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

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Resurrection Sunday

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
John 20:11-18

Happy Easter, friends!  May you live today and every day in the light of the Resurrection!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

5 Things to Make You Smile

I've been wanting to get some more thoughts onto paper (or rather, virtual paper), but life has been hectic lately.  Until then, here are 5 things that have made me smile lately.  Hopefully they'll lighten your day as well.

1)  Spring is here!  I know, I know, it might snow again next week, but for now I'm enjoying some warmer temperatures.  Last week we had at least six robins in the tree outside the church.  I tried to take a photo and this is the best I could get:

2)  After women's prayer group, I came upon one of the ladies in the hallway.  I said I was on my way out, and she said, "I'm just waiting for the girls."  She's probably in her 70s.  I hope I always consider myself "one of the girls", no matter how old I get to be!

3)  I went to see my old eye doctor for the first time in close to 10 years (since I was having my check-ups done in Ottawa while living there).  I didn't even know if he would remember me, but as I was waiting with my book, he said:  "You were always reading books when you came here.  I remember that."  See, I wasn't exaggerating when I called myself a lifelong bookworm.  :-)

4)  If you like Downton Abbey, this video is amazing. 

5)  Homemade caramel corn.  Actually, we made it a few weeks ago, but the memory is still smile-worthy.  Check out the video here.


Friday, 22 March 2013

An Embarrassment of Riches

It's spring again, although you wouldn't know it to look outside, and I'm looking ahead to the new life that this season represents, as well as behind to whence I've come.  About a year ago, I wrote this post.  I was feeling frustrated as I waited for God to move in my life, to open a door or even a window so that I could feel at home.  I can't help but feel blessed as I look around me now. 

I used to be so frustrated about having nowhere to serve.  I was so involved in my old church, but in the new one it seemed like I had no idea where to look for opportunities.  Now, I find myself having to decide where to step back.  I've been involved with youth and a couple of other areas, and have recently been asked to serve in a para-church Bible study group that I attend.  It truly is an embarrassment of riches.

When I was offered my current job, I was worried that being "just" a receptionist would be so frustrating.  What would people think of me?  Today, I can say that I am very happy working part-time and having the rest of my days to focus on home, my Mandarin studies, etc.  Other opportunities may arise, and I'll consider them prayerfully, but God has been teaching me to stop seeing myself through the lens of being a career woman.

Even a few months ago, I was still feeling sad about not having many real Christian friends here.  I tried and tried to remind myself that it takes time, but that doesn't keep the loneliness at bay.  Recently, I've been meeting new friends in and out of the church.  I had an awesome time with a new friend this week, and the yesterday when I saw her at church, she turned to another woman that I think is wonderful, and said, "How about the three of us get together some time?"  I swear, the heavens opened up and I heard a big Hallelujah.  (Well, okay, not really).  This is what I've been craving:  Not just individual friendships but a group of ladies that I can have fun with and discuss life, faith, and everything else.  As an added bonus, two friends from Ottawa were here last weekend and I had a great time just enjoying the company of close girlfriends.

I'm not saying any of this to boast about how my life is so amazing.  I mean, I'm really blessed, but I still have those moments when I get locked out or spend half the day on the phone trying to figure out our health insurance benefits.  But when I look back at where I was last March, I see how much God has blessed me in the past 12 months and I am awed at His goodness.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Locked Out!

Yesterday morning my husband forgot his keys. He was up early and I slept in, but was suddenly awakened when he phoned and asked me to let him in. We laughed, he grabbed his key ring, and we forgot about the incident.  Oh foreshadowing! Only a half a day later and I found myself in the same predicament, only worse because I had no one at home to let me in.

Late that afternoon, I threw on my workout clothes before heading out to ladies fitness at the church. I marveled at the warm spring weather, thinking how great it was not to have to pull on long pants over my workout capris. I grabbed my water bottle, pulled on my rubber boots because of all the puddles, locked the front door from the inside and stepped onto the porch... without my keys!

What to do now? I couldn't get into my car to drive anywhere. Even if I had time to walk to the church, I couldn't go to fitness in my rubber boots, and of course, Gil is on call this week and likely to be home late. I considered taking the bus to my mom's house, but that's a bit far for Gil to come pick me up. In the end I chose my favourite vestige of security: the public library.

Unfortunately, our closest library is in a mall. This is the kind of mall that is so wannabe posh that its posters describe it as "haute". There are chandeliers in the lobby and most of the clientele are my mom's age. This is where I found myself, wearing workout capris with rubber boots. Good thing I try to keep things classy!

