Sunday, December 19, 2010


I haven't been inspired lately to write on this blog. And I haven't been all that inspired by life either. I've been busy with nursing school, and I am now halfway through. I have about three weeks off now, and I am contemplating restarting a crocheting project again so I have more to do than Christmas baking and eating of Christmas baking.

This time of year I miss Grandpa and Grandma who have been gone now for three years. Lately I have been feeling a little on the melancholy side. It is easy to forget how far I've come. It is easy to focus on what I don't have.

Christmas time is a time to remember how God became incarnate as a baby and what this gift meant to the world. Grant that I can see it again with eyes of wonder and be filled with joy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My First Twelve-Hour Clinical Day

I feel an immense sense of my relief to have survived my first clinical day. I had built it up as this enormous worry in my mind and I was terrified I would be found incompetent like the emperor who had no clothes. It turns out I did have some trouble with my assessments especially the cardiac one after I couldn't quite hear the apical pulse, but my teacher said my notes were like that of a medical student and didn't have to be that detailed. I am not completely happy with how I managed my time or performed my assessments, but the important thing is I made it through and I can try again!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Of Wound Care and IVs

As the second part of second semester begins, I have serious doubts about my ability to survive in the intense clinical environment. I will endure a twelve hour shift in which I have to churn out a complete Gordon's Assessment as well as complete and document an abdominal assessment, respiratory and cardiac assessment, and a peripheral vascular assessment, along with regular patient care tasks and documentation. My handwritten notes on the Gordon's Assessment will be photocopied and have to be both legible and detailed.

It is one thing to learn about the theory of things like wound care and monitoring IVs and quite another to put into practice along with every other relevant thing you have learned. Knowing what to do in an urgent situation and applying what you've learned on the fly demands excellent critical thinking and a good dose of confidence.

All I can say is I need something miraculous to get me through the next six weeks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ready for a Breather

At the peak overlooking Dundas with two sisters and an almost-sister.

I am halfway through my second semester of Practical Nursing and about to start my third clinical placement. But first I have a week off. There is quite a long to do list to complete before the week is out, but hopefully I will also get some good relaxation in.

I am qualified to administer medications now, and I have been learning about respiratory and cardiac assessments. In the second part of second semester I will be learning about wound care. Academically I am doing well, but although I had a good report from my clinical teacher, I feel I have a lot of room for improvement in my clinical skills which will come with practice, I hope.

Life as a nursing student can be a challenge. The workload is heavy, even with a reduced courseload. It is hard to get the right balance and to maintain a social life outside of school. This coming week I will visit a friend I haven't seen since August, before she had her baby.

I am a good student, but I want to translate that into being the best nurse I can be. I hope that by the end of the year, I will be a more confident and competent nursing student and put into practice all I have been studying.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Of Ruins and Renovations

The words echo in my mind, "Remember the height from which you have fallen." Jesus' words to the church in Ephesus, I recall, flipping to the back of my Bible. I wonder if these words apply to me. Have I forsaken my first love?

It is true I have been finding less and less time to spend with God, and that the long services at church frequently leave me in a state of half-hearted worship, wishing for the service to end. I am more often in a state of worry and anxiety than in a state of calm trust in God. My infrequent prayers are generally me promising God I will renew my devotion to him, which I am aware has lapsed as of late.

So maybe I am in a state of free-fall, plummeting towards the earth. But how do I change my heart and my attitude? How will a repentance be more than hollow words spoken out of guilt?

I want to be someone who lives what they profess to believe, but the disconnect is worsening, and the chasm between where I want to be and where I am is widening.

The truth is that I don't believe my own prayers. If it depends on me and my will-power and my ability to change myself I will never get there. I need an inner transformation, a renovation of my mind, a revolution in my habits. I need God to change me.

The thing is he has promised me a new heart, a renewed mind, a new self. The words are there written in my Bible. So why the disconnect, why the multi-layered guilt, why the impoverished spirit, when the riches are already mine by Christ's finished work on the cross? If there is now no condemnation, why do I feel like one of those condemned ruins about to be flattened?

Do I trust in Christ or am I like a wave tossed by the sea? Is his work enough or must I add to it?

Please take me, God, and mold me like clay. Please move into my house and renovate it. Fix the structural damage. Throw out the junk I have been holding onto and organize the clutter. Redecorate it so it is beautiful again. Restore me, renew me, transform me. I don't want to live in the squalor of broken dreams and empty promises.

Monday, October 11, 2010


The world is charged with the grandeur of God, as Gerard Manley Hopkins once began a wonder-filled poem. It is in evidence in the variegated beauty of the fall foliage and even in the delightful tastes of a Thanksgiving feast. This Thanksgiving we enjoyed time with family, heaping platefuls of delectable dishes, and a hike to the Dundas Peak where we saw a panoramic view of Dundas valley clothed in yellows, reds, oranges, and greens. Even in the rain with seemingly hundreds of fellow walkers, it was a spectacle worth the hike.

In honour of Thanksgiving here is an incomplete list of things I am thankful for:

1. My lovely and loving family who continue to put up with my foibles with admirable grace.
2. My health and strength, both mentally and physically.
3. The opportunity to study nursing, even if I complain about the rigours and the challenges.
4. God's continual grace in my life and my church family who help channel that grace to me.
5. An overabundance of good food to eat.
6. The freedom I enjoy both as a citizen of Canada and citizen of God's kingdom.
7. The stunning beauty of the world created for us to enjoy.
8. My ability to think and to write down my thoughts intelligently.
9. A warm and cozy house to live in with my own room and space, even if I don't always keep it tidy.
10. My adorable nephew and niece who are two little miracle children.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Moments of non-brilliance

Yeah I guess we all have these moments, when we don't think through the implications or the consequences of our actions. But that I should have two such moments in one day makes me a little red-faced.

Today I walked into a room with contact precautions without gown or gloves. The patient was the one to point it out to me. Somehow I hadn't noted the sign on the door, and I helped open all her breakfast items before I was informed of my omission. It is all the worse because I had worked with the patient before, and used the gown and gloves, donning and doffing each time I entered or exited the room.

If that was all, maybe I could shrug it off like a badly fitting coat. But no, in helping another student with her respiratory and abdominal assessments, I committed the ultimate crime. Her patient also had contact precautions and I carried in some papers and a book to help with the assessment, and then, I PLACED THEM ON A BEDSIDE TABLE! Also my fellow student had papers she was writing on on that table. Somehow we hadn't thought of contaminated papers and books that couldn't be properly cleaned afterwards.

A nurse informed us of our error and our teacher was also notified of it, and later asked us to talk about it at post-conference. We both felt a little foolish, because it hadn't occurred to us until we were cleaning our stethoscopes that our papers couldn't be similarly disinfected.

Chalk it up to a misfiring of critical thinking skills, and a lesson learned the hard way. This red-faced nursing student will be thinking through each action and its implications from now on, especially with contact precautions!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Happy Birthday Christina!

To my favourite teenager and a most excellent sister, Happy Fourteenth Birthday! You are a mature, talented, intelligent, and athletic young person and an awesome human being! I love you, I'm proud of you, and I am so glad to have you as my sister. May God bless you in the year and years ahead. Time goes so quickly; it doesn't seem that long ago you were a precocious two year-old who was the cutest little person around.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Movies Worth Re-viewing

Unlike my father, who never wants to see a movie a second time, I love rewatching movies and I have viewed some movies over twenty-five times. Here's a list of movies I've viewed over and over again, with a rationale for why it is worth rewatching.

* The Princess Bride * The amount of quotable lines in this movie defies description and are suitable for many occasions, including weddings: "Marwiage, Marwiage is what brwings us together today...", graduation parties: "Truly you have a dizzying intellect..." wedding rehearsal parties: "that drweam within a drweam.", and any occasion you want to quote movies inanely: "Hello my name is Inego Montega you killed my father, prepare to die." The mix of comedy, action, romance, and revenge plots is delightful, and who can resist Fred Savage?

* Ever After * Okay, perhaps this movie can be watched too many times; when you start to be able to watch the movie scene by scene in your head, there is your first clue. But the retelling of Cinderella still has the power to touch and inspire even after you finished your fifth or your fifteenth viewing.

* Two Weeks Notice * This is a movie I usually view with my two youngest sisters and Sandra Bullock makes this romantic comedy a reviewing pleasure, and Hugh Grant brings something to the table as well.

* Shanghai Noon * This is my favourite Jackie Chan movie and also my favourite Owen Wilson movie. East Meets West and outlaws rescue a princess as many fall to the Shanghai Kid's unique fighting skills.

