Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Tomorrow at 3:00 I'm leaving work and heading off on vacation. I'll be back in Edmonton next Tuesday at 5:01. Until then, I will be unreachable: I'm turning off the phone and avoiding computers. If you need me for anything.....I'm sending my contact information to 2 people. If you can find them, you can reach me.

I'm tired. The summer has been very long and I'm tired all the time now. I need time to rest. I also need time to deal with some personal stuff, time to think properly without any distractions or stuff that needs my attention.

Have a lovely weekend.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Church Notes

I got everything all set for Junior Church today. We have 5 teachers now, plus assorted helpers (in fact, we have a back-up helper, which is nice). This means that they teach for 2 months between now and June (one month at a time). Summer is always a bit complicated, but if everyone takes a week I can cover the rest. It's usually the only time I teach now unless there's an emergency. Mostly, my teachers trade off among themselves. This year, though, I plan to be in Junior Church a bit more just observing. I figure I should know what's going on, and I haven't actually seen some of them teach. Plus, I have a couple younger teacher who still need some guidance.

Sunday School is good to go as well. We start in 2 weeks. I have all the books for the classes and there are teachers and a spare teacher. For my class, we're following the regular curriculum for the most part, which means we teach the lesson one week and do review and workbooks the next week. We're continuing our study on the providence of God. I have it set up with my new helper that I'll do the lesson weeks and she will do the workbook weeks. That way she gets to start teaching with less stress. It's sort of a training period for her. This year, though, I'm adding something. One Sunday a month I'm leaving the regular stuff to do a lesson on what I'm calling "Reformation Heroes" (so named after a book I have teaching about them). We'll learn about Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, etc. I think the children need to know some church history. After them, maybe next year, I'm going to start on missionaries: William Carey, Hudson Taylor, whoever I think of.

That's the news from church! I leave you with one of my favourite hymns....

Saturday, 27 August 2011

On Being a Grown Up

Well, it had to happen eventually.

Last Sunday at the end of the service we were singing a hymn, one that is slower, more contemplative....usually. In fact, it started off that way, and then suddenly the drums picked up and it all sped up and it was different, and it struck me as not quite right. Actually, it jarred me enough that it was difficult to focus on the words. I realized then that I might not be part of the younger generation anymore. (For the record: I don't entirely object to the drums, although I might if we had them every week and during every hymn. It is the idea that they belong in every song, and that they can make contemplation and focus on the words difficult.)

Then one day I was listening to Great Big Sea and they got to Consequence Free, and I thought, how incredibly immature and stupid. I want to live like what I do does, in fact, matter. Furthermore, the only reason to live consequence free is to give in to whatever desires you have with no thought for the future. And yet there might have been a time that I agreed with them.

Today I went to the elder's house to write an exam. Afterwards, we were talking about school and such, and about the younger generation and their lives. They are the ones who tend to continue in school longer than the rest of us did. They travel more than most of us have (although some of my generation traveled a lot as well, but I think fewer of us and for a shorter period of time). They work overseas a lot, often using work as a way to fund their travels: work to make some money, then travel and play, then work wherever they happen to be. They don't settle down as soon. And it's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just different.

And I.... I am settled down. Although sometimes I would like to travel more and work overseas and see stuff, I think settling down is a good thing. I have a full time job and responsibilities both at work and at church. I might be one of the least settled of all my friends, being single and childless with the freedom that brings, and yet I feel settled, at least for this time in my life. I could pull up stakes and travel, but I feel some responsibility to the church and to the children there, who are my ministry. It surprised me when I realized that because I had always though that being single meant that if I wanted to move on I could; now I know that it won't be that easy.

It just finally struck me that I'm not part of the younger generation. I know they're younger in many ways; I hire and train and work with them, so I should have seen it sooner. I think that I spend enough time with older people and married people that I felt younger and not as settled. Today, though, the elder referred to us as being in the same stage of life; we're the older ones and they are the younger generation. The thing is....he's around fifty, so if we're in the same grouping then I must be a grown up. And of course I have been for many years. It's just that I still don't feel old enough to be one of them, and certainly not mature enough!

There are times when I'm sitting in my office running the centre or I'm explaining things to parents and they assure me that I'm the expert or I'm telling my teachers what I expect of them and expecting them to comply... and all the while I'm wondering how I became the boss anyway. It happens in church too, when I give the teenagers a command and they obey or the parents ask me for advice on homeschooling and I know the answers or I realize that I'm training the next generation of teachers... and I realize how much I don't know and how young I feel.

Sometimes I want to go back. The responsibility scares me: what if I mess up? We all know it's going to happen. But of course there's no going back short of walking away from everyone and everything and drifting from place to place, and I can't do that. I belong here.

Maybe it has nothing to do with age or feeling. Maybe it's all about taking responsibility for myself and my actions, and about understanding that there's more to like than what I want. Maybe it's about realizing the benefits of settling down and being involved in the lives of others and doing for others.

