Friday, February 27

The Only Necessary Thing

Anyone out there busy? Yep, me too.
I was reminded of what Jesus had to say about busy-ness this week:

Now as they [Jesus & co.] went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." Luke 8:38-42, NRSV

Oh Jesus. Thanks for that reminder.
I think that Martha gets a bad rap. I am sure that she was trying as hard as she could to be hospitable to her guests. I bet she was wanting to make sure they had good food and drink after their travels, a comfortable place to be in. These are not bad things. But they need to be balanced, and kept in perspective. While the "many things" we have to do might be valid things, we need to remember - there is need of only one thing. Time in the presence of our Lord.

I've tried to do that this week. I'm a to-do list person. I enjoy making the list, drawing little square boxes beside each item, and the satisfaction at the end of the day of all those little check marks. For some reason, I also enjoy making the list incredibly long, which can become overwhelming. This week, as I have looked at my lists, I have tried to keep in mind what Jesus has said - there is need of only one thing. As I have made a point of doing that thing first, I am amazed at how my perspective changes - the list is no longer quite as overwhelming, and I am getting a surprising amount accomplished, even though I am "loosing" almost an hour of productivity.

On a side note - there is a collection of Henri Nouwen's writings on prayer, titled "The Only Necessary Thing." This scripture reminded me of it, and I have been enjoying re-discovering it this week. I would highly recommend it.

Friday, February 20


So, my water is turned off for awhile this morning because there is work being done on the pipes or sewers or something in my street (which I was made aware of by the nice man in the orange coat who woke me up to ask if I had a car parked on the street, or if I knew any of the places he would find owners of the cars on the street...another nice man then came back a few hours later while I was in my house coat to tell me the water would be shut off).
It's made me realize how much we take our water for granted! I don't have anything specific I need the water for, I had already showered and done a load of laundry before it was turned off, but, I still notice that I keep going to the tap. To wash an apple, rinse my sticky hands after eating the apple, wipe the counter, etc, etc. What a privilege it is to have this constant supply running through my pipes! A good reminder of how precious that wet stuff really is, and what so many others have to do to access it. If I had walked to a stream or well to draw my water, I am certain my shower would've been shorter, some of those clothes wouldn't have needed washing this time time around, and my apple wouldn't need quite as much water to wash it either. Good reminders.

Tuesday, February 17

Lent and the Looking-Glass

So, I have this hair.
It's thick, silky, reddish-blonde. Downright gorgeous, really.
The problem is, it is only this way after a LOT of work.
Another problem is, it matters too much to me.

My hair is ACTUALLY kind of wavy, not-quite-curly, frizzy and downright funny looking when left to its own devices. To avoid this, it takes about 2 hours of blow-drying and flat-ironing and hair-spraying. Which I don't really like doing (and try to do as little as possible -two, maybe three times a week). But apparently I like it more than walking around with giant frizzy-wavy locks. I have looked with envy at other women with hair that can be gorgeous without all the time and effort. Curly hair seems great - get wet, add whatever anti-frizzing but curl-holding product works for you, and voila! Asian hair dries shiny and straight (I think - I've never had it, but it looks that way). The right face shape and you can pull of the super short that doesn't need primping. I've even wished at times I could just wear a hijab...

I've been contemplating what's behind all this, as I begrudgingly stand before the mirror, brush and blower in hand. The fact is, I care what I look like. I like feeling pretty. I like being complimented. But maybe I like it too much...

I think I'm going to give up my blow-dryer for Lent. I think I've put too much stock in how I think other people see me, and how I see myself. I think I have placed too much value on externalities.

When I think about the women that I really respect, I'm pretty sure none (or very few) of them spend much time on their appearance. Some of them would be considered quite beautiful, others not so much. But, when I think about these women, it doesn't matter - to them, to me, or to most other people around them - what they look like. If I spent a couple hours a couple times a week meditating on scripture, praying, or helping those around me, would I be just as beautiful? Would I start to care less?

I'm a little nervous about this endeavour. I see the potential for me to spend just as much time in front of the mirror trying to find ways to make myself "presentable" without the tools. But the real purpose of this project is to change the definition of presentable, to "let [my] adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4) I need to remember whose judgement matters, and what true value is.

Maybe when that happens, I can plug the dryer back in.

