Awkward

Well,

This is awkward.

We’re supposed to be staying home as much as possible,

But there’s no break in the line-up of customers

For

Two

Hours

Straight.

 

We need to keep six feet of space between us at all times,

But there isn’t room in the aisle for us to pass each other with six feet between us.

Awkward.

We both turn slightly away from each other as we pass.

I hold my breath,

And I bet you do too.

 

I wash my hands so carefully and thoughtfully,

But immediately use them to touch things that are

Most

Assuredly

GERMY.

Awkward.

 

I feel really awkward about this,

But I’m touching all the stuff that you are buying.

I hate to do it,

But I haven’t yet figured out how scan and bag stuff without

TOUCHING IT.

You seem a little uncomfortable about it too,

But you kind of put us both in this position by being here buying stuff.

 

Sooooo….

I don’t know if you noticed….

(Clearly you didn’t,)

But there are bright red strips of tape on the floor showing you where you should stand-

Six feet away from the cashier and six feet away from other customers.

Please stand on them.

Yes, you will feel awkwardly far away from the counter.

Yes, it might be hard to count out small change.

You should be paying with a card anyways, these days.

 

When you ask me if our store is staying open,

And I say it is,

And then you say,

“Terrible, just terrible. They should be ashamed,”

I find it a bit awkward

Because there you are,

Buying ONE PAIR OF FLIP-FLOPS,

And paying in very small change,

Which you are counting out on the counter

Even though I told you about the red line.

 

It’s a little awkward

When it seems like you brought the whole family

To hang out at the store

Because you were bored at home.

 

I find our ideas of what is truly essential to be rather…

Awkward.

Judging by what I have seen in the past few days,

We think that

Easter decorations

Wine goblets

Chocolate

Pop

Four sequined Canada Day hats

Are essential.

I’m sorry.

But they are not.

We need to rethink what we value.

We need to start making more sacrifices.

Sacrifices hurt.

Okay?

They hurt.

But we’re going to need to start making more of them.

We have to do it.

For each other.

For the whole world.

 

Sometimes you tell me your stories,

About losing your job,

About going crazy with your kids at home,

About not getting to see your daughter anymore,

About being afraid to go to your job.

It hurts me.

With my words and with my eyes (all you can see above my mask),

I try to express that-

That I’m with you,

That I care,

That I’m praying for us all.

 

People, I was practically born to save the world by staying home,

And now my time has come,

But I can’t stay home.

This is painfully ironic to me.

I’m grateful to still have a job,

But feel a bit guilty because of all the people who have lost theirs.

I’m willing to be there to serve customers who depend on low-cost products from us.

But I am struggling to find satisfaction in providing an “essential service”,

When it feels like, by being open, we are just enabling people to purchase nonessential things.

 

On Sunday, I was so excited about being at home

all day with Ricky,

with neither of us working.

But I got called into work in the afternoon,

And it hurt so much to give up my day off,

That I cried for a good long while.

I felt a bit better about it once I actually got to work,

Because do I like to save the day?

Of course I do.

 

Every day I wonder if I should quit.

It is interesting to me

How loyal I am to this team

Of workers that I don’t actually know well at all.

If I quit, it hurts them.

I also am interested in

How deeply I desire to

Do a good job.

Even when it’s a job I feel weird about and know does not line up with my soul and what I care about.

I still want to be able to do it well.

Quitting now would feel like not doing it well.

For now, I stay.

 

I know that what I’m doing is peanuts

Compared to doctors and nurses and other caretakers

Who are

Fighting

Fighting

Fighting.

I hardly know how to feel for them.

It is just so much

What they are doing.

 

People,

This is a big, scary, awkward situation we’re in.

But you know what?

Today,

Most of you saw the red tape on the floor and stood back.

We’re adjusting.

We’re learning new habits.

We’re doing it.

Let’s keep doing it.

Let’s keep doing it better and better.

Let’s grow together

(from six apart, please).

 

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Moments of Transfiguration

Up and up  

They work to climb.  

 

Muscles burning in their calves  

Breathing a little harder 

Sometimes tripping when  

They don’t lift their feet high enough.  

 

Jesus just keeps going up and up,  

And they don’t quite understand  

His purpose  

And his steady sense of direction,  

But they are getting used to following  

With an open mind  

And with hope.  

