March 29, 2010


Originally uploaded by bethaf.
The highs are always followed by lows. It's pretty much coming back to Vancouver only to find out that I have to move in the next three weeks shouldn't really be a shocker.

Ontario was fantastic. I smiled endlessly and had a lovely time with my family, girls from university (HMac, Sprimmer, JFarq, Lola Q & Suzlump), Francy (and entourage), and Nadine.

The rest of my house doesn't need to move until the end of May...but since I won't be here, I don't get to wait that long.

This photo is old, but it's kind of how I'm feeling.

March 26, 2010

Risk & Beauty

A few weeks ago, I added another book to my half-read pile. I had to start The Four Loves by CS Lewis after my roommate shared this passage over a dinner discussion:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

I constantly fear tragedy. And not just romantic tragedy, but the general life-tragedy type.

Today over lunch, a friend commented that she's seen people walk away from Jesus - "one day turns into two days, and two days turns into three, and before you know're gone." This is one of my biggest fears - because I don't know how it happens, but it does. And I don't want it to happen to me. This song is often my prayer.

BUT I refuse to be driven by fears. I think we need to recognize the risks and the possibilities that we cannot protect ourselves from (or only at great cost), and then recognize that God is bigger and better than all that.

My all-time favourite word is redemption. This song (via Francy) reminds me that there is always hope for redemption, because Jesus makes beautiful things out of dust (us).

March 25, 2010


Jake doesn't wake up when his picture is taken. Unfortunately, I do. So, no more naptime for me.


March 21, 2010

Before & After & After

I got my haircut yesterday. Some of you have asked for photos. Here they are.

(PS - BIG shout-outs to Rhianna, who is the best and funniest hairdresser in the Lower Mainland. For her, I drive to Langley. Sigh.)

(look how sad I am)
(with STRAIGHT hair!)
After 2:
(with normal hair)

Not hair related. I purchased these shoes today. Because they are cute. They were on sale. And I think that I need them. I will wear them. While wearing them, I will sing this song:

March 20, 2010

Someone Else's Words

I have a dear friend who makes me laugh and cry and who hugs me like very few people hug. Our friendship is full of pauses and silence, and yet it has never been awkward. I have cried with her and I have cried for her, and the thing that makes me happiest is seeing how Jesus is working in her heart.

Last week, she sent me this in an email, and I teared up. Because I love her honesty. Because she and Jesus are getting better. Because these could be my words.

I often come home at the end of the day with a lot of baggage. I am tired, I am worn out. I say, "I wish I did a better job at this" or "I shouldn't have done that" or "I wish I was nicer today", or "I'm not proud of what I did' or "I don't actually like Jesus that much" or "I am not worthy". I get frustrated.

I have a post-it note in front of me on my desk...on which I have written some words. It says "Just having me back is ALL HE DESIRES". I love reading it, again and again, every day. Because it instantly pushes the pile of ugly thoughts away. It silences. It reminds me what Jesus wants isn't the carefully-crafted prayer or anything that would "make up" for all the rebellions, the denials, the stumbles, and the failures of the day. He isn't looking for something that would compensate in any form. It isn't like, "OK, you better come up with a good explanation for this mess. You have 2 minutes. Start now." It isn't like that at all. At the end of each day I look at these words and remember that yes, I am a mess, I run away,...but Jesus desires me back.

Not me + good excuses.
Not me + wordy apologies.
Just me.

March 19, 2010

Recent Conversations (A Small Leak)

(shadow people having anonymous & mysterious conversations)

On a friend ditching us early:
friend #1: "I'm just feeling really desolate, you know? I need to just go and be alone for awhile."
friend #2: "Just don't make any decisions..."
friend #1: "What!? (feigning disappointment) I was planning on jumping off the river!"
friend #2: "Off the river? Okay, sounds good to me..."
friend #1: "Wait! I mean...oh, you're laughing at me..."

On the recent spike in my texting habits:
friend #1: "He should get you a Blueberry."
friend #2: "You mean a Blackberry?"
friend #1: "Yes! that's what I mean...Blueberry, Blackberry. So similar!"

Another day, another friend...
me: "I mean, I feel confident he'll respect me, when he won't even touch a fourteen year-old's neck."
(pause) "Okay, that does sound weird."

More days later. More friends later. I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror...
me: I look terrible. Wow. I do not usually go out in public like this.
friend: You look fine.
me: (lowering my voice) I look butch.
friend: laughter
me: No, really. I look a bit like a lesbian*. Runners, jeans with a cuff. Frumpy brown wool sweater. Flat hair kind of in a ponytail. No bobby pins. No make up. Nose ring.
friend: I've never met a lesbian with a smile like yours. So just keep smiling.
me: you're saying that I do look like a lesbian - except for the smile.
friend: Well, I would never say it. But now that you point it out...the combination of everything...and when your face is more serious, you do look a little bit butch.
me: I KNEW IT! I need to go home.
*disclaimer: I'm well aware that lesbians do not all look alike. Nor do they all (or even mostly) look frumpy. I recognize that my statement is incredibly stereotypical and possibly offensive. If I have offended...I'm sorry. And please let me know. Gently. :)

