The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

30 April 2012

Today is not that day


Match 36 of 38.  After today there will be only two games left, and 6 points in play. It's the Manchester Derby:  City vs. United.  Don't be fooled by the friendly looking baby blue badge; don't be distracted by the three stars, or the posh Latin phrase:  Manchester City are The Bad Guys in today's clash.

Currently ahead by 3 points, and with 19 League titles under their belt, United know how important this confrontation is.  With home advantage given to their rivals, a loss today would even the points totals, giving City the edge in goal difference.  United, backed by Sir Alex Ferguson, have put all their trophy eggs in the EPL basket. Sir Alex has said they like it best this way, with a tight race.  While I'd love to echo his sentiment, and be very Joe Cool about today, I'm very much afraid for my blood pressure and the state of my manicure. In these situations, under these conditions, United can be either very very brilliant (they are, after all, The Best Team Ever), or they can be very very not brilliant.  It all depends on the opening minutes of the match: will they be confident and aggressive, or will they be tense and scrambling?

City, meanwhile, haven't topped the table in 44 years.  Forty-four years! People make a lot about the fact that it used to be City who were the big deal in Manchester, but while that may be true, they only managed to win the title twice.  Hmmm....  In recent years, they've brought in foreign management with foreign money, bought many top class players, and have been gunning for top spot.  Is this the year that the balance of power in the north of England will shift from Red to Blue?

Today is NOT that day.


27 April 2012

Whinging and moaning, or praying and waiting

Though I moan and whinge a great deal, the truth of it is I am blessed right out of my fuzzy pink socks. 

Being the moaner and whinger that I am (when I forget about the blessedness) I am often able to work myself into a right old state of stress induced mess. It’s a skill, let me tell you, one that I’ve been perfecting over my many long years of wandering this earth. I was refining my skills recently, what with the discernment to move, the need for additional or alternate work and so on.

Thinking that surely I could put all the necessary pieces into place, I was straining my whole being to try to make something happen.  Not leaving God out of the equation entirely, I sought to discern His will for me, fully expecting to hear back something rather wretched because that is what would be good for me (much like cardio and broccoli).

Months passed.  Nothing seemed to be happening. What was going on?  What had gone wrong?  I was at my wit’s end… the very frayed ends.  I applied for jobs out of province, jobs I didn’t really want, jobs in cities I had no intention of ever living in. I contemplated taking an apartment I couldn’t afford, reworked budget numbers again and again, all in an attempt to make something fit, to take any action for the sake of taking action.

Fortunately, God loves me.  And He speaks to me.  So often in my life I have heard His voice answering a need or a question so directly and so clearly there is no doubt whatsoever it is Him and it is for me.  It comes in a line of dialogue in a movie, the words of a friend, a passage in a novel.  Many times I hear Him in Scripture.  I will feel a strong prompting to open my bible and will be lead to a verse that speaks directly to my heart about what has been on my mind.

On this particular occasion, I was consumed with thoughts about the future, worrying about what I was supposed to do, wanting to push ahead.  I wanted to escape myself for a while and thought of watching Youtube clips (an excellent way to use up lots of time, if ever you find yourself with a few hours you don’t know what to do with)  I got that niggling feeling I should sit with my bible instead (something I haven’t been so great at, lately).

There, in Habakkuk 2: 3, was an answer to “What am I supposed to do? Why is this taking so long?”

For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late

God’s word really is a balm.  Instantly, the worry, anxiety, needing to push ahead, all faded away, leaving behind only peace… and patience.  God hasn’t forgotten about me. There is a plan, and it will be revealed in its proper time. I don’t have to make something happen; it’s not up to me to put all the pieces in place.  What a relief!  Now, I’ve been around for a while, so I knew this already.  I’ve even read this passage before – it’s highlighted in bible-highlighter-pencil yellow. But I was too busy with the plotting and fretting to remember those beautiful words.

But what about treadmills and broccoli? I must have stern protestants somewhere in my family tree, because I can’t shake the certainty that what God wants for me is not something I’m going to enjoy very much.  Surely happiness can’t be good for me, therefore what God wants for me is very different from what I want for me. In this situation, I’ve had one clear desire: to find a job in this area, and a lovely little apartment nearby the Peanuts, but I’ve been pushing those thoughts aside, bracing myself to hear the dreaded news that I would be moving to Regina to work in a grey office far, far away.

