February 28, 2010

Reverse Lent

I have been thinking about Lent recently. Since it started, really. I'm not sure why I didn't start thinking about it sooner, but better late than never, right?

Last year, I gave up dessert.
In 2008, I gave up music.

This year, as I've been ruminating on it, nothing jumped out. Not that my life is perfect or ideally balanced. But there hasn't been anything that I've settled on and thought, This is what I should give up.

And then I had another thought. What if I didn't give anything up? What if I added something to my life instead?

The point of Lent (from what I understand) is to give something up that helps us refocus and reflect on Jesus. Well what if I can get the same result by putting something new in place?

The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea. Especially because (this may come as a shocker) I don't actually read my Bible every day. I know...you would think that someone in "full-time ministry" for nearly four years would be a better Christian than that!

In the past year, I've felt great freedom from the sort of legalism that has seeped throughout much of my life when it comes to things like this. And now I find myself at a place where I want more time with Jesus and with the Bible, not because I should but because it makes me happy.

So it seems obvious that this Lent, instead of giving something up, I'm adding something in.

I'm gonna start every day with Jesus. First thing. Gonna keep my Bible and my journal right next to my bed, and before I turn on my computer, check my email or eat my breakfast, I'm going to sit up and dig in.

I'll let you know how it goes.

February 26, 2010

Florence Again

This is the song in my head today. I haven't listened to her album in at least a month. But I'm rectifying it right now.


Happiness, it hit her like a train on a track

Coming towards her, stuck still no turning back
She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with a drink
and washed it away down the kitchen sink

The dog days are over
The dog days are done
The horses are coming so you better run

Run fast for your mother run fast for your father
Run for your children and your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your loving behind you
Can’t carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
the dog days are done
Can’t you hear the horses
Cuz here they come

And I never wanted anything from you
Except everything you had
and what was left after that too. oh.

Happiness it hit her like a bullet in the mind
Stuck them up drainpipes
by someone who should know better than that

The dog days are over
The dog days are gone
can you hear the horses
Cuz here they come

Run fast for your mother and fast for your father
Run for your children for your sisters and brothers
Leave all your love and your loving behind you
Can’t carry it with you if you want to survive

The dog days are over
The dog days are gone
Can you hear the horses because here they come

February 24, 2010

Lady Problems

Warning: Decidedly girl-ish content. If my post about childbearing was bothersome, you should probably skip this one. If you're a boy, you're not allowed to judge me for the content of this post. (Called it)

I don't usually talk about Aunt Irma. My time of the month. High tide. You know. Not in general and definitely not on my blog.

But I just need to say this: I don't think I can handle it.

I don't know how we do it, ladies. If we go with a generous estimate and say that a girl starts getting her period at 12 and the average age of menopause is 51, that is 39 years.

THIRTY-NINE YEARS of pain, emotional chaos and mess on a monthly basis - excepting the times when we're pregnant, but childbirth pretty much makes up for nine months of missing out...

There have been countless occasions where I (or my roommates) wonder to ourselves, What is wrong with me? Am I going crazy?? Two days later, we say to each other, Ohhhhhhhhhhhh. You'd think I'd get it by now...but every time I am so confused by my own head.

Then this morning I got hit with the most massive wave of cramps that I have EVER experienced.

I took an Advil Liqui-gel as soon as I felt that pinchy little rumble start...ten minutes later, I closed my computer and thought of calling it quits for the day. I took another pill. I found that hot water bottle.

My insides were beating me up. Punching me all over on their way out. I curled up in a ball and waited for death.

Forty-five minutes later, I could breath deeply again. I almost fell asleep, and dang it, I deserved a nap for surviving.

On days like today, I find this incredibly comforting. And hilarious.

The point is: I am glad I don't live in the past. If I have to bleed on a regular basis, I will take Advil and hot water bottles, time off work, and hygiene products that aren't a pile of rags. I like that I am not declared "unclean" for seven days a month.

Yup, I said all that. And someday (maybe) we should talk about the Diva Cup on here. Maybe.
Boys, don't google that one. You don't want to know.

February 22, 2010

"Sigh No More" - Sigh.

I've already blogged a bunch about Mumford & Sons. Enough that some of you have picked them up as a great new band, and at least one of you got to see them perform. I am not at all jealous.

