Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crochet, Crazy, Chan

Today was the beginning of what will hopefully lead to the end of one of my '35 by 35' items.  I taught myself to crochet. Now I had to ask myself what 'Learn to Crochet' actually means.. and I decided it will be when I have successfully crocheted something (and you can tell what it is).  My first goal is a scarf. My first attempt failed seeing as it looks like a rainbow. The second attempt is going much better!

Years ago when I was a bible school student, my roommate tried to teach me how to crochet (I was really good at making the first row, so proceeded to do so with the entire ball of yarn). Needless to say, I never made it past the second row. I find it ironic that now that I'm no longer a Bible School student and no longer a staff at a Bible School, I am learning to crochet. Had I only done this a year earlier, I would have had endless people to crochet with.. I suppose I will simply have to start my own crocheting community here at home.

A few years ago, I was trying to get a picture for pain, loss and grief in my life.  The image that kept coming to me was a ball of yarn. But it wasn't a neatly raveled one.. it was hundreds of individual pieces of yarn all tied together, resulting in knots and a general mess and virtually impossible to unravel.  The picture God has given me over the last few years as I have intentionally grieved and healed is that He has been untying the knots and taking out each individual piece. He's unraveling the mess.  And today as I was struggling to crochet and find out where in the world the hook should go, I felt the Lord telling me that He is taking all those pieces of yarn and is creating something absolutely beautiful out of them. He is weaving my joy, my sorrow, my loss, my gains, my victories, my defeats into something beautiful. A beautiful image that I will continue to remind myself of. 

Finished reading the book 'Crazy Love' by Francis Chan today.  Enjoyed reading it but also was really challenged again to examine my life and look at how I am living it and looking at what the Bible says rather than weaving together what I would like to hear so that my life is a bit more comfortable and easy. 

Here's a couple quotes that have set me to ponder. And rather than comment on my thoughts, I'll let God speak to you as you read them:

"I wrote this book because much of our talk doesn't match our lives. We say things like, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and "Trust in the Lord with all your heart." Then we live and plan like we don't believe God even exists. We try to set our lives up so everything will be fine even if God doesn't come through. But true faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God's fidelity to His promises."

"Most of us use "I'm waiting for God to reveal His calling on my life" as a means of avoiding action. Did you hear God calling you to sit in front of the television yesterday? Or to go on your last vacation? Or exercise this morning? Probably not, but you still did it. The point isn't that vacations or exercise are wrong, but that we are quick to rationalize our entertainment and priorities yet are slow to commit to serving God."

"Lukewarm people don't really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don't genuinely hate sin and aren't truly sorry for it; they're merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don't really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one."

"But the fact is that nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God; it's about eternity, and nothing compares with that. God is not someone who can be tacked on to our lives."

Happy pondering!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spices, Sky, Seeds

Side note: I love the sky. So dispersed throughout this post are some lovely photos with lovely horizons for your personal enjoyment :) End Side Note.

 I love organizing. Some may call it OCD.. but I call it a love for organizing. 

Today I started the task of organizing the pantry in the kitchen, because
a) it stresses me out and overhwhelms me every time I open it
b) it bothers me that the items in the pantry aren't in proper categories on differing shelves
c) I want to know what's actually in the pantry

I'm about a third done, but the thing that brought me the most joy today was organizing the spice drawers. Because in it, I found four jars of mustard seed, four jars of dried mint, three bags full of nutmeg (in its original form) from some Caribbean country, seven different types of sea salt, five different flavours of black peppercorns, six packs of different thai blends... I could go on, but you get the picture. 

The reason I took such joy in this was mostly because it's such a beautiful representation of my mom. She is one who loves to try new things, introduce others to new things, take every opportunity at living life to the full as she can, making things as tasty and pleasurable as possible and blessing others. All this from some spices. In the mix of items she has, not only in her spice rack, I see again the confirmation of her generous and loving spirit, ready to bless others and take care of them. Whether it's cooking an incredible feast or sharing her latest new spice with a friend at the kitchen table, my mom has always been right in there.  Great reminders today as I spent time in the pantry.. now if only I can figure out what in the world to do with four jars of mustard seed... 

My schedule used to be crammed full. Too full. I was always super busy, whether it was working, school, hanging out with friends, travelling, going on adventures, or perhaps even a combination of things. This season of my life is completely different in that I have no plans every single day of the week. I used to have to book coffee dates with friends two months in advance. And now I'm home with no plans and people can drop in whenever. And it's nice. My body and mind are taking a while to get accustomed though. Every night I feel stress rising and think to myself "what are all the plans I have for tomorrow".. and then I remember "nothing" and that my day will be at home with my mom and what a beautiful thing.  In the midst of caring for someone else, it's such a huge blessing to have so much free time and down time, to read, write, pray, make puzzles, blog, enjoy cooking, clean out the pantry... Continually challenging myself to be intentional with how I spend my time. 

