It seems like I just took one. But it's time for another.
We are taking some time off, even though summer is over (as we never did get a decent summer holiday in this year). Next weekend I'm giving two workshops at the Inscribe Fall Conference in Edmonton. We're combining that with some family time. Should be fun. (We're just praying the snow doesn't fly on some of those mountain passes.)
And if you think of it, you can pray for me on Saturday the 29th. I'm a tad nervous.
Photo: Canoeing on the Nicomekl, Surrey BC.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
This rather surrealistic mural is on the back of the rink and recreation center in the Whalley section of Surrey.
I first noticed it from the chair in my dentist's office several years ago. Thus when I went to the dentist a few weeks ago, I made sure I had my camera with me just in case the mural was still there.
It is. Perhaps a little the worse for graffiti - but the athletes are still laboring, the pretty girls still beaming down on passersby in all their blue glory.
To see more shots of this mural go here.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
When outbursts of anger and drips of gossip
are dribbled down the front of my shirt
and beneath them I see the stubborn stains
of a critical spirit, a judgmental attitude
pride and ambition
When my shoes grow heavy
with worldly gumbo – profanity-laden talk
and suggestive humor,
the backs of my legs
spattered with TV levity, erotica,
web-surfing and mouse-play
When, on close inspection
even my sleeves and collar
are dingy with anxiety, fear
negativity and unbelief
It’s time to visit the Word Wash
Blot the dribbles
“Against you and you only have I sinned...”
Pre-wash the stains
“Cleanse me with hyssop...”
Scrape off the mud, spot-wash the spatter
“How can a young man keep his way clean
By living according to Your Word.”
Take it all off and imbue with Word water:
“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth...”
soak, lave, slosh
“Be anxious for nothing...”
“Perfect love drives out fear...”
“...cleansing her by the washing with water
through the Word and to present her to himself
as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle
or any other blemish.”
(NIV Scriptures - Psalm 51:4,7; Psalm 119:9; Philippians 4:6; 1 John 4:18; Ephesians 5:26,27)
© 2004 - V. Nesdoly
Friday, September 21, 2007
A new home means new walks. We haven't found many to replace our favorites from the past years. There is one, though, that we are beginning to take regularly. It's near Fort Langley, called the Fort to Fort Trail and is longish, divided into sections one can access from various places. Several times we've gone to Derby Reach Provincial Park and started our walk there, walking to the Heritage house.
This walk goes along the Fraser River which has a different feel entirely to the rivers we've walked before (the Nicomekl and Serpentine). For one thing, it's way bigger and wider. And it feels no-nonsense. It's a working river. I'm sure ducks dabble on the edges. But one's attention is mostly drawn to the important things that are happening in the middle where tugboats are king...
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I was at our church ladies fun and practical event "Simplify in September" last night. We were bombarded with ideas of how to simplify our spaces and our lives by the "Organizing Pro" Marcia Ramsland. Then later the 'Decorating Coach' Susan Wells gave us ideas on how to jazz up any bathroom - and for very little money.
I didn't want to miss this event for one main reason. In the house selling / buying adventure that I've just been on, I loved the clean lines of my old home after I had put my efforts (inexpert as they were) into staging it. Once I had cleared all the rooms of clutter and then put some daily effort into keeping countertops and surfaces clean, the place felt serene and lovely to come home to.
Now that we're in our new place, I want that feeling to continue. Trouble is, I've kept lots of the dear trinkets and photos which filled up my old home. I need help to get and maintain a balance. I need some principles and 'permissions' re what I hang onto and what I release.
That's why, yesterday, I bought all three of Marcia Ramsland's books: Simplify Your Time, Simplify Your Life and Simplify Your Space (they were sold, after all, at a bargain price for three).
Marcia and Susan have collaborated in the most recent book Simplify Your Space. After Marcia's simplifying tips, Susan adds easy and economical hints for decorative touches. Very cool!
Marcia is currently on a book tour, promoting this latest book. If she's in your area, give her event a visit. And bring a friend. She ended her talk last night with a thoughtful explanation of how we can also unclutter our inner lives by giving them to Jesus. Altogether it was an inspiring evening. And I hope my house shows the fruits of it real soon!
Check out Marcia Ramsland's free articles on simplifying
And don't miss this one: 10 Steps to Build Your Website to Capture Media Interest
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
We had a visit yesterday from a very special family...the one we met briefly at the Vancouver Children's Hospital back in March.
The little just-born munchkin I took this picture of back then is now this radiant six-month-old.
And Adele, who is now three and is this week having her annual checkup at Children's is this grown-up little girl.
You may recall Adele was born in August of 2004 with hydrocephalus. Soon after birth she had surgery and a shunt was put in. They later discovered she was blind.
