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

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Desert

I've been wandering around the desert lately. I didn't realize it until I had a bit of a meltdown over the weekend, but here I am. I came from someplace where I was settled; it wasn't perfect, but it was what I knew. I am going somewhere, but I don't know in what direction. I feel like God is taking me on a journey, like there will be something bigger made out of this life, but I have no idea what. I have skills, I am educated, I had a career that I liked and a church I served in, and now it seems like I am just wandering around metaphorically, unsure where this will all end up. I do not regret the choice I made to come to Toronto because I love my husband, but he is gone for long hours and I have a lot of time alone to wonder what on earth I am doing here. I found myself crying out, “Why did you bring me here, Lord?”

This month I have been reading the book of Exodus. To be honest, after the Ten Commandments, I find the book pretty boring; I'm not very visual, so it is hard to get through the description of the breastplate of the High Priest, etc. This time around, however, I am really trying to take something out of each chapter. Today's reading was from Exodus 29, about the consecration of the High Priest. Lots of rams being slaughtered, and all that fun stuff. Suddenly, something hit me: These people are in the desert. They left their homes behind, and presumably their flocks too (since there isn't really any grass to feed them in the desert). They are eating manna every day, and heading towards an unknown and scary place. Now God is telling them: “So, you're going to have this high priest outfitted in this awesome outfit, and to consecrate him you are going to sacrifice a whole bunch of rams, lambs, and maybe some bulls as well.” They are probably thinking, “God, are you crazy? We don't have any rams! We left them behind. If we did, we wouldn't be eating all this manna. Hello?!” I don't they could even fathom the fact that they would one day have enough of everything to allow for the whole sacrificial system to be in place... but God had promised them the Land of Milk and Honey, and eventually He delivered.

So all that to say, please pray for me. I think I'm in the desert. I don't know whether my next steps will lead to a new career, to further education, to starting our family, or to some place even more unknown. I just don't want to get so caught up in the frustration that I build my own golden calf of expectations and start worshiping that instead.  And if you are in the desert, please let me know how I can pray for you too.  :-)

PS  The day after I wrote this, fully half of my pastor's sermon was on "waiting on the Spirit".  Wow, God, guess I needed that exhortation!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Some Things I'm Excited About

Since my last post was a little negative, I thought I would brighten things up today.  That is especially needed since it's COLD!  We were mega-spoiled by 20+ degree weather earlier this month, so now anything close to zero seems unbearable.  (It doesn't help that our building cranked up the fans during the warm weather, and has not bothered turning them off.) 

I am a book hoarder, and any efforts to counter this seem to be in vain.  This past summer, I tried to make a serious attempt to get rid of books that I was unlikely to ever read again.  I forced myself to actually read the books I had bought on sale ages ago, so that I could decide whether I really wanted them.  Shortly thereafter, my best friends threw me a bridal shower and instructed all my guests to give me a book!  So, I guess all that purging was to make room for the new books, right?  Anyway, here are some more new books that I am really excited about, and why:


1)  I am excited for my new kitchen  It actually allows for more than one person to stand in it.  It has more than one cupboard, and space in the drawers for our cutlery.  I really looking forward to baking there, so I bought the Joy the Baker Cookbook.  If you don't know about Joy, you should.  This is her blog.  Every recipe that I've tried has been fantastic.

2)  I am excited for summer vacation!  We are just in the process of finalizing details to go to Gdansk, Poland this summer.  I have a lifelong interest in Central and Eastern European culture and history, so I am so looking forward to this trip.  I also thought I could use some basic Polish skills, so I bought this book.  Now to tackle the pronunciation of words like "wszystko" (everything) and "przepraszam" (excuse me).  Really, this is just feeding into the obsessions with a) books; and b) language learning aids.

3)  I am excited about my Chinese lessons!  For the first couple of months, we were focused on pronunciation and vocabulary, but now I've started learning to read and write.  It's hard... but it's worth it.  Last week at Bible study, I noticed one woman had a dual-language English-Chinese Bible, so I asked her where she bought it.  This week, she brought a new Bible for me!  She said she had some extras at home and was happy to hear I was learning Chinese.  I find it easiest to practice reading when I'm already familiar with the text.

4)  I am excited to spend some time with Gil this weekend!  After the craziness of the last few weeks, I told him that we have to go out and have some fun this weekend.  We are not sure yet what we'll do, but we really need some time to build into our marriage.

5)  I am excited for road tripping with a good friend next week!  But more on that later.  :-)

So now it's your turn:  What are you excited about??

Monday, 26 March 2012

Sometimes It's Hard

 I really struggled with writing this post. I don't want this blog to be a place where I complain. My heart is to be honest about what is going on in my life and how God is changing me through this marriage, but not to use the blog as an outlet for all my rants and complaints. On the other hand, there is a reality that I deal with daily and I want to be open about it and not paint my life as sunshine and roses (along with the occasional nasty flu).

