Weekends go by so quickly…

Even now, when I’m in this stage of my life without a normal work week, weekends still stand out bright and then pass away just as fast.

I’m feeling better but still in recovery. Still popping those Tylenol and keeping a Halls in my mouth most of the time.

This weekend saw the triumphant reunion of myself and my camera. Thanks to those who babysat it after I left it behind. Here’s a couple of quick shots from our Christmas day on the Sunshine Coast.

Christmas day walk on the beach

So now, hopefully, you will get to see more pictures of what’s really going on and I get to continue honing my photography skills.

This weekend we made the drive in to Vancouver. I miss that city. When I lived on the island, I never thought I’d want to live there again but lately… I most definitely could. I’m spoiled to have grown up in one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I’m reminded of that every time I return. I miss orienting myself around the mountains in the north. I miss the golden domes of the Sikh temple. I miss waiting for the bus on Broadway. I miss real Chinese food. I’m even starting to miss hipsters.

We spent Saturday afternoon wandering through the Bill Reid Art Gallery on Hornby Street with two dear island friends. I highly recommend this gallery to anybody. And if you happen to have a friend who knows all about Bill Reid and can tell you interesting anecdotes and history, even better! If you don’t know Bill Reid and you’re a Canadian, you should. (Start with a $20 bill.) I know Reid primarily for The Spirit of Haida sculpture that greets you at the Vancouver International Airport and is displayed prominently on the 20. (Hint: it’s one of four on the bill.)

The Spirit of Haida - Bill Reid (I did not take this photo nor do I have any ownership over this artwork. Obviously.)

But did you know that this is only one version of The Spirit of Haida that Reid did? There is another, twin sculpture with a black patina. He frequently did multiple versions of the same sculpture in different mediums, colours, and sizes.

This is the killer whale sculpture seen outside of the Vancouver Aquarium

There’s another, smaller version of this sculpture done in boxwood in the Bill Reid Gallery. This guy was seriously talented. Also, created some absolutely gorgeous jewellry. Check out theravenscall.ca to see more of his work or, better yet if you’re in Vancouver, check out the gallery. It’s worth it.

I’m trying to organize my thoughts about how Bill Reid’s art makes me feel. There was a great quote in the gallery from Reid that was basically him saying he didn’t consider himself “white or non-white”, “Haida or non-Haida”. “I am a citizen of the West Coast of North America,” he said. And I think that’s what makes his art so accessible, why it moves me. I can’t claim ownership over Haida art or any other First Nations art and I won’t try. But I do identify with it and I do claim it as part of my identity as someone who has lived most of her life on the West Coast. I see Reid’s art and I think, “That’s a part of who I am. That’s a part of my culture.”

It’s similar to a feeling I had down in Seattle this past summer. Peter and I spent a day at the Seattle Art Museum (great collection, if you get a chance to see it!) and they have an extensive North American First Nations collection. Lots of beautiful stuff, mostly from the Washington area. And then we turned a corner and stepped in to a room full of art from our own West Coast, including Haida. I had this profound feeling of familiarity, of this art being “home” in some sense. It’s because of artists like Bill Reid, who opened this art up so wide and let a whole nation step in to it.

Saturday night was spent celebrating the birthday of a most excellent sister-in-law (I am blessed with 2 really awesome sisters-related-by-marriage) and tonight I am back in my own home and happy to be.

It was a rainy drive home.

I prefer rain rather than the snow that chased us out of here on Saturday morning. Watching fresh snow fall on piles of dirty, left-over snow is not that picturesque. I’ve had enough snow for 2012. Rain, I can deal with.

Another shot from the drive home this afternoon.

This bridge is almost finished; it’s being built side-by-side to the one still in use so it’s been neat to see its development. It looks great but am I the only one who sees a bridge with cables like that and imagines it in a disaster movie where they rapidly snap one by one?

Why I hate banana flavoured things…

Today’s been a weird day. I’ve been fighting this cold I picked up from Peter for a couple of days – runny nose, muscle ache, sore throat, the usual. Unfortunately, the usual with me often involves an ear infection. I’ve been getting them since I was a kid. Back then, just about every cold seemed to culminate waking up in the night crying from the pressure building inside my ear. At least, my doctor told me, most people grow out of them. You’ll probably stop having them when you’re twelve.

