Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Surreal life

This week, I used up approximately 1 minute and 45 seconds of my allotted 15 minutes of fame, and since I previously appeared in a 3 minute (?) video broadcast to whoever wanted to see it, I am concerned about the other 10 minutes and 15 seconds and what will transpire to use up more of the time. Hopefully nothing that involves any blood or gore, I am squeamish by nature. Perhaps I shall pen a movie script or play ... doubtful though, since I've never really been a writer. Speaking of plays, apparently this year's Bard on the Beach includes Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet. I could be convinced to go to the first one, but not to the second... I've always liked Shakespearian comedies better anyway.

My brother is moving to California soon. Sigh.

It snowed on my way to work today. I KNOW! Ridiculous! It is almost March, after all, which means it's almost April, and I'm almost another year older. Recently we celebrated the birthdays of some friends who were born a few months before me, and us high school buds reflected on some good times together.... until we realized that those good times were had more than 10 years ago. There's nothing like facing your age to bring you back to reality. I know I'm not "old" per se but there aren't many years left for me to say I'm in my twenties. By the by, does it bug anyone else when people use "per say" as the phrase? No? Just me, then.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Avalon sings this song... it's such a welcome reminder that even in our darkest days, even when we are burdened by our own sin, grace exists, God exists, and His love covers us.

Who here among us has not been broken
Who here among us is without guilt or pain
So oft’ abandoned by our transgressions
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

There are no strangers
There are no outcasts
There are no orphans of God
So many fallen, but hallelujah
There are no orphans of God

Come ye unwanted and find affection

Come all ye weary, come and lay down your head
Come ye unworthy, you are my brother
If such a thing as grace exists
Then grace was made for lives like this

O blessed Father, look down upon us

We are Your children, we need Your love
We run before Your throne of mercy
And seek Your face to rise above

Friday, February 23, 2007

If I could cook...

Technically I am not incapable of cooking. I just kind of hate it. I'm not that creative, and am not the type to dream up dishes using only what I have in my fridge. I cook on the rarest of occasions, and mostly for survival purposes, ie, when the hubby isn't here and I must fend for myself. You'll be shocked to learn, I'm sure, that I don't even make anything cool. Mostly noodles. So let's assume, for the purposes of this post, that I cannot cook.

But if I could.... I'd consider making these:

Those are crab cakes with panko crumbs. I first heard the word "panko" on Bobblehead's show, but let's not hold that against me. She sometimes has good ideas. Anyway. I was just thinking about crab cakes the other day, I don't know why.

I intended this to be a much longer post, but alas! it is not. Terrible, terrible.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stuck in the middle with you

If you're wondering where I have been for the last few days, it's a well-known place called Illness. All last week I had a cold, but nothing too severe. Then on Monday night, I developed the cold's nasty relative, the flu (I don't really care if they aren't really related. I only got a degree in Microbiology, it doesn't mean I remember anything). Meanwhile, the cold hasn't exactly gone away. I've been doing everything possible to improve but it's been an ugly couple of days. Since Tuesday I have only eaten half a bowl of noodles, one bowl of congee, and a few cookies. Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes. I'll be back to my sarcastic self in no time.

I miss Chile and not only because the weather there was steaming hot... I miss the friends we met and the happy kids we saw. One kid I met didn't want to open his box... he opened it to show me, we both looked inside, he pulled out one item, put it back, and quickly shut the box again. Maybe he wanted to savour the moment... not overwhelming himself with all of the toys at once, but just looking at one thing at a time. Or maybe he thought I'd take it all away if I looked too much :) I gave him a lollipop (should we debate whether it makes sense to give kids so much candy?) and he gave me the biggest smile. I met another kid who received a hat that said "Canada" in his box and he promptly took off his own hat and put the new one on. I met one family who asked me what the note in their daughter's box meant. Given that my Spanish is pretty limited, it was a bit of a challenge ... but I think I managed to eke out that it was a box from an 8 year old girl in Canada who said Merry Christmas to her new friend... and they were thrilled.

