Friday, April 29, 2011


I was all set to write about a certain topic this week when another little idea came knocking on my consciousness’ door, politely saying, “Excuse me, but I have something important to say.” I let this new topic in and entertained it. I liked it. I liked it so much that the topic I was going to write about quietly crept into a corner to patiently wait a little longer for its moment in the blog spotlight.

A few times this week, I have heard people say, “I never expected that this would happen,” or, “I never expected things in my life would have gone this way,” or, “If someone told me a few years ago that I would be [here], doing [this], I would have said, ‘Uh-uh—never. I can’t do that. Are you crazy?’”

I started thinking about expectations. Looking back on my life, many things have happened that I never expected would happen. Many things. If ten years ago, someone would have provided me with a file folder, saying, “OK, Christina, here’s a timeline of events for your 20s: Age 20-30. If you have any questions, well, it’s all there, in the file,” I would have scanned through my file, shook my head vehemently, snapped it shut and thrust it back into the hands of whoever handed it to me. I would have said, “Yeah right! Are you serious? No, no, no. Obviously that file was labeled wrong. Get me my file [thumb to chest]. I want my file.”

Alas, that was my file. Those things happened. Here I am, living proof of the truth of that file.

What about you? Where are you, and what are you doing? Has the timeline of your life, in your file, unfolded just as you expected it to? Ten years ago—fifteen, twenty years ago—did you expect to be where you are today? Did you expect the things that have happened in your life to happen just the way they did?

I started wondering why I even bother expecting anything if my expectations (or lack thereof) don't at all govern or determine the future.

I mean, to some extent, we all must have a sense of what we need/want/ought to live for, such as to be there for and support our families and friends, to carry out our passions and use our gifts and to show God’s love to people. We all must have some expectations—some aspirations and goals and dreams that set us in motion.

Unfortunately, however, we might have such a penchant for certain expectations that we would do anything to protect them from changing. Block walls can be built around expectations: walls that prevent spontaneous, new plans from coming to the forefront of our minds; walls that make the concept of “Plan B” seem unwelcome and inferior to “Plan A.” Unfortunately, I think sometimes my personal expectations have even barricaded God from providing me with His wise guidance.

The timing of our expectations can prevent us from enjoying our current situations. People (including me) will say, “As soon as I get a job, I’ll be able to relax. As soon as we’re done having kids, we’ll be able to enjoy our lives. As soon as [whatever] happens, I’ll be happy.” We expect the next stage of our lives to happen before we can be content. That puts us in a perpetual state of limbo, my friends! So I’m learning that instead of living in limbo until my next expectation comes to life, I should be living.

When expectations grow into colossal Great Walls that don’t let anything else in, leaving us feeling disappointed, or like failures because circumstances manage to overtake the walls, there’s a problem. We resist the change in plans, feeling like our expectations are under attack. We feel like the world is against us or like we can’t do anything right. We fight changes in plans, shooting arrows of resistance at our circumstantial attackers.

I also think this can happen the other way around: by not giving ourselves enough credit as to our potential and our capabilities; instead of expecting “more,” “sooner,” or [this specific outcome], sometimes people don’t expect enough. A lot of people will say, “I never expected that I’d be [insert unbelievable-yet-actually true career path or position or what-you-do here]. Never in a million years did I think I would be doing [this].” In this case, the lack of expectation acts as a barrier to our potential, blocking great opportunities because we don’t even notice them.

I’m learning that I should be dismantling both the brick walls of Expectation and the barriers of Lack of Expectation. They should be more like permeable chain-link fences that can be easily removed, readjusted or hopped over if necessary.

After all, how are we supposed to know what’s best for us anyway? Who are we to think that we will never be good enough for a certain future? We with our finite minds can only form expectations based on our past, our present and other people’s examples. God has expectations for us, knowing everything, especially knowing how important and valuable each person is to Him.

My parents have a simple framed Dutch tile that reads: 

(Translation: “For the concert of life, no one gets a program.”

Or, “The files of your life are confidential and not even you have access to them.”