Which is a lie. But now I'm moving on.

I can't choose a favourite song. Every time I think I've decided, I listen to another song and think, Nope. That one. I just can't get over the brilliant lyrics and movement of the music.

Yesterday on the plane, I had a refrain circling in my head, and I couldn't place which song it was from until I got out the CD (not yet available in N. America, purchased in the UK!) and read through the lyrics booklet. Turns out it is from "Sigh No More."

Love will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be

I grabbed my journal, wrote it in and then jotted down,

It's spinning through my mind and I want it - I want to love people in a way that makes them more of themselves. And I want to be more of who I'm meant to be as I realize the reality of love - from God and from others - and the confidence that comes with it.


The current second-place for my favourite lyric is from "Roll Away Your Stone" -

Darkness is a harsh term don't you think
And yet it dominates the things I seek

Scotland. Summed.

I feel obligated to write a wrap-up post on my trip to Scotland. My thoughts can be summarized with these sentences:

It was a successful trip. I hate throwing up. I love my coworkers.

these photos:(above) The Necropolis in Glasgow. Possibly my favourite cemetery. I took photos of several epitaphs that I liked.
(above) This is my favourite stained glass at the Museum of Religious Life & Art. On the left is young Samuel. On the right is Samuel as an old man. In the middle...I forget. (above) Loch Lomond. With Ben Lomond in the background. We stood on the shore and hummed "The Bonny Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond." Cliche? Yes.

and these quotes:

We are ordering dinner.
"Oh and fries. (the waiter leaves)... Did I just order something?"
"Um, yes..."
"Did I? What did I say? I don't remember..."

Another evening at dinner. One colleague says something that really impresses her husband.
Husband: "I could just reach across this table and kiss you right now..."
Wife: "No."
Husband: "...but that would mean my scarf would drag through my gravy..."
Wife: "Don't kiss me."
Husband: "...and I know that you would be upset at me...for getting gravy on my scarf."

Three of us are trying to figure out the rental car's GPS.
Observing colleague: "Harumph. That is what I say to technology."
(I have never heard someone actually and literally say "Harumph" before.)

Driving through beautiful terrain, we wish one colleague had come so that we could hear his expressions of joy and awe at the loveliness of our surroundings. The phone rings. It is him.
"We were just thinking of you! Wishing that you were here so you could talk about how beautiful the view is. If I put you on speakerphone, could you say, "Isn't that beautiful?""
(He obliges, but the emphasis isn't quite right)
"Could you say it one more time? Like you're describing your wife."
"Can she hear me?"
"Yup. She's right here."
"Oh, okay. She's bee-yoo-tee-ful."
(We all smile.)

February 17, 2010

Sick in Scotland. Again.

Two years ago, my trip to Scotland took a surprise turn when I got influenza. The actual influenza. I didn't leave my room for 4 days.

Last night, I once again got hit. It started out with a couple of rosy cheeks. I thought, Wow, I'm pretty tired.

Then it was dinner time. I wasn't really hungry, but I thought, No, I should definitely eat something. Nachos were a bad idea.

For the record, I would rather be ill with strep throat or bronchitis or something equally terrible for a WEEK than spend ONE night vomiting. It's just the most terrible feeling on earth.

By bedtime, my stomach was aching and my head was throbbing. I'm not sure if this is one illness or two at once. Three and a half sleepless hours later, I spent a little time in the bathroom. Three and a half hours after that, I should have been getting up for the day.

Instead, I rolled over and slept for a few hours more. And then a few hours after that.

In between naps, I have poached internet to catch up on emails from friends, the latest Olympics news (gold medal number 2!), and the 200+ items in my Google Reader.

Now it is evening, and I can't sleep again until bedtime. Or else I won't sleep at bedtime.

One of the students came by with an entire loaf of bread, crackers, and tea. She found out which I wanted then went down to the kitchen to prepare it. Brought it back, and told me about her day.

She is a sweetheart who oozes joy. Before she left, she asked if she could pray for me. And in her heartfelt prayer, I was encouraged.

I could spend the rest of the night watching TV online - I am falling behind on AND Bones, House AND The Office. But instead, I think I am going to open up my Bible and my journal spend some time with Jesus.

