A Pathetic Goal for 2011

I had a day to myself early in January. While I was sitting in a coffee shop I decided to think about some goals for the year. One of those goals was to read 12 books in 2011. Yes, I said 12.

I love to read. But I honestly can’t say that I have read 12 books in the last 2 years. Thus, the reason for making a goal of reading one book per month.

And guess what!? I read 2.5 books in January alone! Yahoo! Following in the footsteps of Jon, I will be giving the books I read this year a rating out of ten. So here they are, the illustrious books that have thus far reached my night table this year:

First I read The Bell by Iris Murdoch. Iris Murdoch is a great author, I have discovered. She is well worth reading. I hope to make it to the library in the next few days to find another of her novels.

As for The Bell in particular, the subject matter was at times uncomfortable. Overall, though, I found I had trouble putting down and didn’t want it to end. I think that’s a good sign!

* 7.5/10

Next, I read Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie. I am embarrassed to admit that this was my first Agatha Christie read. I enjoyed it a lot, too.

It was a fun read with lots of twists. This is what I would call a holiday book: the kind that you bring on vacation and read when you get the chance, whether it’s 5 minutes here or an hour there.

* 6/10

I have also been reading Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. This is one that I have read before but in December I decided give it another, more thorough read-through. I don’t fully agree with everything that Kimmel says. I have also found it a bit daunting at times. But I love the basic idea behind this book and it has challenged me in many aspects of parenting. I will hold off on giving it a rating until I finish this reading of it.

Give me a while for this one!


I have not included this little number in my 2.5 books read so far this year. Another goal that I have this year is to read through the Bible in chronological order in 6 months.


The Lord’s Prayer – Give us what we need each day… Part One

Many years ago, we wanted to teach Elijah and Brady The Lord’s Prayer. We also wanted it to make some sense to them, so Jon made a kid-friendly version. We would say it together each night at bedtime and it went something like this:

Our Father in Heaven, Your name is great!
We want You to have Your way
On Earth just like in Heaven.
Please give us what we need each day;
Forgive all our bad things as we forgive each other.
Help us to do good; save us from evil.
For the world is Yours, and the power and the glory,
Forever and ever. Amen. So be it.

It was a nice way to finish off a day with the boys, praying the words that Jesus prayed.

A few months ago Jon began a series during our Sunday morning services at The Mission on The Lord’s Prayer. This time, he decided that instead of using his kid-friendly version (which he says he would change now anyway), he’d go back to the original (non-KJV) version. It was a 6 week series and each week the kids would review the part of the prayer that they had learned up to that point and then Jon would give a brief ‘lesson’ on that day’s section. It was a wonderful opportunity to study Scripture intergenerationally. (But that’s a bit off topic.)

So, anyway, the last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about this special prayer and what I can learn from it afresh. The line that has been jumping out at me again and again is:

‘Give us this day our daily bread’ or in our kid-friendly version, ‘Give us what we need each day’.

I am reminded, once again, that what Jesus taught us to pray was not that God would provide what we need in the future, but what we need today.

What do we need today? Sometimes I think that what I need today is some assurance that God will provide for us tomorrow. But in truth, he’s already given me that, I am just good at forgetting it. If I am thinking clearly, I can look back on my life and see so many times when God provided (sometimes quite miraculously, I would say) for us. More times than that, I admit, I can look back and see times when I have worried and stressed and cried out to God, desperate for him to provide for tomorrow, unable to rest in the knowledge that God had provided in the past and would continue to take care of us each day.

At the moment, I find myself in that same place, restless and worried about our future finances. Do I think that things are going to change and that God is suddenly going to stop providing for us? No. But I worry that we are not being good stewards of what God has given us; I wonder if we are spending frivolously on extras we don’t need. And that doesn’t sit well with me.

Oh that I would truly live simply and with a thankful heart, fully aware of Who has given me everything I have, which is more than I need or deserve or ever imagined He would bless me with.

It’s been a while

We’ve had a busy month or so.

There were lots of things going on in December, not the least of which, was Brady’s sixth birthday!

Happy Birthday Brady!

And another valiant attempt at doing a Jesse tree leading up to Christmas day. Maybe by next year I’ll have my act in gear enough to do it all the way to Epiphany. That’s my goal, anyway.

Our first 11 days of advent. I forgot to take a picture on/after Christmas day. (More on the Jesse tree later.)

