Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Books About Love (Don't Worry, It's Not The Cheesy Kind You're Probably Already Thinking Of)

I love books about love.

I understand the above is a pretty random statement, but the truth and relevance behind it make it a statement worth exploring.

When I mention books about ‘love’ I am talking about the sweep you off your feet, make you do crazy things, live a life of whimsy and grandeur only the love affair with God can bring to you. It’s a love never fully described by any human being (the span of the Earth’s most talented writers could write for their entire existences combined and never fully grasp and be able to form into sentences the epic nature of this love).

That’s probably why I love reading about it.

I love reading about something I can never fully understand. I like how it’s not in the ‘I’m not a science person so I don’t get it’ way, or the ‘I’ve never been good at math’ kind of way—but the ‘This is so huge’ way which leaves us constantly yearning for more… more knowledge, but more so, more experiences. Experiencing this kind of love makes you want to learn more. Learning more makes you want to experience more. It’s possibly one of the best cycles to be on.

The books topping my list of ‘love’ books are Crazy Love byFrancis Chan, The Love Revolution by Joyce Meyer, and the most current addition to the list, Love Does by Bob Goff.

I met Bob Goff once. He gave me a hug upon our first meeting and was one of the most difficult individuals of the day to keep tabs on. The words “Anyone have eyes on Bob?” were so common in one short time frame. It was Not For Sale’s 2012 Global Forum and I was assisting back stage—keeping tabs on all the speakers, making sure they were in the green room prior to their main stage appearance, ensuring they were getting mic’d up at the required time, and then, my favourite part, handing over their ‘Thank You’ gift upon their exit from the stage. While most folks were easy to get back stage-- and have them stay there, Bob liked to listen to the other speakers. Listening to the other speakers in itself is wonderful, however, he enjoyed listening not from the designated place to watch for speakers, but from the back of the room. Really, the back of the room is the best place to take everything in—you get the full experience, but when your job is to get people where they need to be, the back of the room is the hardest place to spot someone and casually get them to the backstage area.

The way individuals flocked to Bob was nothing short of amazing. His “intimate break out session” designed to host 25 individuals literally took over the space. The crowd gathered turned out to be closer to, oh, almost everyone in attendance. If someone can draw that huge of a crowd, hugs everyone he meets, and can actually engage an entire audience, I want to read their book.

I finally got my hands on a copy of Love Does and it has quickly become one of my favourite books to read. The chapter length makes it ideal to bust out while waiting for food, a friend, or between jobs. It has also proven to be a wonderful conversation starter. The stories told, always ending with how wonderful Jesus is and how God moves in our lives, creates a perfect inspirational backdrop to how your days can continue to move forward in pursuit of Love. Love waiting for you, calling your name, reaching for your hand, enticing you to come along for the adventure it knows you are created for.

While I could easily recount numerous concepts, sentiments and one-liners that I’ve wanted to post endlessly on social media, my choice of topic is Whimsy.

I have never been more enthralled with a word than I am of the word Whimsy. In the book Bob says;
“What whimsy means to me is a combination of the “do” part of faith along with doing something worth doing. It’s whimsy that spreads hope like grass seed in the wind. Whimsy reminds me of the Bible, too, when it talks about stuff being like an aroma. It is not an overpowering one, just something that has the scent of God’s love, an unmistakable scent that lingers.”

This description of whimsy is delightful, don’t you think?
Contemplating Bob Goff’s definition combined with the general whimsical sentiment leaves me excited.

Lately I have felt the unmistakable sense of whimsy while riding my bike and looking at the trees. I am consistently in awe of Gods awesomeness when looking at the trees—their sheer size and ability to grow so large is incredible. How each one can be adorned with thousands upon thousands of intricate leaves, and how the roots go so deep down it’s almost unimaginable. Talk about a work of art. Combine those awe-creating factors with all the life giving properties of trees and can someone not be carried away by a whimsy only accented by the warm summer breeze gently swaying them in song and dance? Taking in this awe-creating surrounding allows me to arrive at my destination ready to put faith to action—an action worth doing and allowing Bob Goff’s definition to set in.

When you send love and whimsy flying towards each other from opposite directions, the fragments from the crash are their own brand of ‘doing’ that are unstoppable. It’s up to us to allow the fragments to get lodged in our heart to guide us where God wants us to go—spreading more love and whimsy to all we encounter. Imagine everyone ‘doing’…. I can’t help but smile and feel the inspirational excitement of the justice, restoration, peace, and all other wonderful feats actively being pursued out of what Love can do!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Stop Participating In The Problem

My name is Aelea and I am an addict.
I am addicted to motivating, inspirational quotes cleverly placed on top of images of intriguing cityscapes, endless landscapes or any other generic beautiful thing that nature and creation has to offer.

I'm not sure when my addiction started but it has been fed by clever videos in church, Pinterest, Facebook, and artsy friends. This addiction has taken over my "likes" on Instagram and Pinterest, and makes the photo album on my iPhone full of images I scroll through when I feel a need to be pumped up or left in wonder of the world around us. One main contributor to this addiction is a certain Facebook page called Pure Nourishment. It's literally a page where most of the posts are epic images with matching epic phrases to make you feel good, make you say "ha, so true" or images that you want to share with others.  The most recent images that I have "liked", saved as images in my phone, and read through many a time are the following;

A black and white image of a trendy lady roaming the streets outside of what are most likely equally trendy coffee shops and cafes with the saying, "When a woman says, 'I have nothing to wear!', what she really means is 'There's nothing here for who I'm supposed to be today.'" - Caitlin Moran
An image of a whimsical underwater scene bursting with lovely shades of teal, coral, peach and pink with the words "Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
A simple white background with black handwriting declaring "Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem." 
And a bold statement in white and red on a sky blue background boasting "Don't just talk about it, be about it."

The first two are fun but the last two are truly the most amazing and challenging. 

When I read the words "Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem." I immediately thought of our daily choices and their contributions to slavery. Yes, our daily choices contributing to slavery-- the choices we don't realize, the choices we do realize but choose to ignore for our 'sweet fix' or 'It's just so cute I have to have it' mentality that leaves us thinking the more we have, the better off we will be. I will never tire of telling people about the issues of slavery, but there comes a point when I tire of telling the same people about the same issues just to see them continue on a path that completely ignores the very things they eagerly and passionately inquired to me about.

The famous William Wilberforce quote goes, 'You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.' To me, this quote needs an image behind it, cleverly designed in such a way that people 'like' it on all forms of social media, share it with their friends, save it to their phone photo albums, and allow it to penetrate their electronic life that is so heavily relied upon. Allowing themselves to be constantly faced with the fact they do know brings to light they can never again say they didn't-- that they can never again say they didn't have an option because the very fact they see the image every day reminds them they already have an inherent interest in how to be a change maker in the world. 

When it really comes down to it, we are all created with a level of compassion that seeks justice when someone is wronged. When something bad happens we all automatically want to do something to see the scales of the situation tilted in the opposite direction and have the wrong made right. The issue of modern day slavery is exactly the same and requires us to actively pursue the balance of seeking justice when we know injustice exists. The goal, however, is not to have balanced scales, but a scale where the justice is so evident-- so strong in comparison to injustice-- that injustice is no longer existent to even add a feather weight on the scale. 

As a goal we can all be active in pursuing, we can stop participating in the problem and be part of the solution. It's in our somewhat meaningless every day choices the most meaning can come from-- we can stop actively participating in the problem.

What is your most meaningless choice that you have come to realize contributes the most, to not only modern day slavery, but to injustice in any of it's many forms?