Finding joy in the sadness of loss

Long time no speak.

It has been over a week since I last blogged.  That is my longest blogging hiatus since I started blogging.  I must argue that I have a rather legitimate excuse.

Last week, my grandfather died.

Worst. Vacation.  Ever.

I contemplated whether or not I would write about it.  The experience leading up to it and all that good stuff.  I couldn’t last week.  I barely had time to bathe myself, let alone write a blog post.  Plus, my family is kind of private and not always big on talking about that kind of stuff.  I didn’t want people’s pity or sympathy.  But, today I finally have time to sit.  And think.  And I feel like it is something I want to share.  If nothing else, just for me.

This will probably be several days in a series of posts over the next week or so.  I had all kinds of thoughts and ideas of things to share…  The experience of being away when someone is terribly sick, the experience of caring for a loved one in hospital as someone who works in a hospital, grief, stupid things people say at funeral homes, life lessons brought to us by my grandfather… I can go on.  If I had time to write last week, it would have been deep.  Hopefully, I will get to some of those.  But, as it turns out, this week is pretty crummy including me having to submit my research manuscript for the post-grad research day and a physics exam later this week (*whines*), so it may be super interspersed with other randomness.  Sorry to drag it out.

But yes, my grandfather died.  And it sucks.

Not that I didn’t see it coming.  I have for as long as I remember.

He had bypass and valve replacement surgery when I was just a few months old.  He thought he would die.  Then, he was told that this stuff would only last for so long.  My entire life, I was reminded that he thought he wouldn’t make it to milestone x.  But, he did.  Consistenly.  Nonetheless, over 26 years later, he was still around.  Growing more and more frail.  But ever present.

If you want to know the truth, I expected he would drop dead doing something he wasn’t supposed to be doing.  I was wrong.  It was more of a slow congestive heart failure death.

I happened to be on vacation.  I got to be there.

It was the worst vacation ever, but for the best reason I could think of.  Had it not been for my vacation, I would have really missed out.  I am bitter because I am tired and have a ton of work for school to do and have a messy house and have to go back to work without a real break.  But, I am glad because I got so much time, even though it does not feel that way right now.

I think in some ways I wish he just dropped like I always expected.  Like he always expected.  Because nobody wants to see someone in a hospital bed feeling like crap.   But, then we wouldn’t have had the time we did.

It is bittersweet.  It still sucks.

I was not only an only child, but an only grandchild for almost 16 years.  That is most of my life.  I got to spend a lot of time with him.  Pretty awesome.  But, I think that makes it tough.  Especially when I see my little cousins who got so much less time.

The piece that is the worst for me, as a selfish grandkid is that he was my last grandparent who knew who I was.  Actually, I have Patrick’s grandfather.  So, I still have one, kind of.  And I have my “other grandparents” (like my “other” parents).   Everyone else has Alzheimer’s.  It is like that last bit of my childhood is gone.  My grandmothers barely know who they are, let alone who I am.  Not that it matters, but it does in my head.  At least I grew up with grandparents.  But, now it is kind of like they are all gone.  Some to death, one to bad parental choices  and two to the disease that ate their memory.

It isn’t like I think I don’t have grandmothers.  I do.  And they are still my grandmothers no matter how lost they become, at least to me.  But, it does make it different.  When we bring home great-grandchildren, they will love the babies and such, but it won’t be the same as someone knowing who they are and where they came from.  I lost that bit this week.

I felt guilty for not jumping on the reproduction bandwagon sooner.  It is silly, I know.  But this is the stuff that goes through your head.  Or at least mine.

I feel guilty about not being home more.  About not being home now while my parents try to take care of my grandmother and deal with all the other stuff that comes from losing a loved one.

I know this guilt is not of God.  I know that things will work out.  That we all do the best we can.  And that I can rejoice for all the good things.

Feeling sad about this stuff makes me feel bad about those who did not get to have grandparents.  Really, I am the luckiest girl in the world.  And I know it.  But, the more you have, the more you can lose.

I don’t think I expected to feel this sad.

I am cool with death.

I know he is with Jesus now.  And he is way better off health wise and stress wise up there.

