Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

There's something about sitting in the dark, in the still quiet of Christmas morning, that makes a person ponder about this special holiday. In mere moments the kids will be flying around, screaming about their Santa presents, and demolishing the remainders under the tree in no time. When I was a kid, I remember my mom saying, "Well, that's it" or "It's all over" once all of the presents had been opened. Now, as an adult, with few, if any presents to open, I see that there is so much more to this day.

We have been invited to spend the evening with friends - friends who are "orphans" in their family because they have seven kids (and an eighth on the way!) and overwhelm any family member whom they visit. Truthfully, it's probably just easier for them to stay home anyway! They asked us over, to add another four mouths to their hungry brood, and I didn't realize until we had a place to go that it would have been very lonely here by ourselves.

Christmas IS a time that should be spent with friends and family, and too often at this time of year it either becomes stressful to deal with that family and the whole day becomes an anxiety-filled day of little joy, or in our case this year, we are just avoiding the family all together. I don't know which would have been better - a day of lonliness or a day of anxiety. Thankfully, we now do not have to deal with either.

I wonder sometimes if Scott can ever be freed of his anxiety - it threatens to eat us up like an ungly red monster, until there is nothing left of us. If we were to be spending time with family today, his pacing and mood swings would start from the moment he awoke, he'd be medicating himself all day (just tylenol for anxiety-induced headaches, but way too many!), and by the time we would see the family I'd be all tense due to his day-long tension. It happens every time we have to do a family thing and it will happen on Boxing Day before his parents arrive on their way back home.

We did watch a historical account of Christianity last night that Scott seemed very interested in. He has been asking lots of questions lately and is interested in any historical show he can find (yay - a good use for TV!). I'm not pushing him in any direction, but I wonder how the Holy Spirit is working in his heart, and if one day he can be saved from all of his pain through faith in the One who can help. I wonder.

And so, as I wait for the noise to arrive, I think about the birth of that baby two thousand years ago, and how He is the only means to our salvation. I think about his friends who proclaimed the good news after his death, and died horrible deaths as a result. And I think of the promise He left us with, to save us from our sins, and give us eternal life.

The presents under the tree seem to be so insignificant now.

Monday, December 21, 2009


We had another fabulous church potluck and musical celebration last night. I didn't go too hard on the food (loaded my plate with carrots and just a few other things, including a very garlicy bruchetta that was very yummy, but stinky!) and Scott's sweet and sour ribs were a big hit. I had selected some music to play for the musical part, and it was a fairly simple version of "Do You Hear What I Hear". My practices at home had gone very well and I wasn't nervous at all...until I sat down at the piano.

I knew I was in trouble when I wasn't postive that my left pinky was on low C - the note my left hand needed to start on. My chest tightened up and I made many mistakes. Likely, only Mrs. Chapple (my piano teacher) knew of all the mistakes, but still, it wasn't a great performance. Last year (my debut) I was so proud because even though I made a big mistake, I covered it up very well and no one noticed. This year I felt like all the mistakes were magnified.

Oh well - I guess I can't have a stellar performance every time, but I wondered why I was having a small panic attack at the piano. I need to get over that pretty quickly if I want to play on a worship team. I gave myself five years, and still have two and a half to go, so maybe that's enough time to get the butterflies out.

Friday, December 11, 2009


The other day in the Edmonton Journal, there was an article about a social group who had given a formerly homeless man a camera to take pictures in our inner city. It was a great article about how this man had been sober for 17 months and had his own home for the first time in 30 or so years, and a cat! Today's paper included an editorial from this same man about how people still give him dirty looks when he walks into a store, and they assume he is homeless and a threat. He challenged us "Normies", as we non-homeless people are apparently called, to get off our couches and come down to the Boyle Street Community Centre to see what they are all about.

That really gave me pause for thought, during this Christmas season when the Food Banks and Santas Anonymous warehouses are overflowing, but they are desperately calling for volunteers to wrap presents, fill hampers, and get the job done.

We have become a society that way too often just thinks if we throw money at a problem it will clear our conscience and go away. Time is so much more valuable to people these days - giving up some of that precious time is a true sacrifice. We can truly help our neighbours by doing, instead of just giving. Let them see the light of Jesus shining through our actions.

And as for the Normies treating the homeless people like outcasts - we are all of one race, all created by the Creator in his image...often the only difference between us and them is that we were able to get more lines of credit to keep us off the street.

No one is a mere mortal.

