Sunday, February 1, 2015

Today's Ramblings

I made the decision to start blogging again for a variety of reasons and now that I have, I find myself suffering from 'writer's block' (funny how that happens). Many entries have been started and deleted this week, so this morning I grabbed my coffee, my book and my computer determined to come up with a post. There were however only few pages of my book left so I picked it up first and as I read the last page I was intrigued when I came across this passage (it is not the first time I have come across this over the past few weeks):
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.                    Ephesians 3:16-19 (Voice)
Paul's prayer to the people of Ephesus, a doxology, a liturgical expression of praise and a cry for spiritual strength....a passage that keeps appearing therefore I am compelled to look at it further. Paul's point is deeper than 'God is able to do more than we expect', he is also saying that God's power is already at work in does not fit within the limitations of our expectations.

In order to gain some additional context I go back to the beginning of the Ephesians...and as I reflect on this I cannot help but wonder why our acceptance of this can be so difficult.... Are we good enough to accept this gift? If God gave us access to himself through Jesus then is he not accepting us? Are we willing to accept the spiritual blessings? Do we understand He adopted us into His family? Can we accept His gift of grace? Will we accept the 'riches of His glorious inheritance'? Do we possess the spiritual strength to embrace God's gifts? I certainly hope so....
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:3-8 (NLT)
Yes, unfortunately this is the way my brain works. I start in one place and end up in quite another....sigh... that is how it goes when you take a moment to join some of my ramblings....

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Books, Books, Books!

Here is yet another confession...I am a bibliophile. No excuses, I simply LOVE books....all and old. I read them, I collect them, I decorate with them. I am actually not sure when I came down with this condition, I do however remember the first book that solidified my love for words and the ability to escape into another world....Just Like Jennings by Anthony Buckeridge; my first exploration into a child's world of mystery and intrigue, my first hard cover novel that my grandparents bought for a birthday (or Christmas), the first book that found its way onto my shelf to be read and reread, the book that started it all still sits on my shelf with the original dust cover holding a place of honor with my many 'classics'. Funny how just writing about it makes me smile and want to read it again.

As I young child I had a difficult time reading and writing, the name now is dyslexia but all those years ago it was thought I simply did not try hard enough. I was blessed when my second grade teacher who saw the problem when I learned to write...completely backwards, right to left as though in a mirror. Miss Holtsbaum, how much I owe you for spending hours after school helping me learn to to make sense of the letters until they one day started to sing me tales of places filled with a magic that I still hold dear. I wonder if she realized the time she took would shape my life in such a grand I would love to hug her today and say thank you...pretty sure if the opportunity presented itself I would cry. She was not young then so I am not sure if she is still alive but I am sure that her love of teaching helped many more children than just myself....oops, I digress...

Over the years I have fallen in love with many books. I remember sitting in my window taking wonderful adventures without ever leaving my room. I remember the day I took my allowance to the second hand store and spent a whopping $11 dollars on a two volume set, 'The Life of Adolf Hitler' by John Toland because they would look so good on my shelf (poor mom had a fit and neither of us knew that he was a Pulitzer Prize winning historian or that myself and my boys would one day use these books when completing school socials projects). I remember hours spent in the old Abbotsford library learning the dewey decimal system (yes, I was a geek). I remember laying by the pool many a summer with a good fiction book in hand. I remember giggling at  Gulliver's Travels long before I was knew it was actually a satire on human nature. I remember falling in love with Sacajawea prior to learning of her historical importance. I remember the emotions and empathy I felt the first time I read 'Grapes of Wrath' by Steinbeck.  With each memory comes another...often events in my life being defined by what I was reading at the time....Frank Baum (Dorothy's shoes were silver in the book by the way), Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, John Jakes, Jean Auel, Dr Seuss, Steven Cosgrove, Stephen Lawhead, Ted Dekker....the list is far too exhaustive for me to name the many books or authors that have impacted me over the years.

So today, a lifetime later I still love to sit with a book and let the magic take hold. I love to read.  I love to curl up with coffee and a book. I love the smell and the feel of a new book or an old book. I love modern stories and classic tales. It was my intention to write about a favorite book today but I have realized I simply do not have a could I possibly choose??

