Wednesday, December 28, 2005

She's still got it!

I have been having a great time with my family. Lots of laughs, and good memories made: evenings sitting up talking with mom, dad and Melanie. Watching "Joan of Arcadia" episodes with Mel. My dad asking me what I am going to put on my "blob" (Dad- it's b-l-o-G). Sitting around reading. Eating too much.

I went to Walmart with some others, and the following exchange occurred between one of my shopping companions, and a man we crossed paths with:

"Doris! Is that you? How are you?"

"Hello ____, I'm well, how are you?"

"Can't complain... wow- Doris you look so good!" he said with an appreciative look.

"Well, I just turned ___ years old." She said, deflecting his obvious admiration.

"Oh Doris, you don't look like you've aged a day..." He paused and as he looked at her, I think I saw a glimmer of moisture in his eyes. "Doris, you're really looking great... it's so good to see you."

Finally, seeing that it was awkward not to introduce me and my sister, she did, but he quickly turned back to her. After more comments on how great she looked, and somewhat emotional reassurances of how glad he was to see her, he went on his way.

I waited until he was well out of earshot to start teasing Doris-my grandmother about the man who was hitting on her right in front of her grandchildren. She's still got it I guess. :) Not everything gets passed down. :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

My Big Fat French Family

My family makes me laugh. When a bunch of us are together, it is so busy, bustling, loud, and food is everywhere. It really does make me think of that movie...

A few snapshots: I got picked up at the airport and whisked away to supper at a new fastfood joint my mom had scoped out. My uncle had brought a young friend of his, and I had to laugh at the predicament of a poor unsuspecting visitor to our family- as he was pressed to eat more food than he could possibly eat. Everyone passed food around and shared this and that, talking louder and louder in conversations that criss-crossed the table in complicated ways.

We were on our way to see the Chronicles of Narnia. My sister bought some candy to smuggle into the theatre, and among the wealth of sweets she had were some of those fake teeth and gums thingies. The kids were having fun putting them in their mouths and smiling like they were real teeth. My 9-year-old cousin wanted to join the fun, and with his little Acadian accent (no pronouncing of "th's") he innocently said, "mom, can I have a teet'?" I busted my gut laughing right at the table, but no one else caught it until I told them after.

After eating we packed up and headed to the theatre, candy stashed in pockets and purses. I have fond memories of my pre-teen shame when going to a movie with a bunch of aunts who had decided that the movie-going experience wouldn't be complete without popcorn. So they popped some corn and brought it with them. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that I remember going through the movie ticket line-up with my aunt, who's purse was literally steaming! Good times.

Tonight we had a gathering at my aunt & uncle's. It was a fun time, as usual, with lots of laughs, hugs, and of course, too much food. I told them my comparison of our family to the Greek one in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." We had a good laugh, and then they began to argue over which aunt it would be who would tell tales of the surgery on the growth on her neck that had yielded bits of hair, teeth and bone. They settled on one, and my mom told her: "you'd be the one with the growth- with the hair and the teet'!" Hehe... we are geeks, it's true... but it's fun.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Getting ready for Christmas

Well, the Christmas season is always a busy one. I have to say though, that I am enjoying it. I don't enjoy looking for parking at the mall, or getting lost in it (as I do every time! you'd think I'd learn...) but overall, it has been good.

I'm not a big gift person, but I have enjoyed getting gifts for my family, baking cookies for friends, and sending my christmas cards. I think what I have enjoyed about it all is that it has reminded me of how many amazing people have become part of my life. I don't really care if I get any more gifts, it's not really point. Of course you know that, no need for a sermon from me on the subject. :)

This past weekend I got to see a friend test for her advanced blue belt in Tae Kwon Do (go Lisa!), celebrate another friend's passing into the third decade (happy birthday to someone. :) ), and enjoyed a chinese-canadian Christmas feast (thanks Wayne and Irene!) The rest of the week is going to be busy, as I try to tie up loose ends here at the office in preparation for a 2 week holiday in New Brunswick.

*Home* on Thursday- I can't wait!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Addendum to "Asking Questions"

I realize my last post could be a bit scary for some people to read. I can remember a time when those thoughts would have scared me. I wouldn't have wanted to let myself think down those lines, let alone encourage others to. It could lead to dangerous places...

I write it now, because there is freedom to be found as well.

As I sat talking to this friend, I couldn't help noting the peace that I felt. I felt sadness for him, yes, but not in a condescending, "how could you possibly think that?" kind of way. I felt sadness for him because I understand the difficulty of that question, and others, but know that it doesn't have to end up that way.

I am not afraid of hearing people's questions about faith and christianity. I have to smile inside sometimes when someone brings out their "trump card" thinking that they will shatter the foundations of my faith. In so many different situations, times and places I have heard those questions. I don't mean to be condescending as if I have God and the universe figured out completely. Of course I don't. But I smile because I myself have asked those questions. I have asked them from some deep and tremendously painful valleys. My faith has only grown from those experiences.