These past few weeks have been really rough. For some reason, Gil ended up being on call for THREE full weekends. This means he has not had a day off since February. He has missed the past few weeks of 20+ degree weather. He has not been able to help me move boxes and clear out the things I had stored at my mom's house. Sometimes when he is on call during the week, he does not come home until late (like 9:30/10:00) and last Friday he worked until midnight. Basically, I've barely seen him, and he's been exhausted.

I try to take all of this in stride, but sometimes it's just hard. I get lonely. I feel sad going to church alone when I hardly know anyone there. Our weekends get extra confused because when Gil is home, he sleeps at weird times so I end up going out so as not to make noise. (This should be better in the new house because we will have more space, whereas right now any where in the apartment is within earshot). I feel like major decisions get put on hold.

Still, during weeks like this, I try to remember the goodness of God. There are still moments when Gil comes home and we can spend a few hours together that are worth all the craziness. I think about how God has prepared us for each other. When I was single, I worried about being “too independent” for my future husband. Everything I had gone through had made me pretty self-reliant. Now I am SO thankful for that. I would be drowning here in Toronto if I didn't already have my own interests to pursue. I am so glad that I learned the life skills to take care of all the little details while Gil is working (like banking, setting up the utilities for the house, etc.). I am happy that God made me and shaped me knowing what Gil would need, and what I would need in our marriage.

I am also reminded that God does not want me to gloss over the hard moments and pretend they are easy. He calls on us to cry out to Him, to cast our cares on Him, and to let Him meet our needs.

When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O LORD, supported me.
Psalm 94:18

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Amusing Anecdote

I've had a few thoughts on more heavy posts lately, but it's 25 degrees in March, so who wants to think about serious things?  Instead, here's a slice of life in our home.

Last night, for some reason I was talking to Gil about Jean Sibelius.  Yes, I am a band geek...

Me:  ...and one interesting thing about Sibelius is that his monument in Helsinki is made up entirely of organ parts...

(Gil looks mildly disturbed; I wondered if I was boring him.)

Me:  ...but actually, Sibelius never composed any organ music.

Gil:  You realize that as a doctor, organ means something very different to me, right?  I was picturing something very CSI.

Me at the Sibelius monument.  No lungs or kidneys in sight!
PS  Someone at Bible study today brought up the fact that we are all organs in the body of the church.  I started giggling to myself.

Monday, 19 March 2012

I Have an Amazing Husband

The past few days have been a bit crazy in our household.  Gil has been on call for two whole weeks (as opposed to his normal one week rotation), so he has not been around.  Then yesterday I came down with a monster stomach flu.  I went to church alone (as Gil had to go to work), and started feeling queasy on the way there.  Thankfully things weren't so bad while at church, but when I got home, I started throwing up, having chills, etc.  I'm a lot better this morning, but taking it easy resting up for the day to hopefully get this bug out of my system.

I am so grateful for my wonderful husband who, after two exhausting work weeks, ran by the store to pick up Gravol and ginger ale, and sat in bed with me watching History Channel shows on my laptop.  Please pray he doesn't come down with this bug, as it would be awful being sick while working in the hospital.

Update (Monday evening):  Okay, I'm not better after all.  But my husband is still awesome and is making me soup.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Getting "Hymned"

Recently I realized with a start that I've nearly stopped listening to Christian music.  I don't know when that happened, but I am guessing it has to do with moving to Toronto and never figuring out where the Christian stations are.  (Yeah, I should probably Google that...)  I don't drive as often now, so I normally only have music on when I'm exercising, which means that I'm overwhelmingly listening to cheesy dance music, with the odd Newsboys song thrown in for good measure.   Anyway, I've been trying to be intentional especially with the radio in my car, so that I am not filling my head with musical "candy" and have something meaty as well.

This past week, after making the switch, I've been moved several times when listening to hymns.   Today at prayer group, we sang "Guide Me Thou O Great Jehovah" and "And Can It Be".  Man, those songs are beautiful and meaningful!  I almost started crying at the beauty.  (And how I love singing from a hymnbook with an alto line, and not having to choose between screeching my way through or sounding like a man, but I digress...)

I also threw on some Bart Millard while driving, and developed a newfound appreciation for the hymn "Brethren We Have Met to Worship".  I'd never heard it before purchasing the "Hymned Again" album, and had never listening that closely, but this time, wow, the lyrics really stood out to me.  I especially like the third verse:

Sisters, will you join and help us? Moses' sister aided him;
Will you help the trembling mourners who are struggling hard with sin?
Tell them all about the Savior, tell them that He will be found;
Sisters, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.

Isn't that a beautiful picture of how we ought to support one another?  How often to I fail to look out for others who are struggling with sin?  There is such richness in Christian hymns, and it's sad how seldom I actually take time to listen and think them through.

What are your favourite hymns??

Oh, and you can check out Bart Millard's rendition here.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Some Notes on Our New House

Well folks, we have a house!  We took possession two weeks ago, so I thought it was time to give some more details about our home.

