Saturday, April 30, 2011

Off the not-so-dusty bookshelf

My apologies that my blogging here has significantly lapsed lately, in part because of the serving I mentioned in my last post and in part because of all the reading I've been doing lately. 

It started with my Boundaries book for the Boundaries course I mentioned, and although I didn't read that one all the way through again (I already read it about 8 years ago when trying to deal with this relationship) but I was reading the material for the course as well.  Anyway, I've been wanting to write something about the course here now for awhile because it has helped me so much (along with Changes That Heal by the same authors, which I read last summer for that course we ran in the fall). I have yet to meet one person who hasn't been struck by one of the truths in these books that directly impact their own life, whether it causes internal or external changes, everyone I know who has read this book has benefited from it. 
It's hard to summarize it, and even the book description linked above I personally don't feel does it justice.  It's human nature to eventually come in to contact with someone with whom the relationship will be strained, it's because as we get close to people our personal space crosses their personal space and the property lines get blurred and it's hard to know which feelings you are responsible for and which they are responsible for. This is where Boundaries comes in and I can't rave enough about how all encompassing and far reaching the truths of this book will go to help any and every relationship you have.

And to that same tune, I also read No More Christian Nice Girl, which has a lot of the same principles as Boundaries, but with one additional point that I found so helpful, being nice isn't the same as being good (by God's standards). Nice is not a fruit of the spirit, but goodness is. And if we are to be Christ-like, think about this, Jesus was often a very not-nice guy. Even when he healed people he is quoted in blunt terms.  People often say, if Jesus was a nice guy he would have lived to an old age. A really great book that's great for women at all stages as it also tackles of the issues of being nice vs. good while dating or married.

Then I read this book that was recommended by my ministry leader, No Perfect People Allowed.  Wow! I'm only 4 chapters in and I'm just so loving it! I have tried to live my life with the motto 'love the sinner, hate the sin', but this book really delves into how you can balance being truthful, not holding back opinions about sin, but in a loving way that ultimately shows real care for people no matter where they are on their journey through faith. It's been really insightful, full of real examples from the author's rapidly growing Church.  It especially focuses on the best way to engage those who are affected by the postmodernism belief that there is no one truth. I find that the toughest, that people won't even bother to investigate claims of truth because they refuse to accept another reality than the one they have - that there isn't just one truth.  This book is exactly what I have been needing to help me step out and talk more with others about their faith journey, I can't wait to finish it!

Well, that's just been the last 2 months, and there are a couple in there I've started to read (some fiction, yay! :) that I'm sure I'll be mentioning soon....serving at Church is slower now and so are the t.v. shows I watch.  Yay summer!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Purpose Driven Life - Redux

Standing in the gap instead of just filling one.

That's what it has been like serving since I have discovered my spritual gifts and matched them with skills and ministry passions.  My ministry leader always talks about us standing in the gap, being intercessors, not just in prayer but being the flesh for Jesus' love to the people that come through our ministry doors. Our Church calls it serving in your sweet spot, and it is indeed very sweet.

Previously I served out of need and sometimes I was able to select where I served based on a perceived passion (not the same as a ministry passion), but I never felt like I was fulfilling MY purpose, I felt what I did anyone could do, I was just a plug filling a hole.  I could have been a square peg in a round hole or a small plug for a large hole, but all that seemed to matter at the time was that I was a body in a place that a body needed to be.

I have never felt so burning with desire to give and give and give some more! I have really loved being a mentor/facilitator in our recovery courses we've offered (Changes That Heal & Boundaries), I hardly felt like I was the leader, I got so much out of the conversations with my group, but I also know my mentorship played a part because I was asked for further one-on-one advice (which is where I think I shine the most) and it just felt so amazing. 

But this is just the beginning.  After Sean took the spiritual gifts course as well we started talking, and boy are there a lot of areas we would like to serve in! Sean has already jumped in head first into serving in (and moving towards leading) the ministry of volunteer placement, including facilitating the spiritual gifts course. I think we may someday lean towards being marriage mentors, although I have a feeling Sean wants more years under the  marriage belt before we do that. We both seem to have a heart for the ministry our Church is trying to grow in Shamattawa. And we both have a passion for financial ministry.

We both have a strong desire to help people who are struggling with financial basics, making the right decisions about money. We both feel Church is a great place to teach principles affecting finances, that stewardship is stressed in the Bible and learning what faithful stewardship looks like in our budgets is an important step in following Christ.  I'm taking babysteps towards this even now, looking into material on the subject our Church already has, researching other Christian authors on the subject, etc. There may even be an opportunity to learn more by mentoring a table at a 12 step recovery program our Church hopes to launch (note: not create a program, launch one that already exists).  That may seem like a strange route but the program focuses on more than just addictive behaviour, it also covers compulsive and dysfunctional behavior and is set up to address things such as finances as well.

