Interrupting This Study Session to Bring you… Aurora Borealis

I am studying for an exam on Sunday. The course is called The Meaning of Technology, and this study session has me trying to dig deeply into topics like cyberspace and nanotechnology and what it means to be a cyborg–fascinating yet somewhat frightening topics.

As I study, TweetDeck brings me a steady stream of tweets about Canadian news, Canadian politics, American politics, what Ellen DeGeneres is up to, Kanye West‘s latest whacky thought, and the once-in-a-lifetime award my school (University of Western Ontario) has just received: we are fourth on Playboy’s list of top ten party schools in North America. Wa-freakin’-hoo.

My eyes stray back and forth from my notes to the TweetDeck notifications, hoping for something juicy, funny, thought-provoking, some worthy distraction (who are we kidding–they’re ALL worthy distractions when you’re studying!). Then, one Huffington Post tweet catches my eye, and my interest.

It’s a “Green” blog article, one of the few HuffPost pages I don’t follow… yet. The blog post isn’t so much a blog post as a collection of videos of the amazing natural phenomenon Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights.

The video wouldn’t show on Firefox, and, so fascinated was I about the prospect of seeing a video of the famed but elusive Northern Lights, that I even lowered myself to opening Safari, which, of course, complied with my command to “Play!” the video.

Sometimes, nature is worth checking out of “reality” for. Sometimes, sacrificing some time from all of our responsibilities and duties and busyness to marvel at how these phenomena come to be is worth it.

Presenting: Aurora Borealis (turn up the volume)

(and you’ll need a browser other than Firefox, it seems. sorry. :s)

To see the rest of the Huffington Post’s choices:


The A&W sign was referring to the Mama Burger, of course, but I thought it appropriate that I would see this message in lights today, January 13th, the day when I remember just how much I still (and always will) love my Mama.

Three years ago this morning, my amazing mother left this world for a better one. At least, that’s what I believe. Mom would never have expected me to stand outside in the middle of winter to take a moment of silence in her memory, but it has become a little ritual I treasure.

It was a not-so-snowy day in January, 2008, that my siblings and I trekked out to the end of the rock breakwater at the Cove in Goderich to have a private memorial together before the funeral. We each held a flower, which we took turns tossing into the open lake. It was beautiful and nostalgic. We read some meaningful prayers and poems, and took lots of pictures. For me, it was the beginning of an annual tradition.

One year later, on the coldest day of the year, my siblings and I gathered for dinner, then trekked out to the Maitland Bridge, under which flowed the only open water we could find. What a difference a year makes! Once again, we spoke a little, then dropped cut flowers into the river, where they would be carried into the lake.

Last year, only a few of us managed to get together. This time, we wrote little notes to Mom, put them inside plastic containers, and attempted to break the ice to get them into the lake, but wound up mostly just shattering our containers and scattering our notes. Still, we remembered our mama, who left us too young. There were flowers then, too.

Today, I’m the only sibling “in” Goderich, and I didn’t make any plans ahead of time that I could invite my siblings to, so it was only my boyfriend Johnathan and I. We walked out on the pier, my hand holding tightly to 6 stems of yellow mums, and Johnathan’s hand holding tight to mine.

We broke the think layer of ice with a nearby rock, and then stood back to ponder. And cry. And sob. Then I dropped the 6 stems one by one, imagining that they represented each of my mother’s children, and Johnathan held me and we cried some more.

It’s amazing to have a partner that loves you so much he will stand with you on a freezing winter day out in the cold and hold you as you sob, and even cry with you, for a person he never met.

I don’t think my mother ever had that kind of love on earth, and I ache to think that she didn’t get to meet Johnathan or see how well I am loved.

Still, I learned today that she was satisfied with her life when she came to the end of it, at peace with how she was leaving her family and her friends.

I also learned today that she accepted the otherworldly task of embracing and taking care of a friend’s baby who had died at birth, once they were in “the great beyond” together. I know she has plenty of babies to embrace in Heaven, and now also her father and brother Dean.

I wish she could hug me, though…

Limbo: A Return to Transparency

I’ve been on a journey. We’re all on a journey, I guess, but my journey took me into territory I couldn’t have foreseen. It could also be said that it took me out of territory that I DID foresee myself living in forever. If you had asked me when I was 25 what I would be doing in 4 years, I would not have said, “Going to university in Canada after living there for 4 years”! I would not have guessed I’d become a server (and a good one, I daresay), join a local band (or two), fall in love with a local guy, have my own apartment in a tiny hamlet without even a general store or gas station… the story goes on. Key to this blog is the fact that I definitely wouldn’t have predicted leaving my church, growing disgusted with the institution that is the Church, and setting my whole “Christian” life on a little-used shelf in the back of a dingy basement.

