April 30, 2012

culture shock.

I'm Canadian. I'm currently living in the USA because my husband is doing the international school thing. It's been weird. Not entirely weird, but there's been some weirdness that has taken place. Mostly it's non-weird, so don't be offended, lovely and delightful Americans. We think you're exceedingly nice. But we're different. And that's okay. So, some things:


1. You have strange traffic lights. They're so much nicer on poles.

2. When I ask where the washroom is, you reply condescendingly, "Well, I don't know what that is, but there's a restroom over there."

3. You don't have a queen. No offence, but... kinda lame, guys. Get on that whole monarchy thing. And yes, I'm aware you fought hard for your independence from the monarchy back in 1777, but you're probably regretting it, because now you're wishing you had better connections with William and Kate. In fact, they were just over at my mum's place for tea last week. 

4. You don't have a queen on your currency. Nor do you have fascinating wild animals on your
currency. Also lame.

5. You say "Good deal" to everything. It's not a good deal. It's just good. There's no deals going on whatsoever! I haven't made a deal with you! arghhhhh

6. I can't spell my name out loud without receiving a look of panicked confusion: "Wait! What is this zed you speak of? Do you mean zee?"

7. You do not sell Tenderflake in your grocery stores. This makes me wonder how anyone anywhere in the US ever makes an acceptable pie crust. Yes, I'm a lard snob.

8. WHY IS THERE HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IN EVERYTHING?!?? Seriously. Everything. I've taken to eating plain yogurt because all the other yogurt is 2/3 corn syrup. It tastes silly. When we go back to Canada we eat heaps of high fructose corn syrup-free yogurt just because we can. Who woulda thought.

9. American flour is just not working out for me. I'm not a baker extraordinaire or anything, but I like a good scone every now and then. I've tried about 5 different brands of flour -- including the most expensive kind (don't worry, it was big time on sale) -- and they have all failed me. Recipes that were light and fluffy at home are dead in the water here. It's hard on my little baking ego. Sidenote: you do not have the queen on your money, but you have a mythical king on your flour. Hm. 

10. Tetley Tea is the best tea ever. In Canada it's one of the main brands of hot tea. In America it's considered a European delicacy and they sell it for a ridikalis amount of money. And that is very sad.

So a large quantity of these are having to do with food. That may or may not say something about me and my interests. I'll let you decide. But all in all, despite my little complaints, this really has been a lovely place to live. This state we're in is beautiful and huge and has an extraordinary amount of places to explore, the people are friendly and hospitable, but best of all... we're only a short drive from the border. Phew. :)

April 26, 2012

fight the Lord's battles.

Wayne and I are at a beautiful place in our lives. We're almost six years into our relationship, and we've been married for nine months out of the total 72. We've settled into our wee little home well and spend our Sunday afternoons playing catch, our Saturday mornings eating pancakes, and our Friday nights watching British period drama. During the week I go to work so that we can keep buying groceries and filling up the gas tank, and Wayne goes to seminary so that he can keep learning about missional ministry and ancient Hebrew.

It's a comfortable little world. Sure, Wayne's homework gets to be overwhelming at some points, and like any other seminary couple in the world, we'd feel better if our bank account was a little more full than it currently is, and obviously we miss being close to our families, but all things considered, we're in a really lovely place. But, like Proverbs says, there's a time for everything, and I'm pretty sure that it won't always be this way.

Our future lies in The Ministry. When I think of life in The Ministry, my mind cycles through a variety of scenarios. Sometimes I see us in a church in Manitoba standing beside a bunch of weathered old farmers singing Charles Wesley hymns in a clapboard sanctuary. Sometimes I see us in in a Toledo suburb making flowers out of coffee filters with a bunch of 6-year-olds in a red brick church, circa 1965. Or we could end up in some ghetto of Atlanta, getting our southern accents on and working with hardcore gangsters. Or we could even end up in Toronto, wading through the seas of atheism and relativism and pluralism and apathy... so many possible roads to take.

