Friday, December 7

The ceremonial pre-paper post

Ah yes, I'm just about to start writing a paper, so of course, I must procrastinate just a little bit more by spewing into blogspace. Of course, I've been just about starting this here paper for almost 2 hours now...I spent the morning finishing up some research, took a little nap, woke up at 1:45, and was like "Yeah man! I can totally finish this baby today! Let's go!" And...went to make lunch. Then realized I wasn't hungry, stared at said lunch for awhile, eventually ate lunch...and frittered away time on facebook and looking at the requirements for the paper over, and over, and over again. That said, things were percolating in my head. So it was productive in terms of creative progress, just not in terms of words-on-page progress.

But now I am here, on the big comfy couch (I think I'm gonna look for a new couch with my birthday money in January...release the parental hand-me-downs to Hil and Maclean), laptop on (you guessed it) lap, blankies all 'round, phone handy so I don't have to get up if it rings, books piled on all sides, research notes scattered around, Supertramp on the record player (did I mention James brought home a record player for me from work?!!! AND that I found the records?! Hooray!). Ugh...just noticed kitchen lights are on and I should probably go be responsible and turn them off so as not to waste money and energy. But, coincidentally, the Supertramp needs to be turned over, so, it's as good a time as any to get up.

It's amazing how much useless blather I can produce in like, 2 minutes, when it takes me painful hours to write the useful stuff. Honestly, if this was double spaced, 1-inch margins, 12 pt font, I'd be halfway through page 2 by now...

So, here's the semi-intelligent, quasi-philosophical part of the post (I was reflecting the other day on how I called the blog "Big Thinks" and have lately filled it with fluff). Usually when I'm into papers and heavy schoolwork, I think of all the other things I'd rather be doing, which is in the big picture, parenting. So, this morning I was looking at other people's baby pictures on facebook, and James says "Baby baby baby...all I hear is baby baby baby...well...paper paper baby baby paper..." Later while I was researching, I was reading some woman's thesis on how women need divine figures that are complex females to develop a healthy sense of self, and she was arguing that Christianity doesn't provide this for women because the only major feminine figure in Christianity is Mary, and we only see her in the role of a mother, not as a sexualized, fully human being. The author was saying that men have an image to seek to shape their identity towards in God/Jesus, but women don't have an equivalent. Personally, I disagree. I don't believe that we can consider God "male", as he is outside of humanity. I think that God encompasses both feminine and masculine traits. I think that this is one of the reasons we gravitate toward marriage relationship with the opposite sex, as a way of mirroring the wholeness that is found in God and a way of reflecting his image and participating in his character. (I know that sounds a little yin-and-yangy...but I think there is truth to it). As I was reflecting on the character of God, and the wholeness that we see in his character and the trinity, I was thinking about the fact that there is the parent-child aspect of the trinity too. God's loving, nurturing character as expressed through Jesus is so important. Being made in God's image, I believe we have those characteristics planted in us too. Therefore, because I am made in God's image, I want babies. (disclaimer - I am not claiming that EVERYONE is called to marriage or parenthood, because I know that is certainly not the case - please don't read this as saying that those are the proper ways to take part in the character of God - they are A way).

So. Now on to the stuff that contributes to my grades.....

Monday, December 3

I better be really smart at the end of this...

So, I think this has officially been the hardest semester of my university career. I'm not exactly sure why, but for some reason, despite the fact that I feel like I am constantly doing school work, I am perpetually behind, which is foreign to me. But it's almost over. The 17th, is fast approaching. This week alone is just madness. I have a paper due today (which I am just about to start...bring on the long night), then an exam on Saturday, and final papers due next Monday and Tuesday. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to adequately study and research/write two papers, and go to work, but, I guess I'll find out! Next semester is going to be so much more manageable...I can't wait.

hehehe...Charlie loves the snow. He has never spent so much time outside without one of us to entertain him. He's out there frolicking and eating the snow. It's very funny.

