Beautiful blogger award…

I’m very excited to have been nominated today for the Beautiful Blogger Award by Especially Made.  Thank you so much!!  In her blog, she talks about the challenges and joys of raising a child with special needs, and I never fail to be moved and humbled by her posts.  If you haven’t stumbled onto her blog yet, I would highly encourage you to do so!

To accept the Beautiful Blogger Award, the rules are as follows:

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1. Post the award on to your blog.
2. Remember to thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their site.
3. Post 7 random facts about yourself to help us to get to know you better.
4. Nominate 7 new bloggers you consider noteworthy.
5. Don’t forget to leave a message for those you nominate that you chose them.

In a recent post, I listed 13 random facts about myself – hi-my-name-is-joy – which you’re more than welcome to check out, if you haven’t done so already.  But, for today, in keeping with the theme of beauty, I’m posting 7 random things that I personally find beautiful.

1.  Canada – If you’ve never been to Canada, you’ve missed out!  I’m been from coast to coast and there is so much beauty everywhere.  But, since I’m originally from the East Coast, I’ll single out the province of New Brunswick.  When the leaves change in the fall, it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.

2.  My son – My son Tim is in his mid-thirties but he is one of the most beautiful people I know.  I am proud of his accomplishments but I am proudest of who he is as a person.  If he wasn’t my son, I would still want to know him.

3.  Burmese people – I had the privilege of going on a 6 week missions trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma) in the summer of ’99, and I was so touched and moved by the people there.  They had literally nothing but they were so quick to give.  It was also rainy season and we witnessed widespread flooding.  Some of their huts (yes, they lived in huts…) had chest high water, forcing them to sleep in hammocks strung high between the trees, and yet they were always quick to say that it was worse in Bangladesh.  They were optimistic, giving, kind, gracious, beautiful people.

4.  My brother Brent and his wife Angie – For the past 11 years, my brother has been Executive Director of Cottage Cove Urban Ministries, a faith based inner-city ministry providing educational opportunities and training in the arts to at-risk children of Nashville, Tennessee.  The ministry, which operates solely on donations, is a daily program offered free to the children and their families, and currently serves upwards of 70 children per day, with many more on a waiting list.  To me, there is nothing more beautiful than investing in the lives of our future generations, and particularly in the lives of at-risk children.

5.  Giving – I know of countless individuals who selflessly give of their time, talents, and resources to help make a difference in people’s lives.  Many have made a difference in my own life.  Giving brings beauty to a world that often seems less than beautiful.

6.  Grace – I heard a story in church yesterday of how the speaker’s elderly mother attended the court proceedings of the boy who had robbed her because she wanted him to know she forgave him.  A beautiful example of grace, and a challenge to be more of a grace giver myself.

7.  Prayer – To me, prayer is beautiful because it’s a direct connection to my Maker and Saviour.  But, prayer is also beautiful because of it’s power to change.  It changes me.

Continuing on the theme of beauty, I nominate the following blogs for the Beautiful Blogger Award.  Each blog has inspired me, and helped me see beauty in the midst of the chaos of this world.  I hope you’ll find them as uplifting as I have.

1.  Giving 50 x 52

2.  Mustard Seed

3. Another Red Letter Day

4.  Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

5. Jon Lilley

6.  The Cognitive Life

7.  Canadian Hiking Photography

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Sincerely wrong…

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Bombings at the Boston Marathon.  Conspiracy to attack a Via Rail train in Toronto, Canada.  Two recent news stories placing the spotlight on individuals who believed – and who quite possibly still believe – that they were right in their convictions and actions.

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Sincerity is overrated.  Of course, it’s always preferable to be genuine in what we say or believe but it’s not enough to be sincere.  We need to be sincerely right.  There are countless examples from the beginning of time of people who were sincere but sincerely wrong.

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Every single person who has ever lived has been sincerely wrong more than once.  I know I certainly have. Thankfully, the vast majority of us will never be sincerely wrong to the extent that we will plot or do great harm to anyone.  But each of us still bears the responsibility of making sure our convictions are right.  Even if they never translate to actions, our words alone have the power to do a great deal of harm, simply by wrongly influencing someone else.

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I see many people – particularly as they become older – who can’t be taught.  They think they know everything they need to know.  To their way of thinking, age, time, and experience have given them more than enough knowledge.  They have disdain for the thoughts and opinions of anyone younger.  They’re not willing to even consider that they might be wrong.  They’re sincere but sincerely wrong.

So, that begs the question…

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That question is directed at myself as much, if not more, than anyone else.  Actually, it’s a question I ask myself semi-regularly.  Especially when I hear, see, or read about people who clearly are not.  People who made a choice somewhere along the way to discard the right thing to pursue the wrong thing.

I never want to be that person.

And, so I pray often that God will grant me a teachable spirit today and every day for the rest of my life.

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Sincerely yours…

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An analysis of the obvious…

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A man with an impossibly long name once said…

“The obvious is always least understood.”blog13

Prince Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar von Metternich

Keeping with that subject, a man with a fairly succinct name phrased it like this…

“To spell out the obvious is often to call it in question.”

