Monday, 9 November 2015

Henry and Margaret: Our Love Story

Hello again Readers. I'm back. And just so you know, no, I did not continue on with my New Years' Resolution. But I have had an abundance of new experiences this year, some of which I will share in this blog. I'm married now, and my husband and I have quite an interesting story, which we took time to write while we were engaged. That is what I share here in this post, with some edits. I changed some details in my story to reflect what has taken place since I wrote it. 

Margaret's Story

Henry and my story started several years ago. We met around the time that he became a Christian, since we were part of the same church and youth group. So when I was 16. Henry went to Mexico five and a half years ago in 2010, initially to go to Bible school for three months. I was 18 at the time. When he came back, I found out he was going back to work at a rehab centre. However, during his time at home, he hosted a bonfire where he invited a bunch of youth from different churches and he asked a few people to share a devotional. I was one of those few, and the only girl he asked. This made me wonder why. And after sharing that evening, he told the people why he asked me, that he often noticed how much I had going on in my mind. I wondered at the time if he liked me. I didn't know, but I did see that Henry saw things in me that not everyone did. He saw what I had to offer and gave me opportunity to express it. I have always really appreciated that.

Time went on and although I did pray for Henry and his work in Mexico from time to time, I didn't give him too much thought otherwise. We did keep in touch via facebook from time to time though. However, in my mid to late teens, I also started praying for my future husband on a regular basis. I prayed for him, and I prayed for God to grow qualities in him that I wanted in a man. Although I don't remember everything I prayed, a few things I remember I wanted was for my husband to have a love for people, a man that I could support in ministry, and a person who was strong in the areas I was weak. One day late in 2011, close to the end of Henry's second year in Mexico, I was praying for my husband when Henry's name came to mind. And Henry fit everything I was praying for right then. That's when I started praying about the possibility of Henry being my husband, and as I thought about how our lives and personalities fit together, I felt more and more sure that it was God showing me he would one day be my husband. He came home to visit again that winter, and I was excited to see and spend time with him but nothing happened. 

The following year, now his third year working at the rehab centre, he shared with me that he felt his time at the rehab centre was coming to an end. I was looking forward to him coming home in December. He had three more months of Bible school left before he graduated, but I had just assumed that in the spring, he would come home again. I never thought he would stay in Mexico. However, that December day when we got to see each other again, I found out that he had been asked to be a youth pastor and work on the radio in Mexico, and it seemed to be God's leading. I went home and cried so hard, pleading with God for some other way. I knew he would make a great youth pastor, but I wanted so badly for Henry to be at home, and I wanted him to start a relationship with me. One of the hardest realizations for me was that Ontario was not Henry's home anymore; Mexico was. And that winter I wrestled with whether or not I was willing to go to Mexico if that's what a life with Henry would mean, and I painfully decided yes. But again he left and nothing happened. Around this time, I also determined that a man will love me best when he loves God most. If Henry was saying No to what God wanted him to do to pursue a relationship with me, then something was wrong. I had to trust that if God wanted us together, He could still make it work.

In the fall of 2013, Henry came back to Ontario again. However, it seemed that any interest I had sensed from him before wasn't there that time. I saw very little of him that time, which was disappointing. But before he left, I gave up. For about two years I had waited and prayed, I had watched him come and go, and I still didn't know how he felt about me. I couldn't hold on anymore. I stopped hoping. I stopped praying for him as my future husband. And for the first time, I was okay. 

What followed was a very difficult year where I had a lot to deal with. From the time Henry left in the fall, until July of last year while I was in NY, we had no direct communication. Then he got in touch with me again. This got me wondering again if something could still happen between us. It was just enough to get me hoping and make me feel absolutely torn when considering another possibility. And I was angry with myself that I had ever stopped praying for Henry. Henry and I chatted occasionally throughout the year. However, with no real indication that he was interested, I was ready to go back to school this year to pursue an education and career in accounting. However, when I shared this with Henry, he honestly told me he couldn't see that for me. Thinking back several years, knowing Henry had insight into me that many others didn't, and wondering if maybe there was a personal interest involved, I decided to back out. I'm very thankful now I did.

Even so, Henry didn't have plans to come back to Canada anytime soon. But in the new year we did start chatting more on Facebook. I started to notice I could expect to hear from him about once a week, then soon we started talking almost everyday. I knew this couldn't go on too long without talking about where our friendship was headed. Meanwhile I was praying fervently that Henry would talk to me about how he felt. I wanted to know and see something happen, or I wanted him to leave me alone. I also stopped praying for my future husband, and started praying more only for Henry with faith that he would one day be my husband.

At the end of March, I felt God calling me to prepare for ministry and it seemed very likely it would mean Mexico. At this time, Henry and I were getting closer and I shared this with him. The next day he told me he was thinking of coming to Canada in the summer after all. Although I got an indication from him that he was planning on spending some time with me, he didn't make his intentions clear until Easter weekend, when he told me he wanted to come and see if things could work between us. Soon we started skyping, which allowed us to see each other and talk more openly and within a few weeks he asked me to come to Mexico when he went back home in July. I wrestled with this for a few days, but agreed that I would come to Mexico with him so we could get to know each other better and I could get used to the idea of a future here. 

After being in Mexico for about five and a half years, my prince came back for me.

On June 20, Henry and I saw each other again personally for the first time in over a year and half, and we made our relationship official. On July 7, we flew back to Mexico together, where we got to know each other more, and I have been helping at the Friedensplatz children's home. On August 12, I got an idea for a poem, which I decided I wanted to save for when we got married. The next day I found out that that same evening Henry was writing a song for me. (Initially we planned to share them at our wedding, but didn't after all.)  And that next day, on August 13, after a picnic down by a little lake, he asked me to marry him. And I said yes.

We started planning a small simple wedding in Ontario in a 48 day engagement. September 30 marked the beginning of our lives, truly together, and we have made our home here in Mexico for the forseeable future.

And that's my story in a nutshell. After years of praying, tears, wrestling, surrendering, and picking my dreams up again out of the dust, those dreams have finally come true.

Henry's Story

I have known Margaret for about seven years. The first memory that I have of her is shaking her hand in church one morning. She had a really tight grip!

I remember her from youth although a relationship never crossed my mind while I was living in Canada. During my first two years in Mexico I came back to Canada for two months each year to visit after Bible school. I still had never thought about a relationship at that time. Although one thing that I did always see was that she did take her Christian walk seriously. She studied and shared openly. I noticed she was always very attentive to the things I shared when we were together with the youth or elsewhere. I could see that she took things deeper than many of the other youth did.

We kept in touch occasionally during the time that I was in Mexico. Sometimes more than others. We shared things that were going on in our lives. She went on various mission trips and did other things and I lived and worked in rehab. I still didn’t think about a relationship but I was interested to hear the things that she was going through.

The first time that a relationship had crossed my mind was about two and a half years ago. We had been talking on facebook again at that time. At the time it was just a small thought…could it be something? But one thing that crossed my mind was whether she would have any interest in Mexico or whether God was leading her life in a different direction. For me it has felt like a clear calling to stay in Mexico so it was something that I needed to know.  So I started to kind of beat around the bush and ask her certain things and talk about stuff to see kind of what her thoughts were like about Mexico. And through some of the things that we discussed it seemed that there wasn’t very much interest in coming here and maybe God was leading her life in a completely different direction. And I thought that was ok. It was just kind of a passing thought I had at that moment. No big deal. That was just what I had wanted to know. And so I put it out of my mind for the time being. (Note from Margaret: I was trying to make my interest known without being obvious. I guess it didn't work.)

But, later on that year I had visited Canada again and while I was there some family had mentioned to me that she WAS interested in me. It came as a surprise… and yet it didn’t. I hadn’t known that she liked me but as I thought about it it made sense that maybe it could be. But I didn’t want to do anything with it then because at that time I had been talking with someone else and thinking about a possible relationship (which never happened, but ended up really complicated). So I wasn’t going to start something at that time while thinking about this other girl as well. So I left it and went back to Mexico.

