Thursday, December 22, 2005

Annie and Augustine.

I am home!

Christine, Navy Dan, Daniel and Rachel met me at the airport with bells on. Literally. And Bacardi, since I’m a drinker now. Since then, I’ve picked up both of my parents from the airport. Our family is slowly piecing itself back together again. We await my sister, Sarah, who will return from India on the 28th, which has become our family’s Christmas Day this year.

I’ve been spending most of my time with friends and family, going to concerts and services and hotels and movie theatres and shopping malls, and preparing for the Christmas Eve services. It surprised me how quickly I slipped back into the familiarity of this setting. I wish I could keep appreciating this place and these people every moment of the day, remembering how much I missed all of them. I need to work at that. It just feels too much like normal. It’s the most natural thing in the world to wake up and come downstairs and eat breakfast with my family, to go hang out with Chris for the day. Maybe that’s a good thing. But just a few weeks ago, I was desperate for it, I would have given anything for it. So I don’t want to take any of it for granted. Especially because there is a mouse back in Vancouver waiting for me, who has somehow chewed up a sticky trap. Can you believe it? What a genius, that Melba.

Tonight some friends of mine planned a second annual caroling at the hospital trip. It was tons of fun, we sounded superb, and we made a lot of people cry. I hope the crying was a good, nostalgic, appreciative crying and not a “you sound so bad I can’t stand it” crying. But I think it was the first type. Because we even had parts and different times of entry in “O Holy Night”, thanks to Cam’s coordination and clever cueing.

Speaking of crying, perhaps I should tell you a rather embarrassing story from the plane ride here. I had this excellent idea to do nothing on the plane ride, as a sort of object lesson in waiting, in the spirit of Advent. Well we were stuck on the runway for quite a while, and the whole “waiting” thing was getting really old. So I pulled out “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” and started reading. I have been reading this book ever so slowly, and I’m not sure why, because it’s seriously my favorite book ever written. Ever read by me. Annie Dillard says everything profound I’ve ever thought about while studying science or enjoying the outdoors, and she’s more eloquent than my thoughts are. And she uses better examples than my thoughts do. She’s like a 100x better version of bioBeth.

Anyway, the big heavy metal plane finally lifted into the air, an experience that blows away my logic every time. I was reading a chapter on “Intricacy,” in which she talks about how the average caterpillar has 228 separate muscles in its head. She talks about the 2 million glomeruli we have in our kidneys: “I made them all myself, without the least effort. They’re undoubtedly my finest work.” Mostly what hit me was when she talked about the jaggedness of our planet, how a globe with bumps on it to show the mountains can’t begin to show the number of trees on each of those mountains, or the thousands of needles on those trees and the millions of little furrows on the bark of one tree. I looked out the plane window at the mountains all submerged in clouds, with clouds lapping up on them like the water around my Rock in Vancouver, and I tried to let all of that intricacy and complexity sink in. “Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery… What is man, that thou art mindful of him? This is where the great modern religions are so unthinkably radical: the love of God!” This washed over me so overwhelmingly that it made me cry, right there in the airplane. People were staring. I couldn’t stop. I felt desperate to worship this maddeningly incredible God.

Blame it on hormones, or on the emotional highs and lows of returning home, but I think that plane was some sort of a sanctuary right then – I really felt like I was meeting with a real and frighteningly transcendent, yet ultimately loving God, more powerfully than I usually do in a given worship service. Perhaps I was closer to God at that high altitude. I don’t know. What’s more, it has happened more than once; just when everything in me wants to worship, I find myself in a weird public setting. It happened when I went to see Narnia the other night. During the Stone Table part, it overwhelmed me again. It would have been enough for God to create all of that pine needle intricacy for me to discover and enjoy. But He went so much further, sacrificing Himself painfully for me, Beth, one among so many, one bundle of cells among all this detail.

Christmas seems like a weird time to be thinking about Easter, but maybe it’s not. Loren Wilkenson, one of my profs, shared this paradox-rich quote with our class on our last day of school; it’s from one of Augustine’s Christmas sermons.

Man's Maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother's breasts;
that the Bread might be hungry,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired from the journey;
that the Truth might be accused by false witnesses,
the Judge of the living and the dead be judged by a mortal judge,
Justice be sentenced by the unjust,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Vine be crowned with thorns,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might be weak,
that He who makes well might be wounded,
that Life might die.

Well, I’ll leave you with that for now. Perhaps I will post a Christmas post in the next couple days, with special returning guest Christine Kulyk, and a lot more pictures. (that’s Christmas post as in blog post, not as in the Christmas post which stands in my Vancouver house). Be sure to tune in.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The 10 lists of Christmas


Thank you for all of your prayers and e-mails. I really don’t know if I could have gotten through this past week so well without them. My parents are still in Kentucky with my grandma, they will be home soon after me. I’m mostly sad I didn’t know my grandpa better, since he lived so far away, and sad for my mom and my grandma, who are the most sad. It was a hard thing to have in the back and the front of my mind during finals. I got through all four of them, though, yesterday and today, and I even learned a thing or two, thanks to some crucial words of wisdom from Christine. If ever you need some perspective on your silly perfectionism, she’s your man. Girl. Sorry. I’m rather giddy with excitement of being done and going home and Christmas. I have run the gauntlet. It’s time to relax.

In one day and two nights, I will be home. I thought, for those of you in icy Saskatoon, I would give you a run-down of some things that might be different about me, that may have changed since I left, just so you’re forewarned. Man, do I ever like lists. What does that say about me? Does anyone know? I always make to-do lists, and sometimes I add things I’ve already accomplished just so I have the satisfaction of crossing them off. Is this psychotic? Does anyone else do this?

Without any further ado...

1. My hair looks like a mop on my head. I have not cut it in a very long while. In fact, not since I left. I didn’t want to pay for it. I didn’t want to go about the risky business of trying out a new hairdresser. I didn’t want to get my roommates to cut it with our kitchen scissors. Mostly, I was lazy. I plan to have this dealt with asap, in Saskatoon. Dawn, come back from London!

