New year, new agenda

There’s something wonderful about starting a new year with a fresh agenda.

Around early December, I went out and purchased my usual planner – a Moleskine weekly format planner – and proceeded to begin inputting dates and appointments for 2017. I really like the weekly format, which allows me to see the whole week at-a-glance on the left, with space for notes and lists on the right. December is usually fraught with google imaging different agenda layouts to experiment with before I commit to one for the next year. About a week ago, my sister sent me THIS LINK, which started me down a whole bullet journal Instagram rabbit hole…many of which were beautiful, but necessarily replicable because they would just take way too much time.

Then we went to New York City. And we stopped into Muji.

Let me say first off that I love Muji. I love their pens, their inexpensive notebooks, their clear storage containers…and Kelvin has his eye on their bed frame. I happened to pause at their agenda display, and flipped one open. The layout isn’t dissimilar to Moleskine, but instead of a lined page on the right, they have grids. Plus there’s one month of overlap on either end of the year (December 2016; January 2018). Having quite a number of extra grid pages at the end of the agenda didn’t hurt either.

I’d already made my agenda purchase for the year, but I kept turning this planner over in my head. At roughly half the cost of a Moleskine, this would definitely be a more cost-effective planner moving forward. I hemmed and hawed throughout the trip, and when we stopped into a second Muji in the city, I decided to pull the trigger.

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I’ve had the agenda for a few days now, and I am in love. The week-at-a-glance is split into 3 sections, so I use it for AM appointments, PM appointments, and tasks/notes. The right side I split into Life To-Do, Work To-Do, and Notes (miscellany). At the back of the planner, I have my goals, my chore tracker, and my reading log. I’ll add other things as necessary.

This is the happy medium I’ve been looking for between a traditional planner and a bullet journal.

 

Summer Plans

It’s summer! 9 weeks may seem like a long time, but between weddings, trips, and prepping for next year, I already know that these two months are going to fly by. In order to make the most of it, here’s what I’m putting into motion:

Setting a weekly focus

I have been following ANGELA WATSON‘s blog for a while and she wrote a post not too long ago called 6 SIMPLE STEPS TO THE BEST SUMMER EVER. I’ve followed her advice to create an end of summer vision and to assign a focus for each week. My three main goals are to (1) have my long range plans completed and an intro postcard/letter sent out to my students; (2) have a morning routine in place to maximize my day and ensure I have time for devos; and (3) have meal plans created for September. This week, my focus is on getting to know my curriculum expectations. I’ve taught all these subjects before, but I’m really hoping to do something a little different this year that allows for more authentic, integrated learning.

Explore something different every day

It’s easy for routine to become monotony when you have a toddler. So, we’ve committed to trying or visiting something different every day. Living in Kingston and in this part of Ontario, there is tons at our fingertips that we haven’t even scratched the surface of. We’re starting local, but we will definitely branch out as the summer goes on and as we venture to other parts of Ontario and North America. So far, we’ve visited a BERRY FARM, taken Andy to his first splash pad, and attended STORIES IN THE PARK. Tomorrow we are heading to the MUSEUM OF HEALTH CARE.

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30 day fitness challenge

This last endeavour is three-fold. One, I have not been going to the gym nearly enough, and my diet has been subpar. Plus, throwing out my shoulder when I wiped out while cycling has been a disincentive to any sort of physical activity. Two, we are heading to Bermuda at the end of August. Three, I am teaching 4 classes of phys. ed. next year. In summary, plenty of reasons to get into shape.

The Joy of Partial Solutions

I’m someone who has a hard time getting to the gym. It’s a ridiculously short drive away (or a 2.5 km run), but the mental effort required to get me there is unreal. 

Enter: the partial solution. 

Last week when I was really not inclined to go to the gym, I decided to go for a run instead. It was just a short one, but I felt energized. I had done some exercise, and it had only taken up 20 minutes of my time. 

While on that run, I was listening to the Simple show, and it referenced the idea of partial solutions. Serendipitous much?

Anyways, all this to say that sometimes doing just a little bit of something is better than not doing it at all. 

On Reconciliation

For the last two days, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in Toronto. To say it has been enlightening would be the understatement of the century. I have enjoyed it immensely, and I’ll do a follow up post with some of my sketch notes and thoughts, but I did want to mention one thing that really challenged me.

The keynote speaker yesterday afternoon was Wab Kinew. I will be entirely honest – I had not heard of him before. I have read Boyden’s The Orenda, so I had that connection, but I was otherwise unfamiliar with him. 