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Their eyes are on where they came from,  

(a gleam)  

Their eyes are on each other,  

(a glimmer)  

Their eyes are on the ground,  

(a glisten)  

Their eyes are on the sky,  

(a burst)  

And then their eyes are on Jesus. 

(GLORY)  

 

They have never seen his whole self before.  

(So this is who he is!)  

Wonder.  

The joy of it.  

All of those years. 

All of those laws.  

All of those prophecies.  

Jesus pulls it all together and holds it firmly and lovingly

And it is  

BRILLIANT.  

 

Does such glory not demand a response?  

Peter gives it.  

“Jesus! Let us honour you! We will build-”  

 

A bright cloud.  

A voice.  

 

When you need to respond to the glory, you make it about yourself.  

This is not about you.  

This is purely about the glory.  

Stand still, for once,  

And just be covered.  

Just take it in.  

It’s not about you.  

It’s about  

The Glory.  

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This is terrifying. 

To allow yourself to be so small.  

To recognize that you have nothing to add.  

To only think about the glory.  

 

They fall and cover their faces.  

What else is there to do?  

 

Jesus touches them,  

And they go down the mountain together.  

When they look at Jesus they still see 

Gleams, 

Glimmers,  

Glistens,  

and 

GLORY.  

 

They will never unsee it.  

Their eyes are open now.  

 

Sometimes, they see that glory  

In the dark places,  

In other people,  

And even in themselves.  

Small bursts.  

Never complete,  

The way Jesus shone.  

But small bursts of glory.  

Glimmers of who they truly are  

And the Spirit they have within.  

 

Jesus just keeps going up and up and up. 

We are following with a trusting mind and with a hoping heart.  

Up and up,  

We work to climb,  

With  

Glimmers of glory guiding.  

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Where have you seen glimmers of glory? 

Final Reflections on Christmas

Final Reflections on Christmas

I know.

Christmas is over, but I’m still talking about it.

I’m sorry.

I don’t feel great about it either.

But I’m going to attempt to blog somewhat regularly again, and this was the only thing that I could think of to share today.

There are three things that I learned over the 2019 Christmas season that I want to remember for future Christmas seasons.

 

  • ALLOW TIME TO ANTICIPATE GIVING/RECEIVING GIFTS.

I figured out why I like gifts so much. It has always been a bit concerning to me how important presents feel to me. It seems materialistic, in a way, or like you have the wrong focus. But this year, I had a moment that clarified things for me.

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I may come by my gift-loving tendency honestly. My Nana  (Jean) was a very gifty, generous, thoughtful person, and I see that in my mom (Janice Jean) too, and I think that aspects of it trickled down to me (Jasmine Jean) too. One might say that gift-giving is in our genes. 

Ricky and I bought each other Christmas gifts, and in the week or so before we exchanged them, we just had a whole lot of fun speculating and investigating and teasing and poking. When it came time for me to finally open my gift, I had a humongous feeling inside me saying, “DO NOT OPEN THE GIFT.” I recognized that feeling from other Christmases, although it was stronger this time than ever before. There is something sad about opening a present, because then you will know what it is inside. The anticipation is over. And there you have it: although I’m always grateful for the actual gift, the anticipation is what makes me love giving and receiving gifts. I want to embrace this and acknowledge it in my gift-giving and receiving all year round.

A fun fact for you- Ricky and I unintentionally bought each other the same gift this year! We bought each other suitcases- blue, hard shell suitcases. That reminded me that opening a gift can be pretty great too, in a different way than anticipating the gift is. A gift that was never opened would eventually grow sad and useless. There is a season for anticipating and a season for unwrapping. They both contain joy.

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(A side note: Giving gifts used to be stressful for me, because what if the person didn’t like the gift I got them? That changed when I realized that I can alleviate (most of) that stress by simply taking time to thoughtfully choose a gift. Some things that have helped me with this are writing down ideas throughout the year as they come to me, not waiting until the last minute to do my shopping, and wrapping gifts in advance to avoid any last-minute scrambles or stresses.)

  • PLAN WAYS TO APPRECIATE THE STILLNESS THAT COMES AFTER CHRISTMAS.

