Friday, December 1, 2017

December Downer

Sometimes, the coming of December is hard. Such high expectations accompany it's arrival. Perfectionism that lies dormant most of the year - or is at least more or less under control - suddenly blazes to life, goaded into action by how things are supposed to be.

Whose idea was it, anyway, that everything had to be perfect at Christmastime? Where did that come from? All of a sudden, people feel the pressure to present a flawless - and more often than not, false - face to the world; to be merry and bright, regardless of reality.

But what if things aren't so merry and bright in your world? What if your life doesn't even remotely resemble what you hoped it would/thought it should by now?

Maybe it's your health - cancer was not in your life plan. Nor an early heart attack. And definitely not those forty extra pounds.

Maybe your family - or lack thereof.

Maybe your finances - or lack thereof.

Maybe your relationships - conflict and indifference and pettiness and strife and strain or abuse or neglect or abandonment.

Maybe your career - stuck in a dead-end job you hate; or no job at all.

I want to believe that it's the power of the true meaning of Christmas that overshadows all of these issues and fills us to overflowing with gratitude for Jesus and love for humanity and joy to the world - but I'm not convinced. I have no doubt that God wants to give us joy, no matter what our circumstances, but I don't think the joy of the Lord would manifest itself in over-spending and over-indulgence, denial and pretense.

Can we just stop all the forced merry-making? Can we stop spending hundreds of dollars we don't have on things our loved ones don't need? Can we stop feeling obligated to stuff our faces with every single goody offered us? Can we drop these ridiculous expectations to feel a certain way this Christmas?

Have I just totally thrown cold water on your Christmas warm fuzzies? I really am sorry if this post is a downer. Maybe you love Christmas - maybe, for you, it's the one time of year when everything is as it should be all the time - family together, giving generously, loving our neighbour, caring for the poor and needy, giving thanks for the real gifts...

Maybe that's the real issue here - all that's best and most genuine in this season should be evident year-round, not just for a few weeks in December.

All I know is that December's arrival set something off in me this year - a hunger, a wanting, an impatience, a yearning; a dissatisfaction with the way the season's been hijacked and distorted.

I want less, but I also want more - something essentially, qualitatively different. Is that even possible?

How about you? I'd really love to hear your thoughts on all this - I need a fresh perspective.

Image result for Christmas images



 

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's Not Easy Being Green

Maybe you heard about the crazy wind/rain storm that hit southern Ontario yesterday (October 15th)? Over sixty thousand homes without power, tons of downed trees and power lines, lots of damage to property. Not too far from us, four under-construction homes were flattened. Somehow, we escaped with no harm done. But what a wild storm! It didn't last long, but wow! Fierce winds, torrential rain, trees swaying and bending...

And leaves everywhere! We live near the top of a hill, and we watched in awe as swarms of colourful leaves chased one another down our street through the pouring rain.

Now for a little back story. We've been in southern Ontario since the middle of summer. We had lived in Edmonton for several years before we moved, where Autumn comes pretty early, usually by mid-September (or earlier!). I think that by now, most years, the majority of leaves have at least changed colour, if not already fallen.

And so, subconsciously, that was my expectation for Fall here in Waterloo. We happen to live in an area surrounded by miles of gorgeous woodsy trails - such a kind gift from a loving Father to His nature-obsessed daughter ❤ On my very first walk through those leafy woods, I looked waaay up at that whispering maple canopy and thought to myself, "How amazing will this be in the Fall?!"

Every time I had the chance to escape to the woods, I would look anxiously for signs of my favourite season, but was always left wanting. All I ever saw was green, green and more green! Which was lovely - it really was - but not what I was so eagerly anticipating!

(I caught myself a few times, each time admonishing myself to try to enjoy the moment, to not wish the season away, etc... but I forgot pretty quickly.)

Finally, but ever so slooowwwly, the leaves began to change. But even still, my heart wasn't satisfied. I was still chomping at the bit - I wanted more! More colour, more change, more cooler days and nights...

Back to yesterday's storm. Before the wild winds hit, maybe thirty percent of the leaves had shown their true colours. As I stood in my window, watching the foliage fly by, I realized it was only the leaves that had already changed that were being carried away on the wings of the wind. The green leaves, though violently tossed about, still clung to their branches.

If I had gotten my way, every leaf in Waterloo would be on the ground right now. Autumn would be over.

Maybe it's a bit of a silly lesson, but it spoke volumes to me. What this tells me is that I can trust God's timing. He's always right on time. So I don't need to worry or whine or push or plead or bargain or beg. He knows, and even more astounding - He cares!

And if this truth applies to something as minor as a little whim of mine, surely I can trust Him with the big stuff, too. And that, my dear friends, equals peace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

So I'll wait for all that green to transform into the reds and oranges that my heart loves - at least a little more patiently 😊



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Right Stuff

I'm in the process of looking for a job here in our new city. On the one hand, I'm extremely thankful. It's been a very long time since I've felt able to work at all. The fearful, skeptical side of me keeps watching and waiting... for this motivation and desire to get out there and make a difference that has persisted for months now to fade away, but by the grace of God it's still here (hallelujah!).

On the other hand, it's a little stressful. The numbers don't lie, people. I really need to be working at least part-time - and soon - if our family is to thrive here long-term, which is the hope. And so the (self-inflicted) pressure's on to find that fantastic, elusive something... Something that will at the same time be fulfilling, valuable and lucrative. (And something I can actually do.)

And on the other hand (wait, that's three hands - oops), it's a little like torture for this recovering people-pleaser. Every time I submit a resume, an opportunity for rejection is created. Eek! (The only thing as bad as rejection is confrontation - which is the inevitable result of a positive response to said resume...) The fear of rejection is stirring up all kinds of muck from my past - that little voice that whispers coldly and cruelly, "Why in the world would anyone want to hire you?"

I'm applying for all kinds of jobs; from a cookie factory to a bookstore, from photography to farm produce sales, and more! As I read the many and varied job descriptions, I am continually self-evaluating: could I do that, be that, perform to that level, meet that employer's expectations? In light of all this soul-searching appraisal and my own checkered history of see-sawing self-esteem, it's a testament to God's gracious work in my life that I've had the courage and confidence to answer any of these ads!

So on the other hand (okay, this is really getting out of hand 😉), it's a really great opportunity to revisit the foundations of my true identity. My value lies not in what I do or do not do. Who I am is not defined by my work - or lack thereof. My job title does not determine my worth. Because, in short - I'm a daughter of the King of the Universe!

Today, that truth confirms two things for me: 1) My Dad - the King - has a great plan for me and my family, as well as the power and authority to carry it out and 2) He has given me/will give me the right stuff to get the job done - whatever it turns out to be.

And that takes me from fear and self-doubt to peace. I like it here, I think I'll stay awhile. ❤❤