Tuesday, December 24, 2013

O Come, O Come...Emmanuel, God with Us.

So here we are. It’s Christmas Eve. How on earth did that happen?! Somehow, in my mind, it still October. With extra snow. And yet it’s Christmas Eve.

As the season has seemingly snuck up on me, the typical season’s greeting, “Are you ready for Christmas?”, (synonymous with “how are you?” during the holidays, it seems), has actually caused me pause. This year, more than any other, I don’t feel ready for Christmas.
I’m not ready with gifts.
I’m not ready with baking.
I’m not ready with decorations, with tinsel, with trees, with wrapping and bows.
I’m not ready with Christmas parties and egg nog or celebration.
I’m not ready with Christmas music.
I’m not ready with “Joy to the world...”
But as I reflect, I realize that I am ready for “…the Lord has come.” I am ready for his presence to descend into the mess of busyness and heartbreak and loss. I’m ready for Emmanuel, God with us. And maybe, just maybe, there’s room for that in this holiday, the way that Israel was waiting for a king, a savior, a redeemer, to enter into their mess and bring light and life and joy. Because I am ready for “peace on earth, “all is calm, all is bright,” and a bit of “silent night.” For that I am ready.
Praying that this Christmas brings peace and joy and new life into this new year. 
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. 

God with us.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Photograpy :: Alana's Cake Smash

Now that's the way to spend the afternoon!! Not only did I get to spend some time with great friends, but we got to play...in cake! Alana was a great sport, motivated and encouraged on by her big brother. Hope her mommy likes the shots. Here's a sneak peak! 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Quoted :: Tolkien, Lewis, Chambers, and Idleman

"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens." J.R.R. Tolkien

"If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world." C.S.Lewis

"It never cost a disciple anything to follow Jesus; to talk about cost when you are in love with anyone is an insult." Oswald Chambers

"Following Jesus isn't something you can do at night where no one notices. It's a 24-hour a day commitment that will interfere with your life. That's not the small print - that's a guarantee." Kyle Idleman

Holiness, not Happiness

As I wrestle with the psychology of happiness as embodied in an entitlement culture as well as my own frustration, discouragement and exhaustion, an image like this draws me back to what's important and I like it.

Happiness is easier to pursue, it is initially more satisfying when (and if) you can nail it down and it is certainly rewarded and encouraged by the world we live in but holiness...holiness, or even the pursuit of it, now that, so it would seem, is where true joy (and, ironically, true happiness) is found.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Extraordinary in the Ordinary

As I work to sharpen my photography skills, one of the things I've been reminded of often and have attempted to take to heart is to find the art in the every day moments. Having the camera ready to capture the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Like ladybugs.

And dill.

And early evening sun.

Another bit of inspiration advice I've been given is to not be afraid to take my camera (and use it) to the places I go. Thanks to that bit of advice, I was able to capture these moments at Spruce Meadows a couple of weeks ago.

Current Read :: September 24, 2013

People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks

I just started this one. It's been highly recommended and awarded so I figured it was time to give it a go. It's about history and books. Two things I thoroughly enjoy. So here goes...

 It's been a long time, months (egad!), since I shared the pages that I'm perusing. Never fear, the reading has not stopped here. The pages have kept me entertained and sane, they traveled on vacation with me, they have given me escape, joining me in the heat of summer and they lulled me to sleep when my mind wouldn't slow.

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak - Perhaps it was the timing of this one (and I know I'm going to sound dramatic as I say this) but it went straight to my heart. Written in Nazi Germany, it follows the life of a 13 year old German girl, sharing her fears, sorrows, and small joys - including books - in the midst of the war. She connects to books in some of the same ways I do (although, I don't steal them, FYI) and carries many of the same feelings about that time in German history that I imagine, from the stories of my Grandparents, many Germans did.

I've recommended it to a few people already: it is intended and marketed as a young adult fiction (not that that's ever stopped me before) and is written as such but it's so unique. The narration and structure are unlike anything that I've ever read it before. At first, it almost took away from the story for me - sort of like the beginning of a movie with subtitles - but once I got deeper into the story, it became an addition as opposed to a distraction.

