Recipe Books...

Many people gave us recipe books as wedding gifts. I think that's kind of a standard thing to do, especially if they know you like cooking. My mom gave us quite a few, namely Company's Coming, with titles such as "Slow-Cook Recipes" or "The Potato Book". Jake and I absolutelylove the slow cook book, especially since I work so late. It comes in handy to have a nice meal ready as soon as we get in the door.

In our meal planning ventures for this week, we had deemed yesterday the "Chicken/carrot/potato" day, unsure of what we would make. Out came The Potato Book, and I checked off a few recipes that seemed interesting or if we had all the ingredients. We decided upon latkes, which, I'm told by "reliable" sources, are a Jewish treat around the time of Channukah. At first glance it looks easy-grate the potatoes, grate the onions, mix in an egg, some flour, and salt and pepper, and Voila!, a nice side to your meal.

Not if you have the world's crappiest grater. I was so frustrated, but too stubbourn to let Jake help me, even though he asked me two or three times if I wanted him to do it. No, I was gonna take the pain, make myself the martyr, beat these potatoes into submission if I had to. (It was a lame sort of determination that I need to work on, ok?)


All suffering aside, they kinda turned out like this:

MMMMM, fried deliciousness. Yes, they were worth all the effort. Jake and I enjoyed a delicious meal after all (especially the chicken with shawarma sauce that he made).



Onward and Upward to Graduation...

Well, it's coming. I have no excuses. I'm graduating in 37 days. The pressure is on!!

My assistant manager loves me so much. I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked at the schedule for the next two weeks, and I have five days off in a row!!! I don't have to go back to work until Monday. I am thinking of getting her a little something to thank her for giving me prime shifts.

I am starting to get a little guilty for not doing more homework this morning, but the allergies are acting up again, and it's been a bit of a rough start. My eyes felt so good yesterday that I even put my contacts in; when I took them out last night, the burning started, and they were so dried out. It's hard to know how to gauge them. I suppose I should just bask in the good feelings when they come.

Plus, taking a slow morning to read the Bible, drink tea, eat some blueberry-infused oatmeal, and write a blog never hurt anyone :)

Thanks for your prayers- keep them coming!!! I can't wait to be finished, and it's only by God's strength and His grace that I will make it. Ain't it so, ain't it so.

One more thing- this verse made me happy this morning, so I'll share it with you:

" 'You must not fear them, for the LORD your God Himself fights for you.' "
-Deuteronomy 3:22

Moses was talking to Joshua about conquering the nations surrounding Israel. I just like how it depicts God as a mighty warrior on our behalf, which He is. Praise Him.



For Your Contemplation...

I thought these pictures deserved their own posts. Just consider how true both of these statements are, and then you'll realize why music is so influential on the youth of today.

These pictures actually break my heart. I have heard many people say to me that they don't listen to the lyrics, just the music. Despite their claims, the lyrics dig in and make a home in their subconscious, making them believe just about anything. Let's pray for the young, naive, and innocent that are being deceived and led astray through many of the songs today. May God use us to reach them when they're at their neediest.


Name That Tune...

How does being culturally relevant translate to Christianity? I'm struggling with this a lot at work right now. I love listening to pop music. I know all the lyrics, artists, and videos. The people I work with are mostly teens aged 16-19, and are obviously very enculturated. I find that talking to them at their level can be difficult, but it's easy if you find the topic they all know well-music. Be it pop, rock, or any 80's song, they're hooked-literally. So many people are plugged into their iPods or MP3 players, but the majority are high school kids. When I'm at work, searching for some way to get these oft angry and belligerent teens to talk to me, I bring up music:

"So, what do you think of Ke$ha's new music video?"
"Hey, have you heard that new song by Lady Gaga?"
"Wow, doesn't that "Papa Americano" song have such a catchy beat?" (seriously, though, watch this one... it's cute :)

Sometimes their faces light right up, or else they'll tell me they think animated unicorns are strange.*

Regardless of how easy this is, I come back to the main question.

Is it ok to be culturally relevant despite all the crap that's out there?

