Monday, August 17, 2015

The #BadSelfieProject Explained

Last week I started a little Instagram project.  For 10 days I chose to post "bad selfies".   Each day I took 5 photos and I simply posted what I thought was the worst of the 5.....the total opposite of what we would normally do with selfie posting right? 

Oddly enough my bad selfie project stemmed out of a conversation with a good friend about church community....
Let me first state,  I do love my church family, past and present, but if I'm really honest, I find the church way easier to love when the people completely drop the phoney "I'm a good Christian act" and are simply real.
Over the years of being actively involved in church life, I'll admit that I've often struggled a lot with the culture.  Mainly because there's just a whole lot of surface level superficiality and mask wearing, both intentional and unintentional. (Don't get me wrong there are some "real" people at church, which has helped to keep me hopeful.)  Even when we acknowledge the phoniness, we somehow still find ourselves engaging in it.  You'd think that the pristine, clean, surface we put on would make others feel comfortable, after all, most of us appreciate aesthetically polished, put together, and pretty. At church and with fellow believers it always makes me feel really uncomfortable and it always has. The pretty, smiley, cleaned up act is just SO counter the true message of Christianity.  By hiding the truth about ourselves we completely undermine the basis of our belief - grace through faith in a perfect God, not earned grace through our own perfection.  The real ugly truth? The "good Christian" act all flatly points to hypocrisy - a hypocrisy that dishonours and diminishes a God who is nothing but perfect.
Let me openly reiterate that I absolutely engage in this, I often put on the nice little act myself, I'm 100% a hypocrite.  I'm guilty of smiling away in church or with friends looking like and acting like all is well with me and Jesus,  while in reality I'm struggling with deep, ugly, gross sin and pain.  
If you know me at all, I hope you see that I do make an effort to try to be "real"... I tend to tell it like it is, I'll be the first to say what I think or admit how I feel, and I'll openly share my struggles - more than the average person, and sometimes to a fault.  
Admittedly my attempt at "realness" is often not well received.  I can't tell you the amount of awkward silences I've experienced after choosing "real" and being flat out honest with others. I have especially found this to be true in the Christian world.  Being real tends to make others uncomfortable, heck it makes me uncomfortable - my pride would rather not be the girl known as the struggling, messed up one with issues.   I think the discomfort around open people comes from the fact that "realness" can easily spark  comparison and ultimately judgement. We simply don't feel good about ourselves when we judge others, because deep down we know that our own pride is an even uglier reality to face.
As Christians we wrongly fall into the mindset that we've got Jesus so we're supposed to be happy or at least put on a happy appearance.  Life should be perfect all the time right? Simply put, No, and that's why we need Jesus.  We are consistently dumb and forget that our salvation is not based on our own perfection, but His.  We show our forgetfulness everytime we put on the "happy joy" act and try to hide the fact that we struggle or that we sin.
I've learned over time that telling it like it is, being honest and showing my ugly true self (with some discretion of course) is generally far more God honouring and glorifying than being secretive and trying to act like I've got it all together.   The flat out truth is that without God, I'm an absolute dirty, sinful mess and pretending otherwise is a warped false version of reality. 

So where do the bad selfies come in? As I was chatting with my friend last week, I jokingly compared the common superficial "put on" of the church to the insanity of selfies.
Generally on social media we only show our best selfies, the ones where our smile is right, pimples are hidden, fat is covered , the light or filter is perfect, we're clean, we're cute, and we look like we're having oh SO much fun....let's face it though,  it's not exactly reality or it's often a very skewed chosen version of what we would prefer reality to be.  Selfies are in someways a form of denial about our reality.  I wondered what church would look like if we all just showed up and posted the bad selfies?  Never mind church, what would life look like if we did that? I bet there would be way more authentic beauty...and way, way, way more glory to God for it. 

I personally need to work on forgetting about presenting my best "selfies" .... symbolically I started on Instagram with the bad selfie project. 10 days of posting "real selfies" - accepting that I may look ugly, sweaty, sleepy, weird, sad, mad, odd, fat, uncomfortable ... If you know me well enough you know that I'm a born "diva", so no, I don't plan on posting my worst selfies all of the time; I do however, plan on challenging myself to strive to be less superficial in the way I generally live my life and present myself to the world including amongst my Christian brothers and sisters. 

So yea,  this means that those whom I already make uncomfortable with my honesty and openness are going to have to find a faster pair of sneakers to run away from me. I refuse to "edit" my true self in any community.  Maybe though, just maybe,  by being vulnerable myself, other people will be less inclined to judge and look a little closer only to realize that showing the sweat stains, fat, mussed hair, unflattering facial expressions, bad poses, pimples, wrinkles, etc. can actually make for a really beautiful selfie.  My point? The "bad  selfie" can really be an awesome thing! The bad selfie says,  "this is why I need Christ! The imperfection that you see in me is why God's grace, like the hymn says, is so amazing!" Bottom line - it's always way easier to see the perfection of God and His work in a "bad selfie" than it is in those cleaned up superficial "pretty" selfies that we are so often tempted to "post" at church and to the world.  Let's just admit it, all of our selfies are "bad selfies", but with the "Chirst filter", any selfie can be beautiful.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Om nom nom nom nom!!!

