home(hōm) n. adj. a. relating to or being where one lives or where one's roots are; b. the place where one has fixed his residence, one's settled abode; c. place where something began and flourished; d. the place where you are stationed and from which missions start and end; e. an environment offering affection and security; "home is where the heart is"; f. an environment offering security and happiness; g. A valued place regarded as a refuge or place of origin;
Yesterday was a day to truly celebrate home. I played "I'll Be Home for Christmas" the entire way up from Indiana. When I arrived in Port Huron and saw the sign above the highway that said "To Canada" I let out a very big vibrato filled AAAAAAAAAh. And as I finally entered Canada, my home and native land, I swear I could hear bells ringing and angels singing:) There's just nothing like being home. Traveling on the 401 with my fellow Canadians ; drinking a cup of Tim Horton's Coffee ( which I discovered yesterday is really not all that it's cracked up to be - I don't know why I craved it so much while I was away); Finally seeing my beautiful niece looking ever so toddler like as she now walks everywhere and says words like "Diva" (no doubt another reason for a very large operatic AAAAAAAAAH!!:) ; chatting and exchanging stories with the rest of the family;. and just enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of home.
I woke up this morning and looked around my room and couldn't help but smile, it's just so nice to be here. Even though I’m home and absolutely loving it, I can't help but recall what I was clearly reminded of on a daily basis over the past 6 weeks - the real meaning of the word home. It’s amazing how despite the homesickness that I felt while in Indiana, it has never been more apparent to me that home is really wherever God has called us to be. The occasions when I felt most at home in Winona Lake had nothing to do with the sights, sounds, smells or people that surrounded me. Feeling at home always involved a deep interaction with the Lord and in most cases an incredible glimpse of His glory and power. God has assured me that no matter where I go in this life, if I have a genuine desire to know and to grow in Jesus Christ I’ll always feel at home.
As hard as it will be for me to head back to Indiana to do my work with Cpaf in January, I feel confident knowing that Jesus Christ is truly what defines home for me. He is the valued place where I find refuge; He is my origin; He offers me security and happiness; He offers me affection; He has defined my mission, and has allowed me to begin it and will end it; it’s because of Him that I am who I am and will continue to flourish; He is my fixed residence; He is where I have a settled abode. He is home.
I've finally put my curiosity to rest - spaghetti drizzled in maple syrup doesn't really taste as good as Buddy makes it out to be in the movie Elf. Boy is Will Ferrell ever convincing though and his had tomato sauce on it!! Even if you load the maple syrup tossed spaghetti up with marshmallows, m&m's, and crumbled pop-tarts it still tastes funny. I thought that for sure my innovative Elf dessert would be a hit . . . . I was wrong. I'm thinking that perhaps it didn't work out because I used the multi grain pasta instead of the regular white pasta. Oh well, maybe next year I'll alter the recipe and try it on some unsuspecting Canadians. For now I’ll hold off on dessert making for a while. I'm pretty sure that everyone here would agree that when it comes to dessert, "Diva" is one big cotton-headed ninny muggins:)
Tonight the gals and I watched one of my favorite Christmas movies ever, White Christmas. Oh how I love that movie. The music, the dancing, and of course the grandiose divaesque costumes with all that velvet, satin, sparkle and fur :) White Christmas was always a Christmas Eve tradition in our house. We'd all sit around between dinner and midnight mass watching Bing, Danny, Rosemary and Vera-Ellen sing and dance away. I remember as a little girl wishing that someday I could own beautiful dresses like the ones that Rosemary Clooney wore. Jen and I would often try to perform "Sisters" with Vera and Rosemary and Tutty would smile away and laugh at all of Danny Kaye's cheesy remarks.
Tonight was great. Each of us had stories of how White Christmas played a fond part of our Christmas memories and how it was that movie that inspired us all to dream of someday wearing red satin fur trimmed gowns with the most important Christmas accessory ever - the white fur muff:) As we sat and watched tonight we all commented on the pretty dresses and sang along to all the songs:) Whatever happened to the good old days when actors and actresses actually had to have talent in order to be considered movie stars? What a great movie. I need a muff.
Erwin McManus tells of how he attempted to explain to a group of Muslims in the Middle East why it was necessary for God to become human.
"I once met a girl named Kim, and I fell in love. I pursued her with my love until I felt my love had captured her heart. So I asked her to be my wife, and she said no. I was unrelenting and asked her again, pursuing her with my love, and I pursued her with my love until she said yes. I did not send my brother, nor did I send a friend. For in issues of love, you must go yourself."
"This is the story of God: He pursues you with His love and pursues you with His love, and you have perhaps not said yes. And even if you reject His love, He pursues you ever still. It was not enough to send an angel or a prophet or any other, for in issues of love, you must go yourself. And so God has come."
"This is the story of Jesus, that God has walked among us and he pursues us with His love. He is very familiar with rejection but is undeterred. And He is here even now, still pursuing you with his love."
Last night we performed our monthly Cpaf outreach concert here in Winona Lake. What an incredible blessing it was for me to be a part of such a unique collaboration of artists. I am so in awe of How God spoke last night. He truly used the offereings of each performer to truly magnify Himself. The story of the birth of Christ was so eloquently and powerfully presented in each performance. It really is an honour for me to be collaborating with artists who not only understand the importance of excellence in art, but who also have a firm understanding of what it means to surrender their performances to the Lord as worship. Last night was not just a concert, it was an incredible worship service, one like I've never experienced before. I just hope that the audience sensed the clear and beautiful presence of His Spirit too. I can't wait till our next 2nd Sunday Concert.
"The key to successful ministry is hearing from God, seeking reconfirmation if necessary, then wholeheartedly persevering in what we believe He said. We must persevere in our commitment to Christ, not in our commitment to our commitment." Beth Moore - Believing God – Day 2 Week 8
While doing my believing God homework this week, this quote jumped out at me and left me to really reflect. Over the past few months perseverance has been a key part of my daily routine. Persevering while waiting for the work visa, fighting with what very little faith I had not to completely give up on what I believed to be a calling that God put on my life. And now that I've started my work at Cpaf the need to persevere has become more relevant for me. I wake up every day and look at my calendar. I have actually started marking the days off with big "X's” counting the days until my official commitment as a Cpaf intern will end. I have never ever marked days off on my calendar before, but marking the big "X" across a day makes persevering a little easier. I have spent a lot of time imaging what would happen if I packed up my things and just went home for good, and then I remember all the people I'd be letting down and how I owe it to them to stick it out. No doubt, the reason why it's been so hard here has a lot to do with the fact that I've been focusing too hard on persevering in my commitment to my commitment rather than in my commitment to Christ. Looking at the “X’s” on my calendar confirms nothing about what God has reconfirmed to me over and over about my calling as an artistic missionary. I think it’s time I start focusing on THE Cross, rather than on the many meaningless crosses on my calendar.
