Beth will foolishly use her finger to try to get some butter out from behind the blade, and will accidentally turn it on at the same time, mangling the top section of her finger.
- Beth will not faint! She will be proud of herself.
- Beth will go to the emergency room with Jonathan (who lives in the Williams' basement) and Emilia (their 10-yr. old daughter, who has been to the hospital a lot). She will get 4 stitches and a huge bandage.
- Beth will go home to be comforted by Danice with some hot chocolate and Bailey's.

- Beth will write her exam as planned. (her left index finger is cut up - her right hand is still fine to write). It will go well. Beth will gain confidence, and will grow more sure that she can still complete the week as she had planned - this finger thing was just a little test from God to see if she would persevere.
- Beth will return home and begin typing her Hermeneutics paper, with the huge gauzy bandaged finger only slightly slowing her down.
- Beth will go to fill up her water bottle to take another extra-strength Advil for the finger pain. Clumsily reaching for the water with her bandaged finger, she will accidentally spill it all over her laptop keyboard.
- Beth will call her father in a panic, and he will spend the next four hours explaining how to take the computer apart and dry it off. Danice will help, and the landlords upstairs will donate various screwdrivers and other tools.
- After all the work, Beth's dad will conclude that the hard drive has been affected. It is the worst-case scenario they were dreading. Beth will not be able to access any of her files, including the half-finished Hermeneutics and Ethics papers due in the next couple of days. Her computer is fried. She will cry a little. But Beth's dad is pretty sure he can restore her files when she returns home on Thursday with her poor, wet computer.
- Beth will e-mail her two professors (using Danice's computer) and ask for extensions for the first time in her life. She will find her professors to be very understanding.
- Beth will finish the day by ordering pizza with Danice and watching "Spaceballs".

- Beth will sleep in for the first time in weeks.
- Beth will realize that she has no work to do. No work she CAN do. Nothing she can accomplish.
- Beth will go to school and help make Tuesday soup, ensuring that she does not cut off any more fingers.
- Beth will sit in the library and leisurely write a blog, surrounded by hundreds of panicked, busy students.
- Beth will marvel at my strange, twisted mercy.
- Beth will realize that I am in control of her week and her life.

- Who knows?

So there you have it. It has been a crazy, difficult, sobering couple of days, but the result has been a lot of learning and a lot of grace. I have felt God with me through the whole thing. I have experienced the kindness of many people I hardly know (Ceri, who took care of me right after my finger was cut, Jonathan, who took me to the hospital, Paul and Sarah, who prayed for me before I left, my landlords, my roommates, my professors), and I have been extremely grateful for the love and care of those closest to me (especially Danice, who let me cry with her and brought me seriously spiked drinks, and my family, who comforted me over the phone).

Thanks to those of you who have been praying for me. I'll be home soon - with a couple papers to finish, but hopefully much more rested and thankful than I would have been had my plan worked. And ready to celebrate with Chris and Dan!

If anyone would like to see a picture of my finger without the bandage on (I like to call it Frankenfinger), I will e-mail it to you - I didn't want to gross everyone out on the blog!

That's all for now... I hope....

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Lately I feel about as "gushy" as the rainy-snowy slush covering the streets outside. I did a lot of walking around in it today - it's the sort of slush that splats out from under your boots and leaves you with sopping pant legs, a higher liquid-to-powder ratio than the more solid Saskatoon type. It's actually the type that we get for a couple days in April in Saskatoon, when everything melts. So it's weird to have slush for Advent instead of Lent.

Anyway, the point was that I feel gushy. Sappy. Sentimental. I don't know why, but I feel like I'm feeling things more strongly. Any emotion I experience is forceful and cries out to be expressed. Like a second adolescence. Or an early menopause of mood swings.

Maybe it's because it's harvest time. My prof, Dr. Stackhouse, encouraged my class by reminding us that when we're in busy times like the end of term, it's kind of like when all the farmers go out and bring in the crop - you work overtime and live a very "unbalanced" life. He prayed not for balance, but for our health. Maybe the stress of this time is making me unbalanced - in a different way than he intended to communicate. I had a mini-breakdown with Danice, as I realized how little time and how much work I have left this term. I was also realizing that I DO let my health suffer at the end of term - I survive on very little sleep. Danice said that in my old age, I am not going to look back with joy on all my good marks at Regent, because I will already be dead, since I'm not taking care of myself now. Wise words. So I set some goals for sleep, and I'm going to try to fight my workaholism and perfectionism as much as I can. Please pray for me! Last night I went to hear Joyce speak at the Canadian Youth Workers' Conference, and she was talking about Sabbath, reminding us that God didn't let the Israelites forget about Sabbath during their harvest and planting times. So here I am, practicing Sabbath in harvest time, and trying to get a good sleep. But I still feel gushy.

The whole emotional thing may have started over Reading Week. I had a great time being at home, doing "wedding-ish" things with Christine, sitting in on one of Rachel's uni. classes, and watching a lot of "Planet Earth". And seeing my brother's play, "Les Miserables," twice - it was incredible. I can't believe how many good vocalists that high school has right now - when I went there, we had to scrounge for one or two good male singers to hold it together. But Daniel was really something else as Jean Valjean. I don't even think I'm being overly biased as his sister... the applause was so long after his solo "Bring Him Home" that the orchestra had to start playing to keep the show moving. The "emotional" stuff definitely hit me as I watched him - I teared up quite a few times, and I still do sometimes when I listen to the soundtrack. I think it was mostly pride in seeing Daniel up there, so mature and talented, tackling the role and the songs with confidence. He just seemed to exude the moral strength that Valjean has in that story, and it didn't really seem like he was acting - I mean, he really does have that kind of integrity and strength, and it was powerful to see it portrayed on stage in a way I rarely realize when he's just my little brother on the phone. I guess all of that, rolled up with a dramatic storyline and beautiful songs, is enough to make any big sister cry. Ok, I'll stop embarrassing him now. (Photo taken by Rachel or Wing Go)

I had the chance to see a very different kind of drama today, and get emotional all over again - the Eastside Story Guild put on a presentation at Grandview Calvary church this morning. This is a multicultural group of kids and youth whose mission is to "tell stories" - to interpret stories from the Bible in a way that incorporates their own stories. Their story this time was the exile to Babylon, interwoven in a very interesting way with the story of Native Americans in Canada and the residential schools. Many of the storytellers were Native. I started crying when these little kids dressed up as Babylonians attacked the Native Americans and pulled their children away from the Native elders, who really seemed heartbroken. With adult actors, the whole concept might have seemed forced, but the kids took the edge off just enough to really make it sink in deeply. The drama ended with a drumming/dancing circle as we all received communion, which was in the form of cranberry juice and bannock, in true Native American style. I think the whole thing hit home because we've been talking about the residential schools lately at Jacob's Well. A lot of people in the Downtown Eastside, including some of our friends at Jacob's Well, are receiving their settlement money this month - some will receive thousands of dollars all at once. We've been talking about how money doesn't bring healing, and how it can be morally hazardous for anyone to receive that large a sum of money at once, let alone people living among the temptations and complexities of the Downtown Eastside. I'm praying that this effort to compensate these people for their pain is not going to cause further pain.

