Friday, January 30, 2009

Lunch and homework

I practically live online now days. As a librarian and as a blogger. The library course I am taking is really helping me understand more, I am glad about this.

Just felt like mentioning, before I brave the snow to go to the Univeristy Library to do work for my class.

I am still so glad that the bus strike is over; as far as I know, most of my blog readership is outside of Ottawa, so you may not realize how hard this was for us here.

People lost jobs. People lost their businesses. I saw elderly people with canes walking in the snow. Many people I work with had to begin their workday at 6 or 7 AM or they would not get a parking spot (they normally take the bus and car traffic went up 20% which sounds like a small number, but it made a HUGE difference).

There are so many stories of suffering because of this bus strike that happened in the middle of various snow storms. It is hard for us as a city to forgive the city government and the buses/union for buses for belabouring this strike to over 50 days.

Of course we must forgive and I know, as a Christian, I must pray for my city.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Hope for Ottawa

The bus strike has ended!!!!!!!

As someone at work commented - the real reason it will end soon is because Obama is coming to Ottawa on February 19.

It would of looked really bad if the city could not even end a bus strike. And imagine the traffic jams.

(FYI for those who may not know, Ottawa is the capital of Canada).

I talked to a really good friend tonight. My heart feels a lot lighter now. I have to be disciplined and do homework tomorrow.

Question I am thinking about:

I walk to work and the winter coat that I bought last year (first one I ever bought) is not long, as in down-to-the-knees-long and at times I have been so cold** when I walk to work (or church).

Should I try to find a new one on sale or should I tough it out?

Any thoughts?

**or I should say my legs have been cold; the rest of me is usually fairly warm as I have a good shorter winter coat, wear gloves under my mittens and two scarves. It gets cold here, so that minus 11 degrees Celsius feels warm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

is it just me, or...

I am tired tonight. Yet I find myself resisting going to bed early. What do I think I am missing by leaving my quiet living room with my cat to pray and sleep? (Why must I finish my dishes, or why must I read just a few more pages in a book?)

Does anyone else do this, I wonder?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

God's love

Lots of people, understandably, like Fr. Stephen Freeman's blog. I am one of them. In case you do not normally read him, may I recommend his new post Loving an Angry God.

Fr. Stephen places a lot of importance on understanding the love of God. This is an area I have a lot to learn more about.

I have known for years that if I can learn to live in the reality of God's love, I would live a radically different life.

I pray that I am learning and will learn this. I am young and inward growth takes a lot of time. Thank God then for the gift of now, the time we have.

Monday, January 26, 2009

How I do homework

A little at a time. Today I am finishing up my first assignment - really not too bad - just three questions, two pages worth of writing. I do have to learn how to be a librarian in the corporate field.

My work is going better, but I think we are going to have a very significant library project to do in about two weeks. I may be working the whole weekend, save when I am in Church. It is a one time only project, and that is how it is. But I am trying not to worry about it.

It was funny - I got the Protestant sweet Sunday school song in my head when I was walking back home after lunch (yes, I get to walk home for lunch!) this is the day that the Lord has made, we must rejoice and be glad in it. And it was exactly what I needed to do!

Anyway. I really do have to finish up the assignment so I can email it in to the prof. today.

First though - isn't this one of the cutest new pictures of Cleo my cat???

She loves sitting on my new dining room chairs. I notice that she sits esp. on the two I sit in the most - one for eating, and the other side of the table for blogging (or, um, I mean doing homework).

And here she is, surprising me by looking over the back of the chair ...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's all going to be alright

As I was standing in church for vespers tonight, I felt relieved. Yes, my life is not what I thought it would be. Yes, my ideals have been challenged, shattered and changed. Yes, life is hard.

I remembered how when I was even younger, I had a full list of what I thought I would do for the next ten years.

THANK GOD that nothing on that list happened. My ideas and ideals for my life, as someone very young in the faith, do not often match what God has for me.

I can say that how things have worked are better than what I would of planned.

So I am left not, as I would of thought years ago, if my ideals were shattered and I became increasingly aware of the fact, with wreckage. Or not a wreckage that is irredeemable!

