Monday, August 19, 2013

My year is done, so now what?

My year is done. I have been 50 for 3 weeks.

I had a great birthday. I celebrated with a dinner out with friends. My kids presented me with a beautiful mother's pride ring. The kids also gave me a list of 50 things they appreciate about me.  But on the actual birth DAY, my husband, youngest son and myself were on a holiday in the States. We explored sand dunes, waterfalls and headed to Yellowstone Park. It was a lot of fun.

Now that I am 50, I feel like I am officially in the second half of my life. I have already made one life altering decision. I am going to have hip surgery this year. I have a date to meet my surgeon next month. This scares me, but as I spent this summer in a fair amount of constant pain and usually used a cane to assist me with my walking, I knew it was time.

I will continue to work hard at being a good mother. It's been a struggle lately, as I cut apron strings for 3 of them, but still mother a preteen. Sometimes I feel like I am cutting the wrong child's string, but am hanging on tighter than ever to the older children. This is a fine balance I am trying to maneuver. Fortunately my children love me and have a good sense of humour and a high level of tolerance.

I am still trying to work on my diet to help with weight and general well being. Cutting out sugar was working well until we left on holidays. I am crawling back up onto the wagon. 

I work out regularly, refusing to let the subsequent pain deter me from what I know is good for me.

I will continue to be actively involved in my church, knowing that a community of faith is vital to spiritual well being of an individual.  We heard a good line in a song the other day about it being impossible to love God without loving The Church.

I can hardly wait to begin my new job as a Kindergarten teacher in a traditional model school. I don't know how I will deal with just K's or with the traditional model, but I'm up for the challenge.

I continue to love my husband from the bottom of my heart. He is my support, cheerleader, butt kicker and best friend. I pray that I can be that for him, too.

I will continue to live deliberately. I will take care of myself physically, spiritually and emotionally. I don't know how much I will write here. I had hoped that blogging would be for me. I live with a family of wordsmiths. Surely, my children got some of that from my latent ability, but alas, no. It must all stem from their father. I will write as the spirit moves, but not force myself to. As those of you who know me personally can attest to, I love to talk and will gladly talk face to face or on the phone with anyone.

So thanks for coming on this journey with me. I bid you adieu.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What I like about Europe...what I miss about home

This is a very incomplete list of things I really appreciate about Europe so far as I have experienced it over the past week:
    1. Europeans don't just destroy something when it needs to be replaced...they restore it instead.
    2. The majority of cars we have seen are small. Mind you, there are some very expensive ones, too, but we have yet to see a Hummer, large pick up truck or old Cadillac.
     3. Europeans, especially in Amsterdam, use bikes a lot, and I mean, A LOT! Amsterdam was overwhelmingly so, and as we left that flat land, we saw a lot less, but still more than in our suburban neighbourhood.
    4. The flowers are everywhere! Window boxes, yards, lane ways, etc are all decorated with flowers. In fact, it is so common, that to see a house without flowers is the oddity. I love this about Europe
    5. Cobblestone streets. I love how they look, I love how they are kept in good condition, and I love the sound car tires make on them.
     6. The food....chocolate, cheese, bread, potatoes...all things I should eat less of and all things that are so good.
     7. Church bells. I could get used to living in a town where the church bells are heard constantly.

What do I miss?
1. Face cloths! How do they wash their face without a cloth?
2. Ice water. When asked, a waiter brought ice water to the table: 2 little cubes in a glass of lukewarm water....the ice didn't last and it sure didn't cool down the water as cold as I like.
3. Recycling. I was very surprised by this lack. I have seen very few places to put paper, cans, glass, etc. When asked, they just tell us to throw it in the garbage.
4. My queen size bed, rather than two twins side by side. It has been too hot to snuggle, but still, two beds side by side just doesn't cut it.
5. Free public toilets. We feel like a basic human right has been taken from us when we have to pay anywhere between 50 cents and 2 € for the privilege of relieving ourselves.
5. Air conditioning. It was been very warm since we have arrived, but the only place we have air conditioned comfort is in the bus. Not a restaurant or hotel room has had it.
6. Smoke free environments. There seem to be more cigarette smokers here and they are allowed in all outdoor places, including restaurant patios, etc.

