2015 Year in Review

A whole year has gone by since I blogged last. I don’t write much in this space anymore, because work and life take up so much of my creative energy these days. But I thought I’d drop by to do the year in review post. It’s good to look back and remember, plus this will be the fifth year in a row I’ve been filling this thing out so now it’s tradition.

For Auld Lang Syne’s sake here are the posts from 2010, 201120122013 and 2014

What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

  • Visited Paris
  • Started writing a novel
  • Saw Patty Griffin in Concert
  • Drove through Big Sur
  • Spent a day in a new city all by myself
  • Was part of a panel discussion
  • Hiked the Edith Cavell Meadows
  • Boat camping!
  • Went to a Whitecaps game
  • Recorded a christmas song
  • Went to a movie by myself

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

IMG_6378

IMG_8077

Processed with VSCOcam with k3 preset

IMG_7884

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I made three new year’s resolutions: to get better at saying no, to eat healthier and to be more financially responsible. I would say I was successful with two out of three of those. Saying no has gotten easier, and I’m proud to say I have totally eradicated FOMO from my life (and replaced it with JOMO). Financial responsibility is also no longer a pipe dream—I paid off a lot of debt this year and even managed to save a bit, yay!

That being said, I failed miserably at healthy eating, especially towards the end of the year when work and life got hectic and stressful. Now none of my clothes fit properly. I hereby resolve to eat 79% less baked goods in 2016.

I’m also setting a goal of reading 20 books this year, which is slightly less than two a month. Totally doable, right?

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! Tami and Josh had #babyknepps and he is the cutest thing. Basically everyone I know is pregnant right now so I can’t wait to answer this question again next year.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Did anyone close to you die?
Sadly, my parents had to put our cat down this year. She was 16 (nearly 17) and starting to have lots of health problems so it was time. It was strange not having her around when I went home for Christmas.

What countries did you visit?
France and the USA.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
A boyfriend and a tropical vacation.

What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 15 – The day we left for Paris
July 11 – Kevin & Micaela’s wedding
July 25 – Raur & Justin’s wedding

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
2015 was a good year for me at work. I learned a ton, got to try new things and am ending the year feeling quite accomplished, thankyouverymuch. In the new year, the website I have been working hard to help build will go live and I’m so excited. Technically, I can’t say it’s my biggest achievement of the year because it hasn’t launched yet but I’ve spent the bulk of 2015 working towards this goal with the rest of my team and I’m so proud of the work I’ve done on the project!

What was your biggest failure?
Stress eating my way through most of the fall.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
No.

What was the best thing you bought?
It’s nearly a year later and still love and wear everything I bought in Paris (two pairs of boots, a purse, a bunch of fancy soap and some scarves).

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My (now former) roomie, Raurie. I got to cheer her on as she planned a wedding while working a full time job and being in school getting her Master’s degree. It was truly impressive. Now that she’s married and moved out I miss her a lot—we lived together for three and a half years and she was the closest thing I’ve ever had to a sister! But I’m so proud of the way she handled everything last year with such grace and joy. And she still comes over and makes me popcorn sometimes.

12045802_10153736369010970_979783866976141502_o

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
The Craig McTavish Era Oilers and Stephen Harper.

Where did most of your money go?
Rent, paying off debt, bills and savings! Pretty boring list, tbh.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Going to Paris and Connor McDavid.

What songs will always remind you of 2015?
Hello by Adele
What Do You Mean? by Biebs
All of Taylor Swift’s 1989.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • Happier or Sadder?
    Happier!
  • Thinner or Fatter?
    Fatter. See new years resos.
  • Richer or Poorer?
    A very little bit richer

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading, writing and staying home alone.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Netflix. And eating the treats that Mona always has at her desk.

How will you be spending Christmas?
This year I worked on Christmas Eve, so I booked a later flight home and got to attend my first ever Westside Christmas Eve service. I’ve been going there for 8 years and had never been to a Christmas gathering! It was lovely. The rest of Christmas break I’ve been home in Edmonton with my family. We watched Star Wars, went to an Oilers game and to see the Magna Carta.  Gramma Miller and I (accidentally) bought each other the same Bill Bryson book: The Road to Little Dribbling.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Did you fall in love in 2015?
Nope. Someday, Someday, Maybe?

What was your favourite TV program?
Downton Abbey
Scott & Baily
Broadchurch
The Musketeers
Peaky Blinders
Great British Bakeoff
basically anything british. Moving to the UK for the telly.

