One Word for 2014. Some goals, and my favourite posts from 2013.


I had actually already thought about my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 when I read She Loves Magazine’s One Word idea for the year.  I’ve decided to combine this with Mama Kat’s writing prompts, and add in my top 12 blog posts from 2013 and to talk about some Resolutions, or anti-resolutions if you will.

Here’s what I love about this one-word idea, to get myself back on track.

You pick one word for 2014.  Not a bunch of New Years’ Resolutions.  Not a bunch of lofty probably unattainable goals that you’ll be discouraged over later.  No.  One word.  I had already thought about it.  I had already given 2014 enough thought to decide that the only thing I’ll be ‘resolving’ is this:  value.  I will value myself.  I will value those around me.  I will refuse to devalue myself on account of things of this world.  I will wrap my value up in things of Christ, knowing that that’s where my true value is to be found.  I described this idea to my parents as “I will be less hard on myself,” but when I saw the One Word idea put out by She Loves, I wracked my brain for one word.

So the things I’m not resolving to this year, because I’ve resolved to them every year and failed:

I’m not going to put a number on weight loss.  Instead, I’ll value myself enough to make healthy choices, and if that results in weight loss — awesome.

I’m not going to put a kilometre goal on running.  I haven’t been able to run in such a long time because of a stupid ankle injury from LAST CHRISTMAS that I may stick with boxing and take up swimming instead anyway :p  I will value myself enough to know that I don’t need to obsess, and that if I don’t get in a certain number of kilometres or minutes or whatever… accomplished in a week, that doesn’t mean I’m a failure or that I should be so hard on myself.

I’m not going to put a ‘I hope to be in a committed relationship before I’m 30’ marker on this year, because that doesn’t value my singleness or myself AS a single individual.  I will instead recognize that I have value whether single or coupled.  Besides, I’m currently rocking the preferable term, ‘independently owned and operated.’

I have a few things I’d like to accomplish this year, certainly, but these things have less to do with beginning a new year, and more to do with being a person who likes to set goals for herself.  Most notably, I’d like to rock the violin this year.  I’m starting a 52 week money saving challenge with the end goal being a stellar (probably refurbished) violin which was not made in China and which will not break as easily (mine’s currently with a repair guy and I have a borrowed one.  Handing it over to a stranger was like turning over my baby.  It was sad).  I actually may have a resolution for 2015… I’d really like to enter the Canadian Open Fiddling Competition held every year in Shelburne.  I went with my Grandparents for the first time this past August… and I was enraptured.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for this August.  Maybe next year though 😉

Ann Voskamp summarizes really well my thoughts on heading into 2014.  I want to fall forward, not stumble backwards.  Check this out.  Wonderful words, here.

And as I get ready to usher in 2014 with One Word, I’m going to bid 2013 farewell with a few of my favourite blogs from this year (both my posts and those that I follow).  I’ll do 12 of each.  One for each month, I suppose.  Check out Sarah Bessey’s post along the same idea.

First:  Blogs I followed.

Tim and Olive, Olive To Run, A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp), Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey, Megan Gahan, Sometimes Screaming Helps (Sarah Richardson), Holley Gerth, She Loves Magazine, The Young Woman’s Bucket List, Mama’s Losin It, Darcie the Kindred Spirit, The Road To Rome, Avoiding Neverland (I know… that’s 14.)

Second:  My top 12 posts from 2013.

1.  My ‘2nd Blogiversary Post — I Will Not Humour the Cray Crays.‘  I wrote this just kind of summarizing my most recent dating experiences, and didn’t expect it to get kind of out of hand.  Blog Her picked it up and featured it and it got like 1300 views or something insane like that.  For a fairly newbie blogger, it just blew my mind.

2.  I Am Not Bible Barbie.  This was another one that kind of blew up on me.  I had decided that I’d had enough of being held to this impossible standard by potential suitors, and some friends and I were talking about it at church, and this happened.  And then 450 views happened.  It was my first big post, and the first one that blew up without help from anything else.

