Thursday, August 14, 2014

Plans


Those who know me well, know I am a planner. I LOVE planning. I love to plan events (when I have time) – taking a vision and creating a step-by-step process in order to make that vision a reality. Nothing gives me greater joy than sitting down with a fresh new calendar and a hot cup of coffee and filling in each little box with the details of our plans.

In Jeremiah 29, it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. First you will get married, and then you will have two kids and be very rich. You will have a nice house in Vancouver but not too big as to make you proud. Your husband will get an amazing job right after graduation and in no time will become a internationally recognized conductor….”

Wait. Let me double check that…

Right, so it actually says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

I remember listening to a sermon a little while back in which the preacher spoke of the potential idols in our lives – plans being one of them. I chuckled as I whispered to Ben “…definitely not in our lives”. I said that because Ben and I have a really bad track record when it comes to plans. They rarely work out and most of the time we are feeling our way in the dark. I like to use the forest analogy – we are wandering in the forest…but we haven’t been given a map.

Picture this.

One day, we decided to go for a walk in the forest. The forest that immediately comes to mind is Lily Point in Point Roberts, Washington. I have walked this trail many times. The entrance is wide and bright. As we walk there are others on the trail with us. Some are running - alone or with a partner. Others are cycling. They are all decked out in their cycle gear and looking good as they journey on. They are driven, probably on their way to a coffee shop. There are some children playing as they walk, picking up sticks and having pretend sword fights. And still others, saunter, chatting amiably with a friend. As we progress down the path the crowds thin out and suddenly we are on the journey alone. The main wide path veers left while to the right a narrow path emerges. We take the path less travelled. We know the direction it heads, but really don’t know where it will end up. We have no map but we take it anyway. As we go deeper into the woods, the foliage grows dense and we come to a fork. We weigh the options. Both paths are equally dense, dark, narrow and unknown but we feel a pull to the left so we go with our instinct. It turns out to be a lovely path. We come across a sunny grassy knoll beside a fresh water stream, where we sit for a spell and have a bit of refreshment. Then continue to walk until…the path stops. It just ends. Why would we have felt called to walk down this path if it was just going to end? Could it have been that it was just to enjoy what the path had to offer - the stream and the refreshment? Besides, it doesn’t matter because our walk today is not about the destination but about the journey. We are not under time restraints after all, we are just glad to be given the time that we have. So we turn around and find the path we were on and take the alternative route. 

We could have easily felt foolish for taking the “wrong path”. After all, aren’t I supposed to have an impeccable sense of direction? But perhaps the error is in considering it, the “wrong path”. Maybe it was exactly the path we were supposed to be on, but the purpose of that leg of the journey was not take us closer to our destination but instead, give us rest and help us realign our priorities and values.


Recently, I have been more intentional about trying to make plans. I would work at the bank, eventually move up and make more money so that we could live a sustainable life…you know, one where I didn’t have to trust God to provide the difference at the end of every month. It seemed like a good plan with a lot of promise. It was a means to an end with an end - with the end being that Ben would be able to pursue his music 100% of the time while living a comfortable life filled with good food and designer clothes. It was a LONG. TERM. PLAN. And I do believe that God was making a way. There were many provisions that were made in making that decision. But what we didn’t know, was that the end we had in mind was not the end God had in mind. And while he took us down this path to allow us to decompress from two years of intense ministry, it was only meant to be temporary. Truth be told, I was not entirely thrilled with the plan we had made. But I had assumed, as I believe most of us have been taught, that in life, a certain amount of sacrifice is an inevitable part of planning. We can’t all have our cake and eat it too. I think my feelings of resignation were quite evident in this post. And I think God knew them too and in order to shake my prudent heart he would have to do something big. REALLY. BIG.  A game-changer  - something that would cause us to do a complete U-turn so that it would be unrealistic and not logical to continue on the path we were headed. Not something that would relieve our dependency but something that would multiply it tenfold.

To be continued....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Slipping from Grace

Somewhere along the way I lost sight of something. I lost sight of who I am. I became distracted by what I thought other people wanted me to be, by what the world defines as success and by the fear of failure. It’s like I drank the Kool-Aid and have woken up in a drunken stupor unsure of where I am or who I am. I followed my wallet instead of following my heart.