But, I am sad for what I lost.  What my grandmother can’t remember she lost.  And what my parents lost.

The good thing is that death has been conquered.  I take great solace in that.  I will see him again one day.  We will play music and dance and laugh and it will be a great time.   So, I am joyful in my sadness (if that makes sense).

Feels Like Home To Me

Patrick and I had our first small group session with our new small group from our new church in our new city tonight.

I was a bit nervous going in because we were so attached to our old small group and I still miss them terribly, so it was strange thinking about going to a new group.  Plus, new people scare me a little.

It was actually a good time.  We ate butter chicken.  Any small group that feeds me with food-food before feeding me spiritually is always a win in my books.  They are good people.  I think we will fit in well.  I am glad.  I like having a community.

It is another step in calling this place home and really feeling like it actually is.

That and my parents finally visited us.  And it was a surprise last-minute visit.  And I drove here with them from home-home.  And the house was in a STATE.  That was embarrassing.  It is good they love me.  And apparently, love Jeter too (they even bought him a new feather on a stick and treats in my on-call absence).  The Child and I took them out for a lunch/coffee excursion when I was post-call before they left.  It was so nice to have them here.

Another step in calling this place home was the weekend before last.  We had visitors from home-home, a visitor from a few towns over (and a buddy from university) and our newly local friends all at our home at the same time.  I love hosting people and this was a perfect way to finally feel settled and enjoy a ton of good company.

We started the day off with a giant brunch.  I took a picture just like Patrick’s grandmother would before we all ate.  Jeter took my spot while I played photographer.IMG_0554

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We explored downtown over the afternoon, went out to supper and then had an evening of Wii.  Particularly, Mario Kart.IMG_0556 IMG_0557

The next day, we taught my lovely friend, L to skate… Or at least we tried.IMG_0565 IMG_0566

All of these visitors and new friends and such… They make it homey.  I am glad.  Although, I still enjoy a good visit home-home.  And I still want to go visit the Rock and those people again.

Headdress and Headship

I am not a feminist.

Wait a minute… I started my post yesterday with that statement too.

Clearly I like to repeat myself.

Or I have a gender-related topic yet again.

No, I am not perseverating.

Okay, maybe a little.

Yesterday in church, we were looking at the first half of 1 Corinthians 11.  This is the chunk of scripture, for those of you who may remember, where Paul goes off on a rant about women covering their heads.

Before you want to shoot Paul (PS… This is an impossibility, as Paul is dead) if you actually look at it, this is a passage about respect, gender roles and the relationship between men and women, Christ and men and God and Jesus.  Whoah… What!?!  It isn’t all anti-women?!?  And she is not about to go all women’s rights on you!?!  That’s right folks!

Yes, apparently all of this can be found in that little chunk-o-scripture.

The whole head covering issue was cultural.  Like we wear wedding rings, women in that culture covered their heads to show that they weren’t all down with getting around.  So, even though Christian women are liberated through Christ, it is still polite for them, in that culture to cover their heads.  And it is a sign of respect for their husbands.  And other men (who might otherwise be tempted by all the hair).

Some people take the passage literally.  That we should all cover our heads.  And that men shouldn’t have long hair (again, cultural).

Really, does it matter?

It isn’t a fundamental faith issue.  In fact, I will put a doilie on my head if it makes you happy.

But, the cool bits of this go beyond the whole scalp exposure issue and yet are still related to heads.

 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. -1 Corinthians 11:3

Yes, I get what this passage says.  I believe this wholeheartedly.

Like I said, I am not a feminist.

But before you start thinking that I think I beling in the kitchen held under my husband’s thumb… Realize that the same passage also says this:

A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.  For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.  It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.  Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 1 Corinthians 11: 7-12

Woman did come from man.  All you have to do is look at Genesis to see that.  Adam was first and then Eve.  God is intentional.  Also, every other man is born of a woman.  And thus we are all interdependent.  But man did come first.  That doesn’t make men better, but it does give them certain strengths, certain purposes.  The same goes for women, they have different strengths, different purposes.

So what?

So, I am not a feminist.