The Mortal Instruments (Books 1-4), Cassandra Clare - I fully intended to avoid these but then my husband and my best friend and her husband all started reading them and talking about going to see the movie together so I jumped in. I honestly thought it would be another Twilight debacle but was pleasantly surprised. They are light, there's no question about it, but still have a descent story of things a little bit fantastic. Just waiting for my handsome husband to finish number five so I can finish up the story.

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen - This is another one that came highly recommended. From the cover (and the actors in the movie which I have not seen due to certain actors who shall remain nameless but I avoid whenever possible), I was concerned it would be some sappy romance but couldn't make that assumption coincide with the recommendations I was given. Always best to give it a chance, right? Another pleasant surprise and another pick that reminds me that there truly are books for seasons and situations. I read this one while I was with my family for my Grandpa's funeral so the whole concept of a man at the end of his life looking back at the stories of his youth, events and places long passed, felt especially poignant. Glad I picked it up.

Gardens of the Moon (The malazan Book of the Fallen #1), Steven Erikson - Tough slogging. Fantasy. War. Magic and mages. Things that normally keep my attention but there was something in the writing style that I found very difficult to engage with. Of course there's eight books in the series so the question is whether this is as good as it gets or if this is only the beginning and I should stick with it. Do I keep going? We shall see.

Cinder (Lunar chronicles #1), Marissa Meyer - The story of Cinderella...sort of. If Cinderella had cyborgs and evil queens from other planets and terrible diseases in Bejing. It was just fun brain candy and, in typical marketing genius, is definitely not a stand alone. A cliffhanger ending has left me waiting impatiently for the paperback of the next one.

Bossypants, Tina Fey - Written just like I've seen Tina Fey talk, Bossypants is a laughable collection of Tina's experiences on Saturday Night Live (loved the part about the Sarah Palin sketches) and 30 Rock and her thoughts on being a woman, wife, mother and career woman. I was surprised by how relatable some of her positions and opinions actually are, particularly those on being a woman in a man's world. Those I related to far too well.

The Third Secret, Steve Berry - I think I've now caught upon all the Steve Berry books that are out. Since I have a bit of a problem with leaving things undone or unfinished, that actually does matter to the experience. Like the other Berry books I've read, this one is rife with conspiracy and drama. I've gotten a bit attached to Cotton Malone - he's not in this one - so it felt a little "off" having a different main character but all in all was a good book to read by the beach.

The Hobbit, J.R.R.Tolkien - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Hobbit. What more can be said, really?

The Zahir, Paulo Coelho - I have truly enjoyed a number of Coelho's books but have to admit that this one felt a bit contrived and overdone.

Peony in Love, Lisa See - I never would have expected a ghost story but that is exactly what I got. I expected the love story and the dramatic components for sure.  I even expected the education in Chinese culture, superstition and belief.  That's one of the aspects of See's writing I appreciated and was hoping for. But the ghost story. Surprise! Yes, I read the jacket. Yes, I still somehow missed the fact that it was a ghost story. But somehow it was okay. It worked. In the midst of the story and the culture and the emotion, it worked.

The Foundation Series (1-3), Isaac Asimov - I still think these should just be one book. You really can't read just one to make any sense of the story...and perhaps that's why it got better as I went through it.

Inferno, Dan Brown - If a book is exactly what you expected and exactly what you needed, that makes it a good book, right? Assuming that Brown held to form, I wasn't expecting this to be as intense a story as I enjoyed in "Angels and Demons" but I was expecting a story that touched on an issue, had a fair amount of drama, and had a life or death story. I got that, and with a small unexpected twist. Good for some light entertainment.

Blood of Dragons (Rain Wild Chronicles #4), Robin Hobb - I'm so sad this series is done. Or maybe it's not? Could there be more? Please?

I'm convinced that I have a problem. Life is too full of responsibility to give me the time for all the books I want to read. Or maybe there's just not enough hours and energy in the day. I have a wish list a mile long and a pile of books by my bed. One by one by one, I will devour them.

One of the ones on my wish list is "the Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin. Has anyone read it? Or her other one, "Happiness at Home"? I would love to hear what you think about them. Sometimes life could use a little more dedicated focus to finding joy and practicing the art of happiness.

