"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Yay!!

There is nothing major to report, other than the fact that THIS came in the mail today...


I'm so excited!!!  This scrapbook was the product of many, many hours spent at Starbucks in front of my computer early this month as I tried to get it done before the end of Shutterfly's holiday sale.

On another note, although there's been a slight hiatus, I have a few more posts planned in my waiting series, so you'll just have to, well, wait a few days until I polish them up.


Monday, 30 January 2012

Birthday FAIL!

Well, yesterday I tried to take my husband out for a late birthday celebration.  Gil loves to watch sports, so I bought tickets to our local OHL team (Mississauga St Mike's Majors), which I thought he would enjoy.  Actually, when we were first dating, we went to a lot of Ottawa 67s games, so I thought it would kind of remind us of our early days.

The view from our seats, right behind the scorekeeper


Unfortunately, however, it seemed nothing about our birthday celebration went as planned.  I got the address wrong, so we wandered around central Mississauga for several minutes before realizing that we were in the wrong spot.  By the time we made it to the game, we had missed most of the first period.  We did have great seats though, so we enjoyed the rest of the game.

Following the game, we thought of going to a pub to watch the NHL All Star Game (yes, it was a hockey-themed birthday), but Gil thought it would be better to go to my mom's house and watch it on her big flat-screen TV.  So, we went there, but she was out, and for some reason we could not get the screen door open.  It was either locked from the inside or jammed.  I don't have the key for the other door, and we couldn't find the hiding space for the spare key.  We couldn't reach her cell phone, so after a few minutes standing around outside, we quit and went for sushi instead.

I felt pretty bad about everything going wrong for Gil's birthday celebration.  (Perhaps I should have recognized the ominous signs when baking his cake went so terribly wrong!)  I'm blessed with a very understanding husband who didn't complain at all.  In fact, he didn't really care whether we went out for his birthday at all.  At least we will hopefully have many more birthdays together and can look back and laugh at this one in the future.  :-)

In other news, last week, I got my Visa and SIN cards with my new name, so I am on the way to becoming Mrs. T!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Community

I miss Ottawa. Not every moment, or even every day, but I do miss it a lot. There are many things that I love about being back in my hometown, like seeing my husband every day (!!), being close to family, an insane amount of restaurant options, the subway (seriously, I love the subway), etc. BUT... it's been a change, and not always an easy one.

We were back in Ottawa this past weekend to attend a wedding, and it just made me so happy to be in a room with so many friends at once. I have friends in Toronto, but only a couple, and we only really hang out one on one. Then we got to go to my church on Sunday morning and it felt like... home. People said hi to us (and not just “greeters”). People wanted to talk to us after the service. We felt loved and supported. It was sad to leave Ottawa.

This disparity was even more in evidence yesterday. For some reason, I just felt anxious. I was stressed over searching for work and worried about paperwork that had to get done to rent out my Ottawa condo. I just felt on edge, and worse than that, I felt alone. It seems like the friendships that I have here are just not very deep, even though they are people that I've known for many years. These are girls that are great to have lunch or go to the movies with, but not people who ask how I'm really doing. That's probably my fault too. I have not been around enough to allow those relationships to develop. Anyway, it doesn't bother me when things are good, but yesterday I just missed the deep friendships that I have in Ottawa.

All is not lost, however. I have to remember that getting connected takes time, and that even though I don't think our current church does enough to help people integrate, I know that God does MORE than enough. Today I went to ladies prayer group and was invited to a Bible study next week. Then at the end of the meeting, another lady asked me out to coffee. Some of these women have been coming to prayer group together for what seems like decades. It was so nice to feel like part of the group, and to think that one day, this church and this city will really feel like home too.

Friday, 20 January 2012

We bought a house!!

So, the title pretty much says it all!  After nearly a year of searching, we finally have a home to move into.  We have not decided yet when we will be moving as we still have to give notice to our current landlord.  For now, I'm just happy to know the move is coming and we can move into a home together that will feel more like ours.

When I look back on the journey, I can see how much I have grown throughout it.  Twice we thought we had a house, only to have things fall apart, and both times I was crestfallen.  The last time (in early December), I almost gave up hope that we would ever get out of this little condo.  This past week though, as we went through the process again, I can honestly say that I felt a sense of peace that whatever happened would be for the best.  Thanks God for teaching me to wait patiently!