I woke up one morning – the morning of The Appointment (a job interview, actually) – with the realization that I had it all wrong.  It is true that my wants do not always align with what is best, and I do at times yearn for things outside of God’s Providence. Where I’ve gone wrong in my thinking this time, though, is that I have been really praying about the situation. I have been earnestly seeking God’s will, I really want to be obedient, and say yes to what He asks of me. Does it make any kind of sense then, that He would consign me to misery?  No!

For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD, "plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me, and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek me, and find me, when you search for Me with all your heart. ~ Jer. 29:11-13

Plans of peace, a future and a hope; when I seek God, I will find Him.  There is nothing to be wary of in that! That is a promise I can embrace wholeheartedly.  And there is more:

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. ~ Psalm 37:4,5 

For the first time I understood this to mean that not only will God provide the answer to my prayer, my desires, my needs, but that the desire itself, the actual yearning comes from Him. When I am seeking God first of all, everything else falls into proper order, including my goals and ambitions, my hopes and dreams.  With this perspective, I can see that my wanting to stay close to my family is something God wants for me, too.

So, no more worrying for me. I will be patient and wait for God to show me the next step forward.  And it will be worth the wait.

Every good and perfect gift comes from God  ~ James 1:17


It being Friday and all, do you think anyone would notice if I just curled up on my desk and fell asleep for a while?  Just a minute or two...

Ok, you're right.  Probably not a good idea. But Friday time really should move more quickly than Monday to Thursday time though, don't you agree? Who do we talk to about that?

25 April 2012

Of roads and maps that don't agree

I used to pay an annual sum to a very good auto club for the peace of mind of knowing that should I need their assistance, they were just a phone call away (this was when cell phones were the size of building bricks and long before on-board satellite anything).  Living in Canada as I do, in regions where cars are plugged in over night to keep the battery from seizing, being able to call on a helpful man in a truck with booster cables, nifty tricks for opening doors the keys of which are hanging locked inside from the ignition with the engine running, or towing one out of snow drifts really was peace of mind more than worth the membership fee.  The service I appreciated the most, however, was route planning.  I could ring up the office, tell them where I was travelling from and to, any stops I wanted to make along the way, and a few days later I would receive a neatly bound package with a large overview map, fold-out detailed maps with important details like interchanges, one way streets, odd off ramps (hello Montreal), as well as helpful info about lodging, scenic sites, etc.

Times have changed.  I now live in Sohoe, a lovely southerly region where stories of frozen batteries are the stuff of urban legend; new cars are hooked right up to your cell phone, and through the wonders of sat nav, a helpful lady in India can send assistance your way before you even know you need it.

Through these wondrous technological advances, a person (such as me) can now plot their road trip from the warmth and comfort of her own home, equipping herself with step-by-step directions, and, if she likes, accompanying maps. This is a wonderful gadget, both useful and fun. For example, when I dream of getting away, I discover that North Carolina is practically immediately south of Sohoe... if I were to drive directly south for 12.5 hours. Vancouver, another fun place to visit, is only 1 day, 21 hours due west - or 4,400 km.

More practically, I plotted my path home yesterday from The Appointment back to this Slice of Heaven on Earth. Everything seemed to be going so well, mostly because the first seven or so directions were "continue on..." as the name changed from Smith Road to Jones Road.  Then came a few "turn left on Brown Rd/Hwy 101" directives, and though I haven't completely worked out how to interpret the bit that says "drive for 20 min." (does this mean before or after I turn?) I was feeling confident I'd be back with the Peanuts before nightfall.

And then.

And then I missed a vital step - most likely because I thought "drive for 20 min." referred to after making the turn.  I was driving and driving, keeping an eye out for the left turn onto Next Road which would take me to a town I'm very familiar with, and then onto a county highway I've driven many times before.  Instead of Next, and instead of Familiarville, I came to a T junction at County Highway What-the-heck on the outskirts of Huh?  I had to make a decision: turn left into an unexpected town not mentioned in my directions, or turn right into undiscovered territory on the way to who knows where. I went left.  I imagined worst case scenarios of the rain falling harder, the sun going down, not being able to see the road, never figuring out where I was and having to phone BIL to tell him I'm lost in the desolate countryside, please remember to give my St. Michael medal to Number Two Nephew.

I finally figured out I should be going the other way, so I turned around, and determined to turn left on one of three side roads that should lead directly to the highway I misplaced earlier in the proceedings.  Only the option I chose took me waaaay out into the country, before circling back around - a 20 minute scenic detour  bringing me a bare five km further along the route. I enjoyed that.

