Monthly Archives: June 2014

Life Outside the Mold

Dear Pope Francis,

The Wansee House

The Wansee House in Berlin, Germany, where leaders in the Nazi party gathered to discuss the Final Solution for the extermination of the Jews in January 1942

I want to start this letter with a quote: “Don’t be scared of what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure you do things differently from everyone else” (Sara Blakely). I found this quote when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the night I got back from my European adventure.

I don’t have very many words to share about my trip yet. There are moments that stand out clearly in my mind, like standing among the ruins of the Crematorium and fields where bodies were burned at Auschwitz II-Birkeneau, standing outside the cell where Maximillian Kolbe was starved in Auschwitz I, and sitting in the same room at Wansee House where the decision was made to move forward with the extermination of the Jews as the Nazi’s Final Solution. The trip was entirely surreal, and I would go back again in a heartbeat.

I have to admit that I was a little bit scared before I left. I didn’t know anyone else going on the trip, and while this was mostly an exciting fact, I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t get along with anyone. I was worried about how I would handle being in these places of death, how I’d cope with the language barrier while abroad, and what would happen if I lost my luggage.

I am glad that I didn’t back out because of my worries. Like the quote I started with said, going on this trip, and doing any number of other things means that I am living a unique life. I am not living a life that fits the standard mold, and I’m happy about that, even when it means that I have do things outside of my comfort zone.

While I was away, I spent a lot of time thinking about life, especially the lives that were lost in the Holocaust, and then about my own. I wondered what those people who died would have done if their lives hadn’t been cut short. I wondered what I could do with mine in the time I have left. It’s a depressing way to put it, but I was reflecting on this near the crematoriums of Auschwitz II-Birkeneau, not exactly an uplifting place.

On my way home from the airport after the trip, I was thinking about life again, and everything I had experienced. As I tried to articulate my half-formed thoughts, I remembered a goal that I had set in grade 12. One afternoon, I printed a map of Europe and then coloured in the countries that I wanted to visit, including Germany and Poland. Along the edges I wrote down some of the things I wanted to do while I was there, which included seeing the Berlin wall and the Auschwitz concentration camps. It was incredibly humbling to realize that as a result of this trip, I had crossed those things off of my bucket list.

Accomplishing these two things, and knowing that I am almost done of another big goal – completing my M.Div. has me thinking a lot about what I want to do in the future, and where I feel I am being called. God has been frustratingly quiet in the last little while, but I continue to work with what I know. Most importantly, I try to quell the fear when it comes bubbling up, because I know that it has the power to paralyze me, and if that happens then I will never move forward, and that’s not helpful either.

Putting one foot in front of the other,

Lauren

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Hope in the Christian Life

apples and oranges Dear Pope Francis,
I’m always intrigued when people tell me that life with Christ is easier than life without Christ. In fact, I’ve been hearing it a lot lately, and it really started to irritate me. I don’t want to compare which one is easier or harder, because I think that it’s like comparing apples and oranges, each have their highs and their lows. I do think it’s a mistake to say that a Christian life is flat out easier.

Believe it or not, there was a period of about two years during my BA when I more or less fell away from the Church. The fact that I didn’t turn into a wild party girl during that time probably had a lot more to do with my personality rather than the unconscious presence of Catholic guilt. By pop culture standards, I was still pretty tame, but I was decidedly not practicing my faith. I wasn’t going to Mass at all, and not really praying. I wouldn’t say that I felt lost or unsure about what I was doing with my life. Sure, I was a little self-conscious and unsure of myself, but who isn’t at twenty-years-old. I worried about boys, how I looked and my plans for the upcoming weekend. For the most part, I thought I knew exactly who I was and where I was going with my life, and things were good. Based on the conversations I’ve had with other people around the same age, I was pretty normal. Then, the summer between my second and third year of my BA, I had a bumpy patch in my life. I realized that the things that I thought were making me happy, weren’t actually helpful, and I needed to fix it. It was at this point that I realized that I needed my faith in God.