Well, I’m way older than twelve so I guess that makes me special. Because last night I woke up around midnight with that same incredible pain. I don’t get ear infections as frequently as I used to and in the past few years they’ve tended to be less painful but last night was bad. Tempted to down all the T3s leftover from my wisdom teeth removal bad. (I didn’t. I polished off the extra strengths and cried.) Lest this turn into a pity post, I will say I feel better this morning and I’m thankful for both my wonderful, sympathetic husband and the wonders of penicillin. That, by the way, is why I can’t stand artificial banana flavouring. Too much liquid amoxicillin as a kid. (I had to go check the bottle to spell that.) When the time comes, my husband will be a great dad. It’s a blessing to have someone get up in the middle of the night with you and google home remedies. When I thanked him for it this morning he said, “Well, I figured I had two options. Be really mad at you or be nice. And I decided to be nice.”

Somewhere in the middle of pacing the floor and pouring oil in my ear (yeah, I did that) I attempted to compare my current pain with painful experiences in my past. Admittedly, it was not my most subjective moment and today I’m still in a “That was the worst pain ever experienced by anyone” kind of mood but let me share some of my thoughts.

The three most painful experiences I recalled last night are: getting stung by a jellyfish, having my wisdom teeth removed, contracting Norwalk virus.

In the light of day (actually, it’s dark already now) I would say that getting stung by a jellyfish was more painful than my ear infection. I was stung by a jellyfish in the Philippines and, to date, I would say it was the most painful experience of my life. Plus, when you stupidly try and brush it away with your hand, you then have been stung in two places. (Also, if you step on a dead jellyfish two days later, you will get stung again. What kind of jerk creature needs to sting you when it’s dead? I hate jellyfish.) The plus side of being stung by a jellyfish is that it wasn’t a long-lasting pain. I was able to get to a remedy quickly and though my leg swelled up and walking was uncomfortable, it wasn’t the same as the initial pain. (No, nobody peed on me. We used vinegar. It worked really well.) Ear infection pain can last all night and even though you know it can’t last forever, in the moment, it doesn’t feel that way.

Having my wisdom teeth removed, on the other hand, was perfectly painless. It helped that I was completely unconscious, of course. It was the recovery that merited the aforementioned T3s. Two years later, I don’t remember the pain that vividly. I remember needing more T3s because even after several days had passed, I couldn’t sleep through the pain. I remember the T3s making me incredibly nauseous and I remember my face swelling up about three times its size. (Sadly, all pictures of that time have been lost.) I’d have to say last night was more painful, though (hopefully) not as drawn out.

And the Norwalk virus. I do have to admit that this is a self-diagnosis but I think I’m correct. The symptoms were all there, as well as the incredible speed at which it passed through my fellow co-workers. I don’t know why exactly I thought of that spring week last night. Probably because that remains the sickest I’ve ever been. You know how sometimes you don’t feel well and you’re not sure if you’re bad enough to call in sick to work? This was not one of those times. I won’t go in to the details (If you’re that curious, just look up the symptoms. I had ’em all.) but I spent most of a day trying to make it to the kitchen for a glass of water and couldn’t because I kept blacking out. I made it back to bed by crawling. So, even though that week doesn’t trump last night in terms of pain, it still wins over all worst sickness experience. Yay!

Wow, what a great way to end a post. Please don’t look up Norwalk symptoms. I don’t want any of you to think of me that way. For now, I’m going to keep taking my antibiotics and eating yogurt. Stay healthy, folks!

Drink lots of milk. Chocolate milk is healthy, right?

My deep dark secret…

Right now, I’m reading Michael Ondaatje’s latest novel, “The Cat’s Table”. It’s wonderful. I gulp it down like rich chocolate. Check this: “I needed to think backwards for a while. Thinking backwards I could remember the comfort of being curious and alone.” Isn’t that a wonderful description?

Or this: “But he had a serenity that came with the choice of the life he wanted to live. And this serenity and certainty I have seen only among those who have the armour of books close by.” Ondaatje is tied for first place in my favourite author category.

I’m prefacing this post with a literary reference because I’m embarrassed about what I’m about to admit. I watch The Bachelor. I’m a smart person! I’m educated, I read lots of books, I have healthy relationships with those around me! But, yes, The Bachelor is my guiltiest of pleasures. I really don’t know what I find appealing about it, aside from maybe the fact that after every episode I’m incredibly thankful for my husband and our normal marriage. My big question when it comes to The Bachelor or The Bachelorette (they’re the same, really) is what has happened to this people? What has to happen in your life that you think this is a good idea to meet your mate? And some of them are so young! At 24 you’ve already given up on having a normal relationship? On meeting someone in a normal way? Start a new hobby, volunteer, stop at a different coffee shop – there are lots of people out there! Why are you on TV? And why do you act like you don’t know you’re on TV? Don’t your parents watch this?

