Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A New Blog for a New Time

Despite not having sufficient time to blog on a regular basis, I've decided to start up a new blog to chronicle my journeys as a new momma-to-be.  You can find it at:


I might still blog here from time to time, but my days are no longer as they were, so it seems to make sense to move to a new look-and-feel for this new chapter in my life.

Happy reading! :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011



At least, I hope she's a she. That's what I've been told by two separate techs at two separate times, though of course there is always that 1% chance that she turns out to be a he, in which case I'm going to regret several purchases I've made of late ;)

This is probably my first official post that isn't about me or Hubbs, but about our soon-to-arrive newest member of the brood.  Forgive me for not being quite so "out there" with her; I've been cherishing my little (and now, not-so-little) secret and basking in the awesomeness of the moment for the past few months.  I've also been tired, busy with school, busy with weekend trips south of the border, tired, hungry, involved with our awesome (not-so-little) community group, and tired.  Blogging was just the last thing on my mind, you know? But now that I have this thing called insomnia, I can return to my musings and ramblings and officially announce my little one's arrival. :)

Though, perhaps, is it premature? Should I have waited until post-partum before even saying *anything?* I've heard the horror stories, and listened through tears to those who've lost their beloved babes within days and hours after the first cries were heard.  Dare I hope that my story will end far more happily? Or will my current bliss be short-lived?

I've wrestled with this for months (31 weeks and 6 days, actually, but who's counting?), and have had to work through fears heaped on fears.  It's the culmination of so many sad and woeful tales that everyone around me has shared with me; for some reason, pregnant ladies get to hear the worst stories, the ones that don't get told to the unpregnant population.  It's some sadistic social norm that gives permission for the hormonally-juiced up to be subject to a seemingly endless supply of horror stories about birth, and babes, and mortality and pain.  There is also, of course, the opposite end of the spectrum - the ones who've walked the dark valley with empty arms and broken hearts who've shared their hearts with me in the hopes that I might pray.  Though I have felt great privilege in being able to partner with them on my knees, those stories linger in my mind too.

And so, my fear (and my fatigue) has prevented me from posting moment-by-moment announcements about her.  Not that you want to read every detail, anyway; I don't think I am so unique and my stories so grand that it bears repeating when so many sisters before me have already walked this path and shared their tales.

However, fear is the opposite of faith.  The lie I believed, and have agonized over, has been the belief that somehow I am in control of my little one's fate.  I'm not.  God is.  I have had no control over her conception (it took us 2.5 years of trying plus some medical interventions, and in the end it was still God's provision alone), I have had no control over her growth and development (she sprouted limbs, eyelashes, a brain, everything and all I did was sleep and eat and pee), and I will have no control over the number of her days.

In the end, I've had to fix my eyes back on Jesus and surrender this semblance of control with which I've deceived myself.  He is good all the time, and all the time, He is good.  He is sovereign and He knits her together in this mother's womb.  She is fearfully and wonderfully made, and she belongs to Him.  I am just the privileged bearer (not unlike how Mary must have felt at being told she would birth the Messiah), but in no way am I the one who created this life.  God did.  And He will, in His wisdom and for His glory, do what He wants in my life and in hers.  My job is just to rest in the assurance that He is good all the time, whether I will end up walking in the valley myself, or whether I am so blessed to be able to soar with the eagles on mountaintop bliss. 

So my wrestling subsides, for now.  And it is in that spirit of boldness and faith that I write this post and proclaim publicly (for the first time) that Hubbs and I have been blessed, and are expecting, a little she. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Middle of the Night, Hormone-and-GI-Induced Ranting


Sometimes I like to listen to what parents have to say about their child-rearing practices and children, and other times I wish I could just drown them out.

You see, I've noticed that there are two ends of the spectrum: on one end are those parents who are completely chill and down-to-earth about child-rearing, and don't allow their offspring to rule their lives.  These folks are the same today as when I knew them p.k. (pre-kid); their identity is intact and they actually have interesting things to say apart from their child's last poop and most recent adorable anecdote.  Who they are is defined in multi-faceted ways, which include (but isn't exclusive to) their role as parents.  They're also musicians and artists and chefs and world travelers and working professionals and spouses and current events enthusiasts and athletes and...and...and.

Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum.  This is where one might find the sanctimonious, "expert" parents musing about their little idols, I mean children, and offering advice like it was the Gospel or something.  If only they actually spoke of the Gospel more, and of their precious youngsters less!  But you know what I mean, right? From FB status updates/tweets/blogs to in-person conversations, these people know only one topic to speak of, and it's *boring* to most of the world.  However, these folks have all but lost their identities as individuals, and are now defined (or derive the bulk of their self-worth) by their progeny, so that's what they talk about, and that's what they offer all of their well-meaning (but completely unwelcome) advice on.

(Forgive my annoyance.  It's 4:00 a.m. and I've been hit with a gastro-bug that woke me up with belly pains and bathroom trips.  For the two nights prior to this one, I had thse pleasure of waking up to charley horses in my left calf in the middle of the night.  Also lovely).