Our lives are a concert. We don’t know what to expect or when to expect crescendos and decrescendos, fast parts and slow, happiness and sadness, life and death. It’s all in there, but it’s woven together beautifully by Someone Who knows just how to work everything out so that once the last notes have finished resonating through the hall, you can take a deep breath and say, “Wow. That was absolutely amazing. I never expected it to be this way, but it's so...wonderful.”

Don’t let your expectations get in the way of what God has in store for you; just let your expectation be that what God has in store for you is going to be wonderful.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Love that Covers

One day this week, I sat at my computer, thinking about Easter. I started recalling all I know about Easter by journeying through the Easterland that my mind conjured up. I wondered, What lies at the centre of Easter?

First, I found myself shovelling boatloads of Cadbury Mini-Eggs out of my way so I could keep going. (By the way, don’t Cadbury Mini-Eggs smell amazing?) I then encountered Cadbury Crème Eggs and the kind of chocolate eggs that are wrapped in colourful foil, but don’t taste as good as anything made by Cadbury. I also had to hack through piles and piles of white- and milk-chocolate bunnies, kittens, puppies, eggs and chicks. The hollow ones were a lot easier to move out of my way. Some of these chocolates ended up in a basket that I carried on my right arm.

Once I got through the chocolate, I encountered a beautiful landscape full of spring flowers that looked like they just jumped out of the ground one day. Easter flowers. Daffodils, tulips, lilies, lilies, lilies. Oh, and fields of blue hydrangeas (my absolute favourite). The happiness of their petals contrasted with the damp earth underneath. I walked past both flowers growing out of the ground and flowers planted in pots covered in purple foil. I pushed the leaves of these flowers out of my way and kept on going.

The walking got a little easier once I stepped over the last few white clucking bunnies and the last few beautifully-painted actual eggs. 

Everything was colourful—I saw no end to sunny, pastel colours. I continued down a path, surrounded by light green grass—a field, I guess. The breeze gently brushed past me as though it was pressing on ahead.

The path led me into a little stand of trees, and to the east was a tomb. An empty tomb. I hurried along because even though the tomb was empty, it was still a tomb [shudder].

The path started winding up a hill. At the top of the hill were three crosses. The cross in the middle was bigger than the other two.

I stopped and knelt in awe, reverence and thanksgiving for what the middle cross represented. It was splintery, blood-stained and tilted, but it was the most stunningly beautiful thing I had ever seen. The path meandered past the crosses, so I kept going; there was more to discover.

I didn’t have to walk far before I came upon something so large, so infinite that I was made to stop walking. This tangible “thing” at the same time spanned higher and lower than anything I’d ever seen. It was a creamy, rosy pink in colour—the kind of pink that girls delight in and guys set aside their preconceptions to appreciate. What I saw was not so much a wall as it was a dynamic monolith, and it covered me. It covered me with an easy weight, like the weight of warm, fleecy throw blankets in winter time. It covered everything. It covered Easterland. It covered north, south, east and west. It covered the universe. It covered history. It covered time and space, blanketing existence with a creamy, rosy pink life-giving promise. I kind of forgot where I was and how I got there. I felt—I experienced—one thing, and one thing only.


God’s love.

Oh, how deep the Father’s love for us; a love so deep that He gave Jesus so that if we only believe in Him, we won’t perish but have life that lasts forever—that kind of love. The monolithic kind.

This year, when I pondered and wondered about Easter, I wanted to get the crux of the cross. I walked past everything “Easter” until I got to its heart: God’s love, infinite and beautiful and wonderful.

Seriously. Can you believe how much love is involved in a father giving up His only Son for billions of people who just can’t save themselves?  Can you believe that no matter what you’ve thought, said or done, what choices you’ve made or will make that God loves you with a love that is perfect and complete and unconditional? Can you believe that God’s love overrides your current perceptions of Him? Can you believe that God intimately knows and understands everything about every single person who has lived, is living and will live, and that regardless of what each of us believes or thinks of God, He loves everyone anyway? The same love that fuelled grace and redemption drenches every square inch of you. Of me. Of the human race.