Now, I only have 1 week's experience in this fair continent and so can only consider these lists first  impressions. I will probably be able to add to both lists after another week, so stay tuned!

July 9

Gareth and I were the "scribes for the day" for our group journal. This is what we came up with.

Tuesday, July 9
It’s difficult to reflect on a day when we both took some leadership. A leader’s experience is very different because we’re often distracted by details of preparation. Although I really enjoyed today, the rest of the group may have experienced things differently.
The day began with Cyndy’s meditation on 1 John 1:1-4 focusing on our witness of God’s work in our lives and in the places and events that took place in our forefathers’ lives.
Our first activity was a wagon ride from the village up to the place near where the Schleitheim confession was formulated. Some hardy souls in our group chose to walk up the hill imagining the path of those who first walked to this momentous meeting. At the top, Wilmer interpreted the monument placed there by the Reformed church of the area as an act of repentance for their part in the persection of the 16th century reformers. I found it moving that they would do this act of generosity and good will. An interesting discussion ensued about some of the divisions still present among Christians from different traditions, as well as within a local congregation. As we climbed off the wagon at the bottom of the hill, our host farmer was presented with a tip and Glenn’s hat with which we had collected it. The farmer seemed genuinely moved by this token.
The rural theme continued on the bus with farm humour, arguments over crops and Gareth’s story of the Hottinger clan. This conversation ended with our arrival at a beautiful stop for lunch. Reinfalls was a refreshing break from Anabaptist stories and farm themes.
After lunch we continued on our journey. Many of us had a short siesta. We were privileged to be able to share a bit of our faith journey with the group, as well, during our ride. We then also heard the story of Milchsuppe and stopped to hike up the spot where the potluck of soup and bread was shared as a peace treaty between warring Protestant and Catholic cantons.
We made a brief stop at Einsiedeln Monastary and Cathedral. Responses to this decorative cathedral ranged from “gorgeous,” to “gaudy!” This was in sharp contrast to our next destination: the Baretswil cave. The Anabaptists had difficulty because they needed to meet in secret. We had difficulty in getting so this spot as it was a fairly strenuous hike. It was a privilege for me to lead our group in a unique communion service at this spot. On the way home we heard about God’s guidance in the lives of Ron and Linda Penner.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Days 3 and 4 random thoughts

We've had two more very full days and as I sit here in my hotel bed and wish I could sleep, I'll write some more random thoughts.

Jet lag sucks! I was so tired today that every time we got into the bus to travel to the next place, I wanted to sleep. I did give in a few times, too, which is probably why I can't sleep now, even though its almost midnight.

There are some people who are very good at being hosts. We were fortunate to have two of them host us for the evening and night yesterday. The couple we stayed with were wonderful. They engaged us in conversation, they were proud to show us their gardens and farm and they left a light on in the hall overnight so I wouldn't trip going down the narrow, curved stairs to the bathroom at night. Oh, and the chocolate and freshly cut roses in the room helped, too! We talked about farming in Canada and in Holland, we talked about raising children, their granddaughter, faith, men's spirituality, education, and more. What a gift it has been for us to now say we have friends in Friesland!

There are so many bikes! This is especially true in Amsterdam. The bikes lined every street and seemed to rule the road. No one wears helmets and yet they darted in and out of traffic even while texting on their phones. While in Friesland, we met a couple who were spending 3 weeks of their summer biking throughout the country. They were from the US and surprise, surprise someone in our group from Illinois knew them. Small world!

It's amazing to think of the connection I have in faith to people, situations and places from long, long ago. How would my faith be different if people hadn't taken the stands they did way back then? Would I have had the courage to keep preaching if there was a price on my head? Or would I have let my husband keep on if he was the one under an arrest warrant for being against the government/church?

