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Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 8

I didn't forget about this exercise.  I merely lacked the wherewithall to catch a few uninterrupted moments at the computer.  So I have many more than 30 specific entries to tabulate here...to transfer from handwriting to computer writing.  Thank you for your patience.

So, when I use the term 'today' you may need to realize that that was many days ago...and I am just now able to put it down here.

Today I am thankful for: Kaluvi's Chicken

Okay, now I am sure you are wondering who Kaluvi (said, "Kah-Loo-Vee") is and what's going on with her chicken.

I'm so glad you asked. 

Kaluvi is the woman I met in Zambia about 12 years ago.  She was the house-keeper/helper for Sam's family.  I don't know her well, or hardly at all.  What I do know is she is a local Zambian woman who lives in a village hut with various family nearby.  We would consider her poor perhaps because of different standards of living and wage-earning.  I consider her quite rich when…

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 7

Creation.
Now, before you balk and say, well, of course we're all thankful for creation...I'm going somewhere with this.  And of course, Creation covers everything so with such a broad category I guess I don't have to finish this project and write anymore posts about what I'm exercising gratitude for.  But so far I've included things like: bananas, my husband, rest - so I'm covering a whole lot of random stuff that comes on my radar, and right now I'm camping out on Creation.  Okay?
(Do I sound in an argumentative mood? Maybe. Sorry, I just have dialogues in my head with no-one in particular and as I write I hear what people are saying back to me, in my imagination of course...no, I'm not hearing voices.  Well, maybe a few...)
My last post was in answer to a question about where we find our worth.  And my answer was long and winding (hum: 'the long and winding road' by the Beatles...as you read that), and circuitous and landed on Creation.  The…

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 6

Natasha.

She's a friend - a classmate from my Hong Kong school days.  I haven't seen and known her since then - so it's not like we really know each other well.  But since the dawning of facebook and how that seems to connect us all in certain ways, she's come back on my radar (Hi, Natasha!!).  So, today I'm grateful for her because she asked this particular question, and I couldn't just blow it off...so I am doing an entire blog post to try to answer it.  Here goes.

Her question:

How do you measure your worth? This is a random and very general question....but I look forward to reading your answers. Do you measure your worth by your paycheck? The friends and family in your life? Academic achievements? Opinions of others?

There are certainly a number of ways this could be addressed.  Instinctively, I think, we all need or long to know or have a sense of our own worth - if only to our selves.  If I value, say, independence, I'll value my worth by the measure t…

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 5

Unanswered Questions.

Today I am thankful that many of the questions we face in life remain unanswered.  Why would I ever be grateful for such a thing?  Glad you asked.

If every struggle were met with a pat answer - a manual of 'here's the how and why and what of every question ever' - the inquisitive side of me might lose vigor.  I might fall flat, mope about, unmotivated to seek, to discover, to find.  I'd have all the answers, and I'd live blinded to the journey of discovery.
That's why.

Because unanswered questions invite trust, faith, learning, engagement, hope, surrender, joy, peace.  The unknown can be scary.  The unanswered questions can cause tension, confusion - pain, even. 

To me, the unanswered questions sit, not begging an answer (though on the surface, that's how it seems - but need I remind you, things aren't always what they seem?), but begging to be noticed, heard, pondered.  What do my questions say about me?  What do they say about w…

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 4

Rest.

I am thankful for a chance - though rare - to rest.  Sometimes it is more needed and more scarce.  Other times rest is abundant (maybe, on some planet, somewhere, perhaps...not sure). 

I am grateful to be given the opportunity to rest; that I have a choice to carve out time for it; that I have support to help me find it - somehow, somewhere.

Perhaps it is on my 'gratitude radar' lately because I've been craving it so badly.  And last week I came down with an irritating cold/allergies/sniffles/misery.  And it landed just as Sam and I were planning to head away for a weekend for nothing more exciting than rest: undefined time, no agenda, no deep, spiritual goals or anything - just rest.

I hear it is hard for some people to rest.  I know of those people.  I secretly admire them.  They are productive, energetic, happy hard-workers.  If that is you: Go You!!  Woo hoo!!  That is not me.  So here I sit, recognizing that the stillness and quiet of undefined moments and hour…

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 3

Bananas.

It seems a crime to run out of them at our house.  The perfect on-the-go snack - all-natural packaging, densely caloric. 

And when you get too many and they start to ripen, and friends are about to come over and you need to whip out a cake in no time...bananas to the rescue.