Fast-forward four years, as I finish up the second year of my M.Div. I am practicing my faith more regularly than I ever have in my life. I go to Mass at least once a week, and usually twice per week. I pray almost daily, and get spiritual direction monthly. For the most part, I still enjoy the same genres of movies, books, jokes and music that I did four years ago. I still worry about mostly the same things: boys, how I look and what my plans are for the weekend. I have more confidence in myself. While that confidence could arguably come from an increase in maturity, there are still many days when I am self-conscious. And despite actively practicing my faith, the last few months have been very rocky, comparable to the summer between my second and third year of my BA. I am realizing that there are things in my life that simply aren’t life-giving anymore, and they need to be pruned, either cut back or dropped entirely, in order to make space for new things in my life.Don't let go

I still struggle with very much the same problems now that I am practicing my faith again as I did when I wasn’t really practicing. The key difference is how I talk about and handle the problems. Four years ago, I didn’t have a faith language that let me really get at the heart of what was going on in my life, that God was pruning the things that were no longer giving me life. I also didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it either. As a result of my faith, I am using that language to describe the events of the last two months, and I have several trusted people who I talk to about it regularly. But being able to name what’s happening doesn’t make the process any easier! It still hurts (a lot!) and there are many days when I’m anxious and worried because I don’t know what’s coming next. The emotional highs and lows are comparable. Surprisingly, how I deal with them is about the same as well: I dig deep inside myself to find inner strength, while simultaneously reaching out for support. Now that support comes from prayer and spiritual conversations with friends and my spiritual director. Before, it came from venting and camaraderie with my friends.

So, my problems aren’t necessarily any easier, and how I cope isn’t much different, which begs the question: what does faith have to do with any of this? Aside from the fact that it gives me a way to make sense of and talk about my struggles, the most important thing my faith gives me is hope. I cling to hope for dear life sometimes, as it sputters and flickers and slips through my fingers. Sometimes, I can’t explain how I manage to hang on, except that it is pure grace. It never fixes the problems or any easier to bear, but it helps me make sense of them.

Hanging on to hope,
Lauren

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Bridges to Community

Dear Pope Francis,

People live in community with each other all over the place. We have communities at work and school, and if you live in a big enough city there’s a group for enthusiasts of every hobby under the sun. This isn’t even getting started on all the communities available through message boards on the Internet.

Living in community is how we’re meant to be. Despite what Simon and Garfunkel might say, no [hu]man is an island. And even if someone thinks they are, they’re still in the archipelago.

My maternal grandmother has a cottage in Spider Bay. Along the route to the island there’s a couple which are located close together and owned by the same family. Sometime in the distant past when such things were still legal, the owner of the islands built a footbridge across the narrow but not impassable channel between them. (Side note: how do I NOT have a photo of those bridges to illustrate my point?)

Sitting on the dock with my siblings and some of my cousins, 2007

I’ve been thinking a lot about that bridge the last day or two. If the owners didn’t maintain it properly, the bridge would eventually collapse and the two islands wouldn’t be connected anymore. Beyond severing the physical connection of the islands, it would also damage the surrounding eco system with the broken wood and nails which would fall into the lake and be hazard to boaters and the wildlife in the area. If they wanted to rebuild the bridge again, it would take a lot more work because they’d have to do all the cleanup of the old bridge before they could start construction of a new one.

Human communities are the same. With moving home to my parents I’ve been immersed back in to the community of my immediate family. My family is big on reading and board games. The year Rachel was born my mother made my bedtime later than my siblings’ and taught me how to play some of her favourite games. Every night after the others had been put to bed, she and I would sit at the table and play backgammon or cribbage or scrabble. I remember getting whooped most of the time when we played, but I also remember laughing with my Mom and knowing that for that one uninterrupted hour every day – unless Rachel woke up or Dad called – she was mine.

scrabble_boxRachel turned thirteen a couple of weeks ago, and I gave her Scrabble for her birthday so she and I could play together. Mom usually joins us, and she usually wins. But the three of us sit around the table and laugh because BUTT is worth 27 points if you play it in the right spot and butts are funny.