Every so often, I muse about the contrast.  The folks I seek out tend to be those who fit on the former end of the spectrum, whereas I find myself distancing away from people who elevate their children (or their role as parents) to the ultimate level; I find I have a dwindling list of things in common with them and then the conversation just gets dull.  Don't get me wrong; most people probably fall somewhere in the middle (and most of my friends are probably in the middle too - if I've spoken with you recently, you're more than likely still good), and there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving your kids and/or feeling proud of them and wanting to share some of that with the world.  However, it's a whole different matter when your identity or value or sense of self is entirely dependent on being a mom/dad or having children, and that's the only thing you know how to speak about anymore.  *yawn* Plus it isn't even Biblical, since apart from God alone there is nothing under the sun from which we should derive our value or our identity, and to elevate parenthood or children to that status is most definitely a form of idolatry.

So here's to balance, and to the preservation of self in light of parenthood.  Here's to loving your children but not making them your gods, and here's to having more to talk about than the topic of your tykes! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Oh Where, Oh Where Did My Summer Go?

I remember daydreaming, on a glorious June day, about a time in the summer when I would be free. Free of report cards, meetings, lesson plans...free to read, to lounge and sip cool beverages, and to find awesome last-minute travel deals with Hubbs.

Alas, 'twas not meant to be. It's now a week and a half from the time I start back at school, and so far our summer has consisted of traveling to Calgary, then Edmonton, then hosting my lovely sis and bro-in-law and cutie pie nephew (and a quick jaunt to Seattle), and back to Edmonton. What's left is another quick jaunt to Seattle and a third trip to E-town.

This is not what I had in mind when I was thinking about summer 2011. I really wanted to read a bunch of young adult books, plus finish other assigned readings. I wanted to go to the beach, and to the art gallery, and to food cart/stands for lunch dates with Hubbs. I wanted to take a spontaneous last-minute tropical holiday, walk through the flower gardens of the various Van parks, and check out the PNE and the aquarium. I wanted to have a selfishly indulgent summer.

Instead, I've been going non-stop, and doing laundry in between travels. And though I recognize that it is a blessing to be able to afford flying back and forth to see family so often, I have to admit that I wish I had one more month of summer just so that I could have some "off time" to myself. When I'm traveling, it just isn't the same.

*sigh* Maybe next year, things will be different. Maybe summer 2012 can be my lazy, hang-out-in-Van summer. I can always dream.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rant: "Chinese Time" or Constant Tardiness


(In the interest of full disclosure, this used to be me. I used to be chronically late for everything from dinners to small group to you name it. However, I am a repentant and reformed person, redeemed from my lateness by Truth.)

So lately I've been really bugged by people who are always late. You know what I mean, right? You set a time to meet, and then you're left waiting for 30+ minutes before they show. These folks have developed such a reputation for being late that you automatically assume it, and are never pleasantly surprised to be wrong. I know of several people in my life who fit this description, and to be honest, I find it incredibly rude, disrespectful, and dishonest, which means it isn't Biblical.

Matthew 5:37 instructs us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. I think that can be summarized as, "Say what you mean, and mean what you say." Be truthful and walk with integrity. If you agree to meet someone at 6:00, show up at 6:00. Otherwise, make alternate arrangements so that you can show up on time at 6:45. Don't say one thing and do another; don't disrespect those with whom you're meeting by making them wait a long time, since their time is also valuable and should not be wasted because of your own inability to make your time commitments.

Sure, I understand the concept of grace, and yes, I think that anytime travel is required, there is some measure of grace that should be extended because nobody can predict traffic patterns, road closures, and construction work entirely. I am happy to extend 15 minutes of grace and would expect others to be equally patient with me if I end up having to detour several times because of some random parade being held downtown.

However, I'm not talking about an occasional bout of lateness. I'm talking about the people who predictably, constantly show up super late, and attribute their tardiness to "Chinese time" or some other lame-arse excuse that is frankly inexcusable. Hubbs and I are almost tempted at times to tell certain people to meet us 30-45 minutes earlier than the actual time we want to meet them since we're so certain (as in 90%) that they will be 30-45 minutes late.

So what does your punctuality say about you? Do your words and your actions match, or do you constantly show a disregard for others' time? Check your heart, people, and your watches too. And show up on time.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pho Crying Out Loud!


Lately (as in the past three days), I've been hankering for pho. Aside from lunch dates with VanillaCon in E-town once or twice a year, I've not had authentic Vietnamese food for like 36 months. And to be honest, I haven't really missed it...until now.

For some strange and inexplicable reason (trust me, it's not "hormonal"), I've suddenly been hankering for some Viet spring rolls and a good brothy beef noodle soup. I even forced Hubbs to take me to our first Viet restaurant in Van the other night; it came highly rated on Urbanspoon and it was affordable. I had my beef brisket pho (with extra meat) and an order of spring rolls. It *so* hit the spot (despite the slightly too salty soup), though the extra meat meant that there was absolutely no way I could actually polish the whole thing off (much as I wanted to).

