Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Final picks

It's come down to this. One final best of seven series will decide once and for all who the best of the NHL is for the 2010-2011 season. Here it goes: Boston vs. Vancouver.

Admittedly, I have a little bit of a bias here. Colin is a BIG Vancouver fan and has been hoping his team would be here, well, for 40 years, but especially since the beginning of the season. They've always been my "second" favorite team so, with Edmonton not playing, it's been a natural for me to cheer the Nucks along the way. That said, let's talk get down to the nitty gritty of this series.

That's what it will be: gritty. Both of these teams like to play the body and they have the size to put their money where their mouth is (has anyone seen how huge Chara is!?). Considering that's the way that both teams play, it's surprising to see that their line ups are relatively healthy for this point in the season. Boston is dressing everyone, by the looks of things, and Vancouver, while short a few defensemen, isn't too far behind...far better than the carnage these wrecking ball teams have left in their wake as they trudged towards Lord Stanley's cup.

If history counts for anything, Boston won the only game the two teams played against each other this season. In fact, they've won the majority of the games these teams have played against each other in the last several seasons. We'll see if that matters.

Both teams are Cup-hungry. Boston has not seen the cup in years. Many, many long years. The Nucks have never won the cup.

Both teams have great goalies with nearly identical goals against and save percentages for the playoffs. Both have proved to be able to be game changers and have had opportunity to carry their teams. That said, Luongo is coming off of an outstanding game 5 performance, facing a whopping 56 shots in double OT, to defeat the sharks where Thomas seemed a little bit shaky as the Bruins battled to finish off Tampa.

Let's talk d-men. Chara is a beast and has earned his place in the finals. The rest of Boston's defensive core are no slouches either. That said, with guys like Bieksa working to earn their multi-dollar sign salaries with flare, it could be said that Vancouver's defense is by far the deepest in the league. They can expect production from every guy and have given at least nine players play-off ice time. Good thing considering the few injuries plaguing the Nucks are behind the blue line.

Now let's check out front. Stats from the forwards are nothing to frown at for either team but, again, I like the depth of Vancouver. Henrik, Daniel and Kesler compared to Horton and Lucic. Comparing fourth lines for the two teams is, in my mind, a little like comparing apples and oranges. It will be especially exciting to see what happens to the energy on the ice if, as anticipated, Manny Malhotra does, in fact, find his way to the ice for the playoffs.

The big difference between these two teams though is special teams. Like I've said about Boston before, they're just missing something when it comes to special teams - power play stats and penalty kill are lacking. That has the potential to be deadly playing against Vancouver, who's power play had it's way with Nashville and the Sharks. This will be especially important if Vancouver manages to keep their guys out of the box and off the ice, giving the Sedins a chance to play and utilize the team's strength as a 5 on 5 team.

So here goes nothing: Vancouver in 6 for the Cup.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Makes Me Chuckle

I love these guys and they always make me laugh. I can relate...mostly...except I usually want less room than they give me. More coffee, please. Perhaps that's a good enough reason for a crusade!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Who am I?

I read this blog today and it made me sad. Sad because I get it. Sad because the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence either.

See, I've got this line that often use in jest. I say "I'm really not a normal girl" or "I'm just not a girly girl" and I know what it means. I love hockey and could probably chat stats with the best of them...current ones, not the old ones. I argue that the CFL is better than the NFL and mean it. I am learning to love mountain biking. I enjoy sports, both playing and watching.  My favorite movies include pirates, bank robbers, gladiators, or robots and, ideally, something being blown up. I like to get dirty, whether it's in my yard or exploring the greater outdoors. Sometimes, I even feel like I think like a guy in terms of work...because a woman who finds value in working is obviously a feminist, right? I'm a leader, not a follower. I have opinions. Strong ones. Lots of them. I enjoy building stuff and am okay to lift stuff. I've changed the brakes in my car before, know how to change the oil and could swap tires if I had a flat (but don't worry, I'd still take advantage of someone else offering to do it for me!).

I don't like pink or dramatic movies that make me cry. Rom coms are actually quite unnecessary, if you ask me. I don't go shopping for fun or know how to put together a great outfit. I don't feel like I have a "style" but, by virtue of picking out a certain style of clothes, I guess I probably do, albeit, maybe a bad one. Who would know? Certainly not me. I own maybe 6 pairs of shoes and I'm sure two of them are flip flops. Makeup and hair products confuse me and stress me out. Most days I don't wear make up. Accessories? What are those? Most crafting makes me shudder. Girls' nights freak me out a little bit. What on earth do I have to offer in those situations?! I prefer a good steak or juicy burger to salads and vegetables any day although I am very conscious of nutrition and want to live a healthy life. I use the public washroom but I go by myself. Really, it makes me uncomfortable to go with other people. I can do it myself, thank you. Decorating and shopping are done out of necessity, not just for fun. Rarely are they a social activity.

