Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 in Review

It's that time of the year.

The time of the year when I pull out a truly selfish blog to think, ponder and process.

Before I started this "reflection" blog, I looked at last year's to see what my expectations were for this year.

It's interesting, because my expectations were purely status quo: continue to do well in school, run a good summer of day camp and go on a couple of road trips. And, being true to the last two decades, I would not fall in love.

How did I do?

School - I did well. Not really much else to say. I'm proud of my accomplishments and glad that I worked hard enough, so that was good. I've also learned a lot and have really been enjoying my studies.

Day Camp - Again, went well. God seemed to even teach me the same lessons over and over again... He takes care of things. I just need to trust Him. He always provides.

Road Trips - There were some good ones this year. In February, my sister and a couple friends of ours went down the Phoenix, AZ and had some great adventures as well as some relaxing days spent beside the pool. Then at the end of April, I flew down to Vancouver to see a friend of mine as well as my favourite band (Switchfoot) in concert. July and Canada Day brought a trip to Victoria. Then over the August long weekend, my sisters and I went on a whirlwind trip to visit family in Winnipeg. We were gone for a total of four days and during that time made it within about 20 minutes of the Ontario border!

Love - surprise, surprise... didn't happen.

Other highlights of 2006 included working at a variety of part-time jobs, including marking accounting assignments and working as a sales associate at a clothing store. Many existing friendships developed further and I got to know some new people.

So what does 2007 hold? Wouldn't I like to know... I've got four months of school before I hit the big question mark. What are my expectations for 2007?

Well... there are two that I know of for sure. First, I want to have a strong finish to my last semester of school. My goal is to have a degree that says "Dean's List." (I think they write that on your diploma, don't they?)

Second, I want to go on some more adventures. Talks are in place for another Reading Week roadtrip, and there are a few more foreign destinations in the back of my mind.

Beyond that, considering that I am going to be more fervently developing my career beginning in May, I want to learn more about myself and my strengths and my passions when it comes to working. So, it may seem like a cop-out, since we should always be learning, growing and discovering who we are, but I want to make that an intentional part of my life this year.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Great Quote

"For those who are hungry, give them bread.
For those who have bread, give them hunger for justice."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

O Death, Where is Thy Sting?

Ever since I heard a sermon last Sunday on the Christmas story, I'd been wondering if the two-thousand-year-old story would ever catch me as new and fresh again. It sounds horrible to say, but I feel like after 25 Christmases, I've been through the story from the point of view of every character (even the lamb, thank you Max Lucado) and analyzed it from every angle. And that's not to say that I've lost the wonder, but the freshness seemed gone.

And then tonight, I went and saw Handel's Messiah. And, if you want to talk about new and fresh, that would not be it for me as I've been to see it every year for the last couple and analyzed it once for a music history class.

But this year, they did the entire thing - all 53 pieces. And it was in a tiny little recitative buried between the infamously grand Air "the trumpet shall sound" and the not quite so famous duet "O death, where is thy sting?" that I saw the Christmas story from the point of view of a character I had not recently pondered: me.

Just two lines in the program, the recitative read: "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallow'd up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:54) And I don't know why it was that one line that caught my attention more than "the trumpet shall sound," but that's when it hit me.

Christmas is not it's own story. Christmas actually comes in the middle of the story. The story started many, many years ago in a garden, when humans first chose to disobey God, bringing death as an inevitable part of humanity. That death has permeated everything; sin runs rampant in our world. For us to imagine a life without death or sin is, dare I say, impossible. But God knows what it was like, He remembers His original vision for humanity: close friends and companions. So, rather than giving up on us and starting out with a new world, He decided to enter our world and literally take the problem of sin into His own hands.

And that's Christmas: God loving us enough to penetrate humanity. And what a welcome we gave Him. Michael W Smith's "Welcome to Our World" puts it so clearly: "hope that you don't mind our manger; how I wish we would have known."

God, who created the universe with a word, becomes a tiny little baby. He takes on our flesh; we can never say to Him, "you don't understand what it means to be human."

"And, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death; even death on a cross." (Philippians 2)

But then He conquered death. He made it possible for us to also escape Death and experience Him as He originally intended.

We're still in the middle of the story. There will come a day when Death will truly lose it's sting and we will experience life in all it's sinless abundance. I can't imagine what it will be like to have Death swallow'd up in victory, but one day it's going to happen.

And that is the wonder of the Christmas story. It isn't just a tale of some supernatural experiences that happened in a far-away land 2000 years ago. It is the reality of what God has done for us and the anticipation of what Life will be like when we can fully experience the repercussions of His selfless act.

Oi. Seems like a bunch of ramblings and I'm too tired to edit. But I hope you can find a nugget of truth in there that you can relate to.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Today, as I was walking back to the parking lot after class, it was snowing. On its own, this is far from a remarkable event, but it got me to thinking about what I call the "wonder of spontaneous beauty."

Bill Hybels suggests that there are several pathways to God, and before you cry heresy on me, I will explain that what he means by this is that we each have a different way of connecting with God. Some feel closest to God in service, others in worship, others in meditation and solitude, others in activism... My "pathway" is nature.

There are moments in my life when God just surprises me with beauty in nature. On a road trip several years ago, as we were driving down the Oregon Coast, we turned the corner, and there was the ocean, set against an incredibly gorgeous sunset. It was a serene beautiful moment... and I was filled with the wonder of spontaneous beauty.

Snow does that for me, too. On mild winter nights, when the big, fat snowflakes are falling, I feel the same joy inside. In summer, it's fields of tiger lilies.

These moments are ones that can't be orchestrated or re-created. We can put ourselves in positions to experience them, but only God brings out the Northern Lights or the perfect flowers or the cloud-enhanced sunset or the big fat snowflakes that add that extra layer of wonder.

And then it hit me that when that happens, it's God saying "I love you." It's His way of romancing me and reminding me that I am extra special to Him. It's the human equivalent of a dozen roses or love letters... but infinitely more precious and divine.