Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Links and Whatnot

  •  Dani and her dad have started a thing: Woodever Crafts. I am super excited for them... have a look at their Instagram page, then follow them if you like their style. So many beautiful gift and decor items...

  • This is me: 

  • This is also me:

  • I was poking around on Pinterest and noticed a growing trend of doodling verses in the margin of your Bible:

Which is beautiful but intimidating for those of us who don't do doodles quite as artistically as that. But, good news for those of us who need lines:

Kinda cool, no?

I think Ima gonna get one. 

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Challenging days only last 24 hours.
2. New babies.
3. All this rain is melting the snow/ice; the driveway is almost safe to walk on again.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 2017: Beauty in Winter

The infamous Blizzard of New Year's Eve left behind a foot of white, fluffy, cold, pretty snowflakes that took our breath away. Our colourful world was rendered blue and white.

That snow?
Stuck to every surface.

The past was covered, nothing but new ahead.

Dear God.
This just feels like a fresh start to the upcoming year.
So clean.
So hopeful.
So serene.
So quiet.

Can I start over?
Can I say sorry and can You forgive me and can today be all fresh and new and squeaky clean?
And I can stop feeling guilty?
And can we try again? And by this I mean, can Your will be done in my life, and can I be better at allowing that to happen?

Can you direct my paths?
Guide me, even if I'm looking the wrong way?
Trip me up and turn me around when I'm heading off in a direction that is not part of Your plan.

Can You open and close doors according to Your purposes and plans for my life?
Can you help me learn to accept those plans with a better attitude, and without the constant nudging on closed doors just to see if maybe they aren't really shut and locked?

Can You please continue to bring into and take out of my life people of your choosing? And can You help me not whine about it? Can You help me not run after or long for people You've said no about? And can You help me embrace and love those that You've chosen for me to spend time with?

Can I ask You again, a couple times a day (and sometimes a couple times an hour) to protect and love my people?

Haha. "My people."
My people, which You have given to me:


Your will be done in their lives.
Your will be done.

God, I pray for my kids, their friends, my friends, their kids, my extended family, my "12" ...
I pray for our leaders.
Our churches.
Our church leaders.

I pray for our places of employment.

I ask for Your protection and blessing on rehab and detox facilities.
I ask for Your presence at Universities and Colleges.
I ask for Your blessing on care homes and senior's facilities.

God? Syria? And other war torn countries? How should I pray? That Your spirit of peace would prevail in that place? That Godly leaders would be raised up? That evil will be overcome? That families will be reunited? That Your will be done.

God? Folks who struggle with drug and alcohol addictions are heavy on my mind. Please, please, please ... surround them with people who speak their language and can provide them with hope. Be there, right beside them, in that pit of "the bottom" so when they hit it, they have a way out. Provide them with counselors, role models, sponsors, friends to walk alongside.

God. I pray that as they chalk up clean time, they will feel a lightness and a peace. I pray that once their minds and bodies are clear, Your message of hope and healing would be heard clearly.

Give their families peace. Give them courage. Provide them with friends who've gone ahead and understand.

God, let them be brave enough to share their stories. May all the glory be Yours.

God, I pray for students.
I pray for focus and limited distractions and discipline as they say no to fun things in order to study and write. I pray, that with Your help, they'll be able to keep their eyes on the end prize, and work with diligence towards it.

I pray for their learning environments, their instructors and teachers, their study partners and group-project-team- members. I pray for their minds and brains and their bodies...

If discouragement sets in, God, I pray you provide support. If lack of understanding becomes an issue, God, I pray they would set aside their pride and ask for help. If financial stresses become overwhelming, I pray You would help them find a source of income.

God I pray for the success of today's students. I pray You will cover them with your protection and use them to build Your kingdom.

And I pray for those looking for meaningful work. Protect them from despair. Guide them to organizations that would appreciate and benefit from their involvement.
Swing open doors of opportunity; handpick their places of employment according to Your plans for their lives. I pray for employers who are kind, supportive, worthy of praise. I pray for work that is life-giving, and challenging and makes a difference in this world.

