Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bare Feet

Layni broke a board with her bare foot! She is in Tae Kwon Do and today was the promotion ceremony - she graduated from white belt to yellow stripe belt. She told me she was going to break a board and I asked her if they had ever done this in class before. She said, no, but I've been practicing with a pillow. And I admit, yes, both Marty and I laughed and had our doubts - but she did it! On the second try, which was better than a lot of the kids. One little girl took about 15 tries, but we cheered all the louder for her. Hmmm... maybe I'll need to start a self-defense class to defend myself against these kids... haha!

And tonight, I painted my toenails in anticipation of wearing a skirt and sandals to church tomorrow - sunshine, you'd better not disappoint me!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

True Beauty

I was talking with some friends today about what society says is beautiful versus what God says is beautiful and was reminded of these words of Audrey Hepburn that I recently read:

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

Isn't that great?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What's New

Jolie got a box full of about 40 records for $20 at a yard sale Sunday, and got a record player today. Most of them are ones she listened to as a kid - country, 70's pop etc. We were grooving along to Madonna's "Like A Virgin" album... you know, her young and innocent phase, haha. It's really cool and fun actually - Jolie and I share a love of nostalgia and history. She got a Sears catalogue from 1962 as well... we've been paging through, lamenting how much nicer and more innocent times used to be. The ladies are all dressed up with their pumps and gloves... as Jolie said, this is the Sears catalogue - imagine what the couture of the time looked like! Now, I want to go thrift store shopping and see if I can find some cool old records. I remember when I was younger and we had a yard sale and we made fun of my parents, because who would want to buy a bunch of old records? As I often tell Jolie - we become what we mock!

Monday night, the church had a Women's Connections night at which we decorated a pot with paint, stencils and markers and planted a little herb garden. I planted dill, cilantro, Greek oregano and chives as well as a pretty pansy, which evidently are edible - though I think I'll pass on that. Hopefully, it will survive - I'm trusting Jolie to help me out; she's a far more experienced gardener than I am. My friend and I ended the evening with gelato... so delicious. Although I've heard that the best gelato here can't compare at all to the "real" thing in Italy. I don't know if I'll ever find out if that's true, but in the meantime I savoured my chocolatey treat!

Heather Mills got kicked off "Dancing With the Stars" tonight - I know most people hate her because "she was never good enough for Sir Paul", but I quite enjoyed watching her dance. As one of the judges said, she danced as if no one was watching and put her everything into it. Hmmm... will John Ratzenberger or Billy Ray be next?

Layni passed her test today for the next level in Tae Kwon Do (white-yellow belt?) and gets promoted Saturday, when she tells me she will break a board with her foot. She's never done it, but tells me she's been practicing with newspaper so it shouldn't be a problem. Okay, then.

I told Marty I had some bad news - Mattias asked me to pray with him Saturday night. "What do we say when we pray?" I asked him. "We close our eyes." "Okay, then what do we say?" "God." "Okay, what do we say to God?" "Good night!" So, we thanked God for the day and said good night. Mattias went to church with me on Sunday, and then to McDonalds for lunch; Layni went to her cousin's birthday party and then stayed over at her dad's house on the weekend.

I went to see the movie "Music and Lyrics" (with Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant) on Saturday. It was a nice little romantic comedy, but not one you want to watch over and over like "Pretty Woman" or "Forget Paris" or "Shallow Hal" - a few of my faves. "Forget Paris" is a more obscure movie starring Billy Crystal and Debra Winger, but I highly recommend it. Then afterwards, I stopped at Rogers Video where they were having a sale on their previously viewed DVD's (2 for $24) and I got "Ice Age 2: The Meltdown" and "The Nativity Story." Haven't seen either yet, but I'm excited for both.

Yesterday, Jolie convinced me to do the hike up and down the power line trails in Coquitlam. If she didn't encourage me, I would never make the effort, but it's easier if you have a friend. After that and going to the gym today, I am so ready for bed tonight! (In fact, I was ready about 3:00 pm this afternoon!)