* Miss Congeniality * From its memorable lesson in self defense as a woman, to the climatic pandemonium at the Miss United States pageant ending in an exploding tiera, continuously narrated by the show-must-go-on host played by William Shatner, to the transformation of FBI's Gracy Hart to pageant runner-up Mary Lou Freebush, played exquisitely by Sandra Bullock, to the plug for world peace, Miss Congeniality is watch-again comedic gold.

* The Proposal * I would have watched this movie many more times, but I lent to it to my sister after only the seventh viewing. I love Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds together and I love the plot, the comedy, and the final scene.

* Benny and Joon * This movie is funny, touching, and slightly offbeat. I still want to try making grilled cheese with a clothes iron.

* Pride and Prejudice * the 1995 miniseries. The times I have viewed this is probably over a dozen, but each time I am enthralled by the story, the performances, and the delightful combination of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

* A Walk to Remember * I include this movie, not because I want to see it again; I've probably reached my saturation point; but because one summer I was obsessed with it and watched it every occasion from work heat days to times alone on a Friday night. It introduced me to Switchfoot one of my favourite bands, and I became a fan of Shane West and also decided Mandy Moore was convincing as Jamie Sullivan.

* Dead Poet's Society * This is one of the few Robin Williams movies I actually like, aside from Mrs. Doubtfire. It always makes me cry before the final scene and at the final scene, and inspires me to suck the marrow out of life.

Well, I could go on about equally re-watchable movies such as Fried Green Tomatoes, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Notebook, but I must end this post as it is past my bedtime.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wind-blown and Wondering

The leaf, blown and tossed by the wind, torn from the branch, and whirling down the alleyway... My life's momentum, carrying me where I fear to go, and in a direction I question as if my future is somewhere inscribed in tea leaves or on my palm, written on some golden tablets on a sacred mountain I have yet to climb.

David said that all his days were written in God's book before any of them came to be, and elsewhere in the Bible it says God has determined the times set for nations and the exact places where they would live, but where does that leave human sin, peoples' faltering attempts to discern where they should go, humans' ill-advised leaps into the unknown places where perhaps they ought not to have gone?

Is it enough to say that everywhere you go, God will be there? That everything you are called to do, you will be equipped to perform? Is God's Spirit guiding you and hedging you in, and, much like Balaam's donkey, is He ready to articulate a warning if you are heading into danger? Does everything in your life have a purpose, everything fitting together like some intricate puzzle, everything woven into a tapestry of which you can only see the tangled underside?

Can I trust that I am not headed down some rabbit-trail, down some dead-end alley where I will encounter all my old enemies once again? Am I mistrusting myself and my discernment or am I really displaying a lack of faith in God and his promises? That he and I can't face anything together and ultimately triumph?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stress and Me

Stress and I are like oil and water, we don't mix well. I like to know what is going to happen ahead of time so I psych myself up for it and make contingency plans for possible things that may go wrong.

Worry and I are old companions who spend a lot of time together. My anxiety barometer quickly rises in response to a perceived threat and my nerves get on the edge, prompting my civility and reasonableness to take a corresponding plunge.

I don't like being a worry-wart. I don't like what pressure does to my sense of peace and my centeredness. I don't like my sense of courtesy going out the window. I don't like being busy all the time, revved high, and I hate not spending any quality time with God throughout the week.

I think I have to readjust my priorities. I naturally put school first, but maybe I should write some other things in stone on my schedule. Like pick a time in the day to spend with God, pick half an hour to get some brisk walking in during my busy day, and find some kind of social outlet. Right now I have next to nothing, because my old friends are busy with motherhood. Thankfully I have a study buddy at school, but most of what we do is school related. Now that I don't have Facebook I can't maintain the illusion of being connected to my friends' lives, despite never seeing them.

Another thing is, it would be good to help out more around the family home. Like make dinner at least once a week and do a couple of loads of laundry or some cleaning. If it weren't for my mother cooking every day and cleaning my clothes, I would be a lot busier and also less nourished and less tidy-looking. But I should be doing more to help out than I do.

I can't understand the people who fit an amazing amount of accomplishments in one 24 hour day and are also well-rested. I don't understand how my class-mates can fit in caring for their kids and maintaining their homes on top of their courseload, which is higher than mine right now. I don't comprehend those people who thrive on busyness and love being out every night of the week.

As for me, I am happy to stay home on the weekends and watch a movie or read a good book or do some baking or crocheting... that is relaxing and some movies and books can even be cathartic. Yeah I do lead quite the charmed single life! But then a relationship would just be another stresser, even if it was the good kind of stress!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why God Loves Me

God doesn't love me because I am better than some other people.
God doesn't love me for what I've done for him, or for what I will do.
God doesn't love me for the purity of my heart, though he wants to make it pure.
God doesn't love me for the beauty of my spirit, though he desires to beautify it.
God doesn't love me because of all my knowledge about him.
God doesn't love me for my excellent theological sensibilities.
God doesn't love me because I know all the catch phrases a Christian can use.
God doesn't love me because I can recite certain passages of Scripture from memory.
God doesn't love me because I attempt to love other people in my life.
God doesn't love me because I can write something pretty about the Christian walk.
God doesn't love me for my humility, whether true or false.
God doesn't love me because I can sing about being fully devoted to him.

God loves me and, long before I was conceived, God planned to redeem me.
God loves me and His Son died for me, paid for all of my sin, and healed me of all my diseases.
God loves me and, when he looks at me, he sees me through Jesus and his righteousness, and he sees someone who is purified and cleansed and made holy.
God loves me, and he has made me a new creation, restoring the image that was distorted. He loves me and he has made me alive in Christ. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is now at work in me.
God loves me undeservedly, through no merit of my own, and he gives me favour and grace so that I can approach him with freedom and confidence.

Why does the Creator of the Universe and the Almighty God, who called worlds into being, lavish this gracious love on me?
My Creator, who fashioned my inmost parts, loves me because I am his child. My Redeemer, who calls me by name, wants me to remain in his love and bear much fruit. My Comforter, who lives within me, wants to guide me into the way of truth.

Am I ready to accept this love and have it fill me up to overflowing?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Studies and Self-Seeking

Now, after the crisis and the denouement, I find it easy to revert back to old habits and the old ways of living. I find it easy to focus on getting my tasks done as a student and, if there is time left over, I have many other things I may spend time doing other than speaking with God and seeking him. I come to the end of the day and realize we haven't really been communing throughout the day and I haven't even begun the day with an awareness of my time as a gift from God. I finish the day with a short reading from Scripture and minimalist prayer in which I fall asleep mid-thought.

I guess if you don't schedule some one on one time with God, you will always find something more urgent or more exciting to do. And you will lose your hunger and thirst for something extraordinary and become content again with a routine that pushes God to the margins of your day, instead of being in the center.

You will feel you don't really need him in the day to day moments of your life, as you feel increasingly confident in your own ability to master the challenges you face on your own steam. Eventually you may forget the thrill of finding God and having him meet your deep need for wholeness and healing, as you sink into the sea of self-obsession from whence you have already been rescued a number of times.

But now that I see myself as a potential drowning victim, I am sure I don't have to continue in this pattern or fall back to this trajectory. God has promised not to let me go, even if I am losing sight of him. I remain committed to following after him, and I will continue to inch forward, despite falling back in the opposite direction. I don't need to become like those self-flagellants, mired in guilt and shame, and I can know that God is celebrating every step I take toward his purposes, and that his love for me is deeper than the deepest ocean and it is more than enough to rescue me from myself, my sin, and my shame.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ancient Willow with Gracefully Aging Parents

But the godly will flourish like palm trees
and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon
For they are transplanted to the LORD's own
They flourish in the courts of our God.
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.
They will declare, "The LORD is just!
He is my rock!
There is no evil in him!"

Psalm 92:12-15, New Living Translation

This morning we were blessed with another great service that began with this psalm of David and proceeded into praise, and continued with a message about this season and how we are to bear fruit and reach out to bless others, even as we receive into ourselves the sustenance from the flow within us, while we remain in the vine and in God's love. Without Christ we can do nothing! But with him we can do all things!

I took this photo this Labour Day near Confederation Park with my new camera, the first digital one I have had. I love willow trees and this is a particularly fine one.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Life Without Facebook

It's been some time since I got rid of my Facebook account. Mostly I am glad to be rid of it, but with some friendships it was one of my only life-lines and connections. I am pretty sure those friendships were already dying and were on life support through keeping up with various statuses and commenting on various photos. It gave the illusion we were still connected, however tenuously.

