Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Journey

From October 20 to 28, I was in Saskatchewan visiting my sister Karen, her husband Clint, my precocious nephew Owen and adorable niece Julianna. It was my first time seeing Julianna who was born in August. Owen insisted on calling me Inna, even though he could say Suzy and even Suzanne. He would frequently tell me up "get up, up", gesturing as if to lift me from my spot on the couch where I was reading and then ofcourse we would spent some time playing with his many vehicles, his blocks, or his puzzle. We also played outside where he loved to hide behind the trees so I could look for him or to go down the slide or play on the swings. We were going to go to the zoo, but unfortunately the day we planned to go it was too cold. Julianna is a darling with a lovely smile and generally contented ways. She is happiest in her mother's arms, but sometimes she would allow me to hold her too. Most days passed with time for playing with Owen, reading, getting creamed at Tetris, doing some studying, and eating delectable meals. I saw the new baby chicks with Owen and went shopping in Saskatoon, and out for dinner with Karen for Julianna's first restaurant meal. We watched some movies and spent some time conversing.

Since I have been back, I have been trying to get back into study mode, but I haven't got as much done. The season is wrapping up at Connon Nurseries, and I may be finished there as early as November 15. Then I have a possibility of another seasonal job, and after that I will be looking for a part-time job while I work on my correspondence courses.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

And Time Passes On

Today is my sister Christina's twelfth birthday. It doesn't seem that long ago that she was as small as Julianna, actually smaller. Christina was born seven weeks premature and did not have her sucking reflex yet. She looked so tiny and helpless, attached to tubes with her legs pulled up like a frog's. When she was two she was extremely cute with short blond hair and incredible energy. She loved to go to the park and was willing to trek all the way to the mall just for a chance to play at the park on the way home, plus a little something at the dollar store. She was articulate at a young age and once surprised us at the dinner table by singing part of "Cecilia" by Simon and Garfunkel that my brother had sung the day before "I got up to wash my face, when I go back to bed someone's taken my place." After that we had to be careful about what we said! Christina was just a toddler when she almost drowned in our pool, but thankfully my Dad was able to revive her and she suffered no brain or lung damage. Today she is a bright, cheerful, and creative preteen with a compassionate heart and a love of life. She loves to hang out with her friends, to write, to read, to swim, and to play soccer.

So Happy Birthday Christina! May God bless you in the years ahead.

Left photo: Christina at ten. Right photo: Christina and Julianna

Back in 1996 the OJ Simpson trial began, Princess Diana and Charles officially divorced, and Dolly the sheep was cloned. It doesn't feel like twelve years ago. In the meantime Princess Diana and Dolly the sheep have passed on, OJ Simpson is headed back to prison, and Christina is beginning her thirteenth year, while I still can't believe I am twenty-eight. The longer I live the faster time speeds by. It seems all the more urgent to seize the day, but maybe I'll go to bed first.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Post Birthday Update

Since my last post, several new developments have gone undocumented. I wish I was blogging more, but inspiration is lacking. First on August 16, my niece Julianna Elizabeth Langelaar was born, weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces. She is a sister for Owen, and is a healthy, fairly contented baby who is settling into a routine at home. Her parents live in Saskatchewan so I won't see her until October 20 when I am travelling out there. Second I have registered to take some correspondence courses at Athabasca with the goal of eventually becoming a registered nurse. Next year I want to get into the two year accelerated program for nursing at McMaster. I plan to keep working while getting through the courses in my spare time. Right now I am working fulltime at Connon Nurseries, but that will end sometime in November, so after that I will most likely get a part-time job while I finish up the courses. I am starting with just two courses, but will be completing four.

When I explain my plans to people, I frequently encounter surprise, mingled with shocked disbelief or, occasionally, thinly veiled disapproval, and the question of "What made you think of nursing?" Well, I am attracted to a career of helping others who are sick and making a difference in their care. I like the idea of getting practical training which I then can use in as a professional in the health care field. Nursing is a career that is in demand, and the skills I will learn are highly useful. If I would like to work as a volunteer in the developing world, that is an option. As someone who has been to the hospital and been helped by nurses myself, I feel I would have the sympathy and compassion for my patients that is necessary in a good nurse. While nursing can be stressful and nurses need to be thick-skinned, it is a rewarding career that really makes a positive difference in the lives of people in need. In the past I have considered becoming a professor of biblical studies, but that requires six years of schooling and in the end, it may be hard to find a job in the field. I have talked about being a Bible translator too, but being a missionary in another country is a daunting prospect and a very sacrificial life path.

Yesterday was my birthday. It was a strange birthday, in that I didn't see a single family member. They are all in Saskatchewan until Labour Day, so I will be celebrating with them next week. I started out the day with a flat tire, so that was an adventure getting to work. I did get to go out for dinner with a good friend, so that was a better ending to my day. It is hard to believe I am already twenty-eight, and I don't know where the year has gone. It went by really fast.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Two Pieces (dandle and dale)

A friend, Jen Lougas, and I agreed to do an exercise where we each write two pieces using two randomly selected words. She chose one and I chose the other using a website that gave random words of varying degrees of frequency of use.You can follow my link and read her two pieces on her blog.


verb (used with object), -dled, -dling. move (a baby, child, etc.) lightly up and down, as on one's knee or in one's arms.