Our new home is a three-bedroom bungalow in North York.  There is also a guest bedroom in the basement with a bathroom and shower.  (Hint, hint, we would love visitors!)  We have quite a nice-sized yard and are right beside a playground.

Here are some (not so great) photos.  There are no photos of the outside because, well, I'm paranoid, but enjoy these inside ones!:

Entranceway



His and Hers closets - so excited!

We are so excited that God has blessed us with a new home.  It was a long journey, and very frustrating at times, as I saw a lot of doors close and it was hard, but in the end, this is the house we were waiting for.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

One Year of Auntie-hood

I don't have anything deep or meaningful to post today, except that I'm really really excited about my nephew Ezra turning one.  A year ago, I became an auntie, and I am enjoying seeing him grow month by month.  (Unfortunately, most of this "seeing" is by photograph since my step-sister lives in the Chicago area.)  I have since become an auntie again three times over since my step-brother's son was born in December, and I gained another nephew and niece when I married Gil. 

This new stage in our family is so rewarding; I enjoy watching my siblings grow personally as they learn to be parents, and it is awesome to see how my capacity to love is increased with each new addition.  I hope and pray that we will be able to add our own children to the mix one day soon-ish!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY EZRA!

Doing his best to represent Canada!


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

It's the End of the World As We Know It

Gil and I recently watched an episode of Decoded on the History Channel which dealt with the Mayan prophecies about 2012. I thought it would be focused on the prophecies themselves, but actually the people on the show interviewed survival experts, and ecologists as well, discussing how the Mayans apparently predicted widespread natural disasters as part of the end of the time cycle that would come in late 2012. It was actually pretty scary: Even though I am hesitant to believe the doomsday proclamations of climate change proponents (let alone those of the Mayans), you don't have be a news junkie to note that natural disasters have been occurring a lot in the past few years. Since I've always been an urbanite, I am pretty sure that my survival skills are minimal at best. If a worldwide disaster strikes, I'm probably not going to last for long.

To tell the truth, all this “end of the world” stuff really has the power to leave me terrified. When I was in my first year of university (before I was a Christian), I had to read a section of Revelation for one of my classes, and I remember being petrified at what I was reading, even though I didn't think I believed in it. Most of the Eschatology teaching that I've received has been pre-millienial and pre-tribulationist, so I would say that's where my beliefs are, but I'm in no way well-read on the matter. And even if I don't have to live through the tribulation, Jesus talked about earthquakes and natural disasters leading up to the end, and other passages discuss the earth being under the curse (see Romans 8), so there is no guarantee that I will be spared the experience of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and the like. When I think about it, my first instinct is to put my head into the sand and ignore the issue. Surely, these survivalists interviewed are a bit crazy. Surely, natural disasters happen to other people, in places with no infrastructure, and won't happen to ME. I'm not afraid of dying, but rather of living in a post-disaster world, where people are fighting for what resources are left. I'm afraid of Lord of the Flies or the Chrysalids, or Mad Max becoming a reality. (Thank you, Grade 9 English class; seriously, we covered all of these subjects and it's a wonder we didn't all end up in therapy.) Now that I'm married and that we anticipate having a family within the next few years, those fears are even scarier: It's one thing to navigate a disaster alone, but with others depending on me, it becomes even more nightmare-ish.

Am I the only one stressing about this? Maybe I'm just one of the last naive ones who hasn't yet got a plan for if/when it happens. So, after some thinking and praying, here's where I'm moving forward:

1) Preparation. Gil and I had a little talk after watching TV, and decided that it would be prudent to have some supplies when we move into the new house. I'm not talking about a bunker, but it's wise to have a few weeks' worth of water and canned goods in case of an emergency. He was in Montreal during the 1998 ice storm, and I experienced an almost-hurricane in Florida once, so we both know that even if we don't think The End is coming soon, we ought to be ready in case of a smaller emergency.

2) Sustainability. I've been thinking a lot lately about ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. I'm not doing anything drastic, but I think that small changes can make an impact on how I steward the earth, and how I view it. If I know how to make bread myself, that will be helpful if for some reason, we are unable to get to a store or if economic issues mean that our food supply to stores is diminished. If we cloth diaper our future kids (which I really really want to do), that will mean that we would not be left diaper-less if another ice storm or a hurricane kept us indoors for several days. (I guess that's assuming we are able to heat up water to wash them...)

3) Faith. Most importantly, I am reminded to trust in God. That morning's reading was from Exodus 3, and that's what came back to me while I was watching Decoded. God is the great I AM. He knew the right time to send Joseph to Egypt so that he could stockpile food in advance of the famine. He knew the right time to take the Israelites out of Egypt. He knew how to arrange things so that Moses could be saved by the Pharaoh's daughter and nursed by his own mother, and when to call Moses to go back to his people. He knows everything, and even if hard times are ahead, I can trust that He will help me get through them.

What about you? Are you prepared for the worst? Am I the only one worrying about these things?

God said to Moses, "I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, 'I-AM sent me to you.'"
Exodus 3:14