What was the best book you read?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan*
*this wasn’t a literary masterpiece or anything but boy was it enjoyable.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Lone Bellow
The new CHVRCHES album
Ryan Adams’ cover album of 1989

What did you want and get?
A new prime minister, a trip to San Francisco, two (!) new pairs of boots.

What did you want and not get?
A boyfriend and a summer vacation.

What was your favourite film of this year?
Cinderella
Star Wars
Far from the Madding Crowd
Inside Out

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
On my birthday this year, I turned thirty one. It was a Wednesday, I had to work and thirty one doesn’t feel like a Big Deal Birthday, so I just had a low key dinner with some girlfriends at Via Tevere. The pizza was delicious and the company was lovely.

Processed with VSCOcam with 2 preset
*Sidebar: I hate it when grown women refer to their friends as “girlfriends” but how else do you say that? “I had dinner with some ladies? some women?” Please advise.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A slightly higher salary? A non-open concept office? Honestly 2015 was a pretty good year so I can’t pinpoint any one thing that would have made the year immeasurably more satisfying.  Maybe if the Oilers made the playoffs.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
“Can I pass this off as ‘not-jeans’ enough to wear to the office?”

What kept you sane?
Jesus. And precious time by myself.

Which celebrity or public figure did you fancy the most?
Mary BerryLeon Draitsaitl..wait, do fictional characters count? Because then it’d be a tie between Aramis from the Musketeers or Tommy from Peaky Blinders or Rogelio from Jane the Virgin.

What political issue stirred you the most?
What a year for politics! I’ll leave all the transit referendum, Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau recaps to the proper news magazines. I was very happy to exercise my democratic right to vote this year and I’m also happy they’re bringing back the long form census.

Who did you miss?
My dearly departed kitty, Sasha. It was so strange being home and not having her there. I kept expecting to see her pop her head around the corner or curled up in her spot on the couch or stretched out in the sunbeams beneath the big windows at the front of the house. And I missed the rest of my family and Douze, obviously.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Who was the best new person you met?
Stephanie Brennan. Technically I didn’t meet her this year, but we became friends (for real) this year. And next year we’re going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child together in LONDON (!!!!).

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015?
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

For me personally 2015 was a mainly good, happy year with normal ups and downs. I didn’t go through any major life changes—although lots of people around me did. I spent a lot of time this year learning to walk with God through the normal day-to-day stuff.  But what a dark year it was for the world! Terrorist attacks, a major refugee crisis, natural disasters, mass shootings and terrifying pseudo-fascist leaders rising to prominence in the U.S. …it’s easy to get “gloomy about the state of the world” as Hugh Grant put it at the beginning of Love Actually.

Through all the heartbreaking tragedies we saw unfold this year I kept coming back to John 1—that the light has come into the darkness, and is not overcome by it. Holding onto that promise over the past year has helped me to remember where my hope is found. But it also sewed an urgency in my heart to have compassion, grace and love for others and to share that hope with people.

IMG_8854

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
Time keeps on slippin’ into the future

Year in Review — 2014

Welp, it’s been three months since I blogged last and I bet some of you were wondering if I was still going to do a 2014 Year in Review post. As if I would miss a chance to reflect on the past year! Writing this post is my favourite New Year’s tradition. Come on now.

2014 was a good year. When I look back on where and who I was at New Year’s last year, there has been so much growth and change. It was a year of abundant blessings and answered prayers. I got to go camping and visit places that I’d never been before. My baby brother got married. I started a new job. I turned 30. I read a lot of books. Let’s reminisce shall we?

What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

  • Visited San Francisco
  • Drove my car up a Forest Service Road
  • Went to Tofino
  • Got food poisoning in a foreign country
  • Bought jeans online
  • Went camping in the rain. Twice
  • Went hiking in the rain. Twice
  • Got really into soccer football during the world cup
  • Swam in a secret lake in the middle of nowhere
  • Got a permanent job in communications!

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

IMG_3184

IMG_4349

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

IMG_4223

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Last year I made a resolution to be “a little more active”. I think I’ve succeeded in that. I definitely did more #outdoorsy things this year, and managed to stick to a gym routine. The key to keeping New Year’s Resolutions is setting vague goals!

