Thursday, January 02, 2014

2014 Daybook

Outside My Window
It's dark...it's 11:14 p.m....it's also freezing cold outside. It was around -24 C outside today. That is VERY cold, for the Ottawa Valley, and for this time of year.

I Am Listening To
A quiet house...and the latest episode of Elementary that I'm watching as I type this post. 

I Am Wearing
My favourite jeans...I can wear them again!!!! I feel so good about that...happy dance. Ahem. A striped t-shirt, and an afghan. 

I Am Thankful For
A great Christmas holiday with family. It was great having my mum and my brother here. I am also thankful for a few days between family leaving and school going back in next Monday morning. I am also thankful for warm clothing and a warm house.

I Am Pondering
My day tomorrow...pondering ideas of what to wear to my brother's band performance at the Lincoln Centre in a couple months' time...pondering this big new year all stretched out ahead of me. 

I Am Reading
Almost finished War Brides by Melynda Jarratt.
About half-way through Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel.
And I bought 3 new books with money from Christmas: The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller; Six Wives by David Starkey; The Women of the Cousins' War by Philippa Gregory. I was also given a copy of  By Faith, Not By Sight by Scott MacIntyre. 

I Am Thinking
Of what to make to stock my freezer with; of my day tomorrow; of the week coming up next week, and the return to a normal rhythm here; thinking of many things.

I Am Creating
I have nothing on the knitting needles right now. I hope to get back to my quilted table runner soon. And, I have plans for making a new paper-lolly wreath for the door of the Powder Room...something to take me from Christmas to spring/Easter.

Toward Rhythm & Beauty
Slowly, things are returning to the normal rhythm here. This weekend, the Christmas decorations will start to come down....the winter decor will stay up and perhaps get added to. The regular school day rhythm starts up again next week, which will be a blessing for the kids...they are getting to the point where they need the routine and structure.

To Live the Liturgy
And here is where I have a plan: to start getting up at 5:30 a.m. again. I have needed, and missed, the time of morning stillness, by myself with my Bible, prayer book, and cup of coffee, to ground me before the day starts. Yes, I think this is necessary, and I'm looking forward to this. 

Hoping & Praying
Praying for dear friends as they are in a time of discernment over where to serve God in foreign missions.
Praying for another friend whose husband's job takes him away from home for weeks at a time. 
And praying for my own family and marriage.

In the Garden
Buried under snow. Waiting for spring. But plans are being made.

Around the House
Tidying things up; loose ends of cleaning up are still to be done; some bits and pieces of organizing; and the switch from Christmas to winter decorating around the house. Also some baking and cooking for the freezer must happen before next week, as well as a menu plan and mapping out of the daily routine. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Daybook- Heading into The First Sunday in Christmastide

Outside My Window
It's dark...it's night out now. I guess technically, this isn't a daybook then, right?!  Today was cloudy and overcast, mostly, but very mild. A nice break from the deep cold we've had up till now. The flip-side to this is sloppy slush underfoot and lots of dirty spray up on the windshield when driving. 

I Am Listening To
The Ottawa Senators v. Boston Bruins game on the TV. Currently, the score is 4-3 for Ottawa with 2:21 left in the 3rd period. 

I Am Wearing
A peasant-style t-shirt and jeans...with the ubiquitous Canadian wintertime salt stain on the back of my driving leg. 

I Am Thankful For
Having my Mum and brother here for Christmas; family time spent together in the kitchen and around the table; crokinold, Battleship, and other board games; iPhone fun; Youtube fun; hockey game fun.

I Am Pondering
Changes ahead for 2014 in my life; what I will make for supper tomorrow night; lots of ideas that I'm pondering right now, touching on many aspects of my personal life.

I Am Reading
War Brides by Melynda Jarratt
The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex by Sheila-Wray Gregoire 
Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish
Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Starkey
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

I Am Thinking
About changes ahead for 2014. Specifically changes I would like to make in my personal faith walk; changes I want to make in my physical life; changes I would like to make in my use of time and talents. Lots of ideas, lots of thinking...soon, a plan will formulate.

