Moments of Transfiguration

Up and up  

They work to climb.  

 

Muscles burning in their calves  

Breathing a little harder 

Sometimes tripping when  

They don’t lift their feet high enough.  

 

Jesus just keeps going up and up,  

And they don’t quite understand  

His purpose  

And his steady sense of direction,  

But they are getting used to following  

With an open mind  

And with hope.  

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Their eyes are on where they came from,  

(a gleam)  

Their eyes are on each other,  

(a glimmer)  

Their eyes are on the ground,  

(a glisten)  

Their eyes are on the sky,  

(a burst)  

And then their eyes are on Jesus. 

(GLORY)  

 

They have never seen his whole self before.  

(So this is who he is!)  

Wonder.  

The joy of it.  

All of those years. 

All of those laws.  

All of those prophecies.  

Jesus pulls it all together and holds it firmly and lovingly

And it is  

BRILLIANT.  

 

Does such glory not demand a response?  

Peter gives it.  

“Jesus! Let us honour you! We will build-”  

 

A bright cloud.  

A voice.  

 

When you need to respond to the glory, you make it about yourself.  

This is not about you.  

This is purely about the glory.  

Stand still, for once,  

And just be covered.  

Just take it in.  

It’s not about you.  

It’s about  

The Glory.  

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This is terrifying. 

To allow yourself to be so small.  

To recognize that you have nothing to add.  

To only think about the glory.  

 

They fall and cover their faces.  

What else is there to do?  

 

Jesus touches them,  

And they go down the mountain together.  

When they look at Jesus they still see 

Gleams, 

Glimmers,  

Glistens,  

and 

GLORY.  

 

They will never unsee it.  

Their eyes are open now.  

 

Sometimes, they see that glory  

In the dark places,  

In other people,  

And even in themselves.  

Small bursts.  

Never complete,  

The way Jesus shone.  

But small bursts of glory.  

Glimmers of who they truly are  

And the Spirit they have within.  

 

Jesus just keeps going up and up and up. 

We are following with a trusting mind and with a hoping heart.  

Up and up,  

We work to climb,  

With  

Glimmers of glory guiding.  

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Where have you seen glimmers of glory? 

2019 Recap

2019 Recap

There are a lot of different ways that I could go about writing this post. So many that it’s a little overwhelming. I spent some time trying to figure out the most efficient AND comprehensive way to reflect on 2019, but found that all my answers to the thoughtful questions that the internet provided felt stiff and forced. So instead, I pulled out my journal and just made a list of what came to my mind when I thought about 2019. That is (more and less) what I will be sharing here. It’s long. It’s very long. 


A word for 2019-

DISORIENTING.

Not the worst year of my life,

Because what could be worse

Than being fourteen years old?

But seriously

DISORIENTING.

 

Made of so many bits and pieces-

How does one string them all together?

Do they even belong on the same strand?

I’m still trying to figure out what goes where,

And where the patterns appear.

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Some patterns are there.

Pursuit is a serious weakness of mine.

I’m great at doing a lot of work without accomplishing anything.

(This is not a good thing,

In case you are wondering.)

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a huge factor in how difficult I find it to make any kind of decision.

If I choose one thing, I sacrifice another thing,

And

I WANT IT ALL.

I actually do.

I want the babies and the career and the education.

I want Toronto and I want to live close to my family again.

I want tradition and I want to start fresh.

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2019

Had a lot of decisions in it.

 

I don’t think I made a single one of them.

I’m serious.

Not any of the big ones.

I did choose to paint our living room white,

Even though it was already a

Pretty nice green.

This was

ABSOLUTELY

The right choice.

 

I just about went crazy

With the decisions bubbling and brewing constantly inside me.

I’m still trying to figure out how to

Thoughtfully consider a decision

Without becoming consumed by it.

 

How do you make a big decision

When you feel like you’re up against a wall-

You feel like you simply cannot choose?

How do you do it?

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I wrote half of a play again this year,

With my dear friend

Meghan.