But sometimes I see something completely different: Wayne and I, hand in hand, standing on the edge of a cliff, white-knuckled and wide-eyed, looking out into an enormous valley in which a fierce and bloody battle rages. There are moments when I feel a little thrill to think of jumping into the mess of this world, but a whole lot of the time I feel... how shall we say... a leeeeeetle freaked out.

Charles Spurgeon always makes me feel better. He writes,

"We may feel in these days that we are losing the battle and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift His sword we do not know what may become of the church of God in our time; but let us be courageous and bold.  Seldom  has there been a time like this as biblical Christianity trembles on the brink of capitulation to pluralism and empty religious routine... The Savior is, by His Spirit, still on earth; let this encourage us. He is always ever in the middle of the fight, and therefore the outcome of the battle is not in doubt... Turn your anxious gaze from the battle below, where, enshrouded in smoke, the faithful fight in garments rolled in blood... The battle is not yours but God's."

I am not a brave warrior. The girl who shudders at the sight of a spider is not a warrior. But thank the Almighty that Jesus is... and that's what will give us the courage to jump off our cliff of seminary life comfort and into the chaos below. 

April 23, 2012

citrus x paradisi

We all know how much I love spring. The one downside? Grapefruit season ends! And I really truly love grapefruit. Not even for weird diet purposes. I just love grapefruit... almost more than any other food.

Some fun grapefruit facts:

- It's rich in the dietary insoluble fibre pectin which helps protect your intestines from toxins! Pectin has also been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels.
- It is FULL of vitamins A and C. These have antioxidant properties which are essential for vision health, and also help to protect the body from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Grapefruit is also full of potassium, which is important for cells and the balance of bodily fluids, and also counters the effects of too much sodium.
- Research shows that grapefruit is full of lycopene! I do not know what this is! But apparently it's a good thing.
- Grapefruit can inhibit pharmaceutical drugs, so much so that there's a list of DO NOT COMBINE WITH GRAPEFRUIT drugs. haha, weird.
- A grapefruit is 75% juice! Which I also love.

Around this time of year all the grapefruit gets smaller and more wrinkly and becomes exorbitantly expensive. And this makes me so sad that I apparently have to write a post about it. And now I have to go make some tea (which does not go well with grapefruit).

April 18, 2012

on being a PW.

We've been going to our church here in Michigan for about 7 months, but we're still running into people in the congregation whom we have not yet formally met. This past Sunday I was able to meet a few new people, and one older gent I was talking to was delighted to learn that my husband was in seminary on the journey to become a pastor. "That's wonderful!" he said. "You're going to make a lovely pastor's wife, I can already tell."

The only way that this man could have been able to tell this was if he had been blessed with the gift of prophecy. I mean, we only talked for 3 minutes. How can you gauge a woman's level of Pastor's Wife Prowess by only talking with her for 3 minutes?

I have no idea what kind of a pastor's wife I'm going to be. I'm perfectly aware of the stereotypical PW who plays piano and runs the kid's programs and runs the youth programs and runs the <enter whatever term you want here> programs, who wears matching pantsuits with matching cardigans and drinks tomato juice and has naturally well-coiffed hair and home schools all the children with patience and kindness (truthfully, I don't think she actually exists). There's also the other end of the spectrum -- the rebel group of PWs who have absolutely nothing to do with their husband's calling whatsoever and tell their friends that he's a motivational speaker on weekends.

I don't like tomato juice. I can play Fur Elise on the piano really well -- but that's it. That's the only song I've learned. I'm a lousy teacher -- like, really lousy -- sorry, children's ministry. Sarcasm is my main teaching method... keep me away from the 5-year-olds. But I'm also not shying away from the fact that Wayne's going to be a pastor. I think it's a beautiful and rare honour to be called to ministry -- a challenging call, yes, but an amazing one. I'm going to try to embrace it, and grow in it, and gather all the wisdom and advice that I can... when I'm not feeling lazy, that is. Sigh.

There's more reasons why I'm not going to be the best pastor's wife in the world. Endless reasons. Just the fact that I come from the line of Adam means that I'm going to be a terrible pastor's wife. It's that annoying sin thing.