I am SO looking forward to finishing exams so we can finally get settled in our house! James is going to finish the floor in the master bedroom next week sometime, so we can actually unpack and take all of the extra furniture out of the would-be dining room...and then when I'm done school I'm going to paint/wallpaper/make pretty the main living room/dining areas, and this place will finally be liveable! Not that it's not know, we're just limited to 2 rooms. It will be nice to be fully unpacked. And have my PIANO!!!!

Ok. That was my little distraction before delving into this paper. I go a little crazy at home by myself with only books and animals to talk to...this way I can pretend that I've actually interacted with people out there, somewhere...

stay warm,

Monday, November 12

Free Rice, Word Nerds!

FreeRice is a sister site of the world poverty site,

FreeRice has two goals:
1. Provide English vocabulary to everyone for free.
2. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.

This is made possible by the sponsors who advertise on the site.

Whether you're the CEO of a large corporation or a self employed street bum, improving your vocabulary can improve your life. It's a great investment in yourself.

Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide... for nothing.

Visit the site, and do something positive today other than achieving a new high score on Guitar Hero.

Thursday, October 25

excuse me while I rant for a moment...

(Preface: I am incredibly aware of and thankful for the privilege and blessing of being able to have a post-secondary education. )

So, I'm sitting in a class that wastes approximately 2.6 hours of my time on a weekly basis. The topic is fantastic, the readings are fantastic, the people in the class are fantastic, the professor is extremely knowledgeable...and yet, his weekly stream of consciousness blathering is less than fantastic. If it wasn't for the participation mark, I wouldn't need to be here - he doesn't even test on his lecture material, there's no midterm or final, I'm just warming my seat for 10% of my mark. In the meantime, I have been able to order some textbooks on amazon, which I needed to get done, so, I suppose that's good.

Education is a wonderful thing, but I am constantly amazed and frustrated by the structure/system of the undergraduate world. I don't understand how one is expected to function within this system. It makes me angry that I cannot both live a healthy, balanced lifestyle, and complete the bare minimum of my school work. Is it unrealistic to want to be able to cook proper meals (as in, not pre-packaged and frozen), walk the dog, read the newspaper,
and keep my home sort of in an orderly fashion, while I go to school work? I don't think so...and yet, if I break to do these things, I have constantly hanging over my head the reading not yet done, the assignment soon due, the studying I should do. I am amazed by students who somehow manage to complete their work, volunteer in the community, participate in school activities, and maintain their friendships. I'm finding the demands of a full course-load on its own overwhelming and unattainable.

It frustrates me to be in a program (Global Studies) that is constantly opening my eyes to many of the problems and injustices of our world, related to environmental and consumer issues, and yet after I read about and respond to these issues in my papers and assignments, I don't have the time to make changes in my own lifestyle to do my part in dealing with these issues. While I know I should be walking to the market to by locally grown food, it's all I can do to swing by the grocery store on my way home and grab a frozen pizza and a bag of baby carrots. While I know it's best for me to spend the time to by second-hand clothes and not be participating in some of the oppressive systems of capitalistic production, I don't have the time to look through rack after rack and maybe find a sweater that will work, when I know that I can run into a store in the mall, pick my size and colour, and leave. Despite my awareness that walking/busing places is possible and better for me and my world, the packed schedule I have right now makes it practically impossible to get everything in without the car. It is increasingly frustrating to have the awareness that comes with my education and be limited in my actions because of the demands of that same education. ARG!

So, that's my rant today. While I am so grateful for the ability to go to school, I am so ready to be done and put my learning in action. Instead of reading and writing about the problems of the world, I'd really like to be able to rearrange my own lifestyle in my own little corner of the world in an effort to live responsibly. Get me out of the world of ideas and into the world of actions!

Thursday, October 4

"nobody cares about your blog"...

...or so a t-shirt told me today. Seems to be true, as apparently nobody actually reads these :P

It's beautiful out there today. I can't wait for the weekend, to just get outside and enjoy it. This week has been a little nutso, SO much to do. I've gotten through it bit by bit. I have one more assignment due tomorrow, then I'm working in the evening, and then blessed Saturday arrives...I can't wait. James and I have been working towards trying to keep a Sabbath day once a week, it's so healthy (especially lately the way school has been). The thought of taking Charlie for a hike on Saturday is what's keeping me going.