And yet I can’t look away. And since it’s more fun to watch terrible TV with someone else, I would like to share some of my thoughts from last night’s episode. I know some of you out there are watching too. Tell me what you think!

This season’s Bachelor is Ben. I’ve never watched the show and not felt “meh” about the bachelor. I do not understand how all these women fall so instantaneously in love. Ben seems ok although there’s nothing really to recommend him. Oh, he’s a winemaker. Apparently women everywhere love winemakers. That’s not really how you choose a husband, ladies. I respect my husband’s profession but that’s not why I married him. (That said, I would not have married him if he were, say, a drug mule or that guy from Lords of War.) Anyway, here are some of my thoughts:

  • This episode they are in Park City, Utah. Why? Because Ben wants the women to “experience the outdoors”. Apparently, none of them have done this before.
  • Does someone have to say “the perfect place to fall in love” every episode? A garbage dump can be where you fall in love if you’re with the right person. Peter and I had our first date at cheap restaurant and a duck pond and it was awesome. It was the perfect place to fall in love.
  • Rachel, who gets the first 1-on-1 date, has “communication issues”. Uh oh, that’s the worst thing ever in Bachelor world. God forbid you not completely open up on a first date.
  • Oh, she does have communication issues. This is awkward. Rachel, Chris Harrison just told you not to talk about the weather with Ben.
  • Meanwhile, Kacie is freaking out and getting jealous. There’s one every season. Kacie is my favourite and I think I’m supposed to feel that way.
  • Ben describes his date with normal as a “down-to-earth date”. Right after he steps off of a helicopter. (By the way, I don’t think helicopters are romantic. At all. You can’t talk to one another.)
  • Rachel overcomes her terrible communication disease and gets a rose. They have dinner in a super tacky, cow-skin setting. Rachel describes it while by saying it looks like it was thrown together in seconds. Rachel seems like she has to work too hard here. This is one of my least favourite thing about the Bachelor: that taking a relationship slow (something I think is important) is impossible and even seen as a bad thing.
  • Whoever edits this show really doesn’t want us to like Courtney. I don’t know what to think about her. She does use a completely different (and terribly annoying) voice when she’s around Ben and she doesn’t ever seem to say anything nice about the other women. However, she seems normal when she’s with Ben. I think she may just be one of those women who’s terrible with other women. Or, as Emily said previously, she has a social disorder.
  • I wish they were going go-kart racing.
  • Okay, they keep referring to Ben on horseback as being a prince, a knight in shining armour, someone coming to rescue them. Have some self-respect, ladies! He’s a guy on a horse and you are grown-ups.
  • Really? They are all that excited about fly fishing? Ooh, you get your own hip waders!
  • Jamie seems too sweet and normal to be on this show. That’s probably why we never see her
  • Kacie says, “He makes me feel like me.” That’s not a good thing. You should feel like you without needing a man to accomplish that.
  • Courtney catches a fish. Of course it’s compared to catching Ben. And not in a fishers of men nice kind of way
  • Nicki seems a little crazy. How can she say she’s so in love with Ben? I think she’s spent, maybe 20 minutes with him so far.
  • The big “unexpected twist” of the night comes when Ben sends Samantha home halfway through the group date. I actually respect this. She’s hounding him about not receiving a one-one-one date, he’s not very into her and has noticed that a lot of drama seems to follow her and he sends her home right then and there. Why draw it out.
  • Courtney’s smugness over Samantha’s departure however? That’s aggravating
  • Ben and Kacie’s alone time is always removed from the group setting. That seems like a good sign.
  • Ben’s idea of reassurance is primarily kissing. Ben strikes me as a guy who agreed to be the bachelor because he knew he’d get to make out with a bunch of girls.
  • Jennifer gets the 2nd one-on-one date. Ben has described her as “an account but beautiful”. Hey, Ben, I know at least three super hot accountants. You’re lame for saying that.
  • Ben thinks Jennifer is “reserved and shy”. I think she’s normal.
  • Jennifer is so nervous about rappelling into this crater. Does she not realize she’s on TV? Obviously, someone tested this before her. She’s not going to die on The Bachelor.
  • if a guy told me on a first date that he needs “a relationship that’s flexible”, that would be a major red flag to me.
  • Who is Clay Walker? Oh, country music. Also, the lady standing beside Ben and Jennifer at the concert seems SO happy and can’t stop staring at them.
  • Ah, the cocktail party. A few fashion thoughts: I like Jennifer, but her dress is ugly. I don’t like Courtney but her dress is cute. I like Kacie’s curly hair better than the straight. Monica’s dress reminds me of the Flintstones. Jamie is wearing a prom dress from the ’90s. Bless her.
  • Emily slowly self-destructs throughout the cocktail party. She makes the mistake of spending her alone time with Ben talking about how she doesn’t like Courtney. There is always someone who wants to tell the bachelor about the other contestants and it never works well. You look jealous and spiteful and Ben is not impressed. Emily’s right about one thing: Men don’t like their judgement to be called in to question.
  • Casey seems pretty nice. Too bad she’s dressed like a 1960s widow in something beige and shapeless.
  • Is Courtney genuinely surprised that Emily thinks she’s mean. Courtney, you may not actually be a horrible person but you’re not exactly sweetness and pie.
  • Nicki looks like Sandra Bullock. Unfortunately, that seems to be her defining characteristic.
  • Things get tense (of course) and poor Kacie tries to change the subject. “There are roses tonight! How do we feel about that?” Thanks for trying.
  • The rose ceremony begins. Ben notices that the group is smaller than before. Monica goes home. Not that surprising. Neither she nor Ben seemed very into each other. In her limo exit she says, “It sucks when someone doesn’t feel the way you feel.” And that does suck. And I think that’s why we keep watching the show, because most of us know that feeling and we can sympathize with this crazy women.
  • Ben announces that they’re going to Puerto Rico. They all cheer. Courtney says, “I was just there two months ago.” Awkward silence. Ben: “Well, we’re going back!” Hilarious.