And then I'm going to sleep.

February 15, 2010

Cemeteries, Cathedrals, Conflict

The weather changed every 20 minutes today.


No joke.

But content-wise, it was a lovely day and I wish I had the right cord for my camera so I could upload a photo or two. It may be creepy or geeky or both, but I love cemeteries and I love cathedrals.

I had tears in my eyes twice today. Once in a moment of heartfelt prayer. And once in the midst of resolving conflict.*

Conflict stresses me out. This isn't a new revelation, but it surprises me every time. Truly and deeply, it affects me. And I'm not always sure if it's really over even when both people agree it is. But I guess that is what the rest of this week will show.

That is all for today. I just need to stay awake long enough to ensure I'll sleep through the night tonight.

* Another factor is the reality that I've yet to sleep through the night here. Nights #1&2 we had noisy neighbours. Last night was silent, but against my own will, I woke up around 3 and lay in bed thinking til sometime after 5am.

February 12, 2010

Some Scotland Songs.

The amount of love that I have for the UK has not been talked about much lately. But let me tell you, it is great.

So I am writing this in advance, setting it up and letting the internet hit publish while I am somewhere mid-Atlantic, en-route for a ten-day work trip to Glasgow.

I've known for the last six months or so that this song is going to be key to this trip:

It's the lyric "Give me something to believe in, Give me something to believe" that gets me. I'm convinced that this is the way many university students are thinking.

Paolo Nutini is from Glasgow and a fantastic artist. Although, the fact that he never stands up straight or opens his eyes while performing gives him the look of a perpetual stoner. Which is possible.

Over the last week, I've been reminded of how much I love this song:

I really can't do this on my own. And I don't particularly want to. So this is my prayer.

I can't write about Scotland without including this next song. I think it's illegal.

In the fall, I saw Dougie perform live. I blogged about it, and how we each have our own "Caledonia."

Last pick.

Forgive the footage from 1989. Just goes to show how classic this folk tune is...I expect to hear it at least once during the week, either at a pub or the ceilidh.

February 11, 2010

Olympic Ceremony Secrets & Stand-Ins

Last night was the second dress rehearsal for the Olympics Opening Ceremonies. I was there.

I am sworn to secrecy about what I saw (or, as my friend Steph joked, VANOC may own the rights to my first-born child...). But I can tell you the following irrelevant things.

Small talk while I wait with my three hilarious friends for things to get started:
"I had a dream the other night that I was in Barack Obama's harem, and he called for me, and I came into his room, and when I saw him I thought, I knew it! He is the antichrist!

During the pre-show, there were a round of thank-you speeches to us, the volunteers. Four men stood on stage, waiting to talk to us. This potentially boring segment was made much funnier by my American friend.

Man #1: "...the mayor of Vancouver, His Worship, Gregor Robertson!"
His Worship!?
Uh, yup. That's what they call mayors...
Huh...Wow, he's young.
And not bad-looking.
Yup. I saw him on the skytrain last month. Just riding it home after work... It is possible that I giggled.

"...premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell!"
Premier? Is that like a governor?
(he is talking)
He sounds like a politician.
Yes. Yes, he does. But I like his glasses.

"...the prime minister of Canada, The Right Honourable Stephen Harper!"
This country is crazy. Can you imagine Obama just standing on stage like that, waiting?
Um, no...I guess not.
(we listen for a bit)
He's a real family sort of guy. You know, doesn't he look like the guy next door?
Yeah. I can totally picture him mowing the lawn.

During the ceremony itself, almost all major players (except for the entertainers) had stand-ins. As they sat the IOC & governmental officials, I got to explain Canadian government structure again. Sort of.
Governor-General? Is he like the Vice-President?
She's a she. And no, not like the VP...She's the queen's official representative in Canada.
Oh. So she doesn't really
do anything?
Sure she does. She prorogues parliament!
Nothing. You're right. She doesn't do anything...

I called the first headliner act. (fist pump) And the second one. (woot!) I did not guess the third.

The stand-in for another speaker got a rousing amount of applause with his introduction. He went on to read an assortment of facts about Vancouver to fill his 4-minute slot. The highlight:

"Vancouver is an ethically diverse city, with 52% of the population speaking a first language other than English."
Uh, ethically diverse??
Guy in front of us: Yeah. Some of us are bastards and some of us aren't.