Anyone who keeps up with Canadian current events will know about the TRC report and the 94 recommendations that have been outlined in it. It is undeniable that we have a really ugly past when it comes to our nation’s relationship with indigenous peoples. The notion of reconciliation can seem overwhelming and I’m sure there are many who are desperate for examples of what it looks like. Kinew’s late father provided a poignant example, taking the matter into his own hands, by personally extending reconciliation with representatives (e.g. the pope) of the Catholic Church. To see these ultimate acts of forgiveness touched me in such a profound way.

I continue to be reminded of the brokenness that is present in our world, and how we so often make terrible decisions due to ignorance, misunderstanding, or fear of the other. Regrettably, as long as we live, we will continue to see things that are hurtful and unjust. However, I have been challenged in two ways:

  1. To consider more deeply what it means to be an ally to the aboriginal peoples of Canada
  2. To demonstrate forgiveness daily in my own life because He first forgave us

Thank you Wab for your message, and for what you are continuing to do in the name of reconciliation. 

An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess

I recently finished reading Jen Hatmaker’s 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. If you’ve spent any amount of time with me in the last few weeks, I will have mentioned it. I talked about it incessantly.

In a nutshell, the author – Jen – embarked on a 7-month project to examine and reduce seven areas of excess in her life. She started off with food, consuming only seven types of food the whole month. Then she moved on to clothes, wearing only seven items the whole month. And so this continued. During the very last month, she committed to praying seven times a day – each time with a different focus.

There were definitely moments in the book that challenged me to consider whether I would be willing to part with some of the excess that exists in my life. We live a very fortunate and blessed life, but what good is that if it isn’t shared with others? What does it mean to be the hands and feet of Jesus? How does a modern day Christ follower live out their life according to His purpose with His blessings? I definitely want to do a rendition of this project for myself, but I’m not yet sure what this will look like. For a little while, I thought maybe I could focus on a different global issue to learn about so that I might be able to pray more boldly and take specific action in that arena. However, I think part of what this book draws out is the need to take action against seemingly mundane choices that we make, and to be more conscious of the areas of excess in our own life.

In the mean time, I shall continue pondering the convictions that I have, but if you haven’t read this book, I highly suggest it. And if you’re in the KFPL service area, I’m returning my copy to the library on Monday.

 

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It’s been a weird week. Andy has been really inconsistent with his eating and sleeping tendencies, which makes for lots of unpredictability and more nighttime wake ups than I would expect. That leads to grumpiness on my part and just a general lack of unattentiveness. I had a mini meltdown yesterday where I started to silent cry while feeding him his lunch, most of which ended up on the floor. He was crying too. It wasn’t pretty. 

Despite these moments of weakness, Andy  continues to bring joy and smiles. And he continues to pull himself up on anything. 

   
Yesterday, we decided to go on a family walk around our neighbourhood. Andy fell asleep in the carrier before we even left the house. (Tangent – I wore him on my back yesterday in the carrier and it made vacuuming SO much easier)

 One of the interesting things about living in a still-expanding subdivision is that there are model homes to visit. Both homes were new to us and one in particular really amazed us! There is something to be said about smart layouts. Having a big home with lots of wasted space definitely is not better than a smaller home where everything is well-used. Speaking of homes, Kelvin introduced me to House Tweaking earlier this week. Their home is probably my dream home. 

Another thing he showed me – all the beautiful swaddles at modern burlap, which we would more likely use as a wall hanging because we don’t swaddle Andy anymore. Such truth in these quotes! 

On the reading front, I’ve got a few books on the go. Just finished Shani Mootoo’s Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab and will be starting Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. A friend ordered Teach Us to Want by Jen Michel Pollock for me and I am enjoying the author’s candidness so far in this. Also reading Rick Richardson’s Reimagining Evangelism, which is giving me a fresh perspective on what it means to share my faith with those around me. Highly recommended! 

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Biggest news of the week – Andy is scooting! It all started with him refusing to be on his back while on the change table (which was a pain). Then he started tucking his knees under his body and inching forward like a worm. Clearly he was more interested in the Penaten container on the table than he was in being changed. I think it helps that the end of the change pad acts as a little ridge for him to pull himself forward. As troublesome as this is when I’m trying to put a clean diaper on him, we’re really excited that he’s transitioning with this milestone.

With that came a realization that I am just over five months away from returning to work.
And with that came a panic that I’ve only put Andy on a waitlist at one daycare centre.
So to remedy that panic, I’ve put him on the wait list of quite a few more daycares, and I can only hope that he will get accepted to one in time for my return to work.

