Exodus: Gods and Kings — Read the Book Instead.


I’m not one to be preaching on the “read the book instead” soap box.  I love movies.  I prefer them to books.  I like books, don’t get me wrong, I’d be a terrible writer if I didn’t like books, but I prefer movies.  Mostly, I think, I have a hard time visualizing the details, so especially in a book that has intricate details written in, I struggle to picture what the author is talking about.  I have the same problem whenever anyone tries to explain something visual to me.  Hearing or reading it do not help.  I for real need to see it.

This was one of the reasons I was really looking forward to Exodus:  Gods and Kings.  That, and because I want to see these Bible Stories turned Hollywood Blockbusters so that when those who know I’m a believer ask me what I thought, I have an opinion.  Well boy, do I have one.

If you want to see it without my biased opinion as an influence, you should probably stop reading.  I was going to try to avoid spoilers, but, as I write my thoughts out I have quickly realized that I can’t be honest with you without sharing details.  SO — if you want to see it and don’t want to know why I think you shouldn’t bother, quit reading.  If you want an honest opinion from a Christian who’s beginning to think that “to be able to talk with my friends who’ve seen it who want to question why it went down the way it did” isn’t a good enough reason, and that actually maybe I should avoid all Bible-Story movies like the plague (heh… plagues), keep reading.

 

So, here we go:  If you’ve decided to stick with me, here are my thoughts.

As a Hollywood action movie, it was great.  It was entertaining, it was visually stimulating, there was plenty of conflict, and there were daring action scenes where our hero had opportunities to make huge choices, and those choices impacted the outcome of the story.

Perfect set up, right?  It also had a pretty solid cast…. though I struggled greatly with the believability of Christian Bale as Moses.  I struggled the same way with the believability of Russell Crowe as Noah.  They acted well, don’t get me wrong, but in this case… a Hebrew man living in Egypt just wouldn’t have looked like Christian Bale.  Just…. no.  I’ve been reading a lot lately about women and ethnic minorities and how they’re downplayed in Hollywood films…. and that this is precisely one of the ways it’s done.  A movie that should likely have had someone of Egyptian descent play the main character just doesn’t because, well, Christian Bale sells.  He is Batman, after all.  I had a hard time getting past that one, I have to admit.  And I wonder if I don’t need to be far more conscious of it, to the point of refusing to see a movie where a character who should clearly be represented BY a minority is played by a white man.

(As an add-on after I’ve read other reviews, I found this quote appalling, “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such,” Scott says. “I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

When the downplaying of an entire ethnic group comes down to budget, my conscience has a hard time paying the man, and I regret having spent money on two tickets.)

I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be great when the Burning Bush wasn’t even really acknowledged, and a child appeared to Moses while he lay in a pile of mud assuming he was delusional.  Turns out, the child is supposed to be Ridley Scott’s representation of God… Really?  And the boy is British.  God is a pre-adolescent British boy.

I knew it wasn’t going to be great when Moses left his staff with his son before returning to Pharaoh’s palace to work at freeing his people.  I leaned over to the friend I went with and whispered “doesn’t he need that??”  Turns out…. not if you’re Ridley Scott’s Moses.  He didn’t use his staff at all…. because he left it with Gershom.   He used the sword he was given by Pharaoh far more often.  I guess that’s part of him playing him up as a soldier?

I think the biggest hang-up for me is how downplayed God was.  This movie was the story of how Moses could save his people pretty much all on his own, with a little bit of input that he considered heeding from a kid that we assume is portraying maybe God…. maybe.   Moses was a man who, the way I read the story in Exodus, was afraid of what God asked him to do… he was afraid he wasn’t a good enough public speaker and that no one would be convinced by him, so God provided Moses’ brother Aaron (who was hardly mentioned).  Not so, here.  Moses never once objected because he didn’t think anyone would listen to him.  Instead, he burned down a bunch of Egyptian store houses (this is not what I remember!)

But… something that concerned me in all of this, is that I found myself caring more about the fate of Ramses than the fate of the Hebrew people… and that’s not at all where reading the account of Moses leaves me feeling.  So I know that something’s not right when I’m left feeling sorry for Ramses.  I know the point of view of Ramses isn’t one we’re often really afforded, but…. I don’t want to side with someone who was so absolutely resistant to a clear example of the will and power of God that he led many of his people to their own undoing and death through the ten plagues… which were knocked off in quick succession, after the messenger we presume is God tells Moses to “just watch for a bit.”  Yeah… really?  Just watch?  I know that the God I serve is totally capable of having delivered His people from Ramses on His own, but if that was His plan, He’d never have gone to Moses.  Leaving Moses on the sidelines for this was really frustrating.

And the Red Sea?  Don’t get me started.  Just don’t.  How Moses got lost headed for the Red Sea to begin with is lost on me, because, well, God was there the entire time guiding the Hebrew people.  Or at least He should have been.  It’s akin to your GPS saying turn Left, then you turn Right and wonder how you got lost.  But once again, God was absent in this.  Moses got the people lost.  Moses did it all on his own without God because apparently this isn’t a story of how God delivered His people through Moses.  It’s a story of how Moses takes a suggestion from a pre-teen God-like figure and runs with it all on his own.

Oh… and the crocodiles in the Nile… I suppose that’s not a big detail, but… lots of crocodiles.  Too many crocodiles.  So many crocodiles….

