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

Friday, November 21, 2014

how to make an introvert smile

I was in meetings for most of this week, down the road in The Big Smoke. The meeting-makers graciously provided me with a hotel room, which meant I didn't have to travel back and forth in that white stuff that kept drifting down from the skies.

And hooray for that.

Hooray also for a room
in which everything was perfectly provided,
the pillows didn't fight back,
and sounds from without did not penetrate my walls.

There was a lot of information in those meetings. A lot of introductions to people I didn't know, and re-connections with people I hadn't seen in a couple of decades. A bit like sipping from a fire hose. 

I heard that phrase recently, and decided to make use of it.

All of it was enjoyable, but I'll confess that at the end of each day, I was grateful to be able to retreat back to the quiet peace of a truly beautiful room, with a view of the snowy city. I opened the curtains wide and curled up with a chamomile tea while catching up on other work throughout the evening, or ridiculously early in the morning.


So thankful.

Happy Outrage-Free Friday to you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


A few months ago, someone phoned to tell me I had been appointed to a kind of council / board / executive of Rather Important People, and to ask if I would be willing to accept the appointment.

So ... um ... that was startling. 

Anyway, it turns out I need to be familiar with a whole new language in order to participate: acronyms. Maaaaany of them. And I'll be honest with you - Russian is easier. At least when I'm surrounded by my Russian-speaking friends in Ukraine, I can always get away with shrugging nonchalantly and saying, "да, конечно".

So I thought I'd try a few acronyms OMO (of my own). I guess we're allowed to do that?

Here we go:

On my calendar over the next week or two: WT at CF, with S&S the next week, and SFS the week after that. Last week I was at the SCC's AGM right after a full day at WOD - I met our new CC, among other people. Tomorrow is GFB pick-up day, and also a meeting in ASL. Fortunately I'll be back for Friday's BWTP ... oh, wait, the WHS is coming, and I need to let them in. I almost double-booked them with DPM, but don't worry - all is well. Our GF was a little low this week ... sigh ... but it'll come back.

It always comes back.

At any rate, I have a CC due before tomorrow night's SOC class, so I'd better get going. TTYL!

(до завтра)

Monday, November 17, 2014

winter forrest gump

Woke up to this.

Retreating to this.

And that's all I got to say 'bout that.

Friday, November 14, 2014


I like to journal.
I've written prayers, thoughts, dreams, rants, notes ... for years.
I have a shelf of journals.

I like the feel of actual paper and pen.

And I like carefully selecting the exact right journal for the moment I'm in.

That involves standing for a loooooong time in front of shelves at a bookstore,
handling and examining all the options in turn,
as I think about where my life is at.

If the right journal isn't there, I'll wait until another day.
I've never purchased the same one twice.

This time, I had some birthday money tucked away.

Usually I sigh over at least one journal, refusing to pay the ridiculous price.
But this time - well, the moment I'm in involves some crazy big and weighty dreams.
They're kind of extravagant.

So I went all-out on a crazy big and weighty journal.

With metal clasps.

It's kind of extravagant. Perfect.

Oh ... imagine the things that will be written here ... !

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

why my week is fantastic

Earlier today, I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I was wildly joyful and dancing (not metaphorically) with thankfulness.

Here's why:

*Last night's Board meeting was full of laughter, great conversation and passion for the future. We managed to set a budget for 2015 that allowed for all kinds of new possibilities, with very little increase in costs.

Every time we have a Board meeting,
I thank God for the Board we have.
Not all Boards work together with such vision and unity.
Ours does.
It's pure joy.

*Last night, mid-Board meeting, my recently-hired Assistant Pastor got confirmation of a FANTASTIC new place to live - this was huge - she needed a place by December 1. This place is a perfect fit AND the right price. There was quite a bit of cheering about that.

I'm awfully proud of her.
She's no fragile piece of fine china.
She's strong and smart, and faces life with a sense of humour
(although the laughter was beginning to sound a bit strained
before that phone call last night).

*You may remember this post, in which I mentioned how my church was working to send help to Ukraine. We had been working towards November 9 as "the big day" when we would bless the socks ONTO Ukraine. We announced it on the first Sunday in September. Between that Sunday, and 2 PM today ... well ... a jaw-dropping $10,464 came in, from my little urban church of less than 100 people, mostly on very tight budgets; and from some of you who wanted to be part of it too. (Also 16 scarves, also for Ukraine, knitted by a woman in our Deaf congregation.)

