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Showing posts from March, 2007

the Friday list

1. This is Dean's new car, a Honda Accord. He picked it up on Monday and like he would say, "It doesn't totally suck." We have yet to name the computer woman who lives inside it and gives directions while you are driving and responds to commands like "Radio On." Any suggestions?

2. My car switched from winter tires to summer ones yesterday - the official sign of spring here in Quebec.

3. I had a cat incident this morning. Jazz jumped onto the bed, unaware that my face was exactly where she hoped to land. Surprised, she quickly dug her claws in and jumped right back off again. Ouch! I look like I have been in a bit of a street brawl with the lacerations above my left eye - hopefully this will improve my ability to intimidate and influence people to unquestioningly respond to my requests as they will assume I am someone not to be messed with! Well, one can hope, right?

4. I have been battling a silly cold all week (lost my voice for a few days as w…

my time

This is a picture Dean took in Cuba of the coral reef at the end of our beach - gorgeous when the waves crash against it, but sharp and impossible to walk on barefoot.I had a job interview today. It went fine and the two men I was talking to were very pleasant and gracious. As they started to list the tasks and events I would be responsible for if I got the position, I started to feel a little anxious because I already had some plans for this spring and summer (good and noble plans like a weekend away with Dean and hopefully some travel to visit friends this summer) and this job with all its obligations might threaten to cut into these wonderful things that I really wanted to do. I decided the only thing to do was leave the matter in God's hands and trust him with whether or not I got the job, but a tiny concern was still there. As I drove to the vacuum repair depot this afternoon, the real reason for my anxiety suddenly struck me: I believe that my time is my own to do with as I …

the prodigal province

I am using the word "prodigal" in the positive sense here to describe someone who is extravagantly generous.
I was driving to school this morning and thinking about all the buzz regarding yesterday's landmark election in Quebec in which a minority Liberal government was elected. One point that my favourite Canadian political commentator, L. Ian MacDonald, made was that it was a bit concerning that over 60% of the votes went to support people that have some degree of Quebec sovereignty or autonomy in their mandate. He concluded that this will probably result in Quebec asking for more concessions from the rest of the country and getting them since the Liberals (federalists) do not hold the majority of power.
Now please understand that I consider myself a Quebecker and have grown to love the people of this province and do not write this lightly or out of any ill-feelings, but out of a desire that we learn and grow together in this great country. It has been my experience that…

the moon is not the sun

This is a picture of the moon taken on March 22, 2007 in Cuba. I find the moon very difficult to photograph for two reasons: 1. it is not very bright and somewhat small so unless you have a major zoom lens, most of the picture is black, and 2. I seldom have my tripod when I see a nice moon and my human body cannot hold a camera steady long enough to get a clear shot. However, balconies are great things to lean on and I thank the Blau Costa Verde resort for thoughtfully building some right where I needed them on that night. The shot is not perfectly steady, but the movement works in this case.One of the things I have been learning about in the past few months is the concept of surrender. You think you know what it means and you say yes, my life is surrendered to God, but then I react to a situation in a bad way and see that my life is anything but surrendered - I very much want to have things go my way and I get annoyed when they do not. And so I am retaking the life-course on …

Impressions of C*U*B*A

I do not believe that I managed to get an adequate overview of the whole country of Cuba in my short stay there, especially since most of it was on a resort relatively isolated from the everday life of most of the residents, but here are a few impressions, some light-hearted, some a little bit deeper.
1. There are no windows. Virtually all of the houses that we passed as we drove through the country had no windows. There were only shutters of various kinds and at times, open squares in the wall. Most doors were open as well.
2. Many yards boasted a cactus hedge which kept the desired animals in and the less desirable, out.
3. Despite a lovely tropical climate, the land seemed tired and dry, the foliage and grass brownish instead of lush green. There were, however, some outstanding flowers and cactus that were flourishing because of attentive care.
4. Guards and fences were common sights at most establishments. Our resort had a guard and guardhouse at the beach gate and a 24/7 guard just …

tell the truth about yourself

Well, I asked my good friend Jaclyn to be a guest blogger, and she surprised me by writing something all about ME! I was hesitant to put it up for all to read, but in the 40 Days of Offerings exercises, yesterday was a day to "tell the truth about yourself," so this is what I will try to do. If a wonderful and honest human being like Jaclyn sees glimpses of these good things in my life, it is apparent that my desires to be such a person as she describes are not all in vain. Thank you, Jaclyn, for helping me tell the truth about myself. Here goes, and I did not edit it accept for a few spelling or grammatical tweaks...

