Monday, December 31, 2012

Love what you do

Saw this quote in Curves this morning, "If you love what you do and believe that it matters; what could be more fun?" I would change the quote a bit and and end it with the phrase, "what could be better?" than fun, because I know that what I do and love is not always fun, but really, I couldn't ask for a better job.

Yep, I love my job. Teaching 5 and 6 year olds is a real joy. Watching their eyes light up when they figure out the number pattern, when they can build a high wall of cardboard bricks, when they tell me they know what letter a word starts with because of the sound it makes, or when they show me a picture they have coloured with their best colouring...there is no greater reward for teaching!

But yes, sometimes my students drive me nutty! Like really, we've gone over the same lesson so many times and they still don't get it? Why don't they get it today when yesterday it wasn't a problem? Or how about the kid who just can't keep her mouth shut at any time...even when she's had innumerable time-outs from our carpet time because of it and always says she knows what to do and will do better. Or the boy that keeps hurting other kids? He's used to wrestling and "fighting" with his large "wrestling-sized" father and doesn't realize that other kids aren't quite as pain tolerant or that fighting is not the way we solve problems in the classroom. Or the boy who is so angry over situations in his life way beyond his control that he takes out the anger in class when he doesn't get his way and beware the adult who is within his kicking range! Or how about the little girl who doesn't have a clue about letters or print because her parents have never read to her? Just breaks my heart.

The Newtown massacre of kindergarten and grade 1 students just before Christmas really hit home for me. That could have been me and my class. In fact, at the beginning of this year, I was given a photo of a dad who has been threatening to come and get his girl from my class, even though he is not to have any contact with his children. I'm supposed to be aware of all strangers in our playground. This man is a police officer, so has access to weaponry that could do a lot of damage. And so, I ask myself, "Would I stand in front of my class and be shot first? Where would I hide the students? Where would we go?" I, along with all other teachers and admin at my school, reviewed our own lock down policies and practices. We talked about these questions. I tried to reassure parents in my class, without drawing undue attention and worry, that I would do my absolute best to keep my students, their children, safe. I do hope I would be a teacher who would lay down my life for my students.

I love my job, but never thought it would be dangerous. I love my job; the rewards are innumerable. I love my job and I'm not about to trade it for anything else.

new year's resolutions

I am so glad there's always a new day, a new week, a new month and most fun...a new year. These are all possibilities to start afresh. Just as God's mercies are new every morning, I think I give myself a break every new day, too. Today will be better; this week I will be good; this month I will be gentle and kind; this year I will be self-disciplined. ;)

So today as I look back, I could get all depressed about how I didn't follow through on everything I'd like to do in my year of living deliberately, but I'd rather look ahead and plan to do better. The biggest challenge is definitely in living a self-disciplined life. It has not been hard to invest in relationships. I'm absolutely loving my job again this year, even with the challenging students I have, and God keeps teaching me in different ways and places...but that part about self-discipline. That one's tough. I'm not doing well. I eat too much of not the greatest stuff (and Christmas is the absolutely worst time of it!), I waste time, I don't stay as active as I'd like, and I don't like what happens as a result. I gain weight, inches and feel unhealthy. Guess there's only one way to change that! And so I start again. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Orthodoxy and/or Orthopraxy?

Words are powerful things. Words can hurt, can heal, can bring laughter, and can bring extreme pain. I have realized this truth more so as I have written in this blog and as I go on with my year of living deliberately it is becoming more and more difficult to write, not easier as I thought it might. I think that words read devoid of the writer's intention of inflection, pauses, etc (ie voice) can mean different things to different people and be interpreted in as many ways as the people reading it. And so I write with trembling the following thoughts.

What is more important: orthodoxy or orthopraxy, that being right beliefs or right practice? This conundrum has come from a few different sources in my life lately. I have heard a few times recently that some people/churches are very concerned about our young adults because they are unable to "articulate the gospel" using the correct terminology. I also have this issue as I watch three of my own children at this stage of life begin to question, challenge and articulate their faith in God using some different words (beliefs?) than I use. I have also had some questions directed to me about some of the things I have said in this blog because of the orthodoxy of some of the writers I have quoted. Words are powerful and I am choosing mine very carefully today.