I don't quite get how that dollar amount happened.
But ... it did.
And if you think I didn't dance wildly in my office today
before signing and mailing that cheque ...
... well, you don't know me as well as you think.

And one last reason why my week is fantastic:

*After last night's Board meeting, I asked that very same Assistant Pastor for the notes she had taken for the meeting. She looked startled. "Don't you want me to type and file them?"

First time in 14 years (give or take)
that I haven't been responsible for at least one step
of taking, typing and filing Board minutes.
That's HEAVEN, baby!!

Friday, November 07, 2014

breaking rules

Yesterday, I got outraged fairly early in the day. Not crazy mad. But annoyed.

Which is pretty dramatic for a Canadian.

It was because of this. A 90-year-old man and two pastors were charged and fined for feeding "the homeless".

Do I need to point out again that the label only works
if we call everyone else "the homed"?

Then someone followed up by sending me this. More cities which ban sharing food with the homeless. It's like a "don't feed the animals" sign and now I'm getting outraged all over again just talking about it.

Honestly, I know someone will tell me about
the various risks and liabilities and reasons
that explain why this rule is acceptable,
but sometimes I stand back
and look at the human race as a whole,
and think, "Really? REALLY??"

Do we really believe
that the way to build a healthy, happy society
is to penalize the decent human beings
who are simply helping other human beings??

So I was irked.

(Again - dramatic for a Canadian.)


Several hours later, the doorbell at the church rang. The doors are always locked, where we are. Always. At the door was a young man, politely asking for food. He didn't ask for money. He didn't have any attitude. He was simply hungry. And so very tired. I brought him my lunch, and he hesitated.

"But what will you eat?"

"I'm fine," I said.

"Let's share it," he offered. I smiled and shook my head. He caught me off guard when he took his hat off, bowed his head and offered a prayer of thanks for the food. We exchanged names and chatted a bit, outside the door.

After a few minutes he said, "My feet hurt so much. I've been walking for two days. Could I ... would you let me ... could I come in and wash my feet?"

I hesitated. There are rules, and I know them well. I tell everyone else to follow them, and I follow them myself.

(A few weeks ago,
a young lady under the influence of
- something -
got in by mistake
and was settling in to stay
by the time I got there.
It took us nearly an hour to talk her out again.)

So there are rules. Be generous, be kind, yes - and be smart. Be safe. Be tough. Don't be conned. Don't be naive.

"Are you clean? No drugs?"

He shook his head. "No. I respect this place."

"I don't want any drugs in my church."

"Neither do I," he said.

"No weapons either," I said.

"No," he answered and voluntarily emptied his pockets to show me.

I took him upstairs and showed him the washroom, quietly letting my office volunteer know what was happening, and what she should do if anything went wrong. The young man kept the door open while he washed his feet. He wasn't eager to leave, and I gently reminded him from across the hall that he could only stay for a few minutes.

"Have you ever been homeless?" No accusation, just curiosity.

"No," I said. "But I know a lot of people who have."

"I guess you would," he said. "You know what the worst is? ... People don't look at you. No one ever talks to you. It's like you're invisible. That's what terrifies my buddy...." and he drifted less coherently for a few minutes.

He came out and sat on the floor, holding up his socks, in tatters. "Do you happen to have any extra socks?"

"Sorry, no."

"Ok." He tucked them in his bag, and wrapped his feet in paper towels before putting his shoes back on, gasping a bit at the pain from the blisters.

"How do you help someone understand that the Creator is all around you? How do I convince my buddy?" he asked, looking me square in the eye.

"Well, he probably doesn't want to be preached at," I said. "What do you think?"

He thought about it. "Show him?"

"Yep," I said.

As he left, he thanked me politely. I didn't even ask him if he had a place to go.

There was no point. I knew he didn't.


There are rules. Reasons why we say things should be done a certain way. Because experience and wisdom teach you that things can go horribly wrong, so you set up rules to make sure they don't.

But ... but ... sometimes ... it's just another human being. And you decide to trust your gut. And break the rules. And give someone food.

Because you have some.
And they're hungry.

May your Friday include some rule-breaking.
And may it be outrage-free.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014