I pray for co-workers who are hardworking, fun, experienced, encouraging.

I pray Your will be done in the lives of those needing work.

God? I pray for our parents.
The circle of life, which is a term I never understood before, as life looked linear to me, is now becoming evident.
And this is how You always intended it to be...
The Bible is filled with stories of Your people becoming very frail and dependent at the end of their lives. And as it was then, so it is now.

No one wants to be needy or reliant.
But it was always part of Your plan, yes? Each generation looks after their children and then their parents, in turn.

Give us wisdom and compassion and strength as we do so.
It's a tricky thing, as pride and self-reliance, factor in on one side. And fatigue and selfishness come into play at the other. God I pray You would intervene. Show us how to do this well.

So many people I love are caring for ailing parents, while working, and babysitting grandchildren. It's a busy season, and we need You to provide us with energy and wisdom. Keep us strong as we care for those entrusted to us. Provide us with good options when we need them. Show us how to be good stewards of time and money.

I pray for the retirement communities, care homes, senior housing ... God I pray these would be places of peace and rest and dignity and care. Fill these places with workers gifted in caring for folks who might need special handling and a gentle touch. Give the residents an extra measure of patience as they adjust to a life that turned out different than they expected.

I pray for our parents as they make adjustments and plan for their futures. Fill their lives with meaning, and purpose, and friendships, and opportunities to be light and love where ever they go. God I pray that this generation would bless and encourage those they come into contact with; health care workers, retail clerks, lab assistants, delivery people, grandchildren, neighbours... I pray for the legacy they leave behind; may it be rich with examples of Your grace and provision in their lives.

And God?
Oh my goodness.
It feels like an epidemic...
So many people struggling with anxiety and depression right now.
Oh. My. Goodness.

What is happening to us?
We so need You.
I pray for healing for those who are being crippled by emotions that are running amok. Give them peace. Calm their spirits. Flood them with peace. Pour buckets of hope over their aching souls. Direct them to doctors and counselors who can help. I pray for correct diagnosis's, helpful medications, healing conversations, nights of deep rest, friends who walk beside, employers who understand, families who surround with love, church communities who extend support, and I beg for complete and total healing for those inflicted.

I pray Your will be done.

And now, like always, I pray for those who don't know You.
Can You reveal Yourself to them in a profoundly personal, deeply loving, totally unexpected, completely overwhelming way in Your perfect timing? Please enable them to respond wholly and utterly to Your call on their lives.

Please stand between them and the temptations and lies that don't allow them to see you clearly.
I pray that they chains that tie them to fear, or disbelief, or apathy, or confusion, or disappointment, would be broken so they could see clearly Your love.

I pray that You would declare, by bellowing to the heavens and the earth, "THIS ONE IS MINE. I am going to be unrelenting in My pursuit of him/her. He/she is MY lost lamb and I will not let go. So, stand down because I'm prepared to battle, and YOU HAVE ALREADY LOST."

I pray that not only they, but also their best and closest friends would become Your followers.
I pray that communities would be shaken up by Your hand at work and the response afterwards.
I pray for families and work places and communities and neighbourhoods and clubs and teams and classrooms that will be forever changed because You called and people responded.

God I pray that 2017 would be The Year.



And then the next day (Jan 2) Mandi (and her dad n mom) loaded everything she owns into a U-haul trailer, so that they following day (Jan 3) her things would travel across the mountains to her new home in Calgary.

A new chapter for our girl.

Dear God,

Keep her safe; protect her and guide her.
Thank you for her new place, her new job, her new semester of school.
Watch over her, please. Provide her with a community of friends who love and support her in a city where she knows no one.

Hold her close, I pray.

And as day shifted to night, we celebrated my mom's 77th birthday.

At the Keg:

The following night, I met Marg and Patrica for dinner and a movie:

Apparently, according to the reviews, Fences is 'an important and challenging movie about family, fidelity, fatherhood and grace.'

It was challenging alright.
And yes, it was definitely about fidelity, family and fatherhood. 
And yes, grace.