Confession time - I ordered some books from CBD and received them yesterday. The problem is they send you catalogues with your order and you find all sorts of great bargains and if you're a bibliophile like me, you can't resist temptation... so I placed another order yesterday afternoon. I know, I know, I already have dozens of books I haven't read yet, but I just can't help myself - I am an addict. Do they have Book Buyers Anonymous?

Another fun thing - I have been reconnecting with a lot of old friends, especially from my years working at Circle Square Ranch, through facebook.com.

Well, I think that's all my bits of news from the last few days. And now, I am SO ready for bed! Love you, dear friends! Good night!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

I'm Rich!!!

Folks, I just discovered I am the 712,727,979th richest person in the world - that puts me in the top 11.87% of the richest people in the world. Did you know that 3 billion people live on less than $2 a day? 1.3 billion live on less than $1 a day - and 70% of those are women. The 225 richest people in the world have $1 trillion dollars between them, which equals the income of the 2.5 billion poorest. If you want to know how rich YOU are, go to www.globalrichlist.com. It gives you a whole new perspective.

Another Week Gone

It's Friday night - actually Saturday morning now - and another week is gone. April is almost over. It was great to get back to the gym today, though I'm still sniffling and coughing, but after a week and a half, I couldn't take it anymore!

My best friend recently got me hooked on Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody series, about husband, wife and son archaeologists exploring Egypt in the late 1800's; however, the latest Yada Yada Prayer Group book by Neta Jackson just came out, so that takes precedence. I cannot recommend this series highly enough - you will fall in love with this wildly diverse group of women and you will learn so much through their life journeys. This is the last in the series, except for a holiday novella coming out in the fall, so don't be afraid to jump in - they're awesome!

Lysa's been back to school this week, though still very tired and a little grumpy sometimes, we're told. Layni's got the sniffles now too. Oh, the fun of passing germs around! The kids had today off from school (Pro-D day) so Layni and Mattias had lots of fun playing in the backyard and we went to the park after supper. Lysa got out for a couple of walks too.

We started a new Bible study Thursday morning, on Beth Moore's book "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things." I've never read her books before, but I've heard lots of good things about her, and am excited to get to know some different women from church better.

Well, it's one o'clock in the morning and I've wasted the last hour playing silly games on the computer and enjoying the quiet. But morning and mayhem will arrive too soon, so I'd better get some sleep. Good night, dear friends!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Apocalypse Now

Yes, folks, the end of the world is nigh... because, I, Janis G., self-proclaimed fitness-phobe, miss going to the gym. It has been four days since this stupid bug knocked me down and I am going crazy not being able to go work out. Jolie told me to take it easy and not push myself, but I'm starting to think maybe if I go to the gym and work out and pretend I'm healthy, I might trick my body into believing it.

Who knew two years ago, when God-only-knows what possessed me to give into Jolie's urges to "just give it a try", I would become a person who works out faithfully three times a week and actually misses it when I can't? Now people who don't know me that well, would not realize what an act of God this is. But people like my best friend or my family, who remember how traumatized I was by gym classes from elementary through high school, they know that this is nigh unto a miracle. Even after two years of working out, I'm still laughably physically uncoordinated - I'm the girl who constantly trips over her own feet. And after being the slowest, worst, and always the last to be picked for any team in gym class for the first two decades of my life, the very idea of joining a gym was the most ridiculous thing I'd ever heard. I was sure I would get kicked out or (after realizing that they're not going to kick out anyone who pays them a goodly sum to go there every month) more likely, be laughed at and mocked by all the cool, physically fit people who hung out there. I thank God for Jolie, who encouraged me to give it a try, showed me how all the machines worked, went with me for the first several months, and encouraged me not to give up even when I thought I would die after two minutes on the treadmill. (I've since worked my way up to 40-60 minutes.) After two years, the gym has become a healthy habit in my life. I'm more physically fit and what's more, it has shown me I can do things I never dreamed possible. Now if only I could translate this discipline into other areas of my life...