Hear me:  I know this was a Hollywood film.  I know, I know… artistic license.  Noah had Rock People, Exodus pretty much left God out.  I get it.  The real story probably wouldn’t sell very well… I get it.  But just like all those movie-goers who read the book then end up livid because the movie ruined the book…. well, here I am.

Moses was supposed to be a man who overcame great struggle, great fear, and great adversity in the fight to have the Hebrew slaves living in Egypt freed and led into the Promised Land.  This is not something the real Moses did on his own, and not something he did with God sitting on the sidelines.  God revealed Himself VERY clearly to Moses, but this was very downplayed in the movie and it made me pretty upset.

As the Moses of the Bible fought to free his people, His reliance on the power of God was made very clear as well.  Never was he told to just sit and watch.  And each time something bad happened to Egypt, Moses returned to Ramses, and asked again and again for him to reconsider and to let his people go.  Ramses’ heart was hardened so that God’s Glory could be displayed, but… we never see that in the movie.

I’m sure by now I’ve ruined the movie for you — but I ask respectfully that if you’re going to go see the movie despite everything I’ve said, you read Exodus first.  I ask that you know the version of the story that God wanted His people to know.

I went for a conversation piece, and I got one.  I haven’t wanted to blog a review of something so badly in a long time….

My fear though, is that you’ll go without heeding the warning of a Believer who grew up with this story, and you’ll take Hollywood’s version of God as who God is, and you’ll see Moses as the hero who did it all himself.  While I understand Hollywood wanting to paint Christian Bale as a sweeping hero, this is just not the way I’ve ever read this story.

 

After I wrote my own review, I Googled some.  I found two that I wanted to share with you.  The first pretty much bang-on agrees with me, and the second provides some really clear fact-checking.  It’s really evident in reading the second one just how ridiculously outrageous this film is.

How to Ruin a Moses Movie
Fact-Checking Exodus

And now I understand how all of you feel who read the books before you see the movies.  You have my empathy from here on out.  Well, from Noah on out, really, because… Rock People.

An Open Letter to the Canadian Government


Dear Powers that Be who work in Government Offices:

And maybe even ‘Dear Canadian Government.”

I’m a socialist as much as the next person (well, I suppose not as much as the next person, or we wouldn’t have the government structure that we have currently).  I love it that services are provided to our population that other countries don’t necessarily have, and I would love to see those services provided more widely and more effectively.  I don’t think that’s possible in our current political climate, but alas…. I’d even *gasp* pay higher taxes to make it so.  Or at least, within reason…. But I digress.  This is not the hill I want to die on, today.

Almost exactly four years ago, I found myself in need of such social services and I was reliant on Employment Insurance as I had only managed to find half time employment but still had full time expenses.  Mine being the only income in my household, this was quite the hit.

I applied for EI and was approved.  I understand the need to consistently report on my income because, well, as much as I believe in social assistance and I believe it needs to exist, I also find myself enraged when such services are abused.  While filling out these reports, I made a mistake in reporting the income I’d earned because you asked for bi-weekly reports and one of my pay-stubs was given monthly.  I had to do some figuring of my own and what seemed like it should be simple division apparently was not.  I made a mistake, it happens.

Four years ago, you sent me a request for information to back up my claim because you found my mistake before I did.  At that point, I realized my mistake and I sent in the information along with an explanation, expecting to be required to repay what I’d been overpaid, which is the thing that made the most sense to me.  I was dreading it, because I was working half time, and so I couldn’t afford such a set-back, but I wanted to make it right.

And then I never heard from you again.

Well, never’s a strong word.

Four years later, I received a letter in the mail stating that I owe you 679.00.

I’ve tried to make some calls about this amount, because as you can imagine, I want to make sure there’s not four years worth of interest on that bill, since I didn’t know.

But you know what I’ve discovered?

All government services have ridiculous working hours.  I’ve tried to call, but you don’t have an answering machine service when your lines are too busy to pick up my call (and it has been several times that I’ve tried to call).  Your phones are only answered from 8:30-4 anyway, Monday-Friday so anyone with a job with regular hours would struggle to find time to sit and wait on hold to speak with you.  Your offices are also only open Monday-Friday, 8:30-4, while I’m at work.  So I can’t talk to you in person because your phone lines either drop my call because you’re too busy, or you’re closed… and I can’t come in in person because I can’t make it there on time from work.  I almost made it on Tuesday…. I thought the office closed at 4:30 and I booked it up the stairs to the second floor at 4:02 to find locked doors.

I appreciate the services.  They’re helpful.  They’re necessary.  And quite frankly, without them, four years ago I don’t know what I’d have done.  But the fact that your working hours are really only conducive to those who either aren’t working or who don’t keep regular daytime hours is very frustrating.

I don’t know what the solution is, but I thought you should probably be aware.  Perhaps consider hiring a second shift of employees so your offices could be open maybe between the hours of 7 and 7?  And perhaps have people on the phone from those times?  And…. perhaps…. just perhaps…. you could consider just having a hold queue so that if someone is willing to wait on speakerphone while doing other things for the next available attendant, they could?  Don’t drop my call because you’re too busy to talk to me?  If I’m willing to wait 35 minutes every single time I need to talk to a Rogers representative, don’t you think I’d be willing to wait to discuss 679.00??

Sincerely,

Frustrated.

#wewantboth, a copycat recipe, and the reason for a budget.


