Duck and Cover

It seems to me that every generation has one…. a ridiculous way to placate the masses that they’re all going to be ok when it seems that everything’s absolutely falling to pieces.

When I was in University, I took a course toward my degree called History of the Cold War.  If memory serves correctly, it covered the years 1940-1970.  The range sounds right… anyway, that’s not the point.  I found the course interesting, despite a professor who lacked the ability to hold the attention of a room full of young History majors.

I don’t remember a lot from the course anymore — it’s been a shockingly long time since I sat in a History lecture.  I do remember one afternoon though, when we walked into class and there was a video on the screen, paused and ready to start once lecture started.  Trust me, you think little kids get excited when they find out they’re watching a movie in class?  So do University students.

Especially movies that are going to have them laughing uncontrollably for 9ish minutes.

We’d been talking about the fear that was pervasive about being bombed.  Air raids were a very real threat, and since the world had fairly recently discovered how to go nuclear, it was even more of a fear-inducing possibility.  People built bomb shelters in their yards and basements, ready to run and lock themselves in lead-lined concrete to hide out nuclear winter at a moment’s notice.

Do you remember doing tornado, lock down, and fire drills when you were a kid in elementary school, so that you knew what to do in case of those emergencies?  I know I did, but if you were a kid in 1950s America, you might also remember Duck and Cover drills.

I don’t know.  I wasn’t there.  Maybe this wasn’t a real thing.  But that day that we got so excited about a movie in a 3rd year university lecture, we were given the impression that kids in 1950s America did Duck and Cover drills.

If you have 9 spare minutes, prepare to chuckle at the absurdity of the idea that ducking under your desk and covering your head would save you from a nuclear warhead dropping on your school.

Duck and Cover

But what we talked about in that lecture that day was the false sense of security that this PSA (Public Service Announcement) could offer to those who were panic-stricken.  What if?!?!?!?!?!!?

I went out for dinner with my Grandparents this evening, and they said they remember being concerned about being bombed, and Grandma said she doesn’t feel like it’s much different from the fear of refugees not being safe to let into our countries.

But what my Grandma and I talked about next is what drove me to write this post.  Governments and politicians are always looking for ways to convince people that they’re going to be ok in the face of conflict.  Without that skill, there would likely be chaos.  What gets said to try to instill that confidence depends on the politician.  Justin Trudeau (my Prime Minister) is saying he wants to bring in 10,000 properly vetted and secured refugees by the end of 2015 and another 15,000 throughout 2016.  Donald Trump (hopefully not the President of the US) is saying we shouldn’t take refugees at all, though he’d consider it if they were Christians………. This from the man who thinks Starbucks should be boycotted because their holiday cups are red this year, and not Christmasy enough.  For the love.  Really?  That’s another post entirely.

In the face of this, my grandmother has gone to Chapters and bought an Arabic-English visual dictionary, so that when her church is able to interact with the refugee family they’re sponsoring, she can try to communicate with them.  Even in the face of uncertainty, because what if?  Instead of ducking and covering, she’s stretching out her hands.

I want to be my Grandma when I grow up.  For real.  Through the whole conversation, I was so encouraged that there are still people in this world who want to be the hands, feet, and face of Jesus.  People who don’t want to slam the doors of the safety of this country closed because some extremists did some terrible, horrible things.

I’m reminded many times daily lately of the passage in Matthew 25 where Jesus talks about feeding the hungry and caring for strangers, those who are sick, and those who are in prison.

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


Now, hear me.  I’m not saying fling the doors wide open, don’t do background checks, and leave the due diligence behind.  I’m not saying that.  I don’t believe that would be wise.

But what I am saying — loudly, and as clearly as I can — is that I refuse to let fear tell me to ignore the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the one needing clothes, the sick, or the imprisoned.  I refuse to let fear tell me that because there are risks, I shouldn’t welcome the chance to help a family of refugees start over.  Would I want the same treatment if I were in their position?  Yes.  Do I believe it’s what I’m called to?  Yes.

Is there reason to be fearful?  Probably.  But because I know I’m a child of the King, and because I know fear is not from God, I can safely acknowledge that God isn’t calling me to fear helping those in need.

Am I going to let fear dictate my actions?

No.  The cost of doing so is far too great this time.

Fear can not win.

This bothers me a latte…..

Alright, Western Christian World, please hear me.