3.  The More Boys I Meet, The More I Love My Dog.  I’d been on an AWFUL date.  Seriously, read the story.  I decided that I’d better channel it into good writing that would get new readers, lest I sit around and mope.  It was good therapy 🙂

4.  I Don’t Want to Marry Bible Ken.  The day after I wrote I Am Not Bible Barbie, it occurred to me that I had picked on guys for holding us women to this impossible standard, when we do the same thing to them, and that I don’t want to keep looking for the ‘perfect’ guy.  Read on to find out why 🙂

5.  Singleness is not a disease, nor a curse, nor an affliction… nor is it a problem of mine for others to solve.  I wrote this post about a year ago.  Someone obviously had a ‘solution’ to my singleness problem.  I haven’t re-read these posts, so I don’t remember what prompted it, but it sounds angsty.

6, 7, 8, and 9 were parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 in a series of stories I wrote about a girl named Anna (fictional) who was sold into the sex trade.  I wrote it for The Exodus Road, an organization which works to spread awareness about sex trafficking and the work that’s being done to combat it.  Read Part 1 here.  Part 2 is herePart 3 is hereAnd Part 4 is here. Please read them.  They were hard to write because the details were supplied by Exodus Road, and I knew they were technically fictional, but it was gut-wrenching to think that even though I was making this up, it could very easily have happened in real life.

10.  How I Feel About Endings — A Tribute to My Buddy, Jack.  Hardest post to write this year probably.  I wrote it in the days before we had to have one of my Mom’s dogs, Jack, put down… he was very sick, we had no choice, really.  But it was really hard.  So hard.

11. A Picture’s Worth A Whole Lot… Apparently.  I updated my profile pictures on the dating sites I was registered on because a friend of mine showed me how to use makeup…. and like magic, I had a whole bunch of interest generated.  It caused me to reflect on the value we place on looks.

And tied for number 12 (yes, I know that means I have 13… but I have 4 tied into one story that took 4 months to finish, so I think it’s fair.  Also — it’s my blog.  #idowhatiwant)  “My ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment about Rob Ford’ and ‘A Duck Call for Love.’  Both of these posts were written in response to public figures blowing it in view of the entire Western World, and how I feel like there has to be a better way to do things than we’ve been doing it.  As Christians, we’re called to love, and that’s what both of these posts are aimed at.

favourite TV

Bones, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Nashville, Chicago Fire, Rick Mercer Report, Elementary, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, and… apparently there are only 11 of these.  That’s ok.

Books:  Confession ~ I didn’t read anywhere close to 12 books this year.  I’d like to read more in this next year.  I guess that comes with valuing my intelligence and not squandering so much time on Facebook?  We’ll see how that goes.

Pirates of Savannah, The Sacred Search, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Made To Crave, Every Body Matters, The Sweet By and By, Love Lifted Me, Softly And Tenderly, Flabbergasted.  I can’t think of any more that I read this past year.  There might be more, though that number in itself kind of shocked me.  I have a giant stack beside my bed to get through still, so… we’ll see how that goes :p  Next on the list, which I’m really excited about (just have to finish The Sacred Search first), is Real Men Don’t Text, by Ruthie Dean.  Can’t wait.

Movies: I should preface this — I’m not super picky when it comes to movies.  I’m pretty easy to please.  The only one I really didn’t like was The Heat.

The Hobbit, Frozen, The Butler, Captain Phillips, 12 Years A Slave, The Family, Oz the Great and Powerful, Gangster Squad, Safe Haven, Olympus Has Fallen, 42, Runner Runner.  Those are just ones I saw in theatres.  Like I said, I’m pretty indiscriminate.

Music:  I could never pick just 12 songs.  I guess I can pick 12 artists, though.  Note:  I fell in love with Eastern Canadian Folk Music this year.  So…. get ready for this.  That’s right… The Rankins are in there.  Classic, 1990s Rankin Family.  On repeat in the car for the last 5 days.  Straight.  Legit.

Charlie Worsham, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, The Rankins, The Band Perry, Luke Bryan, Third Day, Dixie Chicks, Sugarland, Duelling Fiddlers, The Piano Guys, Lady Antebellum, Lindsey Stirling.  I know, I know, that’s 13.  It’s the best I could do.

