Monthly Archives: April 2014

On Self-Control

Hi there!

Merriam Webster’s on-line dictionary says that self-control is “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.”  

I kind of regret going a bit overboard on the religious aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit.  I think all of these things, “love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness…” apply to all of us, regardless of faith or non-belief.

Alain de Botton wrote a controversial little book called, Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion.  Both sides gave him a lot of slack for it.  

The Christians thought he shouldn’t be picking and choosing bits of the Bible to fit his liking, and removing God entirely from the picture;  while, the Atheists were totally offended at the thought that the Bible might actually have something to teach them about how to live a good life.  

An even more controversial book written some 2000 + years ago.

Being Christian, I of course believe that life is better with God, than without Him.  That’s the choice I have made for my life.

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning”  (Psalm 30:5).

And so, self-control is “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.”

I confess I am not so good at this – My excuse is that I am French-Italian, or at least these are the parts I feel spill out, and so I feel like I have this hot Latin blood that will not be restrained or controlled.

I do sometimes feel as though, inside of me, there is this ‘power’ or ‘spirit’ that tries to keep me from saying too much.  I can feel the hesitation in my voice, and thoughts, and mind, and yet, I keep going!

It’s almost ridiculous how much I lack self-control.  I suppose I do get it right on occasion. But, those occasions are more in e-mail form.

I have learned that when I feel like shooting off an impulsive response, I need to shut the computer down, take a few deep breaths, get a glass of scotch (kidding), and let my thoughts simmer.  I am then better prepared to answer.

But, when the person is right in front of me – totally different story.  I just plain out share too much of my inner thoughts, thoughts that should be kept to myself!

Do you do this?  Maybe we could start a support group?  Monthly meetings to be held in the Pub!

Speaking of pubs, I have always wanted to change the lyrics to 50 Cent’s “In da Club” to “In da Pub.”

So here goes:

Go, go, go, go go, go, go, shorty
It’s your birthday
We gonna party like it’s yo birthday
We gonna sip Bailey’s like it’s your birthday
Hey, and we didn’t even know
It wasn’t your birthday!

[Chorus: x2]
You can find me in the pub, bottle full of bub
Look Patti I got the craving for a sub, you like subs?  
I’m into the hot peppers, I ain’t into eating grubs,
So come give me a hug, ‘cos I’m ’bout to leave the pub

It probably needs a bit of work…But, it does have more of a Canadian feel to it, though doesn’t it?  (Be kind!)

Oh dear, see lack of self-control in full force!!

I think that about does it for today’s installment of Random Acts of Love.

If you didn’t make it through, God bless you, and if you did made it through, may God bless you even more than those who did not!  You need it!!!

Love,

Ellie

 

 

On Gentleness

  1. 2 Samuel 22:36
    You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.


  2. Psalm 18:35
    You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.  (From Bible Gateway, ESV)

I really have no idea where this blog post is going today.  I checked out “gentleness” on Bible Gateway, and found these two verses.  Both were written by David.

I would never say that God’s gentleness makes me great.  It sounds like an odd pairing.

But then I checked out the context of what David was saying.

2 Samuel verses 35-37 says, “He trains my hands for war,  so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your gentleness made me great.  You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip”…

There is this feeling of God’s love being poured out over David – God’s goodness, mercy, grace, and gentleness.  These things made David great.  I am beginning to think that David knew exactly where his identity came from – the God of Israel.

I wonder if I truly believed that my identity was in the God of Israel and in Jesus Christ, what could I accomplish?  Looking back over my life, would I be able to say, as David did, “God, your gentleness made me great.”

He also says that God has given him the “shield of salvation”.

Steven J. Cole says, David spent “over a decade” in the wilderness, trying to escape Saul.  He had to learn to trust in God for his safety, and not in himself (Bible.org).

Cole goes onto talk about pride – He says, “At the root of pride is relying on ourselves rather than on God. Pride is looking within for our sufficiency rather than looking to Christ. It is thinking too highly of ourselves and too lowly of God. Pride thinks that God owes us something because of who we are or what we have done. In pride we think that our own righteousness commends us to God. Pride is putting ourselves above others, thinking that we’re better than they are. Everyone suffers from pride in one form or another.”

In the wilderness, David had to learn to trust in God and not in his own strength.  It does feel a bit extreme, having to spend “over a decade” running for your life.

