uncharacteristic brilliance

When Holly and Elizabeth were writing their most recent Adagio post ‘les Mains’ it spoke to me in a thousand different ways. As i wrote a response to Elizabeth I thought of several bible references to think of when reading but the one that most came to the forefront of my mind was when God hid Abraham in the cleft of a rock so that he could see the backside of God’s glory go by. This is my response (for the moment)

Part of what Elizabeth and Holly wrote:

And then, as always
You are here
the warming sun your canopy
and I must grab hold of your shadow
for fear of sinking deep into
the pools of light
left in your wake
for the day
it keeps moving
ray upon ray

and then I read the following verse:

Exodus 33:22 – …and while my glory passes by I will hide you in the crevice of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

My response:

In the midst of glory filled conversation
I ask to see your face
it is declared
‘no one can see my face and live’
and yet you promise a glimpse
of the backside of your glory
the edge of your robe
leaks glory into the cleft
lighting my face with your presence
something unknown to man
a brilliance so pure, they stare in fear
shrouded in veil to remember
encounters with the God most High
His tender care so obvious
in preserving my life
with the palm of his hand
sheltering me from death
if in my humanity I would try to look

by Janel A written Jan 15/2013

my mommy and me

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh

When my mother brought me into the world, it was almost the end of her life. When I was born some things went horribly wrong and if it wasn’t for the mighty hand of God, I would have never known her. Thankfully, the doctor who would help save her life came back to the hospital that evening because he had forgotten something, as was there at just the right time to help get things okay with my mom.

Of course, I don’t remember this but i’ve heard stories. I don’t remember those early years much, but i do remember stories read by my mom, days where she would have us melt crayons onto paper on the electric griddle and how she’d let us play for hours out in the dirt and never once complained (that i remember).

I was eight when we left Alaska, and though I have memories of being there and things done together it isn’t until we settled in Ontario that my memories are a bit more developed. It wasn’t until we lived in Ontario that i remember my mom have severe mood swings, and us beginning to live in a means of ‘walking on egg shells’ around her. To this day, even though she has gotten help and things have settled down, it is one of my greatest fears to make her upset from the years that I dealt with her reactions)

It turns out that one of the reasons we returned to work in the home office was that my mom was having some severe emotional issues, and while they did need my dad to help out in the office here, they also were helping my mom to find a good counselor and figure out what was going on and help her. i knew that we were going to the doctor when we went on trips to Toronto…they lasted a couple hours (or what seemed like that) and we would sit in the waiting room reading books or playing with toys we brought along. And we’d go home again, and then return some time after for it to all happen again. of course being young, i didn’t know that all adults didn’t go to the doctor as much as we did…i would learn that later in life.

i still remember the night when my brother and I were hanging out in his room and my mom came in and sat down with us and explained that she had been diagnosis with severe depression and apologized for the way in which she had been all over the place with us and hoped that not that things had been figured out she’d be able to be more consistent with us.

And while she still does have ups and downs, we have been able to judge them a little better then in the past, and she had a wonderful Psychiatrist, that I also go to, who has helped with alot of things.

around the five years between my brother and my birth, she ended up having a part of her body attacking itself. It was something that could be remedied by removing it…but she wouldn’t be able to take painkillers any longer because her body couldn’t process it. (i think its her spleen?) Anyway, upon coming to Canada she started to have severe migraine headaches that were triggered by her tense jaw and depression. When she developed these migraines, she was unable to take anything for them…and simply wait in the dark, with a bit of quiet music, lots of sleep and some tea to get her through it. There were weeks where we would see her out of her bed for only a day each week. We never knew what would set her off, and she could never really commit to much of anything with us, because she never knew when a migraine would hit.

it wasnt’ until later in my life, after our psychiatrist had figured out how to get her body working correctly (alot of things were imbalanced in her body) that she began to be able to be present again with us. At first she was sick only once a week, instead of the complete opposite. and over the years these days of severe sickness have been much more rare and few.

While my mother was ill and unable to go out much, I spent alot of time with my father and brother. While i love them dearly, growing up I didn’t have much in common with them. And when we’d go out they would often sit in the front seat going on about things they had in common and when I’d pipe up they would often ignore me. I’m not sure this was on purpose, but it just seemed to me that they thought i didn’t have much to say.

My dad and I still don’t really understand each other, but we love each other and try to fight through to a compromise. My brother and I have a much better relationship now, and i’m thankful that God has worked that out in our lives.