Who else out there is watching this? Do you love it? Hate that you love it? Let me know I’m not alone!

Am I a Grown-up Yet?

Yesterday, I read this article from Relevant Magzine (you should check them out by the way, there’s some good stuff on there), 11 Things to know at 25ish. You can read the whole article here:

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/whole-life/features/25956-11-things-to-know-at-25ish

The tag line is “What you need to know to be a real adult.” Seeing as I’m twenty-six, I thought it would be interesting to go through the 11 points and compare my view to the author’s. To find out, if you will, whether or not, I’m a real adult.

1. You have time to find a job you love.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. As witnessed by the fact that that is sort of the reason I’m unemployed right now. And I wish I’d known that a few years back when I spent way too many months of my life in a job I hated, working under a management that didn’t respect its employees. I learned a lot from it and ever since then I’ve been much pickier about the jobs I apply to and accept. That said, sometimes that’s a luxury you can’t afford. When I was 19, I needed a job to pay my rent and tuition and buy food. Simply quitting wasn’t an option because I didn’t have anything or anyone to fall back on. I also want to point out that there’s a difference between quitting a job because you truly know it’s not what you want to do with your life and quitting a job because you’re just sort of tired of working.

2. Get out of debt and stay out of debt.

I couldn’t agree with this more. I think most of us have been there to some degree. Just last night Peter and I discussed the appeal of cutting up our credit cards. Unfortunately, in this society, no credit card means you can’t book a flight, buy concert tickets on-line, or open up an account at a video store. So, to a certain extent, they’re a necessary evil. Learn how to be in control of them. The point the author makes about living within your means is a great one. Saving for the lean times is important too though. Just because you might be in a spell of making more money, doesn’t mean you have to spend all that money. I’m glad she stresses tithing too. In all honesty, that can be one of the easiest things to get cut when money’s tight. It can be easy to rationalize why the church doesn’t need your money this month. And it might not – after all, God doesn’t need your money. He’s not up in Heaven counting twenties. But He wants us to trust Him in all aspects of our lives, including our finances. “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 4:6) That’s a promise. Not that He’ll make us fabulously wealthy but that He will honour our trust in Him. This is something I need to keep remembering and learning.

