another week

There it goes again, flying by! Time, I mean. To think we’re near the end of January already!! I’ve only made it out skiing once, so here’s hoping for more snow, for February! And days that aren’t too cold, so we can do the Rideau Canal thing… before we’ve been here so long that we can no longer be considered tourists. ;) Although, I don’t think you have to be a tourist to skate/walk on the Canal; apparently many Ottawans commute to work that way. Probably the same sort of people who ride their bikes to work in the summer.

This past week zipped by not because there was anything unplanned (besides a bad cold for one of us), but there were a few non-routine things, like visits with family and relatives. Oh, and not only did I have some time to work on photos (finally), but I actually sat down and dusted every nook and cranny of my iron-wrought plant stand. Something that has never been done, since we got it umpteen years ago. Once it got plants on it of course, it was very difficult to get into it to dust. Now it’s ready for new plants!

Can you tell I don’t have much to say today? :P Shouldn’t be posting I guess, but oh well, now that I’ve started…

…I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there–all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing…” (Revelation 7:9-12)

Fill everyone with song, as we look up from our every-dayness, to You.

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Trivial pursuits

Yesterday as I was grocery shopping, I thought of so many little things that I’m fussy & bothered about. I feel like putting exclamation marks on all of them.

  • Peppermint tea that comes in extra packaging–each individual tea bag in an envelope that sometimes isn’t even recyclable, since it has foil inside.
  • No Name peppermint tea is the only one I’ve found (except for loose tea leaves) that isn’t extra-packaged, but for 2 weeks now they’ve been out of it at my Independant. Celestial Seasonings is also a good brand, but only the bulk food store in Toronto seemed to have it.
  • Coffee tins always have that lip around the inside-top, that makes it impossible to shake out that last bit of coffee.
  • Trends that leave out those who haven’t changed their tastes to the new thing, i.e. individual coffee-cup thingies–now the shelves are full of them, and there is less choice of the old kind of coffee.
  • One used to be able to find baggies that were NOT zippered! Doesn’t anyone else prefer to use a twist tie?
  • Cashiers who insist on putting the bag of lettuce, and sometimes even bread, in with the heavier things that will squish it.
  • Walmart has this neat, foldable naan bread, but they’re only in two weird flavours: all-grain and flax. Whatever happened to normal/regular?!
  • Corn tortillas (the soft ones) are only available at Metro, which would be a THIRD stop on grocery day.

I’m sure there were more things… But yesterday was also Small Group day. Last night was just “chalk full” of fascinating, exciting, beautiful stories (true ones), as well as heart-breaking ones at prayer time. Way to make the above list shrivel in importance! I’ve ended up talking about the trivial more, but perhaps the other is too… precious for words?

However, as I was thinking and praying about these things, and how some of us were close to tears last night as we listened to people share, I opened up the day’s devotional. The title was “Tears”.

Our tears are a gift from God. We should not swallow them; we should let them flow when it is time so that we remain vivid and healthy in body and soul.

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” — Psalm 126:6

Thank You for both joy and sorrow–use it all for the purpose of bringing others to Your love.

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thinking out loud

My current dilemma, is how to choose which missionary things to read/follow/do. There are so many choices, I’ve come to realize that one can’t do them all! My present list needs some weeding:

  • Follow the list of prayer suggestions that I compiled from my notes on Perspectives, the missionary course we took (this will be kept for sure, since it’s kind of like personal experience);
  • Joshua Project email, describing different unreached people groups and their needs, with prayer suggestions (you can choose how often to receive these);
  • Global Digest People of the Day email, along the same lines;
  • Email notifications from our church’s missionary Facebook page;
  • Website page with suggestions on how to pray for the persecuted church;
  • Daily email from Compassion Canada, with a verse to match a specific prayer request from any of their child centres around the world (this will also be kept, since Compassion is such an excellent charity, and poverty is such an important issue, and children are the future! Besides, the emails are short, and the verses are always so good.)
  • Our church also has the option to “Adopt a Missionary”;
  • Still keeping up to date and praying for a young missionary family from our old church in Toronto, who ministers in Pakistan;
  • There a few different blogs of missionaries that I’ve signed up for emailed updates (but missionaries are too busy missioning to make posts too often anyway…);
  • Although Compassion International has an excellent blog that they update regularly, though not too often (once a week?);
  • So does Focus on the Family;
  • Defend Dignity (a Christian organization advocating for good prostitution laws) updates their Facebook page quite often;

There’s probably more that I haven’t thought of. And now that I’ve listed them, I’m feeling like I don’t really want to give up ANY of them! The newer ones tend to get neglected, but they’re from our new church, so I don’t really want to stop them either… hmmmmm.