There's a couple more in the series I mentioned above that are waiting for me. A few best sellers and a new author or two. Another duo by a recent new author find. Then there's the series my handsome husband has been reading and recommending...yes, series plural. Have a I mentioned that I love that he's a reader too? Have I also mentioned that I enjoy that we can share books back and forth? At least he can be somewhat sympathetic of my affliction and he at least humors me when I remind him that I want my 'Beauty and the Beast' library one day (or maybe he thinks I'm joking).

So as the summer fades into fall and sunny days in the back yard with my books are almost gone,  I'm at least looking forward to evenings with a cup of tea, a blanket and a good story to keep me warm. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Entitlement hurts

More and more I find myself unsure of how to react to a culture that says that if you want something you should go for it, the underlying addition to that message, unwittingly or not, being that you go for it regardless of the cost to those around you, the advice of those who have gone before you or the risk to yourself. You can have what you want, do what you want and be what you want. It is entitlement plain and simple but the sad thing is that no one really gains. No one. Entitlement hurts. Maybe not the one embodying it and maybe not right away, but it hurts. 

There are always consequences, even if you are not the one to pay them. 

Today at work, we had a harassment session by some lady from corporate. She told us that intent does not play a part in harassment. The perception of the one being descriminated against (or perceiving descrimination) is what defines descrimination. 
So one's intent can be to help someone but if it is not perceived as such, one can then claim that they are a victim. 

In a society where everyone wants, what they want when they want it, how they want it, regardless of the impact on those around them, it seems like a dangerous and slippery slope. 

There are consequences. There is always the ripple affect. What's good for you (perceived as such) might not a) actually be good for you and b) be good for others. But how do you determine that if you are living solely with an isolationist mindset that says "it's all about me and what I want, following my heart and dreams and achieving for myself."?

But what to do? How does one stand against it? How does one model and effect change, saying "stop. Wait. Think about your (insert friend, neighbor, brother, father...)    Is you getting your way worth the hurt it will cause them?" Without being considered a lunatic? 

I believe when the bible said "Love The Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF" that it was for our own good and the good of those around us. I believe it meant that our passions, our wants and our goals are meant to be chased and considered within the greater context of community and within family, not in isolation. We are not as individual as we would often like to think. 

So please, think about what you want and how it impacts others and then let's work together towards happiness that doesn't hve to hurt. We'll all be better off for it. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

From the Interweb :: Aug 22, 2013

Honest Disney Posters Reveal True Movie Messages, Bored Panada - You really do need to take a look at these. While (mostly) tongue in cheek, it's worth thinking about the messages media portrays without the viewer necessarily realizing.

In Which love looks like spinning our own yarn, Sarah Bessey - I love how stories speak and love knowing that my honey and I are making memories; making our own stories and spinning our own yarns.

What every husband needs to hear, we are that family - I've been bad at this lately, but I'm trying. Words matter and I want my words to him to be such that they build him up, not tear him down.

Best Wildlife photos from National Geographic traveler photo contest 2013, bored panda - OH. MY. GOODNESS.

A Letter to Kate Middleton on the Postpartum Body, Emily Wierenga - Oh do, I love these words, shared one woman to another, words that, for one reason or another, we all need to hear.

My Husband is Not my soulmate, the art in life - You might think it's odd that my husband sent me the link to this article but, truly, it's not. Not when you realize that love is a choice, not an accident or by force. It's not something you fall in and out of. I like having the choice and knowing it. He's not "the one" I "have" to love because of force or fate or because there's no one else I "could" love, rather, I choose Him every day. There's both freedom and responsibility in that. Perhaps it's not as romantic a notion but it's far more true and far more valuable a mindset to hold if healthy, growing, lifetime relationships are to be built. It's where forever is found.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It's a Colorful Life

I came across a list of blog notes the other day. The kind of list I make when ideas are rolling around in my head but I don't actually have time to sit down and put them into words and sentences thinking that perhaps the list will be the trick to saving them for later. But no. It's months later and they're still just notes on a list. Lately I think it's been a bit of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I've been grumpy. Tired and grumpy. Maybe even a little angry. Less than thankful and not very hopeful. When gratitude and gratefulness feel like work but such important, life saving, worth investing in work.

When life feels black and white and hard, sometimes it's best to look at it in color. 