Eric Hoffer

On the surface, both of these statements seem strange.  After all, isn’t the obvious… well… obvious???  The answer is both yes and no.  It all depends on the person.

blog6There are people who see the obvious and it makes perfect sense to them while there are others who see the obvious but don’t interpret it as such.  They tend to think there’s a hidden meaning of some sort and/or they question the validity of what they’re seeing.  It’s amazing how many people think that the obvious is too obvious.  That there has to be a catch of some sort.  They want things spelled out for them but, when they are, they never quite believe it.  They question it.  They dismiss it.  They outright reject it.

I think about this with Christianity.  The Bible says,  “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9 (NLT)

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Confess and believe.  It doesn’t get more straightforward than that.  But, many people think it can’t be that easy.  They question it.  They add to it.  They discard it entirely.  Some churches and religious groups are even guilty of doing that.  Not all… but many.

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Sometimes I think people are more apt to believe something complicated over something obvious.

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This translates to virtually every aspect of life.  Spell something out or state the obvious, and there will always be those who refuse to believe it.  It’s too obvious.  I think nearly every person on the face of the earth has done this at one time or another, myself included.  We say we want the obvious but when we get it, we don’t like what we see.  So, we rationalize why we should circumvent it.  Or ignore it.  Or why it doesn’t apply to us.blog9

And therein, I think lies the key to how we interpret the obvious.  To accept it as the obvious, we have to be comfortable with it and it has to conform to our reality.  But, that doesn’t make the obvious any less obvious.  Or any less true.  Our perceptions are not always reality.

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So, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that what’s obvious is obviously not obvious.

Disclaimer:  This analysis of the obvious is open to interpretation as it may not be obvious to everyone.

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Hi, my name is Joy…

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Over the past 10 months, I’ve lost count of the number of new people I’ve met, both personally and professionally.  At times, it’s been daunting.  I always hope to make a good impression but I’m never really sure.

To keep things in perspective, I remind myself that it’s one thing to want to make a good impression but another thing entirely to strive to present myself in the best possible light, but authentically.  The former is good but the latter is better.

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As Dr. Seuss so articulately put it,

“Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you.” 

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Every single person on the face of the earth is unique, me included.  That doesn’t mean I’m perfect.  Not even close.  But, God created me uniquely for a reason, and it would be an insult to Him to try to be someone or something that I’m not.  I want to be…

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I think the main reason we resist being ourselves is a fear of rejection but I would rather be rejected for being me than for being an impersonation.  On the flip side, I would much rather be accepted for being me than for being someone else.

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So…

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Some of you know me but most of you don’t.  I thought I’d properly introduce myself by telling you a baker’s dozen random things that make me uniquely me.  Even those of you who do know me will probably learn something new.

Here goes…

  • I’m 100% Canadian.  I was born on the east coast and currently live on the west coast.  I’ve lived in 3 provinces and 1 territory, and I’ve driven from coast to coast (all 10 provinces, which equates to roughly 7300 km or 4500 miles), although mercifully not all at once.  Ironically, I am not a fan of either cold or snow – 2 things quite indigenous to Canada.
  • I’ve been the only female born into my family in over 51 years… with no end in sight.
  • I love sports.  I particularly love watching junior and NHL hockey (boys/men’s), PGA/Master’s golf (men’s), NASCAR, Formula One, Monaco Grand Prix, and Wimbledon tennis, to name just a few.  I also love watching TSN’s SportsCentre, especially when Jay and Dan are the co-hosts.
  • Beef is my favorite food group (with sincere apologies to any vegetarians but little remorse and likely no repentance…).
  • Professionally, I tend to come across as self-assured but, personally, I can be a little shy sometimes.
  • I’m typically not a games person but I love playing Scrabble (and I’m actually pretty good at it).
  • I dislike reading instruction manuals of any kind, and will go to ridiculous lengths to avoid doing so.
  • I have fibromyalgia that is controlled by medication, exercise, and diet.  I’m far too stubborn to let it run my life any more than it absolutely has to.
  • I love reading true crime (except about serial killers) and also watching true crime shows like Dateline or 48 Hours Mystery but nearly every other remotely scary thing, either real or imagined, gives me nightmares.
  • I’m largely supposed to avoid sugar but my dessert of choice is New York style cheesecake (and the richer, the better).  It tastes even better when you can only have it once in a blue moon (which, by my calculations, should be any day now).
  • I’ve had migraines for 24 years.  Next year, I’m planning to celebrate my first migraine free year in 25 years.  I believe in miracles.
  • My first concussion happened when I was 8 and drove my brother’s bike (complete with banana seat and high handlebars) as hard as I could into the side of a brick Christian reformed church.  I feel obliged to point out that I did not do that on purpose.
  • I once got MSG poisoning at a Chinese buffet, fainted on the cutlery table, and cracked a couple of ribs.  Needless to say, I’ve been studiously avoiding MSG ever since (not an easy feat given that it’s in everything these days…).

There you have it.  13 facts unique to me.  So allow me to formally introduce myself.

Hi, my name is Joy…

I am noordinaryjoy61.