I typically feel rather “let-down” after Christmas. All the things that I was anticipating and preparing for are just… over. This year, I didn’t feel that as heavily. I’m grateful, and also want to explore what made the difference. I think part of it was that I was simply relieved to be at home again after everything was over. I worked full-time in December, right up until 6:00 on Christmas Eve. We drove straight to my family’s house from work. The next day, we went straight from my family’s place to Ricky’s family’s place. The next day, we went straight from there to Wisconsin for several days. It was all so good, but wow, it felt wonderful to come home again at the end. Perhaps my appreciation for the stillness overshadowed any let down feelings that may have been there. I also knew some things about my schedule for the week after Christmas. I knew that I was only working two days, that Ricky and I were just going to hang out quietly together on New Year’s Eve, and that I wanted to spend time reflecting and writing on New Year’s Day. Having these small things to anticipate and look forward to took away from the empty feeling that can come after a big event for me.

  • SCHEDULE THE SMALL THINGS THAT YOU WANT TO DO.

It’s easy to attend an event that you bought a ticket for or a banquet that you agreed to bring cheesecake to. It’s not always as easy to take time to watch your favourite Christmas movies, make Christmas cookies, make garlands, pray by candlelight each night, play carols on the piano, or walk around your neighbourhood to see all the lights. In the future, I want to be more intentional about scheduling some of these things that I enjoy.

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That’s it.

That’s what I learned this Christmas.

I’m ready to move forward now.

My motto for the coming year is to do stuff.

Or, put more eloquently, move forward.

I’m excited.

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I know that I’ve done it twice in a row now, but I don’t actually plan to end every blog post with a picture of myself. 

What did you learn this Christmas- about Jesus, about yourself, about the people around you?

What are you hoping for this coming year?

Are there any topics you’d like me to blog about this year? I’m just curious about what you want to read about! 

2019 Recap

2019 Recap

There are a lot of different ways that I could go about writing this post. So many that it’s a little overwhelming. I spent some time trying to figure out the most efficient AND comprehensive way to reflect on 2019, but found that all my answers to the thoughtful questions that the internet provided felt stiff and forced. So instead, I pulled out my journal and just made a list of what came to my mind when I thought about 2019. That is (more and less) what I will be sharing here. It’s long. It’s very long. 


A word for 2019-

DISORIENTING.

Not the worst year of my life,

Because what could be worse

Than being fourteen years old?

But seriously

DISORIENTING.

 

Made of so many bits and pieces-

How does one string them all together?

Do they even belong on the same strand?

I’m still trying to figure out what goes where,

And where the patterns appear.

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Some patterns are there.

Pursuit is a serious weakness of mine.

I’m great at doing a lot of work without accomplishing anything.

(This is not a good thing,

In case you are wondering.)

FOMO (fear of missing out) is a huge factor in how difficult I find it to make any kind of decision.

If I choose one thing, I sacrifice another thing,

And

I WANT IT ALL.

I actually do.

I want the babies and the career and the education.

I want Toronto and I want to live close to my family again.

I want tradition and I want to start fresh.

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2019

Had a lot of decisions in it.

 

I don’t think I made a single one of them.

I’m serious.

Not any of the big ones.

I did choose to paint our living room white,

Even though it was already a

Pretty nice green.

This was

ABSOLUTELY

The right choice.

 

I just about went crazy

With the decisions bubbling and brewing constantly inside me.

I’m still trying to figure out how to

Thoughtfully consider a decision

Without becoming consumed by it.

 

How do you make a big decision

When you feel like you’re up against a wall-

You feel like you simply cannot choose?

How do you do it?

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I wrote half of a play again this year,

With my dear friend

Meghan.

I struggled.

By struggled, I mean that

Every sentence

Had to be dragged

Kicking and screaming

From the trenches and mines

Of my heart and my soul,

And that might sound artsy and poetic,

But let me tell you-

The trenches and mines inside me

Seemed to be bent on producing

More lumps of coal

Than gold.

I had a mass of ideas, emotions, and truths inside me,

And NOTHING fit together

No matter how many index cards and charts I wrote.

I produced writing that was

Too much

In some places

And

Not enough

In other places.

At the end of it all,

I had to complete and release a creative project

That I had not yet started to fully love.

The love might come later.

I’m hopeful.

And scared.

I pray to be humble enough to watch the play in the spring without comparing and cringing,

And humble enough to try again in the future.