And that’s it, guys!  That’s it for 2013!  Stay tuned for January.  Another NaBloPoMo kicks off January 1.  Am I insane for taking the challenge during a Report Card month?  Probably, but it could lead to some really entertaining (albeit brief) posts 😉

Snow – My love-hate relationship with it…. and Pictures with Santa.


Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop this week has two prompts that I’m going to jump all over.  One is this one, on snow.  The other is Santa Pictures.

I have a love-hate relationship with snow.

I love looking at it.

I love how people say each and every individual snowflake is different and unique, and that no two are the same, though has anyone ever seen all snowflakes in one place at one time and scientifically analyzed this?  I love their uniqueness, but I feel that this is a difficult claim to make.  Doesn’t detract from each individual snowflake’s beauty, though.

I love playing in it.

I love building with it.

I love watching it gently fall from the sky.

I love how it mutes all the other sounds around you, even in the city, especially when it’s falling or very freshly fallen.  How the cars even can seem to slip by unnoticed because the snow absorbs their noise.

I love how my dog loves to frolic in it.

I love snow days more than any student I’ve ever met.  Teaching gives you a whole new appreciation for snow days.

But I hate driving in it.

If it could snow all winter long without leaving ruts of slush, icy spots, slippery patches, and covered up lines all over the road, I’d be fine with winter.  So when I say I hate winter, I’m not being entirely truthful.  Most of it is pretty alright.  In fact, most of it is downright beautiful.  Until I have to go shovel my car out, scrape all the ice and accumulated snow off, and cling to the steering wheel of my car for dear life.

That being said, I’d like this to be a happy post, so instead of griping about how much I hate winter driving, because I don’t imagine I’m alone in this, I’m going to share with you the amazing pictures I got today, as I’m up North at my parents’ house.  If you’re familiar with Ontario at all, you’ll know that South Central Ontario doesn’t get nearly the snow that Muskoka does, and my parents are right on the Northern edge of Muskoka.  Not quite in it, but they’re close… and so if you’re familiar at all, you understand that where I am right now…. we’ve got snow.

Also included in the pictures are some from last weekend’s ice storm.  Yes, the one that has thousands of Toronto Hydro customers still powerless.  I was at my Grandparents’, and while we only lost power for 4.5 hours on Sunday afternoon, it was evident that ice is a powerful force to be reckoned with — especially when it then gets covered in snow.

Check it out.

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Grandma’s backyard last weekend.

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Out Grandma’s kitchen window last weekend. This is the reason I stayed an extra day.  Imagine the roads.

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King City On Route service plaza — 4 days later, now there’s snow on top of the layers of ice.

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Hwy 400 N somewhere between King City and Barrie. I was not driving, for the record.

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If you look through the trees, you can see where water runs down off the rocks and freezes in waterfall-esque cascades down the rock face. Very cool. Taken this afternoon.

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Taken today

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Taken today

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the pooch, off the beaten path, carving her own road. She got tired pretty quickly.

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I thought it might be fun to pull the snow down off some overhanging branches.

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It took an inordinately long time for a) a snowflake to land on the right spot on me for me to take a picture, and b) my camera to macro focus well enough to capture it. Solid ten minutes went into capturing this snowflake ‘on film.’

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Santa Pictures

I don’t have children.  I know, this is totally new information.  But I don’t, and so I don’t have kids to take to Santa.  But I do have a dog.  And to me, this creature is all the family I need right now.  The kennel that I take my dog to when I can’t be home to take care of her does pet pictures with Santa most years.  It sounds cheesy… ok, it is cheesy… but it’s great.  The pictures were done by Let Me Shoot Your Pet, and the money raised this year went to a charity that helps get pound dogs rescued and prevents their being euthanized.  Great cause, if you ask me.  So I leashed Kloë up, put her in the car, and drove her to the kennel to get her picture taken with Santa.  I’m sure if Santa could ask her what she wants for Christmas, all she’d say is ‘to get off this stool and go play.’  Either that, or “people food.”  Regardless, I get her picture done most years, and I have no shame about this, even though I’ve been made fun of for having both this year’s and last year’s pictures hanging on my fridge.

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Tastes Like Christmas, and other Christmas traditions.


Yesterday I wrote a post from Mama Kat’s Losin It’s blog’s writing prompts.  Sorry, there were a lot of possessive adjectives in that sentence…. woah.  Not fixing it, haha and I only care a little bit……..

