Sunday, 28 December 2014

I'm Not Afraid

When I was littler, most of life was a fear dot-to-dot. It didn't take much. I was afraid of thunder storms. Santa Claus. Martyrdom. Drowning. Something hiding under my bed...or worse, creeping up the stairs.

Some fears, I have found, you conquer slowly through determination. Santa Claus for example, although I might admit I still haven't quite got over it. 

Other times, I've just realized one day that the thing doesn't terrify me anymore. Thunderstorms used to have me immobilized in the middle of the living room, but then suddenly, I was standing on the porch loving them. Go figure.

Either way, one of the delights of my grown up life so far, has been enough awareness to identify  and overcome fears. Afraid of planes, I can choose to get a grip and walk down the aisle to buckle up. Still scared of drowning, I can decide to put on a bathing suit, walk into the lake and trust it to float me. 

Or, I can learn to walk out side after dark.

First time was a restless night when I just meant to walk the orchard then go in. But the stillness of winter had me, so I went to the top of the hill and touched the tree line. I only stopped once, holding my breath in panic because I thought the thumping of my heart was something galloping across the field behind me.

Second time was when Millie and I built a snowman on Christmas Eve, while Dad blasted music through the window. It started to rain, strangely warm and we ran away from the house's lights to lie in the snow. 

Then once Dad and I tried to walk off dinner by a trip up to the old bonfire site. Windy and crunchy and cold, but still quiet. 

And like every other time fear goes, it leaves a present behind; this time the sight of night sky unblocked by house or trees or hill. 

What surprised me wasn't the moon or stars, but the fact that when they are clouded over, they still glow. No matter what, the horizon's a muddy streak with something trying to shine from behind. The moon's a vague light, just a fuzzy spot in the darkness; but always, there is enough to see by.

Make of that what you will, but I see the pictures of those after dark excursions clearly in my head. No matter how dark, there is always a light to come home in. 

And in that, a reason and hope to overcome fear. 


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

This December

Listening: to the Beach Boys Christmas album.

Eating: gingerbread men that the children decorated yesterday. They look like something from a
Sci-Fi movie.

Thinking: about a mini-road trip this weekend.

Deserving: nothing, but in Christ, receiving the world.

Cheered: by twinkle lights and coming home after dark.

Wondering: When the clouds will roll away so we can see the sun. For real!

Inspired: by the people around me.

Thankful: for every single breath.

Merry Christmas, friends!


Monday, 17 November 2014

V is for...

In the quest for authenticity, we sometimes go to the low points. To share the glory of the Gospel, we magnify our struggle.

Yet there are days when we must only preach victory. Not so we feel falsely secure in self strength, but to remind ourselves we are secure, for real. 

It is the ultimate truth, the final word, and in our tunnel visioned life of failing then praying for grace, we don't see it. We hope for squeaking by, when really, can we say victory enough?

And in the end it would seem, victory looks much like the nitty-gritty. It goes as low and "him exalting, self abasing, this is victory."

This is victory.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

What is kind, looks stern.

What is love, looks harsh.

What is simple, looks complicated.

Human-fashion, we hang upside down and look at the world askance, wondering why it won't make sense.

Do we have the eyes to see clear?

Are we truly asking for the Truth?

What if it proves us wrong?

But the sky looks better above us than below. Ask Him to keep it there. He's the only one who can.


Monday, 20 October 2014

The Rearview Mirror

It's not the copper hills or blue sky in front that holds me in the Fall.

It is behind, in my rear view mirror, and how the leaves dance behind me as I drive.

They seem possessed with a joy.

But I still keep my eyes on the road ahead. It does not do to dwell in what is past.

Let the Graces that are gone, dance out their dance. And if God keeps us on the road, there will be more sunshine to stir the leaves in.

The glances back on how His bridges hold will keep us living well. And living well, will keep the view in my mirror gentle - slipping through the Autumn air.



Tuesday, 16 September 2014

When people clustered around, wondering who Jesus was, I did not think I was among them.

They are the others, those doubters.

Yet like so much of life, it is crowded on the moral high-ground and if I'm honest the question comes back at time.