However, since my mother wasn’t around for those years (before things were figured out for her medically) I felt/feel abandoned at times. and that’s a hard conversation for us to have, because she knows how I feel and she hates it. At the same time she knows that there is nothing she can do or could have done to change my experience. At times I find this struggle with not fearing abandonment by others in my life to be quite a struggle for me. It continues to be something ( a fear) with which I continue to struggle.

I am thankful for the relationship that my mother and I have now. I am thankful that we both have each other. My mom knows me inside and out and is one of my closest friends. My mom and I have gone on several trips together for vacation and had a glorious time. When my mom and i go on road trips, we often explore areas we’ve never been and stop when we see something that we’d like to check out. We’re not fond of deadlines when travelling and like to have a general idea of where we’re going and staying the next night but love to just let things happen as they do otherwise. We both love dogs and have been deeply devoted to our dogs that we’ve owned. My mom has put up with me and loved me through all my crushes and devastations of being a teen, and through the numerous boyfriends I’ve had and the ups and downs of life. I know that my mom misses her mom terribly (she passed away years ago) and is so thankful that the internet and the telephone make connecting with her brother and sisters so much easier then it used to be. I am so proud of my mom for stepping out of her comfort zone and learning about and then beginning to lead Grief Share at my parents church for the past two years. I am so proud of the ways that she’s stepped up and spoken truth into people’s lives.

while my mom and I started off with a rough beginning, and have had some life experiences not turn out the way we imagined, I am so thankful for the mother that i do have. I know that our relationship is a gift, and I treasure it.

Creator God and a Relational Saviour


In Genesis 1:1 the term “God” is used to describe the Creator. This term God is translated ‘Elohim’ in the Bible and refers to ‘the divine one; the TRUE God.’ In Gensis 2:4 the term is changed to the ‘LORD God” which is ‘Yahweh’ and refers to ‘the existing one.’

This struck me. Why in the two beginning chapters of the Bible are there two names used of God? And though I was confused at first with how chapter 2 fit in with chapter 1, I came to realize that part of it was a more indepth description of the significance of the creation of the man and woman and the relationship that they had with their Creator.

In the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia the following is said:

Genesis 1:1 is the first use of the divine name in the bible. ‘Elohim’ is the most frequently used name in the Old Testament. In Genesis 2:4, the usage of ‘Yahweh’ is the name most distinctive of God as the God of Israel.

Don Stewart (the Bible Explorer) shares this distinction:

The Bible uses two separate names for God in the first two chapters of Genesis to describe different characteristics of the one God. The reason for the differences in names has to do with the emphasis the author is making. The Old Testament basically uses two words for God: Elohim and Yahweh. 

Elohim is the general name for God and is used in the context of God as creator. It emphasizes that God is distant and powerful. It is used to describe God as the awesome and majestic creator. 

Yahweh (the LORD) is God’s personal name and is used in the context of God having a relationship with His people. When God goes about creating humanity, it is Yahweh who does this act. When the Lord is personally involved with His people, Yahweh is the proper way to designate Him.

So one denotes a majestic, CREATOR God who is involved in the process of designing and speaking the World into existence (in the fullness of the triune God). And in the 2nd chapter where the creation of humanity is spoken about, it refers to the relational God.

so our minds are blown at the miracle of Creation and acknowledging the unfathomable majesty of our Creator God. and then seeing the relationship he has with the creation he chose to specifically design in His image.

how does that not astound us? How does that not make our minds a bit blown? seriously, EVERY human crafted on this world is a reflection of our Lord…EACH made in HIS image. Do we see this in others. Do we see this glory He has given us…inspite of our totally NOT deserving it what so ever?

I am loving our study of Genesis at church…a little frustrated that i’m reading ahead cause i’ve got a couple questions (not continuity or anything, just about people and situations…probably more context) and i’m not good at waiting to learn about it in a sermon 😉

a little insight

Jenny Doh’s blog ‘Crescendoh’ has some posts called “words of wisdom” and I thought some of them really intrigued me.

Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open – Alexander Graham Bell

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. –  Arthur Ashe

Adventure is worthwhile in itself. – Amelia Earhart

Don’t spend time beating on a wall hoping to transform it into a door. – Coco Chanel

The time to hesitate is through. – Jim Morrison

a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything. – Irish proverb


may you not forget

may you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
may today there be peace within.
may you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
may you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
may you be content knowing you are a child of God.
let this presence settle into your bones, and 
allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
it is there for each and every one of you.
:: St. Teresa of Avila ::

serving up more than just coffee

I’ve been at this job for 6 years.