**Yesterday I wrote a post pulled from the writing prompts given on Mama Kat’s Losin It, a blog I’ve been following for a while because of the great prompts she gives.**

I feel better now.

Ahem.

A favourite holiday tradition, she says.

I have a few.  And I have a few “tastes of Christmas” to share, as I write this on Saturday, from my Grandparents’ farm.  After lunch, Grandma handed me one of her amazing sour cherry tarts, and with a mouth completely full of deliciousness, I muttered “this tastes like Christmas.”  How can something taste like Christmas, you ask?  Well, read my list, and see if you agree.

Things that taste like Christmas to me:

  • Grandma’s Sour Cherry Tarts
  • Egg Nog
  • Clementines
  • Misty Mints

And finally, I suppose turkey dinner tastes like Christmas, though it also tastes like Thanksgiving and Easter… so… who knows?  What does Christmas taste like to you?

Two traditions that happen every year that I don’t like going without are things that I can’t taste.

1.  The Christmas program that gets put on every year at Grandma’s.  I arrived a day ahead of most of my family due to a pending ice storm.  I was coming from South of Grandma’s, and everyone else is coming from North of here, so I left in time to not get stuck in a ditch somewhere between home and here.

cuz… you know… awesome.

This morning over breakfast, Grandma and I cracked open the Bible, picked the passages we’ll be reading from the Christmas story (in the various Gospels), and then she left me with a Christmas carol book to pick the songs that would go with them.  I finally got my violin in tune… gosh, it’s hard…. and then she played piano while I played piano.  Dad and the rest of the crew are slated to arrive in about an hour and a half, and he’ll bring his guitar, and we’ll have a musical night of praising Jesus and celebrating His birth.  We didn’t do this last year because Christmas was at my house.  I had just bought a house and I really wanted to entertain, so I invited everyone down to my place.  It’s really nice to be back at Grandma’s again this year.  Shout out to my Grandparents, who are more than likely reading this….

2.  Decorating the tree with my Mom.  Ever since I was old enough to do this without busting ornaments, Mom and I have done it together while watching the Toronto Santa Claus Parade on TV.  My brother joined in when he was younger, but it became ‘our thing’ as he got older and didn’t want to do it anymore.  We would eat Voortman’s cookies and clementines, pop popcorn, watch the parade, and hang the ornaments on the tree.  Now that I’m all grown up and I don’t live with my Mom anymore, I feel it’s imperative that I wait until my Mom can get to my house so we can decorate the tree together anyway.  It never seems to coincide with the parade anymore, but we’ve changed the tradition a little bit so that now we watch a Christmas movie while we decorate the tree.  It’s probably my favourite tradition of all, and if I ever have kids, I hope to recreate it with them… though I imagine it’ll be easier with girls past a certain age…. but regardless.  I want to keep it going.  Love you Mom, I know you’re reading this!

This year’s masterpiece

My favourite ornament, bought at the Christmas store in Banff last year

My Top Five Christmas Songs


Mama Kat’s Losin It is a blog I’ve been following for a while.  Once a week, she does a Writer’s Workshop and hands out prompts.  This week there are two I’ll be writing on…  one today, and another tomorrow.  They were technically written on Saturday afternoon, but who needs to know that that “schedule’ button on WordPress is my favourite thing?

Pick five favourite Christmas songs….

Well, I picked six.  I had it to five, but then I remembered one that’s been a favourite since high school, so it’ll be number six.  Here they are, in absolutely no particular order because I couldn’t do that to any of them… how to relegate a favourite to the bottom?  I don’t know.  Tell me if you know how.

1.  Third Day’s version of O Holy Night.  This song is hard to do.  It’s even harder to do well.  Mac Powell and the rest of the guys from Third Day NAILED it on their (phenomenal) Christmas album, entitled Christmas Offerings.  I’m happy to announce that they really are that good live.  I thoroughly enjoy them.