For this year I would like to set three vague resolutions for myself:

  • To say “no” more, especially to social things I don’t actually want to go to. The past three months have been so busy that checking my calendar sometimes brings me to the edge of tears. It’s an introvert’s worst nightmare. Saying no will also include saying no to feeling guilty about saying no.
  • Choose healthy foods more often! I have become a lot more active this year but I haven’t really been paying too close attention to what I’ve been eating. So less cookies and more vegetables in 2015!
  • Be more financially responsible. I’ve actually gotten a lot better at this over the past year. But I know that if you make it a resolution and put it on the internet you actually have to follow through and do it. I hereby resolve to save and pay off debt as much as possible in 2015.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
There were 6874 babies born at Westside last year (rough estimate). Of all those I’m really only tight with Marc & Chars, parents of the illustrious Oliver. I get to babysit him sometimes and it’s the best.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

Did anyone close to you die?
No, thankfully.

What countries did you visit?
Just the good ol’ USA. And I actually didn’t go that many times this year, even for shopping.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A real vacation! I can write that because I know I’m going to get one in January. And I think it would be lovely to have a relationship in 2015. And maybe a new television. Also I really want to go to an NFL game.

What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 26th – My brother’s wedding
July 3rd – The day I started my new job

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Getting hired at my new job! And then navigating everything that comes with starting a new job and learning the ins-and-outs of a new organization. Let me tell you, internet. It has been such a blessing to finally work in a job that I’m good at and enjoy. Honourable mention in this category: I dropped two clothing sizes!

What was your biggest failure?
To be honest, I can’t think of one huge thing I failed at this year. I don’t mean that to sound all, “I’m practically perfect in every way”. Maybe it’s just that my failings are more broad and sweeping than specific?

I will tell you something God has been working on in me this year: to be wise and careful with my words. I’m pretty sarcastic and sometimes when I feel insecure, crabby or impatient I make biting comments that don’t do anybody any good. I have also been trying very hard to not gossip and to listen to the Holy Spirit’s quiet caution when those kinds of conversations come up. During the summer I did a bible study of 1 Samuel with some other girls and this verse stuck with me: ”And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” (1 Sam 3:19) I want to speak and write words that are truthful, that build people up and don’t fall to the ground.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
Not anything notable. Is it just me or was this a terrible year for colds? Let’s blame that on the anti-vaccination folks.

What was the best thing you bought?
2014 was not a year of big or memorable purchases. It probably does not count because I didn’t have to pay anything for it but getting a library card was the best new thing I acquired. All this time I had been buying books like a sucker and you can just take them out of the library for free! And you don’t have to get mad about spending money on books you didn’t like or worry about overflowing bookshelves.

Oh, also I got my own sleeping bag! I didn’t buy it myself either, it was a birthday present from Douze. But I think it’s an important thing to have if you want to be #outdoorsy.

Whose behaviour merited celebration?
My baby brother, Mike. It has been so cool to watch him from afar as he grew up into a funny, kind and thoughtful man and became a husband. He is so settled and happy, and I’m happy for him and so proud to be his sister.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
All of the Oilers. Yearly trend: the answer to this question is always hockey related.

IMG_4672

Where did most of your money go?
Rent and paying off debt, bills, borrrrrring.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My new job! And all the fun camping trips I got to go on this summer.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

IMG_2495

IMG_3743

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

What songs will always remind you of 2014?
Shake it Off
All About That Bass

Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • Happier or Sadder?
    Happier!
  • Thinner or Fatter?
    Thinner! I will elaborate a bit on this one because a few people have asked me about it. At the start of 2014, I was working in a job that had a gym right downstairs from my office. My coworkers were all down there working out every single day. I started going to the gym on my lunch break because of peer pressure and convenience. Those two things were enough to get me through the really terrible first few weeks of exercise where everything hurts and it’s not fun. Eventually I got to a place where I enjoyed being in the gym. One of the amazing perks of my new job is that I get a staff membership at the Y. So after a year of consistently working out and doing my best to eat healthy (but still drink beer and eat French fries sometimes), I’m a few clothing sizes smaller than I was last year. I still feel like I have a long way to go—I’m not an athlete and I’m not going to be running a marathon anytime soon. But I can now spend an entire day walking around exploring a new city or haul my butt up a moderately sized mountain without feeling like I’m going to drop dead. And I think that’s good progress.
  • Richer or Poorer?
    A very tiny bit richer. And by that I mean I have paid off some debt and managed to save a little bit. I still live in Vancouver and work for a non-profit organization though so let’s be serious, I’m not buying a house any time soon.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing. You may have noticed that I’ve fallen off the face of the blogosphere in the past six months. There are some days when I miss blogging, and I hope I have more time to do it in 2015. One of my big life dreams is to write a book. I think this year is a good time to start on that.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worrying about things that are beyond my control and watching Oilers games.