And of course, Christmas,

Christmas jammies from Grandma & Grandpa Z

which included a visit from Dave and Amy and began very stressfully with a call from the police letting us know they had been in a car accident near Glasgow. Thankfully, Amy ‘only’ had whiplash and a sprained wrist and Dave’s broken back was stable so Jon was able to bring them home on Christmas Eve!

Despite the broken back, Dave was a trooper and we were able to get out and about and see lots of good stuff with them before they headed back home.

It was a wonderfully foggy day at Dunnottar

Saying goodbye in Edinburgh

Lonely toothbrush

Jon just returned after being away for 27 hours. (He went to the Arcade Fire concert in Glasgow with some friends. He loved it, by the way!)

It has been a pretty full 27 hours, so the time went by pretty quick. But still, every time I was in the bathroom I felt sad. Seeing my toothbrush all alone in its glass made me very aware that something was missing; something wasn’t right. I just came back from the bathroom for the first time since he got home and my heart is happy and full. My toothbrush isn’t alone any more! Things feel right again.

Convenience vs Good Stewardship: Dishes

I was standing at the sink, doing dishes and not enjoying it, when I started to think about how addicted to convenience we (as a society) have become.

Convenience is defined on as:

1. The quality of being suitable to one’s comfort, purposes, or needs
2. Personal comfort or advantage
3. Something that increases comfort or saves work

I guess it’s not a new thing to desire comfort and to want to save on work. I bet you could argue that society’s been evolving all along with one of its goals being to increase comfort by making work easier. But sometimes I think that it is getting ridiculous! For example:

1. We need paper plates and plastic cups so we don’t have to deal with dishes;
2. We can’t live without dishwashers and microwaves to speed things up;
3. We buy in bulk and need massive freezers to store our reserves;
4. We have keyless entry systems, remote car starters, portable dvd players, hand-held game consoles;
5. We must have mobile phones so we can contact the spouse/a friend/the police in an emergency, but not just any phone;
6. We need iPhones and the like, with a massive amount of apps (preferrably free), so we can access the internet, read a book or play a game, at any moment, from anywhere;
7. We need satellite TV and a PVR so we never miss our favourite shows and we can skip the boring stuff;
8. I could go on, but I think I will choose to end it there…

Our current flat has a dishwasher. We’ve been living here since 16 July — so it’s been 4.5 months — and I think we’ve only used it 6 or 7 times so far. Why, you might ask, especially if neither of us enjoy doing dishes? The short answer is that I don’t want to run the dishwasher, wasting energy and water, when I am perfectly capable of hand-washing dishes. But is that the best use of my time?

I want to be a good steward of my time. I want to be a good steward of the world’s resources, whether they are renewable or not. I want to be a good steward of our finances. I want to make every moment of every day count.

I know that because of the age and abilities of the dishwasher here and the number of dishes we have at our disposal, using it will waste energy, time and money. Which means we’re washing by hand.

So maybe, instead of trying to get the dishes done before the kids are in bed so we don’t have to worry about them after the kids are in bed, we just need to suck it up. Some days (most, I think), it will be more important to have some time with the family than to get the dishes done before 8 o’clock. Others, one of us might need to spend some time at the sink, enjoying the sounds of happy kids playing with their daddy/mommy so later we can have a date night — one that isn’t taken up by doing dishes! Instead of thinking of it as a terrible chore, I choose to think of doing the dishes by hand as an expression of love and another chance to make an ethical decision rather than giving in and choosing convenience.

Christmas trees: Artificial vs Real

I have had it in my mind for the last many years that I am doing the world a favour by using an artificial Christmas tree. There was no way that anyone could tell me that buying a real tree each year and then throwing it out 2 weeks later was a better option for the environment (or my pocket book) than buying a fake tree and using it for many years.

For whatever reason, I decided to do some online searches on the subject this evening.

Of course, what I was looking for was environmental and health issues. I was shocked to discover a number of sites that didn’t touch on the subject at all when comparing artificial and real trees! What year is this?! Are people really that out of touch that they can’t discuss the environmental issues?