To get back to the bridge metaphor, spending time with my sister in the evenings is part of the regular maintenance needed to keep that bridge safe and intact.

With Lauren being away in Europe for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been lonely for company my own age. This weekend was really good because I met a bunch of new people when I went to work; but the people I’ve been thinking about are the friends from high school who I have on Facebook but haven’t really seen since I left for New Brunswick five years ago.

There hasn’t been anything hugely dramatic to break the bridges apart, but I’ve been deferring the maintenance long enough that it’s going to take some serious work on my part to repair the bridges enough to be able to bear any kind of load.

Being aware of how little attention I’ve paid to these friends since high school makes me nervous about even sending a message announcing that I’ve returned and want to see people. I really haven’t kept in touch, and I’m not even totally sure who is in the area still and who has moved away for careers and family. Frankly, I’m a little worried they all think I’ve become a religious nut since I don’t post much on Facebook except for links to this blog.

Got to start sometime though right?

Rebuilding bridges,

Meredith

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Evangelizing the Culture

Dear Pope Francis,

evangelization

An effective form of evangelization?

Evangelization – it’s become a bit of a buzz-word lately. People are talking about how important it is to talk about faith with other people. I’ve been thinking about this whole idea of sharing my faith with other people. It’s not that I have a problem with sharing my faith with people. I realize that I will be talking about faith with people for the foreseeable future, since I am studying theology and hope to get into ministry professionally after I finish school.

My challenge with evangelization comes with how I share my faith. So often when people think of Christian evangelization, they think of the stereotype of a gentleman on the street corner shoving pamphlets at you, or perhaps the mega-church pastor standing on a stage yelling into a microphone that Satan is alive, and the thousands of people listening need to know Jesus in order to be saved. I’m all for public speaking, and talking to people on the street, but about the other person’s faith life and their need to be saved? Not so much.

My hesitation to start the conversation in these contexts is not that I want Christianity to be exclusively for a few people, and more to do with the fact that I don’t think faith is something that can be forced on someone. That is precisely what I feel is happening when someone is shoving pamphlets at people or yelling into a microphone. At best, it seems they are trying to cajole people into having faith, or worst, it may seem like forcing the faith down someone’s throat. I hope the people listening don’t choke and spit the faith out entirely.

Recently, I came across one of your quotes, which said: “The Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.” Your idea, makes evangelization action-based, not word-focused. This is a method of evangelization that I can relate to. It’s not about forcing people to come to my faith before I will talk with them, it’s about being with other people, helping them as best I can in their struggles.

What I like best about this understanding of evangelization is that I don’t necessarily have to say a word about Jesus, my actions and way of being with the person will speak louder than any words I can say. Again, it’s not that I am avoiding the conversation about faith. Instead, I can let the person whom I am working with open the conversation, if they feel so inclined. If they do, my words will be backed up by actions, and I will have an existing relationship with the person, which can help the other person be more open to what I say. This also leaves room for the Holy Spirit to work in the person. I cannot force the work of the Holy Spirit to convert a person, but I can be open to how the Spirit is working in someone and in my relationship with them.

Another important element of this understanding of evangelization is that it doesn’t dictate how and when the Holy Spirit will work and/or the conversation may arose. If the conversation can only happen in the mega-church’s worship service or on the street corner, than we ignore the valid work that the Holy Spirit is doing in school hallways, the mall, and the car. school hallwaysThis brings to mind a lengthy, anonymous* quote that made the Facebook rounds last winter. I tried to paraphrase, but the original is so powerful:

“We need saints without cassocks, without veils – we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. We need saints that go to the movies, that listen to music, that hang out with their friends. We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career. We need saints that look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things. We need saints – saints for the 21st century with a spirituality appropriate to our new time. We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change. We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it. We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends. We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theater. We need saints that are open sociable normal happy companions. We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane. We need saints.”