Sometimes I wonder how else I can build rapport with them. In an age where open theism is so rampant, it can't be that hard to bring up religion and Christianity, to start a convo on Jesus. In fact, I have had the chance to ask one girl, Sally**, about what her thoughts are on the spiritual realm (God, angels, etc.). Now that we've talked about that once, how do I bring it up again? How can I relate the truth of the Gospel to someone who watches "Paranormal Activity" for fun?

I'm just thankful that, when an opportunity arises (i.e. when we're not busting our butts to get through 30 cars in the drive-thru) that the Holy Spirit within me will carefully articulate my words so that they understand in a way that is culturally relevant. I mean, wasn't Jesus? He used parables and stories that fit His time period, and taught lessons in ways the masses would be able to relate to (but perhaps they were not meant to understand-Luke 8:9,10- only God can open the ears and hearts of people to understand the deep "mysteries of the kingdom").

The danger is this: I don't want to be so "in the know" that they think I'm one of them. Which is why I am having this struggle. I alluded to it earlier, but can I talk about the music of today in a detached way? How does that even work? See, I want them to know that I care, but don't want them to think I'm part of their culture.

But how can I not become part of it if I expose myself to it to frequently? Listening to the radio doesn't affect me as much, but I have found in that past that watching certain music videos can lower my self-esteem, cause me to loathe my physical body, and incite me to have some form of spiritual disconnect with God. It's a slippery slope to go looking for the hits.***

In conclusion, I do believe it helps to be culturally relevant and to find the common denominator, but what price are we willing to pay? And if we don't ever talk about Jesus with them, then was it worth it at all?


[Author's Note: This blog is an excerpt from my journal today, and for a little more insight into my thoughts, here is the prayer I wrote afterwards: Dear Lord, please guide me. I'm so lost in this desire for acceptance that wars with my need to share the Good News. Please give me a passion to share; stir up the Spirit within me. Help me to know where to connect the dots, and when to speak (especially what to say). I have so much fear of rejection, Father! Help me to look to you for wisdom and strength.]

*Ke$ha's new music video has unicorns in it. That are animated and wearing suits. It's just plain weird.
**Name changed for security reasons
***Please don't read into this. I am not for a moment suggesting that all the hits are bad, nor am I condoning them either. In my own Christian walk I have had to work through what is neutral and what is clearly and blatantly evil. Perhaps you are still working through that yourself. My intention is not to offend anyone, but rather to get us thinking critically as Christians should.


The Luckiest of all Charms...

Have you ever eaten the cereal "Lucky Charms" guilt-free? I haven't. When I was little, I wasn't allowed to eat them, for two reasons. One, because of the name. Two, because they're a "sugary cereal without any nutrition". My husband, on the other hand, LOVES these kinds of cereal, and will down two bowls without the blink of an eye.

When shopping at food basics the other night, we saw the family sized Lucky Charms on sale for half price. With a wistful look and a shy smile, Jake looked at me and said, "Do you mind if I get some?" "Of course not," said I, knowing he was as happy as a clam.

The next day (yesterday), I was hankering for something sweet to eat, that didn't require much assembly. Next thing I know, my eyes wandered up to the cereal cupboard, remembering those Lucky Charms (they're a nice little snack). Today, however, I got up the courage to have a bowl. For breakfast. I'm finishing it off as we speak, relishing the taste of those colourful little marshmallows, knowing that all the discussions about healthy breakfasts just swirled down my esophagus along with the sugary milk. I think, for the time being, my guilt has been partially absolved.



Mid-Term and a Book...

I got the results from my mid-term on Tuesday, and I received a 90%. I was overjoyed, and felt much more at ease. Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me!! Now I have to finish a book on teaching that seems to me like the longest one in history. I have been trying to read it for about two hours but keep nodding off. I have read about 50 pages, though, so I'm getting somewhere at least.

Jake and I are excited for next week-end. A friend of mine blessed us with the opportunity to stay over at a local hotel. She had a complimentary night's stay, including a breakfast for two, and hadn't had a chance to use it in the past year. Since it expires on April 1 and she is going away, she thought we might like to use it. I can't wait, eager to be able to have this mini-retreat to look forward to (even if it's only five blocks away!) I need to set some goals for myself so that I will have most of my homework done by then :)

This is what I have been dreaming about for the past two days, ever since Jake and I went to a local restaurant for dinner. We ordered a piece of chocolate cake to split for dessert, and were immensely pleased (not to mention our chocolate appetites were more than satiated). You'll never get a better piece of cake anywhere. I promise you.

