Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sustainability

Hi there,

Merriam Webster’s On-line Dictionary defines the words “Sustain”, “Ability” and “Sustainable” as:

Sustain:  “to provide what is needed for (something or someone) to exist, continue, etc.”

Ability:   “the quality or state of being able; especially :  physical, mental, or legal power to perform; competence in doing :  skill>”

Sustainable: “able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed; involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources; able to last or continue for a long time”

I recently watched an interview with Prince Charles.  I found it fascinating for a few reasons.

One, I got to see a different side to “Skinny Jeans”, aka George Stroumboulopoulos, (I should get a hundred bucks if I copied that out right from the interview’s title), i.e. in a suit jacket, but alas, no tie.

Anyhoo, I was pleasantly surprised by Prince Charles.

One thing he said that really stuck in my brain was that we (humans) create “rich ghettos” and “poor ghettos”, but there is nothing stopping us from building communities where rich and poor live side by side.

In my neighborhood, it feels like this is already the case.  We have privately owned homes, alongside rentals and lower income properties.

It would be cool to see developers begin to plan communities such as described above.  (I can hear some groanings out there; Prince Charles is living in his fancy protected castles and mansions, not practicing what he’s preaching.  But, he’s going to be the freakin’ King…You don’t get to walk on the front lawn of any world leader’s private home…In fact, at the White House, they’ll sick the dogs after you if you try…)

HRH also spoke about “duty” in a good way.  The implication of “duty” is that it is something one MUST do, without choice, almost begrudgingly.

The Prince was brought up to put others first, to do things for others.  This is his duty, and one that he does not seem to begrudge at all (how very fascinating!).

And, so where do you or I fit in?   We do not have the privileges being royal would afford. The Prince’s interview made me think about my “duty”.  What is it that Ellie’s heart is telling her to do?  What is my duty?  To friends?  To family?  To my community?  To my country?  To the world?

It stirred deeper thoughts and questions inside of me.  (I am still processing!)  As a Christian, a follower of Jesus, this is how I am supposed to live.  My life is to be lived for others.  Easy to write.  Hard to do.

Prince Charles received a tonne of criticism when he first began to ‘challenge the status quo’ with respect to things like community development, sustainability, environmental concerns, etc., but he kept going, persisting, moving forward in spite of all the negative publicity.

That’s the unenviable part of his ” job” of being on the world stage.

But, here is a person who did not give up or back down.  Am I allowed to say the Prince has got some “balls”?  A good quality in a leader I think.

I read a blog, (from CareerJoy), where he talked about there are always new ways of doing things, feeding the hungry, etc.  Let’s try to be creative to get some good things done, together!

Here’s to the ‘sustainability’ of Prince Charles, along with the full interview.  I don’t think I ruined it all, just most of it.  🙂

Blessings,

Ellie

I See Ellie

Hi there,

Do you remember the show, Romper Room?

Well, “Romper Room [was] a long-running children’s television series that ran in the United States from 1953 to 1994 as well as internationally at various times in Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Finland.”

I used to watch it all the time.  At the end of the show, it was time for the Magic Mirror.  I remember being very excited and hopeful that today was the day when the hostess would see ME, Elizabeth, through her magic mirror.

I remember when it didn’t happen, I would get angry, frustrated and annoyed.  (Looking back later, I realized I probably had some anger issues that needed to be resolved through counseling…)

Did you know that anger is a secondary emotion?  So said my counselor.  (See, I did seek help!)

I am guessing at the root of my ‘anger’ over not having the hostess see me through her magic mirror, was my disappointment.

For starters, I would feel disappointed because she didn’t see me.  How could she not?  I saw her everyday.  I wonder if my anger came because I felt like she didn’t see me, and in not seeing me, that she didn’t know me.

I wanted to be known by the Romper Room lady…

And, I guess the other part of it is that I would wait for it, and wait for it, and it hardly ever happened.

And so, I became angry…turning the television off in disgust…

It kind of reminds me of waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled in my life.  Well meaning Christians will tell you, “God’s timing is perfect,” as though that is supposed to make the waiting easier.  It is only a band-aid.

I think what we should be reminding each other of is how wonderful God is, how much God loves us, how He thinks of us.   “The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

We need to be reminded that God has not forgotten us!  We need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness and that we can trust Him.  “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True”  (Revelation 19:11).

God does not change.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).

