WONDER

Sitting alone in the dark solitude of our empty living room,
  sipping my morning coffee and looking out our front picture window
 into the distant panorama of a residential street that had yet to awaken,
  I listened to the empty silence of a cold winter's morning.
 The frozen landscape crackled with the winter's bitter wind... 
 a fridgid contrast to my warm blanket and hot drink.
 I couldn't help looking at everything and saying as God did, "It is good." 
Only my voice had a touch of wonder in it, 
 while His had only satisfaction. 
So many days are spent chasing obligations and deadlines and paycheques
 and nothing special seems to stand out worth remembering.
 But lockdowns and quarantines and five such minutes in my living room alone
 simply me and God, just being still and truly seeing, truly appreciating,
 are worth a lifetime of chasing.

It was written by me, but inspired by a devotional I recently read by Susan Lenzkes. It was a real experience but captured again as I read her words and tried to apply them to myself. As most of you know, my #wordoftheyear for 2022 is “magic”, so I have begun to actively seek out the moments of wonder and awe. To appreciate the little things. Facebook memories of my kids a hundred years ago. So cute all decked out for a Sunday morning service. Knowing we are safe and financially secure for the start of another year. Hating lockdowns and school online, but thankful that technology allows us education and the ability to connect with others. Full bellies. Warm houses and clean water.

So much we take for granted. So many wishes for this or that. I am reminded that life is really, really fragile. Tiny humans are born completely dependent. Many return to that state of complete dependence as we age. Time is not our friend. This fallen world and all the “bad” that is in it makes me wonder: “Why on earth?”

For some reason, Psalm 8 has been popping up in my world all this week. If you have time, look it up. David wondered “Why on earth?” too. I love learning about the idiosyncracies of this fabulous planet we live on. And all the creatures that share it with us. How inventive is our God who created every living thing? Yes, even one small virus who has the ability to mutate and change and manipulate an entire population of beings. He is in control, my friends! But it makes me wonder, like the psalmist, if God is in control of the big things like the universe and all the small things like corona viruses, then “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Somehow, He thinks we are worth it.

He looked at us, feeble humans, a little lower than the heavenly beings, and decided these made-from-dust creatures were worth loving and dying for. That you were worth dying for. That I was worth loving. Oh, the weight of those things! Wonder – full.

My wish for you and I this week is that we continue to be blessed in that realization. That we continue to seek for and see the wonder that is before us, behind us, and all around us. Will you join me as I look for it? Until next week, my friends!

#WordoftheYear 2022

Well, we made it to another year… kicking and screaming, maybe, but here we are! It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs again in 2021, with the global pandemic hanging over us yet again. Still, time travels on. A constant in this world of upheaval. Time doesn’t seem to stop for anyone… or anything. And so we arrive at 2022.

As many of you will recall, for 2021, I chose a #wordoftheyear. It was my first attempt at such a thing, and I think it went off rather well. (You can read some of those thoughts here) It’s different from a resolution or goal… it can be interpreted differently throughout the year’s circumstances, and may appeal to you in a variety of situations. For 2021, my word was “brave”. I felt it. I failed at it. I focused on it.

This year, * drumroll please * my word is magic. When my eldest son was younger, he loved magic tricks… he learned a few and put on performances where he would “wow” us with his slight of hand. We saw magicians in Vegas and on tv specials and ooohed and ahhhed at the magic and wondered “How’d they do it?” But when I picked this word for 2022… this is not the definition of magic I had in mind. This magic is trickery and illusion. There’s enough of that out there in the world. I certainly don’t need to focus on that kind of magic.