I have been using a cane to walk. My hip has consistently been degenerating lately and just before we left on this holiday I was so sore from a long walk that I could barely move. I think it's time to book surgery. The cane is helping a lot and I have very little pain. But I hate being an invalid and looking old. Guess that comes with being almost 50! Blech!

Okay, it's after midnight here and despite the party outside our window and in the adjoining room, I think I should try to sleep. Have a good one.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 1 and 2

Some random thoughts about our last day, or is it two days?

Hurry up and wait! Okay, when you travel by air, you need to be at the airport in plenty of time. So we were. And then the flight was about an hour late...

Airplane food really is not good, although they try. In many ways, it reminds me of hospital food. Trays of warmed up food, some of which is identifiable, some not.

It was impossible to get comfortable enough to sleep during the 9 hour flight. I may have dozed, but crying babies, people talking, constant aisle traffic and the time change were all working against me. On the upside, I actually watched a couple of movies; on the downside, they weren't very good. The selection was not great.

It was weird hearing German being spoken as the first language. I didn't mind, though and tried to figure out what they were saying, which was usually confirmed or corrected for me in the next announcement which was in English. I was very impressed with our flight attendants who switched between the two languages with great ease.

Frankfurt airport is huge, but it seemed illogical. We arrived at one wing and then had to make our way, our very long way, by foot, train and moving sidewalks to our other gate. On the way we went through security and customs again. It probably took us an hour to make it to the other gate, which was in good time for our connecting flight. As we went down the hallway expecting to be boarded onto the plane, we actually had to get on a bus, which in our mixed up, sleep-deprived brains, seemed to bring us back, after a 10 minute ride, to the area where we debarked from our first flight. Weird.

While we were in Frankfurt we met some more of our group who had come in on different flights. One couple almost didn't make it, and if it weren't for us saying we were expecting them and being very reluctant to begin boarding, we may very well have left them behind. What a relief it was to see then running down the moving sidewalk towards us. We were the last ones on the bus to go to our plane.

First impressions of Amsterday: it's wet and grey, something we are very used to on the west coast, but now that we were leaving sunshine and record warmth in BC, disappointing. But not a big deal. Amsterdam is flat and green, reminding me of southern Manitoba where I grew up. The lucious grain fields were a welcome sight for this prairie girl. What is different from the prairies is the presence of canals everywhere that are filled with water. A number of times it was obvious how land is below the sea level. Our first stop was at a restored historical village, complete with windmills and wooden shoes. It was informative and beautiful. The wet sea air is refreshing.

We are traveling in a large tour bus and all wear name tags. So now we are one of them that we can spot a mile away when we are at home. The restaurant where we ate last night was very gracious in accommodating us. The hotel complex is attached to a bird sanctuary, so if the jetlag hadn't woken me up early this morning, the birds definitely would have. I want to wander in the park a little more this morning, as I forgot to take pictures last night. It's beautiful.

Okay, time to shower away the jetlagged feeling. Have a good day!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Only one month left...

I am getting very close to the end of my year long journey. I have discovered a few things about myself, or maybe I should more correctly say that I have confirmed some things about myself that I already knew.

One, I don't like writing. I find this tedious, vulnerable, and confirms that I feel like I don't really have anything to say of value. I love reading what others say though, and have a long list of blogs I read.

Two, I find living a disciplined life difficult. I can always make excuses for my choices, such as eating a little extra (had an extra hard workout this morning), cleaning my house (the mess will still be there tomorrow), not calling my Aunt (have nothing new to say and she won't have anything new to say either!) and writing on my blog (again, nothing to say).

I don't like feeling like a failure. Every time I convince myself to write, I feel like I'm just exposing how lousy I am at what I'm trying to do. So today, as I re-read my very first post, it's hard to feel positive. But let's do a review and maybe it won't be quite so bad (or it may be worse....).