Imagine opening up your blinds in the morning and seeing this crazy creature peeping in your window!! Apparently the Peeping Canadian Geese aren't the only fowl around here trying to catch a glimpse of "the Diva". Tinsel Tim is just one more peeper to add to our peeping list down at the lodge. I opened up the blinds this morning and there was Tim outside my window attempting with all his might to peep in at me. As punishment for his naughty peeping I have forced him to sit on my desk with me at the office until Christmas. Tim claims that staring at the diva all day long is really more of a dream come true than it is a punishment. He does indeed make a very good point however; I could really use the extra help at my desk so for now this punishment will have to do. Tim is proving to be quite useful to have around. He's only been with me at my desk for 2 hours and already it's very apparent that this little bird is really an extremely talented writer:) It's looking like this is going to be a win, win situation for us both. Yaaaay Tinsel Tim!!!
So it appears as though the only other Canadians around here in Winona Lake are the Canadian geese that hang out down by the lake, which also happens to be where many of us at Cpaf live too.
I didn't know this until I got here, but it appears as though Canada Geese do not sleep at night!!! We can hear them at all hours of the night honking away outside of our windows. As much as I'm glad that there are other Canadians here, I have to be honest and say that by 3:21 last night I was officially ready to go out there and wring their little Canadian necks. The constant sqwaky honking is severely annoying.
I told the gals that the only logical explanation for the constant ruckus, is that those geese are up at night trying with all their might to peep in our windows. . . . no doubt they are trying to get a glimpse of their fellow Canadian, "the diva":) So, we have officially named those nocturnal geese down at the lodge. We now refer to them as "the peeping geese" or more directly "Tom”, “Dick” and “Harry." Unfortunately those geese are giving Canadians a bit of a bad reputation, but really who can blame them? If I was living in such close proximity to a diva like me and my other sistah's down at the lodge I would definitely stay up all night trying to catch a glimpse of us too:)
Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day here. My roommate and I were invited to spend the day with Leilani's family, who is one of our coworkers here at Cpaf. It really was a beautiful day. We headed up to the Wells' farm and spent the day with a truly incredible family, 2 horses, 2 dogs, a goose and a Brasilian Baritone:) It was fun to see how the Americans do Thanksgiving. I feel so blessed to have been a part of the celebration.
Hee Haw!!! Yup, that would be me on a horse!!! I swear this place is going to suck the diva right out of me:) For a girl who claims to come from the big city Meaghan was quite comfortable around the smelly horses. This is Liliana with one of the Wells' dog, Bear. Liliana is the youngest of 7 children, she was just the sweetest little hostess yesterday. We really did get along famously. Oh what fun it was to play hide and seek and make up ballerina dances together. Estee, Leilani, and Josiah stuff themselves with the incredible turkey dinner. Peggy Sue and Hannah enjoying their dinner. Peggy Sue, or "Mamma" as the kids would call her, is a single mother of seven kids. I am just amazed by the strength that radiates from this beautiful woman of God. Apres dinner, Meaghan and Leilani decided to play music from the Nutcracker Suite. Inspired, Liliana and I decided to perform the Nutcracker ballet . That's me as "the Nutcracker". Although some would disagree, I thought that my portrayal was very graceful and convincing:) Here's Robson showing his best "Divo" moves. Robson is an incredible Baritone from Brasil. We performed several opera scenes together at Masterworks in 2004. Robson is going to school in Michigan right now, and came up to spend Thanksgiving here. It was fun to see him again.
My first week here has been interesting. Whenever I reflect back to my time here in Winona Lake in 2004, I usually pinpoint it as a time when I finally opened my ears to really hear God speak. It wasn't that I wasn't listening before, but I definitely needed a big cotton swab shoved in my ears in order for all the gunk that was blocking me from hearing correctly to be removed. That’s exactly what God did here in 2004 He shoved that swab in so deep and cleaned out all the gunk. After Masterworks, I was not ashamed of the dreams He had given me nor was I about to stifle them.
After this week I'm convinced that He has pulled out that big cotton swab again. My ears are being cleaned out of some major gunk once again. Maybe I should start calling this place "the big q-tip":) This time I'm really not enjoying it so much. The theme of the week has been giving up my dreams. In many ways I thought that coming here was about that, but clearly He sees it differently. God has been asking me loudly and with great clarity to lay everything on the altar, which indeed is what I strive to do everyday, but I didn't think that He would be asking me to give up, as in forget about the many dreams that I heard Him affirm in me here 2 years ago.
Many of my conversations with others have involved the very topic of giving up dreams. The first thing Dr. Kavanaugh said to me when we sat down to have our initial intern meeting this Monday was "If you want to do this kind of ministry work here or anywhere you have to be prepared to give up all of the plans that you have for yourself." This was inceredible to hear from him because He really is a man who has put those words into action. This was coming from a guy who only 25 years ago was an up and coming symphony conductor but gave it all up to start this ministry now called the Christian Performing Artists' Fellowship.
My roommate Meaghan and I have talked about it over and over again this week, she seems to be hearing similar things from God. Meaghan lead our worship night last night and taught us this song. It sums up very clearly what I've been struggling to genuinely say to God this entire week. I’m not sure if my heart really means it yet, but In comparison with His thoughts, His words, and His love and all that He is in my life, giving up my dreams should really be no sacrifice.
No Sacrifice - Jason Upton To You I give my life not just the parts I want to To You I sacrifice these dreams that I hold on to.
Your thoughts are higher than mine Your words are deeper than mine Your love is stronger than mine This is no sacrifice Here's my life.
To You I give the gifts Your love has given me How can I hoard the treasure that you designed for free
Because Your thoughts are Higher than mine Your words are deeper than mine. Your love is stronger than mine. This is no sacrifice
Here's my life.
To You I give my future as long as it may last to you I give my present To you I give my past.
Because Your thoughts are Higher than mine Your words are deeper than mine. Your love is stronger than mine. This is no sacrifice Here's my life.
I finally made it to Indiana yesterday. This is so not what I imagined it to be. Talk about culture shock!! It could just be adjustment issues like living in a small town, being around artists who live and work by their own schedules, having to still figure things out - I don't know. I have a feeling though that the visa difficulties were only the beginning of what is going to be an extremely challenging year for me. I think I'm in for some major changes, like the painful peeling off of layers kind of changes. Changes that I'm not ready for. I can't imagine that my first impressions are right, but based on how I've been feeling for the past 24 hrs I'd pack up and drive the 8 hrs home right now. Too bad that I don't have the guts seeing that getting me that work visa caused such a fiasco. Oh God give me strength to endure.