But so hard to watch - it was an intense two hours for sure. 

And Viola Davis absolutely deserved that Golden Globe. She was awesome.

On Jan 6, Heather and I saw Manchester by the Sea:

Rotten Tomatoes gave it 97% and Casey Affleck won the Golden Globe for his performance which I predicted because Oh My Goodness, he was perfect.

But this is a sad movie about a sad topic in a town that is dismal and grey and somber. I like leaving movies feeling like I've been entertained or enlightened and this one? Just made my heart heavy. SO much pain.

Hoping for something a bit lighter, Marj, Shelly, Terry, Sandra and I saw Hidden Figures on Thursday:

A perfect movie. 
GREAT acting, inspiring story, amazing script. Hans Zimmer score. 

Go see it.
No really, go see it. 
I'm serious. 

Not only did I learn about these three women, and their strength, I ended up with a bit of a crush on the recently deceased John Glenn. Haha. THAT was unexpected. 


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. A weekend at the lake to think and process and sleep and walk and nap and pray and not talk. (Haha. I'm here by myself and haven't spoken out loud in 40 hours.)

2. People who write books. Just finished A Secret Chord and it has me investigating/researching reading more about David. And re-listening to the sermon series from last year entitled, "Dave".

3. As ever, I'm thankful for actors, and writers, and directors and producers and make up artists and scupltors and casting agents and set designers for their part in the entertainment industry that I am single-handedly supporting financially.


Saturday, January 14, 2017

December 2016

I'm not usually a fan of the 12th month of the year.
But my bloggy silence wasn't because I was being broody.

This time 'round? I filled it (December)  with as many good things and I could.
Plus there was The Snow. (Which, yeah, OK, it was beautiful n all, but if you're the one who's responsible for keeping a 9-car driveway clear, It Is An Issue.)
(And we received more than our fair share of snow. It never melted. And it just kept falling. EVERY weekend.)
(Ok. so maybe I AM a little whiny.)

Mostly for my own sake (it comes in handy when preparing for weddings, to have a pictoral and written reference, of past activities...) I am going to do a December round-up:

I've seen a few movies, attended a few events, caught a few Pokemon, walkedntalked, drank some tea, ate a lot of food, learned how to operate a snow blower and a snow shovel, cheered on our Canucks, managed a crippled creative department, looked at every home that came on the market, made 12 photobooks, (one per evening, most weeknights between 11 pm and 1 am) worked right up til Christmas and then again in between Christmas and New Years and took a million pictures. All things considered, it's been an outstanding month. And these are the highlights:

  • Walking through Tynehead Park with Sandra in early December, before the snow, and finding a random tree, decorated with ornaments. Reminded me of the first time we saw teapots on Teapot Hill. 

  • Dinner with Val at Mr. Mike's. I'm glad she's my cousin-friend-twin-who-is-tinier-and-darker-and-younger. There's just a whole lifetime of history, isn't there? I love that she knows my whole story. 
  • Tea with Maureen at The Clayburn Village Store; so delicious and cozy/inviting/unique. (So English and civilized and I'm glad she suggested it.) Then praying in my truck afterwards. Haha. She makes my ride holy.
  • And that same weekend (as the walk, the dinner, the tea, as well as a night at the lake), was the Annual OFam Bake Off:
They look like models to me. 

My heart.

  • Supper with Donna in White Rock. I am grateful for her friendship; she just turned 69 and these are her remodeled bathrooms. She believes in the power of wall paper. This woman has more style that I will ever have:

Those round mirrors are the bomb. 

  • And even though it was still the tail end of Autumn at the beginning of December, it felt like winter. We had our first snow fall on Dec 5. 

  • Then on Dec 9, alot of snow fell, and we had a SNOW DAY (meaning the office was closed).

(And, this day, Dec 9, also happened to be the day that I did all my Christmas shopping, from my bed, at 3 am. Everything arrived 40 hours later, on Sunday afternoon. I may never step into a mall again. Amazon for the win.)

