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.