And more goodness. On upcoming dates.
friend 1: I'm choosing to be cautiously non-terrified.
friend 2: That is the best way to be.
friend 1: It's hard to be "in the moment" and not in over-thinking mode.
friend 2: Yes. That is TRUE.
friend 1: I think part of the problem is that I don't go on enough dates.
friend 2: Ah, yeah. (refers to earlier conversation) It's like kissing. You just need practice...
friend 1: Ha ha ha, eeek!
friend 2: Frightening. And yet fun.
friend 1: Yes. Like a thrill ride. "I think I'm gonna die -- Wait. This is awesome."
friend 2: Mmhmm. Except for the part where I actually throw up on the thrill ride.
friend 1: Equivalent of butterflies/knots-in-stomach dates.
friend 2: Worse. Like physically can't handle it and will puke. Not just nervous nausea.
friend 1: Ah. Then maybe you should never go on a date to an amusement park. Disastrous.
friend 2: Oh man. It would be awful.

March 18, 2010

Springtime Study #4

Originally uploaded by bethaf.
And, to change it up a bit, a magnolia.
Love their smell.
I also really like the hint of a house you can see in the background.

Springtime Study #3

Sunny Blossoms
Originally uploaded by bethaf.
Sun + Cherry Blossoms + Camera = Goodness.

Springtime Study #2

Cherry Blossom Cluster
Originally uploaded by bethaf.
Trees. Beautiful, beautiful cherry trees.

Springtime Study #1

Cherry Branches
Originally uploaded by bethaf.
Um, what can I say? Spring in Vancouver is possibly the best thing on earth.

March 15, 2010

Green Light Go

So, Kim Jong Il called (okay, not really).

But we are in.

The official word is that I am going to the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea for three months to teach English to adults. Two of my good friends are also coming.

Departure is mid-April. Internet access (the other key piece of information) is unknown.

This may affect my blogging routine. Although I would love to keep writing from there. Is this possible? I don't even know.

There is a lot I don't know.

What I do know is that, as crazy as these last two months have been, I feel like I am right where I'm supposed to be, doing things that make no sense on one level, and yet seem perfectly obvious on another.

It is a good place to be - mildly frightening and yet, not actually.

March 12, 2010

One for Dad

On Sunday, we had Meeting #2 of our newly formed writers' group. It was literature and creative thought and new friends at their finest. It was, in short, a delight.

We started out with an excerpt by a French author from the 19th century named Colette. The line that kick-started my response was:
It was on that road and at that hour that I first became aware of my own self, [and] experienced an inexpressible state of grace...

I wrote:

I wasn't walking through the mist,
but I remember
with clarity,
leaning my head against the chilled window.

We drove off the ferry,
out of the city,
into the rolling hills.

I watched as the sky moved
from black to navy
navy to pink
pink to golden
edged with a crisp bright blue.

My father,
driving calmly,
pulled over
picked up the camera
captured the colours on film.

No one else stirred.

My brothers,
my sister,
my mother.


And in the silence
I felt compelled
to share
this moment.
This beauty.

I whispered.
Good morning.
(this photo is twice cheating. I took it in 2007 & it is a sunset. BUT it works. Right?)

March 11, 2010

Not A Normal Morning

This morning I woke up, rolled over, and nearly started laughing.

There was snow on the roof.

And our furnace is broken.

The repair guy apparently came yesterday. Looked at it. Said, "Yeah, this is really broken. I'm going to disconnect the system, because you don't want it turning back on."

My translation: Good thing you're still alive.

So it's cold.

But you know what? That's okay.

a) I have a space heater.
b) I have space slippers.
c) I have a roof over my head.
d) In lots of places in the world (especially South America) it gets this cold in the winter and they have no central heating. You just wear MORE LAYERS! Which is how I was raised anyway...

Me: I'm cold.
Mom: Put a sweater on.
Me: I'm wearing one.
Mom: Put slippers on.
Me: sigh

One time, it went slightly differently...

Me: I'm cold. Feel how cold my hands are!! (put my cold hands on her neck)
Mom: This is why you should get a boyfriend.
Me: (pouting) Ok...I'll try...
Mom: Or you can put a sweater on.
Me: Thanks, Mom.

For the record, I love my mom. Recalling these conversations makes me laugh.
(Mom & me, Christmas 08)

March 8, 2010

Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland

I often hesitate to write movie reviews here, as I am not always known for my great movie taste. But I like what I like, and I guess there's nothing wrong with that...

This past weekend, I really liked Alice in Wonderland.

This surprised me, for three reasons:
a) it is a novel adaptation, and I'm usually snobbish about these things. Especially classics.
b) I saw it in 3D. I haven't seen a lot of 3D movies, and maybe I've only seen crappy 3D movies, but I was hesitant.
c) sometimes Tim Burton is a little much for me. But this wasn't.