And here's the kicker. The one that's making me feel separated and far apart from what a "real" woman should be, at least lately in the church: I'm not a wife or mom nor can I have conversations about all things concerning being a wife and mother. I simply become a bystander in conversations about diapers and school choices, cribs or growth patterns, discipline strategies, potty training and life with husbands. It's especially fun when observing those conversations, I find people feeling sorry for me or trying to explain away the fact that I'm not someone's mom or someone's wife as if to make up for my "loss" or "lack." Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate that these are a significant part of the lives of many people around me. It's just not a part of mine and, when that's the primary conversations of what feels like all the females around me, I can't help but feel outside and, well, different.If that is what defines most of the women around me, what does that mean for me?

I'm convinced that while wife and mother are brilliant titles - ones I hope to share one day - I don't believe that they are synonymous with female. They are not the definition of feminine. Particularly from the biblical perspective in which we are told that men and women are both created in God's image, it seems to me that there's more to it than that, something more all-encompassing and (dare I say it without someone accusing me of being bitter) more complete. The woman in Proverbs 31, for example, seems to be different too and that makes me feel a little better but still, I find myself feeling outside and different, somehow lacking, when I'm with the women I know.

So here are some of my questions...

What does it mean to be feminine? Not the extreme feminist version or the conservative traditional picture but the true, biblical heart of womanhood.

What does it mean, as a woman, to be created in and bearers of God's image?

How, as a church, do we honor the full image of God as shown in the women in our midst?

How do we respect, revel in, thrive among and build community when we know that we are all bearing God's image differently? 

Who am I? 

I am a woman, made in God's image, who is trying to follow Jesus.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord's prayer has played a special part in my life for a while now. Reading this made it fresh again:

Our Father, who art in heaven

I begin with an endearing term of relationship, "Father." Remind me today that you live and reign, not in heaven only but all around me and in my life. Make me aware of your active presence all day, in all my undertakings and in the people I meet.

Hallowed be your name

How can I recognize you - in the splendor of nature, in the odd mix of people I meet, in the still voice that calls me to be more like you? May I "hallow" what lies before me, by consciously referring it to you, and also honor your perfection, your holiness, by seeking to become more like you.

Your kingdom come

Yes, and allow me to be an agent of that kingdom by bringing peace to the anxious, grace to the needy, and your love to all whom I touch. May people believe in your reign of goodness because of how I live today.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

I see that will most clearly in Jesus, who healed the sick and comforted the grieving, who lifted up the downtrodden, who stood always for life and not death, for hope and not despair, for freedom and not bondage. He lived out heaven's will on earth. Help me be like Jesus.

Give us today our daily bread

We have no guarantee of a day beyond this one. May I trust you for what I need today, nourishment for both body and soul, and not worry about future needs and wants. May I also be ever responsive to those who lack bread today.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors

Remind me of my true state, as a debtor who can never buy my way into your favor. Thank God, I do not have to. Grant me the same attitude of forgiving grace toward those who owe me, and who have wronged me, that you show toward me.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one

Let me not slide mindlessly toward evil today. Make me alert to its temptations and strong to resist it, with neither fear nor regret.

from Prayer, Philip Yancey, page 171.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Round 3

The last round is a lot of what I expected...except for the sweeps...and Tampa Bay...and...well, that's the Stanley Cup playoffs!

So here we are at the semi-finals. We're down to the four *best* teams in the NHL, four formidable goalies and four cities hungry to see their team hoist the most coveted trophy in hockey. So what does round three hold? Here's my picks:

Sharks (2) vs Canucks (1)
Here are two teams that have battled hard to get where they are. San Jose is tired. Did you see them sucking wind in game 7? Niemi has been great and has had the full support of his defense, guys putting up some of the best defensive stats in the playoffs. Guys like Thorton have held them all together. Having fought tooth and nail to hold on to round 2 and squeaking into round 3, they're bound to have had their spirits buoyed. Will it be enough to get them past the exhaustion of the battle they just fought to get here?  Vancouver has had a bit more of a break and a big boost thanks to the play of resident monster, Ryan Kesler.  While the hockey world continues to discuss what they're calling the absence of the Sedin brothers, it might be worth reminding that while they have not been the scoring duo they were in the regular season, they are still certainly play makers and worthy of their first line position.  While Nashville's play was styled well to shut them down, it remains to be seen if the Sharks will be able to do the same. Offensively and defensively, the Nucks remains strong and healthy. All that to say, I'm going with the Canucks in 6.

Tampa Bay (5) vs Boston (3)
Who would have thought that these two teams would have come through the second round the way they did? Roloson continues to be lucky, if not solid, between the pipes. Thomas is superb. Have I mentioned that I just like that guy? He really caught my attention in the all star skills competition. The guy smiles all the time. He has fun and tries to make sure that everyone else on the ice is having fun too, regardless of what team they play on. So there it is, battle of the goalies. Tampa Bay has this crazy drive to win. Where did they come from anyway? Boston is much more calm, cool and collected. The things that they were weaker at, special teams for example, in round one, they pulled together in round two. These are two teams that want to win. I'm going to pick Boston in 7.

So there you have it. I'm calling for a Vancouver vs Boston Stanley Cup final.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why the men don't hang in kids' ministry...