Looking back, I can sort of trace my progress out of the “Christian” culture, step by tiny step, all the way to where I am today (which is a sort of limbo, I think). Did I turn the wrong way at those decision-markers? I couldn’t tell you for sure. All I’ve got is where I am today, and a hope that all will be well.

Back to this idea of limbo: I’m definitely not in a faith world right now, nor do I have any desire to be. “Christian” culture and lingo and attitudes continue to creep me out. Worship songs do not stir me; I don’t want to sing along even if I know the words by heart. Churches that I know are working hard at casting out hypocrisy and shallowness still don’t appeal to me.

Privately, there are times I cast up a prayer; I know God is listening. Every now and then I yearn to be discovering ancient and earth-shaking truths about the divine. Once in a while I think, “God is the only being that knows EVERY. SINGLE. BIT. about me”, a fact which is sometimes comforting, sometimes intimidating (but I wouldn’t want to believe in a God that a; didn’t know me, b; was never comforting, c; was never intimidating). I occasionally miss a certain depth that I was once working on, “down in my heart”, but then I think about how I’m working on balance and knowledge, and, therefore, depth in other areas that were too shallow before this exodus of mine. At university, I find myself interested in the history of the church and the changing trends that led to the traditions accumulated and passed down through the generations.

It’s limbo because I feel as if I’m going somewhere; I’m on a winding path that is nowhere close to being finished. Along the way I’m discovering more about who I really am, what the world is like, where my moral boundaries are, and what I can actually believe in and why. If/when I return to faith, it will be because my path has led me there, because the time is right and things have lined up; it won’t be because of a feeling of guilt over not going to church or praying or speaking churchese or reading my Bible.

So. Limbo… sometimes an uncomfortable place to be, but for me it means that the place I am going is not the place I’ve come from. It also means there IS a forward motion in effect. I’m liking limbo, and I’ll like it until I don’t, and then I’ll move on.

A Transparent Truth

The more observant of my readers may have noticed that all of my recent posts (notice I didn’t use the words frequent or regular), recent being over the last year or so, have been either about grief, ranting, or something superficial. The reason? Fear, mostly. Fear of what others may think of me, of how […]

A Transparent Truth

The more observant of my readers may have noticed that all of my recent posts (notice I didn’t use the words frequent or regular), recent being over the last year or so, have been either about grief, ranting, or something superficial.

The reason? Fear, mostly. Fear of what others may think of me, of how those who have known me as The Good Little Missionary Girl might regard me if I delve back into the topic of faith, or get as truly

A Long and Meaningful Conversation Gone Public

(I’m on the right, in purple, and my friend is the one not on the right or in purple)

14/11/07, 11:45 PM

u still chillaxin?

yes, i still am chillaxin’

i thought you’d be asleep by now
are you back from work?

we closed a bit earlier than 10 so i was home by 10:30

so, what do u do when you have a little bit of extra time?
how do u spend it?

right now? online
i also read and watch the west wing, private practice, house, grey’s anatomy, and the office… all downloaded shows i watch on my laptop

no, i mean, when u have “you” time, what do u usually do?

that’s what i do


if i’m out, i get coffee and read
11:50 PM

yea, u r a reader

and i write every now and then, too
can’t live without books

i like ur blogs

looks like i’m about to get a whole new design and i’m STOKED!!!

i thought i’d have a great time at youth tonite
i got up early this morning
had a great meeting

and not so much?

had an inspired moment
wrote down what i thought would be a great message
was very excited about it

yeah my blog site is really generic… i’m gonna pay to have it overhauled by a pro with an original design, etc.

came together pretty good
wrote it all down
prayed about it
got ready
and by the end it felt like junk
it just didn’t feel right
it felt like it sucked

so did you switch it up?

i hate that
i was very confident all the way until i actually begin to deliver it
and because i thought it was very good
i tried to deliver it all
but as i was sharing it it didn’t make sense

11:55 PM

i mean, crap!

shit!!!! u r funny
i love your “realness”

i love that i discovered the edginess of swearing at the right moments
12:05 AM

u r funny

u r right

r u chatting with a thousand other people?

just one
right now
and looking into buying a book
and emailing the blog designer

which one?

which book?
No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog

u r a nerd!!!!!!!!

pretty much
but this blog thing is important to me
and i want it to be a truth destination

yeah, i can see that

not just a journal about what i’m having for lunch!

i admire it

i wanna inspire people to be more honest
which is a challenge for me ’cause it means i have to be really honest with myself

well, to be honest
u do inspire me

well right on!