I struggled.

By struggled, I mean that

Every sentence

Had to be dragged

Kicking and screaming

From the trenches and mines

Of my heart and my soul,

And that might sound artsy and poetic,

But let me tell you-

The trenches and mines inside me

Seemed to be bent on producing

More lumps of coal

Than gold.

I had a mass of ideas, emotions, and truths inside me,

And NOTHING fit together

No matter how many index cards and charts I wrote.

I produced writing that was

Too much

In some places

And

Not enough

In other places.

At the end of it all,

I had to complete and release a creative project

That I had not yet started to fully love.

The love might come later.

I’m hopeful.

And scared.

I pray to be humble enough to watch the play in the spring without comparing and cringing,

And humble enough to try again in the future.

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In the fall, I job-searched.

I went to several interviews

Without getting the job.

Let’s just say that

I took it personally.

(Even though I knew I shouldn’t.)

One place had me come for a trial shift.

And then they asked me to come for a second trial shift.

And then I never heard from them again.

This bothered me a lot.

But also, both times that I was there,

I felt absolutely sick with anxiety even after I left.

I’m think I’m thankful it didn’t work out.

But I’m also sad,

Because they had the best croissants

And because

I don’t know what I did wrong.

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My faith has changed.

I don’t know of how else to say it.

I think about the Bible differently than I used to.

A friend asked me to expound on that statement,

And I floundered.

I realized later that I literally didn’t have the language to explain what I might be starting to believe now.

I’m learning a new language, and some authors like

Science Mike and Rachel Held Evans

Are helping me.

“The Bible isn’t an answer book. It isn’t a self-help manual. It isn’t a flat, perspicuous list of rules and regulations that we can interpret objectively and apply unilaterally to our lives. The Bible is a sacred collection of letters and laws, poetry and proverbs, philosophy and prophecies, written and assembled over thousands of years in cultures and contexts very different from our own, that tells the complex, ever-unfolding story of God’s interaction with humanity. When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word (like manhood, womanhood, politics, economics, marriage, and even equality), we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t fit our tastes. In an attempt to simplify, we try to force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone, to turn a complicated and at times troubling holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.”
― Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood

One thing that has been hard this year

Is that I have been feeling like

I want God to speak to me,

And so I ask Him to,

But He doesn’t.

Sometimes He does, I guess.

There have been moments

Where I know He is giving me

His presence.

But mostly,

I struggle to feel Him.

And I just wonder

Why-

If I want to feel Him,

I can’t

?

I still wholeheartedly believe He is there and watching and loving,

In case you are wondering.

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2019 has been a weird year for my body too.

For the past couple years,

I have struggled with some acid reflux issues.

It seemed to come and go,

But was becoming more consistent this year.

I grew frustrated with feeling yucky so much of the time,

And made a bold move-

Gave up meat, sugar, dairy, and gluten for ten days

To see if it made me feel better.

The good news is,

I felt GREAT.

The bad news is,

WHO WANTS TO GIVE UP ALL THAT DELICIOUS STUFF?

Not I,

As evidenced

By the battle of acceptance and self-discipline that ensued.

I’m still trying to figure this all out.

I’m learning to be grateful for all the delicious food that I can eat that does make me feel good.

I’m trying to want to learn to just say no to the things that make me feel sick,

Rather than using special occasions as an excuse to consume those things anyways.

Because eating something that you KNOW is going to make you feel sick?

That sounds like a mentally unhealthy place to be, to me.

The good news is that

I lost twenty or so pounds

(what with all this healthy eating),

And actually started to like the way I look,

Which is a new one for me.

The bad news is that

My clothes all fit funny

And I still don’t know what size I should be wearing.

But NOT COMPLAINING.

 

 

In 2019, I learned that

it is good to let myself feel hungry sometimes.

Not every desire needs to be satisfied immediately.

I’m pretty used to getting myself what I want when I want it.

Instead of following through on every impulse,

I am going to try letting them guide me to what I am truly hungry for.