Once your friend marries, you know you are entering a new phase of friendship and it will be harder to connect. When she and her husband have their firstborn child, well, you are lucky if you even talk regularly, because her life is so wrapped up in her baby's, she has a difficult time going out, visits are hard to schedule, and the young mother may feel pressured that you even suggest getting together. You have less in common all the time, because how could you know what it is like to be both a mother and a wife and what do you understand about feeding schedules and solid food introductions? In these cases, fading out of the picture is the kind thing to do.

I used to follow all my friends' status updates. Some of my friends I didn't even know very well at all, but the ones that posted a lot of status updates I got know some version of them. I always commented on the first photos of the new babies, and I would comment on wedding and engagement photos too.

Facebook increased my dissatisfaction with my own life and increased my feelings of envy with whoever's cute new baby, new home, or redone living room I happened to be viewing. Facebook filled my time with little of actual value, but I had to log in several times a day because I had to keep up with the feed. I updated my status too often and always tried to make it sound interesting, even if my life was actually rather boring at the time.

At a time when I needed to decrease my stimulation and center my self, getting rid of Facebook was the obvious decision. Then too, nurses have to consider what image they are portraying to a potential employer, and it is less complicated without Facebook.

I miss knowing what some of my former classmates are up to, and connecting with my new classmates, but now I have the gift of more free time, the side benefit of having less feelings of envy, and the ability to just live my life and not constantly think up status updates and image boosters. I have more time to blog, more time to exercise, more time to do homework, and more time to read. I have lost some social utility, but I have gained a healthier lifestyle and a freer soul.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Peanut Butter Filcher and Boredom-Induced Chocoholic

It only takes a short time to fall back into a bad habit. I am back to eating when I am bored and when there is no one around. I eat peanut butter with a spoon. I filch chocolate chips and eat hunks of cheese with crackers. I am not actually hungry, but I crave chocolate.

My chocolate obsession began early. I was known to do anything for a piece of chocolate cake. I have a mini chocolate gift book from one sister and a chocolate recipe book from another with glossy photos of decadent creations. My sister thought I could just stare at the photos and get inner satisfaction, but it is my dream to make the most extravagantly exquisite cheesecake in the whole book, the one that requires a whole bag of caramels and many garnishes to make it as perfect as it is in the photo.

I stopped eating chocolate once. After awhile I didn't even want it anymore. Everything was just too sweet because I was off very sugary things. That season of Lent I lost twenty pounds of excess weight. Oh to be svelte and slender again!

Actually I don't want to be quite as slender as then. But less rotund would be nice... The thing is the more you obsess about it the less likely you are to succeed. Maybe I should just exercise more and stop snacking when I am not actually hungry. Yeah... if I had the willpower to do that, I would still fit into those jeans I am hanging onto just in case.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Second Time Around

Right now I am repeating material from the first two weeks of the first time I started second semester. It is not as overwhelming this time, because I've gone through it all before, plus I have less classes to contend with. Still I am supposed to be very busy and I still have reviewing to do and preparations for each class.

My clinical teacher is new to the program, but seems very competent and also kind. I think she will be tough, but fair. My clinical group appears to be a good mix of people too.

I am getting enough sleep and rest and I am still exercising as much as I can fit into my schedule. So far so good. Volunteering went fairly well too, and I learned how to operate a popcorn machine... maybe I can be a street vendor if this doesn't work out for me!

Maybe next post I can post a picture I took with my new camera. It is one that is very simple to use, but I haven't figured it all out yet. My sis is going to give me lessons as needed.

Monday, September 06, 2010

School Again!

Tomorrow I reimmerse myself in the world of academics, skill practising, and patient care. I have to admit I am apprehensive about knowing what to do in crisis health situations and remembering my skills and critical thinking on the fly. A former nurse told me after the first ten times it will become instinctive and old hat and I hope that all I have learned will come back to me and I will know what to do.

I have Fridays off from school, but I think I will take that day to practice my skills in the Learning Resource Centre. I have a three-hour morning Monday class with an afternoon brief session of an hour, two days of clinical on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then an afternoon Thursday class which will require the largest amount of work to prepare for. Since I don't have Computers or Sociology, I have a somewhat reduced schedule.

I shouldn't worry about tomorrow, but so many things are unknown, I wonder how it will all work out. I hope I have a good clinical class and teacher and that we can work well as a team. This year I am also a volunteer for Mohawk, so Tuesday I will be busy all day with the festivities most likely.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Consider it Pure Joy

Trials, testings, and times when everything seems to go wrong don't seem to lend themselves to a joyful attitude. It sends me either to anger or towards a pity party or bitching session. But it must be possible to have the result of horrible injustices or persecution, such as I have never experienced, be pure joy.

The apostles and early church rejoiced that they were counted worthy to be persecuted for the Name. They knew the resurrection power of Christ, but also the might of the atonement on the cross and how it could change everything, beginning in the human heart. They were beaten and remained joyful and obedient.

My comfort is sometimes paramount in my decision-making process. I don't want to be afflicted and I won't share my true opinion to a hostile audience. I can soft-pedal or back-pedal or say something extremely vague. I can double-talk or say nothing at all. But some things are worth expressing an unpopular opinion about and some people deserve to be fought for, because they have no voice or cannot be heard.

Must I surrender my right to be comfortable, my right to remain silent, my right to put myself first? Is the grace I have received great enough that I can have grace for others who have wronged me or offended me?

CS Lewis said "The Weight of Glory" was a burden he felt in his life, that every person he met was either bound for a glorious future or a horrific one without hope and God. They were really Kings and Queens, no matter how humble or commonplace they appeared, or, alternatively, they would one day lose everything they had built on the wrong foundation.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Following One Day in Utter Suspense Accompanied by Worst Case Scenarios...

... I found out that I actually can register in the September semester! And now I am registered, and my weekend will be immensely improved... I was thinking I had to do some more of the old job hunting until January. Now I can rejoin my classmates and learn about medications, injections, IV's, and wound care, important skills to becoming a full-fledged nurse. I am so relieved! Now the work of improving my skills begins...

An Elegy to A Park That Is No More

Here are my nephew and I on our way to the park right across from our house. The swing sets are now torn out as of yesterday, the same day they tore out the soccer goal posts. I was glad Christina wasn't around to see that sad sight. The plan is to build a new play area in a different location after tearing out the old which isn't actually such an old park. There will also be a parking lot for the baseball folks and four baseball diamonds for young children, I assume, because the park isn't big enough for older players who can hit the ball further. What was once Seneca school has been torn down and will be replaced with 48 detached houses.

Alas, the park where I frolicked with Christina when she was a young toddler, back in my teenage years, will soon pass away. Alas, the swing sets I swung her in as a baby are now torn up. Alas, the field where she spent many carefree hours playing soccer is now piles of dirt with the poles ripped out of the ground. I think I said alas too many times, but I really don't know any synonyms. Needless to say, change is happening in our neighbourhood and we are going to have many new neighbours eventually, and a smaller park. On the bright side, both the parking lot and new houses are not going to be right next to our house.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Of Curveballs and Lemonade

Suddenly everything is up in the air with me and everything is about to be rearranged in a different order, depending how things land and the velocity of the wind. In other words, a person may make plans, but God directs her steps. I don't really know why everything had to fall apart in order to be rearranged, but at least I know the interior designer has the best of intentions and life isn't over until you actually kick the bucket.

I think I have more things to accomplish and more life to live, so I am going to sing into the winds of adversity and cast my bread upon the waters and then I am just going to sit tight and see what God will do with me and my life. The storm may be over internally, but the ripples are still forever altering the shape of my life.

I am waiting and that's all I can do right now. I am calm and I am getting stronger in the broken places. Whatever happens I have someone right beside me, so I will be okay.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Three Dears and a Fox

Last afternoon I got back from my trip which featured stops in Belleville, Montreal, Ottawa, and Port Perry. I was tutored in my new birthday camera by my tech-savvy sister, and I am sort of getting the hang of it. I saw my sister's apartment and a small section of Montreal which I found very impressive indeed architecturally and also commercially and artistically. I posed by graffiti that proclaims "I love cheese." Even the graffiti seemed thoughtful and well-done.

I also saw John and Laurianne, their sky-diving video (fantastique!), and their apartment. We went to a wonderful Chinese restaurant close to where they live and the food was amazing.

In Port Perry I saw Jono and Janice, their four kids, Laura and her fiancee Brad, two of my aunts, and my Oma who served us so much food for tea we really weren't hungry for supper afterwards. This did not deter us in the least from polishing off the left-overs from my birthday meal. Only the pie remains, and is in very poor shape so we shall soon finish that as well.