And, last but not least, I have discovered that I get far more readers if I put this on Facebook. If I don't, very few read my posts but when I do, there are a lot more readers and responders. Not sure yet whether I'll do it today or not.

My personal goal was to make healthy choices. This was hard. Every time I feel stress, I want to eat. Every time I am happy, I want to eat. Every time I'm bored, I like to eat. But, thanks again to my lovely daughter-in-law who is completing her natural nutritionist training, I am making changes. It feels easier to do it for her. I am one of her case studies. I filled in about a 1000 questions on a survey (Okay, probably not quite that many) and then she analyzed it and gave me many suggestions on how to improve my overall health. I am trying to follow the recommendations, and good news, I do feel better. I have not followed all of her recommendations yet as the whole list is a little overwhelming, but already, I have lost some pounds and I think it is helping my arthritis. I continue to work out regularly at the club and have added a few special classes to my routine.

Relationally speaking, finding the best in all people is not necessarily easy. But I have made a promise to myself that I will not react in anger or with sarcasm immediately in those times when it is easy to do. This is especially true in the home. I don't want to react with an argumentative voice whenever I feel wronged. I am trying.

How does one measure spiritual growth? When I was growing up, this was measured simply in time one spent in prayer and bible reading. And bonus marks to you if you did it first thing in the morning. Well, I read the bible quite regularly and sleepless hours at night have been used in prayer, of a sort, but have I grown? If anything, I feel less sure about matters of faith. Things used to be very black and white; others were either in or out; and Jesus was absolutely going to return premilleniuim and take me and only those others who had said the sinner's prayer. Those lines aren't quite so definite anymore. It was easier when I KNEW things.

Vocationally, I was forced to grow. For the first 7 months of the school year, I taught a challenging class of mostly Kindies and a few grade 1's. It was good and I figured out a rhythm. I had a few students with special needs that I had never encountered before, so I learned, observed and flew by the seat of my pants most days. And then, after Easter, I changed to a grade 2 class. I had never taught grade 2 for an extended time before and so I needed to learn a new curriculum, new class habits and schedule and again had a few student with diagnoses that were very unique and challenging. And yet, I have found this class to be of the best I have ever taught. Maybe it was because they were older, but they understood me and my quirky sense of humour. I enjoyed their interactions and sure wish I could teach them longer. I have laughed out loud every single day in this class. I will be sad tomorrow as I say good-bye to them for the final time.  I still don't know where I will be placed next year. There's a lot of movement going on in our district, and as a teacher with little seniority, I have to wait till everyone else is happy and then I'll get the leftovers. As I have said before, God has always looked after me and given me a job at the right time and so I trust and wait. I'm not saying this has been easy as it seems to get more difficult every time I go through this, but it is what it is.

And that's a wrap. How do I want to live the last month of my 40's? Continue to grow, learn and laugh. I start with a trip to Europe next week with my husband as he leads a tour of Anabaptist history. Should be fun. I may even post about it!

Friday, May 31, 2013


We've just received the new book Fifty Shades of Grace  of which my husband is one of the fifty contributing authors. I, of course, read my husband's chapter first, but am now starting to read the other stories, as well. I almost didn't get past the first couple of paragraphs of one particular chapter, "Parenting Scare" because of how it expressed how I'm feeling at the moment as a parent. The author, Jenn Esbenshade, tells a story regarding a moment of grace when dealing with a health scare involving her toddler. I, however, feel this way and my kids are young adults and a pre-teen.

"There's something about having children that creates a particular vulnerability in us. This little person is your heart, all that love and affection bubbling out to the surface. As parents we are left to watch this piece of our heart move about, unconnected to us, unable to shield it from all of life's dangers."  (Pg 30)

Our children are at a very different stage of life than toddlerhood right now, but my heart is still deeply connected to my children. We have three young adult children and one middle schooler. We also have one "foster" son, who has lived with us off and on since his grade 12 year. Each of them is experiencing some not so easy life lessons right now. I want to shield them from all that and fix all of their problems. I hate to see them struggle. It's plain out painful to watch them experience hurts and disappointments. My husband and I really do think we know what's best for them, but they are at the stage where they need to figure it out for themselves. We also have to admit that sometimes they do know themselves better than we do! And yes, part of wanting to fix their problems is probably self-preservation. I have more grey hair than I like to admit, most of them accumulated during the learning to drive stages I've been through with 3 of them already. I have to give up control, which for me is a particularly painful and difficult process.