It doesn’t seem like much…pouring coffee, making latte’s and finding the perfect pastry for someone.

and I have to admit its taken months for me to find my place…and find contentment.

and yet in the midst of all the coffee shop regularity, there are moments that I treasure as being given to me as gifts. perhaps they are small, wrapped in brown-paper, every-day-words…but to me they shine bright, they speak truth, they given me a glimpse into glory.

making conversation with people isn’t something I struggle with too much (unless they are on their cell phones or clearly just want to run away with their coffee), so depending on the person I throw out a question. If its a customer I know, then I ask them something specific that we’ve spoken of before; if its someone new I will try to just make small talk. However, beware of the question ‘How are you today?’ or “How is your day going?” cause sometimes the info you get back is more then you’ll want to deal with. For some reason, sitting in a drive-thru line, chatting with a barista tends to get people sharing all kinds of things.

and while its just a short interaction…hopefully less then 3-5 minutes, its amazing the truth that can be gleaned.

There is one beautiful woman that comes through, gets honey and a bit of milk in her coffee, who is an artist. She is also a woman who loves the Lord, and only through snippets of conversation have I come to know that about her. and that some days she also struggles with depression. some days its the moment of interaction between us that really brightens up both of our days. For Christmas I received a box of chocolates from her that said ‘You don’t know what a difference you are making in people’s lives’…and I’m so thankful that she sees that, because that is God in me, definitely NOT all of me.

There is another wonderful lady who gets a huge chai latte and brings her daughter and her mom through the drive-thru. Her mom’s name (as I know it) is ‘Ya-ya’ which is the Greek form of grandmother. I’ve been blessed to be allowed to call her that, and every time she sees me she gives me a big smile and waves. While this lady loves to have small conversations with me…her four year old daughter for some reason things I’ve just the greatest thing, and if she hears my voice in the speaker or see’s my car in the parking lot she begins to screech my name 😉 Sometimes on the hard days when its all I can do to not count the moments till my next break or wonder when i’ll get another happy customer, hearing her say my name with such joy really lifts my heart. Its always so nice to run into this ‘regular’ because I know that they’ll usually say something that lifts my spirits or share something that they are going through…and its such an honour to be trusted with that information, and considered as more then just a coffee maker.

we give out random receipts (the computer selects them) to some customers to fill out a short survey and then come back for a free coffee of their choice. While many of the regulars in the drive-thru know my name, I write my name on top just so they can remember. And there has been twice when I’ve been mentioned in this customer feedback that has blessed me so much. The one lady works in the Hospitality services department of the local college nearby teaching Hotel Management courses and she says that she uses ME as an example of stellar customer service and an uplifting presence. This blew my mind, because some days I’m not consciously thinking about how I can make someone’s day I’m just trying to genuinely share a bit of joy with them…if only in a real smile, that often can go a long way…sometimes even translating to the beginning of a smile on their own harried faces.

Another lady told me last week that she’s always glad to see me in the window because no matter what kind of day she’s having just seeing my smile and hearing my upbeat order taking makes her day a little brighter. And I think…this is what i’m here for. This is why God’s placed me here.

I remember back when I was helping out as a Junior High leader and one of the guys who had been in Youth group with me years earlier had come back from his time at YWAM and shared some of what God had been doing in his life. I had known of some of the ups and downs that had been present in this young man’s life and it just overwhelmed my heart that I should go and speak to him of the chance I could see that the Lord had wrought in Him. After speaking to him (and i have no recollection of the words) he gave me the best compliment ever, ‘Janel…has anyone ever told you, you have a Barnabus spirit..so encouraging and uplifting.’ and I have carried that thought in my heart for many years.

Living with depression, it is difficult to be excited about life sometimes. Not that i’m not happy to be alive, I just feel impartial. But when i’m working I come alive, i truly do love and care for these customers and its my blessing to be able to share a bit of joy with them and in turn have them share some life moments with me. It has taken quite some time to get to this place…but I am thankful that the Lord continues to use this desire I have to encourage others for His glory. its a different context that I imagined when young, and I hope to not be serving coffee for forever…but for now, i strive to find contentment in the means He’s given me to speak truth and love into the hearts and lives of others. I am blessed.

writing with Emily at Imperfect Prose today|:

the first faint line appears

My pen
silent at first
and then loud
with cacophany of ink
bled first then second line
at first with faint movement
and progressing
til paper etched derp
with stain of words
filling the page
with heart longing
and heart whisphered
shouting in ink
see me
hear me
know me

inspired by Pablo Neruda’s line “I wrote the first,faint line..” found at wordcandy.me

janel a. Dec 1.2012