Her eyesight continues to improve. She can now see, recognize and name colors. Another favorite thing of hers is to study stairs. She needs to see things close-up. I showed her the picture I took of her little sister on my camera screen and asked her who it was. "Rebekah," she said, without hesitation.
Though she is still not walking, she scoots around on her bum efficiently, thank you very much. She talks a lot and has a great memory. She 'read' me one of her board books word perfect and when I read her a longer book and stopped here and there waiting for her to fill in the blanks - no problem. Bonnie, my niece and her mom said she learned 15 Bible verses this summer.
Adele is no longer so shy. Last time she freaked out when I picked her up. This time as we played with our old collection of Fisher Price people and blocks, she snuggled close and called me by name, then handed me her favorite 'Blue Teddy' to hold.
Bonnie and Duane are patience personified. I can't imagine better parents for these two little girls. From a traumatic start three years ago, they are building a beautiful family with God's grace glistening all over it.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I will have nothing to do with a God who cares only occasionally. I need a God who is with us always, everywhere, in the deepest depths as well as the highest heights. It is when things go wrong, when good things do not happen, when our prayers seem to have been lost, that God is most present. We do not need the sheltering wings when things go smoothly. We are closest to God in the darkness, stumbling along blindly.
- Madeleine L'Engle
Photo: Treehouses at Stillwood Camp, Cultus Lake (where our choir spent the weekend in retreat).
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
1. The north-facing balcony, where we eat breakfast and lunch on these beautiful end-of-summer days. For the first little while here, every time out there I felt like I was on vacation.
2. The brightness. We have lots of windows.
3. My office. I can close the door, tuck myself entirely away from everyone, and concentrate!
4. Being 7 minutes from church. This morning I'm planning to attend Women by Design - and walk there.
5. Living in Langley. Shopping is nearby. No more 20-minute drives just to get to a mall.
6. The piano in the den, garage level. I can bumble around on it without bothering anyone and keeping them from watching TV.
7. We're allowed to garden after all! Our yard is very overgrown. I've already spent some hours pulling weeds and battling a stand of mint. (Have you ever seen the subway system of roots that mint puts out - amazing! I'm expecting a protracted war.)
8. Logan Creek and the pretty path that follows it just five minutes from here.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Ministering as Opportunity surrounds us. This does not mean selecting our surroundings, it means being very selectly God's in any haphazard surroundings which He engineers for us. The characteristics we manifest in our immediate surroundings are indications of what we will be like in other surroundings.
The things that Jesus did were of the most menial and commonplace order, and this is an indication that it takes all God's power in me to do the most commonplace things in His way. Can I use a towel as He did? Towels and dishes and sandals, all the ordinary sordid things of our lives, reveal more quickly than anything what we are made of. It takes God Almighty Incarnate in us to do the meanest duty as it ought to be done.
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Monday, September 10, 2007
This weekend we attended our first Langley Good Times Cruise-In. This fun community event features vintage car displays - hundreds and hundreds. The main streets get closed to traffic so the crowds can oogle and drool over these restored and very glossy specimens of the past. Street musicians and stages along the route add color, music and action .
Aunt Sally, who was visiting from Kelowna joined us. Here are some of my favorites...
Saturday, September 08, 2007
I noticed a new icon on my blogger post page this morning and lo and behold, we can now upload videos we've taken (probably could before but I only knew how to do it from You-Tube).
Anyway, here is a short clip of some water birds that I took with the video function on my still camera.
Title: One Little Secret
Author: Allison Bottke
Publisher: Bethany House
Genre: Contemporary fiction,
The summer is not shaping up as Ursula Rhoades had planned. With her voice students all on break and the kids both away from home doing their own young-adult thing, she and Don were supposed to be spending the months together celebrating a landmark anniversary. Instead he's been assigned a high profile case in New York and Ursula finds herself rattling around alone in her posh Bel Air home.
But not for long. Her voice, as she stands in for her musician son's regular singer in his last gig before leaving for school, captivates current rock star and heart-throb Nik Preven. He's ready to cut a CD in a different style, even though Nik is not sure how his own famous singer father will look on that, seeing as how he's claimed that music as his territory. Even so, Nik has his agent contact Ursula.
One Little Secret, a first novel by Allison Bottke (originator of the God Allows U-Turns books), is all about Ursula's summer of unintentional deceit, as she works, albeit sneakily, with Nik on this project — because she can't seem to find the perfect time to tell her husband. He always seems rushed and preoccupied when she calls, or in the middle of some important meeting. Is he having an affair?