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In the fall, I job-searched.

I went to several interviews

Without getting the job.

Let’s just say that

I took it personally.

(Even though I knew I shouldn’t.)

One place had me come for a trial shift.

And then they asked me to come for a second trial shift.

And then I never heard from them again.

This bothered me a lot.

But also, both times that I was there,

I felt absolutely sick with anxiety even after I left.

I’m think I’m thankful it didn’t work out.

But I’m also sad,

Because they had the best croissants

And because

I don’t know what I did wrong.

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My faith has changed.

I don’t know of how else to say it.

I think about the Bible differently than I used to.

A friend asked me to expound on that statement,

And I floundered.

I realized later that I literally didn’t have the language to explain what I might be starting to believe now.

I’m learning a new language, and some authors like

Science Mike and Rachel Held Evans

Are helping me.

“The Bible isn’t an answer book. It isn’t a self-help manual. It isn’t a flat, perspicuous list of rules and regulations that we can interpret objectively and apply unilaterally to our lives. The Bible is a sacred collection of letters and laws, poetry and proverbs, philosophy and prophecies, written and assembled over thousands of years in cultures and contexts very different from our own, that tells the complex, ever-unfolding story of God’s interaction with humanity. When we turn the Bible into an adjective and stick it in front of another loaded word (like manhood, womanhood, politics, economics, marriage, and even equality), we tend to ignore or downplay the parts of the Bible that don’t fit our tastes. In an attempt to simplify, we try to force the Bible’s cacophony of voices into a single tone, to turn a complicated and at times troubling holy text into a list of bullet points we can put in a manifesto or creed. More often than not, we end up more committed to what we want the Bible to say than what it actually says.”
― Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood

One thing that has been hard this year

Is that I have been feeling like

I want God to speak to me,

And so I ask Him to,

But He doesn’t.

Sometimes He does, I guess.

There have been moments

Where I know He is giving me

His presence.

But mostly,

I struggle to feel Him.

And I just wonder

Why-

If I want to feel Him,

I can’t

?

I still wholeheartedly believe He is there and watching and loving,

In case you are wondering.

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2019 has been a weird year for my body too.

For the past couple years,

I have struggled with some acid reflux issues.

It seemed to come and go,

But was becoming more consistent this year.

I grew frustrated with feeling yucky so much of the time,

And made a bold move-

Gave up meat, sugar, dairy, and gluten for ten days

To see if it made me feel better.

The good news is,

I felt GREAT.

The bad news is,

WHO WANTS TO GIVE UP ALL THAT DELICIOUS STUFF?

Not I,

As evidenced

By the battle of acceptance and self-discipline that ensued.

I’m still trying to figure this all out.

I’m learning to be grateful for all the delicious food that I can eat that does make me feel good.

I’m trying to want to learn to just say no to the things that make me feel sick,

Rather than using special occasions as an excuse to consume those things anyways.

Because eating something that you KNOW is going to make you feel sick?

That sounds like a mentally unhealthy place to be, to me.

The good news is that

I lost twenty or so pounds

(what with all this healthy eating),

And actually started to like the way I look,

Which is a new one for me.

The bad news is that

My clothes all fit funny

And I still don’t know what size I should be wearing.

But NOT COMPLAINING.

 

 

In 2019, I learned that

it is good to let myself feel hungry sometimes.

Not every desire needs to be satisfied immediately.

I’m pretty used to getting myself what I want when I want it.

Instead of following through on every impulse,

I am going to try letting them guide me to what I am truly hungry for.

(I’m not talking about just food here, anymore.

What I eat, yes, but also

How I spend money,

How I spend time,

And my emotions and reactions.)

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In 2019, I found out that I am self-disciplined enough

To give up some things entirely,

(social media and gluten, to name two things)

But not self-disciplined enough to do well with enjoying these things in moderation.

I do not

UNDERSTAND.

What makes me

This way?

 

 

2019 has brought me out of my little Mennonite community more than any other year.

I’m struggling to find

My place in the world.

I am feeling like I actually was brought up in a different world

Than “non-Mennonites”.

The differences sometimes feel big,

And I just don’t know how to offer myself

And the good things that my upbringing has instilled in me.

It feels like there are a lot of

Loud,

Opinionated,

Entitled,

Sensitive,

Disgruntled,

Selfish,

Negative,

Disrespectful

People out there.

NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE THIS, AND NOT EVERYONE IS ALL THESE THINGS, AND MENNONITES CAN BE THESE THINGS TOO. I am not trying to be judgmental.

These are some attitudes that I have come across.

I’m just saying,

I feel like I come from a place where

Peace

Respect

Listening

Positivity (or at least not blatant complaining)

Selflessness

If-you’re-upset-internalize-it (this isn’t necessarily good- just a contrast I see)

And general meekness

Are valued,

And I honestly don’t how to offer these

generally gentle gifts

In a

generally loud world.

I think that is what I am saying.

I do know that the answer is not to just

Stay in my comfortable circle.

 

 

I think that’s quite enough

Looking back.

 

Looking ahead…

 

Someone asked me recently what

I do for fun.

It reminded me that I’m not good at

Doing stuff-

Even when it’s stuff that I like.

In 2020, I want to choose to

Do stuff.

I want to mail letters.

I want to make wise, thoughtful life decisions,

And be gracious enough to let go of the things it’s time to let go of.

I want to read

And write

And take pictures.

I want to keep asking God to speak to me.

 

To start 2020 out,

I am wearing owl socks from Grandma Schrock,

And just feeling really good about it.

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I am also doing some things that I didn’t have time to do in December,

But really wanted to do.

Like making an orange garland.

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I am also going to be making some January cookies at some point.

I am glad that I am giving myself permission to do these things

Even though Christmas is over.

Thank you, Self.

 

This is my favourite picture of myself from 2019:

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A shadow,

Small and blurry at the edges.

That’s me.

Dancing

And still in the light.

Race Day

Once upon a time (about a year ago), my husband Ricky ran a half-marathon and then had to be taken to the hospital due to heat exhaustion.

Once upon another time shortly thereafter (about a year ago), my husband Ricky decided to train for a marathon that would take place in May 2019.

I said, “Okay. Um. I don’t want you to go to the hospital again. If you run this marathon, I’m not coming to watch.”

I said, “I mean it.”

And I meant it.

However.

On the day of the marathon, I found myself in a car, bright and early- driving to the marathon with Ricky. I felt glad that I personally was not running a marathon that day because (cough, cough) my throat was a bit sore.

Ricky and I were both feeling some apprehension about the marathon, I believe. Ricky because he had never run 42.2 kilometers before, and me because I had never watched anyone run 42.2 kilometers before.

All in all, I had a great morning. Everything went smoothly for both Ricky and myself, and I was glad that I was there to be a part of the excitement and to support him. Since I am now an experienced marathon-attendee, I thought I’d give you all a glimpse into some things that you can expect should you ever find yourself at a marathon.

  1. If it is a chilly morning, you will probably see runners wrapping themselves in plastic. Plastic blanket things, garbage bags, things that look like they were pulled from the nearest dumpster- any plastic will do, apparently. They’re just keeping their muscles warm (I think).
  2. There will most likely be a long line for the washrooms before the race begins. I was standing on the other side of the street from the port-a-potties, but as the starting time drew nearer, the line grew longer so quickly that I kept having to find new places to stand so that the line didn’t accept me as one of its own.
  3. Everyone in the bathroom line might seem to be in constant motion- stretching, hopping, jogging on the spot. Probably, they are just once again trying to keep their muscles warmed up, but in reality, it really looks like they all desperately need to use the washroom.
  4. When it’s time to head to the starting line, the runners discard their plastic blankets and some other layers and there is spandex all around. So much spandex and yet, at the same time… so little.
  5. It is a marvelous thing to watch hundreds of runners cross the starting line. They thunder past, and there’s a lot of cheering, and bells are ringing, and then they’re gone. The street feels oddly lonely without them.
  6. If possible, follow your runner. Not on foot. Gracious, no. There are apps and websites that you can do this with. Check out their route ahead of time and plan with them where you’ll be waiting to wave at them or high five them. Take pictures and videos of them.
  7. I had packed a backpack with snacks, hot tea, and a book to carry with me. I was glad for it. There was some down time. It was also lovely to just sit in the spring sunshine and be surrounded by all the good endorphins that you could practically see in the air. I also think that taking a friend to support you in your watching of the marathon could be very nice. I have two of the best ready to take in the next marathon with me. Joy and Seth, I’m talking about you.
  8. Be prepared to see some things that make you feel like crying because they are beautiful and strong. Sometimes watchers will temporarily run alongside the person they’re supporting. Sometimes people get super excited when they see their runner coming down the path. Sometimes the runners have the most intense expressions of focus, weariness, and determination on their face. Sometimes you are just hit by the wonder of the whole thing… all of these amazing people, sweating and panting and straining together. All winter they prepared for this. And now they’re here… this is their big moment. What they worked so hard for. They’re doing it. How would it feel to… Maybe I should…. Haha. No. I actually have no interest in running a marathon, but it sure is an amazing thing to witness.
  9. Be prepared to feel so very proud of your runner. It’s such a big thing to accomplish. Ricky trained all through the winter, guys. Through the dark and the snow and the freezing cold- he ran.
  10. You will probably be super hungry by the time you get yourself and your runner home, so the first thing to do is make food. A chicken wrap packed with veggies does the job perfectly.
  11. After eating, you should take a nap. After all, you had an early morning, and you covered a lot of ground. And if the marathon runner wakes up from their nap before you do, and heads outside to play some ping-pong and basketball, it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty or weird about it. Just rest.
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The lonely street after everyone crossed the starting line.
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Okay, well, normally you are a very reasonable human being, so I guess we’ll excuse this one time that you thought running 42.2 kilometers was “so fun”. 
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Me- sunburned and utterly relieved that everyone survived the marathon.
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Post-race banana grin. He’s amazing. 

