Three posts I have posted tonight, but I just didn't want to space them out over three days and I also didn't want to squish them all together into one. So once you read this, keep scrolling down and read about our fall retreat and beach homework day. Three is thrice as nice.
So you know the saying, "You learn something new every day"? Well, as much as I would like that to be true, it doesn't feel like I can name something new that I've learned every single day. But today I think I realized something. Wanna hear it?
Today I realized that it's important to always be excited about something.
It took me 24 years to figure this out.
Shouldn't there always be something that you're excited about that keeps you going? I'm serious! What's the point in getting up the next day if there is nothing that you're excited about?
It could be something small like, "I'm excited about baking bread tomorrow."
It could be something larger like, "I'm excited about the weekend."
Maybe, "I'm excited about buying a house one day."
"I'm excited about seeing Lennox again."
"I'm excited about being out of debt again."
There should always be hope and excitement of what's to come! And the more of a time line that what you are excited about has, the more exciting it is! I'll be out of debt ONE DAY vs I'll be out of debt in THREE YEARS, TWO MONTHS, AND SIX DAYS. Right? One is more exciting than the other. But both are good to be excited about.
Excitement equals hope. You need to have hope. You need joy. You need excitement.
Without hope, things feel pointless. Things become drudgery. Things are just a drag.
So what are you excited about? What keeps you going? What are your hopes? Hmm? I told you some of mine...
This past weekend was the annual fall retreat for our school. It was out in the mountains, about a 1 1/2 - 2 hour drive from here. It was a beautiful drive, that is, if you could actually take your eyes off the road. I had my eyes glued to the narrow winding road in a desperate attempt to not get sick. I am such a prairie girl when it comes to mountain roads. But once we were up at the camp, I enjoyed the trees, mountains, and silence.
My favorite part of the weekend was when I hiked up to "Inspiration Point". It's about a 10 minute hike up from the camp to a lookout where you can see mountains all the way around you.
I went up there Sunday morning while everyone else was having breakfast. I was the only one up there, so I spent an hour taking some pictures and just sitting there soaking it all in. I sang a bit and prayed a bit and left so very re-charged. Being in nature and silence (without sirens and tires squealing and bass and general traffic noise) is something that I love and need. If only driving through the mountains to get there wasn't such an ordeal!
The cabins were quite a shock, though. I knew that I shouldn't have been expecting much, but I don't remember the last time I could see daylight through the walls of the place I was going to sleep. It wasn't a question of if there were mice and spiders in our room...it was how many mice and spiders there were. Neither Nathan nor I wanted to sleep across the room from each other, so we ended up sleeping together on one of the twin beds. I can't say that we'd ever done that before. But it actually worked well, and we both got a decent night's sleep!
Oh, and there were lizards all over the rocks while I was up at the point. When I sat still for a few minutes, they came out all around me and were sunning themselves on the rocks. So cool.
Nathan and I did homework at the beach last week. Well, Nathan did homework and I read my book. My fiction book. My "has nothing to do with theology" book. Then again, it is quite deep, theological, and profound if you read beyond the basic storyline...
Anyway, time for some pictures. This is the day that I learned that my favorite spot on the beach in 40 degree weather is in the shade. Nathan likes the sun...
As we were leaving, we were given the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as our ticket out of Hell. Interesting form of evangelism...leave a random paper on a table at the beach telling people that they're going to Hell. What are we, as Christians, supposed to do when we find something like that? What a dilemma...
Since Back-to-School shopping isn't really a feasible option for this year, I figured the least I could do is give my blog a (free!) new fall look. But what a ton of work! Two and a half hours of picking a template and re-setting all my links. There has GOT to be a faster way of doing this! But at least I have something new to look at for a while! At long last, time for a movie night with my love. Later!
1. Air conditioners are on the roofs, not on the ground.
2. Grocery stores smell like...well, let's just say they don't smell the same as Canadian grocery stores...
3. To take your shoes off just inside the door of someone else's house is considered forward, gross and rude. You keep your shoes on until you've been given permission to "make yourself at home." In Canada we would think you rude for tracking snow into our living rooms...
4. Processed food and fast food are SO inexpensive.
5. If you go into emergency, it only takes an hour or two to see a doctor instead of waiting all night.
6. When you need to see a specialist, if you don't get an appointment for the very next day, it's definitely within the week.
7. Their accents are different, eh?
8. SO MANY POLITICS!!! And liberal is not a word used to describe churches...ever. Liberal vs. conservative is government. To call a church "liberal" seems to be quite a negative thing.
9. French is not the second language. If there is a language other than English on a box, it's usually Spanish.
10. No Superstore, no IGA, no Canadian Tire, no Tim Hortons. But Subway has $5 footlongs!
A couple days ago I wrote a post about how it has been for me since we arrived here in California. And I feel like I kinda left it open...not quite finished or right.
Yes, the first month here has had it's tough days, but it has definitely had many good days as well! We have met some WONDERFUL people! We have made alot of memories! We have enjoyed our classes and had fun setting up our "new" life. The new culture and experiences have been amazing.
