Bright and Early...

Well, it's certainly been a long time since I've seen you from this side of the morning.  Four-thirty is an ungodly hour to wake, especially to be alert for teaching, but here I am.  You can tell it's a holiday tomorrow- I've already had 3 absentees.  I have a feeling they're getting their drink on, while I'm the annoying teacher, reminding them that they have English to learn.

On the plus side, I have tonight and tomorrow morning off.  It's been a long time since I haven't had to work an evening during the week, so I'm looking forward to this small reprieve.

I now have 38 students in total.  I've been praying for God to provide, since I get paid per student per lesson.  Let me tell you, meeting eleven new students in a row and introducing myself to them when they might not even care can be interesting, but that's not even my favourite part.  I love the next lesson, the day after, when we're no longer strangers and I can ask about how their day is going and how was the movie last night?. I think there is something about being a teacher that reaches out to my inner celebrity, if that is even a thing.  I have always loved the feeling of walking into a classroom and knowing that my students are excited to see me and to learn what I have prepared for the day.  It does sound a little bit narcissistic, I know, but it helps to keep my energy up when I know my students have high expectations for me.

Jake told me last night that he was happy we have an office, since now I leave my work in the office.  But sometimes, I can't help talking about work all the time.  It's such a fascinating job, and I have incredible students, and I couldn't have asked for a better situation than this.  It's amazing what happens when God provides-He fulfills our lives in ways we could never have imagined.



Afternoon Ramblings...

And here I thought the stress would stay far away once we finished the move.  

Silly me.

Last night after work I came downstairs to find all the boxes still there in the kitchen, unpacked, I couldn't find my knife, and I just wanted roasted potatoes...*sigh*.  Rough life, eh?

I'm learning to tell myself--multiple times a day, if need be!--that it will all get unpacked in time, and to give myself a little bit of breathing room in the meantime.

I went for my first run this afternoon, and listened to the sounds of the cars on the road as I made my way along.  I found a lovely little trail that runs along the hydro cut, and I plan to explore a little further later this week.  

I love having an office.  It's so wonderful having the space to do my work and not bothering anyone with teaching.  

I also love chickpea cookies.  Yeah, don't knock 'em til you've tried 'em!



The Aftermove...

I'm sitting in our new bedroom, feeling the cool breeze through the window and the warmth emanating from my heart.

We're home.  I can hardly believe it's true, because after months of planning and a week of stress, I can finally say I have no stress! At least, for the moment, anyways.

I was just sitting out on the front porch (yes, our front porch!) drinking my coffee and reading Philippians, and I felt so blessed.  Already our neighbours have proved to be wonderful, kind people, and made us feel so welcome during the move.

Most people from our immediate families helped, including some friends, and we enjoyed a hearty chili lunch after everyone's hard work.  It was worth the wait!

I can't wait to show some pictures, but for now, we're happy, healthy, and excited to scope out our neighbourhood later.

Have a blessed Sunday.



The Song of the Morning...

I am going to miss this-my Hespeler.  Jake and I have only ever lived in this area of Cambridge since we started out at university 8 years ago, respectively.  Walking the trails, discovering new ones, and spotting turtles in the Speed River became part of our relationship.

Now that we're moving, I don't know what I will do without this beautiful tranquility. It's hard to imagine any other place on earth that feels as wondrously God-touched as this-a piece of heaven right in the midst of the city.  I have often come to this particular trail to walk/run off stress, to relax with Jake on a sunny afternoon, and to feel the closeness of my Creator.

So I decided to snap some pictures on my last run, as the cold sapped all the moisture from my skin and the sun warmed my face.

This is our version of 'swan' lake...do you see them?

As I wrapped up my run, I would have enjoyed shedding some tears to commiserate with my emotions, but my apathetic pregnancy hormones won't let me cry on command-just at the most inopportune moment ever.

I am looking forward to finding the peaceful places to walk and run near our new place, and, since God is faithful in the small things, I have no doubt that He will provide!



Packing, Packing, and More...

We tried to pace ourselves this week, but I'm afraid in our efforts to go slowly it feels like we still have quite a bit to pack for our move on Saturday.  In one day. That's tomorrow. Oy.

So, Jake treated me to an ice cream cone tonight, and I'm thankful for his efforts to alleviate my stress.  I just have to keep reminding myself that in two nights I will be asleep in my new home, and I can't wait!



Those Small Reminders...

I had a sore back/hip that started last Thursday night and lasted all the way to Monday morning.  I was unconcerned-thinking it was the chair that I had been sitting in to teach lessons-until I went to my OB check-up.  The nurse took one look at me limping and said, 'Oh, I'll bet that's sciatica.  Usually when a pregnant woman gets it, it lasts for the whole pregnancy.'