I had finished working at the rehab center the previous year and also graduated from the Bible school. That’s when I started a new life on the radio and youth pastoring. But at that time in my life I sunk to a place in my Christian life where I had never been before. I had had some difficulties during that year already before I went to Canada but after I had come back and through the following year (which was last year 2014) I was struggling with depression and faith. I was a depressed pastor. It was up and down with me but I did my best to try and be faithful to the youth and help them the best that I could but it was very difficult at times. And my faith was shaken throughout the year. Sometimes I would feel like I was coming out of it only to have something smack me in the face and bring me right back down. And talking with Margaret this year, it seems that she and I had both been having a really hard time during the same year and a half. I feel like maybe there were some struggles that we both needed to battle through before we could be joined together. 

I tried my best to hide my struggles from people. Some people noticed but for the most part I think I kept it hidden. But I had gotten a good friend for a roommate last year and it was really needed. I needed someone to talk to and I broke in front of him a couple of times. But it helped me a lot having him live with me. But this happened throughout the year until this year started. I spent one day a week at the Bible school again this year which really helped me again to revive and be strengthened spiritually.

I still struggle even now to get completely out of the pit that I was in. I have gained much strength this year already but I still have a ways to go to get back into shape spiritually and ministering more again. I think that maybe I have been broken and reshaped. Things are different and I am still working through the pain of the reshaping.

Coming back to Margaret. We started talking again the end of last year and more coming into this year. We shared things and I liked reading her blogs of new experiences. I started to think about whether a relationship was something that could happen. I didn’t know. It was hard trying to determine things from 3000 kms away. But I do remember reading one of her blogs one day in which she poured her heart out about no one being hopeless to Jesus. That article really did a number on me. It was actually a big turn on. I thought about the struggles that I had gone through the year and a half before and I thought to myself that I needed someone like her in my life to help me and support me while I was also struggling. Someone that I could trust. Someone that loved Jesus and would help me build up my faith again. I know I’m supposed to lead but sometimes a broken leader needs a helper to get back up.

I had thought about stopping my work on the radio and things I was doing earlier this year but everything in me just wouldn’t give me peace about leaving. I couldn’t help but think I was running away from the place that God put me if I left. So I decided I would stay. And I started thinking about the things that God had lead me to do and when I looked at everything it just seemed like Margaret was one person that would fit. End of March I decided that I would fly back to Canada for 2 weeks just to kind of hang around and observe Margaret so to speak. I had mentioned to her that I was coming, but not that the reason was her… until a couple of weeks later. So finally in April we started talking more about us and a potential relationship but I didn’t like texting. That’s when we decided to start skyping. She was the first and only person I have ever skyped with. But doing that helped make a lot of things clearer.

We started skyping every day and eventually made plans that she would come here for the summer with me. Things haven’t always gone smoothly and we’ve had to learn how to communicate to each and be open about things. But learning that has brought our relationship a lot further. We’ve talked about difficult things but after each one was done we became stronger as a couple and our love has grown deeper. It’s getting harder to spend time apart but, Lord willing, soon we won’t have to.

I’ve realized that we have both come out of a period of distress and weakness in our lives and both needed to come to a place of refreshing and strengthening. Maybe God had his purpose in it being that way. Maybe this way we can both be built up into a new life together. 

Our Wedding

We had a small, simple wedding in Ontario on September 30 and then we honeymooned through the U.S. back to Mexico, making stops at the Creation Museum, Southern Grace Bed and Breakfast, and Pigeon Forge, Tennesee. And now I'm settling into life as a housewife in Mexico.

Wedding Photo Credits go to Heidi A. Photography

Friday, 15 May 2015

What Did I Do?: New Accomplishments

The last couple weeks have once again been a busy flurry of activity. I am happy to say that, aside from a few finishing touches, the redecorating in my room is completed and it's reorganized. It's imperfect like I am, but I'm happy to call it home. That means I'm slowly able to return to everyday life again, although it's filled with catching up on a lot of things that have been left behind.

April 30: I tried making myself a smoothie using kefir instead of yogurt. This eliminates the need to add juice or almond milk to thin it out. I discovered that mango, banana, pineapple, and mango coconut kefir makes for a delicious combination.

May 1: Do not attempt to work with wood stain without using gloves. However, if you do try this, and get upset like I did trying to wash it off, scrub your hands and fingers with olive oil. That works to clean them.

May 2: pedagogical: "of or relating to teachers or education."

May 3: Emmer is a type of wheat, as I learned in my devotions in the morning. I also had questions for my mom about how colonies are divided in Mexico, trying to understand names of places and how they relate to each other.

May 4: I recently started reading a great book called Too Small to Ignore: Why the Least of These Matters Most by Compassion International's President Dr. Wess Stafford. It has been teaching me so much about African culture, and is giving me a very different perspective on children. It's a book I would highly recommend.

On May 4, I read about the author's childhood in the village of Nielle in West Africa, and how they hunted baboons:

"Tradition dictated that the smallest child involved in the hunt got the most delicate part of the beast--the hands. In fact, it was a great honor; the little guy would sit there proudly chewing on a hand that looked just like his own except bigger and now roasted over the fire." Dr. Wess Stafford, Too Small to Ignore

May 5: Seeing as it was Cinco de Mayo, I learned that the holiday celebrates the Day of the Battle of Puebla, which occurred on May 5, 1862. It's observed by Mexicans and Americans.

I learned something else I didn't intend to learn. It's what happens when a grease trap is full. Yuck. And I didn't even know we had such a thing at work!

May 6: Back to Too Small to Ignore, I learned how different the culture in Nielle, West Africa treated certain human activities than we do in North America. Bathing, defecation, and nursing babies were done openly. Rather than covering up, it was each person's responsibility to protect the dignity of others.

I also learned a little about the pentatonic scale, which uses only five notes per octave. The hymn "Amazing Grace" is written using only the pentatonic scale.

May 7: I mounted a curtain rod above the window in my room. This took a whole lot longer than it should have, as I read the instructions over and over, and measured over and over. But I wanted to be sure to do the job right.

May 8: I was proud of myself last Friday at swim class! I swam backstroke the whole length of the pool, from shallow to deep end! That meant for "chillaxing" and gloating a little bit, before I attempted to swim back front crawl. That attempt didn't get very far. I'm still getting used to the deep end, where I can't just stand up if I panic and sink. I also found pink heart-shaped sunglasses in a shoe store and tried them on. :)

May 9: On Saturday, I starting reading the Bible in Low German, which I also learned in the last couple weeks is now an official language! It takes some getting used to the written language. And I have realized quickly that I have a very limited vocabulary in my mother tongue.

May 10: riparian: "of or on the bank of a watercourse."

I also heard a story about a girl who planted a seed and grew a 40 pound cabbage, which she donated to a soup kitchen. This inspired planting a garden and using the produce to feed the homeless. You can read more about her story at Katie's Krops. Children can make a difference!

May 11: technobabble: "technical jargon."

May 12: I learned how to ride a lawn mower. I know this may sound pathetic, that I had never ridden a lawn mower before, but as far as I can recall, I hadn't. It was actually really intimidating for me, but I braved learning something else new.

May 13: On Wednesday afternoon, I had the task of mounting a towel bar on a kitchen cabinet beside the kitchen sink. This sounds easy, but it was awkward to figure out how to position myself to get the control I needed with a drill. The solution? Climb up and sit on the divider of the kitchen sink, with my feet in the sink! The job can be done much easier now!

I also learned that a solopreneur is "a business owner who works and runs their business alone."

So, that recaps the last two weeks! It doesn't seem very exciting, but I did try things I would typically avoid or like to pass on to someone else.

Friday, 1 May 2015

What Did I Do?: Two Weeks Fast

Busy life continues so I'm summing up two weeks for my readers very fast.

April 16: I tried an insanity cardio workout, tried doing some crazy thing with my cheeks, and learned that tomatoes will stain countertops if you leave them sitting there for awhile. Oops. But I'm wondering if I learned that last one on April 17th, because I don't have anything written down for that day. And I don't remember.

April 17: I'm not sure what happened. Maybe I failed. I don't know.

April 18: I ate key lime greek yogurt straight out of the tub. This is what happens when I'm really hungry and in need of a break. I ate my first fresh cut fries this year. Also, Jonathon Crombie, the actor who played Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables died.

April 19: I tried a new chest and tricep workout, learned how to play "Be Unto Your Name" on my flute, and worked on Christina Perri's "One Thousand Years".

April 20: I learned the "Pepsi, Coke, 7 Up" breathing technique in swim class, so now I know what that's all about and it makes breathing a lot easier. I also visited some friends and had some of the best homemade chocolate ever!