I Am Creating
I'm actually not physically creating right now. I have a couple ideas of things I'd like to knit. I also would like to make a paper-lolly wreath that is wintery but not Christmasy. 

Toward Rhythm & Beauty
Family all leave by the 1st of January. After that, one of my goals is to restore daily rhythm in our home, leading up to the kids going back to school on the 6th. Some of this will dovetail with the changes I want and need to make in my personal life. We will see what transpires! 

To Live the Liturgy
This is one of the areas of personal change and development I want to work on in the coming year. 2013 has seen this area of my life fall off, really badly, if I'm honest with myself. I know we all go through times and seasons, and I'm trying to not beat myself up too badly about this...but it needs help. And help is on the way...I hope! :)

Hoping & Praying
Praying for friends of ours as they follow God's leading to the mission field and discern where He wants them to serve.
Praying for my DH who is working on a deadline and a very involved and hard project for his job. I know he will shine, I know he will do well. I just pray that God helps him have confidence and trust the abilities that He has gifted him with.

In the Garden
Buried under snow.
But I'm already thinking of what I will be starting as seedlings! 

Around the House
Finishing up the laundry that seems to have piled up...despite me having it, I thought, done when company came...hmmm...
Getting things put away...
Focusing on areas that need to be deep-cleaned over this year...


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to you all from all of us!






Sunday, December 15, 2013

3rd Sunday in Advent Daybook

Outside My Window
It is snowing, just a wee bit. Our snow fell overnight, and we were able to get out this morning and get to church. It wasn't too bad...except the side streets, as usual, weren't plower...and have yet to be plowed. It's not pitch-dark out either. Always a good thing, this time of year.

I Am Listening To
DS is watching the Beethoven Christmas movie on TV. The neighbour is shovelling off his back deck. Otherwise, it is fairly calm and quiet here. 

I Am Wearing
Red sweater and jeans. My favourite jeans...which I got a size smaller!!!!!!! Go, me!

I Am Thankful For
Being able to get out to church this morning. 
Having only a sinus cold, as opposed to an "everything" cold. 
Competent and helpful lab technicians, who know how to do blood work without my arm feeling it for days afterwards.
Getting Christmas baking done. 
Talking to Mum on the phone...simple, but I am very thankful, even if I'm not always using, modern communication technologies. 
Thankful that both of my kids were born in the 21st century, where having a c-section isn't a death sentence to Mum or babe. 

I Am Pondering
Making shortbread cookies tonight...and possibly some Bailey's fudge. Because? Yummers!!!

I Am Reading
War Brides by Melynda Jarratt.
Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel.
Issues of Canada's History Magazine.
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

I Am Thinking
I am thinking about what a crazy world we live in: we shelter our kids so much, from so many things...things that are necessary parts of life and living here on Planet Earth...things that are not always pleasant, such as people getting sick and dying. And then we wonder why our kids turn to, oh say, alcohol and drugs to cope when they can't deal anymore. Strange, I know. (Yes, I'm sarcastic...that was sarcastic.) I am thinking that I want to make sure my kids are raised to know that things happen in our life, things that aren't always pleasant and "happy" but that they are to be faced in light of the Gospel and the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. 

I Am Creating
Christmas baking! I made a batch of Peanut Butter Blossoms yesterday, and a batch of Chocolate Crinkles. I made Caramilk Fudge last week, and Cookie Treats. I still have Shortbread Cookies and Bailey's Fudge to make. 
Other than that, I'm not creating a whole lot. I have pictures waiting to go into scrapbook layouts. And I'm looking for just the right knitting project to start on the needles. Soon, I hope.

Toward Rhythm & Beauty
This season has its own rhythm. This will change on Thursday of this week, as that is the last day of school till the New Year. My Mum and brother will come on the weekend and that will change the rhythm here for a little while. Beauty....what isn't beautiful about this season of Advent, and then Christmas? 