Well, right now I have to get ready for my own little “mission”: looking after a bunch of 4 year olds so that their moms can enjoy some fellowship and Bible study!

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Time to eat fat and watch hockey…

It’s high time we had a poem! Here’s one that doesn’t seem that cheery, but it is funny. And of course, lots of us can relate to the part about the cat! Also, the author is Canadian… have you heard of Margaret Atwood? ;)

February

By Margaret Atwood

Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.

 

I pray that any who are feeling depressed during these winter days, will find something to cuddle, and something to laugh at.Now to switch subject entirely, this morning’s verses about serving:

“Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.” (Ephesians 6:7-8)

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Service is joy

The cat is stretched out on her matt right in front of the fireplace. Good place to be on a minus 27 degrees Celsius morning!

Besides the unplanned things last week (the Corner Gas movie-fiasco), and the out-of-routine things (doctor appointment, trip to Canadian Tire), I managed to almost finish putting away Christmas!

  • The outdoor lights; except the white ones, which can stay on all winter. Except that the indoor ones all fell down, because of damp window frames.
  • The kitchen stuff–cookies tins, table cloths, etc.–which are always among the last to be put away, since a lot of it has to be washed first.
  • Last night we even ate up our last meat pie, which is mostly just a Christmas thing around here, since it’s high in calories. And mmmmmm!!!! My sister-in-law makes SUCH delicious meat pies!! (There’s still lots of turkey left though.)
  • Yesterday I finally got around to downloading ALL the remaining Christmas photos/movies from my camera and phone. That’s the “almost” part from the statement above, because they still have to be fixed with borders and collages. Then I’ll sort them next year.

Oh, and I guess the other Christmas thing we’re finishing up today, is my parents’ gift from us: murder mystery dinner theatre. See, Toronto doesn’t have ALL the culture! :)

And now here’s the real reason I decided to post today, a quote stolen from a facebook friend, which is so perfect for my One Word this year, “serve”.

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

I pray that those who are not experiencing service as joy, will ask You what it is you really want of them.

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Corner Gas movie–the long, sad story

We hadn’t planned any surprise gifts this Christmas, which didn’t really bother me; but when I saw the Corner Gas movie there, I just couldn’t resist getting it. Sam had just told me that he wouldn’t be seeing it for awhile, since it had just come out and wouldn’t be available on DVD for quite some time yet, he thought. Wouldn’t he be surprised!

Everyone knows that Sam loves Corner Gas. I repeat: everyone knows… When I overheard him talking to his friend, who had managed to record the whole thing for him, I exclaimed “Shoot!” So then Sam knew exactly what I’d found for him. No more surprise, oh well.

That was just the first thing.

After Christmas, as Sam was talking to his friend in Toronto, where he was soon headed for a visit for New Year’s, he told him what he got for Christmas. In the background, he heard someone exclaim “OOOPS!!” That person quickly returned their DVD of the Corner Gas movie, to get something else for Sam.

Several days ago, it was time to sit down and watch the movie together. The disk drive didn’t work. So we waited a few days, so that we could buy a usb DVD drive. Again, we sat down and got ready to enjoy the movie. It wouldn’t work. Take it out, put back in, etc. Still wouldn’t work.

“Are you sure this isn’t a Blue Ray disc?” Look all over the package… finally find a tiny logo that says Blue Ray. So! Check online, discover a fairly cheap blue ray disc player from Costco. Order it, wait another couple of days before we could watch the movie.

The new disc player arrived a lot sooner than we thought it would. So last night, we hooked it up and for the third time, got ready to watch the movie. There was no description (descriptive video for the visually impaired). We fiddled and searched, looking for settings to get the description. Corner Gas is always described! And if you know anything about the show, you know it needs it, with all the flashbacks, constant scene changes, and often non-speaking action scenes.

Sam looked it up on the Ottawa library website, and found the Corner Gas movie available (already!) on either DVD or blue ray. The DVD is described, the blue ray is not.

So! He has the movie on order from the library. 854 holds.

Poor Sam! I bet this is one surprise he wishes I’d never started!

Anyway, we tested some Season 4 episodes (regular DVD) on our new blue ray disc player, so we know the description works fine. And it comforted us to finally watch some Corner Gas, at least! :S

“The people I love, I call to account–prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best… Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table…” (Revelation 3:19-21)

Thank you for comedy and a sense of humour, even comedy that is personally lived out!