2.  Sugarland’s O Come O Come Emmanuel.  I’ve mentioned this song already in a post last week.  Jennifer Nettles’ voice gets me.  It’s right in my range, I can belt right along with her… she’s a marvelous singer.  Obviously I love twangy, deep Southern country voices and feel that Southern Ontario, Canada was not where I should have been born…. but nevertheless…. Actually, Sugarland’s entire Christmas album, Gold and Green, is spectacular.  I have listened to it on repeat for most of December in the car.  Legit.

3.  The Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix.  To be able to pull this off without a single instrument, entirely voices…. incredible.

4.  Anything and everything ever done by Lindsey Stirling is genius.  That said, I love love love her Celtic Carol.  I want to be her when I grow up.  Please keep in mind my deep love of Carol of the Bells as mentioned in my post yesterday, and my love of all things fiddle.  Lindsey Stirling just combined them.

5.  Speaking of my deep love of Carol of the Bells… please please check out The Piano Guys’ Cellist playing, I assume split-track recorded over himself multiple times… as he combines with another favourite of mine, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  The Piano Guys are also musical geniuses, so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, seriously, check them out.

6.  And lastly, as I was making my list, when I got to the song above, I couldn’t help but remember my favourite Christmas song all through my high school years… which inspired the first time I ever asked for a Christmas CD FOR Christmas…. Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan combining God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen with We Three Kings.  I’m sure my Mom thought I was nuts when I asked for “Barenaked for the Holidays” for Christmas…. but no joke.  I still have that CD.  I should dig it back out again.

A Duck Call for love.


So I had this gigantic ranty post written about the whole Phil Robertson explosion…. And I woke up this morning and hated every word I wrote because I hadn’t practiced what I was calling all of us to preach, so I deleted every word. I’ve never scrapped a 1600 word, link-filled post before… And now, post-ice-storm at my Grandparents’ farm, their internet is down and so I write with my thumbs from the 3G on my iPhone because the words are burning to get out of me. So here we go. Round two.

You see, my rant from yesterday was full of angry accusations that Phil Robertson wasn’t being very loving with the things that he said in his interview with GQ, and that our job as Christians is to speak in love. Do you see an issue here? I do. God must have softened my heart up overnight because I read my words this morning and became so grateful that I’d saved the draft before publishing. Guilty. It’s so easy not to speak in love when we get all fired up.

I’ve decided that rather than rewrite my rant, I’ll share and echo the thoughts of three of my favourite bloggers. Their words are more eloquent than mine, and I’d like to share the words of women whose writing I respect deeply. And I agree with each of them wholeheartedly. So especially while I write with my thumbs, why reinvent the wheel?

So here we go:

Jen Hatmaker, my favourite author, says

“As for me, I care deeply for all the watching eyes, waiting for something real, something that heals instead of wounds. I dream of a faith community that demonstrates a love so scandalous and embarrassing that only the foolish and the rejected and the misfits and the cynics will find any solace in it. My heart’s cry is that someone far outside the sphere of Christian endorsement might whisper, “Even me?” and be stunned by Jesus’ answer: “Always you.””

Jen tells us to make the gospel real. Making it real means making it loving. Love love love. Love is so vital. It’s what God is, after all.

Ruthie Dean talks about the stark difference between making a point and making a difference in the lives of others.

Ruthie says:

“But then, something changed. I awakened to the truth that the Gospel is an absurd love story. That God gave his only Son over to ridicule, torture and death that we may have life. The Bible says that people outside the church will know Jesus because of our love for one another. Nothing else, just love.”

She also says:

“We cannot be content to sit back behind our computers and make a point. As Christians, we are called to make a difference in people’s lives–and making a difference is usually slow and messy because when you’re meeting someone in the mud, in the darkness, in the betrayal, in the pain, they’ll need the healing power of Jesus flowing through you. They need us to be with them, not preach at them.”

And finally, a woman whose words pack so much punch… Always…. Ann Voskamp talks beautifully about the power of words and how desperately important it is to choose them carefully and speak them with love.

I have huge quotes from her, but her blog post is so well done, and there’s so much more there that I didn’t quote…. So please if you only read the work of one of these three ladies in its entirety, let it be this one. Let it be Ann’s words.

A guy I know often mails books.

And every time the postal clerk asks him the obligatory question about if there’s anything hazardous or flammable in the package, he always speaks truth: “You bet — words.”