These are just a few of the moments I've captured this summer. I'm sure more will pop up soon.

Our Home and Native Land

I wish I could take credit for being creative enough to come up with some of these points but, alas, that is not the case. I can't even give credit where credit is due. Just know that it comes from someone somewhere on the interweb who loves this country too and is not afraid to poke a little fun at our differences.

1. Vancouver : 1.5 million people and two bridges. You do the math. 
2. Your $400,000 Vancouver home is just 5 hours from downtown. 
3. You can throw a rock and hit three Starbucks locations. 
4. There's always some sort of deforestation protest going on. 
5. Weed. 

1. Big rock between you and B.C. 
2. Ottawa who? 
3. Tax is 5% instead of the approximately 200% it is for the rest of the country. 
4. You can exploit almost any natural resource you can think of. 
5. You live in the only province that could actually afford to be its own country. 
6. The Americans below you are all in anti-government militia groups. 

1. You never run out of wheat. 
2. Your province is really easy to draw. 
3. You can watch the dog run away from home for hours. 
4. People will assume you live on a farm. 
5. Daylight savings time? Who the hell needs that! 

1. You wake up one morning to find that you suddenly have a beachfront property. 
2. Hundreds of huge, horribly frigid lakes. 
3. Nothing compares to a wicked Winnipeg winter. 
4. You can be an Easterner or a Westerner depending on your mood. 
5. You can pass the time watching trucks and barns float by. 

1. You live in the centre of the universe. 
2. Your $400,000 Toronto home is actually a dump. 
3. You and you alone decide who will win the federal election. 
4. The only province with hard-core American-style crime. 

1. Racism is socially acceptable. 
2. You can take bets with your friends on which English neighbour will move out next. 
3. Other provinces basically bribe you to stay in Canada . 
4. You can blame all your problems on the "Anglo A*#!%!" 

1. One way or another, the government gets 98% of your income. 
2. You're poor, but not as poor as the Newfies. 
3. No one ever blames anything on New Brunswick . 
4. Everybody has a grandfather who runs a lighthouse. 

1. Everyone can play the fiddle. The ones who can't, think they can. 
2. You can pretend to have Scottish heritage as an excuse to get drunk and wear a kilt. 
3. You are the only reason Anne Murray makes money. 

1. Even though more people live on Vancouver Island , you still got the big, new bridge. 
2. You can walk across the province in half an hour. 
3. You can drive across the province in two minutes. 
4. Everyone has been an extra on "Road to Avonlea." 
5. This is where all those tiny, red potatoes come from. 
6. You can confuse ships by turning your porch lights on and off at night. 

1. If Quebec separates, you will float off to sea. 
2. If you do something stupid, you have a built-in excuse. 
3. The workday is about two hours long. 
4. It is socially acceptable to wear your hip waders to your wedding. 

Okay, fellow Canadians, anything you'd add to the list? 

Some west coast beauty.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


When someone says they have prayed for a specific message for you and come with something this specific, sometimes it's just best to listen.

MercyMe - Beautiful [Official Music Video] from mercymemusic on GodTube.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

From the Interweb :: June 12, 2013

Seedling, Never Not Knitting I have some alpaca that I think would be perfect for this little hat BUT who wants to knit winter hats when the sun is finally shining!? Not this kid. This one will have to wait till fall. 

All Seasons Slippers, Etsy - And I want to make these too. Something cozy, comfy and delightful. Indeed. 

Great Kids Have Parents Who Seem to do this Well, Donald Miller "Secretly (until now), I’ve noticed a common theme amongst well-adjusted kids. The theme seems to be this: Great kids come from families in which parents are real about their shortcomings. They come from families who live and believe in grace."

22 Unbelievable Places that are Hard to Believe Really Exist, Bored Panda - I want to go all these places to take all these photos myself. Incredible creation. 

Too Girly To Lead?, Laura Ortberg Turner - no matter how close or how far to the church I feel, this topic is close to my heart. I love the subtitle on this article: "God cares more about our girts than our gender." I've often said it, felt it myself, wondering why God would gift someone if he didn't intend for them to use those same gifts. Why would he gift a woman to preach (yes, preach, not speak, teach or share but actually preach) if he didn't intend for her to do so? Why gift her to vision cast if those gifts were not to be used? Why lead through conflict, manage teams, organize or direct if that wasn't his intention for her? Why?