One of my favorite "gushy" moments - yesterday I went down to my rock, as usual. Two minutes after I got there, I saw a few tiny flecks of white fall on the rock. It was the first snow, and I was just in time to witness it! Yep, I teared up then too. I don't know if it's self-centered to treat snow in Vanc
ouver as a gift just for me, but that's always how I interpret it. I remember when I was in Belgium for Christmas, and it snowed there for the first time in several years, and I just stood outside and soaked in God's love for me. So I'm pretty sure he did it just for me yesterday too, just to make things feel more like home, and more Advent-y. The leaves were kind of funny-looking, sticking out of the snow...

So there you go. I'm a mess. And I'm trying to figure out how to move from sappy sentimentalism to a more meaningful place - I think emotions can lead me into a kind of understanding at a deeper level than just head knowledge, but I have to really live with them and mull them over and sometimes do something creative with them - write a poem, or at least a journal entry. Which I rarely give myself time to do!

I want to make it clear that I did NOT cry or otherwise show emotion when the Riders won the Grey Cup. I gave a high five.

Considering it is harvest time, this will likely be my last post before I head home on the 13th, in time for Chris' wedding. Expect wedding pictures! I wish you all a wonderfully expectant advent season, full of deep emotions that bring meaning and understanding.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Worshiping the internet god

Hey everyone,

Well, I finally hit that point in the semester where it feels like every spare moment must be devoted to school in order to get everything done. And then I realized that doing school work in every spare moment is no way to live. So I'm in a paradox. One thing I've done is to limit my internet use to right before bedtime. This is not only to increase my homework time but also to decrease idolatry in my life. I realized that I'm a compulsive e-mail checker, especially when I'm supposed to be doing homework. And then when I check my e-mail and there's nothing there, I still feel like I deserve a pick-me-up, so I go to Facebook or Flickr or Youtube and waste time trying to lift my spirits. It wasn't until a week ago that I realized that if I didn't check my e-mail in the first place, my spirits wouldn't have to be lifted, and I would stop treating the internet as a drug. So I'm on an internet Ramadan of sorts, and it's really changing my life. I still get internet cravings, but I haven't been giving in. And I'm focusing a lot better, and feeling less guilty. It's a good thing. Now my only distraction is Danice. But she's a much much better distraction, and I would never limit her. And sometimes we actually get work done when we're in the same room.

I've had a couple of great weeks. Don Sparrow was in town, and we hung out at Regent for a while, and enjoyed the fall weather together. Tonight, I got to see Lisa and Terice, who was also visiting from Saskatoon - we had a great supper at the Olde Spaghetti Factory. It's ironic that Saskatoon people are coming to Vancouver, because I'm heading back to Saskatoon in a week! Yep, I'm going back during my reading week, from Nov. 17th to 23rd. I'll be doing dress fittings and bridal showering for Christine's wedding, and I'll be attending my brother Daniel's musical, Les Miserables, in which he will be starring as Jean Valjean. I am so stoked to see him in a musical, because I've missed all his previous ones. Here he is in a picture with one of the Twagalemena girls, from a family of refugees who our church sponsored, who I'm also excited to meet - a picture taken by my cousin Kallie:

Unfortunately, I'm missing Danice's birthday while I'm gone, and I don't think she's going to forgive me anytime soon. So as a peace offering, I dedicate this next part of the blog to her. It is an excerpt from my journal from last year, when I was taking Exegesis class (exegesis is about finding out what the Bible meant in the context of the people it was originally written for). Since Danice is taking Exegesis right now, it may apply:

"I was thinking about how exegesis is changing the way I read the Bible. I will be much less likely to treat it as a bank of verses on various topics from which I can select at will some that please me and support what I happen to be trying to say. It's cool to trace the author's line of thought and see what context he spoke in - it puts the words back in his mouth. I was also thinking how I need an exegesis of my life. I know God is the author, and he's carefully crafting it, inserting common themes here and there, meaningful experiences, perhaps chiasms and purposeful repetition, building to some unknown climax. The problem is that I'm stuck in a verse. If my life were a book, I would be stuck on the page, looking out, trying to see the words behind me and squinting at the ones ahead. I need someone, or many people, to look at me and exegete me, to trace my historical context, to draw a diagrammatic outline of what God's up to in me, to point out how the parts fit into the whole - to tell me who I am! Because when I try, I feel like I'm picking from the verse bank again, just picking out details that seem to support what I feel like supporting in my life on any given day, that make me into the person I happen to feel like being. Exegete me!"

Anyway, Danice has helped to exegete me (as many of you who are reading have helped me). I thank you for the way you've shown me more of who I am, and although I feel freaked out about the idea of being a pastor (especially considering taking 'Preaching and Worship' class next semester... yikes), I'm feeling a little more settled into my skin this year than I did when I wrote this journal entry. And I hope I can return the favor and let you know what I see God doing 'big-picture' in you, too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

From our little kitchen to yours

It's time I shared with you some of Danice and Beth's greatest eating secrets. I don't want to overwhelm you with our cooking prowess, which is so impressive that it can't be contained in our kitchen, so this first installation will only deal with snack-like food. I will try to keep the instructions simple so you can follow along easily.

P.S. In writing this, I am obviously procrastinating from reading a book I have to read and review by Monday, called "Holy Scripture: A Dogmatic Sketch"... enough said.

Crackers and Cheese - a delightful twist on an old favorite

1. Buy Wheat Thins and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
2. Take a Wheat Thin and drag it through the cream cheese.
3. Eat.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream - a "Fun Ugly" staple dessert.