Until my return, though, I will stay home and enjoy time with Andy and his little quirks and precious moments. Quirks like how he holds onto the sides of his carseat when we are moving. And how he tends to sing to himself in the car. And times like Sunday night when our small group was over and he wouldn’t stop laughing.

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So this post is really late, but in all fairness, it was a really busy weekend. It was full of moving and entertaining and other little things in between. I’ve been reading Brit Morin’s Homemakers (really good for those of us who aspire to homemaking but have close to zero actual ability in the domestic arena), which contained a recipe for ombre cake.

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I thought to myself, “Oh, we are having people over on Friday for desserts. This recipe looks so easy. I should totally make this cake!” Terrible idea. A baker I am not.

The process began around 9:30 pm the night before. I was prepared with my 3 jars of frosting and 2 boxes of cake mix. The mix called for 3 egg whites, but I could use the whole egg if desired and just add a minute to the bake time. I decided to take the lazy way out. That was my first mistake. It not only gave the cake more of a greenish hue, but it made the cakes too moist. That moistness was my next problem. When I tried to take the cakes out of the pan, 2 of the 4 layers broke. I figured I could fix it with frosting…

At around 2 am, I figured the cakes had cooled enough. The tops were still sticky to the touch (yes, a cake CAN be too moist), but I needed to go to bed, so I decided it was time to frost the cakes. Now, there had already been moments in the past few hours that I thought “Hmm, maybe this was not such a good idea.” The frosting process confirmed this. I thought that maybe I could mask some of the problems of these cake layers with frosting. Surely I could make each layer look flat by building up the frosting on the sides? Nope. My attempts at forming the cake into a perfectly cylindrical shape with frosting were futile. Tired and defeated, I put the bottom two layers, which I had frosted, in the microwave.

The next day, I decided to give the next two layers a whirl. Maybe this cake was salvageable? I put what was left of the third layer onto the rest of the cake. It essentially split on contact. I didn’t even bother icing it. Instead, I sat at the kitchen table and took a fork to cake. I probably ate more of it than I should have. It was a sad, sad sight.

As my belly filled with sugar and flour, I decided that eating away my sorrows  would probably just make me feel even worse. So I put what was left of my would-have-been ombre cake in the green bin. And there it sits, with 3 jars worth of coloured frosting.

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I may try this cake again in the future, but I think I will try it with the assistance of someone who actually knows what they’re doing. I have some people in mind…

But thankfully, there is a (somewhat-related) happy ending to this story! Now that Andy sleeps through the night, I’m able to head to the gym after he goes to bed. Crucial, seeing as how daytime workouts have fallen to the wayside with a change in our babysitting arrangements. Today when I went, I found out that the long-awaited Fitness on Demand system was set up! I have all these fitness videos literally at my fingertips! I am hoping that the hour of power step that I got in made up for at least a portion of the amount of cake that I ate.

Onwards and upwards!

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Our once lazy little munchkin is starting to take initiative! He is actively grabbing for things now, and he has been going to town on some of his cloth books. I am starting to think that it’s time to move him up to more interesting toys – things that will encourage his exploration more. Maybe things that move? Or things that make noise? Perhaps he will like my recorder.

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He’s also turning into quite the chatty kiddo, especially in the mornings. I have absolutely no idea what he’s saying, but I do try to affirm his vocalizations with the odd “Oh yeah?” and “Mm hmm”. Should I be doing more to encourage this behaviour?

He falls asleep quite easily now at night, often in really strange positions. Earlier this week, he slowly made his way out of view of the monitor. We found him at the foot of the crib, perpendicular to where he was, with his little feet barely inside the crib. Last night, he managed to rotate 45 degrees and fell asleep clinging on to one of the crib slats with his right hand and with one little foot sticking out. Part of me really wants to take pictures of this, but his room is pretty dark, and I have zero desire to wake our munchkin up with a flash.

Today, for the second time since Andy was born, we left him with grandma and grandpa so that Kelvin and I could go out on our own. We headed to nearby Gananoque for the matinee performance of Pirates of Penzance at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. We absolutely love this little playhouse (I mean, you can dock your boat there and watch the show…how sweet is that? Now if only we had a boat…and a license…) and always enjoy the time that we spend there. This show (which closed today) was particularly special, because the Artistic Director adapted it to take place in the Thousand Islands!