I heard a good sermon on Sunday on a passage I have heard and read many, many times. It was from Luke 10:25-37; the parable of the Good Samaritan. In summary, an expert in the Jewish law asked Jesus what was required to inherit eternal life. Jesus turned the question back to him and said what does the Law say? And, according to Jesus, the man answered correctly: "Love God and love your neighbour." This man's beliefs were right, according to Jesus...but, Jesus didn't let him stay with his belief. He told him to "DO" this belief to get life. As the saying goes, "therein lies the rub." The expert then asked Jesus, in hopes of getting himself justified, "Who is my neighbour?" Rather than answering the question directly, Jesus tells a parable where a man gets into a bad state and the only person who helps him out is a person that the hearer of this parable, the expert in the law, would have considered as being totally without "right belief." And Jesus turns the original question of "who is my neighbour?" into "who was the neighbour?" Jesus, in essence, told this expert in the law, this man who knew all the right answers, to behave like the despised, mocked, frowned upon Samaritan, because the Samaritan had the right actions.

As I have thought about this during the week, I was also drawn to the parable Jesus told which is recorded in Matthew 21:28-32. This parable talks about two brothers, one who says the right thing, but doesn't do anything about it, and the other brother who says the wrong thing, but who changes his mind and does the right thing. Jesus then tells his listeners, which I think are still the Jewish religious leaders addressed in the earlier verses, that people are entering the kingdom of God who were condemned by the religous, but because they repent (change action) they are getting in ahead of those with the "right" answers.

And then I found myself singing the little song "The wise man built his house upon the rock..." I looked up the passage where that song came from and it's from Luke 6:46-49. Who does Jesus say is wise? The one who does what Jesus said.

Maybe my question isn't the right one. Maybe it's not a case of which is more important, orthopraxy or orthodoxy. I think it's you can't really have one without the other, or at least you can't have orthodoxy without orthopraxy. (Maybe you can have orthopraxy without orthodoxy...hmmm, have to think about that.) The Samaritan did not have the right "belief" according to the religous of the day, but he did the right thing. The one son said he wasn't going to do what his father asked, but then did and he was commended. The one who just spouts off right answers and knows all the orthodox beliefs, but does nothing, will have his house washed away in the flood.

And by the way, the sermon was by my son and I'm so very proud of him and humbled as it made me dig deeper. Thanks Joel!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Miracle

from  Here if you Need Me,  A True Story by Kate Braestrup

From Jesus, ten lepers receive a cure. "And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him."

                        Were not ten made clean? Yes. Ten were made clean.
                         But only one received a miracle.

A miracle is not defined by an event. A miracle is defined by gratitude.


All ten lepers were made clean; all ten went on to live whatever new life was afforded them thereby. We can be confident that all ten suffered other wounds, for life is wounding, and that all ten died, for life is also terminal. All ten have long since gone to dust and story. Sometimes the miracle is a life restored, but the restoration is always temporary. At other times, maybe most of the time, a miracle can only be the resurreciton of love beside the unchanged fact of death.

...As a mother, I pray for miracles of the most ordinary kind on their (my children's) behalf: I want their hearts to keep beating. I want them to live.

But then, a grateful heart beats in a world of miracles. If I could only speak one prayer for you, my children, it would be that your hearts would not only beat but grow ever greater in gratitude, that your lives, however long they prove to be and no matter how they end, continue to bring you miracles in abundance.

This and That

I've been putting off writing because I couldn't pull my thoughts together on any one subject, and so I've decided rather to write a little about a lot of things. Maybe that's just my ADHD showing up (which I've never been diagnosed with, but it works as a reason for my behaviour rather frequently).

1. Life is fleeting and temporal. The day after my last blog entry saw my sister-in-law have her life changed in an instant. She was a pedestrian on her way to work. She ended up in the hospital with numerous life threatening injuries after being hit by a half ton truck. By now, she is on her way to recovery, but it will involve a long process of physio, surgeries, and bedrest. Oh how quickly her life changed, as well as life for her family. Made me stop and think.

2. Hellbound? is a movie that many people have gone to see, but I have not. I can't believe the uproar that it has caused. Do I agree with all the viewpoints presented by the different people who have discussed it? Absolutely not. Do I know with absolute certainty that the viewpoint that I have is the right one? No. But that's okay. I do know who holds my future, and I do know that my job here on earth is NOT to argue about future possible torment, but rather be salt and light towards the love of Jesus for people in the here and now. Come on people, what people believe about what will or will not happen after death will not change what DOES happen after death and Jesus was pretty clear about what his job for us on earth is. Rather ironically, I read this quote today "A factual description of the afterlife is someone no one living is qualified to offer. Yet, the Christian feels compelled to speak of that which is beyond words." (Here if You Need Me, by Kate Braestrup, p. 127)

3. Self-discipline is not my forte. In just about every other area of my goals for this year I am doing okay. However, self-discipline in the area of eating is not working. I am working out regularly, but that's never been an issue for me. I have always liked physical activity, so maybe I have never had to watch what I eat before, but this midlife stage of life is creeping up on me rather fast and some of the side effects have been weight gain. I am trying to gain courage and motivation for this by looking at my friend who is quitting smoking. She is my age and has had struggled with this for many years. She has quit, for up to 12 years only to be hit with the urge too strong to resist one day and started up again. So I am joining her on this self-discipline journey. May we both be successful!