I think I’ve only managed to lift the corners of His love; to peel back the golden, pinky epithelial layer enough to sit frozen at my computer, to become lost in that love, to find it hard to comprehend that this kind of love is possible, yet knowing that regardless of what I am able to understand or what position I take on it, it’s actually true. God’s love is covering you right now. Think about it. You’ll feel it.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giving It Up

corbis images

Have you ever noticed that when you are going through something, needing an answer, that all of a sudden you find the same answer, or same truth, resonating from every direction? Appearing around every concrete corner? Soaking you from all sides? I suppose that’s how you know it’s real and really the right answer.

For the past couple of months, I have to confess I’ve been going through a bit of a slump. I decided not to return to the job I had before I went on maternity leave (which is over now), for several reasons. However, I thought that for sure by now I would have found another job, which I really do need, also for several reasons. I have not.

For the past couple of months, I have searched online for jobs daily, applied for jobs, been interviewed, updated and improved my resume three times, had my cover letter critiqued and then updated it twice, acquired very good references, joined LinkedIn, dropped off resumes, went to a job fair, and told literally every person I have had a conversation with that I am looking for a job. I have strived. I have struggled. I have fought a very disheartening battle within my mind daily and hourly, trying to figure out what to do next and who to talk to, trying to decide if I’ve become too choosy, trying to justify whether or not part-time really is the best—essentially trying to conjure up a solution. I have not.

I feel like I’ve been flailing and failing.

I remember praying about this several weeks ago, asking (and I quote), “God, please help me to figure out what to do to find a job.” A still small voice kind of interrupted me (gently), saying, “You don’t have to figure anything out.”

Oh…. Really?

That should have been enough to centre me in God’s grace, but I kept reverting back to my human nature, thinking and analyzing and trying and struggling, using my best efforts to get my own plan together. Thankfully, God didn’t give up on me. Over and over, that same message has been communicated to me—with minor variations—from:

·         church sermons
·         conversations with friends and family
·         reading other people’s inspirational blogs (namely, my cousin Alison’s and my friend Estelle’s)
·         reading books
·         editing I’ve done for a client (Divine Exchange) (To clarify, I am a self-employed writer/editor, but I am looking for employment to supplement that work.)

The message has rained on me from all sides. As Forrest Gump said about the rain when he was in Vietnam, the rain even seemed to come up from underneath.

So what exactly is this message?

God’s timing is perfect. God’s plan is perfect. Yes, He actually does have a plan for me because He created me (just like He has a plan for you). God’s grace is sufficient. When I am weak, then I am strong; His strength is made perfect in my weakness. When I have done all I can do, I ought to trust God—in fact, I should have started with trusting God. I don’t need to figure anything out. I don’t need to figure out a solution in my own strength because God has already figured it out. My own efforts won’t ever be good enough and they will just end up making me feel frustrated. Rest in Him. Let go and let God. To start thriving, stop striving. When I’m in God’s grace, fulfilling His will, I’ll be the happiest, most peaceful and most satisfied. “Father knows best.”
OK, I thought. Interesting. This must be my answer.

This message is simple and wonderful, but it’s very HARD to carry out.


I’m not the type of person who can just sit there and relax. I need to be doing something. Work first, play later. If I have too much time to think, my mind becomes oppressive, reminding me that I really need something I don’t have. I feel inadequate and lonely and generally crappy because I’m not doing enough to bring finances into my household. Human nature demands that I will and work and strive and strain instead of resting and waiting. My soul, who tries to figure things out, who wants work really hard and try really hard in this “I-me-self-society” so that I can say that I worked hard and tried hard and got what I wanted (success/recognition), battles with my spirit, who tries to rest in the truth that with God, all things are possible; that God’s grace has provided everything I will never need, without having to strive; that all I need to do is trust in the Lord without leaning on my own understanding. I kind of feel like I’ve been going through “soul rehab” or something. I mean, our souls are important (God gave us souls), but they are often overbearing, loud-mouthed and outspoken. Our souls need to learn how to take the backseat and give our spirits the wheel instead of constantly speaking out of turn.

