Monday, April 23, 2007

Back From the Island...

We are back from 4 heavenly days on Galiano Island. Staying on the farm of a Regent professor, a Schaeffer-esque theologian/philosopher who chooses a long commute over the hectic city, we were refreshed with great food, relaxing atmosphere, and stimulating conversation. Dave and I planned and organized the much-needed retreat for our small group of friends. There's a lot of stress in that, planning meals and logistical details, and hoping it all meets expectations. Well, the weekend went far beyond any expectations.

The location is magnificent. The farm, forests and rocky cliffs meet the sea that sparkles and flashes in the sun. Scattered on the beach are bright purple starfish and crabs. Animals, wild and domestic, are everywhere. Seals and otters scramble about the rocks and play in the waves, sea birds dive at fish and hummingbirds dive at us, the sheep graze peacefully until Gibbie the sheepdog decides to have some fun, an early morning deer boldly tastes the trees near the house, and bald eagles soar majestically over our heads.

The house too is a comforting haven. Books and books and more books line every room. I don't think B&N could have more books than the abundance this house contains. Quiet perusal of the volumes and curling up to skim a few selections was a favorite late afternoon pastime after enjoying a hike or working in the garden. And reading nooks abound for this purpose, offering spectacular views of the beach. I particularly enjoyed the bookshelf specially devoted to the Inklings.

Meals were enjoyed around a large wooden table lit only by candelabras and a rodiron candle chandelier. These times were some of the most convivial: passing bowlfuls of delicious hot food amidst laughter and teasing and rousing discourse. With the many hands to help with preparation and clean-up, I never felt like I had a lot of work to do. Fresh mussels, homemade bread, thick chili, Thai chicken curry, local wine...we banqueted like royalty every meal.

Sunday morning we took an early morning row. Professor Wilkinson has a couple of Spanish longboats, exact replicas of those used 200 years ago. With 8 oarsmen rowing in sync, the knocking of the oars against the wooden boat creating a hypnotic heartbeat, we sped along the beautiful island coastline.

In return for our room we helped with some gardening: spreading mulch over garlic and leek plants, weeding the strawberry patch, mowing the expansive lawn. It felt good after a semester of intellectual work to dive into some manual labor and get our hands dirty.

Our professor considers ecology and conservation of the environment to be intrinsically integrated with theology, and through his words and actions he imparted to us a greater love and care for nature. The priority of preserving nature surpasses saving time or convenience. Only natural foods (mostly homegrown) and products are used, and paper products, saran wrap, and other rubbish-producing items are scorned (toilet paper was the only paper product I could find and even it was 7th Generation recycled paper.) All rubbish that comes on the island must be carried off again ourselves--no local garbage pickup. Composting and recycling is of upmost importance. We are so far removed from the source of our food and the resting place of our rubbish that we no longer take much heed of these things. I appreciated being reminded.

I can't even begin to say how much we were revitalized and transformed over just a few days. Our fellowship was sweet, our energy restored, our love for God strengthened, our tired minds revived. A true retreat.

It's nice to be home now though, even if only for one week. It's a bit sad...changing homes once again. It was just long enough to get a bit attached to the flat and our location. Now we are cleaning it and packing up our things. We will be home in Atlanta for May, and then back to a new home, though we're not sure where that will be yet. That is the prayer for this week--a place to live!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cora's 8 Month Birthday

Today Cora is 8 months old. What a month it's been too! Each month makes a big difference, but perhaps this past one has been the biggest leap so far. She is impressively mobile, actually crawling on hands and knees much of the time now rather than only the military crawl on elbows and tummy. She pulls herself to standing using the cushions on the back of the sofa, and then will even walk along it if something a few feet away catches her fancy. She monkey climbs over everything, constantly bonking her head on chair legs, her mouth on windowsills, her bottom as she falls. She wails for a moment and then is back at it. She walks so well with us holding onto her hands. She says "Baa" a lot. Her two bottom teeth have poked through. She can pick up cheerios or peas or grape bits and feed herself. Her personality is becoming more prounounced. She understands "no" very clearly and already will pout or protest when we say it (though surprisingly she does usually stop.) Yesterday we visited with her two boyfriends, Jonah on the left (2 months older) and Lucas on the right (1 month younger), neither of whom are moving at all yet, so she was crawling circles around them...not that they don't up her on other things. For one, they'll sit through book readings, while Cora gets mad at me if I don't let her chew on them. Perhaps they'll be more booky and she'll be more athletic. :-)