On my birthday, a day in which I was very spoiled by my parents and siblings, I went for a hike with three of my sisters to a spot we have often cross-country skiied. We saw three deer and a fox, and we played Pooh sticks and then had a photo shoot. In our photos we looked like dryads or angels, or maybe more like three dears and a fox. Once I have the photos I will post one or two.

My talented photographer sister gets all the credit for setting up this shot and for the interesting effect obtained. There was also another series that wasn't quite as nice where Christina and I looked angelic. I guess we don't exactly look like dryads... my imagination does take certain creative liberties. Still it is a good composition and an interesting photo.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

30 Years Old

It feels like an ending, but also a beginning. It is the end, probably, of my daily posts on this blog, it is the end of being able to say I am 29, it is the end of a decade. It is the beginning of a new era, the beginning of a decade which I hope to hope to start and finish strong, and the beginning of what I hope will be a new maturity...

Today my Mom is speaking at our church which I am very much anticipating. Then we will have the traditional birthday meal followed by a lemon meringue pie and presents. My Dad is away at a men's retreat until early evening, but Linda will be here. Following that we will be Montreal bound to drop off Rachel at school, we will stop for a hotel in Belleville, drive the rest of the way, and then go up to Ottawa for a short visit with John and Laurianne. After that we will drive home, stopping in at Oma's for tea on the way.

Later today I may post a birthday picture, of me in my new decade of life. I don't look my best right now due to seasonal allergies, but by afternoon I should be feeling less congested. I may also report on how many things on my bucket list I actually accomplished this year, which I would guess is more than half, but probably no more than 17 of the things. I will have to look at the list again soon to check for sure.

Photo credit L. den Boer who gave me this shirt as a gift.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sometimes You Just Wish Your Watermelon Had Pits

Here's my family about two months ago. With such a beautious and long back porch on which to expectorate seeds, you can bet we were all wishing we didn't have one of those new-fangled watermelons. Some of us are excellent spitters and the others ones need to practice. I won't say what category I fall into!

My Twenties in Hindsight

Today is the last day of being in my twenties. I started university right after my 20th birthday and I was in school for the next four and a half years, graduating officially in 2005 with a BA in Honours English and Religion and a well-developed sense of literary and theological snobbery.

Next I tried out the job search thing, and various careers in office work and general labour nursery work. After that I had a health crisis which took me some time to recover from, so I was working in propagation nursery work as I was recovering and beyond. I did part-time schooling and full-time seasonal work for a year and then I finally got into a good college program.

Now I am a full-time student and I am turning 30 just as I am entering my second of four semesters in Practical Nursing. I also did full-time work and took two classes in New Testament Greek for one year with the end goal of grad school, leading up to my health crisis. I still find writing, languages, and religion fascinating, although I do also love health sciences and studying about the human body and pathology as well; I remain committed to the goal of being qualified to help others dealing with health crises, caring for them, and promoting health.

Although I recently became slightly active on the dating scene through an online website I absolutely do not endorse, I haven't had a serious relationship in my twenties. I think for me this is a very positive thing, because I am still in the process of healing and becoming whole and finding my life's direction.

As far as hobbies, I love watching movies, and crocheting, sometimes simultaneously. I love reading as well, but not as much as when I was a teen when I was a book worm who could polish off three books a week. Walking, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors are also highly diverting activities for me. Baking is something I do for fun. I love to get together with friends one on one and just talk about what's on my heart and what's up with them. I love to write; even school papers are a good challenge. I enjoy any time some one asks me a question about the Bible... I might not know the answer but I may pretend I do. :)

Despite the fact I don't really want to be in my thirties, maybe it will be a better decade for me. I am more mature, more self-aware, more eager to follow in the path of Christ, and someday I will be ready for stepping into whatever God has for me as a career path, in relationships, and with family. Until then I'll take it one day at a time, beginning with my very first day being 30 tomorrow!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Man of the Cloth

The amount of respect I had for him in that moment was inversely proportional to the amount of pressure he was applying to my head. I placed my feet further apart and pushed back. He applied counterpressure but there was no way I was falling, especially not in front of Jim, his mother and his brother.

I asked myself why this should be THE altar call, the one I had been long waiting for, the one that I had vowed to go up to the front for. Sure, he had called for anyone with "oppression, depression and any kind of pression" which was a little on the broad side and also, I recalled, he was well versed with my medical history.

He stood there in what was later described to me as a $3000 suit, waiting for me to fall, and water burst forth from the blister that had been forming for some time, and all that was left was the empty skin shell.

Later my coworker Jim and I discussed in length his tendency for mini-sermons on prosperity right before the offering, and his long-winded prayers afterwards invoking God to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing. We agreed it was manipulative, although the promises in the Bible were there in black ink.

From this moment I gradually extricated myself from his camp, and when his empire later fell due his infidelity to the mother of his children and his adultery revealed in plain sight, dropping his charisma points to near bankruptcy, I was only slightly more disillusioned and in my youthful cynicism not very surprised.

Tungsten and I Making a Scarf

I love crocheting and Tungsten loves yarn. She was very interested in this project, which was beautiful but not very functional due to the fuzzies the acrylic yarn leaves everywhere. She used to be more of a lap sitter, but still loves attention!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Like Dust in the Wind

Change unsettles me and I find myself digging in my heels, and trying to stay in one place as life drags me along. I cried and was periodically sad for a couple of months when my younger sister moved away to school. One Coldplay song in particular often moved me to a silent stream of swift-flowing tears. She was growing up and in Montreal would be legal drinking age... she would come home, but it wouldn't ever be the same as before.

I still picture my grade school as the old building, even though I have been in the new building numerous times. I remember the yellow-gold curtains and the grade four portable, the spot where I split open my chin on the ice, the kindergarten doors which we would visit from time to time, the spot between the portables where we endlessly traded stickers, the pavement where we played our skipping games, the gravel where we staked our claims in Land.

I can precisely envision my grandparent's house in Corinth, which was over 100 years-old. Even though they lived nearly a decade in another dwelling, to me this was always their home. I remember the greenhouse, the smell of potting soil, the moist feel of the tiny little plants, the sound of "Big Bad John" or "When Irish Eyes are Smiling" enlivening the atmosphere from the ancient radio on St. Patrick's Day.

I remember my grandparent's bedroom which my sister and I slept in at night; we were always falling towards each other, and sometimes were awakened by the trains shaking the house after the warning signal shattered the quiet murmur of the night. That happened more often though in the smaller bedroom in a different era, when we would awaken to count the cars between the engine and the caboose... I had the cot and my sister had the bed with our scratchy but clean and well-aired blankets. We had a tiny black and white tv in the room we could sometimes watch tv on, but the grainy images deterred us from watching much, especially when there was a better television down the winding stairs. My brother had a room to himself in the front of the house, where there was also a crib and beneath it a communication to the downstairs living room.

I can recall how many times we ran to a window to catch a glimpse of the black buggies clip-clopping past and how excited we were when the general store owner across the tracks gave us penny candy for free. I remember Tinkerbell who mimicked the sounds of the outside birds attracted by numerous feeders.

Recalling the beauties of the gardens and remembering the back porch cookie and juice breaks, I am pierced by a sadness, because, not only are my grandparents passed into glory, but also this place does not remain the same except in my memory. Now junk clutters the greenhouse and the house has been disemboweled to re-adjust it to pre-electricity and convenience days.

Some places you can no longer return to, and some habits you must replace. Some people you have to say good-bye to, and eventually you yourself will be old and your memories scattered to the wind like so many particles of dust.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On This Day in Paris, France... Dad made a premature entry into the world. He was a tiny little baby and his father later admitted to being disappointed about his small stature. He was three weeks ahead of schedule, which I am sure he would always hope to be. The doctors and nurses fed him with sea water as well as his mother's milk. At this time, no one guessed that the baby taken home on a Harley Davidson motor bike by his young Dutch-speaking parents would grow up to be an accountant in the fair country of Canada or that he himself would have six children, primarily daughters, but also a son who would bear the name of two grandfathers, as well as the Pope and two uncles.

Happy Birthday Dad! I love you and I appreciate your hard work, dedication, parenting through the years, and your integrity.

Our fearless leader who got us back from mosquito haven and swamp city.
Wow he must not be THAT old. He is still just as good as Father William.

You Are Old, Father William By Lewis Carroll

'You are old, Father William', the young man said,
'And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?'

