"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Monday, May 25, 2015

from the heart


I pray. You might think that's obvious, me being a pastor and all, but ... not necessarily. 

Sometimes I pray more than other times. Doesn't always look the same. Often, it's in writing. This evening, it was unexpectedly in someone's back yard - impromptu, you might say. 

I've been known to suggest that the most profound prayer of all is a whispered "...help...."

And the other day, I paused and knelt at the side of the bed, wanting to take time to communicate what was in my heart. I waited for the words to come, and finally spoke a single one.


Monday, May 11, 2015

the air i breathe

Well ... I'm simply gonna need to stop breathing for awhile.

Last night, a skunk must have sprayed right outside our bedroom window flooding the air within. Ugh. I ended up moving out to the couch, and still slept with a pillow over my face, waking up to cough at the stench every now and then.

Early this morning, the air outside was clear, but of course - full of spring pollen and other allergens that make me sneezy, exhausted and nauseous. I took a Claritin and opened the windows for a bit.

Then I burned some candles. Not the scented ones that I bought a few months ago - I discovered they make my throat itchy.

Ran the air conditioner, but I'm pretty sure that skunk smell is right in the system now. Or just stuck in my nose.

So a few hours later, I've opened the windows again, only to discover that the special steely-scent that is north-end Hamilton every now and again is part of today's air.


I've called a couple of companies for quotes on removing a skunk.

Meanwhile, if anyone has a lavender-scented oxygen mask I could borrow, that would be fantastic.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

little things

I've been on vacation. (Did you miss me?)

Yesterday, I dropped in to see a Board member and her family for half an hour or so. We talked about Important Things.

But it was the Little Things that made me smile.

Little Guy, upon answering the door: "Hi Patti! Are you a silver power ranger?" Proceeded to identify which colour power ranger his little sister, mom and dad each were.

A little later, his mom informed me that he still recites his Beatitude every night at bedtime.

A few months ago,
I offered prizes to any adults in the church
who memorized a Bible verse from the week before.
Little Guy overheard, and outshone most of them.

"Bwess-ed are da mur-see-ful ... forrrrrrrrrr ... dey wiw re-ceive mur-see."

He said it in front of the WHOLE CHURCH, and still remembers.

"It made Patti smile," he told his mom.

As I was getting ready to leave, Little Guy looked perturbed. "Hug and kiss, Patti!"

I complied.

Littler Sis ran up with Hoot-Hoot, the stuffed owl - "Hug and kiss!"

Then there was a suggestion that the same ritual should be carried out with Mom, and then Dad.

Adults smoothly deflected that one.

Zipped my new favourite high-heeled boots on, and headed out the door, with Dad calling behind me, "See ya, Patti! Kickin' boots, by the way!"

They know me soooooo well.

And now you know why I was a smiling pastor yesterday.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


We took four pictures in Myrtle Beach.

Haven't finished unpacking, but I'm pretty sure I left these pj pants behind. I've decided I can live with the loss.

I think this was taken the day that there was hail at home.

Nothing more soothing than the sound of the tide coming in ... going out ... and repeat.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

find your own door

From my Annoying Things file: Dove's #ChooseBeautiful campaign.

I haven't watched the video. I'm not gonna, and I'm not gonna link it either.

It's easy enough to search out, if you're interested.

The constantly repeating post in my Twitter feed irks me enough. The whole "which door would you walk through" thing is somehow supposed to demonstrate that most women don't feel beautiful, because so many of them choose to go through the door labelled "average" rather than the one labelled "beautiful". And that this is tragic, in an obviously self-evident kind of way.

First - you can't know WHY the women chose the door they did.

Unless you posed well-worded questions
in a controlled environment,
identical for each participant.

And accounted for the possibility
that the women may or may not tell you the truth,
since you kinda manipulated them into the whole situation
in the first place.

Second - you can't know that you sampled a group of women that actually represents the general population. At best, you got a representative sample of women who went to the mall that day, in that city.