On my quest to read all my books (35 by 35), I have been reading (go figure).  One book I just finished (but know I will keep coming back to) is 'A Grief Observed' by C.S. Lewis. Such wisdom as he gives us a picture into his own grief journey. Very rich indeed.  I will leave you with a smattering of quotes to ponder:

“It doesn't really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.”

“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, hoever, turns out to be not a state but a process.”

“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”

“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” 

”Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. . . [but] not every bend does.Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn’t a circular trench. But it isn’t.”

“We cannot understand. The best is perhaps what we understand least.” 

“Feelings, and feelings, and feelings. Let me try thinking instead.” 

 ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Monday, August 26, 2013

Love, Life, Living

I have a foamy mattress I sleep on at night next to my mom. Often while about to fall asleep, I stare at the giant (and quite heavy) cherubs that are suspended from the ceiling (and have been there for 16 years) and wonder if perhaps they might at some point come crashing down on my head while I sleep (thankfully it hasn't happened yet). And that really has nothing to do with what I want to write about, but I think it's funny.

Being home has been such a mix of different emotions. Through the tiredness and grief, there are moments of inexplicable joy and times when I feel completely carried by the strength and sustenance of God.

I was reflecting today about love and service. It is hard to see someone suffer. Yet I want to be there and do everything I can for my mom because I love her tremendously. She is the woman bore me and raised me and has loved me through everything. If I served out of a sense of guilt or obligation, I probably would have been long gone by now. Yet it is love that propels me, stronger than anything.  And there is a deep joy that accompanies the service, because I am caring for one whom I love.

This further made me reflect on my relationship with God. Sometimes I read different books and suddenly feel an urgency to change the way I live, or be more devoted to God, etc. Yet if I love God, I will obey Him wholeheartedly (John 14:23). My service and surrender will come willingly out of my love for Him.

Yet ironically, I cannot even love Him with my own love-for this I am completely dependent on Him. And in order to fully trust and depend, I need to know Him and spend time with Him. So.. all this to say, when I reflect on my life and wonder why I'm living a certain way, I need to spend time with God, fellowshipping with Him, falling deeper in love with Him. And as I "run" towards Him, the other stuff will follow as I seek to love Him, the service will follow.

Thankful that my life can be motivated by love and not shame or guilt.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thirty-Five, Things, Targets

Recently I found myself sitting for 12 hours in a hospital with nothing to do, but with the companionship of pen and paper.

So, copying what a friend of mine did recently, I decided to compile a list of 35 things to do before I'm 35.  Some of them are really easy. Some of them not so much, but I wanted to dream a little. So I thought I'd share them here so that as I complete them, it will make sense.

And I picked 35, because 30 is too soon and 40 is too far away.

Here goes...

1. Get masters (just started!)
2. Run 5K run (signed up for one on Sept. 14!)
3. Go to Spain/Portugal
4. Cross-country roadtrip across the States
5. Beginner Triathlon
6. Go to Disneyland 35 days in my adult life
7. Break an 80 in golf
8. Paint a canvas
9. Night sky photoshoot
10. Be in a musical
11. Take tap dance lessons
12. Read all the books i own
13. Write a book
14. Overnight Canoe Trip
15. Bake Zwieback (and not have it turn out rock hard)
16. Go bungee jumping
17. Hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp
18. Bike Across Canada
19. Polar Bear Dip
20. Learn how to Crochet
21. Taj Mahal at Sunrise
22. Swim with Whales (okay i might get too scared and skip this.. )
23. Go to Alcatraz
24. Take an art class
25. Go to Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino
26. Host a Chinese Floating Lantern Party (where everyone dresses in white and brings picnics beforehand, just ordered the lanterns!!)
27. Hike in and out of the Grand Canyon
28. Weigh under 200 pounds
29.  Swim 5 kms in one set
30. Find 50 geocache locations
31. Visit the Taizé Community in France
32. Go on a walking holiday
33. Pub Crawl in Portland
34. Go to Newfoundland
35. Stay at an underwater hotel (maybe the coolest thing ever)

So there you have it. Let's see what the next seven years hold. Anyone want to join me for any of these? 

Stay tuned for more updates on their completions (or lack of completions...)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Present, Portland, Psalm

Psalm 121:

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber,
Behold He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

I live in a valley surrounded by mountains and these mountains have for years been a source of joy, refreshment, as they have inspired awe within me again and again for our Creator who has so brilliantly crafted everything around us. They reflect His majesty and when I glance at the mountains, something deep within me knows that regardless of circumstance, everything will be okay, because I can trust the One who created the mountains and gave me life and sustains me daily.

Psalm 121 has been the psalm that I keep coming back to day by day and moment by moment. And every time I look at the mountains, I am reminded that God does not sleep or slumber and He is guarding my going out and my coming in. Wow. What a reassurance. 