Is He or isn't He?

It is the question for every hour. For every troubled time. And funny, but it occurs to me that the question also becomes the answer. The answer I prod myself with when my mind wanders to worry.

In forgiveness, can you do it? Well, is He forgiveness or isn't He?

In love, are you consistent? Well, is He lover or isn't He?

In courage, do my knees buckle? Well Olivia, is He Lord or isn't He?

Because if He is Jesus the Messiah, then He is Jesus the King and He alone can strengthen and comfort and love and encourage.

Does it feel like His arms are really just rushing wind as you fall? I will not argue...but I can ask.

Is He or isn't He the one who can catch you?


Then wait awhile. He is there.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Fresh Air

I have to admit, I'm not a natural outdoorswoman. I am too frightened of snakes, probably.

But sometimes, Millie undertakes to teach me the skill of observance in nature. She practices the Charlotte Mason approach on me, as the closest thing to a toddler she has at hand.

At first (and still) I mostly excel at noticing trash. I think my voice shrilling through the woods is also a general deterrent to wildlife. However, I am getting better and holding a camera helps.
And just to be sure my new found skills stick, we plan to make the most of these trails, this Fall.
You should come with us, sometime!
I almost impaled myself trying to beat the timer.



Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Twenty Three Going on Two

Whenever I babysit, I'm struck by it at least once. And so during the meltdown or the pouting, I usually sit down and consider.

Is this what I look like to God? I ask myself, and in the stiff legs and tears before me,  I see yes.

Stubborn and sometimes angry. Our instinct is to fight against the hand that tells us no more candy. Or the love that says, this is best. I know.

I think about it too, when we start to sing on Sunday morning. Sometimes it's hard to hear the piano over lusty two year old lungs. We nod and smile and love it, and then suppose that our praise sounds more lovely to a Heavenly ear.

But surely our praise seems much like the babies, with every clue and no clue, taking ourselves quite seriously.

A friend recounted a worship service she attended at the old folk's home the other day. It was apparently complete with camp meeting hymns and the keyboard player wore a wig.

God most definitely has a sense of humour, we concluded. And who knows that our own worship is sometimes not as scattered, funny, hopeful, and given much grace before the throne of its beginning.

He loves us and I sometimes forget that this love is not because I'm managing to keep it together. He is the Father who watches me frown, arms crossed and leads me through repentance and making it right.

He is the Father who hears my voice in song, and smiles because I have so much to learn.

He is the Father...And the lines have fallen in pleasant places indeed, for I am his little child.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

'Tis Almost Fairy Time

"When the first baby laughed for the first time, the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies."
                                                                                                       J. M. Barrie


"I felt in my bones; first, that this world does not explain itself. It may be a miracle with a supernatural explanation; it may be a conjuring trick, with a natural explanation. But the explanation of the conjuring trick, if it is to satisfy me, will have to be better than the natural explanations I have heard. The thing is magic, true of false. Second, I came to feel as if magic must have a meaning, and meaning must have some one to mean it. There was something personal in the world, as in a work of art; whatever it meant it meant violently. Third, I thought this purpose beautiful in its old design, in spite of its defects, such as dragons."
                                                                                        - G. K. Chesterton

"Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage."
                                                                                   - C.S. Lewis
"I have explained that the fairy tales founded in me two convictions; first, that this world is a wild and startling place, which might have been quite different, but which is quite delightful; second, that before this wildness and delight one may well be modest and submit to the queerest limitations of so queer a kindness."

                                                                                                           - G. K. Chesterton


"'That is what makes life at once so splendid and so strange. We are in the wrong world. When I thought that was the right town, it bored me; when I knew it was wrong, I was happy. So the false optimism, the modern happiness, tires us because it tells us we fit into this world. The true happiness is that we don't fit. We come from somewhere else. We have lost our way.'"

                                                                                                     G.K. Chesterton

"I laid out the laws of reality. Butterflies and lightning do not strike twice. And then God spoke.

'Do you see this man? He said to my son. 'He is your father. Do not believe a word he says.'

The second time the butterfly landed on his arm.