I recently received an email from the landlord who rented out her basement to me during my college days, and who also happens to be a pastor's wife. She was inquiring as to how we were doing, and wrote, "the wonderful thing about you being finished with school is that you can pray for [Wayne] more consistently and with lots of knowledge for his needs as he studies."

I think this is probably exactly what the best kind of PW is. I heard somewhere that a pastor's wife is the closest thing that a pastor will ever have to a pastor, if that makes sense. If I'm praying for him and his work constantly, keeping him accountable, asking him hard questions, and knowing that God is at work through me to benefit him, it won't matter if I can't put together the Christmas Pageant or accidentally tell a 4-year-old that her Sunday School craft is kickass. A pastor's wife is just that -- a wife. And by the grace of God, I pray that I'll remember that throughout our ministry together.

April 16, 2012

seminary dudes

This weekend we had a bunch of Wayne's classmates over for dinner on Saturday night. As you can probably imagine, having a bunch of seminary dudes hanging out in your living room for a couple hours leads to a fairly interesting evening.

The night began on a violent note when Wayne, seeing that a particular classmate of his was at the door, raced out of the back of the house and shanked* said classmate from behind. Without a knife, obviously. The evening progressed with less violence as the night wore on; conversation sprinkled with reformed theology, how sore they all were from playing seminary soccer, Karl Barth, and a couple good renditions of seminary professor impersonations. A sampling of some random quotes throughout the night:

"Jurgen Moltmann? Are you kidding? I wrote an amazing paper on Jurgen Moltmann."
"I am going to slap you."
"Come down to my library and I will convert you to John Stott."
"You commentary hoarder!"
"Dude. Awesome God story."
"Are you mocking me?"
"I can't wait til you're a pastor. I'm gonna come to your church and liturgically dance all the way down the centre aisle."
I'm very certain that none of the guys present will change up their pastoral calling for liturgical dance lessons, and I'm glad of that. It's a big comfort to know that there are young men around who are passionate about the gospel and are preparing to leap into that scary land of ministry, ready to lead the next generation in celebrating our salvation... while shanking each other from behind.

*shanked: Prison slang for getting stabbed with a homemade knife. In the young seminary man's case, it is perhaps more suitably described as sneaking up behind the victim and pretending to stab said victim. A great deal of manly yelling and shouting is required.

April 12, 2012

the best way to end a holiday

We spent a week back in Canada with our families over Easter and had a really lovely time. We ate up the hours playing board games and cooing at babies and pruning fruit trees and chatting over Tim Hortons coffee and going for 7 AM walks on Easter morning with the sun bursting over the horizon of the newly turned over fields... well, the 7AM walk was just me and my little dog friend. Because I had to get outside. Because I'm horrifically allergic to something in Ontario and the cold morning air felt good on my itchy eyeballs. Urgh.

As lovely as it is to be "home", it's always nice to come home home after a holiday. Especially when you get to come home to a basement office whose carpet is completely soaked from the Mysterious Leaking Pipes.

The Mysterious Leaking Pipes have been a source of frustration to us for many months now. Whenever we leave for longer than a couple days, the Mysterious Leaking Pipes apparently miss us and cry and cry and cry and soak the basement office carpet with their tears. The plumber cannot figure it out. He and our Maintenance Man made a big mess this week trying to figure it out. And then they decided to cut a big hole in our wall. But they didn't figure it out.

But I'm okay with this. I'm just glad to have indoor plumbing, even if it's over-emotional. Small things, my friends, small things.

April 07, 2012

easter, a goddess, paganism, and Jesus. yay!

I recently found out that the term "Easter" has nothing to do with Jesus. Its roots are in Anglo-Saxon paganism and was originally the name of a goddess of the dawn who was celebrated during the month of April. The goddess faded in popularity over time, but the name stuck. We celebrate the fact that Jesus died and rose to buy us back from sin and death, then give the celebration a name that blatantly illustrates the history of our idolatry, rebellion, and sin. Seems like an odd pairing.