Rest easy though, dear reader, for I did arrive safely back home, slightly ruffled and ever so grateful to have five pairs of Peanut arms wrapped around me. How I missed them!

I took the long way home.  What a metaphor.

23 April 2012

Blow-dried irony

I never thought I'd be saying this on April 23:  it is snowing.

Well, it's more like rain with presence, but it's rather more present than we would like it to be at this time of year. Is this meteorological irony? Environmental sympathy?

All I know is I blow-dried this morning - used product and everything.

If you don't understand why I'm writing about this, you must have a Why chromosome.

This is a good day, weather notwithstanding.  I'm off on a mini road trip after work (good thing the car is still wearing snow tires) and will be spending time with some long lost friends.  Tomorrow there is a very important appointment, which I'm hoping will point me in the right direction... voluminous hair and all.

21 April 2012

Of conditions and states

In order to type this, I have my elbows pulled in tight to my sides, and I'm being ever so careful to not nudge the stacks on either side just enough to send them toppling, upsetting weeks of careful stacking. Behind me lies an unmade bed ('awaiting-sheets unmade', not simply "I haven't yet pulled the covers up" unmade) There is a bag of recent drug store purchases (colour-in-a-box I maybe shouldn't have bought on impulse mere days before a big job interview) I haven't yet sorted through and stored in appropriate places; an assortment of things I brought home from work, such as a travel mug with dregs of old coffee I really should deal with; a bag of shopping bags I keep forgetting to bring out to the car, a collection of recently worn shoes that somehow never walked themselves back to where they belong; and before I finally tackled the mountain of laundry, there was .... no, I can't bring myself to describe that disaster to you.  What has become of me?

I had excellent intentions weeks ago to tackle very specific writing projects every week, and so gathered various tools of the trade on and around my desk to facilitate the follow-through. Not only did the writing not happen, but excavation is now required to find those tools as other detritus has accumulated on top.

I have conditions in order to be able to work: a tidy and organized space, a tidy,organized mind. The state of my room is a direct reflection of the state of my mind, and it's not a pretty picture at the moment.  I'm awaiting the return of sanity any moment now.

Still waiting.

13 April 2012

Of tantrums and tea

I am attempting to tame the savage beast with a steeped tea (large, 2m 1s) from Canada's favourite hockey playing coffee drinker.  It's either that or hit the mental rewind button one more time to watch my slow decline into a solitary temper tantrum. A grown woman having a tantrum is a pitiful thing, but nowhere near as sad as having a complete and total emotional meltdown when there is no one around to see it happen.  How indulgent.

Do you ever hit the rewind button in your mind so you can watch yourself again?  My moment this morning was prompted by being asked to do something at work.I reacted like Patricia searching for her tic tacs while stuck in the elevator in You've got mail. I actually heard myself make that "huagh"  (or huuunh - real annoyed-like and dragged out) which means "Everyone but me is totally unreasonable; life is so unfair; nobody knows my woes."   I keep playing the scene over and over in my mind.  I'm fascinated and can't help but slow down to see every detail, like my fit is an accident on the side of the highway.

Understand: it isn't being asked to do something I mind.  I like being helpful and useful - don't we all?  It's being asked to do something I don't happen to think important, or relevant, or necessary.  I thought it was dumb.  I even said so in the midst of The Episode.  A grown woman using a word like dumb as justification for her conniption is sad.

For the last four hours, I've been puzzling over what prompted my bad attitude.  Clearly I need to grow in virtue. I need more patience.  I need to see interruptions as opportunities rather than impositions.  But I think at the heart of the matter is my foolish, thick-headed pride.

I know I'm not a bad person, and we're all doing the best we can; that we're meant to keep on growing in this life, and that Jesus came to save the broken not the perfect.  But I also know that my pride is a fierce and stubborn creature. I came face to face with my unredeemed self this morning, and I am humbled by the depth of my need for the Cross and Resurrection.

Even now, I'm baffled by my reaction this morning.  Yes, I'm tired and a little stressed - there are any number of reasons for why I was less than stellar but frankly, they are merely excuses. I keep thinking of that story about Therese the Little Flower, in which she was being splashed by dirty dishwater, and she rejoiced in it. That is so not me, and with my cheeks still warm with the memory of my petulance, I have a hard time imagining I will ever be close to having her level of calm acceptance.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I hadn't prepared well for Easter, but one thing I did manage to do was hie my hiney to confession. Father's counsel to me was to lean on God's help, to turn to Him for everything. I long to be so perfectly conformed to His will that I don't need to remind myself hours after the fact to 'offer it up'.  I want to be so closely united to God that His strength is my strength all the time - not just in the moments I remember to tap into it.

