The best laid plans…

So a couple of weeks ago I posted that I was in a bit of a financial struggle and that I’d put myself on a strict budget for this month, and a non-essential-spending freeze until June.

Today I was so proud of myself because I’d made it to the end of the month adhering to my budget. I was even going to head out to the grocery store for a round of not-as-restricted-as-last-time groceries. So I got into my car, and…it wouldn’t turn on. Gah!

I know what has happened – the battery is dead. I’m pretty sure that it’s because a door wasn’t properly shut and I haven’t been in my car since Saturday (more than 72hrs by the time I was heading out to the grocery store today). The dome light in my car would have been on the entire time, which drained the battery.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: call someone for a boost, Rebekah! But the thing is, my car is in my (rather small) garage at the moment. You can’t reach it to boost. And because of anti-theft features, you can’t just pop it into neutral and push it out of the garage, either.

So…after smacking my head against the wheel a few times (and uttering some unsavoury language – c’mon, it’s the truth), I headed back inside to call the tow truck company to come and give me a portable boost. As I said, this has happened before. The thing that made me really mad was that this was going to cost me $50, which was not in my carefully planned budget. Grrrr.

While I sat here waiting for the boost and stewing about the cost of it, I thought of CAA. See, after the last time this happened, I thought I should sign up for membership. But within a short time I forgot about it completely, and I never did anything about it. As I waited, I thought I’d better sign up for CAA now. That made me even angrier, because the cost of a membership wasn’t in the budget, either.

But then I thought of something. If I was going to pay for the CAA membership anyway, wouldn’t it make sense to cancel the boost, put off the grocery shopping for a couple of days, and then get a boost from CAA once my membership is active?

And that is exactly what I did.

Little hiccups in life like this one sometimes drive me slightly crazy. I give them more energy and attention than they deserve. I stress about them more than I ought.

So tonite I am taking the time to count my blessings when the hiccups come. Todays blessings:

  • I am actually stupidly proud of myself for figuring this out so that I didn’t end up double spending (on the boost and the CAA membership).
  • I am deeply thankful that I live right next door to my work and that the only appointment I have ‘off campus’ in the next two days should be fairly easy to re-locate to a walk-able distance (or get a ride to).
  • I have enough food in the fridge and the freezer that I don’t need to panic about not getting to the grocery store.

They might seem small – but those are actually pretty big blessings in the scheme of things!

Journey…

Right now the church where I serve is on a journey. We are looking for a new Lead Minister. Tonite our Session (board of elders) approved the ‘profile’ for this position. Basically this is a resume that our church will release to help candidates decide whether this is where they are called to serve.

Having a profile that is ready to be released is a big step forward. This is the point where the rubber starts to meet the road. Our Search Committee will be receiving profiles from candidates over the next couple of months and they will begin to figure out which candidates stand out, which they want to pursue, and which they don’t.

It is an exciting time for our congregation and an uncertain time. I am please we are moving forward, but I am also wondering what the future holds. I do not know. I am not spending my time worrying and stressing about it, but I am aware that things could be drastically different at St. A’s in another year.

All of this to say that I would appreciate your prayers as we continue on this journey. If you could ask God to give us wisdom, courage, patience and the ability to trust that He is the one leading us on this journey to His appointed destination, I’d sure appreciate it!

Contemplating a rest

So I have been blogging every day since November, now. I really enjoy the daily discipline of writing. I like the time at the end of my day to think back over significant moments. But I am also noticing that there is a pattern to it. And by Sunday evening, I am in need of a rest. My blogging buddy, Michelle has tackled this by instituting ‘Silent Sundays’ (in which she posts a pic instead of writing a blog entry).

While I love that idea, I have to admit, I am not keen on doing it myself. I know I would arrive at about 11pm and be scrambling to figure out a photo I could take before deadline.

All of this to say that I am contemplating the idea of Sunday being a rest day for my blog. So do not fear if you don’t see a post from me next Sunday…I am simply partaking in the Sabbath and will return to writing the next night.

Craig Groeschel (a preacher & church leader who I enjoy) once said: sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is rest.

Amen, brother.

I. Am. CANADIAN!

As soon as it started to get really chilly this fall, I stopped using my barbeque. I just didn’t want to be cooking outdoors with the cold and the rain.

But last week I was looking through my freezer to see what I have ‘in stock’ that I can use for meals. I’m on a tight budget at the moment, and I figured it would be wise to use up some of the food I have in my freezer.