My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer a couple months ago and so as I moved back to BC and have been walking through this new journey of grief before me, I am so thankful for the reminder that I can cling to the Lord completely and fully. In most moments, it's too overwhelming for me to handle, but through the tears, I am resting in Him.  

Another one of my constant go to's of late has been C.S. Lewis' book, 'A Grief Observed'. He wrote it in response to watching his wife's tragic death. Here's one quote from it that has struck me lately:

The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed—might grow tired of his vile sport—might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t.

Either way, we’re for it.
-C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Our God is a good God and this is the thing that gives me hope in all things. And my deepest desire is that I would continue to come to a deeper and fuller understanding of WHO He is amidst all things that don't make sense to me.  

I just got home from three days in Portland, where I attended an orientation for the online masters program I'm taking in spiritual formation. I thought I might be distracted the entire time while there, but I was so thankful that God allowed me to be fully present there, with my emotions but also in engaging the amazing people I met. I'm thankful for this unique mix of individuals that have suddenly entered my life in a different way (online learning community), and look forward to walking this section of the journey with them. 

Returning home though, I'm also very present to the situation and felt a bit overwhelmed with it and with emotion this evening. I went outside and the first thing I saw was the sun setting over the mountains. Thank-you Lord for revealing yourself to us in every moment. 

Before orientation started, I had a chance to go to some dahlia gardens which were amazing. If you've ever seen rows upon rows of tulips, it was like that, but with dahlias. 350 different varieties of them. I almost couldn't leave because it was so beautiful and each flower so unique and different. My mom loves dahlias and being there was a really neat moment from God and a chance to connect with Him and to have the reminder of the beauty of life and to take it all in, the joys and sorrows, knowing there is beauty in all of it as He continues to transform us into something beautiful. 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Returned, Restart, Review

My blogging hiatus is coming to an end after a year!  During the past year I have been living in Quebec and have traveled to BC a fair amount. Three weeks ago I moved back to BC.  I figured a good blog to welcome the restart of my blogging would be a recap of this last year.  Unfortunately since I take a million pictures and love them all, this post has a LOT of pictures.  No exaggeration there.   So, since a picture tells a thousand words, I shall let you enjoy the photos (with a few captions here and there of course). And since I couldn't actually post them in order, they are random. (You can probably figure out that the ones with snow in them are from the winter, and the ones without snow are non-winter.. :) )  Enjoy!  Hope I still have some readers out there!

So here's what I've been up to this year:

Celebrated national holidays, like national 'wear a hat day'


Saw lots of cool, beautiful churches in Quebec

Spent a lot of time at the Nordic Baths Spa fifteen minutes from my house (hot pools, cold pools, extremely cold pools, steamroom, sauna, dark room and resting spots- absolutely amazing!)

Experienced some severe cold weather

Visited an ice village and ate at a restaurant made entirely out of ice and snow! Thankfully there was fur on the ice seats to keep you a bit warm!

Stood by this display booth for many hours (in Winnipeg, Toronto and Vancouver)

Got to know and play with this little gaffer

Crossed the new bridge going into Vancouver!

Cheered on my favourite hockey team (the Canucks that is.. no converting to becoming a Canadians fan..)

Enjoyed my first burger from Five Guys

Hung out in Winnipeg with this girl A LOT. In fact, I visited Winnipeg almost as much as I visited BC this past year

Hung out with these two at multiple missionFests 

Enjoyed the snow, hated the snow, played in the snow, watched the snow, waited for the snow to melt

Plugged my car in for the first time (only took me a year to figure out it had a plug in!)

Saw Bonhomme at Carnaval in Quebec City!

Enjoyed waterfalls in all seasons

Took multiple pictures of waterfalls in all seasons

Celebrated 'Read in the bathtub day'

Went to a choir concert in a fabulous church with amazing accoustics

Marveled at icicles

Waited for my windshield to defrost on very cold days

Went on a family holiday to Arizona to escape the winter

Waited for the sap to run which meant spring had come!

Enjoyed all the cool buildings in Quebec

Hung out with my awesome Outreach team, the ABC team (which stands for Awesome British Columbia since we all came from there.. we may have caused some jealousy towards us)

Watched the snow

Celebrated 'burn a snowman day'


Ate paska.

Celebrated Jason and Eleasha's marriage in Winnipeg!

Road trip to Ontario for Easter!

Hung out with this crazy in many different places

Went to MissionFest Toronto with Janaya

Ate the biggest burger ever (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from Burger Priest in Toronto). We shared of course.

Enjoyed Niagara Falls from a new angle

Hung out with this crazy.

Watched the remake of the Titanic, the Canadian version

Went to a giant apple.

Convinced Janaya to let me cut her hair. haha. She should have known better...