The rest of the Western World thinks we’re insane right now.  INSANE.  Now, I say we very loosely, and ONLY because I know that there are many people out there right now shaking their heads because all the crazy Christians are at it again.  You see, the only interest I have in a Starbucks boycott is one that makes my preferred poison a little cheaper.  I have grown up things to buy, and in September I realized I spent 70.00 at Starbucks, and I freaked out a little.  The only good reason I have for a boycott is that my Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte, Soy, No Whip (with Laura written on the cup) costs $6.38 and that’s just crazy.

Not because the cups are red.

Certainly not because the cups are red.

But a pastor in Arizona has decided that it’s a fight worth fighting.

Let me ask a question:  When did Starbucks begin to define our relationship with Jesus?  Because Starbucks sure doesn’t define mine.  In my world, the only place where Jesus and Starbucks intersect is the place where I want to be able to be generous and helpful with the money I’m blessed with, and I can’t do that very well when I dump $70.00 in 30 days on coffee.  The end.

I typically like to stay out of these discussions — the ones where, as a culture, we seem to get all bent out of shape because someone said Happy Holidays to us instead of Merry Christmas, or because Starbucks didn’t put the appropriate number of Snowflakes and Reindeer on their cups this year.  Or maybe it’s because “O Holy Night” isn’t allowed to be sung as widely as “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.”  I don’t even care.  None of that gets in the way of my relationship with Jesus.  I’ve never been a “Keep Christ in Christmas” kind of person, because none of it ever will.  Christ has always been in my Christmas, and always will be.

And quite frankly, the fact that Christ is not the focus of Starbucks when they plan their November-December advertising campaigns does not surprise me.  You know what would?  A Nativity Scene on a Starbucks cup.  Because Starbucks is not a Christian organization, claiming to believe in or support the message of Jesus.  For the same reason that I don’t expect my politicians to deliver policies and laws that all line up with Biblical principles, I don’t expect Starbucks to advertise with Jesus in mind.  Not Starbucks, not Wal Mart, not anything.  Not unless somewhere in their mission statement they claim to be believers and supporters of the message of Jesus Christ would I expect advertising to reflect that.

Never mind that by very definition, those out there who are freaking out can’t even seem to figure out how to boycott…. I mean, honestly, go to Starbucks and tell the barista your name is “Merry Christmas” so they’ll have to write that on the cup?  The barista doesn’t care!  He or she makes minimum wage to serve you your coffee.  He is not the one who designed the red cup, nor is she the one who makes marketing decisions.  The very fact that you’re STILL BUYING THE COFFEE makes it not a boycott.

I’ve boycotted a few things in my day.  Starbucks happens to be one of them.  You see, last year, of all the atrocities, Starbucks decided not to run the Egg Nog Latte in Ontario.  I joined the #wewantboth Twitter movement.  I wrote angry emails.  And I never once gave in and bought a Gingerbread Latte.  I was done with Starbucks.  Until, of course, they caved under the #wewantboth pressure and released the egg nog latte in late November, and then I drank like 4 a week until Christmas.  #Confessiontime.

I boycotted Boston Pizza once because they charged me 2.00 for a little cup of mayonnaise for my fries when they wouldn’t have charged me at all if I used a whole bottle of ketchup.  They also didn’t tell me that was going to happen when I asked for it.  Granted, I didn’t like Boston Pizza that much to begin with, so I like to use that as a good reason not to go ever again, but it’s mostly because I just don’t want to.

I also boycotted Subway because the Sandwich Artist wouldn’t give me extra green pepper on my egg salad sub when that was the only vegetable I wanted, and said she’d have to charge me double vegetables.  That lasted until the next time I wanted a sub — and the next time I had a different sandwich artist and she seemed to be ok with me wanting extra green peppers instead of anything else.

All this to say — I’m guilty of boycotting restaurants and establishments for unbelievably stupid reasons.

But boycotting Starbucks because they’re waging a war on Christmas?  That’s absurd.  Donald Trump suggested a Starbucks boycott over it, so…. count me out.

However, Ellen DeGeneres did get in on it, and the result was, as usual, awesome.  If you’re not an Ellen fan, just don’t watch the clip… but… satire at its finest.

I am genuinely concerned that we all look crazy.  Can I wave a “I’m not crazy” flag?  There is one portion of Christians who seem to see a war on Christmas everywhere, and may even genuinely believe that they are being persecuted.  Well…. they’re not.

