Wednesday, 30 November 2011


It's been a rough month, both in and out of work. By yesterday I was ready to throw in the towel; nothing seemed to be going right and I had pretty much decided that I couldn't do anything right anyway.

Then....friends stopped by work with their baby boy and 2 year old daughter. I had a lovely bit of time playing with the little girl, who sat happily on my knee and looked at everything in my office. Whatever I gave her she declared to be "nice" and smiled. They actually came for more than to let me play with my girl for a little while; they came to thank me for being a good tenant and to bring me a Chapters gift card.

So....I admired the baby, played with the sweet girl, and heard that I am doing something right...and now I get to buy books.

It made everything a little bit better.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Christmas Concert

Christmas is coming, and with it the Christmas concert. This year I'm in charge, and it's going fairly well. Each class is doing their own thing (except the small ones are joining my class since there aren't many of them). There will also be some special music from some of the children.

That special music...that was almost my downfall. I asked the music person for help; she delegated it to someone else, and that is where the trouble started. The someone else first had an idea that she wanted to do with the whole Sunday School, so I had to explain that each class already had a plan. I told her I had just been asking about special music, and when we parted we agreed that I would let her know when we needed her help with the singing (because my class generally needs help; I can't sing). Then today I learned that she had spoken to a mom about having her son play piano for the Christmas Concert...but hadn't told me. In fact, she had a list of people to talk to because the other music person asked her to find people, but no one thought to ask me how many people we actually needed. I stopped her before she could ask anyone else and we've settled on three pieces of special music, and someone suggested that other people could do music during the offertory in December.

A note to my readers: if you're asked to help, remember that you're helping, not in charge, and that the person in charge needs to know what's going on. This same person spoke with me about doing music with Junior Church, and when I said she should talk to the teachers and that we would talk on Sunday, evidently took that to mean, "Go ahead and do it." We had another conversation about talking to the teachers first to find out if they want help with music, and also not taking time away from the teaching.

Okay, back to the Christmas Concert: My class had our first rehearsal today. I really need to teach the shepherds to look frightened without over-acting. They like over-acting, but need to remember that it's not about them. In fact, I finally sent one shepherd back to sit down because he wouldn't behave. Next week we'll have the little guys with us, so that should make it even more fun!

I think I have everything all arranged. I have someone else in charge of the Junior/Senior High class. They are doing a reading (well, actually they're all memorizing their verses) that goes back and forth from prophecies about Christ's birth to the fulfillment. Their teacher is great, but he admitted that he needs help getting it set up properly. I wrote the original script and know how it was supposed to work, and I talked it over with a friend who has agreed to get them trained (I believe she plans to use a combination of threats and bribery). The other class will be fine, and the kids doing the special music are all well trained.

I am not going to worry about it....really!

Here, to prepare you for Christmas, on of my favourites.

Saturday, 26 November 2011


I just finished the final book in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle. I enjoyed all 4 books and I liked the way the story flowed through them. I also liked how things worked out for each of the characters. I think Paolini is a very good author and I would recommend his books to anyone who enjoys fantasy.

I had some issues, though, with the final book that I did not have with the others. Because of the 3-year gap between the final 2 books, I re-read the first three a couple months ago to refresh my mind about what had gone on before. This turned out to be a very good thing, because there was a lot I had forgotten! It also heightened a few issues with the final book.


If you intend to read the book, stop reading here. I'm going to tell you about the end.

Okay, you've been warned!
First, I think the book was too long. It isn't that it was longer than the others; I don't mind a long book if the length is necessary. In this case, Paolini could have told the story just as well in a shorter book. I think he knew that this would be the last book and wanted to tell and describe everything. A lot of the discussion (especially every time Galbatorix spoke) was to drawn out and slowed the action too much. On the other hand, a lot of the action was also too drawn out, especially the fight scenes. There did not need to be as much detail. The final battle especially could have been told in less detail and been just as (or possibly more) effective.