This is old news.  Gosh, it’s SO last week.  Or maybe even last month.  Maybe I just jumped on the band wagon last week.

You’ve probably heard about this, but Starbucks Canada decided that since the Gingerbread Latte sold better in the Eastern part of the country, and since the Eggnog Latte sold better in the Pacific North West, they would sell their popular holiday drinks “regionally.”

Basically — Starbucks Canada decided that the Pacific North West could have eggnog, and everywhere East of Saskatchewan could only have the Gingerbread latte.  Well, I say ‘only’ with the full understanding that there are plenty of other options, including a peppermint mocha and a new-this-year Chestnut Praline Latte which, to me, sounds lovely, but I haven’t tried one yet.

Naturally, the internet threw up its arms in outrage.  #WeWantBoth they cried!  Starbucks is ruining Christmas, I tweeted!  My tweets of despair were favourited and retweeted, and I gained new Twitter followers.  It was a bittersweet 28-ish hours.

The next day, I received incredible news (that’s right, I didn’t know until a mere two days before the holiday drinks were slated to roll out that my drink of choice, the eggnog latte, would not be gracing me with its presence)!  A friend shared an article from CTV with me that basically expressed, due to the outrage across various social media platforms, Starbucks Canada would be replacing the eggnog latte in the East, and giving the Pacific North West back their Gingerbread.

Part of me felt spectacularly elated that I played a small part in a Twitter Revolution that led to me getting what I wanted (albeit not until November 17th, but alas…), but very shortly thereafter I was faced with a rather sobering thought.  If the country can band together and fight for our rights to have the latte we want, why can’t we do that on issues that matter?

I’m not judging anyone who will buy a holiday latte from Starbucks.  I would be lying if I said I don’t plan to leave 15 minutes early for work on Monday to go snag one for myself, even though I’ve figured out how to make a reasonable alternative.

I just can’t help but think that there are so very many issues in this country that would benefit from an outcry like that, and if we could see it, what kind of change would we be able to effect?  I know this is cheesy since it started as a post about coffee, but could we change the world?  Or do we just care too much about our five dollar coffee to mobilize together?  I get it — we wouldn’t all agree on what would need to be done.  In this case, it was a fairly simple solution:  “Starbucks, #wewantboth and we’re outraged that you made such a stupid decision.  Fix it.”

And fix it they will.

But what about issues that are close to my heart?  Human trafficking, forced sex trade working (both of which happen in our very own country, by the way), forced prostitution, homelessness, hunger…. If a child died of hunger in the cold on the streets, and Canada banded together and screamed #thatsnotok while demanding that our government do something to fix it, could we change the world?

Or is our government not as agreeable as Starbucks?

It all got me thinking.  Money talks, right?

There are places I’d love to be able to give money, but I simply don’t currently have it because I owe too much for various reasons.  I have a mortgage, I have student loans, and I have a line of credit.  Between those three things, I feel like my hands are tied behind my back and I’d love to wriggle them free.  That said, I’ve created a budget, so… I guess we’ll see how that goes.  I know how to create them, it seems to be the follow-through that kills me.

Deep thoughts started by Starbucks though, right?

Speaking of Starbucks, before I learned that Starbucks was going to give me my latte after all, I decided I’d best learn how to make my own, because I certainly don’t want a Gingerbread Latte.  I bought some eggnog (thank you, Christmas season, for giving me eggnog!  The only reason I haven’t learned how to make eggnog itself is because I’d legit weigh a ton.  For real.  I’d chug it in August.  No shame….).  I heated some (about a third of my travel mug) in the microwave and then brewed some Green Mountain Dark Magic on my most concentrated setting into the heated eggnog.  It’s no Starbucks, but it certainly tastes yummy.  I’m a little weirded out though by the fact that the eggnog and coffee don’t mix on their own… I had to stir it up quite well, and the bottom was still much MUCH sweeter than the top (which I didn’t mind so much).

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The Dollarama Incident


Yesterday evening, something happened that I feel I must share with you, my faithful readers.  I was (wrongly) accused of shoplifting yesterday in a Dollarama… of shoplifting chocolate bars.

I hadn’t, naturally.  There are better things I can think of attempting shoplifting on for the first time than a Peanut Butter Oh Henry and a Reese Peanut Butter Cup.

But here’s the story.

I went into Dollarama after a trip to Costco with a friend.  I can’t remember even 24 hours later what I went in for, it couldn’t have been that important, but I went in because I obviously thought I needed something.  I go into this Dollarama all. the. time.  It’s maybe a minute from my house, and teaching means Dollarama is a girl’s best friend.  No joke.  At least once a week.

While I was in the candy aisle, texting a friend, I was kind of pacing back and forth.  My hands were in and out of my pockets because that’s where my phone was, and I kept picking up chocolate bars and putting them back down because a) I couldn’t  make up my mind on what I wanted, and b) I was trying to remember what I went in for, and c) my friend and I were making plans for tonight.  While I was pacing, I caught sight of this woman who appeared to have just paid for her purchase, standing just by the cash register counters.  She was staring at me, and not discreetly.  When I caught her stare, I looked back at her with a “what?!” kind of look, and when she continued to stare, making me uncomfortable, I put the chocolate bars down and turned to leave the aisle.

See, my first thought was that she was fat-shaming me.  I don’t know why I assumed this, because she was about the same size as me, but my own insecurity played out and my inner voice saying “you don’t need this” led me to jump to the absurd conclusion that this woman was judging me for buying candy.