 "Your words were found, and I ate them, 
and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart...."
Jeremiah 15:16 

Every time I think of this bible verse, which I refer to often as I'm reminded of it each time I pick up my bible or hear from God's word via sermon or teaching, I can't help but think of Cookie Monster. Yes, I said Cookie Monster.  I don't necessarily picture the fuzzy, blue, googly eyed muppet messily devouring his food as much as I do the sound he makes as he eats: "Om nom nom nom nom!"   Strange? Yes, but can I help that I have been created to walk around with seemingly inappropriate sound bites in my head? 

We all know that Cookie Monster enjoys cookies a lot (he also enjoys alphabet letters and phones and other inanimate objects, which I think makes him funny and likable.)  In essence though, this guy is all about eating cookies. His main motivation is cookies. He's constantly thinking about and longing for cookies.  He spends most of his time on Sesame Street waiting to get his hands on cookies to eat so that he can enjoy and delight in them. 

I've been enjoying the Cookie Monster sound imagery so much lately that I decided to look up some videos of him eating.   In my research I came across this little video where cookie monster teaches the correct way to eat a cookie.  I honestly thought that cookie monster was a little careless in his eating of cookies and other objects, cause let's face it the dude lacks some major self control, but I think I may have judged him too soon.  Here he teaches a wise, thoughtful, intentional way to eat a cookie.   Maybe this muppet is onto something... who would have thought that one could indirectly learn something from Cookie Monster about ways to devour the word of God!
Cookie Monster's Way to Eat a cookie:
1. Look at Cookie 2. Identify cookie  3. Smell cookie  4. Eat it!!  "om, nom nom nom nom" 5.  Eat the crumbs so to not let any of it go to waste.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


"The stone that has been encasing my heart has been cracked.  
The Lord took a chisel and a hammer and when I asked, He did His work."
- Jan 23, 2000
This is a picture that I drew 11 years ago.  I'll never claim to be any sort of visual artist, but I drew it in my journal at the time when God got a hold of my heart and lead me to become a Christ follower, so for me it's significant. 

Lately God has been working on my heart in what feels like the same way.  Over the past few years I have slowly rebuilt that cold hard stone casing around my heart.  A casing that would eventually confine and constrict my heart.  Bottom line, I allowed my life circumstances and my experiences to stir up an ugly cold concrete composed of the grit and shale of hurt, pain, resentment, unforgiveness, disappointment, and discouragement.  I dumped that concrete around my heart, walked away, and let it harden.   It just seemed easier to let the dingy, gunky, cold, hard stone remain.  Despite the fact that I knew the One with the chisel and hammer, I gave up. I resisted that swift hard blow that could have shattered that stone in an instant.  I ran away from God.  I was so tired of failing,  so tired of fighting and so tired of holding on that I made the decision to let go.  I CHOSE to let go of my God and in doing so I was plunged into quite a scary place of darkness.   Not the kind of darkness I knew before knowing Christ because this time I was constantly aware of a light that radiated a glare that hurt my eyes as I huddled in the dark... My God was there waiting with the chisel and hammer, but I rebelled and refused Him.    I let go of Him and like a child I closed my eyes, plugged my ears and sang out loudly "la la la la la!" hoping not to hear or see Him.

The amazing thing is that He certainly didn't let go of,  lose sight of , or stop listening to me.  He wouldn't shatter the stone around my heart until I asked Him, but He certainly held on tight to me.  He pursued and pursued and ceaselessly pursued me.  He poked.  He prodded.  He convicted. He opened my eyes and He gently removed my hands from my ears.  But most importantly, He simply just loved me.  He allowed me to fall and fail but was determined to constantly remind me that I was His forever.

And the most beautiful thing?  When I finally allowed Him to shatter the stone, He forgave me.  The thought of such amazing grace truly overwhelms my liberated heart. 

"The stone that has been encasing my heart has been cracked.  
The Lord took a chisel and a hammer and when I asked, He did His work again."
- July 20,2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's been a while huh?

Well... I guess it's fair to say that I can't really consider myself a blogger anymore, seeing that it's been well over a year since my last post.  There are a lot of reasons why I stopped blogging,but I feel a little like this blog is incomplete.... like it needs one final post before I can pack it up, put it away in the attic and move on.  So I suppose one more is on it's way.

Sunday, May 02, 2010


This is such a fascinating description of Music.   My girlfriend wrote it out in a card for me a long time ago and I just came across it today.   I can see how one might choose to worship the art form itself as opposed to the Creator of such a powerful language. 

I am music, most ancient of the arts.  I am more than ancient; I am eternal.  Even before life began upon this earth, I was here - in the winds and the waves.  When the first trees and flowers and grasses appeared, I was among them.  And humanity came, I at once became the most delicate, most subtle and most poerful medium for the expression of emotions.

