Freedom…

The ongoing discussions around racism south of the border, and in our own country, have me thinking. These two videos are songs in response to all that is happening. They are posted by Americans, so speak specifically to the situation in the States. But I think there’s a lot of beauty and truth here, for people in all parts of this world.

First, Julian King, singing “I’m no longer a slave” (I hope this works for those of you who are not on facebook…please let me know if you weren’t able to view the video, and if possible, I will email it to you personally):

You can subscribe to Julian King’s YouTube here, and follow him on Instagram here, and on facebook here.

And second is Andrew Peterson’s new song, ‘A White Man’s Lament for the Death of God’s Beloved.” Andrew’s lyrics are always packed tight with Biblical imagery and deep theology. So I want to share those as well. It’s a long song, as Andrew has much to say on the subject. But worth more than one listen, for certain.

You can follow Andrew Peterson’s YouTube channel here.

Click on the images, to enlarge the lyrics:

I think there is a freedom to be found when we recognize that we ourselves are children of God, and that SO IS EVERYONE ELSE. (I yelled that last part for the people in the back who might not have heard it. 😉 )

Dear friends, until tomorrow – remember the One whose child you are, remember that everyone else is His child as well, remember that He is the One who sets us free!

Meme Monday!

Good Monday to you! Of the many things that 2020 has messed with, Monday has become a day off (most of the time) for me (Friday was a day off before). It’s also the day that I share some memes on the blog. It’s one of the easiest days of the week for me. 2020 has ruined all my “I hate Monday,”
jokes. Just another weird thing about this year!

EXACTLY:

This is pretty much my motto, goodness I love summer:

In case any of the younger folk are wondering what being an adult is like…(remember when you were in your teens and you couldn’t wait to be out on your own, in your own apartment with a real job? Ha. Ha. Ha.):

For those of us who are visual learners, I loved this simple and effective chart that makes the point about why the health measures are important (and why layering them up – staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask, keeping your physical difference – is the best course of action!).

I love my Mommy. She’s been building my character for years! (She knows I think she’s weird, we laugh about it ALL THE TIME – she once bought me a book entitled “My Mother is Weird” as a stocking stuffer!)

This reminder about how important it is to witness with the way you live:

It’s almost Canada Day, and this just felt like a NECESSARY meme this week:

A couple faith reminders…these could probably blog entries on their own, but I’ve been holding on to them for a while, and it felt like time to post them:

This reminder that our differences can be a blessing, if we allow them to be:

And finally, a blessing for your day:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep trusting in the LORD and find your happiness there!

WELCOME for these hard times…

Welcome to worship this Sunday. This is a special Sunday, in which we have partnered with the good folks at St. Phillip’s Lutheran Church to produce a joint servce.

Here is the bulletin (please download to your ipad or other device, or print off so you can follow along, join in responsive parts and sing along with the choir!):

And here, dear friends, is the service:

I want to express my thanks to the folks at St. Phillips for giving us this opportunity and for making it such a smooth and fun process! Bless you all!

And also sincere thanks to all our participants from Graceview. You are all awesome! And to my Dad for the special music!

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep welcoming everyone in Christ’s name. Amen!

Worship Resources…

Here are a few things to help you prepare your hearts for worship tomorrow, my friends.

First, I want to start with this video posted by my friend Rob Hennig. You can argue that “What a Wonderful World” isn’t a worship song. But I’d fight ya! Do you not know that God sees all the beauty of what our world is and can be – even when it’s a mess? I hope so. Be filled with hope (I ugly cried at this one) as you listen:

I literally never know that this song had verses to it – I only knew the chorus. So I’m pleased to have found this to share with you. Here is Shane and Shane singing, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus” (oh my goodness, those harmonies!!!!):

And a couple of thoughts, from a couple of great thinkers when it comes to worship:

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep living every moment as an act of worship!

Of haircuts and anxiety and knowing oneself…

I’ve been thinking a lot about mental health this week. It started with Wednesday’s post, which featured a “check your battery” meme. And then, yesterday, I posted about becoming your truest self (with the help of a gorgeous new song from NEEDTOBREATHE), and then last night I came across a video on Facebook posted by my colleague the Rev. Mark Chiang, who was a year ahead of me in studies at Knox College back in the day.

Mark shared about how quarantine has been affecting him, and about how the removal of some of his normal outlets (leading church, participating in meetings, and enjoying social gatherings, for example) had him feeling less present and more angry – not angry at anyone specific, but just generally angry.

I appreciated his vulnerability and honesty. He also spoke a bit about how the ‘reopening’ steps were causing him some anxiety. I felt that.

A few weeks ago, one of my elders asked me how much I was looking forward to getting a haircut when it was allowable. And my answer was – “I mean, I want a haircut as much as anyone else (maybe more than most!), but I don’t think I’ll be rushing right out to get one. I think I’ll wait a week or two, and see how things go.”

And when the announcement was made that Toronto and Peel (because my hair salon is in Brampton, which is Peel Region), were entering Phase 2, it took less than an hour before my hair dresser called. I booked for almost exactly two weeks from that day. On the one hand, I’m pretty swamped right now as I get ready to go away on some summer vacation. On the other hand, I just knew I needed time to process the newly relaxed ‘rules.’

I’ve known for a long time that I’m a process thinker. I need time to process new concepts, new experiences, new ideas. It takes time before I know what I think or what I want to do, in just about every situation I ever face.

And that’s ok. I know this about myself, and as I grow older I’m getting better at saying what I need (“Can I have a day or two to think about that?” is a phrase that literally saves my life regularly!).

