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

Saturday, 29 September 2012

I ♥ Youth Ministry

I am super-super excited to announce that after nearly a year of floundering at church, I have finally stepped back into regular Christian service:  I just signed on to work with our youth group for the 2012-13 school year.... and I am sooooo excited about it!

For those of you who know you, this probably isn't much of a surprise.  I was involved with youth for quite a while back in Ottawa, but somehow, whenever the thought of doing the same in Toronto came up, I hesitated.  After we got married, there were so many transitions going on, that I needed to stop and really process it all.  Not only that, but I needed to almost distance myself from my old youth group that I loved so very much, to ensure that I wouldn't be that annoying girl who constantly says, "Well, in my OLD group, we did X like THIS..." [The previous comment would possibly be  accompanied by an obviously dissatisifed expression.]

This summer, however, I started working at the church and getting to know the various ministries, and I felt the pull back towards youth ministry.  Last week I finally got to talk to our new youth pastor, and he invited me to check out the group.  When I walked into the room, even though I didn't know the kids or most of the volunteers, I felt like I was coming home, back to a ministry I love, back to an age group I love.  There are lots of people who enjoy teaching Sunday school and working with little kids, but as for me, put me in a room full of awkward or surly teens, and my heart fills up. I ♥

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

32 (Sigh...): A Post in Which I Get Real

--> Disclaimer: Parts of this post are new, and other parts I have written and re-written many times over the past few months. If this piece comes out as disjointed as a result, I do apologize and welcome your input!

I had a birthday this week, and am now 32 years old. Sigh... It was a good day of relaxing, going for a run in beautiful weather, doing errands, and a surprise dinner with my husband. (I thought we would have to postpone as he is on-call this week.) He also gave me a Kindle, so I am in the process of downloading lots of books (mostly free!) from my reading list, and also of eating my words, as I have been known to proclaim loudly that I would *never* give up physical books. :-)

I had mixed feelings looking forward to this birthday. It was exciting as it would be my first birthday as a married lady, hopefully the first of many. I imagined the joy of Gil being the first person I would see on my birthday, and looked forward to that morning. On the other hand, my feelings are mixed as I find myself deeper into my thirties every year raises the pressure I feel to start a family ASAP.

When I was young, as any young child, I did not understand why adults would be upset about their birthdays. What's not to like about having your own special day? Now I kind of understand that frustration. It feels like I am constantly being bombarded with reminders of declining fertility in the thirties. It's on the news, it's in my inbox (usually from news sites), and it's in conversations with other women around my age. My mom has been hinting for a while now that she'd like a grand-child, and mother-in-law asked us right after our honeymoon when we would have a baby! Even my brother-in-law recently asked Gil when we going to give their mom a grandson. (Seriously? Is Downton Abbey and we need a male heir?) Talk about pressure!

The thing is, I don't think any of this pushing is helpful. There are lots of great reasons to have a child, but “got tired of my mom's nagging” and “all my friends were doing it” are not among them. Honestly, when I read another scary article or undergo an interrogation, it doesn't make me trust God more. Instead, I feel as though I need to get on it and have a baby while I'm still young enough for God to bless me. That's not the heart of the God who gave Isaac to Sarah, and Samuel to Hannah. I'm not saying it is wise to postpone childbearing and expect a miracle, but I am saying that we need to be careful not to use biology to put God in a box. It makes me sad that some people are not giving us the freedom to enjoy these first months of marriage without the pressure of starting a family right away (let alone the freedom to make our own decisions). I know friends who have started families young, and many of them took a lot of flack for being young parents, but I do believe that those of us who marry older also bear some stigma as well. Can't people just mind their own business sometimes? Not only that, but we all need to mind our words and make sure we are not being insensitive. We never know all the details of another person's life and struggles.

I just want to clarify: I have no issues with discussing these things when I'm with close friends. If you are my friend (AKA you know my last name, we have had conversations in places other than the church lobby, etc.) PLEASE don't be afraid to ask me about my hopes and plans. In fact, I love talking about pregnancy and babies, as it helps me get read for if/when it finally happens. I don't mind casual joking about having a baby if I know it comes from someone who genuinely cares about me and not just my ovaries. I just don't need the constant reminders that I'm getting older.

Okay, end of rant. :-) Thanks for reading and letting me be vulnerable.

Ah, the days when birthdays were angst-free... and bowl haircuts were all the rage.

PS While am not endorsing this movie in its entirety, any discussion of the unhelpful things people say to unmarried/childless women is best illustrated by this clip.  Seriously makes me laugh every time.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Mini Home Tour

Gil is *almost* back from the Rock!  He should be home in a few hours.  As much as I am able to keep busy fairly easily, it's been lonely with him away.  For once, though, it seems that my actual productivity almost matched desired productivity, and I did get a lot done with Gil away.  In terms of my list from Monday:

1)  Have a mini-spiritual retreat. 
I did "fast" from secular music and television, with one exception of watching a favourite program online, and I did get back into better Bible reading habits, although spent less time in prayer than I meant to.

2) Study Chinese.  Like, a lot. 
I did a lot of vocabulary review and am energized to get my study on for the next four weeks.

3)  Hang pictures up around the house. 
Finally finished this task this afternoon!  See below for more info

4)  Organize my closets and my clothes. 

5)  Potentially set up some autumn decor.  I'm thinking a wreath may be in order...
Not at all, haha!  I seem to have forgotten that I don't have a crafty bone in my body.  I found one wreath that I loved online, but it required a glue gun, which I don't have.  And then I realized that I don't actually care, so there will be no seasonal d├ęcor at our place until Christmas.  Is it too early for Christmas decorations?  :-)

Anyway, all that to say, I know that some have asked me whether I will post some pictures of the new house.  In truth, I am really not satisfied yet with our furniture situation, BUT I decided to give you all a hint of how things are looking, so without further ado, here are some photos of my recent picture- and art-hanging escapades.