Mama's Little Baby Loves Shortenin' Bread

I have spent a good chunk of the morning making shortbread cookies for my grandma. Once of my favorite memories of Christmas was running into grandma's house and there would be a coffee container full of shortbread in the freezer. They were even delicious when frozen! Grandma hasn't baked at Christmas for a few years now, and I thought it might bring some nice Christmas spirit back into the house. She could serve them to the ladies at coffee, or she and grandpa can nibble on them over tea and a crossword puzzle.

It's tough seeing grandparents get older, but I'm so fortunate to still have three grandparents, and two who are close by. We can't ever take them for granted, because they won't be around forever, and then all we will have left are the memories of shortbread cookies at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Procession

Last night I had the honour of speaking at the Edmonton Family Worship Centre, a church smack dab in the heart of the inner city. I had been asked to help out with one of their FPU sessions, since it was a very "Americanized" session and they needed some translation into Canadian terms. It was a wonderful night and I met a lot of nice people. This Dave Ramsey thing sure has been a blessing! They nudged me further towards going down to Brentwood for Counsellor Training, as there are few, if any Canadians who have ever gone down.

But the moment of the night that is etched in my memory was not anything to do with FPU, but of when I pulled up to the church and parked my car. It was a cold night, at least -20, and I exited my car to try to find my way into the church. As I stepped out, I saw the waves of people heading for the Mustard Seed church just a block away. It reminded me of heading to a football game and there are groups of people walking towards the stadium, but last night there was no game, and it wasn't a warm summer night, and these people were heading to a place where they could warm up, get a cup of coffee, and chat with friends in an escape from the frigid cold.

I wondered who these people were, and wondered if my cousin was among them, since last I heard he was on the streets downtown. I wondered where they were going to go after they left the church, and would there be enough room in the shelters for all of them. And I thought about my warm car and how they'd probably love to just sit in the warmth for a few minutes.

When I left the church there were still people at the Mustard Seed, but it wouldn't be open much longer, and the procession would be heading back out into the cold. I drove past and stopped at the corner where my prostitute friend had flagged me down only weeks before. She wasn't there, but I hope she was warm wherever she was. I continued down the road in my warm car towards the warm comfort of the suburbs.

No one is a mere mortal.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Heart of a Teacher

Our first Financial Peace University class ended last night, and I was overwhelmed by how appreciative the class was of the materials and my teaching. They presented me with some gifts, and I was awestruck when they provided some funds to help send me to Counsellor Training in Brentwood, Tennessee! I always thought of myself as the facilitator, sometimes the Little General, telling them to cut up their credit cards and stop spending foolishly, and I always wondered if they griped in their cars on their way home. I am amazed that they thought the course was a Godsend and that I was a good teacher.

When I was in grade 6, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher, but somewhere along the way I was convinced that I was "too smart" to be a teacher (sorry for anyone I have offended with that remark), but you know what I mean - when you're killing your math and science classes at school everyone says, "You should be an engineer, or a doctor, or a scientist." - teacher is the last thing that comes to mind. Now that I'm a little wiser, I think of how cool it would have been to be a physics or calculus teacher, which is probably why I have fantasies of home schooling my kids when they are in high school. Sadly, neither will likely be interested in calculus or physics.

In 1999 I took some "train the trainer" courses in Ontario through Ernst & Young, and come back to teach first year articling students, and in Banff no less!! But that was a disaster - my co-teacher was an overbearing loudmouth who loved to hear the sound of his own voice, and I could barely get through two sentences without him popping in for a commentary. As a result, I left that experience feeling like I didn't know what I was talking about, and that I wasn't meant to teach.

Fast forward ten years and I have become a confident professional, wife and mother, and follower of Jesus. I met Dave Ramsey through the radio and thought that teaching FPU could really change people's lives, and I decided to get out of my comfort zone and start a class. I heard later that there was a little concern from a few people as I am typically very introverted and anti-social at church, but apparently they were pleasantly surprised. Maybe I can make a go at this teaching thing after all!

My biggest surprise at the end of this whole thing was last night's closing prayer. Each week I close the class in prayer, which has always been a quick "thank you for everyone, get them home safely, etc." kind of prayer - I hate praying in front of other people. But last night, as I closed, the words exited my mouth and my brain was saying, "Who is that speaking?", and my prayers were bountiful and meaningful. What a time for the Holy Spirit to decide to finally work through me in prayer!

What is in store for me next....I can't even begin to imagine....