February 18, 2013

Two-Oh-One-Two in Review

2012 was my FAVOURITE year so far, but I say that about every year that passes.

My First Day of 2012 was spent in Church leading a Children's Story about putting God FIRST in our lives. It was the first day, of the first week, of the first month of the year. It was the first day to put God first in our lives for 2012.

There were many firsts in 2012.
In 2012 for the first time I:

Made a clock
Drove on PEI
Helped take a bunch of teens to the United States.
Met the former Newsboys: Phil Joel & Peter Furler->
Won a radio contest
Learned to Crochet
Ate free samples at Costco
Witnessed my good friends Laura Lyons, Emily, Joy, and others graduate.
Visited 6 different Countries in one year (Canada, USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Czech Republic)
Travelled by myself
Moved out of my first apartment
Left the continent
Went to a friend's wedding in Fredericton-------------------------->
Tried biking to work
Biked to work
Organized a church Worship Team
Tried Alcohol
Slept in the same room as a reptile bigger than my arm.
Took a university level Biology course
Started a phone and an internet contract
Wrote devotionals for youth group events
Saw movies such as "The Help," "Mirror Mirror," "The Hobbit," and "Taken 2" in theatre.
Witnessed my friends Erin, Liz, and Dan go through the waters of baptism
Won a t-shirt in a draw at a presentation
Ran in an organized race
Helped to plan and lead a youth retreat
Bought a boat (an inflatable one, but still!)
Went to Grand Manan ---------------------------------->
Sewed my own pair of footie pyjamas
Asked a professor for a reference letter
Drove a standard (not well, mind you)
Learned to play the ukulele 
Went for coffee with someone I didn't know
Had my friends AmandaMelissa, and Emily over for supper
Started a blog!
Picked out and purchased eyewear all by myself
Adopted two ADORABLE pigs
Restored an old piece of furniture
Took a university level Calculus course ------------------------>
Had something done at a tattoo shop
Ate a homemade peanut buttercup
Browsed AND shopped at IKEA
Completed every course offered by Msgr Henneberry
Read a Harry Potter book for a university class
Drove to church in Fredericton
Gave my best "Children's Stories"
Was part of a group Halloween costume--------------->

And most importantly...

I kept a "New Year's Resolution" for the ENTIRE YEAR. That's right folks, I read about 4 chapters of the bible every single day of 2012, and all but a few of those days have journal entries.

My Last Day of of 2012 was spent in the Czech Republic, walking around Prague watching spontaneous shows of fireworks, and sleeping in a car at a well-lit rest stop. I couldn't have asked for a better year.

February 15, 2013


Today is February 15.
Today is Day 3 of Lent. 
Today I will not eat meat. 
Today I will not put bacon on my breakfast sandwich.
Today marks the longest I've ever gone without eating meat.
Today is a good day to reflect on why I am participating in Lent.

It wasn't until my first year of university that I started getting asked what I was giving up for Lent. People around me were shocked when they heard I was a Christian who was not giving something up for Lent. I felt compelled to jumped on the band wagon, but this year it's about so much more. 

In my first year of university I gave up the use of certain words, you know, such as using "hate" for simple things, "love" for silly things, and any and all form of swear words. It was a pretty easy thing to do. I don't think I really knew what Lent was about. 

In my second year I gave up not reading the bible everyday. I can't remember if I actually read from God's Word everyday or not, but again, I'm not sure if I really knew why I was doing what I was doing. A great friend of mine gave up meat for Lent this year, and I chuckled thinking, "I love God, but I'd never do that, that's absurd."

In my third year of university I gave up a simple sin that was holding me back from God. I know that I held true to my commitment for the whole 40 days, and for every day after that. I started to understand that it was less about an answer to people's questions, and more about finding a practical way to focus on God in the days leading up to Easter. It wasn't about announcing to the world what I'm giving up for Lent. 