4. Parenting young adults is hard work...or maybe that's exactly my problem. I still think I need to do work to parent them. I want their lives to be free of stress and problems. I want to fix all their issues. I need to cut some apron strings, I think, and give them room to grow. Oh boy...not so easy to do when growth invariably involves pain.

5. I love my church. This week my love stems from the intentional way we are trying to learn from our neighbours. I was going to use the term "reaching out", but that assumes that we are the ones who are in power or in the position of strength. We have a lot to learn from our neighbours. May we be open to it.

6. I love my job. Teaching Kindergarten and Grade 1 students has got to be one of the most rewarding stages of formal education. They are learning so much and are eager to share it with everyone around them. I am so fortunate to have a job like that. I feel sorry for the rest of you!

....I thought there was more, but I've run out of steam. Maybe I'll think of them at 3 a.m. again and write it down on a piece of note paper for next time. Until, love and laugh!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

100 workouts

So I've made it to 100 workouts at Curves. That's quite a few...and yet not very many. It all depends on perspective. And today I had an interesting perspective while working out. Curves is much like "church." Let me tell you a few ways I felt that way today.

You are welcomed by name when you walk in.
You are welcomed as you are....fat, skinny, fit, flabby, tired, energetic...
There's music playing...always... sometimes even songs I sing on Sunday (just at 3 times the tempo to keep you working hard!)
Everyone's welcome to just do the circuit, but there's more if you want. There's more workout options (eliptical, treadmill), a tanning bed, vibration machines, etc.
You can delve deeper into the Curves "philosophy" if you want and do the diet, the workout regiment, mentoring, weight loss and measurement protocol....but only if you want to. I am never pushed to do it.

I find Curves a safe place to be, but also one that challenges me to do better because I am trying to do more than just work out. I want to be fit and healthy. That means that sometimes Curves is a bit awkward for me, as I have to weigh in and get measured regularly and those numbers don't lie.

Can you see the comparisons to church? Is church like that for you, too?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Power of Words

A very sad story is in the news today. A young girl from the lower mainland has committed suicide, shortly after making a you tube video about the bullying abuse she had suffered over the past few years. The bullying, although it did include some physical altercations, was mainly through the power of words, especially using social media.

Unfortunately, many of the comments following the video continue the abusive tone and I can see why she figured life just wasn't worth it anymore, if even the video she made to help others like herself was used as a catalyst for further mockery.

The you tube video is well worth watching. Here's the link:

This makes me stop and think. How do I use words? Do the people around me (my husband, my children, my students, the cashier) find my words uplifting or destructive? Do I give hope and joy to others or do I cut them down. I do have a sharp, satirical wit at times; could it be construed as hurtful?

My deliberate living will have to include careful speech. "May the words of my acceptable in your sight, oh God."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Why Church?

After writing my last entry, I thought people might wonder if I thought church was important, seeing as Aunt Sue is a great inspiration to me, but has never had any use for church. So, just to set the record straight, here's a list of why I think church is VERY important and why I can't imagine life without it. I do think people miss out who think they can do without church. Church is made up of very imperfect, hypocritical people, but as my devotional reading this morning said, "The imperfections and frailties of human beings...who preach and teach are not shortcomings to be deplored; they are protection from yet another distraction to worshiping and serving God himself. There was saying in the early church that the best bishop was a bad bishop--that way, there was no danger of substituting him for the living God." (Eugene Peterson)

It's easy for me to write this today, as we just had a great weekend going away with our church to a camp where meals were made for us, dishes done for us, and we had no pressure to get anything done. I, however, had already started this list last week, so it's not just because I have "warm-fuzzies" about my church that I am putting my thoughts down in this blog now.

I really don't know why, but I started to think about things that start with the letter "C" that make church vital for me. They are below in no particular order.

Church is important because:
           - it reminds me that I must have Compassion for people across the street and around the world.
           - it is the body of Christ in flesh, right here, right now
           - this body Cares for me and my family
           - it Centres me, gives me time to focus, to breathe, to reflect
           - it is used by God to Correct me when I'm wrong
           - we have Communion together, remembering the life and sacrifice of our Saviour
           - it gives me Contact and Conversation with others different from myself
           - it is a Community to help raise our children (it takes a village)
           - it Challenges me to live out my Christian faith every day, not just Sunday
           - it provides many instances of Comic release...we laugh at ourselves.
           - and, as my son said as he saw me making this list, ... we get to go to Camp!