Much of the discussion in the book, again especially with Galbatorix, seemed to be an opportunity for Paolini to voice his world view. In general, books reflect the world view of the author; that's perfectly natural, and is usually somewhat subtle. Paolini, however, seems sometimes to be determined to spell it out for his readers and make sure they get what he believes, and perhaps see how reasonable it is.

I also determined, part way through the book, that none of the characters closely connected to Eragon would die. This took away some from the scene with Nasuada in Galbatorix's torture chamber because I knew that she wouldn't die and she wouldn't give in, so there was no concern. I also knew that Roran, Katrina, Ayra, Angela, and Orik would be safe. There were a couple important characters who did die in the series (various important leaders), but they were not so closely connected to Eragon (there was always a barrier between them), and their deaths were important to allow other people to take their places. My guess is that Paolini liked his characters too much to be able to kill them off.

Finally, the ending was also too long. They won on page 719, but the book went on for another 130 pages of wrapping things up. There were chapters that could have been summed up in a paragraph or two without losing anything important. Again, though, I think Paolini wanted to tell everything that happened in detail because the series was ending and he had all sorts of ideas about what was happening and should happen.


And yet....I enjoyed the book. I like how the characters interacted and the futures that they received. There were no plot issues and I did not feel disappointed at the end.

So...if you like fantasy and dragons and good stories, by all means read the Inheritance Cycle.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


I've been emotionally messed lately and somewhat grumpy, so to remedy it (and in honour of American Thanksgiving this weekend), here's what I'm thankful for.

1. I have the final Eragon book. I haven't read much yet, but I plan to read a lot on Friday. I'm torn between wanting to make it last (since it's really the last one) and wanting to find out how it ends. I had it delivered to work (I'm not home when UPS comes) and was reading it while my student was doing math last night. We were laughing about the description on the front flap; near the end it asks, "But will they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaesia?" Um...yeah...probably, or the whole series becomes a giant disappointment, and the author will have to get into witness protection or some such thing.

2. On Monday my new pants arrived in the mail (because I don't like shopping; I like clicking buttons and having things shipped straight to me). They fit beautifully and don't have to be hemmed....and they're a size smaller than I had originally thought I needed.

3. Christmas is coming and my mum assures me that there will soon be a box of presents heading my way!

4. God is incredibly patient with me, even when I let emotions rule for a while before I remember to turn to Him.

5. No matter what happens, God is in control and I can turn to Him.

6. I have an amazing church family.

7. Chocolate, in many, many forms.

8. Tomorrow is Thursday. Thursday evenings are my happy times. First, I get to have supper with a friend and her family and can be part of a family for a while. Then it's Bible study time and I love my Bible study group; plus, we're studying Romans and I love Romans.

9, I got free samples in the mail yesterday: 2 teabags, one for dark chocolate chai tea and one for vanilla bean chai tea.

10. Last night I watched Fiddler on the Roof. I'm thankful for a TV, and a DVD player, and musicals.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Hearing God

I've been reading God's Wisdom in Proverbs by Dan Phillips. When I finish it, I plan to write a proper review, but this is not a fast and easy read; it requires time to stop and think and ponder. Anyway, here's where my thoughts were with it today.

People often say "God told me" and "I heard a small voice" and such to explain a decision. You see them on TV a lot, too, talking about new messages that God gave them, and sometimes encouraging us to listen for God's special messages to us as well. It worried me some because I never hear God telling me what to do. I usually make decisions based on gathering information, praying, talking to people who are wiser than I, and then doing what makes the most sense. No "still, small voice" and no "it just felt right." (In fact, I tend to worry about all the big decisions so I never feel an immense sense of peace. If I waited for that, I'd never do anything.)

Further, all the "prophets" people have told me about have turned out to have prophesied falsely at least once, so I'm not ready to trust them. I've never felt the need for new prophesies and small voices in my head and the like, but there are people who make me feel like I'm missing some new truth when I won't listen to this or that "prophet" (who prophesies on a schedule, incidentally, which seems rather forced to me) and that I would understand God so much better (as an aside: not the people at my church, who seem to see things the way I do in this area).