The Church gives the foundation for how to live; my local church and the monastery I visit also give direction.

I have to seek to do as I was taught and see what my life is now, for what it is, instead of what I thought it would be.

I feel in ways like a young child, exploring a new place for the first time.

This is my life now; may God show me how, and give me the willingness, to live it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

More on where we find ourselves

Yesterday I wrote on how we cannot escape damaging our world, based on an essay by Sherrard. Also touched on was how my ideals were wrong and/or have been changed. I wrote on the brokenness that I see in myself and in the world.

Today I want to explore where I went wrong (from what I can see anyway). Years ago when I was reading books such as M Beattie’s Co-dependant no more and the popular for a year or so Simple Abundance (I still own both books and do not disrespect the authors). However, one, Beattie’s books are honest and I feel that Simple Abundance was not. One author had gone through hell and the other author (of Simple Abundance) was denying her personal hell, though they were hinted at in her book and totally opened in her second book. I hurt for her, when I read in her second book how her marriage dissolved, how she totally remade herself again and for the pain I felt radiating from this second book. Somewhere, between reading these books and my own ideas intertwining with these books (I still believe in some independence of thought and that we are not mere constructs thinking imbibed only from current culture), I came up with an image of who I wanted to be.

Now I see how immature my ideas were, dear and young as they are. Not that I am now mature and know it all, rather the opposite. At a mere 32 years of age, I can say less and less about final things, save that I have found a Church that has withstood time, a lot of nonsense, evil and still can be found to give healing.

My current conclusions:

We cannot merely remake our worlds on an aesthetic, material and physical level and think we are okay. If you have been reading my blog, you know how excited I am about my new furniture. If you know me well in person, you know I dress professionally for work, that I wear long skirts with pants (grin) to church in the winter and, when in church, cover my head. If you have been to my house (or read my blog) you know I have a lot of icons, a few prayer books and other Orthodox books. I have made decisions on how I interact with my world, just as you have made decisions on how you present yourself in your world.

We can have a perfectly intact house, be up on popular culture, wear the latest clothes, have the right things, religious or semi-religious (some would consider the organic life, the Moosewood cookbook, and lulu lemon to be nearing this if they were honest) and be totally broken inwardly. We can even be so broken that we do not know we are broken. We can be in church and not pray; we can burn incense at homes by icons and be totally self-absorbed. (Being in church, praying at home with Icons and reading Orthodox books can help us participate in our salvation. This is however not the issue I am dealing with in this essay).

Redecorating our house, learning yoga or pilates, and eating well can help us. Being aware of our body and breathing can help us (might I mention that yoga that includes Hindu prayers I find to be spiritually dangerous). Exercise, eating well and being balanced in our care for our bodies and emotions are good. Living in a beautiful orderly house can give the feeling or impression of inward sanity.

But if this is all we have, we are fooling ourselves. This is where I went wrong.

Somehow I fell for a lie that if we had our lives looking a certain way, with certain things I could really have it made. No. We cannot save ourselves. We can, for a time, maintain a certain image of who we are (until physical aliments, or senility strike) but we cannot save ourselves. We cannot even become content or happy without help (or at least I cannot). A job and money, so I have learned in my post-student days, cannot take away an inward anxiety that comes from deeper causes.

This is the realization I am currently at. I, and others, are broken; we are in need of great healing. I have also realized that I cannot use my life as example to help others (God can use broken beings including me but I am talking about myself here, not God’s ability).

So where am I left?

For now: two things – one more questions about how I should live my life.

Two – hope in God. A God who, as Fr. Schmemann writes in his book, Great Lent¸ gave us Pasca. With the understanding that Christ’s resurrection changed everything. With the prayer that we will gain inward healing, with a prayer for God’s mercy for the world.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Questions of self, meaning, and how God saves us where we are

I have been mulling over something for a few weeks; in some ways this has been on my mind for months.

