The Best of 2015

After having read this post by a blogger I follow, I thought it fitting to follow suit and reflect on the top 15 things/moments/experiences of 2015. Some of these were huge things, others more mundane, but altogether these made my year.

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Our first visit to the Tett and the Isabel. These were actually two separate occasions, but they’re in the same complex and together make up Kingston’s newest creativity hub. We went to watch the KSO play at the Isabel in February, then attended the Tett grand opening this May. I still can’t believe we have such amazing spaces in our city.

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Andy’s birth this March. Hands down the biggest event of the year. This little guy has changed our life forever, and we could not be more thankful for him.

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Having my poem featured on GOODJust for fun, I participated in a little poetry challenge online. I wrote an acrostic poem on parenthood.

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Winning a ticket to the 21CLI conference in Hong Kong via #whatisschool. For the last year or so I’ve been really into twitter chats as part of my own professional development. I’m really excited to attend this conference in February 2016.

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Watching the Jays vs. the Astros at Minute Maid Park. Kelvin had a work meeting down in Houston this May, so we made it a family affair. How we came to actually attend this game was pretty random, but it was definitely one of the most memorable, electric experiences of the year.

The Live Sent sermon series. We are blessed with an amazing pastoral team at our church, and this sermon series really challenged us to think about the vision of our church and how we are to go about our daily lives missionally as people of faith.

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Witnessing the marriages of some of our good friends. It is a joy to share life with those around us, and it was an absolute honour for us to have had the opportunity this year to see so many of our friends commit to serving and loving each other for the rest of their lives. These weddings took us far and wide, from within Canada, to the States, and even to Spain.

Joining the KFPL board. I talk about our local library system a lot. I absolutely love what they’re doing. I’ve always enjoyed taking on new roles, and this is one that I’ve wanted to do for a while. It’s only been a few months and already I’m learning so much about governance and about the shifting role of libraries today.

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Moving into our new house. This August, we ventured to the edge of suburbia for a little more breathing room. It’s been an adjustment, but we are settling in nicely and really loving making the space our own.

Planning my very first Edcamp here in Kingston. Ever since attending my first edcamp in 2011, I’ve been wanting to host one here in town. With the time off from work, I was finally able to get it done! Hoping this will become a yearly event.

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Our trip to Europe. I could probably fill a top 15 list from this trip alone, but hands down this was one of our favourite vacations yet. There’s something other-worldly about Europe that is so hard to replicate here in North America. We spent time in Spain and in England, and though they couldn’t have been more different, we enjoyed them both.

Discovering podcasts. I know podcasts have been around for a long time, but I just started listening to them this fall. Now I can’t stop. I listen to them all the time. Here are some faves.

Reading Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavour. This book has really broadened my understanding of what it means to integrate faith and work. I’ve loved the discussions that have come out of this, and I cannot wait to finish it with our small group.

Finally subscribing to Darling. This was one of my treats to myself on Black Friday. I fully support the mandate of Darling and I am so happy that  it now comes to my mailbox every 3 months. Pages and pages of goodness that truly feed my soul.

Netflix with Kelvin after Andy goes to sleep. One of my favourite times of day (other then going to sleep) is when Kelvin and I get to hang out, cook dinner, eat, and watch a show together. We’ve worked our way through lots, including Selling New York and Worst Cooks of America.

And there you have it – the Top 15 of 2015. Here’s to reflecting on an amazing year, and looking forward to the next one!

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Black Friday has taken our family by storm. We were at Toys ‘R Us this morning and picked up a Diaper Genie and a baby gate, both 50% off. We then ended up at Home Outfitters and got a 60-piece dinnerware set for 66% off. When we got home, the shopping continued with CMFR’s 30% sale. After mulling it over all morning, I got a 1-year subscription to Darling magazine. You can get 25% off with the discount code blackfriday15! Parental Christmas presents will likely be purchased today also. I think we have shopped enough for the rest of the year…

  
As for Andy, he continues to strengthen his legs this week. He can now stand unassisted for quite a long time, and he is learning also to slowly lower himself down from standing instead of just releasing and falling. I sometimes find him testing himself, letting his hands go a little from whatever he’s holding on to. 

  
He also gives (really wet) kisses liberally. And sometimes leaves his mouth open for long periods at a time. It’s funny but also kind of strange. 

A cool thing from last weekend – we went to the Fat Goose Craft Fair and we picked up the sweet print below from local company Ironclad Graphics. I had bid on it during a silent auction but was unsuccessful so I was thrilled that I actually was able to get one! We also got this absolutely delicious mix from Janie & Pamalamalas to add to cream cheese for dip. I can’t stop eating it. 

  
It’s going to be a busy weekend, and then we are into December next week! How time flies!

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.