April 21: I tried a chocolate banana cookie and endeavoured to clean and unclog a Nescafe beverage
machine with next to no idea what I was doing.

April 22: I ate garlic bread for breakfast. And I tried a little bit of mudding.

April 23: It was World Book Day, and I tried Pollo Asado. Yummy.

April 24: I learned what a crane fly was and tried sauerkraut on my smoked sausage bun. There's a first time for everything, and that was also a last.

April 25: Lissome means "nimble or easily flexed".

April 26: Rococo is a hilarious work and it means "excessively ornate or intricate."

April 27: I tried using pull buoys in swim class to isolate my stroke. This was interesting and took some getting used to. It did help me deal with what to do when I flip over in the water.

April 28: I tried kefir for the first time. I wasn't quite brave enough for plain kefir, so I bought a mango coconut flavour. I drank a little straight and this would certainly take a little getting used to. A lot of stuff that's good for me does.

April 29: I tried the Cherrios Effect. It doesn't work in almond milk. If anything, the cherrios repel each other. They do gravitate to each other in regular dairy milk, but it takes patience. And a little nudging and encouragement, cause I don't have that much patience. And enough milk in the bowl to make sure they really float.

The End.

Friday, 17 April 2015

What Did I Do?: This and That

I'm taking some time to write a real quick update on the last week. I'm really busy right now with lots of things going on and a to-do list more than a page long. So I'm keeping things simple.

April 9: On Thursday, I tried a plain butter tart at work, which I determined isn't quite my preference. It didn't have pecans in it; only a little bit of coconut. And although the syrupy filling is good, that much at once is a little too much. Then I dumped popcorn all over the floor, when I tried to pour it from a big 50lb bag into a bucket. The bag was almost empty, so it should have been easy. But no, not for me. I found myself laughing as I looked at my mess of popcorn all over the floor. When I got home, I found out what bicoastal meant: "of or relating to or living or working on both the east and west coasts of the United States." I don't think I will ever afford to be bicoastal.

April 10: April 10 is National Sibling Day. I rely on Facebook to inform me of days like this. I only found this out after I noticed a number of friends posting pictures of themselves with their siblings. I didn't know there was such a thing.

April 11: A friend told me about Worldometers, a site that provides real time data on a ton of different facts. A lot of those numbers change way faster than I can keep up with. I picked something random out of all of them. When I checked on April 11, over $164 million had been spent on video games so far on just that day. That baffles me, that this world collectively spends hundreds of millions of dollars on just video games in a single day.

April 12: At a book study with a group of believers, I got to try some monkey bread, and was also offered a double salted "dropee", which I said I had to try. You may have seen my video earlier this year of eating a regular Dutch salted black licorice, but this was a double salted variety. I can't describe how horrible. I would maybe eat one of the regular coins again, but I think that was my first and last time eating a double salted. I looked down at the coffee left in my mug, and sadly knew it would not suffice to wash the awfulness down. But I survived.

April 13: On Monday, I discovered how depressing of an endeavour redecorating can be, especially finding bedding for a twin bed that had an adult design and matches the other colours I have to work with in my room. I walked from store to store and was unsuccessful in finding something satisfying, And then I got hungry. So I drove out to Farm Boy, a newer market in London to check that place out and get some supper. I really like the store, where I was able to find coconut milk to add to coffee. They sell a lot of healthy/organic/alternative foods. Definitely a good place to go if you have a food allergy or intolerance. I did find their regular groceries more expensive though. But, their fresh bakery bagels are the closest thing in Canada I've had to New York bagels!

Figuring what to eat for supper was hard with the amount of options available. Eventually I settled on a southwest chicken wrap (which had real chicken in it, not processed!), a roasted pepper bowtie salad and a chicken samosa. I'd heard/read/seen something about samosas before. It's kind of like a fried stuffed dumpling. I don't know how else to describe it, but it was good.

April 14: On Tuesday, I tried a new Minestrone Soup recipe. I have a recipe I like, but it doesn't have any tomato in it, like most minestrones. This one was a combination of veggies, including tomatoes, herbs, beans, and pasta in a chicken broth, and I was quite pleased with the outcome. It was kind of a combination between the minestrone I usually make, and a Vegetable, Bean, and Spinach soup I really like.

April 15: As I've been trying to make my health a bigger focus this year, I've been exercising a little more frequently when life and schedule allows, and I'm looking for some new things to try. And I think I have found something that will be a little more manageable and effective. On Wednesday I tried a 12 Minute Leg Devastation workout. I made it through, although I wasn't able to do all the exercises quite properly. I now know what a duck walk is. I'm looking forward to trying more of these kinds of workouts, and seeing some results!

Friday, 10 April 2015

What Did I Do?: Red Shoes!

I had an interesting week, although I kept my New Year's resolution a little more low-key. It will likely be that way for the next while, since I have a lot going on right now and it may be hard to get really adventurous in the midst of the busyness. But I will try to be creative where I can.

April 2: Has anyone else ever wondered what Throwback Thursday is all about, or was I the only one who hadn't exactly figured it out yet? I had a bit of an idea because the pictures I often saw on Facebook, but I now understand this social media trend a little more. I found out that "Throwback Thursday is the name of a weekly social media posting trend and hashtag game that users participate in to share and look back fondly on some of their favorite memories--hence the "throwback" theme. In this case, the "throwback" component of a post can pertain to basically anything that happened in the past." ( I thought about trying this, but that would mean digging out pictures from the 90s or something. Cute, but naw. At least not now anyway.

Thanks to Anne of Green Gables, I learnt that elocution is "the art of clear and expressive speech, esp. of distinct pronunciation and articulation" or "a particular style of speech." And I learned that "kerwollops" is not a word. While first at Queen's, Josie Pye talks about a French professor giving her the "kerwollops of the heart." An online search led me to believe the author made up the word, since I couldn't find it defined in any dictionary, and anything I found referenced to this instance in the book. But I think the context gives me a pretty good idea of what she meant. 

April 3: Good Friday was a good day, but I was a slacker. While having lunch, I look out across neighbouring yards to see turkeys and other fowl come through the neighbourhood. It really was a sight to behold! There were a number of white birds and I was trying to figure out what they were. Ducks, geese, swans? One was bigger than the rest, and my mom suggested it was a turkey as well. "There's such a thing as white turkeys?! I didn't know that!" Clearly, I do not know my birds. Indeed, turkeys do come in white, as well as dark colours. It reminded me of Staten Island days when I would be driving down the road closer to the beach and would have to stop and wait for the turkeys to cross the road. And listening to them gobble is so hilarious! It often takes only little things to make my day!

April 4: This past weekend, we had another hockey tournament at work, and these are usually accompanied by various vendors selling clothing, pictures, hockey memorabilia, knick-knacks and other items. There was one such vendor set up across from the concession, tables arrayed with lots and lots of leggings, in some very bright and bold styles! But there were certainly none like the leggings being sported by the half manikin standing behind him. And I got one of my CRAZY ideas! I mentioned it to my co-workers, who I fill in on some of the things I've been doing. At a quiet moment, I made my way casually to the table, explained my intent, got a pair of said leggings, and made my way for the bathroom. I would not come out of the bathroom wearing them, nor will I make my photo public. All I will say is that they were black, white, purple, fluorescent orange, lime green and bright yellow. Not only that, but these were the colours that made up a collage of various animal print patterns in diagonal stripes from top to bottom. I don't know how else to describe it. They were intense! This was my first time trying on them tight leggings that are so popular now.

However, I did feel like I owed the vendor for my experiment. I decided that I wouldn't mind having a pair for a few purposes, and realized that they could keep my legs nice and warm at the beach the next morning. So I did go back and buy a solid black pair. These were different. I don't intend to wear them on their own as pants, but upon trying them on at home, I understood why many girls do. They are way comfy! And part of the fun in doing stuff like this is having fun writing about it later. :)

April 5: This Easter Sunday, I got myself out of bed way early to attend my first Easter sunrise service on the beach with my church.

April 6: Again, thanks to Anne Shirley, I now know what a chaplet is. Sort of. I think. There are a few definitions for the word "chaplet." It can be "a wreath or garland for the head" or a string of beads, similar to a rosary, used for prayers, among a few other definitions. I think Anne was likely referring to a wreath, especially since she isn't Catholic. 