'In my youth', Father William replied to his son,
'I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.'

'You are old', said the youth, 'as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
Pray, what is the reason of that?'

'In my youth', said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
'I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box -
Allow me to sell you a couple?'

'You are old', said the youth, 'and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?'

'In my youth', said his father, 'I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.'

'You are old', said the youth, 'one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?'

'I have answered three questions, and that is enough,'
Said his father, 'don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you downstairs!'

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Battle Within: Demanding Childish Whiner Vs. Grateful Child-like Winner

Sometimes I wonder how God looks at my constant demand for things to go my way. I wonder if he ever wishes he could give me a little shake and tell me to snap out of it. I mean I know all the answers (or so I think), but sometimes I am childish and I whine much like the children of Israel in the desert. I don't learn the lesson the first time so I get stuck in the wilderness again.

I know I will eventually enter the rest the author of Hebrews speaks of, but I have had so much grace along the way, I have had so many tantrums with God, I have refused to move forward so many times, I wonder how he put up with me and my stiff-necked arrogance for so many years.

It can only be the kind of love that made Jesus stay on the cross, while others were ridiculing and insulting him and daring him to show his power. I can't understand the depths of that love, because if I was God I wouldn't put up with the kind of stunts I pull on a regular basis.

I wonder if I can now gracefully handle God saying "No" or "Wait" to one of my most earnest pleas. Can I be grateful for all he has done and celebrate who He is, without needing constant gratification of my every whim? Can I learn to be joyful in difficult situations when I would rather scream or punch someone? Can I learn to be self-controlled and alert and aware of who the true enemy is? Sometimes the hardest thing to conquer in life is yourself, because selfishness is ingrained in the very fabric of who you are.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Celebrity Obsession:

Suddenly I Just No Longer Care

So celebrities sometimes don't have their look all together, and they sometimes have a bad hair day? Thanks for this gripping insight, but I'll skip the pictorial evidence today. And this is supposed to comfort me, because I don't look like them after they've gotten professional hair and make-up done, and sometimes plastic surgery or they have been strategically air-brushed? And this is news, when there are people who don't even have hair because they are going through chemo, and when there are people who wish their hair was their biggest concern, but they are worried about survival and safety, clean water, food and shelter and more basic things? And I helped feed this media frenzy for years, by always caring what Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were doing and what was happening with Katie Holmes?

I feel ashamed that I contribute every day to the celebrity obsession by continually paying attention to all this celebrity gossip. I even feel ashamed that I personally care so much about my own hair and appearance.

Somehow I think our society has a sickness that is obvious to an outside observer, but we've been inside the pot so long we don't realize the water is approaching scalding and the best we have to offer, at least in our popular culture, is some false ideal of beauty and a belief that somehow science can fix what we've done to this earth. We search for something real in the midst of all the glitter and sparkle; we turn to spirituality and Mother Earth, but we still haven't found what we are looking for. We numb ourselves with entertainment or maybe with some other less benign addictions. We are told we deserve the best, and we should buy the best, but in reality we all must continue to buy or our society of consumption will implode. Then we will be left with our purchases and maybe without a few other basic necessities for our North American lifestyle, and possibly at this point we may wonder what has happened to our soul... Did we sell it or just ignore it for too long?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One More Week and Then...

So now I have less than a week and then I hit the big 3-0. I am not inspired to write anything beautiful or profound or even humorous.

I had a good day with church in the park in the rain and fellowship before, during, and afterwards. I had some time to visit with my friend Vicky and it got rather animated which is normal for us... We really do get each other going! We've had similar experiences which we laugh about. And then I saw Vicky's husbands new kitten and saw a little fashion show put on by Christina and her friend. And we planned a shopping trip for accessories and shoes for Christina's friend.

We've had dinner and now we are going to watch the sequel to "THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY" which we saw last night right before my mom mercilessly beat my dad at a game of Scrabble. I didn't play because when the three of us play I always lose, and I hate losing. Yes, I am one of those people who has to win Scrabble and Settlers of Catan and Balderdash and any game I think I have a chance of winning.

The funny thing is last weekend I went to a Euchre tournament and the whole time I thought I was losing and then it turned out I had the second highest score and I am not even a very good player. I won this wonderful prize basket too. I am still not sure how I beat all these excellent Euchre players, unless they were all playing for the most lone hands and failing to win consistently. My Dad is a better Euchre player than me, but he wasn't getting good cards and when he did he wasn't able to call it. So now I can go out to a restaurant in Burlington for a meal sometime, plus I got some Avon products, a beautiful pad of paper to write on with a pen, and a very nice basket. On top of all that this past week my friend gave me a beautiful new ring that I love and my sister's friend gave me three gorgeous pairs of earrings as pre-birthday gifts. I am not sure what to expect for my actual birthday! But I promise to be on my best behaviour as befits someone in their third decade (or is it actually my fourth decade since now I'll be working towards 40?). Oh dear... I am going to miss my twenties!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Know You're Getting Older When...

... The unstylish outfits you used to wear as a teen are suddenly "retro."
... The people you used to babysit are now babysitters themselves.
... The station you listened to as a young adult now grates on your nerves. Does every song have to be about "getting it on?" Just saying!
... Your peers have children who are past kindergarten age and even some of them are nearly as old as your younger sister.
... You tell stories of how different things were back when you went to high school and/or grade school, and every one is tired of these stories.
... You can't recall who you have told what story... but aren't panicked because they were all basically true, or only slightly embellished for dramatic effect.
... You act like a mother even though you have no children. Your sister is annoyed by your maternal side.
... Some of your peers are now university professors or published authors.
... You remember back when it is was cool to say "Not!" after everything you didn't mean.
... You fondly recall Cabbage Patch Dolls, Smurfs, CareBears, and Pound Puppies. You used to watch Today's Special, The Green Forest, and Fraggle Rock.
... You actually used to think Barbie was pretty, and not horribly deformed. Your only regret is you never had a Ken doll, because at least he was well-proportioned.
... You love The Princess Bride and think it was the best movie ever.
... You don't like Zac Ephron and don't know if you just misspelled his name.
... You have ceased caring for the Hollywood Stars who are younger than you and their personal lives. You still hope for the best for Lindsay Lohan.
... You find Lady Gaga very catchy, but she annoys you almost every time you turn on the radio.
... You don't think Madonna is actually so "old", just highly intelligent, a postmodernist par excellence, and an unstoppable force.
... You missed the Twilight boat, and you are not sorry.
... You no longer care about reality tv, because you think it is only going downhill from here.
... You may feel like you are still nineteen at times, but you know the mirror does not lie. You are hoping for laugh lines.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Food: A Passion That Never Dies...

...especially if it is Chocolate (or sweet)!

I love food. I relish a chocolate bar to the extent of licking up any spare crumbs from the wrapper, I savour every morsel out of expensive chocolatier's chocolate, I love baked potatoes with sour cream and chives, steak that is tender and moist, chicken drowning in creamy sauce. I enjoy stir-frys with spices and special sauce, fresh vegetables with the perfect sour cream and herb dip, and raspberries with a dab of Josie's Famous Fruit Dip.

I can't get enough of fresh pineapples, coconut, oranges which drip down my fingertips. I love apples with peanut butter and peanut butter by itself at any time of day. In summertime I enjoy ice cream in the midst of a heat wave, with chunks of chocolate or fruit or cream cheese. Fruit pies, cheesecakes, chocolate cake, lemon meringue pie... how delightful! I love cheese in big chunks and spicy appetizers drizzled with oil, and toasted to perfection. Mixed nuts are not safe around me, and chocolate ice cream will be plundered of the choicest morsels, chocolate chips will mysteriously disappear while peanut butter smears appear upon the countertop.

My family can probably name hundreds of instances in which I have argued about, complained about, or made unreasonable demands about food. Also I am the biggest eater of my own baking, and I love to bake the most decadent food our kitchen ingredients will allow. I like to cook sometimes, but baking is one of my favourite past-times.