And that is my incomplete list. What would you add?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When I'm 90!

I have been blessed with some older saints in my life. Two of them have challenged and inspired me lately.

First of all, one gentleman, age 90, in our church changed his photo directory page. He had recently been widowed and his picture was from 10 years ago, so it was time. Every person/family who has a picture in our photo directory also puts personal information on their page, such as children, education, occupation, and hobbies and interests. His information included the following interests:
family, cooking, reading, questioning, discovering, day-dreaming, at 90 I am discarding outdated answers. Read it again. Isn't that a wonderful list? What really got my attention was the last phrase. He is learning to discard outdated answers. This gentleman is still learning and discerning and changing! I want to be like that. 
The second senior that has inspired me is my great Aunt Sue, aged 93. I'm starting to make a habit of calling and visiting her regularly. I knew this year of working part-time was for a reason, and she might just be it. She's already looking forward to our visit next week Thursday. Aunt Sue, and her late husband Phil, have had an interesting life. From eloping in the prairies of Manitoba to making a business and life out here in the Fraser Valley, they have blazed their own trail. They did not follow the typical conventions of the day, much to the dismay of their families. I heard vague, concerned comments about them. Were they even Christian? I don't think they ever went to church. I visited them once as a young adult, when my Bible School choir was here and I arranged to go to their home overnight...but they didn't come to my performance. They just didn't do church!
When we moved to the valley 12 years ago, I visited them sporadically. My parents always went to see them when they came to visit us, and I'd usually tag along. They really enjoyed it when I brought my little baby along (he's 11 now!). Uncle Phil is gone now, and Aunt Sue only has 1 daughter, so she's lonely. Her daughter has done an amazing job of looking after her mom, but I'm sure it must be exhausting. And so, at the beginning of this year of living deliberately, I determined that maybe I could be like a surrogate daughter...someone who calls, visits and brings some soup. Seeing as I am also not able to do this with my own parents at this point, it also appeases some of my own guilt!
So today was one of my visits with her. She has had a health scare just a few weeks ago that they have determined was a "mini-stroke." But she is still independent, walking around and talking a blue streak. She just complains of dizziness. As we talked today, she was full of stories of her childhood, her brothers and sister (my grandmother), of growing up with my dad (who was only a few years younger than she), and of losing her mother when she was 12. It was also interesting to hear her talk of heaven, of the comfort she finds in God's word, and of the prayers she is uttering. She has faith. God is holding her close to his heart, of that I have no doubt.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I love Sundays. I love going to church, although I must confess it is usually for the socializing. Today I got more out of church than meeting my friends. First of all, I needed to attend the "child safe" workshop, which is an annual course that everyone who works with underage children in our church needs to take. It is an unsettling hour every year, as you talk about preventing and recognizing child abuse. However, we followed this class with the worship service where we had communion that included everyone. I found it particularly meaningful to have communion around a table surrounded by families. I was sharing the Lord's Supper with the very children I had just promised to keep safe. What a holy time. Church is about inclusion...everyone is invited to the table. To stand there, offering grapes and pretzels to the children, my own included, was a great privilege.

Also during the worship service, an opportunity was given to a young couple from our church who have very deliberately chosen to live in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. They are befriending the people that live there, hoping to share the love of Jesus with the very real people that are there. As Jordan shared stories with us, I was struck by the way he introduced us to his friends, with real names and stories. May I be just as careful to realize that the people I meet on the street or in the store or at church are real people who need the love of Jesus just as much as I do. Check out Jordan and Carlye's blogs at and .

Every Sunday afternoon, my husband and I both very deliberately call our parents. It is a time to connect with them. Both sets of parents have often said how they look forward to our calls. I know that now as my children are starting to leave the nest, I look forward to hearing from them, as well. We often cover the same ground in our conversations, but every call is a blessing to me. Our parents still love us, worry about us, and are so interested in our lives. They ask about each of the children. We know it is a great privilege to still have both of our parents and we are grateful for their longevity!

A climax of the day came when we met with our church care group in the evening for a potluck supper. We all come bearing some kind of food that we share with everyone. We are a very diverse group around the table, from young children to almost seniors. We are calling ourselves the "Group in the Middle," as we don't belong with young adults anymore and don't want to admit that some of us could attend the seniors' group. (Can you believe they used to call the seniors' group in our church 50+? I am so glad my late friend Hildegard insisted that the name change when she turned 50.) I love our care group. We don't plan anything specific, but instead take the time to really talk with each other. As we went home after the evening, my husband and I compared conversations we had each had. We were both able to talk with folks on a deeper level than just Sunday morning greetings and also with people we don't always get to talk with on a Sunday morning.