"But Anne, with her elbows on the window sill, her soft cheek laid against her clasped hands, and her eyes filled with visions, looked out unheedingly across the city roof and spire to that glorious dome of sunset sky and wove her dreams of a possible future from the golden tissue of youth's own optimism. All the Beyond was hers with its possibilities lurking rosily in the oncoming years--each year a rose of promise to be woven into an immortal chaplet." --Anne of Green Gables by L.M Montgomery

April 7: Sometimes you just need a pair of red shoes!

I'm not usually this bold, and although I liked the black ones, my first reaction to the red was "Ugh! No!" But I tried them on and went "Heeeeyy!" and thought of the numerous possibilities. So I bought them. I could have fun experimenting with these. I also tried a plain cappuccino at work. I liked that it wasn't as sweet as flavoured ones, but I do like other ones more I think.

April 8: I will talk about another book now. Aren't you all so relieved? I conveniently forgot to look up the words I was wondering about Tuesday night in The Edge of His Cloak by Kevin Abell. Kevin talks about a young man he met during his first year at university, whom he refers to as "the first person in my life I knew to be a 'Christian.'":

"Knowing what I know now about the faith, I often wonder what he would pray about when he knelt beside his bed at night. He should been praying for the hellions that shared his alcove. However, years later, I found out that he was primarily concerned with removing the log from his own eye." --The Edge of His Cloak by Kevin Abell

When I read the word "hellion", it didn't sound very good. And "alcove"? Well, that reminded me of "cove" and this wasn't talking about any water body or anything. So I figured it out today. A hellion is "a disorderly, troublesome, rowdy, or mischievous person." Hellions are also fictional characters in the Marvel comics. And "alcove" just referred to the space they were living in.

This book has been a blessing to me and continues to be to me. If you're interested, I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

What Did I Do?: The Deep End

Well, it was a good week. Having some extra time off, I took the opportunity to catch up with friends, be social, have fun, etc. However, I was also happy when I had the chance to have a few quieter days to slow down and stay at home more.

March 26: On Thursday night I had dinner with a friend, and we tried The Open Kitchen. Although they had a $12 steak special that was very tempting, I knew there was no way I was going to eat a 14 ounce steak. So I opted for a California Chicken Salad. Yeah, there was no way I was going to eat all of this at once either!

It reminded me of the salads I would get at a restaurant in Staten Island, except there they would have twice as much chicken on them. People may wonder why I would order just a salad when I eat out, but salad veggies and lean protein is usually a tummy friendly option for me. This one had romaine lettuce, spinach, cucumber, strawberries, candied pecans, dried cranberries and goat cheese. This was my first try at goat cheese. It's softer than I like most of my cheeses and has a more sour taste, so it's not a new favourite. Although I want to brave blue cheese yet and try goat milk. I've tried  many milk alternatives (rice, soy, almond, and coconut), but not any other animal sourced alternatives.

From there, we went to a prayer meeting with a small group of believers I hadn't met, and it was a blessing to meet with them. It was here I also heard about antinomianism. I'm not one to delve deeply into theology and although I'm familiar with some ideas, this was new. According to the dictionary, an antinomian is "one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation." I would be interested in learning more about this idea, even if I don't agree with it.

March 27: Friday was a see what happens kind of day where I didn't really plan anything. I was reading a local magazine publication and learned a little about DMQ (Difference Making Quotient), but I never did figure out how you measure a person's DMQ. I tried a Salted Caramel timbit, which was tasty. I set out to explore some different educational options I had found out about in the previous 24 hours, ways that I could grow in my administrative and writing skills, or take Bible school type courses, without making a big commitment. I was definitely very interested in The Silo Project and hope that later this year I can work through some of their courses.

I also learned that in Hawaii, after the Pearl Harbour invasion, the state was concerned about another Japanese invasion and what would happen if the Japanese stole cash and used it to fund their war effort. So the state recalled all the bills, with small allowances, and printed new ones, so that if money was stolen, people could see it came from Hawaii. Not knowing what to do with the $200 million recalled, and it being too expensive to ship the bills to the mainland, they burned them.

March 28: Tom Ryan was the culinary scientist who invented the McDonald's McGriddle, stuffed crust pizza for Pizza Hut, and a lot of other fast foods.

March 29: Sunday was a bit of an emotional day for me. It was a day of God bringing together the things I was thinking and praying about in the previous few days and revealed to me a purpose. I don't know yet what it will look like and exactly what He has in store, but it could get exciting.

I also had another friend catch-up day. After bowling, which we discovered goes way too fast with just two people, we pondered what to do while we got hungry enough to have dinner. We set out to find the Jumbo monument, which I hadn't seen since I was a kid, knowing the general part of town. From there I followed signs and winding roads to see what Historic St. Thomas was all about, which reminded me of Staten Island. This exploring came in very useful the next day when I tried to get from one part of town to a place I had never been, with a few directions, an address and a general idea of where to go. After letting our appetites build, we settled on Bella Jack's which I had often wanted to try. The first unique item on the menu that caught my eye was a shrimp and pineapple quesadilla. I like shrimp, and I like Hawaiian pizza, but pineapple in a quesadilla? It was good, although they could have filled it a little more. All in all, a good afternoon catching up on life, which is what really mattered.

March 30: I swam in the deep end! We kept it simple the first time, and I learned that once you cross that black line, it really does drop off far and I was hanging onto the wall to keep my head above water. I just swam across the pool on my back, without strokes, just to get used to it. My instructor stayed beside me, to make sure I didn't drown in case I panicked, but I actually remained quite calm and made it without any problems. Keep your chin back, stay calm, and keep kicking! I also made some significant improvements on my whip kick. The hardest part has been keeping my feet out, since I keep wanting to have ballerina toes or something. Thankfully I'm not a kid or my instructor would make me walk around the deck like a penguin!

In the afternoon, I got a hair cut, and in addition to enjoying my bouncy curls again, I also got my hairdresser to wax my eyebrows for the first time! I have eyebrows that tend to want to take up more of my face than I like, and I was quite pleased with the end result! I didn't get as many tears as I expected. I mostly giggled. I don't know which is worse for the person having to do it!

March 31: You know when you kind of know the meaning of something, or have an idea, but not really? Yep, Anne Shirley felt "unregenerate" around Mrs. Lynde and that set me searching. Also, the word "contrite" came up at Bible study, so I now have a decent understanding of that. How often do we read stuff in our Bibles and miss lots because we just don't understand the meaning of a word?

April 1: And sometimes I like to know where days on our calendars or traditions associated with days came from. You know what else this means??!!!! I'm a quarter way through my year!!! I think there will be a great sense of relief when this year is over, but also a sense of satisfaction to look back and see what I accomplished.

Anyhow, to my point! And this is no joke! It's April 1st. The first association between foolishness and the date is found in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Other references and dates go back  to the 1500s and 1600s. During the Middle Ages in Europe, people celebrated New Year's Day on March 25, and others over a long-weekend ending on April 1. There is also an April fish tradition (poissons d'avril) that French-speaking people have of trying to attach a paper fish to a person's back unnoticed. Hmm, this gives me ideas!

And, it's now sinking in that a quarter of this year is indeed done and it has gone by fast. But I'm looking forward to what's ahead. :)

Friday, 27 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Overalls and Authentic German Cooking

This week started off a little low-key, then got a little more interesting. I started mostly with my cheater approaches: online articles and the dictionary. I hope I can move away from this more again, and actually do some stuff worth talking about. Something I have been challenging myself with is limiting distractions in my life. One of my approaches the past week has been to leave the music off. Music is great, but I find that when I'm always listening to music, or looking for this or that song on Youtube, I get hardly anything done. And I need to stop surrounding myself with noise all the time.

March 19: Since I had put making Jaegerschnitzel on my list awhile back, and planning to try it soon, I explored many recipes, and also learned about how to make Spaetzle, and found out what a potato ricer was. I also learned that thumbing the touch screen on your smart phone changes the way your brain responds to touch. There's an intriguing article about that here. It's crazy how technology affects us.

March 20: Scientists in Australia have figured out a way to use ultrasound technology to restore memory loss in mice. It could be used in a few years to treat Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's develops as a result of lesions--neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid plaques--building up on the brain.