Unless you went to the effort of ensuring
a statistically-correct representative sample.

And I doubt that very much.

That's right.
I learned something in that statistics class.

Third - in this effort to somehow empower women, build them up, blah, blah, blah, it's STILL based on their physical looks.

And as someone else pointed out,
the intent is to get women to #ChooseDove,
not #ChooseBeautiful.


How about a door marked "curious"?

Or ... "ambitious"?

Or ... "happily content with who I am"?

Or ... "authentic"?

Or ... here's a crazy one ... "not defined by a beauty product"??!!!

Last night my mom asked me which door I would walk through. I thought about it for a minute, and then said, "Neither. I think I'd walk away. They don't get to force me to pick one of their two definitions of me, and then analyze my self-esteem from it."


You know what door I'd walk through in a heartbeat?

The one attached to an old wardrobe, labelled "Narnia".


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

love my city

I'll admit that yesterday involved a lot of mental pacing. Some actual pacing as well. Forced myself to read a book and watch a movie, trying to avoid checking emails.

First day of vacation can be tricky. It takes a bit to go from top-speed to no-speed, and I knew I had to do a bit - *just a BIT* - of work this morning, so my brain refused to unwind.

But around noon today, as I walked out of my office, I felt my core muscles begin to physically relax, felt my mind take a step back, and my soul breathed deeply.


I can walk to this place from our in-the-city home in about five minutes.

And then I just kept walking. Couldn't believe how many of these bikes I saw, by the way. Wow, way to go Hamilton - definitely a hit!

This guy's on vacation too, I presume.

Some people really need to get completely out of the city to enjoy nature.

Me - I revel in the combined life of it all. A spring breeze ... dads fishing with their kids ... "did you step in the water, honey?" -- "yeessss" ... cranes (machines, not birds) rising into the sky, signifying new development ... tiny birds skipping across my path ... a few boats in the water already ... sounds of industry in the distance ...

I love looking at the water, with the train yard behind it, and the city behind that. A picture of life, lots of it, right there.


I love my city.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

school prayer (not what you think)

My current course included a term paper worth 55% of the final grade, so I've been buried in that and in Easter for the last week or so.

"in Easter"
that was unintended :)

Plus Annual Business Meeting just prior to that.

At any rate, I blocked out everything else for the last two days, and finished up in the wee hours of this morning.

So I'd like to take this moment to offer thanks ...

... for the online citation machine which magically gets my reference list done with far less neck tension and eye strain than I do.

"Should this tiny colon be italicized?"

"Yes, but take out that comma.
It's completely WRONG,
and it's ruining EVERYTHING.
Ugh, you have FAILED."

... that Social Sciences uses APA referencing. Not the obvious evil of Chicago-style and Turabian footnotes that were the bane of my theological studies a few decades ago.

When "online" referred to laundry,
because what student in residence had money
for the coin-operated dryer??

Oh! And imagine this - although this particular paper involved a multi-page reference list, most of which involved thirty or more pages of reading, I literally only used three actual pieces of paper and a pencil to keep myself on track. All the rest was on a screen. Reading, researching, noting, highlighting, writing, editing. Did not enter an actual library. No actual paper until the final print-out.

Because the prof likes a hard copy.
I don't blame him.
Seriously, though,
I used to go to the library
and make millions of photocopies
to mark up, note, and discard.
Plus countless rough drafts.
Pre-recycling, I might add.
I literally only entered
McMaster's library *building*
for the first time
last year.
And that was for a meeting.

Oh! And one last moment of thanks.

Dear God, thank you that the due date was unexpectedly changed a couple of weeks ago from Easter Monday to Wednesday. I'm not sure what prompted the change. But I know I'm the only pastor in my class. (That's always true.)

So while Easter may just be a long spring weekend to others, it's ... EASTER WEEKEND for a running pastor.

And if I had had to get this paper done before the resurrection, I may well have needed that empty tomb myself.