I'm really lucky to have a couple great guys who are leaders in the kids' program of our church. They provide a great perspective, much strength and fantastic role models for the kids, especially the boys, to follow. I get it. We're blessed. I love having guys working with our kids but I know that it's often a hard sell. For so many reasons, children's ministry is primarily the place where women serve, our church included. A family ministry guy that I read, posted a video on his blog that might explain this phenomena a bit. Thought I'd let you all think through the reasons too.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Current Read

The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger

I think it's fun to have a place to look back and see what I've been reading when but I realized that in my "break" from consistently blogging, I missed a whole bunch of my reads. Here's some of the titles I dug into but missed posting over the last year or so:

The Song of Albion Trilogy, Stephen Lawhead
The Hood Trilogy, Stephen Lawhead
The Last Templar, Khoury
Tale of Despereaux, Kate DiCamillo and Timothy Basil Ering
Search for the Red Dragon, James A. Owen
Shaman's Crossing, Robin Hobb
Gifted to Lead, Nancy Beach
Wings, Terry Pratchett
Sepulchre, Kate Mosse
M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman
Crazy Love, Francis Chan
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See

This is one that I'm hoping to read. Half the Church. Has anyone read it yet? Any recommendations? I read this one here that was a start. I'd also love to have someone to read it with...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Current Read

Visionary Parenting: Creating a God Sized Vision for Your Family; Rob Rienow

Let the creative juices flow

I love this image. I stole it from this blog this evening and am convinced I'm going to print it to put up in my office. I will find a place. I love the color, the text and, most of all, the statement it makes. To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Here's something I know about me - and about you: there's a creative element to the way God made me.  Do you know how I know this? Because God is creative (hang out at the zoo and you'll see what I mean. I can't help but giggle when I see some of the critters he's made) and He has made you and I in his image. You could say that creativity is in our DNA. Some of us use it in different ways and at different levels but it's there nonetheless.

I like to write. I cook and bake and have decided that, really, nothing in a recipe is ever truly set in stone. Experiment. You just never know what you'll come up with. My camera and I are friends. I've taken up knitting (Yes, knitting. One day I'll share that story with you all). I love to dream big, making big plans, and I love it when a plan comes together. Making music makes me happy. I enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate God's creative work in it all. In the summer, you'll find me in my garden planting, pruning and designing my garden. I am most alive when I'm creating.

A shot I took this past week on a whim. Standing on a chair, twisting at odd angles and playing with light. Pleased with what happened. 
A culinary experiment. Homemade whole wheat pizza crust topped with red peppers, chicken, peas  basil pesto and sliced brie. I felt like Martha. Oh, and it tasted good. Even better.

All of those things, those avenues I choose, I have failed at. There's been pictures deleted, documents erased, dead plants and pots of soup that we did not eat. There were things that I've learned along the way because of those unsuccessful "tries." In the middle of that, though, there have been some gloriously freeing and satisfying creative moments. The kind where it just comes together and it works. I love the exhilaration of those moments and wonder if that isn't some of what God felt when he looked down on what he'd made each day and said "it was good."

Had I not been 'okay' with having some misses, I never would have had those moments and yet I wonder how much I've missed on other occasions because I've allowed the fear to come in. Fear of what others might think. Fear of failure. Fear of embarassement. Fear of wasted resources. Oh, and the list could go on, I'm sure. I wonder how much more productive I could be at work if I allowed my creative juices to truly flow and imagine the possibilities. I wonder how my life would be different if I let go of fear and allowed myself to truly dream about what God has in store and creatively imagine the possibilities. I wonder what else I would find myself smack in the middle of. I wonder.

When I saw this pic on this blog today, I knew I had to have one! Birthday coming up...

Monday, May 02, 2011

"When you understand that leadership is influence instead of position, it changes everything. You don't strive to be a leader; you strive to add value to people, and they'll let you be the leader." John Maxwell

I can't help but think about leadership today as our country awaits the final results on yet another national election. Wouldn't it be interesting if, in our political landscape, we could trust that the leaders were truly striving to add value to the lives of people instead of striving for the position of power and the accompanying influence (read ability to better themselves and their current situation)? One of the keys to a successful democratic system is that the leaders represent the people and represent them well. As I watch the polls, I can't help but hope that this could be a possibility.

Thinking about leadership always gets me thinking about the church and about how we lead there - how I lead and how I am led. I think of the way I interact with people in my day to day, in a variety of roles and in a variety of types of leadership. I pray that in my leadership the truth of Maxwell's words are evident; that I live a life of leadership in which I strive to and am able to add value to the people I encounter.
"There is something about the age-old tradition of gathering around the table to share a meal that is good for body, mind, and soul. You can easily prepare great tasting food at home and spark deeper family connection at mealtime. This tasty, easy, and healthy approach is accessible to the novice and inspiring to the culinary guru. Reinvent a healthier you in the simple art of momalicious cooking."

I read this quote earlier today and it got me thinking, how many families out there still sit around the table and make meal time a time to share. Do you?