Dear Lord, 



And so I took myself off to the hockey player's coffee shop at lunch time, to drown my sorrows - or, more accurately, my chagrin - in a bucket of tea. On my way back into the building, I passed under several towering cedar trees, warmed by the sun.  One of my favourite things in the whole world is the scent of sun-baked cedars.  That moment was like my own personal rainbow, God's message to me that while I did wrong, He loves me still, and will not forsake me. It was a reassuring and comforting pat on the head from my Father, and I can now leave the shame of this morning behind me, and try again.

Christ is Risen!

11 April 2012

Words to the wise from the not-so-wise

If you plan on getting to work early in the morning, do not loll in bed for 45 extra minutes.  That would be 5 hits of the snooze button.

When you've already been barely-on-time to work once this week, do not stay awake until two in the morning with a just-can't-put-it-down book.

If you start reading a book and recognize signs that this is going to be one of those you just can not put down, put it down. Immediately. Do not attempt to read a can't-put-it-down book during the work week when the most you can do is nibble it discretely in between duties of the moment. Unless you have discipline of steel, in which case you do not know the gravitational inevitability of just one more paragraph... one more page.

Let these hints help you to a frazzle-free week. I will attempt to heed them myself.

04 April 2012

Mid-week randoms

We're in the middle of Holy Week.  Already.  (Please excuse the upcoming digression into cliche) How did that happen?  Where has the time gone?
What with three family birthdays, several major feast days, the Great Northern Road Trip, and preoccupation with a few personal issues, this Lent has been less than focused and certainly less than intense. I managed to get to Confession last weekend but that's about all the spiritual preparation I've done so far for Easter.  I hope I'll be able to enter into the Triduum whole-heartedly - at the moment this weekend is looking like a big ol' mountain to climb, and I haven't been training.

I came across this question yesterday: what movie errors drive you around the bend? My dad was bothered by military goofs. Uniforms or salutes gone wrong, insignia errors, improper handling of firearms would be brought to our attention after the closing credits. For me it is clothes. Have you noticed how rare it is for a character in a movie or tv series to ever wear the same thing twice?  I'm not concerned about stories told over the course of a day, but take Carrie Bradshaw, for instance, or our coffee-shop Friends. There is no way Carrie fit all those clothes, shoes, accessories, and coats into that closet. Luggage is another problem: people carrying bags as if they were packed with air, or a character travelling to England in winter with one or two suitcases.  Throughout the movie, she wears seven different winter coats and the footwear was ever-changing. Either she's the best packer ever, or she couriered herself new clothes for every day.

Driving instructors need to spend time when teaching women to drive on how to take right-hand turns.  There must be something in the female genetic code that necessitates a complete stopping of the vehicle before turning off into the side street or parking lot.  I always always always try to be helpful by reminding them - loudly - that the car will not break if they keep moving forward. And I say this as a female driver.  Also, we need not swerve far right in order to turn left.  Just a tip.

I haven't written about my beloved boys in red* recently.  I am happy to report that they are fine, they are five points up on their arch enemies**, and with only seven matches left in the season, things are looking very hopeful for a win. One of the great things about footie, is once the last game is played, the season is done. No messing about with playoffs and 3 month post-season la-de-da.  Of course this summer we have the UEFA conference championship two months of international competition in which Germany is sure to show everyone how the game is played.  Woohoo!

An ongoing source of humour is any mention of Toronto (or any Canadian city) in American media. It is always given as "Toronto, Canada" This is funny because, surely by now enough Americans are familiar with Toronto that it doesn't need any more clarification than, say, Des Moines, and, because Toronto Canada sounds - to a Canadian - like Des Moines USA would sound to an American. Among ourselves we say "Toronto, Ontario" and "Des Moines, Iowa"  It's true our10 provinces and 3 territories are confusing ... but I did once manage to put all 50 (+1) states in alphabetical order.

I posted pictures some weeks ago of my writing space. People commented on how tidy it looked, and I replied I need order and tidiness to be able to work.  Guess why I haven't posted anything in a while?

*Manchester United
**Manchester City