But yes, it has had tough days too. The culture is quite different and I hadn't expected it to take time to adjust. I thought that, since we are still on the same continent, things would be relatively the same as Canada and therefore we wouldn't need time to adjust. Wrong! : ) So naturally there will be an adjustment period.
I mentioned in my post that I am quiet, or at least perceived to be quiet at first. In no way did I mean this to be a negative thing! Being quiet is wonderful! Being quiet is a gift! I embrace the quiet side of me because that's who I am and who I've always been. And it's good! But many people, in seeing that I am "quiet", assume that I have no sense of humour and tip-toe around me, afraid to offend me. (I don't get offended or uncomfortable very easily because of what people say) Sometimes I make a joke and everyone stares blankly at me because they don't understand that it was just a joke. They just don't expect it from someone so quiet. So it's not the fact that I'm quiet that bothers me...it's the fact that I'm often misunderstood because I am quiet. Does that make more sense?
Life is good. There is a grand two year adventure ahead of us here in California and I am excited to experience many new things. I am feeling more and more rested and adjusted every day and it is becoming more and more "home." Thanks for your comments...if you think of us in the next couple days/weeks, you can pray that the adjustment continues to go well.
Thanks for reading!
(Wow, I don't think I've "signed off" a post before...that was strange)
Twice in the past week I have been thanked by people for being open and honest, both from my blog and from real life. Though it may not seem like it to anyone who has read my blog for the past year, it is tough for me to be open and honest all the time. To be completely honest, I am not always completely open here in the blogger world. : ) Shocking, I know.
But I do find value in being open. I find great encouragement from others who are open and honest. I believe that God has called me to be open and honest. So open and honest I will be.
Where do I start? Hmm...
I have had alot of fun since moving here. I have made wonderful friends and fun memories already. It's only been 5 weeks since we've arrived. Five weeks! SO MUCH has happened!
The first week was full of energy and excitement. I was excited to be here. I was excited to get all settled into our new life. I was excited to get to know people and to get into the swing of things.
The second week is when my energy began to die. Quickly, I know. I'm an introvert and first weeks anywhere - except at a monastery - are generally filled with people, people, people! I recognized this pattern in myself a while ago, though, and knew that this was to be expected. I looked forward to week #3 when my energy would begin to climb again, like it always does.
The third week, as predicted, my energy climbed and I made more fun memories and got to know people better.
By week four I was feeling quite drained again and like the last thing I wanted to do was hang out with people. I just wanted to jump on a plane and see people I knew, who knew me, who I was comfortable and at home with. I didn't feel at home here and felt like I couldn't relax. Tough week.
Week five, probably the toughest yet. I just couldn't seem to get enough sleep. I was sleeping fine at night, but one night I slept for almost 12 hours and then was ready for a nap an hour after getting out of bed. I was just always tired (from so much new and so many PEOPLE!). And with tiredness came stress. And with stress came...more stress! This was my second week of not wanting to see anyone around here. I would hide out in our apartment because seeing people outside just drained the energy out of me. The energy that I was already sadly lacking. I just so badly wanted things to feel like home already.
Ok, I can stop talking in past tense now. This is still how I still feel. I want this to be home. I want familiar people. I want familiar places. I want to know the people around me. I want the people around me to know me!
See, I have this impression that I make on people when they first meet me. (tell me if I'm right) I am quiet. Is that the impression that I made on you when I first met you? See?! I'm right! The thing is, I'm not that quiet! Well, I AM quiet, but not as quiet as many think. So I end up feeling trapped in the "quiet box." Like after I make the first impression of being quiet, people assume that I am always quiet and shy and that I must not have much to say. BUT I DO! So there is where the energy-drain comes in. Have you ever felt like you made an inaccurate first impression on someone and you're not sure how to break out of that box that they have you in as a result? I feel like I'm in that box! Throughout school, many teachers and adults would have described me as quiet and shy, but among my friends, I was usually quite talkative and, sometimes, the center of attention. I actually enjoy being the center of attention, though I don't usually do things to put myself there these days! In high school, I was part of the "core" of the youth group. I initiated things. I was part of things. I wasn't really ever the quiet one in youth. Sure, I was known as a "contemplative" and "thoughtful" one, but not "quiet" the way I feel like people see me now. Quiet back then was a character trait that perfectly complimented who I was and didn't overshadow the real me. Now, I feel like many people can't look past it to the fun-loving, vivacious person that I really am!
So, honestly right now, I love it here some days and hate it other days.
Honestly, I've already looked at plane tickets away from here.
Honestly, I've come close to counting the days until graduation.
Honestly, I often feel trapped in a "quiet box."
Honestly, I desperately want to smash my "quiet box" to pieces (smithereens actually) and let people see the real me.
Honestly, deep down I am excited about the next two years here.
Honestly, I am excited to get to know the people here and for them to get to know me.
