Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You are finally home

I know, I know. I should be working, not blogging. But as I've researched Harry Lehotsky's life and watched his Final Words video played at his funeral (go to to watch) it got me thinking about my own funeral and I felt like telling someone about it.

I'm thinking, what a great idea. I'm definitely the type that would tape myself so I could speak at my own funeral. I can't imagine being at the last big event of my life and not talking! But what would my background music be?

Rev. Lehotsky's video was set to the song that goes, "Carry your candle. Run to the darkness. Seek out the helpless, confused and torn. Hold out your candle for all to see it. Take your candle, go light your world." Which fits his life to a tee.

I've always thought I'd like the Big Daddy Weave song "Neighborhoods" at my funeral:

Cause you know one day I will fly to my mansion in the sky
And I'll have no regrets when I leave this place for good
When I say my last farewell, oh, please don't forget to tell them
That I'm not really dead I'm just changing neighborhoods

I imagine people getting up and grooving to the beat, celebrating my life and my arrival with Jesus in one giant celebratory bootyshake. (Like that funeral scene on Ally McBeal that still makes me want to pee myself laughing everytime I think about it.) But my family is so Mennonite, you could fill their pants with caffeinated ferrets and they stand perfectly still, so that's probably not going to happen.

Last week I read Ted Dekker's novel The Martyr's Song, about a Bosnian priest tortured by a group of bitter soldiers during WW II. As he slips closer to death he slides between our world and the spiritual kingdom, where he hears Jesus and all the children in heaven singing this song:

Sing, O child of Zion; Shout, O child of mine;
Rejoice with all your heart and soul and mind.
Every tear you cried dried in the palm of my hand;
Every lonely hour was by my side.
Every loved one lost, every river crossed,
Every moment, every hour was pointing to this day,
Longing for this day...You are finally home

Wow, that's beautiful. The moment before my Oma passed away 8 years ago my mom says her eyes shot wide open. I don't know what she saw, but I'm thinking she heard the song too. Or maybe Jesus wrote a special one, just for her.

I feel so blessed to get to know Harry Lehotsky through his video, his writings, and his friends. I wish I had had the chance to meet him while he was alive. But then again, the pastor who fought for the West End isn't really dead - he just changed neighbourhoods.

Like Harry said at the end of his video, "I'm thankful for where I'm going and I just pray that I get to see many more of you again. I guess that's what it all comes down to. Not just to goodbyes, but to see you again. And bless each one of you as you find your way there."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cover Shot

I'm certifiably crazy...or at least I will be by the end of the week!

This week I have 2 stories due for Christian Week, a doctor's appointment, a birthday party, a meeting...the list goes on. And to top it off I just accepted a 2500 word assignment - a cover story on Rev. Harry Lehotsky's courage in life and death for Beyond Ordinary Living magazine.

My very first feature story!

I would say this is a God-sized project, but then I'm not sure whether God endorses self-inflicted insanity. Never mind, I know God wants Harry's fight for inner city hope and justice to live on even more than I do.

The question is: where does God want to take Angeline?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

My inner child dries her tears and breaks a sweat

Some people need a shot of courage to step on a plane or to step up to the mic. It took all the guts I had to...walk into a gym.

I realize that sounds pathetic, but for whatever reason the first time I made it as far as the lobby, saw all the women in workout wear turn and look at me, ran back to my car and cried. I wanted to use my coupon for one free month membership, but I was having flashbacks of high school gym class.

My inner Mennonite was fighting with my inner child. Not a pretty scene.

Here's a snapshot from my teenage athletic career. The gym teacher is handing out awards for agility and sportsmanship. At the end of the presentation he calls me to the front of the class, shakes my hand and gives me a cracked ping pong ball for having the worst hand-eye coordination he has ever seen. (Of course that was nothing compared to the names he called the overweight boy with the bottle rim glasses. I shudder.)