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Playing with fire…

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I have to confess that I’m a little weary with life at the moment.  The job that I thought had so much promise is actually very unsafe and volatile, with sometimes punishing hours, so I’m back to looking for work again.  One of the girls who was hired at the same time, and who had come to the same conclusion, found another job pretty much instantly.  I, on the other hand, have applied for close to 120 jobs over the past four months alone, but the search still continues.

Then there’s financial challenges, relational challenges, and even weather challenges.  The storm that’s supposed to descend on the city later today will mark the beginning of our seventh consecutive month of snow and cold – two aspects of Canadian weather that I struggle with at the best of times.

It doesn’t feel fair.  Well…

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So, it seems to me that I have three choices…

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Well, if you put it that way, the answer is easy.  It’s never an option to give in or give up, so I have to give it my all.  And the truth is…

A bad day is not a bad life.

There have been more than a few times where I’ve had a whole lot of bad days strung together but that still does not equate to a bad life.  I’m thankful for my life and I’m thankful that I’m me.  So, what’s the solution?

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I can either be part of the solution or part of the problem.  The choice is mine and mine alone.

Now granted, I’ve spent a LOT of time trying to find remedies.  You have no idea.  But, just because a remedy is difficult to find doesn’t mean I should just throw the towel in.  After all…

Giving your all doesn’t come with an expiry date.

Plus, something great could be right around the corner.  Granted, it doesn’t feel that way right now but my feelings are not facts.  They’re just my interpretation of the situation, skewed by emotion.  Still not facts.

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I’ve been working with young people lately who feel a sense of entitlement.  Like the world owes them something.  That the rules don’t apply to them because they’ve had a rough life.  They think they don’t have to put out an effort until life gives them what they want, and then they’ll miraculously turn around their behavior, attitudes, and actions.

It doesn’t work like that.

Just think about walking through fire.  If you stop walking in the middle of fire, you’re going to burn up or, at the very least, have a meltdown.  The only possible way to get through fire relatively intact is to keep walking.  You might be singed around the edges or have a burn or two but the chances are you’ll survive.  And, you’ll be that much stronger for having walked through fire and made it to the other side.

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Do I feel any better about things now that I’ve given myself this little pep talk?  Honestly, no.  But, if I keep standing on facts and not on feelings, this too shall pass.  If I keep focusing on remedies and not on the problem, this too shall pass.  If I keep remembering my blessings and how far I’ve come, this too shall pass.

When?

Well, that’s a variable I don’t know and have no control over.  I just need to focus on the things I do have control over.  My attitude and my effort.  Oh yes, and prayer.  Prayer changes things.  At the very least, it changes the one who’s praying.  And I can never get too many tune-ups.

When I find success, I guarantee I’ll feel a whole lot better knowing that I gave it my all than if I look back and realize I wasn’t the kind of person I should have been just because the going got tough.  The truth is…

The journey is just as important as the destination… if not more.

So, I think I’m going to lit a match and see if I can shed a little light on the situation.

It’s time to fight a little fire with fire.

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False advertising…

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In advertising, it seems there’s a lot of leeway these days to promote your product as being one thing when, in reality, it’s something totally different.  Usually not what you expected and definitely not what you wanted.

The same can be said of people.

I’ve known people who have been quick to say that they’re humble.  That’s a double edged sword because, if you have to tell people blog 2that you’re humble, you’re most likely not.  Humble people are just humble.  They’re not pointing it out to anyone.  That would defeat the whole purpose.  It usually isn’t long before you notice that the people claiming to be humble are actually very prideful in their words and actions.

False advertising.

It can apply to anything.  People who say they’re patient but have a hair trigger temper.  People who say they’re dependable but rarely show up on time or sometimes don’t show up at all.  People blog 3who say they’re nice but who say or do unkind things.  People who say they’re honest but cheat on their taxes or pocket the extra change when the waitress makes a mistake.

You get my drift…

What you see is clearly not what they would have you to believe.  They want you to believe their ‘billing’ over the ‘product’.

False advertising.

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It can be all too easy to think that just because we claim something is true about ourselves, people will automatically believe it.  That our words will speak louder than actions.  But, there’s a reason the saying is “actions speak louder than words”, and not vice versa.  It’s reality.

I had a job interview yesterday, and I was asked to give three words that best described myself.  I thought very carefully before answering because the last thing I wanted was to say something  that my words and actions wouldn’t back up relatively consistently.  I prefer to under sell and over deliver.  That means being brutally honest with myself about who I am and who I am not.

In the dictionary, it says, “Don’t pay any attention to what John says. He’s just trying to sell you a bill of goods.”  I never want to be that person.

I once heard the question, “What would my life say if I said nothing at all?”.   I want my life to speak for itself, and to speak positive things.  I don’t want to be my own advertiser.  I just want to deliver and let others decide what the headings should be.

One of the words I used to describe myself in the interview was ‘professional’.  It felt good when the interviewer nodded her head in agreement and said, “that’s obvious”.  Both a relief and a challenge to keep following through.

True advertising.  It doesn’t have to be an oxymoron…

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