So, God is certainly keeping us busy.  "Purpose Driven Life" has never had more meaning to us than now, and purpose is something both of us have been bordering on desperate for. Our patience most certainly has been tested to get to this point, but now that we are here our ambition is soaring and the peace is beginning to pour in. Praise the Lord.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It ain't heavy, it's my broth

Homemade broth is something I never contemplated making in my goal to eliminate processed foods, but after a friend pointed out all the ingredient items on a package of bought buillion AND posted a recipe on how easy it is I just had to try it for myself.  My first time around turned out not so flavorful but I'm really happy with the batch I made last night.  Even hubby noticed the aroma and asked for some chicken soup :)

So here is my friend's post, and here is what I did:
1. For months after I read this post the first time, I saved/froze snippets from veggies that I wouldn't eat in my meal but would be great for broth making, so; pepper cores & seeds, tomato cores & seeds, onion ends and skin, asparagus ends, carrot tops, potato/sweet potato nubbies that didn't look appetizing, etc.
2. Bought a roasted chicken (the hot rotissirie kind), stripped it of all it's meat for some suppers, put everything else in a big pot with the frozen veggies. And I mean EVERYTHING else, including the string, after tasting a bit of it accidently (and really wanting to suck on the whole string *blush*) I figured I'm going to use up all the chicken juice even from that!
3. Added several cloves of garlic, oregano leaves I had froze from my garden last year, freeze dried herbs such as basil, parsley and green onions, as well as some fresh ground pepper (as I used the last of my peppercorns in that mill and didn't want to remove them, I know, lazy).

4. I then covered it all with about 5 cups of cold water, brought it to a slight boil on 4 (out of 10 on my element), then turned it down to 2 and simmered for 3 hours.
5. I don't have cheese cloth on hand so I used coffee filters, since we get them for free with our coffee ordered at work by the truck load, sat them in a funnel and got every last morsel of yummy broth juice out of the pot contents.
6. Now I have 5 cups of broth, tucked away in the freezer, for the next time I want to make something with broth and I don't have to touch my OXO :) Easy peasy! Thanks to Lori (she's the original Lori, although I wasn't named after her she was here before me and has been a great Lori mentor :)

By the way, here is a great place/blog to check out more homemaking and house-wifery!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fill-in Friday - A Good Good Friday

Here is my Good Friday Fill-in Friday edition.

Pardon me, my eyes are still puffy and red from the video montage of The Passion this morning.

Something that inspires me is how much God loves me.

For my holiday Friday off I (would) went to our Church service, blogged, showed a friend some appreciation (thanks in part to K.Barteski), spent GF dinner with my family, enjoying their company, good food, and the chocolate-children frenzy, being thankful for the freedoms I have to do so. 

I'd like to go to Israel so I could better appreciate and understand the life of Jesus.

Beautiful flower bunches from Sobeys = good deal.

I copied a variety of Fill-ins from various "Friday Fill-ins" prompts, as I usually only like a few of the questions per week, but here is where to find some Friday Fill-ins for yourself.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spouse Appreciation Challenge

Hey, check out Union 28 Marriage Apparel on Facebook or Twitter for their new spouse appreciation challenge, just comment that you'll participate and pass on the challenge for a chance to win his & hers t-shirts declaring a positive commitment message!

By the way, here is a great place/blog to check out more homemaking and house-wifery!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

~ I'm cheating and posting this on Tuesday, lol :)

~ on stay-cation this week and I REALLY needed the break from work and the hustle and bustle, got a break from our Tuesday night Boundaries this week too due to Easter prep at Church.

~ kicked off vacation Friday night with an awesome country concert with two Canadian artists we really like, Aaron Pritchett & Gordon Bamford.

~ had a really great visit with some good friends we haven't been able to see for almost 2 years (p.s. all our friends need to stop moving to Steinbach!).  so great to catch up and spend time with their little girl.

~ visitors are a great cleaning instigator and so got the house clean for them on Sunday and can relax the rest of the week!

~ picked up Ted Dekker's latest book released this week, The Priest's Graveyard.

~ just doesn't look like it's in the cards to go on a trip this year at all, but we probably will be able to pay off our MB Hydro furnace loan and then save more money next year for a trip instead.....sigh.

