Baking tidbits...

This may very well be my last blog of 2011.  Although it's been a fantastic year, I'm excited to see what God brings in 2012.

This year I tried my hand at some Christmas baking, and I learned a few things.

1. Never bake things that are your favourites.  You will end up eating them all by yourself.
2. Make things appropriate to whichever side of the family you are visiting.  i.e. Don't make the Skor bark for the family that doesn't have much of a sweet tooth.  *See #1*
3. Don't post pictures on Facebook of what you're making unless you intend to bring it to a particular family gathering.  You may disappoint people.
4. Make sure your spouse isn't around while you're baking- unless, of course, you want to hear them beg you for 'One more cookie'.
5. Giving out little Christmas plates of homemade baked goods to neighbours and local businesses that you frequent will warm your heart and theirs.
6. People love non-traditional desserts at the family gathering.  That being said, make sure someone had the foresight to make a Yule log.
7. Make sure your spouse is around while you're baking- unless, of course, you want to expand your middle from that extra lick or scrape of the bowl.
8. Baking is extremely rewarding, as well as extremely stressful.  Learning to balance both sides of the coin can be a painful process.
9. Make sure someone is around to calm you down if you accidentally spill water on your freshly baked Oreo crumb crust.  *See #8*
10.  Bake a lot one day, rest the next day, then take it up again the day after that.  You'll find yourself more productive giving yourself a break in between.

Jake and I will be ringing in the New Year with some wonderful friends, and then celebrating with more family on New Year's Day.  Here's to a happy and healthy 2012.  May God bless you and yours.



Christmas Aftermath...

I concede that this month hasn't been that busy.   I have been off work since December 9th, and only baby-sat a handful of times after that.  I have been reading- a lot.  I have been slowly picking away at my TESOL course.  But I have been lacking motivation this Christmas season.  To be more honest, I have been lacking motivation and loving procrastination for most of my life.  They have been my very best friends, it seems.  This morning I was confronted with the Israelite cycle, for the billionth time.  I hate the emotional appeals that bring to my knees before God, but don't actually change anything.  One of the things I was reminded of as I read Psalm 25 was waiting.  

David says-in one of my favourite verses- "Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach my Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation.  On You I wait all the day." (Psalm 25:4,5)  

Jeremiah writes, "The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.  It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." (Lam. 3:25,26)

It's interesting that waiting is tied in with salvation on both occurrences.  God has saved me from my sins, and has rescued me from certain death.  But I need to keep waiting on Him.  Change doesn't happen overnight.  

In both passages you'll notice that the writers talk about seeking the Lord, and asking God to reveal his ways and lead us to his truth.  I have found that this is key, when desiring to change.  As Jake said the other day, we need to sweat.  The Christian walk isn't easy.  God is willing to change our hearts, but we also need to be willing to work and seek.  Desiring God comes at a cost...giving up time spent shopping, going online, reading other books that aren't as uplifting.  

The question I have to ask myself is this: 
How willing am I to desire God at whatever cost?


P.S. I love listening to this song when I need to get into a God-space.



I am feeling a little bit ecstatic this morning, the shock of my returned assignment not having worn off yet.  A couple of days ago I finished one of the assignments that was plaguing my subconscious for a month.  I waited eagerly for over 12 hours to receive my marks and...drum roll please...I got 90%, which is the best mark I've received in the course yet!  God is so good.

Now I must finish this portion by December 23rd, and then I will start the Phonology module.  This is my December, folks :)

Enjoy your morning...I'm just going to sit here for a while and drink some tea before I start my homework.



Casein Free: Week 2...

Today marks the end of the second week of my dairy elimination diet.  Has it been hard?, you ask.  Well, yes and no.  I'm feeling a bit more at ease, knowing what I can and cannot eat.  Unfortunately, the things that I can have in restaurants are usually unhealthy and fatty i.e. french fries and chicken wings.  I have to remind myself not to eat too much of those.

On the whole, however, I have been feeling better physically.  I haven't been gassy or bloated (except for when I ate those greasy, fatty chicken wings last week...oh boy.)  My tendency is to overcompensate with meat, so I am trying to do a little better on that end.  I made some hummus today, and I have lots of fruit in the house.  I'm not perishing...just dying a little inside every time I see someone eat ice cream.  (Why is it all about the ice cream? I'm craving that more than cheese.  It's so wrong.)

I'll keep you posted next week for my outcome.  One more week, folks! Bring it!




I received an email from my TESOL liaison, which read:

"Hi Ashleigh
We like to check if we haven't heard from a student for a month. I hope everything is  fine. Everyone is so busy these days and you still have lots of time left, but just checking in."

So now you know the truth...I have been procrastinating and putting off my course.  In the past couple of days I have tried to do a little bit every day, just to keep on top of it.  I have to be finished this module by the end of December, and the course by the end of January.  I need a renewed sense of strength and encouragement, as I am entering into the most tedious portion.  

Please pray that God would give me the desire to see this to the end.  



Sermons and Christmas...

When I was looking after my two young charges yesterday,  I had the chance to drive them to McDonald's in my car.  On the way, I happened to mention Jake's MP3 player.  The youngest one, Michael, leapt at the chance to look at it.  I told him Jake had only downloaded sermons on it.  Disappointed though he was, he still asked me what a sermon was.  Wow.  Such a cool opportunity to talk about church, God, the Bible, and our pastor with them.  I hope that I said something to peak their curiosities about God.  Please pray as I continue to  look for opportunities to share Christ with this family.

Jake and I heard two wonderful sermons in church today, and during the morning service our pastor reminded us of the importance of the virgin birth to our Christian faith.  What would salvation be without it, not to mention the person of Jesus Christ?  This birth was unique, and more than fulfilled the prophecies of old.  How could Jesus have been our Saviour if he had been born from two human parents?  He would have had no credibility because his birth would have been tainted by the sins of the first Adam.  No, he had to be born of the Spirit so that he could be both fully man and yet fully God.

