Monday, December 31, 2012

cold winter song

so every year I do this one word thing.  and it's a good, good thing.  the word that chose me for twenty twelve may have kicked my ass.  surrender.  it kicked hard.  and honestly, I feel a little beat up.  I fought it the whole year and it still won.  I'm not there yet, but I am further along in this journey than I was a year ago.  I've discovered new things about myself and about what I'm capable of.  both good and bad.  and I'm tired.  tired of fighting.  tired of trying to always be the boss of me.  and the boss of everyone else for that matter.  so when tomorrow shows up, that first day of a new year, just know that I'm not shelving all of last years work to take on a new work.  my word for twenty thirteen walks alongside.  embraces.  works with.

and I think for the first time in years, I'm going to set some goals.  some resolutions.  and create some focus for the next couple of months.

and just because I love this song, I'm going to leave this with you for the evening:

happy new year, friends.  I hope for you a night filled with celebration, reflection and no regrets!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

all you need is love

love.  the last of the advent topics.  {I'm going to share my random, chaotic brain with you this morning. I'm hoping you can find the thread and follow along.}

man, have I struggled with these!  I've had a difficult time getting into the christmas spirit.  I know that a big part of my issues this winter have been being too busy.  or maybe that's the excuse I'm going with.  between school {which has been going full throttle since the beginning of august}, kids sports, and a husband who works night shift, I didn't really anticipate the impact on my mental health.  yes.  I'm going crazy.  ha!  no really, my body hasn't figured out how to relax.  I've had some down time in december and I haven't known what to do with it.  as a result, I've sorta missed the anticipation of the christmas season.  and that makes me sad.  did I put on the happy face, put the lights up, buy the presents, throw the party and maybe actually enjoy it?  yep.  sometimes behaviour needs to lead and the heart can follow.

that said, my purpose in doing these advent posts was to help get my heart and my mind into the christmas spirit.  the advent, or anticipatory season.  and once again, I'm a week late.  and you know what?  that's okay.  because regardless of the timing of my writing, my heart has been focused and then refocused on joy, peace, hope and love.  and although I didn't totally feel like my energy was there, the boys and I drove through candy cane lane and enjoyed the lights, we decorated the tree together, we watched all the home alone movies together, trips to costco together, we went to church and then a movie on christmas eve...together.  it's been good.  and slowly, rest is coming.

so how does this relate to love?  I'm not sure.  what I know is that love does.  love shows up.  love acts.  love shuts up.  I've been the recipient of this lately.

a gift from friends that was unexpected and I was unable to reciprocate.  I literally burst into tears when I opened it.  it's hard being taken care of when you focus about 85% of your daily energy on taking care of others.  love.

then yesterday I got a phone call and it was a "get your ass up and meet me now!" kind of phone call.  I needed that.  and she knew that.  love.

and I had a revelation yesterday... I read this post at a deeper story.  grace's #1 resounded deeply with me:
"1. People are hurting, err on the side of kindness.  If they aren’t now, they will be soon.  So many of us, so often in misery taken out by life’s ugly curve balls.  Your kindness can make all the difference in the world.  Be kind.  Be kind.  Be kind.
When you tweet, when you blog, when you visit family, when you come home to a cranky spouse, when you change a diaper, when you are in traffic, when you are on your period, when your cat pisses on your shirt, when you have no words for the exasperation you are feeling.  No matter what, be kind.  Play nice."

kindness is the prelude to love.  when you struggle with love, start with kindness.  when you meet people that are difficult to love, let alone like, start with kindness.  because sometimes you have to change your behaviour first and give your attitude and heart a chance to catch up.

because I watched love actually this week, I'm going to end with a quote from joni mitchell {go listen to the whole song's lovely!}: "I've looked at love from both sides now, from give and take and still somehow, it's love's illusions I recall, I really don't know love at all".

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

we three kings

I still owe y'all my last advent post, but I don't think I'm going to write it today.  so for today, I wish for you a relaxing day with family, friends and loved ones.  and a few minutes of reflection on the wonder that is the miracle of christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I hope you dance

dec 16
hope.  seems so well timed and almost cliche at this time.  I feel like this word is more than just a one-post thing, but the reality is that this week is going to be insanely busy and one post a week is all I'm managing right now.  I know darn well that I won't really be able to do my thoughts on this any justice, but I'll try my best!
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder, you get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger, may you never take one single breath for granted, God forbid love ever leave you empty handed, I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, whenever one door closes I hope one more opens, promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance, and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance.  {lee ann womack}
hope, like joy and peace before it is not simple.  it's not a wish.  it's not an "I want".  it's not simple nor is it a trite desire.

{not me...}

dec 23
it's taken me a week to write this, mainly because I couldn't think of how to put my thoughts into words and give them meaning.  I still am not sure I'm making any sense, so bear with me.

morning comes after the long, dark night.
spring comes after the cold winter.
pregnancy gives way to birthing which brings new life.
the new moon comes on it's lunar cycle.
the sun rises in the east and sets in the west...even when it doesn't make an appearance.
joy follows the time of sorrow.

there are many things that are unpredictable in our lives, but many that are securely fastened.  they are predictable.  reliable.  promises we know to be true.  in a world of chaos, I'm going to put my hope in the predictable.  the promised.  the true.

life is hard.  filled with heart break and sorrow.  filled with unrealized dreams and expectations.  but it will all pass.  hope is bigger than a wish.  bigger than compassion.  it's knowing that although the winter is long, dark and cold that spring always comes.  always.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

peace train

so today is about peace.  I think, like joy, this word is more.  bigger.  deeper.  more intense than what we've let it become.

