Friday, January 30, 2009

HGTV Friday Five

Over at the RGBP will smama writes:

As some of you may know I am in the midst of my first home purchase. It is a new-build and so some of the fun was picking out upgrades and major decor items to my taste rather than walking into a previously owned home that needed to be upgraded room by room (pink and teal tiles in the bathroom, anyone?). As much as decorating is not my thing, I did try to embrace the moment because just how many times do you get to have a do-over on kitchen cabinets/floors/countertops?

And so, my questions to you this fine Friday involve your home past, present or future...

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first? I am tempted to say the kitchen because you know, counter space would come in handy. But I would have to say that the 6x6 closet we call a bathroom(the tub takes 1/3 of the space, leaving a 4x6 space with the toilet, sink and "room" for people to stand and walk) takes the prize. The tub surround doesn't seal and so there is a strong suspicion that stuff is growing in the walls. AS it happens this is the next project the Board wants to take on at the manse.

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home? The house we moved into when I was 5 had a strange golden carpet over all the common areas except bathroom and kitchen that had a yellow/gold and green vinyl. But then again in the 1970's this was fashionable. Or there was the lovely rose bathroom fixtures in my first bachelor suite...

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach? I grew up in a house with a fireplace and would love to have one again. Although then I would also want the wood fairy to magically provide cut and split firewood each year. I don't see either of those happening in the near future.

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why? As mentioned above there is a distinct lack of counter space which is a downside. But there is lots of cupboard space. Given the chance it could be a bit bigger to allow for the good sized table we have and room for more counters.

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do? Oh the Chair if the Board would love this one! (living in a manse after all) The house needs to be expanded, bedrooms and bathroom need to be bigger. SO knocking out some walls (partially exterior) and expanding. Also some insulation would be a nice idea.

Truth be told, if I owned the house and lot and had a spare $100 000 I would carefully level it (saving the nice brick for re-use if possible) and then rebuild bigger and more energy efficient than this currently is.

BONUS: Why do you think there was such a surplus of ugly bathroom tile colors showcased in all homes built from the 1950's right through the early 80's? The vagaries of style I'd say. OR maybe there was a higher incidence of colour-blindness in those years.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Newspaper COlumn for February 2, 2009

It's Hard to Soar Like an Eagle...

When you find yourself totally exhausted.

[God]gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

How many people out there find themselves feeling faint? How many wonder how long their strength can last? How many times have you found yourself asking: “How long God? How long before things get better?”?

When times are good it is easy to feel refreshed. When things go well the little trips and stumbles are easily overcome. Our energy reserves refill sooner and it is easy to forget where we turn for strength. But when times are bad?

When times are tough and the going is hard where do we turn for strength? The same place we turn when times are good. And if that place is unable to cope with the hiccups of life then we find ourselves easily exhausted and in our exhaustion we can easily slide into hopelessness and despair.

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)

One of the great lies the world tells us as we grow up is that our source of strength needs to be within us. “Only you can pull yourself up” we are told. We have to be responsible for ourselves, we have to find it within us to deal with life's hardships and trial. After all, nobody else is going to do it for us.

Balderdash! Male cow droppings (this is a family paper after all)!

I think we all know that none of us by ourselves has the strength to deal with everything that life throws at us. This is not a failing, simply part of being human. If we try to handle everything from our own reserves we find out quickly that those reserves are a non-renewable energy source. It is like trying to drive from Halifax to Vancouver on one tank of gas. It just can't be done.

Thankfully we are blessed with a totally renewable, totally free, always available energy source. Speaking to people in exile, people who may well have given up, Isaiah reminds them that “they who wait on the Lord ... shall walk and not faint”. The Psalmist reminds us that our help comes from the Creating God. This is our energy source.

Times are not good for many today. If we try to cope with all the bad news by ourselves we can easily get exhausted in body, mind and spirit. But we don't have to do it by ourselves. We have God to give us strength. God likely can't flip a switch and make it all better but God is our source of hope. We can trust in God's strength to bear us up. We can indeed soar higher than the eagles, if God is the wind beneath our wings. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Civic REligion

THis Saturday there is a meeting of representatives from District municipalities and I have been invited to give the invocation (which means I have to up, dressed, and awake by 8:30 in the morning on a Saturday!).