Somewhat thankfully, she was not fat-shaming me.  Instead though, she was assuming that when I put the chocolate bars down, I didn’t put them back on the shelf but in my purse.  She alerted a cashier of her assumption.  I can’t fault her for this, I guess.  I suppose as I look back at this incident that if I was sure I saw someone shoplifting, I’d probably tell someone as well.  After all, when things get stolen, prices go up because the store isn’t making their projected profit.  Also, on the level of my inner Junior Kindergarten student, it isn’t fair that I have to pay for things when other people don’t.  Yup, I’m petty like that.  What I hope I wouldn’t do is stare awkwardly, even after alerting staff to the situation.

This woman did that.

Over the PA system came the alert “Security scan all aisles.”  I didn’t think anything of it.  I hadn’t done anything unseemly.  A cashier I was familiar with (like I said, I’m in there all the time) came down the aisle I was in, and I turned and said hi.  She walked up behind me, and the conversation went like this:

“It’s been reported to us that you were seen putting chocolate bars into your purse.”

“I didn’t, I put two down, back in their box, cuz that lady at the cash counter is staring at me and making me uncomfortable.”

“Would you mind showing me your purse?”

“Sure, I don’t have anything to hide.”

I took my purse apart, showed her the various pockets, and then rifled through the collection of tampons, pepto bismol, advil, lip gloss, hair brushes, bobby pins, and elastics that collect at the bottom.  Satisfied with what I’d shown her, she apologized and thanked me for cooperating.

That should be the end, because like I said, I didn’t do anything wrong, but as I rounded a corner, this woman was still staring at me.  I still couldn’t remember what I was there for, so now I’d taken to wandering up and down the aisles, looking for whatever it was I went in for.

Down to the heart of this…. I feel like I need to share what’s bugging me about it.

Just minutes before all of this went down, and then again just a minute or two later, I had run into one of our grade 8 students from my school.  As a teacher, we’re cautioned very strongly about our reputation, and even more strongly about the perception of our reputation.  I don’t think this grade 8 student saw me being searched in the middle of the store, right in front of the toy section, but I know that it wouldn’t be good if he did.  He’s a lovely student, and so I’d hope he’d be able to see the truth and not spread rumours, but rumours are all it takes before parents don’t trust their child’s teacher because they heard she steals.  I run our school’s book fair, I collect student money on occasion…. if my students’ parents hear that I was accused of shoplifting at Dollarama, why would they have any reason to trust me with their money?

What I would like to have seen is a discreet cashier who gave me the opportunity to show her the contents of my purse in private.  I didn’t think it through in the moment, I just wanted to show very quickly that I wasn’t a thief.  It was embarrassing, though, to have to do that with complete strangers standing watching, and I spent a good deal of time last night fretting about what was going to happen at school today if the student saw anything or said anything…. and I sincerely feel that that was unnecessary.  It was unnecessary worry in the first place, and I know that, and I should have known better, but it isn’t a situation that should have happened, in my opinion.  I sincerely believe that there’s a more dignified way to prove you’re not a thief.

I don’t know what it is, because I imagine if I HAD tried to sneak the chocolate bars into my purse, asking to speak to me in private wouldn’t have helped, because the crowd of witnesses would have been helpful while I refused to open my purse based on the privacy act and blah blah blah…..

I just think there has to be a better way.

Am I the only one?

Has this happened to you before?

What do you think?

After Stares-a-lot left the store and I regained my composure, though I never did remember what I went in for, I finally decided on at least a Toblerone and went and stood in line to pay for it.  The cashier that had searched my purse in the first place came over to me to apologize, explaining that as soon as she saw who they’d accused, she thought it couldn’t possibly be true, because “you’re in here all the time and you always pay for your stuff.”  To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s comforting or disconcerting.  I mean, I’m glad I’m trustworthy and all, but that might mean I’m in Dollarama FAR too often.  She said she hoped I wasn’t offended, and apologized sincerely again.  I was not upset with her in the least, she was just doing her job.

I paid for my Toblerone and went on my way, but while leaving the store to go to my car, I saw the lady who’d reported me leaning against the wall outside the store with her friends, still staring at me.  All I can say is I think she’s lucky I wasn’t in the mood for a fight and that Gotham was about to start, because I had half a mind to go encourage her to be a bit more certain next time she accuses someone of shoplifting.  But, I guess on the good side for all of us, Gotham was about to start, and I had a Toblerone to eat.

Dancing with Myself


I went to a wedding this weekend.  It was beautiful, it was lovely, it was awesome!  It was my brother’s wedding, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.  It was my little brother’s wedding.

He’s not that little, I mean, he’s 27.  I am 29 and my wedding hasn’t happened, and I’m totally ok with that, because I haven’t found someone I want to walk down the aisle with, and I refuse to settle.

The thing is, a couple times during the evening, I was told the following things:

“You’ll never get a boyfriend if you keep doing that [taking ridiculous selfies].”
“I hope you can find someone to be happy with.”
“Your time will come.”

The ‘your time will come’ didn’t bug me quite as much because it wasn’t quite so condescending, despite the fact that I don’t think any of them were meant to be condescending.  In fact, I suspect the last two were meant to be encouraging, but… anyway.