2. I have grown unaccustomed to eating at a table. Danice and I usually eat on the couch, or on the floor. Or standing up. Or we dance around the table. I have also become more accustomed to spicy, Danice-y food. Although I still sweat when I eat her curry and am forced to strip off layers of clothing.

3. I have grown very blasé when it comes to mice. Mice are a fact of life, I’ve decided. They chew through packing tape when you try to cover the hole in the wall. They set off two traps in the night, eat the bait and walk off unscathed. They give you the willies. But they’re really ok. I can deal with them for two more nights. Then I’m outta here, and the exterminator will pay us a friendly neighborhood visit.

4. I got seven piercings and a rather conspicuous tattoo. Ha. Just checking to see if you guys are still with me. No, really, I did. Yeah, they're pretty sweet. Actually, I didn’t. Just kidding. Or am I? No, I’m seriously joking. Although… never mind.

5. Fiiiive golden rings! Sorry, a little Christmas spirit slipping through.

6. I’m a drinker. I drank a whole beer one night. Just to say I did it. It was a Corona. It was a waste of a Corona. Man, beer is so gross. I really hate the taste of it. It makes me want to throw things in disgust. No matter what Danice may try to tell you about my secret beer love.

7. My brain is stuffed with random bits of 1500 years of Christian history, 2000 years of spirituality, Hebrew vocabulary and possible dates and authors of all books of the Old Testament, which I fear will slowly leak out my ears as I sit around at home. I tried stuffing my ears with cotton to prevent information seepage, but it got all caught up in several of my larger piercings. You know, the big wooden pegs they stick through your ears – that’s what I have. For real. Not even joking. Uh huh.

8. I let fancy Regent words slip out in everyday conversation sometimes. Such as: ethos, community, postmodern, contemplative, eschatological, hermeneutical, orthodox, theolog-errific, and God. And “fodder”.

9. I have become a Saskatoon and general Prairie defender. I uphold the cause of the flatlands. I make known to the general public the value of living in such a desolate place. I stand strong and firm with my fellow Saskatchewanians here at Regent. May the combines roll on, let the temperature plummet, and bring on the sky.

10. On a more serious note, I love God more. I was hoping that would happen. I love my Bible like the dickens. I love you all so much more than I ever have. Christine, Rachel, Daniel, Sarah, Mom, Dad, Jordan, Don, Jayson, Alexa, Rochelle, Robin, Sherri, Evan, Anna, Carie, Scott, Daniel, Cory, all the cell group girls, Rosemary, Denise, Christine’s mom, and anyone else in Saskatoon who is reading this – I can’t wait to talk to you. The prospect of seeing some of you the day after tomorrow makes me want to cry.

And to those of you who are reading this from Vancouver – I’ll miss you! See you in a month. Keep checking – I’ll try to update the blog once in a while with Saskatoon pictures whilst at home. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Please pray.


My grandpa died today. The next little while is going to be rough for my family. If you could take a minute to pray for us, especially my Mom and my grandma in Kentucky, I would really appreciate it.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

And a partridge in a pear tree

In the midst of a very stressful time at school, I’ve received some very unexpected, very excellent gifts. I will tell you about them. Maybe they will inspire you to give good gifts. To me.

First was the gift of a very special Christmas care package from my family, including much wonderful Christmas baking. Rachel made me a Christmas CD (because I forgot all of mine at home) and there were Christmas lights! We wrapped them around a post. Oh Christmas post, oh Christmas post, how lovely are your corners… My roommates gathered round as I pulled one delightful thing after another out of that box. Then one of them called her mother and guilted her into sending her a Christmas care package too. Tis the season for guilt.

Second was the gift of… wait for it… SNOW! You can’t even imagine how my heart leapt when I saw that snow Tuesday morning. I practically danced to the bus stop. I was prepared for a snow-less December, and then, lo and behold, it arrived! And it’s snowing again today! It is funny to see the Vancouverians dealing with it. Many of them try to use their umbrellas to protect themselves from it. My bus ride Tuesday morning included exiting the bus with about 20 other passengers, pushing the bus, and re-boarding it with a standing ovation from the rest of the people on the bus. It was great fun. Their snowploughs are the size of golf carts. How cute. The highlight for me, though, was a huge snowball fight over lunch, with about 50 Regent students participating.

Gift number three… last night. Last night was the Regent Christmas party. My friends Tora and Julia (of chili and beer night fame) planned the whole event. Tora is an ambitious music grad who transformed about twenty of us students into a chamber choir. We even sang one song in German with 6 different parts. It was incredible. I got to play piano for the carols, along with a violin, flute and French horn. Played by other people. The Gospel Choir also made its inaugural performance, with great crowd response. It was an excellent Christmasy night.

Final gift . . . This morning, a new friend of mine at Kitsilano church gave me a casserole. She heard I was busy and thought I wouldn’t have much time to cook good food. Isn’t that thoughtful? I almost started crying. What she didn’t know is that I don’t cook very good food even when I do have time.

And still in the category of the unexpected, but not really a gift… I found out an hour ago that my roommate, Eugenie, got married two days ago on the beach outside our house. Well, former roommate, I suppose. I didn’t know she was engaged. I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend. What a surprise! Congrats, Eugenie.

In other unexpected news, we have a new tenant. Melba. The Mouse. Perhaps she is replacing Eugenie. I’m not sure. At any rate, she’s not paying, and I want her out. My other roommate, Bryanna, decided to verify her presence by leaving out a small piece of paper with peanut butter on it. Apparently mice like peanut butter, and leave their tracks in it. Melba likes peanut butter. In the morning, the entire piece of paper was gone. Bryanna has now turned her attention to the business of inventing traps. Here she is with one of her milk-carton-toilet-paper-roll creations. So far, no Melba. But on the bright side, the whole situation did force me to clean my room.