I'm in class. I thought I had something to say, but, can't think of anything right now...I think it was just about being nice out today. I sat outside under a tree in the sunshine and finished my reading on my lunch break, it was quite nice. And my drive today was gorgeous. It was all foggy, and you would get snippets of blue/gray and then all the colours of the leaves. Quite pretty.

Tuesday, October 2

My cat was on fire..., literally, my cat was just on fire. Burnt cat hair stinks.

So, I have an uber-ridiculous amount of school work to do this week, which is leading me to contemplate not going to my class this afternoon, being as I haven't even touched the reading, and, to drive to Waterloo for one 90 minute class when you haven't read the material seems kind of silly when I have two other assignments to do. We'll see. James would like it 'cause he could have the car. Charlie would like it 'cause he wouldn't be alone. Monty...may not like it, being as if I am at home he is more likely to be on fire.

So I've hunkered down in my little house with my books, laptop, cup of coffee, warm socks, hoodie, laptop, cbc in the background, candles lit ( our house smells really musty...I'm trying to combat the musty smell). Everything to make my study experience more comfortable.

And then the cat jumped onto the coffee table, and went to walk across it, which would be ok if he just walked across it. But instead he stopped, right over the candles. I assumed he would feel hot and keep going. Nope. Not until half the side of his body was flaming. Very briefly, but still, there was indeed a flaming cat on my coffee table a few minutes ago.

Burnt cat hair stinks.

Friday, September 14

Too much time to think

Yes, I still have an assignment to do. I can't believe I'm on here AGAIN. A little pathetic.

So, today. No classes, therefore, official work day. Great morning, very productive. Sat on the porch with my books and laptop and got lots done. James went to work around 12:30, and my day just went downhill from there...I worked for a bit, then I stopped to make cookies (a reasonable break). I didn't know it was possible to kill chocolate chip cookies the way I did today. They turned out HORRIBLY! And as for my non-stick pans...I disagree. I have one pan that is still covered with cracker-thin burnt "cookies" that I CANNOT get off except to chip them off in tiny pieces with a knife, also removing the "non-stick" coating. urgh. Anyway, that was a bit of a sidenote.

So, I got back to work for a bit, but I can only take sitting alone with my laptop for so long before I start to get bored and go crazy, so I visit facebook, I blog, I wander aimlessly around my house, I try to call a few people...

And then I just get really lonely. And I start to think about the fact that I haven't spent much time with anyone besides James lately, even though I know there are people in Hamilton who I would love to spend time with, and that there are groups of people I know who have gotten together this week, and I just feel like I don't know how to become a part of those relationships. Do I need to put myself out there better? And how? How am I so relationally-challenged? I just wish that on night's like this when I'm feeling crumby and going nuts from being at home all day there was someone I knew well enough to call up and be like "Hey! I'm going nutso from being alone! Wanna hang out?"
This is so ridiculous! I need to take "friend-making 101" or something.
Ok. Now that I've got that off my chest, I should do something scrape cookies off a pan :P Wanna help...?

Oh dear, it's started...

So, I'm working on my first assignment.

Am I allowed to have a nap? I want to go swimming. Or hiking. Or clean my kitchen/bathroom/livingroom/front porch/yard.

I swore I wouldn't let it happen this way this year...that I would just GET THE WORK DONE and not spend time distracting myself and procrastinating. I was doing SO well...I sat through ALL of the millions of pages of reading I had to do this week, and now I have to write 4-5 pages on it, and suddenly I'm thinking "There's lots of time between now and Monday afternoon to write 4-5 pages..." Even though I KNOW that Saturday and Sunday would be WAY more fun if I just hunkered down and got a lot done now.

But I still want a nap. Or a swim.

A Question...

I've been doing some interesting reading for one of my seminar classes, "Global Humanitarianism: The Paradoxes of Giving." Neat stuff. I came across a question in one of my readings that I am interested to see how people answer.