it's the absence of war.  but more.
it's the lack of worry.  but more.
it's contentment.  but more.
no chaos.  no discord.  no disagreements.  no raised voices.

well that all sounds lovely, but kinda dull.  so ironically, or maybe intentionally - depending on how you see the world, I heard a bunch of things about peace today.

and this is what I pieced together:

l.gen romeo dallaire asked once:  are all humans human or are some humans more human than others?  this was a man who saw war in a way that far too many in our world have encountered - the genocide in rwanda.  he is a man who has seen the horrors of war and knows the key to peace.  living as though no one is better than or less than us.  equal because we have the same creator.  the same blood flowing through our veins.  family.  yet daily we treat people as though we deserve to be honoured and they deserve to be brushed off.  no compassion, only ego.

peace exists when we stop seeking our own ego.  our own power.  when we seek gratitude and joy, we find peace.  and I believe when we stop the chaos in our own lives, we can begin to stop the chaos around us.  sounds easy, eh?  ha!

stoping the chaos is so much more than slowing down or cutting down on the business.  it's a state of the heart.  it's slowing down to make a difference in the life of someone else.  it's choosing someone else over the wants of your own ego.  it's putting away the need to be right...'cause who cares if you are that one time.

had a little "joy to the world" thrown my way this afternoon...what can I say?  I get around!  read that first line a couple of times.  his rule is not shrouded in power and ego, but with truth and grace.
he rules the earth with truth and grace
and makes the nations prove
the glory of his righteousness
and wonders of his love and wonders of his love
and wonders, wonders of his love
we are called to be peacemakers.  to carry the torch of peace.  to start a revolution of peace.  and it starts with me.  this hits so close to home so tonight I am writing this for myself.  to record a lesson that I need to revisit.  especially the part about keeping my mouth shut.  {yeah, don't act all shocked.  we all know it's true.}  okay, so it's not about keeping my mouth shut, but about putting away the need to be right.  in my world, they're the same thing.  and perhaps I need to start ruling my little world with truth and grace.  or with just less ego.

I've posted this quote before, but it bears repeating:
Go now to make a difference in this perilous and broken world.May you all hold each human life in the same regard as your own.May you bring serenity and peace to the lives of others.May God's Loving Spirit go with you and guide you this day and always.Amen. - Rev. Brian Yealland {2003}

Sunday, December 02, 2012

ode to joy

I had this idea...and then I forgot about it {shocking!} and then remembered today so I thought, "hey! I should just do it instead of thinking about it!"  I know.  random brain.  my idea was to do a series of blog posts throughout the advent season on the four themes of advent:  joy, peace, hope and love.  it's like lighting my own advent candles in blog-land.  metaphorically speaking.  I may not be going in the same order as y'all, but this is my little order.  and this week, I'm going to focus on joy.  if you'd like to join me in this little quest, just comment below and leave your blog address.  I'm not fancy around here - there's no graphic, linky thing or badge - I have no idea how to do or make those things, nor do I have the time or energy; however, I would encourage you to join in and reflect in some way on the advent season.  count down with me.  celebrate with me.  pause with me as I reflect on how to make christmas about giving.  gratitude.  grace.  and about how I celebrate the christmas season.  with a heart focused on the gift given to me.  and a wee babe, lying in a manger.


this morning we sang this song and the last verse caught my attention in a new way:
mortals join the mighty chorus
which the morning stars began
father love is reigning o're us
brother love binds man to man
ever singing march we onward
victors in the midst of strife
joyful music lifts us son-ward
in the triumph song of life
stop and read it again.  it's so incredibly powerful.  and I feel so small next to it.  my life is bigger than me.  I am a small piece of a very large puzzle.  singing in unison with the choir.  my measly voice in unison.  in joy.  nothing makes my heart happier than when I am engaged with music.  in worship.  in dance {okay, well I can't dance to save my life, but once in a while I move these hips with some wee boys!}.  in life.  life is a song.  and I am just a small voice in the choir.  I wear this tattoo on my arm that says "choose joy".  and some days this is so incredibly difficult.  because joy does not equate happiness.  joy is deeper.  joy is immense.  joy is a way of being, not a fleeting emotion.  joy creates such consistency in my soul.  I don't even know what I mean by that exactly, except to tie it to something I heard today.  and really, it reminded me of a conversation I had with my dad about seven or eight years ago.  joy creates an atmosphere where nothing can make me or break me.  nothing is so overwhelming that I can't deal with the blessings that life gives me nor is anything so threatening and awful that it can break me.  when I choose joy, I am choosing it in all situations.  not just the good.  "victors in the midst of strife".

have I had to put this to the test?  yeah, kinda.  but not totally.  do I wish to try this out?  not really.  I don't want bad things to happen in my life.  that said, life is not perfect.  and things happen.  what I want to practice in the meantime is how to have joy permeate my soul, so that I can live "in the triumph song of life".

all that said, I still have to choose it.  I still have to be conscious.  I still need to see myself in context.  so this week, and heading towards christmas, I am going to choose joy.  in the busy.  in the chaos.  in the shopping and wrapping and baking and concert prep.  I am going to choose joy.  because luke 2 says this:  "But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."  this season is about the news of great joy.  and I want that joy to be in every part of my being.

oh, and I can't leave you without THIS:  {my fave! and I *heart* lauryn hill, even if this is old, old school!!  if anything, the clothes alone will make you smile...}