Today I went to a puppet show. It was the first puppet show I've been to since, probably, Uncle Harold at Ketchen Lake Bible Camp back when I was a counsellor there. So I can honestly say that this was the most entertaining puppet show that I've been to in years!
It was early this week when I noticed a bright red sign hanging on the gate into the court.
"Please come to "E"'s puppet show. Friday at 4:30."
It was obviously made by the great puppeteer himself, so I marked it down on the calendar. And today was Friday, so at about 4:22 I went outside to be sure I didn't miss the show.
Right away, "E" noticed that Nathan and I were there to watch the show and informed us that we were early. And then he reasoned that we must have come early to be sure that we could choose the best seats for ourselves. We agreed and proceeded to laugh every time anyone else was informed of their earliness!
At 4:30 on the dot, once everyone had arrived, a beaming and excited "E" came running out of his front door, arms in the air, yelling, "Welcome to "E" 's puppet show!" What a great entry. It was so good that we asked him to go back inside so we could see it again. His little sister also wanted to make a special entry, but instead of a loud, energetic show, she quietly opened the door, stepped outside and began twirling like a ballerina. Equally cute but very different. I was sure to give her a big smile to let her know that I enjoyed her entrance too.
Well, the puppet show began right away. I was expecting there to be a story that the puppets would act out. Silly me. Of course it would be stand-up comedy! What else??? We watched three or four different animal puppets telling jokes about falling on their heads or twirling around. (Don't worry, there weren't any bathroom jokes, thanks to "E" 's mom who warned him not to share those during the performance) At this point in the performance, sister decided that she wanted some of the attention too, so she hopped behind the puppet stage and tried to add her puppeteering skills to the show. "E" didn't like this and his head popped above the stage very quickly, asking Mom and Dad to please get sister out of the way. There were very nearly tears on "E" 's part, but with some skilled adults there to distract and keep things moving, we were rolling again in no time.
I don't recall there being any more stand-up comedy after that interruption, though. I do recall flying puppets (if one hit you, you were lucky enough to be volunteered to be in the puppet play yourself!) and adults trying to dodge the flying puppets so they wouldn't have to "volunteer".
We all sat and watched the pandemonium of flying puppets and silly bum dancing for about half an hour when Mom kindly encouraged the kids to take their final bow. This is when the tears came because "E" had planned that this would be a LONG show. We gave him a very rousing round of applause (even a standing ovation) but I'm afraid his sister (who was bowing and looking in awe at everyone clapping) took most of the glory as "E" was busy being sad that it was over so soon.
All in all, that was probably the excitement of my day. It does make life more exciting to have kids living right next door and to have their front yard be your front yard too. I'm sure there will be many puppet shows and bike trick demos to come...though the next puppet show may not be quite as entertaining as this one. Some things are more special if they only happen once. ; )
I have a love/hate relationship with mornings. I love the morning stillness, the quiet. I love the freshness of mornings. I love the newness and the brightness. I love everything about mornings except what I have to do in them: get out of bed.
This act of getting myself out of bed is so rough that it has almost ruined the "a.m." part of each day for me. It's a struggle each and every morning...and it requires a technique that is almost impossible to find. If I get out of bed too quickly, I get lightheaded and black out (no fail, every morning). If I get out too slowly, it takes much more willpower than I possess first thing in the morning. Eventually, one way or the other, I always make it out of bed, and, once I am out of bed, it usually gets easier from there. I say usually. The last few mornings have been just brutal! My body is naturally kind of numb for a good 1/2 hour after getting up but lately it's lasted until about 11 o'clock! My legs feel like lead and I don't feel like my blood is pumping quite up to par just yet. It's like everything that was slowed down for sleep doesn't wake up when the alarm goes off...it takes a couple hours. And in the meantime I'm left trying to function with a still-sleeping body. Does that sound familiar to anyone else out there? HOW DO YOU FUNCTION LIKE THAT?!?
Anyway, yesterday morning I was having such a hard time keeping my eyes open and focused during class that I left class partway through, went to the bathroom, and jumped around for a while. I did some jumping jacks, swung my arms, swung my legs...anything to get my blood flowing. And do you think that helped? Nope. Still falling asleep. Still numb and sloth-like. So this morning before class I thought I would try to do some exercises and have some coffee before class to try to avoid the drowsiness altogether. I did some jumping jacks and jumped around a bit, trying to wake up my body a bit and took my coffee with me to class. To no avail. I was just as sleepy as yesterday! What to do, what to do?
Some may suggest that perhaps I should go to bed earlier. Well, this would seem logical. In fact, I've thought of it myself. However, Nathan and I have a job which requires us to be working until at least 10pm every night...and then we need showers...and then we need to unwind...and before we know it, it's after 11pm and we're still not in bed. The only logical solution would be to completely shift my morning back about 3 hours. Instead of getting up at 7am, I would get up at 10am. That way I would get 3 hours more sleep every night, my body would wake up only 1 hour after getting out of bed instead of 4 hours later. I wouldn't need naps, and I would be much more rested! Let's see, do you think I'll be able to convince the school that we should shift the classes back a couple hours??? Hmm...it might be worth a try.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have really been enjoying the seminary life, classes specifically. It has been so nice to have my mind stretched and to think about ideas that I wouldn't normally think to ponder. For instance...