How will you be spending Christmas?
I got to spend an entire week in Edmonton with my family for Christmas this year. We had a very quiet Christmas and I didn’t leave the house much or get out of my pajamas. But I did finish reading two whole books and helped my mom with the mammoth New York Times crossword puzzle, so I accomplished something. As per Miller Family Christmas tradition, we had a Band of Brothers marathon. Sadly, this year we only made it to The Last Battle (ironically, that’s only episode 8).

Did you fall in love in 2014?
No. One day, I hope! Maybe 2014 2015 will be the year.

What was your favourite TV program?
New Girl, Downton Abbey, Hart of Dixie and all of the British mystery shows on Netflix.

What was the best book you read?
I read a lot of good books this year so it’s hard to narrow it down. But here are the two that stick out:

  • The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton – I read a few of her books this year and they were all good, but this one was the best. I did not see the ending coming and literally said, “NO WAY!” to myself out loud.
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I loved the characters in this book, and it was such a unique way to tell a story. Plus WWII era fiction is my fav.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I cannot think of a single new band or artist that I got really into this year. Isn’t that sad? Luckily, a lot of good albums (from old favourites) came out towards the end of the summer and into the fall. I was already into Taylor Swift, but this year everyone else fell in love with her too. Everyone knows the words to Shake it Off, or at least knows enough of them to make up the rest. Ryan Adams and Brooke Fraser released new albums. My most listened to album from 2014 was Rivers in the Wasteland by NeedtoBreathe.

What did you want and get?
A new job! Praise.

What did you want and not get?
A new pair of boots, a trip to Oregon, a boyfriend, a new tv. There’s always next year!

What was your favourite film of this year?
Every year with this question I have to rack my brain for movies I just loved. The Grand Budapest Hotel was delightful and probably my favourite Wes Anderson film to date. I also really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy and Mocking Jay.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
My birthday this year was the big, scary 30th. My actual birthday was on a Tuesday and I went out for dinner at the Flying Pig with some of my favourite people. Ariana got me a giant, beauty queen sized bouquet of flowers with lots of Gerbera Daisies and I wish they could have lasted forever. Tiff got me a framed version of this photo and I got real bossy and made everyone write something on the back of it.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Because I’m so outdoorsy now, I wanted to go on a camping trip with all my friends to celebrate this milestone birthday. Tiff (with a little bit of help from Zach & Josh) planned a camping weekend at Jones Lake. It was nice of them to do, because trip/event planning is one of the top five things that stress me out (other list items include financial planning, having to make quick decisions and going to big parties). Unfortunately it rained the entire time, but I still had fun. And it was so beautiful out there! I want to go back when it is sunny.

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 5 preset

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If the Oilers had made the playoffs.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Sale Rack Special.

What kept you sane?
Jesus, a few good friends, and time by myself.

Which celebrity or public figure did you fancy the most?
Tom Branson from Downton Abbey, duh.
Also the kicker for the Seahawks is kind of dreamy.

What political issue stirred you the most?
I do care about politics a little and I probably lean more to the right than most in Vancouver. I’m from Alberta ok? Those roots run deep. I stood in line outside for an hour to vote in the last civic election and was deeply disappointed that Vision Vancouver swept everything, again. However, I don’t think I got super up-in-arms about any one issue. I watched the events unfold in Ferguson and New York with sadness and empathy. I paid attention to the world’s response to ISIS (if you want to understand that whole business I highly recommend this article). And I asked my smarter, well-informed friends a lot of questions to try to understand everything. But I didn’t chain myself to a tree, sign any petitions or join a protest movement.

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Who did you miss?
My family and Douze.

Who was the best new person you met?
My new boss Kelly! To be honest, I wish I could list all of my new co-workers here but rules are I have to pick one. Kelly is very smart and hardworking, and I’ve already learned a ton from her in the short time I’ve worked with her. We are totally different personalities, but we get along great. She thinks I’m funny and I am awed by her confidence and the way she can consider an issue from every angle. I’m so thankful to be in this job. Not only is the work great, my co-workers are incredible.

IMG_4654

Here we are with our CEO in the middle of his 44km fundraising walk, just before Christmas.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014?
God is kind, patient with us, and he answers prayers. Last year one of my hopes for 2014 was that I would know and believe in the goodness of God. And I think over the course of the year he has shown me.

Right before Christmas last year, I found out that I didn’t get a job I had applied for that I was sure I was going to. It all seemed perfect, it seemed like God had opened all the doors for me. I thought I had heard him speak to me about it. I was totally crushed and angry. I couldn’t believe that He would put me through that. It seemed mean and I had a hard time trusting that he actually loved me and had good things for me.

