24 November 2015

Tiny Home

Our lives are full of good things. Blessings rain down upon us, not because we deserve them, but because our God is good, and all good things are from Him.

The fact that we have homes to live in, that I have a place to call my home is indeed a gift from the Father of Lights.

Sometimes we don't think of a circumstance that offers challenges as a good thing, but I do. I have the tiniest home, with the hindrance of barely any storage space. My kitchen table isn't just where I eat, but also a desk for working on my laptop. I have to be creative when it comes to decorations and placement of items. Yet despite the challenges and the restrictions I have in this tiny home, I aim at cosiness, and I feel cosy here. Living here, in this miniature home, I have come to appreciate the most simple of things and using those as the accompaniments to a cosy environment. Fresh cut flowers, mismatched china and mugs stacked up, a bright kitchen, simple meals on a gas stove.

Living here, I don't have room to keep excess. So, I don't buy excess food or items to tuck away. There is no place to tuck them away into. This has caused me to be more thoughtful in my purchases, which is a good thing. However, for the things I love to collect (books, mugs, dishes) it is a challenge. When you only have one shelf for mugs, they get to be quite cosy with one another. Same with books. Even with multiple shelves, they spill over to stacks on my piano or under my coffee table. And every once in a while, I go through some sorting and actually donate some of the excess I realize I can part with. 

But more important than the space for items, this tiny home has plenty of room for many good sorts of experiences. Especially good conversations. I can have family and friends over and I can always serve tea or coffee. I don't have to have a big place to welcome people. As Thanksgiving is just a day away, I think about spending time with those I love to spend time with, and I am always happy to invite others over. If you come over, just be prepared for a cup of steaming tea in a light-soaked cosy little spot. And don't be surprised if I need to move a few books out of the way.

23 November 2015

Always Hope

O light which mak'st the light, which
makes the day!
Which setst the eye without, and
mind within;

Lighten my spirit with one clear heavenly
Which now to view itself doth first

-Sir John Davies

In the depths of our hearts we know where we need improvements. We know how we need to be filled by God's love and desires and not our own self-love and personal desires. Here is where we are tested. What shall we make room for?

I write because I have hope. Always clinging to hope, I am, and writing helps me process the thoughts, musings, feelings, and inklings I learn along the way. It doesn't matter if it fits neatly together here. It doesn't have to look flawless. There will always be things that want to draw me away. But I will continue.

Pieces will come together in time. the trusting process will be proven when we see God move the pieces. We know it to be God because it is nothing we could have done, even if we tried. God does marvelous things. His plans are perfect.

The eternal is placed inside each of us, but we can dampen it if we fill our hearts with worldly things. Greed and hunger for power, money, and material possessions drains us. They become the focus and centre of so many people that the eternal hope of something that is already here is lost, and shortened. The eternal is faded. The truth is diminished.

We live in a sad world and we are faced each day with even more sadness. But there is hope. Always hope, even when the amount of hope is as tiny as a seed. God uses even the smallest things to good effect.

20 November 2015

Beautiful Places

My city has some beautiful places, and the longer I live here, the more that come along. I love that.
It has taken awhile for me to grow fond of this city. I will admit. But the more I get to know this place and the people in this place, the more attached to it I become.

Here are a few glimpses of just a couple of beautiful spots downtown. These are places I will gladly hang out for hours, especially when the weather is particularly pleasant.

The Poor Porker opened up their shop, living room, hip patio, hangout spot downtown. Here you can see creative artistic hand-made created space by the coolest locals. My friend, Elizabeth, made some big creative and artistic contributions to the space. You can get a beignet and iced coffee. You can hang out for a while. There is also a food and drink bar, mini garden, and a shop.

Lake Mirror and Hollis Gardens are just lovely, and are a short walk from The Poor Porker. On a cool day this is the most pleasant place to be - outside among the lovely plants, flowers, and the lake. You can do some contemplative thinking in the garden, where the classical music plays. The trees rustle in the cool breeze. The leaves that have fallen look like they've fallen from the north.

Have you visited these spaces, yet? Add them to your weekend list of fun activities.

18 November 2015

Words You Need

Never lose sight of God's wisdom
and knowledge:
make decisions out of true wisdom,
guard your good sense,
and they will be life to your soul,
and fine jewelry around your neck.
Then each one of your steps will land
securely on your life's journey,
and you will not trip or fall.
Your mind will be clear, free from fear;
when you lie down to rest, you will be
refreshed by sweet sleep.
Stay calm, there is no need to be afraid of a
sudden disaster
or to worry when calamity strikes the
for the Eternal is always there to protect you.
He will safeguard your each and every step.