The first one made me jump to my own defense.  See, normally I’ll take those comments and accept them, assuming that perhaps the person is right and I am doing something that’s keeping me single.  After reading a blog post though about food shaming and a lady who stood up for herself, I decided I’d do the same.  The conversation went down like this:

Me:  (sitting taking ridiculous selfies of myself at the dinner table)
Someone:  You’ll never get a boyfriend if you keep doing that.
Me:  No.  I don’t think that’s true.  There’s someone out there who will love me for all that I am, stupid selfies and all…. and if there isn’t, well, then I’ll be happy being single because I don’t want to change just to get a guy to like me.

I felt pretty proud of myself, because normally I internalize that stuff, but while I do believe the person who said it was just telling me something they thought would be helpful information, I don’t believe it to be true for a second.  I’ll find someone someday with a silly side who loves that I take stupid selfies.  It’d be awesome if he’d even lean in for a couple every once in a while.  I’ve been taking selfies since before selfies were cool… legit… I’d turn my disposable cameras around backwards and then be mad when I’d develop the film and half of the pictures were of half of my face cut off because it’s hard to angle them when you can’t see a screen.  Technology has made them a lot easier!  I’ll post some of mine from my bro’s wedding for you to see… haha I figured I wasn’t gonna look that dolled up again until my own wedding day.  Some people say they’re attention seeking.  Some say they’re narcissistic.  I think they’re just plain fun, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

 

To “I hope you find someone to be happy with” I responded that I’m already happy, and that a man can make me miserable if he’s not a good choice, so I’m not just going to settle for someone for the sake of being with someone.

 

Lastly, to “your time will come” I simply said “thank you.”  This person was pretty much a stranger, and didn’t really know me, so had no way of knowing that I don’t resent my lil bro for getting married before me.  Also, can I tell you how much I LOVE my sis-in-law?  My brother’s got fantastic taste.

 

With my new-found self-confidence that evening, I got out on the dance floor and danced like no one was looking, even though people were watching.  This is not like me, I promise.  I had grandparents watching, and sometimes they were laughing… because, well, I was doing the lawnmower and the shopping cart… I deserved to be laughed at haha.  But you know what?  I had fun.  I dragged my grandmother out on the dance floor, and I taught her how to slow dance.  That was so much fun, and it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever.  My grandma had never danced before, and she even came out on the dance floor during a fast song and started shuffling and moving her arms to the beat… determining that “I think it’s just about having fun!”  and she’s right.  So it doesn’t matter who’s watching.  It doesn’t matter if anyone thinks you don’t look amazing.  It doesn’t matter if all you know how to do is shuffle to the beat or jump up and down (hello high school lol).  My step-Dad taught me how to polka, and it was fun!  and I don’t care if I didn’t look good doing it.  My Grandma was right, it’s just about having fun.

 

Anyway, selfie time!  Here they are!  Allow me to state that as someone who enjoys taking pictures very much, the ability to play with the light from behind me, whether it be from the sun-reflected lake or bouncing off the glorious fall leaves… it’s fun.  I suspect the admonition that stupid selfies won’t get me a boyfriend probably comes more from the 2 silly ones (which, by the way, I didn’t post on Facebook and am only putting here to make a point), but anyway…. here they are.

 

 

IMG_4813 IMG_4867 IMG_4880

IMG_4881   IMG_4962

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
IMG_4931 IMG_4930

 

 

Yeah. This.


These are the things I’ve been trying for …. a long time …. to articulate.

I haven’t been able to.

So I haven’t done it.

Now, granted, I don’t relate to every single bit of this, but I sure relate to a heck of a lot of it, and I couldn’t have said these things better myself.  Perhaps I’ve been too scared?  Anyway.  Who cares?  I found someone who can say it for me, so here it is.  The post is called “Are you sure you should eat that?”

Thanks so much, Jenny Kanevsky at In Other Words… you’re on my follow list and I will be sticking around.  I found you on BlogHer and I’m so glad I did.

Back Roads Road Trip


I had an amazing weekend.  My brother is getting married next weekend so his fiancee’s bachelorette party was this weekend at a spa called Scandinave at Blue Mountain near Collingwood.  I was very excited to go hang out with the girl who’ll be my sister in now less than a week, and the other friends she’s chosen as her bridesmaids.  I was also very excited because, since it’s a 3 hour drive back to my home in South Central Ontario from Collingwood, I opted to crash for the night with a friend in Wasaga Beach.  I haven’t been to Collingwood since I was in Junior High (and it was in February!), and I’ve never been to Wasaga Beach, so it was an exciting opportunity!

Now, most normal people would plug their destination into Google Maps and take the route they’re given.  I’m admittedly not that normal.  I plugged my destination in, and laughed when it said the best way to go would be to take the 403 to the 407 to the 410 to 10 and then hit some county roads.  But that’s not how I roll.  When it’s this nice outside (it was 24 degrees today and 23 yesterday), I prefer not to sit in traffic.  I’d rather take abandoned county roads that I hardly have to share than a 400 series highway.

If I hadn’t taken said abandoned back roads, the pictures you’ll see in a minute wouldn’t have been possible.  It’s a lot easier to pull over to take pictures of fall foliage on Nottawasaga County Road 10 than it is on the 410.

As I drove through 6 counties (Brant, Waterloo, Wellington, Dufferin, Grey, and Simcoe) and switched through 4 radio stations, I had time to reflect on some amazing sights.

Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:50 am, knowing I wanted to be in Collingwood at 9.  It has been a really long time since I’ve seen the sun rise.  Yesterday morning, it took my breath away.  Does this get old?  Those of you who regularly watch the sun come up… do you get used to it?  Because I don’t know if I could.  Watching the sun crest the horizon of gently colouring fall trees then kiss the tassles on the top of stalks of corn, while the fog burns off with the coming heat, I couldn’t help but wonder if I regret that I don’t see this more often.  But… would it get old?  Would I get used to it and just not think about it anymore?  I guess I don’t know.

As I drove through windmill country near Shelburne, I shook my head at the intrusion into the scenery but then found my brain wandering toward whether they’re beneficial or not.  There are also signs all over wanting the wind farms to stop.

As I belted country songs out at the top of my lungs while I drove, Jason Aldean’s song “Fly Over States” came on the radio and I identified so much with it because… well…. how many people miss this view because they can’t handle the extra half hour it takes to avoid the 400-series-highways?

So things like the fog, the corn fields, the colourful fall trees… those are memory markers for this weekend.  Things like birds flying through the bright blue sky on Melancthon Side Road 30 as Grey County welcomed me…. priceless.  Things like the pictures taken from pulled over on Nottawasaga County Road 10, County Road 124, and Tenth Line (I pulled over for all of these pictures)…. they’ll stick.  Things like cresting hills with colourful trees and a stunning view of Georgian Bay on a hazy afternoon will take your breath away.

After a phenomenal day relaxing in the Scandinavian Baths at Scandinave Spa (can’t say enough good things about this place, by the way — want to enjoy a day of relaxing?  Take a book and go to Collingwood.  Fantastic.  I bet it’d be best in the winter, but who knows?)  the bridesmaids and I went for dinner right in Collingwood.  We laughed, we ate, we laughed some more.  We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore.  Then I headed for Wasaga Beach.

Ps I’m super thankful for GPS devices after this weekend…. I’d never have found my friend’s house in Wasaga without my phone.

As you arrive in Wasaga Beach, all you smell is Campfire.  To me, that’s what Wasaga Beach will always smell like.  That, and Georgian Bay.  But that comes later.

I had such a fantastic weekend, I just don’t think I could put it into words… I’ve been trying… I may have lost you by now…. but I digress.

When I arrived at my friend’s, we chatted, we bonded, we had refreshments… I met my roommate (a gecko named Lee), and it was just so nice to see her.

Today we headed down to the beach with her paddle boards to Georgian Bay and set out.  We both ended up swimming, me fully clothed, because when Georgian Bay beckons…. I wound up having to drive home in my bathing suit and the shorts I slept in because I wore my only shorts and tshirt in the water.  I couldn’t get over how, even at 20ish feet over our heads (we were pretty sure there were whales out there), you could still see the bottom.  Growing up camping on Lake Erie, I’m not used to seeing the bottom of the water I’m swimming in.  It was so calm and so beautiful… but the water was so cold.  I mean, it is Georgian Bay… but… it was still an amazing beach day.

As I drove out of Wasaga Beach headed for home this afternoon, I noticed that all the flags on the lamp posts said “The Beach is Just the Beginning” on them.  And I think they’re right.

This whole weekend, all I could think of is …. if we’d just slow down and drive the back way, what wouldn’t we miss?

 

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When we don’t realize what we’re saying


I am single.

That’s not a secret.

At this point, it’s not my choice.  At most points, it hasn’t been my choice.

As a result, I don’t have kids.

Again, not my choice, because I’m not married and while I admire single parents and hold them in high esteem, it’s not something I see myself entering into by choice.

There are a bunch of articles floating around the interwebz about “the things that single people are tired of hearing” and normally, I don’t share them, but since I’m writing this out of a place of genuine emotion, I’m doing it now, on account of …. I’ve dealt with every single one of those.

Disclaimer:  I want to tread lightly here.  Before I go further, I should point out that I’m quite sure that there are things that married people and parents are tired of hearing, too.  I’m certain of it.  I don’t know what they are… I do my best not to gripe about this to my married friends.  We don’t talk about this.  But I’m sure there are things.  In fact, some of you might be annoyed with what I’m about to say.

But…

Here it is.

“Just wait til you have kids.”

This is how the conversations go:

“What’d you do last night?

“Ordered a pizza and watched Netflix for 6 hours.”

“Ugh, I wish!  Just wait til you have kids.  I never watch TV anymore.”

The one that stung the most was “I don’t think we’re really the best teachers we can be until we have kids.”  While that one wasn’t said to me or directed at me, it happened.  I said nothing, because I know your intent wasn’t to hurt me.  I know that.  I know I was just in the room while you were reflecting on how being a parent has made you a better teacher…. but it still hurt a little bit.  Because I may never get that.

And you know what?  Fair.  You’re busy.  I get that.  Kids are busy.  I watch you guys parent your kids and I think you’re superstars.  There’s a big part of me that has considered in a very real way whether I’m selfless enough for kids.  It’s a lot to give up.  It’s a lot of freedom that you no longer have, and I see that.  I don’t know how you do it coming home from working all day long to parenting your kids with everything you have in you.  Especially my teacher friends…. you spend all day with little kids, and then go home to kids of your own.  I know it’s not the same kind of care, but trust me when I tell you I legit think you’re superstars.  Also, if I’ve met your kids, please know that there’s a pretty good chance that I love them to death.  If you’re important to me, so are your kids.  I love your children because I love you.

