Friday, November 25, 2011

Good Blog

Found a really good blog today - Touching Paper. Check it out.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mad love

The habit of moralizing spoils religion. Personal responsibility to an inviolable moral code replaces personal response to God's loving call. Moralism and its step-child, legalism, reduce the love story of God for his people to the observance of burdensome duties and oppressive laws. 
- Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins

I feel like my Christian life has been a series of "do's and don'ts". What is right and what is not right. What a Christian should behave like, where she should be seen, what she should be doing. No one really focused on the mad love of God. That mad love that would make Him forgive, and come after us, and die for us. Something is missing in the way we have understood Christianity. I can't remember a sermon that conveyed this mad passion to me. I remember guilt, and correction, and what God is expecting, but not the madness of Christ. This way of living doesn't make us lovers. It makes us practical. And Christianity is not practical really. We're missing the point if we thing it is. I think... if we've accepted Christ we will have "eternal life" ... in the way we perceive it. If we should live under the law it is our loss. If we should to be married to rules, and duties, and ritual, it is our loss. If we choose to be anxious, even when Jesus said, "Don't be anxious", it is our loss. If we choose to live by grace, in the freedom of a crazy crazy love... well, then that is life! Eternal, abundant life!

Friday, November 11, 2011

4 years...

I started blogging in November 2007. This is my first post... Choosing to be Happy. And now, 4 years later... Learning to be Joyful. In between are 4 years of living, learning, crying, laughing, despair, hope, sadness and joy. In between are many many blog posts, about 6 blogs and a lot of work. It's interesting that I started my blog with Choosing to be Happy. I think for a lot of my life this has been a central issue. I want to be happy. Why can't I be happy? And through a process of learning to be honest with myself, getting help, learning to love myself, learning to love God, learning to trust God, learning about grace, experiencing God's grace and love... I have moved from wanting to be happy to wanting to be Joyful. And indeed, wanting to be more like Jesus.
I'm glad I started blogging... I go back often to my posts... just to see where I've been. What lessons I have learned. How I learned them. And it makes something very clear to me... that the most important lessons in life are learned over time and through difficult circumstances. It is a journey, it is a struggle, it is clawing our way up many pits - of despair, of fear, of anxiety, of loss, of grief, of lovelessness, of hate, of anger, of guilt - but we must claw our way up. And with God's help, we will.

At Starbucks

We met our friend at Starbucks, North of Yonge and Bloor. This is my first time in a Starbucks but more than the Hot Chocolate I was really happy to be in the store. Well, happy and sad in some ways. The Starbucks used to be a book shop - Albert Britnell Book Shop. It seems like the book shop must have had some character. I loved the layout, the tiled floors, and the wood. Starbucks has a lot of pictures of the book shop on their walls and the original sign on the front wall. And I think the door might also be from back then. I'm glad they left it that way and keep the memory alive in some sense. Though I would have much preferred if the book shop were still around.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Learning to be joyful

A fringe benefit for the believer en route to higher Christian consciousness is that ninety-nine percent of the emotional suffering caused by his addictive programming to security, sensation, and power disappears from his daily dance.
-Brennan Manning, Reflections for Ragamuffins

The day before I read this I had been to Alpha and Nicky Gumbel was talking about being salt and light to the world. And I think we normally think of being salt and light in what we do. We help other people, we work for the poor, we donate to charity, we become full-time ministers, we preach the gospel, we teach in the church and so on. I think all of this is valid and good and necessary. But I also think that it is important to look at who we are and not just what we do. In modern life who we are is defined by what we do. I believe that we must make the separation once again. 

I think after my 29th year I began to focus more on who I was.  Up until then, like everybody else, what I did defined me completely. My job was so important to who I thought I was. If I was involved with social work I felt like my life had some meaning. I was helping make the world a better place and that was who I was. If I was doing well at my job and getting good reviews I would feel good about myself. The minute I was unsure of what I was doing I would think that I was good for nothing. This became so bad that it was eating me alive. And at 29 I was done. I thought I was wasting space on the face of the earth and that I really was never going to be good at anything. But slowly, very slowly, I changed focus.