So I’m going to be caught in a deluge of reading and studying from now almost until I leave for home. I have one paper left to write, and I will be writing four exams in two days, on the 14th and 15th (prayers welcome). I promise to update next Sunday, though. Thank you to all of the gift givers, and to everyone else who’s called and e-mailed to encourage me lately. Have a great week!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

There's a first time for everything.

Hello, everyone!

I think Bible School students are susceptible to metaphors. My greatest life metaphor right now is setting my eyes on the Promised Land, which is home. I go home in 23 days, and I’m floored by how much I have to accomplish before that time. But I’m also realizing what the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” really means. It adds such a sweet dimension to an already wonderful holiday. I’m so excited to see everyone again, and to not have any work to do whatsoever, to be able to relax and catch up.

I wanted to make a list of “first times” in my life in the past month or so. Here goes…

1. First time cooking 1.32 kg of ground beef at once. If I told you why Danice and I had to do this, I would be making you fear for our health, so I won’t. We’re fine. Really. But we have a whole heck of a lot of cooked taco-flavored ground beef that we have to eat fairly quickly. I’ve had too many tacos. If anyone has any ideas of how to use it up without the use of an oven, please comment. Ah, another reason to look forward to home… mom’s cooking…did I mention Danice and I went through 2 kg of peanut butter in a month and a half?

2. First time getting carded at a bar. I went to my swing dance wind-up at the campus bar, aptly named “The Pit”. I was thinking so well that night. I said to myself, Beth, you don’t want to leave your wallet or purse sitting by itself while you’re on the dance floor busting out the moves, so maybe you should leave it at home and just bring a $10 bill and your bus pass in your pocket. Great idea, Beth. Until the bouncer asks you for ID. I pulled out my bus pass, which obviously doesn’t show my age at all. I tried to bribe him with the $10 bill, to no avail. Finally ten of my Regent friends showed up and vouched that I was a grad school student, obviously of age. Obviously mature. Obviously.

3. First time paying $70 for a concert. Yes, I’m going to Coldplay in January. I will finally witness someone pounding the piano harder than I do. I’m pretty excited, but not as excited as Danice. I’m still more excited about coming home.

4. First time eating supper at a professor’s house. I went with my tutorial group to Prof. Sarah Williams’ house lastnight, and it was great. We had such eloquent, important discussions together. Well, other people did. I talked to her 11-yr. old daughter the whole time. We mostly talked about the trials and tribulations of life in grade 6.

5. First time enduring a week of fog. A whole week of fog. Can you imagine it? That’s what all of these photos are showing you. Let me qualify that behind the masts of the boats, there are usually mountains. But one of the photos looks like God smudged the mountains with his thumb. And another shows that the bottom half of downtown Vancouver is engulfed with the stuff. It felt like I was living in a mysterious suspense movie, with danger around every corner. Today it finally turned into rain.

6. First time telling a prof to his face that I would kill. Ha. I’d better explain this one. Have you ever taken a language class and had to drill verb conjugations out loud? Perhaps those of you who have taken French will remember “je mange, tu manges” or “j’aime, tu aimes…”. I wonder if the choice of verb reflects the culture somehow. After all, if there’s anything the French are good at, it’s loving and eating. Hebrew is a different story. The verb my prof has chosen for the purposes of oral verb drills is “katal”, which is “to kill”. There we are, saying, in Hebrew, “I kill, you kill, he kills… we all kill!” I’m sure this will come in handy one day in my journeys to Israel.

7. First time seeing ducks having a conference, and duck racism, and seagulls having a bath, and seagulls lane swimming. I’m serious. They do these things. You just have to watch them a lot like I do.

8. First time playing on a worship team that consisted of me on piano, the leader on guitar, and a tuba. At the Anglican church. Throw in some pipe organ and it all works.

9. First time singing in a gospel choir. Yes, my friend Ben from Boston started a Regent gospel choir, and we rock. Like everything at Regent, it’s entirely multicultural. We are a Canadian-American-Asian-East Indian-British-Australian-New Zealandian choir. Suspiciously lacking in African Americans. But we’ve learned a lot of great things. Like how to all sway in the same direction. If you don’t, and you’re standing in the middle, like me, the two swaying directions converge on you, and that’s awkward.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Have yourselves a happy Thanksgiving (I’m surrounded by Americans, and they bring out my American holiday spirit) and a merry first Sunday of Advent. Daniel and Rachel, good luck in your plays. Chris, get well soon. Dad, happy birthday. A shout out to my grandma in Kentucky, who is a faithful reader of my blog. And also to Kate – I didn’t know I’d known you for so long! I love you all.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

like the dickens

Someone who is very important to me reminded me tonight that I need to make people feel very important to me. Especially if they really are. That person will be loved profusely, now that I know how. But there is another person I could love much better. I don't quite know how, but this is the most recent way she's chosen to love me, so I will share what's been bubbling up inside me.

I miss hearing her singing downstairs, even when she went over one part a million times. She doesn't know how I used to sometimes sit quietly on the stairs to hear better.
I miss stealing her clothes and having her tell me they looked good on me.
I miss limp celery wars, and spaghetti flinging, and her making fun of my wieners and beans.
I miss her fried rice. I miss her chagels.
I miss laughing right out loud at the table with her.
I miss just looking at ther and her knowing.
I miss her Coach Z impressions.
I miss asking her to do the "sue" impression.
I miss her calling me "boots" even though it made no sense.
I miss her turning 1-syllable words into 2 syllables. ga-ross.
I miss her abbreviations. what's the sitch?
I miss her friends. I miss being proud of what a good friend she was to them.
I miss her feeling too hard.
I miss her tears on my shirt.
I miss being a good sister.
I miss singing Christmas songs with her. old favorites. Michael W. Smith.
I miss her stealing the guitar all the time. And the car.
I miss watching her worship.
I miss seeing her love our girls, and know what to say to them.
I miss reading her French papers.
I miss bragging about her to people who knew what I was talking about.
I miss all of things no one else finds funny.
I miss her old self, too, her twitchy nose and her big floppy hat.
I miss watching her play soccer and kick it so hard and hearing her encourage.
I miss her more-mature-than-me-sometimes perspective. I still need it.
I miss her hugs.
I miss her 273 times (or whatever that number was).
I miss her like a racehorse.
I miss her like the dickens.
I'll miss her hard for 26 more days.

