In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Monday, August 15, 2011

What's in a Name?

How many of us struggle to be content with our lives - it is easy for the seeds of discontent to be nourished by our ingratitude, selfishness and consistent desire for more out of life.

I've been reading a book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. The premise of the book is to live your life full of joy, thanksgiving and grace by making yourself aware of all the gifts and blessings in your life. It is one thing to know you are blessed - it is another to make a habit of consistently naming each gift that blesses your life. Why is it important to name those moments of wonder? Quoting Alexander Schmemann, Voskamp writes:

"Now, in the Bible a name...reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift...To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it."

She goes on to say:

"In naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible. The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming. I name. And I know the face I face. God's! God is in the details; God is in the moment. God is in all the blurs by in life - even hurts in life."

The gifts of our life are all around us. Do we live our lives with enough gratitude to God to notice his hand in both grandeur and simplicity? Start by naming each blessing in your life.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Married Cook

Hello again friends. Before I begin, I will give you a few moments to blow off the metaphorical dust off of these metaphorical pages. Since it has been nearly a year since I last enlightened you all with an update of my always interesting life, I am sure you are dying to know what life changing events have occurred while my blog was left to languish in the oblivion of cyberspace. Well, I can say with confidence that the most dramatic change in my life has been the sudden imposition of the obligation of cooking. No one informed me that once I got married and moved out of the house, I would actually have to work to make food. All these years I assumed that supper magically appeared on the table with minimal effort. Isn't that how it is supposed to work, Mom? Lacking these magic skills, I have been forced to venture into the grocery aisles, purchase the food, and on top of that, prepare the food. Revolutionary. Thankfully, God provided me with a wonderfully supportive husband to ease this burden and help me navigate this foreign territory.

We managed our first trip to the grocery store quite successfully but then came the thinking part. What to cook? Like true born and fed Dutchies, we found ourselves instinctively making a hearty meal of meat and potatoes. Meat and potatoes....familiar, comforting, potentially bland, but still delicious. Cooking together turned out to be a grand time in our tiny little kitchen and we turned our sense of trepidation into a search for adventure. Jordan and I were both aware that falling into a regular meat and potato routine would inhibit our newfound feelings of adventure and we thus decided to institute a weekly "Recipe Night" where we would take turns picking out interesting recipes and cooking them together.

The first week was Jordan's turn to pick, and after scouring the plethora of cook books we received as wedding gifts, he came up with the following menu:
Rhubarb Glazed Pork
Vegetable Risotto
Orange Glazed Beets
While none of the ingredients for the recipes were too off the wall, they were put together in combinations that we, as newbie cooks, would never have imagined putting together. The meal tasted fantastic and we learned a few things along the way: 1) Don't cook Risotto unless you have great endurance and strong wrists (Jordan has both, so it turned out great!), 2) Boil beets right away because they take a really loooong time to cook and 3)Beets are best in moderation.
This week was my turn to cook and after tasting Nepalese food from Jordan's colleague, I was inspired to incorporate curry into my selection. I also was interested in finding a recipe with quinoa (sounds like keen-wa) after hearing about the greatness of the grainy substance on the radio. Abandoning the cook books, I hit up the world wide web and searched for curry quinoa and found a recipe for Red Lentil Curry on a bed of quinoa. So we set out to make this dish, loading it with a TON of vegetables and spices for some healthy (and vegetarian) goodness. The end product didn't look the greatest and made the house smell like curry, but it was a fantastic new discovery. Lessons learned from this meal: 1)Quinoa is expensive so don't buy it at Nutter's, 2) Lentils are cheap in bulk and they taste really good, and 3) Vegetarians have good ideas for creating interesting meals.

So there you have it. I am making progress and deciding to enjoy the new endeavour of cooking. After all, I LOVE eating, so I might as well learn to love the process of creating. If you have any ideas for recipes for Jordan and I to try, just let us know!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Commercial Degredation

I don't know about the rest of you, but sometimes I like to waste time by watching TV. I kind of like TV although I know its not the most productive use of my time. I usually don't mind the commercials either, unless they involve an old lady saying "Enterprise rent a car? Sounds Expensive!" However, last week I came across some commercials for Reebok Easy Tone Shoes and I decided I didn't like them either, but for very different reasons. Here are three of them...I will let you judge for yourself.