March 21: I learned about the various benefits of coconut oil, and thanks to Anne of Green Gables, I now know the meaning of the words vim, implicit, impeach, and veracity. And you're probably thinking, is she ever going to finish that book? All in good time. :)

March 22: Sunday one of my coworkers saved me a ton of efforts by informing me that James Watts invented the steam engine. Except I thought I had heard John Watts. Good thing I verified the information when I got home. Steam engines were first used in commercial enterprises in 1776.

March 23: Monday was a very interesting day for me. It consisted of various activities, lots of driving, and lots of waiting. I started my morning at the pool. I didn't really learn anything new this week, but just kept practicing things I've been working on. However, I did venture deeper into the pool. Although not ready for the deep end yet, my instructor had me go in up to my shoulders. Although I have waded into water this deep before not knowing how to swim, there was something scary about actually swimming in it, taking my feet off the bottom. And in my mind I was singing, and the the words seemed to take on a whole new level of meaning.

"You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand." --"Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" by Hillsong United

From there I headed to The Pita Shack for some lunch. Although initially disappointed that they didn't warm or toast the pita, it was actually excellent. Hours later, I found myself near the downtown core of a city, that as it turns out can be a little uncomfortable to be in. I parked in the parking lot of a convenience store, where I got myself my mid-afternoon coffee and a pack of Cadbury Mini Eggs. This way I could justify parking as a customer while on the premises, instead of putting change in a parking meter. As I waited and enjoyed my afternoon snack, I observed my surroundings and the various people. I looked in the rearview mirror to see a guy vomit in front of Pizza Pizza. My eyes followed an animated young woman with a shopping cart, full of various items and bags. The real curiosity though was a bundle of wrapping paper rolls attached to the cart, which she showed off to many passing by. She later got some assistance from a man to make some modifications to this bundle, and soon he was busy with a roll of electrical tape, utility knife and other items I was unable to recognize. I never could figure out exactly what they were trying to do. And then there was the man parked a few spaces away from me in a black SUV, wearing big black shades, with his window rolled down, having a smoke. And he was watching something. Or for something. Or someone. At times I got a little unnerved, thinking he was watching me. Well, of course, I was watching him too...with locked doors. And then I saw the moment something switched, he took off and sped across the intersection, dodged a cyclist as if he had somewhere real important to go really fast, only to pull into the laneway right across the intersection, and later across the street. I never did figure that one out either, but "drug deal" certainly did cross my mind more than once. It was way too much like a movie! And as I watched these people with seemingly broken lives, I couldn't help but admire those who have the courage to walk into them, build relationships, and show them hope.

Then I went to the mall and shopped for a couple hours, which was all I could handle after my already eventful and slightly draining day. I walked into Urban Planet, not expecting to find much I would be seriously interested in. I saw some denim overalls, which seem to be fashionable again. I never would have thunk. I entertained the thought for a moment, then walked away. But my mind kept going back to those overalls. And I thought, Why not? Might as well take time to have a little fun. I grabbed a pair from the rack and headed for the dressing room. The straps were difficult to adjust and they fit rather awkwardly. I was wearing one of my many MDS T-shirts, my favourite everyday go-to item in my closet. And I thought, if I ever go back to a project to work on the job site, I might just have to get a pair of these for kicks.

And I went home later and looked up the word "epoch", but wasn't about to find out what all the unfamiliar words meant that I came across while reading Anne of Green Gables during my afternoon out.

March 24: Sometimes I just need to pretend I'm a pro chef. On Tuesday I attempted an authentic German meal, with help from my mom. I made Jaegerschnitzel, or German Hunter Schnitzel, and Spaetzle, which is a boiled dumpling. I considered finding a noodle to cook instead of Spaetzle, but after finding out how it's made, I had a real hankering to try it. Also, having had Spaetzle in Germany, I really wanted to try this.

I used a recipe I found online for the schnitzel, which was a bit of a task. Most recipes either called for packaged gravy mix or the sauce was mostly cream based. I wanted to make my own sauce if I was going to do this. So I used pork loin chops, and we discovered the secret to an awesome breading on schnitzel that fries really nice. I made the gravy out of beef broth, wine, flour and cream, which then had fried onions and mushrooms added to it. This was poured over the schnitzel and then sprinkled with fried bacon. The Spaetzle was an interesting endeavor. I didn't have a Spaetzle maker or a proper potato ricer, so I tried using a colander. Spaetzle is made from a simple dough made of milk, eggs, and flour. The dough is then ideally pressed through a Spaetzle maker, directly into a pot of boiling water. Once it's cooked, you toss them with melted butter, although I used bacon fat I had left over. To serve, I also spooned jaeger sauce onto it.

On a whole, it was good, and pork schnitzel like this has me spoiled. However, I have learned that I way overcalculate mushrooms when I buy them, and could have done with a fraction of what I bought. The gravy didn't thicken well, which was disappointing. I think if I make this again, I will try a different gravy recipe, or eliminate the wine and thicken it a little more. I'm a little undecided as to how much I liked the wine flavour in it. And it made a whole lot more gravy than necessary. Also, I discovered making Spaetzle using a colander does not really work, and dropping the dough into a pot with a spoon isn't great either.

But in the end, it was a good experience and I tried something new and unique.

March 25: I made dessert! Shocking, eh? I usually keep a good supply of frozen fruit in the freezer, especially berries, to use in yogurt and smoothies. I never would have thought that I would go crazy over sales at the grocery store, but with frozen fruit I often will. I saw a recipe on the back of one of the bags for a Berry Buckle and I thought it sounded yummy. Especially when I read you were supposed to serve it with ice cream. So this morning, being at a loss and tired of the cheater solutions, I ventured into the kitchen, even though we didn't need more dessert things.

This cake does take a good hour to bake, and I was hesitant even taking it out because, although the recipe said it would be moist and instructed not to overbake it, I was afraid the centre would be dough and berry juice. However, I let it rest awhile, served myself a nice warm slice with frozen yogurt, and poured a cup of Earl Grey, and it was delicious. Definitely did not disappoint!

In the afternoon, I tried some new exercises as part of my workout. One was an inchworm exercise. I didn't get very far before I fell on the ground laughing until I almost had tears. Gotta have fun!

Random note: I saw my first robin this year on the first day of spring. It's coming!!! :)

Friday, 20 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Shawarma and What I Have Wondered About the Irish

It's been a quiet week, and I've been able to keep up my resolution, weakly. Fighting a cold for three weeks means I don't have energy to get ambitious. So I've been trying to learn things more through what comes up or finding online articles.

March 12: While reading in the books of Acts, something caught my attention. I was reading about Paul being shipwrecked on the island of Malta, and the writer mentions Publius, referring to him as "the chief man" on the island who owned a lot of the land. Publius offered his hospitality for a few days. His father was sick with dysentery, and Paul healed him and Publius was converted. That made me ask who Publius was. Luke had basically said that this guy was the "head honcho" around there and that he owned a lot of the land. So who exactly was he? My research led me to learn that he was the governor, and was later honoured as the first Bishop of Malta. He's also considered a patron saint. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church observe a feast in his honour. I was a little conflicted by some of this, not sure what to make of it.

I have determined that if I looked up all the unfamiliar words I read in Anne of Green Gables, I would probably greatly expand my vocabulary. I learned that a manse was the "the house, owned by a congregation, of an esp. Presbyterian or United Church minister".

March 13: I learned about the Cross Bones Cemetery in England. Beginning in the 1100s, it was an unconsecrated burial ground for prostitutes, and also became the final resting place of countless others, not deemed worthy of a burial anywhere else, the poor, and the destitute. It has since become a memorial. This is a painful reminder of how society makes distinctions between people and makes unjust judgments about what others are worthy of.

March 14: On Saturday, I learned a few different random things. Something stuck out to me in the morning while reading in Romans.

"For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." --Romans 10:2-4

I had never understood it this way before. People that establish their own righteousness, living by a set of rules, do not understand the righteousness of God, the righteousness that comes from faith.

I also learned about some common things that happen in Dubai, one of the world's richest cities, that would seem downright crazy to many of us. Wild cats ride in the front seats of cars with people as their pets. They have ATMs that give you gold and extra wide Jeeps that look like two smushed together. Camels are tied up in parking lots, much like horses with buggies are in my hometown. There are ice cafes in the desert that serve hot drinks. Yep, it's an interesting world.