 

 

I’m looking forward to watching Ricky run another marathon in October. You can watch the video about May’s marathon here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLFI5BlOT9o&t=0s

The Place for Me

When we first began to seriously consider moving to Toronto (about two years ago, I think), one of my fears was that there wouldn’t be enough trees in Toronto to satisfy my craving for green, growing things.

(It might sound like a silly fear, but in my defense, we had recently driven through a neighbourhood in Toronto where there truly did not seem to be many trees.)

I had that fear in my heart.

And you know what God did?

He found us an apartment on a corner, and the street on one side of us is Treeview. It is lined with beautiful trees.

Can you believe it?

I just made this connection in the past few months, and I love it.

We’ve been living here exactly one year now. In the first few months of living here, we were often asked how we were adjusting to life in Toronto, and my answer was always that the “adjustment had been surprisingly simple.” And I meant it, too.

However.

I finally hit a rough spot. It happened at the beginning of July.

It was a feeling of “I-don’t-belong-here,” and I think it came because the job that I had been doing ever since we moved had come to an end. Along with the ending of the job came the realization that outside of my job, I hadn’t really formed any connections with people here. Being the introvert that I am, it doesn’t really bother me to spend days on end on my own. However, the idea that I might actually not be capable of forming new friendships did bother me. Also, sometimes it feels like, in order to be a truly good Christian, you need to be able to quickly form close connections with other people so that you can show them Jesus’ love. I wasn’t doing that, and therefore felt guilty.

To sum all that up… I felt lonely, and like I didn’t have anyone to give to here. (Which is ridiculous, I know. There are so many different ways of giving all around me.)

Pair “lonely-in-Toronto” with “growing-relationships-with-wonderful-people-at-my-church-in-Kitchener” and “scared-to-find-a-job-in-Toronto” with “there’s-a-school-in-Hawkesville-that-I-know-and-love-and-so-why-would-I-ever-pursue-anything-else-besides-teaching-is-such-a-noble-fulfilling-job-and-i-miss-it-so-much-and-maybe-some-year-soon-i-could-teach-there-again”. This is a formula for wanting to return to the place I left behind.

And so that’s what happened.

That other life was just such a good one. A job I loved and was getting better at, family and friends close by…

I think I even started to resent Toronto. (Yes, the entire city.)

I shoved back the pain of the lack of relationships in Toronto by telling myself I didn’t actually need them. I have lots of people who care about me in Waterloo, and that’s really all I need, right?

Well, maybe.

But holding onto that mindset would deprive me of beautiful things.

There was a day at the end of August where I had the privilege of going back to the school in Hawkesville that I love and spending several hours in the loveliest, best-feeling classroom with my friend Meghan, and then participating in a meeting with teachers that I admire and miss. I knew that being there was going to be hard in a way, because I was feeling so strongly that I wanted that school to be my place again.