3. Don’t rush dating and marriage.

I do and I don’t agree with this. I think the author is making a point that we shouldn’t be seduced by romance, by the idea of love. And I agree with that. Dating and marriage is not the be all, end all and it shouldn’t be where we find fulfillment. That said, I don’t agree with the whole, “wait and see”, “give it a year” idea that the author has. If you love someone and you want to commit your lives to each other and you’ve prayed about it and have centered your relationship around God’s call in both of your lives (separately, not just as a couple) then go for it. Why wait? There was a time when Peter and I thought we had to have more of our lives figured out before we got married. Let me tell you this: you will never have your life figured out, so you might as well have a really amazing partner to help each other out. Looking back, I think we both would say we could have gotten married sooner. We were 24 when we got married, which some say is young (although around here in our new town, it’s definitely not) but we knew what we were doing. Waiting longer wouldn’t have benefited us at all.

4. Give your best to friends and family.

I agree with this when it comes to almost anything else. Family and friends should be put ahead of everything except two things in my life: God first, my husband second. If I’m not in a good place with the Lord, my marriage will suffer. And I love my family, but the family of Peter and I comes first. Not to the detriment of those around us, but that is what the Bible tells us and, again, our marriage will be stronger for it.

Having recently left so many of our friends, I do see how important this is. Friendships require an investment. Time, phone calls, stamps. Whatever it takes. If you want people to remain in your life, you can’t always assume that’s just going to happen.

5. Get some counselling.

I think if you need counselling, get it. Absolutely. Counselling for the sake of counselling? I’m not so sure. There will definitely be times in just about anyone’s life where you need something more, where talking it out with your spouse or a friend isn’t enough. When that point comes might be different for everybody. I don’t think I believe in “pre-emptive counselling” though. I don’t take cold medicine until I feel sick. That said, I might feel differently about this one in five years.

6. Seek out a mentor.

I benefited and was greatly blessed when I was in high school from one of my youth leaders who took me out once a week for doughnuts, Bible reading, prayer, and just generally someone wiser to talk to. I haven’t had a mentor like that since. I’ve definitely had people around me who are older and more experience and who I look up to and am able to seek guidance from. I think that’s something beautiful about the church. Outside of the church, where would I meet senior citizens, middle-aged parents, young teens? Part of the difficulty of moving to a completely new place is that you lose that extended support network. We’re starting to build it again in our new town but it does take time. I do think any young woman, myself included, would benefit from time spent with a woman a little further along the road than yourself.

7. Be part of a church.

Yes, yes, yes! A thousand times, yes. You will not grow in your faith unless you’re a part of a Christian community. It is essential and it’s the model for Christianity that we are given in the Bible. Whether your church has 20 people or 20, 000, commit to one and get involved. When Peter and I decided to move here, looking for a church was top priority. We knew that that was the best way to grow our community, to meet people, and to grow in our faith. Where we live now is something of a Bible belt, there are a ton of churches. Multiple ones on a street, lots of denominations. We could spend the next year visiting all of them but what benefit would that be? So we visited a few, picked one with solid teaching and friendly people and are now trying to get involved. In my experience, the best way to be involved in a church community is to join a small group and find something you can volunteer for, even if it’s just once a month. If your church doesn’t have small groups or ways you can get involved, it’s time to look for a new church.

8. Find a rhythm for spiritual disciplines.

Again, I agree with this wholeheartedly. I’ve been both really good at this and really bad at various times in my life. Inevitably, when I look back, the times when I’ve been disciplined about praying and reading my Bible, are better times. You’d think I’d learn. I think spiritual discipline is more than something you just decide to do and then get really good at it. Yes, habits are important and it’s much easier to read your Bible everyday if you schedule it into your day. But I do believe that there are spiritual forces working against us and Satan absolutely does not want you to pick up your Bible today. So more than just forming a habit like brushing your habit, pray for the time to pray. Pray for spiritual discipline. Uninterrupted, dedicated time with the Lord is super important but prayer scattered throughout the day is great too. Pray while you wish the dishes, while you go for a run. If you have trouble finding a rhythm for time with the Lord, pray about it! Don’t wait for the rhythm to work out before you start praying.

9. Volunteer.

Do it. This goes along with what I was saying about being a part of a church. It’s the same with being a part of a community, being a part of the human race. Volunteering reminds us that we need each other, that we’re not better than any one else. I think the time to volunteer can be a bit of a luxury though. However, we usually have more time than we think we do, I think we just waste a lot of it. I know I do.

10. Feed yourself and the people you love.

I love food. More recently, I’m learning to love making food for other people. Since we got married, Peter and I have loved having people over. You rarely just invite someone over – you invite them over for dinner, for coffee, for drinks or for dessert. Food is a staple of fellowship. In a new town, it’s been a way to get to know new friends. Early on in our marriage, I had a time of feeling bad that our house wasn’t perfectly decorated, that we had a hodgepodge of furniture, most of which we got for free. I feel that way sometimes still. But I have to the decision that I’d rather have a home where people feel welcome and comfortable, than a home that would win a decorating award. Maybe one day I’ll have both but while we still live in a little suite and have free furniture, I’ll focus on the welcoming bit.