So tonite saw me returning to grilling. In the midst of a snow storm. Recently I’d been on a bit of a vegetarian kick, eating veggie chili or black bean soup for supper (both of which, I absolutely love, but I felt like a bit of a break). But in the past couple of days, I’ve been craving protein (as one friend says REAL protein, not what you can get from beans and cheese). I had to smile to myself as I threw on a toque and winter jacket each time I went to check on the food I was grilling (steak, pineapple, red peppers, zuchinni…YUM!).

I don’t think there is much that feels as truly Canadian as grilling in a snowstorm. So, half a year before patriotic celebrations come into season, I find myself thinking how much I love my country (even though I don’t love winter). And how glad I am that God has given me this place for my home.

C’mon Canadian friends, say it with me: I. AM. CANADIAN!!!!

Crap! I gotta bog!

It is Friday night and I am hanging with my friends in Oshawa. I have no brilliant or deep spiritual thoughts other than: friends, food, laughter and Scotch are a great combination. And I am happy to be alive. I hope that where ever you are, you are also surrounded by people you love and blessed by good times that will become good memories.

Fear God???

Today I had a great experience at Lunch with the Minister. This is a once-a-month event we have at St. A’s, where we invite everyone to bring their lunch, and come out for a time of fellowship and learning with the minister. We eat together in the great hall, and then the minister (which ever of us is leading Lunch with the Minister this month), spends some time teaching or sharing. After that, we open the floor up for discussion. Today, I decided to share the first video in Francis Chan’s BASIC series.

The film is called “Fear God” and speaks about the idea that we’ll never fully enter into relationship with God until we’ve come to a moment where we experience the fear of the Lord. Proverbs 9:10 tells us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

I’ve had the chance to watch this film a number of times now, and discuss it with two different groups. And each time, it has been interesting to see how people wrestled with this idea. I think Chan is talking about a moment – a moment of recognizing how big, powerful, awesome, and amazing God is – instead of an extended period of living in fear of God. But this seems to be a hard concept for us to grasp. I think we have a lot of baggage around the word ‘fear’ when it comes to God, and it was hard for each group to set that baggage aside and really hear what Chan was saying.

Even with that said, what was amazing as we discussed the film, was how willing everyone was to share their thoughts and feelings and experiences. It’s a beautiful thing to watch a group of believers wrestle with their understanding of God. And that is one of the many reasons my ‘job’ rocks!

Cop out!

I am doing a lot of writing for the church right now (annual report, column in the news letter, sermons, etc.) and I just don’t feel like I have a lot of words left in me tonite. So I thought I would share a poem – someone else’s words, instead of my own. Only, I couldn’t remember the name of the poem. I knew it was ee cummings, and there was some mention of the sky in it. But that’s all. I’ve been searching for this poem for a while now. Tonite as I searched for it, I suddenly remembered the line “than all the sky which only is higher than the sky”.

Yay! With that I was able to find it!

I am not sure I have ever known what this poem means, but I have always loved it.

So without further adieu, here is:

 

[love is more thicker than forget] by ee cummings.

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is more mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

Workin’ my core…

So I posted a couple of days ago about the plateau I’ve hit on my weight loss journey (one friend who sympathized renamed it the “FREAKIN’ Plateau” to properly express the emotional distress that it is causing). I decided, after reading some articles on weightwatchers.ca and whining to any of my friends who listen, to do something about it.

So today I began working on core strength training with my new stability ball. You know what? It was an absolute blast! I had SO much fun trying to stay on the ball (I’m so wobbly! My balance sucks! Hahahahahahha!) as I did my routine. I seriously couldn’t stop smiling afterwards. I want to do the work out again just to see if I’m any better (or worse!) at staying on the ball. But they tell you to take a day off in between workouts.

Still, I love the fact that I WANT to do these exercises. As someone who hates working out (seriously, I HATE it…I only do it because I don’t like how I was feeling when I didn’t do it), this is very exciting.

I think there is a trick when it comes to commitment or discipline. I think you have to find a sweet spot: something you like that helps you stick to your discipline. For example, it’s easy for me to be disciplined with Weight Watchers because it appeals to my rule-bound-ness and my love for list-making (really, tracking is just making a list every day of what you have eaten). It’s easy for me to be disciplined about walking every day because it has the added bonus of being something I do with friends (both the 2 legged AND the 4 legged variety). I think it will be easy to be disciplined about the stability ball because there is an element of fun to it.