We had a sermon series at our church this fall called Story, where we went through the lives of men and women in the Old Testament. When we were studying the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, one of the questions was, “if the story ended differently and Daniel was eaten by the lions, would God be any less powerful, good or holy?” The obvious, Sunday-school answer is no. Of course God’s goodness is not dependent on us—our circumstances or our limited definition of goodness. He IS goodness, the very definition of it. But when it comes down to it and you are waiting on something, or things turns out differently than you expect the answer is a little less obvious.

One year later, I am in a totally different place spiritually and emotionally. That job fell through, but another one came along that I was even more suited to. God was infinitely patient with me in my doubting, kind to me in my hurting, and ultimately had a different, better plan than mine. He heard and answered my prayers at the right time. I know that there will be more times in my life where I doubt God’s goodness, but I think that my faith and understanding of God’s character is a little deeper than it was last year. Next time I hope I can look back and remember this year of experiencing his goodness and kindness towards me in Jesus.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

Be the wheels, not the track
Be the wanderer that’s coming back
Leave the past right where it’s at
Be more heart, less attack

I stuck my hat out, I caught the raindrops
I drank the water, I felt my veins block
I’m nearly sanctified, I’m nearly broken
I’m down the river to where I’m going

More Heart, Less Attack by Needtobreathe

——

For Auld Lang Syne’s sake here are the posts from 2010, 2011 and 2012 and 2013

Whatever happened to predictability?

Remember when I used to blog? Me too. How do those blogger girls do it? Where do they find the time? The sad truth is that I don’t have much time or creative energy for writing these days. Work is taking up my whole brain. It’s probably a good thing, but I do miss it. The writing, not my brain. My brain is still sloshing around up there somewhere.

Speaking of writing! I entered an essay contest in the summer. I had to write an essay about my story with Vancouver. If you would like to read it you can find it online here. And then once you’ve read it please vote for me and share it around with ALL your friends and distant relatives.

This type of self-promotion makes me cringe, just so you know. My usual mindset whenever I hit “publish” on something is that I’ve written it for myself. If no one but my Mom reads it, great. But… I did enter the contest so I should probably tell people this time, right?

What else have I been up to since you last heard from me? Travelling to foreign countries and getting sick!

Last Friday I packed up work early and flew to San Francisco with a small crew of friends to visit Colin who recently moved there. We made it exactly one month without him. (Note: I apologize for Josh’s rude hand gesture in the following photo)

The trip started off great, we stuck to Mennonite seating arrangements on the plane and had a boys against girls race to finish the crossword puzzle in the in-flight magazine. The boys won, I’m so ashamed to admit. The stewardess gave them a chocolate bar and some twizzlers as a prize. They were more excited about the opportunity to gloat and sing the All I Do is Win song. Colin picked us up from the airport and the guys were so excited to be reunited. See:

Adorable, right? We went out for dinner in Oakland that first night and that’s where all the trouble started for me. In Americah, they ask you how you want your burgers cooked. I said, “Medium-Well?” and when it came it was more like blue rare. But I ate it anyway because it was dark in there and I couldn’t really tell the difference. Plus I was too hungry to send food back. Big mistake.

IMG_4058

I woke up at about 5:30 the next morning and my stomach was all in knots. I’ll spare you all the gory details, but let’s just say I’m now well acquainted with Colin’s bathroom floor.

I was faced with two options: stay at the apartment all day and spend my whole time in San Francisco sick watching American Netflix, or power through and see the city. I chose power through. It was a little rocky at first. I very nearly threw up on the train into the city and the first 20 minutes or so walking around I spent clinging to my Peppermint tea for dear life. But slowly the fresh air got into my system and I started feeling better. I managed to eat a banana mid-morning and a small garden salad at lunch.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

On Saturday we walked. And walked and walked. We climbed up and down telegraph hill. We walked to and around Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. We walked up to Ghirardelli Square. We walked up more hills to the zig zag street. And then when we were all tuckered out we walked all the way back to the BART station. To be honest, it’s a bit of a miracle that I made it through without being completely miserable (I wasn’t, I promise).


^^^ The closest we got to Alcatraz

Processed with VSCOcam with lv03 preset


^^^ “How We Think Stuff Works” – Piano Key Stairs edition

a store for Colin's people.
^^^ We found a store for Colin’s people.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

It was a cool way to see the city, because we walked through a bunch of the residential areas that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. San Fran is beautiful and there is so much to do and see that it’s a bit overwhelming. I’d love to go back and explore some of the neighbourhoods a bit more, shop and check out some of the millions of places to eat.