love you.
don't take november too hard.
it will not be always winter and never Christmas.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The chili have no extreme limit

Hello all. Thank you for your all of your comments. Quick update on the umbrella situation. Jordan was absolutely right; I would feel too guilty taking someone else’s umbrella. I am, after all, a holy Regent student. On Thursday, I had to walk to the bus stop in the pouring rain, with nothing but my raincoat, which is pitch yellow. (I know pitch is black, but it’s so much fun to misuse. I’m with Sherri all the way!) I tried to make the rain more bearable by imagining it as God’s love pouring down on me. This metaphor didn’t work well, since I hate being wet, but I love being loved by God. Needless to say, I was looking forward to buying a new umbrella. Providentially, when I arrived at school, my umbrella was there! Someone must have brought it back! Dilemma solved. However, the bunnyhug dilemma is still in dilemma-land, so feel free to add your two cents.

Yesterday, my Regent friends, Tora and Julia, hosted a chili and beer night in their basement suite. Actually, it was a cook-off. The only chili recipe I have is Aunt Carol’s recipe, which includes a can of coke. I think it’s great. Danice thought we should substitute it with a can of beer. We had our worst fight ever. Due to my sheer argumentative superiority, she gave in and let me use the coke, so long as she could bring the beer to drink. I purchased most of the ingredients, and started combining them. I realized I didn’t have chili powder, and I was going to do without, until my other roommate, Bryanna (who happens to be the best chef in the whole basement), informed me that you couldn’t make chili without including any chili flavoring. I conceded, and ran out to buy all missing ingredients.

Once I was done, Danice and I left our house with a big, smoking pot of chili. Realizing we were going to miss the bus, we starting running down the street with a big, smoking pot of chili. Can you picture it? Anyway, we made our bus, and soon we arrived at the cook-off, adding our chili to the 8 other entries. I tried most of them. There was chili with tuna in it, chili with chick peas, chili with pineapple… next to all of these, mine was starting to look very plain, coke or no coke.

I awaited the vote results with fear and trembling. The results: our chili tied for fourth place. However, I believe there was a voting scandal of the largest proportions. Dave’s chili came in first. Dave had, unfortunately, misunderstood the nature of the chili and beer event, and, instead of bringing a large pot of chili for all to sample, he had brought a small bowl for his own enjoyment. Nevertheless, he won the competition, I believe, due to pity votes. I believe this merits disqualification, bringing me up to third place. Furthermore, the original second and third place winners were none other than Tora and Julia, the hostesses. Coincidence? I think not. More like conflict of interest. Disqualified. Therefore, our chili clearly came in first. Isn’t it great? I attribute our success to the ambiguity of the word “coke”, which I used in my frequent descriptions of the chili.

The really important part of this story is that I got to choose a prize! I chose the mini-frisbee shooter, mostly because I was so taken by the eloquence of the slogan on the package, which I have represented here in this photo. No extreme limit indeed. Whoever wrote that was surely the Shakespeare of Japan. What caused even greater consternation was the fine print on the sticker on the shooter. I will write it out here for you. All typos are those of Japan’s Shakespeare: “Devil Children Devilisershooter. You two have become devil children who detemine the fate of the world. An omergency occurred just as a spell to summon devils was chanted.”

So, dilemma #3: will I become possessed if I keep this toy? Should I burn it?

Thank you, Tora and Julia, for a great, though possibly soul-endangering party.

P.S. Two of my favorite people in the world have recently written posts about me. Because I want to give them the exposure they are due (and because I am narcissistic), I highly recommend to you and

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Umbrellas and hoodies

Here's a cool picture I took when it finally stopped raining. We had a couple days of sun, and not we're back to clouds. But I'm starting to get used to it.

Today I present you with two dilemmas. Feel free to give me advice.

Dilemma 1: The umbrella.

At Regent, there is an "umbrella area" where people leave their umbrellas. At first, I was wary about leaving my umbrella there, because I paid a good $20 for mine, and I didn't want to lose it. But I was assured by Regent veterans that it was safe. After all, there were much more expensive umbrellas there, and a thief would surely go for one of those first. So I reluctantly left it. Well, at the end of the day, I went to grab my umbrella, and surprise surprise, it was missing. I looked through the whole pile twice. There was one umbrella that was the same colour as mine, but it was obviously much more expensive. So maybe someone accidentally took mine. I checked again today, and that one is still there, and mine is still not. Here is the dilemma - should I take it? Should I take the one that almost looks like mine?

Dilemma 2: Hoodie.

So I used an English term the other day that made people look at me really funny. The thing is, these people were not Asian, Australian, British, or even American. These people were Canadian. The term was 'bunnyhug'. Yes. Just in case you didn't know, Saskatchewan and possibly some parts of Manitoba are the only places that use this term. I personally have never thought about how strange this word is. I have never broken it up into its two root words, "bunny" and "hug". I have never imagined bunnies giving me hugs. But apparently, that's the image that springs into the minds of all non-Prairie people. So they said "cute" and "that's so sweet" and "awwww". Hello. I do not want to elicit those reactions. So this is the dilemma - should I convert to "hoodie" or stay with "bunnyhug"?

I'm sorry this blog entry is so devoid of the deep meaning a student of theology should infuse into everything. It's my busiest week. Must. Write. Paper. But I'm still finding time to go down to the Rock in the morning. The other day, it was just Martin and I. Martin the heron, that is. I watched him fish. He's so freaky - he stands so still and then he just springs into action, with a bill like an ice pick. Crazy. I'm glad I'm not a fish.

That's the deep thought I leave you with. Be glad you're not a fish.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Stop the waterfall

I like waterfalls. I've always thought it would be cool to have a bedroom where one entire wall was a waterfall, perpetually flowing.