1. Dish out vanilla ice cream. Don't be ashamed to buy the cheap no-name stuff ... it will be made edible by the next step.
2. Add one tablespoon of peanut butter. If you use the same spoon you used to scoop the ice cream, make sure you don't leave any ice cream residue in the peanut butter jar. This can look like mold, and your roommate might throw out the peanut butter due to her irrational fear of mold. Wait a minute... does peanut butter go moldy?
3. Add chocolate sauce. Heat it first if you want to get really fancy.
4. Add chocolate chips (unless you hate it when your chocolate chips freeze and get too crunchy in your ice cream. I don't mind.)
5. If you're Danice and you're CRAZY, add marshmallows.
6. Stir vigorously until well blended.
7. Eat. Slowly. Avoid brain freeze.

Yogurt-covered raisins - the only reason to go to Safeway.

1. Go to Safeway.
2. Find the bulk bins.
3. Fill a plastic bag with yogurt-covered raisins.
4. Pay for them. Earn 0.00258 Air Miles.
5. Eat. (You can start eating them on the bus ride home from Safeway.)

Tea and chocolate - a secret I bring to you direct from my time in Belgium.

1. Boil water.
2. Run like a MANIAC to take the kettle off the stove element when it whistles (if you're Danice).
3. Make tea. Chai and Earl Grey are our favorites.
4. If you have just made a sissy fruity kind of tea, pour it out. Those kinds are unacceptable. Herbal is barely acceptable. But peppermint is ok, because it tastes good with chocolate.
5. Alternatively, if there is already tea in the pot from yesterday, you may choose to heat it up in a mug in the microwave. Some tea purists think this is unacceptable. I am not a tea purist.
6. Add sugar and milk to taste. Actually, it works best if you put the sugar and milk in the mug BEFORE you pour in the tea. I learned this from Lindsey Mae, who always makes tea taste good.
7. But if you only read the first sentence of step 6 and you accidentally added the sugar AFTER you poured the hot tea, stir it in and listen to the sound of your spoon against the mug slowly descend in pitch. This is really weird. I swear. Try it. I think it has something to do with the sugar dissolving in the water... I don't know. I'm a biologist, not a chemist.
8. Blow on your tea. You do not want to burn your tongue because you will need it for the next few steps.
9. Take a piece of dark chocolate and place it on your tongue. Do not chew! Show some restraint.
10. With the chocolate balancing on your tongue, take a sip of tea.
11. Let the tea melt the chocolate right down into your tastebuds and savor the warm chocolaty glory.
12. Repeat steps 9-11 until tea and chocolate are gone.
13. Eat. I mean drink.

Cheggels - a recipe created by Rachel Malena (who also coined the name)

1. Get some cheese, an egg, and a bagel. (Is the name making sense yet?)
2. Cut the cheese, fry the egg, and toast the bagel.
3. Combine into a sandwich-like formation.
4. Cook for a couple minutes in the toaster oven to melt the cheese.
5. You may want to add more ingredients... a slice of meat, a tomato, Frank's Hot Sauce.
6. Add more Frank's Hot Sauce.
7. Add lots of salt. (I like salt.)
8. Eat.

Limp Celery Wars - a sport created by Rachel Malena (who also coined the name)

1. When you neglect to eat all your celery before it loses its crunchiness, don't throw it out. That's wasteful.
2. Instead, leave it in the fridge for a while. A couple of weeks should be good.
3. Break off a stalk. It should be quite limp. Give it a couple of shakes.
4. Whip it vigorously at your sister or roommate.
5. Repeat. Your opponent may also whip them at you. Defend yourself as best you can.
6. Eat... No, silly, DON'T eat. That's gross. This is a sport, not a snack.

It must be time for me to return to my book. May I point out that this is my second blog of the week. And my busiest week of school yet. And thus the busy-ness/lack of blogging theory takes another blow. In fact, I believe the two may be inversely related. Only time will tell.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog pressure

Yes, I know, it's been another month without a blog. I'm trying to figure out why I'm not naturally writing as much. I am definitely getting busier... I'm doing a full day at Jacob's Well now, and taking three classes, and TA-ing for one class, and helping with youth at my church, and trying to learn Greek on my own, and participating in a church small group and a Regent community group. And yet I think my brother Daniel is involved in more things than me, and he still has time to play video games. So it can't just be busy-ness.

You might say it's because of Facebook. You might be right. I do visit Facebook often. I visit it when I should be writing papers or sleeping. It's my prime gap-filler, and I think if I added up all the gaps I've filled it with, I could get a whole day back. I've been doing a lot of philosophizing about Facebook lately, discussing its benefits and dangers with friends and family, and searching the web for opinions a
bout it. One smart guy named Derek Draper said that Facebook taps into our craving for "continual surface stimulation" and "activities that are hypnotically shallow." Agreed. But another guy said that Facebook is actually good for re-integrating our postmodern disintegrated selves, because it forces us to portray the same persona to all our groups of friends. My Facebook friends from church see the same page, same notes, same pictures as my Facebook friends from elementary school. On a more personal level, I have found that Facebook can foster some resentful and stalker-ish tendencies in me, such as when I see a friend's pictures of a party I wasn't invited to. But it can also remind me to pray for and pursue conversation with people whose status updates pop up on my home page. It reminds me that God has blessed me with a large network of people who have helped shape who I am today. And mostly, it helps me remember people's birthdays. So the verdict is still out... any further thoughts on this social networking phenomenon?

Really, though, I think I'm avoiding blogging because I'm feeling this pressure to write something profound. I have been having a lot of profound thoughts lately, but none of them have really fit the blog format. But you know, I don't think I need to wait for the profound thoughts. I'm just going to write what I feel like writing.

So, in a very non-profound way, I will share with you some things I did over this past week, which was one of Regent's reading weeks (no classes! yay!) In no particular order...

- Ate Thanksgiving dinner at the home of someone I barely knew, and discovered their great hospitality.
- Learned about the huge issue of human trafficking in Vancouver... and the brothel that is 9 blocks away from my house.
- Survived and learned from a very difficult conflict with an acquaintance. (I'm not good with conflict. Yet.)
- Watched a pointless Film Festival movie.
- Picked up a beautiful leaf and pressed it in my book.

- Spent a wonderful day with my Saskatoon friend, Tall Jordan. Ate nachos on the beach, saw "Across the Universe," and learned about "opportunity cost".
- Had second annual camp night in the living room with roommates and friends... sleeping in a tent... roasting marshmallows over the electric stove element...
- Watched a couple episodes of the mind-blowing documentary "Planet Earth". You. Must. Check. This. Out. It is not only for the biology geeks like myself. Danice likes it.
- Successfully avoided catching Danice's cold.
- Tried a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, and enjoyed it.
- Preached to the geese.