Yes, I found something to do - quilt. But I think I found something more than that. I decided to be honest with myself and let myself be who I was. I began to see what I really liked and disliked, what I wanted and did not want, what excited me and what did not. And then it was no longer necessary for me to be a super woman. I did not have to be successful in the way the world saw it. I wanted to be happy and enjoy my life. Not in a mindless, get piss drunk and sleep around kind of way, but really enjoy the things about life that make me happy. Trees, and sunshine, and blue sky, and birds, and family, dogs, friends, music, fabric, sewing, movies... little things that I feel add to my existence. For me, having a fancy job and making a lot of money, I knew would not take away my despair. Sure I'd like to have money... but not at the cost of not being able to enjoy the other things.

So I retreated. And now I focus on building up who I am. And moving here has really helped me with this. I can see God working on me. I truly can. I was looking through my prayer journal and found on the 16th of March 2011:

Dear God, being a Christian is actually a really difficult way of life. I'm not sure what it looks like yet but it seems like there is more sacrifice, and pain and loss than there is joy. But I guess we are supposed to feel joy through all of that. How can one do that? It's not something that comes easily to us. I suppose that is why we need the Spirit. We cannot be Christians without the Spirit. Lord teach me. Send your Spirit. Amen.

And on the 28th of October:

Can I be a joyful person? Can I be light? How does one do this? I think I must force myself to be this person... I mean... push myself out of my negative thoughts and despair...

I decided that day that I was going to be a joyful person. See I believe that people should see Jesus in you. If people are really able to see Jesus... can they deny Him? And as much as what we do is important... and can be salt and light... there is another light. A light that comes from inside of us. I have seen this light in maybe one or two people. They are people you are drawn to. People you want to be around. People you want to be like. People who remind you of Jesus. I want to be someone like that. And I think... the way to do it... is to have the fruits of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
- Galatians 5:22-23
For most of my Christian life I felt that these fruits of the Spirit should just come to you... like a sudden change... a switch that gets turned on. Now I think it takes work. It takes work. We learn to love, we learn to be patient, we have to learn self-control... why should we not learn joy? Does joy come naturally to us. Well, to some I suppose but not to me. And when I look back on life I think I also cultivated a way of being that fearful, anxious, sad, gloomy, negative. If I spent time building this person, I need to spend time tearing her down and building another person. A new creation. And this, most certainly, the work of the Spirit. It does not happen overnight. It does not happen in some magical way... it has to be worked on. You have to claw your way from the pit of despair to hope, and life, and joy. And God is right there with you, holding you up, pulling you up, right beside you. 

I always thought, why am I not joyful? Why can't I stop worrying? Why am I afraid? Why can't I believe? Why can't I trust? And I thought this was because I was a bad Christian. Not good enough. So God has not blessed me with these things. But I see now that it takes work. Trust takes work. Love, faith, joy... takes work. And if you ask God to teach these things to you, He will. Be sure He will. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011


When I was growing up in India I'd so want to be in a place that had all the four seasons. I wanted to see snow and I wanted to see the colors of the trees during fall. I love trees. I love watching them, standing under them, touching the bark, collecting leaves, watching birds... I think the world should have more trees. And so I'm very grateful to be able to actually see so many trees and so many trees in the fall. :)

This is the tree outside our house. It was green a week ago and now its all yellow.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A City Within a Park

Toronto has so many beautiful parks and woods right in the city. We have one close to home and I can't say how happy it makes me to be able to be footsteps away from something so beautiful.

 The park is a ravine and goes on for so long! So much space.

 I journal a great deal. Well mostly this is a prayer journal. I daresay I have said Thank You to God more over the past few weeks than I have for a long time now.