Friday, February 13


Well, it is Friday, and I made it! I'm not a runner, so I don't know for sure, but I imagine this is what the end of a good run feels like - you've got in your groove, you're moving along, but you're looking forward to being done. I feel like this week has taught me a lot about my stamina, and now that it's Friday morning, there's no more pressing schoolwork, and I have just one shift ahead of me before the weekend, I am feeling pretty darn good.

It helps that James-the-wonderful set the breadmaker to have fresh bread ready at 6:00, and that he got up with me and is now making chili to put in the crock pot for our supper.

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, February 11

I will NOT complain..

I was really convicted last week by Phillipians 2:14-15 last week, "Do all things withut murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent..." and I realized how quick I am to complain, about a LOT of things. Most things, actually. I noticed that complaining was often how I would enter into conversations - it seems like an easy way to relate to people, most people have some sort of sympathy for whatever situation we might be in, and it's a way to invite THEM to complain back (how uplifting). So, I've been trying not to. But it's SUPER hard! I find that when I go to fill in my facebook status, my default is to complain (Rachel has a headache. Rachel is tired. Rachel is reading...again. etc,etc).
So...I was going to complain about my busy week. But, instead, I am going to celebrate a few things.
a) I have survived this week of working/school every day, and my midterm went well last night, despite having little time to study. Only one day of school left, one day of work left, then a long weekend with NO plans! Hooray!
b) There are only 6 weeks of the term left! 6 weeks (plus exams) of my undergrad left! YIPPEEE!
c) Our faculty association has come to a tentative agreement with the school administration so a strike has hopefully been averted - THAT would not have been a fun way to prolong my last semester.

Ok. Now that I've got that out of my system, time to read and write my last assignment of the week.

Tuesday, February 10

A bit of hope...

I noticed these poking through the cold hard dirt in my garden as I walked by yesterday. Gives me a bit of hope for what's to come!

Wednesday, February 4

The Other Side of the Coin

I am really good at complaining and venting.
I am not generally all that good at talking about what's good. So I'm gonna try to do that more often, and I thought that after yesterday's lament, I should tell the rest of the story.

After wallowing all yesterday afternoon, sitting in front of my school work getting little done, I decided to move on. I got up, blasted some good music, cleaned the kitchen, went out and shoveled, and came in feeling ten thousand times better. I should've done all of that first thing in the afternoon, I think it would've made a big difference. The combination of encouraging words, seeing some progress in the kitchen, and the fresh air from shoveling did me a world of good.

I have been listening to Capstone nonstop since last night...I don't think they're still together, and was trying to find a link for them, but couldn't come up with much, but if you can track down their album B-Sides, or Integreality, I would highly recommend them. Songs especially meaningful for me right now are "Dry Bones", "Hold Me Up", "You Are My Rock", and "Invention." Check 'em out.

And today. Today has been good so far. This morning I spent some time reading scripture and journalling, two things that have been really missing from my life lately. Scripture lately has really been doing it's job of showing me where I need some serious change in my life. I am being made uncomfortably aware of some of my tendencies toward pride, selfishness, and grumbling. These awarenesses, added to the fact that I am dropping balls in almost every area of my life, are really driving home the fact that "apart from me [Jesus] you [I] can do nothing" (John 15:5). But, I am holding on to the promise that "the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6). While that is encouraging, it doesn't change the fact that it is work, hard work, and it is likely going to take a loooong time.

Victory of the day so far? Mood control, and completing an assignment that's due tomorrow by the time I set out for myself - noon. Now I can move on to other things that need to be done, without that hanging over my head.

Looking forward to - walking with Naomi this afternoon.

Tuesday, February 3

Winter blaaaaah

Ugh. I am a big blob of negative non-productiveness.
I want junk food.
I want my sidewalk to shovel itself.
I want to feel in control of my life again. As in, able to fulfill my obligations. I am falling short left, right, and centre. I am behind with school reading, my house is a mess, my volunteer stuff is going nowhere, and I am resenting EVERYTHING I have committed to.
That is not true. I committed to James. I am not resenting him. He is being incredibly gracious as I sleep and cry and not contribute to anything.
I want cookies. And chicken wings. And pizza.
I want to be able to buy a plane ticket.

I want to stop wanting. Maybe I'll wish, instead?
I wish I was good at acting on the things that I know would help.
I wish I was better at spending time in prayer. I'm pretty sure it would help.
I wish I knew how people manage a full course load, part time jobs, sports teams and other extra curricular stuff, and remain sane and get good grades.
I wish I could stop comparing myself.
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