^^^ Actual sign on the wall of the Ghirardelli factory.

On the train on the way back to Oakland, Krystle & I made friends with an old lady named Virginia who was a total riot. She gave us unsolicited life advice and told us which of the guys we should date (Dave was her favourite). Another older lady on her way home from the Giants game sat down next to Virginia halfway through our trip and joined our conversation. She pointed at Colin and asked if he was with us, when we said yes her eyes got all wide and she nodded in approval, ”Hmmm. Good, GOOD!” she said. Riding the BART was a cultural experience. The best people watching, random conversations, and high pitched train noises. Highly recommend.

Saturday night we drove up into the hills above Berkley and watched the sunset over the whole bay. It was beautiful. The photos don’t really do it justice. You could see all of SF with the Golden Gate bridge poking out from the clouds in the distance. ”Mmm. California. Beautiful.”

IMG_4036

Late on Saturday night my stomach problems returned and by Sunday morning I was back hogging the bathroom, not sure if I’d be able to rally. Being sick is no fun regardless of where you are—but being sick whilst sharing one bathroom with five other people is a whole other thing. My friends took great care of me, were sympathetic and wonderful about it. They altered plans to make things a bit easier for me on Sunday and kept me laughing most of the time even though I felt rotten.

Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

After church we went for a driving tour of the beaches and the Golden Gate Bridge instead of biking as we’d originally planned. In the end we probably had a better view of the bridge and it was less crowded than if we’d biked. We ate lunch at this amazing Mexican restaurant in Sausalito. You guys, tacos are my favourite food and I couldn’t even eat any. All I had was a Squirt and a bowl of soup. Life is hard.

Processed with VSCOcam with s1 preset

All things considered, it was a good weekend. San Francisco is a cool town and I’d love to go back and explore more. I still want to see the Full House house and do an Alcatraz tour. Still, we managed to see and do a lot in 48 hours. And it was so good to see Colin again. I’m sure we’ll all be back sometime soon. But I suspect I will stay away from the burgers.

Strength for today and bright Hope for tomorrow

Yesterday was my birthday. Every year, when my birthday comes around it feels like the official end of summer. A fixed point on the calendar telling me, “You’re another year older now, time to put your shorts away and start real life!” This birthday in particular felt like an ending point. Not only is the summer drawing to a close, but so are my 20s.

The strange thing about age milestones is that you reach them and then you go on living your life like normal. I don’t feel any more mature or wise or old than I did on Monday. I don’t suddenly feel 30. I’m not about to buy a rocking chair or start eating bridge mix or switch to transition lenses. I do feel ready to grow up and I’m excited for what this next year of life might hold. September will be very different from past years, with a new job and brand new routines to get into. So many people in my life are going through big, exciting changes. Life goes on. And on and on.

People have asked me what my favourite part of my birthday was. It’s hard to nail it down to one thing. I loved hearing my brother’s voice all the way from Brazil singing Happy Birthday in that funny way my Mom used to sing to us when we were kids. I loved getting a beauty-queen sized bouquet of my favourite flowers (gerbera daisies) from Ariana. I loved the home-made nutella ice cream that Bethany made me. I loved waking up to a whole bunch of birthday text messages sent before 8am. I loved the framed photo that Tiff gave me, which I then made everyone sign like a yearbook (I loved that they all humoured me and did it because it was my birthday). I loved having a nice dinner with some of the people I love the most. I loved hearing from my family and Douze. And I loved that I got to tell them all how much I love them!

IMG_3659.JPG

I have a lot to be grateful for. God has been good to me in my 29 years. There’s a line in that old hymn, Great is Thy Faithfulness that goes, “Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow/blessings all mine with ten thousand beside” and it is so true. Not only has he given me strength and hope and the greatest gift in the history of ever, but I am blown away by all the other blessings and grace he gives me on a minute by minute basis. Mainly I am thankful that He has given me so many amazing people—friends and family and friends who are like family—that I get to walk through life with.

I don’t know what my 30s will bring. There will probably be a lot of good memories, some hard lessons, tears, laughs, joy, suffering and a whole ton of changes…just like in my 20s. My prayer is that I can walk through them in faith and obedience, a little more outdoorsy and grounded in who I am in Christ. And I hope I come out on the other side knowing and loving God more than I do now.

On the morning of my 30th birthday, I sat at my table and read through Psalm 139. When I flipped over the photo that Tiff had given me, she’d tacked the same psalm onto the back.

You know me inside and out,

you know every bone in my body;

You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

how I was sculpted from nothing into something.

Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;

all the stages of my life were spread out before you,

The days of my life all prepared

before I’d even lived one day.

-Psalm 139 (The Message)

IMG_3668.JPG

Extreme Wilderness Glamping

Apologies for the way-later blog. I just started a new job and it’s beautiful out. Between working and world cup and patio nights who even as time for the internet anymore, amiright?

For the July long weekend Jenn, Raur and I took off to the Okanagan for the girliest camping trip of all time. We are talking luxury glamping with flush toilets, showers and a picnic table. Jenn even painted her nails.

Processed with VSCOcam with 10 preset

Prior to leaving, some of our supportive male friends expressed doubt that we would be able to plan and execute a camping trip without them. They were totally wrong. We just needed to borrow all their stuff.

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

We stayed at Okanagan Lake South Provincial Park. There was one magical spot left open to reserve online when we checked the week before we left. Pro camping tip: make your reservations earlier than that. The attendant in charge of registration and fun activities (bike decorating) was delighted to see us when we got there because apparently I, “sound like a purple flower”. She was a hoot. Now, when I say glamping, it really means that we were roughing it compared with our fellow campers in the campground. There were family reunions with giant trucks and RVs on either side of us and our next door neighbours had a full size barbeque. My little car looked so out of place.

Processed with VSCOcam with 10 preset

The only glitch we had was due to a small communication error regarding the borrowed camp stove. We ended up in the wilderness without the hose that attaches to the propane. Oops. In the end it didn’t matter too much because we found a good coffee shop in Summerland and managed to cook the rest of our meals over the camp fire. We ate a lot of hot dogs on this trip.

Processed with VSCOcam with 10 preset

Jenn and I got very good at building fires. And we even managed to make popcorn one night. These are important wilderness skills.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 10 preset

We spent a lot of time at the beach, ate a ton of cherries and visited a couple of wineries. I came back tanned and relaxed and ready to start a brand new job (!). Another successful round of Sarah’s #outdoorsy Adventures. Thanks for caring about my vacation photos, guys.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with 4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with se3 preset

IMG_2979

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 preset

Book Club-Weekend Update

Ok guys, I have not been faithful with these book club updates and I know there are probably two of you who care about what I’m reading. Sorry.

On-Beauty-book-cover

Last week I finished On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I went back and forth about how many stars to give this one on goodreads and finally settled on three, I think. It was incredibly well written and full of subtle dry humor, which is my favorite.

“He was bookish, she was not; he was theoretical, she political. She called a rose a rose. He called it an accumulation of cultural and biological constructions circulating around the mutually attracting binary poles of nature/artifice.”

My major complaint with it is that the characters never developed. They were complex and interesting fictional people but they kept making terrible, selfish decisions and then not learning anything from them. When I read the last page I literally thought, “What was the point of all that?” I guess you could make the argument that sometimes real life is like that, but who wants to invest in a bunch of fictional characters for 400 pages only to find them just as arrogant and self-centred at the end of the book as they were at the beginning? Not me.

Side note: so many people I talked to about this book were like, Oh! That’s a novel!?” because it has the kind of title you’d expect from a cheesy Christian Women’s Book.

I also listened to the audio book of Divergent on the way to and from camping last month. The thing with audio books is that when someone else is reading a book to you it totally affects your opinion of the whole story. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed this more or less if I was reading it myself. I didn’t like it as much as the Hunger Games, but it was still entertaining. The premise—that in the future, humanity separates themselves into five factions based on virtues they hold to be the most valuable—seemed a little more far fetched to me than 12 districts separated by industry and oppressed by a rich upper class.

At the risk of sounding super old, I will tell you the thing that really struck me with this book (and the Hunger Games too, for that matter) was how much violence is in books aimed at teenagers/young adults nowadays. They left a lot of the more violent parts out of the movie, probably so they could keep it PG-13. Because I have an overactive imagination, I find it harder to read about violent things than see them played out on screen. Despite a guy getting his eye stabbed out with a fork halfway through, it was a decent book and worth reading. I was also super impressed when I found out the author was 21 or something when she wrote it. It kept me entertained for a ton of hours driving through the mountains.

I’m headed off to the Okanagan for the long weekend and planning to take The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton with me. Do you think I can read it in four days? Might be a tad ambitious but I’ll try my best. We’re not planning on doing much except for sitting on the beach but I need to make time allowances for things like visiting a winery or trying out paddle boarding. If I do finish it though, I will finally be done all of the books I bought in Oregon last summer. And it will only have taken me one year! Not bad.