What a wonderful truth to have in our hearts for the upcoming week!



Waiting for the Sun...

Good morning.  I hope your sleep was pleasant and restful.  Why don't you pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and join me?  I'm just waiting for the sun to come up so I can walk to the gym to swim some laps.  I was just thinking about my plan for today.

1. Spend some time with God...done and done...but NEVER done :) I love that this part of my day can be ongoing.
2. I work out...'nuff said.
3. Have coffee with a friend at William's.  In my opinion, the best place to go :)
4. Work
5. Bake a strawberry pie. OH YEAH!
6. Have dinner with the in-laws and pick up our winter tires.  Thankfully they have more storage space than we do.  Oh, and they also have Jake's brother's tires too.  We just call this the "picking-up-the-winter-tires" party.

Enjoy your day.  I'm pretty sure I'll enjoy mine!



The End...

Today I completed the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series.  I started the series in the middle of August, and with the exception of a three-book hiatus, I've been picking away at these books a little each day. It feels surreal to be finished, but I love that the ending is so hopeful when the other books were looking somewhat bleak.

It reminds me of how life on earth can feel hopeless, and yet we have a conquering Saviour who is coming to vanquish us, and do away with evil forever.

Amen! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!



Swim Like a Fishy...

A month ago I wrote about how I was going to test out a gym membership.  It was quite a successful month; I went to the gym about 5 times a week.  Jake and I decided that it would be a good idea for me to renew my membership for this month.

One of the workouts that I am enjoying the most is swimming laps.  Ever since I was 17 years old, I have stopped and started with this particular form of exercise.  Trying to get back into it this time seemed to be a little more difficult than when I did it for two months in 2010.  My form was terrible.  My lungs were gasping for air.  My arms felt like dead-weights.

I happen to know the lifeguard who works there, and she has been in the habit of giving me some tips on how to improve.  This morning she gave me a pleasant surprise when she asked me, "Do you feel yourself getting better?"  I thought for a moment, and realized that, why yes, I do feel like I have been getting more comfortable in the water as I can focus more on the motions than just trying to breathe.  She confirmed that by saying that she's started to notice the difference in my technique.  I was both encouraged and pleased to hear this.



Casein Free: Week 1...

Today marks Week 1 on my dairy elimination diet.  In the past week I have tried my best to read labels, to avoid chocolate (which has been very hard), and to not complain when ice cream seems to appear out of thin air.  On the week-end, I had a sip of my sister's bubble tea, forgetting that there was milk in it.  An hour later, I had an itchy neck (which usually happens when I have an allergic reaction to something).  That being said, I don't think I could cut out dairy from my life after I am finished this 3-week hiatus.  I will merely have to suffer the consequences- and perhaps stop drinking two glasses of milk everyday.

Something I am grateful for is that I haven't been bloated or feeling gaseous, so I'm pretty sure it was the dairy that was fueling that uncomfortable body ailment.  However, we shall see what happens in a couple of weeks.

The part I am frustrated about is that I have been overcompensating with foods that I can eat, like eating cups of marshmallows, or over-eating at dinner.  I notice that I am now eating more meat than usual (which, from Jake's point-of-view, isn't so terrible).  However, there is only so much protein that is needed, and I am exceeding that amount in bounds and leaps.  I am determined to start eating better, like I was before, and truly watching my portion sizes.

On another note, please keep praying for Jake and I in our desire to do missions overseas next year.  We are still in the process, and still waiting for references; it has been somewhat discouraging, but we know that the Lord has everything under control, and we will go when His timing is perfect.



Drink Milk Love Life...

I have often felt sorry for the people around me who are on random elimination diets due to certain health problems i.e. allergies, weight, etc.  Now I am on a dairy elimination diet, due to some uncomfortable gas and bloating.  The purpose of this 3 week torture is to find out if I have a sensitivity to dairy, and thereby determine the cause of said excess gas.

Easier said than done.  It is hard to think about what to make that doesn't involve dairy.  There are so many possibilities, don't get me wrong, but dairy is in EVERYTHING, my friend.  Reading labels is now a part of my daily life.

I also made up a Healthy Fiber Mix that can be added to anything for an added boost (and to make you regular).
Add equal parts of lecithin granules, ground flax seed, and psyillium husks, (all found at the Bulk Barn) stir them together, and add two tablespoons as part of a regular, healthy diet.  Don't forget to drink a lot of water to balance out that extra fiber.  (This mix can be stored in the fridge).

I added it to my oatmeal this morning, and it took me about twenty minutes to finish one bowl, just because it was so filling.

Well, to all those dairy fans out there, cut some cheese for me today :)



Life Stressors...

Being married has shown me how our emotions affect those around us.  When I was single, no one noticed if I was having a bad day, because I'd be alone in my room having my own pathetic pity party.

Those parties don't seem to be as enjoyable anymore.  Jake certainly doesn't like them.  In fact, they make him just as flustered or melancholy as I am.

Being married has taught me that I need to talk about the things that make me worried or upset.  Whining will get me nowhere in life.  But spilling my heart and crying will get me a compassionate shoulder to lean on, strong arms around my waist, and kisses from the man who pledged his life to me.

God has blessed us this past year, and even when things seemed to have no resolution, He got us through.

Because of Him, we can have hope for life stressors run amok.




This week I learned the reason for why some people get warts and coldsores.  It's because they have a strain of the HPV virus in their bodies, and it will be there for the rest of their lives.  The only time you notice it is if you get a wart or a coldsore.  

Interesting?  I think so.  It kinda reminds me of something else we have to deal with...our secret sins that we thought were taken care of already. We often go through life thinking they left, until we encounter a situation where they rear their ugly heads from somewhere deep within us, unbidden and certainly unwelcome.

And yet this is the hope we have : "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

Instead of pretending they aren't there, let's just take some time to confess those forgotten and even unknown sins to our Father, so that we can let freedom reign once more, and experience true forgiveness.