So if you’re one of the people who believes that Starbucks has personally affronted you in some way this season, please keep reading — because I have compiled a wide variety of sources that show just what people think of us right now.

If you’re one of the people who think that believing in Jesus means I am in with the Starbucks boycott — please understand that for a large, huge, giant number of us… this is not true.  Even Candace Cameron Bure got in on the posting action this morning — to confirm that red Starbucks cups have nothing to do with the Christian worldview of Christmas, and that Starbucks is delicious.

Starbucks War on Christmas?

It’s a red cup, folks.

Until Starbucks puts a baby Jesus or nativity scene on the cup while saying Merry Christmas, then pulls it because they say it’s offensive, let’s talk. I don’t remember Starbucks ever being a Christian company, do you?

A Santa, a snowflake, some holly, a polar bear, some jingle bells or plain red cup don’t define Christmas for me as a Christian. My relationship with Jesus does.

So, I will joyfully sip on my Starbucks coffee, in a plain red cup, and instead of complaining about the lack of decorations, I will lovingly share the good news of Jesus Christ with friends and co-workers or anyone who’s willing to engage in conversation.

Merry Christmas to all!

Just…. don’t we have better things to worry about?

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Another Facebook user (Austin Blood) says:

This morning I saw something on The Today Show that absolutely blew my brain. Apparently Starbucks has redesigned the look of their annual holiday cup and people are up in arms over the change. Like, REALLY up in arms. As in folks are so furious that it’s become national news.


Over a cup?

I guess these stiffs are angry because they feel this year’s cup doesn’t accurately represent the holiday season. Gone are the snowflakes, snowmen, and mistletoe from years past and in their place is a simple red cup with a green Starbucks logo. As a result, Starbucks now stands accused of waging a war on Christmas.


We’ve got ISIS planting on bombs on passenger planes, children being sold into sexual slavery, millions of Syrian refugees wondering where their next meal will come from and you folks are screaming about a cup?

If that isn’t absurd, I don’t know what is.

Tell me something…

How does this even begin to compare to the REAL problems we face? Like the single mother who struggles to put food on her table? Or the grief-stricken father who’s losing his son to cancer?

There’s absolutely NO comparison.

And it’s only because your life is so blessed and carefree that you even have the luxury of getting your Rudolph the Reindeer knickers in a twist over something so petty. So Starbucks redesigned their cup with a minimalist theme. So what? It’s not a war on Christmas, an assault on your belief system or an attack on traditional values. It’s a cup. Plain and simple.

So here’s a thought for you…

Instead of trying to change the cup, be thankful you can afford the cup. Trust me, the fact that you’re even standing in line at a Starbucks means your life is pretty damn good. So focus on that instead. Life is way too short to get your panties in a wad over something so petty and insignificant.

So now that we’re clear, won’t you join me for a Starbucks coffee with a side of holiday cheer? I certainly hope so. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your shiny red cup.

All the best,

Austin Blood

and while I don’t like the way words like “you people” are thrown around, I have to say, I agree with everything he said… including the picture he posted with his post. #areyouserious?

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So, all this to say:  I’ve been trying to avoid Starbucks because of the cost, but just to satisfy some innate longing to not fall victim to this madness, I’d like to offer anyone who wants to join me in having a Chestnut Praline Latte this week, for no other reason than they’re delicious.

That’s all.

’til you kiss me quiet

oh, this song….. I sing this song at the top of my lungs in the car every time it comes on.

Have you heard this song?  To me, it means a lot.  I don’t know if this is the song’s intent, but it’s like an anthem for every girl who’s every been told she talks too much, and it gives me hope that some day I’ll find someone who will think it’s adorable, and who will shut me up by kissing me instead of rolling his eyes at me and asking if I ever stop talking.

Check it:

Footnote:  Jess Moskaluke has an unbelievable voice.  This isn’t even going to be a humble brag — just a brag — but I don’t normally find that I struggle to sing along with much that I listen to.  There are only two female artists I can think of in the country market that I really struggle to belt with.  One is Carrie Underwood, and the other is Jess Moskaluke.  Huge respect.

Here are the lyrics.

The Memory Weaver | A Book Review

Most of the time, when I read a book and there are lines in it that really hit me, I either underline them, take pictures of the page with my phone, or stick sticky notes in the book.