(I’m not talking about just food here, anymore.

What I eat, yes, but also

How I spend money,

How I spend time,

And my emotions and reactions.)

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In 2019, I found out that I am self-disciplined enough

To give up some things entirely,

(social media and gluten, to name two things)

But not self-disciplined enough to do well with enjoying these things in moderation.

I do not

UNDERSTAND.

What makes me

This way?

 

 

2019 has brought me out of my little Mennonite community more than any other year.

I’m struggling to find

My place in the world.

I am feeling like I actually was brought up in a different world

Than “non-Mennonites”.

The differences sometimes feel big,

And I just don’t know how to offer myself

And the good things that my upbringing has instilled in me.

It feels like there are a lot of

Loud,

Opinionated,

Entitled,

Sensitive,

Disgruntled,

Selfish,

Negative,

Disrespectful

People out there.

NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE THIS, AND NOT EVERYONE IS ALL THESE THINGS, AND MENNONITES CAN BE THESE THINGS TOO. I am not trying to be judgmental.

These are some attitudes that I have come across.

I’m just saying,

I feel like I come from a place where

Peace

Respect

Listening

Positivity (or at least not blatant complaining)

Selflessness

If-you’re-upset-internalize-it (this isn’t necessarily good- just a contrast I see)

And general meekness

Are valued,

And I honestly don’t how to offer these

generally gentle gifts

In a

generally loud world.

I think that is what I am saying.

I do know that the answer is not to just

Stay in my comfortable circle.

 

 

I think that’s quite enough

Looking back.

 

Looking ahead…

 

Someone asked me recently what

I do for fun.

It reminded me that I’m not good at

Doing stuff-

Even when it’s stuff that I like.

In 2020, I want to choose to

Do stuff.

I want to mail letters.

I want to make wise, thoughtful life decisions,

And be gracious enough to let go of the things it’s time to let go of.

I want to read

And write

And take pictures.

I want to keep asking God to speak to me.

 

To start 2020 out,

I am wearing owl socks from Grandma Schrock,

And just feeling really good about it.

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I am also doing some things that I didn’t have time to do in December,

But really wanted to do.

Like making an orange garland.

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I am also going to be making some January cookies at some point.

I am glad that I am giving myself permission to do these things

Even though Christmas is over.

Thank you, Self.

 

This is my favourite picture of myself from 2019:

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A shadow,

Small and blurry at the edges.

That’s me.

Dancing

And still in the light.

Experiences, Tips, and Thoughts from a Half-Hearted Runner

This past spring I ran one kilometer to see if I could do it without stopping. Let’s just say that I’m not really a natural runner. I’m becoming okay with that. It may not be one of my strengths, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it and enjoy it.

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Here is a collection of my experiences, tips and thoughts about running.

Experiences 

  • One time a squirrel and I almost simultaneously ran each other over. It was traumatizing for everyone involved.
  • Skunks do exist. I know this because I saw them on someone’s front lawn right beside the sidewalk while I was on a run. I have not yet run into the Loch Ness Monster, but I confess that I hope she also exists.
  • Due to my personal schedule and the limited number of daylight hours at this time of year, I have been going running in the dark. I initially felt a little bit weird about this, but quickly caught on that everyone and their dog are out walking in the dark, so it can’t be too dangerous. If everyone else is doing it, that means it’s a good thing to do, right?
  • While running, I do a lot of thinking. One time, I was so lost in my thoughts, that I ran right past the street where we live and didn’t clue in until I started running out of street to run on.
  • I like to imagine that while running, I look all long and lean and athletic. However, one time I caught a glimpse of my shadow on a fence that I was running past, and it looked more like Gru from Despicable Me than long and lean and athletic. Sigh.