Crackin' Backs...

Jake and I finally have a chiropractor. We just went for the initial tests, so we haven't actually been adjusted yet.  I am dying to get back in there on Monday morning.  Thank the Lord for benefits, but honestly, at only $37 an appointment, I don't know why I wasn't going at least once a month.  Both Jake and I have been suffering needlessly.  I am so grateful for this country, and for people who care enough about the health of others to study and learn how to help us.

It was hard to decide which doctor to go with, since we were referred to about five.  However, we chose the one that was nearest to us, and I'm not disappointed!



Some New Music...

In the summer I bought some new music from HMV online, and just downloaded it onto my MP3 player.  It's actually quite convenient for me.  I don't have an iPod, so this system works pretty well.  Yesterday I decided it was time to buy some more new music.  Lights recently came out with a new CD; in the store it was $12.99, and I bought it online for $9.99.  I love savings like that.  The only downside I can possibly see is that I don't have a hard copy.  To remedy that, I just have to burn a CD.

It feels good to get some new tunes going.  Jake and I have been going through all of our old school Christian music, which isn't a bad thing.  I need some new songs now! 

Also, got my hair updated :) As much as I love long hair, short hair is so freeing, and much easier to take care of.  It's still taking a bit to get used to, but I am enjoying it. 

Hope everyone has a great day!



A Warm Bowl of Oatmeal...

Clue #2 of a True Snacker- You get more excited about finding a random bag of dried cranberries in your cupboard than knowing your freezer is stocked with four different kinds of meat.

I got a gym membership this morning, and worked out on the stationary bike.  The doctor told me yesterday that I do indeed have plantar fasciitis in my left foot, which means that not running for 3 weeks has been a good thing.  I have been walking to work every day, and eating smaller portions, and am encouraged to see some headway with the scale.  Jake and I have been talking about the idea of me getting a gym membership for a while, and one of our main concerns has been that I won't use it (or that I can just work out at home).  Duly noted, so we are going to try this out for a month to see if I actually stick with it.  Apparently I burned 323 calories this morning, and biked 16 km. WOW! I was pretty happy walking out of there.

I came home and made myself some mushy oatmeal with cinnamon, honey, raisins, and flax seed.  Yay for healthy eating! It's time to purge myself of all that ice cream birthday cake.

Speaking of that, thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes and the gifts.  I feel very loved, and am excited for what God is going to do in this, my 25th, year.



A True Snacker...

Jake often tells me that I have taught him how to be a snacker over the course of our relationship.  I had never thought of myself as much of a snack-eating fiend until I found some clues that tell me that I am, without a doubt, a true snacker.  Find out if you are too!

Clue #1: When your window ledge sports a cracker box (or other such snackish material) where a book should be
More to come.



Peanut Butter Fail...

I wanted to do something nice for Jake, so after he left for work, I decided to bake some cookies.  Originally, I was going to bake chocolate chip oatmeal.  However, at the last minute, I decided to switch it up and bake peanut butter.  I don't remember ever baking peanut butter cookies on my own, and now I remember why.  First of all, they are so messy (I can't stand the way peanut butter sticks to everything), and second, I had no clue why the tines of the fork kept sticking to the dough when I was trying to do the criss-cross pattern.  They were starting to look pretty nasty, and I was getting even more frustrated and hot in my small kitchen.  Finally, I remembered that a friend of mine had posted a recipe for PB cookies on her blog, and there was a trick with the fork.  Sure enough, I found out that it's much easier if you dip the fork in water.  AHA! Thank you mbamamamusings!!
I also discovered that peanut butter cookies do not taste like the real thing when you make them with whole wheat flour.  So much for trying to bake healthy! I was foiled. Next time, I'm going to try my friend's recipe :)



Fresh Pages...

I love how a new journal just opens up a world of possibilities.  Every page is new, and I get to write down my thoughts and imagination. I don't always use my imagination to full potential, and get into little ruts with writing, but not so when I start a new journal.  I bought my new one at Wal-Mart, and, although it was a bit pricier than I had hoped, it is so nice.  I also like that it's lined, as my old one wasn't.

Sometimes I don't really consider myself as a writer, someone who other people would enjoy reading.  That's totally fine.  But when I remember that I write in my journal and usually blog every day, then I start to think, is that the makings of a writer? Or am I just narcissistic (in terms of blogging every day)?

There is a part of me that wants to be validated as a writer; even if I'm not writing stories, or books, or getting published in a magazine, I still want to be noticed.  The possibility of being a well-renowned blogger or a writer one day is kind of intimidating.  I think of people like Francine Rivers, whose blog is read by hundreds, if not thousands of people.  Really, who would want to have that kind of readership?  It's one thing to write a book and have that many people read it.  They're not interacting with you.  To have a blog, however, where people can comment and interact, that is a huge deal.  I don't think I'm ready for it!

My Jake wants to be a writer.  He has the gift for it, that's for sure.  If you've never read his stuff, his blog is here.  I would love for him to write a book one day, and to be able to share his words on paper.  He's actually suggested that we try writing a book together.  I think that would be awesome.



A New Week...

There is something about a fresh start and a new week that holds all the possibilities in the world.

In my mind, that is.

In real life, it's a daunting week, filled with appointments, no free evenings, and a messy house.

Thankfully, we have Someone who can ground us, and who we can look to for strength and energy, and most of all Life.

Thank you, Lord.


P.s.  I might have to start lane swimming for a while, instead of running.  Stay tuned...


Cheers to the Freakin' Week-end...

It's official.  Saturday mornings are the best.  No getting up at 5AM.  No schedule.  Jake is home. AND we get to make delicious little Pillsbury croissants.  That's awesome.

If you're in the HV area today, there is a fall festival downtown from 10-3 that you should check out.  We sure will be....like little creepers from our third-storey windows :)



Waiting For the Sunrise...