And then to top it all off, when David became King, he still had to fight.  He had to go to war. He still had to rely on God to save him, to protect him, and to give him victory.

I don’t really like reading this about David – poor David – I want life to be easy.  I probably still battle with the idea that God owes me an easy life now, since I have an alcoholic father and a mother with mental illness.  Life has been hard, and I want to relax, enjoy life…I want to be in a good place…by probably, I mean I do…I just don’t want to say it out loud!

I think I am drawn to David because I feel like I can relate in some way.  I too had to “fight” to survive.  A word that came to my friend’s mind while praying for me was “warrior.”

Maybe David did have some big issues with pride.  I don’t know.  I just know that God continued to shower David with His favor, by disciplining him.  And, David responded by praising God.

Solomon, David’s son and successor to the throne of Israel, said, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

Kinda sounds like the father, David, passed on this wisdom to his son, Solomon, who in turn passed it on to his son…

Cole says, “I’m convinced that one of the main reasons God called David a man after God’s own heart was that David was a man of praise.”

A good reminder for me.

Question:  How have you seen God’s gentleness in your life?

 

 

On Faithfulness

Good Morning!

Joel 2:23 says, “Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.”

I have been glad to see the “rains of spring” come, but I confess it has nothing to do with anything spiritual, but it has to do with washing the doggie-doo-doo off the streets.

Someone said, “Sometimes the poo goes deep into the snow, and you think, ‘I’m not going in to get that’.  And so you leave it.”

I think in some cases, where people can get away with not picking up the poo, they’ll choose that option.  The snow covers up their unwillingness to do what they’re legally supposed to do.  Argh!

I think sometimes, we as Christians forget to acknowledge our own unwillingness to do, not what we are “legally” obligated to do, but rather to do what we ought to do:  serve God from a place of thankfulness and gratitude.

It is easy to ‘cover’ up our own inadequacies and faults.  I think leading busy lives may help us to do this –   And, let’s face it, life IS just BUSY!  We are forced to go at the speed of lightning by our culture and society.

I have been forced to slow down, and I see people rushing past me.  Sometimes, I feel their eyes burning into the back of my head.  They’re yelling at me, “Move it!” without realizing that I physically cannot move it.

They grow impatient, having to wait to pass me, should someone be coming down the sidewalk towards us.

As I walk the now clean streets, I can now think of Joel speaking about God’s rain – the autumn rain and the spring rain.  I don’t think he is talking about dog poo, but something deeper.  (I know, I know, it’s like I have a sixth sense or something.)  🙂

I just ‘googled’ Joel 2:23 at Bible.org, and the thing that jumped out at me was Israel’s unfaithfulness to God.

Even in Israel’s unfaithfulness, God’s faithfulness does not stop.  The rain He sends “demonstrates” and affirms His covenant with His people.  He does not abandon them.  They abandon Him.

We abandon Him.  It is not God who moves away from us, but rather we move away from God.  And, then we get ourselves into trouble.  Big trouble.  There are natural consequences when we begin to put our faith in things other than God.

I think my tendency is to look at my bank account, my savings, my RRSP’s and based on what is in there, “feel” secure and okay.  I have this idea in my head that a certain number is good, and anything below that number is not good.  As soon as the money begins to decrease, I begin to feel apprehensive and scared.

I forget that God is my provision.  When Moses asks God who he is – Moses wants  to be able to tell the Israelites who he has been speaking to, and God replies, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”  Exodus 3:14

The first thing that strikes me about this sentence is that it is not grammatically correct.  (Maybe it’s the translation from Hebrew or Greek to English…)

The other thing that strikes me about it is that God is in the Present.  He is with me, even if I do not feel it.  I can make my own “I am” God-statements, like, “I am your provision”.

And, then the “Great I Am” came down physically to show us His “unfailing love and faithfulness”.

John 1:14 says, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”

Our church has been reading through the gospel of John over the Lenten season.  Jesus makes seven (I believe) “I Am” statements, and I would encourage you to read through them, really read through them, and let them settle into your bones!  (I am preaching to myself here too!!)

The good news is that  the snow-white purity of Christ (his death and resurrection) covers up our own messy dog-poo, called, “sin”.

“Hooray!”