Whoever said sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you?

Was dead wrong.

Ask a bearded guy from Louisiana or a tweeting PR exec en route to Africa to comment on that.

Don’t ever forget it, kids:

There is nothing more explosive than words.

Words are nitroglycerin. Words can literally ignite a heart, detonate like a global bomb — or explode in your face.

She also says, and I love this:

You can mean something — but if you say it mean, no one can hear your meaning.

Have convictions — but if you don’t have compassion, you will have trials.

Please, say what you believe — but please, always be love.

Or you’re an annoying, clanging cymbal who a whole lot of people will be desperate to make silent.

Also:

Hear me, get this, don’t ever forget this: The tongue is the tail of the heart. The heart is known by how the tongue wags.

And lastly, the ones with the biggest punch. The ones that made me gasp in air after I’d written my own rant that I ultimately trashed…. These…

The only words that are infallible — is the Word of God Himself.

So — we grant grace.

Grace is air — without it we all die.

Old School Blogging: Holiday Edition


Credit for this Old School Blogging idea once again goes to the lovely Olive To Run, as this appeared in my inbox yesterday I believe.  Well, her version did… To read her answers and check out her fantastic blog, click HERE!

First things first: 1 Holy Night or 8 Crazy Ones? (Do you Celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, both?) One Holy Night.

Peppermint or Chocolate? Gosh can I have them together?  Always?  PLEASE!?

Sing us into the Holiday Season, what is your favorite Carol this time of year? Carol of the Bells always has been my favourite.  The words aren’t over the top, but the melody is sooo beautiful, it just sounds like Christmas to me.  Especially when done by string instruments.  Check this out by the Cellist from The Piano Guys.  Phenomenal.  The medley with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen just gives me shivers.

Tell us about a Favorite Family or Personal Holiday Tradition. I love it when my Mom comes down and we get to put up and decorate my Christmas tree together.  We used to do it together every year while watching the Toronto Santa Claus Parade.  Now that we aren’t together on that day anymore, we just pick a time when she’ll be at my place close to Christmas (happened to be November 30th this year) and watch a Christmas movie while we decorate.  I looove it.

C’mon you remember your favorite  (Christmas, Hanukkah) gift, tell us all about it: Honestly gifts aren’t a huge deal to me, but something that stands out is a couple years ago my Dad and step-Mom got me a couple more Wii controllers and games for Christmas and I had brought the Wii system with me to Grandma’s, and I played with them and my brother and it was a lot of fun.  It was nice to have the people who gave me the gift be able to enjoy the gift WITH me!

That magical moment? (Your favorite scene from a Holiday movie…it’s okay if you have 2)    When Clay (Randy Travis) and Carolyn (Connie Sellecca) have a snowball fight out in a field and remember why they fell in love with each other in the first place in A Holiday To Remember (1995).

Kissing under the mistletoe?  Who do you hope is standing underneath (We know it’s normally your spouse, if it did not have to be, who would you choose?)  If it did not have to be my spouse, which it doesn’t, cuz I don’t have one…. and the other person did not have a spouse… if spouses were not in the picture… lol this is getting awkward.  Luke Bryan.

Swans a swimming, lords a leaping, golden rings; which gift of the 12 days of Christmas would you like most? I feel like absolutely none of those gifts have any practical application to me.  I guess I could sell the golden rings?

Play Secret Santa, what inappropriate gift would you love to give this year? Coal.

Martha Stewart or the Grinch? What is your decorating style? SNOWMEN!

What is ONE WORD that defines the holiday season for you? (Examples: Believe/Wonder/Bah Humbug?) Christ

If Santa could assure its delivery, what’s the first thing on your holiday wish LIST?  Real love to everyone.  Not preachy hypocrisy in the name of Jesus… REAL LOVE.

Collecting Details


I like the idea of this prompt, because there’s a whole lot of truth there.  I spend a good chunk of my day wandering from task to task, collecting details in my brain about what I’ll write next.

This week’s challenge

To recap, here’s what to do for the challenge. As always, feel free to adapt the challenge as you see fit. The object is to get you writing:

  1. Pick three original details from encounters during your day or your week that you’ve observed.
  2. Once you’ve collected your details, your “glimmers of a beginning,” write at least one paragraph containing your original details.

