Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year of Adventure

Somewhere in the spring of this year, I was looking ahead at all the things I had planned for the next several months: travel, work, the social scene... And I had so many exciting things planned that I thought wow; this is going to be a year of adventure! 2009 is now coming to its close, and it has been a year of adventure. A wonderful, fast year of adventure. ...I'm not going to reflect on the amazing events and activities that made up my year here. Chances are, if you follow this blog, I know you personally, and therefore, you probably shared in some of those adventures with me. If not, there are blog archives for a reason. But just as valuable as the adventures are the things I learned both from those adventures, and from my daily activities and routine.

I feel like I did a lot of growing this year. Stretched. Challenged. It's been good. Highlights?
  • Relationship -- No, not romantic. Just... relationship. With God, with friends, with family, with colleagues... with people I may only ever have one interaction with... God calls us to be in relationship, and I have taken that calling especially to heart this year. I will continue to keep it on my heart going in 2010. I have been blessed with so many valuable relationships in my life.
  • Patience -- People automatically assume that because I work with children, I must have the utmost patience. ...While it's true that I have no problem being ever-patient with children, I would not describe myself as a patient person. I don't like waiting. I like to know when, and I like to know how. ...I forget that not everything has to happen on time, let alone on my time. And I've spent a lot of time learning to trust that everything works out. I get done what needs to get done; I get where I need to be; the world doesn't end by taking a slightly more scenic route. When I can deal with that successfully, it's quite liberating. Looking forward to more of it in 2010.
  • Flexibility -- I fall into the Type A personality category. I'm not very spontaneous. I don't always like it when my plans get thrown out the window. ...I'm getting better. Flexibility has been a trait that has been part of my job description for the last several years, and because I recognize that it's a valuable life quality, I am always trying to learn how to bend just a little bit more, or in a different direction. A lot of this past year has required that I be flexible. Uber-flexible sometimes. Some days that was easier than others. Some days I was practically a contortionist. Other days I just had no stretch left and it showed in my attitude. ...But I kinda like being a bit more bendy...
  • Grace -- We are human and we are not perfect. And just when I get caught up in how fallible people are, and how prone to screwing up I am, the Holy Spirit moves in and floors me with His grace. His mercy and forgiveness are pure and whole and complete. His power in relationships, fellowship, and community is just... beautiful.
  • Children -- I have always loved children. I have always valued children. The connection children make with important grown-ups in their life is so valuable. But that works the other way around, too. "The soul is healed by being with children" said Fyodor Dostoevsky. I don't actually know who that is, but he makes a good point. ...I lost one of my little cuties at work this year. We've had kids pass away over the years, but none that I'd ever worked with directly. It was strange to try and process. I remember being thankful that circumstances such as that were the exception and not the rule. That for the most part, our kids get stronger, and not the other way around. I wouldn't last in my job if the instances of death were not so outnumbered by amazing, inspiring, powerful instances of LIFE. It heals the soul when you connect with a child... when you can bop to Great Big Sea with your neice on a car ride... when your nephew starts calling you "aunty"... when the little ones see you from a distance and break into a run to hug you... when you sit in the river valley and blow grass and she thinks it's the funniest thing ever... Am I making the difference in their lives, or are they making a difference in mine?
  • Be -- I like to do. I like to be productive. I certainly don't like to be bored. ...I don't often run myself completely off my feet, because I also don't like to be burned out. But I don't often just stop. Just sit. ...That whole "be still and know"...? It's hard. But powerful... if I can just stop myself moving.
...It has been a growing year. Thanks for growing with me. Looking forward to 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Reflection

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, who is Emmanuel--God with us. God came down in human form so that He could have an active relationship with His children--us. The wonder and mystery surrounding this moves me on and off throughout the year, but especially at Christmas.

"Every religion in the world is about man trying to reach up to God, like working your way up the ladder. They’re all about striving to achieve something for yourself. Christianity is the only religion about God reaching down to man and offering salvation as a free gift, with the added bonus of a personal relationship with the Creator God through Jesus Christ, who was there in the beginning." -- Francine Rivers

"Life takes a little bit of time, and a lot of relationship." -- William Paul Young

May your 2010 be rich with relationship and God's blessings and peace. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Holidays, Day 1

So, this is what my agenda has looked like so far today:
  • 8:30 -- Get up.
  • 9:30 -- Go spend time with the 'kidlets'; get offered breakfast and an egg nog latte within half an hour of arriving. Hang out at the museum.
  • 1:15 -- Return home.
  • 1:45 -- Have lunch.
  • 2:00 -- Putz around on the computer.
  • 3:20 -- Nap (with cat).
  • 4:00 -- Rouse; more computer putzing.
  • 6:00 -- Eat supper.
  • 6:30 -- Listen to Stuart McLean on CD while cleaning my room and kitchen.
Oh, the casual pace of holidays! I currently have a cat on each side of me as I type (have laptop, will cozy on the couch) who have fully accepted this new pace and have spent most of the day horizontal on the couch. Well, really, this could be what they do every day, and I wouldn't know it. But I like to think their routine sometimes matches my own when I'm home.

I was thinking earlier today of the first day of holidays when I was done school for the semester. In my freshman year, I had been required to stay right until the end of exam week given my exam schedule. Not surprisingly, once home I looked forward to the opportunity to sleep in.