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Tips 

  • You don’t have to stop running to rest. I learned this from Ricky. If you’re tired, just run more slowly. You don’t have to walk to rest. I know. I can’t believe I had to be taught this. I wonder if it applies to other areas of life too…
  • Set little goals to work towards. Sometimes my goal has been to go running ten times in the month. Sometimes my goal has just been to break my own record for speed. This month, there’s a certain number of kilometers that I’m aiming to run.
  • Use an app to track your progress. Runkeeper does the job well for me.
  • Give yourself rewards. I’m serious. I haven’t met my running goals for the past two months, and therefore, no rewards for me. (It’s quite tragic.) But I sure do hope that I meet November’s goals because I definitely do want this month’s reward.
  • If you take a Kleenex with you, your nose won’t run. However, if you do not take a Kleenex, your nose will run.

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Thoughts

  • There’s something rewarding and empowering about knowing that your own two feet can run you from Point A to Point B without needing to stop.
  • Your huffing and puffing sounds louder to you than it will to anyone that you run past. Probably. Right? Also, huffing and puffing is a natural part of running. At least that’s what they tell me.
  • What is annoying is when your legs feel tired, but your brain just won’t let them quit. There have been a few times that my brain has gone into that mode. Often, though, my legs and my brain are on the same page about quitting. (Hardcore is not a word I would use to describe myself. I am often all too willing to quit.)

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Here is my concluding thought:

  • I don’t run super far, and I don’t run super fast. I don’t even run super regularly. But the way I figure, something is better than nothing. Also, my goal isn’t to be able to go fast or far. My goals are to spend time outside, move my body, and challenge myself to be disciplined enough to do something that doesn’t come naturally to me. But you know what? I have gotten stronger. I don’t know if it was a physical change or a mental change, but I can go farther and faster than I used to. It feels good and it makes me want to keep going. And so I think I will keep going. Even though it’s November.

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Photo credits go to the coolest and nicest Ricky Martin ever. 

One Little Task

I confess that I just spent the whole last week being a very lazy human being.

We won’t get into the details.

But let’s just say that all of my laziness last week resulted in a wonky sleep schedule, a Friday night and Saturday morning spent fiercely and furiously sewing a dress for family photos on Saturday afternoon, stacks of dishes, and a frustrated attitude. (Poor Ricky. He had to deal with my snippiness. AND the dishes. Bless him.)

Yeah.

Let’s just leave it at that. I know this kind of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else, so I don’t want to overwhelm you with more details.

I seem to go through stages of sometimes being driven by productivity and other times feeling completely unmotivated to do anything. Consistency has never been a strong point of mine. Do you know what the crazy thing about these two attitudes is?

For me, the difference between these two attitudes usually lies in ONE TASK.

One little task.

If I do one thing, doing another thing feels manageable and appealing.

But before I do that one thing, getting started can seem almost impossible.

One little task.

I recently read through the book of Proverbs. Being the sort of person who loves little tidbits of wisdom on how to live well, I enjoy Proverbs a lot. Proverbs is a book of the Bible that happens to frequently address the topic of laziness. I’m going to share a few verses that I’m choosing to focus on this week as I tackle some things that I’ve been avoiding. There are many areas of life that these can be applied to- spiritual growth, physical work, relationships, personal development, etc.

Proverbs 18:9

“Whoever is slack in his work, is a brother to him who destroys.”

Laziness is the same as destruction? In a way, it is. This was a sobering thought for me.

 

Proverbs 19:15

“…an idle person will suffer hunger.”

The word hunger here speaks to me of discontent- hunger for success, hunger for the things I value, hunger for a deeper knowledge of and love for God. Idleness leaves you longing and weak.

 

Proverbs 20:4

“The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.”

Laziness- doesn’t work/think ahead, but still feels entitled to a harvest. That sounds painfully familiar to me.

 

Proverbs 25:28

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

A lack of self-discipline leaves you without walls- weak and vulnerable.

 

Proverbs 21:25-26

“The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labour. All day long, he craves and craves, but the righteous gives and does not hold back.”

I find it interesting that the sluggard craves and craves, but the righteous find their righteousness not in collecting and gaining (satisfying cravings), but in wholeheartedly giving.