I think as adults we can often become jaded and cynical... we sometimes receive gifts with more attitude than gratitude (shockingly... I didn't even intend that to rhyme).. we forget to be thankful for God's blessings in our lives, choosing instead to think about the challenges we face instead.. we might not even really believe that a shoebox from Canada can change a child's life in another country far away... but if there is one thing I learned from Chile, it's that God is so much bigger than we give him credit for, that he is amazing and all-knowing and has the perfect timing for everything. I almost can't wait until November when we get to pack boxes again!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Rolling my eyes

Am I the only one who thinks Valentine's is kind of a trumped up occasion... the hubby bought me some beautiful flowers (not roses) (and not delivered to my workplace) (and not on Valentine's Day itself) but other than that we didn't make much of the day. I hate sappiness and I really hate contrived sappiness. Perhaps I am just becoming a bitter, cynical person in my old age... it just seems like so many people out there, friends of mine included, equate romance with a big celebration of Valentine's Day.... I don't really understand why it is such a big deal.... well anyway. Enough ranting. To each his own, right.

Yesterday on the morning radio show, the hosts were talking about wedding invitations, a subject near and dear to my heart ever since hubby and I painstakingly and, I'll admit, somewhat stupidly created by hand our simple, yet extremely complicated, wedding invites two years ago. The topic of the hour was that someone had received an invitation that, at the bottom, said "No boxed gifts please." Although it'd be nice if this meant "Put all gifts in bags, please", clearly the real meaning is "We want money. Just money. Step away from that toaster, that coffee maker, that knicknack that will have no place to sit, that picture frame, and give us money." [I did say cynical, didn't I.]

I once attended a wedding where the couple put "Monetary gifts preferred" and despite my utter disgust, I gave them a cash gift (not a big one) (I was poor!) Frankly, in our culture, almost everyone gives money anyway so it's perceived strangely when someone dares to write such things on a wedding invite. But maybe the traditional rules of etiquette have fallen by the wayside, and hey, maybe it is time for things to change. I tend to think that while I'll bring a gift to the wedding, I'm not obligated to do so, so unless I ask by inquiring about a registry or what gift is preferred, please don't tell me what to bring. Maybe others out there have different opinions. Emily Post is, I'm sure, turning in her grave at this new wave of wediquette (that is, if she is indeed no longer alive.) I admit, I am amused by the wording of "No boxed gifts"... it certainly makes one stop and think for a moment. ("Does that mean I should take the toaster out of the box?")

More ranting... many of you know that we won a case recently.... Well, surprise! It's moving on up the levels of court. You know, since I have nothing better to do than to keep working on it. Sob!

Please pray for my big brother as he looks for a place to live for next month. Changes are always hard to deal with. And for us too as we adjust!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's Valentine's Day I won't post about Chile ... at least not in this post...

Today I was listening to the morning radio station that I always have on during my trek to work, and they decided to replay what they called the on-air proposal that went wrong. I didn't get to hear the entire thing, just the replay, but essentially, a guy phoned up and wanted to propose to his girlfriend on the air. They got her on the phone, told her they were live, and off he went. He started to say some nice stuff but then he said, "Remember when I gave you a yellow rose, a white rose, and a red rose? Well the yellow rose symbolized our friendship and the white rose symbolizes your purity... " and that's where I pinpointed the problem. [There's a chance I misheard what he said about the roses... if so.. it doesn't affect my opinion.. so shush.] Long story short, they had been dating two months, and the girl was shocked and felt she had to say no, it was too early, she was having fun but didn't know if it was a long term relationship,. etc. I kinda felt bad for the guy, but more because the humiliation, oh the humiliation of having that aired... [and subsequently blogged about]

The radio hosts then embarked on a discussion of whether people should date for a certain time before getting engaged. One said, there is no time, I've seen arranged marriages where the people have never met, and the marriage lasts 30, 40, 50 years. The other said, you've gotta date for at least a year or more.. or at least move in together.. and the third said, sometimes you JUST KNOW. Then the first one said, yes, it's fate, it's destiny sometimes.

Obviously, I don't subscribe to the belief that if you don't live together first, you won't have a successful marriage - although I was a tiny bit shocked to find out that MANY people out there hold this belief - and I clearly don't believe in "fate" or "destiny" either (sorry, Lionel Richie, Xtina, whoever else sang a song about destiny...) Other than that, I saw valid points in what everyone was saying, not that I would tell someone they hadn't been dating long enough to get engaged, of course.