He spoke with a thick, Dutch accent and in friendly debates with my uncle would preface his remarks with "Nay, nay." His blue eyes gazed intently beneath bushy grey eyebrows and his ears with their hearing aids stuck out prominently beneath his sparse grey hair. He would take a short afternoon nap in his leather recliner, snoring faintly. In the same chair he would dandle his smaller grandchildren on his lap, singing a Dutch song with accompanying actions, clapping small hands together, lifting little fists to touch our ears, swaying us gently back and forth. He would finish the song with our favourite part, swooshing us to the ground as we laughed. I can still recall the Dutch sounds, but only have a vague idea of their meaning. Opa walked with an unique, stiff gait, his strides quick and heavy as he moved through his fields. He enjoyed rug hooking and conversing with strangers, and served my Oma's lemon meringue pies in messy pieces with an accompanying "Yoop." He was a man of faith and deep conviction, and was interested in church politics, saving many volumes worth of Acts of Synod. He loved history and could recall seemingly insignificant incidents from his childhood in the province of Zeeland, the Netherlands, writing a book for his grandchildren about his life until he immigrated to Canada from France. It amazed us that he had once been a young man driving a Harley Davidson through the roads of France, and that he had once pretended to be a doctor in order to see my premature father at a Parisian hospital. I can recall the summer day I waited on the swing set at my grandparent's backyard with a knot in my stomach, steeling myself for when it was my turn to say good-bye. I remember his earnest words and the taste of salt as I kissed him for the last time.


a valley, esp. a broad valley.

If you are a mountain-top, a snow-capped

peak, towering in pristine beauty,

then I am a valley, a wooded

dale, overshadowed by your grandeur

If you are an ocean, a tumultuous

sea, teeming with life

then I am a shore, a sandy

beach, sculpted by your breakers

If you are a sunbeam, a luminous

ray, dancing on the water

then I am a shadow, a cloudy

darkness, eclipsed by your brilliance

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Psalm 139: A Reprise

I've posted this psalm before, but lately I need a reminder of its message, which I had forgotten. This passage, taken from The Message paraphrase, reminds me that God does not make junk and every person on this planet, including me, bears the image of "the High God", to borrow a phrase from Peterson.

Psalm 139
A David Psalm
1-6 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand.
I'm an open book to you;
even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
I'm never out of your sight.
You know everything I'm going to say
before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you're there,
then up ahead and you're there, too—
your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
I can't take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you're there!
If I go underground, you're there!
If I flew on morning's wings
to the far western horizon,
You'd find me in a minute—
you're already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I'm immersed in the light!"
It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
God, I'll never comprehend them!
I couldn't even begin to count them—
any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
all the men and women who belittle you, God,
infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
Your enemies are my enemies!

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Linda!

Today is my lovely sister Linda's 23rd Birthday. I already sang her our family's traditional off-key rendition of Happy Birthday, but I thought I would post something on my blog in honour of this milestone. Linda is an incredible person with a warm, caring nature. She is great with people and has a ready smile. As a sister she is supportive and fun, and always willing to go shopping and to share her excellent fashion sense. She will drive my car for me with skill and ease on long and short road trips. Linda, thanks for being such a great sister and I hope you have a great year. You have a special place in my heart and it is great to spend time with you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Thoughts

How does Jesus' resurrection give me life today? As I think about the miracle that happened almost two thousand years ago, I try to reawaken a sense of wonder, of joy, of hope. The victory of the empty tomb should bring victory to my day to day life. Jesus died for me, for all those who would believe, but he did not stay in the grave. He arose and death was finally defeated. He made possible eternal life and a bodily resurrection for those who trust in him. It is easy to forget how monumental, how wondrous an event we celebrate today. Christ is risen!

Monday, February 18, 2008

February Blas and Family Day

Lately I've been feeling down and unexcited by life's possibilities. February is a dreary month as winter drags on, and this year there will be twenty-nine days of it. New Year's resolve seems all but buried beneath the snow. So it was nice to have a holiday weekend with time off work. I spent Family Day walking through the winter landscape for a good part of the morning and then playing Scrabble with my parents. Not overly exciting, but my two sisters were both sick this weekend and Rachel had homework to do, so more elaborate plans will have to wait until next Family Day. I am grateful for my family, and for all their support and love, so on this day I pause and thank God for what he has given me. On an otherwise dreary day, it is good to be reminded of the blessings that can easily be forgotten.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Grandpa

On Sunday, January 13, my Grandpa went to be with the Lord. He had just lost his wife of 58 years four weeks before. Now they are together again, but they will be missed by those they left behind. My Grandpa loved plants and as a retiree started his own greenhouse, something he had to give up when he suffered heart troubles. As a child, I enjoyed working in his greenhouse every March Break with my siblings. I started with soil preparation, and then graduated to transplanting, carefully planting seedlings in the moist soil. My Grandpa was a great boss and would even take us on outings, often to the used bookstore where each grandchild could pick out five books. He was an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction, and he had a lot of wisdom that, if you were fortunate, he would pass on. He didn't waste words, so when he spoke you knew he had something important to say.

Watching my grandfather care for my grandmother, I could see how much he loved her. In the end, you could see the care required day and night was taking its toll. When my Grandma was in the hospital shortly before she passed away, Grandpa was growing visibly weaker. Following the funeral, he needed my Uncle Al to stay with him. Shortly after New Years he was in the hospital with pneumonia and other health problems. Now he is in a place without pain and suffering and loss. I will miss him very much.