THIS YEAR is the year. I get it! I know what's going on! For the three months leading up to February I prayed about the season of Lent. Participating in the season of Lent is so much more than just giving up a habit, it is seriously preparing our hearts for Easter through prayer, time in God's Word, and worship. I thought for a long time about what I should be doing to prepare my heart for Easter. I decided that I could benefit from giving up a habit, and well, ladies and gentleman, it was pretty clear to me that meat was what I should give up. Meat is in almost everything that I eat, it is my favourite food group, and it is part of my everyday life. By giving up meat I am consciously inviting God into a key part of my life: my diet. I think of God when I make my grocery list, when I'm offered food, when I'm at a restaurant, when I'm cooking, when I'm flipping through the flyer, and when I'm eating. That's a lot of time! I'm going to go right until Easter without eating meat, and that way when I do celebrate easter dinner I'll be so much more thankful for the meals with meat that God provides. I'm learning that my main energy source does in fact come from above, and that if God can become part of my every dietary decision, it may help me to be one step closer to talking with him about EVERY decision. 

Lent is one of the earliest Christian "holiday" traditions. It's almost 1800 years old! Lent was officially declared to start on Ash Wednesday by Gregory the Great, the guy Gregorian Chant was named after! This whole thing may not seem like it's a "baptist" thing to do, but hey, it's not about denomination it's about dedication.

February 9, 2013

Eat Well. Live Well.

Bags, Boxes, Cups, Straws, Napkins, Packets, Wrappers, Cardboard Containers.

"It's cheaper."
"It's quicker."
"I don't know how to cook."

I roll my eyes to EACH of these statements. If you plan and prepare it right, eating in saves a lot of cash and trash, is tremendously faster, and is MUCH better for you. The last three weeks have been really quite life changing for me. This semester of school is much slower paced than the last, so I'm able to strategize on living the way I want to live. One of the first steps I have taken to living well is Eating Well.

Here are my top ten ways to Eat Well.

All of those favourite recipes that are your favourites...get them. I'm sure for your well being, Mom will go over with you how to make the meals, what foods to buy, and her secrets of your favourite dishes. PLUS you'll get to call Mom. Nothing beats that! But if calling mom isn't an option, don't fret, my friends, there's always the youtube!

When you are at the mall and you are hungry, just say no. You can come home to a warm home cooked meal in your crock pot. It's as simple as that. A friend wants to go out for supper? Invite them over and unthaw..wait for it...2 pieces of lasagna. I'm a bit biased on this one, because I don't like going out to eat. I don't like spending money on food that may or may not be tasty. I don't like the long waiting time, uncomfortable chairs, and as a picky eater I'm either embarrassed by all the changes I request in my order, or I'm extremely disapointed when I find an icky item (like onion) on my food when it's not in the menu description.

Seriously, the low sodium options are always better. Especially with salad dressings, I'm what they call a picky eater, yet I can't tell the difference in taste or texture, so buying the low fat dressings are a great option. I'm always on the watch for when ground turkey goes in sale too, because it is a great alternative to greasy ground beef.
(Mind you, turkey bacon is never a substitute for the real thing).

Every week I have the Sobey's flyer e-mailed to me, but if that's not your fancy then go to your driveway and pick up that paper bundle of joy. Seriously, I can save a good 20 dollars a week just by perusing the flyers. What's on sale can determine my meals for the week. Do your research, it really pays off to spend 5 minutes Flipping. Also, if you're a student make Tuesday your grocery day, because saving 10% is awesome.

I know it sounds dorky, but using a calculator when I shop can actually help me a lot. Don't worry, you can pretend to be texting while you use the calculator application on your phone. By using a calculator you can find out if the big yellow sticker price is actually a good deal or not. If crackers are 3/$5.00 at Walmart, and BuyOneGetOne at Sobeys, you can use the magic of a calculator to compare!

So you're in a store and they have shelves filled with a favourite food of yours, but it's not on sale. Don't be tempted, don't buy it. Chances are the shelves are overfilled with it, because it will go on sale in a few days. It's nice to splurge once in a while, but if it's an item you use often, then wait for it to go on sale and then stock up. I also support the lame option of getting a rain check. When my favourite cheese is on sale, but not on the shelf I get a rain check for 4 blocks so that I can come back at my leisure and get half price cheese.

What ever you make, make it big. Every Saturday I set aside about an hour and I make a big batch of food. One weekend was Chili, one weekend was Stew, last weekend was turkey soup, and this weekend was Lasagna. Making a large amount is cheaper and saves more time than making food everyday. Don't forget dessert! All of these tips apply for dessert. Restaurant and fastfood desserts are extremely overpriced for what they are. If you make a big batch of dessert, freeze it, or store it, then you just might be satisfied. Today I was about to reach for the packet of Subway cookies when I remembered that I had homemade score bar bites in the fridge. mmm mmmm.

