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!