December 27, 2012

A Christmas (Re)Cap

First stop on the Christmas train is a pedicure with the ladies - it's become an annual tradition that my mom treats my sisters & I to foot care & dinner...it's a bit fun, wandering through a mall in flip-flops in the middle of winter. We get some looks, which always makes me laugh.

Oh wait! Pre-boarding on the Christmas train was an e-reader from my boss (it is difficult to balance the thoughtfulness of a fantastic gift with my day-to-day discontent in the job) and an incredible meal of Spanish tapas with Karen. We ate. so. much. And laughed even more. I can't even explain...

Back at the parents' - church visit to see delightful friends on Sunday. Coffee with cute-as-a-button-Baby-Makaela and her mom.

Christmas tree decorating.

Sound of Music and tree decorating with Grampie. Love him fiercely. Also love that movie fiercely. Sleep. Sweet sleep

Oil change for the borrowed car while I visit with my sister and read and lounge. It's handy having a mechanic in the family!

Dishes and gift-wrapping and Christmas Eve service and snuggles with the kidlets and a gift trade with another friend who always makes me laugh.

Panettone and hot chocolate, the Peruvian Christmas treat. A tour of the neighbourhood lights. Sleep.

Christmas morning is slow and simple; make scones, put on the cider, help prep for dinner. I curl up on the couch and read a few Advent-related blogs on my phone's tiny screen. This prayer/poem pretty much sums up everything my heart feels.


Father, give us Christ.
Star Igniter,
Crack our darkness.
Send the rain to heal our deadness.
Only you make dry bones rise,
Dim the blinding lights that hide
Our fear, until we're still enough
To feel the thaw of icy hearts.
In stable and by starlight
Overthrow our every expectation.
Our world inverts
Your kingdom comes.


After lunch, I go downstairs and play cribbage with Grampie. I win three games in a row...and wonder if maybe he is too old for me to play wholeheartedly against. Is it worse to beat him or let him win? We have fun, winner and loser.

Everyone else arrives and we eat (and eat) and then the Christmas story and then the gifts, and it is two parts chaos and one part perfect and it is time for little ones to leave all-too-soon, and I make my brother play the game I gave him (it is very fun) and when everyone is gone I sit by the tree and wonder how it's over already.

On Boxing Day, we always go to Grandma's. Five hours of travel (round-trip) for a five hour visit. Today, it ends up 7 hours of travel for a five hour visit. Is it worth it? YES. Always yes. There is food in copious amounts. There is laughter, there are cousins, and there is crokinole. There is also Spoons - I manage to avoid a single letter!

I decide not to travel back to Toronto at 1am, so I call (email) in late to work, hit the road at 8am, and voila. Ten o'clock finds me back at my desk.

It goes so fast. It always goes so fast.


You may notice that this recap doesn't contain much Jesus-related content. As someone who loves Jesus and does celebrate his birthday, I would like there to have been more. But you know what? There wasn't. And I'm not going to pretend otherwise, because the only thing worse than neglecting something/someone I love is lying about it to save face. 

December 20, 2012

Christmas Adorability

I have not really observed Advent this year - I did for the past two years, and I'll be honest, I am missing it.

December has been different than expected. Not better, not worse, just different. And now it's almost the holidays, and in 26 hours I will have a very very long weekend...

It's so easy for all this holiday hullabaloo to get out of hand in my head. I have some opinions and hypotheses about Christmas in our culture and the ways I want it to look in my own life, but haven't had the time to write them all out in a thoughtful way. Also, they may stir up more conflict than I'm ready to handle :)

So for now, if you haven't already seen this video, it is one of the cutest kids' nativity stories I've seen. The accents certainly don't hurt, and that little wise man toddler at the end... ACK!

December 19, 2012

This City Life: Comparison is the Enemy

Sarah is a delightful friend who lives too far away from me (or maybe it's the other way around). Her husband and I were on the same work team for a few years, and before long, this proximity grew into a full-fledged friendship. Her candor, kindness, and quick wit have been blessings in my life time and time again. I read her blog not only for her adorable children (twins Soren and Marlow have just turned 2), but also for her creative organizational skills, her thoughtful approach to living simply and her humour.

With the arrival of Baby #3 just around the corner, Sarah asked a few of her friends to contribute content for the next few weeks of likely chaos…I’m honoured to share some thoughts with all of you and all of her friends…

These thoughts on comparison have been ruminating through my heart and my mind for weeks now. There’s more to say (there’s always more to say), but let’s start here, on Sarah’s blog, okay?

And to those of you who are here because you followed Sarah's link - welcome! Poke around, ask me questions, browse on through... 

But if I can, I will admit that I did not I anticipate my late twenties would look like this. And I will also admit, I fear that in another ten years, sadness will take root, and the occasional loneliness I currently know will become something more sinister.
There is also another deep fear.
I fear being left behind by the friends I love, the women who help hold me together whose lives now hold a spouse, and maybe kids. It has already happened with some friendships, and when I see the edges of even a peripheral friendship start to fray, I find myself breathing faster, panicked.




