Last Saturday night, we had a barbecue to celebrate my brother Dan's birthday and as Kev's last meal in New Brunswick, as he flew out EARLY the next morning. Dan's in-laws also came, and we feasted (again - it's becoming a habit now!) on steak, followed by a delicious cake that Melissa made.
The next morning after seeing Kevin off, I enjoyed the service at Lincoln Baptist Church, where I was sent to Sunday School as a kid and was first introduced to Jesus by some wonderful, caring teachers. Their guest speaker was a missionary from Africa, whose wife had just given birth to a baby girl a few weeks ago. His words touched me deeply, as he challenged us that any earthly thing that we mourn the loss of inordinately, is something we've made an idol of... it can even be the good things in our life, like our children, but if we put them before God, we're breaking the first commandment.
It's funny, but the older I get, I seem to be becoming more materialistic in a way. When I was younger, I wouldn't be caught dead carrying a purse and I didn't care about what I wore, but now I enjoy getting (new-to-me anyway!) things like that. I like fun things (like DVDs and books) and pretty things (like clothes and purses) and I often struggle with the balance between enjoying beautiful things (which I do think reflects God's personality - look at the beautiful world He has made!) but not letting that enjoyment or desire for things get out of hand.
It was a thought-provoking sermon for me, and I so enjoyed the music and the spirit in the church. Although churches on the East Coast are significantly smaller than the one I attend in Coquitlam, they are so loving and joyful and down-to-earth - you feel at home, even if it's your first time there. And after talking to my best friend's mother, I discovered that that missionary wife was my best friend's brother's wife's best friend! (Did you get that?!) I love the Maritimes, where everyone is connected!
Sunday night, my best friend, Alisha, picked me up and we went to her parents' house for a birthday barbecue for her father (whose birthday was actually the day before, same as my brother's, but they kindly postponed the festivities so I could be there and have ANOTHER steak... I will definitely be getting back to the gym when I return to Coquitlam, I swear!). We had a great time visiting.
The next day, we drove to Alisha's house in St.John, and had Christmas Eve in July. We decorated a little Christmas tree, listened to Christmas carols and watched "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and "The Holiday" - a delightful film starring Kate Winslet, Jack Black, Cameron Diaz and Jude Law.
The next morning, we exchanged presents (our Christmas in July). Ella loved her "Big Bird in China" DVD and dress-up clothes; Sharon, Alisha and Derek all loved their books (imagine, me, giving someone a book... unbelievable, I know); and I loved my new Big Bird mug, happy face Bible cover and groundhog puppet, Phil. Then we went to the beach and I was quickly reminded how FREAKING COLD the Atlantic Ocean is. The good thing is, after awhile, your body goes numb and you don't notice the cold as much anymore... or is that a good thing? Haha! Had a wonderful time with Ella, who is 2 1/2 years old, and loved throwing rocks in the water to see them splash and playing in the sand.
I feel so blessed that even though I live so far away and she only sees me once a year, Ella loves her "Auntie Janis". She loves Big Bird and happy faces, just like me, and is so much fun to be around. I love it when she tells her little stories and then laughs at her own funny jokes... that laugh is priceless! And I love how concentrated she is on "Monster" (a talking index finger) or Phil, the groundhog puppet; she just focuses right on them and chats away... she has an amazing imagination and is a delightful kid.
Wednesday morning, Alisha's mom looked after Ella while Derek worked at the church (he's a pastor) and Alisha and I attended their church's prayer meeting. There was six of us there and it was a wonderful time of praise, singing, prayers and tears. Even though I had never met these women before, I felt instantly comfortable with them as my sisters in Christ. It was an amazing time.
Sharon (Alisha's mom) drove me home Wednesday afternoon, and Mom and I went into Oromocto and I went on a shopping spree for the kids. I am such a sucker... I know they don't really need anything, but I love to give them gifts. It reminds me of that verse, Matthew 7:11, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!"
Thursday morning, Mom and I braved the heat to go berry picking. We got six boxes of blueberries and two of raspberries, before it got too hot. But let me tell you, East Coast mosquitoes are nastier than the West Coast variety! Usually they never bug me, but they did that morning. We treated ourselves to ice cream afterwards. Oh, this vacation living is TOUGH, haha!
This morning, Mom and I went to downtown Fredericton. She had to go to the bank and I went to the Owl's Nest used bookstore... it is HUGE and I didn't even get to look at a fraction of the books there, which is probably just as well for my wallet! I love the historical architecture that has been preserved in Fredericton - it is beautiful - and so clean! I'm always lamenting the litter in Vancouver, but I haven't noticed any yet here in NB. One thing both my brother from Calgary and I DID notice is the abundance of roadkill here. My theory is that since we haven't yet pushed all the animals out of the wild with rampant development, they don't have to scavenge the roadways for food.
Tomorrow is yet another barbecue... Dan and Melissa's reception for extended family. Two more weeks and I'm back to BC. I'm sure you're tired of reading this post already so I'll shut up... love you all!