And I did experience that feeling.

I did experience some jealousy, some longing, some teacher-ideas and inspiration creeping into my brain, making me feel like a teacher is what I truly am meant to be.

I felt those things.

But somehow…

At the end of the day…

When I drove away…

It was all okay.

I had expected to feel completely convinced that we should move back to Waterloo as soon as possible.

But I felt the opposite.

I felt like it was okay to be in Toronto. That there are things for me here too. Things that I want. Things that I can do, even if they don’t feel comfortable and I don’t know yet whether I love them.

This life in Toronto is a sacrifice in some ways, but a gift in others.

I think it had to be God who gave me those feelings, because I sure did not want to feel that, and it was not the natural outcome of the day.

That night I slept at my family’s house, and the next day we canned peaches and tomatoes, and made salsa and spaghetti sauce.

I drove home after that day of canning, slightly sticky and definitely exhausted.

When I got home after dark, Ricky helped me unload the car by carrying a box full of jars of freshly canned tomatoes and peaches inside.

I put my Waterloo food on my Toronto shelf, and I think it looks beautiful there.

Next, we went to the living room, freshly painted white. We pushed the furniture back against the walls, some in the same spots and some in new spots. We put all of our books on one gigantic new bookshelf. We hung a print up on the wall, and made plans to soon add more pictures to the wall around it.

And it felt more like our place than it ever has before.

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Soon after I felt these things, I stumbled across two things that made me feel like God was reaffirming for me that it is good and right for me to be here right now. 

One was a podcast episode of Emily P. Freeman’s, called “Be a Placemaker”. She speaks about honestly acknowledging the place we are in, and then doing what we need to do to make it beautiful and valuable. It is available here as a blog post. (Also, how many times have I told you to get some Emily P. Freeman in your life? If you haven’t yet… well. You’re just missing out.) 

“There are some things you can still choose, like making a place where your roots are lacking, like believing for sure that God is with you, like doing your next right thing in love.”

-Emily P. Freeman

The second thing that I found and connected with was this blog post by Rosina Schmucker. Life sometimes ends up looking different than we expected it to, and that’s okay. 


What about you? Have you ever had to be intentional about putting down roots? We’d love to hear about it. Specifically- ahem- about how you went about doing it. 

Cottage 2019

Every year my family goes to the same cottage,

And every year I take many, many photos.

They are essentially the same photos, year after year.

Same place, same people.

But I love each year’s photos in a separate way.

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Sometimes I wonder why we have chosen this-

going to the same cottage for 20+ years.

Are we not depriving ourselves of new and beautiful things?

Maybe,

But also,

We get around in other ways at other times.

And there is a benefit to going back to the same place,

I think (speaking from the perspective of desiring a relaxing vacation).

You know what to expect.

What to look forward to.

What it will smell like.

You know that outside is never far away at the cottage.

(It’s even in your bed by the end of the week- hello, sandy sheets.)

You know generally what your daily schedule will be like-

Go to the water early-ish in the morning to sit or write,

Go to the water mid-day to swim and read in the sun,

Go to the water in the evening to walk the beach, skip stones, climb on the big rock, and watch the sun set.

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You know that on Thursday,

Everyone will debate about whether or not to go to the flea market,

Even though we already know that of course we’re going. We always do. 

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You know what will be the same, and that is comfortable.

But you also notice the differences-

the new deck chairs,

the higher water level,

the new cottages that are being built down the road.

We and the cottage are always different versions of ourselves than we were the summer before.

The things we’ve learned and seen.

The things we’ve loved and been hurt by.

The things we’ve hoped for and the the things we’ve been afraid of.

These things shift, from year to year.

We just pack it all up, squash it into our cars and our vans,

And take it with us to the cottage,

where there aren’t really hiding places to tuck it away.

There is, however, plenty of space for airing things out

by the water

around the table

and on quirky couches.

It’s never perfect,

And sometimes things hurt,

Like walking over a few feet of rocks to get into deeper water

Or realizing that you still have the tendency to eat when you aren’t even hungry

Or that you are actually still selfish,

even though you had decided ahead of time not to be. Gah. 

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If you look at this picture the right way, it looks like Ricky is running underwater. Can you see it? I love it. 