I think that women need equal rights.  But, I also think women need men.  Otherwise we would be wiped off the face of the planet in a generation.  I believe we have certain God-given gifts and that although we can fill many roles, there are some things men are better suited to do and some things women are better suited to do.

I don’t think women have to live under the command of any man except God.

But, I do believe that women should submit to their husbands.  Because that is how it has always been designed.  From the dawn of time, the man was put in charge of creation.

Over and over the Bible tells you that Christ is the head of men and men are the heads of their wives and God is the head of Christ.  That doesn’t mean that wives don’t answer to Christ.  But it means that they serve Christ by serving their husbands.  And that husbands are the first in line for answering for the behavior of their families and in leading their families.

Marriage is used over and over again for a model as Christ and His bride, the church.  Then, it only makes sense that the husband loves and protects and the wife loves and serves.

This is not a demeaning relationship.  It is one of mutual respect.

It works.  And it works better than some of this being independent crap.  We weren’t made to be alone.  I think people can do it and do it well, but that if we have someone, we should care for one another.

And thus, I don’t believe in this whole women can do anything alone thing.  Yes, they can.  But, really I don’t know if it is the best.

I know, I can’t really judge other people’s choices.

But, is it best for someone to be alone because they refuse to depend on another?  Is it best for a kid to have no Dad or no Mom figure because someone was too selfish to serve someone else in caring for them?

I think gender does not matter.  Except that we are designed to fill certain roles. And often instinctfully fill them  And why bother running from those roles?  Especially if when they are done well, they are so helpful and so good? And yes, sometimes we fill non-typical roles.  And there is nothing wrong with that either.  I am just saying sometimes there are obvious choice roles.  And some people flee them because they don’t fit or because they don’t want to fit.

People are sometimes surprised.  I am educated.  I am tough.  I am stubborn.  I am open minded (shocking, I know, as you read my very traditional rant).  But I truly believe this is important.  I want to submit to my husband.  And I think it is a Biblical and God-pleasing thing to do.  And in a good marriage, it works.

I won’t put a doily on my head, but I will submit to my husband.  Because I love him and I love God and it works.  I am happier when all of that works.  It is easy to do when he is following Christ and it all fits.

And yes, if I went somewhere that required head covering, I would do it.  Because I respect other people’s cultures.  I just don’t see it necessary for myself.

However, the relationship of husband to wife is non-optional to me.  If you are in a marriage, it should be one of mutual love and submission.  It isn’t just a culture issue.  It is a gender issue and a spiritual issue.  If you aren’t in a marriage, then it is something to consider before you are in one., even a nontraditional one.

So, yes, I submit to my husband.  But, I still make my own choices and I still follow God first.

In summary, I am not a feminist.  I am also not one who thinks men are superior.  I just think we are different.  And that is how we were made.  And that it is good and should be honoured.

Violence and Mourning – Hope and Joy

I have been avoiding writing about my feelings about the whole Sandy Hook school shooting thing.

It is everywhere and it is sad.  And honestly, I feel like I don’t have anything to say that is constructive  or unique.   And it is hard to address.

In fact, I was planning on not saying anything at all.  Because I almost feel like writing on it as such an outsider is belittling the situation because I can’t possibly understand it.

But, it keeps coming to mind, especially in light of the Christmas season.

All I can say is I feel so badly for the families involved, including those of the young man who pulled the trigger.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in the shoes of the survivors, the families of the deceased or even in that community.

As an outsider, a future parent and the spouse and friend of teachers, it breaks my heart and terrifies me.

Those could be my kids, my husband, my friends.

It also breaks my heart to see how the media can sensationalize a killer.  Someone who ended lives, with body counts, gruesome details and plastering their face all over the place.

This young man had issues.  But it is not fair to speculate his motivation, his mental health or his family life on the internet or television.

Think of his family and friends.  They mourn too. We need to love them like the others.

Now, we speculate how to stop these things from happening.  Some blame gun laws.  And yes, I am sure having guns so readily available is a problem (this coming from a sheltered Canadian), but if you want to find weapons badly enough, you can.  Having stricter laws does not prevent violence.  It prevents some accidents and the odd incident, but not big scale things with intent.