Well.. As guest blogger on Matte’s site, I feel greatly honoured. I have witnessed first hand how she diligently maintains it and considers thoughtfully each night what she will write. I willingly admit, I’m totally addicted to reading Matte’s blog. It's definitely on my Internet "favourites" list- for quick and easy access.I want to write a …

Top 11 from Cuba

1. Going from minus 10 to plus 29 degrees in 4 hours! YES!
2. A shallow white sand beach where you can wade in for at least 30 metres and still only be waist deep.
3. Coconut yogurt - yum!
4. The most creative chambermaid named Nivia who makes art out of blankets and towels. Yesterday our blanket sculpture was a swan wearing my sunglasses! haha
5. Dean getting lots of sleep! (very good)
6. Reading a good book with the ocean waves crashing in the background.
7. Watermelon for every meal!
8. A leisurely horseback ride up into the countryside where we saw farms, farmers, animals and a beautiful view from the hillside.
9. Pina coladas by the pool.
10. Wonderful and talented Cuban musicians who all know how to not only keep a beat but mix complex rhythms together AND dance at the same time. Wow!
11. Did I mention watermelon? Oh, and sun, surf, sand, and smoking the competition at rifle shooting! We are known as the most dangerous couple in the resort! haha

This is me on the beach at sunset (just put …

un-frozen

We are leaving for Cuba tomorrow at 6 am. I am trying to pack (are 6 books too many?) and finish up a few things I have to get done before we leave; this day has been a little too long on "to do's" and a little too short on sleep and food. Oh well, there are days like that and then, there are days like tomorrow. YES! Leaving jobs and church responsibilities behind makes me realise that we too often work ourselves into positions where we seem almost indispensable, and we should instead be working to equip and enable and develop leaders that not only lead alongside us, but surpass us in many ways - who flourish and grow when we leave a gap instead of collapsing into it. May there be much flourishing and thawing and growing this week in Montreal AND in Cuba. This picture was taken on Christmas day a few years ago in Winkler, Manitoba.

day off

We leave for Cuba in 2 days. It is a welcome and much-needed vacation for Dean and I am happy to go with him. I was just reading the end of 2 Chronicles this afternoon where a 70-year exile was imposed on the people of Israel to make up for all the unkept sabbaths. Yikes! Though keeping the sabbath is not one of the top commandments in many people's minds, this story reminds us that it is not to be ignored. As Jesus demonstrated, keeping a holy day is not about ceasing all labour nor about a specific period of time that is untouchable. It it about not finding your source in your own efforts. It is acknowledging every minute of every day that God makes the difference, not my labour. It is about being able to rest with confidence that he will always supply everything I need and refusing to become part of the self-reliant community that seeks to make its own way and success.When was the last time you truly had a sabbath? When you stopped your mind and soul from analysing an…

intervention

This is the interior of one of my favourite local restaurants which has a view onto the river at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. It has very little to do with intervention, but I really like the blue in this photo. Saturday was a day off and Dean I spent some of the afternoon watching a show called Intervention. They followed a girl (in her early 20's, I guess) around with a camera on the ruse that they were doing a documentary on addiction. You see her driving to a dealer with her girlfriend to buy drugs, then they both shoot up in the car and she talks you through what she is feeling. Most of the conversations with her friends are about drugs and when they can get high again. In truth, the family has contacted someone to do an intervention because this girl's life is out of control and she is making bad decisions and her family is suffering for it. The cameras are an excuse to get into her life and confront her. When the family and friends finally start the intervention, she is very an…

10 random Friday things

1. I installed this new kitchen faucet today and think I did a pretty good job. No leaks (like the old faucet had developed), no personal injuries (despite power saws being in use), and no swearing (despite some rather frisky silicone sealant).
2. Today I finally decided that I am only 2 Diet Dr. Peppers away (all the stock I have in the fridge) from giving up aspartame. Sigh. I do love my fizzy drinks, though I know aspartame does my head and body no good. Any suggestions for alternatives? My friend recommended Club Soda, and I picked up some Orange Crush with sucralose. Taste tests to commence soon. I think I will have one now. Pop!