Who are people of God? OR Who is the people of God? Is the second way of asking improper English? Not according to the Greek. So further into this question...Is/Are the people of God the Jews/Israel? Or is/are the people of God the Gentiles? I had no idea that this was actually an issue! I had always assumed that the people of God is made up of whoever accepts the gospel! Right? Or not? Hmm...
Another interesting point that has been discussed is heaven. Or is it earth? Where will we be when we die? What will eternity look like? And how will our beliefs about the end times affect how we live today? For example, some believe that when we die, we will go "up" to heaven and live there with God for eternity. I had grown up believing this. I hadn't really thought much of it...live on earth, die, go to heaven. Done. (except not "done" because eternity has no "done") But recently - actually before we arrived at seminary but brought up again once here - I heard that there are another ideas about what eternity will be like. In fact, there are many, many variations of ways to imagine the end of time! Perhaps heaven is just a "waiting place" for people who have died before they come back to earth at the time of Jesus' return when he establishes his Kingdom on earth...on the actual ground that we walk on today. If we believe this, we'd better be taking care of our planet now because we have, say, the rest of eternity left to live here! I had always thought that the old earth (the one we are living on now) would pass away and that we would be in heaven. This new idea of spending eternity on this very same ground (though everything will have been made perfect and is now God's Kingdom) is interesting... In the end, I still believe part of what I believed before: whatever happens will happen, no matter what we think will happen. And either way, whether we spend eternity in the clouds or here on earth, we were appointed as stewards of creation, so we should care for the environment. Sorry to ramble on, but there is so much going through my mind right now! My brain is getting alot of exercise after sitting fairly dormant (at least academically) for a couple years!
There are some things that I just don't really care for in the classroom setting. Morning classes are a struggle...somehow my eyelids just seem to be so much heavier before 11am than after! And I also don't really care for all the history "stuff". For some it's math that just floats right over their heads. For other it's science or English. For me it's history. I just can't seem to put it all together or make any sort of sense of it at all. It is all just random facts with no sense of a timeline or significance or big picture. Well, ok, I can grasp some of the significance, but most of history just goes right over my head! (and I'm left staring at the clouds in sheer boredom)
First off, I need to start by telling you all that it rained last night! It actually feels strange, because every other day we've been here (almost a month now) has been sunny and warm. And this morning I woke up and looked out the blinds and I had to take a second look because the picnic table looked wet. I thought maybe the sprinklers had just made it wet, but then I noticed that other things looked wet too...and that our eaves are dripping. It rained in the desert! What a weird feeling! Apparently it's the first day of rain in the last 30 days here. I think I may take advantage of the cooler temperatures and go put on a hoodie and socks! It is a chilly 17 degrees outside! The fresh rain smell is nice coming in the door though.
In other news...the potluck went well. (Yes, we did have a guest appearance by Spiderman - front left in picture) I had a number of people ask me what I ended up taking to it. Well, I've heard that you should always take something that you, yourself, will eat so that if there's nothing else there that you like, at least you have something. So I ended up making a hashbrown casserole type thing. Hashbrowns with chili-type stuff on top with cheese on top, baked. It turned out that there was alot of good food there...stuffing and mashed potatoes, salads, fried chicken, meatless chili, Japanese dumplings, deep fried veggies, sushi...there was a big variety! I was also surprised with a birthday cake that one of the other girls on campus made for me! That was a fun surprise! We ended up staying outside and visiting with our neighbours for 5 hours. It was pretty fun, despite my dread. Thanks for all of your suggestions! It sounds like these potlucks will be monthly, so now I have a list of ideas to refer back to every time!
As I mentioned earlier, yesterday was my birthday. September 13. And yes, I was born on a Friday...though I'm sure it wasn't a misfortune, seeing as how I was due in August already. My mom was very happy to not be pregnant anymore, Friday the 13th or not! Anyway, we started the morning with a little sleep-in and then church at 11. We drove up to church with some friends and then directly from church we kept driving out of the city and went to the beach for the afternoon. We picked up Subway on the way and had a picnic on the beach. We also found a little dinosaur toy on the beach that was clearly abandoned so we enjoyed it's company all afternoon (he sat watching us as we lay on the beach) and then we brought him home and gave him to a little boy who lives here in the court. He was so pumped that he had a new dinosaur toy. I'd never spent my birthday in 30 degree weather and sunshine, laying on a beach so that was great fun. I'm pretty sure one year it snowed either on or around my birthday though! I just can't even imagine snow this year on my birthday. Everything is still so green and summery that I can't even imagine the trees all changing color and loosing their leaves!
Once home, we finished our day with pizza (Little Ceasars $5 pizza!) and a movie (Pink Panther 2). It was a good end to a fun day. And now it's rained, so I guess that's an extra birthday bonus!