This is a little piece of our kitchen.  I found this poster in Lake Louise, AB, a few years ago and I love it.  It's framed and mounted in a fairly cheap Ikea frame.  Underneath are a couple of photos from our living room, and bedroom.

Chair free from Freecycle and a wax on canvas that my step-dad gave me ages ago

Wedding photos!  Next to the bowl is a photo of my grandparents.
And now to the bedroom.  This is the space between the window and the closet.  I put up some of my favourite wedding photos, one with my fabulous bridesmaids, and one with my dad and brother.

Our new(ish) bed. The needlepoint above was a wedding gift.
 I got this bedside table and it's twin (on Gil's side) off of Freecycle and spray-painted them black.  On the left is just about my favourite pic of my Ottawa girlfriends, and on the right is a great shot of me and my brother when we were little.
Our en-suite bathroom

So, there's a little glimpse into our digs.  I'm not much of a decorator, but I do love hanging pictures as it makes things feel more like our home and not just any old house!

Monday, 17 September 2012

All By My Lonesome

This week I'm all on my own, friends, while Gil is off to Newfoundland again.  He does this fairly regularly, traveling over there to visit friends as well as to see some patients in the community where he used to live.  I knew before we married that this was a priority for him, and I'm proud that he keeps it up, even though it pains me a little to have him gone so long.

This week I'm trying to make some plans to make this week count.  I'd like to use the time well, but also to do some little things to make our house more home-y.  I know I could do this while he's here (seeing as I am at home a lot while he works), but it's a bit more fun to do it while he's gone so I can surprise him.

So far, my big plans for the next five days are:
1)  Have a mini-spiritual retreat.  I'm trying to "fast" from television and secular music for a few days and get back in the habit of journaling during my quiet time. 
2) Study Chinese.  Like, a lot.  My teacher wants me to write another big exam in 5 weeks, so I need to get myself in gear ASAP.
3)  Hang pictures up around the house.  There are some that will have to wait until we get a new couch, but there are other areas that I've been meaning to decorate,
4)  Organize my closets and my clothes.  I'd like to get my fall and winter stuff ready, as well as giving away clothes that I no longer need.  I realized last winter that my years in Ottawa have left me with way more hats/toques/mitts than I will need in Toronto, especially as I no longer have to wait for a bus in the early morning hours!
5)  Potentially set up some autumn decor.  I'm thinking a wreath may be in order...

One thing I have noticed in our 11 months of marriage is that when Gil is away, my sleep habits change.  I've become used to going to bed around 10:30-11:00 and getting up when he does most mornings.  As soon as he's gone, my body shifts into my "natural" pattern of bedtime around midnight.  When I was on my own and working, I found that during vacations, I would gravitate towards a midnight bedtime.  Isn't it weird how our bodies have these natural tendencies?  Even years of getting up at 6 a.m. for work couldn't shake the night owl out of me!

Do you do anything fun while your spouse is away?  Do your habits change at all?  I'm curious, so let me know!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wedding Recap

I am happy to announce that my little brother is now a married man!  All went off without a hitch (well, other than the "getting hitched" part, haha") and I can honestly say it was a beautiful weekend.  Coming so close on the heels of my own wedding, it was a bit like experiencing that event all over again, with the added bonus that I wasn't stressed out and could spend more time talking to family and friends.

Hooray for the bride and groom!

The wedding was also a reminder of the beauty and power of marriage.  My brother and his wife (so weird to write that!) have been living together for five years, and done extensive traveling together.  Compared to me and my husband, who had never spent the night together (well, except for on a plane to South Africa), my brother getting married seemed kind of anti-climactic when I anticipated the day.  Seeing the joy on their faces during and after the ceremony, however, was enough to remind me that marriage in itself, in the act of formally and publicly committing oneself to another person for life, does change a relationship.

On the other hand, this wedding was a reminder that my brother and I are so different.  Where our wedding was more of a banquet, theirs turned into a wild party.  Seriously, guests stayed and danced with the bride and groom until almost 2am.  Where Gil and I saw our vows as the time to declare our love, my brother and his wife each gave long, moving speeches at the reception, in which they talked about how they fell in love.  It was touching, and very them.

Thanks to all who prayed.  There was no family drama in this wedding weekend.  In fact, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on how much joy there is in my family, despite all we have been through, or perhaps because of it.

Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
    all the wealth of one’s house for love,
    it would be utterly scorned.
Song of Solomon, 8:7

Thursday, 6 September 2012

How Did This Happen?

Two days from now, I will be all dressed up and heading over to the church to witness my little brother marry the woman he loves.  I am excited beyond words.  It's been a hectic few days with a cousin's wedding last Sunday and my dad and step-mom staying at our house this week, and it's easy to get so caught up with the busy-ness that I lose sight of this momentous occasion.

How is it possible that my baby brother is about to be married?  Sure, I have friends who are younger than him and some of them already have children, but in my mind, those friends are responsible adults whereas my brother is still five years old.  As Elizabeth Bennett once said, "In cases such as these, a good memory is unpardonable."

Is this chubby little guy ready to get married??

In all seriousness, I would appreciate your prayers this weekend.  There has been some family drama, so please pray for peace and love to blanket this event and for grudges to be let go.  I pray that my brother and his lovely wife-to-be will enter into marriage with hearts full of love, joy, and commitment to a life spent together.

“Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
 Matthew 19:4-6