 

More Random Thoughts…

Hi there,

Not really too sure what I want to write about today, except that I feel I should be writing something.

I am sitting here with a nice cup of chai tea, and seated on an ice-pack.  It feels good!

Just realizing that relationships are hard.  I watched yet another Ted Talk, where the speaker said we wanted to engage more with our electronic devices, so that we could avoid real intimacy with another human being – computers are less messy.

Today, I am loving the electronic devices.  I long for the simplicity of electronic devices!   I won’t go into the gory details, but not only are relationships difficult, but then add in substance abuse (in this case alcohol) and they get even messier.

We are beginning to prefer our electronic devices to real human contact because we do not want to be vulnerable, (said the speaker).

We also want to be heard – listening is a real skill where I could use some improvement.  Tweeting, texting, etc. are ways to be heard nowadays.

We used to pick up the phone and call somebody, but now, we have to text to find out if it is okay to call.  Or, we have to email to set up a coffee date, etc.

We do not want to intrude on another person’s personal space.  I thought this was what voice mail was for.  I could call you, and if you didn’t want to answer, or were otherwise engaged, I could leave a message.  Simple!

But, technology had to complicate things by giving us first email, and then texting from our phones.

We are indeed, “Hurtling Toward Oblivion” (Dr. Richard A. Swenson).  He argues that we have increased our technology to the point that we keep going faster and faster and faster, until, oops, we reach the “end of the age’.

I picture a child swinging madly, and I am getting quite dizzy.

STOP! Everything is going blurry.  I confess I have not read the book, but it is on my list of long things to do…

I wonder if Charles Babbage, the “Father of the Computer” way back in 1833 thought that his invention would be such an inspiration. Apparently, he got tired of people like me making mathematical errors, so in an effort to minimize my bad mathematics, this is what he came up with…

The photo is taken from Wikipedia and is a portion of “Babbage’s Differences engine”.  It’s all Greek to me…

Then, my good friend Konrad Zuse way back in 1939 or 1936 (depending on the web-site you are viewing) invented the “world’s first program-controlled computer“.   “Way to go, Konrad!”

Finally in 1983 the first home computer was introduced by Apple.  Then Microsoft came along two years later to compete with Apple.  (From:  http://inventors.about.com/library/blcoindex.htm)  And, we have been fighting with each other ever since…

At any rate, I am getting a bit tired from all of this computer talk – How the heck did I end up here? – Oh yes, “Hurtling Toward Oblivion”, technology taking over human interaction, life is messy…

This is the part in the blog, where I politely excuse myself and go stick my nose in a book.

In the old days, say 1980-ish, when we wanted to escape reality, we would turn to books made with real paper.

I could learn about myself through the characters, their interactions with one another, through plot and conflict, through mood created by setting and carefully selected words by the author…

Ahh, I can smell the poplar calling to me…

Now, put down your device and pick up a book.  Or if you prefer, text a friend to see if he or she wants to go for coffee – I suppose I’ll allow it…  🙂

Blessings!

Ellie

 

Chuffed

Hi there,

I am feeling chuffed.  Is chuffed a word?  Yes, it is, but it means, “well pleased”.  I am not feeling well pleased.  So, it is a good thing I looked it up.

It “sounds” like how I am feeling though.

Do you ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels?  Not quite going anywhere, but feeling like you’re expending a lot of energy…

I listened to a TED talk yesterday – those things can be quite addictive if you get on a roll – the latest one I watched had to do with happiness.  “The Happy Secret to Better Work” was what it was called.

It’s all about positive thinking –

The speaker challenged the audience to five things:

1)  Write down three things you are grateful for – for 21 consecutive days
2)  Journal – write out one good thing that has happened to you in the last 24 hours
3)  Meditate
4)  Exercise
5)  Random Acts of Kindness – send an e-mail of thanks or appreciation to someone (every day)

I have started in on it.

Sometimes, it is easy to forget what I have to be grateful for, or I forget the good things that happen, etc.  I can also forget to thank people or show appreciation for something they have done for me.

