Friday, October 13, 2017

Five Minute Friday: INVITE

Today I'm linking up with the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt.

Today's word is INVITE.

Last weekend was Thanksgiving, and my brother and sister-in-law and niece came from out of town. There were six of us around the supper table on Saturday night (because Richard had to work till 7 p.m., he couldn't join us till later), so we cleared off our dual-purpose work-and-dining table for the meal. (By the way, it wasn't turkey: it was lasagna, garlic bread, salad, and pumpkin pie.)

As I was getting the table ready ahead of time, it occurred to me that we hadn't actually used it as a dining table in months.

Richard and I used to invite people over all the time. Now, we rarely do, unless it's having family over on birthdays for takeout pizza or a barbecue on the deck. 

Right now, mealtimes are hard, even just for the four of us. Jonathan is often cranky at suppertime, first refusing to come to the table, and then pushing away and screaming "DONE!" halfway through, even if we're eating something he likes (which we almost always are). It can be stressful and we don't really want to subject guests to that -- so we don't invite.

When I stop and think about this, I feel a bit sad. Sharing fellowship around a table is important, and it doesn't happen at our house as often anymore. I miss it. 

But maybe this is just a season we are in, and it will get better with time. I've learned from experience that the best approach is to have realistic expectations -- whether about hosting, or anything else in life.


Monday, October 09, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving 2017

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian (and those who wish they were!) friends and family. 

Yesterday in church we sang one of my favourite hymns, "Great is Thy Faithfulness." The second verse says

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

What a beautiful image: the changing seasons, the stars and planets, all of nature are witnesses to God's faithfulness and join us in praising Him.

Pastor Mark's sermon yesterday emphasized that what is fixed and immovable must be the basis for our thanksgiving. God is that fixed and immovable foundation. Thanking Him in all things, and then answering His call to love others and help those in need, should be our response.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Five Minute Friday: STORY

Today I'm joining the Five Minute Friday community again, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. (Thank goodness for these regular prompts; this fall my blog's been fairly quiet otherwise!)

Today's word is STORY.

I've joined one of our church's Life Groups this fall. My group, which is meeting every Tuesday night for about six weeks, is called "Redemption Reel." In this group we explore specific elements of our personal stories, see how God has been at work behind the scenes, and seek healing in areas that require it.

The first session was about our backstory. We were asked to plot important events from our life on a "life map," according to how positive or negative an impact they had on us.

The second session, just a few days ago, was about the characters in our story. Again we were given a life map on which we could add the names of significant people, write a couple of descriptive words about each, and place them on the chart according to whether their influence on us was positive or negative.

The truth is, though -- and this was acknowledged in our group -- that people and events often have a very mixed influence on our lives. We can look back at joyful, life-giving times with a person ... but if the relationship ends, then the strongest lingering emotion can be sadness or anger. That doesn't negate the good, but it can make it a lot harder to recall the good and to integrate that with the painful aspects. 

Conversely, we can go through a devastating event and then, at some point in the future, see that something positive came from it. Again, that doesn't negate the bad -- but it makes us realize that life is complicated. Our stories, and the people in them, are complicated. There's so much we don't know and can't yet see.

That's why it is important to trust that my story is being written by a good Author, who has perspective over everything in my life and everyone else's, and who is always working for our good.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Five Minute Friday: DEPEND

Again today I'm joining the Five Minute Friday community, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word: DEPEND.

The poet William Carlos Williams wrote a famous poem entitled "The Red Wheelbarrow." Here it is:

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

They say a picture paints a thousand words; well, the sixteen words of this poem paint a vivid picture. It is easy to visualize the wet red wheelbarrow and the white chickens.

But it's the first four words that intrigue me most: "so much depends/upon." 

What, exactly, does that mean? What "depends upon" a red wheelbarrow?

 It's almost as if life itself is hanging in the balance: take away that wheelbarrow and the chickens, and everything falls apart. 

Can he seriously mean that?

I don't know exactly what Williams meant when he was writing this poem, but maybe he was saying that so much depends upon the details. 

So much depends upon noticing the world around us.

So much depends upon taking time to pay attention to the beauty that exists in simple, everyday things.

So much depends upon keeping our eyes open.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Five Minute Friday: ACCEPT

I'm linking up today with Five Minute Friday, writing for five minutes on a given prompt. This week's word is ACCEPT.


We're probably all familiar with the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Familiar words -- yet packed with meaning.

Accepting what we can't change -- in other people, in our past or present, in ourselves -- requires serenity: a willingness to let go of our grasping and be at peace with what is, and what isn't.

Changing what we can requires courage. When we're in a challenging situation, often the only thing we can really change is our response. That takes courage, because it almost always involves facing the truth about ourselves and where we fall short, and that's never easy. (I think of this particularly in terms of parenting, the ultimate crucible.)

Knowing the difference between the things I can and can't change requires wisdom. It would be a lot easier if the answers just dropped straight out of the sky: "You can change this -- so get to work! You can't change that -- stop trying to force it!"

But the prayer asks for wisdom, not a prepackaged formula -- and wisdom always comes from experience. It's not a formula or rule. It develops through a process of making mistakes (something I am quite good at) and learning from them (something I hope I'm at least starting to do).