But tonight, I've found myself craving pho again, to the point where I've actually spent an hour reading foodie reviews and searched out my next place to try; I am in the process of figuring out what time tomorrow I might be able to go (you know, after my brunch dine-out with friends at Sandbar). My thoughts drift to crunchy savoury spring rolls dipped in a slightly tart fish sauce, and to aromatic broths filled with al dente rice noodles and thinly-sliced fatty cuts of beef. *sigh*

Seriously! And I just had a gelato too. It's not like my body's hungry. I guess I've just really missed my Vietnamese.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Discipline vs Abuse - A Rant

Being that it's the summer, I watch a lot of daytime crap TV. It's a not-so-secret-brainless-indulgence of mine. The other day I caught a rerun episode of Dr. Phil, who was following up about a woman who has been charged with misdemeanor child abuse for the way she "disciplined" her 7 year-old.

Her methods? Yelling, hot sauce to "clean out" his mouth, and a super cold shower while he was crying and screaming for dear life. Obviously, Dr. Phil offered her counseling and she (at least publicly) accepted and is learning a better way to discipline. Then Dr. Phil said that "saucing" is a prevalent form of "discipline" in some parts of the States.

Recently I recounted this episode to someone I know, who then informed me that she knew of someone who also uses cold showers/baths as a way to shock/discipline their young (as in preschool-age) child. Apparently this individual throws their child in the tub, clothes and all, and runs the cold water from the showerhead until the child is drenched. I was told that this occurred if the child repeatedly failed to observe time-outs after being placed there.

Really? This happens? To people who aren't on Dr. Phil? What?!?!?

So yeah, I got to thinking. What would I do if I had a belligerent, stubborn child? What is the purpose of discipline? Would I ever resort to desperate saucy or cold water methods to get my kid to behave?
I don't have all the answers, obviously, but this much I know: the purpose of discipline is to correct behaviour. It is to "train up a child in the way that he/she should go," and it should be done, but performed in love (and not out of anger).

Prov 3:11-12 (NIV) My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

Prov 15:5 (NIV) A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.

I would hope that I can give my child enough consistent boundaries that he/she would know right from wrong, and good from bad. I would hope to live out my own life as an example, and teach my child that obedience is done out of love ultimately for God and for others. I would want my little one to know that when I do discipline, it is because I love them and want them to be safe and healthy.

And I would make sure that, as much as possible, any discipline I mete out would be preceded by and followed by much prayer, and the discipline itself would be educational or at the very least, appropriate to the infraction. The Dr. Phil lady was punishing her kid for lying. Hot sauce in his mouth won't teach him to stop lying (but maybe he'd try harder not to get caught). Likewise, a cold shower isn't at all appropriate to not observing a time out.

Yeah, yeah. Judgy moms might ask me what qualifies me, a non-mom, to dole out parenting advice. And they would be right in saying that I haven't ever walked that road before, so I couldn't imagine the frustration of dealing with a belligerent child day in and day out.

But it doesn't take having a child to know that it is wrong to act out of anger. The Bible admonishes us not to sin in our anger. It teaches us to let our gentleness be evident to all (including our children). I don't think it is possible to parent effectively without prayer, and unceasing prayer at that. I don't believe it is within our sinful human nature to be loving disciplinarians because our nature is not loving. But I know that the Spirit empowers us to do what we cannot otherwise do on our own; the Spirit changes our hearts and gives us new eyes to see our children from Jesus' perspective, and that brings about a love and a compassion that compels us to want to do what is best for them rather than what gives us release or relief in that moment of anger or power and control.

I'm not perfect. Nobody is. So I don't write this to say that these moms are horrible individuals who should be locked up in jails. We'd all be there for one reason or another if our sins were exposed, I'm sure. What I am saying is that there is always a better way, and that better way only happens through the grace, mercy and love that comes from Jesus. May we all learn a better way.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sofa So Good!

Hubbs and I needed new furniture. We've actually needed new stuff for a while. Reasons? Our dining chairs are falling apart, splintering at the seams and losing screws left, right and center; we bought them cheap and got what we paid for. Our sofa is also sinking into the ground, having stretched over the past decade from daily use and abuse. Finally, we need to increase our comfortable and safe seating for guests who will be joining us for small group come September.

So, where to start? What to buy? How much to pay? It was a super tough weekend for us. We wanted to get stuff that matched our present dining table and entertainment unit (both are dark expresso brown). We wanted a modern look to our furniture, but we didn't want to spend a lot of money and I was picky about having seats with proper high backs (as opposed to the trend of low-backed, clean-lined couches that are so in vogue right now). Both Hubbs and I were also big on comfort; we wanted seats that wouldn't hurt our butts after sitting for an hour and a half.

So, we compromised. By fluke, we managed to find some lovely bonded leather brown parson chairs on sale for half price. We bought 6 and stayed under budget!

Next, we splurged on a Lazy Boy recliner (for me). I've always wanted a leather rocking recliner and in the event that one day I will be a momma, I'll want a comfy chair to rock my baby in. Luckily, we stumbled into the store on a "spin the wheel" day and won free delivery for our Calvin reclining chair, which was also on sale. Perfecto!