I am in my early thirties now; when I was in my earlier twenties I had many ideals. I would be creative, I would become an English professor, I would have something meaningful to say to others, I would be able to point to the Salvation of the World. Frankly that is what most people want, is it not? To have a meaningful life, to explain that life, to have others wish to emulate that life; that seems to be the point of many blogs or one of the points. To have a life worth living seems to mean to many to have a life worth copying.

Let me try to explain what I mean; or at least show you. How to show you though? Well perhaps it comes from family pressure to always be a ‘witness’ that is common enough in Protestant circles; and if Christ is who He is and I believe He is, then Christ is worth pointing others toward.

It could be that I had things turned around or that I currently have things turned around or both and later I (with divine intervention) will get them straitened.

Here is where I am going towards – ideals and how one thought the world would work. I think I was simply wrong. Years ago I read a lot of books, tried to really work on inward growth. And somehow I have grown, at least in some ways. Though this past year has been such a challenge, I feel like many of the areas of growth I thought I had “covered” were unearthed, kicked around and open to the glaring sun of unfinished work, unfinished self and various inward confusions. Regardless of what may be happening now, I used to dream of having things “together”, becoming self-confident, self-assured, able to take on the world and be on top of things.

Now I wonder instead if that ideal was not at all what I was supposed to be going towards. Professionally it seems that this must be the ideal; I have a long way to go here. But personally and inwardly it seems that this ideal must be shed. But I am not sure now or what is to take its place.

Here is an example of what I am seeking to explain – in the fall a lady I know, a priest I respect and I read through an article by Philip Sherrard. We read it over the course of two or three weeks and discussed it. The article, from what I remember, explained how centuries ago it was possible to flee the world and not be part of the world’s destruction. His article went on to discuss how this was no longer possible. We are now too ensnared and entangled to not participate in the destruction of the world. Environmentally it is impossible – we fly in planes, ride in cars and buses, use computers, use electricity. No matter how hard one may try to reduce one’s “carbon footprint”, etc. we cannot fully do it. We may try to flee the world, shouting that we are against big business. But without big business the computer you are reading this on and the one I am using would not be here.

Sherrard’s only answer to this was the liturgy; that the only life-giving moment that can change anything is Christ’s Eucharist.

And Sherrard acknowledged that even the celebration of Communion is often tainted now, even within the Orthodox Church. His article was not easy reading.

It seems like the only answer though. Christ’s blood shed and partaken by us, who often are more dead than alive or mere shells of what we were made to be.

For the rest of it, I am not sure what to think. A lot of it was faulty advertising that I fell for. Not that I do not have thousands and thousands of things to be thankful for; I have a job, housing, nice things, a family and options. Perhaps I should read more Walker Percy; his novels articulate the realization of human’s brokenness and a sense that there should be or is more to life than what we often have.

Sometimes we just have to wait, hope and stand silent, asking the God who we have seen, touched and heard to have mercy on us.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sinus

One of my favourite mystery writers is Anne George; I read a lot of mysteries. She introduced me to the state of Alabama and some of the local cultural feel of the South.

I am sorry she only wrote 7 mystery books before she passed away. One of her books her character gets what, according to this book, is called The Sinus. Well, I believe I have it now, much to my dismay. The "wake up with a swollen sore throat, my teeth hurt and I cannot look at direct light too long" Sinus.

A good friend brought me soup, grapefruit and cookies. I am grateful.

I think I am going to go find one of my Anne George books now...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cozy Cat and Dishes

When I am talking to my friends about my new apartment the themes are: books and dishes!

First a picture of my Cat and her first Cat Nap on my new sofa bed:

And my pretty dishes - the tray and tea pot, sugar & creamer my Grandma and I found last year when we went antiquing. Don't they look darling on my buffet? It is exactly what I was looking for - a darker colour with a 'old world country' look. The Royal Albert tea cup was from my dear roommate in my undergraduate days and her parents. Next to it is a humble little cup my Grandmother and I found on our first antiquing venture, for my 25th birthday 7 years ago.

The blue dishes are ones I found with my Mother (If I remember correctly) down the street from my parents house! All of them were selling for 5 dollars. They are beautiful, vibrant and I wish I could get a complete set!! They are an ironstone from Japan.