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

No, when I chose the word, maybe I was thinking about miracles. Maybe I was thinking about the unexpected. Maybe I was thinking about the astonishing. Perhaps I wanted to focus on the little things in life that are magic… things that used to make me oooh and ahh, but have been pushed aside by my practical side. Things that brought a little joy into people’s lives for no reason other than it was fun… like sparkles and sprinkles. Covid has robbed us of some of that. We have become consumed with sanitizer and sterility. I need some fairy dust in my year. I need some ribbons and confetti and spur-of-the-moment decisions — because I really don’t like those things. I fret at the cost and the environmental impact and the lack of frugality to those things. The people around me do like those things, though, and maybe we both need a little magic to brighten our days up this year.

I’m not so good at making magic. I miss the little ones at school who forced you to see the magic. The wide-eyed attention they gave when they just knew that something cool was about to happen. I want to be the wide-eyed one this year. I want to create those experiences for those around me… through my actions, through my faith in a great big God who still does miracles, and through my attention to the small details that allow me to see the everyday miracles. I want to delight in the smells and sounds and sights of a great big world around me and be astonished at it. I want to say, hey God, “How’d ya do that?” Magic.

I also think about magic in the sense of “ta-da” moments. When the hankies disappear into the hat. When the puff of smoke turns the bird into the beautiful lady. I’m learning how to make things new again — by fixing, painting, fluffing and upcycling. I am learning to love the ta-da moments of my projects when I can say Ha! Look at how that just turned out! Magic. Things transformed from one thing, into another… that’s a magic God loves to see, too. And I hope it will be part of my journey this year, too. I long to share it with you, my friends on this little piece of the internet where we dream big and fail hard. Where we think deeper and muse mightily.

So, my friends, “cheers” to another new year! May our year be filled magic, wonder and a little bit of mystery… and a good dose of musing about it all!

“Your Focus Needs more Focus”

I was in charge of walking the dog this week. Not a big deal, he’s pretty good about walks now. There was a time, though… a time when that puppy of ours was a bundle of energy and was distracted by every person, stray dog, fluttering bird or swaying blade of grass. He’s older now and a little less distracted… but the odd time he loses focus. Just like the rest of us. Or as the next generation of karate kid training says “your focus needs more focus”. Love Jackie Chan.

Which had me musing this week. Focus. What are we really focused on? The center point. The hub. The nucleus of your world. Focus. The clarity in the situation. The distinct, well defined, finger-pointing “thing” that makes it, well, “it”. Some of us have a goal for a time. Raise our kids well. Focus on a career that will lead us to financial stability. Finish college. Buy a house. Many of my readers will note that I have had a #wordoftheyear for the first time in 2021. I chose it to bring a little focus into my life for the next 365 days. (You can read about it here).

FOCUS

Our physical bodies are often something we focus on as well. How many workouts target one or two “problem areas”. Buns of steel, anyone? Or calming ourselves down by focusing on our breathing, or pulse, or making each step deliberate. It helps keep us under “control”. The control is needed to keep us from going off on tangents, wild goose chases or as a friend puts it…rabbit trails. Alice got into a lot of trouble following a rabbit.

Clarity. Good clarity comes from the right focus. My glasses help me see clearly. Microscopes and telescopes bring clarity to objects our eyes simply cannot see without help. It brings a fuzzy, undefined image into something we can recognize and understand. And often learn from or learn more about with study.

So why focus on focus? It is a strong contender in our ability to keep going. It goes hand and hand with hope. When we lose focus, we easily become distracted… and then the journey is no longer enjoyable. Like our puppy walks. When we had to correct, refocus, pull on the leash and speak harshly to the pup… nobody enjoyed the outing. Sure, truth be told, all of us need a little distraction now and then to break the monotony of tunnel vision. Maybe breaks are even necessary. Yet, focus brings us back to the point.

The beginning of Hebrews 12 reminds us to not only to stay focused on the end goal, but shows us how Jesus was our perfect example of this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT

His love for us. Our weak faith. Our focus on the finish line before us. What about you, my friend? Does your focus need more focus? Are you pulling in all directions? I know I struggle with this all too often. May you be encouraged to “focus” along with me in the next few days, and set our eyes on the finish line, as we enjoy our walk together.