So if you ever became physically ill on the days you had gym class or faked illness or used your "female problems" to weasel out of it or prayed that the ball wouldn't come your way or that you could sink into a hole into the ground and disappear from the planet or pull a "Carrie" on your mean classmates... thank God that those horrible years of school didn't last forever (although it seemed like they would at the time), and know that you too can overcome your lifelong fears and with God's help and a friend's encouragement, create new healthy habits in your life. With God, all things truly are possible. And maybe the world won't end quite yet, after all!

The Ugly Green Monster in No-Man's-Land

I have been really struggling with jealousy the past few days, and I don't like it. Yes, sometimes I'm a bit envious when a friend gets some new scrapbooking supplies or has a great wardrobe, but generally speaking, I'm not that prone to jealousy. Maybe that's why I really despise seeing it in myself now.

I am thirty years old and stuck in No-Man's-Land. I'm not married, I'm not dating and don't really have any "prospects" in the forseeable future. I don't have children of my own, but I pretty much have the experience of it, being a full-time nanny and seeing Elayna and Elysa grow up from chubby five-month-old babies, to flourishing six-year-old Grade One kids (and with three-year-old Mattias for the past year). I don't belong with the college kids, I don't belong with the married couples; sometimes I feel like I don't belong anywhere.

I have my moments when I wonder if I'll ever get married. Sometimes I see my Christian friends going to church with their husbands and families, and wonder, "Is that God's plan for my life someday?" Sometimes I hear my friends talk about their husbands and wonder if I'll ever experience that kind of intimacy (and no, I'm not just talking about sex, though that really sounds like fun too!) I have my moments of longing for that. But to be honest, I'm not feeling desperate yet. I see lots of other things too that make me thank God for my singleness :) Maybe in five or ten years, I'll feel like time is running out and worry about it, but for the most part I'm content in my singleness.

No, where jealousy is rearing its ugly head is in terms of female friendships. My best friend, who I've known since Grade 7 (and actually liked since Grade 9, though that's a whole other story!), is married and has a beautiful little girl... and lives all the way across the country in New Brunswick. We talk on the phone when busy schedules allow, occasionally play backgammon online, and visit for a few days during my summer vacation. Not nearly enough, but the best we can do for now. I correspond via email and occasional phone calls with a few dear friends from high school and college. I get together occasionally with women from church for "coffee" - water, Coke or juice for me - but I miss having close friends to watch movies, go for walks, talk, cry, complain, play cheesy games, just hang out and be myself with. I admit, I'm not really good at reaching out, because for so many years, I was used to being alone.

*****

I started writing this entry when I was severely PMS-ing and homesick. Yes, I feel this way sometimes, but not all the time. And I can see how God is lovingly providing for me as I need it - this past week I've discovered a backgammon buddy. It might seem a ridiculously small thing, but it is such a big blessing. It seems hard to make new friends... I'm not the most outgoing person, especially when I'm struggling with depression or just plain tiredness. Other people seem so easily connected - with their kids' schools and activities, church ministries and care groups, or just plain living close to each other. Because of my schedule, I can't go to most events because I'm working nights, while most people work days. And people are so busy with kids, husbands, church, hobbies, homes, exercise, work, family, old friends, trying to find a minute for themselves... who has time to cultivate a new friendship?

As I was contemplating these things, a passage our Bible study group just looked at came to mind: I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation...whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13 (NIV)


I have always thought of this passage as applying to material things, but I think it applies to so much more. I am learning to be content when I am struggling with depression or blessedly carefree; I am learning to be content when friends and fun surround me or when they're far away and I miss them. I am learning to be content whether I ever get married or not. I am learning to be content, because my life, my joy, my all is found in Jesus and only Jesus. That's a hard thing to say, because quite honestly, I often would like to find my security in money or relationships, but I know in the end, it all comes down to Jesus. Even if I had all the money in the world and didn't have to worry about paying off my bills or student loans or could buy whatever books or DVDs or clothes I wanted, if I didn't have Jesus, it would be meaningless. Even if I was married to the greatest guy in the world and having fabulous sex every day (was that too frank?), if I didn't have Jesus, my life would suck. Even if I could see my family and old friends whenever I wanted and could easily make all the new friends I ever desired, without Jesus, it would be worthless. When I imagine having everything I lust for, I realize that all those things, good as they may be, won't satisfy me - only Jesus will.