As the Olympic flag was carried in, they began to announce the bearers. Since they are stand-ins and the real bearers are a surprise, they announce them by number.
Flag Bearer 1!
Flag Bearer 2!
(my friend leans over) Hey guys - I read on the internet that Flag Bearer 7 might be making an appearance! I guess we'll find out in a minute...
(we wait, faking eagerness)
Flag Bearer 7!
YES! I knew it!

That is all. I can't say anything more until Saturday. And WHO KNOWS if it will go down the same way on Friday. But I loved it. And hope you all do too.

February 10, 2010

Some Things Are Bigger Than The Olympics

I walked into the coffee shop bathroom and hearing someone talking, thought that both stalls were full. So I paused and waited, trying not to eavesdrop.

"The thing is, he actually loves you for who you are. And you need to just accept that."

Pause. No answer from the other stall.

"Yeah, you say that all the time. But you never do anything about it..."

Ah, phone. (While on the toilet...? this is something I will never understand)

"...yeah, tell me that when you actually get into recovery."

I am trying not to listen. But I feel sad for the person on the other end.

"You know, just because you're on the street doesn't mean that you can call anytime you want and just expect me to be there for you..."

Is that harsh? I'm not sure.

"I have things going on in my life too, you know. It would be nice if you were around when I needed a mother."


The conversation continued.
But my heart was broken.

February 7, 2010

Sundays, Skype, Superbowl?

Sunday afternoons are meant for two things: napping & catching up with far-away-friends. After a little lay-down I opted for a couple of Skype dates instead of the Superbowl.

Date #1:

Me: Hello? Can you hear me? Can you see me?
Friend: Why do you have butterflies on your sweater?
Me: Uh, because it is a butterfly sweater?
Friend: Where did you get it?
Me: Um, a bag of clothing?
Friend: Like the dumpster?
Me: (laughter) No... my housemate's girlfriend & her roommate were getting rid of clothes. It was in there, and I thought maybe I could pull it off...
Friend: Yeah, maybe...
Me: (faking surprise) What? You don't like it? How about this butterfly?? (I lean towards the webcam so she gets a good view of the butterfly on my shoulder...)
Friend: Mmmmm. (sarcastic)

Moral of the story: apparently I can't rock this sweater.

Sometimes I get distracted in conversations by unintentional and irrelevant pop-culture reference. Talking about roommate relationships (we lived together in university), I commented, "In a way, what goes around comes around..." and heard Justin Timberlake's voice in my head...

For the record, I don't like the content of this song, but I do like the sound of it. Specifically the use of the sitar. I think it's a sitar? Let's say it is.

Later on, she said something about worrying "if this is the new normal, how it's going to be from now on..." What I heard was David's voice.
"Is this going to be forever??"

The second skype call lasted the entire Superbowl...sometimes there is a lot to say.

Apparently the Saints won? Go Saints.

Sunday Starters #6

I lack perseverance, and last week's starter didn't get much action. But I will continue and hope that maybe the rest of the world was as busy as I was this past week.

For this week:

When I roll over and look at the clock...

From last week's post:

It wouldn't have made any difference if...
...she'd picked the top bunk or the bottom bunk. Either way, this was going to be a miserable week at camp.

(bonus points goes to anyone who knows the song that starter came from)

February 4, 2010

Armour Bearing.

One of my friends makes a point of counting her blessings/things she's grateful for as she blogs. If you just start reading her blog, it would be very confusing, because in the middle of an entry she does something like this (32). And then you think, What's that 32 for? And it's the 32nd blessing she's counted.

I like this because it develops an attitude of gratitude. (how is that for a TERRIBLE rhyme?)

A couple weeks back, the message from my church a focused on 1 Samuel 14 - these verses in particular stood out:

Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, "Come, let's go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few." "Do all that you have in mind," his armor-bearer said. "Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul."

Jonathan's man had his back. He was there heart and soul in a risky endeavour. And that is a good friend. Interestingly, later on Jonathan got to be that man for David. Because life is a give and take - sometimes you bear the armour, and sometimes you need an armour-bearer.