To Live the Liturgy
This is still "under construction." I still haven't found the right combination of time, Bible reading and prayer yet. My prayers feel haphazard, rather than planned and reliable. This will need some thought, planning, discernment, and attention...which will happen all too soon. I hope to have a plan to put into action come the New Year.

Hoping & Praying
Praying for friends and acquaintances who struggle with depression at this time of year. 
I am also praying for the transitions and changes ahead for our church community. 

In the Garden
Buried under snow till April-ish.

Around the House
This week will need attention to the house: cleaning top to bottom, preparing for family coming on the weekend, and deep cleaning of the Powder Room. That room, the smallest in the house, is showing the worst signs of needing a deep clean. I had hoped to have found a garland for the staircase bannister, but haven't found one I really like...so it shall wait till next year...or end of season clearance! :)


Thursday, December 12, 2013

So, it happened again this week. This time, it was someone from a high-profile ministry and family. The son of US President Barack Obama's spiritual leader, Isaac Hunter, committed suicide, tragically leaving behind a wife and 3 young children. He was only 36 years old...that is only 1 year younger than DH and I. Kind of makes you stop, take pause, and think. 
Part of me wonders if this might raise the profile of the tragedy of suicide and suicide prevention amongst the Christian community. I hope it will. I hope that one of the positives that comes out of this unspeakable tragedy will be that we finally start talking about, and bringing to light, things that should be talked about and dealt with honestly and with the grace and mercy of the Gospel. I hope that we can talk about our need to grieve and mourn with those who mourn...instead of caving into the rat-race that is our society and rushing off to the next thing...under the guise of "getting over it."
The other part of me wonders: if a pastor who believed in the hope and grace of the Gospel found himself experiencing his own "dark night of the soul" as Saint John of the Cross so eloquently penned...and found himself with, in his mind likely, nowhere to turn, no one to turn to, and with no hope...what does that say for the rest of us? Would we do any different? Would we be willing to reach out, beyond and out of ourselves, if we were experiencing our own crisis? More to the point: would we be willing to be one of those who would be there for someone else? Would we listen, point to Jesus, pray, comfort, mourn and weep, and just sit with someone who needed it? Would we reach out past our limitations to someone else, if we perceived they were a harm to themselves? Or would we find something else "more important" that needed our time? Would we make some awkward and lame excuse for why we couldn't be there? Would we make sure the other person knew our thoughts about "those people" who dealt with mental issues, dealt with depression? Would we be supportive of someone who needed to take medication to cope with life...or would we let them know of how they weren't letting God be their all in all if they took medication? 
I find it sobering to think of a pastor finding himself with, seemingly, no other option than to commit suicide to escape the pain of life. In one way I am not surprised...who are pastors going to turn to? We are the ones who turn to them for help...who are they going to turn to? Is a congregation going to be willing to support and walk with a pastor through a time of crisis such as this? I'd like to think we could do that....we are called to, after all. But, knowing these things like I do, I find it more believable that a congregation might just as well find a way to let the pastor go...or, worse, hang out to dry. 
There is much here to give pause. Do we expect too much of our pastors? Do we put them on such a pedestal, that when they have weaknesses and failings of their own (they are, as we, sinners saved by grace), suicide seems a legitimate option? Do they see the way we interact with one another and know that if we aren't willing to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with other parishioners, we surely won't do that with them? 
So on Sunday...Rejoicing Sunday...the 3rd Sunday of Advent...let's look on others with grace. We don't know what others are dealing with in their inner selves...we don't know if they are having their own "dark night of the soul." Let's try and believe the best about one another, as we are urged to in 1 Corinthians 13, and not write each other off. And also? Let's extend that same grace and mercy to our pastors, and realize they are fallen and struggle as we do, too. Especially at this time of year, let's keep an eye out for whom among us may be struggling and not coping well. 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Daybook - First Week in Advent

Outside My Window
4:45 p.m. and it's almost dark. The  whole back yard is covered in snow (I do live in Canada, after all!).

I Am Listening To
Silence in the house...kids just got home from school and are doing their reading. One kid is practicing their piano lesson. 