Last night, I stood outside walking my dog for the last time before bed, and I was struck by something I’m not usually struck by — the snow is beautiful.  (Back story — worst Canadian ever.  I hate winter and all that comes with it… the cold, the snow, the ice, the slippery-ness, the shoveling, the scraping… it’s not my favourite.)  It was crisp bitterly cold outside, and the moon was full, shining enough light through the complete lack of clouds in the night sky that my front porch light was completely unnecessary.  Over the weekend, we were dumped on by about 15cm of snow.  I know that for some, 15cm is really not a lot of snow.  For where I live in Ontario though, we tend to get avoided by pretty much all weather, and so to have it snow for 24 hours straight…. I freak out a little bit.

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The sheer amount of snow that piled up, combined with the chilly temperatures means that while I’m teaching Kindergarten in the morning, I have to have them back in time to have 10-15 minutes to bundle up before eating lunch so they can be warm going outside (or going home at home time).  Today, I had Kindergarten right before first recess as well as last period at the end of the day.  One of them comes to me as she’s finally finished bundling up (all but one mitten), and asks me to help her with the last mitten.  She says “I’m a big girl, now!  I can do up my own coat!  But… the other mitten is hard.”  I agreed with her, and asked how old she was.  She holds up one mitten covered hand and announces proudly, “I’m THIS MANY!”  Helpful, haha.

The prompt asks for three details, so I guess… I dunno… I’ll share my favourite Christmas song right now, because when it’s on in the car I belt it at the top of my lungs.  I love everything Sugarland has ever done, so it’s not a stretch that I love this, but the incredible voice on Jennifer Nettles just adds to the beauty of this song.

Oh, and while I’m here, here’s the song that’s been in my head for two days, because Charlie Worsham might be the most talented artist I’ve seen in a looong time (check out his youtube channel and watch his covers — he lets his fans pick one song on his Facebook page each week, then he learns every single part on various instruments/implements, and plays/sings every part, recording it in just 24 hours for our listening pleasure.  Amazing.  Anyway, here’s Could It Be.

There’s No Place Like Home


I went home this weekend.  Like… home home.  Home to the town I lived in for 17 years with more cows than people, one stop light, and fields as far as the eyes can see.  I’m from the country, and I like it that way.  Sometimes, part of me yearns to go back.  The school board I work in extends just far enough that I could move back home and only have a 15 minute commute to a town in my board.  But, I own my house here and I love my friends and I like my church, and so as much as I miss home right now for the reasons I’m about to tell you, I am staying where I am…. and I have reasons for that, too.

So here we are:  Reasons I miss home:

1.  If I could live at or near enough to home that I’d be around for dinners with the fam jam and such, the fam jam would likely tend to know what’s up in life, and I therefore wouldn’t have to explain that no, I’m not teaching French anymore; No, I don’t actually live in Sault Ste. Marie (even though I never have and that question was confuuuusing); Yes, I love my job (the switch out of French was voluntary AND welcomed!); Yes, I love owning my own home; No, no, no, no… I’m still not seeing anyone…. Yes, I know I’ll be 29 on Tuesday.  Yup, believe it or not, I’m content.  My family would know me, ideally, or at least better than most of them do now, so I would be able to go beyond small talk at family gatherings and enter into meaningful relationships with the people who are supposed to be close to me.  (I did two Christmas parties in two days with two different sides of the family while I was home this weekend — it’s why I made the trip.  Lots of small talk.)  Now don’t misunderstand me.  I know that only being an hour and a half away, I could make the trip down more often.  Life seems to get in the way and I turn around and my good intentions have made way for “oh, it’s Christmas again already?!  How did that happen!?”

2.  When I moved, I left a lot of solid friends behind.  This is not to say that I don’t dearly love the ones I’ve made since I’ve settled, but it’s hard not to miss the ones you left behind.  They’re great.  I went to the church I grew up in on Sunday morning, and was bombarded with hugs and “I’m so glad to see you!”  I sat between two girls I literally grew up with, and the best part is that it feels like nothing changes.  But there were a few girls who weren’t there… a few who I really wish I’d have been able to see.  If I lived at home, I’d see them all the time.