Really? Could she have said anything less discouraging?

I came home from the appointment and looked up sciatica online, noting that I was lacking many of the symptoms, and decided that if it didn't get better by Monday, I would go to my chiropractor.  I absolutely hate not having full range of motion, and I was frustrated and embarrassed that even a 20 minute walk with Jake was more than I could handle.  However, God answered my prayers and I was finally able to go for a 30-minute run along a new trail this morning.

My mom-at least I think it was her!- always said that God lets us experience things like that to remind us to slow down and remember who is the giver of life.

I'm grateful for the reminder, and even more thankful for the weather that greeted my week-long running sabbatical.



Relearning Forgiveness...

Isn't God's forgiveness oh so wonderful?

Jake and I have recently been trying to do better at implementing family devotions alongside our own personal Jesus time every day.  We're working through a devotional book called Walk as He Walked, and it was given to us by TEAM just before we left for Brazil.  

It's amazing how simple little truths are the keys that unlock so much guilt and anger, frustration and bitterness.  Being reminded of God's forgiveness yesterday was the breath of fresh air that I needed.  Here are some of the verses we looked at:

Psalm 103:12 "as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us."ESV

Isaiah 38:17 "Behold, it was for my welfare
    that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
    from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
    behind your back."ESV

Micah 7:19 "He will again have compassion on us;
    he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our[a] sins
    into the depths of the sea."ESV

Isaiah 43:25 “I, I am he
    who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
    and I will not remember your sins."ESV

Hebrews 10:17-18 "then he adds,
     'I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.
'Where there is forgiveness of these, 
     there is no longer any offering for sin."ESV

I love the pictures that many of these verses conjure in my mind: God casting all my sins into the depths of the sea, treading them under his feet.  Jesus forgave my sins completely and totally when He nailed them to the cross, when He became Lord and Saviour of my life. 


Every day I need to continually confess and repent of the sins that plague my life, and ask Him to take them away, 'as far as the East is from the West'.  Let me repeat that.

Confession and repentance are essential for God's forgiveness.

God loves a humble and contrite heart, so we must be like clay in His hands, able to be molded into more of His likeness.

Truly a thing of beauty.



And It's Joy and Gratitude Again...

Does anyone else get paralyzed by the cold?  I often have this circulatory problem-not sure if it is medical or in my head- and I can't do anything but focus on how frigid my extremities feel at the moment.  It doesn't matter that there are dirty dishes piled up on the counter, the floor is in a desperate need of vacuuming, or the bathroom tub has a blossoming relationship with grime.  My usual response to this bone-numbing cold is to sit on the couch, wrapped up in my favourite green blanket with a book, willing my feet to warm up while reading lines of excellent story-telling.

Hasn't anyone ever told you that the best way to warm up is to get moving?

My brain. Every day.  But until I finally kick my butt into gear and plunge my hands into sudsy, near-scalding dishwater, I remain huddled in my igloo of green.

{Lately, Jake has given me the logical (?) explanation that the baby is stealing all my warmth, but from all that I've heard from other pregnant ladies, it should be more than opposite.  And yet, I ask you, is anything logical when it comes to pregnancy?}

I often question my attitude when I feel this cold.  I must admit that I'm a bit of a complainer. It seemed to have gotten worse since Jake and I got married, maybe because I have a full time audience.  I know, it sounds terrible, and I want to change-no, I need to change-fast.  We were talking about it the other day, and he reminded me that a complaining spirit is usually due to a lack of gratitude.  I need to be thankful to the Lord more often during the good times, so that when I am going through something particularly difficult, I'm not caught in a gratitude deficit.

I was watching a video in preparation for a lesson, and the speaker suggested that humans are hardwired to be optimists.  I disagree, at least in my case.  I'm known to dwell on the negative, the fearful, the depressing, to the extent that I can't seem to get released from it.  The enemy thinks he has a very strong foothold in my thought processes, and most of the time he does.  It's a dangerous place to be in for very long, and the only thing to do is to cling to the promises of Jesus in His Word, to be obedient to Him alone, and to CHOOSE JOY.

I'm not suggesting that every time I'm numb with cold it's because I have the wrong heart attitude, but one of the aspects that often accompanies those mornings when I'm wrapped up in the blanket is guilt, and THAT is a problem.  I feel guilty because I'm not accomplishing, I'm not enough, I'm lazy, and those thoughts can quickly turn into blame-shifting complaints. If it weren't for this bloody cold...If Jake hadn't turned the heater off last night...If this pregnancy wasn't making me so tired this morning...bla bla bla.