I've probably said this before, but once I hear a song that I really like, I will play it over and over and over again.  I might play it 10 times.  I might play it 20 times.  But from the first note to the last, I enjoy it more every time I hear it.  One that I've been playing on repeat is "Hold Me Together" by Royal Tailor.  I sent it to a friend and she liked it too (and played it more than once-I'm not the only one!)

This morning I was reminded of a song that I had heard on Life 100.3 while driving up to Orillia last week-end.  I found the music video online this morning, and ended up crying like a baby as I was overwhelmed, not only by the very artistic portrayal of pain and humanity featured there, but also how thankful I am that God is always there for me when I encounter hurt, sorrow, and Satan's poured out guilt.  

Jesus, thank you for your unrelenting love for us, and how you pursue us and pour out more grace!


P.S. I have included the lyrics below.  This isn't the first time I've been impressed by how worshipful this group is.  Check out this video.

Lift Me Up
The Afters

You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up

Waiting for the sunrise
Waiting for the day
Waiting for a sign
That I’m where you want me to be

You know my heart is heavy
And the hurt is deep
But when I feel like giving up
You’re reminding me
That we all fall down sometimes
But when I hit the ground

You lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go
You lift me up when I can’t see
Your heart is all that I need
Your love carries me so I’m letting go

You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up

I know I’m not perfect
I know I make mistakes
I know that I have let you down
But you love me the same

And when I’m surrounded
When I lose my way
When I’m crying out and falling down
You are here to 

Lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go
You lift me up when I can’t see
Your heart is all that I need
Your love carries me so I’m letting go

I can see the dawn is breaking
I am feeling overtaken with your love
With your love
I don’t know what I can offer
In this moment I surrender to your love
To your love

You lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go

You lift me up when I am weak
Your arms wrap around me
Your love catches me so I’m letting go
You lift me up when I can’t see
Your heart is all that I need
Your love carries me so I’m letting go

I can see the dawn is breaking
I am feeling overtaken with your love

You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up with your love
You lift me up


Out of Motivation...

I don't know about you, but whenever I get a major burst of energy and motivation, the day after just sucks.  And I'm being completely honest.  Yesterday I did four hours of homework.  Today I've only done one.  and I have to go to work in an hour (which doesn't give me much to work with).  Not to mention, I still haven't showered after my run.  In my opinion, that run itself should have made me bounce off the walls, eager to throw myself into the next task on my to-do list.  Nope. That hasn't happened.  And so here I sit, my lackluster self catatonic and ready for sleep again.
n.b. I have been up for four hours already.  AND went for a 3.9 km run.  Only by God's grace will I get through this day without stressing.

In times like these, Jake would tell me, "Do you want to get up and do something, or do you want to just sit there and merely think about all those things you need to be doing?  Because thinking and moping about it doesn't help you."  Well, he doesn't say it exactly like that, but...point taken.

So here I go, off to do something productive and be a good steward of this beautiful day God has given to me.



Chatting With a Purpose...

This morning has been filled with reading on how to minimize TTT, Teacher Talking Time, in the classroom.  I have been struck on how little I knew about teaching, and how I wish I could go back and transform my methodology completely.  If you have some time, read this article by Hugh Dellar.  I was doing some extra reading on TTT, and was instructed that one should only use 30% of the class time in teaching.  The rest should be STT, or student talking time.  A teacher should merely be the facilitator in the classroom.  This explains why my students looked at me with glazed eyes.  I was doing all the talking!  Mr. Dellar suggests that if a teacher is going to talk, they must chat with a purpose.  Make it meaningful for the student, so that they can learn something from it and from your model.

I want to become a good teacher.  I hope that by learning how I have been a bad teacher (no, really, it's true. don't tell me otherwise because I am actually happy that I've come to recognize this!) I can become a better teacher in the future.



Rainy Days and Mondays...

Despite the way those lyrics finish, I wasn't down today, just a little tired after a busy week-end.  Also, today was a "no-sweets" day for me, which always throws my cravings into a tailspin.  To combat that, I bought some "Fuji Apple-Pear" Vitamin water, and made my life naturally sweet. 

My nephew, Oliver, is the cutest thing.  Jake and enjoyed our visit with Melissa and Nathanael, and are so grateful to God for blessing them with this wonder child!



A Nice Little Addition...

I am proud to say that Jake and I have a nephew! On Monday, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Oliver John William, and he weighed 7lbs. 7 oz.  We are very eager to meet this little guy; we're heading up to the hometown on Friday night to get a good visit in with him.  

Kudos to my sister, Melissa, who gave birth sans drugs, and who was, according to mom, the epitome of strength and womanhood.  I am so proud of you, Mel, and I know you'll be a fantastic mom.  Nate, I can't wait to see you with your son, and you will be an amazing father.

I am still in awe of these gifts God gives to parents, and am very excited to be a part of this little one's life.  Please be praying for their family as they adjust to all the new routines and excitement of this moment.




I've been getting some CD's out of the library lately, and some of them are ones that I used to borrow when I was in highschool.  It's pretty awesome being able to listen to music that I still enjoy even if it is 6 or 7 years later.  Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow is incredible.  If you ever get a chance to listen to it, you should.  Her voice is haunting and seemingly flawless.

This one is just fun, and so distinctly Middle Eastern. I didn't listen to this one in highschool, though.
Prince Of Persia  Sands Of Tim

Happy listening!



Good News...

She had me waiting with bated breath to see if I would get the job or not, but my new boss from the Heritage cafeteria emailed me today to offer me the cashier position.  Of course I accepted, and I am so eager to start working for her.  It's only 3 hours a day, Monday to Friday, but it's something that allows me to work on my course as well. I am so grateful to God for this, because it's a no-stress place that I feel comfortable working in.  Please pray for my attitude, and that I will be open and receptive to meeting new people (even though I get shy around freshmen).  