Here we go, folks.

A whole new week.

Let’s give and not hold back.

And let’s remember to be joyful and calm and delighted as we go along our way, shall we? We spend far too much time feeling pressured and tense and stressed. (That is a whole new topic, right there…maybe some other time we should talk about that.)

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What areas of your life do you battle laziness in? What can we do this week to fight against the temptation to avoid rather than tackle

CHALLENGE: The Balancing Act

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She flounce-trudges into the light of my airy, after-school classroom.

She comes in and she seats herself and she says heavily, “I have so much homework.”

We discuss the ins and the outs of this, and arrive at the looming cavern known as time management.

“I know what my problem is,” she says and throws her hands in the air in despair. “I simply don’t know how to manage my time well!”

She is just young, but already so very human. I have to chuckle. “Well, my dear, you are not alone in that. I have a hard time with that too.” What I don’t say is that at the rate I am currently going, learning to manage my time well is shaping up to a life-long struggle. I had hope to have mastered it by now.

As tempting as it is to wallow in our despair, I decide to move things forward by asking her the question that I have been pondering myself.

“Are there any changes you can make in how you spend your time?”

“Yes!” she says fiercely. “I spend too much time wandering around. Outside. Thinking. Talking to myself.”

I love that she does those things, but frustration and irritation are evident in her voice, so I don’t dare smile. “I know that I should be doing other things instead, but I just don’t do the things that I should be doing!” Exactly! Me too!

We talk specifics, such as, do your work right away before even considering pushing it off until later, and don’t just think of it as something yucky, let yourself enjoy it, and then she must go.

I am left with my stacks of books and herds of sticky notes stampeding across my desk. And my thoughts, of course.

What are my thoughts on time management? (Random, for one thing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

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  1. The older I get, the more I am convinced that spending your time wisely and in a disciplined way makes it easier to be exercise self-discipline in other areas (particularly spiritually).
  2. If something needs to be done, just do it right away. Don’t allow yourself to waste time simply because you are avoiding doing something. The job won’t get any easier after avoiding it. For example, sometimes after school, when it’s time to come home and make supper, it is so tempting to flop down on the couch and scroll through Instagram for awhile before starting to make supper. But I cannot describe how much harder it is to get up and make supper after scrolling through Instagram than it is to just start making it right away. There is a huge difference. It’s best to just dive into the task at hand.
  3. Even if you have a huge list of things that need to be done, just do one thing at a time. I feel much calmer when I choose to handle things one at a time.
  4. I don’t want to be so busy that I have to be doing something profitable all the time. That sounds very lazy of me, but it’s true. I want to have time for just sitting and thinking and walking and talking and journaling and reading. These things are profitable in their own way.
  5. I think that it’s important for us to take time for the things that make us come alive. Make a list of the things that make you feel the happiest and the most alive. I believe that God has given all of us things like that, and that we are meant to enjoy them. Don’t squelch them by treating them as though they aren’t as important as those projects that have deadlines attached to them. Make a list of what those life-giving things are for you, and figure out how to make them a part of your life.
  6. Often, I find myself craving the weekend or the next holiday. Sometimes I need to ask myself if I am truly working hard and tired or if I am just feeling entitled to a break. Am I experiencing actual exhaustion or just laziness? I’m afraid that line for me is blurrier than it should be. Am I “gluttonous” of free time?
  7. When I do have free time, how do I manage it? Do I dedicate it to those life-giving, soul-rejuvenating activities that bring me closer to God, or do I waste it online or taking naps that I don’t actually need? (Not that I am against napping. 😊 I just know that I am probably too quick to allow myself to rest physically, when really, it’s my soul that needs the rest. And soul-rest, for me, often comes through activities that still require some physical/mental effort.)
  8. Am I just mindlessly doing the things that life brings my way, or am I prayerfully considering how God wants me to spend my time? Sometimes I worry that we just feel obligated to say yes to everything that we are asked to do, and then we are busy with those things, and we don’t have time to allow God-given dreams and desires to grow and develop and become real.
  9. The final thought I have on the matter is this: Watch for Him as you go through your days and choose how to spend your moments. Watch for Him and make room for Him and worship Him all through the day and night. One morning at school, as I was preparing for the day, I caught a glimpse of the sky through my window. Just a glimpse. But it was enough for me to know that something beautiful was going on and I did not want to miss it. I put my coat on and zipped outside to witness a brilliant, fierce sunrise. I was so glad that I went out to see it, even if I did sacrifice a few minutes of work time. Those beautiful moments of just me and Jesus were completely worth it.

