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!

Saying Goodbye

This week we said goodbye to my eldest son. We put him on a flight that was heading halfway around the world, to embark on the journey of a lifetime. He’ll be gone for about 6 months — learning, and growing, and serving others. He’s gonna love it! The hubby and I have been debating “goodbyes” for the last three weeks. How are you supposed to feel about goodbyes? Sad? Excited? Anxious? Perhaps we feel all of those emotions. It’s not a debate whether you miss the person or not, it’s simply feeling. And everybody feels differently. We cannot impose our feelings on others. This is oh so evident with grief… and final goodbyes. Each of us handle it our own way — and you cannot rush the process. But that’s a bigger topic for another day.

We’ve been anticipating this trip for some time… and have made preparations: vaccines, paperwork, fundraising, packing, planning, researching, and waiting. You arrive early to the airport (way too early, says the hubby), and despite double checking and repacking, you pray they ignore the two extra pounds of luggage and put you through. Then you have a momentary breakdown (and shear panic) as you check the carefully labelled red folder of “important” documents and discover the passport is missing. Only to discover it is on said son’s person. But said son has disappeared for the last 20 minutes in some obscure airport bathroom…. and you silently curse…. and a whole new set of emotions well up.

And then, alas, the time comes for hugs, selfies, pats on the back, final warnings to be careful as you, yes, blink a few tears back, and watch as your beloved spreads his wings. We call all of that “goodbye”.

According to history, our English goodbye was derived from “Godbwye” a crazy, late 1500’s text-worthy spelling version of “God be with ye” — quite appropriate if I do say so. That is all we really want to say, isn’t it? I put you in God’s hands, and trust that He knows best. It’s really the sum of our mixed emotions. God be with you, until you return.

I’ve mused a little this week about how Jesus’ disciples must have felt when He said his goodbyes. Confusion must have been in their mix of emotions. Why was he leaving this way? How did Mary feel about her final goodbyes at the cross? Was Thomas the one wishing for the red folder of important documents? What about the reverse? What was going through the mind of the all-knowing Saviour as He said “goodbye” to His earthly life to return to His Heavenly father? I am sure He had some mixed emotions leaving His mission to a bunch of confused fishermen and bewildered women!

But — perhaps the “God be with you” phrase was truly coined then, at that moment in history. Perhaps Jesus simply did what He had to do, and then said His goodbyes, knowing that the rest of the future human race will simply have to learn to embark on their journeys with God “bye” our side.

Until next week: “Goodbye” my gentle readers…”God be with you”

Rock On

They say a diamond is a girl’s best friend. I think that’s true because a diamond is really just a big rock. When I was little, I loved rocks. I still like rocks, actually. Diamonds and otherwise. Have you ever been to one of those touristy-type places that have the gift shops with all the souvenirs? In Canada, it is usually filled with maple syrup and cheesy t-shirts and keychains with red maple leaves plastered all over them. Just beside the “make-a-souvenir-coin” machine (which costs a toonie to produce a copper penny — go figure) is usually a large bin with rocks of various colours and sizes. Sometimes it is filled with highly polished “jewels” and a little velvet pouch, and sometimes it has a more rustic feel, with jagged flint pieces or maybe even fossils. This bin always seemed to be the first place I headed when I was younger.

I’m not sure why, but I was thinking about this, this week, and the whole idea of “rocks”. What was the appeal to me? Why did I love to dig through this bin and search out the most special of samples? (I hardly ever bought any as they were always too expensive for a hunk of earth, but still…) I had a fairly large rock collection when I was younger. Those cool ones from the beach, with stripes of red granite or even man-made chunks of asphalt worn smooth by the lapping waves. Or memories of my kids who searched out the flattest stones to skip across the lake. Nothing like a toddler’s pocket full of pebbles to make a mom giggle. Saggy little butt cheeks. And Heaven forbid, you suggest leaving them on the path! Our minivan probably still has a few pebbles hidden in the drink holders!

The kids may have moved on from sagging pockets, but I still love a good geode and totally embarrassed my kids on a trip awhile back as I donned my safety goggles and hammer to crack open the beauty I had picked out of the bin. I even spent the money on that one. I will openly admit, I am the proud owner of a few rock piles… both inside and outside my house. I’m no geologist, but rocks are pretty cool.

If any of you followed us on our 30 Days of Blessings journey, you will remember the day we targeted Rocks. It was a simple reminder to focus on the strength of God’s character, and yet remember how something so seemingly mundane can be so beautiful. Glittering diamonds from lumps of coal and all that.

Amethyst is one of my favourites!

So, if you are searching for some encouragement today, imagine your younger self crouched over that big bin of colourful rocks. You dig and dig, and examine each one, hoping to find the perfect specimen. That one with just the perfect smoothness, or that hint of colour, or that sparkly spot that may mean gold or some other precious jewel embedded in the rough. When you’ve finally found it, you tuck it away lovingly in your black velvet pouch and pull the drawstrings tight. Your treasure has been found!

Now, imagine the rock is you. A diamond in the rough, waiting to be polished by the Master jewel maker, a treasure to be cherished. Displayed in His vast collection, handpicked from all the others, just because someone saw the potential of gold in your tiniest of cracks. God works like that. Or perhaps you have been worn smooth by the ever constant waves of life and you’ve been chosen, now, to soar across the expanse — simply for the shear joy of seeing you fly! You are a treasure.

Rock on, my fellow boulders, Rock on.