It's certainly thought-provoking, though, and an excellent reminder about who we are and where we're coming from. We're humans who look to anything but heaven for answers to our questions and help for our problems. We're well-practiced at worshipping ourselves, our successes, our possessions. We push Jesus out of the way until He's convenient. He knows all this. He knew all this 2,000 years ago, but He still went through the pain, torture, rejection and humiliation of that crucifixion. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday, all.

April 03, 2012

spring = sports

Spring is my favourite time of year. The dramatic black skies, the sharp silhouettes of damp tree trunks against the gradually greening grass, the hopeful tips of tulips poking out of the earth-- lovely.

Spring is also Wayne's favourite time of year... but not because of what I've just listed. For him, this time of the year is when the annual progression of sports reaches an all-time high. The NCAA Basketball Tournament occupies most of March. The NHL season is winding down and Stanley Cup hopefuls start growing playoff beards. Most importantly, spring training is in full swing for Major League Baseball teams down in Florida and Arizona -- the Toronto Blue Jays are doing mighty fine, by the way. Wayne loves this time of year, and being married has only increased my awareness of this. He loves the murmur of a ballpark crowd, the smell of a leather glove, the sound of the seams hitting the mitt. Baseball occupies his thoughts -- stats are often running through his head, anticipation for the home opener has him distracted -- such a sports guy.

More than I thought, apparently. This morning while trying to wake him up he started trying to say something in his half-asleep state...

Suzanne: Wayne, it's 8:30.
Wayne: Ughhhh... mfyoreharmzert.
S: What?
W: ...My forearms hurt.
S: What? Why do your forearms hurt?
W: Spring training... throwing the ball too much...

So apparently he's been spring training with the Jays in his sleep. That takes some seriously mad skill (which Wayne has lots of). I'm married to sermon-writing-baseball-playing-stat-quoting-Jesus-loving dude. And that is wonderful.

April 02, 2012

the wedding pt 4: the invitations.

As has already been established, wedding planning as a whole was not my forte. There were, however, certain parts of it that got me excited, and these particular parts involved me putting a pencil to paper and drawing the evening away.

I had decided early on that I would draw as much of my wedding as I could. Unfortunately there's only so much you can draw. You can't draw the flowers. You can't draw the centrepieces. Nor can you draw your bridesmaids' dresses... although... I guess you could try. But be thankful I didn't, bridesmaids.

The biggest drawing project I took on was the invitation suite. Yes, a suite. Until starting research for my wedding invites I wasn't aware that the collection of info you stuff into the envelope was referred to as a suite, as if it were a fancy hotel room or some intense musical composition. It's funny, the things you learn while planning a wedding. I feel so much more... cultured.

My invitation suite research led me to believe that any attempt I might make to create my own hand-drawn invitations would result in complete and utter failure. There are a great deal of beautiful things online that encourage you to wallow in a pit of self-doubt and pity regarding your own levels of creative skill. After spending far too much time on sites like this and sighing over creations like these...

...Wayne took me by the shoulders, told me to get off the internet machine and start drawing. Thank you Wayne.

After lots of sketching and experimentation with my wedding's colour palette (which didn't actually ever exist because who needs a colour palette when you can just throw colours together and hope they look good?), this was the final result.

No, my dress did not look this cool, but thank you for asking.

Thankfully I heard no tales of lost or misdirected guests! Hurrah! Thank you, dear little map.

More deets...

And the all-important RSVP card. I opted for the postcard version. Envelopes = unnecessary extra cost. Plus, I figured the people at the post office could use a little sunshine in their day. If I worked at a post office I'd totally want to read people's postcards. And that's probably why I don't work at a post office.

You'll notice that the speech bubbles on the front are empty. We let the guests fill those in. You're getting dozens of these RSVP cards back in the mail, you might as well get some entertainment out of it. The results were varied... mostly cute, often funny, sometimes inappropriate... always amusing. We hung them up at the reception like this:

And that was that. I sent them out -- Canada Post didn't fail me, despite their silly strike -- the RSVPs returned (mostly on time), and the wedding happened. And I learned what an invitation suite was and became extra cultured. Oh la la.