The sofa was a far more difficult find. Internally I was debating whether I preferred clean lines or high backs (because both do not co-exist in most stationary sofas), and then there were concerns about matching the style and colour of the sofa to the recliner. We drove to 7 places yesterday and saw well over 100 sofas. The only one we liked cost more than I would have wanted to pay, and was being sold in a store with like the worst reputation ever (I googled them and read the rants - it wasn't pretty). So, even if we wanted to buy that overpriced sofa set, the negative reviews were enough to deter us from considering it seriously.

Today, I was more willing to compromise on the sofa. Because I wanted a high back more than I cared about clean lines, I was willing to consider reclining sofas (the only ones out there with high backs). I also didn't want to blow our budget, knowing full well that in a few years, if/when we buy our own place, we will probably want to furnish it from scratch anyway, making these purchases irrelevant to our new future home. I even compromised on the style of the sofa; I was willing to consider "puffier" options that maybe didn't look just like my recliner, but was similar in colour.

In our first shop stop, Hubbs insisted that we pray before we went inside. Great idea. Within 5 minutes of entering, our prayers were answered: we found the sofa that we both loved. Sure, it was puffy, and a recliner, and not even leather (well, it's bonded leather, but that's not really leather). But it was on sale ($500 off today) and it was comfortable and it had a high back and it was a pretty close match colour-wise to our recliner (I think). After a short deliberation, our decision was made and our purchase was finalized.

Now all that's left to buy are stools (to replace the current crappy ones) and a leather storage bench. Praise God that we were able to find and purchase nearly everything we needed within the budget we had set, and in just one short weekend! :) My only prayer now is that the sofa and the recliner will look good beside one another and that nothing will be damaged during delivery. Here's hoping!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Decluttering Catharsis


It's hard to throw stuff out, especially if you're a pack rat. Though I come by my packratitis honestly (I swear it's genetic - just visit my parents' place and you'll know), the thinking/reasoning part of me recognizes the need to purge every so often, particularly when space is at a premium, which it is at our place.

Hubbs, thank God, is quite the opposite of a pack rat, and has no need for sentimental things like wedding guestbooks and Christmas trees and childhood picture books. He is quite ready to throw everything out and just buy again when and if something is needed. The other part of my thinking/reasoning brain also recognizes the wastefulness of such a strategy, so together we balance each other out quite nicely.

The other day, we decided it was time for some belated "spring cleaning" on our storage room, a room that had become so cluttered that it was impossible to actually enter. It was sort of our receptacle for all things seasonal or homeless, from sugary US-bought cereal and lawn chairs to luggage and gift wrap. It was getting to the point that to peek inside the room caused Hubbs and I great anxiety, sort of like when we watch Hoarders and see the stacks of crap that these people have amassed over time.

We had to tackle the room in multiple steps, and then we had to sort through the boxes and items one by one. Some of the things we ended up "finding" and keeping were:

* more Transformer toys!
* my "How to Travel" tips to Hubbs from when he flew to HK to see me
* our framed pictures (I have no idea why these weren't unpacked for 3 years but we're now getting to it)
* old pictures that had been printed out but needed to be sorted and placed in albums (which we did)
* old children's books that we both love and wish to share with our children one day
* our Christmas decorations and tree (I had to negotiate for these!)

Note, however, that we purged much, even though some of the things we tossed are items I'm still not sure if I'll need again one day (though Hubbs tells me it's highly unlikely since I haven't used them in 3 years). Such items include:

* university texts and notes (including education ones)
* old pictures
* well-used, ancient children's books that are so obscure and outdated that no self-respecting 21st century child would be caught dead reading them
* paperback books that the library wouldn't want
* old "memorabilia" like the menu from our engagement dinner
* finished old journals (I shredded these)
* paperwork from forever ago
* random souvenirs
* old computers
* empty boxes (not sure why we kept them around)
* craft supplies that will be donated to my classroom for class use

We're still negotiating on the two back-pack lawn chairs, but I suspect I might be fighting a losing battle over this one.

Anyway, our purge ended up reducing our box count by at least 5 and we were finally able to fit our movable electric fireplace into the storage room (to make room in the living room). Hubbs also managed to rearrange the stored items such that we can now actually walk into the storage room and take several steps to access items in the far corner.

Best of all, we now feel as though a great weight has been lifted from our shoulders; the decluttering has led to great catharsis and relief. It has also freed us up to purchase some much-needed new furniture. All in all, it was a great and productive way to spend a Saturday!

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is What My Nephew Taught Me About Babies...


... they usually smile when they wake up, even if it's after a scant 20-minute nap.
... when they're hungry, they're HUNGRY. Feed immediately.
... traveling with one, even to the mall, is sort of like a camping trip. You have to pack food and utensils and some sort of a mat, plus entertainment and a million other things.
... they will put everything into their mouths, including hair and toes and Sony DreamCast controllers; ew.
... they are amused by simple things, like saying hello or clapping your hands or making faces (not the scary ones, though; that makes them cry). However, this amusement can sometimes be short-lived and baby tastes are fickle, so what works one day doesn't work the next.
... time is not relevant to them; they might sleep all day and party all night like a university student, and sometimes they only sleep for 4 hours at a time.
... babies like to be carried and not every one of them likes riding in a car.
... mum-mum's are baby crack(ers), and a surefire way to get a whiny baby distracted.
... the moment the teeth come in, their mouths become weapons. Beware.
... there is nothing so beautiful as a baby's laugh or a baby's giant grin. Nothing.