In all ages I have inspired people with hope, kindled their love, given a voice to their joys, cheered them on to valourous deeds, and soothed them in times of despair.  I have played a great part in the drama of life.  Through my influence, humanity has been uplifted, sweetened and refined.  With the aid of humanity, I have become a fine art.  I have a myriad of voices and instruments.

I am in the hearts of all and on their tongues, in all lands among all peoples, the ingnorant and unlettered know me, not less the rich and the learned.  For I speak to All, in a language they all can feel.  Even the deaf hear me, if they but listen to the voices of their own souls.  I am the food of love.  I have taught people gentleness and peace; and I have led them onward to heroic deeds.  I am comfort for the lonely, and I harmonize the discord of crowds.  I am a necessary luxury to all.  I am Music.
- Anonymous

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A few of my favourite things

I'm generally not one to endorse products, but in the past month 2 random products have proven themselves to be worth a mention. Both products get the Diva Stamp of approval (kind of like the Good House Keeping seal but better cause it has nothing to do with house keeping:)

The first -Yaktrakers Pro. As a walker/runner I find the winter months to be difficult. Over the years I have figured out what to wear to keep warm while power walking and running. It's the slippery snow and ice that has frustrated me to no end. Before Christmas I pulled a muscle after losing grip on some hidden ice and I was ready to give up and attempt to be motivated by DVD's alone - Until I heard about yaktrakers. They're these coil rubber things that slip on over your runners. They grip to the ice and snow to prevent you from sliding. I was skeptical when I saw them on the Shopping Channel, but did some research, and found them at my local running room so decided to pick some up. And Yaaaay! they actually Work!!!! I thought they'd make the walking/running awkard, but they don't. Albeit they're not very attractive - they could use a little more sparkle or colour, but they certainly help make my wintery interval training easier! And I have to admit I secretly do kind of enjoy being able to zip quickly past those other random walker/runner people on my path with an ' in yo face slippery sucka!' kind of strut:)

The second dreamy product - Bath and Body Works look ma, new hands moisturizing hand lotion. Being a teacher trying to avoid all the kiddy germs I have to constantly hand wash and sanitize. This fall I have found my hands to be more dry than normal. (probably as a result of the overuse of the sanitizer with the H1N1 paranoia ) I've tried lots of hand creams which mostly leave a greasy residue forcing me to wash it off within minutes. I got look ma, new hands as a gift from a student and I LURVE it! It keeps hands super soft, smooth, supple and best part - it isn't greasy. It's apparently the paraffin in the cream that makes the difference! Whatever the magical potion is, it's worth the little over the top for hand cream Bath and Body Works price. I'll admit that I can't help but caress my own hands throughout the day cause they are so dang soft! Creepy? A little, but trust me, if you used look ma, new hands you would be a creepy hand caresser too!
So what are you waiting for? Come, join the "in yo face slippery sucka!"/ creepy hand caresser club:)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cantique de Noël

My favourite Christmas carol by far is and always has been O,Holy Night. Even before I could comprehend the depth of the words, the song always gave me chills. I remember hearing it as a child at midnight mass and even when it was the warbly past her prime Lithuanian church soprano singing I'd still be moved. It didn't feel like Christmas eve to me unless I heard that carol.

Now, I am often asked to perform the song, and it still gets me everytime. I find myself getting emotional by the words, words that hold so much truth and are far more personal to me now. Even when I'm just on my own practicing the song I get chills (not because I sound great either, often I sound like a dying chicken:) The words are just so powerful. I've never sung the carol in french eventhough it is the original language. I've starting learning the french version though as I've been asked to sing it en français for a small gig next weekend. . . the English words are similar, but there are a few images that speak that much more powerfully in french - so moving! Looking fwd to sharing the carol in both english and french this season:)

Minuit, chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle,
Où l'Homme-Dieu descendit jusqu'à nous
Pour effacer la tache originelle
Et de Son Père arrêter le courroux.
Le monde entier tressaille d'espérance
En cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.
Peuple à genoux, attends ta délivrance.
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, voici le Rédempteur!

De notre foi que la lumière ardente
Nous guide tous au berceau de l'Enfant,
Comme autrefois une étoile brillante
Y conduisit les chefs de l'Orient.
Le Roi des rois naît dans une humble crèche:
Puissants du jour, fiers de votre grandeur,
A votre orgueil, c'est de là que Dieu prêche.
Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.
Courbez vos fronts devant le Rédempteur.

Le Rédempteur a brisé toute entrave:
La terre est libre, et le ciel est ouvert.
Il voit un frère où n'était qu'un esclave,
L'amour unit ceux qu'enchaînait le fer.
Qui Lui dira notre reconnaissance,
C'est pour nous tous qu'Il naît, qu'Il souffre et meurt.
Peuple debout! Chante ta délivrance,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur,
Noël, Noël, chantons le Rédempteur!