~ turns out this puppy we're taking care of has already somewhat adopted me because all of a sudden he's getting really protective and a bit nippy when he and I are around 'strangers' to him.

~ I'm hoping to go see Candace Cameron Bure at Chapters St.Vital tomorrow evening, buy her book Reshaping It All (co-written by fellow Winnipeger and one of my fav blogs I follow Time-Warp Wife). I'm pretty pumped to possibly meet Candace and get her autograph (and I'm crossing my fingers TWW is there too ;) but I'm really excited to read her book about healthy body image too.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Life in Winterpeg

Everyone's posting about the unexpected, yet not surprising, appearance of snow last night and today. Here is my contribution to the complaining....albeit a photogenic complaint.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fashion Friday

not feeling so great about my gut in these pics....but none the less, can't always look perfect :)

One of my new zip up sweaters I love! Happened to have a short sleeve shirt I love that matched, now I can layer all matchy matchy :)

Some new necklaces spiced up the black top, pretty  much the only kind I can wear with these pants that have pink pinstripes you can't really see, but I love these pants so had to find a way to make it not so boring.

This pic I took at home, full length mirror, should probably take all these pics here, lol. New steel blue shirt from Jacob and rolled up my cargo's for our first warm day this year, and my grey hat I love to wear with my grey cargos.

I love this shirt, just not on a 'bloated' day, as the fabric shows everything underneath it too. These are new grey pinstripe pants I got $15 at Tigre Giant ;)

One of my fav skirts, a grey linen knee length skirt, and my fitted knit emerald green sweater.

Also paired with my new grey pants, this cool shirt I also got from GT, thought I'd try something out of my normal comfort zone and WOWZER! I like it! Hides everything well, and accentuates the curves too!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Miscellany Monday

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

~ what a week to start walking a dog first thing in the AM and last thing before bed....such a chill I’ve had! we really need some sunshine soon.

~ reading this new book, No More Christian Nice really loving the concepts I’m learning! Nice isn’t a fruit of the spirit you know...but goodness is! And if Jesus were a nice guy then he certainly wouldn’t have been killed, now would he have.

~ the rising water has been crazy, and the ice jamming up on the river, last week one side of the Disraeli was complete broken ice all just pushed up against each other and onto the bank, the other side of the Disraeli was just water, no ice...what a weird site.

~ bought this set of fun art pieces I can use as gifts for a really good deal, she is an amazing talent, check out her page if you love funky and naturey art. (thanks Pam for bringing these to my attention!)

~ hubby’s spiritual gifts are leading him down a similar path as’s neat to think of ways we can team up and use our gifts together!

~ had my BIL come look at doing some work on our house, checked out our insulation and it’s really good (yay!) but need more vents and stuff to keep condensation to a minimum, and cladding on our windows to keep air in. he brought Landon with him who got a kick out of a puppy and a kitty to chase!

~ gardening season is fast approaching, I really need to get started on preparations! I am ordering this fun gadget from Tupperware to grow some herbs with more success this year.

~I’m glad I have a doggy who needs walks 3 times a day so I’m walking minimum 20-30 minutes every day, especially on cold, rainy days I would never have got my butt off the couch!

~I got some really great new clothes because I was tired of the ‘too big’ and ‘too small’ on me syndrome I’ve been experiencing again lately....will have to have another Fashion Friday soon to share.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Silent Sunday

Our new room-mate for the next couple of months.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spirit of Solidarity

Even these words, Spirit of Solidarity, meaning "vigorous sense of membership in community, unity, fellowship", just don't seem adequate. But I don't know how else to describe this unexplainable drive to experience the inequality faced by more than half the world personally. To feel a bond with those who live like this every day. To release a fear of scarcity.

Maybe because every injustice that tugs on my heart strings is just not in my power to change, the least I can do is put myself in their shoes for a time.

So, I participated in this Solidarity Challenge through our Church from last Monday to Friday, yesterday.

I added my own extra challenge to also do my best to spend no more than $2 per day. Now unless I sold my house and quit my job, that isn't really possible, but what I did do was try to have no personal spending, only travelled in our vehicle for work and volunteer commitments, kept almost all electronics off at home other than appliances, and tried conserving in as many aspects as I could, water and energy for example.