Right now, I feel like I'm living underneath a waterfall. It started raining here right as Christine was leaving (is there a link?). Which is about six days ago. Six days of rain. If it's not raining, it's about to rain. I looked up in the sky tonight and thought for a split second I saw the northern lights, but it turned out to be the edge of a cloud.

So Vancouver, right now, is a study in the oatmeal-like consistency of rain-drenched piles of leaves. It's a full bus with fogged up windows and passengers trying to hold dripping umbrellas away from their pants. And then walking off the bus and opening umbrellas in synchronicity. They're like natural extensions of everyone's arms. I would love to see an aerial photo of Vancouver right now, with all of its flowing seas of multicoloured umbrellas.

You would think that in a city like Vancouver, smart people who design university grounds would know how to drain them of excess rainwater build-up. But no. On the contrary. Walking between Regent and the bus stop can require parting the Red Sea. Unfortunately, they haven't taught us how to do that in our spiritual training so far. So we get wet. As Sherri would say, pitch wet.

I'm starting to think a larger investment may have been desirable in the whole umbrella department. The structural integrity of my little maroon umbrella is lacking. Today the wind added to the rain, and twice today my umbrella blew inside out. How embarrassing. Vancouver is a study in how to hold your umbrella so that it won't blow inside out. I have much to learn.

So, I promise you, this is the last time I will write a post solely about rain in Vancouver. How utterly predictable and boring. And cliche.

My apologies.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

A goodbye and a breakthrough

Be warned, this is a long post. Try to make it through, though, it's worth it.

First off, Chris and I forgot to post yesterday. It was a strange sort of day. Christine woke up sick to her stomach, so we spent the majority of the day watching movies. It was ok, though. For one thing, it was pouring outside - our first day of rain since Chris arrived! Which is amazing, considering this is Vancouver, and in Chris' opinion, very disappointing, because she loves the rain. Also, our main plans for the day were "shopping". Anyone who knows me well knows I'm not a big fan of shopping. So I wasn't super disappointed we missed out on it. Christine, however, was quite disappointed that we missed out on shopping, especially when we had supper. You see, for supper, we met her cousin Andrew (also a Regent student) and his wife at a huge mall, where the shopping would have been prime. It was great to meet them, they're both very easy to talk to.

Today (Saturday) was a sad day. Christine woke up feeling better, thankfully. We took the bus to the airport around lunch, and I had to say goodbye to her. I cried some. It's so hard to go from the real thing, the friend in person, to going back to communicating through phone lines and internet connections. Re-introducing an intermediary element. That's a sad thing. But the harder the goodbye, the more joyful the reunion. Christmas is going to be great. So the story of Christine in Vancouver and Blue Spoon and our mutual adventures must sadly end here. It's been one of my favorite weeks of all time, a surreal and joy-filled experience. I couldn't have wished for anything better. That girl is seriously one of God's greatest gifts to me.

I also want to tell you about how I made a breakthrough of sorts tonight. Since the beginning of this Regent thing, I've been hearing repeated warnings against turning my faith into a dry academic study, divorcing my heart from it. I knew I was in danger of becoming too mind-heavy, and of studying for the wrong reasons, since I'm always fighting a tendency to be focused on grades and people-pleasing. This prompted me to write a sort of manifesto back in September. Here's a taste of it:

"I realize that it is entirely possible for a year at Bible School to be futile if my heart is not in the right place. It is not about knowledge; it is about love. I'm not here to learn to be an academic, but to learn to be a worshipper. It is not about marks; it's about transformation. It's not only about thinking; it's about responding. I will interweave my study with intense devotion. I refuse to be a safe observer. I choose to become alive. Professors are not the audience I must please, but the mouthpiece of God. I will not read what professors require so I can pass; I will read what professors love so I can grow. Papers are not chores, they are prayers. I want to learn the truth that I may worship in truth. Above all, I want to learn to love."

So these have been goals of mine for a while now. Tonight I began to see the realization of it, the "internalizing" of something academic. I was reading about the Orthodox theology of Christ and the cross. I came to a quote from Julian of Norwich where she pictures Christ saying, "If I had to have suffered more for you, I would have gladly done it". I was also listening to the new David Crowder CD (thank you Rachel). Suddenly I realized that David Crowder was screaming, "Breathe in deeper now - the wonder of the cross" with all the passion that makes me love David Crowder. It forced me to let it sink in - what Julian of Norwich was saying, the wonder of Christ's willingness to die for us, a love stronger than death... and I cried. Yet it wasn't sentimental at all, it was one of the deepest things I've felt in a long time. Maybe I'm becoming a Christian mystic like Julian... I wouldn't mind.

Anyway, I wanted to share that story with you mostly so I wouldn't forget it, and so I will keep striving for the transformation over and through the academics. But also so you will go out and buy the new David Crowder CD, "A Collision". It is a CD that tells a story, that takes you on a journey, that pulls these cries out of the deepest part of you and helps you express them. It has been comforting me, stirring me, and challenging me all night. As Jared put it, "On a scale of one to ten, I give it a never leaving my CD player". :)

Good night to all of you, and if you remember, pray for me, as I have a lot of work to do over the next little while (I did no reading during reading week!), and it's going to be a struggle to keep my heart in it...

(Chris, I changed the colour of the text in your honour)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Kavna is a Dodgy Bloke


I am Christine and I am feeling much better today. I think my sickness was due to either bad sushi or anxiety. Though it threatens to return as the smell of curry fills the house, I am doing quite well.