Since this is a civic function a strictly Christian prayer is not in order. SO what do we do for the civil religion functions that we are asked to do???

Or maybe I should ask Rick Warren????

Monday, January 26, 2009

Maybe Make it an Illegal Substance???

Last week Ontario banned smoking in a car if children were present (see story here)

Now I understand the logic. I agree with the logic. I agree with the principle of protecting children.

But really what's next? Banning smoking in private homes with children present? (Noting that some agencies already require foster parent homes to be non-smoking buildings) We have already banned smoking in most public enclosed spaces, and there is a drive to ban it in parks and on beaches as well.

If tobacco were presented as a new product now it would never be approved for sale. It is inherently harmful when used as intended after all. Given what we know and what has already been done is it time to ban it altogether?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Out of Crisis, New Hope

GOing to play a portion of this for the sermon tomorrow. In times of crisis and chaos do we feel fine or do we give up? Do we believe that God is active?

According to MArk Jesus starts his ministry "when John had been arrested". If, as the GOspels suggest, Jesus was a follower of John then this arrest could easily have been seen as a warning, as a sign to lay low. But Jesus comes out proclaiming a message of hope and good news.

If it is indeed the end of the world as we know it, where is the hope that allows us to feel fine?


YEsterday the JK class invited parents to come join in their literacy day activities so Beloved and Monkey and I went to Scaliwag's class. While there the older students had indoor recess so I slipped down the hall to say hi to Princess.

Upon seeing me she promptly hid under the table. Then as we were leaving and Princess' class was walking down the hallway she tried to pretend we weren't there (well she did say hi to her sister) while her classmates were busily showing me their stuffed animals (it was pj day) and talking with us.

I knew eventually the girls would want to pretend their parents didn't exist while their friends were around. I just thought we had a few years before that kicked in!

Friday, January 23, 2009

CAbin Fever? WHat Cabin Fever?

Over at the RGBP Singing OWl writes:
Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?
  1. Hot tub, good book and a restful spell of reading. Granted this has to wait until the chilluns are in bed (and hopefully asleep).
  2. Weather be what it may, find time to get outside. OR failing that, find time to get the kids to go outside and enjoy the quiet :-)
  3. "Snuggles" with a significant other
  4. Check out the weather websites and find someone whose weather is worse!
  5. Curling up in front of a fireplace (conceivably combined with #3)
BONUS: Who has time for cabin fever when busily shoveling all that snow?????????????? BEsides it almost got up to freezing here earlier this week (compared to -30C last week and wind chills of -25C this afternoon). ALthough to tell the truth I rather it stay below -5 until Spring--the roads stay in much better shape that way -- freeze-thaw just makes them icy

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not a Messiah

That is the phrase that keeps coming to mind as I listen to some of the commetns made and expectations/hopes shared in preparation for tomorrow's inauguration of Barack Obama.

Yes I know that he has awakened a great deal of hope in those who support him. Yes I would have voted for him were I eligible. Yes he is a charismatic speaker. Yes his message of change and "Yes we can" is addictive.

But he is not a messiah. All will not suddenly be well as soon as he takes the oath of office (with his hand on the Bible used when Lincoln took the oath apparently). In his address yesterday Obama named the fact that it will be a long struggle. Politics being the art of the possible a reality of trading political favours/capital means that hopes and realities are often separate issues.

My hope is that the populace at large will give him time. The public are not good at patience. THe lure of the quick fix (particularly a quick fix that doesn't require us to actually change our expectations or behaviour) is very seductive. But real change and real healing and real recovery takes time. IT also (horror of horrors) requires people to change their lives. Will Obama's team be given a chance or will people expect a turnaround within the 1st 100 days?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sigh.... ANd the importance of stories

Well I struggled and struggled and got my Annual Report 2/3 done. Then I realized it was nothing close to what needed to be written. (Which is likely why it was saying absolutely nothing.) Oh well, back to step one. Unfortunately what I feel needs to be said is hard to find a way to write. It means asking some hard questions about sustainability and viability...