I just sent this prayer letter out. When I re-read it after sending it I couldn't help but break out into hysterical laughter upon reading my first paragraph. I'm sure when people read it they'll be thinking "Is this girl for real????" If I wasn't living it, I don't think I'd believe it myself. Oh how ridiculous this whole visa process has become!! This is the first time I've laughed in days though and as serious as these circumstances are, laughing sure beats crying right now.
Friends, I am in need of some serious prayer intervention. After months of waiting for the work visa, it finally being approved, and my being sent the official documents last week I was set to leave for Indiana to start my internship this past week; however, more unexpected drama has been added to the picture. Yes, my visa approval document has been lost in the mail!!! It's unbelievable isn't it? The CPAF sent the document registered priority mail 10 days ago with a guarantee of it arriving between 2-4 business days. I expected it to arrive by Tuesday so that I could leave Wednesday, but that was not the case. After several days of attempted tracking, it is nowhere to be found.
I can not even express the discouragement and disappointment I have felt this week. After months of waiting in faith I was finally ready to just give up altogether. This has been so wearing on me, my family, and the Christian Performing Artists' Fellowship. After several discussions with the CPAF, we can only conclude that somebody is trying really hard to keep me from getting to Indiana. After much questioning, intense prayer, and study of the word this week I can say for certain that God does not want me to give up on this internship.
The CPAF has sent their portion of the visa approval document by Fed Ex this evening to arrive by noon on Monday. This is the only original document left. With all that has gone on with this visa so far, I know that prayer is extremely vital this weekend. Please join me and the entire CPAF team as we pray that those documents will arrive safely without any complications on Monday so that I can leave for the States this Tuesday.
After two months of waiting for the work visa, today was definitely my breaking point. I was sure that today would be the long awaited departure date, but when the visa papers didn't show up yesterday as expected it was clear that I'd be stuck here until the end of the week. When they didn't show up today, I broke down and called the CPAF in tears looking to see what was up. I explained that I knew how ridiculous it is for me to get this upset at this point in the game when after two months I somehow managed to get through everyday with a hope of what tomorrow might bring. We're trying to track the papers but all we know is that they left the US on Sunday and are assumed to be floating about somewhere in Canada. Today I just couldn't be hopeful, the waiting and all the unexpected mishaps with this visa have been so wearing on me. All I can do is think the worst.
I suppose today was the day I finally believed all of Satan's lies and accusations that I have been hearing since I applied for the internship but have managed to push out until now. The accusations of being a complete fool. Giving up my job believing that all things will work out. Waiting until who knows when for a stupid piece of paper that will allow me to go and be a broke intern; will force me to give up my security, my friends, my family, my home and will leave me nowhere but as a struggling artist in the end. The lies that kept telling me that my hope was in vain. The lies that kept saying that perhaps this dream isn't worth the wait.
I got into my car tonight and went for a drive just to get my head in a different place. In my CD player was Josh Groban's new CD, Awake, which my Mom bought for me as a going away gift. Even though he's considered "popera" and all of the hoity toity profs from grad school frowned upon him because he was a sell out, I've always been a Groban fan or a "Grobanite" as they are ususally called. I'm a fan who can definitely appreciate his incredible voice and the way in which he has managed to maintain his integrity as an artist in the pop world. Anyway, as I was driving this song came on, written by a Canadian nonetheless, and I don't know what the writer's intentions where, but it reminded me of why I can't give up. I couldn't help but hear the song from Jesus' perspective.
You Are Loved (Don't give up) By: Thomas Salter Don't give up It's just the weight of the world when your heart's heavy, I I will lift it for you.
Don't give up Because you want to be heard If silence keeps you, I I will break it for you
Everybody wants to be understood Well I can hear you Everybody wants to be loved Don't give up Because you are loved.
Don't give up It's just the hurt that you hide when you're lost inside, I I'll be there to find you
Don't give up Because you want to burn bright If darkness blinds you, I I will shine to guide you
Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved.
This was a great reminder not only that He is there for me when I am weak like today, but also because this is exactly what has fueled my faith these past two months. Getting His message of love to the lost is the reason He has called me to go and do His work at the CPAF. It's amazing how God will use artists to speak to our hearts. After being reminded of His message how could I ever possibly give up?
Being a diva often requires having to work with diva wannabes, who although they try, could never match our level of divaness. We must however learn the different techniques on how to deal with those who clearly lack the grace, wit, charm, and cuteness that we so naturally exude.
Tips on how to deal with our subordinates 1. A subordinate observes the way others fall at your feet (especially the boys), and she craves the same kind of attention, which can cause her to act in ways that can be very annoying. If a subordinate ever annoys you to the point where you think you may lose your cool, arrange with the director to have him/her assign "Little Miss. Subordinate" a ridiculous looking costume that makes her look even more subordinate. (see above photo)
2. You may occasionally catch the subordinate secretly trying on your tiara in the dressing room. Simply approach her, smile and politely say, "I'm terribly sorry, but the director asked me to remind you that subordinates generally don't have tiara privileges; however because I'm so nice and really do like you, I will allow you to admire me as I wear my tiara." Then simply snatch the tiara from her head put it on your own and allow the subordinate to ooo and aaaah at your beauty.
3. When being photographed the subordinate will usually be caught in the most unflattering of poses, usually with her mouth wide open struggling with all her might to attempt the same high F that just naturally flows from your voice with such ease and grace. Remember being photographed next to a subordinate, only makes you look all the cuter in comparison. (see above photo)
4. Never feel threatened while the subordinate tries to upstage you in any way she can. Just smile look pretty and work your diva charm. No matter how hard the subordinate may try, next to you she'll always appear second rate. (see above photo)
Having subordinates around us can really only enhance our divaness. So I say, Bring on the subordinates diva sister!!
The more I grow in my faith, the more I realize what a precious gift prayer is. Tonight after church someone asked "Can I pray for you?" and then began to lift me up in prayer right then and there. There is something that is always so encouraging when I hear someone else petitioning to the Lord on my behalf. Prayer is such an incredible act of faith, and I am so blessed to know some people who truly comprehend that prayer is an action that, despite its use of words, speaks way louder than words. Thanks for the gift of prayer God.