Saw Les Miserables

Told people to jump for photos

Celebrated national 'high five day'

Volunteered at a youth drop-in centre

Designed a bunch of shirts and sweatshirts for students

Got to know this cutie-pie

Went to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and waved a white towel fiercely in the air 

Had serious hair envy

Celebrated receptionist's day

Brought 'Love Abbotsford' to Rawdon and had 'Love Rawdon' with the students throughout the year

Went on a few photo scavenger hunts

Ate Costco hot dogs

Got creative with photo taking

Enjoyed cherry blossoms

Dressed up for many school banquet celebrations

Went to a francophone concert, 'Les Cowboys Fringant' (absolutely wonderful)

Read a lot of books

Enjoyed my favourite cemetery

Went to krispy kreme and forced people to wear their awesome hats

Explored St. Joseph's Cathedral

Ate poutine (probably far too much)

Went to my favourite cathedral in Montreal (where Celine Dion got married!)

Enjoyed the random art displays in Montreal

Hung out at the Old Port in Montreal

Swung on swings that make music when you swing

Had the best smoked meat at Schwarts'

Walked down St. Catherine's, which is a pedestrian street in summer

Went on mini weekend relaxing trips

Tried lime with corn on the cob (AMAZING)

Sat on this grass enjoying summer days

Agonized at how much rain Quebec gets when it's not snowing

Posed for photos

Found an old fortune that has become quite true (49 countries and hopefully more to come!)

Enjoyed sunsets

Ate at the first PF Chang's in Canada

Went on random adventures with Laura and enjoyed our friendship

Basked in the majesty of the mountains

Enjoyed more waterfalls

Surprised my mom for her birthday!

Made jam jam cookies

Made babies cry

Ate popcorn at a graduation ceremony

Swam with my nieces and nephew

Celebrated milestones with friends!

Met friends' new babies!

Celebrated Mark and Maia's marriage!

Made rollkuchen

Ate rollkuchen. And watermelon. And farmer sausage.

Celebrated my mom's 60th

Cheered these guys on while they did a triathlon (which has excited me to do one next year!)

Enjoyed visits in the office from this little one

Clung to God's truths

Enjoyed tasty Asian food

Laughed at random roadside decorations on farms in Quebec

Ate the best chocolate dipped cones ever

Went to Quebec City

Free Outdoor Cirque de Soleil show

Was blessed to get to know this family through working together and meals together

Was blessed to be part of this small group and get to know these amazing people

Took some kiddos on lunch and movie dates

Had a farewell poutine party before moving

Went to Talay Thai for the best peanut chicken ever

Signed my final acceptance letter as Bible School registrar

Cried as I drove out of Capernwray's driveway and waved goodbye to dear friends

Played board games

Road tripped

Packed my vehicle really really really full. 

Let these men fix my vehicle when it broke down in Ontario

Went swimming in Lake Superior (brrr!)


Drove through Ontario and Manitoba 

Hung out with friends

Visited Saskatchewan

Storytimes with Aunty

Dance parties in the car

Took a lot of photos of canola fields (because one is never enough)

Was reminded of how awesome the prairies are for photo opportunities

Visited Alberta

 Admired colour contrasts

Got attacked by dinosaurs and lived

Did I mention taking pictures of Canola fields?

Enjoyed visits with friends across Canada




drove across Canada



Re-enacted the battle for Canada on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City

Drove to Ontario to visit family on vacation

Steph and Matthias' wedding!

Defaced some statues in Boston...

Marc and Emily's wedding!

Went to New York and saw Once on Broadway

Becky and Phil's wedding

Another roadtrip to New York!

Saw Newsies (best musical- if you go, see it!!)

Saw Evita and loved Ricky Martin in it

Enjoyed playing with this kid

Went to Disneyland

Visited these precious kids

Random road trip to Vermont and New York state

Visited cemeteries in winter

Enjoyed Christmas holidays with my co-workers

Celebrated my birthday

Marvelled at upside down trees

Cuddled babies

Biggest tandem bike adventure ever

Vancouver Christmas train

Celebrated the new year in style

Toured an ice hotel

Played in the snow

Played human foosball, where you strap yourself in

Went to a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game

Hosted a photography workshop (one in English and one in French!)

More dinosaur attacks

Met amazing ladies at our ladies' retreats

Hosted a french ladies' retreat

Central Park

Bible School registration (our students are pretty young)

Got to know an amazing group of students

Enjoyed Fall colours

Yay for fall!

Conducted a choir

Enjoyed snow

Welcomed my latest niece in to the world

More snow!

Went to a cabane a sucre (sugar shack) to celebrate maple syrup

Met the closest Jesus look-alike

Went to Steinbach.

Congratulations if you made it to the end.

And that friends was a tiny glimpse into the last year.  Here's to more frequent updates!