I Am Wearing
A long-sleeved t-shirt (made in Canada...yay for Costco carrying made in Canada products), jeans, bare feet. Bare feet you say? I go barefoot in the house almost all year 'round. I really shouldn't because I do have plantar fasciitis, and it's better for me to wear a good supportive pair of sneakers...however, old habits die hard.

I Am Thankful For
Entering into the season of Advent. I so love this time of year...preparation, anticipation, and waiting. 
For my new MacBook Air, upon which I am typing this blog post. My other netbook was dying a slow and painful death...hastened, no doubt, by my spilling a cup of coffee on the keyboard about a year or more ago. Can I just say...I love Apple...simple, easy to do setup of this laptop just made my day. My husband is my in-house tech support...I didn't need him for the setup. 
Also thankful for my family. 

I Am Pondering
Pondering Genesis 16:13 yesterday and today. The name of God here, El Roi, the God who sees me...meets me where I am right now. 
Also pondering ways to keep the kitten from climbing the Christmas tree and knocking off ornaments. Ahem.

I Am Reading
War Brides by Melynda Jarratt. This is a book all about, mainly, WWII war brides who came to Canada. The book is broken down by province. There is also a chapter at the end that deals with WWI war brides and their experiences. A most interesting read. The culture shock some of these women had, and braved, was immense. 
The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. I am really enjoying this book for our Advent traditions here at home.
Grace Filled Marriage by Tim Kimmel. Oh this book...THIS BOOK. Such a good read. I'm about 1/4-1/3 into it, and it's just...so good. 
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Elaine Mazlish. Also very good, but not one to skip through. Taking my time with this one.
Also, issues of Canada's History magazine. My Mum gifts me with a subscription to this every year for my birthday, and I just love it. This year, though, for some reason, I've been reading so many other books, that I've fallen behind in reading these, and as a result have several issues to "catch up on." 

I Am Thinking
About the rest of the Christmas baking I need/want to do. Actually I'm doing pretty good...about 1 thing every day or so, and I'm getttin' her done. Also thinking about DH's work holiday party tomorrow night...TOMORROW NIGHT...man, how did that happen so fast???? Yikes.

I Am Creating
I finished knitting a scarf from the sock yarn one skein wonders book. I did so well...so well. I learned a new thing: grafting, using the Kitchener stitch. This scarf you knit in 2 parts, and then graft together. I read how to do it. I watched an online video tutorial of how to do it, and then grafted along with the video, slowly, till I could do it on my own. And? The ridge that *should* be on the wrong side, is on the right side. GAHHHHHHHHH.

Toward Rhythm & Beauty
The rhythm has changed to adjust with the season, both of Advent and winter. I love this time of year, in a way, even though Fall and Spring are my favourite seasons. The beauty part is all around...I love decorating and making things seasonal with decor and my own touches around here. Christmas and Advent are fun seasons to decorate for. The trees are both up and trimmed...decor is up and it's looking nice here. I love it. 

To Live the Liturgy
I am making changes here. The kidney stone episode of a couple weeks ago is behind me, but in its wake has been a slew of catching up on things around the house, and getting back in the saddle again with Bible reading and prayer. The lack of this is showing...sigh...

Hoping & Praying
Hoping we do not get the freezing rain/rain and warm temperatures here...because here, at this time of year, it is followed by a flash-freeze...which turns everything into a skating rink and is treacherous for man, beast, and vehicle. 
Praying: that my Xray will show the kidney stones gone...and that my follow up lab work will show my doctor what is causing the stones; for our church as we head into a year of transition and uncertainty (I'm calling it the year of "pray to God, but row for the shore"); praying for mercy and grace.

In the Garden
The garden is buried under snow, and will remain that way till spring, DV. I am thinking about next year's garden. I didn't get the garden cleared out, nor my garlic planted, as I had hoped to this fall. Also, DH didn't get the lumber and build my other raised bed. So, those will happen in the spring. Mostly, I will be planting the same things as this year, but will be rotating my crops. I hope to add dill to the herbs...it was a fail with seedlings this year, as was everything else I started from seed. I also want to start my seedlings much earlier this year, because I was very much behind the 8-ball this year.  I am pondering growing squash, but we will see...it needs a lot of room, and I don't know if I have the  room it would need to do well.