In other news...
I have been thinking lately about stories. NOt the kind that you find on the shelf at your local bookstore, but the ones that live in all our families. This was spurred by the service for my grandfather last week. How many great stories (and how much family history) has disappeared because the participants have passed away? It would be so much better if those family stories could be recorded in some fashion. But that means pepole with both the interest and the time to do it.

OTOH, future generations may well find they have too many stories thanks to things like blogs and notes on FB and the like. And how many of those stories will they say "thank goodness that was saved!" about?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lenten Ponderings

I am considering a lenten theme of The C's of Stewardship.

THe possible words to go with that are:
  • Creation
  • Consumption/Consumerism
  • Cash (or Credit???)
  • Choices
  • Community
  • Charity

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes...

LAst night I was told about this exchange between Beloved and PRincess:
B: THe next time we put window stickers up will be for Valentine's Day.
P: When is that?
B: In February
P: What happens to Jesus then?

THink she is a PK??? Mind you this is the same 5 year old who, at Thanksgiving, when the class was making lists of what they were thankful for said "that God keeps me safe"

Monday, January 05, 2009

Time for a new model?

My first book for 2009 will be this one. I really like it! Of course that may be partly because I agree with the anti-consumerist message behind it.

My struggle with all the discourse about how to solve the current economic difficulty in which we find ourselves has been that it only works if one buys the consumerist message that undergirds our system.

All we are being told is that we need to free up credit and put more cash into people's pockets so that they will spend more and thereby "fix" the problem. OF course this hopes you forget that a great many North Americans are excessively in debt already and the last thing they need is more credit. It also hopes nobody points out that many of the things out there are things that we don't really need, or need to replace.

If the only cure for what ails us is to do more of what got us here. Then maybe we need a new cure. Maybe an economic model that isn't based on us all needing to buy the latest toy at the lowest price and who cares if you can't afford it--just get another credit card!

HArdly a week goes by that we don't get at least one "you have been pre-approved" mailing. I remember once when one of us was gently telling a telemarketer we had no desire for a new credit card because we wouldn't have extra cash to pay it off the response was "but you don't have to pay it all at once, and the interest rate is really low". The system as it stands is broken. It is up to the church to help find a new way of defining what the system could be. Books like this are a good place to start. I encourage y'all to read it.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

On Gifts and Discernment

This morning we celebrated Epiphany, the day when we read the story of the Magi visiting Bethlehem. And so I have been thinking about gifts.

It is my belief that part of the power behind the story Matthew tells is that the Magi, knowing that something special and powerful and unique has happened/is happening, know that they have to mark the event somehow. And so we have gifts shared.

This morning I did some discussion about the symbolic value of the 3 gifts in the story. ANd then I raised the key question. What gifts do we bring? When we meet God active in our world what gifts are we motivated to share?

Earlier (at children's time) I had told the story of the little drummer boy (interspersed with some drumming). And so I used him as the example. So many times we claim that we have no gift to offer. ANd yet so often the same people who claim to have nothing to offer are very busy sharing their gifts.

And so the challenge is two fold. One of the challenges is to know that we have gifts to share. ANd the shadow is to name what we do "just cause" as a gift.

ANd for me the community has a role, a big role to play on both sides. The community has a role in helping people recognize what gifts they have. That in fact is how people get involved in community/church work. Most of us get involved (paid or unpaid) because someone comes up and says "I think you would be good at this" or "would you be interested in..."

THis is something we have to start doing better. WE have to do it better in our churches and in our communities. WE have to feel freer to encourage/incite/urge the people around us to recognize the gifts they have to share (and that they are in fact gifts and not "just something I am doing"). Only when we do this will we start to grow new leaders. Only when we are intentional about growing new leaders will we be able to thrive.

What gifts do you have to share with the world????

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Photo Tag

Quaker PAstor tagged me for this one:

Picture Tag...The object of picture tag is to...
1. Choose the 4th folder on your computer where you keep/store your pictures.
2. Select the 4th picture in the folder
3. Explain the picture
4. Tag 4 people to do the same No cheating (cropping, editing, etc)

However all my personal pictures are on the desktop so this is from my "work" identity...

This one is from the pictures I took when we had a flood in the manse basement last spring.

I tag:
Black PEte

ANd anyone else who chooses to take this one on...