- Proverbs 3.21-26

The soft morning light edges around my little home and I sit in meditation with these words that I know I need. In the quiet stillness, I feel refreshed in the reminders of what should be. In my heart I know these things, but they somehow become so voluted in the day, whether by my own devices or by things the world and our culture tries to steep into me. But these are the words I want to soak in, instead.

16 November 2015

Unhindered Thoughts

The coloured glass filling space and scene
Into the heart sensing feelings serene
A depth of place unhindered thoughts may go
Unopened hearts stay, but the willing shall grow

Lean not on your own understanding, for your own understanding waxes and wanes with time and circumstance. But God's mystery and understanding surpasses all knowledge and can reach far beyond what we know and see in our present moment.

Trust in the Holy One. He is far greater than any of our troubles. He can hold everything in His hand, command the mountains to move and oceans to drain. He is Almighty.

What we see here is fleeting. This reality is stuck, attached to time, and we can only move forward. Closer to the plan is our Lord, with everything in order to end this earth, and everything will be made new and perfected.

For now, we struggle in the present time. But how can we all, living and breathing right now together at this time in history, not give thanks to our Lord? How can we not praise Him for all that we have? And how can we not see that all of this matters?

Beyond the scope of what we see, the tiny pieces of what we create here matters to the next world. All of what we work on here will be perfected one day. We will see it whole and pure, as it was meant to be. Just as we will be made whole and pure, as we were meant to be.

We will wake up from a deep sleep to the world so familiar, with details more real and deeper than we could imagine. Droplets of dew on perfect blades of grass reflecting a brilliance we have never known. It will be new and fresh, and yet it will be known to us because we have known the old world and loved the beauty in it already.

God knows this. In His creative creation making, He knew that we would love the trees and flowers. He knew that we would feel a sense of freedom and joy when we look up at the night sky. He knew how much it would all mean to us, which is why New Creation will be so familiar to us. The elements combined to all that we love and cherish will not be lost. But it will be found, and made perfect. 

The hands of our Maker, always at work, always showing displays of what is to come through glimpses of what we may be able to see here, if we pay close attention.

When God made space and worlds that move in space, and clothed our world with air, and gave us such eyes and such imagination as those we have, He knew what the sky would mean to us. And since nothing in His work is accidental, if He knew, He intended.
- C.S. Lewis

12 November 2015

The Word within the World

But Thou bright Morning Star, Thou rising Sun,
Which in these later times has brought to light
Those mysteries, that since the world begun,
Lay hid in darkness and eternal night.

- Sir John Davies

The Word within the world....the Word made flesh. 

How can I better focus on the Word that is present with us in this world and share that with others through words? Our world is full of double language. It can be dangerous and worldly. It can be used to manipulate and force. It goes against the Word. The integrity of language diminishes, and yet we can choose to hold it to a high standard.

In all my attempts to be more loving toward others, I am always running into myself and what the world says is acceptable. Words spoken and accepted are full of disrespect. Selfish ambitions and unwillingness to be a true servant causes us to fall short all the time. Yet the Word is at the core of everything (keeping the possibility of truth in everything). How can we magnify the Word within the world?

As I read through Scripture bit by bit, I realize that all the different translations of the Bible contain different words and ideas that bring a myriad of poetic lines. The core can be translated many times. We should read many different versions. One version may speak some truth into you so clearly, that you never perceived before.

We should encourage reading various translations to view the same stories in different ways. It stretches our language and allows it to reach into our imaginations. There isn't just one version that fits everyone, and it should be explored. Just like you might search the internet for different writings by a favourite author, or different versions of a song by your favourite artist, we should seek out readings of different translations of the Word.

All mankind is of one volume. We are all part of the great book. God cares about all our matters, because they matter to us, but do we treat the matters as if they matter? BIG or small, because they are passages in that great book.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
Matthew 12. 36-37

10 November 2015

Florida Southern Means Business

My brother, Ryan, and I went to the dedication ceremony/lunch/tour of an exciting new business building at our Alma Mater, Florida Southern College. The Becker Business Building was built on Lake Hollingsworth, on the far eastern side of campus. This three story building was designed by the same architects who designed the two other new buildings (humanities building and residence halls), which keeps a similar integrity of the original Frank Lloyd Wright buildings that make the campus so unique and beautiful.

I am always excited to see how Florida Southern continues to grow. As an alumnus of the business department, I was particularly excited to see this new addition.

The dedication ceremony was held outside, at the front of the building, which faces the lake. We stood under the tall, sprawling oak trees, laden with moss, which offered welcomed shade on the hot day. After the many talks and ribbon cutting, most of the crowd headed to the large tent set up with a lovely buffet of food. That's where we headed, and we loaded our porcelain plates with salad, grilled chicken, grilled zucchini, naan bread, pasta salad, etc... After eating and chatting with some folks who sat with us at our tables, we headed inside to take a tour.