Beth and I ventured out to the Aquarium today. It is located in Stanley Park which is a large and pretty area right by downtown. Beth is like a little kid when it comes to marine life; I was a bit more mature but the fish were sooo cool! God is the neatest person. One fish looked like it had a nose and another one looked kinda dorky and was just motoring through the tank. I've never seen that much creativity contained in one place. We saw belugas! The female named Kavna was really big and she looked mischievious. They're quite lumpy if I may say so. We also saw a sea lion that weighed 1000 kg and ate 25 kg of food a day but he was cool. ("I will grant you wishes three if you would just save me....a fish") As you can see, the jellyfish were fantastically translucent and glowing. That is Beth beside an enormous fish. I decided that if the fish were a person, it would be undesirably pear shaped. This is my favorite part of the day. On the way back to the bus we stopped to pick up some neat looking leaves and we were visited by a squirrel. This squirrel was very tame and it approached Beth's leg and hung on for dear life despite several attempts at shaking it free. I finally yelled and it left.

Vancouver is a neat place to be at Halloween. Museums and things have money to plan special events and decorate. Today I discovered a ghost train tour of Stanley Park but we don't have time to go. I'd like to be here more.

Anyways, we've now ended our impromptu dance lessons and it's Dutch Blitz time! 1 day and counting...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The threshold

Hello readers far and wide,

Today's post is short and sweet. Chris and I had a quieter, more laid-back day after yesterday's Victoria adventure. I woke up early, and she woke up late. We went to Regent to play some piano in the Chapel together, to talk to Dave R, and to do some bookstore shopping. After some good sushi, we headed out to watch a new movie, "Elizabethtown", which was one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Made me want to take a road trip. Tonight we've just been relaxing, playing cards, reading, and eating. These are a few of my favorite things.

We realized today that there is a vacation threshold. For three or four days, you can escape from your life without many worries about what you've left behind. But after that, you start thinking about real life. Being away from it can make it worse, because you finally have a chance to look at your life from afar, with some perspective, in a way that isn't possible when you're actually in the middle of it. I think Chris and I were both unsettled by this depth of thought today. We felt a bit lost in all of our thoughts. I, for one, am glad she was here when I was experiencing this lost-ness. I think it made her physically sick though. She's been feeling kind of weird all night, so please pray for her health. I want her to be able to enjoy her last few days here. And frankly, I want to enjoy her. :)

Tomorrow's plans hinge on health. I'd love to see the aquarium and the planetarium...but we'll play it by ear.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Berth of the Ferry Princess

Evan left a comment about how to flip pictures but I'm too tired tonight to figure it out. So you have to keep tilting your head, ok?

Today, we ventured out. We ventured to Victoria. We left bright and early at 7:15 AM and took the buses to catch the ferry at Tsawwassen. You may be wondering how to pronounce this word. All I can tell you is that it rhymes with "Tsaww-awesome". We didn't know what to expect of this ferry. Christine was wondering ifshe could buy ginger ale on it. Turns out there was a whole restaurant on it, and a fast food court, and an arcade and stores and stuff. It was intense. We amused ourselves. As you can see, Christine was a little cold outside on the deck.

Our final destination in Victoria was Butchart Gardens. As you can see from the photos, it was be-autiful. Christine had been there before with her friend Navy Dan (shout out to Dan in Halifax!), so she knew what to expect. She kept making me close my eyes before cool parts, like this fountain, and it took my breath away. Amazing stuff for the biology student, let me tell you.

We were done early, so we went to the Butterfly Gardens. They were also really really cool. There were tons of rare butterflies, and exotic plants, and sweet birds. Check out the pictures of me with the orchids and Christine with the red rasta hair (actually, it's a chenille plant).

The most exciting part of the trip was when we tried to catch the bus back to the ferry, and realized that it didn't stop near the butterfly gardens. I had carefully plotted out all stops and times and transfers, but the butterfly gardens threw a wrench in everything. The closest stop was a forty-minute walk away. Unfortunately, we had to arrive in ten minutes if we wanted to catch our bus, otherwise we'd miss the ferry and wait another two hours for the next one. Christine was despairing. Suddenly, I had a drastic loss of inhibitions, and I asked some complete strangers if they would drive us to the bus stop. I figured that if they were exiting butterfly gardens, they weren't overly dangerous. So we rode in the bed of their pick-up truck and caught the bus! Hooray!

The trip home was a little long. We were tired and hungry and a little crazy. Christine kept hearing her least favorite Nickelback songs. So we began singing Raffi songs. I think we scared people around us. We also felt that we were a visible minority, since most of the people around us were Asian. Most of them were wearing pointy-toed stiletto boots. As you can see, Blue Spoon kept his spirits up.

Now we are home, and we're going to watch "Bewitched". Tsaww-awesome.

- Beth

Monday, October 24, 2005

park it like a seabus

Today was a fun day!

The transit website wasn't working last night so our plans to visit Butchart Gardens were foiled until tomorrow. So today we went to Lynn Canyon. It took us quite a while by bus to get there but we got to take the seabus. It's like this wide two-way vehicle that floats across the water to North Vancouver. It was very beautiful. The city today was kind of foggy and everything looked like it was colored in shades of blue.

The sun came out when we got to Lynn Canyon so it was warm enough that Beth took off 3 of her 4 layers. We walked for a long time and got some nice pictures. We took a wrong turn at one point and ended up walking along a treacherous cliff for a while. Blue Spoon really enjoyed the trip too. We ate lunch on the rocks by the 30 ft pool. We saw a guy who looked like Bob Dylan. He looked contemplative and we figured he was maybe thinking about drowning himself in the clear refreshing water, but in the end he just watched us eating lunch whilst balancing on a rock. Somewhere around the time we got off track, we tried to cross the creek on lone rocks. I finally convinced Beth that it wasn't safe. phew.

Btw, sorry about the pictures being sideways, we still haven't figured out how to turn them around. Our last picture is of a sign at the park, detailing the different ways you can die by falling into the water. Ha.

When my hip started to hurt, we took the bus back home. We went by the Daily Planet again but it was gone. Then Beth wrote her blog from yesterday- so make sure to read that one.

Our neatest surprise was when we discovered the Haunted Vancouver Trolley Tour! Tonight we went to 23 haunted places in Vancouver- including the cemetery and the old morgue. We watched a simulation of an autopsy and found out that a famous actor from the 30s got dissected there. woot. It was very fun.