So all in all, a great day! Oh, and my flowers are still blooming, my mini-tomatoes are ripening faster than I can eat and the sun was shining.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Living Deliberately on days off

This has been the first full week back into routines for all of us. On one hand it feels good to be back into a rhythm, but on the other, I'm not sure what this rhythm really is. I'm not used to working part-time, but as that is the only job I got this year, I am thankful. There are many teachers who are completely unemployed this year, so I've got it good.

I used to be a stay-at-home mom, and for many, many years I worked on-call, so I'm not sure why this switch back into part-time work is feeling difficult for me. I have only worked full-time for the past 2 years, but I loved it and now I'm feeling a bit adrift.

So, I need to think about being very deliberate with the days I am not at work. I used to be able to fill my days easily with baking, cleaning, and reading. Will I find value in those again? Now that I've learned how to survive without having a perfectly clean house, I'm not sure I can motivate myself to do it that way again. I did have momentary joy this week with doing some canning and I baked cookies, cleaned up, and read. Gareth brought his class over one day for lunch, and so I busied myself in getting ready for that, but that's a once a semester thing. I now need to think about what I want to accomplish these days at home.

Some ideas I have include calling my great aunt once a week. She's lonely and would appreciate a call or a visit. I will definitely work out both days. I do need to do some house cleaning jobs that have been neglected for two years (ie cleaning out closets, etc). I have started some massage therapy in the hopes that I can push back my hip replacement surgery a few more years. I'd also like to be more deliberate about making meals on the days I'm home. When you work full time, it is impossible to have meals that take time to prepare and now I should be able to do that.  Okay...maybe it won't be that hard to fill up the days. :) And maybe I should deliberately blog on one of the days I'm home.

And now on to the weekend: soccer, working out, cleaning house, Skype date with my daughter and a date with my hubby tomorrow; church and relaxing on Sunday. Monday will be my first attempt at living deliberately on a day "off." Let's see how I do.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First day of School

I feel like I've been hit with a truck. I thought I was ready. I had my papers, my speeches, my name tags, everything ready, but then the kids came in and I thought "What do I do now?" It felt like it took me a few minutes to get everything back in focus and then I was okay. At least I hope I didn't sound too much like an imbecile to the parents who were in there to watch their baby start their first day of either grade 1 or Kindergarten. But little things kept surprising fast my first speech went. I thought for sure it was 10 minutes, but it was only 5. I had a birthday boy in my room today, so I quickly had to find the birthday hat, birthday sticker and have everyone sing the birthday song. The K students just wanted to talk and play and didn't know, or didn't want to, sit and do things together. I had forgotten how the K's are at the beginning of the year. Sure I had K's last year, but my latest memory was of them in June, ready for Grade 1. These are beginners again...I need to remember!
I had forgotten how much energy it took to be a new teacher in a new school with a new class. And I had forgotten how fast time goes...before I knew it, it was time to send the little gaffers home.Whew! Felt like a whole day, but it was only half. What will it be like tomorrow??
And yet the toughest half was yet to come. Because of the number crunch, our classes are all basically filled to capacity. There are not enough funds to have more teachers in the district. Our principal put it this way. We have about 25 more students in our school, but we've lost a teacher. Those 25 new students, plus the 25 or so that were in that teacher's class all have to be absorbed by the teachers left in the school. So today, after we had seen the "whites of their eyes", we knew we had to do some switching. The K's were too full, the upper intermediate classes had some room, and so we had to iron out the wrinkle from the K classes up. We took the last hour of a 3 hour staff meeting to figure this all out. I took in 4 new students, and pushed 7 out, with up to 4 more K's coming in as our school starts to accept cross-boundary requests. It's absolutely crazy.
And then after the dust sort of settled, my teaching partner and I tried to reconfigure the classroom. Out goes most of the grade 1 desks, in comes some more K tables. We needed 6 more chairs. We had to make name tags for the cloak room, the welcome poster, the table spots, etc. I finally left around 4 and realized when I got home that our son needed to eat within the hour and be out the door shortly after for soccer practice. What to make?? We didn't have pasta sauce, we had just had rice, we had no potatoes in the house, ... oh, I know, I'll make pancakes. A special meal for the first day of school. Oh..we don't have mix. No problem, I can make it from scratch. What??? We have NO milk and NO milk powder! So much for that. Hope the eggs and mix will stay till tomorrow. So it was toast, beans, salad and whatever else people could find.
And now I just needed to write that all down before I could let it go. I am excited for this school year. After the craziness of this week, I am sure the class, and me, will be able to settle down and enjoy our year together. And with K being the majority this year, play will be easier to do! And now I'm going to work out. I need to!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1

I love the first of every month. I almost feel like I do at New Year's. It's a new start. The calendar isn't full yet (although this month does have more on it than last!) and the page isn't ripped at the top where it hangs from the nail. I also feel like the start of every month is another chance for me to meet my goals. I get re-energized and motivated. It doesn't matter how I did last month, this is a new chance for me to try again. I guess that's the optimist in me.