- Planned 4 youth events with my fellow youth leaders.
- Read a depressing book for "Pastoral Ethics" class about a pastor who sexually abused several women in his congregation.
- Participated in two protests... one for Burma, and one for the homeless, which involved taking an afternoon nap with a hundred other people in front of the Olympic Countdown Clock in Vancouver.
- Watched a very disturbing documentary called "Jesus Camp".
- Attended the UBC Apple Festival and ate a caramel apple, along with Jodi, Michelle, Dale, Danika and Callie. This is a picture of Dale and Callie (who got a little tired of apples).

- Saw a kingfisher hover in midair for over 10 seconds.
- Edited my professor's class notes (the one I am TA-ing for) with new cues for powerpoint slides.
- Studied at several coffee shops around the city.
- Waited on hold for an hour for the tech support guys to answer and fix our internet phone.

- Sat on my rock and prayed... and God answered one prayer today.
- Met Jodi and Michelle's bunny, Franklin.
- Developed a taste for Annie Lennox.
- Created a zucchini/tomato pasta dish.
- Drank a lot of tea.
- Did some long math problems with Jane at Jacob's Well.
- Made a lot of progress on the puzzle that has been sitting unfinished on our living room floor for a month.
- Spent a lot of time with Danice. Man, she's great.

Ok. I resolve to do this more often. You can hold me accountable. :)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

How Harry Potter is Improving my Spiritual Life

Don’t worry…no Harry Potter spoilers in here!

So… I haven’t written anything in a while. I have learned that writing is a discipline, and when it got a little harder to write this summer (no internet at camp, no time to reflect on anything…), I didn’t try very hard to keep up. If there are any readers left out there, I will try to do better in the coming months, so you can keep up with me, and so I can improve my writing.

Lots has happened since I last wrote… mostly, camp. Camp was full of challenges and joys, as usual. The staff rocked, I felt more comfortable in my role this year, having done the same thing last summer, lots of lives were changed, including mine, and nobody was seriously injured. I learned about leadership, especially when it comes to facing conflict instead of running from it. One highlight was when Danice, Lindsey and Cara visited from Vancouver. Another was leading the MDT program. (I wish I could elaborate, but it would take too much writing!) It was awesome to build on relationships from last summer, especially with the girl staff – it was so satisfying to encourage them and to have their trust, and to see them serving God so faithfully. It reminded me of why I want to do the MDiv, and I need those reminders so I don’t run away from my calling.

Now I’m back in the Couv, back near my Rock (which is unfortunately covered in graffiti), and back with my roommates, including one new roommate from St. Lucia, in the Caribbean! I start school on Monday. The past week has been a great time to relax, visit the art gallery, volunteer at school, eat and catch up with friends, and swim in the ocean across the street, which is salty, unlike the lake water I’m used to. This morning Danice and I went to the park to pick blackberries. As I tried in vain to avoid the thorns (no pain no gain), I thought about what I should write a blog about, and I decided to share some thoughts about Harry Potter.

My brother Daniel first got my family into Harry Potter. I think my parents started reading it along with him, just to make sure it was kosher, and then we all got hooked. At first I was shy about reading these “children books” – I remember trying to hide the cover while reading it on the bus to university. Now I will gladly proclaim my love for JK Rowling. Not only my love, but my gratitude for the way her writing has spurred me on to follow God, especially in this last book.

Let me see if I can explain this… I think fiction has a strange power, especially the epic, adventurous kind, like Harry Potter. Stories where the characters are becoming aware that their lives have a grand purpose, that their actions and choices could impact the future of the world. If you’re like me, you get caught up in these stories, you’re rooting for Harry and company, you’re emotionally attached and involved in another world. This is what makes you keep reading even though people accuse the book of being full of demonic activity or too predictable in style. You get abnormally excited when the truth and the good are the winners, when life prevails and hope prevails.

And here is why these stories stir us and create longing in us… at least I think this is why… it’s because they are true. They are all versions of a true story, they all point to the truest and forgotten-est of stories. We are the heroes of this story, but we don’t realize it most of the time. For a few hours, while we’re reading Harry Potter, we get a nostalgic longing to have an adventurous, meaningful life, and we don’t see that God has already written us a part in his story, the one He’s writing in history, the greatest story ever told, and that really, a whole lot hinges on us. The choices we make daily don’t feel life-or-death, but they will affect the way the story turns out in the end. If only we could see it through his eyes! There’s so much we forget. He’s put us in the story for a reason, with a purpose and a calling, and with the gift of helping other people with their callings… there are people we are supposed to become, and there is a kingdom that is coming, the good ultimately conquering the evil.

C.S. Lewis wrote that you could “dip” things in myth to see them more clearly. I think God has dipped my own story in Harry’s story, and it’s given me something to focus on this year. I need to live this year with the same sense of holy urgency that drove Harry to the end of his story. It’s like God is my Dumbledore. He knows something I can’t know yet – he knows what he wants me to do while I’m on earth. But if he came out and told me, I might run away, or at very least I’d try to do things my own way. Instead he has set things up to slowly train me to accomplish my purpose – it’s all perfectly timed, taking into account my constant failure and fear. And the training is happening at school, obviously, but also on the bus and in the grocery store and as I eat supper and sit on a rock at the beach. The important thing is to remember that these things are important, and to look for the lessons in them all. Every day, every minute is crucial; there isn’t a moment to waste. (Of course, my purpose is being accomplished even as I’m being trained. This is one of the things he’s hiding from me most of the time so I don’t get overwhelmed or proud.)

So this year, I’m the hero-in-training. And I’m not so arrogant to think I’m the main character of the story, but not so ignorant to think that I’m just part of the background scenery. Right now, it’s giving my life a lot of forward momentum. I really need to read more fiction.

We have all forgotten our names. We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality and positivism only means that for certain dead levels of our life we forget that we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant we remember that we forget. (Chesterton, Orthodoxy)

Saturday, June 16, 2007


Hey everyone,

I have officially moved in at camp now. We're currently internet-less, so I may not be posting as much. Although I'm posting fairly infrequently now anyway...

I'm in the same room and the same bed as last summer, and it's funny how "same" it feels. I realized all of the same things I realized my first night last summer... Oh yeah, this room is really hot all the time. Oh yeah, there's tons of mosquitoes to be killed every night before I sleep. Oh yeah, this bed is lopsided... I'll have to stuff a blanket under there. But really, it's a good room.

