Life the way you want...

As I grow older, I am starting to understand what adults feel whenever they talk about regrets they have about not doing such and such in life.  It can be addicting to talk about the could have's and should have's, but is it really necessary? Does it edify anyone?

I have caught myself dreaming and wishing that I had graduated with a million other degrees than with the one I have, and wishing that I had been trained in dance, or that I had been a lifeguard, or...yes, I could go on and on.

But honestly, all this dreaming and wishing about the past never makes me feel good.  Isn't that the nature of discontent?  It is debilitating at its very best, and absolutely paralyzing at its very worst.

And P.S...everything that has happened in our lives is according to God's Will anyways.  I am on this trajectory because He has some purpose in mind for me.  Maybe I haven't been very useful yet, or haven't had much of a chance to serve Him with all my giftings.

But thankfully, He knows just the right time for that.  He knows just the right time for when I'm going to complete my TESOL internship, or receive my TESL Canada accreditation, or go for my Master's.

Being content is where I long to be;

       pray with me.



Getting Down to Business...

It's back to work for me this week.  I had a nice time off, but I'm eager to make money again.

I have lots on my to-do-list today, so I can't write for long, but I want to leave you with one last thought that I took from Pastor David's sermon yesterday:

If you're going through trials in life, God is most likely allowing them to conform you into a person of grace and mercy, and is using them to grow you into more holiness. 

May you be blessed today.



In Search for Miso...

My newest hobby, reading cookbooks for fun, has enlightened me to the broadest world of cooking that I have ever known.  I've been learning about new types of fish, pastes, and powders like guar gum.  Combinations such as ratatouille and fried eggs had never crossed my mind in my small sphere of cooking.

In the past, you could never get dragonfruit so easily, or have an exotic vegetable on hand like today.  Globalization has done wonders for the aspiring chefs of our continent.

And yet... in my search for something commonly seen in my recipe books, I had difficulty.  For those of you who don't know what miso is, it is a soy paste commonly used in East Asian cooking (especially Japan), to flavour soups and other foods.  After looking in the international section in both Zehrs and Food Basics to no avail, I was directed to the health food store by a friend.  Happy to find four types of miso there, I am eager to try out my portobello miso soup tonight for dinner.



The Days that Blurred...

Since it is reading week at the college, I have been off and without any work.  Except for a couple afternoons of baby-sitting, I have been visiting with friends and reading.  And yet somehow, I still get the feeling that the week went by much too fast.  The days seem to have muddied around the edges a little bit, and, much like a watercolour painting, blurred into one another.  

I have been thinking about many things this week, one of which is that I never posted about completing my course.   I finished it about two weeks ago, and want to thank all of you who bore with me, prayed for me, and encouraged me throughout the past 6 months.  Although I have finished my actual training, I must now complete a 20-hour teaching practicum.  If any of you know someone who is a certified ESL teacher with over 2000 hours of teaching experience, let me know.  I will be needing a supervisor for this portion of my certification.  Thankfully, I don't have a deadline, and yet, finishing sooner rather than later is still on the radar.  

In other news, Jake and I packed in a rollicking fun weekend last week, and managed to travel to London to visit friends and go to a beautiful, Godly wedding, as well as make the drive up to Orillia to visit my family and stay with them for the remainder of the time.  It was so good to seem them again, since those visits are very few and far between.  

Sometimes I wish I could split myself in to parts (Harry Potter fans, don't get all nervous on me now!).  I wish that I could visit all the people I want, but, unfortunately, there are some people who I just don't seem to get to, or make time for.  If you are one of those people, and I know there are many, please forgive me.  And drop me a line if you want to get together or chat on the phone! I am striving to be more intentional in maintaining relationships, even if you live as far away as B.C. [you know who you are ;)], so bear with me on this one. 

Hope the weather holds out for you today! I can hear little chunks of hail hitting the window, and am feeling a lazy couch day coming on...



The Day is Young Yet...

I've been up since 3:30 this morning.  Not because I wanted to be. And not because I didn't want to be, either.  I was merely awake, and my body had received sufficient sleep.  I got up and made my way through the book of Colossians, which is now my favourite book of the Bible.  I can never keep track of my favourites, since every time I read one, I change my mind.

My mom always talks about how God wakes her in the middle of the night to sing praises to Him, or to get in the Word and do some soul-searching.  I've often thought how encouraging that time must be for her. I haven't experienced it that much, but this morning's experience was no-less inspirational and blessed.  I feel at peace with the day, and feel like I could conquer anything with God's help.

One of the things I was reminded of was the need for thankfulness.  In Colossians, Paul encourages the church to continue in growing their faith, and reminds them of God's sovereignty and power over all creation.  He also asks them to be mindful and thankful for the gift that Christ gave them in reconciliation with the Father.  Jesus gave us the best gift when he laid down his life so that we might have forgiveness.

This is the centrality of the Gospel, but how often I forget to meditate on the beauty of this sacrifice, as my mind tends to focus on mere distractions of my life.

I've written about the band called 'Flyleaf' before, but I have been very encouraged by their music when I find myself not focusing on God throughout the day.  Lyrics like, "death has been swallowed up by life, this dead will rise; dying to death and rising to life; with mournful joy she finally lets out a cry" fill me with such hopefulness of Christ's victory.  I am thankful for musicians who are able to write such Biblical lyrics, and Flyleaf, in fact, uses unedited portions of Scripture, straight from the Word.  

May the God of all peace encourage your heart today.



Show Some L-O-V-E...