12:10 AM

i am inspired to be honest with myself too
and working on being more honest with people
and to be honest, i am not doing the best lately
being in the US right now has taken the life out of me
i do not feel alive
like my regular self
it sucks!!!

for me, i think it’s living outside of YWAM

i love God so much
but i feel like an alien here

i feel like an alien outside of YWAM.

i don’t know
life is just different

could it be part of that yearning for heaven thing?
feeling lonely ’cause we need more of God?

i think so
being heaven bound

or maybe part of the church culture that exhausts you?

that too

i really just can’t stand it all
i mean, church, en si*, is good!!

it just always feels like you are the odd one around

but it’s just how we’ve come to do it that eats the life out of people!


just read a really interesting and truth-full book called So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore by jake Colsen


it’s the fictional story of Jake and how he meets a man named John who seems to have known Jesus in person, that’s how much he has the truth of God deep inside of him
12:15 AM


each chapter is about a different conversation Jake has with John and how John helps Jake find God’s truth for himself, which happened outside of a church building
but it’s very clear that it’s not anti-church or anything

that sounds like an interesting book to read
yeah, i know

just talks about how we’ve made church into a self-serving institution
that teaches people how to fail, pretty much

it’s so hard to look at church and see what is wrong with it without being negative

free-thinking is frowned upon
programs are emphasized, etc.


anyway, it was very enlightening and an easy read… pick it up if you can!

i have had a hard time trying to figure out what is worth saying and what is not at youth group

hmm yeah i have the same struggle with youth people themselves


i have a study group that’s me, a 25-year-old guy who was raised catholic and has been reading the bible and discovering faith for a year
then a handful of 16-18 year-olds
some of whom grew up entrenched in the pentecostal church


and another who only recently “got saved”

“got saved”?

and knows virtually nothing about “christianity”


well she uses that term now because that’s how all the pentecostals called it
but i personally don’t love it


and i’m afraid she’s already getting a stilted view of what faith is, just like her christian youth group friends have grown up with


it’s a very crazy mix… me growing up one way and then almost flipping over to have a faith that looks SO different!
i feel like a doctor in theology with them

i know

anyway, i talk to them about faith and church, and i really have to try hard not to diss the church that most of them attend
because that’s their reality!

i struggle with the same things

but i try to talk about other perspectives and point out ways that could be better to do things, and how i have my own personal opinions, and some things work better for other people

12:20 AM

like we do not think we are better

but i DO think their (recently it was mine, too) church is sick and i’m actually scared of what they might learn there

just more aware, maybe, of the futility of this life and are longing for that “more” in Jesus

well, and the freedom that comes when faith doesn’t have to take the rigid shape of sundays and wednesdays, tithes and small groups!

that is where i am, at least

where people desire to gather and they do, spontaneously, and God-conversation happens over meals because poeple are hungry for him, not because you’re striving, planning to have people to gather because that’s what christians DO!

but u feel so odd because everyone else thinks u r a heretic, a crazy son of a gun

sorry – i’m passionate about this, as you can tell

of course

and i have to work on the balance of not hating on the entire church as a whole!!

well, i need to hear it and share it too

recently i heard that the vast majority of north american churches are gaining people only because people are switching churches from “dead” ones
few new converts come in and few churches are being planted
wow, huh!?

i had heard that
most of the growth is people switching chrches
there is really no outreach mentality
it’s all programs
and tradition

grrr it makes me just… i don’t know… it makes me feel gross!!!

and religious institutional shit

haha there you go!!!


12:25 AM


um. I’M not offended!

i know
i am just laughing hard right now


it’s cool to have a friend like you

one of the things that turned me off most about my church is what i call the Superficial Bullshit that hits you in the face as soon as you walk in the door

i am so glad we can talk about this


superficial “hey, how are you?!” ‘s when people don’t know ANYTHING about you besides who your mother is and where you work


like feeling the need to say “God bless you” to every person you see… because that’s the loving thing to do
what does that even mean?

i feel so bad because there are people in church who really need God

i mean, i know God can and does bless people, and isn’t it sweet to wish that for someone, but is it actually heartfelt??

and yet, we are so burnt out doing the “other things”

i found such a lack of deep relationship, hardly any pursuit of friendship outside the doors of the church, a group of people who don’t KNOW each other, they just know about each other

that we do not have the energy to give any more because we are spent by everything else

yeah, so burnt out trying to keep people in our churches!


imagine if we weren’t so close-fisted about our buildings and our schedules and our rituals

i think this is the longest chat conversation i’ve ever had

haha you don’t hang with me often enough!