Sooooo... now to celebrate!  This is what I did to mark the occasion:




Well, not really.  I bought a crazy deal on highlighting and a haircut at a friend's salon, and went today to redeem it.  This is my first time ever getting highlights, and I think I like it!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Waiting, part II: Suffering through the Wait


Greetings from snowy Toronto!  After a warm and foggy day earlier this week, it seems winter has come back with a vengeance.  I actually love winter, but am taking advantage of the colder weather to cozy up inside writing and drinking tea.  Stay tuned tomorrow for a BIG announcement... but first here is part II of my waiting series:


I've recently been reading a book by Randy Alcorn called If God Is Good. Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil. It is quite interesting reading and I may post more on it in the future. One of the things that came to mind as I began to read it was the connection between suffering and waiting, and how that fits into my particular life story.

Towards the start of the book, Alcorn makes the distinction between evil and suffering. I won't go into this in too much detail, but it's a critical distinction. He refers to suffering as a secondary evil, the result of sin. This means that while suffering occurs because there is evil in the world, suffering in any given case is not necessarily the direct result of a specific sin. An example would be in John 9, when Jesus's disciples asked whether a man's blindness was the result of his parents' sin or his own sin, but Jesus contracted them, saying “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

Thinking about suffering as the result of sin and evil in our world makes one wonder what life would be like without the fall. Obviously, that's impossible to really conceptualize because our world has been built by generations upon generations of fallen people, but it's still an interesting thought. I started thinking more specifically about waiting and suffering. Now, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm a pretty impatient person sometimes, but I think that in this part of the world, it's common to consider waiting akin to suffering. We complain when the line is too long at Starbucks, or when our bus comes two minutes late, forgetting that the convenience of a fairly reliable transport system and a disposable income is something that many people in this world do not have. So it would seem that in some cases, when we perceive waiting as suffering, it is the result of our own sinful, self-centred attitudes. Alcorn touches on this when he says on page 60: “If we accept the argument that the highest value of the universe is short-term human happiness in the form of immediate fulfullment of desires, then we cannot defend the Christian worldview, because we ourselves have departed from it.” (Italics his.)

On the other hand, sometimes the wait can be agonizing. There are people who are waiting for organ transplants to become available, or for rain to come in a time of drought. That someone would suffer in these occasions, not knowing if or when a respite will come, is the result of evil in the world that causes our bodies and the earth itself to be under the curse.

This makes me wonder: In an perfect, sinless world, would we never have to wait for anything? To a North American mindset, that seems to make sense. To a biblical worldview, not so much. The Bible talks about waiting on God and about their being a time for everything. Even if I were sinless, I still would not be omniscient, so I could still desire something that is long in coming. This specifically plays into my story because – from my human point of view – I waited a long time for Gil. I was single for many loooooong years. I watched a lot of friends pair up, get married, and have babies, and there were times when I thought my own wedding day would never come. There were certainly times when my suffering was self-imposed and sinful, brought on by jealousy and feeling sorry for myself, but there were other times throughout this period when I genuinely suffered from loneliness and confusion about my own purpose and path. Nevertheless, I can't help but think that even in a perfect world, we still would not get everything at the exact moment we wanted it. After all, God is so much more than a wish-granting Genie. No, I believe that in that perfect world, I would trust God enough to know that when things didn't go according to what I anticipated, He was going to do something better.

In the end, that is where the “rubber hits the road”, so to speak. If I have to live in this world, how can I do my best not to sin when I am in the waiting period? While I did meet my husband in the end, I'm certain there will be many more waits in the future. The biblical answer would seem to be to continue trusting in God, and, as David said, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD”. (Ps. 27:14)  Easy to say; not so easy to do sometimes...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Waiting

Over the next few days/weeks, I'm planning a couple of posts on waiting. This is something that's come up a lot in my thoughts lately. Really, I think the last 18 months of my life have been dominated by waiting: First for Gil to propose (that took longer than I expected!), then for our wedding, and now it feels like an endless wait until we find a house.