In other good news, my good friends Hence and Lois are finally engaged!!! I am so happy and excited for them, and am anticipating another spring wedding to add to our repertoire.  My friends Katie and Ben are also getting married on April 28, so I am eager for all the spring love to bud.  



Exciting News...

Well folks, if you were waiting for some exciting news, here it is:

Jake and I have a new blog!!! YAY! Ok, so maybe that's not exactly what you were hoping for, but we're pretty excited about it.  So head on over if you wanna check it out: If Food Be the Champion of Life, Eat on.  So far only I have been posting, but I think Jake will try it once in a while.  I like his style.  We're still trying to figure out how to add authors.

In other news, this morning has been a complete bust.  I did run for 3.4 km, but aside from that, I've been sitting here wasting time, writing blogs, and watching a little Big Bang Theory.  Hello, pick up the reality phone! I still have grammar to do, eat some lunch, take a shower, and maybe clean my messy apartment.  Ah, all that can wait.  First things first- read my book.  I'm reading a couple of books right now.  One is called The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.  I'm enjoying it, because it is told from the memories of an elderly woman who was a servant for a rich family.   I find Kate to be a classic story-teller, powerfully transporting me back to those times and descriptions.

I hope everyone has a wonderful day.



Happiness Is...

The beloved structure of English grammar (and a handy chart to help me understand do, have, and be in their forms as main verbs and auxiliary verbs).

I have to catch up on three days of grammar.  But I am loving it! And before I am finished here, I will have become, as Jake has so lovingly deemed me, the "Grammar Nazi".

Oh, and here is another wonderful thing that I love:

 my smelly companion while I do said homework.




Some of my favourite things right now include:

This body lotion from Bath and Body Works

New running shoes, top of the line, for only $59.99 at SportChek


Sleep and Bed (I wish it were this one!)



Fudging a Little...

So, ever wondered what creations happen when a girl is really craving some chocolate?  And I'm talking a serious craving here, folks, one in which you can do little else but scour the kitchen for certain ingredients that will make your heart sing.

I happened to find a recipe, and just happened to have all the ingredients for said recipe.  So here it is, "Microwave Fudge":

a. 1 can condensed milk
b. 12 oz chocolate chips...microwave a & b together for 2.5 min. (or do it on the stove.  betcha can't wait that long!)

c. 1.5 cups of anything. literally. the recipe called for nuts, but I think that marshmallows work so much better in fudge, don't you?
d. 1 tsp of vanilla flavouring

Now mix in c & d. Pour into a greased 8x8in. pan (line it with waxed paper if you wish).  Refrigerate until you can't take it any longer.

Then eat it, I say, eat it.  Until you get sick.  Just do it. You know you wanna ( ^_~ ) **wink**



The Humid Experience...

It is HOT up in here, folks.  Let me tell ya, it is unbelievable, and it's September 2.  Bring it on! (and Lord, please continue that lovely breeze coming in from the window!)

I've made a plan to finish my grammar module by next Saturday.  I need to make this goal, because otherwise, the course will just drag on.  I'm excited to move on to the next part, however, which I know will be much harder.

Besides, school is actually starting next week, so maybe I will feel more inspired by all those studious students.

Hope everyone is keeping cool...



The End of Time...

I stayed up after Jake left at 5:30 this morning and haven't done much since 7:30.  I am surprised that the Internet is working so well, and I've been taking advantage of that.  Ever since starting my TESOL course, I am aware of every second that I don't spend working on it.  I need to get my butt in gear!

While reading the final chapters of Revelation today, I was struck with a realization:
-there is a lot in that book that doesn't make sense, and truly, if I try to think too hard about what everything means, I become terrified and generally confused.  I decided today, though, that the focus of the book is not necessarily on how all of those end time things will actually happen.  It is on who this story is about. All throughout Revelation are little snap shots of various persons giving glory and worshiping God.  He is our main focus, and even when we get to heaven, his glory will illuminate the place, and we will all stand in awe of Him.  I enjoyed reading about His power and might: 

"11Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is calledFaithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13He is clothed in a robe dipped in[d] blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure,were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords."
Revelation 19:11-16

Our God is powerful!  He isn't some weakling, but the living God who will come and reign down judgment and justice upon the earth.  That is a wonderful thought!

So here is my summary:

Our purpose on earth is to glorify Christ by living for Him in obedience to His Word, by proclaiming His Name to the nations, and by dying for His Name if he asks that of us.  

I am tired of being fearful of the unknown, and I am glad that I could be comforted by these words this morning.  My finite mind is not made to understand all the mysteries of God, but I know that He will reveal all in time.



Things to Remind Us...

We need to stay focused. What is our purpose here on earth? Why did Christ save us, and what is He calling us to?

Let's ignore the media, the culture that wants to take us down. Let's unify together to shine His light to the nations.

This was more for me than you.



Up, Up, and Awake...

The sounds of the morning commute to work begin early around here. If I'm sitting comfortably on the couch, reading around 6AM, the streets are still silent, with maybe a car or two, and a lonely bird chirping its "good morning". By 6:15, however, the change becomes drastic. A city bus roars past, 10 cars line up at the stop light, 20 birds sit on the telephone wires, squawking noisily at one another, and perhaps one of my inebriated neighbours is still shouting, "Bruno!!" as he staggers around in search of his dog.

Although I live on the corner of such bustling village life, I still feel a semblance of peace up here in my third storey apartment. I can still find my serenity, even after the 6:15 jolt into reality. I have discovered that tea is marvelous. I have blogged about my morning cuppa' before, yet for some reason I must mention again how lovely it is to sip some of that 'Jade Snow' green tea while reading my Bible. I think that the heat from the drink and its soothing properties help me to be open and receptive to God's Word.

This morning was a homemade London fog (made with orange pekoe instead of Earl Grey). Mel gave me a recipe, and it's actually pretty easy. I really love the London Fogs from Williams Cafe. They are absolutely the best, in my opinion.