So today I start again. I have made progress in the past month, but there is more to do. I cleaned house, got caught up in the accounting, worked out, played on the trampoline with Micah, and spent time playing a new game with the family (ever heard of Quelph? it's a good one!).

My job starts on Tuesday. I look forward to welcoming new students. I want to be a better teacher this year, so I've done some professional reading on the importance of play for everyone, and especially for young students. Did you know that big techie companies want to know whether their employee applicants played as a child and what they played? Children who have a lot of play experience are better problem solvers and socially equipped. Studies of many people in prison have shown a common lack of playtime in their childhood. So, rather than just push a bunch of "learning outcomes" down my students' throats, I need to let them play, explore and interact with each other. That will be a challenge for me. I'm goal oriented, as you havc probably noticed, so to let the control go of what is to happen in my class is intimidating. I'll try, though! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Conversation on a Plane

If you read my last blog, you know that I was recently visiting family in the big city of Toronto. To get there, I had to take two flights. My first flight was only an hour long, but it was noteworthy. I usually just pull out a book or put on my headphones and see what's playing on the TV, but I felt obligated to start a conversation with my seatmate. So I started with a simple question: "Are you going home or going to visit?" And then she started to talk. She was going home, but really, she was just going to visit. Well, really she was going there to pick up her kids cause she had just moved to the valley and they were coming to live with her...well, really, they were her grandkids because her daughter had died. Well, really her two daughters had both died and now she was just left with one son and his family. He lived in her old home community and she was looking forward to seeing him and her grandbabies.  She showed me pictures. She talked. It was quite the story and so sad, and yet, she herself wasn't sad. She had hope in the future. She had a good new marriage. She loved her grandchildren and could hardly wait to bring them home with her. She was looking forward to registering them in school and finding a new community and joining some pow wows. Before I knew it, the hour was done and she was getting off to get a different connecting flight. I gave her my phone number, saying that I knew how hard it could be to be in a new community and I had really enjoyed connecting with her and wished her well. I don't know if she will ever contact me; I doubt I would if I were her, but even the possibility would help me to not feel completely alone in a new community. So that was my experiment in being deliberate about relationships on a day when I thought I would be travelling "alone."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sisters and Marriage

I just came back from a delightful weekend with my two sisters and my parents. We were all in Toronto to celebrate my youngest sister's marriage earlier this year to a fine fellow. It was interesting to be celebrating the beginning of marriage with her while staying in a hotel room with my other sister, a relatively recent widow. One at the beginning of matrimony, the other's has ended. So we laughed and we cried. It's interesting what marriage does to a are no longer a single entity. You become one with another and things change. People change. And now the older sister is trying to begin a new life without the love of her life and we watch with joy and laughter as the younger sister who has been single for many years learns to share her life. We also watch with amazement, wonder and great thankfulness our parents who have been married 63 years! Imagine, 63 years with the same person! 63 years of deliberately being kind to the same person. 63 years of experiencing life together. My older sister thought that that's what would happen to her. But instead, her husband was taken at age 63. To end my weekend in the big city, we went to see the movie Hope Springs, a fun, explicit movie about marriage. I was glad to hurry home to my hubby after seeing that. And I am thankful that I have a good marriage, my younger sister has started a happy marriage, and I am also thankful that my older sister had a good marriage that we now mourn the end of. And all 3 of us girls look at our parents and are thankful for the model they provide.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16

I can't believe it's been 9 days since I last posted. I think it's because I didn't want to write about living deliberately because it hasn't been very successful for the past week or so. I haven't been careful in my eating, computer time or done anything greatly inspiring. I shouldn't be surprised. I have always been more motivated by extrinsic deadlines and expectations than intrinsic. But here's a brief summary of the ups and downs..

Let's start with the downers: Computer games are a great time-waster. I can sit here for hours and not think, but feel successful because I win -- a lot! But how stupid! It hasn't done anything for anyone, other than giving me eye strain.
I've eaten whatever I want, whenever I want. Granted, we don't buy junk food regularly and just because we bought some to have while camping I shouldn't feel too bad. But it was much too easy to slip into the habit of eating poorly. I've also eaten copious amounts of blueberries....maybe to overcompensate for the junk?

