I Am Especially Fond of You

Carole and I speak of our love for each other often. Sometimes too much for me, but still appreciated. She also speaks of what she likes of me – that I am attentive to her, that I think outside the box, that I am freer than I used to be. And, of course, I tell her that I am especially fond of her and those particular ways of which I am especially fond of. It always evokes a smile in us both. I feel secure and I think that she does too.

We have been married a long time and I am glad for it. I expect her to love me – what choice does she have after all these years? – but to be fond of me, that is something more.

I loved “The Shack” when I first read it. It made me question, wonder and weep. I love the idea of a black, matronly woman as God! Paul Young wrote this book for his kids as a Christmas gift and in a short period of time many thousands wanted to know what he was telling his children: that God was especially fond of them. I think that is what I want in my life – to know that God is especially fond of me. I know that this is what I want from my wife and my children. And I want them to know that I am especially fond of them too.

I know that I am not especially fond of me. Perhaps that is why to have God and others orient toward me in this way is a wonder.

Many people I see in my counselling practice don’t have anyone that they think is especially fond of them; spouse or child or friend or God. So they try to be perfect, hope to cause no offence, work to be right most of the time, hide from any conflict, all in the hope that someone might read through these adaptations and, perhaps, that the someone will discover something to be fond of.

Sound like you? Maybe sometimes.

Like the beautiful woman I met who had all the augmentations done to her face and body but could not find a man who was fond of her – the inside her. Or the painfully narcissistic young man who entranced everyone but could not make a relationship that would last. Or the grandfather who criticized his children and grandchildren and could not give up “correction” (as he called it) for fear that his loved ones would turn out as empty as him. How un-fond of a man to himself and his progeny.

But to be found as a person who is fond of others and to have others be fond of them. That is amazing.

The Shack movie is coming out shortly and I expect to be disappointed. Unless I discover again that God is especially fond of me and of you. I hope so. I believe so.

What Star Are You Following? (David Ducklow)

I received this Christmas blessing from my son, David Ducklow. David is a chaplain in training at Vancouver General Hospital and completed a Masters degree in Spiritual Formation. Here is his blessing to me and now to you.

Isn’t it amazing how, because of our work and efforts in preparing for Christmas, we ‘crash’ soon after the meal is finished, the presents have been opened and the relatives have left? I don’t imagine the wise men doing the same thing. The joys of seeing a newborn King probably made sleeping the last idea on their minds.

The gospel of Matthew follows them on their marathon mission, and though they had good reason to be tired, remarkably they show no hint of it. Matthew says they spent two years following the star, hunting Jesus down. I have never followed a star before, let alone for two years, but I can imagine that it may be like trying to find the hypothetical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Next to impossible. So I would probably talk myself out of this on the first day.

However, the wise men had enough energy and motivation, not just to walk for one day, but for seven hundred and thirty days! Their reason? “When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” (Matthew 2:10)

How would you react if you saw a star that moved? Would you refuse to follow it? “Not today. Maybe tomorrow. I had a bad night sleep and I have a crick in my neck.” The wise men most definitely had this option during their two-year pilgrimage. Or would you be so excited that nothing could keep you from getting to that pot of gold?

What star are you following? Where do you think it will lead you? How long have you been following it? Are you willing to follow it to its end or are you about to crash? I am sure these are questions the wise men asked themselves. They certainly had enough time to discuss their reasons for doing such a crazy thing.

But, what was their motivation? Who had told them to do this crazy thing? What would they receive in exchange for their gold, frankincense and myrrh?

(David also is a Spiritual Director and an “Intentional Tutor” especially for kids with disabilities. You can reach him on our web site.)

11 Old Ideas for a New 2011

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. But I do make decisions (whatever the month) that lead me in an intentional life and principled walk. Here are some that I am working on currently. It helps me when I am overly introspective or worried.

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile at people, the trees and your inner thoughts. Walking is the ultimate anti-depressant and if you are depressed, increase the walk to 60 minutes a day. (Not working out in the gym.)

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes daily. Do more wondering than intercession, struggle and worry. It is okay to use music to help you. (I love the cello.)

3. Write a gratitude list weekly. (Use your computer “Notes” section if you wish.) Check to see if the gratitude vector is going up.

4. Waking up in the morning, complete the following statement, “My purpose is to __________ (fill in the blank) today.”

5. Live life with the 3 E’s – energy, excellence and empathy. By the way, excellence isn’t perfectionism. It is just doing an excellent thing.

6. Greet people with the 3 I’s – innocence, inclusion and importance.

7. Spend time with and learn the names of people over the age of 70 and under the age of 10.

8. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in buildings.

9. Smile and laugh more. If it helps, watch “Modern Family” or “The Office.” Good places to begin.

10. Say to yourself, “Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.” Add your insights to 3 above.

11. When conflicting, help the other person “win,” or at least get their point across. Way more fun than winning yourself and probably more truthful too.

Incarnation in a Food Court

When life is interrupted by something unexpectedly wonderful, one worships. Songs are sung, hands are raised, normality stops even if just for 5 minutes.

Today my son sent me this well-watched YouTube (over 6 millions viewings – Carole and I were 4 of those!) — Incarnation in a Food Court.

It is one of the best reminders of incarnation I have seen. That Jesus was born in an ordinary place (food court), amongst all sorts of people (see the restaurant nationalities), doing everyday kind of things (shopping, eating, coping) and for a few minutes one worships.

John 1:14 (The Message) reads “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

Moving into the neighbourhood. I like that.

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