Others blame mental illness.  Not all mentally ill people are violent.  In fact, most are not.  And even those who think about it are generally not violent.  Yes, we need to treat mental illness appropriately and there is a big need for medications, counseling and a willingness to undergo treatment.  Some people don’t have good access to care or are resistant to it.  It is actually quite rare (or so a forensic psychiatrist once told me) for people to be so psychiatrically unwell so as to commit crimes of large proportions due only to their mental illness.

No matter whether or not guns or mental illness plays a role, a big part of this is that our society is violent.  We accept violence at baseline.  Single murders hardly make us flinch anymore.  We see it on the news every night.  We play video games that encourage killing.  We act as if it is normal.  Yes, people have control of themselves, but you have to wonder how much of it we promote with the media sensationalizing these “blaze of glory suicides” in which people kill themselves while killing others.  Sometimes, it is the only way a person may think they become known.

We are flawed.  We hurt one another.  We are attention seeking.  And we propagate that behavior.  I don’t know why people kill or how to stop it within human means.

Man is sinful.

It breaks my heart that things like this happen, especially so close to the holidays.

I am glad we have hope in this season.  Even for those who mourn, we know that those children are in heaven.  It doesn’t change the fact that we feel loss just that much more at this time of year, the season for family and friends to come together.

There is nothing wrong with mourning as a nation, as a global community.

But, we can’t become bitter.  We can’t be enslaved with fear or grief.  And it is not for us to judge.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. –John 10:10.

We need to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.  That the family members we miss are home.  That there is reason for joy even with the sadness.  And that Jesus came to Earth as a man, so that we can have freedom and joy!

I remember the joy of coming home to family and friends or having them come home to us.  This will be nothing compared to our heavenly homecoming.

That is why we have Christmas.  That is why despite tragedy of epic proportions, we can still be joyful and find hope.

Remember to pray for these people affected.  But not just them.  Those who live in constant fear, those who are missing loved ones who have been dead for a long or short time, those facing all kinds of uncertianity this season.

I feel joy because of the hope of Jesus.  I hope you do too.

Missions and the Dummy

This week is one of my favorite home weeks of the year that doesn’t technically constitute a special holiday.  It is Missions conference week.  Which means epic church supper (which we missed due to bachelorette party… Good thing the party was awesome) and then four days of awesome Bible teaching and guest missionaries coming to speak on God’s work in their ministries.

I am not actually someone who is in to missions.  I mean, I think they are important, but I have never had an overwhelming urge to do missions.  But, this conference is really cool.  And it made me decide many years ago that one day I want to do some sort of medical missions in the future.

I love having good teaching and I am a geek, so Bible teaching over many days is a big win.

But, it is the updates from the missionaries I find amazing.  To hear what is happening in other countries.  The crazy things God is doing.  The crazy things these people are doing.

This year, we had a man from India who helps run programs for children teens, widows and lepers.  It all started with two kids coming to his door begging one day.  His Mom convinced him that they could help tutor the kids.  And then he learned they often had no food all day, so he gave them some.  Then, he started telling them to bring friends. On it went.  Now, they help over 3000 children.  And started a bunch of other programs as spin offs.

Last night, the executive director from our local pregnancy resource centre came in to speak.  The city we are in has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Canada, so this is pretty big.  It is cool to see how the services they provide are going and the impact they have on both the women and men they serve.

Tonight is D, the staff worker for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in our area.  Given, I worked with him as the secretary/treasurer for years and have had a chance to support he and his wife in their ministry, I am pumped to hear what he has to say.

My favorite night, though was puppet night.  Okay, it was also the scariest night.

There are these two missionaries who have spent the better part of the last 28 years in the Philippines doing a variety of programs, namely a values program in the public school system and some vacation Bible school type stuff.  The whole notion of living in another place for that long blows my mind completely.  They speak the language, get the culture.  I think it is as much home there as it is here.  But, now they decided they have done enough there and are moving on to a small country in East Africa.

It amazes me how people can just give their lives like that.  I know it is a calling, but it still such a sacrifice and so very intense.

But, the most interesting part about these ladies is that one of them is a ventriloquist… Complete with a Filipino dummy.  Yes… A dummy.  With moving eyes and eyebrows and his own mini Bible.  He creeps me out a bit… He creeps the Child out a lot.  But, for some odd reasons, most kids love him… And so do many of the adults.

The dummy is very punny and they really play up that he travels in a suitcase.  They also cracked him out for Sunday school for the first time since they left the Philippines.  His head almost fell off.  It was disturbing, yet hilarious.

Their prayer cards have a picture of the two of them with the dummy (and even more freaky was that it was making eye contact with the camera, sort of).

I think it is interesting how they use their talents.  And that the talent is partly surrounding a very creepy dummy.  I guess it is proof that God can use anything, no matter how strange or eerie.

Missions conference is amazing.  Because we get to see what God is doing in the lives of millions.  And there are treats.  And Bible study.  And a dummy.  All in all it is a great couple of days.  And thus, I was ridiculously pumped to be home for it.

Reblog: Engaging Young Adults In Faith

As a young adult who happens to still go to church and such, I feel that being connected to a faith community offers the accountability, teaching and challenges that I need to really grapple with my faith. For me, personally, church is not an option, but a part of life because God is a part of my life.
Often, I am asked by people of all ages and backgrounds why I still choose to go to church in the midst of people leaving. I have watched friends leave, I have been in churches where I am one of the few under 50. Honestly, I don’t know. I have left the faith practices in which I was fundamentally raised. I am sure some of my relatives think I am bat crazy for attending an evangelical church and being so in to God. But, that made it real to me, it made Him real to me. Plus, I had a community of people who supported those choices.
People my age aren’t anti-God or anti-faith. But, they are cynical. We live in an evidence based society. Many have had a lot of hurt. They don’t trust the church as an organization.
Lynda MacGibbon, a lovely writer, wrote this post on young adults and the church. She works for the organization, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and was one of the staff that helped guide me and many of my friends through our undergraduate years by both challenging and encouraging us.
She concludes the piece by saying she hopes the Church can welcome and engage young adults, not for the sake of the church, but for the sake of the young adults. And that point rings true to me. We need to be concerned about those people out there, not just the numbers game at the church.
I think people need to admit there is an issue, as the paper she referenced does, in order to find a solution. Young adults are people too and they want to be engaged. Just maybe not in the same traditional Sunday Service ways.
Practical thoughts… As suggested in the post… Maybe invite them to a Bible study.  A good one with opportunity to ask questions.  Or just have an honest discussion.  Or invite people to low pressure events.  But seriously and most importantly, treat people like people, not matter what their past or their attitude.  Friendship goes a long way.

Lynda MacGibbon

Is Christianity becoming irrelevant to Canadian youth?

That’s a big question, and one that I have been interested in for a long time, particularly in the past 10 years, as I’ve worked for Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, an organization dedicated to helping young people think about faith.

If I were to answer the question, based on the conversations I’ve been privileged to have with hundreds of high school, college and university students, the best I could offer is that I wonder.

In my experience, young people are still quite interested in engaging in conversations about faith in God and whether it’s relevant to life on this earth. But are they interested in Christianity, spelled with a capital letter and attached to that other big C word, Church?

Not so much, according to the findings of a new report released this month in Canada called Hemorrhaging Faith: Why Canadian Young Adults are…

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Playing single

Since it is back to school season, Patrick is at our new home working and I am still at our home-home finishing up my last bit of Rad Onc before going off-service.  So, I am having  what is our millionth episode of intermittent long distance in the last year.

The whole thing is kind of a glimpse at what life is like if I were single.  I mean, sure I still talk to him every night and we text through the day and such, but during the week, I am spouse-less.

I wake up alone.  And cold.  Because I need a Patrick in bed with me to make sure I continue to maintain my body temperature.  I don’t loiter in bed as long because I have no one to cuddle with (I know, disgusting).  My getting ready for work routine is unchanged because Patrick is never conscious in the morning anyway).  Oh, except there is nobody to demand me to eat in the morning.  I have been eating.  But, Patrick reminds me to eat like Mrs. Claus on the old Claymation Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer movie.

Work is unchanging, of course.  Because work and spouse don’t go together.  Unless one has a work spouse.  I do not.

After work, I come home to an empty house.  I make supper for myself.  Although I get super excited to make things that Patrick normally wouldn’t eat (like white sauce and spicy food), I still miss him when I cook.  I have a problem with making enough food to feed a family.  And I love leftovers.  But, when I cook for myself alone, I wind up with enough for days sometimes.  And one can only eat so much chickpea curry before it gets tiresome.

He isn’t around to cart me places.  Or tell stories to at random.  Or watch TV with.  I can’t randomly break out in song (well, I can, but it isn’t as entertaining as when there is someone to cause and/or encourage the randomness).

And, at night, there is nobody to tuck me in.  Or log roll me when I roll to the wrong side of the bed (wait… I don’t mind that part so much).

All in all, it is lonely.  Even though I am enjoying my alone time and my food and having reign over the bed.

I don’t miss being single.  I never really have.  I do miss having a cleaner house (boys are messy).  And sometimes I miss only having one family to visit (but then again, I would never have gained a whole other family).  But, there is something about sharing a life with someone that is truly advantageous.

I was never really the sort that wanted to get married and such.  I was fine with whatever happened.  But, now I can’t go back.

Image via thepoke.co.uk.

A few weeks ago, we were driving in the car and I was serenading Patrick with Adele (in a rather sarcastic fashion).  He was laughing (because nobody sounds pretty when they try to sing Adele).  I asked him what would he do without me.  He wasn’t sure.

When you start to spend what you think is the rest of your life with a person, it becomes routine to be together.  I feel like we are already broaching some old married couple tendencies and we have only been married for a few years.  Despite our having to be apart for work and such fairly frequently, it still feels strange to be apart.  Although, at the same time, we are veritable pros at it by this point.

Working in the Oncology department, you see a lot of people who are pretty alone in this life going through pretty difficult things.  Some of them had someone.  Or they have never really been close to anyone.  Or their people are far away.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to deal with difficult treatments, scary news and all sorts of things alone.

There are others with excellent supports.  Family, spouses, friends who would give anything to care for their loved ones.  People that have been together and supporting one another for years.  People with supports often do better.

The thing is, if something happens, and the person dies… Those supports, the ones who care and want to do everything are left alone.  Not completely alone.  They still have the others in their lives.  But, they have a new void.  That piece of their life that is gone.

It makes me grateful for what I have.  I may be without my spouse for a few days or weeks at a time.  But, it is nothing compared to not seeing one another again in our earthly lives.  I feel sad when I am waiting for one of us to have to leave again in the imminent future.  I can’t imagine being the wife of the man with metastatic lung cancer, I am sure the fear and anticipation is even stronger, but so is the enjoyment of the small victories and little moments.

We are built for relationships.  God made us that way.  Look at Genesis…God made Adam and then Eve… Partners.  He made Marriage.  So, I guess it makes sense that a spousal relationship is so important.  God made us to depend on one another and to love one another.  It helps us to get through all kinds of things.  Even if we are in different places from time to time.

The beauty part is that even when we are physically alone, our spouses are still there for us.  And even when we are seemingly completely alone… God is still there for us.

Ice Cream Social

What better way to spend a Sunday evening than an Ice Cream Social?   Definitely not ironing tulle (though I wound up doing that too).

For some reason, the term Ice Cream Social makes me think 90 year old grandma, and yet, sheer awesomeness.

Why?

Because ice cream makes everything better.  Including any event ending with the term social.

Our church has these events called “Across the Aisles” in which they try to encourage people in the congregation to get to know one another in a non church service sort of setting.  They are generally put on once a month and run by the lovely CMF who loves a good social event more than the average bear.   Although I have never been in town to experience an “Across the Aisles” event… Or I have avoided the one or two I have been around for, I am aware that these often have a structured social activity that is accompanied by some obvious awkwardness.

This session was no exception.  Though thrilled by the prospect of ice cream, the entire fellowship hall had chairs set up in rows facing one another in a veritable speed dating style.  And it was indeed like speed dating.  One row moved every few minutes when the piano played.  People didn’t grasp that concept.  The Child and I had to keep moving our row along.

The orders from CMF (following a charming and cheesy devotional she acquired from a rather aged looking book and an awkward singing of “What a Friend We Have In Jesus” in which half the people did not know the words and were facing eachother) were that we were to introduce ourselves and then tell one another something interesting about ourselves.

Speed dating set up. As one of the guys I got to meet said, “This is awkward, everyone I met so far is married or a dude.”

My first partner was Patrick.  That was easy enough.  I then moved on to a few people that I know of and say hi to but don’t really know.  It was awkward.  I will be honest.  But I did learn things about people I didn’t previously know.

After about 5 cycles of meeting people, we were allowed to start in on the ice cream… WIN!

Ice cream buffet… With pop and dulse (how maritime-y).

The beauty of the ice cream social is the ice cream (not so much the speed dating, though the social with people you converse with normally or at least more naturally is not so bad).  It was a make-your-own-sundae bar complete with farm animal sprinkles.

The Child’s sundae.

I opted for cows.  The Child and Patrick went with the ducks.  It was pretty thrilling.

I was pretty excited about my sundae! The Child and I may or may not have dodged people like we were children to get the first sundaes.

We were allowed to enjoy our ice cream with the company of our choice.  That was awesome.  As much as I like getting to know new people and care about the people in my church community, there is a comfort in being in my own age bracket and/or with those of similar interests.  I believe in being inclusive, but not awkward in a speed dating fashion.

Food and people.  A combination that should always happen.  It is good to meet some random people, even in a somewhat strange setting.  At least then, you know who they are and they know who you are.  It makes things more personal.  Makes for better community, even if you aren’t best of friends.

Ice cream made the night.  The tulle that followed not so much, though we did have fun trying to choose wedding music simultaneously whilst consuming large volumes of iced coffee (this almost cancelled the tulle out… but not quite).

In touch

I suck at keeping in touch with people.

Seriously.  Suck is actually an appropriate word.

I love people.  I like working with them and knowing them, but I am not the mindful sort.

I don’t send greetings with pleasantries.  I forget birthdays and most other significant days.  I don’t have the time or the get up and go to send Christmas cards to everyone I know.

I care.  And when I see those people again, I am happy to see them.  I love getting updates.

The few people I keep in touch with from when I first moved away include my Nuc Med class (whoo Team Nuc Med) and the ladies I worked with at the Hospice.  And, of course my church people when I come home and the best friends I have had since forever.  There are more people I could keep in touch with, but those are the ones I manage to stay in touch with the most.

Now, I have moved again and the list of people I should be keeping in touch with has grown.  Eeep!

However, somehow, I have managed thus far to stay in touch (at least sort of) with most of the people I should from that crew of people.

I have been texting with a few school friends to get updates on the adventures of settling into new cities.  I got semi-play-by-play updates on one first ICU call rotation.

Yesterday, I got some awesome news… I found out that one of my friends from small group finally got her permanent residency in Canada.  This is something she has been working on and waiting on for over a year.  So, this is truly an answer to prayer.

The cool thing is that despite living in a different place, I still feel connected.

I still can’t wait to go back and visit that group of friends.

Today, I also made steps towards getting in touch with some people I usually see while I am home that I have not yet seen.  I am excited to get to spend some time catching up.  It always feels good to have some quality time with lovely people who you don’t get to see on a regular basis.

Hey, Old Friend…

Old friends are beautiful things.

The sorts of people you see after being apart for months and you just pick right up like nothing changed.  You tell stories and laugh and joke and tease senselessly and it still feels normal and natural.  Even when a lot of other things have started to feel less routine and normal.

Yesterday, one of my best friends came home from teaching in northern BC for the year.  BC is far away.  Especially when we were living on the Rock.  And I missed her.  Even though she visited and called.  And it is pretty huge that I admit that I miss her.

So, the Child and her spouse-to-be and L and her spouse-to-be and Patrick and I went on a field trip downtown to the boardwalk.  We ate food.  Teased L&C (C being future spouse, not the Child) about their public displays of affection and had a great time.   There were fireworks and music.