My 7-month old nephew has spent a scant couple of weeks with me (1.5 in E-town and another 1 in Van) and I am pretty hooked on that little guy. Hubbs has melted for him too, as evidenced by how gushy he acts when he has the little one in his arms. I will miss him when he goes home (and I'll miss his parents too) and this month-long hiatus before I see him again will feel like forever. Thank God for Skype!!! And thank you, my little nephew, for being part of our lives! :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011



Someone challenged me on the use of the phrase "mean-girled." Of course, everyone knows this is a colloquialism and probably hasn't been added to the formal lexicon, so to define it I had to refer to the good ol' Urban Dictionary (the dictionary of the masses, if you will). Here's what it says (bolded for emphasis):

Girls who are bullies and use "girl aggression" (nasty comments, trickery, deceit, excluding people from events, spreading rumors, stealing boyfriends,etc.) to manipulate other girls. They will use text messaging, AIM, email, three-way-calling, and any other weapon at their disposal to achieve these goals
(coined by Rosalind Wiseman in her book "Queen Bees and Wannabees").
These girls are often popular because everyone is either afraid of them or wants to be like them. They tend to have armies of followers ("friends"/wannabees) comprising their clique. However, few people actually like them for who they are.

So there it is. It's hardly a surprise that this is not a new phenomenon (well, except for the technological bullying part - that's new) but what *is* surprising is that it can still happen among women in the grown-up world, and in professional environments, no less. Well, maybe not the stealing boyfriends part, but just about everything else is something I have seen in at least *two* of my workplaces, both Christian and non-Christian.

Sad, sad. But then again, only those who truly know Jesus have the capacity to love their neighbours and be better than this, n'est-ce pas? Without Him and His Spirit to show us how to love and treat others, I suppose we're all mean girls at heart. But by His grace and His empowering, we can rise above this sort of despicable behaviour and become encouragers and defenders of the weak and the bullied, a mandate Jesus Himself lived out in His ministry. In the end, how one chooses to conduct themselves is one part God, and one part choice. What kind of girl do you want to be?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let's Twist Again...

Apologies on the cheesy title. I'm here to plug a product (not mine). It's the Goody Spin Pins.

I remember a time when putting one's hair in a bun was a form of torture, and required an obscene number of pins plus a monstrous looking hair net that you'd never want to see snaked out of your drain (it's the stuff of nightmares, trust).

Well, no more! These pins are so easy to use. I basically just gathered my hair, twisted it into a bun shape, and gently rolled these two pins into place. Voila, bun!

It's easy and it actually works, even on my semi-thinning hair. At <$10, it's a great deal to fancify your 'do or free up your neck during the hot summer days.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chicken Soup for the Chinese Soul

I'm sick! Oh but I have no one to blame except myself; I'm sure I must have let my guard down at some point in the past week and now I'm paying for it with a head cold and congestion.

Anyway, when sick, I have a go-to ginger chicken soup that always warms my insides up and makes me feel better.

Here's the simple recipe:

1 carton (almost 1 L) organic chicken broth
2-3 cups water
1 giant ginger root, peeled and sliced
6 chicken thighs, skinless + boneless + sliced
soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
spinach (optional)

1) Bring broth, water, and ginger root to a boil
2) Season chicken thighs to taste (salt, pepper, sugar, soy) and add a bit of corn starch and mix. The corn starch makes the meat smoother somehow.
3) When the soup begins to boil, add the chicken thighs and return to a boil.
4) When the soup boils again, add the beaten egg and stir; it will break apart into little strands in the soup
5) Continue on a low boil for 25 minutes; the soup will reduce a bit at this point
6) Right before you serve, add spinach. It will cook in the hot soup.

Easy, right? SO easy I actually make this soup 2x/month, and *I* am one who famously declares that I'm too busy to cook. It's *that* easy. Plus, the ginger root is like a magic remedy for my cold. The spiciness of the soup (dependent on how large your ginger root actually is) is appealing to Hubbs too; he eats it almost as often as I do!

Now, I can't claim any rights to this recipe. I have no idea who invented it but I was taught how to make this soup by my chiropractor's wife (who happens to be his receptionist). I'm so glad for the recommendation though, because right now drinking the soup is the only time when I actually feel good during my sick spell.

Can't wait to shake this congestion, but in the meantime...bon appetit!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Go Big or Go Home


It really ticks me off when people don't care about their quality of work, and when they slack off on the job. They are being *paid* to work, and so, at minimum, should do the job that they so happily cash the cheques for. Otherwise, it isn't a fair exchange, and they are defrauding their employers and violating the work-for-pay contract.

That said, if the workers don't know Jesus, I don't hold them to any particular expectation, and reserve judgment. After all, they don't have the Holy Spirit to empower them to change, to take pleasure in their toil, and to give them a heart of service. If they do not profess to following Christ, the principles and precepts of Scripture are meaningless to them.