I don't know. All I know is that all the evidence adds up to one thing: I'm a grown up and no longer part of the younger generation. I just wish I knew when it happened.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Another Summer Survived

Yes, I know that summer isn't actually over yet, but summer at Sylvan is done. Next week (usually Thursday) the students out here start school so on Monday we start fall hours again. This means no students during the day, just peace and quiet. It means that I'll be able to catch up on paperwork and all the little things I'd like to do (some organizing and tidying and such) that never get done in the summer. For the last couple weeks I've been short staffed and teaching a lot, so not much else has been done. Plus, I've been going home late and very tired. Next week, though, will be quieter. I'm not teaching in the evenings, and I plan to catch up on stuff and take life a bit easier (and maybe even go in late a morning or two). I figure it will help to make up for the insane hours of the last couple weeks (well, all summer really, but the last couple weeks seem the longest).

Plus....on Thursday I'm leaving for a little vacation. I plan to leave after work (and leave work early) and I'm heading to Victoria for the long weekend. I've never been to Victoria, and everyone tells me it's beautiful, so I'm going to see it for myself! I want to spend my time sleeping and reading but I've been informed by my staff that I have to do some touristy stuff or they will be very angry at me!

Tomorrow I write my General Epistles and Revelation exam. I have no idea if I'm ready for it; I've tried studying, but there's too much to learn. I think I know the key ideas, though, and it's open Bible, so I should be okay. I'll review my notes again tonight and not worry. It's an essay exam and I'm better at those; if I write enough, eventually I'll get the answer! After that there's nothing due until the first major paper on October 15th and then the other papers (on major and one only a page or two) on November 1st. That's why I'm heading away for a few days next weekend: it's quiet at work and there is no homework that I must do.

And that about sums up my life. I look forward to getting more rest and taking the time to recover before essay writing time starts. Then....I may not be heard from much until November!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Thoughts for You

Here are more thoughts from one of my professors...

On grace:

Grace is God’s intervention in the current situation for your good. Grace is an action, and people who do grace are characterized by grace.

For encouragement:

When Jesus died for our sins, they were all future. As believers, we cannot commit a sin that Jesus has not already died for.

And finally:

The impact of sin and dealing with sin is cosmic.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Psalm 73, the final verses

Today we get to the end of the Psalm. Sometimes I think of this more as a prayer, that I want to want nothing but God. Still, at the very least, it is my prayer.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And besides you, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday Stuff

Today one of my Junior Church teachers asked if it was okay for her husband to teach with her; her regular helper won't be available. Further, she would prefer if he taught and she helped. I was not only happy, I was delighted. I think it's good for men to be involved in teaching the children; after all, it's the men who are leaders in the church.

During the sermon, Pastor James mentioned Moses performing the signs in Egypt. We're pretty sure he meant to say that Pharoah's magicians finally couldn't perform the same feats and told him that this was from God; however, what he actually said was musicians. Three times, in fact. I wondered if I was mishearing, but there were enough looks being passed from one person to another to confirm that I was hearing correctly!

Here's one of this week's songs (although we don't sound quite like this!)...

Friday, 19 August 2011


Hospitality is something I think about often. It's a Biblical concept, showing hospitality, and it's tied up with love for others. The question is, how do we do it?

I think the answer is different for different people. I think that we have different gifts, different amounts of time and money to invest, and different lives. I think, though, that we don't have an excuse for not showing hospitality at least sometimes. Still, how often and how and to whom is more of an individual concern. What I am going to tell you about are the answers I've found for myself, and what works for me.

When I became convicted that I needed to start showing hospitality, I was lost. I didn't know how and I was overwhelmed by the thought of having people over. In my mind, everything needs to be perfect, with fancy food and pretty dishes, when people come over. Still, I knew it was important and wanted to be obedient to God's commands. Finally, I found a way.

I started small and well within my comfort zone: I invited some of the children from the church over. Now, this is where the differences may come in: children may not be in your comfort zone. Still, someone must be. Start with them. For me, it was easy to have the children over to play, and it worked well for parents who like a break. In this way I was able to start getting into the habit of hospitality. From children I moved on to having some of the ladies over, then families, and then it was easier.

My main concerns about hospitality are conversation and food. To deal with the first one, I invited families so that even if we ran out of converstaion, there were always the children to talk to and about, and then I invited over people who I knew were talkers!

The food was a different issue once I moved beyond just children (who are happy with PBJs and KD). Then I remembered Faith. Faith was my pastor's wife back in Thunder Bay. Almost every Sunday they had people over after church (I know this because I lived with them for several years). Every week, Faith fed them the same meal: roast cooked with carrots and potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, salad, and dessert (granted, the dessert sometimes varied). There was no stress and no major fuss and everyone was happy.

Following her example, I usually do the same thing. I get a chicken, a bag of baby potatoes, and some variety of frozen veggies (the best part: I have an excellent recipe for chicken pie to use the left overs). Sometimes I also buy a bag of salad and make some biscuits. Dessert is likely brownies (I like brownies). That's it, and there's no stress, no major fuss, and everyone is happy.