" When our passive feelings are almost always so sordid and so selfish, how comes it that our active principles should often be so generous and so noble? When we are always so much more deeply affected by whatever concerns ourselves, than by what concerns other men, what is it which prompts the generous, upon all occasions, and the mean upon many, to sacrifice their own interests to the greater interests of others?" - Adam Smith

I think for myself, and perhaps for others, it is a conscious awareness and dislike of my selfishness that leads me to intentionally act against it. For those of us coming from a Christian frame of reference, it is also because we have been commanded to love others and to consider ourselves as stewards of the resources we have been given.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, August 27

Wow, I suck at blogging...

...but, every now and then I feel like rambling, and then I get this thought that I shouldn't bother because I haven't been keeping up with it, and I still haven't quite figured out what it's for. Is it for me to flaunt what I do and think? Or for other people to be involved in my life from a distance? And who's to say they care? I don't know, it's bizarre. But I'll do it anyway :P

I have thoroughly enjoyed this week. I'm kind of glad that the heavy house stuff let up a bit. Once we started putting the finishes on the floor, we couldn't walk on it for 24 hours after each finish, and 4 finishes x 24 hours each + working = not a lot of time spent on house. But it's been a far more relaxing week, and fun to see the floor progress. Today I can actually start walking on it with socks, so I'm thinking I may venture into the insane front bedroom that holds everything we own and try to dig out some of the kitchen stuff so we can start functioning normally in there. I can't wait to be living in one place. It's been great to have my parent-in-laws house to stay at, but sleeping in one place and working in another has been a little hectic, transporting the dog back and forth, and having to leave from one place and realizing that all of my shower stuff and make-up is at a different will be very nice to be settled.

I'm a little overwhelmed at the prospect of school starting, even though I'm totally looking forward to the school part. I'm not sure how things will work out with James and I commuting in totally different directions with only one car...or if I'll have a job that will work out with my school schedule...or if I'll be able to balance school and handling a house that is under construction and just generally needs more maintenance because, well, it's a house. And then I think about the basic things that should just be part of my day like spending time with God and walking the dog and reading the newspaper and I'm not sure if I'll be able to do it cram them into the commuting, working, studenting life. Oh well! Just have to wait and see!

In other news, James and I are loving the church we've started going to in our neighborhood. It's funny that after a year and a half of church hunting in KW we found nothing, and in Hamilton, the first church we walk into (and we CAN walk, 'cause it's only 4 blocks from our house!) was a perfect fit. Very affirming. I'm really looking forward to getting more involved, and I love that this church is so outward focused, and involved in the community. Hurrah!

So....I should go do something with my day. The fact that I need to leave this house to go shower and get ready at a different house before I do the errands that our between the two houses has been a bit of a deterrent so far...but off I go. If anyone is around today and wants to visit, I'll be at the new house! Gimme a call! :)

Sunday, May 6

God is good!

It has been one whirlwind of a week! Not only have I been working 12-hour shifts at the group home, but James and I sold our condo and bought a new house within three days. We've been amazed at how God works to provide for us. The two verses that have really been standing out in my mind lately are "For from him and through him and to him are all things." (Romans 11:36a) and " all things god works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28). When James and I first listed our place, it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere. People came through, said it looked great, and then we'd never hear from them, no offers at all. At the same time, we were looking for places in Hamilton, and everything we saw was HORRIBLE! For awhile I thought that maybe we shouldn't have listed our place. So, I was praying that if God wanted us to move that he would bring as a buyer, and then we would start looking for a place in Hamilton, but decided not to waste anymore time looking if we weren't certain we needed to move. And sure enough, we received an offer for our place on Monday, looked through our new house on Wednesday, and signed the deal on Thursday.
While we were waiting, I was really dwelling on those two verses. All things come from God. And God works all things for good for us who are called according to his purpose. Therefore whatever happened, whether we moved, or stayed, would be from God, and would be good. And it is SO much better than we expected! Thanks be to God!

Friday, April 27

Pleasing our neighbours...

My Bible study this past week was on Romans 15:1-13. Part of the study notes focused on verses 2-3, which says "Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself." They discussed Christ's life of service, and how he was focused completely on serving his father's purpose, which was to serve us, humanity, and not himself. Therefore, since Christ is our example, I am to be focused on serving my heavenly father's purpose, and on serving others. SO tricky!