This book had so many deep, thought provoking lines in it about how we weave memories together, whether the memories are real or somehow got twisted in our brains as time passed, but ….. I couldn’t write any of them down or do anything about them.

This month got away from me, and in order to finish this book by the appropriate review deadline, I downloaded an audio book version of it so I could listen to it in the 11 hours I’ve spent in my car in the last 5 days.  I could not have read the book that quickly, so I am very thankful this month for a free trial of the Amazon Audible app, which gives you one free audio book and a month’s use for no charge.  If you try it out though, you’ll want to remember to cancel your Audible membership afterward if you don’t intend to keep it, otherwise it’ll be one of those things that slips onto your credit card without your remembering it happened until you get the bill.  I’m not speaking from experience on this particular experience, but it happened to me with Amazon’s PRIME free trial, so…. off I go to cancel my membership, haha.

Disappointment aside that I didn’t get to write down and share some of the stellar quotes about weaving our memories through our consciousness with you, I can tell you that I really enjoyed listening to this book.

I’m not sure that I would have enjoyed reading it, but I guess I’ll never know, now!

Here’s the excerpt:

Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now a mother of two, Eliza faces a new kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her mother’s grave–and returning to the land of her captivity. Haunted by memories and hounded by struggle, Eliza longs to know how her mother dealt with the trauma of their ordeal. As she searches the pages of her mother’s diary, Eliza is stunned to find that her own recollections tell only part of the story.

I love that this was based on a true story — the story of a strong woman fighting to sort out which of her memories of a traumatic past actually happened, and which are the result of twisted details and some imagination.

It was really interesting to me how Jane Kirkpatrick literally wove the memories through the story of Eliza’s present, mixing her past in so well with the current plot timeline.  It was also interesting to me how well edited the book was — making sure that the diary entries from Eliza’s mother were included in just the right places, which gave me as the reader/listener insight into Eliza’s life that Eliza hadn’t gleaned yet.  It was like learning about Eliza as she learned about herself.

I highly recommend this book if you like interesting writing.  The details were vivid, truly painting a picture.  For me, if I’m going to visualize a book, I need those details because my brain will otherwise not bring out a picture.  This is the first book where I’ve been able to picture the setting and the characters in a long time!  I found, too, that the details helped me bond with the characters.

I’m sure that so much thought, research, and time went into the writing of this book, and I have a huge respect for that.

If you’re looking a deep, thought-provoking read, head on over to amazon or your nearest Christian book store and pick this up.  I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Also — can I have the dress that Eliza’s wearing on the front cover of the book?  I know it’s not a real thing…. and I know it’s not in fashion right now, but I’d wear that everywhere…. except when I missed my sweat pants or my flared, intentionally tattered and ripped jeans.  I love 2015 :)

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I received this book as part of the Nuts About Books program with Graf Martin Communications, Inc. in conjunction with Baker Publishing Group, and was not required to give a positive review.

An Open Letter to Justin Trudeau

Dear Mr. Trudeau,

Congratulations on becoming this country’s most recent Prime Minister.  It’s a big job, and someone has to do it.  I’m thankful this week that there are people who are passionate about the position who want it, who’ve probably wanted it all their lives (especially if it literally runs in the family), and who have ideas for how they would keep this country great if given the chance.

You’ve got ideas.  You have lots of them.  Some of them make me really nervous, but some of them have me pretty excited for the future of Canada.  I think this balance is true more of your party and your leadership than it was of any other.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to find a fresh face and a new party in charge, even if this wasn’t the change I wanted.  I’m a Christian, and I’ve heard more than my fair share of “Christians only vote Conservative” throughout the course of this disastrously long election (thanks, Conservatives…), and I’m really hoping, Mr. Trudeau, that you don’t take the times I’ve defended you, your party, and the NDP along with Mr. Mulcair and throw it all away.

I want to see real change in my beautiful country, and I don’t want to see that change come at the expense of our international reputation, or our financial credit rating.  It seems the world is watching you very intently right now.  Maybe not for the right reasons, but there are people watching.  It’s not a responsibility I’d welcome, but you seem to have big shoulders (pun intended, peeps.  pun intended.), so I hope you’re sitting at 24 Sussex tonight with your family, thinking “challenge accepted.”