Lastly, a lovely small teaspoon holder, from Holland. It is real Delft; my Mother gave this to me for Christmas this year. A perfect gift; she found it at an estate sale! I love gifts like these the best. To add to the gift, she gave me teaspoons to go in it from her collection. A lot of these spoons her Mother, my Oma, gave to her years ago. And so it is passed now to me. Once I get more settled, I think I will put some of these spoons in another place, so it is not as crowded.

I will have to have another post sometime to show you my Grandmother's set of dishes that she gave me years ago! I had them stored carefully in boxes under my bed in my parent's house for at least ten years before I had a place for them. As a student I knew I could not afford to move the dishes and I was too transient. It is a dream come true to have a one bedroom apartment with space for a buffet with glass doors for my dishes!
I thank God for His goodness shown in this. I do not deserve such kind thoughtfulness more than anyone else (I wish everyone could have pretty things). So, I am thankful.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lots going on, not a lot of time

Insomnia - continues - doctor gave me medicine. It may be helping. I am still dizzy at times. Specialist appointment in March.

This post I recommend - examining how America's history and Protestant heritage are effecting each other. Gave me a lot to think about.

My buffet is almost complete - all but the front handles which need a longer screw. It is beautiful. I am incredibly happy with it (and hope to find screws to put the final touches on the two doors).

Work is a challenge. Prayer and not worrying needed.

God is blessing me with friends who are encouraging to me. Often I prove that I do not deserve such great friends, and I am so thankful for them.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Furniture is coming my way

My furniture is coming!!!!

Let's hope it is all in one piece and all able to be assembled. Last year I got a tall bookshelf from IKEA that had the wrong shelf on top... It took half a year to get it fixed!

So what am I getting? Well... since you asked ;)

In Antique stain:

-buffet with glass doors
-coffee table with cool shelves in middle
-matching tall bookshelf (the same as mentioned above)
-round, with 1 leaf extension, dining room table (sits 4 or 6)

With cute full chair skirt almost to the floor:
-4 cute dining room chairs that are comfortable (good chairs are hard to find)

And one...

Ivory leather sofa bed (was just a little bit more than a cloth sofa bed and my Cat Cleo SHEDS)

I had intentionally saved almost all of my last year's tax return (educational credits all used up!) because I knew I wanted to move apartments. As I did not have a living room, I knew I would have a bit to store up for.

And now that time is here. It is a bit sudden, but exciting.

Finally I will DV have a bed and the space to have family and friends sleep over!


On another note....I am still working at trying not to worry. I received some encouraging emails today that reminded me that I am loved. Sometimes, life is a bit of a struggle. And I know that starting a new job, moving and setting up house are all really big things. Lots of things going on with my job, a new online class and house stuff. But God is good and I am trying to pace myself, eat well and breathe a lot. I am still struggling with almost daily-nightly insomnia and some dizziness. More doctors appointments are in the works about these things.

Sending my love to all I know through the blog world!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Letting Go

My Mother, as all good Mothers can do, zeroed in on my problem.

Elizabeth, you just need to let it go. Let the worry go. Trust God.

She is right.

I am learning what it means to be worried sick and I need to stop. I still get worried about my work, about loved ones, about anything chicken little would worry about.

So, I am going to try to be still more, inside. Breathe. Pray and practice living in the presence of God.

Life is hard. I would love to hear about other's struggles with worry and what they learned to do to learn to be at peace.

May God help us all!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My Time in Brampton Ontario

The first part of my Christmas holidays was with my Oma celebrating her 100th birthday. My parents, sister and brother-in-law, two of my Aunts and myself stayed a few days in Brampton. Most of us stayed right in my Oma's retirement complex, which is full of many Dutch Christians. For Christmas the "Glory to God in the Highest" hymn is sung mostly in Dutch at the end of the Christmas service (they are lovely Protestants).

The retirement complex is very nice and we took various walks in the halls. Here are some pictures of nice sitting areas that are scattered throughout:

This one is one (above) is one of my favourites, as it has so much light and space.