Thankfully, I’ve also learned that in waiting for an answer from God, in waiting for Him to pull everything together in His perfect timing, I don’t actually need to sit on the couch with my arms crossed, impatiently tapping my foot on the floor. (I couldn’t do that anyway.) There are many things I can be doing in the meantime. After all, how can God guide you if you aren’t even walking? I can still keep my eyes open and be on the look-out for opportunities, network, reach out to people, take care of my household to the best of my ability, give my client my best, pray (pray, pray and pray some more), trust, acknowledge that I can’t figure it out with my own willpower and strength but God can, and most recently, blog about my situation so that it might encourage you—in case you are going through something similar: a conflict between spirit and soul, a period of waiting, wondering what God has in store for you next, sitting at a crossroads or facing a struggle.

This isn’t “giving up”; this is “giving it up”: giving your struggle-that-you-are-trying-to-figure-out-and-solve-within-your-own-abilities up in exchange for God’s grace, strength and wisdom. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Six Months in Review

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been blogging for six months!


Because I love to organize and analyze, I figured that the six-month mark was a good time to reflect on all of my posts and see just what I've ended up writing about.

When I started Seven Wonders, I wasn't entirely sure what direction it would take. I just knew that my inquisitive, wondering mind would figure out plenty of topics to ponder, using a blog as the platform.

If you are new to my blog, this review will assist you in navigating through my older posts. If you have read one or two, a few, several, many, most or even all of my posts (thank you!), you might find what I've found to be interesting.

I was able to divide all of my posts into five categories:

1. How our minds work: psychological kinds of questions I have/phenomena I wonder about (7 posts)
2. Personal stories and experiences (and their significance, and hopefully what you can glean from them) (7 posts)
3. Inspirational posts/encouragement for you (7 posts)
4. Personal poetry/creative writing (4 posts)
5. My thoughts on certain holidays/celebrations (3 posts)

I found that the three topics of how the mind works, my personal stories and inspirational encouragement have shared equal portions of my blog. That wasn't intentional, so it's interesting. I haven't posted much of my own creative writing, but as I mentioned last week, I hope to change that, but still make sure I include in the post what I thought or wondered about that inspired me to write the piece (to stay true to my blog's purpose).

Below are the links to each post under each category heading, in case you'd like to peruse them by category instead of by date!

If you have any comments, requests or suggestions, let me know!

Thanks again for reading,


1. How our minds work: psychological questions and phenomena I wonder about:

The Baby and The Dog
Um...and Similar-Sounding Pause-Fillers
The Physical Space Between
Perceptual Vigilance
Smell Memories
Long-Term Memories: What You Didn't Realize You Knew
Gut Feelings

2. Personal stories and experiences:

The Comfort Maple
Gluten Freedom
Head Over Heels for Hayden
The Baby Beacon
Food for Thought
Books, Books, Books
Ironic Renovation

3. Inspirational/encouragement:

The Wonder of the Working Mother
Serenity Now
Balance: Mind and Body
Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful
The Choreography of Life
The Definition of You
The Stickers

4. Poetry/creative writing:

Wonderful Christmas: Dichotomies and All
Tribute to the Wind
Poetry Corner

5. Holidays/celebrations:

Wonderful Christmas: Dichotomies and All
Back to the Stable
On the Origin of St. Valentine's Day

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Poetry Corner

I’ve been writing poetry and creative pieces for a long time—i.e. since I was a kid. I haven’t posted much of my own creative writing for you to read, and I’d like to change that. Many of the pieces I wrote some time ago (in my teens) are still very special to me today. I am posting some for you to read. Before each one is a short description of the piece and why it is significant. Please enjoy!


Have you ever wondered what you would see if your inside (heart, soul) was reflected back to you? I thought about this for a while, wondering if perhaps we tend to ignore our faults or regrets because they aren’t physically visible. When you look in the mirror, you just see your face and body—not your memories or feelings. What would you see if you looked into a soul mirror? After writing Shoes, I have worked on making a conscious effort to “clean” my heart and soul so that if I were to see inside, I would be content with what I saw.