I finished my first seminary project last night. No, not a paper. Remember when I talked about going to Wal-mart, wandering for an hour, and coming home with a ball of yarn? Well, this is what I made it into. A hoodie. It actually took 3 balls of yarn. There are a few things I would do a bit differently next time, if there ever is a next time. But overall I'd say it turned out pretty well. I'm not sure that I'll ever wear it, but we'll see what it's like this winter. It might be perfect. Either way, whether I wear it or not, it was a fun project to work on...something completely different from an afghan or scarf. My next projects (yes, I have two) are going to be an afghan for our apartment and a rag quilt, the supplies for which are a birthday present from Nathan's parents. And, from my parents, I got $$$ for a quilting loom that I saw at Wal-mart so there will be a few more project options opened up with that once I find one that's the right size! So many projects all of a sudden! I'm getting very excited about the next couple months!
Pictures of our sold house! I realized all of a sudden this weekend that I don't have any pictures of our house with the "SOLD" sign! And that is a picture that I really wanted! So I sent out a plea on Facebook for someone in the area to run out with their camera and take some pictures and send them to me. Within a couple hours, I had 7 wonderful pictures from my good friend (and former neighbour) Nikki Friesen. Thank you so much Nikki! We sold for quite a bit lower than what we were asking, and VERY much lower than our original asking price. But all we wanted was for it to be sold, so, after quite a few counters to the offer, we agreed on something that would work for both of us. And then, the very next day, we received another offer! This one was higher (*groan*) but included a condition that they sell their house before they would buy ours. Well, having had our house on the market for 5-6 months already, we weren't really interested in waiting for someone else's house to sell as well. And we had already signed the first offer so we were committed to sticking with that one, even though the second was a few thousand dollars more. Oh well. I'll take the hit to be done with it at the end of this week! Possession day is this Friday! Whoo-hoo! We're pretty excited! We've still made a profit, despite the selling price being almost $20,000 lower than our original asking price, so that is a blessing. It will certainly help with our tuition and living costs while down here in California! God really does know exactly what we need.
And now that I'm writing about random things, I'm remembering more and more to tell you! So, I'm going to make a confession here. I am a nerd. There, now you know. And to prove it, here is a picture of my nerdiness in all it's glory. The school has a huge pile of used books that they are trying to give away. Now, this is right up my alley to begin with. But while I was looking through books the first time, I found an old Algebra textbook. I laughed when I saw it and left it there, but then I wished I'd grabbed it (yes, I found algebra great fun in high school). So I went back and tried to find it. My high school math/calculus teacher used to get so excited when companies would send him their new textbooks to try to get him to use them. He would come to class and tell us about how he got so excited the previous evening as he did questions from these books...that's what he found fun. The entire class, myself included, laughed and thought he was so weird. And now I've grabbed myself an Algebra text and am excited about doing questions from it. Arg...I am such a nerd.
So there's the last couple days of my life! Random post but life is random sometimes...most of the time. Now I'm going to catch up on all of your blogs and then do some dishes that have been piling up for way too long now. Two disadvantages to this life, as far as dishes go: small kitchen = no room for dishes to pile up. Four place settings = only so many meals before the dishes NEED to be done so we can eat again! Hmm...now that I think about it, perhaps these are good things...
We, as a court, are having a potluck tonight. Now, truth be told, I've never enjoyed potlucks all that much. We used to have them pretty regularly in the church I grew up in and I don't remember ever looking forward to them much. I would rather eat my mom's food, which I knew I liked, than try other people's food. I guess I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food. Anyway, so tonight we are having a potluck as a court. And as it turns out, I have not developed a huge love for potlucks over the last 15 years. Weird, eh? I know. So I have no idea what to make. Married couples were asked to bring a main course type thing so I can't even cop out and just make a yummy dessert. So please, please, please...take a minute and brainstorm what you would take to a potluck if you had one tonight. And then let me know! I NEED IDEAS!!! Thanks.
p.s-before you all go and start telling me how important potlucks are for community and fellowship, I'll save you the trouble and tell you that I know. I agree with that aspect of them. Eating together as a community is a wonderful thing, something that should happen regularly, but I'd be much more game for ordering in pizza. : )
Isn't it interesting how sometimes the same point keeps being driven home over and over throughout your day? Let's see, I've been up for how long...not quite two hours. And already I have heard basically the same message twice! Do not boast. Do not be proud.
The first time I was reading 2 Corinthians 12.
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
As I was reading this I thought, "hmm, good point," but kept right on with my devos. Then I came to the computer and as I was looking through blogs, I opened one that is a daily devotional and there it was again. A whole devotional about not being proud and not boasting.
“…you treat the potter as a lump of clay. Does a book say to its author, ‘He didn’t write a word of me?’ Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it, ‘She had nothing to do with this?’” Isaiah 29:16
So twice in two hours I have heard that I should boast only in the Lord because I can do nothing aside from him and that I shouldn't take credit where the credit belongs to God. Hmm...I think I may have some self-examination to do today!