I am eager to visit my family today. Jake is only working a 1/2 day, so that we can go up. It's so hard when they live a couple of hours away, but I am grateful for the times we can visit them.

In saying that, I have a few things I need to finish doing before we can go. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.


Homemade London Fog
Recipe credit: Melissa [my lovely sister]

Boil some water. Bring 1/2 cup of milk to a boil on the stove, whisking until frothy. Add 2 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla flavouring. Stir. Pour the hot water into a mug, and insert a tea bag of your choice(traditionally Earl Grey). Next, add the milk mixture and steep to taste.


An Expensive Eye Opener...

I was feeling rather sluggish today on my way home from the school. I have so much work to do for my TESOL certificate, but knew that if I stayed home I wouldn't get anything done (I'd probably just crawl into bed). I am now sitting at the local coffee shop with an empty smoothie container, and haven't accomplished any studying. Not yet, anyways. I'm just zoned out, lids still heavy, and trying to focus. I thought that maybe writing a blog might help.

Speaking of my TESOL course (TESOL= Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), I must complete 25o training hours and a 20 hour practicum before I can receive my diploma from ONTESOL by Coventry House International. I'm really excited for taking this course, and already I have learned so much. There are three modules: Grammar, Methodology, and Phonology. I began the grammar module on Monday. When I complete everything, I will be a bona fide ESL teacher! I'm looking forward to it.

What a beautiful day outside. I hope you are taking some time to enjoy this glorious weather which our great God and Saviour gave to us.



A Special Occasion in My Blogging World...

This blog marks the 500th post since March 2006, when I was preparing to head off to Brasil for 5.5 months. Since then, so much has changed, and I've varied in my writing style and frequency. Nonetheless, I still enjoy blogging, and typing out my random daily thoughts.

So a very special thank you goes out to my faithful blog reader, my beloved Nana, who pretty well comments on each of my blog and prints them out for my Poppa to read. She's been with me since the very beginning (literally), so, Nan, without you, I would probably feel like it was all for nothing! I know that a few other people read them occasionally, so thanks for listening!



In God I Trust...

I guess I'm a bit emotional today. I was reading a friend's blog, and she had me teared up in no time. There are so many things on my mind.
Things I am uncertain about.

Things out of my control.

Things I need to change.


I have been reading in the Johns lately (not to be confused with on the John), and today was 2 John. One of his major themes in the first book was about deception of anti-Christs, and false doctrine. That theme continued on in 2 John. I have often been concerned that I might get swept away in false doctrine. Not because I don't believe in what the Bible says, but because I don't immerse myself in truth enough. There are things that I believe, and nothing or nobody will change my mind, because the Bible says it is TRUE. But there are those obscure things, that I may have forgotten, or that don't come up often, where the Enemy can entrap me. I don't want to be caught in that snare. I want to know the truth. The only way to do that is to keep reading. To keep drenching myself in God's Word.

I read a verse in the book of Job that really stood out to me. Job had just been inflicted with boils after losing everything, and his wife wrongly says to him, "Are you still maintaining your iniquity? Curse God and die!" Personally, I think it would have been a service to the poor man if his wife had died too. She was not very encouraging nor godly in that moment. Yet Job's words amaze me: "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?"**

Ok, so now we have something. When the good things happen, we praise God and thank him for it. But when trouble comes, He is often the first one we blame. And yet, we forget that it is through trouble that we learn the most, and grow the most. He uses it, like He used Job's trouble, to test our faith, and to see if we will be the ones to curse His name.


Yes, I am feeling emotional today. I feel somewhat troubled by current circumstances, especially regarding missions. I could view this time as a difficult season and curse God's name, blaming Him when all we want to do is serve Him somewhere.

However, He is refining me. Causing me to seek Him. And reminding me that His ways are always for the best, because He is God and I am not.

So I will go forth and trust Him, for He IS GOOD.


**Job 2:9, 10


Splish, Splash...

Thanks to Jake's new job, we were able to get free tickets to Bingeman's water park yesterday, plus a company BBQ. It was amazing, despite the weather's capricious game of hide and seek with the sun. We haven't done anything like that together, so it was really neat for us to see each other in a totally different element. We swam and slid down amazing slides, got sunburned, as you can imagine, played two epic games of mini-golf in the rain (surprisingly enough, I got 2 hole-in-ones!), and ate so much BBQ we didn't need dinner. It was truly epic.

This ride, called the "Cyclone", was exactly that. We decided to begin with this one, and I got claustrophobic and Jake threw out his neck. Happy beginnings, not. However, we went down a second time, much later, and enjoyed it a lot more. I think the element of surprise was gone, and we faired a lot better! Although, I had to laugh, because as I was waiting to go down, the bored attendant said to me, "You can swim, right? It's a 10-ft drop down there." Wow. Thanks for the vote of confidence!!

Our favourites were the raft ride and "the pipe", and we screamed like little children. Nothing like a heart-pumping adrenaline rush to unify your marriage again. I loved it!



Up With the Sun...

I distinctly remember writing a blog a couple of years ago about how freezing cold my feet were at the time.

Believe it or not, they are freezing right now as well. I'm sitting here on the couch, a blanket over me, the sun's brilliant rays shining not-so-brightly through the curtain, thinking about how grateful I am for the coolness of the morning. More often than not lately, I will wake up freezing cold, dress in pants, and then face the humidity of the late afternoon with a shocking dissatisfaction. The coolness has been a comfort, a relief from the heat of the past few weeks. It's a welcome relief.

I know that I have talked about weather a lot in my past few blogs, but I suppose I'm just surprised at how much I have started to despise the heat. (It doesn't help when I forget to shave my legs and have to wear pants to neatly hide that appalling fact.)

