Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moving.....

Hello Readers!
There is a new post up today,  but you won't find it here! That is because my blog has moved. So check it out and please update your bookmarks/feedburner/blog reader to follow

See you over there :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Summer Begins

This week has been filled with fun and exciting, non-blogging activities! We've been eating well, playing board games, going on adventures downtown and soaking up sun. Also, Esther has been working on a new site to host my blog, so I'm looking forward to hopefully making that transition soon and getting off blogspot :)

Next weekend Matt and I are looking forward to throwing a party to celebrate paying off our student line of credit! (No, we won't be going back into debt over this party.) On our honeymoon in August  2009 we put $500 on it to bring the balance down to $18 400. Crazy I know - and now it's gone! Over a year ago when we were dreaming about ever having this loan paid off, we decided that when it happened we would take one month's payment and put it toward a party to celebrate with our friends! Then we will get back to paying off our government student loans like the responsible adults we pretend to be :)

While I'm posting pictures, some of you may be happy to know that back in April I did finish my Lent reading plan! I was one day late, finishing on Easter Sunday, but even that feels like such a huge accomplishment, and I'm really glad I made the time for this discipline because I got so much out of reading the Bible cover to cover (although not straight through).
Okay, that's it for now! We are alive and well and loving life, and I hope the same is true for you <3

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

I was really impressed with how my church handled Mother's Day this year - it's easy for the women in a congregation to be divided into mothers and non-mothers, but this can be really hurtful to women who may be struggling with infertility or who have lost pregnancies, those who deeply desire to be mothers but aren't yet, and those who are mothers unbeknownst to others and therefore go uncelebrated. It can also be awkward as a woman of child-bearing age if the ushers aren't sure whether they should offer you a flower (or whatever the token is) or not. And if there is pain under the surface, this confusion can bring it right out in the open.

The flip side of this recognition of mothers only, is the celebrate-all-women approach, which focuses on the mothering influence that many women have and the fact that emotional and spiritual nurturing are just as valuable as breastfeeding and diaper changing and homework nagging (I mean helping...), which is true! No woman is left out or left behind, which is nice, but I always feel a bit awkward being included in whatever gesture is made because being a mom is a big deal, and I haven't done anything to be celebrated as one.

Today I experienced a beautiful middle ground: flowers for all the women, to celebrate the mothers, the priest explained, "and if you aren't a mother, you had a mother, so take a flower in her honour."

I realize that if Mother's Day is a difficult holiday, there is no perfect phrase or gift or gesture that will make the pain go away, but I was touched by the simplicity and sincerity of this approach. I don't feel weird about having taken a flower even though I am not a mother, and as this day passes with my own mom thousands of miles away, I can enjoy this sweet reminder of the beauty and love she has allowed me to take for granted in this life.

I love you Mom! Happy Mother's Day :)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Car

I didn't think anything much of the email from Matt that popped up on my screen at work today: the subject was Car, and I hoped that ours was still running. I was fairly sure I hadn't brought the keys to work (again).

It turns out our car was broken into last night. We lost CDs, some fishing gear, a GPS, and our blue disco party cigarette lighter. Also, our hood was smashed (maybe in frustration that our crappy-looking car was actually as dumb of a car to rob as it looked?). Overall, it could have been worse though - there have been times we left things in the car over night that we shouldn't have, given our building's iffy reputation.

Funny story: a couple months before we got our car, some kids went through the parking garage smashing windows and ripping out stereos and taking whatever looked interesting. They were caught on surveillance cameras going into the garage, and they got caught because when the police showed the superintendent the video, the superintendent recognized them from our building. So busted.

Anyways, back to our car. At this point in processing my surprise and feeling somewhat violated, I am most of all relieved. Nothing that was taken is irreplaceable. This is the second time Matt has had a nagging feeling to go back for valuables he left in the car and it ended up being robbed, so we thank God for that. Also, it's a fresh reminder that our car is not secure, and neither is the underground parking, so going forward we will stay vigilant about what we leave in there. It's also a good reminder that what matters the most to us can't be stolen away.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Learning to Trust


I’m hoping this post will be part one of a series on Simple Spirituality. But I don’t have the other posts written yet, so that is a gamble. It would be so nice if it happens though! One step at a time :)

I don’t know how I learned to fear God – not the reverent fear, but the always-unsettled fear, the everything-good-could-be-taken-away-in-a-second fear, that “God can use all things for good” was a threat, not a promise – but somewhere along the way, I did. And then somewhere along the way, I had to unlearn that fear and put trust in its place, and God is still helping me to do that daily, monthly, on and on. Because he CAN use all things for good, this I now believe. But that doesn’t mean he does bad things just to show off all the good he can bring from them. Which is what I used to be afraid was true.

I think the seeds of distrust were planted very innocently when I was a little girl who grew up in church, hearing testimony from missionaries and people who had been converted to Christianity from crazy situations. A lot of those stories involved God using bad things for good, and somehow it occurred to me that God might do something horrible to me so that I would have an awesome testimony. By horrible, I mean wipe out my family in a car crash so that I could learn (and testify!) that all I need is God. Shudder.

I also remember some well-meant teasing along the lines of “never say never to God, because sometimes that’s just what he gives you!” Because I hate hate hate bugs, and wouldn’t it be hilarious if God sent me to Africa as a missionary? Incidentally, I did a semester in Brazil, where I was properly horrified by cockroaches and thereby desensitized enough to live in our current apartment when it was infested with Canadian cockroaches. Also, back in the day, my Mom thought she’d never marry my Dad, and then she did, and here I am! So that backfired “never” worked out pretty well for me.  But again, this seed was planted in my mind that God would give me what I didn’t want, that he was a prankster in the sky who I had to trust or else he’d make things even worse.

Ironically, I think the experience that has given me sturdiest reasons to trust God sounds exactly like the testimonies that terrorized my imagination for so many years: I got cancer. I was getting out of the shower one day when I was 14 and noticed a lump in my neck, and by the time a year passed, I’d had three surgeries and radiation treatment, and it was all over.  The whole thing is so surreal in my memory, but I know that God brought me and my family through it. Any time I got scared, I knew I could cry to God about it; every time I got put out so more pieces of me could be cut out, I knew that if I didn’t wake up on Earth, at least I’d wake up in Heaven. Honestly, the whole thing was a lot harder on my family than it was on me, and the label of “survivor” probably belongs more appropriately on my parents for watching me go through it than on me for simply not dying.

If getting cancer had any negative effect on my faith, it came a year or so after my clean bill of health, when I decided I was tired of needing to be grateful just to be alive. I decided I’d rather try to be a cool kid than a good Christian, which failed pretty badly, and that story is my real testimony of why I put my faith in Jesus.

Since then, God has given me so many outrageous reasons to trust him! And still I struggle. Each new step of faith is just that: a new step. Sometimes it helps to have the experience, to draw on that for courage and hope, but very often it is just as stomach-dropping as the first time I let Jesus be the boss.

Friday, May 4, 2012

May Goals

I've been thinking more and more lately that I should make some goals. It wouldn't be the first time I've dabbled in it, but I never have done much more than dabble for any length of time (I was looking for a post to link to and then realized I never published it. It was half-written and kind of about goals. That pretty much sums up everything I need to say about that). The thing is, Matt's pay cut is kicking in this month, and our rent is going up this summer, and while I'm hoping to get some extra hours here and there at work to help cover people taking vacation time, that won't start for a few weeks and in the meantime my current homemaking routine only works because there are giant buffers of time for me to waste. Plus Matt and I have so many pairs of socks, I don't have to do laundry as often as I should. Plus, Esther and Josh are coming next week! I don't want to spend the summer naggy or cranky or in crisis because I still spend more time reading blogs than meal planning.

So I'm making some goals for May - weeks go by too fast, and I am too easily overwhelmed by failure for me to start with weekly goals - and hopefully they will be helpful to this month being pleasantly productive :)

They are: 
  • {Spiritual} Be more consistent praying with Common Prayer. My specific, measurable goal is to do this daily.
  • {Physical} Do something active for at least 20 minutes 3 times a week.
  • {Nutritional} Make a meal plan, including notes for required prep.
  • {Financial} Keep budget up to date, even past the point where I'm sure we'll break even.
  • {Housekeeping} Don't run out of socks! lol, but seriously... Housekeeping is the area where I am most likely to over-plan, and it stresses me out, which makes me miserable over stuff that I don't care about other than feeling like a bad wife. Then Matt is stuck with a cranky wife over stuff he doesn't care about either! So for now, I am going to skip housekeeping goals other than keeping our apartment livable.
  • {Other} Finish crocheting a baby blanket I started over a year ago. I was thinking I could give it to a friend who was pregnant, but her baby is now 7 months old and has all the blankets he needs! Whatever I end up doing with it, I want to get it done.
Speaking of Matt's happiness related to my housekeeping, I had a revelation the other day. I spend the afternoon doing whatever I want at home, which is usually not too much, and then after dinner I realize our house is a mess and want US to get busy cleaning it up! But that means Matt usually comes home to a list of chores that has been in the back of my mind all day while I didn't do them, plus dinner dishes.
So an additional, somewhat unofficial goal is to use my time after work to get stuff done (especially by focusing on my goals!) and save relaxing for the evenings. Hopefully less time will get wasted overall with this strategy, and most importantly it will hopefully mean even happier time together :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Already

It's hard to believe that it's May already! I think it snuck up me this year because for the first time in 5 years, April was not a frenzy of term papers and final exams. I've had space to breathe, and April just slipped away in a few gusty, rainy days. The grass is so impossibly green after the rain, and the air smells like dark, clean soil, and the days are getting warmer and longer, and I've loved watching Spring unfold for its own sake, not to wish a semester over and Summer on its way.

Of course, I'm excited out of my mind for this Summer! Esther and Josh are my sister and her boyfriend, and they'll be staying with us for the Summer, so that will be cozy and hopefully lots of fun! I'm trying not to set my hopes too high for the four of us adults sharing a two bedroom apartment (yes, our living room will be a part-time sleeping area), but I can't help feeling like our individual awesomeness will just be multiplied as we figure out how to do life together in close quarters.

On the decluttering front, we haven't thrown out/donated too much else, although I sold my old Hebrew textbooks and a DVD set that was unopened. We also rescued a dresser from next to the dumpsters, which is not too pretty but made from real wood and could totally be refinished, so we are up one large piece of furniture that will give Josh a place to store his clothes (it's clean Josh, don't worry). I was going to take a picture, but my phone is failing me, so... maybe later!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Prayer

Inspired by Psalm 139:18b - I awake and I am still with you.

I awake, and I am still with you,
Still because you never left, your presence does not rest when I do,
Still because your enveloping presence calms me and I am at peace.

When I wake I do not often think of you. For fear of falling back to sleep, I neglect stillness.
But I am yours - known completely by you before I had thoughts, before I ever cried, before I ever kicked. How great are your thoughts, O God, and how great your compassion - how gracious you are in light of our frailty, my frailty. I could die any night, and I could forget you any day, but daily you wake me and you remind me that You are.
Beloved God, draw me to be still with you, to awake with you, to spend my days with you. For now and always, Amen.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Three Things Thursday [Vol.9]

These three picture frames were inspired by my readings on the internet about how to honour special memories while decluttering. The frame on the left displays memorabilia from our honeymoon, while the two frames on the right display program covers and tickets from shows Matt and I saw on special dates as well as a picture of us during intermission from the first show. I love this idea because instead of having to choose between keeping sentimental clutter or throwing out memories, we can enjoy and share our memories of these special times on the walls of our home! The only question now is where to hang them?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Room for Anguish

This year I had such a rich experience of Lent and Easter, and it really caused me to reflect on how Christianity is a faith that has room for anguish, that suffering is neither foreign nor unexpected. In the third verse of his letter in the New Testament, James tells believers to count it as joy when we face trials and suffering - not because we have to put on a happy face or it makes Jesus look bad, but because suffering doesn't ever have to be pointless.

One of the most common metaphors for suffering that I've noticed in Scripture is that of women in labour. In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples that he is going away and that they will have anguish, they will weep and lament, but then they will have joy, and like a woman in labour, the joy of birth and new life eclipses the fear and pain before it. "Then you will not ask me anything," Jesus tells them, because they will know everything they need to know when he is resurrected.

It would be great if we could skip the anguish part, find an epidural for the soul, if you will, but soul-pain has purpose just like body-pain does, and sometimes numbing will sabotage a real fix or deaden our realization that something is terribly wrong.

In the story of Mary and Martha, Luke tells us Martha was distracted by everything she needed to do, and reading this story reminded me that anguish can filter our priorities in a way that is often lost when times are good. Martha is so busy doing everything else that she misses the opportunity to be with Jesus. It is not so when her brother Lazarus dies. Then, she runs to meet Jesus on the road and pours out her heart: "Lord, you could have saved him. He didn't need to die."

When things are going well, I am so easily distracted from spending time with God - there is laundry to fold, books to read, dishes to wash, naps to take. But when I'm in pain, or sick, at the end of my rope, I don't even think about those things (okay, maybe naps). When my soul is sick, or my spirit is troubled, there comes a point when I can no longer put off taking time with God.

I have been meditating on Psalm 131 for the last week or two. I made up a tune for it, which made it way easier to memorize, and it has turned into a sort of lullaby for my soul. This psalm speaks of finding contentment and security just in being - like a "weaned child," not there for milk or a math lesson, just nestled in peace because a parent's arms are there. In liturgy and worship we love to "lift our hearts to God," but in this psalm we are passive, not striving or reaching or straining, not busy but calm and quiet. And somehow, surprisingly to our culture's mindset, this is a worthwhile place to be. I think that's because when anguishing times come, we know we don't have to do anything for God. We can just be.

Eventually the anguish will pass, but we can't be too quick to skip to that. I love Lent because it tests our patience to wait for joy, to focus on the wilderness journey to the cross and then the empty tomb, not just skip merrily along to Easter Sunday. On Good Friday, it is so hard to even focus for one day on the anguish of Jesus' death - his slow execution after hours of beatings and mockery, after years of ministry and its heavy emotional toll. We do not fathom his fatigue, the deep weariness he faced before he gave up his spirit to God. We want to talk about why it's Good Friday - He lives! - But what about people who are in anguish and don't yet know their happy ending, if they even get one? Jesus knows suffering. But I think too often we gloss over how much he knows it - inside and out; emotionally, physically, and spiritually; for himself and for others times infinity.

As Christians, we have access to that depth of compassion. We can call on this God who went there for us so that it will not be the end of our story.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spending Time

Recently, taking some quiet time to reflect on my goals and priorities helped me decide to try and sell my old textbooks. I always liked having them around just in case I needed to look something up, and I remember looking at my parents' books on the bookcase while I was growing up, so I thought maybe one day my future children would do the same. However, that is a ridiculous reason to store shelves (and pounds) of books - if I haven't taken a second look at any of those books in the past year, what life circumstances do I imagine changing that will create a world where I suddenly want to brush up on critical thinking or sociology? I held on to books from when I studied Biblical Hebrew because I love languages, I used to know so much Hebrew, and maybe one day I'd try and pick it up again.

But here's the thing: I won't.

I know this because I cannot foresee any possibility that I'll need to - I know enough to use a concordance when I want to get deeper in Biblical texts, so I have no motivation to try and cram all that vocabulary and grammar back into my brain. And really, if I were to study a language, Biblical Hebrew falls on my list of priorities behind Spanish, Portuguese, and French. IF things come up that I never anticipated and I need those books down the road, I will replace them, but I think that is much less likely than the chance I'm taking on selling/donating them to make my present and future simpler.

So I am at peace with parting with yet more stuff. But the fruit of this reflective time is not yet done! Because remembering that I really do want to learn Spanish (Matt and I sponsor a girl from Nicaragua and would love to meet her one day, and I would love love love to be able to speak with her directly) made me a little bit sad that I never have time to study it. And then while I was reading on the internet I came across this quote in response to complaints of not having time: "Everyone gets 24 hours, and you decide how to spend them." And the more that sunk in, I realized that if I spent some of my time on the internet studying Spanish, I just might get somewhere with that.

This is true of everything I wish I had more time for - from keeping in touch with friends to getting more sleep to running to spending time with God. Some seasons are busier than others, and some have more flexibility than others, but ultimately it is up to me how I spend my 24 hours a day. And if I truly don't have time for the things that nag at the back of my mind, maybe it's time to check out my priorities and see what's out of order: the things I spend my time on, or the things I wish I did instead. Maybe like with those Hebrew textbooks, I'll find habits or self perceptions that I'm really ready to let go of.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reading Less to Do More

I read a lot of blogs. It's a pretty entertaining pastime, and it always gives me something interesting to think and talk about. A friend of mine asked me how I find the blogs I read, and the answer is I hardly even know. Sure there are some I subscribe to, others I just check up on, and sometimes I follow links to other authors or articles, or just read the comments and check out new sites that way. It's usually good times - I learn lots and enjoy seeing people's different perspectives on the world.

However, all this internet reading can also be a time suck, and a number of ideas I've read recently are conglomerating in my brain to make me more critical about how I spend my time including time online.

One piece of the puzzle is minimalism and the journey Matt and I are on changing our relationship with stuff. Rather than taking our identity from it, we want to filter what we own by what we value, love and use. It has been a big deal to question, "If it doesn't relate to who I am, why keep it on my shelves or in a box in the closet?" and it has been refreshing to find that removing excess and distracting belongings creates more space and appreciation for what's left. Since letting go of the cheap jewellery I never wear, I've begun actually wearing the jewellery I love. Now that my jewellery isn't "organized" so that it fits packed in a certain space as long as I don't. touch. anything. I can actually see what I own and decide what to wear.

When it comes to the internet, a lot of the reading I do is not very purposeful, but I have all kinds of blogs in my reader that I just read to keep on top of. It's a habit, and it's comforting because I don't have to sit around thinking of my own ideas, I can just soak up other people's. Lately though, I've been feeling like my mind is so full of stuff that there isn't room to take in more new information. I don't want to spend my free time living 9 lives vicariously through strangers on the internet. At this point I have been exposed to a lot of ideas and lifestyles, and now I should probably give more time to living things out than just reading about them.

Related to this is an interesting point I've learned in frugality, and another piece of my time puzzle, that if you don't shop for it you won't buy it. And when you don't buy it, very often you can do without it. A great practice (especially since Matt and I are only two people and both adults) is to skip a week of grocery shopping and eat the food you bought because it was on sale/you had a coupon/you thought you'd use it for that new recipe you never actually made. I am all for having things on hand, but it is so easy to forget they are there when they are stacked at the back of a cupboard and you're buying new food you actually want to eat. I am doing Jello penance this week because I discovered four boxes of it that I don't even remember buying. I am sure it was on sale because I know myself, but it literally could have been last Fall that I bought it (I can imagine my train of thought exactly: "sale! and it won't go bad! and... we eat jello... sometimes....? I'll take FOUR"). So I made a box and have eaten two cups of jello this week. So far. Three boxes to go. And next time I want to buy Jello on sale, I will remember how it's not THAT good and that I left one box in the cupboard as insurance. And not later eat 8 cups of jello in a week.

How does Jello relate to me and my time? I have a ton of ideas, things I want to do and write and learn, but there is such a constant flow of new content to my mind, that I never get to do real justice to those sparks of true inspiration that pop up every once in a while. If I don't spend so much time "shopping" for new ideas, I won't fill my mind-cupboards up with stuff I don't really want to eat. And maybe I can finally fulfill some of those ideas I've been thinking of for so long!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Holy Week

I slipped behind on my Bible reading for the first time last week, but managed to catch up thanks to about an hour reading in our now-cleaned-out storage closet and not sleeping on my commute today. It's weird that by this time next week I'll be done, but that is also helping me push through so many chapters. At this point I don't feel like I'm getting too much out of the readings, although I am highlighting passages that stand out to me, so that could pay off on a future read through.

I also realized on the weekend that since we made our prayer closet, ironically, I have really not been praying much. I've been reading and writing and thinking (busy busy busy), but I haven't taken time to be still. I have felt the effects as I so much more easily get caught up in emotions or reactions instead of being steady and calm in my spirit. I read all of Jeremiah yesterday and today and there is such a huge contrast between Jeremiah and the people - they are swirling and panicked and clinging to every false promise of hope, while Jeremiah tells God's message faithfully. It's not easy for him - he gets depressed, people plot to kill him, he's imprisoned, the city is besieged and bread runs out - but he is anchored by God.

At church yesterday, the priest talked about the emotional roller coaster ride that Holy Week goes through, and I feel that as Lent draws to a close it is very appropriate to step off the ride and be still with God, to let him be the anchor that keeps us on track whether we are ecstatically hopeful, terrified, heart broken, or amazed.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Three Things Thursday [Vol.8]

Three pictures that make me laugh.
I took them all in real life.
You may call me immature, but that doesn't make them any less hilarious.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Next Step

I thought getting rid of a worn out purse was a big step because it was a concrete step in overcoming the affection I attach to things. At least it was worn out though.

Last night I faced my next big hurdle in decluttering: letting go of items that are not yet worn out.

When Matt and I got married, a number of beautiful bathroom towels sets were given to us, and we also held on to our own towels from university life. These towels filled up a huge shelf in the closet of our guest room/office ("How grown up," I thought, "to have a closet filled with towels"), and then they were crammed into the cupboard under our bathroom sink ("maybe we'll use more towels if they're closer at hand," I thought).

A few weeks ago, our chronically slow-draining bathroom sink became completely clogged, and we piled all the towels in a laundry basket so Matt could be husbandly and take the pipes apart. He removed the clog, but then there seemed to be a leak, so we left a bucket under the pipe, and the mountain of towels stayed in our room, balanced against the bed.

The bucket has been dry for many days, but it took me time to get my head around cramming all those towels back under the sink. And then we decided to make more space.

So last night I laid our towels out on the bed in piles: two matching towels for Josh, and two for Esther; the two towels my Portuguese teacher embroidered for Matt and me in Brazil; and then I got stuck. The thing is, we hardly even use the really nice towels we got for our wedding because I want to "wear out" the towels we both brought to our marriage. Two and a half years later, it turns out towels don't just wear out because you use them to dry your hair. Maybe if my hair was made of razor blades! Of course, then I'd have a million other problems. Like bleeding out on windy days. But I digress.


In addition to the towels I had laid out, we decided to keep four matching towels that were wedding gifts. One oversized towel we are keeping (in addition to actual beach towels) for beach trips this summer, and the rest (pictured above) we are giving to the local community services association for their shower program. It definitely wasn't hard-core decluttering, but it was eye-opening to reflect on why it was so hard to let go of excess things. At least this is a starting point, and I really think that as we reduce the amount of stuff in our apartment, the things that just take up space will become more obvious and easier to let go.

Wow, I must also add HOW HAPPY the woman at the community centre was to receive these towels. Her enthusiasm totally made up for any doubts I had lingering about these towels being gone forever. And honestly, it feels great to know that instead of filling up a shelf in a closet, these towels will be used by people who need them.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Making Prostitution Safer?

Brothels have been legalized in Ontario in the hopes of making prostitution safer for sex workers. There are arguments on both sides, with some celebrating this decision and others warning it will increase demand and therefore danger for sex workers in addition to not helping the majority of prostitutes who work on the street. This ruling won't take effect for a year in order to give lawmakers time to prepare the legislation brothels will be held to, and it may be appealed in the Supreme Court, but in the meantime arguments are yet again flying back and forth in the papers and online whether these decisions make any sense.

One of the last papers I wrote for my BA was on this topic, just after a number of laws against prostitution were first struck down (on appeal, the law forbidding publicly communicating for the purpose of prostitution was upheld). I was surprised to see women on both sides of the debate arguing passionately, and I wanted my own opinion to be based on more than a knee-jerk reflex. I wasn't sure what to expect: I was confident that lower-class prostitution would be demonstrably harmful and exploitative, but I also looked for evidence to support exceptions when prostitution is not a last resort fuelled by poverty or drug addiction.

This is the paper. After spending days reading articles and studies and stories, I was emotionally exhausted and convinced that no matter how prostitution is packaged, it's always dangerous. Physically and emotionally, women get wrecked when they sell their bodies, and the reality of the trade is that most do not choose. The downfall of the laws being struck down in Ontario is that they will only grant protection to a minority of sex workers, while the majority will continue to be oppressed and abused with even less hope of ever getting out. Worse, it normalizes a dysfunctional and harmful view of women and sexuality.

It is important most of all to recognize that legalizing brothels does not empower prostitutes; it empowers madams, pimps and johns.

Something that struck me while researching that paper was that legal prostitution increases the demand for bodies, and these will be obtained by any means. Already, women are trafficked to meet the demand for prostitution in Canada, and it happens right under the surface of our daily lives - this month, a prostitution ring was busted operating out of an apartment building I pass on my way to church. This article talks about the reality of human trafficking in our province.

If women are to be protected, laws must come down on pimps and johns. Until that happens, "empowering" or "protecting" prostitutes by letting them work indoors only puts the problem of abuse and exploitation out of sight.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Decluttering

It all started with the somewhat-crazy plan to host my sister and her boyfriend in our 2-bedroom apartment this summer. I thought it was crazy, but when no other housing options looked likely to work out before they arrived, I realized it could actually be pretty great. In order to happen, though, we definitely need to make better use of our space, and this was the motivation behind what shall be known as our apartment purge of 2012.

After a few days of talking with Matt about how great this could be and reading some blog posts on minimalism, we finally got down to it and actually got rid of stuff we never wear/use instead of just organizing it.

This is some of the stuff we got rid of:All of these items have been in our drawers/closets for years but never used.

The greatest proof of my personal growth and determination in this process is parting with this purse.This purse was a find at Winners around Christmas 2007, and it has served me well for the last few years. In days gone by, I would have hoarded this purse for a few more years, maybe using it once or twice to validate keeping it, but never loving it like I used to.

The immediate payoff, which we are so happy about, is being able to create a prayer space in our storage closet. This is one thing we hope will help this summer with our house being full - having a room where someone can sit and think and be alone, all without hogging the bathroom!! Matt and I have talked about doing this for ages but just couldn't figure out how to make the space. The answer turned out to be throwing out all those boxes we were hoarding for our next move. We may move as soon as this Fall, but whether we do or not, we'll find boxes when we need them. In the meantime, we'll continue sifting through our things so that when we do need to pack it all up, we'll only be bringing things we use and/or love.

Here's the closet before:In progress of being cleaned out:And after:There is a folding chair against the wall opposite the shelves and pictures to remind us of people/places to pray for. We'll put more up as we go and might write the Prayer of St Francis on the left wall as well.

Do you have clutter lurking? Take an hour to get rid of the obvious stuff - it feels great!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three Things Thursday [Vol.7]

Three ways running relates to life in Christ:

1. You can always go further than you think.
This is the biggest hurdle that kept (keeps) me from running - I get tired after about 20 seconds and want to go back home. BUT if I cut myself the slack to start slow and take breaks when I need to, eventually my heart and lungs catch up, and it's not so bad! Then it becomes a case of pushing my limits, trying to make it running to the next driveway or bus stop before my next breather because...

2. The hard parts can be the best parts.
Not to push a cliche, because sometimes the hard parts plain suck - you're wheezing and dizzy and red in the face and possibly crying a little bit. Sucky.

But there is something magical about the best part of a hard run, when your legs are burning and your heart is pounding, and it feels like your lungs could breathe in whole mountains, they are filling up down to your hip bones, and the running is hard, but all you have to do is keep going; you are unstoppable. Everything you need is working already, and you are doing what to cold muscles and calm heart seems impossible. It is thrilling and satisfying and great.

3. There is only one prize. Paul compares life in Christ to a race and exhorts his readers to "Run in such a way to get the prize." Unfortunately, I think this verse is often read as if there is only one winner.* Christianity becomes a competition, and if you're not the best you're a loser. But Paul isn't saying we should size each other up, throw elbows and try to beat each other out whatever it takes - he is telling his readers to keep their focus. This life is all we get, and if we are not running our best (which won't look the same every day, but the best that we have at each moment), we are wasting time. We must not be distracted by the races other people are running, becoming envious or going off track to try and copy them. In the parable of the talents, the first two servants receive the same prize from their master although they accomplished different things. The prize is to hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" Those are the words I hope to hear on judgment day, not, "Nice work, Davis, your Christmas play totally out-classed those Pentecostals. In fact, I'm not even gonna let them in!"

Yes, God still calls me by my maiden name.

Bonus thoughts on running (by the way, I had a great run yesterday):

  • Running is not like life in Christ because we don't know the length or terrain of our life's course. We have to follow Jesus step by step and season by season, and recognize that we may have 50 years or two weeks left to live. The best way to pace ourselves is to trust and follow him, since he knows the course inside and out.
  • His banner over us is Love. Love is why and how we run this life with Jesus. It is how we know we're on the right track and what we look forward to at the finish line. (God loves you and I love you and that's the way it should be... That song is about banqueting not running, I know, but don't you think we'll all be down for a huge banquet when the life-race is over? I do.)

*Turns out 1 Corinthians 9:24 says only one winner. Awkward. I guess that's where the analogy breaks down.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hope


I was struck by Job 1:21, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

I know that I have read this verse before, and I must have sung the song 100 times at least. But as it often goes with Scripture, I was challenged by it in a new way. See, I have long had this anxious streak that feared God would totally wreck my life and see me through it all so I would have this incredible testimony. It's the irrational fears that are hardest to weed out sometimes, and God has been so gracious and merciful to ease shards of distrust out of my soul while I continue to function as a Christian and be seen as mostly sane. And then this passage reminded me: while I get hung up worrying whether God will take away any of the good things he has given, ultimately I will leave this earth naked, leaving even my body behind.

For me, this is liberating, not depressing - it changes my focus, like artsy photography where the background is all blurred, except for me it's the foreground with all my concerns and complaints and fears and failures that has become blurry, and the background has exploded with crystal clarity: eternity.

As humans, we are born in a state of utter dependence, without any awareness beyond immediate needs. As we grow up, I guess we go on a quest to be independent, to learn who we are, who God is, and to love others who are in our life. We try to become something.

And along this way (with the help of the marketers, I think. Shiny lips will help you find yourself!), we buy into the illusion that we can really get somewhere! But I don't think most of us are trying to get to where we actually need to be. Because it seems to me that Jesus' relationship with the Father shows total dependence. He not only told his disciples to pray for their daily bread, but he did the same. With the ability to turn stones into bread, he went hungry. He deeply loved people but died alone.

Job 14:7-8 says, "For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil..."

I wonder if this passage comforted Jesus as he poured his life out in ministry. I was thinking about him as I walked Nimoy the dog along a path near our place. This path is not scenic. The trees are showing no signs of Spring, and although there is water, it is too cloudy and fetid to call a stream. The brightest colours come from graffiti on the concrete wall surrounding the townhouse complex behind it. Across the thin band of water is a golf course with green trees, benches and perfect grass, but this path boasts only discarded cigarette boxes and faded spray paint. It wanders between these two symbols of "the life" - homes fenced off from strangers, a manicured lawn to spend afternoons playing golf - but it occurred to me that Jesus had more than enough life to give without all those trappings we chase after so often. It occurred to me that Jesus came to walk the ugly path.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Three Things Thursday [Vol.6]

This week I would like to share 3 awkward moments I have experienced on the TTC:
  1. Wondering if the person across from you is INSANE or just speaking a foreign language with a covert bluetooth. Especially when they are staring you in the face and speaking so intensely!

  2. Hoping you fit in the empty seat between two big people and failing to actually hit the seat. THEN needing to squeeze loose and find another seat. Sigh. Fortunately, this just happened for the first time last week; usually I'm a pretty good judge of hip-width.

  3. People who fight/break up over the phone on the bus. I remember one time an entire bus fell silent as a guy broke down into tears and yelled at his girlfriend for cheating on him even more than she had already admitted. Less embarrassing but still ridiculous was a woman who was fighting with her boyfriend and kept hanging up on him only to immediately call back and continue the fight.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time Change

Daylight savings is curb stomping my brain
I ride through my days on a headache that morphs from my skull to my eyes to my scalp down my neck.
My stomach churns like I haven't slept, wants to eat my emotions like razor blades and popcorn.
9pm comes like a train screeching into the station, and the carpet calls me, rough and sturdy, to rest my face on it. It's closer than my bed, after all.
5am bluffs me awake, then smirks a red gleam through the dark: too early to get up, less than an hour left to sleep, dawn will come after that. Sucker.
But the early air smells like Spring, and the soft ground presses gently on my feet to promise grass will grow soon.
The night sky stretches over my mornings again, but the wind doesn't scrape like it used to.
Finally daylight slips over the horizon, reflected by office windows 20 floors up, bought at a price of bleary eyes and that hovering, dull ache. No refunds, just hope that Spring stays.
And I can always sleep on the train.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wax On, Wax Off

I was praying about prayer earlier this week. I want to pray, and I love to pray, but days keep going by with just a few God-ward thoughts and maybe a "hey God, help me not to suck today please. I'd like to be kind, and um, to have a good day. Thanks."

Prayer is a helluva lot more than that, and I have been frustrated by how my soul pretends it is satisfied. Not that on-the-go prayers don't have a place, but I am in a season of early afternoons off work with very little responsibility, and I am not satisfied for all of those hours to be spent walking the dog and washing dishes. So I had a chat with God about it at small group on Monday, about why I don't just do what I want to want! And I realized that I don't know how to just be with God, so I avoid it for fear of feeling like a failure, or I over complicate it. It is SO EASY for me to fall into the trap of choosing a strategy: picking a posture, setting a time, keeping silence to listen, and all of those things are good and helpful, but they are not what bring me to God. When I spend time with my friends, generally we plan a time and place to get together, and we may have an idea of what we want to do, but once we connect, we go with the flow! If I change seats because the sun is in my eyes, nobody thinks we need to start over; if I get distracted I apologize, but I don't think we should just give up talking.

On Monday, God reminded me how music settles me and opens my spirit, and he suggested I could start my time with him by singing. "And," he mentioned while I gazed at the prayer candle we had lit for small group, "the candle is a nice focal point." So true - and so much less risky when I'm tired than closing my eyes to pray.
So Tuesday I lit our prayer candle, and I did some singing. Then I tried to pray but was too scattered, so I sang some more. And then I tried again. And I realized that I wasn't so much distracted as overwhelmed: where to start? So I said to God, "There is too much for me to even say, and you know it all anyways. I know you want me to pray, but it's too much, so I can't."

And God said, "That candle is filled with so much wax, which is way too much for that tiny flame, but over time it will all get burned up. Let my Spirit soften your burdens and draw them away into myself. It just takes time."

And I thought that was very beautiful.

Monday night I wrote that I was struggling with prayer because I didn't know what to expect. If I didn't have some breakthrough or emotional confirmation of encountering God, then I felt like it was wasted time. I know that's not necessarily true, but it very often feels that way. Remembering that candle helps me get my head around having criteria and expectations and psyching myself out about prayer before I even begin. Indistinguishable amounts of progress are okay; feeling hard and waxy and stuck is okay; feeling like a drippy mess is okay too; the most important thing is to draw near to the flame of God's Spirit and let Him work on me.

*Linked to 31Days2Happy through elizabethesther.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taking New Land

I have been so blessed by the girls' small group that meets here on Mondays. This week we had a brief Bible study and then spent some time thinking/praying about some questions to apply the story to our lives. It was great! And it is the back story to some more thinking and praying I want to post about, so here it goes:

We read Joshua 17:14-18
In which the people of Joseph want more land because they are numerous. Joshua says they can have more land, but they have to work for it, to clear forests and to fight armies.
It made me think that if you think you deserve/are ready for more, you might have to dig in and work harder for it.

We reflected on these four questions:
  • What areas of your life can you see room for more growth?
  • What are the obstacles in those areas?
  • Do you have any fears/hesitations toward those obstacles?
  • What is a concrete step you can take to "expand your inheritance"?

Monday, March 5, 2012

God Says

God says: Pranking blind people ain't funny, yo.

Reading the Bible for Lent has been so good for me. For the most part it hasn't even been a huge burden, it just eliminates any questions of what to read on the subway. It has also been so interesting reading so much Bible all at once, because things stand out to me more - repetition or allusions that I might miss if they were spread out over a month or five jump out because I am reading Deuteronomy only a few days after reading Leviticus. Allow me to share an example:
  • Leviticus 19:14 - You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind.
  • Deuteronomy 27:18 - Cursed be anyone who misleads a blind man on the road.
I think it is so awesome that in all of these chapters of laws, dietary restrictions, how to treat outsiders, miracles to remember, and lists of people not to get busy with, that God emphasizes dignity for the vulnerable. It also makes me so curious about why God needed to say it twice - how bored were these ancient Semitic people wandering around in the desert? Bored enough to pick on their blind brothers? Jaded enough to curse a sister who would never know it? If you're going to lash out, God says, take it up with me. Or if that doesn't appeal to you, suck it up. But definitely don't send some blind guy wandering off into the desert.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Really Interesting Story

I am still without the itch to blog, just enjoying life as it happens and trying to focus more on the good than the not-great. I'm enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon, listening to music, cooking for tonight/later this week, and I decided to see what is new online. I came across such a cool story that I decided to post it here, but be warned it's a pretty long read. The story is about two families from Ontario who adopted daughters from China who turned out to be identical twins! I found it so fascinating to read about twins in general, and to read about how these two families are working together to support their daughters as sisters :)

If you have the time, I think this is a great story, and I'm so happy it made it into the newspaper!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Busy in a Good Way

I was wondering how this past week flew by without managing a post, because often that means I've been swamped with life or I've been overwhelmed in my mind or spirit and have nothing left to write about anything. I am happy to recognize that this past week has been very full, but not overwhelming.

Monday Matt and I spent the day skiing (me) and snowboarding (him) at Snow Valley, then had dinner with my Dad's side of the family. It was a beautiful day - I even got a bit of a sunburn on my face - and a really fun way to spend a day off together.

Tuesday was pancake dinner at the Anglican church. Matt got to meet the priest there, AND there were sausages! It was more than I hoped :)

Wednesday I went to my first Ash Wednesday service with imposition of ashes, and it was very moving. It was a beautiful way to begin the season of Lent (and yes, so far I've kept up with my readings!)

Thursday, Matt and I went to see one of our youth perform a play. She was charming and hilarious, so it was a fun night out.

Friday was youth group as usual, and I snuck a nap in the afternoon. Not that busy maybe, but when I have the chance to catch up on sleep or catch up on life, I try to choose sleep if I have to spend the next many hours with people - that's kinder to everybody!

Saturday I spent at Today's Teens Conference in Oakville and then fell asleep in the living room after dinner. It was an exhausting day but great to see tons of other youth leaders I know from across Toronto, and great speakers/sessions. I am looking forward to watching Cure for Love, a documentary that features the wedding of one of the speakers I heard yesterday, Brian Pengelly. His story is here, and I'd encourage you to read it! Here's how it ends:

Now people ask me to describe myself and I tell them that I am a Gay, Evangelical Christian Youth Pastor, who is married to a Lesbian. It always makes people do a double take, and some can't quite wrap their heads around it-but it is what best describes me. If I have learned anything it is that life is complex, and that people don't fit nicely into our boxes and labels.

I have embraced the complexity of my life, and integrated all the different parts into who I am today-.and I can honestly say that I am truly happy. I have learned through my journey that God loves me, and I am free to love Him back. I have learned to own my sexuality, and to make choices that fit what I believe and make sense to me. I finally feel like all the pieces fit. It's not that I have it all figured out, life is constantly changing, and there are always new pieces to figure out. People are complex, and life is weird sometimes, but God is Good, and He loves me. And the rest we figure out together.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three Things Thursday [Vol.5]

I am planning to keep Lent this year - I think it's the first time ever. I have been attending an Anglican church since the new year began and am developing such an appreciation for the church calendar. I have often thought about doing something for Lent, but it usually doesn't occur to me until a few weeks into the season, and then I give up. Having had time to research and reflect on some ideas, today I will share three ways I am marking the season of Lent in 2012.

1. Pancake dinner!
Matt and I are going to the pancake dinner at the Anglican church on Shrove Tuesday. This is the first "thing" I'm doing there other than attending the service. I'm expecting the all-you-can-eat-pancakes factor will make me crave breakfast sausage! Alas.

2. Keep Fridays - no meat, fast on Good Friday
Not eating meat on Fridays during Lent is an old practice that I am interested to experience. It seems like a very simple thing and is only once a week, but I don't believe spiritual disciplines need to be an outrageous challenge in order to be effective.
I am also planning to fast on Good Friday, eating one full meal that does not include meat (per wikipedia). My only previous experience with this was fasting from English on Good Friday 2009, and that was great in so many ways.

3. Read the entire Bible
I wasn't sure about this last one, and to be honest I'm still not 100% convinced it will happen, but I'm gonna give it a shot! A group at church is doing this, and I have never read the entire Bible cover to cover, so I printed off a reading plan (there's two options) and am going to do my best. A number of times in my youth I attempted year-long plans to read through the Bible but never made it through. For this reason, I chose the balanced plan (reading from different sections of the Bible daily instead of straight through). This will help me avoid reading the psalms all in a stretch - I would have a harder time with that than Leviticus I think! I am hoping that the short time-frame will help me push through when I don't feel like it, and I am hoping that doing this for Lent will create space in my days that I can continue to spend with God after Lent, but in prayer or other disciplines rather than in intensive reading. I also chose to do it because it is a daily practice, and I wanted something to mark the season on a daily basis.

So wish me luck! Slash pray for me, since that is much more helpful :P

And I would love to hear your thoughts as always!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy

During the sermon this week, while the pastor was making a very good point about why praying in Jesus' name involves submitting to God's will, he made an unfortunate side-comment about marriage. It went something like, "so many people in their marriage want to be happy, but sometimes God is not concerned about our happiness, he is concerned about our holiness." It sounded very pious, but it also gave me the creeps.

Part of that is due to this post and my fragility right now regarding spiritual manipulation and how a joyless God is very often the starting point of abusive theology. Part of it is also due to the fact that the first few months of our marriage were pretty unhappy for both Matt and I (I really need to write that post about the Pill), and I am REALLY GLAD to be happy in our marriage these days. And I believe God is happy for us to be happy.

To be fair, it is not always sunshine and smiles around here. Sometimes I am unhappy - because my attitude is wrong, because circumstances have disappointed me, or sometimes for no conceivable reason and I have to sing kids' church songs under my breath as a prayer (I've got peace like a river, love like an ocean, joy like a fountain in my soulllll). But deep down, our marriage is a source of joy and hope - a safe place to laugh, cry, pray, fall apart, and eat cereal for supper - and I don't take that for granted. We are partners, Matt and I, in happiness AND holiness: in laundry, youth ministry, learning second languages, eating ice cream, and cleaning up after the dog.

In the times when unhappiness lurks, and in hard seasons where joy is harder to come by, I hope nobody tells us that God just wants us to be holy.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Three Things Thursday [Vol.4]

Things that save me so much time and stress:

1. Not watching TV.

Oh man do I not miss cable - even when we had it for free! There was always something on, and I'd watch it whether I was actually interested or not. Then I would suddenly realize three hours had passed, I was hungry, and I was on my last pair of clean socks. Matt and I still watch movies and TV episodes on Netflix, but we don't lose hours of our lives to it. Tuesday I was on the verge of a crisis over washing dishes, and what do you know but after watching an episode of Lie to Me with Matt to chill out, I found the emotional strength to do it! The thing with TV though is, it's always SO easy to just turn it on, whether you want to or need to or not. The Xbox, for me, not so easy. So I only watch when I really want to.

2. Making a meal plan.

I don't do this every week, but when I do it makes such a difference. It saves me time (and money) grocery shopping, less food gets wasted, and I know when I need to prep something the day before or right when I get home from work. I also avoid that ominous feeling of forgetting something that leaves me wandering around the house distracted and not accomplishing anything. I set up a spreadsheet in google docs so I can start keeping my meal plans in different tabs instead of wiping them out each week and starting fresh. I'm hoping that after a few months I will have accumulated enough successful menus that I can just choose one each week and shop for it. Bam!

3. Getting clothes and food ready the night before.

It is so much easier to make decisions at 10pm than 6am. It is also so much easier to scoop left over chicken sweet potato curry into a tupperware container. Growing up, when I graduated to the make-my-own-lunch phase, my mom always told me how much easier it would be to pack the night before, but did I listen? No. And did I eat a lonely Nutri-grain bar for lunch on many, many days? Yes, yes I did. But now I've finally learned :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

God's Parenting and Punishment

Beth at Red and Honey wrote a beautiful piece yesterday on her parenting philosophy that sparked a bunch of ideas in my mind. I love Beth's writing because I feel like even though we are different people in very different places in life, we share some heart loves, including making words tell our feelings, seeking beauty in the ordinary, and discovering that God's plan is bigger, deeper, harder and better than our own.

I love Beth's heart for her kids and have so many posts flagged in my mind to pull up in future times when my kids are eating play-doh and breaking their crayons. What challenged me most yesterday though was not her perspective on parenting so much as the connection of God parenting us. And all my thoughts swirling around are definitely too long to leave as a comment on her blog!

Beth says, obedience and compliance are inferior goals in parenting.
I totally agree, and I agree because I believe God's goal in our relationship is not obedience but rather fulfillment. Obedience is the path that God leads me toward knowing him and reflecting him, but it is not the final purpose. If it was, God could have made things a whole lot easier on everyone and left out the part where he gave us free will.

What I struggle with in Beth's piece is the dichotomy set up between Old Covenant and New Covenant, the idea that God used to punish us, but now he gently draws us back to what is right when we fall away. Of course, she is highlighting the difference between parenting philosophies, not theology. But it got me thinking...

Beth refers to a contrast between external controls (priests, temples, sacrifices) and inner controls (the Holy Spirit as conscience and guide) in two different paradigms of parenting, but I would love to talk about that grey area in between, where discipline happens, when something imposed externally changes the internal for the better. So I busted out my new favourite online tool - the interlinear Bible/lexicon! - to search up how "punishment" really looks in the Old Testament.

The word yacar means to chasten, discipline, or instruct. It appears 42 times in the Old Testament including
  • Leviticus 26:18 - 'If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.'
  • Leviticus 26:23 - 'And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me,'
  • Deuteronomy 4:36 - 'Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire.'
  • Hosea 7:15 - 'Although I trained and strengthened their arms, Yet they devise evil against Me.'
Paqad is translated as punish, punished, or punishment 53 times in the NAS Bible (out of 297 uses of the word - to number is another common translation).
  • 1 Samuel 15:2 - 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel...''
  • Exodus 3:16 - "Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt."

From what I see in Scripture, God's heart toward the people he created does not change. His desire is for us to be all he made us to be, for us to know justice, faithfulness and love in this broken world, and to know it not only from Him but from each other as well! For this to happen, for God to make a people who are different and set apart for himself, discipline has to be involved, and it won't look the same for all of us! But I am not afraid to be punished by God because I believe Jesus took the punishment for my SIN, and God's punishment for my mess-ups (aka small s sins) will ultimately make me better.

Monday, February 6, 2012

It keeps happening to me that when I least want to take time to spend with God, pushing through and doing it is most rewarding. Suffice it to say that I had a good ol' chat with God this evening, and then I was reading some prayers from a book my mentor gave me at graduation (The Valley of Vision - I love it). I was struck by these lines and thought I'd share:

Thou hast struck a heavy blow at my pride,
at the false god of self,
and I lie in pieces before thee.

...Grant me grace to bear thy will without repining,
and delight to be
not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned,
but separated from the old rock where I have
been embedded so long,
and lifted from the quarry to the upper air,
where I may be built in Christ for ever.

*The bold emphasis is my own.
I typed up another prayer for a friend earlier this week and there too, I typed every thy as they. Thank goodness for proof-reading!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Phase 3/Off the Wagon


In case you were wondering how things are going on the Maker's Diet, it really depends. If you are a stickler, things are going medium-not-too-bad. If you are a free spirit, things are going great! Because Matt and I are at peace with our cheating :P

It started with us going on a youth retreat last weekend, which was awesome spiritually, but very out-of-our-control food-wise. So Matt and I had a chat on the bus up and decided to take the weekend off the diet. Of course, a whole month of different thinking about food can't be undone on a whim, and neither of us had much desire to gorge on all the carbs we've been avoiding. I personally greatly enjoyed the French toast fingers on Saturday! But I also got a salad at McDonalds on the way up, and I skipped a lot of bread/buns in the meals that were sandwich-based just because I wasn't interested.

At this point, I truly enjoy choosing vegetables/salad and protein over bread/potatoes/pasta. Of course, having the mentality that cheating was allowed slippery sloped into a couple cookies this week :) Oh, and I made a cheesecake! It was a little bit fail in that it's undercooked, and Matt is weirded out by the cinnamon flavour in the crust (I followed the recipe, and next time I will leave it out because it is weird) sooo I will be eating it all to myself :)

We haven't noticed any ill effects, although I realize how much cheating leads to more cheating! I crave cookies and treats way more when I've had just one than during the weeks when it was simply off limits.

If I were to do it again (and we've talked about maybe doing it once a year), I think I would do it similarly to how things have panned out this time around: I'd follow the first and second phases, then just go back to normal (normal being lots of cooking from scratch and healthy choices). I am even considering doing a fruit-grain-dairy fast for two weeks part way through the year as a mini-detox to see if the effects are as great as they were in January.

I'm not planning to post a meal plan for phase 3 since I'm only planning a day or two ahead right now, and it's just normal food. All in all though, I'd say this diet experiment was a success :)