Jesus, forgive me for always wanting more. Help me to learn this secret - I think I'm starting to - of being content no matter what my physical or emotional circumstances are. Help me to be grateful for everything I have - and I have so much, I know. Help me to always share my plenty with those who have less, indeed, even with those who have more, that I might set an example of Your kind of love and giving. Thank You Jesus, for being so gracious to me, who is so slow to "get it" even after all these years. Keep working on me and in me and through me, please! And thank You for all the dear friends I have, whether near or far, here on earth or there in heaven. Bless each one of them as they have blessed me. Hallelujah, Jesus! You are the best, and I am so grateful to be Yours!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lost and Found

I'm just heading to bed, but wanted to share this interesting site that my friend Alisha showed me: www.foundmagazine.com. I find it fascinating because I'm always looking for the stories behind things... why is there a shoe left by the side of the road? What's the story behind that ad on the side of the bus? Where is that lady rushing off to in such a hurry? Who is that kid picking flowers off our magnolia tree? Looking through these found notes, there's a lot of stories to wonder about... and how many times have people wondered about me? You know how you're taking vacation photos, and you wonder who those strangers are in the background, and how many people's photo albums you are in? Six degrees of separation, Lost, all that good stuff... we're all connected and only when we get to heaven will we see how all the threads are interwoven. Or maybe I just need to go to bed...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Making Up For Lost Time

I have to remind myself that just because I didn't eat chocolate for a month and a half doesn't mean I now have to eat a month and half's worth of chocolate. But it's hard. Oh, the Cadbury Creme eggs are good, and the peanut butter cups and Caramilk bars... Thank You, God, for chocolate!

Last Thursday, the girls both got awards at their school's recognition ceremony. Layni for improvement in her reading (you go, girl!) and Lysa for being a good friend and making the school a better place (or something to that effect). So Jolie snapped pictures while I had breakfast with my Bible Study group at the Coquitlam Grill - a Belgian waffle and bacon, yum!

We were originally planning to visit the zoo on Friday, but that didn't work out, so we dyed our Easter eggs and went for a walk around Garbage Lake instead. Layni, Mattias, and I went to Kids Night Out at church, where they did an Easter egg hunt and talked about Jesus's death and resurrection.

Saturday, I went to the gym and made cookies to take to Marty's mom's house for Easter dinner on Sunday. And I stayed up until after midnight to eat a Cadbury Creme egg (and celebrate Jesus' resurrection, of course!)

Layni, Mattias, and I walked to church in the pouring rain on Sunday, but even that couldn't dampen my spirits because Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! I was grateful, however, that it had cleared up after the service for the walk home. I had been threatening the kids for days - If you're not good, you can't be in the Easter balloon parade! At our church, the kids all get a helium balloon that says "Jesus Is Alive" and has a sucker tied on the end so they don't all fly up to the ceiling, and they march up and down the aisles for the first part of the service while we sing. (Then after the service, they get to take a balloon and sucker home.) The kids loved it and they looked so adorable. I was so happy to stand and sing and at that moment, celebrating Jesus' resurrection life, the problems and worries of this world seemed as trivial as they really are in the light of eternity. I thought about a pastor who said, "Are you discouraged by the troubles of this world? You want to know how it all ends? Read the last chapter of the Bible!" And the truth is Jesus wins, and we are on the winners side! Hallelujah! It was so good to be reminded of that, and to experience that assurance on Sunday.