  • A day later, Heather asked if I'd pop by with my camera to take some pics of her grandbabies. Nothing formal, just some shots of them playing. I LOVE doing this. With all my heart. 

(More snow continued to fall.)

And I learned how to use this:

This is the 'empty' bay in the garage. My stuff is boxed at the back. The middle is filled with remodeling materials and the front is a collection of Drew and Danica's things. 

It took awhile to learn the ins n outs of actually firing it up, (what did we do before cameras on phones and text messaging?) but Julie walked me through the process. She learned me about chokes, starter keys, pull cords. (Now? One month later? I can get that beast started in 3 pulls.)

Sadly, knowing how to start a snowblower, and being able to push it around, does not mean you know how to actually remove snow from the driveway. I mean, it blows the snow. Over to either side, or right in front. But the driveway is wide. And from the centre, it doesn't blow it off the edge. So an engineer should really operate this puppy. Not me. Because it was very trial and error to determine an efficient way to clear the driveway.

I am better at sidewalks:

  • And then the next day, Dec 13, on the one year anniversary of their engagement, Dani and I met for a spontaneous 20 minute photo shoot in the snow. This day? Was pure awesomeness.

I love, LOVE, l.o.v.e! taking photos of happy people.
I am so thankful that she was OK with me snapping a million pics of her.
(I blogged about this here.)

I am so thankful that she is a part of my family.

  • The next day? I took the morning off work and drove out to the lake to make sure the roof hadn't collapsed under the weight of the snow and that the pipes in the basement hadn't frozen and burst. Now that I can operate a snow blower, I am a handy-man too. 

If the cabin is my favorite-ist place on earth, it's basement is my least favorite. When I hopped out of my truck, the snow was deeper than my boot-tops. I creeped in, banging and talking loudly so the rats, mice and raccoons would know to scatter. I checked the pipes, set up a space heater, noticed the burnt out plugs, took note of the insulation and wiring, then drove back to work, confident that the cabin wasn't going to fall apart under my watch.

Then? That very same evening? The Christmas season officially began.
I drove four of us into Vancouver to the QE theatre for a Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman concert.
Seriously a perfect evening.
So much awesomeness; from the seats (15 rows from the front) to the music (I love their songwriting) to the friends I was with - it was all so very good.

And yes, if you're keeping track, I put a lot of miles on this day. To Cultus and back, then into Vancouver and back. So thankful I have a 4WD.

  • Dec 15: Because my inventory bag of Pokeballs was empty, I picked up Heather after work and headed back into Vancouver, where we walked along the seawall (it was -12 degrees. I was wearing t shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, a baggy knit sweater, and two hoodies. She gave me my Christmas present early (fingertipless gloves with a mitten flap. So I could keep my Pokemon catching fingertip exposed, but all the rest of my digits cozy). A very thoughtful gift.

The background music that evening was ambulance/emergency sirens.

Turns out that there were 9 overdose deaths that evening.
(Please don't stop praying for people struggling with addictions.)

After our walk, we drove a pot of soup over to Clint, who was working late. Then tried to get in touch with Amy to drop some off at her place too. While we waited to hear back from her, we drove around Stanley Park, which is beautiful in the summer daytime and the winter nighttime. And has lots of Pokestops.

Vancouver at night is a jewel.
And has such creative art installations.

Not all of us where amazed by the art.

  • The next day? Friday Dec 16? My designer's 34 yr old healthy, fit, active husband had a heart attack. It sucker-punched me in the gut. How could this be? 

(My dad had his first heart attack a week before Christmas, in 1990. He was 54 years old. Tyler's heart attack caused all those old feels to come back with a whoosh.)
He's going to be fine; he called 911 from his work truck at noon and was operated on immediately. But. Whoa. Still. What a thing.

Then at 5, Kim met me at work, and I drove us into Vancouver.
We'd read the book in bookclub and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we were looking forward to seeing the movie version of A Man Called Ove. It was playing at the Vancouver Internal Film Festival, and was entirely in Swedish. (With English subtitles.) So we read the movie, just like we read the book.