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As a Christian, I will pray for you, for your party, and for your cabinet.  I pray against some of the ideas you have that would make me sick, and I pray that some of the ideas that make me optimistic come to fruition.

But most of all, I hold out hope.  I hold out a real hope that I am not of this world and that ultimately, there could not have been a perfect choice for leader of Canada because all humans are flawed sinners.  A long time ago, I gave up on the idea that I needed to vote in a leader who would perfectly espouse Christian values, because even Christian values within different sides of Christianity are dramatically different.

My hope for you in your next four years is that you stay you.  Don’t let the media, your cabinet, the opposition, or the public tell you how to be you.  You know how to do that better than anyone.  You ran a smart, respectable campaign.  You’re an intelligent man.  Do what you can with what you have, trust those closest to you, and stay true to what got you in.

You’ve been received well by a lot of Canadians — we had the highest turnout of voters in 2 decades, and you won back an unfathomable amount of seats, especially considering how far your party fell at the hands of Michael Ignatieff.

Please do well.  Fight hard for Canada, and fight hard for Canadians.  We’ve put a great deal of implied trust in you, and I urge you to please not take that for granted.

Ultimately, though, I trust in my God and my King, and so I relinquish all of the stress and mild freak outs that this election has caused, and I give it up.

Mr. Trudeau, I’m excited to see what you can do, and I hope you’ll do it well, but in the end — my place is not here.  So while I’m keeping an eye on you, I’m also trusting that God has a plan for my country.  While I respect your power as Prime Minister a great deal, I mean no offense when I tell you that you can’t hold a candle to that.  Even if my Canada doesn’t stay the same, I take refuge knowing that the Kingdom for which I’m bound will.



The Car (In)decision

I’ve just started a new job.  My new job has me driving more than 10 km each direction to work (more than any distance in my entire professional career, and more than any distance ever that I’ve driven to work).  I’m doing English as a Second Language support for 8 different schools all along Lake Erie (which I don’t live that close to), and I have to drive, most days at least 45 minutes each direction.

Mind you, I love my new job.  I’m having a lot of fun, and I’m currently enjoying the drive.  Plus — I’m being paid mileage, which I didn’t know when I applied for the job, but it’s a great perk.  In my first week, I tacked 500 km on my car.  My first mileage claim, which I filed yesterday for the month of September, was for 1120 km.  Insane.  For the last 8 years, I’ve put no more than 100 km per week on my vehicle for work.

Because of this, and the fact that I drive a 10 year old car, it felt like it was time to start car shopping.  My mileage can, of course, cover the payment to buy a new one.

I found though that I couldn’t make a decision, and I didn’t know why.  See, I’ve been driving a Toyota Matrix for a long time, and before that I had a Toyota Matrix, and before that?  A Toyota Corolla.  It would make sense given my record that I’d be able to one-stop-shop by walking into a Toyota dealership.

But part of my consideration in car shopping was that I haaaaate winter driving.  Hate.  So I figured that since I had the money, I could go to something bigger.  Tougher.  Gutsier.  Something that’ll tough its way through the snow a bit better.  Something with AWD, or… even better…. 4×4.  I wanted a Jeep.  I’ve always wanted a Jeep.  And when I started shopping and I saw the new Jeep Renegade, I knew I had to drive one.

I started researching, and I fell in love with the Renegade.  I mean, look at it…

But I also test drove a Chevy Trax, a Nissan Rogue (which I also loved, and probably would have gone with…), a Toyota Rav4 (brand loyalty for the win), a Mazda CX-5, a Honda CRV, and a Honda HRV.

I had pretty much come to a decision.  I was going to buy a Nissan Rogue AWD, and the only thing I was sad about was that it didn’t come in red in the base trim level.  I wanted something flashy.



the niggling feeling that something wasn’t right would not go away.

A week ago, I was out with friends having an extreme brownie night (I have awesome friends!) and a few of us started talking about car accidents.  Three of us had been in pretty serious ones, and we’re all very lucky to be alive.

I don’t know if I’ve ever really laid out how mine made me feel in this location.  It’s been hard for me to talk about to pretty much anyone.  I had two car accidents in 6 months, and they left me pretty much a wreck behind the wheel — the second one in particular.