I used to be so frustrated when people would tell me, "You will just know when you meet the right person.. you always just know." I mean, what an unsatisfactory explanation. I've been asked if I "just knew" that the hubby and I were meant to be... and I never really know what to say. We dated a long time before getting engaged/married, so clearly I didn't just jump into things.

I guess one's perception of these romantic things has to do with whether one is a romantic person or not. I always just think that by God's grace and in his time, the hubby and I met, and by his continued mercy, we made it through what was not always an easy dating relationship... and through daily efforts on our part and reliance on God... we work on building our marriage. I certainly couldn't have agreed to marry him after only two months of dating, but then again, I was only 18 or so at the time.

This post doesn't have as much of a point as it did when I started to compose it in my head, but alas, pointless posts are still bound to appear on my blog once in a while (or all the time.) Anyway, to those of you out there still looking for "the one", have you seen that Jet Li movie? Just kidding. I offer what encouragement I can. Just remember, don't ask someone to marry you until you know he or she will say yes. It's just all sorts of awkward otherwise.

Final note: yesterday the hubby and I went grocery shopping at one of the Asian supermarkets... I wanted to get some cute red envelopes for the "real" New Year... there was some loud Chinese opera music playing and I distinctly heard the woman sing, in a high screech, "Faaaa... kewww.." It took me at least five minutes to recover from the laughter.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Apparently I'm the only one amused by my last post

Far be it that I should blog for my own amusement!

As demanded by someone who doesn't even live here any more, please find below a post about Chile. Some of you who do live here will already have heard this story, so bear with me.

At one of the distributions, possibly our third distribution of the week, we were in this gym-like building. We got to the site and immediately, some of the local church folks began helping us unload the cartons of shoeboxes. As an aside, I felt kind of useless as I couldn't really lift these cartons by myself.... must try to develop more core strength :) We had packed the bus pretty full of boxes, anticipating there would be around 700 kids at the distribution. Well, we got inside the gym and found maybe... 400 kids. See below.

See the floor space? Because eventually you could not see it at all! It was standing room only...

and so our team leader told us to pray and pray and pray.... as we did not think we had brought enough boxes. So, we put our faith in God, gathered in groups around the cartons, and prayed that God would somehow multiply the shoeboxes, that there would be a box for every kid. Well, we prayed, and more kids kept coming, and we kept praying....

Eventually, we had to arrange the distribution outdoors as there were way too many kids to give out boxes inside the building... so the NLT helped us to usher kids out the doors according to gender and age group. Such chaos! I handed out lollipops to keep the noisy kids quiet (nothing like a little sugar to quiet a child down, eh parents?) and then the box-handing-out process began....

Well, in the end, we gave out slightly over 900 boxes. Some kids had to put their names down to get boxes the following Monday (as part of OCC procedure, every kid gets a box if they come to the distribution - the pastors will arrange a day to get more boxes for the kids... no one gets left out.) but even though we had thought we only had 700-800 boxes, we gave out over 900. I believe God did multiply those shoeboxes, but the amazing part is that he kept bringing more and more kids to the distribution program. Over 1000 kids heard God's word that day, probably some for the first time ever. One of our team members shared the gospel message, through a translator, using the "wordless book" idea... some of you probably know... it's the book of colours, Black = our sin, White = forgiveness, etc. She pointed to each colour on the box she had brought. Many kids raised their hands when asked if they wanted to accept Christ.

Sometimes people believe that OCC doesn't really provide a solution to the world's poverty - they think, how can a shoebox change anything? Well, to some degree they are right - a shoebox doesn't help to lift a kid out of the circumstances they are in. But the shoebox comes with a message of hope - that the same God who created the child who sent the box also created the child who is receiving the box... that God offers salvation through his son Jesus Christ... and that our lives can be changed by accepting Christ. The best part for me, even more so than watching kids open their boxes, was seeing them come forward to make a decision for Christ. OCC's local teams follow up with all of the kids who have accepted Christ, they are invited to come for Sunday School-type lessons which they can complete and get a certificate for. By reaching kids, we can also reach their parents.

Next time I'll talk more about seeing the kids open their boxes! That was definitely exciting.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Heard by the world

The other day, we were watching the Sportsnet broadcast and I believe it was the 1st intermission or somewhere around that time ... the screen went black, the broadcasters' voices seemed to disappear, and instead, the viewers were treated to a conversation of which all I can remember is...