i guess

12:30 AM

continuing on…. imagine if we didn’t try to make sure our financial butt was covered, if the majority of a church’s finances weren’t focused inward


imagine if our kids could ask “why” questions about God and faith

love it
i think for me the most riddling thing is why leadership is so concerned about image
and what things might look like
and the lack of communication and trust
and the lack of confidence and team work

yeah. HATE the image bit!!

right now at our church no one seems to be enjoying working together
brandon** left already

wow! didn’t know that.

nancy**, (one of the staff members with the longest tenure) and one of the most faithful is thinking of leaving too

and why are they leaving?

the new pastor is just basically calling the shots and not communicating real well with anyone


and anytime one of us shares an idea or even points out a few things about his ideas, he basically shuts them down

oh my
classic for practically sending people running from your church!
i see why you don’t work at your office!

12:35 AM

like, my wife and i have gone a few times into his office to share with him how we feel and stuff, without complaining (or trying not to) and just wanting some communication or feedback, but none was given


i feel bad
cause i feel like i do not really like him
and i am praying that i learn to love him anyways

but you work for him


and you’re supposed to like him, he’s your pastor

God is good
and he is really, really faithful
we are here, and we won’t give up until our work is finished
but man, it just seems to get harder every week

sort of heavy, huh?

but, oh well
life wasn’t meant to be a joyride
specially in the ministry

no, but we were meant to have freedom in Christ

we know that

i mean…


you do have a purpose there, i’m sure

of course

and we all have to sacrifice

even though at times is hard to see
or remember

but you can still live in freedom
from the things that bind many “christians”

yeah, like drinking a beer tonite


and hopefully others will be inspired

hey i’m thinking of putting some of this conversation on my blog site, edited, of course… would you mind?

i’d be honored


hey girl, and friend, i gotta go
sleepy time

okay. buenas noches


Edited for spelling, clarity, and anonymity.

* “en si” – in and of itself
** Not their real names

Gotta Sing, Gonna Sing, Gotta Sing Sing Sing!

It seems almost every time I observe a band perform in front of a crowd, I tear up. No, it doesn’t sadden me that people sing and play in public , rather I get emotional because I catch a glimpse of a dream that has been growing in my heart for some time now.

Something deep down in the core of me yearns to sing, to sing loud, to sing well and be heard, to sing for the enjoyment of people everywhere.

Rock star?! Not necessarily, though it could be fun. I’ll sing country, gospel, rock, jazz, blues, whatever. I just have to sing!!

A man whom I respect greatly and who has been an inspiring cheerleader of mine once told me that I have to sing, that people must have the chance to hear me. Please believe that I do not write the above out of a presumptuous desire for self-elevation. It’s just a fact about who I am, who I was made to be.

I don’t know when, where, how, or who with, but you heard it first here that I will, someday, sing in front of crowds. I will travel and sing. People will enjoy the experience, and, I hope and believe, take with them a few nuggets of truth.

Tonight, while listening to a talented group with two wonderful female vocalists, something stirred again within me. This time, as many times in the past, was a “God experience.” Instinctively, I closed my eyes and it was God and I, me begging, yearning for the opportunity, someday, to sing as a vocation. This may sound hokey for you non-spiritually-experienced, but in that God moment, I felt like God was asking me to live a pure life, and he would reward me with this desire (Psalm 37:4). I feel like I should reevaluate my decisions, my lifestyle, in order to live a more humble, pure life, one that honours God more than it pleases me. (Questions? Bring ’em on!)

Why? Because God is worth it, and so is that dream. I know that with Christ, all things are possible, even what may seem like a far fetched dream.

Jeans: The Key to Levitical Rebellion

Yesterday I had the privilege of chatting with a girl who is, like me, a singer and worship leader at an evangelical charismatic church. We began to share experiences, compare notes about practices, styles, expectations, etc. And then we came to something that has had me curious for a handful of years: being part of the worship team at her church comes with certain expectations.

Those expectations stipulate a code of conduct befitting a group of Levites who lead a congregation into the throne room of God: no drugs, no premarital sex (some of these are obvious), no drinking, no jeans on the platform on Sundays, etc.

Wait. Reverse this train. No jeans on the platform? No jeans on the platform on Sundays?

Please understand the tone of this blog isn’t meant to be abrasive, but simply, well, incredulous. We can scripturally justify no sex before marriage, but what about the rest? Sure, most would argue that drugs mess with the temple of the Holy Spirit, and many would say that alcohol does, too. I’d be interested in delving into those standpoints with you, if you’d like, particularly the drinking one, but let’s get back to the jeans, and how wearing them, on The Platform, on Sunday, should be frowned upon.