Around the House
I am managing to get things back under control here. The main floor is pretty much cleaned as it should be, now the upstairs needs some TLC. Also on the docket: deep cleaning the Powder Room. Small room, but it shows the "love" a bit more than some of the other rooms do. This year, I've deep cleaned the kitchen and dining room, and the kids' bathroom. One bit at a time, and it will get done. We also hauled a car-load of "junk" over to Value Village yesterday. I have 2 more boxes to take over, and then that will be it. I need to sort through the spare room/office before family arrives for Christmas, later this month. 




Wednesday, December 04, 2013

The God Who Sees Me

The turn of seasons again...this time from Fall, to Winter...from Thanksgiving to Advent. I love Advent...I like the anticipation, the drawing out of the celebrating Jesus' nativity. I like how it's not one day, one Sunday, one service...but each week unveils more and more of who He is, and why we are waiting. And Christmas...it's not just one day, either. It's a season...all 12 days of it! This is where I tell you I'm a liturgical Baptist! :D
With each turn of seasons come changes...bringing out new wardrobes and articles of clothing appropriate to the season. In the case of my children, going through their clothing to see what fits (or doesn't). Cleaning the home, decorating the home seasonally, all these things happen 4 times a year, at least.
It seems to me, that as we go through seasons in our lives, it can be a chance to re-organize, renovate, and de-clutter our spiritual lives too. For me, that is what this year has been like. Not one season but one year. As I walk through life and its challenges, I have come to believe that our faith isn't meant to be static. It is meant to be examined, to be challenged, to be tested. Not just for the fun of it, but so it becomes more and more a part of us. Faith is like exercising...use it or lose it...well, maybe not lose it entirely, but lose its usefulness or full range of motion. 
As I've walked through this year, the lucky 13 year, things have happened and come into my life to challenge me and my faith. Each challenge of faith has changed how I view God. I think this is what this year was meant to do for me...challenge, change and shape how I view God and interact with Him on a daily basis. In some ways, this year has been a dismantling of how I thought about God and who He is and how He works. My core beliefs and faith are the same...but where that intersects with me and my personal daily life is changing. 
The biggest area of change for me is how subtly I've internalized a thought that if I do what God asks me, or obey Him, then certain things will follow. I think we all, in our quieter moments, fall prey to this at one point or another. I never grew up believing the "Prosperity Gospel..." furthest thing from, in fact. However, somehow the thought that "good things come to those who obey" crept into my view and theology of God. The reality is, that's not how God works. What we think God should do often is not what He does, or allows, in our lives. It's hard to grasp that, and see it, in the midst of whatever it is that is rocking your world at the moment (rocking in a bad way, not good). 
I must also say, I have a good head knowledge of God and a good working theology of God, etc. However, how this plays out in my real life and my heart/emotions/everyday me, that is very different. Living in my head is safe...it's a contained, controlled (to some degree) environment. When I step out of my head into my everyday life of being wife, mum, sister, daughter, friend, believer...all bets are off. Who God is to me, personally...I don't do so well with. 
So, after having a week of feeling like every time I tried to come up for air, I was being pushed back under the water, and feeling like my spiritual world was being ripped out from under me...I am seeing glimpses of things changing. I am praying and getting a fresh vision of who God is to me personally...how God interacts with me, personally. I'm getting another glimpse of His mercy and grace. And just yesterday, it hit me...the names of God all reveal something very specific about who He is. El Roi, the God who sees me (see Genesis 16)...God...sees ME. ME, out of all the billions of people, all the things going on, all this big huge universe...and God sees ME...little old me. That's huge...and it so flies in the face of what I've been struggling with lately. My hope and prayer is that this will bring a deeper sense of peace and personal experience with who God is.