My point, in all this, is that you may be just like me, or the exact opposite. Either way – you’re allowed to be the way you are. You’re allowed to ask for what you need. You’re allowed to do things at your own pace, to ensure that you can do them to the best of your ability.

You are absolutely allowed to learn new things about how God made you! And you’re absolutely allowed to be different than others.

Nothing you learn about you will come as a surprise to the One who made you. What a gift that He knows us even better than we know ourselves, that He made us and that we know He doesn’t make junk!

Until tomorrow, dear friends, be encouraged even in the midst of your struggles. Know that nothing about you surprises God or makes Him love you less. Keep on going, keep on growing, keep on learning!

Truest self…

If you’ve been following the blog recently, you know I’m very much anticipating a new album by NEEDTOBREATHE, one of my favourite bands.

In the midst of all that is going on in the world – whether virus, racism, or murder hornets – they continue to release songs in advance of the album, and talk about how this felt like a time when they needed to get the songs to their fans ASAP. I love that – because the band members understand how much their music means to people like me. People who might be feeling a little wear and worn and sad. People who need some inspirational music to help them along the way.

So today, they released a new song, but I also found this post from them on facebook (I recognize it’s from a few weeks ago, and references the higher tension those days were feeling around racism protests), and I thought it was just such a great testimony in the midst of these days:

“Giving our souls to the most important seat at the table,” is another way of saying ‘following Jesus, being on His mission.’ Saying that “humility is a gateway to love,” is another way of talking about the sacrificial life of Jesus, how his sacrifice reconciles us to God, and opens the gates of the purest love there is (God loving us with steadfast, endless, dedication).

The new song is entitled “Who am I,”:

You can preorder the new album Out of Body here.

Until tomorrow, dear friends, keep journeying towards your truest self – who God made you to be! And love others, just as God has loved you!

Check your battery!

I saved this on my phone many weeks ago, and just re-discovered it while looking for something else. I realized it’s been a while since I did a mental health post, so that’s what’s up today!

By now, we all know that the realities of COVID-19 are going to be with us for a while. We have been hearing the term “new normal” for a long while. Today, Toronto was allowed to enter Phase 2 of the re-opening. And while it did my heart good to see news reports of people enjoying the patios in our city, going for hair cuts, and wandering through malls, I have to admit, it also makes me anxious.

I know that I’m risk-averse. I like to plan, I like to have back-ups on my back-ups, I don’t like risk. And as long as COVID-19 is around, risk is all around us. So even as some things return to some semblance of routine, I’m still taking my time. For example – I’ve booked my hair appointment…for two weeks from now. I just wasn’t up to being the first person in line. And if, for any reason, I don’t feel up to it when the day comes – I will reschedule. It’s that simple.

All of that to say, in this crazy 2020 world of ours, it is deeply important to be aware of what your energy level is (it can change day to day, or even hour to hour!), and how you need to take care of yourself on any given day.

It’s ok if you need a little more time (or a lot more!) before you are ready to do some of the things that are “allowable” now. It’s ok if you need to protect your energy. It’s ok to move at your own pace, to set good boundaries and to be kind to yourself.

Remember, God loves you dearly. God loves you as if you were his only child (while simultaneously loving everyone else the same way! WOW! God is awesome!). If God – who is all-knowing and all-powerful – chooses to love you that much, don’t you think you owe yourself a little love, too?

Until tomorrow, dear friends, check your battery, and love you, because God sure does!

100 Days…

You know that saying – you don’t know what you don’t know. That’s hit home a lot over the last hundred days. I made a commitment to my Session and my congregation that I would blog every day while we were unable to meet in person for worship. At the time I thought I might be blogging for a month.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Now I’ve been at it for a hundred days. It’s a measure of time that the States use to take stock of what a new President has accomplished as their term begins.

So maybe it’s a good idea to take stock of the things that I’ve learned during one hundred days of blogging:

  1. It ain’t easy! Seriously, there have been days I have stared at a blank screen for hours before I finally came up with an idea of what to write about. There were times when the technology fought with me and my posts were late. There were days when I thought I was blogging about one thing, only to write about something totally different. But despite the difficulty, I do believe it has been worth it. And isn’t that a great life lesson – sometimes it’s difficult, but if it’s worth it, keep going!
  2. Come up with a plan. At the beginning, the only plan I had was to blog every day. As time went on, I figured out that I needed a plan – some days that I worked a little harder so that I could afford to take some other days off. I learned that having a routine around certain days (ie Meme Monday, Worship Resource Saturday, and Worship Sunday) would lighten the load overall because I wouldn’t feel the pressure to come up with an idea those days – I’d just have to fulfill the mandate of the day. Yeah. That’s sounding like another life lesson: being organized, having a plan and a routine, makes life easier to deal with in general.
  3. Change is constant, and that’s not a bad thing. When I began blogging I planned on only doing a little sermon video on Sundays. But when it became apparent that in-person worship would be suspended for quite a while, our musician Eric Medhurst stepped up and offered some music to add to the blog. And then one of our elders asked if she might contribute a video scripture reading. And now, when you come to the blog on Sunday morning, there is a whole little service there. It’s in pieces and you have to ‘assemble’ it yourself, (I like calling it an IKEA service – some assembly required), but it’s there. And it’s only possible because things have continued to change. So life lesson number three: things will always change, be willing to learn and adapt and grow!

I still don’t know what I don’t know. I was chatting with a colleague this morning and we were both wondering what church will be like when we are able to meet again. None of us know.

But here’s what I am sure of: faith will continue, God will be with us, our story isn’t over yet.

Until tomorrow, dear friends – trust in the Good Shepherd!