Something to think about: YouTube requires you to be 18 years of age to watch these videos, but they are on TV for anyone to see.

Friday, November 6, 2009

You are probably from Lethbridge if...

This is for all past and present residents of Lethbridge.

You are probably from Lethbridge if....

1. You know what it is like to wake up to -5 degree weather but enjoy a +20 degree day
2. You know what a coulee is...but still find it difficult to explain
3. You know that a Tarleck Tub has nothing to do with bathing
4. You know what a Hutterite is and see at least one every Thursday
5. You don't find it unusual to see more Mormon churches than Tim Horton's in a city
6. You think that bad traffic means getting home in 20 minutes instead of 10
7. You think that it's funny to tell people you are a Lethbian
8. You know exactly what a farm smells like even though you have never lived on one
9. When you say you are going to the mall, everyone knows what mall you are talking about
10. When you go to that mall, you always see someone you know
11. You hate, despise, and curse the wind with every bone in your body
12. You don't think Whoop Up Drive is an odd name for a road

If anyone of you is a Lethbian, feel free to add more to the list!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sanitation Explanation

Last week I saw someone fist pump a person they were meeting for the first time. While it may be premature to predict the death of the handshake, it is a sure sign of the times. Or just a sign of flu season. While flu season doesn't usually hit until October, many people prepare for its coming in advance. Usually I am ignorant of these preparations but the whole H1N1 thing you may have heard of is a little difficult to escape. My friends living in caves and under rocks have even heard the news and have decided to stay in their caves and under their rocks.

The reality of the pandemic concerns first hit me on my first day of school this year. The University of Lethbridge installed hundreds and hundreds of hand sanitizer stations. You can probably only go twenty feet in the halls without seeing another one of these little things hanging off the walls or standing at the bottom of a staircase. Now because variety is the spice of life, the university has installed two different kinds of sanitizers. Based on my personal experience, not all hand sanitizers are created equal. While I am sure that they are all effective in killing the evil H1N1 germs on our hands, we all know that is not what is important in selecting a sanitizer.

Sanitizer basically comes in two types: gel or foam. While gel has certain advantages, such as drying faster, it generally just doesn't smell as nice. It carries a distinctive alcohol smell so I guess on the plus side you know you smell really clean. Foam on the other hand seems to come in a variety of smells. My personal favourite is Bath and Body's Warm Vanilla Sugar. I would equate it to Christmas on your hands. Another upside of foam is that it seems to be more likely to come in automatic dispensers. Very convenient for those of us to lazy to give that little push. On the downside, one website warns that scented sanitizers can be tempting to taste. They recommend not giving into that temptation. Apparently, sanitizers can be poisonous if ingested and I don't think people dying is congruent with the aims of the H1N1 campaign.

Personally I am a little obsessive about using the hand sanitizer. I think my hands are permanently cracked and dry from alcohol absorption. At this rate, the likelihood of me contracting alcohol poisoning exceeds that of coming down with H1N1. Based on a scientific study of myself, I would say that sanitizer is 100% effective in preventing infection.

Now for a completely random aside.

Interesting fact (if you are a history nerd): In war statistics, did you know there is a difference between the number of casualties and the number of war dead? Casualties are the number of dead and injured while war dead is pretty self explanatory. Every time someone gets injured, it counts as another casualty. So if someone loses a leg at one time, and an arm at another time, and then dies in battle, they count for three casualties and one war dead.

I just knew you were all dying to know that. A good conversation starter perhaps?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Environmentalists Beware

If my life is ever made into a movie, and I am sure it will be once I am famous, the part depicting the fourth year of my university career will need to have some kind of warning screen. I imagine it will read something like this:

WARNING: The following program may be unsuitable for all audiences, especially if you are a tree hugger, David Suzuki or Greenpeace. Many trees were harmed in the production of this semester...well not just harmed...completely and utterly destroyed. Sorry for contributing to global warming, melting the ice caps and ultimately destroying the planet.

So basically my semester can be summarized in one word: papers. I think 20 papers to be exact....totaling somewhere near 125 pages of written word. I know I am not the first or the last person to have to write papers but this is stressing me out and I am coping by complaining. Quite therapeutic. I firmly believe that if environmentalists want to make a difference, they should go after university professors and urge them to resist their uncontrollable urges to assign multiple papers. However, I am not an innocent party in this matter either. Yesterday I handed in my final project for my summer applied study (WOOHOO!!) and let's just say the resulting stack of paper is best described in inches rather than page numbers.