However, Christians are a different story. The Bible clearly teaches that, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." (Col. 3:23-24).

If a person claims to know and love Jesus, then there is an inherent duty to obey this teaching, because obedience is an expression of love and of that faith relationship. Part of obedience is working hard, and doing one's best, remembering that the boss isn't some person in an office, but God Almighty. This applies not only to ministry, but to life in general, including one's profession or job.

So yeah, I am judging other believers, and I ask that they hold me to this same standard, because it's not *my* standard, it's God's, and we're all called to it if we know Him.

Which brings me to my initial point: it really really ticks me off when Christians don't care about their quality of work, and slack off on the job. I am so annoyed with fellow believers who call it in at work, and don't bother to do their best every day of the week. I don't want to hear people use excuse after excuse to justify their piss-poor work ethic; your choice is really quite simple - go big or go home.

Either do it right and do your best, or else find another calling in life where you actually give two cents, because a Christian who works like someone who doesn't know Jesus brings no glory to His name. If you want to be a witness to the One you serve, then let your work stand on its own. Let every person who sees you remark that you go above and beyond, and let there be no question about your work quality or your integrity.

People often say that I'm a workaholic, and maybe I am a little bit of a perfectionist. But then again, I serve a perfect Savior and despite my own fallibility, I want to give Him my best every day. I want to be sure that every minute that I am given with my students (which is my job, and for which I am paid) is used responsibly, and to the best of my ability, because I will have to give an account one day for the hours that God has entrusted them to me. I do not take that responsibility lightly, for I know full well that those who teach will be judged ever more strictly (James 3:1).

One who is slack in his work
is brother to one who destroys. (Prov. 18:9)

So here's the takeaway: go big or go home. But remember, your work tells everyone a whole lot about you, and about who you serve. What's your work saying about you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My "Political" Party


After reflecting on the recent election, I have finally figured out what party I belong to, and why I couldn't stand behind any of the leaders, really. It's because my heart, and my affiliations, lie elsewhere.

I'm a Monotheistic monarchist - I believe in the King of Kings through the Prince of Peace.

I am a member but I wasn't elected - my seat is *in* the elect, since I was personally chosen and appointed by my Leader.

My party is not federal, provincial, or civic - it's eternal.

My platform can be found in detail in the Word of God.

Like Obama, my party believes in change - but it's from the inside, out.

My campaign's goal is to make my Leader known, and my campaign was paid for in blood.

My party will not form a coalition with anyone - my Leader is the only Way.

And although my Leader only has one seat, it is the one before which every knee will one day bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Dirty Mouths and Dirty Hearts


Today, I shared with my class the teachings of Jesus from Matthew 15:1-10. Sometimes I wonder if more people need to be reminded that it is what comes out of a person (and his/her wicked heart) that makes him/her unclean. Actions and words reflect heart conditions.

This teaching seems so timely when I consider what I have been witnessing on Facebook over the past couple of days. Professing "Christians" who have rejoiced over the killing of a man, or those who have engaged in character assassinations of political candidates who they don't particularly like - these are not the actions befitting one who claims to know Jesus Christ. Somehow, I think that if Jesus Himself were sitting beside these individuals as they readied their status updates, they would probably think twice about the things that they've written.

Don't get me wrong - I am glad that there is closure for so many families who have lost loved ones during the 9/11 attack, and I am thankful that a very dangerous individual is no longer a threat to our shores. However, celebrating the brutal death of anyone, and taking delight in it, elevates the importance of man's justice and diminishes the greatness of God's justice.
"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and when he stumbles do not let your heart rejoice, lest the Lord see it, and be displeased." (Prov. 24:17)
God is a holy God and a just God, and His judgment is perfect; He is fit to judge the living and the dead. All of us, however, are unrighteous and sinful, and only justified ourselves by the grace of a loving Father. Man's justice is therefore incomplete at best, and imperfect. There is no joy to be had in meting out a human "judgment" that is neither complete nor righteous.

**And as I consider the individuals who have launched gloating and/or cruel, personal attacks on the leaders of our nation's political parties (the one who won as well as the others who didn't), I wonder where the love that Jesus commands us to have for our neighbours has gone. The malicious words that come out do much to reveal the nature of the speaker's heart, and it is this that makes the person unclean in the eyes of God. Though everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, when I observe the vitriol that drips from some of the comments made on Facebook regarding a political leader, I cannot help but wonder how this glorifies God or obeys His greatest commandments.

Are we all guilty of having dirty mouths and unclean hearts? Absolutely. There is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). But I think it is time we all checked our hearts, and examined our words and thoughts. If we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, we are responsible for representing Him in this world. By His grace, may we do so with integrity and love, rather than allow our filth to further contaminate an already-polluted world.