It's time to relinquish my mothering instincts for the older kids, ugh...I mean young adults. Thank goodness I still have a pre-teen in the house. I wonder if he can absorb all of my extra care I now have available?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sermon #3 - "when did we see you...?"

Last Sunday's sermon, in fact the whole service, was brought to us courtesy of our youth group! (I love my youth group!) They fashioned the service to mimic a regular youth evening. It was good. And then we had a Bible study like they have. They wanted us to study the same passage they had recently studied. So we heard the scripture passage read a few times and then we had some questions to guide our own reflections. We talked about these reflections after and they shared what they had discovered in the passage.

The scripture passage used was Matthew 25:31-46. This is the story of the separation at the judgment of the goats from the sheep, with each group asking why they were placed in that particular group. The reason? It all had to do with how they treated the less fortunate they met....the sheep acted in compassion when they saw someone hungry, naked, thirsty, etc. The interesting thing for me here was that these people did not do it as something for Christ. They just did it and it was Jesus who said it had been done for him. And based on those actions alone, Christ gives them eternal life. The "goats," on the other hand, are relegated to eternal punishment because they did not DO those things to the "least of these."

As a congregation, we were given a few guiding questions to direct our thoughts and conversations with people around us. One of those questions was "What about this text makes you uncomfortable?" "Plenty!" was my thought! Why are people judged just for their actions? What about their beliefs? How much actions are enough to be considered a sheep? How little makes you a goat? Who are the least of these? I can't do it all! Is giving money to causes such as the food bank considered feeding someone? Or how about giving money to MCC for giving homes to others? Do I have to do it directly?

Another question was what we would add to the list if actions Jesus lists. That was interesting. My response is included with the list compiled below.

when I felt no one cared you gave me a place to belong.
when my home was shabby and falling apart you helped me improve and make it cheerful.
I was young and you listened to me.
I was old and you honoured me.
I needed money for school and you sent some for me.
I needed a phone call when I was sick and you called me.
when I was hooked on drugs, cigarettes, and liquor you sent volunteers to visit, comfort, and show love.
when I told you I was gay, you welcomed me.
I was bullied and you stepped in.
I was depressed and you encouraged me.
I was invisible and you saw me.
I was untouchable and you embraced me.
When I was mocked, you stood up for me.

Boy, if we as a church follow through on these, we will change our community! Are you up for the challenge? I hope I am.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sermon #2 - "Why are WE here?"

What is the church's purpose? Why do we meet regularly? How do we bear witness to Christ?

The sermon suggested two ways, but our pastor said she was stumped for a third and asked that we come up with some ideas. But first, the two reasons for being the church she had thought of.

First and foremost, the church is here to worship God. By worshipping corporately, we are declaring our love for and adoration of God. God is worthy of all our praise and doing that together gives it strength.
Secondly, we are here to empower each other to use our God-given gifts both within the church and beyond. We call each other to serve and then we help each other in that role.

But what would I put as another reason? The church to me has always been my family. As we have lived away from our extended family for most of our married lives, the church has become the village that raises our children. We could not have done it on our own. For a number of years, my husband's job took him away from the family every other weekend. Who did I go to for support? The church. Where did I go for adult conversation? The church. Where did I go to for childcare, play dates, preschool? Yep, the church. And now I still need the church. I need the church to encourage me, I need it to remind me that life is more than just me, I need the church to hold me up to God in prayer when I go through tough times. I need the church, just as everyone needs a family.