As much as I love food, if I ate every time I had a craving or even every time I feel a slight pang of hunger, I know I would balloon a few more dress sizes. My stomach is a part of my body, one that thinks it wants it all; it can complain it is getting less, but I will simply follow some old advice to eat a small amount of a variety of foods, to drink water when it is not time to indulge my appetites, and to exercise self-control. So stomach... get used to disappointment, and food, you are no longer my master! Wait a second, as I reread the first part I can feel my mouth watering... But I will never surrender! At least not until lunch time!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

DayDream Believer

For me there has always been some kind of mystique to an island. Growing up I heard about the Thousand Islands, and my sister read to me a story of some kids who ran away from their parents and escaped to an island. The fact that she decided to stop reading the story part-way only fascinated me more. Then there is Huckleberry Finn and Jim on a raft going down the Mississippi river, a story my mother read to me in childhood, a tale full of their hideouts on remote tiny little rocks. As an adolescent I loved the novel by Lucy Maud Montegomery called "The Blue Castle" wherein Valcancy Stirling, once a staid and timid old maid, defies her family and marries in a backwoods ceremony a disreputable rakish man, and they live together on his island in the Muskokas. It turns out that he is her favourite author who writes about the beauty of the woods and he is also the son of a self-made millionaire who peddled patent medicine.

I love the northern wilderness, and in high school I decided that someday I wanted to be an author who owned her own island and went there in summers to write and reflect. I wanted to go there with my ruggedly handsome husband by motor boat, and bring along our progeny in the form of towheaded little rascals and beautiful little russet-haired princesses. This island didn't have to be very big, just large enough for a rustic cottage and some outlying buildings.

I wasn't sure how I could ever afford this island, and my plan wasn't just to marry someone rich. So I dreamed that I would become an award-winning journalist who traveled the world as a young ambitious woman.

This dream was just a castle in the air; more of a daydream than something I ever expected to actually happen. And life took me in different directions and now I am a student studying practical nursing, and I am not rich enough to even buy my own house on a tiny little lot. But that's okay, because riches are not necessarily owning your own island or Fortune 500 company. Riches are a family who loves you, friends who support you, blessings that fill your life even in the midst of disappointment and pain. Joy and peace, love and hope: these are all riches that money cannot buy and they are free gifts to any who would reach for them, who would seek and find, and open the door to the One who knocks.

The image is of my family at Doe Lake, on the dock in front of our rented cottage. Photo credit M. den Boer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Story of the Bad Gardener: A Cautionary Tale

This spring/summer I was put in charge of the planting and maintenance of the garden. At first I remembered to keep on watering the tender plants every other day or so, depending on the precipitation we were getting. The lilies bloomed and then they were all gone, and I think that was the point I ceased caring for any of the other plants in the garden. I only cared that they seemed to be surviving with the occasional rain they were getting.

Last night my mom said the impatients should have multiplied to four or five plants by now. I abandoned them to this horrible heat wave, and only cared that they still lived.

It kind of reminds me of the person in the parable who buried the talent in the ground and then presented it back at the time of accounting. A good gardener wants multiplication, and waters the plants every other day through the dog days of summer.

My grandfather was the best gardener I ever in my life encountered, and he would not be have been impressed by my excuses. Even less will my Heavenly Father be pleased if I waste my talents and keep dividing instead of multiplying his blessings and gifts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Emotional Hangovers

I have never had a hangover induced by alcohol, but I know the experience of an emotional hangover after a bout of extreme, irrational emotion. My throat is sore from yelling, my emotions are subdued, my eyes feel newly bathed in tears, but no new tears will fall. Sometimes I just itch for a fight and usually I want a verbal jousting match, but no one wants to take the bait and play by my stupid rules... They all just want me to start treating people they way they deserve to treated with dignity and respect all of the time, not just for most of the day.

Emotional hangovers help you realize in the clear light of day that your patterns of behaviour cannot go on, and must not continue. But to stop them you need the help of a higher power... one who knows how you roll, and won't let you get away with staying in your stupidity and bad ways of relating. One thing I have to learn is that correction is not condemnation or even accusation. Wise people know this, and they listen and they usually don't even raise their voice at all, and they definitely don't change their tone to one dripping with negativity and sarcasm and drenched in angst-filled irrationality.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Birthdays

Today is the day my niece turns two, and it is also the birthday of my sister-in-law. They both are far away in kilometres and I just bought their birthday cards today, because it is easy to forget someone's birthday who you don't see everyday. I often forget my sister-in-law's birthday, so I have sent many belated birthday greetings. It's hard to believe it has been a decade since I first met her and five years since we celebrated the wedding... where does time go? Happy Birthday Laurianne and Julianna! I hope you enjoyed your days, and maybe next year I'll send the birthday card in time.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Some mothers are positively heroic...

Today we had some company over with two young children. I found myself in the pool for around an hour and a half with a four year-old girl who wanted me to teach her everything about swimming. I finally got her to try the back float and she finally relaxed enough to let go of my neck and lay back in the water with my hands supporting under her knees and back. She was wearing a life jacket, but she wasn't really ever fully testing its ability to hold her up. I think next summer she might be ready for swimming lessons, but let me tell you by the time we were done I was pretty tired!

She is very inquisitive, and very strong willed as well, but she has good parents and she is going to be going to JK this September. Before she left we went for half-an-hour at the park with her younger brother. Getting her to walk back required a mother with a stronger will and some good child psychology advice. It reminded me of Christina when she was two and she would often want to go on the slide five more times after I said it was time to go. But I would just tell her we had five more minutes, which is a hard concept for a two year old to grasp.

I can't really imagine parenting a child like that and always keeping two steps ahead of her, plus caring for a younger child with his own needs and vulnerabilities. I think a mother like that deserves some kind of medal of honour! I am so glad she has her husband who is a good father, and they present an united front.

It certainly makes me think about the challenge of raising children... they are harder to raise than plants and you can expect to keep training them until at least eighteen...only, your tactics will have to change along the way. Also they are extremely precious and very fragile, until they grow stronger and then you have to slowly let go, and eventually you hope they are actually launched!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Family Traditions Remembered

With all this heat we are getting in southern Ontario I am fondly remembering Christmases past. Here are some pictures from last family Christmas.

The matriarch of the family draws all family members together. Here are two of my cousins and one of the next generation of the B's.

Oma always insists on some kind of program, which is much resisted by the older crowd, some of whom are older than 30 or nearly in their third decade of life. Here are two of my cousins doing an Abbott and Costello routine... they actually were quite amusing.

Some of the more theatrical types re-enacted the tragedy of Aunt Jane's broken heirloom bowl. Of course it involved reheated potatoes and the nursing care required was completely incidental.

My Oma receives over 50% of all gifts, naturally. There is also an exchange involving the uncles and aunts. The rest of us gratefully receive money and of course a chocolate letter. Also the great grandchildren get some well-chosen gifts, and two cousins stubbornly maintain a gift exchange started long ago, back when they used to receive identical clothing to model.

My family keeps the tree up until the New Year. This past year we said good-bye to Freida Fuzzypaws, some of us under protest, and hello to Tungsten, who is much sweeter-tempered and less hated by our relatives. Operation Save Freida Fuzzypaws was a dismal failure.

No Christmas season is ever complete without an epic battle on the crokanol board. My Dad, due to his advantageously malformed fingernails, always triumphs! My uncle always vows to practice, but, if he does, it only delays the inevitable an extra half-hour.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Cutest Little Munchkins and A Western Dystopian Tale

Here are my nephew, niece, and I playing lego. Our biggest challenge was all our girl lego people had been stolen from a long-ago diorama, and we were left with quite the Disney-esque story-arch where the farm was populated solely by males, and the occasional head-scarfed pirate "woman" who was not accepted into the storyline for long.

The adventurous son of the farmer kept on encountering bears in the dump and also taking brief trips into space on his rocket ship. He always returned very quickly from these forays, in time for everyone to go to sleep for the night. There was also a never-do-well friend of the son who could not be trusted and a couple of uncles who were regular visitors.

There were many casualties of the son's driving and the bears, but no one was ever mourned or missed. The grandparents rode over on their horses from their faraway homestead, and were served food made by their grandson. The grandmother was the lone female who did become a regular part of this western-futuristic saga. She wore a jaunty Robinhood style hat set off with a red feather. And how could I forget... the son discovered a buried treasure chest of gold and gems, and found the perfect hiding place for it on the farm.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When Less is More

I am really really skilled at making things more complex, whether that is emotionally, mentally, semantically, or procedurally. I am not so adept at simplifying life and the discipline of simplicity is about as foreign to me as French, a language I still occasionally speak to the annoyance of my family and the amusement of anyone who actually knows this beautiful language that I regularly butcher.

Slowing down, meditating on a phrase in Scripture, listening to the birds as you sit eyes closed on a park bench in the middle of the city, concentrating on just being instead of constantly doing, being silent when you have nothing of value to say instead of filling the quiet with meaningless talk and blabber; these are all things that are difficult for me.