Enjoy the sunshine, and go find a piece of cake. Just do it.



In the Early Morn...

I was literally up at the crack of dawn today. (Isn't that sunrise gorgeous, by the way?) When Jake works days, he gets up at 6AM, and guess who got up with him today? Me. I needed to study for my mid-term. Now I have two less projects due: I handed in my research paper on 1 & 2 Chronicles, and wrote my exam.

I feel just a smidge lighter today :)



Stir It Up in Our Hearts...

I hope everyone is enjoying all the beautiful sunshine that is brilliantly streaming through the window today. I will soon be out there walking to work, so I hope it's as warm as it looks.

I don't have much time to write, but just wanted to give a brief update on this busy week-end. Friday night saw Jake and I off to Toronto, to stay at the Center for Student Mission (CSM) wher he hosted student trips in the summer of 2008. It was so awesome to see him in his element, leading the group(which consisted of 9 adults) around the downtown area on a prayer tour on Friday night, an early morning breakfast run to the homeless at 7AM(we woke up at 5:30am to get everything ready), and some time helping a local homeless shelter fold laundry and sort clothes. He was an awesome leader, and gave us specific things to pray about for Toronto. I was encouraged by the prayer tour, and just kept hearing parts of the song "Consuming Fire" swirling around in my head: "Stir it up in our hearts, Lord-a passion for your Name". It is all because of his glory that we need to serve. I was reminded that if I try to serve on my own, I will burn out. Saturday night was another reminder, while at friend's house (from church) for a monthly missions night, that we must not divide the physical help from the spiritual. It's not all about Good works, nor is it simply all about evangelism. We must somehow learn to merge the two, so that we can help people where they're at. These were very encouraging thoughts for me, and I'm still mulling them all over in my head.

Yesterday was a homework day, and I basically spent most of the day finishing up my research and writing my paper on 1 and 2 Chronicles. Jake and I took the liberty of using the tradition of pausing Lent for Sunday, and we watched a movie (I had to have some sort of goal for finishing up my paper :)

We both slept in this morning, and, as a result, Jake was late for work, and I was late in starting on the homework again. Praise the Lord for Jake's job; it seems they don't really care if people arrive late once in a while.

That's all for now, I may or may not expand on some stories later.

Blessings for a wonderful day!

P.S. Jake and I have a new favourite combination: eggs and green olives. Seriously, I didn't know we'd go through a jar of olives so fast. So far we've tried olives in omelets, with scrambled eggs, and currently I am eating an egg salad sandwich with, yup, you guessed it, mashed olives. TASTY! Don't judge before you try. It's AMAZING.


A Time to Cry...

Well, if the title of this blog drew you in, sorry to disappoint, but there is no sadness here. I just wanted to mention that my eyes have been dripping lately-seemingly from allergies. They have also been very itchy, and I have dark circles underneath them (also from lack of sleep).

This week-end is going to be very busy, but exciting and eventful. By Tuesday, I have to finish a lecture, study 9 lectures, write a mid-term, and a 6 page paper on 1 & 2 Chronicles. As well as travel to Toronto on Fri-Sat, go to a missions night, visit a friend, and spend some time with my husband. Let me say it again: FULL WEEK-END. I can't wait for this semester to be over. Not that the busyness will go away, but I will be able to rest my mind again for a little bit.

God is so good. He is teaching me more and more about the little things that I need to change in my life, and how to become a better wife.



The Wednesday That is Called "Ash"...

It's the beginning of Lent. All around the world, thousands of people are giving something up for this auspicious tradition, for the next 40 days, most of them not even knowing the reason behind it, or even why. It's merely "tradition".

I cannot claim innocence in this, as I, too, am giving something up for Lent, and I don't know many of the reasons behind it. I have heard, however, that the idea was to give something up and replace it with something else that will bring you closer to Christ. To prepare for Easter, when we will remember His death and resurrection.