One year ago today I wrote this in my journal:"Well the time has come for Jen to have her baby. She's been induced and hopefully I will be an Aunt within the next 24 hours. What an absolute miracle!! We are all bursting with anticipation and excitement. What a blessing this little baby will be to our family. Thank you God for the way you have moved so far. I thank you for the new life that will be coming into this world within the next 24 hrs. You are a God who reigns over all. I ask for your hand of protection over both Jennifer and this little baby as they endure labour. Keep them both safe and give them the strength to endure. My beautiful sister is going to be a Mom. Wow! This is a moment we've been dreaming of since we were little girls. And now it's here, only this child will have a personality, a will and a soul that You have created. We could never have imagined this little person in our own minds because you Lord have created this child in Your image. I can not wait to meet Your new creation. I praise You and adore You for all that You are and for all that you are changing me to be. Amen." - October 20, 2005
One year later and I know more of who God is because He has given our family Julia. She is such a joy. She's precious and beautiful. I look at her time and time again and marvel at His workmanship. I smile more. I enjoy the little things more, I laugh more. Thank you God for showing me how precious and how fragile life is as You have blessed me with the opportunity to experience life through Julia's eyes over the past year. This beautiful little girl has softened me, has inspired me and has reminded me of how special my family is. I have been able to grasp a greater comprehension of what your unconditional love for me is like too. I have always just loved Julia for who she is, because she is. Loving her before she was born and loving her today. Knowing Julia has changed me in more ways than I could ever have imagined a year ago. You have showered us with the greatest blessings. Thank you for her tiny high pitched voice that says "Auntie". For her contagious giggle. For her sociable nature as she says "hi" to every stranger she sees at the grocery store. Thank you for her kisses, and for the way she puts her head down on your lap and says "nap" when she's tired. Thank you God for all that you have created her to be and for all that you are changing her to be. I pray that she will always be a reflection of Your beautiful image. Amen
Last night I dreamt that I was drowning. I got out of a small wooden boat, took a few steps on the water and then suddenly sank and found myself under the water struggling to make my way back to the top. All I remember thinking as I raised my hands up to the surface was, 'Jesus aren’t you going to save me?'
This morning as I thought about the dream I couldn't help but think how relevant it was. Yesterday I had a day where I felt like Peter at the point in Matt 14, when as he was walking on the water towards Jesus he saw the wind, became frightened and began to sink. As I continued to think about the dream today, I couldn't help but wonder why Jesus would let me sink and then grasp and struggle like that? Clearly I was like Peter and didn't have enough faith to stay on the water, but would Jesus let me drown? I honestly found myself to be quite angry.
After stewing about it all day, I finally turned to Matthew 14 tonight, to see how Jesus responded to Peter's lack of faith: Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" Matt 14: 28-31
Jesus immediately took hold of Peter when he called out to him. Peter didn't even go beneath the water. Jesus caught Peter without delay. That was a good reminder for me that even though my faith seems to be dwindling here day by day and it feels as though I am sinking, Jesus will not let me drown. I have called out to Him over and over and I know that He has already stretched out His hand and taken hold of me .
Clearly my dream is an apparent reflection of my current depletion of faith. How is it that I would come to believe that Jesus would let me drown like that? Now that I have been reminded of the truth, that Jesus has a hold of me and will not let me drown, I guess that leaves me to answer His question: "You of little faith, why do you doubt?"
I've been re-listening to a series by James MacDonald on Faith. It's a series on Hebrews 11. There's a sub section of the series called "Faith= Waiting on God." So I pulled it up in my podcasts last night and began to listen. It's no doubt extremely relevant for this season in my life. This week was rough, the waiting seriously got to me. I began to fuss but was quickly reminded as I listened to the series that I have to be careful not to fall into the traps of unbelief that can arise as we wait on God. James MacDonald looks at the life of Abraham as an example of someone who waited in faith. So most of his sermon really comes out of Genesis. J Mac always uses a clear delivery that I can completely identify with. God has given him an incredible ability to just lay it out there- no frills, no trills just truth.
"The no.1 tool in God's tool chest for forming our character is the chisel of waiting."
"Waiting is the process by which God makes us spiritually fit to receive what He has all along determinded to do. God's love is not a pampering love, it's a perfecting love and the decisions that God makes in His sovereignty are for your ultimate good and for the good of His kingdom purposes."
"If you're waiting on God for something, don't you think that God is off some place else, or that somehow everything is in neutral and that you're just flipping pages on the calendar, Not at all!! God is making you spiritually fit to do the thing that He is determined to do in your life!!!"-
- Waiting is not passive or standing still, it's active. Faith allows us and requires us to do things. ( Call of God to Abraham. Everything God promised was about the future, yet Abraham still got up immediately and went - Gen 12)
- Waiting does not mean that we should put our minds in neutral. God is teaching us while we wait. We shold be learning things while we wait on God (Why didnt' God give Sarah a baby earlier? - to heighten the miraculous and to prepare her to recieve.)
Three things we do instead of learn while we wait: 1. Force it. -I'm tired of waiting so I'm going to do it myself (i.e Sarah & Ab brought Hagar into the picture - Gen 16) 2. Fake it. (Ab asks God if Ishmeal can be the descendant to receive the special blessing-Gen 17:18) 3. Fuss about it or get bent. (Sarah laughs in her old age when God tells her that she would have a baby. Gen 18.) - Waiting is not looking around at the moment, it's looking ahead by faith. It means dreaming a dream for the future and making choices of integrity that will reflect a generational obedience.
- Waiting is not clinging to the promise, it's clinging to the provider by faith. (Ab got attached to the promise, Isaac, the evidence of the miracle rather than the provider of the miracle. God asked him to sacrifice Isaac, to remind him that He must cling to the Provider. Gen 22. ) God doesn't want anything to take his rightful place of priority in our lives. God will not compete. God doesn't want us trusting in the things He has done, he wants us trusting in Him.
"Don't get attached to the way you think that God is going to do it, but always keep your eyes on the Lord. Any place else is a dangerous place to be. Look to the Giver Himself and trust that He will do it His way."
I am thankful to be in a season of waiting. I'm not so much enjoying being "chiseled at" these days :) but I do know that like Abraham and Sarah, He is making me spiritually fit to receive His incredible blessings.
It's a well known fact in my family that I am not a touchy feely kind of diva. Growing up, I never minded hugs so much, but kisses used to completely gross me out. I've gotten better over the years, but I have to admit I am a little obsessive compulsive when it comes to germs, especially when they are germs that belong to someone else. I used to always wonder who came up with the idea of deliberately exchanging germs in order to show affection. My family used to laugh at me when I was a kid and thought that my outright resistance to kisses was hilarious. They would often chase me around trying to give me kisses. When they got a hold of me, they'd purposely give me slobbery nasty wet kisses on my cheek, which was absolute torture. (and they wonder now, how I came to be such a looney tune:) I would usually make a big deal, wipe my cheek and run to the washroom to scrub the slobber off with soap and water. That being said, birthday's and Christmases were a germ nightmare for me.