In Isaiah 49:16, God says, “Look! I’ve inscribed you on the palms of my hands, and your walls are forever before me.”

And, to Jeremiah, God said, “I knew you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart for me before you were born; I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations”
(Jeremiah 1:5).

I just pummeled you with Scripture, hoping it would sink in!

If today was not your most stellar, there is some good news.  There is always the hope of tomorrow.  Just take a little peek because “[h]ope is just around the corner”
(Romans 12:12).

Here is a clip from Romper Room and Friends Magic Mirror from 1984.  Does she see you?

If not, remember that God does!

Blessings,

Ellie

 

Differences and Fears

Hi there,

In his book The Relationship Principles of Jesus, Tom Holladay says, “We limit love because of our differences and our fears” (p. 68).

We tend to separate ourselves into our little groups, our boxes.

It seems funny, or rather odd, to me that we try so hard to be “individuals”, and yet try so hard to “fit in” and be “accepted”.  They seem to be polar opposites.

“Man” or “Humanity” is a funny little creature.

Animals are pure instinct, with no conscience.  I am quite certain of this statement’s truth because I have been owned by cats.

Man has both instinct and conscience, with a dollop of reason added in for good measure.

I think I am in need of some definitions before I continue on with my own ignorant thoughts and judgments (italics mine).

Instinct:    a:  a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason,
and 
b :  behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level

Conscience:  a : the part of the mind that makes you aware of your actions as being either morally right or wrong, and b : a feeling that something you have done is morally wrong

Reason:  the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way

I would argue that God has given us these abilities, so that we would know when we have gone astray.  i.e. Let your conscience be your guide.

But, our instincts are also there to let us know when we are in danger, to keep us safe from harm.

Like I said, animals lack conscience, but man generally knows his right from wrong, being taught these things from infancy.  If we watch children playing, we can see the little imps trying to get away with things, and often hear parents saying, “No” and “Share” and “Be nice”.

So sad!

But, we grow up, lose our innocence and “Reason” comes to make a home in our brains and hearts.

Our brains are amazing!  It has power to heal, it has power to change our reality if we change our thoughts.  AMAZING!!

But, I think we limit ourselves because of this little annoying thing called “reason”.  We begin to “think and understand in a logical way”.  Logic tells us what we have to do in order to be accepted.

If I just get an “A”, or just get “that particular job or role”, then they will have to love and accept me.

I think we begin to misuse reason to try and get what we want.  Success or perceived success.

We use our reason to try and manipulate  others into doing what we want them to do, or to manipulate circumstances, when what we really want is to be loved and accepted.

And so, “We limit love because of our differences and our fears.”

We try and put ourselves in the best position to be loved and accepted by associating with those who look like us, sound like us…But, then fear rears its ugly head and we recoil.

I believe it is Holladay who also says that we can “truly only love others when we’re spending time with others in fellowship.”

I know, my personal favorite response is to retreat when someone hurts me.  I hate confrontation.

For those of us, who are claim to follow Jesus, Holladay says that Jesus did not say, “Do the best you can” but rather gave us a “do more than you possibly could” challenge.”  Holladay goes on to say, “Recognizing that you don’t have the power to act with this kind of love is the first step. Jesus gave us this seemingly impossible challenge not to discourage us but to lead us to find the power to love others in him.  If I’m going to love as Jesus loved, I need the power that only Jesus can give” (p. 83).

For those who do not follow Jesus, I would dare say that all hope is not lost.  I know for myself, everything is grounded and rooted in God, so it is hard for me to know how to encourage you.  All I can think of is the infamous “wedding verse” from 1 Corinthians.

I like it for its blunt definition of what love encompasses.  Paul writes, “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!…13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8,13).

Love is also in the small things, a hug, a smile… Be encouraged!

Ellie

All You Need is Love…

Hi there,

Decided to steal the title of a Beatles’ song.  It’s a nice little diddie!

Still thinking about this “love” topic I preached on.  The sermon went well, and gave people something to think about.    Always a good thing.

Stephen J. Cole (at Bible. org) writes differentiates between “Biblical love” and “Worldly love”.

I do understand why he wanted to separate the two, but I am not entirely sure they need to be.  I think most people on the planet would like to feel unconditionally loved.  They may not define “love” in Christian terms, but I think the essence must be the same.

We are human after all.