December 18, 2012

Baby Bumps & Photo Fun

Despite the rainy weather, my Sunday afternoon was full of laughter and light, as my friends Tammy and Drew let me capture the playful dynamic between the two (soon to be three!) of them. 



Drew was a fantastically cooperative husband (once I bribed him with a beer), despite trying to convince me that he's not photogenic, and I've loved Tammy's beautiful profile and long dark hair since we first met in 2010. Tammy & Drew banter easily, and whenever we hang out I see how much they value each other. It's a lovely thing to see; an honour to capture in images. 

My favourite moment of the shoot was when Tammy told me that Drew sings to the baby every night. 
"Can you sing for him now?" I asked. And as he held her belly and softly sang, I tried to take a few more photos. My camera viewfinder seemed suddenly unable to focus...I blame the lens and not the possibility of tears.


I can't wait to take some photos of this tiny baby next month - thanks again, Tammy & Drew!


(I'm thinking that it is about time I put together a more formal photography portfolio...So look for that in the coming weeks {months?}.) 

December 14, 2012

Just A Quick Hello

I am dogsitting this weekend. An old, slow-moving dog whose thick hair is not so robust as it used to be. I am generally fond of this dog, although my fondness does not preclude a great disdain for the inevitable picking-up-of-his-poo. I am mostly hoping that he doesn't pee on the floor because I stayed out too late with my friends and his bladder is not so great.

Also, looking forward to the gorgeous house the dog lives in, and spending a good chunk of my weekend wrestling with some creative projects that have been put on hold for the last few weeks while soup simmers on the gas stove.

--

I dislike saying that I'm "busy" or that my life is "crazy" or that time is "flying by" because all of those give the impression that I am somehow not in control of my schedule, or that my days are full of unpleasant things. But I will say that when I write down today's date, I wonder, How has this happened!? A whole YEAR almost done?? And it makes me both joyful and nostalgic, and excited but nervous. More to come on this, I think.

--

And finally. Because you don't already know that I'm obsessed with sunrises and sunsets and silhouettes against the sky, here is another picture from my daily walk to work.

December 11, 2012

"But What If It Wains?" "What Wings?"


Did the Monday blahs get you down?
Is Tuesday being threatened by more gray clouds?

No more gloominess for you.

I have the antidote, via Youtube and some fun-loving families somewhere in the US.

Unless you hate children, these videos will make your day. I am offering a 92% guarantee that you will laugh at least once. Karen laughed so hard she slid off her chair.

Without further ado, I present to you…. KID SNIPPETS!




And their sister-production, KID HISTORY!


December 7, 2012

I'm Wrapped In a Blanket and Drinking Hot water

I cancelled my Wednesday night plans, then I cancelled my Thursday night plans, and then I emailed in sick to work this morning and slept until almost noon.

It was glorious. I hardly listened to the guilty voice that said, "You're not sick enough to stay home. What's your fever? Where's the vomiting?" I am tired and my head is heavy and my body needed sleep, so my body got sleep.

And then Karen texted to say she was coming home early because she's not feeling well, and OH NO IT'S THE WEEKEND AND WE'RE BOTH FEELING SICK and what a miserable time to be sick. Sick should happen during the week when you get to miss work, not on the weekend when you have friends visiting and fun things planned.

I can't bail on this evening's plans, so I am going to sneak in one more nap before I put on some actual clothes and head outside in the cold, and even though I am tired now, I know I'll be glad to go, because I'm helping at a Christmas dinner (don't worry - I'm not serving food. I'm crowd control for the kiddos, and we all know how resilient kids are, and I'll be careful and cautious and won't kiss any of them, etc etc) and I am already certain that seeing the guests' happiness will make me cry.

Happy Friday, friends.

December 4, 2012

Finding & Filming Hope: My Friends Amaze Me

Friends of mine are in Europe right now, at the tail end of a six-week journey that’s taken them to half a dozen countries. That may not seem unusual (it isn’t, in and of itself), but if you read a couple excerpts from their update emails, you will see this is no ordinary “holiday.”


Vienna:

We visited the Prater, which is an area that consists of mostly trafficking victims. They occupy the street by country, with their pimps sitting in warm cars on the other side. We came early in the night, when pimps were dropping off their girls. It's really awful. We were not allowed to film in the car we were in, plus the area is very dark anyway, but wow, what a horrific place. It is right next to a convention centre, so when business conferences come to town, the girls are in high demand.

We were able to get a piece of footage of a refugee selling newspapers, thanks for praying about that. It is all part of the racism in the laws towards refugees, like we explained in our previous prayer update. (Austria has some very xenopobic laws - there are three "jobs" that refugees are allowed to do there legally - cleaning up garbage from the road, selling newspapers at the train station, and prostitution. That is what they can choose from.)