11. Don’t get stuck.

I think the article says it all on this one. Keep challenging yourself. Do it now.

The snow is almost gone. This picture is from a few days ago, Peter and I out shovelling the driveway. Now it’s mostly slush out there and the rain is supposed to keep falling all week. I’m okay with that. It was fun for a while but I can handle the rain a lot better than I know how to handle the snow!

Yep, still snow. It snowed all day Monday, a little bit on Tuesday, a little bit yesterday and nothing today. It’s supposed to rain this weekend so either we’ll have a lot of ice or a lot of water everywhere. Peter’s been off work all week which is nice in every way except the financial one. We’ve done our best to get our money’s worth out of our Netflix account the past couple of days. Some of you may know that I kind of love terrible movies. They hold a special place in my heart and if you watch them with the right person/people, it’s a fantastic experience. Peter and I recently raced our way through the Fast and the Furious series, including Fast Five in IMAX (totally worth it). #5 is the best one by the way; #3 is the worst. Far worse than any of those though is “Fast Track: No Limits”. It’s kind of the German version. Terrible acting, nonsensical plot and it’s far too long. A better bad movie was “Escape from L.A.” 2013’s going to be rough guys. Stay out of California.

In other weather-related news, I had a quintessential Canadian experience the other morning when we went out to sled: my hair froze. I’ve heard about this and perhaps I should have considered it when taking a shower right before going out but I’ve never experienced cold enough weather. I guess I can check that off my bucket list. The next day we had an even colder walk to the grocery store to stock up on a few essentials. It was snowing lately and the winds were blowing more snow into our faces. It was unpleasant. Today was much milder and we had a lovely walk downtown, where almost every business was closed. Peter and I had a cup of coffee and a long talk about a bit of everything. I love going on little dates with him. Despite the fact that we see each other every day and spend a ton of time together, he’s my very favourite person to have a conversation with.

I just finished reading “Imperfect Birds” by Anne Lamott. Definitely a writer I’ll look for again. I wasn’t totally satisfied with the ending though. I thought Elizabeth’s spiritual journey was a really interesting part of the novel but didn’t go very far. She had this belief in something that was “not me” but stopped right there. Perhaps that’s realistic but not very satisfying for me as a reader. I wasn’t sure that any of the characters had really changed by the end. I feel like that’s important in a novel, we invest in these characters and we want to see something different in them, whether good or bad. And I was invested in the characters; Lamott’s descriptions were dead on and they were real people, each with distinct and believable motivations.

I read this quote from “Les Miserables” this morning in connection to grace:

“He (Jean Valjean) was indistinctly conscious that the pardon of this priest was the greatest assault and the most formidable attack which had moved him yet.”

Isn’t that great? When we truly came face-to-face with grace, we have to change our lives. And that can be terrifying because a lot of the time, our life seems okay. The thing is though, when we experience the grace of Jesus and recognize it as such, we want to change our lives. When I was sixteen, I was confronted with God in such a real way that I knew I had to live my life differently. I wanted to because part of experiencing God’s grace is realizing that you matter to Him. That’s amazing.

Also, I love “indistinctly conscious”. Victor Hugo is brilliant and if you haven’t read “Les Miserables”, read it. Go. Now. You won’t regret it. Watching the musical is not enough.

There is way more snow than this now. I swear.

“Pride is the enemy of hope.”