That’s the crazy-amazing thing about reading literature written over 200 + years ago.  It is still relevant.

But, how can that be, Ms. Ellie?

We are human right down to our core.

I think we can have a perception that as technology has changed, so have we.  I would argue, we have not.

Take Mount Vesuvius in Southern Italy…Stay with me…

“Mt. Vesuvius, the active volcano…has erupted well over 30 times that we know of. And yet its most famous eruption took place all the way back in A.D. 79, when a multiday eruption of lava and ash covered the cities of Pompeii and Stabiae in ash. Pliny the Younger, author of the only surviving eyewitness account, described a sudden explosion followed by blankets of ash that fell on people as they tried to escape. The total number of Vesuvius’ victims will most likely never be known, but archeologists are aware of at least 1,000” (http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2014572_2014574_2014626,00.html).

I went to an exhibit on Pompeii and stood in awe as I realized how many of those lives lost could have been avoided.  Some people ran back to get their possessions, like jewels and money …So, here they lie:

It’s kind of creepy, isn’t it?

I worry about myself in an emergency situation, that I would run back into the house to get my beloved wallet…I suppose this might be classified as “Worldly love…” or “insanity”…it’s a fine line…

So, now that we have set up how we humanoids are basically the same throughout the ages, back to the sermon…

‘Tis hard letting people in especially when seen from Mother Teresa’s perspective.  She wisely notes, ““People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centred.  Love them anyway.”  (Apparently, she adopted her phrases from Kent Keith’s original.)

But it’s much easier to retreat, which is my personal preference and favorite response.

Enter love…

I think the world craves the love God offers.  It is unconditional.  It is a saving love. It is full of grace, compassion, kindness, but also speaks the truth … it is not a superficial love, one of red roses and beautiful words.

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day/Thou art more lovely and more temperate” (via Sonnet 18, by Shakespeare.)  Sigh…

Stephen J. Cole writes, “In 1 John 2:3-6, the apostle gives a test by which you can know that you truly know Jesus Christ, namely, if you walk in obedience to His word. In 2:6, he states, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Then, in 2:7-11, John goes on to apply this test of obedience more specifically to the area of love. If Jesus’ life and especially His death epitomized love, then those who claim to follow Him are obligated to live in love.”

When I first came back to church many years ago, I went to an event here in Ottawa.  It was a gathering of the churches to worship God. While I sat there, I saw a white man standing a little ways away from me, and then I saw a black man, with a big smile on his face and vice- versa.  They greeted and hugged each other.    Given our culture, it seemed odd to me that a white man and a black man could be so genuinely loving toward one another.

It was like there was a big spotlight on these two men, and I was the spectator of this scene.  I imagined the one saying to the other, “How are you?  It’s been so long since I have seen you.  It’s so wonderful to see you here.”  They were brothers in Christ.

Personally, I value unity.

So, for me, coming back to church, God knew what seed to plant in my heart.  What these two Christian men showed me was that there was something different about Christianity.

It made me curious, and begged the question, “Who is this Jesus?”

For those of us who claim to follow Him, one thing is pretty clear,  we are “obligated” to live in love.

Stephen J. Cole gives us some practical examples of what “Biblical” love looks like:

  • Put others first – other’s feelings/rights/needs/interests
  • Build others up with your words
  • Practice loving deeds – look for opportunities to serve others
  • Pray for those who persecute you, “28 Bless those who curse you./Pray for those who hurt you…” (Luke 6:28)

The good news:  Cole reminds us that “growing in love for others is a lifelong process,” which is great because I’ll probably need all the extra time I can get!

Another song – All You Need is Love

God bless,

Ellie

Down with Computers!

Hello!

I realize the irony in the title as I type these words to you, my loyal readers.

Thank you, by the way, for taking time to read my blog.  I do appreciate you all, whoever you all are…I know there’s a ton of other things you could be doing, but you take time out of your busy schedules to read my random thoughts and rantings!

So, here’s today’s rant brought to you by Microsoft and HP:

I hate them both!

Okay, I don’t really hate them both.  Maybe just HP.

This was Ellie on a Sunday morning (not good)!

I soon realized I should have braved the ice rain and went to church after all.

But, I do think that Bill Gates, as an act of charity, should give each individual, not businesses, at least 1 million dollars for stress caused by faulty man-made machines, and incompetent help desk technicians, not to mention how I was just the victim of an attempted scam…

Yeah, I said it, so sue me!  The scammer was not Microsoft.