Most nights, alot of us in the Court eat supper together outside. Whenever Nathan and I have our supper ready, we head outside to the picnic table and, if there isn't anyone there yet, we are usually joined by at least a couple of other people. Well, last night there was a group of 7 of us eating outside and the conversation turned to the palm trees that are around the court. Specifically, the talk was of what it would take to climb a palm tree. The guys decided that lumberjack-style would probably work best so while one of the guys ran for his towel, I ran for my camera. Three of the guys (and one professor who happened to come by during our evening activity) tried their hand at climbing palm trees. Now you must understand, before you go judging these guys on their poor climbing ability, that these palm trees are the kind with no ridges or anywhere to put your hands and feet. These are smooth with no hand or foot grips at all. I've climbed a palm tree before, almost two years ago when we took our Buhler family trip to California, but that was a very different type of palm tree. I do hope to master the art of climbing the trees we have here on campus, though, before we leave in two years. The tricky part will be finding a time to try without alot of people crowding around with their cameras!
Matt getting ready, planning it all out in his head. Visualize...
Cheering section: Nathan, Mary, Phil.
Steve getting into the proper mindset...can you see how hard he is concentrating???
Matt reaches the rooftops...though I'm sure he could reach these rooftops while standing on the ground. Shh...don't tell anyone.
The palm tree gives quite the splinters. Ouch. Now I'm glad I didn't try! Nothing like a splinter-picking party.
Yay! Victorious! You showed that splinter who's boss!
I'll be sure to post a picture of myself climbing a palm tree before the two years is up...hold me accountable, people!
After 5-6 months on the market, our house is officially SOLD! It is such a relief to have this process over with and to have some funds to work with for school/living. A week ago we were feeling quite at the end of our rope, with our timeline running out and no offers on the table. And then we received two offers within two days! So for the past week we have been negotiating and faxing and emailing and calling and working out the details. And yesterday we got an email that all the conditions have been removed (financing and house inspection) and that we have officially sold! Now all that needs to be done is the legal paperwork with the lawyers, but as far as everyone involved is concerned, the sale is final! Whoo-hoo! There will, indeed, be a celebration to come!
On Labour Day (I guess I should say "Labor" because we're in the states...) we went to the beach with some friends. It was lots of beach and not so much water, but the water that was there was warm, clear and refreshing. We were there for about 2 1/2 hours and I spent much of that just laying in the sun, soaking it all up. It was a nice "cool" day for the beach, only getting up to 35 degrees. Good thing I decided to put on sunscreen at the last minute though...the spot I missed is feeling pretty tender today and I'm SO glad that the rest of my body isn't like that!
Even at the beach, homework is present. At least we could tear two of the guys away from their books for a while. The third? Nope. Apparently Matt was really into his Greek.
Isn't this a weird picture? So, the water we're in is actually a river...a river in the middle of a desert. So in the "rainy season" - winter/early spring, I think - it fills up and gets quite a bit larger, and then it recedes further and further until it rains again. To give you a bit of perspective...it's early September now so it was probably only 25 feet across and only a foot deep in some places (like where I'm standing). But where Amber is standing it is about 3 feet deep. At one point it was up to my neck, but that only means about 4-4 1/2 feet deep.
There was a rope swing that the guys took turns using. There were a bunch of Latin families at the beach too, and the kids were on the rope swings CONSTANTLY!! Our boys got a couple interesting looks because they were so much older than everyone else who was using the swing. At one point, one of the adults said something in Spanish and they all started laughing. If that doesn't make you a bit self-conscious, what does?!
Steve enjoying a slurpee on the sand while Matt plays frisbee by himself.
Every couple months, I feel like I get into a blog slump. I have no idea what to write about and feel like my posts are SO uninteresting and uninspired. I live in California! My posts should be full of life and adventure! But alas, nothing. I guess I could write about the police helicopter that was out searching our area with a big spotlight the other night while police cars searched the ground. Or I could tell you about the spontaneous jam session that we had the other night with some friends on the lawn here on campus...we would have kept playing late into the night, except the sprinklers came on shortly after ten and we all ran away. I could tell you about the amazing Coldstone Creamery ice cream that I had yesterday (THANKS, ALICIA!!!). But none of that seems very exciting. We are heading to a beach today with some friends. Maybe after that I'll have a story or two to share...
Oh, and I'm wondering if everyone is super busy this fall? The blogging world seems to be pretty slow in general...if I put a poll on the side of my blog, will you let me know where you're at with blogging? I'm curious if people are just really busy with everything fall-like, or if there is something else that is going on that I haven't caught on to here in Cali. : ) Check out my poll on the right and leave your answer!
So, now that we've been here almost three weeks, I'm thinking I'll let you in on what I've been filling my days with.
The first few days were full of new people. It seemed we met new people wherever we went. There were the fellow court people to meet (other people who live in on-campus apartments), there were seminary faculty and staff to meet, there were off-campus people to meet, there were people at church to meet. LOTS OF PEOPLE.