March 14 was also Pi Day, to celebrate the mathematical constant pi. It was designated in 2009. I didn't know we needed a day to celebrate pi. Why can't we celebrate pie instead?

March 15: On Sunday I tried shawarma at Laziz in London. Shawarma is a meat stacked and roasted on a rotating spit, and is then served with other toppings and condiments in a pita. I've had gyros and other pita wraps before, but never shawarma. I was disappointed that cheese does not belong on shawarma. Nevertheless, I got my chicken shawarma topped with hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, pickled turnip, tabouli and tzatziki sauce, all wrapped up in a pita. I had never had turnips before, and pickled turnips are definitely not my thing. Tabouli is interesting. It's a salad made of bulgar wheat, chopped parsley, onions, tomatoes, garlic, etc. That added a refreshing element. All in all, shawarma is pretty good, but it's not my new favourite. We had fun exploring the Middle Eastern store and butcher shop, looking at the different kinds of cultural food items. At least now I know where I can definitely find tahini if I want to make my own hummus. 

March 16: Thomas Edison was a thief! And he almost seemed proud of it! I couldn't believe it. He ended up bankrupting George Melies, the first master filmmaker, after he stole and pirated his film A Trip to the Moon. The filmmaker stopped making films by 1914 because of lack of money.

March 17: In honour of St. Patrick's Day, I set out to learn relevant Irish information. Saint Patrick was abducted as a teenager and sold into slavery in another country. There he adopted his parents' faith while enslaved, but eventually ran away and journeyed back to his home country. Here he became a priest. He then willingly returned to the country where he was enslaved and served the poor. It's sad that the way the day is celebrated is so far removed from how it all started.

But, what I really wanted to know was where the line "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" came from and how it came to be on countless T-shirts. This was an observation I made a number of years ago when I went to the Embro Highland Games and wondered what the point was. Why do you want people to kiss you just because your're Irish? Well, it turns out the phrase came from the Blarney Stone. Kissing the Blarney Stone in Blarney Castle was believed to bring good luck and make a person a smooth talker. But if you couldn't kiss the Blarney Stone, the next best thing or chance at good luck was to kiss an Irish person.

March 18: This past fall I began using oregano oil to boost my immune system, since I'm prone to get colds and coughs on about a monthly basis from the fall into spring. This winter I was determined I was not going through that cycle again and I wanted to strengthen my immune system. Oregano oil is expensive, but I was able to make a 10mL bottle last about 5 months. Aside from a few days or a week here or there where I felt a little under the weather, it did the job until just a few weeks ago. I had recently bought another bottle, 30mL of a different brand this time, which cost me less than the first bottle I bought. But I noticed immediately it didn't have the same strength as the first. Oregano oil has a very strong taste, and I found I could tolerate more with the second bottle. That's because I discovered it was diluted with olive oil. But what I really wondered about was how it said it contained minimum 80% carvacrol. I finally wanted to know what this stuff was, and whether this was further compromising the strength of the oil. 

It turns out carvacrol is a monoterpenoid phenol (whatever that is) found in the essential oils of oregano, thyme, pepperwort, wild bergamot, marjoram and savory. It prevents the growth of different types of bacteria. So it's not that my oregano oil is diluted with a completely different substance, but I'm still going back to a more expensive brand once this bottle is gone.

I also got to try Reid Chocolates. I really like chocolate, but fancy chocolate like this was  real treat.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Spring Brings New Life....In a Messy Sort of Way

In the past couple weeks, my life has taken me on a journey of highs and lows. Although most people would never know what I've all been processing and what's been happening, there has been a process of breaking and healing happening. And it feels strangely reminiscent of former years. It seems so often that this time of year for me is a time of painful growth. And then I looked outside and found that my life inside is strangely reminiscent of the world outside.

Spring is coming! There's hope. The freezing winter temperatures are giving way to numbers above zero! It's so exciting. And I look forward to sunshine, warm weather, robins, daffodils, the beach. But today when I look outside, it's kind of yuck. You see, spring doesn't come overnight and the process often leaves things a little messy. As temperatures rise, the snow melts and the white picturesque landscape gives way to one a little less picturesque. Mounds and drifts of snow that were once glistening white get dirty as they shrink and melt away. Patches of exposed earth reveal mud, debris, and dead grass. Nighttime brings in fog and thick mists that last into the afternoon, making very little distinguishable in the distance. Winter was beautiful and summer will be too, but for awhile things look a little dreary and gross. Ah, this is so reminiscent of what has happened in my spiritual life so many times.

The weather as it is now makes for great maple syrup weather. With freezing temperatures at night and single digits warm during the day, the sap is running. But in order for that sap to become the rich, amber syrup I pour on my pancakes, it has to go through a long refining process. The sap is greatly reduced and purified as it's boiled down more and more. Ah, this too, is reminiscent of my life.

As I reflect on the last eight years of my life, the spring months have often been difficult. They have also often been seasons of growth, seasons where I have drawn closer to God, or gotten to know His love more deeply. They have been seasons where the direction of my life has taken a dramatic change. I have left one path to take another people couldn't understand. I have wrestled with God, as He broke my will, brought me to confession, repentance, and painful obedience. I have been in such dark, deep valleys I wished I could just go home to be with Jesus instead of face what was ahead. They have been times of physical illness or spiritual healing as I worked through deep pain and brokenness. They have been seasons like the one I see outside right now. The ice and snow melting away to reveal an ugliness I would much rather keep blanketed in white.

And it has been in these times where I have gotten to know God more. These times happen at other times of the year, not just the spring months. The times I get to know the Father that loves, cherishes and holds me, the One who chastens me because of the depths of His love for me, and breaks me so He can clean and heal the wounds. I get to know Jesus more, the Lover and Prince Who pursues me relentlessly, and wants to take me as His bride. I learn to understand the Spirit, that the conviction I often experience is evidence that I am indeed a child of God, and that He does not ask something of me without giving the comfort, peace and strength to do it. I get to know the God who breaks me and heals me, gently asks me to face the pain, not to hurt me, but because He desperately wants to use it for good. 

It's times, like the moments in the last few weeks that I feel God in a way I can't explain, even when I'm not doing anything normally considered spiritual. It's in the moments that I sense He is moving and saying something, even if I can't understand what it is. It's in the moments, my joy turns to tears because of what I feel inside...He's there. The time I look outside and see the melting snow creating pools and streams, the fog that clouds everything over, and I know this is what it's like. This is what it's often like when God moves and does something new. Sometimes it gets ugly and messy and we have to face a lot of uncomfortable stuff, and things are cloudy and for awhile we can't see clearly what's in front of us. It's when I think of the maple trees and how the sap has to be refined and I see, this is what the Christian life is like. Or just the moments I smile when I see a little girl with Down Syndrome delightedly licking away at a giant swirly lollipop (the kind most parents can't stand) and I feel like I see Jesus.

Can we hold on to these moments? The moments God speaks and brings new life, the moments He shows us His love, or the way He reveals things to us in the simple, everyday things, or the changing of the seasons?

And I think how in just a few weeks the church will celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, wherein lies our salvation, our hope of eternal life. We always celebrate in spring, amid all the symbols of new life. In spring, we celebrate the New Life that He came to give. And when it happened, it was a messy Spring. It was an agonizing spring that brought that new life, the hardest Jesus had to endure. The grief that made Him drip blood like sweat. The brutal torture he endured. The death He died on a cross as He bore the sin of man and the wrath of God. The darkness that covered the earth as men feared and trembled. The three silent days when those who loved Him feared hope was lost.

Then in one moment. The empty tomb. The shed grave clothes. NEW LIFE!

 But oh, it was a messy Spring.

In order for life to happen, things often get messy first, or downright painful. We see it in nature, in the changing of the seasons, and in the cross. Any mother that has ever given birth can certainly testify to this truth as well. But following the pain, that baby takes it's first breath and utters a cry....and it's beautiful.

Right now things look somewhat dreary and messy outside. But the days are coming where the grass will be thick and lush, the flowers will bloom, the trees will bud, and the robins will sing. And God desires to do the same things in our lives, to bring life and healing out of darkness and pain, to make beautiful what is dirty and messy now.

This is what God does. He brings new life in messy ways. And sometimes we have to wrestle with Him to get it.