But beyond the selfish, I think that the church family is called to live in unity. When we live together in love, not always agreeing, but always united, we are a testament to the living Christ.
Philippians 2:1-4 talks about how we are to live together with others because of our unity with Christ.  It is the antithesis of the "I" mentality so prevalent now, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others," (v.4). Colossians 2 talks about how being united in  love helps people to understand the mystery if Christ. (v. 2) Being united in Christ brings glory to God. (Romans 15:5-6)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sermon #1 - Why are you here?

Why do you go to church? In her sermon Easter morning, April presented a nice alliteration of three different reasons people come to church, those being: Believe, Behave and Belong. Check out April's summary here:

But why do I go to church? I would also say that I go for all three reasons above. I believe in Jesus and His community of the church. I grew up going to church and it was definitely an expected behaviour for all Christians to go to  church. It was a barometer to use when you wanted to know whether someone was a Christian- did they go to church? If yes, then they were. If not, then they probably weren't. Rather simplistic, I'd say now, and not entirely accurate. I also go to church because of the feeling of belonging. I belong there, with that group of people. I belong in Christ's physical manifestation of him- his church.

Some Sundays I go to church for one reason, and sometimes for another. I can truly say I am glad that I have found a local community that worships together a risen Saviour.

But another reason I go to church is to remind myself that it is not about me. Life and worship are not to be an individualistic experience. With so many things around me telling me that I need to do what's right for me and what feels good for me, and as I type on my iPad, I need the weekly reminder that I am part of a community. I am not the centre of the universe, and there is more to life than what I want or what I feel. And somehow that reason ties in all three above. I believe in Christ and his church and I behave in a certain way by attending regularly and I belong to this community.

I do believe that's why April followed up this sermon with the next one...."Why are We Here?"
Reactions to that are in the next blog entry....

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday?

Last night we had a Maundy Thursday service, also called Tennebrae service. As the words were read telling us of Jesus' final hours, I was convicted of my guilt. I would have left Jesus, too, as his disciples did. We had communion as individuals, each going up and serving ourselves to reflect the "alone-ness" Jesus must have felt. It was hard to do. As we left the dark sanctuary in silence, I wanted to stay silent on the way home and into the evening.

This morning our church had a Good Friday service. It was not dark as the sun was streaming in the windows. We sang and listened to more of the story of Jesus last hours. But what got me weeping was a monologue from Mary's perspective. Mary, despite the special mother/son bond all mothers have with their children, had to give him up to share with the public, not only for a very public ministry, but also a very public death. What pain for a mother!

"I was there. It seems like I always was… From the very beginning, from the day he was born I loved him. I held him in my arms, and everything in my heart: from the praise of the angels to my own questions and longings for what he would become. He and I belonged to each other, my son and I, but it wasn’t long before I had to share him, to give him up.

“I must be about my Father’s business”, he said – and what was that? Jesus had to belong to the people, even to the tax collectors and prostitutes; they needed him. They needed his stories, his healing, and his preaching. He was everything to them – just like he was to me. Then the time came where even they had to give him up – it wasn’t fair! His time was so short, too short. No mother should have to watch her son die.

When Jesus was still a baby, Joseph and I took him to a temple. There, an old man named Simon told me: “a sword will pierce your heart”. I couldn’t have known what he meant. I was so happy then, so proud of my beautiful son… I think I have an idea now. This grief will stay in my heart like a piercing wound, but my son left me so much more than that when he died. He gave me a family. Everyone who loved him, everyone who feels that sword of grief with me, we are the ones who belong to each other now.

And then, we as a church were once again confronted by our guilt of betrayal, this time in a monologue written by and delivered by my son Adriel. I found it very moving and was once again in tears.

I am the betrayer.
I am the weak.
The liar.
The violent.
I am the rock, upon whom the church will be built.

I am Peter.
I was there:
His friend; his brother; his servant.
On his deathbed, his final hours, 
He called to me,
And James, and John.
His final hours:
“Stay here and keep watch with me?”