But when your answer to asking what I did the night before, or what I did on the weekend, or what I like to do with my free time is to shake your head and say “just wait til you have kids,” I don’t think you realize how much that hurts…. because I’d give my left arm to be able to have kids right now… but it just hasn’t worked out yet.  It might never work out, and I have to be ok with the possibility of that reality or I’m going to be miserable until I die.  I’m only not-even-30-yet so if I never get married, that’s a long time to not be married and not have kids.  It’s also enough time for it to still happen, and I totally understand that, but I have to be ok with the possibility of it not going the way I’d like.

I understand that I could do other things.  I do enjoy Netflix though, especially since I just discovered it on Monday (oh my gosh, do you watch Suits!?).  But while I am single, and while I have no children, I have chosen that instead of sitting home and wallowing, I will do what I’d like with my free time.  If that means that I watch Netflix for 6 hours, then sometimes, that’s what it means.  Sometimes it means I take my dog on nice, long walks.  Sometimes I play my violin for hours until my fingers are numb.  Sometimes I go to Bible Study.

I can’t have kids right now.  At this moment, where at 10 pm on Saturday I’m sitting on my couch alone watching TV, I wish that I had a baby monitor on and that I was listening to make sure kids were still sleeping.  I wish I was hanging out with my husband.  But… that’s not my reality.  When you’re putting your kids to bed, please know that I would rather be putting mine to bed than watching TV at most times.

So when I tell you that I watched Netflix for six hours straight, and you wish you could go back in time to that, it would probably do us both a lot of good to remember that there are plenty of times that I’d like a time machine to propel me forwards.

Can we all just be happy with what we have, instead?

No one gets hurt that way.

Thanks.

When English Fails ( … or why I got baptized twice)


Dear readers, I’ve missed you terribly.  I’ve literally been blogging for my supper on another platform the past two months, as over the summer I take up a job as blogger for a kids’ camp.  This process leaves me so little time that all of you who follow me here wind up sorrowfully neglected.  For that, I am sorry.  But I’m back now.  And now, for the first post in three months, prepare to be nerded out upon.

I’m a bit of a language nerd.  I probably should have gone to school for linguistics.  Whenever I’m listening to a sermon and the pastor goes into the etymology of a word or explains the meaning of an original Greek or Hebrew word, I get so much more out of whatever’s being said, because my brain works that way.  When I was a teenager I had this lofty goal of being able to speak 10 languages by the time I was 30.  I’m not going to make it…. I speak approximately 2.5 (my Spanish is RUSTY and while Latin was fun, it has no practical application so I don’t count it), and I have just over 3 months until my 30th birthday.  7.5 languages in 3.5 months will not be happening.

All this to say — I’m fluent in French, and being fluent in French has shown me a lot of the places where English just falls on its face.  If you already speak French, you can skip this paragraph as it’ll be an explanation you likely won’t need.  You see, in French, there are two ways to say “to know” whereas in English there is only one.  In French, there are at least two ways to talk about loving someone…. English?  One.  In French, the need for that cliché “I like him but I don’t liiiiiiike him” distinction wouldn’t have been necessary when we were teenagers, because we’d have just used a different verb.  But I digress, back to knowing.  There are two ways in French to say “to know.”  Connaître (to know) and Savoir (to know).  The difference is…. Connaître refers to knowing someone on a deeper level and Savoir refers to knowing about someone or something.

If I wanted to describe knowing my best friend, I’d say “Je connais ma meilleure amie.”  If I wanted to say I know how to get to the store, I’d say “Je sais comment aller au magasin.”  And everyone would understand that I don’t mean I know about my best friend or that I intimately know the way to the store.  See how much better that is??

And now for the point.  I’ve recently discovered God in a whole new way.  Through a process of getting so endlessly tired of ‘religion’ (the art of following rules for the sake of following rules and usually losing Jesus in the mix), I went on a quest to find Jesus and bring Jesus back to the forefront of my faith journey.  You see, I’m a Christian…. but I’m one of those Christians that’s aiming for Follower of Jesus.  But this has not always been true of me.

I have spent YEARS (regrettably) doing the ‘church thing’ because I knew it was the right thing.  And only for that reason.  Not because I truly wanted community with fellow believers.  Not because I deeply wanted to know God more.  Not because I relished opportunities to enter into service of my King with fellow believers.  Nope.  Because it was right.  Because it was one of those things I was supposed to do.

And this sounds incredibly lame but I can’t think of a better way to say it.  I’ve found Jesus.  I am sitting here, writing to you, with a heart full of wanting my faith to go deeper, wanting to know my Saviour more, and never ever wanting to be in a place again where I’m complacent and going through the motions.

This process of connaître style knowledge of God led me to a decision this summer while at Camp.  I decided to get baptized a second time. 

I’m quite sure there are some of you out there going “whoa!  Doesn’t she know that baptism isn’t the way to Heaven and blah blah blah judgement.”

I do know that.  Je sais.  Je sais.  (see what I did there?)

I have not usually heard or felt very clearly any instructions from God.  I suppose that’s probably because I was rather far away or for whatever reason… I don’t know.  I mean…. who am I to suppose I know why God works the way He does?

Anyway.

This summer, I could not shake the notion that being baptized a second time was something God wanted me to do to make this new commitment — this finally realizing that I’d been using the wrong verb all these years — a public thing in front of people I cared about, who cared about me, who loved me, and who would keep me accountable in this next step.