As I've become an adult my family has learned to respect me and my personal germ space bubble and don't really kiss me at all. My grandpa, who although he never said it, was the same way when it came to kisses. He respected my dislike so much that he got to the point where he would affectionately shake my hand on the special occasions that called for a kiss. It sounds strange but really it’s all good. I really don’t need kisses to know that my family loves me. My Dad still teases me though and tells me that he can’t wait for my wedding day when the pastor will say to my new husband, “You may now shake the bride’s hand.” (I’ve never really explained to my Dad that boy kisses don’t fall into the “ewwww nasty kiss” category . . . meh, I say that what Daddy doesn’t know won’t kill him :)
This past year I have noticed that my feelings on wet slobbery kisses have drastically changed. It’s quite clear that being Auntie Diva has changed me in many ways, but never did I imagine that I would be asking for slobbery wet kisses from someone. If a stranger were to see me with Julia they would have a hard time believing that I have germ issues. Julia’s kisses are to me the best kisses in the world, and believe me they are the slobberiest, wettest kisses known to mankind. For a while she was like a little puppy and would lick my cheek when I asked for a kiss. Now she just lays it on, drool and all (the above photo shows Julia preparing to give Auntie a kiss:) She makes the cutest little “mmmmwa” noise when she gives a kiss too. It’s so sweet and extremely irresistible. Today, Jen laughed when I kept asking Julia for kisses. My sister can’t believe that I, the germaphobe freakazoid who once jumped in a lake fully clothed to avoid a kiss, was now begging for slobbery wet Julia kisses. Oh, Auntiehood, how it can change even the most un-touchy, un-feely germ freak of a Diva. :)
I'm not entirely sure how much longer I can endure this stagnant life of waiting. I feel that I have no purpose. I’m not making a difference in this world. I sit and watch the time go by. I watch other lives move around me, and I in contrast sit paralyzed unable to move. I'm beginning to feel foolish. I'm beginning to lose hope. I've learned that no one really cares and quite frankly I've stopped caring too. Many whom I thought were friends have shown otherwise, but that I grieved and came to terms with several weeks ago. I'm just not understanding why this season of stale waiting is upon me. I look for ways to occupy my time, but even when I'm doing something that seems to have purpose it still feels as though it is just to pass the time. I'm tired of spending so much time with myself. If something needs to be done before I go, I'm willing to do it. But I have yet to get any clear answers from God. I've cried out time and time again. I've cupped my ear to hear His voice, but there are no concrete answers. How is it that I could be so close to a dream and then only be forced to wait some more? It's honestly beginning to feel like a cruel joke. I'm starting to get angry. I'm beginning to feel slightly depressed. I'm becoming more aware of how little faith I have as I feel it weaken day by day. Have I heard wrong? Have I made a mistake? Should I be making other plans? How long will this last and how long will I be able to endure without completely giving up?
I love the entire creative process of being a performer. There's an excitement that wells up within me when I start working on a new role and new music. There's a unique creativity and sensitivity that is required when one is forced to get to the depth and intimate details of a character via musical interpretation. It's hard to explain, but rehearsing music is always such an exhilarating process for me (as is performing) it's when I feel most like myself, as though I am doing the work that I was made to do.
Over the past few months I've been learning a role for a musical which the worship pastor at my church wrote. He finally completed the musical this summer after almost 15 years of writing bit by bit. The plan is to perform a concert version of the musical on Oct 27 and to hopefully stage it in 2007. What's incredible to me is that Alan managed to finish the musical even though he has been quite ill. The entire process for Alan has been one of faith, and that theme is clearly written in every note of the music. God has used Alan's music and words to paint an incredibly beautiful picture . The words and music are inspiring and encouraging. It's moving and it has such a strong message. I've found myself with tears in my eyes so many times as I've rehearsed through some of the pieces. I can clearly hear God's voice speaking through that music.
We've had a couple of ensemble rehearsals so far and I can't help but feel so excited. Excited is much of an understatement, I feel so much joy about this that I might just explode. It seems as though everyone involved is just as excited. I have no doubt that God is going to do mighty things through this musical, as a matter of fact He already has in the writing and in the bringing together of details. I just can't believe that I get to be a small part of it. How blessed am I! Thanks God :)
One day a woman noticed a butterfly chrysalis on one of the branches in her front yard. She was fascinated. She had never seen a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis and was determined to witness the miracle. So day after day she monitored the chrysalis. One day she noticed that the butterfly was beginning to emerge. The butterfly struggled for an extended time, and was fighting hard in order to get out of its pod. The woman could not stand to watch the butterfly struggle, so she decided to help the butterfly and tore open the shell and set the new butterfly free. Hours later the woman returned to where she had set the butterfly free. To her surprise the beautiful butterfly was lying dead on the ground.
The woman later shared her story with a friend who had studied much about butterflies. Her friend said, "Surely you meant well by setting the butterfly free from it's chrysalis, but the struggle to get out of the chrysalis is one of the most important processes for the butterfly. You see, as it beats its wings against the walls and struggles to make its way out, the butterfly's wings are strengthened so that it can fly when it does emerge into the world. By setting it free early, the butterfly had not developed the strength in its wings to fly and could not survive in the world."
I heard from the CPAF today. No news from homeland security about the work visa yet, but they wanted to encourage me as I wait in faith. The waiting has been as much of a process for them as it has been for me. They told me that they have set up all the little details in preparation for my arrival. They even put my name on the office door where I will be working this year. I wonder if it's a big shiny star sign that says Diva McNeil . . . . I highly doubt it. A diva can dream though can't she? :) That sign may very well be an old crusty little yellow post-it note with my name scribbled on it in pencil, but I really don't care. That sign is enough of a reminder that there is a place for me there. The CPAF team is waiting in faith and they are prepared for the day when God will finalize my trainee visa. I am looking forward to seeing that beautiful little sign on my office door very soon :)
Over the past two weeks, since finishing work, I've had plenty of time to read. I've read 5 books so far. Only one has really left a huge impression though. I read The Barbarian Way last weekend and have been referring back to it since. I was just so encouraged and motivated to change and live like a barbarian relying on the untamed faith within. McManus uses John the Baptist as an example of a Barbarian believer. He talks about how our Christian culture has learned to tame and refine the faith that God intended for us to live by. We have become a civilized society that sees those who act out in faith as crazy or insane. According to McManus the church, has adapted to the civilized way of society and does less than encourage us to be "crazy" believers who allow the untamed faith within to guide us to take action.
As I examined my own faith (a lot of which I have been doing lately) I realized that in many ways since I became a Christian I have been slowly learning how to refine and to tame my faith. At one point in the book McManus refers to new Christians and how they are prime examples of what the untamed faith looks like. They live their faith the barbarian way. On the most part new Christians are bold. They just want to share their new found love with the world and really don't care what people think. I was like that when I first became a Christian. I would walk down the street and practically explode with joy when I found someone to talk to about my faith. I shared with everyone how I was now a Christian and how knowing Christ in a personal way had changed me to the core. I don't know how, but slowly my faith has become less external and more internal. I share less and less and I lack the initial boldness that I had as a new believer, a boldness that came quite naturally.