But I would go see it again. My three favourite things:
a) the adventure. It was a legit adventure starring a girl. For how far we've come in the last century, there is still a lot lacking in girl-adventures.
b) the deeper meaning. I'm still figuring it out (I have been thinking about too many things these days), but I know there are parallels and allegories and lessons to be learned.
c) the costumes. I loved loved loved Alice's dresses. And the set design, and everyone else's dresses. But especially Alice's. (I've never been jealous of armour before.) Another great ensemble:

Now I must admit, there were a couple things that didn't quite thrill me. Three, in fact.
a) Anne Hathaway should never ever ever be blonde. And she should never be told to keep her hands above her waist at all times.
b) I couldn't quite place Johnny Depp's accent. As the Mad Hatter, he had definite Scottish moments, and then some sort of vague upper-class English thing going on. It drove me a little batty.
c) The ending was a bit...too quick? Too predictable? I'm not sure. Maybe they're leaving the door open for further Alice Adventures. Maybe they know how much everyone loves Charlotte Doyle and they're going to capitalize on that for the next movie. Okay, no one knows who Charlotte Doyle is, I bet.

But now that I think about it, it would make a great movie too.

March 5, 2010

Who Even Has Answers Anymore?

Over the past six weeks, there have been countless conversations in my life that touch on conflict, broken relationships, forgiveness & reconciliation. I have been thinking about it all, and trying to formulate thoughts and a framework of what is right.

And then another friend tells me of another broken relationship.
Each one is different. Each one is terrible.
And every time, I'm left with nothing to say.

It is hard to see this brokenness in my own life. I'm not without damaged relationships. I've caused hurt in the hearts of people I care for. But I feel utterly helpless when terrible things happen in the lives of others. There is nothing I can actually do to fix things. I can stand with them, pray for them, cry with them, talk with them - but even all that seems inadequate at times.

In the summer of 2004, I remember sitting on a makeshift bed (I spent the summer sleeping on an air mattress in a basement of mould) with a friend, crying and talking. At the time, neither of us had much use for swear words or harsh language, but when she was trying to say, "Sometimes, life just sucks," what actually came out was, "Sometimes life just shits."

Which is pretty much the truth.

We collapsed into laughter at her unintended truth. It still makes me chuckle, and I think that is okay. Because even in pain, there are times to laugh. As I learned in the sub-tropic jungles of Florida, when covered in over 100 mosquito bites and unable to lay a level brick, "We laugh because we must not cry."
(Sarah & Sarah, the jungle reference was for you two...)

Skipping the death part, because death isn't the only occasion for sympathy (starting around :36), comedian Mike Birbiglia has a great idea for sympathy cards. I would buy one.

When it is time to speak words of solidarity, this is the song that is circling in my heart.

March 4, 2010

World's Best 21st Century Nephew

Not only do I think my nephew is incredibly cute and smart, it is also clear that he is a child of the 21 century.

email from my sister:
Jake sends you kisses (he's smacking his lips) and smiley faces and a heart

I respond:
I love Jake. Did he REALLY send the smiley face and heart?? If so, this kid is impressive.

she responds:
Yes, Jake really did send you the smiley face and the heart, although I think he was thinking more of the winks in (MSN) messenger - he wanted the "big smiley face". We explained that it didn't work in an e-mail, so he said the emoticons were ok.

Can't wait to see him (and the rest of my family) later this month.

March 3, 2010

Things to Ask Myself

(This is my friend Heather. I love Heather a lot. In this photo, my arm is (not) broken and we are about to get on a plane to London, England. Two weeks from yesterday, she and I will be hanging out in Vancouver. I can't wait.)

A few weeks ago, I shared with Heather that I was feeling a bit panicky about potential change* in my life. She affirmed to me that change is frightening and can be difficult, but encouraged me to ask myself these questions as I evaluate decisions:

Will it energize me spiritually?
Will I continue growing in a healthy manner?
Will I look forward to each day?
Will I be content where I am and eager for more?

And I say, Mmhmm. These are good questions to be asking. And my answer for each one?

I think so!

*if we're Facebook friends, you've already seen that North Korea has come up in my status... well, I'm still waiting on the official word, but it is looking highly likely that I'll be spending 3 months there teaching English to adults. Crazy. Surreal. Amazing.

March 2, 2010

So Long, Money

(anyone want to guess how much is shown in the photo?)

Now that it's not sitting on my bed anymore, let's talk about money.

I am not used to handling large amounts of money. I don't particularly like handling large amounts of money. It is strange to walk home from the bank with almost half my yearly salary in my purse. It is strange to be responsible for the precise accounting of said money. Being in charge of the money was probably the most stressful part of my recent trip to the UK.

Three weeks later, with the leftover cash safely in the bank, the largest cheque I have ever written ready to return it to its proper owners, and a budget that is finally and happily balanced, I am relieved to wash my hands of it all.

I've realized that I don't really care about money. I mean, obviously, it matters. I need to live. I like to buy things - mostly clothes and music and experiences. But money is not something that excites me. So long as I am paying my bills, it's not something that makes me feel happy. The thought of having more than I do right now actually stresses me out. Because then I'd be accountable for using and saving and doing right by it.

More money = more responsibility. And while I don't agree with the extremes they take it to, I think MxPx was on to something...