I want to make joy the theme of my life.  I want to infuse my household with a thankful spirit, to teach my children what it means to laugh and be grateful.  I want to be reminded  by Jake every day that I don't have it so bad, and even when it really is that bad, to know that God has given me extra grace, extra bone-deep joy, to make it through.

So when I'm cold, do I really have it that bad?  Is the sun not shining outside?  Are my legs and hands unusable?  Do I have a chronic disease?

The answer is no.  I just need to get up and praise God for providing the food that created those aforementioned messy dishes in the first place.

Sometimes you do need those snuggled up, lazy, book-reading, coffee-drinking kind of mornings.  If that's the case, you'll know, and you won't be feeling guilty or whiny.  You'll be feeling grateful and indulgent, so let the dishes wait!




Just Another Sunday...

I love Sundays afternoons. They're perfect for napping and catching up on that book you've been meaning to read all week.  One of my only complaints is that they go by too fast.  Now that my work week begins on Sundays at 5pm to accommodate my Korean students who are waking up on Monday at 6am, I feel a teensy bit ripped off.  However, I'm learning to appreciate the slow way in which the evening rolls around, and how I don't feel sad or lazy because I have something to do.  I can't feel guilty for how I spend my Sunday evenings anymore because I'm working and being productive.

Today we had an impromptu lunch date with some friends, and then I decided to take a nap.  Before I went to sleep, however, I finished this book:

I highly recommend it to anyone who loves intrigue, mystery, pre-World War II, and that special way that authors of English literature write.  This is the best book I have read in a long time, and I have fallen in love with Kate Morton all over again.  I'm sure I mentioned the other one of hers that I have read, The House at Riverton, but The Secret Keeper completely raised the standard.

I'm looking forward to another week, which includes packing for our move next Saturday and hopefully more students to teach!



Going for the BIG One...

Over the years I've had plenty of time to observe and remark on the various parenting styles out there.  About to become a mother myself, I've been reflecting on the way my parents raised me, and have clung to many of the values they implemented in my life while looking to remodel other aspects to fit the kind of parents Jake and I want to be.  That's how it goes, right? You learn and grow from others who have been doing it long before you.

I don't know why, but parenting seems even more daunting than marriage.  Becoming one with another person seemed to come so naturally, to flow into the trajectory of my life. And yet, this, this absolutely terrifying journey we're on now is both exhilarating and humbling.  Raising a little life, protecting it and teaching it is a thousand times more different than getting married to a fully capable, fully grown human being.  This little person needs to learn about Jesus, and needs to learn how to discern right from wrong, who to trust and who to protect him/herself from.  And all of that, is my job. Our job.  It seems so right that God's plan from the start was for children to have both a mother and a father, since most of the time I don't feel like I have enough pluck to do this whole motherhood thing!

This waiting period, as the baby grows and we weigh out names, has been fun.  Most days I don't even feel pregnant.  Every day Jake asks me, "How's baby?" and I say, "Baby's good", because that is as good as I can guess at this point.  We look in the mirror, and up until last week I was convinced my belly hadn't grown a centimeter since the 6 week mark.  It's more noticeable now in the evening, but then I blame it on the pasta we had for lunch.  

Today we're going for the BIG ultrasound-I'm 18 weeks tomorrow- and we're not going to find out the sex.  I love surprises too much to ruin it now!  But even last night we were thinking, what are we going to do that moment the nurse says, "So, do you want to find out what you're having?" I will never yield!  



On Teaching...

So I'm finishing my third week of teaching. It's pretty awesome.  I mean, it's just like any job-there are days when I can't seem to muster up the energy to start, but pretty soon the students make it all worth it.

I've started tweeting about all the fun and random comments from students.  You can find a sample here. I've enjoyed getting to know more about Korean culture, even more than I've learned from teaching Korean students for the past three summers here in Canada.

You may remember from a previous post that I struggle with being in the wrong, especially as a teacher (I'm sure that will also translate into parenthood, but let's save that speculation for a few more months at least!)  I also struggle with constructive criticism, and one of my students  got to me this weekwhen he asked if we could do things differently during our lessons.  I'm still so new at this job, and I know it's God alone who allowed me to get a few great compliments and encouragements from students early on.  Nevertheless, his comment struck me deep, and I had to wrestle with both my pride and low self-esteem for a few hours.

In hindsight, his comment has actually challenged and spurned me into being a better teacher.  I've been searching the Internet and garnishing ideas for how to create astounding lessons for my students.  I'm enjoying the TED website the most, I think, and hope to use some of their videos to inspire great discussions.