Good things: Gareth and I have now been married for 27 years! We are happily married and work hard at our relationship. We have had numerous conversations lately about how we want to maintain and grow our relationship. As we watch dumbfounded as friends' marriages crumble around us, we are more determined than ever to keep ours up. We are also trying to reach out to others and build a community of people to keep each other accountable.

This year we spent our anniversary attending the Creative World Festival in Mission. What a great way to challenge us in our faith and relationships. We listened to great speakers and musicians. We had stimulating conversations with people intent on living out their faith in tangible ways. It was intimidating, and as we look at possible repercussions of following through, it can be frightening. And yet, Christ did not call us to a live of ease in suburbia, but rather we are called to a life of radical submission to him and in service to those marginalized in society. On one hand, I wish I had taken notes as Peter Rollins, Joyce Rees, Joel McKerrow, Derek Webb and others spoke about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. And yet, if I had taken notes, I would have missed what they said in the next sentence. Each one of those speakers did not say "This is the way, walk ye in it." Instead, they all shared their experiences and ideas about what it has meant to them to pursue living a Jesus-filled life. In fact, Pete was adamant that we not take his word for it and instead examine our own beliefs. He said he sometimes realizes after he has said something that really, he didn't believe that either! (ie...don't take him or yourself too seriously!)  I look forward to reading and exploring further. I do hope to share some of those explorations in this blog at a further date.

Another good thing has been deliberately encouraging Micah with his friendships. He's had two significant Christian friends this past year and both of them won't be with him in Grade 6. One is moving to Calgary; the other just going to another school in town. Micah asked whether we would be willing to take them camping with us, and so we did. What a great time we had! They had fun and we had fun. I don't know if their parents would ever allow them to come again as we let them do some adventerous things, but hey, no one ended up in hospital! And now they have some bragging rights. :) They have all experienced the "BC Moment" on the Rolley Lake waterfall trail. Don't know what I'm referring to? Guess you'll have to do the trail yourself to find out (or check out my facebook page, I do hope to post pictures!) The boys had so much fun, they continued the campout even after we came home and spent another night together. We will definitely encourage these friendships in the future, and also pray that Micah will again find friends at school that can fill this void now there.

Another good thing is that I will see my daughter on Tuesday! She has been gone since July 3rd and it has been a struggle for me to watch her struggle with her camp ministry this summer. We have skyped a few times, talked on the phone and e-mailed back and forth, but what we both need is a long hug together. And so, on Tuesday in the Calgary airport as I will be flying back from Toronto and she will be flying back from Wpg, we meet in Calgary and will hug and then fly home together from there. :)

Well, that's enough for today. Thanks for listening...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I thought it would be easier...

Honestly, I knew it would be hard, but I thought it would be easier than this. It is SO easy just to slip back into old habits...wasting time, being unmotivated and all that. I even thought watching the Olympics would help with motivation, but I guess I've finally realized that I will never be an Olympic athlete, so I shouldn't even bother trying. (For the longest time I wanted to be an Olympian... gymnastics first, then trampolining when that came out!)

The other day I said to Gareth that I would be ready to get back to work. I think I need the routine and to be busy. That helps with not wasting don't have time to waste! But this year I won't be working full-time, at least not at first. (I guess it's bad to hope the other teacher goes back on complete stress leave, huh?) So how will I spend the 1 or 2 days of not working? I used to do that all the time and loved it. I cleaned house, I visited, I read, I cooked, I volunteered....but somehow with working full-time the last few years, those things have sort of disappeared. I want to get them back.

What motivates you? How do you stick with a plan?

Today my plan is to go work out, and then I have some cleaning jobs I want to do: cleaning the screen doors, taking care of the receipts, bills, and bank statements that sort of pile up after I do the accounting (somehow they just never end up filed!) and then I should call my great Aunt. She's lonely and reprimanded me rather severely last time I saw her about not calling enough. I also have a great new book to read (at least I'm hoping it's great...I haven't read it yet!).

Have a good day...look forward...stay strong!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A few days in...

I'm discovering it's not so easy to just put aside old habits and take up new ones. I had hoped it would be, but knew inside that it wouldn't be. Shucks!

Good things: I deliberately drove by Starbucks without stopping for my new favourite drink (double chocolately chip frappe) yesterday as it was just before supper time and I shouldn't spoil my appetite! (Remember telling that line to your kids??)
I came home from working out today and saw Micah on the computer. Rather than just going up for a shower, I instead asked him if he wanted to play a game of badminton out on our lawn. He did! And my workout continued for another hour, including both on court play and off court searching for the birdie in the fauna and flora that surrounds our lawn.
I have gone to work out every day so far! I wish it would result in some pounds or inches lost...but I guess I need to combine that with discipline in the eating area...
I've started making a list of jobs to do. On there go the things I should do, but I only think of them when I can't do them. Like, looking at the light fixture during dinner and realizing it really needs to be cleaned. So I put it on my list and now I'm trying to refer to that list during the day.