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We are heading off on Monday for 10 days in the US so packing really needs to begin. Alas, Andy has outgrown almost all of his shorts, and we need to buy new ones and do laundry before I can really think about packing. This will be our longest stretch away with the little guy. Keeping my fingers crossed that it will all be okay, and that we will last without doing laundry!

And an update from my end – success was had with both the library board and the Awesome Kingston grant! I anticipate my first board meeting in September, and our edcamp team now has money to work with through the July micro-grant from the Awesome Kingston trustees. Yippee!

On the flip side, I also had a mini meltdown this week due to a deep dissatisfaction with my current fitness level. I had been deluded to think that I was doing okay, when truth be told, I was eating like crap and not working out remotely enough. Motherhood is not all rainbows and lollipops, I’ll have you know. Part of this meltdown involved a run at 12:30 am, after which I did not stretch, and for which I am now paying the price. Hotheadedness never pays. Anyways, my in-laws are thankfully coming with us on this trip, so grandpa is available for short babysitting sessions when gym visits need to happen. I am infinitely grateful for them.

And now, to clean my main floor…

A Wife of Noble Character

I sometimes think of myself as a frenetic busybody who can merely aspire to a slower, more intentional life. True, I have uncharacteristic moments of thoughtful introspection. But it seems most of the time I am going at least 10 km/h above the speed limit (25 if we’re on the highway). Today, aided by some wise words in Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, I had an uncharacteristic aha! moment – a recognition that despite being on maternity leave, I am still thinking of myself as a worker first and a mother second.

Twitter chats. Courses. Reading. It seems I am moderately addicted to the accumulation of knowledge. Some might think of this as a good thing. But then I thought back to my time with Andy last night. It was somewhere between 7 pm and 8 pm (I know this, because I was trying to engage with both him and #engsschat). When I looked at him and talked with him, he gave me the biggest smiles. At the same time, I noticed he kept looking at the computer screen whenever I tried to type with one hand while holding something else in the other as a distraction. “What’s going on over there,” he must have been thinking, “and how come they’re more interesting than me?”

Now, I don’t want this post to come off as a “woe is me for being a terrible person” post, because I recognize that learning to incorporate a new area of identity is always difficult. But I do want to share a few of my inner thoughts.

Naturally, I gravitated towards Proverbs 31, the quintessential passage that all Christian wives tend to pick apart, analyze, and compare themselves to. I remember the first time reading it after I had gotten engaged. “Dang, this woman has totally got it together,” I thought to myself, “Is this even possible?” (It is, by the way – I am lucky to have met some amazing women who live out this passage). And though I would be lying if I said I’m not sometimes envious of these women, their togetherness, and their humility, I also try to remind myself to be gracious when it comes to my own shortcomings.

So here it is – Proverbs 31…with a few of my own thoughts.

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.

I am blessed in that I have an amazingly supportive husband. If you were to ask Kelvin whether he has full confidence in me, he would probably say yes, but this is possibly more a reflection of his good leadership than my inherent ability.

She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.

Not on good days. Not when she’s had a full night’s rest. ALL days. What about those days when I bring nothing at all?

She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

Diligent and connected. Aspiring to this.

She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

Okay, this is one I struggle with constantly. In the mornings, I have reverted to sleeping in again with Andy while he’s in our bed. Perhaps going to bed before 12:30 might help with this. Also need to do a better job – a much better job – of the whole providing food for my family. Having charcuterie plates for dinner are nice every so often, but not when they become the norm because I’m too lazy to get groceries and actually put some forethought into what we’re having for dinner.

She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

Again with the diligence. And this woman is a savvy investor! When we were going through pre-marital counselling, we both said that I would deal with the finances. This has not turned out to be the case. Kelvin handles our investments, financing, and most of our credit cards, while I merely pay for some of our home utilities and one or two credit cards.

She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

I do work hard most of the time. But this accounts for only 2 lines out of 43.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

This woman is seriously hardworking. And has the home economics down.

She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.

Beyond just giving money to charity, this woman actually takes matters into her own hands and advocates for the marginalized. I am so often wrapped up in my own life that I do not give pause to issues that I really should care about.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

I need to learn to sew.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

In my actions, I need to consider also how this affects Kelvin’s reputation. He is really building something amazing with work and I need to support him in those things.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

Again with the sewing.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

This is perhaps the tallest order. Strength. Dignity. Foresight. Wisdom. Self-control. A combination of things that you don’t find in every 20-something. And these are things that take time to nurture.