I suppose what I'm really saying is that I wish I could be accustomed to the heat, like the nationals of India are to their heat, or the people of Brasil are to their summer calidity. I am embarrassed of sweating, especially in North America, where it is seemingly frowned upon, as if we are not human. I can't count the number of magazine and other media ads I have seen purporting sweating as being highly inconvenient, presenting various deodorants, cream, or medical procedures to help mask such an offensive bodily function. And that is for those of us that do struggle with this pernicious affection.

I know a few people who don't even need deodorant, let alone anti-perspirant. They can sit for hours in the blistering sun and the damp humidity and not sweat one drop. They don't smell like someone who has just spent a day making vegetable soup, either, which is how I usually smell when I don't use deodorant.

Ah, I just have to chalk it up to genetics (and the way God made me!!), and get used to the fact that my sweat glands work, baby. Don't I know it. Maybe God will send Jake and I somewhere we can wear swimsuits while sharing His Word with people.



Fab Foodie...

Today's random thoughts are on something delicious. After years of hating it and avoiding it like the plague, I now have a new hobby: cooking. I have my handsome husband to thank for that, since he showed me that you can actually have fun while cooking. We have recently started up (once again) our habit of planning out our weekly meals, which I am looking forward to making. This week are a couple of exciting ones, that I am DYING to make.

One is moussaka, a traditional middle eastern and Mediterranean dish that usually contains lamb and eggplant. Mine will be made with beef instead of lamb, but I'm so eager to try this out!! Props to my Mom who gave me Company's Company The Potato Book with the recipe in it, which I just found yesterday. **HAPPY**

The other meal I'm looking forward to cooking this week is this recipe from the 2011 Milk Calendar: the Chicken noodle bowl. I even got to buy rice vinegar, rice noodles, AND Sriracha hot sauce from the Asian aisle in Food Basics, specifically for this recipe.
**Feels so Asian=WIN**
Chicken Noodle Bowl
I mean, doesn't this make your mouth water?!

Every Wednesday during the English Training Camp, we get to have a "Cooking Party". This means I get to plan all the meals, which include a side dish and a dessert. It's pretty fun, and so far the students have been enjoying learning to cook non-Asian food. This week we'll be making individual pizzas, iceberg lettuce with shrimp salad, and banana muffins. I'm excited!



In the Cool of the Day...

Well, it's not quite that cool yet, but I am just remembering that at this time yesterday I had already been in my friend's pool for an hour and a half! I spent four and a half hours in their pool, hence, the pool party. It was so wonderful, and definitely satiated my need for a good swim.

Jake and I didn't realize how fast the week-ends go. I am not exactly eager to start another long week, but I am thankful for the jobs God has given to both of us. They are blessings in this time of employment deficits.

I hope everyone had a wonderful week-end.



A Time to Swim...

Jake and I are going to a pool party today. Not just any pool party. A Heritage "reunion" pool party. It happens every year, and every year it gets more and more fantastic. Plus, I'm married, so now I don't have to feel awkward swimming in front of Jake!

For some unknown reason, there was always some unspoken boy/girl split that would happen. All the girls would be in the pool at the same time, while the guys were in the hot tub, and then there would be the switch. I never understood this heightened awareness of our gender differences, especially when it made it more awkward. If we were at a beach, no one would care, we would all wear what we wear, and that's the end of it. But for some reason, the dynamics change when it's in someone's backyard.

That being said, I think this year will be the least likely to have that awkward tension. Many of the people who will be there are now married, or will be getting married shortly. Plus, over time, the "Heritage rules" syndrome becomes less prevalent in our minds.

All that to say, I'm excited to be getting some reprieve. I'm pretty sure I will be in that pool all afternoon :)



Random Thought Day...

My, it's so different living life without allergies. I haven't had to take a Reactine in probably two or three weeks, which means I can start wearing my contacts again! When I originally got them, the doctor who examined my eyes told me that I could wear them even throughout allergy season. Apparently he doesn't get seasonal allergies, because I could not even wear them for an hour without wanting to scratch my eyes out. I'm very grateful for this reprieve, and happy to know that there is hope after allergy season!!!

I've been reading other people's blogs, and I think it's neat how some people have a specific theme for each day of the week, like "Cool Finds Monday", or "Picture Wednesday". I am kind of intrigued. I am worried about simply being a copy-cat of someone else, however, I could pick my own topic for each day. Hmmm....



Riesens and New Sandals...

So, I am not supposed to be having anything sweet today, but I caved and ate two little Riesen candies- 40 calories each. Hopefully that won't break the scale. I just needed a little pick-me up. But I suppose we always say things like that to justify our food habits. I just got this book in the mail yesterday, and I'm eager to read it. Made to Crave was written by a woman who offers some insights into switching our cravings from junk food to our wonderful Lord and Saviour. So far, it's pretty good.

Our good friends, Chris and Allie, came to visit us yesterday, so we could watch the last intallment of Harry Potter together. We've gone to see the last two with them, and decided not to break tradition on this last one. When I got into their car, I noticed a pair of really nice sandals sitting on the seat beside me. I commented to Allie on how much I liked them, and she said, "If they fit you, you can have them!"

UMMMM....YES PLEASE!! I mean, look at these beautiful gladiators!!!

I have wanted a pair like this for a really long time, and for some reason just haven't got them. And this is why. God wanted to bless me through Allie. So, if Allie ever reads this, I just want you to know that you pretty much made my day!!! (and because you and Chris came all the way down to see HP with us and stay the night...that was pretty awesome too!!)

Hopefully everyone survives the heat today. Supposedly it's the hottest day in Canadian history.



Humid, humid, humid...

["Beautiful Orillia"- don't you just wanna jump right in?]

I don't care if people grew up driving 1 hour to the beach when it was hot out. It's just NOT right!!! I am a Northerner, and take great pride and saying that I only had to walk 10 minutes to one beach, and maybe 1/2 hour (5 min drive) to the other, and they were IN TOWN.

Hear this, people, living in a beach town is not over-rated. I would give anything for that right about now. I'm pretty sure I would be at the beach every evening.