Last week, we had a visit from three people who work at KBK, one of our sister Baptist camps in Fort Qu'Appelle, in Southern SK. We had a great time swapping ideas for games, songs, and staff training. We even decided to swap some senior staff for a week this summer! Seriously. We're going to switch 7 cabin leaders. I think it's going to be awesome.

We decided to take them out for ice cream on Thursday night. We drove to the tiny town of Christopher Lake and tried one place with a huge sign spray-painted "open", and it apparently wasn't open. It's actually quite interesting how many businesses in Christopher Lake have permanently painted the word "open" on their buildings... we were out of ice cream options. So we did what any good bunch of Baptist ministry leaders would do... we took them drinking and dancing at the Silver Bullet bar. I can't believe I haven't checked out that bar until now. The people there are so kind, way past what we deserved for the small number of drinks we bought. They set up the karaoke machine for us (and once we started singing, they probably wished they hadn't!), they let us play pool for free, and they let us play with their cat. We talked about social justice and evangelism and music and politics.

The only minor crisis of the week was the call from our T-shirt company saying "we're almost done printing your Quest shirts, but we realized that we've been missing a letter in the text and printing 'the Quest at ChristoPER Lake' instead of 'the Quest at ChristoPHER Lake'..." It was actually kind of my fault because I approved the final design for the shirts and I missed the mistake! But no worries, they fixed them all.

What else has happened since I last wrote?... Well, I went to Borden, which is another small town in Saskatchewan, and I attended their grade 12 graduation ceremony, although I knew none of the grads. I was driving Robyn there, and then she wanted me to stay. But actually, we couldn't get in because there wasn't enough seating, so we just walked around Borden (in fact, I think we saw the whole town), and it was deserted, because everyone was at the grad! So that was different. I also went birdwatching and photographing with Rose and Abbey near Delisle, another small town (apparently this is the theme of this blog post). We saw some great birds... coots, grebes, a couple American avocets, some yellow-headed blackbirds... and we even saw a few muskrats! It was a lot of fun. Here's a picture Abbey took of me, taking a picture of a bird.

Well, today I get to drive 8 seniors up to camp! This is our first camp, so please pray for us. The non-stop week-after-week craziness of the summer begins today, but it starts off at a slow-ish, "senior" pace... plenty of crokinole and puzzles. Here's hoping my crokinole skills have improved since last year...

Oh man! I almost forgot to tell you the exciting news! Christine, my best of all Saskatonian friends, and her boyfriend Dan are... engaged! The wedding will probably be in mid-December, so I might have to move exams around to be part of it. Hopefully "my best friend's wedding" is a good enough excuse!

My Vancouver friends begin their road trip to Saskatoon a week from today... I'm counting down!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Don't inhale

Well, I guess I'm on blogging vacation right now. It's funny that I seem to blog less now that I don't have any homework... I think there might be a connection there.

Today was a really perfect day. It was hot outside. I went from 2 extra blankets two nights ago to only a sheet last night. This morning I helped out with an inner city clean-up that my church was volunteering at - picking up garbage in back alleys. My team was having an unofficial contest for weirdest piece of garbage found. I found a whole fish, all dried up. My dad found a chess piece - the king. Another person found dentures. I think she unofficially won the unofficial contest. I think the best find of the day was a vacant lot that would be absolutely perfect for an urban garden. There's even perennials growing there already. It used to be a garden. There's no gate, and a path runs through it. Maybe I could inspire a Jacob's Well-ian urban gardening movement here... too bad my church isn't in the inner city... Later in the day, I spent a lot of time reading, I went for ice cream with my parents, and I took some pictures of flowers. I think the only bad part of the day was two minutes ago, when I accidentally inhaled some toothpaste, straight down my throat. I don't recommend this - it got me coughing and coughing and I think I wrecked my windpipe.

Which is bad, because I have to do an announcement about camp at church tomorrow morning. I haven't really figured out what to say. I'm going to go to church with my dad 2 hours early. He will finish his sermon and I will prepare my announcement. Really what I want to say is "You all had better sign up for camp, because camp is only a third full, and it's going to suck if we don't have any people." But I think that's a little harsh. I need Rachel's help. She's tactful. (But seriously, pray for the camp if you think of it... we really are praying for more campers.)

Let's see... what else... well, I suppose I promised I'd write about the wedding and sleeping in a tent. The wedding was great. My favorite part was when both candlelighters arrived at their candles and simultaneously, their candles went out, and they looked anxiously at each other, then ran back up the aisle! I love little moments that lighten the mood at weddings. And I didn't sleep in a tent! Because of the rain, us "singles" decided to sleep in the "living area" of the hunting lodge where the "couples" of the group were staying. Unfortunately, this is also the area where 6 deer heads were affixed to the wall. I believe that explains my strange animals-coming-alive-and-killing-people dreams while I was there... Here's a picture of Rachel doing her best deer head imitation.

All in all, though, it was a good trip. We got to hang out with the newest batch of puppies, and we met the first member of the third generation at Homowebmape: 6-month-old Caleb. I took a lot of cute pictures. Oh yeah - another great story - we're driving to Brownfield as a family, and we're in Alberta when dad realizes he forgot his debit card at Tim Horton's. This wouldn't normally be a big deal, but him and my mom were planning on leaving from Brownfield to go to Calgary and fly to San Francisco for a week for his convocation. And my mom left her debit card at home for us. So they were money-less. The best part was the initial conversation in the car.

Dad: "Kids, how much money do you have on your debit cards?"
Rachel: "8 dollars".
Dad: "Um... Daniel?"
Daniel: "100 dollars."
Dad: "Beth?"
Beth: "I don't know.... maybe 400 dollars?"
Dad: "Is that the best we can do, kids?"

They took my debit card, but I don't think they even used it. They're so frugal. Frugal even though my dad is now a doctor. Haha. A doctor of ministry.

Well, I have a couple weeks left of work before I move up to camp for the summer. Mostly I'm looking forward to June 25th, when 3-4 of my good friends from Vancouver are taking a road trip to come visit me! Having Saskatoon as a destination for a road trip is pretty much unheard of in Vancouver. That's how much they love me. We're going to hang out in Saskatoon and then up at camp. I really can't wait...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Boring, perhaps.

This may well be the longest it's taken me to post a blog (2 and a half weeks!) and the most boring blog I've written. But I thought I would write. In case you started thinking I died.