Also today, David finished his finals. What an accomplishment. I am still completing a last paper to turn in tomorrow; right now I'm sitting at a coffee shop down the street, drinking a latte and working away at it (minus a little break to blog!) while finally-free Dave plays at home with Cora. Tomorrow after I turn in my paper, we're going to meet a couple friends by school for a lunch of sushi (of which Vancouver has an abundance for very cheap) to celebrate. One semester down. About 11 more to go.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Sunday and Monday

Yesterday was an idyllic Easter. It began with a Dave specialty of fluffy, scrambled eggs, waffles with maple syrup, and coffee. Then a walk to the beach for a celebratory service on the shore. As we looked out on the water lapping the sand and the mountains disappearing into the clouds, we meditated on Christ's appearance to his disciples on that similar shore by the Sea of Tiberius and his subsequent ascension into a cloud. Afterwards, they fed us more coffee and gooey cinnamon buns from the best place in town. Then we walked back home where we finished preparing a feast fit for, well, for a pack of hungry students. Here, see some photos from our lovely day. Cora's sweet Easter skirt, sweater, and shoes were a shower gift from my dear friend Lanier. She looked so pretty, and everyone told her so (hence the sweet smiles)!

Easter Monday was also a lovely day. As I mentioned earlier, my friend Melissa (of "Jay and Melissa" who have become our closest friends here) was keen to go somewhere for her day off, and the guys are in study mode--it's finals week. So, I also thought it'd be good for Cora and I to get out of Dave's hair for the day. We had planned to go to Victoria, but decided last night that for a day trip, a closer island might be better. So, this morning we took a bus an hour north to the ferry terminal and then a ferry to tiny Bowen Island, a tranquil, scenic place where the pace of life is slower, the way of life more simple. It's a particular type of person that chooses to escape and live the island life, and today, we were those people. We walked wooded trails with occasional glimpses of the sea, sat on a bench and read aloud from a Henri Nouwen book on solitude and prayer, enjoyed a pot of tea and lunch on the deck of an harbor restaurant.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Fun and Frustrations

My free moments the past couple weeks have been spent being all crafty and making baby shower invitations. It's been fun, though by the time I had bought all the craft supplies (since all my stuff is still in Atlanta) and added up all the hours spent on them, I could have bought nice invitations 5 times over. But, I want this to be special for my best friend. I even took a picture of my endeavor as a memoir, and I just have to show them off to you:

So today, I finally took them to the post office...I'm already way past when I had hoped to get them out. The post office lady, however, said they were excess size because of the knot in the twine and wanted me to pay over double the price on each one. It's already a lot having to mail them internationally, so this news was not good for our student budget. I piled up my 15 envelopes and huffed back home. There I complained to Dave, who looked at me like I was crazy for not having just paid the postage fee, and started carefully opening envelopes and retying bows and trying to press them down. Then I would give him two envelopes and ask if he could tell a difference. He couldn't. Then I got the bright idea to go to a different post office; maybe they wouldn't be so keen and not notice the size problem. So I strapped on Cora and piled up my envelopes again and set off for another one quite a few blocks further away. Well, the first lady was, as I wished, not very keen. I hesitantly asked, "So, the size isn't a problem?" She assured me no, but the lady behind her asked if she'd put it through the little plastic slot size measurer thingy. So, she did, and of course it got stuck. Just a little though. A little shove and it was through. Wasn't that okay, I asked? No, it'll get stuck in the machine sorter and be sent back to me. Grrrr. By that time, it was past the time for the mail to get picked up anyway, and Easter weekend here means Friday and Monday are holidays (isn't that wonderful?!!! What is wrong with the U.S. that you don't even get Good Friday off anymore?) So, now I wouldn't be able to get them out until Tuesday anyway, so plan C: this weekend I'll switch out the thick twine for thin blue ribbon on each invitation. Only, I have no idea where I can find some pretty blue ribbon. And we're entertaining 17 people for Easter dinner on Sunday (don't ask me where they'll fit) for which I need to grocery shop, clean and cook. And Monday I'm going with a friend to Victoria (since she has the day off she was begging for me, the only other one in our group not overwhelmed with finals next week, to go with her). Right. Maybe I'll get them out on Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