My first day home happened to be the winter solstice (like today). I had been sleeping ever so soundly when my dad came in and woke me up by jostling my mattress. My parents were generally pretty good about letting me sleep in when I had nothing to be up for, so I knew that if I was being woken up, I must have definitely been sleeping in late. I rolled over and looked at the clock; it was around noon. I groaned and pulled the blanket back over my head. "Get up!" my dad stated, "it's the shortest day of the year, and you've slept through half of it!"

It's been a long time since I've been able to sleep in quite that late. I occasionally manage 11am, but those are usually the result of a 2am bedtime the night before. As I have gotten older (sigh, older, guh), I generally greet the day between 9:30 and 10:30 on weekends and holidays. It's still glorious. I will take advantage of this part of being single!

So realistically, given it is just after 8:30pm, the night is still very young. I will very likely listen to at least one more Vinyl Cafe story. Maybe two. At some point, though, I'm going out. JM wants to go night sledding--I think JP is coming, too. And when I look at tomorrow's agenda--which could play out pretty darn close to today's if I want it to--I think, "why not?" ...So I'm going sledding!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home Stretch

I have been going steady since the beginning of December, with something on the agenda every evening. Routine activities plus fun Christmas festivities, but I'm definitely starting to crave some winding down. Friday is the last day of work for two weeks, and while I have things to do both Saturday and Sunday afternoon and evening, I am taking both mornings for luxurious sleeping in. And SO looking forward to it!

Then it will be Monday, which marks the start of two weeks where the sun will wake up before me (not the other way around), and where my afternoons and evenings are mine to schedule as I please. I am very much looking forward to peace, rest, and fellowship over the holidays.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Just Add Snow...

The last 48 hours have been either a test in perseverance or a testament to perseverance--not quite sure which; but what a time has been had!

Thursday evening's weather forecasters were handing out snow warnings on the radio. I hadn't yet purchased new snow boots, because up until this point, there hadn't been any 'real' snow, so I made a point of stopping by Mountain Equipment Co-Op after work, and picked myself up of boots that totally match my winter coat, have faux fur trim, and have an Active Temperature Rating of -40. There was a slightly more expensive pair with an ATR of -100C, but I just felt like that was a bit excessive, even for Canada. :) ...Plus they weren't as stylish.

Anyway, the boots were bought just in the nick of time, as the snow was already above my ankles by the time I woke up Friday morning. Of course, I had to go for a school visit out in a rural community outside of Edmonton. Because this was the 3rd attempt at this visit in the last month, there was not a lot I was about to let stop me from getting out there. So I gave myself some extra time, pulled on the new boots, and headed out. The normally 25-minute drive was 45 minutes, but it was a fairly uneventful trip out. The highway was actually relatively better than the city roads, which were accumulating with snow and creating ruts all over the place. I had bigger challenges moving through the residential neighbourhood of my afternoon family!

I had originally planned to go walking around the Legislature grounds Friday evening with a friend to check out the Christmas lights and listen to a choir, but the snow was still actively blowing by the time I got home from work, so I nixed those plans and stayed home. Instead, I put productive energy into editing photos I had taken for my respite family the night before. I was toast by about 10pm, so I headed to bed. I figured it would be good to get a nice solid sleep, as I was selling photo cards at my church's annual Craft and Bake Sale in the morning. I changed my alarm to get me up at 7:45.

At 8:45am, I woke up. I had changed the alarm time, but had NOT actually set the alarm. Considering 8:45 was when I had planned on heading out the door, I knew I had to move FAST. I bypassed showering, hair straightening, contact lenses, and breakfast, and left my condo in a bit of disarray, but I was ready and out the door in 20 minutes! Because I had actually allotted about 15 minutes to run an errand on the way, I skipped the errand and still made it to the church on time!

Now, keep in mind, the snow had kept falling throughout the night, so now there was a good foot-and-a-half of snow behind my car. If I didn't have to be out today, I wouldn't have been. With my neighbour on stand-by (who happened to be shoveling himself out at the same time), I put my car in reverse and gave 'er. My little Honda cut through that snow drift like it was butter! I was SO impressed! It was definitely more of an effort after this to work through the ruts and drifts and snow banks on the way to the church hall, but not nearly as treacherous as I was expecting, and my little car did not let me down!

Don't Get Your Tinsel in a Tangle by gina.blankThe craft and bake sale went fairly well. I had never sold or even attended one of my church's craft and bake sales, so I had no idea if or how much the snow (and recession, for that matter) was impacting the number of people that came through. In five hours, I only had about 25 customers, which isn't a lot, but it worked out to over 100 cards (mostly sold in sets of 5). I made way more cards than I needed, but certainly better than not making enough! (If you need Christmas cards, let me know--I have a box full! ...Proceeds go towards a Kenya mission project.) I consumed several cups of tea throughout the course of the day, watched the snow from the inside, and marveled at the fact that people were buying my work!

The drive home was just as drift-filled, plus the added bonus of higher traffic volume, but again, I was not let down by my car. I would have gotten stuck in my parking stall if I'd tried to force my car in, but I let my neighbour shovel my spot out instead. This evening was supposed to be another outdoor Christmas venture with a friend, but she and I both agreed that it was not worth it, and opted for an evening home instead. I got yesterday's edited photos onto a CD, downloaded some Christmas tunes for the child I'm working with, and started some Christmas baking.

Tomorrow I am headed to JP's place to watch "Up!" with the girls. It's s'posed to be a cute movie. I follow that up with some evening respite, and then crazy-Christmas-week 2 of 3 starts on Monday! It's s'posed to stop snowing overnight tonight, and then get really cold for the next several days. I'm not sure which I'd rather have. Constant snow fall or clear but COLD. ...Either way, at least my feet will be warm.