We all went to Marty's mother's apartment in Langley for dinner; his father and brother were also there. They had lots of food that I'm sure was perfectly delicious, but I stuck to the turkey, french fries and triple layer chocolate fudge cake - now that's how you break a chocolate fast! Jolie and I laughed at childhood pictures of Marty and his brother. Everyone's got those embarassing photos, don't they? What were we all thinking during those years? Why, why, did I perm my hair? I'm still traumatized. Oh, yes, most of my photos are ripe for mockery.

Monday, I spent running around getting last minute supplies, and that night, while Jolie and Marty were out having dinner with friends, Layni and I decorated the house for Marty's 30th birthday yesterday. We got strings of 30's to hang in the doorways, black balloons saying Oh no - the big 3-0!, streamers, party hats, noisemakers - you know the dollar store specials! Layni loves doing that - she's already planning how she wants to decorate for Jolie's 30th in December.
Oh, and we painted a big poster saying Happy 30th Birthday Marty! Love Janis, DeeDee, Elayna and Jake. We all did handprints (except Jake) and painted happy faces, stars, etc.

Oh, Easter morning, we found some poop under the fireplace mantel (Jake is getting more prone to leaving little surprises, as I'm sure I've mentioned before!) and Mattias and Layni were thrilled when Jolie told them that Jake must have come upon the Easter bunny, who came down the chimney like Santa Claus, and scared the poop out of him. Marty was not so impressed. So Jake gave him a dark chocolate bunny for his birthday and apologized. My favourite presents were the Got Prune Juice? shot glass Lysa got him (an inside joke) and the snails ("escargot") in garlic butter that I picked up from the dollar store as a joke. Poor Marty - I think he had a happy birthday, anyway, haha!

Today, I woke up with a sore throat, sniffles and feeling tired. Jolie is finally getting over the bug she's had for a week, and poor Lysa has been home from school the last couple days with a fever that comes and goes. So I lazed around today, playing backgammon on-line (or should I say getting my butt kicked by Krista "I haven't played in three years, really!"), reading my latest novel, Curse of the Pharoahs by Elizabeth Peters, and napping.

So there's the update on my life... how are you?!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Snow in April?

I would have thought it an April Fool's Day joke, but it was yesterday, the 2nd, when we woke up to a smattering of snow - more up at Layni and Lysa's school. It didn't last long once the sun came out, but still...

Last night, we all watched Dancing With the Stars and after the kids went to bed, we watched Blood Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I've never been a big fan (though I did watch him on Growing Pains back in the day) but he's done some really good work lately. It was a brutally intense movie, really good but hard to watch in a way. It made me think how blessed I am to live in my safe, protected North American cocoon and how grateful I am. Is that horrible? I just don't know if I would have the strength or courage to have my hands chopped off or a rifle pointed in my face and stand strong in faith. At least I'm honest?! And I can understand why people question "How can there be a loving God in the midst of all the monstrosities going on in the world today, most of which we're not even aware?" But I think, if there wasn't a loving, powerful God, there would be no hope and we might as well just give up and kill each other or ourselves or blow up the world. I mean, the world is bad enough as it is, but imagine a world utterly devoid of His grace or presence. That would be an utterly hopeless, meaningless existence. Oh Jesus, there is so much need in this world, so much tragedy, so much violence, so much injustice, so much sin and heartbreak and hopelessness. I pray that You will shine Your light even in the darkest of places, in the most hopeless of circumstances, in the midst of the most horrific evil. This whole world needs You so much, and so many don't even know their need. Please, help us all, have mercy on us all, and use each one of us to spread Your light and love and HOPE to each person in need. Use our cries to You to make a difference and thank You that one day, You will abolish all evil, all hopelessness, all heartbreak. Let us shine You in the lives of others. Thank You that You're bigger than all of this and that Your plan is greater than we can conceive. Help us to hang onto our faith especially in the darkest moments. We are weak but You are strong enough to carry us through. Thank You Jesus!

Layni and I played badminton in the backyard after supper. We managed to hit the birdie four times in a row between the two of us... yeah, we're total athletes, haha!

Well, I need to get to bed. Good night, friends, and may God fill your hearts with hope each day.