I stole this freshly off Facebook from the Child… Our resident photographer/photo editor. Please don’t hate.

Things have changed.  We have changed, but for whatever reason, the friendship still works.  And seems to work well.  Even if we all can drive each other crazy sometimes.

God has blessed me with the kind of friends I should have always wanted, but didn’t.  Well, I did, but not in the people I wound up with… This sounds heartless.  But, seriously, when I started hanging out with all three of my closest home friends, I didn’t want to.

V got my phone number in the 6thgrade on the first day of school after she insisted she knew me from somewhere (turn out our Dads worked together).  She then called and talked to me every day.  Even when I thought it was weird.  And may have tried to make excuses to not talk.  Eventually, we became good friends.

V, L and I at our high school prom. We were cool and stayed the whole time. And then had a sleep over… Just the three of us at a hotel. Wild, we were.

 

V is the sort of person who befriends most people.  So, she promised L who I knew from bumping into occasionally in middle school that we would meet her on the first day of high school in grade 9.  I thought this was foolish.  How would we find her.  And did we really want to?  But, V insisted and we tracked her down.  And we all wound up in the same class.  And I though L was odd because she was so outwardly freaked out about starting high school.  I mean, I was too, but why show it.  Then, I got to know L.  And her family.  And she helped make sure I didn’t die in the elevator when my asthma flared.  And the beauty is that she really does wear her heart on her sleeve and that is different from me, but that is okay.

So, because of V and L and their families, I somehow began getting roped into doing music stuff at their church.  And because of their love and their patience and a lot of God stuff, I started going to church with them.

That is where I met the Child.  V taught Sunday school, but L and I were in a Young Adults class.  Then, the Child started coming to church.  She was 15 and there were no other kids her age in Sunday School.  So, she joined our class.  Fine, whatever.  One Sunday, we ended up being the only two people in the class.  No teacher.  Just us.  We spoke about three words to each other.  We don’t shut up now.  Over the next few months, L and I helped with youth group, Child joined the worship team and we sort of adopted her as a little sister.  And thus, we called her the Child.  And V, L and I took her everywhere with us.

We went to the Child’s musicals. Like good fake big sisters.

Somehow, I accidently ended up with three wonderful friends (there are many others, but they are the core three).  That I remain close to despite moving an ocean away (and that I made V&L wear lawn green in my wedding).  Because that is how cool friendship is.  It transcends distance and time changes and weird dress colors and awkward medical questions.

My wedding. Lawn green dresses. The Child was honorary flower girl and the photographer. She stepped out from behind the camera for a few pictures.

God gives us some pretty awesome examples of friendship in the Bible.  Jesus and the disciples were quite a gang.  Also Daniel and his buddies Hananiah, Mischael and Azariah were pals that endured a lot of stuff, especially for their young age.

We are built for relationship, so it is not surprising that God created friendship.  The support of others is a necessary part of our growth as individuals and in turn larger groups and movements.  I think God uses friendships to encourage and reprimand, to teach and develop and really, to further His will.  And that fascinates me.  I love that it is intentional, even if we don’t see it as intentional.  It is comforting.

Like our relationship with God, our friends are always there.  Not as fail proof as God, but a good, more tangible example of what our relationship with God can be.  Like our relationship with God, friendship still takes work and effort on our part.  We need to spend time with our friends.  We need to love them and appreciate them and support them.  Sometimes, this is easier than others.  Sometimes, you don’t understand the friends and they hurt you.  And sometimes, you have to love them through that phase.  Because God loves them through that phase too.

And that brings to an end my sappy friendship rant.

Wait… I lied… One last story.  Friends are the sort of people who laugh hysterically when you break the zipper of your bridesmaid dress during photographs at your wedding, but promptly ensure you don’t flash the world (please note, it was like -10 out).  They are also the people who lend a sweater and giggle in the bathroom while your mother sews you into your dress.  They serve you your food from a self-serve buffet, so you don’t accidently throw food on yourself or someone else.   They are the same people who put the piece of the wedding dress you broke dancing down your dress for you to hopefully reattach after the wedding.  And yes, they are the people who fix your hair when the hairdresser screws if up.  Because that is why you keep them around.