Year in Review

So much for my aspirations of blogging regularly whilst in school! It turns out that when you have a paper due every week (plus a final paper, plus a final exam) and would still like to see your husband occasionally and have other commitments and aren’t as young as you used to be, there’s often not enough left in the tank for the “extras” you were hoping to accomplish! (To wit: never did use that Bento Box of Preparedness this term… oops!)

I know for many people 2016 was a rough year, but for me it turned out to be amazing! Last October, I was feeling a little sensitive about my age and life stage, in the sunset of my 20s and feeling a bit like a failure. But I decided I would do my very best to make 29 a year well-lived, and by God’s grace I can look back and see how He enabled me to grow so much and provided above and beyond what I could ask or imagine! So, this short recap is my tribute to His faithfulness in my life in 2016. Soli deo Gloria – all glory to God!

Highlights of 2016

  • Monthly dinners with friends who are really family
  • RCCF Winter Retreat
  • Discovering a local florist with amazing deals on spring bulbs, and buying an embarrassing number of mini daffodils
  • Enjoying Afternoon Tea dates with people I love
  • Participating in an international book exchange with strangers from around the world
  • Purchasing a green wing chair for our living room, in memory of my late grandparents whose beautiful home was filled with the comfiest armchairs
  • Cramming 16 people into our apartment for a last-minute fellowship program
  • Hosting RCCF committee meetings & the footwashing ceremony when the old committee passed the baton to the new committee
  • Finishing the study of Revelation with my BSF class
  • Celebrating our anniversary with a delicious trip to Nadege & mini photo shoot in the park
  • Reminiscing about undergrad, growing in my faith, & meeting tons of new students at AFC’s Campus Challenge conference (held at my alma mater)
  • Making excellent use of our outdoor pool & logging more swim hours than in any other year
  • Hosting & feeding students… whether they were invited or just showed up at the door & brought the whole squad along to mooch dinner leftovers
  • Organizing a bridal shower for a dear friend, and then playing the piano at her wedding
  • Marking an entire decade of life together (10 years since our first date!)
  • Participating in an inter-generational women’s small group over the summer
  • Hosting an Afternoon Tea Party for the ladies of my former church
  • Enjoying a FANTASTIC month off in July
  • Taking a ridiculous number of sky/sunset photos because God’s artistry just never gets old
  • Grilling on the patio with summertime guests
  • Making a homemade Korean Feast with foodie friends
  • Recharging with solo couch time & Netflix
  • Starting my first bullet journal and falling in love with the process
  • Going back to school (online courses from CCEF)
  • Marveling at the gracious way God pursues us in love
  • Deciding to pursue a Master’s degree
  • Getting wall shelves installed to complete our new home layout/design
  • Celebrating my 30th birthday with a giant party!
  • Writing a new worship song as a reflection on my counseling studies thus far
  • Making a Julia Child-inspired meal (including her classic boeuf bourguignon) with friends, while wearing pearls & watching “Julie & Julia”
  • Getting accepted to the online MAC program at Westminster Theological Seminary
  • Spending quality time with family & friends over the holidays
    “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

    Wishing you a new year filled with true and lasting joy, peace that passes understanding, and just the right amount of adventure!

    xo,
    Kate

To America, with love

img_7944

My dear American neighbors,

There is fear in the air, there is despair in many hearts, there is unrest and anxiety and tension, but I implore you – do not be afraid. No matter what happens, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and come tomorrow, He will still be ruling over all. His promises are sure. If you are feeling swept up into the frenzy of uncertainty and apprehension may I invite you to meditate on the soul-calming, life-giving words of Psalm 146? Although these words were written before your country even existed, the ink might still be wet for all their relevance to tomorrow’s events.

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in mortal men, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    the LORD, who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun! Everyone is calling this an “historic election,” but the hearts of men are not all that different than the previous election, or the one before that, or the one before that. Our hope does not rest on the knowledge that America will remain strong, that everything will be ok. Quite the opposite – our hope rests on the knowledge that if and when America crumbles and everything is not ok, we have a kind and gracious Saviour who delights to save. His rule is the one that matters, and it is loving, absolute, and eternal. Place your trust in Him, bring your concerns before His throne, and commit yourself to an ever faithful God.