This was far different than any fast I've ever done, although partly for the same reason, a chance to let God move my heart through this experience.  This was self-denial on a whole different level!  I think it almost would have been easier to eat nothing than eat rice & beans with nothing else that first day, the taste factor was awful, but I got through it with two thoughts.  First, it was better than the sea cucumbers I had just seen on Fear Factor last Sunday.  Second was the story our pastor told about a person who had done missions in a poverty stricken area and decided to treat them with chocolate chip cookies, but got a little indignant when they didn't appear to enjoy her thoughtful treat.....until someone reminded her they eat for survival not taste. Ouch. So, I made sure to eat every drop, very conscious of that familiar saying here in North America, 'a starving child in Africa would be ecstatic to eat that food on your plate you don't want to eat.' That wasn't my only challenge that first day, the offer of my co-workers to do a Dairy Queen run was just about torture.

The second day brought flavor and enough ingredients to make a pretty good minestrone, so it was actually a breeze physically.  But mentally I couldn't stop thinking about the abundance of comforts I still had even though I had a mere 550 calories per day.  I could turn on clean water anytime I wanted, at any temperature,  for drinking, for cleanliness, for plumbing reasons, for a hot and relaxing shower after walking our doggy room-mate for walks in the chill we've been experiencing lately. I had the convenience of soft paper towels, kleenex and toilet paper to make my life cushiony. Not to mention climate controlled, stable and protective housing with soft rugs, furniture, with closets full of clothes that are far more than tools of warmth. I had a stove and crockpot to make my cooking easy and a fridge to keep my food. Although I ate my entire portions of food, if I hadn't used all my ingredients I had the ability to store them properly for future use instead of facing the pressure to make the best use of every ounce of food at every instance. Wow, that weighed on my mind heavily.

My minestrone soup.

The third day my hunger was a little more obvious, but what was most obvious to me was the limits I had on my life. Even though I knew they were self-imposed, and that they would end in two days, it was getting harder not to immediately appease my many psychological needs, like increasing boredom (most lunch hours used to be spent in bloggy land), emotional eating, energy boosters like caffeine and sugar, even vitamin C to ward off a cold. So many 'remedies' that are normally at our disposal but I began to see how trivial these distressers were and instead of needing to remedy them I began to tackle the 'need' I felt for them.  Interesting I could finally stand up to issues I've had, like boredom eating, during this exercise (yet writing this on Saturday I can already somewhat feel the lesson waining).

The fourth day was the absolute worst! The hunger pains had fully taken over and were there from the moment I woke until I went to sleep, even though I got to add some bread. I had got a chill that lasted from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday night, but it's not like I could avoid the outside, as the doggy needed walks and it was my job (condition of Sean agreeing to doggy-sitting), so I just had this constant chill that I could not shake. I had hardly any energy or focus, I wanted to sleep early so I could stop feeling this complete physical discomfort. I gave into watching t.v. so I could be distracted from it. I got cravings for food I really hate, like fish fillets from Mcdonalds, EW! I was so close to giving up even though there was only until Friday 6 pm left. But I kept turning to why I was doing this in the first place.

My beans, rice, carrots, green peppers and curry (pictured on a small plate)

I thought my brain understood scarcity after our Justice Journey at Church, and in a way the amount I was allowed to eat in this challenge was more than my other fasts, but those were shorter, and I really hoped to make my knowledge complete by having a physical experience as well, allowing my whole being to experience suffering and denial. Focusing on survival not choice, availability, deservedness or even enjoyment.

Friday I realized how far from survival and deep gratefulness I really was.  The closest I came was being so very thankful for the vegetables and spice on Tuesday, and how desperately glad I was to have that piece of bread on Thursday.  Although I did end the challenge 4 hours early, because of a birthday celebration at work, faced with all my co-workers eating delicious homemade chocolate banana cake, I didn't go overboard like I thought I might the night before.  I denied myself a donut that was sitting around the office all day (although I saved one to have after supper). 

I still had the original supper in the solidarity plan. I didn't snack anymore than I usually do on a Friday night. But I savored each freedom I was able to exercise in my diet after 6 pm.

I of course realize I didn't do a darn thing to actually change the injustices that happen all over the world, but I do think I accomplished to change a lot in myself.  I have a rather large list of injustices I'm passionate about, I need to start choosing which ones I can actually do something about, and the time I've had to think this week has already helped with that.  I'm trying to be conscious of the effectiveness of my efforts, I'm trying to avoid the 'charity project' pattern that's easy to fall into, so I guess that leaves my first step as actually connecting with these communities that break my heart, so we can partner together for a new justice journey.

What injustices break your heart? Have you thought of how you can partner in changing that?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brad Pitt's Ego - Truthful Thursday

So I stumbled across this blog post the other day and of course the name 'Brad Pitt' drew me like a moth to a flame. Although, his attractiveness has diminished as the not-so-attractive interior shines brighter than those sparkling, magnificent eyes of his, I couldn't help but hope a little when I saw his name linked to a blog called 'Desiring God'.