I think one of the weird ideas we have about faith is that we need to be disciplined in it (praying, reading our bibles, going to church regularly, etc.), but somehow that is separate from having fun. What ever gave us that idea? Why do we think that way?

I don’t have an answer, but I know this: I am more likely to be disciplined in my faith if I am having fun in my faith. Just the same with all the other disciplines in my life. That’s why so much of my faith development takes place in conversation with other people, or through listening to preachers who I love, or by going out to choir practice because I love to sing, or by searching for glimmers of the Gospel in movies, tv, novels and songs.

Faith, like life, is meant to be fun.

 

My day with the Anglicans…

So Sunday marked the end of the week of prayer for Christian Unity. In the fall I was invited by the Rector, Rev. Dr. Byron Gilmore, of Christ Church Anglican to do a pulpit-swap in honor of the day. For the uninitiated – a pulpit swap is pretty much how it sounds – you and another minister swap churches for the morning. You go to their place, and they come to yours. I’ve done a pulpit swap before with another Presbyterian Church, but never with another denomination.

So this was quite the new experience to me. In fact, I have only every been to an Anglican church once before in my life (during my seminary days). Christ Church is a vibrant congregation and they have three services on a Sunday morning. Byron was kind enough to let me out of preaching at the 7:45am spoken Eucharist service (thank God…I’m not a morning person), but I was on for the 9am Contemporary and the 10:45am Choral Eucharist.

It is fascinating to me that the elements of worship are the same in the Presbyterian Church and the Anglican Church – we both read scripture, pray, sing, and preach – but the practice of the elements are quite different. The contemporary service was quite easy to follow, though I still managed to get lost on some of the liturgical responses. But the 10:45am was…well, let’s say I felt my fish-outta-water-ness in that service!

But you know what impressed me most about the whole experience? How kind and welcoming my Anglican brothers and sisters were. They were so thankful that I came to speak to them, they gave me flowers, they invited me to the potluck lunch after worship. It was quite wonderful.

And in all of that, I tasted a bit of heaven right here on Earth. The Associate at Christ Church, Stephanie, shared with the congregation that Byron had said at the 7:45am service “there are no denominations in heaven.”

Plateau-ing…

I’ve written before about the journey I’ve been on with Weight Watchers. I joined online in April 2011 and have lost a total of 57.8 pounds. So you’d think I’d be jumping up and down, right?

Nope.

I mean, I recognize what an accomplishment that is, I know it has taken a lot of hard work and discipline. I understand that there are a lot of people who have been inspired by my story, and more who wish that they could lose half that amount. I understand all of that. So why am I not jumping up and down?

Because I have hit a plateau. It happens. If you read up on the WW, they will tell you to expect it, and to try some small changes (maybe change up some things in your diet, or add another activity to your regiment). Those adjustments might help. But for the most part, a plateau is a thing to be waited-out. Just keep on course, stick to your points, do your exercise and your body will start to lose again.

It’s good advice, because it’s true. I’ve been through more than one plateau in the 9 months that I’ve been on this journey. And every time, I’ve done the same thing: toughed it out, made it through, and gone on to lose more once the plateau is over.

But the reality is – having been through it before doesn’t make it any easier to go through. I know what to do, I know I will make it through this, but I still find it very discouraging. I find myself doubting that I will ever lose another pound (I have 24 to go until goal weight). I find myself worrying that I will somehow, suddenly put all the weight back on (even though I’m not changing my meals or my exercise routine). It’s irrational, and yet there it is.

And you know what? I think the same thing happens in our spiritual journey. There are mountain tops – those moments when it feels like God is so very close and everything is new. And there are plateaus – times when it feels like it’s just another Sunday, just another sermon, just another prayer. And in the midst of the plateau, it is easy to find ourselves doubting, worrying, fearing, despairing.

I think these are the moments when we most need a community who can walk the road with us. I am part of a group on Facebook where a number of women gather and share about their weightloss journeys. Whenever I am feeling bummed that the scale hasn’t moved, these ladies give me a verbal slap upside the head, and remind me that there is much to be thankful for, that this too shall pass.

If we let it, the church can do the same for us in our spiritual plateaus. The community of believers – if we let them in on our struggles and plateaus – can pray for us, listen to us, share their faith with us and encourage us until we make it through to a better day.

I don’t have a brilliant ending for this post – I just got thinking about how these things mirror each other.

P.S. For those of you waiting for a report on my pulpit swap with a local Anglican minister: it’s coming, I just needed a little more time to process before I am ready to post!