So that's all for today. Tomorrow we have to be up really early. Travel time will total 8 hours to Butchart Gardens. See ya!

10 Easy Steps to Anglicanism

Dear loyal readers,

Our apologies for the late post. I am pretending it is still Sunday. Happy Sunday to you all.

Today is perhaps our least adventurous day in the full adventure. It was an adventure in doing next to nothing. But very enjoyable. Christine mostly tried to fix my poor little virus-laden laptop. To no avail. And I mostly sat beside her and watched TV. Like "Be the Creature"! What a good show! And Blue Spoon offered her helpful tips and anecdotes from his cozy laptop position, as you can see.

Pretty much our only adventure was a plunge into the world of Anglicanism. Christine and Blue Spoon decided to accompany me to my new church, St. John's Anglican. After frolicking in the leaves, that is. We arrived at church, and Christine felt that this denomination was meeting some of her deepest needs. She quickly converted. Just a word of warning to any of you on the Emmanuel staff who may be perusing this blog. If you do decide to let her keep working for you, she may bring up ideas about adding a pipe organ to the Emmanuel sanctuary. She has big plans for this pipe organ, including musical lights and fountains. Be wary. That's pretty much our whole Sunday in a nutshell, besides the incredible piece of cheesecake we consumed on the way home. But I wouldn't want to make you jealous.
Thanks be to God.

- Beth

P.S. 10 steps to Anglicanism

10 - Learn to kneel.
9 - Say "Thanks be to God" after reading Scripture.
8 - Say "Hear our Prayer" after "Lord , in your mercy".
7 - Sing a Robin Mark song.
6 - Adopt an English accent.
5 - Play a postlude.
4 - Sit on a hard bench.
3 - Use an accordion in worship.
2 - Bust out the pipe organ.
1 - Have tea. And possibly crumpets.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Blue Spoon Goes To Smallville

As day two in Vancouver comes to an end, we'd like to introduce you to Blue Spoon. We discovered him in a frozen yogurt shop in the big circular library and because Beth fell in love with him, I said he could come with us on our adventures.

The day began slowly, as Beth's roommates kept us up watching Freddy vs Jason. We just can't seem to escape that movie. Our adventures took us downtown on a walking tour. Thank you Daniel for the Vancouver guide book that made this all possible. After meeting Blue Spoon, we visited some nice waterfalls; here he is in a sculpture. Then we took him to the art gallery. Blue Spoon and I enjoyed being together. He especially liked swimming in the fountain.

On the way to the ocean, we accidentally walked through the filming of an episode of Smallville. Of course, I'm no stranger to the Daily Planet. We watched some extras wearing suits walk back and forth for a while. Superman didn't show up so we left.

Blue Spoon's favorite was when we got to go to the moon. We have posted an eerie picture of him at the Imax. Beth and I were there too- and we got to wear stylish glasses. It was a very fun afternoon. They were pile driving for the new convention centre they're building for the 2010 Olympics.

We spent some time at Jacob's Well too, where Beth will be volunteering this year. It was a good experience to see how some people live.

Well, tonight we're watching 'What the Bleep do We Know?' and Blue Spoon is joining us. He's concerned about the possibility of foul language.

We miss you and love you all very much.

P.S. I forgot to thank Mrs. Kulyk yesterday for the chokecherry jelly. I had some this morning on my toast and it was delicious!

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Hedge of Reason

Christine has forced me to change the colour of my blog text. This is hedge-green.

Yes! She is here. And life is finally complete again. She arrived this morning and she's not leaving until I say so. This is Christine. Beth asked a stranger for directions to the arrival gate. As a result she wasn't waiting for me when I got there and I finally tracked her down at the other end of the airport. Some best friend. Oh! I got to sit beside hunters from California though. Their camouflage outfits made me feel at home.

Beth is in the hedge-green colour. Just in case you're having trouble and thinking I am schizophrenic. This blog, for a week, will be the chronicles of Beth and Chris. Two voices. Two songs. Two threads interweaving through the beautiful hedges of Vancouver. One mess of a blog. Oh, you be quiet. Anyway, check often - we're hoping to update often. And in my defense about the airport thing..
. actually, I have no defense. What can I say? I'm a very trusting person. I forgive her for her critical spirit, though. She brought me a lot of good things! Thanks, mom, for the great comforter cover and baking. Mmm...baking... And Rachel, for the CD.

So today we went to a place called Pleasure Island... whoops, Granville Island. There was a lot of pleasure. Yes. We mostly walked into stores and admired beautiful things and enormous price tags. There was a store full of dragons and knights. There was a store full of over-priced umbrellas. We almost bought a fish. But Christine got really tired really fast because she's a big wimp, so we left, right after
my close encounter with some mallards.

After some spaghetti and a movie, we went out walking in the dark. We had deep thoughts. Imagine singing "Praise Adonai" - "mountains bow down, every ocean roars" - when you're standing right on the shore of an ocean overlooking incredible mountains! The lights of North Vancouver and downtown were breathtaking. I taught Chris a valuable life lesson: red means port, green means starboard. We saw a lot of great houses, worth millions of dollars. We are going to be so sore in the morning. My flanks hurt.

Well, that's it for now. Chris says that she gets to write most of it tomorrow. We'll see. I'm not sure I feel like letting her commandeer my blog. Blog this! Fine.

Beth... (and Chris)

Monday, October 17, 2005

No, these photos have not been digitally altered.

Fall is falling and it is becoming fall and here is a leaf to prove it. Everything natural in Vancouver is supersized, of course (notice the size of my feet). Here is a run-of-the-mill Vancouver leaf. I love this place. Below this picture is a duck one, because I also wanted to show you the synoptic ducks, joined by John today.

I am not thinking clearly enough to be very intelligible tonight. I'm afraid Christine is coming to visit me in a mere 4 days, and this prospect I find thoroughly distracting. I was thinking about it at church, on the bus, while I walked. She is my best friend and we are going to have the best of times. Actually, she is one of the best-kept secrets on this planet. Oh the things I wish everyone knew about her! I'm so excited to be with her again that I might not even get through this post. I'll do my best.