Not so good: I still find it too easy to spend time in front of the computer screen. I love playing computer games (good thing we don't have a game system in the house!), and can easily spend an hour playing a mindless solitaire game of some sort. I can also spend lots of time checking facebook, email, and all the other blogs I'm following....All of these can be good things, but done so frequently, it has become a simple time waster.

So that's my report in for August 1. :) Thanks for coming along and encouraging me in this journey.

Monday, July 30, 2012

A day for relationships

I survived the birthday, but now have a headache. I think it's from chocolate overkill. My new lovely daughter-in-law has figured out the quickest way to my heart---buy me chocolate! We enjoyed them all afternoon! (How I wish my students would figure it out and give me chocolates instead of a variety of other non-consumables...)

It was a great day because it was all spent with family! My 20 year old (Adriel) made an effort to get up to go to church with us in the morning. He usually has to work on Sunday mornings, but whether he asked for the morning off just to please his mom or his schedule just worked that way, it was special to me. (He did have to work the rest of the day.) Then my oldest (Joel) with his new bride (Breanne) came over for lunch, and despite having other plans for the rest of the day, they instead hung out with us into the evening. How special to be able to sit around the table and discuss serious topics and also laugh with them. It was fun looking at their wedding photos. What a beautiful reminder of a very special day just a few weeks ago. Our youngest (Micah) hung out with us all day and didn't even ask once to call a friend to play. That, if you know him, is quite unusual as he is our very social child. We even got to sit and watch a movie with him in the evening. Our dear daughter (Sarina) skyped us from Manitoba where she is working at a remote children's camp for the summer. I sure miss her! (It's only 22 days until I get to see her again.)

So, yesterday was a day devoted to family relationships. I am so very thankful that I can have good relationships with all my children. What a gift!

I am also so very thankful to have a fabulous husband (Gareth). He is so good to me, for me and with me! We had a mini-honeymoon this past week and as we talked, biked, read, and just were together for those few days, I realize what a gift I have in my relationship with him. We have come a long way in the last 27 years and I look forward to at least another 27 with him. My parents just celebrated their I'm aiming for that!

I also received about 50 faceboook birthday messages. It makes a person feel good to have so many people recognize you, even if it only took them 5 seconds. A few e-mails came my way, too, some with e-cards. All took some time and I appreciate every one of them.

I received some very special phone calls. My mother and my mother-in-law are both very special people and I am so very thankful for them.

Wow...this is starting off very positive. May the rest of my year of being 49 be as good!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I turn 49 tomorrow!
How do I want to live my last year of the first half of my century long life? I think I'm going through a bit of a mid-life crisis as I think about this and think that I need to make some choices and changes in my life so that I can get through the second 50 years of my life. As I have been thinking about this and talking it over with my husband, who is already well into his 50's (well, 51 anyways!), I have narrowed it down to some choice words -- LIVING DELIBERATELY.

I actually journalled a bit while camping these last few days and here are some of those thoughts. Living deliberately will mean making choices according to my goals. I will need to make decisions, have discipline and practice being aware. My goals centre around 4 areas of my life at this point. I may add more if they come to me through this time.

First, I have some personal goals. These relate to my physical well-being and health. I want to make healthy choices. I want to be able to quit taking high blood pressure medication. I want to lose some weight and I want to be fit again.

Secondly, I have relational goals. I am a wife and mother and these are two of the most important self-definitions I can think of. How can I be a better wife? A better mother?
But I don't only relate to the people in my home...I also have friends, co-workers, neighbours, fellow church people, my students, others I meet shopping or walking....
So what is my goal relationally? To see the best in people and to build the people up that I meet, wherever that might be.

Next, I have spiritual goals. I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember and it has made an indelible mark on my life. I live differently because of it. But, I don't pursue it like I should. What does having a relationship with Jesus mean in my day to day life? I'm about to question, discover, and try to live always knowing that God is here with me, now...every day and in every thing!

Finally, I'd like to live deliberately in my vocation. I LOVE being a teacher and I want to be the best teacher I can possibly be. Teaching is tough in some ways, and delightful in others. What are some ways that I can improve professionally? I have some books to read, courses and seminars to attend, and of course, a wealth of information and help in my colleagues every day. I want to be a better teacher this coming year.

So there are the four areas I want to grow in this last year of my 40's. To keep myself accountable, I will try to record things that I experience. Come along for the ride, if you dare!