I could go on for some time about my project but since it is difficult to describe and possibly even boring for those who think learning about history is akin to eating dust, it is essentially about compiling primary sources to teach grade five students about Canadian immigration to the West. What I have learned through this process can be boiled down to a single catchy phrase that I will possibly market for bumper stickers: "Go hug an immigrant." (TM) Immigrants not only fundamentally transformed our country, but most of us owe our very existence in this country to immigrants. So if you like living in Canada, go and give a big old hug to the next immigrant you see.

During my research for the project, I came across a lot of interesting documents. Not all of them related to immigration. Here is one from 1979 by a local First Nations artist I found particularly enjoyable

See, historical research really can be fun! Next time I will post court documents for land claims, which I can assure you are as equally fascinating.

P.S. If you want to read something far more interesting than my blog (hard to imagine) check out David's blog. There is a link on the right.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Real Life Superheroes

Imagine yourself walking down a busy street in New York city, people pressed up against you everywhere you turn. One second you are beside a classy businesswoman, which you don't mind because she is wearing a really nice perfume, and the next second you are face to face with a bearded biker whose only fragrance is a week's worth of sweat infused with a hint of leather. While you are busy smelling your way through the crowd, a thief snatches your purse and before you even realize what has happened, he disappears into the throngs. At this time of crisis, only one thought is going through your mind. Where are the superheroes when you need them?

While there may have been times when we thought our batman pjs and dress-up capes qualified us as real superheroes, most of us grew out of that stage before we hit junior high. However, a select few have held onto the dream and transformed themselves into......Real Life Superheroes Now this may sound like a joke but you know it is serious because they have their own website, complete with offical symbols, a superhero creed and even a superhero directory( Here is what their home page states:

Superheroes are not just in the comics or in the movies anymore. Out of the comics and into real life, conscientious citizens have created their own "Superhero" personas to make the world a better place. They have been dubbed by the media as Real Life Superheroes (RLSH). The Real-Life Superheroes is a grassroots movement that performs civic service in many different areas. Superheroes make an impact on their communities in civic activities, conducting public safety patrols, crime fighting, charity work and other pro social acts.

Real Life Superheroes don their masks and capes to inspire others to their cause. You can find these Real Life Superheroes out on the streets creating stronger and safer communities. The Real Life Superheroes believe there is a superhero in everyone and that we all can make a difference. Our main mission is to inspire everyday citizens to take action and stand up for what they believe in.

We are here for good and we are here to do good for others.

Superheroes are real.

That's right. Superheroes are real. And they are very serious about what they do. Meet Citizen Prime (alias Jim Wayne) who is actively involved in building the League of Citizen Heroes. His aim is to "prime" people to live up to their goals and to make their communities a better place. And just in case you were wondering, he has professional grade armor as well as "a host of accompanying gadgets based upon the mission."

There is also Phantom Zero. His identity remains a secret and his main activity is donating to charities and helping people find aid. This unknown hero claims the only weapon he needs is Reason. Now these activities may sound unworthy of superhero status, but donning the scary looking mask justifies it as such. Maybe its just me, but I think it is a bit paradoxical that someone tries to help people live better lives while looking like the Grim Reaper.

Apparently it isn't too hard to qualify as a superhero. The Green Sage is a high school biology and environmental science teacher whose superhero activity is teaching people about the environment while wearing a green robe. Direction Man, dubbed the "human GPS" helps lost souls find their way around New York's Times Square. Kismet simply dons a yellow shirt with a peace sign and a funny hat and makes a point of letting people know "that they can be awesome, and there are lots of ways to do so."

While the whole concept of Real Life Superheroes is a bit out there, I must admit that for the most part, these people seem genuinely dedicated to making the world around them a better place. They may not be saving the world from imminent destruction or flying faster than a speeding bullet, but they are taking it upon themselves to make change in the world. You know when they make the effort to make armor out of professional grade material that they are serious about what they are doing. Simple things like picking up litter, volunteering at homeless shelters and donating to charities can make a difference. We may laugh at their methods but perhaps we can see these Real Life Superheroes as a reminder to pay attention to the social injustices in our world.

So next time you see me, I just might be wearing a green robe with a grim reaper mask looking to tell you how awesome you are. Wouldn't that be super?

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.