McManus suggests that a new believer's faith can begin to be "domesticated" by something as simple as the wrong metaphor being applied to the new follower. He refers to John 3:3-8 when Jesus has a conversation with Nicodemus about being "born again". "This, of course, leads us to perceive people who are new in the faith as nothing more than brand-new babes. They're innocent and helpless and incapable of caring for themselves much less serving others. Yet the phrase that Jesus used can also be translated not as "born again" but as "born from above." Jesus connected this birth not with a mother's womb, but with the Spirit of God descending from heaven and moving with power. The point in this: the metaphor of new birth has led us to some wrong conclusions. When we are born of flesh and blood, we are helpless and dependant on others even for our own survival. That is not the case when we are born of Spirit."- McManus (The Barbarian Way)
Just this past winter I tried really hard to tame my passion. Someone in my life made a sincere comment about how overly passionate I can be. I'll be the first to admit that when I do talk about my faith I have a tendency to gush a bit. Not only that, but when I'm passionate about His work and seeing Him move, I've never been afraid to vocalize how I feel or what I see. After several comments about my passion, I actually started to take my passion as something negative. I tried very hard to keep it to myself. I found myself joking about my "passion" and making a mockery of it. Thinking back I don't know why I would do that. I can be so dumb! I see now that it was a good thing that I failed miserably at completely withholding my passion ( I just couldn't keep it in:) While reading The Barbarian Way I realized that by trying to squelch my passion I was in many ways trying to tame my faith.
After reading the book I was encouraged to continue to strive to use my passion and untamed faith to make decisions and to just jump. These days my prayers have been focused on asking for the passion and courage to step out as a bold Barbarian. I don't in any way shape or form want to be indifferent when it comes to Jesus Christ. I don't want to be a believer who rationalizes apathy. I do not want to be a believer who does not step up into action. I want to be a passionate person. I want to embrace that passion and use it to feed my faith. I want to be viewed as a crazy nutbar who will do anything for the sake of Jesus Christ. (In this book I saw that God actually gives permission and encourags us all to be lunatics - yaaaaaaay Crazy!!!!:)
McManus just says so much in this short book. I can't articulate it all. I am convinced that this book carries a strong message from God, not only to me, but to every believer. We were designed to be barbarians who act and fight the battle using our untamed faith to guide us. I have no doubt that when we unleash that untamed faith within God is going to be glorified in such powerful ways.
Last night was hard for me. Sometimes I just wish that I could be more articulate. So often I find myself struggling for the words to describe exactly how I feel or what I've experienced. When I can't articulate something to another person I feel so inadequate. How is it that I can't express in words something that defines who I am? How is it that there is so much inside of me that no one will ever know because I can't articulate it in words, facial expressions, actions, or even songs?
I was thinking the other day about intimacy with God and what makes my relationship with Him so amazing. And I have to say that I really love that He knows everything about me. I don't even have to try to articulate things to Him because He knows it all, even the things that I don't know about myself. He knows me intimately and to the core. God knows all that is in my heart and I truly cherish that intimacy. What is even more incredible is that He is the only One who will ever know all of me. There will never be another who knows me like He does.
I suppose that when it comes to articulating necessary things to others, I should just rely on Him to provide the words, since He knows us all intimately and knows exactly what we each need to hear through others. Last night I think that I failed to trust that intimacy.
I introduced Julia to Mr. Potato Head yesterday. I was thinking that since she loved "tay-toes" so much that she might enjoy hanging out with Mr. Tay-toe Head. Julia was more interested in chewing on one of his noses than she was in him. I on the other hand very much enjoyed spending some quality time with the tater. He 's really quite cool. I didn't have a Mr. Potato Head growing up so I've never been able to appreciate him for all that he is. He can be so many things: From an average potato with a classic mustache and construction hat to a muscle man with geeky glasses (kinda like a super hero). He can also be a little artsy just by adding a long swirly mustache and a sticking out tongue. The options are endless. The best part about him is that he's got a storage area in his tooshie, so that he can carry a change of clothes with him wherever he goes. I didn't know that about him, it's a very cool feature. Mr. Potato Head is a man of mystery, yet he still manages to be charming, silly and very fun. I think I may have a bit of a crush on him. No doubt as Julia gets older she'll learn to appreciate him for more than just his nose cause Mr. Potato Head is without a doubt one hot spud :)
(Julia decides that the king orangutan at the zoo is nice, but not the man for her:)
Diva Lesson #7 How to Choose the Right Man for You
No denying that a diva has many choices when it comes to love (after all we constantly have men falling at our feet begging for our affection:) however, we must learn to choose wisely, as he will very much reflect the kind of diva that we are ( when it comes down to it, it's really all about maintaining our perfect reputation.)
Tips on how to determine if he's the right man. **Remember: It is always important to look your cutest so that even if he's a "no" you leave him pining away and longing for your love and affection (see above photo). ***
1. Observe from afar. Does he a) have an interest in life? Does he read, play, work, laugh, and think? Or does he b) sit around all day, scratch his head, and pick bugs off his friend's back and then eat them?
2. Get a little closer. Try to strike up a conversation. Does he a) respond to your questions with actual sentences; follow up by inquiring about you; make a few jokes, all the while looking you in the eyes and smiling while he's talking? Or does he b) sit there scratching his head, making the occasional high pitched "ooo eee ahh" noise, and continue to pick the bugs off his friend's back and eat them?
3. Get a little bit more intimate. Ask him out for dinner (or manipulate him to ask you). Does he a) have excellent table manners? Does he say please, thank you etc. Is he kind to your server? Or does he b) sit there scratching his head, slobbering as he eats, dropping food everywhere, and for dessert decide to pick the bugs off his friend's back and eat them?
By this point you should have a pretty good idea as to whether or not he is worthy of being your man. If you answer b) to any of the above and continue to pursue and throw yourself at him - Girl, you've got problems and aren't worthy to carry the "Diva" name :)
I tend to go through phases where I'll listen to one CD in my car over and over for an extended period of time. This month my "theme CD" is Sarah Kelly's new release Where the Past Meets Today. At first I found the CD to be extremely raw and a little more rocked out than her last release, Take me Away. I wasn't sure if I liked it, but now I find myself listening to it over and over. Even when I try to put another CD in for a change, I'll end up pulling out Sarah Kelly and putting it back in.