  • On Saturday I drove back out to the lake to check on the heater and the roof. Because if there was a problem, I am uniquely equipped to handle such emergencies, what with having a cell phone n all. 

On my way back into town, I stopped in at Val's to pick up my Purdy's order. Then dropped by Amanda's house to leave some groceries and a meal and some toys for her family.

  • It snowed again on Sunday; like alot. Much snow felllll and kept falling. I was supposed to pick up Kim from the airport, arriving home after 6 weeks in Vietnam, but the roads were dicey. So she took the skytrain home and I fired up the snowblower. Mandi, who's been living in Alberta since October was coming home for Christmas so the driveway needed to be cleared for her vehicle as well as mine. 

I worked for an hour until I ran out of gas, then used the shovel until it was time to leave.
This? Was a day I'd been looking forward to all month. This? Felt like my Christmas Day.
The Ofam and the Stapes were meeting for supper at the Spaghetti Factory, then all seeing Star Wars (Rogue One) together. With Lorne on one end, and I on the other, with our families between us, this just felt lovely.

When I got back home that night, my heart was full. Regardless of how the 24th, 25th and 26th played out, I'd made enough memories this month to carry me through. Those are just 3 days on the calendar... If the kids had other plans and obligations, I was going to Be Fine. And to be honest, it had been a busy month thus far, and if I was alone on The Three Big Days Of Christmas, I was going to totally enjoy it.

  • I had book club on Mon Dec 19, but wasn't able to go. With my only two designers out of the office for personal reasons, I had a bit of timeline juggling to do. So I worked late then, with more fuel for the beast, I tackled the driveway again. (It had snowed all night and whatever I'd cleared during Sunday afternoon was totally covered again.) 

  • After work on Tuesday Dec 20,  I hung out in Maxine's kitchen. Only good things happen in her kitchen. 

  • The following evening, after work, and after a bit of shopping, I picked up Heather at 9 pm. We were going Pokemon catching in Fort Langley for a few hours. We had snacks, charged external batteries, and much enthusiasm for this brainless but fun activity. It was cold. And the roads/sidewalks weren't cleared, so mostly we just sat in my  truck and talked while we waited for the stops to become blue again. (That's a secret code for Pokepeople only.)

  • I had tickets for the Dec 22 Canuck's game, so after work, we met at my mom's and I drove the four of us into Vancouver. We lost. But we also laughed. So I'd call the evening a win. 

  • And then, just like that it was Dec 23. Our office was closed, so I made an appointment to get my face threaded, then use up a gift card and have a mani/pedi done. I spent the afternoon going back and forth to Costco trying to get some photos printed. By some, I mean 5,000. No really. I finally got them all uploaded and ordered at 7:30 pm, just before they closed. I did laundry and cleaned my room. And looked at the driveway and the weather forecast a million times. 

  • I woke up on the 24th to more snow. And the need to get out to Costco to pick up some pics. And by some, I mean 5,000. When I got home, I snowblowed the driveway. At 3 pm, I drove Kim and I over to the Village Church's afternoon Christmas Eve service where Drew and Danica were saving us seats. My kids were spending the evening at their dad's; celebrating Christmas together, so Kim and I went to White Rock, where we walked along the beach and had a traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Fish n Chips served by an Asian man. We were his only customers, and he was the only place open on the strip. I guess not so traditional then. Haha. 

We stood at the end of the dock and enjoyed the clear evening. Star and planets were in abundance and she showed me this phone app that names everything in the sky for you. Seriously, we live in a beautiful time; technology is wonderful.

I dropped her off at 8, then packed up the balloon bouquet I'd ordered earlier in the day and drove it out to Coquitlam. My friend Jenn had received some good news earlier in the month and I hadn't celebrated with her yet. So I dropped off the CONGRATULATIONS - I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU card and realized OH MY GOODNESS, JENN LIVES RIGHT BESIDE LAFARGE LAKE.

I drove over, parked, and in completely inappropriate clothing, checked out the lighted walk for as long as I could handle the cold.