3. While driving home from Home Depot today, I took this picture. Now, I don't recommend photography while driving and I am sure the people behind me don't either, but the sky was amazingly grey and bright at the same time. Forgive the dirty windows but it somehow puts the wondrous sight in perspective.
4. Today's Lent exercise is to lie o…

starting again

This is one of our guest rooms. It no longer looks like this because I painted 2 of the walls yesterday and did a second coat on them today. It was called "The White Room" by one of our friends because that was all it was...lots of white (and posters of Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix), but after adding a darker comforter and some warm colour called Rosestone on the walls, it promises to be much more inviting. Despite this house being just over 2 years old, getting it just right has been my ongoing project since we moved in October, 2005. Last summer was spent outside doing the landscaping and lawn and putting up eavestroughs and parging the foundation and painting the deck. This winter we reconfigured the guest bathroom to include a shower and use the space better. Now I am looking to repair all the cracks that have formed as the house settles and use some colour to convert the bedrooms into homey retreats for all who dwell here and all who visit us. And when we finally…

tea and silence

This photo taken by Dean is of Tea deeply engrossed in one of her favourite hobbies: sleeping under the covers of our bed. Today Tea is 5 (well, somewhere around this date - because Tea was found in a park, we don't really know when she was born). Happy Birthday, Tea!

I have been sending out daily emails of 40 Days of Offerings (a simple and brief devotional exercise to do each day of Lent) to our friends and church community. Today's suggested exercise was to stop all the noise for a bit and LISTEN. Sit in silence and hear. Read a passage from the Bible out loud and hear. Ask God to give us ears to hear. I sat with Tea at the dining room table and after reading my Bible, listened. This is what I heard:
* Tea licking herself clean (she does this rather noisily)
* the fridge running
* my breathing
* the wind outside
* the house creaking
* an MSN alert when Amy from Toronto signed in
* the clock ticking in the office
* my stomach gurgling and digesting

I also asked God to let me…

boundary

This is a boundary marker between Canada and the United States. We were in line at the Quebec/New York customs a few summers ago when I snapped this picture. I had an interesting conversation a few days ago with an acquaintance who was talking about pursuing further education and telling me all the things he did not want to do or places he did not want to go for various reasons. Either the school was not well-rounded enough, or the internal politics were distateful, or he had no respect for someone who had come from there. At one point I just stopped him and said, "If you want to learn, you can learn anywhere! If Jesus is your teacher, it doesn't matter that the place or the people are not perfect. He can teach you what you need to know." Yesterday I was thinking about the restrictions and boundaries we often place on ourselves that take us out of trying things before we even consider them. My excuses have included, but not been limited to: age, gender, lack of experience…

wheat

I grew up on a farm and the image of a stalk of wheat is a familiar and strong one for me. This photo was taken in New Brunswick on a trip to visit friends a few summers ago. Tonight at church we watched a DVD of John Wimber teaching on the cost of commitment. The concepts of faithfulness and commitment are not popular these days; instead, self-realisation and fulfilment and getting in touch with how we feel have become much more valued as guiding forces in our lives. However, if we want any of the good stuff in our lives to multiply and stick around after even after we are gone, we must be prepared to die and plant it again, to give it up and start from the beginning over and over again, every time God asks it of us. Learning never stops, and new growth always requires new starts. Only God can make something that is truly eternal and of lasting importance. Let your legacy be in the hands of one who can make it more that you could ever imagine.

just for fun, just for Jaclyn

Jaclyn from Australia left this morning for Toronto. She had been living with us for 2 weeks and she was the most fun to have around. I very seldom meet someone who loves to do so many of the same things as I do, can be fun AND deep, and understands so many of my quirky ways and words, and in fact, spurs me on with her own antics! One of the wacky things we did one night was play a word game where you get five random letters in a row and you have to make up a sentence using one letter to begin each word. Here are some of our best and silliest sentences:

1. Bounce the chicken meat around.
2. Every cactus loves yelling, "Come!"
3. The toilet paper is all fun!
4. Crazy Jello builds wiggly you.
5. Married dogs electrify night skates.
6. Come shovel heavy fluff - interesting!
7. The eggs clapped for mom.
8. Green peanuts make everyone throw-up.
9. "Have fun," said chatty Edmund.
10. Drama has elephants, you cheap!
11. Gladly make nine avacado vacuums.

And if anyone is feeling the v…

walking on water

This photo was taken earlier tonight from the middle of Baie de Vaudreuil. Yes, I was walking on water, literally! My Australian friend and I decided to take a little walk on the frozen river and see things from a slightly different perspective. We visited 2 ice fishermen who had caught five fish and were waiting for more to nibble on their baited strings. We saw sections of ice so clear and black that it felt like you were seeing and stepping into a black chasm of space. We peered into an uninhabited ice shack that contained wooden chairs and other miscellaneous tools and equipment for a good day's fishing. We watched several cars drive by on the ice and wondered why they didn't stop to give us a ride back to our car because we were getting cold by this point! We observed that one must walk quite differently on ice than one does on snow if you want to remain upright. And we realised how easy it is to get disoriented when familiar things like roads, signs, buildings a…