“Pride is the enemy of hope.” I read that quote this morning and wrote it in my journal. I’ve never heard it put quite like that before but it sums up so much of sin. One of the best definitions of Christian hope I’ve ever heard was that when we hope in Christ, we hope in something that we know will happen. We hope for Christ’s return; we know He will return. Pride places our hope in ourselves and so we are bound to fail. Hope dies when we are filled with pride. Pride is a difficult thing to kill but when I’m reminded that it can kill the hope I have, the hope I want, I’m more determined than ever to put my pride aside and focus on Jesus.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/captains-error-blamed-for-cruise-disaster-fear-shifts-to-fuel-leak/article2303080/ This tragedy has been on the news a lot lately. Six deaths are confirmed and sixteen people are still missing after a cruise ship ran aground off Italy. The captain has been arrested and may face charges of manslaughter. I’ve read that, according to Italian law, he can face up to 12 years in prison for abandoning ship. He allegedly was one of the first ones off and left the rest of the crew to fend for themselves and help passengers. If true, it’s a cowardly action, for sure, but I was surprised that the whole “captain goes down with the ship” thing is still the law. I don’t know much about maritime law in general but that seems a little old-fashioned. The captain should have stayed and he should have helped as many people as he possibly could; I do believe that that was his duty and perhaps he should have been one of the last people off. But there must be some point where he is allowed to save himself. Does he really have to go down with the ship? Yes, I saw Titanic and we like to think of the captain as heroic, as tied forever to the sea, but is that necessary? If he can’t save anyone else, can’t he save himself? This captain has also been accused of willfully steering the cruise ship too close to land and thus causing it to hit a reef and for that there is no excuse. Allegedly, he was showing off. Another example of pride gone foul and a particularly sad one.

The sea is scary. Anyone who’s lived by it knows that, even in the comfort of a big city.

In local news, there’s still snow. It’s snowed the last two nights and it’s snowing heavily again today. I’m not used to snow that sticks around for more than a couple of days. It’s beautiful but not quite as fun on a Monday morning when I know my husband has to drive in it.

On Being a Canadian

Some might say I grew up in the California of Canada. I’ve lived the last few years on an island that includes a rainforest and where snow is a rarity. It’s the same in my hometown. Schools close, airports shut down, people panic when we get an inch or two. When it comes to snow, we’re pretty un-Canadian. Where we are now, being further inland, snow is more common. Not as common as much of the rest of Canada but not unusual either.

Last night Peter and I decided to pop-in on some friends downtown. Ended up being a fun night of beer, pizza, and a BBC documentary on China. And I know have “Sunny D and Rum (Yum! Yum!)” stuck in my head. I’m a big fan of the pop-in, by the way. I think it’s something of a lost art. People feel like they have to call ahead or like their homes have to look a certain way before they can have friends over. To me, the pop-in achieves a next level of friendship. The kind where your friend drops by and doesn’t have a problem with moving a pile of clothes and books so they can find a spot to sit on the couch. The kind where you don’t have to be embarrassed that your bathroom isn’t spotless. I like it and I hope other people do too.

Anyway, when Peter and I got up to walk home last night, around 10:30, we opened the front door to find the world carpeted in white, thick snowflakes falling down. There’s magic in making the first footsteps on a snowy landscape, in the way the flakes look under streetlights at night. It came down thick and fast and it was beautiful. The walk home wasn’t long but it was beautiful.

This morning we woke up to see that it must have snowed most of the night. We’ve got about seven inches here and it’s just now doing what we on the West Coast call “slushing”. That’s where it’s still snowing but it’s wet and doesn’t stick.

Again, I don’t have my camera, so here are some pictures from an earlier snowfall a couple of months ago.

The River a few blocks away

The river near us hasn’t frozen over completely and I don’t know if it will, but it does freeze along the edges which looks pretty cool.

Miracle birds at the Library

It does freeze over on the pond by the Library. The ducks and seagulls seem to love it. In a confused sort of way, I guess.

It’s greyer today than in those photos but the snow always gives a sort of brightness. We walked over to the grocery store to stock up on a few things in case this weather lasts a while. Unfortunately, our car is not so trustworthy in the snow so I do hope it melts by Monday morning when Peter goes back to work. On our way to the store we passed three people using snow blowers. When we saw the first one, Peter turned to me and said, “I’ve never seen one of those.” And, truth be told, I don’t think I have either. Not in real life at least. And definitely not privately owned by someone so they could clear off their own driveway. Also on the way to the grocery store we saw two ATVs, one young guy just doing circles in the high school parking lot. No one back home would ever own an ATV because where the heck would you ride it? Just another reminder that this place is a little different. Or that we’re not your typical Canadians. Whatever that might be.

 

Island, n., Piece of land surrounded by water

Yesterday Peter and I took off for an afternoon adventure. The sky was blue, the weather was crisply cold and there was a park nearby that we hadn’t visited yet. The park is called Island 22 and is very much not an island. I can say this as someone who lived on an island for the last eight years and owns a dictionary (OED, yo!). But in this part of the world, they seem to think a river on one side, a ditch on the other, sure, that can be an island. I’m not buying it. No matter, Island 22 was lovely and we had a beautiful walk. We discovered a semi-hidden beach that I plan to revisit when the weather gets warm and scoped a lot of potential blackberry-picking spots.