Here’s the deal in case I have not written about it.  Who can remember?

My computer died back in the beginning of December.  I took it in to be fixed and the company who will remain nameless, Geek-At-Chew-Squad, sent it back without reactivating Windows.

When my computer prompted me to Activate Windows, I thought it had to do with Microsoft Office, which for your information,I have just re-purchased and probably did not need to…

That said, the Activation Key is located on the bottom side of my laptop, as per the HP technician, “But,” he said, “This would probably not work.”

Well, “Miracle of miracles”, to steal a quote/song from one of my favorite musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof”, it worked.

I do confess I was praying “in the Name of Jesus, you better damn well work”…Is it okay to pray in the name of Jesus and swear in the same breath?  I mean, it’s not like I was cursing Jesus, just the computer, and maybe Microsoft’s software…

All, I can say is “Hallelujah”!  I am now up and running…again…I hope!

So, if you do not hear from me ever again, it is only because the computer had a melt-down, which led to Ellie’s melt-down, which led to my throwing my Windows out the window.  How’s that for irony?

Take that Shakespeare and Milton and Dickens!

I hope you will enjoy “Miracle of Miracles”.  He’s so adorable!!!

God bless,

Ellie

 

Happy New Year

Hello there!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

Me either…I mean, why bother?  We’re just going to break them by about the second week of January.

Last week I heard a sermon preached at my church.  I liked the ending the best, and not because it was finally over.  That said, I wondered about something as I walked home from church.

When a baby sleeps through the whole church service, the baby is being “good”, but when I sleep through the whole church service, why am I “bad”?

Anyone?

Right,  back to the blog.  The sermon was essentially about sowing and reaping.  At the end of it, we were told to “sow seeds of love, kindness…”

Sowing seeds of love seemed simple and practical.  It sounded like something even I might be able to handle.

I have been preparing a sermon I will preach shortly.  It is about “Walking in light…about being a blessing to others…about loving others well.”

So, I hope you’ll forgive me if I use you as my guinea pig and ‘preach’ a little bit.  I would like to get some thoughts together on this loving people well business.

I don’t know about you, but I find it really easy to love people who are easy to love.  The difficulty comes, well, when difficulty comes.

Stephen J. Cole, in an article at Bible.org, tells us that we ought to practice maintaining relationships.

That’s the hard part.

The easy part?  Well, I have yet to figure that out.

You see, while I do not feel like I “hate” anyone, I find it difficult, given my lack of patience, not to mention my temperament, to love others really well.

I am a “feeler”, which is brutal.  The opposite of “feeler” according to Myers Briggs is “thinker”.

The “thinkers” definitely have it on us “feelers”.  Thinkers are logical.

Let’s say someone does not respond to an email, “thinkers” assume it could be that the recipient has just not received the email, or is busy… Or rather, maybe I should say “thinkers” do not assume at all.  It is us “feelers” that do that.

We assume the world is ending.  Clearly, we have offended the person to whom we have addressed our email, and the person hates us, and not just hates us, but really, really, really hates us.  So much so, that the person, who used to be one of our good friends (notice, I have already used the term “used to be”) will not even respond letting us know that the friendship is over.  We are to assume it by his or her silence.

And, assume it we do!

There is another matter of grave consequence to be added here.  Under no circumstance should a “feeler” consult another “feeler” when a crisis arises.  This will only lead to the second “feeler” affirming what the first “feeler” is feeling…understood?

How’s that for clear, concise writing?  I learned them skills first year University in a little class called, “Writing Themes About Literature”.

So, now in light of the above, how do we love others well?  How do we walk in light?

It would be too much to go into in one blog posting, especially since I just wasted an awful lot of your time, BUT, here a few ideas from my good friend, Mr. Cole:

  • Put others first – i.e., other’s feelings/rights/needs/interests above your own
  • Build others up with your words – speak words of encouragement, do not tear other’s down
  • Practice loving deeds – look for opportunities to serve others at work, at play, at school

I think that’s about all I can handle for one January 1st.  I am sure there will be plenty more of this nonsense throughout the coming year.

Wishing you a very blessed and prosperous 2015 – As the Apostle John said, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 1:2, ESV).

Blessings!

Ellie

PS – And for God’s sake, please have a little sympathy for us “feelers” in 2015…  Thank you!