Sarah Kelly's lyrics have always been the main reason why I listen, that and I think her voice is intensely expressive. The lyrics on this CD are all about change and moving into new seasons of life. I've read that many of them are referring to her own personal dealings with abuse as a child. In my opinion the sign of a true artist is being able to write lyrics that could apply to more than just one's own personal experiences. I'm finding a lot of her lyrics to be superbly relevant for what I'm going through lately. I'm standing on the edge of a huge change and I'm finding it difficult at times to keep myself composed and focused on my Provider rather than on what I'm hoping for Him to provide. Transitioning out without actually being gone is not easy either. Do I live as though I'm staying? Do I withdraw a bit? Do I phase out all together? I'm learning a lot about what happens when one chooses what seems to be massive change. Several things have strangely been put into perspective for me this past month, particularly when it comes to the many relationships in my life.
Songs have always helped me to sort out my emotions or to put things into perspective. That's why I believe music to be so important. This week there were several lyrics from the CD that just jumped out at me and honestly had me in tears, because I knew that I needed to hear them. Song lyrics are never powerful without the music that strengthens them, I believe Sarah Kelly's soulful voice just makes her honest lyrics all that more powerful. Where the past meets today is yet another staple in my CD collection. It's a CD that will be played over and over and will no doubt mean different things at different seasons in my life.
'Don't close your eyes, cause the best part is coming. The strength of tomorrow meets the power of now.' - Still Breathing
'Hold on Love, it's all on the line, but you'll be alright. Lift your head, you must be strong now, must sing out your song.' - Hold on Love
'Hello to new life, means hello to Goodbyes. Welcome to change rearranging the inside.' -Hold on Love
'Time stand still in this moment. Dawn arise from nights keeping. All my love. Stored up treasure, heart awake from your keeping. And all I really want to say is I love You. And all I really want to do is be next to You. Here on the edge of what lies ahead, Ready to fall into You. . .fall into You. I'm not afraid of change or pain. Ready to fall into You . . . fall into You. Searching heart, Search is over. Peace has proven You real. Guarded heart, Guard this love now as faithfulness is revealed. '- Fall into You
As of 3pm today my life as a fertility clinic administrative assistant is over!!!! Yaaay!!!! I have to say it was always interesting to see people squirm when I told them that I'm an opera singer/fertility clinic professional. I never imagined myself knowing so much about this industry. It really has been a fascinating year and a half. I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about the many ways to make a baby. (believe it or not there is more than one way :) I'm really looking forward to removing the fertility vocabulary from my daily speech and to reestablishing myself as simply "an opera singer". From now on when asked what I do for a living there will be no slash and no sperm, I'll simply reply, "I'm an Opera Singer." I believe that is deserving of one loud vibrato filled operatic AAAAAAAAAA!!!!!
Last night the "club" got together to send Tori off to Thunder Bay for her year of teacher's college. We got to talking about how long we've known each other and how much we've seen each other change and grow since our first year of of music school. Lots of reminiscing about the crazy things we did in our University days. We can't believe that it's been nine years!!! Tori and I met in our 1st year musicianship tutorial. We were paired together to lead the first week of excercises and became friends instantly. I remember the first day we hung out, we met with the sole intention of planning the tutorial. For some odd reason, and I can't remember why, the 2 of us couldn't stop laughing. We giggled together for hours as we sat on the floor in the centre of Vari Hall. Giggling has always been for me a sure sign of a kindred spirit.
As Tori and I have grown and changed over the past nine years I think of what a constant she has been in my life. Even when she was in Korea for a year and a half, I knew that we'd never lose touch or drift from being friends. She's always been there. She's always been a listening ear, an honest voice, a word of encouragement, a crazy notion, and a giggle. She is one who was never been afraid to challenge me. And as I've seen her grow and change I can see in her a woman of strength. She's never shied away from a challenge, she has always been adventurous, she shares her pain openly and has remained true to herself through it all.
It was nice to spend time with close friends last night. It was the ideal reminder that there will always be a few in my life who will never fall out of touch. They are the ones who know me so well that they have no trouble adapting to the changes in me. We have experienced far too much together to fall prey to the out of sight out of mind syndrome.
After several weeks of what seems like endless interviews and auditions, I've finally chosen my new rearview mirror mascot. Meet Joan Sutherfish. The above photo is the headshot she submitted with her application. I have to say that she's quite the glamourous little fishy. She loves sparkle, and she definitely understands the diva tiara philosophy. We have quite a bit in common, which is kind of nice. I have let her know that this mascot gig is only on a trial basis though. I'm not sure if having 2 divas in one car is going to work out. We drove home tonight and she kept glaring at me as though she was trying to let me know that I'm no threat to her. Ooo la la, I don't think she knows who she's messing with here. There won't be any attitude coming from my car unless it's coming from me. I guess I'll have to make it very clear who the diva is of this Mazda. It really wasn't my intention to hire a diva to fill the mascot position, but I have to say, there was something stupendously divaesque about Joan Sutherfish that reminded me of someone I know. :)
"The closer you get to a divine challenge, the bigger it will seem, and the smaller you will feel. If the signs you are looking for are guarantees of success, you may retreat when you should be advancing. It would be great if the signs from God that we should advance were always things like a perfect situation, all the resources necessary to succeed, or a guaranteed win. Yet if that were the case, there would be no adventure. Besides, that isn't reality. More often the signs pointing us to advance will cause us to assess who we are and who we believe God to be. They will make clear our priorities. Are we in it for what we can get or for what we can give? The signs will expose our hearts, reveal our fears, and unleash our faith." Erwin McManus - Chasing Daylight
I've been re-reading Chasing Daylight in preparation for the journey ahead. Last week I came to the chapter on Advancing. I found it to be super relevant for what I've been going through with the whole work visa thing. Oddly enough the challenge with the visa has become more of sign pointing me to advance. Chasing Daylight is definitely one of those books that I will continuously refer back to. It's changed my thinking and has inspired me to move and to persevere in faith.
"Lord I know You're gonna do it and I want You to know that You get my vote." - John MacArthur
MacArthur used this as an example in his broadcast the other day when he was talking about praying for God’s will to be accomplished. It made me laugh because it was such an un-MacArthur statement. In light of all that’s going on with the recent work visa issues I find those words to be the perfect prayer right now. Sometimes all we can do in prayer is let God know that we have faith and that we’re on His side when it comes to accomplishing His purpsoes.
I can’t see the full picture right now as to why getting a work visa is going to be so difficult, but I know that God has a purpose in it all. Perhaps it’s to grow my faith and test my heart, or maybe it's to make me fully aware that if I’m going to do His work, I have to fully rely on Him to provide everything I need. Maybe there are reasons that go beyond me - I just don’t know. I do know that I woke this morning with a sense of peace about it all. I will go to Indiana in September. I know that He sees the full picture and that’s enough for me to continue to prepare for the journey ahead.