In other news, I know, I know, I've gone completely off the map in regards to my Groceries on $50 blogs.  I apologize for those of you who have been waiting to see how week 4 went.  I am hoping to do a blog on that soon.  Thanks for your patience!


And God is Still Bigger...

On Tuesday there were two bombs at the Boston Marathon, killing three people: one, a local waitress, an 8-year-old boy, and a Chinese university student.  As I was reading their stories this morning, I was reminded again of just how quickly death can come, and how God is truly the giver and the taker of life.  I mean, none of those people would have gone that day had they known what was to transpire, and yet, they were there.  Their lives, now memories on Facebook and in pictures, are reminders that life is but a vapour on this earth.  

Another facet of truth springs to mind, knowing that there isn't really much that I can do to avoid death.  Even if I eat healthy, exercise, and pay a dentist to fill my cavities, I am not the One who holds my life in His hands.  God's timing is perfect, even if we don't see it now.  I am amazed at the brevity of that thought.

Let it sink in for a while. 

I am reminded of chapters 38 and 39 of the book of Job.  To me, these chapters reveal so much about our great God.  Look at 38:16-18:
“Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea    or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you?    Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?    Tell me, if you know all this."
or 38:22-24:
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow    or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble,    for days of war and battle? What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,    or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?"
These are things I cannot comprehend. 

One thing I do know-
          God is bigger than the fear those two bombs instilled, and yet, in my human finiteness, I am deeply saddened that a family lost their little boy who was simply waiting for his father to come through the finish line.

Lord have mercy.



Pet Peeves...

I'll be honest. I have a lot of them.  And some of them creep up on me without my knowing, screaming into my brain with the velocity of a freight train and daring me to react.  Which I do.

Every single time.

Yesterday Jake said to me- "You have a lot of 'banes of existence'"- I guess I say that a lot.  Paper is one of them- the bills that come in the mail without permission, the donation requests, the things to file away.  I can't remember the rest of my banes, but they'll be there right when I need just one more thing to complain about.

Ah. There it is. Now we're getting somewhere.  Isn't the pet peeve just a clever way of masking complaints?

Ugh, I hate it when he cracks his knuckles.
Grrr, I wish she'd stop clicking that pen!
Seriously, why do people have to park crookedly?

Glorified complaining, my friends, that's what it is.  As if there isn't enough joy-sucking discontent on the earth already, we love to find those nit-picky, irritating little things and call them out.  It's so easy to do on Facebook.  I've caught myself bashing someone's all-too-frequent-foodie-picture posts or feeling annoyed when people talk about their kids too often, or what's the deal with this article and why should we care how you feel about the price of tea in China?

You get the idea.  It's all there, wrapped up under the guise of a pretty little pet peeve, when really there's a bigger monster hiding under the bed.  I am amazed at how quickly the provocation of a pet peeve gives way to anger, once the complaining is over and your blood pressure starts to rise.

I've been convicted about this, and have been asking God to wean the complaining spirit out of me.  I've been reminded to choose joy lately, and need to remember that God's joy is what I must claim, rather than silly grievances of the mundane.



Groceries on $50: Part 3

So I would like to avoid this blog altogether, but since I am being accountable for my expenditures I will go ahead and type out the despicable total from the week's grocery shop: $66.50
There, now that's out in the open.  I have no idea what  happened.  The recipes aren't expensive, and I even had many of the ingredients at home.  I'll blame it on the sale-priced chicken that I bought for next week's meals and the cold weather.

Signature Fonts

Tuesday-Red Kidney Bean Curry (Ramjah) with Jasmine rice
Wednesday- Creamy Tomato Mushroom Pasta with chicken
Saturday- Roasted Cauliflower Garlic Soup (using leftover broccoli stems in place of celery) with homemade bread

Snacks-Hummus and vegetables

Grocery List:
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Dried chickpeas
  • Canned diced tomatoes x2
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tahini
  • Carbonated water
  • Russet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Pears
  • Green peppers
  • Raisin bran cereal
  • Chicken thighs
  • Red peppers
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Baby spinach
  • Cauliflower
  • Iceberg Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Bananas
  • Almond milk
  • Eggs
  • Unsweetened coconut
  • Coffee
  • Vegetable bouillon cubes
As you can see, there really isn't anything outstanding in the list, and I even went through the flyer to find deals beforehand.  I am completely stumped as to the increase in cost this week.

I'm very excited for hummus and the pasta dish this week.  Last week's favourite, for me, anyways, was the Olive Oil pasta with Walnuts, Lentils, and Red Peppers.  It was so creamy and satisfied my need for much pasta.

Happy cooking, and bon appetit!