My attractive ensemble
Thankfully, I have a sense of humor and don't panic easily. I spent some time getting caught up in my Thomas Friedman, and eventually made it home safe and sound. And hopefully I have learned not to be so hasty in locking the front door.

Update:  When I wrote this post, I was still at the mall, anticipating a quick rescue. That didn't happen.  My husband and I obviously had our lines crossed and some communication mishaps ensured that it ended up being a rough evening for both of us.  I decided to keep the lighthearted tone of my original writing, but want to be honest here and let you know that my life isn't a sit-com and by the end of the evening, I wasn't laughing my way through this experience.  I'd appreciate your prayers as Gil and I try to debrief our way through this and find ways to avoid such miscommunication in the future!

Friday, 8 March 2013

On Knowing Yourself

Do you know your love language?  I've just started reading the Five Love Languages for my marriage reading series, and in preparation took a Love Languages quiz.  Hands-down my top language is "quality time", with "words of affirmation" in second place.  I already suspected this, but it's nice to see it officially.

This got me thinking about my moods lately.  Last week I was feeling low, but the past few days my attitude seems that my attitude has done a 180.  I was attributing this to the feeling of spring in the air, but then when I looked back at the last seven days, a theme came out.  This past week, I've started planning a visit with great friends, gone on a retreat with my youth group, and met up with a new friend.  So actually, I suspect that my mood has improved because I'm "feeling the love" from several sources and looking forward to some quality time with friends next weekend.

Of course, love languages are only one way to get to know your own personality and preferences.  We recently did tests at work to find our strengths, and I helped a friend fill out a Meyers-Briggs personality test, so took the liberty of trying it on myself too.  (I'm an INTJ, in case you're interested.)

As a psychologist's daughter, I was brought up with the idea that knowing oneself is about being able to identify your own needs, strengths, and weakness.  It's helpful to be able to tell Gil that doing X makes me feel loved, or to realize that a certain situation will be difficult for me because of my personality, so I'll have to be more prayerful and mindful of my attitude in the process.  On the other hand, we have to balance being self-aware with being self-absorbed.  We live in a world of all different personality types and love languages, so we can't expect everyone around us to cater to our own needs or preferences.  In fact, as Christians, we should be seeking to go out of our comfort zone in order to meet others at their needs.  (Tim Challies says this much better than I can in this entry.)

What about you?  Have you tried personality inventories, strength finders, etc., and have you found them helpful?  How do you balance your distinct personality and preferences with the call to serve and share the gospel in all situations?

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Joys of Home Ownership: Water Meters

When we moved into our house, I swore that after over a year of house-hunting, I would never ever complain about it.  And for the most part, I haven't, but sometimes it does have its challenges.

First off, the water meter.  I remember when I was a kid, sometimes a friendly man would knock on our door to read the meter.  This seemed to happen with regularity in the "old days".  Now, however, it seems that since moving in, we have regularly received mail telling us to read our OWN meter.  I called several times to explain that I didn't know where the meter is, only to have someone explain that it's SO easy to find.  So I searched and searched, with no luck.  Finally in November, I phoned and after waiting on hold for half an hour, explained that I absolutely needed to have a meter reader come by.  Isn't that what we pay taxes for?  When he finally came a week or so later, what was the result?
He couldn't find the meter! 

Actually, after combing through the furnace room and glancing over most of our basement, we discovered that it's at about shin-level in our laundry room.  The only problem is that because of renovations by the previous owner, the meter is accessible from a square opening in the wall that is considerably lower than the meter.  The only way to read it is to use a camera and contort your arm so that you can take a photo of the meter from above.  Except you need to have the flash on, since it's so dark inside the wall.

I thought this chapter was closed, since I mailed in the little slip with the meter reading on it.  Alas, no.  Yesterday we received another letter, saying that our reading was out of date.  Did the slip get lost in the mail?  I tried in vain to figure out how to get a photo of the reading, then I turned to Plan B)  Call the utilities company and complain about how they lost our slip.  After sitting on hold for over 10 minutes, all the while googling photos of water meters, I decided to have another go at it.  This time I  was successful and decided to enter the reading online instead of chancing the postal system again.  And after 17 minutes on hold, I never did speak to a customer service agent.  Sigh... The end result is good though, as we are way under their estimate and will probably have a few months free.  I took a long hot shower to celebrate.  :-)

These are the things no one tells you about when you buy a house!  Good thing it's so worth it.

PS  I'm off to a winter retreat with our church youth group this weekend, which will likely involve lots of fun, but not lots of sleeping.  Please pray for us!