I am not a patient person. I like to make things happen. I've always been pretty self-reliant, so relying on other factors (especially people) is difficult for me. I don't think I'm alone in that. We are a society that thrives on instant gratification. What I have learned over the years, though, is that most of us are playing the waiting game. We get what we want, and we soon start to want something else. We get a job after a long search, then soon start to worry about when we will get a promotion. We count down to a vacation, then come back home and start looking towards to the next holiday. In my case, I got engaged (yay!), then married (yay!), and only a few weeks later started to get anxious about finding a house. And I know that the house won't make me happy in itself. In a little while, we will decide to start a family, and then we will be waiting to see if we get pregnant, then (assuming we are able to have children) waiting for a baby to come, then looking towards when it will be time to have a second one. All the while, looking ahead threatens to turn our attention from what God is doing RIGHT NOW.

This feeling of being in the “waiting room” has me thinking that the Lord is really using this time to develop patience in me... and I've not been using it to my advantage to grow as I ought to. Stay tuned for a few notes on what I've been learning lately.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Happy birthday Gil!

Happy birthday Gil!

It was special to have this first "married birthday", to get to see each other first thing in the morning and at night too. We didn't do much, as he is on call and working like crazy, so I just made pound cake (shattering a glass jar of flour in the process). Now I am sick with a nasty flu, so I think the real celebrating will have to come later on.

In other news, we finally got our marriage certificate in the mail, so yesterday I was able to officially assume Gil's name for my driver's licence! It was a bit strange to sign the papers with my new name, but I'm sure I'll get used to it.





Gratefulness

The other day, I had a bit of a mini-meltdown. I was so frustrated with our condo and just wanting to find a house RIGHT NOW. It's not just that our place is small (which it is), but that it was designed for someone who works long hours, eats out most of the time, and is rarely home, hence the lack of cupboard and closet space. Sigh...

Anyway, I don't really want to complain about our home; the point is that I have been very frustrated. Since then, I've had a few reminders to be grateful. I met with a friend and her two young boys whose space constraints make ours seem like a mild annoyance. I've thought about the homes that we built in Guatemala which were probably the size of my living room and housed entire families. Then I read Genesis 9.

I get a bit sea sick on boats and am by no stretch of the imagination a “country girl”, so the whole living-on-an-ark-with-animals-for-months concept has always been unfathomable to me. When I read the account yesterday, I tried to imagine it. On a boat for months. The smells and sounds of lots of animals. Probably not a lot of variety of cuisine. No air conditioning or central heating, and don't want to think about bathrooms... Crammed in with your immediate family and little privacy. Not to mention the grief of knowing everything in your life is gone, and everyone else you know has died. Of course, the people on the ark had every reason to be thankful they were there. They knew the alternative was much much worse. I'd imagine that when they got discouraged or frustrated, they reminded each other of that fact.

I am not stuck on an ark, and the life that I left was certainly more enjoyable than perishing in a flood. Nevertheless, just as Noah and his family willingly boarded the ark, I have to remember that I chose to marry Gil and to move here. And I would choose it again. And I have more to be grateful for in this marriage than I have cause for complaint. Hope this reminder will take me through the next bout of self-pity!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Life Update

I've been posting a lot of my thoughts lately, but I know some people are wondering about our regular life, how we are doing, etc., so here's are the answers to some FAQs.

Been married: 11 weeks, as of today!

Celebrity marriages we have outlasted: Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra (10 days); Sinead O'Connor and Barry Hernige (16 days); Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries (72 days)

Number of times people have asked when we're going to have babies: Too numerous to count.

Housing: Renting a one-bedroom condo and still on the lookout for a house. We've had a few disappointments, but are still searching. Please pray for us.

Church: We are pretty settled in at our church which has great preaching. I haven't found an area to serve, which is a bit frustrating, especially as both times I've asked about opportunities, I was directed to the church website rather than to an actual person. You can pray about this too, as it's hard to get connected.

Job situation: I'm still not working. I took the fall off, for the most part, and am now starting to search more earnestly. It's actually pretty liberating, as it's the first time I've looked for work without the stress that I'll run out of rent money in the imminent future.