** Whoa, you say. Where is all of this coming from, Mrs L? Besides the many character-assassinating remarks made by some very politically-charged "Christians" that I knew on Facebook, I had the misfortune of having to witness a barrage of very hateful remarks targeted at one specific political leader who did not win the election. I was forced to unfriend this individual after I challenged them on their very vengeful remarks, only to be verbally attacked by this person and their relative, neither of whom showed the slightest remorse for their nasty comments but offered a thousand reasons as to why they were somehow justified in their malicious speech toward this political leader. Free speech? Yes. But let's either be fair and godly, or stop saying that you're a Christian. As Emerson once said, "What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say." Their actions all but nullified their claims of being Christians.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Positive" Updates and the Nature of One's Heart


Okay, rant time. It is always curious to see what people post as their FB statuses or Twitter updates. I believe it reveals the nature of their heart. Most of the time, status updates are pretty innocuous; they are descriptive and personal, informative, and/or just sort of random or silly. Other times, I see that they are a means to raise awareness for causes (awesome), or a way to encourage others (also awesome).

But sometimes, I feel that people use their updates as a means of self-promotion, or a way to "puff themselves up." I find certain types of updates, even though they are phrased with excited exclamation marks and written in positive tones, to be boastful. Every keystroke, every word, is meant to tell the reader how awesome the writer's life is, and how awesome and skilled the writer is. It feigns humility, but in fact reveals a heart that is arrogant and self-centered.

The Bible teaches that, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord" (1Cor.1:31). Though I've searched for any reference to Him in these updates, few (if any) have been found. If these status writers are Jesus-followers like they confess to be, then it should be evident that any blessing, any gift, any good thing comes from God. To fail to acknowledge this suggests that either the writers do not want to give Him credit, or the writers don't think He deserves credit. Either way, their words point to them and not to their Creator, and that really reveals the nature of their heart condition.

Of course, I am not so presumptuous as to assume that even though these folks are on my FB, they will have read this post. However, in the off-chance that they do, my message is this:
check the intentions of your heart before you tweet or FB. Make your words count for eternal glory rather than your own earthly purposes.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Birds Droppings from Hell and the Antidote

The place where I work (a school) is but mere minutes away from a cute fishing village on the water, and also immediately beside a giant field. Translation: birds. Seagulls and other feathery fowl that like to lurk near the water or graze on the field or fly back and forth in an attempt to avoid winter cold - *those* birds - also like to fly overhead, above our crowded staff parking lot.

And birds, as you can guess, really like to defecate. They do not discriminate by make or model, colour or age; they just let their poop bombs fly and land as they may. Unsuspecting vehicles in our lot often fall victim to these sh*t bombs.

During the winter, the droppings usually stayed relatively moist, and could quickly and easily be removed with a wet wipe. However, now that it's spring, and we've been blessed with some very warm temperatures and hours of sunshine, a wet wipe will no longer suffice.

Such was the case the other afternoon, when I discovered (much to my great dismay) that my rear driver door had been tagged with a giant brown bird bomb. In my panic, I grabbed a wet wipe and started to wipe, only to find that as I was running the paper towel back and forth I was also scratching my paint.

I quickly ditched Plan A and opted for Plan B: Google it. This is when I learned that these nasty diseased birds like to chew on gravel to help them digest their food, resulting in waste products that are not only acidic and toxic to car paint, but also grainy like sandpaper when wiped across a painted surface. The droppings on *my* beautiful car were also baked on from the heat of the day, so there was no way that water alone would be able to do the job.

Thank God for Google and iPhones! As I frantically searched for an effective solution, I came across several sites that recommended I use salt-free seltzer (or club soda) to dissolve the nastiness. Immediately I raced over to a 7-Eleven and stocked up on two litres of the good stuff.

When I got home, I shook my first bottle furiously (to build pressure), then opened it enough for the carbonated beverage to come shooting out like a fire hose aimed directly at the poop. Immediately the bird poop turned white (from its brown colour) and began to fizzle. I then soaked a towel in club soda and let it rest on the spot to soften the poop further. After covering up the droppings for a few minutes, I was able to sufficiently "soften" the stool so that I could remove the bulk of it without further destroying my paint job.

Moral to the story: keep some club soda handy. Birds are merciless poop monsters, and you can't sue them for damaging your car's paint job.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Cookielicious The Easy Mrs. L Way

I am not a cook or a baker, and I don't pretend to be one. However, on occasion I feel just the teensiest bit of guilt about not using all of the lovely appliances, small appliances, and kitchen gadgets in my cupboards and drawers. So, every blue moon I drag out the ol' tools (actually, they're more like *new* tools) and I make a noble (or Nobel) attempt.

Today was such a day. In two weeks' of spring break, I hadn't lifted a finger to feed my Hubbs. I figured I should at least try, sort of. My thoughts drifted back to a time just mere weeks ago, when my boss shared her lemon cookies with me, and I was astounded by how delicious they were. When I asked her about her recipe, she told me just how easy it was to make these cookies using generic cake mix and a few other ingredients. I know she repeated it to me like three times, but for the life of me I couldn't recall what those "other" ingredients were.

So I turned to Google, did a bunch of research (more than anyone should justifiably do for the sake of cookies), combined several recipes, and ended up making some of the most delicious yellow cake mix cookies Hubbs has ever had. Not only did he lick the batter off the mixer, spatula, and bowl, but he also ate three cookies right after they cooled.