Since "boring" is the theme, why don't I start with the weather? Today I called up to camp, 2 hours north of here, and it was snowing. It wasn't much warmer here in Saskamatoon. I am sleeping in a tent all weekend, and here's hoping the weather improves. But at least I will be in Alberta. Maybe they're stashing all the warm weather somewhere over there. My family is driving out for our annual Homowebmape gathering (see blog from May last year). It will be different this time, though, because one of us is
getting married - Ashlyn Webber. That doesn't usually happen, so it will be fun to participate.

How have I been so busy that I haven't blogged, you ask? Well, I work 9 to 5 now. Which is easier than the life of a student in many ways, especially because at 5, you're done. No homework. You can do what you want with the evening. I have mostly read books, watched "Lost" (a very good substitute for "Alias") and gone for coffee. Actually, coffee is a theme for me right now, because that's what I do for a living. I take potential camp staff out for coffee in informal job interviews. Except that I don't like coffee, so I usually purchase a hot non-coffee beverage. I'm not going to lie, it's a pretty sweet job. I do other things too, things that involve sitting at a desk and not doing any exercise to work off all the hot non-coffee beverages. And in the evenings, I sit some more. Good thing I'm going up to camp in a few weeks, where the potential for my bo
dy moving around is slightly higher.

Otherwise, I'm just enjoying life with the family for a while. I love when we're all
around the table for a meal. And I'm looking forward to the road trip this weekend. Next week it will be just us kids, because my parents are going to San Francisco for my dad's Doctor of Ministry convocation. Rachel will take over the role of "mom", because she's feeling domestic lately. I will be the eldest daughter, and I will help out when required, such as in the cooking of butter chicken. Daniel will mostly sing falsetto for us, because he will soon be auditioning for the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at his school, and the song is very high.

Also... I am learning Greek. I have a goal to test out of the first semester of Greek and take semester 2, so I'm trying to do a little bit every day. Danice gave me a textbook and I bought a workbook on Amazon. We'll see if I can keep it up when I'm at camp.

Emotionally, I've settled down a bit. Sometimes the pangs of Vancouver memories hit me and I wish I were there, but I think most of my conscious mind has re-rooted itself. Jodi wrote something
interesting about feelings of "uprootedness" in an e-mail to me:
"I think this restlessness is probably a good thing, it reminds us that our true home
is with God and that our hearts are and will be restless until we find our
home in him. How then, to keep the heart soft for that final homecoming when there
are so many home-like-comings and home-like-leavings in the meantime? And
how do we become more and more integrated rather than more and more
dis-integrated in the process? It is easy to have different personas in

different places. But perhaps the preparation for our final homecoming is
to bring those different personas together into the image-bearers we were
created to be."

I think this is very true in my life. I don't feel like I'm two-faced, but I do feel like different people bring out different sides in me. So besides missing people in Vancouver, I miss the parts of me that aren't as fully expressed when I'm not around them. I miss myself. For example, Danice has a way of bringing out the goofiest side of me, and the part of me that just wants to talk and talk about everything and anything that happened in my day. I don't feel as free to be goofy or to talk like that here, and it's not that I'm uncomfortable doing those things around people here, it's just that it's not as natural. But I love the proud and admiring big sister side that only comes out when I'm here. So maybe it's about figuring out how to express all of these things no matter where I'm at. Or maybe it's about accepting that these are all great parts of me that can take turns. I don't know...

Well, I'm really running out of things to say... I'm sure I'll have more after my tent and wedding escapades this weekend. I promise to write again soon. In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures from a family walk we had by the river. The policemen were herding the geese from the road
back to the river. I guess this is what keeps the police busy in Saskatoon - it took four of them, it seems.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hanging out with the Baptists

Well, as of today I am a working woman. You can find me at Emmanuel Baptist Church, working for the Quest camp, for the next 5 weeks. I am still feeling quite uprooted and confused, but at least now I'm a productive uprooted-and-confused person. Today's goal was to figure out how to copy information from last year in the computer program we use for our registrations, called "EZ Camp". Turns out it's not so "easy" to use. Actually, it's hands down the most unintelligible and illogical program I've ever tried to make sense of. But today, I conquered it, I made it do what I wanted, and that is a job well done. I also got to know my coworker Jeff a lot better, and I'm getting more and more excited about the way the summer is shaping up.

I must tell you about last weekend. Last weekend I went to Banff to participate in the Baptist Union of Western Canada General Assembly. I thought I was going just to play piano in a worship team a few times, and otherwise goof off with Chris in Banff, maybe hang out with Jodi a bit... but God had much larger plans. He was really sneaky and underhanded this time. He lured me there and got me hooked on my own denomination. You see, I've never been very attached to the idea of being a Canadian Baptist, or even a Baptist. Apparently, this is true of many Baptists. Attending a multi-denominational (trans-denominational?) Bible school certainly hasn't helped. If anything, I've become wary of denominationalism and eager to focus on what we all share as Christians. And I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing.

But this weekend I discovered that it's also not a bad thing to feel a sense of belonging to a larger family of churches. I realized that the Canadian Baptist family of churches that I was "born into" - that I did not choose - is also a family that I would gladly choose if given the choice today. T
his assembly presented me with a seemingly uncool and innocuous group mostly consisting of middle-aged men and women, who were in fact undercover rebels and renegades steering the denomination in a radical direction. I was actually so excited by the kinds of decisions they were making that I sat through a whole morning of business meetings. I saw them pass an ambitious budget, change the denomination's name to bring it into greater solidarity with our sister denominations in Canada, and restructure the board so that more time would be spent "doing" and less time sitting in meetings.

I heard so many stories about churches and ministries moving outs
ide the walls of the church and meeting needs... farmers from rural Alberta sending grain to Kenya during a famine, professors from Carey educating pastors and lay leaders in Africa and Latin America, churches in Vancouver entering into the suffering of Pickton's victims, and found out that my denomination supports ministries I've come to value while at Regent, like A Rocha and REED - showing concern for justice, crying out on behalf of exploited women and the exploited earth. I saw the leadership of the denomination pass to a woman president, and witnessed many male leaders reaffirming the Canadian Baptist belief and practice of ordaining women and expressing their gratitude for the perspective and leadership of their female colleagues. I heard words like "kingdom" and "shalom" repeatedly, and realized that these people are passionate about the same things I've become passionate about at Regent and at Jacob's Well. I saw it written on the faces and in the tears of the leaders as they described the good work that is being done and that is yet to be done. Suddenly people I hadn't even met were affirming my choice to do the M Div, offering to support my education financially and praying for me. I felt a true sense of belonging, something resonated deep inside me, and I could see myself standing on the shoulders of all these new heroes of mine, following in their footsteps.