I don’t know what it is like for you, but for me, time to digest life is essential to my well being – time to savour, time to reflect, time to give thanks, time to dream, time to set goals, time to set priorities.

This summer and this autumn, I am going to commit to returning to the core of who I am – the person God has called me to be. It’s not flashy, yet it's not prudent, pragmatic or practical either. The person God has called me to be is rooted in what I know to be true. The person God has called me to be pursues truth, fights for the oppressed, studies, writes, communes, shares, loves.

Years ago, like most angst-ridden teenagers, I wrote poetry. One line keeps running through my head,

“When was it I slipped from your grace or was it me that failed to hold on.”

I haven’t fully unpacked this. I probably never will. That being said, I think the error lies in thinking that while I do struggle in the valley, I have slipped from grace.


There is so much more to say on my journey as of late….soon enough, I suppose. Until then, I leave you with this song. It’s one of those songs I keep coming back to time and time again and describes so accurately so many chapters of my life. Thank you for journeying with me...


This is a valley that I'm walking through
and it feels like forever since I've been close to you.
My friends up above me don't understand why I struggle like I do.
The shadow's my only, only companion and at night he leaves too.

Down in the valley dying of thirst
Now down in the valley it seems that I'm at my worst.
My consolation is that you baptize this Earth.
I'm down in the valley, valleys fill first.

Down in this wasteland I miss the mountaintop view
But it's here in this valley that I'm surrounded by you.
Though i'm not here by my will it's where your view is most clear
So I'll stay in this valley if it takes forty years.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Managing Independence

Independence. Isn’t that what every parent wants for their child? Isn’t lack of independence what drives parents-to-be to abort their unborn children? Their fear that their child will always be dependent on them. As a parent of a child with special needs, independence takes on a whole new meaning. 

Will Ella live on her own? Will she have a job?

Independence. It is what we strive for. It is why women fought for the right to write, the right to work and the right to vote – their independent rights.

Ben and I have stepped into the stage in parenthood I would like to call, Managing Independence. Both of my children, more than ever before, are asserting their independence.

I love it.


I hate it.


Tonight, I asked Ella to set the table. I put all the elements she would need on the table and continued to make supper. When I emerged out of the kitchen, the table was empty. That is because Ella had set the coffee table…perfectly. Why not? It’s her height. Every place had its plate, a fork on one side, a knife on the other and a cup. It was complete with lemon juice, jam, ranch dressing, half a lemon and an avocado to accompany her chicken and rice. I love it.

 ****

A few days ago, we had a code red at our house…again. Ella had escaped. I was in the yard and she slipped out the front door unnoticed past Ben who was in the house. She couldn’t have been gone more than 5 minutes before we realized it was a bit too quiet. Ben and I frantically began to run up and down the streets looking for her because when she goes...she runs...and she is fast....Eventually, Ben found her two blocks away. The scary part about this little excursion was that he found her on the other side of West 4th avenue, which is a very busy street at the end of our block. She would have had to cross the street, by herself. The question is, did she wait for the walk signal or just go? I hate it.

**Still on the search for the perfect GPS device for children before kindy starts**

On this day, Jakob wanted to know where people were from (inspired by the world cup).
So he made a sign with all the flags on it and sat out on West 4th asking people. It was pretty cute. I love it.

The other day, Jakob decided that he wanted a ham sandwich…but we had no ham. So he made a list of the things he would need and we went to the store. When we returned he made himself his ham sandwich complete with mayo, lettuce, tomato and ham. I love it.

****


After our supper at the coffee table tonight, we went to the beach, as we often do. The kids ride their bikes and Ben and I walk. Ella is obviously a bit slower than her brother, so Jakob will often go ahead a bit…but this time however, we weren’t even two blocks and we had lost track of him. We expected to meet up with him when we got to the cross walk but he wasn’t there. We looked down the street in the direction of the beach – no sign of him. We turned the corner to where we go down to the beach and expected to see him at the top of the stairs waiting for us…not there either. I had Ben run ahead to see if he could find him. Of course, he was already down at the beach. I hate it.


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