But my inner Mennonite didn't give up. I called Curves, explained my phobia of exercising in public and made an appointment to meet with them. I was so afraid I would sit down backwards on the equipment or something and look goofy. Seriously, as they were showing me how to use the machines I felt like the fans were sucking me towards the exit. (I'm the reason they call it "resistance training.") It took all my concentration not to cry.

I'm guessing that's how some people feel about walking into a church. What if I laugh when I'm supposed to look serious? What if I sing when I'm supposed to listen? Or stand when I'm supposed to sit? What if everyone stares at what I'm wearing?

High school snapshot #2: I'm playing basketball. Someone passes me the ball and I actually catch the thing! I start dribbling towards the hoop. I have a clear path and no one can stop me. I think, "I can't succeed at this. That would completely mess up who I think I am." So I trip myself and land face down with my string of plastic beads caught in my mouth. My team groans, the bleachers roar and order is restored to the universe.

On the wall at Curves there's a stencil that reads It's not who we are that holds us back, but who we think we're not.

I've done a complete workout by myself three times this week. The moisture on my face was 100% sweat, 0% tears. No one stared at or criticized me. In fact, last time I ran into a friend and we did the circuit together. I feel more energetic and I'm checking my hips and thighs in the mirror with expectation. I'm actually starting to wish I could afford to join after my free month is over!

If there's something you've been thinking of trying, like taking a course, changing jobs, visiting a church, or dating a farmer, don't let who you think you're not hold you back. You might be pleasantly surprised.

You might even meet a friend.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

the clothes make the man

"If anyone is in Christ he (she) is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17.)

I love the concept behind Tim Allen's movie The Santa Clause. A not so cool dad puts on a Santa suit and he BECOMES Santa. From that day on he can't stop his beard from growing, his hair from whitening or his belly from bulging. (Or obnoxious elves from ringing the doorbell.)

He doesn't understand everything he's signed up for, but that doesn't change the facts: one decision has completely transformed his life, inside and out.

It's not just a costume; it's an identity.

Some days I feel like I'm just "putting on" my faith. Sure I can tell you how to find peace with God, just as soon as I stop yelling at my kids, fuming about my husband, and worrying about my bank statement! I have to admit: I've met the Peacemaker, but I don't always feel the peace.

The Bible says "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus" and I'm thinking putting on Jesus is like wearing Tim Allen's Santa suit. The moment I decided to invite Jesus to control my life he gave me a new identity and he began transforming me into my destiny.

That means even when I feel like I'm still too messed up to be of any good, and I wonder why God would want to be seen with me, he's not giving up on me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A makeover story

I have always loved makeovers, long before The Learning Channel and Life Network made them popular entertainment. I wore out the pages of my teen magazine's "Win a New Look contest" issue. I studied the "before" and "after" pictures, imagining with each haircut I got that I would walk into school a "new me," never to be teased again.

Of course, that never happened. Still, part of me believes the fairy tale.

I'm not a fan of the new "extreme makeovers" that involve multiple surgeries and megabucks. I'm more fascinated by the magic a well-trained eye can create with just a few highlights and the right shade of lipgloss.

I used to think the more I became like Jesus the more colour would drain out of my personality. Afterall don't we refer to obscene language and bizarre behaviour as "colourful?" Who wants to be good if it means dreaming in pastels?

I had a wild experience with God this week. One night I was feeling so blah that I thought, "I better stay home because in this state I'm going to just be a big drain on my friends." But I went out anyway.

While we were talking I prayed that Jesus' love would reach others through my words, tone of voice, facial expression, and touch. When everyone got up for food I walked up to a friend, who started to say something like, "How was your day?" and then burst into tears. She said it was the way I looked at her - she could feel the way I cared.

And I hadn't even felt up to leaving the house.

God took my tired face, added a little of his sparkle to my eyes and gave me a mini-makeover. All I had to do was ask.

If a God like that doesn't inspire me to dream in dazzling colour, I don't know what will!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

There's my G!