She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:

Though Andy is not old enough at this age to be able to “call me blessed”, I do hope that we have a really good relationship as he gets older. I want him to trust me, to know that he is loved, and to see me as someone who is an example to him – a good example. And this definitely starts with me spending more quality time with him. And sharing the things that are on my heart, and that I’m passionate about.

“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

And here’s the kicker. Fear of the Lord. My time spent with the spiritual disciplines is lacklustre, and I know that until this improves, my soul is not rich soil for the working of the Spirit, and thus I am not effective in the doing of God’s good works.

All this to say that I am reminded once again of how much more I have to strive for, but also how I am encouraged, knowing that I serve a gracious God who gives us new opportunities each day to draw near to Him.

Loving the City

I came to Kingston 9 years ago at the peak of my formative years – an idealistic 17-year old who had known the comforts of suburban Toronto for all of her conscious past. The plan was to spend 5 years here, get myself a superb education at one of the nation’s best universities, and promptly return to the GTA to settle down with a government-employed husband and raise 2 kids.

Clearly, God had other plans.

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That was me. During frosh week. In front of my residence, Chown Hall, which was at the time an all-girls residence (this has since changed, I hear). How do you know I’m a first-year university student? Well, I’m wearing a lanyard for one. And that lanyard isn’t attached to a student card holder in my back pocket; it is around my neck. Also, I clearly have no regard for the fact that my shirt and my shorts look terrible together. Knowing that over 100 other people are wearing a similar uniform probably helped.

I must admit. During the first two years of undergrad, most of my focus was insular. And by insular, I mean within a 1 km radius of Queen’s campus (save for the odd taxi ride to the local mall, since I hadn’t quite figured out how to ride transit that far). Exploring the city meant taking the bus to Loblaws for some groceries. Or doing silly things like walking up Montreal Street late at night to the KFC because we were craving fried chicken, only to realize we probably should have checked the store hours (this KFC is now a Rexall). I would say I had a very small view of the city I would be spending the next four years in.

Slowly but surely, this circle opened up. Volunteering and various practicums brought me into Kingston (and even Amherstview) schools. Curiosity drew me to local establishments and events. I began dating someone (Kelvin…who now happens to be my husband) who was born and raised in Kingston. Needless to say, I came to realize that there is life in Kingston beyond University Avenue. By the end of fourth year, with my degree in hand, I would say that I really liked Kingston.

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Kelvin and me at my BAH convo. Check out his outfit before he requests I take this picture off the internet.

It was at this point that the idea of staying in Kingston long term began to present itself. I opted to do my placements in Kingston during my year at the Faculty of Education, just to keep my options open. I began connecting with amazing people outside the university, and local organizations like the Kingston Arts Council. I wanted to hear and share stories from people who lived in Kingston, so I planned an event called Kingston Through My Lens.

Before I knew it, it was the summer of 2011. I had just graduated from the Faculty and had been accepted onto TDSB’s Eligible-to-Hire List. It was time to move back to Toronto, at least for the time being.

But again, God had other plans, and by the end of August, I found myself back in Kingston for good.

Two weeks ago, Dwayne Cline from Hughson Street Baptist Church in Hamilton came to speak at our church (full audio here). A self-proclaimed rural boy, he never thought that God would call him to minister in the city. And yet, this firecracker of a speaker is living and serving and raising his kids in the inner core of Hamilton. He shared with us some thoughts on this passage in Jeremiah, one of Kelvin’s favourites.

Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
— Jeremiah 29:5-7

Somewhere between buying a home here in Kingston, and standing in the shade of the beautiful Isabel Bader Centre, with an unobstructed view of Lake Ontario, it dawned on me…I love this city. I love how creative this city is. I love that people are so willing to take chances on you and invite you into the city’s conversation. I love the food and the outdoor space and how “rush hour” means waiting 2 lights instead of 1 for a left turn.

But this passage got me thinking: How am I impacting the city that I live in? And how am I living intentionally in the place that God has called me to be?

If you had asked me in 2012 whether I felt I was doing this, I would have been able to say, without a doubt, yes. But since I started working more permanently, I feel like I have disengaged somewhat from Kingston. This was a sharp reminder that we exist, and our churches exist, to really minister to the community that God has placed us in.

I am challenged to demonstrate my love for this city by engaging once again with it and with the people that make it what it is. I want to take the time to really enjoy our local culture, and to listen to the stories of those I meet. But above all, I want to pray for this city, and to seek the peace and prosperity of this place we now call home.