So what am I up to?: Mandarin classes twice a week, ladies prayer group, BodyPump, running, visiting my baby nephew, researching houses, catching up on my reading.

Funniest “I definitely married a doctor” moment: The other day, Gil was changing the channel and stopped briefly on an scene of Grey's Anatomy that involved heart surgery. I was in the other room, and all I heard was the channel changing again, followed by him muttering things like, “That's ridiculous... What kind of doctor would do that?... Routine procedure...” You mean television doesn't accurately reflect real life? :-)

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Those Were the Best Days of My Life?

New Year's Day chez nous
Welcome to 2012! Gil and I spent a quiet New Year's Eve watching hockey by ourselves. My husband has been struggling with a flare up of tendonitis in his ankle, so on New Year's Day we just went to church and spent the afternoon at home, him reading and me tackling the Globe and Mail's massive holiday crossword puzzle. At some point, a song came on the radio that brought back a ton of memories and made me think about how many changes I've gone through in the last ten years or so, and that was the inspiration for this post.


It was August, 2001, and I was at a friend's cottage for a last few days together before I was to leave for a study-abroad year in Germany. We decided to break out her family's 8-track tape player and had a mini dance party to the Bryan Adams song “Summer of '69”. I was having a great time until I was suddenly struck by a sudden sense of gravity. I turned to my friends and said, “Wait a minute. What if these ARE the best days of my life, and it's all downhill from here?”

It seems a bit silly in hindsight, but in those days, I was often concerned about missing opportunities. Popular culture screamed that life is only fun when you're young, so you ought to be partying hard to enjoy every minute of it. When I was in my last year of high school, a slightly older acquaintance warned me that everything was downhill after EIGHTEEN. (Seriously? I think even my worst times as an adult have been better than the awkwardness and self-doubt of the early teenage years.) In university, I felt almost a sense of obligation to be having a wild time, even while I was also stressed about good grades, finances, and the other issues you juggle as an emerging adult. In addition to all the other pressures, how was I to ensure that I made the most of the “best days of my life”?

Those words would come back to me again and again while I was abroad, in part due to the immense popularity that Bryan Adams enjoyed in Germany at that time. “Summer of '69” was frequently played when we would go out dancing. At the end of the year, when my friends and I made up our own yearbook to commemorate our time together, I listed it as my “song to sum up the year,” noting that 2001-02 had really been the “best days of my life”. Of course, the unanswered question still remained: If these are the best days, is the best that the future can hold still second rate?

The change from singleness from married life has in some ways been part of a bigger transition that has been going on in my life since my mid-twenties. I don't know whether to call it a move to adulthood or domesticity, or something else, but basically I have been less and less tempted to go OUT to seek fun (not just partying, but whirlwind trips, concerts, frequent dinner outings, etc.), and more satisfied with the simpler pleasures of home, or the homes of good friends. Part of that came with permanent employment, as well as the realization that going out in Ottawa costs a whole lot more than the student scene in Kingston. Another part of this transition was being more satisfied with who I am: When I was 19 and 20, a lot of going out revolved around having the stories to tell afterward. (“Crazy time last night! I can't believe what Y was doing!”) You just had to be there... otherwise you were missing out, and I was never sure that I would fit in if I wasn't there for all those experiences.* Today, I worry less about these things because I am more confident in myself and my friendships.

All the same, I was still very busy in my pre-married life. Maybe I wasn't going out to parties all the time, but there was Bible study, youth group, soccer, coffee with so-and-so, etc., etc. Marriage has slowed me down a lot, partly because I'm in a new city without all the church commitments, but also because my husband is more of a homebody and we find joy in just being together. And yet, what my 20-year-old self didn't understand was that this life is not really better or worse, but just good in a different way. Part of maturing in life (and in faith) is understanding that great truth that there is a time for every season. Even when I look back at the hardest times, the ones that would never be counted among “the best”, I can be thankful for what God taught me and how I grew. Even though I know that this stage quiet of domesticity that we are now in will not last, I trust that the next stage, and the ones after that, will also bring their own joys. My hope is that when I look back at my life, I will never be able to choose the “best” because I will have enjoyed them all for what they gave.


* I don't mean to imply that my friends somehow made me feel this way. My own issues were to blame.