People who grow up in Christ-following families often speak of a time when they "made the faith their own". I guess you could say this weekend I made the denomination my own. It's obviously not as big a deal, but it's a pretty big deal for me as I look ahead to a career in ministry. I'm still open to God leading me in a different direction, but at this point, whether in pastoring, camping, or missions work, I would be thrilled and proud to work with the Canadian Baptists.

I leave you with some pictures I took on the drive to Banff... which was, to me, a wonderful rediscovery of the beauty of the prairies, an experience that felt like being unfurled and opened up under the big, big sky.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


So it’s been forever. I know. The end got quite busy.

Let’s start with the present and move on from there. I am in my bed in Saskatoon. I’ve slipped back into my other very familiar stream of my life. Everything is almost the same. Except there’s a new bench at the side entrance of my house. The Ford Escort had been totaled and replaced with… a Ford Escort, but a newer model, more sporty. Dad has a couple more grey hairs in his beard. Oh, and there is now a neighbor kid two doors down who practices his bagpipes on his driveway every day after school.

Saskatoon is what Saskatoon is once the snow is almost all gone… brown expanses of dead grass, bare brown trunks of trees, and matted piles of brown leaves from last fall that didn’t get raked because the snow came by surprise. Gravel all over the roads, sprayed there over the winter to make them less slippery. Unlike the ice, gravel doesn’t melt – it has to wait to be washed away. It blows around in the wind, creating desert-like sandstorms and making my eyes dry. Nevertheless, everyone is thrilled, because according to many, it is warm enough to wear shorts and T-shirts. I try not to think about the magnolias and the cherry trees and the daffodils and the drastic reduction of my outdoor color palette, and I comfort myself with the thought that I’ll get to experience spring all over again. Saskatoon really does become beautiful. It may actually be beautiful right now, and I just can’t see it because I have yet to remove my Vancouver glasses.

Don and I were talking today about whether it feels like I’m two different people, and whether I like myself better here or there. I like to see it more as a question of roles. I play much different roles here than there, roles with more history. Which can be good or bad - sometimes history is wonderfully rich, and sometimes it is more limiting. I get to be the proud and loving big sister, and that’s one of my favorite roles. I get to sit on the stairs and listen to Daniel practice singing and playing his sax and remember how crazy talented he is. I get to welcome Rachel home from her backpacking trip in Europe, and jump back into our playful banter and we get to laugh at each other as if the months hadn’t passed. I get to be a daughter and feel my parents’ love more directly. I get to throw wood on the friendships that have been slowly burning over the last four months, through e-mails and phone conversations, the ones that remember me and wait for my return.

But I won’t pretend it wasn’t hard to leave this time. Vancouver and its associated relationships are gripping me more tightly than they have before, and the pain of leaving has made me somewhat melancholy over the past couple of days. I have found a real place at Kits Church in Vancouver, and I don’t want to miss out on what happens there over the summer. I have enjoyed being Gospel Choir member and daily beach visitor and transit supporter. Mostly, I have become attached to my roommates. I remember leaving last year and awkwardly hugging Danice, but this time, I was a blubbering mess, crying halfway to the airport. I have no clue how I ended up with such great roommates, especially having witnessed the much more difficult roommate relationships some of my friends have had. And they really love me too, so much that a couple of them are making a road trip to Saskatoon (an unheard-of road trip destination) to visit me later on this summer! I can’t wait.

I guess I could catch you up on what I haven’t written about in the last month, and tell you about singing in the amazing final Gospel Choir concert, seeing Danice play in a Balinese Gamelon, going to Galiano Island with my Christian Imagination class, and touring around Vancouver with my mom, but I’m trying to live in the moment right now, and this is where I’m at. I’m excited to be here, I’m enjoying taking up some good roles in people’s lives, and I’m happy to get caught up with everyone again, but at the same time, I feel like I’ve left a big piece of myself behind in Vancouver, and I’m still trying to sort through the resulting confusion and ache.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

a Vancouver poem

Ok, I need some feedback on this poem, especially from Vancouverites... I'm presenting it as part of a project this weekend. This project is what I've been so busy with that I haven't been able to blog... along with the exam I'm writing tomorrow morning. Pray for me! More to come soon...

One day
when I wasn't
paying attention

I slid the red-soled freighters
over my feet and
plodded leisurely across the water

I felt the stroke of the sea on
my sandstrewn nape;
its tides scattered all my seastar freckles

my hair flowed down in cascading
tresses, coursing into the gutters and
drowning every sidewalk

my fingers crept up through the knuckled branches
of the catalpas lining tenth ave, hands
hardening inside gnarled mossgreen gloves

my back assumed the curve of the downtown skyline,
each gleaming building a glassy vertebra
slotted stepwise into my spine

I meandered through
the evergreen neverbrown of it
the mountainheight oceandepth of it
until it recognized me...

all at once
thousands of cherry blossoms
unfurled their blushing flags
across my face

Friday, March 23, 2007

Blue screen (and blue rain) of death

Someday I will tell you the story I promised, about the Best/Worst Youth Retreat Ever. Suffice to say it involved walking back and forth through the snow, in the rain, for hours, snowboarding for the first time in my life and doing wicked awesome but finding upon reaching the base of the mountain that the power went out, so the chairlifts weren’t working, having to walk up the mountain with the snowboard, one of the youth kids having an asthma attack on the walk up the mountain, and one of the coolest nights of worship and prayer.

The rain has been pretty constant this month. I watched the weather tonight, and it is somehow three degrees warmer in Saskatoon right now than it is in Vancouver. There is something seriously wrong here. I wouldn’t mind so much if rain didn’t make me so COLD. You get wet, and then you’re in buildings that aren’t built for keeping people warm, so you end up colder than in Saskatoon, where you’re only cold for the five seconds it takes to get from the car to the house. Most people are depressed here. Some are very skilled at handling the situation. I saw a lady hold her umbrella between her chin and her shoulder, still keeping her dry as she used both hands to find her bus pass in her purse. Incredible.

I have a worry greater than weather right now, and it is called the blue screen of death. This is the actual term for my problem. Even as I’m typing this, I’m aware that at any moment, without notice, the blue screen of death may appear and my computer will restart. This has been happening at least once a day for the past few days. The blue screen of death says “Commencing physical memory dump.” This does not sound like a good thing. I’ve got everything copied over onto another hard drive, and I’m basically waiting for my computer to finally crash and burn, and saving my documents every few minutes. My dad hopes it will hold until I come home. My back-up plan is Danice’s “extra” computer, which she borrows from her church for youth ministry stuff. It is a Mac Ibook. I’ve never used a Mac. I guess it would be sweet irony to be forced across the vast Mac-PC divide because of memory problems in my PC. We’ll see what happens… but if you think of it, you could pray for my ailing computer.