The lobby is sun-filled, with floor-to-ceiling windows and space to breath. The comfy sofas, chairs, and colourful accents make the space feel more like a nice resort, not a college business department. From the lobby, the hallway stretches on with classrooms on each side, but the first set of glass paneled doors reveals a trading room, complete with a huge screen at one end, computers for each student, and even a market ticker screen at the top of the wall rotating around the entire room 24 hours a day. The classrooms are spacious and all have huge windows with beautiful views no matter where they are located in the building.

On the second floor, more classrooms with views and with my new favourite thing (that was in every room on every floor): glass boards (instead of chalk boards or white boards). The glass looks so nice, and writing on it just seems more fun. My next favourite thing included the small breakout conference rooms that were placed here and there. Enclosed in glass between two hallways, each one contains a curved table, chairs, and a large screen. I spotted writing on the glass windows here and loved that.

Then, on the third floor, a most beautiful conference/board room is complete with a long table, bronze chairs, huge floating screen that comes out of the wall so it can be moved and adjusted, lovely hanging light bulb fixtures, and an outside terrace that overlooks the lake. I would gladly attend some meetings there. Each classroom has its own WiFi that students can connect to and share from their device on the large screen. There's also a marketing research room that researchers observe a focus group through a one-way mirror.

Ryan and I visited the MBA suite on our way out, and wondered quietly if we could go back to school. This place would make anyone want to go back to school.

05 November 2015

This Thing Called Thankfulness

Life has been a blur lately. A compilation of various learning opportunities, words on pages that I attempt to memorize (ie. studying), volunteering, spending some time with family and friends, and tasks to focus on. I feel overwhelmed by all that is going on and all that I need to do, and at the same time I feel a deep-hearted thankfulness. I feel blessed beyond what I deserve. I have people in my life who are amazingly kind, loving, and encouraging. Near and far, these people are. You are probably one of those people. Yes, I mean you.

I am still trying to find signs of autumn in this hot Florida November, Any tiny sign draws my eye, because I have a hard time accepting that it is 90 degrees still. I should be able to wear sweaters by now, I shouldn't be sweating when I step outside. So, I am trying to pretend it is autumn, by making my home transport to a place of seasons, and by taking photos of leaves on the ground. I know, it's sad. I long for what this place doesn't have - seasons. And at this time each year, the longing becomes unbearable, and yet I must remain patient. And I do. And it will come.

These photos are all from the last several weeks. Something that might have happened last week feels like it happened three weeks ago, and vice versa. Since everything has blurred together so much lately, it's all blurred together in a post to say that all the big or small ways that you have encouraged me is fuel to my tiny flame. It is the reminder I need sometimes to keep going. I am deeply thankful for you.

03 November 2015

Beauty of the Journey

In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
- Revelation 22.2

The leaves rustle and my heart leaps with hope of what is to come.

I am present. I want to be present where I am, in the present. No toiling about this or that, but to be fully present in each moment. Each moment is a gift. This month I want to focus on that.

Here, on this darkling evening, warm and un-autumnal, I feel tired and I know I am lacking sleep. With the time change, it feels later, and the darkness creeps in earlier in the afternoon. By six o'clock the sky is dark. I am on my way home. The sun is extinguished for the day. I feel extinguished for the day, but hours of studying is still ahead of me. The warmth and humidity was stifling today, but still, I put on my orange zig zag socks because it is cosy and I get chilly inside while it is still so warm outside.

I wash my dishes at the sink after dinner. The routine of washing clean a favourite blue and white plate and any other cookware used is a nightly task always done before I can make tea. I click the water kettle on and pull down a pretty mug from my cabinet to make some peppermint tea. 

The day will come, in New Creation, when there will be fruit aplenty from the tree of life, during all seasons. Here and now, we might feel as if we are not being fruitful. We might wonder if our branches are growing weak or if we are just thirsty. We might feel like we are toiling day after day and seeing no fruit.

Take heart.

All the efforts and all the striving is not done in vain. Keep going. Continue onward.
If we hesitate, we linger in a place where we hear the lies whispered. And we start to listen to them if we are not careful.
Do not stop your journey. Keep the pace, and stay on track.

The beauty of the journey will soon be seen. It comes in many forms. The gentle murmur of the rustling leaves. The warm and cosy feeling when you get to go home after a long day. Snuggling with a blanket and book. Eating a meal with close friends. Along the way, you might be inspiring others around you, so don't doubt how God can use you. Your fruitfulness reaches beyond what you can see.