And when your kids need extra calories to pack on them for school lunches...bananas.

And when you can't think of anything to eat - grab a banana.  Or make banana bread.

I'm glad God invented the humble banana, and that people in their creativity invented banana recipes. 

Food is interesting - we share recipes and forever link it to a person.  Every time I make banana bread I think of Robyn, who gave me the recipe.  And I have some recipes that are hand-written by faithful friends - seeing Becky's handwriting on my Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe always reminds me of the days in her kitchen when she was whipping up a batch and serving them warm and gooey fresh from the oven.  Memories like these …

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 2

Today I am thankful for my husband, Sam.

As I was reflecting on this post, I thought to myself, "Yeah, that's so generic...everyone is grateful for their husband, more or less."  And well they should be, I suppose (depending).

But so what it's predictable and typical.  I'm still grateful for him.  I don't know that anyone else could've married me - seen all my weaknesses and failures and tough it out, work together, grow in acceptance and love and continue to honour the commitment of marriage.  Now, lest you think I am unreasonably self-deprecating...I am aware I have a few strengths too.  Just many of my strengths aren't super applicable to house-keeping and parenting (some surely are - but a hot-temper is a liability in the parenting department I daresay).  And I know I am a free-spirit and poetic, mystical, easy-going and not a control-freak (see - there are a few strengths).  But to marry an engineer, who doesn't typically revel in the free-s…

Exercising Gratitude: 30 Days - 1

Today I am grateful for my mother-in-law, Lois Logan.
Here is why:  She came to live with us 8 years ago, and even though she is legally blind, and has occasional other challenges, she has faithfully helped in our home, especially in kitchen cleanup and setting the table. When Andrew and Hannah were babies, she welcomed them to her bedroom when they were a nuisance in the night.  Often she would deliver them to me for night feedings and retrieve them so I could get better rest.
She is an amazing woman.  She rarely complains about anything - is probably one of the most contented people I've ever known.  She is happy despite her many limitations.  
She was born in Lucknow, India and later lived in Karachi before the formation of what is now Pakistan.  Later she moved to South Africa with her parents to complete her nurses training.  She studied at Emmaus Bible College, which was at the time in Oak Park, Illinois near Chicago.  She later married Paul Logan, of Chavuma, Zambia, and m…

How I Met Sam...Journal Entry 10th December 1999

I'm going to write the boring day-t0-day events since that's what I feel like journalling right now. I 'taught' 3 hours today - it was little kids who are pretty much too young to learn how to read or write. One can barely hold a pencil. So I do the best I can. Immediately following that I went to KBC (the Church I grew up in and went to pre-school at) for GraceJoy's Christmas show, which turned out okay. I saw a kid start to cry when he was on stage and felt horrible for him. I noticed my eyes fill with tears...and then I caught myself. I though how difficult it must be for the parent to be there in the audience and see his/her child crying and not be able to reach out and comfort him. This kid really did inspire me though, because though he was crying and upset he still was singing and doing the motions in the song. I thought, 'Wow, if he were my kid I'd be SO proud - proud that my kid could stick through a tough situation and keep going - that …

Invoice for Kids

I had a rough morning...Hannah's one and only school dress was no-where to be found.  I had stayed up late doing extra laundry in case it was in there, and couldn't find it.  I didn't want to dig around in the room where they were sleeping so it needed to wait until this morning (yes, you can point out I should have thought of this before they were in bed, but I was focussed on getting them to bed!  Of course you could point out that I could have thought of this before the bedtime routine!  But I was trying to get supper on!  And you could point out I could have thought of this before supper prep, but...okay, you win).

So this morning I look high and low.  I search everywhere.  I look under her bed three times!  I look under everything!  Couches, beds, hidden corners, dressers, cubbies, nooks - you name it, I looked.  I prayed - out loud, "Lord, please help us find Hannah's dress!"  I hear the thoughts in my head (could it be divine whispers?), "Pray an…

Building A Dam

I just want to put this out there:
Yesterday we (Sam, Caleb -16, Priscilla -14, Timo -10, Andrew -8, and Hannah -5) went to a creek and decided to build a small dam. Some carried big rocks, some small, some added handfuls of pebbles. One huge rock or a handful of small rocks did not build it or even hardly make a dent in it. But each tiny addition added to the success of building it. With many additions you could see small, incremental changes in the flow of water. For it to be really effective, we had to have a lot of tiny little stones, pebbles and sand. I reflected that this is a lot like life and progress. We could have left the stream alone and done nothing. But we decided to change it. We used muscle, effort, creativity and intelligence to bring about change - to create beauty, sound effects, and to marvel at our own power and work. Every small discovery, effort of big movement in a new direction can create a change in the course and flow of our lives. I was encouraged to see t…

The Pharisee I Fail to See

The Pharisee I fail to see
Is one who has no need;
Who says, "I'll help - but I won't let
You sacrifice for me!"