Of course, I was to be disappointed.  Brad Pitt claims to have lost his faith in God because God obviously has an ego problem.


First I have to ask him, do you ask/teach your children, biological or adopted, to address you with some parental designation? Should you have no claim to any recognition for bringing them into your family and providing for them? Isn't that simple truth, not ego? Second, if your child decides they don't subscribe to that truth, they reject you as their parent, severing the relationship completely and losing all contact with you, would they not then be cut off from all aspects (especially beneficial) of your relationship?

Or, lets take the opposite argument, just because your children praise you as their daddy, are you a genie who grants all their wishes just because they 'rubbed' you the right way? Not even taking into account the possibility the lack of honesty in those words, all they have to do is profess the magic 'your the best' and happiness is theirs?

It seems very elementary that we don't come to these same conclusions, that Brad did, in our human family units, why would we come to any other conclusions just because God has the omnipotence to essentially be the equivelant of a genie?

It also seems pretty ridiculous to me that God's 'God-ness' is the problem. How are you God if you are NOT the best, if you are not the supreme (highest authority, highest character/quality, ultimate) being? Why would anyone want to follow a God who is anything less than the best? AND, claiming to be the best isn't ego when you are perfectly and exclusively capable. And what kind of ego not only steps off it's thrown, denies all rights of deity, and allows himself to die like a criminal? Hey Brad, guess what, I too cannot see God operating out of ego, but since I know there is a God (from other, far more intellectual, arguments than this), he is not the one I stop believing in, it's the existence of his ego I eliminate the possibilty of.

There IS an ego in this relationship but it is mine....and Brad Pitt's. There is someone who whispers into our fallen nature, telling us we shouldn't need to have to humble ourselves to God just to get the 'good life' we deserve. And of course, WE determine what we deserve, because actually, it's we who know best.  And if God is such a loving God, and loves us personally, he should just give us what we 'deserve' without expecting love back.

Ya. Try that one on your spouse tonight.
'Hey Angelina, I chose you, not because you are the best, I won't even acknowledge I love you, if you want that you are just being conceited and I don't think that's very loving of you. Now give me sex.'

Again, if it seems ridiculous in human terms why would God want a relationship even humans reject? But, even being on the receiving end of that rejection, God is a loving God, and he does love you personally, and he does it without expecting love back.  But he sure does hope one day you will.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

No Signal

I'm pulling the plug on Internet this week, details next weekend.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Fool's On YOU! - Laugh of the Day

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!  The laugh of the day is what I imagine your faces looked like reading my last post about becoming a Liberal!

Well, I would have laughed harder if more people had actually fell for it.
I can't believe no one dared to critisize me, even though you all could have attacked the uninformed guidance I 'took to heart', without attacking my actual beliefs, I guess politics is just one of those taboo subjects?

Oh well, worth a shot.
Oh, and just to clarify:
I do realize the party's answers could come from anything/anywhere, they even admitted on CBC news that they didn't get a lot of party participation in creating the compass.

I do realize that the initial outcome of the compass isn't weighted based on the issues that are important to me, all issues are waited the same.  Once I went and marked which were important/non-important it significantly moved me closer to Conservative.  But it also wouldn't let me scale the importance, Economy is very important to me but Morals were mosre important to me.

I do realize that I have some apathy on some issues and so marking 'neither agree or disagree' made me closer to the Liberal answers which were often a 'sometimes' vs. the Conservatives 'always'.

So, no, I am most definitely not voting, please don't let dad call me to give me heck!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Liberally Conservative

So have any of you heard about this voting compass that helps you figure out which party leans the way you do on different issues?

Well, just for kicks I decided to fill out the questionairre, even though I know I'm Conservative through and through.  Kind of like, for kicks,  I want to complete a profile on eHarmony for myself and Sean and see if we get matched up, lol. You know, to get a laugh when they are wrong, or confirmed when they are right.

Anyway, I was pretty shocked when this was my actual outcome!

I definitely agreed with 'furthest from', but I was more Liberal than Conservative? They show you your answers compared to the party's answers and upon examination of my answers compared to Liberal and Conservative answers, I had more answers the same, or closer to the same, as the Liberals than I did the Conservatives.

I really reflected on those answers and figured, I must have been biased this whole time because of my dad's political affiliations. 

So, now, I've decided to vote Liberal, after all their agenda is more in line with mine!
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