Anyway, it turns out that there are plenty of organizations (and individuals) that can give loads of reasons for their opinion and against the opposing view. For example, artificial trees are made from PVC, which is not recyclable (see this Greenpeace article for more information) and if they are old, contain lead. Lots of trees have warnings on/in their boxes that tell you not to eat or inhale particles that come out of the box or off the tree. That’s a bit alarming…

On the other hand, real trees are recyclable and, if bought from a local nursery and not the chain store that ships them in, provide work in your community, save on shipping and pollution, etc. They smell good. BUT they are messy and pokey and can only stay up for a short amount of time. In the end, they cost more.

The best option is to go with a live Christmas tree. That’s right, one with the roots still attached. That way you can plant it in your yard after Christmas! (Keep in mind, if you live anywhere cold then you can only have it in your house for a very limited amount of time so that it doesn’t wake up, start to grow, and then die when it goes back out in the cold.) This would be really expensive to do each year. And how much room do you have in your yard to plant spruce trees?

Needless to say, my opinion has changed. I really don’t know what I think any more, but at least I got my butt kicked out of thinking fake trees were the way to go.

What do you think?

Aberdeen is awesome

I love it here in Aberdeen. The pace of life is different than it was in Canada. Tonight we were walking on busy streets in the rain and everyone seemed so calm. I appreciated that! Drivers are generally more considerate and seem to be less rushed than I remember them back home, too. The weather is never too hot and never too cold. We are minutes from the North Sea. There are numerous castles and cool places to take day trips to. We have some great friends and a church family we love. Our flat is cozy and warm and we have a great little garden out back.

Okay, this is Eilean Donan on the west coast, but we have castles around here, too!

One of the funnest things about living here has been learning the lingo and listening to Elijah and Brady pick up Scottish accents and sayings. I’ve been working on a list of some of the words we’ve learned or started using since moving here almost 15 months ago. I’m quite certain that I’m missing lots, but here’s a start.

wellies = rubber boots
vest = undershirt
waistcoat = vest
jumper = sweater/sweatshirt
trousers = pants
pants = underwear
winter hat = toque
nappies = diapers

Places and Things:
football = soccer
North American football = football
cot = crib
flat = house or apartment
garden = yard
sitting room/lounge = living room/family room
vestibule = entry hall
toilet = restroom
loo = toilet
rubbish = garbage
rubbish bin or just bin = garbage can
city centre = down town
pavement = sidewalk
dual carriageway = highway
roundabout = traffic circle
lorry = cargo truck
petrol = gasoline
boot = trunk
bonnet = hood
wind screen = windshield
surgery = doctor’s office
paddling pool = wading pool
flumes = water slides
queue = line
rota = schedule
head teacher = principal
depute head teacher = vice-principal
nursery = playschool and/or daycare
creche = nursery
jotter = notebook
rubber = eraser
floor brush = broom (you brush the floor, you don’t sweep)
hoover = vacuum (also used as a verb and a noun)
corn flour = cornstarch
bicarbonate of soda = baking soda
biscuit = cookie
crisps = chips
chips = fries
pudding = dessert
courgette = zucchini
aubergine = eggplant
fizzy drink = pop/soda
squash = concentrated juice
bloke = man
mobile = cellular phone
bairn = child
mate = friend
ben = mountain
loch = lake
pram = stroller
trolley = grocery cart
drugs = street drugs not over the counter or prescription medications
sick = puke (to say you were sick means you threw up, not that you were unwell)
fortnight = 2 weeks
redundant = here you are not laid off from a job, you are made redundant

Descriptive words:
moreish = said of something that makes you want more
daft = foolish; stupid
fit = good looking
gutted = disappointed
mingin’ = dirty
cracking = great/very enjoyable (ie. ‘We had a cracking time.’)
cheeky = cheeky (but they say it a lot here)
chuffed = very happy/excited

Sayings and phrases:
‘sling your hook’ = ‘get out of here’
‘have a blether’ = to ‘have a chat’ (Jesse was called a blether when he was talking a lot)
‘ring’/’bell’ = here you don’t say you’ll call someone, you say you’ll ‘ring them’ or ‘give them a bell’
‘ta’ = thank you (said by people of all ages, not just babies)
‘ah dinnae ken’ = ‘I don’t know’
‘nae bad’ = ‘not bad’
‘aye’ = ‘yes’
‘cheerio’ = ‘goodbye’
‘cheers’ = ‘thanks’

Things you hear much more often:
‘as well’ (you don’t hear ‘too’ or ‘also’ much)
‘baddies’ = ‘bad guys’
‘goodies’ = ‘good guys’

So tell me, what else am I missing?