I got home a little after 10 pm and decided it was time to wrap presents. Kids were going to be arriving around noon the following day (Christmas day), for brunch, then leaving a few hours later for Christmas afternoon, dinner and evening with their other families.

At 11 pm I got a text from Max wondering if it was OK if he and Amy came over for night. Then an hour later, Clint said he'd be coming for night too. I abandoned the wrapping and went down to the basement to make room/change sheets/ get towels for the three of them. They arrived at 1, all full of youth and energy and Christmas spirit, looking for snacks and prepared to watch our usual Christmas movie; Jingle All the Way. I had a choice, watch with them, or go back up to my room and wrap presents.

I watched til 3 am, then wrapped the presents. Because sleep is for seniors.

  • Christmas Day:

I had no expectations for Christmas Day.
Not a single one.
I couldn't imagine how the day would go.

We all met in the living room at noon and opened gifts,
And then?
We made breakfast, together. Everyone helped.
It. Was. Awesome.
No, really.
It was the best feeling ever to have all of us working at preparing the meal.
I loved every second of it.

After we'd eaten/cleaned up, WE. PLAYED. GAMES.
Games bought by Max.
And enthusiastically played by everyone.

I couldn't have imagined a better day.

They all left at 4, and I had a nap.

At 8, Clint texted me: "Hey, want to see a movie at 10? Doctor Strange? And then, could we BBQ some steak afterwards?"

It was possibly the best Christmas ever. 

  • Boxing Day was at Julie and Daryl's for turkey. 

I just noticed that both Danica and I are in this pic, so Clint must've taken this shot.

This crowd played a game involving their phones and the TV screen.

This crowd played a game involving a board, chips and cards. And reading glasses all 'round.

  • Desperately needing to walk off the meals I'd eaten, I picked up Heather and surprised her with a new walking location; Lafarge Lake. It was magical. 

And unexpectedly, it was a great Pokemon catching location.

So we walked around the lake twice.

  • After work on the 28th, I met Maureen for dinner then we went to see Lala Land. Which was beautiful and romantic and fun and I don't know if I need to hear Ryan Gosling sing again.

  • After work on the 29th, I drove around, dropping off gifts at friends' houses, doing some banking/errands/shopping and got home at 10. I settled in to binge watch anything on Netflix. Sherlock was the final wise choice. 

  • Dec 30 was sunny and clear so I picked up Heather for a walk. In Fort Langley. With our phones and external batteries. Many Pokemon were caught on the way there.

While walking through town, we ran into some old friends:

To be honest, I'm probably more excited about capturing a pretty image than I am about capturing a Pokemon. But it's a really good day when I can do both.

I dropped Heather off at 5, then turned around and went back to Langley to meet Danica. We watched:

then went out for dinner. 

Some days? Are just perfect. 
Dec 30 was one of them.

And this year? One New Year's Eve? Unlike the past 10 years? I did something. Haha.
Usually I go to the lake by myself.

This year, in the midst of The Blizzard to End all Blizzards, after I snow blowed the driveway, I drove in Vancouver, picked up Kim and went out for sushi and a movie. 

Just like on Christmas Eve when we were the only customers eating Fish n Chips in White Rock, again we're the only customers eating Sushi in this lil dive across from the theatre...

Black rice. A new thing for me...

Downloading TimePlay app...

Oh my goodness, I loved this movie. 

Before we left the theatre area, we did a quick impromptu photo shoot of her in her (late) mom's fur coat...

I dropped her off at 10, then drove home on an empty freeway (no one ventures out when a blizzard has taken over) and arrived home at 10:30.

At midnight? 
As we moved from one year to the next? 
I was being kissed by snowflakes as I snow blowed the driveway. Again. For the millionth time in December. 

At 1:00 am, I got a text message asking me if I could pick them up from a party and drive them home. Seeing I was sober and alert, I was happy to. I got back home at 3:30 am. 

Happy New Year!
2016 is done. 

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Friends and family who shared time with me in December.
2. People who make movies and phone apps.
3. 4WD vehicles, snowblowers, and Spring on the horizon.