A week after arriving here, I was officially "peopled out." I just laid low for a couple days and did stuff in our house. There's not much to do with white walls, limited furniture and not much of your own stuff, but I did alot of cleaning and baking. We did alot of shopping the first couple weeks here too, and now, though it's still fairly bare, our apartment is feeling much more like home.
Classes started after we'd been here about a week. I came here thinking that I would be able to audit one class per semester for free because Nathan is a student. I found out once we arrived that I can audit as many courses as I want each semester for free. I started out registering for one course, but enjoyed it SO MUCH after the first day that I went ahead and attended another class with Nathan the next day. I really liked that one too, so I registered for it as well. This semester I am auditing two courses (both with Nathan) and am trying to keep on top of the homework for both of them too, though when you audit a course it means that you don't have to do any of the homework. It does help to know what the class is discussing and if I don't do any of the readings there's not much point in going to class!
Because I have so much less class time and homework time than Nathan, I was finding myself in need of a bit of a project. So the other night I went to Wal-mart in search of something to fill my time with. I wandered around Wal-mart by myself for an hour, looking for things that would be fun and productive to do that I could fill some of my time with. After an hour, I walked out with a ball of yarn for $2.50 and a stick of deodorant for another $2.50. I wasn't thinking that the deodorant would fill my time so much as make my time more enjoyable and the yarn was so that I would have something to fiddle with in the evenings. I had no idea what I would make when I bought it, but it's pretty open, especially when there are so many ideas online these days. My ideal "project" would have been a quilt, but with no sewing machine here, it would have been a bit more of a project than I was looking for...at least I think it would have been. The thought of hand-stitching a quilt from scratch hasn't completely left my mind...
Nathan and I also have a job here on campus. Every weeknight we clean the student center (classrooms, lounges, bathrooms). It takes us about an hour to an hour and a half each evening, but because there are two of us there, we get paid for two or three hours a day. It isn't much, but at least it will cover groceries.
Other than that, there really isn't much that I fill my time with. I can't say, by any stretch of the imagination, that I'm busy. Life is a relaxed pace for both of us right now. There is always homework to do, especially for Nathan, but that isn't quite like always being on the run from one activity to the next. It's been a nice break...I'm already not looking forward to going back to the "real world" in two years and having to say goodbye to Nathan in the morning, go our separate ways, and not see each other again until evening. We're going to get spoiled while we're here. Oh well. I'll take it. :)
So that's my life as a student's wife. As McDonalds always says, "I'm loving it!"
Despite what many of you are thinking, and despite what I, myself, thought when I married him, Nathan and I do have some differences. Yes, I know, it's hard to believe. One of these such differences became quite apparent last week. I had known of this particular difference for a while, but it was revealed in all it's glory the first day we sat down to do homework.
Nathan - I need to get to work. Don't distract me.
Niki - Ok. I'm going to do homework too.
Nathan - I need to work 8 full hours to get all my homework done today.
Niki - Ok. Sounds good. Get to work.
(1 hour passes)
Nathan - Isn't there anything to eat in here?
Niki - Aren't you supposed to be doing homework?
Nathan - I need a break.
Niki - But I'm on a roll. You're distracting me.
(Niki is sitting right next to the refrigerator at the kitchen table doing homework)
Nathan - But I need something to eat. It's break time.
Niki - Alright...but you've only worked an hour and I just got into this!
(1/2 hour later)
Nathan - Ok, I guess it's time to get back to work.
Niki - But I don't feel like it now. My groove is gone.
Nathan - Too bad. See ya later. Don't distract me.
This is exaggerated, but not much. We had just talked about our different homework styles one day and the very next day (our first full day of doing nothing but homework) it was so clearly played out that we both had to laugh. We are SO different when it comes to study styles. I have no problem sitting down for 8 straight hours and doing homework. That's how I used to do my papers at Bethany. I would get up early on a Saturday morning, go to the library, do my research, go back to my room, write my paper, and be done by supper time. Breaks just distract me. Nathan on the other hand can't focus without regular breaks. If it's a meal time, he needs to eat. If he's been sitting there for an hour or two, he needs to get up, check facebook/email, walk around for a bit, and then get back to work. So when we do homework together (in the same space), I sit down for the long haul, and, when Nathan takes his first break of the day, I get distracted and am a goner. There's not much hope of me doing much valuable work for at least an hour after a break of any decent length (15 minutes or more).
So there you have it. Even "perfect" couples like us have our differences. : )
The first time I remember eating these was when we were getting ready to move to the farm and we were out at the farmyard getting things ready for the barn to be moved onto the site...mom had made these and brought them along. I'm pretty sure I ate as many meat buns as could fit in my little 10 year old stomach at the time. Oh, and my sister, brother and I called them meat pockets because they looked just like Pizza Pockets the way my mom made them. Anyway, here's the recipe. They are great for lunches and freeze really well.
Melt 1/2 cup margarine in a separate saucepan over medium heat.