Wearing the cleanest pair of shoes possible,
I trek down the street, along the sidewalk,
Past rows of trees and groves of people
Head up high, but glancing down to my feet every few seconds or so
-I don’t want to fall in front of all these people
-I don’t want to step in a mud puddle and dirty my shoes
-I just want to get to where I am going, where the wind stopped blowing, where the traffic is slowing because of the sight to be beheld

A crystal statue on a white platform

That is why I wore white shoes:
So as not to dirty the platform
People cluster round, enamoured by the glorious and shining statue
The prestigious work of art on a pedestal before mankind
A regal piece of clear crystal
We look—many people as one
Collectively into the sparkle and glitter and glow and shimmer

We see our reflections

Youth and old age,
Mothers and fathers and sons and daughters
We see hatred in furrowed brows
Bruised self-esteem in curved shoulders
Regret in a slow walk
Bitterness in sour lips
Flashing lightning eyes
I see one million emotions
Almost but not quite hidden behind many wrinkles and few smiles
Nightmares plaguing daytime
Sinking realizations dropping one million stomachs onto the ground…
We see who we are and most are not pleased with the shocking outside turned around

I walk away
My shoes are filthy now
The dirt makes it hard to walk, and I keep tripping over everyone’s stomachs
But I stumble back as fast as I can
Back to my home, full of shoes, full of my past
I need to regurgitate my weaknesses
I don’t want to have to change my shoes…again.

Please don’t make me change my shoes again!


I was inspired to write this poem after reading the novel Jerusalem by Cecelia Holland. Jerusalem is a fictional story set in the time of the Crusades (religiously commissioned military campaign that took place in 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, aiming to take the Holy Land back from Muslim control). I wondered what it would be like to be a soldier, fighting in battle, knowing he was about to die. I wondered if someone who knew there was life after death would feel conflicting emotions: the pain of defeat and mortal wounds combining with the expectant hope of a heavenly afterlife. I don’t intend for Battles to be depressing: I actually mean for readers to see hope in even the worst of circumstances.

So he sits
Cradling heavy head in blistered hands
Enshrouded in the dusty sands
Wondering, waiting, wishing
Anywhere but here
All sounds of good and bad
Indistinguishable now
Blended together now
As he cowers, as he falls
As arrows shower on them all
And his light of hope is snuffed out
Only the memory remains in a cloud of smoke
He chokes and chokes
And coughs up his life
He wants nothing more than to smile;
To be assured of something better than this
A way forward, onward,
Toward something bright
Something other than night
He cries and cries and meanwhile
His soul stands trial
He begins to wither
He mimics the weather:
The clouds so thick
They mask the sun
The sun so bright
It glows anon
And then he knows
And then it shows

Death renewed his spirit
The battle is over within him, as his spirit rises up above
As the battle rages on all around his crumpled body down below.


I wrote this for a creative writing high school assignment. I chose this topic in memory of my much-loved late cousin, who had passed away a few years beforehand. I wondered what the time and space of transitioning into the afterlife would feel like. This piece has received a great response at a couple of poetry readings I’ve participated in. Metamorphia is a little intense, but that’s the whole point.

I am running. I’m running so fast and so far that if I tried to go back, I’d surely lose my way. My feet move so swiftly that I’m surprising myself. The perfect trees are but green remnants of clouds in my peripheral vision and I can’t see the sky. I don’t remember if it is day or night. I don’t know if I hear music out loud or if it’s in my head. I don’t even know for sure if I’m running anymore. Yet it is all so clear to me in one certain way. So crystal clear that as I am, I scream and the blood in my veins transforms into liquid passion. I love…I love deeply…I have gallons of love inside my body and I’m ready to pour it out. I know that the love has to come out soon, or else I will burst and explode and erupt. I am reconciled with myself. I run hand in hand with God. My other hand is extended into the mist or rain or sun or whatever it is. My eyes see deeply and intensely into the intense depths of this place. This place! I finally know where I am and I definitely love it and the music gets louder, and all I want is to rip myself out of this fantasy world and throw myself into my real world where I can have this for real and God for real and myself for real****is this really real?*****A loud bang and little shards of glass shatter on my ears, and I open my eyes, and I am face to face—face to face with eternity. I have changed. I am here.

I have stopped running.


I know the topics involved in these pieces are serious and “heavy.” Hopefully they have produced some positive emotions or feelings or inspiration in you. I’d love you hear your feedback.