In agony;
He prayed—
For we were asleep.

Could we not watch with him for one hour;
On his deathbed,
Pray with him?

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
“I shall lay down my life for thy sake;”
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee,
The cock shall not crow, til thou hast denied me thrice.”

 I am the blind,
The deaf.

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
Nay Lord!
I shall not pray with you.
I shall not sit with you,
On your deathbed,
In your final hours!
I shall take action.

Wherefore I sleep,
Wherefore I rise,
I lent him not mine ear.

 “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?”
Nay Lord,
I shall flee.

“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
“I know not what thou sayest.”
An oath,
“I do not know the man.”

Even I curse and swear,
The man!”

Of whom do I speak,
O Simon,
O Rock,
O Peter?

Of whom do I speak?
“He is at hand that doth betray me.”
I am he.
And I shall weep.
From beyond the walls.

I could not watch with him,
On his deathbed,
In his final hours.

I could not stand with him,
When the kiss came:
“Hold him fast.”

I could not be for him,
Outside the walls,
In the morning.

I am he:
The rock, on whom the church will be built.

I am he:
Whom Jesus loved.
And yet I slept.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Break is over

Tomorrow I head back to work. It's been a good week, but I could use another. But as I sit on the ferry heading back to the mainland, I thought it would be good to do some reflecting of the week it was.

I did sleep in, or at least I stayed in bed past 7 almost every morning. I didn't wear my pj's all day, but I'm assuming that sweatpants are just as good and I did stay in them a few days. I went to work out 5 times during the week. I did Gary's taxes and filed our own. I got caught up on the accounting, but was behind again the next day as we bought something or a bill came in. It's a never-ending battle. I called my great aunt a few times, but it never suited her to get together. I did some spring cleaning, moving all furniture on the main floor and in two bedrooms to vacuum and clean behind them. Oh my! There is a reason we do that annually! Micah and I did have a date, going out for lunch and to Toys 'R Us for the Lego set. I did play the computer games, so much so that I took them off the ipad, knowing what an incredible time waster they are. I went to see Adriel in Swallows and Amazons. What a great show! I went to see Sarina dance. How I wish I had grown up dancing and am so thankful that we were able to encourage Sarina in this great expression. I did not go out for coffee with any friends. I also did not do any prep work for the new class. I don't even know where to begin, as I have no idea where they are in the curriculum or yearly plan. Guess I have my work cut out for me this week! I also did some reading, finally starting the book The Map of True Places.  I've also started reading my pastor's new book entitled Sacred Pauses, and am hoping it will help me have a fresh perspective on daily spiritual renewal.

Speaking of pauses, I'm very thankful for the past week. I know that those of us in the teaching profession are spoiled by our regular breaks, and so I don't want to take it for granted. I hope that it will make me a better teacher and person. I am looking forward to seeing the little gaffers again
tomorrow, although it will be bittersweet as it will be my last week with them.

And now I sit on the ferry as it goes by some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world. How absolutely beautiful. And I pause again, knowing that this time is a gift. I am by myself in a ferry full of people. What a gift! May you also have gifts of time to think and reflect over the next little while, even if you don't have an official "Spring Break."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring break!

Yesterday as I was teaching my grade 2/3 class, I was having them do some journal writing. We talked about what kinds of things they might do during our week of spring break. (Yes, we only get one week in Mission, as compared to to Abby's two weeks!) I asked them where they might go, who they might see and what kind of imaginative games they might play. It was a fun discussion and then I had them get to work. I worked my way around the class checking on their progress. A few minutes into the exercise and one girl piped up and asked "Mrs. Brandt, why don't you write about what you will do?" I didn't have to be asked twice. She gave me a paper and a pencil and I started. In no time, I had half a page stopped their work to watch me scribble. And then I told them to get going, too. Hopefully I motivated them. Here's my entry:

"I love spring break! I am going to sleep in every day and wear my pajamas till noon. I am going to read books, play Candy Crush Saga and Scrabble. I am going to visit my great Aunt. I want to go out for coffee with friends. Micah and I will go out for lunch to A & W to use his gift card and then go to Walmart to buy a Lego set he's been saving up for. I will do our tax forms and catch up on our accounting. I will do some prep work for school. (I just found out yesterday afternoon that I will be teaching a new class after Easter, so I need to do some prep.) I will do some spring cleaning...which cupboards or drawers are the worst? I will work out at least 4 times at the gym. I will go to Victoria to see Sarina dance. I will go to Adriel's play at least once. I will do taxes for Gary, an older gentleman who asks me every year to do his returns and I can never say no."

So, first morning in, how am I doing? I woke up at 2:30 a.m. and couldn't sleep properly after that. I tried to use that time to go through my prayer list...but the headache wasn't letting my supplication take shape. So when the alarm went before 7, I just stayed in bed. Within half an hour,  however, the killer headache forced me up to get my drugs of choice: one Tylenol, one Advil and one diet coke. Obviously they are working, because I'm here. Not great, but better than a few hours ago. I will be leaving shortly to pick up my daughter from the ferry so that we can go to the play together tonight. I've done some scrabble turns, as well as my candy game. (It's really addicting! I should probably stop.) I have my granola in the oven and will call my aunt after I have posted this.

I love spring break. Oh, and who wants to go out for coffee?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March attempt at writing

What to write about? What do I have to say that is worth anyone reading? I honestly don't know.

Now I not only have an I-Pad, I also have a cell phone. I can text, call, check email, play games and scroll through Facebook with either of my new devices. In other words, they both have the potential for copious amounts of time wasted. They also both have the potential for greater communication and the ipad in particular has great potential in my classroom. We bought the phone primarily to be used with our daughter (she got a matching one on the same plan), so that we wouldn't worry about her. (Or at least we will know what to worry about!) I have downloaded a number of educational aps onto the ipad and the children in my class really enjoy it. I hope it is also helping them with their pre-reading skills.

Are either of these devices helping me with my goals? That remains to be seen.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Books I'm Reading

I have a new iPad. It should make it easier to write, don't you think? Well, let's see.

I read a couple of good books this week. I got a gift card for Black Bond Books for Christmas and went there a couple of weeks ago to spend it. It was fun. I bought the new Mitch Albom book Time Keeper.  How do we view and/or use time? Like other Albom books, this one had a unique perspective on the subject. Then I read a new Jodi Picoult book entitled Keeping Faith. I found the story fascinating, partly because of the author's forward where she talks about how difficult it was to find people of  religious conviction and training who were willing to imagine her plot without being threatened in their faith. She didn't want to fit into any person's preconceived notion of who God is or what God would act like. "And a little child shall lead them." That's the only spoiler you'll get from me. Next on my list to read is The Map of True Places by Brunia Barry. I really have no idea what this book will be like, but I liked the back cover's description which I felt would fit into my year's plan. "Overwhelmed by her new role, Zee must destroy the existing map of her life and chart a new course-one that will guide her not only into her future but into her past as well."  Got you intrigued, too?

PS Writing on an ipad sucks,although I'm sure I'll get used to it. I blame any and all typos on the new keyboard and the iPad's propensity to assume it knows what I'm thinking and filling in words as I go.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The harder I want it, the harder it is!

So...I'm trying to lose weight. The more I think about it, the more I want to eat. The more I say "I'm cutting back on sugar," the more I crave the cookies. The more depressed I get over what the scale says in the morning, the more I stuff my sorrows with carbs. Not good. What do I do?

I could get spiritual, but I won't. You know, quote Paul and stuff.

 I'm beginning to think this is so that I will have more compassion for people who have addictions, but can't quit. I've always thought it was just a matter of "doing it", having the will-power, mind over matter, that kind of thing. But seriously, I'm struggling. I have a headache every day, my hip is aching constantly (having to bear all this weight, obviously), and my clothes are too tight.

So, off to the gym I go. Again.