Singled Out

Have you ever been singled out? Perhaps your name was picked from a whole collection of names to win some fabulous prize. Perhaps you were called upon to give the answer. Or perhaps your phone number was randomly selected to take part in the wonderful “air duct cleaning promotional sale” going on in your neighbourhood right now, if you would just give the square footage of your home…

I had the privilege of being singled out last week in a way that made me smile. I was scheduled to do a workshop in a school not too far from my house. It was a bit rainy outside, but was pleasantly greeted and welcomed into a neat and tidy classroom full of whimsical decorations and clean, open spaces. On the whiteboard was a daily calendar, weather charts and other routines… and there I was, clearly labelled as the object of the day! Hand drawn in red marker, the teacher had pencilled me in as someone special! And even though she had never met me before, her preconceived ideas of “scientist” even had me wearing glasses! (Which is true, in my case). It made me gush a bit.

Here I was, singled out as someone special. Something to look forward to. Someone worthy enough to be pegged into the daily calendar. An event that will be talked about the following day, and perhaps in a month’s review. Talk about big expectations to fill. Which got me thinking… how do we get singled out? And how do we single out others?

That’s Me! Penciled in on Oct. 24th!

Of course, we love to be singled out for positive things: promotions, special gifts, pats on the back. We are thrilled when someone remembers our birthday and brings gifts and lavishes us with goodies. We appreciate acknowledgements of jobs well done, and ribbons of next level accomplishments. Sometimes those things are well deserved — recognition of hard work, dedication and fruitful service. Hmmn… maybe mothers should get the gifts on your birthday. Afterall, what did you actually do on that day? (But that’s a whole other discussion…)

The Bible reminds us how unique we are. Psalms tell us that each of us are uniquely handcrafted by our Maker. Every fine detail of our being specifically designed for His purpose and pleasure. That alone should make us smile. But it goes beyond our physical. Our jobs as Jesus followers are to be examples to a fallen world. We are the lights in someone else’s darkness. We are singled out to be the only one to do that job, in that moment, for that person. Scary thought, isn’t it?

And so I muse, am I doing it ? Am I fulfilling my pencilled in mark on someone else’s daily calendar? Am I living up to the expectations someone else has of me? Am I doing my best to be the person God wants me to be? Obviously, we, as flawed humans, often fail in our attempts to be God’s ultimate example. We are not called to be perfect. We are called to be honest. To strive for our best, and to be open when we struggle. To rely on His timing, and trust in His providence. And allow Him to shape and mold us along the journey.

October is pastor appreciation month in our neck of the woods. It’s good for us to single out our shepherds and remind them of jobs well done. But we are all part of the herd. Yes, our Lord knows each of us by name, and we hear His voice. But we are part of a bigger picture, intricately melded together, along with all of our flaws and imperfections, to interlock into this vast puzzle that God, in His magnificent wisdom, is fitting together to create a masterpiece!

This is My Father’s World

Ahhh… today is the first of October. And in Canada, fall is beginning to show itself in full colour. With it, comes the sigh of satisfaction at a bountiful harvest, and the joys of quieter days. (We are going to ignore the fact that the weather can’t make up its mind and both snow and 30 degree celsius temperatures happen all in the same time frame — just work with me and my idealized vision of autumn, okay?!). I wasn’t sure what to muse about this week, and was going through the things that have been recently on my mind: Greta Thunberg and her fight for global change, aboriginal celebrations of strength, fall fairs, baked warm apples and pumpkin spice lattes, and for some reason, this old hymn popped into my head:

This Is My Father’s World (Lyrics)

This is my Father’s world,

And to my listening ears

All nature sings, and round me rings

The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,

The birds their carols raise,

The morning light, the lily white,

Declare their maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world,

He shines in all that’s fair;

In the rustling grass I hear him pass;

He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world.

O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

“This is My Father’s World”, was originally published, posthumously, by the author’s wife in 1901, in a book of his poems. Maltbie Davenport Babcock, was a New York minister who frequented the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario, simply to marvel at “His Father’s World”. I think he was close enough to Canada to appreciate the true beauty displayed, especially during autumn. The popular hymn was adapted from Babcock’s poem by his friend and musician, Franklin Shepherd, in 1915. (The original poem contained 16 verses of 4 lines each).

I was reminded of the hymn back on my travels to Wolfville, Nova Scotia this summer, (you can read about that adventure here) and discovered it is also themed in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. As the camera pans the rolling hills of the Shire and all the familiar simplicity of a hobbit’s homelife, we are reminded that despite this era of evil, this is My Father’s World.

So, as our sunflowers begin to droop from faces ladened with seeds, as the leaves change colour and eventually die, as fall mums and ripe apples display their ruby redness against a backdrop of golden hues, I hope you relish the thought that this is my Father’s world. Perhaps you’re off to drown your troubles in a quiet coffee shop with a “grande PSL”. I’m here to remind you: That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet. Happy first of October, my beloveds!

A Bouquet of Flowers

Well. Here it is. First day of back-to-school week, which means summer is officially over. If you’ve been following along through my summer posts, you know it has been an interesting summer… full of ups and downs and failed plans. So, I am marking today with a big bouquet of flowers. A celebration of sorts, a chance to move forward in the adventure, and see where this next “new year” goes.

Our little urban garden is starting to yield its last of the produce, but we are still waiting for the sunflowers to bloom. They are strong, and very tall… but have not presented their happy, seed-filled faces yet! Did we plant too late? Did we forget something? I’m not sure. Perhaps they are just late bloomers, and we will simply have to wait and be patient. We also planted nasturtiums, an edible plant that I was hoping to pretty up salads with… but they didn’t grow at all! What did grow was a huge goldenrod bush… basically a wildflower… better known as a weed. It flourished mightily. Although, I hear you can make a really nice goldenrod tea… when life gives you lemons and all that… At least the bees enjoyed it.

photo by kilarov-zaneit via Unsplash

I was never a big flower fan when I was younger. Of course, I loved a bouquet of roses as much as any romantic teen, but gardens should be practical and contain something “useful” like vegetables. But I have grown and matured and have come to appreciate flowers. The simple diversity of blooms and variety of colour, alone, makes them worthy of pondering. As I read more on gardens and foraging, the medicinal use of things like echinacea, camomile, and lavender, have peaked my interest in the practical characteristics of the “pretty” plants. So, forgive me if you are a flower fiend, and have tended the perfect English rose garden for years. I am still learning.

As a scientist, I’m aware that flowers also have quite a deep history. I’ve already alluded to the medicinal uses of flowering buds. Still, have you heard of this thing called the Fibonacci sequence ? Flowers have such. Repeating patterns in perfectly mathematical sequences that bear the mark of a unique and complex Creator. Cool. And let’s not forget the simple fact that flowers are the lifeblood of the plant… seeds and fruit that perpetuate the next generation! Not just pretty faces, indeed.

And so, on this first day, of this new fall year, be encouraged by a “simple” flower. Pick a bouquet for yourself or someone else and share the love. Tag me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! I’d love to see how you are choosing to bloom today!