Seriously if you have a crock pot, you don't even have to endure the 2 minut microwave wait. It takes at least 10 minutes to drive, order, and wait for fast food. Plus, the amazing aromas will really make you feel at home.

To make it more convient than fast food try freezing parts of your big batch of food. In the morning I'll grab a frozen ziplock bag or plastic container of food, and either let it defrost until meal time, or I stick it in my crock pot. Also, when freezing meats, it helps to divide it into portions. For example when I buy packages of bacon, I cut the strips in half and freeze 6-8 mini strips in a bag, that way I can just unzip it and throw it in a frying pan when I want just enough for a breakfast or club sandwich.

Whether cooking in the kitchen, roaming through the asiles, or flipping through the flyer...make it fun! Play music while you cook! Make a game out of grocery shopping, maybe by seeing how close you can get to your budget without going over! And try drawing pictures instead of writing out a grocery list. What ever you do, make it fun, and make it work for you.

 I promise that if you put in a little effort planning and prepping, 
you can eat fast, inexpensively, and most importantly: well.

February 6, 2013


For those who do not know: I really, really, really, really like surprises, like a lot. I like surprising people AND I like being surprised. I like that feeling of anticipation when someone is about to experience a secret surprise I have given them, whether it is a random note of encouragement, or even a surprise visit! My life has been very surprise filled lately, and it continues to be so.

Two weekends ago I arranged a surprise trip home for the weekend. My mom and my grandparents AND my church family were ALL surprised.

Yesterday I received a supercool notebook in the mail. 
It combines six of my favourite things: 
homemade items from Etsy,

I think the thing I enjoyed most of all was the anonymity. Not knowing who sent a gift gives me these butterflies in my stomach that tell me that I am loved. I am loved by someone, somewhere in the world, who cares enough to send me a personalized gift. How cool is that?!?

After an exhausting week of leading a Bible Day Camp this summer, I checked my church mailbox and found this anonymous note. It has been pinned up on my wall ever since. I wasn't running the camp for a reward, but this tiny piece of encouragement was the best thing I could have received. Even writing about it brings a few tears. 

Surprises and Encouragement are reciprocal acts of kindness. I learned this through the letters of encouragement I sent anonymously to an old friend who was on a longish-term mission adventure two years ago. I unintentionally ended up being changed by the words I wrote to her. 

I know that I still have some surprises to receive. I have no idea where I'll be working this summer, what school I will be attending next year, or where I'll be living in seven months. I'm choosing to look at these as surprises, not stresses, and I hope you do too!  

I have titled this post "Sur-Prize" because I think that random acts of kindness, and encouragement are really the prizes that are over and above all the rest. I'll leave you with a bible verse that I usually sign at the end of notes and letters.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing" (1 Thessalonians 5:11). 

February 4, 2013


Last week my favourite professor asked the class to find a partner. (I panicked)
She then told us that the partner must be someone we have never met before. (AHHHH)
It was okay, I breathed, remembered I was wearing my favourite sweater, and tried to ignore the pestering thought of "the one day I don't shower."

Thankfully there was a girl sitting beside me who initiated a conversation and we became partners. The task was simple, we were to make assumptions about our partner based on 8 questions. I've placed her assumptions in parentheses. 

1. Is your partner from Fredericton or from away?                 (Away)
2. What is your partner majoring in?                                     (English, or Journalism)
3. Is your partner single or in a relationship?                         (Single)
4. Does your partner have any children?                               (No)
5. Does your partner have a pet?                                         (yes, maybe a cat?)
6. What does your partner drive?                                         (Small car)
7. What kind of living situation does your partner have?         (Apartment, roommates)
8. What else can you assume?                                            (Favourite color is purple)

Strangely enough, my partner and I made assumptions that were very close to actual fact. 
Aside from the fact that cat is listed instead of 2 precious piggies, my partner was able to guess everything correctly. I think it is incredibly cool that how I present myself in a classroom setting isn't any different from the way I look, speak, and act in every other situation in my life. It could be that my partner was just an excellent guesser, but I think it might demonstrate, if even a tiny bit, that my life is in tune. I think that's pretty cool.