I was baptized the first time when I was nine years old after having given my heart to Christ at eight after a Campfire at summer Camp (the very summer Camp where I now spend my summers blogging).  I understood what I was doing, sure… but it was admittedly far more of a ‘savoir’ understanding than a ‘connaître.’  I think that makes sense at 9 years old… but it doesn’t make sense at 28 and 29 years old to have a view of God that is distant and limited… not when you never walked away.

So I started seeking.  And finding.  All of this seeking and finding culminated in a conversation with one of the pastors of my new church, who happened to be one of our family camp speakers… asking basically if it’s ok to be baptized twice.

He explained baptism this way (language nerd alert):  the Greek word bapto means to wash… it was what would have been used for the people at the time going to the ritual baths and continually cleansing themselves.  The Greek word baptizo means transforming something in a way it can’t go back from.  Kind of like pickling a cucumber.  Once a cucumber has been turned into a pickle…. it doesn’t turn back into a cucumber over time.  So when I asked him if it was ok to be baptized twice, he explained that as an outward symbol of an inner commitment, if I was sincerely feeling like God was telling me to do something, I shouldn’t ignore it.  Not that one needs to be re-pickled, but as a demonstration of what God is doing right now.  Were we to have the conversation again verbatim next summer?  Yeah… it’d be a different answer… but given the transformation and my rediscovery of the Jesus I’d left hidden just beneath the surface, we both felt it was an appropriate expression.

My former Youth Pastor was up for our last week of camp.  He was the pastor for teen camp, and so I asked him if he would dunk me in the lake.  It was truly a memorable experience for me, and one I’ll refer back to for years as that moment when I said “I’m all in.  I want to KNOW You, and I will walk with You.”  Our worship leaders for the week jumped in and led those watching in “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective while I got dunked (do you know Rend Collective?  For those with a soul that sings folk music, it’ll be a breath of fresh air I promise), and I walked out rib-cage deep into the not-quite-warm-enough lake and came up a different person.  Symbolically, of course, but I know that I was being obedient, and I know that Jesus was smiling.

And I love that.

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The Keys to Traveling with Pets


I was recently approached by a fellow writer named Kendra who wondered if I’d collaborate with her on a project to share tips for traveling with pets.  If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know my Kloë is very important to me, so naturally this appealed to me, because I’ve got a pretty standard set of routines for when she and I travel together.

I was surprised to find though that Kendra’s (check her out on Twitter at @KendraThornton) routines are completely different from mine.  Check out what she has to say on how to travel with pets.

Going places with pets is a great idea especially if you love bringing your pet along. However, a good amount of planning is necessary to ensure that your furry friend has a fun trip too. I always go through a checklist to ensure that our dog has treats, water, food, treats, favorite toys and blankets so that she is always comfortable. My extended family is planning a trip to Chicago at the moment, and so it’s very important to me to get things all planned out before they leave as they will be bringing their dog. These are some of the best tips for traveling with pets that I have found.

Bring a Crate

Even though you may not want to crate a dog, I have found that they really like to be in a crate on vacations. It’s a familiar place, and it makes them safe no matter where we go. I bring along toys and blankets that are familiar to our dog so that she has the same scents and touches of home that make her feel safe. Before putting her in a crate, I always take her on a long walk for exercise just so she wants to rest in her crate when we get back.

Finding the Right Hotel

Some hotels out there have wonderful pet policies and even some amenities for pets. Whenever we travel with our dog, I pick a hotel that offers some kind of doggy breakfast or play area just for pets. If she starts to bark in the hotel room, I always take her out right away and burn off excess energy with a fun run around the hotel grounds. I suggested my family stay right in downtown Chicago, not only are there plenty of places to stay, but they are close to all the sites and are pet friendly too!

Staying Safe

Whether you plan on traveling on a plane or going out on a boat, it’s important to take the necessary precautions. Dogs and planes don’t really mix, but if you do plan on flying with your pet, always bring their favorite toys and follow PETA guidelines. If going out on a boat, make sure that pets have a flotation device on at all times.

Keeping Dogs Calm

One secret to ensuring that my dog is comfortable in new places is to bring along lavender oil. I find that just rubbing some on my hands and petting her will relax her even when she is frightened or not feeling well on long road trips. In addition, we take frequent stops so she can get out and look around while we are driving.

It’s important to plan ahead when bringing your pet along on any vacation. It will make their vacation just as fun as yours.

So my thoughts are as follows… I think Kloë would lose her mind if I crated her.  I have a hatch back so I lay the seats down and pad the back with a nice blanket, which gives her space.  I do this if I have little enough stuff that she’s ok back there sharing space with my stuff.  Otherwise, I leave the seats up, and she snoozes in the back seat on a hammock that prevents her from falling in between the seats into the foot room.  Mine looks about like this, though I bought it at Wal Mart for $20.00.  It’s lasted since she was super little, so it was a great purchase.

I have never taken Kloë on a plane, train, or boat.  If I do, however, I’ll be sure to take Kendra’s advice to heart!  Very good tips.

Lastly, I am totally going to try the lavender oil.  Kloë has taken recently to absolutely freaking out when we set out on car trips.  She doesn’t get sick or anything, but she cries for probably half an hour until she gives up the fight and stops the flip out.  When we head North for the summer, I’m going to try it.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

 

Do you have any tips for traveling with pets?  What do you do?