I prayed MacArthur’s exact words last night. How great is it that we have a God who we can put our full and complete trust in. Right now prayer is all I have. It’s the only thing that is keeping my faith in tact. And I am so grateful that others have joined me by praying in faith and are letting God know that He gets their vote too. I know, He’s gonna do it!!
My life is under construction. It's funny how when construction begins everything appears or feels as though it's falling apart at the seams.
- I started packing yesterday, well not packing but organizing to pack. I really don't know how I've become such a clutter bug. My room is one huge disaster now. I can't even get to my bed. How I'm going to figure out what stays and what goes, I just don't know. What does a diva bring to small town Indiana? Oyvay!!
- It feels like my heart is about to fall apart here too. I'm bursting with an incredible passion for the ministry that He has set before me, yet at the same time I'm trying not to get all emotional about having to say "goodbye" to family and friends. I have such a mush heart. Ever since I was a kid, I've had such difficulty saying "goodbye". On Sunday night I reverted back to my youth. I was so sad thinking about who I'm leaving behind that I couldn't stop crying. I cried to the point where I was all gross and snotty and I felt as though my head was going to explode. I have a feeling that a huge portion of my 8 hr trip to Indiana in Sept. will be tearful. Won't that look great- Diva shows up at the CPAF office all puffy eyed and snotty faced ready to begin the exciting adventure:)
- I'm finding myself really fixed on the cliche "out of sight, out of mind" too. I'm preparing to deal with the reality that many people whom I am friends with now, will soon forget about me. I know that some relationships will end or change after I go. I've seen it happen far too frequently to deny the inevitable. I'm determinded to stay in touch, but what's that other cliche "it takes two". It sucks and almost makes me wish that I had learned to guard my heart a little better when it came to investing in friendships.
- Just got word from the CPAF on my visa status. We're cutting it really close. It turns out that I won't qulify for an intern visa and will have to apply for a trainee visa. It means that the documentation that ususally takes 6 months has to be done in 3 weeks. How is all this going to happen in 3 weeks? It's causing me to fret and I'm struggling to keep the faith. What if this doesn't happen? what will I do? I've decided - I'm not gonna panic, I'm just gonna pray.
- I've given my resignation at work. 2 weeks to go - yaay!! It's hard going into the clinic though and staying motivated, cause frankly I just don't care anymore. I just want to be spending my time preparing to leave, but the extra pay check will no doubt come in handy.
Re-construction is a brutal process especially when it involves the heart, but because God is in charge of it all, I tust that the end product will be ok.
(In light of my life reconstruction, I decided to re-construct my blog. It's pretty isn't it? :)
Dearest Diva, How hard it is to say farewell to my beloved. I'm afraid that the time has come for me to retire as your rearview mirror mascot. My sponginess is gone, my colour has faded, my skin is cracked and crusty from baking in the sun, and my arm is sooo tired from waving at you for the past 4 years. You deserve so much more, more than I could ever give. Of course ever since I lost my nose and had to settle for a Trident gum wrapper prosthesis I just haven't been the same. I have grown weary and it pains me deeply to say this, but it is time for us to depart. Oh How I shall miss the sound of your blaring voice as you sing away to your CD's without a care in the world. And I will indeed miss the excitement and hope that wells up within me every time you glance my way to check your teeth in the rearview mirror. I have watched so much of your life fly by. I have heard you laugh and I have watched you dance. I have heard you cry and I have watched you mourn. We have shared so many intimate moments - moments that I will cherish forever. Do not forget me dearest Diva, for I will never forget you. The memories of our endless car rides will continue to revive me in my final days and my heart shall remain forever faithful to you. Fare thee well my love. Devotedly Yours, Spongykins
What a fantastic weekend retreat with the SG. (Andre and Marcel, as always much thanks for opening your beautiful cottage to us.)
I don't want to get all mushy but I'm gonna cause I seriously love my small group sooo much. This group is a true and awesome answer to prayer. When I chose to step up as a leader last year I did so with a heart that longed to see true Christ centered authentic, vulnerable relationships formed. I desired to see and be a part of a small group of people who learn to care for and understand each other so well that there would be no barriers and no reasons or excuses to hide one's true self. Last summer as I prepared to take over as leader from Tony, I remember sitting on the very dock that we played on this weekend, crying into the water as I prayed for the future of our group. I honestly thought that the group would disintegrate as we dwindled from a strong group of 12 to a modest 3. But oh how God has shown me what little faith I have. He not only answered the deep longings of my heart but has grown my faith as I've watched the group grow and develop into a real family.
I could go on and on about how you have each touched my life,taught me, encouraged me and made me laugh time and time again but that would call for much more than a jeeky:) blog entry. You are each so special to me and I praise God for you and the blessing that you are to me. I'm going miss you soo much while I'm away (even more than the mat man:) but I can't wait to hear about how God will continue to show His faithfulness and love through this very unique family.
I love you Rhanda, Nishant, Andre, Em, Catherine, Sarina, Brian, Lisa, and John.
AAAAAh it's Friday, How can I tell? The mat man just left the clinic. The mat man is always a fresh reminder that the weekend is only 8 hrs away. He's the chipperest guy on the planet (I know chipperest isn't a word but it's the only way to describe him:) He's always smiling and super chatty as he picks up the mats and switches them for new. I'm glad he comes on Friday cause if he showed up on a Monday I have a feeling I wouldn't find him so refreshing. I'm gonna miss the mat man.
A short poem for the mat man
Mat man, mat man what will I do
when time comes 'round to wipe my shoe?
will you drop by and bring me a mat
and remind me it's friday with your friendly chit chat?
Mat man, mat man you're the best
you're full of life and full of zest.
Mat man, mat man I'm glad you were born
but I sure don't wanna see you on a monday morn :)
I was reminded tonight of my early ballet days and how much time we spent learning how to spot so that we wouldn't topple over from dizziness while doing pirouettes. It was so frustrating for me. We were instructed to pick a fixed object on the wall or somewhere in the room and to turn without taking our eyes off the object. Even with the quick snap of the head at the end of the turn, we were not to lose sight of that object. We'd spend class after class turning to music trying to master the spotting technique. I honestly never got it, my eyes would always leave the object at some point and I'd eventually get dizzy. For the entire 11 years that I took ballet lessons I don't think I ever learned how to spot properly, I somehow managed to fake it through. I clearly never had the grace and beauty required of a ballerina.
Today, I find myself still trying to learn the important lesson of spotting. This time it has nothing to do with ballet pirouettes. The object that I've chosen to fix my eyes upon is an unchanging solid rock. He's gloriously beautiful yet I'm still toppling over from dizziness because I keep losing sight of Him. I'm determined not to fake my way through this time. It may take a life time, but I pray that He will show me how to keep my eyes fixed upon His son, so that I can turn and spin while reflecting the grace and beauty of Jesus Christ.