This is a very typical site - the Today devotional book is read daily by many Dutch CRC (Christian Reformed Church) Christians. My Oma and Opa always read the Bible and a devotional piece with a prayer after every meal - breakfast, lunch and diner. Their faithfulness is lovely to see.

Here is a smaller sitting area - I love the rug! The Today book pictured above is from this little nook. I am always impressed by this complex - always clean, orderly. One of the cleaning woman was praying and singing hymns under her breath. It is a special place.

I got a kick out of the elevators, which had the emergency instructions in English and in Dutch. Here is the Dutch instructions:

It is a comfortable clean world for me to visit. I was inspired by the cleanliness of my Oma's apartment - there is no clutter anywhere. I have a lot to learn from her! My goal is to have a more orderly, clean and clutter free apartment... once my furniture is in and assembled.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of where my Oma lives! I am blessed to have her in my life. She always counsels me about reading my Bible, getting along with others, and family. She has good practical wisdom and I am thankful for her. My Mother once commented that my Oma has seen a lot of changes in her life, but that she never changed. I hope someday someone can say this about me - that I was steadfast and unwavering - especially in my hope in God. May the Lord so grant His mercy to all of us!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Christmas Reflections

I started my online course today! And in true student fashion, I now get to procrastinate. So far I have written a New Years letter (did not send one of family and friends in a few years) and am now here, writing this blog post.

I think the online course will be good though and I am going to work on it more tonight, to get a head start.

Meanwhile, here is a picture I took at the monastery:

I have a lot of memories from my time there over New Years.
I have to finish up some projects before I will write more on this.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Christ is Born!

May He be born in us.

Nativity Liturgy was beautiful. Very good friends of mine were there. Went to a festive meal afterwards, it was nice.

Cleo woke me up three times last night (when I leave for more than a few days, she tends to wake me up for the first couple of nights). I am very tired.

IKEA has more of my money now. Furniture boxes are in my apartment - coffee table and buffet. The assembly will be done later.

My long-lost suitcase is still at the airport. Have not received a call for the delivery as of yet. At least I know where it is. Praying that I will have it before the weekend.

Tomorrow I go back to work. This will be a transition! I have not been there for two weeks. I will have a lot of work waiting for me. I know I need to not worry and trust God to get me through. Friday I start my online course (job training).

The new icons (that were in the suitcase that did make it) are up on my prayer wall and the beauty, space and order comfort me.

May God comfort us all.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

That was one of the quickest answer to prayer yet!

Air Canada called. They have my bag. Delivery is a little behind but they have it. May it get here safely! Would of be nice to have it today so I can bring gifts to people. It was hard to choose who to give things to (i.e. money limits etc) so I am rotating who I give gifts to from the monastery...

Okay. Now for lunch...

In Ottawa with Cleo

I am back home. One of my suitcases (with gifts for others and gifts from others and a new lampada for my living room) has not made it yet. I hope and pray that I will get this suitcase back. It has a lot of special things that I cannot replace (blanket from my Oma, small miniature tea set my Mom found, a beautiful mounted icon from the monastery). The website says it is still be traced. I flew in a 15 seater plane and we heard the baggage people complain about the bags not fitting. I saw them put one of mine on and ever saw them put the other one on.

So I wait and seek to not worry and be content. A lesson on not being attached to my things!

Tomorrow is old calendar Christmas. Every year is different. This year I do not feel anything other than a rushed bewilderment of going between two different calendars. (I celebrated feasts past Christmas at the monastery already).

I am going to buy furniture soon for my apartment.

I had very little time to go online when I was home. This is good actually. Anyway. I caught up on my blog feed reading, which I enjoyed.

Praying that every one's first week of 2009 is going well.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Traveling tomorrow

After three nights at the monastery, I am home with family. The time at the monastery was very good and I already miss the prayers, sense of rhythm, the protection and beauty. Thank God that His mercy is with us at all times.

Tomorrow night I fly back to Ottawa. I am dreading the travel (the time it takes and that I will get back after 11 pm DV if all goes well). Please pray for me.

Wishing everyone a 2009 full of God's blessings and mercy.