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That’s the end of my random list.

I wasn’t sure how to end this blog post, so I asked Ricky how I should end it. He said that I should just say, “Hey, ya’ll! Manage yo’ time well!”

So there’s that.

And also- what are your thoughts on the topic of time management? Have you learned anything over the years? How do you balance responsibilities and rest?

Also, I like what Wendell Berry has to say about how we should spend our time. Life is so much more than just being efficient and productive and practical.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.

Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

-Wendell Berry (select lines from “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”)

The Holy: to Come and to Stay

I live

I love

I laugh.

Beauty thrives and twists.

This is good.

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But I have forgotten once again

Who I live for

And love for

And laugh for.

This is so like me.

To be so

Busy and

Happy and

Excited that

I don’t even see the burning bushes around me.

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Holiness is a seeping, bursting sort of thing.

It pours from the church windows and doors, both in and out.

When the music soars

My soul does too

And I am taking my sandals off and

Why would I ever look away from flames

That speak and wrap and refine

and spark brand new life?

At the end of the song I walk away and

I live

I love

I laugh.

Beauty thrives and twists.

Happy and busy and excited.

I don’t see the burning bushes around me.

The nears sometimes and the fars other times bring

Rips and guilt and desire.

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This is not what the veil was torn for.

The earth shook and rocks split.

God poured Himself over mankind.

It is time to come and to stay.

To see the Great Sight

To stand with my feet directly on the Ground

To feel the Holy beneath me and around me and in me.

To experience the glory of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

To know that I have been seen by Him.

To know that He is the answer

And that He does not always look the way that I expect Him to look

And that sometimes He burns far too brightly to look at and all that is left is to

Bow down.

 

 

 

The Dance

You might already know this, but my husband Ricky makes videos.

They are funny, warm, comfortable, and entertaining for all ages (seriously, even five-year-olds like them!)

He recently made a video about my family’s vacation at a beloved mint-green cottage. We have history with that cottage. We love it, and it’s the kind of place that seems to love us back.

Here is the video. You don’t have to watch the whole thing. But I would like if you would watch three seconds of it. You should watch from 5:28-5:31 (approximately).

Did you see it? Did you see that dancing cloud that swirled across the right corner of the sky during the time lapse?

I happened to notice it one time and it stuck with me.

About a week after we came home from the cottage, Ricky and I went for a bike ride. It was a glorious evening, with beautiful clouds as the sun set.

One cloud in particular caught my eye and I thought, “I wonder if that cloud is dancing?” It seemed like the sort of cloud that would be, although it didn’t appear to be moving.

Some dances we don’t recognize as dances, I guess. Our perspective is all wrong. Too slow. Too small.

What else around me is dancing?

It seems like the whole earth is dancing with the Grandest Dance Partner of All.

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Perhaps I might be dancing too?

Slow and untrained and not always graceful?

I am beyond excited for the Time and Place when we are shown that our faltering steps had more beauty than we understood,

Because of The One Who Is Before Us.

The One Who Holds All Things Together.

Amen.

 

CHALLENGE: Create

There was a point in my life where it seemed like everyone else had astoundingly creative ideas, and I— well, I just didn’t.

I felt very dull. I was very dull, probably.

But there came a time when I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas. In fact, once I became aware of them, I was almost overwhelmed by the abundance.

It was simply that I didn’t do them.