I am on Day 2.  This was me before Day 1:

This is me on Day 2:
Well, maybe not quite yet…
He also talks about studies – I loathe studies – they are generalizations – But, his take on studies is kind of interesting to me.
He says, “If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.”  Meaning:  The psychologists should study those who are above average and find out why they’re above average.  Then, they can get to work on lifting up those who are merely ‘average’.  Everybody gets better.  Why stick to the status quo?
So, after writing in my journal for the last two days (and I have yet to thank someone today), I find myself still getting caught up in that downward spiral of negativity, stress and worry.
Why do I do this?  Why do I like to focus and dredge up anxieties?  Is it because I am secretly a pessimist?
One time, a pessimist said it is better to be a pessimist because then when something turns out well, you’ll be pleasantly surprised; otherwise, if you think something will turn out great, and it turns out to be poo, you’ll just be disappointed.  Better to be disappointed beforehand.
Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?  And, don’t optimistic people live longer.  If you expect bad things to happen, then guess what?  Bad things are going to happen.
I am constantly surprised at myself because the things that I worry and fret over are not normally big issues – things usually work out okay in the end.  But, I tend to forget this little bit of statistical truth!
Complete and utter madness, I know!
I need to expect good things to happen to me – for doors to open – for new possibilities and fun and adventure and…I am trying!  I am trying!  I am trying!   But, I don’t want to be disappointed by broken dreams, loss, suffering…
I don’t want to be a closet pessimist anymore!  So, I am going to stop writing this blog, publish the darn thing, and send someone a lovely thank you e-mail.  🙂
If you would like to listen to the Ted Talk, here it is:

http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work

Question:  What do you think is the way to joyful living?

Ellie

 

On William Lyon Mackenzie

Hi!

I know – I am all over the map – I like my “Random Acts”!  🙂  And, why am I now on to William Lyon Mackenzie?

I have been reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, and stumbled upon a little tid-bit about  a guy whose name is almost identical to the former P.M. minus the “King”.

Can you see the family resemblance?

Me neither…

I vaguely recall learning about a little rebellious paper called the Colonial Advocate, and then later an even more radical newspaper, the Constitution.

– Mackenzie rallied 800 followers to seize the Governor, but his plans failed.  Lack of planning! He escaped to the U.S. and was then imprisoned for 11 months for breaking “neutrality laws”.

While in prison, he wrote the book The Caroline Almanack – he was “disillusioned by U.S. politics”, and he was in Rochester, New York, not a very exciting place to be imprisoned –

think Australian sandy beaches….

He was released from prison and allowed to come back to Canada.  Hooray!  He was then elected to Parliament, but was forced to resign due to illness.  Apparently, he is our  symbol of ” Canadian radicalism”.  Unlike his grandson, William Lyon Mackenzie King, who was more  is our national symbol of stability … Non?

“His [King’s]allies were annoyed by his constant intrigues. He kept secret his beliefs in spiritualism and use of mediums to stay in contact with departed associates and particularly with his mother, and allowed his intense spirituality to distort his understanding of Adolf Hitler.” (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lyon_Mackenzie_King)

In Atwood’s story some of the radicals were killed – hung.  It wasn’t until 1976 (I was 2) when the death penalty was abolished in Canada.

Honestly, I think I need to start reading up on Canadian history.  I didn’t even know we had the death penalty.

Is there something wrong with me?  Or is there something wrong with Canadian history we learn in school?   Maybe the answer is both.

I feel like I missed so much.  It is possible as a 15-16 year old, I paid little attention in History class – all I remember learning is WW1,  WW2, Confederation, The American Revolution (which I think had more to do with the Loyalists that came to Canada – at least from our Canadian perspective).

Or, we learned about the American Revolution because it makes the Americans look bad – tarring and feathering anyone, who did not believe what the majority believed.  Intolerance at its finest.  And a, “Yay, aren’t we better than the “Yanks” attitude”…

I think this was the point where I became disillusioned with “American politics”.  I have yet to write my book on it…But, I imagine Canada would not fare so well either when put under the magnifying glass…

The one thing I do admire about the Americans is that they get excited about their heroes, villains and history, while we Canadians clump along, unawares…Are we that boring?

The answer may be “Yes”, but it may also be “No” if we rolled up our sleeves, and dug deep into this Canadian soil.

And, this is the reason why I find myself enthralled by Atwood’s book – Canadian history has come alive in the form of literature.

My interest in movies makes me think that we need to do this in film!   We have the talent, the imagination, the curiosity, and the history!

Whose with me?

Ellie

*All other quotes taken from:    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/354862/William-Lyon-Mackenzie