- "Oh really?"
- "This f--ing thing won't work"
- (silence)

and I gasped at the profanity! And then I laughed.

Then yesterday, I was listening to Praise on my way home and it was the Martha Hadley show. She often starts taking a call by saying "Hi there, I'm Martha Hadley" ... but I guess the show cut off weirdly because what happened was...

- "Thanks for listening... Hi there, I'm Martha Hadley"
- "Wanna know a way to get rid of your acne? Well, I'm here to tell you about a new product..."

Obviously just the untimely insertion of an ad, but my gosh did I laugh. I even tried to phone the hubs to tell him this amusing story but he was already on the phone. Something more important than getting rid of a radio broadcaster's zits, I guess.

Note: I don't actually think she has zits. I'm just kidding. Don't sue me!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Dios te bendiga

I wish I could understand prayers in Spanish - they sound so melodic and full of praise.

"Dios te bendiga" means "God bless you", by the way.

I really must share a story with you that serves to remind me of how God moves and changes people's hearts. While we were in Chile, we took a charter bus everywhere. Chile is divided into 12 regions and we were in the ninth region, but had to travel around the region to get to the various distributions. Most of the places were around 1-3 hours away, so that meant a lot of time on the bus with the same people and the same driver. We prayed on the bus at least four times a day, for safety, in thanksgiving, for the shoeboxes, for the kids, for each other, etc. After the first distribution, our leader asked us to pray for the bus driver, who he assumed was not a believer, since one of the NLT pastors spent the entire bus ride speaking to the driver about God. So of course, we prayed.

We actually had two bus drivers, one for the main bus and one for the smaller bus that held a portion of our group. Let me say, these were fantastic bus drivers. Every time we needed to haul stuff out, they were right there helping to load and unload stuff. They even joined in our fun times, like at the ocean or swimming in the river or playing soccer - just all around nice guys.

Anyway, on the second to last day (or so) we received good news - our bus driver accepted Christ into his heart! I was AMAZED. This wasn't even a fellow we had really concentrated our focus on, but through observing us and speaking to the NLT leaders, he came to see that he needed God and so he prayed for salvation. I mean, get out! The bus driver!

When it came time for all the goodbye speeches, he stood up on the bus and expressed to us how our group had impacted him. He said that in his work, he meets tourists every day but that he was so glad to have met us in particular, and to have come to know God... and he wanted our prayers so that he could share God with his family.

Our God is so amazing, so much bigger than we sometimes give him credit for.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Hope for the broken-hearted

We're back from the OCC trip to Chile!

There's so much to say, I doubt one blog will suffice. Let me first say that Chile is a beautiful country. As most people know, it is long and thin - it's got the Andes mountains on one side, and the Pacific Ocean on the other side. Throughout the week, it struck most of us that Chile is sort of like Canada. Chile is a wealthy country by Latin American standards, although there is much poverty still, a lot of hidden poverty. But the amazing part was the hospitality of the people throughout the country.

We were hosted by Operation Christmas Child's National Leadership Team in Chile. There is an NLT for each country in which shoeboxes are distributed. This team was composed of four fabulous people whose smiles and hugs I miss already. Their passion for the work of Operation Christmas Child is so strong... they work tirelessly to make sure that local churches are trained for the distributions, and they arrange for all the boxes to arrive and be transported within Chile. These are pastors who aren't even paid for the work they do, in many circumstances. Yet they gave of their hearts and of their time to serve us. They hosted us, gave us a place to stay, people to cook for us... they smiled all day long, prayed for us, and put up with our (really weak) Spanish. We couldn't have asked for a better "family" to meet.

I want to share a story with you all. Three or four weeks ago, the three-year-old daughter of one of the pastors on the NLT was in a car accident. Actually, she was run over by a car while her parents were preparing to start the church service that day... it was her third birthday. Her family found her on the road with some rather awful injuries to her head. Her forehead was completely torn, her nose was crushed... but by the grace of God, miraculously she survived and recovered incredibly well. She had surgeries to repair the damage and she has some (barely noticeable) scars ... but for the most part she is a happy, cute little girl who you wouldn't know was in an accident at all. She has some mood issues and suffers from some nightmares where she remembers the accident - but wow - I can't believe how God has healed her. It's truly amazing.

I'll share more soon... when I get my thoughts together! Hasta luego...