Kelvin and I both have opportunities this year to make a difference in the lives of people who are here in Kingston – those who are here permanently as well as those who are just passing through. It’s about time we take them.

the art of being a woman

In a world where so much of who you are seems to be wrapped up in the external – in accomplishments, in appearance, in possessions – it is immensely refreshing for my soul to be reminded of what true beauty is.

Growing up, I had subscriptions to your typical teenage girl magazines – Seventeen, YM…I cut pictures out of them to make collages – collages full of photoshopped women, advertised beauty products, and the like. I’m happy to say our subscriptions have grown up since then. We now welcome Kingston Life and Spacing into our home, in addition to my professional magazines. About a year ago, my husband introduced me to a magazine called Darling. I was moved by its mission and intrigued by the way it distinguished between eight female personas. I promptly subscribed to their online content, and I will admit it is probably the only feed that I read in its entirety.

I’m someone who has often found her worth in achievements and in an ability to get things done. This has served me well on a number of occasions. However, it has also left me utterly devastated more than a few times.

At church today, our speaker touched on the reality of our brokenness as people and our deep need for healing and restoration. I was challenged to consider the reign that God has (or doesn’t have) over all aspects of my life, and I couldn’t help but be convicted of the fact that I have yet to allow him to make an indelible mark on my life. When people see me, do they see someone whose life has been transformed by Christ? Sadly, I don’t know that they do.

All of this brings me to the ideas of identity, worth, and beauty. What does it mean to be a woman, and to live well? Undoubtedly, all women are unique, with different aspirations, different values, different needs. However, I believe there is a certain something that we should all be striving for, to live life on earth with purpose and meaning that extends beyond just the here and now. As a mother, every day I am learning to understand and accept the changes that have occurred in me (mentally and physically) since taking on this new role. I have some seemingly abrupt new ambitions. I have a slate of new responsibilities. And simultaneously, I have a new image of myself to either accept reluctantly or work hard to reform.

In short, it’s a tough act to balance.

And so, I am thankful for the care and thoughtfulness that goes into a magazine like Darling. For curating content that inspires and uplifts and is authentic. In an attempt to foster what I think is a very healthy mindset, I’ve ordered the most recent issue of Darling and I can’t wait to receive it.

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This was one of those weeks during which I was reminded of God’s sovereignty and goodness in our lives.

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Andy had his 2-month check-up (a little late, yes…) on Wednesday, and this big boy is in the 97th percentile for weight! At our appointment, our doctor had trouble getting his red reflex, which is a test they do to make sure that optically everything is okay with your baby. She told us not to worry, and referred us to the ophthalmology department at one of our local hospitals. Worst case scenario? He has something called retinoblastoma and he will need surgery to remove his eye.

Naturally, that’s one of the last things you want to hear from your physician.

It’s times like this that we are so thankful for the people around us who support us, encourage us, and most importantly, pray for us. We sent messages and emails out right away to let our small groups know the situation. This was at around 11 am. God works in amazing ways, including placing great friends in our life (including one who is a resident in the ophthalmology department!), and by 1 pm, we were seeing the paediatric specialist at the hospital. We praise God that Andy is indeed okay, and at the same time, we are also reminded of the inevitability of one day having heartbreaking circumstances to deal with.

While I was waiting for the ophthalmologist, I got talking in the waiting room with a couple from Brockville whose daughter was born quite premature. She was 3 months old and had just been released from NICU. For the last few months, they had been staying at Almost Home, a local charitable organization that provides “a place of comfort and respite for families whose children are receiving medical treatment in Kingston area hospitals”. My heart goes out to families in that position, and I’m going to find out more about the organization so that I can nominate it at our next 100+ Women Who Care meeting.

Beyond this, Andy is sleeping for about a 6-hour stretch at night, which is marvelous for me :) I finally get a chance to rest in the evening and do things, like write this blog post. And read. I love reading. I went a little crazy last night and requested about a dozen books from the OCT library. I’m looking forward to receiving them.

On the note of PD, this is the last week of a MOOC that I’m taking. I completed the assignment and posted it for feedback on a discussion thread…but didn’t submit it. Super fail. Especially because that process is worth 45% of my grade. I was seriously bummed on Monday (like super grumpy and angry at myself), but I attempted to right my wrongs by submitting my final assignment for another MOOC that I’m taking (which ends next week) about 5 days early.

I’m also beginning to plan for our trip to Nashville (should we rent a car?). Suggestions for restaurants to try and places to visit would be much appreciated.