Thanksgiving was good - I accompanied Sam and Cindie to a meal at the house of a couple from their church. Other than a brief directionally-challenged moment (I got lost on the way to their house and had to call them from a car repair shop), the evening was great. I really appreciated their hospitality. And their homemade pumpkin pie. And I mostly appreciated Sam and Cindie not bringing up the directionally-challenged moment. Ha. I'll just blame Danice's directions.

I spent this past weekend in the town of White Rock, with Shauna Milner. That is where she works now. You should see her office - it's huge! Anyway, I did a guitar workshop for some people in her church, and in return, she bought me gelato! This gelato stuff is incredible; I don't know why I never tried any in Europe. It's like ice cream times 50. 50 times everything ice cream is. We saw some ducks (Shauna, I checked my book - they're called surf scoters), and, of course, the famous White Rock of White Rock. I'm not sure what the story is behind this rock. But I suppose it's worthy of naming a whole city. It was really fun to hang out with Shauna and meet some people in her church. Plus I didn't even have to cook.

I returned to Vancouver to "audition" for a worship guy at St. John's Anglican church. I suppose I passed, because I get to play at their evening service once or twice a month. I'm stoked. After my "audition", I had some time to kill before the service started, so I took the bus downtown and wandered around for a while. Guess what I bought? You'll never guess. Nope. Try again. Nope. One more guess. Yes! You're right! An umbrella! It's not quite what I wanted as far as originality. But it was cheap, and it's purple. That will most likely cheer me up when it's raining. It was, needless to say, a momentous day.

So I've realized that the world is small. Or, at very least, the Baptist Union world. In the past week alone, I've met Carie Timm's youth pastor from South Africa, a good friend of Andrew Milton's (who met me briefly at camp four years ago), someone who went to seminary with my dad in Kentucky, and someone who stayed with Patrick and Ria in Belgium for a couple weeks (where I lived for 8 months). These things are rather scary. But fun. Oh great, now I have "It's a small world after all" in my head.

Well, it's late. I should get to bed. I'd like to read 2nd Samuel, 1st Kings and 2nd Kings tomorrow. That would be nice. When I write you next, I will have truckloads of pictures and adventures with CK to share.


P.S. I like Jordan's name - the bald eagle is hereby named "Theobald".

P.P.S. Some people have been expressing concern about the rather large starfish I approached and whose picture I took for my last blog entry. I wanted to notify you that the situation seems to be worsening... check out this rock...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Happy Birthday to my blog

This is my 22nd post. I am also 22 years old. Happy birthday, blog. That makes logical sense, doesn't it? Well, at very least, Happy Thanksgiving, blog.

The first news that I simply must share with you is that MY PHONE WORKS! Yes, the Webcall people finally produced the magic. So I can call and receive calls and be on the internet all at the same time. Therefore if you have my number, you should give me a Happy Thanksgiving call. Or just a brief hello. Heck, I don't even mind if you're soliciting.

The pictures on this blog entry are brought to you by Bowen Island. "Bowen Island - a beautiful choice for your next personal retreat!" Ok, I made that up. But it IS a beautiful place. For your next retreat. Or even for a picnic. My favorite experience on the Island was when I broke the rules of my solitude to ask a little boy what he was doing - he was turning over rocks by the shore and squealing in delight. He quickly showed me that every rock had a dozen or so little crabs under it, and they went scuttling off when you moved the rock. So I gladly joined him in his game for a while. When I got home, I reprimanded Danice for failing to tell me the secret of the rocks, which I could not have known, coming from Saskatoon. She said, "You don't have crabs?" Which was a very funny question on its own. I informed her that the only crabs I'd ever seen in Saskatoon were in big aquariums in Safeway. And in my grandma's salads.

Here's another wildlife story for you. The other day, I was sitting on the Rock and I saw this bird flying in my direction. I said to myself, "That is not a seagull. That is not even a crow." I fumbled for my binoculars like the geek that I am, and followed the magnificent creature with them as it flew directly over my head. I gasped - "That was a real live honest-to-goodness BALD EAGLE!" I'm not sure, but I believe I actually said that out loud. One of the synoptic ducks seemed to be sniggering at me. But anyway, the reason I include this story in my blog is that I can't think of a name for this bald eagle. I feel like it has to be a really regal, majestic name, not like Martin or Phil or Spencer, some of my other Rock friends. So if you have a name suggestion for a real live bald eagle, please let me know in a comment. Ah, audience participation.

I should probably talk briefly about my classes. Hebrew is extremely frustrating right now. Too many rules and too many exceptions to those rules that the textbook doesn't seem concerned about sharing with you. Old Testament is my favorite class. My prof has a question box. Yesterday, someone asked whether the Pentateuch wasn't really a hobbit (think Peregrin Took). Yes, we Regent students are witty. My prof, who is Scottish and Tolkien-obsessed, spoke for about three minutes about the genealogy of the Took family. Ha. In my Christian Spirit class, we learned about Simon Stylites, who spent 36 years of his life on the top of a 60-foot pillar (to prove his devotion to God). Finally, my Christian Thought and Culture class gives me a chance to ponder the large questions, like the Trinity, and usually drives me crazy in a good way.

No, I still haven't bought a raincoat or an umbrella. The thing with the umbrella is I feel like it should be cool. I don't want Vancouverians to look at me and say, "Look at that girl with the cheap, ugly umbrella. She's most definitely from the prairies." So you see, I need to make a bold statement. There is also the question of portability (ie. small and flimsy) vs. durability (large and awkward). People tell me there is an umbrella store here. Just for umbrellas. $100 ones with lifetime guarantees. Crazy Vancouverians.

Well, this is getting long. I'd better save Jacob's Well stories for another day. Enjoy your turkey!


P.S. Christine comes to visit me in 14 days! Woot!