With love and prayers from your neighbour to the North,

Kate

P.S. This letter was partially inspired by this wonderful post and song by Steven Curtis Chapman, which you can find on his FB page. God is on the throne!

Incongruity

img_20160922_233152506

What I Want To Accomplish Tonight:

1. Finish weekly course reading

2. Begin rough draft of weekly response paper

3. Bake muffins

4. Finish the laundry

5. Wash/prep veggies for the rest of the week

6. Send important emails

7. Defrost and marinate chicken wings

8. Wash the dishes

9. Quick tidy of the condo

10. Evening swim

11. Reading in bed for a bit to wind down before drifting into a peaceful and refreshing slumber

 

What I Will Actually Accomplish Tonight:

1. Fatigue denial

2. Reclining on the couch

3. Convincing myself I am only resting for a few more minutes

4. Reading the same sentence over and over again… (that counts as doing coursework, right?!)

5. I refuse to have a nap.

6. Thinking about getting up to put on another load of laundry

7. Why is the kitchen so far away?

8. Defrosting the chicken in the fridge (marinades are overrated)

9. Deciding not to go to bed early because that will only lead to insomnia (true story)

10. Still not napping – my eyelids are this droopy all the time, I assure you

11. Finally admitting defeat around midnight and making an epic To Do List for tomorrow, then crawling exhausted into bed

img_20160922_233312357

Real life, y’all. #FatigueStruggles #NotEnoughSpoons

The Mature Student’s Back-To-School Guide for Disaster Preparedness (or, “My Back-To-School Shopping List”)

bts-shopping

1. A BACKPACK purchased online in a moment of uncharacteristic recklessness (Just kidding! I obviously triple-checked the return policy before submitting my order like the totally sane and not at all neurotic person that I am.), which will undoubtedly make me look like a giant pumpkin when worn with my green fall jacket, and which arrived at the bottom of an enormous box, topped with an even enormous-er swathe of what must have been at least fifty feet of “packing paper” (in one single, spectacularly long, sheet) that we can only assume was included to keep the backpack from being crushed but in reality served only to render it more pancake-like than ever

2. A fancy-ish (read: knock-off) “wood look” THERMAL WATER BOTTLE, which is guaranteed to keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot thanks to its double-walled stainless steel construction, and which is recommended online by a reviewer known only as “Bilbo Baggins” (who promises I will “look fresh around the shire”), but which, upon reflection, will probably scald my lips if used for hot beverages thanks to its double-walled stainless steel construction

3. A trendy, “bento box” style LUNCH CONTAINER ,which currently holds my hopes and dreams of an entire semester of eating only ethically raised, local, organic, single origin, whole foods lovingly prepared with clean hands and a pure heart, but which in reality serves as the single (fragile) barrier between eating a balanced diet and diving face-first into a bag of Cheetos when stress-eating season finals begin

4. A large THERMAL LUNCH BAG*, which was not on my original shopping list but had to be added when the aforementioned Aspirational Bento Box of Clean Eating turned out to be twice the size I anticipated (and was thus unable to fit in any of the four normal-sized lunchboxes I already own – don’t ask), and which proved so hard to find that it caused me to all but lose hope of its existence as I trekked empty-handed from store to store, bemoaning the amazing deal I missed out on when months ago I unknowingly passed up what would have been the ideal thermal container, exactly right for the ridiculously over-sized Ultimate Snacker’s Bento Box of Superiority

5. & 6. Not one, but TWO Burt’s Bees LIP BALMS, because the overflowing dish of various partially-used and probably-expired lip balm currently adorning my dresser serves as no deterrent whatsoever to the undeniable truth that in our harsh Canadian winters it is literally impossible to have too many options for soothing dry, chapped lips, and because while I seem to be just fine with making snap decisions that have major implications on my marriage, time, energy, finances, and overall life direction (*ahem, grad school applications and becoming a full time student, ahem*), I’m apparently incapable of choosing between “grapefruit” and “coconut pear” when it comes to what kind of lip balm I should use, particularly when there’s a “BOGO 50% off” promotion and the product descriptions are so similar I can’t choose between the “refreshing” product that’s “hydrating and revitalizing” and the “hydrating” one that’s “reviving and softening”