How many lies have I told him? I and the world both. I have repented now. I no longer tell him that he can't touch the moon from my shoulders. I tell him to stretch, and I offer to run and jump. There may be a dragon in the mulberries. I make sure to check. And I look for fish under the couch."

                                                                                                    - N. D. Wilson

"This is exactly the message that fairy tales get across to the child in manifold form: that a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence - but that if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious."

                                                                                             - Bruno Bettelheim

Sometimes you just need to invite a dozen church children over to make sure they have not forgotten about the unseen - that to possess the unseen is to possess everything. And that is faith.

- Millie

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Book by Book.

For my 13th birthday, I must have received a plethora of notebooks, because there is one that I still have, for the sole purpose of recording each book I read.

I filled the last page yesterday, writing across the back of the cover to bring this chapter to a close.

I’m turning 23 tomorrow.

Before I chuck the dilapidated thing into a box, I’ve enjoyed flipping through the pages. That many years, means a lot of books.

The first page has a number of titles written in gel pen. The last page’s handwriting is considerably improved.

Books tell stories, sometimes the arc of a lifetime. What I didn’t count on, was the books I read to tell a little tale about me.

A couple pages in, I apparently read three Hardy Boy’s books in a row. A few years later, I was doing the same thing with Agatha Christie novels.

At age 14, I read The Westing Game and then a few weeks later, finished Pride and Prejudice for the first time.

 The teenage years are a funny balancing act, reading Louisa May Alcott, Oscar Wilde, and Redwall. Oh, and a lot of Ramona and Beezus books.

Back and forth… trying to decide whether to grow up.

I’m thinking of independence as I read the titles too. A funny thing, those growing up years, where you read what you’re told (who reads Homer for fun?) and you read what you want. Wodehouse, Sutcliffe, and Amusing Ourselves to Death. A few Dear Canada’s back to back.

 Life, my notebook tells me, is a staggery path to good choices and mature decisions, one book at a time.

Perhaps at times, I was overzealous. Reading The Over-Load Syndrome at 15 years?

The more I look, in fact, the more I see the books I’ve read as dots; dots connecting the grown up moments to the little girl. Some books stand out more than others. I read Gilead and Tale of Despereaux at the same friend’s house. Both profoundly moved me. I remember crying for the first time over a book…Our Mutual Friend, in fact. Reading Stephen Leacock finally solved my age old wonder whether I indeed ‘had a sense of humour.’

And My Name Is Asher Lev was the first book I remember leaving me with no opinion. Just big eyes to look at the world.

It’s been a lot of water under the bridge, a lot of books over the bedside table. I won’t be writing every title down anymore, although I do track my reading progress with friends on Pinterest.

But the words will still be telling the story…of characters, and of a growing up. Of change. Slow.

I wonder what sort of index 33 will have?


Friday, 1 August 2014

For This Friday Night

I believe that in everyone's secret soul there is a thrill seeker.

 We seek the little or large...the things that make us smile, laugh and sometimes what makes us sweaty palmed.

Or other times, the thrills land in our lap. A few words with big brothers and before you know it, you're double dared to ride a helicopter.


And  who could ever regret doing something like that?

So here's to it. Here's to landing in a cornfield on the edge of town.

Here's to the sound of blades and wind everywhere.

Here's to the sun coming down over the prettiest of hometowns.

Here's to sharp turns and for a split second, not really knowing where my head is supposed to be.

Here's to my finger marks on the inside of the window.

And here's to ten minutes of grinning at new things.

Cheers guys.


P.S. They are giving rides all day tomorrow too. You should do it.

I bet it's good for your blood pressure.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Coming Home

Some vacations are for seeing and some are for tasting. I think, if I could choose a word, I would say that this one was for talking.


Talking on the road, talking on the beach, on the couch…after dark. Especially after dark…


….and when you get home, you realize what this vacation meant for you.

So you could smell the air a little deeper. Inspect the garden with greater joy. Taste the tap water, and hug the home faces, and remember the creaks in your floor.















It is a testament to the best of friends when their talking sends you back with new eyes for seeing. And vacations are for renewing, and this time…for coming home.