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope everyone is feeling the love today, and if you're not, then show some love to someone else.

This will be my third Valentine's Day with Jake... Let's recap...

2010- We had a choir performance.  Jake was sick, and couldn't come, so I made him a little V-day card and gave him some cans of soup before I left.

2011- Our first married Valentine's Day! I had to work an afternoon shift, so we went to a nice restaurant the day or two before.  Jake gave me some delicious chocolates from Reids'...so fancy!

2012- Trying to do Valentine's Day on a budget....we'll see how it goes :)

The best part about Valentine's Day is that you get to be reminded about why you love all the people in your life, and what love really means to you.  There are some folks out there who say that they focus on their friends and family on this day, rather than their significant other.  And that's fine for them.  I spent the whole of my growing-up years giving little cheesy V-day cards to my friends and family and eating a ton of chocolate and candy.  My nana always made little goodie bags for us (in fact, she does this for every holiday, and it's something we look forward to!)  It really always has been one of my favourite 'holidays'.

I'm still gonna write cheesy little texts to my friends, and call my family.  It's just that now I can be cheesy and romantic with my husband; eating candlelight dinners, going out to a fancy restaurant, devouring decadent chocolate, or writing little heart-shaped love notes.

Yesterday I wrote out some words to describe what love means to me, words like safety, commitment, sacrifice, constancy, presence, attention, warmth, comfort, and stability.  There is no other human relationship that I can see this more clearly displayed than my relationship with Jake, and that's what marriage is for: to reflect our relationship with Christ.

Of course there are 364/5 other days of the year that should not be ignored. But today I have a reason to celebrate the meaning of love, and not just the romantic stuff either.

I love you, Jake.  I will always be your Valentine.



Reading recipes...

I recently took out a few recipe books from the library.  I enjoy reading them like you would any other book.  I love how inspired I get when I flip through the pages, knowing that there are many more creations for me to explore.

My passion for cooking has become a delight to my heart.  Every time I tie my apron around my waist, open the cookbook to my recipe of choice, and smell the aromas starting to swirl in the air, I feel at peace.  Cooking, for me, should not be rushed.  Anytime I try to do it in a hurry, I get stressed out and freeze up, I snap at Jake, and my food is less than lackluster.  I need a good hour to prepare supper, even if I don't use the full amount of time.

Some might point out that by using a recipe book I am inhibiting my creative juices from flowing.  That is most certainly not the case.  For me to follow a recipe book is like disappearing into another world, it's like opening up a Pandora's box full of new combinations of spices, textures, and flavours.  I love the pictures, the words, the feel of the page.  The word 'fold' makes me feel euphoric, particularly because it's usually involved with egg whites, which means dessert.  (It also means something is going to be light and fluffy, like pancakes...that is also very exciting!)

I had been feeling in a rut with food, especially since beginning a new meal plan/diet at the start of January.  Vegetable this, chicken that. It seemed like there were only so many ways you could steam asparagus until you get sick of it, and eating salad with chicken and balsamic vinegar for days on end can become less than appealing.  Then I discover recipes like Tosca Reno's Moroccan Chicken and Green Lentils.  How can chicken fried with cinnamon, cumin and chili powder, and green lentils doused in an olive oil/white wine vinegar/chili powder/cumin sauce be anything but boring?

It can't.  And that is why recipe books make the kitchen come alive for me.



Learning to say "no"...

How do I say this? I've taken on too much.  Mentally, I'm shot.  Even though I have most mornings free, I don't always spend them productively, which leads to guilt trips and yada yada.  Now, I have less than a month left to finish my course, I'm behind on finishing my exam, and I've got so many things on the go.  As Jake said last night, my calendar doesn't look like one of someone who has yet to complete a course.

I've often asked myself in the past couple of weeks, Why is discipline so hard to learn? It's one of those things I've struggled with most of my life, and yet I have never felt it burning within me as much as I do now.  It disgusts me how much I waste the hours God has given me during the day, as I fill it up with things that aren't so necessary.  

On the bright side, I finished the first part of my exam this morning (in a flurry of procrastinative rushing that is completely my style).  I just took a break now to write this missive in hopes that someone will keep praying for me through this month.  I need your prayers and ask for them shamelessly!



Three Cups of Coffee...

I can't believe it's already Wednesday.  This week has been flying by, and I don't think I've really had a chance to catch it yet.  

Jake and I had a wonderful evening with some friends of ours that we haven't visited with in ages, and it was great to catch up.  I brought the meal, and they provided the coffee, wherein I had my 2nd and 3rd cup of hazelnut coffee for the day.  

I don't know what it is about the stuff, but I just can't seem to get enough.  Tea doesn't do it for me anymore.  Oh, please don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE tea, especially at night just before bed.  But coffee instantaneously fills me with warmth and a comfortable peace.  It's been good for my soul.  

I probably need to clarify that it's not the caffeine I crave, but rather the taste and richness of the blend.  I can go for days without coffee and not have any adverse side effects.  I can drink decaf and enjoy it just as much.  

But I've changed since the day I swore I would never let a drop of coffee touch my lips.  

That was before I'd tasted a latte.  That was before I'd been to India where the coffee is laced with buffalo milk, and incites an exotic and flavourful aftertaste.  That was before I discovered flavoured coffee beans.

That was before I decided to become a coffee connoisseur.  Before I dreamt of the day I could drink it black and enjoy it for its own attributes rather than its cream content.

Oh yes, that was before....and this is now.  

Bottoms up!