Zurich:
On Wednesday, we showed up to do an interview with a man who helps Brazilian victims return to Brazil. When we arrived, we realized that we had grabbed the wrong battery for our camera that morning, and were initially so discouraged that we could only do an audio interview with him. But then something really cool happened. He brought in one of the victims he is helping, and when she saw that it was only audio, she said she was willing to tell her story. If we had had the whole camera set up, she probably would have been scared off…
It took us over an hour to fully record her story. It is a really intense thing. For the sake of the film, we had to ask clarifying questions at points, but wanted to do so in a way that was very gentle and kind. Tears ran down her face at certain parts. When we asked her if she had to have sex without a condom, she whimpered and nodded. I will NEVER forget the look in her eyes in that moment. The crazy thing is that she was being exploited in a LEGAL brothel. She decided to testify against her traffickers (who only got a fine), and now lives under police protection in Zurich. Her 2 children and her mom, who live in Brazil, had to move into hiding because the traffickers want to retaliate for her testifying against them. She cannot go back to Brazil because of the danger, and they cannot come here. She has to reapply for permission to stay in Switzerland every 6 months, and who knows what will happen if she gets denied. For the sake of her safety, she asked us to call her by the name "Debra."


Stockholm:

We had a surprise opportunity to lecture to a Bible College class in Stockholm about sex trafficking. The students really responded. One girl said that her three "Christian" guy friends bought their 18 year old friend a prostituted woman as a birthday gift, and another told us that there is an idea being spread in Swedish media that "all sex is good sex." Though Sweden is doing many things right in the fight against sexual exploitation and we are inspired by some of their initiatives, there are still many who fall through the cracks. So sad.


Berlin:
There are over 400,000 prostituted women in Germany, with 1.2 million men a day using them. We drove on some streets where they are, and it was dark and cold. Because there are so many women, the price of buying sex is very low, with the girls fighting each other for customers because they have a quota to make for their pimps. One girl hit on the car window when she saw Jay filming. Not that we were filming her (we do not want to exploit them further so we just film some general shots, but she did not know that).
We spoke to a YWAM social justice class on Friday in Herrnhut, Germany. They started a coffee shop in town that is on a well-travelled trafficking route, from Czech Republic to the West. Every time a truck goes by, they pray, in case victims are being transported.


Paris:

We had two really good interviews today in Paris. One was with a man who runs ZEROMACHO, an men's organization that is encouraging men to say no to buying sex, and even getting them to sign a petition for this. The other man is a film producer and director, who has made films about male domination in society, and he talked a lot about how these norms affect issues like prostitution. He also gave us a copy of his documentary, telling us that we can use clips of it in our film is we wish. After meeting with many people over the last few weeks who refuse to acknowledge demand, it was refreshing to hear these men take a stand. They are not Christians, but still are not afraid to take a stand for what is right on this.


London:
We have three interviews set up in London. The first is with a professor at the London School of Economics who wrote a paper that, through economic theory and vigorous methodology, connects legalization of prostitution to increased trafficking inflows. This is huge. Pray that this interview goes well, as it is one we are really anticipating, and might end up being one of our most important ones for this film.
There are two men who are sex buyers in London who said they'd be willing to meet with us for an interview, but have stopped corresponding. Pray that one or both will contact us back if that is meant to be. And pray that they stop using and abusing women.




Michelle and Jay love Jesus and have (as you’ve just read) a high commitment to bringing light and freedom to the darkness of the sex industry. Watching them live boldly and risk greatly is an encouragement, a blessing, and a challenge to me. 

Find out more about their efforts to fight sex trafficking (including their first documentary, on sex trafficking in Canada) at www.hopeforthesold.com

December 3, 2012

Afternoon Sleepy Hour

So I told you all I'd write more this month, and then I had a whirlwind weekend (not an unusual occurrence)  and now I'm realizing that the only way I'll be able to write anything this week is if I do it while at work (shhhhhh) but it's almost 2pm now and the afternoon-sleepies are in full force. I've been trying to go to bed at 10pm this fall/winter, but I've been a bit lax this past week and am currently feeling the effects. So here's a bit of a light-hearted post, because at least I'm posting content.


Can I tell you that last week's episode of 30 Rock was maybe my favourite yet? If there is any way that Liz Lemon and I are alike, it is on our view of the wedding industry and secretly wanting to be a princess. I loved all her rants. If I get married, I'm pretty sure my wedding will look nothing like the one below, but I hope it is as unique, fun-filled, and exactly-what-the-couple-wants.
I hope my husband is as handsome as James Marsden. I also wouldn't mind if someone could get Tony Bennett to come sing.


Someone let me know that all those tabs at the top of my blog were not taking you to my other internet realities. I've fixed that. Although apparently Twitter & Blogger no longer like each other (so it seems), and I can't feed my twitter right onto the blog. I need to update my "About Me" page, which is currently titled "The Back Cover." I am planning on a semi-professional bio. Planning on it.

Any other site tweaks I need to consider? (other than switching to another platform, which I toy with every few months...)