So that is what I have challenged myself to be working on lately. I find it very easy to compartmentalize. Because I work in a Christian-organized group home, it's so easy to say that I fulfill my service quota. I spend long days feeding, bathing, toileting, dressing and putting up with behaviours of adults with mental and physical disabilities. That is most definitely service. And although it's certainly good, it's not enough. I am called to a LIFE of service, not to moments of service. That needs to carry out to my home life, in serving and seeking to please James, and to the rest of my life, in serving and seeking to please those I come into contact with on a daily basis. Suddenly, I am not so saintly for wiping bums all day...because after that I go home crabby and demanding because I'm tired. Not only that, but my time-off from work becomes almost 100% "my" time. The neighbours I am to please include my husband, and the people I run into, not just the people I work with and for.

So, service this week for me means holding myself to the same level of tidiness I hold my husband to (and not nagging). It means being willing to set aside my opinion. It means being patient with others in traffic, or the crowded grocery store. Basically, it is to be constant.

Suddenly, I see the potential for burn-out. That doesn't mean that I should step away from the challenge, but rather, that I should continue to follow the example of Christ. Jesus was able to constantly serve because he was constantly relying on the power of God through the Holy Spirit. He slipped away to pray and be rejuvenated in God's presence. It is only by relying on him through prayer and scripture that this service will be possible.

Tuesday, April 24

Downward mobility - A discussion starter

This is taken from Geez magazine, a great magazine that discusses social issues through a Christian lense in an artistic, thought provoking way - almost like a faith-centred Adbusters. (I highly recommend it! check out You can read all the articles online, but I'd subscribe - the actual magazine layout is fantastic, and it's fairly new - they could use the support. enough of my pitch)

1. Gather with one or several friends.
2. Quietly read and reflect on Sections A and B.
3. Consider the questions in Section C.
4. Engage in discussion that is respectful, even vulnerable.


The reality of Jesus [is that] he always descends. And we his disciples have no other choice, no other way than that of the descent. And so we are totally in opposition to our cultures. The world values promotion; Jesus values demotion.
God is hidden in suffering. The great gift of God to humanity is that Jesus is present in the sacrament of the poor.
This is a true sacrament, and like all sacraments, it is a question of believing in this mystery. The tragedy is that the world doesn't know that the poor are a sacrament. They [do not] see the poor as those who arrange and bring order. That is why the rich, the "have's," remove themselves far from the poor. They don't see the poor as the sign of God, as sacrament, as the presence of God-with-us, as those who will free us, heal and illuminate us, as those who will bring the interior unity we crave, lead us into the heart of God.
Jesus came to serve the poor. So he became poor. The good news is announced not by the one who serves the por, but by the one who becomes poor.

Downward mobility is a mockery of working class life. It is poverty made fashionable. Behavior remains the same. Those who don't comply with this "hip" lifestyle are looked down upon.
It is in the establishment of hierarchies that the middle class betrays itself - they always have to look down on somebody, a habitual attitude of power. Downward mobility is the greatest insult yet devised by middle class people against the working class.
Difficult as it is for middle class women to realize how downward mobility strikes us, they must open themselves and see what they are doing to us. I know that for many middle class women, downward mobility was a first attempt at trying to change their ways. However, those women must realize that the irony of downward mobility, its fatal flaw, is that they could afford to become downwardly mobile. Their class privilege enabled them to reject materialism. For those of us who grew up without material advantages downward mobility is infuriating - here are women rejecting what we never had and can't get!
If you have money, sister, don't deny it, share it. If you have advanced skills don't make pottery in your loft, teach us those skills. Downward mobility is a way to deny your material privileges to prove how "right on" you are. We know that anytime you get tired of poverty you can go right back to them.
Downward mobility assumes that material benefits are bad. Material benefits aren't bad, what's bad is that everyone doesn't have them.

1. Are you rich or poor? Explain what that means to you.
2. Consider your social location: would you like to move up or down the scales of power (this includes education, experience, vocation, income, neighborhood, significant relationships, travel, etc.)? Why?
3. How does religion or spirituality factor into this discussion for you?
4. Which of the above readings makes you feel more alive? Explain.
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