(Note: the doing of ideas is significantly more difficult than the having of them.)

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I suspect that there are more people out there like me- who have ideas but don’t carry them through. And you know what? That makes me feel sad. It makes me feel sad because I have come to believe that when we squelch our creative ideas, we are actually suppressing a part of ourselves that God meant for us to keep very alive- a place in our souls that is meant to be churning and boiling and quivering. I’m not talking about dumb ideas here. I’m talking about the ideas that are so alive that they could practically dance all on their own without help from you. I hope that you have one or two of those kinds of ideas tucked away somewhere close to your heart.

I have been blabbing on about ideas, when the title of this post is “Creation”. Ideas and creation are very closely linked. The ideas come first and creation occurs when we turn our ideas into something real. Not something perfect, but something real. We were created to create. We are made in the image of the Creator. The Creator brought you to life with his breath, and creativity and the desire to create flow through your veins.

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Let’s pause and think about our Creator for a moment.

God could have created the world any way that he wanted to. He could have snapped his fingers and a complete world would have bounced into place. But no. He took time.

It was a process.

Day by day, new beauties and systems were developed.

He took time to evaluate his work. He examined it closely. The morning stars sang together. Deep called to deep. The rocks cried out. The mountains and the hills sang before him. The trees of the field clapped their hands. The lilies of the field smiled serenely. The birds of the air were free and fed.

Piece by piece, the project came together.

He breathed over it all and life flourished.

Tov meod- It was very good. It was a very good idea.

Just think- this Artist made you in his image. You are like him.

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So why is it that we so often avoid our ideas and the process of creation?

Here’s the answer:

Because creation often looks like a whole lot of work to us humans. We come to despise the very thing that can bring us to life. We reject ideas for different reasons. Because the idea is too crazy. Because it’s not practical. Because we don’t have time. Because we don’t have money. Because we don’t have energy.

We have so many beautiful opportunities to create (to bring our ideas to life), and we just view it as work. I think that this is Satan’s doing- part of the fall and one of his greatest thefts. I think that he breathes a sigh of relief when we choose to ignore those ideas that whisper in our souls. When we dismiss an idea as unrealistic or impractical. God can dwell in those ideas.

If you never act on any of your ideas, and never make any of the things that you want to make or do the things that you want to do, you are depriving yourself. I’m sorry, but you are. You might be managing just fine. You might be managing your time well. You might be saving money. But you are missing out.

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We can create in many different ways. Travel, writing, learning, painting, lesson plans, gardening, cooking and baking, sewing, taking pictures, making videos, and relationships. (Side note- ideas and creation do not always produce something tangible.)

Here are several things about ideas and creativity for you to think about.

Don’t be fooled. In the world that we live in today, we have so much creative stimulation (ahem- Pinterest) that it is easy to feel creatively fulfilled without actually creating anything. Scrolling through idea after idea, and even pinning some of them for “future use”, can give me a cheap imitation of the satisfaction that comes from creating something. Challenge- actually create.

Create in familiar and new ways. We all create in different ways. I listed some of them earlier. Recognize the things that you take joy in creating, but don’t be afraid to try new ideas and different types of creation.

Don’t be afraid of processes. We live in a world where efficiency is valued. We always want the fastest and simplest way to do things. Creation is rarely fast and simple. It’s often messy. And time-consuming. And somewhat frustrating because things never quite turn out the way that you expect them to. (Or maybe that just happens to me.) Learn to enjoy processes and the results. Embrace the whole project, not just the finished product. Sometimes we gain more from the process than we do from the finished product.

There is a day

when the road neither

comes nor goes, and the way

is not a way but a place.

-Wendell Berry

 

Share your creation. The things that we create are not meant to be kept to ourselves. Art, food, writing, music, pictures, lesson plans, beautiful memories… These things were meant to be shared. They bring us together and they bring us to the core of who we truly are and they bring us to God.