I know I'm ranting. I guess I'm just feeling a little bit defensive of myself, for simply wanting a nice place to cool down. Also, this is the first summer I've lived without AC in two years, in this town. I was used to it in my hometown, because my parents never had it when I was growing up. But this...oh man. God, help me if You ever send me to a hot country to be a missionary. I think I just might melt away.

mmmmmm. melt aways. Like those chocolates that melt in your mouth....you know the ones I'm talking about! I like this change of topic...

Enjoy the heat wave!



God is Good, All the Time...

I am always grateful to God when I find guidance for Christian living within His Word. Sometimes I find myself thinking that He isn't clear enough, but I know that isn't true. Here is something to boost your day:

"Flee also:
-youthful lusts

but pursue:
-peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart

But avoid:
-foolish and ignorant disputes (knowing that they generate strife)

And a servant of the Lord must:
-not quarrel but be gentle to all
-able to teach
-in humility correcting those who are in opposition (if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will). "

-2 Timothy 2:22-26



Soon and Very Soon...

This morning I was reading in 1 Thessalonians, and I found some encouraging words.

"13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4

I have been concerned about my lack of thought regarding heaven, not to mention how confused I get when I try to think about how we'll live there, not only for a lifetime, but eternally...like, forever! It's a staggering thought for our small human minds to comprehend.

I love how Paul includes this dialogue about heaven while sympathizing with those who are grieving about death. One of my favourite parts is when he says, "and so we will be with the Lord forever." I know I don't understand how it will work, just yet, all I really need to know is that I will be with Him. For all of eternity!

One of the main reasons I was encouraged by this passage today was because I have been praying for God to give me a longing for heaven, and that I would be able to think about it more. I just picked Thessalonians this morning in what would seem a random matter, but God had everything planned long before time began.

I have been noticing all the small things that God orchestrates perfectly, that are not merely coincidence. Like how I had all the ingredients for a favourite fish chowder recipe, without previously planning it. Or how the plates that went underneath the bowls were still clean, and went right back into the cupboard. And how a favourite song came on the radio just as I turned on the car. And how the mornings and the evenings have been just cool enough to do the things that have to be done.

Our God is truly an awesome God!!!




My Honey's Birthday...

Jake turns 26 years old today, and it's his first birthday being married. I'm so excited to be able to celebrate with him today, so much so that I couldn't wait to give him his birthday present-I conceded to my inclinations and gave it to him on Monday. He was thrilled, and hasn't stopped thanking me for the Planet Earth DVD's. He has thanked me almost every hour since! (You think I'm joking...

I'm not.)

Needless to say, I'm pretty proud of myself that I know my husband well enough to give him a gift that even he didn't know he wanted until he opened it. However, that's when the pride kicks in. Although I think he's thanked me enough for the gift, my heart swells up just a little more every time. I get into the mindset that it's all about me, instead of all about him. It's kind of like Christmas, where we can get so focused on the presents instead of focusing on the One whose birth we celebrate.

Jake and I have recently started doing devotions together. For a while, we just kept forgetting, and to be honest, our priorities haven't been all that straight either. This devotional book we've been going through was given to us by my parents, and it discusses different topics over several days. Right now we're going through "happiness". For all the triviality that word can possess, there is something within it that I need to remember. It is sacrifice. For our marriage to be happy, and for me to keep my husband happy, I need to be sacrificial. I need to remember to do things for him that might not be my preference, but that make him happy. I also need to be thankful to God for him, and to remind myself of the reasons we got married in the first place. When I start to become prideful, my focus shifts from Jake, and most importantly the Lord, and moves to myself. I am praying for even more guidance and wisdom for how to become a more loving and gracious wife, and to get rid of all the pride that can even make birthdays less than humble.

Jake, I wish you a wonderful day, and an even more exciting year, filled with friendship-building, challenge-seeking, grace-abounding, love-increasing, food-eating, experience-making, and God-growing.

I love you, and thank God for you (and your love for watching an infinite number of Planet Earth DVD's).



Back to Home...

It's amazing, after all the time I was dying to go on vacay, how much I missed our little apartment and small-time downtown core.

Jake and I spent a lovely week at his nana's cottage up near Midland area. We went up on the Friday, and spent all of Saturday celebrating my parents' 25th wedding anniversary (which is actually tomorrow), and then stayed at the cottage by ourselves on Sunday and Monday. Jake said it felt surreal being back there (since many a summer since his birth included a trip to that famed place), and yet he was now there with his wife. It felt pretty cool and grown-up, living in a little house by ourselves :) We had so much fun those two days, canoeing, hiking, swimming, and floating out on the lake on a wind-surfing board (and trying not to tip it over and land up swimming neck deep in feathery sea-weed and algae). Tuesday was my sister, Vanessa's birthday, so we went strawberry picking and then spent the afternoon with my mom and younger brother. Wednesday was spent with our good friends Chris and Allie, who stayed until Thursday morning. Of course, it decided to rain that day, so we stayed in and watched X-Men, and roused ourselves just enough to go into town and eat out.

Thursday morning found me saying goodbye to my dear friend Ruth-Ann, who is moving to BC. It felt kinda weird, and when we hugged, it was like we were just saying, "see you in a month!". I probably won't see her until December, though. I wish her all the best in her travels, and know that she will have a blast in this new adventure.

By Friday, I was much too eager to return home. The cottage had lost it's shine, I was all tuckered out, and getting kinda stressed out about starting my job again this week. i wanted to go home. But we had a great day, enjoyed a morning at the Elmvale Jungle Zoo, and then visited with a wonderful couple whom I love and admire, the Torries. On Saturday, we went to a wedding, and Maria looked absolutely stunning!

I persuaded Jake that we should leave that night, so we cleaned up, locked up the cottage, and made our way back to Home Sweet Home. I feel so much more relaxed, and happy to be back in our cozy little pad.

I loved vacationing with Jake, and we now have some new and wonderful memories of his family cottage.