7. ALL THE MUJI PENS, due to: a) inherent awesomeness, b) the fact that when you forget what colours and nib sizes you have at home, the obvious solution is to buy more in strict adherence to the Boy Scout’s motto of perpetual preparedness, and c) a fierce commitment to stationery excellence at all times

8. Three blindingly white HILROY BINDERS, which seemed like a good idea at the time since they were on sale for an unbelievably low, and therefore irresistible, price (Have you seen binder prices these days?! What is this life?!), but which turned out to be both incredibly flimsy and juuuuuuust tall enough to not fit properly on the shelves of my newly-organized desk

9. A spiral-bound A5 DOTTED NOTEBOOK from Muji, the buying of which entailed at least 20 minutes of solemn deliberation (whilst circling the office supplies area of the store like a bird of prey) because of the seriousness of committing my entire life and five whole dollars to a new journal, and which is clearly the only sensible option for use as an organizer and agenda (because why buy a ready-made planner when you can spend all the time you don’t have essentially making your own from scratch?!)

10. CHOCOLATE (Enough said.)

 

*In the end I was able to locate an almost identical lunch box to the aforementioned ideal one (once I remembered the name of the brand!), so it turns out all that trekking was actually in vain as I returned the first one and ordered the other one online… and then after all that cancelled the online order when I discovered it for an even lower price at Canadian Tire…  -__-

Closed Today for Temple Maintenance

Today was supposed to be a Super Productive, Get Ready For Next Week, Do All The Things kind of day. I woke up after sleeping quite well, thinking, “Ok, let’s do this!” and then was promptly and unceremoniously smothered in a blanket of fatigue. I get these days, sometimes. For me it’s just the way things are, a part of life.

[For the record, though, struggling with fatigue really sucks. You know you should have energy, having just slept for eight hours, eaten a balanced breakfast, and given yourself time to ease into the day (or, alternatively, jumped into the day right away in a vain attempt to jump-start your body). But you don’t, or, as Michael Scott would say, should, maybe, but shornt.

Sometimes this feels like someone is sucking away all my energy, or like I’m being crushed under the weight of fatigue and barely have enough energy to hold up my head (these are definitely the worst days and unfortunately this is not a hyperbolic description, but thankfully this hasn’t happened recently), or like today, where fatigue feels like a fog or a wet blanket that’s enveloping me. Can’t quite seem to outrun or escape the fog, can’t quite get my arms free to disentangle myself from the blanket.]

So, today will probably not be a Super Productive Day after all. Whenever I decide not to go into full-on battle against my fatigue, guilt is often not far behind. Saturdays are not supposed to be a day off for me. (As a rule, I rest on Mondays to recover from the weekend, which I always find exhausting.) This was not the plan for today, and there is (as always) work to be done! Shouldn’t I be fighting harder? Aren’t I just being lazy? Isn’t this just an excuse to take it easy?

But, today I was reminded that we are called to work according to the strength God provides. And that I have to measure myself according to the way God has made me, with all my weaknesses and physical limitations, and not in comparison to anyone else. Tomorrow will be another busy day and I need to prepare for that by, as a friend once put it, “taking care of the temple!”

So, today I’m doing just that. I will do what I can, with the strength I’ve been given, and apart from that I will rest. It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is also a way to honour God with my body, by respecting the way He has made it, by embracing the reality of what is/is not reasonable or healthy for me, by doing less of what is less important (deep-cleaning my house) so I can do more of what is more important (spending time worshipping and serving God tomorrow, through fellowship with my church family).

Today will be a productive day after all, then – because productivity doesn’t always look like ticking items off a list, flurried activity, and doing All The Things. Sometimes, productivity looks like inactivity, just being, resting, doing only a little, and maintaining the temple.