"When we get so close to God in our wrestling that He breathes on us, life happens." --Trudy Metzger

Friday, 13 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Masks, Funnel Cake, and Whip Kicks

Well, I'm feeling the hurt of lack of creativity, but I'm trying and learning new things nonetheless.

March 5: Last Wednesday, I saw an interesting snippet in the local newspaper, but it didn't occur to me that it was something new. The next day, I pulled that snippet out of a newspaper and got it drilled in my mind. According to The Aylmer Express, "Daylight Savings Time was originally instituted during the First Great War as a way to save energy in Europe, U.S.A. and Canada. It was cancelled at the end of the war but reinstituted during the Second Great War." I did not know that. I know that I don't mind falling back, but springing forward is a little more difficult to adjust to.

March 6: Although I'm not really into a whole lot of beauty stuff, what do I do on a day I feel under the weather? Pamper myself, of course! So I attempted the facial mask. I had researched some different recipes, many of which seemed pretty straightforward. I found some interesting ones, like the one that used ground coffee and cocoa, but I couldn't justify wasting a 1/4 cup of expensive Hershey's cocoa on my face. Another one that intrigued me was one for acne-prone/acne-scarred skin, which called for a pureed onion. But then it occurred to me that putting pureed onion on my face could become an emotional ordeal. In the end, I settled for grinding up some oatmeal in my Bullet, adding some honey and water. It smelled good. And I confess, I ate some before putting it on my face.

The facial is supposed to tighten your skin, and my skin definitely felt tight with oatmeal drying on it! I won't post pictures of that, because I don't look so good with breakfast on my face. But while I was waiting for 15-20 minutes, I sang this simple song, which has been on my mind a lot lately, and seemed fitting for the occasion.

"I have so many masks to cover up and hide."

Washing all the oatmeal off was a bit tedious, and I found myself thinking "I don't think I'm going to do it this again." But afterwards when I saw and felt how nice my face was, I wasn't so sure anymore. Who knows?

March 7: After my shift at work Saturday, I fried myself a funnel cake. I had never had a funnel cake before, and although we unfortunately didn't have ice cream or berry sauce or any other kind of yummyness to put on it, we did have whipped cream. Oodles of sweet, fatty goodness!

March 8: On Sunday, I saw a video about how to use a seam sipper in a way I didn't know. Not that I sew. In truth, the thought of sewing terrifies me. I would do just about any household chore before trying to sew. But if I do try, the seam ripper has to be handy.

Then I also read an article from which I learned some new things, although it also left me somewhat disturbed and disgusted. In 1951, doctors could take tissue samples from patients and use them for research without the patient's permission. And so, one woman's cells were mass reproduced and sold for research and other medical and scientific discoveries. I had very mixed feelings about the situation, especially when something is taken from a person and turned into a multibillion-dollar industry without their knowledge.

March 9: In my swim class, I tried learning the whip kick. By this I mean there was a whole lot of kicking going on, but I wasn't going much of anywhere. I can almost guarantee people that if they were in a pool with me during one of my lessons, the two phrases they would hear out of my mouth most often would be "I hate this!" and "I can't do this!" Thankfully, I'm not ready to give up. I enjoy it, even when I'm frustrated, can't figure something out, or just don't have the strength and endurance. I do sometimes wonder what people think of me when they see my talking to myself, trying to talk myself through what I'm supposed to do, or should have done before sinking below the surface again. However, I did have a great conversation with the lifeguard afterward, just encouraging each other in our faith, and swimming has been one thing I'm so glad I'm learning.

March 10: Since I would like to learn how to knit and crochet, an article about the history of knitting caught my attention on Knowledge Nuts. It turns out, men used to knit professionally while women weren't allowed. There were guilds that men could get into but it was about as difficult to become a professional knitter as becoming a blacksmith. Only in the Victorian Era did knitting become a hobby dominated by women.

March 11: On Wednesday morning, I was reading in the book of Acts, and in Acts 22, the word "tribune" caught my attention. It occurred to me I didn't know what a tribune was. I held that thought and kept reading, becoming aware of the number of times the words "tribune" or "tribunal" came up. Then I headed to my computer for some research, and I learned more than I initially anticipated.

According to, one of the definitions of "tribune" is as follows:

" 1. a person who upholds or defends the rights of the people
2. Roman History
a. any of various administrative officers, especially one of 10 officers elected to protect the interests and rights of the plebeians from the patricians
b. any of the six officers of a legion who rotated in commanding the legion during the year."

Between the dictionary and Wikipedia, I learned a number of things. Plebeians were the common body of free Roman citizens, while patricians were the ruling class of ancient Rome. A tribunal was a raised platform where officials would take their seats.

Going back to the text with this knowledge, a lot more made sense now. When the centurion was going to flog Paul in Acts 22:22-30, he called the tribune. It was the tribune's job to intervene on Paul's behalf, a common Roman citizen. This also explains why, when Paul's nephew comes to Paul in the barracks to tell him about the ambush planned against him in Acts 23, Paul asks the centurion to take his nephew to the tribune to speak to him. This tribune was Claudius Lysias. Lysias actually comes on the scene already in Acts 21, but it didn't occur to me then to ask what a tribune was.

There were also military tribunes as mentioned in Acts 25:23. And although I'm not exactly sure what he meant, Paul says he's standing before Caesar's tribunal in Acts 25:10. So I don't know what everything means, but what I learned does give me a better understanding of what's going on in these chapters. I also learned that the barracks referenced in Acts 21-23 when connected to Lysias's cohort, refers to the Tower of Antonia, which was rebuilt by Herod. This tower was located on the northwest side of the temple in Jerusalem.

Isn't it funny how often I can read something over and over again and never really know what it means? Sometimes it's just because I'm too lazy to put the effort into finding out. But I'm glad I'm taking the time this year to put in the effort.

Friday, 6 March 2015

What Did I Do?: Engagement Rings!

I took it really easy this week, and although I didn't learn or do much of anything really excited, my mind has been more than occupied. I have been reminded this week that I am so not in control of my life and every day is a blank page. A lot of what is going to be written on those pages will depend on whether or not I am willing to yield to God's calling, whether it's at home where I am or somewhere else.

February 26: On Thursday night, I had dinner with a friend, and since way too many people seemed to want the $11.95 steak dinner in one restaurant, we hopped over to Crabby Joe's instead of waiting 15 minutes for a table. There I enjoyed a Peppercorn Chicken BLT Sandwich and a bowl of Wicked Thai Soup. A soup with the word "wicked" in it is going to get my attention. It was a creamy, spicy rose soup with chicken, rice, mushrooms and veggies. Good, but a small portion at once is plenty. Too much is certainly not good for my IBS tummy.

February 27: On Friday, my eye caught an intriguing link to a site where you could find out what the #1 hit song was on the day you were born. I don't know who keeps track of this stuff for all those years, but apparently on my birthday, the #1 hit was "Black or White" by Michael Jackson. This led me to learn some more interesting things. I won't share the video here, because, well, it's a Michael Jackson video.

February 28: Earlier in the week, my eye caught an article on Knowledge Nuts about the history of engagement rings. Not that this would be something that would intrigue a young woman like me or anything! Of course I wanted to know! But I must say it was rather disappointing. It's pretty much just so big companies can make big money. Since medieval times, when a man promised to marry a woman, it was a legally binding contract. If a man broke off the engagement, his fiancee could sue him. The law, in this way, provided some insurance to the woman, who would have a more difficult time marrying if she was previously engaged. Beginning in the 1930s in America, states began to do away with this "breach of promise to marry" law, and DeBeers saw the opportunity to market an engagement ring! This way the suitor had to make an investment to get engaged and it provided an "insurance" to the woman that the law no longer did. If the man broke off the engagement, the woman still had the ring. Now though, a woman is expected to return the ring if an engagement is broken off. Although engagement rings have some earlier history, it seems the real reason they became common was to make money.

This was really disappointing. I was expecting something much more romantic. However, I admit, I still want a man down on one knee to put a shiny, diamond ring on my hand some day as I say "Yes" to being his wife.

March 1: So, about this resolution of mine. Some days I forget about it, then I remember, then I forget about it again, and then all of a sudden I remember again. Sunday was such a day. So late in the evening, I was flipping through a dictionary again.