If you think about it- what does a branch on the vine actually do? When you are hiding under the Shadow of God's Wings, what service are you required to perform? What level of intelligence is a sheep expected to have following the Shepherd's voice? What does it mean to BE a child of God, and what is the requirement for inheriting the Kingdom and all that it entails?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Pair of Younger Sisters

I am always amazed (and somewhat jealous) of the bond between my two youngest sisters. They are separated in age by around seven years, but they never let that stop them in their sisterly bond. They get ready for bed at the same time (partly due the fact no one can use the upstairs bathroom after my Dad retires), they share beauty tips, they tell each other when the other looks unstylish and neither of them gets offended. And my sister Rachel was the image consultant, hair-stylist, and make up artist behind Christina's stunning look in this photo. I am pretty sure she helped select the dress as well, since it came from Montreal. Thankfully both sisters also have many other talents, other than looking beautiful.

Photo credit L. den Boer

There is no one in the world who can make me smile as effortlessly as Rachel (unless it is her best friend in combination; that duo will always be dynamic). I am extremely proud of Christina's athleticism and poise.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Long, Sweltering Day

Today I had two appointments, walked a couple of kilometres in the noon-time heat, bid my aunt and Oma farewell, sent out some essential emails as pertains to my future studies, and exhausted my energies all before 2:30 pm, when my littlest sister's small gathering of friends began. Too bad I actually do have school work to get done! My second wind should arrive soon. Here's hoping...

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday Company

Today I went to my cousin's commissioning service, and visited with two aunts, an uncle, and my Oma who is now eighty-eight years old. My uncle flipped me off the air-mattress into the pool, because he just likes to tease his nieces as well as his very tolerant (and loving) wife.

The sermon today was about tolerance and love and how they interact in a believer's life and the exclusive claims that God and Christ made, as interpreted in Scripture vs. our cultural way of tolerance as it is interpreted in our postmodern world. It was enjoyable to sing today very loudly and mostly not to hear myself, and to sing meaningful songs of praise and gratitude.

It was good to see the relatives, enjoy a meal together, even though it is a sad time with my great-uncle passing away and leaving behind his beloved wife, his children, and many grandchildren. I don't know most of them or him very well. We visited his place once when I was very young and he had a beautiful property with a pond and many places to play. I think it must have been in July because I remember going to see fireworks. My Oma is the last left in her generation, because four brothers and a sister have all gone in the last two years. She is sad, but she told me that she is comforted that all of them are with Jesus. Some of the older generation including my parents and one aunt are going to the funeral tomorrow in Michigan with Oma, so they have just left to travel the four hours to their hotel.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Sisterhood of Five

I wanted this photo on my blog, even if it has been posted elsewhere. I love my sisters, their variety, and their beauty. Two of my sisters have natural dark hair and the other two are blondes. I look most like my older sister and the two darker beauties look very much alike as well. I love their brown eyes! My youngest sister looks like my brother, according to her, but I don't really see it. My sister-in-law would have made a nice addition to this photo... she is gorgeous!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Sisters and Friends

I think the difference between sisters and friends is that sisters have to put up with a lot more. They live with you when the slightest criticism can bring you to tears or you are so touchy you can be tripped as easily as a landmine. They endure your subtle and not-so-subtle insults and pick the barbs out of their skin nonchalantly, as if their skin were actually of a thicker variety than yours.

They look up to you, and then they look down on you from their towering height. They travel far away and settle in other cities, building lives you only have a small window in on. They grow up and suddenly you feel old before your time.

You might bare your soul to a close friend, but no one knows your true heart like your own sister. Because despite your apparent transluncency, you wear a mask at times and a suitable disguise. You shift in and out of character until you are not sure at all about your actual identity. But your sister, she knows the face behind the mask and the wreck behind the false front. She knows, but because she is your sister, she loves you as you are.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Cornelius and I...

at the beginning of our relationship, before he broke down on the weekend of my sister-in-law's bridal shower. For awhile there we were less than cordial. Note the lack of dents... that's a significant detail! His body is a little less perfect now... If you look really close you might see my red graduation tassel, but I can barely make it out myself in this photo.

Walking and Talking

One of my many idiosyncrasies is that when I am walking and conversing with someone I can't maintain a straight path. I gradually inch towards them and push them off the sidewalk. I can only manage to maintain a relatively straight path if they walk on my left-hand side, and only if I concentrate some of my mental energy on it.

I really can't manage to walk and talk on the cell phone at the same time either, but I just got my first cell phone about three months ago. I keep it for car emergencies mostly, of which there have been none so far.

Right now I am waiting to go for my daily constitutional with my Dad. I generally like to walk for at least half an hour a day and the sun is about to set on a hot, muggy day. Tomorrow is supposed to be a nicer day weather-wise, less humid I hope.

So I guess I am not a superb multi-tasker, and sometimes I focus on my own agenda too much. I could maybe free myself a bit more if I stop the me focus, and concentrate on someone else for a change... one at a time, whoever I happen to be with. Self-denial and not self-absorbtion is the ticket to a lifetime of walking and talking with God. I can't push him off onto the road, that's for sure!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Some Cheering Mail

I got a thin envelope in the mail today, congratulating me that I made the Dean's Honour List for the Winter 2010 semester. I thought it might be something much more ominous and was pleasantly surprised. I immediately remarked that this summer semester I made the Dean's Failure list, but my family retorted that only I would say something like that. Meanwhile the administrative problem may be solved tomorrow when I go to my campus and talk with the right administrator. I think he has an hour lunch break though so hopefully I can catch him before his lunch. Otherwise patient waiting will be necessary, which as the Wii would phrase it: it "is not my forte."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Confessions of an Imperfect Perfectionist

I hate extreme sports, except watching them on the Olympics and even then I wince. Watching soccer I usually worry about players' potentially game-ending injuries. This makes their constant faking of injuries very painful to watch.

I continually warn my sisters about proper foot wear while they mow our lawn. I have never in my life mowed a lawn. This has more to do with the birth order of my family than it has to do with my delicacy and laziness.

My mom used to affectionately call me Princess Suzanne. This is because I didn't know basic things like which was the washer and which was the dryer, and I could care less.

I have very "selective" hearing. I can tune out entire conversations and also I can respond as if I actually was paying attention and then later deny any knowledge of what the individual tried to communicate.

While I do have a good work ethic, I find I need sufficient time to relax in between bursts of intense activity or I get too keyed up.

I used to get upset about individual multiple choice questions I got wrong. Meanwhile my professors had rarely seen anyone who got that many correct on an introductory course that probably should have been a lower priority.

I sometimes decide I can't do something before I even try it. When forced to try to accomplish said task, I tend to perform it poorly and clumsily, until my mom accuses me of trying to prove myself right. At this point I get upset, but later realize the task was relatively simple and I could have done it after listening to simple instructions and correcting any errors in technique.

I love crocheting and I have crocheted three afghans of good quality which I gave as gifts. I started a fourth, but I don't have enough time to relearn the complex pattern or time to spare to work on it. I'd like to try smaller projects, but I need the right materials.

I used to think Redeemer Administration was bad. But I think Mohawk College/McMaster University takes the cake on this one! Right now I am in the midst of an administrative nightmare, that didn't end before 1700 which means I may wake up from it tomorrow...

I have the capacity to be very mean and cruel to those near and dear to me. I had to apologize to my parents this evening, but they forgave me.

I only have twenty-five more days to enjoy my twenties. I hope to enter my thirties with my dignity intact.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Duldrums

Sometimes when things stop moving around you long enough for you to get readjusted, your emotions catch up with you. I feel a confused mix of emotion so I can't really analyze it, and probably shouldn't examine it too closely.

I guess maybe it is somewhat similar to how Elijah felt after God's huge triumph over Baal worship. He had been used by God to help wipe out Baal worship, Jezebel was after his head, and he had travelled for forty days only lasting through miraculous food and drink given by an angel at the beginning of his journey. He had already been exhausted at the start, although he did get the chance to sleep for awhile, and by the end he sounded like a petulant child.

He thought he was the only true worshipper left and that he might as well give up. After a dramatic display of God's pyrotechnics, God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice. He told Elijah he was not alone and that there were many heads in Israel who had never bowed to Baal. He also told Elijah to anoint his own successor and also to anoint two kings who would complete the job of destroying the household of Ahab in Samaria.

Living by emotions is not a good way to live. We walk by faith and not by sight. We see through a glass darkly. Actually I am glad God doesn't tell me what I will do in my life, because I probably would be so overwhelmed by all the things I will have to go through, I wouldn't ever move into his purposes again. He may have my life planned, but he only gives me as much as I can handle.