Canadian popculture

Embracing Canadian culture

Although the quote talks about the need for saints, I think we can substitute some form of ‘evangelism’ for ‘saint’. I like this quote so much because it captures the importance of practicing your own faith, but also the importance of being part of the culture. I’m not saying that we need to embrace everything in the culture, but I do think that in order to evangelize to this culture, we need to be open to where the Holy Spirit is already working. We cannot have a conversation about faith, especially with people who may not believe at all, without recognizing that there are cultural influences.

As a person going into ministry, I need to balance my theological education with a cultural one. I need to make sure that I pull my head out of my books and prayer long enough to go live: watch a movie or the latest episode of my favourite show, read a book or blog post completely unrelated to face, or go for a hike (this is starting to sound like my post about getting out of my Catholic Bubble). This doesn’t mean that I throw away my faith entirely, but it does mean that I engage the culture through my faith, and then my life becomes evangelization.

Choosing a new (non-theology) book to read,

Lauren

*Author’s Note: The quote has been attributed to both Pope Francis and Saint John Paul II, but I can’t find a reliable source attributing it to either. I have also seen it described as a poem.

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The volunteer industry

Dear Pope Francis,

Ask and you shall receive. I got hired as a server with a local catering company yesterday and as long as I do well tonight and tomorrow they’ll keep scheduling me. I’m pretty sure it’s just part time, but it’s such a relief to have a job again and know I’ll have some income.

As an aspiring writer interested in ministry, looking for work sometimes feels like an exercise in futility. Most of the jobs I really want to be doing want more training or experience and the only way to get the experience without spending more money I don’t have on education is by volunteering. I like volunteering my time with the church and not-for-profits and I think the experience from volunteering is hugely valuable in terms of getting experience for a career and even more so in terms of personal growth.

What’s been a challenge for me is trying to figure out the balance between doing what I love and volunteering for these unpaid opportunities and finding work that meets the right-now needs of income to pay off a credit card full of moving expenses and money for transportation to those opportunities here.

The experience also has me thinking a lot about the mindset of the not for profit industry. I know a few people working in unpaid internships for charities which raise money for valuable causes such as AIDS research, education for women and girls around the world, disaster relief. Then there are the friends who work for minimum wage in jobs funded through government grants doing outreach, communications and fundraising for other charities. (Full disclosure, similar grants provided the funding for my summer jobs all the way through university.)

Global Volunteer Month @Morgan Stanley

What these friends all have in common is a genuine desire to make a difference in the world, a need for experience in their chosen field, and a tendency to work second and third minimum wage jobs so they can afford to work for these organizations. When we talk, they laugh about how it’s just how it is if you want to do good in the world. You have to be willing to work 70 hours a week and juggle back-to-back shifts between the cause you’re working for and the reality of needing food and shelter, not to mention money to pay back gargantuan student loans.

This really bothers me, because what I’m seeing is a lot of organizations taking advantage of the belief that volunteering for the experience a) means more money is available to go directly to the people the charity is helping and b) better equips you to get paid work in the field. Shouldn’t the not-for-profit industry also be interested in a sustainable workforce?

Working for free in unpaid internships or for minimum wage doesn’t give employees of the industry any concept of what their time might actually be worth in the private sector. When they eventually burn out from the strain of multiple jobs and volunteering they’re not equipped with the knowledge of what kind of salary they should be asking for when they do get offered a job elsewhere.

I’m still trying to sort out what I think a good solution would be. The current reality just doesn’t seem right.

Meredith

Thank you Volunteers cake.

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Getting an Mrs.

Dear Pope Francis,

I have a confession to make. One of my greatest fears about doing an M.Div. was not that I would find the work really hard, or that I’d flunk out. It wasn’t even that I’d get lost trying to navigate my new city. It was that I would be the only young woman studying theology, and I’d spend the next three years surrounded by super-pious guys, all studying to be priests, that I couldn’t relate to. I shared this fear with my professor who had encouraged me to apply for the program in the first place. He assured me that there would be other young women, and put me in touch with one young women who was studying in the year ahead of me. I’m happy to say that this fear was quickly put aside; I have since met several very cool young women who are all studying theology.

Paper doesn't always beat Rock

Paper doesn’t always beat rock

I start with this story, because it seems to be different from stories that I’ve heard from other Christian schools. In these other schools, some women are worried about finding their future husband; they seem to be equally worried about getting their BA, B.Sc. M.Div. or some other degree, and their Mrs. I read a thought-provoking response to a picture that had been circulating the internet with the caption: “Paper doesn’t always beat rock”, and it got me thinking about my own understanding of school and dating.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this place in my own vocational discernment (which is a story for another day), but suffice to say, at this point in my life, I am primarily feeling called to be open to marriage, but it isn’t something for right this minute. Being able to say this is a big step for me because for a long time, I didn’t understand how it was possible that I didn’t feel called to be a religious sister, but I also wasn’t called to be in a relationship heading towards marriage either. These were the only two states in life, and if I wasn’t in either then something was definitely wrong with me.

But that is exactly the state I am in; it’s being a transitional-single. It’s only been recently that I have been able to accept this time, and be able to appreciate it for what it is. The peace came when I was talking about guys with a friend from school, and she said quite seriously that even though I knew I wanted to get married, I hadn’t met the right guy yet, and that was okay; there’s time for me to meet him. I don’t know why her words stuck, because I know I’ve heard this before, but they did.

road tripIn reflecting on what she said, I realized that being single is pretty cool. I am able to pack up and go away for the weekend without needing to take another person into consideration (other than to let my roommate know that I haven’t been abducted). I talk to whomever I want without worrying about a particular guy mistaking my intentions. I have more freedom with my time as well, because I’m not trying to juggle my busy schedule around someone else’s busy schedule on a regular basis. I know these all seem quite self-centred, and they are, but I also have the freedom to focus on myself like this, and spend this time working to improve myself, my friendships, and my relationship with God.

None of this is to say that waiting is always easy, or that I wouldn’t be interested in dating someone. I am usually an impatient person, and I most certainly am interested in dating. However, there is a peace in feeling reasonably confident in what God wants from me, marriage, but being able to accept the immediate state that I am in, a transitional-single.Family I spend time with families, families with young kids and families with teenagers, and I leave feeling more certain that family life is what I’m called to. This knowledge makes it a little bit easier to wait, because I want to be with the right person for the family life I’m called to. I also trust that when the time comes, God will show me the right guy.

I am putting enough pressure on myself to finish school by next spring, I certainly don’t need to add any more pressure.

Focusing on my M.Div (and not the Mrs.),

Lauren

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Saying hello

Dear Pope Francis,

Just a short note today because I am not digging unemployment and spending most of my time trying to change that. Mostly I wanted to say thank you for thinking of the un- and underemployed in your intentions for this month and share a story about saying hello.

Last Thursday, I woke up to the sound of clinking bottles as an old man rummaged through the recycling bins at the curb for collection. It was a weird moment of collision between two worlds.

When I was living in New Brunswick, one of the guys I dated would throw plastic bottles out his car window along the road into town. I would be mad he was littering, he would justify it as giving five cents to one of the people who made their living walking around collecting bottles and cans for recycling.

When I mentioned the old man to Lauren, she wasn’t surprised. It’s a common thing where she comes from. It wasn’t strange to me that there was a man with a shopping cart collecting glass bottles from the bins. When I would go to the bottle depot in Fredericton with the recycling from my apartment there was usually a few people there with similar setups. The strangeness came from seeing the man in the middle-class suburban neighbourhood my parents live in.

One of my siblings went off on a rant about how “people like that” should get real jobs instead of stealing from others. I was really confused by the outrage. How could it be stealing for this man to take what we clearly weren’t keeping? How is it not a job for him to go out and collect the glass bottles and return them for the 10 cent refund we don’t value enough to get ourselves?

More than my confusion over my sibling’s outrage was the strangeness of realizing there are poor and homeless people everywhere. They don’t stop existing outside of Toronto where I’m used to seeing people panhandle on the streets and where I know about the soup kitchens and shelters. They don’t stop existing outside of small town New Brunswick where there’s not much work to be had.

When my sister came to help me move from New Brunswick back to Ontario last month, one of the things we talked about during the drive was poverty. It bothered me to be told people are poor or homeless because they made bad choices. The simultaneous dismissal of the fact that there is a human being sitting on the cold ground asking for money for a coffee and judgement of that person for being in the situation in the first place. The idea that it’s not my fault and so it’s not my problem.

“Give to everyone who begs from you, and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.” (Luke 6:30)

I used to walk past the panhandlers I would see in the streets of Toronto when I lived there. I remember getting frustrated initially by how long it would take to walk anywhere with my SERVE brother Mike because he saw everyone. Every person we passed he would stop and say hello to. I don’t remember if he ever gave them money, but I never forgot how he always stopped. I wasn’t comfortable stopping to say hello at first. Then I started noticing how people smiled. Even if I didn’t have anything to give, it mattered so much to be acknowledged.

Hello. We use it as a greeting, but what it really means is “I see you.” When someone greets you, it means you exist.

–Meredith

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Living the Story of Life

Dear Pope Francis,

DSC01939

Me in Times Square, the last time I was in New York (2012).

By the time this is posted to LTP, I will be in New York City for the first stage of the trip I mentioned last week. Because of the travel schedule, every post you read for the next two weeks will have been written before I left, and thanks to a little scheduling magic  they should all go up on the proper days without any more work from me. I had been asked by a few people if I was going to blog or e-mail updates about my trip. I gave it some serious thought and prayer, and realized that I shouldn’t blog this trip (as much as I may want to).

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the importance of telling stories, and how stories have shaped who I am. I think of my life as a story, and the people in it are characters who weave in and out of the different scenes and chapters of my life. All of this is very important for my self-understanding and finding meaning in the events of my life. However, in thinking about this, I realized that I need to be careful that I don’t spend too much time focused on how to tell the story, and not enough time living it.

One of my favourite quotes about writing says something to the effect of “the business of being a writer is ultimately about asking yourself, how alive am I willing to be?” (Anne Lamott). For me, this quote creates an important distinction: there is a time to live and a time to write. These times are related because what you write and how well you write is related to how you live. I get the impression that to live is not meant to be a frivolous thing, It is something that needs to be deliberately plunged into and embraced, with all its aches and joys, sorrows and celebrations. Where living is about sinking in, writing is about stepping back. It’s about looking for the meaning in the experiences of living, and connecting the dots. It’s about tracing the strands in the web of meaning to find the bigger picture, and then synthesizing those insights.
storybookRecently, much of my writing and living have been happening simultaneously. Usually this is a very good think, because it means that I am in tune with what’s going on in myself. It’s also a very natural process, because often I write to process how I feel personally about events (and that writing is much different than what I choose to share with people). However, I am finding that my life experiences are being coloured by my assumption that I will share them, so I look prematurely for the connections between events, and the greater patterns within my life, before things have reached their natural conclusion. I haven’t been respecting my need for personal writing, and the distinction between living and writing to share my story.
While the living and writing simultaneously has been fruitful, albeit painful by times, I feel as though I need to sink into living right now by focusing on the experience for the sake of the experience, rather than living the experience for the sake of a good blog post or Facebook status.

I suspect this trip will be eye opening and soulopening, and I can’t wait for the experience. I suspect that it will change my own life story, and I look forward to the time I can step back and share those stories, but for now I need live and record it for me.

Peace,

Lauren

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Faith, Hope and Big Hairy Audacious Goals

Dear Pope Francis,

I have been really on edge for the few weeks or so. I am still looking for a summer job, and so far having very little luck. I was thinking about how stressed I was feeling this morning, because I have to wait for the different places I applied to review my application and (hopefully) call me for an interview. The waiting was the root of my anxiety. This reminded me of a scene in one of my favourite movies as a teenager, A Cinderella Story (2004) staring Hilary Duff.A Cinderella Story

The movie follows the basic Cinderella plot line, but is set in modern day California and the Cinderella character is named Sam. The specific scene that came to mind was when Sam supposed to be working on one of her step-sister’s essays, and the step-sister comes by to see how it’s going. When Sam said that she’s working on it, the step-sister replies “it makes me really nervous to have to wait for it…” Sam, who is on edge because she was just about to tell her online Prince Charming who she really is, snaps back: “imagine if you had to write it yourself!” This makes the step-sister pause for a second.

Lately, I’ve been finding myself falling into the character of the step-sister, at least in some areas of my life. She is anxious because she doesn’t want to do the work, but still wants to pass in her homework. She also doesn’t want to wait while Sam writes the essay for her. This girl just can’t win, she’s either going to wait and be able to pass it in, or she’s going do it herself. In terms of doing the work to apply for jobs, I have done it, the applications are in, but I am still impatient for a phone call.

In the last few years, society has become increasingly focused having ‘it all’: a big house, nice car, high paying job, freedom to travel. What I find very interesting is that I don’t very often hear about the people talk about how they got to the point of having it all. For instance, did they breeze through high school and university, and network with all the right people? (Did they have a whip-smart step-sister write their essays for them, perhaps?) Maybe they did, but I’m willing to bet that at least some people had to work very hard for many years, to get to the point where they are today. hard workThey logged long hours in the library studying and writing papers, or maybe they practiced until their throat hurt or their fingers bled. Regardless, they all set their, big hairy audacious goal (BHAG), and then worked audaciously hard to get there.

Meredith and I recently did some planning for LTP, and set our own BHAG. We are both committed to LTP, and our BHAG includes ideas about how to continue grow, both in terms of reaching people, what we offer on the blog, and improving our skills. Our plans are not going to materialize magically right in front of us. It will take consistency and dedication. However, more importantly, I think it will take faith and hope. Like the step sister who hopes that Sam will get the essay done quickly, and faith that she’ll get a passing grade, BHAGs require that we have faith that it will work out and hope that we can actually achieve what we have set out to do. For my job hunt, I have faith in my work experience and skills, and I hope that that employers will see that I can contribute meaningfully to their organization. For LTP, Meredith and I have to have faith that we are doing what God has called us to, and hope that in our dedication we will accomplish our BHAG.

Resting on faith and hope (and consistently working hard),

Lauren

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Grateful I’m able

Dear Pope Francis,

It’s not often people take the time to appreciate their ability to do manual labour, but that’s what I’m doing right now as I sit at my computer, typing and sipping ice water.

I spent most of today outside doing yard work with my mother – trimming back the branches of neighbouring trees resting on the garage roof, and then clearing out the leaves and gunk in the eaves trough. Pulling weeds and sweeping the drive and walk; picking up all the yard waste and bagging it. It was a gorgeous sunny day, but very hot when we were outside.

When we came in, we went through the bookshelves in the basement deciding what to keep and what to put out at the yard sale this weekend. There were old clothes to be sorted through and bagged to donate, and photos to take of things which might sell better online.

When the washing machine is free in ten minutes, I’ll be lugging laundry downstairs to wash and then back upstairs to fold and put away when it’s clean and dry.

Living in a house instead of the apartments I’ve been used to for the last few years is a lot more work. There’s more floors to sweep and surfaces to dust, and infinitely more dishes and things to tidy, but that’s more from living with more people than anything else.

When I was a teenager, I used to gripe about being asked to help with chores around the house. I loathed moving furniture, and wasn’t big on sorting through all the bits and bobs our family collects. It wasn’t work I liked doing.

Today, I’m appreciating that I’m young and strong and capable of doing all the things Mum and I did. I’m glad I can spend the day working outside and inside without being too horribly sore at the end of it. I’m glad I’m limber enough to be climbing up and down off the roof.

So many people have aches and pains from injury and age, or are born with physical disabilities and aren’t able to do these sweaty jobs. I’m lucky I can.

Having a Pollyanna day,

Meredith

Categories: Meredith | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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