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Take a deep breath!

Really, the whole month of January could be used to review the previous year. Did you discover anything new last year? I sure did!

  • New dishwasher soap–those cubes that have rinse agent included; it works SO much better, even those dishes that had been smoky for awhile, come clean after a few washes!
  • Leave-in conditioner, for your hair.
  • Corn pasta–mmmmm, so good!! And pretty well the same price as regular.
  • Basmati rice: just discovered this recently, because of the news about the other rice being full of arsnic; plus, apparently brown rice tears up your insides–it happened to be on Sam’s “intolerant” list too. (Isn’t it great when you discover that something you didn’t like that much anyway, is not as good for you as they’d thought?) Basmati, which has the least arsnic (if any), is very light-tasting, cooks up quicker, AND it’s delicious!
  • Pulled Chicken–another mmmmm!! And so easy to make for a crowd!
  • Naan bread; no-sugar bread (which tastes exactly the same), hmmmm… sure was a lot of food discoveries last year!
  • Downtown Abby… although, so far we finished up to where one of the main guys die, so I’m not sure I want to continue…

I’m sure there were lots more, I’ll have to come back and add them when I think of them. ;)

Since this morning’s verses happen to go with my One Word… (a rebuke for the church at Sardis)–

“I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you’re dead, stone-dead. Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there’s life in you yet. But I wouldn’t know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God’s work has been completed. Your condition is desparate…” (Revelation 3:1-2)

Isn’t it interesting that they could be busy and have the appearance of “vigor”, but still be so dead? Everything you do could be good, but the point is, you need to check with the Boss to see if it is the right thing at this time. If we lose our connection with him, our service loses its life. Oh, and don’t forget the deep breath. ;)

Help us to understand, Lord.

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even if it costs you

Yesterday’s sermon was about the Unstoppable Gospel (Pastor Jay is working his way through Acts, and we’re on Chapter 9), but what I got out of it came with his highlight right at the end. And it fits right in with my One Word, “serve” (as many things will, this year).

It was a small, almost unnoticeable point about Peter, how he stayed for quite awhile with Simon the tanner. You see, tanners had such a stinky trade, that even women were allowed to divorce them if they couldn’t bear it (this is also according to Mrs. G’s research). They were near the bottom of society. But, Peter stayed there quite awhile!

Also, previously in the story, there was Tabitha; who did so much service for the poor/widows–even though she was young (“Gazelle”). So, my sermon words for this week are: true Mission (true religion) means copying God’s Mercy-love: (and mercy means) loving the “unlovable”.

One more thing that goes right along with all that: my brother’s “mission” with his Good Guys Tri (an athletic group that does fund-raisers for those in need) several days ago, which was a day spent handing out warm hats and mitts etc., to the homeless/needy in downtown Ottawa. He wrote about it for their newsletter, “A View From the Streets”. Talk about acting on your values!

“Don’t quit, even if it costs you your life. Stay there believing. I have a Life-Crown sized and ready for you.” (Revelations 2:10)

Stir up our faith Lord, so that we can know without a doubt that this life is not all there is. Help us to remember that in ourselves we cannot do all the good that needs to be done, that we need to rely on Your help.

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84 Blessings, counted.

No, I’m not going to list ALL of the blessings (written on little strips of paper) from my blessing jar for you. Some of them were “small” things, even though they meant a lot to me at the time. That’s what I find difficult about filling up a “blessing jar”–there are so, so many that you could really add, it’s hard to draw the line between everyday sort of blessings, and others.

Of course, some were very easy to pick out as “huge”, unusual blessings; but both kinds were fun to read over! I just have to make some kind of summary of them…

January had the most, with 17, probably because of the novelty of doing this. But a lot of those involved encouragement from friends, especially on Facebook. The other months had usually anywhere from 7 to 9 blessings, with a couple of the months having only 4 and 5 (probably the busy months).

I’m going to pick out a “few” so here goes: this is going to be a long post. You have my permission to skim. ;) I noticed some of them seem to be off by a day, when I compare with facebook posts. Oh well.

JANUARY:

  • 01–Rej & Sam played cards with me, and Sam finished several hands ahead! (Frustration… you’ll see how many times card games were in my blessings, lol!)
  • 23–enjoyed long game of Frustration with Mom and Dad and Sam; then the Girls WON at Foot (another card game), catching them with their feet, no Wild Pile, and NO canastas!!

FEBRUARY:

  • 01–lovely, warm shovelling in the evening
  • 09–Emily & David’s song (my cousin’s children, who recorded a song about trusting God, which I heard at a time when I really needed it: I was very deeply affected)
  • 18–low FODMAPS (a discovery diet)—Sam wants to try it!! (And this is why I should have trusted God instead of worrying! ;) )

MARCH:

  • 11–Sam’s first good day since December (thanks to low FODMAPS)
  • 17–PERFECT day for Sam!! (first in MONTHS)

APRIL: (There were only 4 for April, but just look at those 4!)

  • 02–family getting excited that we might move (So, it was just at the end of March that we began to think about moving.)
  • 05–machines (bitcoin) arrived 2 days early (This has to do with our business, which is really what got “the ball rolling” for our thinking about moving.)
  • 09–signed papers to sell our home     !!!!
  • 29–SOLD!! (What a whirlwind 20 days!!!)

MAY was pretty important too, even though it had only TWO blessings:

  • 05–BOUGHT our new home! (I believe this is also the day that we discovered I was pregnant, 27 years ago, and the day Rej’s parents were married… much before of course :P)
  • 26–35 years together!! (Rej & I ;) )

The exciting one for JUNE: 30th–sale of TO home COMPLETED!! (By this time we were “homeless”/living in our trailer at Mom & Dad’s when we got the news. It had NOT been a given; friends of ours who were selling around the same time, had their first offer that they accepted fall through.)

In JULY, there were THREE blessings for one day!! On the 7th–

  • found the PERFECT spot for my chair (This was when I first felt “at home”. We moved in on the 3rd, so it was only 4 days later… I thought it was weeks! :D )
  • decided/confirmed that our church will be The Met
  • enjoying the hot tub ALREADY! (OH my, I’ll never forget the wonderful feeling of this on those sore muscles, after the hard work of unpacking every day!)

A main theme for AUGUST, seems to be visits to our new home (and some to others):

  • 02–for Mom’s 75th birthday party (not here), the storm passed over
  • 04–finished unpacking in ONE MONTH!! (Wow! NEVER thought that would happen!!)
  • 08–first time able to just do nothing but relax outside for the afternoon (Actually, there was a similar “blessing” back in January, without the “outside” part.)
  • 12–Joy & Richard here to visit; supper turned out well
  • 14–blessing of FAMILY when your meal goes all wrong (LOL, 2 opposites here!)
  • 23–New Home celebration party (Mom & Dad; Tsangs… and lots of well wishes from others)
  • 31–bright, double rainbow that lasted for awhile!

SEPTEMBER: These two things are a sign of how wonderful it is to live near family and old friends.

  • 24–COFFEE with Glenda!! (My best friend from high school.)
  • 26–Mom & Dad dropped in for a FEW minutes!! (we live THAT close!)

OCTOBER:

  • 06–got to play cards with Sam and Dave (Sam’s friend visiting from Toronto)
  • 11–able to eat Thanksgiving dinner OUTSIDE again (at Mom & Dad’s)
  • 26–finally found people we know at church on Sunday (that took a few months!!)

NOVEMBER:

  • 27–First Small Group at OUR house
  • 28–sunlight hits the Christmas Tree!

DECEMBER: you know it’s gotta end with–

  • 02–*I* won at Frustration!       :D

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serve work

One of the things I want to do this year, is keep track of unplanned things. This week there were lots of things that were out of routine, but none of those were unplanned.

Most of it was taking down Christmas decorations, which was a lot of work! Probably the reason I felt exhausted was that I also did good, 30-min.-type of workouts each day, which I’m not so used to. Yesterday we had our first dental work–pain free! Then I went cross-country skiing, YAY!! That was my easiest workout of the week, and such a lovely, sunny day for it.

The only unplanned things, were way back last Sunday, and there were two of them:

  • A neighbour from across and down, came over to help us finish shovelling. He said he’s from Newfoundland, where he had a huge driveway to shovel. So that was nice, to meet another neighbour. He’s also retired, and also moved to be near family (his kids), and also moved here just last July!
  • A lady from the church called, to talk about helping with the kids on Wednesday mornings, during the ladies’ meetings (which I’d volunteered for). So, FINALLY, I will be starting back with KIDS next week, woohoo!!! It’s a nice, easy just-helping job to start with, and there are about 11-14 4-yr. olds, imagine! :)

Speaking of serving, here’s a post from Compassion, yesterday’s devotion. Since that’s my word for this year.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. …” (Colossians 3:23)

Lord, I pray for healing for those suffering from colds and other physical ailments. May each one have a sense of Your care, even for seemingly small things. And guide us as we seek to serve you this week.

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