The ones I made ended up tasting like Snickerdoodle cookies, but I think you can use any flavour of cake mix and make cookies of all varieties. Here's the recipe:

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup softened butter
white sugar & cinnamon (to roll the cookie dough in)

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. Mix the cake mix, eggs, and butter in a mixer on low. The batter is ready when it's all stiff...like cookie dough. WARNING: It will stick to the mixer spokes, so get ready to scrape with your spatula!
3. Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough into the cinnamon sugar mix and roll around, making a nice spherical ball.
4. Place on a non-stick cookie sheet (I used one pan with a silicon mat, and the other I sprayed with cooking spray) and flatten the ball out a bit to make it cookie-shaped.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown on the sides, or you lose patience. I baked the regular-sized ones for 8.5 minutes and the giant ones for 10.
6. Cool on the sheet for a minute or two and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool and harden.

Voila! Semi-soft, delicious cookies.

It was super easy to do, even for me (that's saying a lot). Enjoy! :)

Monday, March 07, 2011

Leaving Early Makes Me Late


Sounds backwards, no? But it's true. In my nearly two years of teaching in Richmond and living downtown, I have learned that it does not pay to leave school early, unless I want to leave at 3:30 (which doesn't happen unless I have an appointment that I am rushing to).

If I leave at 4:45-5:30 (which are respectable departure times from workplaces), I am doomed to be stuck in ugly post-work traffic, jacking my commute time somewhere north of 60 minutes. It also jacks my blood pressure north of normal too. Not great.

If, however, I leave sometime closer to 6:00 p.m., I can get home in 30-40 minutes, which begs the question, "Why leave early?" It really doesn't pay and I end up taking forever to get home, and those minutes are precious ones better spent being productive at work, right?

So in case anyone wonders why I stay so late and seem to be such a workaholic, there honestly is method to my seeming madness. It's simply practical, and as a hard-working, first-generation native Canadian-Chinese person, practical is sort of my middle name. ;)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Peace Please

It's an anxious season in my life right now, mostly due to the busy things that simply must be done for work. As I find myself caught up in the maelstrom of stressors, it is easy for me to be sucked down into despair and hopelessness.

Today I took a personal day, and part of the day I intended for decompressing from these stressors. However, due to a series of miscommunications and unfortunate events, we ended up late for an appointment and plagued with responsibilities from Hubbs' work and our company first thing in the morning. By the time 9:00 am rolled around, I was more wound up than ever, the complete opposite condition to the one I had intended.

So I prayed. This, in a nutshell, was my prayer:

Please overwhelm me with Your peace.
Fill me with it.
Soak me with it.
Completely immerse me in it and drench me entirely with it.
I need the peace that only You can provide.

After I prayed in a desperate bid to unwind, I found myself leaking stress like a defective balloon. It just began to leave me inexplicably (well, it's explicable, but by explicable I mean it was God, done supernaturally, which isn't explicable). Now, to be honest, I am not one whose first reaction is to pray; I wish I was that inclined to rely on God, but my busted human nature is prone to self-reliance and independence, and I often choose to wallow in my stress rather than trust my Savior. This was a last-ditch effort to undo a crappy morning, and yet my Father, who is faithful and beyond gracious to a sinner like me, chose to answer my prayer and bless me with the peace that transcends all human understanding.

How blessed am I! And so, what started as a stressful day has now become the Sabbath that I was seeking to have, all thanks due to the Lord. Praise Him.

Moral of the story? Don't be dumb. Pray first.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best Frozen Chicken Fingers Ever

Truth be told, I am the laziest cook on the planet. This is why I eat out so often; someone else is doing the cooking for me! There are days, however, when dining out is just not feasible, and that's when I turn to easy-to-cook stuff, like crock pot dishes and heat-and-eat goodies.

One new (and surprisingly healthy) discover I made are the Superstore President's Choice Blue Label Breaded Chicken Breast Fillets with Flaxseed.
These aren't dry soggy chicken fingers, my friend. These are crispy, tasty, moist morsels of white meat chicken goodness. And they're actually good for me! :) I'm thinking I will be making this a staple in my freezer for those unfortunate days when dining out isn't an option.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Thanks to two of my favourite people (who happened to have visited us this past weekend), I am now the proud owner of a Kapoosh knife block.

It looks like this:

It is great because it can hold any type of knife regardless of shape (save for my meat cleaver, which I don't want on the knife block anyway). How does it do this? In lieu of slots with fixed dimensions, the black part you put your knives into are filled with skinny black plastic straws that mold around any sharp knife you shove into the unit. As a result, you can shove as many knives in as you want, provided you have space left between the handles. ;)

Right now I have several chef's knives, a santoku knife, a pair of food-grade scissors, and a few paring knives shoved into my nifty new Kapoosh. Our gift from our gracious guests (my bro and sis-in-law) is also stainless steel silver, which matches perfectly with our kettle and other countertop appliances.

Thank you again, awesome people! Every time I pull out a knife, I'll be thinking of you! (but in a good way). ;)