The first one was an improper left turn on my part, and while I couldn’t see properly, it’s still my fault, because I pulled into traffic making a left turn thinking that I was in the clear.  I looked, I didn’t see anything coming, but when I was promptly T-Boned it was clear that I was wrong.  A combination of factors led to that, but ultimately — my car was written off and I was very upset.  In the second one, I was merging onto the 401 at the end of December, and hit a patch of black ice as I was changing lines.  My back tires slid out from behind me, I fish tailed a few times, and then I don’t remember anything else until I was on my roof skidding to a stop, but both my passenger and the car behind me informed me that I hit the cement median and rolled back into the highway three times before skidding to a stop of the roof.  My brain has obviously censored a chunk of that experience out, and I think I’ll be delighted if I never retrieve that memory.

That second crash left me in a shaky, unsure of myself, out of control mess.  I didn’t feel like I had control of anything, and I couldn’t fall asleep without seeing the sparks of my roof against pavement for months.  I couldn’t merge onto the 401 without hyperventilating for three months after the accident, and I could hardly take care of myself.  My world felt like it was caving in around me (for more reasons than just the accident), but it’s created a marked fear of winter driving in me that I haven’t even consciously acknowledged in years.

It hasn’t occurred to me in years that the reason I hate winter driving so much is because the worst year of my existence started around the time I lost my back end on black ice.

When that thought hit me though, I immediately wondered the question that would ultimately be the undoing of my car decision — am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because it’s the practical and wise decision?  Or am I buying a 30,000 dollar vehicle because I’m scared?

I knew right away that if the answer was that I was scared, I was going to spend 30 grand just to be scared the first time it snowed, and that felt like a really big waste of money.

If the reason was that a ten year old vehicle won’t withstand the piling on of kilometers and all that extra maintenance, well, then it would make sense to make the purchase while my ten year old car still has any trade in value.

But after a lot of soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I was scrambling for a new car so that I could feel in control and safe…. and a car can’t give me that level of security.  The following doubts started to creep in:  How much worse would it feel to ditch a 2015 than a 2006?  I’m spending a lot of time on country roads… what if I slide off into a ditch?  What if I damage my new car?  What if I hammer it so hard with kilometers that the life is gone out of it before I’m finished paying for it in 84 months?  How will I ever pay off my line of credit (that I’m doing pretty well at right now) if every time I make more money, I take on a new payment for something else?

Ultimately, after wrestling all those doubts to the ground and praying for direction and wisdom, I decided what to buy.

I am buying good snow tires, new windshield wipers, new headlight bulbs, and I’m getting my headlights polished.  Instead of putting my trust in a 30,000 dollar car, I’m going to put my trust in the only place it belongs, and trust that God has my back, and that maybe, just maybe… this can be the winter that I don’t panic every time I have to drive in the snow.  Maybe.

I discovered while I was car shopping that Toyota no longer makes the Matrix (what I’m driving now), and I found that I was very sad.  If they still made it, I’d likely have signed on the dotted line for an All Wheel Drive Matrix before any of the second thoughts could have set in.  So I guess… thanks, Toyota?

Today, while catching up on some TV I missed the last two days, I saw a commercial for the new Scion iM.

2016 Scion iM

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2006 Toyota Matrix
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Do you see the resemblance?  I think — when I’m finally ready for a car purchase to be the practical decision, and not one that I made out of fear and lack of control — it might be an AWD Scion iM.  Cuz…. pretty!

Or a Nissan Rogue….

Or, who knows, I did enter a contest to win a Jeep…. maybe I’ll get my Renegade after all.

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Simply Tuesday | A Book Review

Oh, how I love this book.  I do.  It’s a breath of fresh air that my soul needs.  There’s a brilliance to this book that I didn’t expect.  It’s SIMPLY refreshing (get it? :p), and it’s what my soul needs in this moment, when I’m tempted to go build a city rather than find a bench. (I know that probably doesn’t make sense to you right now, but by the end of Chapter 1, it will, and you’ll thank Emily P. Freeman for it)

I find it funny that each book I read that is not a novel, it seems that I put off reading them.  I put them off just long enough that they seem to hit me right when I need them.  It’s like my procrastination pays off in the form of soul food!

Emily P. Freeman walks her readers on a journey toward finding solace in feeling small by highlighting the life of Jesus and all kinds of personal anecdotes that can make us just stop and rest in the Spirit, even on Tuesdays, our most ordinary day — which can build habits for the rest of our weeks.