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Confession time...

Back in the day when I was a book buyer (seems like yesterday and forever all at once), I was blessed to have many tools at my fingertips for study. It was as much a part of me as my hands or feet and I loved it. So many new books and ideas, sure some were a bit outrageous but I had the ability to discern what would be of interest and what I could discard. Even in my busiest day there was some little nugget to tuck away and peruse another time. My desk always had a stack of interesting material for me to delve into. Now I deal in fair trade and I love it (more about that another day)...the problem is someday's I feel as though I have lost a tiny part of myself. The curiosity that was always piqued has somehow been shelved.

Here is my confession....I simply do not spend enough time in God's word anymore. There is no excuse, actually there are lots of excuses but no good reason. I have an abundance of tools at my disposal; every translation of the bible you could want, dictionaries, library is quite extensive. I certainly have time....and apparently a myriad of excuses. 

So it becomes a matter of discipline, it is a fundamental need in my ability to is time to stop making excuses, clean off my desk and get back to basics. For years I told people not to get overwhelmed when studying, spend a moment in prayer, pick up your bible and allow God to teach you what he wants you to hear. So I took my own advice. I usually gravitate to the ESV however with the idea of nurture in mind, I picked up  The Voice. I have learned to love this translation, I would pick it over a paraphrase any day as it combines lyrical beauty with theological reliability...the narrative included draws me into God's place of beauty...the fusion between scholar and poet is masterful. 

Here is my proclamation...I was blessed beyond measure as I read through Ephesians this weekend. Ephesus was one of the great cities during Paul's time. It was a wealthy commercial seaport that was home to the Temple of Diana (the goddess Artemis) and immersed in the magical arts, a kind of religion that promised protection from demons and curses. From prison Paul wrote this generic letter to the church he had nurtured before his imprisonment, a reminder of sorts. These many years later it served to remind me.  It reminded me that we all have the ability to enjoy all of the spiritual blessings God has prearranged for us, it reminded me my heart must be open to receive them, it reminded me of the rich inheritance that awaits me, that God has adopted me as His own, to be careful of how I live (and remember where I once lived), to treat others well, to be prepared through the armor of God and to reminded me of the incredible love God has for me.

Monday, January 12, 2015

To Yoga or not to Yoga...

Now that the year is underway (and the flu bug has finally left) it is time for me to decide what I shall do for me....surprisingly this seems to be a much bigger dilemma than I anticipated.

I looked into cooking classes (I would really like to make my own sushi) but the classes all seem to be in Vancouver so that's not happening...I thought about a photography class (my kids tell me I take the worst pictures) but that requires a new camera which is not going to happen...a friend suggested painting (my artistic ability consists of happy faces and butterflies) but with my talent level that is simply a waste of money...

Yoga...yes I should start taking a yoga is good for me, perhaps will help my old lady hip feel better about getting up in the morning...hmm, it is...well maybe...

Yoga comes with many preconceptions...pretzel like formations, New Ageism, crazy chanting that opens the door of darkness, so many misconceptions. Is it really good for you? Some doctors say yes, some say no.  Most of my friends would be supportive while some would voice concern so before making my 'announcement' I thought I should do a bit of research. I picked up a copy of 'Holy Yoga' to help clarify some of the myths about yoga. I looked at reports from John Hopkins to learn of medical benefits.

Here are the basics of what I learned:
-Yoga predates Hinduism by at least 1000 years (therefore yoga is not a religion, simply adopted by some eastern religions)
-Yoga is a physical exercise (with the benefit of strengthening and improving strength, balance and flexibility)
-Yoga is about concentration, concentration promotes mental health (if I have to do those poses you can be guaranteed I will be concentrating)
-Yoga has some really bad music (I will be replacing the 'chanting' with a challenge to memorize a portion of the book of Ephesians and using the Lord's prayer instead)

I guess in the end I simply need to do something!! So tomorrow morning at 7:15 I will be dressed in stretchy pants attempting to sit cross-legged...I hope to leave feeling like I have accomplished something that will be beneficial to my health, both physical and mental.