So far as who to invite: usually I either see someone or think about someone and decide that I should invite them over. The hardest part, for me, is doing it. I worry that I'll have them over and they won't have a good time, or that they won't want to come over. I think that they're probably too busy anyway. I can come up with a million excuses for not inviting people. I really just have to do it as soon as I think it. And guess what? People come, they're not too busy (even if they're busy, we find a time that works), and we have a good time together.

To sum it all up, here are my policies for myself:
1. I need to have people over at least once a month. That's my method of making sure I don't get out of the habit of hospitality.

2. I need to just invite people over and not worry about stuff.

3. When it comes to food, I stick with what I know will turn out. If I want to try something new, I do it when it's just me and if it's good, then I might make it for someone else.

If I may add a note for parents... don't let your children think that hospitality is a burden (even if you think it is) if you want them to grow up practicing hospitality. I don't remember going to people's houses often or having people over often when growing up (except family gatherings and birthdays), but when people did come over, it was always very stressful and rarely seemed worth the effort. Relax, and if you're worried that people will judge you because your house isn't perfect or whatever, just invite over other families. The kids won't care and the parents will understand!

That's all my advice: start in your comfort zone and keep it simple (unless you're into fancy dinner parties and they make you happy; in that case go for it (and I'd like an invitation, please)).

And when I get too stressed, I remind myself that it's called "practicing" hospitality not "being an expert at" hospitality!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Psalm 73: nearing the end

I like this part. Listen:

When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.

See, Asaph knows that he was wrong. He had the wrong attitude and heart.

BUT: God did not leave Him. He still guided him by the hand.

I find great encouragement in remembering that.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Christmas in August

Yesterday some of my junior high girls came over to celebrate Christmas. Yes, it's the wrong time of year (and it was possibly the hottest day of summer), but it was fun. We decorated Christmas ornaments (most of which are hanging around my livingroom drying properly) and ate Christmas food (okay, ham and turkey sandwiches with dried cranberries) and watched Christmas movies. There were coloured lights all around my apartment and Christmas movies playing and a gift exchange (which was wild; in the end, I lost the chocolate pudding but kept the DQ gift card).

And there was laughter. There were times when we were crying with laughter and couldn't breathe. There was insane silliness and strange new inside jokes and those moments (you know what I mean) when everything seems funnier than it really is.

(Side note: I'm checking out videos to post while I write this. In one version of "Joy to the World" the lyrics posted on the video said "Let men their songs employ" but the singer sang "Let all their songs employ." It was half politically correct! Also, one song claimed to be "Joy to the World" but was actually "Silent Night." Can people not tell the difference? In the end, as you will see, I went with something totally different.)

Okay, back to what I was saying: it was everything I needed now. All the stress of life disappeared and all that was left was joy and delight. Life was beautiful again.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Faith and Works

When we were studying James in class, we got into the discussion about the relationship between faith and works. This is roughly how the professor explained it:

We don’t do works to prove that we’re believers; we do works because we’re believers.

If there’s a lone apple tree in an orchard of cherry trees, it doesn’t try to bear apples to prove that it’s an apple tree and not a cherry tree; it bears apples because it’s an apple tree and that’s what apple trees do.

So: works don't save. They aren't divorced from faith, either. Faith and works go together naturally.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Psalm 73, of course

Okay, only 2 verses this week, but 4 next week, since I don't want to split up the next section. Here we see the final destruction of the wicked.

How they are destroyed in a moment!
They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes,
O LORD, when aroused, You will despise their form.

Not only will they be destroyed, but it will be suddenly and unexpected. It will be like it was at the time of the flood: "And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." (Luke 17: 26-27)

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Sunday Notes

I had one of my boys teaching Junior Church today. He's going into grade 12 and has been helping in the class for a couple years; not long ago he asked if he could start teaching. Today he taught about the plagues. He seemed a bit nervous as he taught, and of course there are some rough spots to smooth out (it was his first time teaching), but I think he will become a great teacher. I'm glad, not only because he's going to be a good teacher, but also because as I acquire new helpers I always hope to one day train them as teachers. This is one of the few successes; most of the rest have either left for college or told me that they don't want to teach.

Okay, this isn't the song I wanted to post, but I cannot remember the title! Instead, you get this one, which is also great!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

From the Kids

I had some small people over Sunday evening while their parents went out. The oldest is 6 (I think, but he might still be 5), his sister is 4, and baby brother is 2. The two oldest were playing with Lego while the small one climbed on me; I think they had found the treasure chest and were playing some game. I over heard the following...

The oldest (B): I stored my treasure in heaven.

Sister (J): And now I'm coming to get it, right?

B: Yup!

After I stopped laughing, I confirmed that I had heard correctly.

B: Yes, I stored it in heaven before in the car. Mommy said so.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Psalm 73, next

Now the author finally comes to the truth of the matter. What we see is not all there is, and we can trust God to deal with the wicked in the future.

When I pondered to understand this,
It was troublesome in my sight
Until I cam into the sanctuary of God;
Then I perceived their end.
Surely You set them in slippery places;
You cast them down to destruction.

See: he changes his perspective from looking at himself and his perspective to looking to God and His perspective.