My soul is restless right now, for a great many reasons, and Emily’s book is reminding me to just take a breath.

I highly encourage you to read it, as her writing mixes a healthy stir of poignant anecdotes, humorous quips, scripture references, and deep thoughts to make you go “hmmm.”

Will you do your soul a favour?  Will you slow down long enough to pick up this book?  I’m glad I did.

From the back cover

Is your soul being held hostage by hustle?

If you’ve grown weary of do more and dream bigger, small-moment living is just what you need. Real life happens in the small moments we find on the most ordinary day of the week. Tuesday holds secrets we can’t see in a hurry–secrets not just for our schedules but for our souls. In Simply Tuesday, Emily P. Freeman shows you how to

· embrace today’s work
· find contentment in the now
· replace competition with connection
· learn to breathe in a breathless world

This review was written in exchange for the book in association with Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. and Revell Publishing.  I am not required to write positive reviews.

Not By Sight | A Book Review

I was gone all summer, and while I was gone I read 11 books.  I thought I had created this great new habit in myself, until I got home and discovered that the only reason I was able and willing to sow such a great habit was that I didn’t have the Internet available to stream Netflix.

Before I left, I started reading “Not By Sight” by Kate Breslin.  As much as I read so much so quickly in the two months between school ending and starting back up, this book was not one of them.  I found that it started very slowly.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a feminist and I love how far we’ve come as a gender in gaining recognition as not being sub-human.  So when I read the description of a book about a suffragette who desperately wanted to help with the war effort in World War 1 England, I was very excited.  I was a little disappointed though because it started off so slowly.

It did pick up.  Once Grace joins the war effort in her own way, and her life gets entangled into Jack’s (I won’t say more than that), it does get interesting.  I dare say that Kate Breslin has quite a way with words in the way she has Grace use them.  I loved that part.

It struck me very much as reminiscent of Downton Abbey, which I like but don’t find it has enough action to it… and that’s probably where my review comes from as well.

Once the book got to the end, I found I was left wanting more.  I suppose what I wanted was more World War 1 detail, and more battle-style conflict.  To me, when I read a WWI or WWII era historical novel, I always revel in the historical details.  This being a historical romance though, that wasn’t the focus and I understand that.  The book was decent if you stick through the slow start, I just wish there had been more action.  The historical details were thoroughly researched, and Breslin paints a brilliant picture of what Britain would have looked like in 1917.

If you’re looking for a good romance with characters that will fight their odds and the circumstances that life throws at them, then “Not By Sight” would be a good choice for you.

This review was written in exchange for a copy of the book, provided by Graf Martin Communications, Inc. and Bethany House Publishing.  I did not have to provide a positive review.

Finding My Place

I started a new job today.  Well, kind of.  We haven’t met any of our kiddos yet, because it would be really overwhelming to start English Language Support on your first day.

I’ve transitioned from Grade 1 and 2 Science and Social Studies to Grade 1-8 English Language Support.  I couldn’t be more excited.

But with change always comes a bit of trepidation and fear.  As I wrote earlier this week, change kind of terrifies me.  I have to find my place in this new universe.  One where all of a sudden I don’t really know what I’m doing like I have in the last couple of years, but instead I don’t have a clue what I’m doing and I’m by far the youngest person on the team.

Have you ever been the newbie on a team, and found yourself in a position where you’re relying on everyone around you to help you through your new task?  That’s where I feel like I am.

I don’t know what to do in this space — find my place and fit in, I suppose.  I don’t have much of a choice.

But in other, exciting news, I get to meet all my kiddos next week, and while I don’t have any clue what I’m doing, I’m sure I’ll learn quickly!  I miss kids.  I found myself all day today (during the first day of school) being jealous of everyone in a classroom getting to hear all the hilarious things kids come up with!

That time I nearly quit Facebook

Quitting Facebook seems to be the thing to do to make a statement these days.  Tired of the drama?  Pull yourself out of it by deleting your Facebook account.  The truth is, I know very few people who don’t have a Facebook account, and I can’t say I ever handle it gracefully when I find out.

The conversation usually goes pretty much exactly like this:

Me:  I’ll be in touch.  I’ll add you on Facebook and then just send you a message.
My Conversation Partner (CP):  I don’t have Facebook
Me:  *stunned silence* You don’t… have Facebook??  Why not??
CP:  It’s a big waste of time and I just don’t like dealing with all the drama.