 

September Update: Back to School Edition (!!)

 

back-to-school-calendar

That’s right; it’s true; your eyes do not deceive you; this adorable (and unintentionally gigantic) google calendar graphic is indeed correct…

 I’m going back to school!!!!!

To be even more accurate, I’m actually going back to school TODAY, because this is the official start date for Human Personality, the online course I’ll be taking this semester. Of course it’s not quite the same as doing a residential/on site program (to wit, I’m about to watch my first lecture while sitting on the couch in my PJs), but it is school, the course is for credit (ie. I actually have deadlines, assignments, and a final exam), and I haven’t been a student for a loooooong time, so I think it’s an accurate description.

The nutshell version is this: I’m doing some additional training in biblical counseling online through a school in the States, hoping to work towards a master’s degree eventually. This term I’m taking just one course but the plan is to enroll in a full course load come January. I’m hoping to submit my application for the degree program before Christmas, and so hopefully next fall I will officially be a grad student. (Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!)

And here’s the slightly more complicated and comprehensive version: Towards the end of the summer we found out about a brand new Master of Arts in Counseling (MAC) that is offered entirely online. I’ve long been passionate about biblical counseling* and so the MAC program seems like a perfect fit for me. Although I’ve never had a desire to pursue further studies (quite the opposite in fact, as I practically fled hotfoot from university the moment I could escape with diploma in hand!), I’ve been won over by the intensely practical nature of these courses and the opportunity to study topics about which I am truly passionate under professors with unparalleled experience, insight, and biblical wisdom. Basically, I have done a complete 180 in my thinking and I now have all the heart eyes for the thought of grad school! 😍 😍 😍

The MAC launches in September 2017 (so that’s next September) and will be offered at Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS), in partnership with CCEF, the school from which I’m currently taking courses. Well, a course, for now. But wait, why am I taking a course right now if the MAC doesn’t start until next year? Because clearly I can’t do anything in a straightforward manner. Because to reduce costs (the price per course is significantly lower at CCEF) and to get a head start on your degree, any CCEF courses taken before September 2017 can become transfer credits for the MAC. Thus, my plan to take a full course load next term, and hopefully in the summer as well. (Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!)

Of course there’s no guarantee I will actually be accepted into the MAC program to begin with (hopefully we will know that by late this year or early next year, as I am aiming to submit my application fairly soon), but if not I will probably continue with a few more courses to complete a certificate at CCEF. True, it won’t be a degree, but much of the learning will be the same (I will be missing some courses in biblical studies, but the counseling aspect will be fully covered) and the whole point of this is to mature and develop greater skill as a biblical counselor, not add more initials after my name.

Honestly, it all feels a little surreal still (a feeling I’m sure will quickly dwindle into something more akin to panic and “what have I gotten myself into?” when I start my first lecture, in approximately 10 minutes…) and of course there are the usual nerves and jitters that always accompany a new experience (at least for me, devote lover of routine and familiarity), but I’m mostly really excited for what I will be learning, not least about myself, and for where the path from here might lead.

Guys, I’M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!!!!!!!

 

*Wondering about the difference between biblical counseling and Christian counseling? The terms are often used interchangeably but they actually mean quite different things. (Don’t worry, I used to think they were the same as well!) If you’re interested in learning more I’d love to chat sometime! 🙂

 

September Soliloquy

There’s just something about September.

Perhaps it’s the knowledge that after summer’s unrelenting heat and oppressive humidity, cool breezes are on the way and we’ll soon be able to enjoy the crunch of leaves underfoot as trees light up in a skyward blaze of autumnal glory. Perhaps it’s the feeling that even for non-students, the “back to school” season holds out the promise of a fresh start for us all, the opportunity to approach projects with renewed vigor, the hopeful motivation of a new beginning and endless possibility.

I am no stranger to September’s alluring invitation; who am I to refuse her charms? Like opening a new notebook and boldly beginning on the very first page, this is no time for hesitation. Here I am to respond to her irresistible offer of promise, potential, and possibility.

So let’s take the plunge, embrace the adventure, and dive right in.