Probably the Best Wedding Photo Every, Bored Panda - It probably is. Seriously. Check it out.

You don't have to wait, Jim Palmer - live now. today. here. in this moment.

and another one like it...

This is for the Day, Sarah Bessey

What I Want My Kids to Know About Sex, We are that Family - In a world where the messages about sex are so convoluted and sometimes polar opposite, there are some things I wish my kids - and their friends and their friends' friends - knew about sex.

To Carry Hope, Settle Monroe - there is hope, no matter the whether or the season.

Tim Fall: "Families that don't talk about money are more likely to end up in a legal dispute.", Jenny Rae Armstrong - It makes interesting sense. Let's pull out the spreadsheets and spread out the budgets, Babe!

Not as much time for the interweb when there's beauty like this to be enjoyed outside!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Round What?!

I thought I could do it. I thought I could come back after the lock out, after my own small boycott, and enjoy the game. I thought I could enter into the playoffs with some level of enthusiasm. I thought I could. And maybe it would have been different had my team made the playoffs. Maybe then I could have. Or maybe if my sweet husband's team had played more than four slightly better than dismal games I could have. But I can't. I can't enjoy the game this year. It's surprising and sad and I hope it doesn't last but the truth is, I just don't care this year.

The sun is shining, the grass is finally getting green and, to be honest, when I'm working four nights a week, the last thing I want to do on the other three is stay inside and watch big business. I want to play. I want to garden. I want to ride my bike and read books on the back deck and drink beer and bbq and go to yoga...and I just don't want to watch hockey this year. It's weird. I don't actually like it a lot but I'm going to run with it.

So I can't, in good conscience, write playoff post. There's some good match ups and some teams I really dislike going head to head but this is the best I've got. Conference finals...Pittsburgh from the East. The west is a little harder. I've gone back and forth between Chicago and LA. LA is proving that it wasn't all a magic run last year. Chicago had that stellar season. LA or Chicago? Chicago or LA? I think LA and Pittsburgh would be an interesting Stanley Cup final so let's say L.A.

As for the cup, well, we'll see how I feel when we get there.

Until then, time to enjoy the great outdoors and the wonderful things that summer has to offer...

Friday, May 03, 2013

Quoted :: Henri Nouwen

When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, ‘I love Jesus, but I hate the Church,’ we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness. It is important to think about the Church not as ‘over there’ but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.
Henri Nouwen, "Forgiving the Church," Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith, Harperone; Reprint edition (Jun 1, 2005)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Current Read :: May 2, 2013

Order in Chaos, Jack Whyte
This is the third in the templar saga. I think I'll miss these once they're over. I'm especially excited about this one as it takes us into Scotland in the era of Robert the Bruce. Betrayal, history, knights, kings, queens and politics...just what the doctor ordered.

Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job, Jon Acuff
I've just started this one via audiobook and am enjoying it so far. Acuff shares, in conversational style, some of the things he's learned about following and finding your dreams and transitioning well into your dream job, without quitting the day job too soon. So far so good.

The Winter Ghosts, Kate Mosse
 This was not what I was expecting. I have read Mosse's two previous novels and found myself thoroughly lost in both. This one was a different genre entirely. A ghost story of a different type. There was no mystery, no intrigue, no crime to solve, no puzzle and no chase. It was more of a classic ghost story. A slow ghost story. I don't think I enjoy slow ghost stories.

The Sanctuary, Raymond Khoury
This is another of Khoury's stand alone novels and, like the last one I read, it was okay. Tying together the intrigue of kidnapping, the mysticism of the search for eternal life that spans centuries and the science of medicine used in all the wrong ways. It was a nice break from the real world but I would probably say it was simply "okay."

World Without End, Ken Follett
I think the most fun part of this one was that it's the first book ever recommended to me by my dad. Ever. I read Pillars of the Earth over the holiday and was able to have a fun chat with him over that one. He then proceeded to give me a preview and I just couldn't wait to dive in. And he was right. I loved it.  Characters tied in from hundreds of years prior, and more of the lords, ladies and historical tales from Pillars. I think I actually enjoyed it more than Pillars, to be honest.