Don’t exhaust yourself. I’m not telling you that you have to do all of your ideas. That you have to constantly create.  Sometimes ideas aren’t good ones. Sometimes it really isn’t the right time. I’m just saying that it’s good to pay attention to your ideas. Be slow to dismiss an idea that feels like it is bursting with life. Don’t let laziness or fear keep you from something beautiful.

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I think that heaven must be absolutely glowing with ideas and creation. Why wouldn’t it be? It is, after all, the birthplace of all creativity.

God, the center of all beauty and new life, lights that kingdom. I like the thought of heaven being a place for creating- for bringing ideas to life. For communal creation and individual creation, all free from the insecurities, jealousy, hesitancy, and fear that we bring to the table here on earth.

But for now?

For now…

I will be content and I will work hard to create right where I am.

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Prayer of Love

Love, you are beautiful.

You shapeshifter, you.

One never quite knows when you will show up. You catch me off-guard many times.

Eye contact and exchanged smiles with a student in a hallway of movement and commotion. Prayer over the math book with the discouraged one on a particularly hard day. Laughter- kind and free and content. Holding hands as we careen around the rink playing chain tag. The one who returns to thank me for helping them- that one who comes back with thankfulness really does speak love. Drawings subtly left on my desk.

These things make my heart swell until it feels like it is too big for me and like it is going to turn into a balloon and I am going to float away.

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Love, you surprise me so often, but there are times when I have come to trust you to be there.

By my side doing dishes.

A shoulder for my tears and a heart for my heartaches and my delights.

Arms to hold me.

Laughter. Craziness. Silliness.

An imagination to dream and create with. Crazy, wild, creative dreams.

Pushing the cart as we collect groceries.

Taking my hand even when I am not being very nice or grown up or rational, if you know what I mean or ever have times like that.

Friendship deeper and deeper. Growing, burrowing, becoming more and more of me.

You are the one my soul loves. More and more.

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Love, you surround me when I go home to family and we all talk at once.

Love, I find you are in the wisdom, encouragement, humor, earnestness, and creativity of my friends.

Love, I feel you in the sunshine and the cold air as I walk home.  I feel you in the tired times, the bleak times, the aching times. You look like hope and you ripple like peace and you dance like freedom and autumn leaves and you smell like fresh flowers on my windowsill.

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Love, you wrap around me and I feel that You are real. Even on the days when hardly anything is right in the world and I don’t feel like I want anyone to love me. Some days it seems as though it would be easier to not be loved. Sometimes I don’t want to be held to the standard that love holds me to. Sometimes I don’t want the accountability that it brings.

But Love, you are kind. In a constructive sort of way.

Love, you sent your only son so that we could become your children, and because of that, we will love as thoroughly as we possibly can.

Love, give us strength and energy to bear the fruit of love and to believe that nothing can separate us from you. Not life or death. Not things present or things to come. Not height or depth.

Love, may we dwell in you.

Amen

 

The Following

If I were queen of the world, I would want story-telling to be a regular thing. I would invite lots of people to my place for campfires. We would make many campfires and break into many groups and we would sit under the stars with blankets and s’mores with peanut butter on them and I would want people to tell their stories to each other. Can you imagine this? Circles of people who have no connection other than their humanity. There would be sad stories that made you cry. There would be stories that would make you laugh harder than ever before. There would be big stories and small stories. Beautiful and ugly stories. And if we truly listened to each other, a beautiful thing would happen. Our eyes and hearts would open. Our hearts would grow softer and less selfish. We would understand each other in new ways. We would love each other in new ways. We would experience deep community. Our willingness to share would heal us. Our willingness to listen, to ache, and to laugh would heal us.

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There is so much tension in the world. So much heartbreak and loneliness. Please do your part to bring hope and love to the situation. You are needed.

We can love others right where we are. Right in the middle of ordinary life. When it comes to love, the small things matter. Initiating conversation, standing alongside, praying, listening, encouraging.

Jesus reached out to the lonely, the sick, the hopeless, the unlovely, the unclean, and he showed love to them.

May we do the same.

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