Today is my last day of work at UBC. I can’t wait to head out of town and turn my phone off for a few days before I start my new job next week. I hope you have the best of long weekends.

Like it’s your job

I have been job hunting for four years. That is not me hyperbolizing or embellishing for dramatic effect. It has been four long years of writing cover letters and sending applications off into the void. Four years of wondering why no one is interested in working with me, and if there is something wrong with me. Four years of reading online articles full of bleak statistics about how under-employed most university graduates are to make myself feel better (it never worked). Four years of contracts and temping and filing and scheduling pest control (gross) and answering phones. Four years of tear-filled and frustrated conversations with my nearest and dearest people.

I know that in the grand scheme of pain and suffering, this is small potatoes. And I know that it’s a common story. There were a lot of good things in those four years too; I don’t want to make it sound like life was completely awful. But there were a lot of days when it felt enormous, and like I was the only one who ever had to walk through something like this. Sometimes I would look around at my friends with successful, well-paying jobs who are good at everything and feel like a total misfit loser. I am sad to say that there were times when I doubted God’s goodness.

Looking back it’s easy to see where God was in everything. But when you are in the middle of it, it takes faith and trust and I didn’t always have it. Some days it came easy and some days it felt like climbing a mountain with an elephant strapped to my back. But I learned and I kept walking forward and He established my steps. 

There are so many things I had always abstractly believed to be true about God that I know are true now. I know that He knows my every need and will provide for them all. I know that I can cast my anxieties on Him because he cares for me. I know that he really is near to the brokenhearted. I know that I can hold fast to Him because he is faithful and fulfills his promises. I also learned that when I don’t have faith, I can ask for it and he will help me in my unbelief. I learned what it means to receive grace upon grace (upon grace, upon grace). I learned that God doesn’t work in everyone in the same way, and I can’t compare my life with others—because what is that to me? And I learned that a job is just a job. It doesn’t define who I am or what my life is all about. My life is hid with Christ on high. 

This week is my last week of admin work. I got hired by a wonderful organization where I can write and communicate and do things I am good at—a place where I can invest in my work. I am so excited and happy and thankful and I don’t even know what to do with myself. Maybe I’ll go run around the block or shout from the rooftops or something. But I don’t want to forget the four years in the wilderness. There will be more times in my life where I have to go through hard things, or walk through hard seasons with people I care about. I may even have to learn some of these same lessons over (and over) again. I’m thankful that God will always be the same through everything: sovereign, faithful, steadfast, loving and good. And I wouldn’t trade knowing Him for a thousand dream jobs.

To those who wait

You can get so confused

that you’ll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…

 

…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or waiting around for a Yes or a No

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

 

You know that Dr. Seuss book, Oh the Places You’ll Go!? It’s the favorite Seuss volume of graduates everywhere. Someone gave me a copy when I graduated from high school, and I’ve thought about this part a lot over the (many) years since. The Waiting Place.  I have spent a lot of my 20s in the waiting place, and it was good to remember these rhymes every so often and feel like it was normal to be waiting.

But I have a bone to pick with the good Doctor.  Because I don’t think that The Waiting Place is useless.

I wouldn’t trade my time in The Waiting Place. The Waiting Place is where we are refined. It’s where we cry out and wrestle and suffer. It’s where we are taught patience.  We learn to hope in God while we wait.  We see his goodness and faithfulness to us as he responds to our cries of frustration and heartache. We learn to be still and know that he is God here. Life is lived in The Waiting Place, where we hope for what we do not yet see and wait for it with patience.  

Or not. And if we don’t then I guess we really are just waiting for a bus to come or a plane to go. Or waiting around for a Yes or No.  

What are you waiting for?

20140618-105102-39062624.jpg

Predictions

On New Year’s Eve Raurie, Tiff, Jenn and I sat around our table and made predictions for 2014. We shared a bottle of red wine and laughed until we cried as we wrote down hopes and dreams for the coming year.

Last night I reached into my bookshelf for a new notebook because I had filled up the one I was using. I grabbed one that Tiff had given me for Christmas and the note pages of predictions slipped out. I read through them again. They were hilarious and more outlandish than I remember—it must have been the wine. None of them have come true yet, but there’s still time.

There are changes in the air, I can feel it. A deep sense in my bones that God is stirring, moving, working. This summer will not be the same as the last. It’s time to grow up. As I turned the page in that notebook I thought about all the words I would fill it with and all the words that came before. Prayers that have been answered and are being answered and will be answered. Lessons that He is writing between the lines. And I wondered how many things we’d be able to cross off the list when we sat down together next New Year’s Eve.