This year I have decided to give up Facebook and other web-sites that hinder valuable time with God, as well as watching movies (either alone or just with Jake). I am making allowances for Sundays, but that's about it. I felt very compelled to use the time I would have spent on Facebook as time spent in prayer for the world, for missions.

I own a book called Operation World Missions. It's not the most updated version, but it works well enough. Within its pages, it lists countries alphabetic, with statistics on religions, economy, and people groups, as well as answers to prayer and prayer requests. As I cracked open the pages this morning, pages which haven't been opened in many months, I turned to today's date and discovered which country was up for prayer: Brasil. I thought, "Ok, God, very funny. There have been so many memories of Brasil on my mind, and now this." Oh, and that's not all. The book suggested I pray for the country from March 9-11. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me. Brasil it is.

Today was my first day off in five days, and I had decided it would be a homeworking day. Be that as it may, I don't think I was very productive. I did sift through three commentaries on 1 and 2 Chronicles, however, and the information I gleaned on those much-avoided books was well-received. I am writing a paper on them for a course, and the instructions were to discover how 1 and 2 Chronicles fits in the Bible as part of God's redemptive plan for humankind. I will update you once it's finished (it's due on March 15!)

That's all for now; Jake is picking me up soon for a rendezvous at the grocery store. Thanks for all your prayers!



Back to Bloggin'...

Yes, yes, I know. It's been a while. In fact, this has been my worse blogging year to date. And we're going on five years now. I just checked, and it was five years ago yesterday that I wrote my first blog. Wow, so much as happened since then. Being married is probably the biggest change that has happened in my life. I defy anyone to challenge me on that!

This past month has been filled with so much stress, mostly due to school. I'm set to graduate on April 30th, and have to finish all my homework by April 15. I have a lot to do in that time. Jake has been a good help to me, offering to bring well-seasoned and timely advice when I need it. Not only that, he is my biggest supporter, and he wants me to graduate as much as I do. It's been five years, and I'm so ready to move on to the next step. I am intending to do get my certification in TESOL in the next coming months, so that I will "have a clue" when teaching English. That is a must for me, since I hate doing anything without being fully informed.

Tim Horton's is going alright. I was feeling somewhat content for about a week, then last night, something snapped, and I am feeling rather stuck once again. I think there is a huge fear that with all the work that I'm doing there won't be enough time to do homework. Valid enough.
One of the girls that I was specifically praying for got fired last week. That was a huge blow for me, since I don't have any contact info at all. I was very concerned about her, and hope that she is going to graduate highschool. Since then, a new girl has been hired, and she was sweet enough to drive me home tonight. I hope that I can be a good influence on these guys (they're all between the ages of 16-19). I know that when I come to work with a lousy attitude, it sends the wrong message. I want God's light to continue to shine through me. Please pray for my attitude in that place, as well as whether I should stay there or quit and concentrate solely on homework. It's not only the homework time it's killing, but also time with Jake. Either we were spoiled the first three months, or I'm a liar. Neither of us have been home long enough (or lucid long enough) to cook a decent meal in a long time. Because he's been working nights for the past two weeks, we only see each other a bit in the morning and then he would visit me for my half hour break at four. I guess I have a lot on my heart right now, but I know that only people who really care read my blog (since I don't feed it to Facebook). Please pray for us. This next month and a half is going to be a big haul, and I need every ounce of motivation to get my butt in gear and finish my assignments.

In more positive news, I have been able to read some more fiction books, and one that I just finished reading was called A Mother's Hope, by my fav author Francine Rivers.

It was about a girl who grew up into a woman and mother, basing her decisions and treatment of her children on her past experiences. It really helped me to think about how I will be as a wife and ultimately a mother, and how the way my parents treated me will affect my actions.

Speaking of babies, my sister, Mel, is expecting! She and Nathanael will be proud parents (I personally think they will have a son) in September. This will be my first "nephew", and I am so eager to be a doting "auntie" (however doting I can be living two hours away).

Well, I wish everyone a pleasant evening. Perhaps my next blog won't be so far away...