My Secret Garden in Him

We have not had any more rain since that Saturday before our outdoor escapade in Stanley Park. Almost two weeks of gorgeous sunshine, and gradually warming temperatures. Yesterday, I even flaunted a fun skirt (a recent consignment shop find) and bare legs. But this morning I woke up to find a drizzle…and boy, was I excited! With a whole morning to spend indoors and half of The Secret Garden still to read for my class tonight, I couldn’t think of anything better than sitting by our rain-spotted window with a little fire for warmth and a hot cup of coffee and this delightful book. So, Cora went down for her nap at 10:00 and I poured my second cup of coffee (we make it half-caf so I allow myself two…wouldn’t want to wire the baby!) and got ready to curl up with my book. Now, I know that if I want to have quiet time alone with the Lord, especially on a Wednesday when I return late from class and am too tired to concentrate much and want to just chat and spend time with Dave, I must do it as soon as Cora goes down for her morning nap (if I try to get anything else done first, it never fails that she wakes up just as I sit down with my Bible. It’s simply a law that exists for all mothers.) But my book was calling to me. Really quickly before settling down, I checked my e-mail and Beth Moore’s blog. Now if there were anyone in this world with whom I could become close friends, I would choose Beth Moore. I love her rich insight into the Word, her intuitive and applicable teaching, her compassionate love for women, her makes-me-laugh-out-loud humor, and just her spunky, out-of-control wackiness. And this morning, she came through for me. She was so excited, so brimful of joy about some little thing the Lord had done for her, that I found myself getting so excited myself about Him!!! I put away the laptop and immediately grabbed up my Bible and worshipped this all-powerful, self-sacrificing, life-giving, sin-cleansing, attitude-adjusting, love-outpouring, love-inspiring Savior that I am so abundantly blessed to have daily access to! How could I want The Secret Garden over HIM???!!!

Now, it’s true that The Secret Garden, which I did have time to finish thanks to Cora's generous napping (and a prayer-answering God!), was also beautiful, enriching, and even attitude-adjusting as well. But that’s because it is an echo of the same themes that God’s Word is chock full of: the joys of other-centeredness, the Magic and Beauty that is present all around when you have eyes to see it, and belief in One who gives and sustains all of life.

It’s also true that I had that all too frequently used excuse that I just had too much to do to spend time in God’s Word—half a book to read, and my reading time limited to Cora’s naps. But Martin Luther’s “too busy not to pray” words keep coming back to me, a man who prayed two hours a day except on particularly busy days when he needed to pray three. Having my concentration focused solely on Him, asking for His guidance and blessing on my day, these are the things that will make my day blessed, and hopefully, a blessing. And that is my greatest desire…that every day be delightfully full of Magic.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Ministry of Mercy

David was published a couple weeks ago. Here's the link if you want to read his article in the Regent newsletter:, page 5 of 6.

In it, he mentions his recent prayers for God to reveal opportunities for ministry. We've both been praying for God's guidance in finding both a church home and an outside ministry where we might serve. Yesterday, through a series of unfortunate events--a true fiasco in which we ran in late to a new church (after leaving home in ample time) only to find we were actually an hour early (a Palm Sunday/Easter change in times)--we befriended a couple who it seems was in God's providence for us to meet. In sum, rather than attending an early service and having the rest of the day to relax as planned, David ended up going almost all day with the couple to help out at a service and lunch for the homeless (of which Vancouver has a large population). Cora and I remained at home to have our very important scheduled naps. He spent the day ministering to drug addicts, alcoholics, homeless.

Too much to tell in a short blog post, but just wanted to relate how faithful our God is in the details: it's amazing to look back and see how if one thing had gone differently yesterday...things that at the time merely frustrated us. Further, since we came here, He has been continually expanding our world and exploding our preconceived ideas about ministry and life. We are learning what it really means to follow Jesus, and finding our hearts transformed by the Spirit as He awakens new passions for urban missions, ministries of mercy, and social justice issues. It's only been 3 months now, but 3 months can cause some huge changes.