I have been thinking about this and realized that I have many good friends. At least half a dozen here and half a dozen in Ontario that I could be completely and utterly honest with and know that it would be okay. That gives me incredible joy. Some people don't even have one friend like that. This makes me sad.

So tonight, I am grateful for my friends (1). I'm glad that there are people who have my back and are with me heart and soul (2). And I love that I can be that person to them (3).

February 2, 2010

Tuesday's Tunes

Every day is music day where I live.

I've been going crazy with free music over the past few months (some links will be coming soon, as soon as I deliver on my recent mix CDs - I don't want to jeopardize the "newness" of the music I'm sending). Yesterday I made two playlists - one of everything I added to my library in Jan & Feb, and one from Nov & Dec. Altogether, more than 700 items. And we're only on DAY TWO of February.

I have so many beautiful tunes that I've barely even noticed!*

Doveman - Angel's Share

Fyfe Dangerfield - When You Walk In the Room
(on the mix CDs!)

*it may be that my music frenzy leads into new-music-fatigue. The problem with the accessibility of the internet is that it's overwhelming. Too much music. Too much art. Too many written things. I just can't take it all in. But I seem to try anyway.

(begin hyperventilating)

February 1, 2010

Not a Mother

I am not a mother.

Although I like babies & children a lot (in certain contexts and quantities), there is a lot about childrearing and, more specifically, childbearing, that I do not know.

The joy (and sometimes doom) of having friends who are married and/or mothers means that sometimes I get to learn things I just didn't need to know.

And then I blog about them.

So if you don't need to know things about childbearing, I suggest you stop reading here.

Continue at your own risk. Content may be disturbing to some readers.

In the summer of 2008, my friend Vanessa was prego with her first baby. At the time, we were spending six weeks on a missions project in Calgary, and had lots of time to hang out and talk. I was there the first time she felt the baby kick. Sometimes we talked about the impending birth and the things she was learning about motherhood. One of the books she was reading was called something like The Mother of All Pregnancy Books or Things Your Mother Didn't Tell You...

She shared with me this anecdote from the book, and two and a half years later, I remember it almost verbatim -

You know, they say that when you give birth, you may experience a slight burning sensation...well, they lied. It's more like an ****ing blowtorch.


Yesterday I attended a baby shower and the mom-to-be was telling us about pre-natal classes.

Fascinating stuff that you learn there.

For instance, there are four options when it comes to cutting the umbilical cord:
  1. Clamp & cut it immediately.
  2. Wait until it stops 'pulsing' then clamp & cut.
  3. Wait until the placenta leaves the body, then clamp & cut.
  4. Wait for the body to reject it naturally. This involves carrying the baby & umbilical cord around STILL ATTACHED TO THE PLACENTA for roughly a week.**
** another attendee at this shower works in genetics research that uses placentas, and described the smell of a week-old placenta in overwhelmingly negative ways.

There are also many things that you can do with the placenta.
  1. Throw it away. Actually, they take it and incinerate it.
  2. Bury it and plant a tree on the site. You know have placenta-pears in honour of your son's birth.
  3. Keep it in a jar. Start teaching science & reproduction to your children at a young age. In their bedroom.
  4. Eat it. Apparently this helps ward off post-partum depression. You can send it away to have it dehydrated and made into pills, or, if you like to do things yourself, just pop it into a tasty placenta lasagna.

Now that I'm done throwing up in my mouth, I am rethinking all the daydreams and glamour of having a baby.

I think TV and the movies have done us a stark dis-service in the way they've cleaned up childbirth. Women used to know what they were getting into - they would have seen & heard it, and probably helped a time or two. At least with animals, if not humans. Now...it's all a mystery.

And I'm being enlightened.


(for the record, I'm grateful that I have friends from whom I can learn these things sooner rather than later)

Sunday Starters #5 (on Monday)

Yesterday was too busy to blog, and I didn't plan ahead with an auto-post, so here is this week's starter:

It wouldn't have made any difference if...

And from last week:

I hope I'm half as lovely as Meryl Streep*, as wise as my mom*, and twice as gracious as the checkout lady*.... when I'm sixty-four.

*To my knowledge, none of these people are actually sixty-four at the moment. Just in case you were about to make fun of my momma for being old, or my lack of Meryl Streep knowledge.