It’s always hard to leave,

And as we get closer to home,

there’s more traffic and concrete.

But somehow, I feel more ready for the fall- even when I don’t know what it holds for me. I feel braver, and like the possibility is beautiful, and I feel like there are many impossibly beautiful things that I might get to be a part of in this life.

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We visited the Tiny Marsh. There were many bullrushes and mosquitoes. 

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Do you know what I see when I look at this picture? I see autumn. Right there in the trees. It’s lovely. 
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I think this might be my favourite of all the pictures I took this week. Grey and gold- isn’t that just the way life is? 

 

What about you? Do you prefer vacationing in new places or in familiar places? 

 

August

August is that person that I am used to seeing every day.

She is comfortable.

She is familiar.

She is full of ordinary warmth.

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In August, summer has settled into itself, and everything feels ganglier and softer and dustier. Mature.

The textures and the layers criss-cross and overlap.

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The seventh campfire, instead of the first or second.

But one day, something makes me pause.

Catches my eye.

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And when I take a second look, I realize that maybe I don’t know her as well as I thought I did.

There is overlooked beauty all around.

And I realize that as much as I love September…

August may stick around for as long as she wants to.

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What do you love about August? 

The Mississippi and the Train

The Mississippi and the Train

It’s the kind of river that shows up often in books you read as a child,

Wide and significant,

An  adventure.

But then you look across the road and there it is,

Full of history, but so very present.

Ordinary and mysterious.

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Loud things always affect me.

They fill me

Or they make me feel sick

Or they make me want to curl up and escape.

A train woke me up the other night.

Its horn was so loud that I thought this train was going to come straight in through our open window and split

Us

This house

The world

Apart.

It wasn’t just the horn I heard.

There was a gentle musical sound wrapped around the harshness of the horn. It sounded absolutely heavenly.

Turns out the train wasn’t going through us-

Just beside us, over by the Mississippi.

In the morning, out on the deck,

I listened to a train run by on the same tracks.

I was glad to hear the same thing I’d heard in the night-

the painful loud layer and the beautiful musical layer.

I am glad that I heard the train in the night without seeing it the first time.

If I had seen it, I might have missed the music.

There are layers to be discovered in the Unseen.

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A Long Prayer

A Long Prayer

Dear God,

There is much that I am uncertain about.

This interpretation, that interpretation…

And if I don’t feel a conviction to do this, does that mean that I am not actually called to do it,

Or

Does it just mean that I should grow some spiritual muscle and develop a conviction for it

?

 

 

Also,

Is it always holier to do the more uncomfortable thing

?

 

I don’t know how to pray, God.

How can I pray, when it only reveals how very little of you I understand?

I imagine that you must be

So

Much

More

Than just a perfect superhuman.

But

What

?

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And what do I do if I realize that my motive for knowing you more

Is so that I will appear and feel more

Wise?

(I hate when my motives get all twisted like this.

Forgive me.)

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I know that learning to know you is a journey-

An adventure!

I will not navigate it perfectly.

I know that there are mountain-tops along the way

With much clarity.

I also know that there is…

Muck.

 

Speaking of muck…

 

I confess that when I hear the words child-like faith

Something inside me splinters

And not in a good way.

 

I have slid into a pit of

“Earning my faith”

By being skeptical about this and about that.

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We talk about owning our faith and how good it is to question and search.

But nobody tells you

What to do

When you are just…

Lost.

 

When the answers to your questions sometimes involve that child-like faith and you just

Can’t

Quite

Regain it.

 

There is much that I am uncertain about.

 

But also…

 

The daffodils in the flowerbed outside our door just keep blooming and blooming, through cold and through gray.

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In The Horse and His Boy, Aslan was all the lions.

 

There are certain things that I hesitate to pray for because I’m afraid you’ll send me what I ask for.

 

“… in You we live and move and have our being.”

 

Some days, the sun shines in a warm way and the grass is green beneath me.

 

Perhaps, right now, many small pieces of you are more necessary for me than one giant understanding. And maybe I don’t even need to worry about putting all those pieces together.

 

Maybe I will just watch for the beautiful pieces and name you as I see you.

 

I’ll be watching, God. I’ll be watching.

 

Amen.

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Question: What are you certain or uncertain about these days? Hearing either is encouraging.