Which brings me to the Proverbs book. Dan Phillips was talking about fear of the Lord, and how we need to learn about God to fear Him, and that this revelation comes through the Bible and always has. Back in Deuteronomy17:18-19, the future kings of Israel are told to copy out and study and know the Law, and that way learn to fear the Lord.

Listen to what Dan says: "Even though he lived in the day of ongoing revelation, with prophets hearing words straight from God's mouth, the king was not directed to focus on them. He was not told to have daily coffee with a prophet, asking for the latest scoop from Heaven. No, he was directed to the written word that he (and all Israel) already possessed." (p.74)

Did you get that? Back in the days when there was on-going revelation, people were still told to turn to Scripture that was already given to know God. And we have the entire Bible now, much more than they had.

We don't need feelings or small voices or new prophetic utterances. We only need the Bible: that is how God speaks to us.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Draw a Stickman

This one comes from my dad (he posted it on Facebook).

Draw a stickman and have some fun.

Monday, 14 November 2011


Winter seems to have struck Edmonton full force today. There was a bit of snow over the weekend, but not much. Today, though, it's snowing a lot. It was really pretty, walking home in the dark with the snow falling gently. Come February I'll probably be saying nasty things about the snow, but right now I don't mind it.

Plus, today I got off work a bit earlier than expected and now I'm at home enjoying tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. It's the ultimate in comfort food and perfect for the start of winter.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Making into Laws the Traditions of Men

Pastor James was preaching from Mark 7 on Sunday, about the Pharisees making the traditions into laws, even overriding the actual Law. He spoke about how we can do that too: we apply Scripture to our lives and then expect that everyone else will apply it the same way and become upset or self-righteous or just annoying when they don't.

It's like this: we need to have convictions, to be fully convinced in our own minds about things (Romans talks about eating certain foods; Pastor James also used home schooling as an example) and act on our convictions.

BUT these convictions aren't spelled out in Scripture; they're simply how we apply Scripture. And what is spelled out is how we are to act: love others, humility, fellowship, etc. So if our convictions, or really the way we act concerning them, counteract the stuff that Scripture clearly commands, then we have a problem and we're making our traditions and convictions into laws.

I've been thinking about this. It's really, really easy for me to see other people do this. They're the ones who are proud of leaving facebook and giving up blogging to spend more time with God and having real fellowship with people and you can hear how much more spiritual they are now. Or they get up at 5 to spend 2 hours with God and how can you get through your day without doing that. can insert your own here. You follow, yes?

So that's them, but what about me? Where do I start to feel superior to others because of my convictions? How do I want to make traditions into laws? I don't know for sure, but it is something to think about.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Bits and Pieces

The essays are done and were handed in on time. I think they were okay; at least I liked them and so did my friend who edits them for me. All I really care about right now is that they're done and I can stop now. I've been doing school for almost 4 years with only a week off here and there and I am so ready for a break. I've decided to take the winter off and leave the rest of the independent study classes for now. I'll start school again in March.

It sounds easy, this business of getting a master's degree slowly and through correspondence, but I know three people who have had to stop, at least for a time, because of time constraints. This last year almost did me in, and left me totally tired out, and I don't have a family to care for as some of my classmates do.

I had the first sleepover Friday night. It was for my class, so they were younger girls (grades 3-6), and only 4 of them were able to attend. They're a pretty low key group and not much trouble, although they get very giggly as it gets late! This weekend I will have the junior/senior high girls. It's sort of turning into a youth group activity (Friday is officially a "split youth session" for the group, and I understand the male leaders have plans for the boys). The good news is that the youth group leaders will be here so I won't be the only adult. On the other hand, there are at least 10 people planning to attend, and I have a small apartment! Well, we'll all squeeze in somehow.

Work is beginning to settle down into a regular schedule which means I can settle into a regular schedule. There's still a lot going on, but I'll get to rest as well and catch up on stuff.