I spent much of today drinking tea. Because of a weird shortage of volunteers today at Jacob’s Well, and their commitment to send people out in pairs, and a necessary visit to a downtown friend who insists on making inappropriate comments to women (and therefore cannot be visited by them), I had to wait for my fellow volunteers at Mr. Donair. I had loose tea, which is served with a full mint sprig in the mug, and a cup of dates on the side. It was excellent. I read some of Shane Claiborne’s “The Irresistible Revolution,” which is awesome, and makes me excited about being involved at Jacob’s Well. I later had more tea with Pauline, the 92-year old woman who started Jacob’s Well, and for the past 30 years has been walking the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, talking to all of her friends on the street, a practice she continues to this day. Pauline believes in the power of Scripture to change people, and she often gives little slips of paper with Bible verses to her friends. She rarely finds these slips discarded on the street. Talking to her is quite the experience… one minute she’s talking about how someone wanted to murder her, and then became her friend, the next minute she’s speaking forcefully about the need to command demons out of people, and then she looks at her watch and says it’s time she went home to feed her cat, Marmalade.

Well, I should get to my work… one major assignment to accomplish weekly until the semester ends three weeks from now. I’ll leave you with a challenging quote from Claiborne’s book…

“When the church becomes a place of brokerage rather than an organic community, she ceases to be alive. She ceases to be something we are, the living bride of Christ. The church becomes a distribution center, a place where the poor come to get stuff and the rich come to dump stuff. Both go away satisfied (the rich feel good, the poor get clothed and fed), but no one leaves transformed. No radical new community is formed. And Jesus did not set up a program but modeled a way of living that incarnated the reign of God, a community in which people are reconciled and our debts are forgiven just as we forgive our debtors (all economic words). That reign did not spread through organizational establishments or structural systems. It spread like disease – through touch, through breath, through life. It spread through people infected by love.”

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rivers and snakes

Hey everyone!

Sorry for my blogging absence. It turns out that figuring out what to do with your life is time-consuming, and I’ve spent a couple weeks catching up at school and trying to figure out how to finish all my assignments before the semester is through, which is sooner than you’d think. I’ve got the plane ticket home – my mom is visiting me for a few days, and we’re flying back together on Apr. 18th. What I’ll do when I get there is still TBA.

Since deciding on the MDiv, I’ve felt quite peaceful with myself, and much more purposeful in my classes. Actually, more purposeful in everything. I’ve been trying to see lessons in everyday occurrences, things I can learn about myself and my gifts, and about how to be a Christian leader, how to love people more deeply. It’s refreshing to feel the momentum of this decision, even though I’m not sure exactly where I’m going. Realities are starting to sink in… how many more classes I need to take, how much it will cost, how challenging church-related jobs are, the huge responsibility that comes with teaching people about God. Generally, though, I feel like I’m growing into myself, and I love it.

I’ve been thinking about all the different streams of personality that make us who we are. Passions, interests, gifts, experiences, all running alongside each other, coming out in different ways. I like to picture myself on a rubber dingy in one of those lazy rivers at a waterpark, where there is a slow current carrying me along. (I remember my dad losing his keys in one of these lazy rivers when I was young…) There’s also several other little rivers parallel to mine, some with faster currents, some moving at a much slower rate. They intersect in some places, they twist and turn ahead, some slowing down and some picking up speed. I see my decision to do the MDiv as me grabbing my dingy, climbing out of my lazy river, and jumping into a faster stream, getting carried away along it. The slower “biology” stream is still there, still flowing, still part of me - I will always find outlets for that passion. It will still feed into whatever I teach people in ministry, and the time and money I’ve spent studying biology will never go to waste. Who knows? Maybe it will build speed further along the way - maybe in another season of life, that will be my calling. Or maybe God will delight me by joining the two streams together and forming a larger and even faster river. But basically the last month has been about God taking off my river blinders, showing me that there are fast-flowing, rushing parts of who I am that I’ve been ignoring, because my lazy river was a lot safer and less controversial and still a lot of fun. It’s been fascinating to zoom out and see all the flowing streams of who I am, and to discover that I’m much more complicated than I thought, and to remember that no matter what I do, these beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) elements will keep flowing through me, showing up as hobbies and passions and careers and interweaving their way through my life. But right now, I’m feeling this burst of exhilaration at the whitewater rapids that are carrying me along into the MDiv.

I’ve been reading some great books lately… for my Systematic Theology class, we all had to read John Stott’s “The Cross of Christ”. There is a lot about the cross that I’ve never considered in depth, even with 23 years of church, 23 seasons of Lent. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to think more about the cross- it covers a lot of ground, but it’s very readable. It’s got me thinking a lot about sin, which isn’t such a bad thing to think about during Lent. Stott says that until we realize what a big deal sin is, until we stop sauntering presumptuously up to God, we won’t experience the true joy of forgiveness or the depth of love he showed at the cross. Stott also quotes from a book by Harvey Cox called “On Not Leaving It To The Snake”. Cox’s idea is that sin is not so much rooted in pride, in wanting to be God - but instead in apathy. For Eve, this meant letting a snake tell her what to do, an animal over which God had given her dominion. She refused to be truly human; she “went with the flow” and surrendered responsibility for her actions. This is apathy and sloth. I see a lot of it in myself.

I’ve also thought about something I read last year about how we “unpersecuted” Christians in North America experience suffering, how we can still identify with passages about suffering in the Bible, like 1 Peter. We still suffer in the process of sanctification, like every Christian. Becoming holy is a painful process. Actually, sin in our lives is often more the avoidance of pain than the temptation of pleasure. We want to lie to avoid the pain honesty brings. We want to cheat to avoid a bruised reputation. We want to sin sexually to avoid the pain of deep unmet emotional and physical needs. Sometimes what I need to remember is that denying myself and taking up my cross is a defiant (and often painful) action against the apathetic, pain-avoiding ease of sin. It’s better to choose to suffer and let God sanctify me than to take the easy way out and let the snake tell me what to do. I don’t know why, but thinking about sin this way gives me more of a passion to see God destroy it in my life, it gives me an eagerness to suffer in self-denial, to refuse to give in, to experience his sanctifying work.

That's all for now - maybe later I'll tell you the story of my weekend, which I will title "The Worst and the Best Youth Retreat Ever".