The story in this mid-life chick lit book is mostly lived through Ursula (though not told in first person). We also experience a few scenes through Nik and his agent Arnie. I found the characters generally interesting and well-developed. The all-about-me Cristoff character (Nik's dad) is a great caricature of the aging Hollywood personality.
The opulent and star-studded Hollywood setting seemed authentic. The plot kept me interested in its rollicking midlife-fantasy-come-true way. Themes of marriage, family, relationships, how faith can be lived out in a variety of settings and the possibility that dreams can come true were tackled in a show, not tell, way. However I took issue with the book on two counts.
Ursula, despite her weaknesses, shows lots of admirable qualities and is unapologetic and outspoken about her Christian faith. So I was surprised at her, and the book's mostly uncritical endorsement of the Hollywood entertainment scene and general buy-in to opulence and high living (considering the mostly clashing world views represented by the Bible versus idol-obsessed tinseltown).
Bottke's stance, especially toward being enamored with stuff, is fleshed out in an aspect of her writing style as from beginning to end she name-drops the designer clothes, shoes, furniture that Ursula wears or sees (Vera Wang and Vivienne Westwood dresses, Coco Chanel pumps, Charles Eames lounge chairs, a Rodolfi Dordoni sofa, Belenciaze Meteorite sandals, a Scotty Cameron golf club etc.). I, not being familiar with these things, can only assume they were chosen for their snob value. It all had the effect of making Ursula seem somewhat pretentious and shallow.
On the other hand, maybe I'm being too hard on One Little Secret. Maybe my brand of Christianity is too literal and straight-laced (I was, after all, brought up Mennonite). And maybe most people read books like this for the experience of vicariously living life as they dream of it. Though Hollywood stardom and a home filled with designer furniture and clothes are not my fantasy, if that or something like it are yours, you'll love this book which is, in the end, an entertaining, easy-to-read tale. And its optimistic, anything-can-happen tone just might spark in you the resolve to make some of your own dreams come true.
Friday, September 07, 2007
I'm back and writing this in my new office!
Our move two weeks ago didn't go quite as smoothly as we'd hoped.
The 8:30 start we'd been promised was put off till 11:15 when three movers finally arrived still weary from working till 2:00 a.m. the night before. They were complimentary enough at first, congratulating us on our use of genuine packing boxes and saying they'd never seen anyone so organized. But their attitude soon went sideways when the boxes turned out to be heavier than they thought (many books) and they encountered some hard-to-fit-in-furniture.
It all stretched into a very long day. Things slowed to almost a standstill between 4 to 5 as the guy in charge was sure all our stuff wouldn't fit on the truck. He phoned a couple of times for another truck (which was never forthcoming). Then they all seemed to lose patience with the job and each other. The result was lots of discussing and arguing back and forth between the head guy and his assistant about how to load the truck and some testy moments between the head guy and the extra he'd called in for the day. That young man had no lack of attitude and was, by then, fed up with the whole scene muttering to us about how he and the buddy he works with at his usual moving company get into a rhythm so that they keep working without having to talk over every little thing and that it was a bad idea to feed everyone (E. had bought them pizza for lunch) because hungry people are just more motivated to work etc. etc. (It was at this point I went into the almost empty living room and started to pray - hard!) They finally finished loading sometime after 7:00 and even managed to squeeze everything in.
Then it was down the road 30 minutes to our new home to unload. That began spunkily enough. But when it came time to lug my massive desk upstairs the whining started again. The movers did eventually get the three most difficult pieces (including the old upright piano) in place after removing doors and taking one section off the computer desk to get it into the necessary room.
Meanwhile I'd spent the whole day cleaning my old home and then, when we arrived at the new one, got out the bucket and rags to begin again. By 12-ish (midnight) when E. went out to get the movers some more food I was not only bone tired, but my back was going into spasms. The mattress and box spring were in the bedroom so I went to bed while the chatter and clatter carried on -- much to the chagrin of our new neighbors; one of whom came out on his balcony and disgustedly told the movers that it was late and to cut the chatter (oh dear).
Finally our tired movers came to us with another plan. They would unload everything that was left into the garage, then come back the next day to move the furniture and boxes to their specified floors and rooms. By this time everyone was so weary, we agreed. And so about 2:00 a.m., after our furniture and boxes had all been safely stowed in the garage, our nightmare move finally ended as the truck left, beeping its loud and annoying backup signal the whole way out of the complex.
So we've been trying to impose some order on this new space for the last two weeks. This is my office before I tackled it.
My office today. The perfect decor for a children's writer, wouldn't you say? It will be changed soon.
Against our better judgement, we had paid these boys for all the work they'd done, and were skeptical they would actually come back and finish. To their credit they did -- not the next day but three days later on Monday.
Altogether, it's an experience I don't want to go through very soon (-- would you believe ever?) again!