I was thinking this morning about something my friend Beth Shannon said to me years ago. We were talking about proofs that God exists. She told me that the only proof that no one can refute is a transformed life.

In the end, late at night when those questions come, I believe in God not simply because of intellectual answers I have heard; I believe in Him because I cannot deny the way that He has changed my life.

He has changed my life not just in the sense that I used to do bad things and now I do good things. Goodness, if that was the extent- Lord, take me now! I could accomplish that with self will-power. No, I mean He has completely transformed my life. He brought me- to use an often-used cliche- from darkness into light. He has delivered me from depression, self-pity into freedom and peace. In the midst of incredible pain in the loss of my sister- God met me there, and gave me His peace, strength and joy- yes, joy!

Obviously I haven't arrived. But I am NOT what I once was. I've tried plenty to change myself to be the person I want to be, but those attempts have never worked. No amount of positive thinking could do the work in me that I have seen God do. Of course my words are just words, and you don't have the view that I do. I suspect though, that many of you have stories a lot like mine.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Asking questions

I caught up recently with an old friend. We sat and talked over lunch at an eclectic all-day breakfast place. It was interesting to see the different paths we've chosen, and where they've taken us.

After an awkward pause in the conversation when our food came, he told me to go ahead and pray, that he would explain later. After some more conversation I asked him about it.

He told me about how at Bible college, when I knew him, he had been searching for deeper meaning. I guess at that point he considered himself a believer. When he left, he began to ask questions about his faith, God, the Bible. It came down to one serious question.

"You'll think it's dumb," he said. He told me he couldn't get past the fact that God could send people to hell. So, the sum of it is that he decided this thing called 'faith' or more specifically 'christianity' was not for him.

I told him it wasn't dumb. I said that it is a serious question that one has to ask. I didn't try to answer the question either, because I knew that wasn't why he was telling me.

I told him that I went through a time where I had to realize that it's ok to ask questions. I think sometimes we in the church are afraid to ask questions about things we really struggle with. Is it because we are worried we won't like the answers? I need to be free to bring my honest questions to God.

I told him, "I've asked a lot of those questions myself; I've just come to different conclusions. I don't necessarily have neat, packaged answers for every one, but I've faced them, and my faith is so much stronger because of it. If God is real, He can handle my questions."

I talked too much, as usual. I just can't "catch up" with someone and not talk about God. All that has happened in the past 5 years- losing my sister, how I ended up where I am- none of it can be told without the overarching narrative of God's work in my life. If someone wants to know me, I can't pretend I'm not what I am.

I looked at him across the table and asked, "Was it a relief for you, to let go of christianity and religion?"

"No," he responded without hesitation, "It wasn't even a relief when I first made the decision."

"How do you feel about it now?"

With sadness in his eyes he said, "Lost. I feel lost."

The conversation continued for some time, and I couldn't help feeling sad for him. He is lost in a sea of faces, making his own way in the universe. The lostness isn't moving him to find his security in God, because he doesn't believe there is security to be found.

I wish I could convince him, just as I wish words could express to others what God has done for me. In the end, I can only release him to God in prayer, and trust that the Spirit will continue His work in his life.

Friday, December 02, 2005

I am selfish

After clearing off an accumulated 10 feet of snow off my car in the office parking lot, I drove to Scott & Courtney's. I have been babysitting Stephen for the evening. The poor little guy is sick, and fell asleep in my arms, which was kind of nice. It reminds me of the desire that I do have for children. But it's scary too. I have been thinking about that lately- not that I am ANYWHERE close to it.

I am afforded many luxuries as a single person. I can do whatever I want, when I want. If I make a bad personal decision, I face the consequences. Sometimes I feel the burden of responsibility, but I do enjoy my freedom.

A friend said to me recently, "Jen, be careful that you don't become too independent."

It caught me off guard, and has stuck with me. I thought I was supposed to be independent? I am... to a certain extent... but I think I carry it too far sometimes. *See kerfuffle I caused on November 16th.*

I am afraid of becoming one of those older single people who is set in her ways, and used to getting her own way.

There is something about getting married and having children that matures people. I think (as an ignorant observer) that when you move from being single to getting married, you have to confront a lot of the selfishness that you may not have even known was there, as you consider another person. It is sandpaper, part of the sanctification process. Then parenting takes it even deeper.

I guess the reason I am rambling on here is that I have realized that I am just plain selfish, and that there are no circumstances in my life forcing me not to be, in the way that my married peers are. I could just shrug it off, and enjoy my freedom... but I'm not satisfied to just give my selfishness free reign, until I someday inflict it on the poor unsuspecting chap who ends up with me. Heavens! (oh goodness, I sound like an old lady)

I don't have any answers... just the realization that there is this whole area that I want to open up to God to dig and change me. Anyone have advice?