There are gifts and then there are Gifts.

A midsize car with sunroof and heated leather seats would fall into the "capital G" category.

My car had one tire firmly planted in Buggy heaven, and my parents just upgraded to a brand new 4 door truck, so they gave me their car. And it's quite the car.

I'm not into parading around in status symbols. I feel really weird planting my tattered jeans on those leather seats and waving at neighbours with my holey mittens as I drive by in my gleaming gold car.

I couldn't afford it, can't earn it, don't deserve it.

Kind of like God's Gift of Grace.

My friend Deb (the one who got my through my second pregnancy in one piece) came into town this week, so I gave her a ride in my new car. As she played with all the cool buttons, we talked about how Gifts of that magnitude can be humbling to accept. When we don't earn something it doesn't fit with our sense of what's fair or sensible (in a good way, of course!).

Deb and I drove to our favorite coffee shop. When I handed the clerk my "buy 1o drinks get one free" punchcard, she crossed out 4 squares.

I was confused. I questioned. I argued (with that signature "puzzled" expression people find so cute on me plastered across my face).

Until the lunacy of it hit me: I'm asking for fairness. She didn't make a mistake - she's giving me a gift!

G. is learning to print her name, so whenever we're driving around she'll scan the passing signs and yell, "There's my G!"

How would life be different if we all kept our eyes peeled for signs of God's overwhelming Grace? And then shared them with others with a jubilant, "That's my G!!!"?

If you want to share your answer with me, you'll have to call my cell. I'll be out reading a novel in the driveway with my seat warmers set on high.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Somewhere between the dead squirrel and the angry tai chi master I felt the love

We went to our first Autism Society parent support group meeting this week.

Their regular meeting room smelled like a squirrel died in the heating duct (I took their word for it), so we set up 30 chairs in the hallway. We faced each other knee to knee and yelled from one end of the corridor to the other.

"Hi, I'm Bonnie and I have an autistic son."
All: "Hi, Bonnie!"
Bonnie: "What? I can't hear you at this end!"

It only took a few minutes for the Tai Chi and American Sign Language groups next door to kick us into a photocoping room.

As we dragged our chairs around the building everyone kept saying, "It's not usually like this," so I had to ask, "Does that mean Bonnie is normally serious?"


People came from so many different situations. There were foster parents, grandparents, newly diagnosed parents, parents caring for nonverbal adults or precocious toddlers, linked by the shared experience of being different. Speaking a common language. Walking together in the fog called Autism. (Okay, I'm getting carried away, it's not like we sang Kumbaya or anything.)

But by the end of the evening other parents were offering to drop off resources and giving me their number in case I ever needed a shoulder. That kind of support works for me.

I hope one day soon I'll feel strong enough to be a support to them too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I'm all ears

I bring a story on tape to supper every night. His name is K. and he didn't come with a pause button or volume control. It can be difficult for his little sister G. to get a word in. Sometimes when that happens she'll turn red, pound her fists on the table and yell:

"You're not nisselling!"

It's hard to keep a straight face in the presence of such unbelievable cuteness.

I know God is worlds more patient than a 4 year old, but I wonder if he sometimes feels the same way about me. I'm giving him my sad stories, but am I taking time to listen?

I've been dealing with fatigue the last few weeks. Not sure whether I need a doctor, a counselor or a Palm Springs vacation. (But if anyone wants to buy me a plane ticket, I'll take that as a sign from heaven!)

I remember one day this summer asking God, "What do you see when you look at me?"

In my mind I heard, "You are a daisy."

What?? I knew I hadn't made that up because it made no sense to me.

When I asked him "Why?" he answered, "On the outside, your petals are fragile. Sometimes they blow off easily. But no matter how many times life cuts you down you always grow back."

Wow. I could sure use an encouragement like that right now. Meet me here, God, in the middle of my weakness.

Your child is nisselling.