"cassoulet: a stew of beans with pork, mutton, and either duck or goose"

Done. I can go to sleep now.

March 2: On Monday, I dragged myself to the pool, but it turned out to be a better lesson than I had anticipated. I can swim on my back, but this week, my instructor taught me strokes, so now I can do an actual back crawl. Although it felt really crazy at first, I learned much quicker than I had anticipated. I wish it was all that easy. The front crawl has been my thorn. Last week I almost drowned myself working on it. It would be so much easier if I didn't have to turn my head out of the water to breathe and then keep swimming.

March 3: Snow stormy days make for a good excuse to bake, right? Naw, I don't need an excuse to bake. I just bake! So I made carrot brownies. No, they don't have any chocolate in them. It was more like carrots, orange juice and oatmeal. Kind of like a carrot cake, but a different flavour. I got a little carried away making the glaze. Without thinking, I dumped a bunch of milk in my icing sugar at once. So it was really runny and clumpy. How does one fix this? Just add more icing sugar! So, with the help of a whisk, I got a smooth glaze, although much more than necessary.  But what am I going to do with leftover glaze? However, as I looked at the edges nearly drowning, with only a little left in my bowl, I said, "I think I better stop now."

March 4: Wednesday I learned something strange. Some crazy guy by the name of James Moran sat on an ostrich egg in 1947 for 19 days and successfully made it hatch. He did all kinds of crazy stunts, and people paid him to do it. He was a publicity agent, which made me ask, "What's a publicity agent?" Well, publicity agents help draw attention to people, products, events, etc., and I guess James Moran was the guy to do it.

Furthermore, I researched recipes for facial masks, which is something I want to try. You'll get to read about that next week!

Friday, 27 February 2015

What Did I Do?: Ueberraschung!

Well, I feel like I'm finally getting caught up on things I was behind on and moving ahead. I must say I have been feeling a little computer illiterate trying to adjust to this new piece of technology. As you will no doubt notice, when I'm busy, I'm not very creative with new ideas. It's made even more difficult when I'm left without a computer to research anything on. I also lost part of my idea list, so I have to try to remember some of my ideas.

February 19: I won! 

On Thursday, I won an interesting Facebook challenge posted by my friend Kevin Abell. The prize? This Monroe thermometer. I don't think I've ever won a Facebook conversation before and it's also my first picture with Kevin.

 February 20: According to Knowledge Nuts, people have a false idea of how many rats there are in the world, particularly in big cities. News sources have exaggerated the numbers, saying there are twice as many rats in New York City as there are people, but it's not true. Personally, I think I only ever saw one rat while in NYC, that was running along the subway track. I admit I got pretty excited about it. Maybe it's because of signs like this one that I didn't see more.  Yep, I had to take a picture of one.

February 21: On Saturday, I learned about bed bugs, how to detect them, and identify bed bug bites. I had a bit of a freak out on the weekend, but now I can rest assured I don't have bed bugs.

February 22: On Sunday, I tried eating a kiwi with the skin. I really like kiwi when it's ripe and sweet and I've heard of people eating the whole thing, but the fuzzy skin has never appealed to me. Well, I determined to try it, especially after watching my nephew munch through the skin and explain how healthy it was. I looked at the kiwi before eating it with more contempt than a piece of raw fish. I managed one crunchy sour bite, then sliced it in half and scooped the inside out with a spoon. But now I can say I've tried it. If it had been a little riper, it might have not been so bad.

February 23: I can't wait for the day I can go to the pool in a T-shirt or even a sweater. It's way too cold. But to another swim class I did go, and it was rather grueling. I hadn't been to the pool in two weeks and not having exercised since my last class didn't help. I'm still learning not to drink pool water when I sink. When I came up coughing and sputtering to no end, people stared at me like I almost drowned or something. It reminded me of a similar experience I had a few years ago in the Atlantic Ocean. It was a little traumatic.

I also learned some interesting things about James Dole, "the Pineapple King" who turned the whole Hawaiian island of Lana'i into the world's biggest pineapple plantation. In 1927, he offered a $35,000 cash prize for the winner of an airplane race from California to Hawaii. The conditions were very dangerous. Add that airplanes weren't exactly what they are today and that nobody had ever flown to Hawaii before. Many entered the race but only two actually finished it. Ten people died trying. In the end, the winner shared the prize money with the second contestant to finish, but alas, they weren't the first people to fly to Hawaii. Two army pilots got there before the race started.

So that was tragic and James Dole felt really bad, for good reason. But back in 1913, his company made a machine that peeled 100 pineapples a minute. That's pretty cool. It would take me entirely too long to just peel one. I'm afraid though I might feel a little guilty from now on when I buy Dole pineapples. Not fair.

February 24: You know those annoying parking meters? Well, I found out who came up with that idea. Carl Magee, a U.S. reporter invented the parking meter. He was an interesting man who exposed corruption. However, he also shot and killed a bystander when he got into a fight with a corrupt judge he had just berated in his newspaper. The judge didn't get shot as intended, but someone else did. He was acquitted, however, and when he moved to Oklahoma City, he came up with the idea of the parking meter in 1932, in order to resolve the city's massive parking problem.

February 25: What I'm about to share next should be taken with a grain of salt. I apologize to my readership who won't be able to understand much of what I will share next, and to my Mennonite, Low German speaking readership, I apologize for my horrible spelling. I never did become proficient in reading or writing my mother tongue. Also, I can't use an umlaut, so I have to improvise. And I'm definitely about to become less serious.

I learned a number of new things through an afternoon of browsing a Mennonite cookbook compiled in Mexico. I must say it provided a fair share of amusement to me, a Mennonite born and raised in Canada. Although my roots are in Mexico, I've only been there to visit a handful of times. What made this cookbook particularly interesting was the different German words they use for things. It seems to have a wealth of great recipes if you can figure out how to read and understand them. In all likelihood, this cook book is correct in the German it uses, and the Low German language I'm used to is just so far removed.

Something I have often noticed is that our Low German vocabulary is rather small. We don't seem to have words for a lot of things, or we just take English words and pronounce them to sound German. And there are things that are just different between German and Low German. Well, to understand this cookbook, I think you needed to be proficient in German, Low German, English, Spanish and possess some imagination. It also seemed they have some food products in Mexcio that we don't have in Canada, or perhaps we just couldn't understand them. There were a number of canned milks that showed up in recipes, but we could only figure out evaporated milk for certain.

My favourite word I learned was ueberraschung, which means surprise. This was through a recipe for Schokoladenueberraschung. To learn that ueberraschung meant surprise was a surprise! I didn't know we had a word for surprise! Maybe if someone had thrown me an "ueberraschung geburtstag fest" when I was a kid, I would know this stuff! I also think the word sounds an awful lot like our Low German word for "backwards", but maybe that's just me.

We figured out that plaetzchen are cookies and kuchen is cake. To me, kuchen means cookies and cake is cake. And we figured out that kekse are cupcakes. Karrotten Kuchen is carrot cake, but I say "gelmehren." We eventually determined zimt meant cinnamon, since it was in with recipes for Cinnamon Rolls. At home, that's still just koernel rollen to me. When providing instructions for icing cookies or cakes, it uses the word "streiche", oba ekj do kuchen beschmeiren. Schokoladenschnitzel are chocolate chips. I get the chocolate part, but to me schnitzel is milanesa.

One of the ones that had us stumped for awhile was Schlagsahne, which we finally concluded was whipping cream, or whipped cream. To me, cream is Schmaunt, and if I'm reading a German recipe, it's Rahm. This made me wonder, if whipping cream is Schlagsahne, then what do they call Schmauntfaht? There are a lot more examples, but I simply can't write about them all.

Ah, yes, we Mennonites are a unique people with a unique language, and we could argue with no end about words and pronunciations! With this cookbook, the nice thing is if you need clarification on a recipe, it not only provides the name of the woman who submitted the recipe, but also her Campo number, phone number, and husband's name if applicable.

In the end, what is my conclusion to this matter? Dit es bloss nicht wo wie dat gelieht han!

And for the song I was singing constantly this week.

"If you wanna know how far My love can go
Just how deep, just how wide
If you wanna see how much you mean to Me
Look at My hands, look at My side
If you could count the times I'd say you are forgiven
It's more than the drops in the ocean." --"Drops in the Ocean" by Hawk Nelson