I wish I had pictures but I don’t because my camera is somewhere between my house and my in-laws’ right now and I don’t have the cable that lets me upload pictures from my camera. So here is a picture of another local “island”.

This is not far across the river from our house.

Almost everyone we passed yesterday at the park was walking a dog. One day, Peter and I tell each other constantly, we too will have a dog. In the meantime, this is what we do have…

Vern and I - he looks so young to me now.

That’s Vern. He’s an asparagus fern. Those pictures are from the summer; he’s much bigger now. We’re so proud.

A Family Picture.

Today I do some work on the job front and got a library card. Getting the library card was more fun. I had to wait until I’d updated my address and so I’ve been using Peter’s in the meantime and am always nervous that they’ll turn it over and ask why my parent’s gave me a man’s name.

I haven’t been super impressed with the selection in-library – it leans heavily to Christian romance and self-help – but it’s part of a regional system so I’m excited to see what I’m able to order in. And the cooking section is fantastic. I’ve never gotten cook books from the library but I’ve been cooking more than ever since we moved so it’s a great option. Today I came home with The Best of Chef at Home by Michael Smith. We have guests for dinner tomorrow so I plan on trying his lasagna recipe.

I currently have buttermilk scones in the oven. I’ve tried lots of scone recipes over my twenty-six years and this is by far the easiest and most delicious. I ate them at my sister-in-law’s baby shower over a year ago and got a copy of the recipe photocopied out of a book but have no idea what book it’s from. The important part though is that they’re delicious.

Commit to Grace

“Belief that you are accepted by God by sheer grace is profoundly humbling. The people who are fanatics, then, are so not because they are too committed to the gospel but because they’re not committed to it enough.”        – Timothy Keller

The above quote is taken from The Reason For God by Timothy Keller. I’m reading it right now. It’s terrific. I really like the way he outlines things so clearly. I especially like that he takes an intellectual view of Christianity.  I could share a lot more quotes from what I’ve read so far but I think that could quickly drift from the realm of “blogging” to the realm “breaking copy write laws”. Besides, you should read it.

This quote seemed to match nicely with what Peter and I read together this morning in John 7. The Pharisees are so caught up in the fact that Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath that they missed out on what was right in front of them. I wonder about Nicodemus in this passage. He’s recently had a pretty intense conversation with Jesus but we don’t really know where his heart is here. He makes something of an attempt to stand up to the others but rather then say, “Hey, I think this guy could be the Messiah. Let’s listen to Him,” he takes the stand of, “Hey, everyone deserves a fair trail.” To me, that sounds like a guy who wants to stop them but is scared of drawing attention to himself or of identifying himself with Jesus. Nicodemus doesn’t seem to want to commit.

I want to be totally taken up with the “sheer grace” of God. I want to learn just how mind-blowing that really is.

Today I hung out with a super awesome, long time friend who (fortunately for me) happened to move to this place first. How we both ended up here seems rather random at times but I’m thankful for it and how God uses her in my life. Friends rock. It’s hard being away from the friends we had so I’m extra thankful when I get to hang out with her.

My husband is awesome.

One of the best things about being married is that your best friend comes with you when you make big moves. I’m thankful for that too.

So You’ve Decided To Start a Blog…

This is me on the internet. We’ll see how it goes. This is me adjusting to life in the smallest city I’ve ever lived in. I hope this blog will be a bit of fun in chronicling my path as an aspiring writer and novelist, as well as a city girl’s move to a place where I regularly see cows and horses, where corn is a delicacy, and where people listen to country music. At church this morning I saw a man wearing a bolo tie and cowboy boots. I have officially moved to another world and it’ll take some getting used to. Especially that fertilizer smell.

 

Image

This is my home town.

ImageThis is where I live now. I’ve never lived so far from the ocean.

I’ve called my blog “realizinggrace” for two reasons.

I was born to Canadian parents in Hong Kong and so was given a Chinese name early on to go with my English name. My parents decided to choose a name connected to the meaning of my English name, which means grace. My Chinese name literally translates to realizing grace.

More importantly though, realizing grace is something I want to strive for in my life. I want to learn more every day about the grace and character of God. I want to recognize His grace in my life. Although living where I do now wouldn’t have been my first choice, I believe that God has a plan and His grace will prevail. In this blog I hope to document my journey to learning more about that grace.

Thanks for tagging along!