I must simply live each day and accomplish whatever is necessary in that day and watch out for opportunities that I haven't planned or anticipated at all. Every day's troubles are sufficient for itself, so I don't need to borrow trouble from the future or dig it up from the past. Thank God that he cares enough about me to care about all the little details, from the number of hairs on my head to how much money I have in my savings account, and I can always pray to him and tell him exactly how I feel.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Enjoying the Lord's Table

I really appreciate the fellowship of the breaking of the bread, and the drinking of the cup in a way that is totally new to me. I can sing a song and not worry if I am out of tune. I can bring my heart before God, and I can approach the throne of grace with freedom and confidence. God is doing a new thing in my life, and I am starting to expect more and more of God's abundant grace. He has opened the windows of heaven and is pouring out a blessing. It is a like a shower or a waterfall and it comes with pain sometimes but it also comes with joy!

Life is not easy, but Jesus never promised an easy road. He said to take up your cross and follow him. We have to die and then we come alive again. Every one's path is different, but no road leading past the cross is an easy one. I am one of those he endured the cross to redeem and it was a high price, but he said "It is finished." So every thing and person he went on the cross to redeem can be redeemed, healed, filled, and made to live as a new creation. Because He lives, we can live!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Um, I can't get a word in edge-wise...

Picture this: My friend and I are sitting in Starbucks with our decaffeinated drinks and suddenly it dawns on me I have been talking almost non-stop for more than thirty minutes! My friend's first language is Russian and she just couldn't compete with my flood of verbiage... She was, however, a good listener, but really what choice did she even have? Thankfully before this I had been asking her questions about her summer, her studies, and her son's wedding and we had walked together along the Bayfront... Still next time I should realize a little sooner that she had been confined to short interjections for a long time, and really she is a much more fascinating person than myself, so I would do much better to listen to her!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Extra Extra Long Weekend

This holiday weekend is called "George Hamilton Day" in this neck of the woods, and for me this weekend lasts nearly a week, or six sleeps. On Saturday I am visiting with relatives and Dutch cousins, and on Friday I am going out for coffee with a friend and the Friday after that I am celebrating with my Connon coworkers bound together by the love of Cornelius and the ties of sisterly affection.

We are so happy that one of us has a job in her field of study, another of us, namely me, is holding onto part-time nursing studies, two of us are learning how to drive, and one of us is about to ace her McGill exams. Cornelius is the only unhappy one, because he is just underworked lately without the need for an hour or more of driving every week day.

Bidding Connons farewell is bittersweet, but mainly sweet... I'd say it is like 45% cocoa chocolate. The steady pay-cheque is the most missed aspect, and next are the people I worked with for years and my second favourite boss I have had in all my employment history... he is second to my late grandfather who had us grandchildren old enough to be out of diapers over every March Break to work in his greenhouse, until his health compelled him to move to a property that required less upkeep. We earned $100 each, and had long breaks which included orange juice and cookies, a lunch break of at least an hour with a three course meal sometimes including the grandchildren's very favourite of hamburger noodlebake, and a quitting time of whenever we felt like it. Plus we got day trips and outings to the used book store. By the way I have also worked part-time for my father, and I don't think he or I could handle working as father and daughter in the same office!

This extra extra long weekend will be spent chilling, swimming, cooking, baking, studying about computers, and finishing my biology homework. I have to register for my courses on Tuesday afternoon after 1500. I might pick up my crocheting project again, or study a map of Ontario with great intensity and interest. I wonder if I can fit in a visit to a beautiful beach?

The image is of moi at the end of our time at Doe Lake. I think I look all of my twenty-nine years, by which I mean I don't think this picture is flattering! I just like the background!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Lovely Evening and a Beautiful Day!

I enjoyed a ladies get together at the home of a member of my small group. I love these ladies, even though I am not well acquainted with all of them. There are some my parent's age, and older, some in their forties with grown kids, some in their thirties with kids, some in their younger twenties with husbands, and some single and in their twenties. The setting was perfect with beautiful gardens and a pool. The appetizers alone were spectacular, the drinks were wonderful, the main dinner was delectable, the dessert was exquisite, but most importantly the fellowship was amazing. I was only slightly disappointed only four of us decided to go in the pool... it was one of those kidney shaped pools surrounded by flowers and gardens, and of course the water was warm.

When I arrived home I had a delightful time with my sister and her best friend who was sleeping over. I love this woman's sense of humour and I consider her my fifth sister... not that I need more sisters I just consider her family. We were rather noisy and boisterous, but they say that laughter is the best medicine...

I had a good rest and now I am meeting a friend for lunch at noon... a meeting that is highly anticipated and should be wonderful. Maybe I can buckle down to some studying before then... I am not holding my breath!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Risky Business

I think it is appropriate with Katie Holmes in the area shooting a movie on JKO that we watch a classic movie starring Tom Cruise. No actual risky business is being attempted, never fear... My dad is a professional, after all, in his field of accounting, and the rest of us are over 13 and under sixty, therefore this classic should be entirely age-appropriate and completely non-shocking to our tender sensitivities. A report shall follow about how many of us stick with the movie until the final scene...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Abrasive Attitude

Sometimes I can be much like sand-paper... you wouldn't want to get too close or I may attempt to tear off a strip of your thin veneer. I can be extremely hard to live with as my family can attest to. My mom says you can't blame bad behaviour on the time of month, how hungry you are at the time, how rude you perceive someone else as being towards you, the stress of your day, or even on the fact you are recovering from an illness.

Actually I have a lot of excuses, rationalizations, and defences, so much so that the slightest perceived criticism can set off a fire-storm. When the dust settles, I realize the only person with the problem with communication and conciliation is myself and I usually apologize and/or cry.

Yeah it's tough sometimes to be me... I have high standards for myself and I don't always achieve them. Or I achieve them, and then the next thing I do is incredibly mean or hostile or accusatory. Paul put it well when he asked "Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

I guess I don't have to be perfect; I just have to be willing to be perfected. Still I wish I was a consistently nice person, even when others insult me or put me down or laugh at me. I let myself down all the time, and it gets discouraging when you think you are just going around the same mountain for the hundredth time and feel no closer to the summit or farther away from the foothills. I want to be kinder to my long-suffering family, and not to always have to prove that I am right in every difference of opinion.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Insights" from my Solitary Rambles

I visited a Shopper's today and saw the new frontier of Beauty Products including anti-perspirant for men. Sorry men, but anti-perspirant made with aluminum isn't even a good idea for women. It is unhealthy to suppress a natural process like perspiration. In about ten to twenty years if current trends continue we can probably expect to reap the consequences of more breast cancer cases in men. Also I have heard that men's sweat is supposed to be some kind of hormonal turn-on, but maybe the women are just happy someone else is out there working in the hot sun.

I was very proud to walk out of the store with only two products, only one of which I didn't need.

I also walked down the Mountain, along the rail trail and back along Lavender Drive, which ended up taking over two hours... I wished I had taken along some money, when I passed Tim Hortons and a grocery store. At least I brought along my canteen of water. It was another twenty-five minutes home from there. I saw some gorgeous blooms and beautifully appointed gardens. Now I am very tired...

Along the way I wondered if money or love had built a beautiful stone house, decided that driving in a pick up truck with other guys drops a guy's IQ by a good fifty points and additional five points for every guy who is with him, and speculated about why graffiti artists are so non-creative. I mean if you want to deface a stone rock face that has been around for longer than this has been the country of Canada shouldn't you use a beautiful image or at least a word that shows you have an ounce of creativity in your bones... I mean not a profanity or obscenity and not a message of hatred.

I concluded my walk by rehydrating and eating something salty. Now I have start thinking about getting some school work done today, and what I will eat for supper. Thankfully I am not hungry yet, but I am thinking about the difference between being discerning and being judgemental.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hope Does Not Disappoint

Hebrews 10:22-39
The Message Paraphrase

22-25So let's do it—full of belief, confident that we're presentable inside and out. Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

26-31If we give up and turn our backs on all we've learned, all we've been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ's sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be! If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death, what do you think will happen if you turn on God's Son, spit on the sacrifice that made you whole, and insult this most gracious Spirit? This is no light matter. God has warned us that he'll hold us to account and make us pay. He was quite explicit: "Vengeance is mine, and I won't overlook a thing" and "God will judge his people." Nobody's getting by with anything, believe me.

32-39Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn't touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don't throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It's still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God's plan so you'll be there for the promised completion.

It won't be long now, he's on the way;
he'll show up most any minute.
But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust;
if he cuts and runs, I won't be very happy.
But we're not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We'll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.

The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson