January 30, 2012

happiness is singing in the choir.

Before getting married last year, my husband and I had been together for a grand total of 5 years (and 49 days if we're being exact here). Our families lived an hour apart. We went to different universities which were 2 hours apart. This meant that weekends were the only time we were able to see each other. This also meant that to keep everything happy and fair, we were at a different house every weekend... and also, a different church. It was a challenge. Not getting to be a part of a consistent church community is tiring, and it's also hard to figure out what you can give yourself to in the workings of the communion of saints.

Well, marriage and a cross-border move solved that problem! Having to start fresh in a new country also meant having to start fresh in a totally new church. And because we're there every week, we get to be involved! Hooray!

I've joined our church choir. It's a lovely choir -- perhaps 20-25ish people? We have a very skilled and exuberant director who punches life into the voices of our souls. We sound pretty good, considering the amount of material we have to get through. We're part of the church service twice a month, and during those services we lead the congregation in praise and worship. It's great. Fo realsies.

I have a problem though. I get the choir giggles. It's really inconvenient. Because of my height (I have lots of it), I've been placed at the end of the alto row next to our giant Dutch bass men. The sound of their deep voices makes me laugh. The fact that they're not always paying attention and leap in at the totally wrong place and flip pages frantically makes me laugh. The fact that I'm laughing in the middle of "How Great Thou Art" makes me laugh. One of the jolly bass men makes a pun about some lyric and blammo, I'm snorting into my choir binder. It's slightly frustrating (albeit in a fun, happy way), especially when the whole congregation is staring and wondering who let the insane Canadian in.

The only explanation I have is that choir makes me happy which makes me more susceptible to getting the giggles. And why does choir make me happy (other than the fact that I love to sing)? I think it's because I'm doing what I was built to do -- to worship and glorify the Almighty God of this universe. God's creation was designed to praise Him. I'm reminded of the story in Luke 19 where the Pharisees tell Jesus to rebuke his disciples who are praising him joyfully (such sassy disciples). Jesus responds in his lovely, poignant way, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

Worshipping my Creator feels good and fills my heart with gladness. I like that.

"Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs." Psalm 100:2

January 26, 2012

have pencil, will draw

As was previously mentioned, I love drawing. I've never had any formal training -- I just took art class up until grade 12, and because our high school was so small, we didn't actually have a huge detailed program where you could choose from sculpting or illustration or graphic design -- it was just art. Art art art.

 I don't know when I started to like drawing so much -- perhaps it stemmed from doodling during church as a kid. To keep us quiet and preoccupied, my parents gave us kids notebooks for church in which we could take notes or draw pictures on the sermon topic... but drawing dusty disciples wasn't my idea of a good time -- princesses with ornate dresses were far more exciting (I was six... give me a break).

 It wasn't until grade 2 that I realized that drawing was something I really liked doing (unlike evil math -- fractions still give me ulcers). We had an assignment to draw some form of Canadian wildlife, and I took that loon very seriously. Working very intently on my drawing, it took me a bit to notice the crowd of classmates gathering around my desk, saying things like, "Wow! It actually looks like a loon!"

8-year-old critics aren't hard to please, though, and I'm sure if I still had that drawing my opinion would be far different. But that encouragement was all I needed to embrace art with both arms. I spent my high school years doodling in the margins of my notebooks (probably why I did so badly in math) and went to university for landscape architecture -- connecting my love of the great outdoors with my drawing habits. It also seemed more practical than a fine arts degree... but that's another story.

For now, I continue to draw and draw and draw... mostly cards, mostly with pencil crayons and heavy-duty markers, mostly just for fun. My dear husband gave me a bee-yoo-tee-full drafting table for a wedding gift which is just the best thing ever. And on it I shall continue to draw.

My mahhhvelous desk... and 2011's Christmas card.

Below is a birthday card for a good friend of my husband's. For his birthday he wanted a card made by yours truly, so voila! He was raised in the Philippines and is a big scuba diver... hence the happy underwater friends.

I'm no pro, that's for sure... but it makes me happy. 

January 25, 2012

chef in training

I love cooking. I'm not sure how it happened -- I mean, my mom is a great cook and we grew up eating really well, so that probably had something to do with it, but it wasn't like I was raised in the kitchen putting omelettes together at the age of six or something. We helped our mom in the kitchen occasionally, and I flipped the pancakes on Sunday mornings (until I discovered the joy of sleeping in), but that was about it. Although I did have a thing for cooking shows, they appealed to me far more than the Power Rangers.

Now that I'm married, I get to rule my own kitchen and choose my own groceries... it's been quite exciting. My dear younger sisters bought for us (well, me) as a wedding gift Julia Child's set of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". They're so pretty, I had to take a picture of them.

So far I've been pretty successful with my creations (Wayne is a very fair and honest judge). My first Julia Child attempt was to make Hollandaise sauce from scratch. Quite tricky, but it tasted nice.

We then used said Hollandaise sauce to create a Saturday brunch of eggs benedict. It looks pretty, and tasted good, but... we learned that we're not enormous fans of poached eggs. Too slimy.

I've made quite a few things from Julia so far (a good sauce can do so much for a meal!), but I also like using my crock pot. Ingenious -- sometimes. Last week I made a horrendously awful soup in it. It was from a recipe too yet! I blame the recipe entirely. "Hearty Carrot Soup" sounded so promising, especially on a snowy cold night. Alas...

It was, to put it plainly, gross. We forced down half a bowl each, then fed the toilet with the rest and went to Applebee's for 1/2 price appetizers instead. You win some, you lose some. From now on I shall stick to Julia Child and my tried and true recipes... like my mom's chicken pot pie. Romantic chicken pot pie...

January 24, 2012

roe v. wade

I'm not sure why I'm attempting to approach this topic. It's a huge deal. It's a great big twisted knot of politics vs religion vs women's rights vs morals. It can get really complicated… or it can be kept really simple. In my mind it's simple -- God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life, does not support the abortion of children. Unfortunately the simple version isn't what the current culture likes to hear about -- nor do they think it even pertains to the topic. God -- whether or not He does indeed exist -- should have no place in determining what a woman does with her body.

But I will approach this topic because it matters to me, and I think about it a lot, especially with the development of recent newsworthy events. This past Sunday marked 39 years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a Texas law that prohibited abortion except for the purpose of saving a woman's life. A week ago today in the Toronto Star, a story was published summarizing Dr. Rajendra Kale's editorial "It's a girl!" -- could be a death sentence in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Kale's article discussed how female feticide is growing more common on Canadian soil because of the migration of cultural practices and expectations of immigrants. He argues that revealing the sex of a baby should be postponed until after 30 weeks of pregnancy, when an unquestioned abortion is basically no longer possible. Since the gender of a baby is medically irrelevant, it shouldn't matter whether curious parents find out at 18 weeks or 30 weeks. "It is discrimination against women in its most extreme form," Kale wrote. I agree. How could anyone who pushes for women's rights view this developing trend with complacency?

Many, it seems.

I had forgotten (silly me) that included in the pro-abortion stance was the idea that a fetus is not a human being. Therefore, gender is inconsequential since what's being aborted isn't seen as a life, but just a lump of tissue. Women choose abortion for a variety of reasons, and gender is just one of those reasons. Aborting a female fetus is just the exercising of a right.

If you hadn't surmised by this point, I'm pro-life. Definitely and absolutely and whole-heartedly. I'm fully aware that this isn't the popular stance -- I realized that rather quickly at pro-life rallies my parents used to take us to as kids, where people driving by screamed nasty obscenities at us. It was all very educational.

No, I'm not going to assault you with grotesque images of infant limbs, or whip out arguments filled with CAPS letters and excessive exclamation marks. From what I've seen, these strategies do absolutely nothing but proliferate the idea that pro-lifers are crazy, possessed freedom-haters. I know all the arguments. I've read and researched them, back and forth, over and over… yet I remain a staunch supporter of the pro-life movement. No matter what angle you argue from, or what stats you have to back you up, the argument is always, and I repeat always going to come back to whether or not the fetus is considered a human life. Don't believe me? Read this book. And if you need a couple other things to think about, read this.

I believe a human life begins at conception. I believe that women's bodies were designed to bear children, and that's a blessing, not an inconvenience. I believe that there are consequences which are a result of our actions, and getting rid of the consequences by blurring moral lines and building convenient "rights"-centred arguments is irresponsible. I'm not claiming to be a deep thinker or philosopher here... just a couple of thoughts from a 24-year-old female pro-life lump of tissue.

"Even if it became illegal, abortion will happen anyway", they say. "Back alley "doctors" will be back in business and women will be putting themselves at more risk than ever." This is all true. Abortion will continue to happen, no matter what bills get passed in Supreme Courts. This isn't just a problem of legislation. It's a problem with the heart of our countries -- with the heart of all creation. We're sinful. The world is full of evil as a result of our sin. Pro-life rallies and pamphlets can only do so much. We must humbly continue to ask Jesus to change our hearts -- it's only through Him that these things can be accomplished.

January 23, 2012

french pressed.

My family is not a coffee family. My dad occasionally drank it -- after church on Sundays, at family reunions, that type of thing. I didn't start drinking coffee until high school... even then, it was only once a week at my Saturday job. University rolled around and I found myself developing a a taste for it. I started dating Wayne and coffee-scrabble dates became common. Before I had a chance to realize it, I became a coffee drinker.

I wouldn't say I've ever been addicted -- even now, I try to only have coffee on weekends (and drown myself in tea from Monday - Friday). However, marrying a guy who grew up in a family full of coffee drinkers has turned me into a bit of a coffee snob.

During all the gifting that happens when one gets married, we ended up with two french coffee presses -- one of which I immediately smashed (sorry Aunt Jess). Wayne makes some seriously good coffee with the french press. I do not. He's let me try a couple times but I've created nothing but poison; it's either been horribly weak or strong enough to coat your tongue in a layer of caffeinated silt. Needless to say I don't touch the french press anymore.

One night last week I was fancying a cup of coffee. Wayne wasn't home. I knew the french press and I weren't on the best of terms so instead went for the instant version. GAH! It tastes nothing like coffee! Such a disappointment. My standards are too high. It's kind of inconvenient. Why do french press skills elude me?!

January 21, 2012

theologically correct gift wrap

My husband is in the middle of his first year at seminary. He's working on his Masters of Divinity and plans to eventually become a pastor. He goes to school every day and learns about theology and dead languages and being missional and good preaching practices.

This means that I'm an official seminary wife, a role that few women get to experience. I wasn't sure how I'd fit into the role, but to be honest, once I got past the strange murmurings of Hebrew coming from the basement office, I came to the conclusion that it really can't be that different from being the wife of any type of graduate student.

I thought that until I went shopping for Christmas wrapping paper this past December. Little did I know that being in a fairly theological atmosphere on a daily basis would have an impact on my wrapping paper purchases. I literally stood at the bin of wrapping paper and thought, "Which paper will he not look at with a smirk and describe to me the different ways in which John Calvin would MMA Santa Claus?" Not seriously, of course. It's just a guy thing. A theological guy thing. Anyway. I avoided Santa and opted instead for the "Peace on Earth" paper.

Yes, I'm officially a seminary wife.

January 19, 2012

great expectations

Before getting married I perused the 'net to try and find some blog out there by a seminary wife, just to see if I could get a taste of what was to come. There wasn't much, which probably means that being a seminary wife isn't particularly blog-worthy. Fortunately I am not just a seminary wife...

Being aware that I'm the kind of person who needs to have a serious game plan before getting a project started, I realized I'd have to create a list of topics that I'd be able to write about once getting this blog up and running. The initial list of topics included:

- Being a seminary wife
- How I completely failed my gender in my great dislike of wedding planning

And that was it. The lack of interesting and relevant topics in this list should have convinced me right away that this blog was headed nowhere. But I thought some more, and here's what else you can possibly expect:

- Being a seminary wife (and humbly learning how to be a better one... eek.)
- How I completely failed my gender in my great dislike of wedding planning
- Faith. It's a big deal.
- World issues and current events that interest me, or freak me out, or both.
- The job hunt
- My drawing habits, and
- Any other miscellaneous adventures.

What not to expect in this blog:

- Crafts. I'm not crafty. I suck at crafts. If we had been graded on our craftiness in Calvinettes (GEMS for the girls of the current century) I'd still be in the fourth grade level burning the skin off my knuckles with that evil glue gun.
- Fantastic amateur photography. A lot of bloggers I follow have this great penchant for photography. Don't get me wrong, I love photos, and I take an obscene amount of them. But you can only do so much with a 5-year-old Canon pocket-sized deal that smokes when the flash is used (I kid you not).
- Consistency. But I'll try!

We'll see what happens...

January 18, 2012

to blog or not to blog

I've been going back and forth on the idea of starting a blog for some time now. It's a huge decision apparently, though I'm not sure why. If I had taken this long to decide what to do when my husband proposed... well... hmm.

At first I wanted to start a blog when I became engaged so that I could share all kinds of fun wedding planning activities, but it soon became painfully clear that I detest wedding planning. I figured it probably wouldn't be a good idea to share my thoughts and feelings online in a public place where small children could be exposed to the annoyed rants of an over-weddinged bride-to-be.

Needless to say, the blog didn't happen. The wedding planning did, however (yes, I survived!), and now over a year later, I'm married to a first year seminary student and have moved to a different country and still have this odd little desire to blog. But, like any self-respecting control freak, I had to make some lists to justify it.

Reasons why having a blog is a good idea:
1. I'm terrible at keeping up with my family and friends from home. No really... I'm terrible. Last weekend I finally talked to my cousin on skype after zero contact since October (way to spread the love, Suzanne). So anyway, blogging could be a nice way in which to update people without having to emotionally connect with them. Brilliant.
2. I stalk a lot of people's blogs, most of whom I don't know. It makes me feel slightly creepy. Perhaps having my own corner of the internet would make me feel a little less weird about following the daily adventures of complete strangers.
3. I have a lot of thoughts. Now the quality of these thoughts may or may not be worth writing about, but hey, I'm not making you read this. You came here all by yourself. Getting these thoughts out of my brain and onto paper (um, the screen...) would perhaps bring my mind back into an acceptable state of equilibrium which would benefit both my husband and myself.
4. I like drawing! And I like sharing what I draw. And I don't know how to do that other than through Christmas cards, and if you hadn't noticed, Christmas only comes once a year.
5. I like to write. I've always liked to write. And blogging = writing.

Reasons why having a blog is an awful, destined-to-detroy-me idea:
1. Sarcasm. I'm far too sarcastic. It's a really bad habit. As the saying goes, "sarcasm is the lowest form of wit". This could easily turn into "the true confessions of a sarcastic seminary wife" which would do nothing and help no one and offend everyone. Bad.
2. I have a really bad track record for blogging. This could very well be the last post I write. See failed attempts here and here.
3. I'd have to be open. The thought of being open makes my throat constrict and my palms get sweaty. ew.
4. Blogging will require discipline and commitment. These things scare me, which is weird, since I'm married and have committed the next 60+ years of my life to one man. Commitment and discipline shouldn't be an issue... but my journal, which I'm probably a week behind in, will attest to the fact that I suck at discipline.
5. I should be job searching right now. That being said, I've already spent 3+ hours today job searching and you can only do so much of that a day before you start losing your mind and sinking into the cesspool of inadequacy.

Final verdict: a blog was born.