Don’t get me wrong… I get it. I’ve done the dress-up-for-church thing for, well, all of my life. But why do we dress up? And why should those on The Platform dress any better than those not on The Platform? (Hint: The answer “We’d put on our best clothes for the queen of England, why not much more so for God?” isn’t going to be accepted in this discussion.)

I want to exacerbate this topic, right here, right now, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to carry on a one-sided discussion. Thoughts?

Happy (Christmas) Easter

When I was a kid and Easter Sunday felt like the first day of Spring, I loved sunrise services. I would carefully pick an outfit that looked as “Spring-y” as possible, which meant it was mostly yellow, green, pink, or white. I would be excited about wearing only a sweater over my dress instead of a winter coat.

To this day, the thought of greeting the sun on a warm-ish Easter Sunday morning evokes excitement. A day in which people are gathered in celebration, all over the world! A day full of surprises, bright colours, good food, and family.

This morning, what I’m excited about is seeing my neices this afternoon, and playing with them, albeit indoors. Salome bossing Jaida around, stealing books right out of her hand and asking Auntie Sarah to read them to her. Or grabbing my hand to lead me to her room, where I’ll sit listening to her jabber on and on about very amusing topics that are too advanced for Auntie Sarah to fully understand, duh. Then, of course, there will be another book to read. Then another, then another, then another, till I’ve read all of the books in their possession five times each. Jaida will happily toddle around with her recently discovered walking skills, charming us all with her smile and patient personality.

This morning is the fourth day of what I like to call Winter: Recharged. Snow has not stopped falling for four days straight, and there are no signs of it letting up! Needless to say, I didn’t hear of any sunrise services being planned for this, my first Easter at home in Canada in six years. Apparently I didn’t pray hard enough for snow at Christmas and sun at Easter, because the Big Weatherman In the Sky seems to have gotten them mixed up (no, not a slam against God’s abilities, but a joke; laugh with me now).

Happy Easter, anyway. May your day be filled with laughter and good food and cracked, dyed eggs leaving stains all around your house because the kids can’t hide them outdoors.

The Discipline of Serving One Master

When I was fourteen and new to the whole teenage thing, I went with my youth group on a missions trip for 10 days to a few places across Eastern Canada. Our motto was: “40 people, 10 days, 8 cities, 1 bus, 1 message: Get Off The Fence“. In those 8 cities, we did services: open-air services, youth services, church services, and everywhere we set up our equipment, we led worship and did some sort of dramatic interpretation of our motto, “Get Off The Fence”. Today, at twenty-five, that message is sinking in.

Jesus, talking to his disciples:

“He that is faithful with little things is faithful with big things also. He that is not honest with little things is not honest with big things. If you have not been faithful with riches of this world, who will trust you with true riches? If you have not been faithful in that which belongs to another person, who will give you things to have as your own?

No servant can have two bosses. He will hate the one and love the other. Or, he will be faithful to one and not faithful to the other. You cannot be faithful to God and to riches at the same time.”

The proud religious law-keepers heard all these things. They loved money so they made fun of Jesus. Jesus said to them, “You are the kind of people who make yourselves look good before other people. God knows your hearts. What [people] think is good is hated in the eyes of God. Luke 16:10-15, NLV

Tonight, PJ challenged the youth group where I “sponsor”. He asked, “Can you honestly say that God and not money or materialism is your master?” He encouraged us to weigh our motives, testing ourselves by inquiring which master occupies the most time, thought and effort in our everyday lives.

I know what people think is good, and I can usually emulate it quite well, especially in church, where people are quick to judge something that seems to serve the world rather than God. But when there’s no one there to watch me, no one to impress, I’m not quite that person. I recognize that God is in me, I have a good heart, I’m a leader, I’m a “woman of God”, I’ve made good choices, etc. Clarification: this isn’t about self-esteem, folks; this is about spiritual discipline.

Our speaker last week gave us 5 Spiritual Disciplines to live by:

1. Simple & Sacrificial Living
2. Prayer, Fasting & Study
3. Solitude & Silence
4. Worship
5. Service to Others

In my daily life, I don’t naturally choose to engage in these disciplines. I don’t fill more time with these activities than music, movies, shopping, reading, etc. (again, clarification: this is not about not being able to have fun with music, movies, shopping reading, etc., but rather about balance and, again, DISCIPLINE!)

I wanna be faithful and honest with those things that seem so inconsequential in this big, wide world of media and malls (both of which I will continue to love), and I sure as hell don’t want to languish on the fence between two masters. So help me God, I will learn the discipline of taking time to serve my true master so that I am not found unfaithful.