3.  I miss there being acres between me and the house beside me.  I miss hearing coyotes and crickets at night… though admittedly the coyotes freaked me right out.  They always sounded so close.  I miss being a country kid.  I miss gravel roads.  I miss fields.

4.  Like I said in number 2, I went to the church I grew up in.  And I love that church.  I always have.  And if I lived even half as close… I’d probably make the drive.  An hour and a half is too far when I have community here.  I do like my church here, I really do.  It’s not home, though.  Even though the pastoral staff has changed, it still felt like going home.

Don’t get me wrong, I had reasons for leaving home, too.  Mostly, home couldn’t be home anymore.  My parents sold the house I grew up in and moved up North, and the people who bought it put up uuuuugly fences.  It doesn’t look like home anymore.  Not the home I remember.  You know how your childhood home always holds those memories… and when someone changes the outside, even though they haven’t changed any of the actual memories in my head, it’s hard to look at it the same way.

I love where I am.  I love my community.  I looooove my job.  I mentioned above that I could switch and could move home.  I don’t want to.  I really don’t.  I miss what I left, but what I have is fantastic.  I won’t trade it now.  But after a weekend at home, it’s hard not to wonder what if… ya know?

Someone Free — Stretch Marks of Faith


I’m not going to say much to introduce this video that The Exodus Road emailed us this month.  I don’t think my words could summarize it adequately.  I profoundly admire something in every poet, because that has never been my strength, and this girl is no exception.  It’s worth 7 minutes of your time. 

 
 
 
That being posted now, and hopefully you’ve watched it (seriously, do it; it gave me shivers), I’d like to draw your attention to something else that The Exodus Road has for us this month. A job opportunity.
 
Do you know someone who you think would be ‘just right’ as an undercover investigator?
 

The Exodus Road is currently seeking qualified individuals to join our investigation teams in SE Asia.  This role serves as a key function in The Exodus Road’s targeted intervention initiative, which is to support local authorities and governments in the identification of human trafficking victims and their traffickers.  Agents will work on a team of investigators to manage and advance current case loads and intake of new cases.  All agents will work underneath the authority of the Operations Manager/Investigative Lead and the Country Field Director. For more information, go to the job application page: https://www.theexodusroad.com/exodus-road-employment-opportunities/

When you lose your voice


November 2013 has been the month where, unlike any other, I have battled with my voice.  I’ve lost it as a result of a cold a few times before, but never as frequently and for so long as I have this month.  I was without it for nearly two weeks between a concert and a cold.  I JUST had it back last week…… but…. it’s gone again.  Well, I have half of it.  I got another cold.  I’m a victim of working in an elementary school with little little kids.

The thing is… my voice is really important to me.  It’s hard to teach with no voice.

Even bigger than that, though…. I sing.  As often as I can.  All the time.  In the car, in the shower, at church, at school, while cleaning.  Whenever I can.

This morning at church, my step Dad leaned over during worship and whispered “it must be killing you not to be singing right now!”

And it was.

But it made me do something I don’t normally do.

I had to listen.  I had to worship with my heart while listening to the words, which is harder to do than I thought it would be.  I had to focus on the words and what they say and mean instead of just singing.  I find it can be so easy during worship to just sing without really thinking the words through, but that doesn’t work when you can’t get enough sound out of your vocal chords to sing a note.  What you can do, though, is focus on the lights, the other people, the sound booth, and everything going through your brain.  It takes real intentionality to be able to have a worshipful spirit when you can’t get words out of your mouth.

I found I was able to quiet my thoughts and my heart down, and I was able to realize the beauty in the words that everyone around me was singing.  But it took the first two songs of distractedly looking around before I could do it.

It was these words that finally got me:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm

He is my light, my strength, my SONG.  My song.  Jesus is my song.  My voice doesn’t have to sing.  My spirit can.  I can focus with my heart, and Jesus knows what’s there.  Worship doesn’t have to just be with my voice.  Worship is the very act of letting God know how worthy He is of my praise.  I can do that without my voice.  And it’s like it just hit me this morning….

Though, while I’m mentioning it, I would REALLY like my voice back any day now… I miss it.