(or something fairly similar to that)

I think that the reason it always shocks me so much is that I absolutely love Facebook.  To be honest, I spend an inordinately large amount of time on Facebook, and while the drama has gotten to me from time to time, I find I can usually solve the problem by unfollowing something or taking a break.  I have never wanted to quit before.

Until about two weeks ago.

I couldn’t bring myself to actually cut the cord, because the reasons I love Facebook are that I can keep up with family and friends that I don’t see regularly, and the idea that I wouldn’t be able to see what those peeps were up to broke me a little bit.  But those same reasons that I love it are also the reasons I was hating it.

I’m mostly an extrovert.  For the past 6 years, my entire summer has been spent at Camp, surrounded by people, and at most times with not enough alone time.  I’ve got a few introverted tendencies that pop out when I’ve just spent too much time surrounded by people, but I just need a couple hours to myself (usually with a book), and then I’m good to go again!  I would hands down consider myself an extrovert.  This summer though, I came home early.  I wasn’t working very hard and I missed my friends, so a week and a half before the end of the ministry season, I packed my car up and made the trek back South.  The first two days of unpacking, cleaning, and organizing while getting ready for another school year to start were amazing.  They were what my tired body and soul needed, even though it was exhausting.  I’ve never gone into a school year all unpacked with a clean house before…. likely because I tend to get home from Camp at 11:30 pm on Labour Day, and have to get up 7.5 hours later and go back to work.  I was loving every moment of my solitude, and I wasn’t spending a lot of time on Facebook OR Netflix (which was precisely what I told everyone I was going home to do).

Then I got lonely.  So, so lonely.  I had nothing really to do once I was unpacked and my basement was clean and organized, so I collapsed onto my couch with a bag of chips and logged into Netflix.  While binge watching Being Erica, I scrolled mindlessly through Facebook to catch up on things I’d missed from having limited and unreliable Internet access for 8 weeks.

But it made me sad!  Facebook isn’t supposed to make me sad, but I found that while I sat by myself, after more than enough alone time for an extrovert, I started looking at the cool things my friends were doing, and instead of being happy for them and enjoying the adventures of the people I care about, I got jealous.  And sad.  And lonely.

After a day or two of mindless scrolling, getting sadder and sadder and more and more lonely, I came to the fed-up conclusion that I needed to take a break from Facebook.  I needed to quit.  I needed to walk away from it, and even though I’d be sad not to see updates, it would better for my mental health.

Except I made it only a few hours before I wanted to share a picture.  And then I made it only another half an hour before someone commented on the picture and I wanted to see what they said… and so on.

What I discovered was that I didn’t need a break from Facebook.  Sure, I probably needed to not spend hours at a time just scrolling through my feed while I binge-watched Netflix…. I did go play my violin, play with my dog, write for a bit, organize more things, and get my back to school shopping done… because that much screen time isn’t helpful or healthy no matter what the circumstances… but I didn’t quit Facebook.  I discovered that it was my attitude toward the information I was receiving that I needed to change.

While I was scrolling, I came across this post from Blog Her written by a woman apologizing to a friend for unfollowing her on Facebook because she was jealous of the great life she appeared to have.  When I read it, I remembered some of the statistics I’ve read while looking into the effects of Social Media on my students.  Apparently I’m vulnerable to the effects myself….

If we compare ourselves to others, regardless of the circumstances, we will never be satisfied with what we have.  And how can we be happy and content when we’re constantly jealous of what others have?  But what I have to remember is that while I’m sitting on my couch and I’m sad because I’m bored and lonely, I’m comparing myself to the version of reality everyone else is posting.  Their best faces go forward on Facebook, just like mine does, and that’s what I think is one of the biggest dangers to the comparison game.

I stumbled across this yesterday, which is also apt here.

Image Source

The reality is that somewhere, someone may be scrolling through their feed and wishing their life was as cool as mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok for me to compare my life to anyone else’s.

My life is great.  I have fantastic friends, and an exciting new job adventure starting on Tuesday, and so I don’t need to read what my friends, family, and acquaintances are up to and be sad.  I instead can praise God for the great things they have going for them, and I can be thrilled for their successes.

It’s when I stop being able to do that that it may genuinely be time to get off Facebook… because otherwise what’s the point?