Add 2 T. flour, stirring to incorporate.
Add dry onion soup mixes and water to make a thick gravy.
Bring to boil.
Pour gravy over browned beef and simmer for about 1 hour. (I do this in my oven),
Add fine dry bread crumbs just enough so mixture hold together. Do this just before you start forming your meat buns.
In my Bosch mixing bowl mix the warm water, sugar and yeast.
Warm the milk, margarine and lard in the Microwave about 3 - 4 minutes, until marg and lard have melted.
Add to yeast mixture, and add about 8 cups of flour.
Allow this to proof, then add salt, egg and remaining flour, just enough to make a soft dough, allowing the machine to kneed the dough.
Place dough in a large bowl ( I use my tupperware fix-n-mix bowl). Let rise 10 - 15 minutes.
Form perisky by pinching off pieces of dough the size of a walnut. Flatten the dough in your palm of hand and put about 1 tsp. filling on the dough. Pinch dough around the filling to seal well.
Place on baking sheets and let rise. You can often starting baking the first pans before you are finished panning the remaining ones.
Bake at 400 deg. for 10 - 12 minutes or golden brown.
Enjoy ! (this is the easiest step!)
I just got this recipe off a website because I didn't bring any of my cookbooks along when we moved. I made the dough in this recipe and then for the meat filling I just used ground beef, onion, salt, pepper, and whatever spices I thought would be good. (I make no guarantees about the meat filling in this recipe) You can put whatever you want in the middle. If you google-search "farmer sausage meat buns" you will find some pretty good recipes out there. Or get creative! I filled some with sliced strawberries and chocolate chips for desert. Mmm...
(I've debated posting this...it's not something that I talk about alot, especially after so long, but I wrote it a couple weeks ago, with the intent to post it once it had been three years and now that it has been, like I said, I'm debating. But I do want to be honest and I know how validated I felt my feelings were when I heard other people share. Therefore I want to share so that other people will know that they are not alone either.)
Three years is a long time. Perspective? The difference between high school grad and third year university. The difference between 13 and having a driver's license. The difference between childhood (9) and puberty (12). The difference between timid little pre-schooler and confident third grader. The difference between newborn baby and walking, talking, eating little kid. Three years feels like a long time.
So much has happened in the last three years. Three years ago we were starting our second year of youth ministry. Three years ago we got Lennox. Three (and a half) years ago we bought our house. We are in such a different place than we were three years ago. Altona still felt fairly new back then. Our house was still becoming home. Now we've been through a year of many changes and live 3260km away. We were youth pastors. We are now full time students in another country. How can things change so much in three years?
Through all of the changes, we've been "trying."
year one: started trying with sheer excitement, thinking I would be a mommy in 9 months, or surely within the year. at 6 months came fear that things weren't happening, but peace that God's timing would be perfect, and surely that would mean a child within a year from that point. year ended with near panic attacks at still not having conceived and wondering if God's timing was real and what was going on.
year two: huge mix between hope - that "things" would happen soon - and fear - that "things" would never be able to happen - and anger - that "things" hadn't happened yet and that God doesn't even promise that "things" will happen at all. lots of fear, lots of panic, lots of desperation and bargaining and bitterness and anger and sadness.
year three: fear and panic has been, for the most part, replaced with patience and peace. still unsure what life would be like without children, but ready to explore this possible turn of events. still days with tears and heartache. still days of panic and anger. lots of mourning of the motherhood dream. lots of trying to accept that God's will is perfect (and questioning what that means and how/if God is even involved). lots of questions and able to actually thing about them more objectively.
year 4: what will it bring? despite being poor seminary students, there is no "pause" button. if it happens, it happens. we've come a long way from the first few months when we were trying to plan the months of our children's birthdays (and the spacing between children and even number of children for that matter!). it just seems absurd! after this much time, it is so much less about the timing or place of the birth and so much more about the miracle of that birth in itself. I don't care if we have a baby right smack on December 25th! as long as everyone involved is healthy.
Having been through these last 1095 days...156 weeks...36 months...3 years, I am glad for what I've learned but, given the option, I am not sure that I would volunteer to do it again. I would never wish this struggle on anybody...and yet there are so many women who are hurting and struggling in their attempts to grow their families. Infertility. Miscarriage. Still birth. I don't understand why there is such pain surrounding something so precious. It doesn't seem fair. It isn't fair. Life doesn't promise to be fair (yet I so often wish it would!).
Is this what the curse was talking about? Physical pain in childbirth as well as other heartbreak surrounding pregnancy and fertility?
Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing;
with pain you will give birth to children."
*sigh* I'm just not sure what life would look like without children and grandchildren...maybe God has something different for me than to be a mother? But how could I have made it through my entire life so far without feeling called to something other than motherhood if that's not what God has for me?
I have no conclusion to this. It feels like I'm leaving this post hanging. I guess I am. There aren't really any conclusions in my mind either so I guess here's to the beginning of year 4! We'll see what happens!