The Pharisee I fail to see
Is one who ponders deep -
Who sees the world, its shame and woe
And says, "I'm glad I'm free."

The Pharisee I fail to see
Is unable to receive.
She cannot ask for simple prayer
Lest she admits her need.

There might be some of these -
In Church or home (or quilting bees) -
I wouldn't know...I fail to see
Because the Pharisee is me.

Is This My Invitation?

I don't know what my life is all about - So I get stuck in my head Trying to figure the mysteries I live - In wandering thoughts I lose sight of today: I miss sunshine's warmth, the glistening dew, Morning's fresh glow and  The wonder of each moment.
Getting lost in my head I cannot hear The chorus of nature - the whisper of peace. Is this an invitation to lay to rest Big, un-earthly questions? To be still and sit before the busy bees, working ants And bullfrog's rhythmic tempo?
Is this my invitation to gratitude, To feel the Breath of life Inspire, and respire The sluggish spirit in me? To receive this Breath - this intimate infusion, This communing of my flesh-embodied spirit With the Heavenly, Gracious, Soul-stirring, Life-Breathing, Divine  Spirit?
The wind blows and reminds me once again That this power and force is only seen or known In feeling, movement,  Impact and effects.
I am moved, Breathed-upon, Invited to feel and be known, To receive and revive: Enter the moment unhindered Un-distrac…

Living in Shadows

Living in shadows becomes my habit
To shelter from life in murky grey
I feel the in-between -
Seeing visions of day I still prefer
The hidden space, a comfort from blinding light
Seeking to uncover, reveal, unravel
Inner workings that would widen my sight
Perhaps too far
Too broad
Beyond what I know.

Bravely I step away from hiding -
Boldly embrace the light of day -
Cast off fear and donning courage
Open my eyes and see there is more...
A work to undertake,
A journey to make -
The pathway is for the bold, daring, foolhardy.
All caution disdained I set my face like flint
Embark to see, to know, to discover
How light shall not frighten
How Truth is a person
How I can become free in the light
Known in love
Embraced in Truth.

Living in shadows has its time, its space
But its work is to shield what can't be seen
Until such time as vision grows, heals
And light invites the courageous to enter.

What the Queen taught me of baptism

Three weeks ago, Caleb and Priscilla were baptized. I was privileged to share a few thoughts beforehand. Here is what I said:


Two words sum up what I am about to tell you: Legacy and Royalty.  Each of you getting baptized today has been handed a legacy of spiritual commitment. None of you were born with faith in Christ, but you were taught it: shaped by it.  This is your spiritual legacy.  But mere exposure does not make a Christian.

The Queen of England was eligible for her role because of her royal birth.  But sometimes one who might become King or Queen decides to go after something else – they choose to step away from the calling to the throne, and pursue their own desires.  It was over a year between the time the queen became officially queen and when she was publicly crowned in a coronation ceremony.  You have been a child of God since the day you put your trust in Jesus.  But today you are making it public – you are dedicating yourself to your calling as His child.

Much like a…

3 Words in Retrospect on 2016

This is what I wrote just a week ago, on Dad's 77th birthday.

Tuesday, 3rd January, 2017

Today Dad would've been 77 years old - and he would tell me that he had attained perfection eleven times over (7 being the number of perfection)!  The grief and missing him comes in waves - tears cannot be restrained and emerge when I'm alone, driving to pick up kids or wishing I could watch him blow out candles on the traditional Crutchfield birthday cake.

Last year I decided to form my year around 3 words - to orient me, to clarify where I was at or what was/were going to be my theme(s).  I found myself with an uncanny (and unusual, for me) drive to clean - toothpick clean - and found cleaning to be both therapeutic and frustrating at the same time.  The word "CLEANING" emerged for me as a picture of much needed backlog of internal soul-work that had been left untouched. I had prayed for God to lead me to the three words I needed for the year.  And on the threshold of last…